Archive | April, 2012

Don’t shave your Corydoras whiskers

23 Apr

I noticed that one of my Juii Corydoras has lost his whiskers, properly called barbels. Other Corys in the same tank seem to be fine.

A Corydoras Catfish can wear down his barbels by digging around for food. Even though the gravel in this tank looks smooth I have read that just pushing and pushing into the gravel can eventually wear down the whiskers.

This picture shows my little Julii Cory on the left with eroded barbels. The one on the right looks normal.

Sand is the referred substrate for Corydoras and I do use it in a few of my tanks. It’s cheap to buy Playsand at a Home Depot, Menards, Lowe’s type-store. So much cheaper than buying Aquarium Gravel.

I’m going to tear down this tank and put sand on the bottom. It seems to me that sand can be abrasive, too, but the idea is that when the Cory pushes on it, the sand moves.

Another pic of healthy barbels. Big gravel in this tank doesn't seem to be a problem but I will keep an eye on my Corys.

Corys also need clean water. Do your water changes. If the barbels are damaged and the fish lives in dirty, bacteria-laden water it could eventually kill it. I am very guilty of being slack about this. After seeing my little Julii Cory with no barbels I am vowing to try harder.

Spawning the Zebra Danio, post #2

22 Apr

A friend (Mrs. D) has a 29 gallon tank with about 10 Zebras Danios. I asked her if I could borrow a few of her fish for a week or so.

Catching these fish was comical. It was also pathetic. Mr. D and I tried to catch the fish using fairly small nets, plus Mr. D’s net had a big hole in it.  Amazingly, he was able to catch the two males I wanted, whereas I caught the fat egg-laden female. This 5 minute task only took an hour or so.

I felt bad that the tank was tore up so badly. We had to remove rocks and plants, and generally made a mess of it. I mumbled something brilliant like “It’s good for a tank to get stirred up a bit now and then.”

Mr. and Mrs. D's nice-looking 29 gallon tank, before I arrived. Near the surface you can see the Zebra female carrying eggs.

The female is by herself, for now,  in a 10 gallon tank with only a heater and an airline. If we get any babies I’ll get a sponge filter going in there right away.

On the bottom of the tank I put a piece of plastic “light diffuser”, something that can purchased at a hardware store or place like Home Depot. I have the diffuser raised off of the bottom of the tank about half an inch.  Zebra Danios are egg scatterers so we expect that many eggs will fall through the plastic onto the bottom of the tank.

That’s also why I have the water level at about 4 or 5 inches. If the tank was full and they started scattering eggs, the parents would eat many eggs as they sank. Even with this setup lots of eggs will get eaten.  I added  some plants to encourage the Zebras to feel that this is a good place to spawn.

This momma Zebra has been through a lot this past day. She looks almost miserable to me, she is so full of eggs. I would normally wait a few days and let her get comfortable in the breeding tank but I just have a feeling that she needs to pop, so I may put in a male tomorrow morning.

Baby Red Swordtails

22 Apr

A few weeks ago I had a female Red Swordtail in a 10 gallon tank where she could have her first brood of babies. She is a young fish and I was not expecting very many little ones. Well, then came the “toad rescue” and the toad eggs, and I left the momma Swordtail with the toad eggs.  This tank of a gazillion tadpoles now has some baby Swordtails in it. I have only counted four but you can get a colony of Swordtails going from just a few fish. I’m thrilled to see these four and hope to move them outdoors after it warms to the point where my little pond stays above 70F degrees.

"Are we gonna turn into frogs, too?"

The Firemouth Cichlid eggs-periment

22 Apr

I had always perceived Firemouth Cichlids as being quite aggressive fish, only suitable for a tank containing other aggressive fish like Convict Cichlids and Jack Dempseys.

Various internet sites suggest that they can be in a community tank of peaceful fish like Swordtails and the larger Tetras.

Every time I passed a tankful of Firemouths I would look at them  longingly. I like them. I like their colors, I like their shape. At our local fishshop I asked one of the owners, “Are the Firemouths very aggressive? I have been reading that they are not too bad.”  She literally snapped at me, “See their name..CICHLIDS…aggressive!” Or something like that. Of course, she would sell me all the Angelfish (a Cichlid) I would want.

