Tag Archives: aquariums

Freshwater Tropical Fish Profiles: Exotics

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SOMETHING FISHY: Tropical freshwater fish profiles: Exotics

THERE is a fantastic array of freshwater tropical fish species for the budding hobbyist. Here are a few of the more exotic tropical fish species that get along swimmingly in a large community tank. If you want to learn more about exotic tropical fish, try looking at the wide range of books available at Amazon and the coupons to save you some money.

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Freshwater Tropical Fish Profiles: Bottom Feeders

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AQUARIUMS: Tropical freshwater fish profiles: Bottom feeders

I recently rediscovered a childhood hobby of mine, that being the joys and wonders of maintaining an aquarium of freshwater tropical fish species. It really is a therapeutic experience watching them swim about and do as fish do. I wanted to share what I’ve found regarding some of my fishy room-mates with anyone who has a similar interest in aquatic life. Here are some of the bottom feeders I’ve kept before.

Julii Cory (also known as Leopard Catfish or Armoured Catfish)

  • Julii CorysSize: 5 – 6cm (2 – 2.5 inches)
  • Lifespan: 3 – 5 years
  • Tank Region: Bottom
  • Temperature: 23 to 26°C
  • Origin/Habitat: Lower Amazon River and coastal rivers in northeastern Brazil
  • Temperament/Behavior: Very peaceful
  • Breeding: Not impossible but can be difficult in a home aquarium (similar to other species of Cory)
  • Gender: Females are often larger and have rounder bellies than males.
  • Diet: Not a fussy eater. Accepts flake foods, algae wafers, Cory pellets, shrimp pellets, insects, benthic crustaceans and most types of worms and vegetable matter.

The Julii Cory is probably the most popular Corydora species. They are very pretty and active little creatures that co-exist very peacefully with other tropical fish. They thrive in tanks that best replicate their natural Amazonian environment. A soft river substrate with a few branches of driftwood and a handful of leaves is ideal, but not essential. Most importantly, keep your tank well maintained as Corys are very sensitive to deteriorating conditions. Your substrate should be kept scrupulously clean as these cats can lose their barbels if kept in poor conditions.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Bronze Corydora

  • Bronze CorydoraSize: 6cm (2.5 inches)
  • Lifespan: 3 – 5 years
  • Tank Region: Bottom
  • Origin/Habitat: South America
  • Temperament/Behavior: Very peaceful
  • Breeding: Can be difficult in the home aquarium.
  • Gender: Females are larger and rounder than the males of the same age.
  • Diet: Bottom feeder, they will scavenge around the tank looking for scraps. Supplement their diet with sinking foods such as wafers.

Bronze Corys are one of the most popular tropical fish species because of its extreme peacefulness and its habit of constantly hovering the aquarium floor to find food. They should be kept in groups of five or more as they love each others company. It is part of the Bronze Cory’s nature to occasionally shoot up to the top of the tank to grab some air.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Red Tail Shark

  • Red Tail SharkSize: Up to 6 inches (15 cm)
  • Temperature: 23°C – 26°C
  • Lifespan: 5 – 8 years
  • Gender: Larger females have a grayer stomach whereas the males are solid black.
  • Tank Region: Middle and bottom
  • Origin/Habitat: Thailand
  • Temperament/Behavior: These fish can be hostile but seem to behave just fine when kept with larger fish.
  • Diet: Omnivorous scavenger that will happily accept flake foods.

Quite a solitary creature, the Red Tail Shark is happiest when alone. They can become quite territorial and aggressive towards other shark species so best to just keep one of these fish in your tank. When grouped with others, the largest shark will likely become the dominant fish and chase the others relentlessly. Provide your shark with several hiding places to help make him feel safe and secure. It’s also recommended that you have a tight fitting lid as this fish are also known to be excellent jumpers!

