Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Aquarium Fish Species

 Aquarium Fish Species
Goldfish (Carassius auratus)
» Black Moor
» Bubble Eye
» Celestial
» Chinese Lionhead
» Common Goldfish
» Fantail
» Oranda
» Pearlscale
» Pom-Pom
» Ranchu
» Ryukin and Tosakin
» Shubunkin
» Veiltail
Angelfish (genus: Pterophyllum)
Betta (Betta splendens)
Catfish (order: Siluriformes)
Clown Loach (Botia macracanthus)
Discus (genus: Symphysodon)
Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia)
Eel (order: Anguilliformes)
Guppy (Poecilia reticulata)
Hatchet (family:Gasteropelecidae)
Koi (Cyprinus carpio)
» Asagi Magoi & Shusui
» Bekko
» Chagoi
» Hariwake
» Showa
» Utsurimono
Kuhli Loach (Acanthophthalmus)
Mollies (genus: Poecilia)
Neon Fish (Paracheirodon innesi)
Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus)
Platy (genus: Xiphophorus)
Peacock Cichlid (genus:Aulonocara)
Puffer Fish (family: Tetraodontidae)
Sharks (order: Cypriniformes)
Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus)
Swordtail (Xixphoporus helleri) 

Common Goldfish

The Common Goldfish is the simplest type of goldfish familiar to everybody. Usually it is characterized by its evenly proportioned body and fins, and unlike all the other fancy goldfish, it is just plain simple with dull colors. Common goldfish are known to grow up to 25cm (about 10in) long although smaller size variants do exist. Another major characteristics often observed is the single-tailed that ends in a fork tail fin. It can be found in either red, yellow, orange or even dull silver color.
comet goldfishcommon goldfishwakin goldfish
common goldfishwakincomet (in the following order)

Wakin and Comet Goldfish are 2 fine examples of the common goldfish. Wakin is a common breed of goldfish (double tailed and usually found in bright red color) originated from Japan while the Comet (differentiated by having forked, longer tail fin) is known to be developed by the Americans. Both types are considered to be striking variant although they are still identified to belong to the group of common goldfish. All those mentioned above are hardy and relatively easy to care for. They are also known to be an active type more suited in an outdoor fish pond.


The Ranchu is the Japanese variant of goldfish bred from the Lionhead. It is not difficult to characterize this particular goldfish, as it can be easily identifiable by its short, round body with thick fins. Perhaps if you observe carefully you will notice that one of the most prominent features is the lack of dorsal fin. The tail can be made up of 4 lobes and is very short in length. Ranchu rarely grows beyond 15cm measured from head to end of tail fin. Similar like its lionhead cousin, it has a hood on its head, which looks like a raspberry outgrowth protruding from the skin.
ranchu goldfish
The goldfish is also known for its colorful feature and is usually found in red, orange or white striking combinations. Ranchu is a highly prized and sought after goldfish not only in Japan but also other parts of the world including America and Europe. In fact, the Japanese are so fond of it and competitions were organized during autumn each year to select the best fish. The art of judging and selecting the best Ranchu comes from the few basic concepts outlined below.

  • Eyes should be evenly placed, small and protrude clearly from the headgrowth
  • The stomach should form a smooth curve starting from the gill to the end of the abdomen
  • When seen from above, the back of Ranchu should be broad and properly aligned with the body and finally,
  • The scales must be complete and regular with no visible deformity in sight

No doubt with its elegant and unique characteristics, Ranchu has always remained to be one of the most popular goldfish. In Japan, this hobby is highly revered upon and refined to perfection. It is one of the most beautiful goldfish, which remains one of my favorite 

fantail goldfishFantail is basically the egg-shaped version of the common goldfish with its caudal (tail) fin slightly forked and with moderate length. It can be considered the short tail version of another variety of goldfish called veiltail whereby the caudal fin is much more prolonged and trailing. Do not mistaken the failtail as aryukin because it does not have a hump on its shoulder.

Like any other goldfish varieties, fantails are also found exist in different colors ranging from red to orange while some appear as calico speckled with grey and black color spots. It can also be metallic, nacreous and even have normal or wide telescope eyes. The main distinguishing feature is of course having the split caudal fin whereby a good specimen should have the all lobes completely separated. The prize-winning specimen is also characterized as having double anal fin, which are evenly formed and look well-balanced.

Fantails can be easily bred, as long as it has 
large aquarium space for normal fin development and good water quality. If properly cared for, they can live up to 10 years or more and usually achieve full-grown length size of about 6 inches long measured from the head until the end of the tail fin.

pearlscale is perhaps the most interesting and exciting goldfish that you will ever find. When I was just a little kid, my first sight instantly captured my attention to this cute goldfish, which looks almost like a golf ball (some are bigger size of course) and swims in an erratic and clumsy looking manner.

Pearlscale can be easily distinguished from other goldfish with its thick, domed scales, which look like pearls. It can be found in normal orange to red color and with or without the headgrowth. There is one particular variant that stands out above the normal pearlscales with their two bubble dome formed at their headgrowth. This fancy variant is known as Hama Nishiki. Their fins are rather short and because of that, it causes the fish to have a hard time controlling their movement especially when coupled with their round body. They can grow up to 8 inches long or more depending on the degree of attention and care given.

pearlscalehama nishiki
Normal Pearlscales and Hama Nishiki

Because of its physical condition, Pearlscales have a hard time swimming and competing with food with other fast swimmers. They are very susceptible to over-feeding and in fact, experienced Pearlscale breeders will tell you how hard it is to care for this fish. It is also very particular especially towards changes in water condition and will not tolerate extreme cold temperatures. Best is, water should be kept above 15degC and water changes are to be performed carefully to avoid fluctuation in parameters in order to protect this delicate goldfish. It is the hardest to maintain and cared for, however the reward and satisfaction is simply great.

Veiltail is perhaps well-known for its graceful tail and dorsal fin which looks like an angel. The long trailing beautiful fin is usually well-developed and can grow up to 6cms long depending on the age and physical condition of the Veiltail goldfish. It has a round body, the scales are metallic or nacreous and they varies in different color either in red, orange or calico. The Veiltails are known to be slow swimmers and are not supposed to be mixed with other types of active goldfish such as the Common Goldfish. This may cause them to have difficulty competing for foods.

As with other goldfish, they require moderate care and attention, and the most important aspect about this type of goldfish is to watch out for fungal growth on the long fins. As such, water must always be clean and best is, check for early sign of fungal development or sickness. Watch out also for excessive nibbing exhibited by other aggressive goldfish or tank mates as this can cause the fins to be easily damaged. If this happens, the only way to overcome the problem is segregate the fish. Today many Veiltails were cross-bred to produce different variants such as the telescope-eyed Veiltail.

veiltail goldfishcalico veiltail
orange veiltail and calico veiltail

American ShubunkinBristol ShubunkinLondon Shubunkin
Shubunkin or best known as Calico Goldfish is easily recognizable by its nacreous scales (metallic and shiny transparent scales) covering its whole body with patches of red, white or silver blue on the background coupled with speckles of black spot. It has long, torpedo-shaped thick body with single tail fin and basically there are 3 different distinct variant, which can be identified by the tail fin.

(top from left to right)
The American Shubunkin has long and forked tailfins
The Bristol Shubunkin has forked tailfins but it ended in lobes
The London Shubunkin has short and round tail fin.

Shubunkin can grow quite large size reaching length of almost 12 inches measured from head to tail and it is considered a hardy variety meaning that it can tolerate moderate changes in water parameters quite well. Because of its size and active nature (fast swimmers), Shubunkin are sometimes kept in ponds together with koi where they can grow and thrive better compared to keeping them in large glass aquariums.

As with all goldfish, Shubunkin readily accepts all types of food and a very hearty diet. Because they eat a lot, usually they will discharge a lot of waste and fouls the water easily. Shubunkins are recommended to be kept with other fast swimmers like the common goldfish with water temperature maintained at about 20 – 24deg Celsius

black moor goldfishBlack Moor is unique in the sense that it can be easily recognized by its solid black velvety color. It is sometimes referred to as the black version of the telescope goldfish because of its protruding eyes. However, it does not protrude as far compared to the other normal telescopes. The fins are generally thick and the body is very stout and deep. This variety of goldfish is considered hardy and will tolerate changes in water temperature easily as long as it is not in the extremes. Thus the goldfish is highly recommended especially for beginners.
Similar like other goldfish varieties, black moor has a very hearty appetite and will gobble up almost anything that you feed to them. They are not selective and picky when it comes to food and will readily accept fish food pellets, flakes, live foods, cucumbers and peas. However, due to their poor eyesight, they usually have difficulty finding their food and as such, they should not be mixed with other goldfish varieties that are fast and agile like common goldfish, shubunkin and fantail.
Black moor are not born black. The young moors are actually colorless and will then slowly turn into bronze before coming to their all-black velvety appearance. Most black moors will retain the color until old age while some will slowly revert to orange color as it grows old. Believe me, I’ve seen before a young black moor raised up to become an orange adult telescope goldfish and many people do not realize that this is actually true.

Pom Pom
pom pom goldfishPom Pom can be easily recognized from other goldfish and unique in the sense that it has a pair of fleshy outgrowth, which is actually enlargement of the nasal septum that closely resembles, well as the name implies a pom pom. When I first saw the fish, I thought it was really strange and bizarre because it never crossed my mind that somehow those were really natural and part of the fish. Although I've never successfully bred a pom pom before, what I actually observed is that the pair of outgrowth were actually not present when the fish was young and it only started to develop as it matures.

Pom pom generally has fins similar to a fantail including body shape and if you were to take away the outgrowth, everything matches exactly like the fantail. Pompom also exist in different colors being chocolate as one of the most common of all (depicted in above pic). Others exist in either orange, white, yellow with either metallic or nacreous scales. As with other common goldfish, pom pom will tolerate living condition at the temperature around 18 to 21degC and have a hefty appetite. It is considered a fast swimmer and thus should not be mixed with other slow swimmers such as  pearlscale,bubble-eyecelestial and tosakin. Since it is one of the goldfish species, if given a chance it can interbreed and the off-spring can actually appear to be normal goldfish without the nasal outgrowth.

ORanda is easily recognizable from its prominent hood, which looks like a lumpy growth protruding out from the skin covering the whole head except for the eyes and mouth. Depending on the nutrition you provide for the fish, the growth should start developing after 8 months of age and sometimes it can even block the eye view making the fish having poor visibility. They are very sensitive to low temperatures and usually temperature range between 18 to 22degCelcius suits best for the fish. Orandas can grow up to very large size often exceeding 7 inches in length. Therefore, care must be taken to ensure that they have enough space for the fish or else risk having stunted fish. Like any other goldfish, Orandas are very greedy and will eat just about anything but it is best that you control their diet by providing a mixture of live and dry fish food to ensure they get all the necessary nutrition.

red cap oranda
Fine specimen of RedCap Oranda

Oranda comes in variety of colors ranging from interesting yellow to red, sometimes chocolate while there is also a white variant with a particular red cap hence the name “red cap oranda”. Though generally a hardy fish, which means it can tolerate mild changes in water conditions, care must be taken to ensure that the water is always clean by having good aquarium filters in order to prevent bacterial infections from developing in their headgrowth. Nevertheless, aquarium maintenance has to be given priority if you intend to ensure that your fish live longer to be your faithful companion.

ryukin goldfishRyukin is a beautiful variety of thegoldfish. It can easily be identified from other types of goldfish by its deep body and with a hump right before the head near the dorsal fin. It has long finnages similar like veiltails and it is commonly found in red, white and orange color. Ryukin has metallic scales and the tail fin is fully forked and divided. It is considered a hardy fish, which can grow up to 8 inches long and is very popular in Japan.
tosakin goldfishThere is another Japanese variety of the Ryukin called the Tosakin that has similar characteristics except that the tail fin opens flat and wide horizontally. If you observe the fish from above, the tail actually spreads out nicely like a butterfly and the beauty is indeed magnificent. However, Tosakin is rather delicate and is very difficult to breed. It swims clumsily and generally requires extra care such as making sure the stream of water is not too turbulent or else it will jeopardize normal tail fin development. And because of its slow swimming nature, some aquarist has resorted to use hand spawning in order to successfully breed the goldfish.

Tosakin is also very sensitive to changes in water quality and some experts actually suggest using slight greenish water containing algae. In order to produce the desired butterfly tail, some aquarist has gone to the extreme by keeping the fish in a small container to limit the growth and length of the body while allowing the tail fin to develop. In Japan, Tosakin is highly prized and sought after and various competitions are organized to select the best fish.

celestial goldfishPerhaps one of the most remarkable, weirdest and astonishing goldfish varieties is the Celestial. Nobody really knows where this type of goldfish originated and whether it is actually a result of selective breeding. Celestial is very much similar in terms of finnage like the other goldfish except that it has a very large telescope eyes turning upwards and a long body. It doesn’t grow very large and another notable trademark is its lack of dorsal fin. But believe it or not, the eyes are actually normal found in the newborn fish and it only starts to turn upwards towards its maturity age at about 6-7 months.

Well, a particular question a person must be curious about this fish is that, with its set of eyes turning upwards, will it have any difficulties in navigation and moving about without bumping into objects? Well as a proud owner who once kept this goldfish as a pet, I did not observe the fish having poor sense of direction and I can tell you that it doesn’t bump into objects. In fact, it swims pretty much well-coordinated without difficulties and my hypothesis is that since they can’t rely on their eyes for navigation, they must have adjusted to the condition by making use of other senses to guide them through. However, it is advisable that in order to help counter its poor eyesight visibility, owners must ensure that Celestial should only be kept with its own kind.
bubble eye goldfishBubble Eye Goldfish is one of the most fragile and hard to care for variety of goldfish that also fits into the exotic group along with orandaranchu,pearlscale ryukin and tosakin. This unique but yet entertaining type of coldwater fish species actually look odds and clumsy in the aquarium and unlike common pet fish they lack a dorsal fin as well. With their blurred vision and somehow poor sense of navigation, these fish were often found stuck attached at the filter inlet causing its eye sac bubble to puncture and getting injured.

Bubble eye goldfish comes in different colors ranging from white, orange, red, calico and even black due to heavy cross-breeding. They should not be confused with another fancy goldfish variety known as the celestial which has a pair of eyes turning upwards. Young bubble eye fish usually looks pretty normal without the sac and as it grows older the bubble eye appearance will start to form and develop by the time it is about 1 year old. At first, it will look something like accumulation of fluids but as it goes on, the sac actually gets bigger and becomes more transparent.

This special type of goldfish should be kept in an aquarium large enough, and those without strong current generated by undergravel filter system or power filters. They are best housed in a tank whereby the water is calm, preferably without sharp object or any aquarium decoration that might cause injury to their eyes. Due to their delicate requirement your bubble eye goldfish should not be mixed with any other fish species, except their own kind because they will have hard time competing for foods and their eye sac will often become the target of nipping behavior exhibited by certain species especially tiger barb, swordtails and guppy.

If for any reason the eye sac becomes injured or punctured due to accidents, usually a treatment of Melafix will help but try to avoid adding any other chemicals or even salt which I believe can make things become even worse. The best solution to deal with this problem is actually to leave the eye sac to grow and heal by itself, and during this period try to ensure that the water is clean and crystal clear so that there won’t be any chance for infection to take place that will further aggravate the injury. Depending on how serious the wound is, somehow it will take anywhere between 2 weeks or so before it gets better.

Bubble eyes goldfish nowadays are rarely sold in aquarium pet stores. Somehow due to their extreme and delicate needs, fish suppliers seem to avoid buying them and offer the fish for sale. Main reason is because if they are placed in a general tank, the owner will often overlook on certain matter and this usually results with the fish having high mortality rate and it is very normal to see them die when being neglected. Buying online is even more difficult because sellers usually will have a hard time to ensure that they will survive the trip and thus your best bet should be, if you ever come across fish farms, I would suggest you just grab the goldfish as your prized specimen.

 Lionhead Goldfish is often confused and wrongly identified as a ranchu as both of them bear very close resemblance to each other. While some considered the lionhead to be less superior in every aspect in particular the shape but however it has its own special feature that makes it stand out from the rest. To make it short, Lionhead is actually bred and developed by the Chinese while the Ranchu is a Japanese variety which is line bred to select the fish with desired characteristics. What line bred means is that the baby fish or off spring will cross back to the parent fish so that the genetic trait will be retained.

Most people will not be able to tell what are the differences comparing between a normal lionhead with a ranchu but upon close observations, you can always tell them apart. The only notable characteristic that sets them different from each other is the arched back development and overall shape of the goldfish. Try to look closely and compare between the two pictures attached below and as you can see, the lionhead’s back is very much flat while the ranchu is more curved and that gives the latter a more rounded appearance. In terms of pricing and value, most people considered the ranchu's shape more pleasing towards their liking and thus, they usually command higher selling price.

Chinese lionhead goldfishJust like the ranchu, both are also hooded fish which means that it has a type of raspberry growth on its head that looks like clumps of jelly all lumped together. Surprisingly both fishes also do not have the dorsal fin unlike the other types of goldfish. In terms of size, ranchu are known to attain bigger belly and developed much bulkier weight while observations on the tail fin will tell you that the lionhead has one which is comparatively longer. Based on these characteristics you should be able to tell them apart with the arched back appearance to support and confirmed your view. In terms of appearance, both goldfish types also have striking color combination, and they can be found in typical orange, red, white and even all black on the whole body. These days, there is also the nacreous form which is basically a variety with speckled colored scales randomly distributed and appearing against a white background. Those are my favorite as they look absolutely cute and adorable.

The lionhead is believed to bring the Chinese good luck when the aquarium which has the fish in it is placed in a strategically right position in the house. As such, it is very common to see a very large aquarium specially made dedicated to this extraordinary and unique fish. Lionhead needs a very large living space to survive and live happily. Normally the minimum tank size for them should measure at least 50 gallons in capacity whereby a normal adult lionhead will actually grow to at least 10 inches in length when proper care is given. Just like all the other fancy goldfish varieties like the celestial,tosakin and bubble-eye, they are considered delicate species which are slow swimmers and most of the time will miss grabbing their foods. This is mainly due to the hooded growth which sometimes can covers their eyes and hinder their sight. When mixed with fast swimmers like normal torpedo-shaped common goldfish and oranda they will always lose out to food competition.

Chinese lionhead is very susceptible to different kinds of disease. One particular sickness that often attack this type of fish is the fluffy white colored fungus growth which can develop on the hood and degrade the tissue on it. Without treatment, it can spread and cause the skin to be engulfed. Fish infected with the disease will often lose appetite not wanting to eat and sometimes, they can still appear in their usual mood until the condition gets worse and starts to spread. Other than this, the flipover condition is also quite common and it is often related to overfeeding and the water quality that they lives in. This is identified to be related to infection affecting their swim bladder and I did wrote an article to discuss in details on the flipover disease and I would suggest you read up about this as it is very prevalent in every type of goldfish.

Aquarium tank in which your goldfish lives in should be best left barren with clear bottom without presence of gravel. Usually just like all the other types of goldfish, they can be very clumsy in their movement and the way they swim about. Aquarium decoration which sharp edges are known to cause injuries when the fish bump into it and there are instances when they might suffer bruises and cuts due to accidental scrapping onto the surface of the object. Plants might not be suitable in a goldfish tank because they are notorious of ripping the leaves apart and eating it when they become hungry (except for when you have water sprite). As such you will need a fast growing plant to cope up with their appetite. Thus based on these facts and argument, it is a matter of sacrificing viewing pleasure without any tank decoration in exchange for the safety of your pet fish. That is for you to decide.

angelfish tankAngelfish is very territorial and as such they require large tank size measuring at least 50 gallons and above if you plan to keep 2 to 4 angelfish. They can grow up to six inches in height and because of their aggressive behavior and incompatible nature with other fish, angelfish should only be kept with its own species. Most aquarist have tried keeping them in large community aquarium but ended up with little success as they will wreck havoc by attacking other smaller species and consuming young fish fry. This is even more evident especially during spawning period.

