Pictures some of the Most Beautiful Fish

most beautiful fish

Giant Featherback Fish (Clown Knife)

featherback fishMy first encounter ever seeing and knowing about featherback was during a visit to public aquaria and getting the chance to actually view the fish in person. I have to admit, although having seen countless types of freshwater fish, it was in fact the first time that I’ve ever encounter one and it really amazes me especially the overall shape of the species. Not many aquarist fancy keeping them as a pet and while I couldn’t find local fish enthusiast in community club who actually owns one, however that doesn’t stop me from finding more information as I still maintain a deep interest trying to learn about it. Searching through various sources of information both on the internet and library yield quite some interesting facts concerning this giant carnivorous fish.

The featherbacks have other common names while some people actually call them clown knife, they are all referring to the same type of fish belonging to the same family. Most of the featherback species including N. chitala originates from the rivers of South East Asia. Although there is no mention or evidence that relates and points to specific area on where they can be found, some actually suggest that they belong to the Mekong River spanning across Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The shape of the fish is the most interesting aspect that makes the species unique as it has a very elongated body that ends in a pointy tip towards the tail. At one glance you could easily tell that the shape resembles a feather normally one that you would find placed on caps and I guess that is probably how it got its name in the first place.

The fish has a very long anal fin which it uses to maintain balance and unlike other tropical freshwater species, the anus is actually located close to the front section, about one-third of the whole body length. The colors are mostly brown to grayish and the rounded spots can differ from one species to another, and while some of the fish has the marking appearing in a long horizontal arrangement, others have a random distribution. In terms of size, the featherbacks are known to grow to become quite big measuring at least about 2 feet in total while some will achieve beyond that limit. So as an owner, you can imagine how was it like having to deal with that super bulkiness for something that is living in the water and of course huge responsibility as well that comes along with it.

In terms of living environment, an aquarium tank that houses them should at least measure about 100 gallons and above. Try not to illuminate the tank with bright fluorescent lights as the fish prefer darker condition. If possible get an aquarium lighting which you can tone down the light setting adjusting according to needs. The bigger and more spacious the aquarium, the better it is and most aquarist actually kept them single, whereby they are the only species confined to a large tank. Concerning behavioral nature and subject of aggressiveness towards other tank mates, they are quite difficult to predict and while smaller fish will definitely ended up become a meal, large fish close to their size will sometimes get attacked and harmed as well. Thus, the idea on setting up a community tank is out of question here. There are reports of successful pairing up with large freshwater stingray as both of these fish belong to the same biotope in the wild so you might want to try out if that works.

Feeding your pets should be a cause of concern as they only demand fresh meat and live foods rejecting dry pellets most of the time. Constant feeding of tubifex worms, beef heart, chopped or minced market shrimp should be occasionally provided in order to keep them vigorous and healthy. There are certain types of fish food like the carnivorous pellets normally fed to Oscars which you can try it out but I think if that suits them well, providing to your featherback should be fine as well. In terms of reproductive behavior, little is known about how they mate and produce young offspring and till date, there has been no report of captive breeding taking place in home aquarium.

Before jumping into the idea and making decision of getting one to add on to your fish collection, careful consideration and lengthy thoughts have to be given mainly on how to provide them enough living space to cope up with their large size. Watching the fish swims around the tank should be an exciting affair especially for those people who enjoy watching their pets go about with their daily activities, and featherbacks would be a good choice as they display their active behavior traveling across the tank moving from one end to another looking for prey.

The featherback should not be confused with another type of freshwater species known as the Black ghost knife fish

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Utsurimono Koi, a fish special in its unique ways

perfect utsurimono koiWith the different variety present, identifying a particular Koi is indeed a challenging task. Knowing the difference between one breed compared to the other, is a very interesting subject to study as it is a form of art that requires deep understanding on how the classification and whole system comes together. Without much experience, most people would say it is a very boring and difficult thing to deal with but for a serious hobbyist, they will simply tell you that it is indeed fun to learn about the fish and what makes up a single class of koi. This part of the article will talk about how to define and gather the fish all into the same group.

If you think that trying to make out the difference between a Sanke and Showa koi would be demanding, wait until you come across the Bekko and Utsurimono as they are even more easily confused. Among all the other koi class varieties, sometimes they might actually look more or less the same unless you place close observation. To make things simple and easy to understand, a Bekko is basically defined as a white koi fish with black marking while Utsurimono, the other way round is a black fish with either white, red or yellow marking present on its body but not a combination of black plus with the other colors. What all these basically translate to is that the base color will be the one most profound and used as a guideline to identify the fish while the rest of the colors are only to complement the major ones.

