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The “Salmon Cannon” and other Odd Aquatic Stories from the News

Here are a few stories that I came across recently that are definitely not something you see every day.  Some of these are a real head scratchers.


What is the worst fish to eat?

The Souza family from Rio de Janeiro may have found out the hard way.  The family sat down to eat a fish dinner, a nice meal provided by a family friend who caught the fish on the Brazilian Coast.  As they started to eat the fish, it quickly became apparent that there was something wrong.  The Fish that they were eating was a poisonous Puffer Fish, whose venom has paralyzing effects.



Climate Change Awareness

I’m not sure how transporting 112 Tons of Glacier from Greenland to Copenhagen, Denmark is somehow a good idea to promote Climate Change Awareness, but that is exactly what has been done.  The Ice will be put on display so people can SEE climate change, as the icebergs melt.  Given the Carbon footprint of capturing and transporting these things 2000 miles, only to melt in the street seems a bit misguided to me.



Invasive Species lead to a drastic decision

Invasive aquatic species are a real problem; invasive species can destroy habitats, and outcompete local species where they are introduced.  In San Francisco’s Presidio Mountain Lake Park invasive species of Carp, Sturgeon and Bass have been wiping out indigenous species.  After years of trying conventional methods like fishing, trapping and even electroshock without success, they are planning to take even more drastic measure.  They are going to poison the lake, to kill all the fish, and then reintroduce native fish back into the pond.  Death by conservation is a tough way to go for anything living in the pond if you ask me.



Shooting Fish from a cannon

In what sounds like a skit from the Muppet Show, a real fish cannon has been developed to help aid migrating salmon get over man made obstacles like dams and powerplants.  Check out the video, it brings a whole new meaning to flying fish.


I hope you found these stories interesting, until next blog,


Our Newest Aquarium Display: An African Cichlid Utopia Tank!

Have you stopped by our Lancaster, PA retail store lately?  If not, you are missing out on our new and exciting 220 gallon cichlid aquarium display.  Created by one of our cichlid experts Erett Hinton, the aquarium is located in our spacious fish room and displays the beautiful and natural environment that cichlids can bring into your own home.


Why Cichlids?

IMG_0713 (1)

The cichlid species is a diverse group of fish, each with distinct appearances and behaviors that make them attractive to aquarium hobbyists.  “I was fascinated by the color, variety and intelligence,” said Erett.   “Something that separates cichlids from other fresh and saltwater fish is that there are more variants in cichlids than any other variety of fish in the world.  New species are still being discovered every day and it continues to make the hobby more interesting.”

Erett is certainly no stranger to cichlids.  He has kept them since he was a young teenager, and operated his own cichlid breeding company in Florida.  “I ran it by myself for eight years, with about 200 tanks and 70 different African, South and Central American species.”   His experience is a tremendous addition to our knowledgeable fish room staff.

Erett has combined a variety of cichlids from the Malawi, Tanganyika and Victorian Lake regions into a single “African Cichlid Utopia Tank.”  The aquarium houses 71 fish selected from our fish room, included with a variety of plecos and clown loaches to give the ecosystem some added variety.

A total of 71 fish in a single aquarium may seem like a few too many, but there is a method to Erett’s design.  Cichlids are famously territorial by nature and if they were afforded space to take as their own, they would–and actively defend it.  “Crowding them takes their territorial behavior away,” says Erett, “and it creates more peace, with fewer fights and less fish loss.”

Cyphotilapia gibberosa or Blue Mpimbwe cichlid

Cyphotilapia gibberosa or Blue Mpimbwe cichlid

One resident that stands out is the Cyphotilapia gibberosa or Blue Mpimbwe cichlid.  The Tanganyikan native displays a prominent forehead with an attractive deep blue color.  The Mpimbwe has a calm demeanor and is not afraid to show itself to tank admirers, making it a perfect specimen around which you can build a show aquarium.

The selection showcases the wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes available from the species that you might not see from other types of freshwater fish.


Erett has housed this eclectic mix of fish in a Perfecto 220 gallon Aquarium donated by Marineland.  The six foot long aquarium provides the living space needed for a large number of fish.  Erett chose lace rock and antique coral rock for the natural decor and crushed coral for the substrate.  “The combination of rock elements and substrate help exfoliate higher pH and water hardness, to a degree which cichlids prefer.  It also creates a habitat they can thrive in and replicates their natural environment.”

