Aquarium Acronyms

AC - Aqua Clear (filter brand)
BB - Beneficial Bacteria
BBR (or Kuroko) - Black Baby Ranchu
BBS - Baby Brine Shrimp
BS - Brine Shrimp
CBR - Color Baby Ranchu
CO2 - Carbon Dioxide
DIC - Dissolved Inorganic Compounds
DIY - Do It Yourself
DO - Dissolved Oxygen, or Dandy Oranda's (goldfish company)
DOC - Dissolved Organic Compounds
FBS - Frozen Brine Shrimp
FBW - Frozen Blood Worms
GH - General Hardness
Groom - Raising/Care of fish
GW - Green Water
HOB - Hang On Back (filter)
KH - Carbonate Hardness
LBBS - Live Baby Brine Shrimp
LFS - Local Fish Store
LPS - Local Pet Store
MMS - MetroMeds (antibiotic food brand)
NH3 - Ammonia
Nisai - A fish living in its second calendar year (translation: 2 years old)
NO2 - Nitrite
NO3 - Nitrate
NLS - New Life Spectrum (food brand)
Oya - A fish living it its third calendar year, or older (translation: parent)
pH - Potential of Hydrogen
Prazi - Praziquantel (anti-parasite medication)
Prime - Seachem Prime (brand of water dechlorinator), or a canister filter mechanism
Pump - The Growth/Fattening of a fish, or a type of aquarium filtration
QT - Quarantine
RO - Reverse Osmosis
Salt - Aquarium Salt
SG - Soilent Green (type of food made by Repashy Superfoods)
Shu - Shubunkin (type of goldfish)
SVR - Side View Ranchu
TMS - Tahitian Moon Sand (Caribsea substrate brand)
Tosai - A fish born in its current calendar year
TVR - Top View Ranchu
UV - In reference to a UV (Ultraviolet) Sterilizer
VT - Veil-tail goldfish
WC - Water Change


ECR Contest and Review

My betta Neptune in my Halloween ECR contest tank.
I recently participated in the EastCoastRanchu Halloween Giveaway on Instagram where I was one of several runners-up which meant that I won a pet shop grade ranchu however, it was not stated that we would be having to pay shipping costs for a ranchu which according to ECR's owner Cynthia was going to be $41+. Below you'll see the ECR contest rules.
Click Image to Enlarge ECR's Contest Rules
Unfortunately, I didn't agree with that because for one thing I'm not spending that kind of money on a fish I'm not picking out, and secondly I have spent around $50 total (if I remember correctly) on 1 fish I picked out. The other issue now is I can get a pet shop grade ranchu for $8-20 at an LPS less than an hour from me (the same place I got my previous 3 ranchu from). While I was super excited to have won a ranchu from ECR I am now left feeling disappointed. If I totaled up the full value of my entire betta setup (as seen above), it is very easily more money than that of the ranchu's shipping cost. On just the new decorations I spent to decorate this tank for the contest was at least $30.

Furthermore, I had other people on IG reach out to me about the shipping issue (since Cynthia made an issue about my ordeal with her shipping "mechanics" over social media which went as far as to say that we should have read her shipping mechanics on Facebook, and never once were we directed on IG to do as such for the competition). This person also sent me screenshots of their e-mail conversation and apparently if you didn't win a ranchu and you won a Python vacuum than you did not have to pay anything for shipping. Last I checked a gravel vacuum does not fit into an envelope which means it costs something to ship and therefore it seems to people in this contest that it was a better deal to not be a winner or runner-up. So this now becomes a bit confusing because on one hand we were to assume that a fish meant you paid for shipping while a non-fish prize meant you paid for nothing.

On top of everything I get a really rude e-mail response from East Coast Ranchu's owner Cynthia, and now I will no longer be doing or recommending future business there (you can read our email exchange below as to why). I really can't even believe that someone running a business would say that "my name is worth more than your $42" and suggesting that I am "poor" when I have purchased fish through her before. Nor was I ever "ungrateful", I was excited to win (you can tell from my email) just as much as when I was excited and appreciative in my unboxing ranchu video I did about 2 years back. She made a lot of weird rude assumptions about everything that I said, I really just don't even understand this aggressive type of behavior. I could easily say a lot of things right now about this but I'm going to let you decide for yourself what to make of it. All she ever had to say to my response about not wanting the fish was that she respects my decision and leave it at that, or she could have offered me the completely free gravel vacuum instead and offer my fish to someone else. If this was some great pet shop grade fish than why not just sell it like she does normally, or tell me that if I'm willing to spend an extra $8 or so more that she'll let me pick out whatever fish I want (this is a business after all, right?). I don't see how I am really inconveniencing her here (it's one less fish she has to send out after all), and she made this ordeal feel like a scam. This whole situation turned into a nightmare experience (fitting for Halloween).
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There are other fish places online that offer $29.99-$35 for 1 to 2 day shipping of fish, or even free shipping when you spend $175. There are also plenty of other people selling quality fish online (cost is not an issue for me. I work on this blog in my free time between working a full time job and going to college). For me I am currently in fish keeping for the enjoyment of the fish not their show or breeding qualities. I have bred fish before and I know all the work that goes into caring/raising any type of fish, which is basically why I created this blog to begin with. I am here to try and better the fish community, and not to act as if I am above everyone else that is into this hobby as well.



