How To Set Up A QUARANTINE TANK For Tropical Fish

Thumbi West quarantine
Quarantine Tank - Photo   by beesalo 
Do I Need A Quarantine Tank?

Ah, yes, the often dismissed but very necessary part of the tropical fish hobby, the infamous quarantine tank.  Do you really need one to be successful in this hobby?

For freshwater fish, you may be able to get by without having one.  Freshwater fish are generally more suited to captivity because they are usually tank raised and don't seem to break out in disease as readily as their saltwater counterparts.  However, if newly acquired fish do come down with something, you will surely wish that you had one ready to go.  One newly bought fish that is introduced to your main tank can easily wipe out the entire tank population.  Better safe than sorry, right?

For saltwater aquarium keepers, I would say that you definitely need a quarantine tank.   Marine specimens are mostly wild caught and not used to being kept in captivity.  Their journey to a dealers tank is usually much longer and much more stressful for them.  Stressed out fish will usually come down with some kind of disease if they don't simply die from the whole ordeal.  Saltwater fish keepers will usually have other things in the main display tank such as invertebrates and live rock, that they don't want to expose to the harsh medicines necessary to treat one or two fish.  Some medicines can wipe out all of the invertebrates in a tank, so be sure to research any medicine before using it in your tank.

Quarantine Tank Setup

You don't need to go all out here.  A simple 10 - 20-gallon aquarium will suffice for most people.  If you have larger fish then obviously you want to get a bigger quarantine tank.  All you really need is a bare bones setup with the following equipment:

Some type of filtration (a hang on the back of the tank power filter will work, just use filter floss without the carbon since carbon will remove medication from the water, being counterproductive)
A powerhead and/or an airstone for increased surface agitation
Test Kits for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate
Fishnet - don't use the same net for your main tank

Fill the quarantine tank with water from the main tank and then turn everything on in the quarantine tank.

Freshwater & Saltwater Fish Quarantine

For newly acquired fish you will want to acclimate them to the water in the quarantine tank and monitor them very closely for a period of two to three weeks.  Monitor the water parameters with your test kits and check for signs of parasites or bacterial infections.

If the newly acquired fish does come down with something you will need to use the appropriate medication and you will need to keep them in quarantine for a further two weeks to make sure that you have indeed treated them effectively.  If after a few weeks no problems develop, you can then acclimate them to the main tank water and then introduce them.

If a fish comes down with something while in your main tank, just net them and plop them into the quarantine tank.  There should be no need to acclimate them because you used water from your main tank.  If you didn't use water from the main tank you will need to acclimate them to the quarantine tank water.  Diagnose the problem/disease and treat appropriately.  After the disease clears up you will still want to keep the fish in quarantine for a week or so monitoring the water parameters with your test kits the whole time.

More On Saltwater Quarantine

Always have some extra saltwater ready in case you need to perform an emergency water change.  Remember, you want to monitor those water parameters frequently (daily or at least once every two days).  Many saltwater hobbyists always have saltwater ready just in case.  You never want to mix up saltwater and add it right away.  Freshly mixed saltwater can be fairly toxic to fish, in turn causing you more problems.


Freshwater hobbyists may get away with not using a quarantine tank, but saltwater hobbyists would be crazy not using one.  Save yourself some money, headaches and especially the fish by having a quarantine tank.  The fish in your main tank will thank you for it.


IGUANA PETS and Care - Be Fully Prepared For Your Iguana Adventure

Rhinoceros Iguana
Rhinoceros Iguana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Iguana pets are really exciting animals to own, but there are some important things to consider before you decide to bring one home.

First, they require a very specific living environment. They are tropical by origin and require constant tropical conditions. The temperature of their living area must remain consistent, regardless of the temperature outside. If there is snow on the ground, your iguana enclosure still needs to maintain the proper tropical temperature.

Iguana pets need an enclosure at least 1.5 to 2 times their length. That may not seem like much when you are looking at a baby hatchling iguana, but they grow. They grow big. Iguanas grow about 12 inches per year and reach lengths that vary from 5 to 7 feet long.

