Monday, February 14, 2011

Feeder Fish

A lot of people wonder about the use of feeder fish for their larger carnivorous friends.  Opinions on their use is mixed, but I feel that the occasional feeder guppy provides a chance for your fish to exhibit natural hunting behavior and relieves him of boredom.  However, some people argue that the use of feeders is cruel since the guppies or goldfish do not have a chance to escape as they would in the wild.  Additionally, continued use of cheap feeders like goldfish are actually bad for your fish since they are low in nutrition and high in fat.

On the other side of the argument is that feeders are cheap and easily replaced.  Additionally, people all have some sense of excitement and satisfaction watching animals hunt.

Below is a video I filmed of my friend's fish tank being fed feeder goldfish.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Shrimp Farm - How To

While fish are still the primary subject of most people's aquariums, the popularity of freshwater shrimp keeping has soared in recent years.  For most people (myself included) the hobby becomes an obsession with breeding better colors and raising a colony to take over the tank.

There are many species of shrimp that are popular in the aquatic community, but I'll be focusing on the easiest and most beginner friendly shrimp - the Red Cherry Shrimp (pictured right).  This shrimp is much easier to raise than others because it is more tolerant of wider range of temperature and water parameters.  They are also prolific breeders and your starting handful of ten will quickly become a colony of over a hundred individuals.  While that many shrimp seems intimidating to those of you that don't want to invest in huge tanks, the good news is that shrimp leave such a small footprint that one hundred will easily fit into a ten gallon tank.

The first thing that you need to do before you get your shrimp is to make sure that the water parameters are alright.  They can tolerate anywhere between 65 - 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but do best in mid to high 70's.  It is way more important for the water pH, hardness and temperature to stay stable than to highlight a specific number to follow.

The tank itself should be planted and ideally without any fish so that young shrimp babies aren't snatched up for a quick snack.  While it is possible for shrimp to survive with small fish such as neon tetras and endler's livebearers, they will be much more stressed and spend most of the time hiding, which they are excellent at.  Lots of plants are recommended as well as nooks and crannies provided by rocks or artificial caves to give the shrimp cover as well algae for them to eat.  Good low light plants that grow easily and without much maintenance include java moss, anubias and crypts.  Shrimp love to cling onto giant balls of java moss, but it does grow rampantly and rather unattractively so be warned.

After your tank is well established with plants and water parameters are stable, you can start to buy your shrimp.  Keep in mind only a handful of shrimp and they will quickly breed and multiply.  Once a shrimp develops eggs it becomes what is known as 'berried' because the eggs under its tail look like tiny berries.  Don't be discouraged if your first berried shrimp loses its eggs!  These things happen and they will be ready for round too soon enough.  When you do get shrimp fry, make sure you have a sponge filter so that they do not get sucked into the intake.

As the shrimp grow they will undergo many molts.  Do not remove these clear ghostly remnants of the shrimp as they will eat it to regain valuable minerals lost during the molting process.  A dead shrimp can be distinguished from a molt by the pinkish color that a dead shrimp will have while a molt will be completely milky white.

Once you have an established colony of Red Cherries you can now officially start to take over the world.

Iwagumi Style Tank

First off, some background info on the Iwagumi style of aquascaping.  Introduced in the 1990's by renowned aquarist Takashi Amano, this approach to aquarium design draws heavily from Japanese gardening techniques to mimic natural looking landscapes.  Unlike heavily planted tanks that feature dense "jungles" of plants, the Iwagumi style focuses on rock placement and carpeting plants.

Usually there are 3 or 5 stones with each given a specific name.  The first and largest is the Oyaishi or the main stone and is placed slightly off center.  The Soeishi are the accompanying stones that are smaller and less dynamic in character.  They are placed near the Oyaishi in order to highlight the larger rock.  Finally, the Fukuseki are secondary stones that may be absent from some tanks.  They are placed to the far left and far right and are the smallest of the three types.

After the rocks are placed as desired, aquarists like to grow a low carpeting plant that provides a natural hillside look and some slightly taller, thinner plants around the rocks for a slight contrast.  Fish may or may not be present, but if they are, it is usually a large group of schooling fish to provide order rather than many different species that can appear all over the tank and taking the focus away from the scape itself.

While these tanks may seem simplistic and very natural, they are among the hardest tanks to successfully maintain and should not be attempted by the beginning aquarist.

Here are some examples of the Iwagumi style of aquascaping.

Welcome to Fishkeeping Central

Are you a long time admirer, but complete beginner to the hobby of fish keeping?  Or perhaps a veteran hobbyist looking to expand his knowledge?  Whatever the case, Fishkeeping Central is a blog dedicated to providing you with tips to maintain a successful aquarium, articles on the latest developments of the hobby, product reviews and beautiful tank showcases guaranteed to inspire.

And with that, thank you for visiting!