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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!!!

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Few words on Ich (Ichthyophthirius in fresh water, and Cryptocaryon, Brooklynella, Trichodina in marine)

Few words on Ich (Ichthyophthirius in fresh water, and Cryptocaryon, Brooklynella, Trichodina in marine)


Once again I can not stress the importance of having a Quarantine/Hospital tank.  As you read through pathogens and their treatments keep in mind a good quarantine program can save many hours of treatment and medications. Ich is no exception to this rule.

Ick (Ichthyophthirius in fresh water, and Cryptocaryon, Brooklynella, Trichodina in marine), is a microscopic parasite with a four stage life cycle. There are a number of species of Ich . Each species varies to some extent in its maturation periods and behavior.  Each species can also vary in its vulnerability to certain methods of treatment and medications.  There is considerable controversy on the subject.  Most problems with permanently eliminating this parasite come from not understanding its life cycle.  During the short time that the Ich is in the free swimming stage is the only time that it can be eliminated by treatments. What is most common in tropical aquarium keeping is to have about eighteen to twenty four hours for when the trophonts are in the free-swimming stage, and about one to two days for temperate or cold water outdoor ponds.  At the typical temperatures a tropical aquarium is kept at the entire life-cycle takes about seven to ten days to complete

1) = "Adult" - The trophozoites in the host's skin, What you actually see are the fishes response to the parasite in the form of cysts which contain the parasite  where it's protected from medication. Constantly rotating inside this pustule, the parasite swells to 50 times its original size, eventually large enough to appear to the naked eye, grayish-white, round or oval shaped, about the size of a grain of salt. In a few days or sometimes a lot longer, depending on temperature, It sheds its cilia, grows a thickened gelatinous outer shell,allows itself be shed into the fishes "Slime Coat" and simply drops away to eventually settle on tank decorations or substrate.
2) = Trophont leaving the host.
3) = "Reproductive1" -The mature trophont with hundreds of maturing tomites.
4)  = "Reproductive2" - The releasing of tomites that penetrate the skin of the host fish.
1) = The cycle continues all over again.

The most common cures available on the market contain the following as active ingredients:

Methylene blue,
Malachite green,
Formalin and Malachite Green mix
Copper sulfate mix. - Least desirable as it can kill invertebrates and some species of fish

Herbal/Natural Remadies:

Table Salt(Iodine free) - this will not effect pH so it is the one I personally prefer
Marine Salt
Napthoquinones - Naphthoquinones are compounds present in several families of higher plants such as Henna. Currently the only aquatic product employing this organic compound is Kordon Herbal Ich-Attack.

Usnea Lichen, usnic acid (Usnea barbata) - common to the temperate forests of the Pacific Northwest of the USA.



Either Iodine free table salt or Aquarium salt
A standard cup or plastic cup
Set the aquarium heat at 86 degrees F and keep it there for seven to ten days after the spots have disappeared. It should be safe to return the tank to the normal temperature after that.

Step 1:
Turn the heat in your aquarium up to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature needed to stop the ich from reproducing. Once you do this, you will be ready to treat the ich that has already infected your fish.

Step 2:
Take any live plants in your aquarium out of the tank before you begin to use the salt. The plants may not survive the salt treatment.

Step 3:
Turn your aerator up a little. The higher heat setting will reduce the oxygen level in the water. You need your fish to be able to breathe properly if they are going to stay healthy.

Step 4:
Find out how many gallons of water are in your aquarium. You will need 1 tsp. of aquarium salt for each gallon of water. That means if you have a 10-gallon aquarium, you will need 10 tsp. of salt.

Step 5:
Use a cup to remove some water from the aquarium. Add the salt you measured out in step four to the cup of aquarium water. Mix until the salt has dissolved.

Step 6:
Add the salt water slowly to your tank over the next two hours until you have poured all of it into the tank.

Step 7:
Repeat these steps each day until you see the white spots have disappeared from your fish. This should only take a few days.

Step 8:
Change at least 25 percent of the water in the aquarium daily for at least a week after you have stopped the salt treatments. This will get rid of the salt that was used so your aquarium can be brought back to normal.

Formalin: Used against protozoan and metazoan parasites.

To prevent any misunderstandings, formaldehyde is a colourless, highly toxic gas. Formalin is a 37 - 40% aqueous solution of formaldehyde (which equals 100% formalin). It should not be used if a white precipitate of paraformaldehyde forms in the container.

Paraformaldehyde is extremely toxic to fish. Keep formalin away from light. Be extremely careful when handling.

Bath: 0.15 to 0.25 mls per litre for up to 60 minutes.; Can be used on consecutive days for a  maximum of three treatments. Can irritate gills so it should not be used where gill disease is suspected. Aerate at all times. In most cases the lower dose should be used although the high dose may be required against Epistylis

Prolonged immersion: 0.015 to 0.025 mls per litre. Repeat every 3 - 4 days and do a partial water change between treatments. Maximum of three consecutive treatments. Aerate at all times. Do not use where gill disease is suspected.

Malachite green: Used against Saprolegnia (fungus), water moulds and protozoan parasites.

A zinc-free grade must be used. This is usually mixed as a stock solution that will then keep indefinitely. The exact mixture of the stock solution varies depending on preference. The main point is that whatever concentration is used it should be easy to calculated many mgs of malachite there are per ml of solution. A popular stock solution uses 20 grams malachite per litre of distilled water. This gives 20 mg malachite per ml of stock solution. Using this stock solution.

Bath: 1-2 mg malachite per litre water for 30 - 60 minutes. Higher dose only for large fish, such as koi, in hard water.  This equates with 1 ml stock solution per 20 - 40 litres of water. Can be repeated every other day for a maximum of four treatments.

Prolonged immersion:0.1- 0.25 mg malachite per litre: Repeat every three days for a maximum of three treatments. This equates to 1ml of stock solution per 80 - 200 litres. Again the higher dose should only be used with large fish, such as koi, in hard water.

Topical treatment: The stock solution can be applied directly to a wound, particularly when fungus is present. Keep away from the fish’s eyes and gills.

