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.

Sword Fish - Facts

Sword Fish Facts

Swordfish, otherwise known as Xiphias Gladius is a species of bill fish. They are known for their easily identifiable sword like protrusion from their faces, which is used to slice at prey and make them easier to catch. 

They are the only member of the Xiphiidae family - although they do seem superficially similar to fish such as Marlin, sailfish they are in fact a different species. The difference between marlin, other billfish and Swordfish is the shape and texture of their bill. Marlins have a rougher rounded, shorter bill, and they also come in a variety of species.

The swordfish’s closest relative is Chinese sword fish or Psephurus Gladius (a sturgeon) which lives in fresh water and not salt water and has a much longer life-span.
The sword like protrusion of this species allows them makes short work of their favorite prey – squid, octopus & smaller pelagic fish, such as bluefish and mackerel - even in large numbers. Swordfish prefer 'pelagic' fish as they are the type of fish which are normally found in the upper region of the sea - not to close to reefs, or the ocean floor. Sword fish tend to swim in water depths of up to 2,100 feet, much deeper than other billfish such as Marlin.

The sword fish’s unique bill also puts it at a very high position on the food chain, with its only predators being killer whales, tuna, sharks and man.

At birth, the sword is not present, but rather a set of teeth are. Over time the teeth are lost and the 'sword' grows as the fish matures. They are also born with scales, which disappear by the time full maturity has been reached. Swordfish are considered fully mature at 4-5 years old. This is when they can begin reproduction. Mature females are considerably larger than males.

Swordfish reproduce by laying eggs, that is to say that they are oviparous. Female swordfish can lay anywhere between 1,000,000 and 30,000,000 eggs at one time and fertilization is internal. The mother lays zygote eggs and allows them to develop externally from her body.  It is a common method of reproduction for many fish.
Swordfish usually grow to be up to 10ft long and weigh 150-200lbs on average, although they have been noted to have grown to be up to 16ft long and weigh an incredible 1000+ lbs in rare cases.

Swordfish can be found slicing through the warmer waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans at high speeds. It's possible for them to reach high speeds when swimming as their sword can both help in swimming function and it breaks up the water around the fish allowing it to propel itself forward faster.

The reason that sword fish tend to stick to the warmer regions of water is a nearly negligible source of inner body heat regulation, meaning they can't keep themselves at the optimum temperature they need to survive naturally. They are ectothermic animals, which rely almost entirely on the environmental heat to stay alive.

This species prefers to be in water which is around 18-22 Celsius or the mid 60s to 70s Fahrenheit. Although they can and have ventured into colder waters as they can withstand a somewhat varied temperature range as they are a highly migratory species and they do not stay in a given area for particularly long. Unfortunately these mostly nocturnal fish do not tend to live for much longer than 10 years.

They are a commercially sought 'food fish' all over the world; the USA, Canada, Portugal, Brazil, Japan, Spain, Taiwan, and Uruguay all indulge in Sword fishing. Harpoons or fishing rods are prevalent tools used to catch sword fish as they are adept at using their 'swords' to cut through nets when trapped. Even when the harpoon method is used Swordfish are still extremely dangerous and put up fierce resistance. They often end up impaling their swords in the ocean floor or causing extreme damage to the boats with their swords.

It is commonly grilled and served with lemon as a dish and is very high in potassium, protein, omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin D and many minerals.

 

The Encyclopedia of Animals; A Complete Visual Guide by Drs. Fred Cooke, Hugh Dingle, Stephen Hutchinson, George McKay, Richard Schodde, Noel Tait and Richard Vogt.

Weldon Owens Pty Ltd.

Posted on August 11, 2014 and filed under Saltwater 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.

The World of Fishkeeping

The vast underwater world of fish is truly amazing. Fish are known to have colonized almost every aquatic environment on this planet Earth. From the freezing depths of the Arctic Ocean to the shallow pools of the Sahara desert, the finfish have permeated far reaches well beyond any man-made borders. At the same time, the geographical separations have created an abundance of variation among these fish. Today, we can see the product of over 400 million years of population fragmentation and natural selection. Many new species have been created as species of fish have become too different to interbreed after a long period of separation. In fact, this process has lead to 25,000 different species of fish known today, and many more are being discovered each year. This makes fish the most diverse group of the major vertebrae groups.

