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Welcome, Guest. Please login or register. October 18, 2008, 01:25:31 PM

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     The Dead Fish Scrolls 1 Comments | Rating:

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Contents Intro

Fish Food

Marine

Research

Water change

Skimmers

Philosophy

Cleaning the tank

DIY

Setting up

Breeding fish

Problem prevention

Heaters

Catching fish

Fish Problem

pH

Malawi cichlids

Fun

Nitrogen cycle

Plants and Algae

Rules

Buying fish and equipment

Snails

Goodbye!

Fish tips

Filters

And Credits

Intro G’day! My names Donny, you may know me here as 'Dead Fish Floating'. I have kept fish for a while now. At first I found them tricky. This was hard as I like fish and I don’t like seeing them die. But bit by bit I started having more and more success. Eventually I began breeding more than I killed. This made me VERY happy. So happy infact that I told everyone. It was not long before I had infiltrated fish tanks into most of my friend’s houses. It was also not long before people started to try to change the topic of conversation away from fish. The problem of course is that keeping fish is such a huge varied topic that it was easy to get the conversation back on track. Eventually I got a job in a pet shop. I truly loved this job and soon had some great customers that drove me to learn more and more. My boss Kim encouraged my fish fixation and I began to interact with the many parts of the aquarium industry. No day ever passed without me learning something new. I began to understand almost everyone keeps fish and they all have unique experiences and techniques. My favorite part of the job however was passing on those things that I had learnt that worked to new fish keepers. I didn’t want them to experience my stuff ups and perhaps get put off the hobby before I had the chance to get them hooked. I certainly didn’t want them killing any of my beautiful fish they bought! This however meant a lot of talking. I like to talk, so that was no problem…. for me! In some cases though people would suffer an information overload and barely be able to remember how to turn their car on or the way back http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html home. As my main plan was to build up every betta or goldfish customer until they had a full reef tank in their Page 1 house I had to learn how to drip feed them information. Not easy on a slow day when you’re doing anything to stay out of the dog and cat area that needs a clean.

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chance to get them hooked. I certainly didn’t want them killing any of my beautiful fish they bought! This however meant a lot of talking. I like to talk, so that was no problem…. for me! In some cases though people would suffer an information overload and barely be able to remember how to turn their car on or the way back home. As my main plan was to build up every betta or goldfish customer until they had a full reef tank in their house I had to learn how to drip feed them information. Not easy on a slow day when you’re doing anything to stay out of the dog and cat area that needs a clean. At the moment I work on a building site. So talking about fish is not part of my working day. However I still manage to hook the odd person after showing them my aquariums. A little while back while trying to cram a decades worth of fish data into some ones head in an afternoon, I thought why not try write some of this down. You know save yourself repeating it all at lightning speed before they manage to chew through their arm and escape. So I started writing this. It’s not meant to be all you ever need to know about fish. It’s more just a few things that I think might help you keep your fish alive. I have nothing to sell you and no reason to lie. I’m sure I have made mistakes; I am after all just a monkey. If however, you struggle through this and one less fish dies because of that it will have all been worth it. The art of keeping fish out of their waterways, is an ancient one. Many a fish has died, and many a lesson learnt. The secrets, are all really common sense. I hope I can explain a few of them here, and inspire you to find out more. The more you know, the more you will understand. Once you understand, difficult things become easy, easy things become cheap and rules become vague guidelines. To be successful with fish you only need a few things. Dechlorinator, test kits, the internet, patience, manners and common sense. Most days you will be lacking in one of these ingredients. That’s ok, just try to alternate which one it is and it should all even out in the end. I have tried to write this as a flowing read, but I realise its a lot to take in at once. While the contents section will be handy to jump around to points of interest, to get the full value I do reccomend you read it all. For now though, enough intro. Let’s jump into this beast!

Research All the best aquariums start with research and so should yours! Google.com knows more about fish than anyone else, EVER! You just have to know the right question to ask. One of the best ways to begin a new tank is to search for experiences others had doing it. Research filter models, wild water conditions and common problems. Google has united the fish keeping community and their data in a way no club or newsletter has before. Combined with test kits, electricity and de-chlorinator, Google gives the modern fish keeper several hundred times the fish keeping firepower of the 18th century aquarist. The google language tools can be used to translate foreign websites into almost readable gibberish. You can get the gist anyway. This opens up much of the fishweb previously closed to English only speakers. Using the ‘group’ searches will often find personal experiences with species. While the ‘scholar’ searches may find more scientific references. Searching for aquaponics or aquaculture and your topic can also yield less obvious information to the hobbyist aquarist. For example if you keep native Australian species check the DPI site out for aquaculture data on them. Find forums populated with people who would know the answer you seek, and see if you can get it in the simple ‘what do I do?’ format using flattery and manners. Unless it’s an emergency it is worth lurking for a bit and checking your answer has not been given a thousand times already. A search through the forum archives first for your ‘unique’ thoughts is often a good idea. People can put ideas to hundreds of peers on forums. Ideas can jump across several forums in a day and change the way the world keeps fish. So many people thinking about an idea from so many different angles results in many problems being solved by very simple clever means. Some forums can quickly descend into flame war central if you offend the wrong crazy. Be nice, get in, get ya answer and get out if it looks like its all going to get a bit manic. Plenty of more important things in life to enjoy than getting trapped in circular arguments with trolls. Don’t waste time feeding them, just ignore. Sometimes they may have a good reason to tell you off however, and there’s nothing like a run in with the tang police on a dark and stormy night to put you in your place. So research your own questions as well as others advice. Some people may know a hell of a lot about fish but their job may be to sell you a certain product anyway. So look for yourself. EVERY aquarium problem is a breeze to solve the SECOND time around. You pick up chicks flaunting your skill second time round! All those times you read about a problem before you face it personally and then manage to avert your fishes suffering when you finally do face it, those are the victories you should be proud of. For this reason alone make Google your friend. While there are many free monthly high quality internet aquarium magazines. You should never be afraid to buy a book instead of a fish. A good fish book can not only teach but inspire you to create ever more impressive fish tanks. They are also handy to have on hand near the tank. Google may have more pictures but it's kinda tricky to run between rooms all the time. Do a search on the net, find the guru with the fish you keep and buy their book. It saves a lot of looking elsewhere. But never completely rely on one source of information, things change in the fish world and methods can become almost obsolete. That’s life, buy a good fish book anyway. It will make you a better fish keeper. The sheer amount of random fish data a n00b faces when starting this hobby is obscene. Let me add to this carnage with some random things to consider while you are in the research phase. That is after all what fish keeping friends are for! You are a legend and should treat yourself. Buy the largest aquarium you can afford. This prevents having to upgrade later, a double expense few need. I would say though that while smaller marine aquariums are usually a bit trickier to keep stable they are a lot cheaper. My advice would be to start large with freshwater because large tanks are cheap enough and a lot easier. I’d start small with salt water and work out what you would like in a larger tank while learning the ropes with a smaller less expensive one. Work hard to under stock smaller marine tanks. Less is often more. The lessons you learn with a smaller tank help ensure you won’t suffer the large scale drama of an epic reef wipe out. Marine tanks are easy, they are also easy to stuff up making beginner mistakes! So big tanks are easier, but it’s less painful to learn lessons in smaller tanks. Some fish come from water like a cup of tea, it is stained with tannins from leaves and wood and is acidic. Some fish come from water like mineral water, there is lots of dissolved minerals and it is alkaline. Others come from creeks swollen with rain that are filled with neutral/slightly acidic rainwater. Then of course there are marine fish. Not many fish are at home in all of these different water types and some are very specific about the water they will survive in. These waters exert different osmotic pressures on fish and often take thousands or millions of year to adapt to. Fish will be happiest in the water they evolved in and it is the very first step in creating a bio-type aquarium. The rest comes with ornaments, plants and fish from that area. Barbs and 'barb shaped tetra' will nip betta, guppy and fancy goldfish fins. Fish like silver dollars, scats, goby and puffers are also known fin nippers. Fighter fish will attack fish with big fins, mistaking them for other fighter fish. Fighters may also attack and kill other fish trying to get them out of their territory or to eat them. Sometimes the reason fighter fish are kept separate from other fish is they have been raised separate to other fish and have no resistance to any diseases they are carrying. Fish like Oscars are a BIG commitment. They need big tanks, lots of food and lots of water changes/filter cleans. It's like getting a dog. Don't buy one if it's going to live its entire live in a 2 foot tank. Really try to know exactly how big any fish will grow before buying it. Try hard not to impulse buy without double checking, salesmen sell http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Page 2 / stuff, it's what they do. Make a serious effort to only buy fish that will be happy in your aquarium as full size adults. This will save serious physical effort water changing the tank every other day. The salesman is just happy

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resistance to any diseases they are carrying. Fish like Oscars are a BIG commitment. They need big tanks, lots of food and lots of water changes/filter cleans. It's like getting a dog. Don't buy one if it's going to live its entire live in a 2 foot tank. Really try to know exactly how big any fish will grow before buying it. Try hard not to impulse buy without double checking, salesmen sell stuff, it's what they do. Make a serious effort to only buy fish that will be happy in your aquarium as full size adults. This will save serious physical effort water changing the tank every other day. The salesman is just happy he no longer has to water change the thing. Keep little fish in big tanks and they will act more natural. Place tanks with timid fish away from the busiest spots in your house. The fish will hide less. Keep schooling fish like clown loaches, mono’s, silver dollars and silver sharks in large groups, they will hide less. Some times all that’s needed is one or 2 fish swimming around for the rest to feel that all is well and come out of hiding. Only 1 school of 1 schooling species per tank is a technique than can create good looking community fish displays. Having fish of too many species creates a jumbled look. Keeping fish that occupy the top, middle and bottom layers of the tank gives a busy looking aquarium. Most catfish only tanks appear empty most of the time. Get your power bill; write down your filters and pumps that run 24/7. It's important for filters to run all (24 hours!) day. They are you fishes life support system. Anyway write down what draws what watt wise. Look at the bill and see how much a unit of electricity is in watts and how much it costs. From this info you can see how much it costs a day/month/year to run equipment. Some more expensive to purchase equipment may be more efficient. For things like big pond pumps, these simple sums can save you hundreds of dollars over a year. 1 Central air pump is very efficient as are many sumped systems. Not being a fan of maths I type ‘’electricity calculator’ into Google and use premade power calculators to check just how much everything is costing to run. Then I get drunk, erase that file from memory and continue in a blissfully ignorant way to do the same thing. You can often find power details of equipment with a quick Google if you know the brand and model name. Working out what they cost to run is a good thing to consider before just buying. You may have to spend now to save later. The more you can learn about how others keep fish the better you yourself will be able to keep them. I am sure there will be some things here you will disagree on, and maybe you are right. Forums are a good place to discuss a subject in detail. I am self taught myself, and make no claim to know all. I have learnt a lot from others in the hobby, the trade and on the internet. My advice is however just that, the advice of one man. End of the day it’s your aquarium! And with that it’s time to leave research and move onto philosophy. As a tank god it is imperative you stay sane to prevent Nero style purges. I am probably not the best person to discuss this subject but I’m going have a bash at it anyway!

Philosophy Many people burn out with fish, often taking a break is all you need. Try to find what you don't enjoy about fish keeping and then aim to make that painless. If its water changes try rig up an auto water change system, if you need to feed too often get larger fish that can go a few days between feeds. Keep a tank that matches your laziness level. Buy a nitrate test kit and work out how often you need to water change to dilute nitrates below 20ppm. Complicated planted, breeding or reef setups do take time and daily tinkering. Tanks are also a pain to move. It can be easier to just sell your tanks and buy new ones if you are moving far away. A few boxes of fish are easier than a display tank and stand. Worst case is a wipeout situation but keep in mind that the fish keepers you have met on your wacky venture through fish keeper land will often be happy to give you a few fish to help ya restock. No one likes to see a comrade leave the hobby. The most important thing with a fish tank is too look at it. Place it near the TV and you can have one eye on it and the other on the TV. If you can, have a couch or chair you can relax in in comfort, rather than just turning over a 20L bucket. Have a camera on hand (digital if at all possible) to record cool stuff, you just never know. Help out someone new to the hobby and they will help out others later on. It's a ripple effect and in a hobby so based on information very important. Don't try to keep everything at once. Keeping a few fish tanks really well is better than keeping dozens of them 'average'. This is a hobby to last your life; you’re not going to run out of species to try anytime soon. Sometimes it helps to think of your fish tank like a spaceship. Having 2 of everything is handy, as when one breaks you don't all just suddenly die. Having 2 filters also means you can alternate cleaning. Having 2 less powerful heaters means you won't have to rush to the lfs if one packs it in. It may be expensive but having a replacement bit on hand is very... handy. Each tank is a unique experiment to achieve roughly the same aim; its complexity is shown by the variety in people’s setups and experiences I’m not a fan of UVC or UVS. Really just have no use for them. Plenty of other toys I want though. That said replace UV bulbs regularly and flow water slowly through them to achieve better kill rates. Not using something means you don’t get much experience with them. There are many people who would never put a fish they would be upset to lose in a tank without a UVS running on it. To each their own. You will never be able to get your granddad to stop using under gravel filters. So don’t bother. Just accept that people do different stuff and their fish still live. Try to respect the environment. If you can make something rather than pillaging from the wild do it. Buy fish/marine goodies from responsible collectors; buy captive bred fish where ever possible. They are stronger and better. Don't take rocks or driftwood that are fishes homes in the wild for your tank at home. They can often bring unwanted nasties with them, but really it’s about re-creating nature not imprisoning it. Aquariums are not the slices of nature they appear to be, they are simulations. We as fish keepers get blamed for a lot of stuff. Sure much live rock is stripped from reefs but much, much more is used in construction where cement would have worked. That said we should do what we can to support a sustainable hobby. One day the oceans may die and it will be fish keepers who will keep alive the fish species. Already aquarists have helped maintain captive stocks of endangered cichlids. Wild caught fish are always a thrill but vote with your wallet when you can and support hobby breeding. A good book to read is the ‘Conscientious Marine Aquarist’. It deserves a plug as it has been key in changing how aquarists go about the hobby. It can be a daunting task setting up a dream display tank. The hardest bit is starting. Once you begin an aquarium, that’s it. It's no longer a thought it's a reality, often the rest follows easy enough. The important thing is to start. Even a bare tank with bubbling filter is strangely mesmerizing. If nothing else it will get other people around you excited as well. The quicker you start the faster you will have it. Take your time making a list of things to do, do things right. Remember the foam between tank and stand. Remove obstacles in your way before moving around the tank. If it gets too much or you lose zest for the mission reflect on how good it will be to finally have it finished. 1 task at a time, chip away at it. It's easy to exaggerate just how complex or much of a mission a display is going to be. Don't set a time limit, fish missions have a way of dragging out a bit and patience is oh so valuable. Can't rush bacteria growing may as well have a cuppa and watch toons instead. If you get stuck on something, visit other people’s fish rooms, or fish shops and try and get inspired. You can get a lot of ideas looking at a few hundred filter setups in one day. Don't feel you can't do something just because you have no experience, that just means it's something to work up to. Go get some! As Ziglar says ‘Failure is often the line of least persistence’. With aquariums you are the limiting factor. Think things through, break it into stages and3 / http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Page begin.

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stuck on something, visit other people’s fish rooms, or fish shops and try and get inspired. You can get a lot of ideas looking at a few hundred filter setups in one day. Don't feel you can't do something just because you have no experience, that just means it's something to work up to. Go get some! As Ziglar says ‘Failure is often the line of least persistence’. With aquariums you are the limiting factor. Think things through, break it into stages and begin.

Setting up Starting to get to the good stuff now! Let’s talk about setting up your aquarium. This is usually a confusing and exciting moment for everyone. There will be drama! You cannot escape that, so take it in your stride and keep grinning. This is all going to be oh so worth it once it’s done. I don’t have the patience to go through a setup every single step by step which is lucky as I doubt you have the patience to read it! I will however try cover a few of the more important bits. First of all, keep a tank journal. Not only will all that recorded data let you track deaths like a CSI team but they make great mementos of the stuff you did right too! With a tank journal and ammonia/nitrite/nitrate test kits you can track any tank nitrate cycle. Then work out exactly how lazy you can be with water changes while keeping nitrates diluted enough. A journal can be a note pad or a fancy computer program. What ever, use it to log test results, water changes, breeding activity, fish breeder information/contacts, new fish additions, deaths, adding salt and medications for starters. Even having your tank size/volume and species list recorded in one place is handy. Other handy data is how much electricity equipment costs to run, where it was purchased and for how much. I stick in receipts, lfs cards and in some cases even printed digital camera pictures. A ground fault interrupter switch can save your life working with fish. It's easy to knock a light in a tank, spray water over your xbox, lawn mower a pond filter cable, break a glass heater, flood a power board or something. Create 'drip loops' on all electrical plugs. Do this by creating a lower point before the plug meets the socket, that way water drops will drip off before making it ‘up hill’ to the socket. With electricity ‘one flash and your ash.’ Be safe. It’s more fun than being dead, or so I hear anyway. If you want to drill holes in your aquarium for your filter plumbing do it before you fill the aquarium with water! In fact it ’s easiest to get it done by the tank maker before you even bring it home. The sound of running water can make some people wet the bed or fall asleep. Be mindful of filter types in kid’s bedrooms and studies. Sunlight can cause algae to grow faster, that’s not always a bad thing. But it can also raise the tank temperature so it’s worth thinking about how much sunlight will hit the tank. Even if down that thought path lays an ingenious scheme to focus the sunlight from every window with mirrors onto a super sun lit tank. Make sure all tanks have a layer of Styrofoam between the tank base and stand. Colour it black with a magic marker if your stand is black to help it blend in. Make sure your fish tank stand can handle a bit of water without swelling up and falling apart. If your fish tank area has a drain in the middle of the floor your laughing, otherwise spread old towels over carpet while water changing to avoid wrath over spills. Stand legs can be put in plastic protectors (or on plastic chopping boards) to cut back on rusting. Wash new sand and gravel in a bucket outside by overflowing the bucket with a hose until it overflows clear. Cleaning it in the tank is a lot more fiddly! Dark gravel will make cardinal and neon tetra have darker more vibrant colour, lighter gravels and sands will make most fish paler. This is an attempt to camouflage the fish against the bottom and hide it from potential air attack. A heater has a thermostat not a thermometer! Don't trust it too know the aquarium temperature. Heaters go rogue all the time so ensure you have a separate thermometer away from the heater somewhere easy to see. If in doubt most fish can handle 25 deg C water. If your fish break heaters, make or buy heater guards for them. Better yet sump the tank and put all equipment out of sight in the sump. Or you could buy a stainless steel heater. 'Shop' style 4 foot fluro lights can really be the affordable solution to lighting tanks in your fish room. Experiment buying different tubes from supermarkets and see which one gives the look you like. Sure aquarium tubes may be superior, but with mixing and matching you can get a rough spectral match for much less money. Their low cost ensures less drama to replace tubes if they cause algae or are wrong colour. Buy some new starters for them if they need. If they have no switch, I usually just buy an appliance timer for them and use that as same cost less work. Serious reefers or planted setup people can ignore this and go back to your cold fusion lighting setups. With freshwater tanks, a technique I have found handy is to have 1 large volume display say a 6x2x2… and then maybe some 2X1’s. The smaller 2x1’s can be water changed and then topped up from the larger display. Once the larger display gets down far enough it is refilled. This may sound strange but often my smaller tanks have more delicate fish in them, they enjoy aged water. The large display is in effect my water ager barrel, filled with a few tougher fish that can handle 50% water changes… usually breeders or an oddball. Keeping the larger tank under stocked, well filtered and with nice low nitrates from all the water changes it is a nice aesthetic version of the usual water ager reservoir. Having water always available, at same pH and temperature makes it a lot easier to get growth out of tanks full of different sized fish. It’s almost like having a nice big central sump filter… or perhaps more like having a nice big mothership tank in support of the fleet. Just as long as mothership is healthy all is well!

