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Oceanic BioCube Complete Aquarium Systems for your first saltwater tank

This article is a compilation based on feedbacks gathered from aquarist around the world as it will talk about reviews on using the Oceanic Biocube aquarium systems for setting up a miniature saltwater reef tank. Nonetheless the article will also focus on guiding the new aquarium wannabe about the basics of saltwater fishkeeping from start towards the end until the whole process is up and running.

Biocube Reef AquariumOceanic Biocube provides one of the most complete aquarium systems that are basically ready-to-install from out of the box. It comes in a set with all the tank accessories and supplies like hood, aquarium filter (together with the built-in filter chamber) and that includes also the lighting. Overall, the list of items should be everything you need in order to start the system, cycle and then ready to put the fish in. In a nutshell, the whole setup should take away all the hassles of selecting and choosing each and every component in order to form a complete tank system. Coincidentally it also comes with a hefty price tag as I often hear questions among circle of hobbyist on whether it is actually worth paying for all that. Following are the reviews gathered for your own consideration to judge for yourself whether it fulfils your expectation especially if you are going to setup a saltwater nano reef tank.

There are basically two different tank systems which you will normally come across sold in pet stores. Those are graded according to their size and capacity whereby one is the 14-gallon system and another is the 29-gallon system. Under each group, comes with it different models with has optional items to suit your aquarium needs and requirements. The tanks are made of glass (and not acrylic as what most people thought it was) with round edges to ensure that it is safe and most important, durable enough to withstand the water pressure. The lighting can be different depending on the package that you bought and basically the most common are the metal halide or the fluorescent type and overall that should work on well if you need to own a nano reef system with live rocks. For those who have intention of getting the colorful Tridacnidae saltwater clams then the the Biocube lighting should be perfect for it.

The 29 gallon lighting system is basically one of the highlights of the BioCube package which is something worth mentioning here, notably for its Coralife brand known for its reliability and quality. There are numerous reviews providing good recommendation about using the fluorescent lighting setup as not only it is small and compact but what’s best is that it also comes with dual integrated cooling fans to make sure that the lighting will have longer life span. Usually in order to get a spectacular view of your favorite community pet fish, there is also a light fixture with blue LED lighting installed into it that comes complete with a timer so that you can decide when it will on and when the lights will go off. Believe me; the view is absolutely spectacular once you have switched off all the room lights leaving only the aquarium LED lighting to glow in the dark.

Setting up a saltwater tank using the Oceanic pack should be a breeze for experienced hobbyist. Since the entire basic tank items are already there, what you need to do is just to assemble all the parts together. Normally other than having the standard accessories, you can also add a protein skimmer and also UV sterilizer to improve water quality. You can first start by adding some live sands or different types of live rocks in order to start cycle the aquarium. This will take about 3 to 4 weeks but if you intend to shorten the time period needed to complete the process you can instead add some premix biological bacteria sold in bottles. Make sure that you have the right salinity of the saltwater before you add in your pet fish and just to make sure that you get an accurate measurement, use a hydrometer to quickly obtain the result. The ideal SG should be within 1.020-1.025 and with a pH close to 7.5. Some stocking suggestions to your tank should be Clownfish, False Moorish Idol and Jawfish

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Adding Colorful Giant Saltwater Clams to Marine Aquariums

maxima giant saltwater clamSaltwater Clams belonging to the family Tridacnidae is among the most colorful non-fish species which you can add to your coral and reef tanks. Unlike the normal grayish colored clams which are served on dinner table, these are totally different as they are considered the exotic species kept in saltwater tank. They made wonderful addition to complement your colorful fish and believe me, it’s the dream of any saltwater aquarist to keep them as pets while some would even say that the aquarium will never be complete without presence of these giant saltwater clams. Although they never move around or impress people with their movements but their mere presence and the showcase of colors are enough to convince people to make these clams one of their favorite additions.

