Well here are some tips to maintain your Arowana and the Aquarium; the Arowana’s eating habits produce a lot of waste and you should therefore, pay extra attention to water conditions in your aquarium. Changing 25% to 35% of the water weekly is advisable, or better yet, 20% twice a week. You should maintain the pH neutral. Pay particular attention to the temperature and pH ranges suggested below on the various species, since if you have it too warm, it might cause them to age faster, look less Arowana, and even shorten their life. A to cold temperature might on the other hand kill them.
Generally, a good healthy Arowana Fish will grow to be at least 24 to 30 inches (60-75cm). Some varieties can become 48 inches (120 cm) in the wild. They may be aggressive (definitely not good community fish), and Arowana fish can sometimes be best kept alone in an aquarium. Remember that other smaller fish in the tank may become their dinner.
Arowana fish will often swim in the top of the aquarium, and are capable of jumping from the aquarium. Keep the aquarium well covered to avoid coming home to a dead pet. Silver Arowana Fish in the wild have been known to jump at insects in trees as read in a comic J.
Arowana Fish may live for many years, and if well cared for Arowana fish may live longer than 20 years in captivity. If you keep the aquarium temperature towards the lower end, they may look young longer than they would in a higher temperature. Please pay particular attention to each Arowana Fish’s needs below.
The Asian Arowana or Golden Arowana (Scleropages formosus) is considered an endangered species. Care should be taken to follow the law in purchasing and transporting them. Asian Arowana fish generally can grow to about 36 inches, and are often much more expensive then the other Arowana species. These are well known and popular South East Asia where they are believed to bring luck. Feeding them healthy Guppies, Gold Fish, Frogs, or Shrimp makes a good stable diet. The temperature is best kept between 75 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (24-30 C), and a pH level between 7.0 and 7.5 are advisable.
Well about their Vastu value:
Generally people say that by growing these kind of fishes, we get mental relaxation, by and large its true because When we watch the movements of these colour fishes our mind gets relaxed.
When we try to attach the Vastu element to these fishes, they are seen as a balancing element, When these live colourful fishes are grown in houses, it brings prosperity and happiness in one’s life and I have been experiencing it too...
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
This is one of the most commonly kept African Cichlids and is THE most common Malawi Cichlid to be kept in home aquariums. It is a Rock dwelling Mbuna and is a maternal mouthbrooder. The reasons for its popularity are primarily its looks, size and temperament but, fairly obvious sexing, and ease of breeding contribute to keep this in the Top Ten of African Cichlids!
The most popular and widespread form of Labidochromis Caeruleus is a Bright Yellow - hence its common names (Both Males and Females are Yellow with the Males having black pigment in their finnage). In fact it exists in Blue and White and in the wild the Yellow version is only to be found in the Northeast part of the lake between Charo and Lions Cove.
Yellow Labs are a dwarf species and can reach a length of 10-13 cm (4-5 in.). The females are commonly smaller than the male (2-3 in).
Lab. Caeruleus is a quiet and peaceful Mbuna, and is a perfect cichlid for Aquarists moving from Community fishkeeping to the colourful world of Cichlids. However, be warned, a quiet and peaceful Cichlid is still a Cichlid, Yellow labs are not suitable for adding to your community tank and doing so may well result in not only, rather fewer fish than you start with but also unhappy fish all around.
Adult dominant males are extremely easy to sex - They have Black Anal and Ventral Fins and a Black Dorsal Fin with a bright yellow top stripe, as they age they also develop more Black pigment leading to a jet black underside and Charcoal Stripes on its body, from the front they look as though they are wearing a Mask . Sub dominant males are harder to sex in that whilst they will usually also have black Anal/Ventral fins the black pigment is far less pronounced leading to easy confusion between sub dominant Males and Females.
Female Yellow Labs are a paler/pastel version of the Males - They tend not to have any black Anal/Ventral fins these instead being a pale yellow, The Females tend to be much smaller than the Males although this difference is not obvious as Juveniles when all the Fish are the same size.
Labidochromis caeruleus is one of the easiest mouthbrooders to breed. Either buy five or six juvenile fish (try for a ratio of at least two females to each male) and grow them on. They will breed from around six months of age or about 1-1/2 inches in length. Or buy Trios of Adults in the same ratio. Breeding occurs as for many mbuna. The Male will select a spawning site, it could be on a piece of Slate or on the bare bottom. He will flirt with all the females until one responds and follows him. The female deposits the eggs in the immediate area, and the male follows fertilizing the eggs. The female returns and picks up the eggs holding them in her buccal cavity (beneath lower Jaw/throat) and also deposits more eggs. This can go on for about an hour. The female will then hide out and begin to brood. (The male starts looking for the next female - his involvement at an end).
Females are generally good "holders" and will refuse food for up to four weeks. Because going for food for so long weakens the female it is a good idea to remove her from the Main tank into a separate tank anytime after you see her obviously "Holding". This means that after she has released the Fry you can feed her up before returning her to her often boisterous tankmates. Upon release of the Fry she will continue to care for them for about a week given the opportunity and providing she has plenty of food the fry should be in no danger. The actual time she will hold depends on a number of factors and Temperature plays a significant part with release times recorded of 25 days at 27-28° C (81-82° F) or 40 days at 23-24° C (73-75° F) so somewhere between these would be the average. The number of Fry is generally quite small with Young females producing 5-8 Fry and older more experienced fish producing up to 15.
Keeping Labidochromis Caeruleus in the home Aquarium
pH: 7.7 - 8.6 (This is the variation found in Lake Malawi) Aim for midpoint.
Hardness: Aim for 8-10 KH and a little higher ideally for GH (Most aquarists think all Rift lakes are extremely hard water-This is not necessarily so) Aim for Harder end of scale to achieve regular spawning.
Temperature: 73-82 F (23-28 C)
Minimum Aquarium size 120 Litres, Ideal size from 300 Litres upwards.
