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Contains articles featuring information, advice or answering questions regarding planted aquariums, livestock or equipment.

Botia striata : The Smart Snail Solution

Please welcome Craig Beauchamp to That Fish Blog. Craig’s another of our fish room experts. He’s been Craig Beauchampinvolved with the retail fish trade since 1996, and served as Director of Freshwater Fish at top stores in Atlanta and San Diego. His interests and expertise lie in both Old World and New World Cichlids, tropical planted tanks, and marine reef aquaria. He’s been an aquatics supervisor at TFP since 2007.

With the rise in popularity of tropical planted aquariums, people are also beginning to look for new solutions to aid in snail prevention and eradication. Since many of the snail killing products on the market today contain copper, they are not a wise choice to use in planted aquariums because of the sensitivity of those plants to copper. That leaves aquarists with two choices : mechanical or biological snail control. Mechanical control consists of trapping the snails with a jar that contains a leaf of lettuce. The jar is placed in the tank at night and removed in the morning. Another mechanical solution is physically removing the individual snails by hand. One can see that neither of these methods offer complete control. Biological control involves using snail eating fish to remove the snails from your tank. This is often the best and most efficient way to remove snails in any tank.

Botia striataWhile many people look to the clown loach ( Chromobotia macracanthus) to help rid their tanks of pesky snail populations, there are several small species of Botia that are perhaps a better, smarter solution for tanks under 150 gallons. Botia striata is one of these species. While the clown loach reaches a size of nearly 40 cm (16 in.) the modest zebra loach only attains a size of around 10cm (4in.) A curious and attractive addition to your tank, the zebra loach has the typical torpedo – shaped body of most botia. They are yellow in color with diagonal black striations. The zebra loach hails from clear mountain streams in India, where it lives in shoals of several individuals and feeds on crustaceans, insect larvae, worms, and soft plant material. Botia striata are relatively undemanding fish to keep in a home aquarium. Although they prefer softer water, they tolerate a wide range of pH vaues (6.5 to 8.0) and can also tolerate temperatures from 75 F to 82 F, so long as the temperature is stable. Like most botia, the zebra loach does benefit from higher oxygen levels in the water. Performing small weekly water changes of 10% to 20% and placing an airstone in the aquarium will provide plenty of oxygen. Weekly water changes will also keep your dissolved organic levels down to a minimum. This will be appreciated greatly by all residents of the aquarium, especially any botia or loach.

Zebra loaches, since they live in shoals in their natural habitats, love the company of their own kind. A small group of 3 or more is recommended, although a male and a female will live together in relative bliss. Females tend to be more robust and heavier of body than their slimmer, more streamlined male counterparts. A pair or small group of these fish will work diligently to remove any unwanted snail from your aquarium. Supplemental feedings with algae wafers, sinking pelleted foods, and frozen shrimp will round out their diet nicely.

The size and peaceful nature of Botia striata make them an ideal choice for any community aquarium. It is their small size, combined with the gregarious and calm nature of the fish, that makes it an obvious choice for anyone wanting to rid their tank of snails. With proper care and feeding, Botia striata will live for up to 15 years and provide you with a wonderful and hardy addition to your community aquarium.

Thanks for the article Craig,

Until Next Time,


Introduction to Freshwater Shrimp

Please welcome back Patty Little to That Fish Blog. Patty has previously written such articles as Water Gardening in Natural Ponds & Preparing Your Pond Plants After Winter. Please welcome Patty Back to That Patty LittleFish Blog.

As aquarists, we may find ourselves in a constant quest to find the next unique and interesting creature to enhance our underwater display.   We may not always consider shrimp when we ponder species to add, but if you’re looking for something new, particularly if you have a planted community, freshwater shrimp species may be just what you’re looking for.  Shrimp are not only fun to observe, but in many cases they serve as efficient cleaners.

There are several species of freshwater shrimp offered commonly in the aquarium hobby, some more often than others.  Let me introduce you to the first two species you may encounter in your quest.  I’ll talk about some others in my future blogs.

Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimp, aka glass shrimp, are probably the most common shrimp offered in the trade, but they are usually offered as a live food source or treat for predators, both marine and freshwater.   These guys are terrific additions to the home aquarium, as they serve as scavengers as well as consumers of soft algae on rock, wood, and other surfaces.  These shrimp, Palaeomonetes sp., are hardy, inexpensive, and low maintenance.  They are virtually translucent, though some may be slightly more opaque with a hint of white or green to their exoskeleton, and a small orange or yellow dot adorns the tail.  The contents of their stomach, or at least the color of their last meal is quite visible.  They have ten pairs of legs, the front 2 tipped with small claws for feeding. Ghost shrimp grow to about 2 inches, and they tend to grow quickly.
They do not tend to have long lives, maybe about a year or so.  Be sure to ask your source if they are housed in freshwater, as there are some species that are brackish or marine, and will not tolerate full freshwater for extended periods. Otherwise, they are fairly undemanding.  They prefer a clean environment with low to neutral Ph, and temperatures ranging from the low 60’s to the mid 80’s.  They like plenty of cover like plants and caves, and will be perfectly happy scavenging leftover flake food and algae.  Ghost Shrimp can be housed in groups or singly in smaller tanks, and they can be housed with peaceful community fish, particularly small tank mates like tetras, rasboras, and other non-predatory fish.

Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp, sometimes offered as Japanese Marsh Shrimp or Yamoto Numa-Ebi, were introduced and popularized by Takashi Amano, whose planted aquaria are world renowned.  These little shrimp are about 2 inches at maturity, and are prized by aquarists with planted tanks for their algae-eating habits.  Algae and decaying plant matter is their primary diet, though as with most shrimp, they will greedily eat flake food when offered, and may eat some soft plants like java moss if algae is in short supply.  They are attractive shrimp, with light brown bodies and a tan stripe down the middle of the back.  They have reddish-brown markings along their sides.  They are relatively long lived, and absolutely safe in community environments.
Amano Shrimp are not tolerant of ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels, and the aquarium housing them must be well maintained.  They prefer a Ph of 6.0-7.5 and temps from the high 50’s to the high 70’s.  If your algae issue is significant, feed flakes sparingly to steer them to the soft algae.  They will not be successful with tougher algae like spot algae and the infamous Black Brush Algea.

Thanks for the great article Patty,

Until next time,