What is a PLECO?

Plecostomus - Photo: Flickr
The suckermouth catfish was named Acipenser plecostomus in 1758.
A pleco fish is a bottom-feeding/algae-eating fish typically acquired for freshwater aquariums originally from South America.

They are those "sucker fish".
Plecos prefer warmer water and are pretty self-sufficient.
They eat the green algae in the tank and excess food off the bottom that the other fish can't or don't.
They clean when you don't want to.

One of the girls at the pet store loved them, one hated them.

Well, the girl that loved them loved them for all the reasons I mentioned above plus they are laid back fish...They'll find a small crevice or spot to hide during daylight and chill out. Then, they'll come out at night and clean/eat but keep to themselves.

The girl that hated them found that they grow very quickly and "when they poop, the pieces are long and stringy that float around the tank".

The first girl never felt she had this problem with her plecos at home.
Personally, I went home to ponder these dilemmas, as I was preparing for a trip away from home for 1.5 weeks.

What Did I Do?
I got 1 very small pleco, the smallest one I could find, to assist with the cleaning of the tank while I was away.

Apparently, my mother says the tank looks immaculate...although I only have 1 goldfish in the 10-gallon tank with it.

* By The Way: The pleco did a wonderful job...no algae in site 1.5 weeks later! We named him Mr Klean - Yes, another "K" name...LOL!

Loaches, also bottom feeders, are an option but seem to bother the other fish in the tank, from my observations...They never stop moving around. They are "Old World" freshwater fish coming from riverine environments throughout Morocco and Eurasia.


Tips On Setting Up Your CICHLID AQUARIUM

female Apistogramma nijsseni in mating colors
Female Apistogramma nijsseni in mating colors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is not very difficult setting up a cichlid aquarium. This can be done by yourself with ease if you know how to go about the process.

The most important aspect is to choose the right sized aquarium for your cichlids. If you are a beginner, then it is recommended to choose a 20-gallon large aquarium. This will ensure that your cichlids have enough space to move around and do not fight with each other. It is also easy to maintain larger aquariums.

Fit a water pump and filter in your cichlid aquarium as fishes survive best in toxic-free, clean water.

Decorating the cichlid aquarium is an interesting process. Here, it is important to recreate their original habitat. Items you can put into the aquarium include limestone, sand, gravel, flat stones, mini caves, hardy plants, overturned flower pots and structures that can act as a hideout for your cichlids. Apart from enhancing the decor, flat stones are used by cichlids to lay eggs and the PH level of water is neutralized by sand and gravel.

Choose a cichlid aquarium with a lid. Being very aggressive, there are chances of cichlids jumping out of the aquarium. Be sure to leave enough opening for an exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Keep your cichlid aquariums in a permanent place preferably away from any heat source including direct sunlight as heat is bad for them. As far as possible, do not move them around too much.

To ensure that cichlids are not affected by the temperature in your area, it is a good idea installing a water heater inside the aquarium. This will keep the tank temperature constant. In order to allow for stabilizing of water and to ensure that chlorine has evaporated completely, it is recommended to wait for a day after setting up the aquarium to put the cichlids in.

Setting up the cichlid aquarium is only the first step. You must ensure that they do not fight among them and live in a happy and comfortable manner. Here are a few tips -

Begin with just a small group of fish or maybe with just one cichlid. In a new aquarium, it takes quite some time for the nitrogen cycle to run smoothly. It is therefore not recommended to crowd the aquarium initially.

Be sure to keep the cichlid aquarium clean and tidy. At least once a month, ensure that you clean it without using soap as soap can leave a residue that is toxic and harmful for cichlids.

Do not overfeed your cichlids as too much food can make them sick. Excess food in the water can also deteriorate the quality of aquarium water.

It is recommended to change cichlid aquarium water every day. Clean the filters on a regular basis and ensure a twenty-five percent change every week.

Mixing other fishes with cichlids must be done carefully. Choose fishes that live in the same kind of habitat as the cichlids to ensure that they survive.

A well set up cichlid aquarium can keep your cichlids healthy and happy. Life of your cichlids can be prolonged by taking care of safety, providing water of good quality and ensuring proper diet. Take the advice of experienced cichlid owners or do your own research to find out everything you need to know about cichlids before purchasing them.


Unpacking and Acclimatizing Your New DISCUS FISH

English: a fish of the genus Symphysodon
A fish of the genus Symphysodon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I often get a knock on the door and am welcomed by a carrier holding a polystyrene box covered in 'Fragile' and 'this way up' stuck all over it. My face will instantly light up and my hands rub together.

I'm sure you have or will be wanting to order discus fish from the internet or over the phone. If so, there are a couple of important factors you must first take into consideration. The main one is that you need to be sure you are getting quality fish, this may require looking at pictures of those fish and talking to the breeder or importer.

