Select Aquatics Of Erie, CO.
                                Basic Troubleshooting With Select Aquatics Fish

                                              Fixit: The Fish
                             General Questions, Behavior, Foods, Overall Health 

 

         Introduction

         Page 1 - The Tank

        *Page 2 - The Fish

         Page 3 - Diseases 

   
 

     By watching our fish we can tell if a
     problem may be brewing. Fish that are
     hiding when normally out in the open,
     or are hovering near a heater or filter
     outlet could be an indication that there
     is a problem starting, such as with
     this male X. alvarezi or this group of
     I. furcidens.    

 

         The fish are hiding in the plants when they normally do not - This generally reflects a recent change in the conditions in the tank
         that you will need to address. This may mean that a water change is due, and a 20-50% water change may solve the problem. You may 
         see some clamped fins as well at this time, if not, and you do nothing, clamped fins and a disease outbreak may be in the works. I 
         would not add salt at this point, but if a water change, followed by a good feeding does not solve the problem over 24 hours, I would then
         siphon clean any substrate and generally clean any areas that may conceal mulm or decaying organic material in the tank.  I would then
         add from ˝ to a full medicinal dose of salt if conditions do not improve.  (1 tablespoon per each 5 gallons of water). Some who keep
         non salt tolerant plants may decide to use other remedies, or removing the plants before treatment, as salt will negatively affect many
         plants. Keep an eye out for any developing spots, changes in skin texture, fin cloudiness or tufts of fungus anywhere on the fish.

         The fish are breathing at the surface of the water - This usually indicates a reduction of oxygen available to the fish for some 
         reason. With a reduction of aeration, or an increase in temperature, oxygen levels decrease. Oxygen availability increases as
         the water temperatures goes down.  Immediate addition of an airstone should be done until you come to a more permanent solution,
         and the addition of the airstone may be necessary for the long term.

         The most common other causes of a reduction in oxygen are overcrowding, or a bacterial bloom from accumulation of excess
         organic waste within a tank. Keep in mind that plants use oxygen when they are not processing light, so a tank containing plants,
         but whose light is not working, can also experience reduced available oxygen. The amount of aeration and water movement in a
         tank that was fine for say, 5 fish that were 1 inch long may not be suitable for the same fish grown to 1.5- 2 inches, as larger fish
         require more oxygen while excreting more waste. And the waste produced is primarily through respiration, not the release of
         feces and urine.

         The fish are all together up in the corner- This is more than simple lack of oxygen available to the fish, and requires closer
         observation to determine the cause. Are the fish clustered near the filter outlet? Or near the heater? Or across the tank from the
         heater? Or near an airstone or source of air? Are they in a group away from a certain portion of the tank that may be dirty or in need
         of cleaning? Could the fish simply be avoiding the aggressive behavior of another fish? A 20- 50% water change may solve the problem.
         Check for appropriate temperature, insure that aeration is sufficient, and clean any dirty areas of the tank, particularly under rockwork,
         areas not easily seen and the filter medium. Collection of waste could lead to an anaerobic area in the substrate, causing the release of
         toxic substances into the water. Lastly, if necessary, look for any aggressive fish that may be harassing other fish in the tank. See
         "One fish is picking on another fish" below-

         The fish are jumping out of the tank- Some fish, such as most killiefish, will routinely jump out of a tank, and the tanks they are
         kept in should always be covered. Some fish will jump out of a tank occasionally when the tank is overcrowded or the conditions are not
         to their liking (Swordtails). Most fish will not jump out of a tank, but all fish may jump out of a tank when first introduced, or when conditions
         are new or unfamiliar. For this reason all tanks should be covered when fish are first introduced. For fish not usually known for jumping,
         a surface covering of riccia or other surface plants may be enough to discourage jumping. However, fish can be prompted  to jump with
         deteriorating water conditions, temperature that is too warm or predators /bullies in a tank that will chase or harass other fish. Keep
         in mind that if a fish is determined to jump, they will find any spaces or holes available to them.  (They have nothing else to do), so a
         covering to prevent jumping must be complete and secure.

