Saturday, July 31, 2010

Goldfish rules

  1. I eat as fast I can  and how much I can, ignoring bubbles that I swallow.
  2. I spend the whole day near my master, humiliating me and begging him for a few more food. You can put as much as you can, I'll eat everything !
  3. I eat more than I can swallow.
  4. If the food is chopped so I can eat without problems, I'll chew several times before swallow, I must enjoy this moment !
  5. If it's green, it must be eaten ! :)
  6. The shell must be eaten. If I can not eat it, I'll try to remove the food from it.
  7. If I'm not allowed to eat something, I'll eat it. Especially if it cost a lot of money!
  8. I'm always feeling like I'm on a diet.
  9. I always  check, maybe something remained undigested !
  10. If someone put his hand in the aquarium, I try to eat it.      
© by Decamio

Friday, July 30, 2010

Amazonian Biotope

     Best conditions for fishes kept in aquariums are to make them feel like they live in their natural place where belong, to create a biotope in your aquarium. Amazonian biotope may have black water, rich in humic acid and clear water, rich in minerals. Black water and clear water from the Amazon are flowing side by side on miles until they mix up. So Amazon can offer many types of biotope under the same name. Amazonian biotope with clear water shows a common area of mangroves in coastal areas where the river flows into the sea. 
     From the beginning you should know that biotope aquariums are not symmetrical, not strongly illuminated, we encounter dry leaves, algae grown on wood because this is normal in nature, therefore not everyone loves this type of aquascaping in the aquarium, being used with the perfect picture from the "sterile" aquarium. The best way to replicate the natural habitat is to use natural materials.

     In areas with black water can meet roots and branches submerged in water. In periods of maximum rates flood, waters cover an important part of tree stems so can meet even branches with green leaves on them. Black water can be obtained using JBL Tropol.
     When we speak of a biotope aquarium we  should reproduce the natural conditions of water: soft, acidic and dark. The darkness is caused by naturally occurring humic  acid.  The recommended pH range in an Amazon biotope  is    6.0 - 6.9. Some species will prefer even more acidic water, down to 5.0 - 5.5. When it comes to water hardness, the GH should be around 3 - 7 and the KH  2 - 4.

      Recommend fish species to grow in an aquarium with amazonian biotope are all types of small tetras, some catfish species (Whiptail catfish, Bristlenose catfish, Corydoras catfish), Hatchetfish, Pencilfish, Discus, larger characins (such as silver dollars) and Dwarf cichlids.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Xiphophorus Helleri

     Xiphophorus Helleri is original from north of South America and Central America. In the present about 1000 species are known (different colors, crossings, fin forms, eyes, other).

     Conditions. Withstand temperatures between 18°C - 28°C (64°F - 82°F) but is recommended to be kept in water temperature between 22°C - 26°C (71°F - 78°F), supports a pH water chemistry between 6.8 - 9, but it is preferable to be held in a neutral water with an average hardness ranging from 10 to 15 dGh, therefore is recommend that in the livebearers freshwater tanks to introduce a teaspoon of non-iodized salt to each 10l of water.
     This fish needs more space (minimum 90 cm length tank), being a fish with high metabolism, reaching considerable size even in an aquarium at maturity (8-14 cm). The aquarium should be well planted, rear and side, with a lot of swimming space in the center area and a few plants for babies to hide, because parents tend to eat their babies (this in case the female is allowed to stay in tank and not separated).
     It is recommended that these fish to be kept at least three 1m to 2f, but experts say the best is to 2m to 3f, it remains up to you how you choose to keep them and if you hold too many females or only females, they tend to  metamorphose from female to male (this male result is infertile). Some say that other values of pH and water chemistry may influence this phenomenon.
     Differences. The male is easy to distinguish from female because has the caudal fin extension in the form of sword or lyretail at veiled species. Males are generally aggressive especially with rivals, thus forming a hierarchy between them in which the strongest is privileged at females and first to eat.

     Food.  Xipho are omnivores (plant and meat) and when there is more plant material with a high content of carotene in the content of food, the red color become more intense.

