Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Friends - Mattie Update

Those of you who have been reading or following this blog over the past couple of months will remember that Mattie, the foxhound shown here, had a close brush with an infection.
I'm happy to report that she is doing much better than anyone expected. She lost about 25% of her weight, so she is still on puppy food, which has the highest calorie content of any dog food. She is back to running and stalking the cats that live on the other side of the fence.
She will soon be 13 years old, which is ancient for a foxhound. We're lucky to have her still around. She is the matriarch to our other dogs, a collie and two Jack Russells.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Moving the Residents

Each week I remove between 25%-33% of the water in the angel tanks and replace it with fresh water. The last time I cleaned the largest tank, a 75 gallon housing five angels, about fifteen tetra, a dozen corydoras and a pleco and rainbowfish, I noticed something that didn't please me.

All of the fish except two were crammed into one end of the tank.

Taking up 3/4 of the rest of the tank was John McFish, aggressively defending the territory he'd selected to raise his young with Christy McFish.

Something had to be done.

Since the koi angels, Robert Redfish and Susan Saranfish, had not attempted to breed after I moved them to the honeymoon suite, they were returned to their original 55 tank. I then moved John and Christy to the 20-gallon honeymoon suite. They are completely alone there with an amazon plant and a vertical arch, both of which can be used to lay eggs. There are no living creatures with them (though I might move a snail into the tank) so they have nothing to defend against.

Christy is adapting quite well. She has always been very docile and easy for anyone to get along with, as most female angels are (except when they are defending their young.)

John is taking longer to adjust to the smaller tank.

Only time will tell whether they will try their fins at being parents.

John laid eggs many times with his original Christy McFish, a smoky leopard. Sadly, she passed away and he hadn't shown any inclination to woo another female until just recently when he set his sights on a sexy blue marble.

Here he is shown in another honeymoon suite with his original Christy, diligently tending to their eggs. However, he was very young and inexperienced and the eggs never hatched. They succumbed to fungus. Now older and hopefully wiser, he will know to fan the eggs continuously to keep any fungus from forming.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pipsqueak Littlefish 2010-2013

Pipsqueak Littlefish, the band manager, passed away sometime during the night.

I purchased Pipsqueak when his body was the size of a dime, the smallest angelfish sold. In my opinion, dime-sized angels are too small to be moved from their infant tank and the mortality rate among them is extremely high. The angels I have raised don't leave their original habitat until their bodies are well over the size of a quarter.

I named him Pipsqueak Littlefish and proclaimed him the Band Manager. I already had Mick Fleetfish, Stevie Fishnick, Lindsay Buckingfish, and John and Christy McFish. He had marks over his eyes that made him look like a worried little accountant.

I felt sorry for Pipsqueak. One of his ventril fins was bent and it eventually fell off. His fins were transculent and his body was more the size of a football than the elegant shape of the best angels. When I brought him home, I didn't think he would live.

But Pipsqueak surprised me. Not only did he live but he flourished. He was adept at hiding when he was young and resourceful as he grew larger.

He grew to be ten inches tall and his body was the largest of any angel I'd ever had - about the size of my palm.

I don't know why Pipsqueak passed away. He showed no sign of fin damage or discoloration, no puffy white cotton or any external damage. But he stopped eating a few days ago and seemed to have labored breathing. Adding vitamins to the water, which normally helps boost the immune system naturally to aid in healing, didn't work.

Sadly, I found him nose-to-the-gravel this morning.

May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Humble Beginnings

I began my fishkeeping back in the mid 1970's but as Life came at my fast I stopped keeping them and focused on more mundane things, like a family and career.

I began keeping fish again just about three years ago. A friend gave me a small tank, which was originally a community tank, then a guppy tank, and is now a neon tetra tank.

Long story but the fireplace in my bedroom can not be used as a fireplace so I wallpapered the inside of the fireplace with the same type of background one buys for the back of the tank. The screen actually looks like fish netting as it flanks the tank. And now instead of a cold unused hole in the wall, I have a living, breathing display of art.

A two inch clown pleco lives inside the log at the left and comes out at night to feed. I have a mix of neon tetra and glow tetra and four corydoras.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Electric Orange and Hot Pink Tetras

Last week I mentioned the electric green tetra that keep my angelfish company in the community tanks.

Then just a couple of days later, I received an excited phone call from my friendly neighborhood pet shop. They have just received their first shipment of hot pink tetra and electric orange tetra. Of course, I dropped everything and went right over. I left with three electric orange and six hot pink tetras.

This line of tetra comes from the white tetra, a very peaceful and schooling fish. The parents are injected with the gene of a coral in order to make the hot pink and orange colors. When they give birth, their offspring have the same colors as the parents, and the colors continue throughout subsequent generations.

