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					                        Tropical Fish Secrets

                                The Aquarium
It is important that you get the correct aquarium. This is the base of everything.
This is the home of your tropical friends. So, it is very important that you take the
time and effort necessary to ensure your success. There are many questions
that you need to think about before purchasing your aquarium. It is important
that you think about what kind of tropical fish you would like, how big they will get
when they are full grown, what types of plants you want to put in the aquarium.

First, let’s start with what kind of tanks there are out there.
There are two kinds of tanks- frame tanks which are made with frames made of
anodized aluminum, plastic, or stainless steel and then there are frameless
tanks. Both are caulked with silicone rubber. They do not rust even with sea
water. Aquariums come in different shapes and sizes and all are suitable for
keeping fish.
Plastic tanks are just as durable but they do scratch easier than glass. If you are
looking for an aquarium without sharp edges and corners, then you are looking
for a plastic tank. Some plastic tanks are too thin and therefore the water
pressure might cause the walls to belly out. Then all of your efforts will be lost. If
you are looking to photograph your fish, then you will want to get a glass
aquarium. Plastic tanks will distort the look of your fish. The handling of the tank
is also important with plastic tanks to ensure that the surface doesn’t scratch.
The main advantage to a plastic tank over a glass one is how it looks.
A plastic tank with rounded edges and corners looks amazing in your living room.

There are a few different styles of glass aquariums. Molded one-piece tanks are
great for breeding and small fish species and also as isolation tanks. I will speak
about isolation tanks later and why it is necessary to have one on hand. One –
piece tanks are also easy to clean and will hold 5 gallons (20 liters) safely. One
issue with molded tanks is the internal stress may cause larger tanks to crack or
break. For this reason, it is important to protect your tank for temperature
changes. It is also common that the glass walls are not even which makes your
fish look distorted.
Some people choose to use transparent plastic tanks because they are lighter
and less fragile than the glass versions. They are also easier to repair. If a
plastic tank should crack for any reason, you can repair it using plastic glue. The
price is also another reason why people choose it over the glass tank. IF you are
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
a fish enthusiast, you should have a plastic tank that can be used as isolation
tank or that can be used as quarantine. An isolation tank should be 3- 4 gallons
(10-15 liters) in capacity. It is also important that it be fully equipped with a
heater and a filter. I would recommend that you purchase your isolation tank
when you purchase your aquarium. The reason for this is that you can use the
isolation tank when you first get your fish and while you are setting up your
aquarium. Plastic tanks have there place but due to the fact that they are not
scratch resistant, it is better to use them only as a temporary solution to your
permanent aquarium. Plastic tanks are great economically and they are
narrower at the bottom and can be stacked for better storage. You will see as
you expand your love for your aquarium that you will run out of space quickly.
Therefore, plastic tanks are definitely an advantage.

   What if a relative gives you a tank, how can I fix it so
                      that I can use it??
I am sure everyone knows someone who has tried to build an aquarium and they
were unsuccessful and gave up. It could be a neighbour or relative or friend. It
is possible that this person will give you there aquarium in hopes that you can be
more successful than they were. Okay, so, how do we not make the same
mistakes? How do we use what they gave up to start us out for the time being?
Most often these aquariums are the old-fashioned frame tank with glass panes
cemented to the metal frame. You will need to seal the joints with a silicone
rubber. Use only a silicone rubber with an acetic base. Ensure that you seal all
joints. Don’t forget to seal the lower edge of the frame that runs along the top of
the tank. Remove all the grease with an alcohol or acetone solvent. Okay, you
have the silicone rubber, now what do you do with it. You squeeze some of it out
and put it in the seams. Smooth it out by using your finger. (Tip: add
dishwashing detergent to your finger before you put silicone rubber on it so that it
doesn’t stick to your finger.) This will make that tank useable for several years. It
will be able to give you some time to figure out what kind of fish you would like,
what kinds of plants you would like and how big of an aquarium you will need to
have the aquarium of your dreams. The aquarium that your friends will be
running over to see.

      What your aquarium should be made of and the format
Most aquariums, as I am sure that you are aware of, are taller than they are
wider. The reason for this is so that they fit in with modern furniture. Another
reason is because a taller tank offers a larger viewing surface which will be
beneficial when your aquarium is full of beautiful tropical fish. The problem with
is this that the larger the floor area, the healthier the inhabitants, both fish and
plants. Remember any living organism in the aquarium is an inhabitant. You
goal is the build the best aquarium possible that will create a healthy environment
for your organisms to thrive in. The larger the floor area the more possibilities
that you have to arrange plants, decorate the aquarium. It also allows bottom fish
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more territory to stake out and the lighting to be more effective than in a tall,
narrow aquarium.
Remember that once you fill you aquarium with water, it will look shorter and
narrower. Until recently, if you wanted an aquarium with a larger floor area you
would have to have it custom-built or construct it yourself. Thankfully,
manufacturers have realized some of the benefits of a large floor aquarium that
they are starting to produce them. This is obviously a cheaper option than you
building it yourself or having it custom made.

As I mentioned before, it is important when you are setting up your aquarium that
you think about what kind of fish you want to put in the tank, what kind of plants,
the behavioral patterns of the fish. Be sure not to start with a tank that is too
small. A common mistake is that you purchase a tank that is too small for the
fish that you want to put in it. IF your tank is too small, it will quickly become
overpopulated. Another advantage to a larger tank is the stability of the
environment that a larger tank creates. The bigger the tank, the more stable the
environment, the more immune the environment will be to mistake that might be
made in tank maintenance. The less chances you will have to unexpected
surprises. No one wants to come home and find their tropical friend on the top of
the tank.

I stated before how important it is to think about what kinds of fish you want to
put in your aquarium. It is important to remember that large fish tend to be
territorial and require more space. Small fish swim in schools of fish in there
natural environment. A school of fish is at least seven to ten fish usually of their
own kind. They need and want the company. You will need adequate amount of
space for the school of fish to swim freely. If you have ever been snorkeling or
scuba diving, you will know what a beautiful sight it is to see a school of fish
swimming by. Now, imagine that sight being in your own living room. It is only a
beautiful sight if they have enough room to swim freely. Now imagine that same
school of fish in a crowded tank, it would like a mall at Christmas time.

I know what you are thinking, how do I figure out how much space my fish need.
A good rule of thumb is estimate the length of the full-grown fish, and multiply
each by half an inch ( 1cm) by 1 1/2 to 2 quarts (1 ½- 2 liters). Remember that
this only represents the water in the aquarium. It doesn’t include the materials at
the bottom of the tank, the plants, or anything that takes up space for that matter.
Don’t worry. This is just an estimate. The best advice that I can give you would
be to start out with the biggest aquarium that you can afford.

Another issue that you are going to have to consider with the aquarium is the
weight of the tank once it is filled with water. The weight can be calculated by

Capacity in gallons= length X Width X height (in inches)
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
One gallon of water weighs 9 pounds. So if your aquarium is 48 X 13 X 21
inches, it holds 55 gallons and weighs about 500 pounds. Add one quarter of the
results for the weight of the decorations and plants and anything else that you
have at the bottom of the tank. So, once you have all of the pieces that you want
in the tank, the tank will probably weigh around 625 pounds. This does not
include the stand of the table that the tank is on. It is important to access
whether the flooring in your house will be able to hold a tank this weight. If you
are thinking of putting a larger aquarium in your house, you should consult with
an architect or a builder to determine how much weight your floors can take
especially if you are thinking of putting your aquarium on the second floor of you
house or apartment.

Another thing that will prove to be helpful is a cover. If you have a large
aquarium, it will be a pain to take off a cover the size of the tank. The cover
should have one or more opening. The purpose of the cover is to keep the dust
out to the tank and to keep the fish from jumping out. You will want an opening
for the heater or filter tubing and for feeding the fish. You can buy plastic panels
that fit your tank exactly and plastic runners for the panels. You can move the
panels back and forth. The cover panel might not be air tight but they should
never be big enough for a fish to squeeze through.

Now, that you have thought about the size of the aquarium and the cover, now
we have to think about where we are going to put it. You want to put the
aquarium in a place that has a lot of electrical outlets. You should also be sure
that the floor is level. If it is slanted, you will have to even it out. It is also
important that the stand or table that you put the aquarium on is strong enough to
handle the weight and not bend. (Tip: you might want to put Styrofoam or felt
under your aquarium because some tanks do develop leaks.) Place the aquarium
in a place that allows you to look at it comfortably from where you are sitting.

The next thing that is critical to your success is water. Whether you plants and
fish live or die will depend on the water in the tank. The quality of the water will
determine whether they live or die. Not all water is the same. Water is made up
of gases, minerals and organic matter. The organic matter is from decaying
leaves and wood and from plants and creatures in the water.
There are two gases in water- oxygen and carbon dioxide. These are essential
for all living organisms to survive. Fish and plants will absorb oxygen and
release carbon dioxide. The number of fish and plants in the aquarium will have
an effect on the balance of the water. The balance will need to be naturally
maintained or the excess needs to be removed. The water will be hard or soft
depending on the minerals that are in it. IF the mineral content is high, then the
water will be hard. If the mineral content is low, then it will be soft.
You will need to find out what the mineral content of your tap water. How do you
find this information??? You can call your local water department or you can
measure it yourself. You can use indicator strips or a test kit that you can
                       Tropical Fish Secrets
purchase from your pet shop. In highly populated areas, you water will come
from a variety of different areas. Water from different areas will have a different
hardness and chemical composition. Due to this, your tap water will change
composition. It is necessary to check your water periodically. Okay... you have
check the water using the indicator strips or test kits, how do you know whether it
is hard or soft. Going forward, the hardness of the water will be expresses as
dH. Each degree of dH is 30 milligrams of calcium carbonate per quart (1 litre) of

0-4 degree dH = very soft
5-8 degree dH= soft
9-12 degree dH = medium hard
13 degree dH and up = hard water

Tropical fish adapt very well to soft water. The soil in their natural environments
have little or no calcium. That is the reason that they adapt so well to soft water.
East African Cichlids are the only tropical fish that live in medium or hard water.
Water hardness varies on the parts of the country. For this reason, it would be
wise to check your water hardness and choose fish that will thrive in that
environment. You can change the hardness of the water by mixing distilled water
with the tap water to get the proper degree of hardness. It might be expensive to
do it this way. Rain water is not an option because it is often too polluted. I know
what you are thinking.. You are thinking what I do if the water hardness is too
hard or I don’t want to have to add distilled water all the time.

Well, I have a solution for you. You can buy an ion-exchanger. This is used to
remove minerals from the water and will soften the water even purify the water.
The type of ion-exchanger that you will need will depend on the hardness of your
Another way to change the dH in the water is to add fish. There are several fish
that you can add to the water depending on what the dH is. If the water is soft,
you can get some live-bearing Toothed Carps or large Cichlids from Lakes
Malawi and Tanganyika. If you need to harden the water, you will need some
gypsum. You can also buy plastic gypsum at the pet store.

The acidity of the water is just as important as the minerals. I will express the
acidity in terms of pH. Natural water contains certain substances that react in
either an alkaline or acidic fashion. Neutral water has a pH of 7. Water below 7
tells you that the water is acidic. Water above 7 is alkaline. For our purposes,
most tropical fish need an pH of 5.8 to 7. (East African Cichlids need a pH of 7.5
to 8.5 pH). It is necessary to test your tank for the pH level periodically. You can
do this with a test kit or indicator strips. If you water is below 5.5 pH or above 9
pH, your fish will show signs of illness.

Tropical fish come from an environment which consists of carbonic acid, carbon
dioxide and humic acid. Plants are able to absorb minerals and trace element
                       Tropical Fish Secrets
better in combination with humic acid. Humic acid maintains the acidity better
than carbonic acid because carbonic acid fluctuates more with the metabolic
action of the plants that are into eh tanks. In their natural habitats, humic acid
comes from dead leaves, wood and other plant matter in the water. So, how do
we get this in our aquariums? Easy.. you can circulate it through the peat filters
or by adding liquid peat extract.

Some other factors that affect the water are of course our fish. Fish excrete
ammonia. Ammonia can be found in the water from a variety of different
sources. Decomposing animal proteins- fish food, dead snails, dead fish, feces
and urine all create ammonia in the water. If you over feed your fish, you might
be the main reason for high levels of ammonia. The unused food will fall to the
bottom of the tank and create ammonia. Ammonia is poisonous even in low
amounts. Slightly acidic water will change the water to a less toxic ammonium.
Here is a chart that demonstrates the ammonia and ammonium concentrations at
different pH levels.

pH                          % Ammonia                          % Ammonium

6                                  0                                  100
7                                  1                                  99
8                                  4                                  96
9                                  25                                 75

As long as the pH stays around 5.8 to 7, you fish will be safe from ammonia
poisoning. An aquarium that is not cleaned for some time will have a high
amount of debris food and the levels of nitrogen will be high. If you circulate is
water through an acid-enhancing filter material such as peat, it will convert to
ammonium and your fish will be fine. This is the reason why when you decide to
change the water in your tank after a long while, some of your fish die. It is
because you have changed the environment and the pH in the aquarium has
risen from the tap water. When the ammonium rises, there is a change in the
ammonia and the fish die from ammonia poisoning.
Long gone are the days where people believe that fish can’t handle the water
change. Now, they are devices available to eliminating cloudily debris without
the removing water. It is important to know that aged water means the aquarium
has plants but no fish for several weeks. Fresh water is tap water that has sat for
a while.
One kind of fish that is in constant danger of ammonia poisoning is an East
African Cichlids. They are used to alkaline the water. They are heavy feeders
and plants do not usually survive in their tanks. It is important to use powerful
filters and change their water more frequently.

How do you know if you fish is suffering from ammonia poisoning?
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
You fish will exhibit symptoms of oxygen deficiency or excessively high levels of
carbon dioxide. IF you see your fish coming to the surface often, check your
water first before turning up the air pump. The filter changes the ammonia first
into nitrite and then into nitrate. Nitrite is highly poisonous and needs to be
changed quickly. You should check your nitrite levels every two weeks with a kit.
If it is too high, clean your filter and change your water immediately. An easy
way to determine whether this is necessary is to smell the water. Nitrite will smell
bad. Too much nitrate will harm the plants in the tank and therefore will affect
the oxygen and carbon dioxide in the tank. One thing to remember is that our
tap water contains more nitrate than the tropical waters. The transformation of
ammonia into nitrate uses up a lot of oxygen. The less this occurs the more
oxygen that is available to our fish. Because our tap water is really only for
human consumption, it is devoid of carbonic acid. Plants provide phosphate, iron
and manganese to survive. Our tap water is devoid of these minerals. It is for
this reason that it is important to put plants in the tank. They will remove the
poisons in the water before you put the fish in it. It ensures the greatest success
in your aquarium is to do a dry run with the tank.

Set up the tank for two to three weeks. Set up the tank, fill it with water, air pump,
and filter etc without the fish in it. This gives the plants a chance to take root and
the bacteria can develop which will create a “ good” aquarium environment.

I asked you before to think about what kind of fish that you want to put in your
tank to determine the size of the tank that you will need. It is also important to
think about the natural environment of the fish that you want in terms of the

Fish from South America which are Neon Tetras, Discus Fish, Angelfish (
Scalares), Armored Corydoreas, and Dwarf Cichlids. Water from the South
American region consists of three different types of water- white water, clear
water, and black water.
White water is cloudy, yellow and clayey. It is soft, as we discussed before is 0.6
to 1.2 dH. And it is slightly acidic pH 6.5 to 6.9. It does have minimum amounts
of ammonium and nitrate.
Clear water is transparent and yellow to dark olive green in colour. It is
extremely soft 0.3 to 0.8 dH and the acid level 4.6 to 6.6 pH. It has hardly any
ammonium or nitrate.
Black water is transparent and dark brown. It is 0 to 0.1 dH and 3.8 to 5.3 pH with
no ammonium or nitrate. There is no distinct division between the three types of
water and many fish come from a combination of these waters. Pure black water
is not viable for fish to survive in.

Central America
This water tends to be medium hard to hard and is neutral and slightly alkaloid.
The most common fish that are found in this area is Cyprinodonts and live-
bearing Toothed Carps.
                        Tropical Fish Secrets

This water is rich in minerals and for that reason egg-laying fish such as
Cyprinodonts, Characins and Cichlids are found from this area. They are usually
slightly acid water with low mineral content. The hardness is usually 2 dH, and a
pH level of 6.5. with no ammonium or nitrate. East African waters are a little
harder with 10 dH and pH of 7.5 to 9.2. The most common fish from this area is
mouth breeding Cichlids. They can survive in water as hard as 25dH. The most
common is 17 dH and a pH of 8.2.

Southeast Asia
Water in this area is very soft 0.2 to 0.7 dH and it is practically neutral. Danios
are common in this area. The average is 0.6 dH and a pH of 6. 0.

All of these figures are estimates and are taken at different times and different
rivers in theses areas. This does not take into account the natural effects of such
things as floods in these areas. This information provides us with some
guidelines that will help us set up our aquariums. Remember that these figures
will be very important if you are thinking about breeding your tropical friends. If
you want to breed you new addition to your living room, it is important to create
an environment that is close to their natural inhabitant. If that is not your desire,
they will be able to handle harder and more alkaline waters.

                 Aquarium Equipment and Accessories

When you hear the word tropical fish, what is the first thing that comes to your
mind? Temperature of the water. In order to have any results with tropical fish,
you will need a heater. The water should be about 73 to 79 degrees (23 -26
degrees Celsius). There are several types of heaters and several ways to heat
the tank. An aquarium heater consists of a heating coil inside a glass tube filed
with sand. It is regulated using a thermostat.

The most common heaters are electric rod-type heaters without thermostats and
automatic heaters with built in thermostats. If you buy your heater separately,
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
you will learn that some are made to be placed inside the tank and others need
to mounted on the outside of the tank. If you don’t want to see the cords and
electrical wires of the heater, you might want to build the heater into the outside
filtering equipment.

I recommend that you use an automatic temperature heater. I will tell you why.
Tropical fish don’t really tolerate changes in their water temperature. It should
always stay within 2degree F or (1degree C) of the temperature on the
thermostat. In a room that is 68 to 73 degrees, your heating capacity of 0.3 to
0.5 is sufficient. The tank only needs to be heated a few degrees above the
room temperature. Remember that the lighting will increase the temperature into
the tank. It is important that you check the temperature of the tank. During the
warm days it might be necessary for you to turn off the thermometer.
Okay so, you go to the pet store to buy a thermometer but which one do you buy.
The expense one or the cheaper one. In this case, there are some advantages
to the cheaper one. The smaller heater will heat the aquarium slower which will
allow the fish to adapt better and if there is a problem with it or goes on the blink.
You have more time to intervene.

The larger thermometers are usually equipped with a heat sensor with a bimetal
contact. It will turn off and on constantly and the contact will get stuck. It is
possible that it will refuse to open after some time, making it impossible to control
the temperature.
We have talked about heating the tank for the fish but there are other living
organisms in the tank. Plants also require some care. Tropical plants require a
warm environment as well. It is for this reason that you need to heat the bottom
of the tank. It is important to keep it on degree centigrade above the water. To
do this, you will need to put waterproof heating cables on the bottom of the tank.
The best way to distribute the heat is in an S shape and should be mounted on
tracks or feet so that there is no contact with the glass or you can also
incorporate it with the gravel. Another option is to use a heating pad that is
placed directly underneath the aquarium separated by the proper insulation. If
the heating pad is too strong, it will damage the bottom of the glass.

Another advantage of using the bottom heating method is that the fresh water will
constantly be flowing through the bottom. This prevents organic matter from
rotting at the bottom of the tank. It also helps bring minerals to the plants in the
tank, therefore making the aquarium more stable. Heating pads or cables may
be able to heat the aquarium without the aid of another heater inside the tank.
For best results, you should have one watt for 10 quarts or litres of water. This
will ensure proper circulation and it will pass through the gravel one or twice a
day. A dual-circuit thermostat will regulate the bottom as well as regulating the
tank on the cold days. It is for this reason that this is the best thermometer to get.
IF you are going to use a bottom heat, it is important to remember that you will
have to change the gravel every year or two. Although gravel will act as a filter,
filters do get clogged and dirty. That is the reason for the gravel change.
                        Tropical Fish Secrets

It is important to get a thermostat that is UL approved for safety. This heater has
the least amount of problems associated with it. Some possible problems are an
electric shock. You might need to clip a plant and clean the glass. You usually
will not be able to tell if the fish got a shock. To ensure that this does not
happen, it is recommended that you invest in an electronic safety device. They
are used between the outlet and the unit and automatically shut off if there is a

Whether you fish and plants like constant sunlight or thrive in a cycled
environment it is important to get proper lighting. Some will suggest that you
place your aquarium by the window to get as much daylight as you can. The
problem is that you can’t control the sunlight. It is also possible that if you place
the aquarium by the window, it will follow the seasons. It is not unlikely that you
will experience some green algae and turn the water opaque and the plants may
wither because it is too dark for them in the winter. Animals and plants are living
organisms and they have their own internal clock that determines their daily
behavior as well as their seasonal behavior. You have to remember that you are
trying to create an environment that is closest to their natural inhabitant. The
other area where the element of lighting is important is when you are thinking
about breeding. Some species will spawn after sunrise and some will be after
dusk. The growth of the plants and fish is based on the length of the day. The
length of the day is usually determined by the amount of daylight that they
receive. It is important to create an environment that fosters the most growth.
Fish that are naturally from areas close to the equator are used to 12 hours of
sunlight. To create an environment that is close to their natural inhabit, I advise
that you have the aquarium lit for 12- 14 hours a day. I would also advise that
you purchase a timer that will turn the lights on automatically.

The intensity is also important to keep in mind with regards to your tank. The
tank needs the lighting to be supplied for the plants and the fish in the tank. You
want the lighting to resemble natural daylight. Your fish will need less light than
your plants. Water will also act as a light filter. Smaller plants are more affected
by the source of light than the larger plants. Larger plants are closer to the light
source. How do you know how much light you need? A good rule of thumb is 0.4
to 0.7 watts per quart (litre) of water. An example is if you aquarium is 48X 12 X
21, your lamp should be about 80 to 140 watts.

One thing that is common in the tropics is algae. It is for this reason that you
should add algae eating fish immediately. The most common algae eating fish
are Siamese Flying Fox, the Sphnenops Molly, and some kind of Bristle- Nose or
Chinese Algae- Eater.
                         Tropical Fish Secrets
It is hard to determine what the exact lighting for the fish is. The advantage to
having a well planted aquarium is that if it is too bright for you fish, they can find
shade among the plants. The more natural the lighting is to sunlight the more
natural the fish and plants will appear. The color of the light varies depending on
the time of day. How does that affect your aquarium? Well, the different colours
of light encourage different things. Red light which occurs in the morning or the
evening encourages vertical growth. Blue light which occurs in the midday
fosters the sturdiness of the plants. For these reasons, it is important that you
supply your aquarium with both sources of light.

Most tanks use fluorescent tubes because light bulbs are too expensive and
generally give off too much heat. Fluorescent tubes are also used because you
can vary the types of tubes that you use. The variations will provide different
coloured lights that will give your aquarium a good mixture for both the fish and
the plants. An aquarium should have a combination of warm and cold tone lights.
Warm tones tend to use the red end of the spectrum and cold tones tend to use
the blue end. White lights will give you a range of the spectrum. (Tip: Grow
lights tend to change the look of your fish). If you are going to use grow lights,
they should not be used in the first three to six months because they cause algae
to form.

It is important to note that fluorescent lights will lose half their power within six
months. You should replace your lights every 6 months. Most lights have
reflectors that will increase the light intensity. If this is not the case, then you can
line your cover with foil. This will give you the same effect. Ask your retailer for
fluorescent tubes with reflective coating. The light will be more efficient if you
clean the cover every week. Mineral deposit and algae will build up on the cover
making your fluorescent lights ineffective. It is ideal if you can hang the
fluorescent lighting above the tank. They will then not heat the aquarium and
they are out of splashing range. It is also easier to clean, catch fish and empty
the tank if there are no lights attached to it. IF you have to move the lights to do
anything in the tank, you might not be able to see what you need to do in the
tank. A good distance between the lights and the cover is 4 inches or 10 cm.
Then if you need to do work in the tank, you can raise them.

Another type of lighting that has become popular recently is mercury vapor lights.
They are usually suspended over the aquarium and they have been quite
successful. This type of lighting should only be used in tanks that are 20 inches
or higher. They tend to last longer than fluorescent lights and they are still 80%
of their original capacity after 2 years of use. They are also at full intensity after
about 5 minutes. This mimicks the natural sunrise and may be easier on the
occupants of the aquarium. It is not uncommon that plants under this form of
lighting will grow quite quickly and will require you to cut them back. I
recommend that you plant the back and the side with dense plants and leave the
top open. In this case, you may not need to cover the dense area of plants. Fish
hardly ever jump where there are dense plants.
                        Tropical Fish Secrets

In addition to the lighting, the filter is an important aspect of your aquarium. It is
the filer that will remove leftover food, fish feces and decaying plant material. A
filter will improve the quality of the water and make it look cleaner. Remember
that water with some debris is far less harmful than crystal clear water over
loaded with waste products.

Most filters are placed inside the tank and can be used for small aquariums or
your breeding or quarantine tank. There are also larger filters can be used if you
do not want to use an outside filter. Inside filters can be hidden by the plants
without any damage to their functioning. One drawback of an inside filter is that
cleaning the filter may disrupt the inhabitants of the tank. Most inside filters
come with an air pump. Some new model come equipped with cassettes of filter
material so that you don’t have to take the entire filter out of the water.

Outside filter are used when you don’t want to clutter the inside to of the tank.
They can be mounded behind the tank or put lower in a cabinet out of sight. It is
for this reason that outside filters are generally bigger. Small outside pumps are
run by air pumps and large ones are usually run with water pumps. These types
of filters create a strong current and clean the water. They work best for tanks
that are 30 inches or 80 cm. Outside filters are also better for aquariums that are
highly populated.

There are three types of filters- biological slow filters, under gravel and
mechanical fast filters.
Biological slow filters break down the bacteria and algae in the tank after two
weeks. The organisms will break down the waste products. Remember that
bacteria needs oxygen to survive. Many filters will only filter the first 2-4 inches.
It is best to use a filter that passes through 2 inches thick with a large surface.
Under-gravel filters are also good. The water is pumped underneath and grated
on the bottom of the aquarium. Bottom heating causes the water to flow up
through the gravel. You filter should be large enough that the water flows
through it every hour. Remember that the efficiency can drop by 50 %. This is
important to remember when you are purchasing a filter.
Mechanical fast filters are water pumps with small filter that will remove large
particles or debris in floating water. They are good for heavily populated tanks.
They are no substitute for slow filters or for regular tank upkeep. The filter does
require some maintenance. It needs to be washed and replaced frequently. If
you do not do the general upkeep, bacteria will form on the filter and it will slow
down the filtering system. This defeats the purpose of the filter.
There are two reasons for the filter. One is to alter the water and the other is to
remove harmful substances from the water. Gravel is a house for bacteria.
Polyester fiber takes small particles out of the water. Charcoal draws toxic
substances from the water. Substances will soon break down in a charcoal filter.
Due to this charcoal filters need to be changed more frequently. You will need to
change them every 3-4 days. It is good to keep charcoal on hand. It is a good
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idea when you first set up your tank to filter the water through the charcoal which
will help to remove harmful substances.
Okay, so we have talked about the kinds of filter and but how do we take care of
How often you need to clean the filter will depend of a lot of factors. It depends
on the filter itself, the quality of your water, the size and number of fish in the
tank, and the type of food that you feed them. If you are using a biological filter,
it will take 2-3 months before they are 100% effective. If your tank is
overcrowded or your fish are overfed, your filter will need to be cleaned
frequently. Mechanical filters need to be changed as soon as the water gets
slimy or the flow of the water is reduced. Charcoal should be cleaned every 3-4
days. (Tip: wash your filter in cold or lukewarm water. Hot water kills bacteria). If
the pump stops, it could be due to the filter. In the case, take out the filter and
clean it thoroughly. Bacteria will die in oxygen. It is important to that if you do
not clean your filter in the tank, you fish may die within a short time after
cleaning. It is important to note that filters are not a substitute for cleaning the
tank. It is still important to clean the tank regularly. All healthy aquariums have
plants in them. Don’t underestimate the contribution of plants in your tank.
Remember that the purposes for filters are not just to keep the water clean but to
keep the water moving. In a tank with no filters or aeration, the bacteria forms
quickly which creates more carbon dioxide and can suffocate the fish. For this
reason, it is quite important to get rid of the carbon dioxide. One way that is quite
effective is to install the filter so that the outlets are at water surface. This will
allow the water to have contact with the air which gives off carbon dioxide and
the oxygen is then carried into the aquarium. You filter can also be run on an air
pump. The air will run through the stones in the filter. This will create a larger
exchange for gases between the water and the air. Air stones should be
changed every 3- 4 months because they will clog and start to discharge large
bubbles. Larger bubbles will cause the pump to work harder.
Arrange the air stone and the filter outlets so that there are no warm or cool
spots. The best way to determine how the water moves in your tank is to
sprinkle a bit of peat on the water. This will tell you the changes that you need to
make in the tank.
Tip: the more plants that you have in the tank the more carbon dioxide they will
take on. I would recommend that your tank resemble a botanical underwater
garden with the fish being used to highlight the garden. Most people do the
opposite. What happens in that case is that the tank is overcrowded with fish
and the plants because covered with algae and barely survive. You also need to
have a strong aeration then in the tank to support the fish and the plants and to
get rid of the excess carbon dioxide that is produced.

Okay.. so, we have discussed the equipment that you will need. I know what you
are thinking. Is that it? Is that all I need? NO, you will need a few more things
before you can set up the tank.
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You will need a thermometer. You can ones that have suction cups so, you can
put them on the wall or you can put them at the bottom of the tank in the gravel.
The choice is yours.
You will also need attachments for your filter and aeration system. The air is
moved through plastic tubes. It is necessary to attach clamps and valves to
regulate the flow. The items should be made of plastic not metal. The metal
could be poisonous to the fish.
I would also recommend that you invest in tubiflex strainers and feeding rings.
You install them in the corner of the aquarium and they are used to prevent dry
food from spreading throughout the tank.
You will need a fish net to catch your fish coming cleaning time. Get a big net.
The smaller nets will require you to chase your fish more and will cause more
disruptions to the rest of the tank. You can also use a glass trap. This creates
less disturbance and the fish are not able to see you coming behind them. They
will know something is behind them but they will not be able to determine what
that is.
Plant tongs are also useful. They will come in handy when you need to thin out
the plants or remove dead debris from them. You will also need a hose about 5
feet by ½ inch in diameter. If you have tested your tap water and it is suitable for
your tank, you will want a hose that is long enough to reach from your tank to the
sink. Depending on the size of your tank, the larger the tank, the easier it is to fill
using the tap. It is a pain in the butt to carry large buckets throughout the house
to fill up the tank…
You will also need 2 buckets. Be sure to mark them for tank use only. It is
important that they are not used for anything else. Even the smallest amount of
soap or detergent will be harmful to your fish. A bucket with a spout is your best
bet. The front panel of the tank should be cleaned using a window wiper.
Preferably with felt or razor edge. Brass with scratch the surface. IF you are
planning to photograph your fish, this will not be in your best interest. Most algae
will be able to be wiped off with the foam rubber side. The rougher side of the
wiper will remove the calcium and the tougher algae. Other option is a wiper with
a magnet. The magnet is placed inside the tank and will clean as it moves. It is
important to note if you are going to use household utensils to clean the tank.
Remember to place them in hot water for a few hours. IF they still smell of
plastic after that, they are not acceptable for aquarium use. Plastic utensils give
off a toxic substance which will be harmful to your fish. Once you have installed
all the equipment, you are ready to decorate the tank.

                Setting Up and Decorating the Aquarium

The back wall
It is not necessary to decorate the back wall but some fish might feel safer if it is
protected. The aquarium will also appear more peaceful and deeper if the back it
covered. The easiest thing to do is to paint it back or grey. You can make a
backdrop behind it and mount it behind the aquarium. Remember that the back
wall will get covered with algae and the decorations may vanish out of sight after
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a while. You want to keep in mind that some surfaces will increase the amount
of algae and will provide a hiding place for the less aggressive fish and newly
hatched fish. You can remove the back wall all together and build a natural
backdrop out of rocks and sand. Do not use cement if you are going to do this.
Cement is poisonous to the fish. You can use epoxy which will stick eth rocks
together. It will look natural and assembled. You can pour the sand over the
rocks to make them look more natural.
Another option is to buy back walls. They are made of polyurethane and they are
quite light. They are glued or taped to the tank until they have soaked up enough
water. They are sold in thick sheets so you can shape them the way you want
and there is no space between the glass and the sheets. This is good because
no fish can get caught between them.

Floor covering and rocks
The bottom of the tank should no have any calcium. Calcium makes the water
harder. You can buy gravel of different coarseness. Finer sand is good for
circulation. Coarser gravel allows for more debris and is harder to siphone off.
The bottom should be 2 or 3 inches thick. For smaller tanks, you can buy gravel
at the pet store. Be sure to rise off the gravel before you put it in the tank. Be
sure to rinse the gravel until the water is clear in the bucket. For larger tanks,
you will have to go to a builder’s supply. This is the cheapest way to get 100
pounds or more of quartz gavel. The disadvantage with quartz gavel is that it is
light in colour and it reflects the light. Most fish like dim light. You could mix
darker gravel with the quartz gavel.
IF you are thinking of adding rocks to your tank, you will want calcium free rocks
such as igneous rocks, granite, gabbro or basalt. Most slate is usually safe.
Sediment rocks may or not be calcium free. Be sure to check before you
introduce it to the aquarium. Limestone, such as marble, is never good for your
tank or aquarium. Red and brown lava are great to decorate the bottom of the
tank. The look of the aquarium will amaze you if your tank has a black back drop
with reddish sand and lava rocks set of with plants and colourful fish. Remember
to scrub the rocks thoroughly before you put them in your tank.
If you want to put in rocks that you have collected, be sure to test whether they
are calcium free or not. How do you know?? IF you drop a bit of hydrochloric
acid on the rock and bubbles form, then there is calcium. You will want to
arrange the tank with shallowness at the front and deepness at the back. The
shallowness will allow people to see into the tank easier. Terraces on the bottom
make the tank look better but remember that if you do this with a variety of
colours, they will not stay in place long due to the motion of the water.
Flagstones work better if you are looking to create this effect. If you want strong
and healthy plants, you will have to add fertilizer to the bottom gravel. This is the
time to do it.

Other decorative Materials
You can buy tree roots and driftwood at the pet store. You will want wood that
has nothing left on it to rot. The wood should be boiled in water until it becomes
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saturated and does not float. Tree roots are good for fish that want to hide. Fish
with suction mouths will hang off the driftwood pieces. Coconuts shells are
enjoyable for cave-dwelling fish but remember to boil them in hot water as well.
IF you were thinking of flower pots, you will need to soak them for a day in 2
gallons of water and peat. Old clay pots do not need to soak. The best advice I
can give you is to fit the decorations of the tank, to the needs of the fish. This will
enhance your tank. This is another reason why at the beginning I suggested that
you know what kind of fish you want to put in your tank. The behaviour of your
fish will dictcate how you arrange your tank. If they are territorial, you may want
to build some partitions. In an open aquarium, the big fish will soon terrorize the
small fish. If you fish swim in schools, you will want a large area for them to
swim and the decorations should be at the back of the aquarium.

Scarlares need driftwood to hide behind whereas bottom fish like to dwell among
the rocks. Labyrinth fish like floating plants to build their nests in. Remember
that the look of the tank will depend on how you decorate it. A dramatic contrast
will not only catch the eye of anyone passing by the tank but will also provide an
environment for a variety of different fish.

Filling the tank with water once you have decorated, you can fill the tank with
water. If you want plants, fill the tank one third full before you plant. This will
prevent leaves and stems from drying out. Be sure to add fertilizer for your
plants and not to pour in the water that it stirs up the gravel. You will want to fill
the tank slowly. It is best if you fill it with a bucket or a watering can. You can
then control the rate that the water comes in. IF you are going to use the faucet,
be sure that you don’t do anything else. Tanks can fill quickly. You don’t want a
big mess on the floor that could have been prevented.

So you want to put plants in the aquarium. Where do you start?????
Most plants are flowering plants with roots, stems, leaves and blossoms with the
expectation of ferns and moss. Plants from still waters are more delicate. Plants
from moving water are more robust. Remember that the slightest dehydration
will cause them to wither. In order for them to live, they need oxygen
continuously. They will produce carbon dioxide. Just a quick reminder from your
Grade 9 Science class, they need a phonsynthetic nutrition which consists of
energy from sunlight and chlorophyll, they absorb water and minerals and carbon
dioxide. They turn them into sugar which is converted to starches and cellulose.
If plants have enough sunlight and carbon dioxide, they will produce more
oxygen than they need. If it is dark and insufficient lighting, the plants will
compete with the fish for oxygen.

Water plants such as Egeria Densa can really only live underwater. The roots
serve more for holding onto the ground than to absorb nutrients. It is not
uncommon that they dispense their roots and just float in the water. They are
extremely thin and the nutrients can be absorbed from the water directly by the
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Swamp plants will adapt to change much easier. The most common plant is
Nomaphila stricta. They are able to grow beyond the water surface. These
plants will nourish themselves mostly through roots and the leaves. The leaves
above the water will be tougher than the leaves under the water.

Plants provide food, refuges, territorial borders and spawning grounds. In
addition to these, they also improve the water quality and absorb harmful
nitrogen compounds. They also keep the bottom of the tank from rotting
because they give off oxygen. They might be a bit of work but the benefits that
you will receive will far out weigh the effort that they require. When you are
selecting your plants, it is important to know what kinds of plants will foster in the
environment that you have created. You need to take the same things into
consideration for your plants that you would take for your fish. Water is the most
important. You should know what plants do well in hard or soft water and what
temperature they will thrive best in.

When you bring your plants home, they will be in wet paper so that they don’t dry
out. You will want to place them in a bowl and cover them with newspaper. The
newspaper will soak up the water and keep the leaves out of the wet water. You
will want to disinfect your plants. You can do this by putting them light purple
solution of potassium permanganate or water with 1 teaspoon of alum per quart
of water. Leave the plants in the solution for 10 minutes. Remove all the injured,
wilted or damaged leaves. Healthy leaves are light in colour and snap off when
bent. Dead ones are brown and limp. Take a pair of scissors and trim the roots
by one-third to one-half. This will stimulate growth. Be careful not to bruise them.
Now you are ready to plant them. Poke a hole in the bottom of the material and
place the roots as deep as you can facing downwards. Fill the hole in and place
the sand gently around the plant. Now pull up the plant so that the crown of the
plant is barely visible. This will hold the plant in place as it grows. You will need
to know how your plant will grow to have the best results. For example,
Cryptocoryne plants and Valisneria spiralis roots grow straight down and need to
be planted in a deep, narrow hole. Acorus genus have creeping roots and
should be planted on a slant. Microsorium pteropus and other ferns need to be
planted deep enough to show the green root top. You can also tie you these
plants to rocks or clay where they will set their roots. Egeria and Cabombia and
Nomaphila sprout roots at the stem nodes. Hold them down with stones or glass
clamps until they have grown roots.

It is important not to crowd the plants. The distance between them will depend
on their size. Top rooting plants should be spaced wider than deep rooting
plants. In a large tank, it would be helpful to make a diagram of the tank as you
see it. This will help you in your planning stages. The largest plants belong in
the back and the front should have low ground cover plants. Plants should be
arranged in the same kind rather than mixing different types of plants. They
should also be planted in clusters or groups. Red and brown plants show up
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nicely against green ones and light green against dark green. You should put the
larger growing plants at the end that receives more light. Fine-leafed plants
require a lot of light. You will be able to remove leaves that are infected with
algae without is showing up in the overall look of the tank.

You will need to provide you plants with some type of fertilizer. There are a few
types of fertilizers- liquid and tablets. The tablets are pressed into the bottom
material near the plants. How often you need to fertilize will depend on what
product you use. You will also need to change the water when you are fertilizing
or your plants will refuse to grow. This is because the fertilizer has different
nutrients that are used up at different rates. If you use the same water, the
nutrients might be too highly concentrated and will end up dieing. If you thought
about your plants when you set up the aquarium, you can use a time-released
fertilizer in the bottom of the gravel. You should also put heating cables so that
the water flows steadily. If you have done this, you will only need to add a liquid
fertilizer periodically.
For plants like Crypotocryne, you will have to add iron. Some just add a paper
clip to the filter. Iron is definitely necessary when you are dealing with tropical
plants. The most important nutrient is carbon dioxide. If there is not enough
carbon dioxide in the water, your plants will not survive. A safe way to add
carbon dioxide is to use pressurized bottles that are electronically controlled and
give off steady amounts of carbon dioxide.

Problems with Plants
There are some problems that can arise. You should check your plants from
time to time. New shoots or bud mean that there is growth. Hole and dents are
usually from fish nibbling on them. If you plants lose colour or fray and become
transparent that is entirely different.
If the plants turn yellow and then glassy, that is an iron deficiency. Just add iron
or a complete fertilizer.
Yellow leaves with green veins indicate a deficiency in trace elements especially
manganese. This could be due to overfeeding.
Brown and black discoloration is caused by overfeeding with iron.
Some plants are able to draw carbon dioxide out of the water and some can’t.
That is why you can not have both types of plants in the same tank. If the pH of
the water rises above 9 or 10, the water becomes acidic and the fish may die
from alkaline toxicity.

The most common disease that plants get is called Cryptocoryne rot. It looks like
the leaves have holes from nibbling but within a few days; the plants will collapse
and rot. It is causes by excess nitrates. The excess nitrate cause toxic
compounds and the plants die. This is due to long overdue change in the water,
the replacement of an old, worn-out fluorescent tube, and infrequent addition of
These can be easily prevented. Keep the environment constant. The nitrate can
be kept low by regular water changes. Add a well-balanced fertilizer after the
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water is changed. Replace the fluorescent lights regularly so that they are not
subjected to changes in the lighting.

There are always some algae present in your tank. As soon as the environment
in the tank changes, algae will thrive. Blue-green algae is the oldest form of
algae. They form a dense blue-green, violet or brownish-black layer on the
bottom. They will also be on the plants, rocks, etc. You can strip them off with
your hand or siphon them off. It is important to get it all off the surface because
they will continue to thrive as long as there is a trace of it present.
Red algae look like dirty-green threads or beards from plants, wood and rocks.
They are just as persistent as blue-green algae. The good news is that Simese
Flyng Fox enjoy eating this kind of algae.
Brown algae and gravel algae grow into a thin brown layer. This is usually
caused by not enough light and oxygen. Just add more light and they will go
away. The plants will produce enough nutrients once the light is introduced.
Green algae will be light green and will float in the aquarium and make it opaque.
It will sometimes appear in newly set up aquariums when the fish are overfed. It
will vanish in a few days or you can introduce water fleas. Green algae only
exists in tanks that are clean and well fertilized so, they are a good sign. The
algae can be removed by hand or you can siphon it off. The drawback of them is
they create webs around the plants which will decrease the amount of light the
plants get. If you are going to remove them by hand, be sure not to pull out the
plants. Some fish do like to eat the algae but it will grow faster than the fish can
eat. You may need a chemical killer. Follow the directions when you are using
these products.
The easiest way to prevent algae is to ensure enough plants in the tank in the
beginning. In a sparsely planted tank, algae will grow. Start out with a lot of
inexpensive plants and replace them as you go a long. This will ensure that you
don’t have an algae problem.

Snails will eat the leftover food that t the fish refuse to eat. You will rarely have to
purchase these because you will find snail eggs usually on the leaves of your
plants or they will get in with live food.
In warm water tanks, there are three kinds of snails. Ramshorn snails are found
in most tanks. They will not damage plants unless they are in large numbers.
Cabombia aquatica are sometimes subject to their attacks.
Malayan snails live in the bottom of the tank. They only emerge at night. During
the day, they will hide in the gravel. They do not eat plants but they will dig in the
bottom of the gravel and can cause some rotting at the bottom of the aquarium.
The South American will grow almost the size of escargots. They eat fish food
and plants. If there is enough food, they will not harm the plants tin the tank.
They are rare to be found in pet stores. In rare cases, you might add mud snails.
Mud snails or Limnaea stagnalis will feed on plants and may carry some
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diseases. If you find that your tank is being taken over by snails, put a scalded
lettuce leaf in the tank. The snails will collect on it. You can then remove it from
the tank. If you do this once a week or once a month, you will be able to hold
them in check. Tip: Puffer Fish and large Cichlids like to eat snails that you
The positive thing that snails bring is that they are a good indicator of the water
quality in the tank. If they move around actively on the bottom and eat clear
through the algae, you have nothing wrong with the water in the tank. If they lie
there, then there are some toxic substances in the water. If Malyayan snails
remain above the surface during the day, it means that the bottom is rotting. If
snails die off in a short period of time, it is time to do a chemical analysis of the
aquarium water.

                                  Types of fish

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Common Name/s: Asian Stone Catfish, Asian Moth Catfish
Scientific Name: Hara jerdoni
Origin: Asia (specifically India and Bangladesh)
Natural Environment: Slow moving streams with sandy bottoms.

Size: under 1/2in or 3.8cm
pH: 6-8
Temperature: 68-75 F or 18-24 C
Diet: Bloodworms (prefers live, but will take frozen), sinking catfish pellets, algae
Temperament: Extremely reclusive and shy... hides during the day and comes
out at night to search for food.
Tank Requirements: Although it is very small, the Hara jerdoni requires extremely
stable water parameters. IMO, a 10g is a good minimum size for these catfish.
They are also very social animals, so they prefer to be in groups. Sand is best for
substrate, but other small grained substrates will work just as well. Driftwood is a
big plus for these catfish because they love clinging on to the underside during
the day.

Anostomus Anostomus Striped Anostomus or Striped Headstander
Common Name: Bandit Cory
Other Common Name: Masked corydoras
Scientific Name: Corydoras metae
Family: Callichthyidae
Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
Origin: Colombia
Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
Social: Peaceful
Lifespan: 5 years
Tank Level: Bottom dweller
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
Diet: Omnivore, eats most foods
Breeding: Egg layer
Care: Easy to Intermediate
Temperature: 72-79 F(22-26 C)

Common Names: Banjo Catfish, Guitarrita (meaning ‘little guitar’)
Scientific Name: Bunocephalus coracoideus
Family: Bunocephalinae
Origin: Peru (also found in Brazil and Bolivia)
Max Size: 15cm / 6”
Care: Very easy to look after fish, needs a min. of 15G though very inactive. Not
too fussed about water parameters. Recommended would be pH between 6.0 &
8.0 with a temperature of around 26C. Peaceful with all tank mates, though will
eat fry. Sand bottom is preferred in their aquarium, seeing as they hide
throughout the day by burrowing themselves underneath the sand. Not too
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densely planted, as they can and will uproot plants.
Feeding: Easy feeders usually, will only feed after lights go off. Variety of
bloodworms, krill and other types of meaty food is recommended, though catfish
pellets are often accepted as well. I’ve actually caught mine eat flakes once in a

Sexing: No real difference, but said that female banjo cats have a slightly
rounder stomach, are larger and tend to be darker in colouration. None of this is
fact, just peoples opinions based on their experience.
Breeding: It is said that banjo cats breed in groups and will lay between 3000
and 5000 eggs overnight. These eggs will be placed in a place where they feel
comfortable, often under flat surfaced rocks (like slate) or underneath plant
leaves. Eggs should hatch after approximately 3 days; fry can be fed on usual fry
foods like baby brine shrimp and grindal worms.
Comments: If you want a fish that is out and about and easy to see this is not
the fish for you. Being nocturnal fish, they hide in the sand all day long (you’re
lucky to spot their gills) and will come out for food at night. In the 6 months I’ve
had mine now, even with moonlight on only I’ve only ever seen them swim once.
Though these fish do well in community tanks, it’s not recommended to put them
in with aggressive feeders. Banjo cats themselves are very ‘slow’ feeders and
are not likely to catch enough food when all is eaten within minutes. Feeding
should also occur after the lights go off. For anyone who considers getting banjo
catfish, I advice you check up on their stomach once every 3 or 4 days (at least
for the first weeks) to make sure they get enough food and don’t starve to death.

Common Name/s: Bristlenose Catfish
Scientific Name: Ancistrus dolichopterus
Origin: Amazon River, South America
Maximum Size: 4.5" (12cm)
Care: Bristelnose catfish are not a strictly nocturnal fish. These algae eaters
establish territories around caves, pieces of wood and other hiding places found
in tanks. These fish can become territorial and aggressive towards other
members of the ancistrus family and rarely towards bottom dwelling fish such as
corydoras catfish. They can tolerate a wide range conditions but generally prefer
soft, acidic water which matches the conditions they are suited to in the wild. It is
thought that these fish rasp on wood, so having a piece or two of bogwood or
driftwood would be ideal.
Feeding: These fish eat algae which form on the tank glass, decorations and
gravel, but their diet must be supplemented with meaty foods such as frozen
bloodworms, vegetables such as zucchini and cucumber and sinking pallets.
Sexing and Breeding: An easy fish to breed. They mature at around 3" - 4"
these fish can be easily sexed by the amount of bristles on their nose, males
have a lot of bristles whereas the females have small amount. These fish breed
in the males cave; orange eggs are laid by the female and protected by the male,
who may not be seen for days, until the eggs hatch. Once the eggs have hatched
the male will try keep them together in a group, inside his cave, but the fry will
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slowly become escape and enter the tank. Feed the fry small foods.
Comments: A lovely catfish which is kept by both new and experienced fish
keepers. It is a common fish and is almost always available.

Common Name: Bronze Cory, Albino Cory (for the albino variety)
Scientific Name: Corydoras Aeneus
Origin: Trinidad (from Planet Catfish)
Average size: 3 inches
Care: These cute critters couldn't be easier to look after. All they really need is
good water (as with any fish), somewhere to hide and food. Oh yes, and other
cories, as they like to be in groups of 6+. Bronze cories also come in albino, and
are one of the few readily available albinos on the market. They are very
peaceful fish, and will never nip any other fish. They can also be kept in cooler
water, providing they are properly acclimatized (as most you find are kept in
tropical conditions). Not to fussy about water prams, and are a fairly hardy
beginners fish.
Feeding: As with most cories, anything. Suggested foods include- flakes, algae
pellets/wafers, bloodworm, cucumber, courgette. Just make sure the food
actually reaches the bottom.
Sexing and Breeding:
Sexing- Females are larger than the males, and grow larger as they become full
of eggs. There is also a difference in the fins, but this is less reliable as you
cannot always see the fins.
Breeding- Generally easy to breed. Basically-
1. Condition the cories for about a week with live food until the females are laden
with eggs.
2. Do a 20 ish percent water change on the tank with cooler water.
3. Leave them.
The cories *should* go into spawning behaviour, which involves the T position.
The eggs are laid on the sides of the tank, the floor... Anywhere really. After the
fry hatch, feed on MW, BBS, Liquifry, or whatever, until big enough to take flake.
Viola! Your own baby cories. For a detailed account, check the profile on other

Common Name/s: Clown Pleco
Scientific name: Panaque maccus
Origin: Orinoco Basin (Venezuela), Rio Las Marinas (Venezuela) and Colombian
Llanos. Variants of the species have also been found in Amazon Basin of Brazil.
Maximum Size: 5" (8cm)
Care: If you want to see your fish on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis the
clown pleco probably is not for you. The Clown Pleco is found in root structures
on the banks and river beds of its habitat. Where, due to its coloration, it is
difficult to find. The Clown is a wood eater, so bogwood is a must. It is territorial
and will stake a claim to areas at the base of its favorite driftwood or a near by
cave, but they do prefer to be kept in groups so a tank large enough for them to
have their own territories is best. At feeding times the Clown pleco will defend its
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food and territory like mad, chasing away any intruders. Also keep an eye on the
nitrate levels in the tank and keep them low. I would suggest a minimum tank
size of 25 gallons which can house 2-3 specimens; this will allow each specimen
a separate territory. As they are not quarrelsome they may be kept with most fish
species, however, beware that some individual fish have been known to show
aggression towards smaller species.
Feeding: Wood is required and, in addition, vegetables (zucchini, cucumbers,
etc.) are needed. Sinking pellets as well as algae wafers should also be fed to
this fish. The clown pleco will NOT clean your tank of algae for you so do not get
this fish if you want an algae eater.
Sexing and Breeding: Unknown. The sexes are virtually impossible to
Comments: The clown pleco has become popular with hobbyists over the last
few years, because of low prices and its small size. Unfortunately many people
confuse the needs and behavior of this fish with that of many other members of
the pleco family. It is a hardy, easy to care for fish. This fish is peaceful, but do
NOT buy it as an algae eater.

Common Name/s: None
Scientific Name: Corydoras leucomelas
Origin: Yarinacocha, cutoff lake at right bank of Rio Pacaya, Loreto, Peru (From
planet catfish)
Maximum Size: 2”
Temperature: 25 - 30 C
PH: 5.6 - 7
Feeding: Flake food, sinking wafers, and most Live/Frozen. I’ve found
Bloodworms, Brine Shrimp to be some of their favorites and, what fish wouldn't
turn their nose away from them.
Sexing: As with most cory's the female of a species grows a little fuller and longer
in the body than males. (To be updated as soon as I have more info)
Breeding: The same as with most cory's. (To be updated as soon as I have more
Comments: From what I have noticed from mine they are very peaceful fish and,
full of caricature. Well suited for a community tank.

Common Name: None.
Scientific Name: Corydoras Undulatus
Origin: South America
Average size: About 2 inches.
Care: Need to be kept in groups of 3+, as with all cories. Six or over is optimum.
Care is the same as all cories. These are a fairly rare type, so check you don't
have a similar species e.g., corydoras elegans. They like to hide, so provide
plenty of cover. Mine like to hide behind the row of plants at the back of the tank.
They can be kept with anything that won't eat them. They are quick little things,
so avoid moving them (believe me, playing 'catch the cory', even when you're
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only trying to get two isn't fun.).
Feeding: They will eat anything really. At the moment mine are eating betta flake
(I forgot to buy anything else). Just make sure any flake you feed them is soaked,
this will let it sink to the bottom. They keep the bottom fairly clean, but don't use
this as an excuse to overfeed. Mine will also eat cucumber, peas, bloodworms...
As I said, anything.
Sexing and Breeding:
Sexing- The females are usually larger than the males. Also the colouring is
different- The males have about 3 horizontal stripes with the top two joined
together with vertical bars, the females look a lot like bronze cories. Spawning is,
as far as I know, the same as other cories- condition the fish with live food, do a
cool water change and allow spawning. However, I have only found a few
breeding accounts, so will hopefully update in a few weeks when I've tried it
myself. If you want a more detailed account, see the profile on the spotted cory.

Common name/s: Crystal eyed catfish, black devil catfish
Scientific name: Hemibagrus wyckii
Origin: SE Asia
Maximum size: 28"
Care: A large tank and equally large filtration are a must for keeping this large
growing catfish, a minimum tank size of 120 gallons (5x2x2') is recommended
with two external canister filters or a sump style filter. The fish isn’t fussy of water
conditions provided extremes of hardness and pH are avoided, temperature
should be kept between 22 and 25 centigrade (72-76f). A fish for the species
tank only, the fish becomes increasingly aggressive with age and will attack and
kill any living creature it shares a tank with. A large rock or piece of bogwood
should be used as a place for the fish to hide behind.
Feeding: Large meaty frozen foods and pellets for carnivorous fish will all be
accepted as will large live foods, once over 12" the fish should only be fed one
large meal once a week.
Sexing and breeding: Unknown

Common name: Electric catfish
Scientific name: Malapterurus electricus
Family: Malapteruridae
Origin: throughout Central Africa
Maximum size: up to 39" but usually no larger than 12"
Care: This is not a very active cat so doesn’t need as much space as some of
the other cats such as pims, although due to the size of this fish I would not keep
them in anything less than a 48"x30"x24"deep tank. They need to be provided
with plenty of hiding places such as logs/bogwood, tubes etc, dim lighting is
preferred. When maintaining the tank, a great deal of care is needed not to stress
the fish as these can deliver a nasty shock. I had one at 3" which I got 2 shocks
off. It is not really dangerous apart from people with heart problems and young
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Feeding: Blood worm and chopped mussel are fine whilst young but as they
grow, they prefer meaty foods such as lance fish/smelt.
Breeding: I have never heard of this fish being bred in captivity but there are
reports that it is a cave spawner in the wild.

Comments: So how is the electricity produced?
When observed through a microscope, the electric organ is seen to be composed
of a series of disc-like modified muscle cells called electroplates, stacked in piles
like coins, embedded in a jelly like substance and held together by connective
tissue to form a tube.
Nerve fibrils connect to one surface of each electroplate, and many blood vessels
supply the jelly-like material.
Although the electrical potential of each electroplate is very small, the “wiring” of
the plates in series, and the columns in parallel, means that a much higher
voltage can be produced.

Common name/s: Featherfin Catfish, Featherfin Syno
Scientific name: Synodontis eupterus
Family: Mochokidae
Origin: Africa
Maximum size: 8"
Care: The minimum tank size for this fish would be a 30 gallon. Quite a tough
fish. Water parameters are irrelevant as long as extremes of pH and hardness
are avoided. It is quite peaceful, and most fish are safe with it. It has been
reported, however, that they may attack slower moving fish and are slime-
suckers, especially towards bichirs. I have not personally had this problem with
them, however. You can put several of this species in a tank that is large enough
and has sufficient hiding spots. Large pieces of wood with many holes or caves
are perfect for this purpose.
Feeding: Sinking pellets and bloodworms are taken with relish. May also eat
algae tablets, but this should not be used as its staple diet. Nocturnal, but in my
experience, will come out at anytime of the day to feed.
sexing and breeding: Sexing requires taking the fish out of the water and viewing
its anal region. Breeding unknown.
Comments: Juveniles and adults have very different colourations. The juvenile
has a brown splotchy pattern while adults have black spots. The juvenile of this
species has occasionally been confused with the upside down catfish, due to its
similar patterning.

Common name: Flagtailed Catfish
Scientific name: Dianema urostriatum
Family: Callichthyidae
Origin: Brazil & other northern regions in South America in rivers and pools.
Maximum size: 5"
Care: The flagtailed catfish is a peacful community cat that doesn’t grow too big.
You will find they can go with almost any other fish which makes them a perfect
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"larger" cat to keep. They are bottom and middle water swimmers that you will
find basking on a rock a lot, whilst swimming about together in the middle regions
of the water.

- Minimum Tank size would be 20G for a pair or 30G for 3+.
- Can be quite fussy with water conditions so check your LFS parameters against
your own and acclimatize them carefully.
- They like rocks or large plants to sit on / in, along with some caved areas.
Feeding: Seem to take very kindly to feeding on catfish pellets and anything else
they can forage for on the bottom of the tank. A bit of vegetables is always
appreciated and keeps their colours bright.
Breeding: Similar to that of a cory. Requires Wet/Dry season simulation and
feeding on live food or possibly frozen bloodworm throughout.
Sexing: Females are much fatter than the males, easily distinguishable (unless
yours are very greedy and are all fat!).
Comments: I Have 2 of these and they seem very good friends, so its safe to say
keep them in groups. It is usually recommended in groups of 5+ if you have the
space. Never caused or been the subject of any problems, an ideal community

Common name/s: Frogmouth catfish
Scientific name: Chaca chaca
Family: Chacidae
Origin: India, Sumatra, Borneo
Maximum size: 8"
Care: Caring for this fish couldn’t be easier, as the fish is an out and out piscavor
species tank is recommended and its only requirements are a large flat rock and
a sand substrate. The fish is unfussy of water parameters as long as extremes of
hardness and pH are avoided, regular tank maintenance will keep the fish in
good condition, and a temperature of 22 to 24 centigrade is preferred (71-75f).
Frogmouths can swallow prey nearly their own size and so are recommended for
a species tank only; keeping with larger fish will affect the fishes ability to hunt
Feeding: FISH! This is one of the very few predators I was unable to convert to
frozen foods, unless you are happy to feed live fish then this fish is not for you.
As with all predatory catfish frogmouths only need to be fed one good meal a
Breeding and sexing: Unknown
Comments: Frogmouths have the strange ability to lower the pH of the water
they live in, often to levels below 6. For this reason regular pH testing is
recommended so corrective water changes can be carried out.

Common name/s: Glass Catfish, Ghost Catfish, Asian Glass Catfish
Scientific name: Kryptopterus minor
Family: Siluridae
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Origin: Southeast Asia
Maximum size: 4"
Care: These fish can be rather sensitive to water conditions, and thus a matured
tank is required. When stocking this fish, put it in last. Soft and acidic water is
needed. Nitrate levels must be kept below 40ppm. Plants are important to make
this fish feel secure, or they may be extremely skittish. They can be put with
pretty much any other community fish, since it is very peaceful. Be careful that
there are no fish disturbing it, however, as it is easily stressed. Also, they must
be kept in groups of at least 3-4, as keeping too few of this species will make it
feel very insecure and stressed, and it will eventually perish.
Feeding: Live foods such as bloodworms are preferred. They may take prepared
food, but only do so when the food is moved by water current, or sinking. Mine
never go to the top to feed.
Sexing and breeding: Unknown
Comments: The glass catfish can turn a milky colour when stressed. When I first
bought mine, one of them turned white. It died the next day. The others, who
remained translucent, survived till today. Mine hang out at a single spot in the
tank all day, and when I redecorate the tank, they simply pick another spot and
stay there all day. An important point to note is that there is another species of
glass catfish which is similar, but not the same. Parailia pellucida is the other
species, and the difference lies in the spine. Kryptopterus minor has a
translucent spine, while parailia pellucida's spine is an opaque black.

Common name/s: Golden Nugget Pleco.
Scientific name: Baryancistrus sp.
Family: Loricariidae.
Origin: Amazon, Brazil, Rio Xingu.
Maximum size: 14" has been recorded but 8" is more likely in captivity, slow
Care: Excellent water conditions are required with a soft and slightly acidic PH
preferred. Provide caves and bogwood as a retreat for the fish during daylight
hours. They can be a territorial bottom dweller that will occupy a hiding place and
keep it to itself; with other Golden Nuggets they are highly territorial.
Feeding: These fish require a varied diet including meaty foods like Bloodworms,
they will also except more vegetable based foods like cucumber and algae
wafers. Try to feed before lights out with newly introduced fish to give them a
chance to feed as they are nocturnal.
Sexing and Breeding: Not detailed breeding reports, difficult to sex even in
mature adults.
Comments: A highly attractive fish that makes a shy but wonderful addition to a
tank. There are actually three species, L018, L081 and L177. L018 believed to
smaller than others reaching a maximum length of 6".

Common names/s: Brown hoplo, hoplo catfish
Scientific name: Hoplosternum thoracatum
Family: Callichthyidae
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Origin: Widespread throughout the Amazon basin
Maximum size: 7"
Care: A very easy fish to care for, the species is neither fussy of water
conditions, tank mates or food, tolerates temperatures from 18 to 28 Celsius. A
sand or smooth small grained gravel substrate should be used to protect the
fish’s barbels. The fish will not harm even the smallest fish and is the perfect
addition to any community tank over 30" in length, ideally the fish should be kept
in groups of 3 or more but can be kept singularly as well.
Feeding: All small foods will be taken, bloodworms and small catfish pellets are
especially enjoyed, the fish may even take flake from the surface.
Breeding: Spawning can be initiated by large water changes using cool water,
when in breeding condition the male displays a blue/purple sheen on the under
belly. The fish build a bubble nest using leaves and twigs in its construction, after
spawning takes place both parents should be removed to separate tanks as the
males become aggressive and both will eat eggs and fry.
Comments: Hoplosternum make good clean up tank mates for medium sized
and non aggressive predators like S.lima, H.platyrynchos, Osteoglossum and
Astronotus, their reasonable size and armor plating makes them unappetizing
and protects them from the occasional nip.

Common name/s: Ornate pim
Scientific name: Pimelodus ornatus
Family: Pimelodidae
Origin: South america, Amazon basin
Max size: 12"
Care: Not fussy of water parameters as long as extremes of hardness and pH
are avoided, a good regular tank maintenance schedule will keep the fish in top
condition, needs the temperature to be between 24 and 25 Celsius (75-77f). A
constantly active fast moving catfish the minimum sized tank to keep this fish
when adult would be 5x2x2' (120 gallon) though this size could easily handle a
small group of them (3-5 fish). Does best in a group but is quite happy kept as a
single specimen, as with all pimeloids the fish is a predator and fish less than half
its size will be eaten.
Feeding: All manor of prepared and frozen and fresh meaty foods will snapped
up greedily, the fish will eat enough in one feeding to last a week! Smaller
specimens can be fed on bloodworms until they are large enough to accept
larger foods. The main thing to remember is to keep the diet varied.
Breeding and sexing: Unknown
Comments: A must have for any pimeloid catfish enthusiast; this is the fish that
all other pims wish they were!

Common name: Oto / Otocinclus
Scientific name: Otocinclus Affinis
Origin: South America
Family: Loricariidae
Maximum size: 2 inches
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Care: Needs a tank of 10 gallons minimum. Keep at temperatures of 75-79f. A
peaceful community fish. An ideal algae eater for small aquariums. This catfish
likes to be in groups of three or more. A nice feature about this catfish is that it is
not as shy as most species. It can often be found stuck to the sides of the tank or
grazing rocks and leaves during the day. Do provide a few hiding places just in
case this fish feels like a little privacy. A dark colored substrate makes this cat
feel more comfortable.
Feeding: Algae wafers as well as some vegetables. Loves brown algae and
Sexing: Females are larger and rounder then males. Males have slightly longer
fins which aren't really noticeable at first glance.
Breeding: You need quite a few otos to get them "in the mood". They will lay
eggs on rocks and leaves. Keep the water slightly softer to encourage breeding.
Comment: Be very careful when acclimating this fish and carefully monitor its
care the first 2-3 weeks. Many people have a hard time acclimating the otos and
getting them to eat.

