Bring More Puff to Your Aquarium With Freshwater PUFFER FISH

Tetraodon nigroviridis 1.jpg
Photo: Wikipedia (CC)
Are you planning to keep a freshwater PUFFER FISH in your aquarium? Well, before you buy a puffer, make sure that you know everything about it. This type of fish is not your typical freshwater specimen because it requires extra care and attention.

To get you started, here is a concise guide to freshwater puffer fish and what you need to do to keep it healthy and happy.

Know Your Puffer
A lot of pet shops often mislabel their fish. In fact, some store owners are really not familiar when it comes to puffers. They do not know how to distinguish freshwater varieties from brackish or marine species. It is your responsibility to do the preliminary research. You have to know the different freshwater species of puffer fish including their habitat requirements, diet, behavior, and proper care.
Basically, there are at least 40 species of freshwater puffers. However, only a few of them can be found commercially. To make things simpler, it is advisable to narrow down your options to the common puffer fish available in stores and pet shops.

1. Carinotetraodon Travancoricus
This specie is generally known as the Dwarf puffer fish. In some stores, it is labeled as BB puffer or Pea puffer. As the name implies, it is a small puffer fish that grows to about 22 millimeters or less than one inch. It normally has a yellowish color with spots of green and black.
The Dwarf puffer requires a tank that can filled with at least 10 gallons of water. You can make this puffer fish happy if its tank has a sandy substrate with well designed hiding places such as vegetation or big rocks. Like most puffer fish, the Dwarf can become extremely territorial. However, it can coexist with its own kind and could live peacefully with other tank mates.

Dwarf puffers love to feed on small bits of snails, shrimps, and blood worms. Feeding should be twice a day and adults must be given a regular diet of shelled foods so that their beaks will not grow too big.

2. Monotrete Turgidus
Another cute little puffer fish is the turgidus or commonly known as Brown puffer. This is a very personable fish but it is less active than the Dwarf species. It prefers to lurk and hide at the bottom of the tank and will only show itself when it is feeding time.
The Brown puffer grows to about six inches. Its back is greenish with black spots. The belly side is usually brown to grayish with no remarkable spots. This puffer fish thrives well in a 20-gallon tank with water pH level of about 6.0 at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It prefers sandy or pebbly substrate with lots of vegetation and rocks where it can hide during the day. You have to take note that a Brown puffer is a terrible territorial fish. It is very aggressive and will probably eat other tank mates if given the chance.

You can feed this puffer fish with blood worms, chunks of fish meat, shrimps, and krill. As it grows older, you have to feed it with crab legs, clams, or mollusks.

3. Tetraodon Lineatus
Although the lineatus is rarely kept by hobbyists, you may want to try keeping this kind of puffer fish if you love to face big challenges. This specie is generally known as the Nile puffer or Fahaka. It has distinct yellowish lines on its body and can grow so big that a standard tank may not be enough for it. An adult Fahaka is about 18 inches long so you need a wider tank that can be filled with at least 150 gallons of water.

The Fahaka puffer is endemic to Africa, more specifically in the Nile River and its tributaries. However, you could find this fish in some exotic pet shops. This freshwater puffer fish will look marvelous in your aquarium but remember that it requires extra attention and maintenance.

The Fahaka lineatus is known for its extreme aggressiveness and territorial behavior. It will hunt its tank mates and eat them. You can feed this puffer with crustaceans. It also loves snails, shrimps, fish fillet, blood worms, wrigglers, and feeder insects. To make sure that its beak will not grow too big, you should give your Fahaka a regular diet of crab legs, clams, and other shelled feeds.
Additional Tips When Keeping Freshwater Puffer Fish

As stated earlier, some stores often mislabel their freshwater puffers. So you have to watch out for the Green Spotted Puffer (GSP), a brackish-water fish but commonly labeled as freshwater specie. The GSP has distinct green spots on its body. A full-grown adult is about 6 inches long. Because it thrives in brackish water, it will die if you put it in a freshwater tank. If you already have a GSP, make sure to increase the level of water salinity in your tank.