Heaters I’d like to turn now to aquarium heaters. Heating fish tanks is one of my least favorite things. This is unfortunate as fish from warm waters are some of my favorite things. In particular I hate paying to heat tanks through winter. If you have lots of tanks to heat it can be cheaper to seal the area and heat the room. Newer central air is hot/cold and enables perfect climate control summer or winter. This also applies to chillers on marine tanks. Outdoor fish are difficult or expensive to heat through winter. Large amounts of water are more stable but will still need very good insulation if you wish to keep them warmer than the surrounding environment. Saltwater ponds are difficult to control regarding evaporation and rain. Weather plays a huge part in deciding what you can and can’t keep outside. Either insulate the base and sides and build a greenhouse over the top or use a climate controlled shed. In the end it’s certainly a lot easy to keep fish that are happy with your local temperatures outside. You may still be able to give some of your tropicals a summer pond vacation though. Heaters are only draining power while heating, in many brands a light will be on.. Having a heater at each end can quickly heat an aquarium and give you more 'off time'. Remember larger volumes of water will hold heat for longer. Smaller volume tanks with large surface areas have potential to change temperature rapidly. You can attach Styrofoam sheets to the sides of containers and aquariums to slow down temperature drops in drastic times. Worse comes to worst, bag the fish and put them in an esky. Fish can handle lower temperatures than you expect if the temperature drops slowly. Using heaters in small containers with no water flow is http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html dangerous be careful not too cook your fish. At the same time, the water temperature in small containers can 4 / Page drop very quickly on a cold day, test the temperature before changing them over to warmer water suddenly. Reduce dangerously high tank temperatures by removing lids and blowing air across the water surface with a fan.

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You can attach Styrofoam sheets to the sides of containers and aquariums to slow down temperature drops in drastic times. Worse comes to worst, bag the fish and put them in an esky. Fish can handle lower temperatures than you expect if the temperature drops slowly. Using heaters in small containers with no water flow is dangerous be careful not too cook your fish. At the same time, the water temperature in small containers can drop very quickly on a cold day, test the temperature before changing them over to warmer water suddenly. Reduce dangerously high tank temperatures by removing lids and blowing air across the water surface with a fan. If fish are jumpers mounting computer fans in light hoods may be necessary or use eggcrate for lids. You can cover the eggcrate with plastic canvas if your fish are small and jumpers. You can also float bottles of frozen water (don't fill right to top BEFORE freezing) or plastic bags can be filled with ice cubes and hung in tanks if you have no frozen bottles handy. Add a drop of dechlorinator if you are concerned about chlorine in ice melt. Powerheads may produce excess heat. If your tank is running hot, switch off lights (especially spot lights), check pump temperatures and remove lids/ add fans. Small water changes can be used to drop temperature if tap water is cooler. Be careful not to chill fish. A pump that runs ‘hot’ is not going to be fun in summer if you have a reef tank.

pH I want to have a few quick words on pH now. I find most fish keepers have an unnatural fixation with pH. Most would be best to trade it in for a fixation with partial water changes. If you are going to get into reef or serious planted tanks it is well worth reading up on how CO2, KH, GH and pH all interact together. The rest of us can usually get away with nodding and saying yea when the topic comes up in conversation. That pH of water in creeks, rivers and even coral reefs alters and swings through out the day. Plants remove CO2 from water during the day and release it at night. Measure your pH through out the day, many aquariums exhibit this. A bucket of fresh tap water will often change in pH if left to sit overnight. To discuss pH and related stuff is beyond the scope of this. But I just wanted to point out that everything doesn't rely on you keeping the water perfect at pH 7. In fact, long term it's easier to keep fish that like your tap water, certainly makes them easier to water change. Like everything else in fish keeping pH becomes more complicated the more you learn about it. A handful of shell grit ends most pH drama in tanks; others like to aim at a bull’s eye. Myself, I believe an ammonia and nitrite test kit is more important to have on hand. As long as pH is stable it’s normally fine. If pH is high ammonia is more toxic. If pH is low nitrite is more toxic. Swinging pH to help out with ammonia or nitrite poisoning is almost always doomed to fail. Best to keep a stable pH than swing it up and down. A stable pH lets filter bacteria operate closer to optimum level and they are the best way of getting ammonia and nitrite to safe levels. Coral, shellgrit, marble, limestone, calcium carbonate, even aged concrete/cement... will usually keep your tank pH around the 7.6 mark. This is handy if your fish is happy at that range and most are. Calcium carbonate is for people who can’t be bothered messing around with pH up and down. The problem is that this limits the amount of co2 you can dissolve in the water in planted setups. When you move onto breeding your fish, you may need to play with pH a bit more closely as eggs can be very delicate to a pH different to the one they spent millions of years evolving in. Fish on the other hand are much more adaptable. You can make 'black water' by soaking peat, leaves (dead Indian almond and banana leaves are good ones), driftwood or even teabags in water while it ages. With a lot of care acids can be used as a cheap way to remove buffers from the water. This is not something for the beginner to try, but for the serious fish keeper a trip to the pool supply store can save some serious cash.

Nitrogen cycle So pH, is yea a bit over rated. Now let’s move to the mother of all aquarium topics. The nitrogen cycle. Those seasoned salts among you are already skim reading down to where this subject ends. The rest of ya pay attention! You need to understand this so you can use ‘common sense’ in your day to day aquarium keeping. It is important to understand that aquariums remain simulations of nature. They are a ‘test tube’ river, lake or ocean. Lacking the immense dilution abilities and massive available surface areas that natural environments enjoy. Nature is a mind numbing web of chaos that somehow works. On the other hand an aquarium is a closed system and can be controlled or manipulated. Infact an aquarium will need help from YOU to remain a stable ecosystem. Nature usually does better without ‘human help’. But for your aquarium to stay ‘perfect’ in your eyes will require scheming on your part. You need to learn how to help out the good guys and let them fight most of the problems for you. Divide and conquer as it were. No fish really eats poo, that’s the filter bacteria's job. Filter bacteria break down fish poo into much less toxic chemicals. With water changes it's easy to keep these less toxic chemicals in the water at levels safe for fish. Most fish tank filters are based on ones used to treat human poo. Icky as that sounds, they work very well. As long as the filter has a healthy population of good bacteria, it is unlikely to be colonized by dangerous ones. The new aquarium starts out with very few of the sticky "good-guy" bacteria, so the new aquarist needs to start out with a much less fish than what they wish to keep once the tank is mature. Care must be taken to increase the good guy bacteria numbers over about a month. At the end of this filter/aquarium break-in period you will have grown a living filter that will help you greatly to keep any fish alive. You can water change while growing this filter, as long as you leave the filter and gravel undisturbed the benefits out weigh the risks. Keeping pH stable and ammonia and nitrite levels low at all times is important if there are fish in there. Giving a new fish keeper a chunk of your filter sponge/media, a handful of your gravel/sand and some of your water to kick start their tank is the best start you can give them. It's important they feed their aquarium a bit of fish food everyday (or ammonia if you want to be fancy) so that the bacteria can build up in numbers to handle the future fish waste load. Once some ones filter is ‘cycled’ the aquarium becomes very low maintenance. It is important to tell them to never clean the filter out under a tap or they will kill the helpful bacteria. Then you have weeks of bad water while you wait for the bacteria to breed back up. When choosing the main filter for your tank try to aim to turn your tank water volume over twice an hour. Generally you aim for more flow than this in marine tanks and less in heavily planted ones. Brackish tanks take even longer than marine tanks to cycle. Marine tanks take longer than freshwater. Of course your mileage may vary and there is not really an accurate answer to the question, 'How long until it's cycled?' Bacteria that eat ammonia reproduce faster than those that eat nitrite. So the nitrite spike is a common chokepoint in the cycle. High ammonia levels may slow nitrite eaters breeding. Ammonia and nitrite are usually though good to grow fast filter bacteria, just bad for fish. I always water change to minimalise damage done to fish, but I’d much prefer no fish were in the tank until it was cycled. Put a mature filter on a new tank to almost instantly cycle it. This is another good reason to use 2 filters in each tank, it makes setting up a new tank painless. Once you have one healthy cycled tank you can use bacteria from it to jump start as many other tanks as you need to. Getting that http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html first filter cycled is often the biggest challenge most fish keepers ever face. Page 5 / You can cycle a tank with no fish. A bare tank with a running filter can be just fed fish food (or pure ammonia) until ammonia and nitrite peak and then fall to 0ppm. Do a big water change and begin to stock the tank. The aim

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fish were in the tank until it was cycled. Put a mature filter on a new tank to almost instantly cycle it. This is another good reason to use 2 filters in each tank, it makes setting up a new tank painless. Once you have one healthy cycled tank you can use bacteria from it to jump start as many other tanks as you need to. Getting that first filter cycled is often the biggest challenge most fish keepers ever face. You can cycle a tank with no fish. A bare tank with a running filter can be just fed fish food (or pure ammonia) until ammonia and nitrite peak and then fall to 0ppm. Do a big water change and begin to stock the tank. The aim is to match the growth rate of the bacteria with the addition of extra poo machines (fish) and to stop adding fish before they will be too much effort to water change (to dilute nitrates) when adults. Space out your fish purchases to allow bacteria to catch up to the waste load. Adding new fish always adds lots of excitement to the tank and that’s something you want to drag out as long as possible. Waiting for a fish tank to cycle, feeding up the bacteria and getting all the needed equipment setup before you bring home fish saves all the lame daily water changes, smelly cloudy water and diseases or dying fish that just setting up a new tank and throwing in fish involves. Often the first step in a new tank for me, begins with feeding a filter in a bucket a bit of fish food (or some ammonia) each day for 2 weeks. When I finally have the tank filled and good to go I have a partially mature filter ready to rip from the bucket and throw in. Rush it all…. add poo producing fish BEFORE you have bacteria colonies grown and you’re asking for lame drama. You can smell if a filter is healthy. It has a smell like freshly disturbed dirt after rain. Not unpleasant at all. A filter that smells bad is not healthy at all. Cloudy water is often caused by floating bacteria multiplying at enormous rates; it usually goes away in a few days with no need for action. It is common in the first month or two and any time when the filter bacteria colony is unable to keep up with the fish waste load. This is very common in tanks where the filter sponge bacteria have been killed after being cleaned in tap water. A floaty bacteria bloom will sometimes also follow removal of gravel or ornament if they were heavily colonized by the helpful sticky bacteria. Or you may just be plain overfeeding or have dead fish or snails in the aquarium. Try increasing water aeration as helpful bacteria may have slowed down due to low oxygen levels in the water. Bacteria growth will also slow down due to low temperature or pH in some cases. Large pH, temperature or oxygen fluctuations may kill many helpful filter bacteria. Try to treat your filter bacteria as nicely as your fish. When sponge media needs to be changed as it is falling apart. Add the new sponge to your aquarium to “seed” with helpful bacteria around 2 weeks before you plan to swap it over. Place the new sponge in the running filter in your aquarium, or use it as a prefilter or elastic band it to the outside of the filter. I kick start sponges for about 14 days to really get them well colonized. At the very least rub some brown sludge off the old filter media and onto the new stuff before you swap over. Try very hard not to use disposable filter media, it makes keeping a stable bacteria population both difficult and expensive. If you do not have time to seed the new filter media for a few weeks in the tank first then replace no more than half the filter media with new stuff to prevent throwing out your whole bacteria colony. Replace the next half in a few weeks. Bacteria need lots of oxygen to transform toxic fish waste to less dangerous nitrate. The amount of oxygen entering the water is related to the surface area of the aquarium. Where the air meets the water is where it all happens. If the surface is rough with popping bubbles and swirling filter/powerhead current it will have a much greater surface area. Ensure the surface of the aquarium is rippled and disturbed to ensure good water oxygenation. The last thing you want is filter bacteria competing with fish for oxygen! During ‘milky/cloudy water bacteria’ blooms, the bacteria in the water will be consuming even more oxygen. Reduce feeding and increase aquarium oxygenation. The water coming out of a filter may not contain much oxygen if it has passed through lots of bacteria. These low oxygen outputs are best directed across the surface of the water where they can release carbon dioxide and dissolve more oxygen. Returning it too the tank via a spray bar can also be effective. If you only ever DIY one aquarium mod, do a spray bar. It’s a pipe with a few holes and one end closed off or even plugged with a bit of cork. Easy. Also effective at reducing the carnage an oversized filter does to a small tank. Remove annoying air venturies on power head filters. You can tie a knot to reduce the airflow/noise or use valves.... but I just rip them off. They are not needed in most cases though, put annoying microbubbles in fish’s gills, reduce water clarity and make a nasty sound. I hates the things. Teaching people about the nitrate cycle is not an easy task to do over and over. If that sounds like your job, try to prepare a hand out to preserve your sanity. A picture is also worth a thousand words.... something I would have to remember only after writing those thousand words of course.

Buying fish and equipment Ok you made it through the nitrate cycle talk. Well done! As a reward lets talk about something that’s not going to make your brain bleed. Buying fish and fish stuff! Everyone loves buying fish and fish stuff. Fish keeping is the world’s biggest hobby and fish related products make up more than half of all pet sales. Lot of people trying to make money with fish. So look around and reward good service. You can get very impressive complete second-hand setups by looking at classifieds and online forums like here. When people have to sell you can get really good value. People who are moving or students finishing up courses will often sell tank setups off for cheap. Little things thrown in are all things you don’t need to buy later, and with luck and a mature filter you might just skip the cycle period new tanks endure. Once a glass tank has left the store its value decreases a lot. Don't move tanks with objects like lids or ornaments still inside. They can move around and crack the glass. The aquarium market is a niche market. If you can find the same product marketed for industrial/human/agricultural it will usually be much cheaper. If everybody in a hobby wants it, it will be expensive. Chemicals like sodium thiosulphate ‘de-chlorinator’ and sodium chloride ‘aquarium salt’ are much cheaper from a swimming pool shop than local pet shop. Likewise aquaculture fish food is cheaper per kg than pet fish food. Going in with someone and buying bulk fish, equipment, fish food or chemicals can be a good way to save cash long term. Wholesale prices are only cheap compared to retail and good fish are always worth what you pay. No regrets! Buying fish is like buying computers. The next day the market will be flooded with cheaper ones. Such is life. When most people measure fish they include the fins. Keep it in mind when they mention the size. Condition of fish is actually more important than fish size. Healthy fish are easy to grow big but the buyer doesn’t often see the bright side of the deal if fish look smaller than expected. Don't mercy buy pathetic looking fish at pet shops in the hope of nursing them back to health. If you buy it they will order in more and probably kill those as well. Make an impact on their future choice by voting with your wallet. A sick fish can often cost a lot more (in meds or if it spreads disease to other tanks) than you had originally factored in. Shops that sell obviously sick fish are no good. It’s just not cool, avoid them Fish/pet shops can often order in far more species than they have in stock. You may have to make a deposit and you may lose it if you change your mind. Try to meet the boxes when they arrive at the store, you will probably get a discount and avoid exposing them to shop tanks. There is a dark side to this technique unfortunately though. Shipping can often be very stressful for fish and in their weakened state they can easily contract things like whitespot. If you don’t have a quarantine tank it’s often best to let fish settle for a week or so at the lfs just http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Page 6/ to see if any disease is going to make itself known. Things like whitespot infestations may not have visible symptoms for a few days so best they first appear in a lfs tank than your pride and joy display. If you never see

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you may lose it if you change your mind. Try to meet the boxes when they arrive at the store, you will probably get a discount and avoid exposing them to shop tanks. There is a dark side to this technique unfortunately though. Shipping can often be very stressful for fish and in their weakened state they can easily contract things like whitespot. If you don’t have a quarantine tank it’s often best to let fish settle for a week or so at the lfs just to see if any disease is going to make itself known. Things like whitespot infestations may not have visible symptoms for a few days so best they first appear in a lfs tank than your pride and joy display. If you never see the item you are chasing try posting a WTB (where to buy) thread in forums. Someone may just know and you never know if you don't ask. It is ok to ask a fish store employee to net a fish against the front glass so you can have a closer look at it, IF you fully intend to buy it if it's ok. In a similar vein you can ask to see axolotl’s being fed, as well as fussier marines. I'm happy to buy something a feeder if I have to to watch a fish feed and be convinced it's a good buy. It's a toss up as it may then poo in the bag, but you get that buying fish. Some shops have no guarantee on fish but may hold a purchased fish for you for a few days so you can see that it is healthy. Bring a bucket and battery powered aerator to pickup larger or spiny fish such as catfish. Bags will usually not be suitable. As they say, a good display for shows and good buckets for pros. Write the scientific names of your fish on a card and keep it in your wallet, that way fish shop people know what you have, better yet remember their names and better still take a photo of them on your mobile phone. A picture is worth a thousand words and can help people decide what medicine you need or fish/equipment would be suitable. People may say Latin is easier to ID fish but considering its kinda hard for the average person to know how to pronounce the old dead language, let alone remember the name… common names have there use, but a picture just makes it easy for all. Be polite to breeders, lfs/pet shop staff, forum members and others in the pet industry. Most are in it because they like animals. They may not agree with you on certain things, but many have good reasons for reaching that viewpoint. They may be a plumber/doctor/scientist/kiwi as well as a fish keeper, you just never know. They are part of the fish brotherhood, whether they are part of the local fish club, attend auctions, read forums, work in a pet shop/lfs or elsewhere in the industry it's handy to know them. Every connection makes the job of keeping happy fish that much easier. We are where we are in the hobby today because of all the countless aquarium ideas that have mish mashed together. So yea, if you see something good, tell someone it is. If staff give you good service, reward that and shop there. Don't ask questions and then go buy online. And really unless you know the shop people well, don't take canister filters you bought online in there to get them to 'get it too work'. If you need that service, buy it from them. If you get good service and you’re stoked write their boss a letter and say so. If you buy fish from a breeder that are just A grade fish recommend them to others, if it's a forum member vouch for them. Good publicity encourages those doing the right thing to keep it up, and gives them a bit of a deserved ego boost. Competition is good but working together actually creates results. It’s all about win/win situations. So don’t be rude. You wouldn’t be rude at a Japanese koi farm so don’t be rude buying someone’s guppies. If you have a problem with a fish store, call them up and sort it out like mature adults talking on the telephone. Defaming them on the internet will only make things worse; reputations are valuable in this industry. People get emotional but it’s best to be a grownup and sort things out face to face or on the phone. I don’t mean go be an idiot, I mean use a bit of rational and try work out a win-win situation. No shop likes to lose a customer and everyone has a bad day every now and again. Once again if you really have a problem with a shop just don’t shop there. Use mail order instead. Ok so let’s just say everything went sweet and you’re on your way home with your fish. Hopefully they have been bagged well 2/3 oxygen and 1/3 water. You have them in your Styrofoam box or esky to keep the temperature nice and stable. All is hunky dory! Now let’s get these things in your tank! Floating new bags of fish in the aquarium to let the temperature equalize is a good start, but there are other important things you should do to if you have time. When you open the bag roll the sides down, this will stop the bag closing up and suffocating the fish! I prefer to move the fish to a bucket but it can be done in the tank. Take your time, the pH has probably dropped in the bag water and bringing the pH back up quickly is usually more dangerous than dropping it. Add water from the aquarium to the fish bag or bucket. I like to slowly add water over 20 minutes or more, a bucket is good as I can slowly add aquarium water by siphoning it down thru an air hose line, or drip it in with another bucket sitting on top with a small hole in the bottom. These methods break the water surface a bit but adding an air stone anyway is always a good idea. When I am satisfied the fish is happy with my tank water I net it out and add it to the tank. The fish bag water, unless it is a just setup new tank is discarded. Too many risks to add it. Sometimes I will give new fish a dip in fresh (for marine fish) or saltwater (for freshwater fish) first to cull parasites. Ideally the fish will go into a quarantine tank to be wormed and observed for a while first. When adding new fish to a tank with territorial fish in it try to add a few fish at a time to share out aggression. Move the rocks and ornaments around to 'reset the battleground'. This way fish will be too busy fighting over new territory to bother the new comer. Turning off the lights can help, as can a distracting feed. Less stocked aquariums are a lot less work. The fish live longer in blackouts when filters stop. You do less water changes. Buy less food, feed less and fish have more individual personalities. Sometimes though with aggressive fish keeping more spreads out the aggression. Overstocking requires very good filtration and frequent partial water changes. It also pays to 'over rock' that is ensure you have enough ornaments in the tank that every fish can find itself a little spot to call home. Out of sight is often out of mind. A fish constantly chased will stress and often get sick from something a healthy fish shouldn't. Be sure to check the normal male to female ratio if you want to breed. Remove fish that interrupt spawns. The lesson is don’t buy too many fish if you don’t want to buy another tank to solve drama that WILL occur. MTS is the logical outcome of an overstocked tank combined with a conscientious aquarist.

Fish tips OK now we are making some headway! Let’s talk a bit about fish! I’m not going to go too overboard here as there are plenty of specialist websites and books that can devote all their space to one species. So let’s talk Betta, which despite having a reputation for being easy is responsible for massive fish medication sales. Fighter fish or 'betta' are very tough fish. They do much better in filtered heated fish tanks with soft flowing filtration than bowls though. Bettas do not handle sudden changes in temperature very well, and this is what happens in most bowls. If you prefer the bowl, try keeping it in a room in the house with a stable temperature rather than the warmest or coldest one. Placing a lid can help trap humid air which is better for the fish to breath. Live mosquito larvae is LOVED by betta. If you live somewhere that gets cold consider a single paradise fish. They may not have the solid neon colours of betta but they are perhaps the perfect bowl fish. Their aggression makes them friendly to humans, and they are not too fussy about water conditions or food. An effective way to keep bowl fish is to empty out one cup of bowl water and replace it with a fresh cup of dechlorinated water daily. This continual dilution keeps water conditions good. Be aware there is a lot of chatter around at the moment about the potential dangers of using tea tree medications with betta, gourami and paradise fish. It may just be worth a quick google before you treat. http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Page 7 / Fighter fish food is usually more expensive than the fish over time because of the small containers it is sold in. Unless it is going to spoil before you use it a good quality community protein pellet can be used. You may need to

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effective way to keep bowl fish is to empty out one cup of bowl water and replace it with a fresh cup of dechlorinated water daily. This continual dilution keeps water conditions good. Be aware there is a lot of chatter around at the moment about the potential dangers of using tea tree medications with betta, gourami and paradise fish. It may just be worth a quick google before you treat. Fighter fish food is usually more expensive than the fish over time because of the small containers it is sold in. Unless it is going to spoil before you use it a good quality community protein pellet can be used. You may need to crumble it up a bit to make it small enough for the fighters. If you are going to breed betta, ensure you get a good fancy dad and mum. It's a lot of effort production line raising a betta spawn, make sure they are worth it. A bit of cash spent on awesome parents can ensure even the more average in the spawn can be sold to fish shops. The best looking fish can give you good kudos in breeding betta in 1 spawn. I like to turn betta breeding into a construction line. You really need to get feeding 100+ containers each day down to the minimum time possible. Some tricks like feeding with turkey basters can save hours. Other tricks such as cutting slits in containers 1/3 down from the top, so you can just top it up and it drains back down to 2/3 full, can save you days in overall time in water changes. Siamese fighters do well with a leaf of Indian Almond in their aquarium. This tree is more common in northern Australia, but it’s around if you know what to look for. Now let’s mix it up a bit with some random fish tips! If you keep brackish fish like mollies, scats, bream, archers, monos, salmon cattys, puffers etc they often prefer the addition of good quality marine salt, rather than a handful of pool salt. Marine mixes create more comfortable water for brackish fish. If a catfish is built for speed like a shark and has long whiskers, then it's a type that comes out at night and hunts sleeping fishes. These catfish have big mouths and often grow large. If the catfish is armored or built strangely with small/short whiskers, then it's a type that comes out at night and scavenges or eats algae. The planet catfish website can tell you almost anything else you need to know about catfish.

Fish Food Just to keep the random nature of this write up consistent lets move now to feeding your fish. First up are fish pellets. Fish pellets come in a zillion varieties these days. Some may have lots of cereals and make great goldfish food. Then there are ones high in DL-methionine, or others to improve oranda brain head growth. However just because a food is the best most expensive goldfish pellet on the market does not mean all types of fish will do well on it! In general most other fish do best on higher protein ingredients. Check those first three ingredients you want fish or prawn products and those cheap bulk out cereals and grains way down the list. If you buy bulk fish food pellets, store most in the freezer. It will stay fresher longer. Don't feed fish food that has gotten wet or gone bad. Fish get food poisoning too. Cats and dogs love to eat fish food. It can be an expensive treat for them. Cockroaches and rats seem to prefer algae wafers. If you buy pellet food that is too large for your fish either crumble it smaller yourself with a rolling pin or pepper grinder or soak it first in aquarium water for a bit first so it's soft enough to be broken up by fish. Choking on pellets is not cool. As an added bonus you can add liquid vitamins or medications to dry food and it will soak it up allowing you to orally medicate fish. Use a clean pepper grinder to crush up mixed fish food pellets for baby fish to eat. A 'magic bullet' or similar blender can also pulverize a mix of feeds in seconds. This can be mixed with water and target fed with a turkey blaster or large needless syringe. Target feeding like this is handy for feeding marine inverts too. Once empty of food the turkey blaster can be used to blow debris off live rock and corals. Fill with boiling de-chlorinated water for apista assassination missions. To get a barramundi to eat pellets after being fed only live feeders, try to first get it to take strips of fish fillet or prawns. Once it is taking prawns try to squeeze prawn juice onto dry pellets, and then feed the pellets. If this works a few more feeds and you should be able to stop adding the juice. The same approach can wean fighter fish off mosquito larva or bloodworm and back onto pellets. Don’t throw sinking pellets for pond fish into pond plants as fish will dig around and dig them up! Lilly’s look better while they are rooted in their pots. Speaking of plants lets now look at feeding fish green stuff. Attach vegetables and chunks prawn/fish to rocks with elastic bands or skewer it on stainless steel forks to provide something for fish to nibble on. Remove before it rots and clouds the water. By tying a piece of fishing line to it you can retrieve without wetting a hand. A skewer of varied chunks vegetable is a good way to find out what your pleco or Africans prefer, what’s gone in the morning is what they like. Duckweed is a very good food for scats, silver dollars, koi and goldfish. Kale is another one that is enjoyed by many fish. Zucchini, cucumber, squash, pumpkin, shelled frozen peas make good vegetarian pleco foods. Try blending them, then drying into wafers for an easy way to store and feed. Water change to match volume of feeding and have marble/shellgrit/limestone/coral to buffer against pH crashes. Shelled frozen green peas are a good medicine for constipated fish. You can also use duckweed to give fish guts a good clean out. Green peas are a fair bit easier to find in most freezers than duckweed though. You can also feed your goldfish a tiny bit of orange for a treat once a fortnight. It's like candy to them. Spirulina is as close to the perfect fish food as I have ever seen. Feed it to feeder fish before giving them to predator fish to ensure your pride and joy gets his veggies. A pinch of spirulina powder added to home made food can give the whole batch a bit of kick and green colour. It can usually be found at health food shops in powder form. Tang/surgeon fishes love it (and nori!), as do cichlid fry and even tadpoles. While it is expensive, it really is an amazing food. Feed quality concentrated foods, do less water changes. Or it can be used to supplement another staple flake/pellet food that may be lacking in something or to fortify home made foods. Beef heart is a good staple discus food. Chopped (or whole!) whitebait or prawns are a good feed for large carnivore fish. You can add calcium powder to homemade fish food to simulate the bones your fish would eat in the wild. Garlic is a powerful attractant to add to foods and is also probably going to make nasty gut bacteria’s lives a bit uncomfortable. I like to crush a few cloves, put them in cheese cloth and twist until a few drops of garlic juice lands on dry pellet/flake and then feed nice and fresh. When garlic cells are crushed, 2 chemicals mix together creating a powerful anti-bacterial /anti-fungal chemical to defend the garlic clove. Feeding fresh means these chemicals are active and can do their job. Discus seem to enjoy garlic added to their food as do many marine fish. Fish will eat straight paprika, it makes them colourful and is a nice final pinch to add to a home made food mix. A fresh capsicum is good for colour. Extracts can be made out of flowers for yellow pigments. Crustacean shells and spirulina are good sources of pigments as well. By providing these pigment rich foods in their diet it gives fish the building blocks they need to produce their natural colours. Pure astaxanthin or canthaxanthin (synthetic astaxanthin) may be added to fish feed to enhance fish colours. More natural results can be had feeding spirulina and crustaceans shells. astax can prematurely colour up African cichlids and cause females to develop male characteristics. It is not really suitable for many breeding setups but can make a display tank more vibrant. If you buy a fish saturated with astax and do not continue to feed it a food containing it, the fish may lose some of its enhanced colour. Make your own frozen food with gelatin or agar-agar. If you mix a batch once a month and freeze it, that’s the8 / http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Page fish food taken care of. Research European shrimp mix for a starter recipe. Feeding live feeders can introduce diseases. So can adding any new fish to your setup without quarantine. If you

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cichlids and cause females to develop male characteristics. It is not really suitable for many breeding setups but can make a display tank more vibrant. If you buy a fish saturated with astax and do not continue to feed it a food containing it, the fish may lose some of its enhanced colour. Make your own frozen food with gelatin or agar-agar. If you mix a batch once a month and freeze it, that’s the fish food taken care of. Research European shrimp mix for a starter recipe. Feeding live feeders can introduce diseases. So can adding any new fish to your setup without quarantine. If you have the perfect tank consider avoiding adding any fish. But if you quarantine the feeders and treat them yourself this risk can be reduced. Get a bit of control over the food chain, fatten them up a bit first even. Many shops sell trustworthy feeders. Breeding your own is also an option. Many fish can be bred for feeders although some do need heaters. Rosy barbs, china barbs, golden barbs, paradise fish, danios, goldfish, white clouds, gudgeons, convicts, rainbow cichlids, mongrel Africans, guppy’s, platys, swordtails any easy to spawn fish, with large numbers of young that are quick to mature and breed. Earthworms are a great fish food. If you have a compost heap and can farm them they make a healthy and cheap fish food. For smaller fish freeze the worms in cups, chop fine with scissors’, mix with aquarium water and add to tank in small amounts at a time. Earthworms are good for conditioning female tetra and big cichlids like oscars. They can be purged of the dirt inside by water dunking or fed full of dirt, I feed full. Feeding fresh full of dirt does not cloud water and only increases the amount I have to squeeze out filter sponges a small amount. Many bugs can be fed to fish, avoid things sitting on poisonous stuff like rhubarb or oleander. Anything sprayed with chemicals is also not a good idea. Fish like to eat bugs. Be aware that large fish will jump to try eat cockroaches or moths crawling on tank lids. Fish that do this should be given egg crate or Perspex lids. This behavior is a good reason not to encourage your fish to jump for food while young. Most lake Victorians like bugs as do gouramis. Some fish like archers are often kept just for their bug eating shows. It will soon be more common as fishmeal becomes more expensive to see things like bugs making up fish food. It’s almost as logical as the comic talking about mouse flavored cat food! Feeding live food can make fish more aggressive and more likely to follow the 'what fits in my mouth is food' rule. High protein pellets can also make fish more aggressive than more vegetarian based foods. Mbuna fed on baby guppies are more likely to attack your new electric blue than mbuna fed on spirulina flake. An oscar fed on goldfish is more likely to eat a mbuna than an oscar fed on pellets. One mans pet is another’s dinner. Before you start feeding an octopus prawns, an African cichlid brine shrimp, an Oscar goldfish or even a sponge to angel fish … consider for a second if anyone in the room perhaps keeps and likes said feeder creature. What is nothing to you can be distressing to others. Humans can be brutal creatures in a very off hand way. I know that’s life hey… but to illustrate the point… So this couple finally sets up their dream tank right, nice 8 foot by 3 foot wide and more than 1 foot high. Anyway stocked with a pair of freshwater rays, with intention to breed. So their kid is wrapped up in this right, luvs the rays. I came over to see how it was all going and have a few beers, and while there catch the end bit of this documentary they are watching. Just standing there and this guy on TV just happens to catch a ray, cut off it’s stinger and then throw it back to be eaten by piranha. The look on their faces said it all. Once you keep a species, get to know it a bit, it’s gets hard to watch it casually killed. While people may not mind me telling them I feed the bullrouts live worms I know there’s many a person who would take offence if I wandered into their garden and dug up some of their pet worms to feed to me fishy. The solution is to respect the feeder. Treat them like kings. A feeder tank should be the healthiest tank in the place. Gut load them with the finest foods, lavish water changes on them and allow not even a tap to interrupt their care free lives. Stress toughens the meat, we want our Buddhist creature happy to meet its maker. Breed your own feeders at home… create the food chain. There’s nothing wrong with establishing your own feeder bloodline either, grin. So ummm… yea to a certain percentage of people a fish is not just a fish… and these people could be anyone. Would you feed a rogue demasoni colony to a mangrove jack in front of konning? Some things are just bad taste and should be avoided. Outta sight, outta mind. Keep fish with the same diet together. That makes them a lot easier to feed. Keeping fish from the same water type together is also a good idea. Fish can adapt to different water better than they usually can to a different diet. If your fish is fat feed less, if it's skinny or has a sunken belly feed more often. Another good method is to look at the meat around the fishes back, if it has a 'knife edge' its underweight and if its nicely rounded its in good condition. You can check armored catfish like bristlenose's condition by looking at their stomach. Fish that have been starved often seem to have big eyes, these fish are older than they look and do not make good breeding stock. An average feeding regime may be something like feeding what the fish will consume (or around the size of their eye each) in a few minutes twice per day Check the ingredients, and buy the best one for the fish. Some of the quality ingredients you want in top three ingredients listed : spirulina, whole fish meal, white fish meal , fish meal, freeze dried brine shrimp, shrimp meal, Vitamin C & E, lobster/crab shell. Fish is usually better than shrimp as an ingredient. Feed a variety of foods at once and at different ends so that one fish doesn't eat it all. It's often easy to sneak a feed to other fish while the dominant fish is occupied up the other end having a feed. Having different sized pellets lets everyone get some. Dissolve frozen cubes of food in a cup of aquarium water before adding to the tank. This way one big fish doesn’t get all the food. Beware of clownfish dragging the whole cube of food into anemone too! Count fish off at feeding time, if some ones missing look for a body. 1 dead fish can quickly rot and overpower a filter causing fish to die in a domino fashion. Check under rocks and in caves for fish. If you find a fish caught in an ornament, break the ornament and save the fish. Yes I know a certain shell may be pretty but just do it, don’t wait - save the fish! Likewise if a fish like a pictus catfish gets caught in a fish net cut the net NOT THE FISH. Get fish back in the water so you can then go get something to get the net cut off with out hurting the fish. If you like a feeding frenzy or just want to motivate less keen fish to eat food add some fish that are absolute guts. Black widows, mollies, scats, zebras and many catfish will trigger a tank wide feeding frenzy. In most cases, if it eats its healthy. Healthy fish are usually always hungry. Don't feed more at one time than the filter can handle in poo load. In many cases it's easy to feed fish tanks an amount the filter can handle rather than an amount based on the number of fish. If fish are not hungry, CHECK THE WATER FIRST! - temperature, ammonia, nitrite and pH levels. Check if food has spoiled, if so discard. Does fish have a mouthful of eggs or swollen belly? Is the fish being picked on and too stressed to eat? Feed fish in the morning, to power them through the day. Fish in tanks with fast water flow and warmer water will need to be fed more frequently as they will be burning more energy. Slow water flow is best for young fish. Some marine fish or fry may need 3 or more feeds a day. Raising fry can be a full time job. Generally fish that graze in the wild need to be fed more often. Fish eaters can go a bit longer between meals and not lose condition. If getting someone to feed your fish, break the food into daily portions in a divided pill/tackle box with instructions. Hide the rest of the food. If your fish are fussy about their food, maybe you are over feeding. There is nothing wrong with only feeding 6 days a week. Most large fish can go at least a few days without food. Large goldfish can last weeks. Fish will lose condition and get more aggressive but good water quality is more important than food every day. Just build the food level back up slowly over next few days to ensure you don't overload the filter bacteria colony which may have shrunk a bit. Female African cichlids will hold fry for a month without eating. Don't feel too guilty if your adult display fish go a day or 2 without a feed. Sometimes fat can build up around female fishes ovaries. A bit of a fast can often result in breeding activity, a most welcome site on returning home. Vacation feeder blocks are ok http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Page 9 / for smaller fish or younger ones but I would get a good auto feeder and good quality feed instead. If you get the amount right, not too much to foul the water - a floating bit of zucchini/cucumber/squash/etc, or some pumpkin

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food level back up slowly over next few days to ensure you don't overload the filter bacteria colony which may have shrunk a bit. Female African cichlids will hold fry for a month without eating. Don't feel too guilty if your adult display fish go a day or 2 without a feed. Sometimes fat can build up around female fishes ovaries. A bit of a fast can often result in breeding activity, a most welcome site on returning home. Vacation feeder blocks are ok for smaller fish or younger ones but I would get a good auto feeder and good quality feed instead. If you get the amount right, not too much to foul the water - a floating bit of zucchini/cucumber/squash/etc, or some pumpkin rubber banded to a rock can provide a good hold over feed while you’re away. The veggies will certainly clear out the fish anyway. Test before you go away so you can see effect on water quality when you get back. Things like this take a bit of trial and error. It may be best to try it out while your at home first just to be sure. The most common reason for automatic fish feeders failing in my experience is wet food. Don't touch the food with wet hands and try getting one with a fan if possible. Bury food like bloodworm just beneath the sand or gravel to target feed skinny young salmon tail catfish or clown loaches if you are keeping them with marauding hungry cichlids. Fish fed the same cheap food their whole lives often develop problems. Variety can be key to healthy fish, so if your fish food isn't really a complete food, spice it up with another packet flake/pellet/frozen/veggie every now and again. Quality modern pellets can easily provide a complete nutritional diet. Still dice a bit of raw fish/prawn and chop up a few shelled frozen peas and throw it in. Always helps the old guts to clear out fresh food does. This is not to say that expensive foods are always better nutrition wise. Check ingredients.

