Saturday, December 3, 2011

Just Call Me Jezzel Fixit

Here's the first test of my DIY spray bar attachment I made for my Eheim ECCO 2232. Its just an 8" length of 1/2" PVC with an end cap. Nothing is silconed together it just fits tightly on its own. I had to sand the edges of the pvc to make it fit on the tubing correctly but all in all this cost me $1.50 and took maybe 3 minutes to make with a power drill and some sand paper.

The holes need to be widen a bit because the flow is too strong at this size. The filter and spray bar are going on my 55g planted tank as soon as it comes out of dry start in about 4 weeks.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A New Project

At first the plan was to sell the 55g but I bought it for too much originally and I would not be able to get my money back out of it so we moved it out into the livingroom taking over the space previously occupied by the 35g hexagon. There are some big plans on the books for this tank. It will now become our planted tank! And this time, we're doing things the right way. We are utilizing a lot more light than we did on the 35g and I'll be installing a 5lb bottle of pressurized Co2 under the tank, also the tank is beginning using the dry start method pioneered by Tom Barr. The tank has been filled with substrate and aquascaped to my liking and planted with foreground plants that can be successfully grown out of water, Hemianthus callitrichoides (dwarf baby tears) and Echinodorus tenellus (pygmy chain swords). The HC makes a beautiful carpetting plant but its near impossible to plant submerged so using DSM it will grown out of water for 6 weeks providing a stable enough root bed to survive the filling process.

On Tuesday, I spent two hours planting. I ordered 9 pots of HC and 6 pots of PCS from, the plants arrived early, in great condition, and they even sent me an extra PCS. This was my first time ordering anything live online and it was a good experience, maybe one day I'll actually get some fish or coral this way. The HC came in little plant pots so I have to take it out, divide the plug into tiny groupings and them remove the mineral wool they come wrapped in before the could be planted.
Here's my little cutting board while I was planting:

After the HC was all planted, I placed the PCS right behind them in aestheticly pleasing locations across the length of the tank:

This is all that's going to the tank for now. After about 6 weeks of grow out the tank will be filled with water and be ready for the reast of the plants and a half million tetras and rasboras:

The final step in the dry start method is to wrap the tank in saran wrap and mist down the whole thing to keep the tank wet and humid for the plants:

I'll try and be a bit more diligent with the blog from now on since the semester is almost out but I can't really promise I wont drop off the face of the planet again.

RIP all my freshwater tanks

I haven't posted in almost a month and its because school has been kicking my butt lately. Ive really had zero time to do a lot of things, including updating this blog and performing regular maintence on my fish tanks. As a result of less than stellar maintence regime I let the tanks slip into disrepair a little bit and lost a lot of motivation to properly care for them. As it turns out 4 tanks plus school and work is a lot to deal with.

Near the beginning of the month we had a death in the 35g planted tank. Andrew, our leopard angelfish, passed suddenly leaving just the other angelfish, Hans, and a handful of corys and tetras that hadn't died yet. The tank never really looked as good as we wanted it to as a planted tank so the decision was made to tear it down and sell it. Shortly after Andrew's death I realized that Jameson wasn't getting the attention that he deserved and so I found him a new home that can provide the level of care that he needs. This left the 55g empty so we tore that down as well. We are also in the process of finding someone to buy the 16g bowfront crayfish tank.

The only tank left now is the saltwater reef tank but there may be some future plans for the 55g tank...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Update: Reef build 2 months

The reef tank is now two months old and I have all of the fish from my stocking list in the tank and a good number of coarls. At this point I will be going slow and letting the tank grow out.
As for fish and inverts, I have:
Harptail Blenny
2 Misbar Clownfish
Six-Line Wrasse
Orchid Dottyback
Yellow Watchman Goby
Tiger Pistol Shrimp
Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp
5 Turbo Snails
6 Nassarius Snails
Feather Duster Worm

And corals:
Whammin' Watermelon Zoanthid colony
Neon Green Birdsnest Acropora
Blue Clover Polyp
2 Branching Frogspawn corals
Sun coral
Dragon's Eye Zoanthid colony
War coral
Maze Brain coral
Plate coral
Trumpet or Candy Cane coral

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Too far into the future

I have this really bad habit of planning. I like to plan far into the future, it's part of the reason that I burnout on projects so fast. Before I'm done with something I'm already off in my head planning out the next project. For example, I've just started my first saltwater tank and everything is going really well so far but the tank is only about 2 months new. It's way too soon to gauge my success with this tank but I'm already planning my next SW tank in my head. These are kinds of conversations I have with myself:

