Pictures some of the Most Beautiful Fish

most beautiful fish

How to Setup Saltwater Tank

The purpose of this article is mainly to discuss and serve as a guide for all saltwater novices to help get started with the new fledgling hobby. Listed below is the step-by-step walkthroughs including general FAQs containing detailed description on How to Setup Saltwater Tank from the beginning up till the end.

STEP 1: Planning the whole aquarium system
  • Performing market survey on equipment and other fish supplies by visiting different aquarium stores mainly to focus on price comparison.
  • Select the type of marine fish for your aquarium, find out as much information as possible to learn about their behavior and the best way to care for them.

STEP 2: Choosing best placement and design of the tank
  • Determine fish tank size based on the species that you intend to keep. (Note that for a decent saltwater setup, 55-gallon tank should be the minimum size.
  • Ask yourself whether you want it to be a single-species tank or a community tank. If you are going for the latter option, make sure you check out as well on compatibility issue among different fish species.
  • Find a suitable location for your aquarium.

aquarium filter saltwater setup
STEP 3: Buying accessories and tank supplies
  • Make a list of all the equipment and supplies needed for your saltwater fish tank. The selection of items prepared here can be referred to as a simple guide. If you decide not to shop for individual products, you can instead opt for saltwater aquarium starter kit that should contain all the basic and necessary items. Once you have finalized the list, you can then head over to aquarium stores in order to make the purchase.
  1. Aquarium Stand
  2. Hood/Cover
  3. Tank Background
  4. Lighting
  5. Live rock
  6. Substrate (crushed coral or sand)
  7. Protein Skimmer
  8. Aquarium filter
  9. Filter Media (carbon, sponges, bio-balls)
  10. Thermometer
  11. Heater
  12. Hydrometer
  13. Water test kits
  14. Aquarium Salt
  15. Dechlorinator and water conditioner
  16. Net
  17. Water buckets
  18. Mini Hospital Tank
  19. Gravel vacuum
  20. Cleaning pad
  21. Fish foods

STEP 4: The setting up process
  • Tank cleaning
  • Put on the tank background
  • Setup the stand to place the fish tank
  • Install all the accessories like filter, heater, protein skimmer that you’ve bought earlier

placing live rock
STEP 5: Preparing the saltwater
  • Fill the aquarium with filtered clean tap water until about one quarter full and then check for any leakage
  • Add in conditioner to treat the water and then followed by aquarium salt
  • Use hydrometer to measure the salinity (to target specific gravity of 1.022 to 1.026)
  • Add in sand and crushed corals from established saltwater tank in order to introduce beneficial bacteria
  • Put in some cured live rock as well and then work on the aquascaping
  • Top up water to fill up the tank and then readjust again the salinity level

starter marine fish
STEP 6: Using starter fish to jump start the nitrogen cycle
  • Introduce some starter saltwater fish in which a pair of Damselfish (Family Pomacentridae) will do.
  • Run the system and let it cycle for at least 3 weeks minimum
  • Conduct periodic checking on the aquarium water to monitor ammonia, nitrites and nitrates level
  • Check as well on pH and alkalinity (pH 8.0 to 8.4)
  • Perform water changes if test parameters out of the desired test range
  • Monitor as well on the health of your starter fish

Finally when the system stabilizes, the final part is adding your choice of saltwater pet fish. As you pick up experience along the way, you can then consider moving on to having marine invertebrates and also setting up a coral tank.

Related topic: How to eliminate aquarium noise problem?



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External Aquarium Power Filter

External Aquarium Power Filter can be installed either to Saltwater Marine Tank or even Freshwater Aquarium Setup in order to remove solid waste from the water. It can function either through mechanical means by removing and trapping suspended particles, chemically by providing a housing for chemical media like activated carbon, or even by biological means whereby sponges or bio-balls placed in the filter compartment will be a place for growth of ammonia removing bacteria.

There are basically two different types of external aquarium power filter, one, which is the hang-on type, and another is the canister filter. What differentiates between both types depend on the filtration capacity to treat higher gallons of water per hour and basically the canister type is more powerful compared to hang-on filter. External filter is a preferred option among aquarium fish hobbyist and it’s a popular choice especially for large community tanks. Since it is placed outside of the aquarium, maintenance work can be simplified and servicing can be performed with ease without worry of contaminating the water when you take out the filter media.

Perhaps the only thing you have to be careful when using external power filter is to watch out whether strong output of water may cause certain small-sized fish like neon tetra, hatchet fish or guppy to lose balance in the water especially for mini aquariums. Therefore make sure that you check with the pet store salesperson before making your purchase so that you don’t oversize your external filter to be too big, above the maximum filtration capacity needed. Other than that, steps must also be taken to ensure that these fish do not get sucked in to the tube due to the high inflow of aquarium water. Most of the time, the filter purchase comes with it’s own inlet tube block or strainer which must be fixed according to the original buildup and not discard the parts aside as what most people always do.

external aquarium power filterToday, there are quite a number of popular brands like Fluval, Eheim, Hagen, just to name a few. They all vary in filtration capacity made for different aquarium tank size while some are even sold together with filter media so that the aquarium owner can straight plug it in and run. Some options also include spray bar at the output line so that this will help in water distribution and also contribute towards higher aeration. Based on my experience, external power filter is definitely the best option for your aquarium fish tank.



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Winterizing Goldfish in Ponds

One of the challenging aspects of raising goldfish in outdoor ponds is how to ensure that they survive the critical period during winter. Usually best practices involve early preparations and right at the start of autumn, when temperature begins to dip lower and daylight hours become shorten, the goldfish will generally be rendered less active and as such will put on weight. Therefore during this period, it is a good idea to reduce the amount of food feed to your fish so that they maintain a certain balanced weight.

