Thinking About Getting an Aquarium? Look Out for These Rookie Mistakes

Are you considering getting into the hobby of fishkeeping? It’s a wonderful world of beauty and relaxation. We’ve written about all the benefits of fishkeeping before. There’s more to it than just buying an aquarium and filling it with water, and there’s a lot to learn if you want to save yourself time, money, and fish. Do you know what the nitrogen cycle is? Did you know there are certain fish that are best for a brand-new tank? There is a whole world of information out there, and we’re going to give you some of the most important considerations and tips right here.

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The Nitrogen Cycle

Nitrogen is everywhere in this world. As it turns out, nitrogen gas makes up around 78% of our planet’s atmosphere when measured by volume. The nitrogen cycle refers to the way nitrogen breaks down. Bacteria and other single-celled organisms turn atmospheric nitrogen, called N2, into a form that is biologically usable. That process is called nitrogen fixation. The nitrogen-fixing bacteria we care about live in water.

I’m sure you’re wondering what this science lesson has to do with fishkeeping. Just put the water into the tank, and then the fish, right? Well, nothing’s ever that simple unfortunately. The first step of the nitrogen cycle is to turn the atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia. Ammonia will kill your fish if they’re not strong enough. After the ammonia byproducts comes nitrites, and these too will kill weaker fish. Finally, at the end of the process, comes nitrates, which supports life. And now your fish are safe.

The nitrogen cycle should take about 30 days. In that time, you’re going to want to stick to hearty fish like one of the Gourami variants. Gold Gouramis, Moonlight Gouramis, and Pearl Gouramis are excellent choices of species when you’re starting a fresh nitrogen cycle. Once the nitrogen cycle has completed you can broaden your selection of fish, but be careful; you still have to make sure your fish are compatible with each other.

Don’t let your Fish get ‘Ichy’

Have you heard of Ich? It’s short for ichthyophthiriasis. What a mouthful! Ich is also known as white spot disease. This disease is a parasitic disease, and it shows up, unsurprisingly, as white spots on your fish’s skin. In most situations, Ich shows up from stress. Stresses such as temperature changes, or even just being bagged up to take home, can cause Ich. You could purchase a perfectly healthy fish, only for it to develop Ich on the drive home. If your fish doesn’t show spots after you’ve had it for 5 days, you’re in the clear – for now. You’ll still have to watch for Ich whenever there’s a shock, like a sudden temperature drop.

aquarium care and maintenance
Symptoms of Ich showing on a fish.

What to do About Ich

Chances are, you’re going to have to deal with Ich at some point in your fishkeeping hobby. So, you’d probably like to know what to do once the infection shows up. When you face Ich, you’ll need to wait for the parasite to fall off and start to replicate.

Ich has three stages. The Trophont stage is when symptoms are showing on your fish. What’s happening during this time is the parasite is burrowing under your fish’s mucus coating, and forming a cyst. That cyst is the reason you can’t treat the infection as soon as it shows up; it protects the parasite from treatment.

After the Trophont stage comes the Tomont stage. This is when you can begin treatment. During this stage the parasite floats for hours in the water, looking for a plant or something to attach to. Once it’s attached it starts dividing and replicating inside the cyst, so you’ll need to act fast.

Finally, if you miss the Tomont stage, the Ich enters the final stage called Thermonts, or the swarmer stage. In this stage, the new parasites are looking for new hosts. The good news is, they’re on a time limit. If they don’t find a host within 48 hours, they will die. That means, while drastic, you have one final chance to get rid of the Ich. If you leave the fish tank empty during this stage, you’ll kill the swarmers.

Watch the Temperature

Tropical fish don’t need heaters, unless you’re living somewhere extremely cold. Tropical fish, like goldfish, prefer the temperature at 76-79 degrees. Up into the mid 80’s is ok, but don’t let it go higher or your fish are going to suffer. The big problem you’re going to face the most is in the summer, when your house gets warm.

