Archive | March, 2013

Now THAT’S a fish show!!

31 Mar

I joined our local fish club a few months ago and today I went to their annual aquarium show.

I was impressed. The tanks were beautiful, the fish bigger and prettier than any I have ever had.

This Altum Angelfish is about twice as big as my Scalare Angels.

This Altum Angelfish is about twice as big as my Scalare Angels.

I think people who see these aquariums will say to themselves, “That is so pretty, maybe we should get a fish tank!”


What do people say when they enter a pet store? “Look at all the fish.”


Typical petstore aquarium. Nice fish, but not something to put in the living room.

Display tanks, both large and small, may not be a waste of space in a retail store if it motivates customers to get an aquarium. To anyone who thinks that aquariums take up too much room, you should have seen some of the little tanks at the fish show.


This tank is only a few gallons. Maybe 10 liters or so.


Another little one.


One of my favorite fish, the Harlequin Rasbora.

One of my favorite fish, the Harlequin Rasbora.

Big Sterbai Corydoras.

Big Sterbai Corydoras.



I’ve never seen this fish species before. I need to get Googling.


Platies are great for beginners and experienced aquarists. Maybe the perfect fish.
Hardy, many color variations, easy to breed.


See the big Pleco tail sticking out of the cave? There are tons of juvenile Plecos in this tank, too.



This Plecostomus must be nearly 2 feet long.


The fish show is held at a greenhouse. Here is a banana tree. In Iowa, we don’t see banana trees very often. I was impressed.

More fun and freebies at the Fish Club

21 Mar

This is coming from a person who never joins ANYTHING!


I went to our fish club meeting last week. I joined 3 months ago so it was the third meeting I had ever attended.

I bagged 12 bags of assorted aquarium plants to sell at the meeting. I had saltwater Caulerpa, freshwater Java Moss, Hornwort, and Water Lettuce.


There weren’t too many people at the meeting, only a dozen or so. They quickly snapped up the plants for a dollar or two per bag and I donated that to the fish club. Like I always say, I am in this hobby to lose money.

Earlier in the meeting there was a presentation on how to set-up a tank for a fish show. Every year, this fish club holds an aquarium show on Easter weekend at a city-owned greenhouse. I’m not displaying a tank there this year. I am a chicken, simple as that, but next year, look out!! I have some big ideas!!!

Two members brought in four Dwarf Red Gularis and those sold for $1 each. I’m sure those beautiful fish are worth much more but I knew nothing about them and I have tried to abide by the rule not to buy a fish until I know how to properly care for it.

Just to show you how pretty a Dwarf Red Gularis is, here is a picture I stole off the Internet:

Insanely beautiful fish. If only I had an empty tank!!!

Insanely beautiful fish. If only I had an empty tank!!!

Then, a fun part of every meeting is called Mystery Fish. Clues are given about a fish that is hidden in a bag. The clues start out vague and then get more specific until someone guesses what the fish is. The winner gets to keep the fish. At this meeting, a cute little Pearlscale Goldfish was the prize.

Finally, the raffle!!! I spent 2 bucks and got 6 tickets. Would I win anything this time???

The first number gets called and…It’s me!!!

Over 5 ounces of fish food! Great for Angels, Firemouths, and the catfish love it too!

Over 5 ounces of fish food! Great for Angels, Firemouths, and the catfish love it too!

A few minutes later, me again!!

A sponge filter. I love these! Very efficient design.

A sponge filter. I love these! Very efficient design.

Then, I had a third ticket number called!

Once the fish food was off the raffle table, I grabbed this water dechorinator.

Once the fish food was off the raffle table, I grabbed this water dechorinator.

I’m not especially lucky, I think nearly everyone at the meeting won 2 or 3 prizes.

On top of all that, there was a 12 oz. sample of this product given to every club member:

Start Smart Complete is live bacteria that allows you to add fish to a brand-new aquarium without waiting weeks for the tank to go through it's natural bacteria cycle.

Start Smart Complete is live bacteria that allows you to add fish to a brand-new aquarium without waiting weeks for the tank to go through it’s natural bacteria cycle.