     Breeding. They are livebearers, so it is fairly easy for them to breed. Males fecundates the females and after 6 weeks from fertilization  females give birth to babies fully developed, hatching being done in its belly.
     As a curiosity, Xiphophorus helleri and Xiphophorus maculates (platy female and xipho male) can cross  as shown below.

     Xipho's original form is green, so-called "green swordtail", but after repeated selctions appeared more color varieties (about 1000) of which recall the most common: xipfo red, red with red eyes, xipfo yellow, xipfo wagtail (black tail), red rot (golden tail and a golden longitudinal stripe on the body), red gold, red Tuxedo (halh black and half red), berliner (one color with black dots), xipfo neon, xipfo schwarz, rot albino, doppel, etc..

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The pH/KH/CO2 Relationship

Here is a rough table to help you determine how much CO2 is present in
your aquarium water based on accurate measurements of pH and KH.

Carbon Dioxide, (CO2) is a vital plant nutrient, and must be present in sufficient quantity in your aquarium for your plants to thrive. In order to use the chart below to measure the amount of CO2 in your tank, first measure the pH and the carbonate hardness in your tank, locate the values on the chart below, and where the two values intersect you will find the amount of CO2 in your tank. If the pH and Carbonate hardness measurements differ from those on the chart, use the values nearest.

The amount of CO2 present is expressed in milligrams per Liter. The green area represents CO2 optimum levels for the aquarium. High CO2 levels, yellow area, usually do not affect the plant life but are dangerous to fish. A planted aquarium requires about 1 gram of CO2 for every 25 gallons (100L) of water every day. So you will want a measurement of between 10 and 40 milligrams per quart or Liter.

The CO2 pH/KH relationship is a good guideline to get a generally reading of C02 levels, but it not exactly perfect. It assumes tested aquarium water has perfectly set levels of KH and pH which don’t vary. The ph/KH/CO2 Chart can help beginners gain a basic understanding of how much C02 they are injecting. It’s been a great tool that has taught many hobbyists how the acid affects pH levels, and how buffering KH can prevent pH from falling drastically. But in the end, it can only provide one a general gauge of their CO2 levels. A C02 drop checker is one of the best way to monitor your CO2 level.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How photosynthesis works at aquarium plants

     The unique function that plant possess is the ability to obtain energy from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water, using the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthetic cells within the leaves and stems tissues contain pigments that trap light energy to break down the molecular structure of water (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen binds first to carbon dioxide and then oxygen to form glucose, which is a basic sugar and an important source of energy. Some oxygen is left over from this process and is released back into the water, where it is either used up by bacteria and animals or released into atmosphere at the water surface.

     The glucose produced from photosynthesis is water soluble and, if stored in large quantities, will absorb water and enlarge the cells that contain it. Obviously, this is undesirable for plants, so the glucose is quickly converted into an insoluble starch compound and transported to various parts of the plant for storage, in most cases to the upper root area. The starch can be easily converted back into glucose and transported around the plant when needed.

     A plant has little control over the rate of photosynthesis that occurs within its cells. Higher rates of photosynthesis will encourage faster growth, reproduction and improved plant health. Light is the most obvious environmental factor, but temperature, carbon dioxide levels and nutrient availability also affect the rate of photosynthesis.

     Light. Plants will only photosynthesize when suitable light is available to be trapped by the photosynthetic cells. At night, plants stop photosynthesizing and only start again in daylight. In nature, most tropical plants experience about 12 hours of sunlight in a 24 hour period. In the aquarium, the same duration should be employed and in most cases, a bright light source is preferable. If the light is left on for a longer period, the photosynthetic period will also increase. This may bring its own problems. It is possible that plants will oversynthesize and become damaged by wearing themselves out.

     Temperature. In plants, an increase of 10°C (18°F) will roughly double the rate of photosynthesis, assuming all other factors are favorable. If the surrounding environment becomes too warm, the plant will simply begin to die and photosynthesis will stop. An increase in temperature affects not just photosynthesis, but the whole metabolism of a plant, so it also increases the plant's requirements for nutrients, carbon dioxide and other elements. For this reason, simply increasing the temperature of an aquarium to aid plant photosynthesis and therefore plant growth, is unlikely to work.

