Posts filed under Freshwater Fish

Badis Badis

Scientific NameBadis badis
Common Name(s)Badis, Dwarf Chameleon Fish
OriginPerciformes order, Badidae family, India, Nepal
Temperature Range68-75°F
Water Parameters<15 dGH, pH 6-7.5
Adult Size50-60mm
DietLive food: Worms, insect larvae, zooplankton, daphnia, artemia

Badis Facts:

1. Did you know that male Badis Badis fish are regularly traded for breeding purposes, due to the high intensity of the colors they can potentially emit? Many breeders try and use this for their own breeding to create vibrant fish from other species.

2. The diversity in the amount of eggs planted by the mother is incredible – there can be anything from 30-100 eggs in any one spawning session.

3. Before the year 2002, we only knew of five different forms of the Badis Badis fish. However, today we know of more than fifteen different parts of the family.

Species Overview:

This is a small, predatory fish that feeds on a variety of tiny invertebrates such as worms and insect larvae. The colorization of these fish can intend entirely on the mood of the fish – when comfortable, it can be extremely rich and vibrantly colored. They hold a lot of value for some people as not only are they strong aquatic pets to have, but they make brilliant breeding partners due to their immense colorization abilities.

Otherwise known as a chameleon fish because of its ability to change color, they have long been wrongly classed as part of the Nandidae fish family. It wasn’t until 1968 that they were actually separated into a new family altogether, such was the variety found within the ranks of the Badis Badis.

They tend to stick to wider, shallow streams – and are especially fond of those that run through rice fields. They tend to prefer turbid water that has low flow and submersed vegetation to feast upon. Therefore, you will find quite a large portion of these fish running up and down the Dibru River. They can get to as much as 60mm in size, so if you are really looking in the right places you should be able to spot a few.

They have been found all across the East in countries like Nepal and India, with similar fish found in countries like Bhutan, Thailand and Pakistan. It’s estimated that around 19 million years ago, these fish would have been part of the Ayeyarwardy River populace of fishes, and eventually made their way down here to prevent their species from being wiped out.

Their innate ability to change color makes them stand out in the world of fish, and if you are looking to find a species that really does separate itself from many of the more common fish readily available, then this might be the one for you. Its rare abilities mixed with the fact that we don’t know everything about this family of fish lends a certain air of mystery to them, creating a unique attraction for fish owners who want something a little bit more unique than the usual selection of fish most aquarists settle for.

Posted on November 1, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Discus Fish

Scientific NameSymphysodon
Common Name(s)Discus
OriginSouth America, Amazon River Basin
Temperature Range80 - 86°F
Water Parameters5-7pH, 1-8dH, 1- 3KH
Adult Size8-10in
DietCarnivorous, live food, frozen food

Discus Fish Facts:

1. The discus fish is a type of cichlid and comes in a variety of beautiful, rich colors.

2. Fry start out their lives by being carefully cared for by both parents, and even feed on a secretion from their parents.

3. Valued for their beauty as much as for their willingness to interact with their owners. They can even be fed by hand.


Discus Fish Overview:

The discus fish is a beautiful tropical fish known for its gorgeous coloration. There are subspecies of the discus fish, each with their own unique patterns and color schemes, which allows them to appeal to a broad audience of hobbyists. They can be quite pricey and difficult to keep, so they’re not recommended for beginners. Experienced hobbyists can expect an interactive and somewhat challenging experience.

Being cichlids, the discus fish is often kept in a species-only tank. They prefer taller tanks and should be kept in at least a 30 gallon tank in order to be comfortable. They don’t hide as much as other fish, and are quite graceful, but still benefit from good quality decorations and floating plants for shade. Any rocks or decorations should not obstruct swimming though, since discus fish do like to have a vast, open area to swim in. As always, with brightly colored fish, dark strata help to enhance and bring out their more vivid tones. Tank mates can be included, as these are not particularly aggressive fish, but they do require very strict conditions and frequent water changes. The tank also needs to be kept relatively warm, so before adding tank mates, be absolutely sure that they can survive in those conditions. Discus fish are not recommended for heavily populated, established tanks with more common fish. The conditions are not adequate.

These are carnivorous fish as well, so flake food should not be their main source of nourishment. Discus fish can be fed blood worm, tubifex, shrimp, and other meaty frozen foods. Luckily, there are food pellets designed specifically for discus fish, so supplementing their diet is quite easy.

They are peaceful fish and will form families within their own species. Younger discus fish will actually pair themselves, male to female, and remain an established couple. If this happens, it can signal that it’s time to breed. The discus fish also has a unique and interesting way of caring for its young. Breeding is done in slightly acidic water, during which time the fish may become territorial, as they’ve now committed to becoming parents. Once born, the fry stay with their parents. The pair secretes nourishment for their young through their skin and in captivity, the fry have been known to feed off of the secretions for up to two weeks. Since the fish are schooling and quite peaceful, there is no need to remove the younger fish. Instead, they will be integrated into the school, creating a nuclear family.

These beautiful fish are alert, interactive, and graceful which is why it’s sometimes been called the king of tropical fish.

Posted on September 30, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Green Neon Tetra

Scientific NameParacheirodon simulans
Common Name(s)Green Neon Tetra, Blue Neon Tetra, False Neon
OriginRio Jafaris; Ornico and Upper Negro River Basins
Temperature Range75-85°F
Water ParameterspH: 5.0-6.5; Hardness: 18-143 ppm (soft water); Freshwater Tank
Adult Size15-25 mm
DietDried food and live food such as bloodworm or mosquito larvae

Green Neon Facts:

1. Despite some sexual dimorphism, both male and female green neon tetra have a bright turquoise stripe that runs along both sides of their bodies.

2. These fish are shoaling fish. This means they have a tendency to gather together. Under safer circumstances, however, this behavior often dissipates and each fish is left to its own devices.

3. Green neon tetra  appear more colorful and splashy when when they are grouped together.

 

Species Overview:

Green neon tetra (Paracheirodon simulans) are a suitable fish for someone desiring a colorful tropical aquarium. With its flashy appearance and unique behaviors, it is an interesting species to consider buying. However, it is also vital to first consider simulans' very particular needs.