When introducing your puffer fish to its new environment, make sure that it is properly acclimatized. Keep the fish in its plastic bag and allow it to float in the tank for about 15 to 20 minutes to level the water temperature. If you will not do this, your puffer fish could die from shock.

Lastly, do not induce your puffer fish to inflate itself. This is stressful and hazardous for your fish. A puffer inflates its body as a form of defensive action especially when it feels threatened. This action brings considerable amount of stress to your fish which could be harmful. But don't worry because almost all puffer fish will inflate themselves if they want to. Fish enthusiasts usually call it "practice puffing" and it is delightful to see. Be sure to keep your digital camera ready so that you can take good photos when your puffer practices its puffing ability.

Keeping freshwater puffer fish is a good hobby. But always remember that you have to take good care of your puffer to keep it healthy and happy. You have to give ample space and clean habitat for your fish. Most importantly, feed your puffer fish with nutritious and delectable seafood.


Tips on Catalina Or Blue-Banded Goby Care

Blue-Banded Gobies - Photo: Wikimedia
The blue-banded goby or Lythrypnus dalli is a member the family Gobiidae. These intensely colorful fish are native to the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the coastline of California. It is, in fact, often referred to as the Catalina goby.

Collectively gobies constitute one of the largest groupings of fish on the planet. The group is comprised of 267 assorted genera and 2,100 individual species. There are even freshwater gobies but all but about 200 are saltwater varieties. Of those, gobies most commonly live a demersal existence inhabiting tropical and sub-tropical reef eco-systems.

Saltwater faring gobies are renowned for their near symbiotic relationships with crustaceans, sponges, and sea urchins. Of the entire spectrum of bottom-dwelling creatures you can add to a reef tank, it is the goby that is most likely to end up becoming the center of attention.

The blue-banded goby is a small fish only reaching a length of 2-2.5 inches when fully grown. They are cylindrical bodied species with bright reddish-orange coloring and rather unique looking neon blue vertical banding starting at their heads and working its way back to their mid-body.

Like other gobies, you will never see the Catalina goby stray too far from its sanctuary. In a reef tank, you will often see them sunning themselves on rocks or hiding under the friendly protection of a sea urchin.

Gobies are exceedingly docile creatures. They make excellent additions to any reef tank provided their tank mates are equally mild-mannered. Unlike many bottom dwellers, the blue-banded goby exhibits no territorial behavior toward members of its own species. You can add as many to your reef tank as you please as long as there are enough hiding places and food to accommodate a thriving, bottom-dwelling community.

These are a short-lived creature. They generally only live about 18 months. Warmer water temperatures seem to expedite their expiration date. If it is conducive to the other members of the reef, it is recommended that the water temperature is kept between 68-72°F.

These are a carnivorous species. They will remain quite hardy throughout the remainder of their limited lifespan if fed vitamin enriched brine shrimp, or a similar commercially raised live crustacean. They will also eat frozen marine food formulated for carnivores. They have even been known to develop a taste for marine flake food.

Spawning Blue-Banded Goby
Unlike much marine fish, gobies frequently spawn in captivity. Although they have similar color palettes, you will find that you can distinguish between male and female blue-banded gobies with a little practice. If you look closely you will see that some of them have slightly longer dorsal fins than others. These are the males of the species. Determining the sexes is not essential to the prorogation of the species. Gobies are bi-gendered. If there are no males present in a group of gobies a hormonal surge will be triggered in the most dominant female until she undergoes the transformation into a male.

Females will instinctively deposit their eggs in an empty shell or any of the various other hiding places you provide for them. The male will then guard the eggs until they hatch. Fry can be fed liquid or powdered marine food developed hatchlings. When they grow a little bigger they can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp.

