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JBJ is Back At TFP!

Hi everyone, Dave here. It has been a few years since we last offered any products from JBJ USA, we are proud to once again offer products from this innovative manufacturer.  As one of the pioneers of the all in one Nano-Reef aquarium, JBJ’s Nano Cube allowed aquarist with limited space and/or budgets to enjoy the beauty of the natural reef aquarium.  Over the years, the JBJ Nano Cube has undergone quite a few changes, and we have brought the product line back to TFP with two of their most advanced models  ever, the 28 gallon HQI, and the 28 gallon power compact powered Nano Cubes.

The 28 gallon HQI Nano Cube features a single 150watt 14K metal halide bulb, as well as 4 LED Nite-Vu bulbs, which give a high power 24 hr lighting system for whatever your reef keeping desires may be.  Along with its powerful light source, the New Nano Cube has a wealth of other high tech features, like a built in Air powered protein skimmer, and a dual return pump system that incorporates a pair of JBJ’s Accela powerheads controlled by an adjustable JBJ Ocean Pulse wavemaker.  These features add up to give this new Nano Cube a lot of bang for the buck, and allow you to keep even the most light demanding species of coral happy and healthy.

The 28 gallon power compact version of the tank features much of the same technology as its HQI powered counterpart, including the integrated filtration system, dual pump wavemaker, and LED Nite-Vu systems.  The biggest difference between the two is obviously the light supply.   The power compact Nano Cube uses a high power (105 watt) quad tube power compact, that has a dual spectrum output of 10,000K on one side, and 7100K on the other.  With this set up you can use the system for freshwater or saltwater, and there is plenty of lighting power for keeping  live plants or many corals thriving in this cool little tank. The compact flourescent model does not have a protein skimmer like the HQI version, but does have another interesting option.  The filtration tray has a clear lid on it, so that the filtration compartment can easily be transformed into a built in refugium.  Simply remove the media and replace it with macroalgae, pretty cool.

If you are in the market for an all in one aquarium system, you should check out the latest offerings from JBJ here at TFP, they are very nicely designed little tanks.

Until next time,


The Danios – Little Fish with Big Potential

Hello everyone! This is Craig, just writing a short blog on a group of fish that seems to be seeing a swell in popularity within the aquarium hobby lately. The danios. Yes… the lowly, boring, indestructible danios. You might just be surprised at how diverse and beautiful this group of fish has now become within the hobby. Gone are the days when Zebra danios (Danio rerio) and Leopard danios (Danio rerio ‘frankei’)were the only choices for hardy danio species. With the influx of newly discovered freshwater fish from South East Asia, there are many new and colorful species of danio. Almost all of these new danios still hold that indestructible danio trait. Here are some of the newest species in the hobby:

Danio choprae – the Glowlight Danio
Glowlight DanioThese fish are one of the smallest of danio species. Barely attaining a size of 2 inches, these little fish are very active and have been known to spawn in home aquaria! Their body is a beautiful gold with glowing orange stripe going down its side. You can also see some blue barring on the fish when they are very happy! Kept in groups of 10 or more, these little fish are really spectacular!

Danio sp. “Burma” – the Burma Danio
This is a relatively new discovery in the world of danios. A subtle, yet beautiful fish. The Burma Danio is another smaller species that has a wash of gold and green down its sides. These washes form very distinct green spots that are ringed in metallic gold! When these little fellows are kept in large schools of 10 or more, they swim in tight formations and swing from one side of the tank to the other. If you want to see what schooling fish are all about, this is your fish!

Danio kyathit – the Orange Fin Danio
The Orange Fin Danio may look like its cousin the Zebra Danio, but when placed in a planted aquarium with plenty of other OrangeOrange Fin Danio Fin Danios, this species will develop broad, reddish-orange stripes on its fins. To make things even more interesting, this fish comes in a striped or spotted color morph! Regardless of the morph you see, this fish makes a robust and hardy addition to any home aquaria.

Devario sp. “Giraffe” – the Giraffe Danio
A slightly larger species of danio, these 3 inch schooling fish boast an iridescent green and orange pattern to their sides that will remind you of a giraffe’s mottling. Very hardy and very rare! This species of danio is one of the most uncommon seen today and is already proving to be a beautiful and hardy fish. As with all danio species, these fish are lively and appreciate a well planted aquarium.

