Three Questions You Should Ask About JAVA FERNS

Okay so picking the right plants for your betta tank doesn't have to be done with the same care you would give say picking a brain surgeon - or like your life depended on it. But this is still a decision worthy of a bit of brain sweat. Okay maybe just a little. Because the answer may lie in a plant you may never have heard of before. Java Ferns

or Java Fern, one of only a few ferns capable ...
Java Fern, one of only a few ferns capable of growing underwater. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
That's right. The java fern could just be the best aquarium plant you have never heard of. It's an even better betta fish plant, if I'm allowed to so designate one. Plus it's a low maintenance bit of vegetation that should do just fine in your tank and bring with it several benefits.

Having been sold on the idea, as with all things betta, there are some questions you might wish to ask about this planted tank adventure that you might not think of so let me suggest a few. These are extracted from the list of less than obvious questions about java ferns you may not have thought of but should have.

Question #1: So why is this a good plant for bettas?
It's simple. Plants help to keep nitrate levels down. And low nitrate levels equate to better water quality which equates to healthier fish. Aside from that these ferns provide shelter or just a place for a betta to take a break. You may see your fish just resting on one of the leaves. Plus they add to the overall beauty of the tank you've got going there.

Question #2: Sounds good, then how do I get started with these?
Success with java ferns begins with cured driftwood. Given these plants are rhizome based, meaning the leaves and roots develop from one, you'll want to simply tie your plant to the driftwood with fishing line until its roots take hold. After a few weeks you can snip off the line as the plant should be firmly attached by then. The roots will spread across the face of the wood from there.

The big idea here is to avoid burying the rhizome in the gravel or substrate. That will doom your plant to a fairly quick death.

Question #3: Will I need to provide any kind of fertilization?
Good question with a short answer. It depends. That and everyone has their favorite one be it something like Leaf Zone or some other commercial aquarium plant food. Plus there are no hard and fast rules for feeding.

Here's the deal with the fertilizer. The amount your plants will need to thrive depends on how much light they get. To put it simply the more light the plants get the hungrier they'll be. So more light equates to higher fertilizer or food requirements. The trick is too much of this stuff and you'll only be encouraging unwanted algae growth. Too little and your plants may be stymied. Much like Goldilocks, the amount to use needs to be just right. Which you can only determine from firsthand experience.

Still the nice thing about java ferns is they'll make do with the light you provide. Taking anything from bright to low light and making the best of it.
Anyway those are three lesser, yet good to know questions about java fern that you might not have thought of asking off the top of your head. So now you know.


Pros and Cons of Using Reverse OSMOSIS Systems

The term “reverse osmosis systems” may sound too scientific to you, but these are as common to everyday life as the water you drink. To put it simply, reverse osmosis (RO) systems used in households refer to purifying devices, which forcibly separate solutes from water with the use of a partially permeable membrane (filter) and water pressure. To decide whether you need one, you must first understand how it works as well as its pros and cons.

English: reverse osmosis device for auqarium w...
Reverse osmosis device for auqarium water treatment  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Understanding reverse osmosis - In osmosis, a selectively permeable membrane divides a solution according to its solute concentration. The natural motion of a liquid solution (osmotic pressure) causes its molecules to pass through the membrane in the direction of low to high concentration.

By contrast, reverse osmosis systems cause the solution to flow from high to low concentration, preventing substances with larger molecules from coming through the membrane. Reverse osmosis systems also work differently in that they utilize external force.

Domestic uses of reverse osmosis (RO) systems - Various RO systems are not only used in healthcare (e.g., dialysis), manufacturing, and urban planning, but reverse osmosis is also used at home for drinking water filtration and aquarium maintenance. In developed countries, tap water goes through water purification systems that use reverse osmosis among other means of treating water. In many parts of the world, RO water treatment devices for domestic use are quickly rising in popularity, mostly through door-to-door sales and appliance store promotions.

Aside from potable water supply, RO systems are popular among aquarists, especially those who maintain a reef aquarium. If you plan to set up (or trade in) your freshwater fish-only tank for a reef aquarium in your home, then you should invest in good reverse osmosis systems. A reef aquarium has higher water chemistry requirements than a fish-only aquarium, especially in terms of salinity, so you need to use an RO system to simulate seawater. In addition, water supply to your home is chemically treated, and as such, it means trouble for the living things inside your tank. Substances can contaminate your reef tank’s delicate condition and encourage the growth of algae. Although the presence of algae in your tank is beneficial up to a certain point, having too many is bad in that algae compete with organisms in your tank for nutrients.  They are also unsightly.