    By Stephen J Broy
    The hottest new trend in saltwater aquarium ownership is pet jellyfish. Jellyfish can't be kept in a traditional saltwater tank setup. They need specially designed Jellyfish Fish Tank Aquariums to remain alive and healthy. Jellyfish tanks don't require the constant upkeep normally associated with saltwater aquariums. Moon Jellies are the most popular jellyfish for home aquariums because of their exotic beauty and ease of care. Find out more about Moon Jellyfish and other Pet Jellies. Jellyfish are among the most interesting creatures in the aquatic kingdom.
    Article Source: EzineArticles


Freshwater AQUARIUM PLANTS - Aquatic Botanical Biodiversity

Planted Tank 02
Photo  by The Wandering Angel 
Aquatic plants do carry the other half of the marine ecosystem and are good additions to aquariums simply because they make the marine life equation complete. But there are good signs lately which indicate that these plants are now used for more than just equating the animal-plant balance in an aquatic community. If you are interested in purchasing freshwater aquarium plants for your aquarium, then you might find this information quite useful.


Floaters are a common choice in aquariums because they add that style and elegance aside from the balance that they provide in the entire aquarium. Floaters, as the name suggests, thrive at the surface of the aquarium with their roots "floating" in the water, and are, by technical name, floating plants. One good example of a floater is the Fairy Moss.


These plants are commonly described as having thick stems that stretch out inside the fish tank horizontally, with the leaves sprouting evenly at the stem. They are made to "run" over the substrate, much like how a normal plant grows on land. The Anubias and the African Fern are the commonly used rhizomes for aquariums. Aquarists start growing these plants by attaching them to the driftwood, and they spread along the substrate all by themselves.


These plants are characterized as looking like crowns, with roots that grow underneath them. These kinds of plants are very ornamental for a freshwater aquarium plant because they present a shortened stem axis that tends to spread over its leaves beautifully. The downside is that they tend to need a good amount of maintenance and care. Some good examples of Rosettes are the Amazon Sword and the Sagittaria.


They are called this way because of their general appearance, which basically looks like a stem that is firmly rooted in the substrate. The leaves that can come in paired and multiple varieties are found at the stem's nodes

Other Notable Aquatic Plants

The Java moss may well be considered as one of the most common aquatic plants. This is because it has a high tolerance rate for varying water pH levels, and can grow relatively fast, which makes it the ideal plant for beginners.

The Water Wisteria is a plant that can also grow quite quickly. It is a good plant to use in aquariums because aside from its aesthetic function as a plant, it also helps to keep the algae levels of the aquarium low. Be careful of the water nutrient sucking capability of this plant, though.

Cryptocoryne Becketti is a plant that can pose a challenge to the more experienced hobbyist. It is an amphibious plant, meaning it can grow well regardless if it is on land or underwater (but for its underwater survivability purposes, we shall still call this an aquatic plant). Like Rosettes, it's a very good ornamental plant, as it gives a dazzling array of different colors, but it only works for those who are able to raise it well.

    Sandra Gaffney is a freshwater aquarium expert. 


CALCIUM REACTORS - Do I Really Need One?

Photo  by ctenophore 
Lots of people would like to own an aquarium in their home and are attracted by the thought of owning some of the more exotic species of fish. What puts most people off, however, is the possible cost of all the equipment needed. What might seem to be a relatively inexpensive pet, needing only a tank, a filter, a light, and some fish, can begin to seem more pricey when taking into consideration water treatments and tests, protein skimmers, and CALCIUM REACTORS

But do you actually require a calcium reactor? Just what is a calcium reactor anyway? Is it really so important? The first piece of advice I should offer is to not be scared by the various aquarium supplies available. A large amount of technology being sold might seem huge at first but remember that you don't really need all of this additional equipment. Be sensible, do some research on each item and determine whether you do need their help to keep the environment in your aquarium clean. Secondly - calcium reactors. So just what is a calcium reactor?

A calcium reactor is a piece of aquarium equipment designed to keep the level of calcium in your water high. This is especially useful if there is a particular drain on calcium levels in the aquarium. A lack of calcium can occur when there are several saltwater fish in a tank but is more often caused by placing a reef in the tank with them. For those with reef tanks, it is crucial to have a calcium reactor. Most species of fish are vulnerable to fluctuating calcium levels and will be badly affected if the calcium content reaches a certain level.

Additional costs such as calcium reactors will certainly increase the overall cost of an aquarium. However, it is important to see that they can also provide you with the ability to keep more exotic and diverse tanks. Anyone can create a basic freshwater aquarium, but a diverse marine tank including coral life is far more complex and impressive, and also a challenge to maintain correctly.

