Living On the Edge – New Fluval Edge Aquariums

Living in the Edge is actually more like it, with Hagen’s new aquarium the Fluval Edge.  Unlike many of the other new nano or desktop aquariums that have come out in the last few years, the Edge is something different.  Difficult to describe, and easy on the eyes, this cool little 6 gallon aquarium gives the small aquarium a twist in design.Fluval Edge

The tank is made of glass, and is filtered by Hagen’s proven Aquaclear filter technology.  The unique design of the aquarium has it “hanging”out in space around its base and top.  The top conceals an access opening for cleaning, feeding, and filter access.  It looks like it jumped out of a sketch book of Frank Lloyd Wright designs.  The Edge comes in 3 colors so that you can fit it in with whatever your décor or taste may be.  Check it out, I think you will find it really interesting.

We couldn’t resist setting one of these little wonders up on display, if you visit the store find the display on the info desk on the sales floor.

Thanks, Until the next blog,

Dave

Collecting Plankton for Marine and Freshwater Fishes and Invertebrates

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Plankton forms the base of the food chains in all the world’s fresh and marine waters. Comprised of innumerable species of tiny, often microscopic plants and animals, plankton is a very useful but overlooked food source for tiny fish fry, filter-feeding invertebrates and seahorses, pipefishes and other small live food specialists.

Collecting Plankton

Marine waters are undoubtedly the best sources of plankton for seahorses and such creatures, but do not hesitate to try fresh Plankton Collage water plankton as well. Just bear in mind that fresh water creatures will perish rapidly in salt water, so don’t overload your tank.

Available through biological supply houses, plankton nets are the most effective means of harvesting this valuable food. Don’t forget to examine your catch with a hand lens or microscope – you won’t believe your eyes!

Using Plankton

When rearing Atlantic seahorse fry at the Staten Island Zoo, I often towed a plankton net behind a boat and by hand from a dock. My efforts were rewarded with an amorphous glob of “organic material”, but the seahorses sure knew what to do with it!  Their reactions were much more vigorous than when presented with their standard meal of brine shrimp, and they grew rapidly.  I have also noticed that northern pipefishes immediately begin feeding when fresh seawater is added to their aquarium…I usually cannot see anything that looks like food, but they do!

I consider plankton to be nearly indispensible for seahorse and pipefish fry, and for adult dwarf seahorses and similar species. But nearly all small fishes and invertebrates, including fresh water species, will eagerly accept plankton as well.  Its use will greatly improve your chances of success with a number of delicate organisms.

Useful Products

Fortunately, “plankton substitutes” are available for those unable to collect their own. “Reef Bugs” are living microbes that are eagerly accepted by corals and other invertebrates. A wide range of other foods for filter feeding invertebrates helps simplify the keeping of these fascinating creatures.

Newly hatched brine shrimp, while not a complete diet for seahorses and pipe fishes, may be nutritionally improved through the use of Artemia food.

Further Reading

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has posted an interesting article on plankton collecting here.

Please write in with your questions and comments.

Thanks, until next time,
 
Frank Indiviglio
 

Plankton Collage image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Magnus Manske.

 

 

MACNA XXI Recap

Well, MACNA XXI is in the rearview mirror, along with all the traffic on the Atlantic City expressway.  This years MACNA was number six for both myself and That Fish Place, and I must give my complements to the New Jersey Reefers Club and MASNA for a very well organized and well run show.  What a great bunch of folks, I lost count of how many times someone from the club stopped me to make sure we did not need anything, or just to ask how things were going.

I would also like to thank all the attendees that stopped by our booth.  It is great to meet people who know us as a mail order company, but never get to meet us, or visit our retail store.  Lots of familiar faces as well, we really enjoy the interaction at events such as this.

With the venue in Atlantic City this year, we (along with several other vendors) put an element of gambling into our booth with a Plinko game.  Wow, was that a popular idea! We even had other vendors coming over to play.  We had some great prizes to win in the game, everyone won something, it was a lot of fun.  We had some special T-Shirts made up for the show, they were by far the most popular prize in the game, I think that you will see them make an appearance in our store in the near future.

One of the things that the New Jersey Reefers did with this particular show was set the workshop demonstrations up in multiple locations within the exhibit hall, a great idea.  With the video system they used, it allowed far more people to see the Demos.  Especially for the folks who only attended the show for one day, I think that it let them get more done in a short period of time than at past shows.   They had three demo areas running at once, for an hour each.  Each demo lasted 15 minutes, then repeated, this allowed you to see all three demos within the hour, without having to move from room to room.   I sat in on a couple of the demonstrations, one by Justin Credabel (great name, I think I need a new one) and Kelly Jedlicki, both were very interesting, short, and too the point.  I will post a follow up blog about the topics that they discussed.

The speaker hall was in a nice sized room, a short walk from the exhibit hall, and again very well organized with video systems so that no matter where you were sitting, you had a good view of what was going on with video screens and monitors throughout the hall.  Unfortunately, time did not allow me to get away from the exhibit hall to see most of the speakers, but Cory and I did get a chance to see a few. We will also post some blogs about the topics of discussion in the near future.

We had a great time at the show, and from what we saw, so did most everyone else.  For those of you who have never attended a MACNA show, I would very much encourage you to do so.  There is so much to see and do, and everyone is there to have a good time.  Hopefully, we will see you in Orlando next year for MACNA XXII.

Dave

Cold Water Aquarium Fishes – The Fifteen Spine or Sea Stickleback

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Sticklebacks hold a special place in fish-keeping history – their fascinating breeding habits are credited with inspiring the development of the aquarium hobby in Europe in the 1700s.  The Sea Stickleback (Spinachia spinachia) is one of the group’s few marine representatives, and a good candidate for one of the most fascinating fish breeding experiences imaginable.