Lately I seem to be having one aquarium issue after another as my Eheim canister filter had a leak after I cleaned it out because I didn't realize I had to turn the intake tube at the base of the canister in order to tighten it in place. So, a week of using many towels to absorb the water from the new carpet (also, Febreeze was a big help with any carpet smell issue) and the carpet is finally dry again (from now on I am keeping the canister in a container). Luckily I didn't go to Florida for the week or I would have came home to a bigger water mess. The other issue I'm having lately is finding a new algae eater locally so, I may end up calling one of my fish friends (whom I bred guppies for in DC) to pull some strings for me or.. I may make a road trip up to PA to find what I'm looking for. Something else I discovered recently was that I am pretty certain all my current ranchu (Sumo, Pocky, and Ramen) all happen to be a tank full of female fish. So, that's all the updates I have for now and I hope everyone had an awesome Halloween!


The 12 Best Small Tank Pleco's

With the recent passing of my bristlenose pleco Eval whom I had for roughly 4.5 years I realized that a pleco is a really good algae eater option for my aquarium needs in my goldfish tank so, I wanted to put together a quick list of the 8 best small tank pleco's.

Most of the pleco's listed below all require at least a 30 gallon sized tank to reach their adult size (aside from the Pitbull and Clown pleco listed below as it needs at least 20 gallons and the Pitbull seems to be more of an herbivore rather than omnivore like the others). Generally I find pleco's to be very hardy and adaptable to a wide range of water parameters, the main harmful things to these fish I would say from my experience is being sure to have 0 Nitrite (as that's harmful to most all fish) and also temperature should generally be in the mid 70F range. These fish are often shy, aggressive eaters, like hiding places (especially driftwood), like water movement, are typically more active at night, and they will clean algae off any plants, decor, glass etc. I don't recommend picking these fish up with your hands as they do have barbs behind there gills that stick out when threatened, and using nets can also end up injuring them (as I'm pretty certain that's what happened to my pleco). They generally need to be fed some type of algae wafer (I've been liking one by Omega One) but can also eat certain blanched vegetables, they may even eat some frozen foods (like bloodworms) and sinking pellets.

Size: 2.4"

Size: 3.5"
There is also the 6" Chocolate Zebra and the 3" Pseudo Zebra

Size: 4
Or the other 4" Clown

Size: 4"

Size: 4.5"

Size: 5"

Size: 5.5"

Size: 6"
Or of similar appearance is the smaller 3" White-Spotted Ancistrus


Lionhead Progress (1 Year)

Today I have officially had my goldies for 1 year, to which I feel so blessed to have seen them grow from 4 grams up to 159 grams in weight (and still growing!).
Pocky, Sumo, and Ramen (left to right)
My results show that in a goldfish's first year (12 months) it can gain roughly an average of 134g. Of course results will vary depending on how, what, and when you feed your goldfish, as well as the goldfish's living conditions.
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Another factor to note when raising, culling, and/or breeding goldfish is that generally any imperfections found when the fish is small will more than likely still be an issue as the fish progresses in age and growth. Color roughly changes with age, in proper conditions color seems to intensify with age however, some breeding, breeds, or health related issues can cause the fish to go through a more dramatic change in color (as seen with my goldfish Pocky).

Oddly after 5-6 months any major internal health problem/s seem to become apparent in these fish, such as having swim bladder disease. I was unable to find a cure-all for swim bladder disease and I'd like to hypothesize that this is something that can occur mainly due to poor breeding standards. Some swim bladder problems may be worse than others.


Farewell Takashi

For those that don't already know Takashi Amano passed away earlier this month, and although I did not know him personally he was definitely one of my biggest inspirations for planted aquariums and freshwater fish (I even mentioned him in the first post I ever did on here) as I am sure he was for a lot of people. I don't know any serious planted tank Aquarists that weren't some how inspired by his work and aquatic photographs. He will definitely be missed and my thoughts and prayers go out to him and his loved ones.

Thank you for all you have done Takashi Amano.


New Betta

Originally I was uncertain I would get another betta, but as I tend to follow a lot of betta forums and such.. I couldn't resist the urge to get another.
Hi, I'm Neptune!
Meet Neptune, a seemingly young male rose petal (AKA rose tail) betta. I got Neptune a few weeks ago from Petco and have put him through a mild quarantine, since he has surpassed that I decided it's now time to share my new fishy friend on here. Neptune doesn't seem to have a huge appetite (nor is an aggressive eater) thus far although a heater may change that, and what he currently lacks in body size (which may change overtime) he makes up for with his huge fin spread. Neptune flairs with a black background and has a big curiosity of the bubbles coming from the sponge filter in his tank. As far as betta personality's go he is just a curious mellow fellow.



It's obvious to see (blog stats don't lie!) that a lot of you have been missing my posts recently (and I've missed you all as well), as mentioned I have had a pretty busy summer full of lots of adventure, and basically living life.
Blogger Stats (click to enlarge)
So what's new...

I don't really plan on doing anymore goldfish weigh-in's until I have had my fish for a year (which is just around the corner!) just because I feel their growth rates have possibly been bouncing around a bit due to some feeder issues, food and water changes, etc. After that weigh-in is done I may take a break from the weigh-in's in general, and another reason for that is Pocky and Ramen both have swim-bladder issues and I don't know how much longer I can see Pocky go through this because some days seem worse for him than others. Aside from swim-bladder issues with these 3 goldfish I really haven't had any issues with any type of disease, illness, etc. so I feel what I have been doing for them has been working out for the most part.

I'd like to start caring for some other types of fish in the near future. Honestly all that the goldfish community has taught me and everything else I've learned (be it on my own or from general research) has in my opinion helped me become a better fish-keeper in general. I don't find there is a lot of valuable online information for tropical type fish (such as guppies, tetras, etc) as there is for fish like goldfish which is partially why I'd like to venture outside goldfish as I did back when I had guppies as well.
I also ordered some Guppy-Guide logo stickers off of my CafePress shop and they're pretty cute (I plan on getting a new 5 gal. bucket or something to put the sticker on). The "clear" sticker is transparent all over and not just the background color, while the solid "white" sticker is solid all over, and I wish only the background was transparent (*hint hint* CafePress, haha). Eventually I will get around to making some more products for the shop but feel free to follow my shop for updates on that.
I just started a new Instagram account just for this blog (you can find the link on here as well) and the old one will probably be for my personal use (which may get deleted). I opted to make a new one so that it could be made more public and be strictly more aquarium/blog/fish based and such.


Fishroom / Bedroom Makeover

My fishroom is also my bedroom and starting back around April this year I wanted to create a bedroom influenced more by my fishy friends. I didn't want an overly theme'ish room I just wanted something a bit more classy, modern, aquatic, feminine, and zen. As I continue to make adjustments to my room (because Rome wasn't built in a day.. I would know since I just came back from there) I will continue to update this blog post in the future.
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Bed, Bath and Beyond - Venice Grommet Panel Curtains "84 in White
Currently I don't see these in white or the length I bought these online but they're in store for $39.99ea. I bought 4 of these for both of my windows and with several old 20% off coupons I saved $8 per panel. I liked these because they have a vertical creased wave pattern with tiny dots that are like bubbles, and they're a smidge sheer with horizontal lines which gives a zen bamboo grass type of feel when the sun is out.

Walmart - Luck Adjustable Satin Nickel Curtain Rod
Originally I was going to go with a glass orb finials rod but when I saw this ginkgo rod I HAD to get it and these are actually pretty nice (although I ordered these off the WalMart site they're actually from Overstock.com). These worked well with the grommet curtains I got because they can be lengthened forward, which is important since grommet panels have wide folds that would otherwise get smooshed against the wall/window.

Target - Nautical Decor
I got these nautical pots ($1.78ea on clearance) and a Nate Berkus urchin awhile back. I also picked up a quilted scale looking throw pillow for my bed which was on clearance (it's cheaper than the scale looking pillows I totally loved by Caitlin Wilson.. but I may just cave and order 'em anyway, haha).

Green Front Furniture - Coral Lamp
My parents decided to surprise me with a gift/lamp from this local furniture store and it turned out to be much larger than they had anticipated (and it wasn't something they could return either). The lampshade itself was so big that I ended up finding a different shade at TJ Maxx. My mom had originally thought this was the lamp I wanted from Wolfe Furniture but that lamp actually had a goldfish on it rather than being made of coral (erk, memory fail).

TJ Maxx - Fish Decor and Lampshade
I picked up several decorative fish from here within the past few months, some of which were even on clearance ranging from $2.99 and up. I also saw a really cute seahorse I was going to get but I was too impatient to wait in line that day (if it was meant to be than it will still be around later). I ended up buying another lamp ($30 at TJMaxx) just so I could put a much smaller lampshade on it (because a 2ft x 1ft lampshade was just too enormous for my room.. or our house honestly), by getting this lamp it was actually cheaper than just buying a single lampshade.. but I'm not sure what we'll do with the extra lamp base because it's pretty retro (and not in a good way, lol).


So Long Meko

Back in 2013 I got my 3rd betta fish Meko, whom was a great fishy friend and was most like my beloved Mr. Moto. Sadly this week he caught 'dropsy' and didn't make it through the week during treatment. It has become apparent to myself that most adult sized betta fish from pet stores tend to live about 2 years (give or take). Several months back I had cured Meko from another illness and now in this case I do feel that his age had been catching up to him. I'm not sure if I will be getting another betta as I had been thinking of doing something else with his 2.5gal tank, but only time will tell. Much love Meko and hope you enjoy the big fish bowl in the sky.


Lionhead Progress (8th Month)

With Pocky's swim bladder issue becoming more noticeable over the past few months I do worry about his struggle in terms of health as Ramen seems to cope better with this issue in comparison. I do find it odd that both of these fish started showing swim bladder issues around the same time and yet Sumo seemed perfectly fine until this week. This could all be bad genetics which means some bred fish are more inclined to have issues such as swim bladder. I have tried changing their pellet food over the past several months now to possibly remedy this swim bladder situation because I really don't have time to be thawing and pre-soaking food to give to them several times a day in hopes that it may have a positive impact on them.

So this week I did purchase some new sinking pellet food by Cobalt and I am honestly hoping to get some results with this (in terms of swim bladder issues) because unlike the past sinking pellets I have tried (Hikari, New Life Spectrum, and Omega One) this stuff actually sinks as soon as it hits the water... there is no floating at the surface briefly and then it sinks, this stuff just straight sinks to the bottom. So in terms of keeping the goldies from gulping air at the waters surface (which in turn can have a negative impact on their swim bladder) this keeps the food under the water. Honestly I feel like after this many different types of sinking pellets for goldfish that if this doesn't help with their swim bladder problems (even a little bit) than I am pretty much done trying to combat the situation with diet. I do plan to do a more in-depth review of the Cobalt fish food in the near future just to let everyone know how it's working out.

It has been 2 months (roughly 60 days) since I did the last weigh-in for these fish (hope you didn't miss my lil trio too much) and they have had some pretty big weight gain results.
Pocky, Sumo, and Ramen (left to right)
Pocky is no longer that fastest growing of the 3 fish (due to issues mentioned previously) but he has managed to put on 18g (0.3g daily) regardless and now weighs in at 86g. Sumo has managed to gain 39g (0.65g daily) since his last weigh-in and is now 116g. Ramen has had the biggest weight gain with a whopping 49g (0.82g daily) which puts him at 121g.
Below you'll find the goldies 8-month growth chart.
Growth Chart (click to enlarge)


Tetra ColorFusion LED Light - Review

As I was browsing through the fish isle of WalMart around the start of this year (which means this light is still working today after lots of use) I came across the Tetra ColorFusion LED light for around $20. This light clips onto the inner tank hood rim of the aquarium (cord has an additional clip to go around the side) and gradually rotates through several colors which allows you to pause the color rotation and keep the light on a shade of your choosing (and to turn it off you hold the button down).
2.5 Gallon Aquarium Setup with the Tetra ColorFusion LED Light
This LED light has 3 primary colors (blue, red, green) and 1 neutral color (white), and you also get a few various shades in between during the light rotation (purple, turquoise). This is a true led light so it brings out any metallic sheen, neon, etc on fish and/or decor (it's actually quite nice). This light in my opinion isn't that bright so I don't feel it would be enough to adequately grow plants (or cause algae growth) or use effectively on a large aquarium as this mainly makes for a nice night time aquarium mood light. This unit is waterproof which allows me to top off my little 2.5gal betta tank (pictured above). Overall I would give this 4/5 stars, and I'm going try this on my goldfish tank because mine don't really care for bright lighting.


Best Fake Plants for Fancy Goldfish

From my experience with fancy goldfish they do seem a little picky about what fake plants they take an interest/liking in. Mine seem to go for more colorful varieties such as those that are pink, rather than the more realistic green plants. For mine the below fuchsia colored plant seems to attract their interest the most thus far as they'll swim by and occasionally try to nibble at its leaves.
National Geographic flower plant @ PetSmart
When I asked others what type of fake plant/s they felt were best suited for fancy goldfish the most common response was along the lines of.. "silk plants" as to prevent goldfish injuries (so avoid fake plants that look spiky). Another person suggested low/short plants with really big leaves, they claim it helps catch food which goldfish will eat later. Also fancy goldfish can be a bit clumsy at times so I'd suggest that the fake plant has a wide and weighted base as to help prevent the plant from tipping over. Based on everything here I put together the below image of the types of fake plants which fancy goldfish may like best (these are all from Petco, PetSmart, and PetMountain).