So rather than focusing on the costs of such a challenge think of what an opportunity you will be giving yourself. But don't stress; you shouldn't need to buy a calcium reactor immediately. In fact, it should be several weeks before the calcium in the tank will need to be altered. Only when you've populated your tank fully will it become necessary.


WHITE SPOT or ICK Is a Common, But Easily Curable FISH DISEASE

Peter R. Richter, Sebastian M. Strauch, Azizullah Azizullah and Donat-P. H├Ąder - Photo: Wikipedia
White Spot
White spot disease is caused by a parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifilis. This disease is also called Ick or occasionally Ich or Ichy.

The fish has white spots on its skin. The spots are about the size of a pinhead and the fish can look as if it has been sprinkled with salt or sugar grains. The parasite also attacks the gills of fish. This is more difficult to see. The gills may look more red than usual, but this is hard to see, and excessively red gills can be caused by a number of things. The gill infection makes it more difficult for the fish to absorb Oxygen from the water and infected fish can show signs of being short of Oxygen like "gasping" at the surface, or apparently breathing very fast. This shortage of Oxygen can be caused by many things.

Sometimes fish will swim down and try to rub their skin against objects. This is called "flashing" and can be caused by any skin irritation.

Sometimes fish show no obvious symptoms, but simply die. If a fish dies you should take a very close look at all the fish in the tank.

This is a very common disease of fish. The parasite is present at low levels in most aquariums, often without causing any trouble. Most fish have been exposed to this parasite and have developed some immunity. Those fish that have been raised in the complete absence of the parasite will not have this acquired immunity and will be very vulnerable to infection.

The statement that this parasite is present in most aquariums is often misunderstood. Ichthyophthirius multifilis cannot lie dormant for long periods. It survives by living on fish. An aquarium might be empty of fish for a month. It would be free of the white spot parasite. Then a fish was bought which was free of any visible disease and then quarantined. This fish could be introduced into the empty tank and develop white spot. The erroneous conclusion might be drawn that either the empty tank had a dormant white spot, or that the quarantine was not correctly done.

What would actually have happened would simply be that the fish had a white spot infection without any symptoms. A successful parasite does not make its host ill. If the parasite wiped out all the fish in the aquarium, pond or lake it was in, the parasite itself would also die. In the wild, the white spot parasite is apparently successful and most of the time does not kill its host. In the unnatural ecosystem of an aquarium, it can easily get out of balance and kill all the fish. This is not only fatal to the fish; it is also fatal to the parasite.

The ideal parasite is one that actually gives some advantage to its host. As far as I am aware, having the white spot parasite is no advantage to fish, but other parasite/host relationships may have developed into symbiotic ones where both organisms get an advantage.

If something stresses the fish, their immune system often becomes less effective. The same effect can be observed in people. You are much more likely to get both minor and major diseases when you are under stress.

There are many things that can stress fish. One very common one is simply being caught, put into a plastic bag and transported to a new home. A common time for an outbreak of White Spot is just after a new fish has been added. Some people incorrectly assume that the new fish has introduced the parasite. They may then go back to the shop they bought it from and see that the tank the fish came from is perfectly all right.

Other types of stress include changes in temperature, pH, dH or any other water parameter.

Life Cycle
Ichthyophthirius Multifilisis an obligate parasite. This means that it can only live in the presence of fish. The actual visible white spots are the feeding stage, called a trophont. The trophont grows and then drops off the fish, falling to the bottom of the tank and forms a cyst called a tomont. Inside the tomont, as many as 1000 tomites can form. The tomont opens and the tomites go into the water.

The time it takes for Ichthyophthirius Multifilis to complete its life cycle depends on the temperature of the water. At 6 degrees C (43 degrees F) is gets through its life cycle in about 55 days, while at 29 degrees C (84 degrees F) it completes its cycle in only about 4 days.

The tomites have to find a fish quickly or they will die. At normal tropical fish tank temperatures, they only have about 2 days to find a fish to infect.

