Tag Archives: tropical fish

Treating fish with Ich in a fresh water aquarium

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TROPICAL FISH: Guide to treating Ich in a freshwater aquarium

THE following guide to treating Ich in a freshwater aquarium is a collection from various fish forums and experts. As someone who has dealt with Ich before, I can attest to the accuracy of the following treatment method for ridding your freshwater aquarium of Ich entirely.

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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: Cichlids

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SOMETHING FISHY: Freshwater Tropical Fish Profiles: Cichlids

CICHLIDS are a fish species that belong to the family Cichlidae. Some of the most well-known cichlid species are Angelfish, Gouramis, Oscars, and Discus fish. Cichlids are part of an extremely diverse family and inhabit a multitude of different environments. They can also vary significantly when it comes to size, temperament, feeding habits, preferred water quality, etc.

Cichlids live in fresh, brackish waters (mostly in large lakes) and can be divided into three main groups: African cichlids, Central and North American cichlids, and South American cichlids. Cichlids are efficient feeders that capture and process a very wide variety of foods, which is thought to be one of the reasons why they are so diverse. There are now more than 2000 described cichlid species and this number is on the rise.

Even though different cichlid species look and act very differently, they all share some common characteristics. Cichlids have a single nostril on each side of the forehead (instead of two) and have teeth in both the upper and the lower jaw – and in the throat! Here are a few popular cichlids.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Dwarf Gourami

  • Dwarf GouramiSize: 8cm (3 inches)
  • Life span: 3 – 4 years
  • Temperature: 25°C – 28°C
  • Tank Region: Middle to top
  • Origin/Habitat: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
  • Breeding: Can be difficult. They build bubble nests for their eggs.
  • Temperament: Mostly peaceful and hardy. Good fish for beginners.
  • Diet: Will eat flakes, freeze dried and live foods. Best to vary their diet.
  • Gender: Easy to determine. The male is more colorful while females are usually more gray in colour.

Originating in the warm waters of India, the Dwarf Gourami is not only beautiful but can be particularly hardy as well. They are generally peaceful creatures and make a great addition to a fully cycled community tank and are easy to care for.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Paradise Fish

  • Paradise FishSize: up to 10cm (4 inches)
  • Temperature: 16°C – 26°C
  • Tank Region: Top and middle
  • Origin/Habitat: Korea, China, Taiwan and Malaysia.
  • Diet: Prefer live foods but will eat flakes, frozen foods and brine shrimp.
  • Temperament: Fairly peaceful. Males may be aggressive towards one another.
  • Gender: Males are vibrantly coloured and easy to identify by their thick swollen lips.
  • Breeding: Similar to Siamese Fighting fish. The male will build a bubble nest to house the eggs during spawning.

Paradise fish are a beautiful and territorial species that are popular choices for the home aquarium. They come in a variety of colours but their beauty demands that they be given consideration and their needs are met. A varied diet will help improve their colouring, but this tropical fish looks most impressive when it flares up against other semi-aggressive fish of similar size. Dwarf Gouramis are perfect tank mates for Paradise fish, as both will have beauty contests and show their true colours without harming one another.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Gold Gourami (Three Spot Gourami)

  • Gold GouramiSize: 15cm (6 inches)
  • Life span: 4 – 6 years
  • Temperature: 22°C – 29°C
  • Tank Region: Middle to top
  • Origin/Habitat: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
  • Breeding: The Gold Gourami is a bubblenester and easy to breed.
  • Diet: Flake food, slow sinking granules, brine shrimp and bloodworms.
  • Temperament: Generally peaceful although larger males may be aggressive.
  • Gender: Males have longer, pointed dorsal fins, females: shorter, rounded fins.

The Gold Gourami is an impressive looking and hardy fish that does very well in a community aquarium. They are generally peaceful creatures that don’t grow too large or harass other fish if given enough space. They enjoy the company of other Gourami species and like to hide among plants. Like many cichlids, they are interested in their surroundings.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Angelfish

  • AngelfishLifespan: 8 – 10 years
  • Size: Up to 15cm (6 inches)
  • Temperature: 23°C – 29°C
  • Tank Region: Mostly middle
  • Origin/Habitat: Amazon River
  • Breeding: Egg layers. Fairly easy to breed
  • Gender: No noticeable difference except when breeding
  • Temperament/Behavior: Generally peaceful, but can be aggressive eaters and may become territorial while breeding.
  • Diet: Usually very good eaters, they will take flakes, pellets, freeze dried (blood worms, brine shrimp) and especially live foods.

