Tag Archives: Aquarium

Saving Baby Swordtails with the Aqua-Nursery

26 Mar

I love my Velvet Red Swordtails and want to have some more of them. They look great in the pond or aquarium and they are very popular if I want to sell a few or give them away.

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The problem is this: Momma Swordtails will eat many of their own babies as soon as they are born. I’ve always kept the mother in a densely planted tank and then removed her as soon as possible after giving birth. That works pretty well, but there’s another way to do it.

Here it is, the Penn-Plex Aqua-Nursery. I ordered it online through Kensfish.com. It cost $8.25.

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It’s a variation on the old “breeder-trap” idea. A breeder trap is a slotted plastic box. The mother has the babies and the babies fall out of slots in the bottom and they swim away into the main tank. That’s fine most of the time but I want to get some babies, then put another mom into the trap and have the option of where I want to put the babies. Anyway, you’ll see how it works and see if it would help you keep some baby fish.

I hung the Aqua-Nursery on the side of a 10-gallon tank. You have to attach an airline to the bottom of the nursery. This serves two purposes. One, it keeps water flowing through the nursery, which is nice, and secondly, the air causes water to be drawn from the mother’s section to a little baby section. The babies get gently sucked into their own little compartment. So clever!!

Of my 4 adult female Red Swords, none looked very pregnant, but I selected one last night. I took about 20 minutes to acclimate her to the water, just like bringing a fish home from the store.

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And, amazingly, she had babies during the night. I was surprised it happened so fast. The compartment for the mom is quite small for a Swordtail. The Aqua-Nursery is better suited for Mollies, Guppies, and Platies. But if the female Sword is ready to pop I think it’s OK.

Here are some of the babies that went from the Mom section to the kids section.

Here are some of the babies that went from the Mom section to the Kids section. Half of the babies were in their own section, the other half were safely below the mother.

The bay section can be removed and then you can put them wherever you want.

The baby section can be removed and then you can put them wherever you want.

If you want the babies to go right into the aquarium just leave the baby section off completely. The airline still helps keep the mother's water circulating.

If you want the babies to go right into the aquarium just leave the baby section off completely. The airline still helps keep the mother’s water circulating.

I started a fresh batch of Brine Shrimp to feed the babies in a few days. Live baby Brine Shrimp isn’t needed to raise livebearers but they love it.

Note I have this sitting on a fluorescent light fixture to keep it warm and speed the hatching. Also notice the cover to prevent a salty spray from getting onto the lights.

Note I have the Brine Shrimp on a fluorescent light fixture to keep it warm and speed the hatching. Also notice the cover to prevent a salty spray from getting onto the lights.

The Aqua-Nursery worked pretty well. It’s an ingenius little device.

I think the manufacturer is implying that you can keep all the babies and raise them in the little nursery section. I don’t think it’s big enough to do that BUT it is big enough to keep maybe 10 babies and raise them a few weeks until, hopefully,  the other fish in your tank won’t eat them. Like I say, it best suited for small livebearers like Guppies and Platies.

Remember you need an airline attached to make the nursery work properly.

So good luck to you if you want to raise some baby fish! If you save just a few every once in awhile you can have a never-ending supply for your aquarium. A big plus is you can avoid the disease issues that happen when you buy from those big stores (they know who they are, I’ll be nice today).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lawnmower Blenny report…and more.

1 Mar

I’ve had the Lawnmower Blenny in my saltwater tank for about 3 weeks now. He’s doing well. He’s fun to watch, he perches high on the rocks and coral like a bird surveying his domain. He’s a great little fish, but…well, the truth is, he is not making a dent in the algae.

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He picks at it, but I never see him really grab a chunk and just EAT it. It’s pick, pick pick, but the algae in my tank appears the same. Buy one, but don’t expect miracles.

