Is It a TOAD or a FROG?

English: A young Bufo marinus (Cane Toad). Dar...
A young Bufo marinus (Cane Toad). Darwin, Northern Territory (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is common for a toad to be mistaken for a frog or a frog to be mistaken for a toad. Both are, in fact, amphibians and they have similar body shapes to the untrained eye. The reality is that toads are different from frogs. Unlike most frogs, toads have dry skin, they have warts, they have crests behind their eyes and they have parotoid glands. A poisonous secretion is produced in their parotoid glands called bufotoxin. Bufotoxin can cause death in smaller animals and may trigger an allergic reaction in humans and other animals. Toads secrete bufotoxin to defend against predators, so you should avoid contact when possible.

Toads come in a variety sizes; the smallest being the Oak toad or Bufo quercicus that only reach a length of 1.3 inches, and the largest being the Cane toad that can grow up to nine inches in length. The Oak toad resides in North America while its relative the Cane toad lives in Australia.

A toad's diet and lifespan can vary as much as their size. Toads mostly eat a diet of insects and other arthropods but there are some species that feast on reptiles, small mammals and other amphibians. One species of toad, the Bufo bufo or Common toad can live up to forty years but most species only live a modest five to ten years.

Toads can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. Regardless of where they live they generally seek out the moist, open habitats of grasslands and fields. For those of you that enjoy gardening, a toad in the garden should be welcomed from a distance as they will eat harmful insects out of your garden.

Like frogs, male toads use a unique call to attract females for mating or to warn off would be male trespassers into their territory. After a successful mating, the female lays fertilized eggs that eventually hatch into tadpoles, which is also the beginning of a metamorphosis from tadpole to toad. Unlike their parents, tadpoles can breathe underwater through specialized gills and they have tails to swim with instead of legs. The tail becomes smaller over time until it disappears completely while at the same time it begins to grow legs and lose its gills and develop lungs. Although not all toads have a tadpole stage, they all need clean, unpolluted water to reproduce.

During the winter, some species of toad hibernate. They do this by burrowing deep into the soil, just below the frost line. When the weather warms up they emerge to resume their toad-like activities as if waking from a good nights sleep.

Really there isn't too much difference between most species of toad and most species of frog. The real difference is between terrestrial toads and aquatic frogs. Aquatic frogs have long, strong muscular back legs utilized for propelling through the water and leaping from the shoreline into the safety of a nearby pool. Toads back legs are designed for short hops and meandering walks.


The SHEDD AQUARIUM in Chicago -Truly a Magical One

English: John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Il...
John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois in the United States.
(Photo credit: 
There are lots of amazing places you can visit in the United States. From the west coast to the east coast, you will find all the spots that can bring joy to your naked eye. The federal government of the United States strictly maintains its national parks, historical spots, amusement parks, etc. for the people and foreign visitors to enjoy it.

In every state, you have lots of options where to visit its heart-pumping sceneries. But, if you’re into the water or marine life scenery and actually don’t want to be in the water either, you should go to the city of Chicago.

Chicago in the state of Illinois is far from the coastal United States. Even though Lake Michigan gives a nice background for the city all year round, but you can’t hardly call it a sea or an ocean. Still, the city of Chicago keeps something like to the ocean that is close to home.

Chicago, popularly known as the “Windy City” is the home of the world’s largest indoor aquarium and it’s the Shedd Aquarium. The Shedd Aquarium is actually a gift of the late John G. Shedd to the city of Chicago, hence the name. After the Aquarium was finally completed and opened in 1930, although he never lived to see it, the Shedd Aquarium has sought to inform the general public about the marine world and for its preservation.

Inside the vast Aquarium and Oceanarium, you will find to a close of 8,000 marine animals that represents 650 species of reptiles, fish, invertebrates, amphibians, mammals, and birds from the waters around the globe. The Aquarium contains over 1.5 million gallons of water while the Oceanarium contains to a close of 3 million gallons of water so it’s like you’re under the ocean water.

