White Worm Culture (Enchytraeus albidus)

Paul Bachhausen [ CC BY-SA 3.0 de ]

Paul Bachhausen [CC BY-SA 3.0 de]

White Worms, Enchytraeus albidus, are commonly cultured by aquarists as a form of live fish food. The wiggling motion of the White Worms in water makes them irresistible to even the pickiest eaters. The various applicability and acceptance of White Worms has led to its widespread popularity. The first large scale production of Enchytraeus albidus was conducted by the former Soviet Union in the 1940’s. When the high nutritional value of White Worms were discovered, they were readily applied to enhance the increasing efforts in fish culturing. The relative high protein content made the White Worms worthy of a weekly production of up to 300 kilograms, mainly for use as juvenile sturgeon feed. Extensive studies on the nutritional value and cultivation of White Worms were conducted in the former Soviet Union during this period. Today, Enchytraeus albidus are commonly used as a standard test organism in various biological and toxicological studies. Since White Worms are sensitive to chemical contamination and other stress factors, their population level and gene expression is used to determine the effects of stressors on the environment. In the aquaculture industry, White Worms are commonly cultured in various sectors as fish feed. Large scale production is implied to integrate White Worms in formulated fish diets as a quality stock enhancement. Live forms of White Worm are commonly used for feeding smaller specimen or juvenile specimen via worm feeders. Besides fish, White Worms are also used to feed frogs, newts, reptiles, birds, and larger invertebrates.

Size

  • Length: 20 mm

  • Diameter: 1 mm

Nutritional Value

  • Protein: 70%

  • Lipids: 14.5%

  • Minerals: 5.5%

  • Carbohydrates: 10%

The use of White Worm for fish is very extensive. In fact, White Worms are one of the most valuable source of live food for fish and fish fry. The high protein content of White Worms enables peak growth rates for the most robust specimen. The particular size of White Worms makes them suitable for feeding fish that have outgrown smaller fish food such as Microworm, Baby Brine Shrimp, and Grindal Worms. The White Worms nutritional value consisting of high protein content makes them a great candidate for conditioning fish for breeding conditions. Spawning behavior of various species of fish can be triggered with the aid of White Worms. Since oligochaetes constitute a significant portion of food for fish in the wild, White Worms are a suitable food source to help mimic such natural environments.

 
 

White Worm Culture

Enchytraeus albidus are hermaphroditic, with each individual specimen consisting of both male and female reproductive organs. Each specimen will produce a cocoon filled with eggs. While cocoon produced by younger specimen contain only about 10 eggs, mature specimen will produce cocoon with over 20 eggs. There have been reports of cocoons with up to 35 eggs. The egg filled cocoon hatches in 12 days after fertilization. Within the next 20 days, the newly hatched offspring will start to produce cocoons as well. An average White Worm will produce approximately 1000 eggs in their lifespan. In ideal conditions, White Worms can reproduce very rapidly and increase their population exponentially. In order to establish a successful White Worm culture, it is important to understand the necessary parameters. A White Worm culture care must not be neglected in order to constantly produce a high volume of fish food. Productive cultures can provide an abundance of high quality live fish food and routinely feed an entire fish room. White Worms must be maintained in a cool dark environment. The optimum White Worm culture temperature range is 12 – 21 °C. The higher range of the scale will result in faster maturity. However, production will slow down past 21 °C and the population will decrease with temperatures nearing 30 °C. White Worms will also die at temperatures nearing 0 °C. Wine chillers and small refrigerators can be used to effectively control the temperature of a culture year round. A variety of containers can be used to culture White Worms. One popular option for White Worm cultures are shallow wooden boxes. Wooden materials allow great moisture control and aeration at the same time. Wooden boxes can be constructed from pine or plywood. Alternative materials such as plastic and Styrofoam containers can be used as well as long as proper drainage and ventilation is provided. The ventilation holes should not exceed 2 mm in order to prevent contamination. An alternative method to small ventilation holes is to provide a larger opening with a sponge or cloth barrier. Since plastic and Styrofoam materials prevent air flow, it is necessary to routinely mix the culture media. Another important component of the culture container is the lid. The lid will prevent contamination of insects such as ants, beetles, flies, and mites. More importantly, the lid will block light as White Worm dislike any form of light. In order to satisfy this condition, transparent containers should be largely avoided unless the culture will remain in a dark environment. White Worm culture media should contain a high portion of organic matter. A pH of 6.8 – 7.2 is considered the optimum range, resulting in peak production levels. White Worms will not survive any acidic soils with pH levels below 5. In order to provide such conditions, there are various types of White Worm culture medium that can be used. The most common type of culture media for a White Worm culture is a soil based media. This consists of a 1:1 mixture of soil and peat moss. Potting soil with any addition of chemical fertilizers, sterilizers, or pesticides should be avoided as it will ultimately be passed onto the fish. Soil with a sandy or clay-like texture should be avoided as it will not provide proper aeration. Light soil with a mixture of coarse material is suitable as it will remain loose under moist conditions and provide adequate air flow. Soil for plant seedlings are specifically designed to maintain moisture and remain loose at the same time. It is recommended to test the acidity of the mixture before application for best results. If the soil pH is acidic, the ratio of the peat moss can be reduced. The acidity can also be reduced by boiling the peat moss prior to adding it into the mixture. The latter method is more favorable as the ratio of the mixture will not be altered. While peat moss can slightly lower the pH of the culture media, it is highly beneficial to the culture as it provides superior moisture retention and control. If the soil in the culture media is from an outdoor source, it should be thoroughly searched for any contamination before adding it to the mixture. Small insects and larvae in the soil should be removed. Since outdoor soil often contains many small organisms such as mites that are difficult to detect to the naked eye, it is recommended to dry the soil out completely to get rid of them. In order to thoroughly dry out the soil, spread the soil out to a thin layer under strong sunlight for a few days. A quick way to get rid of small mites in the soil is the microwave the soil. Purchasing the soil may be easier since soil from hardware stores and garden centers are treated prior to packaging. It is possible to culture White Worms with a soil-less culture media as well. Some of the options for a soil-less culture media include coconut fiber and sponge. The advantage of soil-less culture is the ease of maintaining cleanliness. However, a soil-less culture generally requires more attention and frequent maintenance since it lacks moisture retention. For White Worm cultures, the culture media should be maintained very moist at all times. Thus, the application of an inner surface cover is helpful. The surface cover can make harvesting the White Worms easier as well. Any flat material such as a thin piece of glass or plastic can be gently applied on the surface. The moisture retention is crucial since dry culture media will result in lower production rates and will ultimately result in the culture crashing. However, the moisture level must not be too wet either in order to maintain necessary air flow. A wet culture will produce an anaerobic environment which will also cause the culture to crash very quickly. Thus, a moist culture media with aeration must be maintained at all times. White Worms should be fed at the surface of the culture media for better monitoring of the culture condition and easier harvesting as well. By placing a flat piece of glass or plastic on the feeding surface, the food underneath will maintain the necessary moisture for the White Worm to feed on it. The feeding amount should be relative to the size of the population in the culture. Overfeeding must be avoided as an excess of food can rot and cause a variety of issues. At the same time, White Worm cultures should not be left without food for extended periods of time in order to maintain peak production level. Thus, the key is to provide small frequent feedings. Small frequent feedings are especially important for newly establishing cultures. The type of food can also determine the amounts of food that can be fed. Foods that are prone to rapid deterioration should be fed to only last a couple days. On the other hand, foods less prone to rotting such as dry food can be fed in larger quantity to last longer. The following is a list of food that can be fed to White Worms:

  • Bread Soaked in Milk/Yogurt

  • Oatmeal

  • Trout Feed

  • Dry Cat Food

  • Mash Potato

In order to harvest White Worms lightly place a flat material on the surface of the culture. By placing a source of food under the flat material, White Worms will gather in the area and climb on the surrounding flat surface. In order to harvest, lift the flat material and scrap the worms off the surface. Alternatively, if a mesh surface is placed on the surface, the White Worms will gather in a mound on the top of the mesh where the food was placed. This method is highly efficient since it make it possible to collect a large amount of White Worms without the soil. It is advisable to feed White Worms in a bare bottom tank. Otherwise, feed slowly through a pipette or a worm feeder. White Worms will remain alive in underwater for several hours. As with all foods, uneaten White Worms should be removed in order to prevent water pollution. Lastly, one must be careful not to overfeed since fish will greedily feed on White Worms. Regular maintenance is crucial in order to maintain peak production levels in a White Worm culture. Without regular maintenance, a culture can quickly crash resulting from various issues. While examining a White Worm culture, it is important to pay special attention to the moisture level of the culture media. If the soil is too dry, the worms will burrow deep into the soil and ignore the food. When the soil is too wet, aeration of the culture media may be affected. In addition, it is important to regularly monitor the food level and any other irregularity. Some of the common issues with White Worm cultures are mites and mold. White Worm mites are very common especially in cultures with a soil based medium. While it can be difficult to completely eliminate mites in a soil based culture, mites population can be controlled effectively through a variety of methods. While manually removing individual mites can be a tedious task, clumps of mite populations can be removed while they are congregating on a food source. Another method of removing mites in White Worm culture is to temporarily flood the entire culture. Mites can be effectively removed from the culture as they float on the surface of the water. For a culture with excessive mites, re-culturing may be a better option. While removal of mites are necessary at times, the key is to control the population of mites by moisture control and preventing excessive food left over. In order to achieve a completely mite-free White Worm culture, a soil-less culture is more realistic. Another common issue with White Worm culture is mold. Similarly to mites, mold can be controlled by moisture control and preventing excessive food left over.

Posted on July 23, 2019 and filed under Journal, Guide.

Guppy

guppy.jpeg
Scientific NamePoecilia Reticulata
Common Name(s)Guppy, Millions Fish
OriginCentral America to Brazil
Temperature Range72-79°F
pH Range7.0 – 8.5
Adult Size2 – 2.5 inches, males are generally smaller than females
DietOmnivorous

Guppy Facts

  • Guppies do not lay eggs. As livebearers, guppies give birth to free-swimming baby fry.

  • A female guppy can give birth to fry approximately every 28-35 days.

  • There are many different types of guppies with different colors and shapes.

Guppies are one of the most best-known tropical fish in the aquarium hobby today. While they were introduced to aquarists over a century ago, they remain very popular to this day. Guppies are relatively easy to take care of, making them a great choice for novice aquarists. They are generally very hardy and able to accept a wide range of conditions in an aquarium. While taking care of guppies is not difficult, they appear with many different color forms and tail shapes. The art of breeding different strains of guppies makes them attractive for advanced fishkeepers as well. Once you set eyes on one of these magnificent little fish, it is very easy to understand why they are so popular.

Guppies are named after the English naturalist John Lechmere Guppy. When he brought the fish from Trinidad to England in 1866, the fish was named Girardinus guppii in his honor by Günther, a famous zoologist who was the head of the British Museum at the time. However, guppies were collected by a German zoologist J. L. Peters years earlier in 1859. Peters named the fish Poecilia Reticulata, which takes priority today.

Guppy Care

Guppies are hardy little fish and do not require much special care. While fancy tank setups are not required, basic care and regular maintenance will be necessary. Due to their long fins you must be aware of other aggressive fish that may become fin-nippers. In addition, the nitrogen level must be kept low in order to prevent fin rot. For the same reason, guppies should only be introduced to established aquariums.

 
 

Feeding Guppies

Guppies are omnivorous so they will appreciate a varied diet. They are not picky eaters and they can certainly survive one type of flake food alone. However, a varied diet will aid in raising healthy happy guppies. Other than commercial food, live food will be greatly appreciated. In nature, they commonly dwell on mosquito larvae and other small insects. Small amounts of live plants such as duckweed may be beneficial as a part of a balanced diet as well. Guppies should be fed sparingly and often. Feeding once or twice a day as much as they can consume in 2 - 3 minutes is recommended.

Guppy Varieties

The different types of guppies available today are tremendous. Guppies come in various colors, shapes, and sizes. Many categories and classes are present according to their colors and shapes. They are often compared to Nishikigoi in that while they are seen in a number of recognized varieties, their coloration and pattern variations are limitless.

Posted on June 5, 2019 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Koi Fish (Nishikigoi)

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Scientific NameCyprinus carpio
Common Name(s)Nishikigoi, Koi, Fancy Carp
OriginCentral Europe, Eastern Asia, Japan
Temperature Range59-77°F
Water ParameterspH 7.5-8.0
Adult Size15-30 inches
DietOmnivores feeder. Feed pellet, insects, shrimp, rice peas, watermelon.

Koi Fish Facts

  • Koi fish can regularly live to be 70 years or more, making them lifelong pets.

  • Koi fish are very intelligent. They can be trained to take food from the hands of a person and can recognize the person who feeds them regularly.

  • There are over 80 different variations of Nishikigoi.

Koi Fish Overview

The word “Koi” is a Japanese word meaning "carp". These fish were originally raised for food by rice farmers. However, when they noticed that some of the fish had developed color mutations, they decided to keep the fish and continue breeding them. The word "Nishikigoi" in Japanese refers to these carp that have colors and patches and are raised as ornamental fish. In Japan, it symbolizes wealth, love, success and good fortune.

koi fish nishikigoi.jpeg

Koi is a cold-water fish and originate in Central Europe and East Asia. They are hardy and highly adaptable. Likewise, the domesticated Nishikigoi can be acclimated to various climates and water conditions.  Koi fish and Goldfish have the same ancestor, the carp. They have similarities with some varieties of Goldfish such as the Common Goldfish and Comet Goldfish. They can have similar body shape and color. This makes it difficult to tell the difference between the two as juvenile or fry. One obvious feature that distinguishes the Goldfish and Koi fish is the presence of prominent barbels on the lips.

Due to their bright colors, they are easily noticed by different fish devouring predators such as Herons, Kingfishers, raccoons, cats, and hedgehogs. To mitigate this, Koi fish breeders often make use of ponds that are too deep for herons and build barriers around the koi ponds that are too high for the mammals to cross over. Koi fish are also sensitive to the sun. They can easily get sunburned, so providing adequate shade is important. Koi fish is docile in nature, and can only be raised with breeds of fish that are also docile. Under ideal conditions of proper diet, oxygen, and adequate temperature, koi can grow 2 cm per month. The domestic Koi are capable of growing up to approximately 15 inches long while the Japanese Koi can grow up to approximately 30 inches in length. 

Koi fish are omnivous and they are not picky eaters. They will readily consume a wide variety of treats which includes cooked rice, orange slices, grapes, watermelon, garlic, broccoli, and lettuce. They will also graze on insects and snails in the pond. While treats are readily accepted, commercial koi food is a convenient way to ensure a balanced nutritional diet. There is a wide selection of off-the-shelf feeds available on the market today. For example, there are koi feed that are designed to enlarge the body or feed specifically designed to bring out the beautiful colors. Hikari koi food is some of the best koi food on the market today.