When your house gets warm, your aquarium gets warm, then your fish get warm, and at best, sick. But remember Ich? If the water gets warm and you drop the temperature too quickly, say hello to a new wave of the parasitic infection. Having an aquarium chiller is a fantastic way to manage your aquarium’s temperatures. If you didn’t get the chiller, just keep your air conditioning running. Take steps to keep your house cool you’ll be able to keep your aquarium cool, and your fish happy.

The first question everyone asks is “Can I drop some ice cubes in the water?” You have to be careful with this. If you drop too many ice cubes at once, the temperature will fall too quickly. The other issue is what ice is made of: water. If you put too much ice in, you could over-fill the tank on accident. In addition, water from the ice may not be treated properly for your tank environment, and these changes will stress fish. You’re definitely going to want to have some sort of plan here in California, where even beach cities can reach 100 degrees in the summer.

Watch your Water Levels

It might seem odd, the idea that you can give your fish too much water, but it’s true. Fish still need oxygen, and if you fill your tank all the way to the top, they won’t get what they need. You want to make sure there’s an air gap between the surface of the water and the lid of the tank. This allows air to reach the water surface, and for the water to absorb oxygen. Fortunately, this doesn’t need to be a big gap, so if you only fill your tank to 95% you’re in the clear. Another nice thing is this number is good pretty much regardless of the tank size. As you get into a larger tank, that air gap automatically gets bigger. The crucial moment to be cautious is when you’re refilling water lost from evaporation, so just fill it slowly so you can stop at the right level and the tank will be just fine.

Don’t let the Water Become Acidic

Acidic water is never a good thing. Have you seen what acidic water is doing to the great barrier reef? Your fish won’t like it any more. Make sure to monitor your aquarium’s PH levels with a test kit. Once every couple of weeks should do the job. If the test kit comes back as a yellow color, you’re looking at acidic water. Remember, the more fish you have in your tank, the more carefully you have to monitor the water. Even when the fish “go to the bathroom” in the water, they’re contributing to the acid levels in their environment.

Safe PH levels are 7.0 and above. If the water is falling below 7.0 you’re going to want to drop an alkaline buffer in the tank to raise that PH measurement back to an appropriate level. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about your water having too high a PH level, also known as being alkaline. Bigger, better filters will help with your PH levels but no matter how good your filter is, make sure you remember to test your water.

Don’t Skimp on the Filter

You might be tempted to save money on your filter, since it’s one of the pricier parts of an aquarium setup, but you’ll be making a mistake. You can never have too much filter, but if you don’t have enough, your fish will suffer. If the filter can’t do its job, you’ll have to work extra hard to keep your fish alive.

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Air Pumps Partner with the Filter

In addition to your filtration system, you should consider using an air pump. Air pumps, as their name implies, pump air into the water, which has a few benefits. If you use an air-stone type air filter, it doubles as a tank decoration. The bubbles created by your air pump will move the water around, which the fish like. Of course, extra air in the water will make it easier for your fish to breathe. One other big benefit of an air pump is as a backup. If your filter dies, your air pump will keep your fish alive until you can replace that filter. Imagine you’re at work, and you don’t know the filter has malfunctioned. Without an air pump, you will probably come home to dead fish. With an air pump, you’ll come home to say hello to your fish swimming happily along, and with enough time to replace the filter.

You may have heard the phrase “One is none, two is one” before. Enter backup air pumps. These pumps operate on batteries, and you can attach them to your aquarium in an event such as a power failure, or, somehow, your filter and air pump both die. They’re not a long-term solution, but they’ll give you time to correct the problem, or get your power back, or whatever the situation requires. A backup air pump is like an insurance plan. It’s a lot cheaper to get a backup air pump for your aquarium than it is to replace your fish.

Do not Spray

When you’re cleaning the outside of the tank, or the area around the tank, do not use any spray-based cleaners or air fresheners. An air pump will suck in those fumes and push them right into the water your fish live in. Even if you don’t have an air pump, the chemicals can still settle into the water naturally.

