New fish! New fish! New fish! Yes, I’m excited…

Em, yes I got FOUR new fish today! We went to Maidenhead Aquatics at Appley Bridge, Wigan with the intention of buying the next Lake Malawi fish for the new tank but I was advised to wait for another couple of weeks. I cycled the water, added the first six fish and watched the Ammonia and Nitrite levels fluctuate. I’ve added beneficial bacteria, done a couple of smallish water changes (not wanting to get rid of the good bacteria) and watched the fish. Not a bad pastime but I’ve been really pleased that the last few tests have shown a ZERO result for Ammonia and Nitrite at last! I tested this morning before fish shopping and the Nitrate was 40-80ppm which was the reason for the delay in adding more fish buddies. I was advised to do a couple of smaller water changes per week to get the Nitrate to about 20ppm. The cichlids seem to be really hardy but the shock of low Nitrate to 40-80ppm would be a shock for them. Good advice.

I have been mulling over the idea of Lace (AKA Pearl) Gouramis for the community tank for some time and they had some fine examples in the shop today so I’ve bought two males and two females. Reading about them, I was interested as they are lovely looking fish of course plus they get to a nice size and are peaceful. They have such a pretty speckled pattern with a dark stripe along the body and over the eyes, the bellies are a stunning orange colour and the barbels are so long. I’ve missed those things after losing Big Boi and Betty so it is great to see them reaching out for me! They also have VERY impressive skirts. Very important I’m sure!

I’ve had another bout of hair algae in this tank so have cleaned and pruned plants and added the last dose of treatment I had. I had added a Phosphate remover to the filter a long while ago but this must be saturated with the stuff now so it was time for a replacement. I did a small water change and added the remover to the filter today before adding the new fish. There is a second bag of the Phosphate remover which I will add to the African Cichlid tank but I just have to steal a ‘pop sock’ from my mum’s underwear drawer when I next visit – well, the one bag in the box looks just like the foot of a pair of tights!! (Sorry Mum in anticipation of your frantic search for that missing garment).

Lastly, as well as the hair algae, I have been a little frustrated with the harder dots of green algae on the glass which doesn’t want to budge when I use my sponge. Eureka! I bought a JBL Blanki – a wire wool pad on a hinged stick to scrub it away….it really works! You can still see some algae in the photos but my excuse is that I wanted to get a move on to add the new fishies!

Mmmmmm fish! Oh and the Acei Cichlid is STILL mouthbrooding….

Happy Sunday everyone😀

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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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Happy World Rat Day!

Happy World Rat Day 2013 everyone! I know, this is my fish blog but I am a rat fan and used to keep them. Sadly, I am more allergic to rats than pretty much anything else so decided to stop keeping them. My husband really missed them so started being a rat keeper himself. This way I don’t have to wheeze and sneeze cleaning the giant cage and doing other rattie related things. I tend to get involved if they need some TLC, cleaning, wound washing, medicining. Then I reach for my inhaler! 😷 Great fun but fish don’t make me wheeze. Go fish!

The photos below are of our ratties past and present. We’ve only ever had two male rats, Beagrie and Boris, the rest have all been good girls. One of the photos shows Boris flaunting himself so those of a sensitive disposition beware!!

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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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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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Eggs, death and a bulbous belly

Yes, we have a third batch of cichlid eggs being watched over constantly. Some look white, some clear and I’m sure they all look tasty to the other tank residents!

One of my two apple snails died a couple of days ago. It had retracted into its shell much more than usual and on closer inspection, the shell like ‘door’ had been nibbled. The foul smell was not as long lived in my nostrils as last time so I must have netted it out just in time. Phew.

The last thing to note is the unusually round belly on a small upside down catfish. It is swimming normally but hanging around the big one more than usual (the boss of the white rock, seen at the top of the photo). I’ve read that they are very unlikely to breed in a home aquarium but I’ve also seen a YouTube clip of one with bloat and mine is nowhere near that swollen. Can it be an eggy belly? I hope so as I don’t want a sick fish. On the bright side, the other day we noticed threeupside downies; I thought there were only two left of the original four so that’s a result!

Thanks for reading and if anyone has suggestions about my catfish then please do let me know. I’ll keep you posted.

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