Thursday, October 18, 2012

When having to move your fish ... Do so gently.

If you're anything like a typical person with a typical life, you may find yourself having to move a few times within your lifespan. You'll also find that although you're excited about the new phase of your life whether it's your first apartment, living on your own with a few roommates or your first purchased home, it all comes with the price of a whole lot of stress. And even though this is an exciting time in your life, and you can't wait to get it all moving forward. The pressures of finding the "New Place" for your yourself and or your loved ones, will be tremendous, and at times that the stress of planning your move, setting up the movers, packing everything up (You never really know how much you truly own until you go through this process :/ ) finding new schools for your children, after school programs or where you're going to park, when the parking ban in is place because the snow season will be upon us (Us northerner's, plan this out early in the spring!) you'll soon find yourself overwhelmed and wishing you had a magic wand to get it all completed in time.

Do you feel like you've forgotten something? I know you keep looking at your list and checking everything off as you get them done including having your cable transferred to your new address, having your utilities shut off on the last day you'll be at the old address, and then calling your new providers for your utilities (gas/oil &  lights) to ensure you'll have them turned on in your new place, so you're not unloading in the dark and last but not least ensuring your mail will be forwarded to your new address, right? There's still something you else that you haven't made plans for, but can't put your finger on it? Hm, how about those beautiful fish you've got in your tank, have you thought of a way to transport them yet? No?? It's a job let me tell you, but it's nothing you can't handle and do for yourself.

I just so happened to have gone through this myself! Having to get everything done including having the utilities, turned off/on,  movers, schedules made, forwarding of our mail ... etc. And then it hit me! OMG our fish! What to do, what to do ... And then I figured I'd ensure their tank would be cleaned (Take advantage of this while you need to break down your tank anyway) and they would travel safely, and this is how I did it. We moved from MA. to CT. so there was only a little over an hour they would be out of their comfy environment, but still didn't want to take any chances, as I love our fish, as we love love our cat. We knew she'd be traveling up front with me, so we put her in her traveling cage and strapped her in. Of course there were some conversation from her, as she hated riding in the car. But you know, she was purr- fectly happy being my co-pilot and not making a sound throughout the trip :0) . 

First I started by siphoning off their water and bringing it down just a few inches (gallon or so) into each pail, giving me a little leeway to catch the fish without making a huge mess with the water every where. Then ever so carefully I took my biggest net and placed it my aquarium tank and just let it be still for a while, and let the fish get used to it being there. When they settled down I carefully aimed it towards my silver dollars which were bigger, and therefore an easier object to catch. When I caught the first one, I quickly but very carefully (can't stress this enough) put him in the pail I had the water siphoned into. See the trick here is to move them in the water they have been living in as it's at the perfect temperature, and has it's nitrifying bacteria already in it, which is a necessity when starting up your aquarium again to ensure your fish will remain healthy and as stress free as possible. (You know the saying "It's better to deal with the devil you know than the devil you don't?" Well it's stands true in this particular example with their water also.)

Once I had finished capturing my fish and putting them in buckets of water that I had siphoned off for them, I then went about with taking their water filter out ensuring NOT to clean their bio wheel (will help with nitrifying bacteria, and you usually only need one for the life span of your tank, unless it breaks or something.) but rinsing it it in their tank water. I did this with all the decorative items, larger stones, aquatic plants, (plastic) temperature gauge, thermostat and all plastic tubing used for extra bubbles for aeration or to make something open and close like a pirates chest. By this time most of all the aquarium tank water has been siphoned off into pails of water for you fish, so you can discard the rest down your drain. When I had all their sand taken out of their tank, I placed it in my old spaghetti strainer to let it drip while I cleaned their tank remembering to use their water to do so. I then took my first bucket of water and poured it 1/2 way up a gallon size zip loc, (I used a 2 cup measuring cup to do this) and very carefully caught my fish  that was still in a bucket, and carefully placed him in the bag. I made sure to leave plenty of air in the bag and sealed it up, remember "Yellow and Blue make Green" :)  I did this with each fish I had in a bucket. I then placed the fish that were in their sealed bags back into their aquarium tank and readied them for the ride to their new home. I also placed a towel over their bags of water, to protect them from the sun coming through the windows, and any drafts.

