Happy New Year!

This year has been another full of learning experiences, new fishy friends (I love my ranchu!), cool aquatic sales ($1 per Gallon at Petco til 1/25/14!), and I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store. What type of posts do you enjoy on Guppy-Guide and what would you like for me to blog about in the new year?

Top 3 2013 posts on Guppy-Guide...

#3 Marina S10 Power Filter
#2 Ranchu Before and After
#1 A New Fish at Walmart


Ranchu - Before and After

I just wanted to do a quick post to show you how much my ranchu have grown and changed over the course of around 4 months now, and they have definitely gained lots of weight since I first got them (the scales don't lie).
Bumblez (Sakura Ranchu)
Oakki (Black Metallic Ranchu)
According to the breeder these ranchu will be 1 year old (12 months) come March 2014.


Ranchu Weigh-In

Its been around 23 days since the ranchu's last weigh-in and Bumblez has finally put on some weight at 35 grams now, while Oakki is a whopping 40 grams.
Bumblez (left), and Oakki (right)
Bumblez gained 3.5 grams since the last weigh-in and Oakki gained 6.5 grams. In my opinion most of Oakki's weight/growth seems to be at his belly area and tail length, while Bumblez growth seems to be at his back and possibly a little on his wen. I still do around two 50% water changes at least twice a week, sometimes the depth of the aquarium water varies but I feel they do better at a depth no more than 10 inches (which was recommended to me by the breeder as well).

I've been trying out numerous foods lately and the first week they ate at least twice a day which varied and possibly consisted of some nori, NLS (New Life Spectrum pellets for Goldfish), sliced ginger, Hikari frozen bloodworms, plain cooked white rice, and Hikari Lionhead pellets (just playing with different food options). The second week since I had a fish sitter they were being fed once a day sharing a 1/4 Tsp of the NLS. The 3rd week I got a fish feeder which dispersed NLS gradually over 6 hours, then a few Hikari Lionhead pellets over the following 6 hours, and then the feeding repeated again throughout 24 hours so they're almost constantly able to graze for tid bits of food (which I've read is more natural for ranchu/fancy goldfish) although it's not really going over the amount of food they generally consume in a day.

Having the feeder does seem to make them more active and curious about finding food so I'll probably continue with that regime while also giving them frozen bloodworms 1-2 times a week along with it, and perhaps a little piece nori once a week (Bumblez seems to enjoy that, while Oakki seems to enjoy the daily pellets of Hikari Lionhead).


Increase Oxygen

Here I've listed 5 simple ways to help increase oxygen levels in an aquarium.

#1 Lower Water Level. Try not to fill your aquarium all the way to the brim with water, as water drops down into the aquarium (waterfall effect) from the filter it forces water down into the aquarium and helps push oxygen into the water thus helping to increase oxygen levels (be sure the current is not too strong for the aquariums inhabitants).

#2 Water Changes. Too many water chemicals and/or waste, etc can cause a loss of oxygen in the water, it's very important to do regular water changes (clean tap water contains adequate amounts of oxygen).

#3 Lower Temperature. Cooler temperatures can hold more oxygen than warmer temperatures but, be sure the aquarium is the proper temperature for the aquariums inhabitants.

#4 Air Diffusers, Bubblers, etc. With these devices attached to an air pump it helps to increase oxygen and water movement in an aquarium.
Air Diffuser

* Bubbles should be tiny (almost pin hole size) looking for the most part, and probably vary in size. The tank should not just have large (about a cm) and/or slow moving bubbles as this may mean your water has become thickened by dirty water. Also be sure your air pump is strong enough to operate the equipment properly, and clean or replace old diffusers, tubing, and check valves as needed.

#5 Filtration. The right amount of filtration is key to keeping a healthy and clean aquarium, you want to make sure the tank is not overstocked with fish either as the fish will be competing for oxygen. Keep filter cartridges clean, and active carbon can help remove unwanted chemicals and aid in oxygen levels.


Ranchu Weigh-In

I bought an Ozeri kitchen scale ($18.85 on eBay) recently to weigh my ranchu's and track their dietary progress. Bumblez (sakura ranchu) weighed 31 grams and after 2 weeks he now weighs 31.5 grams (0.5 gram gain); Oakki (black metallic ranchu) weighed 28.5 grams and after 2 weeks he now weighs 33.5 grams (5 gram gain). I'm hoping Bumblez isn't sick or anything, he seems to eat but perhaps is just a slow and picky eater (compared to Oakki whom gobbles down everything).
Scale showing 2 different weights during this weigh-in.
Oakki has grown so much that my dad actually thought I had bought a new fish! Perhaps Oakki is just having some type of growth spurt, I have heard that fish with more hormones tend to grow more rapidly.


Combating Ammonia

If you have ammonia (NH3) in your aquarium it may be due to a new aquarium setup that has not yet completed the "tank cycling process" AKA "new tank syndrome", which means that your aquarium has not yet developed enough beneficial bacteria to sustain the new aquariums environment. It could also be poor water quality (dirty, lots of debris, dead fish, fecal matter, etc). No matter the true reason for the ammonia levels I find the best remedy for combating ammonia issues is to do 25-50% water changes 1-2 times a week or as needed  (there are also aquarium products on the market which claim to remove ammonia, but I have yet to find one that gave me instant success), and try to at least keep the ammonia levels in a safe range during this period. Once your aquarium becomes established (which can sometimes take months) the ammonia level should reach 0, and this is the ideal level to be at.

Below are some questions I've been asked about ammonia, and if you have anymore questions you'd like to ask feel free to write me in the comment section below.
Question: Does 'Seachem Prime' show traces of ammonia when using ammonia test-strips in water?

Answer: I tried this using the 'API Ammonia test-strips' on my aquarium tap water as well as bottled water with the appropriate amount of 'SeaChem Prime' in them over the course of several days, and the results were negative.
Question: Does 'Aquarium Salt' remove ammonia?