If properly fed and cared for, angelfish can grow very fast and it will take about a year and a half to reach full-grown size. The growth rate is largely contributed by different factors such as quality of food (whether they have good mix of  nutritious dried flakes and live foods), temperature and space availability. Compared to their cousins in the freshwater tropical areas in the wild Amazon jungles, Angelfish in home aquarium can tolerate wider range of water parameters with temperature ranging from 25 to 29deg Celsius and with pH between 6.3 to 7.0. However, when it comes to water cleanliness, it is very important to maintain perfect water condition because they are very susceptible to contacting ich or white spot disease.

An angelfish tank setup should have an aquarium heater for temperature control and good filter to maintain perfect water quality. I would recommend putting live plants especially those with big leaves such as sword plants for easy maintenance. However before you introduce anything into your angelfish tank, make sure it is properly rinsed and cleaned or else you will risk introducing pesky snails. Plants also help to maintain better water quality and it also helps to ensure that the fish will acclimatize faster in newly setup fish tanks.

When it comes to breeding angelfish, it can be quite tricky because if you don’t have an active breeding pair, they will not spawn. Most of the time, if you are raising 2 to 3 angelfish in a tank, you could somehow ended up with all with the same gender or sometimes they will never pair up due to compatibility. Once you have a successful breeding pair, it is a good idea to separate out the rest either by putting into other separate fish tanks or giving away for adoption. If not, the breeding pair will become aggressive and attack the other fish especially during spawning period. In order to stimulate spawning, you can perform a partial water change in order to shift the water temperature range to become 2 to 3 degrees higher than normal.

Different groups of angelfish can also refer to saltwater angelfish of the family Pomacanthidae.

buy betta fishBetta Fish is relatively easy to care for because they need little space without high requirements with regards to water quality. They are however very particular when it comes to food because they only feed on specialized fish food made only for bettas including insects and bloodworms. Betta fish also has bright coloration with high fins probably the main reason why they are commonly sought after especially the male bettas.

Buying your choice of betta fish can sometimes be tricky because you would want to buy the healthiest one and this can be observed and selected based on their coloration. Usually the one with the brightest and most intense color should represent the healthiest fish. Be careful to observe in detail because some betta may have fungal infection and this is not easily visible due to the dark coloration on their body, so it would be wise to take your time to check out carefully before making your purchase.

Observe also on the overall surface of the body to see whether there are bumps or abnormal curve and this can be done by viewing either from the front or back portion of the fish. By right, the body should be smooth without any raised scales and any scars should be easily visible from there. Watch out for those betta fish sold by pet stores, which have already been injured due to fighting. Another thing, which you should take note is that, betta fish is very prone to dropsy, a fish disease which appears like a small bump or swelling in the abdominal region of the fish and is usually fatal.

Another guide to use when selecting your betta fish is to look at the fins. Normally, without any provocation, the fins should be fully wide open and spread out even as it stays idle. There must not be any holes or torn fins which should be a sign of injury caused by nibbling or fighting with other fish. Look out for presence of white spots, which could be fish ich and observe carefully towards the end tail of the fin, to see whether the fin is thinning or loosely attached in strands. This could be sign of fin rot taking place whereby the water quality is deteriorating.

Finally the last thing to look out for is the behavior of the fish. Betta is a very aggressive and considered a solitary fish. That means no other fish should be placed together in the same confinement even with other betta fish as well (except during breeding). Usually an active betta fish should be very alert and starts to move and spreading further the fins as you move closer. If there are other betta fish bowl beside (usually covered on the sides), you can try to remove the cardboard separator or divider to observe the response with the other neighboring fish

Peaceful Betta ImbellisBetta imbellis, a species belonging to the betta fish family is also famous among fish hobbyist known as the type of betta fish that can coexist and live peacefully with its own kind without engaging in a fight. Because of its nature, the fish is also sometimes referred to aspeaceful betta. Unlike its cousin,Bettasplenden which will get involved in a duel that eventually leads to death, B. imbellis will even tolerate presence of other fish unless it is heavily provoked or during the period when it is defending its bubble nest territory. Therefore,peaceful betta is also classified under the group of fish known as community species.

Betta imbellis look closely similar and resembles its betta cousin and it is really difficult to distinguish between those two. Other than the community behavior, betta imbellis is also comparably smaller in size often reaching only maximum about 5cm in length. In terms of body coloration, the fish is also less attractive with fewer color combination that mostly confined to green, grey and black with patches of pale red plus blue. Sometimes even among experienced fish breeder, Betta imbellis can often be wrongly identified and mistaken to be part of the other group of fish.

Both species also share the same geographical origins that mostly belong to parts of peninsular Malaysia, Thailand and Sumatra in Indonesia. They are commonly found in ditches located at paddy fields with brownish murky waters. Since betta fish is a labyrinth species, they will not have any problem breathing in an oxygen-deprived environment, as they actually have lungs to enable them to take in normal air just like human does. The male and female peaceful betta can also be easily identified because the females will have much shorter fins.

Keeping and caring for this species should be a breeze even for novice fish hobbyist since they will adapt to almost every living condition that you keep them in. They can be placed in bottles but for better aesthetic, I would suggest keeping them in a unique fish bowl that will overall brings out its true coloration. If you have intention to create a community aquarium, then I would suggest keeping the betta fish (about 5 of them in a group) combined together with a shoal of neon tetra, some hatchet fish to fill the top area, and all these would certainly create a splendid aquarium view.

Ever wondered how you can make things different and exciting with your pet fish hobby? Try out with keeping your betta in unique fish bowls.

catfish speciesCatfish is considered one of the most diverse groups of fish and they can exist either as saltwater fish living near coastal areas or as freshwater tropical fish species. Unlike common fish, they do not have scales on their body, some are covered with bony plates while others have poisonous spines on their body. All of them have one common feature, which is presence of sensory barbels around the mouth region, used to seek out food and guide their way around the environment.

Catfish also do not resemble in terms of appearance on what a common fish should look like. With more than 2000 species known to date, they are most popular and widely known among fishkeepers as scavenger for leftover food in the community aquarium. Catfish can also grow very big with size ranging from a few centimeters up to more than two meters in length. They feeding behavior is usually after the aquarium lights are out and their diet varies considerably between different species. Let’s look at some of the most common freshwater catfish families.

Mochokidae (upside-down catfish) – This family of African catfish spends most their time upside-down near the surface although there are some within the family that tends to be bottom-dwellers. They are known to have attractive markings on their body and usually they grow up to moderate size from 7-35 centimeters.

Doradidae (talking catfish)
This type of catfish is unique in the sense that they have the ability to produce sounds using the pectoral fins or by vibrating their swim bladder. They originated from South America and their body is fully armored. The size can range between 7 to more than 75 centimeters in length and usually the smaller sized species is suited for community aquarium.

It is quite impossible to list each and every one of them here and I would suggest a good reference such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catfish. With further research, you will be amazed with the number of diverse species that comes up and I’m sure as an aquarist, at any point, you will find that Catfish will make interesting aquarium pets.

clown loachClown loach is a very friendly and active fish, which are suitable to be kept in community aquarium together with a school of five or more larger fish, complete with plantsrocks and driftwood for them to hide. They usually grow up to 6 inches in length when kept in captivity and because of their active nature, they will require large aquarium size measuring at least 36” in length (best is 40 gallon) to swim around. Unlike their cousins found in the wild, clown loach in home aquarium can be very difficult to spawn because during their mating season, they can become aggressive and eat up smaller fish. They also gobble their own eggs as well and therefore, one must be prepared to move the parents away to another aquarium in order to ensure high survival of the fish fry.

Clown loach is easily identified by its multiple orange and thick vertical black bands covering the body, one at the eye region, another at middle body and another one close to the tail fin. They are unique in the sense that they also have four pairs of barbells located at the front jaw. The usual activity includes digging up sands and uprooting plants and is notorious for eating up soft leaves aquarium plants. Clown loach can be very sensitive at times especially when the water quality is poor as they will easily get shocked and develop ich or white spot disease.

Finally, when it comes to food, they are not really that picky and will accept all types of dry fish food with an occasional mix of live foods like shrimps and bloodworms. They also have a very huge appetite and experts even mention feeding them at least 4 - 5 times a day. However, I do not recommend such feeding frenzy because it will be hard to maintain good water quality and usually uneaten foods will cause proliferation of bacteria leading to disease.
aquarium fish species discusDiscus Fish is the native of the Amazon river and they thrive in hard water between 7 to 10dGH with slightly acidic environment. They are very shy and docile fish, which are best kept with their own species in an aquarium tank and a recommended setup should have a bare bottom so that it is easier later part to breed them. Today, most home aquarium discus is no longer wild variant but instead, they are tank bred to produce different species with desirable characteristic. Some of the common species are Red PhoenixBlue Turquoise, and Pigeon Blood.

Discus is very particular about the surrounding water. Not only must it be soft, but the temperature should also be higher close to 30degC and that is probably another reason why other tropical fish cannot be mixed with them in a community tank. This requirement is very important and if not met, the fish will become susceptible to disease especially ich and you will notice they will start to have lower appetite.

Discus grows very fast provided that they are fed with nutritious live foods and quality fish food. They are especially fond of bloodworms and they will reach full-grown size and body thickness by the time they are 9 months old. Once they reach that age, they will start to find partners and form a pair, hanging out together. That is the time, that you should isolate the rest of the discus or you can choose to leave the mating pair alone in the current aquarium tank.

Female discus usually lay her eggs sticking onto aquarium side surface and the male will release the sperm to fertilize it. In a matter of 48 hours, the eggs will hatch and the fry will remain on the same spot clinging to the surface for another 12 hours before the parents will start to move them to another location to hide them. In about 1 week, the fry will become free swimming and will start to feed off the slime coat on their parents’ body. It will be another 3 weeks before they become independent. Don’t be surprised if there’s hiccup and the whole process does not go smoothly as it was meant to be because young discus pairs usually failed in their first few attempts.