Décor: Provide Lots of Rock work/Caves and fine Gravel or Sand as substrate. Whilst they do not dig up plants they will often eat them so Plants happy in their environment would be those such as Java Fern.
Filtration: Lake Malawi is a lake so vast that there is no measurable pollution, in the wild, Malawi fish would never have to cope with Ammonia or Nitrite OR Nitrate, therefore you should aim at keeping your water conditions as close to perfect as possible. The only way to do this is via Efficient Filtration and regular water changes. Undergravel filters are not really suitable for any Mbuna due to their digging habits so I would recommend a Good quality External or Internal Power filter or two. Malawi fish require well oxygenated water achieved by good surface movement and are high waste producing fish. Therefore your filter should ideally turn tank water over at least 5 times an hour but bear in mind that it is not necessary to have white water rapids at the surface.
Labidochromis Caeruleus are Mbuna and Mbuna need vegetables (herbivores) while other Cichlids mainly feed in high protein, frozen and even live foods (omnivores, carnivores or piscivores). Providing Yellow Labs with too much protein may cause the Malawi bloat disease which is extremely difficult to be treated and usually fatal. Restrict food stuffs to good quality Flake food with a high vegetable content and pellets and alternate these with High vegetable content frozen food, Lettuce on a clip (Labs love Lettuce!), shelled peas and once a week or so Live brine shrimp. Avoid Tubifex and blood worms because although they will eat it with relish, tubifex worms should be avoided since they are reported to carry many microorganisms which may harm your fish. Leave them without any food at least once a week.
Monday, December 14, 2009
L. caeruleus is understandably one of the more popular Cichlids in the hobby, always being in demand. This is due to its bright yellow coloring and its more docile temperment. This latter attribute makes this African Cichlid a compatable tank mate for virtually hundreds of other Cichlids. Dear to the hearts of many cichlidophiles, this mbuna gets housed with peacocks, featherfins, lamprologus, and of course other mbuna. Its omnivorous diet also makes it a versatile addition to just about any setup.
The "Electric Yellow" morph is just one of almost a dozen different morphologies seen in this species through out the lake. These other morphs go either unnoticed, ignored, or forgotten by most hobbyists because of the omnipresent availability of the "Electric Yellow". This color variant, while more rare in the lake, enjoys a distribution in the hobby that would easily out number the wild population by probably several hundred-fold. In fact, the "Electric Yellow" that is so popular today was only recently discovered (about 15 years ago). The discovery and subsequent public offering of this mbuna constitutes a very colorful tale.
L. caeruleus was first identified in 1956 by G. Fryer. He described this fish as normally being white, with a black stripe through the dorsal fin, which would become a pale blue cast in breeding males (probably the morph from Nkhata Bay, Malawi). Believe it or not, this species was named caeruleus (meaning "blue" in Latin) for this very reason. It wasn't until around 1980 that this xanthic color variant was discovered by Stuart Grant and his divers. Grant et. al supposedly discovered a small colony of "Electric Yellows" at Lion's Cove, Malawi.
Stuart Grant only collected a few specimens, but refused to mass-collect and export them because of the population's small numbers, fearing that they would be pushed into extinction. Then two Swedish collectors paying a visit to Stuart Grant noticed these beautiful, bright yellow mbuna in his tanks and requested that he collect and export some for them. The story is that when he declined, these two Swedes bribed some of his divers, who knew right where they were located. They then returned to Sweden with two yellow labs, unbeknownst to Grant
From what I have read, these two yellow labs were then given as a gift to Pierre Brichard, who was very impressed by them. This is where the story gets really interesting: Brichard then took them back to his fishing operation in Burundi, along Lake Tanganyika (of all places!) and bred some 20,000 fish, all related to that pair. Quite amazing. And he did this in less than six years time. Then, in 1986 he made them available to the public, selling them for a hefty price from what I hear. Brichard ended up making a good dollar off that pair, while Stuart Grant on Lake Malawi, who found the fish in the first place, was left holding the bag.
The story of the yellow lab doesn't end here, my friends. When Brichard put his yellow labs on the market in 1986, he called them "Labidochromis tanganicae", which caused immense confusion among hobbyists. Was this a Tanganyikan Labidocrhomis species, or had Brichard collected this "new" Labidochromis from Malawi and raised it in his ponds on Lake Tanganyika? Eventually the issue was settled, but it did cause quite a commotion. And to think, that most yellow labs in the hobby all descended from that single, illicit pair.
Stuart did capture 22 fish later on but had a bit of a spill and only a few were left. These were given to Gary Kratchovil in San Antonio, TX. You'll see him offer F1 stock from time to time. A couple of years ago, a friend of a friend bought some F1 yellow labs that had been pond-raised in Africa. Surprisingly, they were no better in quality than other good yellow labs that we have seen! There are plenty of bad strains out there - some with lots of black on the body and face. There is a morph with a whitish belly that is not as attractive. Don't be mislead into thinking that is a man-made strain. This is a naturally occurring morph that comes from Lion's Cove, along side the yellow lab we all know.
I mention this because I have heard a lot of people bag on yellow labs and breeders, suggesting that they have been over-bred. True, there are many breeders out there that are not patient or careful and put up for sale anything that hatches. BUT, a fish can be bred for hundreds of generations and still retain is beauty and fitness, as demonstrated by Pierre Brichard. In fact, some of the most spectacular fish you will ever see - you know, the ones that win all the shows - have been line bred. The best looking progeny from each generation are pulled out and then bred to each other. Sometimes, the best genes aren't those that come from the lake (F0), but from a carefully maintained line. This isn't unethical, in my opinion. These people are simply selecting the more desirable traits and retaining them. If you find this reprehensible, next time you see a black-barred yellow lab next to a clean one, ask yourself which you'd rather own, or purchase for that matter.