Laubuca dadiburjori – the Dadio
Hailing from India, this tiny danio reaches barely over an inch and is another rarity in the hobby. It has shown to be very hardy and even able to tolerate cooler water temperatures. The Dadio shows a more muted coloration and has a thin body with pale orange on the side and a thin blue stripe going through the orange. There is also a second color morph in which the blue stripe has three tiny little balls of blue spaced along the stripe. This is yet another species that will benefit from being kept with several of its own kind.

As you can see, there are some beautiful and interesting new species of danio that are just now making their way into the hobby. I, like most hobbyists, have overlooked the danios for years, but seeing the newer introductions, I have to say that they are indeed charming little fish that add life and even a little splash of color your aquarium. Even the old standards, the Zebra and Leopard danios, tend to take on new beauty now! Just remember, these spunky little fish will always do better in larger schools of 6 or more. Also, these guys love to eat, so a couple of small feedings per day will help to keep them in good shape. If you decide to get a handful of these little guys, enjoy!



Amphibians Masquerading as Fish – Notes on the Rubber Eel

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  As a child, I constantly combed the pet stores of the Bronx and Manhattan in search of the odd catfishes, lungfishes and eels I so favored.  I distinctly recall first coming upon some creatures labeled as “rubber eels”, and realizing that I was looking at something special – I just didn’t know exactly what!  The blue-gray “fish” were indeed quite rubbery in texture and did look like eels, yet something was “off”.  In time, I learned that these odd beasts were amphibians, specifically aquatic or River Cauca Caecilians, Tylphlonectes natans.

Natural History

Today, so many years later, you can still find these caecilians being sold as rubber eels.  The River Cauca caecilian is one of the  Typhlonectes natans few aquatic members of this little studied amphibian order (the Gymnophiona), and, even now, is the only one to regularly appear in the trade, or even in zoos.  They are found only within the drainages of 2 rivers systems in northern Columbia and northwestern Venezuela, and little is known of their lives in the wild.

Aquatic Caecilians in the Aquarium

River Cauca Caecilians are quite hardy when given proper care, and may even surprise you with young, which are born alive and have external gills.  I’ve bred them in a well-filtered (undergravel) 20 gallon aquarium at a pH of 7 and temperature of 76 F, but one experienced keeper advises that they fare better in acidic water, and recommends sphagnum moss as a substrate.  They may reach 24 inches in length, but most top out at 12-16 inches.

Caecilians are quite shy at first, and must be provided with subdued lighting and artificial caves, PVC pipes, live plants and the like as shelter.  Those I’ve kept have become quite bold after a time, leaving their hideouts by day when scenting the earthworms, blackworms and prawn that are their favorite foods.  A few individuals learned to take frozen foods and shrimp pellets, but live food is definitely preferable.

Fish keeping experience will serve you well in caring for these fascinating amphibians…with so much still unknown about them, I hope that more aquarists take up the challenge!

Further Reading

You can read more about this and other caecilians here.

Please write in with your questions and comments. 

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

Tylphlonectes natans image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Christophe cagé

Damselfishes and Clownfishes – Part 2 – The Percula Clownfish

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Please see Part I of this article for information on the natural history of the clownfishes and their close relatives, the damselfishes.  Today we’ll take a look at the most popularly kept of the clownfishes, the beautifully-colored Percula clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris.

Even before being skyrocketed to fame by the movie Finding Nemo, the Percula was an aquarium favorite, and one of the most widely-recognized marine fishes in the world.  Its brilliant orange and white coloration and seemingly “comic” mode of swimming endears it to all. 

Natural History

Percula ClownfishHailing from the Indo-Pacific region (western Pacific and eastern Indian Oceans, including the Great Barrier Reef), this clownfish reaches a length of 3.2 inches in captivity; wild specimens are reported to exceed 4 inches in length, but captive bred animals are generally smaller.

Observations of free living Percula clowns indicate that they usually colonize magnificent sea anemones, Heteractis magnifica.  I have not read any research indicating that the various clownfishes seek out host anemones based upon their ability to survive within a particular species (please see Part I), but such would certainly be interesting to investigate.  Please note: Maldive Clownfishes are pictured here with a Magnificent Sea Anemone.