You don't have to provide an iguana cage or enclosure; you can have a "free roaming" iguana. That does not necessarily mean you give your iguana full run of your home. You can still restrict him to a specific room or area; it just isn't enclosed like an iguana cage. There are many things to consider before you decide to allow your iguana to roam freely.

Iguanas like to climb. They are arboreal lizards in their natural habitat, which means they live in trees. They prefer to be up high so they can see what is going on below them. In the wild, this helps protect them because they can see predators and danger below.

Iguanas like to bask and sleep in elevated areas approximately 4 to 7 feet above ground level. This is accomplished by creating iguana "shelves" or adding "branches" to their iguana cages. These basking accommodations need to be sturdy so they can sustain the iguana's weight. As your iguana grows, you may have to adjust your basking shelves and branches.

You will need to provide lighting and heating equipment for your iguana. Iguanas have specific lighting requirements for different times of the day. As your iguana grows and increases in size, the lighting and heating equipment may require adjusting to accommodate him.

Iguanas are herbivores and have particular dietary requirements. Don't assume because your iguana is an herbivore that you can just feed him iceberg lettuce and be done with it. Iceberg lettuce does not contain the required nutrients for your iguana. There are very specific foods that your iguana needs to eat and in certain proportions. There are also some very specific foods you should never feed your iguana.

If you have heard the rumor that you should feed your iguana insects, mice, and worms, listen up. It is just a rumor, and it is totally wrong. While iguanas do require protein, it is plant protein, NOT animal protein. Iguanas may eat insects occasionally on their own, but you should stick to the required diet and refrain from feeding your animal the wrong foods. Your iguana might accept food from you from your plate, but that does not mean it is good for him. Learn proper iguana foods early on, and stick to a proper diet plan.

If you want to own an iguana, it is a lot of fun. They are very interesting creatures to observe. If you properly train and care for your iguana, he will be happy and healthy for years to come. Just be prepared in advance for the commitment iguana ownership requires. The iguana will need special lighting and heating equipment; a properly structured and furnished enclosure; a very specific diet; proper training; and attention from you. Know what you are getting involved in up front. A well-informed decision is always best so that you are fully prepared for your iguana adventure.


KRIBENSIS * Purple Cichlid - Pelvicachromis pulcher (Pelmatochromis Kribensis)

Kribensis * Purple Cichlid - Pelvicachromis pulcher (Pelmatochromis Kribensis)


Five steps to success with Saltwater CORAL REEF Aquariums

English: Rumphella aggregrata soft coral in ho...
Rumphella aggregrata soft coral in home reef tank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do you dream of watching the natural beauty of the undersea reef life while sitting in your living room?

Whether your goal is a nano reef tank or a 150-gallon aquarium with an ecosystem of coral and saltwater fish, the following five steps will lead you on your way to success.

1) Commit!  Decide you are going to spend the $$ it takes to make a proper go of it.  At a minimum, most tanks, (from 10 gals to 55 gals) take between $250 and $500 to get going.  Can you do it cheaper?  Yes, but usually not your first one.  You have to know what you are doing and understand how things can and will go wrong before you can choose less expensive husbandry options and/or equipment.  Save up if you have to, but count on that first tank being expensive.

Realize that this is not a short-term commitment. And as much fun as it is to collect the coolest coral fragments out there and show them off to your friends, there WILL come a time when you are hauling all of those same 'frags' out of the tank and into temporary storage when your six-year-old cracks the side of the display tank with a pool ball or some other calamity occurs.

2) Study!  Spend time on the internet, in books and watching nature shows on reefs BEFORE you get your animals.  Understand the animals that you are going to keep and how they interact with each other.  If you count on the LFS (Local Fish Store) or your buddy down the road to keep you out of trouble and don't do your homework. You will fail.  That is the one guarantee in this hobby.  DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

The only way around this is to be able to afford to pay someone else to set-up and maintain your tank.