By late fall, the pond must be thoroughly cleaned to ensure that the water is crystal clear. Debris accumulating at the bottom of the pond must be removed because the intention is to avoid buildup of harmful gases that will remain trapped beneath the ice surface which has nowhere to escape and this will lead to the demise of your goldfish. Try to increase the frequency of water changes and at the same thing avoid wide fluctuations in pH and other water parameters. When the night turns colder, you can even consider using plastic sheeting supported by a solid frame in order to cover the pond surface so that this will help to trap the heat and maintain water temperature to prevent sudden temperature shock causing stress to your goldfish.

When the water temperature starts to approach the freezing level (about few degrees close to about zero Celsius), pond aeration must be immediately stopped so that you don’t risk freezing the whole pond. This will ensure formation of ice only at the surface while your goldfish remains safe underneath it. All the other pond accessories like ultraviolet sterilizer and filters can actually be removed for storage while heater can be left at the pond as a precaution in case you will need to operate it. During the hibernation period, goldfish will start to lose their body weight and their immune system will become weak but there is nothing to worry about because usually they will survive through the winter. As long as the water quality is properly maintained and cleaned before the top surface freezes up, everything should be fine.

At the end of the winter, when temperature starts to rise and the ice begins to melt, immediately follow up with small amount of water changes and give the pond a good cleanup. The quantity of food that you feed to your goldfish should be gradually increased, and during this time, offer some nutritious live foods for them to regain back the lost weight. The beginning of spring is also a good time for goldfish breeding to take place as the natural rise in water temperature will induce spawning.

More about caring for pet goldfish:
» Goldfish health
» Best goldfish care
» Other interesting facts
» Putting goldfish in community tanks



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Benefits of Marine Live Rock

marine live rockMarine Live Rock placed in saltwater tank actually functions as a good biological filter. It will provide a platform to host the growth of beneficial bacteria while at the same time contributes towards aquascaping. The nitryfying bacteria will basically help to convert ammonia into nitrites and nitrates which are less harmful and thus this will enhance the water quality, making it more suitable for your saltwater fish. Unlike tank undergravel filter which may clogged up over time, these marine live rocks does need the same routine maintenance cleaning to be carried out at all. Current practice by saltwater aquarium pet owners is to fill at least one-third of their marine tanks with this type of setup to create a well-balanced natural ecosystem that will be able to sustain itself.

Other than the benefits mentioned above, having marine live rock will also provide shelter for your fish and invertebrates. With the natural-looking surrounding, it will help towards getting newly introduced fish acclimatize faster to their new aquarium tank environment and they will not be easily stressed out as well. Apart from that, growth of algae on the surface of live rock could also provide substrate for proliferation of worms and copepods, which are actually source of readily available live foods to be consumed by your marine fish. Other than that, rocks will also act as a base for formation of soft corals, which will definitely enhance the overall natural beauty of your aquarium.

Buying your choice of live rock should not be difficult, as it is readily available in established local pet stores. Before making your purchase, it should be a good practice to check the source of supply and also confirm with the seller whether these rocks are “cured” or “uncured”. Although priced much cheaper, uncured rock will basically mean you will need to commit extra hours cleaning the rock of decomposed materials and bearing with the stench before you can place into your aquarium. However, for cured rocks, all these cleaning processes have been done for you and therefore, all you need to do is to conduct a short rinse and these cured rocks can then be easily introduced to your marine tank. There are also special request types of live rock harvested from different location in deep sea but be prepared to pay heavy price to acquire it.
More about Reef Ready Aquarium and Types of Live Rocks



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Goldfish Health Related FAQs

healthy goldfishThere is no doubt keeping your Goldfish healthy is the most important aspect of fish keeping hobby. Being a hobbyist myself, I've come across different scenarios and conditions and from there, I've learned how to deal with the problems. The blog post here is meant to share some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to your goldfish’s health. Hopefully this will help to enrich your knowledge so that you are better prepared to face the challenges ahead.

Q: I noticed there are pockets of air bubbles trapped in the poop. How do I prevent this and what are the adverse health effects that the condition can cause?

A: Goldfish is a very greedy fish and they often show extraordinary appetite during feeding time. Do you notice that when you drop your floating fish food into the water, all of them will try to gobble up the food as soon as possible before the other fish managed to grab it? This is made even harder for those fancy varieties of goldfish with hood covering their head such as ranchu and oranda whereby they will have difficulties trying to navigate their way to grab the food and in the process, swallowed air leading to accumulation of air pockets found in the poop. These air pockets are known to be one of the causes of swim bladder disorder although there are other contributing factors as well. To prevent this from happening, what you can do is to change their diet to use different types of sinking pellet or combine with a mix of live foods. Sometimes feeding your goldfish with peas can also help to get rid of the trapped air pockets.

Q: I have difficulty maintaining the right 6.5 – 7.0 pH value. Will that cause my goldfish to be sick?

A: Having difficulty maintaining the pH at the desired range can be quite difficult especially if you have goldfish tank. The reason why is because being a heavy eater, goldfish usually discharge high amount of waste to the water and cause the pH value to rise. This is made even more difficult for newly setup tank whereby beneficial bacteria population has not yet fully established. Sometimes, you might see the pH goes way up to 8.5 but there is actually nothing to worry about. The fish is highly adaptable to changes in water parameters and going above the range does not necessarily mean they will fall sick. As long as it doesn’t go up further than that, and you constantly check the ammonia level using pH test kit, everything should be fine. Sometimes instead of using a pH adjuster sold at pet stores, the best solution is to conduct 20% water change to bring down the value.

Q: The bright red color of my goldfish has turned into orange pale color. Is that a sign that the goldfish might be sick?