If this tank goes well then I'm going to upgrade to much larger reef tank in the future. I don't have room in my apartment for a bigger tank so when I own a house with a basement one day I'm going to put a monster tank down there. No expenses spared. It's gonna be like a 240g long reef tank and I'll have a 70g sump or larger attached to it and I'll have a coral frag tank also so that I can sell stuff and try and make so money back. yeah right. All the money I make from selling frags will just go towards buying rarer frags. Where am I going to put all of this? I know I'll wall off a portion of the basement in my future house and create a room behind the display tank, which I'll set into the wall, so that I store everything out of sight and do water changes easily. Wait a minute, 25% of that water volume is roughly 80 gallons. I'm going to be buying A LOT of salt. I also like freshwater tanks so I'll get like a 150g FW tank and stock it with oscars and big plecos. I know I said I wanted like a 300g FW tank for Umbees or Black Nasties but now I think I like saltwater more. I'll be happy enough with just a 150 cichlid tank. This house will be awesome!

My brain works a mile a minute when coming up with grandious plans. I'm not even done with my schooling yet. I don't have a career that will support a fish addiction on the scale that I'm planning on having. It's a total pipe dream that may not ever come true. And if it does will I only get halfway through the project and then get sidetracked by something else? Who knows. This is all too far into the future to say anything for certain. For now I need to keep focused on my present tanks.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Update: Reef build 1 month

Here's the tank at one month:
Still fighting off the diatom bloom but it's steadily getting better. One of my 4 turbo snails was eaten by Princess Leia, so now she has been returned to the pet store (she also ate one of their fish after being put in the tank). My lady purchased me an amazing green bird's nest acropora this week and it is doing great!
*Reef updates will now be posted on monthly basis, rather than once a week*

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Let's talk oscars!

Far too often, almost daily, do I hear someone in a pet store or online talk about getting fish that are far too big for their tank or about how they own fish that are going to outgrow their tanks in a short period. I already discussed the most common offender of this, the common pleco owner in my post but now I want to talk about my very favorite fish of all time, the Tiger Oscar!

The tiger oscar (Astronotus ocellatus), and its albino colormorph, is likely the third most popular freshwater fish in the hobby behind the angelfish and the goldfish. However, the majority of hobbyist have become accustom to housing their oscars improperally. Oscars get to be between 18" and 20" in length and they can weight around 5 lbs when fully grown. More impressively, oscars will grow at a rate of 1" per month and eat anything and everything in sight, including but limited to, plastic plants and poker chips. As such an oscar needs a tank that is between 18" to 24" inches front to back so that it turn around in the tank without having to bend itself in half; also the tank should allow the fish to swim 3 or 4 lengths before having to turn around. As such, an oscar should never be housed in a tank smaller than 90 gallons. The sad truth, however, is that I have seen owners keep them in tanks as small as 10g and the majority live in 55g tank. Even in a 55g tank, which most new hobbyist will think of as a very large tank, an oscar will become stunted and die within the first 2 to 3 years from internal complications or head and lateral line erosion (HLLE). A properly housed and fed oscar can live 15 to 20 years.

There seems to be an horrible rumor going around that pet stores will gladly accept your fish that has gotten too big for aquarium and thus hobbyist can buy fish that they know full well will outgrow their tank and just return them when they tire of the fish and start over again with a juvinile. Most stores, including chain stores are getting away from this practice and for good reason. I know if I'm working and you try to turn over an over grown fish, I'm gonna tell you tough luck. You bought it so you have to watch it die a slow death.

There is a strange dichotomy between pet owners, most, according to serval online polls, would not hessitate to spend upwards of $3000 to save the life of a dog or cat yet they are loath to spend the money to properly take care of fish. Somewhere along the lines hobbyist have gotten it into their heads that fish are disposable pets and its is societly acceptable to place fish in inhuman conditions; after all the average oscar costs only $8 so who cares, right?

Please, a pray that if you do not have the ability to purchase and properly equip an aquarium large enough to house large fish such as tiger oscars or silver dollars (125g+) or common plecos (125g+) arowanas (300g+) or peacock bass (200g+) or jaguar cichlids (200g+) or umbee cichlids (300g+) or pacu (400g+) do not buy these fish and leave them to real aquarists to care for. Stick to mollies and platies.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Update: Reef build week 3

I had a huge algae bloom yesterday, my rocks were white when I went to work in the morning and when I came back home they were covered in orange algae. So now I have two turbo snails (Turbo spp.) to help control the diatoms and microalgaes and I also final picked up my hermit crab, Princess Leia, from my coworker's who had been holding her for me until my tank was safe for inverts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Update: Reef build week 2

Added a piece of live rock that had a ton of hitchhikers including two pulsing xenias, some zoanthids, and a dark grey paly that looks similiar to a blue death paly. I also added a small zoanthid colony, I'm not sure what the color morph is called but the edges are bright green with red and orange centers.