Malachite and formalin mixture (Leteux-Meyer mixture) Used against protozoan and metazoan parasites.

There are several variations. Two commonly used mixtures are:

Strong mixture: 3.68 grams of malachite green dissolved in one litre of formalin: This is used at 0.025 mls per litre of pond water for 60 minutes bath. This stronger dose can also be used for stubborn parasites on koi in alkaline water as a prolonged immersion. This dosage equates to 0.025 ml/litre formalin and 0.1 mg. /litre of malachite green.

Weaker mixture: 3.3 grams malachite green dissolved in one litre of formalin: This is used at a rate of 0.015 mls per litre of pond water as a prolonged immersion for general pond use. This equates to 0.015 mls/litre formalin and 0.05 mg/litre malachite green

Usnea Lichen
Boil one small sprig (about an adult thumb size) in 6 oz. of water and add this to every 10-20 gallons of water every day until cure is effective +2 days. Make sure to remove the Usnea sprig from the “brewed Usnea tea”, otherwise this will allow the tea/medication to spoil. Refrigeration is recommended after brewing of any unused Usnea brew.
1 tablespoon per 6 oz. of this preparation can also be used for a 1 quart bath as an alternative.

ALL these ich remedies, are toxins! So you don't use this unless you see ick. And they ALL kill ONLY the free swimming stage. Nothing kills the eggs or the ones on fish.
So it may take a week or two tops, for all the cysts to open and drop eggs, the eggs hatch, then ick is killed.

And be warned, some fish are less tolorant of these cures. Especially the dyes. Your shark may be one of them. So either find the copper sulfate cure, one called aquarasol was good if you can find that.
Or you can still use the ones with dye, but at a third of a dose. Raise the temp. (Speeds up the ick life cycle.) And be patient. It still works even at low doses.

However, where the parasite leaves, will leave a very small wound. This can be a path way to infection. Keeping your tank clean is important. Keep running your filters, keep doing water changes. (right before your daily dose is good.) 

Useful conversions:

ppm = mg/litre -  i.e. 5 ppm = 5 mg / litre

mg / litre x 3.785 = mg / gall (US) -  i.e 5 mg / litre = 18.9 mg / gall (US)

mg/ litre x 4.546 = mg / gall (UK) -  i.e 5 mg / litre = 22.7 mg / gall (UK)

To convert imperial gallons to US gallons multiply by 1.2

Other useful figures:

1 ounce = 28.35 grams

1% solution =

10 ml per litre

10 gram per litre

38 gram per gall (US)

45 gram per gall (UK)


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What happens when you have to move your aquarium(s) to a new house?

What happens when you have to move your aquarium(s) to a new house/residence?

Well you finally got your aquariums all set up the way you like them and the fish are all doing great, but now you have to move!!!  This can be a very scary prospect the first time you have to go through it.  However just like many other things it really is not too bad if you plan things out.  In the army they have a saying that I am quite fond of and use a lot in engineering.  Please excuse my use of a little slang here but it really doesn't work without the slightly bad word in  They call it the seven P's

Well  I think you know where I am going with this, Planning, Planning, Planning thats the key.  So without further delay lets see what we might need.

Useful Items to have handy:
Ice packs
heat packs
Cooler to store spare ice packs
battery operated aeration pumps (and spare batteries).
Thermometer: One of these if affordable -Raytek RAYMT6 Mini Temp IR Thermometer -20F to 932F UVB -I happen to have one for my computer work but Ive found it very useful for this hobby as Lets you spot check temps!!
Lots of labels (duct tape and a sharpie will do also. Just make sure you remove residue or don't tape anything that actually contacts water.
Masking tape - Great for marking off desired tank locations.
Ammo Chips or Purigen: Great for adding to fish transport containers
Nylon stockings: Great for making filter bags to hold ammo chips
Coleman 150 QT Heritage Marine Plus Cooler 5250B798 (or similar model) great for insulated fish transport container. Remember coolers are just as good at keeping temperatures stable as they are at keeping things cold. Ive even used them in the past as feeder tanks.
5 Gallon Plastic Buckets with lids and handles - Can get them at home depot or similar type hardware stores
Storage bins ( Tall enough to be half way full of water yet still have room from top to avoid excessive splashing yet also have room for fish.)
Plastic Fish baggies - Just in case you have any problems also good for plants.- You can usually buy a few from your LFS and sometimes they will just give them to you for free if you ask nicely.
Extension cords
A few bottles of Prime - renders ammonia harmless for several hours.
A bottle of Liquid B-Complex Dietary supplement - GNC has a nice one. - This boosts the immune system and helps fish cope with stress as well. Dosage is about 1 drop per gallon.

Do you need everything on the list above?  Most likely the answer is no but using your own common sense and depending on a few factors like: how important the survival of your fish are to you &
how far you have to travel before setting things back up again, you can decide on the ones you can leave out and the ones you absolutely must have.

Your main concerns are:
1) Logistics: Planning, Labling of : equipt., tanks, fish. What goes where and when?, Man/Woman Power

2) Temperature: stability is more important than a specific temperature, you can also pre aclimate fish to expected conditions in advance.

3) Aeration: Fish and Filter media.

4) Stress (Both yours and the fish) Plan, Plan, Plan & anticipate obstacles to your plans.

General concepts:

Do not feed the fish for at least 24-48 hours before moving . Especially if it will be a while before you get to set things back up again. Fish can go a few days without food and be just fine.  This will cut down on the waste they generate while in transit.  Less waste less pollution.

Fish go into 5 Gallon buckets with lids or coolers or Storage bins if it is a long trip you can use the battery powered air pumps on these containers.

Live plants should be bagged up in sealed bags with just enough tank water to keep them moist, or wrapped in moist newspaper.

Remove any 'biomedia'(Floss, filter pasd, bio balls, ceramic media..etc) and transport it separately from the filter, keeping it wet in tank water, to help preserve the bacteria- On long trips it would be good to aerate the container with your biomedia in it.