     Carbon dioxide. Plants take up carbon dioxide from the surrounding water and substrate. If CO2 is not available in sufficient quantities, many plants have developed ways of obtaining carbon containing compounds and creating their own source of CO2. This occurs more in hardwater plants (Vallisneria and Egeria species), which experience lower CO2 levels in nature. Plats that regularly produce leaves above the surface have developed methods of utilizing CO2 from atmospheric air, where the concentrations are much higher. Floating plants have constant access to the air, so it is easier for them to obtain CO2 from the surrounding air through the leaves, in the same way as terrestrial plants.

     Nutrient availability. The photosynthetic pigments, usually chlorophyll, are produced by the plant within the cells. To do this, a number of nutrients are required (magnesium, potassium, iron and nitrogen).

     Photosynthesis and leaf color. Chlorophyll is produced in the greatest quantities in the parts of the plant that receive the most light, mainly in the leaves. The roots of plants receive virtually no light below the substrate, so do not contain chlorophyll and hence, do not appear green. In an aquarium, looking at the leaf color of a plant can help to establish what kind of light is required by the plant. A plant that produces reddish leaves may be accustomed to bright light conditions in nature and will need the same conditions in the aquarium to photosynthesize properly. Sometimes, red plants first produce green leaves, which then change to red. if they stop turning red or revert back to green, this may indicate that the intensity of light in the aquarium is not sufficiently high.

     Some plants, particularly within the cryptocoryne group, produce brown leaves. These plants are often found in shallow streams with overhanging vegetation and may have developed the use of photosynthetic pigments that are more efficient at using the green areas of the light spectrum. These may be more abundant in an environment shaded by other plants. Therefore, plants with brown leaves should do relatively well in shaded areas of the aquarium. In many cases, brown - leaved cryptocorynes will develop green leaves when kept in brightly areas of the aquarium. This color change occurs because of the change in light spectrum from the plant's natural environment.

     Above, the mottled green-and-red leaf of an Echinodorus indicates that there are two separate photosynthetic pigments. In bright light, the less efficient red pigment helps to reduce the rate of photosynthesis, while in low light, the green pigment will spread and increase the efficiency of photosynthesis.
For more info see Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants by Peter Hiscock.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Marsilea hirsuta - an ideal foreground plant

Marsilea hirsuta, originally from Australia, is one of the most popular aquarium plants for the foreground and it is recommended for beginners to create a dense carpet. It grows slowly but it is easy to keep because is undemanding and can be grown in moderate lighting. Higher lighting and carbon dioxide injection improve growth rate and promote more compact growth. In the lower light situations it produces bigger leaves with a single lobe, very different from the emerse plant. No substrate or water special conditions are required (temperature between 18°C - 28°C or 64°F - 82°F, pH 5 - 7.5 and GH between 1 - 20 dH).

Marsilea hirsuta is planted by taking one to two-inch sections of rhizome and planting them in the substrate at regular intervals. There is often an extended adaptation period for submersed-grown stock, but once the plants are established, growth is steady.

Maintenance involves thinning out the mat of plants as they become too thick. This can be accomplished by carefully pulling up groups of runners and trimming.
Marsilea hirsuta can also grow emersed, bit it demands a very moist soil. Below is a picture of Marsilea grown emersed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Iwagumi - Art Of Aquascaping

Have you ever happened to be amazed by fabulous landscape in the nature and try home to rebuild the same view in your aquarium? But the construction of them remains the biggest challenge for a passionate aquarium keeper.

Takasi Amano is the initiator of the Iwagumi style. Based on Japanese gardening techniques, the word “Iwagumi” means rock formation and consist of three rocks, one main or large flanked by two smaller rocks, but not of equal size. The rocks should consist of the same type of stone. This term has been used for the first time in 11th century and comes from buddhism: the big rock is called "chuusonskei" (The Big Buddha) and the two smaller rocks are called "kyoujiseki" (accompanying rocks). Iwagumi style should give you a feeling of tranquility and simplicity.