Koi's mouth part has been naturally configured for bottom-feeding at the pond. While they do graze the bottom of the pond regularly, they have no issues feeding on floating food. This allows them to come to the surface to feed. Feeding time should also be used to check for the presence of parasites and ulcers on the fish. Feeding is not recommended when the water temperature is below 50°F. Koi fish do not have a stomach. The food that they eat go directly from the esophagus to the bowel. This means that they cannot keep the food in their system for a very long time. Therefore, it is best to give small amounts of food frequently, rather than giving a large amount of food all at once. Small feeding 3 to 6 times a day is recommended. An automatic pond feeder can easily make this possible.

Koi fish have a long lifespan and they can live for many decades, while some live for over a century. The oldest koi recorded in history is the legendary koi named Hanako that live from 1751 to 1977, living a total of 226 years. Similarly to the rings on the bark of an evergreen tree, the microscopic growth marks on the scale of the Koi fish can be used to tell the age of the Koi fish.

Due to its beauty and wide-spread popularity, the koi fish is now bred in many countries. They are being enjoyed by many enthusiasts from all over the world.

Nishikigoi and Koi Variety

Koi fish can display beautiful striking colors with many different patterns. As breeding techniques have advanced, many variation of the Koi fish have been developed; common colors range from blue, black, red, white, yellow, and cream depending on their variety. There are over 80 different variations of Nishikigoi, and these varieties can be distinguished by their color, escalation and body pattern. To this day, different varieties of Koi fish are still being developed. Currently, the International Nishikigoi Promotion Center specifies 26 fixed varieties of Nishikigoi. This includes Kohaku, the oldest and most well known variety of Nishikigoi.

Posted on May 11, 2019 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Badis Badis

Scientific NameBadis badis
Common Name(s)Badis, Dwarf Chameleon Fish
OriginPerciformes order, Badidae family, India, Nepal
Temperature Range68-75°F
Water Parameters<15 dGH, pH 6-7.5
Adult Size50-60mm
DietLive food: Worms, insect larvae, zooplankton, daphnia, artemia

Badis Facts:

  • Did you know that male Badis Badis fish are regularly traded for breeding purposes, due to the high intensity of the colors they can potentially emit? Many breeders try and use this for their own breeding to create vibrant fish from other species.

  • The diversity in the amount of eggs planted by the mother is incredible – there can be anything from 30-100 eggs in any one spawning session.

  • Before the year 2002, we only knew of five different forms of the Badis Badis fish. However, today we know of more than fifteen different parts of the family.

Species Overview:

This is a small, predatory fish that feeds on a variety of tiny invertebrates such as worms and insect larvae. The colorization of these fish can intend entirely on the mood of the fish – when comfortable, it can be extremely rich and vibrantly colored. They hold a lot of value for some people as not only are they strong aquatic pets to have, but they make brilliant breeding partners due to their immense colorization abilities.

Otherwise known as a chameleon fish because of its ability to change color, they have long been wrongly classed as part of the Nandidae fish family. It wasn’t until 1968 that they were actually separated into a new family altogether, such was the variety found within the ranks of the Badis Badis.

They tend to stick to wider, shallow streams – and are especially fond of those that run through rice fields. They tend to prefer turbid water that has low flow and submersed vegetation to feast upon. Therefore, you will find quite a large portion of these fish running up and down the Dibru River. They can get to as much as 60mm in size, so if you are really looking in the right places you should be able to spot a few.

They have been found all across the East in countries like Nepal and India, with similar fish found in countries like Bhutan, Thailand and Pakistan. It’s estimated that around 19 million years ago, these fish would have been part of the Ayeyarwardy River populace of fishes, and eventually made their way down here to prevent their species from being wiped out.

Their innate ability to change color makes them stand out in the world of fish, and if you are looking to find a species that really does separate itself from many of the more common fish readily available, then this might be the one for you. Its rare abilities mixed with the fact that we don’t know everything about this family of fish lends a certain air of mystery to them, creating a unique attraction for fish owners who want something a little bit more unique than the usual selection of fish most aquarists settle for.

Posted on November 1, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Discus Fish

Scientific NameSymphysodon
Common Name(s)Discus
OriginSouth America, Amazon River Basin
Temperature Range80 - 86°F
Water Parameters5-7pH, 1-8dH, 1- 3KH
Adult Size8-10in
DietCarnivorous, live food, frozen food

Discus Fish Facts:

  • The discus fish is a type of cichlid and comes in a variety of beautiful, rich colors.

  • Fry start out their lives by being carefully cared for by both parents, and even feed on a secretion from their parents.

  • Valued for their beauty as much as for their willingness to interact with their owners. They can even be fed by hand.


Discus Fish Overview:

The discus fish is a beautiful tropical fish known for its gorgeous coloration. There are subspecies of the discus fish, each with their own unique patterns and color schemes, which allows them to appeal to a broad audience of hobbyists. They can be quite pricey and difficult to keep, so they’re not recommended for beginners. Experienced hobbyists can expect an interactive and somewhat challenging experience.

Being cichlids, the discus fish is often kept in a species-only tank. They prefer taller tanks and should be kept in at least a 30 gallon tank in order to be comfortable. They don’t hide as much as other fish, and are quite graceful, but still benefit from good quality decorations and floating plants for shade. Any rocks or decorations should not obstruct swimming though, since discus fish do like to have a vast, open area to swim in. As always, with brightly colored fish, dark strata help to enhance and bring out their more vivid tones. Tank mates can be included, as these are not particularly aggressive fish, but they do require very strict conditions and frequent water changes. The tank also needs to be kept relatively warm, so before adding tank mates, be absolutely sure that they can survive in those conditions. Discus fish are not recommended for heavily populated, established tanks with more common fish. The conditions are not adequate.

These are carnivorous fish as well, so flake food should not be their main source of nourishment. Discus fish can be fed blood worm, tubifex, shrimp, and other meaty frozen foods. Luckily, there are food pellets designed specifically for discus fish, so supplementing their diet is quite easy.

They are peaceful fish and will form families within their own species. Younger discus fish will actually pair themselves, male to female, and remain an established couple. If this happens, it can signal that it’s time to breed. The discus fish also has a unique and interesting way of caring for its young. Breeding is done in slightly acidic water, during which time the fish may become territorial, as they’ve now committed to becoming parents. Once born, the fry stay with their parents. The pair secretes nourishment for their young through their skin and in captivity, the fry have been known to feed off of the secretions for up to two weeks. Since the fish are schooling and quite peaceful, there is no need to remove the younger fish. Instead, they will be integrated into the school, creating a nuclear family.

These beautiful fish are alert, interactive, and graceful which is why it’s sometimes been called the king of tropical fish.

Posted on September 30, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Yellow Boxfish

Scientific NameOstracion cubicus
Common Name(s)Yellow boxfish, Polka-dot Box Fish, Blue-Spotted Boxfish, Cubed Boxfish, Yellow Trunkfish, White Cubicus, Cube Boxfish
OriginRed Sea/ Indo-West Pacific
Temperature Range72°F - 78°F
Water ParametersdKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Adult Size15”-18”, 1’6” max size
DietOmnivore – krill, shrimp, mollusks and sometimes algae. Dried, frozen or flaked fish

Yellow Boxfish Facts:

  • Although they release a deadly toxin, boxfish are actually very peaceful.

  • It is similar to a Longhorn Cowfish, but these have horns while the Boxfish does not.

  • They are found in rocky and coral reefs in Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, and the south eastern Atlantic Ocean. Adults can sometimes be located in a lagoon.

Species Overview:

As a juvenile, this fish really is shaped as a box with large black spots on a bright yellow body. When reaching adult size the yellow turns into more of a brownish color/greenish color and their spots decrease. Sometimes the dots can become almost a white color outlined in black. A large boxfish has dots that appear blue and yellowish seams in between plates.  There is a slight distinction between males and females (only the adults) with the males being a little larger with a more purple/brown color and lighter colored dots.

 
 

Although this is very rare, if a boxfish is stressed it can release a very deadly toxin called “ostracitoxin” that could even end up killing itself along with everyone else in the tank. This can also happen if it dies. You can tell if it is going to die because it becomes even slower and the colors rapidly fade.  You can tell if there is a toxin in the water because you will see foam on the surface of the water, and other fish will be noticeably inactive. Once this happens it is important to remove the fish immediately and clean the tank.  The toxin can even embed itself into rocks and filters so you must clean it well.  Along with the toxin as a defensive measure, they also have armor plating.

Boxfish are a little slow moving and if put with other aggressive fish and the other fish will get all the food first. If you feed the other fish before the boxfish this can be avoided.  You need to have a very large tank (about 125 gallons) with normal water parameters (salt water), but it must be kept just right; with too much flow they can get blown around a little. Don’t forget that they like live rock so that they can eat the algae, but they also like tubeworms. Boxfish do like to eat coral so they are not considered “reef compatible”, but as long as they are well fed (they like to eat a lot) they will leave the coral alone.  Yellow Boxfish also like to have a place to hide, in addition to open area to swim.

Posted on September 28, 2014 and filed under Saltwater Fish.

Green Neon Tetra

Scientific NameParacheirodon simulans
Common Name(s)Green Neon Tetra, Blue Neon Tetra, False Neon
OriginRio Jafaris; Ornico and Upper Negro River Basins
Temperature Range75-85°F
Water ParameterspH: 5.0-6.5; Hardness: 18-143 ppm (soft water); Freshwater Tank
Adult Size15-25 mm
DietDried food and live food such as bloodworm or mosquito larvae

Green Neon Facts:

1. Despite some sexual dimorphism, both male and female green neon tetra have a bright turquoise stripe that runs along both sides of their bodies.

2. These fish are shoaling fish. This means they have a tendency to gather together. Under safer circumstances, however, this behavior often dissipates and each fish is left to its own devices.

3. Green neon tetra  appear more colorful and splashy when when they are grouped together.

 

Species Overview:

Green neon tetra (Paracheirodon simulans) are a suitable fish for someone desiring a colorful tropical aquarium. With its flashy appearance and unique behaviors, it is an interesting species to consider buying. However, it is also vital to first consider simulans' very particular needs.

Tropical Habitat

Paracheirodon simulans were first identified in the Rio Jafaris, and are native to the freshwaters of Rio Ornico and the Upper part of the Negro River in South America. Their natural environment allows them to swim in calm waters of tributaries covered in the tree litter of nearby forests.  Suited for a blackwater habitat with high acidity, this fish is typically found among many plants and debris such as: drift wood, hanging branches, and organic decaying material.  It is recommended that one models such an environment when keeping simulans in an aquarium. Therefore, a tank of 10 gallons or more with abundant plant life and sand-like sediment is well-suited for simulans since it supports their natural tendency to hide in shaded areas.  Dim lighting overall is also needed, especially when any eggs are hatching.  Also, no additional ammonia or nitrates should be added to the tank.  An acidic tank environment, with all its plants, soft water, and appropriate temperature range should be established before buying simulans because it is very sensitive to habitat conditions.

Behavior

Like mentioned previously, this fish is relatively frail because it requires specific water conditions.  Some, but not all, aquarium fish are taken from the wild, so it is not uncommon to see more tentative hiding behaviors than normal in the fish for its first few days of acclimating.  Though simulans can coexist peacefully with other species,  the  habitat conditions it requires makes it not the best fish to put in large communities.  Additionally, due to its petite size, it can sometimes fall prey to larger fish so it is important to keep any predatory species away from green neon tetra.

This recommended  seclusion, however, does not apply when it is among its own species. Typically, green neon tetra can be bought in groups of six or more  because they do normally interact with their peers. This behavior is due to the fact that green neon tetra are a shoaling fish, which , like a schooling fish, means that they have a tendency to group together with their own species, especially in times of danger. One might notice shoaling behaviors such as the fishes swimming along the same vague path.  However,  groups do not exhibit as much coordinated movement as one might expect of schooling fish, which are capable of making intricate swim paths in unison.

The mating of green neon tetra is a fairly regular process and can happen at any time when they are kept in captivity. Females lay over a 100 eggs in shaded areas because UV radiation is harmful at that point in their development. The eggs then hatch in a single day. Parents do not take care of their offspring since the young fish are viable on their own.

Diet

Fortunately, feeding the omnivorous simulans is not much trouble. They will eat dried food such as flakes or pellets, which work well since green neon tetra do have tendency to swim closer to the surface of the pond and dry food floats  well.  To supplement their diet, Paracheirodon simulans will also eat  the frozen or live larvae of mosquitoes and chironomia (blood worm).  They will also feed on the small crustacean daphnia. 

Appearance

Green neon tetra, like other neon tetra, are known for their bright coloration. Their base color is a grayish silver with a long turquoise fluorescent lateral stripe on each side . They have red and green coloration near their head, caudal fin, and ventral region. Their torpedo body shape is similar to neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi), which are related to green neon tetra. Occasionally, green neon tetra can be marketed for having golden scales;  however, such patterns are actually caused by a parasite, not the fish's natural coloring. Keep this in mind when one sees an advertisement for "gold neon tetra". Interestingly, a green neon tetra 's intensity of coloring is influenced by light conditions as well as being around its own species.

Identifying the  gender of these fish can pose a challenge to some owners since both sexes exhibit elaborate coloration and are, in general, a close match in appearance. However,  when determining sex, the best indicator is the relative sizes of the females and males. Males tend to be slightly smaller than females. Females also have a subtly more bulbous or rounded appearance.

On Name Meaning

The name Paracheirodon simulans can be broken down into several meanings. The prefix "para" means "related to". The genus name of green neon tetra then comes out to "related to cheirodon". Likewise "simulans" , like the word "simular", relates to sameness and means "copying or imitating". Be warned that Paracheirodon simulans  is often mistaken for simply being "neon tetra" rather than "green neon tetra" because of both a similar appearance and name to Paracheirodon innesi. They are different species, and its very easy to mistake articles referring only to neon tetra as something about simulans  when the information is simply not applicable.

Posted on September 15, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Sailfin Pleco

Scientific NamePterygoplichthys gibbiceps, Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps
Common Name(s)Sailfin Pleco, Leopard Pleco, Gibby, L083, L165
OriginSouth America
Temperature Range73-86°F
Water ParametersKH 6-10, pH 6.5-7.4
Adult Size1’7”
DietOmnivorous bottom feeder

Sailfin Pleco Facts:

1. It has been known to suck the slime off of other fish.

2. Because it’s native to an area that experiences extremes in precipitation and will bury itself and go dormant in order to stay protected from dry seasons.

3. Though they’re known colloquially as suckerfish, plecos are actually catfish.

Species Overview:

The Sailfin or Leopard Pleco is a popular maintenance fish, often sharing its habitat with other community fish. They generally eat whatever the other fish don’t get, and are true omnivores, happy to chow down on anything from shrimp to a chunk of blanched cucumber.

Some people disagree on just how finicky these fish are, but generally they can coexist peacefully with any number of fish as long as there’s ample food. They are territorial though, so each community should have no more than one species of pleco at any given time. If they’re alone and still being aggressive towards other fish, it could be due to a lack of food, which can be solved by monitoring the tank at feeding time to be sure there’s enough to go around. Though they can subsist on algae and detritus, ideally, they should have their fair share of whatever food you’re using with their tank and their bellies should always appear rounded. They can eat just about anything including vegetables, flakes, pellets, wafers, and freeze-dried or live food.

 
 

Their habitats don’t take much setup since they’re a relatively relaxed fish. Sailfin Plecos can grow to be quite large, so starting out with at least 125 gallons is recommended. Their fins can be delicate, so be sure to check any decorations for sharp edges before adding them to your tank. They need a bit of cover, but are fairly immobile during the day and more active at night. They live up to their moniker and will stick to just about anything big enough to accommodate them for long period of time. They’ll also troll the bottom looking for scraps. The larger and older they get, the more active they become. Sailfin Plecos tend to make good tank mates for larger, aggressive fish and even aquatic turtles after a certain age.

A good Sailfin Pleco habitat should be well aerated and contain at least one decent sized piece of wood for the pleco to graze on. There isn’t a consensus on the benefit of the wood, only that it is beneficial and required for many pleco species. The Sailfin needs wood soft enough to regularly rasp at. Be sure to keep an eye on the wood as the pleco grows in case it needs to be replaced, since the pleco will be eating it.

The Sailfin Pleco is a beautiful fish with the added benefit of providing maintenance and stability for the tank. It’s hardy enough to live with aggressive species like cichlids, and low maintenance enough for beginners who want to try their hand at something a little more exotic.

Posted on September 4, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Butterfly Pleco

Scientific NameAncistrus brachyurus, Dekeyseria brachyuran, Peckoltia pulcher
Common Name(s)Butterfly Pleco
OriginSouth America
Temperature Range77-82°F
Water ParameterspH 5.6-7
Adult Size6.2”
DietPrimarily Algae, omnivorous

Butterfly Pleco Facts:

1. The Butterfly Pleco has the ability to camouflage itself for protection by changing color.

2. When spawning, the male butterfly pleco will protect the eggs until they’ve developed.

3. Unlike most pleco species, butterfly plecos can be kept together though they might chase each other and fan themselves out to establish dominance and guard their territory.

 

Species Overview:

The butterfly pleco is a beautiful species, popular for its distinctive striped pattern as well as its size. Since butterfly plecos don’t get to be as large as other member of their species, they can be kept in smaller tanks of 60-80 gallons at minimum, as compared to others who need twice that. They’re also very peaceful, making them an excellent maintenance fish for smaller communities.

Butterfly plecos are hardy, but they do require extra care for their diet. These plecos can be considered omnivorous when in a tank, but their main source of food should come from both prepared and fresh vegetation. Unlike other suckers, they absolutely cannot exist on tank overgrowth and waste alone. Blanched zucchini and cucumber make excellent treats for them. They also need a good amount of driftwood to rasp regularly. Some plecos can survive without it, but butterfly plecos have a diet particularly rich in wood.

 
 

This species is also nocturnal and will react to differences in light by changing color. They do camouflage themselves to match their environment, so dark substrate should be avoided. They will also hide and camouflage when they have more light, so to get the best out of their gorgeous stripes, the tank should be somewhere out of direct sunlight, and relatively somber. In order to create a decent habitat, butterfly plecos should also be given adequate hiding spaces. As far a plecos go, they’re one of the easier species to breed, but do require nooks and crannies to wedge themselves in. The male protects the eggs by fanning his fins until they’re ready to leave the nest.

Despite being small, they are still catfish and require a higher level of filtration than other fish, since they produce more waste. Even if they’re in a small tank, it should be cycled before adding them, and it should have an adequate filtration system. The tank should be monitored closely and water changes will need to be done frequently.

The small stature of the butterfly pleco along with its exotic pattern makes it a popular community fish, but it does require somewhat more maintenance than other suckerfish. With the right habitat and conditions, these little guys will breed and can live up to 8 years. They won’t outgrow their space, so if a common pleco or a larger species of pleco isn’t an option due to space, butterfly plecos can still provide aquarists with a great pleco experience.

Posted on September 4, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Clown Triggerfish

Scientific NameBalistoides conspicillum
Common Name(s)Clown Triggerfish, Bigspotted Triggerfish
OriginIndian and Pacific Oceans
Temperature Range75-82°F
Water ParametersdKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Adult Size20in
DietFish, shrimp, squid


Clown Triggerfish Facts:

1. Females blow water across their eggs to keep them with plenty of oxygen

2. Known to attack divers

3. Can rotate each one of its eyeballs independently

 

Clown Triggerfish

The Triggerfish are the silent hunters of the aquarium world.  Their sleek, oval shape with large head and protruding teeth make these guys a favorite fish to own.  These Triggers can be difficult to keep for the beginner but worth the effort for as established tank.

Physical characteristics

The Clown Triggerfish has bold and contrasting colors making it a prized fish for aquariums.  The background is black with white circles and yellow coloration around its eyes and dorsal fin.  These fish can grow to be up to 20” as adults.  They are usually found hiding in the corals and rocks amid the Indian and Pacific Oceans.  They use their strong teeth to break apart crustaceans such as shrimps and clams. 

Diet

Clown Triggerfish like to eat different types of meats including shrimp, squid, clams, and other fish.  If you are keeping them in a tank, then you can also provide fortified algae as well as frozen shrimp.  Triggers like to hide in the rocks and crevices so make sure to put food where they feel comfortable getting to it.  If not, you can have a sick Triggerfish on your hands real fast.

Clown Triggerfish in Aquariums

First and foremost, juvenile Triggerfish do not do well in captivity.  That’s why you don’t see many in stores.  So if you find one, don’t give in to the temptation.  Stick to the adults.  As mentioned before, they like to hide.  So make sure to have plenty of nooks and crannies for your Triggerfish to call his home.  The most foreboding aspect of the Clown Triggerfish is their temperament.  They can be quite aggressive, especially to smaller fish. This includes aggression to the point of eating smaller fish and shrimp in the tank.  Do not put a Triggerfish if you have a shrimp in your tank.  And beware if you have smaller fish like Damsels, you might be missing one or two if your Triggerfish gets hungry.  These fish are better suited for tanks over 100 gallons to have plenty of space to hide and maneuver. 

The Clown Triggerfish can be a hardy aquarium fish as an adult.  They would best be left to experienced tank owners due to their aggressive behavior towards other fish.  Not only will they eat smaller marine life in the tank, but they can cause, obviously, a great deal of stress within the aquarium.  In this stressful environment, all of the fish are susceptible to ick and other diseases that can wipe out an entire aquarium within days.

While beautiful to behold, beware the Clown Triggerfish.  If you have a large tank with no other fish, perhaps this animal would be a good choice if just to highlight his beautiful markings.  But if other fish are involved, it may be best to enjoy a more docile fish for your tank.

Posted on September 1, 2014 and filed under Saltwater Fish.

Emperor Angelfish

Scientific NamePomacanthus imperator
Common Name(s)Emperor Angelfish, Imperator Angelfish, Imperial Angelfish
OriginMaldives, Indonesia ,New Caledonia, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu, Africa, Fiji
Temperature Range72-78°F
Water ParameterspH: 8.2 – 8.4, Specific Gravity: 1.021 – 1.025, dKH: 8 – 12
Adult SizeAdult Small: 2-1/2" to 3-1/2"; Adult Medium: 3-1/2" to 5"; Adult Large: 5" to 6" XLarge: 6" to 7" XXLarge: 7" to 9
DietThis angelfish are omnivorous and enjoys eating various kinds of food such as, flake and pellet food, frozen shrimp, fresh seafood, marine algae

Emperor Angelfish Facts:

1. Angelfish are some of the most beautiful fish in the ocean. There are over 85 various kinds of angelfish. An angelfish are in various colors which are mostly  red, blue, green, yellow or any other bright color.

2. Angelfish likes to live in the warm waters near coral reefs. Its bright colors help it hide among the coral  reefs.

3. One incredible fact about the female angelfish is its ability to produce hundreds of eggs at once. These newly reproduced eggs float in the water until they are fit and ready to hatch.  Young angelfish are always different than adult angelfish. One of the impressive changes in young angelfish is the change of their body colors as they grow older.

Species Overview:

Juvenile Emperor Angelfish

Juvenile Emperor Angelfish

This angelfish variety is actually found in the Indo-Pacific region. It is usually found near reefs. The juveniles tend to stay in protected lagoon waters, while the adults will certainly journey a bit more seaward. They are usually discovered grazing upon algae associated to reef rock. The depth range for this species in the wild is 5-200 feet.

The Emperor Angelfish is a striking fish in its juvenile and adult form with beautiful coloration and markings. One of its tough qualities is the aggressiveness towards other angelfish and smaller tank mates.

Posted on September 1, 2014 and filed under Saltwater Fish.

Achiles Tang

Scientific NameAcanthurus achilles
Common Name(s)Achilles tang
OriginIndian and Pacific Oceans
Temperature Range78°F
Water ParametersdKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Adult Size10in
Dietalgae

Achilles Tang Facts:

1.  Named after the Greek hero.

2.  Tang means knife or dagger.

3.  The spike of the fish was made for fishing lures.

 

Species Overview:

Tangs are almost always a much sought after fish for the home aquarium.  Usually they are quite docile and make good tankmates.  Then Achilles Tang is no different and is quite striking in appearance.

Physical Characteristics

The Achilles Tang as a full adult can grow to about 10 inches.  They are quite beautiful with a black background lined with orange and white around the fins as a juvenile.  As an adult they grow a large teardrop shape near their tail.  When agitated, they will raise their dorsal fins to give the appearance of being larger.  They also have a barb on either side of their spine near the tail that will protrude and be used as a weapon.  They are found in the waters of the Pacific from Oceana to Hawaii. 

Diet

Tangs are herbivores and the Achilles loves their algae.  A single Achilles Tang can devour a 5x5 sheet of algae in a day.  But when in captivity, they will eat meaty shrimps.  But they will remain happier and healthier with a robust diet of algae.  As a substitute, you can use romaine lettuce as they will nibble on the leafy part.  A veggie clip is an essential tool to have in your tank if you are going to keep Tangs.  Tangs have hardy appetites so if you notice one in your tank that isn’t eating, something is wrong.  Juveniles are known to be finicky eaters, and therefore, hard to keep.  So best stick with adults when populating a tank.

Achilles Tang in Aquariums

Overall, the Achilles Tang has a poor survival rate in aquariums.  The water quality has to be spot on before the Tang will be happy.  Usually, the water needs to be a few degrees cooler than normal, about 78 degrees, is where the Achilles Tang will thrive.  There also needs to be a turbulent water flow so that the oxygen level will be increased.

Overall the Achilles, like most Tangs, is docile and makes a good tankmate.  However, keep them away from other Tangs because they will become aggressive and can cause injury with their barbs.  In addition to the barbs, aggression in the tank can cause stress and lack of appetite which can lead to disease and death. 

The Achilles Tang is most likely left for the experience aquarist.  With demanding water quality and finicky eating habits, the beginner may be endangering their entire tank if the Tang should become sick or infected.  But if you have pristine water quality, a strong circulation of water, no other Tangs in the tank, and plenty of algae sheets, I would feel confident that I could make my Achilles Tang a happy Tang. 

Posted on September 1, 2014 and filed under Saltwater Fish.

Longnose Hawkfish

A Longnose Hawkfish of the family Cirrhitidae is easy to recognize because of the very elongated nose that looks similar to needle-nose pliers. This fish has 10 spines on the dorsal fin and both hard and soft dorsal rays with “cirri” at the tips. “Cirri” are very thin appendages that resemble tufts of hair. These fish are also easy to see with a white body and red stripes that run both horizontal and vertical. They have large jaws and sharp teeth that they might use to attack invertebrate or smaller fish. They live deep down in the ocean at about 100 feet, some travel all the way down to 300 feet. These fish do not have a swim bladder which means that they tend to settle near the bottom of an aquarium.

Scientific NameOxycirrhites typus
Common Name(s)Longnose hawkfish
OriginIndo-Pacific and Eastern Pacific
Temperature Range72-78°F
Water ParametersdKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Adult SizeUp to 4in (5in in the wild)
DietCarnivores - Crustaceans, shrimp, small fish

Longnose Hawkfish Facts:

1. They like to sit on coral reefs, especially black coral and gorgonians.

2. They like to jump (place egg carton or canopy over top to keep them in and still let light in)

3. All Hawkfish begin as a female, and then they can actually change into a male which is more dominant, slightly brighter and a little larger.

 

Species Overview:

One Longnose Hawkfish requires at the very minimum 25 gallons of water. If you want to add more fish, it really needs to be 50 gallons. Otherwise, these fish are adaptable and a standard aquarium works fine.  The Longnose Hawkfish is a little territorial and might chase after other fish a little bit, but won’t bother fish that are the same size or larger than themselves. Introduce the Hawkfish to the tank last in order to reduce aggressiveness. Only keep one male in the same tank, and make sure you don’t have any coral that can sting, but they really like to perch on things. If you put any crustaceans or small fish in the tank, they will get eaten. It can be difficult to get Hawkfish to eat dry food so you are better off with fresh or frozen seafood like krill, roe, or brine shrimp. Don’t be dissuaded by a Longnose Hawkfishes aggression because these are still great fish to have; they are entertaining to watch and see, they are extremely hardy, they are very easy to take care of, and they are the only Hawkfish species that can be bred in an aquarium.

Posted on September 1, 2014 and filed under Saltwater Fish.

Maroon Clownfish

Scientific NamePremnas biaculeatus
Common Name(s)Maroon clownfish, Spike-cheeked clownfish
OriginPacific ocean and Eastern Indian Ocean
Temperature Range75-82°F
Water Parameters8-12°C, salinity- 1.020-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4
Adult Size6in
DietAlgae and zooplankton

Maroon Clownfish Facts:

  • The maroon clownfish must be kept single or mated. However, these fishes when kept in mated pairs become quite unruly in defending their mates and the nests.

  • These fishes are responsive to humans and will try to be intimidating with people that they are not familiar with.

  • These fishes can live up to 20 years in internment- which is a very long time when compared to all the other species of fishes.

Species Overview:

Maroon clownfish is also known as the “Spike-cheeked clownfish” as spines stick out from their cheeks. They are one of the biggest and the most gorgeous clown fish species that can be found. The flourish a maroonish red body with three tapered gold stripes. The females are usually longer about 6.3 inches in length and may grow up to 8 inches, while the males are usually one-third the size of the female; however, they can grow up to 6 inches in length. They have a similar shape to the Ocellaris clownfish nevertheless; they have a number of color variations that include purplish brown, red or maroon and brilliant orange. These fishes can be quite aggressive and territorial with the smaller fishes and will chase around them. So inorder to avoid their aggressive nature, these fishes are usually kept single, the only exception is having a mated pair. They are not kept to exist with the other clownfish as they are known to be extremely ferocious. The maroon clownfish will inhabit the bubble tip anemones (entacmaea quadricolor), carpet anemones, long tentacle anemones and sebae anemones.  These fishes eat anything from brine shrimps to frozen diets; however, a meaty fare is always preferred. As juveniles, they eat up to 4 times per day and as adults their diet goes down to 2-3 times a day. The maroon clownfish are basically two types- white striped which is mainly seen in the Indo-Pacific area and yellow striped which has wide stripes on its body.

Posted on September 1, 2014 and filed under Saltwater Fish.

Pink Skunk Clownfish

Scientific NameAmphiprion perideraion
Common Name(s)Pink Skunk Clownfish
OriginPacific ocean and Eastern Indian Ocean
Temperature Range72-78°F
Water Parameters22-27°c, pH- 8.1-8.4, Salinity- 1.020-1.025
Adult Size4in
DietMacro-algae, diatoms, tubeworms, snails, krill, shrimps, chopped clams, mysis shrimps, ghost shrimps, bloodworms, mussels, snails, silver slides, and quality based flake food for omnivores.

Pink Skunk Clownfish Facts:

1.  The pink skunk clownfish will get aggressive as they get older and bigger. A host anemone will then get rid of their violence by making them spend much time in their nests breeding.

2. Mostly the pink skunk juvenile and adult fishes subsist with a single anemone.

3.  These clownfish are a protandeous hermaphrodite.  The female pink skunk clownfish grows up to 4 inch in length; on the other hand the males grow up to 6 to 7 inches, so the biggest one amongst the males will change into a female.

Species Overview:

The pink skunk clownfish is an unusual looking clownfish with a peachy orange colored body and one single white stripe on the head and the cheek.  The stripe runs down up to the entire length of the back of the fish. A contradicting stripe is located at behind the eye. These fishes may be pretty aggressive with the smaller fishes nevertheless; they may be browbeaten by many energetic fellow fishes in the tank.  The anemones compatible with the pink skunk clownfish are Heteractis crispa and stichodactyla mertensii. These fishes however do not require an anemone for breeding; they can breed with or without the presence of the anemone in the aquarium. The eggs of these fishes are laid near their anemones on rubble and rocks, the average number of eggs laid by these fishes are 2,000 to 4,000. These fishes are known to spawn all year round and lay eggs once per month approximately. Frozen herbivore food and chopped shrimps are consumed by these fishes. They feed usually one to two times per day. These fishes are dwellers of the coral reefs. They are usually found in Micronesia from Australia to Samoa and tropical western pacific from Philippines to Japan.

Posted on September 1, 2014 and filed under Saltwater Fish.

Ocellaris Clownfish

Scientific NameAmphiprion ocellaris
Common Name(s)ocellaris clownfish, false percula clownfish , common clownfish
OriginPacific ocean and Eastern Indian Ocean
Temperature Range75-82°F
Water ParametersSalinity- 1.020-1.025, pH- 8.0-8.4
Adult Size3in
DietMarine flake food complemented with live and frozen foods, algae, vegetable matter and meaty food.

Ocellaris Clownfish Facts:

1. About 28 species of clownfish exist at the foot of the sea in the midst of the coral reefs. There are just a few fishes which can survive with anemones.

2. Clownfish is not just orange and white in color, they are found in different colors like black, red, maroon and yellow.

3. These fish are omnivores and eat small invertebrates which may be harmful to the anemones. They can also survive on leftovers of the anemones, algae, mollusks and plankton.

Species Overview:

The Ocellaris clownfish is one of the most famous marine fish in the aquarium industry. It flaunts a beautiful orange colored body with white stripes that are outlined with black. It is known as the perfect beginner fish. They have 10 dorsal spines and their eye color is black around the pupil. These fishes can be easily found in oceans and can be tank raised as well. It is very resilient and not very violent and basically very easy to take care off.  When talking about clownfish, how can we forget “Nemo” from the animated movie “Finding Nemo”? That is when this species of fish actually gained a lot of popularity. A black mutate of the clownfish species does exist as well. The Ocellaris clownfish can co-exist with almost all the saltwater species which are not very violent and the ones which are not big enough to eat the clownfish up. Also, they shall not be kept with small shrimps as they may consider them food and eat them up.  The anemones compatible with these fishes are heteractis magnifica, stichodactyla mertensil and stichodactyla gigantea. They breed in tropical waters and reproduce by means of external fertilization. The Ocellaris clownfish has originated from the western part of Pacific Ocean to Australia and the eastern part of the Indian Ocean.

Posted on August 25, 2014 and filed under Saltwater Fish.

Dwarf Gourami

Scientific NameColisa lalia
Common Name(s)Dwarf gourami
OriginMelanesia
Temperature Range72-82°F
Water Parameters KH 4-10, pH 6.0-7.5
Adult Size3.5in
DietOmnivorous

Dwarf Gourami Facts:

  • Dwarf Gourami build bubble nests and require surface plants to create them.

  • Generally peaceful, but will fight each other for territory. Will sometimes swim in pairs.

  • Singapore raised dwarf gourami have a 22% chance of having dwarf gourami iridovirus.

Species Overview:

The dwarf gourami is a fun fish to care for, as it works well with communities and requires a heavily planted tank. They’re labyrinth fish, so generally they dwell near or at the surface, since they breathe air directly.

A good dwarf gourami habitat should be heavily planted, as they use the plants to build bubble nests and hide. The minimum tank requirement is 10-20 gallons, thought as always, the larger the community the more space is required. The real difficulty in caring for these fish comes from caring for the plants, which can be difficult for novices. The plants require a nutritious substrate, water changes, and specific temperatures and pH to thrive, but the gourami are finicky too and will benefit from a meticulously maintained tank.

Though they shouldn’t be kept with larger aggressive fish, dwarf gourami are incredibly timid and docile with other species. They won’t fight back if being nipped and bullied, so it’s important to monitor the tank. If there are multiple dwarf gourami or other species of gourami,  they may fight each other for territory, so it’s best to keep few gourami with ample space along with more timid fish. Cichlids in particular can be dangerous as they do tend to gang up on other fish. Male bettas will also pick on them, but female bettas are fine. These gourami are also easily spooked, being so timid, so the tank should be kept somewhere somber and quiet.

Feeding them is fairly easy. They’re omnivorous and will eat algae based food, as well as freeze dried meaty food, like blood worms and brine shrimp. To keep them well-fed, be sure to provide them with a varied enough diet. They don’t require anything more complex than that.

They’re a moderately easy fish to keep and the males are fun to watch. They build bubble nests using debris, which is why it’s important to have ample floating plants and plant litter. This is often done when they’re ready to mate, so if there is a nest, monitor the tank closely but be sure not to disturb the fish. They have an interesting breeding ritual, where the female swims in circles beneath the nest. Eventually the eggs will float up to the nest, and the male will collect any that haven’t. After several hours, he’ll add a protective layer to the nest and within three days, the eggs will have developed into free-swimming fry.

These beautiful fish come in red, powder blue, a turquoise variation, so even if they aren’t mating, they are beautiful ornamental fish.

Posted on August 25, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Pearl Gourami

Scientific NameTrichogaster leeri
Common Name(s)Pearl gourami
OriginSoutheast Asia, Indonesia
Temperature Range75-86°F
Water ParametersKH 5-18, pH 6.5-8.0
Adult Size4.5in
DietOmnivorous

Pearl Gourami Facts:

1. Like most gouramis, the male of the species is much more ornamental and brightly colored with orange accents.

2. Often considered the most beautiful of the gourami species.

3. Heartier and more accepting of different water conditions than other gourami species.

Species Overview:

The Pearl Gourami is easy to care for. Like other gouramis, it prefers a heavily planted tank with many hiding spaces and ample debris for building bubble nests. They require a larger thank than some of their cousins, at 30 gallons at the very least, but they’re just as communal and peaceful. Caring for the plants provides ample maintenance for these fish, though they aren’t as finicky as some other species. They do like to hide though, and prefer a somber habitat. They also need to have direct access to fresh air since they are labyrinth fish. 

Though they shouldn’t be kept with larger aggressive fish, pearl gourami are incredibly timid and docile with other species. In general, they only fight with other members of the gourami species, but they shouldn’t be kept with aggressive fish. They have long feeler-like ventral fins that drag as they swim, and nipper fish, like certain tetras and barbs, will take advantage and nip at them. Keep them with similarly sized, peaceful fish.

Feeding is very simple. They eat just about any food on offer, but to ensure a good, healthy diet, be sure to add variation. They can eat flakes, freeze-dried food, and algae-based food. They aren’t picky eaters, so whatever works for the community, as long as it’s a balanced diet, will be fine. 

These fish have an unusual mating ritual. The male first builds his bubble nest, then courts the female. When she accepts him, he wraps his body around hers beneath the nest, and she expels her eggs. The male then goes to gather them in his mouth and will place them in the nest, where he will tend to them until they hatch into free-swimming fry about three days later. It’s an endearing ritual, but the male and female must be separated after mating, and the male can only stay with the fry until they hatch.

They are regarded as one of the most beautiful fish, but they can become stressed. If they spend most of their time hiding in one corner or start losing their color, it’s a sign that something in the tank is amiss. To avoid this, make sure it’s somewhere calm and a quiet and that the decorative objects aren’t too brightly colored. If it’s a communal tank, monitor the fish to make sure nobody is being a bully, and consider dither fish if the community is overly aggressive.

The pearl gourami is a relatively easy fish to raise though, so enjoy it!

Posted on August 25, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.

Queen Angelfish

Scientific NameHolacanthus ciliaris
Common Name(s)Queen Angelfish, Blue Angelfish or Yellow Angelfish
OriginCaribbean
Temperature Range72-78°F
Water ParametersdKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Adult Size1ft 6in
DietOmnivores

Queen Anelfish Facts:

1. Sometimes these fish mate with Blue Angelfish creating a hybrid, though this is quite rare.

2. Unlike other species of angels, there’s evidence that these fish mate for life. They will swim to the surface as a pair and release their eggs and sperm instead of laying eggs on the ocean floor like some other species of angelfish.

3. Queen angelfish start out as extremely undeveloped larvae that float near the surface. After absorbing the yoke sac, they feed on plankton.

Species Overview:

The Queen Angelfish has an absolutely striking color profile with a vibrant yellow background and fluorescent violet accents. It’s very loosely related to the Blue Angelfish and they’ve even been known to mate in the wild.

Though they are quite beautiful and an extremely popular aquarium angel, these fish are a fair bit more difficult to keep than their relatives. They require specific water conditions and a specific diet, and can easily fall ill. They’re notoriously aggressive, but unlike other angels, there’s evidence that they mate for life, so it is possible to keep two of the same species as long as they’re of the opposite sex. Their mating cycle is interesting, and it’d be easy to cull offspring if needed since this particular species spawns at the surface rather than laying eggs on the seafloor. The offspring start out as extremely underdeveloped larvae, lacking any real anatomical structures like fins and even a gut. The offspring exist on a diet of plankton and algae after absorbing their yolk sac. After about 4 or 5 weeks, they begin to develop into juveniles and act as cleaners. These fish are incredibly fragile though, so overpopulation is not a problem.  

Since they can grow to be quite large, these fish require a tank of at least 150 gallons. It is highly recommended that they be added last to an already well-established aquarium as they can be aggressive. The adults do eat reef, so they are absolutely not compatible with reef systems. They shouldn’t be kept with other species of angel either, though they might be compatible with the Blue Angelfish with which they’ve been known to mate. Provide adequate shelter and cover so they have somewhere to hide. The juveniles will eat algae and parasites, but they do still require a meaty diet, like frozen shrimp, spirulina, and plenty of sea sponges. They should be fed at least three times a day.

These are beautiful fish but they are considerably fragile when compared to other angels. They’re not recommended for the casual or inexperienced aquarist. Their specific diet and water conditions do require a fair amount of upkeep and attention, so beware when purchasing juveniles. It’s best to start out with a less aggressive angel, in order to have some experience before attempting to keep these wonderful fish.

Posted on August 19, 2014 and filed under Saltwater Fish.

French Angelfish

Scientific NamePomacanthus paru
Common Name(s)French Angelfish, Black Angelfish
OriginCaribbean
Temperature Range72-78°F
Water ParametersdKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Adult Size24in
DietOmnivorous, Sponges

French Angelfish Facts:

1. Juveniles run “cleaning stations” at sea fans, cleaning other fish with their pelvic fins. They attract potential fish by fluttering their striking bodies. They’re so specialized that fish will line up for their services!

2. French Angels are fished for consumption, and said to be quite delicious.

3. They can live up to 15 years.

Species Overview:

The French Angel is a semi-aggressive species that hails from the Caribbean. This is a particularly striking angel with its stark contrast of yellow on black, and it makes for a wonderful ornamental fish.  Its diet is composed primarily of sea sponges as an adult, but they also enjoy parasites, and nibbling at reef in the wild. The juveniles are especially interesting, running symbiotic cleaning stations where they clean and eat parasites off of other fish.

Because these fish can grow to be quite large, it’s important to start out with a large tank. They need at least 250 gallons to begin with, but if you are planning to have a large community, keep in mind that they’re somewhat aggressive so the more space they have, the better. They can become territorial when kept with smaller species, so it’s recommended to keep them with larger species of fish, or alone. In the wild, they can be found in pairs, but not all species of angels will get along, so keep that in mind when building a community.

Juveniles and adults have different habits but both are active during the day looking for food. These make excellent community fish, provided they aren’t the largest species, and will help keep other fish clean of parasites. The juveniles in the wild are highly specialized and spend their days staking out the perfect location for some parasitic delights, making them excellent maintenance fish. As they grow older, they will need to be fed a varied diet of angel food, spirulina, and frozen meaty morsels like shrimp three times a day. However, unlike other angels, their adult diet will need to contain a significant amount of sea sponge or equivalent. In the wild, sponges make up 70% of what they eat as adults.

Though the juveniles are somewhat more interesting than the adults in behavior, these fish do have quite a long lifespan if properly cared for. When building a habitat, be sure to include large covered spaces where they can stake their claim because they do eventually grow to be quite large and prefer to sleep under cover. As juveniles they also need open spaces where they can interact with other fish, so sprawling fan-like structures are a must. Because they’re active during the day, there’s plenty of opportunity to watch them at work. French Angels are a fantastic species if you want to create an active, diverse community at home. Keep in mind though, as they get older, their behavior does change, and they may be a little less cute, but they’re no less beautiful.

Posted on August 19, 2014 and filed under Saltwater Fish.