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Contains articles regarding fish and aquariums in the news.

2012’s New Fish Species – Obama Fish, “Head-Mater”, Flabby Whalefish…

Black Cap BassletFishes are the most numerous and diverse of all vertebrates, so it’s no surprise that many fascinating new species were discovered in 2012.  Among them were 9 brilliantly-colored American Darters and a Vietnamese fish that carries its sexual organs on its head (dubbed, for the lack of a better name, the Genitalia-Headed Fish).  Shallow Tennessee streams, ocean trenches nearly 2 miles deep, Indonesian coral reefs and many other habitats yielded wonderful surprises, and hinted that fish enthusiasts have much more to look forward to. Today I’ll highlight a few grabbed my attention; please post your own favorites (whether covered here or not) below.

US Darters: the Obama Fish and other “Politicos”

Nine new species of freshwater Darter were described from the southeastern USA this past year (Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History).  Five were named in honor of the environmental awareness exhibited by current and former politicians: Etheostoma obama, E. teddyroosevelt, E. gore, E. jimmycarter and E. Clinton. Read More »

Aquarium Fishes and Hurricanes – Dealing with Bacterial Blooms, Disease and Lack of Oxygen

Discus AquariumHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  October, 2012’s Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc on fish keepers and public aquariums in the Northeastern USA.  My own collection, which houses several 20-30 year-old catfishes, loaches and aquatic amphibians, suffered only a single loss.  I owe a debt of gratitude to the dedicated folks at That Fish Place-That Pet Place, who shipped much-needed supplies to me in record time, despite the disastrous weather.  The public aquariums for which I consult are now working frantically to limit losses; I’ll provide updates via Twitter.

Most aquarists know what steps to take during power outages, so today I’d like to focus on several points that, in my experience, are sometimes over-looked.

Filter Care and Bacteria Die-offs

When power fails, submersible, corner, and other internal filters should be removed from the aquarium.  When oxygenated water is flowing through a filter, waste material is processed by beneficial aerobic bacteria, and ammonia is converted to less toxic nitrites and nitrates (please see this article).  Once the flow of water stops, the resident beneficial bacteria perish.  Without aerobic bacteria, your filter becomes a source of decomposing organic material, quickly poisoning the already-stressed aquarium inhabitants.

As the contents of external aquarium filters are not in direct contact with the water, they will not immediately add to the pollution problem.  However, these filters should be disconnected because when electric power is restored, they will pump ammonia and other toxins into the tank. Read More »

Maintaining Aquarium Temperatures for Fish Health

Cichlid with ichMaintaining proper aquarium temperatures is essential for the health and well-being of your fish. While aquarium heaters do a pretty good job at this, the probability of fluctuations from fall through spring tends to be greater and possibly more detrimental. You may not even realize how much the temperature of the water changes through the day or day-to-day until you’re faced with ich or some other problem in your aquarium.

The Threat of Cool Temperatures

While our aquarium fish will rarely if ever be exposed to near or below freezing temperatures in the safety of your home (hopefully), fish farmers in Florida can attest to the immediate and lingering problems that can come with even short exposure to cold temps. Exposure to temps below 60 F can create chaos in a tropical tank, so you can imagine what freezing temps do to tropical fish housed in an outdoor setting. Sensitive fish may be killed outright from the shock of extreme temperatures or fluctuations in temperatures. Others face blows to their immune systems and the increased chance of being infected by opportunistic parasites, fungi or bacteria. These organisms take advantage at the slightest sign of stress on the part of tropical fish, and can decimate the population in a short amount of time. Cooler temperatures tend to make normally active fish lethargic and slower to react, making them more open to predation if outdoors. Similar problems can occur in the aquarium if smaller or more sensitive fish are not able to hide or escape the curiosity of larger, hardier tankmates.  Read More »

Predatory Pacu in Papua New Guinea?

PacuA few days ago, I came across a curious story in the aquatic news feed regarding fatalities of local swimmers/fishermen in Papua New Guinea. Though the reported fatalities occurred in 2001, the unusual events drew famous monster fish angler Jeremy Wade to Oceania to investigate and nab one of the possible culprits.

There were apparently two fatalities in 2001 during which the two men had their genitalia bitten off as they pursued their aquatic activities. Both bled to death (these were two seperate occasions) after being bitten by a mysterious, human-like predator in a remote area. As it turns out, the culprit was a large Red-bellied Pacu. Read More »

Hatching Triops as Pets

Triops longicaudatusEvery generation grew up with their alternative pets – ant farms, Sea Monkeys, pet rocks, Tamagochi’s, Furbies – but there are still others out there that are just waiting to lure in the next generation. One of my favorites of these is one that, in my opinion, doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves; they are MUCH cooler than the brine shrimp known as Sea Monkeys, at the very least! So what are these new little pets you can put under the Christmas tree instead of a pony or a puppy? Try Triops, aka “Sea Monsters”! Read More »