All the species grouped into this family are highly popular and known for their pigmented mantles which are basically the outer flesh appearing on the edge of the lips. These mantles depending on which species can vary in different colors and the intensity plus the pattern markings are the ones which attracted the most attention. Lately there has been a boom in the aquarium industry supplying giant cultured clams which are specially bred in large artificial reef tanks in order to supply to hobbyist worldwide and a single well-developed specimen can cost anywhere between $50 to few hundred dollars. I would advice those who intend to try their luck in keeping this species, to learn as much information about their pets and most important is that when scouting for these giant clams to add to your fish tank, you should first find out how old the clam is. Reason for this is simple because specimens either too old or too young often find themselves unable to adjust to sudden change in tank environment and finally often leads to complete failure. As a rough guideline, the right size of the clam should be within 3 inches length. I’ve even come across aquarium tank services which provide maintenance and supplies and you can try to approach them and request to include these friendly creature as part of the package when setting up your home aquarium. I’m not sure whether those services are available in other countries but the key thing is to search thoroughly and ask around.

Caring for these giant clams require special attention and the job can be very tedious as you will need to ensure that the tank lighting is correct while the foods are abundant. VHO or sometimes called a very high output full spectrum lamp is usually selected for use in saltwater aquariums housing these invertebrates and without sufficient illumination and enough intensity, the clams can lose their colors easily up to a level which can endanger their survival. Depending on requirements and suitability, sometimes metal halides lamps will work as well. The water which they live in must be rich in nutrient with the phytoplankton and algae as their foods while nitrate level is best kept within 50ppm limit to ensure that they grow and thrive in the water. Unlike a fish which actually accepts pellets dropped into the water, these clams don’t require all that as their food source is actually the microscopic organisms present in the water itself and they feed by filtering out these particles as the water flows through. A healthy specimen is judged based on its responsiveness to movement in the waters and of course the color is the major consideration above all.

Few of the most commonly found species of the giant saltwater clams are the crocea and maxima clams which are also native to the reef areas around Tahiti. They are quite expensive due to their intense green and bluish coloration and normally those offered for sale are wild specimen harvested from the sea. Both of these are the most sensitive of all compared to the likes of deresa clams which are yellowish as they will require high output lamps to maintain their natural colors. Predatory problem is also another thing you might want to look into and study careful because even aquarium fish living in the tank itself may turn out to be the one threatening their survival. Parrotfish especially with their hard beak-like mouth will crush them easily while butterflyfish and angelfish which have a knack on nibbling their fleshy mantles will cause lethal injury to your pets. Introducing wild caught specimen has its disadvantages not just in the aspect of mortality rate (obviously lower) but also, they might potentially become host to some parasites that attach to their surfaces and then accidentally introduced to the aquarium.

Fishkeeping topics related to maintenance of saltwater tanks:
» Possible to use natural seawater to replace synthetic water?
» Introducing different types of live rocks for reef aquarium

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Appreciating Asagi Magoi & Shusui Koi

Asagi Magoi is basically a modern day black colored koi carp known for its trademark bluish reticulated scale pattern combined with some red hi appearing on its side and belly otherwise known as Hi Asagi. They are special in their very own way classified into different group away from the typical showa as they command the respect, loyalty and fast becoming one of favorites among koi collectors. There are several different types and variety of the fish and basically what sets them apart from each other is the combination of hi and how it extends beyond the body region. Basically a well developed specimen must have its head region completely white without a speckle of hi or dots and there must be a clear borderline separating the head and the reticulated net-like scales.

asagi shusui koi fishAsagi is often judged based on its symmetrical appearance whereby the hi (red patch) development and distribution on both sides of its body must be well balanced. The red color is not the one similar like you would see appearing on a kohaku but rather it appears somehow pale orangey. Handling an asagi and housing them in the pond bears some critical aspect that needs to be taken into consideration because if let’s say the scales are lost, this will introduce defect on the fish, hence loosing its value. Some other common faults seen on an asagi is the appearance of random hi among its bluish black colored scales. For the koi fish to be considered a high standard quality grade, the color of the scales must remain true blue color, else slight fading that turns it into gray will mean significant reduction in the overall value of the specimen.