Answer: I tried using 'Aquarium Salt' to remove ammonia that was in an unestablished aquarium and this did not work over 24hrs later, if anything my ammonia readings seemed to get higher... which may not be all too surprising since 'Aquarium Salt' can be used to clean an aquarium (hence, possibly killing some beneficial bacteria??).

So it may actually be possible that if your aquarium was established and now has ammonia in it from being overly dirty than 'Aquarium Salt' may actually help the ammonia levels, but I have not tested that out yet.


Aqueon QuietFlow 30 Power Filter - Review

There wasn't a free thermometer BTW.
Having recently purchased the Fluval AquaClear 50 power filter after reading all the rave reviews online, I found that after I observed the unit for myself that it wasn't going to be good for cleaning my aquarium. So, I exchanged the AquaClear for the Aqueon QuietFlow 30 because I do really like the Aqueon QuietFlow 20 and the 30 is around $10 less than the AquaClear and does the same GPH (Gallons Per Hour) although it doesn't have all the media things that the AquaClear has (the design of the AquaClear doesn't force water through all the media anyway, thus rendering all that media practically useless and even more costly with long term use in mind). If I had to recommend a Fluval power filter to try out I'd go with the Fluval C3 (although it only does 153 GPH and seems to be slightly pricier than its AquaClear cousin) because water is forced through all the media unlike with the AquaClear power filters, which makes the C-series seem more similar to QuietFlow's in that aspect(although the Fluval C-series appears more annoyingly complex in my opinion).
Aqueon QuietFlow 30 Power Filter and 'Large' carbon media cartridge
As for size difference with the Aqueon QuietFlow30 compared to the 20, the intake tube appears to be exactly the same in size, the box is around 1in longer and maybe 2mm wider, and the motor is also longer by about an inch. The 20 and bigger sized power filters all take the "Large" size cartridge's although the 90 takes 2 of the cartridges so, it's really only the GPH that changes between the 20 and 30. The 50 is slightly bigger than the 30 (as expected), but the intake tube changes to a wider tube with a longer vent area. A downfall I recently noticed is that the fan inside the motor (which is directly above the intake tube) can't be easily removed for cleaning so, if you have fish with a big bio-load (like goldfish) than you may find the buildup to block the fan from functioning (thus this filter will be rendered useless until fixed/cleaned).

As you can see from the above photos the media cartridge does not contain that much carbon (probably its biggest downfall if you're a carbon addict). The media box of the 30 does change compared to the 20 as it has some slats where the water first comes into the box from the intake tube (not sure the true reason for that), and thus far I do find the unit nosier than the 20 but also much more powerful (so it only makes sense I suppose that it would be nosier). There is also some room in the box if you wanted to add in some additional media.
The QuietFlow 30 with a Fluval pre-filter attached
As for extra's I put onto my Aqueon QuietFlow 30 I added on the Fluval Edge pre-filter sponge (fairly inexpensive and I like the soft texture of these ones) which fits perfects on the 20 and 30 (this pre-filter would be too small for the 50 and up, and I think the 10 also has the same size intake tube as the 20 and 30). The intake tubes are also adjustable by sliding the adjoining tubes up or down, the picture above shows it at its shortest length (I don't really care for the tubes longest possible length as it gets too wobbly for my preference).

Overall, I do recommend the Aqueon QuietFlow power filters, they work great compared to other LPS (Local Pet Store) HOB power filters I've tried in the past as they're pretty decent at cleaning. I reuse the cartridges for months at a time as they're pretty durable with weekly cleanings (thus saving money on cartridges in the long run). These aren't overly noisy although sometimes the filter cover on top tends to vibrate a bit (but with a little adjusting on occasion it stops). I also like how the cord tucks into the side of the unit and also how the motor is in the water and not outside the box (no having to worry about leaks or priming it with water to start up). The blue waterfall piece can be removed easily and cleaned, it allows water to drip down onto the waterfall bridge and it's pretty helpful at catching bigger debris (which I think is nice for those with planted tanks). One draw back I think may be an issue is the width of the unit in the tank, it seems to be too wide for a lot of aquarium hoods/tops (but since I only have a glass top I just pull it forward a bit to accommodate the unit, doesn't really bother me). I'd suggest the 30 for tanks bigger than 10-gal (as it made my 10-gal pretty darn turbulent) as it's probably better suited for a minimum of 20-gal, and it claims to also work for saltwater aquariums as well (if you do have a saltwater aquarium I'd recommend getting at least the 30 or higher models), and the 20 works fine for a 10-gal.


Marina S10 Power Filter - Review

This is my review of the Marina S10 Power Filter which I purchased a few weeks ago from my LPS (Local Pet Store) for my betta's 2.5 MiniBow Aquarium, and I'm using this to replace my old/broken Red Sea Nano Filter.

Although the system is slimmer than most typical HOB (Hang On Back) Power filter systems, I actually find it to be wider in comparison. This filter is suppose to filter up to 10 gallons of water but I'm not sure how true that claim to be. I do not understand why they make a semi-clear filter system rather than making it completely clear as it's a black transparent color (so, it will only flatter black background aquariums). I could see some people liking the semi-transparent look just because they want to view inside the intake tube or perhaps see the filter cartridges, and with it being semi-transparent any filter buildup would be less noticeable had it been completely clear (much like with the Red Sea Nano Filter).

