Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rainbow Fish

An observant reader of this blog noticed in yesterday's video (shown again, below) a fish hovering near the surface along with the angelfish - but it obviously was not an angel. The reader asked what it was, since it's humpbacked appearance was quite different from most fish.

It is a female boeseman's rainbow fish.

Most people think of a boeseman's rainbow fish as half orange, like the picture at right. However, only the males have those colors.

The females have a lateral line that is usually green in color. In some species, the older they get the more humpbacked they become.

Rainbows are great companions for angelfish. They are peaceful and are not fin nippers. I had six in this tank at one time: two males and four females. The one shown in this video is the last one still living.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Respiratory Distress

Last evening as I began feeding my fish, I realized one entire tank was in respiratory distress.

The video below shows what respiratory distress looks like: the fish are breathing heavily through their mouths (versus their gills) and have a tendency to hover close to the surface where oxygen levels are higher.

I sprang into action. As you can imagine, any delay could only result in casualties.

First, I checked the temperature of the water. It's possible a heater can malfunction and I wanted to ensure my fish were not cooking from the inside out. The temperature, however, hovered at 80 degrees, which is well within the right limits for angelfish.

Second, I changed 33% of the water. With my hose permanently connected to a nearby sink, it took just minutes to syphon out a third of the water and replace it with clean, fresh water. I had performed a water change just yesterday but today's water change wouldn't hurt.

Third, I added Immune Plus, which I always keep on hand. Of course I discovered this problem on a Sunday evening when all pet shops were closed so it always pays to have an arsenal of medicines on hand.

Fourth, I added amazon extract.

The Immune Plus and amazon extract are not medicinal in that they treat infections but rather they provide vitamins and the right water conditions for the fish's own immune systems to keep them healthy.

Within minutes, the fish no longer hovered near the surface. They continued breathing through their mouths for about thirty minutes before they began to breathe normally again.

What caused the problem? It's only a guess. I could have checked the nitrates, nitrites and ammonia levels but I didn't waste time - I knew no matter what the answer was, I'd still do the same steps I outlined above. Once the water settles and is circulated for an hour or so, I did water tests and all came back at zero.

Monday, April 22, 2013

New Babies of a Different Sort

I usually talk about my angelfish breeding on this blog, but we've had a birth of another sort at our house.

On our side door, I have a grapevine wreath with purple silk flowers. Though I have noticed birds around since the weather has become warmer, I didn't think anything more was afoot... Until we heard the tiny calls of newborn birds.

It turns out, a nest was built at the top of the wreath. Inside are these down-covered babies:

Needless to say, we've taken to using another door so the babies, parents and nest are given the privacy they need.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cat-Dog Monkey-Girl

I've come to the conclusion that Lucy (or Lucy Loo, as she is often called) is part cat, part dog, part monkey and part little girl.

She will often climb to the top of the sofa and wrap herself around my neck.

She will play by herself once she has exhausted the other three dogs - Mattie, Simone and Eddie. She'll throw her toys to herself, often tossing them around the furniture. She'll rush around the room, actually running sideways across the front of the sofa and loveseat, before climbing to the top, discovering where her toy escaped to, and rushing to grab it before it gets away.

We've never seen a happier dog.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hiding Places

I've mentioned in previous posts that I have some other types of fish in the community tanks with the angelfish. When a pair looks like they'd like to spawn, they are moved to their own honeymoon suite, as in the case with Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick or Robert Redfish and Susan Saranfish.

But when the angels are kept in a community tank, I provide a few hiding areas for some of the smaller fish - just in case they'd like some privacy from the much larger angels.

Corydoras, for example, prefer to sleep during the daylight hours. They become active at night when the angels are asleep. Plecos can also be quite shy, preferring to remain hidden until they are self-assured enough (or large enough) to know they are safe.

In each tank, I have a log where all the fish except the angels can go.

The angels, however, have never shown aggression toward any of my other fish. They will chase them away from eggs but the smaller fish are usually much faster and easily outswim the more sluggish angels.

The biggest challenge when placing other fish with angels is not whether the angels will bother the new fish - but whether the new fish will be tempted to chew on the angels' long, flowing fins. For that reason, I never place barbs with angels. I prefer tetras (except neon or smaller tetras, which can easily be swallowed by a grown angel) and I prefer tetras with long, flowing fins. They are the least likely to be tempted to chew on another's fins.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Angelfish as Restaurateurs

Yesterday's post, it turned out, was premature.

