CORAL BEAUTY ANGELFISH - Centropyge bispinosus

Coral Beauty Angelfish - Centropyge bispinosus



Centropyge bispinosa
Centropyge bispinosa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Coral Beauty Angelfish or Centropyge bispinosus are members of the family Pomacanthidae. This species is indigenous to the Indo-Pacific, from East Africa to the Philippine Islands. Most of the coral beauties made available for the aquarium industry originate from Fiji.

This fish lives up to its name. Their heads, upper body region, and dorsal fin are bright blue or purple. This primary coloration fades into yellow or orange transitioning into a shade of pink at mid-body. Thin vertical banding of the primary body color breaks up this transition. Pectoral fins are typically orange or yellow. Anal and caudal fins are blue or purple. All but the pectoral fins are frequently outlined in neon blue. This species is also sold under the trade names Twospined Angel or Dusky Angelfish.

This is an excellent choice for amateur aquarists who want to own their first angelfish. They have all the exotic beauty one expects in a marine angelfish. They only grow to an adult length of 4 inches. So you don't need an enormous aquarium to house them. They can be raised in a tank as small as 30 gallons. Most angels carry a moderate to expert care level (depending on the informational source). Coral beauties are one of the hardiest angelfish. These fish have an easy care level so they are perfect for novice saltwater aquarium owners. Regardless of size, most angelfish are labeled as semi-aggressive. This species is among the most peace-loving of all angelfish. They may pick on smaller fish or fight with similar looking species as they mature but they do not demonstrate near the instinctive territorial behavior of most angels. More experienced aquarists will enjoy the fact that this species is rated reef safe if it is introduced to a marine reef environment as the juvenile and is well fed as an adult. All of these factors make the coral beauty one of the most popular and commonly kept angelfish in home aquariums.

This is an omnivorous species. Juveniles are primarily planktonic feeders. An adult's diet consists largely of algae. You will need to supply your aquarium with plenty of cured live rock to ensure the general health of any marine angelfish. Coral, crustaceans, mollusks, and worms comprise the remainder of an adult's dietary intake. This is why you want to introduce this species to a reef set up when they are still juveniles. The trick is to get them accustomed to aquarium food and algae as their total dietary intake before they develop their adult taste buds. Feeding should take place 2-3 times a day.

Like most angelfish, this is a hermaphroditic species. They are born of indeterminate sexuality. They will then develop into females. In a population consisting exclusively of females the largest, most dominant fish will undergo a hormonal change until it transforms into a male.

Coral beauties are one of the few marine species that have been known to breed in home aquariums. Breeding is induced by the release of a gamete, or sex cell, into the water. The gamete's presence will make this species feel the need to spawn. Spawning occurs shortly before dusk in their natural environment. In an aquarium, spawning is just as cyclic. Spawning will take place precisely one hour before the lights turn off in an aquarium with a timer. The fact that breeding habits make the transition into captivity is truly phenomenal.

Courtship begins with the male dashing around erratically in a pre-mating dance. Once the female is attracted, the perspective mates will then begin swimming side by side. The two will then seek out the most turbulent area in the aquarium. This is generally found next to the power head. The male will rub his nose against the female's side. The female will respond by expanding her fins in a seductive manner and then dashing off so as not to be thought of as an easy target for the male's affection.

Once the courtship rituals are completed, the female will release a small clutch of eggs (usually 12-20) one at a time for fertilization. The eggs are left to float away. Juveniles are platonic feeders. Fry must be fed newly hatched brine shrimp in order to increase their likelihood of survival.



English: Floating lilies, the sun light showin...
Floating lilies, the sunlight showing its delicate petals structure and waxed leaves adapted for floating. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ponds could not be more exciting for the backyard gardener. Flowing water and the excitement of enjoying a balanced aquatic ecosystem is unmatched by traditional gardening. A key piece to pond care includes water plants. The purpose of this article is to introduce water plant care to the pond hobbyist.