         One fish is picking on another fish – When this is occurring. I pull the victim, if they are injured or weakened, and move them to 
         a tank of their own to recover. I will often add a medicinal dose of salt (1 tblsn per 5 gallons) if I see any wounds. Then I try to figure 
         out what is going on – Is there a pair chasing others away from a spawn? Or is this bully a fish that needs to be moved? I will then pull the 
         fish doing the chasing, and put him into a large net or a breeder to break his spirit and calm him down, explained in next paragraph. The
         focus is on the injured fish so they recover, and when feeling good enough, I will often return the victim fish to the tank when healed, with
         the bully isolated, and give that fish a chance to reestablish itself in the community.

         This experience is with livebearers- the next solution may not work for larger fish that may be more aggressive by nature. Put the bully
         into a large net, which is then hung in the same tank. He is still in the tank and water that is most familiar, but he can’t chase or bite
         anyone. Depending on how determined to be nasty the fish is, I will keep the bully in the net for 3 days to two weeks, and this will often
         stop the dominant behavior. After being in a submissive position for a period of time, in full view of the other fish in the tank, this changes
         the dynamic of the tank enough (depending on the species of fish we are dealing with)  to start a new forging of heirarchy in the tank.
         If the aggressive fish does not respond to those efforts, I will then move the aggressive  fish to a different tank with a new set of tankmates,
         that may be larger or not prone to being bullied.

         The fish are all on the bottom – When you see this, it is often over an issue with temperature or water quality. You will need to 
         figure out why this has occurred once the fish are comfortable, but a quick 25% water change, correcting the temperature gradually if
         necessary, should perk them up. Then look into any possible temperature, filtration or aeration problems. You may decide to add a half 
         or full medicinal dose of salt to help guide them back to normal, comfortable conditions if they do not show quick improvement.  With air 
         problems, fish generally collect at the top, and when fish are on the bottom it is generally due to water quality, that can also be a foreign 
         substance having been introduced into the tank.

       The fish are more active than they should be – Most of the time this is because the temperature has risen past where it should 
         be. Immediately check the temperature, and if too high, turn off the heater and light, and gradually add a 5-10% water change of colder water
         to bring the temperature down. Do not bring the temperature down more than 2-3 degrees. Some fish often do not survive a temperature  
         drop greater than that in a short period of time. Then increase the aeration which both brings up the oxygen level in the warmer water, and
         puts room temperature air into the tank to also help bring the temperature down.

         I have heard some say that these riverine livebearers in particular can handle wide temperature swings in the wild, and that may be true.
         However, I have transported fish to functions to find that temperature swings of greater than 2-3 degrees in a short period will stun some
         of these species. The Alfaro cultratus, for example, is prone to this. Consistency works best with most of these species.

         Other causes for hyperactivity could be a pair guarding eggs that are chasing tankmates away from their spawning site, or a fish that has
         become aggressive, who may need to be removed or isolated.

         The fish’s color is all washed out- Not all fish will hold on to their color when stressed, and all fish will show some deterioration
         of color and markings when in less than optimal conditions. It has been said that  "Every fish looks beautiful when well cared for".
         The Odessa barbs here will totally wash out, and can take up to 12 hours or so to get their color back after being stressed.
         The goodeids generally hold on to their color, but most fish will show some loss of color and markings when threatened or disrupted.

         If  the fish appear suddenly to have lost their color, check the temperature first to make sure it is what it should be. If that is OK,
         consider any recent changes to the tank (A decoration? Something put into the tank?), then do a 50% water change, and lower the
         amount of light - lower light is always calming for fish. If that does not apply, then I would clean the filter and siphon clean any gravel in the
         tank, then do a 30% water change. I would not do more as the fish are weakened, and you want the change to do the job without being a
         stressor by itself. Many fish will also wash out when kept in a tank with light colored or bright gravel. The Odessas, for example, when kept
         in a tank of light gravel with with moderate to high illumination will totally wash out and not regain their color until conditions are improved.
         This leads to short, stressful lives for the fish, even though all other conditions may be perfect for them.