I find that the filter motor which is attached to the base of the units intake tube (rather then inside the unit as with most HOB filters) unappealing as you're stuck looking at the motor inside of the aquarium (which is not clear nor transparent, but rather big, bulky, and solid black in color). However, this does leave more room inside the filter box which will allow you to add in additional media, or you could even add in a small aquarium heater although there is no hole for a power cord to go through so you would have to leave the tank lid off if that's what you wanted to do (or possibly drill a groove to fit the power cord). Another good thing about the motor being at the base of the intake tube is that it requires no water priming to start the power filter, which is good in case of power failure. I also like that this motor comes with an attachable pre-filter which will keep fish from getting stuck onto the intake tube. I do find this unit to be pretty quiet compared to a lot of other power filter systems I've had in the past which may be because the motor is attached onto the intake tube and also because the waterfall bridge seems to be fairly long so that you could partially submerge it underwater thus reducing water noise. However, the motor tends to cause a lot of noisy vibration inside the tank and may require constant re-adjusting, this is the biggest flaw I have found with this unit. You can also adjust the length of the intake tube slightly by sliding the base of the intake tube up or down. This unit also has an attachable clip under the filter box so that you can level/adjust how the box rests on the aquarium. There are also some run-off grooves around the filter cartridges in the box so I don't think water would ever make its way outside of the filter box and onto the floor.

The filter cartridges this unit comes with is the Marina bio–carb and bio–clear, and I do like that this has two separate cartridges however, I'm not sure that water will flow through both of them at the same rate since the cartridges don't overlap one another inside the box (so far it looks like more water runs through the filter cartridge furthest from the intake tube). Thus far the filter media seems to do nothing in terms of discolored water. The bio–carb cartridge states to remove pollutants and odors, where as the bio–clear states that it includes zeolite to absorb toxic ammonia and reduce fish stress (I have not noticed any traces of ammonia in my new setup thus far).

The main reason this power filter is perfect for betta aquariums is because it has an easy to adjust control valve (although you do have to remove the lid to reach it, but not a big deal) inside the filter box on the intake tube which allows the water to come out as either a trickle or a more turbulent water flow. Overall, I would definitely recommend this filter for small betta aquariums (probably won't fit properly on tiny cube tanks though), and thus far I am really loving it over my old Red Sea Nano filter I had prior (and I do think it's fairly difficult to find a low flowing filter for betta tanks) although the Red Sea Nano would be a better option if you do have a tiny cube aquarium (since the Red Sea Nano is much smaller than the Marina S10).


Treating Ich on Ranchu

This past week I made a big mistake thinking that my ranchu would be fine in a temporary bucket of water while I cleaned out the aquarium. Well, it took me awhile to get around to actually cleaning my tank so I transferred my ranchu into a new bucket of water and they ended up going through a drastic temperature change (ranchu can only handle around a 3-5F temperature change at time) and thus suffered from it. Bumblez is not at all a fan of cold water and thus he began slowing down his swimming, while Oakki had broke-out in ich on the front of his wen. Luckily I was able to remedy both of them at the same time, here's how I cured and treated the ich in under 3 days (be sure to treat ich ASAP)...

1: Do at least a 50% water change to the aquarium water (be sure the new water added in is within 3-5F of the current tank water temperature), and treat the water with Seachem Prime according to directions (Seachem Prime helps reduce stress, helps slime coating, and dechlorinates water).

2: Keep the water temp in the aquarium around 74-76F (I use an Aqueon heater), as this seems to be an ideal temperature for ranchu in general.

3: Add 1-TBSP of Aquarium Salt (I used the Jungle brand) per 8-10 gallons of water (aquarium salt reduces stress, provides electrolytes, and cleans.. it may also raise your pH so be sure to dose accordingly). Although it may not be necessary, I added in a pinch of aquarium salt everyday after this initial dose until my ranchu no longer showed signs of ich.

4: Turn off any aquarium lighting to reduce any stress caused by glare, etc as these fish have already undergone enough stress at this point.

5: Be sure to run an air diffuser in your aquarium (along with a 24/hr running filtration system) for at least several hours a day to insure the fish are getting plenty of oxygen in the water (this is very important if you are using any other water treatments to remedy your fish outside of what I have on this post), this is especially important for smaller aquariums and/or ones with a higher temperature.

I hope my ranchu ich remedy works for others just as well as it did for my ranchu, and be sure to do another 50% water change a few days after having done the first one as to reduce the risk of having ich spread, etc (just be sure the new water you're adding into your aquarium is in the ideal temperature range as I mentioned before, too drastic a change may only worsen or cause the ich to reoccur). Good/adequate water quality can solve a lot of problems (be sure ammonia levels are also in a safe range, preferably no traces of ammonia, this is especially important if you have a small or overcrowded aquarium).


Ranchu Artwork

My awesome new artsy friend Chris made me this cool drawing of Bumblez (my new sakura ranchu) the other day and I totally love this so, I just had to take a moment to share it with everyone on here!
If you want to checkout more of his work, etc you can find him at www.ChrisSpade.com.


East Coast Ranchu - Review

For a really long time now I had been wanting a ranchu and looking all over my local pet stores in hopes of coming across any. I really didn't have much luck and I did actually see what I believed to have been ranchu at a Walmart one night but... it was bad timing, I was worried about the quality of the fish, and so... I missed my chance. I even sent out e-mails to fish stores within a state or so of me since I burnt out all my options locally in the DC area, and either I didn't get any response or I got weird rude replies back.

It wasn't until I went searching again on eBay that I looked into eSeller eastcoastranchu. Turned out these 'side-view' ranchu are bred in New Jersey by a very kind and patient lady named Cynthia of East Coast Ranchu. I also found that East Coast Ranchu donates 10% of their earnings to GoldfishKeepers, and if you buy 5 or more ranchu's you can get 10% off. As you may have seen from a previous post I did on here she made a video of several ranchu for me after I told her the type of ranchu characteristics I was looking for. I ended up picking the one that stood out from the lot and got the cute red-capped sakura ranchu whom is even cuter in person. I did get the 2-day shipping and my poor fish ended up spending so much unnecessary time in its box going from NJ to lower VA, and VA to MD, and then they spent a good 9-hours of delivery time when I was only an hour away from the UPS location. Then my package finally arrived right before I had to leave for work that night (watch my video below to find out what happened next!).
Here's my adorable new pet ranchu's Bumblez and Oakki after a week of them settling into their new home!
I will be doing another post in the near future on how I care for my new pet ranchu's.


