Sunday, April 29, 2007

Various types of plants

There are the tiny, delicate, lovely and hard to obtain hair grass.

Also there are plants that form a lump on their own, such as the broad-leaved, light green amazon sword, the serrated-edged aponogeton undulatum and the very useful plants that will thrive in great heat and even in dim light - the cryptocorynes.

Numerous aquarium plants just float on the surface of the water and are not rooted. They draw their nourishment from the air and the water. The favourites are riccia, azolla and duckweed. They are useful in providing shade in breeding and as oxygenators.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Strong Oxygenators

Vallisneria and Sagittaria are two of the plants that give off more oxygen than most. Vallisneria leaves have a stripe down the centre diving them into three nearly equal stripes of two shades of green. Both plants are normally found in three types, straight, twisted and giant. Anacharis, propagated from cuttings and found in several varieties, especially Elodea, is another strong oxygenator.

Other plants propagated from cuttings are ludwigia and hygrophila. Ludwigia, some species of which have leaves that are tinged with red in the summer and autumn. While hygrophila is similar to the former but comparatively rare and of a very light and pleasant shade of green.

There are also bushy plants, such as myriophyllum, ambulia and cabomba.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Aquatic greens II

Planting effects are more decorative if done in thickets and not in single stems. Obviously, the thickets should not be congested so that the individual stems have enough room to grow. Four to eight in a bunch is reasonable provided that the fish can swim about freely.

The disadvantage of plants taking in oxygen at night, instead of giving it out, is not serious if the aquarium has a large enough air surface. It helps if the aquarium light is kept on for longer periods when greenery is first planted so as to give the plants a better change to take root. This is particularly true in winter when natural growth is slow.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Aquatic greens

Lead weights wrapped round the base are sometimes used to prevent the newly transferred plants from floating to the surface of the water, but they are very liable to damage the plants unless used most carefully. If planting pots or trays are favoured, they should be big enough and deep enough.

Another reminder about these lovely aquatic greens is to keep them wet. If they are allowed to dry even momentarily for example when being transferred or while in the process of being planted, they will suffer for weeks. In fact, they sometimes will shrivel and die. Great care must be taken if for any reason the aquarium is being disinfected. The plants can easily be damaged by being rinsed in water that is too hot or in a disinfectant that is too strong. One quarter grain by weight of potassium permanganate in a gallon of water makes a strong enough solution to wash off most parasites from the leaves.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The need for plants

In an aquarium, plants are not merely for decoration purposes. They serves to complete the scientific balance of the modern aquarium.

Moreover, the majority of community fish have a definite preference for a planted tank where they can find shade, privacy and hiding places when they are feeling out of sorts or are anxious to evade the attentions of a particular fish, be it a bully, a rival or too ardent a suitor. In spawning and rearing of the young, of course, plants play a very definite and important part.

So how do we care of aquarium plants?

First of all, plants in community tank need light. They should be rooted in aquarium sand, but not too deeply. Loam and earth are not necessary for their growth. Loam can breed harmful bacteria unless sterilized. If this is done, loam has little use to the plants; after all, part of the plants' function in a balanced tank is to 'absorb' the droppings of the fish. These fertilizing media being broken up by the plants, simultaneously promoting their own growth while disposing the droppings.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Plants are often classified as tropical and coldwater but it is proposed here to divide them into aquarium or pond plants. Tropical plants will root in a coldwater tank kept in the normal living-room of a home, especially if an aquarium toplight is functioning. Strictly coldwater plants, on the other hand, are normally considered to be those that will thrive out in the open, winter or summer.

The main distinction of the two categories are that those grown with the aid of artificial heat, eg in a hothouse are for an aquarium while those grown in the open are for pond. It should be noted that although the same plant is often found both indoors and out, the pond one tends to be larger and coarser.

Monday, April 23, 2007

More on breeding I

A temperature that is excessively high forces the growth of the fish and seriously weakens their constitution. It sometimes overdevelops the finnage too.

All along the line, inferior fish should be removed. For example, with fantails, veiltails and Moors; the ones with only single tails instead of the prized forked tails can be detected well before they are fourteen days old and should be taken out. Later as body shapes develop, the poor quality should be ruthlessly sacrificed. By the time three months have passed, the selection should have been completed.

