Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Friends - Treats

Several years ago when chicken tenders were made for dogs in the USA, a veterinarian suggested that I give those as treats to my dogs instead of treats made primarily of corn starch and preservatives. Chicken is 100% protein, better for the dogs and a healthier treat overall.

But when the chicken tenders began to be made in China, information surfaced that sometimes diseased chickens were being used and dogs in the USA were becoming ill - several even dying.

I didn't want to go back to giving them corn starch treats. Besides, they loved the chicken.

So I bought this dehydrator. It is fun and easy to use and the dogs LOVE the treats!

I used to pay $15.99 for a one-pound bag of chicken tenders. Now I pay $1.77 a pound. I buy boneless chicken breasts and I slice them about 1/6 inch thick. I simply lay the uncooked chicken on the trays - each tray holds roughly 1/2 pound, and there are 4 trays so I can make 2 pounds each time. I plug in the dehydrator, turn it on, and in about 7 hours I have completely natural chicken treats from chickens that were grown in the USA and are certified USDA for human consumption.

They sell jerky seasoning but my dogs don't care if I use it or not. They love the chicken just the way God made it and the dehydrator cooked it.

The gun came with it but I haven't used it yet. If I do, I will probably use ground turkey, which is very inexpensive.

My veterinarian told me another healthy treat for dogs is green beans so I am searching for a recipe I can use to make doggie treats in the dehydrator using green beans.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Growing Angel Babies

Four of the angel babies are now one month old.

They began as eggs and when they hatched, they hung onto a leaf by their heads (where their parents spit them) until they grew large enough and strong enough to pop off and swim. When they began swimming, they were barely larger than a pinhead and they were shaped like torpedoes and transluscent.

As they grew, they formed the fins that angels are known for.

When angels are crowded, their vertical fins are stunted and they end up squat and football shaped. When they have plenty of space to grow, they form beautiful, high fins.

Now that they are one month old, I am weaning them from the live brine shrimp they've been feasting on and have begun feeding them finely ground fish food flakes. They are now beginning to get their colors. The colors will continue to form until they are several months old; as they grow older, the colors will be deeper and more vibrant.

Here is a fun video of the four baby shrimp in their own 20-gallon tank:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Friends

Today is Friday Friends Day and I'd like to introduce you to Eddie, our Jack Russell.

Eddie was picked up by the dog pound after he was found running loose in a bad section of town. He had no identification and no one called or came by the pound to claim him. After three days of waiting, he was scheduled to be euthanised because he had a bad limp. That's when the Robeson County Humane Society stepped in.

One of the volunteers goes to the area pounds each week looking for dogs and cats she can rescue. She thought Eddie could have had a broken leg and she rescued him and took him to RCHS's no-kill shelter. But when he was examined, it turned out he had been shot in the leg. It had happened some time previously (he was only about a year old, so no more than a few months had gone by) and the outside wound had healed - but his leg was atrophied and the shrapnel was still inside.

My husband, who was volunteering at RCHS at the time, fell in love with the little fella. So we adopted him and brought him home.

Our collie Simone thought he was one of her puppies and immediately took him under her paw.

We took Eddie to a specialist in Cary, NC, who reconstructed his leg and put a metal plate inside so the bone could fuse to it. After his surgery, he ran around and jumped through the doggie doors with his little blue leg splint on. It didn't slow him down.

Here is Eddie playing with our other Jack Russell, Lucy. When Mattie, the foxhound matriarch, steps in to say "cool it, kids" Eddie stops - but Lucy doesn't. Watch her jump over Eddie's head over and over, trying to entice him to play with her. The barking at the end of the clip is Simone, the collie, who protects our house from neighborhood joggers. The others stop to watch the joggers go by.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Things Fish and Dogs are Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I am taking the day off so my dogs and angels have written what they are most thankful for today:

Mattie the foxhound is thankful for the cats who live behind us; they give her hours upon hours of exercise and excitement.

Simone the collie is thankful for a home where people don't yell and argue and other than the two Jack Russells, life is pretty laid back.

Eddie the Jack Russell is thankful for the doggie doors because he can run back and forth from the house to the back yard all day long. And all night long.

Lucy the Jack Russell is thankful for the boxes of toys throughout the house, which supply endless hours of joy as she rips each toy apart. She is also thankful for the steps next to Mommy's bed so she can hunker down after exhausting herself.

Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick (shown at right with Lucy) are thankful that I gave them their own honeymoon suite, which they are putting to good use.

The Buckingfish-Fishnick angel babies are thankful for their own infant ward, free from predators.