Water change

Now you feed your fish and they are gonna poop. This is the way of the world. You cannot stop it. Once you start feeding you’re going to have to start partial water changing. I know feeding fish is a lot more fun. In fact its one of the great things in life. But ya let’s get on with our penance. Everything dissolves into the fish soup. Control the levels of dissolved random stuff by water changing. What ever goes in stays in, unless it’s diluted out with water changes. Just because we only measure nitrate doesn't mean there are not other reasons to water change. Nitrate is just a good marker post. Water changes bring new trace elements and trigger spawning. They also speed fish growth and reduce algae and disease. Water changes are the ritual every fish keeper should perform, so have a good think and make them as painless as possible. A water change will solve most water problems. The solution to pollution is dilution. If you have aged dechlorinated water on hand, matched in temperature and pH/salinity to your aquarium you can do the always forbidden 95% water change with much less risk. A fast and nasty fix that has its occasional use. Aging water in containers for a few days with an air stone or pump makes the water much safer to use than sticking a garden hose into the tank and just adding de-chlorinator. If you have a pump with sufficient head height you can pump it through a hose from the aging container into the aquarium saving bucket lifting. This hobby is all about keeping water, frequent small dilutions are always best but if a toxin in the water is harming fish it needs to be diluted to safe levels with water changes quickly to prevent deaths. Try to make everything you are going to do a lot of times as easy and safe as possible. Work smarter not harder!! Water can be pumped rather than carried in buckets. Use gravity, filters or pumps to move that stuff around. Get a good stool or ladder for the fish room. If you have high tanks and move around rocks make sure you’re standing on something stable and strong. If it breaks and your stomach lands on glass it can end very badly for you. Safety is important in a fish room. Glass, water and electricity is a hell of a mix. Your fuse box can save you. Sand sharp tank edges down with a bit of wet or dry sandpaper before someone gets a slit wrist cleaning algae off, or better yet check for sharp edges before you buy. A gravel vacuum is an excellent way to remove concentrated waste from the gravel without the stress of removing all the gravel and water. Done weekly with a 25% water change it provides a proven routine to keeping most freshwater fish. Avoid big clean outs if at all possible. Clean things in stages staggered a few days apart. Remember if you remove anything with a large surface area (all the gravel, filter sponge, rocks) it will throw the bacteria balance out for a while. Smaller more frequent water changes and tank cleans are the secret to tanks that never look like they need a clean. However with some tanks no gravel vacuuming is performed. Water is simply siphoned out of the aquarium and new water is carefully added back in. With a healthy growth of plants, good lighting, good biological filtration and a thin layer of sand this can be just as successful. In mature marine setups worms will have constructed networks of burrows. As they move through them they pump oxygenated water through the sand bed. Where this is happening bacteria will live and eat fish waste, converting it to nitrate. Deeper into the sand where no oxygen reaches you can grow bacteria that eat nitrate. This takes time and is not something to try in a tank you will be moving in 12 months. It's a task worth researching though, enough people seem to rate it. If everything is working well don’t destroy worms tunnels willy nilly. You can destroy an effect that takes months to achieve in minutes. Try very hard not to change more than 50% of the aquariums water during water changes. Any more and the risk of temperature or pH shock becomes much greater. 25% is much safer especially if the water is going to be dechlorinated in the tank. When doing this more risky method add extra de-chlorinator. Be aware that ammonia already in the water will become more dangerous if the pH goes up as a result of the water change. A stable pH from shellgrit/marble/coral in the aquarium makes this less of a problem. If you notice your pond has evaporated be sure to REMOVE MORE WATER before you top it up. By removing the concentrated dirty water and then adding clean water you will dilute the dissolved stuff in the pond water. Water changes are a tricky topic. A sample water change might go as follows: change 10% to 30% of your aquariums volume every week, or 20% to 40% every 2 weeks. Use a gravel vacuum, so you do not need to remove the fish while doing the water change. Only clean filter sponges in a bucket of aquarium water. Treat new water with de-chlorinator before adding to the aquarium. Don’t change more than 50% of water unless it’s an emergency. If your water is bad no matter what you do, test the tap water. It just may be the problem. If you’re really close to a pumping station or water treatment plant expect some wacky water every now and again. Consider filtering the water through a household water filter. It may also be an idea to treat it for a while in a container like a new plastic garbage bin before adding it. Aerate it, heat to same temperature as tank, treat with salt/pH buffers and then pump into aquarium with a pump/powerhead with a hose on the output. Ensure the pump you buy has a large enough 'head height' as this is how high the pump can pump water. Best to go a little bit more powerful. During droughts water can be nasty as dam levels fall. If you run out of rainwater and have to get a truck of http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Page 10 water to top up consider it may be chlorinated before you do any usual water changes without dechlorinator. It / can be worth testing distilled water to check test kits are working if results seem strange. If you are using the garden hose to fill your tank, let it run outside for a while until it's nice and cool. No need to

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plastic garbage bin before adding it. Aerate it, heat to same temperature as tank, treat with salt/pH buffers and then pump into aquarium with a pump/powerhead with a hose on the output. Ensure the pump you buy has a large enough 'head height' as this is how high the pump can pump water. Best to go a little bit more powerful. During droughts water can be nasty as dam levels fall. If you run out of rainwater and have to get a truck of water to top up consider it may be chlorinated before you do any usual water changes without dechlorinator. It can be worth testing distilled water to check test kits are working if results seem strange. If you are using the garden hose to fill your tank, let it run outside for a while until it's nice and cool. No need to cook your fish. If you’re worried about heavy metals in tap water let taps flush for a few seconds. It sounds like wasting water but really you are flushing water that has been sitting in the pipes. This is a good thing to do in new houses with new plumbing, in time bacteria and algae coats the insides of the pipes and the sitting water will be much safer. Chlorine makes most tap water toxic to fish and super lethal to friendly fish tank filter bacteria. The antidote to chlorine is Sodium thiosulphate and this is the ingredient in most de-chlorinators. Some de-chlorinators like amquel (Sodium hydroxymethanesulfonate) are able to bind ammonia freed during breaking down chloramine, these are useful in areas that use chloramine. The only chemical you really need to buy is de-chlorinator and if you’re on rainwater you don't need that. The active ingredient in de-chlorinator liquid sodium thiosulfate (sodium thiosulphate) is easy enough with some help from wiki to turn into a bottle of dechlorinator. Just add water to the powder. It can be sourced in pure crystal form from camera supply shops (Hypo), pool shops, fabric stores (bleach stop) or chemical supply places. While perfect to remove chlorine it’s not so perfect against chloramine. While sodium thiosulphate will break the bond between ammonia and chlorine, and then remove the chlorine, it will leave the ammonia in your water. With small water changes your filter bacteria will consume the ammonia in a few hours. With large water changes or when shipping fish, if ammonia is going to be a problem use a treatment that binds it. Products that do this include safe, amquel and prime. You can also age water for a while. Only overnight is not always safe to get rid of enough. Chloramine is stubborn stuff and can linger even after vigorously aerating for two weeks! Some household water filters will remove enough chlorine and chloramine but most will only remove to 'taste and smell' levels. Most tap water filters will be unable to remove much chloramine, although they may remove chlorine very well. Contact the company and see what they say. Always remember, dechlorinator is a CHEAP and SAFE chemical! Our tap water is toxic to fish without it and fish are expensive! Ammonia is an invisible killer with fish. At 0.2ppm total ammonia in the water, it begins to change from water to poison. Many tough cichlids will die at 3.0 ppm. Expect to see most aquatic life begin to stress as it passes the 0.5 ppm mark. This is a serious problem and requires immediate attention. Either water change to dilute ammonia down to safe levels or add an ammonia binder. Zeolite and carbon are expensive, as is purigen and they vary in use with fresh or salt water. I have learnt to not rely on them a 100%, rather they are useful in a drama or as an extra water improvement used to compliment existing biological filtration. Nothing beats an established biological filter but additives like amquel are a handy stop gap to hold off immediate death when a water change is not possible. This is common practise during transport of fish. Mix powdered salts, buffers, medicines with some aquarium water and then add to the aquarium by drips or in small amounts. Anything shifting pH, should be added slowly to avoid shocking fish and filter bacteria. Record how much you dosed and when, this is handy to know when to re-treat and to know what you did right, if it works. There are recipes for ‘rift lake buffers’ and ‘livebearer salts’ that are not that difficult to make up. I find out working what you need to add to a 20L bucket easiest as I use a lot of them. I add bicarb/Epsom/salts etc until I reach the GH/KH/pH/salinity levels I need for the aquarium in the bucket. Whatever I added is my recipe for 20L of aquarium water. Grind salt fine to make it dissolve a lot faster. Write 'FISH BUCKET ONLY' on your buckets. Chemicals are dangerous to fish. Wash your hands before putting them in the aquarium. Perfume, soap, petrol and many other products can be toxic to fish in small amounts. Ensure no one uses any fish sponges for anything but the aquarium. If necessary cut cleaning sponges a fish shape with scissors Good buckets are treasured by fish keepers, graffiti them to prevent them walking. Get ones with good handles that won't break, good lid seals that won't leak in your car and match your ability to lift and lug around. If you borrow a nice bucket give it back or you will be cursed each time it's needed. Ensure heaters remain submerged during water changes. If they heat up out of the water and then cool down rapidly they will crack and break. Just push them down into lower water before beginning a water change. I know people have them in perfect diagonal suction capped glory. Mine are sometimes draped all over the place or laying drunken somewhere. Sure make them look neat, but doesn’t seem to matter too much, just keep them under the water while plugged in! Or turn them off and let cool down for 10 minutes before you remove them. If you partial water change and the fish are refreshed and swim around more happily.... then you need to partial water change more frequently. Dilute waste before the water becomes bad enough to effect fish behavior. A nitrate test kit is handy for this. If you water change because of pH dropping, add some chunks of calcium carbonate to the tank to make it more stable. UGF using calcium carbonate gravel/grit/coral are excellent at maintaining high pH and biological filtration. Try using safe shade cloth or screen types instead of a gravel plate if you would like to use very fine gravel. Be sure to vacuum mulm build up under the UGF plate before it becomes a problem. Even if pH is stable keep up water changes! Before going away on holidays ensure tanks and sumps will not evaporate enough to expose pumps/heaters that need to remain submerged. Water cooled equipment may malfunction if exposed. Buy a nice thick bit of clear hose 3 meters long if you hate waiting for buckets to fill up. A fast water change is an easy to schedule water change. Wide hose is expensive but handy. You can use 2L soft drink bottles to make oversize gravel vacs for them. Thicker hoses run faster but are more expensive. Standard garden hose and plumbing can work for many things. If you have a water change hose long enough to make it to the veggie garden, it will appreciate it. Use a U shaped piece of hard pipe (or snorkel) to keep your hose in the tank and unkinked. This saves you from having to stand there holding the hose. You can even put taps on your hoses. When filling up, an electronic bath alarm is very handy, especially if the tank is in another room. Find them cheap at $2 shops, along with dog tennis ball throwers and Plastic storage boxes for sumps. Try hard not to suck up fish; it's easy to damage them. Consider holding a net over the end of the hose if they tend to suicide in. Be careful not to chill your fish when filling back up, watch the temperature and if it gets too low stop. Wait a few hours and continue. This technique is handy if you take too much water out and need to refill without shocking fish. It's no help if filters need water at a certain height to function though. Get good at water changes and filter cleans, that way you can impress female fish geeks with your skills on their tanks. Nothing impresses girls more than someone else doing the water changes if ya do it right. Also comes in handy if you want to put tanks in shops, near computers or on expensive floors. But yea chick fish geeks rock the cazbar and should be wooed at every possibility. The next obvious chance to pick one up is actually cleaning the fish tank. This is the point where most mistakes are made that lead to fish deaths. So unless you want to tour lfs by yourself until your 80 it’s probably a good idea to read this next bit. Don’t get too lazy with your tank. While not messing with stuff is what brings success in many cases (benign negligence) don't let too much nitrates build up in the system. A good clean up of mulm prevents nutrients being leached back into the system after a water change. This is known in aquaria as 'old tank syndrome' or OTS. It was made famous by UGF (under gravel filters) where the bottom plate has a habit of trapping a layer of mulm (old/new bacteria colonies and organic crud) that rots and releases nitrates back into the water. This can result in many frustrating water changes with no detectable dilution of nitrates. The solution is to lift the plate and http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Page 11 / vacuum the crud at more regular intervals. Some tanks will have certain ornaments that trap crud under them, these can be a good place to lift and vacuum clean. Removing large chunks of mulm will not throw out the

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leached back into the system after a water change. This is known in aquaria as 'old tank syndrome' or OTS. It was made famous by UGF (under gravel filters) where the bottom plate has a habit of trapping a layer of mulm (old/new bacteria colonies and organic crud) that rots and releases nitrates back into the water. This can result in many frustrating water changes with no detectable dilution of nitrates. The solution is to lift the plate and vacuum the crud at more regular intervals. Some tanks will have certain ornaments that trap crud under them, these can be a good place to lift and vacuum clean. Removing large chunks of mulm will not throw out the biological filtration as much as you would expect. Only the very outta layer of the mulm is alive. Bacteria colonies grow over there dead, so a good squeeze out of sponges has the effect of invigorating the colony. Just keep them away from tapwater or it will be a genocide instead!

Cleaning the tank If you have an old reef consider 'cooking' some of the live rock to purge it. Cooking is far from an exact science but shows promise in treating OTS is old reef tanks. Worth a Google, and try it on only one bit of live rock first. Use algae eating fish, snails, crabs and shrimp to keep algae under control in your marine aquarium. If you grow just enough for your tank life to graze on it can supplement their diet nicely. Be super careful not to get a bit of gravel or sand on magnetic algae scrapers. They will scratch your glass to fog in no time! Algae on glass near the sand or gravel can look dirty. Stir up the sand or gravel with a chopstick for an instant visual improvement. A credit card is handy to scrape algae off the sides of plastic tanks. Super gluing it into a groove cut in a bit of pvc pipe will allow you to reach awkward tank spots with it. A razor can be used on glass tanks instead if the algae has gotten really caked on but be sure to wear eye protection and be very careful. Barley straw can be used to control algae problems in ponds, but it needs time to work. Natural cures are like that. Using chemicals to control algae is usually a bad idea. Barley requires prior planning and cunning to slow release a continual algaecide. Best to have water conditions that don't promote green water in the first place. That said goldfish from green water ponds are often extra beautiful and deep golden. Filter sponges and media should be washed with water drawn from the aquarium not tap water. Give sponges a good squeeze out, the idea is to free sponge pores of blockages to allow water to flow through. Bacteria live all through the sponge. Water flow through more sponge means the bacteria colony can be larger. You don't want to clean off the bacteria that live on the sponge with too savage a scrubbing just cull back their numbers to keep the water flowing with some good squeezing out. Keeping the balance between life supporting bacteria colonies and good water flow is the secret to filter optimization. Slowed water flow on a filter is often a sign it needs a clean. Beware of glass shards in filter sponges if tank lids ever chip and the glass goes in the tank. Nothing quite as unpleasant as squeezing glass where you expect soft foam. Cleaning filter sponges under the tap is second only to forgetting to add de-chlorinator in number of fish kills in the hobby. If your waterfall (hang on back type) filter is not flowing check the O-ring around the flow control. If this is worn it will be sucking in air and not have much suction power. Simply turn to full and seal it. To test if it is this a bit of blu-tac will work until you can get a replacement rubber O ring. Be careful removing air hose from air stones, they are designed to break. I find using a finger nail to scrape the airline off works well. Airstones can be cleaned of algae to improve air flow. A light wipe or dip in hot water can clear algae well. Sometimes that impossible to find air tube fitting can be found in the garden water sprinkler system area of a hardware store. Canister filters can also build up with mulm, a high nitrate reading can sometimes be taken as a cue to give the filter media a good clean out in buckets of water from that aquarium. Don't be too thorough though; leave some media that won't slow water flow untouched. If you have a habit of over cleaning, save some brown sludge at the start and put it back in at the end. Adding this sludge will make the water clean not dirty. THEY are the true keepers of aquariums. We humans look after them and they look after our tanks. Bacteria farming is the essence of fish keeping, just as keeping soil life healthy is the essence of gardening. Do not use tap water to clean. The aim is to reinvigorate the bacteria colonies not kill them all! Air bubbles can point to a seal not working or crack in a filter. Air bubbles in silicon tank seals are also not cool. If the insides of pipes and hoses fill with algae and bacteria colonies it can reduce water flow. A small bottle brush on string can be used to pull the hoses through. A fishing sinker tied to a piece of rag can also be used. Try not to clean hoses and filters at the same time as it will knock your filter bacteria numbers around. Remember to clean impellors when you clean filters. They look like little finned mortar bombs. They will usually spin one way and stop, spin the other way and stop. If your filter is noisy or not working and the impellor spins all the way around it is probably broken. They are expensive to replace, but check first; some don’t spin at all and some all the way around. A gunked up impellor is much less likely to restart after a blackout. Cleaning impellors is also very important in houses with furred pets or long haired people molting. Fine filter floss is another culprit at wrapping around impellors. Noise with filters can be caused by air, grit, sand or gravel being ground up by the impellor. Turn off filters when stirring up sand to prevent grit being sucked in. Turn them off when removing sponges to clean, to avoid sucking in small fish. I like to check on my impellors around once a month during powerhead cleans. If your filter doesn’t seem to have suck power check for cracks on tubes and perished rubber. If you have loaches or small eels, be wary of them getting inside pumps or powerheads when they are switched off. It generally means a wrapped up spaghetti death when ya turn them back on. If you get a water surface film forming turn powerheads upside down to suck in surface water and swirl it around. Or move filters to create more surface water movement. You can also use paper towels to sponge it off the surface. Overflows to sumps remove these films quickly. They can be caused be pollen, microbes, oil from fish food, contaminants on your hands or rotting fish wedged under rocks or inside filters. If there is frothy skunge on the surface of the tank it may be a bubble nest from your fighters/gourami or even hoplo catfish spawning. If however it is an oily slick have a good check there are no dead snails or fish. Look under rocks, in filters (check intake screens are in place) inside shells or ornaments. Carbon and charcoal have many uses. I don't use them, you might. I have better things to spend money on myself. Try to change carbon at least every month. If it is sewn into a filter pad, slit the side and empty it out. Continue to use the filter pad, replace carbon with another bit of filter sponge if desired. I find with good biological filtration and water changes it's not needed. If you did need it I would recommend a unit designed for household use as you will get many more liters filtered per $. Removing stuff from the tapwater before it gets http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Page 12 / near the aquarium is something I do rate. On the plus side using fresh carbon inside filters in the aquarium can help with smells. Place a nice amount in a net bag in your filter for about 3 days. I like to wash the dust off first.