         Fish do well, but only live a short time- A few issues can be in play here. Fish do best in water they are fully acclimated to, which
         for many of the livebearers here can take more than one generation. Fish received as adults that were raised in water qualities different 
         from yours will often experience a shortened lifespan. This is why when you do receive fish from someone, your first efforts must be to 
         obtain fry that were born in your water - those fish will live closer to a full lifespan, often with better overall color and health, and are the first
         step toward a colony that will do well for you. See the article  "Fish Adjustment".

         Another issue is that many fish that can be maintained over a wide range of temperatures will live longer or shorter lives, depending on
         your aquarium temperature. Warmer temperatures maintain fish with higher metabolism, and they will not live as long as fish kept in cooler
         temperatures. Those kept cooler will also grow more slowly, live longer, and often achieve greater overall size than those raised at warmer
         temperatures. The swordtails here can be kept this way. Natural temperatures for most swordtails is closer to 72 degrees, yet the
         fishkeeping hobby has routinely kept them much warmer, at 78-80 degrees. they will grow faster, but not live as long, or get as large.

         Fish are also greatly affected by conditions that introduce stress, and a fish living a healthy life may pass prematurely due to stresses
         that were part of their lives, but that you did not recognize or address. The Odessas kept in a bright tank is one example. Fish
         routinely dealing with tankmate problems or water quality that is inconsistent or often near the unhealthy end of the spectrum
         may experience shortened lifespans. Keeping social or schooling fish by themselves can also be stressful, leading to a shorter life.
         
         There is much we do not understand about what goes on in their tiny but complex minds, and assuming "they will be OK" when a less
         than ideal situation presents itself may be a big adjustment for them, and can come with consequences.

        

   
 

     I enjoy the challenge of breeding the fish
     and raising their fry, and no longer keep
     anything I am not actively breeding. When fish
     breed for you, you know that they are in their
     best health. On the far left are 9 day old
     Odessa barbs, and young Alfaro cultratus are
     near left.
 

    

    

 

         There are new fry in the tank - Besides being eaten by tankmates, new fry also cannot compete with the adults in the tank for food.
         As well, fry food needs to be specific in size with a higher protein content, so new fry can put on growth when they most need to do  
         so. New fry should always be caught and put into either a tank of their own, or even better, put them into a large net breeder in the same  
         tank, in the water they were born in. That will ensure your greatest odds of success. Many breeders will also keep lights on 24/7 when
         raising new egg layer fry so they will grow most quickly. This requires a late evening feeding to get them through the night.

   
     The best part of breeding fish is that many will
     breed easily with consistent, appropriate care, and
     without much extra effort. The Swords and Goodeids
     are generally that way. But some species are far more
     challenging, and there is a small or a large puzzle
     waiting for you, depending on the species you choose
     to spawn, your setup, and your own experience, time
     and level of commitment. Both the Green Dragon
     plecos and the Odessa barbs require special setups
     to breed and harvest the young, with some manipulation
     of water quality. More information on breeding these
     species can be found here for the Odessa Barbs,
     and here for the Plecos.
 

                                     Troubleshooting Breeding Problems

         The fish aren't breeding - Many fish, such as some of the livebearers, will breed easily, and their not breeding indicates  
         a fundamental problem with the way the aquarium is operating.  With most Livebearers, if the fish are healthy, they should breed.  
         (The swordtails, guppies, etc.) Many other types of fish available in the hobby can be bred, some more easily than others, when
         attention is paid to 7 factors:

         1. Make sure you have a pair. Sounds obvious, but with some species is an easy mistake to make.
         2. Make sure they are old enough to spawn. Many of us fail trying to breed fish that simply aren't ready.
         3. Put them into a tank large enough so that distractions, aggressive tankmates and space to feel at home are not an issue.
         4. Provide plants, hiding places, rockwork, substrate, caves, light or darkness, aeration, water movement, whatever type of
             environment the species has required to breed by others, from doing research on successful efforts from books and internet.
         5. Ensure that water qualities are appropriate. Some species need to have their pH brought down for them to breed, some
             species require harder water, some softer if they are to breed, though they may survive otherwise in different  qualities.
             Research the species and efforts by others well, since there are many forums and sites available today on the internet.
             Try to learn from other efforts, particularly if they were successful at raising up the fry. Keep in mind you may need to create
             an entirely new way that will work better for you. Most research I have done has been a start, but success came from
             developing a way of doing things that best met my setup and resources.
        6. Increase frequency and quality of feedings for at least 2 weeks previous to spawning, providing live and frozen food if
            possible to the breeder adults.
        7. Provide excellent filtration and water quality. Then be patient. Sometimes weeks or months patient.