And all the other little angels are thankful that we eat turkey for Thanksgiving and not angelfish.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Meet Alfred

Alfred is a koi angelfish. When he arrived with ten other angels, he was the smallest one of all. His body was about the size of a dime, and the other fish pushed him to the back so they could eat first. As a result, little Alfred was becoming weaker.

So I began feeding him special brine shrimp at the back of the tank while the other angels ate in the front of the tank. Sometimes when regular fish food flakes are not enticing enough, brine shrimp will serve as a terrific appetizer.

Soon Alfred began to put on weight and grow.

That's when I discovered Alfred is a female.

How can you tell if an angelfish is male or female?

(1) Behavior. As angelfish mature, the males become aggressive. They are trying to profile for the ladies so they'll know they are big and strong and capable of protecting them - and their eggs. Females, on the other hand, just kind of hang around - unless they are protecting their eggs or babies.

(2) A hump. When male angelfish become mature and especially as they continue to age (they can live to be ten years old) they will often get a hump on the top of their heads.

(3) When breeding. The female lays the eggs and the male fertilizes them, so if you're lucky enough to watch two angels breeding, you can identify the male from the female. Their organs are so tiny that you almost need a zoom lens to actually see who's who - and only during egg laying and fertilizing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Siamese Angel

This is a rare blue Siamese angel.

I received this male a few months ago with several other blue angels and a group of koi angels.

As he had grown (he is now around 7 inches tall) the base of his fins are very vivid ice blue. They then turn to black as they stretch toward the ends.

He has selected this blue angel as his mate. They hang out together and have chosen one corner of the 60-gallon tank as their honeymoon suite. They have not laid eggs yet but may in the coming weeks.

What kind of habitat do angels have in the wild?

They generally live in brackish waters near the roots of trees. They eat smaller fish (such as neons and cardinal tetras) and plants. They also love bloodworms and any kind of fish eggs. Caviar!

But most angels sold in shops today are tank bred. The wild angel, also known as the altum angel, is very difficult to keep alive in fish tanks.

You can tell if a grown angel is from a tank or from a breeding pond by the way it acts around humans. I once bought four angels from breeding ponds and it took weeks before they were unafraid. They were used to swimming where there were no glass walls - and they were not accustomed to humans.

In contrast, the angel babies I am raising come to the glass when I approach because they know it's probably feeding time!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Meet the Bettas

In addition to the angelfish tanks, I have two beautiful bettas. They each have their own two gallon tank on the counter between the kitchen and the breakfast room. It gives them plenty of opportunity to watch all that goes on.

One looks like a peacock. It is a double veiltail. It might be difficult to see the colors in this photograph but they rang from blue to green with white around the edges. He is about one year old.

The other is a golden double veiltail. He is about two years old. He lives with a snail, who helps to keep his tank clean. Sometimes bettas will tolerate or even enjoy a snail in their tank because it gives them someone to watch. Other times, they try to get aggressive. That's why the peacock betta does not have a snail living with him.

The tanks are side by side so the two bettas can flare up and profile to each other. But when they want privacy, they can go to the other side of their tank and hang out.

I've heard people say that they put bettas in community tanks. But you have to be careful when doing this, because their long, flowing fins slow them down considerably - making them easy prey for fish who like to nibble on those fins, like barbs and some tetras.

If they are placed in a tank with other fish with flowing fins who look similar to them (such as male guppies) they will often mistake them for another male betta and fight.

Bettas also need shallow water and they tend to live near the top of their tanks, because in addition to breathing through their gills they can breathe air from the surface. So the tall tanks I have for my large angelfish are inappropriate for the bettas.

They are carnivores, which means they only eat plants when they are starving to death. That means those vases with a plant stuck in them that are marketed to people wanting a single betta they never have to feed is simply cruel. It also gives people a very wrong impression about the care bettas need to thrive.

When male bettas are happy, they will build a bubble nest at the surface of their tanks. They are trying to entice a female betta to come on over and lay her eggs.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Friends

This blog is usually about my experience in raising angelfish but on Fridays I like to talk about the other creatures in my home - my dogs.

This is Simone. She is a tri-colored collie who was rescued by the Robeson County Humane Society (a no-kill shelter) and adopted by yours truly.

Simone was used in a back yard breeder's horrific breeding program. She was kept in a crate barely large enough for her to turn around in. She was not taken out of the crate - not even to use the bathroom. I was contacted by the Humane Society and asked to foster her because they did not believe she was going to survive without immediate intervention. I was stunned to find that she had no undercoat (a collie trademark) and although she was fully grown (two years old) she weighed only 42 pounds - half what she should have weighed.

