Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Angels

We want to take this opportunity to thank you for visiting our Vicki's Angelfish blog through the year, leaving comments and being our friend. It's been a pleasure to visit our blog friends made this year - friends around the globe with kitties and pups and lots of great people.

We hope that you enjoy your holidays... You eat plenty of great food... Visit with lots of wonderful people, cats, dogs and other critters... Laugh a lot, smile a lot, and feel good.

From our tank to yours...

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


This past weekend, Popeye the Sailor Man, the blue angelfish so named because he'd developed popeye, was returned to the community tank.

He had been in the infirmary tank for about a month, and his eye had healed nicely, thanks to Binox and Maracyn Plus, two antibiotics that worked together to prevent secondary infections and helped to reduce the swelling in the eye. He remained isolated for another week, just to make certain that he was back to normal, before I moved him back to the home he'd lived in since he was about 8 weeks old.

He joined his mate, as shown below.

Angelfish can live to be ten years old. They mate for life.

There is another pair in the same community tank, that I called the Bickerstaffs because, though they are mates, they seem to constantly bicker!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Large Pleco

I don't normally see the largest pleco in my community tank because he generally comes out at night and is tucked inside a tree trunk during the day.

But this morning I found Mick Jaggerfish hanging on the side glass, so I snapped these photographs.

In this one above, you can see his reflection in the glass. He is approximately 15 inches long.

And in the second photograph, it was taken from outside the tank looking in. He gets along very well with all the other fish, and helps to keep the algae from forming on the glass.

Monday, December 16, 2013

An Update on Emmie Lou

You might recall the white marble angelfish that was born to Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick a few months ago. She was the only survivor in that particular clutch of fish, though both before and after, that couple had several clutches with many survivors who have since grown to adulthood.

Because I spent so much time and effort trying to keep the sole angelfish baby alive, I decided to keep her and I named her Emmie Lou. She was introduced to a community tank where I have a good proportion of females to males. I was hoping that she was a female (difficult to determine until she was older) because another male in the tank could be problematic with possible territorial issues.

I'm very happy to say that Emmie Lou is doing great and yes, she is a female. She is younger than any of the other angelfish in the tank, so her size is much smaller in comparison. But here she is with a male blue marble and a male koi angel.

It's feeding time and you can see the food floating on the water's surface.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Simone - The Tri-Colored Collie

Simone went to the beauty shop last week and had her "hair done". Collies require brushing at least once a day. She loves to be groomed, and will stand perfectly still for as long as it takes to brush her.

Simone is a tri-colored collie. Other collie colors include sable (like Lassie), white, and blue merle.

Male collies tend to have much larger manes, which is one reason all the collies that portrayed Lassie were male.

The thick undercoat at their necks was used during their jobs protecting livestock. If a wolf lunged at the dog's throat, they were likely to get a full mouth of hair and no contact with the skin at all. Likewise, they have a thick undercoating at the backs of their hind legs for the same reason.

Twice, one of my Jack Russells got out of the back yard and began roaming the neighborhood. Both times, Simone came to me immediately, pawed at me and ran back and forth to the door fretting, until I followed her. She led me to a window each time where I could see Eddie or Lucy running in the street. I opened a nearby door, called to them, and thankfully they came running straight back (with the bribe of a cookie). I then patched the hole under the fence where they'd made their escape.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Butterfly Pleco

Here is a rare picture of my butterfly pleco, which lives in a community tank with four freshwater angelfish, some tetra and corydoras.

I've had this pleco since he was about an inch long. He is now at his maximum length, around 6 inches. The butterfly pleco can grow to 5 to 7 inches in length. They're very shy creatures and will often hide during the day and only come out at night when the other fish are sleeping and the tank is dark. Normally having the light on in the tank is enough to send him under a rock or in a cave. He may be under the impression that I can't see him, since this picture found him at the back of the tank behind some grass and rocks.

The butterfly pleco, like most plecos, are very peaceful fish. Though some can grow quite long - I have a pleco in another tank that is around 15 inches long - they do not bother other fish. They eat algae off the sides of the tank and decorations and tend to be bottom feeders. I add a Pleco Block to the tank each week, which provides plankton and wood, necessary for their digestion.

I do not have plecos in my breeding tanks, however, only in the community tanks. They will eat the eggs and newborn fry of other fish.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Appearance of Antibiotic in the Water

I mentioned in yesterday's post that adding Binox to the aquarium water can turn it a yellowish-green. I actually like this because it tells me which tank still has the antibiotic present, and whether it is diminishing.

In the picture at right, you'll see two 20-gallon tanks. The one on the bottom is the honeymoon suite for Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick. Their water is perfectly clear.

The tank on the top is where the sick blue angelfish, whom I've named Popeye the Sailor Man, is recuperating. You can see the significant change in the water color.

Now that Popeye the Sailor Man is so much better, I will continue replacing about 1/3 of the water each week, but I won't be adding any more antibiotic unless his eye begins to protrude again. When the water is perfectly clear - which should happen within 2-3 weeks - he will most definitely be ready to join the other fish in his old community tank, shown at right. This picture was taken before he became ill, and he is swimming with his mate.

It will be interesting to see the two reunite. Angelfish mate for life. I believe these are two brothers and they were from the same clutch, so they're not technically a "couple" but they have hung out together, side by side, since they were the size of a dime.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Medicine for Popeye

When this blue angelfish acquired popeye, I knew I had to act quickly.