Tropical Habitat

Paracheirodon simulans were first identified in the Rio Jafaris, and are native to the freshwaters of Rio Ornico and the Upper part of the Negro River in South America. Their natural environment allows them to swim in calm waters of tributaries covered in the tree litter of nearby forests.  Suited for a blackwater habitat with high acidity, this fish is typically found among many plants and debris such as: drift wood, hanging branches, and organic decaying material.  It is recommended that one models such an environment when keeping simulans in an aquarium. Therefore, a tank of 10 gallons or more with abundant plant life and sand-like sediment is well-suited for simulans since it supports their natural tendency to hide in shaded areas.  Dim lighting overall is also needed, especially when any eggs are hatching.  Also, no additional ammonia or nitrates should be added to the tank.  An acidic tank environment, with all its plants, soft water, and appropriate temperature range should be established before buying simulans because it is very sensitive to habitat conditions.

Behavior

Like mentioned previously, this fish is relatively frail because it requires specific water conditions.  Some, but not all, aquarium fish are taken from the wild, so it is not uncommon to see more tentative hiding behaviors than normal in the fish for its first few days of acclimating.  Though simulans can coexist peacefully with other species,  the  habitat conditions it requires makes it not the best fish to put in large communities.  Additionally, due to its petite size, it can sometimes fall prey to larger fish so it is important to keep any predatory species away from green neon tetra.

This recommended  seclusion, however, does not apply when it is among its own species. Typically, green neon tetra can be bought in groups of six or more  because they do normally interact with their peers. This behavior is due to the fact that green neon tetra are a shoaling fish, which , like a schooling fish, means that they have a tendency to group together with their own species, especially in times of danger. One might notice shoaling behaviors such as the fishes swimming along the same vague path.  However,  groups do not exhibit as much coordinated movement as one might expect of schooling fish, which are capable of making intricate swim paths in unison.

The mating of green neon tetra is a fairly regular process and can happen at any time when they are kept in captivity. Females lay over a 100 eggs in shaded areas because UV radiation is harmful at that point in their development. The eggs then hatch in a single day. Parents do not take care of their offspring since the young fish are viable on their own.

Diet

Fortunately, feeding the omnivorous simulans is not much trouble. They will eat dried food such as flakes or pellets, which work well since green neon tetra do have tendency to swim closer to the surface of the pond and dry food floats  well.  To supplement their diet, Paracheirodon simulans will also eat  the frozen or live larvae of mosquitoes and chironomia (blood worm).  They will also feed on the small crustacean daphnia. 

Appearance

Green neon tetra, like other neon tetra, are known for their bright coloration. Their base color is a grayish silver with a long turquoise fluorescent lateral stripe on each side . They have red and green coloration near their head, caudal fin, and ventral region. Their torpedo body shape is similar to neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi), which are related to green neon tetra. Occasionally, green neon tetra can be marketed for having golden scales;  however, such patterns are actually caused by a parasite, not the fish's natural coloring. Keep this in mind when one sees an advertisement for "gold neon tetra". Interestingly, a green neon tetra 's intensity of coloring is influenced by light conditions as well as being around its own species.

Identifying the  gender of these fish can pose a challenge to some owners since both sexes exhibit elaborate coloration and are, in general, a close match in appearance. However,  when determining sex, the best indicator is the relative sizes of the females and males. Males tend to be slightly smaller than females. Females also have a subtly more bulbous or rounded appearance.

On Name Meaning

The name Paracheirodon simulans can be broken down into several meanings. The prefix "para" means "related to". The genus name of green neon tetra then comes out to "related to cheirodon". Likewise "simulans" , like the word "simular", relates to sameness and means "copying or imitating". Be warned that Paracheirodon simulans  is often mistaken for simply being "neon tetra" rather than "green neon tetra" because of both a similar appearance and name to Paracheirodon innesi. They are different species, and its very easy to mistake articles referring only to neon tetra as something about simulans  when the information is simply not applicable.

Posted on September 15, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Sailfin Pleco

Scientific NamePterygoplichthys gibbiceps, Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps
Common Name(s)Sailfin Pleco, Leopard Pleco, Gibby, L083, L165
OriginSouth America
Temperature Range73-86°F
Water ParametersKH 6-10, pH 6.5-7.4
Adult Size1’7”
DietOmnivorous bottom feeder

Sailfin Pleco Facts:

1. It has been known to suck the slime off of other fish.

2. Because it’s native to an area that experiences extremes in precipitation and will bury itself and go dormant in order to stay protected from dry seasons.

3. Though they’re known colloquially as suckerfish, plecos are actually catfish.

 

Species Overview:

The Sailfin or Leopard Pleco is a popular maintenance fish, often sharing its habitat with other community fish. They generally eat whatever the other fish don’t get, and are true omnivores, happy to chow down on anything from shrimp to a chunk of blanched cucumber.

Some people disagree on just how finicky these fish are, but generally they can coexist peacefully with any number of fish as long as there’s ample food. They are territorial though, so each community should have no more than one species of pleco at any given time. If they’re alone and still being aggressive towards other fish, it could be due to a lack of food, which can be solved by monitoring the tank at feeding time to be sure there’s enough to go around. Though they can subsist on algae and detritus, ideally, they should have their fair share of whatever food you’re using with their tank and their bellies should always appear rounded. They can eat just about anything including vegetables, flakes, pellets, wafers, and freeze-dried or live food.

Their habitats don’t take much setup since they’re a relatively relaxed fish. Sailfin Plecos can grow to be quite large, so starting out with at least 125 gallons is recommended. Their fins can be delicate, so be sure to check any decorations for sharp edges before adding them to your tank. They need a bit of cover, but are fairly immobile during the day and more active at night. They live up to their moniker and will stick to just about anything big enough to accommodate them for long period of time. They’ll also troll the bottom looking for scraps. The larger and older they get, the more active they become. Sailfin Plecos tend to make good tank mates for larger, aggressive fish and even aquatic turtles after a certain age.

A good Sailfin Pleco habitat should be well aerated and contain at least one decent sized piece of wood for the pleco to graze on. There isn’t a consensus on the benefit of the wood, only that it is beneficial and required for many pleco species. The Sailfin needs wood soft enough to regularly rasp at. Be sure to keep an eye on the wood as the pleco grows in case it needs to be replaced, since the pleco will be eating it.