Meet Meko

Sadly while I had taken an unexpected week long trip my fish sitter had informed me that Ebo was not looking so good, a few days later he passed on to the big fish bowl in the sky. However, I now have a very awesome new veil-tail betta I got from PetSmart this past weekend and his name is Meko. I picked that name because my betta's seem to follow a pattern of their names ending in 'o', the 'k' is his own unique letter, the 'e' is to carry on Ebo's memory, and the 'm' is to carry on the beloved Mr. Moto's memory. While Ebo was a green-blue color, and Moto was a blue-black color, Meko is a blue-red color... I wish I could have found a betta that wasn't so blue but ultimately I picked him over the rest regardless. Meko does seem to have one flaw currently... his right fin-side gill seems to always be flared out slightly so I am currently trying to treat him to see if it changes.
Unlike my past betta's Meko seems to be a picky eater as he does not care for the usual Aqueon floating pellets. I had yet to find a betta that didn't like bloodworms, that did seem to catch his interest and get him eating. BTW I don't recommend the Aqueon Betta Treat Bloodworms, they're a bit too big for betta's in comparison to the Hikari brand which has smaller and redder colored bloodworms (I do recommend those ones as they seem better quality in my opinion). I even tried to pass the Aqueon pellets onto my hungry mollies but they too didn't care for them.

It was by chance that I tried out some new goldfish pellets which I just bought for my expecting ranchu, the New Life Spectrum 1mm goldfish pellets. Not only were the NLS pellets about half the size (probably a bit more than that even) of Aqueons but they were actually a better size for the small mouth of my betta. Shockingly, Meko LOVES them (his gills even flare open at times and he quickly gobbles them up, two at a time if he can)... although he refuses to eat the ones that sink to the bottom, fair enough. He even prefers the NLS pellets over the Aqueon bloodworms, he just goes crazy for the NLS pellets, it's awesome to see (I kind of feel bad for my past betta's seeing how happy Meko is with this new food). I had never seen a betta fish eat so much, so now I'm buying Meko the NLS for betta's (the cheapest I found for this food was on eBay for $8.99), and while this may be a bit pricey for betta food it will last a very long time as betta fish do not eat that much (eh, normally).
I also did some research on NLS for betta's online and was surprised to find that so many people and betta breeders were highly recommending it. I also found it interesting that people were mentioning that it may not have the highest amount of protein compared to other betta foods, but they were saying that it's actually a higher quality of protein and food that the betta is getting that matters more, which ultimately seems to make this NLS great for betta's.

*I will try to update this post later down the road when my NLS betta food arrives and let you know what Meko thinks of that. In the mean time here's a good video I found on the NLS food.
R.I.P. Ebo


Airline Tubing

This week I wanted to blog a bit about aquarium airline tubing (something I haven't really seen anyone mention much online). Airline tubing is fairly inexpensive, and while you may not have put much thought into what you're really purchasing I'm posting this to give my personal opinions on choosing the right tubing for you.

Size and Length
Most standard aquarium airline tubing is all the same width (standard airline tubing for most all air pumps is 3/16" diameter). When it comes to length, I would probably buy the longest length available in the desired type. Airline tubing can be easily cut at any length you need using a pair of scissors, and a year or so from now you'll possibly be wanting/needing to replace your old tubing. If you want an approximate length then I'd suggest doing the measurements, but I'd tack on an extra 2 feet to that length as the ends of tubing tend to discolor a bit over time (I like to trim mine off when it does that), more so if you're buying clear tubing.

Texture/Type and Color
The typical colors for most airline tubing sold at local petstores is typically clear, blue, or black (although you can probably find a variety of other colors available online).

Most flexible airline tubing is either a smooth matte silicone type or a slippery shiny rubber type, and their is also a hard plastic pipe type, often refered to as "rigid" (similar to the shiny rubber type but not flexible). The silicone type is a bit more soft, flexible, and easier to work with but it can harbor a bit more buildup and bacteria since it has a slight texture to it. The rubber type is slightly less flexible than the silicone type, and can be a little harder to work with but its slick shiny surface is less likely to harbor buildup and bacteria. Less buildup in your airline tubing will also allow air to flow through the tubing at its optimal performance.

The silicone type is generally matte in texture, not shiny like the rubber type so, if you don't want any glare while possibly doing some flash photography then this one may be the way to go... although the shiny rubber type in my opinion looks classier and cleaner when viewing an aquarium in general. Often times I have noticed silicone airline tubing making claims that the tubing does not harden over time, I find that to be very false... unless of course you are changing your silicone tubing every so often. Both types of tubing can become hard over time and it doesn't matter if you have very hard water or very soft water.
Clear rubber air line tubing comparison
Other Things to Consider
Not all brands of airline tubing are created equal. If you found two different brands of clear shiny rubber airline tubing (as seen in the above image) you may notice they both have a different amount of clarity (meaning one brand of tubing looks more clear, or even better quality than the other) as the PETCO brand is more clear than the TopFin brand, although the PETCO one is about twice the cost (although still relatively cheap in my opinion). You can also use all these different types of tubing together (such as silicone with non-silicone) and attach them with things like air check valves, connectors, gang valves, etc.

You should replace airline tubing if it gets damaged, discolored, dirty inside tubing, etc.

If you have solid colored airline tubing it may be hard to visually tell what's going on inside your tubing. For solid colored silicone tubing you may be able to tell when it needs replaced or trimmed by examining the cut ends of the tubing by squeezing these ends to see if it feels harder than the center areas of the tubing, if so then it's probably time to replace or trim off the hard areas of tubing as these areas could have bacterial growth and/or some type of debris blockage, etc. It could also mean that you've had or have some water or condensation built up or accumulating in the tube over a period time, so be sure you have an air check valve and that it's working properly, as doing so will help protect your air pump from weakening or breaking overtime due to water damage.

