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Keeping Betta rutilans – the Dwarf Fighter

Blackwater StreamHaving always kept saltwater tanks, I recently decided to try my hand at a freshwater planted tank.  Not having a lot of room to work with, I decided to set up a small, 2.5 gallon tank.  With such a small volume of water, I was limited in the fishthat I could keep, but I found a perfect fit for my new tank.

Dwarf Fighters (Betta rutilans) would be my new endeavor.  I researched the fish and took a look at the conditions of their native habitat in to get a better idea about how to furnish the tank. Betta rutilans comes from drainage basins in the Indonesian region and Borneo. They live in blackwater environments, where the water stays soft and acidic. These little guys only grow to a little over an inch in length, and they’re usually solid red or red with some green on their sides.  They have a longer and narrower body than Betta plendens, and have short, rounded fins like B. albimarginata. They can be housed with others of their kind. I’m hoping to see these fish spawn in the tank and I chose 1 male and 3 females to see how they get along.   Read More »

Breeding the T-bar Cichlid – Cryptoheros sajica

Sajica eggsCryptoheros sajica, formerly known as Archocentrus sajica, hails from Central America and belongs in the same family as the popular Convict Cichlid. I first came across this particular species of fish at an auction in Cleveland, where I picked up a bag for about five bucks. In the bag were 8 fish, each about a half inch in length.  At the time I was living in Cleveland, and they all went into a 30 gallon tank. They shared the tank with a 5 inch royal pleco and some neon tetras and rummynoses. I kept the water chemistry stable with a ph of around 7.6 and a general hardness of 6 degrees. The temperature was set at 78 degrees (F). The tank was furnished with live plants, driftwood and clay flower pots. I also added some flat stones, in hopes the new additions would eventually spawn on them.

They grew pretty quickly.  I fed them twice a day, and feeding was very easy. They pretty much ate anything that fell in front of their face. Every other day I performed water changes of about ten percent to keep the chemistry up to par.  By the end of the first year they were each about 3 inches long.

Finally, one day I had noticed that two had paired off.  They had all the others pinned in corners and fearing for their lives, so the following day I baged up the dominated fish, and traded them in for some baby brine and earthworm flakes before they met an untimely death by the newly territorial and greedy pair. Within days I noticed the couple cleaning one of the flat stones. I also noticed that the female’s breeding tube was visible, a sign that eggs are soon to come. She laid about 100 small. tan-colored eggs the following day. It happened to be my day off, and I was excited that she had laid her first batch of eggs, Little did I know that the pleco decided he had an appetite for caviar. The inexperienced soon-to-be parents tried to keep the intruder away, but the pleco was determined to have his fancy meal. The damage done, I relocated the pleco to my African cichlid tank.

Sajica eggsShe had another batch of eggs 3 weeks later. This time they were better prepared, and with no armored, sucker-mouthed egg eaters in their tank, they were on the road to success. These fish are very good parents once they get the hang of it! They guarded their offspring ferociously, even attacking the gravel tube as I tried to clean the substrate. When they were big enough, I moved the fry I could catch to a seperate 20 high. About 50 fry made it to be traded and sold from that batch.

I don’t consider sajicas a very vibrant species, though they are attractive in their own way. They remind me a lot of the A. spilurus, with their shimmering blue eyes. Maybe their most striking feature is the blue throat developed by both males and females as they mature. Males attain an adult size of 5 inches and females about 3.5 to 4 inches. With caution they may be kept with community fish, but they are almost always aggressive towards others of their own kind. I would say the minimum tank size for an adult pair would be a 29 gallon. I would highly recommend this species to someone who would like to try something other than a Convict Cichlid. They breed easily and are really fun to watch as they spawn and raise their fry. If you have any questions about them, please let me know in the comments section!


Comparing Aquarium Testing Options

Many other blogs have discussed (and will continue to discuss, I’m sure) the importance of testing various levels in your water and its effects on the overall health of your aquarium. But, how can you actually test it? For anyone who isn’t able to bring a water sample into That Fish Place or their local fish store for testing or who wants monitor their water quality at home, there are lots of options for what tests to use. While what to actually test for is for another blog, there are lots of options when it comes to how the tests are actually done. Here we’ll look at the pro’s and con’s of the three most common aquarium testing methods: Test Strips, Liquid Test Kits, and Electronic Testing Equipment. Read More »

What Is It and Why Do I Need It? – Part 2 – Freshwater Aquarium Salt

Many freshwater aquarists use or at least have heard of using salt in their freshwater aquariums, but few seem to know why. Most “read about it somewhere”, “heard it from someone”, or “saw it on the shelf so I must need it”. To some, it may be beneficial but to others it can cause far more harm than good.

What exactly is Aquarium Salt?

Aquarium Salt“Salt” is a very broad chemical term and can refer to an unlimited combination of elements. The salt used in freshwater aquariums is Sodium chloride (NaCl). This is NOT the same thing as what is probably in your kitchen and is NOT the same thing that saltwater aquarists use for their corals and clownfish. The “table salt” used as a condiment is mostly NaCl, true, but most table salt is Iodized Table Salt and contains iodine, de-caking agents, and possibly potassium or other trace elements. The marine salt used in saltwater aquariums is mostly NaCl, also true, but has buffers and other elements like sulfate, magnesium, calcium, potassium and others. All of these extra ingredients can range from unnecessary for to harmful to freshwater aquariums, affecting the biology of freshwater plants and animals directly as well as changing the water chemistry in the tank. For freshwater aquariums, use only salt sold as freshwater Aquarium Salt or pure NaCl like Kosher Salt or Rock Salt. Read More »

What Is It and Why Do I Need It, Part 1 – Activated Carbon

There are some products that you can find in every store that sells aquarium supplies and that every aquarist has purchased at some point or another, no matter how long they’ve been in the hobby or what type of aquarium they’ve had. Out of those stand-bys, how many of them do you really need, and do you know what they do (or do not) do for your aquarium? One of the most wide-spread of these “necessities” is activated carbon. Read More »