The Sailfin Pleco is a beautiful fish with the added benefit of providing maintenance and stability for the tank. It’s hardy enough to live with aggressive species like cichlids, and low maintenance enough for beginners who want to try their hand at something a little more exotic.

Posted on September 4, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Butterfly Pleco

Scientific NameAncistrus brachyurus, Dekeyseria brachyuran, Peckoltia pulcher
Common Name(s)Butterfly Pleco
OriginSouth America
Temperature Range77-82°F
Water ParameterspH 5.6-7
Adult Size6.2”
DietPrimarily Algae, omnivorous

Butterfly Pleco Facts:

1. The Butterfly Pleco has the ability to camouflage itself for protection by changing color.

2. When spawning, the male butterfly pleco will protect the eggs until they’ve developed.

3. Unlike most pleco species, butterfly plecos can be kept together though they might chase each other and fan themselves out to establish dominance and guard their territory.

 

Species Overview:

The butterfly pleco is a beautiful species, popular for its distinctive striped pattern as well as its size. Since butterfly plecos don’t get to be as large as other member of their species, they can be kept in smaller tanks of 60-80 gallons at minimum, as compared to others who need twice that. They’re also very peaceful, making them an excellent maintenance fish for smaller communities.

Butterfly plecos are hardy, but they do require extra care for their diet. These plecos can be considered omnivorous when in a tank, but their main source of food should come from both prepared and fresh vegetation. Unlike other suckers, they absolutely cannot exist on tank overgrowth and waste alone. Blanched zucchini and cucumber make excellent treats for them. They also need a good amount of driftwood to rasp regularly. Some plecos can survive without it, but butterfly plecos have a diet particularly rich in wood.

This species is also nocturnal and will react to differences in light by changing color. They do camouflage themselves to match their environment, so dark substrate should be avoided. They will also hide and camouflage when they have more light, so to get the best out of their gorgeous stripes, the tank should be somewhere out of direct sunlight, and relatively somber. In order to create a decent habitat, butterfly plecos should also be given adequate hiding spaces. As far a plecos go, they’re one of the easier species to breed, but do require nooks and crannies to wedge themselves in. The male protects the eggs by fanning his fins until they’re ready to leave the nest.

Despite being small, they are still catfish and require a higher level of filtration than other fish, since they produce more waste. Even if they’re in a small tank, it should be cycled before adding them, and it should have an adequate filtration system. The tank should be monitored closely and water changes will need to be done frequently.

The small stature of the butterfly pleco along with its exotic pattern makes it a popular community fish, but it does require somewhat more maintenance than other suckerfish. With the right habitat and conditions, these little guys will breed and can live up to 8 years. They won’t outgrow their space, so if a common pleco or a larger species of pleco isn’t an option due to space, butterfly plecos can still provide aquarists with a great pleco experience.

Posted on September 4, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Dwarf Gourami

Scientific NameColisa lalia
Common Name(s)Dwarf gourami
OriginMelanesia
Temperature Range72-82°F
Water Parameters KH 4-10, pH 6.0-7.5
Adult Size3.5in
DietOmnivorous

Dwarf Gourami Facts:

1. Dwarf Gourami build bubble nests and require surface plants to create them.

2. Generally peaceful, but will fight each other for territory. Will sometimes swim in pairs.

3. Singapore raised dwarf gourami have a 22% chance of having dwarf gourami iridovirus.

Species Overview:

The dwarf gourami is a fun fish to care for, as it works well with communities and requires a heavily planted tank. They’re labyrinth fish, so generally they dwell near or at the surface, since they breathe air directly.

A good dwarf gourami habitat should be heavily planted, as they use the plants to build bubble nests and hide. The minimum tank requirement is 10-20 gallons, thought as always, the larger the community the more space is required. The real difficulty in caring for these fish comes from caring for the plants, which can be difficult for novices. The plants require a nutritious substrate, water changes, and specific temperatures and pH to thrive, but the gourami are finicky too and will benefit from a meticulously maintained tank.

Though they shouldn’t be kept with larger aggressive fish, dwarf gourami are incredibly timid and docile with other species. They won’t fight back if being nipped and bullied, so it’s important to monitor the tank. If there are multiple dwarf gourami or other species of gourami,  they may fight each other for territory, so it’s best to keep few gourami with ample space along with more timid fish. Cichlids in particular can be dangerous as they do tend to gang up on other fish. Male bettas will also pick on them, but female bettas are fine. These gourami are also easily spooked, being so timid, so the tank should be kept somewhere somber and quiet.

Feeding them is fairly easy. They’re omnivorous and will eat algae based food, as well as freeze dried meaty food, like blood worms and brine shrimp. To keep them well-fed, be sure to provide them with a varied enough diet. They don’t require anything more complex than that.

They’re a moderately easy fish to keep and the males are fun to watch. They build bubble nests using debris, which is why it’s important to have ample floating plants and plant litter. This is often done when they’re ready to mate, so if there is a nest, monitor the tank closely but be sure not to disturb the fish. They have an interesting breeding ritual, where the female swims in circles beneath the nest. Eventually the eggs will float up to the nest, and the male will collect any that haven’t. After several hours, he’ll add a protective layer to the nest and within three days, the eggs will have developed into free-swimming fry.

These beautiful fish come in red, powder blue, a turquoise variation, so even if they aren’t mating, they are beautiful ornamental fish.

Posted on August 25, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Pearl Gourami

Scientific NameTrichogaster leeri
Common Name(s)Pearl gourami
OriginSoutheast Asia, Indonesia
Temperature Range75-86°F
Water ParametersKH 5-18, pH 6.5-8.0
Adult Size4.5in
DietOmnivorous

Pearl Gourami Facts:

1. Like most gouramis, the male of the species is much more ornamental and brightly colored with orange accents.

2. Often considered the most beautiful of the gourami species.

3. Heartier and more accepting of different water conditions than other gourami species.

Species Overview:

The Pearl Gourami is easy to care for. Like other gouramis, it prefers a heavily planted tank with many hiding spaces and ample debris for building bubble nests. They require a larger thank than some of their cousins, at 30 gallons at the very least, but they’re just as communal and peaceful. Caring for the plants provides ample maintenance for these fish, though they aren’t as finicky as some other species. They do like to hide though, and prefer a somber habitat. They also need to have direct access to fresh air since they are labyrinth fish. 

