Aquarium Care

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Everything You Need To Know About the Different Types of Fish Food

Once you have purchased your fish, you need to supply them with the proper food that will keep them healthy and happy. It doesn’t always have to be a big bag of fish flakes. Your fish also need good nourishment that will give them an active life, enhance their growth and stimulate breeding. Their diet should also give them a more efficient immune system against sickness.

One popular type of fish food is the dry fish food. This includes flakes, pellets, wafers, and granules. There are many different formulations of dry fish food to cater to different species of fish. They can be made from plant, animal or fish products. Most of them are fortified with vitamins and minerals for a more complete nutritional diet for your fish. Some are concocted for special purposes like intensifying the colors of the fish or making the scales shinier.

Larger fish, those bigger than an inch, require a more specialized diet. The carnivores or omnivores will prefer meat in their diet. One very popular meat food is bloodworms. Bloodworms are red mosquito larvae that can be purchased frozen from aquarium supply stores. They are considered the more nutritious alternative to flakes and pellets. They look like small ice cubes when packaged and you just drop these cubes in the aquarium water when it’s feeding time.

Other fresh or frozen foods for your fish are brine shrimps or krill. Not only are brine shrimps nourishing, they also somehow bring out the colors of tropical fish. A small crustacean, called the Daphnia, or water flea is also another option for the carnivores. They may be delicious to fish but they are not really full of nutrients.

Earthworms or other worms are also popular food for some larger fish. They are high in protein but will not give your fish a balanced diet. Like the Daphnia, they should not be the only food source of your fish. To many larger predatory fish, feeder fish or any small fish are the best food, although they don’t usually go for community fish in an aquarium.

There should be a rotation of some or all of these foods in feeding your fish not just to give them balanced nutrition but also to provide variety in their diet. They are likely to get tired of the same food day after day just like any person. You also have the option of supplementing the dried pellets or flakes diet with live or frozen food.

Herbivores, unlike carnivores, will be happier snacking throughout the day rather than eating at a regular schedule. Fresh plants in aquarium tanks are good sources of food for them, and they can also eat any algae that are present in the aquarium.

You can also supplement your fish’s food supply with vegetables like blanched spinach leaves, slices of zucchini and cucumber, and peas directly to the tank. Let this vegetable matter float for an hour or two, and then remove them from the tank. Some dried foods, particularly algae wafers, also make a good choice for herbivores.

Feeding the right food to your fish is not really difficult. You just have to make a little research to find out the preferences and nutritional needs of your fish. Different species will have different needs. Make the necessary adjustments to the kind and amount of food you feed them as they grow. Remember to give them variety and a balance diet and your fish will thrive and live a full healthy, perky and happy life.

Leonard Boyler has been keeping fish for more than two decades. His favorite products make aquarium care and maintenance very easy from start up to clarifying cloudy aquarium water. To learn more about how you can keep your water clear and have healthy fish, please visit ONEdersave.com.

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Aquarium Care Series: The Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Setup: Basic Concepts

by Ruby Bayan, OurSimpleJoys.com

aquawithwhitefishsSetting up the ideal aquarium environment can be a challenge since there are fundamental principles about taking proper care of your fish that must be taken into serious consideration. You will be simulating the natural habitat of your pet fish, within the confines of a glass tank. It will be necessary for you to exercise the utmost care in creating and maintaining an environmental balance. It can be tricky, but that’s what makes the aquarium fish hobby truly engaging!

In order to create and maintain the ideal freshwater aquarium setup, you will have to purchase the best tank you can afford and supply your fish with good clean water (filtration) and the required amount of oxygen (or aeration). Adequate illumination (lighting), proper temperature (heating), and the appropriate landscape (substrate and decor) are also important. Let’s discuss how to set up these elements one by one.

Tank Size

Before you purchase an aquarium, ask yourself the following questions:

Where will I put the tank? Is there enough space? Measure the exact dimensions of the area where you want to install your new tank. Be sure that you will have elbowroom to attach the accessories (light hood and external pumps or filters) and to perform the required maintenance activities (which include cleaning, landscaping, or catching the fish).