Consider Hiring an Aquarium Service

Fishkeeping is a fun, engaging, and rewarding hobby. If you’re looking to get into this wonderful world, a good way to start is to hire an aquarium service. Companies like Aquatech Aquarium Service can help you set up your aquarium, answer any questions, and then provide ongoing service to make sure your fish are as happy as a clam. If you’ve got questions, or you’d like Aquatech to help you, call (310) 993-2183, or drop a line through email.

Great Tips for Keeping Your Favorite Fish Healthy and Happy

New aquarium owners need a little help to get their freshwater or saltwater aquariums off on the right foot. Even seasoned fishkeeping veterans can use some more helpful tips. With that in mind, Aquatech Aquarium Service has put together a few handy tips for aquarium maintenance and other fish keeping tasks:

Clean Your Gravel and Ornaments First

When starting a new saltwater or freshwater aquarium, always make sure to thoroughly wash the aquarium gravel. This should also be done periodically as part of regular aquarium maintenance. You should also clean any large rocks and ornaments you want to use before you place them in the aquarium. Never use any soap or detergents when you are cleaning gravel or ornaments. Cleaning solutions usually have chemicals that are highly toxic to fish. Try using a colander to clean your gravel instead.

Add your gravel to the colander and then run clean water over it. Stir up the gravel continuously so that any debris in the gravel falls out. Continue to clean the gravel with the colander, repeating the process until the water runs clean. Place gravel in the aquarium very carefully so you don’t scratch the inside of your custom aquarium.

Condition the Water Properly For Easier Aquarium Maintenance

Fish need to get oxygen from the water they swim in, similar to the way humans get oxygen from fresh air. Just like air, water contains many other chemicals other than oxygen. Clean water that is free of toxic chemicals is critical to the long term health of your underwater life. Unfortunately, ordinary tap water from the sink comes with countless chemicals that are toxic to fish.  Chemicals such as chlorine and fluorine are just as harmful for fish to breathe in as they are for humans. Just like dirty air, you must eliminate these chemicals from your water in order to support healthy aquatic life. To condition the water for your fish properly, you should add dechlorinating solution and other aquarium water supplements to any tap water you use for aquarium maintenance. These supplements are available at your local aquarium sales and tropical fish store.

Not Everything Green Is Good

Algae is no good for you or your aquarium fish and plants. Algae buildup in saltwater or freshwater aquariums causes green deposits on the inside of the glass. It also gives the water in your custom aquarium a dirty and murky look. Since algae is a plant, it competes with your aquatic life for oxygen in the water. This creates numerous health problems for your aquarium fish.

Your local fish store or aquarium fish supply outlet has a variety of tools to help fight algae buildup. You can use algae scrub brushes with long handles to reach all the way into the tank. You can also use aquarium algae magnets to scrape off excess algae from the glass. Make sure to clean up any algae that may come off the sides and  float down to the gravel of your custom aquarium.

Keep Notes for Your Aquarium Maintenance

It helps to keep a journal that details how often you perform regular aquarium maintenance. Starting at your setup date, make notes of all your water test results. Keep a list of any fish you purchased, and when and where you bought them. As you perform your aquarium maintenance tasks, keep a record of them in your journal.

If any issues should arise in your custom aquarium, you can refer back to your notes, and even show them to your aquarium sales or fish store. They can take a look and offer advice to you based on the information in your journal.

If a paper journal is too difficult to manage, you don’t have to worry! There are apps available for both Android phones and iPhones that allow you to easily document all your aquarium maintenance tasks from startup, as well the sea life you have in your custom aquarium.

Call the Professionals for Regular Aquarium Maintenance

If you still want the look and beauty of a custom aquarium, but don’t have the time or desire to perform regular aquarium maintenance, there is still hope! Call the professionals at Aquatech Aquarium Service in Los Angeles. Harold Weiner and his aquarium service staff have been helping people with their aquarium maintenance for over 25 years. They’re wizards at saltwater and freshwater tanks, and can even take care of your koi pond maintenance.