What I want to tell you about today is how to unpack and acclimatize your new fish.


You need to unpack one box at a time, don't go and open every box if you have 4 or 5. I know you want to look at your discus fish but please take your time. Take the lid off the first box and take one bag at a time out. Then open the bag, roll down the bag and float it in the water. Do this for the first box and then move onto the next stage.


Now the bags of discus are floating in the water, you need to use a little jug or something similar to gently pour tank water into the bag. You need to do this every five minutes for the next 30 minutes. This helps the fish get used to the difference in ph and water hardness. Then one bag at a time, tip the bag on its side and let the discus fish swim out in its own time.

Once you've done this for the first box then move on to the next.

You can also add some 'stress coat' or 'melafix' type of product into your tank. I sometimes do this and have had positive results with discus settling a little quicker.

Leave dim lights on and don't feed for 24 hours.

Your discus should then be settled in fine within a week


Tips on TIGER BARB Care and Spawning

English: A young tiger barb, Puntius tetrazona...
A young tiger barb, Puntius tetrazona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Tiger barb or Barbus tetrazona are members of the family Cyprinidae commonly referred to as Cyprinids. Their habitat extends through the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo. There are also scattered populations in Cambodia.

Their name is purely descriptive. Tiger barbs have an orange body with vertical black striping. Tigers are just one of over 70 species of barbs made commercially available by the aquarium industry. Selective breeding has produced a wide variety of color variations. Color morphs are green, gold and albino tiger barbs. The green tiger barb is highly melanistic. Their body reflects green over the black due to a Tyndall effect.

The tiger barb has an even temperament and makes for a good community fish. They are mid-level swimmers. Barbs do have a tendency to be fin nippers though. This behavior increases in bigger groups. Avoid mixing them with large finned species such as angelfish, bettas, and fancy guppies. They are a smaller fish. They only grow to about 2.5 inches long as adults. You'll want to raise them with similarly sized species to avoid waking up to one less fish in your tank.

Barbs are a shoaling fish. Shoaling fish are community dwellers. They instinctively travel in groups. Shoaling fish are ill-adapted to a life of solitude. It is recommended that you have at least four of any shoaling fish in an aquarium. Six to eight is even better.

Barbs thrive in soft, slightly acid water with a temperature range between 68-77 °F.

They are omnivorous. They can live out their entire life fed nothing but common tropical fish flakes. But a diet supplemented with pure protein will help keep them fit, vigorous and colorful.
It is not difficult to distinguish between male and female tiger barbs. The males are typically more colorful. Males tend to have more red on their fins than females. The male's nose will turn red when it enters into its breeding cycle.

Breeding Tiger Barbs
Tiger barbs can be induced to spawn when provided with the right conditions. Tigers typically breed in early summer in the wild. Turn the aquarium thermostat up to 77 or 78 degrees. You want them in softer water such as bottled water or reverse osmosis filtered water. You will also want to increase the waters acidity level to approximately pH 6.5. If these conditions are not conducive to your other community dwellers simply use a breeding tank to create a controlled environment conducive to spawning. You will also want to increase their protein intake by feeding them brine shrimp, bloodworms or meat-based frozen or freeze-dried food.

Tiger barbs are egg layers. A trait common to egg layers is that they will eat their eggs if given the chance. This can be best avoided by placing a layer of marbles over the breeding tank substrate. The eggs will sink down in between the marbles and keep the eggs safely out of harm's way. After the adults have spawned they should be removed from the breeding tank.

The fry will hatch in about 36 hours. They will be free swimming in 2-3 days. Once they are free swimming they can be fed infusoria or liquid fry food formulated for egg laying fish. Larger fry can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp. In about two weeks you will be able to change their diet to finely crushed fish flakes.

    By Stephen J Broy
    The latest trend among Saltwater Tank enthusiasts is raising pet jellyfish. Jellyfish need specially designed Jellyfish Fish Tank Aquariums. Jellyfish tanks are easier to maintain than traditional saltwater setups. Moon Jellies are the most popular jellyfish among home aquarists both for their exotic beauty and their ease of care. They have become so popular that two US-based websites are now tank raising them to meet the growing demand. Pet Moon Jellyfish look absolutely incredible under a fading LED lighting system.
    Article Source: EzineArticles


COPPER RAINFROG - Pristimantis chalceus

Copper Rainfrog, Pristimantis chalceus


Image by Andreas Kay
Join me in discovering the Megabiodiversity of Ecuador

Copper Rainfrog, Pristimantis chalceus

Image by Andreas Kay

Copper Rainfrog, Pristimantis chalceus

Image by Andreas Kay


MAJESTIC ANGELFISH - Blue Girdled Angelfish

Deutsch: Traumkaiserfisch (Pomacanthus navarch...
Pomacanthus navarchus (Cuvier, 1831) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Majestic Angelfish is an alternative stunningly colored member of the marine angelfish group. It is also known as the universal label, Blue Girdled Angelfish alluding to the blue girdle on its body.