Popeye occurs when one eye (and sometimes both) begin to swell significantly. It can be due to an injury or to poor water conditions. Since I change 25-33% of the water weekly and monitor the water quality, I knew it was more likely that this fish was injured.

The first thing I did was remove him from the community tank and place him in a 20 gallon tank by himself.

I added Binox to the water, which can turn the water a yellowish-green color. This is an antibiotic.

I also began feeding an antibiotic food. But his appetite was poor and I was concerned that he was not getting sufficient treatment.

I took a trip down to my friendly neighborhood pet shop, Carroll's Pets in Lumberton, North Carolina, where Shelli recommended that I add Maracyn Plus to the regimen.

Since I'd just added Binox the day before, I waited a full day before adding the Maracyn Plus.

I added three teaspoons the first day and one every other day for the first week.

Then I performed a 33% water change, added the Binox again (a half dose) and continued with the Maracyn Plus every other day.

The results have been terrific. This blue angel has almost completely healed and the addition of the medicine in the water also prevented any secondary infections. Secondary infections are common with ailing fish, because their immune system is down. It is often the secondary infection and not the popeye that kills the fish.

I will change the water again this weekend and make a decision whether to keep this fish in the tank for one more week or transport him back to the community tank, where three other angelfish are waiting. Because the others are males as well, I want him to be in peak condition when he returns. The other angels were from the same clutch as this one.

Angelfish can live to be 10 years old if given the right treatment and correct water parameters. This ailing angelfish is less than 2 years old.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Recovering from Popeye

I haven't posted here in a couple of weeks. I've had a sinus infection that has laid me low and I've also had my hands full caring for the blue angelfish that has popeye.

Around the middle of November, I placed this blue angelfish in a 20 gallon tank by himself. It's easier and less costly to treat a small tank than a larger one, and I don't run the risk of healthy fish building up an immunity to antibiotics by focusing only on treatment of the ill fish.

In the photograph on the right, you can clearly see how much larger one eye is than the other. Popeye can occur due to an injury or to bad water conditions. Since I change 25%-33% of the water each week and monitor the quality, I deduced that this fish most likely injured himself in the community tank.

I am happy to report, however, that he is doing much better now. Within the week, he will be ready to return to the community tank.

Here he is below in a recent video. You can see the swelling in his eye has been reduced significantly and he acts like he's feeling much better - especially evidenced by his increasing appetite.

Find out tomorrow what I did to bring him back to peak health.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


It happened.

Just when I think everything is perfect - the fish are all healthy, the water quality is perfect, and the tanks have become easily maintained, I spot a problem.

This is one of my largest blue marble angels. It is easy to see from this angle that one eye is enlarged and bulging. This is known as Popeye. There are a couple of things that can cause it: injury to the eye or unclean conditions. Since the conditions have been ideal, it's more likely that the eye was injured. It is a peaceful tank, so it might have occurred if the fish swam into one of the decorations. In a less peaceful tank, I might have considered that he injured it while fighting.

So... what to do?

Step 1: Assess Everyone Else

The first step is to determine whether this problem is with one fish or several. If it was occurring with several, I would perform a 50% water change and add medicines to the entire tank.

Step 2: Isolate the Ill Fish

I determined very quickly that the problem is occurring with just this one fish. Its mate, by the way, had not left his side. He was not eating and was hanging out in one corner of the tank, and there like a good friend was his mate, side-by-side with him.

Though I didn't want to stress him or his mate any further, I decided I had to isolate him in order to provide him with the best treatment. Fortunately, the baby angels left last Friday for the local pet shop. I had just moved Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick back to the infant tank, which they prefer because it is higher than the honeymoon suite. So I now had the honeymoon suite empty and available.

I performed a water change to make certain the conditions were ideal, and then I moved the ill angel into that 20-gallon tank.

By moving him into a smaller tank, I remove the possibility that he will infect others, and I also am able to administer smaller doses of medicine.

Step 3: Water Medicines

After I moved the angel,  I added medicine to the water.

The medicine I selected is Binox, shown here. Binox is great for any bacterial infection. Popeye will often lead to secondary infections, so this will reduce that possibility. The directions call for removing any charcoal filters and adding 1 teaspoon per 25 gallons. It turns the water somewhat yellow but that also tells me that the medicine is still circulating in the tank.

Step 4: Feed Medicine

Shown in the same photograph is an Anti-Bacterial medicine that is administered as food. This is another reason why isolating the fish is a good idea. Though healthy fish will not be harmed if they ate this food, it could cause any bacteria to be resistant to the medicine as they build up a tolerance to it. Therefore, it is best used only when necessary.

The angelfish is currently not eating. Fish can go for days without food so at this point, I am not concerned. I will continue to feed it small amounts at least twice a day. As he begins to eat again, I will feed it more until I know he is well on his way to getting back to normal.

Step 5: Patience

All I can do at this point is monitor the situation. If he shows no sign of improvement in four days, I can perform a 25% water change and add more Binox to the tank. Within four days, his eye should have become reduced in size.

How long he remains in the tank will depend entirely on his condition. As long as he shows symptoms, I will keep him isolated. When he is back to normal, eating again and his eye is back to its normal size, I prefer to move him back to the community tank where his mate is.

