Select Aquatics of Erie, CO.
                 Frequently Asked Questions

                          Rapid Grow Fertilizer- General Care- Goodeids- Lighting- Plants
             Rare 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
             recent or past purchases, solving a problem, or letting me know how their fish are doing. I very much appreciate hearing
             from 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
             fish have done for them.

             But some questions come up occasionally, and when I was asked the first question below by two different people,
             at 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.

             Hope 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 fish!
             See first question-)

            Greg Sage


   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?

    A-  Definitely 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 schedule and
         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 recommended monthly
         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 a dosage
         determined. If anyone does have any information regarding the use of this fertilizer with any other products,
         please drop me an email, and I would like to know more about it. Also it is not necessary to use CO2 with this
         fertilizer, and those who have used CO2 with this fertilizer have not contacted me with any issues.

      Q-  What is in your fertilizer?

    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 people have
         contacted them asking what my basic foundation products are, and they will not release that information. I’m
         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 ago there
         has only been one complaint. A friend in Colorado claimed his weather loach would swim around irritated after
         treatment with the fertilizer, sometimes would even lie on his side on the bottom for a few minutes after a
         fertilizer treatment, but it was never fatal. That’s it. Weather loaches often show problems with plant fertilizers,
         so I was pleased it was not actually harming the fish (though I asked him to experiemnt with lower dosages).
         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 
    JEHMCO). 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. Recently
    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.

    Q-  What temperatures do you keep your tanks at?

    A-  Heaters 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?

    A-  Most swords will live and breed well into their 3rd year, rarely living longer than 4 years. The goodeids seem to live 
    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, Skiffia and 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 breed
    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 readily  
    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 tequilas 
    will tend to be the shy and peaceful tankmates. The eiseni will be out in front and are a far more confident fish.

    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 both eat
     their fry given the opportunity.

    Q-  Exactly how sensitive are Goodeids to warmer temperatures?

    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 above
    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, Goodeids
    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 year!

     A-  Yeah, yeah… I know. The fish I have the most trouble with that get me into the most trouble are the C. lats and C. audax.
    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.

    Rare Fish

    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 stick with
    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, though 
    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 a longer
         survivability for the fish than standard plastic bags. However, we always try to get the fish to you in as short
         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 aiming
         toward especially careful packaging, the shipping process continues to improve. Last fall we had 23 boxes
         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 receive at
         least what had been paid for. This is small condolence for those who have received fish with a bag that had
         leaked or broken, but extras have so far always covered any losses. Overnight rarely has losses, when there
         are deaths they generally occur with Priority shipments that have taken longer than 3 days, or boxes that
         are held for extra days.
    Q- Should I go Overnight Express or Priority Mail?

    A- Click Here for more information on that topic.


    Q-  Which species will cross if kept in the same tank together?

    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, albino, Green
    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 helleri and 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 a
    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
    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 a
    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 fish
    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 males may
    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" Fish:

    - 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 species.

    - 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 schedule.

    - 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.


    Tank maintenance

    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
    level of biological 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 not use
    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 swordtails?

    A-  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?

    A-  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 encouraging.

    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 gravel
    on the bottom, live plants, moderate to heavy aeration, light 10-14 hrs per day and regular water changes. With a large fishroom,
    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 fish,
    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 disasters
    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.

    Water Quality

    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 biological 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 tank-
    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
    instead of 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
     of town.

     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 will 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.


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