Where There’s a Gill…

A healthy goldfish shows off its gill.The gill is a very important organ in any tropical freshwater fish. For humans the act of breathing happens in the lungs. The exchange of carbon dioxide gas for oxygen gas is an important function for all living creatures. But aquarium fish do not have lungs as humans do. Instead, they have filaments on either side of their throat: the gills.

How the Gill Works

Although most people are aware that fish use their gills for breathing, these organs do much more than simple gas exchange. As the water moves over the filaments of the gills, they exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. Fish take water in by the mouth and push it outward over the filaments of the gill. The delicate structure of the gills of aquarium fish makes them very important for maintaining the health of your fish.

Gills and Fish Health

There are a number of ailments that fish in freshwater aquariums can suffer affecting the gills. Columnaris (also called Cotton Wool Disease) may leave yellowish gray patches on the gills. Velvet or Gold Dust Disease can leave gold to white spots on the fish, and the animal can have difficulty breathing because of damage to their gills. Parasites such as copepods can also damage the gills. Ammonia poisoning causes the gills to become red or bloody, leaving the fish gasping for air. Fortunately, all of these can be treated if caught quickly enough.

Keeping the Fish Breathing

Good aquarium maintenance is the most certain way of preventing these ailments from damaging your fish’s gills.  Some of the ailments mentioned above require medications for the fish in order to combat the ailment. Something like ammonia poisoning can be remedied by improving your cleaning routines and making sure tank filters are working properly. Some of the diseases are contagious, however, and  a full cleaning and disinfecting of the tank may be necessary, in order to keep all your fish healthy.

Making sure that regular maintenance of your aquarium is very important for the health of your fish. How frequently you do a thorough cleaning of your tank can depend on the size of the aquarium. If you do not feel confident about your own ability to do the cleaning, especially if you are dealing with the aftermath of a contagious fish disease, look to an aquarium cleaning service like Aquatech Aquarium Service for expert help and advice.

Careful attention to your fish can ensure they get proper care and thrive. Make note of whether there seems to be discoloration around your fish’s gills or if they seem to be having a hard time breathing. If you notice that one of your fish is ailing contact experts to determine what specifically you need to do to bring them back to good health.

Something Fishy: Freshwater Sharks

Freshwater "sharks"Choosing creatures called freshwater sharks may seem strangely fascinating to a fish-keeping beginner. Many people who are beginners in keeping aquariums choose tropical freshwater fish for the occupants of their first aquarium. When a beginner isn’t familiar with many of the species available, certain names have appeal. “Freshwater sharks” has an attraction for many. These fish are also distinctive looking and a wonderful addition to any aquarium.

Cyprinidae, Not Sharks

Learning the scientific names of fish may be part of setting up freshwater aquariums. The fish that are popularly called “freshwater sharks” are actually of the family Cyprinidae, and are totally unrelated to ocean sharks. The popular name was given these fish because the shape of their bodies resembles that of the marine predators. Among the types of fish that belong to this group are Bala Shark, Tricolor Shark, Silver Shark, Labeos, Roseline Shark, and the Rainbow Shark.

Aquarium Residents

Owners of custom aquariums like to have interesting looking fish inhabiting the tank. The rainbow shark is a popular choice for aquariums. It is also called the red-fin shark, the rainbow sharkminnow, the ruby shark or the whitefin shark. These fish tend to dwell at the bottom of the tank, where they eat up leftover fish food. They also clean surfaces, eating the algae that might grow on various surfaces. This quality makes them a useful addition to the population of the aquarium.

Freshwater Sharks Compatibility with Other Fish

The trick about selecting aquarium fish for your tank is choosing animals that will live well together. Although a solitary rainbow shark may live mildly with other types of fish in the aquarium, it is not a wise idea to have two in the same tank. Although they get along well with their own kind out in the wild, they tend to be aggressive if they share the same tank. They exhibit fighting behavior which can include threat displays and head-and-tail butting and biting. A larger rainbow shark would also chase a smaller one all around the aquarium. So if the novice fish-keeper wants to include a rainbow shark in their tank population, they should stick to only one at a time.

