Mark your calendars: Pond Demos at TFP on April 12th

Our in-house pond expert, Mike Lehman, will be giving informative demonstrations on Saturday April 12 from noon until 4pm at our Lancaster, PA retail store.

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Join us for these informative demonstrations, including information on do-it-yourself container ponds, how to control algae in your backyard pond, information on pond fish and plants and more! Whether you’re a beginner in the backyard pond hobby or a seasoned professional, you’ll be sure to take home some valuable information!

Stay for the demonstrations for your chance to win a prize for your pond, plus we’ve got a coupon in our April flyer for an additional 10% off your pond supply purchase of $49.99 or more, so stock up for the season ahead! If you don’t recieve our mailers, be sure to sign up for email specials and check the box labeled “Retail store coupons”.

We hope to see your smiling faces on April 12 – bring your questions, problems or concerns and have an informal chat with Mike, stay for the demonstrations, prizes and SAVE big on your spring pond maintenance supplies.

 

Why is My Aquarium Water Cloudy?

We often receive questions about fixing cloudy water in a hobbyist’s aquarium or the water appearing to turn a different color. While not all environments have crystal-clear water and a slight tint to your tank isn’t necessarily a bad thing, water that is noticeably “tinted” or cloudy can be a symptom of an underlying issue in your aquarium. The color of the water can tend to point to a certain problem even if you haven’t yet tested the water quality. In fact, it may even be telling you what exactly you should test for next!

Why is my aquarium water green?

Planted TankThis is probably the most common and the simplest to diagnose. More often than not, green water is the sign of an algae bloom. Algae-eating fish or other critters won’t usually eat this type of algae. The algae, usually a single-celled form, is suspended in the water. The most common cause I see for these blooms in aquariums especially is high phosphate levels and this will be the first test I will always recommend. Phosphates come into the tank most often from the source water; if your water source is well water especially, phosphates may have leeched in through the soil or through nearby farms or gardens where fertilizers may have entered the groundwater. The phosphate levels may not be high enough to affect our health but in the aquarium, they can build up to levels where they are fertilizing the algae blooms and possibly causing other issues to sensitive fish and invertebrates. If you suspect this may be happening in your aquarium, grab a phosphate test kit to test both the aquarium and your source water. If the source water has phosphates, switch to a different source like RO (Reverse Osmosis) filtered water. Filter media can also help remove the phosphates already in the aquarium and regular small frequent water changes with phosphate-free water will help cut them down.

Another cause for green water may be lighting although this will affect algae on the surfaces of the aquarium as well as the water itself. If the lights on the aquarium are on for too long (over about 8-10 hours per day), this may be overfeeding the algae naturally in the water. Also, if the bulbs are older than about 6-8 months, the spectrum (“color”) of the light itself will degrade to a more yellowish color that isn’t as useful to healthy plants but will still feed the nuisance algae. Try decreasing the duration of the lights or getting new bulbs if either of those apply. If the bloom still hasn’t gotten better, test the phosphate!

Why is my aquarium water cloudy?

This is the other very common colored-water question. Usually, the water is white and milky. Whenever we hear this, the next question will always be “How long has this tank been set up with fish?” or “Have you restarted this tank lately (removed more than a third to a half of the water)?” A milky white cloudy water color to the water is a sign of a bacteria bloom which usually happens during the Nitrogen Cycle Cycling Process of a new tank or if a tank is becoming reestablished after a large water change, medication cycle or other event. This cloudiness will usually clear up on its own; try to resist the urge to do water changes since this will only make the Cycle last longer and take longer for the bacteria population that needs to grow to take care of this on its own. You can test the water during this time to make sure everything else is normal, keeping in mind that while a tank is Cycling, you may see spikes in Ammonia and Nitrite.

Why is my aquarium water yellow?

Yellowish water is usually simply dirty. This is usually a result of overcrowding or overfeeding and may also be a sign of harmfully high Ammonia and/or Nitrite levels. Test the water to see if this is the case and take a good look at the stocking levels of your tank compared to its size and filtration. If you have four goldfish in a 10 gallon aquarium, it is overcrowded and the waste they produce is polluting the water. If you have two large Oscars in a 55-gallon tank with one small power filter, it is overcrowded and underfiltered. Take a look at your feeding routine too; you may be feeding the tank more than it needs and the leftover food (or the waste the fish produce after pigging out) could be fouling up the water. To fix this cloudiness, consider getting a large tank or cutting back on the fish you have in it, invest in a larger, more powerful filter, and consider if you need to feed the fish less. A filter media with carbon or another chemical neutralizer can help remove the organics that are polluting the water as well.

Why is my aquarium water brown?