The “season” for most water plants along the Central Coast is spring. Starting in March, you’ll begin to see water plants become available at local nurseries. This is also the time when you’ll need to prepare your pond for the coming “push” of growth. This begins with the removal of unwanted “trash” and “rotting” plant material. In some cases, some plants will be ready for “dividing.” You’ll need to prepare for new additions to your pond as well. Thinning out floating plants by removing larger, older material is a good idea; crowded individuals display less flowering and stringy, non-energetic growth.

Feeding your aquatic landscape is the next important step in care and maintenance. Aquatic plants have all the same nutrient requirements as the plants you’ll find in your garden. Fortunately quite a bit of nutrient required by water plants are met with ambient water soluble materials and fish wastes. That said, I encourage every hobbyist to apply fertilizer spikes or “tablet” slow-release fertilizers to their plants in the spring.

It is worth touching on pests and disease of water plants as well. Fortunately, water plants don’t have nearly the number of problems our landscape plants face. The best solution is to avoid buying or collecting diseased specimens. Inspecting and quarantining new introductions and relying on a reputable dealer is your safest bet.

Fungus problems tend to be the most significant issue facing water plants. There are several “plant dips” and treatments that will help to control fungus. The most common baths incorporate either the strong oxidant, potassium permanganate or aluminum sulfate. Concentrations and instructions for their use are enclosed with their packaging. but basically a solution is prepared and the new plant material emerged for several minutes. The plants are subsequently rinsed and placed. If you do nothing else with new arrivals, be sure to look them over carefully, trim off dead/dying material, scrape away snail and insect eggs and hose off vigorously before putting them in your pond.

When it comes to pests, there are a few to mention. Aphids can be a real challenge given that their piercing and sucking of plants above water (especially lilies) can cause trouble. Watch for the appearance of winged females in the spring when they descend from certain species of nearby trees. If you act quickly, small populations of their offspring may be washed off by a strong blast of water. There some species of flies and beetles that also prey on aquatic plants. In most cases, they can be treated by removing the affected parts of the plants.

Fish can also be a problem for water plants. Many folks are recommended to plant directly into planting baskets or in areas where fish cannot nibble at roots and foliage. There are certain varieties of plants that fish will not even touch. Water plants offer a really exciting complement to a pond ecosystem. With the right care, feeding and maintenance, your pond will exceed your wildest dreams and bring years of beauty and enjoyment.

Steve McShane is Founder, Owner and General Manager of McShane’s Nursery & Landscape Supply. Steve is a Soil Science Graduate from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and has his MBA from Santa Clara University.

Email Steve: steve@mcshanesnursery.com

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female Apistogramma nijsseni in mating colors
Female Apistogramma nijsseni in mating colors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
New World Cichlids can be found in the continents of North America, South America, and Central America. These fish make wonderful pets due to their unique colors, their interesting personalities, and the ease with which they may be maintained.

The angelfish is one of the most common New World cichlids. A South American cichlid, the angelfish is beautiful and queenly but needs very specific water conditions. Angelfish are generally triangular-shaped with long, string-like fins trailing behind them and sometimes a stripe or two across their backs.

Another common New World cichlid is the convict, so named because of its feisty temperament. Convict cichlids may be bullies but they can live in a wide variety of aquarium conditions and are easy to keep and breed. Convicts can be identified by their light blue bodies and the dark black, zebra stripes across their backs.

The Jack Dempsey is also a favorite among cichlid lovers. Like the convict, the Jack Dempsey can be moody, and as an adult, he can grow up to nearly a foot in length. Jack Dempseys are dark brown but males usually have splashes or dots of bright blue or green on their sides and humps on their foreheads. Jack Dempseys are easy to keep and need large open spaces as well as caves to hide in.

English: Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus), a popul...
Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus), a popular aquarium fish from South America.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the wild, North and Central American cichlids are found in rivers and lakes. Some lay their eggs in the sand of the river bottoms while others lay them simply on top of rocks at the bottom of the lake in which they reside. Some even make their homes in tiny underwater caves and tunnels. South American cichlids are usually found in water conditions that are more acidic such as black water regions in the Amazonian basin.