Selecting fish for a new tank may be a challenge to the novice, so it would be a good idea to find an aquarium service that will be happy to give advice. Experts can help the new aquarium owner choose the ideal residents for the tank. Many comfortable hours can be spent enjoying the movements of an aquarium population.

Restocking the Aquarium is Simply In the Bag

Acclimating new fish in a tank during restockingOK, so you just bought some new tropical fish for restocking your freshwater aquarium, and you want to get them home and into the tank as soon as possible.

So you race right home, open the bag and dump them right into the tank right?

Wrong!

There is a right way and a wrong way to introduce your new tropical fish to your fish tank, and what we just described is very much the wrong way. Some gentle preparation is in order to move those new fish into their new environment safely.

When Restocking, Acclimation is the Key

The purpose of acclimation is simple: the water that the fish or corals are packaged in has different temperature, pH, and salinity parameters than your aquarium. Fish, and especially invertebrates (including corals), are very sensitive to even minor changes in these parameters, so proper acclimation is the key to ensuring their successful relocation.

Of course, this whole process begins with selecting some healthy fish from your local aquarium specialist. Take special care to make sure the breeds of fish that you have are compatible and get along. Most pet stores are staffed by knowledgeable clerks and attendants who can help you pick out fish that will be able to share a tank without causing one another harm.

Now that you have chosen your new fish, the process begins, bringing them back to your home is an important part of the process of preparing them for their new environment. As you transport your new fish home, make sure you cover the bag with something to help reduce the stress experienced by the fish during transportation.

Once home, let the bag float in your tank for 15 minutes to a half hour, allowing the fish to get used to the temperature of the water in your tank. Certainly the water in the transport bag will be remarkable different in temperature from the water in your tank, so this process of acclimation is very important.

Equalize the temperature

After the temperature equalization, open the bag and being very careful not to spill any of the water into the tank, get a clean cup and put some tank water into the bag. You will want to put an amount in the bag about equal to what already was in it, thus approximately doubling the volume. Allow the bag to float for another 15 minutes.

Now take the bag out of the tank and open it to allow you to reach in with a net. Gently scoop up your new fish with your net and withdraw the net from the bag, allowing the net to simply rest in the water until your new fish swim out of it and into their new habitat.

Repeat this process until you have brought all of your new fish from the bag into the tank.

Once you have completed the transfer, it is very important that you do not empty the remaining water from the bag into your tank. This water may contain germs or diseases from the pet store, which may result in a deaths or illness to your fish.

So there you have it! A simple restocking method for introducing your new fish into their new habitat safely! Follow these simple step for an easy and enjoyable time with your tropical fish tank!

Something Fishy: Damselfish

A yellow DamselfishFor those who are interested in saltwater aquariums one of the crucial aspects is choosing which fish to keep.  A saltwater or marine aquarium is one that holds an environment for fish that need saltwater to live in. The tropical fish known from ocean waters require such a habitat. One of the most popular species of tropical saltwater fish for aquariums is the Damselfish.

Habitat: Nature and Aquarium

Many popular marine aquarium Damselfish species inhabit coral reefs out in nature. They generally get along with other individual fish belonging to the same species.  If several individuals are kept together, they actually move about in schools. They are a hardy species in the tank, adapting well to the presence of a filtration system and accommodating occasional sub-par water quality. The ease in taking care of them is part of why they are popular as aquarium fish.

Feeding Damselfish

In nature, Damselfish diet upon algae, plankton, and small crustaceans.  For those fish that live in aquariums, they may eat almost any fish food that you provide.  The various things that you can find would be fine particles of other fish, squid, or clams. You could feed them blood worms, brine shrimp or even flake fish food.

