Rapid Grow Fertilizer- General Care-
Goodeids- Lighting- Plants
Fish- Shipping- Swordtails- Tank Maintenance- Water Quality
So How Many People actually Work at Select Aquatics?
I enjoy responding to customer emails, and generally
respond to all emails within 48 hours. Many write to follow up on
or past purchases, solving a problem, or letting me know how their fish
are doing. I very much appreciate hearing
those who have bought fish, always on the lookout for ways to improve
husbandry here, so that they do well for you,
wherever you are. We care how you do with your fish, and many of our
customers return often, pleased with how well the
have done for them.
But some questions come up occasionally, and when I
was asked the first question below by two different people,
separate times, it seemed that putting up an FAQ
section might be a good idea. It also gives me an opportunity
to address issues not covered elsewhere, and in a slightly
less formal, and hopefully informative way.
this answers questions you may have, and if not, just drop me an email!
(BTW-Putting in a layer of the water soluble
Rapid Grow fertilizer under your substrate could very likely kill your
Rapid Grow Fertilizer
Q- Can I simply put a layer of your
fertilizer over a layer of soil
across the bottom of my tank, then cover it in gravel for the
plants to root into?
not. Like many fertilizers, the Rapid
Grow Fertilizer will become toxic at higher concentrations.
The dosage was carefully determined based on the standard
care and water change schedule most hobbyists practice.
Q- How long will the mix last once it is made?
A- I have found
that fungus seems to begin appearing about 1 month after the mix is created at room temperature.
Refrigeration will probably extend its life.
Q- What if I treat more than twice a month?
A- Here I treat at twice
the recommended dosage once a month- I do this to expose any problems
that may occur when
used at larger amounts than
recommended. I have tried twice a month at twice dosage, and I felt that
it was not
necessary as plant growth was
already at maximum levels. It would come down to your water change
husbandry practices, but keep
in mind that the potential for disaster exists, and plants will only
grow at fixed
rates. Dose as often as you
like, but keep the amount of fertilizer going into the tank to the
dosage. The only concern is to
continue adequate water changes, as high concntrations of this
fertilizer - like all
fertilizers, will cause
problems for the fish.
Q- Can your
fertilizer be used in combination with other fertilizers / products?
A- At this point I
cannot answer that question- others have done so with no reports of any
issues. It has not been
tested with other products.
Other products were simply not taken into consideration when tested and
determined. If anyone does have
any information regarding the use of this fertilizer with any other
please drop me an email, and I
would like to know more about it. Also it is not necessary to use CO2
fertilizer, and those who have
used CO2 with this fertilizer have not contacted me with any issues.
Q- What is in your
A- It has been slightly
modified over the last two years to dial in the most effective mix with
the least potential
for problems. I am not a
hydroponics or plant fertilizer expert, nor do I possess the background
to argue the
benefits or choices of
chemicals used. The development of this product was done with much help
from the experts at
two hydroponics companies that
I communicate with, and their established commercial products are mixed
in such a
way that maximum growth is
achieved without doing any harm to the variety of vertebrates and
invertebrates kept in
an aquarium, and at a cost that is
a fraction of standard aquarium fertilizers currently available. There
are also algae
inhibitors included that hold
down algae growth. The Hydroponics outlet I frequent has told me that
contacted them asking what my
basic foundation products are, and they will not release that
flattered, but the application
of these products when done improperly could cause problems in the
aquarium. In short,
I don’t release the ingredient
list or the base products I use in the fertilizer. Sorry…
Q- So…Ok, what complaints have there been?
A- I have been
surprised at the lack of complaints, and many testimonials as to the
wonders it has done for tanks
where customers claimed they
had never been able to keep plants. Since its introduction about 3 years
has only been one complaint. A
friend in Colorado claimed his weather loach would swim around irritated
treatment with the fertilizer,
sometimes would even lie on his side on the bottom for a few minutes
fertilizer treatment, but it
was never fatal. That’s it. Weather loaches often show problems with
so I was pleased it was not
actually harming the fish (though I asked him to experiemnt with lower
If anyone experiences a
reaction that I should know about, I want to hear it- please email me at
.General Fish Care
Q- What are you feeding to your fish?