She also had just given birth, which made her skeletal condition even more heartbreaking. We don't know what happened to her babies. Given her condition, they might not have survived. (At right is Simone when she was saved by the Robeson County Humane Society. What a difference in her appearance today! The day she was rescued, her head was the largest part of her body.)

I was soon to learn that Simone's physical condition paled in comparison to her emotional state. She was terrified of everything and had obviously been horribly abused.

After several months of nursing her back to health, I realized there was no way I could turn her over to be adopted. It had taken too much time for her to learn that we were never going to hurt her and she was safe with us. Fortunately, the Humane Society agreed wholeheartedly and we adopted Simone.

Everyone in the family adores her. She allows my granddaughter to brush her for hours on end (and loves it) and each of my other rescue dogs love her, too. The two Jack Russells act like she is their mama - and she treats them as if they are her bald children. She is the perfect lady and we're very fortunate to have her!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What Do Baby Fish Eat?

Baby fish eat brine shrimp. It's as simple as that.

Fortunately, baby shrimp are very easy to hatch.

I started out with this brine shrimp hatchery. You pour a packet into the black part and fill it up with water. Then you fill the little clear "glass" (really plastic) with water and invert it on top of the black piece. In less than 24 hours, the shrimp begin to hatch. As they do, they swim into the clear part to be closer to the light. At any point, you can remove the clear part and dump the brine shrimp and the water into the baby's tank. They eagerly swim after them.

The brine shrimp are about the size of the head of a pin.

Because I have so many babies right now, I bought a two-gallon tank and filled it with water. Now I add a spoonful of shrimp eggs and a larger spoonful of aquarium salt. Within 24 hours, I have literally thousands of baby brine shrimp. I dip a special cup (an old betta cup) into the tank and gather up several hundred and dump that into the tank with the baby angelfish.

The angelfish need to be fed about four times a day because their little tummies can't hold much at a time. If they are fed less often or not enough food, the weaker ones will starve.

I use San Francisco Bay Brand, which is known as a quality product.

Very soon I will begin feeding the two-week old angelfish some tiny flecks of dry fish food so by the time they are sold to the pet store, they will be well prepared for someone's aquarium.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meeting Lindsay Buckingfish

This is Lindsay Buckingfish, the amorous papa of so many eggs. Just in the past six weeks, he's fertilized at least 1,000 of them!

Lindsay is ten inches tall from the top of his fin to the bottom. He is a black marble but he also has some orange on the top of his head, which is a very desirable feature in black marbles.

He is less than two years old.

Angelfish can live to be 10 years old if kept in the right water conditions. They mate for life. The easiest way to get at least one pair of angels is to buy several at a time and put them all in the same tank. You'll soon see them selecting their mates. When they do, they will almost never leave their mate's side.

Last year, I bought 11 angels - 5 koi angels and 6 blues. Out of that batch, I have 2 koi angels who have paired off, two blues that have paired off, and two blue marbles that are uneasily paired off - I don't know if they are male buds or a bickering married couple.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Babies are Beginning to Look Like Fish

It's been two weeks since these babies hatched. Unlike fish that give live birth, watching angels being born is a bit like watching tadpoles.

They begin as eggs on a leaf or vertical surface.

After they hatch, the parents move them to a clean location, where they dangle from their heads until they grow strong enough to pop off and swim.

When they first begin to swim, they don't look like angelfish at all but like little white torpedoes.

It's only after a couple of weeks that they begin to grow their trademark vertical fins.

The ideal angelfish is twice as tall as they are long. If they are squat, it means they have been overcrowded.

The angels in the picture above are smaller than the size of a dime from the top of their fins to the bottom. They will begin to get their colors now. When they are first born, they are very transparent - which is needed to keep them from being eaten by predators.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Third Batch of Baby Angels

There has been a third batch of baby angels from the same lusty pair of angels, Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick.

Here they are swimming on their first day of school (don't you just love puns?)

Since this video was taken, I removed Mama and Papa. They are now in a fresh 20 gallon tank with a new plant and the ability to make love again without so many youngun's in their way. I have moved the other baby angels from the batch that hatched a couple of weeks ago to the nursery. Everyone is getting along great.

Lindsay and Stevie are generally confused the first day or two when they are separated from their new offspring. But in the past I found that Lindsay came to look upon them as a food source after a few days.