Are both the stand and the floor sturdy enough to hold the combined weight of the tank, the gravel, and the gallons of water you will need? Remember, water alone weighs about 10 lbs. per gallon. Depending on the size of the tank and the complexity of your landscaping (the substrate and rock decor), you may need to acquire a dedicated metal stand. Ask the aquarium store proprietor to explain your various options.
What kind of fish will you take care of? How many varieties? How big will they grow?

You will need to do your homework on these topics. Picture the types of fish you want to live in your tank. Find out how big they will get when fully grown. Though schooling fish are a joy to watch, they require a lot of swimming space. Since some species are territorial, you will need to provide them with sufficient “territories” to prevent stress. Basically, if you want to take care of a lot of fish, you will need to buy a larger tank.

Do you have the budget to purchase the appropriate lighting, heating, aeration, and filtration fixtures? You may think it’s easy to answer those questions since you know you want to keep several varieties of fish and believe that all you need to do is buy a 100-gallon tank. Before you pull out your credit card, remember that you will also need 100-gallon filters, heaters, and overhead lighting. Additionally, you will need sufficient aerators, gravel, plants, and decor. So, be sure you are ready to finance the entire 100-gallon set-up before you start making any purchases.

Aeration

Fish “breathe” oxygen from the water, and water absorbs oxygen from the air. This is why aeration is important in a tank setup. Aeration, or the generation of tiny air bubbles in the water, supplements the tank’s water surface area, which is critical for the exchange of gases with the atmosphere. The bubbles also create a disturbance in the water surface, promoting the absorption of oxygen and dissolution of carbon dioxide.
Furthermore, the rising bubbles “stir” the water, which helps to balance the water temperature. The bubbles also create the semblance of water flow that fish thoroughly enjoy.

Choose aerators that suit your tank size and your taste — various models of air pumps and air stones are available. Tubing, connectors, and other accessories make installation convenient and organized. A spare air pump will be valuable in case of a breakdown.

Filtration

In simulating the natural habitat of your fish, you will need to ensure that the environment does not become toxic due to the accumulation of waste products. An effective filtration system is, therefore, another essential element of the ideal aquarium setup. Here’s a list of the various filters that are available:

  • Under-gravel Filters – These are plastic-slotted plates placed at the bottom of the tank, under the substrate. For best results, these plates must cover the whole tank floor. Working in conjunction with the air pump, the filter pulls the floating waste, uneaten food, and decaying plants onto the gravel. The waste products accumulate in recesses in the gravel, where they can be easily siphoned off.
  • Box Filters – These are plastic boxes that are put in the corner of the tank. They also require the assistance of the air pump. This filter uses activated carbon and glass wool (or peat moss) to serve as biological filters. They absorb and retain the fine waste products that float in the water, along with the harmful nitrates and ammonia by-products. Compared to under-gravel filters, box filters are easier to pull out and clean.
  • Power Filters — These are usually external filters attached to the back of the tank. With its own power motor, it sucks water from the tank, passes the water through a sponge (or glass wool and activated carbon), and pumps the filtered water back into the tank. The sponge needs to be cleaned regularly.

Lighting

Fish require adequate amounts of light and dark, like most other creatures on the planet. Correct lighting is essential for the biological clocks and eating patterns of your fish. It is also important for the healthy growth of the live plants in the tank. Apart from those needs, adequate lighting makes the aquarium a bright and colorful showcase for underwater life.

Several types of aquarium lights are commercially available. Full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs are common fixtures – they enhance the colors of the fish and decor, and they don’t give off too much heat. Some hobbyists prefer specialized ultraviolet aquarium lamps because they believe they promote fish health and breeding, along with plant growth. Study the options at your aquarium vendor’s store and choose the lighting that suits your tank and fish community.