Before concluding, let me say a few words about this fish's behavior in both the wild as well as captivity. L. caeruleus is an omnivore, feeding primarily upon insects, snails, and mollusks; however, in the aquarium, this fish can be fed a wide assortment of foods. I personally recommend a good Spirulina based flake food with occassional frozen food supplements, or alternatively, The European Shrimp Mix. These insectivores wander through their rocky biotope, never lingering at any particular spot, and it seems they are tolerated in the territories of most other species.
L. caeruleus prefer dark caves, but they are always careful to inspect the ceiling for prey. Likewise, in the aquarium, rock work, and particularly honeycomb limestone (aka holey rock), is appreciated. Notice in the picture above how this female is hiding from the male, anxious to induce her to spawn with him. The hole is too small for him, but not for her! This provides her an opportunity to escape his aggressive entreaties when she is not interested or ready to spawn. And as already mentioned, L. caeruleus has a very wide distribution in the lake, with the yellow morph occuring between Charo and Lion’s Cove on the Malawi side of the lake, at a depth of 20 meters. Broods usually number between 15 and 20 fry, with incubation periods lasting typically 28 days. Males tend to have much more black on their pelvic and anal fins, and are usually 1/3 larger than females at adulthood.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Queen Angelfish Overview
Scientific Name : Holacanthus Ciliaris
Origin : Western Atlantic Ocean
Minimum Size Tank : 150 gallons
Temperament : Semi-Aggressive
Temperature : 72 - 82°F
Reef Safe : No
Maximum Size : 18 inches
Diet : Omnivore
Probably the most popular "large" angelfish in the hobby, the queen angelfish is a stunning blue and yellow all across its entire body body. It has a single electric blue crown on its head and dorsal and anal fins are elongated. This combination produces one of the most beautiful angelfish the marine hobby has ever seen. The other two popular angelfish are the Emperor Angelfish and the French Angelfish.
It is collected mainly from the Caribbean Sea but can be found in Florida and some parts of South America.
Its close relative, the blue angelfish (Holacanthus Bermudensis) is almost entirely similar in appearance and can be hard to tell apart.
Holacanthus Townsendi is the supposed scientific name given to their offspring as both fish have been known to interbreed in the wild.
Its worth noting that hybrids do not represent a new species. Therefore, Holacanthus Townsendi is not a valid angelfish species.
While both the queen and blue angels look alike, telling them apart is easy. Two things to look out for, a blue crown on their heads and the shape of their tails.
Only queen angelfish have a blue crown and the queens tail is also more rounded. Blue angels have tails that a re much straighter vertically.
As juveniles, queen angelfish along with most other large angelfish have different coloration compared to adults. They also often act as "cleaners" in the wild.
They will set up cleaning stations where fish go to rid themselves of parasites. This behavior is shared by almost all juvenile "large" angelfish.
Queen Angelfish : Temperament
As with all of its larger cousins, the queen angel is somewhat of a bully as adults.
Its aggression is mostly reserved for its cousins, other large angelfish. A surefire way to start a fight in your tank is to introduce two queen angelfish. As far as tank mate compatibility goes, the blue angelfish should always considered to be another queen angelfish.
It is peaceful towards members of other species of fish but always look out for trouble with similarly sized or shaped fish.
To the right i've added a video of a queen angelfish taking on a pair of Gray Angelfish (Pomacanthus Arcuatus) in the wild.
Queen Angelfish : Diet
All angelfish have the potential to consume corals in captivity, the queen angel is no exception to this rule. Although you may come across some reef aquariums that have these angels with little to no problems, its generally a bad idea. What happens when they start nipping one day? Tear down the tank to get it out? Becomes a huge mess in the end.
In the wild they feed on sponges, polyps, corals and algae. They should be offered a wide variety of foods like seaweed, meaty foods like krill or mysis shrimp and a good pellet from a reputable brand like New Life Spectrum.
Formula Two by Ocean Nutrition is a balanced food for herbivores like angels and tangs. You can either get them in pellet, flake or frozen form.
Angel Formula by Ocean Nutrition is by far the best, most complete food on the market for angelfish. Its ingredients consist of items they would normally eat in the wild. As such, it contains marine sponges (rare seen food item) as well as algae, vitamins and a good blend of seafood. Unfortunately angel formula only comes in frozen cubes.
Seaweed is a popular offering for angels. You have two options with regard to seaweed. You can buy a branded type like those produced by two little fishies (Julian Sprungs sea veggies) or you can save some money and get some nori sheets from your local supermarket. Not all nori found there is cheap, some are even more expensive than those found in the marine hobby so shop around.
Nori comes in many flavours, spiced etc. You want to stay away from those and get just plain nori. You can purchase seaweed clips or you can fashion one up yourself. Attach the sheet to the clip and stick the clip onto the glass.
Iodotropheus sprengerae was first described in 1972 by Oliver and Loiselle. It is considered one of the classic fish in the hobby. Out of the enire Iodotropheus genus, the Rusty Cichlid is the only one that is generally available in the hobby.
Although the word "Rusty" does not seem like it would depict a colorful fish, adult males have a beautiful purple and rust sheen. Sexing Rusty Cichlids can be difficult. Males are larger than females, have more pronounced eggspots than females, and more of a purple hue. A male Rusty will top out at about 4 inches. Female get up to about 3-3.5 inches.
Iodotropheus sprengerae is associated with rocks and is found at Boadzulu and Chinyankwazi Islands in Lake Malawi, Africa.
Rusty Cichlids are very hardy and easy to keep. Like all Malawian cichlids, it likes hard water. A temperature of 76 to 80F is optimal.
Iodotropheus sprengerae is very peaceful for an mbuna. A group of 6 to 8 adults could easily be kept in a 40 gallon breeder, with very few issues. This fish can also be kept with some of the more peaceful Malawians with no problem. The only time I observed aggression in this fish was during spawning, but even then, it was very minimal.
Iodotropheus sprengerae is an herbivore, but will do okay if fed some food higher in protein. Keep the fish on a fiber-rich diet. I fed mine HBH graze, Dianichi Veggie deluxe, Spectrum, and baby brine shrimp.
