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Monday, August 3, 2015

Do fish need space?

All living things need some space from one another. The more space, the better. I have observed that fish grow much faster if they are provided their own space. I have keep a single convict Cichlid baby in its own aquarium and it out grew all the others that were stocked together.

In my opinion, all living things have an energy field around them. With competitive species especially, the presence of a dominating companion will inhibit it's progress. Even though the fish may seem fine, at some level of its consciousness, it feels fear and stress in the presence of its competition. The results eventually show in its growth and health.

I raise convict Cichlid fry in a single tank together. But I won't be able to house them together for long. As they grow they need to spread out. Their requirement for personal space expands as they grow.

However this rule may not apply for schooling fish like Danios, tiger barbs, neons etc. These fish need to be in groups to function properly.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)

What aquarium plants are easy to grow?

To my personal experience, hydrilla verticillata and duck weed are great plants that spread very quickly in your aquarium with reasonable light.

I have tried other types of plants but was never successful. I have always tried amazon sword but failed at all attempts. Whenever I got myself an amazon sword, it would get covered by algae and die.

Sometimes plants may compete with other varieties by releasing chemicals in the water which inhibit the growth of their competition.

If the water is too rich in nutrients, especially ammonia, although plants utilize ammonia as food, they will not grow if there's too much of it.

You need to balance things out with water changes. If you are dealing with too many fish and do not find much time to do water changes, you can use aggressive plants like duck weed or hydrilla. In fact, if you got fish that do not consume duck weed, then it would be a better choice to hydrilla. Even though hydrilla is an aggressive plant, I have witnessed it losing the battle against algae at times. Duck weed floats at the top. It's leaves float on the surface of water, so algae cannot cover that. Duck weed divides quickly and will soon cover your entire aquarium and deprive algae of light and nutrition.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

How do Apple Snails Lay Eggs?

Apple snails lay eggs in clusters above the water. The eggs need to be in a humid environment to survive and hatch. They have a specialized way of delivering the eggs. Below is a little video that demonstrates the process.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)

What to feed Convict Cichlid Fry

Well you got a pair of Convict Cichlids that have spawned and now yu will be wondering what to feed them. Most experts talk about feeding live feed like brine shrimp, micro worms, daphnia magna etc. to baby fish. So you would then be wondering as to where will you get all this stuff.

Here's the thing. If you are dealing with Convict Cichlid Fry, you need not bother yourself with all that hassle. You can simplify the whole thing by feeding them pellets. Yes! I did say pellets. The most common food people feed their fish. The same thing that most people feed the adult convict cichlids.

But theres one small difference here. Its the size of the pellet. I have visited many aquarium shops in search of readymade powdered food for fry, but its very scarce in supply. Now keeping in mind the size of the fry, you need to reduce the size of the pellet to fit in the fry's mouth. So I use a blender.

Steps - Preparing Powder dry feed for Convict Cichlid Fry

Saturday, August 1, 2015

What to do if a tiny fish jumps out of your aquarium?

Many a times you may witness you little fish jump out of the aquarium and lands on the ground. In most cases, people might try to pick it up with their bare hands. But this is likely to fatally injure the animal due to its small size.

What to do?
  1. Sprinkle a little water over the fish's entire body to keep it moist.
  2. Take a piece of paper (printer or notebook paper is best) and place it flat on the ground, next to the fish.
  3. Take another piece of paper and gently divert the fish onto the other piece of paper.
  4. Once the fish lands on the piece of paper, carefully lift it up and quickly put it back into the aquarium.
This method will insure minimum to zero damage to your little fish.

If you are a beginner, be as patient as possible. Do not freek out in this situation. If its taking you some time to get this right, keep sprinkling water on the fish's body to buy more time. By all means, do not let the fish dry.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)

Money Plant Indicates Water Quality

I would like to share one observation about the money plant. Many people keep money plants in water filled bottles. In the presence of good indirect sunlight, money plants will take roots.