Though they shouldn’t be kept with larger aggressive fish, pearl gourami are incredibly timid and docile with other species. In general, they only fight with other members of the gourami species, but they shouldn’t be kept with aggressive fish. They have long feeler-like ventral fins that drag as they swim, and nipper fish, like certain tetras and barbs, will take advantage and nip at them. Keep them with similarly sized, peaceful fish.

Feeding is very simple. They eat just about any food on offer, but to ensure a good, healthy diet, be sure to add variation. They can eat flakes, freeze-dried food, and algae-based food. They aren’t picky eaters, so whatever works for the community, as long as it’s a balanced diet, will be fine. 

These fish have an unusual mating ritual. The male first builds his bubble nest, then courts the female. When she accepts him, he wraps his body around hers beneath the nest, and she expels her eggs. The male then goes to gather them in his mouth and will place them in the nest, where he will tend to them until they hatch into free-swimming fry about three days later. It’s an endearing ritual, but the male and female must be separated after mating, and the male can only stay with the fry until they hatch.

They are regarded as one of the most beautiful fish, but they can become stressed. If they spend most of their time hiding in one corner or start losing their color, it’s a sign that something in the tank is amiss. To avoid this, make sure it’s somewhere calm and a quiet and that the decorative objects aren’t too brightly colored. If it’s a communal tank, monitor the fish to make sure nobody is being a bully, and consider dither fish if the community is overly aggressive.

The pearl gourami is a relatively easy fish to raise though, so enjoy it!

Posted on August 25, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Nile Perch

Scientific NameLates niloticus
Common Name(s)Nile perch
OriginCongo, Nile, Senegal, Volta
Temperature Range72-82°F
Water ParameterspH 7.0-8.5
Adult Size121–193cm
DietPiscivorous

Nile Perch

It can be fun to find a rare fish as a pet, but keep in mind, that while your pet may have an exotic name, chances are it is a domesticated version of the river monster you’re trying to grow. The true Nile Perch is a behemoth that has been featured on shows like River Monsters. Native to Africa, adults can be over 6 feet long, and weigh up to 440lbs. The pet variety can be difficult to find, but makes for an active pet that is surprisingly easy to care for.

Setup

These are hearty freshwater fish, but keep in mind when purchasing a tank for larger species of fish, you’re buying for long-term care, and so should plan for the largest community you want. A 90-gallon tank is recommended for keeping a perch, as they are large, active, and can grow to fit their surroundings. A larger starter tank will allow you to keep more fish, as well as keep your maintenance time down. The tank will need a heater to maintain temperatures between 75-77 degrees Fahrenheit. They are native to Africa and prefer warm waters.

Habitat

Perch can grow to be large, but they are fairly hearty. As with any pet, you want to minimize any danger, so be sure to only use good quality fake plants or real ones. They’re predatory, but all animals like to have places to relax and hide, so be sure to create a bit of topography with rocks and logs. Often these fish can be used for small, decorative ponds as well, so things like plants, Indian almond leaves, and drift wood are all excellent ways to create a natural habitat.

Diet

Perch will eat anything that can fit in their mouths, so keep that in mind when choosing their food and tank mates. Also be aware that they are hearty fish and prefer live food. You can keep a separate tank to breed feeder fish or buy cheap feeders, but to properly care for your Perch, you need to provide a varied diet, which can become expensive if not properly planned. They can eat shrimp, beef, earthworm, and anything else normally sold as live feed or bait.

Behavior

If you want to add them to a community, be sure to keep them with larger, docile species. Perch will eat anything that fit in their mouths, so are not good mates for smaller species of fish. Ornamental tanks at pet stores can be a very good guide for keeping larger species together.

Perch are relatively easy to care for as long as you’re comfortable providing live food. They really will eat anything they can chew, so as long as you’re keeping their diet varied, they’re the same as caring for any other large, freshwater carnivore. If you are intent on having a mini monster in your tank, they’re a great option. Keep in touch with your favorite sellers, as they can be hard to find regularly.

Posted on August 15, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Betta Fish

Scientific NameBetta splendens
Common Name(s)Betta, Siamese fighting fish
OriginMekong basin of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam
Temperature Range77-86°F
Water Parameters 6.8 to 7.4
Adult Size3in
DietLive foods preferred, will eat flakes and frozen foods

Betta fish, or Siamese Fighting Fish, have a bad reputation as being difficult fish to keep. Don’t let the community scare you though. They can live in harmony with other fish, given the proper setup and care.

Choosing your Fish

It’s no secret that Bettas fight, however it’s mostly against other Bettas. Males are very aggressive and are effectively highlanders of the pond. Females however, are generally more docile and can live in groups. Both can be safely integrated into community tanks, the difference being that you can keep multiple females, but only one male at a time.

Betta Tank Setup

It’s always recommended to cycle a tank or to use a primer to condition the water. Some also suggest buying a heater, but if your home is naturally warm or your tank has a built in light and isn’t too large, it should be sufficiently warm. The tank size will be dependent on preference and population, but for a single fish, five gallons is usually recommended. They sell tanks specifically made for Bettas but they’re often small and made of plastic. Just because they exist doesn’t mean they’re any good. It’s highly suggested you get a tank that can support plants, a filtration system, and provide lots of room.

Habitat

Bettas are sought for their beautiful fins, but those fins are fragile. You should keep only live plants if possible, and avoid any decorations with sharp edges. Be sure to watch the water level as Bettas have been known to jump as high as 3cm. If your aquarium has a lid, keep it closed at all times. If not, keep the water level a little lower than you normally would and try to keep reflective surfaces away from the tank unless it’s a supervised play session. They will fight their reflections. They also need plenty of shade as well as nooks and crannies to hide in. The more comfortable your Betta is, the less you’ll have to worry about it starting fights or trying to escape.

Betta Fish Food

With lots of Betta food on the market, you only need to know that if your Betta is part of a community, you still need to get proper Betta food, as it won’t be interested in standard flake food. It will share in any live food though, like brine shrimp and blood worms.

Behaviour

Males are aggressive toward other males and should never be kept together. Females can co-exist with other females as long as they have adequate space and places to hide. Both can be kept in community tanks, however, be sure to keep them with timid fish. They can be active but aren’t fast swimmers, and might get picked on by faster, more aggressive species. Be sure to research any additions to the tank, though in general, they can live with the usual suspects, like tetra and guppies (timid feeder fish).