My Current Top Pick and Advice
I really do like and currently use this clear rubber type PETCO tubing on all my tanks and I highly recommended it in generally, especially if you have no background or a background other than black on your aquarium, and this particular PETCO tubing is also kink resistant (which is beyond great to find for this type of tubing). If you do have a black background than I recommend trying a black silicone type of airline tubing for the tubing going inside of your tank (if you want it looking less noticeable against a black background anyway) and then use the PETCO clear rubber type airline for outside the tank. The other great thing about clear airline tubing is that you can better view when your tubing needs to be replaced and to insure your air check valve is working properly and not allowing water to travel down into your air pump (which could ultimately slow and/or damage your air pump).


My Ranchu - Coming Soon!

Recently I got to talk with the wonderfully kind Cynthia from East Coast Ranchu online about getting my first ever ranchu goldfish! I have been wanting a ranchu for like 13423534 years now (okay, that was a slight exaggeration) and I have done much research over the years on them (you should never get a new pet without having done some research BTW).

Cynthia was kind enough to make me a video of some fish she thought I'd be interested in per what I was looking for in a ranchu... now the only problem I faced was picking just 1 of these cute side-view sakura ranchu (so hard to choose when they're all super adorable). Can you guess which one I ended up picking?

One ranchu cost me $53.40 (included 2-day shipping to my location, etc), whoever thought freshwater fish were cheap was sadly mistaken. Mean while I have already been working on getting my ranchu aquarium setup, Cynthia also sent me a list of my fishes needs/requirements/etc so that definitely gave me a bit more helpful incite. Having had a few comets many years ago also helped remind me of what a goldfish's needs are and the things I know now which can better prepare me for my ranchu. I will also be doing a fairly elaborate post of my ranchu aquarium setup very soon.


How to Clean Aquarium Nets

I am sure their are many different methods and techniques for cleaning aquarium nets however, I have found this way to be the quickest, easiest and safest bet for myself. I am sure some may have tried things like bleach, and I would advise against using it since bleach is very hard to rinse off, is very toxic, and it can weaken fabric aquarium netting. So, for my following how-to tutorial you'll only be needing a few things to clean your aquarium nets...

You'll need...
-Water, boiling
-Hydrogen Peroxide, in a spray bottle
-Net Soak
-Unscented Antibacterial Foaming Soap

How to...
If by some chance your aquarium net happens to be covered in filth (for whatever reason) than you may want to try washing the net first with an unscented antibacterial foaming soap before attempting the below method, otherwise skip this step.

Start by liberally spraying your entire aquarium net (handle and all) with hydrogen peroxide. Let the peroxide work its cleansing magic for around 15-30 minutes (you may see the peroxide turn white on the net as it kills off any bacteria). Rinse off the entire aquarium net by carefully pouring on the boiling water. Shake off excess water from the aquarium net. Allow the net to air-dry overnight.

If your net is looking dry or you have numerous aquariums you're dealing with then you'll want to use a Net Soak solution as to avoid cross contamination between tanks and/or to keep your net conditioned so that the netting doesn't scratch/harm the fish. Net Soak will also clean your net, the one I use does not require rinsing and claims to not harm fish.


Mollies Arrive *Updated*

I recently received my mollies from my aquarium friend and I actually found these ones to be much prettier than I was originally expecting.
Male (left) and Female (right)
At first I was not really enjoying having these two pairs of mollies, the smallest female actually died within a few days (due to stress I believe). I had a molly jump out of my quarantine bucket I had setup several times upon being spooked. That being said I made some modifications to my aquarium lid to cover over any open areas.
Male Molly
The next issue I'm having is that these fish are much bigger than I was expecting, the biggest one is around 4 inches in length and I'm already feeling like these 3 fish need a bigger environment than my 10gal tank since I read that they can get up to 6.5 inches in length. Having only 3 of these fish they seem a bit stressed, perhaps because they are community fish and need to be kept with more mollies than this.

The behavior of these fish when I first got them I would compare to adult gold barbs. When these fish see me they dart off and hide, very shy, they'd push themselves down against the gravel even. Their is a good amount of plant area for them to hide, but I am doubtful their behavior is going to change much in these conditions. If these fish are too stressed I am worried that they may not even breed or may decide to abort which defeats the purpose of me even having them.
------ Updates Below ------
Now that I've had these mollies for several weeks they have gotten a little less frightened of me, mainly because I've been trying to associate me being around them means getting fed, this method has actually been working a bit although they are still a bit timid. I have been trying to feed them twice a day, these fish love to eat although they aren't fans of cucumber it seems but they are enjoying the Petco Color Enhancing Tropical Flakes, they'll even eat some TetraVeggie Algae Wafers


South Korea's Coex Aquarium

I have been traveling all around South Korea for the past two weeks and the only aquarium I found here through the internet was the Coex Aquarium. If you're interested in going it's $10 to park in the parking garage (although you can probably take a bus here for less money) and $25 for an adult ticket (the prices showing online weren't accurate) into the aquarium. I however didn't feel like spending $25 for the 40 minute tour around this aquarium, and you can see a little bit of the aquarium for free on the outside of it. So, here are a few quick photo's of the entrance to the Coex Aquarium, and in case you're wondering the inside of this aquarium is setup in rain-forest theme (my camera battery died before I could snap any photo's of it).


Aquarium Photography Tips

I have done a post on aquarium photography before, but now that I have a better camera (the Canon Rebel T3i, DSLR) I wanted to share my own personal aquarium photography experience with everyone. The photo's you're about to see (you can click on the images to enlarge them) were taken at San Diego's Living Coast Discovery Center. For the most part I just used an AF setting and flash (with the exception of the jellyfish image).
Defeating outside lighting glare.

When at an indoor aquarium with natural daylight or indoor lighting reflecting off the tanks you're going to do the last thing that probably comes to mind... use a flash. Using a flash seems to alter the outside glare by changing the light glare to where the glare vanishes in most cases, which then leads me to answer a more popular question...
How to get rid of flash glare while using a flash.