I hope to have several very pretty angels to sell to the local pet shop, who has agreed to take them. I think it will be another month or perhaps two before they are large enough to be sold. They shouldn't be for sale if they are under the size of a nickle.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Friends

I started this blog about my angelfish but while I am working I usually have two or more dogs by my side.

I currently have four dogs: Mattie, a foxhound who was adopted through the Richmond, VA SPCA;
Simone, a tri-colored collie, who was adopted through the Robeson County Humane Society;
Eddie, a Jack Russell, who was adopted through the Robeson County Humane Society;
and Lucy, a Jack Russell and part corgi or bassett who was adopted through the Robeson County Humane Society.

When I adopted Mattie, I also adopted her twin brother Skipper. They had been seized in a raid of a hunting lodge in South Carolina that was neglecting and abusing the dogs. They were just five months old.

When Skipper was four years old, he suffered a fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE), which means a piece of disk or a blood clot lodged in his neck. He was instantly paralyzed from the neck down. We took him to North Carolina State's Veterinary Hospital, which is renowed the world over for their work. They diagnosed him and stabilized him and after a few days, he was transferred by pet ambulance to ARWI, the Animal Rehabilitation and Wellness Institute in Cary, NC.

Under the supervision of top-notch vets and their staff, Skipper learned how to stand again by resting on a peanut (a ball with a scoop in the middle) while two vets gently moved him back and forth so he got used to his feet on the floor again.

He graduated from there to learning how to stand and walk on an aquatic treadmill. The vet techs would hold him up with a sling and the water kept him bouyant to take the pressure off his joints.

Special laser therapy broke up the embolism. And while he was at ARWI, he was not in a crate. He shared a large room with a Newfoundland. They had a television between them that played animal shows all day and the staff was fabulous at loving him as well as taking care of him.

After several months, he came home again. At first, he needed a sling to stabilize him as he walked. But after awhile, he got to the point where he could walk independently. However, if he ran, his back legs went at a different speed than his front legs so he would run in circles.

Skipper was a happy dog and lived for more than five more years. In the end, it was bloat that caused him to pass over the rainbow bridge, not the FCE. By then, I had a collie and a Jack Russell and I'm very thankful for them - they helped Skipper's sister Mattie get through what could have been a tough grieving process.

I am very grateful to everyone at NC State and ARWI for all their efforts in saving Skipper. They do fabulous things with animals these days; veterinary care has taken amazing leaps and bounds!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cleaning Day!

Decades ago (gosh, I'm old) I would remove the fish from the tank and clean it from top to bottom. Now I'd like to think I am much smarter - and my fish are healthier and the tanks are cleaner.

This morning I cleaned four tanks in less than two hours. That's less than thirty minutes per tank.

Here are my secrets:

I change 25% of the water in each tank each and every week.

And I use this hose.

My hose is 50 feet long. I have one end connected to my laundry tub so I can easily reach all but one of my eight tanks.

When I am ready to clean the tanks, I turn the blue button on the side and it siphons the water out of the tank. I can siphon 25% of a 70-gallon tank in less than five minutes. I usually clean just one side so the fish congregate on the opposite side. Then the following week, I'll siphon from the other side.

When I am finished siphoning, I turn the blue button on the side and it fills the tank back up. I have a gallon pitcher set aside for aquarium use only, and I add Prime (just half of what is necessary for 20 gallons, the approximate amount I have siphoned out), Ph Neutralizer (if needed) and aquarium salt (only if needed). Then I pour that gallon in slowly while the rest of the water comes straight from the tap through the hose. It takes about five minutes to fill back up.

I use a long-handled algae sponge (see the post from earlier this week) if I notice algae built up on the glass. With a pleco in each tank except the honeymoon suite and the infant tank, I usually don't have algae built-up except in those two tanks. And the algae is beneficial for the baby angels to eat.

The hose comes in longer lengths if needed and it eliminates the mess and time-consuming chore of emptying water into buckets and carrying them laboriously outside to dump.

When I clean the baby angels' tank, I use a hand syphon that does empty into a bucket. Their tank is only 20 gallons so I am removing about 4-5 gallons, enough to fill just one bucket. The hand syphon is much smaller and slower. It won't suck up baby angels in it unless they are very tiny. This has happened to me and I checked the bucket, got out the fish with a net, put them back into the tank and they were not any worse for the wear, believe it or not.

When working with the baby angels' tank, I only use a few drops of Prime. It is easy to overuse Prime and if you do, you are removing important and beneficial elements and bacteria from the water - things they need to survive. If this happens, you should remove about 25% of the water again.