The Sea Stickleback is native to the cool waters of the Northeastern Atlantic Ocean, along the coast of Northwestern Europe.  One of the larger sticklebacks, it attains a length of 8 inches or so and is quite hardy in the aquarium. It stays along the coast, rarely straying into depths exceeding 15 feet.

Underwater “Bird Nests”

Male sticklebacks construct tiny nests consisting of plant material held together by secretions from the kidneys.  Clad in vibrant breeding colors (sea sticklebacks sport bronze and silvery bars and silver-yellow abdomens) they then display for the females, who lay their eggs within the nests.  Females have been shown to preferentially choose water Ninespine sticklebackflowing from nests of unmated males, even when kept out of sight of the nests.

The brooding male guards the nest from any and all intruders, exhibiting aggressiveness that is far out of proportion to their size.  I once observed a male three spine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) chase off a cunner that outweighed him a hundred fold.

Diet

In common with their relatives the seahorses, sticklebacks prefer live foods such as brine shrimp, blackworms, Mysids and Daphnia.  I’ve had some individuals take frozen foods, but such is by no means a certainty for all. I’ve found that sticklebacks seem to require quite comparatively large amounts of food, and lose condition rapidly if not fed adequately. 

Sticklebacks are fairly slow feeders, and will be out-competed by active species.  They are also quite pugnacious and prone to “fin nipping” their less agile neighbors.  Marine species get along well with spider and hermit crabs, small puffers and sea stars. 

Spawning Sticklebacks in the Aquarium

We are indeed fortunate that such unusual fishes are rather easy to breed…watching them do so is a treat rarely afforded those who study marine fish.  Although quite territorial, small groups will co-exist if enough nest sites are available.  Be sure to provide widely spaced groups of sticks and plants so that nesting pairs may have the privacy they require. 

Several species will come into breeding condition if their water temperatures are allowed to fluctuate with the seasons, i.e. by keeping them in an unheated tank in a room that experiences seasonal temperature variations.  You should also seek to provide a light cycle tuned to that they experience in nature.  

Native Sticklebacks

Unfortunately, like many temperate species, Sticklebacks get very little attention from aquarists these days. 

Sea SticklebackThe Sea Stickleback is not readily available in the USA, but a number of other species can be collected here and kept in a similar manner.  I have had good luck in breeding the Three-spine Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in a densely planted marine aquarium.  This species is usually described as a brackish water fish, but those I collected from the Great South Bay on Long Island, NY thrived under typical marine aquarium conditions.

Further Reading

An informative account of stickleback collecting and breeding is posted at www.glaucus.org.uk.

 

Please write in with your questions and comments. 

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio.

Ninespine Stickleback image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Dryke.
Sea stickleback image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Visviva.
 

Spawning Corydoras Catfishes

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Among the 150+ species of catfish classified in the genus Corydoras, all native to Central and South America, we find some of the most beloved of all aquarium fishes. Yet despite their willingness to breed in captivity, not many aquarists make the effort. As we will see, however, the droll cory cats employ one of the fish world’s most unusual breeding strategies…they are definitely worth a closer look!

Startling Reproductive Behavior

Female cory cats are larger than males, and their body has a thicker, more rounded appearance. In some species, the male’s dorsal fin is thinner and higher than the female’s and is held in a noticeably more erect position.

Bronze CoryCorys may breed in either pair or group situations. Males chase gravid females, with the pair eventually lying motionless and perpendicular to one another (this is known to aquarists as the ‘T-Position”). The male lies on his side, and, amazingly, the female then uses her mouth to withdraw sperm from his vent.

Fertilization – Internal or External?

How fertilization actually occurs is still open to some discussion. Most ichthyologists believe that the sperm exits the female’s gills, and is shunted to a unique cup that she forms with her pelvic fins.

Upon obtaining the sperm, the female lays 1-5 eggs into this cup. She then moves off to a pre-cleaned site, usually a plant or the aquarium glass, where she glues each egg individually. She repeats this process with the same or another male until her clutch of 10-25 eggs is laid, an ordeal that may last 3-6 hours.

Some researchers have suggested that the sperm passes through the female’s digestive tract, to be released along with the eggs, or that the female expels the retained sperm upon the eggs. In any event, a most extraordinary means of fertilization…why such a strategy would evolve has not, to my knowledge, been explained.

Breeding Corydoras

While Corydoras cats may spawn spontaneously, the most consistent results will be obtained if cool, highly oxygenated water is added to the aquarium, simulating the drop in temperature and rise in water levels that accompanies the start of the rainy season in most Corydoras habitat. Dropping the aquarium’s water level beforehand may also help.

While various species differ in their requirements, the formula that I have used for bronze corys (C. aeneus) seems to work well in general. After dropping the water level for 2-3 weeks and maintaining it at 76 F, I add water of 60 F in an amount equal to 1/3 the volume of the tank.

Caring for Eggs and Fry

The eggs can be left in place and the adults removed (some are egg predators), or they can be carefully transferred to a rearing aquarium (they are fairly large and sticky for a day or so after deposition).

The fry should be housed in shallow water (3-4 inches) at first, as constantly rising to the surface for air will weaken them significantly.

Cory cats are, despite their “scavenger” reputation, highly specialized predators on tiny invertebrates. Their fry are best reared on live blackworms, brine shrimp and Daphnia, with animal-based flakes and pellets being added as they grow.

Plan to be in it for the long haul…a bronze cory in my collection is nearing 21 years of age!

Further Reading

Panda CoryPeru’s popular panda cory (Corydoras panda), described in 1969, favors cool, fast moving streams. To read more, please see

http://www.redorbit.com/education/reference_library/fish/panda_corydoras/2190/index.html.

Please write in with your questions and comments. Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.