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

Holiday Gift Ideas for Aquarium Hobbyists

254062Sometimes shopping for that special someone can be rough, especially if your special someone’s favorite past time is aquarium keeping. You may not know what they already have or what they need, or what they use on a regular basis. Here are a few suggestions sure to please the budding fish lovers or seasoned aquarium keepers of the family.

Let’s get the obvious choice out of the way. You could play it safe with a TFP gift card. Purchase the card for any amount and allow the recipient to spend at his or her leisure.

Maybe you have a child that has expressed an interest in keeping fish, or you have a friend who may not have the time for a real tank, but would enjoy a low maintenance pet. A betta set-up may be the perfect gift solution! With several new and attractive bowl habitats available, setup is quick, easy, and fun.  The Tetra Waterfall Globe is an excellent option, and it includes simple filtration and LED lighting. Elive Betta Bowl Planters are unique setups that combine betta enclosures with live plants!  Top off the gift by taking the recipient out to pick out a beautiful, easy to care for betta and maybe some decor to adorn their new bowl.

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Selecting Fish Suitable for Small Saltwater Aquariums

Solor WrasseThe Marine Bio Staff at That Fish Place gets a lot of questions regarding fish husbandry (what can I put in my tank and will it get along with…), especially as technology is advancing and smaller aquariums are becoming easier and easier to maintain. Freshwater options tend to be much easier – small schooling fish like tetras, danios, guppies and others have been aquarium staples for ages – but smaller saltwater tanks can be much trickier to populate. Aside from the tempting beauty of many larger or more aggressive fish, even smaller fish from the coral reefs have more territorial personalities than their freshwater counterparts. Many popular fish either grow far too large, aggressive or territorial for the smaller aquariums that are becoming very popular.

So what fish should you look for? Here are some suggestions for smaller aquariums (30 gallons and under for the purpose of this blog). Keep in mind that these are general recommendations and guidelines; not all the fish in these groups are appropriate for smaller tanks, so if you find one you like, make sure it’s still compatible for your situation. Read More »

Dangers of Ciguatera Poisoning

Moray Eel“This fish has been known to cause ciguatera poisoning.”

Have you ever seen this warning on books, magazines or other media? It can apply to a few hundred tropical and subtropical reef fish (possibly over 400 according to some references) including some very popular aquarium species. You may even have some of these fish in your aquarium right now.

If you have no idea what ciguatera poisoning is, you aren’t alone. Even some TFP employees that I mentioned this blog topic to had no idea what “ciguatera poisoning” was even though they have seen the term before and we deal with these fish every day. Is it something that, as aquarists, should be worried about? No….and yes. Ciguatera poisoning is food-borne. As long as you don’t make a regular habit of eating fish from your aquarium, you aren’t going to contract it at home. But, if you eat fish regularly, it may a concern and certainly deserves more awareness than it is given. Read More »

Aquariums in Classrooms as Educational Tools

Crayfish in aquariumSchool isn’t always the most stimulating place for kids to be all day, but as I remember, there were some things that made long days much more interesting and bearable. Visual aids and interactive tools, to me anyway, could reinvigorate my zest for learning. The most interesting and anticipated place in my school was the science wing. Those rooms were always full of the most interesting things to look at–specimen jars filled with preserved animals, reassembled skeletons, and of course, live displays. Having tools like these in the classroom for hands-on experience and to break the monotony of repetitive days is something that, for some students, may instill more passion, curiosity and interest to increase their scholastic performance.

With a little money, know-how and effort, simple aquarium set-ups in a school or classroom can become invaluable tools as well as enhancing the sometimes sterile aesthetic.

Benefits of Institutional Displays

The most obvious benefit of having live displays in classrooms is the offering of “hands-on” education.  It can be any kind of set-up…freshwater, saltwater or reef, or even a reptile, amphibian habitat. Each unique set-up can provide relevant topics and visual aids for biology, anatomy, chemistry, ecology and physics courses. Not every kid in the class may have the opportunity or means to see aquariums up close. You can provide a platform for such students to “see” the nitrogen cycle in action, witness the process and stages of fish reproduction an development, or maybe chronicle predator/prey, symbiotic, or other co-habitation relationships between the organisms in the display.  And that’s only the beginning!