A: Contrary to common belief, losing natural colors does not necessarily mean that the fish is sick. In fact, one of the common problems causing color change is because the fish is not getting enough sunlight exposure. Most goldfish breeders actually kept their special prize winning fish in outdoor ponds and not indoor as one would expect. Being kept outdoor, the fish not only has more room to swim and grow but they are also exposed to sunlight giving them to chance to develop their true natural colors. Food and nutrition is also another aspect related to color change and if your goldfish does not get the right balanced diet, it tends to lose color overtime. Always provide good mix comprising different variety of dried and live foods for your goldfish.

Q: My goldfish is getting too fat, how do I address the weight problem?

A: First thing first, do not overfeed. Most aquarium owners have the wrong perception that goldfish needs a lot of food to stay healthy. This is definitely not true because as long as there is food, the fish will try to finish all of it and everything that they can find. Overfeeding always lead to weight problem and this will adversely affect the health of your goldfish. Feeding twice a day is actually more than enough and the amount of food that you put in should be finished in about 2 minutes time. Use the same measurement to adjust the quantity of food to put in and reduce the amount if you notice your goldfish starts to put on weight.

Certain goldfish varieties like the pearlscale (above picture) has a round shaped appearance and thus do not mistaken this natural condition as being fat.

At times if you notice that the body suddenly become bloated with raised scales, then the condition on what you are seeing is actually related to dropsy. In this case, it is actually a common lethal aquarium fish disease affecting goldfish. Learn about best way to care for your goldfish.



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How to Detect Fish Internal Parasites

Fish Internal Parasites can be difficult to deal with and usually the symptoms only showed up late towards the advanced stage on the development of the fish disease. By the time the aquarium owner realized about it, it might be too late to deal with the problem. Therefore, it is very important that as a responsible owner, you should make sure that you always spend some time everyday to carefully observe your fish and look for abnormal signs that may be the result or cause of fish disease.

Fish suffering from internal parasites can be identified by the fecal discharge, which is usually white in color and appears as long transparent trailing string. Some might even show more severe symptoms with a sunken or bloated belly and usually the fish often become lethargic with huge drop in appetite. Sometimes the most severe cases even have the poop containing tiny whitish colored worms that are still alive.

Although there was not any conclusive evidence to pinpoint the exact source that could cause this fish internal parasites, I always believe it is all related to the live food that you feed to your fish. Most of these contaminated live foods are usually tubifex or bloodworms that were obtained from contaminated waters at drains or sludge area whereby there were presence of these parasites. Therefore it is advisable that you get your live foods from reliable pet stores and check carefully with the salesperson the source of supply. That is why some aquarist even go up to the extent of ensuring continuous supply of live foods by cultivating their own microworms.

Thankfully despite all the complications, there are couples of choice of treatments to deal with the internal parasites. I was told that malachite green can be an effective form of treatment but somehow I feel that this is not sufficient. The best way to reach towards the source of problem is to supply your affected fish with medicated food that contains antibiotics. I wouldn’t recommend any particular brand here but basically all the commercial brands produced by top manufacturers should be reliable to come up with the right formulation. If everything fails, hopefully there is still time left for you to bring your pet to the veterinarian for treatment.

Other Aquarium Fish Disease: Lice and Anchor Worm External Parasite



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Pleco Algae Eater

When I first saw Pleco, I was amazed to see a weird looking creature clinging onto the aquarium surface and then moving vertically with its suction cup. What I didn’t realize is that it is actually part of the catfish family and is considered a freshwater tropical fish itself. Also known as sucker fish, pleco is often left unattended in the aquarium fending for itself because the main reason that aquarist put it there is because of its characteristics of a good cleaner that get rid of uneaten food plus waste and most important of all, as Algae Eater.

Soon I begin to research and read up a lot of articles regarding this fish species and I managed to learn a great deal about them through my own experience raising pleco in my community aquarium as well. Pleco originated from the rivers of South America and domesticated in home aquariums as pets. They are an extremely efficient algae eater because once I had a problem dealing with sudden bloom of algae growth in my aquarium and soon after I introduced the fish, all the sides and corners were swept clean of algae.

Other than feeding only on algae alone, pleco will eat and accept virtually anything that you put into the aquarium and left as waste. They are considered one of the best companions for my discus tank and later part moved it to my large community aquarium. Being hardy, they will survive even the toughest water condition not suitable for normal fish while sometimes even when I fail to treat the water properly resulting with the death of my tetra, they will still live through without developing any health problem. As such, they are also considered one of the best starter fish when you first setup your tropical aquarium.

The one that I had was a small size pleco which I bought when it was young at three inches long and it grew to almost one feet in length with body thickness about two inches. Pleco is very territorial and in any community tank, there can only be one type of this fish because it will pick and chase after the other if a newcomer is introduced to the tank. I never took the effort to breed my pleco but the one that I had actually lasted and survive for two years before I decided to give it away to a friend involved in fish breeding business.

common, clown, gold nugget pleco
Nowadays, there are different types of pleco sold in aquarium stores. Most common are normal pleco, which exhibits a mix of dark and light brown patch all over the body while the clown pleco appears with a stripe pattern. There’s even a variety of interesting greenish colored pleco with yellow spots appearing on the body which is also known as gold nugget pleco. This special variety is highly sought after because of their beautiful mix of coloration and they also make excellent tank mates. Another thing that you should aware of is that plecos are sometimes identified using numbers beginning with the L prefix such as L018, L168, L204 and so forth until a scientific name is available to classify the different species. Different catfish family which are also algae eater include bristlenose, otocinclus and corydoras catfish.