Rusty Cichlids are supposedly easy to breed. I know many people who had no problem breeding these fish. I, sadly, am not one of those people.
When I saw Iodotropheus sprengerae available, I knew I had to buy them. There were not any in stores near me that were for sale— this once popular fish seemed to disappear. I bought eight Rusty juvies so that I would get at least one of each sex. . . a good habit to practice if you want to breed fish.
The fish were small, but within four months started breeding. The first spawns were not fertile, but I was not surprised because the fish were young. After about eight spawns, I was getting angry.
I watched these fish spawn. They would hold for three days, and then drop. I eventually tried stripping the fish and the eggs would go bad within 24 hours.
One day while viewing the "Rusty Tank", I noticed that none were eating. All eight of my Rusty cichlids were holding, which is not right. This fish is not a bi-parental mouth brooder! Unable to obtain a male Rusty, I had to sell the group.
Chapter Two began. I purchased a bag of six full grown Iodotropheus sprengerae. It took me a while to get the fish a permanent home, as they bounced from tank to tank. I finally settled the group in my 58 with some West Africans. Everything in the tank was fine except the Rusty Cichlids would not breed.
Four months went by and still nothing, and by that point they should have spawned. This time I had all males! At this point, I was extremely ticked off and, due to my low patience level, these fish were about to get the boot.
Luckily this story has a happy ending. On the eve of the night the fish were to be shipped out to a friend Texas, they spawned. Only one of the six fish was a female.
Rusty Cichlids are good holders. Mine held for eighteen days before I stripped her of free-swimming fry.
Be careful when raising these fish as feeding too much baby brine tends to give these fry digestive issues.
For juvie Rusty cichlids, you are looking at about 3 to 4 dollars each. Adults will probably run you 8-10 dollars each at a pet shop.
In the mid-late 1990's this fish was very popular, but now are kind of difficult to find. Occasionally they will pop up in a pet shop or an auction or swap meet.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Aulonocara baenschi (common name: "New Yellow Regal Peacock") is a classic Aulonocara. In nature it will reach 10 cm while in the aquarium it may become considerably bigger (even 15 cm is not rare for adult males in large tanks). Needs a substrate of small pebbles or fine sand. Some tough plants may be also used in the tank, such as Anubias, Vallinserias, Cryptocorynes and Saggitaria. They thrive in alkaline, moderately hard water (pH range 7.5 - 8.4, GH > 10). It is better kept alone (in species tanks) or in community tanks without any other Aulonocara females. Cross breeds very easily mainly because the females of all Aulonocara species are almost identical. This species sometimes poses a problem for the fish keeper. Too peaceful to be housed with similarly sized mbuna, it is too small to be kept with Malawi haps (especially piscivores). Very popular due to its spectacular vivid colors.
These spectacular close up photos were taken in April 2000 by hobbyist Dale Paulter, from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Dale has been a fish keeper for 2 1/2 years and is a member of CRLCA. He currently runs 13 tanks ranging in size from 10 to 60 gallons and this is his beloved species. This pair is housed in a 60 gallon tank (one male with 4 females). This photo was taken during the fourth spawning of this particular female while the male has already produced over 300 fry all thriving at various sizes. Tankmates include three Synodontis petricola and one sailfin marble pleco.
Species name: Aulonocara baenschi
Common Names: Aulonocara Benga, Benga Aulonocara, Benga Yellow, New Yellow Regal, Nkhomo-Benga Peacock, Yellow Peacock
Family: Cichlidae (Cichlids) , subfamily: Pseudocrenilabrinae
Order: Perciformes (perch-likes)
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Max. size: 10 cm / 4 inches
Origin: Lake Malawi: Chipoka, Maleri Islands, Nkhomo, and Usisya
Temperament: Relatively non-aggressive .
Company: Can be kept with other non aggressive species of the same size.
Water parameters: pH 7.0-8.5, temperature 22-26°C / 72-78° F
Aquarium setup: Requires stone formations that allows the fish good hiding places. Plan the Aquarium setup so that several territories can be formed with natural boundaries. Also make sure there is a lot of free space for these fish to swim on. Don’t use roots in your aquarium since they lower PH levels.
Feeding: Accepts all kinds of food.
Breeding: Mouth-brooder. The female will protect a batch of 4-25 fry in her mouth for up to 4 weeks. The females will not eat will they brood. You can tell if a female is brooding by her enlarged mouth. fry are quite small and fragile but will accepts most kinds of food. Brooding females are isolated for more productive breeding. It is recommendable to try to make the isolation as short as possible to avoid that the females loses their social status which may cause fights once they are returned. Stress to the female can cause her to eat her eggs and fry.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The Malawi blue dolphin (cyrtocara moorii) is a peaceful African cichlid (family Cichlidae) that inhabits Lake Malawi.
As these fish mature the males develop a hump on their heads. Because of this hump these fish are sometimes called "blue humphead" cichlids. Their snout also elongates. Their elongated snout is said to resemble a dolphin's face, hence the name "blue dolphin."
This is a medium sized African cichlid - about 8 inches (20 cm) in length. You'll need a spacious aquarium because you should keep them in a group of at least six.
The substrate in their aquarium should be sand. You should also provide some rockwork for caves.
Their aquarium should have relatively hard, somewhat alkaline water.
Water temperature should be between 74-80 °F (23-27 °C).
In their natural habitat they eat small crustaceans that live in the sandy lake bottom. In fact, they often follow behind other fish species that dig in the sand and eat any invertebrates that are dug up. In captivity they can be fed cichlid pellets, flakes, and frozen foods.
Blue dolphin cichlids are mouth brooders. The female carries the eggs and fry in her mouth for about two weeks.
Once the fry are released feed them newly hatched brine shrimp and powdered food for fry.
How to Care for Your Oscar Fish
Oscar Fish (Astronotus ocellatus) are a freshwater cichlid from South America and are also known as Peacock Cichlid, Walnut Cichlid or Velvet Cichlid. Oscars are a relatively large fish that grow up to sixteen inches long and can live for up to eight to twelve years if proper care is given. Read on to learn the steps for ideal Oscar fish care.