These live and variable habitats can be great for developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. What caused a fish to spawn? Why do fish school together? Why did a fish get sick or die when the others seem healthy?

Aquariums can be beneficial in non-educational ways to students and faculty as well. Peering into the serene aquatic environment can ease stress and calm spectators. Tests, deadlines and other pressure points can influence a child’s ability to focus…an aquarium can help to alleviate this tension for some.  This is one reason why you often find aquariums in dental and medical offices. too.

Aesthetically, a well-maintained aquarium can enhance any environment. Whether in an individual classroom or a lobby or hallway, any live habitat is sure to draw attention and smiles. Worried about the responsibility of keeping the tank maintained?  Why not consider an extra-curricular club or group to help with the work?  Interested students or other faculty members can gain even more experience for an hour or so a week. Water changes, filter maintenance and other duties don’t have to be work, they can be continuing education!  

More Than Just Science

Colostethus panamensis in AquariumAquariums and other live displays are of value to more than biology and chemistry. These set-ups can be inspiring! Think of applications other educators can use–reading/research and writing topics on aquariums can be endless, encouraging good writing, grammar, and research skills. Factual reports and journals aside, a nice aquarium set-up and some colorful fish can inspire kids of any age to create art and creative writing stories, too. They can even be tools for math, applying formulas to find out volume, dosing amounts of supplements or medications, and much more. Imagine the classroom discussions and problem solving skills that can be developed using such a tool…the possibilities are endless.

Getting Started

A classroom set-up may seem intimidating or overwhelming to a teacher who has never had experience with aquariums or animals before, but it doesn’t have to be. You’ll just need some basic essentials and a basic knowledge of what to expect to get started. There are even kits available that are almost out-of-the-box ready. Pet store staffers and hobbyist forums can help you with any questions or problems you may run into. Habitat kits are also available for reptiles and small animals which can also be great additions to a teaching curriculum.

Continuing Education at Home

Freshwater AquariumRemember when it was your turn to bring the class pet home for the weekend?  Whether or not you personally had that opportunity or you know a child who has, you can recall the excitement of the experience. It may have been one of the things that got you into the aquarium hobby to begin with. Maintaining aquariums and other live animal habitats provide kids of any age not only with practical education, but it also helps them to develop a sense of responsibility and pride. Parents may find that an aquarium is a great way to keep kids motivated and interested in learning while also increasing emotional bonds, and maybe even life experience to some degree, over a common activity or project.

Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be complicated.  A betta bowl, a hamster…something small and easy to care for. Plant the seed early, nurture it, and chances are the interest will grow as the child does, along with the thirst to know more.  If you can’t do it at home, encourage your child’s teachers or contribute funds and materials towards live displays in your local school for this year and generations to come.

 

 

Frog in Aquarium image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Brian Gratwicke

The Hawkfish – Genus Cirrhitichthys

Falco’s HawkfishThe genus Cirrhitichthys is the largest group of hawkfish represented by 8 different species. The name Cirrhitichthys comes from the Latin “cirrhi”, or “cirri”, meaning filament or fringe, and “ichthys” which simply means fish. As their name suggests, the fish in this genus are distinguished from other hawkfish by the filamentous tufts on the end of their dorsal spines.

Cirrhitichthys, like all other hawkfish, are protogynous hermaphrodites. That means all hawkfish are born as females, but rely on environmental triggers to incite one female to become a dominant male. They are typically found perching high up on corals, watching below for small crabs and shrimp which they swoop in to eat, much like a predatory hawk. The fish prop themselves up with their large, skinless pectoral fins. Because these fins are skinless, they do not feel the sting of the corals they perch upon, so a coral colony can offer protection to these smaller fish.  Hawkfish are generally quite active during the day, hopping from one perch to another in search of food. They are generally hardy and disease free. They should be offered meaty foods such as mysis shrimp and squid, but their greedy nature will lead them to snatch up pellets, flakes and pretty much anything else you offer. Just like any fish, variation in their diet and vitamin supplements will help to maintain health and coloration. Read More »