The Good and Bad

The Good aspects of choosing Damselfish for your saltwater aquarium are many. They are colorful species for the most part, and some even seem to take on a neon glow in blue-colored lighting. Even the black and white types are considered attractive. Their relatively small size also make them an appealing choice for aquariums. Their hardiness also is a benefit for the aquarium owner.

The downside in selecting Damselfish begins with the fact that many are highly territorial in their habitats. They do not like to share space with others, and will be aggressive and bullying toward other fish in their territory, even toward larger fish. They might also snack on some of the small crustaceans and tiny worms in some tanks, even though they are beneficial to the habitat.

All in all, Damselfish are probably the best choice to make if you are stepping into the realm of keeping a saltwater aquarium. An expert will help you make the best selections for your first marine aquarium.

Something Fishy: 5 Unique Fish for Freshwater Tanks

collage of five unique fish for freshwater aquariumsDreaming of a cool design for your aquarium is fun! Once you have completed your unique aquarium design  you may want to consider some unique fish for your freshwater aquarium. We have some suggestions that would be fun and intriguing for you!

Five Unique Fish for Awesome Choices

Knifefis

Knifefis require a large aquarium because when properly cared for they can reach over a foot in length. Knifefis are perennial exotic favorites for home aquariums. Cool fact-Knifefis have a well-developed weak electrical organ that assists them in maneuvering dark waters of their South American homeland.

Bichir

Bichir should be housed with large, peaceful fish because they are opportunistic feeders. Bichir are primitive ray-finned fishes collected from Africa. They can breathe air and travel on land for short periods of time using their strong pelvic fins. You will want to include a tight fitting lid when setting up your aquarium and allow adequate bottom space.

Freshwater “Sharks”

Freshwater “Sharks” require hiding places, driftwood, and larger leaved plants. They have no relations to marine sharks, they are curious fish and would make an excellent addition to aquariums of the semi-aggressive type nature.

Eels

Fresh water eels reach up to approximately 24 inches or more! They adjust well to living their lives in captivity because they feed mostly on fish and crustaceans and they have a reputation in becoming very hardy inhabitants. You need to include plenty of space and hiding places for your eels and also you will need a large well-sealed lid.

Ageneiosus Atronasus

They are a species of the catfish family Auchenipterid. They are known to be found in the Amazonas Rivers. When considering Aquarium Design, ideally a soft, sandy substrate would be idea but not essential. Popular setups tend to feature dim lighting, driftwood, and scattered tree roots/branches. However, you decide to set up your aquarium be sure to allow for adequate swimming space.

Aquarium service is key and you will need to have an efficient filtration system.  Efficient filtration is essential this is primarily due to the predatory nature of this fish. Predatory fish leave large amounts of debris in the aquarium. Installation of one or more external canister filters and/or a sump system, organizing the return in such a way that it ultimately creates some surface movement and a degree of flow is created. Large catfish will provide you with a fresh water fish that are unique and interesting.

The fish as listed above are bound to be something that can make anyone’s tank unique and interesting. Remember to do your research before purchasing these fish and you will be set for a great adventure in your next project.

Keeping the Koi Pond Comfortable in Colder Climates

A school of fish in the koi pondPond preparation is a must 

There is nothing more relaxing than sitting and watching a gentle waterfall caress the rocks as it cascades into a fully stocked outdoor fish pond filled with Koi. In warmer weather Koi are particular active and will provide you with hours of enjoyment as they are lively and remain highly visible. Thus it is a simple matter of observation that allows one to keep tabs on the Koi pond and the conditions of the environment and its inhabitants.

But even in Southern California, where ambient temperatures seem to perpetually stay well above freezing, those of you who have outdoor Koi ponds know winter can be a concern. When the cold weather descends on us, Koi tend to slow their activity.

Koi are poikilothermic or cold-blooded beings, and their metabolism is closely tied to the temperature of the water in which they live. This, in winter, when the water is coldest, Koi activity slows to a crawl, mirroring their metabolism. They mostly spend their time treading water near the bottom of the pond, where they find the warmest water in the Koi pond. The need for movement is minimal as it doesn’t take much for them to keep their joints limber and flexible.