The trophont on the fish probably cannot be successfully treated, although claims have been made of successful treatments with salt baths. The tomonts on the bottom of the tank are also hard to kill although they can be removed by gravel washing. Keeping the tank clean will help.

The only stage that is readily susceptible to treatment is the free swimming tomite. This can be killed by many things including heat, ultraviolet light, salt and many other chemicals.

There are many possible forms of treatment. All the different ways of killing off the parasite suffer from the problem that there are many strains of this parasite and they vary in their susceptibility to the treatments. Here are a few of the ways of treating this disease:

There are many commercial treatments for white spot. They generally use some combination of chemicals like Methylene Blue, Malachite Green, Formaldehyde, Acriflavine etc. In our own tanks, the medication I prefer is Wardley Ickaway, but different people will have their own preferences.
Note that these medications are absorbed by activated carbon and if you have carbon filtration it will need to be turned off. Most of the medications are also destroyed by ultraviolet light, so ultraviolet sterilization will also need to be turned off.

Tetras and other Characins, scaleless fish like loaches and catfish as well as baby fish are more susceptible to many of these medications, and they will need to be used a half the normal rate. You can use the half rate at double the normal frequency.

The life cycle of this parasite is speeded up enormously by heat. Increasing the temperature will make the chemical treatments work faster, but will also mean that the infection will spread faster.

However, if the temperature is raised enough the parasite cannot reproduce and the infection can be cured just with heat. But some types of fish cannot survive the temperature needed to destroy white spot. To break the life cycle of this parasite you need to raise the temperature to about 30 degrees C (86 degrees F). To actually kill the parasite you need to raise the temperature to about 32 degrees C (89.6 degrees F). This temperature would need to be maintained for at least four days to have much chance of killing the parasite. Not all fish can survive this treatment and many that can be badly stressed by it. Increased aeration will be needed because Oxygen does not dissolve as much in warm water, and the fish's metabolism increases as the water warm up to the need more Oxygen.

This method of treatment is sometimes the method of choice if you are treating Labyrinth fish like Siamese Fighting Fish, Gouramis or Paradise Fish. These fish can survive the temperatures needed and can breathe air as well as water.

Some people have reported success in treating this disease by the careful use of chlorinated tap water. Personally, I would not attempt this, and I advise other people not to try. The actual level of Chlorine in the water as it comes from the tap varies, not just with the locality, but also with the day of the week and the season of the year.

Apart from the difficulty of getting the dose of Chlorine right, there is the problem that some places, like the Adelaide Hills where I live, have Chloranimated water. This is deadly to fish and I would not risk using the water at all without dechloranimating it.

Salt will kill the white spot parasite, but different strains have different tolerances. Most strains of the white spot will be killed by 3 grams per liter of salt, but to be sure you will need to use 5 grams per liter.

This means that many common aquarium fish cannot survive the level of salt needed to kill white spot. Generally, this treatment method is unsuitable for fish from places without much salt in the water like the rivers Amazon, Congo, and Orinoco.

It can be used on the livebearers like Guppies, Mollies, Platies, and Swordtails. It can also be used with some of the Australian fish like the Murray Cod, Silver Perch, and Callop, but not safely on the Rainbowfish.

Most aquarium plants will be killed by this level of salt.

Ultraviolet Radiation
Ultraviolet light will kill the free swimming tomite stage of the parasite, but can only work on the tomites actually sucked through the ultraviolet sterilizer. You are more likely to get good results if the ultraviolet unit is more powerful than usually recommended for your sized aquarium.

An ultraviolet filter will help to prevent white spot, but cannot be relied on to cure it.

Disease Free Fish
It is possible to breed fish in the complete absence of the white spot parasite. This happens with many of the livebearers bred in Malaysia. These fish are grown in water which is a mixture of freshwater and seawater, sometimes having as much as half the salt concentration of pure sea water. These fish will never have been exposed to white spot and to some other diseases and will be very susceptible to them. These fish can be wiped out quickly. If they are bought they need to be observed and treatment applied quickly as needed. Aquarium shops will normally warn their customers that the fish are disease-free.

Secondary Infections
White spot infection damages the skin of the fish and it is common for bacterial or fungal infections to occur together with the white spot.

