Archive | November, 2011

The Red-tail Shark gets old and cranky

26 Nov

They are so cute aren’t they? Jet-black body and bright red tail. They are mostly vegetarians but they LOVE frozen brine shrimp. So how can they be a problem? I will tell you.

As they get older, which means after a year or so when they are over 3 inches long, they may get mean and territorial. Something triggers them to chase other fish and the Red-tail Shark is relentless. They are slashers, and they are fast. Mine seems to pick on fish that have his similar body shape, about 4 inches long and stream-lined.

Not every Red-tail acts like this but remember you are taking a chance with them. One answer is to keep them with small fish,  under 2 inches, like Serpae Tetras,  common guppies and platies. These smaller fish don’t seem to rouse the Shark’s aggression.

A different approach is to put the adult Shark with fish that won’t take his abuse, like some of the medium-sized Cichlids.

With Red-tail Sharks anything can happen, total peace or total war. Be prepared to move him out or back to the pet shop when he gets older.

My Red-tail Shark is no longer in this community tank, he is a bad boy. Or girl.

Make your Betta happy

26 Nov

You think your Betta really likes being in a cold, dirty fishbowl getting tossed a few little grains of dry food once a day?

In a heated, filtered fish tank he will be so much happier. Give him brine shrimp, and mysis shrimp, and krill.  He’s a meat-eater!

My Betta is living in a tank of Angelfish and I think this is pure luck.  He really should be with SMALL peaceful fish like Neons and other small Tetras, and Platies, for example. If you put your Betta in a community tank, keep a very close eye on his tailfins. If he is getting picked on don’t let it go on too long, maybe a few days to see if things settle down. You might have to rescue him and put him back in that nasty little bowl but at least you tried!


Colombian Tetras, also known as Red-Blue Tetras

26 Nov

My Colombians with Serpaes, Bleeding Hearts and Black-skirt Tetras.

Colombian tetras are just a great all-around fish. I bought 5 last year. No deaths, no diseases, they cause no problems with other fish or each other.

These fish are not gaudy, they can look quite plain one moment, then go under the lights just the right way and look so pretty. I have seen photos of them in large groups , in a school of 20 or more, and they are impressive. A planted tank at 75 degrees F and clean water means happy fish.

Most information on the Internet calls them Colombian Tetras, but I see them at Petsmart being sold as Red-Blue Tetras. These fish are over-looked at the pet store because they look mostly silver, but I promise they will show great colors in the home aquarium.

Get some! At LEAST THREE.  More if you can.

So happy together: Angelfish and Neons

26 Nov

Seems like everyone loves Angelfish and everyone loves Neon Tetras. Can they live together? Absolutely, but every pet shop owner will tell you what I am going to tell you. Start with small Angelfish and not-too-small Neons, and they will grow up together, happy as can be.

In this photo I show my young Gold Angel, who is now a HUGE Gold Angel, and he and his Marble Angel buddies don’t bother the Neon Tetras or Glowlight Tetras at all.

Don’t you love this little Gold Angelfish, he looks so delicate. Delicate schmellicate, he is a tough guy.

The Odessa Barb, too colorful to describe

26 Nov

Odessa Barbs are one of the prettiest fish you will ever see. The males are spectacular. At the pet shop they look pale, boring, mostly silvery gray and  a little reddish. Buy some, wait a few days and WOW, they turn into one of the most amazing freshwater fish you can get.  This also happens with Rummy-nose Tetras…dull at the pet shop, beautiful in your tank.

Female Odessa’s do not have the brilliant colors of the males, and when I bought my Odessas I hoped I had a female or two, they all looked so plain. But all of them were males!! In a few days they were flying around the tank, establishing a pecking order. They were soooo fast and seemed so powerful  that I was afraid for the other fish in the tank. But the Odessa’s only chased each other, and if one was beaten, he hid awhile and came out later looking as good as new.

I think they need some room to swim fast and chase each other.  A 20 gallon would be good for a small group.  Live plants are nice for them to hide in.

I did find a female Odessa Barb, but since I already had 5 males, I eventually felt sorry for her and put her in a 10 gallon for some peace and quiet.

I  theorize that the Odessas are so strong and healthy because they have only been captive-bred for about 30 years or so. There were no Odessa Barbs to be bought when I had fish in the late 1970’s. They just seem like you plucked them right out of an Asian stream, feisty as heck. That’s the word for these guys, feisty, in a good way.  If you acquire some, get up close to the tank and just stare at them , you will see colors and patterns that are not apparent from a distance.

Three Odessa Barbs in this photo.


The Tiger Barb must stay in school

26 Nov

Here’s a controversial fish, the Tiger Barb. Are they fin-nippers? Can they be put in a community tank?

Yes and yes, I would say. They WILL nip fins of male Bettas, Veil-tail Angelfish and others.  And fin-nipping eventually means fish-killing. The nipped fish has to hide and try to escape and it just wears them out eventually.  BUT it is also true that when Tiger Barbs school they tend to nip each other mostly.  So get a group of them, at least 4 or 5, and it helps if they are of equal size. I had a single large adult and added several mid-sized ones. The big guy beat the heck out of the smaller ones (and killed one) until they were his size.

My single biggest fish disaster was because of some ich-infected Tiger Barbs. I had quarantined them for two weeks, and after I added them to my communtiy tank…ICH, a parasite, as I am sure you know.  I lost a LOT of fish, but that could happen with any fish you buy. Set up a little 3 or 5 or 10 gallon quarantine tank if you can.

I like the Tiger Barbs, their vertical bars are striking. The more you can get  the better.  Usually they cost 2 or 3 dollars each but I see them for a dollar apiece sometimes.

Female in the foreground. More colorful, thinner male in the background.

Let me sum it up. A 10 gallon tank is too small unless they are in with very tough fish like the Corydoras Catfish and Blackskirt Tetras and other Barbs. Platies might be alright, too. If you put them in a larger tank, they will generally mess with each other and ignore all others. Mine are in a 30 gallon tank. They are with Long-fin Zebra Danios and a Paradisefish and Harlequin Rasboras. They are great!!

A Practical Fishkeeping Blog

26 Nov

My 29 gallon tank with Angels, Neons, Glowlights and others.

Hello everyone.  I’d like to tell you about the fish species and the fish tanks I have.  MY experiences with them.
My plan is to post a new article every week or two. I’ll pick a fish and try to give you some interesting and helpful information about that fish.  Maybe a page, maybe a paragraph, we’ll see. The fish I choose are fish that I have experience keeping.
Also, I’ll talk about aquatic plants and other topics.

I have one salt-water tank that I set up four years ago, and I have, let’s see, TEN freshwater tanks, some are just 10 gallons but it keeps me busy. So the topics will lean toward freshwater fishkeeping.

And if you like reptiles and amphibians, there will surely be some posts about my turtles and tortoises, salamanders, frogs, and one snake. BUT, I will mainly talk about fish. I named this A Practical Fishkeeping Blog so I had better try to stick to it.