Let’s look at the Utsurimono which we shall focus and discuss further in details. The koi as explained earlier is the black carp with combined white, red or yellow. There are 3 possible color combinations here whereby the black with white is naturally called Shiro Utsuri and is the most popular among all while the black with red is called Hi Utsuri, simply means Red Utsuri. The last one called Ki Utsuri is the black fish with yellow patch and coincidentally is one of the rarest and hardly seen even among the Japanese breeders. Shiro is the favorite among all hobbyists due to its perfect color design. Other than bearing a close resemblance to a Showa (provided that you’ve taken out the red patch), the quality of the fish is also judged based on the degree and whiteness of the white color. A high quality type should be a solid snow while a lesser grade fish are those that has the white appear slightly yellowish. The sumi (black) on the other hand must be solid dark and not the type of chocolate brown which is considered less desirable. A good example would be as depicted in the picture on your top left which shows a high quality Shiro Utsuri.

All types of Utsurimono are also appreciated based on the presence of motoguro. The only other koi variety that has this special trademark is the Showa. Basically a motoguro is solid stretch of sumi (black) that appears on the pectoral fins and it starts from the joint close to the body and then extending outwards. Unlike the other fish, motoguro can never be found because if you compare a sanke and observing the pectoral fin, you will find and realize that the black color marking only appears as thin stripes. Thus, don’t be surprised that some hobbyist actually define and identify a true Utsurimono based on the presence of motoguro. For a better visualization, just take a moment to view the set of picture shown below. You will see that on your left is actually a normal Sanke fin while on the right is the fin from an Utsurimono which has the motoguro.

finnage pattern(From the picture above, sanke pectoral fin black marking is very sparse while for the motoguro present in utsurimono, the pattern is very dense.)

Utsurimono and in particular Shiro Utruri is also classified and grouped according to the front pattern marking appearing on its head. Some are really unique and special in its own way judging by how the pattern actually forms and develops to resemble certain objects. For instance, one of the most highly sought after among the Shiro Utsuri is the Menware pattern which resembles a lighting strike pattern which is really cool.
Another classic work of art would be Asagi Magoi and Shusui
Not to be missed: Ai Goromo, Sumi Goromo and Budo Goromo

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Types of Small Fish for Nano Reefkeepers

When it comes to small aquarium setup such as having the Aquapod or the JBJ Nano Cube with either the 12 or 24 gallon size, usually selecting the type of fish to complement your reef tank community can somehow be tricky. Actually the hardest part is to scout for the perfect tank mates and the main idea is to find a fish that is small in size that will fit in easily without harming the reef or invertebrates (especially sponges and sea urchins) and yet easy to take care of without giving much problem. Not sure where to start? Let me give you some hints and tips with some suggestions to help you decide.

So far, there are 3 types of fish all belonging to the gobies family that fulfills the criteria mentioned earlier thus making them one of those highly sought after by nano reefkeepers who intend to diversify and create a living reef system. The most popular among them are the coral gobies (sometimes called crown goby), firefish and the last one is shrimp goby. Few things that I love about these fishes are their attractive colors and with their peaceful nature, for sure, they will definitely qualify as excellent pets. Let’s find out about their characteristics, learning and understanding the behavior on each of these bottom dwelling species and why you should get one as well for your nano reeftank.

Coral/Crown Gobies
coral crown gobiesAttaining only a maximum size of around 2 inches, the fish in this genus are very tolerant with the presence of the other nano reef tank invertebrates. They can be kept in groups but since you want add them to a small Nano Cube reef system, you might want to limit the numbers to only maximum 4 so that it forms a perfect balance with the environment. There are reports of captive breeding of the fish taking place in home aquariums and the most popular and highly sought after among aquarist is the Citron yellow colored goby (G. cirtrinus). When selecting to fish to purchase, just make sure to find one which is always alert and active.

Firefish Goby (Dartfishes)
orange firefish gobyThis is perhaps one of the most popular among all saltwater enthusiasts. Their elongated body and cute innocent face is often hard to forget and anybody would be tempted to buy them regardless of what the price tags says. Adding them as pets to your Aquapod tank is indeed a fun affair as you watch them go around with their daily activities, swimming around but sometimes stay motionless, ready to dart if there’s movement which they deem life-threatening. What sets them apart and unique from the other gobies is the presence of an extra top fin located just close to its head. Among the most commonly sold in aquarium shops are the purple firefish (N. decora) and the orange firefish (N. magnifica) as seen with the picture above with the long and straight pointy fin.

