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Thin Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar
(Myleus schomburgkii var. thin bar) Easy Peaceful 8" 75 gallons 75-82° F, KH 4-8, pH 5.0-7.0 Herbivore South America, Amazon, Captive bred Characidae Tetras Community The Thin Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar (Myleus schomburgkii var. thin bar) is a South American species closely related to both Piranha and Pacu, and are native to same South American rivers, streams and tributaries. There a number of subspecies of Metynnis who vary in coloration and pattern based on their origins, some common species of Silver Dollar include: Silver dollar (Metynnis argenteus), Striped silver dollar (Metynnis fasciatus), Spotted Silver Dollar (Metynnis lippincottianus), Red-spot Silver Dollar (Metynnis luna), Speckled silver dollar (Metynnis maculatus), Wide Bar Silver Dollar (Myleus schomburgkii) and Red Hook & Blue Hook Silver Dollars. Thin Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar are available within the aquarium hobby with moderate regularity. They are often sold at a size of around 1.5 to 2 inches in length and will generally grow upwards of 8 inches in larger aquariums, with females sometimes being slightly smaller and males sometimes slightly larger. They are very popular due to their bright silver coloration, black bar pattern, unique rounded body shape and their active schooling swim style. Alls species of Silver Dollars prefer to swim in medium to large schools and are generally found in the middle to upper regions of the water column within the aquarium. Ideally they should be kept with a minimum of six individuals, which will allow them to school and provide them a sense of security. In their native habitat Thin Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollars congregate in large schools of fish, where they swim throughout the heavily vegetated shorelines of the numerous rivers and river tributaries of the Amazon basin and northern portions of South America in search of aquatic plant life and algae on which to feed. The slender disc like body of the Silver Dollar allows them to move easily throughout both the dense vegetation of the river shoreline and the stronger water currents found in deeper rivers and tributaries. While in nature their brilliant silver coloration and schooling are used as defense mechanism that helps them to avoid being eaten by predators, hobbyists covet Silver Dollars for the brilliant coloration and active swimming style, which looks amazing in aquarium environments ranging from Amazon biotope aquariums to tropical community aquariums. Like other South American fish species whom originate from river habitats, the Thin Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar prefers warm, soft acidic to neutral water conditions, plenty of moderate or laminar water flow and low to moderate levels of nitrate. As an active swimming and schooling species, they will do best in aquariums that provide plenty of horizontal swimming space. They will also greatly appreciate aquarium decor that mimics their native environment, thus a tank with plenty of plants, either live or fake, combined with driftwood or wood root and open swimming areas will go a long way toward giving them a comfortable and secure feeling aquarium environment. It should be noted that they will consume many types of live plants, especially stem plants. Silver Dollar species in general are often referred to as underwater goats due to their propensity to devour plant matter; however, they most often will not consume Anubias species, Java Fern and floating plants like Hyacinth, Water Sprite and Water Lettuce. Feeding them supplemental feedings of romaine or green leaf lettuce will both provide them valuable nutrition and help to reduce their grazing on decorative aquatic plants growing within the aquarium. However, at the end of the day hobbyists looking to keep live plants with any species of Silver Dollar fish will need to do some research on which plant species can be kept safely with this species and go through some trial and error before finding a situation that works. Their moderately large size and need to be kept in groups of 6 or more individuals means that they need to be housed in a relatively large aquarium of at least 90 gallons or more. Their size also allows them to be housed with a wide variety of tank mates including many peaceful community species, semi-aggressive community species and even many species of Cichlids as well. At an adult size of around 8 inches, the Thin Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar will consume very small fish species like Ember Tetra or smaller Neon Tetra; however, they are not aggressive towards tank mates larger than these very small Tetra species or similar sized fish. They also work well as dither fish in community Cichlid aquariums containing peaceful to semi-aggressive Cichlid species. The Thin Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar is an omnivore, but the majority of its diet in nature consists of a variety of plant material and algae. While their diet in nature is more heavily based on plants, they will consume a variety of meaty items including small fish, snails, insects and small crustaceans should the opportunity arise. Hobbyists should make sure that the majority of their diet is plant based in order to provide them with correct vitamins and minerals that they require for good health. It is best to feed a variety of flake, small pellet, freeze-dried or frozen food designed for freshwater herbivores, a couple times a day. Be careful when keeping any species of Silver Dollars with live plants or very small fish like Neon Tetra, as they will consume certain plants and fish small enough to fit in their mouths. Hobbyists interested in breeding Thin Bar Schomburgkii generally begin with a small group of juvenile fish, roughly 6 to 8 individuals. As the fish mature a male will generally establish himself as the dominant fish within the group and exhibit mating behavior towards a chosen female. This established pair can then be separated from the group and kept in a separate aquarium that is maintained with ideal breeding conditions, which include: warm 80 to 82° temperature, soft slightly acidic water (KH 4-8), dim or diffused lighting, vegetation (real or fake) and lastly a smooth rock, slate or submerged wood on which to lay eggs. Females will lay upwards of 1500 to 2000 eggs somewhere on the bottom of the tank or on piece of hard scape. They fry will hatch within three days and after approximately a week they will be free swimming and able to eat fine foods such as commercially prepared fry food, finely-crushed flake food or freshly-hatched brine shrimp. Thin Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollars are good about not eating their own eggs or fry, but can be removed once the eggs hatch as well, which should generally make it easier to raise the fry without having to also contend with larger adult fish.
Wide Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar
(Myleus schomburgkii var. wide bar) Easy Semi-aggressive 12" 125 gallons 72-82° F, KH 4-8, pH 5.0-7.0 Omnivore Amazon River Basin, Venezuela, Peru & Brazil Characidae Tetras Larger Community / New World Cichlid The Wide Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar (Myleus schomburgkii var. wide bar) is a South American species closely related to both Piranha and Pacu, and are native to same South American rivers, streams and tributaries. There a number of subspecies of Metynnis who vary in coloration and pattern based on their origins, some common species of Silver Dollar include: Silver dollar (Metynnis argenteus), Striped silver dollar (Metynnis fasciatus), Spotted Silver Dollar (Metynnis lippincottianus), Red-spot Silver Dollar (Metynnis luna), Speckled silver dollar (Metynnis maculatus), Wide Bar Silver Dollar (Myleus schomburgkii var. wide bar) and Thin Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar (Myleus schomburgkii var. thin bar). Wide Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar are available within the aquarium hobby with moderate regularity. They are often sold at a size of around 2 inches in length and will generally grow upwards of 12 inches in larger aquariums, with females sometimes being slightly smaller and males sometimes slightly larger. They are very popular due to their bright silver coloration, black bar pattern, unique rounded body shape and their active schooling swim style. All species of Silver Dollars prefer to swim in medium to large schools and are generally found in the middle to upper regions of the water column within the aquarium. Ideally they should be kept with a minimum of six individuals, which will allow them to school and provide them a sense of security. In their native habitat Wide Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollars congregate in large schools of fish, where they swim throughout the heavily vegetated shorelines of the numerous streams and river tributaries of the Amazon basin and northern portions of South America in search of aquatic plant life and algae on which to feed. The slender disc like body of the Silver Dollar allows them to move easily throughout both the dense vegetation of the river shoreline and the stronger water currents found in deeper rivers and tributaries. While in nature their brilliant silver coloration and schooling are used as defense mechanism that helps them to avoid being eaten by predators, hobbyists covet Silver Dollars for the brilliant coloration and active swimming style, which looks amazing in aquarium environments ranging from Amazon biotope aquariums to tropical community aquariums. Like other South American fish species whom originate from river habitats, the Wide Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar prefers warm, soft acidic to neutral water conditions, plenty of moderate or laminar water flow and low to moderate levels of nitrate. As an active swimming and schooling species, they will do best in aquariums that provide plenty of horizontal swimming space. They will also greatly appreciate aquarium decor that mimics their native environment, thus a tank with plenty of plants, either live or fake, combined with driftwood or wood root and open swimming areas will go a long way toward giving them a comfortable and secure feeling aquarium environment. It should be noted that they will consume many types of live plants, especially stem plants. Silver Dollar species in general are often referred to as underwater goats due to their propensity to devour plant matter; however, they most often will not consume Anubias species, Java Fern and floating plants like Hyacinth, Water Sprite and Water Lettuce. Feeding them supplemental feedings of romaine or green leaf lettuce will both provide them valuable nutrition and help to reduce their grazing on decorative aquatic plants growing within the aquarium. However, at the end of the day hobbyists looking to keep live plants with any species of Silver Dollar fish will need to do some research on which plant species can be kept safely with this species and go through some trial and error before finding a situation that works. Their larger size and need to be kept in groups of 6 or more individuals means that they need to be housed in a relatively large aquarium of at least 125 gallons or more. Their larger size also allows them to be housed with a wide variety of tank mates including many larger peaceful community species, semi-aggressive community species and even many species of Cichlids and Rays as well. At an adult size of around 12 inches, the Wide Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar will consume very small fish species like small Tetra or Barbs; however, they are not aggressive towards tank mates larger than these very small Tetra species or similar sized fish. They also work well as dither fish in community Cichlid aquariums containing peaceful to semi-aggressive Cichlid species. The Wide Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollar is an omnivore, but the majority of its diet in nature consists of a variety of plant material and fruits dropped from trees. While their diet in nature is more heavily based on plants and fruits, they will consume a variety of meaty items including small fish, snails, insects and small crustaceans should the opportunity arise. Hobbyists should make sure that the majority of their diet is plant based in order to provide them with correct vitamins and minerals that they require for good health. It is best to feed a variety of flake, small pellet, freeze-dried or frozen food designed for freshwater herbivores, a couple times a day. Be careful when keeping any species of Silver Dollars with live plants or very small fish like Neon Tetra, as they will consume certain plants and fish small enough to fit in their mouths. Hobbyists interested in breeding Wide Bar Schomburgkii generally begin with a small group of juvenile fish, roughly 6 to 8 individuals. As the fish mature a male will generally establish himself as the dominant fish within the group and exhibit mating behavior towards a chosen female. This established pair can then be separated from the group and kept in a separate aquarium that is maintained with ideal breeding conditions, which include: warm 80 to 82° temperature, soft slightly acidic water (KH 4-8), dim or diffused lighting, vegetation (real or fake) and lastly a smooth rock, slate or submerged wood on which to lay eggs. Females will lay upwards of 1500 to 2000 eggs somewhere on the bottom of the tank or on piece of hard scape. They fry will hatch within three days and after approximately a week they will be free swimming and able to eat fine foods such as commercially prepared fry food, finely-crushed flake food or freshly-hatched brine shrimp. Wide Bar Schomburgkii Silver Dollars are good about not eating their own eggs or fry, but can be removed once the eggs hatch as well, which should generally make it easier to raise the fry without having to also contend with larger adult fish.
Red Melon Discus
(Symphysodon aequifasciata) Moderate Peaceful 8" 55 gallons 78-86° F, KH 1-3, pH 6.0-7.5 Omnivore Amazon, South America Cichlidae Discus Community The Red Melon Discus is one of the many strains of discus that through genetic mutation have produced a reproducable color variation of the Discus fish. This breeding work was performed by breeders who over the course of decades were able to selectively breed the discus to achieve what we now call the Red Melon Discus, Melon Red Discus or Super Red Melon Discus, which features a solid reddish orange body and either a reddish orange face or a pale yellow face. Their coloration is easily influenced by color enhancing foods or carotenoids present within the foods they are fed. Color enhancing foods that contain beta carotene will alter the color of the Discus and generally give it a deeper red or red/orange appearance. Discus originate from the Amazon River Systems of South America, where they were first imported into the aquarium hobby in the early 1930s. Ever since their introduction into the hobby to this day, Discus are considered one of the most colorful, demanding, rewarding and expensive of all tropical freshwater aquarium fish species. Due to their popularity and the high price tag that they command, Discus are very popular with fish breeders. Over the years breeders have not only raised enough tank-bred specimens to largely fulfill the demand from the aquarium hobby, but have developed completely new color strains and patterns as well. Discus are very popular amongst intermediate to advanced fish keepers, and are widely considered to be one of the most rewarding and challenging to keep of the freshwater tropical community fish species available within the hobby. In the wild, Discus are found living in the upper tributaries of the Rio Negro and Rio Madiera along with the surrounding lakes and flood plains. The water is very low in mineral content, which makes it "soft" water with a low pH ranging from 4.0 to 7.0. The water also maintains very stable and consistent water parameters year round, including water temperatures that range between 80 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit both during the day and night. When keeping Red Melon Discus in the home aquarium, it is extremely important to replicate their natural surroundings and water parameters as closely as possible. It is also very important to maintain very consistent water parameters that have very little fluctuations in pH, temperature and dissolved minerals. Many tank bred Discus are used to higher pH ranges from 6.0 to 7.0 and can thrive while being kept in a higher pH. The key is to keep water parameters that are consistent over time and do not high quick flucuations. Discus as with other fish can easily adjust to pH that flucuates naturally between day and night and with slight fluctuations caused by partial water changes. Red Melon Discus aquariums should closely resemble their natural Amazonian habitat with plenty of plants and branching root or driftwood. Water parameters should be very consistent with a pH near 6.5 to 7.2, temperature between 80° to 86° Fahrenheit with low to medium water currents. Discus can thrive in a wider range of water parameters as long as the changes are not sudden and the fish has adequate time to adjust to changing parameters. Red Melon Discus should not be housed with aggressive or boisterous fish species or in aquariums with intense lighting or strong water currents. If strong aquarium lighting is used for plant growth, be sure that the density of the plant life is great enough to provide shaded areas for the Red Melon Discus to retreat to when needed. Strong biological and mechanical filtration along with weekly partial water changes are required to keep water quality high and water parameters consistent. Frequency of water changes can be lessened or avoided if some other form of nutrient export is present within the system. Aquaponics or an external vegetable filter (heavily planted sump using aquarium water for nutrients) is present on the system and able to keep dissolved nutrients very low. When keeping Discus with live plants, it is best to keep the aquarium pH between 6.0 to 6.8 and a lower water hardness of 150 PPM or less. Lastly, be sure to maintain excellent water quality at all times as Discus do not leave a lot of room for error when it comes to water quality and consistency. Recommended tank mates include: most Tetra species, Loaches, Cory Catfish, smaller Plecostomus species, Siamese Algae Eaters, Ottocinclus, Rams, peaceful Rasbora species, Rainbow fish, Hatchet fish and Pencilfish. Being closely related to the freshwater Amazonian Angelfish, it was assumed that Discus breeding requirements would be the same. Early hobbyists removed the eggs, attempted to hatch them in a separate tank and grow the fry on. We now know this is not possible with Discus because fry consume the mucus excreted from the sides of the parents. Discus were not successfully spawned until the late fifties with Jack Wattley in America and Eduard Schmidt-Focke in Germany doing the pioneering work. During the 1970s breeders began to concentrate on producing more colorful Discus with a broader range of colors and patterns. They selectively bred specimens for their blue striations that eventually produced Turquoise and Cobalt Discus, while other breeders intensified the natural red striations that later produced Leopard Skin Discus and Pigeon Blood Discus. The 1980s and 1990s saw an explosion in new Discus mutations with the development of the Ghost, Snake Skin, Pigeon Blood, Blue Diamond, Snow White and Albino Discus variations. Through selective breeding, today’s aquarium hobbyists can choose from a wide variety of brightly colored and varied patterned Discus now available within the hobby. Red Melon Discus should be fed a variety of nutritional meaty foods including: white worms, blood worms, Tubifex worms, high protein pellet and flake foods. Juvenile Red Melon Discus should be fed at least 3 to 5 times per day, while adult specimens should be fed 2 to 3 times per day. Their overall diet should be higher in proteins and fats then the average tropical fish species. The coloration of the Red Melon Discus is easily effected by the amount of carotenoids or color enhancing elements that are present in their food. Discus who are fed color enhancing foods or foods high in beta carotene will quickly develop deeper red and orange coloration. As with most other fish species, they should be fed an amount of food that they will consume within 10 minutes, with leftover foods removed from the system by either a quality mechanical filter, manually if strong filtration is not present or through the presence of substrate scavenging fish or invertebrates.
Marlboro Red Discus
(Symphysodon spp.) Moderate Peaceful 8" 55 gallons 78-86° F, KH 1-3, pH 6.0-7.5 Omnivore Amazon, South America Cichlidae Discus Community The Marlboro Red Discus has been selectively bred for its brilliant red coloration. The face of this Discus varies between white to light yellow in color and the main part of the body is a bright red. The Anal and dorsal fins can vary in color from whit and red to red with black on the edges depending on the particular breeder or blood line of fish. Wild Discus originate from the Amazon River Systems of South America, where they were first imported into the aquarium hobby in the early 1930s. Ever since their introduction into the hobby to this day, Discus are considered one of the most colorful, demanding, rewarding and expensive of all tropical freshwater aquarium fish species. Due to their popularity and the high price tag that they command, Discus are very popular with fish breeders. Over the years breeders have not only raised enough tank-bred specimens to largely fulfill the demand from the aquarium hobby, but have developed completely new color strains and patterns as well. Discus are very popular amongst intermediate to advanced fish keepers, and are widely considered to be one of the most rewarding and challenging to keep of the freshwater tropical community fish species available within the hobby. In the wild, Discus are found living in the upper tributaries of the Rio Negro and Rio Madiera along with the surrounding lakes and flood plains. The water is very low in mineral content, which makes it "soft" water with a low pH ranging from 4.0 to 7.0. The water also maintains very stable and consistent water parameters year round, including water temperatures that range between 80 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit both during the day and night. When keeping Marlboro Red Discus in the home aquarium, it is extremely important to replicate their natural surroundings and water parameters as closely as possible. It is also very important to maintain very consistent water parameters that have very little fluctuations in pH, temperature and dissolved minerals. Marlboro Red Discus aquariums should closely resemble their natural Amazonian habitat with plenty of plants and branching root. Water parameters should be very consistent with a stable pH, temperature between 82° to 86° Fahrenheit with low to medium water currents. Discus can thrive in a wider range of water parameters as long as the changes are not sudden and the fish has adequate time to adjust to changing parameters. Marlboro Red Discus should not be housed with aggressive or boisterous fish species or in aquariums with intense lighting or strong water currents. If strong aquarium lighting is used for plant growth, be sure that the density of the plant life is great enough to provide shaded areas for the Marlboro Red Discus to retreat to when needed. Strong biological and mechanical filtration along with weekly partial water changes are required to keep water quality high and water parameters consistent. When keeping Discus with live plants, it is best to keep the aquarium pH between 6.0 to 6.8 and a lower water hardness of 150 PPM or less. Lastly, be sure to maintain excellent water quality at all times as Discus do not leave a lot of room for error when it comes to water quality and consistency. Recommended tank mates include: most Tetra species, peaceful loaches, cory catfish, smaller Plecostomus species, Siamese Algae Eaters, Ottocinclus, Rams, peaceful Rasbora species, Rainbow fish, Hatchet fish and Pencilfish. Being closely related to the freshwater Amazonian Angelfish, it was assumed that Discus breeding requirements would be the same. Early hobbyists removed the eggs, attempted to hatch them in a separate tank and grow the fry on. We now know this is not possible with Discus because fry consume the mucus excreted from the sides of the parents. Discus were not successfully spawned until the late fifties with Jack Wattley in America and Eduard Schmidt-Focke in Germany doing the pioneering work. During the 1970s breeders began to concentrate on producing more colorful Discus with a broader range of colors and patterns. They selectively bred specimens for their blue striations that eventually produced Turquoise and Cobalt Discus, while other breeders intensified the natural red striations that later produced Pigeon Blood Discus and Pigeon Blood Discus. The 1980s and 1990s saw an explosion in new Discus mutations with the development of the Ghost, Snake Skin, Pigeon Blood, Blue Diamond, Snow White and Albino Discus variations. Through selective breeding, todays aquarium hobbyists can choose from a wide variety of brightly colored and varied patterned Discus now available within the hobby. Marlboro Red Discus should be fed a variety of nutritional meaty foods including: white worms, blood worms, Tubifex worms, high protein pellet and flake foods. Juvenile Marlboro Red Discus should be fed at least 3 to 5 times per day, while adult specimens should be fed 2 to 3 times per day. Their overall diet should be higher in proteins and fats then the average tropical fish species. As with most other fish species, they should be fed an amount of food that they will consume within 10 minutes, with leftover foods removed from the system by either a quality mechanical filter or manually if strong filtration is not present. Marlboro Red Discus's coloration depends greatly on the types of food that they are fed. If they are fed foods high in red enhancing ingredients like beta carotene or Astaxanthin red algae they will maintain a deep red appearance. Many common commercial fish foods contain red enhancing ingredients, thus it is not difficult to keep Marlboro Red Blood in a mixed aquarium where many different foods are fed to different fish species and still maintain a strong red coloration.
Yellow Pigeon Blood Discus
(Symphysodon spp.) Moderate Peaceful 8" 55 gallons 78-86° F, KH 1-3, pH 6.0-7.5 Omnivore Amazon, South America Cichlidae Discus Community Yellow Pigeon Blood Discus are a selectively bred or man-made species of Discus that accentuate a yellow checkerboard pattern over a white base color, highlighted by orange eyes. The tails of Yellow Pigeon Blood Discus are almost always clear with slight yellow or orange markings, with the dorsal and caudal fins often having some black markings on the very edge of the fins. Yellow Pigeon Blood Discus's coloration depends greatly on the types of food that they are fed. If they are fed foods high in red enhancing ingredients like beta carotene or Astaxanthin red algae, the Yellow Pigeon Blood will develop a more orange or red appearance. Many common commercial fish foods contain red enhancing ingredients, thus it can be difficult to keep Yellow Pigeon Blood in a mixed aquarium where many different foods are fed to different fish species. There are foods like Discus Madness's Yellow Beefheart Mix which is enhanced with yellow chlorophyll, designed to keep yellow coloration in fish. Wild Discus originate from the Amazon River Systems of South America, where they were first imported into the aquarium hobby in the early 1930s. Ever since their introduction into the hobby to this day, Discus are considered one of the most colorful, demanding, rewarding and expensive of all tropical freshwater aquarium fish species. Due to their popularity and the high price tag that they command, Discus are very popular with fish breeders. Over the years breeders have not only raised enough tank-bred specimens to largely fulfill the demand from the aquarium hobby, but have developed completely new color strains and patterns as well. Discus are very popular amongst intermediate to advanced fish keepers, and are widely considered to be one of the most rewarding and challenging to keep of the freshwater tropical community fish species available within the hobby. In the wild, Discus are found living in the upper tributaries of the Rio Negro and Rio Madiera along with the surrounding lakes and flood plains. The water is very low in mineral content, which makes it "soft" water with a low pH ranging from 4.0 to 7.0. The water also maintains very stable and consistent water parameters year round, including water temperatures that range between 80 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit both during the day and night. When keeping Yellow Pigeon Blood Discus in the home aquarium, it is extremely important to replicate their natural surroundings and water parameters as closely as possible. It is also very important to maintain very consistent water parameters that have very little fluctuations in pH, temperature and dissolved minerals. Yellow Pigeon Blood Discus aquariums should closely resemble their natural Amazonian habitat with plenty of plants and branching root. Water parameters should be very consistent with a stable pH, temperature between 82° to 86° Fahrenheit with low to medium water currents. Discus can thrive in a wider range of water parameters as long as the changes are not sudden and the fish has adequate time to adjust to changing parameters. Yellow Pigeon Blood Discus should not be housed with aggressive or boisterous fish species or in aquariums with intense lighting or strong water currents. If strong aquarium lighting is used for plant growth, be sure that the density of the plant life is great enough to provide shaded areas for the Yellow Pigeon Blood Discus to retreat to when needed. Strong biological and mechanical filtration along with weekly partial water changes are required to keep water quality high and water parameters consistent. When keeping Discus with live plants, it is best to keep the aquarium pH between 6.0 to 6.8 and a lower water hardness of 150 PPM or less. Lastly, be sure to maintain excellent water quality at all times as Discus do not leave a lot of room for error when it comes to water quality and consistency. Recommended tank mates include: most Tetra species, peaceful loaches, cory catfish, smaller Plecostomus species, Siamese Algae Eaters, Ottocinclus, Rams, peaceful Rasbora species, Rainbow fish, Hatchet fish and Pencilfish. Being closely related to the freshwater Amazonian Angelfish, it was assumed that Discus breeding requirements would be the same. Early hobbyists removed the eggs, attempted to hatch them in a separate tank and grow the fry on. We now know this is not possible with Discus because fry consume the mucus excreted from the sides of the parents. Discus were not successfully spawned until the late fifties with Jack Wattley in America and Eduard Schmidt-Focke in Germany doing the pioneering work. During the 1970s breeders began to concentrate on producing more colorful Discus with a broader range of colors and patterns. They selectively bred specimens for their blue striations that eventually produced Turquoise and Cobalt Discus, while other breeders intensified the natural red striations that later produced Pigeon Blood Discus and Pigeon Blood Discus. The 1980s and 1990s saw an explosion in new Discus mutations with the development of the Ghost, Snake Skin, Pigeon Blood, Blue Diamond, Snow White and Albino Discus variations. Through selective breeding, todays aquarium hobbyists can choose from a wide variety of brightly colored and varied patterned Discus now available within the hobby. Yellow Pigeon Blood Discus should be fed a variety of nutritional meaty foods including: white worms, blood worms, Tubifex worms, high protein pellet and flake foods. Juvenile Yellow Pigeon Blood Discus should be fed at least 3 to 5 times per day, while adult specimens should be fed 2 to 3 times per day. Their overall diet should be higher in proteins and fats then the average tropical fish species. As with most other fish species, they should be fed an amount of food that they will consume within 10 minutes, with leftover foods removed from the system by either a quality mechanical filter or manually if strong filtration is not present. Yellow Pigeon Blood Discus's coloration depends greatly on the types of food that they are fed. If they are fed foods high in red enhancing ingredients like beta carotene or Astaxanthin red algae, the Yellow Pigeon Blood will develop a more orange or red appearance. Many common commercial fish foods contain red enhancing ingredients, thus it can be difficult to keep Yellow Pigeon Blood in a mixed aquarium where many different foods are fed to different fish species. There are foods like Discus Madness's Yellow Beefheart Mix which is enhanced with yellow chlorophyll, designed to keep yellow coloration in fish.
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.
Reticulated Hillstream Loach
(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.
Kelberi Peacock Bass
(Cichla kelberi) Easy Aggressive 18" 180 gallons 76-84° F, KH 5-15, pH 5.0-6.5 Carnivore, Piscivore Amazon, Brazil Cichlidae Peacock Bass Cichlid-New-World The Kelberi Peacock Bass (Cichla kelberi) is one of the smaller species of Peacock Bass available within the hobby, with a max size of around 18" in length, but more commonly only reaching about 10" to 12" in length within the aquarium environment. Even the largest Kelberi Peacock Bass is quite reasonable in size compared to many of the other species of Peacock Bass who routinely reach lengths upwards of 28" or more. Cichla kelberi are collected from the Rio Araguaia drainage and the lower Rio Tocantins drainage located within the Brazilian Amazon. These areas tend to be lower flow and with less overall water volume than the main stems of the Amazon River where many of the larger Peacock Bass like Cichla monoculus are collected from. More narrow, slower moving and more highly vegetated water ways has most likely played a large part in the Kelberi Peacock Bass evolving into a smaller Peacock Bass species in order to better ambush prey in their native environment. Cichla kelberi is distinguished from all other species ​of Cichla by presence in adults of small light spots​ on the pelvic and anal fins, and lower lobe of caudal​ fin. Cichla kelberi have similarities to C. monoculus and C. pleiozona in ​that they both have three dark vertical bars on their sides, a pronounced occipital bar in larger specimens, absence of black or ocellated markings laterally on head, and presence of irregular dark blotches on anterior abdominal side and typical absence of bar 4.​ Dominant or breeding males will exhibit yellow or golden coloration on their side, vertical black bars, a greenish head without black spots, white chest, abdomen and ventral aspect of caudal fin base. The yellow coloration on the sides is interspersed with numerous small black spots dorsally. Additionally, they will exhibit prominently a dark grey nuchal hump. Dominant or breeding females tend to exhibit yellowish to golden coloration on their sides and yellow on the cheek and gill covers. Their lower jaw, chest, abdomen and the ventral side of caudal peduncle will be white or light yellow in color. They will generally have light spots along their sides, a light caudal eyespot and spots on anal fin yellow. Kelberi Peacock Bass (Cichla kelberi) is probably the most suitable of all Peacock Bass species for aquarium life due to its smaller size of 12" on average. Their smaller size makes them suitable for more hobbyists as they do not require a massive aquarium like many other Cichla species. Additionally, their smaller size means that they have a smaller mouth and corresponding aggressiveness, which allows them to be kept with a larger variety of tank mates than say a full grown 30" plus Temensis Peacock Bass. Peacock Bass are accustomed to an environment with high quality water with low levels of pollutants and high levels of dissolved oxygen. Kelberi Peacock Bass aquariums need to replicate this environment as much as possible through strong mechanical, chemical and biological filtration along with medium to strong water movement. They are a little less sensitive to lower oxygen levels partly because of the slower flowing tributaries where they originate and partly due to their smaller overall size. While Peacock Bass are large fish that eat equally large meals, they can do well in aquariums with excellent filtration capable of removing the excess food and waste products produced from such a large species. The adult size of the Peacock Bass is also an important factor in choosing the right aquarium to house them, with the size and shape of the aquarium being very important. With adult Kelberi Peacock Bass reaching between 10" to 18" in length, they can be suitably housed as an adult in aquariums of 180 gallons or larger. Smaller specimens can be raised in smaller aquariums if they are moved to larger tanks as they grow, with a general rule of tank being at least 4 times as long and 1 1/2 times as wide as the length of the fish. The aquarium decor should be designed to provide plenty of swimming room, while also providing some areas of cover using driftwood, floating or well rooted plants and rocks with a sandy or gravel substrate. Tank mates are an important consideration when housing adult Peacock Bass with other New World Cichlids due to their large size and aggressive temperament. A good rule of thumb is that anything that can fit in the mouth of the Peacock Bass eventually will. Tank mates should consist of other large aggressive New World Cichlids, large Catfish species and freshwater rays. Kelberi Peacock Bass can be kept as the only Peacock Bass species or mixed with other species of Peacock Bass. They also do well in good sized groups and will work out a dominance structure amongst themselves, which will lower aggression between fish once their social hierarchy is in place. Wild Kelberi Peacock Bass feed on a wide variety of live foods living in their river tributary ecosystem, which include: insects, smaller fish, worms, crustaceans and amphibians. Kelberi Peacock Bass kept within the aquarium environment will readily feed on the same variety of live foods that they feed on in nature, but it is often more desirable to ween them off of live foods. Live foods are typically more expensive, require holding tanks, more frequent trips to the aquarium store, can bring diseases and can create excess pollution in the aquarium water. Hobbyists generally ween their Peacock Bass to commercial food preparations in order to simplify their care and avoid the pitfalls or live foods. However, it is not uncommon for Peacock Bass enthusiasts who have weened their fish to commercial foods to provide the occasional live feeding to enjoy the prey drive and aggressive feeding technique of the Peacock Bass. Suitable commercial foods for Peacock Bass include: worms, pellet foods, food sticks, frozen meaty foods like krill, silver sides or similar fare. Peacock Bass will also consume a variety of dead meaty foods like raw shrimp, raw prawns, raw fish and similar meaty items. Individual specimens will often have their own preferences, with some specimens eating most anything while others will be more picky about their diet.
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.
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.
Blue Balloon Ram
(Microgeophagus ramirezi) Intermediate to Expert Peaceful 3" 20 gallons 76-82° F, KH 1-8, pH 5.0-6.8 Omnivore Farm raised, selective breeding Cichlidae Rams Cichlid-New-World The Blue Balloon Ram or as it is also called the Blue Angel Ram, is a selective bred variant of the German Blue Ram. Which is a color variant of the original wild Ram. The Blue Balloon Ram is a selectively bred variant which focuses on altering the body of the Ram to be taller, shorter and more stout the otherwise more stream lined standard Ram body. Since Rams have a relatively short natural life span of a little over 2 years, they mature from juveniles to adults rather quickly. The short lifespan of this species is also a factor when selecting individuals for purchase as the larger more colorful specimens tend to be older individuals. Older specimens also go through a form of menopause where they no will no longer spawn, thus hobbyists looking to breed need to select young specimens. Blue Balloon Rams are generally considered to be an expert level only fish species due to their rather specific water parameter requirements. Rams require soft acidic water with very stable pH and water temperatures. However, with more and more Rams being farm raised and selectively bred in aquarium conditions, they are slowly becoming more tolerant of a wider range of water parameters. While their small size makes them suitable for smaller aquariums (20 gallons), it is generally easier to maintain more consistent water parameters in larger aquariums. Blue Balloon Rams also do better in groups of 5 to 10 individual Rams than as a single specimen or a pair, thus they will need a reasonably sized aquarium (30 gallon plus) to properly support the group. Rams require excellent water quality with a low TDS (total dissolved solids), along with solid biological, mechanical and chemical filtration. This is usually achieved by using a canister filter that is sized for the next larger aquarium than the one being used to house the Rams. Weekly partial water changes are also good at keeping TDS low and overall water quality high. Keeping them in heavily planted aquariums is also an effective, as plants readily remove ammonia and nitrate from the aquarium as they use it as a food source. Rams are best housed in groups of 5 or more individuals, as they would live in social groups in the wild. While they are peaceful towards other tank mates, they fight amongst themselves to establish a group hierarchy. Larger groups of fish help to spread out their in-fighting, which makes it easier on the group as a whole. They prefer aquariums with a sand, gravel or mixed substrate, plenty of plants and driftwood. Rocks, live plants and driftwood also work to create territory within the aquarium so that individuals can establish their own space within the tank. As the Blue Balloon Ram is a selectively bred farm raised species, thus they are very used to consuming commercially processed flake and pellet foods. They are generally considered aggressive feeders, who will eagerly swim to the aquarium glass as the hobbyist approaches in anticipation of being fed. As with most fish species, it is best to feed them a variety of food items in order to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system. Meaty flakes, mini-pellets, freeze-dried worms and frozen brine and mysis shrimp are ideal. They should be fed a couple times per day and amount that they will consume within five minutes.
Electric Blue Balloon Ram
(Microgeophagus ramirezi) Intermediate to Expert Peaceful 3" 20 gallons 76-82° F, KH 1-8, pH 5.0-6.8 Omnivore Farm raised, selective breeding Cichlidae Rams Cichlid-New-World The Electric Blue Balloon Ram or as it is also called the Electric Blue Angel Ram, is a selective bred variant of the Electric Blue Ram. Which is a color variant that has become very popular within the hobby, even though it is slightly more difficult to keep than its wild-type cousin. The Electric Blue Balloon Ram is a selectively bred variant which focuses on altering the body of the Ram to be taller, shorter and more stout the otherwise more stream lined standard Ram body. Since Rams have a relatively short natural life span of a little over 2 years, they mature from juveniles to adults rather quickly. The short lifespan of this species is also a factor when selecting individuals for purchase as the larger more colorful specimens tend to be older individuals. Older specimens also go through a form of menopause where they no will no longer spawn, thus hobbyists looking to breed need to select young specimens. Electric Blue Balloon Rams are generally considered to be an expert level only fish species due to their rather specific water parameter requirements. Rams require soft acidic water with very stable pH and water temperatures. However, with more and more Rams being farm raised and selectively bred in aquarium conditions, they are slowly becoming more tolerant of a wider range of water parameters. While their small size makes them suitable for smaller aquariums (20 gallons), it is generally easier to maintain more consistent water parameters in larger aquariums. Electric Blue Balloon Rams also do better in groups of 5 to 10 individual Rams than as a single specimen or a pair, thus they will need a reasonably sized aquarium (30 gallon plus) to properly support the group. Rams require excellent water quality with a low TDS (total dissolved solids), along with solid biological, mechanical and chemical filtration. This is usually achieved by using a canister filter that is sized for the next larger aquarium than the one being used to house the Rams. Weekly partial water changes are also good at keeping TDS low and overall water quality high. Keeping them in heavily planted aquariums is also an effective, as plants readily remove ammonia and nitrate from the aquarium as they use it as a food source. Rams are best housed in groups of 5 or more individuals, as they would live in social groups in the wild. While they are peaceful towards other tank mates, they fight amongst themselves to establish a group hierarchy. Larger groups of fish help to spread out their in-fighting, which makes it easier on the group as a whole. They prefer aquariums with a sand, gravel or mixed substrate, plenty of plants and driftwood. Rocks, live plants and driftwood also work to create territory within the aquarium so that individuals can establish their own space within the tank. As the Electric Blue Balloon Ram is a selectively bred farm raised species, thus they are very used to consuming commercially processed flake and pellet foods. They are generally considered aggressive feeders, who will eagerly swim to the aquarium glass as the hobbyist approaches in anticipation of being fed. As with most fish species, it is best to feed them a variety of food items in order to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system. Meaty flakes, mini-pellets, freeze-dried worms and frozen brine and mysis shrimp are ideal. They should be fed a couple times per day and amount that they will consume within five minutes.
German Gold Ram
(Microgeophagus ramirezi) Expert Peaceful 3" 20 Gallons 76-84° F, KH 1-8, pH 5.0-6.8 Omnivore Farm raised, selective breeding Cichlidae Rams New World Cichlid Aquarium The German Gold Ram is a selectively bred variant of the common Wild Ram, in which breeders have accentuated the natural gold coloration. While Wild Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) are endemic to the Orinoco River basin, in the savannas of Venezuela and Colombia in South America, the selectively bred German Gold Ram is raised in fish farms in Germany, Southeast Asia, Israel and North America. Their natural habitat is warm (25.5-29.5 °C, 78-85 °F), acidic (pH 4.5-6.8) with slow flowing waters, containing very few dissolved minerals, and ranging in color from clear to darkly stained with tannins. Wild Rams are typically found where cover from the heavily vegetated shoreline or fallen or submerged trees and tree roots provide them with shelter from larger predatory species, while offering plenty of feeding opportunities with micro-crustaceans and insect larvae. Juvenile specimens tend to be a little bit dull or transparent in color, but will quickly "color up" as they mature into adults. Since Rams have a relatively short natural life span of about 2 years, they mature from juveniles to adults rather quickly. The short lifespan of this species is also a factor when selecting individuals for purchase as the larger more colorful specimens tend to be older individuals. Older specimens also go through a form of menopause where they no will no longer spawn, thus hobbyists looking to breed need to select young specimens. German Gold Rams are generally considered to be an expert level only fish species due to their rather specific water parameter requirements. Wild Rams require soft acidic water with very stable pH and water temperatures; however, selectively bred farm raised species like the German Gold Ram are more flexible on water parameters. While farmed raised specimens are more tolerant of water parameters, they do require excellent water conditions. While their small size makes them suitable for smaller aquariums (20 gallons), it is generally easier to maintain more consistent water parameters in larger aquariums. They do best in groups of 5 to 10 individuals as opposed to a single specimen or a pair; however, an established or mated pair will also do well together. Keeping a group of Rams requires a reasonably sized aquarium (30 gallon plus) to properly support the group. Rams require excellent water quality with a low TDS (total dissolved solids), along with solid biological, mechanical and chemical filtration. High quality water conditions are usually achieved by using a canister filter, sump filter or high-end power filter that is sized for the next larger aquarium than the one being used to house the Rams. Weekly partial water changes are also good at keeping TDS low and overall water quality high. Rams are best housed in groups of 5 or more individuals, as they would live in social groups in the wild. While they are peaceful towards other tank mates, they fight amongst themselves to establish a group hierarchy. Larger groups of fish help to spread out their in-fighting, which makes it easier on the group as a whole. They prefer aquariums with a sand, gravel or mixed substrate, plenty of plants and driftwood. Rocks, live plants and driftwood also work to create territory within the aquarium so that individuals can establish their own space within the tank. As the German Gold Ram is a selectively bred farm raised species, they are very used to consuming commercially processed flake and pellet foods. They are generally considered aggressive feeders, who will eagerly swim to the aquarium glass as the hobbyist approaches in anticipation of being fed. As with most fish species, it is best to feed them a variety of food items in order to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system. Meaty flakes, mini-pellets, freeze-dried worms and frozen brine and mysis shrimp are ideal for German Blue Rams. They should be fed a couple times per day and amount that they will consume within five minutes. German Gold Rams once they are sexually mature will form monogamous pairs prior to any spawning activity. Generally the first signs of spawning activity is that the male Ram will aggressively keep any other male Rams away from his female and their preferred spawning location. In general the mated pair will become very intolerant of other Rams or similarly sized and shaped fish species in their desired spawning location. Typically Rams will spawn on flat rock surfaces, smooth flat wood surfaces or in small depressions that they will dig in the substrate. Like many Cichlids, Ram Cichlids practice bi-parental brood care, with both the male and the female playing roles in caring for the eggs and defending their spawning territory. They will typically produce a clutch of between 125 to 325 eggs, though larger clutches have been reported. The parents will watch over the eggs, defend against fish trying to eat the eggs and fan the eggs with their fins if they determine there is insufficient water flow or improper temperature near the nest. After about 40 to 48 hours, the eggs will hatch into larvae, who will not be free-swimming for approximately 5 days. After which the parents will escort the dense school of babies to areas of the aquarium to forage on micro fauna, insect larvae or other micro foods.
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Spotted Severum
(Heros notatus) Easy Semi-aggressive 12" 50 gallons 72-84° F, KH 4-10, pH 5.5-7.0 Omnivore Amazon Basin, Rio Negro, Brazil Cichlidae Severum Cichlid-New-World Spotted Severum (Heros notatus) are native to the blackwater streams and tributaries of Rio Negro basin and surrounding areas of northern Brazil. Their native river habitat is considered a blackwater biotope, as the aquatic environment in these areas has water that is stained brown from tree root and decaying leaf matter, along with filtered lighting due to the sun being heavily blocked by the thick jungle canopy. While the rivers and larger tributaries often have fast flowing waters, Spotted Severum are usually found living on marginal areas of the water ways in and amongst submerged tree root and dense aquatic vegetation. The Spotted Severum can be considered a community Cichlid species, as the combination of their mild temperament and larger size allows them to be kept with a wide variety of Cichlid species and even larger community fish species such as barbs, larger characins and larger sharks and loaches. They can also hold their own with semi-aggressive to aggressive Cichlid species like Oscars, Jack Dempsey, Pike Cichlids and other similar larger predators. Keep in mind that the Spotted Severum despite having a good temperament, will eat smaller fish that they can fit in their mouth and will be seen as food themselves by very large predators like large Snakehead, Arapaima or even very large Peacock Bass. An aquarium of around 50 gallons should be considered a minimum size aquarium for Spotted Severum, with a pair of Severum needing an aquarium closer to 75 gallons, or if multiple tank mates are added. They ideally prefer a fine sand or small smooth gravel substrate as they will scoop sand with their mouths looking for food items. They will also greatly prefer a tank with plenty of structures for shelter, like driftwood, rocky piles, rock formations, cave-like structures and either live or fake plants. Live plants are greatly appreciated, but do not always last long unless a prolific species is used (Anacharis, Cabomba, Hornwort); although omnivorous they have a sweet tooth for live plants and vegetables. High quality biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration is recommended, as they are Cichlids who with thick bodies and larger food consumption, will put out a fair amount of waste products into the water. They prefer water that is slightly acidic and soft, with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0 and a hardness of up to 10°H. Lighting intensity is not an issue; however, to best replicate their native environment some areas of shade or diffused lighting will be appreciated. This can be achieved through floating plants, thick vegetation or larger rocky cave structures. Spotted Severum are omnivorous, who eat a variety of foods including: insects, small crustaceans and vegetable matter present in their natural habitat. They have a tendency to prefer a lot of vegetable matter and will accept peas, lettuce, chopped zucchini, and chopped cucumber; they should also be supplemented with a variety of meaty and vitamin enriched foods such as live, frozen or freeze-dried ghost shrimp, bloodworms, mealworms, earthworms, crickets, and nutritional cichlid and algae (Spirulina) based pellets. They will also do very well with quality stable pellet or stick foods designed for Cichlids and omnivores. It is best to feed between one to three times daily an amount of food they will consume within a few minutes. As the Spotted Severum is not seen for sale nearly as much other Severum species, it is believed that they are not being successfully bred in large numbers with commercial fish breeders. Most specimens commonly found within the trade are imported wild caught specimens or juvenile specimens from boutique or hobbyist breeders. Hobbyists looking to breed Spotted Severum (Heros notatus) will most likely find the most difficult aspect being the acquisition of a group of individuals, from which over time a mating pair can emerge. Beyond establishing a mating pair, providing a proper habitat and maintaining water conditions conducive to stimulating breeding, other aspects of breeding should be fairly common to other Severum species. In general breeding Severum is not overly difficult, but they can often take quite a while to pair up. The parents will look for a cave or a flat rock surface or section of driftwood and the female will lay between 200-800 eggs; the male will fertilize them and then the female will tend to the eggs while the male patrols the perimeter. The eggs will hatch in 3-5 days and the fry will be relocated to a pre-dugout pit area in the substrate. The fry will be free-swimming within a week and then able to accept finely crushed flake food and baby brine shrimp. As with other Severum species, it may take a while for the breeding pair to get it right and it is common for the parents to eat the fry at various stages for the first dozen or so attempts. They will eventually sort things out and get it right, but the fry could also be removed and raised if continuous failed attempts are excessive.
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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.
Powder Blue Cichlid
(Pseudotropheus socolofi) Easy Semi-aggressive 5" 75 gallons 75-82° F, KH 10-25, pH 7.5-8.8 Herbivore Lake Malawi Cichlidae African Cichlid Cichlid-African Native to the coastal waters of Lake Malawi near Mozambique, the Powder Blue Cichlid (Pseudotropheus socolofi) is found living just off the rocky shoreline in an area of mixed rocks and sand flats between the shore and deeper regions of the lake. They stay close to areas with rock caves and crevices on which they feed on algae and micro-crustaceans, and where they can retreat to the safety of a cave or rocky crevice if they feel threatened by large fish species. As far as mbuna species go, the Powder Blue Cichlid is by far more peaceful than most. This along with their brilliant coloration and pattern has made them a very popular species for hobbyists keeping African Cichlids. While more peaceful than most mbuna species, this species is not suitable for aquariums housing community fish or South American Cichlids. Hobbyists should aquascape the aquarium with mitigating territorial aggression in mind. Proper aquarium decor design, aquarium size and aquarium tank mates will play a crucial role in whether the Powder Blue Cichlid and its African Cichlid tank mates aggression is properly mitigated. The Aquarium Care section below covers the most effective ways to aquascape an African Cichlid tank in order to mitigate aggression and allow for keeping different species together in an African Cichlid community tank. When keeping groups of African Cichlids, they should generally be kept in aquariums of 75 gallons or larger in order to provide enough room to properly recreate their natural environment. It is important to provide plenty of rocky caves and crevices 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. Provide plenty of rocks within the aquarium in order to create surface area for algae growth, which is a very beneficial secondary food source the Powder Blue Cichlid and other herbivores and omnivores living within the aquarium. Like many species of African Cichlids, the Powder Blue Cichlid is semi-aggressive and proper stocking and aquascaping should be well thought out to prevent severe territorial battles between aquarium inhabitants. The Powder Blue Cichlid feeds primarily on algae, plant matter and the micro crustaceans found living on the algae and plants they graze on. In the aquarium environment, hobbyists will want to feed this species a diet based on vegetable and plant matter in the form of a high quality vegetable based flake or pellet food along with naturally occurring algae growth within the aquarium. Additionally, they should be provided with blanched spinach, nori or other similar foods from time to time. While they may also consume meaty or combination flake or pellet foods designed for omnivorous African Cichlid species, the bulk of their diet should come from vegetable based foods in order for them to maintain a healthy immune system.
Cobalt Blue Zebra
(Maylandia callainos) Easy Aggressive 5" 50 gallons 75-82° F, KH 10-15, pH 7.8-8.8 Herbivore Lake Malawi Cichlidae African Cichlid Cichlid-African The Cobalt Blue Zebra (Maylandia callainos) is endemic to Lake Malawi, where it is most commonly found living in the north and north eastern areas of the lake. They are found living in rocky formations along the shoreline, where they live in and around rock caves and crevices. Cobalt Blue Zebra Cichlid are very territorial and once they have established themselves within a particular area they will defend their turf very aggressively. Cobalt Blue Zebra Cichlid were formerly classified as Pseudotropheus callainos or Metriaclima callainos and is still often referenced by these names by many sources. The genus name Maylandia is now used to describe all former members of the (zebra) group of Pseudotropheus. Hobbyists should either keep a small group of a single male specimen and 2 or 3 female Cobalt Blue Zebras together in an aquarium that is either large enough to provide adequate territory or overcrowded with enough African Cichlids so that no single specimen can establish its own territory. In either scenario, a 50 gallon or larger aquarium is recommended with a substrate of either sand or mixed sand and crushed coral. Plenty of rock formations, rock piles or rocky caves should be included with some vegetation consisting of fake plants or very hardy hard water plants. Hobbyists can successful keep this species in small groups in smaller aquariums or mixed with large numbers of specimens in larger African Cichlid aquariums. When kept in larger community aquariums they must be provided adequate filtration, plenty of dissolved oxygen and have their territorial nature accommodated either by aquarium size and aquascaping or mitigated via over crowding. In order to replicate the waters of their natural habitat, hobbyists will want to provide plenty of water surface agitation or wet/dry filtration to provide high levels of dissolved oxygen within the aquarium. The main tank filtration should consist of a canister filter or wet/dry filter with additional water movement via a powerhead being recommended. The aquarium decor should provide plenty of rocky formations which provide caves and crevices for the fish to retreat to when it feels threatened, along with open sandy areas for swimming. Hardy plants that can tolerate the high pH of the African Rift Lake environment are also recommended for their looks and additional filtration properties. Cobalt Blue Zebra Cichlid will accept most commercial fish foods designed for Cichlids; however, it is essential that they receive a large amount of vegetable matter in their diet. Being a herbivore, their diet should consist of mostly vegetable matter either via commercial herbivore flakes and pellets or through fresh blanched vegetables like spinach, greens or other similar foodstuffs. Hobbyists looking to breed Cobalt Blue Zebra will want to keep a single male specimen with three to four females in a 4o to 50 gallon aquarium setup specifically for breeding. The males are easily identified as they are far more brightly colored than females. A proper breeding aquarium setup will include a few flat stones and areas of open substrate that the fish can use as a spawning site. The aquarium conditions should be maintained at a constant 8.2 to 8.4 pH and 78 to 80°F temperature. The fish should also be fed either live or high quality frozen foods to ensure that they have all the vitamins and minerals they need. When the male is preparing to breed he will exhibit very intense coloration and will choose a spawning site that he will then attempt to attract one of the females to join him and mate. In addition to exhibiting brilliant coloration, the male will also aggressively court the females by pursuing them vigorously about the tank. Because of this aggressive courting behaviour it is important to have a group of females in the tank so that the males overtures are spread out amongst the group and do not overwhelm a single female. Once a female has been successfully courted, she will lay her eggs in the nesting site that the male has prepared. The female will then scoop the eggs up into her mouth, during which the male which exhibits egg shapes spots on his tail fins will swim in front of the female and deposit his sperm while the female and the eggs are next to his tail fin. The female will carry the eggs in her mouth for about 1 month before she release the free swimming fry. It is important that the female is not stressed during this time as she will not be feeding and will be somewhat weak from lack of food and carrying the fry in her mouth. If she is stressed she may spit out the brood prematurely or even eat the young fry. It is for this reason that the other breeding fish should be removed from the aquarium so as not to cause undue stress to the brooding mother. However, once the female has released the fry from her mouth she should be returned to the main group of fish, so that she does not lose her place in the group hierarchy.
Maingano Cichlid
(Melanochromis cyaneorhabdos) Easy Aggressive 4" 55 gallons 76-84° F, KH 10-25, pH 7.8-8.8 Herbivore Lake Malawi Cichlidae African Cichlid Cichlid-African Hailing from the shallow waters of the banks and tributaries of Lake Malawi, Africa, the Maingano Cichlid is priced within the aquarium hobby for its beautiful dark blue and black coloration and unique color pattern. In the wild, the Maingano Cichlid is found inhabiting the shallow rocky shorelines of the northern and north eastern areas of Lake Malawi. They are very aggressive and territorial in nature, with a single male specimen dominating a small area of rocky caves and crevices and a small group of female specimens. There natural habitat consists of shallow rocky shoreline flats, with highly oxygenated waters and an abundance of small rock caves and crevices. Ideally, aquarium hobbyists should keep a small group of a single male specimen and 2 or 3 female Naingano Cichlids together in an aquarium that is either large enough to provide adequate territory or overcrowded with African Cichlids so that no single specimen can establish its own territory. In either scenario, a 55 gallon or larger aquarium is recommended with a substrate of either sand or mixed sand and crushed coral. Plenty of rock formations, rock piles or rocky caves should be included with some vegetation. Maingano Cichlids are used to warm waters and high levels of dissolved oxygen within the water. Hobbyists can successful keep this species in small groups in smaller aquariums or mixed with large numbers of specimens in larger African Cichlid aquariums, provided adequate filtration and dissolved oxygen are provided. In order to replicate the waters of their natural habitat, hobbyists will want to provide plenty of water surface agitation or wet/dry filtration to provide high levels of dissolved oxygen within the aquarium. The main tank filtration should consist of a canister filter or wet/dry filter with additional water movement via a powerhead being recommended. The aquarium decor should provide plenty of open sandy areas for swimming combined with plenty of rocky formations to provide caves and crevices for the fish to retreat to when it feels threatened. Hardy plants that can tolerate the high pH of the African Rift Lake environment are also recommended for their looks and additional filtration properties. Maingano Cichlid will accept most any type of foods that are offered, but they need a good amount of vegetable matter in the form of spirulina flakes, blanched spinach etc. Vegetable matter should form a large proportion of their diet, with meaty foods being a supplement. Hobbyists should feed quality flake, freeze-dried or frozen foods a couple of times a day in amounts that the fish will consume within a few minutes. Maingano Cichlids are not too difficult to breed in the home aquarium when provided the proper environment. Hobbyists will want to isolate a small group consisting of a single male and 3 to 5 females in a species only aquarium setup. The tank should be about 30 gallons in size and be furnished with areas of open substrate and a few large flat stones or slate. It is important to closely replicate the water conditions that the Maingano Cichlid would expect during the breeding season, which consist of a pH between 8.2 & 8.5 and a temperature around 80°F. It is very important that the water quality is excellent and that the fish are fed a high quality diet consisting mainly of quality frozen foods with plenty of vegetable matter. When the male is preparing to breed he will exhibit very intense coloration and will choose a spawning site that he will then attempt to attract one of the females to join him and mate. In addition to exhibiting brilliant coloration, the male will also aggressively court the females by pursuing them vigorously about the tank. Because of this aggressive courting behaviour it is important to have a group of females in the tank so that the males overtures are spread out amongst the group and do not overwhelm a single female. Once a female has been successfully courted, she will lay her eggs in the nesting site that the male has prepared. The female will then scoop the eggs up into her mouth, during which the male which exhibits egg shapes spots on his tail fins will swim in front of the female and deposit his sperm while the female and the eggs are next to his tail fin. The female will carry the eggs in her mouth for about 1 month before she release the free swimming fry. It is important that the female is not stressed during this time as she will not be feeding and will be somewhat weak from lack of food and carrying the fry in her mouth. If she is stressed she may spit out the brood prematurely or even eat the young fry. It is for this reason that the other breeding fish should be removed from the aquarium so as not to cause undue stress to the brooding mother. However, once the female has released the fry from her mouth she should be returned to the main group of fish, so that she does not lose her place in the group hierarchy.
Malawi Eye-Biter
(Dimidiochromis compressiceps) Easy Semi-aggressive 10" 70 gallons 76-82° F, KH 10-25, pH 7.5-8.6 Carnivore Lake Malawi Cichlidae African Cichlid Cichlid-African The Malawi Eye-Biter is one of those fish species that has a well deserved common name that clearly illustrates its behavior. Malawi Eye-Biters are well known for their propensity to bite or eat the eyes out of smaller fish species before consuming them tail first. Both habitats are a bit unusual as most fish simply swallow their prey head first and do not specifically attack the preys eyes. With a well deserved reputation such as this it is understandable that this species is not suited for most community African Cichlid aquariums. Malawi Eye-Biter need to be house with larger species that will not be considered as a food source. A general rule of thumb is that Malawi Eye-Biter tank mates be at least six inches in length or just over half as long as an adult Malawi Eye-Biter. This species is endemic to all of Lake Malawi and are commonly collected for the aquarium trade, where they are typically sold as Malawi Eye-Biters or Compressiceps Cichlids. The Malawi Eye-Biter (Dimidiochromis compressiceps) grows to about 10 to 11 inches in length and requires an aquarium of at least 70 gallons in size, but does better in a longer aquarium like a 125 gallon. A larger properly aqua-scaped aquarium will provide more suitable territory, which will allow the Malawi Eye-Biter to co-exist more easily with other large African Cichlid tank mates. Their large mouths and aggressive temperament make the Malawi Eye-Biter unsuitable for most African community aquariums where there is a wide variety in the sizes of the fish. However, they do fine with tank mates that are not seen as a prey item, ie. too large to fit in their mouth. They do best in aquariums designed to replicate the shoreline of their natural Lake Malawi habitat. Ideal tank decor would include a sandy substrate, large smooth rocks piles or caves, open swimming areas and areas of vegetation. They are accustomed to living in shallow water that reaches temperatures well into the 80's during the middle of the day, thus will prefer aquariums with water temperatures between 79 to 82°F. Malawi Eye-Biter live near the shoreline where there are not strong water currents like that produced from power heads or filter returns, thus they will appreciate an aquarium environment with gentle or indirect water flow. In their natural habitat the Malawi Eye-Biter feeds primarily on smaller fish that it hunts for in the vegetation growing along the Lake Malawi shore line. They will readily consume any fish in the aquarium small enough for them to fit in their mouth, including both bait fish and fellow tank mates. Malawi Eye-Biters can easily be weaned off of live fish for a variety of other dead meaty foods, which is generally safer and more cost effective. Fresh or frozen foods like silver sides, lance fish, mussels, prawns, cockle and other similar meaty items make excellent food choices. They can also be fed a quality pellet or frozen preparation designed for carnivorous African Cichlid species once they are weaned from live foods. It is best to feed them multiple smaller feedings per day and to monitor their overall growth to determine the ideal feeding regimen.
Albino Malawi Eye-Biter
(Dimidiochromis compressiceps) Easy Semi-aggressive 10" 70 gallons 76-82° F, KH 10-25, pH 7.5-8.6 Carnivore Lake Malawi Cichlidae African Cichlid Cichlid-African The Albino Malawi Eye-Biter is one of those fish species that has a well deserved common name that clearly illustrates its behavior. Albino Malawi Eye-Biters are well known for their propensity to bite or eat the eyes out of smaller fish species before consuming them tail first. Both habitats are a bit unusual as most fish simply swallow their prey head first and do not specifically attack the preys eyes. With a well deserved reputation such as this it is understandable that this species is not suited for most community African Cichlid aquariums. Albino Malawi Eye-Biter need to be house with larger species that will not be considered as a food source. A general rule of thumb is that Albino Malawi Eye-Biter tank mates be at least six inches in length or just over half as long as an adult Albino Malawi Eye-Biter. This species is endemic to all of Lake Malawi and are commonly collected for the aquarium trade, where they are typically sold as Albino Malawi Eye-Biters or Albino Compressiceps Cichlids. The Albino Malawi Eye-Biter (Dimidiochromis compressiceps) grows to about 10 to 11 inches in length and requires an aquarium of at least 70 gallons in size, but does better in a longer aquarium like a 125 gallon. A larger properly aqua-scaped aquarium will provide more suitable territory, which will allow the Albino Malawi Eye-Biter to co-exist more easily with other large African Cichlid tank mates. Their large mouths and aggressive temperament make the Albino Malawi Eye-Biter unsuitable for most African community aquariums where there is a wide variety in the sizes of the fish. However, they do fine with tank mates that are not seen as a prey item, ie. too large to fit in their mouth. They do best in aquariums designed to replicate the shoreline of their natural Lake Malawi habitat. Ideal tank decor would include a sandy substrate, large smooth rocks piles or caves, open swimming areas and areas of vegetation. They are accustomed to living in shallow water that reaches temperatures well into the 80's during the middle of the day, thus will prefer aquariums with water temperatures between 79 to 82°F. Albino Malawi Eye-Biter live near the shoreline where there are not strong water currents like that produced from power heads or filter returns, thus they will appreciate an aquarium environment with gentle or indirect water flow. In their natural habitat the Albino Malawi Eye-Biter feeds primarily on smaller fish that it hunts for in the vegetation growing along the Lake Malawi shore line. They will readily consume any fish in the aquarium small enough for them to fit in their mouth, including both bait fish and fellow tank mates. Albino Malawi Eye-Biters can easily be weaned off of live fish for a variety of other dead meaty foods, which is generally safer and more cost effective. Fresh or frozen foods like silver sides, lance fish, mussels, prawns, cockle and other similar meaty items make excellent food choices. They can also be fed a quality pellet or frozen preparation designed for carnivorous African Cichlid species once they are weaned from live foods. It is best to feed them multiple smaller feedings per day and to monitor their overall growth to determine the ideal feeding regimen.
Yellow Peacock
(Aulonocara baenschi) Moderate Semi-aggressive 6" 55 gallons 76-84° F, KH 10-25, pH 7.5-8.8 Carnivore Lake Malawi Cichlidae African Cichlid Cichlid-African The Yellow Peacock (Aulonocara baenschi) is endemic to Lake Malawi and the areas of around Nkhomo reef and Kande Island. They are generally found living where the rocky shoreline transitions into the more sandy substrate of the lake bottom. Yellow Peacocks feed in a similar fashion as Geophagus species in that they sift through the sand substrate by pushing the sand through their gills and extracting small invertebrates hidden in the sand. However, unlike the South American Geophagus, Yellow Peacocks are also active hunters that will also actively prey on small prey items that it detects moving about the substrate or if it spots movement in the sand. Like most species of African Cichlid the Yellow Peacock lives in small groups of a single male and a small group of females. They will lay claim to small piece of territory that provides them adequate feeding opportunities. Once they have established their territory they will aggressively defend it from similarly sized and patterned fish species or anything that they determine to be competition for food. Yellow Peacock (Aulonocara baenschi) make a good addition to most any community Lake Malawi aquarium, as they will generally get along with most other Lake Malawi species that do not have the same pattern and size as the Yellow Peacock. However, they are peaceful enough to keep with similar species providing the aquarium is large enough to provide multiple territories for each group of fish. Yellow Peacock Cichlids do best in Lake Malawi biotope aquariums, which contain a sand substrate, large rock piles, rocky caves and some scattered hard water tolerant plants. A sand substrate is most critical as the Yellow Peacock is a species likes to feed by taking in mouthfuls of sand and blowing it out of its gills, removing any food items it finds. Be sure to leave plenty of areas of open sand between the rocks to provide feeding areas and to create multiple territories within the aquarium. The Yellow Peacock is considered a good Rift Lake community aquarium species, as it will only exhibit aggression towards fish species that are very similar in size and pattern. Yellow Peacocks are also peaceful enough to be housed with some non Cichlid hard water Barb species and Rainbow fish. Care should be taken when keeping this species with aggressive substrate dwelling African Cichlid species as they will often be out competed for food by these more boisterous fish. The Yellow Peacock is a substrate feeder that in nature will both sand sift and actively prey on small invertebrates and crustaceans living on and in the sandy lake substrate. In the aquarium environment, the Yellow Peacock will readily accept a wide variety of commercial meaty foods. Ideally they should be fed foodstuffs that will sink to the aquarium substrate, where they can feed in a more natural manner. Commercial pellet and frozen foods designed for African Cichlids should make up the bulk of their diet, with live or frozen worms as a supplement. Given time they may become bold enough to feed from the water column; however, the hobbyist should make sure that some of the food reaches the aquarium substrate so that the Yellow Peacock can feed in a more natural manner.
Red Tiger Lotus
(Nymphaea Zenkeri) Easy Medium 10-32" All 70-86° F, KH 3-15, pH 5.5-7.8 Seeds Red/Green Root tabs, Iron supplement, CO2 West Africa Nymphaeaceae Lotus Red Tiger Lotus (Nymphaea Zenkeri) originates from West Africa where it is found growing in drainage ditches, the margins around lakes and ponds and other areas of stagnant water. The relatively shallow water in its native habitat has made this plant quite tolerant of water temperature, lighting and dissolved CO2 in the water. When under high lighting and CO2 the Red Tiger Lotus will grow more rapidly, but it is equally at home in environments with medium lighting intensity and no added CO2. Red Tiger Lotus are capable of absorbing atmospheric CO2 from the lilly pads that reach the surface of the water, which accelerates their growth compared to plants that must take in all of their CO2 from the water column. The Red Tiger Lotus will grow to about 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide in ideal water and lighting conditions. They will extend arrow shaped lilly pads to the surface of the water, producing red or blue flowers. It is these flowers that once they fruit will produce the seeds that propagate the plant. The seeds develop into bulbs that root them selves into the substrate and begin the growth of another plant. Without a doubt the Red Tiger Lotus (Nymphaea Zenkeri) will quickly become a center piece of the aquarium due to its brilliant red and green coloration, arrow shaped red leaves, lilly pads and bright red or blue flowers. It not only looks attractive, but also serves to create areas underneath the broad leaves and lilly pads that is filtered from the bright aquarium lights, which is ideal for fish or inverts who appreciate areas of diffused or filtered lighting. Additionally, it is a versatile plant that can look great in all different areas of the aquarium and can integrate well with a wide variety of other plants, driftwood and rock scapes. Red Tiger Lotus is generally sold within the aquarium hobby as either a bulb or a small juvenile plant with an existing root system. If purchased as a bulb, make sure that the bulb is firm and not soft or squishy which would indicate it is dead. A good firm bulb can be planted about a third of the way into the aquarium substrate or simply place on top of the substrate, where it will begin to establish a root system and producing leaves. Do not bury the bulb too deep or completely covered by the substrate as this will kill the plant. While the Red Tiger Lotus can absorb nutrients and CO2 from the water column, it is primarily a root feeder and does best with a soil rich in iron; additionally, once its leaves have reached the surface of the water where it will take in atmospheric CO2. When kept in aquariums with plant substrates or dirt the Red Tiger Lotus will grow out extensive root systems and take in much of its nutrients through the roots. However, in aquariums with inert substrates the Red Tiger Lotus will be forced to take in the majority of its nutrition from the water column. In these cases it is best not to plant it near more sensitive plant species that it will out compete for nutrients and starve out. Often times with this species hobbyists find that its growth is too rapid, which is often the case in tanks with high intensity lighting, use of liquid fertilizers and CO2. The two primary ways to slow down the growth of the Red Tiger Lotus is to trim leaves before they reach the surface of the aquarium or constrain the roots so that they cannot spread into the whole substrate. Keeping leaves and lilly pads from reaching the surface of the water keeps the Red Tiger Lotus from accessing atmospheric CO2, which is much more abundant than dissolved CO2 in the water column. Constraining the root system prevents the plant from accessing all the iron and nutrient rich soil or plant substrate throughout the entire aquarium. Limiting both CO2 access and root growth controls the amount of fuel the plant has access to and thus controls the rate of growth of the plant. The Red Tiger Lotus propagates through producing lotus flowers at the surface of the water, which produce a large amount of seeds which when dropped fall back into the water and can take root in the substrate and produce another plant. This is a very effective way for the plant to reproduce and in the aquarium environment the fast growing Red Tiger Lotus can quickly take over the aquarium. In order to keep the plant from taking over the entire aquarium it is best to trim surface flowers before they develop fruit and produce seeds. The flowers will only develop when leaves are allowed to grow to the surface of the water. Many hobbyists enjoy the look of surface leaves and the shading it provides within the aquarium, so trimming the flowers is the best approach. However, for those who do not want or care about surface leaves, they can simply trim the leaves before they reach the surface, which will prevent flowering, grow more submerged leaves and slow down the overall growth rate of the plant.
Needle Leaf Ludwigia
(Ludwigia arcuata) Easy Medium to High 20" Midground to Background 72-82° F, KH 3-11, pH 5.5-7.8 Cuttings, Seeds Green, Red/Yellow w/high lighting Trace Elements, CO2 Fertilization, Iron, Potassium Southeastern United States Onagraceae Ludwigia Needle Leaf Ludwigia (Ludwigia arcuata) is found growing both submerged and emersed in marshes, pond margins and drainage ditches in the Southeastern United States, primarily in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. It has a delicate looking reddish stem and thin needle like leaves that vary from green to red. Despite looking quite delicate, it is actually a very hardy species and when kept under the correct conditions will quickly branch and grow into bushy clusters reaching nearly 20" in height. Needle Leaf Ludwigia is an easy plant to grow that adds movement and dimension to the aquarium. The leaves are thin, pointed and grow in opposite pairs along the whole length of the stem. Depending on the amount of iron available in the water and the intensity of the water, the leaves can vary in color from green to red. If pruned frequently, this plant will branch out and provide a bushy filler for the mid-ground or background placements within the aquarium. Ludwigia arcuata is typically sold in a bunch of individual stems, marked for medium to high lighting and recommended for background applications in smaller tanks and mid-ground to background in larger tanks. Many hobbyists are attracted to this species due to the movement it creates within the aquarium as it slowly sways in the water currents. It is also excellent at creating thick bushy areas within the aquarium if pruned frequently, thus providing a bushy filler for the mid-ground or background applications. In more shallow tanks with high lighting Needle Leaf Ludwigia can grow to the surface and grow horizontally on the waters surface, where it will both produce brilliant yellow flowers and provide filtered shaded areas on the substrate below. Needle Leaf Ludwigia is a versatile plant, but to get the more desirable bright red color, hobbyists must provide high lighting and nutrient levels. High iron content is key in bringing out more red tones of the shoot apexes and the undersides of the leaves. CO2 injection is not required for the cultivation of this plant, but can help it grow more robustly. When grown emersed, the leaves tend to be more round like what is typically found on other types of ludwigia and will remain green. When grown under high light and submerged in an aquarium, the leaves turn thin and orange to red depending on iron and nutrient levels. Dosing with iron supplements will bring out the deepest red coloration. In nature reproduction occurs during the late spring and summer when mature plants develop bright yellow flowers just above the surface of the water. From these flowers seeds will develop and eventually drop off and find their way to the substrate, where they will develop into a new plant. Hobbyists looking to propagate Ludwigia Needle Leaf need simply cut off one of the numerous side shoots, branches or simply top off the plant and plant the newly cut stem into the substrate. In order to ensure proper root growth of the new cutting, remove any leaves from the last segment or node of the plant before replanting.
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.
Rotala Nanjenshan
(Rotala Nanjenshan) Easy Medium to High 12" Midground 74-82° F, KH 3-11, pH 5.8-7.5 Cuttings Green, Red, Yellow Trace Elements, CO2 Fertilization, Iron, Potassium Taiwan Lythraceae Rotala Rotala Nanjenshan is a plant native to smaller lakes, ponds and slowly moving water ways of Taiwan. The bright green coloration and intricate leaf pattern has made the Rotala Nanjenshan plant a very popular aquarium species. Rotala Nanjenshan typically grows to about 12 inches within the aquarium environment and is considered a mid-ground plant in most aquariums. Rotala Nanjenshan have stems that grow closely together with small plentiful leaves. This dense growth gives the plant a bushy appearance and is too dense for all but the smallest of fish to swim through. Both the dense growth and its delicate leaves make the Rotala Nanjenshan better suited for aquariums with smaller fish species that will not damage the plants fragile stems. Rotala Nanjenshan does best in aquariums that maintain a warm water temperature between 76 and 82 degrees and a light output of between 3 to 5 watts per gallon. Full spectrum lighting in the 5700 to 7000 kelvin range brings out the best coloration and growth rate in the plant. They do well in lighting conditions that vary between moderate to high lighting; however, growth will be slowed in moderate (3 watts per gallon) lighting conditions. Water flow should be in the gentle to moderate range, as strong water flow will often damage the plants delicate structure. Rotala Nanjenshan does best with a dense aquarium substrate of fine gravel between 2 to 3 inches in depth. Plant cuttings can simply be pushed in to the substrate, where they will in time grow a substantial root structure to hold the plant in place. Lastly, it is recommended to keep Rotala Nanjenshan with smaller fish species or larger fish species that are not overly active swimmers. Rotala Nanjenshan can easily be propagated through cutting stems off of an existing healthy plant. Simply cut the desired height of plant that you want and strip the leaves off an inch above where the stem will be placed into the substrate. The plant will grow roots from the last node of the stem and will in time establish a complete root system. In addition to proper lighting, hobbyists should provide a fertilizer containing iron, potassium and trace elements. CO2 will increase growth rate and bring out the full potential of the plant; however, it is not a requirement to grow Rotala Nanjenshan. Hobbyists who do not use CO2 should utilize a dosing product that contains a source of bio available organic carbon; such as, Seachem Flourish Excel or other similar product.
Anubias Congensis
(Anubias Congensis) Easy Low to Medium 16" Midground 72-80° F, KH 4-18, pH 5.5-9.0 Rhizome Division, Cuttings Green High Quality Aquarium Fertilizer, Iron-Rich Fertilizer Western Africa Araceae Anubias Congensis Anubias Congensis is tropical species from Western Africa, where it is common amongst the rivers, streams and bogs found in the region. Previously, this species was rarely seen within the aquarium hobby as the regions of Africa in which it grows were unstable due to warfare. More recently though exporters were able to export a sufficient amount of the species in order to establish farm raising of the plant. Anubias Congensis are now readily attainable within the hobby, which gives hobbyist's another hardy Anubias species that can thrive in a variety of conditions and aquarium setups. Anubias Congensis are excellent for Cichlid aquarium setups, as their thick strong leaves and root systems make them up to the challenge of co-existing with larger Cichlid species. They are also not on the menu for most all Herbivores, which makes them great additions to aquariums housing larger freshwater herbivores. Anubias Congensis is a hardy plant species that has only modest requirements when kept within the aquarium environment. They can grow both in the aquarium substrate and can be attached to driftwood or rocks, where their root system will gradually take hold of these harder surfaces. While they can adapt to a wide variety of conditions, they should not be kept in high light conditions. Instead they should be positioned where they will receive medium to low lighting or indirect lighting if housed in an aquarium with bright lighting. Their natural habitat has iron rich soil, thus Anubias Congensis should be supplemented with a quality iron-based supplement to provide them optimal nutrition. Anubias Congensis is considered to be a slower growing species that is not particularly stimulated by CO2 supplementation. Anubias Congensis are easy to propagate as they can be divided through rhizome division. The plant should be cut with very sharp, sterilized scissors in a location that is above the substrate. The cuttings can be grown fully submersed or partially submersed in paludariums or terrariums.
Myriophyllum
(Myriophyllum sp.) Moderate Medium 24" Background 70-84° F, pH 5.5-7.5, KH 3-8 Cuttings Green, Tan, Red Iron, Trace Elements, CO2 Supplementation North, Central and South America Halorhagaceae Myriophyllum is a fast growing species, native to the wetland regions of North America, Central America and South America. There are several different variations of the species, such as Myriophyllum propinquum, Myriophyllum aquaticum, and Myriophyllum mattogrossense. There is also another variation named, Myriophyllum tuberculatum, which is native to India and Southeast Asia. Myriophyllum is a very attractive species with frilly foliage that creates a rather delicate appearance. Myriophyllum has a color form that ranges from green to red (pink has been also been observed) and it makes a beautiful addition as a background plant. Myriophyllum requires regular dosing of iron-rich fertilizer and trace elements, and will thrive under moderate lighting of 2 to 3 watts per gallon from full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs. Myriophyllum will turn pale or whitish in coloration as an indication of iron or nutrient deficiency. CO2 injection is not necessary, but is recommended as it will lead to robust and vigorous growth. This species will require regular pruning that can be achieved by simply "topping" the plants at the level desired; the cuttings may be used for propagation. Myriophyllum tuberculatum is very similar to the other species of Myriophyllum, but its color form is a bright, burnt-orange to red and it requires high intensity lighting of at least 3.5 watts per gallon from full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs. Regular CO2 injection is also required for Myriophyllum tuberculatum as well as regular dosing of nitrates and phosphates (5-15ppm and 1-2ppm) that should be monitored closely and never be allowed to reach zero. Under optimal conditions, groupings of Myriophyllum tuberculatum can be eye-catching and beautiful when planted alongside green Myriophyllum or other contrasting plant species. Propagation of this species can be achieved from cuttings; simply cut the top half of an established stem or take a cutting from a side-shoot and gently replant it in the substrate after removing any leaves from the last node of the stem. The "parent" stem will quickly develop new shoots and the newly planted cutting will quickly develop a root system. Over time, the process will develop lush, bushy plants that have multiple lateral branches.
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Wisteria
(Hygrophila difformis) Easy Medium 20" Background 74-84° F, pH 6.0-7.5, KH 3-8 Cuttings Green Iron, Potassium, Trace Elements, Substrate Fertilizer, CO2 Supplementation Southeastern Asia Acanthaceae Hygrophila difformis, also known as Water Wisteria and Wisteria, is a beautiful species that can be found within marshy habitats of southern Asia. As its scientific name suggests, its forked, fern-like leaves will vary in form and appearance under different conditions. Its sturdy, bright-green, forked leaves provide an attractive contrast to other leaf shapes and make excellent cover for invertebrates and fry. Wisteria requires a moderate lighting intensity of at least 2 to 3 watts per gallon from full spectrum (5000-7000K) bulbs. With a nutrient-rich substrate and regular dosing of high quality liquid nutrients (iron, potassium, and trace elements), Wisteria will thrive and grow rapidly. Provide CO2 injection more robust and vigorous growth. Wisteria is very effective for inhibiting algae growth and removing excess nutrients and organic waste from the water column as well as releasing plenty of oxygen. Propagation of Wisteria is done by cutting the top half of a strong stem and replanting it in the substrate after removing any leaves from the bottom inch of the stem. The "parent" stem will quickly develop new shoots and over time, this process can develop lush, bushy specimens. In addition, new growth will develop from nodes on strong, established stems that are right above the substrate's surface, and over time the growth can creep across the substrate to new areas.
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Florida Fiddler Crab
(Uca sp.) Easy 2" 10 Peaceful Omnivore 74-84° F, KH 12-30, pH 7.8-8.4 Brown, Grey, Black, Red, Yellow Florida Crabs Ocypodidae Crabs The Florida Fiddler Crab (Uca sp.) is a variety of Fiddler Crab that is most commonly found within the aquarium hobby. Florida Fiddler Crabs are from the genus Uca, which consists of over 100 species of crabs commonly found in brackish coastal areas like mangrove swamps, salt marshes and sandy or muddy beach areas. The Florida Fiddler Crab is commonly seen within the aquarium hobby due to its small size, ease of care and ready availability. The species is often sold under a variety of common names including: Florida Fiddler Crab, Fiddler Crab, Signal Crab, Mini Crab, Calling Crab and Uca Crab. All crabs from the genus Uca are semi-aquatic in that they spend part of their time underwater and part of their time on land. To thrive in the aquarium environment the Florida Fiddler Crab will need either brackish water or freshwater with some aquarium salt added in order for the crab to be able to molt correctly. Also important in the molting process is adequate calcium and trace minerals, which can be provided by salt mixes or aragonite based substrates. Florida Fiddler Crabs will also need access to some area within the aquarium that is above the waterline. Ideally an area made up of sand, mud or a mix of the two combined with rocks, driftwood, shells of similar items under which to hide. The land portion of the aquarium should contain substrate that is deep enough to allow the crab to burrow under the sand, while providing a gradual transition into the water portion of the aquarium to allow easy access to both sections of the tank. Despite only spending part of their time in the water, the Florida Fiddler Crab requires proper water conditions in order to thrive. Since the crab spends a good portion of its life in the water, proper water quality and aquarium conditions should be maintained via a proper aquarium filter, heater and partial water changes. Florida Fiddler Crabs are more than capable escape artists who use power cables, filter tubes or other items that go in and out of the aquarium to climb out and escape. Hobbyists will need to have a secure and tight fitting lid on the aquarium to prevent the crab from climbing out. As with all crabs, the Florida Fiddler Crab is a true omnivorous scavenger that will consume a wide variety of organic material. Florida Fiddler Crabs will happily scavenge decaying plant matter, meaty foods and even detritus. Hobbyists should feed them flake foods, mini pellets, algae wafers or pellets, small worms or brine shrimp. Fiddler Crabs have a fairly short lifespan of approximately 1 to 2 years; however, during this time they live very active and interesting lives. They are avid explorers and feeders who will actively scavenge the entire aquarium looking for morsels of food and new places to explore. They are also avid breeders with males on the look out for suitable females which to court. During courtship, the males will wave their over sized claws above their head and tap them on the ground in an effort to attract nearby females. As one can imagine, multiple males within the same aquarium will often fight over the available females. Occasionally during these scraps a male crab will lose their big claw, in which case the smaller one will begin to grow larger and the lost claw will regenerate into a new (small) claw. Only the male of the species has this large brightly colored claw, with which it "calls" or signals the female crabs. The females simply have two small claws that are grey or tan in color.
White Specter Crayfish
(Procambarus Alleni) Easy 6" 30 Semi-aggressive Omnivore 66-86° F, KH 3-8, pH 6.5-8.0 White Australia Crayfish Parastacidae Crayfish The White Specter Crayfish is a variant of the Electric Blue Crayfish, which originates from the rivers and streams of Florida and the Florida Keys where it is found living amongst the dense vegetation of the river banks and bottom. The White Specter version of these crayfish are selectively bred from Electric Blue Crayfish, and so they can successfully interbreed with their blue cousins. These crayfish can live in almost any freshwater aquarium and are among the toughest freshwater invertebrates available within the hobby. They are very active and will actively explore the aquarium and not simply spend all of their time hiding under rocks. They are well known for keeping tanks clean and free of waste, and are especially useful in large aquariums of 30 gallons or more. Due to their maximum potential size, they should not be kept in aquariums any smaller than 30 gallons. These crayfish can live up to 5 or 6 years old with the proper care. Despite reaching an adult size of about 6 inches, they are actually quite peaceful towards both members of their own species and most fish species as well. They should be provided a freshwater aquarium of at least 30 gallons in size with plenty of rocks, and a substrate with a moderate grain size, sand or mixed sand and gravel substrate in which it can burrow in. White Specter Crayfish are not overly territorial towards their own kind, but they should be housed within aquariums of at least 30 gallons for a single adult specimen and will require larger aquariums for more than one specimen. While they are generally peaceful towards fish species and other invertebrates, they will eat fish that are very small and slow enough for the crayfish to catch. Providing the White Specter Crayfish plenty of easy meals consisting of meat based sinking pellets, blanched vegetables or algae wafers will help curb their aggression towards any fish living in the aquarium, as they will go for the easier meal. White Specter Crayfish also tolerate a wide range of aquarium conditions including pH, GH, temperature and water quality and should do well in any reasonable aquarium setup. As an omnivore, they will readily consume a wide variety of meaty and plant based foodstuffs. They will actively scavenge in the aquarium, eating any foodstuffs that they can find on the aquarium substrate including leftover meaty foods and decaying plant matter. Their diet should consist of meaty foods that they scavenge from the substrate along with naturally occurring algae growth, and should be supplemented with a quality sinking pellet, flake food and dried algae. Provide direct feeding twice per week to begin with and then adjust feeding frequency based on the overall growth rate of the crayfish.
Dwarf Orange Crayfish
(Cambarellus patzcuarensis sp. Orange) Easy 2" 5 Peaceful Omnivore 64-80° F, pH 6.8-8.0, KH 12-15 Orange, Tan Selective Breeding Crayfish Cambariidae Crayfish The Dwarf Orange Crayfish (Cambarellus patzcuarensis sp. Orange) is a wonderfully attractive selectively bred Crayfish that is priced for its coloration, temperament and small size. German breeders were able to combine multiple strains of Cambarellus patzcuarensis to obtain the wonderful orange coloration and small size of the Orange Dwarf Crayfish. Overall this species is very peaceful and should not bother live plants, fish or other inverts unless very hungry or if the fish or invert is extremely small. Unlike many of the larger ornamental crayfish who become more aggressive towards small fish, the Dwarf Orange Crayfish maintains a small size and peaceful demeanor, which makes them ideal substrate cleaners for peaceful community aquariums. Dwarf Orange Crayfish have very minimal husbandry requirements;however, an ideal setup would contain a soil/gravel substrate, rock or driftwood hiding places, some plants and a basic filter to maintain water quality and oxygenate the water. Hobbyists looking to keep multiple specimens should make sure that their is a hiding place for each specimen in order to limit aggression and provide a comfortable environment. Fish species like Loaches or many Cichlid species should be avoided as they will feed on moulting and young crayfish. Like most crayfish, the Dwarf Orange Crayfish is an omnivore and will eat a variety of decaying plant matter, meaty foods, detritus and even a very small slow swimming fish if he can catch one. They are not aggressive towards fish, plants or other crayfish, but may predate on extremely small fish or fry. They do best when fed a diet containing a variety of foods including: blanched vegetables (carrots, spinach, peas, zucchini, squash, etc.), spirulina tabs, artemia, krill, tubifex worms, white worms, chopped earthworms, blood worms, commercial flake and pellet foods.
Malaysian Trumpet Snail
(Melanoides tuberculata) Easy 1" 10 Peaceful Omnivore 68-80° F, dkh 9-13, pH 7.0-8.0 Varied Malaysia Snails Thiaridae Snails For aquarium hobbyist's who are looking for a beneficial snail species to consume excess algae and detritus in their planted or tropical community aquarium, they need look no further then the Malaysian Trumpet Snail. Malaysian Trumpet Snail are an attractive species of tropical snails that have a variety of shapes, colors and patterns which provide not only aesthetic beauty, but bring functional utility as well. They are renowned for their ability to clean algae from aquarium glass, plants and rocks; as well as, burrowing into the substrate to eat detritus and aerate the substrate. All in all they bring a lot of biological benefits to the aquarium and look good while they do it. While some snails have developed a reputation as an aquarium pest, the Malaysian Trumpet Snail has firmly established itself as a very desirable addition to any tropical community or planted community aquarium. Malaysian Trumpet Snail's do very well in a variety of tropical aquarium setups ranging from shrimp tanks to community fish and planted aquariums. They can handle a relatively wide range of temperatures and water conditions, given that the changes are gradual. While they do not have specific aquarium requirements, they do best in established aquariums that have stable water conditions and existing algae and detritus on which they can feed. Malaysian Trumpet Snail's have become very popular within the hobby as they do not tend to over multiply and will not consume live plants or sinking foods meant for bottom dwelling fish or inverts. They are also quite beneficial as they clean and aerate the aquarium substrate and clean algae from aquarium glass and plants. They should not be exposed to copper or copper based medicines as these can harm or kill snails and other invertebrates. The Malaysian Trumpet Snail's diet is ideal for the community aquarium hobbyist, as they consume both algae and detritus. They do not harm live plants and can even benefit them by eating algae that grows on the plants leaves. Malaysian Trumpet Snail's should not need supplemental feeding when kept in established planted or community aquariums as they will generally find plenty of detritus in the substrate and algae growth to keep them well fed. However, in less established aquariums they can be fed sinking algae pellets or wafers to supplement their diet. Like most tropical snail species, the Malaysian Trumpet Snail is a prolific breeder that will multiply based on the conditions and amount of food available to them. When kept in an aquarium without an over-abundance of algae or detritus, the Malaysian Trumpet Snail should not breed to problematic levels. In fact if the Malaysian Trumpet Snail begins to breed too large of numbers, it is a clear sign that the aquarium has an over-abundance of detritus or algae present in the system. Malaysian Trumpet Snail produce live young instead of eggs and do not have any special breeding requirements.
Malaya Shrimp
(Caridina sp. 'Malaya') Easy 3" 10 Peaceful Omnivore 65-78° F, dkh 3-12, pH 6.8-7.8 clear, gold, brown, red, blue, green and black Malaysia Shrimp Atyidae Shrimp The Malaya Shrimp is not surprisingly from the Southeast Asian country of Malaysia, where it is found inhabiting tropical streams, lakes and ponds. While it's introduction to the aquarium trade was only recently (late 2000's), the Malaya Shrimp has been spreading quickly throughout the hobby as it is easy to care for and breed. The wide variety of colors and patterns has made the Malaya Shrimp an instant success within the aquarium hobby trade, and will most likely lead to some very interesting selectively bred variants given time. This wide range of coloration's including: clear, gold, brown, red, blue, green and black have led to many miss-identifications of the species. Malaya Shrimp are in general easy to keep when kept in aquariums with stable water conditions and warm tropical temperatures. They can peacefully co-exist with other dwarf shrimp species or with peaceful community fish. They should ideally be provided an aquarium environment that contains rocks, driftwood and/or plants to provide both a place for algae growth and shelter for the shrimp should they feel threatened. It is important to house them in an aquarium with a mature filtration system and high water quality, as they are accustomed to high quality water in their natural environment. This will also go a long way towards extending their relatively short lifespan of around 2 years. It is also important to not expose Malaya Shrimp or other invertebrate species to copper based medications as this can kill them. They should not be housed with aggressive fish species or with community species such as loaches and puffers as they eat small shrimps in the wild. Malaya Shrimp are not picky eaters, as they will readily accept a wide variety of meaty and vegetable based foods. Their diet should consist of a variety of vegetable and meaty foods including: algae, blanched vegetables (spinach, zucchini, etc.), algae wafers, fish food pellets/flake, shrimp pellets, blood worms, tubifex worms, etc. They should generally be fed once per day an amount of food that they will completely consume within a couple of hours. Being that they are scavengers, they are used to eating what they can find, thus it is alright to miss some feedings or to go a couple days without feeding if necessary. When kept with fish species, they will scavenge the aquarium bottom for leftover foods and decaying plant material if kept with live plants. The breeding cycle of the Malaya Shrimp is a bit different than most of the dwarf shrimp species, as they produce larvae instead of fully formed miniature shrimp. The larvae will develop into miniature shrimp over the course of a few days and will from there continue to develop as other dwarf shrimp offspring do. What is unique about the Malaya Shrimp is that generally shrimp species that produce larval offspring require brackish water to breed; however, the Malaya Shrimp will successfully breed and develop in freshwater. From this point on the baby shrimp will continue to develop into adult shrimp provided that they are kept in stable water conditions, have a steady food source and are not kept with predators that would eat them.
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Yellow Shrimp
(Neocaridina heteropoda var. Yellow) Easy 2" 10 Peaceful Omnivore 65-85° F, dkh 3-15, pH 6.5-8.0 Yellow Selectively bred in Japan Shrimp Atyidae Shrimp The Yellow Shrimp has become a hobbyist favorite as it is one of the few freshwater invertebrates species to display a bright yellow coloration. Yellow Shrimp are a selectively bred variant of the wild Red Cherry Shrimp, that has been cultivated to bring out the yellow color morph. They have become so popular within the hobby that there production has become very widespread, with breeders all over the world now producing them in large numbers. Overall the Yellow Shrimp is an excellent aquarium species that brings vibrant color, is easy to keep and breed and is easily attainable within the aquarium hobby trade. Yellow Shrimp are a very hardy species that can easily thrive and breed within the aquarium environment when given stable water parameters and a steady food source. They should be kept with peaceful freshwater fish species in either a planted aquarium or a community aquarium with plenty of plants, rocks or driftwood to provide them with cover when threatened and a place to forage for algae. Like most freshwater invertebrate species, the Yellow Shrimp needs clean water with good filtration in order to thrive within an aquarium environment. It is also important to not expose this or other invertebrate species to copper based medications as this can kill them. Yellow Shrimp should not be housed with aggressive fish species or with community species such as Loaches and Puffers as they eat small shrimps in the wild. Yellow Shrimp feed primarily on freshwater algae, and are coveted for this as they make excellent tank cleaners. However, they will also consume detritus and uneaten foodstuffs that they come across in the aquarium substrate. If no algae is present within the aquarium, it is recommended to supplement their diet with algae tablets as algae makes up a very large portion of their diet in the wild and will help them maintain a healthy immune system. Yellow Shrimp will also readily consume sinking pellet foods intended for bottom feeding fish and invertebrates; as well as, cleaned and blanched (lightly boiled) vegetables. Yellow Shrimp are very prolific breeders that will readily breed within the home aquarium environment. At approximately 2 to 3 months of age, Yellow Shrimp will become sexually mature, and the females will begin to carry a clutch of yellowish eggs under their tail. If there are males present within the aquarium, the female will become impregnated and the clutch of eggs will hatch in about 1 month. The eggs will be carried by the female until they hatch into miniature replicas of their parents, as the Yellow Shrimp does not go through an intermediate plankton stage. At birth, the baby Yellow Shrimp are very small and are easily eaten by fish or sucked up into filters. Therefore, they should be provided their own breeding tank with a sponge covered filter intake and no fish present that could eat the young. The babies should be fed a diet consisting of algae, algae tablets, baby brine shrimp or crushed flake foods. It is important to maintain the water quality of the breeding tank to high levels and make sure that ammonia and nitrite levels remain very low.
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Snow Ball Shrimp
(Neocaridina cf. zhangjiajiensis var. white) Easy 2" 10 Peaceful Omnivore 68-80° F, KH 3-10, pH 6.5-7.5 White, Transparent Selectively bred in Germany Shrimp Atyidae Shrimp The Snow Ball Shrimp is a pure white selectively bred species of the wild Neocaridina cf. zhangjiajiensis of Southeast Asia. Ulf Gottschalk of Germany was able over a period of years to selectively breed two very attractive variants of the Neocaridina cf. zhangjiajiensis, resulting in the blue ice colored Blue Pearl Shrimp and the pure white Snow Ball Shrimp. Thanks to the tedious breeding efforts of Ulf Gottschalk the hobbyist now has access to a brilliantly colored pure white shrimp species that stands out from other dwarf shrimps species via it's pure white coloration. Without a doubt, the Snow Ball Shrimp brings a unique appearance to the peaceful tropical community aquarium or shrimp nano aquarium that is truly special. Snow Ball Shrimp should be kept with peaceful freshwater fish species in either a planted aquarium or a community aquarium with plenty of plants, rocks or driftwood to provide them with cover when threatened and a place to forage for algae. Like most freshwater invertebrate species, the Snow Ball Shrimp needs clean water with stable water parameters and very good filtration in order to thrive within an aquarium environment. They do very well in community shrimp tanks or tropical community fish tanks with peaceful fish species. It is also important to not expose this or other invertebrate species to copper based medications as this can kill them. Snow Ball Shrimp should not be housed with aggressive fish species or with community species such as Loaches and Puffers as they eat small shrimps in the wild. Snow Ball Shrimp feed primarily on freshwater algae, and are coveted for this as they make excellent tank cleaners. However, they will also consume detritus and uneaten foodstuffs that they come across in the aquarium substrate. If no algae is present within the aquarium, it is recommended to supplement the Snow Ball Shrimps diet with algae tablets as algae makes up a very large portion of their diet in the wild and will help them maintain a healthy immune system. They can also be fed blanched vegetables, sinking pellets and other sinking commercial foods intended for bottom dwelling fish and invertebrates. Snow Ball Shrimp are one of the easier freshwater shrimp species to breed within the home aquarium environment. At approximately 2 to 3 months of age, Snow Ball Shrimp will become sexually mature, and the females will begin to carry a clutch of yellowish eggs under their tail. If there are males present within the aquarium, the female will become impregnated and the clutch of eggs will hatch in about 1 month. The eggs will be carried by the female until they hatch into miniature replicas of their parents, as the Snow Ball Shrimp does not go through an intermediate plankton stage. At birth, the baby Snow Ball Shrimp are very small and are easily eaten by fish or sucked up into filters. Therefore, they should be provided their own breeding tank with a sponge covered filter intake and no fish present that could eat the young. The babies should be fed a diet consisting of algae, algae tablets, baby brine shrimp or crushed flake foods. It is important to maintain the water quality of the breeding tank to high levels and make sure that ammonia and nitrite levels remain very low. It is important to note that as a selectively bred species, the Snow Ball Shrimp has been engineered to produce the its blue coloration. What this means is that when they breed, they will produce offspring with the same pure white coloration as this is what they have been designed to do. Crossing them with another species of Neocaridina will not result in an attractive color morph, but will instead create very unattractive offspring that essentially defeats the purpose of even keeping a selectively bred species.
Zebra Shovelnose
(Brachyplatystoma tigrinum) Moderate Semi-aggressive 24" 180 gallons 75-82° F, KH 5-12, pH 6.8-7.8 Omnivore South America, Peru, Colombia, Brazil Pimelodidae Large Catfish Large-Bottom-Dweller Zebra Shovelnose (Brachyplatystoma tigrinum) inhabit the fast flowing rivers found in the northern mountainous regions of South America, primarily in Colombia, Peru and Brazil. The Zebra Shovelnose has a flat nose and stream lined body, both of which are advantageous the fast flowing river habitats in which they live. Their native river habitat has very pristine water conditions and high levels of dissolved oxygen due to the fast flowing mountain waters. It is important to provide high levels of dissolved oxygen and brisk water currents in the aquarium in order to simulate this species natural habitat. Like most river species, Zebra Shovelnose Catfish are less tolerant of poor water conditions than fish species originating from lakes, ponds or flood plains. The Zebra Shovelnose is best suited for hobbyists with at least a few years experience keeping larger tropical fish species. A proper aquarium setup for housing Zebra Shovelnose should be based around a large aquarium of 180 gallons or more with plenty of open swimming area, some submerged root, smooth river rocks and a sand, fine gravel or mixed substrate. Water flow is also important as the Zebra Shovelnose (Brachyplatystoma tigrinum) is a native river species. In order to maintain the high water quality required by the Zebra Shovelnose, hobbyists should employ excellent mechanical and biological filtration along with frequent partial water changes. These partial water changes will export nitrates and other chemical buildups that occur in closed loop aquarium systems. Zebra Shovelnose are not overly aggressive, but will consume anything that will fit in their mouths. They do best when housed with mid to top level swimming fish species that will not compete with the Zebra Shovelnose for territory along the aquarium bottom. Lastly they should generally not be housed with other large Catfish due to the inevitable territorial battles that will occur. However, they can be kept with other catfish in very large aquariums (300 gallons or more) that are capable of providing enough territory for multiple catfish specimens. In the wild the Zebra Shovelnose feeds mostly on insects and amphibians that it takes from the river surface or near areas of overhanging or submerged tree roots. They are not picky eaters and will quickly adjust to feeding on a variety of commercial or prepared food sources. Hobbyists should feed a varied diet that consists of foods like commercial pellets/sticks, earthworms, lancefish, prawns, cockle, mussels, crickets and other similar meaty foods. It is best to feed a variety of foods in order to provide the fish a complete diet in terms of vitamins and minerals. A varied diet also helps to keep the Catfish from becoming too attached to a single food source and being reluctant to feed on other items. This of course leads to nutritional deficiencies which can lead to a weakened immune system and disease. Feed your specimens daily and as they mature begin to decrease their feedings to a few times per week based on the overall girth of the fish. Many Catfish kept in home aquariums overfeed and develop health problems due to their obesity.
Giant Raphael Catfish
(Megalodoras uranoscopus) Moderate Semi-aggressive 18" 180 gallons 72-79° F, KH 0-25, pH 5.8-7.5 Omnivore Amazon, South America Doradidae Large Catfish Large-Bottom-Dweller Giant Raphael Catfish (Megalodoras uranoscopus) are a popular northern Amazonian catfish species that are found in a variety of slow moving streams and tributaries throughout Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. They are found within the aquarium hobby under a variety of common names including: Giant Raphael Catfish, Mother of Snails, Giant Talking Catfish, Megalodoras Catfish and Megalodoras uranoscopus. The Giant Raphael Catfish is also known for its ability to produce sounds by locking its spiny pectoral fins into their sockets and grinding them against the inner portion of the socket; as well as, resonating their swim bladder through the use of a muscle attached to the back of their skull which produces a deep clicking tone. Giant Raphael Catfish are well suited for hobbyists with large aquariums, as their docile nature makes them a good tank mate for a wide variety of larger tropical fish species and Cichlid species. As with other large Catfish and Cichlid species a large aquarium is needed to properly house Giant Raphael Catfish. With an adult size of around 18 inches and a preference for schooling with other Giant Raphael Catfish, a hobbyist will need an aquarium with at least an 8 foot length and 2 foot width in order to properly house adult fish of this size. Larger fish eat larger meals and produce more waste, which means that excellent biological and mechanical filtration is required to maintain good water quality. High end canister filters or wet/dry filters are recommended for aquariums housing large Catfish and Cichlid specimens. Due to the large size and strength of the Giant Raphael Catfish, aquarium decor like plants, driftwood and root structures should be well rooted or secured to prevent them from being moved or disturbed as the Giant Raphael Cat moves about the aquarium. A sand or mix sand/gravel substrate is recommended for this species; however, an all gravel substrate or no substrate at will work as well. With its large size and protective suit of armor the Giant Raphael Catfish is capable of being housed with even the most aggressive Cichlid species. Despite this fact, the Giant Raphael Catfish is actually a very peaceful species that will not bother tank mates unless they are extremely small and seen as a food item. They prefer to live in groups and prefer an aquarium habitat with a mix of submerged root and hardy plants. Dimly lit and moderate to low water currents will further replicate their native jungle stream habitat. Overall, they are a great addition to most any tropical Amazon aquarium setup whether with Cichlids, Rays, Cichla or even larger community fish species. The Giant Raphael Catfish is both an interesting looking specimen and provides a functional addition to the aquarium environment as a substrate scavenger. An omnivorous species, the Giant Raphael Catfish requires both meaty and plant based foods in its diet in order to maintain a healthy immune system. In their natural habitat they eat mostly snails and palm fruits that fall into the water ways in which they live. However, they will quickly and easily adjust to eating a wide variety of commercial aquarium foods and foods commonly fed to other aquarium fish. It is best to provide them a mix of sinking commercial pellet foods, worms, prawns, snails, blanched vegetables and vegetable wafer foods. They will scavenge the aquarium substrate and will take food directly during feedings. Hobbyists should watch the overall girth of the fish and feed accordingly. Begin by providing direct feedings 2 to 4 times per week, then adjust the frequency of feedings based on the growth rate and girth of the fish.
Large Spot Stingray
(Potamotrygon falkneri) Moderate Semi-aggressive 18" 180 gallons 75 - 84° F, pH 6.0-7.0, KH 2-10 Carnivore Amazon, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina Potamotrygonidae Stingrays Large-Bottom-Dweller The Large Spot Stingray (Potamotrygon falkneri) is a very attractive species of South American Stingray that is found in the Rio Parana and Rio Paraguay basins and surrounding flood plains. Their territory stretches from Paraguay and Brazil in the north down to Argentina in the south. Their habitat is similar to that of other Potamotrygonidae as it inhabits the sand and mud river banks, shallows, slower moving river tributaries and nearby forest flood plains during the annual wet season. It is not uncommon for the Large Spot Stingray to end up in lakes and ponds that are formed by the receding flood waters. The Large Spot Stingray is considered a peaceful species towards other large predatory fish; however, they are top level predators in their native ecosystems who will prey on any fish, invertebrate or crustacean that is small enough to be consumed as food. Large Spot Stingray are moderately difficult to keep in the home aquarium; however, if some standard rules for caring for rays are closely adhered to the Large Spot Stingray should be reasonably easy to keep. Aquariums containing rays need to have very clean water that is low in dissolved solids and allows for consistent stable water parameters with minimal fluctuations in pH & nitrates, along with ammonia and nitrite that are kept at non-detectable levels. Strong mechanical, biological and chemical filtration will need to be supplemented by regular water changes in order to keep nitrate levels consistently low. Rays eat quite a bit and are a large bodied fish that will put out a size able amount of waste for the filtration system to keep up with. Therefore, a properly running filtration system will generate a good amount of nitrates in response to the heavy bio-load. Typically frequent water changes are used to keep nitrates low, but other methods like nitrate removing aquatic vegetation within a sump can also be used in conjunction with water changes to keep nitrates low. The aquarium decor should be designed with the ray in mind, which means a soft sandy substrate and a large amount of swimming room with minimal rock, wood and plant decor. Large Spot Stingrays can sometimes be difficult to begin eating when introduced into the aquarium. In this case it is best to substantial dim or turnoff the aquarium lights, then offer earthworms or black worms to help stimulate feeding. Once feeding, Large Spot Stingrays are known to be very aggressive feeders that will consume a large variety of meaty offerings. Part of successful ray husbandry is to house them with compatible tank mates that will not harm the ray or become an unwanted food source. Any fish species small enough to be consumed by the ray will at some point be eaten. Rays generally prey on fish while they sleep, enveloping and swallowing them while they are in a semi-conscious state. Good tank mates for Rays include larger Cichlid and Central/South American fish species that are semi-aggressive in nature and large enough to not become food for the Ray. Top water fish species like Arowana and Cichla are a natural fit to be housed with Rays as they inhabit a different area of the aquarium. In their native habitat Large Spot Stingray feed mostly on small fish, worms, crustaceans and aquatic invertebrates. They are adept at rooting prey out of the substrate and at using their large oval disc to capture small fish and crustaceans. The Large Spot Stingray has a very active metabolic rate that requires they be fed multiple times per day. It is especially important to get newly added aquariums specimens eating right away to ensure that they do not suffer from lack of nutrition. Live foods work best to get newly added or picky specimens eating right away. Live worms and feeder shrimp work best to stimulate the Rays appetite. Once they are settled into the aquarium environment and feeding on earth worms and feeder shrimp, they can then be weaned onto a diet of fresh or frozen dead alternatives. Hobbyists should ideally feed Large Spot Stingray 2 to 3 small meals per day, comprised of a variety of meaty foods including: earth worms, blood worms, glass shrimp, krill, mussels, cockles, prawns, squid, chopped fresh fish and other similar items. Rays should not be fed mammal flesh like chicken livers or beef heart as they have a difficult time metabolizing these types of food and they will develop unhealthy fat buildup and possible organ degeneration.
Mottled Bichir
(Polypterus weeksii) Moderate Semi-aggressive 22" 90 gallons 76-84° F, KH 1-12, pH 6.5-7.5 Carnivore West Africa Polypteridae Bichirs Large-Bottom-Dweller The Mottled Bichir (Polypterus weeksii) is a popular western African Bichir species known for its mild temperament and large head. While they are not aggressive towards other large fish species, their large head and corresponding mouth make them capable of eating surprising large fish. Tank mates should be carefully selected to make sure that they are large enough to not fit into the Mottled Bichirs mouth. Within the aquarium trade the Mottled Bichir is often sold under a variety of names including: Weeks Bichir, Fat-headed Bichir, Fathead Bichir and of course Mottled Bichir. They exhibit a distinctive color pattern of dark grey bands over a light grey body, with a whitish under belly. In the wild the Mottled Bichir can be found living in the rivers, lakes, ponds and marshes of western Africa, where they forage amongst the substrate for small fish, worms, crustaceans and similar meaty foods. They can grow upwards of 2 feet in length in the wild, but generally only grow to about 16 inches in the home aquarium. They are considered a semi-aggressive species since they will eat fish small enough to fit in their large mouths, but will not bother larger fish species. The majority of Mottled Bichirs available within the aquarium hobby are wild caught specimens; however, they do very well in the aquarium environment when provided proper water conditions and aquarium size. An ideal aquarium setup for an adult Mottled Bichir will have a foot print of 6 x 2 feet or larger, a soft sandy substrate and a mixture of smooth rocks, plants and driftwood. Due to the shape of the Mottled Bichir and its swimming habits it is important to provide an aquarium with plenty of depth and length; however, the height of the aquarium can vary quite a bit as it is less important. Being a nocturnal species, the Mottled Bichir will appreciate areas of the aquarium that are either not brightly lit or are shaded by vegetation or driftwood. Proper tank mates for the Mottled Bichir should be large enough to not be considered food (anything small enough to fit in their mouth), but not so aggressive that they will harass the Bichir. Most larger semi-aggressive African Cichlids and New World Cichlids to quite well with Bichir, along with large Knife fish, other Bichir species, Synodontis and Datnoides species. Moderate to advanced hobbyists should have no trouble keeping Bichir in their home aquarium, as they are a very hardy species that has been successful in nature for millions of years. The Mottled Bichir is a carnivorous species that will consume a variety of meaty foods both in the wild and the aquarium environment. Essentially the Mottled Bichir will see any other fish or invertebrate species in the aquarium that are small enough to fit in its mouth as food. However, in order to provide them the vitamins and minerals that they need to support a healthy immune system they should not be fed a diet solely of feeder fish. A good diet for the Mottled Bichir will have a variety of meaty foods including: earthworms, prawns, mussels, raw shrimp and various types of feeder fish like silver sides and lance fish. Some Bichir have been known to accept commercial meaty pellets and wafers, but generally they do best with live or frozen foods. They should generally be fed 1 to 2 times per day an amount of food that they will consume within 5 minutes. When first added to the aquarium, Bichir are more likely to feed with the aquarium lights off or dimmed as they are a nocturnal species. Being a nocturnal species with poor vision, the Mottled Bichir has developed an excellent sense of smell which they use to locate food in low lighting conditions. Feeding them with the aquarium lights off gives them an advantage over tank mates who use eyesight as a primary method of detecting food.
Albino Senegal Bichir
(Polypterus senegalus) Easy Semi-aggressive 18" 90 gallons 75-82° F, KH 5-12, pH 6.5-7.5 Carnivore Africa Polypteridae Bichirs Large-Bottom-Dweller Albino Senegal Bichir are selectively bred variants of the common Senegal Bichir. Senegal Bichir are widely distributed across Africa, where they can be found living in a variety of slow moving shallow waters including: swamps, marshes, lakes, estuaries and small tributaries. They can grow upwards of 18 inches in length in the wild, but generally only grow to about 12 inches in the home aquarium. They are considered a semi-aggressive species since they will eat fish small enough to fit in their mouths, but will not bother larger fish species. Albino Senegal Bichir are available within the aquarium hobby as farm raised specimens that do very well in the aquarium environment when provided proper water conditions and aquarium size. Bichir have several interesting adaptations, which include a divided swim bladder and primitive lung. These adaptations the fish to take in oxygen from the air, allowing it to survive out of water for some time, provided it is kept moist. Like other Ananbantoid species, they will actually drown if it is denied access to atmospheric air. Young bichirs even have amphibian-like external gills which are lost as the fish matures into adulthood. These adaptations along with their amphibian like behaviors of hiding during the day and hunting at night, exhibit a clear link between the modern bichir and amphibians. An ideal aquarium setup for an adult Albino Senegal Bichir will have a foot print of 6 x 2 feet or larger, a soft sandy substrate and a mixture of smooth rocks, plants and driftwood. Due to the shape of the Albino Senegal Bichir and its swimming habits it is important to provide an aquarium with plenty of depth and length, with the height of the aquarium being less important. As a nocturnal species, the Albino Senegal Bichir will appreciate areas of the aquarium that are either not brightly lit or are shaded by vegetation or driftwood. Proper tank mates for the Albino Senegal Bichir should be large enough to not be considered food (anything small enough to fit in their mouth), but not so aggressive that they will harass the Bichir. Albino Senegal Bichir are adept at finding their way out of aquariums and onto the floor, thus a tight-fitting aquarium cover is needed. They do well with other large semi-aggressive tank mates including larger South American and African Cichlids. They will not do well with aggressive Cichlids or Cichlid large enough to view the Bichir as a food item. In general, hobbyists should have no trouble keeping Bichir in their home aquarium, as they are a very hardy species that has been successful in nature for millions of years. The Albino Senegal Bichir is a carnivorous species that will consume a variety of meaty foods both in the wild and the aquarium environment. Essentially the it will see any other fish or invertebrate species in the aquarium that are small enough to fit in its mouth as food. However, in order to provide them the vitamins and minerals that they need to support a healthy immune system they should not be fed a diet solely of feeder fish. A good diet for the Albino Senegal Bichir will have a variety of meaty foods including: earthworms, prawns, mussels, raw shrimp and various types of feeder fish like silver sides and lance fish. Some Bichir have been known to accept commercial meaty pellets and wafers, but generally they do best with live or frozen foods. They should generally be fed 1 to 2 times per day an amount of food that they will consume within 5 minutes. When first added to the aquarium, Bichir are more likely to feed with the aquarium lights off or dimmed as they are a nocturnal species. Being a nocturnal species with poor vision, the Albino Senegal Bichir has developed an excellent sense of smell which they use to locate food in low lighting conditions. Feeding them with the aquarium lights off gives them an advantage over tank mates who use eyesight as a primary method of detecting food.
Senegal Bichir
(Polypterus senegalus) Easy Semi-aggressive 18" 90 gallons 75-82° F, KH 5-12, pH 6.5-7.5 Carnivore Africa Polypteridae Bichirs Large-Bottom-Dweller Senegal Bichir are widely distributed across Africa, where they can be found living in a variety of slow moving shallow waters including: swamps, marshes, lakes, estuaries and small tributaries. They can grow upwards of 18 inches in length in the wild, but generally only grow to about 12 inches in the home aquarium. They are considered a semi-aggressive species since they will eat fish small enough to fit in their mouths, but will not bother larger fish species. The majority of Senegal Bichir available within the aquarium hobby are farm raised specimens that do very well in the aquarium environment when provided proper water conditions and aquarium size. Bichir have several interesting adaptations, which include a divided swim bladder and primitive lung. These adaptations the fish to take in oxygen from the air, allowing it to survive out of water for some time, provided it is kept moist. Like Ananbantoid species, they will actually drown if denied access to atmospheric air. Young bichirs even have amphibian-like external gills which are lost as the fish matures into adulthood. These adaptations along with their amphibian like behaviors of hiding during the day and hunting at night, exhibit a clear link between the modern bichir and amphibians. An ideal aquarium setup for an adult Senegal Bichir will have a foot print of 6 x 2 feet or larger, a soft sandy substrate and a mixture of smooth rocks, plants and driftwood. Due to the shape of the Senegal Bichir and its swimming habits it is important to provide an aquarium with plenty of depth and length, with the height of the aquarium being less important. As a nocturnal species, the Senegal Bichir will appreciate areas of the aquarium that are either not brightly lit or are shaded by vegetation or driftwood. Proper tank mates for the Senegal Bichir should be large enough to not be considered food (anything small enough to fit in their mouth), but not so aggressive that they will harass the Bichir. Senegal Bichir are adept at finding their way out of aquariums and onto the floor, thus a tight-fitting aquarium cover is needed. Senegal Bichir do well with other large semi-aggressive tank mates including larger South American and African Cichlids. They do not do well with aggressive Cichlids or Cichlid large enough to view the Bichir as a food item. In general, hobbyists should have no trouble keeping Bichir in their home aquarium, as they are a very hardy species that has been successful in nature for millions of years. The Senegal Bichir is a carnivorous species that will consume a variety of meaty foods both in the wild and the aquarium environment. Essentially the Senegal Bichir will see any other fish or invertebrate species in the aquarium that are small enough to fit in its mouth as food. However, in order to provide them the vitamins and minerals that they need to support a healthy immune system they should not be fed a diet solely of feeder fish. A good diet for the Senegal Bichir will have a variety of meaty foods including: earthworms, prawns, mussels, raw shrimp and various types of feeder fish like silver sides and lance fish. Some Bichir have been known to accept commercial meaty pellets and wafers, but generally they do best with live or frozen foods. They should generally be fed 1 to 2 times per day an amount of food that they will consume within 5 minutes. When first added to the aquarium, Bichir are more likely to feed with the aquarium lights off or dimmed as they are a nocturnal species. Being a nocturnal species with poor vision, the Senegal Bichir has developed an excellent sense of smell which they use to locate food in low lighting conditions. Feeding them with the aquarium lights off gives them an advantage over tank mates who use eyesight as a primary method of detecting food.
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Ornate Bichir
(Polypterus ornatipinnis) Moderate Semi-aggressive 24" 90 gallons 75-84° F, KH 1-12, pH 6.5-7.5 Carnivore Central Africa Polypteridae Bichirs Large-Bottom-Dweller Ornate Bichirs are arguable one of the most attractive species of Bichir available within the aquarium hobby. An adult specimen with its unique color pattern and large size can become the center piece of the aquarium. In the wild the Ornate Bichir can be found living in the rivers, lakes, ponds and marshes of Central Africa, where they forage amongst the substrate for small fish, worms, crustaceans and similar meaty foods. They can grow upwards of 2 feet in length in the wild, but generally only grow to about 18 inches in the home aquarium. They are considered a semi-aggressive species since they will eat fish small enough to fit in their mouths, but will not bother larger fish species. The majority of Ornate Bichirs available within the aquarium hobby are wild caught specimens; however, they do very well in the aquarium environment when provided proper water conditions and aquarium size. An ideal aquarium setup for an adult Ornate Bichir will have a foot print of 6 x 2 feet or larger, a soft sandy substrate and a mixture of smooth rocks, plants and driftwood. Due to the shape of the Ornate Bichir and its swimming habits it is important to provide an aquarium with plenty of depth and length; however, the height of the aquarium can vary quite a bit as it is less important. Being a nocturnal species, the Ornate Bichir will appreciate areas of the aquarium that are either not brightly lit or are shaded by vegetation or driftwood. Proper tank mates for the Ornate Bichir should be large enough to not be considered food (anything small enough to fit in their mouth), but not so aggressive that they will harass the Bichir. Most larger semi-aggressive African Cichlids and New World Cichlids to quite well with Bichir, along with large Knife fish, other Bichir species, Synodontis and Datnoides species. Moderate to advanced hobbyists should have no trouble keeping Bichir in their home aquarium, as they are a very hardy species that has been successful in nature for millions of years. The Ornate Bichir is a carnivorous species that will consume a variety of meaty foods both in the wild and the aquarium environment. Essentially the Ornate Bichir will see any other fish or invertebrate species in the aquarium that are small enough to fit in its mouth as food. However, in order to provide them the vitamins and minerals that they need to support a healthy immune system they should not be fed a diet solely of feeder fish. A good diet for the Ornate Bichir will have a variety of meaty foods including: earthworms, prawns, mussels, raw shrimp and various types of feeder fish like silver sides and lance fish. Some Bichir have been known to accept commercial meaty pellets and wafers, but generally they do best with live or frozen foods. They should generally be fed one or two times per day an amount of food that they will consume within 5 minutes. When first added to the aquarium, Bichir are more likely to feed with the aquarium lights off or dimmed as they are a nocturnal species. Being a nocturnal species with poor vision, the Ornate Bichir has developed an excellent sense of smell which they use to locate food in low lighting conditions. Feeding them with the aquarium lights off gives them an advantage over tank mates who use eyesight as a primary method of detecting food.
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Black Ghost Knifefish
(Apteronotus albifrons) Moderate Peaceful 18" 125 gallons 75-84° F, KH 0-25, pH 6.0-7.5 Carnivore Northern South America, Amazon Apteronotidae Knifefish Ancient-Fish The Black Ghost Knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons) is found widely distributed throughout the streams and rivers of the northern portion of South America. They are most commonly found in fast flowing jungle rivers and streams, but also move out into the flooded forests during the rainy season. They use their thin elongated body to move in and out of tree roots and dense vegetation, where they look for insects, insect larvae and small worms on which to feed. Black Ghost Knifefish are considered somewhat shy compared to most Cichlid species that inhabit the same Amazonian water ways. Hobbyists should keep Black Ghost Knifefish with tank mates that are not too boisterous or aggressive. Discus, Geophagus, Severum, Angelfish, peaceful Catfish, peaceful Cichlids and larger (6 inches or more) community species make good tank mates. An ideal aquarium setup for keeping a Black Ghost Knife would be a 6 x 2 foot aquarium with sandy substrate, tree root, tall plants, moderate water flow and diffused lighting. Tank mates should be large enough to not be considered a food item, which is means they should be larger than 6 inches if kept with an adult Ghost Knife. Black Ghost Knifefish do well in fairly heavily planted aquariums and aquariums with tree root structures large enough for them to swim through. Ideally the aquarium should also have open swimming areas and areas of plants and root structure where the bright aquarium lighting is diffused. This will give the Knifefish a place to retreat to when it feels threatened or simply would like to escape the bright aquarium lighting. A wide variety of tank mates ranging from peaceful Cichlid species to larger community species can be kept with the Black Ghost Knifefish. Hobbyists looking to keep multiple Black Ghost Knifefish should have a larger aquarium (180 gallon or more) in order to have enough territory for multiple specimens to coexist peacefully. In a large aquarium, 4 or more specimens will be easier to keep than a pair as aggression will be spread out amongst the group instead of a single dominant specimen picking on a weaker one. As with other river fish species, clean water and low nutrient levels is critical to the long term health of this species. Due to the large size of this species, a quality canister filter or wet dry filter is recommended along with periodic partial water changes. Black Ghost Knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons) are carnivores that prey mostly on insects and small worms in their native habitat. Aquarium specimens can be fed both live and frozen blood worms, tubifex worms or other similar meaty items. They can also be converted to eating other meaty foods like prawns, krill, earthworms, crickets etc. Some hobbyists have had success in getting them to eat commercial dry foods like pellets and sticks. They should be fed daily an amount of food that they will consume with a few minutes. It is best to vary their diet so that they receive all the vitamins and minerals that they need in order to maintain a healthy immune system.
Needle Nose Gar
(Xenentodon cancila) Moderate Aggressive 12" 75 gallons 72-82° F, KH 8-15, pH 6.8-7.4 Carnivore Southeast Asia Belonidae Gar Ancient-Fish Needle Nose Gar (Xenentodon cancila) are found throughout the tropical jungles and rural areas of southeast Asia. They are typically found in slow moving river tributaries and streams where they use the cover provided by overhanging or floating vegetation to ambush small fish, insects and amphibians. Needle Nose Gar are found both in freshwater and brackish water; as well as, coastal waterways that fluctuate between freshwater and brackish water depending on the tidal flow. They are found living in social groups in the wild, and will do much better in the aquarium environment if they are kept in small groups of 3 or more individuals. Hobbyists with very large aquariums (220 gallons plus) often keep groups of 6 or more Needle Nose Gar successfully. Needle Nose Gar do have sharp teeth that can inflict a nasty cut if provoked, thus hobbyists should be careful when working inside an aquarium housing these fish. Needle Nose Gar do best in aquariums of 75 gallons or larger. Their long bodies and ability for quick bursts of speed means that they will need an aquarium with at least 4 feet in length and 1 1/2 to 2 feet in depth (front to back). The ideal aquarium setup for this species will contain some floating plants or plants that grow to the surface along with plenty of open swimming area. Moderate or filtered lighting is ideal, with low to moderate water currents. Be sure to cover the aquarium as is the case with most top water species, the Needle Nose Gar is prone to jumping from out of an open top aquarium. Tank mates should include other large fish species that are too large to be considered as food. Other large ray-finned fishes, most Cichlids, Catfish and other similarly sized semi-aggressive to aggressive fish species typically make good tank mates for a small group of Needle Nose Gar. They are aggressive feeders that once established in the aquarium will compete with most any other tank mates for food. The Needle Nose Gar is a carnivorous species that feeds on a variety of meaty foods in the wild. Their typical prey consists of small fish, crustaceans, insects and amphibians. They use their sleek body and sharp teeth to knife through the water and spear their prey before swallowing them whole. Hobbyists should feed either live feeder fish, ghost shrimp, crickets, tadpoles, etc. or other similar items. If not feeding live foods, be sure to use a feeding stick or tongs to feed Needle Nose Gar as they will strike quickly and can inflict a nasty cut if fed by hand.
Florida Gar
(Lepisosteus platyrhincus) Moderate Semi-aggressive 34" 180 gallons 68-84° F, KH 8-20, pH 6.5-7.8 Carnivore USA, Florida, Georgia Lepisosteidae Gar Ancient-Fish Florida Gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus) are found in both Georgia and Florida in the southeastern United States. Their natural habitat consists of streams, river drainage ditches, lowland streams, canals and lakes. They prefer calmer waters with plenty of vegetation and floating sticks and other debris. Florida Gar are typically found in areas with shallow calm water, dense vegetation and sandy or muddy substrates, as this environment is ideal for ambushing prey. Florida Gar are often confused with Spotted Gars, but are distinguishable from each other primarily by their snout length. The distance from the front of the eye to the back of the gill cover is less than 2/3 the length of the snout in the Florida Gar, while it is more than 2/3 of the length in the Spotted Gar. Also the Florida gar lacks bony scales on the throat area. The elongated snout with the nostrils located at the tip is an ideal adaption for the Florida Gar as it allows them to float motionless at the waters surface to mimic a stick floating in the water. Since they can breath with either their gills or a special lung like air bladder the gar can survive in hot, stagnant waters that might not have sufficient oxygen for most other species of fish. Florida Gar will appreciate an aquarium with a habitat similar to their native habitat. Ideally the aquarium should have low to medium water currents, plenty of vegetation and a sand or mixed sand and gravel substrate. Lighting is not critical, but they will appreciate areas of the aquarium with filtered lighting either by floating plants or tree root. Young Florida Gar can be raised up in smaller tanks like a 55 or 75 gallon and then transferred to a larger aquarium as they grow. Adult specimens living in an aquarium will reach somewhere between 24 to 36 inches in length, which means that a 180 gallon aquarium should be considered an absolute minimum tank size for this species. Ideally they should be kept in an aquarium somewhere between 300 to 450 gallons with a wide long foot print and shallow depth. The Florida Gar is not aggressive towards other large fish that it does not see as food, thus their tank mates should consist of other large fish species with a peaceful to semi-aggressive temperament. Florida Gar will most often not fair well in aquariums with very large aggressive Cichlid species like Peacock Bass, Flowerhorns or Managuense as they cannot compete with these ultra aggressive fast swimming species. In the wild young Florida Gar feed mostly on insect larvae and small fish, while adults prey on fish, crustaceans and larger insects. Florida Gar are ambush predators that will float silently near the water surface disguised as a stick or log waiting for unsuspecting prey to get too close and then they snap their head sideways and grab the prey with their sharp teeth. They will need to be fed a variety of meaty foods like fish, prawn, shrimp or crickets in the home aquarium. Hobbyists may find that it takes some time before this ambush predator will adjust to aquarium feedings, but they have strong appetites and with a little persistence should be able to adjust to aquarium life. Florida Gar have strong appetites and grow quickly; therefore, their growth rate and food intake should be monitored closely at first in order to determine the ideal amount of food and feeding frequency to keep them healthy and control their growth. A good starting point would be to feed them 2 to 3 small meals 6 days a week, while monitoring their overall girth until a feeding regime can be established. Florida gar spawn mostly during the months of April and May, but spawning occasionally lasts into the late summer months. The female spawns by distributing her adhesive eggs in shallow pools, weedy backwaters, or shallow areas near the bank river bank. The eggs are greenish-colored and are fertilized by two or more attending males. The newly hatched larva has an adhesive disc on the front of the blunt snout, which it uses to attach itself to gravel or vegetation. The larva remains attached until reaching an approximate length of about 1 inch. As a juvenile, the gar has a fragile fin that extends along the upper edge of the tail and vibrates constantly. The fin is lost during the first year of life. The young grow rapidly feeding on zooplankton and tiny crustaceans that they find in the substrate near the waters edge.
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Bowfin
(Amia calva) Moderate Aggressive 36" 180 gallons 59-75° F, KH 3-15, pH 6.0-7.5 Carnivore United States, Canada Amiidae Bowfin Ancient-Fish The Bowfin (Amia calva) is one of the more interesting and sought after North American fish species amongst aquarium hobbyists. Their ancient lineage combined with a sleek body, many teeth and aggressive demeanor make them a sought after specimen for hobbyists running larger temperate water aquariums. Ancestors of the Bowfin date back to the Jurassic period, where they were once widespread over multiple continents and even in brackish and saltwater environments. Today the Amia calva Bowfin is the only remaining member of this once abundant group of fish. The Bowfin is considered a "transitional" fish species that shares traits with both its ancient relatives and more advanced bony fish species. The Bowfin has a largely cartilaginous skeleton; however, like the more highly evolved bony fishes, the Bowfin also has vertebrae that are amphicoelous (concave at each end). The Bowfin has a highly developed swim bladder that allows it to gulp air at the waters surface, which is a definite advantage in low oxygen conditions. Like sharks, Bowfin have retractable teeth that remain hidden when the mouth is closed but are exposed when the fish is biting down. The Bowfins skull also flattens out to allow them to swallow flat-bodied fish species like Sunfish and Crappie. Bowfin are generally found living in heavily vegetated rivers, backwaters, swamps and lakes throughout the eastern half of the United States and Canada. They prefer an aquarium setup that has moderate water currents and plenty of both rooted and floating vegetation, some rock piles and open swimming areas. Their sleek body shape enables them to easily swim in and out of heavy vegetation without issues. Bowfin can reach upwards of 3 feet in length, thus adult specimens will require aquariums of around 450 gallons or larger. Younger specimens can be started in much smaller aquariums and moved to larger tanks as they grow. Moderate feedings and cooler water temperatures will slow their growth rate, with young specimens being able to live in aquariums of 180 gallons for more than 5 years without space issues. Bowfin are a temperate fish species that prefer water temperatures between 65 and 72 degrees. Tank mates should include only larger temperate water species that are large enough to not be considered food for the Bowfin. Most hobbyists keep Bowfin in a species only aquarium due to their overall aggressiveness and ability to consume very large prey. Wild Bowfin consume a variety of meaty foods including: fish, crayfish, frogs, worms, insects and other similar prey. Aquarium specimens will readily consume feeder fish, ghost shrimp, crickets and other live feeders. Once acclimated to aquarium life, Bowfin will eagerly approach the waters surface in anticipation of their next meal. This is an ideal time for hobbyists who wish to ween their fish from live foods to begin feeding prepared foods. Meaty items like shrimp, prawns, mussels, beef hearts and other similar items are ideal to start with, they the Bowfin can be further transitioned to large pellet commercial foods. Young Bowfin should be feed 2 times per day an amount of food that they will consume within a few minutes. Adult specimens can be fed less frequently if slower growth is preferred.
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Red Belly Piranha
(Pygocentrus nattereri) Moderate Aggressive 12" 55 gallons 74-82° F, KH 10-20, pH 6.0-7.5 Omnivore South America Characidae Piranha Other-Monster-Fish The Red Belly Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereriRed) has been available within the aquarium hobby trade for decades. During this time it has developed quite a following among aquarium hobbyists and the general public. They can be found in the aquarium trade under a variety of names including: the Red Belly Piranha, Red Piranha, Red Bellied Piranha and simply Piranha. There are of course multiple species of Piranha, with the Red Belly Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereriRed) being one of the most popular amongst aquarium hobbyists due to its coloration and moderate size. While they can reach sizes upwards of 12 inches in the wild, Red Belly Piranha living in the aquarium environment tend to reach about 10 inches in length when fully grown. Contrary to popular belief, Piranha are typically very calm and will spend most of their time hiding amongst plants, rock work or other aquarium decor. They are also quite skittish when approached by humans at the aquarium glass or when disturbed by hobbyists working within the tank. However, they are very capable of inflicting serious damage with their razor sharp teeth to either tank mates or hobbyists working within the aquarium. Both their activity level and aggression goes up considerable during feedings and it is at this time that other tank mates or fingers in the aquarium are at danger from being bitten. When keeping Red Belly Piranha in the home aquarium, hobbyists should try their best to emulate their natural habitat and water conditions. A typical Amazonian biotope aquarium works best, with a sand substrate, driftwood or submerged wood root, areas with dense vegetation and open swimming areas. They will prefer either dim lighting or lighting that is diffused by lust plant growth within the aquarium. In regards to filtration requirements there is no other way to say it other than Piranha are very messy eaters. Strong mechanical and biological filtration is required along with water changes in order to maintain quality water and the build up of nitrates and other chemicals within the aquarium. While Red Belly Piranha are typically wary of humans and unlikely to attack a hobbyist working within the aquarium, the same cannot be said for their fish tank mates. With the exception of the most heavily armored catfish or extremely large and hardy fish species, it is simply a matter of time before tank mates will be attacked and eaten. Many hobbyists have successfully kept Piranha with tank mates for long periods of time, but the time inevitably comes when they turn on their hapless tank mates. In regards to their tank mates, it is recommended that hobbyists err on the side of caution and keep either a single Piranha, a group of Piranha (3 or more) or mixed with other larger fish species in a very large aquarium. The Red Belly Piranha is capable of attacking any size fish and will most often attack tank mates at some point unless well fed and kept in large aquariums with other large aggressive fish species. Most hobbyists keep Red Belly Piranha in groups of 3 to 10 individuals in species only aquariums as this is by far the most successful way to keep Piranha long term. Red Belly Piranha will consume a wide variety of meaty food items; however, not all meaty foods will provide them all the vitamins and minerals they require for a balanced diet and healthy immune system. Piranha will certainly consume live feeder fish just as they do in the wild. However, captive bred feeder fish bring some inherent issues that wild bait fish do not suffer from. Captive bred feeder fish are often kept in very poor water conditions and in severely overcrowded aquariums. This leads to widespread disease which can be transmitted to the Piranha who consume these feeder fish. For this reason it is generally recommended not to feed live feeder fish or to quarantine live feeder fish in good water conditions for 2 weeks in order to verify that they are disease free prior to feeding to predatory fish like Piranha. A good staple diet will consist of a variety of frozen, freeze-dried and live foods ranging from quality meaty frozen preparations, frozen silver sides, prawns, chopped fish, mussels, krill, insects, crustaceans, worms and other similar meaty items. While the stomachs of wild caught specimens have been shown to contain some plant material, captive Piranha rarely eat anything other than meaty foods. Hobbyists should vary the items they feed their Piranha and monitor the overall girth of the fish to determine proper feeding frequency. Begin by feeding them small amounts of food daily or every other day and adjust quantity and frequency according to the fishes growth rate and overall girth. Juvenile specimens should be fed twice per day, with feedings becoming less frequent as they mature into adult fish.
Black Piranha
(Serrasalmus rhombeus) Expert Aggressive 17" 90 gallons 74-84° F, KH 1-20, pH 4.5-7.5 Carnivore Northern Amazon, Venezuela, Guyana, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil Characidae Piranha Other-Monster-Fish The Black Piranha (Serrasalmus rhombeus) is truly impressive predatory fish specimen, with its large powerful body and many sharp teeth. For many hobbyists looking to keep a species aquarium containing aggressive predatory fish, the Black Piranha is the ideal fish. Black Piranha grow upwards of 17 inches in length and have powerful muscular bodies to match their impressive length and of course plenty of sharp teeth. Juvenile Black Piranha have a more silver body, darker spots on their sides and bright red eyes. As they grow into adults they lose their spots and develop a dark overall body coloration ranging between dark grey and black. With age and size typically comes aggression, with adult Black Piranha often being too aggressive to keep in anything but a large aquarium in a conspecific group. However, for hobbyists looking for seriously aggressive fish the Black Piranha is the ideal specimen. Black Piranha originate from larger and deeper rivers of the northern Amazon, where they are accustomed to very clean and highly oxygenated water. They require aquarium environments that have excellent water quality, plenty of dissolved oxygen and internal water flow. Quality water conditions combined with a proper diet is essential to maintain the proper long term health of the fish. Suitable filtration systems for Black Piranha aquariums include high-end canister filtration and wet/dry sump based filtration. Strong water flow via a spray bar or additional power heads is also recommended to insure that there is adequate dissolved oxygen in the water. Being a messy eater that also requires pristine water conditions means that even hobbyists who have aquarium setups with excellent filtration will need to perform partial water changes to avoid the build up of nitrates and other dissolved solids. Properly sized aquariums with quality canister or wet/dry systems will generally require weekly 25% partial water changes in order to maintain the highest water quality. While intolerant of poor water conditions, the Black Piranha is actually accepting of a fairly wide range of water pH and temperature as long as the changes are not sudden. Due to their size and sharp teeth, it is recommended that aquarium equipment like heaters and equipment wires be located outside of the aquarium or neatly tied off in the corner of the aquarium to avoid the Piranha from chewing on them. It is also important to cover the aquarium in order to prevent jumping and accidental contact between the Black Piranha and peoples fingers and hands. It is recommended that hobbyists design the aquarium after their natural habitat, which includes: sandy substrate, driftwood or root, aquatic plants and smooth rocks or rock piles. While this type of setup is not specifically required, it is essential the Black Piranha have some aquarium decor to provide them places to hide. Bare tanks or tanks with minimal decor and bright lighting will stress the fish and can cause illness or shorten their life span. In terms of suitable tank mates for the Black Piranha the list is rather short. Black Piranha should essentially be kept in species only aquariums, with the few exceptions being possibly armored catfish or larger plecos. Even conspecific groups can be problematic in smaller aquariums as Black Piranha will often fight amongst themselves when the aquarium or water conditions are not suitable. In addition to excellent water conditions Black Piranha require ample space within the aquarium or they will become very aggressive towards all other tank mates including other conspecifics. A single specimen can live comfortably in a 75 gallon aquarium, with groups of Piranha requiring larger tanks of 150 gallons or more. Wild Black Piranha consume a wide variety of available foods ranging from the fins of other fish to decaying carcases and even seeds and fruits that have fallen from the jungle canopy. The bulk of their diet consists of smaller fishes, crustaceans and insects. However, as an opportunistic feeder the Black Piranha will scavenge decaying meaty items like dead animal, bird or larger fish carcases that it comes across. Hobbyists should feed meaty foods that are present in the fishes natural diet like fish flesh, crustacean flesh, insects, worms and other similar items. Feeding mammal meat like chicken, beef, etc. is not recommended because the Black Piranha have difficulty fully digesting these types of food and will over time build fatty deposits of undigested fats. Feeder fish like goldfish are also not recommended for a daily staple diet because they are high in fat and offer little nutrition for the Black Piranha. Young Black Piranha will do best with bloodworms, tubifex worms, chopped crustacean flesh (prawns, cockles, shrimp), chopped whitefish or earthworms. Adult Black Piranha should be fed the same types of items only in larger pieces and larger quantities. Feeder fish, chicken livers, beef hearts, etc. are suitable for occasional feedings, but should not make up a significant portion of the fishes diet.
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Widebar Datnoid
(Datnioides pulcher) Moderate Semi-aggressive 24" 180 gallons 75-84° F, pH 6.5-7.5, dH 8-15 Carnivore Southeast Asia, Mekong River, Chao Phraya River Datnioididae Datnoids Other-Monster-Fish Widebar Datnoids (Datnioides pulcher) are available within the aquarium hobby under a variety of common names including: Widebar Datnoid, Siamese Tigerfish, Gold Datnoid, Tiger Datnoid, Pulcher Datnoid and the Cambodian Tigerfish. This species originates from the tropical water ways of southeast Asia, where they are commonly found in the Mekong and Chao Phraya river basins and surrounding rivers, streams and tributaries. Widebar Datnoids have become quite popular with aquarium hobbyists due to their attractive "tiger like" coloration and large unique body type. While they are aggressive towards smaller fish species that they will view as food and will compete with others of their own kind, they are compatible with a wide variety of other larger fish species like Peacock Bass, Large Catfish, Rays, etc. Widebar Datnoids are typically identified by their gold colored bodies and 5 to 6 wide black stripes. These wide black stripes over a gold body also gives this species their Tiger nicknames, as they resemble the Tigers of southeast Asia. As with most large fish species, the size of the aquarium is very important when keeping Widebar Datnoids in the home aquarium. They can reach upwards of 24 inches in the wild and typically about 18 inches in the home aquarium, thus they need something close to 180 gallons as a minimum aquarium size to properly house adult specimens. Widebar Datnoids will prefer an aquarium that has plenty of open swimming area, diffused lighting and some areas of plants or submerged root along with moderate water flow. Being a river based species the Widebar Datnoid will appreciate conditions that resemble their native habitat. As is the case with most river based species used to large volumes of water turnover, the Widebar Datnoid needs high quality water parameters in the home aquarium in order to maintain proper health and to thrive. Hobbyists should utilize wet/dry filtration or large canister filtration along with additional internal water flow provided by powerheads in order to create high levels of dissolved oxygen within the aquarium and efficiently handle the large bio-load that Datnoids place on an aquarium filtration system. Widebar Datnoids are compatible with a wide variety of larger fish species ranging from South American Cichlid species to Southeast Asian tropical river species. They are commonly found inhabiting aquariums that contain other large species like Peacock Bass, Arowana, Gar, Catfish, large Loaches and other similarly sized species. Widebar Datnoids will predate on any fish species small enough to fit in their mouths and most crustaceans or invertebrates that they are capable of consuming. They live in social groups in the wild and often do best in the home aquarium when kept in groups of 3 to 6 individuals consisting of more females than males. Known for stalking their prey like their Tiger namesakes, Widebar Datnoids in the wild feed on small fish and crustacean species. Widebar Datnoids kept in the home aquarium can be trained to eat a wide variety of live, fresh, frozen and even commercial pellet foods. They will readily consume live feeder fish, crayfish and worms, along with frozen varieties of the same foods. Most hobbyists convert their Datnoids over to feeding on either fresh or frozen meaty foods like shrimp, krill, beefheart, chicken livers, earthworms or sinking carnivore pellet foods. Feeding non-live foods is typically easier and helps eliminate the introduction of diseases and parasites that many live food items can carry.
Indonesian Tigerfish
(Datnoid Microlepis) Moderate Semi-aggressive 14" 90 gallons 74-84° F, pH 6.0-7.8, dH 8-18 Carnivore Indonesia, Thailand, Western Borneo Datnioididae Datnoids Other-Monster-Fish Indonesian Tigerfish (Datnoid Microlepis) originate from the tropical rivers, streams and tributaries of Indonesia and Thailand. Indonesian Tigerfish have are very popular with aquarium hobbyists due to their attractive tiger-like coloration and large unique body type. While they are aggressive towards smaller fish species that they view as food and will sometimes squabble with others of their own kind, they are compatible with a wide variety of other larger fish species like Peacock Bass, Large Catfish, Rays, etc. Indonesian Tigerfish have a tall body with a sharply slanted forehead. The body coloration is dark gold near the dorsal fin and fades to white at the pelvic fin. The length of the body is covered with black vertical bars that extend across the entire body. Depending upon the geographic location, they can have between 5 and 7 bars. Indonesian Tigerfish can grow up to 18 inches in length in the wild, but they rarely attain this size in home aquarium. In captive environments they will typically only reach between 10 to 14 inches in length. They have a life span of about 15 years when well cared for and housed in a larger aquarium. As with most large fish species, the size of the aquarium is very important when keeping Indonesian Tigerfish in the home aquarium. They can reach upwards of 18 inches in the wild and typically about 12 to 14 inches in the home aquarium, thus they need something close to 180 gallon for long term housing of adult specimens. They will prefer an aquarium that has plenty of open swimming area, diffused lighting and some areas of plants or submerged root along with moderate water flow. Being a river based species the Indonesian Tigerfish will appreciate conditions that resemble their native river habitat. As is the case with most river based species used to large volumes of water turnover, the Indonesian Tigerfish needs high quality water parameters in the home aquarium in order to maintain proper health and maintain a strong immune system. Hobbyists should utilize wet/dry filtration or large canister filtration along with additional internal water flow provided by powerheads in order to create high levels of dissolved oxygen within the aquarium and efficiently handle the large bio-load that Datnoid species place on an aquarium filtration system. Indonesian Tigerfish in the wild feed on small fish, crustaceans, worms and insects. Wild caught adult specimens will most often prefer live foods over commercial meaty fish foods. However, young specimens can easily be trained to take a wide variety of commercial fish foods including: meaty pellets, meaty sticks, krill or silversides. They will also readily feed on live feeder shrimp or fish. Juvenile Indonesian Tigerfish will eat bloodworms, meaty flake foods or small feeder fish like guppies or minnows. Indonesian Tigerfish should be fed daily, with frequency and amount of feedings adjusted based on desired growth and the overall girth of the fish.
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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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 Ki Utsuri 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 yellow markings common to Utsuri specimens. Many people associate the pattern of the Ki Utsuri with a checker board pattern or sometimes simply a bumblebee look. Despite how one views the coloration of the Ki Utsuri, it is a unique looking Koi who is certain to attract plenty of attention. Ki Utsuri is the third most common of the primary Utsuri types, with 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. The Ki Utsuri and to a slightly lesser extent the Hi Utsuri tend 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 Ki Utsuri to compete head to head with them in koi shows. The 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 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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Hi 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 Hi Utsuri is a black fish with red (hi) coloration, similar to a Showa Sanshoku without the white. Like the Showa a high quality Hi Utsuri will have black facial markings like the menware or lightning pattern across the head, and will have an attractively balanced combination of sumi (black) and hi (red) across the body of the fish. The pectoral fins can be all black or a mixture of black and red. Traditionally the Hi Utsuri lacked both in overall size and length and in color when compared to Gosanke (Kohaku, Sanke & Showa); however, more recently breeders have begun to cross Hi Utsuri with both Kohaku and Magoi in order to improve the Hi Utsuri. Crossings with Kohaku has greatly improved the red (hi) of the Hi Utsuri, where it is more of a scarlet red and less of a reddish-orange color of past generations. Additionally, the reintroduction of some classic Magoi genes (black koi) back into the line has helped to both increase the girth and length of the Hi Utsuri without sacrificing body shape or quality of color pattern. The following traits are essential for quality Hi 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.
1 like
Shusui
(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 Shusui, meaning "autumn water" in Japanese, are the Doitsu or mirror-scaled cousin of the Asagi Koi. They were developed by cross breeding the Asagi Koi with the common German mirror carp, which resulted in the first Doitsu scaled Koi breed. Doitsu is the Japanese word for Germany and is applied to Koi that have been cross bred with the German mirror carp. The resulting fish like the German mirror carp itself have only a single row of larger scales on the top of the back and are scale-less over the rest of the body. Similar to the Asagi, Shusui hi (red) should be symmetrical and a rusty red in color. Ideally the hi (red) should stay above the lateral line and be present only on the sides of the head or not on the head at all. Also the pectoral fins should be either white in color, or have a small amount of hi (red) near where the pectoral fin connects to the body. As with Asagi, a clear head is very desirable for Shusui as well. Rather than the pure white being preferred over all else, the proper head pattern is determined by the pattern of the red and blue on the body of the Koi. Hi Shusui are specimens whose hi (red) extends up over the back, so that the two contrasting colors are the red of the hi and dark blue of the mirror scales. Hana Shusui (Hana meaning flower in Japanese) also have more red than normal, but here it is in the form of an extra band between the lateral line and dorsal fin, with a break in between. In the best examples, the hi is laid out in a wavy pattern to give a flowery effect. The following traits are essential for quality Shusui 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.
1 like
Asagi
(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 Asagi Koi have a long history dating back to the origins of the breeding of ornamental carp or Koi. They are one of a few varieties that closely resemble Magoi or wild black carp, which means that they have retained much of the size of wild carp and are more hardy than more selectively bred varieties. While the color pattern of the Asagi is not as flashy as some of their Koi pond mates, it does certainly have a subtle elegance that serves to contrast and accentuate more brightly colored varieties. The Asagi is a fully scaled non-metallic fish with scales above the lateral line exhibiting a dark to light blue coloration, with a red-orange color on their sides, pectoral fins and the sides of their head. Generally the top of the head will be a white color; however, some high quality Asagi will also have some red-orange coloration on the tip of their nose as well. Asagi are one half of a recognized judging variety, with the other half being their Doitsu counterparts, the Shusui. It is important to examine the scales of young Asagi, as this will determine how it looks as the Koi matures. As the Koi grow, the skin will stretch and the pine cone pattern will become more well defined. Those Koi who exhibit predominantly white scales with small blue dots in the center will finish as a Koi with a deeply contrasted net pattern. Juvenile Koi with darker scales when small will produce a more even and deeper blue color, both of these variations are considered attractive and neither is considered better than the other. It should be noted that small Koi (10 inches or less) will have a darker line in the middle of the head, which should not be considered a defect as this will clear with age. The following traits are essential for quality Asagi 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.
1 like
Shiro 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 Shiro Utsuri have a very long history that dates back to the early 1900's where they are believed to have been first produced by Kazuo Minemura sometime around 1925. Their contrasting black and white pattern made them a very attractive variety who were instantly sought after by Koi enthusiasts. Early Shiro Utsuri did not grow as large as the other popular Koi varieties of the time, which prevented them from doing well in Koi shows and limited the overall potential of their beauty. This disadvantage was erased when the Omosako Koi farm began breeding Shiro Utsuri that in time reached lengths over 40 inches in size, which not only brought out the full beauty and potential of the fish but also allowed them to win awards at Koi shows including the All Japan Koi Show. Shiro Utsuri are most often confused with Shiro Bekko, but by applying the same criteria that differentiate Showa from Sanke, the difference becomes clear. A Shiro Utsuri is a black fish with white markings, a Shiro Bekko is the reverse, and all Utsuri sumi (black) is of the typical Showa "wraparound" type, which extends down to or beyond the lateral line on the side of the fish. The following traits are essential for quality Shiro 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.
1 like
Tancho
(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 Tancho is the name given to Koi who have a round red crest or marking on the center of their head. The name Tancho comes from a sacred crane of Japan (Grus Japonensis) which is a spectacular white waterfowl with a blood red crest on its head, called a Tancho. It is believed that the first Tancho was a Tancho Kohaku, which was completely white in color with the exception of a round red crest on the center of its head. This Tancho Kohaku was immensely popular in Japan, as it reminds Japanese people of their national flag, a red sun on a white field. While the Tancho Kohaku is the most commonly seen Tancho Koi, there are several other varieties of Koi that can exhibit the Tancho marking as well. Koi with Tancho markings include: Tancho Kohaku, Tancho Sanshoku, Tancho Showa, Tancho Goshiki and Tancho Hariwake. Tancho are not an independent variety of Koi; instead they are a specific variant of a Koi that can be produced from a number of Koi varieties including Kohaku, Sanke & Showa. The Tancho marking occurs by chance, and therfore is not a "breedable" trait, which also means that they cannot be bred in bulk as with other Koi varieties. There is as much chance of obtaining a Tancho by breeding any two Kohaku as there is by breeding two Tancho. It is also quite common for young Tancho to lose their red due to stress or adverse water conditions. Once gone, the red will never return. The following traits are essential for quality Tancho 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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Splendid Dottyback
(Pseudochromis splendens) Easy Semi-aggressive 4" 30 gallons 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025 Carnivore Indo-Pacific, Australia Pseudochromidae Pseudochromis / Dottybacks Reef Compatible The Splendid Dottyback (Pseudochromis splendens) is found throughout the Western Indo-Pacific to Australia, where it lives in shallow reefs, reef slopes and outer reef areas. They move about the rocks and corals of the reef feeding on all manner of small worms, pods and micro-inverts that they find living in rocky crevices and within the sand. They are an efficient carnivore that makes an excellent addition to all manner of reef aquariums and FOWLR aquariums with plenty of live rock. Wild caught specimens will often vary in color depending on the food source they were feeding on in the area where they were collected. Specimens fed a high quality diet with balanced vitamins will generally exhibit the more sought after brighter coloration, while specimens who are fed a lower quality diet exhibit a more faded coloration. Splendid Dottyback psuedochromis are also known for being one of the larger species of psuedochromis commonly available within the hobby, as they can reach 4 inches in length. Their larger size coupled with the typical aggressive and territorial nature of psuedochromis makes them aggressive for their size. Due to their somewhat aggressive nature, the Splendid Dottyback should be the only psuedochromis or similarly shaped species in smaller aquariums in order to avoid territorial battles. Large aquariums with plenty of live rock can support multiple psuedochromis specimens or a mixture of psuedochromis and other similarly shaped species. Overall the Splendid Dottyback is a very hardy species that makes a good addition to both reef and FOWLR aquariums. The Splendid Dottyback is at home in aquariums ranging from smaller 30 gallon aquariums all the way up to large reef aquariums. Like most other psuedochromis species they are very territorial towards other psuedochromis and similarly sized and shaped fish species. However, they get along very well with a wide variety of community fish species and are not easily bullied by semi-aggressive species like larger wrasse, parrotfish, hawkfish, angelfish, etc. Splendid Dottybacks will not bother corals, invertebrates or sessile invertebrates which makes them well suited for larger reef aquariums. The exception to this is that they will readily consume bristleworms and small shrimp species like anemone shrimp. However, they are quite aggressive for their size, so they are not well suited for reef aquariums with extremely delicate fish species. They do best in aquariums with plenty of live rock caves and crevices and at least around 30 gallons or so of water volume. They have an aggressive personality for their size, which means that they are not well suited for very small nano aquariums or shy tank mates. Splendid Dottyback psuedochromis need a balanced diet containing a variety of marine based meaty foods. Foods high in vitamins like carotene and vitamin A are required for them to truly thrive and exhibit their brightest coloration. Foods like krill and chopped raw table shrimp are good sources for these vitamins as the plant matter and plankton that these species feed on is high in carotene and vitamin A. A well balanced diet made up of mostly meaty based foods with a small amount of plant matter or algae is best suited to provide all the vitamins and minerals the Splendid Dottyback requires in order to maintain a healthy immune system. Ideally they should be feed two to three times per day an amount that they will consume within five to ten minutes. Good food options include: krill, chopped raw table shrimp, mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, chopped raw mussel, chopped raw squid, chopped raw clam, marine algae and marine sponge. High quality commercial flake and freeze-dried foods designed for marine carnivores are also an excellent food source for this species, and often make up the staple portion of their diet when kept in captivity.
Atlantic Blue Tang
(Acanthurus coeruleus) Easy Peaceful 10" 150 gallons 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025 Herbivore Caribbean Sea, Western Atlantic Ocean Acanthuridae Tangs / Surgeonfish Reef Compatible Atlantic Blue Tangs are found in coastal waters and shallow reefs throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea from Florida down to Bonaire and Aruba. They live amongst the coral reefs and inshore reef slopes found near the coasts of southern Florida, Mexico, Central American and the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire & Curacoa). Juveniles have a bright yellow colored body with a brilliant blue coloration on the tips of the caudal and anal fins. During their transition phase from their juvenile coloration to their adult coloration, they very from a mixed yellow and light blue to a more uniform light blue coloration with darker blue striping. As an adult, the Atlantic Blue Tang takes on a deep blue color with light blue striping on their body and finnage. They are prolific algae grazers who graze on algae almost continuously throughout the day. They will feed on algae growing on the reefs in which they inhabit and algae growing on large fish and sea turtles. In eating the algae off the bodies and shells of larger fish and turtles, the Atlantic Blue Tangs serves as a cleaner species for larger predators. The Atlantic Blue Tang is a very active swimmer, as they spend most of their time cruising long stretches of the reef in search of algae on which to graze. They will form sizable groups of individuals who school together as they search for algae and macro-algae marine plants on which to feed. In the wild Atlantic Blue Tangs live in large groups or schools of fish who move about the reef and reef slopes foraging on algae, macro-algae plants and cleaning algae from larger open water fish and sea turtles. Despite being a schooling fish, their eventual size combined with the average marine aquarium size, means that the average hobbyist will not be able to keep a school of these fish. Atlantic Blue Tangs will settle in nicely with other Tang species commonly found within the aquarium hobby if given plenty of open swimming room and plenty of algae to graze on. Unlike many of the Tang species reef hobbyists often keep, the Atlantic Blue Tang will not be happy in smaller reef aquariums or cube aquariums. They need significant room to swim with a 6 foot long aquarium being a good starting point. Ideally this species should be kept in something closer to a 180 gallon aquarium or larger. However, if given adequate swimming space and plenty of marine based algae and plant matter, they will happily share their aquarium both with other Tang species and other reef fish ranging from Chromis to Large Angelfish. As with most Tangs it is better to either keep a single Tang of each body shape or to keep 6 more Tangs so that no single fish tries to claim the entire aquarium as their territory. The Atlantic Blue Tang will also appreciate plenty of variable or laminar water flow, which will help simulate the shallow reefs and reefs slopes that they commonly inhabit in the wild. Wavemakers or modern powerheads with flow controllers are excellent methods to provide laminar water flow within the aquarium. As a herbivore, the Atlantic Blue Tangs diet should consist mostly of marine based algae and plant matter. While they will also consume some meaty foods, the majority of their diet should consist of algae, seaweed and commercial foods designed for marine herbivores. A diet consisting of too little marine algae and plant matter will weaken their immune system due to a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in their diet. Improper diets will also lead to increased aggression, poor coloration and increased risk of disease. Atlantic Blue Tangs should be provided plenty of grazing opportunities, which can be achieved by having plenty of live rock being present in the aquarium or via the addition of algae or plant matter introduced into the aquarium via a veggie clip or similar fashion. In addition to grazing on marine algae, they should be offered prepared herbivore foods 2 to 3 times per day. Atlantic Blue Tangs are more prolific grazers than the average Tang; therefore, they are only recommended for larger well established aquariums where there are plenty of algae grazing opportunities.
Bicolor Foxface
(Siganus uspi) Easy Peaceful 10" 125 gallons 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025 Herbivore Fiji, Western Pacific Siganidae Foxface-Rabbit Reef Compatible The Bicolor Foxface (Siganus uspi) has been a popular fish species amongst large reef aquarium hobbyists for a long time. Their coloration, unique shape and propensity for consuming large amounts of algae and other marine vegetation make them both an attractive and beneficial addition to the reef aquarium. In the wild they are found on the edges of coral reefs and rocky reef slopes that dot the western Pacific ocean. While generally considered a reef safe species, they may nibble on some soft & LPS corals if not sufficiently fed. Despite their relatively large size, they are active and graceful swimmers that do well swimming about crowded reef aquariums. Bicolor Foxface truly revel in swimming and algae grazing, thus really do require an aquarium with plenty of open swimming area and plenty of rocks on which to graze for algae. This species should only be added to well establish large reef or FOWLR aquariums that provide for plenty of algae grazing opportunities. If added to a newer aquarium or one with minimal rocky reef scape, the Bicolor Foxface should be provided frequent supplemental feedings of algae rich food and provided dried seaweed or green leafy vegetables like green leaf lettuce. Their larger size allows them to be kept with many of the less aggressive predatory fish species, while their graceful swimming and algae consumption make them suitable for reef and mixed reef aquariums as well. Keeping the Bicolored Foxface in the home aquarium is relatively straight forward and not too difficult. Their primary need is for an adequately sized aquarium of at least 6 feet in length and 125 gallons or more in volume. Bicolored Foxface are very active swimmers who need significant space to swim within the aquarium. Plenty of live rock within the aquarium is ideal as this will provide the Bicolored Foxface both with places to hide when threatened and with additional algae grazing feeding opportunities. The relatively large size of this species combined with their peaceful demeanor make them well suited to be housed with a wide variety of other fish species. They are generally too large for larger semi-aggressive fish to bother and due to their peaceful nature they will not bother smaller fish species. If insufficient food is available, the Bicolor Foxface may nibble on some soft corals and LPS; however, in general they can be kept with pretty much any coral, invertebrate or crustacean species found within the typical reef or FOWLR aquarium. Hobbyists of any experience level should have no problems keeping this species provided their aquarium is large enough, they maintain reasonable water parameters and feed plant and algae based foods. The Bicolor Foxface is a herbivore that require mainly plant and alge based foods in their diet. While they may consume some meaty foods, their diet should have a substantially higher proportion of plant matter, seaweed and algae in their diet compared to meaty food items. In the wild they will eat large quantities of marine plants like Caulerpa and other similar macro-algae. In the aquarium environment they are most often fed marine seaweed and frozen preparations designed for herbivores. They will also consume some meaty foods like mysis shrimp, brine shrimp and flake or frozen preparations designed for omnivores and herbivores. In addition to regular direct feedings, the Bicolored Foxface should be provided with grazing opportunities via a vegetable clip containing seaweed, green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce or via algae growth on live rock. The Bicolor Foxface like all Rabbitfishes, has venomous spines on their dorsal, pectoral and anal fins. While not fatal to humans, their sting can be extremely painful. Most injuries to hobbyists occur when they attempt to handle the Rabbitfish without wearing gloves. Hobbyists should use plastic collection containers while wearing gloves if they need to catch or move Rabbitfish.
Multicolor Angelfish
(Centropyge multicolor) Moderate Semi-aggressive 4" 40 gallons 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, sg 1.020-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4 Omnivore Marshall Islands Pomacanthidae Angels (Dwarf) Reef Compatible Multicolor Angelfish are found fairly infrequently within the aquarium hobby, where they are sold under a variety of common names including: Multicolor Angelfish, Pastel Pygmy Angelfish or Many-colored Angelfish. In nature they are found living in and around deeper reef slopes, ranging from areas of rocky rubble all the way to areas of dense coral growth. They are found singularly for short periods of time as maturing juveniles, but will quickly form harems of 3 to 8 individuals with a single dominant male and female. Despite being an omnivore, the Multicolor Angelfish consumes much more algae and plant material than it does meaty foods in its diet within it natural habitat. They will quickly adjust to commercial aquarium foods of all types, but for best overall health and to maintain a strong immune system, hobbyists should feed them a diet high in marine algae and seaweed. The Multicolor Angelfish tends to be more secretive and delicate to keep in captivity than many of the more commonly found dwarf Angelfish aquarium species like the Coral Beauty or the Lemonpeel Angelfish. While the Multicolor Angelfish can do quite well within the aquarium environment, they are much more likely to survive and thrive when provided with plenty of live rock and hiding places. When first introducing this species to the aquarium it is important to take time and acclimate them slowly, both to adjust to the water chemistry and to provide them with dimmed lighting for 30 minutes to an hour after being introduced into the aquarium. They do best in tanks with calm, peaceful tank mates and should only be kept with other dwarf Angelfish in longer, larger aquariums like a 125 gallon or larger tank. Multicolor Angels are not suitable for aquariums with more aggressive tank mates like large Angelfish, aggressive Damselfish species or any predatory fish like Triggers or Groupers. They do best in peaceful fish aquariums or reef aquariums where they won't be bothered by tank mates and will have plenty of caves, crevices and other structures to explore, forage for algae and retreat to when threatened. Unlike some dwarf Angelfish species, Multicolor Angelfish do well in many reef environments as they are not known to bother most corals and invertebrates. However, some specimens have been known to nip at some stony corals and clam mantles, but overall they tend to be on the less destructive side of the dwarf Angelfish scale when it comes to corals and sessile inverts. Being an omnivore, the Multicolor Angelfish should be fed a varied diet of both vegetable based and meaty food in order to provide the vitamins, minerals and nutrients required for good health and a strong immune system. It is best to feed a mix of commercial meaty and vegetable based foods, or foods designed for marine omnivores. Multicolor Angels will readily accept flake, freeze-dried or frozen commercial marine fish foods; as well as, fresh or frozen meaty foods made from quality marine based meaty items like shrimp, squid or mussels. Additionally, they should be provided with plenty of marine based vegetable matter either via commercial foods like dried seaweed or marine algae flakes or through algae grazing opportunities from the presence of plenty of live rock within the aquarium. This species will actively graze on marine algae growing on rock work or the aquarium glass.
Masked Rabbitfish
(Siganus puellus) Easy Peaceful 10" 150 gallons 74-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025 Herbivore Indian Ocean, Australia, South China Sea Siganidae Foxface-Rabbitfish Reef Compatible The Masked Rabbitfish (Siganus puellus) is found in it its native habitat living in shallow, coral-rich lagoons and seaward facing reefs of the Indo-West Pacific region, generally at depths of 10 to 100 feet. While they are found primarily in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific, they can be found in the South China Sea to the Gilbert Islands, north to the Ryukyu Islands, south to the southern Great Barrier Reef and New Caledonia, and Tonga. Juvenile specimens form large schools, often mixing with other Rabbitfish and Tangs, where they patrol the open reef flats and in lagoons, especially in areas dominated by Acropora corals. However, as an adult they will form isolated pairs and move to deeper waters, typically along seaward facing reef slopes and drop-offs at reef edges. Their body is yellow-orange coloration with dorsal grading from a pale blue to white, with the body being covered with wavy blue lines that are vertical to the anterior and horizontal to the posterior. The eyes are masked by a prominent blackish stripe that extends from the bottom of the mouth to the top of the head, with gives them their common "Masked Rabbitfish" name. As this black stripe passes through the eye it becomes spotted with black dots over top a blue background. This species is sold under a variety of names within the aquarium hobby including: the Masked Rabbitfish, Decorated Rabbitfish, and Masked Spinefoot. Unlike some of the other Rabbitfish commonly sold in the hobby who do well in aquariums as small as 75 gallons, the Masked Rabbitfish is more of an open water species who will need a an aquarium of 150 gallons or more as an adult in order to thrive. When keeping the Masked Rabbitfish within the aquarium environment hobbyists will want to focus on providing plenty of live rock for grazing, ample swimming space and compatible tank mates. Similar to open water Tang species, the Masked Rabbitfish moves up and down large areas of seaward facing reef slopes in the wild grazing on algae over a large territory. They need a large enough aquarium to adequately simulate a scaled down version of their life in nature within an aquarium environment. Ideally hobbyists will want to keep them in an 8 foot long tank like a 240 gallon or larger; however, a 6 foot tank like a 180 or 150 gallon is sufficient on the low end. This is not the species to keep in smaller 4 reef tank as an adult, as with time they will become more and more aggressive towards tank mates and any polyp or stony corals that are present. Despite picking on corals when kept in aquariums that are too small and confining or when under fed, the Masked Rabbitfish is very much a reef compatible fish when properly fed and housed. It is quite flexible in regards to tank mates, with the only exception being other Rabbitfish or a group of their own kind. They do best when kept in a pair in larger reef aquariums. When kept in a suitably sized aquarium, this species will not bother smaller tank mates, and are large enough as an adult to handle being kept with larger aggressive community fish like large Angelfish or even predatory fish like Groupers or Triggerfish. Predators are aware of the venomous dorsal spines of their and will tend to leave them alone. Lastly, it should be said again that this species can eat large amounts of algae from rocks, like green hair algae and filamentous algae. Thus they need to be kept in tanks that provide plenty of grazing opportunities or provided supplemental feedings of dried algae or seaweed. It should also be noted that do not eat every type of algae, so those with nuisance algae problems will need to verify that the Masked Rabbitfish will eat the specific type of algae that is taking over the tank if purchased for the sole purpose of clearing up a algae plague. Masked Rabbitfish are a herbivore species who consume large amounts of marine algae, seaweed and some marine plants. They will do best in aquariums with plenty of live rock to provide them with algae grazing opportunities, in addition to a herbivore based commercial foods diet. Hobbyists will want to provide them a quality flake or frozen food designed for marine herbivores, along with plenty of dried algae or seaweed. In the wild they will eat large quantities of marine plants like Caulerpa and other similar macro-algae, thus they cannot be kept in aquariums containing most marine plant species. This species is sought after by many reef aquarium hobbyists as they are adept keeping the reef free of excess algae growth. However, if they are not able to satisfy their appetite with commercial herbivore foods and supplemental algae grazing, they will often nip at polyp and stony corals. If you witness this species nipping at corals it is best to provide them with additional dried seaweed or algae, which should curb any aggression towards corals. The Masked Rabbitfish like all Rabbitfishes has venomous spines on their dorsal, pectoral and anal fins. While not fatal to humans, their sting can be extremely painful. Most injuries to hobbyists occur when they attempt to handle the Rabbitfish without wearing gloves. Hobbyists should use plastic collection containers while wearing gloves if they need to catch or move Rabbitfish.
Zebra Bullhead Shark
(Heterodontus zebra) Expert Semi-aggressive 48" 1000 gallons 60-72° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025 Carnivore Western Pacific, Japan, Australia Heterodontidae Sharks Fish Only The Zebra Bullhead Shark (Heterodontus zebra) is a member of the Heterodontidae family of bottom dwelling sharks, which is found living in deeper waters of the Western Pacific from Japan in the north to Australia in the south. While Zebra Bullhead Sharks can tolerate a range of temperatures between 58°F to 79°F, they prefer water temperatures between 60°F - 72°F. They are a very attractive species of Horn Shark that have distinctive black vertical bands or stripes over a tan or cream colored body. They are both slow swimming and slow growing, which combined with their ability to acclimate well to aquarium life, have made them commonly available within the aquarium hobby. While they have many desirable traits for aquarium life, Zebra Bullhead Sharks do require a very large aquarium as they reach adult sizes up to 4 feet in length. The Zebra Bullhead Shark is a good beginner shark for experienced marine aquarium hobbyists looking to begin keeping sharks species, provided they have a very large (1000 gallon or more) aquarium. Like most shark species available within the aquarium hobby the Zebra Bullhead Shark can be housed in aquariums as small as 100 gallons while a juvenile, but must be moved to larger aquariums as it matures and increases in size. Adult Zebra Bullhead Sharks reach sizes upwards of 4 feet in length and will require a tank of at least 10x5x3 feet in size and totaling roughly 1000 gallons. Being a temperate water species, Zebra Bullhead Sharks prefer cooler water temperatures ranging from 60°F to 72°F; however, they can live in warmer more tropical water conditions with water temperatures in the mid 70s. Zebra Bullhead Sharks kept at warmer water temperatures will have a more active metabolism, thus will consume more food and grow more quickly. In fact Zebra Bullhead Sharks kept in temperatures about 75°F have been known to grow upwards of twice as fast as specimens kept in water conditions closer to 60°F. Bottom dwelling shark species like the Zebra Bullhead Shark do best with a soft sandy substrate that will not irritate their abdomens and provides them with a more natural habitat. Like other sharks species, the Zebra Bullhead Shark requires high levels of dissolved oxygen, clean well filtered water and no stray electrical currents in the tank. Keeping heaters, skimmers, circulation pumps and other equipment in a sump will help to eliminate electrical currents in the display tank. Lastly, the Zebra Bullhead Shark has a very peaceful disposition for a predator species, and can be successfully kept with a wide range of medium sized peaceful to semi-aggressive fish species. In their natural habitat Zebra Bullhead Sharks feed on bottom dwelling invertebrates and crustaceans with the occasional small bony fish. Zebra Bullhead Sharks are nocturnal hunters that move about the ocean bottom looking for urchins, mollusks and other similar prey buried in the sand or moving about the rocks. The Zebra Bullhead Sharks mouth and teeth are well designed for grabbing hard shelled prey and breaking through their outer shell in order to access the soft flesh inside. Zebra Bullhead Sharks that are new to the aquarium environment can be enticed to eat by feeding them with the aquarium lights dimmed or by offering live saltwater feeder shrimps or fresh meaty marine items like squid or mussels. Once acclimated they will readily accept a variety of meaty marine foods like shrimp, mussel, squid, clams, silver sides and other similar fare. Begin by feeding 4 to 5 times per week while keeping an eye on the sharks overall body girth. Adjust feeding accordingly so that the sharks body maintains a healthy round proportion, without the belly bulging out.
Whitespotted Bamboo Shark
(Chiloscyllium plagiosum) Expert Semi-aggressive 38" 350 gallons 72-79°F; sg 1.020-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4 Carnivore Indo-Pacific Hemiscyllidae Sharks Fish Only Whitespotted Bamboo Sharks (Chiloscyllium plagiosum) or Marbled Bamboo Sharks are found throughout the Indo-Pacific ocean, where they are generally found living on coral reefs and shallow lagoons. Like other Carpet or Bamboo shark species, the Whitespotted Bamboo Shark uses its slender body to get inside rocky crevices and holes in the reef to hunt for inverts, crustaceans and small fish species. They also use the reef and/or rocky formations along the lagoon bottom to protect them from other larger shark species. Whitespotted Bamboo Sharks are commonly found within the aquarium hobby due to their relative small size and ease of care. Adult specimens generally reach about 30 to 36 inches in the aquarium environment, which means they can be housed in aquariums as small as 450 to 500 gallons as an adult. The Whitespotted Bamboo Sharks slender body and natural reef habitat also make them better suited for aquarium life as they can maneuver in tight areas and shallow water. Whitespotted Bamboo Sharks require excellent water conditions, no stray electrical currents in the water, a soft sandy or mixed sand/rubble substrate, open room to swim and as large of tank as possible. Unlike some other shark species commonly seen within the hobby like the Nurse Shark, Whitespotted Bamboo Sharks are small enough as an adult to be properly housed in larger aquariums ranging from 350 to 500 gallons depending on shape. It is important to maintain excellent water conditions when keeping Whitespotted Bamboo Sharks, thus aquariums housing this species should have excellent biological filtration, large efficient protein skimmer and a large sump to help augment water volume. All shark aquariums should be securely covered in order to prevent sharks from jumping out and should be designed with maximum length and width in mind to create the largest possible aquarium footprint providing for maximum swimming area. Tropical sharks like the Whitespotted Bamboo Shark also required very high levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, thus there should be plenty of water surface agitation, additional power heads or air stones to provide as much dissolved oxygen as possible. Bottom dwelling shark species like the Whitespotted Bamboo Shark should generally not be kept with fish species that tend to pick at the reef or at bottom dwelling inverts. Examples of poor tank mates for Bamboo Sharks include: Large Angelfish, Triggerfish, Puffers, or Groupers larger than the shark. Good tank mates include: other similarly sized shark species, Stingrays, Tangs, smaller Groupers, Grunts, Hamlets and other similar species. Bottom dwelling Carpet Sharks like the Whitespotted Bamboo Shark are well known invertebrate and crustacean predators, thus they should not be kept with crabs, shrimp, snails, starfish, etc unless they are intended as food. Whitespotted Bamboo Shark in the wild spend much of their time foraging amongst tropical reefs and within shallow lagoons looking for a variety of invertebrates like shrimp, small crabs & clams on which to feed, along with crustaceans and small fish. In the aquarium environment Whitespotted Bamboo Sharks will quickly adjust to eating prepared meaty foods including: fresh or frozen silver sides, squid, clams, shrimp, clam, mussel and pieces of fish flesh. It is best to feed them a variety of marine based meaty foods in order to provide them with a complete nutritional diet, which will help them maintain a strong immune system. Juvenile specimens should be fed 3 to 4 times per week, while keeping an eye on both their growth in length and girth. Adjust feeding accordingly so that the shark grows at a reasonable pace while maintaining a body girth that is not too skinny or overly plump. If well fed they tend to leave most other fish tank mates alone, but they are likely to attempt to consume invertebrates or crustaceans while they hunt during the night.
Red Mushroom Coral
(Actinodiscus sp.) Easy Semi-aggressive Low to Medium Bottom to Middle Moderate Red, Pink, Maroon Calcium, Iodine, Strontium, Trace elements 72-80° F; sg 1.023-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4 Indo-Pacific, South Pacific Actinodiscidae Mushroom Corals The Red Mushroom Coral (Actinodiscus sp.) is a hardy and easy to maintain species, which is also very colorful and enjoyable to keep. Red Mushroom Corals are also referred to as Mushroom Anemones, Actinodiscus Mushroom and Disc Anemones. This variety of mushroom coral varies in color from a light pink to a dark maroon depending on lighting and aquarium conditions. They will also fluoresce when kept under actinic lighting. Red Mushroom Corals are a wonderful invertebrate for bottom placement in a reef aquarium, which over time will reproduce forming a carpet covering the rock work and nearby sand in a brilliant fluorescent red. In general, Red Mushroom Corals will prosper with only a medium light intensity, and should be placed in the lower areas of an aquarium if kept under high intensity reef lighting. Red Mushroom Corals require a low to moderate indirect water flow in which to provide supplementary food sources such as photo-plankton and carry away waste products created by the coral. Too direct or too intense a water flow will inhibit the Red Mushroom Coral from fully expanding and will overtime lead to poor health. Optimum placement for this species is on the bottom of the aquarium in a spot with indirect water flow. Bottom placement will also keep the Red Mushroom Coral from receiving too intense lighting; as well as, allow it to grow outward. When placing the Red Mushroom Coral also keep in mind that it is a semi-aggressive species that will require adequate space between itself and other corals or sessile invertebrates (also note that this species will grow out horizontally over time). The Red Mushroom Coral receives most of its nutritional requirements through the photosynthesis of the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae, which it hosts. However, it also feeds on other nutrients and particle matter present in established marine aquariums. The Red Mushroom Coral will also benefit from additional feedings in the form of micro-plankton or other foods designed for filter feeding invertebrates. Each mushroom polyp in the colony is a distinct individual, thus supplemental foods should be gently sprayed over the entire colony to make sure that each polyp has an opportunity to feed.
Acan Coral
(Acanthastrea echinata) Easy Aggressive Medium Bottom to Middle Moderate Orange, Red, Purple, Blue, Pink Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements 72-80° F; sg 1.023-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4; dKH 8-12 Indo-Pacific Mussidae LPS Hard Corals Acan Corals (Acanthastrea echinata) have become extremely popular within the reef aquarium hobby due to their bright striped color combinations and ease of care. They are generally widely available and are sold under multiple common names including: Acan Coral, Acan Brain Coral, Acanthastrea Coral or simply Acans. Acan Corals are available in an extensive variety of vivid color combinations and patterns, which allows reef hobbyists to inject any desired colors into their reef tank. Beyond simply boasting amazing colors, Acan Corals are also very hardy and adapt quickly to the reef aquarium environment. They will tolerate a fairly wide range of water conditions and once acclimated are known for their rapid growth rates. Acan Corals have only moderate lighting and water flow requirements that consist of moderate lighting intensity and medium amounts of indirect water flow. While Acan Corals are perfect for beginning reef hobbyists, they are also highly sought after by advanced reef hobbyists for the splash of color they bring to even the most established reef aquarium system. Whether a beginning or advanced reef hobbyist with anything from a nano reef to large reef system, the Acan Coral is right at home. Their modest care requirements and brilliant coloration make the Acan Coral the perfect addition to almost any reef aquarium. While they are easy to care for and have modest care requirements, there are some specific requirements for keeping Acan Corals. First off is placement, Acan Corals need to be kept at least a couple of inches from any neighboring corals. This is because the Acan Coral is an aggressive species that will fight for its position on the reef. They can extend their stomachs out onto neighboring corals in order to attack them, which they will do in order to acquire more room to grow. Secondly, Acan Corals need medium, indirect water flow in order to both provide filter feeding opportunities and to remove waste products from the coral. This is best achieved through the use of a wave maker or through alternating powerheads that create laminar water flow within the aquarium. Lastly, Acan Corals need proper lighting in order to provide feeding opportunities via the zooxanthellae algae hosted within their body. The catch here is that unlike other corals that receive most of their nutrition this way, the Acan Coral only utilizes photosynthesis for a portion of their nutrition. This effectively means that they only need moderate lighting intensity and will bleach out or die if over exposed to intense lighting. It is for this reason that Acan Corals are best placed in the lower to middle areas of the average reef aquarium, where lighting levels are substantial but not as intense as the upper portions of the reef. Acan Corals receive a portion of their nutrition through photosynthesis from the zooxanthellae algae that they host within their body. However for long term health and faster growth they will need filter feeding opportunities. Well established larger reef aquariums will often have zooplankton present in the water column that the Acan Coral can filter and consume, or hobbyists can target feed them with foods designed for filter feeding invertebrates. Ideal target feeding foods include Cyclopeeze and MicroVert or ZooPlex from Kent Marine. Acans can be fed every other day for rapid growth, but typically only need to be fed twice a week for normal sustained growth. Target feeding is best performed by mixing the coral food in tank water in a separate container, then using a turkey baster or target feeding device to shoot the solution directly onto the coral. The Acan Coral will sense the food in the water around them and catch it with tentacles that they extend into the water column. Once the food is attached to the tentacle, it will be retracted back to the mouth of the coral and consumed. It is often suggested that Acan Corals be fed during nighttime hours; however, this is not necessary since acclimated Acan Corals will readily feed at any time of the day. Keep in mind that specimens that are newly added to the aquarium will often not eat for a few weeks, which is completely normal. Once they are fully acclimated and settled into their new environment they will begin feeding.
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Flowerpot Coral
(Goniopora sp.) Difficult Aggressive Medium Bottom to Middle Moderate Red, Purple, Pink, Tan, Green Calcium, Strontium, Magnesium, Trace Elements 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025 Indo-Pacific Poritidae LPS Hard Corals The Flowerpot Coral (Goniopora sp.) is a common name applied to a variety of Goniopora and Alveopora corals found throughout the Indo-Pacific. While there are many distinct species of Goniopora and Alveopora, this profile is intended to cover the basics that are common to all varieties. Goniopora is a species of large polyp stony (LPS) coral that forms branching colonies with polyps that always have 24 tentacles, with both the disc and tentacle tips having colors that range from purple, pink and red to tan and green. The Polyps are long and fleshy and the tentacles are normally extended both day and night. Alveopora are also a species of large polyp stony (LPS) coral that forms branching colonies with polyps that always have 12 tentacles instead of 24. Beyond simply a difference in appearance, Alveopora sp. species have been found to do better in the aquarium environment than Goniopora sp. species; however, both types should be considered advanced or expert level corals to keep. In addition to Alveopora sp. species being more hardy in the aquarium environment, hobbyists have also found that red and purple Flowerpot Corals do better than tan or green specimens. The exact reason for this is not currently known; however, the anecdotal evidence has been consistent amongst many reef hobbyists. It was thought for many years that Goniopora and Alveopora corals did poorly in the aquarium environment because of a lack of lighting intensity. However, modern high intensity lighting systems have had little to no effect on successfully keeping Flowerpot Corals. Hobbyists have since learned that the difficulty in keeping these corals is more in the unique combination of aquarium conditions that are required for long term growth and prosperity. More specifically the combination of water chemistry, water flow, lighting, filter feeding opportunities and direct targeted feedings. Flowerpot Corals need moderately intense lighting in order for the zooxanthellae they host to thrive; however, they do not need the high intensity of light provided in many modern reef aquariums. It is for this reason that most hobbyists with highly intense lighting place their Flowerpot Coral in a lower middle to bottom location on the reef. Water flow should be moderate in strength with varied, turbid or laminar flow, which is typically created by a wave box, alternating powerheads or by placing the coral in an area of the tank that receives varied water flow. Ideally the water flow should be sufficient to remove waste products generated by the coral, while still allowing the coral filter feeding opportunities from zooplankton and other foods present in the water column. Water chemistry is also crucial for the the Flowerpot Coral in order to ensure proper skeletal growth and development. Hobbyists should utilize quality reef salt and reef supplements in order to provide proper calcium levels, magnesium and trace elements, which are all crucial to calcium based hard coral skeletal structures. Lastly, Gonioporas will require regular targeted feedings of meaty foods like cyclopeeze or baby brine shrimp. Some very established reef aquariums with large refugiums may be able to provide enough water column filter feeding opportunities for Goniopora and Alveopora corals to thrive; however, most hobbyists will find that regular targeted feedings are necessary for the coral to survive and thrive within the aquarium environment. Reef building hard corals like the Flowerpot Coral require proper calcium carbonate levels in the aquarium in order to build their skeletal structures. They are made up of tiny animals with a tubular body and an oral gap fringed with tentacles. These tentacle polyps are equipped with nematocysts (poisonous cells used to sting prey), which they use to feed on small marine organisms ranging in size from zooplankton to very small fish. Much of the energy requirements of the coral are provided by photosynthetic organisms that live in its tissue, called zooxanthellae. Zooxanthellae supply the coral polyps with oxygen and food, and are responsible for the color of the corals In return, the corals provide a protected living area for the zooxanthellae. However, Flowerpot Corals also require additional feedings of larger meaty foods like cyclopeeze or baby brine shrimp. In most cases, target feeding of the Flowerpot Coral will be required to insure that they receive adequate nutrition. Since the Flowerpot Coral is slow to feed and often out competed by tank mates like shrimp and fish, many hobbyists use the cut top of a soda bottle to allow them to squirt the food onto the coral and keep it from floating away or being eaten by competitors.
Montipora Capricornis
(Montipora capricornis) Moderate Peaceful Strong Middle to Top Moderate to High Green, Purple, Pink, Orange, Tan Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements 72-79° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025 Indo-Pacific Acropoidae SPS Hard Corals Montipora Capricornis is a popular species of SPS coral that is often referred to as a plate coral or vase coral, due to their distinctive outward growth pattern that resembles a plate or vase like shape. When grown under the proper lighting, water flow and water chemistry conditions Montipora corals are considered to be fast growing. Hobbyists should carefully consider initial placement of the Montipora Capricornis in order to allow room for it to grow both outward and upwards. Many hobbyists use Montipora Corals to create horizontal ledges off of the main reef rock work, which creates a very pleasing aesthetic. Montipora Capricornis can exhibit a wide variety of coloration's; however, the most common color forms are green, orange, purple, pink and red. It is also worth noting that Montipora Capricornis can exist in a variety of shades of each of these colors and can have outside edges of the coral that are a different color from the the rest of the coral. Montipora Capricornis will do best in reef aquariums that have strong lighting and strong laminar water flow. Strong lighting via metal halides, high-end compact fluorescent or high-end LED lighting systems is required to provide enough photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) for the symbiotic zooxanthellae hosted within the coral to be able to produce adequate food for the coral. Strong laminar water flow will both remove waste products from the surface of the coral and provide supplemental filter feeding opportunities. When placing the coral hobbyists need to keep in mind the fast growth rate, outward or horizontal growth pattern and lighting requirements of the coral. Hobbyists with reef tanks that employ strong lighting will often place Montipora Capricornis near the bottom of the aquarium in order to give it room to grow up and out, while hobbyists with less lighting will need to place the coral closer to the surface to provide enough nutrition for the coral. A good way to determine if the coral is happy in it's current location is to look to see if the corals outer edge has a white hue to it. This means that your coral is growing, which is a good indicator that the coral is happy and growing. Propagation of the coral is handled like most other SPS corals and is considered to be relatively easy. Hobbyists need simply cut off a piece of the parent coral and attached to a frag plug or piece of rock rubble to anchor it while it grows out. Propagation of Montipora corals is particularly easy as one need simply grab an edge of the coral and snap a piece of it off. Once the piece is removed it can be glued onto another area of the live rock or a separate location for grow out. It is okay to have your coral out of the water for several minutes while the glue is applied and to let it dry before being placed back into the tank. Montipora corals utilize photosynthesis to produce the majority own their own nutrition from the available aquarium lighting. They also contain polyps that will extend into the water column in order to filter feed on small plankton like food drifting through the water. It is important that proper lighting and water flow is provided so that the Montipora capricornis can both produce food and remove waste products from the surface of the coral. While not required, supplemental feedings of foods designed for filter feeding invertebrates will increase the already fast growth rate of the coral.
Nuclear Death Palys
(Zoanthus gigantus) Easy Semi-aggressive Medium to Strong Middle to Top Moderate to High Purple, Green, White Magnesium, Iodine, Trace Elements 72-79° F; sg 1.023-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4; dKH 8-12 Indo-Pacific Zoanthidae Polyp Corals Nuclear Death Palythoas (Zoanthus gigantus) are a popular morph produced by combining Purple Death and Nuclear Green Palys. The strong demand amongst reef hobbyists for this color morph has fueled coral farmers to begin producing them in larger numbers, which is helping to increase their availability within the hobby. Hobbyists, collectors and vendors have found that the standard scientific naming convention lacked the detail necessary to describe many of the new zoa color morphs, thus the new generation of catchy named zoas was born. The distinctive features of this species include: its large polyp size, alternating green and purple striped skirt, purple ring with iridescent red coloration, green middle, purple lips and white mouth which all combine to define what is now grouped as the "Nuclear Death" color variant. Nuclear Death Palythoas are similar to other Palys in that they are relatively easy to care for and can be successfully housed in a variety of reef aquarium setups. They require medium to strong lighting and moderate to strong water flow in order to allow their symbiotic algae zooxanthellae to thrive and produce food for the coral. While most Nuclear Death Palythoas morphs acquire the majority of their nutrition from photosynthesis and do not require supplemental feeding; some individuals have acquired higher growth rates through supplemental feeding of very fine foods intended for filter feeding invertebrates. The addition of reef additives like: calcium, strontium, iodine and trace elements along with occasional feedings of micro-plankton and similar foodstuffs should allow for the best possible growth rate. Nuclear Death Palythoas kept under proper aquarium conditions will spread or colonize nearby rocks and hard surfaces. In order to keep them separated from other coral species the hobbyist should provide gaps between the rock aqua-scaping, in order to create a boundary to limit the carpeting or horizontal growth of the Polyps. Proper placement is important when keeping Polyps with other corals, as Polyps will crowd out other corals by stinging them repeatedly as they grown in and around them. Hobbyists are recommended to start their Nuclear Death Palythoas in a lower position on the reef and move them up the reef after they have had a chance to acclimate to the aquarium. Nuclear Death Palythoas receive the vast majority of their nutrition through the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae contained within the coral. They receive other nutrients from dissolved minerals that they filter from the water currents. They will also benefit from the addition of reef supplements containing calcium, magnesium, iodine and trace elements. They can also be periodically offered meaty foods like micro-plankton, baby brine shrimp and other similar fare.
Fire and Ice Zoanthids
(Zoanthus sp.) Easy Semi-aggressive Medium to Strong Bottom to Middle Moderate to High Blue, Red Magnesium, Iodine, Trace Elements 72-76° F; sg 1.023-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4; dKH 8-12 Indo-Pacific Zoanthidae Polyp Corals Fire and Ice Zoas (Zoanthus sp.) are a beautiful species of Zoanthid that are sought after for their brilliant steel blue and red coloration. Aqua-cultered Fire and Ice Zoas tend to do best in the aquarium environment, as many wild caught specimens are from deeper locations on the reef. The environment of deep reef species is often difficult to completely reproduce in the aquarium environment. In the case of Fire and Ice Zoas many hobbyists have had good success by placing them lower in the aquarium in a location that receives strong but filtered lighting. Fire and Ice Zoas also tend to do better when kept at more moderate water temperatures ranging from 72° to 76° F. These conditions are recommended as a good starting point when first introducing this species to the reef aquarium. Given time and gradual adjustments, hobbyists should be able to identify the ideal location in which to keep Fire and Ice Zoas in their reef aquarium. Fire and Ice Zoanthids (like most zoas) should be introduced in the aquarium in a lower position on the reef and then gradually moved up towards the light source. This is done to ensure that they do not experience photo-shock, which can occur when zoas grown under one set of conditions are then immediately introduced to an aquarium with very different conditions. Fire and Ice Zoas are similar to other Colony Polyps in that they are relatively easy to care for and can be successfully housed in a variety of reef aquarium setups. They require medium to strong lighting and moderate to strong water flow in order to allow their symbiotic algae zooxanthellae to thrive and produce food for the coral. While Fire and Ice Zoanthids acquire the majority of their nutrition from photosynthesis, many individuals have acquired higher growth rates through supplemental feeding of very fine foods intended for filter feeding invertebrates. Fire and Ice Colony Polyps will continue to spread or colonize nearby rocks, they can be separated from other coral species by providing gaps between the rock aqua-scaping, in order to create a boundary to limit the carpeting or horizontal growth of the Polyps. Proper placement is important when keeping Polyps with other corals, as Polyps will crowd out other corals by stinging them repeatedly as they grown in and around them. Fire and Ice Zoas receive the vast majority of their nutrition through the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae contained within the coral. They receive other nutrients from dissolved minerals that they filter from the water currents. They will also benefit from the addition of reef supplements containing calcium, magnesium, iodine and trace elements. They can also be periodically offered meaty foods like micro-plankton, baby brine shrimp and other similar items. Well established reef aquariums with populations of phyto-plankton work best for all varieties of filter feeders, as they are able to supplement their diet with foods filtered from the water column. The addition of reef additives like: calcium, strontium, iodine and trace elements along with occasional feedings of micro-plankton and similar foodstuffs should allow for the best possible growth rate.
Purple People Eaters Colony Polyp
(Zoanthus gigantus) Easy Semi-aggressive Medium to Strong Middle to Top Moderate to High Purple, Green Magnesium, Iodine, Trace Elements 72-78&deg F; sg 1.023-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4; dKH 8-12 Indo-Pacific Zoanthidae Polyp Corals Purple People Eaters Colony Polyp (Zoanthus gigantus) are a popular morph of the "PE" palythoa/zoa line of colony polyps. Purple People Eater (PPE) zoas were one of the first zoa morphs to receive a colorful common name that has since spawned a naming fad amongst the various Zoanthid color morphs. Hobbyists, collectors and vendors have found that the standard scientific naming convention lacked the detail necessary to describe many of the new zoa color morphs, thus the new generation of catchy named zoas was born. The distinctive features of this species including: its size, neon green skirts, deep purple colored plate and its distinctive neon green mouth how helped define what is now grouped as the "People Eaters" feature. The brilliant purple coloration of this giant polyp palythoa/zoa commands attention in even the most elaborate reef aquarium, thus it is often sought after by zoa collectors and reef enthusiasts alike. Purple People Eaters are similar to other Colony Polyps in that they are relatively easy to care for and can be successfully housed in a variety of reef aquarium setups. They require medium to strong lighting and moderate to strong water flow in order to allow their symbiotic algae zooxanthellae to thrive and produce food for the coral. While most People Eater Zoanthid morphs acquire the majority of their nutrition from photosynthesis and do not require supplemental feeding. Some individuals have acquired higher growth rates through supplemental feeding of very fine foods intended for filter feeding invertebrates. The addition of reef additives like: calcium, strontium, iodine and trace elements along with occasional feedings of micro-plankton and similar foodstuffs should allow for the best possible growth rate. Purple People Eaters Zoanthids kept under proper aquarium conditions will spread or colonize nearby rocks and hard surfaces. In order to keep them separated from other coral species the hobbyist should provide gaps between the rock aqua-scaping, in order to create a boundary to limit the carpeting or horizontal growth of the Polyps. Proper placement is important when keeping Polyps with other corals, as Polyps will crowd out other corals by stinging them repeatedly as they grown in and around them. Hobbyists are recommended to start their PPE Zoas in a lower position on the reef and move them up the reef after they have had a chance to acclimate to the aquarium. Purple People Eaters Colony Polyps receive the vast majority of their nutrition through the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae contained within the coral. They receive other nutrients from dissolved minerals that they filter from the water currents. They will also benefit from the addition of reef supplements containing calcium, magnesium, iodine and trace elements. They can also be periodically offered meaty foods like micro-plankton, baby brine shrimp and other similar fare.
Malu Anemone
(Heteractis malu) Difficult Aggressive 24" Carnivore Substrate 30 gallons Yes, with caution 72-79° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.024-1.026 Calcium, Magnesium, Strontium, Iodine, Trace Elements Green, Blue, Pink, Red, Tan Fiji, Indonesia, Indo-Pacific Stichodactylidae Anemones The Malu Anemone (Heteractis malu) is a less common species of Sebae Anemone that is known for its brilliant coloration and short plump tentacles. Healthy specimens will vary in color from tan, green and blue to pink and red coloration. Healthy specimens will readily accept chopped marine based meaty foods, will have mouths that are closed, will be very sticky to the touch and will generally located themselves in the aquarium where they receive strong lighting and moderate water flow. Signs that the Malu Anemone is unhappy or unhealthy include a white or bleached out appearance, avoidance of light, a gaping open mouth, lack of stickiness or a consistent shriveled or closed up appearance. Despite rather strict water quality and lighting requirements, Malu Anemones can thrive in established aquariums with proper lighting and water flow conditions. Overall this species is best suited for advanced hobbyists or intermediate hobbyists with well established aquarium systems. Malu Anemones (Heteractis malu) are fairly demanding both in aquarium conditions and in suitable fish and coral tank mates. They require intense aquarium lighting in order for their hosted zooxanthellae to produce food for the anemone, and they require plenty of indirect water flow in order to remove waste products from the anemone. A healthy Heteractis malu anemone will have a pink, blue or tan coloration; as well as, sticky, plump tentacles. They will turn white in color or exhibit a bleached out appearance when they are lacking proper nutrition or lighting. While they can recover via proper feedings and adequate lighting, their somewhat delicate nature makes this difficult. Malu Anemones do best when housed in established aquariums with stable water conditions and quality intense lighting, and should generally only be kept by advanced or expert hobbyists. Once acclimated in an established aquarium with intense lighting and plenty of laminar water flow, Malu Anemones can be very hardy and long lived. The aggressive nature and large size of adult Malue Anemones can make them difficult to keep in aquarium that are not large enough to provide adequate space between the Malu Anemone and other anemones or corals. At an adult size of approximately 2 feet in diameter and requiring about 12 inches of space between itself and other anemones or corals, a larger aquarium is often required to properly housing them depending on their tank mates. However, if not housed with other anemones or corals, Malu Anemones can be kept in aquariums as small as 24 to 30 gallons. Malu Anemones will host a variety of clownfish species including: Sebae Clowns, Tomato Clownfish, Maroon Clownfish, Percula Clownfish, Ocellaris Clownfish and other species as well. Healthy Malu Anemones have very sticky tentacles that pack a potent sting, which they use to kill small fish and invertebrate species and to defend themselves against neighboring anemones and corals. Care should be taken when keeping this anemone species in small aquariums with fish other than Clownfish and other anemones. In large reef aquariums they can coexist with other fish and coral species if they have room to establish themselves away from other anemones and corals. The Malu Anemone receives nutrition from both the zooxanthellae that it hosts and from meaty foods that it captures with its tentacles. Hobbyists will need to house Malu Anemones under intense lighting consisting of either metal halide lighting or high-end compact fluorescent or LED lighting systems. In addition to the food the hosted zooxanthellae produce for the Anemone, they will also need to be fed pieces of meaty marine foods like chopped fish, shrimp, clams, mussel or other similar marine based meaty foods.
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Daum's Reef Lobster
(Enoplometopus daumi) Easy Peaceful 4" Carnivore Substrate & rocks 12 gallons Yes, With caution 72-79° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025 Calcium, Magnesium, Strontium, Iodine, Trace Elements Red, Pink, Purple Indo-Pacific Enoplometopidae Lobsters Daum's Reef Lobster (Enoplometopus daumi) is brightly colored reef lobster with a unique pattern of white spots over a pink, red and purple body. Its brilliant appearance and ability to scavenge excess foodstuffs from the substrate and live rock make it a popular species with marine hobbyists keeping both reef and FOWLR aquariums. The Daum Reef Lobster is a relatively small with a maximum length of 4 inches, with a generally peaceful disposition. Their small size and peaceful temperament make them well suited for reef aquariums that may house smaller fish species and contain a variety of cleaner inverts. However, it should be noted that like all scavengers the Daum's Reef Lobster will prey on other tank mates if they are unable to scavenge enough food to survive. The more peaceful reef lobsters can be distinguished from their larger clawed lobster cousins by the fact that they have full chelae (claws) only on the first pair of pereiopods, the second and third pairs being only subchelate. Clawed lobsters have full claws on the first three pereiopods. Reef lobsters need to be provided plenty of rocky caves and crevices in which they can escape the bright aquarium lighting and to provide them a place to retreat to when they feel threatened. An ideal aquarium environment should have a thick substrate bed to allow the reef lobster to burrow, along with live rock for hiding and in which to hunt. After molting, the Daum's Reef Lobster will need a secure hiding place, such as its burrowed cave, while it waits for its new exoskeleton to harden. The Daum's Reef Lobster is peaceful and will ignore sleeping healthy fish within the aquarium. Caution must be taken when incorporating into a reef aquarium, as it may harm extremely small fish or invertebrates. All Reef Lobsters are very territorial and aggressive towards each other, so only one specimen, or a mated pair should be kept in aquariums of 5 feet in length or less. Hobbyists with larger aquariums that are 6 to 8 feet in length or larger can successfully keep multiple reef lobsters assuming they also have plenty of live rock to create multiple territories within the tank. Like most invertebrates Daum's Reef Lobster is sensitive to high levels of copper in the water from copper-based medications. While Daum's Reef Lobsters prefer to scavenge and hunt for food at night, they will overtime adjust to aquarium life and come out more during lights on hours and during feeding times. Most of their diet will consist of food it scavenges, but supplementing with iodine-rich foods will help ensure proper molting. Proper calcium & iodine levels in the water will aid this species with proper molting and exoskeleton development. Supplemental feeding via sinking shrimp pellets or similar meaty items will ensure that the lobster is well fed and lesson the chance that they will prey on smaller snails, ornamental shrimp or small fish species.
Voigtmann's Reef Lobster
(Enoplometopus voigtmanni) Easy Peaceful 4" Omnivore Substrate 12 gallons Yes 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025 Calcium, Magnesium, Iodine, Trace Elements Red, Orange, White Indo-Pacific, Caribbean, Tropical Atlantic Ocean Enoplometopidae Lobsters Voigtmann's Reef Lobster (Enoplometopus voigtmanni) is brightly colored reef lobster with a unique pattern of stripes, spots and rings. It brilliant appearance and ability to scavenge excess foodstuffs from the substrate and live rock make it a popular species with marine hobbyists keeping both reef and FOWLR aquariums. Voigtmann's Reef Lobster is a relatively small with a maximum length of 4 inches, with a generally peaceful disposition. Their small size and peaceful temperament make them well suited for reef aquariums that may house smaller fish species and contain a variety of cleaner inverts. However, it should be noted that like all scavengers the Voigtmann's Reef Lobster will prey on other tank mates if they are unable to scavenge enough food to survive. The more peaceful reef lobsters can be distinguished from their larger clawed lobster cousins by the fact that they have full chelae (claws) only on the first pair of pereiopods, the second and third pairs being only subchelate. Clawed lobsters have full claws on the first three pereiopods. Reef lobsters need to be provided plenty of rocky caves and crevices in which they can escape the bright aquarium lighting and to provide them a place to retreat to when they feel threatened. An ideal aquarium environment should have a thick substrate bed to allow the reef lobster to burrow, along with live rock for hiding and in which to hunt. After molting, the Voigtmann's Reef Lobster will need a secure hiding place, such as its burrowed cave, while it waits for its new exoskeleton to harden. The Voigtmann's Reef Lobster is peaceful and will ignore sleeping healthy fish within the aquarium. Caution must be taken when incorporating into a reef aquarium, as it may harm extremely small fish or invertebrates. All Reef Lobsters are very territorial and aggressive towards each other, so only one specimen, or a mated pair should be kept in aquariums of 5 feet in length or less. Hobbyists with larger aquariums that are 6 to 8 feet in length or larger can successfully keep multiple reef lobsters assuming they also have plenty of live rock to create multiple territories within the tank. Like most Invertebrates Voigtmann's Reef Lobster (Enoplometopus voigtmanni) is sensitive to high levels of copper in the water from copper-based medications. While Voigtmann's Reef Lobsters prefer to scavenge and hunt for food at night, they will overtime adjust to aquarium life and come out more during lights on hours and during feeding times. Most of their diet will consist of food it scavenges, but supplementing with iodine-rich foods will help ensure proper molting. Proper calcium & iodine levels in the water will aid this species with proper molting and exoskeleton development. Supplemental feeding via sinking shrimp pellets or similar meaty items will ensure that the lobster is well fed and lesson the chance that they will prey on smaller snails, ornamental shrimp or small fish species.
Sand Sifting Sea Star
(Astropecten polyacanthus) Easy Peaceful 10" Omnivore Bottom 75 gallons Yes 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025 Iodine, Trace Elements Tan, Brown Fiji, Soloman Islands, Pacific Astropectinidae Starfish The Sand Sifting Sea Star (Astropecten polycanthus) is a highly sought after sand sifter for hobbyists with well established reef aquariums or community FOWLR aquariums. Sand Sifting Sea Stars are excellent at keeping a deep sand bed turned over so that anaerobic bacteria and pockets of toxic gases do not form in the sand bed. However, they are fairly voracious eaters that often wipe out the food sources that they prey on when housed in aquariums that are too small or not well established. Hobbyists who utilize refugiums with their aquarium, have larger aquariums (greater than 75 gallons) or who have well established aquariums will be better able to house Sand Sifting Sea Stars as their system will support higher levels of the critters that Sand Sifting Sea Stars feed on. In addition to a plentiful food source, Sand Sifting Sea Stars need stable water parameters including: salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature and nutrient levels. Hobbyists looking to keep Sand Sifting Sea Stars need to have a deep sand bed in the aquarium both to provide cover / habitat and to provide plenty of habitat for the small organisms that the Sea Star preys on. The beneficial nature of the Sea Star occurs as its moves through the sand bed in search of food, which serves to loosen debris from the sand where it can be either consumed by other organisms or removed from the aquarium via the mechanical filtration. Sand sifting also servers to release pockets of gas that can build up in an aquarium with a deep sand bed. Most hobbyists under estimate the effectiveness of the Sand Sifting Sea Star in its ability to clean the aquarium of small worms, detritus and small crustaceans. This often leads to aquariums that are over stocked on Sea Stars or Starfish being added to aquariums that are too small to support them. Tank mates should consist of peaceful community fish species, corals and other peaceful to semi-aggressive invertebrates. Natural predators to Starfish like Sharks, Pufferfish and Triggers should not be housed with the Sand Sifting Sea Star. Sand Sifting Sea Stars (Astropecten polycanthus) feed on small organisms like worms, copepods, amphipods and other small crustaceans found living within the sand bed of an established aquarium. It is extremely important that aquariums housing Sand Sifting Sea Stars have a deep sand bed of 3 inches or more and be well established. In a well established reef aquarium, hobbyists can expect to successfully keep one Sand Sifting Sea Star per 75 gallons or so. This should provide enough food for the Starfish to survive and the creatures that it feeds on to flourish in numbers large enough to support both their colony and the Sand Sifting Starfish feeding on them.
Long Tentacle Purple Anemone
(Macrodactyla doreensis) Moderate Semi-aggressive 14" Carnivore Bottom 30 gallons Yes 72-79° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025 Iodine, Trace elements Purple, White, Tan Indo-Pacific, Western Pacific Actiniidae Anemones The Long Tentacle Purple Anemone is often found within the aquarium hobby under a variety of names including: Long Tentacle Anemone, Corkscrew Anemone, Red Base Anemone and Sand Anemone. In the wild Macrodactyla doreensis is found living in shallow reefs and lagoons, where it buries it's foot into the sandy substrate near rocky formations. By burying it's body into the sand and rubble, the Long Tentacle Purple Anemone leaves only it's tentacles exposed. The long tentacles of the Long Tentacle Purple Anemone are used to sting potential prey and to ward off predatory fish and invertebrates. Burying itself in the sand and exposing only the tentacles allows the anemone to feed on meaty items in the water column, while protecting it's vulnerable body from predators. While the Long Tentacle Purple Anemone will sting most fish or inverts that touch it's tentacles, it will host some species of clownfish like the Amphiprion perideraion, Amphiprion sandaracinos, Amphiprion clarkii, Amphiprion melanopus and similar clownfish species. Long Tentacle Purple Anemone's do best in established reef aquariums or FOWLR aquariums that are larger than 30 gallons and have substantial amounts of live rock and sand. Before placing the Long Tentacle Purple Anemone into the aquarium it is important to remove it from it's shipping container and place it into a container with clean salt water for about 20 to 30 minutes. This will a to allow it to purge mucous built up during transport, so that these toxic chemicals are not introduced into the aquarium environment. Long Tentacle Purple Anemones do best in well established aquariums that have a deep sand bed and plenty of live rock. They will look for a location that has both moderate lighting and water flow to bury their foot into the sand at the base of some live rock. The anemone is looking for a location that will allow them to receive adequate lighting to stimulate the zooxanthellae algae that they host; as well as, allow them filter feeding opportunities from foods floating in the water column during feedings. Corals and sessile invertebrates should not be placed within reach of the Long Tentacle Purple Anemone's tentacles as they will sting and damage anything them come in contact with. Fish and mobile invertebrates will generally avoid the stinging cells (nematocysts) of the anemone, but it is possible for them to become prey for the anemone if they are stung and incapacitated. Should the anemone become highly stressed or damaged from being sucked into a filter return or from being damaged by an aggressive fish species, it should be placed into a quarantine aquarium so that the toxic chemicals that it can release to not foul the main aquarium water. While the anemone is recovering in the quarantine aquarium the water should be partially changed daily to avoid toxins from building up in the water. A healthy anemone will open it's tentacles out and will not appear to be stringy or have stringy looking flesh coming off of itself. Having a clownfish hosting with the anemone in the aquarium will help prevent it from being disturbed by other fish or invertebrate species. The Long Tentacle Purple Anemone receives the bulk of it's nutrition through the photosynthetic symbiotic algae zooxanthellae that is hosted on it's body. It also receives a substantial amount of food from meaty items that it filters from the water column using it's tentacles. This filter feeding occurs multiple times per hour, during which time the anemone will open very wide to capture plankton, brine shrimp, mysis shrimp or other meaty items from the water column. Clownfish hosting with the anemone will bring meaty food items back to the anemone as well, and provide them an alternate food source. The anemone should be offered meaty foods multiple times a week via a pipette feeder or via water currents bringing food items to the anemone during normal aquarium feedings. Brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, chopped fish, mussels or other similar meaty items are ideal meaty foods for supplemental feedings.
Yellow Sea Cucumber
(Colochirus robustus) Expert Peaceful 3" Omnivore (filter feeder) Substrate & Rocks 55 gallons Yes 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, sg 1.020-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4 None Yellow Indian Ocean, Western Pacific Cucumariidae Cucumbers The Yellow Sea Cucumber originates from the Indian Ocean and is a highly sought after specie in the aquarium trade for its bright coloration and unique appearance. Yellow Sea Cucumbers are a bright yellow color and have an elongated body with branch-like projections near its mouth. When feeding, the Yellow Sea Cucumber extends their branched feeding arms into the current to catch prey floating in the currents. Yellow Sea Cucumbers make very attractive filter feeders for an established reef aquarium. If kept in small groups, the Yellow Sea Cucumber may spawn in the home aquarium. They may also reproduce by dividing into 2 individuals; however, this may come about due to stress, or may be a sign of good health. The Yellow Sea Cucumber requires live rock to provide the nutrients it needs to sustain its health. It will usually find a location with moderate to strong current in which it can filter-feed plankton any other organisms from the water current. If attacked or injured, the Yellow Sea Cucumber may release mild toxins, but due to its small size, will not pose a threat in the average sized aquarium. The Yellow Sea Cucumber is very sensitive to copper-based medications and it will not tolerate high nitrate levels. The diet of a Yellow Sea Cucumber should include liquid or dried phytoplankton and zoo-plankton. They will also benefit from the substrate being stirred regularly releasing bacteria and detritus into the water. When malnourished, they will shrink in size, and may loose feeding arms; therefore, if these signs are noticed, increase the number of feedings, and target the cucumber with the appropriate food. Caution! Yellow Sea Cucumbers have the ability to releases toxins (venom) that may kill fish in the aquarium when they are severely stressed or damaged by pump intakes or overflows. Do not keep any Yellow Sea Cucumbers with any species of fish that may pick on on the tentacles. These fish include; Butterflyfish, Large Angels, and any species that is listed not safe with invertebrates.
Yellow Banded Coral Shrimp
(Stenopus scutellatus) Easy Peaceful 2" Carnivore Substrate & Rocks 12 gallons Yes 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, sg 1.020-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4 None Red, White, Yellow Caribbean Stenopodidae Shrimp The Yellow Banded Coral Shrimp or also commonly referred to as the Caribbean Boxing Shrimp, has a yellow body and legs, while the chelae and abdomen have red and sometimes white and red bands. This species is a member of the Stenopodidae or "Boxing Shrimp" because of the large pinchers on their third set of legs. They often hold these pinchers erect, giving the appearance of a boxer ready to fight when they feel threatened or are trying to intimidate a rival. Yellow Banded Coral Shrimp are not only attractive in appearance, but are also provide many useful services. Within a community fish aquarium, Yellow Banded Coral Shrimp will remove parasites and dead skin from many fish species, while in the reef aquarium environment they are very efficient at hunting down and eating Bristol worms. Be sure to keep this species singularly and to use caution when keeping them with other less boisterous shrimp species. The Yellow Banded Coral Shrimp needs adequate room in which to move about the aquarium without its long antennae touching neighboring corals or anemones. It is also recommended to provide a good amount of live rock for the Yellow Banded Coral Shrimp to graze for foodstuffs and provide it with caves and crevices when threatened. The Yellow Banded Coral Shrimp must be kept singly, or as a true-mated pair, as it is intolerant of others of the same species. Yellow Banded Coral Shrimp are known to harass other smaller shrimp of different species; such as, peppermint or camel shrimps. It is very hardy species, but must be acclimated slowly to avoid any salinity and/or pH shock and is intolerant of high nitrates or copper levels. It is important to maintain proper iodine levels in the water to allow for proper molting. Yellow Banded Coral Shrimp make interesting and beneficial additions to either reef or peaceful community aquariums. In the wild, the Yellow Banded Coral Shrimp feeds on parasites, dead tissue removed from fish, and other tiny organisms. In the aquarium environment, it will accept most meaty flake and frozen foods, plankton, and other meaty items. Banded Coral Shrimp are also effective bristle worm hunters in the reef aquarium, helping to keep the population of these pests under control.
Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae
(Caulerpa taxifolia) Moderate Moderate to High gallons Any Varies 58-89° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.021-1.025 Pruning Green Trace elements, magnesium, iron Native to Indian Ocean, Established in Mediterranean Sea, Southern California Caulerpaceae Macro Algae Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae is an extremely hardy species of macro algae capable of growing very rapidly and in a wide range of aquatic environments. This species is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures ranging from 58° F to almost 90° F; as well as, being able to grow on a wide variety of surfaces including: rock, sand, coral structures and even entwined with other plants. Native to the Indian Ocean, Caulerpa Taxifolia has since taken root in both the Mediterranean Sea and portions of the Pacific ocean off the coast of Southern California through accidental introduction via commercial fishing nets and from aquarium hobbyists discarding it into coastal waters. The rapid growth of Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae is what makes it both highly desirable to aquarium hobbyists for nutrient export, but also what makes it an invasive species that can take over a native natural habitat. In nature Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae will often spread rapidly and crowd out and replace native algae and sea grasses. Additionally, it is highly toxic to the herbivores who feed on the native algae that it replaces, which allows it to grow unchecked and out of control. Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae is very hardy species that is extremely easy to care for in an aquarium or sump environment. Most hobbyists keep this species in sumps or vegetable filters in order to keep nitrates low and the resulting nuisance algae out of their main display aquarium. Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae can grow rapidly under the correct conditions and then pruned, with the pruned plants being removed from the aquarium and discarded. This takes all of the nitrate and phosphate that the plants consumed and removes them from the aquarium environment. Despite being an attractive looking plant, this is not generally considered to be a good plant to introduce into the display aquarium, as it will quickly grow over the rock work, sand and any corals, choking out competing plants and corals and turning the aquarium into a jungle of macro algae. Unlike some of the other plants and macro algae commonly grown in home aquariums and sumps, Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae is highly toxic to herbivore fish species who would normally consume many other forms of macro algae or seaweed. It is due to this reason that both California and Federal laws have been enacted to prevent the importation, interstate sale (including Internet sale), and transport of Caulerpa taxifolia. However, it can still be found within the hobby as it is so easy to grow and keep and many hobbyists still use it as an effective form of nutrient / nuisance algae control. However, as a form of nutrient export, Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae is highly efficient and very effective. Hobbyists who keep this species under control and in external sumps are rewarded with an excellent form of nutrient export on par with or even more effective than Chaetomorpha algae or algae scrubbing solutions. Hobbyists need only provide a strong light source of 5000 - 8000 Kelvin lighting, water flow and a source of nitrate in order to grow Caulerpa Taxifolia Algae. Once basic lighting and nutrient needs are met, this species reproduces vegetatively, with growth of up to 1 cm per day, and can form new stems and fronds from mere segments of itself.
Ulva Lettuce Algae
(Ulva sp.) Moderate Moderate to High gallons Any 12" 64-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025 Pruning Green Trace elements, magnesium, iron Found globally Ulvaceae Sea Lettuce Ulva Lettuce Algae (Ulva sp.) is a popular macro algae amongst marine aquarium hobbyists both for its filtration capabilities and as a supplemental food source for herbivorous fish species. Ulva Lettuce Algae is typically sold in free floating clumps that can be placed in a refugium or sump compartment. It is important to place the Ulva Lettuce Algae in a location with high water flow as this will allow the macro algae to filter a greater amount of nitrate and phosphate from the aquarium. This will increase both its filtration capabilities and will cause it to grow faster so that plant matter fed to fish can be quickly replaced. Since the Ulva Lettuce Algae requires high water flow and is free floating, it should ideally be located in a sump compartment that is part of the main aquarium filter system. Add on refugiums typically do not have enough water flow to provide enough nutrients for the Ulva Lettuce Algae to go rapidly and thrive. Sump based refugiums that are in-line with the main filtration pump are more ideally suited as the entire water volume of the aquarium passes through the sump multiple times per hour. Once the macro algae has utilized the nitrates and phosphates in the aquarium water for its growth, it can then be fed to fish or pruned and removed from the aquarium. This process is called nutrient export, since the nutrients are completely removed from the water column. Hobbyists looking to grow Ulva Lettuce Algae for a supplemental food source for their fish will want to place the plant in a well lit sump or refugium with a moderate amount of water flow. The plant can be easily pruned and placed into the display tank for fish to feed on. Ulva Lettuce Algae is a highly sought after form or macro-algae that most herbivore fish species will readily consume, which along with its high nutritional value make it an excellent supplemental food source.
Red Grape Kelp
(Botryocladia sp.) Moderate Moderate to High gallons Any 10" 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025 Pruning Red, Purple, Pink Calcium Indo-Pacific Grateloupiaceae Grateloupiaceae Red Grape Kelp (Botryocladia sp.) is found in slightly varying forms throughout the worlds marine environments. Botryocladia spp. has an appearance similar to forms of Grape Caulerpa only red in color instead of green. The plant does very well in the marine aquarium environment and can be kept in the main aquarium, sump or refugium. The Red Grape species of Kelp requires moderate to high lighting along with moderate water flow and nutrient levels. Many hobbyists utilize this plant as a form of nutrient export, the plant is grown in a sump or refugium where is removes nutrients from the water column then is fed to herbivorous fish species who consume the plant. If keeping Red Grape Kelp in the aquarium as an ornamental plant, it cannot be kept with herbivorous fish as they will eagerly consume the plant. Red Grape Kelp generally grows less than a 12 inches tall before it begins to grow outwards using its creeping vines to attach to nearby rocks. It will grow more rapidly in aquariums or sumps with strong lighting and moderate nutrient levels on which the plant can feed. Overall Botryocladia spp. makes and excellent plant for filtration purposes as it consumes nutrients rapidly, is easy to prune and makes an excellent food source for many fish species. Red Grape Kelp is a very attractive plant that can be used as an ornamental plant in aquariums that do not contain fish species that will consume it. However, its rapid growth and creeping vines might make it unsuitable for many reef aquariums as it can grown in and on corals and filtration equipment. Hobbyists looking to grow Red Grape Kelp for a supplemental food source for their fish will want to place the plant in a well lit sump or refugium with a moderate amount of water flow. The plant can be easily pruned and placed into the display tank for fish to feed on. Botryocladia spp. is a highly sought after form or macro-algae that most herbivore fish species will readily consume, which along with its high nutritional value make it an excellent supplemental food source.
Mermaid Fan Plant
(Udotea sp.) Easy Moderate gallons Bottom 8" 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025 Division Green Calcium, Trace Elements, Iron Caribbean, Western Atlantic Halimedaceae Udotea The Mermaid Fan Plant (Udotea sp.) is a calcareous algae species found throughout the Caribbean growing both in sand flats and near rocky structures. The plant is found growing both in the sandy ocean substrate and attached to live rock or coral structures. They build themselves out into a fan like pattern through deposits of calcium carbonate that is found in their tissues. The tissue of the Mermaid Fan Plant stores calcium that it uses for energy as it grows. Thus it is important to provide calcium supplementation to the aquarium in order to ensure the proper health of the plant and other organisms like Corals and Invertebrates that depend on calcium in order to grow. Being that the Mermaid Fan Plant is made up of calcareous deposits, most fish will not see this as a source of food and will leave the plant alone. Overall the Mermaid Fan Plant is a very hardy plant species that is well suited for both the display aquarium or sumps, within reef or FOWLR aquarium setups. Mermaid Fan Plants are a hardy species that is found widely distributed throughout the Caribbean, tropical coastal Atlantic and areas off the coast of Central America. They require plenty of direct lighting and calcium supplementation in order to grow and thrive. Due to the calcareous make up of the plants tissue, most fish will not attempt to eat or pick at this plant which makes them more suitable for FOWLR aquariums than most plant species. The Mermaid Fan Plant also works well as a supplemental filtration source by removing both nitrate and phosphate from the water column. It is difficult to prune this species without causing damage to the plant due to the layered composition of the plants body. Care should be taken if pruning is attempted. Mermaid Fan Plants are excellent consumers of excess nutrients including nitrates and phosphates. In addition to feeding on these nutrients, they require moderate to strong lighting and calcium supplementation. If placed in the substrate of the main aquarium, be sure to place this plant somewhere where it can obtain plenty of light and moderate water flow. Plants placed in sumps tend to be placed much closer to the light source, thus do not need as intense lighting in order to thrive.
Shaving Brush Plant
(Penicillus sp.) Easy Moderate gallons Substrate 12" 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025 Division Green Trace elements, iron Global tropics Bombacaceae Macroalgae The Shaving Brush Plant (Penicillus sp.) is a popular plant species amongst marine aquarium hobbyists both for its hardy nature and filtration capabilities. Named for its unique shape that looks similar to a brush used for applying shaving cream, the Shaving Brush Plant has proven itself to be useful in both refugiums and within the display aquarium. Shaving Brush Plants should be planted in the sand bed of the aquarium or refugium and provided with both moderate lighting and water flow. The tubular stalk and long thin leaves give the plant the appearance of a plant as opposed to many other forms of macro algae that grow in clumps or long strands. Unlike many species of marine plants that quickly become fish food if placed within the display aquarium, the Shaving Brush Plant is not often consumed by fish or other tank inhabitants. Hobbyists should ensure that the plants remain rooted in the sand bed and are placed where they can receive both moderate water flow and lighting. While the plants are adept at removing nitrates and phosphates from the water column for food, they should also be provided supplemental iron and trace elements in order to maintain good growth. The Shaving Brush Plant also makes an excellent addition to vegetable sump filters and refugiums, where it will work towards removing excess nutrients from the aquarium water. Marine aquarium hobbyists have found the Shaving Brush Plant to be both an excellent chemical filtration tool and an attractive aquarium decoration. Whether used in the display aquarium or refugium, Shaving Brush Plants are excellent at removing excess nutrients from the aquarium. Unlike many other forms of macro algae, this species both looks attractive when rooted in the aquarium substrate and will not be eaten by the vast majority of aquarium inhabitants. Moderate to high lighting should be provided, along with plenty of indirect water flow. The addition of trace elements via water changes and iron supplementation should be provided for good long term health. Overall this is an excellent plant species for all levels of marine aquarium hobbyists and for both FOWLR and reef aquarium environments. Shaving Brush Plants grow in sandy shallow water fields in the wild. In nature they utilize both sunlight and nutrients found in the water for food and depend on water currents to remove waste products away from the plant. Hobbyists should be sure that they provide plenty of high intensity lighting and at least moderate water flow in order to provide proper care for this species. For the best care, plant them in aquarium or refugium substrate in an area that is well illuminated and receives plenty of laminar or varied water flow.
Maidens Hair Plant
(Chlorodesmis sp.) Expert Strong gallons Any 8" 72-81° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025 Fragmentation, Sporulation Green Trace Elements, Iron Tropics Codiaceae Chlorodesmis Maiden's Hair (Chlorodesmis sp.) is a form of green filamentous macroalgae that grows in thick clumps that resemble grass or turf. It's bright green coloration and grass like appearance has made the Maiden's Hair Plant a popular addition to many marine reef and FOWLR aquariums; as well as, sumps and refugiums. The plant contains a substance in it that is toxic to fish, which keeps herbivorous fish species from consuming it. This allows the Maiden's Hair Plant to be placed into aquariums where many marine plants would be quickly consumed. The Maiden's Hair Plant also makes excellent habitat for small beneficial crustaceans like copepods and amphipods, who use the dense plant to retreat from fish and larger invertebrates who would prey on them. The Maiden's Hair Plant requires an aquarium environment with low nitrate and no dissolved copper, plenty of water flow and strong lighting. It's growth rate under ideal conditions is considered moderate. It will grow outward onto nearby rocks, corals or sessile invertebrates. Maiden's Hair generally only grows to about 8 inches in height, preferring to spread horizontally along the reef through fragmentation and sporulation. The plants need a firm surface like a rock or coral skeleton on which to attach itself. Spacing rocks containing Maiden's Hair away from other rocks by leaving an area of open sand can control the growth of the macroalgae in aquariums where excellent growth conditions are causing the plant to grow too rapidly. Maiden's Hair can be pruned by simply removing clumps of the plant from the rock on which it is attached and disposing the excess plant material. In order for Maiden's hair to prosper either in the aquarium, sump or refugium environment it needs strong lighting and strong water current. Strong lighting is crucial as the plant uses photosynthesis to produce food for itself my converting light to energy. Strong water current is also important as it moves waste products produced by the plant away and provides for proper respiration.
Halimeda Plant
(Halimeda sp.) Moderate Medium to High gallons Lower 24" 72-82° F, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025, KH 8-12 Clippings Green Calcium, Trace Elements, Iron Tropics Halimedaceae Halimeda The Halimeda Plant (Halimeda sp.) is a calcareous form of green macroalgae that is found growing throughout the worlds tropical regions. Calcareous species like the Halimeda Plant require calcium carbonate, calcium or limestone in order to grow each segment of the plant. The joints between the calcareous growths are flexible, which allow the plant to cope with water currents and disturbances from large fish or invertebrates. Halimeda macroalgae is coveted within the marine aquarium for its attractive appearance and controlled growth rate. Halimeda Plants can coexist with both sessile invertebrates and corals, as they grow upwards towards the light and do not infringe on nearby neighbors. This plant is also suitable for most FOWLR aquariums as most fish species will not eat the Halimeda Plant. However, Halimeda macroalgae is intolerant of high levels of nitrate or phosphate that are often found in elevated levels in FOWLR aquariums. Halimeda calcareous algae grow well in environments with high calcium, medium light, very low levels of nitrates and phosphates, and low amounts of iron in the 0.05 ppm range. Halimeda grows more upwards that outwards, thus they are generally planted in a sandy substrate or attached to live rock that is placed on the aquarium or sump substrate. Planting the Halimeda Plant in the substrate allows it plenty of room to grow before requiring pruning. This does not do well when pruned too often; therefore, it is better to plant it in such a way that it will have plenty of room for growth. In addition to moderate to high lighting and a steady supply of calcium supplementation, the Halimeda Plant requires low levels of dissolved nutrients like nitrate and phosphate. Halimeda macroalgae require plenty of calcium, some iron and moderate lighting in order to thrive within the marine aquarium environment. They will also grow in other lighting conditions, but will always require a steady source of calcium in order to build their calcareous based structure. They should be provided moderate water flow and water that is low in dissolved nutrients.