Advantages and disadvantages - Reverse osmosis systems are chemical-free, so whether you’re buying a device for drinking water filtration or aquarium maintenance, this is their biggest advantage. Reverse osmosis doesn’t affect the smell and taste of water, doesn't require high maintenance, and doesn't use up too much power.

However, RO systems have low back pressure, so the volume of water that they need is also great.  Continued use will also quickly fill up your septic tank. RO systems are not “purifiers,” as they are only capable of filtering solutes but not killing bacteria. In addition, they may also filter out useful substances, such as calcium and magnesium.

Reverse Osmosis systems are relatively environment-friendly and efficient. However, RO systems for home use may not be as cost-effective and efficient as they usually are at industry level, so examine your needs first before making a decision.


Pseudotropheus Elongatus - One of the Original MBUNA

Maybe  it is the sleek, torpedo shape knifing through the waters of the aquarium, unlike most other types of fish which are built much more like...well, fish!  Or possibly the brilliant, usually blue and black vertical striped  colourations, are what attracted me in the first place, and hold me fascinated as they swim.  There are some other morphs and colorations coming into the trade as time goes by, but the blue and black bars of an alpha male will always be my favorite pattern for this fish.

Elongate mbuna
Elongate mbuna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most likely it is the way they carry themselves with pure attitude, from fry on up that makes them so memorable.  Rarely do they allow themselves to be bullied, and generally end up as the fish to be concerned about when new additions are added.  They are already kings and queens and will ensure the rest are aware of their status.  An alpha male, patrolling the aquarium and ensuring all others flee when near is a spectacle I can watch for hours.

Like many other Mbuna from Lake Malawi, the elongatus has developed as a mouth brooder. Although this form of parental behaviour is not unique to this species, it is fascinating to watch.  I have had established aquariums where many generations live and thrive in the same tank.  Father, Son, Grandson, great grandson and even more generations all grow and thrive together over time and interbreed their generations if allowed.

Unlike livebearers who simply drop their babies someplace and leave, rarely recognizing them later as anything other than food, the entire cichlid family provides some form of parenting behaviour.  South American Cichlids share the duties with both parents often protecting the eggs where they have been laid.  They then continue protecting the brood as they hatch and then begin to swim.  For most species this a job for both male and female of the pair, and for this reason many species form long-term bonds.

The Mbuna, or African CIchlids generally take this protection a step further, holding the young within the mouth of the female until the fry are free-swimming and able to fend for themselves.  Unlike many others that pair-bond, it seems the female takes the responsibilities for the fry on herself and pairing will be much more fluid.  This is important to understand since when after the courtship and the eggs have been laid, the female may not eat for up to three weeks to prevent accidental ingestion of the precious cargo she is carrying in her mouth.  The male does not share these duties, and can even be working with another female during this period.

Elongatus, like most African Cichlids, are more difficult to sex and to compound the problem there are  extreme discrepancies in the ratio of the sexes for many Mbuna species.  There are commonly many more females than males born and raised to maturity. It is often best to purchase these fish, as unsexed juveniles in schools of 6 or so, that way you should get at least one viable pair when they mature. This also helps with controlling the aggressive tendencies of the fish and keeps them busier among themselves establishing territory and dominance in the group rather than beating up the other species kept in the aquarium.

Once grown, the males are generally larger than the females.  The egg patches on the anal fins are often more intensely coloured for the females, offering better visual targets for the males in the breeding rituals. As a species they are very aggressive, even for African Mbuna,  But, with enough distractions, simply add plenty of activity to the aquarium.  Don't obtain these fish if you are looking for a peaceful and placid aquarium community.

The living area should be as large as possible, with a 30 gallon aquarium being my personal minimum for them.  Decorations should be basically rocks - usually the flatter and stackable the better.  I have had the most success with lots of slate that is piled up in such a manner that there are all sorts of small spaces and channels for the babies, once they have been released from the mother's mouth.  They need to rapidly find places and swimming paths where bigger fish mouths simply cannot go.  The rocks should be piles in the back of the aquarium with free swimming areas open in the front. I also tend to offer a few caves or other hiding places in the front that often become the sole property of the tank alpha male.

Some people have had success with live plants with Africans, or so they report, but I have always found that if they don't eat them, then they will dig them up, so I have always reverted to rock decorations only.