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myself. Try to change carbon at least every month. If it is sewn into a filter pad, slit the side and empty it out. Continue to use the filter pad, replace carbon with another bit of filter sponge if desired. I find with good biological filtration and water changes it's not needed. If you did need it I would recommend a unit designed for household use as you will get many more liters filtered per $. Removing stuff from the tapwater before it gets near the aquarium is something I do rate. On the plus side using fresh carbon inside filters in the aquarium can help with smells. Place a nice amount in a net bag in your filter for about 3 days. I like to wash the dust off first. After 3 days it will drop off a lot in performance. Most smells are usually dead fish or rotting fish food on the glass lids and lip. If the water stinks the ammonia is usually so high its time for the forbidden 95% water change to fend off wipeout. Some cichlids have huge territories in the wild. Sometimes when you enter a room you can be invading a fish’s territory and they will let you know. Others will try and scare or bully you for food. Fins flares and colour changes do not always mean hello to you! Well not unless you want them too anyway. Spawning cichlids will attack the glass or hands. Even a tiny blue ram is game. Avoid disturbing parents with fry. Keep up water changes but avoid distressing parents or they might eat fry. For fish that could hurt you try scare them away with an aquarium net during aquarium maintenance. That’s usually enough to deter most fish. If not a little chase with the net usually reminds them once again that it’s scary. Yes there are fish that can hurt you… but they are normally nice fish most the time. Keep an eye on lionfish and avoid wriggling fingers near fish like large triggers. Fish like scats, rabbitfish and tandanus catfish can freak out and get ya with a spine. This can cause you to do a dance that will cheer up anyone having a bad day. Avoid spooking them while cleaning their tanks. You can use glass cleaner on the outside glass as long as none goes in the water. Be careful with spray bottles not to mist your aquarium surface. I have found newspaper to be an effective way to clean glass. Marine aquariums have salt grow out of them. Known as 'salt creep' it is usually safe to scrape back into the aquarium. I avoid putting any in that’s too dusty. Salt creep kills things like lights in hoods quickly if allowed to build up. If your fish tank stinks, check around the glass lip for fish food rotting there. Wet rotten fish food stuck between glass lids is always going to smell nasty. If it is the water or filter something is wrong, check for dead fish or snails. Sometimes lots of vegetable matter can rot in the gravel and make it stink… lace plant bulbs or plant roots are my most common culprits. Wash your hands after having them in the aquarium, poo and water people. Don't put hands that have open wounds in tanks. Wear gloves especially when handling live-rock. Latex gloves are handy for handling fish as they protect you and the fish. This is double important in necropsys. At the very least have some waterproof bandaids on hand. If you’re healthy but a bit crook, avoid working in the fish room all day. If you’re really sick, talk to your doc about your fish keeping.

Breeding fish Now that we have a nice clean tank of well fed fish in biologically healthy water there’s a good chance they are gonna get it on. So let’s take a look at breeding fish! Of all the things that can happen in a fish tank, breeding is responsible for more strutting around and puffed out chests than anything else in the world of fish. It is rarely as difficult as people will make out, infact the real effort is usually in raising the fry to saleable size. Still we all like a good ego boost so let’s tackle it! Don't worry about what is worth money, keep and breed what YOU like. Fads come and go and before long you'll probably be the only one with the species in the area. Plus if you put effort into a bloodline you can make it much more than it once was. Breeding something to make money because everyone else is defeats the purpose. Trets used to be cheap, now they are not, fish are like that. I miss my tret pair. The lesson is whether you focus on quantity or quality or both…. You need a market!! It's very hard to make money breeding fish. Keep what you like and breed the best you can. Generally selling lots of cheaper fish makes more money than breeding the odd exotic thing like a ray once a year. Bristle nose catfish, java moss, apple snails, goldfish, electric yellows and guppies are examples of fish that sell well consistently. With livebearers like guppy, molly, platy and swordtails it is important to ensure females out number males. Constant sexual harassment stresses them to early death in some circumstances. A divider can be used to separate excess males in the same tank, plastic canvas is handy for the smaller livebearer tank dividers. African cichlid males will often show elongated anal fins, brighter highlights on their dorsal fins and egg spots. Male livebearers will have gonopodiums while females will have anal fins. Some fish are easier than others and some are impossible to tell the difference without a dna test! Female convicts and kribs are more colourful than males. Sometimes watching a group of fish can give clues to their sex. You may not be able to tell but they probably can! Raise a group of cichlids (6 is a common number) and let them pair up themselves. This is easier than forced relationships when they grow larger, but leaves you with excess fish to get rid of. Catfish are often very tricky to sex. Some males have a visible gonopodium such as cuckoos and black lancers. Other males such as bristlenose develop obvious features that females never do. With most however body shape and behavior may give clues but only vent sexing can confirm. Do respect local bloodlines. Raising the odd hybrid batch is no problem if you’re a responsible fish keeper but respect future fish keepers and don't ruin the only bloodlines we have in Australia. Not all hybrids are bad, some cycle tanks none other can be risked in, some serve as pets and others as food fish. They have potential to do harm to the hobby is all and we should respect that. Control their movements and don't let a hitch hiker go rogue like stealthing into someone’s colony. Many times there will be both a wild form and an altered line bred form of the fish you like available. It can be surprisingly different keeping both forms. Wild swordtails for example seem to be more resistant to low temperatures and harder to catch than orange ones. In this case perhaps more to do with hybridization with platys. Bronze comets are a lot easier than a panda oranda to keep alive. A longfin bristlenose or cory gives a bit of the exotic to a shape we have eventually grown to find 'normal'. Some of the best line bred fish come from Germany although many hit our shores from Asia. Line bred expensive fish are bred and raised in very good water and fed good food. They may not be as forgiving as the wild form and require pampering. In some cases like discus very few people keep the original colour morph of the fish. Once a fish enters such concentrated breeding and so many people keep it, its future is at least assured. Maybe not in the wild but I dare say goldfish and discus will live on in fish tanks a lot longer than in the wild. And so they should, they really do make rewarding pets. Some fish have been line bred and pampered for so long they have become much weaker than their wild forms. Fancy goldfish, guppies and fighters are good examples. They require excellent conditions and food, would not survive in the wild and are often prone to certain diseases. Some such as the long shlonged guppies even require ya to artificially inseminate, not so funny when your milking a male fish is it? Fish can be albino too. Infact they get lots of bizarre pigmentation variations. While rare in nature these are usually capitalized on by breeders where possible because of the value of something 'new' in the fish world. Some common mutations are albino, a yellow form and blotchy panda/piebald/OB forms. Often fish markings will be subtly different even within a standard group of fry. It's up to you if you want to worry about straight Page bars and http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html 13 / perfectly lined up egg spots and scales. Your fish may not win an international fish show, but that’s no reason to doubt the quality of its genetics. With care and good breeding (avoid brother to sister crosses where possible) it's

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Fish can be albino too. Infact they get lots of bizarre pigmentation variations. While rare in nature these are usually capitalized on by breeders where possible because of the value of something 'new' in the fish world. Some common mutations are albino, a yellow form and blotchy panda/piebald/OB forms. Often fish markings will be subtly different even within a standard group of fry. It's up to you if you want to worry about straight bars and perfectly lined up egg spots and scales. Your fish may not win an international fish show, but that’s no reason to doubt the quality of its genetics. With care and good breeding (avoid brother to sister crosses where possible) it's usually possible to turn around a bloodline and really enhance the characteristics YOU are looking for. Check out guppy and angel fish breeder websites for a good idea on how breeding for traits can work. For fish to spawn they need a spawning site. Flat stones, pottery domes, one ended tunnels, caves, egg mops, marbles, dense weed, algae, peat, mud.... Research what your fish uses and then provide it with a few examples to chose from. When trying to get fish to spawn there are many triggers you can use. Water changing while 'low pressure' (watch the weather on TV) zones are over your house and dropping the aquarium temperature by a degree or 2 will simulate rainfall. Clay suspensions like geo-liquid or easylife can then be added to simulate the murky wet season water. Live food is often a powerful trigger and some species will spawn daily if fed mosquito wrigglers. If a substrate spawning cichlid pair are not tending their eggs or young properly, try putting a divider in the tank. On the other side put another fish. This 'invasion' by an enemy is often enough to make the pair pull together and look after their young. I have 'switched on' a large dovii pair by moving a tank of mollies so it was end to end with the dovii tank. Some times the threat doesn't have to be that extreme is my point. Cichlid pairs can also be introduced to each other through egg crate dividers and may even spawn. Filter inputs can be setup on the female side and outputs on the males, hopefully allowing his milt to reach her eggs. If an African cichlid male suddenly colours up there’s a good chance he just spawned. Look for a girl hiding with a gob full. Female African cichlids benefit from some time out from the main tank to re-condition after being stripped/milked/robbed/naturally releasing fry. If you have no other tank a floating cage can be made, like in jaws but for a fish. Heavily pregnant livebearers can be extra cunning and tricky to catch. Infact them hiding is often a good sign they are about to give birth. Keeping them in a 'chip frying basket' style container in a larger tank or bucket will allow the newborns to swim out away from hungry parents. The chip basket can then be lifted out and moved to the next tank/bucket. I rest mine on 2 bricks in a bucket, or float them with foam in tanks. This saves catching fry out before they get eaten by parents. Using lots of fluffy plants can help hide young from parents and frequent feeding can reduce their hunting instincts. Parents will usually only hunt young when hungry... which is almost always really. Livebearers don’t like being placed in standard lfs bought ‘fry traps’ and tend to stress. Either make your own custom larger ones or use a planted birthing tank. If you milk/strip/rob eggs from mouthbrooding female cichlids, GET ALL OF THEM! Holding their mouth open with a bright light behind you is a good way to check. I like to flip a fluro on its side and use that. If you leave a few or even one she may continue to hold and not eat. This defeats the main reasons to milk which is to get maximum fry, let her regain condition and breed again sooner. A tomato sauce squirt bottle makes a handy way to flush out eggs/fry from African mouth brooders. Be sure to use fresh water from the aquarium in the clean squirt bottle. Breeding fish is easy; raising them up to adult is not. Many fish will spawn to spite you, the question of if you’re up to the task of raising the fry depends on many things. Good luck! Many cichlids will eat or beat up their own young if they want to breed again and feel the young are a threat to the eggs. If you see spawning activity remove any fry if you want to play it safe. You can often tell when fish are about to spawn as their rude bits drop down; they prepare a spawn site and colour up. Aggression can be another sign, especially jaw locking in larger cichlids. Water change fry tanks more frequently to stop chemicals building up in the water and stunting growth. Frequent small feeds will speed growth as well. A mature air powered sponge filter will give fry something to nibble on, while supplying a soft current that doesn’t burn too much energy swimming in. Siphon some of the batch of wrigglers from substrate spawning cichlids into another tank. Attempt to raise them better than the ones left with mum and dad. It gives you 2 rolls of the dice and is good practice for the day you may need to try raise a whole batch. Have a green water culture, it just makes it easier. Attach sponge prefilters to tanks with fry to prevent them being sucked into filters. When hatching fish eggs it's often best to use water from the tank they were laid in. Fish can adapt to new water conditions, eggs are more vulnerable to changing conditions. Many fish eggs are sensitive to light, especially catfish eggs. Avoid shining torches on them! Dragon fly and other insects can come in through windows and lay larvae in fry tanks. Beware, some eat fish. Get good at making fry savers out of random stuff. It is a skill for life. Ice cream containers, sieves, stretched nets, Perspex with slits, fly wire chip baskets and egg crate cells are just some techniques. Whether they are to separate wounded, pregnant, spare males, fry or even a fighter fish they are handy to be able to whip up. Quicker than setting up another tank anyway. There are a thousand ideas on the net but some super glue, plastic canvass and recycling trash is all ya really need. Get rid of less than perfect fish that are taking up room. That doesn't mean you have to throw it to a jack or octopus. Just don't keep it somewhere it's overcrowding really good quality fish. Give it to a friend, sell it on a forum or call up fish shops and see if any will take off your hands. I don't mean if it's going to die or wouldn't make a good pet. I mean any fish that isn't the fish you want to be breeding. This is especially important with koi, goldfish and flowerhorn. As they grow continually remove the ones that fail to make the grade until you are left with only the best. However when culling things like baby oranda be sure the trait you are culling for has had time to even show up yet! Some of the best may be late bloomers and if you have given them away.... well it's all going to go down in someone else's tank isn't it! Don't let other fish slow the growth of the fish you are really interested in keeping. Kill any fish that is not going to make a good pet, there really is no reason for keeping it alive in a dark corner. Sorry fishy. I think it is important to only sell fish that you are proud of, but at the same time too many fish = too much work. You can always breed more! Don’t feed fish the day before you are going to move them. That way they won’t poo in their bags. You can add some products that remove or bind ammonia from the water and these are a worthwhile investment if you’re shipping lots of delicate fish, or if your local tap water is loaded with chloramines/ammonia. Learn to tie fish bags well so you can bag fish fast and confidently. Try a few methods and practice the one you prefer. When tying a fish bag, around about 1/3 water and 2/3 air seems to be a good ratio. Place the bag in a Styrofoam box to keep the temperature stable and fish calm. If the fish have spines you may need to double bag with a newspaper layer between.... or use a bucket and battery powered aerator. Beware of bags with corners where fish can get squashed. Many people pack fish bags in boxes upside down or double bag to avoid this. Having oxygen to fill your fish bags with gives the fish a lot more time. If you’re driving the fish and it's a long trip bring along spare bags, spare aquarium water, battery powered airpumps, batteries and de-chlorinator liquid. Some buckets need a valve or small hole to let out air if your using a battery powered aerator. Otherwise ya may suffer from from loud lid popping off buckets incidents. This is not always cool when your making good time on a highway at the time. You usually get more trading your fish for store credit than you do for cash. When the lfs owner is happy it means repeat sales and we like them we does!

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highway at the time. You usually get more trading your fish for store credit than you do for cash. When the lfs owner is happy it means repeat sales and we like them we does!

Catching fish So you bred, raised and sold your fish. Easy enough! Let’s move onto the really tricky stuff, catching fish! People catch wild fish with electricity, poisons, spears and barbs. They entangle them in choking nets and pull them so quickly from the depths that gory things happen internally. Clearly we need to take more care catching our treasured pets. Fish will get nervous if you make eye contact with them. Try to avoid letting which cunning mbuna you are trying to net know that you have selected it. Drop water level before catching large fish to reduce jumping. A wet towel can be used to carry a large mangrove jack around the fish room flipper style. The dorsal fin can be damaged struggling in normal aquarium net. Choose the right net for the job. Use fine soft nets for fry and live food. Use larger holed large nets to catch large fast fish. These 'fast' nets are often rough on fish scales. Beware nets with holes too large, gilled fish are dead fish. Mend holes in nets or fish will find them every time. Hang cotton nets up to dry so they don't rot. It is also a good idea to make up a bucket of net sterilizer if you have lots of tanks and not enough nets for 1net per tank. Some fish are easy to catch at night time with a red filter on your torch. You can see them and they can’t see you. This is the ninja version of just blinding them with a spotlight. Others can be fooled into swimming into a fish net baited with food. Always try to use 2 nets to avoid hurting fish. Using one to block and a smaller net to herd is effective. Experiment with using slow net movement with fast fish and fast net movement with slow fish. There is a good chance of hurting fish when you are catching them, take your time and keep your cool. Fish will follow the same preprogrammed swimming loops, watch what they do, move ornaments and get them next time they try the trick that worked last time. Rostratus can make even a veteran look like a fool. For fish like this, if at all possible I use a rather nasty ambush technique. First I turn the lights off and give the fish a few hours to fall asleep. Then I walk back into the room, flick the tank lights back on and using very slow smooth movements net the fish out. You will have about 2 minutes before the fish are able to see correctly again. The problems with this method include many fish sleep under ornaments and the fish need to be in darkness for a few hours first for the effect to be complete. Many fish can be trapped against the front glass with a net, placing your hand softly on the glass will often make them swim back into the net in fear. Many livebearers are not smart enough to fall for the above trick. Bristlenose catfish can be caught by lifting up an ornament and holding a net under it. Fleeing catfish will swim into the net or better a container as less chance of tangling/damaging spines. Using nets with smaller holes will damage fish less, these nets are slower though. They make a good ‘blocker’ to cut off the angle of escape while you herd the fish into it with a ‘faster’ larger gauge net in the other hand. For extra large fish a koi net can be a good buy, larger fishing shops also often have some good nets…. Worth stocking up on good nets if you need to empty a pond or something. Baby fish such as bristle nose can be caught and moved to a bucket with a hose by siphoning them out. Done correctly this can be safer and quicker than netting them out. There are a few common types of fish trap you can buy and an infinite variety that you can build to use to capture fish or rogue animals like mantis shrimp. They usually work ok the first time but many fish are wary a second time. If you get stabbed by a marine fish or catfish sometimes you can stop a lot of the pain by placing the limb in hot water. Not hot enough to scald but as close to that as possible. Most books recommend 45degC. The heat breaks down the poison. Examples include eel tail and salmon tail catfish, bullrout and scats. They do hurt when they get you, so something to keep in mind. If it’s serious go to hospital, don’t be afraid to ask for an antipsychotic/painkiller if ya need it. Some people go back to fishing and others have a bad few days. Many marine fish need to be treated with respect, a large trigger, lion fish or surgeon can actually hurt you. A blue ring is a silly pet leave them in da sea. Wear gloves handling liverock other stuff may sting you and cuts can get infected easily.