I awakened this morning to find that either Lindsay Buckingfish or Stevie Fishnick had opened a sushi bar during the night. All of their eggs were gone.

It turns out, angelfish will only eat their own eggs or young for two reasons: they are starving (which thankfully was not the case here) or they detect something is wrong. Either the eggs are malformed, they are showing signs of fungus, or the temperature has changed or something else in the environment has altered the healthy growth of their offspring.

This was the first time they had laid eggs on the arch. Not knowing if this triggered an unhealthy growth (or non-growth) of eggs, I kept the arch in the tank but added their red amazon plant. They have been scoping both out today and I suspect they will lay eggs again soon. Hopefully, these will mature and become another clutch of healthy angels.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Success in the Honeymoon Suite

About a week ago, I remodeled the Honeymoon Suite used by Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick. They'd had a red amazon plant in their tank but had taken several weeks' vacation from laying eggs and raising new angels. I thought it might help them if they had a change of pace so I placed this arch in their tank. It has a vertical surface (preferred by angels - they rarely if ever lay eggs on a horizontal surface) and it's nice and smooth.

Last night they were very busy! Stevie laid around 300 eggs and Lindsay was busy fertilizing them.

We have also had warmer weather here. Though they have a heater in their tank, they seem to want to spawn more readily during the warmer months.

Hopefully, these eggs will hatch in a few days and I'll have another successful group of baby angels!

Shown here: Stevie Fishnick, a platinum angel around 7-8 inches tall, with the eggs laid on the arch.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Blue Marbles and Blue Angels

Things have become interesting in the tank where two angelfish couples live. With the koi angels moved into the Honeymoon Suite, the blue marbles have staked out one side of the tank, where they have been diligently cleaning the leaves on an amazon plant. That is usually the prelude to laying eggs.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the tank, the blue angels have taken up residence. No cleaning on that side (yet) but it's early.

However, when it comes time to feed, they all move toward the center of the tank. Angels' mouths are in the center, which means they can feed from the surface of the water, in the water, or from the gravel. Mine have always preferred to get their flakes off the surface. I feed them TetraColor flakes.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dog Day Afternoon

As I was taking care of the fish tanks, I turned around to find myself surrounded by four sleeping dogs.

Here is Simone, the collie, asleep on the love seat in her favorite position - upside down with her hind legs splayed out.

At her feet is Lucy, the Jack Russell-Basset Hound mix.

You can see Mattie's feet at the left edge, and Eddie was asleep on the opposite couch.

I guess they thought fishkeeping was boring!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Feeding Pictures

Healthy angelfish will always come to the surface of the water to feed. No matter how they have staked out their territories, they gather together whenever they see me approaching the tank.

This tank also contains some fruit tetra and electric green tetra. They are larger than neon and glowlight tetras so they can hold their own with the angels. They are also faster than the angelfish because the angels' long, flowing fins slow them down in the water, so they can quickly scoot out of their way.

The four angelfish in this tank are each around eight inches tall and growing.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

And in the Second Honeymoon Suite...

Meanwhile, in the second Honeymoon Suite, the two koi angelfish, Robert Redfish and Susan Saranfish have been getting used to their new digs.

They have a bright red amazon plant on which to lay their eggs. There are two snails in the tank at the moment but when this pair begin to lay eggs, I will scoop the snails out so there are no potential predators.

The male has more black on his fins than the female in the picture at right.

I am hoping they will want to breed soon. I have folks waiting to purchase some bright orange koi angels, as they are quite rare.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Lindsay and Stevie's Honeymoon Suite

Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick have not laid any more eggs in a few weeks. Often, angelfish will take some time off from all that egg-laying and inseminating and child rearing.

But I decided to remodel their honeymoon suite just in case they were getting bored.

I've kept amazon plants in their tank, which is usually the surface of choice when egg-laying, as the broad leaves can hold hundreds of eggs. But angels will often breed on any vertical surface.

I added this arch to see if they might lay eggs along the side. It's a nice, smooth surface. As you can see, there is nothing else in the tank with them, as Lindsay (the male black marble, who is about ten inches tall) can get quite aggressive and territorial when he is protecting his young. Stevie (the platinum angelfish) is much smaller. They are wonderful together, very attentive and compatible.

So we'll see what happens!

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Tetra Tank

I usually use this blog to talk about my angelfish, but they are not the only fish species that I keep. I also have a smaller tank with neon tetras and glowlight tetras.