Posted on August 14, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Arowana

Scientific NameOsteoglossidae
Common Name(s)Arowana, water monkey, dragon fish
OriginAfrica
Temperature Range79-86°F
pH Range6.0-7.0
Adult Size60 -90cm
DietCrustaceans, insects, smaller fishes, dead meat

Arowana Facts:

1. The name Arowana comes from the Indonesian arwana or nirwana, meaning fish of paradise

2. Arowana have been recorded jumping more than 6 ft from the water to pick off insects and birds from overhanging branches in South America, earning them the nickname ‘Water Monkeys.’

3. Arowana are mouthbrooders, the parents hold hundreds of eggs in their mouths while hatching, the young may make several trips outside the parent's mouth to investigate the surroundings before leaving permanently.

Arowana Overview:

The Arowana is large a freshwater fish that has relatively large scales and an impressive jumping ability earning it two nicknames, the aforementioned ‘water monkeys, and also the ‘Dragon Fish’ because of the way the light shines off it’s ‘armor’.

The Arowana swims near the water surface to seek its prey, mostly feeding in insects and small fish although specimens have been found with the remains of birds, bats, and snakes in their stomachs, made possible by the Arowana’s drawbridge-like mouth, designed for larger meals.

Contrary to their reputation Arowana often exhibit parental care building nests and protect their young after they hatch.

The Arowana family includes several species spread throughout the world, from South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

The Asian Arowana is a listed protected animal so the silver arowana is often kept as a pet, being considered an acceptable and obtainable substitute.

At least five types of fossils dating back as far as the Late Cretaceous and the Jurassic period are widely considered to belong to the Arowana family. Relatedossils have been found on all continents except Antarctica.

Posted on August 14, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Clown Knife Fish

Scientific NameChitala ornata
Common Name(s)Spotted knifefish, clown featherback, clown knife fish
OriginSouth Asia, Thailand
Temperature Range75-82°F
pH Range6.0-8.0
Adult Size10 to 40 inches (25- 50 cm) maximum 100cm
DietPiscivores

Knifefish Facts:

1. Knifefish inhabit lakes, swamps, and the moving backwaters between medium and large rivers.

2. More of recent, the knifefish are been popping up in the United states among the warmer climates states. The lifespan is about 8- 15years

3.  It has a close family called chitala chitala which Is found in India and is also a common import.  Their colors, as well as the behavior of the two are similar but the India species is said to get a bit larger, up to 4 feet (122cm).

Knifefish Overview:

 The clown knife fish can get as big as up to about 3.5 feet (100cm) and usually weigh about 11 pounds (5kg) in the wild mostly. However most of the tank raised specimens will not grow much bigger than 10-20 inches (25 to 50 cm).  It has an elongated and flat body structure with an arched back. It fin is continuous along the underside formed by a joining of the caudal and anal fin. The fin allows it to move either forwards of backward because of it undulating nature.  It also possesses a very small dorsal fin. The body color is silvery gray. The most distinguishing characteristics is a variable pattern of large spots above the base of the anal fin. There are no two patterns that are the same, however. They may sometimes have no spot at all, and sometimes you may find one with two rows of smaller spots.

The clown knife fish are carnivores in the wild. They are predatory animals, primary piscivores, which means they mostly eat fish. But in aquarium they like to eat fresh foods like worms or small fish. But they can be groom to eat sinking pellets or some other dried food of substance.

While in juveniles can tolerate one another, as they mature, they switch to a solitary existence. They will require a hidden place to hide for their prey in the aquarium. The clown knife fish can be kept with other larger fish that are not fin nippers. The juvenile may show a striped pattern to their spotting, but as they mature, all this will evolve into large and possibly fewer spots in the tail region. Whenever you want to treat for parasite infestation, treat as a smooth skin fish.

Posted on August 14, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Cardinal Tetra

Scientific NameParacheirodon axelrodi
Common Name(s)Cardinal Tetra
OriginSouth America
Temperature Range73-81° F
pH Range5.5-7.5
Adult Size2in
DietOmnivore

Cardinal Tetra Facts:

1.  Named Cardinal Tetra because of its vivid red color

2. Has a laterally bisecting iridescent blue line characteristic of the Paracheirodon species

3. Often mistaken as Neon Tetra

Species Overview:

The Cardinal Tetra is a freshwater fish native to the various well-vegetated tributaries of the upper Orinoco and Negro rivers in South America. Its average size is 1-2 inches in length with a lifespan of several years in the wild, but only about a year in captivity. It is named after its vivid red color and also has an iridescent blue streak laterally bisecting it, a characteristic of the Paracheirodon species.

Among aquarium owners, the Cardinal Tetras are very common, although it was difficult to breed in captivity up until recent years. A fairly easy way to tell if a fish is bred or wild-caught is to check for damaged fins that can be normally found on the wild fish. There is a big production behind the supply of these fish. In Brazil, the locals have started a cardinal fishery where the catching of the highly valued fish has become an entire industry.

Cardinal Tetras are very peaceful and will school together to form brilliant displays of activity and color, a reason why they’re a favorite for aquarium owners. They typically need at least a 10-gallon aquarium that is densely planted, as well as needing areas of low or subdued lighting. They should be kept in groups of six or more and be housed with other peaceful wildlife. They also should be kept in soft, acidic water with very few changes to their water parameters. They are very tough fish and are able to withstand harsher waters, leading many owners to overestimate what they should be accustomed to.

Diet is another strong suit of the Cardinal Tetra, as they have a very wide variety in what they are willing to eat. They will accept small foods such as brine shrimp, freeze-dried bloodworms, and most forms of dry food.  They are very sturdy fish and are not picky with their food, causing them to be a fan favorite of all aquarium owners.

