Tag Archives: fish tank

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 A lot of the names are outdated but you learn how to say those big Latin words.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 A lot of the names are outdated but you learn how to say those big Latin words.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.

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.

Water Sprite takes over the world!

17 Oct

A few months ago I found a thumbnail-sized plant floating in one of my aquariums. I still don’t know where it came from, I hadn’t bought any plants for a long time.

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It was a little Water Sprite plant. I hoped it would grow, expecting it to get maybe 3 or 4 inches across.

It grew…

CAM01438…and grew…

CAM01419…and grew.

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Eventually, it started reaching out of the aquarium. It’s leaves take a different fern-like form when they are above water.

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This thing is crawling out to get me! Help!!!!

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The main plant covers half of a 55 gallon tank. It’s 24 inches across!!

Also, the plant forms baby plants along the big stems and I have many Water Sprite plants now and have given some away.

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The Water Sprite can float or be be planted in the gravel. It’s leaves are soft and the snails will eat some of it. I crush the snails and that makes my Angelfish and Swordtails very happy.

CAM01596If you look up Water Sprite on the Internet you will mainly see reference to a fine-leaved variety of plant called Ceratopteris thalictroides. I believe my plant, I mean PLANTS, are Ceratopteris cornuta, which is the broad-leafed Water Sprite, even though it sounds like a dinosaur.  I think both varieties of Water Sprite take the same care: Water, light, fish poop.

PVC pipe for Angelfish spawning

17 Oct
The male Silver Angel.

The male Silver Angel.

Pieces of flat slate rock have been the standard surface to use when spawning Angelfish. I came across some short pieces of PVC pipe and, as you can see, my Angelfish pair laid their eggs on it. It only took about 2 days for them to become very interested in the PVC as a spawning site. Place it at an Angel, I mean angle, like you see in the photo.

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Here's the mom.

Here’s the mom.

At first I gave this pair the opportunity to raise the babies, but that didn’t work. The next time they spawned I removed the eggs and PVC and laid it on it’s side in a shallow tank with a heater and aeration.

Then I added Hydrogen Peroxide drops as an anti-fungal agent. I used about 3 milliliters per 2 gallons. As you can see, I also attached a”T” piece of PVC to the tube to prevent the PVC from rolling on it’s side and crushing the eggs and babies.

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The babies hatch and spend a few days on the bottom of the tank.

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 The baby Angles, I mean Angels, grew fast on baby Brine Shrimp and Banana Worms. Now they are eating crushed flake food as well. I have been using Earthworm flakes because it’s a high-protein food.

CAM01241CAM01460CAM01512Angels will lay their eggs wherever they can, but using a flat rock or PVC allows you to remove it and raise the babies.  A sturdy plastic plant with big leaves makes a good site, too. I have seen Angel eggs on heater tubes and the side of the aquarium.

Eggs laid on a branch.

Eggs laid on a branch.

Get into shape. Buy a fish tank!

9 May

We’ve all seen those articles that claim having a fish tank is good for our mental well-being. The serenity, the calm, the interaction with nature.

What a load of CRAP!

Having a fish tank means always having something to worry about. Diseases like fin rot, and fungus, and especially ICH. Fish that fight, fish that devour their own babies!! Tanks that leak, heaters that stick in the ON position and COOK your fish.  $20 fish that jump out of your $500 tank. The kids putting cookies in the tank.

This hobby is a nightmare, and if you sit in front of the tank eating cookies or drinking beer it also ruins your physical health. My blood pressure goes up every time I see a fish!

I can’t help you with the mental stress of owning a fish tank but I do have some ways to improve your physical fitness.

First, don’t just sit there and stare at your fish like a zombie.  Place your dusty old exercise bike in front of the aquarium. Start out nice and easy. Soon, your legs will get stronger, your stamina will improve and you may actually go outside and ride a real bike someday.

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While you are on the exercise bike, you can ponder your aquarium and it’s inhabitants. You’ll think of ways to hook the bike up to your fish tank lights. Free energy!  Don’t hook the bike up to the air pumps, your fish shouldn’t depend on your lazy butt just to breathe.

To build strength, do a lot of water changes in your tank. Every week, drain out 20 percent of the water and refill it with clean fresh water. Don’t use some fancy-schmantzy automatic water changing device. Just use buckets of water and a short hose. The further you are from the drain, the better.

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A bucket of water weighs about 35 pounds. Don’t forget to alternate your bucket-lifting arm. You don’t want to start walking lop-sided. For those of you who want a more intense workout, carry the bucket outdoors and water your plants and trees. The best water for houseplants comes from your aquarium.

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Eventually, you may attempt a feat of Olympian strength that is known to fishkeepers world-wide.  This “event” requires you to remove a newly acquired 55  gallon (approx. 210 liter) aquarium from the backseat of your car, wrap your arms around it, lean against the back door of your home, quietly open the…dammit, the keys are in your pocket! Hunch down, support the tank on your knees, fish (ha ha, a pun) into your pants for the house-key. Now, QUIETLY, stealthily, tiptoe into the house, and quickly, like a cat, carry the tank into the basement. Even though you have the urge to gasp and groan, remain silent. If your spouse calls from another room  you must calmly reply, using short words like “Yes!” and “Fine!”.

Then, very importantly,  hide the tank! The best way to hide an aquarium is to tuck it BEHIND other unused fish tanks. Camouflage, as it were. This step may involve moving several tanks, buckets, wooden and/or metal stands. Once this is accomplished, you can collapse into a chair or onto the floor.

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It is recommended that you start practicing this phrase immediately:

“That big tank behind there? I’ve ALWAYS had that tank!”