The log on the left is hollow inside, and I have a miniature Clown Pleco that lives inside. He (or she) won't get more than 3 or 4 inches long. I also have four corydoras and a couple of snails in the same tank.

I can't place the tetras with angelfish; the tetras are so small and the angels so large that they would easily be mistaken for food.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Friends - the Pack

I have four dogs and I am often asked how they all get along. They are wonderful together. I believe it's because I have been very cautious about the types of personalities I put together and I research breeds very carefully before bringing a new member into the pack.

Mattie, the foxhound, is the Matriarch. I make sure everyone knows her status by always feeding her first or when handing out snacks or treats, she always gets hers before anyone else. Females always have a higher status in a pack than males. And older dogs take priority over younger ones.

Simone is a female collie who is about five years younger than Mattie. She has never tried to exert any authority over Mattie but seems perfectly content to be second.

Eddie and Lucy are Jack Russells, though Lucy is most likely part Basset. Eddie has endeared himself to everyone else by grooming the others. Lucy is the youngest and she is always ready to play. Because they are much smaller than Mattie and Simone, antics that wouldn't be allowed with larger dogs are tolerated by the two oldest - such as an insistence to play that can be relentless.

Shown in this picture are Eddie and Simone.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Honeymoon Suite

About two weeks ago, I moved a pair of koi angels from a community tank to their own honeymoon suite.

I moved them because they had become very territorial. The female remained in one corner of the tank, often staring at an old filter intake I put in the tank when it appeared as if they were ready to breed. The male, however, didn't want anybody else in their tank and tried to run them off repeatedly. The problem is, nobody else had anywhere else they could go.

So when the last batch of babies left, I moved the pair to this tank to allow them space and solitude to breed to their heart's content.

Interestingly, they have not tried to breed yet. This is not uncommon, as they want to make sure there will be no predators and no surprises in their new environment before they start their new family.

I hope to have several batches of babies with this pair because they are so brilliantly colored. Koi angels are very rare and I am anxious to see if they can successfully breed as my black marble and platinum angels have been doing for some time.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Lack of Gravel

I was asked why my breeder tanks do not contain gravel.

The answer is simple.

When angelfish hatch, they are about the size of the head of a pin. As soon as they begin to swim, it's time to feed them, and they eat exclusively freshly hatched brine shrimp. It's the only thing that will fit into their tiny mouths.

All that brine shrimp pollutes the water very quickly. When there is a large group - angelfish can lay around 300 eggs, though all of them won't hatch - the tank can become very dirty very quickly. One of the keys to an angelfish's health and chance of survival is clean water.

By keeping the tank free of gravel, it makes it easy for me to clean it thoroughly without running the risk of sucking up any of the baby fish.

I learned this after setting up an original breeder tank with gravel (shown in this picture.) Each of these baby angels were about three weeks old when this picture was taken, and they are only the size of a piece of gravel. I was very careful with cleaning but it took much longer to clean than a regular tank because I had to go very slowly to make sure I wasn't harming any of the babies.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Angels Mate for Life

I mentioned in yesterday's post that angelfish can live to be ten years old and when they mate, they mate for life.

I have a silver angel named John McFish who is about two years old. When he was younger, he had a smoky leopard mate named Christie McFish. They laid eggs a number of times but they never managed to hatch. I even moved them to a tank of their own, where they laid eggs on an old filter intake (shown at right) but they were never successful at hatching them.

One day I found the smoky leopard had passed away. There were no signs of illness so her death is a mystery. I moved John McFish to the community tank and I introduced several females. One attempted to entice him several times, cleaning an intake or amazon leaves whenever he came into her vicinity. This was a clear signal that she wanted to mate with him.

But John McFish was never interested. He stopped eating for awhile after Christy passed away, but eventually got past his depression. But he's never wanted another mate. I suppose he is still in love with his sexy smoky leopard.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why Angelfish?

I was asked recently why I selected angelfish when there are thousands of types of fish available in the aquarium hobby.

The answer is an easy one.

Angelfish are unique. Take a dozen tetra and it is difficult to tell one from another. But take a dozen angelfish and no two look alike. They are different sizes and have various colors and markings.

Once you realize you can tell one from another, it's easy to watch the behavior of each one. And by watching their behavior, you learn their unique personalities.

Yes, angelfish have personalities. Some are shy and others are outgoing. Some prefer to be alone while others want to emerge as leader. They can live to the age of ten years and when they mate, they mate for life. If one of the pair passes away, the other will often grieve themselves to death.