         With many species, breeding may happen following heavy water changes, or after the sexes have been separated for a period
         of time, and occasionally switching males will do the trick. Read all you can find, and ask questions! Often, learning how to best
         breed a fish and raise their fry is a repeated process, where small improvements are made with each effort.

         If your tanks are exposed to natural light, those cues may trigger the fish's need to breed seasonally. Over half of the fishroom
         here does this. Goodeids breed from April to October, plecos from October to February, swords from March to October, etc.
         Occasional spawns may occur during the other parts of the year, but it is very infrequent. Trying to spawn some fish off season
         simply will not work, regardless of the conditioning and environment you provide them. With one fish here,  they breed during the
         week previous to the full moon. No amount of putting heavy, egg laden females with males will produce a spawn, unless it is during
         that calendar window. Without knowing this, you would think it is a very difficult fish to breed, but they will spawn readily when the
         conditions are right.

         With a species of Synodontis here, it took over a year to get them breeding at all, then another 18 months to get the effective  
         harvesting of eggs worked out. Then, egg batches were infertile for over a year. At about year 3, successful batches of eggs 
         were hatching, but the microscopic young turned out to be quite fragile, and cannibalistic! Full batches are still not being
         produced, but improvements are being made with each new batch. Each obstacle up to this point has been fixed by changes
         to the water quality, following spawnings on the calendar, making small changes to the setup, etc.,  and each change was
         often discovered by trying other ways that did not work. Not all fish are as difficult, but all species require some patience and
         an opportunity to do some reading and research for the greatest success, and best use of your time. Then write everything
         down! All the breeding notes on the Odessas, the Plecos, the Synodontis and others will all be made available to hobbyists
         in the future. Most of that information is already published at this site, linked from the previous sentence. 

         Often, the problem is not getting the fish to breed, but raising their fry. The biggest obstacles to breeding a species may not be
         the breeding at all, but the experimentation and various approaches it takes to successfully harvest the eggs, hatch them, and
         raise up the fry past sexual maturity. Many fish will lay hundreds or thousands of eggs. But it may take dozens of spawnings
         to refine the harvesting of the eggs or fry, achieving an appropriate hatch rate, and raising up what can sometimes be
         microscopic and fragile fry. The enjoyment of raising up beautiful, exotic fish that were once nearly invisible to the naked
         eye just cannot be explained! For tricks and techniques to raise tiny egg layer fry, see the 5 page section on
         Breeding the Odessa barbs.  The process I use there, for example, can be used to breed many pet store species of barbs,
         rasboras, tetras and danios.

         Please do try to breed the species that interest you, that have been bred in the hobby (Some fish just cannot be bred in the
         home aquarium). Today any hobbyist with a minimal setup can breed and raise up fish that were thought impossible 30-40 years
         ago. Many species found in pet stores can be bred, and most are species I would never have considered breeding as a beginning  
         hobbyist. Choose just  a few species and get to know them well. Build up real numbers and distribute them,  and become known for
         fish that people know you can be counted on to supply when others are looking for them.

         If you obtain something, and are able to breed it easily, hold on to it so that it stays in the hobby. Obtaining a fish that drops a batch,
         then you raise up a few young, is only an introduction to breeding that fish! You were fortunate enough to have a fish breed for you.
         Only after you have bred a fish repeatedly, and raised the majority of the fry or eggs produced on numerous occasions  do you begin 
         to truly learn about a species. It will be at that point that you are in a position to share decent numbers of young, and truly assist
         their continued presence in the hobby. If you do not have a fish a year after breeding it for the first time, you have only been briefly
         introduced!