Malawi cichlids Ok enough on the catching fish, fun as it is. Let’s take a look at the fish that really suckered me into this hobby, Malawi cichlids. Sure they are taken for granted by today’s fish keepers but they still manage to excite me today more than any other fish. Mixing Malawi cichlids is always interesting. Even within species there is a great variety of personalities. Peacocks like sand, Utaka open water and Mbuna like rock piles. In the wild they rarely come into contact with each other. Peacocks are usually found deeper than most mbuna, which hang near the algae covered rocks in shallow water. Many aquariums are not large enough to house the largest haps, and these Haps will often frighten small Mbuna. Peacocks are prone to crossbreed with other peacocks, and often cannot match Mbuna aggression. No matter which fish you want to mix, growing them up together will give you your best chance of one big happy family. Buy the largest possible most peaceful fish species first, and smallest possible most aggressive species last. This gives the peaceful fish a chance to get settled. Once your most aggressive fish gets settled it will often give new comers a hard time. Have a good King of the tank in Malawi setups and he will break up any fights before they get too bad. A king who is too aggro or too wussy will not work as well as one who is just right. Once you add one really agro fish to a cichlid setup, each new fish will need to be that agro or even more so. Consider these purchases well. While an auratus may flush your fish out of the rocks so you can see them watching it harass the whole tank in it’s never ending quest to get them away from it’s rocks gets tedious. I have heard of alpha mbuna being fed to cats by otherwise very nice people. Keep fish of the same aggression level and ability to take punishment together. Mbuna are actually well suited to living with Mbuna. They fight a lot but there are not usually many deaths unless you get a rogue Stalin. The secret is to provide lots of broken up territory. Out of sight, out of mind style. Tanks with lots of scraps are often worth salting at 1 tablespoon per 20 liters, a bottle of melafix on hand is a good idea too. While I will usually only add salt as part of a treatment (and then water change it out,) some cichlids brawl every day and salt helps them heal faster. So I maintain a salt level with every water change. http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Page 15 / If the side of your cichlid is scraped raw it has probably just lost a fight. The loser will often let the winner ‘graze’ on its flank to give its face a break. Unless separated it may become stressed and have secondary fungal or

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secret is to provide lots of broken up territory. Out of sight, out of mind style. Tanks with lots of scraps are often worth salting at 1 tablespoon per 20 liters, a bottle of melafix on hand is a good idea too. While I will usually only add salt as part of a treatment (and then water change it out,) some cichlids brawl every day and salt helps them heal faster. So I maintain a salt level with every water change. If the side of your cichlid is scraped raw it has probably just lost a fight. The loser will often let the winner ‘graze’ on its flank to give its face a break. Unless separated it may become stressed and have secondary fungal or bacterial infections move in. Fish will often be grumpy and fight at dawn and at dusk. If you have a killer, waking up early to watch the tank can catch the culprit in action. Best to aim for different shaped bodied and coloured fish if less aggression is desired in your display. Malawi cichlids will often vigorously attempt to drive fish that look similar out of their territory. When they consider the entire aquarium their territory it can be stressful on the victim fish and you. Often the victim will need to be removed, that may involve setting up another tank. Fish with the same body shape will be seen as competitors for the same food and feeding territory. Fish with the same colours as rival dominant males will be seen as sexual rivals trying to cut his grass. Cichlids that look similar to females of other fish in the aquarium will often be courted by males, especially if they have no females of their own to chase instead. Dominated males will often show colours very close to females to avoid more beatings. Dominant males may even force shows of submission like playing the girl in a game of doctors and nurses. In these cases consider removing one of the males or leave the poor guy as a safety valve to take aggression off the females. He is never going to be pretty while being dominated though but does make a very attractive ‘target fish’ for the alpha male to chase.

Plants and Algae OK let’s take a break from the Africans for a bit and move onto their nemesis, plants! If all your plants keep getting destroyed by your Africans or just dying and rotting, consider getting fake ones. They are almost as good and last a lot longer. Anyway let’s stick with the live ones for now. If the top of a plant dies, dig around in gravel and remove rotten roots/bulbs and stalks. These can make a tank go stinky if left to fester in the gravel. Many plants sold in fish shops are not real aquatic plants. A good rule of thumb is if it stands up out of the water it is probably more a swamp plant than 'under water' one. These bog plants can be good for displays with bad lighting or rough fish where the plant is doomed anyway, others are just striking or weird. Good examples include rush, purple waffle, baby palm trees, Madonna Lilly, spaths, and aluminum plant. Even lucky bamboo lives for quite a while in aquariums and makes a surreal ornament. All plants have there place; just expect these ones to live longer in potting mix than under water. Remove rubber bands around plants. Often they will damage important parts of the plant if kept in place. Adding some live plants is probably as effective as adding most bacterial in a bottle products at seeding your tank with helpful bacteria. Be careful to check plants for snails if you do not want them. Plants can remove so much ammonia during a cycle that little nitrite is ever produced. This is usually only successful in lower than pH7 tanks… the danger here is than in the event of a sudden pH shift upwards or a large release of ammonia (like uneaten food, dead fish, dead snails) the plants can be overwhelmed and the very small amounts of nitrite/ammonia eating bacteria take too long to build up in number to handle this ‘ammonia spike’ left over by the plants. An ammonia spike like this can create an ugly cloudy water bacteria bloom or deadly nitrite spike in bad cases. Growing plants is about many things. Science, aqua-craft and zen/voo-doo. Meld them together well and your tank will be a garden. There are 3 main chokepoints that can slow down operation 'prune the tank instead of buying replacement plants'. The first is light; plants need light to make their own food. They trap light energy and store it. To actually store it though the plant also needs carbon dioxide. This is less available under the water and people will often 'inject CO2'. It can be a low range cheap DIY or expensive computer controlled unit. Lastly plants need fertilizer (ferts). Dose with trace ferts to give plants an edge over algae and bury other ferts where plant roots can get at them but algae can't. If either light, co2 or ferts chokepoint that is as good as growth will be. Growing exactly what you want is a life long quest, but growing what survives is still fascinating. Plants are hard but easier in a pond, the sun rocks. Many aquarium plants like sword plants can be grown quickly out of the water outside in boggy areas and then submerged to make them grow their underwater leaves. This is a good way to grow LOTS of swords fast. Anubis can be grown in misted grow rooms, apparently it's easy to tissue culture but I have never seen it done. Place the bare roots of house plants like Pothos in the aquarium to remove nitrates and other waste nutrients from fish. They can even be planted inside waterfall (HOB) style filters. For a true monster try a monsteria delicio plant, the strange fruit are an added plus. Remember plants will grow towards lights. If you want to try growing cuttings of plants in tanks get them started in a bucket first. During the initial root development phase they will make the water super stinky! Put lights on timers to save power and reduce algae. If you do not have live plants the light can stay off while your not home. Dim room lighting is adequate for most fish. No tank needs more than 12 hours light. People are now buying remote control power boards which are another option. Growing plants as a nitrate control is called using a 'veggie filter'. There are many different species used for aquariums fresh and marine as well as ponds. You do have to remove the plant growth to remove the bioaccumulated nitrates though. If you let it rot or be eaten by the fish it will re-enter the nitrogen cycle. Caulpera algae(where legal), duckweed, java moss, taro, elodea, foxtail, mangroves and even a sweet potato or hydroponic lettuce can be used. The process of growing vegetables and fish together is called 'aquaponics'. Google it for more information or go straight to ‘backyard aquaponics’ and start to lurk. For now pour water change water on your veggie garden. Proven liquid fertilizer. Fake plants are always nice to buy. You can go some really striking colours like hot pink or dark blue that can bring a lot of drama to a display. If you want more authentic plastic 'fakes' you may need to rough them up by spotting them with a magic marker to age them. I have seen some great DIY silk plants and some rather average plastic ones but it's worth having a go. Sometimes you can get plants suitable for larger tanks from places that sell them for flower arrangement and decorating. Hello, I'm looking for lush ferns for my jack tank? Beware of sharp leaves they can skewer things like tetra. Others may have wire skeletons that can rust and get sharp, try to avoid them. If you would like to take a photo of your tank 'fully planted out' there are many land plants that can handle being submerged for a while before they die. I once dug up a heap of that dock plant from the backyard and setup a very authentic looking planted tank for 2 days. If you buy organic veggies even things like bits of broccoli can give you a Dr Seuss look for a bit, but don’t eat them afterwards! Growing throw away emergent plants like rush in the backyard is a good idea if you are constantly buying it only to throw away a few weeks later. If you are worried about how toxic a plant is but are set on trying, test with 1 fish first! You should almost always be right but I'd hate for you to wipe out your tank because I'd inspired you to try using a Christmas tree or something. Whether you get live or fake plants you are still likely at some stage to meet up with our old friend algae! Every http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Page 16 bloom has a cause. Whether it’s phosphates in your town water, high nitrates in your aquarium or too much sunlight from a window, there is a reason. Find the reasons and fix them and you won’t face the problem again!

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weeks later. If you are worried about how toxic a plant is but are set on trying, test with 1 fish first! You should almost always be right but I'd hate for you to wipe out your tank because I'd inspired you to try using a Christmas tree or something. Whether you get live or fake plants you are still likely at some stage to meet up with our old friend algae! Every bloom has a cause. Whether it’s phosphates in your town water, high nitrates in your aquarium or too much sunlight from a window, there is a reason. Find the reasons and fix them and you won’t face the problem again! For example, the brown bloom of algae in new tanks is diatomaceous. It is standard and a remarkable organism, getting in early with tap water. While a diatomaceous bloom can have many causes, it is very common in new uncolonized aquariums. With no competition from other algae, nothing to eat it and plenty of nutrients the algae blooms. Adding more light or even waiting patiently will usually solve the problem. Many more desirable algae’s seem to prefer to grow on top of diatomaceous algae in my experience. They serve as a 'pioneer' species. Bristle nose catfish love diatoms, they are perfect for cleaning up the 'new tank syndrome' brown bloom. Wait until you have the algae bloom and then buy your B/N. As long as you have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite it should be rather close to heaven for the little guy. Take a before and after photo. Bristle noses are the hardest working guys in the whole industry! Buying them a bit of driftwood to munch and hide under is a nice touch. If you run out of the algae they like to eat, a bit of veggie from the fridge on a stainless steel fork keeps them healthy. Marine tanks go through many algae blooms ending with the treasured coralline algae. Most marine environments are based on algae, but perhaps kelp forests are the best example. It is not something to be hated or feared. Manage your algae like you manage your lawn. ID your problem algae species and then find what eats/kills it, because there is surely something. If in doubt, do nothing. Most algae blooms run out of steam and crash in the end anyway. If you mass poison an algae bloom its entire rotting mass can overpower your filtration, the same thing is seen with poisoning thousands of snails at once. Reduction allows for more stable water conditions than all out war in most cases. Not every tank that’s tinted blue has medications in it. Blue lighting (actinic) can give the water a blue hue. There are also products on the market similar to blue food dye. These are used to tint water for fun or deny algae blooms certain light wavelengths slowing their growth. Algae growing in tanks can absorb medications, if you have delicate algae eating catfish it can be a good idea to scrape algae off after treatment to prevent it entering the fish via a food source. Algae itself is usually harmless to fish, it's humans that it offends. One of algae’s biggest enemies is snails.

Snails Snails are however another thing that offends humans easily with their mere existence. Snails often come in with plants, either as eggs or tiny stowaways. With available food, they can increase in population very quickly. They can be reduced in numbers by baiting containers with bits of raw vegetable (or fish food like algae disks) overnight and removing in the morning. It’s best to skip feeding for a day before trapping to get the snails hungry first. In big tanks a chunk of frozen prawn can work very well. Loaches, puffers and crayfish all enjoy them in their diet. It's best to avoid using chemicals to kill them. Lots of dead snails equal an addition ammonia load for filters to deal with. Small snails can get inside filters, ensure they don’t clog impellors with their dead in an extended black out situation. Best to clean canister filters if they are off for more than an hour as they can pump a dead bacteria soup back into the tank when they come back on making the situation much worse. I remove canister filter media, (give it a light clean in a bucket of aquarium fish) and spread it out in a few buckets (perhaps with airstones) in extended blackouts. Keeping your filter bacteria alive, is as important as keeping the fish alive. Many snails can reproduce by themselves but golden apple snails need a male and female. They lay their eggs above the water line and when they hatch the young mission on down to the water. The egg cluster can be removed and the young snails hatched in a plastic container with damp clothe to prevent having to hunt them down later. Apple snails are a common addition to community tanks, many pet shops will trade for them. With some careful breeding all sorts of colours can be developed. The invincible cone snail is a livebearer which is handy for them as many ‘snail kill’ chemical preparations target snail eggs. Removing a cone snail infestation is not easy, and living with them isn’t so bad. I think traps are the best compromise myself. You may not get them all, but it is little effort to remove most with an over night veggie trap. Feed fish lightly before trapping so snails are hungry. Gravel can be boiled or frozen to kill snails. This is better than using poisons. No use to people with amazing planted tanks though. If snails are breeding out of control in your tank you are over feeding. Either that or you have too many nice plants... lol. Other scavengers to compete for left over’s (like shrimp or catfish), feeding a less messy food or a reduction in feeding will all slow snail population growth.

Filters Let’s just backtrack for a second here and go right back to water, bacteria and filters. Fish are not adapted to "perfectly clean water", but more to ‘healthy water’. For most people biological filtration and small water dilutions are the best way to keep the water healthy. Using chemical filtration, carbon and the like to handle most of your waste load is very risky. Chemical filtration is a handy tool on occasion (like chemical water poisoning), but doesn’t have the “essential for fish life” importance of biological filtration in everyday aquarium keeping life. There are a lot of different filters around. The simpler powerheads with sponges, air powered and HOB waterfall style filters as well as protein skimmers and canisters amongst others. Never under-estimate the power of a simple cycled air powered sponge filter. Properly cared for with regular squeezings in a bucket of aquarium water they can last for years. They provide 'plume' water movement, average aeration and good bio-filtration. Not bad for a cheap filter. But best bit is, no moving parts to break. The humble air powered sponge filter can even be used in an advanced marine display. It only takes a minute to clean by rinsing/squeezing it in a bucket of water drawn from the aquarium it was running on. It may take half an hour to clean a canister filter although with their big capacity you don’t clean as frequently. Do mark cleaning dates on the calendar though as even though they seem to be ‘working ok’ very large amounts of mulm can build up and affect the aquarium water. If there is a blackout, dirty canisters should be given a clean in a bucket of aquarium water before restarting. Old dead bacteria colonies rotting in a filter that has been starved of oxygen can quickly foul water. With regular cleaning this is less of a problem but don’t be too rough idea is not to get them ‘clean’ but more get water flowing through the sponges well again. A cycled sponge filter (or pre-filter) attached to a battery powered air pump (the style used by fishermen for their live bait buckets) can be a cheap way for a fish tank to ride out a power blackout. You usually get many hours out of the 2XD size battery ones and despite the sound they make they do the job. If you have lots of http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html tanks an inverter for the car or generator backup may be a good idea to run your main pumps until the mains Page 17 / power comes back on. Check filters restart, most waterfall/HOB style filters will siphon dry and may not be able to restart once you regain power until you pour some water in.

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A cycled sponge filter (or pre-filter) attached to a battery powered air pump (the style used by fishermen for their live bait buckets) can be a cheap way for a fish tank to ride out a power blackout. You usually get many hours out of the 2XD size battery ones and despite the sound they make they do the job. If you have lots of tanks an inverter for the car or generator backup may be a good idea to run your main pumps until the mains power comes back on. Check filters restart, most waterfall/HOB style filters will siphon dry and may not be able to restart once you regain power until you pour some water in. If you can, get buried with your filter sponges and media. What I mean is don't go replacing them all the time. At the most only replace half the sponge or other filter media at once. If you remove it all and replace with fresh, the water will go milky as the sponge bacteria's nemesis 'the cloudy water' bacteria blooms. Keep your filter bacteria alive and they will keep your fish alive, your water clear and the tank free of bad smells. A good quiet air pump is a beautiful thing. Make it a priority. If your pump has started making noise, it is probably the rubber diaphragm that has perished. These are easy to replace in most models. Unplug before you mess with and do at own risk. A lfs worker may be happy to do for you if the tank can handle having the air gone for a little bit... or whip out your battery powered airpump to save the day yet again! Some models have replacement parts sold in complete screwed in arms. These are usually very expensive to replace. A simple rubber diaphragm is around $1 or $2 or so. Another problem may be the 'flapper valve'. These are sneaky little round thing bits of rubber, they provide a one way seal. If your pump is noisy and you need to sleep try placing the pump on a thick piece of Styrofoam, or hang it in a stocking, or put it in a Styrofoam box with lid that you have cut small hole in to let some air and cords in, or bite the bullet and stay awake posting on forums. Use 1 air pump connected to PVC to run all your filters. PVC often works out cheaper a meter than airline tubing. This is a very efficient way to run filters in a lot of fish tanks. So now you know how much I rate the air powered sponge filters. There are many other simple and efficient bits of technology used in fish tanks. One of the really clever ones is the protein skimmer. These also use air power although many use venturis rather than airpumps. I can’t talk about skimmers though without getting into marine tanks. So let’s take a quick detour to the sea!