Tetra used to manufacture a product called Cichlid Vitamins, which I loved - because my fish loved it. They stopped producing it so I've switched to amazon extract. I once had a problem with angelfish dying mysteriously and once I began adding this to their water, they thrived. I since learned that I was using too much Prime, stripping the water of all that was needed, and this additive put it back into the water.

I know they are happy with the water conditions because angels will only lay eggs if conditions are perfect. So if you have angels that are not breeding and you're relatively certain you have a male and a female, try the amazon extract.

Tomorrow: meet the dogs who are by my side while I work with the aquariums.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Angels are Aggressive!

If you have angelfish that have become aggressive, there's only one reason: sex.

Male angels are more aggressive and territorial than females. When they become juveniles, they will engage in pushing each other around by their mouths to impress the females.

Angels need a minimum of five gallons per fish. I prefer ten gallons. Anything less than five is overcrowding. Angels lay hundreds of eggs so both males and females will become very territorial when they are overcrowded. They want the other ones to go away so they can get down to business!

They will be most aggressive when they have:

Decided to lay eggs

They are laying eggs

They are protecting their eggs

Their eggs are hatching

Their babies are swimming

Watch this video of Lindsay Buckingham in a war lock with Pipsqueak Littlefish. Pipsqueak was told by the other fish that Lindsay and Stevie had opened a sushi bar. When he went to check it out, Lindsay warned him away - and Pipsqueak didn't listen.

Angels will waggle their vertical fins when fussing at each other. Watch the body language even before they lock lips!

Notice the tetras, the corydoras and even the pleco swim right into the middle of the fight and the angels take no notice of them.

By the way, no angels were hurt in the filming of this documentary. Pipsqueak and Lindsay made up a few minutes later.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pals for My Angelfish

Angelfish can be the ideal roommate or they can quickly go to the dark side. It's all in who you select to share their tank.

There are three things that go through an angelfish's little brain when they see another creature: Can it eat me? Can I eat it? Can I have sex with it?

Never put baby angels in a tank with other fish. A baby angel is anything whose body is smaller than a quarter. They are slow fish because of their tall fins and they can not out-swim tetras or predators. More aggressive fish will nip their fins.

Never put barbs in with angelfish. They love to munch on those long, beautiful fins. And as angels grow larger, they get even slower. Barbs are fast and are usually kept in schools so they can quickly surround an angelfish, hurt it, chew on it and make its life miserable.

Never put a fish small enough to fit into an angelfish's mouth in the same tank. This includes neon tetras, small guppies and ottos. They think you've given them a treat and the new little fish will very quickly come up missing.

So what works?

Long-finned tetras. Most of the tetras that are larger than an inch do well with angelfish but I prefer the long-finned variety, as they are naturally slower. If your angelfish are very shy, tetras will swim gleefully around them, showing them that there is nothing to fear - and you'll see your angels become calmer.

If you look closely at my tank here, you'll see a white long-finned tetra on the left and a fruit tetra beside the black marble on the right. I have about a dozen tetras in this tank.

Plecos. These fish get along very well with angelfish. Do not get Chinese Algae Eaters! They find the scales on an angelfish irresistible and they will hang on and suck until they have killed the fish.

Guppies. One angelfish breeder told me he had guppies in his tank and they got along very well. However, angels will eat guppy babies (and guppies give live birth) so you should remove any pregnant guppies.

Snails. Snails can clean the tanks of algae and uneaten food. Angels will be curious about them but they will not bother them. The best snails to get are mystery snails, which lay their eggs above the water line, making it very simple to remove before they hatch and take over your tank. And just in case they do hatch, angelfish love baby snails!

Corydoras. These fish are adorable and they can really liven up a tank. I keep them in all but my breeding tanks, as protective parents will attack them. There are so many varieties of them that you can have a lot of colors and designs. In one tank of mine, I have 7 angelfish, 9 corydoras and 1 pleco.

In the picture here, you'll see a small decoration with a "door" and "windows" on the left. This is a corydoras house. They prefer to come out at dusk or dawn. During the day, especially if the light is on, they prefer to sleep. They also like caves. So this allows them to sleep peacefully during the day without fear of an angel stumbling upon them. And if an angel did come upon them, they would just say "oops" and keep on going!

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Can't See the Fish for the Algae!

Algae grows naturally in aquariums. In small doses, it is beneficial to fish. But it can coat the inside of the glass and grow on every object, large and small, quickly creating an unsightly and embarrassing centerpiece.