Now I have tried establishing money plants atop my aquariums but they do not seem to take root even though there is good sunlight.

There could be many reasons for this like fish who damage the roots as they grow or in most cases, the water quality is too bad.

In general, plants do not like too much of nutrients. Excess of nutrients damage the roots.

Now here is what I observed. I had a money plant hanging over my aquariums in a pot. As they grew longer, one of them decided to send out roots into my discuss tank. I would say that the water quality of the discuss tank would be exceptionally good due to the heavy plantation in there. The majority of plants in there are duck weed. Aquatic plants purify aquarium water. The roots of the money plant went all the way down to the bottom.

Then one day I decided to do a bit of over feeding. I introduced a large amount of live tubifex worms. Now worms tend to reduce water quality to a large scale. So after introducing the large amount of worms, I noticed the roots turned upwards like as of they do not like the water anymore and want to get out. So the next day I did a 50% water change. I them observed the roots turned back down to the bottom. I repeated this again and the same thing happened.

So i drew a conclusion that the roots respond to the water quality. They will go freely all the way down if the water is good and they will bend upwards towards the surface if the water quality is bad. This is a great indicator.

This is the money plant that found its way into the aquarium

Notice the roots turning upwards. I have not done a water change here.
The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Apple Snail Hatchery

I am sharing an idea that I'm using to hatch the eggs of my apple snails. It's monsoon time and all my snails are on full egg laying mode. The snails climb right out of the tank and lay their eggs anywhere on the walls of my house. So when I find the egg clusters I place them in my mini hatchery. Here are a few pictures that are self explanatory. They should give you a clear idea of my setup.

An egg cluster on the outside of my aquarium.

The snail ventured all the way out of the aquarium to lay eggs here.

Plastic funnel

I placed the egg clusters in the funnel in such a way making sure there is place for the babies to pass down the hole.

Side view

A closeup. If you notice, one of the clusters has already hatched.

Placing the funnel over the container. The container is filled with water and I have also introduced an air stone for little bit aeration.

As the snails hatch, they will crawl down the hole in the funnel and drop into the water filled container where they will grow.

An important thing to keep in mind, is that these clusters need to be in a humid environment. They will dry out in a dry environment. So I'm covering them with a lid to keep them most. I sprinkled a little water over them before covering them.

Covered with a little gap for air to come in. Even eggs need oxygen.

Just placed a little weight on top of the lid to prevent it from getting blown off by the strong winds.
The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Feeding a bunch of young Convict Cichlids

Convict Cichlid fry are highly competitive fish. Notice in the video the size differences.

Now it is this size difference that is the problem especially when it comes to feeding tubifex worms. Tubifex worms comes in blocks which many attach on the glass of the aquarium. The anchorage does make it easy for the fish to tear at it. But if you notice, the big fish are the ones who get the most of it. The smaller fish get pushed away. Its very important to make sure that all your little fish are well fed in a raising tank. Hence when feeding dried tubifex worms, I will split the block in 2 or sometimes 3 pieces and spread it out, so that all get to eat.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Attached Money Plant on top of Aquarium

Using a clip I have attached a cutting off a money plant on top of my aquarium to see how well it does. Many people keep money plant cuttings in water filled containers and this plant roots well in plain water. Hopefully this one should do the same here and grow.
Upon placing it in on my aquarium, I noticed that the snails were a bit hooked onto it but later on they lost interest.
I got a Clarias, Sucker and Rainbow Shark with tons of Apple Snails in this setup.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

How to Clean an Aquarium Power Filter

The Aquarium Power Filter is a very useful thing for maintaining good water quality. Its highly efficient as a mechanical filter and somewhat a good biological filter as well. Since the power head drives a large amount of water through the media in short periods of time, they can get clogged up real fast. This also depends on what type, or how many fish you got in there, and how much you feed them. Sometimes, in a totally messed up tank, it may need cleaning daily.

