How To check The Sex of DISCUS FISH

Discus 02
Photo by wplynn
Among the biggest question asked of the discus breeder is "how do I determine the sex of my fish?"

There are very few easy identifiable identifiers in this process.  Here, we will discuss the methods used by some of the top breeders.

In juvenile fish, determining sex is almost impossible.  It is only when they begin to pair off that an opportunity arises to help in the determination of sex. Juvenile fish, both male and female, have a rounded dorsal fin, and it is not until they begin to mature that a difference can be found.  As it is never wise to excessively handle the fish, close observation is in order to aid the breeder.

In Allnut Enterprises' King Discus Hatchery, for instance, it is an easy process to determine who is who, as we have observed these fish for a while, and can determine the sex of the pairs we own. This would be true in any hatchery. But to the uninitiated or casual observer, this would not be easy to do.

A few of the identifiers: The male will have thicker lips to aid him in his fight to protect the female, and will be more aggressive. He will be larger than the female, his forehead is thicker, and we have observed that if the discus is a bit shy, the male will have a tendency to stay between the female and the observer.

The dorsal fin of the male will be pointed, and the female's dorsal fin will be rounded.  Note that in the juvenile discus, this is not apparent.

The breeding tube of the female, between the anus and anal fin, is broader and rounder than the male, and will have a blunt tip.  The male, in turn, has a smaller, sharper breeding tube.  Be aware that this is only evident during spawning, and should be closely observed.

It has been said that the male discus fish will tend to have a less intense color and more pattern while the female tends to be more colorful but with a lesser pattern.  I disagree because too many variables are in place here, so much the health of the discus, the water parameters, and feeding pattern.

In an interesting text by Jeff Richard, he discusses an article from Diskus Brief, a German publication, which reports a very successful way of determining the sex of a discus by using simple geometry.  Jeff reports, and I quote: "Picture a discus facing to your left ... you would be looking at its side. Find the Dorsal (Top) and Anal (bottom) fins and look where the fins slope down toward the Caudal (tail) fin ... make sure you're looking at the fins after they have curved back toward the tail.

The Dorsal and Anal Fins become (almost) straight after the fins curve down (or up) toward the Caudal Fin ... extend an imaginary line along this straight section of the 2 fins back toward the tail which just touches the Dorsal & Anal Fins past the Caudal Fin. These two imaginary lines should intersect behind the fish. The key to sexing the fish is where the lines cross the Caudal fin. If they pass through the Caudal Fin, the fish is most likely a FEMALE. If they miss or just touch the Caudal Fin, then most likely it is a MALE."  Thanks, Jeff!

Sexing Discus is difficult at best.  The easiest way to do so is to raise a group of at least six to eight discus, and allow them to pair off when ready.  It is a beautiful sight to see this happen and makes the hobby well worthwhile.

    Alden Smith is a published author and has been marketing on the internet for 7 years.  - Article Directory: EzineArticles


KHV- KOI Herpes Virus

English: From USGS public information leaflet ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
KHV or Koi Herpes Virus is a potentially deadly virus which has recently shown up in the Koi industry. The first outbreak was reported and confirmed in late 1998, early 1999 in Israel. Since then, outbreaks have been reported all over the world, in  Asia, Europe, and The United States of America. As with the majority of Herpes type viruses in the world, Koi Herpes Virus is believed to remain with infected fish for their full lifespan. Even Koi that was exposed to the virus at one point or another are considered carriers, even if they did not show signs of the virus. The mortality rate for fish exposed to the virus ranges from 60 to 80 percent.

When it comes down to it, any Koi is susceptible to the virus. The only real way to prevent it is to make sure that your Koi is never exposed to it. As long as you are knowledgeable about the disease, the chances of your Koi catching Koi Herpes Virus is substantially less.

Koi Herpes Virus Facts

Since the first outbreak in 1998, quite a bit has been learned about the virus. Knowing the facts about the virus may mean the difference between potentially infecting your pond, and preventing it.

Once a fish has been exposed to the virus, it will always be a carrier. Even with proper treatment, these fish will never be able to go to a new home. Sending exposed fish to a new home can potentially spread the virus to other fish. Likewise, adding new Koi into your pond could cause the new fish to get the virus, and cause a potentially higher mortality rate.
There is no known cure for the Koi Herpes Virus.
Stress does not cause the disease in any way. However, stress can cause the disease to have a higher mortality rate.
74 degrees Fahrenheit activates the disease. This is extremely useful information because it allows for quarantining and testing to see whether or not fish have Koi Herpes Virus.
The virus can be spread a number of ways, including coming into contact with infected fish, water in which infected fish swam in, tools used when handling infected fish, and so on.