A- I am always
looking for better foods, best frequency of feeding and ease to produce
a variety of dry and live foods
toward maximum health of my fish. What I am feeding now will
change over time, but currently: Early morning (about 8am) all
fish receive a mix of two basic flake foods – a vegetable
flake and a meat flake (HBH green and brown staple flakes from
Around noon they receive a 52% protein food that I am now
selling from teh home page. Around 4-5pm they will then
receive either frozen beefheart
or a live food (The
swords and goodeids
primarily), while the rest of the room receives one of the
other dry foods. When possible, I will feed a dry food again
at about 8 pm. Throughout the day some fish that require smaller
frequent feedings (The
Jenynsia lineata) are fed resulting in their receiving food 4-6x per
day. I have learned that 1x per day
feeding is basic maintenance (when out of town and having
someone else feed, for example), 2x per day is minimal for routine
breeding and growth such
that problems are then rarely food-related. The difference between 1 and
2x per days feeding is
substantial. 3x per day is my minimum goal to keep the room
going as I feel it should. The difference between 2 and 3x per day
is also substantial. I have found that dry food feedings of
more than 3x per day often leads to water
quality and mulm issues.
Baby brine shrimp is
routinely provided to new fry,
generally once a day with 1-2x per day crushed dry food feedings.
I have begun
breeding blackworms in larger quantities here, in an effort to
provide a consistent supply of quality live food that
the fish will eat readily.
temperatures do you keep your tanks at?
are on about a third of the tanks, and temperatures vary seasonally.
Generally tanks are kept between 70
and 76 degrees.
Q- How long do they live?
swords will live and
breed well into their 3rd year, rarely
living longer than 4 years. The goodeids seem
a similar lifespan, but though healthy, large and robust,
some species may stop breeding when only about a year to 18 months
old (Z. tequila). The furcidens,
Ameca splendens seem to breed
throughout their lives. Many have found that buying
large adult pairs of the tequilas may not result in their
dropping fry- leading to a reputation for being difficult for some to
but that is not the case at all. I once watched a 30 gallon tank of large,
healthy Z. tequilas for over 2 years
without a single
batch of fry. Eventually they all eventually passed of old
age into their 3rd year. When bred when young they are actually
quite prolific. The
odessas, however, may live much longer- possibly to 7-10 years.
Q- Which is a good first
goodeid? Is there one that is easier than others?
A- All of the
goodeids are fairly easy to keep, but a few
stand out because they breed more readily, are generally more
hardy and will not bother their fry.
Ameca splendens and the Ilyodon furcidens
fit that bill. Two goodeids that breed
and are also very hardy are the Xenotoca eiseni and
the Zoogoneticus tequila- but with those,
gravid females do need
to be moved to a container to have their fry,
and then removed, as they will eat their fry. And of those two, the
will tend to be the shy and peaceful tankmates. The eiseni will be out in front and are a far more confident
Q- Of those sold here, which species will
eat their young, and which will
not? How do you limit the amount of predation?
A- All livebearers
will eat their young if they are hungry enough, but many species do
manage to ignore new
young in the aquarium. If you wish to keep all ages of
the population together, you will lose a few young, even of
those expected to leave their fry alone. Keeping your
fish that live with young as well fed as possible is the
biggest step you can take to control fry predation
during their first week, when new fry are most vulnerable.
Moving the gravid female to a small bare bottom tank
filled with Java moss and an airstone is probably the best
way to ensure survival of fry. Spawns are generally
born between sunup and noon, then remove the female when
you see fry. Then raise the fry separately.
Ameca splendens and usually the
Ilyodon furcidens are good about not
eating fry. The
Characodon lateralis will
eat few enough that a population will develop if left to colony breed,
but all fry are generally saved and raised. Raising the
fry away from the adults always provides a better
situation for the fry than having to compete for food.
Zoogoneticus tequila and
Xenotoca eiseni will
their fry given the opportunity.
Q- Exactly how sensitive are
Goodeids to warmer
A- When kept at
temperatures they tolerate
well, they will do fine and most are especially hardy (X.
eiseni, Z. tequila).
Generally, temperatures should be kept below 76-77 degrees, and the
Goodeids do best at 70-74 degrees. Creep
77-78 degrees and they will begin to die off. I have found here that those most
sensitive to higher temperatures are the
Characodon lateralis and
Skiffia multipunctata. It is also believed that though many species may
survive a short period
at 80-82 degrees temperatures, they can become sterilized and will no longer
breed. Whenever possible,
are kept on lower shelves in the coolest tanks.