Marine Marine fish are on the whole not harder to keep than freshwater fish, they need good food and well filtered warm water. With a healthy filter and regular partial water changes you can keep anything. 6 months sounds like a long time but nothing good happens really fast with marine tanks. Take your time, spread it out and you'll soon see that over its life time a marine tank averages out at not being that expensive. Well that can kinda depend on your taste in lighting though…. And heating through long winters is never fun. Buy quality skimmers, pumps, chillers, heaters and lights. The rest you can make yourself with a bit of planning. If you can’t collect your own salt water, instant ocean is a good mix. Top up evaporated marine aquariums with de-chlorinated FRESH water. It's best to have a hydrometer handy to measure the salt:water levels, But in a pinch topping up with fresh to the approximate line of evaporation will be close. Try to mark the tank if this is a method you may need to use. A floating hydrometer can smash on rocks at anytime. Using the most pure water possible will avoid adding extra pollutants that tap water can often contain and draw out water changes. This can also help keep the water ‘nutrient poor’ to stop algae blooms. Live rock makes marines tanks easy. How much depends on quality of rock, how you place it and what you are trying to achieve…. It has to look good too. I try to expose maximum surface area of live rock to maximum water current. This gives the bacteria living in the rock maximum territory to live and eat fish poo from. For this flat thin pieces, or branched bits are best. There are many ratios of liverock to water. Best to do some research yourself and see what you think. In thicker pieces, the centre of round bits of live rock and at the bottom of deep sand beds, live the bacteria that take the processed fish poo chemical nitrate and convert it to nitrogen gas. This reduces water changes and that’s always welcome. Having a balance of surface area bacteria to process fish waste to nitrate, and deep bacteria to process nitrate to nitrogen gas is the quest of many a reefer. If it's a big tank use more base rock and seed with live rock to keep costs affordable. Support man made rock where possible, always aim for a tank that does not impact on the wild. Man made rock is a good way to get the shapes you want without pillaging a reef. Given 6 months of algae growth you can rarely spot man made from wild collected rock. Most corals require good lighting, strong current and stable cool temperatures with feedings to really perform well. Anemones are also more challenging to keep than they appear. Master the basics before attempting to keep them. It’s a shame to get them all the way to your tank only to watch them die. Octopus, hermit crabs and crayfish do need lids. Most days they will be happy to chill out in the tank but some they will try to wander. It usually results in death for your pet. Octopus have no bones, they swing between tanks with the ease of a jellyfish. Crayfish may manage to crawl into a difficult to reach dark corner or even into the garden but their chances of survival are very slim. Keep ornaments, filters and heaters low enough to prevent your crabs or cray climbing out. When moving crayfish from tank to tank hold them upside down underwater before releasing to free air trapped in their mouths. If you keep octopus/crayfish/crabs/fish together someone usually gets hurt. Crays/crabs have to molt and fish sleep at night.... both are also vulnerable to octopus. It is possible to have a low maintenance saltwater aquarium to keep fishing catches in. Keep the fish legal sizes and eat them before they lose condition. Check the DPI fisheries site before you go fishing so you understand the rules and laws. Ignorance is no excuse. There is also a collector’s license you can apply for the paperwork for, that lets you use aquarium nets. Costs about the same as a recreational one. Many ‘food’ fish make amazing aquarium prisoners too! It is usually illegal to sell or trade these fish. You can have a marine tank with no sand, just liverock. Maybe have a sprinkle of white sand that you vacuum off in tank cleans and replace with fresh new sand. Things such as sand grain size, bed depth, water conditions and food available will determine what lives and dies in your marine sand bed. Even in a healthy bed it's often wise to re-seed with some live sand, a handful of crud from another marine tank or even some uncured liverock if your system can handle it. Many animals will be unable to breed in a marine tank and others will be out competed over time, so even the healthiest systems can benefit with the addition of more clean up crew every 12 months. It depends what you want, some prefer as much varied life as possible, others keep just coral and fish. To each his own. Bringing in wild rock always has risks, if your display is not worth risking and your happy perhaps leave it alone.

Skimmers Ah ha! Ya thought I forgot about the skimmers hey? You should be so lucky! If you are going to get a brackish or marine tank buy or make a good skimmer. Skimmers remove waste from the water BEFORE it can rot down to http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html ammonia and enter the nitrate cycle. Because you prevent nitrate even getting there in the first place Page it reduces 18 / water changes. Also clears up water and makes you feel better about the water your fish swim in. Skimmers are also quite possibly one of the best inventions ever. Full kudos’s to whoever invented them. Since then almost

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Ah ha! Ya thought I forgot about the skimmers hey? You should be so lucky! If you are going to get a brackish or marine tank buy or make a good skimmer. Skimmers remove waste from the water BEFORE it can rot down to ammonia and enter the nitrate cycle. Because you prevent nitrate even getting there in the first place it reduces water changes. Also clears up water and makes you feel better about the water your fish swim in. Skimmers are also quite possibly one of the best inventions ever. Full kudos’s to whoever invented them. Since then almost every problem with the first design has been solved or reduced by input from aquarists the world over. To daily remove a cup of stinking skimmate that your fish COULD have been breathing is a beautiful thing. Do they remove good stuff from the water as well as bad? Maybe but in most cases the benefits out weigh the risks. Protein skimmers are used in brackish and marine aquariums. They are handy to help keep nitrates low, reducing water changes and allowing you to keep more delicate life forms. Protein skimmers remove nitrogenous waste before it can go through the nitrogen cycle and become nitrates. They can be messy, need lots of adjustments and look ugly. But the science and effects are beautiful. You can use protein skimmers in brackish tanks. But you will need a hydrometer to make sure it's salty enough. Keep hydrometers clean and calibrated to keep results accurate. If you really need to be exact get one of those refract thingys. When using skimmers put some time into getting the height right, remember evaporation will mess with this perfect height. If you choose to begin a marine aquarium without a skimmer, the heavens will not open and strike you down. However I would focus on feeding quality foods, as this will help reduce water changes. No matter the ninja you are, water changes just have so many benefits. Even with skimmers, you still do them.

DIY Now many of you will already know I love making my own live rock out of cement and pool salt. Infact truth be told I like to DIY everything I possibly can. Many things are however too expensive to DIY when to buy is so cheap. Making small tanks often costs more in ingredients than it costs to buy new at a shop. Cost evaluate to see if you are saving money. Theres no harm in doing things for the experience, or to understand how they work, but DIY has a way of costing more if you’re not careful. Store your accumulated fish junk in big boxes or something neat. Better yet out of sight altogether. If you have a junk pile people will insist you throw most of it out. Accumulated fish junk is an essential part of inventing or modifying aquarium equipment. Defend it by making it look neat as possible this will fool many potential cleanerupper-er’s. Silicon handles to your lids. It makes them easier to move around but harder to stack. If the sound of falling water is annoying you try making a 'slip stream' style slope for it to run down. If one can be bashed up by me out of super glue and plastic from a milk bottle at 3am you can do it too. Other noisy outputs like spray bars can be pushed underwater and pointed slightly up to still disturb surface from below. Don't point up so high it fires onto carpet every time you drop the water level. If you have a waterfall filter in a tank prone to evaporation keep a top up container near it to keep it topped up and running silent. Make dim LED lights to simulate star/moon light so you can watch nocturnal catfish at night. Zip ties and rubber bands have a hundred uses in a fish room. So does plastic canvas, eggcrate, white plastic pipe, scotchbrite pads, super glue, clear hose….. You can buy air wood in strips and make your own. The stuff I bought was called 'Limewood'. $20 worth, some airline fittings, superglue, a drill and 30 minutes and I made $100 worth of air woods. Handy if your DIY a heap of skimmers. There are lots of silicon’s you can use to make aquariums, avoid any for bathrooms that contain anti-mold or fungal chemicals. These will kill your fish and build a death tank. Remember, only use “acetic cure” silicone. If in doubt ring glass aquarium makers and ask which silicons you can choose from with the custom tanks they build. You can mold your own clay ornaments. The trick is to find somewhere to fire them. Silicon aquarium gravel to the base of fake plants to weigh them down. Use pebbles in potted live plants to prevent fish digging them out. Fluidized sand bed filters (FBF) are easy to DIY and are excellent bio-filtration for tanks with changing bio-loads. They can also be used with chemical media inside them like purigen. Chillers are very hard to effectively DIY. You’re probably better off just buying a good one. UV is just downright dangerous, don't try to DIY. So yea not everything is suitable as a DIY project. There is one thing that is though and that’s media for your filter. Bacteria loves to grow on plastic, rolls of gutter guard can quickly, cheaply and completely fill a huge sump in seconds. You can also use porous rock or coral, certain cleaning pads, army men, foam and many other things. The important thing is lots surface area. Use a layer of floss to prevent debris clogging up the bio-media. Fine floss clogs quickly and has to be cleaned/replaced frequently. Filters that are a pain to clean can be packed with just larger pored foam and bio-media to increase running time before flow is reduced due to smaller pored foam or floss clogging. Do not feel locked into the filter media choice supplied with waterfall/HOB style filters. These are very easy to customize. Aim for a good mix of mechanical, biological and ease of clean. I think those disposable HOB filter carts are responsible for more deaths in aquariums than… well anything these days. Nothing like throwing out your whole filter bacteria colony every time ya clean the filter to send your tank to hell. I find big blocks of coarse foam and some porous bio media like noodles, coral, matrix, bio-balls, etc works well. You can even put air stones into the filter compartments to add more air to the guts of the bacteria colony. If the waterfall filter pump breaks it is easy to attach pipe to a powerhead and use it to run the waterfall filter as well. This is an easy way to double your filter media area. Google hamsburg filter (Hamburg Mattenfilter) for something elegantly simple. Consider buying fish filter foam in big blocks and cutting your own replacement bits. This is much cheaper than buying brand name sponges. To make holes in foam, freeze it in water and then drill it. Or use a heated knife and melt it. DIY projects are always fun, even just the research phase. There are hundreds of DIY sites but hey come over to the ‘Aquarium DIY’ group on facebook and say G’day! No matter the place you go looking for answers don't be afraid to ask for the simple version of an answer, like the 'what do I do?' part. Many people leave that out while telling you how smart they are. Sometimes scrounging is even more fun than making. The easiest things to scrounge are wood and rocks. Boiling driftwood quickly can leach tannins and help it sink. Boiling it in salty water may help even more. The brown tint to the water is not harmful to most fish provided the pH stays in a comfortable range. Water change to clear it, or buy and change lots of carbon. Nice types of driftwood I have seen before include mangrove root, hibiscus, grape vine, mulberry bark and many eucalypt species. If you have really heavy rocks don't put them in the tank until it has enough water to take the rocks weight. That way it will spread it out. Take care that fish cannot dig out under rocks and cause them to fall against glass. Breaking the bottom bit of glass by dropping a rock is the worst as it is the hardest bit to take out and http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html replace. Be careful. I prefer to use lighter more porous rock as it doesn’t displace as much water. Something Page 19 / Calvus put me onto is using plastic chopping boards when loading up tanks… good thing to stop any rock vs glass incidents chaos may toss your way.

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If you have really heavy rocks don't put them in the tank until it has enough water to take the rocks weight. That way it will spread it out. Take care that fish cannot dig out under rocks and cause them to fall against glass. Breaking the bottom bit of glass by dropping a rock is the worst as it is the hardest bit to take out and replace. Be careful. I prefer to use lighter more porous rock as it doesn’t displace as much water. Something Calvus put me onto is using plastic chopping boards when loading up tanks… good thing to stop any rock vs glass incidents chaos may toss your way. Beware of gravel from landscapers that may have been sprayed with chemicals as a precaution against fire ants. Fish tanks don't NEED gravel or sand on the bottom. Bare bottom tanks are easy to keep very clean. Paint the underside a dark colour to cut back on reflection. With a sand base waste can be sucked off easily enough with a normal hose. Run fingers through sand beds every now and again to prevent bubbles of gas building up. Use a fish net underwater to separate gravel or grit out of your sand if the vacuum disturbed your layer effect. Of course if this is a deep sand bed in a marine aquarium there are definite benefits to leaving it undisturbed. Crushed garnet sand can be bought from places dealing with sandblasters, once cleaned of dust this very heavy sand is effective at holding both live and fake plants in place.

Problem prevention OK enough fun stuff for now. Let’s look at everyone’s favorite ‘I told you so!’ subject. Problem prevention. A bit of prior planning and preparation prevents painful problems. Anyone who has kept fish for a while will have a moment where they wish they could go back a few days and undo a stuff up. Forgetting to dechlorinate, failing to quarantine and wiping out a display, unplugging filters or heaters or even purchases that eat all your other purchases. Time travel, while a perfect solution to most aquaria problems is highly controlled by the government. For this reason its use is restricted to a few aquariums in political, military and corporate facilities. The rest of us have to use prevention. Preventing aquarium problems may require patience and common sense. However you do avoid the stress and spending of money that most cures seem to involve. Also you are free to be as reckless and impulsive with the rest of your life as you wish. It’s just that avoidable mistakes made in haste at the start of an aquarium will effect the overall amount of enjoyment the aquarium will bring you long term. In short, keeping sick fish sucks. So sick fish suck, prevention is less of a pain really than cure and certainly less expensive. Avoid antibiotics unless you really need them. They develop worse fish diseases and kill filter bacteria. Many other treatments will kill filter bacteria, plants, snails, corals, worms, fish and anemone. Use a separate hospital tank if at all possible. Avoid shotgun medicating; it kills fish, plants, snails and filter bacteria. ID the nasty first then hit it with the exact treatment needed to kill just it. Disease organisms will usually only be a problem when the environment is more favorable to them than the fish. A balanced diet will keep fish’s immune systems up. A partial water change regime and good temperature control puts your fish in a great position to fend off most diseases. Avoid over crowding and remove old food and dead fish promptly. When you notice a disease, look to your basics and improve the weakest links. A fish in good conditions has a good chance at recovery. If you have the perfect tank. Avoid adding more fish. It can just create problems like disease or aggression. Consider another tank. If you’re doing alright and your fish are happy. Don't completely stop what you are doing and do something else just because someone said to. Even if they made perfect sense. Do some reading and work out why what you were doing was working. If the method is sound and your happy with it keep doing it. No need to stay old school for the sake of it but the fact something works well already warrants a pause to consider if it really needs to be changed drastically. If catfish start coming up and gulping air, oxygen may be getting low in the water. This behavior can be handy as an alert that all may not be well. If fish flash or rub on rocks don't panic. Be alerted something may be up but there are so many causes. A change in salinity or pH, a simple itch or parasite, a healing wound, high nitrates or territorial display. Sometimes it's just like clown loaches playing dead. They do it to freak you out. If you catch things in time by noticing changes in behavior you can fix them before they create drama. Systems where all the tanks are connected to a central filter have many advantages - increased water volume and the stability it brings, the dispersal of pheromones causing spikes in spawning activity and much more effortless cleaning and water changes. But their one problem is that disease can get through the whole setup. Separate tanks, while they require more maintenance are safer that way. Just be certain not to contaminate other tanks with hoses/nets/algaescrapers/sponges/fish/plants/driftwood etc. Some diseases can be airborne but even a spray of mist or droplet of water can spread a nasty. Healthy fish are normally ok in good water but there are a few diseases out there that can crush a system. If it’s a system with constantly changing fish, consider a good quality UV sterilizer as a sort of insurance. Research diseases your fish are likely to get. If you keep clown loaches or silver sharks white spot would be a good one to know about. With betta velvet is handy to know about and Trophius get bloat. Neon tetra are prone to neon tetra disease and guppies often die of guppy disease. It may say on the bottle it’s the solution to your problem but you’re better off finding what triggered the problem in the first place and making sure it doesn't happen again. Treating the same problem over and over and over is expensive and effort, two of my most least favorite things. Kids shouldn't be left alone to tinker with other peoples tanks. If you have your children in a fish shop or pet shop SUPERVISE them. They can do a lot of damage or worse be hurt themselves just mucking around. Yea, I know your kids are angels, I meant that other persons. Don't tap/knock/slap on fish tanks, it makes you look cruel because it is. In small tanks the hydro-shock can kill/injure small fish, breaking a large tank can kill you. If you ever doubt that shockwaves kill fish watch a pistol shrimp in action. They can not only kill fish and break glass but yea they can be annoying to humans. Don’t lower yourself to a pistol shrimp level unless you’re going to eat what you kill.

Fish Problem OK so despite all your careful prevention ya got a problem. Let’s look at a few of the more common problems that fish keepers face. If you lift a larger fish out of the water it will reflex open its mouth and you can check it for parasites. It pays to have good lighting, tipping an aquarium fluro on its side facing you can provide that. If you can get yourself a microscope you can diagnose many fish problems. Sacrificial fish autopsy can save an entire fish room. At the http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html 20 / very least I like to examine a piece of gill. It can tell you a lot and if it's crawling with worms or burnt byPage ammonia can be a smoking gun. Check out the microbes living in your tank water. There are thousands of species in most tanks. Only a very few of them are dangerous to fish but almost all them look very interesting. A nice mature

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fish keepers face. If you lift a larger fish out of the water it will reflex open its mouth and you can check it for parasites. It pays to have good lighting, tipping an aquarium fluro on its side facing you can provide that. If you can get yourself a microscope you can diagnose many fish problems. Sacrificial fish autopsy can save an entire fish room. At the very least I like to examine a piece of gill. It can tell you a lot and if it's crawling with worms or burnt by ammonia can be a smoking gun. Check out the microbes living in your tank water. There are thousands of species in most tanks. Only a very few of them are dangerous to fish but almost all them look very interesting. A nice mature aquarium can have a complicated and diverse micro food web going. Many newer microscopes like the trinocular ones let you attach a digital camera. This lets you get some great pictures of life you didn't even know you were keeping. A good fish disease book is VERY handy too! It's a lot cheaper to treat fish in a quarantine/hospital tank than in the main display. Less water to treat, less things to kill if they don’t like the medication. Remove fish from marine displays to treat them with medications that would kill inverts in the display. Parasites rely mainly on remaining undetected. Learn what they look like and look for them. Feeding time is a good chance to check over all the fish. If a fish is hanging back from food it may be sick. Check fins for spots. A bit of salt seems to help with parasites as many have a much lower resistance to it than fish. Salt is also very handy to help treat eye injuries. Eye wounds on fish usually look much worse than they are. As do heater burns and scratches on slimey catfish and loaches. Fish like corys and other scavengers can help cleanup missed food. Missed food can encourage snail or gravel worm population explosions. Gravel vac more if you have no scavengers. Gravel worms are like aquatic earthworms and not dangerous. Gourami and larger tetra enjoy eating them. Usually if you have a snail or gravel worm population explosion you are feeding too much!! They breed up in response to there being food they can scavenge. Feed smarter and gravel vac more. Levamisole Hydrochloride is a good way to internal worm fish. Buy the stuff sold for pigs and poultry for a more economical way to worm the fish room. The trick lies in working out how much to dose. Don’t worry about the water pH as it is not as important as once thought. This is a good med in that it is difficult to give a fatal dose. It’s cheaper to give the correct one though. Remember to re-treat and gravel vac over next 2 weeks to be sure you got them all. It is not effective against all worm types though. Praziquatral will kill many worm types that Levamisole Hydrochloride won’t but is less safe to other organisms and more expensive than Levamisole. If you worm your tank, you may need to kill all the snails to break potential breeding cycles. It depends on the problem worm species. Trematodes and such often have complex multi host breeding cycles, but if you can knock out one part of it and kill the adults they can be stopped. This is another good reason not to crush snails with your fingers, they can be carrying nasty’s. A sliver of snail shell in a finger can put you out of action, learn from my stuff up. It like really hurt and stuff, yet was a small enough injury at first to ensure zero sympathy! When fish are gasping at the top of the tank, check filter is running, water surface is disturbed, tank temperature is cool enough, did you use chlorine neutralizer drops?, test water for AMMONIA, does water smell?, are fumes/pesticides/smoke being pumped into aquarium via the air pump? If fish are on the bottom gasping check water is warm enough, did you use de-chlorinator?, test NITRITE, are fish just asleep?, did you just feed? Never panic. No matter what the situation, go into damage control. Post a help SOS on forums, ring a fish shop or mate. If a fish has jumped out hold it in the aquarium, face into a filter current. Sometimes you can revive them with PTMR (powerhead to mouth resuscitation). Things like catfish and eels just need a soak to come to life in many cases. If your aquarium water is toxic with ammonia or nitrite put fish in a bucket of de-chlorinated tap water sorta matched to temperature with an air stone. It's not perfect but it can be enough to save your fish. Damage done by exposure to ammonia and nitrite can be permanent so it's best to avoid it. If only one of the fish is dead or looks stressed it's likely that a disease, or a bully is responsible. When all the fish are stressed or gasping or dying it's usually something in the water. Water change quickly to dilute it. Be sure to check temperature is high enough and that you have enough de-chlorinator. When the biggest, strongest fish dies in the aquarium check the filters, temp and air first. Is the water surface disturbed? Test ammonia, nitrite and pH. Being the boss is stressful work and big fish need more oxygen. If you’re having deaths look to the basics first. Fish need clean filtered warm water and good food. Are you providing that? Are the fish stressed or fighting? Is one in the top corner gasping for life and trying to blend into the filter? It pays to just sit and watch the tank for a while. Fish will cease begging for food and go about their normal activity if you sit still for a few minutes in most cases. If they are still watching try spying on them with digital zoom on a camera. A killer can be hard to catch red handed if he knows to strike when your outta the room. A fish’s slime coat can be as important to the fish as your skin is to you when defending against disease and infections. Be careful not to damage it where possible. I have never used slime coat medications or products and noticed any benefit. Best in any case to preserve the one already on the fish as a priority. Some dips will strip this coat, as will rough netting or other fish attacking. Some strange slime problems are no problem at all though. Oranda goldfish often get a milky ooze on their cap and parent Discus will develop extra mucus. Both are natural and nothing to get worried about. It’s when fish slough the slime coat off in big chunks that you know there’s a serious problem. Injuries are hard to prevent. Turn room light on and then the aquarium light, this simulates a quick dawn, turn off aquarium light and then the room light to simulate a dusk. This can help nervous fish like silver dollars not bash themselves to bits freaking out at the sudden light change. If it continues it may be wise to remove all sharp ornaments. Black marks on fish, especially around the lips are kinda like bruising. Called melanophore migration it's where pigments are choke pointing as damaged tissue is being repaired. What it means is that damage has been done and is now healing. On the lips it often means the fish was fighting. It can show up after different periods of time so a fresh black marking may be from an injury sustained 2 weeks ago. A similar effect can sometimes be seen on fish that have been ‘burnt’ by exposure to ammonia. Torn fins usually heal up fine, don't stress. That said don't keep fish and turtles together or no fins won't be the fish’s only problem. Don't keep skittish or delicate fish with sharp rocks. Fish like silver dollars, Kadango and bubble eyes can easy hurt there eyes avoiding the net. Some fish will try and eat catfish which often ends in death for both as it wedges in throat. Wounds on the heads of catfish may be from fighting with other catfish. Puncture wounds from spines are another common catfish brawl injury. They get territorial too! Compatibility is a tricky thing. Having plants, animals and technology all playing nice together takes planning. Choose fish that don’t eat plants if you want plants. Choose fish that don’t fit in other fish’s mouths if you don’t want fish eating each other. Having a bit of eggcrate to divide off a corner of the tank for a battered fish while it recovers is a handy thing. Being stressed is no good for cichlids and makes them prone to disease. A fish that is always attacking other fish may seem pretty and healthy… but the stress of holding the territory can often make them more prone to disease as well. The lesson is fish at the top and very bottom of pecking order are under most stress. Black live bearing fish as well as black goldfish are very prone to tumors and cancers. Scientists are still amazed at how they can live for so long with huge cancers attached. Not much you can do once a tumor develops although there are some good pictures of operations on koivet.com and there are even fish that have been given chemo treatment! Fish with deformed spines may have fish TB. Many fish also get curved backs when they get old and senile. A good TB control plan usually starts with a brutal cull. Research what they do when it breaks out in danio breeding setups in labs. Do the same thing, their vets are probably paid more than you. Use alcoholic cleaners to sterilize http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Page 21 / equipment as bleach is ineffective. Check the fish’s diet, vitC deficiency can also cause spinal problems. If everything to do with water seems ok but fish are still agitated and looking stressed test the water for leaking

