Friday, May 25, 2007


This is Nigel. He lives in our 56 gallon fish tank, along with 2 goldfish. This bristlenose pleco is about 2 inches long currently, and has a few more to grow. He has proven to be a very effective algae eater and doesn't bother our goldfish, which is nice:) He enjoys the algae that grows in the tank, as well as sheets of algae (intended for salt water fish), algae wafers, thawed blood worms, live brine shrimp, shrimp pellets, blanched greens and just about anything else we put in the tank. Lately at night he has taken to "climbing" up the filter outputs (emperor filters). I am assuming the ancistrus (bristle nose pleco) is eating the algae off of them. They are up above the water level so he makes quite a bit of splashing noise as he does this.

Popular aquarium fish because of their algae eating abilities, Ancistrus catfish can be found in many fish stores. They are often called bristlenose plecostomus or bushynose plecostomus. Bristlenose plecos (plecostomus) rarely grow past 4 or 5 inches in total length and usually mottled brown to black, sometimes shading to grey when stressed. Young sometimes have white spots on them. In my experiences with them the spots fade as they get older. Ancistrus can also be found in an albino form. As the bristlenose plecos grow their bristles start to form. They usually start around the edges of the mouth and, if male, will eventually cover the entire end of their snout. Female bristle nose plecos usually only have them around the edge of the mouth, sometimes they grow none at all. The amount of bristles also depends on species.

Bristlenose plecos (Ancistrus) eat a variety of foods but are mainly herbivorous. They eat algae, which is what has made them so popular, along with their smaller size. In captivity bristlenose plecos can be fed algae wafers, blanched zucchini and darker green letucces, blood worms, shrimp pellets, deskinned peas and a variety of other things. They should also have driftwood available as they eat a bit of it as well. The driftwood is thought to provide them with extra fiber.

While bristlenose plecos come from areas of soft water with a lower pH they adapt fine to a variety of water conditions. I know several people who keep them successfully in african cichlid tanks where the pH is 8.0 and up. Bristlenose plecos do require clean water and seem particularly sensitive to high nitrates.

From wikipedia:
Ancistrus is a genus of freshwater fish in the family Loricariidae of order Siluriformes. Fishes of this genus are commonly known as the bushynose or bristlenose plecs.
These fish are often kept by aquarists as they are dutiful algae-eaters and smaller in adult size than the common plecos usually seen in petshops. They are hardy animals, tolerant to a wide range of water conditions, breeding easily in captivity, compatible with most other freshwater fish, and come in many beautiful colors and patterns.

Links about ancistrus:,%20Plecoctomus,%20Bristlenose.htm

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Water Changes are important!

Many new comers to the aquarium (fish) keeping hobby seem to disregard the importance of regular water changes. Regular water changes are probably one of the most important aspects of successful fish keeping. It is not something to put on the back burner. Changing your carbon does not mean you do not have to do water changes for the fish. Getting a bigger filter does not mean you do not have to do water changes for the fish. Live plants does not mean you do not have to do water changes (in most cases). In fact, live plants also benefit from the influx of fresh water!

Many people also think that topping off evaporated water counts as a water change. Unfortunately it does not. As the water evaporates many things in the water do not evaporate with it. They are left behind in a smaller amount of water. This causes them to become more concentrated. When you add water to top off your tank (fish aquarium) you are simply diluting things back to the way they originally were. Actually things are probably even a bit worse because the fish will have produced more waste during this time. Salt is of special concern here. If you regularly add salt to your fish aquarium please keep in mind that salt does not evaporate with water. With each water change, top of the fish aquarium with fesh water before doing your water change. This will bring the salt level to normal, and will help you avoid adding excess salt. I also often recommend not adding salt every third water change. I have found this to be helpful in preventing "salt creep".

The benefits of water changes to fish are widely known. Fresh water boosts the fish's immune system, removes dissolved organics and wastes. It keeps your nitrates low. It replenishes trace minerals and nutrients in your fish aquarium. It can remove solid wastes from your fish aquarium if you use a gravel syphon. Water changes are wonderful!

I personally like to do weekly water changes on my fish tanks. I usually do around 1/3 or so, sometimes less, like a 1/4. Some people do monthly water changes and some people do them every 2 weeks. I have found that weekly smaller water changes work best for my fish and help keep my tanks going strong. I strongly recommend at least doing a water change every 2 weeks. Fish tend to react better to more frequent, smaller water changes than larger changes less often. If you have large dirty fish or a lot of fish in your tank weekly water changes are a must! Remember, water clarity does not equal clean water.

I have found the Python No Spill to make water changes on my fish tanks much more pleasant and a lot less work!
(my python)

I will add that in some cases regular water changes may not be neccessary. If you have a heavily planted (with healthy, thriving plants) and very low stocked fish tank you may not need to do water changes very often. However, the majority of people have too many fish in their tank to get away with not doing at the very minimum, monthly water changes.

Links about water changes:

Monday, May 14, 2007

Pterophyllum scalare

This is my Pterophyllum scalare (angelfish) Bull. He (fish) is about 4 or 5 years old now (as of 2007). This angelfish started out in a 20 gallon high tank, the size of a nickel or so. Within 8 months this proved to be to small for him (angelfish). Then he (fish) was upgraded to a 29 gallon tank, which he quickly outgrew. This gorgeous fish now resides in the 60 gallon and so far this seems to be enough room that he doesn't feel the need to eat all of his tankmates. His (angelfish) body is now about 4 inches long and 3 1/2 to 4 inches high. With his fins he is probably 7 or 8 inches tall, from fin tip to fin tip. He is a big boy. His mate (angelfish) is almost as big and is solid black. Bull (fish) has proven to be a bit on the aggressive side (hense the name, it stands for bully). He seems to have a strong dislike of the pearl gouramis, but I think the tank is big enough that they can get away as he only chases them, and hasn't actually done any damage.

