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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.

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Enjoy our tanks!!!

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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" @ 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 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" 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 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:


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 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
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

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.


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