What type of fake plants do your fancy goldfish like?


Lionhead Progress (6th Month)

This month I mainly fed the lionhead (or as I have been told they are ranchu not lionhead.. or lionchu, whichever you feel these fish are) Saki-Hikari fancy goldfish (green bag) which has consisted of 3 feedings a day and 1/8 tsp per feeding (which is a lot less than these fish were eating the previous month). I also spent the month researching, designing, doing water changes (which is much easier now with a pond pump), etc to figure out why Pocky and Ramen both appeared to be having sudden swim bladder issues most the month. I figure the issue was due to escalated nitrate levels (which you may have read about correcting nitrate levels in my previous post) because after I did several big water changes the two fish appeared to make a quick recovery within 2-3 days (although some days they still seem to have issues), and the nitrates were really the only thing off when I tested the tank water (why we are often told to neglect our nitrate levels is now beyond me).
Sumo, Ramen, and Pocky (left to right)
My little Sumo currently weighed the most for a second month in a row now at 77g, which is a 10g gain from last month. Ramen weighed in at 72g with a 13g gain from last month allowing him to put on the most weight this month, surpass Pocky in weight, and have the average weight between the three. Pocky whom was the fastest growing of the three just 2 months ago only weighed in at 68g with a tiny 2g gain from last month (what's up with that??).
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The average gain this month was 8g (0.3g daily) which is half of what it was last month, keeping in mind that I did halve their food intake this month. As usual while the food was halved the weight of fish was not divided equally, although I am surprised to see Pocky falling drastically behind. Pocky has had a rough month in terms of swim bladder issues (same for Ramen though), but it could also be he doesn't care for the new Saki-Hikari as much as the others (because both Pocky and Sumo practically weighed the same last month while Ramen was tailing behind).

Based on my findings from this month and last month this shows me how much weight will be gained by my fish as a group, since half the amount of food is also half the amount of weight gained as a whole. I also feel that each fish has better weight gain depending upon their favored pellet food, I don't think it's one type of pellet food that really works for all the same type of fish. Also by halving their food intake Ramen and Pocky both noticeably were having some type of swim bladder/equilibrium issues, is this affected by high nitrate levels only or perhaps is this some type of hunger pain issue?

For next month I am going to go back to feeding the lionhead 1/4tsp of pellets per feeding, and I am going to put them back on a mixed pellet diet. I will also insure my nitrate stay at 40ppm or lower on a weekly basis. Since my fish are getting rather big for my tank setup I do plan to remove the large barnacle decor in the tank ('Eval' the pleco won't be happy about it) and I will probably just add in some fake plants (doing this will give the lionhead more swimming room as this currently takes up around 1/4 the tanks length, and it will increase water volume).


Reducing Nitrate via Water Change

The amount of water changed in an established aquarium is basically the only way to reduce nitrate levels via water change. If you aren't getting results in reducing your nitrate to safe levels through water changes than you either aren't changing enough water and/or the water you're adding back into your tank is high in nitrate.

If you have a tank that has an unsafe nitrate level at say 80ppm (Parts Per Million) and your tap water has a safe nitrate level at say 20ppm than doing a 25% water change will not alter the nitrate level (it may reduce other things in the tank but nitrate won't be one of them). Even if you did numerous 25% water changes under these circumstances your nitrate would still go unchanged. Now if your tap water had a 0ppm nitrate level than any % of water changed would reduce these nitrate levels.
Given the above stats as before if you did a 50% water change than you would actually reduce the nitrate to 60ppm. If you continued doing these 50% water changes than over time the lowest your nitrate level could get would be 40ppm (which is a safe nitrate level). Keep in mind that the lowest your nitrate level can reach depends on the water you are adding back into the tank and in this case the only way to reach 20ppm would be to perform a 100% water change because that is the same nitrate level as the tap water. Another interesting thing to note is lets say you did a 75% water change and your nitrate is now at 40ppm and the following day you want to do a 50% water change to further decrease the nitrate. Doing that would not reduce the nitrate, it would actually raise the nitrate to 60ppm if the tap water is still at 20ppm. So it is possible to raise your nitrate level even if you are performing regular water changes.
It is important to know that nitrate levels generally increase overtime so, an aquarium can reach unhealthy nitrate levels (which generally start at 80ppm) which can cause "Nitrate Poisoning" in aquarium inhabitants. A gradual increase in nitrate may not appear to harm fish over time but it can harm/kill newly added fish that have not been exposed to this level of nitrate. One symptom of nitrate poisoning may be "Swim Bladder Disease" which affects equilibrium in fish. By measuring nitrate levels (I use Tetra EasyStrips to test my water) weekly it can help you figure out how much water you should be changing and possibly how often it needs to be changed.