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Tank Filter Media

Tank Filter Media acts as a trap for your aquarium filter to remove solid waste particles out from the water to achieve crystal clear appearance. There are quite a number of different types of filter media available in pet stores these days and each of them perform their own function and have their own mechanism to achieve solid removal. Basically there are 3 categories in which they can be grouped into mainly biological media, mechanical media and chemical media.

sponge filter mediaMechanical media is the simplest of all and it works based on the direct principal whereby larger sized molecules will not be able to pass through a certain holes or barrier and thus trapped in between. The filter media is often measured by pore size and generally the finer it is the better for it to trap free moving particles. However, there is always a certain working limit you might want to take into consideration here because too fine pore size will actually get clogged up easily and restrict movements or flow of aquarium water. Mechanical tank filter media is often used combined with multiple layers of different materials starting with the larger pore sized on top and moving further downwards to the bottom, the media pore size gets even finer. Surface area is also another consideration you might want to take into account here and basically most commonly used mechanical tank filter media available in the market are like sponge, foam block, polyester floss/fiber and scour pad.


filter media biologicalBiological filter media generally works on the principal whereby its main purpose is to provide wide surface area for growth of beneficial bacteria. It actually encourages and provides a place for these bacteria to populate, as it will help to breakdown large toxic waste into less harmful chemical. As opposed to common myth saying that the bacteria live in anaerobic environment, this is actually not true because nitrifying bacteria relies on oxygen rich water for growth and if the biological tank filter media ever get clogged up, accumulated waste will lead to anaerobic condition and will kill them instead. Therefore when you are using these type of materials for your home aquarium, make sure that the filter media is periodically rinsed to ensure it is not clogged up but at the same time, leave some sticky waste attached so that bacteria will again repopulate. Some of the most popular and widely accepted aquarium filter media based on this biological removal concept are bio-balls, ceramic rings and canister media.


filter activated carbonFinally, the most expensive and somewhat risky option is the Chemical filter media. Usually carbon pouch, chemical gels and phosphate pads are the most commonly available options for aquarium filter based on the chemical filtration principle. These materials offer the same capability just like biological media does on removal of ammonia, nitrite and nitrates. To certain extent, most of the time, chemical pads are only used for the sole purpose of removing fish medication that you’ve added in earlier for treatment of disease or else, I would not recommend to using these types of chemical aquarium tank filter media mainly because of cost related issues. Other than that, based on my own experience certain cheap carbon pouch brands are also known to alter the pH value of the water and thus you also taking the risk of affecting the health of your fish and therefore more time to readjust back the pH balance.



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Setup Marine Invertebrates Tank

marine coral invertebrate tank

Caring for your marine invertebrates is the most challenging aspect of maintaining your saltwater aquarium setup. They are very sensitive towards changes in water chemistry and when it comes to feeding, it is extremely difficult because you have to ensure that their main source of food is available. Certain invertebrates are incompatible with one another while the fish will often make a good meal out of them. It is therefore almost impossible to setup a marine tank to have both the fish and invertebrates to coexist together and thus most marine hobbyist decided to have an invertebrate-only setup. There are exceptions of course, like the anemone, which will establish symbiotic relationship with clownfish.

To start off with your invertebrate aquarium, first you must need at least a 55-gallon tank size with the height dimension of the tank must not be over 2 feet. This means that you will need a fairly long and shallow aquarium so that light will be able to penetrate through right to the bottom while avoiding yourself the trouble reaching the base when doing water changes. A recommended marine lighting to use should involve halide tubing known for producing the best intensity. This will help to contribute towards the growth of zooxanthellae which is actually a micro-algae that carries out photosynthesis while at the same time produces organic substances providing food for itself and the host (invertebrates).

The filtration system is also another aspect that you should look into. Basically what you will need is a power filter and pump that is strong enough to ensure crystal clear water and at the same time generate high output of water, at least 2 times the volume of the aquarium water. Some experts also recommend a counter flow setup involving two different pumps located at both ends of the aquarium so that it will mimic the natural flow condition just like in the ocean. Protein skimmer is also another necessity and needless to mention as well that water test kits are the most crucial accessories to have.

It’s quite difficult to identify all the invertebrates over here since they all exist and form a very diverse population but based on my current understanding and knowledge, there are quite a few, which I’ve come to know like the anemones, sponges and starfish. What makes it exciting actually involves the challenge of learning through the whole process, start from acclimatizing your invertebrates to your tank and then working towards ensuring their survival and healthy growth. For certain people who just don’t have time to commit towards such demanding process especially novices, it would be a good idea to engage the help of a company providing aquarium services.

Freshwater invertebrates: fiddler crab and freshwater shrimp
Learn how to set up a truly natural ecosystem by selecting invertebrate-compatible marine fish



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Goldfish Reproduction

Goldfish will spawn on its own whether it is housed in outdoor ponds or in home aquarium as long as you are able to provide perfect living conditions. Studying Goldfish Reproduction is an interesting subject because during the courtship affair, usually it will involve a lot of water splashing and then followed by releasing of eggs that will adhere to the surface that it will come into contact with.

To provide an ideal aquarium environment for the fish to spawn, it is best that the water should be crystal clear and clean, fresh from water changes and the tank bottom should be bare without sands or gravel. A recommended breeding tank should have presence of some live aquarium plants, which you can purchase in bundles from pet stores and then introduced to the tank just for the purpose of spawning.

Once everything is ready, you can start by placing at least one to two mature male goldfish together with a female in the breeding tank. Sometimes, selection is not necessarily needed because it can be quite difficult to find out the gender of the fish and usually placing all them together in the tank and let natural process taking place is good enough as it will ensure there is at least one breeding pair. The water temperature must be maintained cooler than normal aquarium setup for goldfish which is at least 2 – 3 degree Celsius lower than what you normally control in your tank. Usually based on my own experience, 16-degree Celsius should be sufficient and ideal to induce spawning to take place.