Q- Will Goodeids
cross with one another if kept in the same tank?
A- Because of
their rarity, keeping Goodeids together is
discouraged, and those within the same genus will certainly
cross. Some believe the result of goodeid crosses usually
results in sterile fry. Generally they should not be kept
together. See the first question at top of page for more information.
Q- Excuse me, but what are you doing over there?
Are you breeding these fish at all? I’ve been on the wait list for a
yeah… I know. The fish I have the most trouble with that get me into the
most trouble are the C. lats and
I started off Select
Aquatics with about 150 C.
lateralis, thinking I was all set, and promptly sold just about all
of them the first year.
Then I had to put in thermal twin-wall polycarbonate tops on
all of the tanks to correct an understandable humidity issue, and found
that the temperatures
were raised just enough to wipe out all but a couple pair of the
S. multipunctata and the
lateralis. They have
been breeding out since,
while preparing to maintain enough breeding pairs to produce large
numbers of them for future sales,
while still culling and maintaining the line for top quality.
Today there are about 50
C. lateralis going, and
occasional pairs are being released to wait list recipients as they
become available. With the S. multipunctata, a different
population- but very similar in appearance – line was obtained,
and about 40 fry are growing out to become the next breeders.
The original line is still here, but limping along
currently with just a few but some gravid females. The
problem is that they breed here seasonally- from late April to
mid September, with a 60 day gestation period (as opposed to
the 30 days of the swords and other poeciliids), to produce
just 5-10 fry with each drop. Of a group of about 12 pairs of
breeders, only about 2-3 females a month become gravid.
We hope to have them in larger numbers as soon as possible.
Q.- What kind of lights do you use?
A- CFL 60s,
Daylight. Nothing else, each mounted against the rack above the tanks,
generally two tanks per light.
Q- Do you use CO2?
A- No. In fact the
lighting I use could be better
in that it could be much stronger than it is. But the
plants still grow like crazy.
The secret is to choose
plants that do well in your water,
10-14 hrs. of light a day, water
changes (Plants don’t appreciate dirty
water any more than the fish do, which is well mis-understood),
and a good fertilizer. We use the
Rapid Grow Aquarium Plant
fertilizer here. (See
above). CO2 can produce remarkable results with some planted tanks.
Here, plants are used functionally,
and only fast growing, hardy, generally floating plants are
used. Keeping organic material to a minimum restricts pots full of soil,
so rooted plants are the exception.
Q- I think what you are doing is great, and I am
all for conservation of species about to go
extinct. But I would never buy any
because I’d just kill them off, and I’d feel twice as bad because
they are so rare.
A- Surprisingly, many
hobbyists, who are the perfect fishkeepers needed to keep these fish, feel this way. Please
me here- you must look at this a different way. “Rarity”
is a relative term. With Z. tequila, it has
been considered extinct in
the wild for over 30 years (and we’ve been saying that for
at least 10 years), though recently discovered in two small, remote
bodies of water in very low numbers. Essentially, it is
extremely rare in the wild. In the hobby, it is also not often kept,
it is a pretty, peaceful and prolific little fish. !0 years ago it was rarely
seen in the hobby, and is still very highly desired.
But I have bred many hundreds
of them here, and currently have 250-300 on hand here of all ages. They
do very well,
and reproduce easily. When I first obtained this fish I lost
them routinely. They did not do well for me. The lines
I received did not adapt to my water, their care may have
been inappropriate, and they came to me in bad shape, or
the individuals I obtained simply did not survive. killed off
trios of them- at $45 a trio- at least 4 times before
I came across the current line that has proven to be hardy,
prolific and very attractive. Even today I could not tell
you what had been done wrong to lose those earlier fish, but
I had to keep trying. Most that obtain these fish today
have much better success with them. But you have to try, and
they will be kept going in large numbers so that as many
people as possible can keep and breed them, and obtain them
as often as they may need to.
Q- Has anyone tried
reintroducing these into the wild?
A- With many
species it has been tried. To my understanding the introduction of any
rare fish to the wild has
been unsuccessful. I am aware of at least 5 formal attempts
to reintroduce the Z. tequila back into the wild,
for example. All have failed for a variety of reasons.