Always empty the tank completely. Never transport the tank with water or substrate in the bottom. Aquariums really arent meant to be moved with things in them it puts stresses in places they would not not normally be.  Even if the tank does not physically crack, the joints may be stressed enough to cause leaks when refilling.

If you really want to assure the fish move goes smooth I would recommend that the fish go on a separate trip.

If the above is not an option and you do it all in one trip you might try staggering the departure times, if that's not an option and you all have to leave at same time then organization and labeling become even more critical.

If you do it all in one trip or in two trips I would still recommend that you have enough people handy to make one or two people dedicated just for the fish. and if possible you just direct and assist as needed to get all things into their proper place. BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT FRIENDS MOVING AQUARIUMS - I have seen many accidents because most people don't know about the special concerns when moving an aquarium. I can not stress enough how important it is to remove all substrate and water completely. Place substrate in coolers or storage bins (Be careful most of the cheaper storage bins can handle the volume but not the weight) Then cover the gravel with just enough water to keep it moist (If the bacteria die on your substrate you can have a potential ammo spike when you set everything back up due to all the dead bacteria decaying). You can also pre mark out where everything goes so that when the fish and rigs arrive there is no confusion as to what goes where.

Remember the most important thing besides your fish is your Beneficial Bacteria - These microscopic organisms live in your substrate and on your decorations and most importantly in your filter media.  Make sure these things are kept moist (with tank water) and aerated.

So for the above reason the water from your aquarium is relatively useless except as packing material for your fish plants and substrate.  Once everyone is back in their proper tanks and all is set up properly make sure you test the water parameters frequently, feed very sparingly for about one week and don't add new fish for at least two weeks while everything levels out.

As someone who has done this often I feel your pain... Personally I have only moved long distances with tanks & fish 3 times. All the other occasions I have moved typically I buy all my tanks used so when I move I just buy new ones in the place I'm moving to. I sell off all of my tanks but not the equipment that is hard to replace. I stage everything for a pick up date that I am moving and make sure I make space allowances for the occasional person who doesn't come and pick up the item they promised to Anyway when all is said and done I end up moving equipment and my most prized hard to replace fish only. And I have tanks already set up only needing fish and a filter. This method saves on manpower and often allows me to upgrade (Sometimes I find even better Creigs list deals in the area I'm moving

Well I hope this helps and I wish you a  HAPPY MOVING DAY!!!  - Tanks

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to Euthanize a Fish.

How to Euthanize a Fish.

There comes a time in every aquarist's life when a fish that can no longer recover from disease or injury must be euthanized. This is no easy task but it can be done humanely and peacefully without stress to fish or aquarist. The best method is a two-step process. First, anesthetize the fish with clove oil so that it is sleeping and unable to feel pain; then introduce a clear grain alcohol like vodka to ensure the fish will not wake up.
This method is commonly misrepresented as mixing clove oil and vodka together. That is incorrect. Clove oil must be introduced first, allowing the fish to fall asleep before introducing vodka. Vodka will be stressful for a fish that is not anesthetized.
Clove oil, or eugenol, is available at most drug stores and is sold as a toothache remedy. It has been used for years as a fish anesthetic for surgeries and tagging procedures. Clove oil will put a fish to sleep and ensure it feels no pain. The fish can wake up from this sleep if removed from the clove bath, however. The last step of adding the vodka will ensure the fish expires.
Here are the steps for fish up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) in length:
1. Add tank water to a measuring cup or mixing bowl. Measure the amount of tank water you add to the cup or bowl and make a note of it. Place the fish in the container. If the fish is in a clear cup, place a dark towel around the cup to calm the fish.
2. Fill a small, clean jar or bottle with tank water, leaving some room at the top. You might use a baby food jar or pill bottle. Put 1 drop of clove oil in the jar or bottle, cap, and shake vigorously. The clove oil should emulsify, turning the water milky white.
Gently pour about 1/4 of this emulsified mixture into the fish's container. The fish will begin listing as it starts to fall asleep. Let the fish be for about 10 minutes.
The fish should be resting on the bottom of the tank when it has fallen asleep. It will look dead, but if you watch closely, its gills will be breathing once every few seconds. If after 10 minutes the fish is still rising off the bottom and swimming intermittently, retrieve the jar or bottle of emulsified clove oil, re-shake, and add the same dose to the fish's container. Wait again.
3. Once the fish is asleep on the bottom, add 20-25% white grain alcohol. For example, if the fish is in 8 oz (240 ml) of water, add 2 oz (60 ml) of vodka. Let the fish stay there for at least 20 minutes.
4. Check the fish carefully after 20 minutes for any gill movement. If there is no gill movement over a 60 second period, the fish has expired.
For large fish: Place the fish in a bucket or plastic tub with tank water. Again, measure how much tank water is used. The dose for the mixture in the jar will be 10 drops of clove oil per gallon (3.78 liters). For example, if the fish is placed in 3 gallons (11 liters) of tank water, fill your jar with tank water and add 10 x 3 = 30 drops of clove oil.
After shaking the jar vigorously, slowly add the entire mixture to the bucket or tub that contains the fish. Gently mix it in. Once the fish is asleep, follow the previous instructions for adding 20-25% vodka.
To eliminate vodka from the procedure and overdose with clove oil alone: Put the fish to sleep first as stated above, waiting 10 minutes for the fish to settle on the bottom. A lethal overdose of clove oil is 50 drops per gallon (3.78 liters), or 5x stronger than the initial dose that anesthetizes the fish. Using the same example, if the fish is in 3 gallons (11 liters) of tank water, the jar's lethal mixture will include 50 x 3 = 150 drops of clove oil. Administer it the same way, by first shaking the jar before adding the mixture to the fish's container.
Once you've added the entire mixture to the fish's container, wait a few hours. Finally, make sure there is absolutely no gill movement by watching the gills closely for at least 60 straight seconds. If you see any gill movement, add more emulsified clove oil.
Using clove oil alone is not recommended, because even though a fish looks dead it can recover once it has been removed from the bath. Clove oil is a preferred anesthetic precisely because it is hard to overdose a fish with it. Therefore, be especially diligent when using clove oil alone that the fish is really dead. It is much safer to use vodka as the final step.
Unacceptable methods of euthanasia include freezing, boiling, chopping, removing the fish from water, using a seltzer tablet, or flushing down the toilet. These methods are slow, torturous, stressful, or violent. Clove oil followed by vodka is both inexpensive and humane. The fish goes to sleep like we might before an operation, and simply doesn't wake up. Hopefully you will rarely have to perform this task, but when you do, it's at least comforting to know your fish does not have to suffer.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fish Anatomy

Fish anatomy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Anatomical Directions and Axes.JPG
Fish anatomy is primarily governed by the physical characteristics of water, which is much denser than air, holds a relatively small amount of dissolved oxygen, and absorbs light more than air does.