Big water changes can have ill effects on aquarium inhabitants that have gone without regular water changes so, it is often best to start small and work your way to doing bigger water changes, as again you may not be changing nitrate levels at first but you are more than likely altering other water parameters (such as reducing any aquarium additives). By drastically reducing nitrate in an aquarium you risk putting the aquariums inhabitants through things like "Nitrate Shock" and some symptoms of this are listlessness, loss of equilibrium, and fish laying at the bottom of the tank.

Aside from water changes some other ways to help keep nitrate levels low is to not overfeed aquarium inhabitants and use nitrate removing filter media (which does not mean water changes should not be performed). There are also water treatments available which may help to reduce nitrate but some of these may also contribute more to polluting a tank causing nitrate levels to rise in the long run if water changes are not continued so, I don't particularly see a need in purchasing those unless the new water you're adding to an aquarium is very high in nitrate as well (such as water with a nitrate level over 40ppm).


Salmon in Alaska

Last summer I traveled all around Alaska and it happened to be breeding season for none other than... Salmon. While on a tour one of the stops we made was to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery located in Juneau, Alaska. Salmon is my least favorite fish to eat personally (as I'm an Orange Roughy lover), although a lot of people do enjoy eating it raw, dry, baked, smoked, etc.
Inside Macaulay Hatchery
Salmon go through a lot during breeding season and really take a beating (we're talking one ugly salmon by the end of it). Not only do they travel far distances but they have to fight the cold water elements (it's around 40F during spawning season in these Alaskan waters) such as water current, rocks, animals, people, and other various things along their long journey. Not to mention that once spawning is over these fish die and become a food source for many plants and animals. Salmon hatcheries have helped increase the numbers of salmon over the years, and they even use mild electrical currents in parts of the hatchery to help relax the salmon from their rough spawning journey.
Salmon in the hatchery
Touch pool area inside Macaulay Hatchery
I don't think I had ever heard of a "fish ladder" before this trip, but a "fish ladder" is basically a man made waterway over a naturally occurring area of water which enables fish such as salmon to better travel up/down stream as they jump up out of the water to reach breeding grounds.
A Fish Ladder at Macaulay Salmon Hatchery
Fish Ladder in Ketchikan, AK
If you happen to be on a cruise around Alaska they will probably try and tell you (video's and all) that you are eating salmon from Alaska on-board the ship... but upon deeper research from more knowledgeable people on-board you may like to know that it is not at all salmon from Alaska (depending on your cruise line) and it is more than likely salmon from places like Norwegia (ahh..I smell some salmon competition, haha).
View from my room on the cruise ship.
While on the cruise it was rare for us to see any whales, etc but we did see our fair share of bald eagles making a meal of some salmon. Our cruise-line would not let you bring any type of food/drink back onto the ship from any of the Alaskan ports (unless you are a staff member), although you could pay to have something shipped out. So if you want to eat some Alaskan salmon than I would suggest eating off-board the ship while at a port in Alaska (but that is just my 2-cent tip).
Fishing boats in Ketchikan, AK
There are several different types of fishing boats used for salmon fishing in Alaska and each has a different intended purpose for the fish caught. Some boats are best used for selling whole fish while others are best intended for canning, etc. We even saw the famous 'Time Bandit' (from the show Deadliest Catch) boat cruising along these waters.
Glacier in Alaska
Glacier water is some of the prettiest colored water I have ever seen (the pic doesn't do it justice) as it's a pale blue-green shade (you can see the glacier between the mountain here and a waterfall off to the right), and Alaska has tons of waterfalls with really huge steep mountains. If you've never been to Alaska I definitely recommend going (keep in mind a lot of tourist things aren't available for people outside of the summer months because Alaska basically turns into a ghost town)!


Water Change via Pond Pump

If you have been using something like a gravel vacuum and bucket to do your water changes because you can't connect a water-flow control valve to your sink faucet (and at this point you've probably exhausted yourself), or perhaps your home doesn't have the best water pressure, or you don't want to waste as much water as with a typical water-flow control valve than what I am about to show you is a super simple solution and a total game changer!
Say goodbye to buckets and buy yourself a pond pump and enough hosing (that will fit onto your pond pump) to reach from your sink, bathtub, etc to your aquarium (and you may want something to hold your hose in place.. like a clamp or heavy object). 

Connect the hose and pond pump together. Set the pond pump into your aquarium while the other end of the hose goes in the sink drain. Plug in the pump and the water will remove the tanks water and go down the sinks drain.