Generally, the bodies of water they were once indigenous
to have changed- introduced species that may not have existed
when the tequilas were last thriving now populate
the streams. As a result, some attempts involved poisoning
the existing fauna- not the easiest or most effective
means at re-introduction, as it turned out. Many of these
species are still very new to science and have much
that we can learn regarding their reproduction- particularly
the Goodeids. Keeping them going within the aquarist
hobby, while supplying institutions and future research may
be the best we can hope for at this time.
How long can fish survive in a sealed box?
A- Generally, provided
the temperatures are not a problem, most fish will survive up to a week
in a box. They are
not fed for at least 24 hrs.
prior to shipping, and are usually shipped in breather bags, which have
survivability for the fish than
standard plastic bags. However, we always try to get the fish to you in
a time as possible, often
within 48- 96 hours (Priority), and within 24 hrs (Express).
Q- What really is your loss rate?
A- Anyone who says they
never lose fish when shipping
is not being honest. I try to ship smaller fish whenever possible,
and have over 600 boxes that
have contributed to procedures toward what has worked best. Always
toward especially careful
packaging, the shipping process continues to improve. Last fall we had
arrive to their destination in
a row without a single dead fish. However, occasional small losses have
do happen, leading to further
improvements, and extras sent with every order guarantee you will
least what had been paid for.
This is small condolence for those who have received fish with a bag
leaked or broken, but extras
have so far always covered any losses. Overnight rarely has losses, when
are deaths they generally occur
with Priority shipments that have taken longer than 3 days, or boxes
are held for extra days.
Q- Should I go Overnight Express or Priority Mail?
Here for more information on
Q- Which species will cross if kept in the same
A- As a rule,
pretty much all of the swordtails will
cross if the conditions are right. Generally, the male or female of any
species prefers a mate of their own species, so two species
kept together in mixed sex ratios will result in crosses only
rarely, but it does happen. Also, once a male develops a
gonopodium, fertilization can take place, even if other secondary
sexual characteristics are not present (such as a sword), so
the swordtails should never be kept
together at any age
(Unless the fish kept are all males or all females). The
goodeids will cross rarely, and I have been
told that fry are
often sterile from these crosses (but not always- the
Skiffia Black Beauty is an example).
They too should not be kept
together. Generally, any fish from the same genus (Xiphophorus,
skiffia, characodon, etc.) should not be kept together.
The plecos will also
cross with other bristlenose plecos of any lineage (chocolate, calico,
dragon etc.) as they are
all the same species.
Q- Which species do you recommend for someone
new to swordtails?
A- It is not true
that all swordtails are easy to keep- some are easier than others in
that they are more prolific, handle swings
in water quality, etc. The
swords with the greatest ease in that they can be put into a community
tank and do well are the
X. mayae and
X. alvarezi (wild and gold forms).
X. montezumae also does well in
larger tanks, or in smaller tanks- such as a
10 gallon when no more than a male and 2 or 3 females are
kept. The montezumae and
X. mayae also do not prey on their
fry as many other swords do, such as the
alvarezi. But when well fed, predation on
fry of the swords is minimal.
The helleri swords also
are easy to keep, but unlike the hybrids available at most pet shops,
the larger wild swords require
a tank of at least 29 gallons if possible. X. clemenciae, X.
multilineatus, X. nigrensis, etc. are swords that can be considered
after success with other species has occurred, as they can be
more challenging to maintain and breed.
Q- When a swordtail,
or any fish available here is said to be hard to keep, what is it that
gives it that reputation?
A- A fish said to
be “hard to keep” picks up that
reputation for any number of reasons, some that are listed here. All are
pleasure to keep, and those said to be more difficult are
always worth the effort, but a number of factors can play into a fish
thought to be “hard to keep”. One thing to keep in mind is
that the water quality from your tap
could cause some fish that are
hard to keep for others, to do well for you, and vice versa,
so what I write below may or may not apply to you. All of the swords
will do well in conditions required by the more challenging
to keep fish. None are truly difficult, but some simply require a
higher level of attention.