Scientists originally developed them, along with the electric green tetra containing a jellyfish gene, to detect toxic levels of poisons in the water supply.

Above, they join other tetra in one of my angelfish community tanks. Below, some of them are shown in a different community tank I have.

I have one lone rainbow fish who I suspect thinks she's a tetra, as she enjoys schooling with them. The rainbow fish is the one to the right of the picture above. She has a narrow snout and a humpback, common with older rainbowfish. She is a boesemani rainbow.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Friends

Usually on Friday Friends, I talk about my dogs. But with springtime upon us, I thought I'd share a beautiful rose bush that is blooming just beyond my side porch.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Enticing the Honeymooners

Lindsay Buckingfish and Stevie Fishnick were laying eggs about every two weeks for several months. They took a break over the winter months. I've been trying to entice them to lay more eggs by changing their honeymoon suite periodically.

Angels will often breed when the temperature of the water rises. In their natural habitat, this heralds the summer months when the babies have a greater chance of survival, as food is more plentiful.

With two amazon plants in their tank now, everything is set for them to breed again. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Amazon Plant

By far, my favorite plant in an angelfish tank is the amazon plant.

The amazon plant grows in the angelfish's natural habitat. Its broad leaves are perfect for laying eggs and when the young hatch, they are often moved from one leaf to another. When they begin to swim, the leaves provide some protection from predators.

Amazon plants come in several colors. My angelfish prefer the red leaves over the green ones - meaning they will lay eggs on a red-leafed plant much faster and more often than one with green leaves.

The color can also be eye-popping. This is a new plant I just placed in one of my community tanks. The tank is about two feet tall so this plant is a pretty large one. (Each of the angels shown are 8-10 inches tall.) I chose to place this one in the middle of the tank as a visual barrier between two pair of angels.

When I approached the tank to take this picture, they thought I was there to feed them, so three of the four angels moved toward the center of the tank to watch me. This is one reason I love angelfish - they are very aware of what goes on outside their tank and will often follow me or the dogs from one end of the tank to the other.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Meet Mick Jaggerfish

Last week I introduced you to Hot Lips Houlihan, or (as I prefer to call her) Hot Lips Houlifish.

Today I'd like to introduce you to her much larger cousin, Mick Jaggerfish.

The tank in which Mick lives is 4 feet wide. So he is at least 15-18 inches long. (Compare his length with the tetras above him.)

He lives in a tank with more than a dozen tetras, about a dozen corydoras, and the crowning jewels - six angelfish. He doesn't bother anyone. Even though he is larger than anyone else, he is very peaceful and prefers to eat algae and vegetable-based fish food, though occasionally he will eat a shrimp pellet.

No one bothers him, either, even when the angels are breeding and become very territorial. He has an armor-plated skin that protects him from predators.

He prefers to hide during the day, usually inside this tree trunk or under another piece of wood in the tank. He comes out at night while the others sleep and he keeps the glass clean of algae and the gravel cleaned of old fish food.

There can usually only be one grown pleco in a tank, however, because the males can be territorial with each other. A male and female get along fine (as you can imagine) and will sometimes lay eggs inside a tube or log.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Impressing a Lover

Last week I mentioned that my silver angel has become very territorial, driving other fish away from a spot he selected as His.

Here is a video taken during feeding time. As other fish come into his territory, he drives them away. But notice the blue marble moves around as she pleases and he doesn't bother her at all. It's this cute little blue marble who I believe John McFish is trying to impress.

A male angelfish must show to the female that he is strong and capable of defending their eggs and young. There will be many who will try to eat both the eggs and the young and in order for them to survive, they must have protective parents.

But so far the female doesn't appear to be interested.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Friends - Baby Lucy

It never occurs to Lucy that I might be here for any other reason except to take care of her.

And in the evenings, she has her ritual of climbing into the crook of my arm and going to sleep. She is perfectly content, knowing I won't make a move to disturb her rest or peace. And when I am ready to go to bed, I lift her into my arms just like a baby and carry her to my bed, where I lay her down. She never opens an eye.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Plecos and Angels

I have a butterfly plecostomus in one of my angel tanks. Unlike some of its larger cousins, this fish hasn't grown very quickly or become very large. It is currently about six inches long and could grow to a maximum length of only seven inches.

It was originally so shy that weeks would go by without me seeing it at all. It hides during the day and comes out at night when the other fish are sleeping.

It has a suction-like mouth and adheres itself to the sides of the tank, cleaning any algae it finds. It is also a bottom-feeder who sifts through the gravel looking for bits and pieces of food that the other fish didn't get.