Setting up a Freshwater Tank
This is an important step, as this will be your Oscar's home. The first step is to gather all the equipment you will need:
Freshwater testing kits
Cichlid Food and other cichlid care products (Water conditioners, buffers, substrates, trace element supplements)
Aquarium vacuum or siphon
Tank of proper size for your Oscar fish
Aquarium gravel (there are gravel blends especially for cichlids)
Bucket for water changes
Ornaments or plants(either real or fake) for hiding places
Choosing an aquarium size
Oscar fish need at least 30 gallons of space each. The minimum tank size for a single Oscar fish should be 40 gallons.
Washing the aquarium
Everything must be washed. Hose out the inside of the aquarium thoroughly and then dry it with paper towels. Make sure to remove any soap residue. Rinse all equipment and ornaments you plan to submerge in tap water.
Place the gravel in a bucket and rinse it with water. Fill the bucket with enough water to submerge the gravel and stir until all of the loose sediment and debris comes off. Rinse and repeat this step until the water remains clear.
Finding a place for your aquarium
Oscar fish are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, noise and light, so keep the tank in a place where there will be minimal external influences on the environment. Place the tank away from doors, windows and vents and out of high traffic areas. Also, be sure to keep the tank out of direct sunlight as this promotes algae growth and temperature fluctuations.
Be sure to situate the tank on a sturdy piece of furniture or a special aquarium stand as a tank can weigh well over a hundred pounds when filled. To protect the floor and carpet, you can place a piece of corkboard beneath the stand or furniture as well as underneath the tank itself to keep the tank secure and even.
Filling your tank
If you're using one, place your under-gravel filter on the bottom of your aquarium. (More on filters later.) Next, add about three to four inches of cichlid gravel. The amount of gravel is not pivotal, but there should be enough to support all decorations and plants.
Next, begin conditioning your water. Tap water should be left standing for 24 hours or use a water conditioner or stress reliever to remove contaminants and make your water suitable for fish. You can also use special products for cichlids that recreate the mineral content of their natural environment for optimal health. These elements will be important in your cichlid's healthy transition to your aquarium.
Once your water is prepared, you can begin filling the tank. Pour the water in gently so as not to disrupt the gravel. You can also place a saucer in the bottom of the tank and pour the water directly into the saucer to avoid stirring up the gravel. Fill it up about halfway.
Once the aquarium is about half-full, add plants, ornaments, and rocks. Fill it up the rest of the way after these items are secure.
Bringing your Oscar Fish Home
The most jarring experience of your Oscar's captive life will be the ride from the pet store to your home. Follow these tips to reduce the amount of trauma on your new Oscar.
If it is cold, prepare an insulated box to keep your Oscar in on the ride home.
Wrap the bag in newspaper or place it in a brown paper bag to reduce the amount it is exposed to. The transition from indoor light to outdoor light can be particularly shocking for an Oscar fish, as cichlids don't like bright light.
Keep the Oscar away from heating vents and direct sunlight.
Make the trip home as quickly as possible. The less jolts from the car ride, the better.
Once you get the Oscar fish home, place the bag in the water without opening it for about 15 minutes. Next, add water from the aquarium to the bag a little at before opening the bag and setting it free.
Keeping the Tank Clean and Comfortable for your Oscar Fish
Keep a close eye on your Oscar fish's water temperature with a digital aquarium thermometer. Oscar fish prefer temperatures between 74 degrees Fahrenheit and 81 degrees Fahrenheit with an ideal around 77 degrees. Avoid fluctuations in temperature.
Ideal pH level for an Oscar fish is about 7.2, but Oscar fish are easily adaptable as long as the change is gradual. Keep an eye on the pH level of both the water in the tank and the water you are about to add for water changes using your pH test kit. If the pH level is drastically different, add only a little bit of new water each time or treat the water first using cichlid buffers.
Keeping several small filters is best for a larger tank, as it staggers the maintenance of the filters. You will at least want either an external power, canister or internal filter, combined with an inexpensive sponge or undergravel filter (or both) to ensure that you have enough surface area for proper biological filtration.
Performing a water change
Changing about 10 to 15 percent of the water is a simple way to keep the water clean and healthy (never change all the water in a big tank at once). Do this on a weekly basis by siphoning off a bit of the water and then siphoning new water back in. Make sure you condition the new water as you did when preparing the tank.
Be sure you remove water, even if some of the water has evaporated from the tank. Evaporated water leaves behind impurities that make the water harder and by simply "topping off" a tank you leave the impurities in.
Feeding your Oscar Fish
Oscar fish are primarily carnivorous, even preying upon smaller fish. In the wild, they prefer live foods, but even purchased live foods commonly contain parasites or other contaminants and it is safer (and easier) to feed them processed or frozen foods. There are special cichlid food blends that will provide a good stable diet, but you should regularly supplement these with freeze-dried worms or other organisms.
There are feeder goldfish on the market, but these fish are not very nutritious and could carry disease.
Blended beef heart, earthworms, shrimps as well as cichlid pellets, peas and lettuce are all good alternatives to keep your Oscar on a balanced diet. An Oscar needs a variety of foods with high protein in order to stay healthy.
It is extremely important not to overfeed your Oscar fish. Oscar fish produce a lot of waste as it is and adding excess food can cause problems related to pollution, like ammonia buildup. Only feed the Oscar fish as much as it can eat in about two minutes. Any food left uneaten should be removed, along with any other floating debris you spot.
Breeding Oscar fish is typically easier than breeding most other fish. Keep the water clean and raise the temperature to about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The male and female will then begin the process of spawning.
Oscar fish will change colors and begin courting when they are about to spawn. Oscars will build mounds of gravel around the aquarium and will chase each other around the aquarium. Then the female will lay her eggs on a flat rock and the male will fertilize them.