Shusui which means “autumn water” in Japanese language is also a koi carp variety that closely connects to the asagi. They are basically Doitsu Asagi meaning that the koi have no scales except for two blue colored lines running parallel from head to tail appearing on each side of the dorsal region. Similarly like the asagi, the head must be clear white without presence of any visible marking while the red hi distribution should cover the lower region of its body. There are generally two different types of shusui identified by hobbyist, one considered the more common which is the Hi Shusui and another is the Ki Shusui which is basically a yellow colored variety of the same koi fish. Apart from these two, there are also several forms of the fish classified under its own group normally based on its color pattern and distribution, notably the Sanke Shusui and the Showa Shusui.

My experience seeing the real specimen was during the local club organized koi competition whereby I got the chance to see two of the finest fish being displayed. To the owner showing off his pet was indeed a proud moment and to every one of us who are present there, we consider ourselves lucky to be able to witness and see for ourselves the fish and I could hear the praises coming from all the participants who attended the event. Of course, we can’t deny the fact that the koi was quite rare at the place where I came from as it have yet to gather true followings and remain largely unknown in the local scene. Somehow I believe for true exposure and to really study the fish would require one to really travel to Japan, the birthplace of koi and witness how they actually breed and raise the fish. Of course, we consider some of the local hobbyist who are able to afford to travel there to gather knowledge and maybe bought along a few specimens are so far the ones most fortunate. Other types of metallic koi: Hikarimuji classification

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Using Natural Seawater for Saltwater Tank

The article here will focus on the discussion concerning the pros and cons using natural seawater and whether it can be added to your saltwater reef aquarium without bringing any harm or side effect. This article is contributed by one of All About Aquarium Fish readers and written based on simple conversation between myself and him. Thanks Daryl for the thought-provoking ideas.

(Daryl J, a marine aquarist and hobbyist for the past 10 years and still actively involved in pursuing the knowledge of setting up a perfect enclosed saltwater tank system)

marine aquariumUsing natural seawater for your saltwater fish tank is actually a viable option to be considered if you are staying near the coastal area and thus obtaining the water is not a hassle. What’s best is that you can always get it all year round 24 hours a day except on occasions when there is an environmental pollution affecting the cleanliness of the water. Put that aside, there are also other reasons on why using natural seawater has its advantages especially on the part when it comes to emergency situation when you need to quickly change the water such as the condition when water quality suddenly deteriorates and becomes unsuitable for the fish to live in. A fine example would be ammonia or nitrite jump in a newly setup saltwater tanks or it could be due to failure in the natural filter system sometimes caused by unexplained reasons.

Despite all that have been mentioned here, using natural seawater has its drawbacks. There is always a questionable issue related to its use because most aquarist found that natural seawater is not perfect to sustain biological marine life and keep them lively meaning that the water has to be constantly replaced. Try to imagine this scenario similar as using a second hand used water in which the quality will deteriorate fast. Although still much a subject of debate and discussion, most find that saltwater aquarium using this natural seawater often has issue with the fish showing signs of lethargy and uneasiness. Part of the problem is also believed to be deficiency in certain micro nutrients and chemical composition and that is why some hobbyist prefers to use prepared synthetic saltwater instead if they want to provide the best living condition for their pets to live in.

Natural seawater also increases the chance of introducing unwanted microorganisms and living sea creature unseen with the naked eyes to the reef system. Most often, despite treating and leaving the water in the dark for specific period of time to remove of these unwanted guests, somehow without valid explanation, they still manage to survive. Some people go to the extent of running the water through an ultraviolet UV light in order to sterilize the water but if you are spending your time doing all that, it will actually defeat the purpose on cost-saving using ocean seawater. Although a more direct approach involves treating the water with chemicals prior to use such as chlorine bleach and copper, somehow the microorganisms still has a way to survive the treatment ordeal. Thus, there is always a quarantine period here that needs to be taken into account and I would strongly caution against pouring the collected seawater directly into your saltwater aquarium without any form of safety precaution put in.