So I bought my Firemouths somewhere else, four of them. Only an inch long, I put them in a 29 gallon tank with a bunch of Green Swordtails that I raised. They get along great with the Swordtails but they beat the heck out of each other, and I have had to move the losers around a bit to let them recover.

I haven’t written a post about them before mainly because I never got a satisfactory photo of one of mine. But now, I have to post this. The largest and strongest two Firemouths have grown to over 3 inches long, and they have been just terrible to the other two Firemouths. They are still good tankmates to the Platies and Swordtails.

Here is why they are so territorial right now. EGGS! Laid on a piece of wood right in the middle of the tank. What am I going to do with these? Honestly, I don’t have a clue right now. I’ll leave a dim light on in the fish room so they can guard the eggs at night.

The Zebra Danio goes Old School

21 Apr

These days we have Long-fin Zebra Danios and, of course, a genetically modified Zebra Danio, called the Glo-fish. Even so, I love the original wild  Zebra. Many fish are  beautiful in their native form and don’t need humans to make them prettier. Sure, I enjoy Red Swordtails and Gold Angels, they are fantastic, but I don’t see them as an improvement over Green Swordtails and Silver Angels. They are simply a variation and, when it comes down to it, each is a living, breathing animal that we have the privilege of caring for.  Whether you have the most common guppy or the fanciest Discus, it is the  appreciation for these creatures we call Tropical Fish that is the difference between someone who casually flushes their fish down a toilet when they are tired of them and someone who researches and learns about and cares for their fish to the best of their ability.

I just love these old Aquarium articles. Here is one from January of 1913 about the Zebra Danio.

Spawning the Zebra Danio post #1

21 Apr

Here’s an easy egg-layer to breed. The Zebra Danio.  Brachydanio rerio

Credit for this picture found at I can barely catch them, much less photograph them.

Zebras live about 2 years and mine are getting old, plus I had a tragedy occur with a filter intake and lost several fish. If I want to have a school of Zebras in my tank I have two choices:

1. Go to the Fish Store. Spend under 10 bucks. Come home with 10 Zebra Danios.


2. Set up a 10 gallon tank, put in a fat female. Wait a few days, put in a male. After spawning catch them both. Wait a few days, hope the eggs are fertile. Get an infusoria culture going for baby food, then get a brine shrimp hatchery going as the babies get bigger. Feed them 5 times a day. Make frequent water changes. Spend about 20 hours watching, feeding, and cleaning which will work out to about 50 cents an hour for labor.

The obvious choice is… yes, you guessed it, number One, I’ll be back in little while.

No wait, I changed my mind. Let’s try to breed some Zebra Danios!

Newly observed Red-eared Slider courting behavior

15 Apr

It’s common knowledge among turtle owners that when Red-eared Sliders go a-courting, the male will swim face-to-face with the female and vibrate his long front claws.  It never fails to impress people who see it for the first time. The male I have is probably an average guy.  He chases his mate constantly, not just in the Spring but it seems almost year-round.

Today, I noticed something different.   My male Slider, named Fred, was wiggling his claws at his girlfriend, named Banana, and just before he surfaced I saw him shoot 3 quick streams of water out of his nose.  As I continued to watch I could see these little underwater pulses of water hit the female in the chin. I came to the realization that the male, Fred, was doing this as part of the courtship.

I grabbed my camera and took a video that is not spectacular in any way, but if you look closely you will see these little pulses.  The behavior is most clear at the 45-55 second point of the video, and right before he surfaces.

There is no reason for him to be pulsing water from his nose when he is underwater, he should be simply holding his breath, but yet you can see that he is sending a little jet of water under Banana’s chin.

Turtle keepers who handle their turtle’s often gently scratch under the turtle’s chin.  Could this possibly  feel good based on their evolutionary method of courtship and breeding?

This has got to have been documented before, it seems so obvious to me, but if not I hope that Banana and Fred become famous in the annals of Slider history.