I had a situation a few years ago in which Mick Fleetfish's mate became ill, and I set up an aquarium right next to his. As I administered medicine to his mate (she had dropsy) I noticed Mick remained as close to the glass as possible, where he could keep an eye on her. Angels mate for life, often live to be ten years old, and will sometimes mourn themselves to death after the death of a mate. (The water in the isolation tank is a different color due to the medicine that was added.)

Stay tuned and let's all hope this beautiful ten-inch blue marble responds well to the medicine!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Clutch Number 10

Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick have laid a 10th clutch of eggs. You might recall that they laid a clutch just a couple of weeks ago. However, none of those eggs survived. Sometimes I think the parents look at their offspring like a batch of cookies.

"Oh, we can do better than that," the mother says.

"I agree," says the papa. "Let's eat these and start over."

They have used the same amazon leaf for this latest batch. You can spot them easily because they are stark white.

Stevie Fishnick is a platinum angel with a gold crown.

If this clutch is like their others, about half of the fish will be black marbles like their papa, and half will be gold marbles - a golden or white background with black marbling.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Emmie Lou

Emmie Lou is between three and four months old now, and doing great. Like a typical female angelfish, she is small for her age. She spends more time alone, and now that she's discovered that food is plentiful, she no longer eats like it's her last meal.

Because she is a female, she has been more readily accepted into the community tank.

Had she been a male, she would have faced territorial issues from the other two males in the tank, who are constantly vying for a particular female's attention.

You might recall that Emmie Lou was born at my house (the 8th clutch of Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick), below. She is considered a blond marble - a cross between a black marble and a platinum angel. Crosses between black marbles and golden angels are also considered blond marbles.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Spotting the Female Angelfish

Adult female angelfish tend to be smaller than their male counterparts. Their bodies are not as thick but more svelte.

They can often spend more time alone and when it's feeding time, they don't usually push their way to the top as the males do. There are usually more males than females that survive out of a clutch. This could be because the females are not as assertive, even at a young age, so they don't grow as quickly or as strong as their male counterparts.

The angel above was originally named "Alfred". I noticed this one was hanging back, away from the others, and did not eat with the rest of them. I began feeding this one individually but realized when it became an adult that it is a female. She has been renamed Alfreda. She still spends a great deal of her time alone, staring outside the tank. She is almost two years old. Angels can live to be ten years old.

You can have any number of females in a tank, but when you have only 1 or 2 females and several more males, there can often be a display and posturing between the males as they compete for the female's attention (and eggs).

Females tend to become aggressive only when they are protecting their eggs or their young.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Spotting the Male Angelfish

It is nearly impossible to determine whether an angelfish is male or female when they are young. However, as they age, the males develop thicker bodies, tend to be larger than the females, and they often - but not always - have a hump on their heads.

If you are in a pet shop and you see adult angelfish, you can rest assured the females will not have a hump. The males will tend to be more assertive in a tank, and they can become quite aggressive if they are mating or defending their eggs or young.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Angels Ready to Sell

There is quite a discrepancy in the sizes of the angels as they continue to grow. The largest angels have bodies larger than a quarter, and they will go to the pet shop first.

Having the larger ones gone will give the smaller ones more of a chance to grow and flourish. They should then gain weight much faster and will be able to go to the pet shop in about 2-3 more weeks.

The smallest ones, two black marble angels, are not quite a dime in diameter, even though they are from the same clutch. Had the parents remained with them, they would have killed those to give the larger ones a better chance. But these can flourish as well and live long and happy lives. I've seen it happen!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Climb That Fence and Take That Leap

Today's special guest is Philip Johnsey. Raised on a farm and having been a volunteer at different animal rescues, it’s no surprise that his first two published articles were about animals. So it’s only fitting that Phil’s first book is about animals and the connections we share.

From Phil’s first high school job to present, he’s spent his career working with clients, explaining complex ideas in an easy to understand manner.  In addition Phil enjoys exploring the world and sharing those adventures via writing, photography, and videography.

Phil’s credits include, multiple certifications, Reiki master, photographer, author of two blogs, author of a travel column, creates short segments for a local T.V. station and whatever else he can get into.

Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/philip-johnsey/climb-that-fence-and-take-that-leap/


I asked Phil if he had five things he wish every pet owner knew. Here are his answers below. And Phil, thank you for joining us here today!

Hi! Thank you for the opportunity to swing on by. This topic really made me think more than expected, which I always enjoy. Here are five things I wish every pet owner knew.

In no particular order…..

11.      Pets have distinct personalities: 

That may sound obvious, but if you pay attention, you’ll see they’re very much like people. Some are very easy going and just float along; others demand a lot of attention and will let you know if they don’t get it, some just are playful. For example, Edmund is easy going and mild whereas Amanda needs lot of attention and validation.

2.      Pets are protective on a variety of levels:

We’ve all seen stories of pets alerting owners to fires or other in home physical dangers. Pets can also sense things about people. I’ll never forget the evening my mild mannered, laid back cat decided to have a stare down with a guest. As soon as this guy sat down, Keiko climbed onto the coffee table and just stared at him. She didn’t move an inch and was directly in front of me. The guy became very uncomfortable and even noted he had never had a cat stare him down like that. Keiko wasn’t moving at all and we couldn’t budge her. Later on this guy’s true colors shown and he was not someone we wanted to be around.  Keiko was dead on in sounding the alarm.