An aquarium designed by Iwagumy style will usually consist of a single foreground plant (Eleocharis acicularis - Dwarf hairgrass, Glossostigma elatinoides or Hemianthus callitrichoides) and a single species of fish (rummynose tetras, cardinal tetras, or harlequin rasboras). The background should also only consist of one plant species. The rocks are the focal point in an Iwagumi aquascape. So always use plants that will not over power the rock formation.

Aquatic landscape Iwagumi it's not recommended for beginners, however can be the most beautiful and peaceful view encountered in the aquarium.

Do It Yourself Carbon Dioxide Injection

For those of you who have thought of using carbon dioxide (CO2) injection in your planted aquariums but have been put off by either the cost of available systems or have been unsure what the effects of CO2 injection on plant growth may be, then this article describes an inexpensive and easy to assemble DIY system that uses yeast to produce the CO2. The CO2 injection system consists of a generator which holds the yeast mixture and hardware installation which ensures the CO2 is efficiently dissolved in the aquarium.

Hardware contains:
- 2 litre plastic soft-drink bottle;
- airline tubing;
- bubble counter;
- valve;
- reactor CO2.

The CO2 generator is simply made from a 2 litre plastic soft-drink bottle, remove the lid, attach a siphon head and block it to stay open all the time with a toothpick. If you don’t find one, then drill a hole through the lid, force some airline tubing through the hole and seal both sides with silicone sealant. Ensure that this seal is airtight.

Connect the siphon head with the airline tubing. At the other side you connect the bubble counter, which you can buy it or improvise it.

After the airline tubing attach to the bubble counter you attach a valve, so the water from the aquarium not to drain in the 2 litre bottle. At the end of the installation is the reactor of CO2. The purpose of a reactor is to aid in dissolving the CO2 in the aquarium water.

The final step is to prepare the mixture which will produce the CO2. The recipe I use generate 1 bubble /sec. If you want more or less just increase / decrease yeast quantity.
What you need for 2 litre bottle:
- 5.5 water cups;
- 1.5 sugar cups;
- 20g gelatine;
- 0.5 teaspoon yeast;
- 1 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate.

Preparation. In ½ could water cup dissolve the gelatine and let it for 5 minutes. In a pot place 2.5 hot water cups and dissolve the sugar. Add the gelatine in the pot. Put the pot on stove and often mix. When the mixture get warm, remove the pot from the stove. It’s not good to boil because gelatine is destroyed. Add sodium bicarbonate and mix it well. Allow to cool until it can be poured into the bottle. Put the bottle in the fridge and let it for a few hours until the mixture become densely. After that take the bottle from the fridge, add 2.5 warmly water cups in which the yeast was dissolved. Connect the bottle to CO2 installation and in a few hours will start production of CO2.

In order to maximize the benefit of injecting CO2 it is important that you reduce any surface turbulence as this will quickly allow dissolved CO2 to escape into the air. The best ways to achieve this are to, turn of any aerators, lower any spray bars below the water line, direct the current to run around the sides of the aquarium rather than from top to bottom and/or if you have air driven under gravel filters extend the uplift tubes above the surface of the water. Optimally growing plants will produce more O2 and saturate the water with O2 better than any other method you can try.

An increased CO2 concentration will not displace dissolved oxygen (O2) from the water. It seems to be generally accepted that a concentration of 15-20 parts per million (ppm) is ideal for optimal plant growth and that CO2 concentration must exceed 30ppm before becoming dangerous to fish (although the pH drop caused by suddenly injecting this amount probably will).

The yeast system described requires some care and maintenance, but is an excellent and inexpensive way to experiment with CO2 injection. May your plants live long and prosper.

The "Golden Fish"

All the people heard about the "golden fish" and are able to recognize one in pet-shops, but there are lots of species, some of them are hideous, others very beautiful. Also, not all the species are compatible between them.

Temperature: 10°C - 24°C (50°F -75°F). If the water is under 15°C (59°F) they stop eating. More demanding species (oranda, veiltail, black moor, etc) need temperatures of 18°C – 26°C (64°F - 78°F), otherwise they will die.

pH: 7.2 – 7.6. On short periods of time a goldfish can resist at values between 6.0 and 8.0, but on long terms he needs a neutral pH.

Water hardness: doesn’t matter.