Oscar fish usually lay about 1000 eggs at a time. Unfertilized eggs are white and fertilized eggs will turn transparent after about 24 hours and hatch within 2 to three days.
Feed the newly hatched fry brine shrimp and do 25% water changes every day to keep the conditions suitable for raising fry.
Be aware: sometimes the male will kill the female during courtship.
General tips on Oscar Fish Care
After setting up the aquarium, it is best to wait a couple weeks to make sure everything is in order.
Add only one or two fish at a time. Biological filters need time to accommodate new inhabitants and changes in the water.
Before adding an Oscar fish to a community, keep it quarantined in a separate tank for a few weeks to make sure it is healthy. A diseased fish could contaminate an entire population.
Oscar fish prefer hiding places. To keep them relaxed and happy, provide them with plenty of decorations and plants. Oscars prefer about half or more of the tank to be covered, so keep lots of hiding places for him.
Oscars prefer to live alone. If you must, choose other Oscars as companions with even temperaments. A passive Oscar is quickly bullied while an aggressive Oscar will attack other fish.
Do not neglect regular partial water changes.
Air pumps and air stones are necessary to oxygenate the water and release harmful chemicals by agitating the surface of the water.
Oscar fish and many cichlids do not like bright lighting. Use low intensity fluorescent bulbs in your hood or a fluorescent fixture - a 10,000K rating will provide the best viewing - or actinic lighting to avoid stressing them. Make sure to turn them off at night or supply a lunar light.
To avoid electrical shock, make a "drip loop" on all your cords. Hang a small weight in the middle of the cord so water will not travel down the cord and into the outlet.
Choose gravel that is free of dye and will not be swallowed. Cichlid gravels are your best bet.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Cyrtocara moorii is a beautiful, mild-tempered fish that is a delight to keep. It is commonly known in the hobby as the Malawi Blue Dolphin, and was once classified as Haplochromis moorii. Now it is the only species belonging to the genus Cyrtocara. The nickname Blue Dolphin originates from the shape of its head – a nuchal hump and bill-like mouth – which resembles that of a dolphin.
This fish is quite rare in Lake Malawi, although it has a very wide distribution. Notwithstanding, most exports come from Lumbaulo and Malombe. It has been in the hobby for several decades now, being first imported in 1968. In the wild, C. moorii displays a very unique feeding adaptation. Classified as a micro-predator, it follows close behind substrate-digging cichlids - like Taeniolethrinops praeorbitalis, Fossorochromis rostratus, and Mylochromis lateristriga – and feeds on the small edible organisms and particles that get stirred up behind them as they feed.
In fact, as these fish dig in the sand looking for food, the resulting clouds attract C. moorii, like sharks to blood, but not as dramtatic. This is its only documented method of hunting for food in the lake.
C. moorii attain very respectable sizes. Males grow up to 8 inches (20cm) in length, and females up to 6.5 inches (16.5cm). While they certainly do grow larger than this, these are more typical lengths. The only downside to keeping this fish is that it takes a very long time to grow and reach sexual maturity. Typically, it will take about one and a half to two years for fry to reach 4-5 inches, at which point they will begin spawning. Juveniles are silver and begin taking on blue coloring at around 4cm. Interestingly, fry have an orangish-yellow anal fin, which disappears a few months after hatching.
Despite requiring patience while waiting for these fish to grow and spawn for the first time, once they do reach sexual maturity all your patience will be rewarded. They turn into little clocks, spawning every two months, with clutches ranging between 20 and 90! Several days before spawning occurs, the male will begin to display more often to the female. He also becomes much more active, digging a nest out of the substrate or clearing off a smooth stone. The female will then lay her eggs either in the nest or on the stone and picks them up immediately.
Fertilization occurs before the female actually picks the eggs up in her mouth. The eggs hatch after 18 to 21 days and are usually released a week after that.
When attempting to catch a holding female, be very careful to not make any sudden moves that may frighten her. C. moorii females are notorious for spitting eggs when chased by a net. It is best to catch her at night, several hours after the lights have been out. If she does spit the eggs out during transport (i.e., in the net), drop the eggs in the new tank with the mother, as she will pick them up after an hour or so.
C. moorii are polygamous mouthbrooders and do best with one large male and several females. If you keep more than one (and preferably three to six), they will tend to cluster together and school around the tank. They tend to get along very well with just one lone male and several females. The two sexes are difficult to differentiate because there is no difference in coloration between them. Furthermore, there is no apparent correlation between hump size and gender. Having said that, there is quite a bit of variation in the shape and size of the fatty, fibrous hump on the forehead, which becomes larger with age.
Because of this fish’s giant proportions, adults and even sub-adults should not be kept in aquariums less than 125 gallons in size. This fish also needs a large open area to move around. Sand or a fine gravel such as aragonite are the best choices of substrate for this fish that is found in muddy bays and sandy coastal areas. It is known as one of the chisawasawa, or sandy bottom-associated cichlids. It is a sifter, and eats the smaller bits of food left behind after feeding time. Rocks are okay, but should be kept to the back or corners of the tank. This is important because C. moorii gets startled easy and could potentially get injured if the tank is cramped with rocks. Also, note that it will burrow down into the substrate, but won’t harm any live plants
The Boeseman’s Rainbowfish is a relatively new addition to the hobby and has become sensationally popular due to its almost unreal coloration!
Looking at a mature male Boeseman's Rainbowfish makes it easy to see why they are called rainbowfish. Its coloration in a pet store is usually a dull steel gray and hardly seems worth purchasing. But a serious and patient aquarist can bring out unforgettable colors. The secret to good colors is to buy quality specimens, feed a varied diet, and above all keep up with frequent water changes and maintenance.
Being an endangered species, the Boeseman’s Rainbowfish deserves some special consideration. Wild populations are being decimated by over harvesting and environmental destruction. Not only are harvesting practices usually damaging to the wild populations and environment, but they also upset the ecological balance in these regions. Domestically, this unfortunate fish is being bred recklessly with other species, muddling the bloodlines of species. Nature has taken thousands of years of selective breeding to develop their beautiful colors. Please carefully consider the decision to buy wild caught fish, and consider purchasing responsibly bred rather than farmed fish.