The point of using a flash is to eliminate outer light glare however, this creates a flash glare instead. The point now is to not photograph the flash glare in the process. First you're going to want to avoid taking photos straight on, instead tilt your camera at a slight angle (just don't tilt your camera too much as to avoid distorting your photo). Doing this redirects the flash glare and helps keep it out of photos.
Steelhead Trout
Can I use a flash diffuser?

If you try to use something to diffuse the flash glare you may find that yourself and the aquarium will both end up in the image.

What if there is no outside glare but the aquarium is lighted inside?

This is usually when you can turn off the flash on your camera.
Other helpful advice.

Always ask the front desk what their photo policy is at an aquarium (Is flash photography allowed? Is there anything you can't photograph? Can you use a tripod? etc.). I can't stress this enough because the last thing you want to do is harm or stress a living creature or get in trouble for photographing something you don't have legal rights to (this was allowed at the Living Coast Discovery Center from what the front desk told me).
Helpful items you may want to bring when photographing at an aquarium.

Towels/rags, comes in handy if you need to wipe off the aquarium for a clear photograph, or in case water accidentally gets on your camera.

A flashlight or other portable light source, this may come in handy for tanks you can't visibly see into that well.

A protective lens filter/cover in case you decide to put your camera lens right against the glass to try and take pictures.


A New Fish at Walmart

Upon finding a different local Walmart in my general area I stumbled across a new fish I have never seen them carry before. For $6.24 you can now own what Walmart refers to as a "Dragon Fish". Dragon Fish (not to be mistake with an arowana) are also known by other names such as Violet Goby (which I believe is its true name), Dragon Goby, Eel Goby, or Peruvian Goby. Often people mistake the violet goby for a bichir, eel, rope fish, or even a cigar fish.
Dragon Fish at Walmart
These fish are docile and their tiny eyes make them nearly blind. They aren't overly active fish although they tend to be more active at night which is usually when they'll eat, and although they do have tiny teeth these teeth are used mainly to scrape off algae and scavenge for other possible tid bits of food as they're detritivores. If fed well these fish won't bother smaller fish such as guppies, but goby's should be kept with friendly fish due to their poor eyesight as it could put them at risk for being bullied by aggressive fish, and if kept with another goby they can become territorial tank mates.
Violet gobies use their large mouths to shovel through substrate in search of food and spit out anything inedible, and although they have big mouths they have small throats. A diet for them consists of foods like algae, baby brine shrimp, frozen blood worms, vegetable flakes, meaty foods, and frozen tubifex worms... just be sure they get a varied diet (I've noticed a lot of people will feed them Hikari Carnivore when they're smaller and Hikari Massivore Delight when they're bigger). They are also prone to escaping their tanks so be sure to keep a lid on your aquarium. These fish can grow up to 24 inches in length and it's typically recommended to have them live on a soft substrate like sand as they're naturally accustom to a muddy substrate, but they can also do fine on gravel although aragonite is probably the most ideal for these fish and you can mix it with gravel to reduce glare. The fish are from North and South America and generally live in brackish swamp waters or streams, in captivity they'll usually only grow up to 15 inches in length. These fish like to have hiding places as they're typically temid. The water requires a salinity of 1.004 - 1.008sg, a water temp of 76F - 78F, hard water with an alkalinity of 10 - 20 dKh, and a pH of 6.5 - 8.5. These fish will possibly be more active and 'confident' in a tank that is 50 - 55 gallons, over small aquariums that are 29 gallons, and these fish seem to find things through water movement.
Walmart's info and price on Dragon Fish
These violet gobies are susceptible to illnesses like columnaris and fin rot, so be sure the fish are not in an overcrowded tank, the water has plenty of oxygen, and try to keep the bio-load to a minimum. A healthy violet goby has a blue/violet shade to it and often gold patches of coloring (unfortunately Walmarts gobies didn't have that blue/violet coloring to them, nor does the info mention how they're brackish water fish) and the fish can survive in freshwater for a short amount of time but for overall health it's not recommended to keep it in those conditions.


Guppy Behavior - Power Outage

As the power went out in my house (for a good hour) and my aquariums shutdown, I laid in bed watching how my guppies would react to the motionless water that then lacked a light source aside from what was coming in through the windows.

I have 2 guppy tanks in my room, one 10-gal which houses male guppies and the other 10-gal which houses female guppies. The power outage really did not seem to phase the male guppies as they continued their daily mating rituals with the other males in the aquarium. The power outage in the female aquarium however, well that made a big behavioral change...

The females began to group/school together as they sank down to the bottom of the aquarium as if they were ultimately terrified. Their body movements were brief as they moved themselves inch by inch about the tank in search of what was happening. The behavior continued for about half an hour as they began to realize they were all still okay. When I got out of bed they quickly relaxed as they knew I was about to feed them and after that point they no longer seemed afraid at all (to a guppy I suppose I am its means of positive well-being and a sign of their food source).

Overall, this makes me wonder if female guppies are perhaps better suited for survival over the male species. Which wouldn't be all too surprising since females aren't as colorful as males, thus aiding them in camouflage if/when hiding from predators. For more info on that topic checkout this article.


Fish Photo Post

I mentioned in my last post that I'd get up some new pictures of my fish that you've probably read so much about on this blog. I'm still trying to get the hang of my new camera so hopefully my photos start getting better overtime but, I can definitely say these pics are a major improvement over older ones you may have seen on here prior to this post. Let me know what you think or anything else you'd like to see a photo of in the future.
Male tuxedo guppy "Peppermint" and some of his fry
Closeup of Peppermint
Female tuxedo guppies: Freckles and Rudder
Male Betta: Ebo
P.S. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!


