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Common Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher)

February 10, 2014

These little African cichlids were feeling a little bit camera-shy today, but who isn’t on a Monday?

Originating from rivers in Africa, these little cichlids are a lot of fun to keep.  I’d recommend that you read the care sheets at Seriously Fish, if you are interested and don’t know about them yet.  Best kept in pairs, I purchased a group of 6 fry from one of the LFSs in Portland, OR.  They have finally started to pair off at about 5-6 months of age.  Their colors are amazing, and the video doesn’t do them justice.  I haven’t noticed any eggs yet, but I’m currently trying to find other aquariums for the remaining unpaired kribs.

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Frogspawn Coral (Euphyllia divisa)

January 2, 2011

Frogspawn, a great stater coral

Frogspawn is a great beginner’s coral.  It gets it’s name from the physical resemblance to a clump of frog eggs.  It is very forgiving and doesn’t need as much light as other corals.  However it may sting sometimes, so make sure to wear gloves if you don’t want to run the risk.  If you are moving this coral, wave your hand in front of it to create strong water flow against it’s tentacles; it should retract and prevent damage caused by hanging and heavy tentacles out of the water.

Commonly confused with Torch coral, identifying this coral can be tricky.  However, a sure way to tell if the coral in question is a Frogspawn is to look at the white tips of the tentacles.  A Frogspawn will have more than one white tip, or spot.  The tentacle will appear to be a branching arm with many white spots.  Torch coral has only a single spot per tentacle.

Name: Branching Frogspawn Coral (Euphyllia paradivisa)

Native Range: Pacific Ocean

Water Parameters: 75-82 degrees F, pH 8.0-8.4

Maximum Size: Large, can grow to several feet across

Feeding/Supplements/Light: Frogspawn will appreciate occasional spot feeding.  Frozen mysis shrimp bits will be accepted, but smaller pieces are more effective.  It will also benefit from regular supplementation of strontium and molybdenum, as well as vitamins.  This coral does well under diffuse light, especially in actinic or 20,000K color temperature lighting.  Under t5 bulbs, it can be placed anywhere in the aquarium.  Under metal halide bulbs, it does best when placed low in the tank.

Compatibility:  Usually docile with other Euphyllia corals, it will sting other corals that are too close.  Place several inches away from most corals to prevent sweeper tentacles from stinging it’s neighbors.

Growth: Frogspawn is a moderately fast grower.  When supplemented and under lower light, it will swell to be a fairly substantial coral.  The branching form will form individual heads that split, giving it a growth form similar to tree branches.  It will also sprout heads out of the branches as well, so don’t throw away the base of this coral when it gets big!  Fragging this coral is straightforward; use heavy duty clippers to break the skeleton at branching points.

Frogspawn Coral, with it's classic bubbly look

Frogspawn Coral, with it's classic bubbly look

 

Welcome to the world of salt

December 28, 2010

I’ve recently taken up keeping a saltwater reef aquarium.  I was apprehensive at first, simply because I’ve heard that they can be very expensive.  After I was offered a deal I couldn’t refuse, I started my first reef tank.  Of course, I eventually transferred it over to my 40 gallon breeder aquarium.  It is the perfect size for a reef!

The transfer happened on December 14, just a few weeks ago.  So far it is doing great in the new larger tank.

Want to know about it?  Of course you do…

As far as corals go, I’ve got a few.  The soft corals (affectionately called “softies’) include hairy mushrooms, purple mushrooms, dragon eye zoanthids, green palythoas, sun palythoas, blue tubbs zoanthids, green crossette zoanthids, bumblebee zoanthids, whammin’ watermelon zoanthids, and some un-named purple zoas and orange zoas.  Oh, and don’t forget everyone’s favorites: green star polyps, pulsing xenia and some awesome purple star polyps.

Large polyp stony (LPS) corals include green candy cane, pink candy cane, branching hammer, pink torch, frogspawn and galaxea (tooth) coral.  These guys happen to be my favorite!

I do have some small polyp stony (SPS) coral.  These tend to be more finicky as far as water quality is concerned, but as long as I keep up with the water changes they show me some love.  I’ve got a Turbinaria cup coral, originally labeled yellow but it looks purple/green to me.  My Mycedium chalice coral is a nice one, though it is a slow grower.  I’ve also got a yellow Acropora coral, and it is a fast grower.  They are doing great so far, and I hope they last a long time for me.  Maybe they’ll get big enough to where I can frag them someday!

Other invertebrate citizens include a tiger pistol shrimp, a pair of peppermint shrimp, a red/yellow striped feather duster worm, many nassarius snails, a few scarlet hermit crabs and half a dozen blue leg hermit crabs.  There are some sponges on the rocks and hair worms in the sand, but I didn’t buy them.  They came with the territory… literally!

Fish… fish.  The most exciting part of an aquarium.  I’ve got an orange molly.  Yes, these fish can live in completely marine conditions.  They do a good job of picking at algae, even though they make the tank look freshwater.  I’ve also got 6 green chromis, an ocellaris clownfish pair that hosts in the hairy mushrooms, a pajama cardinalfish, a firefish, a high-fin redbanded goby that’s paired with the pistol shrimp, and thats it.  I may swap out the molly for a royal gramma one of these days, but only time will tell.  And my algae population.

Pics of all to come soon.

Gear Review

March 23, 2010
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Up for review today is Aquariumplants.com‘s electronic co2 regulator.  It can be purchased off the company website, and is usually in stock.  There must be quite a demand for these, despite the high price.