33.      Pets are intuitive:

Similar to number two, pets can read us and know what we need. I know when I’m not feeling well or sad both cats will come and stay near me. What’s even more interesting is times I’m quite upset and one will just walk up, rub against me and just stand there. As if to say, “it’ll be fine, I’m here”.  On a fun note, the other morning I was thinking to myself "this would be a good day to take a sick day”. I never said a word, but as soon as I thought it, both of the cats excitedly ran around the house and then headed for the door waiting to be let out.  It’s like they knew: Daddy’s home today, we get to hang out on the porch.

44.      Pets have feelings and emotions:

We all know pets can be happy. Just wave a ball in front of a dog! Yet I’ve seen them display sadness after another pet passed away. I particularly remember a time when Edmund kept trying to get out of the fence and I finally fixed all the escape routes.  He just lay on the patio, as if he had no purpose. He didn’t seem to care much about anything else. Even eating was routine. I changed the patio where he could explore and the life instantly came back. If you want to experience this first hand, take a walk in a shelter and see the animals that are just lying there. Wondering what happened to their owner, will someone take me home?

55.      Pets need attention and love:

This sounds too obvious, but often life can get in the way and we end up giving them food and water and that’s it.  It’s amazing how they wake up when you give them a little brushing, or spend some extra time with just them.  When you give them love and attention, they totally wake up and then show you more affection. It’s a cycle that is worth continuing.

In summary, I’d say that pets are more like people than we think. They have feelings, emotions, personalities, and a special bond with their owners.


Edmund blasts across the yard against my calls to come in. He gleely runs off and I chase him across the grass only to find a unique butterfly or a sky filled with stars. As soon as I stop and admire, Edmund promptly comes to my side and rubs against me.

Do you ever wonder if there is more to your pet's behavior than meets the eye?  Sometimes their antics are more than just random behavior.  Can we learn something about ourselves by watching them?

I believe so and Climb that Fence and Take that Leap is a compilation of personal, inspirational animal stories and the life lessons I gleaned from them.

After enjoying these stories, hopefully you'll enjoy more quality time with your furry friend and know what it takes to Climb that Fence and Take that Leap!


Unconditional love isn’t always easy:

You remember how I said I’d spend more time with her? That became very difficult as the disease progressed. The sickening smell, the drool, and the wet fur made it hard to be near her, let alone pet her.

Whenever she came up to me, there was always a puddle or mark left from her drooling on me or rubbing against me. Anything she laid on or was near captured that smell.

Then one day I looked at her, and she just looked so pitiful. How could I not show this cat who’d been with me eighteen years some love? That was just being selfish and mean. I grabbed some old towels and began to hold her frequently. She just loved it. As soon as I picked her up, she’d just purr away. Yeah, the stink would get through onto my clothes, but that was OK. It was worth it.

It had always been easy to hold her when she was clean. Now that she was stinky and sick was when she needed that affection the most. As much as I loved my cat, there were days where it was difficult to be close to her. Often I’d get upset with her, and I knew that it was my frustration coming out. I just wanted to help her be well.

Unconditional love can be hard sometimes. You have to go way past the funky appearance and the odd smells, and think solely about the other person. You have to think about what it’d be like if you were in that situation. What would you really like?


I don't usually review books, but anyone who knows me knows what an animal lover I am. I couldn't resist asking for a review copy. And to my delight, this book is a real gem. As I read about the author's 18-year relationship with his cat Keiko, it brought back memories of my own pets and how much their lives taught me about living. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, I was pulled into the drama as Keiko was diagnosed with a type of squamous cell carcinoma that degenerated her entire jaw. The author told of wrapping her in a towel and taking her on car rides, which she adored, as her physical condition waned. Her emotional attitude, however, remained high and that is due (in my opinion) to the caring and loving attitude of her owner, who clearly adored her.

Johnsey takes the story a step further, however, into what Keiko taught him about living each day to its fullest and making every moment count.

He also tells of a turtle he rescued who became a pet and family member, and how the turtle discovered the world beyond his fenced courtyard. While some owners would see the digging under the gate as a nuisance, Johnsey took the role of an observer, discovering why the turtle wanted to explore its world and deepening his bond with this unlikely pet. The result is how much this turtle taught him about broadening his horizons, taking on challenges and never giving up.

A truly heartwarming story is one in which he found sea turtles digging their way out of the sand and making their way to the beach, encountering rocky outcrops and terrain that threatened their lives. Only the size of quarters, he watched and assisted without taking from their unique experiences and tenacity to reach the sea. There were stories of waves pushing them back, of imprints in the sand that swallowed the baby turtles, of rocky ledges with four foot drops, and much more - but their determination to reach the sea and survive was an amazing, inspiring story.

There are many of these stories in which Johnsey observed animal behavior and applied their attitude, problem-solving and tenacity to our own lives, our own challenges and the worlds we make for ourselves. The result is learning how to excel in this life and perhaps, in the process, becoming the type of human that our pets believe us to be.

This is a quick read, if you're looking for entertainment. But it's much more than that: it's a reference book to return to time and again, to re-read the lessons and learn how to apply various principles to our own lives.

Highly recommended reading.


Philip will be awarding a $50 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 


Buy links:


Barnes and Noble:


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Batch Nine

I've decided to number the latest batch of eggs Batch Nine. Yesterday I posted some pictures, and today I have this short video of Stevie watching over the eggs. The video was taken as I was looking down into the tank.

