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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Big Boi is no more…

My male dwarf gourami Big Boi died this afternoon. He was propped in a plant at the surface, tilted slightly to one side. I put him in a little ‘hospital tank’ and he stayed the same for a few hours then died. Poor boy, I shall miss his glamourous sparkle in the tank.

How do you know for sure the age of the fish you buy? Perhaps some fish are older as the shops wait for them to develop their showier colours, such as Betta males? I’d like to breed fish in the future, perhaps when I find my favourite types…

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New Bristlenose and a Shy Sore-Bellied Platy

I was lured into buying a new bristlenose catfish today by the LFS – how dare they! He/she is about half the size of Nancy, with a similar colouring and tiny white tips to its tail. I might call it Peta/Peter or Victor/Victoria?! Or Steven. Nancy seems ok so far although I did watch her chase the new one away from the underside of the planted bogwood. There are two pieces of it and lots of room but she isn’t used to sharing. I also bought a lovely piece of mopani root (£4.99 bargain!) which is soaking in a bucket so I can see how much it tints the water; the tannins leached are supposed to deter algae but I don’t want a big imbalance of the stuff nor do I want brown water! I’ll keep it soaking a while. Also, I bought a small fern-like plant; no clue what it is but I’ll try and look it up online.

I had a good 50-60 litre water change today and replaced the white wooly top layer of the external filter with a new one. I bought some non-branded ones on eBay and had to snip a tiny bit with scissors for it to fit perfectly so I hope they will be effective. Big Boi the male Dwarf Gourami is very miffed with me as I have destroyed his nest of dead plant matter. He is determined number 7 will prove irresistible to Betty. He expressed his feelings towards me in the photo.

I’m a bit worried about Lemony the yellow female Platy as she has been hiding out in a flower pot lately. She is getting so skilled at camouflage that the other night I thought she had been eaten as I couldn’t find her! I assumed she was either hiding or guarding. Unfortunately, I think she has been hiding as her abdomen looks like someone has taken a nibble at it – her undercarriage looks a bit frayed! And a bit pink. You can just about see it in the fifth photo with Mr C the cichlid (it looks like he’s having a close look at it!) I’ll keep watching and (hopefully) learning!

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Rene is Here to Stay?

Just a quickie to tell you that Rene the bristlenose catfish is doing well and I hope is here to stay. He has one blister on his side that I can see and overall seems a lot smoother and back to his normal handsome self. He also seems to have eaten an algae wafer a day for two days; previously I was fishing out the uneaten wafers. He also seems to be behaving more normally, moving around more often and being his usual shy self when he is startled.

He is still in his small hospital tank and I’ve been changing 2/3 of the water every day and adding ‘cycle’ drops to the water. I’m so pleased not to have lost him and hope he is 100% soon.

In the community, Big Boi is building his THIRD nest. I’m afraid I destroyed the beginnings of the last one when I gave the tank a thorough cleaning when I first noticed fish illness. He has now forgiven me and trusts me enough not to mess with this one…

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Help! My Dwarf Gourami is nesting!

Big Boi the male Dwarf Gourami has started building a bubble nest! Just when I thought fish couldn’t get any more exciting! He has been carrying small pieces of plant matter to the nest, going to the surface frequently then swimming underneath the nest to release bubbles. He has been chasing any other fish who get too close for his liking.

The next stage, usually starting in an afternoon or evening, is the male showing off to the female by swimming around her flapping his fins, generally saying, “hey babe, come and look at my cosy nest!”

I’m sure Betty will go for it as Big Boi is very handsome and lets face it he is the ONLY male of her species in the tank. If she accepts him after his display, they should swim in circles underneath the nest. When she is ready for spawning, she would touch him with her mouth on his back, then he helps her to get those tens of eggs into the nest which he fertilises immediately. It will then be up to the male to blow more bubbles over the eggs to help keep them part of the nest. After 12-24 hours, the eggs will hatch. After about three days the young ones should be able to swim on their own so will escape the nest.

This is the part where I need HELP. Assuming all of this will happen successfully, advice I have read about using a breeding tank is that the female is removed straight away and the male removed after a few days of caretaking the nest. If the parents are not removed, the young are eaten. Bearing in mind that this is happening by chance in my 200Litre community tank, not a shallow water breeding tank, is it enough for me to see if any tiddlers survive on their own or could I remove the eggs and nest and keep them in a small tank? I would have to get another heater of course…

Any advice would be very much appreciated!

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Rene the Bristlenose Has Landed

I had a call today from a lovely lady at Maidenhead Aquatics with the fine news that they had a Bristlenose Catfish in stock. Nancy has been waiting for her boyfriend for a while and he is a similar size to her. The shop seems to get them in so young sometimes that it is not immediately possible to tell the sex. Rene is a beauty. His bristles are fantastic. The photo is of him in the transporting bag but he is now in the tank…in Nancy’s favourite spot hanging on the underside of the planted bogwood. I hope she gets the courage to join him. The woman who sold him to me said he had once belonged to her but she did not have any breeding success, so brought him to the shop to sell. A customer did buy him, but them returned him as he wasn’t wanted for some reason. I want you Rene!!!

I took a couple of (tank!) water samples the the LFS* today for them to test the phosphate level as I believe this is a major cause of hairy algae and I have rather a lot of it at the moment. The level was ‘high’ and all else was fine. While Rene acclimatised to the temperature of the tank, I gave it a spruce. I rinsed the filter media in a bucket of tank water, removed the carbon bag and added JBL PhosEX Ultra. It should remove phosphates from the water and last 6 months to a year (absorbs 18000mg of phosphate). I removed the carbon to facilitate the Interpet Anti Hair Algae I added to the water. The instructions recommend dosing once a week for four weeks. I’m not sure when I can safely put the carbon back in the filter basket though so I’ll have to try and find online forum advice. Does anyone out there have advice about this?

*LFS = Local fish shop. I think I picked this up from wise fish-friend Slimnexus.
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Phantom Pregnancies, Water Changing & New Fish

I was convinced my three female platys were pregnant, as Randy had chased them around a lot waggling his pointy fin. Plus they all grew bigger bellies. There hasn’t been any sign of fry so perhaps I am mistaken, maybe Randy hasn’t actually caught up with any of the ladies…maybe the girls eat a lot…maybe the fry have already popped out and been eaten?? But Lemony, Netty and Minnie do still have big bellies. The pic shows Minnie, Lemony and Randy.

I did a water change yesterday using water from the cold tap in a couple of buckets, with added boiling water from the kettle. I tested the temperature with a glass thermometer and it was the same as the tank water. I added Aqua Plus to remove the chlorine of course before adding to the tank. I’ll do it that way again as it was better than leaving a couple of buckets of water under the dining table overnight to get up to room temperature – an accident waiting to happen as I am very clumsy! I wiped the sides of the tank with a sponge and trimmed a couple of leaves from the plants that were covered in hairy algae. I think this might be growing as we have had a rare bit of English sun which falls on the tank. No brit sunshine any more so hopefully the algae will reduce.

Lastly, I’m planning a trip to the fish shop this weekend. More fish! More fish! More fish!

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