First off, it can be screwed directly onto your existing standard co2 cylinder.  No adapters are required as long as you use the standard size threading.  It takes a little bit of jockeying to get it fully seated while still remaining facing forward.  However, this can be a good thing if you are putting it in a place that requires the adjustment dial to be facing a direction other than straight forward.  I would recommend testing the tightness of your regulator’s seating with a thick soapy solution.  Bubbles will indicate a leak.  The directions that come with the regulator will answer some of your possible questions, though.

Aquariumplants.com's electronic co2 regulator

The model I purchased was the simple version with no LCD display.  That means that my bubble frequency is displayed as intermittent blinks of a red LED.  The bubble frequency and the bubble size can be adjusted to suit your co2 needs and the water pressure of your system (i.e. whether you inject to a canister filter or the tank itself).  It has the input slot for those of you with pH controllers.

This little baby is as precise as they come.  The bubble frequency that I originally set has not changed noticeably.  There is no needle valve, solenoid or manual bubble counter.  That means that they won’t be there to wear out on you and cause fluctuating co2 levels.  This makes maintenance a breeze.  There is nothing to repair!  The only thing that could go wrong would be to have the electronics burn out from a power spike.  You can help prevent that by plugging it into a powerstrip.  But who doesn’t use one of those already with your fish tank?

Pros:

  • Very precise
  • Very easy to use – just screw it onto the cylinder and connect it to your diffuser
  • Nothing to repair such as needle valves, etc
  • Customizable co2 injection rate

Cons:

  • Very expensive (nearly $200 as of today)
  • Adds a little bit to your electricity bill – it uses 12 volts and draws 0.5 amps

Overall, this unit is worth every penny if you are serious about your planted aquarium.  It won’t fail on you, and you can use it even if you aren’t so mechanically inclined.  Now, if fertilizing the aquarium would become this easy we’d be set.

German Blue Rams Spawning (part 2)

March 13, 2010
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Ok, its been a few weeks since this happened.  I’ve been busy with school, but now spring break is upon me and I have spare time.  Here is that video of the rams that I promised.  I apologize ahead of time for the algae, once again I’ll blame school!

The Blue Rams (Microgeophagus ramirezi) have spawned!

January 22, 2010
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I got a new Fluval 305 from Fishy Business, an online store, a few days ago.  I was completely ready for it, since they did a great job of updating me when the order was processed, shipped, and everything else a good shipper should tell you.  Back to the topic, I stuck a few bags of peat moss in the media trays of the 305, and I had instant Amazon blackwater!  The pH dropped to about 6.7 or so, and the water was a light tea color.  That obviously pleased my blue rams, and within two days they put out a nice spawn of eggs on a piece of driftwood.

They had been hiding in the Lileaopsis brasiliensis for the last day or so, and I was worried that they were suffering from some incompetence on my part.  I had been changing their water parameters a lot in the last few days, and I hoped I wasn’t getting a nutrient spike of some sort.  They were staying low in the grass and rapidly quivering their pectoral fins, while leaving their dorsals upright.  This looked like either a pH or ammonia response to me (silly me…) so I tested and retested my water, with everything coming out at safe levels.  Finally today I noticed the female’s cloaca was distended, and so I got suspicious.  I checked out the spot where she had been hiding in the L. brasiliensis, and along with the male I found a cluster of eggs.  I managed to snap one picture, but I didn’t want to disturb them too much.  Don’t mind the dirty aquarium glass, I guess that’s what happens when you overhaul an aquarium’s filtration system.

Blue Rams (Microgeophagus ramirezi) spawning in an Amazon blackwater aquarium

Its not the easiest thing to see, and the picture isn’t my best work, but I wanted a quick shot.  If you aren’t able to tell whats going on in the photo, the female (with the red belly, above the male) is pointed straight at the eggs, which are attached to the piece of driftwood.  I will post a short video later, but that will have to wait until I get to my desktop.  My little netbook doesn’t handle HD video too well.

Gear Review

January 14, 2010
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Up for review is the Stealth Pro Heater by Marineland. I have the 200W model, listed adequate for aquariums up to 55 gallons. I have it in my 40 gallon tank. Measuring in at 14″ long, you’d think that it would stick out like a sore thumb. Not the case with this heater. Its matte black finish blends in nicely with almost any background. It has no shiny surfaces that might catch your eye. In fact, the only part that is noticeable is the LED temperature indicator. If its heating, it shines a red color, and if its at the set temperature, it shines green. It features an automatic shut-off if the heater is out of water, in case you forget to top off your tank. The temperature dial is easy to get to, easy to turn, and is programmable in actual degrees Fahrenheit. The box includes two suction cups and clips to attach the heater to your aquarium.

The other unique thing about this heater is the absence of any movable parts. Most heaters aren’t meant to have moving parts at all, but this heater has a mica core with an epoxy filler. This heater doesn’t make a sound when you shake it! Coupled with its solid state circuitry, this makes it very shock proof. I’ve dropped mine already, and it still works exactly the way it did when I opened the box. It also comes with a lifetime warranty. Not bad.

Marineland Stealth Pro Heater

Pros:

  • Good looking housing
  • Auto shut-off when water is low
  • LED indicator to show heating/off
  • Shock-proof innards

Cons:

  • The temperature sensor (supposedly accurate to within 1 degree) may work fine, but that doesn’t mean it heats any more efficiently.
  • Doesn’t heat water much past the 80 degree mark even in high flow

Overall this heater is a little on the expensive side, but it looks good. Find it on sale and buy it. If you are prone to breaking heaters or require a visually pleasing heater, I would pay the extra few dollars and get this little toughy. Otherwise, it doesn’t heat the aquarium any better than any other heater I’ve ever owned.

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