The angels prefer to lay their eggs on amazon leaves. This time, they selected a leaf where I see only the back of it when I approach the tank. This gives the eggs more privacy, for sure!

As they get close to hatching, the parents will clean other leaves and adhere the babies to the leaves by their heads, where they will dangle until they are large enough and strong enough to pop off and swim.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Meanwhile the Honeymoon Suite is Working...

As the current batch of angelfish fry get large enough to sell, Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick are starting yet another family.

I found these eggs on the red amazon plant. This is Stevie watching over them.

It might look at if she is simply watching them (kind of like watching water boil) but she is performing a very important function. The pectoral fins are fins that are on either side of the angelfish's body. They are constantly in movement, and when Stevie is watching over the eggs as she's doing in the picture above, the movement of those pectoral fins actually fans the eggs. This keeps fungus from forming on them. Fungus, as you might guess, will kill the eggs.

When the parents are removed after laying the eggs, an air tube can be placed directly under the eggs to keep the water moving around them. This will also prevent fungus. As a last resort, a chemical can be added to the water to kill the fungus, but I don't like using that method.

I prefer to keep both parents with the fry until after they have hatched and are free swimming. However, I have learned if they remain together for too long, the parents will kill the weakest and smallest of the group, in order to ensure survival of the strongest and fittest. So I separate them a few weeks after the fry are free-swimming.

Here is Lindsay and Stevie together, watching over their eggs.

This is a 20 gallon tank, and these two angels are the only ones in the tank - plus their eggs.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Alpha and Omega

With a clutch of fish, some emerge as alphas and some as omegas.

Alpha angelfish are almost always male. Within a few weeks, they are twice the size of their brothers and sisters. They are the ones that learn the quickest and are the pushiest when it comes to food and survival.

Omega angelfish can be female or very passive males. They are the smallest angelfish and usually stay away from the others in their group. You'll often seeing them going their own way - when their brothers and sisters are crowded at the surface of the water to eat, they are at the gravel level, or hiding amid the landscape.

If I'd allowed the parents to remain with their young, they would have killed and eaten the omega angelfish in order to give the largest and more robust babies a better chance at survival, which also means less competition for food.

Because I separated the parents very soon after their babies hatched, it gave all the fish - even the omegas - a better chance at survival, because there are no predators and there is plenty of food for all. In the video below, you'll see the variety in size between the alphas and omegas.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Release of my 16th Book

Normally this blog is about raising freshwater angelfish and focusing on my rescue dogs on Friday Friends. But I wanted to let you know that my 16th book, The Tempest Murders, was just released and this week I began my first book tour to promote it.

The book is considered cross-genre, and I'm finding that men really love it. It is a detective story with Irish Detective Ryan O'Clery attempting to solve a series of murders in North Carolina as Hurricane Irene barrels toward the coast. In another sense, it is a love story that stretches across centuries and halfway around the world. And in another, it is considered slipstream, which means it moves between the present day and the past, blending together like time travel.

The book is a nominee for the 2013 USA Best Book Awards and is a nominee as well in the 2014 International Book Awards.

Ryan O'Clery has always had vivid dreams of a woman he loved and lost at the hands of a killer in 1839 as a massive storm swept across Ireland. But when he discovers a journal his uncle five generations past and halfway around the world in Ireland, he realizes they were not fantasies but memories of a man who died nearly two hundred years earlier. He also discovers that the murders he is currently investigating are nearly identical to those Constable Rian Kelly was investigating as the killer set his sights on his soul mate, Caitlin O'Conor.

When Ryan meets Cathleen O'Reilly, a television reporter, she is the exact image of the woman in his dreams. He becomes convinced she is the reincarnation of Caitlin O'Conor - and he is Rian Kelly. As a hurricane nears their shores, he realizes the killer's next target is the woman he is falling in love with.

This is the story of soul mates found, lost and reunited... And the lengths to which one man will go to change their destinies.

The book can be purchased at any book store or through amazon (http://www.amazon.com/The-Tempest-Murders-p-m-terrell-ebook/dp/B00EOAFTYY for Kindle or http://www.amazon.com/The-Tempest-Murders-p-m-terrell/dp/193597016X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0 in paperback) or in the UK at http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Tempest-Murders-ebook/dp/B00EOAFTYY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381670161&sr=1-1&keywords=the+tempest+murders (Kindle) or http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Tempest-Murders-p-m-terrell/dp/193597016X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1381670161&sr=1-1 (paperback).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Parents

Yesterday I showed the latest batch of angelfish babies, who are going on seven weeks of age.

Here are their parents, who are permanent residents of the Honeymoon Suite:

Lindsay Buckingfish is the 10-inch tall, black marble angelfish with an orange crown. About half of the babies are black marbles.

Stevie Fishnick is the platinum angelfish, around 7-8 inches tall, with a golden crown. About half the babies are a variation of white marble, mixing the solid color of their mama with the marbling of their papa.

I have noticed as Emmie Lou gets older, her crown has gone from platinum to golden, like her mama's.

Lindsay and Stevie have laid eggs as often as three weeks apart. I've lost count of the number of clutches they have conceived.

They chose each other as mates when they were in the community tank. After laying eggs several times (which were promptly eaten by other fish in the tank) I moved them to their own, private tank. Angels can live to be 10 years old and they mate for life, often grieving themselves to death after the loss of a mate.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Discrepancy in Sizes

As the angelfish babies continue to grow and flourish, some have established themselves as alpha fish while others languish far behind.