The Japanese must have realized the beauty of the finfish when they started selectively breeding the wild carp 2000 years ago to develop domesticated koi and goldfish as strictly ornamental fish. In fact, records of fishkeeping can be traced back to as far as the ancient Sumerians. Fishkeeping is still practiced by many people thousands of years later as they are fascinated by the underwater world of the finfish. Due to advancement in technology of today, it is possible to bring a piece of private underwater world into one’s home or office with ease. A well maintained aquarium can bring life to a space and become a comforting centerpiece of the entire room. An aquarium is appreciated by people of any age and can provide endless hours of entertainment. Gazing into the beautiful shoal of fish swimming against the gentle current of water is exceptionally therapeutic. It is no wonder that they appear so often in waiting rooms to calm the frustrated minds. In order to enjoy your aquarium however, understanding basic fish keeping practices and species specific requirements are vital. Welcome to the world’s greatest hobby of fishkeeping.

Posted on August 10, 2014 and filed under News.

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.

Flying Fish - Facts

flying fish.jpg

The World of Flying Fish

One of the most unusual species of fish in the ocean is the Exocoetidae, of flying fish.  This animal is unlike any other fish in that it is able to literally fly through the air.  In certain parts of the world, the flying fish is a special part of the culture through heritage, providing food, and through culture.

The flying fish generally grows up to 18 inches in maturity and never weighs more than two pounds.  The modern flying fish is thought to have evolved some 66 million years ago according to fossils.  There are 40 known species of flying fish in the world. The ability to fly is thought to have evolved from the need to escape predators in the sea.  Swordfish, Tuna, and Marlin are known to feed on flying fish. 

The flying fish has unusually large pectoral fins and a forked tail.  To launch itself into the air, the fish angles itself at a trajectory to reach the surface, beating its tail up to 70 times per second. As it breaks the surface of the water, it spreads its large pectoral fins and glides.  As it loses momentum, it puts its fins down and re-enters the water.  Sometimes it can just touch the surface of the water and regain altitude for another glide.  The typical length of the flight is about 150 feet and lasts 15-20 seconds.  In 2008, a Japanese film crew just happened to catch a flying fish catch flight for 45 seconds which is the longest recorded flight.  Flying fish have been reported found on decks of ships which indicate that they are capable of reaching altitudes of up to 20 feet.  Most flights are typically four to five feet in height. 

Flying fish are found in all oceans but are especially common in warmer, tropical climates.  They feed on smaller fish and plankton.  While their numbers are not known, they are thought to be relatively common and without risk of extinction.  They are attracted to light, which is why they are found at the surfaces of the water.  This also is a downfall as they are easily caught by fishing nets.  Flying fish are heavily fished in Asia and are a delicacy in Taiwan and Japanese cuisine.

Because of the unusual flying characteristics, the flying fish is revered in several cultures all over the world.   The island of Barbados is known as “the land of the flying fish.”  At one time, flying fish were very common here because of an unusual amount of plankton in the waters here.  Until recently, when boats from other nearby islands began trade with Barbados, they were a staple of society. But as more boats came to the island, overfishing occurred and the flying fish were pushed farther out into the ocean.  Today, there are laws in place that protect the flying fish from being overfished as island nations near Barbados respect and honor an agreement to allow enough fish to survive to ensure future generations of the animal.  Imagery of the flying fish are found on Barbados currency, in the national seal, and on passports.  And it is considered a staple of the diet in Barbados.

Similar to Barbados, Taiwan and other Asian cultures place high value on the flying fish.  Not only is the fish considered a delicacy and heavily fished in Asian waters, but it is also revered in culture with festivals and celebrations.  Taiwan calls their island the home of the flying fish.  Each year in Spring, the fish migrate into the warmer waters of Taiwan.  In March, a giant festival is held to celebrate the arrival of the fish.  However, the Taiwanese culture acknowledges to species of flying fish.  The first to arrive is the species Cheilopogon Unicolor.  The Taiwan fishermen have a unique way to catch these fish.  They will go out into the water at night in small boats similar to canoes and wave fire torches above the water.  As we know, the fish are attracted to light and will take flight at the sight of the fire.  And, unwittingly, they take flight into the boats where they are returned to the island to be shared in many delicacies of the region.