Compatibility with other fishes. You can’t keep a goldfish with other species of fish, not even with Ancistrus or Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi). Demanding goldfish species must be kept with other demanding species only, and not with common species.

Tank dimensions: 40 liters (10 gallons) per each. For 2 goldfish will be needed 80 (20 gallons) real liters, so the tank must have 110 liters (30 gallons).

Feeding. Goldfish specific food has less protein and more carbohydrate than conventional fish food. It is sold in two consistencies, flakes that float and pellets that sink. Enthusiasts may supplement this diet with shelled peas (with outer skins removed), blanched green leafy vegetables, and bloodworms. Young goldfish benefit from the addition of brine shrimp to their diet. Attention, overfeeding can be fatal, typically by blocking the intestines.

Life duration: 10-25 years.

Behavior. Goldfish have strong associative learning abilities, as well as social learning skills. In addition, their visual acuity allows them to distinguish between individual humans. Owners may notice that fish react favorably to them, while hiding when other people approach the tank. Goldfish that have constant visual contact with humans also stop considering them to be a threat. After being kept in a tank for several weeks, sometimes months, it becomes possible to feed a goldfish by hand without it shying away. Goldfish have learned behaviors, both as groups and as individuals, that stem from native carp behavior. They are a generalist species with varied feeding, breeding, and predator avoidance behaviors that contribute to their success. As fish they can be described as "friendly" towards each other. Very rarely does a goldfish harm another goldfish, nor do the males harm the females during breeding. The only real threat that goldfish present to each other is competing for food.

Reproduction. Goldfish are egg-layers. To provide an ideal aquarium environment for the fish to spawn, it is best that the water should be crystal clear and clean, fresh from water changes and the tank bottom should be bare without sands or gravel. The water temperature must be maintained cooler than normal aquarium setup for goldfish which is at least 2 – 3 degree Celsius lower than what you normally control in your tank. Their eggs are adhesive and attach to aquatic vegetation, typically dense plants such as Cabomba or Elodea or a spawning mop. The eggs hatch within 48 to 72 hours. Within a week or so, the fry begins to assume its final shape.

Varieties of Goldfish:

Common Goldfish - elongate shape, simple tail, dorsal fin, variety of colors including red, orange/gold, white, black and yellow or “lemon” goldfish.

Comet Goldfish - elongate shape, long and deeply forked tail, dorsal fin, metallic colors, can grow till 30 cm.

Wakin Goldfish - elongate shape, double tail, double anal fin, dorsal fin, only metallic colours (orange, silver or combinations).

Veiltail Goldfish – extra long, flowing double tail, dorsal fin,divided double anal fin, metallic or mat color. A standard veiltail goldfish has the tail formed of two triangular lobes , but the most variaties have the two lobes bifurcated. Can grow 15-17 cm. Can’t be kept in lakes because they die at low temperature. They aren’t good swimmers because of their long tail and is not recommended to be in the same tank with Common Goldfish or Fantail Goldfish.

Oranda – rounded body, double tail, dorsal fin, double anal fin, metallic or mat color, headgrowth. Usually is orange but may also be white with headgrowth red, black. Most appreciated are those with two triangular lobes. It is not recommended water temperature to be below 18°C (64°F) because at 15°C (59°F) they die. They are less resistant to diseases, especially those caused by bacteria. Can grow 17-20 cm.

Black Moor – telescope eyes, long double tail, dorsal fin, double anal fin, only black color, two triangular tail lobes. Can grow till 20 – 25 cm, being one of the largest goldfish.

Fantail Goldfish – long quadruple caudal fin, high dorsal fin, double anal fin, egg-shaped body and no shoulder hump. Can grow 15 – 17 cm.

Pearlscale – spherical body with fin similar to the fantail.

Lionhead – without dorsal fin, headgrowth, short tail, double anal fin. They not grow more than 10 – 12 cm, being one of the smaller goldfish.

Bubble Eye – without dorsal fin, upward pointing eyes accompanied by two large fluid-filled sacs. Not to be confused with telescope eye.

Ryukin – short tail, deep body with a characteristic shoulder hump. Can grow till 15 cm.