So far, based on my own experience, keeping the fish in a 30-gallon tank somehow is not suitable because what I noticed is that somehow the tank size will limit the growth of the discus fish and they will not become fully developed. As such my recommendation is definitely 50-gallon fish tank minimum to ensure they thrive well. Needless for me to say that, other that having best aquarium size, maintenance especially regular water changes is also a top priority.
neon blue dwarf gouramiIf you own a community aquarium and are looking for a middle dweller species with striking blue colors, then the Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami should be the perfect choice. Unlike normal gouramis, which originally appears as pale silver shades, this type of fish species will exhibit extremely bright colors especially when they are ready to spawn. The fish can grow up to 3 inches in length and this is one of the main factors you should consider if you have intention to setup a single species tank or will just let them to thrive in your community aquarium. Being a generally peaceful and non-aggressive tank mates, gouramis including their cousins of honey and gold variation should find themselves easily adapt to the natural environment provided that there is large enough living space (minimum 55 gallon tank) with dense vegetation covered by live plants.

Other reasons why this fish make suitable community tank mates is because they will never compete for oxygen with other species. Similar like betta fish, blue dwarf gouramis possess a labyrinth organ, which allows them to breathe oxygen directly from the air and thus no competition for this precious resource with your other fish. In fact, they will thrive successfully in coexistence especially with presence of swordtailssilver dollarscatfish and angelfish. However, based on my own experience, I would avoid leaving them together with neon tetra and barbs because for some unspecified reasons, my gourami seems to like to pick on this tiny fish and even injuring some of them. In fact for even smaller fish fry, they will even make a good meal out of it. Certain people decided to keep gourami in community tank full ofguppy for the purpose of preventing over-population.

Another important consideration that you might want to take note is that gouramis can become territorial during spawning and the male female pair should be best removed into another separate tank away from the community aquarium for this to take place. This is to avoid unnecessary situation whereby the male gourami will attack other fish species even including female gouramis as well which invade their breeding territory. Therefore, once you notice the fish start courting each other, the pair must be removed. It is not advisable to get two male gouramis and put them together in your community tank because they will fight with each other and injure themselves. The best combination is to get one male with two females and remove the pair to a separate tank for the purpose of spawning.

A quick glance on a snake-like fish wriggling at the bottom of the aquarium will immediately relate our thoughts to “Eels” as they are the only fish known to exist with the shape of elongated body. But however, little do we realize that there are actually various types of species belonging to different fish family in existence and the article here is meant to share the information and find out about this extraordinary creature.

Eels belong to a large, diverse group of fishes classified under the order Anguilliformes. There are few hundreds species among the same family, some of which survives in freshwater and brackish water conditions while there are others which are saltwater. Because of their diversity, identifying and discussing each and every one of them is almost impossible and basically to make it short, there are those which are considered normal true eels but there are also some which are not eels at all although they actually look almost the same. For our discussion here, we will exclude kuhli loaches as they are not related or part of the eel family at all. Perhaps some of the most popular which are commonly heard that arouses the interest of aquarist are the American Eel and Moray eel which we shall go into details here.

American Eels (Anguilla rostrata)
This is one of the most fascinating creature in terms of its breeding behavior and they are popular among anglers as these eels are often caught and consumed as delicacies at dinner tables. The fish show some interesting life cycle as the adult eels undergo different stages and observe changes in its physical appearance from a glass like transparent eel to become a yellow adult fish. The sexually mature eels which can be found living in brackish swamps up to freshwater streams and rivers will travel to deep sea and ocean in order to spawn and produce young fry. After spawning, the parents will die at the sea and for the young eels, once they reach a certain maturity age, they will again migrate from the deep sea where they were born, to return to the places from where their parents originate.

american eelSome of the American eels are also kept in home aquariums as pets. With its ability to grow up to 5 feet in length, one should never take things for granted and confine them to a small tank. The minimum aquarium capacity to keep the fish that size should be at least 100 gallons and above and anything below that will subject your pets to harsh and cramp living condition. In captivity, your pets will readily accept any kind of foods from worms, feeder fish and even carnivorous pellets. They can be kept together with other larger peaceful aquarium tank mates but putting them in community tank will ended up having all the smaller fish getting eaten up. One word of caution however, try to make sure that there is no open gap present on top of your tank and it should be well covered with hood or else, these eels are known to be good jumpers. The eels are also enjoyed as exotic delicacies in Asian restaurants and widely consumed for its healing properties. As such, sometimes you can actually find them being reared in large-scale fish farms and they form part of the aquaculture industry that contribute economic value in certain countries.

Moray Eels (Gymnothorax)
zebra moray eelMoray eels are saltwater marine species which are commonly found hiding in caves made up of live rocksor reefs structure in tropical regions. Being a timid and sometimes described as odd-looking creature, they often catch unsuspecting divers unaware of their presence. Depending on species some of these eels can be quite friendly but there are some which can turn aggressive, even though they are not provoked. Most of them get too big to be kept in home aquariums with some reaching at least 10 feet overall, but there are also smaller specimen like the Snowflake Eels measuring only about 3 to 4 feet. Others which are also commonly known are the Dragon MorayZebra Moray (depicted in the above picture) and Gray Moray and attempts to keep them in home aquariums did not turn into much success and these are best left to the experts in large public aquariums.

saltwater snowflake eel fishFor now, the only moray eels that are successfully kept in home fish tank are snowflake eel. Being a smaller species of the generally big-sized family members, they are often described as a peaceful and responsive creature that can identify the owner who feeds them. Newly introduced snowflake often show problems related to being lethargic and will often reject foods offered to them but as time goes by they will start to adjust and acclimatize to their new environment. Make sure that you provide the right type of diet as these creatures will only accept crustaceans such as crabs, krill, shrimps and prawns.

Other types of Eels-like creature but not true eels (these are often thought to be part of the eel family)

Electric Eels (Gymnotidae)
electric eelThis is perhaps one of the famous fish which generates the most attention both among the circle of hobbyists and scientists alike. They are not actually true eel but rather part of the catfish family. As what the name implies, the species is actually capable of generating it own electricity coming from within its body to stun and paralyze its prey or when under condition that it feels threatened or startled. And when I say electricity, what I mean are exactly the live electricity which powers our light bulbs and homes. Because of its nature, this type of fish is not suitable to be kept in home fish tank, not only on the concerns on how to maintain and keep them alive but their mere presence and how you intend the handle fish will pose serious dangers both to yourself or towards anybody unsuspecting of its true capability.

Electric eels are freshwater species and a normal, full-grown adult fish can actually attain very large size often reaching at least 5 feet in length. A word of caution though, a fish that large is enough to stun and demobilize a horse causing temporarily paralysis, thus you can imagine what the effect would be like if you are not careful and ended up being a victim.

Hagfish with some call it Slimy or Blind Eel (Myxiniformes)
The hagfish which is a saltwater species is often considered to be an ugly fish due to its mouth region that is surrounded by pairs of barbels. Some even describe their personal experience when encountering the fish as being gross because of the amount of slime that it produces which is basically a defensive mechanism to discourage predators from eating it and then allowing it to escape from the clutches of its captors. However, certain species of the fish are still enjoyed and served as delicacies.

Spiny Eels
PeacockTire Track and Fire eels are among the few examples belonging to this group. Again because of what they look like with their long cylindrical body, these eels-like creatures are often thought to originate from the eel family. The fire eel for example is native to the South East Asian countries in particular Vietnam and Thailand and they are known to be kept in large tanks with the presence of bigger size tank mates as their companion. They are brightly colored and their favorite foods basically comprises of crustaceans and worms.
guppy fishGuppy is perhaps the easiest tocare for and is considered one of the hardiest fish for any freshwater aquarium. They are always active with the males courting the females all the time and they will breed in large numbers often overrun the whole aquarium. Guppy will tolerate different range of aquarium temperatures and generally they are not sensitive to changes in water quality with regards to buildup of nitrite and nitrate. And because of this, they are often used as starter fish for newly established community aquarium so that the aquarium waters are fully cycled before other types of fish are added in.

Guppies can be easily distinguished from other fish species by their long trailing and well-spread colorful tails and they are often found with combination of red, green and blue color mix that covers the body and fins. However, these features only exist in the male species while for the females, they appear as dull grey color and the overall shape is not as attractive as the male fish. Another obvious difference is that the size of the male fish only reaches 2-3 inches in length excluding the tail while the female guppies can grow up to 5 inches long.

Guppies are not picky when it comes to food. However, in order to ensure healthy and lively fish, you should introduce a mix of live foodsplus dried fish flakes as added nutrition. They are considered a peaceful fish which are not aggressive except towards their own species especially when you have males that outnumbered the females going against the 1:3 male to female ratio. In community aquarium, they are often mixed with other smaller fish such as mollies, platies and danios.

The ideal water chemistry needed to successfully raise the fish involves pH between 7.2-8.5 and the temperature range can be in the region of 18-25degC. It is always a good idea to source for large aquarium size to accommodate the fish and usually a 20-gallon tank is more than enough to house 4-5 guppies as a start. Having different types of live aquarium plants is also recommended for a guppy tank setup. Usually the plants will act not only as hiding spot for newborn fish fry but will also enhance the water quality for the growth of guppies.

If you are looking for top dwellers to fill your community aquarium, then Hatchet Fish should make a great addition. Better known as the flying fish, the fish actually has the capability to leap out of water when they are frightened or threatened by other tank mates. Therefore it is important that you have a hood or cover in place so that the fish doesn’t leap out of the aquarium.

silver hatchet fishmarbled hatchet fish
Silver Hatchet Fish and Marbled Hatchet Fish
Caring and feeding for your hatchet fish should be fairly simple. First of all, they need a good hiding spot and thus heavily plant tankshould be a perfect setup. The pH of the water should be maintained close to neutral value and generally they prefer soft water (around 4-8 dGH) particularly the silver hatchet fish and the marbled hatchet fish. Since they are top dwellers and remain at that level most of the time, it is a good idea to get floating fish pellet so that they will likely find the food. Besides that, you can also supplement with some live foods like mosquito larvae or small insects floating on top of the water.

Hatchet fish is known for its peaceful nature, which is why it is one of the best additions to any community tank besides the neon fish. Hatchet Fish usually grows up to maximum 4cm in length size depending on different species with the marbled hatchet fish measuring only half the size of a silver hatchet. Hatchet fish will form shoals when swimming around the tank and should be kept in a group of at least 3 so that they won’t easily get frightened. Hatchet fish is also commonly confused between different species because they look more or less the same except for the spots and marking on their body.