Aquarium lights are best mounted inside reflector hoods, placed either directly on top of the tank’s glass cover, or on a special frame above the tank. Some vendors have attached timers to these hoods to facilitate the setting of photoperiod exposures. Fish do not need more than 12 hours of light each day, so a preset timer can be a convenient gadget.

Be sure to replace your light bulbs at least once a year because fluorescent and ultraviolet lights tend to degrade with use.

Heating

Aside from adequate oxygen and light, the right water temperature is essential for the overall health of your fish. Most varieties of aquarium fish come from tropical regions with water temperatures of up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Find out about your fish community’s temperature requirements. With the help of heating elements, ensure that the proper ranges are maintained in your tank.

Submersible heating rods of various lengths, together with programmable thermostats, make it easy to control tank heating. Be absolutely sure that the settings are correct because a faulty or poorly calibrated heater can bring about a catastrophic end to an otherwise flourishing fish community.

Substrate and Decor

After you complete your research on the natural habitats of the fish species you wish to keep, you will have an idea of the type of decor to put in your aquarium. For starters, here are some facts to help you determine what substrate and decor to use:

  • Some fish, known as bottom dwellers, stay close to the floor of the tank and feed on the food that settles on the substrate. For these types of fish, sand is better than gravel (food will sink among the course gravel, making it hard to reach).
  • Fish that are territorial will need “markers” like plants, rocks, or driftwood. Without these items to mark their territory, they will experience stress and may become unduly aggressive.
  • Some varieties of fish are “shy” and need at least a few places where they can go hide. Plants and overturned pots or little caves will be a comfort to them. Plants also provide shade from the overhead lighting, which may be just a little too bright for some species of fish.
  • In case you have chosen fish that are totally herbivorous, consider decorating with plastic plants. Live, decorative plants will always be attractive as food to such fish and may stop looking very attractive when your fish start feasting on their leaves and branches.
  • As a rule of thumb, never try to use anything that’s metallic, water-soluble, corrosive, or biodegradable as part of your decor. You can always be creative with glass and plastic. Before using rocks, pebbles, stones, clay, and driftwood as decorative pieces, be sure you rinse them thoroughly to remove all of the dirt, parasites, or harmful bacteria that may be attached to them.
  • Consider incorporating water-conditioning products in your setup, like EcoBio-Block, which is made of volcanic stones that are home to beneficial bacteria, whose main function is to clarify and deodorize cloudy water.

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Aquarium Care Series: Step-by-Step Aquarium Installation

by Ruby Bayan, OurSimpleJoys.com

homeaquarium-sThe ideal freshwater aquarium setup is housed in the best tank and adequately oxygenated by sufficient aerators, conditioned by effective filters, illuminated by appropriate lighting, sustained by efficient heaters, and enhanced by aesthetically designed décor. How to put them all together to work harmoniously may seem like a Herculean task but with a few simple steps to follow, installing a new aquarium is just one of the many fulfilling adventures in tropical fish keeping.

Preparations

Before heading out to the aquarist store to buy everything you need for your new hobby, plan out the installation on paper. This will save you the trouble of having to redo or return equipment and tank inhabitants when things don’t quite come together. These are the steps to take before anything else:

  1. Decide on the size of the tank and its location. It’s best to get the biggest tank you can afford because communities are easier to establish in large aquariums. Remember, though, that a large tank will also require a sturdy stand, and appropriately sized lighting, filtration, aeration, and heating equipment. The ideal location is where you have elbowroom for maintenance and access to water, and which is not too near direct sunlight or a heat source.
  2. Decide on the types of equipment you will use. With the many available models of filters, aerators, heaters, and lights, you have a wide array to choose from.
  3. Decide on what types of fish you want to keep. Do enough research on the different requirements of the various species of tropical fish, and from there, plan out your landscape.
  4. Choose the substrate and decorations you will use. You can include live (or plastic) plants, rocks, slates, driftwood, colored stones, pots, non-toxic figurines, and tank backgrounds. It will help if you can draw a landscape design as a guide.
  5. Ask a friend or family member to help you install your aquarium. Remember that water conditioning ideally takes about a week, so, don’t expect to introduce fishes into the setup the same day you install the tank

