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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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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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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Clicking Clowns and Eggless Wonders

I’m afraid the cichlid eggs vanished (into fishes mouths?!) a couple of days ago. The smilers are happily swimming together, flaring their fins and looking fine so I’m sure they’ll conjure up some more eggs in the future.

The top-dog red rainbow is still a beautiful sparkling red and asserting his authority. Nancy is still the most skittish fish I’ve ever seen. Any slight movement from us non-fish folk and she is zooming under her bogwood. I was pleased to creep up on her today and get a picture….before she swam off at top speed.

For the first time, I heard the clowns ‘clicking’ at one another while competing over a food pellet like a couple of snuffling piglets. Hooray, my fish can talk!

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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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