Within two weeks, the fry are past the infusoria stage and will swallow finely powdered dry foods, dried eggs, oatmeal, etc. Nevertheless, take great care not to foul the water. It should be partly changed especially if snails are not able to cope with the work. After a few more days, micro worms, finely sifted Daphnia and not quite such powdered dry food should be introduced to the fish. Within three to four weeks, the last stage of tubifex and chopped white worms can be fed. By this time, the worst danger is over.

In the meantime, the difficulty is now to get the fish to colour. The scales should be transparent so that a good body colour can be seen through them. Opaque coloured scales would result in a dark, uninteresting fish. However if the parents are from good stock, the required temperature maintained, space is ample, plenty of live foods were constantly given and enough sunlight, the fry should colour within eight months. Some will colour within four months. A constant drip flow of water into the aquarium helps enormously. If a year goes by without the colour showing through, then having a good fish is doubtful. The general conditions, including the surrounding colours and their inter-action with sunlight influence the fry development.

The above descriptions apply to coldwater aquarium fish in general.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More on breeding

We are still talking on breeding of coldwater fish.

The eggs, transparent, adhesive and the size of a pin head are laid in clusters, no two individual eggs being in contact. Within twenty four to forty eight hours, the infertile ones turn opaque, almost milky. There always seem so many of these that we might be frustrated, but patience and diligence are usually rewarded.

70 to 75 degrees F is a good temperature for the incubation and in four days, fry should appear. They are free swimming within forty eight hours and will need green water and infusoria. Most of all they need plenty of space. Warmth, space and ample food are all essential.

As many as one thousand fry can result from a good spawning, so that the problem of space is pressing. It is strongly advised to pick out the best specimens as soon as is practicable and to concentrate on them alone, disposing of the others. Aeration is helpful right from the commencement of the incubation period.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Breeding of coldwater fish III

Sexing the fish is difficult. In exotic specimens such as the Veil-tail and the Fantail, the males are often as full bodied as the females. Only at breeding condition do the male tubercles appear as raised white dots on the gill plates and on the pectoral fins. Absence of these dots might mean that the fish is a female or that it is a male not ready to breed.

Once spawning starts, however, the females can easily be picked out as they are vigorously chased and nuzzled by the males. Two or more males should be used to 'drive' each female in the well-known chase which may last a few hours or even two or three days. Thus frequent replacements of plants to catch the eggs as they are scattered and plenty of swimming room are essential.

In the aquarium, a good supply of aeration helps. The water temperature should not be below 60 degrees F or above 80 degrees F. In the earlier temperature the fish tend to be sluggish and in the other, the fish will lack oxygen. Temperature between 68 - 72 degrees F is ideal while bright light, especially sunlight is appreciated.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Breeding of coldwater fish II

As mentioned earlier, ponds should be periodically emptied to ensure that overlooked eggs or fry from previous matings have not remained behind to grow and to interbreed with the chosen parents.

If we decides to do the breeding in ponds, we may still be well advised to hatch the eggs in an aquarium and to keep the fry indoors for the first crucial ten weeks. A pond that is more or less bare, except for ideal spawning plants at the shallow edge, practically forces the fish to spawn on these plants which can then easily be removed to an aquarium. Thus, fresh supplies of plants should be available to keep up with the spawning.

It is important that these bunches of plants be frequently rinsed to shake off dead algae or any other such foreign matter that could later prevent the eggs adhering properly.

If the parents are not separated from the eggs, many of these will be eaten. Even more important, once the fry have appeared it is the slower swimming ones that get less of the food and are more subject to being attacked. The slower swimmers are usually those with the longer finnage - the very fish that we would most like to save.

Obviously, spawning starts with good-quality parents that have been separately brought up to the best possible condition. It is a bad mistake to use inferior fish as the resulting fry are just not worth the trouble. Each prospective parent should be known to have come from good stock and even if not perfect in itself, be known to be capable of producing good young.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Breeding of coldwater fish I

The first question when deciding to breed coldwater fish is, should we breed in a pond or in an aquarium.

Two advantages of the pond are:

Large volume of water

In good weather, natural foods for the young fish are abundance

Breeding in ponds has its disadvantages too:

Especially in British climate, apart from extremes of heat or frost and ice, the normal temperature variations are very great and there is little that we can do to control them. Furthermore, these changes are rapid, occurring within a few hours.