Generally, those considered harder to maintain require that:
1- Water conditions may need to be fairly consistent
for the fish to do well. Wide swings in
water quality as a filter gets
changed only when it absolutely needs it,
water changes done at too little at
a time, or too infrequently could cause certain
species not to breed, or may
be lost. Books may refer to
a species being “nitrate-intolerant”- which refers to this.
Consistent routines for
feeding and tank maintenance need to be well established before
these fish will do well.
(X. clemenciae). Some water movement and moderate aeration
may also be required by some species. (X.
helleri, X. alvarezi)
2- Their behavior and personality may require that
they be provided with shelter and places to hide as they are naturally
shy and skittish. Spending their lives out in the open under
bright light is fine for some
species, whereas with others it may
cause them to live shorter lives where they do not
breed, etc. X.
mayae, for example, prefers places to hide, though they will
adapt to a more open tank when forced to.
X. montezumae may not breed if
forced to stay out in the open.
3- They do not breed
frequently, or their young are especially small (X. clemenciae), their
sex ratio is highly skewed to
one sex or the other, or they can be big
fry eaters adds to their difficulty
(X. alvarezi and X. nezahualcoyotl can
fit into this group).
4- They require consistent
feeding, with a variety of high
quality foods, and do not generally do well on a single daily feeding of
commercial dry food. Even when they eat well at that single
feeding, they grow out undersized and breed infrequently with smaller
batches of less healthy fry. None of the
swords here require
live food, but adding live or frozen
food to their diet (at least 2x per
week) greatly improves their overall health and chances that
they will do well for you, as well as feeding 2-3xs per day.
5- Some may only do best when kept in species only
tanks, as they are not aggressive and will tend to be picked on by other
and eventually die away. None of the swords here fit into that category, but it can be an issue with the
smaller swords- X. nigrensis,
X. pygmaeus, X. multilineatus, etc. Some types of aggressive
fish prone to fin nipping should not be kept with swords as the
extended finnage may prove too enticing a target.
6- They are intolerant of cooler or warmer
temperatures that community
tanks are generally kept at. Pet shop swords are routinely
kept at 78-80 degrees, which is much too warm for the wild
swords, evolved to do best at temps of 70-74 degrees.
7- The males can be territorial or aggressive, usually
to other smaller or younger males of their species.
Swords have been known
to chase other tankmates, but it is rare and never of much
consequence. Real damage is rarely done, but over time any other male
swords being picked don’t eat well and eventually may perish.
8- In a smaller tank, the presence of larger males
influences the outcomes of other maturing males. The result is that
need to be grown out in more than one tank to provide the
opportunity for maximum growth of the younger fish. It was thought
that larger males released a growth inhibiting chemical that
suppressed growth in other males. Never proven, or the chemical
identified, younger males do grow out more successfully when
provided with consistent water changes.
To Keep "Harder to Keep"
- Provide a tank with few variables
that can get "out of control" - a very thin layer of gravel and a filter
that can be
easily maintained and kept so that any changes in
filter quality can be quickly spotted and remedied.
- This sounds silly, but provide a top to prevent this rare
hard to keep fish from jumping out! the worst way to lose a
fish as it can be so easily prevented.
- Keep this hard to keep fish in a species only tank.
Carefully considered tankmates such as a catfish may be provided,
but interactions with other species- until this
new fish has adapted well and numbers are up, should stay by itself.
- Keep in mind that fragile and hard to keep fish better
adapt to your water conditions over many generations. It may
be to the third generation before you have truly
healthy, vigorous fish of some more sensitive species. and until then,
you may have what appear to be less than ideal
specimens that do not live full lives. But the goal is to get them to
produce fry born in your water. Once that happens
the fish will do better with each generation.
- Make sure your pH and hardness are within the range of that
species. Crushed coral or calcium carbonate can be used to
raise pH and hardness if necessary. Carefully
consider using buffers to raise or lower pH- it can get expensive, it
restricts the ease of doing water changes, and
they add an inconsistency to water quality that may be more than
challenging species can handle. There are some
species you simply may not be able to keep given the water coming from
your tap, without tremendous expense and effort.
Using an RO system can circumvent this, but now you must create all
the water the fish require, and the fish may not
survive away from your RO system.
- Appropriate amount of aeration and water movement are
provided based on the species kept.
- Temperature is kept within the parameters best for the
- Appropriate light is provided - 10-14 hrs per day to
support plants and maintain necessary levels of biological activity.