When I got to our new home in CT. the very first thing I did was to start setting up their aquarium tank. I started up their tank in the opposite way of taking it down. I first got their tank in a place where myself and my family could enjoy watching them, and it was out of direct sunlight. I then added their sand, all their decorations and their plants. I slowly started to add water (making sure to to use "start up" water conditioning after I hooked up their thermostat, and their filter. Once I had the water at the 3/4 mark, I carefully let them all float in their zip loc bags until they were accustomed to the water temperature. Once their acclimation was through, I slowly open their bags one by one as they were introduced to their newly cleaned environment water and all. I only had to treat  just the water (Stress Coat) that I had used from the kitchen faucet, so that I could finish filling up their tank.

It's been 3 weeks since our move, and I'm still living out of boxes. We're slowly getting things unpacked ... But I sure wish I had been one of my fish, they're all happy and comfy in their environment once again, and I'm still looking for my favorite frying pan.You know, the one that doesn't let everything stick to it.  Lol  ;)

Here's a few of the important items that I've mentioned above to help you, and where I purchase some of them

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Keeping your fish healthy & stay away from ICH

If you see that one or all your fish have become lethargic, their fins have become clamped or you see white little grains of salt all over their bodies, then they're probably sick with ICH (ICK)  As you've read previously in my past blogs, that ICH  to a fish is like us humans catching the flu, and if not treated in time, it can be deadly. There are a number of reasons why your fish became sick with ICH, and anyone that has kept fish for any amount of time, will attest to the fact that they have had fish that eventually developed the skin disease. Many caretakers of fish find it to be more of a nuisance but the truth be told, it's probably one of the main reasons for more fish deaths (very sad) than just about any other diseases out there to affect your fish. If you're anything like me, then you don't want to lose a single fish to any disease never mind the ICH.
I don't want to sound the alarms, but it's extremely important that we address this issue right now and see to it  that we take care of this matter as soon as possible, as it is contagious and will bring down your whole community of fish. - There are several and effective treatments for ICH, but this is the one I always try before adding any chemicals to their aquarium water.
The first thing you need to do is slowly raise the temperature of your tank to around 85 degrees over a period of time (a few hours). Ich will not survive at this temperature and will eventually die off. Make sure you have a thermometer to monitor the temperature, if it goes much higher than 85, you can essentially fry your fish :(  and at 85 degrees  your fish will do just  fine for the treatment time.
Leave the tank at this temperature for 14 days (2 weeks) and continue to feed them as usual. They might not have much of an appetite, so if you see their food still there after 5 minute ensure you scoop it up and out of their tank.  Be sure to keep the tank at this temperature even if it looks like the ICH is gone from your tank. This is because the ich has a lifecycle, the only time the ich pests are visible as white spots on your fish is when it is in the parasitic stage. Otherwise the little buggers will live in your fish tank gravel or substrate or even be free swimming. Leave the tank at 85 degrees for 2 whole weeks (14 days) at a minimum. For hardier strains, you can even leave the tank at that temperature for up to 20 days. - Now if you still see that your fish aren't getting any better because the strain being hardier than suspected, don't panic! There are products as I mentioned earlier that you can purchase, but you need to be so very careful administering them to your tank as they can cause serious problems to your fish and their co-inhabitants. Right now it's important to take care of them as soon as possible. I don't want to sound the alarms but it's extremely important that we address the issue right now. First of all you need to get their tank water as clean as possible prior to adding any chemicals to their tank, and you can do this by suctioning off at least  half of  water in their tank (Be sure to get your nozzle down deep into their gravel and substrate, as this is where the "Little Buggers live) then to ensure that you'll  have their water in peak condition for your freshwater fish as it's suppose to be in, by purchasing  a Fresh Water Kit. I purchased my kit through Amazon, along with the medicine for ICH. I have pictures of  them below to help you decide which is best for your situation.
There are many diseases your fish can get, but I feel ICH is the most intrusive one that I've come acrossed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Regulating the water temperature for your tropical fish

When you buy new fish for your aquarium tank you need to know what water temperature they'll need to be kept at, so that they thrive and grow into bigger happier fish.

