Passionate About Pisces – Deciding Which Fish are Compatible with your Lifestyle

Sargassum TriggerWhether you consider yourself a fish person or not, it may be easy to be enticed into the aquarium hobby when you see the array of beautiful fish and aquariums available for today’s enthusiast. But setting up an aquarium isn’t something to make an impulsive decision about, especially if you’re not experienced. There are several aspects to consider if you want to do it and be successful. 

So what do you think about first, the tank or the fish? These are obviously both important considerations.

Before you even think about the kind of fish you’d like, it may be best to consider what you have the space and time for. If you rent, first find out if you are permitted to keep a larger aquarium or an aquarium of any size for that matter in your space. If you’re living in a tiny apartment, you may not want to allocate a big chunk of your living area to a bulky aquarium and all of the equipment that comes along with the set-up. If you determine that you have the perfect space for a tank to occupy you can look into the shape and size you might want to keep.

Time is another consideration. Successful aquariums require time for regular maintenance and care, and they are meant to be looked at and enjoyed, so you may not get as much out of the investment if you travel a lot or are constantly on the go. While fish can be lower maintenance than other pets, they will still need to be fed and the water quality will need to be monitored with routine water changes performed when necessary.

Tiger OscarYour budget should also play a big role in the decision. How much do you want to spend and how much can you afford to spend? An aquarium and all the equipment to go along with it can be a big financial investment. Once you’re set up is up and running you also have to consider the cost of the inhabitants, food and other supplies that will be needed over time such as new light bulbs for the hood, new filter media and cartridges, water treatments/supplements that you may need for the livestock you keep. It’s a good idea to calculate these costs ahead of time so you have an idea what you might spend, say for the first year, just on the basics.

Once you’ve considered all of these things and you’re ready to purchase your tank, it’s time to research what fish or inverts you want to put into it, their behaviors, and their requirements in a tank. Visit local fish stores or browse online suppliers to see what’s available and what they require as far as space and care. You may be drawn to saltwater fish or African Cichlids, but is your tank big enough to support the fish you like once they reach mature size? Will territorial fish have the space they need? You may want a colorful reef, but can you afford the lighting, salt, live rock and other supplies necessary to support the corals you adore? Before you make the final decision on your investment be sure you’re prepared to provide an ideal environment for the fish you love.

The type of fish you choose may be influenced by your personality. Casual keepers may choose goldfish or assorted tropicals like tetras, barbs and rainbows to form an active, colorful community. More dedicated individuals may choose to keep uncommon species or those known for unique behaviors to observe and breed or a complex reef teeming with fish and invertebrates. Once you dive into the aquarium hobby there are so many paths to take! Talk to other hobbyists so you know what you’ll need and what you can expect, you may find eventually find yourself with multiple aquariums, like may hobbyists do.

If you’re ready to start, but you’re not ready for a big leap, consider a betta in a bowl or another small set up to start with. A small tank can give you a little experience and help you to develop the habits you’ll need when you’re ready to go bigger.  

 
Sargassum Triggerfish image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Cliff

Maintaining Aquarium Temperatures for Fish Health

Cichlid with ichMaintaining proper aquarium temperatures is essential for the health and well-being of your fish. While aquarium heaters do a pretty good job at this, the probability of fluctuations from fall through spring tends to be greater and possibly more detrimental. You may not even realize how much the temperature of the water changes through the day or day-to-day until you’re faced with ich or some other problem in your aquarium.

The Threat of Cool Temperatures

While our aquarium fish will rarely if ever be exposed to near or below freezing temperatures in the safety of your home (hopefully), fish farmers in Florida can attest to the immediate and lingering problems that can come with even short exposure to cold temps. Exposure to temps below 60 F can create chaos in a tropical tank, so you can imagine what freezing temps do to tropical fish housed in an outdoor setting. Sensitive fish may be killed outright from the shock of extreme temperatures or fluctuations in temperatures. Others face blows to their immune systems and the increased chance of being infected by opportunistic parasites, fungi or bacteria. These organisms take advantage at the slightest sign of stress on the part of tropical fish, and can decimate the population in a short amount of time. Cooler temperatures tend to make normally active fish lethargic and slower to react, making them more open to predation if outdoors. Similar problems can occur in the aquarium if smaller or more sensitive fish are not able to hide or escape the curiosity of larger, hardier tankmates.  Read More »

Predatory Pacu in Papua New Guinea?

PacuA few days ago, I came across a curious story in the aquatic news feed regarding fatalities of local swimmers/fishermen in Papua New Guinea. Though the reported fatalities occurred in 2001, the unusual events drew famous monster fish angler Jeremy Wade to Oceania to investigate and nab one of the possible culprits.

There were apparently two fatalities in 2001 during which the two men had their genitalia bitten off as they pursued their aquatic activities. Both bled to death (these were two seperate occasions) after being bitten by a mysterious, human-like predator in a remote area. As it turns out, the culprit was a large Red-bellied Pacu. Read More »

Catfish From the Rift Lakes

We all know how colorful African Cichlids are, but did you know that there are also other fish in the rift lakes like catfish, crabs, eels? We are going to talk about some cats this time around. I have kept plecos with most of my African Cichlids and most other people do too, but fish like the “Cuckoo Cat” and the Petricola are more adapted to these kinds of tanks. Although they won’t eat algae, they will feast on flakes, pellets or any other frozen food that you may feed your cichlids. Below I’ve listed just a few of the species that are found in the rift lakes, and some may not be found in pet shops.

Lake Tanganyika

Claroteidae – there are at least 62 species in this family, but we will talk about a few that have been bred in the aquarium and may also be found in pet shops. Read More »

Marimo – the Tale of Mysterious “Moss Ball” Colonies

Marimo FormationsA few years ago our plant suppliers introduced new items for sale that were just too fun and interesting to pass up. They were simply called moss balls. If ever there was an aquarium plant with personality, this would be it. They have a certain character, and can almost become like a pet in the aquarium even if they aren’t dazzlingly colored or active like the fish we keep. The vague nomenclature was accurate enough, but the story of where and how these mysterious moss balls come to be is as interesting as they are to look at when you place them in your aquarium.

Marimo, Japanese for “ball seaweed”, were named by a Japanese botanist decades after they were originally described by someone else in Austria around 1820. They originated in shallow areas of a few freshwater lakes in the world including several in Japan, Iceland, Scotland and others. In the trade they are referred to as moss balls or Japanese moss balls, but they also have several other names given by those who encounter them in their native waters. The name seems fitting…each ball has a velvety, thick, fuzzy texture much like a mound of filamented moss. However, moss balls aren’t really moss at all. These unique formations are actually colonies of the filamentous algae Aegagropila. They were previously classified as Cladophora aegagropila, but modern research proved that they actually belong in genus Aegagropila. Don’t let their classification as algae scare you, this is a fun, non-invasive kind! Read More »