Water reaches its maximum density at just more than 39°F, and in cold weather, the warmest water is at the bottom of the pond. That is where you will find your Koi in winter.

Keep an eye on them 

And unlike our other outdoor hobbies, like gardening, one can’t just ignore the pond, letting it freeze over (if you are in higher elevations or in less temperate climates) and pick it up again after the spring thaw. Do that and you will find yourself having to restock the pond every spring, a lesson most Koi novices learn just once.

If you do happen to live in a cold climate, it will be a while before you see your Koi again as they sit on the bottom of the pond in the warmest pocket of water they can find. This might lead one to think they are huddling together for warmth, but being cold-blooded creatures, but what is actually happening is, the Koi are entering a state of torpor.

Because torpor is measurably shorter in duration, it is not really considered hibernation, but many of the characteristic of torpor mirror what bears and other endotherms that hibernate experience: reduced body temperature, slowed metabolism, slow reaction times, reduced breathing rate and primary body functions. Torpor allows the animal to save the energy that would otherwise be needed for higher levels of activity.

Keep things calm in the Koi pond

So because of that, it is wise to keep things as calm as possible around your Koi pond in colder seasons. If, for example, you live in a place where your pond might freeze over, and you need to open the ice, find a quiet, gentle method, such as using some boiling hot water to make a hole. Do not chop at it with a hammer or axe.

You can even use a cordless drill to get through the ice if it is too thick to be breached with the boiling water. But the key benefit to doing this is the open area in the ice will allow noxious gases, like ammonia, to escape from the pond.

As a general rule, you should guard against letting your pond’s water temperature fall below 34F. Temperatures below 34F will allow ice crystals to form on the gills of your Koi, which can kill them.

Of course, if you do your homework and have cleaned and prepared your pond for the winter, then you have little about which to worry. You can sit back and relax, enjoy the slower pace the fish will maintain in cold weather, and look ahead to spring, when the Koi will be back to their usual entertaining behaviors.

Something Fishy: Freshwater Fish For Beginners

Goldfish in an freshwater fish aquariumWhen a beginner decides to enter the world of fish-keeping, one of the biggest questions involves the choice of what type of fish to keep. There are the obvious questions about the size of the first tank, if it will be freshwater or salt water, and whether or not it will be a cold water or heated water tank. Even that matter might surprise a beginner, for most people do not think about the salinity and temperature of a water environment.

Choosing Freshwater Fish

Choosing a heated aquarium would allow the beginner to select from more varieties of fish. But one of the most familiar types of freshwater fish for beginners is a cold water fish: the Gold Fish. So selecting the animal you want to be spending time with will affect the temperature of the habitat the fish will live in, as well as determine any additional residents you might choose to add.

Warm Water Fish

There are several options for the beginner who chooses to have a warm water aquarium. A broad selection of such fish could include Danios, Black Mollies, Black Skirt Tetras, Kuhli Loaches, Platies, and Swordtails.

Swordtails are a popular choice for beginners both for their dramatic appearance and because they are very hardy and do well in community aquariums, where they share the space with other types of fish. The name of this fish comes from the shape of the lower lobe of the male’s tailfin, which is elongated. The females tend to be larger than the males and lack the same length of “sword”. Although the wild form of the fish is an olive green, captive breeding has developed many colors and patterns. It is an omnivorous eater, meaning it will dine on anything, both plants and small crustaceans and insects.

Mollies are also easy to keep. For the beginning fish-keeper who wants a home-grown population, Mollies are prolific breeders. Although Mollies are generally compatible tankmates with some other fish, because of their energetic nature, they can be mildly aggressive and chase the other fish. They would certainly not be a boring choice for the aquarium of a novice.

