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??).
Click to Enlarge
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)!