Customer Service Update – Regular Koralia Circulation Pumps not for use as Wavemakers

Our customer service department here at That Fish Place/That Pet Place constantly gets calls and questions about products, and from time to time, we like to share some of the most frequent with our readers.

Question: Can I plug up my Hydor Koralia Aquarium Circulation Pump to my wavemaker?

Answer: Yes and No. The original Koralia Circulation Pumps , as well as the Magnum variety, are not designed for use with a wavemaker of any kind. The variable input required for such a function is simply not compatible with their design, and usage as such will ruin the manufacturer warranty (not to mention ruin the pump).

On the other hand, Hydor has created a series of Controllable Koralia wave pumps and controllers for just this purpose. Though the controllers are only compatible with controllable Koralias, they’re still the buy you want if you’re looking for the wavemaking feature over just a circulation pump.

Please let us know if you have any product questions or fish questions: we’re always here to help!

Treating Ich in the Home Aquarium

Melissa here.

So, you have figured out by the white spots and scratching that your fish have ich. Now what? Depending on the fish there are different treatments available including Copper, Quick Cure, Kick Ich, and Kent RxP to name a few. There are also other methods besides using chemicals like increasing the temperature and decreasing specific gravity. To figure out what direction to start treating it all depends on what is in the tank and what the water quality is. If the water quality is poor (high levels of ammonia or nitrite) then medications are pretty much useless and will cause more harm than good.

For tetras and other scaleless fish such as catfish, loaches, elephant nose, I usually recommend increasing the temperature and use a product called Quick Cure. The active ingredients in quick cure are malachite green and formalin. Make sure you follow the directions and only use a half dose. When at all possible this treatment should be added to a quarantine tank only.

For other community fish such as mollies, platys, swordtails, rainbows, gouramis, and cichlids I also recommend using quick cure. You can do the full dose with these fish. Copper can also be used but must be used with extreme caution. Copper must be monitored because there is a fine line between killing the parasite and killing the fish being treated. These medications should only be used in a quarantine tank. Medications will kill plants and inverts such as snails and shrimp.

For saltwater fish, again, Quick Cure is my medication of choice if used in a quarantine tank with no inverts. Copper can also be used but some fish are very sensitive to it. Increasing the temperature a few degrees and decreasing the specific gravity to 1.019 over the period of a few days can help speed up the life cycle making the medication more effective.

For a saltwater reef tank or a fish only tank with inverts you can give Kick Ich a try. The active ingredient is 5-nitroimidazoles. This should only be done as a last resort if the fish cannot be taken out of the main tank. I have gotten back mixed results with using this product though. Some people say it works great while others say it did nothing. I am assuming that if it is caught early enough and the fish only have a few spots then the medication is effective and is enough to boost the fish’s immune system enough to fight it off and make a full recovery. However, if the fish is covered with ich the medication is just not strong enough to save the fish. Another product out there is Kent RxP. The active ingredients in this product are Deionized water, natural plant extracts, pepper, stabilized vitamin c, stabilizers.

To prevent ich from entering your main tank it is advised to quarantine all new fish for at least a month. If in that period of time your fish develops some kind of illness it should be treated accordingly and the time clock should start over. Once the fish has been symptom free for a month you can be fairly sure you are not going to introduce a disease into your display tank.

Feel free to email us with any ich questions you may have!

An Aquarist’s Glossary of Terms – Part 3

Eileen here. Below is a glossary of some general aquarium hobby terms. Once complete, we’ll try and publish the Aquarist’s Glossary of Term’s somewhere online, but in the meantime, hopefully it helps in pieces. Check out part 1 and part 2 here.

General Aquarium Hobby Terms:

  • Compatibility: This refers to how well tankmates are likely to get along. For example, Neon Tetras are compatible with Zebra Danios – they would be fine together in a tank. A ten inch Peacock Grouper however, would NOT be compatible with a one inch Skunk Cleaner Shrimp – the shrimp would likely end up a meal pretty fast.
  • Coral “Frag”: A “frag” is a small piece or colony of coral, often mounted on a small artificial plug. Frags have become very popular in recent years as an inexpensive and environmental way of trading and acquiring smaller pieces of the large and sometimes rare or expensive coral colonies available in the hobby.
  • Filtration: There are three main types of filtration used in the aquarium trade – chemical, mechanical and biological. Chemical filtration uses materials like carbon or resins to remove or neutralize chemical compounds on the water. Mechanical filtration physically removes debris and waste using mesh, sponges or other materials. Biological filtration uses bacteria, plants or other living materials to remove waste from the water. A complete filtration system will use all three of these methods in a system. Different types of filters that use some or all three of these methods include power/hang-on filters, wet/dry filters, undergravel filters, canister filters, fluidized beds and others.
  • Hardiness/ Difficulty: Both of these terms are used to describe how easy something is to care for. Their meanings tend to be relative opposites of each other and most places only use one, but they are in fact seperate terms. An item that is “hardy” is generally easy to care for (or hard to kill, dependong on how you look at it). A “difficult” item often has specific needs, a tricky diet or is very delicate. Beginning aquarists should look for a hardy fish with low difficulty. Keep in mind however that hardiness does not always equal easy; research your choices carefully!
  • Kelvin Rating: The “degrees Kelvin” are a way of measuring the temperature of the light, not to be confused with normal temperature of heat as measures in Celcius and Fahrenheit. While the technical terms and measurements of the Kelvin scale can be found in detail marine aquarium publications and on the Internet, the important thing for the average aquarist to know is the higher the number, the more blue the light. (On the good old “ROY G. BIV” rainbow scale, low Kelvin temperatures are on the R side while high temperatures are at the V). Most saltwater and reef aquariums use higher Kelvin lighting than freshwater aquariums.
  • Lighting: The most common types of lighting for aquariums, in order of intensity, are fluorescent, compact fluorescent (also known as power compact), and metal halides with different classifications within each of those types. Actinic is also a type of bulb used and refers to blue lighting with a wavelength of around 420-460nm and is used in saltwater and reef tanks. Always research what lighting would be appropriate for your tank as well as what livestock is appropriate for use with your lighting.
  • Live Rock: Live rock is used in saltwater aquariums as a natural decoration and foundation as well as for the benefits of the organisms growing in an on the rock. It is essentially rock that has been in the oceans for months or even years so that bacteria, algaes, plants, crustaceans, corals and other organisms populate and live on the rock. “Cultured live rock” refers to rock that is either manmade from concrete-like mixtures or is terrestrial rock and is placed in the ocean for a period of time to turn “live”. Live rock is also refered to as “cured” or “uncured”. “Uncured” rock is newly harvested rock that may not be fully cleaned of organisms that do not survive harvesting. “Cured” rock is usually much cleaner and stable and is safer for more established aquariums. Different types of rock are available from different regions, but the main difference between these varieties is simply the region it is harvested from and the shape or density of the rock. Tonga, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and the Caribbean are popular origin regions for live rock.
  • “Reef Safe”/ “Invert Safe”: These two terms can refer to plants and animals or to products like medications. “Reef Safe” items are safe for tanks with polyps and corals while “Invert Safe” is a broader term that includes other animals like crabs, shrimp, anemones, snails and others. While some references use these terms interchangeably, they do not always mean the same thing. For example, hawkfish are generally considered “reef safe” in that they don’t actively eat or damage corals, but they are not “invert safe” since they prey on crustaceans.
  • Starter fish: While these fish are usually very good for beginner aquariusts, the term “starter fish” usually refers to those fish which are considered hardy enough to use to start and cycle an aquarium. The spikes in ammonia, nitrite and nitrate during this cycling process can be dangerous to any livestock, but those typically used as starter fish are more likely to survive this process than others.
  • Tank-raised/ Captive-bred/ Aquacultured: These three terms generally mean the same thing, although “aquacultured” is used more for corals, plants and invertebrates and “tank-raised” and “captive-bred” usually refer more to fish. “Aquaculture” by definition is the growing of freshwater and saltwater organisms under controlled conditions, much like agriculture is the growing of crops on the land. This can range from farms used to grow fish like catfish and tilapia for food production to breeding ornamental fish for the aquarium industry. Tank-raised and captive-bred fish are typically bred on a smaller scale than farms created for the food industry. Some tank-raised fish that are commonly available are fish like clownfish, dottybacks, gobies and some cardinalfish as well as a few freshwater fish like angelfish and discus. Tank-raised fish are often more resistant to aquarium-related diseases than wild-caught fish but can be vulnerable to diseases introduced by their wild-caught counterparts. Strict regulations and pressure on wild fish populations are making captive breeding of fish more common and tank-raised fish more sought-after in the aquarium trade.
  • Territorial/ Aggressive: Some aquarists use these terms interchangeably but they have quite different meanings. “Territorial” fish or invertebrates establish and often actively (and potentially aggressively) defend a particular territory but do not necessarily harm other organisms that do not invade this territory. “Aggressive” fish may show some of the same behavior but do not do so to defend a certain area, but will instead attack and potentially harm any other organisms they may find threatening in a tank. A territorial fish (damsels, cichlids, dottybacks, etc.) can often be safely kept with other tankmates as long as they have enough territory to defend and other fish do not share this area, while tankmates for an aggressive animal (triggers, some cichlids, predators, mantis shrimp) must be chosen very carefully, if kept with any other tankmates at all.
  • Tropical: Almost all plants and animals kept in the aquarium trade are tropical, both freshwater and saltwater. This term refers to their temperature, not their water conditions or where they come from. The tropics are geographically the are between the Tropic of Cancer (23.4º N latitude) and the Tropic of Capricorn (23.4º S latitude). In terms of climate, this usually refers to water temperatures of around 74-82º F, depending on the region. Some notable exceptions are goldfish, koi and a few saltwater fish from temperate regions (the area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and the Arctic and Antarctic Circles, including the moderate subtropic region). The aquarium fish from these regions have average water temperatures of around 65-72ºF.
  • Water change: A water change as refered to within in the aquarium hobby is when an aquarist removes a portion of their tank water (usually 10-20%, once or twice a month) and replaces it with fresh, clean water. This is done to remove fish waste and to keep water levels appropriate, especially levels like nitrate and phosphate or even to promote breeding in some fish. A water change is not when an aquarist merely tops off a tank to replace water lost through evaporation – only pure water evaporates and salts, waste and other compounds are not removed when the water they are dissolved in evaporates.