Remember that every fish has a slightly different distribution and intensity of colors which is largely based on genetics. However, age, health, water quality, and many other factors can and will impact colors
Size - Weight:
Male Boeseman's Rainbowfish will reach 4.5 "(11.5 cm), females will be closer to 4" (10 cm).
Care and feeding:
The Boeseman's Rainbowfish are omnivores and should be given a high quality diet to encourage good coloration. A mix of live and processed foods is necessary for optimal health. Buy processed food in small amounts frequently as nutrition in these products quickly deteriorates past usefulness by this species. Boeseman’s Rainbowfish relish live food like bloodworms, tubifex worms, water fleas, brine shrimp and the like. If these are unavailable, frozen (defrosted) substitutes would be fine.
As with many fish, Rainbowfish will do best and are most effectively displayed in tanks which simulate their natural habitat. These fish are fairly adaptable but a planted tank with swimming space suits them best. Try, if possible, to plan for one or two hours of sunlight hitting the tank. This should be time when you can view the tank as the illumination will make the fish even more stunning.
Rainbowfish are not exceptionally difficult to care for provided their water is kept clean. At least 25 - 50% of the tank water should be replaced weekly, especially if the tank is densely stocked. Because they are very active swimmers it is also advisable to keep these Rainbowfish in a tank at least 30 inches long and ideally 30 or more gallons. Additionally, the tank should be securely covered as these fish are skilled jumpers and will probably do so if given the opportunity.
Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom:
Boeseman's Rainbowfish tend to gather in the open space of the aquarium, usually in the top or middle of the tank.
Acceptable Water Conditions:
Temperature: 70 - 79° F (21 - 28° C)
Hardness: 8 - 25 dGH
Ph: 6.5 - 8.5
The Boeseman's Rainbowfish do fine in a larger fish community aquarium of similarly sized fish, but do exceptionally well in a geographical tank stocked with other rainbowfish. Although generally non-aggressive, overly aggressive or very shy tank mates will make bullies out of them. Mix them with other playful but good natured fish for best results. You may notice some chasing between rainbowfish, but this is rarely a concern unless a fish is injured, has nowhere to hide, or is constantly harassed (usually a result of one of the first two).
Boeseman's Rainbowfish are schooling fish and the ratio of males to females is very important to keep a reasonable peace among them. Although you can always keep single sex schools, you will see significantly better coloration if both genders are in the tank. Properly stocking rainbowfish is a little tricky so we include the following recommendation for stocking. Choose which type of school you want to keep and how many fish.
Sexing is generally difficult at the young age at which the fish is usually sold, but mature males will be more colorful, have the arched back described above, and will often be the more territorial sex.
A breeding tank should be set up with a sponge filer and either many fine leaved plants or a spawning mop. A pair of healthy adult rainbowfish should be introduced. They should be conditioned with live foods and plant based foods. Remember, you are trying to emulate the bounty of the flood season so feed more and higher quality food than you normally would.
After the female has produced eggs, the males will display an amazing show of intense colors and direct the female to the spawning site, spawn, and then rest. The spawning mop or plants should be removed and replaced after the spawning or the eggs will be eaten. The fish will repeat this daily for a few days, with steadily decreasing numbers of eggs produced. The parents should be removed when egg numbers fall or if the females show signs of fatigue.
The fry will hatch after about a week and should be fed infusoria or a liquid fry food until they are able to eat small live foods. The fry are something of a challenge to raise until they are about two months old. The fry grow slowly and require clean water during the entire process.
A problem to be aware of is crossbreeding. Rainbowfish in the wild will not breed with fish of another species, even when presented the opportunity to do so. But for some reason, rainbowfish of the Melanotaeniidae family in the aquarium will interbreed, often with undesirable results. Somehow the fry of mismatched parents lose most of their coloration. Since many of these species are rare, it is desirable to keep the bloodlines distinct, or risk losing the beautiful coloration that nature has taken thousands of years.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Most often found in hobby literature under the "old" genus Cichlasoma, Heros severus is an old timey favorite of cichlid lovers everywhere. And as the title above denotes, there are more than one "Severum". Of the four currently recognized species of the genus Heros, (H. fasciatus, H. spurius, H. notatus (fishbase.org) only H. severus occurs in the trade regularly, in both wild and golden xanthic color forms. "The" Severum has been an aquarium "standard" since its inception into the hobby in Germany and the U.S. in the early twentieth century.
Though often haphazardly placed with other freshwater fishes, this South American often suffers from being placed in water that is too cool in temperature, and too hard and alkaline in chemistry.
Some writers have declared that Severums are aggressive in nature. I would encourage these same folks to try placing their fishes in adequately large settings. Breeding pairs should be kept in at least a hundred gallons, small communities of this species in at least twice this gallonage.
Severums that have been bred in captivity for successive generations (as opposed to recently wild-caught specimens) can do well in most tap waters of moderate hardness and neutral pH. However, they are best bred in softer, more acidic water that approximates their natural waters (see above). Water motion is best dissipated with the use of spray bars in the case of canister filters and slower, more numerous numbers of smaller hang on filters if used. This fish "hangs out" under substantial floating plant cover in stiller waters in the wild.
Though not overtly digging monsters like many neotropical cichlids, Severums do eat a bit of plant material in the wild, and may well do the same to softer species in your tanks. If you use live plants, try the tougher (non-indigenous to South America) varieties of the genera Anubias or Cryptocoryne... or the ever-popular Plasticus floribunda, polyethylene plants. Rockwork and sunken driftwood are definitely appreciated by Severums, and useful for limiting aggression and serving as spawning media.
Best kept with fishes that enjoy the same type of water conditions, and about the same size. Severums can be housed with Festivums, Acaras (Aequidens species), Eartheaters, many types of Loricariid and Callichthyid catfishes, even large angels and dwarf cichlids when young.