The aquarium requirements for these types of fish vary according to their natural habit. North and Central American cichlids are more adept at adapting to vary aquarium conditions but need good hiding places or caves in their aquarium for refuge. These should not be kept in any tank with a length of fewer than 48 inches.

The South American cichlid usually needs much more specific water conditions in the aquarium in which it is kept. The pH balance of the water needs to be quite low - sometimes as low as six - and the water itself needs to be very soft. Plants are popular with the South American cichlid, although certain species may cause havoc to underwater plants.

One of the best things about New World cichlids is that there are so many from which to choose. The variety available among these species of fish is simply astounding and there is always something new to discover. New World cichlid fish can be a joy to take care of and a delight to own.


How That BETTA FISH Became Your Finned Friend: The Origins Of BETTA SPLENDENS

Photo: Flickr - Gomagoti
Over the last twenty or thirty years, Betta fish have become increasingly popular pets in not only the United States (where their popularity of late has really boomed) but also all over the world. Our finned friends have begun to catch on big-time, but most people don’t even know where these little guys came from. The colorful, beautiful fish we keep as pets today have a history, and what a history it is. In fact, the Betta fish of 150+ years ago wouldn’t be recognizable as the same species today. Have I got you curious? Ready to learn the mysteries behind that beauty swimming back and forth in his 10-gallon tank on your desk? Alright, here we go!

As many of you may already know, Betta fish originated in Thailand and bordering nations, and were originally bred for fighting, not for show. In fact, roughly 150 years ago, Betta fish fighting was actually taxed and regulated by the king of Siam (Siam is now called Thailand, and is where the “Siamese Fighting Fish” title comes from). Bets would be placed on a simple fight between two little fish in which men might wager their money, homes, and even children on the outcome. Despite being an understandably opposed practice today, prize-fighting Bettas had relatively cushy lives: After a Betta had won a single fight, he was usually retired and allowed to breed thereafter.

It is also worth noting that these Betta fish fights were not (thankfully) to the death, instead the first fish to retreat was determined the loser. As such, the Siamese would breed these fish based on the “bravest”, largest, and strongest/most aggressive fish instead of the colors and flowing fins they are bred for today. In fact, the Betta of this time were generally dull-colored and flowing fins were seen as undesirable because they were easier for an enemy fish to bite it.

It was not until 1896 that Bettas began to appear outside of Asia, when a few breeding pairs were introduced in Germany, and not until 1910 did the species start to show up in America. Though scientist Frank Locke of San Franciso received several Betta Splendens, he thought he had discovered a new species when one of his fish had longer, red fins. In fact, what he was actually seeing was the first of a natural mutation in the Betta Splendens species that gave them more color. Since then, these fish have been bred increasingly for color, fin size/shape, and a favorable demeanor and raised to be sold as household pets, not fighters.

But it took some time to get here, and Bettas even today are continuously bred for new color combinations and such. What’s more incredible, is that the fish species really only has a few base colors in its genetic code, but combining these has produced the wide array of fish we see today.


Importance of Saltwater INVERTEBRATES to the REEF AQUARIUM

Riffbecken (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Simply put; No reef tank is complete without invertebrates. Invertebrates provide numerous benefits to the marine aquarium, the same way they do in nature. Algae and fish waste removal are two of the main benefits, however, there are countless others. In this article, we will discuss some specific groups of inverts and how they can help you keep your reef healthy.

The first group of inverts we will discuss are algae eaters. Algae eaters can help keep an aquarium looking clean and presentable during cycling, algae blooms and normal growth in an established aquarium. Nuisance algae such as cyanobacteria (red slime), brown diatoms, bubble algae, green algae and hair algae can all be battled with diet specific inverts. Select species of crabs, hermits, snails, sea slugs, sea urchins, and starfish can provide excellent algae control, as well as add color and diversity to the tank.