However, the main species of flying fish doesn’t appear until April when the Cheilopogon Cyanopterus makes its appearance in Taiwanese waters.  The people believe that this species is the “soul and chief” of the flying fish and, therefore, most revered.  So important is the flying fish to the Taiwan culture that even the calendar seasons revolve around the migration of the flying fish.  The spring season is called ‘rajun,' or the flying fish season. Summer and autumn are known as 'teteka,’ or when the flying fish season ends.   Winter is called ‘aminon,’ or when there are no flying fish. 

There is a cluster of small islands of the main island of Taiwan where the flying fish takes an especially important role.  Each season, they have a flying fish festival where the young men of the islands perform ceremonial rituals in homage to the fish.  The flying fish are considered a gift from Heaven and are cooked in a special way.  No salt is used while cooking the fish.  Instead, they soak the fish in seawater and then hang it up to dry in the sun. Then they store the fish in special homemade containers to last during the seasons of no flying fish.  Another tradition unique to this area of Taiwan is that men are only to eat one species of flying fish while the women eat another.  The elderly have a third species just for them.  It is stated in their culture that if an elderly person eats a species reserved for a younger man or woman, they will fall ill.

While the flying fish may be seen only as a curiosity to many, it is seen as a way of life to others.  This unique fish with the ability to soar above its predators has a special place in many cultures seemingly worlds apart.  As cruises become more popular as a means of vacation and travel, more people are taking notice of these little animals jumping out of the water. Take heed the next time you see one, and pay a little respect to one of nature’s most unusual gifts.


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

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.

Types of Fish Feed

Providing fish a nutritionally balanced diet is essential to grow a healthy stock of fish. In terms of fish farming, the variety of fish feed must be carefully considered because feed represents 50% of the production cost.

There are many different types of freshwater fish feed readily available today. One can provide a variety of food for their fish depending on their individual feeding requirements. While some aquarium fish may be able to survive on a limited variety of food, this does not necessarily mean that they are living up to their full potential. A wide variety of quality food within the species’ feeding parameter is beneficial for the long term health of the fish.

Processed Feed

Today, due to advancement in aquaculture feed, farmers and hobby fishkeepers both are able enjoy a greater variety and a better quality of commercially processed fish feed than ever before. Processed feeds are formulated to meet basic nutritional requirements of fish. Quality fish feeds are supplemented with proper vitamins and minerals as well. This makes processed feed a convenient source of staple food for most farm raised and aquarium fish. Processed dry feed includes flake, tablet, pellet, and crumb form. All of these feed come in many different sizes to incorporate all types of fish. Some dry feeds are designed to float, while other are designed to sink in order to incorporate bottom feeders. In fact, some pellets are even designed to stick to the surface of the aquarium glass in order to feed fish at mid-level. Premium fish feeds and medicated fish feeds are also commercially available for feeding fish with specialized needs.

Live Fish Food

Live fish food is an exceptionally good source of fish food. Since live food is not readily available to fish in an enclosed man-made environment, it can be beneficial to actively incorporate live food as part of their diet. Feeding live food is necessary for fish with specialized needs such as many carnivorous fish, wild specimen, and fry. Not only does live food mimic the feeding habit of fish in their natural environment, live food can provide many benefits that commercial feeds have not been able to replicate to this day. Many species of fry that have been grown with a supplement of live food have proved to have exceptionally better survival rates and grow to become one of the most robust specimen. Live organisms that are suitable for fish include bloodworms, blackworms, tubifex, glassworm, daphnia, grindal worms, white worms, and redworms among many others. Incorporating live fish food at least twice a week is recommended for most fish.

Fresh Food

Fresh foods are foods that are not processed prior to feeding. This category of fish food includes fresh vegetables and fresh meat. Fish with specialized dietary needs can greatly benefit from fresh food. For example, when attempting to condition fish for breeding, a high protein diet of fresh food is beneficial. There are many different types of fresh food that can be fed to fish.

Vegetable matters are readily accepted by herbivorous fish. While vegetable matter is low in fat and protein, they consist of much needed carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins. Prior to feeding, vegetable can be blanched in order to break down the tough membranes. Vegetables that are commonly fed to a variety of aquarium fish includes romaine lettuce, spinach, cabbage, kale, watercress, zucchini, green peas, broccoli, cauliflower, beet tops, and strawberries.