I feed this pleco (Big Lips Houlihan) sinking shrimp pellets almost every day. At least once or twice a week, she gets an algae wafer. And I also have a slow release pleco block which includes wood and plankton. Plecos need wood for their digestive system. The white specs on its head in this picture is from the pleco block it had just finished eating.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tetras as Angel Tank Mates

Freshwater angelfish can sometimes be shy creatures, especially when their environment changes, either through redecorating the tank or moving them to a new one.

Tetras, on the other hand, enjoy swimming in the open. So I enjoy adding tetras to my angel tanks as a signal to the angels that all is well and it's safe to come out and play. They have a calming influence on them.

The one in this picture is an electric green, fluorescent long-finned tetra.

These are unlike some tetras that gain their color through inks that are injected or dipped in dye - barbaric processes that kill many fish and compromises the others' immune systems.

So how did this fish get its fluorescence?

The process was originally developed by scientists who wanted to develop a fish that could detect toxins in the water. The original fish were modified by a gene from a jellyfish. To get other colors, genes from sea corals or other variants of jellyfish are used. The result is a breed that can reproduce fish with the same fluorescent colors.

The first fish to be introduced into the aquarium trade with this characteristic were GloFish, danios that had been genetically altered from their silver and black stripes to shades of yellow, green, red, blue and purple. Now they are becoming available in the tetra line.

My electric green tetra (I have six on one tank and six in another) originated with the long-skirted white tetra to which a jellyfish's genes were mixed. They get along great with other tetras and with my angelfish. They are very peaceful and tend to school. If you get any of these fish, you'll want to get at least three, as they become very shy when they are not with others of their own kind. I have them paired with other tetras so I have a school of 12 to 15 in each tank.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What's Up?

For the last two days, one of my angelfish has been acting rather peculiar.

John McFish (shown here) has staked out a section of the aquarium that happens to be right in the middle. He spends his time driving everyone else away from that region - the other angels, the tetras (who are usually ignored by angels) and even the pleco. His stripes are very dark, which shows he is at a heightened state of alert.

What's causing him to act this way?

Oddly, his actions are those of a breeding male. One who has staked out the best spot to fertilize eggs. One who knows he can defend the eggs and babies from predators. The dark colors intimidate other fish, because it shows he's ready for a fight.

The only problem is he doesn't have a mate.

There are several female angels in the tank. Maybe he's trying to impress them. I will be on the lookout for some mating in the upcoming days.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Can't a Mommy Get a Break?

I have found with my four rescue dogs that I am always in demand. It makes no difference where I am or what I am doing, they want to be in the thick of things.

Here's a picture of the bathroom door - the only room I can find peace and quiet in! Outside the door, the Jack Russells Eddie (the short-tailed one) and Lucy (the long-tailed one) wait for me.

Can't a mommy get a break?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Another Crisis

I made a habit when I am feeding all my fish to pay attention to the way they look and behave. Sometimes it's more difficult than other times due to the types of fish I have in my tanks.

The angelfish are easy to monitor because they are large, clearly visible (they don't hide) and they are uniquely colored so I know who is who. Others, like corydoras, tend to come out at night when the tank is dark. They hide during the day so I rarely see all of them at once.

I have around 14 corydoras in my largest tanks. I call them the Merry Maids of the aquarium world, as they eat food that falls to the gravel. They do not, as sometimes believed, eat fish waste.

While I was feeding yesterday, I noticed one corydoras had a growth on its side.

My first step was to determine if this growth was contagious. I have books of fish diseases (plus the Internet provides unlimited resources) and quickly determined that the growth was most likely the result of an injury. It was not contagious, though I continued to monitor all the fish.

I did not immediately dump medicine into the tank. That can do more harm than good. It treats the perfectly healthy fish and sometimes causes side effects that makes even the healthy ones ill.

If there had been a danger of it spreading, I would have removed the fish, transferred it to a smaller tank by itself, and administered the necessary medicines there. But because corys are very hard to catch in a tank with so many decorations and plantings, I did not want to disturb the entire population in an attempt to catch it unless it was absolutely necessary.

I decided to let nature take its course. I did, however, add Immune Plus and amazon extract to bolster the fish's natural immune system, just as I had done earlier in the week with a separate tank.

This morning, I found the cory dead. I removed it promptly and examined it. The wound can be seen clearly in the picture below.

I'll continue monitoring the tank and if others begin experiencing the same symptom, I will cautiously medicate as necessary.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

One Crisis Averted

The crisis with my angelfish seems to have been successfully averted. This video was taken about an hour after the water change and additives:

Notice they no longer appear to be gasping like they had in the earlier video.

I've kept their tank top open to allow more air circulation. Angels do not have a tendency to jump and fortunately the tetras and corydoras in the tank don't, either. I'm continuing to monitor their progress but so far all seems fine.