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Last week, in a shocking turn of events, my two Ocellaris Clownfish began attacking my Green-Spotted Puffer. The Clowns were relentless. They have always dominated the Puffer but suddenly they were really trying to kill him. I haven’t noticed any spawning behavior from the Clowns that would make them so vicious. After 3 days of this I had to remove the Puffer. He’s in a smaller tank for now, and I am adding some freshwater to his tank every day to make it brackish. (salty but not saltwater)

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Since the Puffer is no longer in the salt tank I realized that I can add snails for algae control. We have a Petco nearby and I bought 3 Turbo Snails at $3 each. I took 5 hours to transition them to my tank conditions and they are doing well.

CAM02716They are not traveling much but they don’t have to. The bottom is literally a bed of food for them.

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Now the sad part of the story. I also bought a little Blue Damselfish. When I first set up this aquarium, over 6 years ago, the first fish I bought was a little Blue Damsel. He got along great with these two Clownfish and the Royal Gramma, who are, as I always say, over 6 years old.

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That original Damsel lived over two years and I believe he died of old age. He didn’t die suddenly, he deteriorated over a period of many weeks. I mention all of this because I was so hopeful that another Blue Damsel could live in this tank. The splash of Electric Blue would make this tank PERFECT.

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At first, the Damsel stood up to the Clowns. But on Day Two the Damsel was in hiding. I fed a big dose of baby brine shrimp into the tank to make sure he could eat without coming out. I expected him to hide a few days and learn how to cope but on Day Three I found him dead. Quick as that. I have to ponder whether I will try it again. Did the Clowns actually kill the Damsel? Or was the shock of going from the wild to the store to my tank too much? I just can’t stand knowing all that fish went through only to die in the middle of Iowa in a 42 gallon fish tank. This just haunts me.

Fish and reptile books that I treasure

4 Dec

When I need a quick answer to a fishy question I go right to the Internet. It’s amazing and it’s wonderful but I still love to look at my old books. I’ve had some of these since I was a little kid.

These are my favorites:

Let's put Mr. Innes' book right where it belongs...at the top.

Let’s put Mr. Innes’ book right where it belongs…at the top.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the pronunciation key for scientific names. A lot of the names are outdated but you learn how to say those big Latin words.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the pronunciation key for scientific names. A lot of the names are outdated but you learn how to say those big Latin words.

At 13 years of age I checked this book out 7 times in one year. No, I didn't steal this one from my school! It was a thrill to find this library discard on Ebay.

At 13 years of age I checked this book out 7 times from our Junior High library. No, I didn’t steal this one from my school! It was a thrill to find this library discard on Ebay.

Famous names in the Discus world. Axelrod, Schultz and Wattley.

Famous names in the Discus world. Axelrod, Schultz and Wattley.

A classic reptile book that proves even a reptile book can be politically incorrect.

A classic that proves even a reptile book can be politically incorrect. This copy is from 1936.

But I love the inscription inside, from Edwin S. Cieslek to Jan "

But I love the inscription inside, from Edwin S. Cieslak. ” To Jan, to encourage him in the pursuit of science “

We all loved these Golden Guides by Herbert Zim, right?

We all loved these Golden Guides by Herbert Zim, right?

A classic by Carl Kauffeld. I bought it for 8 bucks some years ago. I remember reading about the Trans-Pecos Rat Snake when I was teenager.

A classic by Carl Kauffeld. I bought it for 8 bucks some years ago. I remember reading the chapter about the Trans-Pecos Rat Snake when I was teenager.

I bought this last year for maybe 50 cents at a city-wide garage sale. There was a worn sheet of lined paper inside with a 4 line poem titled Suicide. I wish I could hand that paper back to the person who wrote and say " Hey, you made it, you're fine, hang in there."

I bought this last year for maybe 50 cents at a city-wide garage sale. There was a worn sheet of lined paper inside with a 4 line poem titled Suicide. I wish I could hand that paper back to the person who wrote it and say ” Hey, you made it, you’re fine, hang in there.”

These are two actual books I have had nearly my entire life. I used to stare and the pictures and imagine having those creatures as pets.

These are two actual books I have had nearly my entire life. I used to stare at the pictures and imagine having those creatures as pets.

