Poor George

To prepare the newly filled aquarium for the first fish, I added Nutrafin Cycle doses according to the bottle instructions, the odd pinch of fish flakes and daily doses of water from my existing tank. After a good week it had cycled enough that there was no ammonia, no nitrite but 20ppm of nitrate when tested. Hours after adding the first fish, I tested the water and was surprised to see the presence of nitrite as well at nitrate. It shouldn’t really have been a surprise as that is a common occurrence when adding first fish according to many Internet sources but I was too confident because my first tank never had a nitrite peak – lucky me!

As well as the 6 lovely Mbuna Cichlids, I also collected stroppy George the Sucking Loach from the LFS; they had been looking after him for months after I returned him due to his harassment of the other fish in the community tank. Every visit we would make sure we saw George and said hello. Yes, we did get odd looks at times. Especially from George. After realising that this sort of algae eater was suitable for the new fishies, I added him to the new tank too. He was very happy…until the second day when he was dead at the bottom of the tank. He WAS such a hardy fish, not even picking up Ich when other tank mates had it, being passed around to tank share with all sorts of fish in the LFS: yellow labs, an axylotyl and crabs to name a few. It was either a coincidence or I accidentally killed him with nitrites. I hope not. There was no sign of nibbled fins, lumps, discolouration, etc. but his anal vent looked red… Too much information?! Sorry George.

The second night, the Mbunas displayed behaviour I didn’t expect, the White Tailed Acei AND the Yellow Labs in a gang seeming to gulp at the surface. Yet more internet reading and I adjusted the inflow pipe so the water had a lot more agitation therefore more oxygen. Very quickly they all went back to normal. Result. I should say that to combat the nitrite peak I did a big water change and added more Nutrafin Cycle.

Since then my tests have shown ammonia present, no nitrites and still 20ppm nitrates. I’ve been adding doses of SERA ‘toxivec’ to neutralise ammonia.

The fish are looking great, really healthy and active. They recognise me already so follow me to beg for food. So far all is well.

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Aquarium Number 2 Unveiled!

Thanks to Super Husband I have a second 200 litre Fluval aquarium (with Aquamanta EFX 200 external filter) as a birthday gift which I am starting up as a Cichlid tank. So far, I have spent two hours assembling the flat pack of a cabinet (possibly the least clear assembly ‘instructions’ I’ve ever seen – and I HAVE assembled Ikea furniture and a flat pack greenhouse!), rinsed a bumper bag of fine gravel and added 21 pieces of lava rock.

My LFS, Clipsley Lane Aquatics in Haydock, supplied the lava rocks. All are a decent size and have multiple holes in which the fishies can hide. Thanks to their patience, I took a lot of time browsing and considering the best solution for a good Mbuna Cichlid environment. I had thought of buying a fake rock thingy that would have filled most of the length of the tank but it didn’t have the proper cave and hiding places I thought the cichlids would like. I ended up borrowing a big metre rule and hauling all the lava rocks off the shelf to try to imagine their placement in the tank. I bought so many and we are regulars so the lovely Boss Lady gave me a discount (thanks!).

We had a trip to Maidenhead Aquatics in Appley Bridge and with the patient and detailed assistance from Alison, I came away with 6 new Mbuna Malawi Cichlids to start the tank: 3 x Pseudotropheus sp. “Acei” or Ngara White Tail and 3 x Labidochromis caeruleus or Yellow Lab. From reading various websites and forums, I understood that one tank could only keep Mbuna (rock dwellers), Haps OR Peacocks. After my conversation with Alison and the introduction of these relatively peaceful Mbuna, my options are to introduce more Mbuna or I could add some Peacocks. A long as the size of the fish is suitable and they have an agreeable (for cichlids) temperament, I am happy to keep Mbuna and Peacocks. It will be another four weeks at least before I add more. I will see how the good bacteria cope with the first gang.

I love fish!

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Happy Fish, Egg Shell and Worms!

Hi all! The community tank is AOK, all fish are healthy and the Clown Loaches haven’t eaten the apple snail or zebra snail yet! The round-bellied Upside Down Catfish is fine so perhaps it just ate too much.

The red Rainbowfish are beauties, the most dominant is bright reddish orange and the others range from a dull bronze to yellow and orange. I do like a colour changing fish. The little neon Rainbowfish are just as active and two are starting to look like mini-plaice as they are noticeably larger.

I save egg shells to crush for use in the garden, piling them up in a bowl in the kitchen. I have found that the fish like them to munch on, play with and generally sit on (depending on the fish). I had half a shell from a boiled egg and gave it an extra clean by putting it in a cup of boiling water. I then dropped it in the tank and the Clown Loaches loved snuffling around it, sitting in it, pulling at the remaining membrane inside – that’s when Stephen the Bristlenose Catfish wasn’t sucking on it. I fished (hahaha) it out the next day and have popped one in the tank a couple of times a week. I like to think it would help with calcium levels a tiny bit to help the apple snail but it is a good fish toy anyway.

I splashed out £2 at Amazon Aquatics in Leigh and bought a small sieve-like feeder to suction to the tank side. I defrost a cube of blood worms, pop them in there and the fish munch them all in less than a minute. The Clowns and Rainbowfish are especially keen. I give them this as a treat about once a week and have a selection of dried food types suitable for all the different fish in the community. I only feed them once a day and they always eat up quickly.

I’ve had the aquarium for about a year now as a birthday present from Super Husband and I still love it. Luckily for me it was my birthday again a couple of weeks ago and Super Husband bought me….another 200 litre aquarium and cabinetHOORAY for birthdays! This will be a single species (ish) tank so I will post pictures and good news soon.

Hope all you fish fans are happy.

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