Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Guppy Breeding Program

I haven't posted for awhile, so hello to all who read this.

This post is about my selective breeding plan for guppies. Here's how it goes:

Mother for round 1
 Buy either an already pregnant female*, or buy a pair of guppies. Be sure the male has the largest tail you can find for genetic purposes.
Get the fry, and then remove the parents to avoid confusion.
Feed the fry a variety of foods so that they are healthy, and be sure to have a sponge filter, and NO substrate. Do have hiding places though.
Once the fry’s anal fins develop and you can tell the gender, remove all the females.
Wait for the male fry to grow up, then select the one with the largest, most colorful tail/fins.
Put the selected male with the non-bred female who appears the healthiest.
Once they have fry, remove the parents.
Watch the second batch of fry grow up, and then pick the your show guppies.

*the second round of breeding is done because you don’t know the genetics of the first father. Otherwise, the second round is optional, but recommended.

Also remember that on your first try, you may have a mortality rate of 50-70%

Other details:

10 gallons

sponge filter

75 F

hiding places (small malaysian driftwood)

food- tiny crushed flakes/fry food- larger fry bloodworms and flakes- parents flakes, hikari small tropical pellets, bloodworms

Small aerator for ideal health

Java moss for babies and adults

Father for round 1

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Putting Real Wood in Aquariums

Real wood in an aquarium always makes a lovely and natural looking decoration, but what types of wood are there? Which of those is the best to use? What are the effects of real wood on your aquarium?

The most common kinds of wood used for aquariums are Manzanita wood, Mopani wood, Malaysian driftwood, bog wood, and many other kinds.
All wood that you get (excluding bog wood) should be soaked beforehand to prevent discoloration if that's not what you want. However, for most South American species of fish, murky water is actually natural, so having your piece of wood discolor the tank is not bad for the fish.
If you do plan on soaking the wood though, you can either boil it if it's small enough, or what I do is put it in the bathtub with really hot water for a long time. Sometimes up to a month, actually. The denser the wood, the longer the discoloration is, but the hotter the water temperature, the shorter this process takes.

The best type of wood is really a personal opinion. All woods have certain good and bad qualities to them. My recommendation is Malaysian driftwood. It is a dense, self-sinking wood that I use in my tanks. A wood I would NOT recommend is Mopani. I've never used it, but I hear it causes a nasty white fungus that is detrimental to fish.

The effects of some types of wood on an aquarium is mainly discoloration. Another effect is lowering pH, although this shouldn't be an issue if you use treated tap water. However, RO water is already low in pH, so putting wood in with RO water is a risky situation.

Have fun with your wood!

A lovely piece of Malaysian driftwood

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cichlid Tank Setup

This post is about ideal cichlid tank setup- size, substrate, plants, pH, temperature and a little on filtration recommendations. I only own South American cichlids, so I speak from experience with those species (as opposed to African cichlids).

Size- With my 2 Jack Dempseys and 1 Oscar cichlid, I use 30 gallons for the Oscar, and 50 gallons for the 2 Dempseys. This might seem slightly small to other fish keepers, but this setup is currently working really well for me. Others may recommend 55-75 gallon tanks. I guess bigger is always better unless you don't have quite enough space. However if you have barely any space for a larger aquarium, cichlids probably aren't the best choice. If you have multiple cichlids in one tank, a longer tank, as opposed to taller, is better. This is so each tank occupant has their own space (cichlids can be very territorial).

Substrate- A finer substrate is recommended for cichlids due to the fact that they dig out areas to make nests. The finer the substrate the easier it is to make nests. I use Quikrete play sand as my substrate for both tanks. That type of sand is cheap ($3 for a 50 lb bag), and is available at Home Depot or Lowe's.
Fine gravel is also a good choice, but smoother edged gravel is good so the fish don't hurt themselves.
1'' to 1.5'' of gravel or sand on the bottom is ideal.

Plants- Plants that are actually rooted into the ground are not so good for cichilds, because they will just rip them out in their nest making process. Floating plants are much better because you still get the benefit of having live plants, but get it without disturbing the cichlids. In my tanks, I use a type of floating plant called pennywort. I like pennywort because it actually looks good, while a lot of other floating plants look like weeds (which is really what they are).
Pennywort in an aquarium (also notice the fine gravel/sand)
pH & Temperature- The pH for most South American cichlids is about 7. The ideal temperature is about 71-77 F.

Filtration- I recommend the the brand Aqueon, which is a cartridge filter. It's rather inexpensive, and the only downside is having to buy more filter cartridges, but they work really well and you don't have to change them that often. I use them in all but one of my tanks, and they keep the water nice and clean.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Russian Tortoises

First reptile/terrarium post!
This time it's about the majestic Russian tortoise- about them in general and how to care for this lovely little reptile.

Russian tortoises are rather small tortoises, only growing to be about 8-10'' (females) and 6-8'' (males).
The ideal terrarium setup for this creature should be about 75 gallons. However, glass sided enclosures are not recommended, due to the fact that there is poor air circulation and tortoises don't understand the concept of glass and will try to go through it, which causes stress. If you do have to use an aquarium though, I recommend putting a paper covering on the sides so they aren't see through and the little guy won't get confused.
A more ideal setup for the tortoise is actually just a big Rubbermaid container. These are more lightweight than aquariums, and there is no need for making a paper covering because the sides are already not transparent. With some good substrate, hiding places, and lights, this setup makes a great home for your tortoise.
As far as substrate goes, it should be a half & half mix of sand and garden loam or peat moss. Be sure it's not too dry- though these reptiles are native to places with arid weather, their burrows are much more humid.