There is also a great discrepancy in the amount of light, especially sunlight and an evenly spread supply is almost hopeless.

The above two disadvantages however have their attenuating factors. Although the atmospheric temperature changes very quickly, a fairly large volume of water is affected only slowly and cushions the fish from the worst of the shock. This is if the water is 3 - 4 feet deep. Secondly, the fish seem to have a natural ability to pick out the coming weather and will normally spawn just at the start of a good spell. Nevertheless the good weather, especially in Britain have a nasty tendency to fade off after a very few days.

Though natural foods are abundant in open ponds, so too on occasions are fish lice and water enemies. The pond should thus be capable of being thoroughly cleaned.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Breeding tips

If the water in the shallow breeding tank is too low to hold an immersion thermostat comfortably, the latter can be immersed into a jar standing in the tank. Thus the water temperature of the tank will govern that of the water in the jar, so ensuring correct response by the thermostat.

In removing fry, it is advisable to use a fry catcher, as netting may harm them. This is used in a scooping action. The fry are being allowed to swim into the bowl.

Keep the water level of the rearing tank well below that of the tank sides as a protection against draughts. A glass cover is an additional protection against temperature fluctuations and dust. This is important at this fry stage.

Breeding is all about conditions, waters, fish, foods, sunlight and the likes which vary from place to place, time to time. Patience is therefore essential, as periodical failures and disappointments are quite certain to occur.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Infertile eggs

Eggs that prove infertile, often becoming covered with fungus should be removed. However, effort should be made to find out why they do not hatch in the normal way. It is often found that some, or even many, eggs are covered with fungus but it is rare for all to be bad.

Snails eat eggs and should be removed from the breeding tank. But in rearing tank, snails help to keep the bottom clean. They too do not eat the fry.

Why eggs are infertile?

Wrong temperature

Too much or too little light


Infected infusoria culture that breeds fish enemies or harmful bacteria

Unsuitable water that might contain harmful gases. We can either filter or use rainwater to avoid this problem.

Water PH. If new water has been used, try ‘seasoned’ water. Leave tap water in bright light for a day; without disturbing the precipitate that will have formed at the bottom, siphon off the water in to another clean container and leave it there again in the sunlight to mature for a further twenty four hours or forty eight hours. The siphoning gets rid of any insoluble or floating matter.

Eggs not fertilized: due to the pair of adults do not harmonize. We can use two or three males to one female.

The tank is too small.

Monday, April 16, 2007

How to move the eggs

When lifting out the plants holding the eggs, sudden temperature changes should be avoided. Moreover, do not expose them to the air too. So, how should we do this? Just place a bowl under these plants, raise the bowl, taking care to keep the plants, roots if any, and eggs submerged and so to move them still in their same water to the rearing tank of the same temperature.

General questions such as whether the water should be ‘old’, green or what its PH should be, or whether the floor should be spotlessly clean or covered with some mulm, can only be answered in the case of particular breeding adult fish. Nonetheless, the fry will need ‘mature’ water for their growth.

The same applies to temperature and aeration. What we should bear in mind is that fish accustomed to constant aeration will have to be taught gradually to do without it before they are transferred to still waters. If the tank is large enough, there should be no need for aeration.

In breeding, cleanliness is the utmost important thing. Danger of infection will have to be watched most carefully.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Types of eggs

Different types of fish have varying preferences and methods of laying their eggs but the following general remarks will serve as guideline:

Adhesive eggs
Fish are being careful when choosing the spot where these adhesive eggs will be laid. They usually choose broad leaves of a strongly-growing plant. Fish lay eggs at the underside or inside of small flower pots or even on the hollow of a conveniently shaped rock. Some fish however merely scatter their adhesive eggs which should be caught by bushy plants group in bunches.

Non adhesive eggs
This type of eggs are either scattered on thickets of plants, noticeably on those with fine leaves. The plant not only serves to catch the eggs but hiding them and the newly hatched fry from the dangers of being eaten. Alternatively, the eggs are placed in carefully formed and guarded nest. Some fish use a hollow in the sand while some fish are bubble nest builders.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Feeding the fish with infusoria

The best way is by ‘drip method’. How should we do this? Just fix a jar containing the infusoria water above the tank level and the water is allowed to drip into the tank through the rubber tube. The rate of flow can be regulated by a type of clip that can be adjusted to squeeze the rubber tube at any given pressure. Therefore the bigger the opening left inside the tube the greater the flow of infusoria.