As previously mentioned, Severums are partly herbivorous. Some home-grown lettuce, green peas or zucchini that has been blanched or microwaved can be offered, oriental algae-based foods, or dried-prepared foods of plant origin. Beef heart and liver are not suggested for Heros as they have a hard time digesting these fatty foods. Given the various food formats, pelletized and "stick" foods are preferred by most large cichlid keepers. These are readily available and cheap (especially in bulk), and make for the least amount of wastes and their by-products. An occasional earthworm, mealworm, bloodworm or marine crustacean offering is much appreciated.
Breeding pairs are best developed through the raising of six or eight young together. Even at relatively young, small size Heros severus may be sexed by the absence of markings on the gill covers and smaller body size of females. Pairs should be either housed with other Severums (in a large enough system for two or more territories), other cichlids of equal aggression and size, or at least some fast, aware ditherfish, to reduce intraspecific and pair aggression. "Making" pairs from adult fish is not easily done, best to raise a group together and let them sort each other out. Males of this species are decidedly larger with prominent nuchal humps. Many commercial breeders utilize dividers that the pair can see each other, but not get to each other, to accommodate fertilization w/o risking loss of the adults from fighting.
For proper hatching and development, softer, more acidic and tropical water is required. Though the serially tank-bred specimens will tolerate pH's approaching 8.0 and 300 ppm of total hardness, and temperatures in the seventies F., conditions of pH in the 6's, up to 50 ppm total hardness maximum and the mid to upper 80's are best for breeding.
Heros are partial or delayed mouthbrooders. After hatching, the young are taken into the parents mouths. Periodically they are released to hunt for foodstuffs that can include freshly hatched brine shrimp, ground flake or pelleted foods. Most pairs of Severums prove to be good parents.
Severums are one of the most sensitive freshwater fish species to the ill-effects of diminished water quality. Head and lateral line disease is often evident (neuromast destruction) in specimens that have been kept in water of too high concentration of dissolved organics. Undercrowding, sensible feeding, sufficient biological filtration and maintenance procedures (particularly frequent, partial water changes) can/will preclude this problem.
Though probably not considered a "disease" per se, this is a "nervous" species of fish that is quite capable of damaging itself, even jumping out if disturbed. Endeavor to make slow movements, gradual increase/decrease of lighting in and around their system, and do provide a secure, complete cover to prevent jumping.
The damage from handling and shipping this fish often results in ich and "fungal" fin rot (actually bacterial) infections. These respond well to TMC in addition to chemical protocols.
An old-timey favorite for good reasons, the Severum is a good fish for folks with lots of space, easygoing tankmates and possibly a need for hobby-supporting income. Consider a large (1-200 gallon) system for maintaining a breeding pair and the accessory tanks, space for rearing their young.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Koi fish are a form of carp fish originally from Japan. They are very similar to goldfish, and some experts believe kois were an attempt by Japanese breeders to imitate goldfish. Raising koi fish was not introduced worldwide until 1914, and before that date it was solely a Japanese affair. During this time period, shipping became faster and safer and so the threat of fish death was very low. The hobby of raising koi exploded.
Different types of koi fish are classified by their patterning, scalations and coloration. Koi fish come in many different colors. A few of the main ones are blue, yellow, purple, white, and black. On the scales of a koi, it is possible to see a metallic gleam. This is what's called Gin Rin. Also, there are types of koi that have no scales. Scaleless kois are usually called Doitsu. Doitsu fish were made by crossbreeding Nishikigoi and German mirrored carp.
Although there are endless variations of koi fish, there are some varieties in specific categories. An example of a popular type of koi is the Gosanke. Fish that fall into this group are Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku and Showa Sanshoku varieties. The main groups of named koi are Kohaku, a white and red striped fish; Taisho Sanshoku, a white fish with red and black design; Showa Sanshoku, a black fish with a red and white design; Asagi, a fish with blue scales on top and red scales on the bottom; Shusui, a similar fish to Asagi with less scales; Bekko, a white, yellow and red fish with a black design; Utsurimono, a black fish with a yellow, red and white design; Goshiki, a black fish with touches of brown, blue, white and red; Ogon, a fish that's all one color ( can be red, orange, platinum and yellow); and KinGinRin, a fish with shiny scales.
Today, there are fourteen types of koi and they have been bred especially to draw attention to their visual appearance. A lot of koi are bred in the US, but some koi come from Japan, China and Israel. There is a wide range of prices for purchasing koi, starting at $3 for baby koi and skyrocketing up to $20,000 for a prize fish.
Really, to pick a good fish you want to start with a good koi dealer. They can give you advice on color and sizes that will fit how much you can spend and how much experience you already have with koi. Usually dealers will sell inexperienced owners fish that range between three and five dollars. Then they can trade in for bigger fish once they have more experience.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Discus tropical fish are very popular with aquarium owners, however as any experienced owner will tell you, discus are not the easiest fish to keep. If you want to keep your discus fish healthy and happy, you need to learn as much as possible about their unique living conditions, feeding habits, and breeding behavior. Only with proper knowledge can you apply techniques which will turn you aquarium into a thriving ecosystem.
Discus fish are native to the calm warm waters of the Amazon River. Therefore, it is important to mimic their natural environment in order to satisfy their desires. Without the right environmental factors taken care of, Discus fish can become sick, aggressive, or even die for no apparent reason.
Environment factors are also extremely important when breeding Discus fish. Frequently, without proper care, Discus fish will lay eggs, and then simply eat them. However, there are usually very specific reasons for why your fish are unable to reproduce, and with the proper education you will be able to create the perfect environment to produce fry.
Caring for discus fish can be a challenge and a bit of an art form, but it is also very rewarding at the same time. Armed with the right information, you will be able to prepare and maintain an environment that your fish will thrive in. Discus fish are a beautiful and exotic species will make a great addition to your home aquarium.