To fill the tank back up you adjust your sinks water temperature as needed, close the sink drain (so it will continuously fill with water), and leave the water running (traditional sinks usually don't overflow as they have a top drain hole). Place the end of the hose into the aquarium and then plug in the pump by the sink and place the pump into the sink of continuously running water.

Once the tank is filled with clean water unplug the pond pump (assuming it doesn't have an off/on switch like mine), place your finger over the end of the tube in the tank and bring it to sink to drain out any excess water in the tube.

Additional Tips
Pond pumps don't really have a lot of suction when pumping water so you probably won't have to worry about fish, gravel, etc getting sucked up into these vents. If you are worried about small fry, etc getting into the pump than you can try placing the pump device into some panty-hose (or other fine fabric that water can easily travel through) and knotting off the fabric around the pump. 

Be sure your sink or tub is clean before filling it with water (vinegar is one of the best natural cleaning agents in my opinion) as sinks are one of the germiest places in the home (more so than the average toilet). You could also place a clean bowl inside your sink to place the pond pump in instead of having it set in the sink itself (which is probably the best way to go about this anyway), and this could also be beneficial if your sink doesn't have a top drain so that you don't have to worry about water overflowing and you could then leave the sink drain open instead.

I use the Tetra 140GPH Pond Pump, it comes with 3 different sized hose adapters (a 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch ID) and has an adjustable flow rate (which gives off around 3 inches of head at its lowest setting and over a foot of head on its highest setting). Keep in mind the GPH when looking for a pond pump because that will control how fast you can get your water change/s done (with the 20ft vinyl hose I attach to this pump I can basically empty 1 gallon of water per minute). 


Altering Water Temperature

This week I had a semi-idiot moment (but still a lesson learned in the process) when trying to reduce the current water temperature in my aquarium momentarily (per another experiment of mine). Basically I have been told that when doing a water change you should keep the temperature of the new water within 3-5F of the aquariums current water temperature (as to prevent things like 'Ich' from happening). However, if you have a 79F tank, change 25% of the water (in say a 20 gallon aquarium), and add in 74F (which is 5F lower than the current water temp) water to replace that 25%... guess what, the aquarium water only dropped 1.25F degree in combination with the current tank water temperature (which just wasn't going to do because I wanted the overall water to become 74F momentarily and not 77.75F).

As a side note the upside to adding in cooler water than the tanks current temperature is an increase in the waters oxygen level (which is why I feel when you do a water change to always add in cooler water than the tanks current temp). Did you know water at 77F/25C has an oxygen solubility level of 8.6mg/L? Which means that the average oxygen level in a typical indoor freshwater aquarium is probably going to be around 8-9mg/L. Water at 32F/0C which is 'freezing point' has an O2 level of 14.6mg/L, while water at 212F/100C which is 'boiling point' has an O2 level of 0.

To break it down if I did a 50% (1/2 the tanks water) water change I would need to add in 69F water to my 79F for it to average 74F, which is a 10F temperature difference from the tanks current temp. So if I am only changing 25% (1/4 the tanks water) of the water I would need the new water to be 15F below 79F which would be 64F.
Now you may be saying that colder water is denser than warmer water (thus meaning the cold water would sink to the bottom of the tank) and that 'would' be problematic for aquarium inhabitants. However, when you add cool water to warm water the two temperatures combine together (because heat rises and cold sinks), but if you added hot water to cool water (thus reversing the order) then the two would take time to merge together (the later case could be problematic for aquarium inhabitants). Don't believe me? Than checkout this video on water density. So, if you happen to be using a tube to fill cooler water back into your aquarium you'll want this tube to be closer to the waters surface and not at the base of the tank in order to allow the two water temperatures to better merge together (unless of course you have other intentions for doing so).


Lionhead Progress (5th Month)

New food for my lionhead showed up recently from Japan which I got from eSeller Momota106 who kindly threw in a sample of Azayaka's Basic Balance (I have been wanting to try that out for some time now), and shipping took 20 days before arriving at my place in the US. If you opt to get the bigger bag of Hikari from them it appears you'd still get the same single sample pack, which is a similar type of pellet to the food purchased (as both of these are for goldfish balance). I was not impressed with the results I got with Hikari Lionhead as I have mentioned previously so, I am hoping to get better results with a different goldfish food by them (I will try almost anything twice).
Azayaka (left) and Saki-Hikari (right)
This past month I made up my own pellet mix to hopefully get the most growth from all of my lionhead (this was based on their past growth rates), and I even started giving them an extra feeding per day (so they got 3 meals a day from 6am to 6pm) although I did not decide to decrease their water temp (so it's still set at 78F).