I keep the tank relatively high in pH, although nowhere close to the recommendation of Hans Baensch - p 756 - Baensch Aquarium Atlas which is 8.5.  My fish do fine in Montreal's standard water - about 7.6 - 7.8.  The water is supplemented with an African Cichlid conditioner to bring up the hardness and stabilize alkalinity, but other than that, at present no other work is done on the water characteristics.

I do very little as far as exotic foods.  Most African Cichlids do very well on the various prepared foods available at the local pet store. Cichlid pellets, either floating or sinking are usually quite enough, although I do feed them some staple flakes as well.  At present the food I have is a sinking small Cichlid micro pellet for the tank of essentially juvenile Africans.  The pellets seem to sink quite fast to a single place, so the addition of flakes lets everyone feed at other levels in the aquarium.

    By Stephen Pond
    Having kept and bred many different types of tropical fish for the past forty years, I am dedicated to providing information required for the novice aquarist to to the advanced tropical fish keeper to become successful in this fascinating hobby. I continue to provide as much information on all aspects of the hobby through my website with its associated blogs and video areas dedicated to quite a number of aquarium topics at the Tropical Fish Aquarist website. It has been designed to provide an excellent resource for every level of fish enthusiast. For more detailed information specifically tailored for the novice aquarist on all aspects of the beginning aquarium check the website at http://www.noviceaquarist.com Besides my own personal contributions, a variety of other sources are polled and added regularly to the content warehouse available there.
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    Article Source: EzineArticles



The bucktooth tetra (Exodon paradoxus) is an interesting and unique addition to the home aquarium, but it brings along various challenges that must be met for its successful keeping. Most of these difficulties revolve around its nasty behavior in captivity. In fact, some aquarists may argue that, ounce for ounce, E. paradoxus is one of the most aggressive fish available in the hobby.

English: Bucktooth Tetra (Exodon paradoxus) at...
Bucktooth Tetra (Exodon paradoxus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The bucktooth tetra is native to the Amazon River Basin and Guyana areas. When one hears the name, it brings about images of large, protruding teeth, but in reality, the appearance of E. paradoxus is not that extreme. A casual examination of the mouth reveals that E. paradoxus has serrated lips but not the pronounced dentition that one might associate with a name like bucktooth tetra.

Though this may initially seem disappointing to hobbyists looking for a fish with large, visible teeth, E. paradoxus has tremendously powerful jaws for its size, and its teeth are more pronounced and well developed in comparison to that of various community tetras.

The color scheme of E. paradoxus is beautiful: a bright, metallic-silver base accompanied by yellow fins with orange and red tips. Throughout the body are casts of yellow, red, and green. There are also two large black spots, one near the middle of the body and the other at the base of the tail. When maintained under optimum water quality and good lighting, the metallic sheen of the body often reflects blue and purple iridescence.

In the wild, E. paradoxus is a shoaling species with carnivorous tendencies. Insects, small fish, shrimp, and other forms of meaty fare make up the bulk of its diet, but the bucktooth tetra is also a well-known lepidophage (scale eater). This specialized form of feeding creates a problem for aquarists, making almost any fish kept with E. paradoxus at risk for injury.

Keeping the Bucktooth Tetra
E. paradoxus offered for sale at most aquatics stores usually measure 2 to 3 inches long, but they are capable of growing to around 6 inches. It is a slow-growing species, but for every inch that the fish puts on in length, a substantial amount of bulk and body mass is acquired. The bucktooth tetra spends most of its time midwater, but all levels of the aquarium are explored when food is added to the tank or the activity of another inhabitant catches its attention.

Being an extremely active fish, adult specimens must be kept in aquariums that are both long and wide. The minimum size would be a standard 55-gallon aquarium, but, as always, the bigger the better. E. paradoxus is highly adaptable to a wide range of water parameters, but extremes should be avoided. An ideal pH range would be roughly 6.2 to 7.4. Large, frequent water changes are enjoyed, and the bucktooth tetra often becomes even more active after routine maintenance.

The bucktooth tetra is not a picky eater in captivity and will accept various foods, such as brine shrimp, mysid shrimp, bloodworms, chopped earthworms, beef heart, cut fish fillet, as well as flake and pellet foods to balance out nutrition. I have a few spare tanks in which I breed feeder guppies and gutload them with veggie flakes before offering them to my various smaller predatory species.