Various types of meat can be fed to carnivorous fish.  Depending on the type of meat being fed, it is advisable to cook the meat prior to feeding in order to prevent introducing infectious disease to your fish. Meat containing high amounts of fat should be avoided or fed very sparingly in order to prevent digestive problems.  Since meat generally contains less water and carbohydrates than other sources of food, it is a great source of protein for your fish. Meats that are commonly fed to a variety of aquarium fish includes beef liver, beef heart, pork spleen, chicken, shrimp, herring, anchovy,  smelt, mackerel, tuna, clam, mussel, scallop, oyster, crabs, and squid.

Frozen and Freeze-dried Food

Many types of frozen and freeze-dried foods specifically marketed for aquarium fish are readily available today. As the majority of the nutritional value is preserved in the frozen and freeze-dried form, it can be a valuable and convenient source of food for fish. Brine shrimp, plankton, krill and many other invertebrates are available in frozen form. Some frozen food marketed for aquarium fish are conveniently packaged for individual feedings. Many smaller invertebrates mentioned above are available in freeze-dried form as well. While the nutritional value is not equivalent to a live form, freeze-dried food is another great supplemental fish food for aquarium fish.

Posted on August 1, 2014 and filed under Guide.

Koi Hanako - Longest Living Fish Ever

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At 226 years old, koi Hanako was the longest living fish ever recorded. Koi Hanako was a beautiful scarlet coloured female fish in Japan. Her name Hanako is translated “flower girl” in Japanese. Hanako died in July 7, 1977 at a grand old age of 226. Born in 1751, Hanako was born in the first year of Horeki, in the middle of the Tokugawa Era. This makes Hanako older than the United States of America!

In May 25 1966, Dr. Komei Koshihara, the last owner of koi Hanako, made a broadcast to the whole Japanese nation through Nippon Hoso Kyokai radio station about the story of koi Hanako. At this time, Hanako was 215 years old weighing 7.5 kilograms and 70 centimeters long. He explained that the koi was passed down from his grandmother on his maternal side, who had inherited the fish from “olden times.” Dr. Koshihara described Hanako as his dearest friend.

Hanako’s actual age was verified by analyzing the rings on her scales. Much like how dendrologists determine the age of trees by counting the number of rings of growth on wood, the rings of growth on the scale of Hanako was counted using a light microscope. The growth rings on the scale shows a pattern of wide growth followed by a narrower growth. The differences in the width of the rings reflect the seasonal change of summer and winter. During the summer, fish eat more and grow more resulting in a wider growth ring pattern. The narrower growth represents the slower metabolism during the cold icy weather. In order to analyze the exact age of Hanako, she was extracted from the pond in the deep mountains of Mino Province. Two scales from different parts of her body were taken off with tweezers. The individual annual ring on the scale was painstakingly analyzed over a period of two months in Laboratory of Animal Science, Nagoya Women’s College by professor Masayoshi Hiro. Both Dr. Koshihara and Professor Hiro were delightfully surprised when Hanako was discovered to be 215 years old at the time. Following this discovery, the remaining five koi carp in the same pond was examined as well. After a yearlong analysis, the results showed that they were all over 100 years old as well.

While nobody knows the exact reason for her amazingly long lifespan, perhaps the crystal clear waters of the Japanese mountains in addition to the great love and care of her owners was the key. Koi carp is generally a long-lived fish with a lifespan of approximately 50 years. However, there are many carp that lives over a century. This is one of the reasons why the koi carp have gained so much admiration in Japan and the rest of the world as well. Koi Hanako, is a great example of the how long living koi carps truly are. Next to whales, turtoises, and tuataras, koi are one of the longest living vertebrae on Earth.

Posted on August 1, 2014 and filed under News.

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.

How Much Should I Feed My Fish?

How much and how often should you feed your fish? The feeding amount for fish is very important to monitor since the dietary needs of fish will differ for each species and the stage of life they are in. For example, the feeding requirements of newborn fries and a mature fish will vary widely. A newborn fry will need to be fed very frequently and sparingly. On the other hand, a single feeding every other day may be enough to keep a mature fish healthy. A rule of thumb for an average adult fish is to offer as much food as they will consume in 2-3 minutes, twice a day. Once again, keep in mind that this rule of thumb will not apply to all fish.