Looking at the Oceanarium, you will find all the Pacific inhabitants, from beluga whales, white-sided dolphins, Alaskan sea otters and seals, to penguins. Watching these mammals in a recreated Pacific coastal surrounding is fun. While in the Aquarium, the 90,000-gallon Caribbean-like Reef in the central part shows a wide range of aquatic mammals that include sea turtles, sharks, and to more than 250 species of tropical Caribbean animals.

If you wish to visit, the Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium is open to all from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and selected holidays. If Memorial Day and Labor Day fall on weekdays, it’s open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. only. The place charge adults for $11, $9 to children ages 3-11 and free to children under the age of 3.

Access to both the Oceanarium and Aquarium on Mondays charge adults $6, $5 to children ages 3-11 and seniors and is free to ages under 3. Entrance to the Aquarium only is free on Mondays.



Aiptasia sp.
Aiptasia sp. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Aiptasia in residential aquariums will quickly be wiped out due to the wide adoption of Bergia Nudibranches now available in Canada. The key benefit of this amazing animal is that it only feeds on Aiptasia, accordingly making it a safe addition for the rest of the tank.

Aiptasia has been a sore-spot for home aquarists for decades. Thankfully, the Berghia is very small in size and can get into those tiny spaces, without harming coral or liverock. Nudibranchs are the only species able to consume the entire aiptasia, and therefore prevent aiptasia regrowth and spawning. Another benefit is that the Berghia are so small, they won't add bioload to the tank, or affect the quality of the water.

Berghia are quick reproducers too, due to their hermaphroditic nature. Mature adults can lay eggs every day. On a side note, you have to be aware that the Berghia feeds solely on Aiptasia, and for that reason must be monitored, as once the eradication of the Aiptasia happens, the creature will starve to death.

Berghia are very smart little creatures. They have sensory organs known as rhinophores thata are able to use chemicals to find the location of the Aiptasia. This means that Berghia can find even the tiniest Aiptasia, not visible to the naked eye, and wipe out the parasite completely before it reaches adulthood. Berghia are able to eat the Aiptasia successfully, because of strategies it employs to approach the Aiptasia without the parasite feeling endangered. This prevents the release of the tentacles and larva, meaning it prevents new reproduction from occurring. Berghia is also harmless to the other fauna and flora in the aquarium and primarily feed at night, which won't affect the beauty of your tank during the day.

Berghia coerulescens eats Aiptasia couchii - Photo: Wikipedia

What to Expect after the Introduction of Berghia
The recommendation is for every 100 gallons of water that 8 Berghia be introduced to the tank, for a moderate to severe infestation of Aiptasia. If there are only a few Aiptasia anemones present, it is not recommended to add Berghia to the tank, as it won't have enough food to sustain itself, and will starve to death. Berghia are a species of sea slug and need the appropriate environment to thrive and survive in. Keeping this in mind, there are some areas where this sea slug won't be able to help, such as if an infestation occurs in the tubing, powerheads, or the sump. These areas should be kept clean at all times by you, the reef owner to prevent the spread of Aiptasia.

How long will it take for Berghia to wipe out the Aiptasia infestation?
This primarily depends on how bad the infestation of Aiptasia is, and how many Berghia have been introduced into the tank. It should be assumed that for 8 Berghia, two to three months would be an appropriate amount of time. It's so important to not get discouraged if you don't see immediate results. Berghia need time to acclimate to their new surroundings before they are able to wipe out the infestation.

Caring for Berghia
There are many species of animals that are considered quite safe for reef aquariums, however, this is not always the case. Here are some species to avoid in an aquarium containing Berghia. Avoid any nocturnal species that hunt near the liverock, or coral, such as butterflyfish, filefish, wrasses, and some species of dotty backs. Other species which prey on Berghia include peppermint shrimp, coral-banded shrimp, and some invertebrates, such as the arrow crab, sally lightfoot crab, pom pom crabs, and emerald crabs. Aiptasia can consume Berghia if the sea slug is placed directly into its mouth. Therefore, take precaution when adding the Berghia into your reef tank.

In conclusion, nature has answered the Aiptasia infestation with a natural predator, the Berghia. As long as it acclimates to its new surroundings, it will eradicate the Aiptasia infestation, and keep the population under control. It is so important to keep the tank well cared for, to ensure the health of the creatures that inhabit the reef. With attention and care, the saltwater aquarium can be danger free of unwanted parasites, and be a beautiful addition to any home.