My E. paradoxus are remarkably precise and efficient predators, often snatching guppies at the water surface extremely quickly. The only way I can tell that they are actually catching the guppies is from the small lumps in their stomachs. When any type of food hits the water, it sparks a feeding frenzy unparalleled by most other aquarium species.

Tank decor can include pieces of driftwood, rocks, slate, pots, and artificial caves. Driftwood with a root-system-like appearance makes for striking scenery, as a school of E. paradoxus will endlessly zip in and out of the root-like structures throughout the day. Although bucktooth tetras spend most of their time out in the open, hiding places are utilized to take an occasional break from their seemingly endless activity.

E. paradoxus show their colors best when maintained with a dark substrate and live plants accompanied by a dark background. Suitable plants include broad-leaved species such as Amazon swords and Java fern, as well as various grass-like plants such as Vallisneria species.

Floating plants are also appreciated by E. paradoxus for providing shaded areas and creating a more realistic environment. To find out more, you can check out Buck Tooth Tetra.

    By Jon T Cole
    Hi, I'm a traveler, fishes fanatic, reader and teacher. I hope to share my fishes experiences with you through my articles. If you like my articles, do share with your friends. I thank you for that first.
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AQUARIUMS Provide Relaxing Entertainment

Owning a fish aquarium can be a very relaxing hobby. If you have small children, they will spend many hours mesmerized by brightly colored fish swimming around and frolicking. In fact, aquariums are a great way to bring the family together, especially if you allow each of your children to pick out one special fish (of the breeds you are planning to have in your aquarium) to be his or her very own fish.

Riffbecken (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite the relaxing nature of aquariums they are not a no care item. In fact there are many things that must be considered when choosing the proper aquarium for your specific needs. Aquariums today come in many shapes and sizes take care when selecting the one that will best suit your needs. 

It is always a better idea to know what you are going to be using your aquarium for before purchasing and setting it up. You do not want to have to undo all the work that goes into an aquarium because it won’t sustain the fish and plant life you have planned for it, nor do you want to kill your fish because you have a tank that is improperly set up or proportioned to house them.

Once you’ve decided the basics (saltwater vs. freshwater, reef tank, or live plant tank) then you will want to consider how many fish you want to house in your tank. A good rule of thumb is to plan for one inch of fish per square foot of surface area in freshwater tanks and three inches of fish per square foot in a saltwater tank. Larger tanks require much less maintenance when properly populated than smaller tanks. The trick is to remember it is better to have less than the maximum than to go over. 

Having an aquarium can be a great way to relax at the end of a long workday or workweek. These pets do not require daily walking or litter box cleaning almost daily, but they are an investment and do require some maintenance. Care properly for the animals in your aquarium and it should provide you with a wealth of entertainment over the years.



Neon velvet damselfish or Neoglyphidodon oxyodon (Paraglyphidodon oxyodon) belong to the family Pomacentridae. This species is indigenous to the western central Pacific and Indo-Australian Archipelago including Indonesia and the Philippines. Large concentrations can be found off the coastlines Fiji. This species often inhabits inshore reefs and the reef flats of lagoons. They tend to congregate in shallow, current swept waters.

"Neoglyphidodon oxyodon.Licensed under GFDL via Commons 

Velvets have an elongated oval shaped body with a soft black, velvety appearance. This species has two neon blue stripes sweeping back from its snout. The first is above the eye, the second below. A second set of neon striping falls diagonally from their backs. They have a single, large white vertical bar just behind their head. Their black fins are commonly accented with neon blue trim. These neon accents are striking against the black velvet backdrop. Unfortunately, these fish often loose their vibrant coloration as they mature. This species is also marketed by the aquarium trade under the pseudonyms Blue Velvet Damselfish, Javanese Damselfish, and Blue-Streak Devil. The latter bears reference to their demeanor.

Unlike its docile cousin the green chromis, Neon Velvets have the attitude one would expect from a damselfish. This species is not suited for a peaceful community tank. These are innately aggressive fish who will bully any tank mate of lesser temperament.Conspecifics will elicit a full out feud for territorial rights. A mated pair may be housed together but any thought of multiples will require a very large aquarium. Large angelfish, butterflies, tangs and surgeonfish are suitable tank mates provided they are not large enough to see the damsel as a tasty snack. A fish must have one nasty disposition to fend for itself among species two to three times its size, hence the name blue-streak devil. This species is rated reef safe.