Here's a modern book that I highly recommend by Frank Indiviglio.

Here’s a modern book that I highly recommend by Frank Indiviglio.

Here's abook I saw in Florida in 1973 and finally found it online and bought it about 30 years later. Most of the book is ridiculous, and I used to dream of owning this book!!!!

Here’s a book I saw in Florida in 1973 and finally found it online and bought it about 30 years later. Most of the book is ridiculous, and I used to dream of owning it!!!!

From 1974, a copy of The Plecostomus, the newsletter of the Black Hawk Aquarium Society, headquartered in the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois.

From 1974, a copy of The Plecostomus, the newsletter of the Black Hawk Aquarium Society, headquartered in the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois.

Imagine the work to create this every month. the artwork, the printing, the copying, the stapling, the research. Amazing.

Imagine the work to create this every month. The artwork, the typing, the printing,  the stapling, the research. Amazing.

Every fish owner had this book, by Axelrod and Schultz.

Every fish owner had this book, by Axelrod and Schultz.

As a teenager I would go to the local library and special order International Zoo Yearbooks. These yearly books are very expensive, written by zookeepers for other zookeepers. 40 years ago I filled a notebook with handwritten copies of the articles I wanted, like this one about Iguanas at the Dallas Zoo.

As a teenager I would go to the local library and special order International Zoo Yearbooks. These yearly books are very expensive, written by zookeepers for other zookeepers. 40 years ago I filled a notebook with handwritten copies of the articles I wanted, like this one about Iguanas at the Dallas Zoo.

I must have thought I would own a Tuatara someday.

I must have thought I would own a Tuatara someday.

A stack of magazines from 1969-1970. A British fishkeeping magazine that is still going today! And i named my blog before I ever heard of them...so there!

A stack of magazines from 1969-1970. A British fish-keeping magazine that is still going today! And I named my blog before I ever heard of them…so there!

Pictus Catfish are jumpers

4 Dec

Be careful with the Pictus Catfish, they are very active fish and can jump out of the tank.
A few months ago I came home and was looking at a tank that has a group of young Jack Dempseys. Suddenly I saw one of my Pictus Catfish swimming in that tank! He had leaped out of his tank through a small gap, cleared a few inches of space and went into the neighboring tank. A lucky fish.

Eventually I found a dried-up Pictus Catfish on the floor. So now I only have two.

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Transferring Mr. Pictus back to his original tank. By the way, when catching Pictus Catfish try not to use a net. You can “herd” them with a net, then try to catch them in a big plastic cup or suitable container. The spines get caught in nets. Bad for the fish and maybe bad for you!

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I face their wood hideout to the front of the aquarium so I can watch them.

I brought in some water lilies and also dropped in a handful of washed, dead Oak tree leaves. I think the Pictus appreciate the natural hiding places.

I brought in some water lilies and also dropped in a handful of washed, dead Oak tree leaves. I think the Pictus appreciate the natural hiding places.

The Oak leaves look good in the Tiger Salamander tank. They help keep the tank moist and make it so I never ever get to see the salamanders.

Oak leaves also look good in the Tiger Salamander tank. They help keep the tank moist and make it so I never ever get to see the salamanders.

Water Lettuce and Water Hyacinth in the Turtle Pond

4 Dec

The first 3 years that I had my turtle pond I couldn’t keep any live plants in the water. The turtles (Red-eared Sliders) annihilate everything.
This year, I came up with a strategy that seems to work:
I start by having Water Lettuce growing in my aquariums during the Winter.

Indoors, the Water Lettuce plant stays small under average lighting.

Indoors, the Water Lettuce plant stays small under average lighting.

I have not had any luck growing Water Hyacinth indoors. It must require much stronger light than I have.

Once Spring comes, I put a bunch of little Water Lettuce plants outside in the shade to acclimate it to the Sun.

Once Spring comes, I put a bunch of little Water Lettuce plants outside in the shade to acclimate it to the Sun. I leave them in the shade for at least a week and bring them indoors if it gets very cold.

Little Water Lettuce in the small pond. SEE THE FROG!

Then, into the small pond. SEE THE FROG!

It grows like mad and covers the little pond.

It grows like mad and covers the little pond.

The Water Lettuce gets bigger. See the frog again?

The Water Lettuce gets bigger. See the frog again?

I start putting Water Lettuce into the turtle pond. I also acquired some Water Hyacinth from a pond keeper nearby.

I start putting Water Lettuce into the turtle pond. I also acquired some Water Hyacinth from a pond keeper nearby.

The turtles proceed to eat the plants, mostly the Water Hyacinth.

The turtles proceed to eat the plants, mostly the Water Hyacinth.

But the 30 gallon pond keeps supplying me with Lettuce and Hyacinths and I begin to win the war.

But the 30 gallon pond keeps supplying me with Lettuce and Hyacinths and I begin to win the war.

The Water Lettuce gets gigantic outdoors. The turtles start to get sick of eating it!

The Water Lettuce gets gigantic outdoors. The turtles start to get sick of eating it!

But they LOVE the Water Hyacinth.

But they LOVE the Water Hyacinth.

The pond stays so much clearer with lots of plants to shade the water and filter it.

The pond stays so much clearer with lots of plants to shade the water and filter it.

It was so hot and dry we even had a toad living in the pond.

It was so hot and dry we even had a toad living in the pond.

I take some medium sized plants indoors and , before you know it, I am giving them away for aquarium use or even throwing them away.

Before Winter I take some medium sized plants indoors. They soon spread over the surface of the aquarium.

Before you know it, I am giving them away for aquarium use or even throwing them away.

Before you know it, I am giving them away for aquarium use or even throwing them away.

The Gold Barb ( Puntius semifasciolatus )

3 Dec

I bought a group of young Gold Barbs at the Fish Club. At the time I didn’t know how many I had purchased. It turns out I have 16 of them! They sold them cheap, it probably worked out to less than 50 cents per fish.

They’ve grown a lot these past few months and I have to say they are a terrific fish. I think they are so happy because I have them in a school. It makes me wonder how many Barbs school together in the wild. Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? And we put them in tanks, maybe two or three at a time, sometimes all alone!!

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While other fish cruise around the upper levels, the Gold Barb tends to hang around the lower third of the tank.

Gold Barbs are only about 2 inches long. They are sharing their tank with some young Angelfish.

Gold Barbs are only about 2 inches long. These are sharing their tank with some young Angelfish.

When you can, buy schooling fish in schools! We all have a tendency to buy 2 of everything. Believe me,  I have done it.

If you are setting up a tank to make a visual impact the way to do it is not with 40 fish of 20 different species but with, let’s say, 35 fish of one species and a few pairs or loners of other kinds.

The most beautiful planted aquariums in the world ALWAYS have large schools of fish, like Cardinal Tetras or Rummy-nosed Tetras, or Congo tetras. The possibilities are endless.

Well, anyway, don’t forget the Gold Barb. I’m glad to have gotten my little school of them.

Another tank! Bigger is better.

17 Oct

CAM01690I bought a used 42-gallon glass bowfront tank for my Saltwater fish.

CAM00069I set the tank in front of the old one, trying to see how it would look. The stand is nice but it was nicked-up and it was too much wood for our living room.

CAM00070The old tank was 37 gallons. This tank has more “floor-space” which is most useful to fish instead of height.

CAM01097So I went to work….OK OK a little lie there…my wife went to work. She is very talented when it comes to painting and refinishing. First she sanded the stand.

CAM01098Then she cleaned it.

CAM01102And painted it. Now this makes it look easy, but she spends a lot of time and makes it perfect.

CAM01105Hmmm, much better!

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Cloudy water for one day.

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Just needed a background, so I got to work…

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…I mean , my wife made the background.  Jeesh, what is this, the Spanish Inquisition?

In a few months I will have had my 2 Clownfish and one Royal Gramma for 6 years!  A Green-Spotted Puffer lives with them, too.