Initial Setup

You can purchase your tank, equipment, and decorations on the same day. Buy your plants and fishes a few days after you’ve set up the tank so that the water will have stabilized, in terms of composition and temperature, and be just right for its new inhabitants. Here are the initial installation steps:

  1. Clear the area where the tank will be placed. Position the baseboard or Styrofoam pads and place the tank on it, making sure the tank is absolutely level. Remember that once the tank is set up, it is not advisable, if not impossible, to nudge or push it about.
  2. If you are using an under-gravel filter, assemble the parts as directed and position it on the floor of the tank. Under-gravel filters are most effective if they cover the entire floor of the aquarium.
  3. Wash all décor under clean running water. Rocks, shells, and driftwood may need to be scrubbed to remove dirt and unwanted deposits. Wood should be pre-soaked; otherwise, it will float.
  4. If you are using large rocks that need to sit firmly at the bottom of the tank, position them directly on the under-gravel filter. Then pour the pre-washed substrate to cover the filter plates. Slope the substrate a little so that the contour is slightly lower towards the front.
  5. Arrange other large decorative items as desired. Be sure that none of the décor leans on the tank walls.
  6. Install the aeration and heating systems. Organize the tubing and wiring so that they can be easily concealed, convenient to manage, and safe from accidents.
  7. Carefully fill the tank with water. So as not to disturb the substrate and décor too much, put a saucer on the substrate to control the water flow.
  8. Turn on all the equipment to check if everything is working properly as expected. If you’re using plastic plants and incorporating water-conditioning products like EcoBio-Block, you can put them in at this time. Let the setup stabilize for a couple of days.

Introducing Plants

Your initial setup will have become stable after a few days — it’s then ready to receive the flora and fauna.

When you purchase your live plants, some of them will be sold in clusters or bunches. Separate them so that they can be planted individually for better growth and proliferation. Remember to wash them under clean running water to remove unwanted debris or parasites. Remove dead and bruised leaves and roots.
Referring to your landscape design, position your plants to your heart’s delight. Start by planting the tall ones at the sides and at the back ends of the tank. Use smaller, rosette-type plants as foreground accents.

Don’t worry if after finishing your landscaping the water will be a bit murky – the filtration system will fix this for you in no time.

Assemble the overhead lighting hood, position it properly, and turn it on. It’s best to give the plants and the new ecosystem a little time, like a day or two, to establish a healthy environment before introducing the fish.

Introducing Fishes

When the set-up is ready for its swimming inhabitants, that’s the time to purchase the fish. Remember to introduce a few fishes at a time. Bringing in a whole community of assorted species all at one time will only lead to chaos and severe stress.

Allow the fish to acclimate to the tank’s water temperature by keeping them inside the plastic bag they were transported in. Float the unopened bag on the water surface for about an hour. Then open the bag, and gently net the fish from the bag into the tank. Try not to pour the water from the plastic bag into the tank to minimize contamination.

Introduce other community members a few at a time, when the current inhabitants have become comfortable in their new home.

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Aquarium Care Series: Feeding Basics

by Ruby Bayan, OurSimpleJoys.com

girl-feedingsProviding your fish with the right types of food at the right time is crucial. For your pet fish to flourish in their captive environment, they need to assimilate nutrients that are identical to those found in their natural habitat.

Fortunately, different types of fish food, packed with necessary minerals and nutrients, and prepared in various forms, are commercially available. With your knowledge of your specific fishes’ nutritional and feeding requirements, and the help of your nearest well-stocked pet food store, your fish communities can enjoy the diets essential to their health, appearance, and life span.

Feeding Principles

There are several basic principles you need to remember when feeding aquarium fish. By following the feeding tips related to these principles, you can rest assured that your fish community will remain in an equilibrium and in optimum health.