During the intended reproduction period, avoid heavy feeding and instead introduce some live foods like bloodworms to encourage your goldfish to breed. Once the chasing begins which usually happens early in the morning, you will find small tiny blobs of round-shaped eggs scattered everywhere in the tank. You should immediately remove the parents in order to ensure high survival of the eggs because goldfish are known to consume even their own eggs. A single female goldfish can produce close to several thousands of offspring at once and therefore do expect to obtain a large brood of fish fry in single spawn.

goldfish reproductionGoldfish eggs and fry development
After you have separated the parents, you should use an aquarium heater to bring up the water temperature once again back to normal (about 18 to 21 degree Celsius). Under this condition, the eggs will start to hatch in about 3 to 4 days and the tiny fry that emerge will cling on to the aquarium surface with its yolk sac still attached to its body. During this period, you should start preparing foods for them by getting ready your brine shrimp, which is considered, to best feed with high nutritional content. If properly cared for, the goldfish fry should achieve maturity in about 4 to 5 months period and start to develop colors going into the 6th month. During the fry development stage, make sure the water is periodically checked in order to obtain good water quality. (The above image showing fry at 1 day old moving to 2 weeks old and finally at 3 months old.)



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Unique Fish Bowls

unique fish bowlsI was never like the idea when it comes to using fish bowls to house your pet, but when I saw these specially designed and creatively done Unique Fish Bowls, I have nothing but praises and admiration and it began to change my thoughts. Nowadays, there are quite a number of these miniature small aquariums making its way to pet stores attracting attention of fish lovers even myself. Some of the most impressive designs which I’ve seen so far is the hanging fish bowl which is wall mounted like a picture frame or dangling like a lamp (insert picture) which can accommodate not more than 2 gallons of water while another is the teacup small bowls shaped just like any normal cups.

Most people frowned upon this unique fish bowls idea largely due to the fact that with tight living space, you are actually suffocating and limiting growth of the fish, which is seen as cruelty to pets. I would definitely go along with this idea as well but however, owing one of these mini aquarium is actually possible if you take the extra effort to maintain perfect water quality and selecting the right fish to house in it. With such limited living space, there is no other fish species suitable to live in it except for betta fish which do not have such tight requirements because of their natural characteristic that is able to live in oxygen-poor water. Based on wikipedia references, unlike any other normal fish species, which relies on dissolved oxygen introduced into the water, betta actually has a special labyrinth organ in their heads that allows them to take oxygen directly from the atmosphere. Thus, just like what I’ve experienced before, they would actually make a suitable pet to live in your unique fish bowls.

The water changing routine schedule has to be followed closely without fail. Even if I reach home late after work, I took the effort to change the water and making sure the water stays clear without signs of cloudiness. I even bought a small-sized aquarium pump that is able to generate gentle aeration to the water surface just to make sure that there is sufficient gas exchange. Even though I know that the betta fish does not need further than that, providing something extra doesn’t carry any harm at all. In fact, with such small volume of water, I do not have any problem doing regular water changes at all because the whole process took less than 15 minutes. If you are willing to commit your time to maintain good water quality, then these unique fish bowls should be considered as a viable option to try on something different for your pets and make house decoration interesting and exciting.

Related topic: How to setup your own tropical aquarium



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Tropical Aquarium Setup

A Tropical Aquarium basically refers to a biotope or community of small ecosystem that resembles the natural environment and physical condition found in tropical regions located near the earth equator such as the amazon river in South America, some parts of Africa and Asia. The aquarium setup is created as such comprising all the native plants and fish species similar just like in the natural habitat itself. There are different types of tropical aquarium fish popular among fish hobbyist like guppy, platy, swordtail, discus, angelfish, silver dollar, neon fish while aquarium plants are usually centered around java fern, java moss, ludwigia and anubias.

If you intend to create your very own home aquarium setup that based on this biotope, first you must understand some of the major requirements that define a tropical aquarium. One of the characteristics, is that the water temperature usually falls within the 24 to 30 deg Celsius range. Another important consideration is that tropical regions receive natural sunlight all year round and thus be prepared to spend a proper lighting for your aquarium as well on top of the tank heater to maintain the desired water temperature. The tropical aquarium setup can be either freshwater or saltwater depending on which types of fish and live plants that you prefer as long as the two requirements on lighting and temperature are met.

tropical aquariumUsually the best aquarium tank size should be at least 50 gallons minimum so that it can accommodate different types of plants including the fish while at the same time maintain good water quality. The base of the aquarium should be made up of fine sands with mix of medium sized gravel as a substrate and it is also desirable to put in some driftwood to accommodate the growth of live plants so that the roots have place to anchor on. This setup works very well for certain tropical fish species especially neon tetra which prefer well-planted tank for a natural hiding place.

Maintenance for a tropical aquarium should be fairly straightforward. Basically water quality should be soft water and one thing you should watch out for is algae bloom because the tank receives ample amount of lighting. Since you have live plants in it, the dense vegetation will ensure that the water is rich in oxygen and this also helps to purify and remove waste. Sometimes having a pleco is also beneficial in the sense that you don’t have to spend your time, scrapping off the algae growth as they will help to clean the tank. Finally having a good and powerful aquarium filter will also cut down the amount of time needed for tank maintenance.

Further read up on tropical tank setup by studying fish compatibility.
Interested in marine tropical aquarium? Find out about having saltwater angelfish as a pet.



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Platy Care and Breeding

platysPlaty is a tropical freshwater fish that belongs to the same group or family of fish (Peociliidae) similar to the swordtail. Because of that, both species can actually interbreed with each other if placed in the same aquarium fish tank. Platy exists in different colors from orange to red while some has a mix of yellow shades with some black speckles. Due to crossbreeding, nowadays there is even albino platy with red colored eyes.

The fish is relatively easy to look after because of their hardy nature, which can tolerate wide range of water parameters. The condition for them to live in should be similar like those provided for any freshwater tropical fish whereby temperature is around 24 to 28deg Celsius while pH can be within 6 to 8. In terms of tolerance to high nitrite and nitrate levels, they can withstand fluctuations much better than any other fish and because of that, platies are always used as starter fish for beginner's tank.