In one batch of fry, there are always some who will quickly become twice as large as the others. They are the ones who come to the surface first, who are less afraid of danger and who eagerly await my visits to their tank with food in hand.

Others will end up very small. These could be females, or they could be omega fish. They tend to hide behind the plants longer, are less eager to come to the tank glass, and are far less adventuresome. They spend much of their time near the bottom of the tank.

This is normal with a batch of fish fry. However, as time passes, the smaller ones will catch up, though the females will typically remain smaller than the males. Eventually, they will all be quite accustomed to human faces and the food humans dispense.

I have begun feeding them finely crushed dry flakes in conjunction with the dried brine shrimp and First Bites. They will soon transition to the flakes and dried shrimp, and then almost exclusively to flakes, as I ready them for their new homes.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Angelfish Fry Nearly Dime Size

Meanwhile, the latest batch of angelfish fry are continuing to flourish. The father is a black marble and the mother is a platinum. Just over half the fry are white marble and the others are black marbles.

As they grow, they've become more adventuresome, swimming toward the surface of the water and leaving the school to explore as individuals.

In about four weeks, they should be large enough to sell. While some angelfish breeders sell them when their bodies are the size of a dime, I believe this is entirely too young; the mortality rate is high at that size when they are moved to different water conditions. I prefer to keep them until their bodies are the size of a quarter or larger, to give them a better chance at surviving and flourishing.

Kept in the right conditions, angelfish can live to be 10 years old.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Betta

Now that Emmie Lou has moved from the betta tank to the community tank, I found my betta tank empty and the adjoining betta depressed. Seems he enjoyed watching Emmie Lou in the next tank over, and once she was gone, he was lonely. He spent his days hovering on that one side, looking for her.

So I decided to get another betta. The small, 2-1/2 gallon tanks are easy to clean if I can remove the one fish inside, so although I contemplated something like neons or glofish, that idea was short-lived since they'd be harder to catch during each water change. And smaller tanks can get dirtier much faster than larger ones.

My friendly local pet shop phoned me to let me know a new shipment of betta babies had just come in, so off I went.

Here is the new, multi-colored betta. He is a comb-tailed betta, the first one I've had. He seems very happy to be out of a cup and in a real tank. He is about 1/3 of the size of the adult betta.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Success in the Community Tank

Emmie Lou has been in the community tank for almost a week. I am very happy to report that she is doing extremely well. All of the other angelfish (a silver male, a blue marble male, two koi females and a koi that I believe is male) have all accepted her into their group.

Though her body is roughly the size of fully grown tetras in the tank, they are non-aggressive; I selected them because they are not fin-nippers. So Emmie Lou has a predator-free tank.

Emmie Lou's father is a black marble ten inches tall, and a platinum mother about 7-8 inches tall. She is about 10-11 weeks old now, and I believe she will be a large fish based on her current height.

Here she is almost one week after being introduced to this tank:

Friday, October 4, 2013

Climb That Fence and Take That Leap

I just finished reading Climb That Fence and Take That Leap by Philip Johnsey. The book is a real gem.

As I read about the author's 18-year relationship with his cat Keiko, a seal point Siamese in dark-chocolate with deep blue eyes, it brought back memories of my own pets and how much their lives taught me about living. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, I was pulled into the drama as Keiko was diagnosed with a type of squamous cell carcinoma that degenerated her entire jaw. The author told of wrapping her in a towel and taking her on car rides, which she adored, as her physical condition waned. Her emotional attitude, however, remained high and that is due (in my opinion) to the caring and loving attitude of her owner, who clearly adored her.

Johnsey takes the story a step further, however, into what Keiko taught him about living each day to its fullest and making every moment count.

He also tells of a turtle he rescued who became a pet and family member, and how the turtle discovered the world beyond his fenced courtyard. While some owners would see the digging under the gate as a nuisance, Johnsey took the role of an observer, discovering why the turtle wanted to explore its world and deepening his bond with this unlikely pet. The result is how much this turtle taught him about broadening his horizons, taking on challenges and never giving up.

A truly heartwarming story is one in which he found sea turtles digging their way out of the sand and making their way to the beach, encountering rocky outcrops and terrain that threatened their lives. Only the size of quarters, he watched and assisted without taking from their unique experiences and tenacity to reach the sea. There were stories of waves pushing them back, of imprints in the sand that swallowed the baby turtles, of rocky ledges with four foot drops, and much more - but their determination to reach the sea and survive was an amazing, inspiring story.

There are many of these stories in which Johnsey observed animal behavior and applied their attitude, problem-solving and tenacity to our own lives, our own challenges and the worlds we make for ourselves. The result is learning how to excel in this life and perhaps, in the process, becoming the type of human that our pets believe us to be.

I highly recommend Climb That Fence and Take That Leap.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Angelfish Fry at Six Weeks

The newest batch of angelfish are now going on six weeks of age. I've lost no fry over the past 2-3 weeks, since separating their parents from the fry. This in itself is an encouraging sign, as it shows how hardy and healthy this batch is.

In the video below, you'll notice a sponge over the filter intake. This dramatically reduces the possibility of an angel getting sucked into the intake. As the smaller brine shrimp gets pulled toward the intake, it also allows the babies to eat the shrimp caught in the sponge without mishap.