What's a fish keeper to do?

Watch where you place your tank. Do not place it near windows or in direct sunlight. The more light the tank gets, the greater the chances of algae growing out of control.

Monitor the hours you keep the tank lights on. Try for no more than 8 hours a day. If you enjoy the lights on the aquarium (and who doesn't) take stock of when you are actually around to enjoy it. I have mine on for about three hours in the morning and about five hours in the evening.

Wash off the algae. I have two sets of decorations. When one set gets more algae than I'd prefer to have (and my tolerance for algae is pretty low) I remove those and put in the second set. And how do I clean the algae off the first set? It's easy. The best cleaner for fish tanks is: baking soda. Yep, that's right. I rinse off the decoration, then I place it in a shallow pan and sprinkle baking soda all over it. You can rinse it off after a few hours or a few days, depending on the severity of the problem. If you fail to rinse all of it off, it will not harm the fish - but it will drop the Ph. So you'll want to rinse it as thoroughly as you can. Using a toothbrush that you never used before is helpful for brushing off any excess algae.

Stay away from fast-acting algae removal products. They work by eliminating the elements in the water that algae feeds on. But it can zap so much of the minerals needed for the fish to live that they will actually suffocate. I watched an entire tank suffer due to one of these products and it is heart-wrenching.

Clean the glass yourself. I've used a number of products to clean the inside glass and the best I've found is a simple sponge (AKA algae pad) on a long handle.

There are also magnetic sponges sold that are very helpful when your fish don't like your hands in their water - like the parents of the baby fish they are protecting.

Hire someone to clean your glass. I like plecos. Because my angelfish get so large, I prefer to have one pleco in each tank. They can grow to five inches long (the bushynose pleco) to more than 21 inches in length so check with your pet store to find out how large your pleco will get when it is fully mature. They love algae and will spend most of the night time hours scouring your tank for it.

Do not get ottos for an angelfish tank. They are excellent at cleaning algae and I use them in my guppy and neon tetra tanks because they are a similar size. But they are so small that angelfish think of them as food. And since ottos can be very bony, they can injure the mouths of the angels who taste them.

The pleco in the picture at right will grow to 15 inches in length. But I'll never put one in a tank of breeding angels because, although plecos are primarily vegetarian, the angelfish parents will assume they're out to eat their young. And they might accidentally suck some in with those huge lips. This pleco's name is Mick Jaggarfish.

Friday, November 2, 2012

What You Need - Part 5 of 5

This week, we talked about the size of the fish tank needed for angelfish, having a good filter, how to condition the water, and maintaining the right temperature.

The last must-have thing for fish is usually a hood and light.

Angelfish do not have a tendency to jump out of the water, like some fish do. But I still have a full hood on my tanks which include a good light.

I like the old-fashioned full-length fluorescent hoods, although if they are kept on for long periods of time, they can heat the water. But I like the water the water and the decorations and fish look with this type of lighting.

The black hood in the tank at right is barely noticable, which is just the way you want it. You want the focus to be on the fish and their habitat.

I tried the LED lighting (which is all the rage now) but I found it to be too dim and the decorations and angels looked less than stellar.

I have timers on all my tanks. The lights come on at 5:30 am and go off automatically at 9:30 am. They come on again at 4:30 pm and go off at 10:00 pm. This provides full light for 10 and a half hours a day and plenty of time in between with room lighting or darkness.

Too much light can cause algae to develop.

Next week I'll talk about the joys of fish-keeping: where to place the tank, how to stock it, and what fish do well with angels. Plus, I'll show you how I manage to keep my tanks sparkling clean with just 15 minutes of maintenance per week! (And you'll get a sneak peek to what my dogs are doing during all of this!)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What You Need - Part 4 of 5

So far this week, we'll looked at the size of the tank, the filter and the water.

But what about the correct temperature for angelfish?

I have found my angelfish love water between 78 and 80 degrees. If you have warmer temperatures (82 and above) you will notice the angels breathing through their mouths as well as their gills. This is not good!

Water that is too warm will also cause aggression in angelfish.

When the water is just right, angelfish want to create new angelfish.

I use Aqueon heaters in my aquariums but there are several excellent brands on the market. An aquarium heater is fully immersible so you can install it upright or attach it horizontally to the glass with the included suction cups.

Place the heaters where you want them but don't plug them in for an hour; they need to be acclimated to the current water temperature to avoid cracking.

Always purchase a separate thermometer (usually only a couple of dollars) to make sure your water remains at the correct temperature.

Don't I need a light and hood?