  • 1 Fins
    • 1.1 Spines and rays
    • 1.2 Types of fin
  • 2 Reproductive system
    • 2.1 Internal fertilization
  • 3 Skin
  • 4 Vertebrae
  • 5 The jaw
  • 6 Internal organs
  • 7 See also
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links


The anatomy of Lampanyctodes hectoris
(1) - operculum (gill cover), (2) - lateral line, (3) - dorsal fin, (4) - fat fin, -- (5) - caudal peduncle, (6) - caudal fin, (7) - anal fin, (8) - photophores, -- (9) - pelvic fins (paired), (10) - pectoral fins (paired)
The fins are the most distinctive features of a fish, composed of bony spines protruding from the body with skin covering them and joining them together, either in a webbed fashion, as seen in most bony fish, or more similar to a flipper, as seen in sharks. These usually serve as a means for the fish to swim. Fins can also be used for gliding or crawling, as seen in the flying fish and frogfish. Fins located in different places on the fish serve different purposes, such as moving forward, turning, and keeping an upright position.

Spines and rays

In bony fish, most fins may have spines or rays. A fin can contain only spiny rays, only soft rays, or a combination of both. If both are present, the spiny rays are always anterior. Spines are generally stiff and sharp. Rays are generally soft, flexible, segmented, and may be branched. This segmentation of rays is the main difference that separates them from spines; spines may be flexible in certain species, but they will never be segmented.
Spines have a variety of uses. In catfish, they are used as a form of defense; many catfish have the ability to lock their spines outwards. Triggerfish also use spines to lock themselves in crevices to prevent them being pulled out.

Types of fin

  • Dorsal fins are located on the back. A fish can have up to three of them. The dorsal fins serve to protect the fish against rolling, and assists in sudden turns and stops.
    • In anglerfish, the anterior of the dorsal fin is modified into an illicium and esca, a biological equivalent to a fishing pole and a lure.
    • The bones that support the dorsal fin are called Pterygiophore. There are two to three of them: "proximal", "middle", and "distal". In spinous fins the distal is often fused to the middle, or not present at all.
  • The caudal fin is the tail fin, located at the end of the caudal peduncle and is used for propulsion.

    types of caudal fin :
    (A) - Heterocercal, (B) - Protocercal,
    (C) - Homocercal, (D) - Diphycercal
    • The tail can be heterocercal, which means that the vertebrae extend into a larger lobe of the tail or that the tail is asymmetrical
      • Epicercal means that the upper lobe is longer (as in sharks)
      • Hypocercal means that the lower lobe is longer (as in flying fish)
    • Protocercal means that the caudal fin extends around the vertebral column, present in embryonic fish and hagfish. This is not to be confused with a caudal fin that has fused with the dorsal and anal fins to form a contiguous fin.
    • Diphycercal refers to the special, three-lobed caudal fin of the coelacanth and lungfish where the vertebrae extend all the way to the end of the tail.
    • Most fish have a homocercal tail, where the vertebrae do not extend into a lobe and the fin is more or less symmetrical. This can be expressed in a variety of shapes.
      • The tail fin may be rounded at the end.
      • The tail fin may be truncated, or end in a more-or-less vertical edge (such as in salmon).
      • The fin may be forked, or end in two prongs.
      • The tail fin may be emarginate, or with a slight inward curve.
      • The tail fin may be lunate, or shaped like a crescent moon.
  • The anal fin is located on the ventral surface behind the anus. This fin is used to stabilize the fish while swimming.
  • The paired pectoral fins are located on each side, usually just behind the operculum, and are homologous to the forelimbs of tetrapods.
    • A peculiar function of pectoral fins, highly developed in some fish, is the creation of the dynamic lifting force that assists some fish, such as sharks, in maintaining depth and also enables the "flight" for flying fish.

      Bigeye tuna Thunnus obesus showing finlets and keels.
      Drawing by Dr Tony Ayling
    • In many fish, the pectoral fins aid in walking, especially in the lobe-like fins of some anglerfish and in the mudskipper.
    • Certain rays of the pectoral fins may be adapted into finger-like projections, such as in sea robins and flying gurnards.
      • The "horns" of manta rays and their relatives are called cephalic fins; this is actually a modification of the anterior portion of the pectoral fin.
  • The paired pelvic or ventral fins are located ventrally below the pectoral fins. They are homologous to the hindlimbs of tetrapods. The pelvic fin assists the fish in going up or down through the water, turning sharply, and stopping quickly.
    • In gobies, the pelvic fins are often fused into a single sucker disk. This can be used to attach to objects.
  • The adipose fin is a soft, fleshy fin found on the back behind the dorsal fin and just forward of the caudal fin. It is absent in many fish families, but is found in Salmonidae, characins and catfishes.
  • Some types of fast-swimming fish have a horizontal caudal keel just forward of the tail fin. This is a lateral ridge on the caudal peduncle, usually composed of scutes (see below), that provides stability and support to the caudal fin. There may be a single paired keel, one on each side, or two pairs above and below.
  • Finlets are small fins, generally behind the dorsal and anal fins (in bichirs, there are only finlets on the dorsal surface and no dorsal fin). In some fish such as tuna or sauries, they are rayless, non-retractable, and found between the last dorsal and/or anal fin and the caudal fin.
For every fin, there are a number of fish species in which this particular fin has been lost during evolution.