Erett has doubled down on the filtration to accommodate the large bio-load that comes with so many fish.  Filtration for the aquarium includes two Marineland C-530 Canister Filters.  Together they provide the increased water flow and circulation necessary for the large aquarium.  Erett also includes sponge filters with his aquarium set ups.  He explains, “Sponge filters provide surface area for a super colony of beneficial biological bacteria.  It serves as part of the filtration that is never tampered with, allowing me to make larger water changes without harming the natural stability of the aquarium.”


Making Cichlids Feel At Home, In Your Home

IMG_0719 (1)African cichlids generally prefer a pH around 8.2 and enjoy temperatures around 79 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.  They also prefer low nitrate levels, so frequent water changes and making sure not to overfeed are both critical.  Erett feeds a mixture of Pure Aquatic Cichlid Flakes and New Era Cichlid Pellets, both of which provide necessary nutrients for growth and help bring out natural vibrant coloration.

Replicating a cichlid’s natural environment with structural elements like rock and substrate, along with water quality parameters like pH and temperature, gives you the ability to view firsthand how cichlids would behave in their native habitats.  You can watch as they exhibit unique territorial behaviors and engage in breeding activity and ritual, allowing you to experience nature right in your own living room.

Come Check It Out!

This attractive cichlid display tank is just one of several hundred aquariums that can be found in our fish room.  If you’d like to check out the aquarium stop by our Lancaster, PA retail store.  If you have any questions about the tank or cichlids in general, you can ask Erett in person or speak with any of the members of our expert fish room staff.


The following components were used to construct Erett’s “African Cichlid Utopia Tank”: 

Marineland Perfecto 220 gallon aquarium

Marineland Perfecto 72 in. x 24 in. Glass Canopy

(3) Marineland 30 in. Single Bright LED Fixtures

Approx. 180lbs of lace rock and antique coral rock

Approx. 220 lbs of crushed coral

(2) Marineland C-530 Canister Filters

(2) Marineland Visi-Therm 400 watt Heaters

Sponge Filters

Air Pump and Airline Tubing




Mark your calendars: Pond Demos at TFP on April 12th

Our in-house pond expert, Mike Lehman, will be giving informative demonstrations on Saturday April 12 from noon until 4pm at our Lancaster, PA retail store.


Join us for these informative demonstrations, including information on do-it-yourself container ponds, how to control algae in your backyard pond, information on pond fish and plants and more! Whether you’re a beginner in the backyard pond hobby or a seasoned professional, you’ll be sure to take home some valuable information!

Stay for the demonstrations for your chance to win a prize for your pond, plus we’ve got a coupon in our April flyer for an additional 10% off your pond supply purchase of $49.99 or more, so stock up for the season ahead! If you don’t recieve our mailers, be sure to sign up for email specials and check the box labeled “Retail store coupons”.

We hope to see your smiling faces on April 12 – bring your questions, problems or concerns and have an informal chat with Mike, stay for the demonstrations, prizes and SAVE big on your spring pond maintenance supplies.


Setting Up a Shell-dweller Tanganyikan Cichlid Aquarium

SpeciosusI think that Cichlids can be an extremely fun fish to watch.  They interact with each other and other fish in interesting ways and they have their own set of habits that can be really entertaining from building shelters to courting and breeding. I live on a budget, fresh out of college, so to set up a cheap cichlid tank, I decided to do a single species that stays small so I can use a smaller tank and less expensive equipment. Cichlids usually need a larger tank to accomodate their size and territoriality. I really wanted to try African Cichlids of some type, even though most of the South American dwarves are more colorful. Most African Cichlids grow to at least 4-6 inches, but I did find one group of cichlids, the Shell-dwellers from Lake Tanganyika, that would be just the right fit for my set-up. Many of these cichlids stay under 2 inches even as adults, so the 15 gallon tank that I have will provide plenty of space for several. They use the empty shells of aquatic snails as sites for breeding and shelter, and this behavior alone is very interesting to watch.  Read More »

Bold Basslets

Chalk BassHello, Sam here with another small fish profile.  Fish from the group of known as the basslets are mostly small, solitary species that are great candidates for smaller tanks.  These fish are related to the much larger basses.  Two species of fish that I particularly enjoy from this group of fish are the Chalk basslet (Serranus tortugarum) and the Tobacco Basslet (Serranus tabacarius).  Both of these fish are found in the Caribbean and are normally imported around 3 inches in length. Read More »