Posted on August 14, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Mosquito Fish

Scientific NameGambusia affinis
Common Name(s)Mosquitofish, Mosquito fish
OriginMississippi River Basin; Illinois, Indiana
Temperature Range68-82°F
pH Range6.5-8.0
Adult Size3in
DietOmnivore; mosquito larvae, other live food

Mosquitofish Facts:

1. They are nicknamed ‘Mosquito-fish’ because their diet is mostly mosquito larvae.

2. Their Latin name ‘Gambusia’ means useless.

3. Female Mosquitofish can consume as much as 150% of their own body weight in mosquito larvae in one day.

 Male Mosquitofish

Male Mosquitofish

 Female Mosquitofish

Female Mosquitofish

Species Overview:

Mosquitofish are a tiny freshwater pond fish native to North America and parts of Mexico. As a species they usually do not grow larger than 3”, with the females being much larger than the males.

They were introduced to many other countries as pest control, and are therefore present in a number of countries including Australia. Mosquitofish are highly adaptable to a wide range of temperatures and water conditions making them suitable for use in many different countries.

Since Mosquitofish mainly eat Mosquito larvae as their name would suggest, they were introduced to reduce the natural populations of mosquitoes in many countries, and reduce the spread of diseases such as malaria and West Nile Virus (diseases which mosquitoes act as a vector for).

Although their name would suggest that their main food source is mosquito larvae, the species do eat other types of insects and vegetation from their habitat such as zooplankton. Mosquitofish cannot survive on mosquito larvae alone. When kept as pets they may also eat fish flakes.

Mosquitofish usually live for 1-2-years in the wild, with a maximum of 3 years when kept as pets. They give birth to live young and produce 3-4 broods per year of around 60 fish each brood. The Gestation period takes around 1 month. The young usually reach sexual maturity within 2 months for males and one month for females (depending on when in the season they are born).

Mosquitofish can be useful when kept as pets in your own man-made freshwater pond by eating algae, other vegetation and insect larvae and keep the pond looking nice. They should not however be released from your pond or aquarium into the wild. They can detrimentally affect natural ecosystems.

When kept as pets it’s not essential to feed them often unless there is a lack of insects/algae or it is a new pond. Mosquitofish should NOT be put in new ponds (especially concrete ponds) as concrete leeches lime and that will make Mosquitofish sick (by altering the pH of the water).

The Mosquito Fish requires at least 20 gallons with moderate water temperature and plant life for hiding from predators like possums, cats and birds.

Posted on August 14, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Oscar Fish

Common NameOscar, Velvet Cichlid, Mabled Cichlid
Scientific NameAstronotus ocellatus
OriginSouth America
Temperature Range72-84°F
pH Range6-8
Adult Size8-16in
DietCarnivorous/varied

Overview of the Oscar

An Oscar, also known as a Cichlid is a tropical fish that originates in the Amazon River Basin. This fish comes in many sizes and colors. Colors include different varieties of red, usually on the sides, albino, yellow, and grey to name a few. Oscars are very popular among aquarium hobbyists, and one reason is because the fish learn to recognize their owners and are very tame. Oscars start out very small and cute, which is why they are appealing to so many aquarium owners. But, if you are a new aquarium owner and think the Oscar is going to stay small, you will be very surprised when one day you wake up and see they outgrew their tank. They will need lots of care, a nice large and clean environment, and they live a long time.

An Oscars’ Growth Rate

Oscars start out very small when you see them in the store. First, when you buy them, they are about one to two inches in length. Depending on how you care for them, depends on how fast they grow, but an average Oscar may grow about one inch a month for the first seven to eight months of its life. When it is about a year old, it will be about eight inches long.

Caring for your Oscar

To care for an Oscar, you will need to get food that is suited for them. They will eat just about anything that fits in their mouth. To keep them healthy, they will need a variety of foods. Keep in mind, they are carnivorous, however, you do not need to feed them live fish. Feeding them live fish such as guppies or goldfish will put them at a higher risk for developing diseases. Stores sell frozen food or pellets and as long as they are meaty, the Oscar will do just fine. Fruit, insects, crayfish and worms are all good things to feed Oscar Fish, but ensure that you vary it enough that they get all the nutrients that they need, supplementing with vitamins if necessary.

Cleaning your Oscar

Make sure you clean their tank regularly and have an excellent canister filter for the tank; two is even better. Because they become so large, they have larger appetites and are very messy eaters, so this leaves a lot of waste behind. This will entail changing about 25% of their water every two to four weeks. You want to make sure the tank stays pretty clean and you want the nitrate levels to be low. Test the water once a week to make sure the levels is at their best.

Life Expectancy and Disease

An Oscar’s life span is really long. They can live as long as 15 years if taken care of properly. Be prepared that if you do buy an Oscar, it will be with yours for years to come. That is why some owners love them because they are around for many years. If you are one to get attached to your pets and want yours to last for a long time, then this is the pet for you.

In general Oscar Fish are a species which don’t show many outward signs of physical illness. Internally they are very susceptible to deficiencies and if left untreated they can develop ‘Hole in the Head Syndrome’. Hole in the Head Syndrome can be ‘cured’ by correcting the deficiencies which the fish has, whether they are in the water or in its diet. If fish which are affected by ‘Hole in the Head’ are left untreated the ‘holes’ in the head will get bigger and infected and the fish will eventually die.

Posted on August 11, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Cuban Gar

Common NameCuban Gar
Scientific NameAtractosteus tristoechus
OriginCuba
Temperature Range64-73°F
pH Range5.5-8
Adult Size100-200cm
DietLive Food

Cuban Gar Facts:

  • Currently on the endangered species list.
  • These fish are covered in a thin coat of oil that helps them move through the water with ease.
  • Cuban Gars can breathe air thanks to their primitive swim bladder.

Cuban Gar

The Cuban Gar is an interesting specimen. As a pet it’s equivalent to buying a prehistoric beast. It remains one of the most primitive specimens still alive today, though it is on the endangered species list. If choosing to raise a Cuban gar, it should be noted that they’re extremely hearty fish and can live for decades if properly maintained. This means investing in an extremely large tank, or considering an outdoor installation that can be adequately heated and maintained.