3) Mingle! (see 2 above)  There are plenty of reef-keeping societies out there with lots of experience to help you along your way and teach you what you need to know.  As long as you are doing your own homework, they are usually happy to help!

4) Keep an open mind!  There is not just one way to keep a reef tank - no matter how loudly people on the various bulletin boards and forums out there might shout that there is.

5) Share!  It is amazing how much help people are willing to give when they realize that you are offering a particularly nice specimen that they have always wanted.  Equipment that they didn't even remember they had may magically appear or they might be willing to share a very nice piece of their own reef frag with you.

Trading frags not only is a great way to increase your variety, but it helps maintain genetic strains of corals (frags are also known as 'clones') that might otherwise die out in a single tank struck by the calamity mentioned in 1 above.


All About KRIBENSIS Cichlids

Proud family with 23 babies...
Kribensis - Photo   by    sapienssolutions 
The kribensis cichlids are some of the most preferred African cichlids. They are very small in stature. Unlike other cichlids, the kribensis are very peaceful. However, you should note that they become very hostile during breeding time. Nevertheless, they can be kept in a communal fish tank.

The fish species is found in West Africa specifically in Nigeria and Cameroon. Their scientific name is Pelmatochromis kribensis. The name is a reflection of their purplish color. Their habitat should have a lot of plantation and rocks which enable them hide easily. They prefer living in fresh water of around middle pH with a bit of acidity and a mild temperature.

The kribensis cichlids will feed on most aquarium foods. However, some foods with specs of meat will encourage them more in their breeding period. Their color is more pronounced in females rather than males. Therefore, they are easy to distinguish. Also, for the males, they have more color towards the back than the female kribensis cichlids. The tail will tell you this since it has some spots that are a bit dark.

The fish are a bit fun loving and very social. Placing them with other kinds of fish will not pose a danger to the others at all. Although the kribensis cichlids need more swimming areas, you should include rocks and more places to hide. They are burrowers therefore you should be adding more sand in the aquarium.

During the spawning period the female develops brighter colors. The belly in particular is turned to a bright red during this period. During the breeding period, the fish develop a higher degree of aggression.

The fish life span could surprisingly reach 5 to 10 years of age. To sway away predators, the kribensis cichlids have some spiny rays towards the back. Their bodies are structured in such a way that they have a soft and perfect shape. This helps them during swimming helping them move around without much effort.

During feeding, you should feed them on worms and insects. Flakes and pellets offer a good balance to their diet. It is advised that you feed the fish small amounts of food rather than resorting to feed them in a lump sum.

This will encourage them utilize the food and minimize wastage that eventually turns the water in the tank dirty. A funny fact about the kribensis cichlids is that you can keep a male and a female together in one fish tank. The two develop lifelong relations. In the event of death of one of the pairs, it's time to buy a new pair. This is because regardless of how many replacement you make, the compatibility is impossible.

When building their tanks, the tank should be able to accommodate between 80 and 90 liters of water. Since the kribensis cichlids are burrowers, include a larger amount of fine gravel. The substrate should be however free of quartzite substrates since they tend to interfere with larval development and may cause the death of fry.


Dealing With DISCUS FISH Disease

A Discus Fish In The Princess Of Wales Conservatory - Kew Gardens.
Discus Fish - Photo   by Jim Linwood 
Discus fish disease is one of the things you want to learn not only because you want to know how to deal with it but also prevent the disease from striking your fish. One of the most common problems among specific big cichlids including the Discus fish is having a hole in the head. Early detection and treatment is very important because the longer the disease exists, it can be the cause of death of your fish.

Even if the fish heals after the treatment, the wound can leave a permanent scar. Treating the wound while it is still small is strongly recommended. You can treat the disease by increasing the water temperature from 30 degree Celsius to 36 degree Celsius for a couple of days, 8 to 10 days is ideal. Remember that an increased water temperature should be combined with increased aeration to keep the oxygen level up. You can combine heat treatment with Metronidazole, this should be administered orally. You can give this to your Discus fish once every three days. If your fish is not responding well to heat treatment, you can just use the Metronidazole treatment.