Susceptible Fish
Some types of fish get the white spot disease more easily than others. The Clown Loach has a particularly bad reputation for getting this disease.



Photo:  Wikimedia Commons.
Have you ever walked in a shop and wondered why an awkwardly looking fish is staring at you? You might question the aesthetic appreciation of the owner for keeping what seems to be an ugly fish. If you would ask the owner or the keeper of the store, they would tell you that the fish is the bearer of good luck. The strange looking fish is the flowerhorn cichlid. The FLOWERHORN CICHLID has been famous among business owners. Due to their association with bringing great fortune, the Flowerhorn sale has been proliferating mostly in the Asian countries.

The rampant crossbreeding of South American cichlids resulted to the flowerhorn cichlid. The new species of cichlid was developed in the mid 90's in Malaysia. The combination of the species used is still unknown except for those who made them. Both the male and female flowerhorn has the same appearance. One must be very keen to differentiate between the sexes. When the fish is approximately 10-12 centimeters, one can differentiate the male from the female flowerhorn by checking the anal pore. A U shaped anal pore signifies a female flowerhorn, while a V-shaped anal pore is for the male flowerhorn.

The flowerhorn sale is not greatly affected by the sex of the fish. The markings and the huge hump on the head appear both in the male and female flowerhorn. The black markings resemble the Chines characters at times. A fish with a pronounced marking will be considered very special. The hump on the head of the fish is believed to resemble the high- forehead of SHou Xing the Chinese God of Longevity.

The flowerhorn fish is easy to maintain. One must have an aquarium that would have an ample space for the fish to swim in. One to three flowerhorn fish can be kept in a spacious aquarium. If more than one fish is to be kept, however, there should be enough accessories or items that would make the territories of the fish separate and distinct. Small variations in the condition of the water would not bother the resilient fish much. A neutral or alkaline water is best in keeping the fish. Water with a lower pH would fade the color of the fish.

The flowerhorn cichlid is kept because people believe it is lucky or just merely because of its interesting appearance. No matter what the reasons are, flowerhorn cichlids are one of the favorites of an aquarist.

    Quintus Macon is a freelance writer and a budding aquarist who owns a female flowerhorn.
    Article Directory: EzineArticles


Cheap DISCUS FISH - 3 Important Tips

Discus Fish
If you are planning to have an aquarium in your house then one of the best fishes to consider is cheap discus fish. This type of fish has very attractive outer looks that add beauty to your entire aquarium. However, it is likewise important to observe some maintenance tips when raising this kind of fish to ensure that they survive long enough to breed and reproduce.

This type of fish generally requires close attention to keep them healthy at all times. You may also need to observe proper environmental requirements for its survival to ensure their health and breeding capacity. One of the important things that you need to observe when raising cheap discus fish is to keep the aquarium balance. In other words, you need to create a well-balanced environment for the fish for its optimum health.

One of the things that you must always remember is that this kind of fish requires ample space to swim around. The most ideal space provision is 1 fish per ten gallons of water; hence, if your tank capacity is 40 gallons of water then the ideal maximum number of discus fishes is four. Raising more than this number is already considered as an overcrowded place for them to live healthily. Hence, it is best to observe this rule of thumb.

Another equally important aspect that you should consider is to place the cheap discus fish in tanks that are taller; or in deep aquariums. They prefer to swim around in deeper tanks rather than in longer yet shallow tanks. The ideal depth for these fishes to swim around is 3 feet tall; hence, consider purchasing aquariums with at least 3 feet in water depth. Although, they can swim around in swallow tanks with depths lesser than three feet; however, it may sometimes cause stress among them as they are not able to dive down deeper than what they are used to swim.

Lastly, but definitely not the least among the tips on raising cheap discus fish, is to keep the water clean and well balanced in terms of PH factor. The most ideal PH of aquarium water for this kind of fish should be within the 5 to 6.5 PH range. Similarly, its water temperature should be within the range of 82 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit for its optimum health.

These 3 important tips on how to raise cheap discus fish are useful when planning to raise this type of fish in your aquarium.