Another group of inverts to address are the detritus eaters. Detritus can be described as an organic matter that naturally occurs in the aquarium; some examples are leftover fish food and fish waste. Detritus can build up in the tank, dissolve in the water column and cause elevated levels of ammonia, which is the number one fish killer in home aquariums. To avoid this build-up of detritus, we can put invertebrates to work doing what they naturally do in the wild. Select species of crabs, hermits, shrimp, sea urchins, starfish, anemones and sea cucumbers can help keep detritus under control, therefore keeping water parameters in check and your fish healthy.

We have only begun to discuss the need for invertebrates in the reef aquarium. There are many interesting species to learn about, and many beautiful critters that can safely be kept with your fish and corals. A good mix of invertebrates can help you achieve a thriving, healthy aquarium with a 24-hour-a-day maintenance crew!



English: Two colorful female Siamese fighting ...
Two colorful female Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens), also called "Siamese fighting fish" or simply "Bettas"
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Does a Siamese Fighting Fish need a filter? The answer is yes and no. A Siamese Fighting Fish is a labyrinth fish, meaning that it is capable of removing oxygen from the air as humans do. So unlike most fish, a Siamese Fighting Fish does not need a filter to oxygenate the water in their tank. 

However, like most fish, a Siamese Fighting Fish has little tolerance for ammonia. Ammonia poisoning is a common cause of death in Siamese Fighting Fish, simply because not enough water changes were performed when necessary. Ammonia in high levels will kill a Siamese Fighting Fish but the levels before this are enough to weaken a Siamese Fighter's immune system, leaving them vulnerable to bacteria and fungus infections. And this is why a Siamese Fighting Fish needs a filter.

If you are not prepared or have the time to set water and do waters changes every couple of days, then you may need to look at putting a filter in with your Fighter. With a good established biological filter in your fighter tank, water changes may be cut by more than half. Note established biologically. This is not something that happens overnight or as soon as you turn your filter on. A good filter will work three ways in your tank, mechanical, chemical and biological.

Once you have set your filter up in your tank and turned it on the mechanical, which pulls debris into the filter starts working as well as the chemical aspect, removing certain, not all chemical and metals from the water. However, it is the biological aspect that confuses most people.

Biological refers to the good bacteria necessary to break down fish waste, leftover food, and other decaying matter. And there is only one way to get instant bacteria in a new filter, and that is by putting either sponges, bio-balls or filter wool from a filter that is already established into the new filter.

A simple water test will tell you if the filter is established or not. If the ammonia and nitrite readings are zero and there is a nitrate reading then the filter is established and some of its filter media may be used to seed the new filter. However, if there is any reading in either or both the ammonia and nitrite tests, then the filter is not fully established and not ready to seed a new filter. If asked some Local Pet Shops will sell you some of their filter media to seed your new filter if you do not have an established filter at home.

You can establish biological in your filter from scratch, which can take from six weeks to six months depending on the method you use. But using your Siamese Fighting Fish is not a good idea at all. There is a good chance that your Fighter will not survive the cycling process, even with the help of live bacteria cultures that are available on the market today. While this information may sound daunting, time-consuming or simply too difficult, ask yourself which do you prefer, water changes every couple of days or water changes when then nitrate reading is 20 (which depending on the size of your tank, filter and how you feed maybe once a fortnight or month)?

Your Siamese Fighting Fish will be happier and his immune system better with an established filter in his tank, providing him with cleaner water for longer. Just watch that the current produced by the filter is not too fast for his long flowing fins. If your Siamese Fighting Fish suddenly goes into hiding, then you will need to slow the water flow down. This can be achieved by either controlling the output of the filter or using a spray bar to diffuse the water over a larger area.

The last important thing to remember with filters is that when you rinse them out when you do a water change, DO NOT USE WATER FROM THE TAP. Councils adds chlorine to our water to kill bacteria and this is what will happen to the good bacteria that you need in your filter. Rinse your filter out in water from your tank and by doing so save the bacteria that you need.