Tropical Fish Profiles: Clown Loach

  • clown loachSize: 30cm (12 inches)
  • Temperature: 24°C – 29°C
  • Lifespan: 10 years and longer
  • Gender: Difficult to determine
  • Tank Region: Mostly the bottom
  • Origin/Habitat: Borneo, Sumatra
  • Temperament/Behavior: Generally peaceful
  • Diet: Will accept many types including flakes, freeze dried and live foods.

Another favourite in the tropical fish world, the Clown Loach can live for a very long time – 10 years or more if given good water conditions. They can be quite comical at times too – often found laying on their side having a rest. You should also keep more than one Clown Loach together to reduce stress. Males may fight for dominance by going pale and making a clicking sound, but their spars are never fatal. Provide plenty of hiding spaces for your Clown Loaches for they can become quite shy at times.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Banded Kuhli Loach

  • banded kuhli loachSize: 7 – 10cm (3-4 inches)
  • Temperature: 24°C – 30°C
  • Lifespan: 10 years and longer
  • Tank Region: Bottom, usually under something
  • Diet: Omnivorous. Will gladly accept most fish foods
  • Origin/Habitat: Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo, Java, and Singapore
  • Temperament/Behavior: Peaceful fish that should only be kept with other peaceful fish, and one or two of its own species.
  • Gender: Females are fuller bodied than the males when they are filled with eggs, otherwise males and females look very similar.
  • Breeding: Egg-laying fish but rarely spawn in the aquarium. When they do spawn they scatter large green eggs among the aquarium plants.

The Kuhli Loach is an eel-like fish that usually has light and dark bands along its scaleless body. They look more like snakes than fish. You will often find them hanging from plants and other objects in the tank. Kuhli Loaches are nocturnal fish that spend most of the day hiding under plants or rocks. It is best to provide dark caves or tubes in their tank for them to hide in during the day. Kuhlis also like to congregate in groups. You should keep at least three Kuhli Loaches together in a tank.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Pleco (Algae Eater)

  • pleco algae eaterLifespan: 10 – 15 years
  • Size: up to 46cm (18 inches)
  • Temperature: 23°C – 28°C
  • Tank Region: Bottom and sides of tank
  • Origin/Habitat: Central and South America
  • Diet: Herbivore. Try to supplement their diet with algae wafers
  • Breeding: It can be very difficult to breed them in a home aquarium
  • Gender: There are no visible differences between the male and female
  • Temperament/Behavior: Generally peaceful, but can be aggressive toward others of the same species.

Algae Eaters are popular because of their skill in keeping tanks clean. They are excellent scavengers that suck up much of the dirt on the bottom of the tank. If you have ornaments in the aquarium you will find that these fish attach themselves to them in all different hanging positions. When they are first introduced into an aquarium they will generally find their own spot that they will call home. Driftwood is a great addition to include in the tank if you have Algae Eaters.

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Goldfish: Tropical Fish Profiles

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SOMETHING FISHY: Freshwater Tropical Fish Profiles: Goldfish

GOLDFISH are possibly the most widely-kept fish species due to their hardiness and availability. They come in all different shapes and sizes – from the mutant looking to the fancy varieties. They are a highly versatile fish species, capable of living in temperatures close to freezing. They are also not fussy about water conditions and will accept all manner of foods.

GoldfishIt is often recommended that goldfish shouldn’t be kept with other tropical fish varieties. One reason is that they are very messy fish that produce a lot of waste and will also uproot and eat plants. Another reason is that the metabolism of goldfish increases the warmer the water is in which they are kept. This can cause a gluttonous appetite resulting in the goldfish growing quicker and perhaps eating more than their fair share of food.

There is also the risk of overfeeding goldfish in an aquarium. They can become constipated if they eat too much, which can cause swim bladder. Goldfish can lose their balance if they get swim bladder and may be found floating upside down. A lot of amateur goldfish keepers assume their fish is dead and often flush or bury it while it’s still alive! If a goldfish with swim bladder is left for a day or two they will often right themselves.