Reproductive system

Internal fertilization

In many species of fish, fins have been modified to allow internal fertilization.
A gonopodium is an anal fin that is modified into an intromittent organ in males of certain species of live-bearing fish in the families Anablepidae and Poeciliidae. It is movable and used to impregnate females during mating. The male's anal fin’s 3rd, 4th and 5th rays are formed into a tube like structure in which the sperm of the fish is ejected. In some species, the gonopodium may be as much as 50% of the total body length. Occasionally the fin is too long to be used, as in the "lyretail" breeds of Xiphophorus helleri. Hormone treated females may develop gonopodia. These are useless for breeding. One finds similar organs having the same characteristics in other types of fish, for example the andropodium in the Hemirhamphodon or in the Goodeidae.
When ready for mating, the gonopodium becomes “erect” and points forward, towards the female. The male shortly inserts the organ into the sex opening of the female, with hook-like adaptations that allow the fish to grip onto the female to insure impregnation. If a female remains stationary and her partner contacts her vent with his gonopodium, she is fertilized. The sperm is preserved in the female's oviduct. This allows females to, at any time, fertilize themselves without further assistance of males.
Male cartilaginous fish have claspers modified from pelvic fins. These are intromittent organs, used to channel semen into the female's cloaca during copulation.


The outer body of many fish is covered with scales. Some species are covered instead by scutes. Others have no outer covering on the skin; these are called naked fish. Most fish are covered in a protective layer of slime (mucus).
There are four types of fish scales.
  1. Placoid scales, also called dermal denticles, are similar to teeth in that they are made of dentin covered by enamel. They are typical of sharks and rays.
  2. Ganoid scales are flat, basal-looking scales that cover a fish body with little overlapping. They are typical of gar and bichirs.
  3. Cycloid scales are small oval-shaped scales with growth rings. Bowfin and remora have cycloid scales.
  4. Ctenoid scales are similar to the cycloid scales, with growth rings. They are distinguished by spines that cover one edge. Halibut have this type of scale.
Another, less common, type of scale is the scute, which is:
  • an external shield-like bony plate, or
  • a modified, thickened scale that often is keeled or spiny, or
  • a projecting, modified (rough and strongly ridged) scale, usually associated with the lateral line, or on the caudal peduncle forming caudal keels, or along the ventral profile. Some fish, such as pineconefish, are completely or partially covered in scutes.


The vertebrae of lobe-finned fishes consist of three discrete bony elements. The vertebral arch surrounds the spinal cord, and is of broadly similar form to that found in most other vertebrates. Just beneath the arch lies a small plate-like pleurocentrum, which protects the upper surface of the notochord, and below that, a larger arch-shaped intercentrum to protect the lower border. Both of these structures are embedded within a single cylindrical mass of cartilage. A similar arrangement was found in primitive tetrapods, but, in the evolutionary line that led to reptiles (and hence, also to mammals and birds), the intercentrum became partially or wholly replaced by an enlarged pleurocentrum, which in turn became the bony vertebral body.
In most ray-finned fishes, including all teleosts, these two structures are fused with, and embedded within, a solid piece of bone superficially resembling the vertebral body of mammals. In living amphibians, there is simply a cylindrical piece of bone below the vertebral arch, with no trace of the separate elements present in the early tetrapods.
In cartilagenous fish, such as sharks, the vertebrae consist of two cartilagenous tubes. The upper tube is formed from the vertebral arches, but also includes additional cartilagenous structures filling in the gaps between the vertebrae, and so enclosing the spinal cord in an essentially continuous sheath. The lower tube surrounds the notochord, and has a complex structure, often including multiple layers of calcification.
Lampreys have vertebral arches, but nothing resembling the vertebral bodies found in all higher vertebrates. Even the arches are discontinuous, consisting of separate pieces of arch-shaped cartilage around the spinal cord in most parts of the body, changing to long strips of cartilage above and below in the tail region. Hagfishes lack a true vertebral column, and are therefore not properly considered vertebrates, but a few tiny neural arches are present in the tail

The jaw

Moray eels have two sets of jaws: the oral jaws that capture prey and the pharyngeal jaws that advances into the mouth and moves prey from the oral jaws to the esophagus for swallowing
The vertebrate jaw probably originally evolved in the Silurian period and appeared in the Placoderm fish which further diversified in the Devonian. Jaws are thought to derive from the pharyngeal arches that support the gills in fish. The two most anterior of these arches are thought to have become the jaw itself (see hyomandibula) and the hyoid arch, which braces the jaw against the braincase and increases mechanical efficiency. While there is no fossil evidence directly to support this theory, it makes sense in light of the numbers of pharyngeal arches that are visible in extant jawed (the Gnathostomes), which have seven arches, and primitive jawless vertebrates (the Agnatha), which have nine.
It is thought that the original selective advantage garnered by the jaw was not related to feeding, but to increased respiration efficiency. The jaws were used in the buccal pump (observable in modern fish and amphibians) that pumps water across the gills of fish or air into the lungs in the case of amphibians. Over evolutionary time the more familiar use of jaws (to humans), in feeding, was selected for and became a very important function in vertebrates.

Internal organs

  • The gas bladder, or swim bladder, is an internal organ that contributes to the ability of a fish to control its buoyancy, and thus to stay at the current water depth, ascend, or descend without having to waste energy in swimming. It is often absent in fast swimming fishes such as the tuna and mackerel families.
  • Certain groups of fish have modifications to allow them to hear, such as the Weberian apparatus of Ostariophysians.
  • The gills, located under the operculum, are a respiratory organ for the extraction of oxygen from water and for the excretion of carbon dioxide. They are not usually visible, but can be seen in some species, such as the frilled shark.
  • The labyrinth organ of Anabantoidei and Clariidae is used to allow the fish to extract oxygen from the air.
  • Gill rakers are bony or cartilaginous, finger-like projections off the gill arch which function in filter-feeders in retaining food organisms.
  • Electric fish are able to produce electric fields by modified muscles in their body.
  • Many fish species are hermaphrodites. Synchronous hermaphrodites possess both ovaries and testes at the same time. Sequential hermaphrodites have both types of tissue in their gonads, with one type being predominant while the fish belongs to the corresponding gender.
  • The blood circulation of fishes is called "single circuit circulatory system"

Friday, June 18, 2010

I have been getting alot of comments.