Cleaning an Aquarium Power Filter isn't difficult and will just take a few minutes. There are many designs of these filters and all of them can be opened up for maintenance. The part you will be dealing with mostly is the sponge, so you must know how to remove it and fix it back. Different designs have different ways of opening and select the type that you find easy to open while buying. You could also ask the shop keeper to give you a quick tear down on the unit before you buy it to make things simpler.

So now that you have got your brand new filter, here is how you maintain it in order to achieve good water quality. Follow the instructions here:

Step 1 - Power Off & Disconnect the Unit

Before you start with maintaining your filter, don't forget to switch off the power. Then disconnect the power chord from the outlet. This is a precautionary measure to avoid shock. Since your working in a wet place, dealing with electric appliances can be very dangerous and you don't want to take any chances.

Step 2 - Removing the Unit

Now the filter will be secured firmly onto the glass of your aquarium with the help of suction cups. Do not haphazardly force pull out the filter as this may damage the cups. Use your fingers and nails to scoop the cup a bit to stop the vacuum and gently pull out. This might take a bit of practice, but if your having difficulty doing this right, you could start by slowly pulling the unit out.Some filters come with a separate mounting bracket, so each time, you don't have to go through the hassle of removing the suction cups.

Step 3 - Removing the Sponge

Now, as mentioned earlier, each filter has its own design and hence has a different way of opening. If you had asked the shop keeper to demonstrate the tear down of your filter, by know you would have a fair idea on how to open the unit to access the sponge. To make things simple, your focus is on the lower part of the filter, which contains the media. So, the case holding the media is fitted below the power head. Some cases may need to be simply pulled out, for some there might be a notch holding it in place, so you might need some press and pull action to get it out while others may have a screw in and out mechanism which is the easiest to handle. So, when attempting this for the first time, be patient and handle your filter unit gently. It's not that difficult and eventually, you will figure it out. Once you have removed the media case, you can pull out the filter sponge.

Step 4 - Cleaning the Sponge

Now here's the main part of your aquarium filter maintenance process. Now that you have got the sponge out of the case, it time to rinse it. But, hold on! There are certain things you need to follow when rinsing the media. Firstly - Use aquarium water only to rinse it. Do not use tap water. Fill some aquarium water in a bucket and then rinse the sponge in that water. Then hold the sponge in the water and keep squeezing till you get off all that extra dirt. Don not over do this, as you will also loose valuable bacteria. The objective here is to get rid of the dirt that's clogging the media and not the bacteria. Even though, the cleaning process inevitably leads to some loss of good bacteria, that's nothing to worry about, as most of the bacteria hooks onto the media real firmly. By cleaning the sponge of all the dirt, this ensures a smoother flow of nutrient rich water throughout the sponge media, that provides food for the bacteria to thrive upon. Avoid cleaning the sponge too often, to avoid excess loss of good bacteria. Observe the water flow from your filter, and only if its reduced, then it means that its clogged up and needs cleaning. You can judge this by observing the air flow, if you have an air tube attached to the unit. Most filters come with this to increase aeration. The force of the water flow through the narrow outlet passage, sucks in air from the tube and into the water in the form of a fine bubble mist. Observing the amount of bubbles determines the force of the water flow and you can judge accordingly.

 Step 5 - Cleaning the Power Head

Cleaning the power head is not needed as frequently as the sponge media. Even though dirt does collect in the engine, it doesn't happen any fast. Without cleaning, it may take a few months, to accumulate, bad enough, to clog the engine. But you can prevent this by simply spraying water at the inlets of the power head to force out derbies. Spraying your power head whenever you clean the sponge is a good practice.

If your power head is clogged up badly, it add a great deal of load on the unit. This puts pressure on the coil and reduces the life considerably. In this case, you will need to open up your power head for some cleaning. Opening up your power head is not difficult at all. The power head is not a complex unit.