But despite this potential threat, there are actually some uses with the presence of microorganisms in the natural seawater. New aquariums which have just been established will not have the benefit of beneficial population of bacteria exist in the system. In other words, depending on where you collect your water, these natural seawater can actually used to jumpstart the tank biological cycle, very much similar like what you have with startup bacteria liquid culture which you can buy from pet shops. Finally after evaluating on all the facts stated above, it is to my opinion that unless cost is you main concern towards maintaining the fish tank, it would be best that synthetic saltwater are used instead to ensure that everything is working well without the risk for your pets.

Related saltwater fishkeeping topics: Live rocks for reef tank

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Difference between Chinese Lionhead and Ranchu Goldfish

A Lionhead Goldfish is often confused and wrongly identified as a ranchu as both of them bear very close resemblance to each other. While some considered the lionhead to be less superior in every aspect in particular the shape but however it has its own special feature that makes it stand out from the rest. To make it short, Lionhead is actually bred and developed by the Chinese while the Ranchu is a Japanese variety which is line bred to select the fish with desired characteristics. What line bred means is that the baby fish or off spring will cross back to the parent fish so that the genetic trait will be retained.

Most people will not be able to tell what are the differences comparing between a normal lionhead with a ranchu but upon close observations, you can always tell them apart. The only notable characteristic that sets them different from each other is the arched back development and overall shape of the goldfish. Try to look closely and compare between the two pictures attached below and as you can see, the lionhead’s back is very much flat while the ranchu is more curved and that gives the latter a more rounded appearance. In terms of pricing and value, most people considered the ranchu's shape more pleasing towards their liking and thus, they usually command higher selling price.

Chinese lionhead goldfishJust like the ranchu, both are also hooded fish which means that it has a type of raspberry growth on its head that looks like clumps of jelly all lumped together. Surprisingly both fishes also do not have the dorsal fin unlike the other types of goldfish. In terms of size, ranchu are known to attain bigger belly and developed much bulkier weight while observations on the tail fin will tell you that the lionhead has one which is comparatively longer. Based on these characteristics you should be able to tell them apart with the arched back appearance to support and confirmed your view. In terms of appearance, both goldfish types also have striking color combination, and they can be found in typical orange, red, white and even all black on the whole body. These days, there is also the nacreous form which is basically a variety with speckled colored scales randomly distributed and appearing against a white background. Those are my favorite as they look absolutely cute and adorable.

The lionhead is believed to bring the Chinese good luck when the aquarium which has the fish in it is placed in a strategically right position in the house. As such, it is very common to see a very large aquarium specially made dedicated to this extraordinary and unique fish. Lionhead needs a very large living space to survive and live happily. Normally the minimum tank size for them should measure at least 50 gallons in capacity whereby a normal adult lionhead will actually grow to at least 10 inches in length when proper care is given. Just like all the other fancy goldfish varieties like the celestial, tosakin and bubble-eye, they are considered delicate species which are slow swimmers and most of the time will miss grabbing their foods. This is mainly due to the hooded growth which sometimes can covers their eyes and hinder their sight. When mixed with fast swimmers like normal torpedo-shaped common goldfish and oranda they will always lose out to food competition.

Chinese lionhead is very susceptible to different kinds of disease. One particular sickness that often attack this type of fish is the fluffy white colored fungus growth which can develop on the hood and degrade the tissue on it. Without treatment, it can spread and cause the skin to be engulfed. Fish infected with the disease will often lose appetite not wanting to eat and sometimes, they can still appear in their usual mood until the condition gets worse and starts to spread. Other than this, the flipover condition is also quite common and it is often related to overfeeding and the water quality that they lives in. This is identified to be related to infection affecting their swim bladder and I did wrote an article to discuss in details on the flipover disease and I would suggest you read up about this as it is very prevalent in every type of goldfish.