Hobbyists interested in keeping goldfish should also know that it is a long-term commitment. Many varieties can live up to 30 years and will also grow quite large if kept in a heated aquarium. Below are two of the more popular goldfish varieties.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Fancy Goldfish

  • Fancy GoldfishLifespan: 10 – 30 years
  • Temperature: 5°C – 27°C
  • Tank Region: All over the tank
  • Temperament/Behavior: Very peaceful
  • Size: 8-13 cm (3-5 inches) but can get bigger
  • Diet: Omnivorous. Will gladly accept most fish foods.
  • Origin/Habitat: China originally, then Japan and Asia.
  • Breeding: Lay their eggs on vegetation on the bottom of the tank.
  • Gender: Males have small white spots called tubercles around their gills when ready to spawn. Females are noticeably larger when swelling with eggs and the males may start to chase the females around the tank.

The Goldfish is a favorite for many. They are usually very hardy – capable of living in temperatures ranging from 4°C to 32°C. Being Chinese, Goldfish have extremely long lifespans if cared for properly, so getting one can be a long-term commitment. Many varieties of Goldfish are available with varied markings. Fancy varieties and colours include gold, orange, white and black.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Black Moor Goldfish

  • Black MoorLifespan: 10 – 30 years
  • Size: 10 – 25cm (4 – 10 inches)
  • Tank Region: All over the tank
  • Origin/Habitat: Central Asia and China.
  • Breeding: Egg layers that spawn readily in the right conditions.
  • Temperament/Behavior: Very peaceful and a great community fish.
  • Temperature: Very hardy. Can tolerate temperatures close to freezing.
  • Diet: A very happy eater. It is not hard to get your Black Moor Goldfish into accepting all kinds of food.
  • Gender: Although is it impossible to sex Goldfish when they are young and not in breeding season, the male is usually smaller and more slender that the female.

The Black Moor is a type of goldfish that has a beautiful velvety look and bulging, telescopic eyes. Most Black Moors stay black but their colour can change with age. They can be gray or black and they can revert to a metallic orange when kept in warmer water. Since their eye-sight is far from perfect, they may need a little extra help to find their food.

Goldfish generally produce a lot of waste, so good filtration is essential for maintaining the water quality of the aquarium. Regular water changes are strongly recommended to keep these fish healthy. Goldfish are very social animals and thrive in a community. Not only are they a great community fish, but they are great scavengers as well. Provide a large gravel substrate to keep your Goldfish occupied and they will help vacuum your substrate.

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Hatching brine shrimp for tropical fish

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TROPICAL FISH: A simple guide to hatching brine shrimp

I HAVE found existing guides for hatching brine shrimp on the Internet overly complex. I have been hatching brine shrimp for tropical fish since I was a child and can confidently say that it is not a complicated process.

Brine shrimp are a great live food source for tropical fish, especially if you are breeding fish and want to raise healthy fish spawn. They are also great for varying the diet of smaller tropical fish species.

Brine shrimp generally come in small plastic containers. Some brine shrimp guides will tell you to keep these in the fridge, but this is not necessary. So long as the container is kept sealed so that moisture cannot enter and glue the eggs together, brine shrimp eggs can be kept at room temperature.

Brine Shrimp (image: www.brineshrimp.co.za)Some brine shrimp guides suggest using a cone-shaped device for hatching the eggs. What I find works best is a small rectangular tank or transparent container of about five litres. The corners are useful for getting the brine shrimp to cluster together so that more can be extracted at once.

Add two cups (500mls) of fish tank water to your breeding tank – diluted with a teaspoon of salt. Some brine shrimp guides will urge you to use aquarium salt or non-iodated salt. This is best, but I’ve found that ordinary table salt works just as well. It’s cheaper too.

You want the salted water level to be between 2-3cm. Gently sprinkle some brine shrimp eggs over the water surface and allow them to spread out. It doesn’t matter whether or not the eggs sink or float but you want to ensure that none stick to the sides of the tank and dry out.