         Lastly, breeding is a process where simply buying a book on breeding is not going to be all that you need. There were many books
         popular in the 70s and 80s, and some are in multiple book sets. But I have found that many only provide an introduction to the breeding
         of any particular species, and they will routinely leave out critical information. A well known book on breeding I checked recently, for
         example, claimed that with barb fry that "until the young are free swimming, there  is nothing you can do to increase the survival rate."
         As is explained in the section on Breeding Odessas, the water prep work  previous to spawning, so that  there is robust infusoria in
         place when the fry first hatch, is absolutely essential. Trying to  breed them without doing that guarantees failure, or a yield of just a few
         fry.

         When first breeding Odessas in large quantities to sell, I contacted a number of commercial producers to hopefully gain insight
         into how best to structure my setup for the greatest yields. I came to find that when breeding in large numbers, big producers
         do not bother with the finer aspects of water quality and species needs that we do,  keeping the fish in relatively small bodies of
         water in a fishroom, instead, they breed and harvesting the fish in large ponds, as it is cost effective and easier. The
         knowledge we gain as hobbyists is specific to the hobby, and quality, experienced information is not easily available.
         Any effort made to document and preserve your experience could be one of the few sources available to other hobbyists.

         There are not large numbers of people breeding these fish at home, and because someone is a biologist or works at a university 
         does not mean that they have kept or bred the common fish we keep. In fact, I have been contacted on a number of occasions
         by universities looking for guidance with breeding fish they were working with. Figure out  how to breed these fish, write everything
         down, and share the information! 

         Lastly, if you want to breed something, and are stuck on finding information, email me at selectaquatics@gmail.com, and if I
         have ever worked with that fish, or can help, I will share my experience.
 

    

 
 

     With swordtail species, miniature, fast growing males will occasionally
     appear, referred to as "early maturing" males. In a 4-5 inch fish, such
     as the X. alvarezi at left, the early maturing males are only about 2
     inches long, including the sword. These will develop a gonopodium and
     sword before their siblings, and you want to separate them from your 
     population as soon as you see them, or your colony will diminish in size. 
     The best males are those that mature latest and grow largest.

 

        

                                                          More Issues...

         There is a dead fish in the tank- Immediately remove the dead fish so that you do not trigger an ammonia spike in the
         aquarium. Then try to determine the cause of that fish’s demise. Each death is an opportunity to evaluate the tank and solve a 
         problem. Take advantage of the opportunity to prevent further losses and improve the tank conditions, if possible. Any death
         (other than old age) provides you with information to possibly upgrade how you are doing things, and is likely notifying you of a
         problem or situation that may need attention. Not all dead fish have a tale to tell, many do.

         How long can fish go without eating? The books will tell you two things. Either two weeks, or, you can't starve a fish, they will 
         die of an opportunistic infection before starving. We think of the fish as little humans, but not eating is handled differently by our fish.
         We don't eat, we starve, we die. Fish can go for long periods of not eating, and though certainly hungry, they will be active, and for 
         the first week or so they show few ill effects, particularly if they had been well taken care of previously. But compromises are at
         work. Their immune systems are weakening, and they become less able to fight off disease.

         When not fed, Fry will be eaten., and tolerance for disruptions and stress, such as swings in temperature are handled less well. 
         The result is that you may return after 10 days of not feeding your fish, and at first, though possibly looking thinner, they will  
         appear to have survived well. What will happen, however, is that some fish will die over the next week or so from    
         opportunistic issues that arise from the effects of being fasted, and a steep price may not become clear until after they are 
         returned to their usual feeding schedule.

         When away, I have the room checked and everyone fed at least every other day. I will leave them for up to a third day without
         feeding with few ill effects. I know people that will leave their fishrooms unchecked for up to 2 weeks, but this will nearly always
         result in the loss of at least a few fish.

 
     Fish provided with consistent water quality and good foods
     will grow larger, show better color and breed willingly. These
     are the F1s of the cross between two all blues, and their spawns
     should produce 25% blues - I have not grown out a spawn of theirs
     as of this writing (Jan. 2017). These are not hybrids, but 5 years
     of selective breeding and using color mutations thrown from F1
     from the wild, Honduran Red Points. I expect I am 2-4 years
     from having the all blue cichlids for sale. These however, will
     need to be sold off as breeders are chosen, etc. If you might
     be interested in these one of a kind fish, email me at
     selectaquatics@gmail.com , and I can contact you when any
     become available.
 