Preventing Further Spreading Of The Virus

Once your fish has been diagnosed with Koi Herpes Virus, the only real way to ensure that you do not infect any other fish is to consider depopulation. Depopulation is essentially the elimination of your entire population of Koi. While this might seem harsh, it is truly the only way to completely eliminate the possibility of any other fish from catching the virus.

When purchasing new fish, it is a good idea to quarantine the new fish separately from your current population for no less than 15 days. Knowing that the disease is activated at exactly 74 degrees Fahrenheit allows you to expose your fish to the right conditions for the disease to show itself. Koi that live in the conditions for this amount of time and do not develop any symptoms will have a substantially less chance of having the virus.

It is important to remember that when you quarantine your new Koi, they should remain under total isolation. This means that you should not allow anything to come into contact with the quarantined Koi, especially items that also come into contact with your current population. Separate tools, food, and water should be used, and never under any circumstances, should the tools used for your quarantined fish leave the area in which they are used. Another important thing to remember is proper hand washing procedures when handling both Koi and Koi items within the same time period.



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)

Planting a koi pond is a challenge that offers great rewards. Not only will the flowers and foliage of the koi pond plants look attractive, but diverse plant life will help to achieve a healthy balance of nature as insects, frogs and the koi fish flourish together alongside the vegetation.

You may find some plants together with your normal fish pond supplies, otherwise, you will need to visit your local nursery and see what they have to offer in the way of suitable plants.

In the general scheme of things, there are many plants that are suitable for koi ponds, some of which will grow in the water, some that will float, and others that will take root in the silt or mud on the floor of your pond. Suitable koi pond plants may be categorized as:
o bog or marsh plants,
o marginal plants,

o aquatic plants,

o floating plants, and

o oxygenators.
Unfortunately, many water plant species are invasive in hot climates and they are therefore considered to be invaders. So check with your local forestry or water authorities and try, wherever possible to plant whatever is indigenous to your own region.

Marsh plants
Typical marsh-loving plants thrive on moisture and they will do particularly well on the banks of an informal koi pond. Some examples include ferns, irises and lilies. See what you can find.

Marginal plants
Marginal plants normally grow in shallow water, so they do well in the shallows of a pond, or on shelves that have been created for planting.

Water-loving grasses, reeds, rushes and various sedges will all establish themselves quite easily within a koi pond, but you need to be sure they won't take over the entire area. There is a huge choice, so be selective.

There are also many leafy marginal plants, some of which will flower. These include plants like water mint, water forget-me-nots, monkey flowers, water poppies, aquatic irises and many other species.

Aquatic plants
Deep-water aquatics live with their roots submerged in the water while their leaves and flowers soar heavenward. Like floating plants, they help to keep the water cool and clear by minimizing the amount of sunlight that gets to the water, thus preventing algae from flourishing.

There are quite a few aquatic plants including the yellow fringed water lily, the impressive Japanese lotus plant and of course, the good, old faithful water lily.

Water lilies are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful aquatic plants, many of which grow on the base of the pond or in natural crevices or containers below the surface of the water, sprouting leaves and flowers above the surface. Here you just need to be aware that koi often eat from the base of the pond and so might nibble away at the roots of lilies, in which case the lilies may not survive.

Floating plants
Floating plants do have roots, but these don't need soil or silt to feed them or anchor them. Sadly some of the prettiest floating water plants are banned in the US, including water lettuce and water hyacinth with its beautiful, pale lavender flowers. Just keep reminding yourself what a nuisance these plants have become.

Oxygenators are the plants that help to maintain the balance of nature within the water itself. They are submerged beneath the surface of the water and not only provide food for koi, but also give them a really good place to spawn.


The Four Seasons of a KOI POND

English: Fish pond in winter
Fish pond in winter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fish ponds, including koi ponds, come awake in the spring after a winter of semi-dormancy. As soon as the temperature rises above 10C (50F), your fish become more lively and your plants will begin growing again. This means that it is a great opportunity to do some upkeep - a spring clean - because you will not shock or stress your dormant fish. If you attempt it any earlier, you will upset your fish in their slumber and any later and you may disturb breeding.

You ought to take out any leaves that have fallen into the pond and dredge for some of the algae. Then clean your pond filter and turn your filtration system back on, if you turned it off for the winter. Test the water for any chemical discrepancies and treat any issues.

You should also add a broad spectrum medication for common fish ailments. Depending on the medication you use, you may have to replicate this procedure a week later or when the temperature rises above a certain degree.

This is when your pond is in full swing. Your aquatic plants will be flourishing as will the algae. You must keep the algae under control, which means dredging, netting and scraping. You will have to clean your pond filter more often as well. Check it daily and keep it working at full power. The cleaner you can keep your koi pond now, the less work you will have to do afterward.

Oxygenation of the water is a major concern in the summer because warm water is able to hold less oxygen than cold water. Therefore, you will need to keep your fountain working and your bubbler bubbling, if you have one.

If you do not have one, think about getting one. You fish and the blooming algae will be competing for the oxygen in the pond water. You can tell if the water is short of oxygen because the fish will be gulping air at the surface.

The warm water will not only stimulate your fish and your plants, but it will also bring parasites to life, so keep a keen eye on your fish' health and treat anything dubious immediately. Be on the lookout for fish rubbing against the sides or each other - scratching themselves, in other words.

Feed frequently. Your fish will have eaten very little in the winter and now they have to replenish their fat for breeding and next winter.

Autumn is variable, but the first half may be like the summer and the second half more like winter. Continue to feed well. As the trees start to lose their leaves, you must eliminate them from your pond water.

Drag the leaves off at least once a day or sling a net over the pond and skim for leaves weekly. If you have any pond plants that will not survive the winter, either take them indoors or throw them away; you do not want them rotting in your pond.

Life in your pond will slow down as winter progresses. You ought to feed less often, maybe only once a day until it gets to 10C (50F) and then discontinue feeding - your fish will be in semi-hibernation at this point. Remove your filtration pumps and your fountain and switch all electrical equipment off.

Put a pond heater in the water. This is a floating apparatus that keeps a small surface area from freezing. If you allow all your pond to freeze over gases will build up, oxygen will disappear and your fish will die.



English: Koi fish in the pond at the Gibraltar...
Koi fish in the pond at the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Summer is considered one of the best and more vibrant times for your Koi pond. 

Temperatures are beautiful, and you are more able to enjoy your pond then during the cold Winter months. However, by no means, should your maintenance drop during the summer months. Remembering a few things during the summer months will ensure that your pond stays beautiful and lively.

Higher Temperatures Cause Less Oxygen 

During the summer months, the oxygen level in your pond actually decreases. Proper precautions should be taken, especially if you live in an area where temperatures stay high for the majority of the year. If you witness your Koi hanging out towards the top of the water, and they seem to be gasping for air, this may be a good indication that your pond does not have a high enough concentration of Oxygen.

One way to keep oxygen moving in your water is by installing water features such as waterfalls and fountains. The more the water is moving, the more Oxygen is available to your Koi.  

If water features are not available, frequent water changes will give your fish the amount of Oxygen they need to survive. 

Watch For Evaporation

Higher heat will cause your water to evaporate at a much higher rate. Pay close attention to your water levels and do adjustments as necessary. Remember, you must remove all chlorine from the water you add. 

Summertime is Parasite Season

Not unlike other situations in life, heat brings on potential parasites and illness. The majority of parasites are not seeable by the naked eye, so instead, you must watch your Koi for signs of illness.

You may notice strange behaviors in your fish such as rubbing against objects, scratching, shaking, or shivering. Each symptom could indicate a different type of illness, so it is important to watch closely.

It is especially important to pay attention to your Koi if they start developing noticeable spots or changes on their body. They may also knock fins off. 

If any type of change is noticed, contact your local vet, pet store, or Koi dealer as soon as possible. While some parasites will cause little damage, some illnesses such as KHV or Koi Herpes Virus have a high mortality rate and should be treated as soon as possible.

Feeding Your Koi

To remain healthy during the summer, your fish will need food high in the types of nutrients that they need. During the summer you should feed your fish food that is low in protein at least one to three times a day. If your fish still seem hungry after feeding, you may want to increase feeding slightly.

Feeding your Koi small amounts of food at a time will prevent food from spoiling. If you feed in larger amounts, some food may remain uneaten, and it can spoil in a very short amount of time.  Fish will only eat what they need to survive and will leave the rest. Spoiled food can cause water quality issues if close attention is not paid.

Feeding your Koi actually causes less Oxygen content in the water. During the summer this can especially be an issue, as Oxygen levels deplete in high temperatures. You can remedy this by feeding your fish in the cooler hours of the day.