What makes this group of fish unique and loved by hobbyist is that, it is known for its odd shape not normally seen in other types of aquarium fish. According to scientific study, the area whereby the odd shape forms is actually made up of muscles which allow the fish to dash in high speed allowing them to leap out of water. However, like any other fish, hatchet is very susceptible to contract ich or white spot disease and as such maintaining clean water quality is your top priority.

koi fishKoi Fish or better known asnishikigoi in Japanese is one of the most popular and favorite pond fish among pet enthusiast. The fish is known for its bright and brilliant coloration combined with different patterns and markings. Koi generally requires lowmaintenance and is easy to take care of provided that the pond is equipped with high-end filtration system. Koi is also known to live very long (up to 20 years) and there are some who claim that they can live up to decades although there is no clear evidence to substantiate the fact.

Koi are basically meant to be judged and viewed from the above as the fish swims in the pond. They are highly appreciated for their graceful movement around the water and they can even recognize the owner who feeds them. Their feeding and breeding characteristicsare generally more or less similar to the goldfish. One obvious characteristic is of course, they are not picky when it comes to food.

Koi are omnivorous fish which means that they will eat both meaty (chicken liver, chopped fish) and vegetable-based food (peas, lettuce) . There are some owners who even go up to the extent to buy and feed them with high quality fish pellets specially formulated to bring out the colors. If they are properly cared for, koi can grow very fast and reaching large size up to at least 20 - 25 inches long.

The Koi fish classification is quite complex and is mainly developed and used by the Japanese. They are grouped according to differentmajor varieties based on a number of features such as color combination, patterns, scale types and arrangement. For example, the kohaku can be easily identified with presence of red spots on a white body background. Further to that, these major varieties can be further divided and grouped into different sub-varieties based on other characteristics.

How to select and buy a mature Koi Fish
First thing first, decide on which variety you are going to purchase. Of course the choice that you make must be within the budget. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the price range because I’ve not updated myself on the price list for quite some time now. Next ask yourself some of these basic questions.

Is the fish perfectly well-balanced when swimming in the water? A good specimen should not be tilting to one side or look off balance. Next, Look at their movement. Is there any jerk and is the movement smooth as they move across the water? Sometimes depending on how you convince the seller, you can even request to scoop up the fish and check for the scale deformities. All these require skills that can only be learned through years of observation and from experience.

1>Asagi Magoi is basically a modern day black colored koi carp known for its trademark bluish reticulated scale pattern combined with some red hi appearing on its side and belly otherwise known as Hi Asagi. They are special in their very own way classified into different group away from the typical showa as they command the respect, loyalty and fast becoming one of favorites among koi collectors. There are several different types and variety of the fish and basically what sets them apart from each other is the combination of hi and how it extends beyond the body region. Basically a well developed specimen must have its head region completely white without a speckle of hi or dots and there must be a clear borderline separating the head and the reticulated net-like scales.

asagi shusui koi fishAsagi is often judged based on its symmetrical appearance whereby the hi (red patch) development and distribution on both sides of its body must be well balanced. The red color is not the one similar like you would see appearing on a kohaku but rather it appears somehow pale orangey. Handling an asagi and housing them in the pond bears some critical aspect that needs to be taken into consideration because if let’s say the scales are lost, this will introduce defect on the fish, hence loosing its value. Some other common faults seen on an asagi is the appearance of random hi among its bluish black colored scales. For the koi fish to be considered a high standard quality grade, the color of the scales must remain true blue color, else slight fading that turns it into gray will mean significant reduction in the overall value of the specimen.

Shusui which means “autumn water” in Japanese language is also akoi carp variety that closely connects to the asagi. They are basicallyDoitsu Asagi meaning that the koi have no scales except for two blue colored lines running parallel from head to tail appearing on each side of the dorsal region. Similarly like the asagi, the head must be clear white without presence of any visible marking while the red hi distribution should cover the lower region of its body. There are generally two different types of shusui identified by hobbyist, one considered the more common which is the Hi Shusui and another is the Ki Shusui which is basically a yellow colored variety of the same koi fish. Apart from these two, there are also several forms of the fish classified under its own group normally based on its color pattern and distribution, notably the Sanke Shusui and the Showa Shusui.

My experience seeing the real specimen was during the local club organized koi competition whereby I got the chance to see two of the finest fish being displayed. To the owner showing off his pet was indeed a proud moment and to every one of us who are present there, we consider ourselves lucky to be able to witness and see for ourselves the fish and I could hear the praises coming from all the participants who attended the event. Of course, we can’t deny the fact that the koi was quite rare at the place where I came from as it have yet to gather true followings and remain largely unknown in the local scene. Somehow I believe for true exposure and to really study the fish would require one to really travel to Japan, the birthplace of koi and witness how they actually breed and raise the fish. Of course, we consider some of the local hobbyist who are able to afford to travel there to gather knowledge and maybe bought along a few specimens are so far the ones most fortunate.

The unpredictable nature on the pattern and color changes in koi is what makes the Japanese carp rearing hobby interesting. In fact, apart from the appearance itself, the graceful movement of the fish as it swims around combined with the different varieties that can be produced from cross breeding will keep you entertained all the time. Breeding the fish is also full of surprises because sometimes when you are aiming to get a Sanke, it might turn out that as the fish matures and the red color patch disappears you will instead ended up getting a Bekko.

The article here will talk about how to differentiate and identify a Bekko because it is by far one of the most under appreciated koi that is often left out by hobbyist. Most novices will find it difficult trying to make out which one is a Bekko but with the guide here, it will try to explain and hopeful one will never get lost. First of all, the koi is different from the other big 3 koi varieties, aptly known as “Go Sanke” that is made up of the Kohaku, Sanke and Showa. To put it in layman’s term a Bekko is actually a solid white, red or yellow colored koi with small patches of black markings, often referred to as “tortoise configuration”. Basically for a koi to qualify in this group, it must not have combination of more than 3 colors which means that if a fish is solid white with the black marking, then it must not have any red patch present at all on any parts of the body. Similarly the same rule applies for a solid red Bekko which should have only the red and black pattern arrangement. As mentioned earlier, one of the unique trademarks of Bekko is that the blotch should be very sparse and a good specimen to qualify in competitions must have the head region completely clear of any black color marking and this is the standard that applies to all the koi fish that falls into this group.

Bekko Utsuri Showa KoiThis Japanese carp variety can also be sometimes easily confused with a Showa because people might think that with the appearance of white, black and some red patch, it should resemble a Bekko. However, this is incorrect because if you observe carefully, the Showa black color marking is far more intense with wider patch size while for Bekko, the black blotch is very sparse. Furthermore, as long as it comprises of 3 different colors the fish can never be a Bekko. At times, people might also mistakenly identify a Sanke to be similar but however, as mentioned earlier with the color appearance, again this will be out of the question. For a better visualization on what is done to try to explain here, let’s look at the picture above. On your far left, what you can see is actually an Utsuri. Reason is because the formation of black patches is very commanding. Thus experienced Japanese koi hobbyist will tell you that this is a black color fish with white marking. The one located in the middle is a Bekko but however, this is not a fine specimen as you can see that it has a yellowish head which is a common fault among all fish that falls into this variety. In fact, a highly prized Bekko should appear fully solid satin white and not the creamy white. Furthermore, the black color patches seem to spread closer to the head region and it is very wide. The one located far left is a Showa with all 3 different color combination but if you take out the red patch, it will become an Utsuri.

Finally, there are 3 types or sub-group of Bekko in which they are further divided into different categories. The most common is theShiro Bekko which is a completely white colored koi with the presence of black marking as depicted in the picture above. The Aka Bekko (red with black) is also famous but however, it is quite difficult to come across one these days while the Ki Bekko is the rarest because it is supposed to be a yellow koi with the black speckle. As you see, keeping koi while may sound simple, in actual fact if you analyze every aspect up to the appreciation and defining which one belongs to which group, you will be amazed with so many things to learn and understand. Thus some would actually call and define the hobby as a work of art which requires perfection.

How to ensure your Chagoi attain Maximum Size

kin-gin-rin chagoiChagoi is distinguishable from the other types of koi based on its larger than normal overweight-looking size while another feature that sets them apart is the coloration in which they often appears in fading copper brown with some displaying slightly pale red. They are grouped under the Kawarimono koi classification or judging standards which is basically a special fish family that consists of all the non-metallic koi with plain colors (which also includes the Benigoi varieties).

There are basically different sub-divisions in which the chagoi can be further classified into their own category. One of it and fast becoming popular is the Kin-Gin-Rin Chagoi(as seen in the insert picture to your right) known for its sparkling coat of scales which will shine and give the fish silky looking appearance. However, one should not confuse the fish with the metallic koi groupings as they are special in their own attributes not shared with each other. They are also famous and popular for their friendly nature which likes to mingle and swim around close to the owner and they are often added to calm a pond full of easily frightened koi. Once you have added them, in about a week, you will notice that the other fish will start to follow the footsteps of the chagoi and will be more open to hand feed from your palm.

The koi are mostly sold as a young juvenile fish as most people prefer to get them while they are at their growing stage. Reason is simple as it would be more fun watching them putting on their weight as they develop. Most koi lovers actually bought them not because of the coloration or even their friendly nature but based on the factor that they want to develop their pets into giant-sized fish and of course the bigger the better. Because of them fitting into this category, chagoi is always the preferred choice when size is your main consideration. They are also one of the special groups displaying the fastest growth rate with the female chagoi outpacing the males in terms of overall weight. Usually you will notice the females will put on a plump-looking appearance on the belly especially when they are full of eggs.

With that in mind, needs for high protein diet with extra supplement such as those found in Hikari or Dainichi koi foods is highly recommended. Chagoi kept in outdoor ponds are usually bigger in comparison, most probably because of the presence of natural sunlight that they are getting which helps to keep them stay healthy. From time to time, you can also consider providing your pets with algae flakes which they will surely enjoy. Another basic rules when it comes to fish keeping is that always ensure that water quality is clean all the time with the help of filter system and if you can afford it, get the largest pond which you can afford to buy. If everything goes on fine, a typical chagoi can add over an inch every month to their length and soon even your friends will be amazed with the achievement that you’ve made caring for your favorite fish.
yellow HariwakeHariwake is a variety of the Japanese carp which you get when you cross between different groups of the Ogon, originally a single-colored metallic koi, then mixed and interbreed to produce the combination of yellow-gold or orange pattern marking seen against platinum base backdrop, a feature that defines the Hariwake. They are much appreciated due to their unique metallic shining appearance that never fails to impress even the die-hard koi collectors who often aims for perfection.