How much should we feed the infusoria to the baby fish? The only advice is to use common sense but infusoria must be given early and constantly until the fry have outgrown the need for it. The bellies of the fry should always be full. Continue feeding the fry until they are about three times their original size. If we stop feeding too early, the fry may die. Feeding them with infusoria too long may stop their growth.

The real problem is when the fry are too big for infusoria and too small for ordinary foods. Rotifers, newly-hatched brine shrimps and dry powdered food can be fed to the fry during this difficult stage. Later, finely sifted daphnia can be introduced to the fry. Nevertheless, if the fry spit out the food, it is still too big for them. Use a magnifying glass to check on this.

In addition, at this stage, fry should be fed frequently; up to eight times per day. A limited amount of sediment should be allowed to accumulate as it helps to grow the plants and infusoria.

The above is a general guide on how to feed fry with infusoria. What we must bear in mind is certain type of fish (fry) needs more detail guides.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Preparing infusoria

Infusoria can be prepared in many ways, some of which as follows:

Method 1:
Leave outside leaves of a lettuce in water and in bright light for three or four days. When the water especially round the leaves becomes white or milky, the culture is ready. One drop examined under a microscope will be seen to be teeming with life, appearing as continuously moving dust-like particles. Pond water (free of all enemies) is better than tap water. After about four days, the culture “dies”.

About three bruised leaves per quart of water can be used in this method. Bruising hastens the decomposition of the leaves and the birth of infusoria.

Method 2:
Leave finely sliced potatoes or any other vegetable in water till they begin to smell. Cow dung gives especially small infusoria that can be used for tiny fish.

Method 3:
Pour boiling water on chopped up hay, leaving it to stand in the sunlight till the water becomes light brown.

Method 4:
Using some such mixture as the peel of one potato, one split pea, one yellow skin of a banana, one spinach leaf, thirty drops of milk, one tiny piece of fish to about two gallons of water and leave in the light as described above.

All the above four cultures smell and go foul after three to five days.

Method 5
To overcome this difficulty the cultures can be sterilized. Slow boil for twenty minutes a mixture of almost any vegetable. This slow boil will kill the bacteria of putrefaction. Then the mixture should be left to cool for a day and be carefully protected against dust. We may call this ‘the culture’.

At the same time, similarly boil for twenty minutes separate quarts of water, each containing one of the above ingredients (hay, lettuce, potato, etc). Pour into separate jars and leave to cool for a day, protected from the dust.

Next add six or seven drops of the culture to each jar, keep protected from dust and leave in the bright light for three days. The water will be teeming with life and the infusoria is ready for use.

Advantages of method 5:

The different infusoria of oatmeal, hay, lettuce, etc are separate and fish will soon show which particular one they prefer

The preparation will not ‘die’ under two weeks

There is practically no smell.

Risk of infection is greatly reduced if all implements are sterilized.

All the five methods of making infusoria, are affected by temperature. If the infusoria water is at 80 degrees F or above, the cycle of events is accelerated that makes the culture ready sooner but it dies more quickly. Whereas under 60 degrees F, the development is slow. The best temperature is therefore between 65 to 68 degrees F. Infusoria, like fish, however is affected by temperature changes. Therefore they will tend to suffer if put in an aquarium with vast different in water temperature.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rearing and feeding the fry

The mating and spawning process is often easier than the rearing of the fry. The commonest difficulties are insufficient or unsuitable food at the early stages and lack of space.

When the eggs are hatched, or the viviparous babies are born, in both instances a ‘yolk sac’ is attached to the fry. It supplies sufficient food for the initial period which may last from a few hours to three days, especially if supplemented by liberal quantities of green water to the tank. Green water is rich in baby-food!

When the yolk-sac is gone, it is our responsibility to feed the fry. This is done by providing infusoria early and constantly.

What is infusoria? Infusoria are living organisms in water on which fish can live until they have grown enough to eat normal foods.