Clownfishes in the Aquarium

Like all clownfishes, the Percula is territorial and quite protective of the anemone in which it lives.  Generally only one mated pair can be maintained in an aquarium, unless it is very large and well stocked with coral and other sight barriers. 

Percula Clowns are omnivorous, and accept a wide variety of dry, frozen and live foods.   A mix of vegetable-based and meaty items should be provided.

Fortunately, captive bred specimens are readily available.  If considering a Percula Clownfish, please be sure to select a captive bred animal. 

The Anemone-Clownfish Relationship

Percula ClownfishPercula clowns do fine in captivity without an anemone in which to live, but not so
in the wild….there, clownfishes deprived of an anemone’s protection are quickly consumed by predators.  However, they are at their best when displayed with a living anemone, and when kept so will reveal a great many of their interesting interactions with these invertebrates (please see Part I of this article for further information).

The keeping of live sea anemones differs somewhat from fish-keeping.  For further information, please see the following articles on our blog: Unusual Invertebrates for marine Aquariums and Anemone Movement: Common Aquarium Questions .

Further Reading

Please check out the book I’ve written on marine and fresh water aquariums: The Everything Aquarium Book.

You can learn about clownfish natural history here.


Please write in with your questions and comments. 

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

The Electric Catfish – A Unique Species for the Serious Catfish Fancier

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  It takes some doing to stand out among the catfishes, a group that contains some of the most bizarre creatures on earth.  Yet the Electric Catfish (Malapterurus electricus) does this quite admirably.  Indeed, this species is so unique that it and the small mouth electric catfish (M. macrostoma) are alone classified in the family Malapteruridae.

Characteristics and Cautions

The Electric Catfish has a number of qualities that would seem to mitigate against its popularity, but catfish enthusiasts, myself included, seem drawn to “unlovable” beasts.  It is no beauty, and is impossible to house with any species other than its own – tank mates that are not shocked to death are eaten!  Fortunately, it is Electric Catfishimmune to its own unique defense system.

In all seriousness, however, this fish is not for beginners.  It may reach 3 feet in length, and when disturbed emits electrical charges that are, at 400 volts, strong enough to stun adults (the strength of its charges increases with size, but even a 3 inch specimen can make itself felt).  Obviously, it is imperative that children and mentally challenged persons be kept away from electric catfishes.

Natural History

The Electric Catfish inhabits slower-moving portions of the Nile, Niger and other river systems in Central and West Africa.  The small mouth Electric Catfish is confined to the Congo River Basin and rarely appears in the pet trade. 

This species captures its prey, mainly other fishes, by releasing short bursts of electricity.  Electrical impulses are also used for defense, but do not assist in navigation (as is the case for the knife fishes). A unique pectoral muscle that surrounds most of the body generates the electrical discharges.

Pairs form during the breeding season, and the eggs are laid in a self dug or confiscated hole below a sunken log or rock. Little else is known of its reproductive behavior.

Captive Care

Despite, or perhaps because of, their formidable defenses, electric catfishes make most responsive pets. Owners invariably describe them as alert and quick to respond to one’s presence (in such cases, feed but don’t “pet” them!).  They soon abandon their nocturnal ways where food is involved.

Plan for a large, well-covered tank, as these stout fishes may reach 35 inches in length.  They seem to be fish specialists, but will also take all manner of other meaty foods, carnivore pellets, prawn, earthworms, insects, crayfishes and just about any other small animal.  Long term captives rarely discharge electricity during routine tank maintenance, but they should none-the-less be treated with respect and caution.

Captives do best under low light and in moderately soft water at 76-78 F and 6.5-7.5 in pH.  A suitably powerful filtration system is essential, as are regular water changes.  Electric catfishes prefer sluggish waters in the wild, and do not abide strong currents in captivity.  Albinos are sometimes available.

Research Potential

The Electric Catfish is yet another relatively common, hardy fish about which we know very little.  Documenting their breeding behavior would be a most interesting and useful endeavor…please consider it if your resources allow.

A New Exhibit

I recently obtained a nice group of Electric Catfishes and helped set up an exhibit for them in the new African Underwater Adventure display at the Maritime Aquariumin Norwalk, Ct.  Please visit if you have a chance.

Further Reading

You can read more about the Electric Catfish at Fishbase.


Please write in with your questions and comments. 

Thanks, until next time,

 Frank Indiviglio