The diet of the Russian tortoise is pretty simple. In the wild, they normally eat different kinds of plants- making them herbivores. In captivity, some nice foods to feed them would be romain lettuce, red and green leaf lettuce, endive, escarole, chicory, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, collards, and sometimes cabbage. Variety is the key to a good diet. With my own tortoise, I also mix in some tortoise chow/pellets, just to be sure he gets enough nutrients. I've found that if I just leave it out and don't mix it in with the greens, she won't eat it.
If the tortoise has leftover food that they won't eat (if it's been sitting there for a day or so) be sure to remove it. It can start molding and getting nasty, which is obviously not good for the tortoise.

Lights are also very important to the health of this animal. Be sure that they have a heat lamp, as you would have with any reptile, and also have a UV light if they aren't in an outdoor pen. The UV light helps with giving them vitamin D, which they would otherwise get from the sun.

Fun Fact: Russian tortoises are not only native to some parts of Russia, but also parts of the Middle East and some of China.

My Russian tortoise, Nuala.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Proper Goldfish Care

Carassius auratus auratus

Goldfish go in bowls, right?
Actually, no.
Lots of space is just one of the items that is needed to maintain happy and healthy goldfish.
Over time I've learned a lot about goldfish. I got some of my first fish when I was a lot younger, and I just assumed that the goldfish went into bowls because that's what everyone does. Well, I have since learned better. Common goldfish need at least 50 gallons per fish Way bigger than you thought right? Fancy goldfish also need at least 20 gallons. One of the reasons for this is that, given the proper care, goldfish can live up to 10 years or more and can get up to a foot long. The bigger the tank, the better. If you don’t want to put your goldfish in a large tank, then ponds are another option.

As far as food goes, dry food is commonly used, though that causes some gastrointestinal problems, especially in fancy goldfish. Another option is gel food, which you can find recipes for and make yourself to be sure of the quality. A tip about food for goldfish is not to have too much protein, for this causes a lot of ammonia to be produced during digestion, which leads to a dirty tank.

Another contributor to the health and happiness of goldfish is water changes. Since goldfish are such messy creatures, they need a lot of water changes- all size aquariums need a partial (40-50%) weekly water change. If the water is not changed, then the chemicals from the fish’s waste can build up and reach toxic levels, which can be detrimental to the fish.

Fun Facts: -Goldfish originated from coldwater streams in China.
                  - The largest goldfish in the Guiness Book of World Records is 14 inches long.

Sources: tropicalfishkeeping.com and thekoimaiden

One of my fancy goldfish

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oscar Cichlid

Fish Profile: Oscar Cichlid

Definitely one of my favorite cichlids. 
The Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus) is a species of cichlid native to South America, specifically Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil and French Guyana. It is also found in the Amazon river basin.
This fish can grow to be up to 18 inches in length and weigh up to 3.5 lbs. Quite a big fishy!
In the wild, their diet consists of pretty much anything that falls into the water, and other fish, so these cichlids are omnivores, which means they eat both other animals and plants. 
In captivity, their diet consists of cichlid food, like pellets, and other fish. This species does require a lot of vitamin C though, and will develop problems without enough of it.
They require a temperature of about 72-85 F, and a pH (acidity level) of 6-7.5.
They have a pretty long lifespan of about 15-20 years, so if you plan on buying one, it is quite a commitment.
They also require a minimum tank size of 55 to 75 gallons to grow up healthily. I got mine as a baby, and it's still pretty small so I put it in a 20 gallon (which is much too small for a full grown fish), but I do plan on moving it to a 75 gallon shortly.
Here's a picture of my own oscar fish:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Getting Started/Introductions

Hooray! First post!
First off, who am I and what am I doing.
I'm a fish/reptile enthusiast from Minnesota who's been raising fish and reptiles for about 10 years, and I eventually plan to be a zoologist specializing in fish...an ichthyologist. This blog is meant to be here to share my experiences and maybe some knowledge that I have.
I don't know everything, but I do know some things, which I plan to share.

To continue, I'll introduce my tanks.
I have 12 altogether.
I'll do a bio on each type of fish later on, but for now here they are.

Native tank
 - 2 central mudminnows    
- 4 fathead minnows
- 3 brook sticklebacks

Saltwater tank
- lunar wrasse
- yellow tang
- clownfish
- coral beauty angelfish
- yellow tail damsel
- snails

Oscar tank
- 1 oscar cichlid
- 2 tinfoil barbs

Livebearer tank
- 5 mollies (1 sailfin, 1 balloon, 3 regular)
- 2 blue platy

Tetra/Jack Dempsey
I realize that this sounds less than ideal with the Jack Dempseys, but they've been like this for about a month and everyone gets along just fine, so I plan to keep it this way.
- 2 Jack Dempsey cichlids
- 1 buenos aires tetra
- 1 congo tetra
- 1 pristella tetra
- 1 gold dojo loach

- 3 golfish (orange, calico, and black)

1 gallon tank
- 1 immortal feeder golfish

Corn Snake terrarium
- 1 corn snake

Ball Python terrarium
- 1 ball python

1 Russian Tortoise terrarium

1 Painted Turtle  terrarium

+ 3 betta bowls

So there you have it, my tanks.

I think that's all I wanna say for now.