Before we discuss more on infusoria, let’s talk about the importance of breeding trap. Breeding trap is used inside the rearing tank, so as to separate the parents from the eggs or the young. These traps can be done by using finely meshed wire, or any method allowing the eggs or live babies to drop through gaps into the rearing tank. The gaps must be just big enough for them but too small to allow the adult fish to follow. This is necessary if the parents are likely to eat the young fish or their eggs. Otherwise, it is not necessary.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Choosing and conditiong the parents

It is important to choose the parents when we intend to breed. Size, shape, colour, finnage and so on should be considered. Moreover, both should like each other! The best way to ensure this is to place a group of adult fish in a tank and wait for them to pair off. The chosen ones then are being transferred to separate tanks.

With the egg-layers, two or even more males are often used with one female. It is usual to put the weaker fish (often the female) in the mating tank first, so that it is already feeling at home before meeting the other fish.

Fish will often spawn the next morning if they are placed in the mating tank at night. Better still, if they can be put together at dawn, they will tend to spawn almost at once.

Green water and/or two hours daily of sunlight are helpful in bringing the parents to breeding condition. Live foods are necessary too. Feed them with daphnia, tubifex worms, chopped earthworms etc, twice a day. Each feeding is to last about 15 – 30 minutes. However, too many white worms will tend to make the fish fat and reluctant to spawn. The rule is to feed well but not too heavily.

On the other hand, it must be remembered that feeding frequency depends on the temperature of water too as it affects the eating habit of the fish, both of tropical and coldwater.

In mating tank, the water temperature is often raised when the adult fish are introduced. This higher temperature can be maintained till the eggs are hatched and even for the early stages of the fry. Nonetheless the high temperature should not be prolonged as it will weaken the fry.

Once spawning is completed, the parents are separated from the eggs or young, except for a few types of fish where males are left with the nest for about a week.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Breeding and rearing tropical fish

Ever thought of breeding your fish?

Some fish give birth direct to fully-formed live baby fish. These are called viviparous. From them, many interesting cross-breeds, or hybrids have been evolved.

Others lay eggs first in the normal way; which can be adhesive or not and can be scattered or carefully guarded. The nests vary; including floating air bubbles with the eggs individually wrapped in these hygienic containers.

In breeding, the problems are not in the mating and spawning but in rearing the fry. This is one of the main reasons it is so much easier to breed the viviparous kinds as the eggs are fertilized and hatched inside the mother’s body. Thus it passes the danger stage when born.

Breeding problems differ between fish. There is no particular season for the breeding of tropicals because it is nearly always possible to provide ideal conditions, the supply of live foods and sunlight.

The first thing to consider when we intend to breed is the breeding tank itself. The breeding tank is often shallow; perhaps 15 cm – 22 cm deep. It however should not be too small, not less than 35 cm long by 20 cm high and 25 cm wide as many fish get nervous and excited when confined in a small space.

A large breeding tank is not necessary although it is essential for the successful rearing of the young. Overcrowding can retard the growth and strength of fish, cause illness and destroy the weaker fish. For rearing too, a deeper tank, around 30 cm is advantageous since it encourages the development of better specimens.

When plants are being used, the planted side of the breeding tank should always be towards the light. This will enable the fry to have hiding places.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Unsuspected danger II

When a perfectly functioning aquarium goes wrong out of sudden, then the following may be the reasons we tend to overlook.

Too much mastic or putty
Mastic on the outside does not affect the water in the aquarium, but mastic or putty on the inside of it and in contact with the water is inadvisable.

Harmful substance
Apart from the non-aquatic rocks, ornaments, etc; harmful substance can be brought in to the aquarium by dirty hands, newly applied nail varnish, dirty cloths, etc. It is surprising how strongly the hands can smell of the kitchen, the garage or of a tin of varnish.

Disease introduced by new fish, plants or live foods
New fish, plants or live foods can sometimes introduce disease to the existing fish. Adding in unsuitable fish that take up too much oxygen (due to their sizes), bullies or even killers might bring problems to the existing community. Furthermore, fish accustomed to aeration will suffer in still water.

Temperature of the water
In case of tropicals, the fluctuation in water temperature can cause problems. The sudden changes in temperature of water can be caused by faulty wiring or perhaps simply that the heater or the thermostat has got buried by drifting sand. The thermostat used might be giving false readings too. In addition, the heating elements might no longer be in good condition.