         Can Fish Tolerate routine use of salt? Most fish have no problem living long term with a medicinal level of salt - 1
         tablespoon per every 5 gallons, and it will certainly suppress disease. Some advise against using salt with scaleless
         fishes, but I have known large, well run fish stores that have maintained that level of salt in all their aquariums of fish for
         sale. Overall, salt is messy, is destructive to metals and plants, and can be tricky to maintain at consistent dilutions when
         doing regular water changes. Here, we do not use it except to treat disease or when first acclimating some species.

         What is the best way to prevent disease? I have not used Copper Safe, but it is said to be a replacement for Aquarisol,
         which was excellent for preventing disease when dosed with water changes. Today, other copper based disease preventatives
         are still available. Using a half or full medicinal level of salt will also help to prevent disease. Otherwise, avoid wide
         temperature swings in your tanks (more than 2-3 degrees), maintain relatively clean tanks with regular water changes and an
         appropriate stocking level, regularly removing any mulm that collects, and keep the filter mediums changed. By doing those
         things you will see disease rarely, if ever. And of course, use a quarantine tank for 2 weeks before introducing any new fish
         to your tank.

         Does the placement of the tank matter to the Fish?- Absolutely. And it becomes more important when you are hoping to breed 
         a fish, or keep them long term. Besides the usual advice to not put a tank in front of a window or over a heater vent, far more subtle
         influences come into play with many species. Here, when a species does well,  it is noted and followed as to why - average
         temperature, temperature variations, amount and duration of light, activity outside of the tank, as well as placement near the floor
         or ceiling. After many years of keeping track of  who does best where, goodeids have gravitated to the cooler alcove, where the
         swords have done poorly. They moved to areas where some of the catfish also do well. When placing just a tank or two, look
         for a location that provides consistency and ability to see clearly into the tank, to keep an eye on how the fish are doing. A tank
         that is not examined at least daily simply doesn't do well!

         Can you catch disease from your tank? In fact, yes, there is a type of tuberculosis you can catch from working in a dirty
         aquarium. Some facilities encourage their employees to wear latex gloves when working in their tanks. Though I do not wear
         gloves when working in an aquarium, and never have, I do not put my hands in the aquarium when I have any open scratches
         or cuts, and never crush snail shells with fingers against the aquarium glass. (as you can be cut and introduce bacteria).
         I have worked in aquariums all of my life, as have many I have discussed this with, and none have ever become sick,
         or known anyone that has. However, it is possible, and maintaining a relatively clean aquarium while taking precautions to
         avoid introduction of bacteria through cuts and scratches are minimum precautions that should be followed.

         Can you eat the fish from your aquarium? - I have been asked this more than once. My answer is based on what I have been
         told - I have not tried it. But many of the fish we keep in our aquariums are eaten when caught in the wild by the local populations.
         Some are said to be good eating - the oscar cichlid first comes to mind. But I am told that aquarium maintained fish lack the muscle
         tone and a lifetime of high water quality, and both those aspects affect the taste, texture and experience of eating the fish you raise
         in your aquarium. People have told me that indigenous people will make tacos from the X. helleri I maintain here. If you have eaten 
         a fish you raised in a home aquarium, I would like to hear about it!

 
 

     Every fish has its own personality and needs that often
     differs between species. These X. mayae prefer living in
     tighter quarters, are shy until they get to know you,
     generally do not eat their fry, and show almost no aggression
     toward one another. Most other swords, particularly the males,
     will chase one another around and establish a clear heirarchy
     within a tank. Because of their need for feeling secure, and
     often living together in higher numbers, they are provided with
     fairly heavy filtration and live plants.

 

         The power went out! Now What?- When this happens, and it will, unless you have set up tanks with special conditions, in most 
         cases these freshwater fish will be fine for a few days. The issues are heat first, then aeration, then filtration (which can be addressed
         through water changes). If you anticipate that the outage may take more than a couple hours, split up any heavily stocked tanks into
         smaller containers to give greater access to air than when confined together in the aquarium. Do not feed anything. If separated out
         into bodies of water sufficient for them, they can last for long periods, particularly when doing daily 50% water changes and possibly
         feeding very lightly. Fish last in boxes when shipped for up to a week, and often longer. Provide an airstone if possible. Often the
         biggest problem is when the fish become chilled. The fish may have appeared to do well, as none had died during the outage. The 
         issue is that the fish were weakened by the experience, and may catch opportunistic  infections in the  upcoming 1-2 weeks.
         Though not appearing sick when the power resumes, introducing a 1/2 medicinal level of salt  and watching the  tank closely following
         an incident may be required to recover past the effect of the outage.