Most community tropical fish (Live-bearers and egg-layers) prefer to have their water temperature to be kept to at least 78-82 degrees at all times. They can become sick with ICK and ICK to a fish is pretty much what the common cold is to us humans. It comes from drastic water temperature changes, stressing from over crowding, drops in their immune system from having a dirty aquarium and over feeding. All of these reasons or just one of them, could and will bring down your whole community of fish. 

That's why it's best to always maintain your water temperature by using a thermostat that either hangs from the top of the aquarium, or sticks on the side to view it from any angle or even a floating thermostat that comes with suction cups if  you prefer. This will help you to  regulate the temperature of their water to your fish's requirements, and the size of your tank. You don't want to buy a heater meant for a 100 gallon aquarium tank which would be too large and heat your tank too high causing you to "cook" your fish if you only have a 10 gallon tank.  What I found to be a good rule of thumb to go by is using 5 watts per gallon, so a 50-watt heater would be fine for the average home for a 10 gallon aquarium tank.

If after 5 minutes of you feeding your fish you find that there's still food floating about, remember to scoop it up and out of your aquarium with the help of your fish net, to ensure  that it doesn't create debris in your tank which leads to poor water quality. To ensure your fish don't become stressed from over crowding, remember my saying of "1" of fish per gallon of water" to maintain their overall health and happiness.

Below you will see some products that I've used in my aquariums in the past and found them helpful and useful, and thought you would also.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Your First Aquarium

When you start to think of all the beautiful fish and relaxation that you get from having an aquarium, it's no wonder you see them every where you go from your personal physician's and dentist's office, to beautiful serene restaurants, personal office suites and to your friends home.

But I feel there is no better place to watch the amazement of life under water than in your very own home where you can sit, relax and let your imagination take you to far off places where it's so serene and breathtakingly beautiful that it seems like you've been there for hours, feeling calmer and stress free when you get up and walk away.

To me, there's nothing more relaxing and comforting than to hear the water coming into the aquarium tank like a small waterfall. And then to see the bubbles that they create and see the fish so happy to be in their own underwater world, that you've built just for them.

I've seen them installed in everything imaginable, and my personal favorite that I saw was an aquarium tank installed into an old wooden television frame. Of course, all the guts and wires had to be taken out and totally gutted, before they could thoroughly clean it from all the dust and debris. They also had to make sure what ever they were going to be using on the inside of their new found aquarium tank, was  safe and hospitable to their fish.

There are all types of aquariums to keep your fish in, from a small bowl for a single fish like a Beta fish (one of my favorite fish) or a gold fish, to an enormous aquarium that holds hundreds of gallons of water to be installed into a wall, or on a large strong display stand. 

Always remember that your aquarium tank has to be large enough and suitable enough to hold the weight of the water, its equipment, the sand, rocks, plant matter, and all the other decorations that will go inside the tank. 

But let us concentrate on a 10-gallon aquarium tank for now. When you're thinking of what types of fish you'd like to put in your tank, you have to know if you want a community tank where all your fish are non-aggressive, and their needs are about the same such as water temperature, the types of water they prefer, the foods they like to eat and which part of the aquarium they like to feed from. Remember a community tank is one in which you can have different types of fish from all over the world living in tranquility with one another, and the entire community is happily thriving together! There will be no bullies or intimidating fishes allowed in our new found community of happy fishes. 