Besides all the above unsuspected dangers we likely fail to see, we should bear in mind to look into the possibility that the sudden problem to our aquarium might be due to the aquarium being too deep or the source of light being too bright.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Unsuspected dangers I

Our aquarium has been functioning perfectly for a long time, but suddenly it goes wrong for no apparent reason. What should we do?

Before consulting a specialist, check on the following.

Incorrect feeding
The problem may be caused by lack of live foods or their substitutes.

The aquarium is overcrowded. There may be too many fish or the fish kept are too big.

Dirty aquarium
Excess food is nearly always the cause of dirt that lies about the aquarium as brown sediment.

The water temperature
If the water temperature is consistently kept too high or too low, the fish will be weakened, even to the point of sickness or death

The light is too strong
It is tiring for the fish, if the light shining on the aquarium is too strong or too prolonged. They too need some shade or at least some periods of darkness. We can used plants or rocks as shed for fish to retire for rest and privacy.

Condition of plants
The plants in the aquarium should be healthy and sufficient in number.

The presence of paint, varnish, disinfectants etc
The above is harmful as water absorbs these foreign elements to the distress of the fish.

An aquarium is kept near a bathroom where strong Dettol is used.

The chauffeur occasionally feeds the fish and rearranges the rocks; as he comes straight from the garage and his hands smell of petrol and oil.

The room has beautiful parquet flooring which is regularly polished.

The over-careful aquarist washes his hands thoroughly before touching his aquarium, unfortunately he uses strongly scented soap.

The above are examples of how these foreign elements come into contact with the aquarium and affect the fish.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Sign of trouble II

We have discussed white cloudiness in the aquarium water. Let’s go on to brown cloudiness. What are the causes of brown cloudiness? Mostly it is caused by dirt or by excess food that has not been eaten and lies around the tank, often turning the sand black. Other reasons that cause brown cloudiness is that when the sand used is not properly washed or there might be too much sediment at the bottom of the aquarium which is not siphoned off. Decaying leaves of plants cause brown cloudiness too.

Other factor that might cause this situation is the lack of sufficient growing plants in the aquarium. Though brown cloudiness is unsightly, it is not particularly dangerous. Nevertheless prolong condition can encourage disease to the fish.

What about green cloudiness? Fortunately, green cloudiness is healthy! Under excess light (sunlight, daylight or artificial) microscopic life is born which is green in colour; suspended in the water. It can also settle to become green slime over the sand, rocks, plants, glass, etc. Unless excessive, the fish will thrive on the green algae!

However, green is not pleasant to view and should not be permitted in a show tank. The cure is simple! Cut down the amount of light received by the aquarium. Of course, if the light is reduced too much, the plants will not grow.

How to clear the green algae? It can be cleared in two to four days by adding one grain by weight of potassium permanganate to every eight gallons of water. Then, change one-third of the water by siphoning off from the bottom.

On the other hand, should the green water turn yellow, the water must be changed immediately. This is due to the sudden death of the microscopic green algae causing them to decompose and turn the water yellow which means that the water is now foul and must urgently be changed.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Sign of trouble I

Fish can fall sick too. Curing them requires knowledge which is only obtained with years of study and experience. Otherwise we have to rely on the advice of the dealer. However as an aquarist, there are many things we can learn to enable us to recognize signs of trouble and to apply the more simple remedies.

The first and most obvious sign of trouble is the water becoming cloudy. The cloudiness may be one of these three colours; white, brown or green (sometimes turning to yellow).

In this post, we will focus on white cloudiness. White cloudiness in the aquarium water is dangerous. It often means that the oxygen content of the water is too low and the carbon dioxide content is too high. There might be too many (or too big) fish that are taking the oxygen out of the water quicker than the air is replacing it. It also might be a dead fish, snail, mussel or other decomposing matter that is fouling the tank. Besides that, it might be a harmful rock, shell or ornament that keep on dissolving in the water.

In addition, it might also be that the temperature of the water has risen; reducing the water oxygen content and causing overcrowding and white cloudiness. White cloudiness should be tackled at once or the fish will die. It is thus essential to find the cause, calling in the specialist if necessary and to change one-third of the water at a time, replacing with fresh water of the same temperature. The water can be changed with an ordinary clean jug or it can be siphoned, whichever is easier.