This one straddles a fine line. There are some environments known as “blackwater” systems where this is actually a good thing and completely natural. These environments are usually in forested areas without a lot of water flow. The leaves, wood and other organic matter in the water releases a substance known as tannic acid that dyes the water brown…this is the same thing that makes the tea you drink turn brown. Some fish that live in these environments actually need this kind of water chemistry and there are additives and materials available to help aquarists create this kind of system. If you don’t have these fish and don’t want a blackwater tank however, it can be an unsightly nuisance. This usually “accidentally” comes about from driftwood in the aquarium that hasn’t been properly pressure-treated or is too soft and replacing that wood will get rid of the source of the color. Carbon in the filter will help with this as well to remove the color and organics from the water. Keep a careful eye on the pH if you are seeing your water turn this tannic brown to make sure that the acids aren’t lowering your pH too far.

These are the most common questions we get about the color of the water in an aquarium. If you are seeing a different “color” or if the solutions here aren’t resolving the problem in your tank, give us a call or comment below and we’d be happy to help you figure it out!

For additional information – check out this article addressing a specific question from a That Fish Blog reader – Clearing Cloud Water.

 

Synodontis Angelicus Catfish – The Most Spectacular Synodontis

Synodontis Angelicus Catfish

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Haps

Faced with “an embarrassment of riches”, catfish enthusiasts usually find it impossible to single out a favorite species.  Those in the genus Synodontis – boldly-marked and fascinating to observe – are a case in point.  Each time I’m introduced to a new species, I find some quality that draws me to learn more about it.  But if the Angelicus Squeaker, Synodontis angelicus, is not the most sought after of all Synodontis cats, it certainly is in the running.  Also known as the Black Clown Catfish, Angelicus Synodontis, Polka-Dot Synodontis and Angel Squeaker, it is both breathtakingly-beautiful and extremely interesting in its habits. And dedicated aquarists have the opportunity to broaden our understanding of the little-studied species, as captive breeding success has remained elusive.

 

Description

The Angelicus Squeaker’s jet black, dark gray or deep purplish coloration is beautifully offset by numerous yellow or white spots.  Some have described it as having the opposite color pattern of another popular relative, the Cuckoo Squeaker, S. multipunctata (please see photo below).  Color and spot patterns vary greatly, and individual fishes are capable of radically changing their background colors.  Health, stress, age, sex and other factors are likely involved, but much remains to be learned.  Fishes involved in aggressive encounters or, perhaps, courtship, sometimes lighten to almost white in color.

 

The maximum size reported is 9.4 inches, but detailed field surveys have not been carried out, and there are rumors that much larger individuals have been seen.  Growth appears to be rather slow, at least by pet catfish standards.

 

Synodontis mltipunctatus

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Mario Rubio García

Natural History

This river-dwelling catfish has a large range, but details concerning its exact distribution are sketchy.   It is known to occur throughout much of the Congo Basin, and has been reported from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Congo Republic.

 

The Synodontis Aquarium

Angelicus Squeakers remain rather subdued during the day, unless food is detected, but they are very active by night.  Although success has been had in smaller accommodations, I believe it best to plan on a 55 gallon aquarium for 1-2 adults.

 

Angelicus will not thrive if forced to remain in the open.  As they can be quite picky when it comes to choosing a hideaway, a variety of caves, hollow logs, driftwood refuges and similar structures should be provided. .  This is even more important when 2 or more Angelicus Squeakers are housed together, as battles over favored hiding spots are common.  Once a retreat is chosen, your fish will likely remain faithful to it.

 

Additional security in the form of well-rooted live or artificial plans should also be added.  Fishes kept in complex environments will exhibit a greater variety of natural behaviors than those denied access to hiding places…you’ll wind up seeing of your fish, and more of interest!

 

I like maintaining this and similar Synodontis cats on sand, as they keep very active by rooting about for food.  If displaced sand causes problems in your aquarium, they will also do well on smooth gravel.

 

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Temperature and pH

Temperatures of 74-80 F and a pH range of 6.0-8.0 have been used successfully.  I have found 78 F and pH 7 to be ideal.

 

Several friends working in public aquariums and for fish importers have reported seeing what appear to be heater burns on Angelicus Squeakers.  I have not seen this in my collection.

 

Companions

I’ve successfully kept groups of 6-8, but they must be watched carefully, especially at night.   Angelicus Squeakers guard their caves, and we know little about male-male rivalry or aggression that may occur when pairs are courting.

 

They may also be kept with similarly-sized peaceful or moderately aggressive fishes of other species. Active top-feeders will out-compete most catfishes for food, so night-feeding and other accommodations to bottom-feeders will be necessary.