TIGER LOTUS - A Little Bit of Egypt in Your Tank

Photo  by Shashank Mhasawade 
Tiger Lotus is a fairly uncommon aquarium plant by comparison to some of the other kinds available on the market. Its full latin name is Nymphaea Lotus, a member of the Nymphaeaceae family. It is normally found growing in East Africa and South East Asian.

The ancient Egyptians used to extract perfume from the flower of this plant and it is popular for aquarium use. The white lotus of the flower is very beautiful, normally pure white although it may also be tinged with pink. The Egyptians used the lotus as a temple offering, funerals and were also commonly worn by women. Given decent lighting and good conditions, it will grow visibly daily although some sources regard it is a slow grower when compared to alternatives. It is normally found on ponds and marshes.

There is nothing special that is really needed to be successful with this plant in your aquarium. Co2 injections or liquid fertilizers should not be needed, although it will grow slightly faster under stronger lighting. Keep in mind the plant will grow to roughly forty-five centimeters and prefers warm, slightly acidic water. For the sake of the Tiger Lotus and your fish, it is important to make sure you keep on top of regular water changes. It is possible to trim the lily pads and just keep the underwater foliage without any negative effect on the health of the lotus if this would be easier in your aquarium.

Planted aquariums generally do better than non-planted ones for the simple reason that plants contribute to keeping the water quality at a high standard. They also compete with algae and cyanobacteria for nutrients which means they can aid you in keeping your aquarium clean. Many species of fish feel safer in a planted aquarium as it gives them somewhere to hide and is a closer resemblance to the natural ecosystem they evolved in. These factors contribute to the overall health of your fish.

Given the right conditions and loving care, Tiger Lotus is a good alternative to more common plants. One of the main reasons to consider using it in your aquarium is that it will offer the same benefits as other plants, but also grows some beautiful flowers. As long as you are attentive to any problems that may develop and choose a nutrient rich substrate your Tiger Lotus will reward you for a long time.

With live aquarium plants, you can overcome all the problems of a non-planted aquarium. You can improve the quality of your aeration, filtration, food and algae control. You can improve the lives of your fish.

    By Sean Norman
    Sean Norman is an environmental science student and freelance writer with a deep love of ecology.
    Article Source: EzineArticles


What The Fuss About FISH TANKS?

The most developed male

Fish tanks come in many shapes and sizes. It ranges from a small one-quart to a 55-gallon aquarium. The concept of fish tanks has changed over the years. It used to be viewed as a glass container for fishes, but now, a fish tank can also be viewed as an art or an aqua furniture. For some homes, fish tank has become a design piece of art that is placed in the living room. The focus is no longer the fish, a rather the fish tanks. These fish tanks can be designed to fit comfortably into a corner or all be recessed into a wall. Some fish tanks are built within the wall, framed by wood and appear to be a living painting.

And for some, the fish tanks are specially designed to feed into specific needs.
The materials used to build fish tanks have also changed over the years. The traditional material used to be glass. This is slowly replaced by moulded acrylic as the primary material. The advantage to using this as a primary material is that it reduces the breakage danger, and prolong years of enjoyment with your fish tank.

Fish tanks are not complete without its accessories. These accessories not only helps decorates fish tanks, but it also helps to keep the fish healthy and happy. You do not require a huge investment if you have only a few fishes in a bowl. However, if you plan to raise bigger and more fishes, then you certainly need more accessories for your fish tanks.

If your fish tanks hold 10 gallons or more of Water, then a water pump and filter will help to keep the water clean and moving. Otherwise, you would need to change the water frequently as they get it begins to get dirty easily. The water needs fresh air to be introduced constantly, otherwise, the fish will suffocate. This is where the air filter comes in. The air filter helps to keep the air floating through the water constantly.