Breeding platies are rather straight forward and most of the time, it will happen on its own without your intervention and provided that the living condition is at its best with good water quality and huge tank space area. A good practice to successfully breed the fish is by outnumbering the males with females using ratio of 1 to 3, meaning that let’s say if you have 2 male platies, the number of females should be 6. This way, it will ensure that there is no in-fighting or occurrences whereby the male will chase the female platy until it become exhausted as this could be life-threatening to your pet fish.

A reliable method of determining whether you have a male and female platy is by looking at the anal fin. A female platy would have the fin fully opened while for male platy, the fin is closed to become a long straight pointy fin called gonopodium, which is used to inseminate the female fish. Pregnant female platy can be easily identified by looking at the size of the belly, which begins to darken at the area right above the anal fin.

Platies are live-bearers meaning that the fish doesn’t lay eggs and will release free swimming fry. Usually the pregnancy period can be anywhere between 3 to 4 weeks and during this period, the fry will actually consume the yolk sac and become fully developed in the womb of its mother. Platies are notorious for eating their own babies and in order to ensure that the fry have high survival rate, you can actually overcome this by setting up an aquarium tank full of plants and vegetation to provide a good hiding spot. Predation is a natural process but if you want to ensure that every single fry survive, you can use a fish breeding trap or hatchery which has a compartment to separate the fry.

Caring for platy fish fry can be extremely easy. By the time, they are born, the size is anywhere between a quarter to half centimeter and they are known to be an active swimmer. Once they are released into the water from their mother’s womb, they will immediately dash to a hiding spot and will swim away if there’s any movement of any object approaching them. These free-swimming fish fry will readily accept any food you feed to them.

You can either soak your normal fish food with water and then crushed it until it becomes diluted powder or you can use hard-boiled egg yolk. These days, there are even liquid fry foods, which you can buy from aquarium pet stores and all you have to do is to add a drop of the liquid into the water. Despite the availability, the recommended nutrition should still come from brine shrimp nauplii if you intend to provide the best for your pet. Finally if everything is well taken care of, the young fish fry should achieve full-grown size in about 4 and a half months to begin another cycle of breeding.

Updated February 2014
One interesting question sent in by a reader of All About Aquarium Fish which thought would be best to share it here

Question: Hi, I was looking up some info about platies. Though my question was partially answered by the information article I still seek further clarification. I have two full grown females that were purchased eleven months ago. One, (red wag) has given birth once that I know of. The other (yellow with black stripes on tail fin) is currently in the midst of her third known pregnancy. I currently have six surviving fry of various sizes. I saw a reference to around four months old and they are old enough to breed. Is that correct? Also, on average about how often could very active platies breed in a year?? My tank info if interested is: 55 gallon tank, three algae eaters (smaller varieties currently 2.5 to 3.5in., three red blue tetra, two black skirt tetra, four full grown, one juvenile, and five fry platy. I love my tank and my fish. They are very entertaining. Thank you for your time.

Answer: Based on my own experience, female platies are able to conceive by the time they are 4 months old. Few interesting facts about platy breeding that I want to add further.

1) Depending on age and size, female platies generally give birth to fry numbering between 20 to 40. Average adult, I would say about 30. Note: Young female platy at 4 months old can only give birth to about 3 - 5 fish fry from their small belly. Try to observe carefully

2) Platies mature faster when placed in a tank together with the other larger adult platies. Make sure your food is sufficient, enough for everyone. They get influenced by the actions of the older fish. I hope you get what I mean here... the mating dance
Related Topic: Learn how to identify & naming different platy types



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Symptoms of Sick Fish

symptoms of sick fishAs an aquarist, it is very important that you monitor and ensure that your fish stays healthy. Among the common mistake made by aquarium owners is slow to react to early signs and warning of disease and when they finally realize that something is really wrong and start to take action, it might have been too late.

Sometimes by just doing some simple observations, you can learn a great deal and knowledge and probably your fast action would have saved the life of your fish. There are several signs and condition listed below which you can use to determine whether something is not right with your pet.

Among the Symptoms of Sick Fish are:
1) Abnormal behavior – Fish will easily get scared or stressed out. If at normal times, they will gladly approach you when you move closer to the aquarium, but this time round, they decided to find a place to hide

2) Unusual movement and activity– Does it swim in an erratic manner? Flashing and scratching on aquarium surface? Does the fish find it hard to maintain balance in the water?

3) Acceptance of food – Not eating and with reduced appetite leading to weight loss.

4) Fish color – Usually you will find fading in the color of your sick fish. For certain fish like neon fish, the color could become light and pale while other species like discus, it will instead turn black overall on the whole body and you will know it’s already sick

5) Breathing right below the water surface – this is a common symptom, which might be telling you that the water condition is poor. Usually high level of nitrate (about 300 ppm) will cause this symptom. (Read more on Nitrogen Cycle)

6) Clamped fins – The fins are not stretched out and wide open, as it normally will.

7) Other symptoms – appearance of tiny white spots (ich), holes in the head, pop-eye, raised scales, open wounds on the body, red veins on the fins, cotton like material on the gills, rotting fins

Finally, as a responsible pet owners, not only should you ensure that the living condition such as water quality is alright but you must also took the effort to learn about common types of aquarium fish disease like ich, fungus infection, dropsy, mouth and fin rot and knowing some of the basic fish medication.



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Set Up Mini Fish Tank

mini fish tankMini Fish Tank is a popular choice among beginners because of its size and mobility, since you can virtually place it anywhere including tabletop. Usually those that are sold in aquarium stores come in different shapes and colors while the size rarely go above 5 gallon. It is a perfect aquarium setup for small rooms or dormitory with limited space and what’s best is that certain units even sold complete with mini aquarium filter, tank heater and own lighting.