Tank maintenance and habitat maintenance for these fish can be simple since they have such a broad tolerance for different conditions. In the wild, the fish can be found in freshwater pools, flood plains, swamps, and rivers. Generally they can be found in public aquariums and breeding facilities, since they require an incredible amount of space and can live for so long. You can occasionally find them offered as pets, but that market is limited due to their endangered status, size, lifespan, and diet. They’re ambush predators and will eat whatever can fit in their mouths like many other larger predatory fish, but even so, feeder fish are not the recommended fare for these guys. Instead, they should be weaned onto frozen food like prawns as early as possible. As such, the initial cost to feed them can be very high. Juveniles need to be fed daily and will not survive on feeder fish if you choose to skimp. If absolutely necessary, it’s suggested that feeders be kept separately for up to two weeks where they can be fed a highly nutritious diet to get them healthy enough to be of nutritional value to the gar. Not a whole lot of fun there. As Cuban gars grow, they require fewer feedings, but heartier meals like whole trout. They are a large, interesting fish, but proper maintenance can become costly.

If you really and truly need to see a gar, your best bet is to visit your local aquarium where they’re often kept. Easily confused with the alligator gar, the Cuban gar is notably smaller with a less pronounced snout. They are absolutely beautiful to look at and if you really do want to be more involved with a fish, Cuban gars are certainly available if you look hard enough and have a little patience. But again, be sure to invest in the proper equipment, the proper nutrition, and make sure you have the time to give up for your living fossil. They are best for advanced aquarists, but sometimes it can be fun to raise a real river monster.

Posted on August 10, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Snakehead - Invasively Beautiful

Snakehead Facts:

  • Snakeheads on land can survive for 4 days.
  • Snakeheads are considered invasive species in American waters.
  • Northern Snakehead population throughout North America is unknown.

The Snakehead Fish

The snakehead fish is an air-breathing freshwater fish that is native to certain areas in Asia and Africa. Unfortunately it is an invasive species in American waters and has been found in freshwater sources across many different U.S. states. The reason it’s called a snakehead is because of the enlarged scales that can be found on its head. It’s also very long and shaped like a cylinder. When you’re looking at it head on you can see it has a protruding lower jaw with a row of sharp teeth. The snakehead fish varies in color and size but will typically match the color of the freshwater environment it’s living in.

Considered an unusual fish, the snakehead is a top-level predator and is highly capable of destroying populations of fish in the body of water it’s residing in. This makes these fish much more dangerous when it’s placed in non-native areas as it will completely decimate any native fish populations. The fact that it’s a top-level predator means that it has no natural enemies in its environment and the population of these fish can continue to grow unharmed. The majority of a snakeheads diet is fish, crustaceans, and insects. In rare cases they will eat plants depending on the availability of prey or the season.

 Snakehead on land

Snakehead on land

The snakehead prefers muddy and vegetated waters where it can blend in and hide well. Ponds, swamps, and slow moving streams are where this fish can typically be found and it’s able to survive in temperatures between 0 and 30 degrees Celsius.  What sets this fish apart from other predatory fish is the fact that the snakehead can survive out of water. It can breathe air easily and can travel on land for a period of up to 4 days without having to enter another body of water. If they burrow in mud they can survive for an even longer period of time.

They travel on the surface similar to a way a snake would by wriggling their bodies along while searching for mud or water. The reason this is possible is that they have evolved over time in areas of seasonal water availability and when their current water source dries up they have been forced to find somewhere new. Snakehead fish do not need to consume as much oxygen in the water as typical fish. There is a space above their heads where oxygen is passed through and then added to the blood vessels. This enables the snakehead to live effectively both in and out of water. With how aggressive this fish is and how capable it is at moving around, the transportation and sale of snakehead fish is illegal in many parts of the world.

While the snakehead fish has not currently fully established itself in North American water supplies, if it does happen to do so the consequences would be disastrous. Even in Northern state climates the snakehead is capable of surviving a cold winter and can even breed successfully throughout the season. The fact that they can travel over land to new bodies of water makes them that much more deadly and is the reason why people are worried. The snakehead grows quite large, up to 4 feet in some cases, and is highly aggressive. Smaller local fish populations are at stake of becoming wiped out whenever this fish is introduced into their habitat.

Snakehead fish can also reproduce effectively in any environment. A female snakehead in optimal conditions can produce over 10,000 young in a single year. This ensures that large populations of snakehead can establish themselves quickly and start devouring local native fish populations. Many freshwater ecosystems are very fragile and highly susceptible to the damage caused by a growing population of snakeheads. Foreign and exotic fish are not welcome in many freshwater bodies around the world and a lot of work has been done to ensure that these fish do not cause any more harm to ecosystems they’re currently in. While they’re fun to fish for and look at, scientists around the world are continuing to develop ways of removing them from water systems they have invaded.

In its natural habitat the snakehead fish is a beautiful specimen. However the problems people have with them are when they’re moved from areas in Asia and Africa to locations in Western Europe and North America. As a fearsome and vicious predator the snakehead has established a name for itself as one of the most dangerous and invasive freshwater fish on the planet. Besides the dangers involving this fish there are many interesting facts about it when it comes to its diet, how it can survive out of the water, and why it’s such a strong and effective predator. The snakehead will be studied for years to come regarding the impact that invasive species have and how the sale and transport of illegal fish impacts local economies. What is going to happen to this fish in the future, especially in freshwater bodies where it’s not wanted, is unknown. However, the snakehead fish will continue to dominate and live at the top of the food chain in the areas where it belongs.

Posted on August 10, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish, News.

Neon Tetra

Scientific NameParacheirodon innesi
Common NameNeon Tetra
OriginSouth America
Temperature Range72-79°F
pH Range6.8-7.5
Adult Size1.5in
DietAll types. Varied diet preferred.

If you are looking for a all time classic freshwater aquarium fish, Neon Tetras are a fantastic choice. They add beautiful tropical colors without the hassle of a saltwater setup. 

Setup

First of all, as with any fish, be sure to cycle your tank. For some species this is extremely important, but tetra aren’t overly fragile and will live happily in most freshwater setups with little to no changes at all.

Habitat

Neons like having places to hide. They aren’t the quickest or most agile swimmers, and instead stick to schools or try to find nooks and crannies to hide in. There are thousands of simple, cheap options for creating a stylish and functional Tetra habitat including aquarium-safe logs, rocks, real or fake plants, or fish castles. If you happen to have an aquarium with a built-in light, be absolutely sure that your tank contains shady spots for them to hide in as well – you’ll see more of them if you’ve got open shade as well as hiding spots. These are timid fish, so keep in mind that too much exposure can actually stress them out and affect their health and coloration.