A light fixture that attaches to the top of the fish tanks help provides light into the water; it helps to keep the fish from sleeping all the time. If you live in an area where temperate changes constantly, then you may want to consider installing the heater to keep the water at a constant temperate. This will help to ensure that your fish won't be cooked as the water gets too hot or, becomes lethargic if the water gets too cold. The fish tanks accessories are pretty standard. But if you have unusual fish tanks shapes, then you will certainly need a manufacturer to design and build the accessories.

Given all the accessories, these fishes still need proper care. How healthy and happy your fishes depend on the amount of time and effort you put into the care of the fishes and the fish tanks.


FRESHWATER AQUARIUM PLANTS - The Best Planting Techniques

Aquarium 60cm
There is nothing as spectacular as a freshwater aquarium with well-groomed live plants. If you have ever thought about incorporating live plants into your aquarium but haven’t done it yet – quit wasting time and get it done. It can make all the difference in the world. The benefits to your fish and the whole underwater environment completely out weight the extra effort it takes to care for the plants and their slightly higher costs.

Before you start, make a rough sketch of how you want the aquarium to look when completed. This will give you a simple plan when you go to buy the plants and a roadmap to follow when you begin the planting process.

One of the best planting strategies I’ve seen is to plant the taller plants toward the back of the aquarium and the shorter ones in front. This is a good technique to use if you are mixing plants that have different lighting needs. The taller plants can be used to shade any shorter plants that need less light.
These short bushy plants should be arranged to hide any unsightly equipment in the tank. Try to arrange them so they don’t look symmetrical in the tank. There’s nothing symmetrical about the way they grow in nature so don’t plant them that way in your aquarium.

When you start the planting process, make sure the tank is full. It may seem like it would be a lot easier (and it would be) to empty the aquarium to do the planting but that would be a mistake. You need the water to see how the plants will spread out in the water. You can’t do this with a dry tank.

Don’t bury the plants in the substrate below its crown. The crown is the area between the plant’s roots and the stalk. Be sure to place the plants far enough apart to let the roots grow properly. A rule of thumb is to separate them by the length of one leaf. Overcrowding causes the plants to eventually wither and die.

By John C Stoner - Article Source: EzineArticles


The 2 Things that you Should Concentrate on When DISCUS FISH Keeping

When talking about the health of the discus fish, there are really only two main aspects where great concern should be focused on. These two will dictate highly whether your discus fish will be able to spawn or let alone be healthy and live a long life. These two is the water where they live in and the food they ingest. Another minor aspect that should also be kept in mind prior to owning a discus fish is the tank mates that your discus fish will have. Generally, it is recommended that the discus fish should be the largest fish in the tank.

It has always been said that prevention is better than cure, so knowing what signs to look out for to determine whether there is something wrong with the tank or with your discus fish. To be honest, it’s much more bothersome to be treating illness rather than just plainly keeping a routine of maintaining a clean tank, at least you can put it in your schedule. Besides, keeping your tank water clean is just one of the responsibilities of owning an aquarium.

Imagine, what would life be if we don’t have air to breathe? Water is air to the discus fish. If your breathing in thick smog all the time then it’s a certainty that you would get sick, maybe develop cancer, or even choke to death in an instant. So, in maintaining the water of your tank, you not only need to keep it clean, but you also have to get the right pH levels and the proper temperature which will simulate the waters where the discus fish came from, which is the Amazon river.

Changing the water in your tank should be done at least once or twice a week. A partial change will also be good and it will require less handling of your fish. Changing at least a quarter to half the water in the tank will suffice as long as you have a good biological filtration system installed. In some cases, some aquarists would just add some medication to clear up the dirt. This though should not be done often.

As for their food, you should ask the store clerk what food they have been accustomed to. Discus fish can be picky so you need to ensure that you can, maintain the food that they usually eat. Make sure though to never overfeed your fish. The extra food will just become dirt inside the tank. For younger discus fish, you should feed them about four times daily, older fish only needs to be fed twice a day. Growing fishes need the food more.

Discus fish should also be fed live or frozen food from time to time. As they re carnivorous, this will add protein to their diet, protein they need to stay healthy. Usually, they would prefer bloodworms or shrimp brine.

To help keep the tank clean, always clean your tank two hours after you have fed them, remove the excess food right way.