There are several disadvantages associated with using these mini fish tanks. Since it can only hold small volume of aquarium water, your choice of pet fish is limited to a number of small sized varieties and species such as betta, neon fish, platy and hatchet fish. Maintaining good water quality is somehow difficult in a small enclosure and based on my own experience, it is almost impossible to avoid sudden fluctuation especially in ammonia and nitrate level. I ended up losing several of my platy using these mini fish tank and after that, it taught me a good lesson on never to put in my favorite fish too early before the aquarium water is fully cycled.

One of the techniques I use to set up mini fish tank was to buy a young pleco and put it in together with a bunch of water sprite, which I easily acquired from my favorite local pet shop. As soon as the water is filled about three-quarter almost to the brim, I started running the aquarium filter and at the same time, started applying water conditioner as per the instruction indicated on the label of the bottle. I started releasing my young pleco 2 hours later and then I leave it alone for weeks with periodic water changes in between. The reason why pleco is chosen is because of its hardy nature, which can withstand and tolerate different water chemistry.

I kept to my daily routine to feed the pleco and at the same time conduct regular ammonia and nitrate check using water test kits. Once the the water is fully cycled whereby ammonia and nitrate at the lowest level, I went to scout for a new batch of platy to fill it into the mini fish tank. After that, what follows through are regular care and monitoring to ensure that your pet stays healthy.

Read up more about Tropical Fish Care Guides and learn what are the Common Mistakes made by aquarium owners.



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Silver Dollar Tropical Fish

silver dollar tropical fishSilver Dollar Tropical Fish is known as a peaceful freshwater species suitable for any community tank. The large round shaped appearance is often mistaken as its cousin piranha but however for this fish, it is generally vegetarian (herbivores) meaning that it prefers greens. And because of that, putting this freshwater fish species in tanks full of live aquarium plants is really a disaster, as they will wreck havoc by uprooting the plants and eating the leaves.

Silver dollar fish originated from tropical regions and its wild cousin live scattered around different locations in the Amazon River. They prefer soft water with pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.5 and if well taken care of, it can easily grow up to five inches in length. As such in order to successfully breed this fish, you will need large aquarium tank measuring at least 50-gallon minimum. In community aquarium, they will stay at the middle level of the tank and they will get along well with other tropical fish species such as hatchet fish (be wary once the silver dollar grows large), swordtail, catfish and pleco without any problem.

The tropical fish also has the characteristic of moving in small schools numbering about 5 to 6 and they will easily tremble and could even leap out of the tank if startled. As such having an aquarium setup with proper hood is a must if you intend to keep this fish as a pet. Having driftwood and rocks as part of the tank setup is also recommended as it will provide perfect hiding spot. Feeding silver dollar is indeed fun because once they get used to the aquarium environment, they will chase and nibble on the food around the tank and they love especially algae wafers and lettuce. In order to ensure that they stay healthy, I even go to the extent of feeding cereals, which will enhance the silver coloration on their body.

Just like any other tropical fish, silver dollar is also very particular about the water that they live in. Always ensure that nitrate is somehow below the 50 ppm limit or else they will start to show signs of inactivity. Best way to control the level of nitrate (since having live plants is not possible) is to allow healthy growth of algae at the aquarium corners. On top of that, always conduct regular water changes and ensure that water quality is within the desired range using water test kit.



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Interesting Facts about Goldfish

bubble eyegoldfish facts and knowledgegoldfish
Goldfish make a big splash during mating which occurs before dawn and usually the lights are still off. The next thing you will notice is that there will be thousands of eggs scattered everywhere that stick onto plants, tank surfaces and every aquarium filters. Move out all the fish and leaving only the eggs in the tank and avoid changing water during this period to avoid changing the water quality.

The only reliable way of characterizing between male and female goldfish is by looking for presence of white spots appearing on the fin and gills. However, this can only be spotted during mating season and thus expect to know their gender at least 10 months later when they are mature. (Find out more about Goldfish Reproduction)

Goldfish are heavy eaters and they are considered one of the most greedy aquarium pet fish. They will eat until they are full and if you decided to add more food, they will still continue eating until they become bloated. Usually this is also one of the reason leading to flipover condition. Therefore, do not get deceived by their enthusiastic behavior, which fools you to think that they are still hungry.

There are at least 20 known varieties ranging from fancy slow-moving delicate goldfish up to common hardy pond dwellers. They all originated from the same species meaning that if left together in the same fish tank, they will inter breed to produce off spring that resemble their parents. Some of the popular varieties are pearlscale, oranda, veiltail, shubunkin, tosakin and panda goldfish.

Goldfish can live up to 20 years provided that they are well cared for. The most important criteria to ensure that they survive up to that long period is by providing good water quality that remain consistent with their needs. They are coldwater fish (and not tropical species) and the suitable temperature should be within 18-22 deg Celcius and pH around 7.5. Watch out for your nitrite and nitrate levels as well and maintain it to the lowest level to ensure that your fish stays healthy. Therefore having pH test kit is very important.

Goldfish can grow up to very large size measuring almost 1 feet in length (including the fins) and the fish that you see sold in pet stores stuffed in aquarium tanks are actually juvenile fish. Because of this, never ever put them in fish bowls. My recommendation is to get a 55-gallon fish tank just to house a pair of goldfish.

Related topic: Finding Suitable Tank Size for Goldfish



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Keeping Fiddler Crab

aquarium crabKeeping Fiddler Crab is a fun and entertaining hobby because this crustacean is known to be a very active pet that climbs and thus, can be difficult to contain it in the aquarium enclosure. Contrary to general belief saying that fiddler crab can get along well with other fish and will thrive in aquarium water is definitely not true because this creature will need some dry land to rest. Although we would like to believe that it would require freshwater setup, this is also not accurate at all because the place where this crustacean is caught originated from brackish water close to swampy areas.