Tank Build: 40b reef tank

I've been wanting to start a saltwater reef tank for a while now, probably since I set up my first few freshwater tanks and had success keeping fish. However, the high cost of the equipment and a lack of confidence had always kept me from taking the plunge into saltwater. Now, after learning from coworkers and customers alike, as well as helpful forums like and, I have set up my first tank! Here's a look a my specs:

40 gallon breeder 36"x18"x17"
50lbs of dry, base rock (mostly lace rock and texas holy rock)
~25lbs of play sand
2 Aqueon 500 gph pumps
150w Aqueon pro heater
Coralife Super Skimmer 65
ZooMed 36" Aquasun t5 lighting system
  - ZooMed 39w UltraSun t5
  - ZooMed 39w ReefSun actinic t5
Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite 2 ppm
Nitrate 20 ppm
Salinity 1.023
Temperature 80 degrees

Planning stages of the reef rockwork:
Up on the stand:
Added another 20lbs of rock and the sand. Rock worked changed a bit and everything got epoxied together for safety:
Side view of my eel cave:
Sabrina helping me put everything in place:
Tank filled with water and looking murky:

I will be updating this build as the week goes on so that hopefully everyone can watch as the tank goes over the weeks and months

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tank Build: 35g Hexagon

I wasn't too diligent about getting a lot of pictures of the whole tank building process but then again, it was fast and easy build. I bought a second hand 35g hexagonal tank a few month back (tank, stand, hood, and about 50lbs of brown gravel). Jen and I decided that it would become our first planted tank and include angelfish as the center piece. Here's the tank as I bought it (except the log which was from my 29g cichlid tank):
The first thing that I did was start up a Hydro-sponge III filter in my 55g tank. I let that sponge run in the tank for a little over a month to seed it with nitrifying bacteria that would break down the ammonia and nitrite produced by the fish waste. By seeding the sponge ahead of time in an already established tank I didn't have to wait the normal 2-8 weeks for the nitrifying bacterial colonies to grow in my new tank and I was safe to add fish within a few days. (Here's a link to the Aquarium nitrogen cycle in case you are thinking of setting up a new tank Next, I threw away the old gravel that the tank came with and got my hands on 64lbs of live, red planting sediment. I filled the tank up to a 3 inch depth for planting and then filled the tank with dechlorinated tap water, installed the heater and sponge filter, and added to slabs of slate the will serve as the main structure for which I will plant around.
After I let the tank sit for 2 days so that the water could adjust to the right temperature and I could monitor my water parameters to make sure that I was reading 0ppm for ammonia and nitrites I purchased 6 spotted corydoras catfish, 2 large amazon sword plants, 2 java ferns, an Argentina sword, and chain sword from my LFS. While I acclimated the corys, using the bucket method, I planted all the plants. The whole process of acclimating the fish and planting took me an hour.

The final step was to add the angelfish, I allowed a week to pass so that the little corys could become comfortable in the tank before adding the big angels. Jen picked out a Koi angelfish and a Leopard angelfish which she named Hanz and Andrew.

So far the tank is going great and the angelfish are already very interactive with both of us and they are always hungry.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Video: Jameson

Shortly after taking the video of Shy Ronnie, I was able to capture another video of the elusive Jameson. This one is much longer than the first and he is a lot more active in it also. I do apologies for the horrendous glare on the glass, I didn't want to take the time to close the windows and risk missing the opportunity to get another video of Jameson.

Video: Shy Ronnie

It's been a busy week of moving but we are all finally settled into our new fishroom in the new apartment. Moving four fish tanks, even when two are dry is not a lot of fun and the majority of moving day I had 5g buckets full of fish all over both the new and old place. Anyway, I gave Jameson some carnivore pellets for breakfast then went about unpacking a bit more and when I came back into the fishroom I found my bristlenose pleco, Shy Ronnie, munching away on Jameson's breakfast. I love the way that Shy Ronnie wiggles around the tank when she's eating so I had to take a video of the little food stealer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Video clip of Jameson

Jameson is really shy so Ive left the camera on a tripod in front of his 55g tank for the last few days to get him used to its presence. I tried to film him eating some crickets this morning and this is what I captured. He didn't eat but it actually took him a whole 20 secs to go into hiding after I turned on the camera when he would usually bolt immediately; progress.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