Food

Neon Tetra are omnivores and so will eat decaying plants, algae, live food, and fish food making them excellent additions as maintenance fish. To keep them vibrant, tropical fish food is highly recommended since it usually comes formulated to enhance color. They’re fun to feed too, since you can (and should) vary their diet with live food, algae wafers, or a blanched cucumber or zucchini.

Neon Tetra Disease

If you notice a drastic lack of color, this can mean your fish are either stressed or sick. If water quality and habitat are fine, check their skin for parasites and/or spots and quarantine any fish with noticeable issues. You can try to treat them, but unfortunately, Neon Tetra are susceptible to Neon Tetra Disease. This is a parasite that affects all tetra and can affect other species as well. There’s no way to treat it, so removing the fish and euthanizing it is considered the most humane option. You can recognize the disease by looking for white spots, lumps, drunken swimming, and a lack of color.

Behaviour

Neons are always a welcome addition to community tanks. They’re great as decoration, maintenance, and population control as they will eat fry of other species. You can choose less aggressive breeds of barbs, guppies, angelfish, snails, frogs, even shrimp or bettas to live with them without any problems. They prefer communities, even if they’re a bit shy. Just be sure to keep an eye on your population as all fish need space. Always keep in mind that these are not aggressive fish, nor are they particularly talented swimmers, so it’s not recommended to keep them with many aggressive species. But, in greater numbers, they can actually help calm your tank down if you have more aggressive species.

Posted on August 7, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Swai Fish

The Swai  Fish, or Iridescent Shark, is a rather unremarkable fish that is typically farmed in Asia.  However, it seems to create a bit of controversy in what contexts it appears.  Whether it is to be kept in an aquarium or to be eaten at the dinner table, the Swai Fish has opposing viewpoints.

The Iridescent Shark is not really a shark but gets its name because it resembles on in appearance.   It can be found on the market as Swai Fish and shark catfish.  It is a member of the catfish family.  As a juvenile, the Swai Fish radiates a glow from the edges of its fins, thus given the name Iridescent Shark.   It can grow up to four feet in length and weigh up to nearly 100 pounds.  They are omnivores and will eat other fish, crustaceans, and different types of water plants.  They are either dark gray or black.  In addition to the iridescence, the juveniles usually have a stripe just above the midline that generally disappears in their adult years. 

The Swai Fish is found naturally in Vietnam and the Mekong basin.  They are a freshwater fish and prefer the warm, tropical climate in Asia.  They are found in the Mekong River and Chao Phraya River and prefer the deep waters of large rivers.  The Swai is a migratory fish that swims upstream during monsoon season to breed in the floodwaters.  As the monsoon season ends, the fish migrate to the more shallow waters downstream to rear their young.  Geography seems to play a role in their migratory patterns.  In the northern regions, they travel to the flooded waters from May to July and return to the shallow waters from September to December.  In the southern regions, they migrate to the deeper waters from October to February and are found again in shallow waters in the spring.  The fish are easily bred and is a large provider of food in the region and across Asia. Aqua farmers breed the Swai Fish in muddy freshwater ponds and deliver them worldwide.

The Swai Fish is often found in commercial aquariums and zoos across the world because of their appearance and resemblance to a shark.  However, they are often sold as juveniles in pet stores and aquarium hobby stores as juveniles.  The problems arise when these juveniles as small as 3 or 4 inches will soon grow to be four foot “tank busters” and weigh nearly 100 pounds.  All too commonly, novice aquarium enthusiasts will purchase these fish without researching their physical qualities.  The dealer is anxious for a quick sale.  And the poor fish gets sold and put in a 20 gallon aquarium.  There it will survive perhaps a year if its growth is stunted because of its environment.  When the tank is too small, the fish is susceptible to stress related diseases.  But the fish that continue to grow into adulthood, they are quickly discarded.  They will often eat other fish kept in the tank with them as they continue to grow.  The fish have very poor eyesight and will see any sudden movements as a threat.  As a result, they will dart rapidly seeking protection and injury often results in smaller tanks as the Swai will swim into the sides of the tank or other objects unknowingly.  Fish kept in tanks that are too small will die from organ failure due to not having the adequate resources to mature.  The recommended tank size is 40 feet which is as large as most people’s homes.  A lesson to amateur freshwater aquarists is to do homework before purchasing any fish.

The next area of controversy for the Swai Fish is its safety for food consumption.  Its meat is considered  sweet although somewhat fishy taste.  The texture is very soft and flaky.  Russia is the largest importer of Swai followed by Spain where it is known as Panga.  Many food markets are taking to the Swai fish because it is very inexpensive even though it is considered an endangered species.  The fillets are very light and contain a good quantity of fish oil which are important to controlling heart disease.  Tests performed on the fillets also show low levels of mercury.  Overall, if harvested correctly, the Swai Fish comes highly recommended as an inexpensive and health fish selection.

The controversy comes from the natural habitats of the fish.  The Mekong River is considered to be heavily polluted with dangerous amounts of toxins and chemicals as many factories release their chemical waste into the river.  This, of course, can make for questionable safety for eating this fish as the Swai will eat other fish and plant life in the area.  Also, there are vendors that don’t follow any quality control can make for a dangerous meal.  For instance, there are reports from France that document fish farmers injecting fish with unregulated hormones to stimulate growth.  The fish are often held in cages in the rivers before being harvested.  However, the Swai Fish that are grown in freshwater ponds and farmed in a safe and clean environment are free from the pollutants and toxins.  These fish ponds have filtration systems to help regulate and mimic naturally occurring water levels that the fish enjoy.  These are the fish that consumers need to look for when purchasing fillets at their local market.  Always look at labels and try to identify a large distribution company on the package.  Most reputable distributors won’t be associated with the unscrupulous fish farmers.

The Swai Fish is found in nature in two muddy swollen rivers in South Asia.  From there they have reached into aquariums, supermarkets, and dinner tables around the world.  When the consumer does their homework, the Swai Fish can be avoided as an aquarium fish in a private tank.  It is best left to the commercial display tanks at the zoo or public aquariums.  And for dinner, the Swai Fish is found to be a delicious and healthy fillet.  Again, it is up to the consumer to look for the information on the label and make an educated choice for the best options.

 

Related: Aquaculture in the U.S.

Posted on March 18, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish, Guide.