New Fish to Replace the Dead

Today I have five new African cichlids waiting patiently (for now) in their bags floating in the tank. After recent fish loss that I put down to a low pH and kH, it will be good to replenish the population.

Maidenhead Aquatics in Appley Bridge tested the water and told me it was in good shape but I needed to gradually up the kH over a week as it was at 5. They keep their stock at 5 so the new fish should acclimatise well then join the others in enjoying the increasing kH levels.

The new additions:
1 x electric blue hap
1 x red fin kadango
1 x fusco hap
1 x albino peacock
1 x mystery fish – they are getting back to me on the proper name!

I hope all you fish keepers out there are enjoying your weekend.

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Mouthbrooding Mbuna?!

I think one of my Mbunas is mouthbrooding! I noticed an unusually baggy chin on one of the Acei and when I fed them this morning, she (I am now assuming it is a female!) didn’t eat anything. Before now they have all been keen on food.

As a reminder, this tank contains: Pseudotropheus sp. “Acei” or Ngara White Tail and 3 x Labidochromis caeruleus or Yellow Lab.

From reading numerous sites I understand that the females are mouthbrooders, holding the eggs in the ‘buchal pouch’ until all the yolk sacs have been consumed. This is usually about 3 weeks, then the fry are released to fend for themselves. If the mother feels her fry are threatened, she may take them back into her mouth for temporary shelter.

Do let me know if you have better information than this from your experience. I have taken a couple of pictures showing the chinny lady, along with a photo of the other two Acei together so you can see an obvious difference in their profiles. The water hasn’t stabilised yet so I not sure if that would kill any fry anyway or whether the other fish would be likely to eat them.

“It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry!”
Says my Dad!

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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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Cichlid Eggs – The New Batch

I’ve found it tricky to take a clearer picture than those below but I hope you can make out the pale, white-ish eggs clustered on a leaf. The larger smiling cichlid is constantly hovering over them and there are a lot more than last time. They’ve also chosen a different plant, a little more hidden away. The recent chin wound I was concerned about on one of them has healedwhich I am very pleased about (no medication or remedy used) and so it is (breeding) business as usual. I’ll keep you posted!

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Betty Two is No More & Clowns Love Pipes!

My last dwarf gourami, the lovely blue Betty Two died on Monday. She had been a bit lethargic for a couple of days which was very noticeable as she was a happy wriggler and always one of the first to the food. I didn’t see any signs of illness other than that so maybe she was an old dear.

The larger of the two smiley cichlids had a small white lump with a pale pink line around it on its chin but over the last 5 days it has healed and become more white that pink. It did have some of the white stuff hanging off one day and I saw the smaller one nibble at it. Yuk, but it was probably just helping it! Since then the lump has shrunk and there hasn’t been any change in behaviour. I took out a piece of broken flowerpot thinking perhaps it has injured itself on something in the tank. I hope that the pink part of the ulcer/wound fading away means that it is healing. I did buy some Melafix and some aquarium salt but haven’t felt the need to use either; better to let it heal naturally than add extra stuff to the water.

On a happy note, all the other fishies are doing very well. The red and neon rainbow fish are very lively and the clown loaches are constantly entertaining. I added some pieces of plastic pipe bound with an elastic band, weighted with a piece of plant pot and the clowns love them. I thought they may be a little too big but they squeeze in quite happily. I’ve also seen an upside down catfish in there and even Stephen the bristlenose catfish. Now I really wouldn’t have thought there’d be room for that bristle beard.

I’ve been doing partial water changes every few days for the last couple of weeks as I did overdo it putting so many new fish in at once but it has worked out okay as I’ve been putting the extra work in and testing most days.

One of the red rainbows turned VERY orangey red on the first day which I understand means he is the dominant male. The thing is, I can’t tell the sex of the other fish. Oh the mysteries of the deep…

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Newbies Transform the Aquarium

I am pleased to say that I have 11 new fish! They are a Christmas present from my super husband and I couldn’t be more pleased.

We went to Amazon Aquatics (in Leigh, Lancashire) for the second time after buying the very healthy and successful clown loaches before Xmas. They have a great selection and I was happy to be helped by the owner yesterday. I bought the following:

4 x Red Rainbow Glossolepis incisus
2 x Sheephead Acara/Dwarf Flag Cichlid/Smiling Acara (tricky fellows with many aliases!) Laetacara curviceps
5 x Praecox Rainbow Melanotaenia praecox

I wanted more cichlids suitable for the community as I really miss the behaviour of the late Apistogramma borellis, following one another around and swimming in a stop/start fashion. This pair are beauties and have shown a variety of colours. They follow one another around and act as though they are a ‘pair’ (this attracted me to them in the shop) but their markings and fin shapes look like male attributes. Hard to tell I know but maybe they behave that way as they were the last two in the shop, sticking together or maybe I’ve got some peaceful gay fish. Either way, they are smashing and they SMILE!

The Rainbowfish were not a fish I had really considered but I asked for recommendations for my tank and the owner kindly found a book packed with colour photos of the different types and what their colours could or would be. I’m very pleased. The Reds are very brave and follow me if I am near the tank, they shoal with the Scissor tailed Rasboras, with the little Rainbows or on their own. As I write, I’ve noticed one of the Reds has changed to a bright orangey red colour and seems to be asserting its authority. What a huge colour change!

The Praecox are a smaller variety and have been hanging out near the surface adding interest to that neglected area. Their scales shine and look neon blue under the lights (they ARE also known as Neon Rainbows).

The whole tank looks so much more lively and the peaceful interaction is perfect for my community. Hopefully it will stay that way but who’s to say?!

I’ve tried to capture them in the pics, which also show some oldies…and an egg-filled shrimp hanging upside down.

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