I am now feeding them dried brine shrimp instead of freshly hatched, plus First Bites. As they get larger, they will be introduced to a high quality dried food (I prefer Tetra Color).

Monday, September 30, 2013

Introducing a New Angelfish

Last week I mentioned that Emmie Lou was quickly outgrowing the betta tank, where I placed her when she became the sole survivor of a batch of angelfish fry.

I decided I'd like to keep her, unlike others that have been placed for sale at my local pet shop. So the dilemma was where to place her. I have five angelfish in a community tank and four angelfish in a separate community tank. Though it seemed a no-brainer to place her with the four angels, they have actually become quite territorial. I was concerned they would bully or even kill the much smaller and younger Emmie Lou.

So I made the decision to place her in the 70-gallon tank with five angels. Of the five, I know for certain that two - the silver angel and the blue marble angel - are males. I know two of the koi angels are female. The third koi angel I believe is a male but I am not completely certain. I also don't know if Emmie Lou is actually a female, as she's too young to tell.

The video below shows Emmie Lou as she's added to the community tank.

When introducing fish to an angelfish tank, it seems that the existing angels ignore fish of other species. Introduce a new angelfish, however, and competition begins for the heirarchy, which can result in disaster. So there are several factors to consider:

(1) If the existing angels have established certain areas of the tank as theirs, it's best to redo the decorations. When decorations or plants are moved around, it results in everybody having to figure out which area is their territory.

(2) Females are much more easily accepted than males, who are more aggressive and territorial.

(3) Make certain there are no courting angelfish, no eggs laid and no angelfish babies in the tank. Parents are at their most aggressive during any of these situations.

(4) Make sure the new fish is disease-free by quarantining the new fish for several weeks. Since Emmie Lou was born in the Honeymoon Suite in my home (occupied permanently by Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick) I have been observing her closely throughout her young life.

(5) If possible, introduce new angelfish in groups of three. It prevents bullying by the more established fish.

(6) With small angels, make sure there are no fish of other species that can be bullies or fin nippers. Older angels can protect themselves more easily than small angels.

(7) Observe, observe, observe. Make sure there is no bullying going on and the new fish have places they can go to escape aggression.

(8) Feed the fish just prior to adding the new fish, or feed within 1-2 minutes of adding the new fish.

I introduced Emmie Lou to the community tank in the evening, immediately feeding the fish as she was added. The females showed more interest in her while the males immediately tolerated her. This could mean she is definitely a female... Or just such a young male that the older, established males don't see it as a threat. Only time will tell.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Newest Batch of Angels

The newest batch of angelfish are doing fabulous. They have doubled in size in just the last week, and they now have their distinctive angelfish shape.

When they are tiny, they tend to be transparent, which allows them to blend into the tank's seascaping and avoid predators. As they grow, the darker ones establish their colors first. The lighter ones go from transparent to white more slowly, and then they begin to get their black marbling or stripes.

Now that they are discovering there are no predators in the tank, they are leaving the safety of the gravel more frequently and venturing higher up in the tank.

Soon, they will be coming to the surface when I feed them.

The sponge that is covering the filter intake is there to protect the babies from being sucked into the filter. As small as they are, they don't stand a chance against the filter's intake. I remove the sponge at least once a week and rinse it off and reinsert the intake back into it. It serves as a biological filter as well.

I purchased the sponge from my pet shop; it was one designed to be inserted into a filter. But I simply took a pair of scissors and created a hole in the center large enough to fit over the intake. I suggest not using filters that are not specifically made for the aquarium industry, as you don't know if any particles exist in them that could harm the fish.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Meet the Parents

Yesterday I showed a video of Emmie Lou, a two-month-old angelfish. Tomorrow I'll show the latest video of the newest batch of angels, which are going on one-month-old.

Here are the parents of both Emmie Lou and the newest batch:

Lindsay Buckingfish is the Papa. He is about ten inches tall and easily the crown jewel of all my angels. He is a black marble with an orange crown.

Stevie Fishnick is the Mama. She is smaller, closer to 7-8 inches, and is a platinum angelfish with a golden crown.

Together, they have had numerous clutches of eggs. Their babies tend to look like Lindsay (black marble) or white marble - a white background with black stripes and marbling. Tomorrow, you'll get to see the latest video!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Latest on Emmie Lou

Emmie Lou is now nearly two months old and she is quickly outgrowing the betta tank, where she's been since she was very tiny. She is the sole survivor of a clutch of angelfish fry that started out robust but were quickly being culled by their Mama and Papa.

I've grown attached to Emmie Lou because she always come to the side of the tank I'm on and watches me with great enthusiasm. She backs away, however, when I place my iPhone next to the tank to record, but here she is in her latest video:

I have decided to keep Emmie Lou, and sometime later this week or next I will transfer her to a community tank where I have five angelfish and a variety of easy-going tetras and corydoras. I wanted to make sure she was large enough to fend for herself, though the tetras have never shown any inclination to nip at those beautiful flowing fins of the other angelfish.

However, if Emmie Lou turns out to be a male, I could have territorial issues. I know two of the angels in that particular community tank are male, but they tend to be much more peaceful than my other community tank, where two pair of angelfish have established control of opposite sides of the tank.

Keeping my fingers crossed that all works out!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My, How You've Grown!

The babies have been on their own for a full week, and I am thrilled with the results.

They have begun to take the shape of the gorgeous freshwater angelfish.