I originally started this blog just for a hobby and to keep track of my tanks.  Then as time went on I found there was a lot of information I wanted to have handy to make it easier to get answers to problems and projects.
I have been getting a lot of comments on improvements and requests for specific downloads.  I also receive many requests for advice and articles.  Long story short I am very limited with downloads and features because this is a free based blogg site.  So today I decided to add a donation button and I will see how it goes.  If it works out well I will use the funds to get a "Real" website and registered name for the

So anyway now the button is there on the top left navigation panel.  If you want to use it feel free to do so and if you don't feel free to continue normally.  Either way don't worry I will still be adding articles and features as time and technical capabilities permit..

I want to thank everyone for all of the comments and suggestions.  It is very nice to know people find some of this information useful.

Thursday, June 17, 2010



Images of API Aquarium Test Kit charts / Cards for both Salt Water and Fresh Water.

API Ammonia Test Kit Color Chart / Card

API Nitrite Color Chart / Card

API Nitrate Color Chart / Card

API PH Color Chart / Card

API Phosphate Color Chart / Card

Substrate selection - A primer

Substrate Selection - A primer

1) Looks are not everything.

1.1) When I look at an aquarium.  I see Living art.  The design of an aquarium is a direct expression of the owners creativity.  Even though many of us may not realize it, a well designed aquarium is also an expression of the owners knowledge in subjects such as Animal Behavior, Biology, Microbiology, Physics, Chemistry, & Geology.  So for now at least lets explore a little Geology and Chemestry.

1.2) Besides the stand one of the most visible components of your aquarium can be the substrate.   Whats the best substrate a person can use in an aquarium?  There is no one answer to that question.  First of all we should have an idea of which types of fish we will have.  .Different species of fish come from different environments and would be happier in a similar environment to that which they naturally inhabit.  Some hobbyists choose to set up "themed" tanks these are also known as "Aquarium Biotopes".  Basically an "Aquarium Biotope" is as if you were to go to a specific environment say a river and take a snapshot of a section of that environment.  In such a scenario you would only choose the substrate, fish, decorations and plants that are indigenous to the environment you wish to represent.  "Aquarium Biotopes" are lots of fun but can be very challenging because some species of fish and plants require very specific conditions of water quality and lighting in order to thrive.  The average hobbyist just considers the environment the fish they wish to keep comes from and tries to keep that in mind as they choose the substrate.  Most lakes and rivers have a sandy bottom.  Many species of fish enjoy digging in the substrate.  In those situations sand can be a wise choice.  Some streams and lakes have areas  with a very rocky bottom.  And fish from those environments would often prefer gravel as substrate in their tank.  Most fish enjoy a "Planted" environment or the owner might specifically wish to keep a highly "Planted" aquarium.  When growing aquatic plants, the Captation Exchange Capacity (CEC) is also an important thing to consider when choosing a substrate. CEC is the ability to adsorb positively charged nutrient ions (so high CEC is good). This means the substrate will hold nutrients and make them available for the plant roots. It should be noted however that CEC doesn’t indicate the amount of nutrients the substrate contains. Some manufacturers produce special substrates for use in planted tanks. Some are designed to be mixed with gravel or sand, whilst others can be used alone. They are usually clay-based and rich in iron and other nutrients and trace elements required by plants. A good example of a preferred substrate for planted aquariums is latterite, or a mixture of latterite and sand.  *Special Note* aquarists using UGF (Under Gravel Filtration) can only use gravel type substrates because most other choices will lead to problems in flow and dead spots throughout the substrate. Which ever substrate you may choose the general rule is to use one pound of substrate per gallon of water that the aquarium contains.

1.3) Ok so we have a general idea which fish we wish to keep and we know how much substrate we will need.  What other factors should we consider?  Substrate basically boils down to four major factors:
1.3.1) Color
1.3.2) Size
1.3.3) Reactivity to water
1.3.4) CEC

2) Lets look at the different types of substrate available then we will examine how the above factors fit into helping you decide.

2.1) No substrate - AKA Bare bottom

2.2) Glass Marbles/ Glass Disks

2.3) Gravel

2.4) Latterite

2.5) Peat

2.6) Sand

2.1.1) Introduction to Bare Bottom Tanks

Many hobbyists enjoy bare bottom tanks.  Especially those with very messy fish (Fish that present a very heavy bioload to their environment.  Some examples of fish that fit into this category are: Large fish, Predators, & Goldfish.  A hobbyist keeping these types of fish might use bare bottom tank so that they can easily identify waste material.  Many large fish tend to move things around the tank, A bare bottom tank is one way to avoid having to constantly reorganize the substrate due to the activities of such a fish.
A Bare bottom tank with a choice selection of decorations also has a very "Abstract"  "Minimalist" art look to it.which many hobbyists find attractive.  Bare Bottom is also a preferred choice in Quarantine/Hospital tanks because in addition to the features listed already it is also easier to sterilize the tank once treatment or quarantine period is completed.

2.2.1) Introduction to Glass Marbles/ Glass Disks

This is also a popular choice in Quarantine/Hospital Tanks for those who cant stand to see a bare bottomed tank because glass has a very small surface area making it very similar in features to having a bare bottom tank. 

2.3.1) Introduction to Gravel

Gravel is the most common substrate in use in fresh water aquariums.  Aquarium gravel can be as coarse as pea-sized or almost as fine as sand.  Three to four millimeters is widely considered the best size to promote optimum water flow throughout the gravel.  Gravel is available in a number of colors, and may be naturally colored or dyed.  Gravel sold specifically for use in an fresh water aquarium are chemically inert.  Some brands actually have a polymer seal to ensure they do not affect water chemistry  Gravel for aquarium use is commonly composed of quartz or other lime-free minerals. If the gravel is rough or sharp, it should not be used for bottom-dwelling fish that like to sift the substrate or dig.
For the reasons mentioned above if you get your gravel from an outdoor home and garden supply shop or Hardware Store it is very important to pay close attention to the material the gravel is made of.  For instance Marble chips, Holly Rock, Lime Stone, and Coral are all calcareous materials.  They react to water, making the water hard and of a higher PH.  This would be useful in a tank containing fish that prefer high range PH.  Such as Salt Water fish or African Cichlids. But fish that prefer average PH or even softer water will not do well with these materials as a substrate.