L75 Angst

I haven't seen eye-to-eye with L75 for a while now. I never really cared for this fish, but now that I work with this fish and uneducated fishkeepers weekly, I really have a loathing for it. In case you are lost, L75 is commonly known as the Trinidad plecostomus (Hypostomus punctatus) or even more commonly known as the Common plecostomus. My frustrations with the Common pleco steam from all of the people who come into work (almost on a daily basis) and tell me "I just started a new tank, I need a pleco", or worse, "I have algae where are your suckerfish?". The Common pleco spans several common  fishkeeping myths: All tanks need an algae eater, Bottom feeders don't need to be fed, bottom feeders eat excrement, fish only grow to the size of the tank and, if you write "plecostomus" instead of pleco online, your pleco will die suddenly. The uneducated hobbyist, sees the Trinidad pleco as an excuse to practice poor aquarium maintenance habits. "I don't have to do water changes because my pleco cleans the glass and eats all the fish poop in the tank." The Trinidad pleco will grow to a size of 24" (the full length of a 20g tank) facilitating the need for a tank of at least 150g and it is copious waste producer, so a powerful filter is always required; in most cases, L75 will contribute more waste than it actually "cleans" out of the tank.

The myths about everyone needing a pleco in the tank is so ingrained in the mind of the uneducated hobbyist(I am loath to call them fishkeepers or aquarists) that convincing them otherwise is a chore. Most will not care that the fish's growth will become stunted, in fact, they are hoping for this so they can justify to you that fish grow to their tank size with no ill effects. They will insist that they can not keep the tank clean without one. They will attempt to convince you that when it gets too big they can find someone who will take it. I had one woman go so far as to tell me that she didn't care if she was artificially shortening an animal's lifespan by putting it into a 20g tank because they're cheap enough to buy a new one in a year. This is why I hate the L75, if it didn't exist I would not have to hear people say such repugnant things and I would have to argue with customers and refuse to sell them fish; my day would be a lot less hassle and I wouldn't lose my store so much business.

On a brighter note, you can have an algae eater in almost every size of aquarium available if you expand your horizons. Fish from the Corydoradinae family make great bottom feeders and algae eaters, come in several color morphs including the Lazer Cory, and only grow to around 3". Fish from the Ancistrus family include bristlenose plecos, many of which stay under 6", come in many wonderful colors and patterns, and in my opinion, greatly out preform the Trinidad pleco when it comes to algae cleaning power. I have a 4" female BN pleco in my 55g which sits right next to a sliding glass door and she keeps the whole tank spotless, I never have algae. Snails are another great option for small tanks. I have two apple snails (Pomacea bridgesii) in my 16g tank and they do a wonderful job at cleaning the tank and they actually very active and fun to watch.

It is my hope that if you own an aquarium of any size that you will do some research and educate yourself as to the species available for sale in your area and you will steer clear of L75 unless you have a ]v[onster tank; otherwise take one of my suggestions to heart and pick an appropriately sized specimen for your tank. Remember, a fish (no matter the kind) will ever be a substitute for good aquarium maintenance.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fry on the Way?

I took this video of my Ryan's convict cichlids displaying some courting behavior. I'm holding these fish in a 40g breeder quarantine tank that is lying on my floor in front of my 55g CA cichlid tank. The tank is only half full because they will eventually be housed in a 20g long tank and selfishly I didn't want to drain a fully filled 40g tank at the end of the week. It is likely, that only the two that have paired up will be kept and the other two females will be sold or traded for other fish. As I stated earlier, I am babysitting these convicts because their owner did not have their tank set up at the time he bought them so I got suckered into providing my future reef tank as a holding tank while Ryan cycles their permanent home.

From Out of the Depths

I was just preforming my weekly water changes and doing a deep cleaning on the 16g bowfront; which surprisingly for the low bioload is my dirtiest tank. The deep cleaning usually incompasses removing the crayfish's cave, cleaning under it (he hoards food under it and the gravel is usually blanketed in uneaten and disolving algea wafers and shrimp pellets), scrubing all the algea off of the cave and of the Buddah's head. Anyway, the apple snails kept getting in my way while trying to put decor back in so I took one out of the water and to my surprise this thing was HUGE. These snails were nowhere near this big a year ago when I got them and the water and bowfront combo distorts their image so I had no clue how big they were. Now I'm wondering how big that crayfish would look if I pulled him out of the tank for a bit.