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chemo treatment! Fish with deformed spines may have fish TB. Many fish also get curved backs when they get old and senile. A good TB control plan usually starts with a brutal cull. Research what they do when it breaks out in danio breeding setups in labs. Do the same thing, their vets are probably paid more than you. Use alcoholic cleaners to sterilize equipment as bleach is ineffective. Check the fish’s diet, vitC deficiency can also cause spinal problems. If everything to do with water seems ok but fish are still agitated and looking stressed test the water for leaking electrical current. You may have a damaged wire somewhere. If it’s a marine tank and there is salt creep leading to the lights this can be a smoking gun as can cracked heaters and powerhead cords damaged by glass lids. If at all possible avoid any metal in marine aquariums. You don't always have to drag the sand with a magnet but there are things to avoid. Rocks that are obvious metal ores or 'slag' are big no no's. Some black sands and gravels are also full of metals. Stainless steel is OK but check impellors and other pump bits in contact with water. Bentonite clay is a very handy tool for removing random toxins from the water. Pond keepers call it koi-clay. You can buy industrial grade to seal dams or you can buy human eating grade at health food shops or fish grade in some aquarium products. The clay has a signature greasy feel when dry. It can be added to fish food and will give the fish a bit of a cleanse. Actually a remarkable product, even used at Chernobyl. It’s known by many as fuller’s earth. Its main drawback is it makes water cloudy until it settles. The settled water is often clearer than it was before though. Dose before going to bed to avoid seeing the tank cloudy. Can trigger spawning, a good subject to Google. Infact it is used by many hatcheries to stop eggs sticking and increase yields. Many fish keepers will be familiar with products like geoliquid that I’m thinking are bentonite based. If a dog has just had a flea treatment expect it to kill fish and shrimp if it jumps in your pond. Some people have a great rock they have used in a marine tank or found some where salty. Is it OK to add to a freshwater tank? Usually yes. If you’re worried about salt leaching soak it in a bucket but in most tanks it will safely dilute. It takes a lot of salt to turn water into marine water. Many add 1 tablespoon of salt per 20L to assist the fish’s osmoregulatory systems. Careful not killing all your corys using salt, they are not the biggest fans! Salt can also interfere with a fish’s ability to get oxygen from the water. This is important to keep in mind if you ever try to reduce the lethality of nitrite using salt. Get that aeration cranking to compensate! To treat whitespot I increase aeration and then nice and slow the heat (28 to 30 deg C), add white spot meds, some salt (1 tablespoon per 20L) and maybe some melafix. I remove driftwood with no plants on it (I find it absorbs meds) and also remove chemical filter media (carbon etc). Don’t add any clay treatments either as they will also remove the medications. Retreat once symptoms leave to break the breeding cycle. Velvet looks like white spot but is smaller and harder to get rid of. White spot looks like grains salt, velvet like gold dust. White spot outbreaks often come after a cold snap and may be a sign your heater is not working correctly. If you think it came from a new fish, go look at that tanl you bought it out of at the lfs. If other fish in there have it I would ask what they can do about the situation to make you a bit more impressed. Hopefully they didn’t realize it had the problem, but hey a discount on white spot meds and heater wouldn’t go astray. In future having learnt your lesson you will use a quarantine tank. One last thing with these treatments… at the end of a course of treatment, (maybe 3 or 4 medications 3 days apart with partial water changes before each re-treatment. So buy a big enough bottle of medication) it is a good idea to put a bit of carbon in the filter to remove some of the copper meds from the water. The carbon is exhausted after a week or so, but it’s nice to minimalise the heavy metals building up in the system. A bentonite clay treatment would also be a good way to clear the water after finishing the course of medication. Fin rot is a common name for many problems. In most cases in my experience the water has contained ammonia which damages eyes, gills and fins of fish. I don’t think any medications are going to help very much until the water quality is improved in these cases. This is common with betta kept without a filter. Always check you are not trying to keep a brackish fish like a mono or puffer in freshwater. If you do fungus style fin rot may be a problem. Low pH and high nitrates will also increase fin rot. Just be aware that this finrot may be flex.... While whitespot often follows fish getting a chill the dreaded flexibacter often follows a sudden rise in tank temperature. The problem with flexibacter infections is that not only do they look like fungus but that they can move so fast. While real fungus (the Saprolegnia) do often look cotton wooly, it usually only grows on wounds or eggs. Flexibacter (who is a gram-negative rod bacterium) is not that considerate and will happily munch into a living fish. In 24 hours a flexibacter infection can cause some serious damage to your tanks fish. Good drugs to treat can be tricky to find in time, and once fish stop eating hard to feed. Now the thing is, the problem bacteria is often floating around our tanks sometimes in huge numbers usually when there is left over rotting fish food in the water. Given the right aquarium water conditions and large numbers it can grow onto a fish and from there it gets nasty. Even in good water conditions a stressed fish can fall victim. So what are the right conditions? Well uncycled tanks especially those with large nitrite readings, or neglected tanks that need a water change and warm water with a low oxygen content. Fish in harder higher pH water such as mollies and even usually tough African cichlids can be prone but flex is traditionally a goldfish and summer disease. Just be aware that not all diseases respect tradition these days. Probably something to do with the drop in family values among young people. Maybe things will be better under Kevin? What does it look like? Well under a microscope it's these things sorta piled on top of each other but with the naked eye looking at fish it can range from white fuzzy faded fungus looking patches over the body, flakes of skin or fins rotting away, saddle like fuzz on the back of fish (Molly disease), mouth fungus/rot and in bad cases septicemia infections through the fishes body. First comes the white fuzzy/cloudy stage, then patches develop an angry red looking outline usually within the day and from there on it can turn into a horrible orange ulcer. These often circular ulcers can kill any fish if the infection goes deep. Because some strains are so nasty you really do need to move fast. There’s often no time to make a 100% ID that it is actually flex, so at the risk of jumping the gun it’s often best to start a treatment at first sign. The only tip off of an infection may be your fish is slow and has lost its appetite. Or it may have white patches. If you can remove the effected fish to a hospital tank. First try drop temp below 25 C, cease feeding tank and increase aeration. If the fish is still eating and you can get some, feed it food soaked in oxytetracycline. However lack of appetite is a common symptom and this leaves treating the water. Good broad spectrum treatments for this gram negative bacteria include malachite green, tetracycline and pimafix. What ever you use beware of the damage it will do to your biological filtration over a continued treatment of around 10 days. As always it’s much easier to move sick fish to a separate hospital tank to treat, and safer for the still healthy fish. Because this disease grows so fast at higher temperatures, if your fish can handle a bit below 25degC for a bit it may just save their life. I have used 24 deg C water and meds (acriflavine and malachite green… nothing fancy) with good results with a group of peacocks that seemed beyond help. You really got to nail this one fast though, sure colder water can slow it down but some strains can kill ya fish in a day. As always prevention is better than cure but it pays to be on the lookout for it if the tanks ever get a bit warmer than usual… just like you’d keep an eye out for ich if they got a chill. It is worth doing more research on current treatment methods as this can be a really savage fish disease to tango with. So nice to have latest tactics. However this disease can really look like many others. While I usually recommend getting a disease ID perfect and treating with the exact med… flex, flex can be a case of using a broad spectrum and hoping for the best. Get filters working well and maybe tweak temperature….

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Fun


Fun OK now that was a nice depressing read! Let’s move onto something a bit more…. Happy. What can possibly cheer me up after reading about all the things that can go wrong I hear ya whinge. Well chin up sunshine lets look at some stuff that has put a grin on me face in the past! Fish/octopus can be trained to expect to be fed when played pantera if you’re willing to play it when throwing in live feeders for a month. Starfish the brainless wonders can be taught to beg for flake…. Sociologists study cichlid pairs to work out why we all act like we do in relationships. There’s nothing wrong with doing a bit of a look at some of the experiments that have been done and trying to do them again. Try searching for burtoni first perhaps. Anyone can see that fish watch us, but when you read some of the experiments that have been done you can see how the world works through fish eyes. Well worthy. Use metal halide lights to create awesome wall light ripples. It can really give a room a... nice look. Expensive to buy/ maintain/run but that wall ripple makes it all worth it. Bored with the same old fish? Try taking a snorkel in a local beach/river or creek. Sometimes you never realize just how lucky you are to live where you do and be a fish keeper. Tandanus catfish are worth a lot in England, here you can go snorkel and be attacked by them. I once caught an empire gudgeon in a drain behind my house that was the star of the fish room; truly a beautiful red fish and something I never realized could be living in such a muddy ditch. Try to view your local species with a new eye. You may find the perfect fish for you doesn’t need to come from the other side of the planet. The big lesson is that something can be common, cheap and cool. Price is more a marker of the market demand and supply than anything else. Heck I was halfway to setting up a full blown reef when I discovered just how much ass bullrouts kick. If however you keep cichlids or any other fish from exotic far off locals, try watching a video of them in the wild. A good one for Tangs might be 'Jewels of the rift', for devils and convicts 'Cichlids from the crater'. Seeing fish in native surrounds often explains their sometimes confusing behavior. It can even be a bit of a thrill watching divers navigate underwater caves from forest to sea through schools of Mollie! There is a technique of giving your reef tank a shot of vodka to keep algae down. Doesn't have to be vodka but it's a nice thought. This helps nitrate to break down. Another good one to Google. Remote control submarines can be a good way to enjoy a fish tank with kids. Ensure the brands you get don't clash on the same frequency. Try towing food around or racing to retrieve a hoop with grapples. Many new ones have multiple LED lights. They are more controllable in less current and may need ballast adjustment. Puffers also amuse kids as do jacks, nemos, lawn mower blenny, bubble eye goldfish and bumble bee goby. Sure there’s more but aside from spawning cichlid pairs butting the glass those were probably the top scorers. Bristle nose fed too much pumpkin will change colour to a more orange hue. Apparently you can use water dyes to colour crayfish more blue, but didn't work for me and I even used magic blue! For different people aquariums mean different things. Whether you think of art, a pet, a science project or a living garden when you think of an aquarium the end picture is up to you. This is a fluid, rapidly changing hobby - what was impossible yesterday, may very well be possible tomorrow. Every day brings a new variety of fish/plant or filter. It can be easy, however strange it may seem, to go from a fish keeping hobby to fish keeping lifestyle. Use your fish tank to display your rock (or plastic dinosaur) collection. As always if worried use a cheap tester fish first. I’m sure you can combine your other interests with fish just as well. Although what could be more thrilling than collecting rocks and plastic dinosaurs I cannot imagine.

Rules Alrighty then! My most requested brain vomit has always been a few simple rules that can kill the joy right out of keeping fish. I usually just quote back a line that I have no idea who wrote. ‘Rules are for the obedience of the ignorant and the guidance of the wise.’ But hey let me have a try at controlling your life anyway! Hmmmm… Never release fish in creeks. EVER! It just causes so many problems. Please don’t. This goes for oceans as well. Feral lionfish are already a problem in some areas. Inch of fish ‘per gallon of water’ or ‘per inch of surface area’ rules were attempts at idiot proofing tank stocking. They failed. It's up to you to estimate. Remember big fish use much more oxygen so need more surface area. Big fish also produce a lot of waste so you need a lot of volume to dilute the waste and draw out water changes. Warm water holds less oxygen, increase aeration on hot days or during medication. Keep a spare bottle of de-chlorinator on hand..... It can be the difference between a water change and dead fish. Remember life support priorities, the fish need to be able to breathe clean non toxic water. It needs to be a stable comfortable temperature, and something needs to be done about fish waste as soon as it is created. The pretty fish is always the first to die. Take advice onboard but don't let too many people tell you what to do in YOUR fish tank. An aquarium can be about expression and what you want. It's a chance to make an entire world that relies on you for.... everything. SO do what you like so you are bothered looking after it and looking at it. Take care not to be cruel and that’s about the only restriction. At the same time don't feel bad imitating another aquarist. We all do. That is the way of doing what works. Nothing wrong with doing what works either. Just try to do it better! Fish do not grow to the size of their tank. They grow faster in better conditions. While with overstocking and bad water conditions the fish will grow slow, it is because they are being stunted and will have deformed adult shape and reduced lifespan. Human babies shouldn’t drink water high in nitrates and neither should baby fish! While it is doubtful your fish will achieve the maximum size recorded in the wild, its well worth considering adult sizes when buying. Plants produce less oxygen with less light and produce none in darkness. Ensure filters are left running 24 hours a day to keep bacteria and fish alive, do not rely on plants to provide oxygen for fish. You want a nice rippled water surface, that’s the real money maker! If you want to try something but aren't sure if it will kill your fish try it on one cheap expendable fish first. The fish you need to catch will be under the last ornament you don’t want to move.

Goodbye! I hope you enjoyed that read. I certainly increased my two finger typing speed typing it all out. I will leave you now with a final thought. Keeping fish in glass boxes can make you appreciate just how incredible the outside world is. Often aquariums are peoples only contact with fish and it's through them they learn to lovePage them. 23 / http://qldcichlid.com/forum/index.php/page,38.html Through keeping fish you can develop an opinion on what is happening to their native habitat, how you feel about genetic tinkering, dying, tattooing, colour enhancing, robbing eggs, over crowded tanks in pet shops..... and all

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I hope you enjoyed that read. I certainly increased my two finger typing speed typing it all out. I will leave you now with a final thought. Keeping fish in glass boxes can make you appreciate just how incredible the outside world is. Often aquariums are peoples only contact with fish and it's through them they learn to love them. Through keeping fish you can develop an opinion on what is happening to their native habitat, how you feel about genetic tinkering, dying, tattooing, colour enhancing, robbing eggs, over crowded tanks in pet shops..... and all the other things fish keepers at one stage develop an opinion on. It's also a good way to teach kids about the variety of life on this planet. A modern community tank can contain species from many an exotic country of the world. A true world wide zoo! Just keep your de-chlorinator full, your test kits dry and may god have mercy on your power bill. Rock on amigo :)

Credits Well first up is our admin here. Mr Calvus! He copped this post in its initial '330 things ya mum never told you aout keeping aquariums' format. It was his words that led me to turning this into an article. He also helped me with the first edits which as you can imagine were scary. There are some great forums full of great Australians but 'Scales and Fins' stands out having worked extra hard to help us the hobbyists. Thank you to all the members who have helped make this place what it is :) Lise Nielsen read over this thing and gave me the nod to post it. If its good enough for a legend viking its good enough for anyone! "Thanks to Gerry (Dragon) for the contents suggestion and thanks to Calvus for making them!" Hilly was responsible for the name! A good name it is too! Thanks mate, my loud mouth and your wit are a potent combo indeed To Kim, Karen and Kevin... my past lfs bosses. You guys trusted me for years with your fish rooms and countless orders. Always happy to let me order in something new, test out products and stay late to tinker. I owe so much to your encouragment, trust and paychecks. The fishkeeper that writes this was party forged under your patronage. To all my customers that have taught me, not tapped on tanks or said thank you... I take off my hat to you.Likewise to the thousands of people I have chatted with in forums and usenet, or have just trawled through their experiences... everyone of you has helped keep my fish alive and kept my faith in the fishkeeping brotherhood. There are no guru's in this game just good students!! Copyright © 2008, Dead Fish Floating

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Dead Fish Scrolls  

Basically just me typing out what I tell new fish owners. Its not very organised yet, the next version will be a lot different BUT it certai...

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