2.4.1) Introduction to Latterite

Laterites are clay soil types rich in iron and aluminium, formed in hot and wet tropical areas. Nearly all laterites are rusty-red because of iron oxides. Most of commercial laterite is mined from the US in areas that were tropical 200million years ago.
2.4.2) Many Aquatic supply manufacturers have thier own versions of laterite.  One of the more popular brands is by Seachem its called Flourite and comes in several colors and textures (Black Sand Flourite makes an excellent substitute for sand):

Original Flourite

Red Flourite

Black Flourite

Black "Sand" Flourite

2.5.1) Introduction to Peat

Peat, or decomposed plant matter, is used most commonly in soft water or blackwater river systems, such as those mimicking the Amazon River basin. In addition to being soft in texture and therefore suitable for demersal (bottom-dwelling) species such as Corydoras catfish, peat is reported to have a number of other beneficial functions in a freshwater aquarium. It softens water by acting as an ion exchanger, it contains substances good for plants and for the reproductive health of fishes, and can even prevent algae growth and kill microorganisms. Peat often stains the water yellow or brown due to the leaching of tannins.

2.6.1) Introduction to sand

When it comes to sand for your aquarium there are many choices. Sand is rapidly growing as a choice for aquarium substrate.  Several of the more popular choices are:: Silica (Silica – Silicon Dioxide) - Many sands used for sandblasting contain Silica. However you must be careful because not all of them are pure silica or contain silica at all.  A popular source for this type of sand is swimming pool supply outlets.  Where it is sold as "Swimming Pool Filter Sand" Silica is completely Inert in fresh water aquariums -silica sand is 99.0-99.9% SiO2
and is considered "totally insoluble" in water according to the US MSDS.  This means that it will not change the parameters of your aquarium water such as PH.  It should also be mentioned that silica is not good in a marine aquarium as it promotes the growth of marine algae.

1.2) Play Sand - (Used for sandboxes) which you can purchase at most building supply/hardware hardware stores. Many sands sold as "Play Sand" contain materials other than Silica. 

 For instance one brand of "Play Sand" by QUIKRETE® marketed as "QUIKRETE® Premium Play Sand® (No. 1113)" contains Limestone & Crushed Quartz. - If you change the water in your aquarium often then you wont notice anything but if you skip a few then the limestone can make your PH rise.

1.2.1) Play Sand and Sand Blasting sand both fit into the "Unknown" catagory and for this reason it is best to avoid them unless you are positive of exactly what they contain.
1.3) Black Beauty - this also very popular in the sand blasting industry It can be purchased online and also in hardware stores, you can sometime get this from places where sandblasting is done.  It is made from powdered iron slag (Slag is a partially vitreous  by-product  of smelting  ore to separate the metal  fraction from the unwanted fraction. It can usually be considered to be a mixture of metal oxides and silicon dioxide). 
1.3.1) Slag as mentioned is Powdered Iron slag as the name implies it contains iron which means it is not inert in either salt water or Fresh water.
1.4) Coral Sand - is sold online and in LFS.
1.4.1) Coral Coral is made by millions of tiny carnivorous (meat eating) animals called polyps. Polyps live in groups called colonies.
Each polyp builds a case of limestone around itself, using calcium from the water. It is like a house, with a floor and walls. This remains after it has died and forms a foundation for another polyp to build a house on, putting a floor on the roof of the old one. When these limestone formations increase, they are called a coral reef. As time wears on these formations die and fall apart and become natural reef coral sand that is collected the ocean.

1.5) Aragonite - also is sold online and in LFS.
1.5.1) Aragonite is a carbonate mineral, one of the two common, naturally occurring crystal forms of calcium carbonate, CaCO3 (the other form is the mineral calcite.) It is formed by biological and physical processes, including precipitation from marine and freshwater environments.

 *NOTE* Both Aragonite and Coral Sand are both calcium based so they both will increase the PH of an aquarium that contains them.  Many keepers of African cichlids and Marine fish prefer these types of sand because they need the higher PH to maintain the proper environment for thier fish.  If you are not intending to keep the above mentioned it is best to avoid these types of sand.
1.6) Black Tahitian Moon Sand - which is rumored to be made from quartz it is also is sold online and in LFS.
Quarts is inert when placed in either salt water or fresh water aquariums.

2) Appearance and preparation for use

2.1) Silica -is a very light  tan or off white in color and is very uniform and fine in grain size. It very easy to clean and provides a sharp look to an aquarium,.  It is also extremely affordable..

2.2) Play sand - just as affordable as Silica but it  is darker and less uniform in grain size & color than Silica sand. It often contains clay and other non essential materials.  This can often make it very dirty compared to Silica sand. Requires considerable cleaning and once again I stress that you make sure you know exactly what it contains.

2.3) Black Beauty Obviously quite black in color it is another affordable sand for use in aquariums.  Although as mentioned earlier it isn't really sand.  It's really not recommended for fish that root around in the substrate because by design it is very sharp. In my opinion it is one of the least suitable choices of the list.  It also should be noted that this stuff requires extensive cleaning.

2.4) Coral Sand this is one of the more expensive choices one can make.  It comes in a variety of colors including off white and a nice rosy shade. It is considerably Lighter and less uniform than most other sands. As mentioned earlier it is great for aquariums that require a high PH range. Relatively easy to clean although can be dusty.