You know that TV show “Tanked” where those weirdos set up crazy expensive fish tanks? They set up the tank and throw the fish right in. How can they do that?? I bet they use this Start Smart Complete or something like it.

This Spring I will try it in my outdoor 30 gallon pond. I’ll clean the pond , fill it up, dechlorinate it, add the Start Smart, and put in the fish.  I’ll be adding Velvet Red Swordtails and Marigold Variatus Platies.

I feel lucky to have discovered the fun of joining a fish club. The people at this club probably know twice as much as I do about fish but they don’t show off their knowledge , they want to share it. I bet most fish clubs are like that. Try it!

Troubles with Angelfish

21 Mar

Some of my adult Angelfish have died recently. Two different tanks and different symptoms.

It started over a month ago with my female Marble Angel. She was the mother of the 70 babies that are now living in various tanks here in Eastern Iowa.  One day I noticed she looked lethargic, sitting near the bottom. It was puzzling. The next day she was dead!


I suspect that she banged into the side or top of the aquarium and could not recover. An aquarium is a very foreign environment, even to a fish.  Vertical glass walls with a plastic or glass top.

One thing we can do to avoid this problem is to turn the lights on or off gradually. When I go into the fishroom I turn on an overhead room light. Then I turn on a light over some houseplants I have.  Finally, I start turning on the tank lights.

At night I do the reverse, of course. Fish lights off first, then the plants , then the room light.


Then I lost this poor girl to Heximita, which I wrote about in a previous post.

THEN, I was given 4 adult Angelfish!

A neighbor gave me these fish. Originally, he bought 2 of my young Gold Angelfish, $1 each!.  I didn’t know he lived two blocks away. I gave him some plants, and later helped set up his Angelfish rearing tank, complete with brine shrimp, etc. Then, he wanted some Jack Dempseys and …ta da!… I had Jack Dempseys to give him so… he gave me Angelfish.

A breeding pair of Marble Koi Angels.

A breeding pair of Marble Koi Angels.


…plus this Angel on the right.


A week later this fish was dead.

AND another adult that he gave me died!!! I didn’t have it long enough to get a photo of it. That one had ragged fins and a bloated belly and was no surprise but the one up above… well, it has just confused me.

I guess the point is…some fish you can save. Some you can’t. Some diseases and injuries come on so fast there is no time to diagnose the problem. In those cases I think it’s a good idea to think about the general condition of the aquarium and make substantial water changes. You can test the water all you want but I still say, CHANGE the WATER!!! I’m talking like 20 percent every day for a week. After all, it’s called FRESH WATER right? Observe the fish awhile and see if any of the fish are being harassed by others.

Try not to be discouraged when a fish dies. If you learn from it and stick with it you will find yourself raising fish by the hundreds!

You can blame me when that happens.

ICH!!! Why the aquarium hobby is dying! LISTEN PetCo and Petsmart!

9 Mar

All hobbies peak and then ebb in popularity. The aquarium hobby was most popular in the 1970’s. There were a number of tropical fish stores in our town. Now, only three. A PetCo, a Petsmart, and one family -owned store.

I propose two main reasons for the decline of fish-keeping as a hobby.

The main reason is the same one that kids don’t ride bikes, play “Army” or go explore the local creek.

Computers. Simple as that. Computers, cell-phones that do everything, gigantic TV’s with fantastic game systems. Here’s a picture of my son playing a basketball game on our new TV:

No competition I'm afraid.

No competition I’m afraid.

The second reason is ICH! The disease, the little white spots all over your fish. The parasite.

Most stores do not quarantine their fish before sale. Most stores do not have employees who can quickly recognize sick fish. Many stores keep these sick fish in tanks that are inter-connected with the healthy fish.

You just can’t win. I have bought Ich-infested fish 3 times in the past 18 months. A single Angelfish purchased at Petsmart infected all the Angelfish I had at the time. A group of four Tiger Barbs purchased at PetCo caused a mass die-off in my most populated community tank. I had quarantined them for two weeks.

Healthy Red Swordtails.

Healthy Red Swordtails.

Most recently, I bought 4 Black Phantom Tetras at Petsmart. I put them in a 10-gallon tank with some Corydoras and Red Swordtails. The tetras quickly became covered in Ich. After treatment all four were dead. The fish I owned all survived.

Red Swords with Photo-shopped Ich.

Red Swords with Photo-shopped Ich.

So, imagine a new fish owner. He or she is all excited about this new hobby. Buys a brand-new tank, socks a few hundred dollars into filters and food and water-testing supplies. Eventually spends another 50 dollars on fish.

The odds are some of those fish are diseased, and the most likely culprit is Ich. The fishkeeper buys medication, most of the fish die anyway, the enthusiasm is gone, and the tank goes in the garage or up for sale on Craigslist.

I just can’t believe that, in 2013, the fish we buy can’t be entirely rid of Ich. I’m telling you, Petsmart and PetCo, you might be making money selling a few replacement fish and the medication to cure Ich, but you are ruining potential life-long hobbyists by the THOUSANDS. Figure it out!

Weird fish tank pics with a cell-phone

7 Mar

First I have to tell you that I know almost nothing about my cell-phone and it’s capabilities.  I have an LG phone with the Android operating system. There! Does that sound like cell-phone talk?

Anyway, I have been impressed with the camera on this phone, especially the outdoor pictures.

It’s always a challenge to get good shots of our fish aquariums. I’ve never messed with the camera settings until just a few minutes ago. The first setting I found was called Negative and it resulted in these pictures:


I saw an art exhibit recently and this looks better than some of the stuff hanging on those walls.

I like the Hatchetfish in this one.

I like the Hatchetfish in this one.

The black things are Water Lettuce plants floating on the surface.

The black things are Water Lettuce plants floating on the surface.

Don't the Tiger Barbs look awesome! it looks like an oil well has sprung up in the fish tank.

Don’t the Tiger Barbs look awesome! It looks like an oil well has sprung up in the fish tank.

This was the Sepia setting. Wouldn;t it be fun to set up an old metal frame tank and take pictures of it on this setting?

This was the Sepia setting. Wouldn’t it be fun to set up an old metal frame tank and take pictures of it on this setting?

I only took these 5 pictures and I’m using them all. That never happens.

Curing a sick Angelfish (Hexamita)

7 Mar

Healthy Angelfish. No bumps around the head.


White bumps on both sides of head, one developing into a larger sore.

A month ago I noticed the beginnings of an illness in my female Silver Angelfish. She had white spots or bumps around her head.

I had a Silver Angel pair living in a 55 gallon community tank with large tetras, swordtails, Corydoras catfish and a few other species. I haven’t added any new fish to this tank in a long time so I can’t pinpoint where this disease may have come from.

The female continued to eat and swim around normally. I noticed more white spots all around her head. This was not Ich. The spots were too big and , believe me, I’ve seen Ich before.

I didn’t take any action. She was still eating and swimming strong and I wasn’t sure what it was.

My brother immediately diagnosed it as Heximita, which is the organism that causes Hole-in -the -head disease. I still wasn’t sure.

I did some reading on the Internet about this condition and found several discussions that conclude that the problem is a fungus. A fungus? Now I was confused. It looked like a parasite to me.
I went to our local fish shop. Not Long John Silver’s or Red Lobster, I mean an aquarium store. I showed the owner the photograph that is on this page . She dismissed the idea of Hexamita.  “Discus get Hole-in-the -Head Disease”.  She talked about “pus pockets”.

“Take the fish out and lance the biggest growth, see if it’s pus-filled. Then add some salt to the tank.” I thought the salt sounded like a fair idea and I appreciated her honest opinion. She wasn’t just trying to sell me something.

When I got home the female was dead.  Darn it! I should have done something!

By then the male Silver had acquired this disease. Same thing. Large white spots around the head. No other fish in this tank were sick or dying.

I had to act. I put the male in bucket of water from a non-diseased tank. I have a medication called Clout. It says to use one tablet for 10 gallons of water. The bucket holds about 3 1/2 gallons of water. I dissolved the tablet in a small amount of water and put one-third of it into the bucket with the Angelfish. By the way, I also had a heater and an airstone running in the bucket.


After two days, I changed the water completely and added another third of the solution. Then, after two more days, changed the water again and added the final dose.

I changed the water one final time and waited a few more days. I don’t know what the life-cycle is of this disease. After about 8 days in the bucket I put the big guy back into his tank. He looks fine so far.

Here are two pictures I took of  him a few days ago as soon as the lights were turned on. His stripes were faded but isn’t he a beautiful fish?



I am  increasing the water changes in that 55 gallon tank, trying to give the fish a healthier environment to fight any disease that may be lurking.

My conclusion is that it was Hexamita. Large Cichlids do get this disease, not just Discus.

Here is some info on Clout:

Clout is a tablet fish medication specially formulated for fresh and saltwater aquariums. Helps treat visible parasites and parasitic disease conditions such as: gasping for air, rapid breathing, flicking, listless behavior, and excess mucus production. Provides effective medication for a wide variety of parasitic and protozoan infestations, including:

  • Ich, Hydra, and Leeches
  • Planaria, Epistylis, and Trichodina
  • Hexamita, Tetrahymena, and Body fungus
  • Digenetic flukes, Parasitic copepods, and Monogenetic flukes
  • Learnia (anchor worms) and Argulus (fish lice)

Fun at the fish club

7 Mar

I joined our local fish club!  I’ve gone to two meetings so far.

A typical meeting has a speaker, a fish bowl contest, club news and a raffle. The raffle tickets cost a dollar. You get 2 or 3 tickets for each dollar. I think I spent 3 dollars at the first meeting and 4 at the second meeting.

Let me show you what I won:


These are made with Salmon, Halibut and shrimp.


These high protein pellets  are small enough for many of my fish. They sink to the bottom and are great for the loaches and catfish.


Here’s a nicely designed sponge filter. I can always use a good sponge filter.


Another very good high protein small pellet. Made with shrimp, Sardines and plankton.


When I get more expensive plants I will use these.


I don’t have any cichlids that can swallow these but they are great turtle food.


This item was the last thing on the table. A tiny amount of Betta food and a plastic wand to train your Betta to feed from.
As the lady at the fish club told me: “Marketing .”

I am guessing these items, in total, would cost 25 to 30 dollars at a store. I spent 7 on raffle tickets.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser scrub-pads to clean aquarium glass

7 Mar

We use these scrub-pads in the kitchen. They work great.
My saltwater tank has hard green algae on the glass. I have used a razor blade to remove it, which scratches the glass.

I rinsed out a brand-new Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and it did the best job on my aquarium of any cloth or plastic scrubber I have ever used. 
I also tried it on a partially filled turtle tank. Hard water deposits on the glass look terrible. This scrub-pad did not remove that. (it’s not really magic)



I’ll also throw in this little tip for free:

If you fill your tanks the old-fashioned way, like I do,  it can hard to pour water into a tank that is on a stand underneath another fish tank.  Let’s say you siphon out 4 gallons of old, cruddy water and want to fill the tank back up. Just put 4 gallons (not five!!)  of new water above the water level of the tank. Start a siphon and forget about it.


Water Lettuce in the aquarium

7 Mar

Water Lettuce is a plant normally grown in outdoor ponds. I brought some indoors 2 years ago. At first the plants exploded in growth, multiplying like a weed.  But, over time, these plants got smaller and their reproduction slowed.

Eventually I was left with thumbnail-size Water Lettuce plants. Outdoors they can be 4 or 5 inches across.

A few months ago I moved some of these weakling plants into a half-filled 55 gallon tank. I keep this tank half-filled because I don’t totally trust the stand that the tank is on.


At first there were about 20 little plants.


In a few weeks I had 40 plants.


A few weeks later I had 80 plants. I gave my brother 20 of them. Now there are way over 100 plants, probably close to 150.

I have a 48″ fluorescent light fixture over this tank with 2 forty watt bulbs. These bulbs are new and bright but are just cheap bulbs like you would have in a basement or garage.

I have read that Water lettuce does not like too much humidity but this tank is sealed tight and it is very humid above the water line. Below the water line it is even more humid.

Spring is coming and I have a head start on my pond plants. I’ll be able to put 100 of these outdoors as soon as it is warm enough.