LED Lighting for the Home Aquarium

Marineland LED Plant SystemOver the last few years the aquarium hobby has seen a major shift in aquarium lighting, LED lighting is in, and traditional lighting is being replaced. This change has been most noticed in high output lighting sources, like Metal Halide and High Output Fluorescent lighting, where the cost of operation, frequent bulb replacement and high heat emission made consumers eager for an alternative.  As a result, the hobby has been flooded with high output, feature rich, LED lighting fixtures for marine aquariums mostly focusing on the demands of reef aquariums and corals. These fixtures are much more affordable than the first generation.

Until recently, the freshwater side of the hobby has seen little attention from most lighting manufacturers, with what little was offered having few features and poor performance, but this is all starting to change. With advancements in LED technology and performance, some of the bigger aquarium lighting manufacturers are shifting their focus to LED over traditional lighting sources. Freshwater aquarium hobbyists are starting to see some cool new lights for their aquariums, with advanced features, high performance and affordability. Read More »

The Freshwater African Butterfly Fish – Care, Breeding, Behavior

 In habits, appearance, and evolutionary history, the African Butterfly Fish, Pantodon buchholzi, is one of the most unusual of all aquarium species.  Yet despite having been in the trade for over 100 years, this “freshwater flying fish” (a misnomer, see below) gets little attention.  Captive breeding is challenging but possible, and its fantastic hunting behaviors are thrilling to observe.  I helped to set up an African Butterfly Fish exhibit at the Bronx Zoo, and was not at all surprised when it became a great favorite.  Most of the visitors I spoke with were astonished to learn that such an “exotic” creature, worthy of a large zoo exhibit, was available at many pet stores! 

Description

The yellowish-green to silvery-tan body is marked with an intricate pattern of speckles and lines.  The huge pectoral fins, reminiscent of those of marine flying fishes, lend an uncanny resemblance to a dead, floating leaf when viewed from above.  Long rays extending from the tail and the pelvic fin add to its remarkable camouflage.

FW Butterfly Fish

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Toniher

The African Butterfly Fish’s mouth is noticeably upturned, an adaptation for feeding on insects at and above the water’s surface.  Less noticeable is the mouth’s large size and the many teeth it bears; although it tops out at 5 ½ inches, this specialized predator can take quite sizable insects and fishes.

Utilizing its wing-like pectoral fins and unique musculature, the African Butterfly Fish can explode from the water’s surface to snatch low-flying dragonflies, moths and other insects, and to escape predators.  It does not, as far as we know, glide above the water as do marine Flying Fishes (please see photo). Read More »

Choosing a Pond Pump for your Pond or Water Feature

Ornamental Pond Backyard pond projects can be rewarding if you give plenty of consideration to design and equipment from the start. To build your dream pond or water feature, one of the biggest and most important investments will be the pump, which will bring your display to life. It is important to invest in the right pond pump for your pond or water feature to ensure that the flow rate is appropriate for your design. If you’re planning on including any type of vertical feature like a waterfall in your plan, be sure you are prepared to add a pump powerful enough to make strong flow for the best impact.

Types of Pumps

Submersible Pumps are designed to operate completely submerged in your pond, and need a constant flow of water while running to keep them from overheating. Many submersible pond pumps include integrated pre-filters or filtration systems, and possibly pond fountain systems.  Submersible pond pumps are very easy to install, however they must be retrieved from the pond to perform maintenance. These pumps are easily concealed on the bottom of the pond, and they won’t disrupt your outdoor activities with unwanted noise or look visually unappealing against your natural display.  Debris handling waterfall pumps are designed for large ponds and for supplying water to vertical features including streams and waterfalls. Unique designs allow these pumps pump at high flow rates and to allow small debris to pass through without damaging internal parts. Read More »

Algae Control in Ponds and Water Gardens

Free Floating AlgaeWhat fun is a pond with pea-green water or masses of stringy gunk growing from every submerged surface? You work so hard to keep your pond clean, clear and looking good, but even with the best efforts, algae can appear in a flash, a stringy, slimy eyesore, mucking up the view. Most algae outbreaks can be quelled by addressing water chemistry (nutrient) issues or finding a way to control the amount of light that penetrates the water’s surface.

Getting to the proverbial root of the problem is the best solution, but there are also numerous algae control products on today’s market to help you rid your pond of that unsightly green invader, at least temporarily. While we generally recommend algaecides as a last resort, when you reach that point it’s important to use them correctly to ensure the safety of fish, plants and other inhabitants of your pond.

 

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Algae blooms are generally the result of either too much sun exposure or too many nutrients available in the water for the algae to feed on. If your pond is exposed to full sun for the majority of the day or when it is strongest, alga take advantage. You can provide shade using floating and marginal plants which provide cover for fish and other pond inhabitants, as well as aiding in nutrient control. Desirable flora like floating lettuce, hyacinth and duckweed will compete for dissolved nutrients and provide the shade you need while also serving as a food source and shelter for fry that may be produced by koi and goldfish. Read More »

The Best Foods for Freshwater Aquarium Fish – Canned Freshwater Shrimp and Invertebrates

Shrimp of various species play an important role in the natural diets of many freshwater fishes, and the nutrients they supply differ from those found in insects and other more commonly-used aquarium foods.  Many native and exotic fishes under my care at home and in zoos prefer shrimp to all else, and do well when they are added to the diet.  And while ocean krill (not a true shrimp) is readily available, I wonder about the long range effects of feeding a marine animal to freshwater fishes.

tp53048Unfortunately, freshwater shrimps are difficult for the average aquarist to procure. I was, therefore, pleased when Zoo Med began offering canned freshwater shrimp.  Although marketed as a reptile food, I have fed canned shrimp and find them to be some of the best foods for freshwater aquarium fish, showing great results.  But I’ve been remiss in spreading the word among my hobbyist friends…if you decide to give them a try, please post your thoughts below, thanks.

An Important Consideration                                                                         

Small, whole animals are used in Zoo Med’s canned freshwater shrimp product.  This is preferable to offering our fishes small pieces of food market marine shrimp, which are usually missing nutritionally valuable internal organs (note: food grade shrimp are fine to use on occasion). Read More »