It consists of:
  1. The coil thats enclosed in a resin based tough enclosure that protects it from water.
  2. The magnetic rotor that comprises of the magnet that's mainly joined to the plastic fan to make it one piece.
  3. The steel rod around which the rotor is secured. On either sides of the rod, there might be rubber washers, to hold the rod firmly.
  4. The turbulence chamber. This is where the propeller forces water through.
These parts are easily detachable. When cleaning, all you will need to do is remove the propeller from socket and hose off the dirt. Also hose the chamber in which the propeller magnet sits. Look out for hair or strings that may tend to knot up the propeller. You do not have to take the propeller apart to clean it.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)

Convict Cichlid Babies Eating Dried Tubifex Worms

Convict Cichlids love worms. One problem is that Convicts (especially babies) tend to be gluts and cannot judge when their stomach is full. Hence when over fed, they are likely to eat to the extent where their guts cannot handle the overload and they die.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)

Convict Cichlid pair with fry and duck weed

This is another current video where my Convict Cichlid pair has spawned. I have placed this tank in my balcony where there is a lot of sun light. I'm using duck weed to improve water quality. This weed has increased a lot in less than a week. My objective is to have the surface covered up completely with this. I have added an air stone to compensate the night time loss of oxygen. Cichlids are known to consume Duck Weed but when over whelmed with this, they tend to lose interest.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hungry Filters Bad for Baby Fish

In the aquarium hobby, filters play a vital role in maintaining water quality. There are so many different types of aquarium filters to chose from. Many of them will make the water crystal clear so that you can enjoy the view of your aquarium. But the thing I want to talk about here is, "Are filters always a good thing? Do they have a dark side?".

Well, keeping fish for many years now, I have tried many different kind of filters. I have made my own DIY filters which did an excellent job. But this all changed when I had got a lot more tanks for breeding purpose. I found myself in a situation where I could not setup filters in all my aquariums. So I just got some air pump, tubes and threw in simple air stones in each of those tanks and stuck with the basic bi or tri weekly water changes. During water changes, I did not much care about the dirt at the bottom. I just used a mug to remove the bad water from the top and then added fresh water. I wasn't really looking for beauty as those were breeding tanks and raising tanks.

Well Fed Fry
I notied that the fish were more active in this type of a setup as compared to a filtered setup. They were more energitic and hungry most of the time. There was a recent bunch of fry that broke free in this simple filterless setup and started to grow faster than ever and the mortality rate dropped to about 5%. I took a closer look to find that the fry had their bellies full most of the time. (I used to powderize the pellets in the blender just for the fry). I notied that they were searching for food in the dirt that was lying at the bottom. Now I have read many places that there are lots and lots of fine critters and bacteria that reside in the dirt. (Note:- There was no substrate or gravel. The fish had full acess to everything in the tanks.) These fry were feasting on them and growing faster. I also believe that when the powder food settles at the bottom and the fish eat it, they consume a bit of the dirt too which ats as a pro biotic that helps with digestion.

Another thing to highligt here is Snails. I have got a lot of apple snails and always introduce a few to each tank to eat the left overs. I believe snails play a great role in improving water quality when kept in the right amount in an aquarium. Fish fry tend to benefit a lot from snails.

When I do water changes, I leave the dirt at the bottom and only siphon out the water from the top area. I know that this is the opposite to what most fish keepers do, but  I believe there is a lot of beneficial stuff present in the dirt to let go of. As a compensation for leaving the dirt intact, I do heavier water changes.

So, the whole thing here is dirt and simplicity. Fry love to dig into mess for food as compared to a filter induced barren desert, where food is only provided at a specific time. Fry need to have food 24/7 for best growth. They also appreciate aeration. So in short, if you are raising fry, avoid any type of filter, do water changes leaving the bottom dirt, feed powdered food and watch them grow. I even have a discus baby that growing rapidly in this setup.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)