Although my first batch of fiddler crab only managed to survive for only 5 months, part of the reasons why it was short-lived has got to do with myself being inexperienced and having the wrong notion as stated above. My previous understanding was that it was totally freshwater and it can stay fully submerged all the while with other aquarium fish. Later after I found out about the truth, I’ve decided to mix in some aquarium salt to create the natural condition for it to live in.

The enclosure setup should be made up of rocks and sands at the base bottom with one part slightly sloped to contain the brackish water. Usually one tablespoonful mix of aquarium salt to every 1 gallon of water is enough to create the salinity level ideal for your fiddler crabs. You can even consider adding aquatic plants to create the natural condition and to provide hiding place. When it comes to food, the crabs are not picky and they will enjoy sinking fish food pellets and every dried shrimp. Their usual activity includes sifting through layers of sands looking for food and climbing on top of rocks to rest.

Another characteristic, which you should be aware of, is that the crabs will molt meaning that they will shed the exoskeleton behind and later consume it to recover the lost calcium. So far, attempts to breed this little creature in captivity have not been successful due to my inability to provide perfect living condition. Nevertheless, it was still exciting to have them around and just remember, they are not supposed to be mixed into your aquarium tank and swim around like the fish. Nowadays, the latest craze has been the Red Claw Crabs, which are offered for sale in aquarium stores and online pet sites.

For easy and fast setup, you can even consider getting a starter fish tank to house them. Other invertebrates for your fish setup: Freshwater Clams and Crayfish (Yabbie)



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Starter Fish Tank Beginners

Beginner Fish TankStarter Fish Tank is considered an ideal all-in-one setup kit suitable for beginners especially kids. Today there are quite a number of major brands like biOrb, Aquapac and Elite just to name a few that produces high quality aquarium pack comes complete with ready to assemble fish supplies like filter, lighting and hood and this includes water conditioner as well. All these are fairly easy to setup and maintain and it all comes with different sizes ranging from as small as 10-gallon up to 20-gallon aquarium.

Once you have made up your mind and purchased your starter tank, it is time to prepare and start cycling the water to make it suitable to house your pet. Usually a good practice is never to put in your choice of fish that you intend to rare but instead go for low quality “starter fish” like guppy, mollies, platy and swordtail. These starter fish are selected because of their hardy nature, which can tolerate wider range and changes in water parameter and survive the ordeal.

Once the water condition has settled and the nitrogen cycle begins to establish, then only it’s time to put in your favorite fish. If have you purchased a starter fish tank larger than 20-gallon, usually you can choose to setup a community aquarium which houses different types of fish with the same water requirements. But before you do that, check on fish compatibility among individual species that you intend to rare so that you don’t end up losing your precious pets.

You might be interested in understanding about choosing best tank size.



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Raising Freshwater Shrimp

cherry red shrimpFreshwater Shrimp is an exciting addition to a community tank. Contrary to common beliefs, which had the perception that shrimps have dull looking unattractive colors, all these are actually not true. Nowadays, there are different varieties of aquarium shrimp which make perfect tank mates. One particular species noteworthy to be mentioned here is the Cherry Red Shrimp, which is getting popular among hobbyist as pet in new fish tank.

If you intend to keep this live crustacean and raising them to be part of the aquarium community, first thing you need to do is to ensure that the fish staying together with it are not those that are aggressive or large size that can attack or eat your shrimp. There are different fish species, which you can consider such as neon tetra, guppy and hatchet fish that are generally harmless and will largely ignore your shrimp. Discus, oscar and angelfish are definitely not an option at all because they will devour and hunt down every shrimp that they can see.

Even if you intend to mix with your neon tetras, the best aquarium setup should be heavily planted tank so that the shrimp can hide amongst the leaves. Red cherry shrimp for instance, can only grow up to only an inch in length and therefore, it might be a good idea to avoid them from being harassed by the fish. Plants also provide good hiding spot for young shrimps and if properly cared for, combination of red cherry and neon tetra fish makes perfect aquarium setup. The shrimp not only help to eat and control algae growth but they also help to clear up uneaten and leftover food from your neon tetra.

The red cherry shrimps do not require much attention in order to survive in your home aquarium. As long as the water is clean and regularly changed, they should not have any problem adapting to the condition. They generally thrive in soft waters with pH ranging from 6.7 to 7.5 and with temperature ranging from 24 to 27degC. They are not picky when it comes to food and as mentioned earlier, they will even scrap off food waste from aquarium bed, which makes them the efficient tank cleaner.

Red cherry shrimp is also special and unique in the sense that they can change their coloration according to the aquarium substrate and background and what’s best is that the colors will show up bright red if there are fluorescent tank lighting. Finally, if all requirements are met with perfect water quality, they will breed and lay eggs amongst the aquarium plants and soon enough you will notice young tiny shrimp will start to appear in your tank. More in-depth details about ornamental shrimp breeding and other mistakes to avoid.

Other recommended freshwater shrimp to consider for your community aquarium are Ghost Shrimp, which appears as transparent, and Black Tiger Shrimp (also known as Black Diamond Shrimp) which is totally black in color with orange eyes.



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About Me

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My fascination and interest towards aquarium fish has led me to devote my time towards caring and learning about this wonderful pet.

Aquarium fish keeping is a very challenging and exciting hobby. When I first started, I never knew much or have the necessary guidance back then because none of my family members were actually a keen hobbyist. And because of that, I’ve encountered numerous failures and the worst part is having to deal with dead fish every time when you started to grow fond and getting attached to my pets. However, I persevered and took steps to find out and search for information from other hobbyist, apart from the knowledge gained and learned from my own experience and research. The blog that I’ve created here is meant to share useful information and tips about aquarium fish keeping so that new hobbyist will not make the same mistakes that I’ve made in the past."

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