 

I’ve not tried hosing Angelicus with other catfishes, and, in most situations, would avoid any fish that is dependent upon caves for shelter.

 

Feeding

Angelicus Squeakers are opportunistic feeders that will readily consume all manner of flake, pelleted and frozen fish foods.  Mine especially relished crushed crickets, blackworms and fresh and freeze-dried shrimp.

 

Plant-based foods are also important.  Cucumber, zucchini, spirulina tablets and similar foods should be offered regularly.

 

Individuals maintained on flakes and pellets alone do not do as well as those provided a diet comprised of live and frozen invertebrates.

 

Breeding Synodontis Angelicus Catfish

Despite the high demand for these beautiful fishes, captive breeding has not been documented, and little is known of their reproduction in the wild (other than that they are egg-scatterers).  Eggs have been produced by Angelicus Squeakers in several private and public collections, but none have hatched.  Anecdotal reports hint that hormone-based breeding has been accomplished in Europe, but details are not available.

I’m sure that the key to success lays in a detailed study of their natural habitat…pH, temperature or water level changes may be involved. Where captive spawning has occurred, hatching failures may possibly be linked to nutritional deficiencies. Increased amounts of live and protein-rich foods were offered prior to spawning in some cases.  Please let me know your thoughts (or, hopefully, successes!) on this important topic by posting below.

Further Reading

Keeping the Frog Mouth Catfish

Keeping European and Oriental Weatherfish

 

Aquarium Decoration Ideas – Fish Bowl Designs & DIY

Our first blog on Do-It-Yourself aquarium decoration ideas seemed to get so many creative juices flowing that we’re back with some more ideas, tips and examples. In the first blog, we covered some general ideas for how to look at different objects as possible aquarium decorations. This time, we’re going to get more specific based on some of the most common questions from your fellow hobbyists. I created a few different looks after raiding my kitchen cabinets for inspiration using a 2-gallon glass aquarium and a 1-gallon glass bowl but you can adapt the same ideas to aquariums of any size.

Hershey Bears Betta Bowl

Hershey Bears Fish BowlI’m personally a huge hockey fan and have done an NHL Philadelphia Flyers-themed betta in the past using gravel and a plant in their colors. For this one, I kept it pretty simple and used a glass pint glass I had for our local AHL team and my personal favorite, the Hershey Bears, as well as some plant substrate in different shades of brown. Since the logo on the glass is pretty solid, I left the glass empty except for some substrate in the bottom. The glass is sitting on the bottom of the bowl itself and I added the substrate around it to keep it in place. Read More »

2014 That Fish Place – That Pet Place NCPARS Annual Winter Frag Swap

2014 Frag SwapSaturday January 25, 2014 That Fish Place – That Pet Place will be hosting our 6th annual Winter Frag Swap with the fabulous folks from the Reef Conservation Society (formerly known as NCPARS).  Come out and meet some of the best coral farmers on the east coast, and check out the huge selection of coral frags that they have harvested from their private collections.  If you have a reef aquarium, or are thinking about starting one, these frags swaps really are an event that you should attend.  Corals for everyone, from beginner to expert, from common species to rare collectibles.   Along with all the coral available inside the swap, is the wide selection that is always available here at That Fish Place.  All aquarium livestock at TFP is on sale the entire weekend at 25%, which includes an excellent selection of coral frags from many suppliers including Jason Fox, ORA, ACI Aquaculture and many more.

Jason Fox FragsEducation is a common bond between the club and TFP, and this event is full of great folks to meet and talk to.  TFP will have our Marine Biologists on hand, and of course the many expert level hobbyists and professionals that are club members are always available to talk shop inside the swap.  Also on hand during the swap will be Manufacturer representatives from United Pet Group (Manufacturers of Marineland, Tetra, Instant Ocean and other great brands of aquatic and pet products) Seachem, Hagen, Hydor, Mars and Acurel to answer any questions you may have about their products.

 

Acropora Coral FragsThe swap is located inside the fish room of our Lancaster, PA retail store, and is open from 11:00-5:00. The swap is open for anyone to attend, registration for the event is $5 for RCS members and $10 for non-members.  All money raised at the event goes to the club, which is a registered non-profit group.  For more information visit the club website www.reefconservationsociety.org .

You can pre-register for the event, and browse some of the corals available, or list corals that you have to offer, at www.fragswapper.com .  Free Pizza lunch is included with your admission, and there will also be some great raffle prizes that you can purchase tickets for a chance to win, the grand prize is a 60 gallon Marineland rimless reef-ready cube tank and stand.

 

Come out and join us for a day of great deals, great conversation and great fun.  Hope to see you here!

Dave