Aquarium tank in which your goldfish lives in should be best left barren with clear bottom without presence of gravel. Usually just like all the other types of goldfish, they can be very clumsy in their movement and the way they swim about. Aquarium decoration which sharp edges are known to cause injuries when the fish bump into it and there are instances when they might suffer bruises and cuts due to accidental scrapping onto the surface of the object. Plants might not be suitable in a goldfish tank because they are notorious of ripping the leaves apart and eating it when they become hungry (except for when you have water sprite). As such you will need a fast growing plant to cope up with their appetite. Thus based on these facts and argument, it is a matter of sacrificing viewing pleasure without any tank decoration in exchange for the safety of your pet fish. That is for you to decide.
Studying the difference between an Asagi and Shusui fish

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Types of Live Rocks for Reef Aquarium

The first thing that comes into mind when establishing a reef aquarium tank is the aquascaping concept with the addition of live rock. In the past, all these were actually harvested from the ocean and because of controversies surrounding conservatory efforts and sustainability concerns, live rocks were artificially cultured in large marine aquatic farms and then offered for sale in local pet shops. Establishing healthy population of these living rocks not only offer aesthetic value and enhance appearance of the overall fish tank but it also plays a pivotal role that act as a natural filtration system to clean the water.

There are different types of live rocks depending on the location on where it was obtained and each has its own individual properties in terms of physical and chemical attributes. Some of it has to potential to change the aquarium water chemistry by slowly biodegrading in the water and then releasing active chemical compounds. These types are those generally considered unsuitable for use in the reef hobby. A good example would be volcanic and lava rocks which will leach excessive nutrient into the water and disrupt the natural balance of enclosed marine tank ecosystem. Thus, those which are overall inert under extreme condition and chemically stable in the long run are selected and these usually command higher selling price due to ever-increasing demands in the market. Let’s look at some of the options available for those reef tank fanatics.

reef aquarium live rockMarshall Island Rock
This one is considered one of the favorites among the circle of die-hard hobbyist due to its light weight feature and its fascinating shapes. Some consider it unique and able to fit into any aquascaping plan. One word of caution though because rocks originated from this locality made available in pet shops are usually not properly cured while most of the aquatic life associated with the original rock has already died off.

Fiji Rock
Most of these special rocks that are sold in fish stores come with attached biodiversity of natural inhabitants still surviving on its surface and its porous structure and one of the great features on why it was selected is because of the colorful glowing appearance especially the purple color type. Overall, it has great coralline growth and the shape is rounder. Price wise, it is cheaper and more affordable to general aquarist. Look for medium-sized Fiji rocks to complement the larger types and some people actually stack them together to create a small pile in the middle of the tank.

Tonga Branch
Easily identified due to its branch-like structure but these days due to licensing restrictions in the country coupled with high demand, supply is very scarce and nowadays not many shops offer it for sale. It is considered a valuable piece of show rocks.

Vanuatu Rock
These are usually available in large slab form and thus used as a bottom base for aquascaping combined with the other types of rocks of different shapes. It can be quite expensive due to its quality and location from where it was taken from as it has to travel from Australia over to Europe and America. Somehow there are always limited stocks available and some so-called Vanuatu live rocks are actually those bought in from Indonesian islands and also across the Philippines reefs sanctuary.

Aquacultured Rock
Using these artificial rocks is considered environmental friendly approach as it does not involve destruction of natural ecosystem that comes from the process of collecting and harvesting from reefs. Specialized farm owners involved in the business will usually dump normal ground rocks or some cement blocks into the water and wait for the natural process to occur with growth of microorganisms and living creature to establish population on its surfaces. Some different approaches involve artificial aquaculture practice taking place in large aquarium tanks instead. Depending on the types of man-made building materials used for the construction, some are quite fragile.