And they've begun to take on the colors they will have as adults. It's always fun to see how their patterns emerge, because each one is unique. This is at least the 6th or 7th batch of babies Lindsay Buckingfish (a black marble with an orange crown) has had with Stevie Fishnick (a platinum angelfish with a golden crown). The babies can emerge as black marble, white marble - or anything in between.

Here they are as they begin to leave the safety of the gravel and come out from behind the plant. If they had remained with their parents, they would have been corralled into the back of the tank behind the plant each time I came near. Instead, they are learning to trust me - and that food is always involved!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Torpedo Babies

I've learned that freshwater angelfish parents are needed in four stages of their offspring's development:

(1) Obviously, to lay the eggs and inseminate them;

(2) To keep the eggs from growing fungus. This is intriguing, as the eggs need constant fanning to keep fungus from forming. Commercial fish breeders often add chemicals to the water to prevent fungus, but I'd prefer to grow the babies naturally. And the most natural method in the world is when the parent remains near enough to the eggs to keep them fans by their side fins. Another natural method is to position an air wand or air stone beneath the eggs to keep them oxygenated.

(3) When the babies hatch, they are not strong enough to swim. So the parents are needed to move them to a freshly cleaned leaf or other vertical point such as a slate or even the tank glass. If they fall off, the parent remains near to gather them into their mouth and gently spit them back onto the spot they cleaned for them.

(4) If there are predators in the tank - other fish of any kind - the parents are needed to vigorously defend their babies. If a filter intake is not properly covered, the parents will also keep their fry far from it until they are strong enough to withstand the intake's current.

But if there are no predators in the tank and no possibility for the fry to be harmed, leaving the parents with them can work against the breeder.

First, the parents will attempt to cull the weaker ones - meaning they eat those they don't believe "stand a chance". An attentive breeder can often spot the weaker ones and give them extra food, as I did a particularly small koi angelfish who is now fully grown and very healthy (see the picture below of Alfreda.)

Second, the parents will become so protective that they teach the young fish to hide when I come near. That doesn't work out so well because when they go to the pet shop to be sold, nobody wants to buy a fish who is afraid of them. Plus, it keeps the fish in a constant state of fear, which is never good.

In the video below, the babies have just become separated from the parents (see yesterday's post). They still have their torpedo shaped bodies. But wait until you see tomorrow's post. You'll be amazed at how much they have grown in a short amount of time.

I especially enjoy seeing them at this age, when they travel only in schools.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Newly Renovated Honeymoon Suite

I wanted to separate Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick from their latest batch of babies before they began culling them - meaning before they began to decide who was fit to be their offspring and who was better off as sushi.

So I renovated their honeymoon suite, a 20-gallon tank directly above the Infant Tank but positioned where they could not see their babies.

In the beginning, they sulked. They clearly missed their babies and all the work that went into laying the eggs, transferring them to clean leaves to hang by their heads, and then vigorously defending them from me every time I went near the tank.

But I know the babies are much better off without their parents at this point. Tomorrow, learn why.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Friends - Lucy and the NBC Nightly News

Each evening I sit in the living room and attempt to watch the Nightly News with Brian Williams. Every night when Lucy hears his voice, she begins running around the living room, tearing through the house, jumping on the back of the couch, and running in circles.

Here's a video I took of her:

The other Jack Russell, Eddie, sits and watches her go crazy.

When the Nightly News goes off the air, she calms right down.

I wonder what it is about the NBC Nightly News that has her so animated?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bye-Bye Susan and Robert

Well, it's a bittersweet day here, as Susan Saranfish and Robert Redfish have found a new home.

These beautiful koi angelfish had become aggressive in my community tank and they needed their own honeymoon suite. However, though they laid eggs numerous times, none of the eggs had actually hatched. I tried moving them back to the community tank but they wanted the whole 60 gallons to themselves (not gonna happen) and I needed their honeymoon suite as an infant tank.

So the owner of my local pet shop, Carroll's Pets, agreed to take Susan and Robert. They now live at the pet shop in a special tank that says "Angelfish Not For Sale" so everyone coming into the shop can enjoy them. They are considered part of the personal collection of the shop's owner, Shelli. If you're in Lumberton, North Carolina and have the chance to stop by and say "hello" to them, I know you'd enjoy meeting Shelli and Carroll.

Now I have redecorated their old tank and it's ready for Lindsay and Stevie, who will be moved from the Infant Tank where their babies are growing (about two dozen at present). I think they'll enjoy their new digs, and it will give their babies the opportunity to grow larger and more independent without Papa and Mama around.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Meet Emmie Lou

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed the baby angelfish that had remained with Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick longer than usual were not faring too well. I moved the three remaining babies to a betta tank. Two of them passed away, sadly, within days. But one has not only survived but she is thriving.

I named her Emmie Lou because her white and black marbled fins reminded me of Emmie Lou Harris' long, flowing silver hair. I hope she is a female fish, because I intend to keep her if she is. Females are more readily adopted into a community tank by other angelfish, and there tends to be no aggression issues.

If she turns out to be a male and adding him to the community tank creates territorial issues, I will bring him to my wonderful local pet shop, Carroll's Pets, who will sell him. If he's placed with females, he would be quite happy.

In the meantime, Emmie Lou has more than doubled in size. I'll wait another couple of weeks at least before trying to add her to the community tank, since the angels in that tank are all quite large.