Many people strive to keep Pterophyllum scalare (angelfish). They are graceful, and stunning fish with their long fins and the way they move. Pterophyllum scalare's common name is the anelfish. The name (angelfish) is misleading though. While some angelfish can be very peaceful many become a bit aggressive as they get older. They are a cichlid (fish), and a predator so be wary keeping them with small fish. You also need to be careful not to mix fish with them that will bite at their flowing fins. Tiger barbs (fish) are one example of a fin nipper that usually does not play nice with the angelfish.

Pterophyllum scalare (angelfish) now comes in many colors, black angelfish, marbled angelfish (like bull), koi angelfish (which have orange on them), all white angelfish, silver angelfish, gold angelfish, striped angelfish, spotted (leopard angels) and more. Angelfish tend to stay in the middle to upper portions of the aquarium but will swim to the bottom to pick at a shrimp pellet or just to check things out. They are very aware of their surroundings, in and out of the aquarium.

While angelfish come from soft water with a low pH they can be successfully kept in harder, higher pH water. My pH is around 7.6-7.8 and is fairly hard and I have grown my angelfish up to be fairly large. Angelfish do best in temperatures in the mid to upper 70's (*f). I have always kept my angelfish with live plants and they do very well. Many people seem to believe that angelfish form monogomus pairs, however I know of at least one person who has an angelfish that regularly breeds with different females.

From wikipedia:
The best known species of angelfish is Pterophyllum scalare. Its natural color is silvery with three brownish or black vertical stripes. It is very peaceful to the extent that it may be bullied by other more aggressive fish (although sometimes can be aggressive to smaller fish, especially of its own breed) and is a popular aquarium fish. P. scalare, like all angelfish, comes from slow moving sections of rivers in the Amazon basin. Angelfish also do not inhabit dense vegetation except when very young, when they school together and hide in vegetation for protection. Adults are much more frequently found amongst sunken driftwood where very few plants grow. They spawn on broad-leaved sword plants in the wild, and prefer broad-leaved plants to spawn in an aquarium, if available. Its maximum size is around 12–15 cm (up to 6 inches) length, up to 20 cm (8 in.) height- although exceptional husbandry on the part of the owner can produce an angel up to nine inches in rare instances. These angelfish prefer water with a 6.0–8.0 pH, with 6.5-7.4 being ideal, a water hardness of 5.0–13.0 dGH, and a temperature range of 24–30°C (75–86°F).

Links about Pterophyllum scalare:

Friday, May 11, 2007

Supporting Local Fish Stores

I like to support my local fish stores (LFS) over the big chain stores when ever possible. I know of many people who will go to the big chain because their products are dollar or two cheaper, but then go to the small local fish store for advice and fish only. Did you know that petstores (fish stores) generally make very little or no profit on the live animals they sell?

Local fish stores (LFS) are often more knowledgable and care more because they are actually hobbyists. They got into the business because they enjoy the animals. If you want to have that source of good knoweledge people and a healthy variety of fish (rather than just the staples the big stores usually have) and the ability to possibly requests certian kinds of fish, then support your local fish store! If there is a big price difference from the big chain and LFS (local fish store) ask the manager or owner at the LFS (local fish store) if they will price match or give you a discount on the item. If its only an extra dollar or two then that money would be well spent to keep your LFS in business. Think of it as payment for their advice and larger fish selection. If you don't see an item you want or need, ask if they can order it. Many fish stores will be more than happy to order an item for a customer and may even consider carring it if they know people want it.

Think about it, if you want to have that LFS around to buy fish from, get advice from, take your kids to, then they need to stay in business. Buying your fish there does not keep them in business, they make their profit (and very little profit after overhead costs) on their hardgoods (filters, heaters, fish food and so on). Please support your local stores or we will lose them all.

Links about supporting your LFS:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Anomalochromis thomasi

The picture is of one of the 4 Anomalochromis thomasi (fish) that lives in my 60 gallon planted aquarium. These little guys (fish) are full of personality and are very amusing to watch. They are one of my favorite little fish. The one in the picture is the more bold of the four. He or she will stick around to check things out (like the scary camera phone!) a bit longer than the other 3 fish, who high tail it into the thick plant growth the minute they are scared.

Sometimes called butterfly cichilds (fish). They are very pretty with an irredesent blue and red coloring to them, with darker spots or vertical stripes on their sides. They aren't to aggressive, they will occasionaly give chase to other fish but rarely do more than that. These fish tend to stay to the lower portions of the aquarium and are always busy checking something out. They seem to be very observant of their surroundings. Often while I am watching them, they are also watching me. They go nuts over shrimp pellets.

From what I have read these fish do best in lower pH water, but mine do just fine at a pH of 7.6-7.8. They probably just won't breed. Temperatures in my tank (aquarium) flucuate from 78*f-81*F.

From wikipedia:

Anomalochromis thomasi is a species of fish in the family Cichlidae, the only species in the genus Anomalochromis. It is a small cichlid growing to a length of 6-8 cm. The natural habitat of A. thomasi is Sierra Leone and Liberia, mainly in smaller streams. The fish are typically found in slightly acidic, oxygen rich water with other west African cichlid genera such as Hemichromis and Pelvicachromis.

links about A. thomais: