The Goodeids – Not Your Everyday Livebearers

Hello everyone! Craig here again. Within the hobby there are certain niches that develop for fish keeping. You have your African Cichlid aficionados like Jose, reef geeks like Cory, the discus fanatics, and many others.  Then you have those hobbyists that are into livebearers.  When I say livebearers, I am not just talking about Mickey Mouse Platies or Twinbar Swordtails, but also odd and wonderful livebearers known as Goodeids. Read More »

What to Expect at the 2010 NCPARS/TFP Winter Frag Event

Hello everyone! We are only ten days away from the second annual TFP/NCPARS Winter Frag Event, being held here at our retail store in Lancaster, PA .  On Saturday January 30th our store will be invaded by coral reef enthusiast from all over the northeast, we are looking forward to having a great time, and a great turn out.  Last years event was a blast, everyone had a great time, we think this year will be even better.  The event is open to anyone who wants to attend, there will be an admission charge to enter the frag swap market area, and have access to the special speaker presentations, and Raffles.  Visit Fragswapper.com to pre-register and get more information.  Pre-registration is not required.  Whether your just starting out in the reef hobby or you’ve been collecting for years, you may find something awesome to take home to your tank.  There should be in excess of 1,000 frags available between the swap and TFP’s own stock! Read More »

Seahorse and Pipefish Health – Treating Gaseous Buildup in the Pouch

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. The biggest stumbling block in keeping the fascinating seahorses, pipefishes and seadragons (Family Syngnathidae) is providing them with a balanced diet – all are confirmed live-food specialists, and need a variety of prey items if they are to thrive.  However, once past that hurdle we are sometimes faced with a dilemma unique to these fishes – a buildup of gas in the male’s pouch.

Pouch Malady

Seahorse and their relatives are well known for their unusual reproductive strategy.  Females deposit eggs in the male’s special brood-pouch, where they develop and hatch.  Male seahorses have even been shown to adjust the salinity of the water in the pouch to meet the special needs of the incubating eggs.

For reasons not fully understood, gas sometimes accumulates in the pouches of male seahorses and related fishes.  Animals so afflicted float head down at the surface and soon expire. Read More »

Don’t Just Feed Your Fish, Feed Your Fish Better

Hello, Patty here. Everyone has heard the old saying “you are what you eat” and, when considering your diet, we all know which foods we’re supposed to eat (not that we always do) to keep our bodies happy and live long and healthy lives. The same goes for our pets; even our fish!  Just as we supplement and vary the diets of dogs, cats, and other pets, it is important to vary the foods we give our fish, so that they can develop to their full potential with regards to color and size and so they can get nutrition necessary for breeding, fighting parasites and diseases, and for looking their best for years in your aquarium.

Flake food is a staple

Flake FoodThere is a plethora of foods in the market today for feeding aquarium fish.  Most of the foods aquarists are accustomed to are in flake, pellet or granule form.  These foods are the staple diet most people feed their fish as they are economical, well preserved, easy to store and convenient to feed. They are formulated with ingredients like fish meal, wheat flour, and a laundry list of other ingredients including added colors and vitamins to make up for the natural nutrients lost in the preparation of these foods.  These foods are often sold as complete diets, and will keep fish alive and well-colored, but may ultimately be lacking.  Kind of like one of us eating ramen noodles or some similar packaged food, every meal of every day. 

Fresh is best, Frozen is still better

Frozen FoodSo what do you do if you want to give your fish a diet upgrade?  There are very few fresh or live fish foods available to consumers, but earthworms, blackworms, ghost shrimp and some others can be a nice treat for some fish if you can find them.  A terrific alternative is choosing frozen foods and formulas to  supplement the flake food regimen several times through the week.  These foods are harvested and frozen at the peak of freshness, preserving the naturally occurring vitamins and nutrients.  Many of these foods are (or are very similar to) foods that the fish in your aquarium would seek out in their natural environment.   Today, there are varieties of frozen foods available to suit the needs of just about any type of fish you keep.  These high-quality, high-protein food items increase the vitality and color of your fish, and allow you to see the fish develop and thrive.