My Daily Pellet Mix (fed 3x a day, 1/4 tsp pellets per single feeding)
1 Part - Hikari Lionhead pellets (I will switch these out with my new Hikari pellets)
2 Parts - Omega One goldfish pellets
2 Parts - New Life Spectrum therA pellets

Other Foods (given 1-4x a month)
1 Cube - Frozen Mysis Shrimp and/or Bloodworms
2x2 in - Nori/Dried Seaweed
Several Drops (after every water change) - Vitachem
Click to Enlarge
I have had my lionhead goldfish for 5 months now and as you can see from the above chart it shows their growth rate for every month (approx. 30 days per month). The average gain this month was 18g (0.6g daily) which is double compared to last month. This month Sumo had a huge gain of 21g since last month and weighed in at 67g. Pocky nearly weighed the same as Sumo with a 17g gain and now weighing in at 66g. Ramen is again the smallest this month with a 15g gain, now weighing in at 59g. I did notice Ramen having swim bladder issues this week so I will be making adjustments to the amount of food being fed to my lionhead, and I believe this is why Ramen's weight is a bit lower because he has been working harder to keep his buoyancy. I also feel Pocky may have very early stages of swim bladder issues as well so a slight diet may be in order for these fish.
Sumo, Ramen, and Pocky (left to right)


DIY External Canister Media Baskets

I decided to redo my (EHEIM 2211) external canister filter setup because honestly it was not setup as efficiently/correctly as it should have been (big thanks to PondGuru). In doing so I decided I wanted some canister media baskets for my canister filter since it did not come with any (the basic concept for these media baskets is credited to Mike Creuzer). I got all these supplies from WalMart, I made two media baskets, and I had plenty of material leftover.
Completed media basket.
Items Used
Stiff Plastic Canvas (the stiffer the canvas the sturdier the basket)
Fishing Line (I chose 15lb to ensure durability for my basket/s media weight needs)
Plastic Elastic Cord (or similar)
Sharpie Marker
Basket Sides
Start by placing and forming the plastic canvas into the inside of the canister filter to figure out what dimensions the basket will need to be (measuring is the most crucial step for this project). Add on an extra overlapping inch to the width measurement to allow for more support to the sides of the basket. Use a sharpie marker to mark where you'll need to cut your canvas. Cut out the plastic canvas size needed. Cup your canvas together to form a circular tube shape and use fishing line to sew/knot together the canvas sides (I did triple knots). To better secure the knots I took a lighter and burned off any loose ends just to melt everything together a smidge.
The two shapes needed to create a media basket.
Basket Base
As a base template for the basket I used the round filter basin that this filter came with to trace where to cut out another piece of plastic canvas. Attach the base to one end of the basket sides using the fishing line to complete the basket (it's not necessary to sew the entire base, just enough to hold the media in).
Basket handle
Basket Handle
To make the basket/s a bit easier to remove from the canister filter tie on some plastic cord to the top sides of the basket to create a handle. Don't make the handle too tight because you want to be able to get your media in and out easily and you don't want your basket to awkwardly bend inward.
Completed media basket.
Your basket/s should now slide nicely inside the canister filter and once full of media the baskets should sit on top of one another (assuming you made more than 1 basket). If for some reason it doesn't than you could always add on a small semi-circle piece and attach it to the top rim.


Lionhead Progress (4th Month)

The lionhead have now turned into Nisai with the new year and it has now been another 30 days since the lionheads last weigh-in. They have been on a fairly strict diet of New Life Spectrum Thera A 1mm pellets (this is the first month I have tried NLS Thera A) all month. I do feel that my lionhead seem a bit more vibrant in color this month, especially the yellow coloring on Pocky.
Ramen, Sumo, and Pocky (left to right)
This month Ramen is the slimmest at 44g with a 7g gain since last month. The 2 pellet foods which Ramen has showed the most growth on in the past has been NLS reg. and Hikari Lionhead.

Sumo is no longer the smallest in weight as he now weighs in at 46g with a 12g gain since last month. The 2 pellet foods which Sumo has shown the most growth on is NLS Thera A and Omega One.

Pocky is still the biggest lionhead at 49g with a 8g gain. The 2 pellet foods which Pocky has showed the most growth on is NLS reg. and Omega One.

The average gain this month was 9g (0.3g gain daily), unfortunately Pocky and Ramen both fell short as Sumo apparently ate the most food. This coming month I may try to mix their pellet food to be... 1 part Hikari Lionhead, 1 part NLS Thera A, 2 parts Omega One, and 2 Parts reg. NLS in hopes that they will all have a huge gain for next month. Today I finally reduced their water temperature from 76-78F down to 72F because there tank is honestly feeling like it's in the Bahama's right now and may be why the tank has been smelling regardless of water changes, etc.