But for now let’s continue talking about the types of fish you’d like to have in your tank.  
Now there are two types of tropical fish, live-bearers or egg-layers. It’s always best to separate the female before she has babies, and then place her back in to the community tank after the babies arrive, as the adults will with eat the babies … Yes, even the mom & dad will unfortunately. L

Please keep in mind that when you’re picking out your fish, you’ll want to ensure that you have a ratio of 3-6 females to 1 male, (in a 10-gallon aquarium I've had great success with a 3 to 1 ratio) with the male fish always looking the more striking and fancier of the two. For instance, the male sword-tail fish has the long sword coming from its anal area where the female does not. She has what they call a gravid spot (a little window where you can see her uterus) and if you see this getting bigger and darker, it means she will have babies (fry) within 28 days. 

Egg layers include Barbs, Danios, Cichlids, Tetras, and Gouramis. There are also ornamental fish that are very popular that you could purchase at your reputable aquarium store or online merchants, such as Damsel fish, Angel fish, Wrasses, Gobies, Sapphire Devil, (Aka Blue Devil) Surgeon fish, Whitetail dascyllus, Threespot dascyllus, Clown Anemon-fish and the Butterfly-fish, but these ornamental fish are more aggressive and I wouldn't want to put them in my community tank. You could put these types of fish in an aquarium with fish like themselves, and they too will thrive to be healthy and happy.

You need to keep in mind that the size of your aquarium tank needs to be able to accommodate all your fish. Rule of thumb; For every inch of fish you have, you'll need 1 gallon of water. So try to keep your fish in a big enough tank to give them plenty space to grow and thrive. Most fish love aquatic plants that they can nibble on, hide under, and finds a place to rest (they don't sleep) and it gives your aquarium the look and feel of their natural habitat. You can look into and discuss what types of plants that your fish usually would have in their natural habitat from your local fish store that is reputable and trustworthy, (I can't stress that enough) the library (Always a great source for knowledge!)  even online stores have the products that you'll be looking for when needing information regarding your fish, aquariums, filters, heaters, thermostats, decorations and informational books. 

Keep in mind you'll want to do weekly water changes, and keep your aquarium tank as clean as you can, remembering to vacuum the bottom of your tank as this is where debris, bacteria, and parasites (they lay their eggs in the substrate) falls into the stones and or sand and starts to mess with the pH balance in your tank. You will need to get a freshwater testing kit, that allows you to test your aquarium water to ensure your pH, nitrate, nitrite and ammonia are at the proper levels at all times. Having just one of these off just a little could cause havoc bringing your fishes to stress and thus become ill.

You can have a lot fun setting up your tank, picking out the color of rocks and or sand (called substrate) that you'll be decorating the bottom of the tank with, and maybe want to decide on a theme, so you'll be ready to pick out one of the many background images that you can tape to the back of your tank. They usually come printed on both sides, so if you want to change things up a bit, you can always turn the image to see a new scenery.  

Remember to always wash everything before you decide to  put it in your aquarium tank,                                         especially your hands  :) and please for the life and safety of your fish do not ever use any kind of soaps in your your aquarium, just rinse your decorations in lukewarm water   with the help of a toothbrush (not your siblings) to help you clean them. It's best to wash all your pieces and rinse them in the same water you just vacuumed out of the tank. I know it sounds gross, but you don't want to make your tank too sterile as it needs nitrifying bacteria. *1) Unlike many other bacterial additives, fish can be added immediately after use, eliminating the new tank syndrome, instantly creates a biofilter, and naturally removes toxic ammonia and nitrites. Use when setting up a new aquarium, or after water changes and disease treatments to quickly establish a natural biological filter. to jump start and then to continue to help with the pH balance.

There are many online stores that will help you decide on the design of aquarium tank, types of fish, types of filtration you will need along with the types of food your fish will require. 


Please let me know if there's something I can help you with.

*1)DrTim's Aquatics Quick Reference Guide PDF - Use this handy reference guide to select the best product to solve your aquarium situation or problem.
(Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 or later - get it here for free)