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!