Cold Water Fish

Another option for someone starting out with aquarium fish is to choose cold water freshwater fish. This choice would mean a little less work in paying attention to the temperature of the water, so if limited time for maintenance care is an issue, these fish are worth considering. Popular choices are White Clouds, Bloodfin Tetras, and the very familiar Gold Fish.

The hardy Bloodfin Tetras are usually kept in groups, most typically a school of five or more fish. They’re very sociable creatures and prefer the upper reaches of the aquarium. Their silvery bodies with their tailfins splashed with red make them very decorative in a tank. They do, however, like to nibble on the longer flowing fins of other fish.

And of course, how could anyone not consider Gold Fish? It was one of the earliest fish to be domesticated, so there is a long history of keeping Gold Fish. The history alone would be a source of enrichment to the novice who chooses to keep Gold Fish. This small carp has been bred into a variety of sizes, shapes colors and skin patterns. It would never be a boring choice. The one thing to be careful about with Gold Fish is that they are opportunistic feeders and will easily over-eat. But with a little care and planning this need not be a problem.

Keeping fish can be a soothing and relaxing hobby. If you consider adding an aquarium to your home, especially if you have never kept fish before, seek the advice of experts who can help you with the selection of size of tank and type of fish. Consult the team at Aquatech Aquariums and begin to enjoy the presence of an aquarium in your life.

Something Fishy: The Beauty of Koi

outdoor koi pondMany people are fascinated by watching koi. The large decorative fish were bred from ordinary carp in Japan in the 1800s. The name “koi” comes from a Japanese term, nishikigoi, which literally means “brocaded carp.” The koi fanciers cultivated mutations in the fish for color, making the animals collectibles. The arrangement of ponds suitable for keeping the fish developed into an art of its own, for there are many considerations to be taken into account in building a suitable koi pond. The addition of a koi pond to a property adds a tranquil beauty to the setting.

The Fascination of Koi

Part of the fascination with these decorative carp comes from the size these fish can grow to. In ideal conditions in Japan, it is possible for koi to grow to a length of 37 inches. In the United States, with a more variable climate, they often grow to 27 inches. Age also contributes to the popularity of these fish, for the ordinary life expectancy can be around 50 years. That means that providing the fish is properly cared for and protected from predators, it could live for quite a long time. A famous koi named “Hanako” reportedly lived to be over 200 years old. It was, of course, owned by several people in the course of its life.

colorful koi fishOne thing that many people are not aware of is that these carp do not breed true for coloration and patterns.  If left to breed on their own, in a few short generations, the offspring will have reverted back to ordinary carp. This difficulty in fixing coloration contributes to the mystique of koi.  Koi fanciers look for certain combinations of color and markings. The usual colors are red, black, yellow, brown, blue, silver, gold, pine cone pattern, orange, gray, and white. The metallic colors tend to be solid, all over, while the other colors have a variety of marking combinations.

In addition to color, koi also have different types of scales. They are even given names, in order to help describe a particular fish. Scaled are the most common type, and they possess typical carp scales. Then there are Doitsu, which have scales only along the dorsal and lateral lines. Leather describes a fish that has no visible scales, except for the occasional presence of very small scales along the dorsal line alone. The last type of “scaling” is the Gin Rin, which refers to a normally scaled fish that has a mirror-like quality to the scales, and the scales are usually of a gold or silvery appearance.

The size and coloration of these carp are what fascinate people. We like to watch them swimming amongst the water plants in an appealingly designed pond. For the more ambitious owner, there might be the opportunity for competitive display. But for most, it is the pleasure of watching the sizable fish circulate in the clear water of the koi pond, giving hours of quiet pleasure.

Maintaining a koi pond’s pristine beauty is not an easy task, and is best left to experts who know how to clean and service the pond without disturbing the fish.  At Aquatech Aquarium Services (in Los Angeles), we have over 25 years of experience caring for aquarium and pond fish.  One of our specialized services is koi pond maintenance.  Give us a call at (310) 993-2183 – we would love to help you continue to enjoy your koi pond for years to come