Use of live rocks has its fair share of disadvantages basically on the introduction of unwanted pest such as predatory mantis shrimp that can wreck havoc in your fish tank and other unwanted guest includes aiptasia, worms, crabs and sea spiders that are equally devastating to the reef tank. That is why hobbyist these days would rather purchase a whole complete set of reef ready aquarium so that they don't have to go through all the trouble of aquascaping and then selecting individual rocks, as all these have been professionally done by the experts.

Related reef aquarium subject: Choice of decor for your marine tank and adding reef compatible bass anthias. Guide on selecting the correct reef-safe wrasse

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What You Need to Know about Silver Arowana

Silver Arowana is the most common among all types of the arowana species and thus commands a much lower price compared to the likes of the rare super red and crossback varieties. An adult pet fish is usually sold within the price range of few hundred dollars (most of the time not exceeding $500) while some younger few months old to a yearling is offered for much less, between 20 to 50 bucks. The fish appears in a completely all silver color on its whole body starting from the head to tail except for its fins which may be slightly reddish during its juvenile period but disappears as it gets older.

Caring for the silver arowana (sometimes called dragon fish) should be relatively simple as the requirement would be the same as with all other normal aquarium fish species with regards to water quality and tank setup. Most experienced hobbyists who have prior experience keeping other freshwater tropical fish should not have any problem handling and keeping them as pets except that demands for foods and nutrition might be slightly different. Compared to the other types of fish which will easily accept any food given to them, arowana being a predatory species has specialized requirement as they will need constant supply of live foods to keep them active. I did discuss about this topic before about the perception that arowana can only do well with supply of live foods but however, this is not entirely true as frequent feeding of high quality pellets made specially for predatory fish with protein content may also serve as good replacement. You can head over reading this article about the best recommended foods for your arowana pets.

young baby silver arowanaPicture of a healthy young baby silver arowana

Silver arowana are known to attain at least 30 inches in length under optimum living conditions but there are also some documented accounts of wild caught species going as far as 50 inches but this only holds true if they are allowed to survive in mud ponds with constant supply of fresh clean water. On the contrary, domesticated species living in home aquariums can only achieve certain maximum size and it usually does not cross above 10 feet even though the right dietary requirements and other aspects of fish care are provided. Silver arowana life span if well looked after can survive up to 8 years minimum and it's not surprising that some live longer than that. Fish tank housing your pet should be at least able to hold 500 gallons minimum and consideration has to be put into the aquarium dimension especially on the width and not just the length alone, as the fish needs to turn and swim to the opposite direction. These are some of the things that you will need to put particular attention towards.

Arowana are known to be susceptible to different types of disease. Usually the first sign that your precious pet might be sick is when they are not eating at all rejecting all foods given to them. Most of the problems are usually related to the feeding of live feeder fish which carries parasitic disease with them and somehow supply of tubifex worms are sometimes contaminated with viruses that can easily cause infection and upset their stomach. Drop eye is another problem most common among all affecting different types of arowara and is most prevalent for the silver arowana. Gill infections related that can deteriorate up to the extent of decaying is also quite common and so does cloudy eyes problem. Aquarist believe that all of these are actually related to the water quality and usually temperature of the water should not be kept too cold below 25 deg Celsius as it will make the fish susceptible to disease and infection. If problems develop, the best solution is to seek out medicated cures sold at pet stores and immediately check your water quality to bring it back to normal condition within the ideal temperature range.

The silver arowana depicted in the article and picture above is the Asian variant. This should not be confused with the general widely-accepted Osteoglossum bicirrhosum species also known as the giant silver arowana which is obviously much larger in size. (It belongs to the South American continent)

Related post covering similar topic of discussion: What makes Golden Crossback Arowana Special. Looking to add new friends from other species to your arowana fish tank? Why not check out the red-tailed tin foil barb as excellent community fish addition.

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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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