These are medium sized fish. They will grow to a maximum adult length of 6 inches. A mated pair will require a 30 gallon tank. For a single or couple to be kept in a community setting you will need whatever tanks is recommended for their larger tank mates. This species has a moderate care level. One factor bears mentioning. Damsels are predisposed to heavily oxygenated environments. This can be accomplished with the use of multiple air stones.

This is an omnivorous species. They are not picky eaters and will readily acclimate to aquarium food. A well balance diet will maintain fit and vigor.

Neon Velvet Spawning
This is one of the few species to be successfully bred in captivity. They have even been known to breed in home aquariums. With due diligence you can track down a mated pair to insure compatibility.

The first indication of intended spawing is found within the actions of the male. He will establish his breeding grounds by cleaning off a rock ledge or coral surface for the deposit of eggs. He will then begin to swim around in a frenzy making clicking noises to seduce his intended mate. During this courting ritual the male's coloration will increase dramatically. In the wild a male will often breed with several females. If the female accepts his proposal, she will deposit her eggs. He will waste no time in their fertilization. The entire courtship and breeding process is over within 20 minutes.

A female may lay as many as 20,000 eggs. It is the male's job to guard and care for the eggs until they hatch. He will fan the eggs with his fins to increase oxygenation levels and pick out any dead eggs from the batch. Males will defend their eggs with complete disregard for their own safety. The eggs will hatch in 3-7 days. They will emerge as larvae. The larvae will drift around feeding on plankton. They develop into juvenile fish in approximately two weeks.

    By Stephen J Broy
    Technological advancements in the aquarium industry continually redefine the concept of "home aquarium owner." Just twenty years ago not even the biggest public aquarium was capable of keeping jellyfish alive in captivity. Now they make desktop Jellyfish Fish Tank Aquariums. And why would you want a jellyfish tank? Perhaps you should check out what the translucent bodies of Pet Moon Jellyfish look like under LED lighting. Pet Jellyfish give a whole new meaning to the term exotic pets.
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The Oscar Cichlid is an intelligent fish which creates a friendly bond between itself and its owner. To achieve this, the fish requires the utmost care and undivided attention. They respond well to gestures and will swim into your palm once the bond is formed. The Oscar Cichlid has lots of amusing gestures. For instance it knows when the owner gets home and will wag its tail.

English: These are my pet Oscars, I call them ...
Oscar Cichlid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The personality of the Oscar Cichlid is unmistakable. In the first instance, they will be timid and will spend most of their time in hiding. As time goes by, they gradually come out and interact with the owner. Within no time, the fish will eat from the hand of the owner as well as ask for food.

They will swim to the surface while moving their teeth as though they are eating. This gesture is meant to mean that it's time to feed.

The name Oscar is the most commonly used while the scientific name is Astronotus ocellatus. It goes by other names like Velvet and Marble. As a pet, the Oscar is very easy to keep. However it needs a very big aquarium, large enough for it to swim freely around and burrow. In particular, it needs a well maintained water volume of up to a maximum of 600 liters.

In the aquarium, you need to include plants also although they are easily uprooted. Include in it bigger rocks so that the fish can be able to find places to hide.

It is not possible to immediately tell the sex of the Oscar. To tell the difference, you should wait for them to start spawning. When they are ready, the sexual organ will be evident on the female. Usually these fish will form a lifelong relationship with each other.

When breeding these fish, it is a good idea to breed them in even pairs of males and females. This encourages them to choose a mate for themselves. In the event one of them dies, they will rarely make new relationships. This might be the time to go and purchase a new pair.

The size of the adult will be up to around 45cm and weigh up to 3.5 pounds. The best temperatures to keep these fish in are between 22 and 26 °C. Their feeding is pretty general. They feed on almost anything a fish can feed on. It is however recommended that you feed them with protein foods.

They originate from river stems in South America. It is good to note that the fish should not be placed in communal tanks where the fish are all smaller that the Oscar. It is generally not aggressive but during breeding, the fish overly protects its young and could be hostile.In times of danger, the female Oscar cichlid will protect its young ones through mouth brooding.

you can generally tell the males due to the dark spots located towards the dorsal fin. The males also generally mature faster than females do. Within a year, the Oscar can reach its sexual maturity and continue with this for up to 10 years.

    By Pauly Freeman
    Want to know more about the Oscar Cichlid [http://www.cichlidssite.com/oscar-cichlids/]? Then check out www.CichlidsSite.com [http://www.cichlidssite.com/] for the latest info on caring for, breeding and raising big beautiful Oscars.
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