         Does the size of the tank matter to the fish?- Besides the obvious issues of the size of the fish and tank size, one species of sword,
         for example, the X. mayae, likes being kept at higher density levels in slightly smaller tanks than the other swords carried here. Others
         are far more territorial and prefer a less highly stocked tank. Many of the goodeids do best in 29 gallon tanks, and for example, a fish
         like the the C. lateralis does not always do well when given a 55 gallon tank. More tank is not always best, and dividers are made for
         most of the tanks here. They are used often to separate pairs or maintain small pops of dissimilar species. This way the fish benefit 
         from the stability of a larger body of water, but are still in a smaller space so that food is easily accessible.

         This concept is the strength behind central filtration of multiple tanks. Yes, filtration maintenance is easier when there is just one big
         filter to clean, but at the same time, a disease or problem is distributed through the tanks being served by the system. But some
         fish will show an improvement in health and breeding when provided with the feel of access to a larger body of water that a central  
         filtration system provides.

         How long will fish live?- Most of the livebearers will live for 2-3 years, some will go to 4. A guppy generation time is considered to
         be 4 months. The swords, platies and mollies have a generation time of approximately 8 months, and they generally live up to about
         4 years. Some of the Goodeids will routinely die in the spring of their third year. Danios will live a similar length, but some,
         such as the Giant Danio will occasionally get to 4-5 years old. Some barbs and tetras will live up to 5 years, and a few species
         may live up to 8-9 years. With Cichlids you are dealing with fish that live longer - often up to 10 - 12 years. Some of the catfish
         will live a long time as well, such as some species of Synodontis that will live up to 20 years, and others can live far longer.
 

 
     Most fish will survive long term with a once a day feeding.
     However, some fish are grazers, with shorter digestive tracts,
     and they do best when fed small amounts throughout the day,
     as opposed to big once or even twice a day feedings. The
     velifera is an example of a fish that is that way. See more
     on keeping the P. velifera HERE.

     Fish benefit greatly when a second feeding per day is added,
     improving their rate of growth, color, and both frequency and
     eagerness to breed.
 

         How many times a day should I feed?- All of the fish carried here must be fed at least once a day. Once a day can be
         adequate for most species, but is minimal. Through trying a variety of feeding schedules, I have found improvement in overall
         fish health, color, growth and breeding when a second feeding is introduced is substantial. Adding a third feeding, particularly
         if done in the evening, when a morning and noon feeding is possible, will introduce another jump in growth, appearance and 
         breeding. However, the jumps in overall fish health do not seem to continue much after a third feeding per day, with the exception 
         of those fish that are grazers, fish that should be fed throughout the day, such as the P. velifera. Here the velifera are fed small  
         amounts 5-10 times per day for maximum growth and breeding.

         How long is Dry Food good for?- It's best to assume dry food retains its freshness, in an airtight container at room
         temperature, for about 90 days, and up to 2 years if kept in a freezer. Storing the food in airtight containers in a refrigerator or 
         freezer, protecting it from the humidity of a fishroom, will extend its life. One way to test the food is to smell it. If it has no smell,
         or smells slightly rancid or stale, it is no longer good!

   
 

     A great part of the hobby is the opportunity to
     make stuff and do things for your fish that can
     be made cheaply, or only provided for them when
     you create it. One of the most common is the 2 liter
     pop bottle brine shrimp hatcher, and how to do that
     is HERE. The pic near left is rinsing ground beefheart,
     to be frozen into ice cubes and fed to the fish.

 

         Are live Foods really necessary? - For some species, yes. For the fish sold here, a few should have their diet
         supplemented regularly with live foods, as they need the boost for growth and reproduction. Without baby brine shrimp for
         new fry, for example, you may see losses, and fish simply do not grow as robust as they should on powdered dry food
         alone. When live foods are not an option, many quality frozen foods also do an excellent job. For convenience and keeping
         relatively fresh live food available, large batches of BBS (Baby Brine shrimp) are hatched then quickly frozen in ice cube
         trays. They are then fed as needed regardless of whether or not a hatch of cysts is in process.

         What are the best Live foods?- With respect to providing the broadest nutrition, easiest to raise, digest and known to 
         show the greatest results, when fed to increase breeding and growth rates, the best live foods are:  Newly hatched baby
         brine shrimp, followed by red worms (Chopped, for adult fish), followed by black worms (Live), blood worms (Live or frozen),
         daphnia (Live or frozen), vinegar eels (For the smallest fry), and then mysis shrimp (Frozen). I am working with a species of
         white worm currently that is prolific, and does not require refrigeration, showing great results with many of the species here.
         Microworms are not used here currently, but are used by many instead of vinegar eels for the smallest fry.

         What are the easiest live foods to raise? - After trying just about everything (but not mosquito larvae!), there is a live food
         that is hands down the easiest to raise, you can raise them in large numbers, they don't carry any aquatic pathogens, don't bite,
         and can be left for long periods without being fed. They are so nutritious that fish can be maintained on just them alone. And that
         live food are red worms. The drawback? They are best for slightly larger fish, and you have to cut them up to feed them to your fish,
         and many find that tough to do.  Find how to obtain, keep, raise and breed them HERE.

         2nd easiest - Vinegar Eels- For egg layer and small livebearer fry, they are about the size of microworms, and when a culture
         bottle of them is set up, they can go 5 months without being disturbed - no feeding, nothing - and they will be fine, yielding
         a large harvest whenever you choose to feed. At 4 months you simply start new cultures.

         3rd easiest- Baby Brine Shrimp - With the making of a 2 liter bottle hatcher, you can produce daily live baby brine shrimp with
         the purchase of viable brine shrimp cysts. A pound can that sat in a friend's hot garage for any period of time, or hung on a
         hook on a pet store wall at room temperature may not hatch for you. Cysts should be refrigerated or frozen as soon as they
         are obtained. The best way to obtain brine shrimp is to purchase a 1 lb. can from a vendor such as Brine Shrimp Direct. Keep
         the opened can refrigerated. It is a fair initial expense ($40-50), but a pound will last you a long time.

         Can I make my own Food? - Yes, but you may decide it is not worth the effort. Fish food recipes, such as those published by
         Dr. Gordon going back to the 1930's were often prepared by hobbyists at home.  Some foods can be done relatively easily,
         such as Beefheart.  However, when combining the ingredients required for those older legacy recipes, you will need to deal
         with the same issues that commercial preparations have solved. There are hobbyists with quality food drying equipment
         producing excellent quality foods, and can be found selling these specialty foods on the internet.

 
 

     Plastic shoebox style containers are used as breeders here by
     cutting out the majority of one long side and the bottom, then
     gluing in a fine waterproof mesh over the openings so that
     water can flow through the containers. Then, make-shift handles
     are fashioned from hardware pieces and connected to the 
     shoeboxes with electrical ties. Marbles are glued to the sides
     to keep it away from the aquarium glass so that fish do not
     get stuck behind them.

 

         Do Net Breeders Work? - For some species, yes, for most species carried here, no. But they are used routinely here to raise up
         new fry. The reason is that at 5-6 inches square, they are generally too small for most fish other than guppies and the Tiger Limias.
         They are not to be considered for the larger swordtails, and with the Ameca splendens, gravid females put into a breeder
         will often abort their brood, and drop all of them within a day or two of being put into the breeder. The best way is to set up
         a 2 gallon "Critter Keeper", or a 5 or 10 gallon aquarium. bare bottom, heavily planted, with a sponge filter (So that fry
         are not sucked up, and can feed from the surface), and a cover to prevent the female from jumping. Then, as soon as you see that
         she has dropped her brood, remove her and the majority of the plants. Then raise the fry up separately until old enough to fend
         for themselves before being put in with the adults.

 

 

         Greg Sage
         selectaquatics.com
         selectaquatics@gmail.com 
 

 

        

 

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