Summer presents a special time to hand feed your Koi. Children are out of school, and the weather is usually perfect for being outside. Get the kids involved as they will remember it for years to come.


Tips on Raising Healthy CLOWN LOACHES

A clown loach
A clown loach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Clown loaches or Botia macracantha are native to the rivers and streams of Borneo, Sumatra, and Indonesia. Their vertically striped bodies make them a favorite among freshwater aquarium owners. The striping consists of three wide, black vertical bands on an orange body. This configuration has also earned them the nickname of tiger loaches. Their mouths have three downward pointed pairs of maxillary barbels.

A barbel is a slender, whisker-like tactile organ. Maxillary refers to the barbel's location near the mouth. These tentacle-like organs houses taste buds and are used to search for food in murky water. Barbels are a bottom-dwelling species of scavenger fish like catfish and carp. Barbles and downward pointed mouth are what distinguish bottom dweller from other fish. The clown loach is one such bottom dweller.

Bottom dwellers, in general, make a good addition to any community fish tank. The scavenging of food from the aquarium substrate helps prevent harmful chemical build up in the water. Most bottom dwellers are peaceful fish that tend to keep to themselves. They don't concern themselves with what is going in the water above them.

The clown loaches you see for sale in fish stores are very young. They look so cute it is tempting to buy one and take them home. Make no mistake. This species is among the largest freshwater varieties available commercially. They can grow up to 16 inches long as adults. Take this into consideration before deciding to purchase one.

An interesting behavioral note: Clown loaches have a peculiar tendency to spend a lot of time lying on their sides. Don't be alarmed. They are not sick or injured. This is just their normal behavior.
This fish's native water habitat is neutral water (pH of 7.0) with a water temperature between 75-86 degrees Fahrenheit. Clown loaches are intolerant of poor water conditions. They are prone to develop ich if left in unsatisfactory living conditions for extended periods of time.

Like all scavenger fish, clown loaches are omnivores. They can generally scavenge enough food that has been missed by the fish above them to survive just fine. But food that sinks, such as sinking wafers will ensure they have more than enough nourishment to survive.

Clown loaches are egg layers. They are not known to breed in captivity. Attempts to do so have been mostly unsuccessful. There are a few instances where clown loaches have been reported to spawn in captivity. But this is a rare occurrence.

The clown loaches are aware enough of their surroundings to realize they have been removed from their natural habitat. As a result, they have higher stress levels than much other fish. A good way to help reduce their stress levels is by providing them with plenty of hiding spaces on the bottom of your tanks such as rocks and plants. Once they adapt to their new surroundings they will be just fine.
Clown loaches are a long-lived species given proper living conditions. It is not uncommon for them to live from 40 to 50 years of age. It takes them years just to reach sexual maturity.

Big Al's Aquarium Services, Ltd.


Colorful BALTIMORE AQUARIUM - A Must-See Scenic Spot for Tourists in Baltimore

English: National Aquarium In Baltimore
National Aquarium In Baltimore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The National Aquarium is the public aquarium which was founded in the year 1981. The National Aquarium is located in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore. The aquarium receives around 1.6 million people every year. The aquarium has a collection of 16,500 specimens of over 600 different species.

This is the most popular tourist attractions in Baltimore. This is one of the biggest aquariums located in the United States. The Aquarium is crowded on the weekends and holidays. The aquarium provides a dolphin show which is a favorite event for the children as well as the adults. The other popular event in Aquarium is the 4-D immersion theater. You can get the aquarium tickets with or without the two shows.

There are several exhibits in Aquarium such as:

  • Jellies invasion
  • Our ocean planet - new dolphin show
  • 4 D immersion theater
  • Animal planet Australia

Prior planning is required for visiting the National Aquarium. The aquarium offers several shows and events and hence the aquarium is always busy. Reserve your tickets during weekends and holidays. There are animals from different spices such as Australian animals, Amphibians, birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals and reptiles.

The animals in the aquarium are unique and children enjoy watching the animals. The exhibits of the aquarium began with small local animals but later the visitors are surprised with sharks, rays, and very large creatures. The hours and price for the shows get vary according to the weather and season.

The admission fee for an adult to the aquarium is segmented as total experience package dolphin show package and aquarium admission. The total experience packages fee for adult is $29.95 for the age group of 12 to 59. The senior citizens are admitted with a fee of $28.95. The children from the age of 3 to 12 are charged a fee of $24.95. (Please check here for newer information)