In this state of water, the obvious distress signals we notice is that the fish gasping at the top for air, or have their top fins folded and drooping.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Prepared and live foods

There are two types of foods for our fish; prepared and live foods.

Prepared foods are widely sold and very convenient. Fish prefer their prepared foods to be dry. Thus sodden particles at the bottom of the aquarium are not favored. Therefore, the golden rule still applies. Fish should not be overfed.

The other type of foods is the live food. The very best food of this type is live insects and worms. Daphnia is the favourite. Red tubifex worms, white enchytrae worms, brine shrimp, bloodworms and earthworms are also beneficial. The trouble with gathering these foods from rivers and other natural sources is the very real danger of introducing water enemies and diseases to our aquarium. The good news is that, this food can also be obtained from the aquarium store.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Feeding the fish

There are two main foods to feed our fish – live food and prepared food.

The live are better, but they might be difficult to obtain constantly. Anyhow, fish will thrive quite well on a mixture of live and prepared foods; in fact they can get along without any live food if that proves necessary.

When talking about feeding, the golden rule is ‘do not overfeed’. All the food given, including that which falls to the bottom of the aquarium, should be completely eaten in three minutes. The frequency of feeding is a matter of opinion but once or twice a day should be sufficient. The type of fish and the temperature of water they are in affect their eating habits. Therefore we must be aware of the state of our fish in order to decide the amount and frequency of feeding.

We are all aware that fish can go for long periods without any food, so that if we plan to be away, example for a week; we could only feed up the fish on live food for ten days or so prior to departure so as to store up surplus fat energy in the fish, on which they can draw in. However all traces of excess excreta or uneaten food must be siphoned off before departure or the water will be fouled. Should we are unable to feed them live food before our absence, there is nothing to worry as the microscopic life already exist in the water will be sufficient for the fish. This is better than to let someone unskilled to feed our fish in our absence.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

About fish

How to handle ‘bully fish’

Fish that are too boisterous and are inclined to throw their weight about can be ‘stood in the corner’ by being imprisoned in a small container or jar. The water for the jar must be taken from the aquarium itself. If the jar is only two-thirds full, it will float safely in the aquarium and maintain its temperature. The top should be covered to prevent the fish from jumping out. After 12 – 24 hours, it could be released.

What a way to teach the ‘naughty fish’ a lesson!

How to catch fish

Once in a while, for whatever reasons, we need to ‘catch’ a certain fish in the aquarium. How should we do it without ruining the plants and general appearance of the aquarium? The answer is - just chase the fish into the net!

Firstly, we can use a ruler or another small net to drive the fish into the main net.The main net is held in a good position so that it can be quickly pulled upwards and not forward as the fish will prove to be too quick for this. This way, we will not mess up the whole aquarium chasing the elusive creature all round the aquarium.

Monday, April 2, 2007

New fish 'on the block'

Introducing new fish to an existing community must be done with care.

Put the new fish in a small container or can. Then, this container can be hung, or floated in the aquarium until its water temperature becomes similar as that of the tank. It usually will take about 15 – 30 minutes. Nevertheless we must ensure that the container is clean before being floated.

On this one occasion only, feed those already established in the tank extra well and while they are busy eating at one end, tip gently the newcomers at the other. Thus the new arrivals are given a chance to settle down, to find hiding places and generally to take stock of the situation before meeting the crowd.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

General maintenance of the aquarium

With proper care, no overfeeding and not to overcrowd the aquarium, not much general maintenance is required. What we have to do is to just remove the sediment. Thus siphoning should be done once in a month. We can do this by using a bucket and a siphon tube. The tube is to be completely filled up with water from the tap, sealing both ends with the thumbs, and releasing both ends simultaneously (with the aquarium end of the tube under water). This will make the water from the aquarium flow down into a bucket place on the floor. As it flows, it will carry the dirt with it. Usually about the bottom ten per cent of water is removed in this process. The aim is to remove as much sediment and as little water as possible. When this task is over, the aquarium should be topped up with water of the same temperature.

Sounds easy but care should be taken not to siphon out the fish too!