  1. Each specie of fish has unique food and feeding requirements. Carnivores will need plenty of protein — from meat slivers or small fish. Herbivores will require adequate fiber — from plants and algae. Some species appreciate chasing live food like insects and worms.
    Tip: Research on the food requirements and feeding habits of each breed of fish you keep. Then inspect the different types of food commercially available. This will help you determine which types of food you need to stock up on.
  2. Overfeeding can be hazardous to your fish community. Fish can only eat as much as their stomachs will allow. Typically, fishes are able to swallow their one-meal intake within three to five minutes from the time the food is introduced into the tank. After that, the leftovers will remain suspended in the water and start to decay, polluting the environment. Not even the most efficient filtration system can counteract a heavily contaminated setup.
    Tip: Feed the fish a little at a time, at regular intervals during the day, instead of dropping one “big meal” into the tank. To help minimize accidental pollution and maintain a clear and healthy environment for the fish, consider incorporating a water-conditioning product in your set-up like the EcoBio-Block.
  3. Fish can also get obese — another consequence of overfeeding. Some breeds of fish (like cyclids and catfish) are prone to non-stop eating, giving way to obesity and poor health. Fish food that are too fatty (like Whiteworms) should be given sparingly.
    Tip: Be aware of this obesity phenomenon and feed only the quantity and quality of food that will ensure good health and nutrition.
  4. Sometimes not all the fish are able to eat properly. In a community tank, fast swimmers and hyperactive fish will get to the food sooner than the rest. Juveniles will be more picky than adults. Nocturnals will only eat when it’s dark. Surface feeders will only eat food that are floating; bottom feeders will only eat food that have sunk. A new fish may be too shy to approach the food, and sick ones will simply ignore the feedings.
    Tip: Observe all the fish during feeding time. Ensure that all of them are able to eat properly and adequately.
  5. Fish appreciate variety in their diets. Feeding your fish the same food for months at a time can lead to some form of malnutrition. In their native habitats, fish obtain a variety of foods, so this is what you should strive to simulate.
    Tip: Vary the types of food you give your fish community — through a mixture or alternation of prepared foods (dried and frozen), live foods, and greens, for a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
  6. Live or fresh foods, though nutritious and preferred by most fishes can be risky. Worms, insect larvae, water fleas, and brine shrimp are just some of the live foods that most fish enjoy chasing and gobbling up. Unfortunately, introducing these tasty delights into your aquarium poses the risk of introducing disease-carrying bacteria or accompanying predators (leeches and diving beetles) as well.
    Tip: Always rinse live and fresh food under clean running water to remove dirt and dead ones. Culture your own batches, if possible, to avoid harvesting unwanted predators. And scoop out the uneaten ones after each meal because they will eventually die and pollute the water.

Nutritional Requirements

In order to understand what types of foods are essential for your fish, here’s a rundown of the different nutrients that are crucial for fish health and longevity:

  1. Proteins – About 50 percent of the total calorie requirement of fish come from proteins. Amino acids, the building blocks of muscles, cells, and tissue are essential, especially for juvenile fish.
  2. Carbohydrates – More required by freshwater fish than marine fish, carbohydrates are also necessary for energy and growth.
  3. Fatty Acids – The major energy source for most fish, fats are stored in their tissues to provide stamina and serve as storage medium for fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  4. Minerals – Abundant sources of minerals exist for fishes in their natural habitat. In an aquarium, fishes will need prepared food fortified with minerals (like calcium for their bone formation).
  5. Vitamins – The essential vitamins your fish need are: A (from greens and crustaceans), B-Complex (from greens, eggs, and yeast), C (from greens, algae, and fish eggs), D (from snails, shrimps, and earthworms), E (from algae, greens, and egg yolk), and K (from water fleas, greens, and liver).
  6. Fiber – Also a necessary diet component for fish, fiber is abundant in vegetable matter.

 

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