Avoid overfeeding

One of the leading causes of death of an aquarium fish is due to overfeeding. However, most fish are opportunistic feeders and they will devour as much as they can, whenever they can. When overfed, fish may continue feeding even after they are causing damage to their own health. Overfeeding is especially common in novice fish keepers.

Due to the fact that fish are cold blooded, they do not require a lot of energy and food in order to survive compared to mammals. Overfeeding your fish can lead to numerous problems. First of all, it is harmful to the health of the fish as it causes unnecessary stress to its digestive system. In addition, excess waste will cause the biological load on the filtration system will become overworked. Continued overload can lead to the disruption of the nitrogen cycle. The poor water quality will once again take a toll on the health of the fish. The altered water quality may lead to a spike in algae growth in an aquarium as well. An effective method to avoid overfeeding is to feed your fish very sparingly and supplement their diet with live food that will enable opportunistic feeding.

Aquarium fish in a family setting can often be overfed unintentionally when different family members feed the fish without realizing that they have already been fed by another member. Avoid this issue by ensuring only one person feeds the fish or by following a schedule. Automatic feeders are also effective in maintaining a regular feeding  schedule.

If you realize that you have overfed, simply remove the uneaten food as soon as possible to avoid harming the fish and polluting the water.


Posted on July 25, 2013 and filed under Guide.

How to Set Up a Freshwater Aquarium – Step by Step

Setting up a new aquarium is exciting and fun. However, understanding the responsibilities involved and proper planning is necessary to have a successful long lasting aquarium. Before making any purchases, it is advisable to have a good plan of your aquarium setup. Understanding what you want and what is available is very important.

Step 1: Choose Type of Fish

First, decide on what type of fish you would like to keep. Different fish have different requirements and levels of care involved. For example, exotic fish can be very difficult to keep and may have specific requirements that are quite difficult to maintain for a beginner aquarist. For a first aquarium setup, choosing a hardy fish is a smart choice. Forgiving of a wide range of water parameters and poorer water qualities, a hardy fish will be much easier to maintain.  In fact, there are many hardy fish that are just as colorful and attractive as exotic species. The following is a list of one of the hardiest species of freshwater aquarium fish that are widely available in the market today:

·         Zebra Danios

·         Rainbowfish

·         Guppies

·         Corydoras

·         Mollies

·         Platies

·         Tiger Barbs

·         White Cloud Mountain Minnows

·         Bettas

If you decide to include multiple species of fish in your aquarium, keep in mind that not all fish are compatible with each other. Larger or naturally aggressive fish can prey on smaller or more timid vulnerable fish. For example, Tiger Barbs can be aggressive and chase other fish and nip on their fins. However, Tiger Barbs are known to be less aggressive when kept in a group of 5 or more. Thus, provided adequate space, Tiger Barbs can in fact be a great addition to a community tank. Bettas are generally peaceful fish but are known to be extremely aggressive towards other male Bettas. Thus, no more than 1 male Betta should be kept in the same aquarium. However, keeping multiple female Bettas in the same environment poses no aggression issues. When adding Bettas to a community tank, avoid adding other fin nippers to avoid damage to the Betta’s long fins. Each species has different characteristics so understanding their individual compatibilities and characteristics are important.

Step 2: Choose Equipment

After choosing the type of fish you would like to keep, you can continue planning your aquarium setup accordingly. The recommended fish in the list above are not only hardy but happen to be quite small as well. Thus, a standard 10 gallon aquarium will be enough to house a few of these fish. The rule of thumb is to allow 1 gallon per every inch of fish. Keep in mind that fish grow rather quickly, so plan according to the adult size of the fish being purchased. There are many types of aquarium in many different sizes available in the market today. Many aquarists end up wishing for a larger aquarium so choose the larger aquarium if you are stuck between two tanks. A larger tank can not only hold more fish, but it is also easier to manage the quality of a larger volume of water since it is more stable. For example, in a small volume of water a fluctuation in temperature can be very rapid. However, in a larger volume of water, the change in temperature will be more gradual and cause less stress for the fish. After deciding on the size and type of aquarium, you can now choose the equipment for the aquarium accordingly. Keep in mind that live fish should not be purchased at the same time as the equipment. Only purchase live fish after your setup is complete and your aquarium is ready to welcome them.

Components for Basic Aquarium Setup:

·         Aquarium Tank

·         Lid

·         Light Source

·         Water Filter

·         Water Heater

·         Gravel

·         Decorations

Additional Equipment:

·         Fish Net

·         Bucket

·         Aquarium Glass Scrubber

·         Aquarium Vacuum

·         Thermometer

·         Water Conditioner

·         Water Test Kit

Step 3: Setup

Before handling any aquarium equipment, make sure that your hands and anything that is going to come in contact with the equipment are free of contaminants that may harm your fish. Keep in mind that soap residue is harmful to your fish as well, so rinsing thoroughly is important. With clean hands, wash the aquarium and its components thoroughly as well.  The aquarium should be set up in a suitable location for the fish and the viewer. It is important to decide on a definite location before starting your setup as it is difficult to move an aquarium once it is filled with water. After situating the tank in a suitable location, add the gravel and decorations. Next, add the water into the tank. Placing a plate on the gravel and gently pouring water on the plate will prevent disturbing the gravel. If your water needs to be treated, add the water treatment and be sure to mix it well throughout the tank. Next, add the filtration system, heater, lighting system, and cover. Let the aquarium run for a few hours and check to be sure if there is no leakage or any other malfunction.

Related: Where To Place your Aquarium

Step 4: Cycling the Aquarium

The aquarium is an artificial habitat that must be biologically balanced in order to sustain living fish successfully. Even with the correct water parameters in the initial setup, this can quickly change with the waste produced by the fish. Thus, beneficial bacteria must be allowed to grow for the aquarium to be able to properly establish a biological filter. By introducing a small amount of fish, the nitrogen cycle can be started with the ammonia produced by the fish waste. For a fishless cycle, you can add pure ammonia. Pure ammonia can be found in hardware stores. During the cycling process, do not overfeed and be sure to carry out your water changes and water tests. Maintain the ammonia level below 0.25 in the aquarium. It is important not to overload the system in order to allow the bacteria to catch up with the cycle. It takes two to four weeks for the biological filter to establish. There are products available that introduce beneficial bacteria for a faster cycling process as well.

Step 5: Adding Fish

Only add a few fish every ten to fourteen days. Introducing a full capacity of fish at once will overthrow the nitrogen cycle very quickly. Before adding the fish into an aquarium, let the bag float in the aquarium water for 15 minutes so the fish can gradually acclimate to the temperature in the new environment. Reducing any amount of sudden stress is the key to survival of the fish. Avoid feeding fish on the first day since they will be stressed. Allow the fish to get acquainted to the new environment with the least amount of stress to the fish as possible. If you suspect the fish in the aquarium to harass the newly acclimating fish, feeding the existing fish prior to adding the new fish can be beneficial.

Step 5: Maintaining your Tank

Regular maintenance is necessary to provide a healthy environment for your fish. Weekly 25% water change will help maintain water quality. Regularly testing water quality and nitrate levels is also important.

 

Posted on July 25, 2013 and filed under Guide.

Where to Place Your Aquarium

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While a location of an aquarium is one of the most overlooked aspects of fishkeeping, it is in fact very important. We are not talking about Feng shui here, but basic positioning and location of an aquarium setup can make the difference between a neglected eyesore and an enjoyable hobby. Since it is difficult to move an aquarium after its initial set up, it is important to choose the location of the aquarium carefully beforehand. Identifying a suitable location prior to installation is critical for any aquarium of substantial size. Here are 4 basic things to consider.

1. Secure Foundation

The aquarium must be placed on a secure foundation that can hold the weight of the entire aquarium setup. Needless to say, exceptional attention must be paid to larger aquarium setups. Since 1 gallon of water weighs approximately 10 pounds, a 30 gallon tank can easily weigh over 300 pounds after factoring in the weight of the aquarium and aquarium stand. If there are any doubts about the security of the floor, it should be verified beforehand. Any rotten or unstable flooring should be fixed or avoided altogether. In addition, any slope should be fixed with a shim or other proper adjustments. When an aquarium is not placed on a level foundation, it will not be able to hold water to its full capacity and it may become more prone to cracking and leaking due to unequal pressure distribution. In addition, when the stress of the weight is concentrated on one edge of an aquarium, it will shorten the lifespan of the structure.