The freshwater Angelfish is a very popular tropical fish because of its unique shape and their interesting personalities. Angelfish are aggressive eaters and will go to the top of the tank when they see you approach. Angelfish are curious about their environment but can become very territorial at times.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Blue Ramirez (Blue Ram)

  • Blue RamireziLifespan: 4 years
  • Size: 5 – 6 cm (2.5 inches)
  • Temperature: 25°C – 28°C
  • Tank Region: All over the tank
  • Origin/Habitat: South American Rivers (Columbia and Venezuela)
  • Diet: Omnivorous. Will gladly accept flakes or pellets but supplementing their diet with frozen foods such as blood worms or brine shrimp is recommended.
  • Breeding: Breeding Blue Rams is typically easy. Males and females will often pair up, especially when they grow up together in the same tank.
  • Gender: Males tend to have a longer, more pointed dorsal fin. Females tend to be smaller in size and have a red or orange hue on their pelvis.
  • Temperament/Behavior: Peaceful and a bit on the timid side. Can be safely kept with other Rams or non aggressive community fish such as silver dollars, Plecos, Corys or Tetras.

The Ramirez is both a colourful and characterful little fish. They are typically on full display with all their fins up and can bedazzle one when caught in the sunlight. The bonds that form between male and female Rams is something special if you wish to breed Blue Rams. Provide lots of vegetation for your Rams to feel safe and secure (as they can be quite shy) and you’ll notice them getting braver and embarking on bigger explorations around your tank.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Pearl Gourami

  • Pearl GouramiSize: 13cm (5 inches)
  • Temperature: 25°C – 28°C
  • Tank Region: Middle and top
  • Breeding: Bubble nest builder
  • Lifespan: 3 – 4 years and longer
  • Origin/Habitat: Asia, Thailand, Indonesia
  • Diet: This is not a picky fish. They will eat flakes just as quickly as they’ll eat live and frozen foods.
  • Temperament/Behavior: Mostly peaceful but they may scrap with other Gouramis. Males seem to be more aggressive than females.
  • Gender: Relatively easy to determine. The male has a longer dorsal fin and will develop a red breast, which becomes more visible at spawning time.

Pearl Gouramis are a very attractive fish with tons of tiny white ‘pearl’ shapes dotting its body and a horizontal black bar that runs down its length. Pearls also have a labyrinth organ that allows them to breath atmospheric oxygen. The labyrinth organ evolved in fish species that frequently found themselves in low oxygenated water. You will frequently see Gouramis come to the surface for gulps of air.

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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!

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Exotic animals: to pet or not to pet?

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EXOTIC PETS: Know the commitment you are making

Exotic petsI OFTEN see that neighbour’s cat hunting in the garden and wonder whether cats are simply born to be wild. Several domesticated cats ‘run away’ from home adding to the growing number of strays that hunt birds, rodents and lizards.

To my knowledge, the domestication of animals by humankind began with the reindeer. Since then, pet stores have thrived and now offer a variety of animals from the scaly to the fluffy – from around the world for people to keep as pets.

I can understand the lure to own an exotic animal. The good than can come from this is that it should encourage the owners of such animals to take a bigger interest in their lives and better understand their worlds. As an owner of exotic fish, I also understand the chances of survival of such animals in the wild. But once equipped with the right knowledge, the hobby extends to recreating a safe & happy habitat in which they may thrive.

I all too often notice people coming into pet stores, noticing them see something unusual and getting excited, buying something exotic, and exiting the store without the proper knowledge of how to properly care for their new pet. Pet stores do offer brochures and guidelines on how to look after most of the animals they sell, but what’s really needed is more expertise and customer interaction between animal experts and consumers.

As far as exotic fish are concerned, I appeal to pet store owners to simply print out and place relevant information regarding proper care of different fish species above each tank in the store. Information regarding their diet, tank requirements, how large they grow and what other species of fish they can be kept with. This way, at least consumers may get the information at a glance.

More importantly, it is the responsibility of all those who wish to acquire an exotic pet, to do their homework beforehand and fully understand the commitment they are making. It can be a thrilling and educational experience. Let it be that rather than a tragic and sad end.