Shrimp Goby
randalli shrimp gobyThis is a rather quiet but yet entertaining species to have around and one thing special about them is the symbiotic relationship which they form with a type of shrimp called the Alpheus which is how they got their name in the first place. You will often find the fish hiding by burrowing underneath the sand dug by its partner shrimp located right below the huge pile of rocks and reefs. They are very peaceful and will readily blend into the tank community without giving any problem at all and they spend most of their time staying idle by lying at the bottom while keeping a close on what is happening around with their surrounding. Domesticated specimen can adjust well to the home-made artificial tank environment but those which are caught from the open seas will often have low survival rate. Look for the pink spotted variety, Catalina goby (Lythrypnus dalli), yellow watchman or the Randall’s shrimp goby (A. randalli) when searching for the perfect nano reef fish.

Looking for some ideas on which invertebrate to get? How about adding these special colorful clams? Read up also about tiny seahorses in coral reef tank. Another reef-friendly species would be the fancy sea basses also known as bass anthias.

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Is Reverse Osmosis Water Necessary for Aquariums?

Over the years I have often come across quite some interesting questions posted by aquarist about experimenting and doing different things related to how they can manage their aquarium hobby differently. One of it worth mentioning here is from a guy who owns a JBJ aquarium who queried about the possibility on using reverse osmosis water for his saltwater fish tank. Here’s my take and views on this.

aquarium reef systemRO systems are mainly used in households to remove impurities and improve the quality of the drinking water. And because of its availability, people have arrived on the idea about using it for their aquariums as well and since it is there, then why not uses it and tries it out? But before I move on further, for your knowledge, water coming from the tap contains a certain amount of dissolved solids in the form of salts, phosphates, nitrates with varying degree and concentration of chloramines and also fluorides and that depends on the location on where the water sample is taken from. Basically what you are trying to add to your fish tank is the water free from all those solids, practically pure with no hardness level while the pH of RO water is generally lower compared to normal fresh tap water.

Based on my experience there is no harm in using RO water to change your aquarium water but at the same time, it will also not change anything at all if you choose to use normal tap water instead. And that is provided that you properly treat the tap water using water conditioners or leave it overnight so that the residual solids that settle at the bottom are removed and the harmful chemicals in it are already degraded. As with the case of the JBJ aquarium owner, his question about exploring the possibility about using RO water does not seem to make any difference at all and that is especially true when it comes to saltwater tank. Let me put it this way, the process of changing the water in a saltwater aquarium is a very delicate process. The main thing which you will need to control is not to disrupt the salinity of the tank and if you are withdrawing the water out of the aquarium, adding fresh water will lower the salinity level. Thus, whether you are using reverse osmosis or normal tap water, no matter which one that you choose to use, you will have to add the natural sea salt mix in order not to disrupt the salinity level. Most tap waters contain very little or very low amount of these impurities and since the water is going to become a saltwater mix anyway, whether you are adding a reverse osmosis water or otherwise will have little effect. I hope I have made my point clear at this stage.

On the other hand, if let’s say, the water level in the tank drops because of natural evaporation, and since salt will still continue to remain in the system, it would be safe to just top up freshwater going into the tank without bringing any harm to your reef or even your fish. A word of caution though, as you might want to slowly add in the water in order to prevent sudden shock to your pet fish. But what if it comes to freshwater aquarium? So far, I haven’t really tried doing that for my freshwater tank since the cost of servicing and replacing the RO membrane can be costly but however, even if I can afford it, I wouldn’t go ahead with the plan. However, there are aquarists whom I know decide to use and mix a certain percentage of the reverse osmosis water to tap water before putting it into the aquarium so that they can adjust/control the water hardness and pH accordingly. But for me, there are few reasons on why I’ve decided not to.
  1. First of all, once you have decided to use RO water, you should make it a point to constantly use it every time you top up or change the water as your pet fish will have already adjusted to the water condition. It would be unwise to constantly use RO and suddenly switched to normal tap supply as this will put unnecessary stress on your fish as again they will take time to readjust.

  2. RO water also lacks no mineral content and other trace minerals that the fish needs and although there is no conclusive research or evidence that points to the harmful effect that this condition brings, I will still try to avoid it. If you have cichlids tank (either Malawi or Lake Victoria), that would turn into bigger problem as the species would require hard water for survival.

  3. And finally as what I’ve mentioned earlier, cost is still an issue you might want to consider. A 100-gallon aquarium with 25% water change will still require a huge amount of investment to convert it to RO water and imagine the amount of money you will need to spend for this purpose.

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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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