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.