Florida Ricordea – More than Just a Mushroom

There are two species of Ricordea readily found in the aquarium hobby; the Yuma and the Florida. Both offer an amazing pallet of colors and vary in size. The Yuma variety is found in the Indo-Pacific region, while the Florida species is found in the Caribbean and around coastal Florida. Ricordea yuma are typically the larger variety, but tend to be  more difficult to keep alive. They are also more expensive, with some prices topping $100 per polyp. The Florida species are by far hardier and can tolerate a wider range of lighting. Florida ricordea can be expensive, but typically not much more than $50 per polyp, more on the average of $20 to $30 dollars per polyp.

As far as water quality, a healthy reef system is all they require with an average of 3-5 watts per gallon of lighting. They can thrive under Power Compact, Metal Halide, and T-5 lighting. If the ricordea becomes well established and “happy” in your aquarium, they will begin to divide, leaving you with more ricordea than you originally purchased. You can also force them to divide by cutting them in half or if you are feeling lucky, in quarters. Water flow can be variable, low to moderate and more turbid. Try to avoid high, laminar flow,  it can cause the ricordea to detach or just to melt away in the worst case. They make a great addition to smaller aquariums because they typically only get a few inches in diameter while having very little aggression towards other corals. Like many other corals, they will “fight” back if too close to other corals, so give them a little room to grow. Through photosynthesis, ricordea gain a majority of their food. However, they will also feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton.

The Florida ricordea found in the aquarium trade are collected throughout the Caribbean and Florida. However, new regulations in Florida that are set to begin in July may cause the price to increase. The limits on collection are going to decrease by more than 50 percent. This should force the price of each polyp to increase noticeably. The drastic increase should be offset slightly by the import of ricordea from places like Haiti.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Florida Ricordea to anyone with a healthy reef tank. The color variety and hardiness make this coral a perfect choice for most aquariums, small and large.

Pea-Sized Seahorse Makes List of “Top Ten New Species of 2008”

Three fishes, including the minute Satomi’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus satomiae), were among the newly-described species voted to the “Top Ten” list, which is published annually by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University.  Another nominee, Materpiscis attenboroughi, an extinct fish fossilized in the act of giving birth 380 million years ago, provided the oldest record of live birth among vertebrates (please see photo).  The deep blue Chromis (Chromis abyssus), a gorgeous blue damselfish that thrives, in contrast to other family members, at depths of over 350 feet, is the third fish listed.

Tiny and Well-Camouflaged Seahorses (Seaponies?)

Measuring just 0.45 inches in height, Satomi’s pygmy seahorse (first collected, fittingly enough, by diver Satomi Onishi), lives off Derawan Island, Indonesia and northern Borneo, Malaysia.

Prior to its discovery, the title of smallest seahorse went to Bargibant’s seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti) which, at 0.8 inches, now seems a giant!  Bargibant’s seahorse bears an uncanny resemblance to the polyps of the gorgonian, or soft coral, upon which it lives (please see photo).  In fact, the first specimens described (1970) had lived in a small aquarium, attached to a gorgonian, for several days before being discovered by a startled researcher.

Further Reading

“Standing” an impressive 0.9 inches in height, Florida’s dwarf seahorse is our smallest native species.  Both it and the much larger Atlantic seahorse make fairly good choices for folks interested in keeping members of this fascinating but delicate family of fishes.  Please see my article The Natural History and Care of Native Seahorses for more information.

If you are interested keeping many varieties of seahorses in the aquarium and discovering how they live in the wild, please check out my book Seahorses, A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual.

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

Hippocampus bargibanti image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Jnpet

Materpiscis attenboroughi image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Sularko