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.