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Siamese Algae Eater
(Crossocheilus siamensis) Moderate Peaceful 6" 30 gallons 75-80° F, KH 5-10, pH 6.0-7.0 Omnivore Southeast Asia Cyprinidae Suckermouth Catfish Community Native to the many tributaries, streams and drainage ditches of Southeast Asia, the Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus siamensis) is a schooling species of suckermouth catfish. They are found living amongst the dense vegetation along the banks and bottoms of the many streams and drainage ditches of the tropical areas of Southeast Asia. Generations spent living in an environment of dense aquatic vegetation has made the Siamese Algae Eater a master at eating algae from all manner of plant leaves, stalks and stems, which consequently has endeared them with those who keep planted aquariums the world over. Often referred to as the "friendly" algae eater, the Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus siamensis) has a lot more going for it than simply being more peaceful than the more widely available and similar in appearance Flying Fox (Epalzeorhynchus kalopterus) and the Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilos aymonieri). It is due to the similarities in appearance between these species, that hobbyists will often refer to the Siamese Algae Eater as the True Siamese Algae Eater in order to more clearly distinguish it from the more common Flying Fox and Chinese Algae Eater, who are often mislabeled as a Siamese Algae Eater. Although Siamese Algae Eaters are a bit more rare than their Chinese cousins, they are readily available within the hobby and do great in peaceful planted community aquariums. Their peaceful temperament and effectiveness at eating a wide variety of algae types has endeared this species with planted aquarium hobbyists the world over. In fact the Siamese Algae Eater is one of the few species of suckermouth catfish that is known to consistently feed on Black Brush or Black Beard algae. The Siamese Algae Eater, although dull and not colorfully attractive, can be an important asset when dealing with various forms of algae and is also an intriuging schooling fish, ideal for community setups. Their ideal tank setup would mimic their southeast Asian streams; however, they will also do well in planted tanks and general larger community aquariums. As is the case with most species originating from streams and rivers, they need additional water flow via a power head or canister return and plenty of dissolved oxygen. In their native stream habitats they are accustomed to clean, flowing water and plenty of room for schools of individuals to swim about. They prefer aquarium setups that have at least moderate water flow and plenty of plants and rock on which they can graze for algae and adequate size to accommodate at least 6 full grown specimens. Ideally this species should be kept in a 4 foot long, 55 gallon or larger aquarium which will provide enough swimming room for a group of 6 or more 6 inch adult True SAEs. When kept in small groups the Siamese Algae Eater is very peaceful towards tank mates and will generally school about the aquarium feeding on algae with its mates. However, if not kept in a small group or school they will tend to act like Barbs who are not kept in groups and nip at other fish. This occurs because they are used to living in a group and the fish within the group will communicate their position to others in the group by slightly touching or nipping each other as they move about the aquarium. Fish who aren't accustomed to living in schools will find this behavior to be stressful. Proper tank mates vary from community fish species like Tetra, Barbs, Corydoras, Gouramis, Loaches, Rasboras, Rainbowfish and peaceful Cichlid species. The key is keeping a small group of Siamese Algae Eaters and keeping them with fish who are not large or aggressive enough to see them as food. They make an excellent compliment to most community aquarium setups as they control algae growth and swim in attractive looking schools. It is well known within the aquarium hobby that the True Siamese Algae Eater is a prolific consumer of algae, including some species of algae like Black Beard Algae that many other algae eaters won't consume. Algae will most often make up the bulk of this species diet, much to the joy of hobbyists looking to control algae growth within their tanks. However, if there is a shortage of algae in the aquarium the True SAE will gladly consume a wide variety of commercial foods including flakes, freeze-dried worms and shrimp, algae wafers and even vegetables like zucchini or green beans. Despite having some distinct differences in body shape, coloration and pattern, the Siamese Algae Eater is continually mislabeled as a Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilos aymonieri) or a Flying Fox (Epalzeorhynchus kalopterus). Lets start with the easy one first, the Chinese Algae has some very distinct differences between itself and the true Siamese Algae Eater (SAE). These differences include: much larger, thicker and longer body; larger and more down turned suckermouth; rounder and thicker head; dark brown coloration and brown spotted pattern on the top of their body and lastly a brown lateral stripe instead of the very black stripe of the SAE. Now for the more challenging part, identifying a True Siamese Algae Eater from the False Siamensis and Flying Fox fish. The most apparent difference between them is the horizontal black stripe running the length of the body. Both the False Siamensis and Flying Fox have a sharp, smooth black stripe topped with a gold stripe. The True Siamese Algae Eater has a lateral stripe that has ragged edges between the black stripe and the gold body coloration. Additionally, the Flying Fox has red and black on its finnage, which becomes very pronounced as they become adults. Another distinction between the SAE and the False SAE and Flying Fox is the number of pairs of barbells on the mouth of the fish. True Siamese Algae Eaters have a single pair of barbells (whiskers) by their mouth; where as, False Siamensis and Flying Fox have two pairs of barbells. While this difference can be more difficult to see on small fish darting about in an aquarium, it can definitively identify which species it is. Lastly, the behavior of the fish can help identify their true identity. True Siamese Algae Eaters are a schooling species who will stay together with others of their own kind, both swimming and feeding in small groups of individuals. While both the False Siamensis and Flying Fox are solitary species who will attempt to claim a territory and prevent other suckermouth catfish from entering by chasing off any of their own or similar species of fish.
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Joe Piegols
Livingston's Cichlid
(Nimbochromis livingstonii) Easy Semi-aggressive 10" male, 8" female 75 gallons 75-82° F, KH 10-25, pH 7.5-8.8 Piscivore, Carnivore Lake Malawi Cichlidae African Cichlid Cichlid-African The Livingston's Cichlid (Nimbochromis livingstonii) is from the inshore areas of the African rift lake, Lake Malawi. They grow to about 10" (males) and 8" (females), have a tall laterally compressed body and a large mouth for the overall size of the fish. Livingston's Cichlid patrol the sandy inshore areas of the lake looking for small fish to prey on. When insufficient quantities of prey fish are available, the Livingston's Cichlid will resort to an ambush hunting strategy where it will mimic a dead fish by laying on the substrate, only to quickly lunge at the prey and swallows it whole. Livingston's Cichlids are not suitable for the average Lake Malawi Cichlid community aquarium. They reach roughly twice the size of many of the more commonly kept Malawi Cichlid species and are ambush predators who feed exclusively on other fish in the wild. They will spend their time in the aquarium hanging motionless around rocky formations or lying "playing dead" on the substrate as they attempt to lure in smaller fish on which to prey. However, hobbyists can easily integrate the Livingston's Cichlid with suitable larger tank mates and convert them over to commercial meaty foods designed for African Cichlids, after which they make for interesting inhabitants for any non-standard Malawi Cichlid aquarium. Adult Livingston's Cichlids when housed with other similarly sized African Cichlids will do best in an aquarium of 75 gallons or more. A single specimen or pair can be kept in aquariums as small as 45 gallons. Suitable tank mates include large mbuna, other large rift lake cichlid species and catfish. In nature the Livingstons Cichlid is a loner and thus should be kept as a single specimen in the aquarium or if breeding is to be attempted, as a harem with several females and a single male. Average sized aquariums will not be large enough to provide enough territory for multiple males to coexist. When housing African Cichlids in community aquariums it is important that they be kept in aquariums of 75 gallons or larger in order to provide enough room to properly recreate their natural environment. Provide plenty of rocky caves and crevices in order to provide the fish with hiding places, along with adequate territory and places to graze for algae growth. Most African Cichlids are pretty territorial, thus the aquarium should be decorated in such a way to provide them with enough caves and rocky formations to both establish their own territory and still have adequate swimming room. By distributing rock formations and suitable plants like Anubias all over the substrate of the aquarium with open swimming room above, the hobbyist creates distributed territory that allows for more fish to be kept in a single aquarium. If only one or two areas of the tank have well defined territories in the form of just a few rocks or plants and too much open area at the substrate level, a few dominant males will claim the limited territory and fight with the other tank mates continually. All forms of standard aquarium filtration including: power filter, canister, sump based and even sponge filters are suitable for providing adequate filtration for keeping African Cichlids. It is recommended that a power head be used to provide additional water flow to increase dissolved oxygen and keep detritus and debris suspended in the water column so that it can be removed by the mechanical filtration. Regular partial water changes will help keep nitrate levels low and overall water quality high, with frequency depending on tank size, stocking levels, amount of feedings and level of filtration being used on the tank. In their native Lake Malawi the Livingston's Cichlid feeds almost exclusively on small fish. They are known for their ambush tactics, where they will lie on the substrate on their side as if dead and wait for small fish to come in close looking for an easy meal. Once their target fish is within range they will quickly lunge at the prey attempting to swallow it whole. Locals who have observed their ambush tactic have dubbed them the kalingono or sleeper fish. Despite being a piscivore in their natural habitat, the Livingston's Cichlid will quickly adjust to being a carnivore in the aquarium environment feeding readily on all manner of commercial meaty foods designed for Cichlids. Juveniles can be fed commercial flake, freeze-dried or small pellet foods and frozen foods. Adult specimens should be offered larger pellet foods or larger frozen food like krill, chopped clams or squid. Hobbyists can also feed home made foods comprised of chopped fish, prawns, shrimp or other meaty aquatic items, combined with liquid vitamins designed for African Cichlids. It is best not include animal meat of any kind when making home made food for African Cichlids, as their digestive system is not designed to process it and it can lead to digestive problems over time. Males are polygamous and will mate with multiple females if given the chance. This species is an mouth brooder with the female incubating upwards of 100 eggs in her mouth until they hatch and the fry become free swimming. An ideal breeding environment would consist of a 75 gallon (48" length) aquarium with a soft sandy substrate, areas with smooth or flat rocks and an area with tall grass like plants. This will give the breeding colony potential spawning areas and provide the fish with a sense of security, as opposed to a bare aquarium. Water quality should be excellent a pH of 8.0-8.5 and a temperature between 78-82°F being ideal. A breeding group should consist of a single male and 3-6 females, and it is highly recommended that they are fed a high quality, meat-based diet consisting of frozen or freshly prepared raw foods. The male will exhibit an intense blue coloration when he is ready to spawn, and will choose a location in the aquarium as the spawning site. Spawning sites generally consist of a flat rock located on the substrate or an area in the substrate that the male will excavate by digging a depression in the substrate. Spawning occurs in a similar fashion to many other mouth brooding Cichlids, with the female laying a line of eggs before moving away and allowing the male to take her place and fertilize them. At which time she will return to the site, pick up the fertilized eggs in her mouth and then lay down another batch of eggs. The female will carry the eggs for about 3 to 4 weeks before they hatch releasing the free swimming fry. She will not eat during this time and can be easily spotted by her distended mouth and brooding coloration, consisting of dark blotched patterning. Females are notorious for spitting out the brood early when stressed, so extreme care should be taken if you decide to move the fish or disturb their breeding aquarium. Once the fry are released from their mothers mouth, they are large enough to accept brine shrimp nauplii. It is also worth noting that if a female is kept away from the larger colony in the main aquarium for too long, she may lose her position in the pecking order of the larger group. Females moved to a separate breeding aquarium should be given ample time to feed and strengthen before being returned to a larger community aquarium. Some breeders will artificially strip the fry from the mother’s mouth at the 2 week stage and raise them from that point on in a separate aquarium, and this usually results in a larger number of fry.
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Geophagus Balzanii
(Gymnogeophagus balzanii) Moderate Peaceful 8" 30 gallons 62-82° F, KH 5-19, pH 6.0-7.8 Omnivore South America: Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay Balitoridae Loaches Community The Geophagus Balzanii or as it is also known as the Argentine Humphead, originates from the Paraná River basin area of the Paraguay drainage area of Brazil and Paraguay; the Paraná drainage in Argentina, and the lower Uruguay drainage in Uruguay and Brazil. They are generally found in groups of individuals with a higher concentration of females to males. They move about the vegetation and tree roots near the banks of the larger tributaries and throughout the flooded forest areas feeding on organic material, small crustaceans and other similar items that they sift from the sandy substrate. Gymnogeophagus are specialized eartheaters who constantly take in mouthfuls of the substrate and sifting it in search of food. They have one of the most southern distributions among cichlids in the Neotropics, which means they are comfortable in temperatures all the way down to the mid 60's° F. Gymnogeophagus eartheaters belong to a subfamily of neotropical Cichlids named Geophaginae. Many aquarium favorites such as pike cichlids and Geophagus and Apistogramma species are frequently taken while collecting Gymnogeophagus species. The temperate habitat in which the Geophagus Balzanii originates is characterized by cool winters and sweltering summers. All of the fish from this region will do best in temperate aquariums with temperatures in the high 60°s to low 70°s F. When kept in heated tropical tanks in the upper 70°s to low 80° F for too long, these cichlids will be listless, lack color and will live significantly shorter lives. However, of all the Gymnogeophagus species collected from the Paraná River basin area, Geophagus Balzanii is by far the most heat-hardy. Geophagus Balzanii do well in aquariums of at least 30 gallons in size, with 75 gallons or more being more suitable for full sized adults. They will appreciate aquarium conditions that at least somewhat replicate their natural habitat. In order to make them feel at home in the aquarium environment hobbyists should provide: good water flow, sand or fine gravel substrate, submerged wood, rocky formations, some plants, areas of filtered or subdued lighting and peaceful to semi-aggressive tank mates. Like many fish who spend much of their time on the aquarium substrate either feeding or resting, they are susceptible to bacteria infections if too much organic waste is allowed to build up on the aquarium substrate. Insufficient water flow, which leads to a lack of mechanical filtration can allow waste to build up on the substrate and between rocks and then decay lowering water quality. This is an all too common occurrence at the aquarium substrate level of many tanks, as many freshwater aquariums lack sufficient water flow to keep solid waste suspended in the water column and removed by aquarium filtration equipment. Despite only reaching around 8" in length for males and 6" for females, Geophagus Balzanii are tall, thick fish when it reaches maturity. Their adult size, need for swimming room and the fact that they will most likely be kept with other fish, means that while they can start life in a smaller aquarium like a 30 gallon, they should ultimately be kept in a 75 gallon or larger aquarium as an adult. As is the case with most fish species, keeping them in too small of an aquarium or in poor water conditions will increase their aggression towards their tank mates, make them more susceptible to disease and decrease their lifespan. They will do well with a variety of tank mates; however, they are best suited to be kept with hardy community fish species or Cichlids with peaceful to moderately aggressive temperaments. When kept in community aquariums they make for an interesting contrast to smaller schooling Barbs and Tetras, adding size diversity to the tank. When kept in Cichlid aquariums a group of Geophagus Balzanii can act somewhat like a dither fish in keeping more aggressive Cichlids from trying to create vast territories within the tank, while also providing useful clean up duties sifting through the aquarium substrate for leftover food items. Geophagus Balzanii are less aggressive that most other Geophagus species, thus don't do well when kept with other larger more aggressive Geophagus species in average sized aquariums. Advanced hobbyists who have a large aquarium with the right mixture of fish and decor can often make it workout to keep Geophagus Balzanii with other Geophagus species; however, this is on a case by case basis and will often require the hobbyist to make adjustments in fish stocking and aquarium aquascaping to make things work out. In nature Geophagus Balzanii feed primarily as a sand sifter grazing along the bottom and sifting out meaty foods and plant matter from the sandy bottom streams and tributaries in which they inhabit. However, they will certainly eat food floating in the water column if the opportunity presents itself. In the aquarium environment, they will feed on flake foods and pellets as the sink through the water column, and then sift through the aquarium substrate looking for any leftover food items. They should be fed a varied diet of high quality flake, pellet, freeze-dried or frozen foods designed for freshwater omnivores. They will also relish blood worms, chopped earth worms or other similar items. Ideally they should be kept in aquariums with a medium to fine substrate to allow them plenty of sand sifting grazing opportunities. Gymnogeophagus Balzanii form monogamous mating pairs and like many South American cichlid species are initially substrate spawner's; however, after spawning the female will pick up the eggs in her mouth in a form of delayed mouth brooding. After identifying a suitable location, the pair will clear out a small pit in the substrate in which to deposit and fertilize their eggs. Both parents will diligently guard the fry after they hatch, at which point the female will closely guard the them while the male stands guard in the general vicinity which he considers his territory. Delayed mouth brooding give the Gymnogeophagus Balzanii a leg up over simple substrate spawning Cichlids, as it greatly enhances the survival rate of the fry. Here the female takes the eggs into her mouth as soon as they are fertilized, or sometimes just before the eggs hatch. This breeding mode allows the male to mate with several females and leave the female to provide parental care alone. The male is thus free to breed with other females and guard his territory. The young fry will take shelter in their parents’ mouths when threatened. The “threatened” signal for the fry to take refuge in the parent’s mouth seems to be a dark visual circle, visible in the parents’ open mouth. Hobbyists who wish to breed this species should separate a mated pair into their own 30 to 40 gallon aquarium where they can both mate and raise their fry.
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Reticulated Hillstream Loach
1 like Loaches
(Sewellia lineolata) Moderate Peaceful 3" 30 gallons 64-76° F, KH 8-15, pH 6.5-7.5 Omnivore Southeast Asia, China, India Balitoridae Loaches Community The Reticulated Hillstream Loach is an example of where a natural adaptation for their native habitat has inadvertently produced a gem for the aquarium hobby, with a species that has a unique almost Stingray like appearance and an active, inquisitive swim style. While many algae eaters and plecos have developed adaptations that allow them to cling to rocks and wood in their native stream habitats, the Reticulated Hillstream Loach has a highly modified flattened body that has a Stingray like appearance, which has allowed them to succeed in fast-flowing mountain streams, rivers, and rapids. This flattened body shape helps the Reticulated Hillstream Loach both navigate and cling to rocks and wood in very strong currents with minimal effort. In addition, this very practical and specialized body shape helps accentuate the gorgeous wing-like finnage of the Hillstream Loach. This combined with a graphic mottled pattern adds further visual interest which sets this species of algae eater apart from the typical algae eater found witin the hobby. Despite the adaptations for fast flowing waters, the Reticulated Hillstream Loach can thrive in the aquarium environment provided that they are provided additional water flow, highly oxyginated water and a substrate free of built up organic matter. Additional water flow in the form of a powerhead or a canister filter that is over-sized for the aquarium and utilizes a spray bar return, are essential aspects of a proper aquarium housing Reticulated Hillstream Loaches. The additional water flow will not only increase disolved oxygen and provide water current, but will also keep detritus and dissolving organics from building up on the aquarium substrate and in crevices created by rocks and driftwood. These slight enhancements to the typical tropical community aquarium setup will help make the tank suitable for housing fish like the Reticulated Hillstream Loach, who are adapted for streams and fast flowing rivers. In general the hobbyist will want to stay away from keeping this species in the typical blackwater Amazon habitat with calm waters and substrate obscurred by leaf litter, and instead keep them in a tank designed to emulate a stream or river habitat. While Reticulated Hillstream Loach can tolerate colder water temperatures down into the low 60°s F, they can do well in aquariums with water temperatures all they way up to the mid 70°s F. The warmer the aquarium water the more important that the hobbyist maintain high levels of dissolved oxygen and significant water flow. Suitable tank mates consist of pretty much any community fish species and any Cichlid species that won't see the Reticulated Hillstream Loach as a potential meal. Additionally, tank mates should share the Reticulated Hillstream Loach love of flowing waters and require higher water temperatures in the upper 70°s F to mid 80°s F like Discus. In healthy well established aquariums the Reticulated Hillstream Loach will feed primarily on algae, detritus and leftover food items that make it in between rocks or on to the aquarium substrate. They are prolific algae eaters who will readily clear rocks, plant leaves and aquarium glass of algae and any small bits of detritus or micro-crustaceans living in the algae. If kept in an aquarium where there is not sufficient algae growth or ample feeding opportunities on leftover foods reaching the substrate, the Reticulated Hillstream Loach can be fed sinking algae wafers, carnivore pellets, flake foods or freeze-dried foods designed for freshwater fish. In situations where direct feeding is required in order to make sure that the Reticulated Hillstream Loach is properly fed, hobbyists can feed them vegetables like cucumber or blanched spinach or meaty food items ranging from brine shrimp to commercial flake or pellet foods as long as the foods sink to the bottom of the aquarium.
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Von Rio Flame Tetra
2 likes Tetras
(Hyphessobrycon flammeus) Easy Peaceful 1.5" 10 gallons 70-84° F, KH 3-10, pH 5.5-7.5 Omnivore South America, Eastern Brazil Characidae Tetras Community The Von Rio Flame Tetra is commonly found within the aquarium hobby under the names Von Rio Tetra, Von Rio Flame Tetra, Flame Tetra, Fire Tetra, Rio Tetra, Red Tetra or simply under their scientific name Hyphessobrycon flammeus. Despite the name the fish remains the same, and this case the fish is a beautiful Tetra species that is at home in a variety of tropical community or planted aquariums. Schools of Von Rio Flame Tetra will even do well when kept with peaceful Cichlid species like Angelfish, Severum, Acara or other similar Cichlid species. Von Rio Tetra originate from small coastal river tributaries, creeks and backwaters of Eastern Brazil around Rio de Janeiro and surrounding areas. They inhabit slow moving creeks, backwaters and smaller river tributaries. They live in schools of individuals and move about through the submerged vegetation looking for small worms, crustaceans and insect larvae on which to feed. Living in large schools and staying close to submerged root and plants affords them protection from a variety of larger predators. Von Rio Tetra are a peaceful species who do well in most tropical community aquarium and planted aquarium setups; however, they are more boisterous than many of the smaller Tetra species like Neon Tetra or Ember Tetra. They prefer to live in schools of individuals with at least 6 or more individuals. They are active swimmers who dart about more so than swim and will nip at each other in a social manner. Keeping them in larger schools helps to eliminate any aggression, provides them a sense of security and helps to increase their red coloration as the males and females compete for one anothers attention. The ideal tank for keeping Von Rio Tetra will have plenty of live or ornamental plants, driftwood and areas of diffused lighting. Either floating plants or large pieces of driftwood can be used to create areas in the tank that have diffused lighting, which will allow the them to retreat from the bright aquarium lights when they feel threatened. They will appreciate consistent gentle water flow and warm, slightly acidic water conditions. A small group of Von Rio Tetra will do fine in an aquarium of 2o to 30 gallons, with a larger group of adult specimens needing at least 40 to 50 gallons or more to thrive. In addition to areas of plants and submerged wood, Von Rio Tetra need plenty of open swimming room and plenty of water movement in order to replicate their native river habitat. Wild Von Rio Tetra feed on a wide variety of foods including: small crustaceans, small worms, algae, small insects and insect larvae. They are very hardy feeders and will quickly adjust to commercial aquarium foods. Hobbyists should feed a variety of foods comprised of flake, frozen and freeze-dried foods designed for freshwater tropical omnivores. A mix of foods will help ensure that they receive all the vitamins and minerals that they need to maintain a healthy immune system. Von Rio Tetra are egg layers who reach sexual maturity at around 6 months of age. Hobbyists looking to breed them will want to establish a breeding group of 10 to 16 fish equally split between males and females. The breeding group should be kept in an aquarium in the 10 to 29 gallon range, with either live plants or a spawning mop in order to give them a place to deposit their eggs in a similar fashion as they would in nature. In their natural habitat the Von Rio Tetra would while clasped together perform a roll-over breeding process in moderately dense vegetation in order to both deposit their eggs and fertilize them. This style of spawning works best in vegetation or spawning material that isn't too dense, as the fish need to be able to move about within the plants or spawning mop. The tank should have more subdued lighting and the plants or spawning mops spread out in different areas of the tank in order to give the fish options on where to lay their eggs. Feedings should be kept small and consist of high quality frozen foods or live foods. Aquarium filtration for the breeding aquarium should consist of either a air powered sponge filter or a small power filter with a sponge over the intake tube. Lastly, the ideal water parameters for stimulating breeding in Von Rio Tetra is water that is soft and acidic, a pH around 5.5 to 6.5 and a water temperature between 80° F and 84° F. After the fish have successfully spawned the adult fish should be removed from the breeding aquarium so that they do not eat the eggs or the fry when the hatch. The eggs will hatch within 24 to 36 hours, with the fry becoming free swimming in 3 to 4 days. The young fry are sensitive to bright lighting and poor water conditions, thus lower lighting and daily 25% partial water changes will greatly increase the chance of the fry reaching maturity. Be sure to use the water change process as an opportunity to remove any leftover foods that accumulate on the bottom of the aquarium so that they do not degrade the water quality. New born fry should be fed micro foods like infusoria, brine shrimp nauplii or other similar items designed for newly hatched fry. The fry grow rapidly and will reach adulthood by 6 months of age, during which time the foods fed to them should increase in size as the fish grow. Baby brine, crushed flake foods or mico-worms make excellent food choices for young fish until they can eat traditional flake, frozen and freeze-dried foods.
Golden Cobra Snakehead
(Channa aurantimaculata) Easy Aggressive 16" 90 gallons 68-82° F, pH 6.0-7.5, dH 5-20 Carnivore India Channidae Snakeheads Cichlid-New-World The Golden Cobra Snakehead (Channa aurantimaculata) is a species of Channidae originating from India, but now also being bred by commercial fish breeders. The moderate size and brilliant coloration has quickly made this species a popular specimen within the aquarium hobby. In terms of snakeheads, the Golden Cobra Snakehead is more likely to coexist with Cichlids, Bichir or Catfish as their max size and temperament are more manageable than larger more aggressive snakehead species like the Northern Snakehead or Red Snakehead. Golden Cobra Snakeheads have very few aquarium requirements as they are actually very tolerant of a wide variety of water conditions and tank decor. However, like other members of their genus they require access to atmospheric air as they breath through a primitive lung known as the suprabranchial organ. This means that they must have access to the surface in order to breath, and that they would drown if denied this access. Breathing through a lung does mean that the Golden Cobra Snakehead can tolerate low oxygen level environments as they do not utilize oxygen from the water column. In terms of water conditions and aquarium decor Golden Cobra Snakeheads have very few specific requirements. They can live in water temperatures as low as 60 degrees and as warm as 84 degrees, but prefer water temps in the mid 70s. In terms of aquarium they simply need an aquarium large enough to allow them open swimming area and ideally some floating or taller vegetation in which to seek cover if required. Tank mates should only include larger Cichlid species, Bichir or Catfish that are large enough to not be considered a food source. Golden Cobra Snakeheads should be able to handle their own with other aggressive fish species. Hobbyists may from time to time come across a Golden Cobra Snakehead that is too aggressive to be kept with tank mates; however, they are generally able to live in larger aquariums with other large aggressive fish species. The Golden Cobra Snakehead is a carnivorous species that will accept a wide range of meaty foods. Aquarium specimens are typically fed foods like: prawns, lancefish, silver sides, mussels and other similar items. They can also be fed feeder fish like goldfish; however, a diet of goldfish alone does not provide all the nutrition they require to maintain a healthy immune system. Feed an amount of food that the fish will consume within a few minutes and adjust feeding frequency based on the overall girth of the fish and desired growth rate.
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Blyxa japonica
(Blyxa japonica) Moderate Medium to High 6" Midground 72-82° F, KH 3-11, pH 5.8-7.6 Cuttings Green, Red/Yellow w/high lighting Trace Elements, CO2 Fertilization, Iron, Potassium Eastern Asia Hydrocharitaceae Blyxa Blyxa japonica or as it is also sometimes referred to as the Bamboo Plant is found natively throughout southeastern Asia, where it grows both in slow moving streams and in areas of stagnant shallow waters and marshes. It is also found in man made water ways like drainage ditches and rice paddies, which is testament to its hardiness and adaptability. The popularity of this plant within the aquarium hobby has made it a staple plant within the hobby, where it is generally available online and at local fish stores. While aquarium hobbyists have been using Blyxa japonica to create areas of dense bush like foliage in their aquascapes, this plant may be best known for its use in Takashi Amano's 'Nature Layouts' where he would utilize its dense growth pattern and grass-like appearance to create attractive midgrounds in his over the top aquatic creations. Mr. Amano would often use Blyxa japonica to soften the margins of hardscape materials and to act as a transition between shorter foreground species and taller, more traditional looking stem plants. This species it at home in a variety of different aquascapes, where its simple but graceful appearance enhances almost any style of aquascaping. Despite the grass like appearance of B. japonica, it is actually a stem plant whose short stems and dense foliage give it the look of a grass plant species. Unlike many grass plants species commonly used as foreground and midground plants in aquariums, Blyxa japonica does not produce long runners that spread out in all directions from the plant. This makes them ideal for aquascapes where they are planted up next to other plants or hardscape to create contrast, or when they are planted next to an open area of the substrate that is not intended to have plant growth. Blyxa japonica has moderate care requirements that when met will produce a bushy dark green plant averaging about 6 inches in height. When kept in lower lighting conditions B. japonica will tend to grow taller, thinner and take on a lighter green coloration. However, when kept in higher lighting situations with CO2 or a good source of bioavailable organic carbon like Fluorish Excel, Blyxa japonica will exhibit reddish/gold hues on the leaves and will even flower in shallow water environments. An ideal environment for this species will have intense lighting, a nutrient rich substrate, CO2 or bioavailable organic carbon, a fertilization regimen including nitrate, phosphate, potassium, iron and micro nutrient supplementation. Strong lighting will encourage more compact growth, provide deeper coloration and the plant will produce thin stalks with small white flowers. Lastly, adequate internal water movement within the aquarium producing an indirect or laminar water flow will greatly increase the distribution of chemical compounds in the water and assist proper plant growth and positively effect plant respiration. Propagating Blyxa japonica can be achieved either by uprooting mature plants and separating basal side shoots at the connection points on the stem structure or by cutting plants off at connection points in the stem structure. Be sure that the separated or cut plants have some roots showing on the stem. Freshly cut or separated plantlets will need to be well planted in the substrate or weighed down, as they are prone to floating up to the surface of the water.
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Leopard Cory
2 likes Cory Cats
(Corydoras leopardus) Easy Peaceful 3" 30 gallons 72-79° F, KH 3-12, pH 6.0-7.2 Omnivore Amazon basin in Brazil, Peru and Ecuador Callichthyidae Cory Cats Community Leopard Cory (Corydoras leopardus) are native to the rivers, streams and tributaries of the western Amazon basin ranging from Brazil over to Peru and Ecuador. They are a very peaceful species who live in large groups of dozens of individuals, both for safety and social interactions. They spend their days foraging amongst the leaf litter, vegetation and wood root covered areas of the river near the shoreline for a variety of meaty items like small worms, crustaceans and insect larvae. The Leopard Cory can be difficult to distinguish from a few other Cory Cats who all share some very similar visual traits. The four Cory Cat species who share very similar patterns include: Corydoras julii, C. leopardus, C. punctatus and C. trilineatus, all who share a large black mark on the dorsal fin, a barred caudal fin, horizontal striping along the body at the juncture of the dorsal and ventral lateral plates and a spotted body. In addition to similar markings, all of these species can also exhibit many variations in their pattern, which makes positive identification even more difficult. Beyond the pattern and markings, the easiest way to tell the Leopard Cory from the others is that it has a longer snout profile than the others. However, Leopard Cory's are generally more rare than the other similar species, so look closely and make sure you can positively identify the species before making a purchase. As is the case with all species in the genus, Cory Cats will regularly swim quickly to the surface for a gulp of air. The fish swallows the air, which blood vessels in the hind gut extract oxygen from; it is then expelled through the vent the next time the fish breaks the surface for another gulp of air. This adaptation is believed to have evolved so that the fish can survive in poorly-oxygenated water such as stagnant pools during the dry season. It is however essential to the fish's well-being that it regularly swallows air. The native habitat of the Leopard Cory contains lots of tree roots, vegetation, a sandy substrate with a cover of fallen leaves. The jungle canopy that presides over their natural habitat creates many areas of diffused lighting and cooler mid 70s water temperatures. It is important to provide plenty areas within the aquarium that are shaded from the bright aquarium lights. They will absolutely appreciate the presence of driftwood, rocky caves and plenty of vegetation, which will provide them a tank that resembles their native home. Some important aquarium design elements when keeping Leopard Cory's is a sand or fine grain gravel substrate, plenty of internal water flow, areas of plants and wood root along with open swimming areas and locations in the aquarium where the fish can escape the bright aquarium lights. Like all cory cat species, Leopard Cory Cats will do much better when kept in social groups of at least 4 individuals of their own species or mixed with other cory cat species. While the Leopard Cory will gladly scavenge the aquarium substrate for leftover foodstuffs and decaying plant material, they should also be provided sinking foods designed for bottom dwelling fish species. While conditions that closely resemble their native habitat is also desirable, they are tolerant of a fairly wide range of aquarium conditions. Cory Cats are easily affected by poor water conditions, as they live right on the substrate where there is often less water flow and more decaying material and fish waste. As their native river and stream habitats have a constant flow of freshwater passing through, the home aquarium by contrast is much more of a closed ecosystem, which makes it more susceptible to adverse changes in water quality and chemistry if decaying matter is present within the aquarium. As with other Corydoras species, Corydoras leopardus is a communal species who will want to live in a group of Cory cats and not a single specimen. They would love nothing more than to live in a group of Corydoras leopardus, but will also happily coexist with other Corydoras species as well. They will do well with a wide variety of peaceful community fish tank mates ranging from the smallest Tetras, Rasboras and Barbs, all the way to larger peaceful Cichlid species like Geophagus, Blue Acara and Severum. Their diet should contain primarily meaty foods, with some plant based material in the form of pellets or flakes designed for omnivores. A diet that provides a variety of food items will help ensure that all the necessary vitamins and minerals the fish needs for a nutritionally complete diet and strong immune system are available. They are very easy to feed as they will readily take to a wide variety of commercial fish foods, algae and even decaying plant material. Some good food choices are freeze-dried bloodworms, black worms, sinking pellets, shrimp pellets, flake food, brine shrimp and frozen and live foods designed for freshwater tropical fish.
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Corydoras pantanalensis
(Corydoras pantanalensis) Easy Peaceful 3" 30 gallons 72-79° F, KH 5-12, pH 6.0-7.5 Omnivore Bolivian, Pantanal wetlands Callichthyidae Cory Cats Community Corydoras pantanalensis originate from the pristine, clear flowing waters of the Western Pantanal wetlands area located in Bolivia. Unlike the typical tannin tainted waters found throughout much of the Amazon, the Bolivian Pantanal wetlands is known for its crystal clear flowing waters and areas and dense vegetation. While many Corydoras species live in habitats characterized by dimly lit water ways underneath thick jungle canopies and tannin stained waters, the Corydoras pantanalensis is used to living in crystal clear water amongst dense vegetation and under bright sunlight. This makes the Corydoras pantanalensis a natural fit for the typical planted aquarium with its bright lighting and abundance of plants. The males and females differ in appearance with the males exhibiting a reticulated pattern when mature, while the females lack the reticulated pattern. Additionally, the females are larger than the males both in length and girth. As is the case with all species in the genus, Cory Cats will regularly swim quickly to the surface for a gulp of air. The fish swallows the air, which blood vessels in the hind gut extract oxygen from; it is then expelled through the vent the next time the fish breaks the surface for another gulp of air. This adaptation is believed to have evolved so that the fish can survive in poorly-oxygenated water such as stagnant pools during the dry season. It is however essential to the fish's well-being that it regularly swallows air. The ideal aquarium environment for the Corydoras pantanalensis is one that closely resembles their native wetland habitat. Basically your typical planted aquarium consisting of a soft sandy substrate, areas of dense vegetation, open swimming areas and submerged wood or root along with typical planted aquarium lighting, would be ideal. Additionally, they will prefer aquariums that have plenty of water flow, which will both simulate their native environment and keep detritus and debris from building up on the substrate. Corydoras pantanalensis will absolutely love a well maintained standard planted aquarium or a very peaceful community fish aquarium. Quality water conditions are essential with this species as they are sensitive to deteriorating water conditions and high nitrates. As with all Cory Cats, do not use under gravel filtration and ensure the substrate receives some water flow and no large decaying items. Cory Cats are easily affected by poor water conditions, as they live right on the substrate where there is often less water flow and more decaying material and fish waste. As their native wetlands have a constant flow of freshwater passing through, the home aquarium by contrast is much more of a closed ecosystem, which makes it more susceptible to adverse changes in water quality and chemistry if decaying matter is present within the aquarium. As with other Corydoras species, Corydoras pantanalensis is a communal species who will want to live in a group of Cory cats and not a single specimen. They would love nothing more than to live in a group of Corydoras pantanalensis, but will also happily coexist with other Corydoras species as well. They will do well with a wide variety of peaceful community fish tank mates ranging from the smallest Tetras, Rasboras and Barbs, all the way to larger peaceful Cichlid species like Geophagus, Blue Acara and Severum. Their diet should contain primarily meaty foods, with some plant based material in the form of pellets or flakes designed for omnivores. A diet that provides a variety of food items will help ensure that all the necessary vitamins and minerals the fish needs for a nutritionally complete diet and strong immune system are available. They are very easy to feed as they will readily take to a wide variety of commercial fish foods, algae and even decaying plant material. Some good food choices are freeze-dried bloodworms, black worms, sinking pellets, shrimp pellets, flake food, brine shrimp and frozen and live foods designed for freshwater tropical fish.
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Kin Ki Utsuri
(Cyprinus carpio haematopterus) Moderate Peaceful 28 - 40" 500 gallons 55-79° F, 34-85° F temporary water conditions Omnivore Japan, selectively bred carp Cyprinidae Koi, Nishikigoi/錦鯉 (Japanese) Pond The Kin Ki Utsuri is the metallic version of the Ki Utsuri, which is derived from the cross-breeding of a Magoi or black Koi and a Ki Bekko Koi, thus it is a black based koi with large metallic yellow markings common to Utsuri specimens. Many people associate the pattern of the Kin Ki Utsuri with a checker board pattern or sometimes simply a bumblebee look. Despite how one views the coloration of the both Kin Ki and Ki Utsuri, exhibit a unique looking coloration and pattern that is certain to attract plenty of attention. Kin Ki Utsuri being the metallic variant of the Ki Utsuri makes it a variant of the Ki Utsuri and not part of the primary Utsuri types, of which the Shiro Utsuri being the most refined and common and then the Hi Utsuri who is somewhat common and becoming more refined as the hi (red) coloration is being steadily improved upon by breeders. The Ki Utsuri is the least refined of the Utsuri lineage; however, like the Hi Utsuri is now being further refined by breeders to deepen the black coloration and sharpen and brighten the yellow markings. Additionally, in recent years the Kin Ki Utsuri has seen a surge in popularity and interest from breeders, which has greatly improved their appearance and availability in recent years. The Kin Ki Utsuri, like the Ki Utsuri, tends to have a more flat charcoal black, and it’s common for them to develop small black specks within the yellow or orange patterning. Because of the refinement of Shiro Utsuri it’s hard for Kin Ki Utsuri to compete head to head with them in koi shows, unless they are competing as a metallic Utsurimono. The Kin Ki Utsuri holds its own though in the pond as a uniquely beautiful Koi that always grabs attention. The Ki Utsuri comes in two types: a standard skin yellow and black, and a metallic skin yellow and black, which is called a Kin Ki Utsuri, Kin being the metallic skin, and Ki being the yellow, and Utsuri being the black base. The color yellow in koi does better without a lot of color enhancing feed. A Ki Utsuri that is fed foods high in color enhancers such as spirulina can develop orange spots within the yellow patterning, and the yellow color in general can be pushed more toward orange with foods high in color enhancers. The black color will show itself more vividly in ponds with harder water and higher pH. The following traits are essential for quality Kin Ki Utsuri Koi specimens: Caring for and keeping Koi is tightly tied to the pond in which they live, as the keys to successful Koi keeping revolve around water quality, proper filtration & aeration, quality food and protection from predators. First things first when keeping Koi and that is simply that they get big and need a pond to match. Depending on the number of Koi one plans to keep they need to build a pond that is up to the task of keeping a group of 24" to 30" on average fish that can reach a body mass nearing 30 lbs! While bigger is better, a few rules that will provide a good minimum starting point for an adequate Koi pond include the pond being at least 4 times the length of an adult Koi and 3 times the width, with a depth of around 3 feet. While modern filtration can keep fish alive in very small amounts of water, some reasonable swimming space is required for such large fish and they need some depth to be able to regulate their temperature by swimming closer or further from the surface of the water depending on temperature. Koi like their common carp ancestors are a cold water fish capable of living in temperatures ranging from the mid 35° F to 84° F they are considered a hardy fish species. However, Koi do not do well if kept at extremely warm or cold water temperatures for long periods of time. They prefer water temperatures ranging from 50° F to 78° F (10° C - 25° C), where they are in ponds that are deep enough for them to regulate their body temperature as they see fit by swimming higher or lower within the pond. The exact ideal depth for a pond depends greatly on the climate where the pond is built, warmer climates can have ponds as shallow as 3 feet in depth, where colder climates will need at least 5 feet deep areas to allow the fish to survive cold winters. While Koi are fairly hardy fish in general they are selectively bred over hundreds of years for color and pattern, which has made them less hardy than their native carp cousins. Koi are especially sensitive to low oxygen levels and high levels of nitrate in the water. Therefore, proper pond filtration is critical to maintaining high quality water which is crucial to Koi health and longevity. Proper Koi pond filtration should provide high levels of dissolved oxygen, excellent mechanical, biological and chemical filtration and provide parasite control via a UV sterilizer. Partial water changes or the use of plants as a vegetable filter should be used in order to export or remove nitrate from building up in the water. Second only to the pond design and water quality, Koi need high quality foods that provide them a mix of meaty and plant based food items that will provide a balanced and nutritional diet. Koi should be fed different foods or not at all based on the water temperature and time of year. In the Spring and Fall where water temperatures are between 55° F - 68° F (12° C - 20° C) Koi should be fed foods lower in protein and more easily digestible. When water temperatures are above 68° F or 20° C, then can be fed higher protein foods. The pond design is also critical in terms of protecting Koi from predators and harsh water temperatures. Ponds that have gradual sloping sides and are shallow in depth allow predators to easily wade into the pond and feed on the Koi within. Also shallow ponds, especially those without shade provided by pond structures or overhead vegetation make it difficult for Koi to avoid the intense sun and high water temperatures during summer months. Koi ponds should have sheer edges that drop down quickly to 2 to 3 feet in depth to deter predators and should have areas of the pond that are deep enough to avoid predators and excessive winter or summer water temperature extremes. Koi being bred from Carp are an omnivorous fish species, who with their down turned mouths typically eat food items that they scavenge for on the bottom of their natural pond, lake or river homes. However, as Koi are selectively bred in captivity and raised in well maintained ponds, they have adapted to eating food from the surface of the water and will readily consume a wide variety of commercial floating foods designed for Koi. Many Koi keepers prefer to feed their fish at the surface of the water as it allows them to bond with the fish by training them to hand feed and gives them a chance to inspect the fish for any signs of disease or any wounds brought on from pond predators like raccoons, herons or foxes. Koi will readily consume a wide variety of natural foods in addition to balanced commercial Koi foods, these include: lettuce, watermelon, peas, oranges, squash and fresh seafoods like prawns, shrimp, scallops, squid, chopped fish, mussels, etc. as long as it is fresh and not pre-cooked or preserved in any way. Koi should be fed different foods or not at all based on the water temperature and time of year. In the Spring and Fall where water temperatures are between 55°F - 68°F (12°C - 20°C) Koi should be fed foods lower in protein and more easily digestible. When water temperatures are above 68°F or 20°C, then can be fed higher protein foods. In the Winter when water temperatures are below 50°F or 10°C, the digestive system of the Koi will slow nearly to a halt and they should not be fed directly, they may nibble a little on plants and algae, but won't need direct feeding. Feeding Koi when the water temperature is below 50°F or 10°C runs the risk that any food eaten may not be fully digested and will rot inside the gut of the fish causing illness and possibly cause the Koi to die. Koi, just like standard Carp when bred naturally will spawn in the Spring and early Summer. Spawning is initiated by the male who will begin following the female about the pond, swimming right up behind her and nudging her repeatedly. After the female Koi is stimulated and releases her eggs, they will sink to vegetation, spawning mobs or even rocks or gravel on the bottom of the pond. The male will release sperm into the water and the eggs will become fertilized and begin developing. Although the female produces large numbers of eggs, many of the fry do not survive due to being eaten by other Koi or because they are not properly fertilized. On average if the egg survives it will hatch in around 4-7 days. Most pond keepers looking to spawn their Koi will use mop heads or specialized Koi breeding mops in order to be able to control where the eggs are hatched. Since Koi will produce thousands of offspring, of which only a small percentage will carry the proper coloration and pattern necessary to be considered Nishikigoi or Koi. The rest of the offspring will be brown, black, grey or mottled in color and have little to no real color pattern. Professional Koi breeders will cull these undesirable offspring and only raise up the fish that show the desired coloration and pattern. Nurturing and culling the resulting offspring or "fry" as they are known is a time consuming and tedious job, typically only done by professional Koi breeders or farms. The difficulty in raising quality Koi is in the continual process of feeding, sorting and culling the fry for months on end, while also needing to continually move desirable fish to new and larger holding ponds as they are grown out. Koi breeding at a minimum requires maintaining multiple grow out ponds, having many different types of foods on hand (including live or frozen foods) and performing sorting and culling duties every few weeks for the first year or up to about 6 inches in size. The resulting "Tosai" or yearling Koi will vary in quality from lower pond grade all the way to varying levels of high quality Koi. While quality parent fish, high quality water conditions and foods provide reproductive advantages for Koi breeders, the semi-randomized results of the Koi reproductive process means that it is possible to get a favorable result even for novice breeders. Additionally the variability in the reproductive process allows for new varieties of Koi to be developed within a relatively few number of generations.
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