2. Adequate Space

An aquarium must have enough space for viewing, proper function, and maintenance. Allowing adequate area for viewing is important for enjoyment, as well as keeping your interest and motivating yourself to provide the proper care for the living creatures. Other things to consider are space for cords, filters, and lighting. Oftentimes, there are many accessories and equipments that will hang out or protrude from the aquarium. Lastly, you must consider proper space for maintenance. Maintenance will include to feeding, cleaning, clipping plants, changing filters, and changing lights. It is also notable that these areas tend to get wet from time to time. Depending on the equipment used, waterproof wall and hardwood flooring may be suitable.

3. Ensure Safety

One of the most important things to consider when deciding where to place your aquarium is safety. There are many places that may be dangerous for the life in the aquarium as well as for the life around the aquarium. Here are some of the places to be avoided:

  • Behind doors
  • Direct sunlight
  • Areas accessible to pets and infants
  • Near kitchens
  • Near chemicals
  • Near radiators, air conditioners, vents, or any area where temperature can change rapidly.

4. Convenience

An aquarium should be placed in a convenient place for both viewing and maintenance. Keep in mind, you are feeding the fish daily and doing weekly water changes as a part of regular maintenance of the aquarium. Placing an aquarium in a convenient location will increase the success rate of the aquarium and make your hobby more enjoyable. So what is a convenient place to set up an aquarium? First of all, the site should be spacious with adequate storage space nearby. Being able to keep your equipment and supply near the aquarium is quite important for many aquarists. Next, you must consider a water source. Since water changes are a regular part of aquarium maintenance, it is better if the aquarium is near a clean water source, as well as a drain. If the water is going to be transported with a bucket, make sure there is a clear pathway to safely do so. For larger aquariums, you may want to have the option of connecting a hose directly to a faucet or drain. Make sure the aquarium is close enough to a faucet or drain to make this possible. Last but not least, a convenient location for your viewing pleasure must be considered. If it is a personal aquarium, you may want to set up the aquarium in viewing distance from your desk. Aquariums set up in a community space such as a family room can be attractive as well. A well maintained aquarium can bring life to a space and become a soothing centerpiece of an entire room.

Related: Freshwater Fish vs Saltwater Fish

 

Posted on July 24, 2013 and filed under Guide.

Blobfish

by Allan Riverstone McCulloch

by Allan Riverstone McCulloch

The Blobfish, Psychrolutes marcidus, is a rare deep sea fish that can be found mainly off the coast of Australia and Tasmania. Many of the unique features of the Blobfish are due to its adaptation to their specialized habitat. Residing in deep depths of the sea of 600 – 1200 meters, the Blobfish have adapted to a habitat with continuous pressure of 80 times higher than normal sea level. In such conditions, bones of a normal creature would be crushed and gas bladders would prove inefficient. Thus, the Blobfish have adapted with a body structure consisting of mainly gelatinous mass and relative lack of muscle. In fact, this adaptive body structure allows the Blobfish to float in the depths of the sea with very little energy expenditure since its flesh is only slightly denser than water. Blobfish size is approximately 30 cm in length characterized by a large head that tapers back into a small flat tail. As a predator of the deep sea, the Blobfish prey on other invertebrates by ambush and foraging. Blobfish diet includes sea crabs, sea urchins, shellfish and mollusks. Blobfish reproduction was first recorded in 2000 on the Gorda Escarpment near the coast of California. The reproductive activity consisted of groups of Blobfish nests with approximately 100,000 eggs each. These pink colored eggs in the nest were tended by brooding Blobfish. 

Unfortunately, Blobfish are endangered and is facing near extinction. Real threats to the Blobfish include deep-sea fishing and bottom trawling in their specialized habitat. When exposed to air for a period of time, Blobfish will shrivel up and die. Although the Blobfish is not edible, they are still being caught and dragged up with other marketable fish and invertebrates. Scientists are aware of the endangered state of the Blobfish along with other deep sea creatures. Thus, conservationists are showing efforts to save the Blobfish by proposing restrictions on bottom trawling in certain areas.

Kerryn Parkinson © NORFANZ Founding Parties

Kerryn Parkinson © NORFANZ Founding Parties

Posted on May 1, 2013 and filed under Saltwater Fish.