Guppy & Betta Updates

About a month ago Freckles gave birth to her first line of fry with Peppermint, and she's expecting again, very soon from the looks of it! This will be Freckles last drop though *fingers crossed* and then I'm retiring her from breeding (it's only good to let a guppy give birth twice really, it's a lot of work for a guppy and they're usually 'pre-hit' for a 3rd pregnancy anyway). Rudder gave birth for the first time a few days ago so, I'm on fry overload in my tanks currently, and Peppermint is on a breeding frenzy with these two gals (this being the case I am actually just going to retire all 3 from breeding). I also plan to update the decor a bit in there aquarium setup soon so, maybe I'll post up some before and after photos of that. I don't know why I have my tanks looking the way they do currently because they aren't overly appealing so, hopefully I get that worked on before I start college again this month.

Now that Mr. Moto has passed on I will be cleaning out his 2.5gal Minibow setup for my other betta Ebo to live in since Ebo has been living in a small plastic container, poor fella'. I still don't think I have yet to put any photo's of Ebo up on here but now that I have a new camera I'll definitely try to get some new fish photos up soon.



A recent question I came across online is "how much substrate do you need in an aquarium and what type is best?".

Lets be honest, most of the time you probably don't even need to have a substrate at all however, it's said to reduce fish stress, hold beneficial bacteria, looks more aesthetically pleasing, etc (if you're asking this question than you probably already know that you yourself want to add a substrate to your aquarium).

First off their are many different variables in trying to answer this question such as... what's your substrate material (sand, stone, gravel, dirt, combination, etc)?; is there an under-gravel filter?; how many gallons is the aquarium?; what are the dimensions of the aquarium?; will you have live or fake plants?; etc. Also keep in mind that the more pounds of substrate you put into your aquarium, the less amount of water that will be going into your aquarium since your substrate is more dense than water. The less amount of water your tank has, the less fish you'll probably be able to keep.

In actuality there is no set amount of how much substrate you should have in your aquarium so, this question is really just personal preference and what you feel works best for you. A lot of people will tell you that it's 2lb of gravel per 1 gallon of water, or even 1lb of gravel per 1 gallon of  water. Well that really isn't a good method to teach people because tanks have different dimensions and shapes.

So when faced with a method as to how much substrate to add to your aquarium, I'd recommend using how many inches, centimeters, etc of substrate you want. Maybe you like a 2 inch dense amount of substrate, or maybe even 1 cm, or maybe you want some areas in your aquarium to have more or less substrate. For those who are Takashi Amano enthusiasts/fans like myself I'd say it's anything from a thin layer of substrate that completely covers the base up to 2 inches although most of his tanks appear to be around an inch. I'd say for most aquariums you probably don't need anything more than 3 inches but it may also depend on the density of the substrate material you're using (like rocks, stones, etc).

As for what type of substrate is best that depends on what you're hoping to achieve in your aquarium. Most beginners usually use the popular 'pea gravel' which is just your basic gravel rocks that are about the size of a pea and you can find this in all types of colors from pink, black, red, white, blue, neon, etc. The downfall to bigger substrate materials is that it creates lots of pockets between the gaps of the substrate which allows for toxic gases and such to form under the substrate, and some types of fish could possibly get the 'pea gravel' lodged into their throat. Most people seem to think 'sand gravel' is more likely to get consumed by fish and harm them but this is not true, as fish in the wild generally live in soil substrates. Also, since the 'sand gravel' is much finer than 'pea gravel' it allows less pockets for toxic gases and such to form. 'Sand gravel' is also not as hard to vacuum as you may imagine, I find it about the same as 'pea gravel' except the 'sand gravel' doesn't get lodged into the mouth of the vacuum.


Caring for Betta's

Today I'll be sharing what I have learned about betta fish over the years so, if you have any questions or comments feel free to drop me a message in the comment section below.
Do I need live plants for my betta?
No, you don't need to add live aquarium plants for a betta fish. Although I do recommend getting atleast a fake aquarium plant that is a bit bushy (probably a non-snagging variety because most betta's have long fins that could tear/rip) and reaches the top of the aquariums waterline because betta's do seem to like resting on top plant leaves (they may even sleep partially out of the water at times and are capable of doing so unlike most fish since betta are 'labyrinth breathers'). Without this type of plant, your betta will probably spend a good amount of time resting at the bottom of the tank. The best fake plant I have found for a betta is the Exo Terra Jungle Plant Amapallo which you can latch onto the top of your aquarium.

Do I need aquarium ornaments or filtration for my betta?
Some betta seem to like aquarium decor that has some type of cave/opening, but it's important a betta can get in and out of it easily or it may get stuck.

I suggest using a slow flowing filter system for betta fish (betta don't do well in turbulent water conditions), I recommend the Marina S10 Power Filter for small betta setups or a sponge filter for bigger setups (as these can take up a lot of room in smaller tanks). These fish tend to be more active when there is a little water movement at the surface, especially during feeding time as I have found these fish to be very visual and prefer food when it's moving at the surface. A filter also helps provide some surface agitation which I find is needed as betta can excrete a mucus-like film on top the waters surface, which can affect the water's oxygen level.

How often should I do water changes for my betta?
Water changes depend on how often you want to clean your tank (I recommend testing your aquarium water to help you better determine that). Betta's are generally not messy fish, but if you have a slow cycling filter (as you don't want a powerful turbulent filter for a betta) then once or twice a month is probably suffice. Keep in mind that betta's are sensitive to rapid temperature changes and it could cause them to get things like 'ich', so be sure the new water you put in the tank is within 4F or less of its current temperature.

How much light does my betta need?
Aquarium lighting is optional, although in a room with natural window lighting coming in it's probably suffice enough (just don't keep the tank directly in front of a window or under air ducts). Some people suggest that lighting can help a betta's coloring, but I don't really notice changes in the ones I've kept personally. If your betta is in a live planted tank then you may need enough lighting to sustain the plant rather than the fish.