Its scientific handle is Pomacanthus Navarchus and they are caught all through the Indo-Pacific seas and even Solomon islands. Thought of as a common large angel, they nevertheless command expensive prices. Juveniles can be obtained for as little as $80-$100 whereas adults typically fetch much more.

Like all members of the large angel family, juveniles wear a distinctly different color pattern than adults. Juveniles are the normal blue, black and white. But their real coloration will start showing themselves as soon as they attain a length of around 3 inches.

From then, their adult coloration will begin to emerge. Adults are very beautiful with a main yellow or orange on its middle body and tail. Also present on this patch are numerous blue dots that are wrapped up in a girdle of sorts. Thus, their common name, the blue girdled angelfish.

Although they can attain a length of 12 inches in the aquarium, this length is particularly rare with the majestic angelfish. As such, they are acknowledged as one of the smaller angels within large angelfish families. They are also one of the least aggressive in this family and usually only show hostility towards other tank mates of the same species.

In their habitats, they are grazers that will feed on algae, corals, polyps, and sponges. In captivity, they will graze on a wide assortment of foods that are both green and meat based. Ensure they are offered a balanced diet.

A good mixture of dry and frozen fish feeds are well suited. Freshly chopped seafood made up of raw squid, clams, fish meat as well as shrimp meat is great. A great pellet brand name to use are those manufactured by New Life Spectrum. Also, make certain they are given ample marine algae in captivity. Seaweed in the form of sheets can be purchased for this intention.


Choosing a Home for Your HERMIT CRAB

Four hermit crabs in an aquarium
Four hermit crabs in an aquarium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hermit crabs are a fascinating species of animal to keep as a pet. Like any other pet, a land hermit crab must have the proper care, environment, and food in order to not only survive but to thrive. A very important component of hermit crab pet care is the environment. If the hermit crab is not in a safe and healthy environment, it is nearly impossible for a hermit crab to stay healthy. There are three main components to the environment a hermit crab should live in: the tank and its furnishings, the substrate, and the temperature and humidity of the environment.

The first part of the environment of a hermit crab is choosing the type of tank and its furnishings. Glass or plastic tanks can be used as homes for hermit crabs. A 10-gallon glass aquarium is definitely a more than the adequate location for your hermit crab. Plastic tanks that are obtainable have lids and have become quite common and are usually available on the shelves of your local pet store. Any container that has a mesh or slotted lid does not retain humidity well, and therefore is not as ideal as containers with solid lids. Many pet stores will actually sell you a hermit crab in a small hermit crab kit, including a very small cage. While this small cage is ideal for a temporary home for your crab, it certainly is not appropriate for any type of permanent housing. These cages are far too small and cramped to be a permanent home. As was mentioned before, a 10-gallon size container is appropriate, but the bigger the cage the better. Also, take into consideration the number of hermit crabs you will be housing when considering the size of the tank.

Besides the size and type of tank, you will house your hermit crab in, there are a few things to include in the tank. In addition to the obvious food and water dishes, hermit crabs need "furniture." They are generally very active creatures and love to have toys to climb on. Artificial plants, climbing toys, and small logs are great ideas to place in your hermit crab’s environment. As well as having toys, a hermit crab needs at least one place that he or she can hide away in. A hollowed out and sealed coconut, small cave structure, or other shelters are encouraged.

Another part of the hermit crab’s environment is the substrate. A substrate is a material in the bottom of your hermit crab habitat. There are several different types of substrate to choose from. One type of substrate that is acceptable is fine-grained sand. Another selection you might make is a fine-grained gravel specifically sold for hermit crab substrate. The last option is a material made of coconut fiber, which is completely organic. Any of these types of substrates are completely adequate to lay in the bottom of your hermit crab habitat.

The final piece of the hermit crab environment is the temperature and humidity levels required for a healthy hermit crab. An optimal temperature in the hermit crab habitat is approximately 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is constantly measuring outside of this zone, a heater may be required to keep you crabby warm. Humidity is another important aspect of crab environment. You can use a humidity indicator to tell what humidity range your tank falls in. Generally, a humidity range of 70%-80% is the healthiest because hermit crabs are used to living in tropical climates.

Whatever combination of these options you choose, the keys to making sure you have a great habitat for your crab to live in is that you have the right tank and tank furniture, substrate, and temperature and humidity levels. Keeping your eye on these variables will give your hermit crab a great environment.