2.5) Aragonite is is available in a wide range of colors & sizes.  It is expensive, however it costs less than Coral Sand.  Otherwise it is the same in cleaning requirements & PH buffering properties

2.6) Black Tahitian Moon Sand, is the best choice if you want black sand.  It really looks striking in an aquarium.  It varies in cleaning requirements, so be prepared some batches can require extensive cleaning.  It costs about the same as aragonite.

"So Now that you know all about sand I will tell you which I prefer and list out the "Pros" and "Cons" of my favorite.  Most of the points I contrast also apply to any sand you may choose (Except where specifically noted)."

3 ) Swimming Pool Filter Sand as Aquarium substrate

 Swimming Pool Filter Sand

 "Mystic white" Angular Pool filter sand by U.S. Silica 1-800-258-2500 it is inert and very pretty. See if you can get the large size I got standard and I like it but I think bigger grains would have been better as an after thought.

4) Pros Of Swimming Pool Filter sand in a fresh water aquarium:

4.1) It is very clean since it is made for swimming pool filtration, I lightly washed the sand the first time I set this up. On the second tank I set up with sand I didn't wash the sand at all just rinsed it once. - They both had the same settle time.

4.2) It doesn't "Compact" as much as other sands

4.3) Swimming Pool Filter sand is quite heavy it doesn't cloud up when moderately agitated. I have Balas and they are moderate substrate diggers, I'm not sure what it would be like with hardcore diggers ie: "Geo's". It wont get cloudy in any case but my concern with hardcore diggers is instead of using the siphon method I listed above you might instead actually dig in the sand using  the normal fatter end of the siphon tool to get some of the poop as I imagine fish like "Geo's" will bury some of it in their daily rooting about.

4.4) Swimming Pool Filter Sand is more specifically designed to be more "Angular" than other types of sand.
This is so that it can trap debris more effectively.  The benefit in an aquarium is that it has more surface area which in turn provides more colonization surface for beneficial bacteria.  It is a point of contention by some people that this angularity is bad for fish with soft mouths.  Throughout my research and my 2 years of use with this product I have never actually found any supporting evidence to this claim.

4.5) The color is very attractive

4.6) Completely Inert in fresh water aquariums -silica sand is 99.0 - 99.9% SiO2 (Silica – Silicon Dioxide)
and is considered "totally insoluble" in water according to the US MSDS.

4.7) Can be mixed with other substrate materials to achieve what is considered by some to be the perfect mixture for a planted aquarium. 

5) Maintenance in an aquarium with sand substrate.

Having sand in an aquarium is very similar to bare bottom when it comes to maintenance, Many sand owners with quartz based sand report having no trouble vacuuming the substrate just as they normally would with gravel.  However some others as well as most "Silica" based sand owners report having trouble vacuming their substrate.  A lot of sand owners solve this issue by purchasing a very narrow gravel vac.  I have learned over the years there is a simpler method.
Basically you Remove the larger tube from the hose.  Use the hose by itself and lightly skim the surface  Making sure you don't touch the sand. In time with practice you will find the right height to keep siphon to just get the poop and muck and leave the sand in tact.

   (Image#1) Dont Use larger Portion of tube for sand

  (Image #2) First Start siphon as you normally would.

  (Image #3) Next Disconnect Larger tube from hose

   (Image #4) Now hover over debris but do not touch surface of sand.

  (Image #5) With a little practice you will find the perfect height to get the degris and leave the sand in tack (Well most of it anyway)

*Note*If you have a planted aquarium especially with delicate leaves be very careful using the above method, The suction on the tube is increased dramatically when you remove the wider portion of the assembly and may snatch plants if not watched closely.
You will find if you grade your substrate the poop and ditrus will collect in specific areas according to the currents in your tank, just like it does when you have a bare bottom tank.

5) "Cons" Of Swimming Pool Filter sand in a fresh water aquarium:

5.1) Many Complain that it is more difficult to manage rooted plants in an aquarium that has sand as a substrate
5.1.1)  Completely Inert in fresh water aquariums -silica sand is 99.0-99.9% SiO2 (Silica – Silicon Dioxide) and is considered "totally insoluble" in water according to the US MSDS.Thus when used alone as a substrate it it lacks other minerals such as iron that are important to plant roots!

5.2) Dirt and debris are more visible especially with white sand.

5.2.1) This means it must be cleaned more frequently in order to keep the appearance of a clean tank even though there is the same amount of debris as other types of substrate.

5.3) Does not work with Under Gravel Filtration.

5.4) Extra care must be taken in Acrylic aquariums to guard against excessive scratching.

5.5) Some complain that sand can create anaerobic pockets of toxic gas in the aquarium if the sand becomes compacted and is not frequently "Stirred"

Examples: Recommended substrate choices
Type of AquariumRecommended substrate material
General community tankNatural pea sized-gravel or pure silica sand
Planted tankFine lime-free gravel and/or nutrient substrate additive ie: Peat, laterite
Soft water fishesLime-free gravel, Pure silica sand, or Peat
Cichlids from hard water, Marine Aquariums and invertebratesMarble Chips, Aragonite or coral sand
Breeding tanksNo substrate or thin layer of silica sand
Quarantine/Hospital tanksNo substrate, Glass Marbles, or Glass Disks

6) My thoughts on anaerobic pockets.

Type 2 (Ref # 2.1.2) is most common and pretty harmless. In fact there is a form of filtration called "Plenum" in which one deliberately creates an anaerobic region at the bottom of the tank under the sand so that anaerobic bacteria can process nitrates in that space. Users of that type of filtration state that the by product of this process is Nitrogen gas which simply leaves the tank through the surface not effecting fish at all.
There are two types of gas that in theory can be formed anaerobically in an aquarium:

3.1) Types of  anaerobic pocket gas
3.1.1) If rotten egg odor = Hydrogen sulfides gas. In high concentrations this can wipe out a tank.
3.1.2) If no odor = Nitrogen gas. Nitrate are anaerobically reduced by bacteria into nitrogen gas.

Related Links On This Blog You may also like:

135 Gallon Fresh Water Preditor (Monster Fish) tank : Features details on when we switched the 135 Gallon Fresh Water Aquarium to Swimming Pool Filter Sand.