Frozen FoodMany of the frozen foods on the market are aimed at marine fish and corals, but not exclusively.  There are brine shrimp, mysis, plankton, baby brine shrimp, clam, mussel, and more which give you lots of options for variety and each with its own benefits.  Baby Brine, for example are very tiny but high in nutrition and ideal for fish fry and filter feeding inverts and corals, while clam, mussel, and squid come in larger pieces for larger fish.  Whole silversides and sand eels are great for groupers, eels and other larger fish with big appetites! 

Freshwater options include bloodworms, glass worms, and beef heart, though mysis shrimp, plankton and brine may also be fed. 

Frozen FoodThere are also several formula foods available, which are combinations of these proteins which may be suspended in a gel with other foods such as spirulina, sponge or other specialty food bits to enhance the diets of specialty feeders like marine angels and omnivores.  Consider the fish you’re keeping and what they might eat on the reef or in the river bed to select what’s best.

Some Things About Frozen Foods

Frozen foods are available for purchase online or in retail stores. Being frozen, these foods are shipped with dry ice to keep them in that state.  The foods must be thawed before feeding, but this is easy as the foods are usually in cube serving form or in thin flat packs that can easily portioned and the appropriate portion snapped off from the body of the pack.  The food portions can be placed in a small vessel of cool water (never warm or hot water as it will cook the food and break down the nutrients) and will be thawed in minutes and ready to feed. You may even choose to soak frozen foods in additional vitamin supplements like garlic extract or Selcon as they thaw to enhance them even more.

Frozen foods may be a bit more expensive and perishable, but the benefits to the food will outweigh the disadvantages.  Give it a try – your fish will love you for it!

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions about feeding frozen foods or feeding fish in general let us know!

Until Next Time,

Patty

News Flash – Mother Nature has a Lasting Effect on Lives and the Aquarium Hobby

Hi everyone, Cory here.  I’ve blogged before on how the weather can effect fish availablilty , but weather conditions aren’t Mother Nature’s only tools. Sadly, the disaster unfolding in Haiti will effect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people long after the next few weeks as the world gathers to assist the injured and displaced denizens of that beautiful island nation.  Our thoughtss and prayers are with the victims and their families.

As aquarists, you may likely feel some small ripples of the tragedy.  You may see changes in prices and availability of Carribean invertebrates and fish. With a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hitting the capital city of Port-au-Prince, where a majority of the livestock is housed and shipped, the market may be in for some changes in the next few weeks.  Haiti is an excellent source for Scarlet and Blue leg hermit crabs, Gorgonians, Ricordea, and countless other fish commonly seen in the aquarium trade. With restrictions on collection in Florida, there will no doubt be noticeable change in the coming weeks. There are collection stations through out the Caribbean such as Belize. The problem is shipping and the cost of collecting the organisms, the further away from the US, the more it is going to cost.

The bread and butter invertebrates such as Arrow Crabs, Banded Coral Shrimp, and Peppermint Shrimp will most likely be affected as well. During the summer and fall, hurricanes and tropical storms can lead to 1 or 2 weeks of no collection, which hits the aquarium trade very quickly. No one knows right now what the extent of the damage is in Haiti, but the toll is projected to be devastating. Until we know how much the main infrastructure has been disabled, we may be talking weeks to months of no collection. So keep an eye on the news and if you are interested in something from the Caribbean, you might want to get it now, in case the availability decreases as expected.

On the freshwater side, the frigid temps blanketing Florida may also cause some extended issues with tropical freshwater fish.  The media has been covering the devastating effects of the freezing temperatures on the tropical fish farms based there.  Millions of domestically raised fish, hundreds of species, that are shipped to retailers across the nation have perished during the cold snap.  The toll of this event will be unknown for weeks, even as the temperatures rise again.  Fish not killed by the plummeting water temperatures or devoured by predators as they lay paralyzed from the cold will have to recover from the shock and disease that may have set upon them in their weakened states. From guppies to cichlids, stocks have been impacted. Just a heads up, as you may see some empty tanks in the coming weeks until farmers can replenish stocks and recover from the poor circumstances.

You can read more about the fish farms here.