- Water changes are done consistently of generally at least
50% per week for more sensitive species, best done in 2
installments, rather than done all at once. Up to
20% per day can be done without harm, but sharing fish with friends may
not go well, unless they are doing a similar
- A variety of good quality foods are provided, with
occasional live or frozen food, appropriate for the species. Some fish
require a strong vegetable component, and may
even bloat if given too much protein. Some eat only live food (Belonosox
- Keep stocking levels low, and such that you can always see
each fish easily to keep an eye on them. An unwatched fish,
particularly a challenging one to keep, will not
last long if you don't keep a close eye on it to address issues
if they arise. More can be found on this topic at
Fishkeeping Tips 1.
Q- I remember you were against using
gravel at all in your tanks. Do you
still avoid using gravel?
A- No. As stocking
levels began to rise I began to encounter problems that were the result
of the mechanical filtration,
water changes and live
plants not being enough to maintain healthy
bare bottom tanks. I began to
encounter cloudy water
and a decline in health and breeding
with the more sensitive fish. This was not a problem likely to occur in
a lightly stocked
community aquarium- the previous means of maintaining an
aquarium had worked for many years very successfully. But as
the bio load on some of the tanks increased, combined with
multiple feedings of high protein foods, issues began to
develop, particularly with the Limias. Ultimately I lost all of the nigrofasciata and some of the
Limia Tigers about
18 months ago. I was able to re-obtain the
nigrofasciata from a former customer, and
made a number of changes.
Today all of the fish are doing very well, and numbers are improving on all of the Limias.
What I did was borrow a practice from the Xiphophorus stock
center and placed a 1 pebble thick layer of gravel over
1/3rd – ½ the bottom of the tanks to increase surface area
for nitrifying bacteria. On tanks felt to require an even greater
filtration I made gravel filters- a round container filled
with gravel with an uplift tube-
which are cleaned
every 2 months. The 4” box filters
are still used in all the tanks, and the floss is changed monthly. I do
charcoal or other mediums other than floss and marbles in each filter, the
marbles simply to weigh the box filters down.
Q- What is a good size tank for
Swords can certainly be kept comfortably in
a 10 gallon aquarium, though I would not push much beyond 2 pair.
Keep an eye on behavior of the two males, as the larger may
pick on the smaller in such a confined space.
To community breed out swords I would use at least a 29
gallon aquarium, and a 50 gallon aquarium with a
strong colony of montezumae swords is breathtaking!
Q- What is a good sized tank for
Goodeids will do well in a 10 gallon tank,
and are fully comfortable in a 29 gallon. Because of their nature, and
needing to monitor how they are doing on a regular basis, I
have never kept them in a tank larger than 29 gallons,
except for the Ilyodon
furcidens. Because of their larger size, greater numbers of them do best
in a 55.
Q- Do you use heaters?
A- As mentioned
earlier, I use heaters in about a third of my tanks. Of all hardware
used in this fishroom, I have been
disappointed that technology hasn’t seemed to keep up
with aquarium heaters as with many other aspects of our lives.
At $35 minimum for a fair quality heater, with the risk
that heaters introduce to a tank of fish, heaters are used
sparingly. Fish friends are currently studying this
extensively, comparing accuracy, dependability and price of the
heaters available today, and the results are not
Personally, I would like to create a system seen at a
friend’s fishroom. Probes in each tank feed temperature readings to a
computer program every 5 minutes, and if a tank’s temperature
exceeds the parameters he sets for each tank, he receives a
notification on his cell phone- “Tank #26 is 2 degrees high,
79 degrees.” He can then go fix it, or call home and have someone
unplug it till he gets home. At the end of the day, he brings
up the program on his big screen TV and a graph for each tank
appears in rows on the screen, showing exactly what the
readings were for every tank every 5 minutes, for the previous 24 hours.
He discovered, for example, that placement of his 4’ shop
light ballasts affected the
temperatures of the tanks they were
nearest to. At this point cost is a factor, but it can be
done relatively cheaply. The software, however, was written by this
aquarist, but some home security programs can be manipulated
to serve this purpose. If anyone is able to create something
like this, let me know!
Update- I have a friend writing
the software to create such a system using multiple arduinos and
temperature probes. Hopefully
this will be operating by this coming summer. After any bugs
are worked out, it will be carefully described at this site, and the
software will be made available for sale.