How much do I feed my betta, and what do I feed it?
As for betta food I recommend small floating betta pellets (flakes often come out their gills when fed it, and betta aren't typically substrate foragers so sinking pellets aren't a good option for them). I highly recommend using New Life Spectrum's Betta Formula (feed betta's as much as they can consume in about 3 minutes time, or when they begin spitting out and/or avoiding food), this is great for betta's that are picky eaters. As an occasional treat, you can feed your betta a tiny bit of bloodworms, I like Hikari FD Blood Worms (I have not had much success with other freeze-dried varieties) or frozen bloodworms which are probably the best option. Betta's do seem to have a diet that requires a high amount of protein (which may be why they're a bit on the aggressive side).

Are there any water additives my betta habitat requires?
If your tap water contains chlorine than you'll need to add a water de-chlorinator into the water before adding your betta into the tank or new tap water. I don't recommend using aquarium salt just because there is a lot of online talk stating that it's not good for labyrinth breathers like betta's, and it may cause them to leave more of a mucus-like film at the water's surface. I personally like NutraFin Betta Plus Water Conditioner because it contains 'tropical almond leaf extract' and almond leaves are supposed to be beneficial to them. Betta in the wild tend to live in 'blackwater' conditions and thus almond leaves help to recreate that natural environment for them (you could also try using Tetra's Blackwater Extract). Male betta may even create 'bubble nests' under dried almond leaves (or at the waters surface). The NutraFin product does not help with ammonia so you may want to use something like Hikari Ultimate to help combat that (which is also water de-chlorinator). If your betta does get sick with 'ich' or a white fungus I do have another post on trying to remedy that.

Does my betta need an aquarium heater?
If your house is kept around 70°F indoors than your betta is probably fine without an aquarium heater. If your betta does get sick some people say having an aquarium heater may help, more so when trying to treat 'fin rot' (although I'm not making any guarantees on that). An aquarium thermometer is optional but may be a good idea if you're a beginner, or if you want to know the water temperature of your aquarium water at any given time. I do feel betta are a bit sensitive to dramatic temperature changes, and I actually prefer not using an aquarium heater for my betta since I like having my water at room temperature in a separate container/bucket for 24-48 hours. Just like with aquarium lighting people also say that a heater can help betta coloration (however, I have not really noticed any significant changes with one and some small betta heaters I've found can cause more harm to bettas than good).

Does my betta require a substrate?
In my opinion it's not totally necessary, but if you have a tank that gives off a lot of light reflection I would recommend it because reflective surfaces in a betta habitat can cause the betta to think his reflection is another betta fish and this causes male betta's to act a bit aggressive (you'll probably see his gills puff out and he'll possibly attack things if this is the case). I also wouldn't recommend marble/glass substrate either, just some basic solid colored gravel sand or pea gravel in the color of your choosing (I prefer the sand gravel). If you're thinking about using aquarium gems as your substrate than take caution using those as some betta like resting on the bottom of their habitat and it could injure them.

Can I have multiple betta fish living together?
Betta fish are also known as 'Siamese Fighting Fish' due to their aggressive nature with one another. Male fish should not be kept with other males as they can harm one another, resulting in death. I have read that male betta fish may be kept with at least two female fish, but I have not personally tried that out. I have also heard that betta fish that were bred and raised with other betta fish for most of their lives may be able to co-habitat together. You may be able to keep female betta fish together, but again I have not attempted that for myself. You can put a betta with some small non-aggressive varieties of tropical fish (I have been at a fish store when I overheard a lady mention her betta did not get along with her guppies), but you may want to avoid colorful fish varieties as well (in general do plenty of research before attempting to put a betta with other tank mates).

What size habitat does a betta fish require?
I find this is probably the most sensitive subject when it comes to keeping betta fish, especially when you see them being sold in tiny cups with very little water at pet stores. Those tiny cups are definitely not ideal for a betta to live out the remainder of its life, it is a very sad situation and a lot of betta fish will come with some amount of health problems (fin rot is probably the most common problem). Honestly, I have found that an adult betta could probably get away with living in something smaller than a gallon of water. Betta aren't overly active compared to a lot of other fish so a lot of water really doesn't seem to be required for their survival, but this does not necessarily mean that it is great for their overall health. I would probably just suggest that for every 1-inch length of a betta, they should have 1 to 2 gallons of water. The betta I have are generally kept in a 2.5 gallon and overall the single betta's I've kept in it seem happy and active. If you plan to try and breed a pair of betta fish then you will probably want 5-20 gallons to use just for breeding purposes. A lot of people seem to suggest the minimum tank size for one betta is 5-10 gallons but the more water you can provide any fish is obviously going to be more beneficial. From my experience most adult sized betta generally live around 2 years (although there are apparent records showing betta have lived 9-10 years, and the highest age I've seen mentioned is 15 years).

Personally, I feel a 10-gallon tank is an optimal size for a single betta fish and this is simply based on viewing the fishes overall swim pattern in a larger tank. I do feel you could probably add in a 2nd betta to this 10-gallon tank if they are compatible and you don't have to add in a divider because adding a divider really defeats the point of the fish having the adequate space to move freely in that a 10-gallon non-divided tank can provide for it.

Aside from aggression do betta fish have other personality characteristics?
Betta can have their own unique personalities in general, some of which can be more aggressive, playful, lazy, shy, active, etc... and some may be all of the above at times. I also feel like they're a fish that can also get depressed, which I feel is generally due to their habitat. If you take a betta from a larger tank and move it to a smaller tank, the fish can suddenly become less active. Even if you change a betta's decor I feel it can affect their mood and activity level as well.


So long Mr. Moto

Mr. Moto and I have had lots of memories and learning experiences together as he taught me so much about betta fish for close to 2 years. Mr. Moto was practically an adult when I brought him home from the pet-store and I feel blessed to have had him for as long as I did but, I could tell as time passed he was growing older and his time was drawing to an end. Thank you Moto for helping to teach myself and others more about betta's and how you somehow managed to become known to so many people through the web and in my life. R.I.P. we will all miss you.