There are different types of koi classified under the Hariwake group; most common are the DoitsuMatsuba and Yamabuki. Just likegoldfish varieties, all of them have a special unique attribute that defines each and every one of the fish. You can actually make out the difference by evaluating the special color mix and pattern distribution, scale shading especially with the metallic shining types and also they are judged based on their body shape with features like the fin and caudal peduncle development. Over the years, there are constantly new breeds and varieties of Hariwake produced, that put on a unique appearance not shared by the other fish and usually a fine, newly developed specimen are sold at higher price.

Care requirements for Hariwake is basically the same as with the other Japanese carp as they need high nutritional content in their diet to develop their shining coloration and armor-like scale appearance. The fish when they are young will often look like acommon koi and even the most experienced hobbyist sometimes failed to identify them and instead classify the fish as belonging to different categories. This problem on identification is often made complicated due to the fact that all types of koi including the Hariwake can always change color easily as they grow and transform throughout the years until they mature into adulthood. Some of these fish although will look almost just the same but upon close observations, you can actually made out those unique features that set them apart.

Developing a champion fish often requires a lot commitment and that is especially true if you want your Hariwake to become among the best. Usually in order to make sure that they achieve full size development, one must ensure that the water quality is top notch. Most often you can find some hobbyist leaving the pond water to be slightly greenish (with some algae growth) so that the water will have natural microorganism growing in it that serves as extra supplement for your Koi. Any sign of disease seen on your pet must be treated immediately and usually loss of coloration, reduced activity and unwillingness to accept foods are signs that spread of disease is imminent and has started to take place. If you can afford it, constant addition of vitamin supplement like those naturally found in koi pellets such as dainichi and hikari brands are known to promote excellent growth, color development and overall act as disease prevention.

Developing Champion Showa Koi

Champion Showa KoiShowa is actually another koi variety that shares close resemblance with unique color features that make it look like a Sanke. It has 3 primary colors which are red, white and black and unlike Sanke the only difference is that the black color patch (Sumi) is more profound and appears in bigger blotch size. The fish can be obtained from pure bred between a pair of Showa but it will not necessarily mean that all the off-spring produced will be similar to their parents because the color mix might differ and change to become another variety. Some koi breeders prefer to cross-breed aKohaku with a Sanke and while there are different opinions with another group which thinks that pure bred method is far more superior, however one thing for sure is that whichever method is selected, they still can be used to produce quality Showa variety.

The koi fish in this group is highly sought after by hobbyist especially the Hi type because their colors are the most distinctive and attractive compared to the others. Most of the fish are judged and valued based on their colors, size and appearance. The colors must be bright and intense while in terms of size, fish that develops a strong body mass buildup can easily command a selling price that amounts to few thousands. Most people prefer to buy juvenile Showa to raise them to become adult fish because not only price is a factor but it is more fun watching them grow and develop. However one major setback is that most hobbyist learned and found out that most of these fish can actually change coloration as they develop. Some can actually lose the black coloration while others gain and the pattern arrangement will be different when they grow older. Among the most treasured is the Inazuma breed which has the lightning bolt pattern zigzagging across its body.

Feeding your pet Showa with the right food is very important because during their early development stage, an uneven diet can hinder their proper growth. Vitamins are often regularly fed to the fish and tanning under sunlight is needed to bring out the colors. Some people actually go to the extent of purchasing a special glowing light to shine towards the pond but I feel that using natural sunlight is usually sufficient in most cases. Of course the Japanese will never reveal to you their secrets of developing a champion Showa, so every method that we use is purely based on trial and error learned though observation. Don’t worry about development of algae because some green water quality is actually good for the fish in the long run. (However, if green water starts to become a problem due to the exposure of sunlight, willow method for algae control can be used.)

Judging a Showa and selecting the best koi in show competitions can sometimes turn out to be very tricky because there are certain standards set upon by the panel of judges. Other than visible defects and body shape appearance, the overall pattern arrangement will also determine whether the fish qualifies for the trophy which means that the color patch must balance out each other on both sides of the body. Other considerations include first impression seen upon when you view the fish and all these can sometimes make a whole lot of difference.
perfect utsurimono koiWith the different variety present, identifying a particular Koi is indeed a challenging task. Knowing the difference between one breed compared to the other, is a very interesting subject to study as it is a form of art that requires deep understanding on how the classification and whole system comes together. Without much experience, most people would say it is a very boring and difficult thing to deal with but for a serious hobbyist, they will simply tell you that it is indeed fun to learn about the fish and what makes up a single class of koi. This part of the article will talk about how to define and gather the fish all into the same group.

If you think that trying to make out the difference between a Sankeand Showa koi would be demanding, wait until you come across theBekko and Utsurimono as they are even more easily confused. Among all the other koi class varieties, sometimes they might actually look more or less the same unless you place close observation. To make things simple and easy to understand, a Bekko is basically defined as a white koi fish with black marking while Utsurimono, the other way round is a black fish with either white, red or yellow marking present on its body but not a combination of black plus with the other colors. What all these basically translate to is that the base color will be the one most profound and used as a guideline to identify the fish while the rest of the colors are only to complement the major ones.

Let’s look at the Utsurimono which we shall focus and discuss further in details. The koi as explained earlier is the black carp with combined white, red or yellow. There are 3 possible color combinations here whereby the black with white is naturally called Shiro Utsuri and is the most popular among all while the black with red is called Hi Utsuri, simply means Red Utsuri. The last one called Ki Utsuri is the black fish with yellow patch and coincidentally is one of the rarest and hardly seen even among the Japanese breeders. Shiro is the favorite among all hobbyists due to its perfect color design. Other than bearing a close resemblance to a Showa (provided that you’ve taken out the red patch), the quality of the fish is also judged based on the degree and whiteness of the white color. A high quality type should be a solid snow while a lesser grade fish are those that has the white appear slightly yellowish. The sumi (black) on the other hand must be solid dark and not the type of chocolate brown which is considered less desirable. A good example would be as depicted in the picture on your top left which shows a high quality Shiro Utsuri.

All types of Utsurimono are also appreciated based on the presence of motoguro. The only other koi variety that has this special trademark is the Showa. Basically a motoguro is solid stretch of sumi (black) that appears on the pectoral fins and it starts from the joint close to the body and then extending outwards. Unlike the other fish, motoguro can never be found because if you compare a sanke and observing the pectoral fin, you will find and realize that the black color marking only appears as thin stripes. Thus, don’t be surprised that some hobbyist actually define and identify a true Utsurimono based on the presence of motoguro. For a better visualization, just take a moment to view the set of picture shown below. You will see that on your left is actually a normal Sanke fin while on the right is the fin from an Utsurimono which has the motoguro.

finnage pattern(From the picture above, sanke pectoral fin black marking is very sparse while for the motoguro present in utsurimono, the pattern is very dense.)

Utsurimono and in particular Shiro Utruri is also classified and grouped according to the front pattern marking appearing on its head. Some are really unique and special in its own way judging by how the pattern actually forms and develops to resemble certain objects. For instance, one of the most highly sought after among the Shiro Utsuri is the Menware pattern which resembles a lighting strike pattern which is really cool.

-----Kuhli Loach is a popular small bottom-dwelling aquarium fish which looks like an eel with its thin elongated body. It belongs to the large and diverse group of loaches family that includes the clown loach, pygmy chain loach and also the orange-finned loach. Kuhli just like some of its eel-like cousin loves to dig deep into the aquarium gravel substrate and hid itself away from your attention.

types of different black and striped kuhli loachThere are basically two different types of kuhli loaches which you can find sold in aquarium stores. The most common is the black and grayish type while there is also thestriped kuhli loach. Both of them are community species which will tolerate and live peacefully among each other and also together with the othertropical aquarium fish. They will not cause any problems with the other tank mates when it comes to competition of foods and living spaces but in fact, because of their friendly nature, they will often become target of bullying by the other bigger fish. Adult mature kuhli loach will only grow up to 3 inches in length and those younger smaller ones were often mistaken as food by the larger fish like discus and gourami will often make a meal out of them. Because of this, the fish are best kept in a group of 5 or more and because they exist in large number, this will lessen the chances for them to become subject of bullying by the other fish.

Kuhli loach will take any food given to them and they love constant feed of live foods such as tubifex and bloodworms. If those are not available, you can also consider using sinking dried fish flakes as well and your pets will readily accept them. One word of caution however, if you have a community of freshwater shrimps or snails, you might want to avoid having your kuhli loaches in there, because they will eat the crustaceans as foods. Usually the fish is a very active playful lot and during their normal behavior you will find them wriggling around sometimes among each other while at times, you will see them going against the aquarium glass surface. If for any reason, you don’t find that happening and your fish seems to stay idle all the time that is a sign that your pet might be sick.

Setting up the aquarium to house your kuhli loach should be easy because as long as you have a planted tank with lots of decoration for hiding and fine sand or gravel substrate, that should be perfect. Before you actually buy and put in your pets, make sure that the water is fully cycled because kuhli loaches are not tolerant to the poor water condition. I would suggest using corydoras catfish to fully cycle and getting the tank and water ready before you add them in. Avoid the temptation to quickly add them in a rush before things are fully ready because if you do that, not only you will risk losing your new pets but the ones that survive might not be healthy at all.

Black, Sailfin & Balloon Mollies

-----Molly or sometimes called Mollies is a type of fish which can withstand tropical freshwater condition to brackish medium salinity water. They are often confused to be similar to platies andswordtails group of fish but however, the mollies are very much different as they belong to other genus and they will not interbreed with those two although chasing and courting activities are commonly seen. In fact, mollies are often kept in the same tank together with the platies and swordtails without any trouble arising and most of the time, all of them will get along well.