Other brine shrimp guides may also argue that the water needs to be aerated and heated. You can do this however you see fit if you wish, but it is not essential. In the summer months you can keep your hatchery in the sunlight near a window. During Winter, room temperature should be adequate. Also bear in mind that if your brine shrimp hatchery is in the sunlight more water will evaporate and more eggs will stick to the sides, dry out, and won’t hatch.

After about two days you should see little orange movements. Your brine shrimp have hatched and are ready to be fed to your tropical fish! Brine shrimp are attracted to light and will swim towards it. Use a small torch or light source to attract them towards one of the corners. Once they have mustered together, suck them up with a plastic syringe or eye-dropper and slowly eject them into your fish tank.

A little salt in your tank is good for your fish. It helps ward off parasites and keeps your fish healthy. Just don’t overdo it! One syringe full of tasty brine shrimp per day is ample depending on the size of your tank. Your tropical fish will love you for the treat!

Tropical Fish Care Posts:

A beginner’s guide to keeping tropical fish

SOMETHING FISHY: A beginner’s guide to keeping tropical fish

EVERYONE should have a pet. Some people may be put off by the idea of having to clean up poop or be woken up by loud squawking every day, but your choice of pet doesn’t necessarily have to be something cuddly that you can play catch with or teach to talk.

pearl gouramiTropical fish are a great alternative. Not only are fish therapeutically pleasing and interesting animals, but they can be very easy to look after and maintain. You may consider pet fish as boring but you will be amazed at the variety, colours and characters inherent in tropical fish.

I have been keeping tropical fish since my childhood years and have learnt a great deal regarding what to get and how to look after a great array of fishy friends.

Starting off

If you wish to invest in your first tropical fish tank it’s a good idea to go large. Starting off small is not necessarily easier and once you get into such a hobby (and your fish grow) you will want to upgrade, which can be a mission and comes at a cost.

black moor goldfishInvest in a large, rectangular shaped tank (30 liters is a good volume) and first ensure that you have a good place to house it. A fish tank stand is a good idea but ensure that the tank will rest at a comfortable eye-level.

It is also important to keep your tank away from direct sunlight as this will encourage rapid algae growth. You don’t want to have to scrap away algae in order to have a good look at who is inside.

Keep your setup as varied as possible. It’s best to have sections of both soft and gravel substrate. Keep your tank well planted and create lots of hiding places such as caves, tubes and rock tunnels, and decorate as you see fit.

The Nitrogen Cycle

Once your tank is filled up with de-chlorinated water and you have finished creating your own underwater Eden, there is a short waiting period to endure. With a heater installed and set between 25-27 degrees Celsius, and a good filter running, you tank will begin to perform a nitrogen cycle. Your local pet store will provide you with instructions on how to do this correctly.

ghost knife fishAfter completing the above you are now ready to get your first tropical fish! It is always a good idea to only get a few at first and ensure that they are perfectly cheerful before getting more. It is also very important to research each tropical fish species beforehand to understand their needs and requirements and temperament with other fish.

There is tons of info available on the web – written by dedicated tropical fish hobbyists who are more than willing to give expert advice to beginners. However, I can recommend the following families as good fishy pets for the beginner: Corydoras, Gouramis, Loaches, Black Ghost Knife fish, Ramirezis, Algae Eaters and Tetras.

The following post: Something Fishy, consists of tropical fish profiles (including all the info you’ll need for good care) of the following:

  • Fire Eel
  • Angelfish
  • Clown Loach
  • Glass Catfish
  • dwarf gouramiJulii Corydora
  • Red Tail Shark
  • Pearl Gourami
  • Fancy Goldfish
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Bronze Corydora
  • Black Ghost Knife
  • Pleco (Algae Eater)
  • Banded Kuhli Loach
  • Black Moor Goldfish
  • Blue Ramirezi (Blue Ram)

If you’re interested in starting your own hobby in tropical fish I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. Otherwise here are some great resources: