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Welcome to our page. I have been keeping marine and fresh water aquariums for over 20 years off and on. We try to provide lots of up to date articles on maintaining an aquarium. We also have many awesome links on the right side bar to all things both Fresh Water and Salt Water Aquarium related. Things like Medicines, diagnosis charts, Fish Identification Databases, DIY Projects, Just to name a few. Quick Links to our tank Journals there as well.

Around here we like Salt Water Aquariums just as much as Fresh water aquariums. We don't mind although they must be "OddBall", "Predatory", or "Monster" Fish and when they are all three we are most happy!! So stay a while, poke around a bit and look through our collection of Angler Fish, Bala Sharks, Snoflake Eel, Plecostomos, Spotted Gar, Volitans Lion Fish, Polypterus, Damsels, and many assorted others...

We will be posting comments and pics here all related to keeping our fish. We hope you enjoy your visit.

Any posts I copy from another site will include the URL I got it from and the person who posted it. I don't just post links because often sites disappear and leave you with dead links. If you find one of your posts on these pages and wish to amend it or have it removed completely please just comment on the post and include your contact information and I will be glad to assist you in your wishes.


Enjoy our tanks!!!

Links to tank Journals (CLICK LINKS BELOW):

47 g allon FOWLR Pred. SW Tank = http://tanks4thememories.blogspot.com/2010/04/47-gallon-xt-sw-fowlr-predator-tank.html

Tanksfor Thememories

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

`D` - PIII-ka.....PIIIII-KAAAAA.....PIIIII-KAAA-CHUUU - "Pikachu The Electric Catfish" (Malapterurus electricus)

I have @ 20 yrs exp off and on keeping these babies both personally and professionally (back in college days I had part time job in a friends aquarium shop to support my MTS "Multiple Tank Syndrome"...lol) @ 10 yrs if you just count time actually keeping them.

In those many years I have witnessed things many people would not think can happen: I have seen my Jardini only allow 1 specific bala to clean his wound and not fuss or chase him however chase all the other balas. I have seen My elec cat only allow the other cats and snail in his cave (he instinctively knows it needs to be cleaned-they leave when they are done except the snail). When it gets too crowded he discharges and everyone comes spewing out of the cave..lol however I notice he doesnt use a voltage level that knocks them out or anything just enough juice to say "ENOUGH ALREADY!!"

This hobby has a lot of guides and they exist mainly to protect the novice. As you learn the reasons behind the guides you can bend and often even break them as an advanced Hobbyist. My strong point in this hobby is large "Oddballs". In keeping "Oddballs" I have learned that each fish is unique in it's personality and sometimes if you are willing to invest the time and money (depending on your negotiating skills and creativity it might not be much money involved at all) to switch them around until you have a good match up you can be rewarded with a truly unique tank. My 135 Gallon Predator tank is a "tough love" tank...lol. I do not let any fish continuously beat on another but I do let them work things out to an extent and occasionally blood is shed. Usually nothing serious but hey these are "big boys and girls", they can play rough when lines are crossed. After an aggression things usually go to normal peace and tranquility. I feed Live foods that I have quarantined prior to feeding. I supplement the live foods with vitamins and occasional veggies and frozen raw fish/shrimp to maintain the needs of the supporting fish - Plecos, snails, balas.
I personally do not agree with those who say you should only feed predators frozen, and pellets and flakes because I find myself asking the question what would this fish eat in the wild? Yes it does make them more aggressive, yes it is time consuming but hey they are predatory fish this is what they do man...lol Also note Predatory animals have naturally increased immunity systems due to the fact that their job in nature is to weed out sick and dieing prey.

I can personally attest to the power of these awesome creatures (Malapterurus electricus) both when small and when 6 to 8 inches in size. When small it is very similar to touching a 9 volt battery to your tongue, it is a cute tingly sensation. When large I liken it to touching a car battery, it actually knocked me back away from the tank and onto the floor. For this very reason I have special gloves when working in a tank containing this fish:













CORALIFE" "AQUA GLOVES" PN# AF9505 - www.esuweb.com

As humans our experience of getting shocked by this wonderful fish differs from fish in that we are grounded, so a very small amount of voltage goes a long way. Fish are not grounded, so it takes a little more juice to have similar effects.

I have seen Pikachu shock several fish and I guarantee you one thing it never happens three times to any fish...lol Fish occupy different strata of the tank and pikachu is basically a bottom dwelling fish. As long as he finds food on the bottom he never goes topside. When "Pikachu" does come out everyone except the plecos clear the runway and go to higher ground. This is another thing I find useful with large ego fish such as Jardini. You need to have something that is humble yet powerful enough to keep the egos in check. There is nothing like @ 300-350 volts to give you a reality check!!! "Pikachu" also loves a good cave that is closed in on all sides with only 1 entrance in or out. I used a large plastic spice container with a nice large opening (I think it had parsley in it):













Cave for "Pikachu" my (Malapterurus electricus)

With such a home he will seldom leave his cave except to eat and a quick check of his surroundings. Malapterurus electricus are purely nocturnal and prefer to seldom venture outside unless it is very dark. In fact sometimes he will hunt from the doorway of his cave, just sitting there motionless until a minnow wanders too closely and gets the "Shock of its lifetime" or should I say its death...lol
Pikachu never goes after fish he can not eat.
He uses electricity for three purposes:
1) Low voltage - emitting a field around his body to navigate in pitch darkness or low visibility environments.
2) Moderate voltage - As a defense basically saying "move!!" or "Leave me alone!!".
3) High voltage - as a offensive move to stun his prey so he can catch and eat them.

A little more about (Malapterurus electricus) - Electric catfish

Scientific classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Malapteruridae

Common name:
Electric Catfish

Fish name:
Malapterurus electricus














"Pikachu" Our Electric Catfish

Maximum size (min-max):
To 39" (100 cm) in nature, although usually not larger than 12" (30 cm) in an aquarium.

PH of water:
7-7.8 (7.0),

Water hardness(dGH):
5-20 dH (10)

Recommended temperature:
73-86°F (23-30°C)

Temperament to its family:
territorial of its cave typically will not tolerate others of its kind in the same tank.

Temperament to other fish species:
aggressive to smaller for best results keep this fish in its own aquarium.

Place in the aquarium:
Bottom levels

FOOD:
Live/frozen: fish, crustaceans, worms, insect larvae ; chopped meat.

The way of breeding:
Males are thinner than the females.
This species is a cave spawner,
However it has not be accomplished in aquaria.

Short description:
This is a nocturnal species.
A predatory species that should be kept singly.
Other tank mates may be "shocked."
he adult Electric Catfish can produce an electric shock of about 300-350 volts (in a 500 mm fish; Keynes, 1957). (Johnels, 1957; Keynes, 1957; Lissmann, 1958; Sagua, 1987; Skelton, 1993).
This species is equipped with electrical organs in the cutaneous layer of the skin. The fish insulates itself against shock by a thick fatty layer. The head is the negative pole, and the tail is the positive pole. This species will grow accustomed to their keeper and may take food from ones hand.

The three different species of Malapterurus can be differentiated by the following key (after Sagua, 1987):
1a. Gill rakers on proximal two-thirds of first ceratobranchial, usually not exceeding 15; adipose fin short, sloped posteriorly M. minjiriya
1b. Gill rakers throughout entire length of first ceratobranchial, usually 15 to 23; adipose fin rounded, see 2a and 2b below.
2a. Mouth relatively narrow; snout relatively long M. microstoma
2b. Mouth relatively wide; snout relatively short, M. electricus

Preliminary data suggest that what is currently considered M. electricus consists of at least nine species (of which four miniature species with highly reduced electric organs from Zaïre possibly belong to a separate, undescribed genus) (Moller, 1995).

Take extreme care when preforming maintenance.

Widespread throughout tropical Africa; Zaire, Niger, Volta, and Nile Rivers.

References:

http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Malapterurus_electricus.html

Thursday, September 18, 2008

`D` About Our Tanks - P01 - Update

About Our Tanks - P01
Name: P01
Start Date: Sunday June 15, 2008
Status: Established

Tank: 55 gal
Deminsions: 48 in L x 12 in W x 21 in H = 52.36364 US gallons
Water Type: Freshwater

Average Water Condition:
Temperature: 82 deg. F
Amonia: 0.0 ppm
Nitrites: 0.0 ppm
Nitrates: 0.0 ppm
PH: 7.2
PH TOD (Time of Day for test): 10:02 PM
Hardness:
Hardness (GH):
Hardness (KH):

Softening agents:
Driftwood
Live Plants

Hardening agents:
None

Lighting: Natural indirect sunlight + 2 flourescents in Hood.

Filtration: Undergravel Filter, Two aquaclear 70 power heads, @ 70 Pounds of gravel

Heating: N/A

Cooling: Large room fan pointed at the tanks and air conditioning in the room.

Airation: Powerheads, and a Circular air ring fed by a Wisper AP 300

Decoration: Mostly Low light Plants, Rocks found outside and treated to be placed in aquarium, Extralarge driftwood shaped like an arch.

Current Stock:
Empty

Maintanance:
Feedings schedule: Twice a day once in AM and once in the late PM
Water Change Schedule: 25% Once a week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

`D` Common Plecostomos Description

Common name
Common Pleco catfish
Fish name
Hypostomus borellii
Maximum size (min-max)
15.0 - 16.0 cm ( 5.9 - 6.3 in)
PH of water
6.5 - 7.1
Water hardness (dGH)
dGH 4.0 - 19.0 N
Recommended temperature
22.0 - 25.0 C ( 71.6 - 77.0 F)
Temperament to its family
peaceful
Temperament to other fish species
peaceful
Place in the aquarium
Bottom levels
The way of breeding
Spawning
Fish origin
South America
Short description

`D` Chocolate Plecostomos Description

Common name
chocolate Pleco catfish
Fish name
Pterygoplichthys pardalis
Maximum size (min-max)
14"-16" (35-40cm)
PH of water
6.0 - 7.5
Water hardness (dGH)
dGH 4.0 - 19.0 N
Recommended temperature
21.0-26.0°C (69.8-78.8°F)
Feeding
Omnivorous and a good algae eater, especially when young.
Temperament to its family
peaceful
Temperament to other fish species
peaceful
Place in the aquarium
Bottom levels
The way of breeding
Spawning
Fish origin
South America
Widespread in the amazon river system.
Commercially bred in outdoor ponds in both the U.S. and Far East.
Short description

`D` Bala Shark Description

Common name
Bala shark
Fish name
Balantiocheilos melanopterus
Maximum size (min-max)
30.0 - 40.0 cm ( 11.8 - 15.7 in)
PH of water
5.8 - 7.9
Water hardness (dGH)
dGH 4.0 - 12.0 N
Recommended temperature
22.0 - 29.0 C ( 71.6 - 84.2 F)
Temperament to its family
peaceful
Temperament to other fish species
peaceful
Place in the aquarium
Middle levels
The way of breeding
Spawning
Fish origin
East Asia
Short description
This fish is also known as Silver shark, Tri Color Shark.

`D` Jardini Description

Common name
Gulf saratoga
Fish name
Scleropages jardinii
Maximum size (min-max)
90.0 - 100.0 cm ( 35.4 - 39.4 in)
PH of water
6.4 - 7.0
Water hardness (dGH)
dGH 5.0 - 13.0 N
Recommended temperature
22.0 - 26.0 C ( 71.6 - 78.8 F)
Temperament to its family
Aggressive
Temperament to other fish species
aggressive to most fish after 8"
Place in the aquarium
Top to Mid levels
The way of breeding
Spawning
Fish origin
Oceania
Short description
Also known as Australian pearl arowana, or Australian bonytongue.

`S1` Tank P02 Tests

Name: P02
Status: Establish
Tank: 135 gal
Water Type: Freshwater
Water Condition:
Temperature: 82 deg. F
Ammonia: 0.0 ppm
Nitrites: 0.0 ppm
Nitrates: 0.0 ppm
PH: 7.2
PH TOD (Time of Day for test): 10:05 PM
Hardness (GH): 5.0
Hardness (KH): 4.0

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

`D` The Short & Sweet Of Cycling a fish tank

 The Short & Sweet Of Cycling a fish tank
 

 This post is in the process of being updated.  Please feel free to read it anyway and come back anytime to observe the changes.

The Nitrogen Cycle in the world around us:
Schematic representation of the flow of nitrogen through the environment. The importance of bacteria in the cycle is immediately recognized as being a key element in the cycle, providing different forms of nitrogen compounds assimilable by higher organisms.
Courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_cycle

The Nitrogen Cycle in an aquarium:
Fish, invertebrates, fungi, and some bacteria excrete nitrogen waste in the form of ammonia (which converts to ammonium, in acidic water) and must then pass through the nitrogen cycle. Ammonia is also produced through the decomposition of plant and animal matter, including fecal matter and other detritus. Nitrogen waste products become toxic to fish and other aquarium inhabitants at high concentrations.

 Courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquarium


There are two primary methods one uses to Cycle an aquarium:
1) Traditional (Cycle With Fish)
2) Fish Less (Cycle Without Fish)

Traditional Cycling:

Fairly simple.
Fish choice: Any fish from the Danio family If you don't like Danios Here is a great link to choosing your Stater Fish.

What you are looking for in a starter fish:
- Very hardy,
- Very cheap,
- Easy to either take back or euthanize when cycling is completed.
- 3 - 5 of them running around a tank is fun to watch.

PROS - Traditional Cycling
Fun to have something to watch while your tank cycles.
Progression through the phases of the cycle is very consistent.

CONS - Traditional Cycling
You will have to get rid of the fish if they aren't consistent with your long term stocking plan once cycle is completed..
Constant Feeding
Constant Water changes
Buying fish you possibly may not keep is an additional cost to setting up the tank.
Any fish used for cycling has the possibility of bringing with it disease that might effect the new fish you buy.
Once Completed you can only add a few fish at a time because the BB (Beneficial Bacteria) must be grown for each set of additional fish added to the aquarium.  (Once cycle is completed then you typically add fish wait a week, then add more, repeat...etc)
Some consider this method not very humane to the fish.

Fish Less Cycle:

PROS - Fish Less Cycling
Can often be Faster
No Water Changes
No possible contamination from fish used to cycle tank.
Once completed you can add a lot more fish at one time since the BB (Beneficial Bacteria) Levels are very high.
Considered to be most Humane way to cycle a fish tank.

CONS - Fish Less Cycling
Can occasionally become "Stuck"
Boring
Boring
Boring
OH and did I mention it is boring...lol

My personal feelings on either method is I do which ever I am in the mood for.
Once you have at least 1 tank set up you can "Instant Cycle" where you use the media from one tank to cycle another. But once again the risk of disease is present in this method. I strongly recommend not using other peoples water or media to accelerate your cycle because you never really know what is in someone else water...lol


If you do decide to use fish to cycle your tank a lot of LFS will take fish on trade in and will give you a store credit even several months later. Or it doesn't matter with Giant Danios (or any such inexpensive fish) cause they didn't cost you much to begin with (You can give them back to the LFS for free and you are only out of a few bucks!!)..Here is a great link for "Cycling With Fish"

Otherwise do a "fish less cycle". It is faster and safer. No chance of diseases from prior fish. Only down side to Fish less is you don't get anything to look at while tank is cycling...:(

Good link for Fish less Cycle:

http://www.aquatic-hobbyist.com/profiles/misc/fishlesscycling.html

Here is the Page Referenced above in its entirety written by "Loachaholic" as it appears in "Aquatic-Hobbyist":

Aquatic-Hobbyist fishless cycling
Foreword:

* First, let me state that this will not be a scholarly article about Nitrobacter, Nitrosomas or the hows and whys of the nitrogen cycle. Many more learned men and women than I have already covered that ground, and done it much better than I ever could. I have included some links at the bottom of this article. PLEASE read them for more in depth information.
* Second, this is an article intended for FRESHWATER TANKS ONLY!!! If you are beginning a marine tank, please refer to other sources.
* Third, relax!! This sounds complicated but it isn't. Think of it as a chemistry experiment. You have no fish in there, so the only thing you can kill if you make a mistake is some bacteria. Don't get hung up on exact readings on your test kit - the only the reading must be exact is when you reach zero.

My intent is to give concise, step-by-step instructions for fishlessly cycling a tank. A few caveats on fishless cycling: This isn't a quick-cycle method; it still takes 3-8 weeks for the tank to cycle - sometimes more. The only really reliable way of quick-cycling a tank that I am willing to recommend is to move the filter sponge, gravel, ornaments and/or plants from an existing tank, and even then some cycling time will be needed. Take your time. This initial cycle is one of the most important steps in ensuring that your experience with this tank will be a good one.

What you need:

* Aquarium.
* Substrate (usually medium to small gravel, but can be of your choice).
* Filter and filter medium.
* Heater.
* Thermometer.
* Dechlorinator/Dechloriminator (be sure it's not something that "neutralizes ammonia" or you'll get false readings on your ammonia tests).
* Tests for ammonia and nitrite (nitrate is handy, too, but not necessary).
* Pure ammonia (also called clear ammonia). Check the ingredients - if it has anything other than water and ammonia (fragrance, surfactants, etc.) it's not the right kind.

Optional:

* Rocks, wood or other decorations such as sunken ships, bubbling treasure chests, etc.
* Plants - real, plastic or silk.
* Lighting (not optional if you have plants).

Preparation:

Set up the aquarium, including substrate, filter, and heater, and fill with water. Be sure to dechlorinate the water. Turn everything on. Add your plants and decorations.

Set the heater to keep the temperature of the water up in the mid to high 80's.

Provide extra aeration if possible. Aeration in a body of water only happens at the surface. To increase aeration, keep the water surface moving. With an outside hang on-the-back power filter, you can lower the water level a couple of inches so that water falling from the filter outflow makes a bigger splash. If the sound of the splashing makes you nuts, don't do it. An airstone and small pump works, too.

If you have access to materials from a SAFE source (not your fish store), see if you can get a cup of gravel, a used filter sponge, a decoration - anything that has been in an established aquarium a while - and put it in your tank just before you start. This will speed up the process, but is not necessary.

Now You're Ready:

Keep the filter running at maximum capacity throughout the cycling process.

Do not change water or clean anything in the tank during the cycle - it's not necessary and you might disrupt things. Besides, once the fish are in there you'll change water often enough. Enjoy your hiatus. If the water level gets too low, you may top off the tank with dechlorinated water.

Put 3-5 drops of pure ammonia per gallon in the tank, or enough ammonia to make your test kit read 4-5. Now fire up your computer and start researching the fish you want to put in there once the cycle is finished - you are done for now.

Test ammonia levels every day. When the ammonia reaches 1, add more ammonia to bring the level back to 4-5. Continue to put ammonia in the tank until the ammonia level goes to zero within 8-12 hours after the ammonia is put in. Once the tank shows the ability to lower the ammonia level in this time interval, a sufficient population of bacteria is resident in your tank and you're halfway there. This part usually takes about two weeks, but can take as long as four weeks.

Now test for nitrites. They should be VERY high. The nitrites will probably exceed the highest limit of your nitrite test. This isn't a problem, if course, because you have no fish to worry about. Continue to add enough ammonia each day to bring the ammonia level to 1 or 2.

The high-nitrite stage seems to last forever. It seems to me that Nitrobacter (the nitrite-consuming bacteria) grow more slowly than Nitrosomas (the ammonia-consuming bacteria).

When the nitrite drops, it will drop rapidly. When the test reads zero for 24 hours or more, your tank is cycled. This is the payoff for all your patience.

Keep adding ammonia until right before you add fish. Then adjust the heater down to a liveable temperature and do a very large water change (at least 90%). (Remember, to add dechlorinator.)

Recommended reading on fishless cycling:

http://www.skepticalaquarist.com/docs/startover/fishless.shtml
http://badmanstropicalfish.com/articles/article14.html
http://www.thetropicaltank.co.uk/cycling2.htm
http://www.marineland.com/articles/1firstthirty.asp

Loachaholic

Sunday, September 7, 2008

`D` Aquarium water disposal.

Alot of the disease research I am doing for an up coming essay on Mycobacterium leads me to believe that it may be possible for Bacteria infecting a dead fish carcass to survive being flushed and end up in the water supply. For humans it is kinda OK because we disinfect our drinking water. The creatures living in our waterways do not have this protection. Also when we flush aquarium treated water down our drains and toilets there is potential for increased release of bacterium and viri that are resistant to medications.

Waste goes to the treatment plant ,is liquidized,any solids(cotton buds and stuff) removed by a coarse filter and put in a large pond to settle.The semi clean water is drained off and sprayed over a filtration medium,such as gravel or stone chips where bacteria dine on any organic particles (poop).The very near clean water is drained off into the environment at which point it is probably cleaner than the river it goes into
The sludge that remains can be used for agricultural fertilizer or burnt as a fuel substitute.

By flushing things down the toilet, Fish tank water from treated fish, especially chemicals (cosmetics, cleaning supplies and medications) will eventually end up in the water supply. Most water treatment plants are not designed to destroy or even remove these things from the waste water.

Monday, September 1, 2008

`D` New feeder tank

I purchased a 50 gal Tub from Home Depot for 10 bucks. Filled it with some cycled media and now I am using it as feeder tank. I buy feeder minnows 100 at a time and it seems to be going well as long as I do 90% water change 2 times a week and very light feeding of high quality tropical flake food.

`D` Bala Died Friday

Bala Died Friday 08/29/08. It looked like he was shocked by the Elec.Cat. so I moved the Balas to the 47 gal. The 55 Gal looks empty now without them all swimming around...:(