Another Discus fish disease is gill fluke. This is very common among Discus fish and it is very dangerous for Discus fry. Gill Flukes are external parasites that destroy the gills and cause heavy breathing and irregular swimming. The affected fish can become totally paralyzed and can sink down to the bottom of the tank. 

You can cure this by using formalin. Infested parents can still spawn but when the offspring grow to about the size of a 10 cent coin, gill flukes transmitted by the parents can become a serious problem. Another form of Discus fish disease is being affected by internal parasites. The fish can have internal parasites without posing some serious threats but sometimes these parasites can grow uncontrollably and that's when the problem begins. 

Common symptoms include emaciation and white feces. While it can be difficult which specific parasite affects your Discus fish, a dose of Metronidazole usually clears the problem out. If your Discus can still eat, you can prepare a solution of 200 ml water and 10 ml liquid Metronidazole and soak its food in it for an hour. Feed your Discus fish with the medicated food every 2 days for a period of 10 days. If your fish is no longer eating, you would have to force feed it using a syringe without a needle.


Saltwater REEF Aquariums

Reef Coral - Photo: Pixabay
Historically saltwater aquarium owners have shied away from reefs. No one could understand why when these coral reefs were put into an aquarium the reef had a depressingly short lifespan. Now, thanks to some very persistent aquarium owners, fans of the saltwater aquarium's can enjoy the beauty of their very own coral reef.  There are reefs for every aquarium owner, from the raw beginner to the experienced professional. The saltwater enthusiast can now find the saltwater coral that best suits their abilities, whether they are a rank beginner or an experienced professional.

Zoanthus Coral is a wonderful choice for the person who is just beginning to add coral reef to their saltwater aquarium. Reef enthusiast finds that Zoanthus is a hardy coral that flourishes in most saltwater tanks. Zoanthus coral does not like to be fed a meaty diet and prefers to have its food finely chopped. Zoanthus Coral can be found in a variety of colors, many experienced saltwater reef aquarium owners like to use Zoanthus as a filer coral for their more temperamental varieties of coral reef. Zianthus is also called Sea Mat and Bottom Polyps.

Another good variety of starter coral is Cladiella, Cladiella is also commonly referred to as Colt Coral and Finger Leather Coral. The Cladiella Coral is renowned for is adaptability. Anyone interested in using Cladiella Coral in their saltwater reef aquarium must make sure that it is securely anchored or it will not grow.

Something like Siderastrea Coral.  Siderastrea is a soft coral, that is tolerant of light, temperature, changes in the tanks quality of water, and currents. It is typically tan or gray or white. Although it can occasionally be found in round domes the typical shape of the Siderastrea Coral is flat plates that can measure anywhere from 4-12 inches around. Pink Starlet Coral, Starlet Coral, and Lesser Starlet Coral are three names that commonly refer to Siderastrea Coral.

Once the saltwater aquarium owner becomes comfortable caring for his hardier varieties of coral they may wish to move onto something a little more challenging.

Fish and coral seem to go together, some types better than others. When an aquarium owner is looking to purchase fish they must consider the compatibility of the fish to the coral. It is also important to make sure that the fish you are purchasing for your saltwater aquarium is healthy. Take the time to examine their eyes, scales, skin, abdomen, mouth, and fins before making your final decision.

The eyes of your fish should be clear and bright. A cloudy film obscuring the eye could be a sign of an internal bacterial infection. A saltwater fish that has blotchy scales is a fish that is potentially dealing with an internal disease. Fish that have bruised mouths can sometimes lack an appetite, look for a fish with a firm unbruised mouth. Your potential fish should have an abdomen that is firm, and gently rounded. The fins should be crisp and clean. A fish that has scales that are ragged or one that's fins are starting to droop and sag.