Archive | April, 2016

The perfect beginner’s aquarium

30 Apr

Here is a recipe for the perfect beginner’s aquarium:

Get the basics. The tank, a light, a small heater, a filter. Decorate it how you want.


Get some Platies. Just a couple to begin. Do not get tetras, angelfish, catfish, bettas or anything else. This tank is to guarantee success. If you are setting up a tank for your kids, buy goldfish and watch them pollute the tank and die. Buy tetras and watch them die from poor water quality. But if you want your kids to enjoy their first tank BUY PLATIES.


Yes I know, that’s a Red Swordtail with the Platies!

Now here is the secret. Add a small amount of salt to the water. I would use salt that is made for a marine aquarium but you can use any non-iodized salt. For a ten-gallon aquarium use a couple of teaspoons for the entire tank. It’s not much salt. The reason for the salt is to suppress diseases like Ich and Fungus, etc.

After a few months and the tank is stable, add more Platies. Or maybe you won’t have to, your Platies might be making babies by then.


Do regular water changes. Change 25% of the water at least once a month. Once you are done adding new Platies discontinue the salt addition. If your tank is disease free you don’t need it. As you do regular water changes you’ll eventually have salt-free water.

You will be tempted to add Neon Tetras and Tiger Barbs and all that. DON’T DO IT! Look at all the color variation in Platies. Yellow, orange, red, black, blue, hi-fin, spotted, speckled.


A few months ago I put about 8 platies in a 10-gallon tank. In the morning when I turn on the lights I see babies. I scoop them out and now I have about 70 of all types and colors. Soon I’ll put them outside in a little pond. Once they are an inch long I’ll probably take them to the fish club meeting and give them away.


If you got Platies from me you wouldn’t need the salt at all! The whole idea is to avoid the diseases that come from store-bought fish which leads to all those aquariums being sold on Craigslist.


A 2 inch fish swimming along with 4 inches of poop makes for educational conversation with the kids.

Final note: This same idea will work with Mollies and Guppies.


How to spawn Gold Barbs

30 Apr

How to spawn Gold barbs.

Do nothing.

That’s it, thanks for viewing my blog!



I put a pair of Gold barbs into a 10 gallon tank thinking that I would separate them at some point, feed them some good foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp, then put them back together, hope they spawn, then deal with raising microscopic fish fry.

I have about 10 Gold barbs. I picked out the biggest, roundest female. A male is usually thinner but also, when healthy and in breeding condition, gets orange-colored along his belly. Note the orange-bellied male in the picture above. (the fish on the left)

In the 10 gallon tank I put handfuls of plants. An Amazon Sword just floating around. Some Hornwort. Some Red Ludwegia. Some hair algae also developed.

I made a water change one day and spotted a baby Gold Barb! I soon had caught seven babies. Last week I did this again and caught 6 or 7 more! I placed them in a 10 gallon tank with some Platy babies.


What’s nice about this is that I didn’t do a darn thing. No raising infusoria or brine shrimp. I do have several cultures of microworms going and I feed that to the barbs a few times a week. I’m sure the babies benefited from that.

I really like the Gold Barbs. Peaceful, always active, always hungry.




A new tortoise pen

30 Apr

Here’s a quick photo summary of the tortoise pen I built yesterday.


I used 2″ x 10″ boards.


I used 2″x 4″s for the top. I stapled the wire to the bottom of the boards. The white plastic ties are only there because I used the wire that I had, which was in two pieces, instead of buying a single piece. Cheap cheap cheap, that’s me.


Two hinges on the back.


A latch on the front. I probably don’t need to lock it. I’m not aware of any turtle thieves running around but, my Red-foot Tortoise is worth $200 and if she were taken it would likely be bad for her.


Now we’re getting fancy. A handle on the front. Cost me $1.99


I bought a bag of Cypress Mulch (three bucks) and the sun came out for an hour so…


…the tortoises got to come out to eat and sunbathe. I get these organic dandelions from my neighbors yard (thanks NW). He says he grows them just for me!


But it’s still too chilly in Iowa so I took them indoors for the rainy days to come. If this Red-foot keeps growing I’ll be building a bigger pen before too long.

The important point to make is this: If you have a tortoise try to take it outside when you can. Even if you have UV lights, I believe nothing is like the real thing. A sluggish tortoise will totally perk up when exposed to natural sunshine. Even a few hours per week will do wonders.┬áSame for some popular lizards, like Iguanas and Bearded Dragons. Remember to provide shade and water if it’s hot outside. My Red-eared Sliders spend the summer in a pond but if you can get yours out in a swimming pool (not a chlorinated pool for humans, I mean a small kiddie pool) once in a while they will love it.

One more thought. My previous tortoise pen had wire buried underneath the entire thing to prevent burrowing out. I never saw any indication that mine were ever close to digging all the way out. Therefore, I did not add wire to this set-up. So consider that, depending on your tortoise. All tortoises dig and burrow. Mine nestle in the mulch and then only dig down an inch or so. They are lazy, even by tortoise standards.