In other giant invert news I found this article on Yahoo today

Fishy Record Holders

The BBC and Practical Fishkeeping, UK have provided a list of some of the largest, fastest, smallest, and most poisonous fish in the world.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Current stocking list

55 gallon: This tank was designed to recreate the Central American streams and waterways that Jack Dempsey inhabit in the wild.

Jameson - Electric Blue Jack Demsey (Nandopsis octofasciatum)
Shy Ronnie - Bristlenose plecostomus (Ancistrus sp.)
Oliver - Pictus catfish  (Pimelodus pictus)
Amazon Swords (Echinodorus bleheri)

16 gallon bowfront: This tank was started to save my fiance's blue crayfish from my cichlids that had already eaten one of his arms. It also has a betta in it and yes, I know this is not a good mix but going on 6 months now I have not had problems between the two.

Taco Bell - Double tail male betta (Betta splendens)
Lucas - blue crayfish (Procambarus alleni)
2 apple (mystery) snails (Ampullariidae sp.)

35 gallon Hexagonal: This tank hasn't been set up yet. The plan is to make it into a planted angelfish tank that will be the centerpiece in the living room of our apartment; the other 3 tanks will go in the fish room.
Proposed Fish:
Angelfish (Cichlidea Pterophyllum)
Blue ram cichlid (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi)
Spotted Cory catfish (Corydoras agassizii)
I do not know what specific plants I will be adding at this time.

40 gallon breeder: This is going to be the reef tank although right now I am doing a coworker a big favor and housing 4 convict cichlids that he purchased before he had cycled his tank. So at the moment I essentially have a 40g quarantine tank. These fish are already pairing up and I will most likely have a few hundred fry by the time my coworker comes to pick them up.

4 Convict cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)

A History of Fishkeeping

Not really a factual, in-depth discussion of the history of ornamental fishkeeping, which most likely began in ancient China, though fishkeeping as a form of husbandry has certainly existed for as long as civilization has, but a short overview of my personal fishkeeping experiences.

I have only been an aquarist for a little over a year now but my experiences go much further back. As a kid we always had two fish tanks in the home. One was a 29 gallon community tank in the dining room and the other was a 55 gallon cichlid tank in the living room. Both of these tanks were my dad's but he favored the larger tank. He always kept tiger oscars in it (Astronotus ocellatus), though occasionally there would be a green terror (Andinoacara rivulatus) and once, I was allowed to purchase a fish for tank, a royal clown knifefish (Chitala chitala) but, sadly, it was killed within hours of its introduction by the green terror. This is the tank that started my obsession with large, predatory cichlids. As a child I loved the days when my dad would bring home a bag of feeder goldfish, dump them into the tank, and the Oscars would swallow four or five of them at a time, swimming about with the tails of goldfish protruding from their gills.

It's at this time that I should mention that my dad has a very hands off approach to fish keeping. He would maybe preform a 50% water change once every other month, I never once saw him clean the canister filters on either tank and the large cichlids were fed  Hikari Cichlid Gold pellets or they got live feeders and nothing else. So, two or three years would pass and the 16"+ Oscars and other large cichlids in that overstocked 55g tank would get severe head and lateral line erosion (HLLE or Hole-in-Head disease) and eventually die. No one knows for sure what causes HLLE in large fish but most likely its brought on by poor diet (feeder fish in particular) and poor water parameters; both conditions that existed in that tank.

My dad no longer has the 55g; my mom chipped the corner with a chair one day and dad got paranoid that the glass would completely shatter. He doesn't have the 29g either. There was a long period in that house when there were no fish until a time when a clients of dad's paid him with a 30g cube tank. At the moment, it has a single harlequin rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha) and dad refuses to restock the tank until it dies so he has stopped turning on the lights and stopped feeding it but that was a few months ago and it's still alive; who knows maybe he'll restock it or perhaps, starting caring for that little fish again.

So here we are at the present time. I got really bored last summer (no school and job while my fiance worked two jobs) so I started researching fishkeeping just for fun. Soon just for fun became for practical purposes and before I knew it I had a used 29g tank and stand. As I gained some success with keeping fish, Multiple Tank Syndrome set in and I got a 16g bowfront tank to house my fiance's blue crayfish who had lost an arm to inhabitants of the 29g. The 29g began leaking back in January and I bought a 55g. Then I bought a 35g Hexagonal tank for angelfish and a 40g breeder tank to start my first saltwater reef. The 35g and the 40g are not running yet so I will be posting about the progress of those two projects shortly.

Thanks for hanging in with me, I know history lessons can be dry but I thought I should record some of my experiences. I will get into some of the fun stuff now!