There are different variants of the fish which is a result of extensive cross-breeding program done by hobbyist and fish breeders. Sometimes due to the aggressive breeding techniques matching them with other sub-species, most hybrid mollies don’t even look like one anymore and it can be quite difficult to identify them. Mollies in general are black in color but there are variants which are grayish green to yellow and there is even albino type produced albeit very rare. There are even some with the dorsal that projects like a sailfin although the native molly which you often find has the dorsal fin which is only very short and thin. Nowadays, you can also find a new breed called the “balloon mollies” which has a rounded belly which I believe is part of a selective breeding done by fish breeders.

balloon molly fishcommon black molly fishgray silver sailfin molly
Introducing mollies to an established community aquarium can be a tricky and often complicated thing to do. There are different results; some desired, some undesired that is often seen soon after this new fish is added to the display aquarium. Based on my own experience, some mollies especially the male will end up chasing every single fish larger than its size than it could find while some female mollies will instead nip and harass some smaller sized species such as neon tetraand pencilfish. Most of the time, they will get along well with the others but one important thing noted here is that the molly fish should be given ample space to swim around or else overcrowding and competition for foods will turn them into an aggressive and annoying lot.

Breeding Mollies
Molly just like the other livebearer fish which delivers free swimming baby fish also has a gonopodium to insert to the female specimen and the courting affair is usually interesting to watch as the male flaps open and expand its dorsal fin to get the attention of the other fish. The mollies however, do not make good parents as they will eat their own baby fish, and thus once the female delivers the fry, quickly remove it to another tank away from its offspring. To ensure high success rate on getting more fry, you can consider using a breeding box/net or having live plants in the tank so that the baby fish can hide once they are dropped from their mother.

neon fish
The Neon Tetra or sometimes called Neon Fish is basically made up of 3 different colors. As the name implies, the fish is characterized by its neon blue horizontal strip on its upper body, an iridescent red stripe starting from the mid-body until the end tail and its silver colored abdomen. The fish is native to the Amazon River located in Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Similar like its cousin in the wild, the neon tetra is generally a hardy fish and will propagate well in waters with temperature within 24-27 degree Celsius and pH in the region between 6.0-7.5.

Neon tetras are shoaling fish and generally prefer heavily planted aquarium with driftwood, which provides hiding place for its propagation. Because of their size, they should only be mixed with other smaller fish such as rummy-nose tetra or zebra danio and usually they are the most preferred community aquarium tank mates. Never under any circumstances should they be mixed with Goldfish, which creates a lot of waste and fouls the water easily or Koi, which is notorious for eating smaller fish. Pleco should also be avoided at all cost.

Aquarium maintenance for neon tetra is not that difficult because only small amount of waste is generated and provided that the tank is not overstocked. If you have a good filtration system which is able to treat large volumes of water and coupled together with heavily planted setup, that should create a stable natural environment that can sustain itself without much intervention. Just be sure to periodically check on the water quality, in case there are unforeseen fluctuations in water parameters.

Similar topics:
» Types of Aquarium Fish
» Other Community Fish Species

Reasons why people fail with their numerous attempts to keep Neon Tetra Fish

neon tetra fishThough generally this species does not have any special requirement for their survival in aquariums, there are still conditions whereby owners report of whole batch of their neon fish suddenly dies for no apparent reason. There is actually a valid explanation to this; as most people do not understand that in order to keep this small group of fish, the tank must be fully cycled (at least for a month) with ammonia level not detected while nitrate and nitrate are at low levels.

Food for your neon fish is also another area that you should focus on. Basically what you feed your pet will determine the health of them in the long run. Usually commercial fish foods are used as the basic diet but somehow if you keep feeding them the same thing, sooner or later you will realize that their colors could fade away easily. That is why, the best and ideal solution is to introduce and mix some feed of live foods such as daphnia (water flea) and microworms so that they get the best nutrition that will help them to stay healthy. One word of caution though, just makes sure that you obtain your supply of live foods from clean water source, or else you might introduce disease that could kill them instead.

Despite their small size, do not buy into the idea of getting your neon fish a small tank. Most people often made this mistake thinking that why would a little fish that measures less than few inches require such a big aquarium for them to swim around? Anyway, my recommendation is that in order to successfully keep neon tetra fish and breed them, one must have at least a large tank and never mind if it’s a 50 or 100-gallon size because this will allow you to grow as many live aquatic plants as possible for your fish to hide and with larger aquarium, pH and ammonia fluctuation would not be that high or significant until it reach that harmful level that could threaten the lives of your neon fish.
Oscar is one of the most aggressive and fierce looking tropical fish. They can grow up to very large size some reaching almost 40cm in length and they are known to be highly incompatible with other common home aquarium community species, often attacking or making a good meal out of the other fish. Despite their aggressive behavior, certain Oscar fish can even recognize the owner who cares for them and approach enthusiastically upon seeing the owner. Sometimes they can even nibble and trying to swallow your finger but there’s nothing to worry about because it doesn’t hurt since the teeth is at the back of the throat.
oscar fish tank setupalbino oscar
Oscar has a very huge appetite and they love live foods and will generally stay away from fish pellets unless they are very hungry. Their ideal diet consists mainly of high protein feed like beef, chicken meat, krill, grasshoppers, earth worms and to certain extent, bloodworms as well. And because of this, the aquarium water gets dirty easily and as such, usually the feeding schedule that involves live foods is right before the aquarium cleaning and water change. If this is not strictly adhered to and the water is left with all the uneaten leftover food, it will foul easily and leads to spread of fish disease as a result of poor water quality. For me, what I always do to ensure that I can still keep Oscar with minimal hours of aquarium maintenance, is to control their feeding regime and allow them to enjoy live foods every 3 days interval and the rest of the days only strictly fish pellets.

Oscar also requires large aquarium tank for normal development and also to ensure that they reach their maximum size. Other than the reasons above, large tank will also mean that water quality is much easier to control and maintain. A good guideline is to allow 20 gallons of water for every Oscar that you intend to keep and remember that they thrive well in warm water with temperature ranging between 25 to 28degC. Normally the best aquarium setup for Oscar fish should have a heater so that water temperature remains constant all the time. Other than that, a high-powered aquarium filter is also needed to ensure that water stays clean. The tank setup should also have a bare bottom without gravel for easy cleaning and live aquarium plantsare not needed at all since Oscar will destroy those easily. However, there is no harm to have a least some large rocks with driftwood, which will provide a natural hiding place for your fish.
platysPlaty is a tropical freshwater fishthat belongs to the same group or family of fish (Peociliidae) similar to the swordtail. Because of that, both species can actually interbreed with each other if placed in the same aquarium fish tank. Platy exists in different colors from orange to red while some has a mix of yellow shades with some black speckles. Due to crossbreeding, nowadays there is even albino platy with red colored eyes.

The fish is relatively easy to look after because of their hardy nature, which can tolerate wide range of water parameters. The condition for them to live in should be similar like those provided for any freshwater tropical fish whereby temperature is around 24 to 28deg Celsius while pH can be within 6 to 8. In terms of tolerance to high nitrite and nitrate levels, they can withstand fluctuations much better than any other fish and because of that, platies are always used as starter fish for beginner's tank.

Breeding platies are rather straight forward and most of the time, it will happen on its own without your intervention and provided that the living condition is at its best with good water quality and huge tank space area. A good practice to successfully breed the fish is by outnumbering the males with females using ratio of 1 to 3, meaning that let’s say if you have 2 male platies, the number of females should be 6. This way, it will ensure that there is no in-fighting or occurrences whereby the male will chase the female platy until it become exhausted as this could be life-threatening to your pet fish.

A reliable method of determining whether you have a male and female platy is by looking at the anal fin. A female platy would have the fin fully opened while for male platy, the fin is closed to become a long straight pointy fin called gonopodium, which is used to inseminate the female fish. Pregnant female platy can be easily identified by looking at the size of the belly, which begins to darken at the area right above the anal fin.

Platies are live-bearers meaning that the fish doesn’t lay eggs and will release free swimming fry. Usually the pregnancy period can be anywhere between 3 to 4 weeks and during this period, the fry will actually consume the yolk sac and become fully developed in the womb of its mother. Platies are notorious for eating their own babies and in order to ensure that the fry have high survival rate, you can actually overcome this by setting up an aquarium tank full of plantsand vegetation to provide a good hiding spot. Predation is a natural process but if you want to ensure that every single fry survive, you can use a fish breeding trap or hatchery which has a compartment to separate the fry.

Caring for platy fish fry can be extremely easy. By the time, they are born, the size is anywhere between a quarter to half centimeter and they are known to be an active swimmer. Once they are released into the water from their mother’s womb, they will immediately dash to a hiding spot and will swim away if there’s any movement of any object approaching them. These free-swimming fish fry will readily accept any food you feed to them.

You can either soak your normal fish food with water and then crushed it until it becomes diluted powder or you can use hard-boiled egg yolk. These days, there are even liquid fry foods, which you can buy from aquarium pet stores and all you have to do is to add a drop of the liquid into the water. Despite the availability, the recommended nutrition should still come from brine shrimp nauplii if you intend to provide the best for your pet. Finally if everything is well taken care of, the young fish fry should achieve full-grown size in about 4 and a half months to begin another cycle of breeding.

Peacock Cichlids care requirements can be rated from medium to slightly difficult depending on the experience of the fish keepers. Generally as long as you provide the living environment close to the same condition just like in the wild where they are caught from, then it should be okay. However, these days, new generations of peacock cichlids have been captive bred and thus are easier to look after since they can tolerate and adapt to our household water quality far better than their ancestors from Lake Malawi.

Regardless, the species is still very much sensitive to sudden change in water quality. Normally, in between water changes, try not to alter the hardness level and pH too drastically or they will show signs and effect of lethargy and losing their appetite. A good general guide is to control the water hardness at about 8 to 10 dGH while the alkaline level should be around 7.2 to 8.0 unit. For better understanding on the hardness requirement, refer to the water hardness table which will indicate on the level that you are having. Your pet will produce a lot of waste if you constantly feed them and accumulation of these materials will also alter the pH. I would suggest getting a good aquarium filtration system in place and constantly monitor and do water changes periodically.

sunshine sunburst peacock cichlidsA sunburst and sunshine cichlids comparing side by side

There are different types of peacock cichlids being sold in the market although most of these that you will find are generally hybridsproduced by cross-breeding. Nowadays it is very rare to find pure bred peacocks that still maintain the original strain and natural lines similar to those that your could still find in their wild habitat. Few of the most common types that you will normally come across aresunshine peacock cichlid, the sunburst variant and also the blue (electric blue) peacocks. Comparing among all of them, the most popular is usually the sunshine type because being the prettier ones with having vivid and striking colors; they usually attract the most attention of the aquarium hobbyist.

Studying the peacock’s normal behavior is very interesting and is an important step towards your decision to establish a single species community tank. Males can sometimes show aggression towards each other especially when the males outnumber the females and there exist a competition to find their partners during mating season. There are times that even with different gender of the fish in existence living in the same aquarium, one of them is bound to exert its dominance towards the other fish and thus getting at least 100-gallon aquarium to house 3 – 4 of these fish should be the minimum requirement. Normally the most sensible thing is to have a male together with the presence of two females in its company.

Identifying whether your peacock fish is a male or female should be rather straightforward as only the males have bright and attractive coloration. If your intention is to set up an aquarium with only the males present and you do want a dull looking fish, then the appropriate thing to do is to buy them in a group when all of them are young. Establish a tank with lots of live plants in it, complete with rocks, caves and driftwood if possible and the bottom layer should be filled with fine sands. There are even attempts to mix the peacock cichlids with mbuna in the same aquarium and the results somehow varies with some reporting that theirs are fine while others are less fortunate and ended up different species fighting each other.

These days the aquaculture industry is booming especially in Asia with demands for different types of cichlids commanding a very good price for a fine specimen. The peacocks fish definitely fit into this criteria as it serves not only just a hobby but also for those with interest to take it further and venture into this field.

Puffers and Porcupine Fish Facts

Puffer Fish remains one of the most fascinating underwater creatures due to their ability to inflate their body to become a silly odd-looking ball shaped appearance. As interesting as they can be, this is the main attraction that makes people want to keep them as pets and most hobbyists actually end up failed in their attempts due to the lack of understanding on their requirements. As mysterious as it can get, nothing is a secret as long as you search more information and learning through experience.

Most of the common puffers that you can see sold in pet stores belong to the Tetraodontidae family, also known as the four-toothed puffers, in which two of the teeth are located at the top and the other two at the bottom. Some of the popular species belonging to this group that are generally found are the Leopard better known as Green spotted puffer (Tetraodon fluviatilis), Figure eight puffer (Tetraodon palembangensis), Black spotted puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus) and the Dwarf puffer or sometimes called Pea puffer (Carinotetraodon travancoricus). Most of them spent a large part of their life time in marine saltwater condition but their juvenile and early periods of their life are most in fresh/brackish water, thus this the first and foremost thing you will need to know before you even get started.

green spotted puffer figure eight puffer
Pictures of commonly kept aquarium puffers.
Puffer fish can be very territorial and they are best kept as single species housed in their very own tank. They love crustaceans and the young puffers are mostly fed with small crayfishshrimps or if you have aquarium snail infestation taking place in your tank, they will actually do a very good job of ridding of the pests. They are also known to have a veracious appetite and most of the time they will finish off every tiny bits and pieces of foods given to them. If you are unable to supply them with shrimps which can be costly over long period, you can actually use chopped or minced fish meat as a replacement.

That being said, you will definitely need a good aquarium filtration system (Eheim or Fluval canister filter is fine) and a large tank capacity that can hold huge amount of water in order to cope up with their high demands and extreme generation of waste material due to constant feeding. If well-fed, you will notice that they will grow very fast and soon enough you will have to change to a brackish water condition as they grow older. Make sure that you maintain specific gravity (SG) of 1.008-1.018 when they are at the juvenile stage and increase gradually to the range of 1.018-1.025when they get older. There are conflicting statements among aquarist as to when is the right time that they should actually make the switch from freshwater to the brackish/marine water condition, but usually the period given is about one to one and a half years.

Porcupine Fishes also belong to the same puffer groups (as what they are aptly called) although they are classified into a separate family of their own called the Diodontidae. Most people do not really know how to discern between a Diodontidae and a Tetraodontidae but however, if you look closely at the porcupine fish, they only have a pair of teeth in which one is at the top and another at the bottom. One of the most commonly found species is the Diodon holocanthus(also called balloonfish) and similar like their cousins, you should always confine your pets to solitary tank. There are reports on how people manage to add catfishes or other aquarium species with bony plates (armor type) but most of the time even the larger size aggressive ones will fall prey to the poisonous toxin or from the bite coming from their strong beak-like mouth.

Despite their aggression however, puffers are very entertaining creatures as they will swim around the tank as soon as they sense your presence. Sometimes those cheeky ones will even squirt water as you get closer, so this something you will need to be prepared of duck immediately. Children and kids especially will love them but please ensure that the hood of the tank is perfect securely leaving no room for access that will cause untoward incident that can lead to serious injuries. All in all, if you are looking for a cute puppy face fish friend and playful pet, then definitely the puffers will fit nicely into this category.

Freshwater Aquarium Sharks are often mistaken and identified to be similar as the large predatory man-eating fish that roams the ocean. However, the real fact is that most freshwater tank sharks are small sized and those that you find swimming in home aquariumsare actually herbivorous type that won’t even attack or bite your hands.

So why are they called sharks in the first place if not because of aggression? Well, as what I believe, the name is actually chosen for them because of their shape and style of swimming that closely resemble the way the ocean sharks do when cruising in deep waters. To further debunk the myth, there is also no connection whatsoever between the ocean sharks and the river sharks and in fact both of them actually belong to different classification and taxonomic group of fish identification.

There are several known genus referring to the large aquarium freshwater sharks but for reference here, we shall refer to these four main groups of family as they are the most common among the lot.
  1. Epalzeorhynchus
  2. Balantiocheilus
  3. Labeo
  4. Osteochilus

red-tailed black sharkCoincidentally, two of the most famous and favorite shark fish that are reared in freshwater aquarium belong to this genus. One of them is the red-tailed black shark also known by its scientific name ofEpalzeorhynchus bicolor and the other one is the rainbow shark, sometimes known as ruby sharkidentified by its scientific name ofEpalzeorhynchus frenatus. Both fishes although are grouped together but however, in terms of behavioral instinct, they are very much dissimilar as the red-tail black shark is extremely territorial while the rainbow shark displays a more solemn nature and is often placed into the community aquarium. Thus the rainbow shark is a more preferred choice because they can mix well with other types of fish without causing any harm. You can also read-up more details about the rainbow shark and why I’ve chosen them as my ideal choice of really cool pet fish.


silver bala sharkThe Balantiocheilus melanopterus, better known as the bala or silver sharkis perhaps one of the most commonly heard freshwater sharks. Together with the Osteochilus, both are genus comprising mostly of friendly type of species which are peaceful and omnivorous. One of the problems associated with the fish however that is, they can grow up to very large, reaching up to 14 inches in length and as such they require huge space to move about. However, with that size in mind, this is still considered small compared to the other shark species like the Labeo chrysophekadion which touches 24 inches for an adult fish. If you are one of the community tank fanatics hoping to create the perfect underwater world, then I would suggest you should also consider the bala shark as one of your additions. (Read up also on some community tank ideas and suggestions)


all black sharkLabeo chrysophekadion or referred to by its common name as the black sharkis among the largest in the family of freshwater sharks. They are also one of the most active fish around but it is also notoriously known for its wild and aggressive behavior which makes it unable to get along well with other species. Because of these reasons, aquarists usually avoid keeping them with other small pets in home aquariums and their presence are mostly confined to a large tankwhereby the black shark is the only fish in it. In the Asian countries, labeo is also being bred and kept as predominantly food fish (just liketilapia) eaten and served on dinner tables. There is also another popular breed in this group known as the harlequin shark (scientific name: Labeo variegatus).


Osteochilus as mentioned briefly during the topic of discussion on Balantiocheilus is one of the ideal shark groups for freshwater beginners. The species hasselti is particularly easy to care for and their food consists solely of vegetable diet mainly lettuce and soft leaf spinach. Sometimes if you have a coating of algae on the aquarium sides or you have java moss growing on the bogwood, it would be the best and most ideal setup for your pets as they really love it. However, they are only fussy about the water quality and as such, using powerful aquarium filter that removes particles and maintaining clean water condition all the times are very important. Don’t underestimate or worry on the fish having difficulty maintaining their balance in the water with power filters around as they can handle the turbulent water easily with their big size and strong body.

Need to maintain clean and disease free water condition? Consider using  aquarium ultraviolet sterilizer to remove harmful pathogens.
silver dollar tropical fishSilver Dollar Tropical Fish is known as a peaceful freshwater species suitable for any community tank. The large round shaped appearance is often mistaken as its cousin piranha but however for this fish, it is generally vegetarian (herbivores) meaning that it prefers greens. And because of that, putting this freshwater fish species in tanks full of live aquarium plants is really a disaster, as they will wreck havoc by uprooting the plants and eating the leaves.

Silver dollar fish originated from tropical regions and its wild cousin live scattered around different locations in the Amazon River. They prefer soft water with pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.5 and if well taken care of, it can easily grow up to five inches in length. As such in order to successfully breed this fish, you will need large aquarium tank measuring at least 50-gallon minimum. In community aquarium, they will stay at the middle level of the tank and they will get along well with other tropical fish species such as hatchet fish (be wary once the silver dollar grows large), swordtailcatfish and plecowithout any problem.

The tropical fish also has the characteristic of moving in small schoolsnumbering about 5 to 6 and they will easily tremble and could even leap out of the tank if startled. As such having an aquarium setup with proper hood is a must if you intend to keep this fish as a pet. Having driftwood and rocks as part of the tank setup is also recommended as it will provide perfect hiding spot. Feeding silver dollar is indeed fun because once they get used to the aquarium environment, they will chase and nibble on the food around the tank and they love especially algae wafers and lettuce. In order to ensure that they stay healthy, I even go to the extent of feeding cereals, which will enhance the silver coloration on their body.

Just like any other tropical fish, silver dollar is also very particular about the water that they live in. Always ensure that nitrate is somehow below the 50 ppm limit or else they will start to show signs of inactivity. Best way to control the level of nitrate (since having live plants is not possible) is to allow healthy growth of algae at the aquarium corners. On top of that, always conduct regular water changes and ensure that water quality is within the desired range using water test kit.


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