Q- Do you have disasters? How can you keep negative
things from happening?
A- Disasters come
with the territory, though there are ways to minimize the effect of any
single incident. Keep valued fish
in more than one tank. Avoid central systems (Filtration) if possible,
that can have a broad negative effect when there is a problem.
I keep all my tanks as simple as possible with respect to
organic material that may produce ammonia- No thick layer of
on the bottom, live plants, moderate to heavy aeration,
10-14 hrs per day and regular water changes. With a large
tanks will often develop leaks, and you may put water on the
floor and lose fish. Generally most tanks will operate fine for 20-30
years before their silicone begins to fail. However, of
probably 20 tank leaks I have had over the last 15 years, none lost any
and the two worst incidences were bottoms cracking where
water drained- in both cases slow enough that it was discovered
before totally draining and losing any fish. Most tank leaks
are slow dripping from a seam that does not generate much havoc.
An impeller that gradually ate through the plastic canister
box of a well-known canister filter, mounted below the tank, caused
over 50 gallons to drain from a 100 gallon tank- So I no
longer use sump/canister type filters if possible. However, most
occur through human error, and the goal is to keep the effect
of any single disaster to a minimum. Anyone using carpeted floors
is living dangerously! 90% of all "Disasters" are
inconsequential when dealt with promptly.
Q- Do you ever get cloudy water, and if so, with
all the water changes you do, how do you fix it?
A- Cloudy water is
a first sign to me that I need to increase the level of
filtration in a tank. It can also mean
there are too many fish in the tank for the amount of
established nitrifying bacteria, or that the organic load going into the
how much is fed, what is
fed, the size and number of fish, may be more than the bacteria in the
tank can process. If the cloudy
water is unexpected, or the direct cause of something (a
recent overfeeding, for example, or a fish discovered that had died),
immediately do a 50% water change,
then think about what caused it and address it from then on out. For
longer term cloudy
water issues - as can be caused by feeding zucchini to
plecos in a 10 gallon tank- a
decision is made toward a permanent
change that will not contribute to future cloudy water issues (The
plecos get moved to larger tanks,
start feeding green beans
zucchini, etc.) We also use hang on the side canister filters,
and will run a micron filter in it to clear the water up- then
come to a change that will solve the problem. Beans are
better than zucchini, but both will still cloud the water if overfed.
Q- Do you add a
dechlorinator or any other additives to your tap water when the
automatic water change system comes on?
A- No. When adding less than 30% or so to a tank a
dechlorinator isn't necessary for most fish, at least with the tap water
quality here. When doing only a 15% water change daily adding
any other substances hasn't been necessary.
The Website and Select Aquatics
Q- Who helps with your website? How many people
actually work there?
A- At this time there are two people that come
in, besides myself, and help with filter changing (There are over
200 box filters that need to be changed monthly), and
that come in and feed and take care of things when I am out
As far as the website goes, I had done a lot of sound
post production (My first video linked from the homepage
notwithstanding- there are three more in process that
be much improved), but knew nothing about website design,
etc. I spent the first 3 months of Select Aquatics'
existence sitting at the computer, sketching out the website
and learning to use the software. What I use is an
older program (Front Page) that will eventually need to be
upgraded, but it has exactly the retro look and ease of
use that you expect from the comfortable corner fish store.
Q- Do you have an Import license?
A- No, I do not. Bringing in fish has not been
something that I have needed to do.
Q- Do you ship outside of the US?
A- I used to, and shipped routinely throughout
the world for the first three years that Select Aquatics had been
in business. I had spoken at length with my local post
office, and spent weeks phonecalling with officials in
Canada to ensure that I was doing everything legally.
Then. with a box of C. lateralis going to Singapore, I was
told to contact US Customs. Essentially a collection of
fees must be paid - nearly $200 plus the cost of the fish
and the postage, to ship legally, per box. As a business
I am now flagged and can no longer ship outside of the
US or risk legal issues unless I obtain a license and
charge customers the extra fees, which isn't going to happen
any time soon.
Species for Sale Receiving Shipped Fish
The Swordtails Breeding
Keeping Select Aquatics Fish
How Hard Are They?
Keeping Plants Plant
Why Should I Keep Rare Fish?