Common Name/s: Panda Cory
Scientific Name: Corydoras panda
Origin: Peru, South America
Maximum Size: 2”
Care: Panda Cories do the best in nice, clean water. The temperature should be
between 68-78, but I’ve always found them to do best in water that’s about 73-
75. They cannot tolerate very high temperatures for long periods of time. The p.H
should be around 6.5 - 7.4. with Panda Cories, They are one of the more delicate
types of Cories. Sand is best for them, as they can go about sifting through it,
and picking up bits of food. Fine gravel is also okay, but then some uneaten food
can fall through, and cause bad bacteria, which can cause infections in the
Cories. I’ve found you need to do water changes pretty often with Panda Cories,
more often then you need to for other Cories. On my tank that has Pandas in it, I
do water changes 2 times a week.
They also will enjoy caves, or pots, where they can hide.
Feeding: Flake food, sinking wafers, and most Live/Frozen/Freeze-dried foods.
I’ve found Bloodworms, Brine Shrimp and Tubifex Worms to be some of their
Sexing: Females are more robust. It’s easier to see this, when you view them
from the top. The male should look more streamlined. If you happen to catch
them breeding, the female will be the one carrying the eggs around.
Comments: Panda Cories are great little fish. They do well in community tanks,
and they are very peaceful.

Common Name: Peppered Corydoras
Scientific Name: Corydoras paleatus
Origin: South America
Average size: In captivity they can grow to be 3"
Care: Peppered cories do well in large groups because they are a schooling fish
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and can live up to several years. A group of five or six is good. A good water
temperature can range from 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. They are strictly
freshwater; adding salt water to a tank of cories will stress the fish. This type of
fish is also known as an armored catfish and is compatible with many other
species of freshwater tropical fish. One thing to keep in mind is that every
Corydoras catfish occasionally needs oxygen at the surface. They swim to the
top and swallow bubbles of air to absorb oxygen internally.
Feeding: Peppered cories are bottom feeders; they search the bottom for
leftover food. They will eat flake food that sinks to the bottom. Shrimp pellets, in
my own experience, has been the most popular food but they will eat most
bottom feeder pellets.
Sexing and Breeding: The female Peppered Cory Cats are usually larger and
more round than the males. In nature they breed when the rivers and streams
flood with fresh water. To breed in captivity do large and frequent water changes
and decrease the water temperature slightly. When breeding, the female groups
off with two males, she chooses which one she will mate with. The mating pair
will get into the "T" position, where the female faces the males on a 90 degree
angle to extract the male's sperm. The female will then lay the eggs throughout
the tank, underneath plant leaves and under rocks.

Common name/s: Pictus catfish, pim pictus, angelicus pim
Scientific name: Pimelodus pictus
Family: Pimelodidae
Origin: Amazon and its tributaries in Columbia and Peru
Maximum size: 6", 12" in the wild
Care: The fish is reasonably easy to care for, it tolerate a wide range of water
conditions and will thrive in all but the most alkaline and hard water, they are best
kept at temperatures from 22 to 25 Celsius. As with all pimeloid catfish the fish
can be sensitive to nitrate so regular maintenance should be done, water
changes of at least 25% weekly are recommended. Decorate the tank with many
pieces of bogwood and rocks to form caves and structures for the fish to rest
under. Pimelodus pictus is best kept in a group of 3 or more, if kept alone they
become shy and will hide but if kept in just pairs they will fight. this fish is a
predator and will consume any tank mates under 3".
Feeding: The fish is not fussy about food, most sinking aquarium foods will be
taken, and bloodworms and catfish pellets for carnivorous fish are
Breeding: Unknown
Comments: There are two subspecies of Piteous pictus in the hobby, the
Peruvian pictus which has large black spots and is the more commonly seen fish
and the Columbian which has many smaller spots and is generally smaller.

Common Names: Pygmy Cory, Pygmy Catfish
Scientific Name: Corydoras Pygmaeus
Origin: Brazil, in the Rio Maderia and its tributaries.
Maximum size: 1 inch
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Care: Pretty hardy and undemanding, pH of 6.5-7.4 but closer to neutral.
Temperature of 72-78. Prefers soft waters, and a shoal of at least 7 in my
opinion. Be sure not to house with larger or more aggressive fish, and add some
bog or driftwood into the tank. And will appreciate a fine gravel or sand substrate.
Feeding: Usually not to picky about foods. Brine shrimp, blood/tubifex worms,
flakes, shrimp pellets, and catfish pellets or wafers.
Sexing and breeding: Females tend to be a tad wider. Breeding occurs in
shoals, eggs are laid on plants.
Comments: Very peaceful (like all cory's). Will swim to low mid levels of the tank
and very active. Wonderful community fish to have (in my opinion they're better
and more fun to have than normal cory's). Some have a very low subdued
metallic shine on their body while some have a very bright shine.

Common name(s): Red-tailed catfish, Amazonian red-tailed catfish.
Scientific name: Phractocephalus hemiliopterus
Family: Pimelodidae
Origin: Parts of the amazon including deeper waters through to the flooded
forest in the rainy season.
Maximum size: Difficult to say the max size of these fish as it changes so much.
In the wild there are reports that 6-8' cats have been caught but 5' is more
common. In captivity however, 4' is a god size with a lot staying at 3’, a lot of
public aquaria have them to 3.5' - 4' some may have larger.
Care: As far as tropical fish go, they are actually quite a hardy fish and will adapt
to captive conditions well as long as a large well filtered aquarium is provided.
Eventually they will require a tank/pond of 10'x4'x4' min but larger the better for
these fish. As they grow they are best started in small 36" tanks when 2" long
and moved up to 4' then 6' tanks and then up to a pond. As for water chemistry,
anything between Ph6.5-7.5 and a temperature of 25-30C is fine. To keep
nitrates down twice weekly water changes may be required.
Feeding: While they're small (2"-6") they are fine on bloodworm, chopped cockle
and small pieces of lance fish/smelt daily or every other day. Once they get to 8"-
12" they should take whole lance fish/smelt twice a week. Once they hit 12" bits
of trout are best and fed once a week. I also add vitamins with this as mine won't
touch any green foods.
Breeding: Never bred in captivity although we are starting to see red-tail/tiger
shovelnose hybrids coming into the shops which IMHO are wrong. This is most
likely done using hormones.
Comments: This is not a good aquarium fish unless you have a fish house or
are can build a huge tank in your home with an equally large filter to match. They
should be left to public aquaria IMO. Never leave objects near the aquarium as
anything they can swallow will be eaten. In the past, they have eaten cameras,
sunglasses and mobile phobes not to mention tank mates.
This is a beautiful fish if kept properly.

Common name: Rubbernose Pleco / Bulldog Pleco / Rubberlip Pleco
Scientific name: Chaetostoma Milesi
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Origin: Columbia
Maximum size: 3 inches

Care: Needs a minimum tank size of 10 gallons, preferably bigger. Keep the
temperature from 75 to 80f. Likes to hide in caves and under rocks. Prefers
smooth stones and large rounded gravel. Very timid and only comes out at night
or when no one is in the room. Very nice fish but you'll only see them like once
every week or so. Keep with peaceful community fish.
Feeding: Algae wafers and veggies like cucumber, lettuce, and squash, some
live or frozen foods.
Sexing: Males have a longer dorcal fin then females and the striped pattern is
more noticeable.
Breeding: Unknown

Common name/s: Sailfin pim, painted catfish, saddle catfish, sailfin marbled
Scientific name: Leiarius pictus
Family: Pimelodidae
Origin: Amazon basin
Maximum size: 24" to 30"
Care: Rightfully known as a true tank buster this fish requires a large tank with
massive filtration, unless you have plans for a tropical pond or a tank of at least
8x3x3 feet then this is not the fish for you. The fish is not fussy of water
parameters but due to the fishes massive appetite water changes of at least 50%
weekly are recommended. Tank furniture needs to be large and robust and any
plants should be of the floating variety as the fishes large bulk will easily move
objects around the tank and uproot even the most well rooted plants. As with all
pimeloids the fish is a predator and any tank mates need to be equally large,
other large catfish arownas and cichlids such as oscars are suitable.
Feeding: This fish isn’t fussy and will accept all manor of large meaty foods;
juveniles will hover up catfish pellets and bloodworm like its going out of fashion.
As with all large predatory catfish once the fish has grown to 12" it should only be
fed one very large meal once a week.
Breeding and sexing: Unknown
Comments: The width of the tank is more important than the length for this fish;
if the tank is not wide enough the fish’s barbels will touch both sides of the tank
at once and cause the fish to try to forcibly leave the tank!

Common name/s: Shovelnose catfish, hockey stick catfish, duck bill catfish
Scientific name: Sorubim lima
Family: Pimelodidae
Origin: Found in north western and south western parts of the Amazon and its
tributaries, Venezeula to Paraguay
Maximum size: 12" is common in aquaria but some fish can grow to 20"
Care: Due to the fishes large adult size the minimum sized tank for a single
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specimen would be a 75g (48x18x18"), for groups of this fish allow a additional
20 gallons per fish. Can be kept in a wide range of water parameters providing
you avoid the extremes of hardness and pH, temperatures can be between 23
and 30 centigrade (74-86f). Regular large water changes (30 to 40% weekly) are
recommended to keep this fish in good condition. This fish is a predator and so
tank mates should be at least 4" to avoid being eaten.
Feeding: The fish is a predator and so should be fed a diet of meaty foods,
mussels, cockles, fish, earthworms and pellets for carnivorous fish should all be
accepted, smaller specimens can be fed bloodworms until they are big enough to
take larger food.
Breeding: Unknown
Sexing: Unknown
Comments: The fish has a couple of peculiar habits which may alarm those new
to keeping this fish. The first is its preferred hunting position of lining its self up
vertical to tall structures within the tank while it waits for prey, this behaviour only
seems to last a short while in captivity and once it adapts the fish takes on a
more natural at rest position. The second is that this catfish will periodically shed
the mucus coat from its body, there are several theories as to why the fish does
this ranging from poor water quality to being connected with the fishes growth
and even that the fish uses this as a defense mechanism when startled, I
personally go with the second theory as my S.limas always seem to do this
shortly before a growth spurt, it is none the less nothing to worry about and the
mucus will quickly be eaten either by the fish its self or by hungry tank mates.

Common Name: Skunk Cory
Other Common Name: Arched Cory
Scientific Name: Corydoras Arcuatus
Family: Callichthyidae
Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
Origin: South America
Social: Peaceful
Lifespan: 5-8 years
Tank Level: Bottom dweller
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallon (IMO)
Diet: Omnivore, eats most foods
Breeding: Egglayer
Care: Easy to Intermediate
Temperature: 25 Degrees
Sexing: Easiest when viewed from above as with most cories, The female has a
more fuller wider body behind the pectoral fins.
Notes: A healthy skunk cory will have shine over its golden brown body, Due to
the similar marking to the bandit cory i've found them to shoal together readily.
They are not as readily as available as bronze or the more common types of
cories, Although you see them from time to time. Tend to be a little more delicate
than other types of cory so be sure to keep up with tank maintenance.
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Common Name/s: South American Bumblebee Catfish
Specific Name: Microglanis iheringi
Origin: South America
Maximum Size: 3"

Care: This catfish should be kept in a temperature between 22-26 degrees C (72-
77 degrees F). The PH should be anywhere from 6 - 7.5 . This catfish should
have a completely dark cave, they prefer wood to stone, but even a long black
piece of PVC pipe would work well. Lots of vegetation like large Amazon swords
should be provided. Lots of hiding places or narrow cracks or holes should also
be provided. They are not aggressive and peaceful with its own and other
species. This fish would do well in a community tank.
Feeding: This catfish is an omnivore. It is not a fussy eater and will probably eat
any type of prepared food, although brine shrimp and blood worms appear to be
a special favorite.
Sexing and Breeding: Sexing is unknown. Breeding is difficult and reported
successful only with experts.
Comments: Although this catfish hides during most of the day, it is a great
addition to 15 gallon or larger aquarium. I find that my bumblebee catfish loves
dried Blood Worms and will even come out of his cave and dart to the top to grab
a mouthful! He is quite an amazing catfish.

Common name/s: Spotted raphaael catfish, spotted talking catfish
Scientific name: Agamyxis pectinifrons
Family: Doradidae
Origin: Amazon basin
Maximum size: 6"
Care: The fish is very easy to care for and places no demands on water, tank
mates or furnishings, tolerates temperatures from 20 to 26 Celsius. Like all
Doradids the fish is nocturnal and will refuse to be active by day, a cave or
rocks/bogwood should be supplied for the fish to rest in/under during daylight.
The fish are sociable and should be kept in a group of at least 3, they are not
predatory but very small fish (neon tetras etc) may be accidentally eaten.
Feeding: The fish should be fed after lights out, not fussy the fish will accept all
sinking aquarium foods; the fish will also eat snails.
Breeding: Unknown
Comments: The fish makes a good addition to the clean up crews of tanks
containing large messy fish.

Common name: Sterba, Sterbai Cory, Sterba's Cory
Scientific name: Corydoras Sterbai
Origin: Brazil, South America
Family: Callichthyidae
Maximum size: 3 inches
Minimum tank size: 15 Gallons
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Care: Sterbais enjoy heavily planted tanks with a fine, smooth substrate. These
fish are very active and can often be seen wandering the bottom areas of the
tank during the day. Provide a few hiding places with rocks or groups of plants.
These cories prefer a ph of around 6.8. House with any other peaceful
community fish; tetras, gourami, danios, otos, female bettas.
Feeding: Cucumber, flakes, algae wafers, bloodworms, and various other
Sexing: Unknown
Breeding: The male will clamp the barbells of the female during the fertilization of
eggs. The female attaches the eggs to a leaf or smooth surface. The eggs will
hatch in 3-5 days and the fry can be fed micro worms.
Comment: This fish can be a bit pricey but as breeding is becoming more
common the price is slowly going down. The price of this cory has gone down by
almost 50% in the last year. This is a great catfish and worth the few extra bucks.
Synodontis is a Greek word, with 'syn' meaning together and 'odontis' meaning
tooth. It refers to the closely set teeth on the lower jaw.
The synodontis alberti is distinguished by its rather silver-like skin, with large
brown leopard spots (usually starting from just behind the eyes to the base of the
tail. On the fins, much smaller leopard spots are seen a on a light brown canvas.
This catfish especially when young is most attractive by its rather large eyes and
its long barbels.
They are generally solitary, but in larger tanks may be likely to create a small
group. These will not eat healthy fish and anything over 1" will be safe.
This catfish gets to a size of 6.5" in the home aquarium. Therefore a good size
tank to home one of these beautiful fish would be about 3' x 2' x 2'
(36" x 24" x 24").
Place Of Origin:
Can be found in Zaire, near Brazzavile, Stanley Pool, Kinshasa and the Upper
Water Conditions:
These syno's prefer a cooler temperature of 21 - 25 degrees C. They prefer a Ph
of between 6-8.
Tank layout:
These catfish prefer bogwood/driftwood rather than rocks, plants may not be
needed but will give cover for them during the day. Make sure they have plenty of
caves as they tend to take cover during the day in dark crevasses. Rounded
gravel or sand is a preferred substrate due to spending most of their life on the
bottom of the tank.
Their diet consists of bloodworms, bits of algae scraped off rocks with their teeth
on the bottom jaw, will take other frozen food, flake food and algae wafers. (From
my experience peas and cucumber go down a good treat! )
Make sure the lower level of the tank is not too crowded because these catfish
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will squabble for cover during daylight hours. Put in with tank mates over 1" in
length, do not put in with anything too aggressive. These catfish may bother
more timid species at night with its long barbels when in search for food.
Ideal tank mates would be mostly medium sized community fish (about 4" or so).

When trying to sex your synodontis, first you'll need to catch it.... Good Luck...
Next, in great care of its sharp dorsal and side fins, place the catfish's dorsal in
between your index finger and your middle finger, to hold the fish on its back.
(Make sure the head is towards your palm and the tail is in the direction of your
fingers, that way if the catfish wriggles, you’re less likely to get some damage
done... To you that is)
Next pull the tail down gently; doing this should straighten the pelvic fins to
reveal a furrow tissue underneath. The furrow will open to display the anus of the
fish and the genital pore. The female will show an extended papillea but the
oviduct is on the ventral side of this papillea; if the female is mature a slight
redness might be apparent. A small or thin female may have 2 pink pores,
oviduct and anus. Males on the other hand have quite ridged genital papillae on
which the spermatoduct is on the back end facing towards the tail fin.
Females may appear more 'plump' also.
None yet stated
Overall these catfish are beautiful and a great community fish to have. It's a great
joy to watch them scamper across the aquarium floor at night (when the lights
are dimmed).
I would recommend these to anyone with a big enough tank.

Common name: Tiger shovelnose catfish
Scientific name: Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum
Family: Pimelodidae
Origin: Amazon, common in the fast flowing rapids.
Maximum size: Usually about 3' in captivity, larger in the wild.
Care: Provide this fish with a large 10'x4'x3' tank and a large filter such as a
sump tank. As far as water quality goes, they will be fine with a neutral pH and a
temperature of 25-28C, they need plenty of surface water movement and plenty
of oxygen in the water. These fish can be housed with peaceful fish such as
other large cats, arowanas, as some characins. just make sure that they or of an
equal size as these fish have largemouths and have no trouble eating fish half
there own size.
Feeding: They have similar feeding habits to the red-tailed catfish - while they're
small 2"-6" they are fine on bloodworm, chopped cockle and small pieces of
lance fish/smelt daily every or every other day, once they get to 8"-12" they
should take whole lance fish/smelt twice a week. Once they hit 12" bits of trout
are best and fed once a week.
Breeding: These fish are not bred in captivity.
Comments: In the wild, these are the native equivalent to cod and chips. local
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fishermen catch hundreds of these a week and they are very common on fish
markets in the Amazon and Peru. this is another fish that is better left to public
aquaria unless you can provide huge tanks and filters.

common name:Upside Down Catfish
scientific name: Synodontis nigriventris
family: mochokidae
origin: Zaire and niger river basins
maximum size: 10 cm (4 inches)
life span: 5 or more years!
Care: easy! the upside down catfish can tolerate a pH of 6 to 7.5, temperatures
from 22-26 C (72-79F) and a hardness of 5-15 dH. The upside down catfish is a
very peaceful fish and should be kept in small schools! Driftwood caves and
plants are a must! The enjoy hanging out on the underside of leaves and
driftwood. Temperature is not a critical!
Diet: the will eat some forms of algae but sometimes need live food as well as
frozen! To provide them with wonderful health you must slip some insect larvae
when ever possible!
Breeding: the upside down catfish is an egg layer! Supply them with an over
turned pot or PVC pipe! Females are larger, paler, and have rounder plump
bodies. When readying them to spawn supply them with live foods and soften the
water to mimic there natural habitat! After the spawn the parents may be left in
the tank! Eggs hatch in about 2 days and will feed from the yolk from the sac for
4 days. Then you must feed them freshly hatched BBS. In 2 months the fry will
begin swimming in the characteristics of the parents!
Comments: the upside down catfish is a fun and exciting creature to watch! They
make a great addition to any aquarium!

Common name/s: White line piteous
Scientific name: Pimelodus albofasciatus
Family: Pimelodidae
Origin: Amazon basin
Max size: 6" in captivity to 10" in nature
Care: The fish’s restless nature means that it should be housed in a tank of at
least 36" in length; the optimum sized tank would be a 55g. It can be kept in a
wide range of water parameters though extremes of hardness and pH should be
avoided, good basic aquarium husbandry will keep the fish in good condition, can
be kept in temperatures from 22 to 26 centigrade (70-76f). The fish is territorial
towards its own species and similar fish and can be aggressive when kept in
smaller tanks, as with all pimeloid species it is a predator and tank mates should
be at least 4" to avoid being eaten.
Feeding: Unfussy of foods the fish will gorge itself on most frozen and prepared
foods offered; the fish should be fed enough to make its belly swell like it has
swallowed a marble twice a week.
Breeding and sexing: Has not yet been bred in captivity and sexual differences
are unknown.
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Comments: A nice change from the more commonly seen pimeloids at a size
that can easily be housed by the average fish keeper.


Family: Anostomidae
Size: 7inches, 20cm
Diet: This fish will accept dry and frozen foods (brine shrimp I found is preferred)
as well as things like cockell and mussell occasionally.
Compatibility: This fish is fairly peaceful, community fish, which is better off in a
larger tank with fish of roughly the same size. Fish I’d recommend to keep with
the Anostomus are:
Leporinus fasciatus fasciatus -Black banded leporinus size:12"
Abramites hypselonotus -High-backed Headstander size 5.5"
Distichodus affinis- size 8"
Tank conditions:
Temperature -between 22-26degrees C
PH-around neutral
A good environment for the anostomus would be that of a tank of around 3',
gravel substrate with pieces of bogwood and lots of plants so this fish can swim
around securely.

Common name/s: Black banded leporinus
Scientific name: Leporinus fasciatus fasciatus
Family: Anostomidae
Origin: South America, Amazon basin
Maximum size 12"
Care: As expected due to its adult size the fish requires a fairly large tank, one of
at least 75 gallons with a high volume filter is recomended. The fish places no
special demands on water parameters as long as the extremes of hardness and
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pH are avoided, a temperature between 23 and 27 centigrade will be fine (73-
81f). The fish are herbivores and will make short work of most aquarium plants
although java fern may be left alone. The tank should have many hiding places
between rocks and bogwood and a good current. These fish are notorious fin
nippers and so tank mates should be short finned and fast moving, when older
the fish may predate on smaller fish so tank mates should be the same size or
Feeding: Should be fed mainly vegetable foods such as lettuce, spinach,
courgette (zuchinni) and watercress though the fish will also eat meaty frozen
foods and snails.
Sexing and breeding: Unknown
Comments: The fish are aggressive and have no fear of attacking even larger
fish in the aquarium, as they grow the front teeth become more prominent and
they become capable of inflicting quite serious damage on other fish so tank
mates should be semi aggressive and able to defend themselves.

Common name/s: Black Neon Tetra
Scientific name: Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi
Family: Characidae
Origin: South America
Maximum size: 1.75" (4.5cm)
Care: Keep in groups of at least 6-8. They prefer slightly acidic water. They
should be kept at 72-79f (22-26c).
Feeding: They will accept most available flake foods, but relish live meaty foods,
such as tubifex or bloodworm.
Sexing and breeding: Although they have the same colouration as the males,
females are fuller/plumper in the body. These fish are egg scatterers, and are
very easy to breed. Good for the novice fish breeder.

Common name: Black/White Skirt or Black Widow Tetra
Scientific name: Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
Origin: Rio Paraguay, Rio Guapore, Bolivia
Maximum size: 2 inches (5.5 cm)
Care: Easy to care for, peaceful, very hardy (I cycled my tank with them), a
schooling fish that should be placed with at least 4 or more of its kind, great
community fish, very robust when it comes to diseases. I haven't had one of mine
catch a disease yet and one is over 2 years old! Not a messy fish creates little
waste, enjoys plenty of plants to hide and swim through. Swims mid level, and
should live a life of up to 5 years. Minimum tank of 10 gallons or more.
Water quality: Accepts a wide variety of water conditions. Temperature 68-79F,
pH 5.8-8.5, will accept slightly soft to hard water.
Feeding: Omnivore, not a picky fish when it comes to food at all. Will accept
flakes, pellets, tubifex worms, and frozen foods like blood worms and brine
shrimp being a favorite of course.
Sexing: Female white skirts are generally larger than the males and have a
rounder body (all my girls have bellies). I find my females have short, rounded
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fins and the males have slightly longer, more pointed fins.
Breeding: Males will claim a territory that they will guard during spawning
periods. Although they are egg scatters they prefer to spawn among fine-leaved
plants. The parents should be removed after a successful spawn, because they
will eat their eggs. Eggs will hatch after approximately one day. The fry may be
fed freshly hatched brine shrimp, egg yolk, or finely ground flake foods.
Comments: This species is a color variation of the Black skirt Tetra. A number of
long-finned and dyed colours have been produced, therefore giving it a variety of
names like blueberry, strawberry, or fruit loop tetra. A wonderful fish for a
community or species tank, great for beginners, and easily affordable.
Is known as a Black Skirt/White Skirt in the US as a Black Widow in most of the
rest of the world. Many dyed examples exist, Blueberry/Strawberry/Fruit Loop
Tetras etc.

Common Name: Bloodfin Tetra
Scientific Name: Aphyocharax anisitsi
Family: Characidae
Origin: Argentina and Rio Parana
Maximum Size: Up to 3"
Care: These are extremely hardy, extremely peaceful, Tetras which will accept a
wide range of conditions, including temperatures between 65 and 82 degrees F,
and pH of 6.0-8.0. They need to be in schools, the bigger the better. Kept in a
clean tank with a good diet, these fish have been known to live over 10 years.
Feeding: Will accept most foods including flake, small pellets, frozen and live.
Sexing and Breeding: This Tetra is extremely easy to breed, and will do so under
nearly any condition. Broad leaved plants are a must though, as they will lay their
adhesive eggs on the leaves. If no plants are provided, they will lay their eggs
near the top of the aquarium. In either case, you must separate the adults or they
will eat the eggs. After a few days the eggs will hatch. Sexing is relatively easy,
as the male has a hook on the end of its anal fin, whereas the female's is more
rounded. Females are also plumper and duller in color than males.
Comments: A great beginner fish that will give you many years of enjoyment.
These fish are very tight schoolers so 6 or more is a must.

Common name/s: Buck-toothed Tetra; Saw-toothed Tetra
Scientific name: Exodon paradoxus
Family: Characidae
Origin: Amazon Basin
Maximum size: 6" (15cm)
Care: Large, well covered aquarium, with ample swimming space. Efficient
filtration is a must. Subdued lighting is preferred. Temperature range: 77-84d F
(22-29d C)
Feeding: Meat based commercial formulations, deep frozen, freeze dried, and
live foods all excepted. Crickets or feeders can be used as a treat.
Sexing and breeding: Sexing unknown. Will lay eggs scattered among
vegetation. Hatching takes one and a half days.
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Comments: Aggressive predator should be kept in school of at least 5 and
preferably larger groups. Only kept with larger, robust fish. In small groups, the
fish will attack and kill weaker members until there is only one of the species left.
This fish has been kept successfully with Piranhas, especially Red Bellied
Piranhas, but do so at own risk. This is a fast moving, active fish, and should be
given a large enough tank to grow in (29g for juveniles, 55g for adults).

Common Name/s: Buenos Aires Tetra
Scientific Name: Hemmigrammus Caudovittatus
Family: Characidae
Origin: Argentina, Paraguay and Southeast Brazil
Maximum Size: 3" (7cm)
Care: Keep these fish in as larger group as possible, they are an active shoaling
fish. They are an extremely hardy fish and can tolerate a large range of
Feeding: They accept most commercial flake foods but relish live and frozen
Sexing and Breeding: Easy fish to breed. The Female has a rounder and fatter
stomach whereas the males tend to have bright red fins and a slimmer stomach.
There fish breed readily in the aquarium. They scatter their eggs among plants or
in the substrate where the eggs tend to be eaten before they can hatch. Young
that survive grow at a steady rate and do best on a diet of small live foods.
Comments: An extremely hardy fish recommended for the beginner. These fish
eat most plants found in an aquarium and for this reason they are not as popular
today as they used to be many years ago. They have informally been called the
"Lawnmowers of the Aquatic World" by many fish keepers.

Common name/s: Cardinal Tetra
Scientific name: Paracheirodon Axelrodi
Family: Characidae
Origin: South America
Maximum size: 2" (5cm)
Care: A soft, acidic water is preferred by these guys as most of them in the are
wild caught from the amazon. As with most tetras, they should be in schools of,
at the very least, 3. With these guys, the more the merrier. Keeping a large
number against a dark background with a bright light makes them an absolutely
stunning sight.
Feeding: They will eat pretty much anything including flakes, pellets, and live
Sexing and breeding: Females are slightly larger, with a wider body. To breed,
you must imitate the natural conditions in the wild. Soft water and a pH of around
5.8 is a must. They will usually spawn in the evening, and following spawning the
parents should be removed from the tank. For the first few days, they will be
feeding off their yolk sacs. Following the 3rd day, you may begin infusoria, then
small live foods such as micro worms and vinegar eels.
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Comments: One of the most beautiful fish out there, but may be difficult to find in
some areas, or expensive. Kept in a large school, they will look great with the
contrasting red and glimmering blue streak. Looks very similar to the neon, but in
neons, the red stripe only extends to the abdomen region, while with cardinal it
goes all the way to the mouth. Also note that their red colouration will fade when
they are stressed, or without light for long periods. For the latter, this is totally
reversible and the red stripe will return when the light comes back on.

Common name/s: Congo Tetra.
Scientific name: Phenacogrammus interruptus
Family: Alestidae
Origin: Zaire.
Maximum size: 3" (8.5 cm).
Care: Keep in as larger group as possible as they are an active shoaling fish.
They prefer slightly soft, acidic water and a well planted tank.
Feeding: They will accept most commercial foods but relish live and frozen
Sexing and Breeding: Males are easily distinguished by their extended finnage
and bright colours in comparison to the shorter finned dull females. Congo Tetras
are egg scatterers, so if they spawn in a community tank most of the eggs will be
eaten. The young are slow growers and should be feed live insect larve.
Comments: A stunning fish, fully grown males are a truly magnificent sight with
their elaborate finnage and delicate hues. They are an active fast swimming and
peaceful fish that does well in a peaceful community tank, maybe with an African

Common Name/s: Discus Tetra, Disc tetra, Salmon tetra & Disk characin
Scientific name: Brachychalcinus orbicularis
Other scientific names: Brachychalcinus guianensis, Ephippicharax orbicularis,
Poptella orbicularis & Tetragonopterus orbicularis,
Family: Characidae
Origin: Guyana and Suriname.
Maximum Size: 9cm/3.5"
Care: Groups of 6 at the very least. These fish go beyond schooling to the point
of acting as one fish.
pH range 5.5-7.6 temp range 18-25c
Feeding: Omnivourous, will accept any foods offered. Know to eat the odd plant
or two.
Sexing and Breeding: impossible to tell from external viewing. Not known to
breed in the aquarium.
Comments: A rare and beautiful mid level fish. Lighting the tank from the side
will bring out the green, pink and violet hues on its otherwise silver body. Looks
very similar to silver dollars

Common Name(s): Dwarf Pencilfish
Scientific Name: Nannostomus Marginatus
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
Family: Lebiasinidae
Origin: Amazon Basin
Maximum size: Up to 1.75 inches, although rarely exceeds 1.25 inches.
Care: Does best in planted aquariums, although can do well in unplanted. Likes
tempatures between 73-80. Keep pH between 5-7. Prefers blackwater extract
and/or peat filtration. Subdued to moderate lighting. Not really a "schooling fish"
but likes small groups of at least 3. Feels more comfortable with a couple of taller
of floating plants. Don’t house with large fish.
Feeding: Omnivorius and micro predators is what I call them. Will take crushed
spurinula flakes or very fine spurinula pellets. Will occasionally eat tropical fish
micro pellets. Most frozen and freeze-dried foods small enough to fit in their
mouths. Is a must to add small live foods such as baby brine shrimp, fruit flies,
mosquito larvae, daphina, white worms, and things of that extent.
Sexing and Breeding: Males are usually slimmer and have brighter red colors.
Breeding occurs at higher temps around 85 degrees on fine leaved plants.
Parents may eat the eggs if they get a chance. It's very difficult to feed the fry as
they are too small for most foods.
Comments: Wonderful, active, colorful fish to keep. May be shy sometimes
though. Can be expensive, but worth the investment IMHO.

Common name: Flame Tetra / Von Rio Tetra
Scientific name: Hyphessobrycon Flammeus
Family: Characidae
Origin: South America
Maximum size: 2 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
Temperature: 75-79 degrees
Care: A schooling fish that needs at least six fish of the same species to live
happily. Prefers planted tanks with lots of hiding places and a tank with low light.
These are middle dwellers but seem to venture to the top area of the tank quite a
bit. These fish are usually drab and dull in stores but color up very nicely in the
right conditions. This is an undemanding fish with not many special requirements.
Feeding: Accepts flake foods and frozen foods such as bloodworms.
Sexing: Females are noticeably fatter and duller in color. Most females are silver
in color and males turn a deep reddish orange color and shimmer in the light.
Keep in mind that you may not be able to sex the flame tetra in stores because
most are usually silver from stress.
Breeding: Productive, up to 250 eggs. Eggs will hatch in 24-50 hours. After the
fish are done breeding, they should be removed immediately since afterwards
they will start to eat the eggs. Fry should be fed a live culture of some kind as
soon as they are free swimming. Eggs will not hatch if exposed to light.

Common name/s: Freshwater baracuda, Dog characin, Amazon Cachorro
Scientific name: Acestrorhynchus falcirostris
Family: Characidae
Origin: Amazon basin
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Maximum size: 16" though 12" more likely in captivity
Care: A large aquarium with massive filtration is a must, minimum tank size
should be 5x2x2' (150 gallon). The fish is unfussy of water parameters providing
extremes of hardness and pH are avoided, temperatures from 24 to28 Celsius
are tolerated (75-82f). It is advised to heavily plant the sides of the tank to
prevent the fish from smashing its self against the glass. The fish is a predator
and should only be kept with equal sized and larger fish.
Feeding: FISH! This fish is a pure piscavor, smaller specimens can be converted
to frozen meaty foods but adults demand living fish.
Sexing and breeding: Unknown
Comments: Despite its predatory life style and aggressive looks the fish is shy
and easily frightened, do not keep with overly aggressive fish or the barracuda
will attempt to escape the tank often damaging themselves against the hood of
the tank.

Common name: Glowlight Tetra
Scientific name: Hemigrammus erythrozonus
Family: Characidae
Origin: Guyana
Maximum size: 2 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
Temperature: 75-79 degrees
Care: A schooling fish that needs to be in groups of six or more. Very
undemanding. This tetra makes a good community fish for beginners. They like
low light and plants to hide in.
Feeding: Accepts flake food and live foods such as bloodworms and brine
Sexing: Females are considerably fatter than the males.
Breeding: Fry hatch after 24 hours. Start feeding micro worms and newly
hatched brine shrimp after 3-4 days of hatching.

Common Name/s: Green Neon Tetra, False Neon Tetra
Scientific name: Paracheirodon simulans
Family: Characidae
Origin: South America: Upper Negro and Orinoco River basins
Maximum Size: 2cm
Care: larger the group the better for this small fish. A school of 10 or more will
give you their best activeness. Prefers soft, acidic water with a pH of 5.5 to 6.
They can be acclimated to a wide range of pH although they do not do so well in
the higher bands. Temp range of 23 to 27°C (73.4 to 80.6°F) they do best at
26°C (78.8°F).
Feeding: Crushed flakes and live/frozen foods. Avoid bloodworm as they are
often too big for them. Daphnia seems to be a favourite of my green neon tetras.
Sexing and Breeding: Very hard to tell; however females appear, slightly,
plumper than males. No reported instances of breeding in the aquarium.
Comments: As with most characins they are susceptible to Neon tetra disease.
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You should avoid keeping them with any fish that can fit them into their mouths.
Peat filtration is a must to have to reach their full potential.
emigrammus ocellifer - Head and Tail Light Tetra

Family - Characin
Size - 4cm (1.5inches)
Origin - Amazon Basin, South America
Care - These fish are very easy to keep and are good for beginners providing
water quality is good.
Diet - I feed my head and tail tetras flake food. This is the staple diet however;
they are scavengers and eat anything. They also eat Freeze Dried Bloodworms
and Brine Shrimp
Compatibility - Corydoras Catfish, Large Tetras, Mollies, Platies, Plecostomus,
Swordtails, Zebra Danio

Tank Conditions - 22-26 Degrees C (72-79 Degrees F), PH should be 6.0-8.0
Breeding - They are egg layers and are extremely easy to breed.
Life Span - Anything up to 5 years
Tank Layout - It is best to keep head and tail tetras in groups of 6 or more. They
like a fairly strong current and also place to hide. They prefer a floating plant
layer and dimmed lighting is a good idea.

Common name/s: Marbled Hatchet
Scientific name: Carnegiella strigata strigata
Family: Gasteropelecidae
Origin: Mostly found in small forest streams in Guyana and the Amazon River
Maximum size: 1-2"
Feeding: Flakes foods are not enough for Hatchets and it is necessary to take a
little time and effort to provide them with live or frozen alternatives. In my
experience they love fruit flies and mosquitoes and their larve, mine have a
particular favourite; freeze dried bloodworms which float on the surface for them.
Care: This fish is particularly prone to white spot. If at all possible quarantine the
fishes for a minimum of two weeks before putting them in the community tank.
They like a peaceful tank with tall or floating plants to deter them from jumping, a
tight fitting hood is also necessary.
Sexing: Males more slender when viewed from above, females rounder and
Breeding: This fish has been breed in captivity. This requires very soft acidic
water. The eggs are deposited on floating plants but some will fall to the bottom
of the tank. They hatch in 24-36 hours and the fry require very small live foods.
Just keeping the parents is a challenge so raising the offspring is even more so.
Comments: A lovely little surface dweller, however, it is prone to disease so
quarantining is a good idea, once settled in they are a great community fish.
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Common name: Penguin Tetra or Penguinfish
Scientific name: Thayeria boehlkei
Family: Characidae
Origin: Amazon Basin, South America.
Maximum size: 1.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Temperature: 75-79 degrees
Care: Very undemanding. This tetra makes a good community fish for beginners.
The Penguin Tetra swims in a zig-zag motion with its head higher than its tail.
Feeding: Accepts flake food and live foods such as bloodworms and brine
Sexing: Hard to determine.
Breeding: Can be bred. Remove eggs or change water after spawning and the
males produce a large amount of sperm.

Common Name/s: Roberti Tetra, Roberts Tetra
Scientific name: Moenkhausia robertsi
Other scientific names: None.
Family: Characidae.
Origin: South America: Lower Orinoco, Upper Black Amazon.
Maximum Size: 5cm/ 2”
Care: Peat filtration is a must to keep this species thriving. They do best in the
25-27C temp range, with a pH of 6.5 to 7.
Feeding: Like most tetras will eat most anything offered. Loves live foods like
bloodworm, daphnia etc.
Sexing and Breeding: Males tend to have a more pronounced dorsal fin, which
has a crooked finger shape. Not known to breed in the aquarium
Comments: These tetras are truly stunning and a great peaceful addition to any
community aquarium

Common name/s: Rummy Nose Tetra
Scientific name: Hemigrammus rhodostomus
Family: Characidae
Origin: Amazon basin
Maximum size: 2"
Feeding: They are omnivores and will take different types of food. They will eat
flakes, as well as frozen and live foods.
Care: These fish are very delicate so the water has to be perfect before adding
them to the tank. You should never add them to a cycling tank. They should be
kept in shoals, the more the better, since they are very shy and will feel much
more secure in greater numbers. They should be kept with non-aggressive tank
mates. The tank should be at least 10 gallons to give them enough room to swim.
Sexing: Males are slimmer than females
Breeding: These fish are hard to breed. Water has to be soft and acidic acidic.
The females will scatter the eggs and fry will hatch in a couple of days
Comments: Very peaceful and beautiful fish. Their noses are good indicators of
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the quality of the water. Noses will be bright red when the water conditions are
good. However, they will lose color if there are nitrites/ammonia in the water or if
the fish are stressed.

Common name/s: Sabretooth tetra, Payara
Scientific name: Hydrolycus scomberoides
Family: Characidae
Origin: Amazon basin
Maximum size: 30" though 12" more likely in captivity
Care: A large tank with massive filtration and a strong current is a must. As with
all large predatory fish regular water changes of 30 to 40% a week are
recommended. The fish is unfussy of water parameters provided extremes of
hardness and pH are avoided, tolerates temperatures from 24 to 28 Celsius (75-
82f). The fish is a predator so tank mates must be large and robust.

Feeding: FISH! The species are out and out piscavors, with time some fish can
be converted to frozen meaty foods.
Sexing and breeding: Unknown
Comments: Not really suited to aquarium life, the fish often die for no apparent
reason; I was only able to keep my pair alive for 4 months before they both died
from unknown causes

Common name: Serpae Tetra
Scientific name: Hyphessobrycon Serpae
Family: Characidae
Origin: Amazon basin
Maximum size: 1.75 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
Temperature: 75-80 degrees
Care: A schooling fish. Needs to be in groups of at least six. A mid dwelling tetra.
This fish is a known fin nipper so be careful what tank mates you put in with
them. They prefer a planted tank with places to hide and low light. Keep with
community fish like danios and gourami.
Feeding: flake food, live foods.
Sexing: Females are pinker in color with bigger stomachs. Males are redder with
longer anal fins.
Breeding: Remove parents after breeding. Eggs hatch within 24-28 hours.
Condition the pair on live foods and keep eggs away from direct sunlight. Eggs
are transparent and hard to see.

Common name: Silver dollar
Scientific name: Metynnis argenteus
Family: Serrasalmidae
Origin: Amazon basin
Maximum size: 5"
Care: Silver dollars are a schooling fish and should be kept in groups of 5 or
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more, for this reason a tank of at least 55 gallons is recomended. They are
herbivores that will make short work of most aquarium plants, hardy plants like
Java fern and Anubias may be left alone. The fish prefers soft slightly acidic
water but can be kept in water with a pH of up to 7.5 and a hardness of 20 GH
without problems, the temperature should be kept between 24 and 28 Celsius
(75-82f). The fish can be extremely shy and nervous if placed in a tank with
overly aggressive fish or the tank is placed in a high traffic area.
Feeding The fish should be fed mainly vegetable foods such as lettuce, spinach,
courgette (zuchini) and watercress though small live and frozen foods such as
bloodworms and daphnia will also be taken.
Sexing: The male has a longer anal fin with a reddish tinge to the front.
Breeding: Breeding is rare but possible; the key is very soft acidic water (pH 6,
GH 10, KH -4). The fish are egg scatterers.

Common names: Bentosi White Tip Tetra/ Bentos Tetra/ Ornate Tetra/ False
Rosy Tetra
Family: Characidae
Sub-family: Incertae sedis
Order: Characin
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Origin: South America/Amazon River Basin
Maximum size: 5cm (2 inches)
Minimum Tank Size: from 60l (13 Imp gallon, 16 US gallon)
PH range: 6 – 7.5
dH range: 5-19
Temperature: 24-28 C (75-82 F)
Care: I have found the Bentosi white tip a hardy and easy to care for schooling
fish, with similar needs to their close relation, the Rosy Tetra (Hyphessobrycon
bentosi rosaceous). As a schooling Tetra, they need to be kept in groups of at
least five or six to fully appreciate their impressive social displays. Sufficient
planted areas should be provided around the sides and rear of tank for hiding
when resting, and free swimming space in the centre. A small current also
mimics the natural environment of this fish.
Feeding: My Bentosi become quite excitable at feeding time, but rarely have the
nerve to compete with Danio, or other fast swimming surface feeders. They
prefer to snatch and run with anything that drops to mid-water, even if it is too big
for their mouth! They happily take flake food, but love live foods as an occasional
treat, especially daphnia, mosquito larva and bloodworm. I have also observed
them sneaking up and picking at the seeded part of a cucumber slice (when my
female Ram is not guarding it!)
Sexing: Males have a flag like extension to their dorsal fin and an elongated
pelvic and anal fin. Females have a rounder dorsal fin and are plumper and
deeper in body.
Breeding: I haven’t personally bred this fish yet, but understand that a mating
pair should be separated and introduced into a breeding tank (approx 10 gallons)
and the water temperature should be 75-79F (24-26 C), with the PH slightly
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acidic and water hardness of 4dH or less. Fine leafed plants should be provided,
on which the eggs will be laid. A calm current and low lighting will mirror their
natural environment. The parent fish should be removed before the eggs hatch.
The fry hatch usually after 24 hours and are free swimming within a few days.
Start feeding micro-organisms once the egg sacs have been consumed, and
crushed flake can be fed after 10 days. Weekly partial water changes are
beneficial to the fry.
Comments: I have personally never found the White Tip to be fin nippers (as
their close cousins are often renowned to be) neither do they truly "shoal" except
during times of unease, or when feeding. Though they are not constant
swimmers - often preferring to hang around a favourite rock or piece of driftwood
when relaxed - these little fish are rarely still; they seem to constantly flicker and

Common Names: Wimple Piranhas
Scientific Name: Catoprion mento
Family: Characidae
Origin: Select streams and river basins in Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, and
Maximum Size: Up to 5 inches in aquariums, up to 7 inches in wild.
Care: Minimum tank size of 25 gallons, but more comfortable in tanks of 45
gallons or more. Requires high oxygen levels and extra heavy filtration. Leave
some open places for free swimming, and some resting places. Does better in
planted aquariums, but will also live comfortably with artificial plants. pH levels of
5.5 through 7. Temperature of 74-81 degrees. Likes softer flow rates, so an
addition of power heads is not necessary. (Unlike most piranhas who like fast
flowing waters). Never house this fish with any other fish, ever! The only
exception to this rule is when they are juveniles they can be housed in a small
shoal in a large tank, but eventually they must be moved to their own tank as the
wimples will tear each other to death, literally.
Feeding: Being a predator all live foods are accepted. Primarily a fin eater. Feed
a steady diet of live or frozen lance fish, prawns or silversides, frozen shrimp with
shell (Check for ingredients label, there should be no additives), Insects, worms,
mysis shrimp, and prepared carnivore foods. Will also eat most freeze dried
foods such as brine shrimp, blood worms, tubifex, krill, and ocean plankton. Does
require some live foods in its diet, be sure to gut load the feeder fish with
spirulina or duckweed.
Breeding: Never been bred in captivity.
Comments: Wimple piranhas are not true piranhas because of the teeth
alignment (spelling?) but certainly look like them and act like them. All wimples
are wild caught, so don’t expect this to be a cheap fish. It has beautiful
colorations with the body being mostly silver with hints of a blue/green. Orange
and red gill patch and bright red anal fin. Caution: Without proper precautions
wimples may bite if felt nervous, defensive, or intimidated. They can give out
some nasty bites, usually ending up with a trip to the emergency room for
stitches. Luckily I’ve never been bitten. But other than that wimples are straight
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up one of the best fish to have with everything you want: nice colorations, active,
and a personality.


Common name/s: Electric Yellow, Yellow Lab, Lemon Yellow
Scientific name:Labidochromis Caeruleus
Origin: Lake Malawi, Africa
Maximum size: 5"
Care: This is a hardy and easily kept cichlid from the mbuna family, and an
excellent choice for beginners and experienced aquarists alike. They are a very
social fish that do well in groups of 3 or more. The minimum recommended tank
size for these fish is 30 gallons. The aquarium should be decorated with a
number of hiding spots including caves of various sizes. Sand substrate is
appreciated by these fish, but is not necessary. Yellow Lab's are best kept in
water with a PH of 7.5 or higher, at a temperature between 75° and 80°. These
cichlids make excellent tank mates for most mildly and moderately aggressive
mbuna, aulonocara, and haplichromines from Lake Malawi.
Feeding: Daily feedings of high quality cichlid pellets or flakes. Supplements of
spirulina flake are recommended. Live or frozen invertebrates including brine
shrimp and mysis may also be fed as a supplement. In the wild these fish are
insectivores and micro-predators.
Sexing and breeding: As young fish Yellow Labs are nearly impossible to sex.
As they get older the males will grow faster and larger then the females. As they
mature, males will typically display more aggressive behavior then females, and
will often be seen digging a nest in a favourite cave. These fish are unselective
breeders, and dominant males will mate with any present females. Nothing
further then keeping conditions clean is necessary to promote breeding. As
mouth brooders, females will incubate and hatch the eggs in her buchal pouch,
and then continue to hold the fry until the yolk sacs have been consumed. A
typical holding period for this cichlid is 4 weeks, and the female will not eat during
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this time. Once spit, fry are left to fend for themselves. In order to raise fry the
female should be separated into a holding tank, and removed once the fry have
been spit. Fry can be fed powdered cichlid food along with baby brine shrimp,
mysis, or cyclops as supplements.

Common name: Frontosa Cichlid
Scientific name:Cyphotilapia frontosa, Cypho means “hump” tilapia means “fish”
(African), species: Blue Mpimbwe, Blue Zaire, Burundi, Kasanga, Kigoma, Kipili,
Zaire and Zambia.
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: Lake Tanganyika (Africa)
Maximum size: male 16” female 10”
Care: Temperature of 72-83F: water parameters should be pH-7.8-9.5: 10-20dH:
prefers hard alkaline water.
Just like in nature frontosa are gentle to other tank mates. This means they can
be kept in a smaller tank than say an oscar even though they reach a similar
size. Even if a frontosa can be successfully kept in a 48" long tank (such as a 90
gallon) however a larger tank is definitely going to be more comfortable for them.
Their tank should be decorated with a lot of rocks that form caves. The females
usually do not need places to hide, but the male may need and it is
recommended for him to have a large cave to hide in when he needs a retreat.
The rocks in the aquarium should be well stabilized in your aquarium, frontosa
are very powerful and can dig under the rocks causing them to topple….we don’t
need a broken tank now do we?!!! Although frontosa do not tear up, or eat plants,
but they will definitely dig them up, no matter how well you anchored them, I am
constantly having to replace mine!!! In tanks larger than 200 gallons, frontosa can
be kept in groups of 10 or more. Such a group can even contain more than one
If kept in a smaller tank, smaller groups should also be kept, for example; one
male and 3-4 females. Sexing frontosa is known to be quite difficult and
confusing….the most obvious is the hump, which is normally larger on males, but
also can be quite large on females as well. The most effective way is to study
genitals, if you know what you are looking for!!!
Frontosa is and can be peaceful in aquarium, although two males of the same
size can often threaten each other, most of the time neither of the two will suffer
from any harm. Often the smaller one gives up and swims away instead of
fighting. The problem is the defeated frontosa has nowhere to go. In the wild, the
battles are usually over territory. When a frontosa loses a battle, he is expected
to move on and never be seen again by the victorious one, however, in an
aquarium, that is pretty impossible and they will probably fight again and again.
You may need to separate them, or take in either one to the lfs for a trade.
Feeding Frontosa like to eat fish, attacking sleeping fish in the night. (sneaky)
They need nutritious food; I give them frozen food, such as fish, (sometimes
other cichlid fry) brine shrimp, and blood worms. They will also happily consume
packaged foods in great quantities. Hikari is tops in my frontosa’s books!!!
Sexing and breeding: Mouth brooders generally are not very particular about
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spawning sites, but frontosa clearly like flat sandy areas best where they can dig
small pits. However, they will also spawn on a gravelly bottom. It is a good idea
to locate such spawning sites in the protective area of rock structures or plants.
After circling each other, the two fish will suddenly face each other, and in a
typical cichlid manner, "lock jaws," (aka mouth-fight). As soon as a strong grip is
made they will twist and turn each other for as long as a minute, testing each
other's strength. Some people say that if they are able to maintain the grip for a
substantial period of time, the pair will immediately proceed with spawning, but
this has not been proven. The locking of jaws may continue for a week or so until
the next step is taken. The actual spawning is very interesting: the female will
deposit a few eggs in a depression in the substrate, then, the male will follow and
fertilize them. After a number of deposits of this sort the female will pick up the
eggs in her mouth and then the mouth brooding process begins…..but may not
last. Frontosa are sometimes very nervous about the reproduction cycle and may
either spit the eggs or eat them if spooked….as I have learned from personal
experience. I have had a failed example and need to decide what to do for next
time. If all goes well naturally, the female will release the fry and they will more
than enjoy having a first meal of newly hatched brine shrimp. They will also eat
large infusoria and protozoans. After a few weeks they are able to take fine dry
foods and larger crustaceans like Daphnia. The fry grow very quickly and as
soon as the fry have been left alone by their parents, they should be given their
own tank to grow out in, after a while it is suggested that the fry be sorted by size
to give them more tank room and keep the larger fry from being too competitive
for food, also to protect them from being eaten by anonymous passer-bys!!! Even
though frontosa are supposed to raise their young ones until they are old enough
and large enough to fend for themselves, others abandon their spawn under
week after they have lost their yolk-sacs and reached the free-swimming stage.
This is why stripping the female and artificial incubation is sometimes a must…

Common name/s: Kenyi
Scientific name:Maylandia Lombardoi
Origin: Lake Malawi, Africa
Maximum size: 6"
Care: This is an extremely aggressive species from the mbuna family, and their
hostile nature must be taken into consideration before buying them.
Unfortunately they are very widely distributed and sold to unsuspecting fish
keepers all too often. The minimum recommended tank size for these fish is a
four foot 75 gallon. The aquarium should be decorated with a number of hiding
spots including caves of various sizes. Sand substrate is appreciated by these
fish, but is not necessary. Lombardoi are best kept in water with a PH of 7.5 or
higher, at a temperature between 75° and 80°. These cichlids should only be
kept with mbuna of similarly high aggression levels, and overcrowding is very
important to keep sub-dominant fish from getting overly harassed. Proper diet
and clean conditions are very important for the long term health of this fish.
Feeding: This species is omnivorous. Spirulina flake should make up the
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majority of the diet, but a high quality cichlid pellet or flake is also recommended.
Fresh vegetables and live or frozen invertebrates may be supplemented.
Sexing and breeding: All Lombardoi are born blue with dark striping. As they
mature, males take on a very nice orange, while females retain the original blue
coloring. Note that it is not unusual, under certain conditions, for these fish to
take on the coloring of the opposite sex, usually as a method of avoiding
aggression. As mouth brooders, females will incubate and hatch the eggs in her
buchal pouch, and then continue to hold the fry until the yolk sacs have been
consumed. A typical holding period for this cichlid is under 4 weeks, and the
female will not eat during this time. Females become extremely territorial when
holding. Once spit, fry are left to fend for themselves. In order to raise fry the
female should be separated into a holding tank, and removed once the fry have
been spit. Fry can be fed powdered spirulina and cichlid foods as well as baby
brine shrimp.

Common name/s: Kribensis, Purple Cichlid
Scientific name:Pelvicachromis pulcher
Origin: Nigeria, Cameroon, West African, Riverine species
Maximum size: 4"
Care: The Krib is a popular cichlid for beginer breeders. It hails from West Africa,
and is found in rivers. The fish are usually found in fresh water, though they have
been found in Brackish water. They like soft water, and their Ph should be
around neutral, though they can have a higher Ph up to 8, and one down to 5.
They are relatively peaceful, though they should not be kept with some peaceful
fish such as the guppies. A good tank mate would be the black skirt tetra, and
other mildly aggressive fish as such. Despite being African cichlids, they should
not be kept with Mbuna, or other rift lake vally cichlids. The minimum tank size for
a pair is 20 gallons.
Feeding: You should give your kribs a mixed diet, as they are omnivores. They
will nibble at live plants, but will also eat live worms. They will also eat live bearer
fry, and small ghost shrimp.
Sexing and breeding: There are a few ways to distinguish the genders of the
fish. One way is the by the fins. The males usually have a pointed dorsal fin as
well as tail fin. The females have "eye" spots on their dorsal fin. They also have a
rounded dorsal and tail fin. Males are also bigger than the females. The females
will also have a red round stomach. After a while of the male and female being
together they should pair up. It works best to have the largest male and the
smallest female together to make it happen faster. This is to lessen the
aggression of the female, as larger females may injure the smaller male. Once
paired up the pair will breed about every few weeks. The female will disappear
for about five days. At this time she will be fanning eggs that she laid. They will
be in a cave. The male will be guarding the cave entrance. After the 5 days are
up the eggs should hatch. They will be in the wiggler stage for about 3-5 days
after. Once the wiggler stage is over the fish will be free swimming, schooling
with the parents. At night the parents will pick up the fry in their mouth and return
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them to the cave that they were born in, unless you renovate the cave. The fry
have slow growth after a while.

Common name: ”multifasciatus big eye”
Scientific name: Lamprologus similis
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: Lake Tanganyika (Africa)
Maximum size: One of the world’s smallest cichlids males about 4.5 cm (1.8 in.)
females 3 cm (1.2 in.).
The aquarium:
Being one of the smallest cichlids in the world similis can be kept in a relatively
small tank. I wouldn’t recommend anything under 10 gallon though. However do
not attempt to keep more than one male in such a small tank.
Like any tanganyikan cichlid the tank setup is rocks & sand. Always cushion the
rocks on polystyrene or risk breaking your tank. Do several foundations like this
for your big rocks to put smaller rocks on. When you are finished with your rocks
THEN add sand. This way your fish won’t knock over the piles of rocks when
they dig. I’ve seen internet sites advocating not using sand to prevent the cichlids
from digging. Personally I think it’s a bit un-ethical, besides why keep a cichlid
that loves to dig if you can’t stand it?
However you decide to decorate your tank it is a good idea to put some single
rocks scattered across the tank, this will help to divide up territories. The last
things to add are the shells, and plenty of them. Similis is a shell dweller; they
use their shells for protection and to lay their eggs in. You will need 2-3 shells per
shell dweller but you can never have too many.

Keeping plants in a Tanganyikan tank is a challenge since the water is
(supposed to be at least) hard. Then we have that (in) famous digging, after a
few days a lot of the plants would most likely bee floating around. There are a
few that can work though. For me it is the anubias species and java fern. Since
they can be attached to rocks the fish will leave them alone. I’ve also heard the
vallisneria species will do fine, if you put them in between the rock piles they
might stay in place.
Care & Company:
Since they require a special tank you might be put of thinking this fish is very
hard to keep. But in my opinion it’s quite easy to keep as long as you provide the
correct environment. Feed them spirulina flakes and brine shrimps (frozen food).
As with all aquarium fish regular water changes are required.
These fish are territorial but these territories are quite small and the fish is best
kept in small groups (6-8 fish or more). Water should be hard. 7.8 or higher if
possible (up to 9). Temp: 23 – 26 Celsius.
Even if it is a very small cichlid they can be kept with a lot of other species of
tanganyikan fish as long as the tank is big enough and the other fish aren’t so big
they think of the small shell dwellers as food. Otherwise this fish really proves
that size doesn’t matter and will chase away fish several times their size if they
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come to close to its shell.
Interesting behaviors:
This is (in my opinion) best thing about these little fish. People who love
aquascaping might be disappointed since these fish will do this for them! I tried to
make a nice smooth layer of sand about 3 inches thick and after a week the fish
had moved the sand into huge piles in some places and deeper pits in others. As
said before these fish will dig a LOT, attempting to “correct” the way they build
their sand piles is useless since they will move the sand back again over night.
The shells play a very important part in this fish’s lives since they practically
spend their whole life in and around their shells. They usually dig a small pit so
that the shell is below the sand surface (less obvious to predators).
They are quite easy to breed. If they are kept in hard water with plenty of shells
they will most likely breed. The couple will dig a “nest” (big pit with a shell in),
even if they live in separate shells the breeding take place in the female's shell
were she lays her eggs. The fry will eat the same food as grown fish. Usually
they have between 5-20 fry, they can have new fry every third week if you are
lucky (or unlucky depending on if you want them or not).
If you want to make sure as many as possible of the fry survive keep the couple
in a separate tank. If they are kept in a larger community tank it might be hard to
make sure the fry get their share of the food. These fish are very good parents
and the fry will stay in or very close to their mothers shell and will be guarded by
their parents.
Final note:
Lamprologus similis are often mixed up with Lamprologus multifasciatus (the
common name suggests they are the same species). I’ve only kept the similis but
they are supposed to be very similar as far as care and breeding are concerned.
Since I don’t have a digital camera I can’t post a picture but the similis have a few
extra stripes on their head.
Some shops sell these fish simply as “shelldwellers”. Of course this is almost as
dumb as selling them as “some kind of African fish”. There are several kinds of
shell dwellers make sure you get the kind you wanted!

Common name/s:Electric Blue Johanni*
Scientific name:Melanochromis Johannii
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: Lake Malawi (Africa)
Maximum size: 6"
Care: These fish require a tank of at least 30 gallons, and prefer other cichlids of
the mbuna family. One of the more popular of African cichlids, you will probably
be able to find this fish in one of your LFS. They are decently Hardy, and can
take a little bit of a beginners' mistakes. Prefers a PH of about 8. These fish
usually swim around the middle, or lower levels of the tank. Prefers a temp of
around 78-82 degrees F.
Feeding: Feed daily. Eats pellets, sticks, flakes, blood worms and baby shrimp.
Sexing and breeding: Easy to breed, this fish will produce about a dozen or
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more with each batch of fry. Since these fish are mouth brooders the female is
best removed to another tank, and when she stops feeding and her brood pouch
(Buchal Pouch)is full. After 14 days or so, the female will spit out her fully formed
fry, and quickly lose interest in them. You can put her back in your main tank.
The fry are pretty big already, so you can just feed them broken up flakes.

Common name/s - Brichardi
Scientific name - Neolamprologus brichardi
Family - Cichlidae
Origin - Lake Tanganyika, Africa
Maximum size - 12cm
Water Parameters - Hard water, pH 7.5 - 8.5, temperature 24 - 28 degrees
Care - These fish are extremely easy to keep, even outside their preferred water
parameters (given above). Ideally they should be kept with other Tanganyikan
Cichlids in a community tank.
Feeding - Will happily accept frozen, dried and live foods.
Sexing and breeding - Juvenille males and females of similar appearance.
Mature males have elongated fin rays on the anal, caudal and tail fins. In healthy
specimens there males are more colourful.
These fish are extremely easy to breed, often taking over a community aquarium
due to their rapid increase in numbers. Eggs are laid on the underside of caves
or in shells and are of a pale blue colour. It is not uncommon for fish to produce
another clutch of eggs directly after the first has hatched, particularly if there are
young from previous clutches to assist in the protection and rearing of the fry.
These fish can successfully rear the fry of their own accord in a community tank
with no special treatment from the aquarist.

Common name/s - Multifasciatus or Multies
Scientific name - Neolamprologus multifasciatus
Family - Cichlidae
Origin - Lake Tanganyika, Africa
Maximum size - 5cm
Difficulty - Very hardy, readily accept most prepared and live foods. Omnivorous.
Water Parameters - Hard water with a high range pH 7.5 - 8.5 , temperature 24 -
28 degrees
Feeding - Frozen, dried and live foods all readily accepted.
Sexing - Males are usually of a slightly larger and stocky nature (although still
quite small - they are one of the smallest rift lake cichlids) It is easier to sex
animals that you can view together as differences are subtle and difficult to
detect unless observed in conjunction with behaviour. Males tend to dominate
female fish.
Breeding - These fish are not difficult to breed. Being shell dwellers it is less likely
to have any success without shells available for the fish to live in. Each fish will
require its own shell. Ideally shells should be of freshwater origin and around six
cm across.
Males will display in front of the females shell usually by shivering at the mouth of
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the shell. The female will return dancing if she considers him a suitable mate.
After a few days of this courtship eggs will be laid. The territory during this period
will be ferociously guarded by the male who will not hesitate to take on much
larger and aggressive cichlids (if housed in a community tank) When the eggs
hatch it is not uncommon not to see any of the juvs for a period of a week as they
will seek shelter in / around the shells of the parents. Often once these cichlids
start breeding they will continue developing a large family group of cichlids with
older siblings assisting in the care of new hatched fish.
General Comments - These fish are extremely good candidates for a
tanganyikan cichlid community. Whilst (as with most African cichilds) it will
aggressively defend its territory it is a small fish and unlikely to actually cause
any damage to other cichlids. Do not keep with larger piscivorous cichlids as it
may be eaten without a shell to shelter in.

Common name/s: Rusty
Scientific name:Iodotropheus Sprengerae
Origin: Lake Malawi, Africa
Maximum size: 5"
Care: This is a mildly aggressive species from the mbuna family, and a good
choice for a less aggressive mbuna aquarium. The minimum recommended tank
size for these fish is 30 gallons. The aquarium should be decorated with a
number of hiding spots including caves of various sizes. Sand substrate is
appreciated by these fish, but is not necessary. Rusty’s are best kept in water
with a PH of 7.5 or higher, at a temperature between 75° and 80°. These cichlids
can be housed with mbuna of a milder temperament, and should not be housed
with anything overly aggressive. Proper diet and clean conditions are very
important for the long term health of this fish.
Feeding: As an omnivorous species, a diet of spirulina flake, along with a high
quality cichlid pellet or flake is best. Fresh vegetables and live or frozen
invertebrates may be supplemented.
Sexing and breeding: Iodo. Sprengarae is typically a dark brown when young.
As they mature they turn to a rusty orange color, often with a violet tint. They are
a uniquely colored species, unlike any other mbuna. These fish are extremely
difficult to sex, especially when young, but their fairly passive nature allows for
multiple males to co-exist in the same tank with minimal aggression. As mouth
brooders, females will incubate and hatch the eggs in her buchal pouch, and then
continue to hold the fry until the yolk sacs have been consumed. A typical holding
period for this cichlid is 4 weeks, and the female will not eat during this time,
though they seem to be adept at sneaking in the occasional flake. Once spit, fry
are left to fend for themselves. In order to raise fry the female should be
separated into a holding tank, and removed once the fry have been spit. Fry can
be fed powdered spirulina and cichlid foods as well as baby brine shrimp.
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
Common name/s: Saulosi
Scientific name:Pseudotropheus Saulosi
Origin: Lake Malawi, Africa
Maximum size: 4"
Care: This is a small and moderately aggressive species from the mbuna family,
and a good choice for a typical mbuna aquarium. The minimum recommended
tank size for these fish is 30 gallons. The aquarium should be decorated with a
number of hiding spots including caves of various sizes. Sand substrate is
appreciated by these fish, but is not necessary. Saulosi are best kept in water
with a PH of 7.5 or higher, at a temperature between 75° and 80°. These cichlids
can be housed with mbuna of similar aggression and different markings, and
hyper-aggressive species should be avoided. Proper diet and clean conditions
are very important for the long term health of this fish.
Feeding: As a mostly herbivorous species, the primary diet of Saulosi should be
a high quality spirulina flake. Fresh vegetables may be supplemented. To much
meaty food will cause a fatal digestive condition known as 'bloat'.
Sexing and breeding: All Saulosi are born a deep yellow. As males mature they
morph into a bold blue with black stripes. Because of the aggressive nature of
the males, at least two females for each are recommended. When males are
kept in close quarters the subdominants will display fainter blue coloring, or may
even take on the orange coloring of females in order to avoid the aggression of
the dominant male. Only one male is recommended for tanks less under 50
gallons. As mouth brooders, females will incubate and hatch the eggs in her
buchal pouch, and then continue to hold the fry until the yolk sacs have been
consumed. A typical holding period for this cichlid is 3-3.5 weeks, and the female
will not eat during this time. Once spit, fry are left to fend for themselves. In order
to raise fry the female should be separated into a holding tank, and removed
once the fry have been spit. Fry can be fed powdered spirulina food.

                  Cichlids- Central and South America
                       Tropical Fish Secrets
Common Name: Angelfish
Scientific Name: Pterophyllum Scalare
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: South America
Maximum Size: 5-8 Inches in captivity
Care: This fish is generally peaceful, but will get aggressive in spawning. These
fish are one of the most popular tropical fish out there. With there beautiful
triangle shape and long lace ventrals, no one can resist bringing these guys
home. These fish come in many variables including Gold, Albino , and black. This
fish are starting to be one of the most popular fish in the world.
Feeding: This fish will be alright with flakes, but they do prefer live or frozen
foods. My angels LOVE bloodworms and earthworms.
Sexing: Sexing this fish is impossible, except when breeding.
Breeding: This fish is a cichlid, and like many of them, once a pair is formed they
will be strongly bonded to each other. They will lay eggs on a leaf, mostly
Amazons, but they will mostly put them on the corner of the tank. The parents will
protect there eggs and fry from the other fish. They are some cases were the
parents will even kill fishes 4 times there sizes just to protect their babies.

Common name/s: Apisto Panduro, Panda Apisto
Scientific name: Apistogramma Panduro
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: South America, Rio Tahuayo (Lower Rio Ucayali, Peru)
Maximum size: 3.5 inches
Care:These Apistos prefer soft water and a PH level of 6.5. A good tank
temperature is 80°F. A good tank size is 20 gallons as a minimum and like to be
kept in pairs of trios (1male:2females).Although beware, these Apistos are
aggressive towards other Apisto species, namly females but are not aggressive
towards other non Apisto tank mates. They like lots of plants (their natural
substrate in leaf litter, but is not needed), rocks, caves and wood to swim about.
They're a peaceful fish but can get territorial at times, like all cichlids do. They
come out a lot when there are other fish such as tetras like the Neon that are
also swimming about which tells them everything is safe. They shouldn't be kept
with large and aggressive fish and make great community additions.
Feeding: Frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworm, they also take
flakes and pellets.
Sexing: Females are bright yellow with black markings on its chest areas, Males
are blue and brown colours.
Breeding: PH should be left at 6.5 and water hardness should be at 50ppm and
feed frozen live and add freeze dried food to the mix. Lower the temperature and
add cold water to the tank. They will spawn in caves and are very good parents.
Once the eggs are hatched and the fry are free swimming (usually after 6 days),
they should be fed freshly hatched brine shrimp, vinegar eels and micro worms.
Comments: Often confused with the Apistogramma nijsseni, the males look very
much alike and both species are called Panda Apistos.
                       Tropical Fish Secrets

Common name/s: Apisto Blue Head
Scientific name: Apistogramma Resticulosa
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: South America, Lower Rio Mamoré (Brazil/Bolivia)
Maximum Size: 2.5"
Care:"Blue Heads" (so called because their body is mainly a dull grey in colour
and then a shiny metallic blue on its head) like their water soft and a PH no less
then 7 and no more then 7.5. The tank temperature should be set at 80°F and
any colder will cause problems with fish, often resulting in death. Their natural
habitat has little to no current so that should be tried to be kept to a minimum.
Also in the wild, they live among roots and wood, so in the aquaria a lot of wood
should be used along with floating plants and caves.
Feeding: Frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworm, they also take
flakes and pellets.
Sexing: Females usually have yellow on their chest and head while the males
have the blue (mentioned above).
Breeding: PH topped at 7.5 and feed frozen live and add freeze dried food to the
mix. Lower the temperature and add cold water to the tank. They will spawn in
caves and are very good parents. Once the eggs are hatched, they should be fed
freshly hatched brine shrimp, vinegar eels and micro worms.
Comments: They are fairly new to the trade and haven’t been for sale long. One
of the peaceful Apistogramma and barely aggressive, they only show some signs
of aggression when breeding.

Common name - Blue Acara
Scientific name - Aequidens pulcher
Family - Cichlidae.
Origin - Central American areas ;Colombia, Panama, Trinidad, Tobago,
Max size - 8" in captivity
Care - This beautiful fish will be peaceful with other New World Cichlids of similar
size or bigger, but they will get aggressive during breeding time. They prefer 72-
80°F and a ph of 6.5-8.0. The will need a 50 gallon or higher tank as they do
grow big and need their space. They will not get along with community fish such
as livebearers, and will have these fish as their lunch. They like sandy bottoms
and lots of rocks and caves. Plants should be kept in pots as the roots will get
Feeding - The Blue Acara is omnivorous and will eat most prepared and frozen
foods, including freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and ocean plankton, as well as
flake food and Cichlid pellets.

Sexing - When sexing the Blue Acara the anal and dorsal fins are longer, often
extending beyond the caudal fin, on the male.
Breeding - The Blue Acara is an open-breeder and will accept a range of water
conditions. To promote breeding, raise aquarium temperature to 78-82°F. The
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Blue Acara readily pairs and forms a patriarch/matriarch family and both the male
and female will care for the young. The female will lay the eggs on a cleaned
rock. They will spawn about every two weeks if the young are removed from the
aquarium. Both Male and female will be aggressive when caring for young

Common name: Bolivan, Red, Butterfly Ram
Scientific name: Microgeophagus altispinosa
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: South America, Brazil
Maximum size: 3.5"
Temperature: 74-79 F
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Care: Bolivian Rams are easier to care for and hardier then other rams. A slight
change in ph or temperature will not harm this fish. They are a peaceful cichlid
that do well in community tanks with fish such as; larger tetras, gourami, catfish,
and danios. They enjoy tanks with plenty of hiding places and rocks and leaves
to spawn on. They have an average life span of 4 years and occupy the bottom
and middle areas of the tank.
Feeding: Flake, brine shrimp, bloodworms, cichlid pellets
Sexing: Males and females are very similar in color and size. Males have a
longer dorsal and caudual fin. Males are sometimes larger then females and
display more color.
Breeding: Spawn on smooth stones and leaves. A female can lay up to 200 eggs
but 50-75 eggs are average. Parents will clean and fan the eggs. Eggs hatch
within 72 hours and fry should be fed vinegar eels as a first food.

Common name - Checkerboard cichlid
Scientific name - Dicrossus filamentosus
Family - Cichlidae.
Origin -South America; Rio Negro & Rio Orinoco river
Max size - 3" in captivity
Care - These little fish are a very peaceful species that will go with most
community fish like Blue Rams. They will be most comfortable in a temp of 72-
80°F and a ph of 5-6.The will need a 20 gallon or higher tank. They like sandy
bottoms (gravel is okay) and some caves and plants for them to take cover in.
Feeding - A good quality tropical flake or granule plus frozen shrimp & worm
foods, daphnia, beef heart.
Sexing - When sexing the Checkerd Board, Males are larger and more colourful,
also with more pointed fins.
Breeding - The female deposits up to 120 eggs on flat stones or leaves, the
eggs are yellowish. You should remove the male after spawning is over. The
incubation period is about 72 hours (three days); you should feed the fry brine
shrimp. A good temperature to raise the temp is 80-84F and a P.H of 5.5 will do
                       Tropical Fish Secrets
Common name/s: Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid
Scientific name: Apistogramma cacatuoides
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: South America, Amazon/tributaries
Maximum size: Males 3 1/2" Females 2"
Care: Moderate, prefer soft acidic water but are more tolerant of higher pH and
hardness than most Apistogramma. Do not like toxins or pollutants in the water,
including medications and nitrates/phosphates etc. Although they may act
aggressively towards other fish, they usually do not do damage. Does best with
two or more females per male, with each female having at least one cave. The
male will defend a 'super territory' around the smaller female territories.
Feeding: Frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworm are readily
accepted, may need a lot of persuasion to accept flakes and pellets.
Sexing: Highly dimorphic, males are much larger and more colourful than
females, and also have very long extensions to the dorsal fin. Females are pale
to high yellow depending on breeding condition and stay quite small.
Breeding: Quite easy to spawn for this genus, soft acidic water will increase
chance of successful hatching. Female will lay 50-100 eggs in a cave or structure
that can be defended, male will guard territory. Eggs hatch after 4-5 days of
constant care and fanning by the female, after a further two days the fry should
be ready to accept newly hatched brine shrimp. Both parents may care for the
young although the female may drive the male away violently. If this happens,
separate the male. The female leads the fry through the tank foraging for food
and protects them for up to four weeks.
Comments: Many colour variants are available, double and triple reds and
orange sunburst are quite common. Most are tank bred and wild fish can be rare.

Common name - Convict Cichlid.
Scientific name - Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum.
Family - Cichlidae.
Origin - Guatemala, Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama.
Max size - 6".
Care - True to its name this is a very aggressive fish which is not ideal for a
community tank; the tank should be at least 30 US gallons, with a temperature of
74-79 F. They enjoy plenty of hiding places. All rockwork and decorations
should be well seated, as they will dig and displace them.
Feeding - Convicts will eat most forms of prepared food as well as frozen and
live foods. Vegetables should also be added to keep them in prime condition.
Sexing - One of the easiest cichlid to determine sex. During the breeding period
females will have gold/red spots on her sides and belly. The males’ normally dark
bars will become metallic silver.
Breeding - Convicts are notoriously easy to breed. Ideally a species tank
dedicated to just them will be the ideal situation. Females will lay between 40-100
eggs and it takes about 2-3 days before free-swimming fry are seen. The pair
become very aggressive at this time and will not hesitate to attack any other fish
which is "to close". Fry can be fed almost any form of "fry" food, as well as
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crushed flake food and cucumber. Caution - while breeding pairs of convicts are
usually good partners, there can be aggression among the pair. A method to
separate the pair if this happens is very advisable.

Common name/s: Demon fish, Demon earth eater, Satans perch
Scientific name: Satanoperca leucosticta, often wrongly named Geophagus
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: South America, Amazon basin
Maximim size: 10"
Care: The fish is best kept in small groups and so a large tank of at least 75
gallons is recommended. The fish sifts through the substrate continuously so a
sand substrate should be used to prevent them from damaging their mouths, for
this reason they are also not recommended for planted tanks where they can
damage root systems. The fish does not do well in hard alkaline water so the pH
should be kept below 7.5 with hardness under 15 GH, keep the temperature
between 24 and 26 centigrade (74-79f). Although not an aggressive fish they can
be territorial especially against other earth eaters.
Feeding: Live and frozen foods of all kinds are accepted.
Sexing: Females are plumper; males have a longer and more pointed anal fin.
Breeding: Rare but can be done; the species is a mouth brooder.
Comments: Unlike African mouth brooders the fish only begin mouth brooding
after the fry have hatched. The fish does not tolerate temperature drops well so
care should be taken when doing water changes.

Common name/s: Discus (Blue, Green, Brown, hybrid Discus), Pompadour Fish
Scientific name: Symphysodon discus, Symphysodon aequifasciatus
aequifasciatus, Symphysodon aequifasciatus haraldi, Symphysodon discus
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: South America, black water Amazon/tributaries
Maximim size: 8-10"
Care: Moderate, easy when acclimatized and Discus specific basic care is strictly
observed. Not forgiving of mistakes with water parameters, therefore not
beginner’s fish. Prone to bacterial build up in water, and Hole in the Head
disease (Hexamatia). Both can be avoided largely through attentive care of the
Small fish should be kept in groups (the larger the better) older fish can be kept
singly or in pairs, groups in large tanks. Mature fish prefer soft acidic water (wild
fish will thrive in pH down to 4.5) while young fish need slightly hard water for
proper growth. Most tanks bred Discus will accept a pH up to 7.6 after careful
acclimatization. At any pH above 7, extra special care to eliminate/prevent
ammonia is crucial. Water must be warm, 86F/30C is ideal, with gentle water
flow. Provide plenty of cover with bogwood, roots and carefully chosen plants
that can tolerate heat.
Tank mates should be non-aggressive, unimposing fish. Avoid very active fish,
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for first time keepers, species tank is preferred.
Water changes of 50% tank volume per week is recommended, with more
frequent, smaller changes being preferred (i.e. 20% every second day).
Feeding: Frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworm are readily
accepted, but do not contain enough protein for vital energy. Most accept quality
flake and pellet food, check protein content around 50%. Beef heart or turkey
heart are readily accepted but are messy, recommended for bare bottom tanks
only. Tetra Prima granules highly recommended. Variety and balance is the key.
Sexing: Very difficult except at breeding times, males will develop protruding
breeding tube which is short and pointed, females breeding tube is longer and
thicker, rounded. All other methods of sexing are unreliable.
Breeding: May spawn if conditions are favourable, raising young fish can be
difficult. Rows of eggs will be laid on flat surfaces such as vertical bogwood and
large leaf plants. Both parents care for the eggs and fry, parents will darken in
colour as a mucous is excreted from the skin, the young fish will eat this mucous
as a first food. Newly hatched brine shrimp will be taken as they develop.
Comments: Beautiful fish that requires dedication. Not quite as difficult as its
reputation, but beginners should make the inevitable mistakes with hardier (and
less expensive!) fish before moving on to Discus. Calm and observant demeanor,
Discus will look at you as much as you look at them! Some form of tap water
filtration method is highly recommended (Reverse Osmosis being ideal) to
remove metals that can affect nervous system and other pollutants.

Common name - Festivum Cichlid
Scientific name - Mesonauta Festiva,Cichlasoma festivae
Family - Cichlidae.
Origin - South American, widely spread through the Amazon, West Guyana
Max size - 8" female and 6" male.
Care - The Festivum is, despite its size, a very peaceful fish and also very timid.
They like to hide out in sheltered areas such as caves, rocks/stones or bog
wood. They like to have a temp. between 72-77 degrees. They also like a pH of
6.5-8.0. A recommended tank size for beginners is 50 gallons but can live in
smaller tanks while they are young. (No smaller then 25 gals.)
Feeding - Most foods will be accepted by these fish. I.e. flakes, frozen or live.
Sexing - The males are green with out with out bars and females are red orange
with heavy dark barring.
Breeding -Festivum Cichlids are open breeders and the female will drop from
600-1,000 eggs on rocks and roots. The female who will circulate water over the
eggs by fanning them with her fins, carefully guarding them in pits.

Common name: Firemouth, Meeki
Scientific name: Thorichthys meeki
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: Guatemala
Maximum size: 6 inches (15cm)
Temperature: 75-79
                       Tropical Fish Secrets
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care: Provide plenty of hiding places with rocks. Make sure all rocks are secure
because the fish will dig around them. Use a fine sand substrate, Firemouths like
to dig. Recommended in a species only tank or with similar sized cichlids of the
same temperament. Larger catfish are also compatible. Keep a fairly neutral ph
between 6.5 and 7.5 but 7.0 is recommended.
Feeding: Cichlid flakes, ghost shrimp, bloodworms. Feeder guppies for larger
Sexing: Females noticeably duller and silver in color. Males have a red throat
and chest, females usually do not. Males have pointed anal and dorsal fin
Breeding: Female cleans smooth rocks and lays 100-300 eggs on a rock. Fry
hatch at about 72 hours and can be fed finely crushed flakes and newly hatched
brine shrimp as first foods.

Common name: German Blue Ram
Scientific name: Microgeophagus ramirezi
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: Venezuela
Maximum size: 3 inches
Temperature: 80 degrees
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care: This fish is very sensitive to water quality. As long as you keep the water
soft and the temperature stable, these are an easy fish to care for. A
"community" cichlid that does well with fish such as tetras, gourami, danios, and
Feeding: Doesn't readily accept flakes but with a little coaxing you can get them
to accept them. They like bloodworms and other live foods.
Sexing: Females have a pink belly and are fatter. The dorsal rays are also
shorter. Males have longer black dorsal rays and a more of a yellow tint to their
bodies. Males are sometimes larger than females.
Breeding: Spawn on rocks and leaves. Males and females will clean and
prepare the surface before spawning. Spawns usually yeilds between 25-50
eggs. Very caring parents that do not eat their fry. You can observe them
"fanning" their eggs with their fins. They are very impressive parents. Eggs hatch
in 24-48 hours after spawning and mother and father continue to care for the fry
until they are able to eat on their own.

Common name:Jack dempsy
Scientific name: Nandopsis
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: Central America
Max Size: 9"
Temp:72-78 F.
Care: The Dempsey is definitely not for the community tank. While they may be
kept with other fish of similar size, the Dempsey is best kept in a species tank.
Their aggressiveness should never be underestimated, and increases largely
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during spawning; a minimum tank size of 45g is needed for a single fish. The
Dempsey tank should have a thick layer of gravel, 4-5", with rocks of various
sizes and caves for hiding places. Due to the digging nature of this fish, any
plants which you might have in the tank should be well rooted, and do not be
surprised if they are torn up every once in a while. Pre-soaked clay flower pots
make for wonderful hiding places, as well as a good place for them to lay their
eggs. These fish are from the area of Central America, they should have mildly
hard water, with a neutral to slightly acidic pH. Although water conditions are not
as strict as with other fish, they will be happier and healthier with the right water
Feeding: Omnivorous
This fish is not usually very picky about what it eats, although it may take some
time for them to adjust to a different food they are changing from a consistent
diet. It is best to vary their diet, alternating between pellets, guppies, shrimp,
lettuce, earthworms, snails, and most other crustaceans. This will provide them
with the nutrients they need to become healthy, colorful adults.
Jack Dempseys spawn in the usual Cichlid fashion, the female laying her eggs
on carefully cleaned rocks usually a smooth slate or clay pot. The adults are
model parents and both guard and care for the young.
Sexing the Jack Dempsey becomes increasingly difficult the younger the fish is.
The most obvious ways to tell are with the male having longer and more pointed
dorsal and anal fins, a longer body, and less blue-green coloration on the gill
plate. The body of the female is squatter than that of the male, and the dorsal
and anal fins are shorter as well.

Common name -Keyhole Cichlid
Scientific name - Cleithracara maronii
Family - Cichlidae.
Origin - South American areas, Orinoco delta in Venezuela
Max size - 5" in captivity
Care - This dwarf acara is generally peaceful with all fish, and good for
communitys. They're very shy so should have lots of cover, rocks and plants, in
the tank. The absolute minimum tank size for this fish is 20 gals. no less then
that. They prefer a temp of 80°F and a ph of 7.5. As I said before they are
peaceful with other fish and adding a school of tetras is known to make the fish
less shy towards tank mates.
Feeding - as these fish are omnivores and will eat almost all frozen food and will
also eat pellets and tropical fish flakes.
Sexing - Males are larger and their dorsal fin is more pointed. Mature females
are plumper than males.
Breeding - Despite their generally peaceful nature, Keyholes can become quite
territorial breeding time. Eggs are laid on pre-cleaned stones (flat and rounded).
The parents will guard the fry and the eggs.
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
Common name - Midas Cichlid
Scientific name - Amphilophus citrinellus/Amphilophus citrinellum
Family - Cichlidae.
Origin - Central America, southern Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras.
Max size - 12 inches (30 cm).
Care - This large aggressive fish is not for peaceful tanks. It can only be housed
in tanks that are 75 gallons or more. Recommended tank mates are larger
cichlids i.e. red devils, jaguars, Oscars. or convicts and severums. They like a
tank temp. of 72-79° F. The Midas Cichlid is also often confused with the red
devil, even though these two fish are inbred and sometimes sold as one or the
Feeding - Live earthworms, insects, and vegetables, frozen and freeze-dried.
Sexing - Males are larger with a larger hump on their fore head. It also has
longer fins than the female. The female will grow a hump but the males one will
be larger
Breeding - Male midas will kill the female if she isn't ready. If they do breed, they
will use a vertical structure most of the time. The male will defend the territory
while the female will guard the eggs. Eggs hatch in 3 days and are free
swimming in 5. Feed the fry at this time with small live foods.

Common Name: Oscar
Scientific Name: Astronotus ocellatus
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: South America; Orinoco to Rio Paraguay; Amazon
Max Size: 12 - 14 inches (30 - 35 cm)
Care: Oscars are truly a magnificent fish. Given the best care Oscar's will be
your companion for up to and sometimes over ten years! Oscars should be kept
in a species tank as they can be quite aggressive, and will kill and /or eat any fish
small enough to fit in their mouth. They can be kept with fish of like size, but you
should exercise caution when doing this as aggression issues can occur.
Possible tank mates include Jack Dempsey, Convicts (one or more of the same
sex, as a breeding pair will become VERY aggressive), Tinfoil Barbs, Silver
Dollars, Spotted Silver Dollars, Bala Sharks, Common Plecostomus, Clown
Loaches, Pictus Catfish, and African Brown Knife. Do understand that some of
these possible tank mates are schooling fish or the fish can get quite large so do
your research on size and minimum tank requirements before you add them with
an Oscar. Oscars require a minimum tank size of 75 U.S. gallons or bigger for
ONE Oscar. Remember, bigger is always better. A good filter and regular water
changes are required as Oscars are messy fish. They spit out as much food as
they eat and they produce a great deal of waste. Oscars can and do sulk for any
reason. A simple change in environment can set up a sulking phase. Usually
there is no need to worry about this, as it is natural, but it is always a good idea
to check things like incorrect water temperature, too much food, new
surroundings, poor water conditions, etc. Water temperature between 72-79F,
and pH range between 6.0 - 8.0 and dH range between 5.0 - 19.0. Oscars are
clumsy fish so you should stay away from sharp decor. They are also destructive
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so live plants are not advised. Under gravel filters are not a good choice with
Oscars as they are diggers.
Feeding: Oscars need a varied and interesting diet to promote good health.
Some sort of cichlid pellets (such as Hakari Cichlid Staple) is great as the main
part of their diet, but they also need live foods to promote good digestion. Good
choices are crickets, insects, worms, and sometimes feeder fish. It is best to
raise your own feeders as store bought feeders can introduce disease into you
tank. Other good foods for your Oscar are beef heart (although it can be quite
messy it is really good for them) turkey heart, shrimp, krill, and other really lean
meats. It is good to also have frozen shelled peas on hand. Peas are great for
helping with constipation or just keeping the them regular. Oscars have also
been known to eat other vegetables such as lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, etc. I
also suggest soaking their pellets in some kind of liquid vitamins (like liquid
Centrum) from time to time. This keeps them from getting diseases like HITH
(Hole in the Head).
Sexing: Unfortunately, it is very hard to tell the sex of an Oscar. Oscars are
unlike most other cichlids. The do no show external features that would normally
help determine sex. The only certain way is to catch a pair when they are
breeding and the breeding tubes are exposed. The female's tube is bigger, and
rounded at the end. The male's tube is smaller, and pointed at the end.
Breeding: Oscars will pick one mate and have batch after batch of fry once they
get started. They are egg layers and have anywhere from 200 - 2000 eggs at
once and do this about every month. They will usually lay their eggs on a large
flat rock such as slate. Oscars are very diligent parents, protecting their eggs/fry
aggressively. Do not have any other fish in the tank with a breeding pair as they
will most likely seriously hurt or kill other fish to protect their young.
How to breed oscars:
Getting Ready: You will need at least three tanks. 1) A 180 U.S. gallon tank to
establish your mating pair if you don’t have them already. 2) A 100 U.S. gallon
tank for the parents-to-be. 3) At least a 55 U.S. gallon tank for the fry to grow out
in. Breeding Oscars is not for everyone and especially not for people new to the
fish keeping hobby. In my opinion they are hard to breed, but when they do
spawn they can have anywhere from 200 - 2000 fry at a time and they repeat this
process every month or so! You need to have some way to get rid of all these
Oscar fry and even as popular as they are this can prove to be a daunting task.
Before you take up breeding Oscars, keep in mind that it can be quite hard to sell
or find homes for 200 - 2000 fry every month.
Getting the Mating Pair: Chances are that you will not get a mating pair by going
in to the pet store and picking out two Oscars. The best way to go about getting a
mating pair (although this method is still not guaranteed) is to buy about six (6)
juvenile Oscars and keep them in a tank together and let them pair up naturally.
As you know Oscars are large, messy fish that can be aggressive so a large tank
is necessary for this. (a minimum 180 U.S. gallon as mentioned above) When the
Oscars have paired up you can remove the pair to the 100 U.S. gallon parents-
to-be tank (also mentioned above). The rest of the Oscars in the tank can be
returned, sold or kept if you are up to the task. If you do decide to keep them,
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remember Oscars require lot of care and attention.
Getting the Pair Ready to Breed: Now that you hopefully have your mating pair
you will need to get their home ready for breeding. You need at least a 100 U.S.
gallon tank with good filtration and pea sized or smaller gravel or sand as a
substrate. You will also need a large flat rock such as slate and a cave or pot.
You can decorate with driftwood and such but I don’t see this as necessary.
Keep up with your water parameters (as you always should) and change the
water regularly. All you have to do now is watch for the mating ritual signs listed
Mating Rituals: Mating rituals include moving the substrate around in the tank,
cleaning the slate and rubbing against the rocks or slate, shimmying their bodies
and fins against each other, and lip-locking.
Breeding: When you start to see the above mentioned signs of mating it is
suggested that you do a rather large water change of about 75% and raise the
temperature to the middle 80’s not to exceeding 85° F and subdue the lighting.
This helps encourage the mating process. When they are ready to lay and
fertilize the eggs they will start spending a lot of time around the area they plan
on having the eggs. (usually the flat rock/slate) Two females have been known to
go through all the motions and even lay eggs, so you could still not have a
male/female pair. It also needs to be mentioned that it may take several times for
them to get it right. Don’t get discouraged if they don’t have fry the first, second,
or even third time. When you do have eggs make sure they are fertile. The way
you do this is by the color of the eggs. After about 24 hours, if the eggs are white
they are not fertile. They will be a yellowish or tan color if they are fertile. All
unfertilized eggs need to be removed. Just be careful of attacking parents.
Oscars are very diligent parents. They will guard the eggs/fry very aggressively. I
also need to mention that there should be no other fish in the tank with a
breeding pair. The parents will attack and can seriously hurt or kill anything they
see as a threat to their eggs/fry.

Common name: Rainbow cichlid
Scientific name: Herotilapia mulltispinosa
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: Central America, near/in Nicaragua
Max size: 5"
Care: The minimum tank size should be a 20g long (30"L x 10"H x 12"W), at a
temperature of 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit (24-27 degrees centigrade) My
rainbows thrive in a neutral pH of 7.0. The tank should be well furnished with
plenty of rocks and gravel for them to hide in, because without enough attention,
they become timid fish (Further info later in article). These can be kept together
but once a male and female pair off (chances are they will) those two will become
aggressive to all other fish. They are notgenerally aggressive, but when kept with
other cichlids they can get territorial (they wouldn't be a cichlid if they didn't).
Feeding: Not picky, will eat cichlid sticks, but try to keep their diet varied, they
eat vegetable material.
Sexing: The male has a pointed anal and dorsal fin; the females don't and have
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larger stomachs.
Breeding: They will breed almost as readily as convicts, get a male, get a
female, set the temperature and you have eggs. They will la eggs on a flat
surface (Rocks, slate, and flower pots have all been my rainbows choices) these
guys are awesome parents, and mine have never eaten their babies.
Comments: I currently have nine of these (Breeding pair, lone female, and 6
juveniles from a previous spawn) I have the juvies and the single female in my
room, and they come out to interact with me (as much as a fish possibly can), but
the pair is in a separate room, and is quite skittish. So when you get them as
active little juvies, try to keep them near where people are so they don't hide and
or freak out when you try to clean the tank or move things around or in the tank.
these are a great fish and will add plenty of personality to a tank.

Common Name/s: Severum/banded cichlid
Scientific Name: Heros severus
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: Amazon, Northern South America
Maximum Size: 8"
Care: Severums like their temperature to be around 73-77°F, their pH to be 6.0-
6.5, and their dH to be 4-5. They need a tank with at least 30 gallons. They will
eat smaller fish and will possibly attack peaceful fish. Be sure not to put them
with aggressive fish. They need a softer substrate with natural decor (plants and
rocks), but also need enough room to swim freely.
Feeding: Severums are heavily omnivores. They are also can be picky. It is best
to feed them freeze-dried or live foods daily along with some vegetation and their
staple or cichlid food. Some good foods for them are krill, plankton, bloodworms,
tubifex worms, and crickets. They also like the frozen herbivore cubes that you
can usually find at your lfs. I prefer to feed them pellets instead of flakes because
of how they come at it (they hunt it).
Sexing: Differentiating between the male and female is very difficult. Usually the
male is has much more color and longer fins, but until breeding occurs there is
no guarantee on what their sex is.
Breeding: Severums do not pair off as easily as most fish do. The female can
lay as many as 1,000 eggs. The eggs are usually placed on slate or other forms
of rocks, but if desperate they will be laid on the aquarium glass. Eggs laid on the
aquarium glass usually do not survive. It is best to offer a short, flat, large rock to
the breeding pair to lay their eggs on. Both the male and female guard their eggs
very closely and will even attack you if you try to stick your hand near them. It is
best to let the fry grow up with their parents.

Common names: Mother of pearl eartheater, Surinam Geo
Scientific name: Geophagus surinamensis
Family: Cichlidae
Max size: Around 10"
Origin: South America (Surinam and surrounding areas)
Care: Neutral pH (7.0), temp should be around 80F (27C). This fish needs a very
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line substrate in order to thrive in aquarium life. Geophagus species are called
eartheaters because they constantly sift through whatever their substrate might
be, looking for food. Sinking foods are best for these fish, as their mouth isn't
adapted to eating from the surface, and if forced to do so, the fish may become
malnourished from a lack of food. These geos can be kept in a small group or
singly, although mine is kept with other fairly large growing cichlids.
Diet: Sinking pellets/wafers or sinking frozen foods are good.
Sexing: Females may have less finnage.
Breeding: They should breed once you have a pair, they are mouth brooders, so
don't expect to see eggs.
Comments: This is a great fish for a dedicated and patient fish keeper. While
Surinam geos are bland in color while young, they get more beautiful as they
age, and they will grow fin extensions on their claudal, dorsal, and ventral fins
(Tail, top fin, and rear bottom fin) they are very active in nature, and have a great
personality, they definitely make a good addition to the right tank.
Attitude: Semi-aggressive, although they may chase new tank mates

Common names: Uaru (Wah-roo), triangle cichlid and occasionally, poor man's
Scientific name: Uaru amphiacanthoides
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: South America, black water environments. Found in same areas as
angelfish and Discus
Max size: 12" (4' tank minimum)
Care: It is recommended that Uarus are kept in groups because they are a
cichlid that prefers to be in a group and will most likely become skittish when kept
alone. Keeping them in a group while in juvenile stage is critical, if they don't feel
secure when young, they never will. If you can not house more than one or two
Uarus due to their size, other fish can work as a foster family IME. I kept my
single Uaru with several rainbow cichlids, and they served as his fellow Uarus for
a few months, and have now been replaced with a severum and Surinam
geophagus. Temp should be from 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit (27-32 degrees
Celsius) they do well at a neutral pH.
An appropriate Uaru tank will have plenty of driftwood or FAKE plants for shelter,
as Uarus love plants and actually need them in their diet. Uarus aren't
aggressive, and won't do well when kept with overly aggressive fish. Severums
make great companions for Uarus, because they both have very similar needs.
Feeding: Uarus aren't very picky at all once they have settled into their
environment. They will eat just about any fish food you give them, although mine
ignores pellets. Be sure that your Uaru gets enough vegetables though; they can
be the key to keeping yours healthy.
Sexing: Near impossible
Breeding: Very difficult, it is said that they breed in the same manner as discus.
Other info: A very interesting fish, what it lacks in color is made up for by its dog-
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like personality and eagerness to eat. If you have the space for an Uaru, get one

Common name/s: White spotted pike cichlid, spangled pike cichlid
Scientific name Crenicichla saxatilis
Family: Cichlidae
Origin: South america
Maximum size:10"
Care: Care is similar to that of members of the Central American Cichlasoma
group of fishes, and a large tank with plenty of hiding places and robust tank
mates is a basic. The fish does not do well in hard and alkaline water, a pH
above 7.5 should be avoided, temperatures of 25 to 30 centigrade (77-86f) are
preferred. The fish is aggressive to members of its own species and other pikes,
but can be combined with other large, semi aggressive species. The fish is a
predator and tank mates should be at least 4" to avoid becoming food.
Feeding: Large meaty frozen and live foods, the fish rarely accepts pellets.
Sexing: Males are larger and more brightly coloured, with extensions on the
dorsal and caudal fins. Females have eye spots on the dorsal and caudal fins.
Breeding: Difficult but possible, the hardest part is finding a suitable pair without
them killing each other. The species is a cave spawner and after a brief courtship
the eggs are stuck to the ceiling of a cave. The fry hatch within 4-6 days and can
be fed with newly born live bearer fry.
Comments: The fish is one of a large group of species of the saxatilis group
(spangled pikes). All members of this group are predators and have many of the
same needs and requirements.


Scientific name: Balantiocheilus melanoptrus
Common names: Bala shark, silver shark
Family: Cyprinidae
Origin: Southeast Asia
Maximum size:13"
Care: The large adult size means that this fish should be kept in nothing less
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than a 75 gallon tank though larger is preferable as the fish is a schooling
species that needs to be kept in groups of at least 3. Bala sharks are not fussy of
water parameters providing the water is clean and not overly hard or high in pH,
the temperature should be kept between 22 and 28 Celsius. A sand or small
gravel substrate is preferred as the fish will spend a lot of time searching the
substrate for food, avoid sharp decor as the fish is skittish and will often damage
its self if frightened, tall plants along the back and sides of the tank will help to
keep the fish calm. A tight well fitting lid is essential as the fish is a jumper and
will attempt to leave the aquarium.
Feeding: Small live and frozen foods like bloodworm and daphnia are best
though flakes and pellets will also be taken, some soft leaved plants may be
nibbled on.
Sexing: Females are larger and fuller bellied
Breeding: This fish has not been bred in captivity without the aid of hormone
Notes: Large specimens have a high oxygen requirement so special care must
be taken during the summer months to prevent the tank from over heating.
During hot weather the use of a large air stone connected to a powerful air pump
is recommended.

Common name/s: Batik Loach
Scientific name: Neomacheilus triangularis
Family: Cobitidae
Origin: India
Maximum size:3-5"
Care: They prefer warm water 80-81F and a PH of 6.9-7.2. Another Loach that
prefers to live singly, however, it is still and peaceful Loach and makes a strange
and wonderful addition to any peaceful community.
Feeding: Accepts most foods but frozen and live foods are far preferred.
Sexing and Breeding: Unknown
Comments: A shy Loach that often takes time to adapt to its new surroundings,
provide plenty of hiding places so it can feel comfortable and venture out on its
own accord. It prefers a fine soft substrate to burrow in. When nervous or
stressed the fish can change from a light brown to a very deep black.

Common name(s): Bengal danio, Sind danio, Turquoise danio
Scientific name(s): Devario devario, Danio devario.
Family: Cyprinidae
Origin: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal & Pakistan.
Maximum size: 3.9"/10cm
Ideal Temperature: 75-86 F (15-26 C)
Description: Very similar to the Giant danio only more arrowhead shaped & a lot
more yellow on the tailfins. These are often sold as Giants.
Feeding: Will accept flake floods, pellets. Loves live foods such as bloodworms
and daphnia.
Breeding: Easy. Egg-scattering like other danios. Easiest using breeding tank
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with feathery plants and marble substrate, remove adults after eggs are laid.
Note: Like all danios Bengals are a community fish & should be kept in a school
of at least 5.
Bengal danios are one of the best coloured danios. When all ideal conditions are
met, then the bright yellow colouration of tailfin is shown at its most splendid.

Common name: Black Khuli Loach
Scientific name:Pangio javanicusi]
Maximum Size:3-4"
Care: Almost identical to the normal Khuli, however I've found this loach far more
friendly and outgoing than the normal khuli- they are out more often in daytime.
They also appreciate hiding places and plants to root around in.
Feeding - Will accept most foods but be sure to provide a varied diet including
frozen foods and live if possible. Also ensure some food reaches the bottom for
them. Mine likes cucumber
Sexing and Breeding - Not often accomplished in home tanks, only easily sexed
when a female becomes egg bound.

Common name: Blue loach, Orange finned loach.
Family: Cobitidae.
Scientific name: Botia modesta.
Origins: Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam.
Feeding: Omnivorous. Suppliment with frozen shrimp, sinking pellets,
Maximum size: 10-12" though usually smaller in captivity.
Lifespan: Possibly 10 years or greater.
Recommended tank conditions: At least 55g, with a soft or small-grained
substrate, lots of caves/driftwood hiding places.
Mix with semi-aggressive species that have similar requirements. This loach will
do best in groups of 4 or more, and can get very aggressive alone. In larger
groups, will cohabitate nicely with yo-yo loaches and clown loaches. Will dig a lot
so live planted tanks are probably not an option. Has three sets of barbels. Like
other Botia species, there is a sharp spine located below the eye which the fish
will errect when handled or netted. This can inflict quite bad cuts to the unwary
and get tangled in nets, so beware trying to handle these fish. Will occasionally
do strange things like sleep on their side or leap into a HOB filter.

Common Name(s): Bull Heads, Rosy Reds, Tuffies.
Scietific Name: Pimephales Vigilax
Family: Pimephales
Origin: Iowa, United States
Maximum Size: 10cm / 4 inches
Care: These fish are very hardy. Their PH preference is around Neutral (7). Bull
Head Minnows are used mostly for bait, toxicity testing, and mosquito control.
They require simple care and can survive in temperatures above freezing (33) to
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90 degrees Fahrenheit. Preferably around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees
Celsius). Requires basic fish care.
Feeding: Bull Head Minnows will eat just about anything you place in the tank.
They do not seem to prefer pellets as they are hard to bite of pieces.
Sexing and Breeding: Sexing these minnows are some-what difficult. The
males have black heads and vertical stripes down their bodies and on their fins.
They also grow white breeding tubercles like goldfish and fleshy black growths
on top of their heads. The breeding tubercles occur in three rows on the snout.
Females lack tubercles, fleshy growths, and vertical stripes. They are much
smaller, shorter, and plumper. They also have a very visible ovipositor once
sexually mature. The ovipositor is a short, fat tube near the vent from where eggs
are deposited. Female fatheads are an olive-brown color with a horizontal stripe
down the length of their bodies. Female rosy reds are a washed out orange-
Breeding these minnows is very easy; in fact, they are the easiest egg-laying fish
in the United States. Fatheads and rosy reds begin to breed at about 6 months
old, and females are at their prime at about 1 year old. Males mature a little later,
peaking often in their second year. Maximum size is usually achieved at two
years of age for both sexes. The exact age of maturity depends on temperature,
crowding level, and water conditions as with most animals. They live from 1 to 3
years in tanks but less in ponds with predators. Mature males stake out territories
when the temperature is between about 65 to 85 degrees F. Fatheads and rosy
reds breed from late April into early September in Zone 6/7 of the USA.
First, they require a tank of about 20 gallons or more and need a nice clean tank.
Second, they require rocks or ledges such as slate or any flat hard rocks. Using
flate slate rocks at the local fish store and setting them up in a cave-like structure
works fine.
When breeding occurs. The male first prepares the breeding site and guards it by
chasing off any curious fish. Then, if a persistent female continues to come to the
cave or ledge, eventually the male will let her in. When spawning, the male
presses the female up onto the cave ceiling or ledge and she releases her eggs
while he releases his sperm. After spawning the female(s) may come back
several times until they are empty. After the spawning has finished, you can
remove the rock or leave it to the male to take care of. The male will use his
fleshy spot on his head to rub and tend for the eggs. He has an anti fungal pore
on the top of his head to spread on the eggs and keeps them will oxygenated. If
he finds and fungus-infected eggs he will remove the egg and place it outside of
the nest. About 4 days are required for the eggs to hatch. Once hatched the male
will ignore them unless he is properly fed. It is recommended to take the fry out of
the tank and place them in either a fry net or a separate fry tank.
The fry are raised just as any other fry and in about 9 months the fry will be
sexually mature. They live for about 1.5 years or more, depending on the living
condition they are in.
Comments: If proper steps are taken, this fish is very easy fish to breed, and it is
recommended to have a separate tank for the fry, preferably a 5 gallon or so.
Due to their living conditions under the "Feeder Fish" tanks in pet stores, most
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are usually infected with fungus and various diseases. You can also order them
online or can actually be found in cricks, streams, still water ponds, and trenches
throughout the U.S.

Common Name/s: Burma danio.
Scientific name: Danio Sp. Burma
Other scientific names: None.
Family: Cyprinidae
Origin: Myanmar
Maximum Size: 3.25” / 8cm
Care: Similar conditions as for Zebra danios. They are good jumpers like most
danios and a good fitting lid is a must.
Feeding: Omnivorous, will accept all commercial flake foods. Loves brine
shrimp, daphnia etc.
Sexing and Breeding: Easy. Females are fuller figured that males. Often spawn
at dusk.
Comments: A nice danio that schools tightly. They will make a good addition to
any community tank. I have observed no fin nipping from this species.

Common name/s: Chain/Dwarf Loach.
Scientific name: Botia sidthimunki.
Family: Cobitidae
Origin: Northern India and Thailand.
Maximum Size: 2"
Care: They should be kept in a group of at least 4 individuals, provide good
planting and plenty of hiding places as these fish will often dart around before
resting in a favoured retreat. A small peaceful little Loach will live happily in most
community tanks, however, they tend to shy away if more boisterous and larger
fish are around.
Feeding: Most foods will be accepted but Frozen and Live foods are favoured,
especially bloodworms.
Sexing and Breeding: Not captive breeding reports, little or nothing known.
Comments: A great little fish that will constantly dart around the tank in groups
before settling on a leaf. A great addition to any tank.

Common name: Dwarf red rasbora
Scientific name: Microrasbora rubescens.
Family: Cyprinidae.
Origin: Myanmar.
Maximum Size: 5cm/ 2”
Care: A semi-hardy fish that likes a good open space at the top of the tank for
fast swimming. Provide plenty of foliage for hiding in. Another lovely little shoaling
fish that will suit any peaceful community tank.
Feeding: Omnivorous; Will accept most flake foods, daphnia, brine shrimp and
bloodworms (live if possible.) Will eat pellets; however you may need to crush
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them as they are often too large for their mouths.
Sexing and Breeding: Males have a slender body when compared to the
female. To breed you need a good tallish plant as the males constantly drive the
females and try to lure it into the plants to spawn. They will spawn at dawn,
however unlike most egg scatterers they do not try to eat the eggs immediately,
but will if left in the tank after spawning.
Comments These are a very nice community fish and they make a change from
keeping neon tetras as a small fish. I have had mine spawn but at this time no
production of fry.

Common name/s: Giant Danio.
Scientific name: Danio aequipinnatus, formely known as Danio malabaricus.
Family: Cyprinidae
Origin: India, Myanmar, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Maximum size: 4" (10cm).
Care: They are not specific about water conditions providing extremes of pH and
hardness as well as the other parameters are avoided. One of the larger species,
also an active shoaling fish that needs to be in groups.
Feeding: As with other Danios, it is an insectivore and with an upturned mouth is
ideally suited to taking insects from the waters surface. Fortunately for us, they
are not fussy about food and will take mainly flake and frozen foods without
Sexing and Breeding: Danios are prolific and very easy to breed. Males are
slimmer and more intense in colouration than females. Pairs can often be used
but most prefer them to shoal spawn. Set-up your breeding tank with Java moss
or other suitable substances on the bottom so the fishes can scatter their eggs,
but cannot eat them as no parental care is practiced. As with barbs ensure they
have a good supply of small live foods, starting with infusoria and newly hatched
brine shrimp. Make sure the breeding tank is covered as the fishes can be so
active that they leap from the water.
Comments: One of the larger species but by no means less attractive with its
lovely markings. They make a great addition to any medium sized community in
a fast swimming shoal.

Common Name: Harliquin, Lamb chop rasbora.
Scientific Name: Harliquin Rasbora
Maximum Size: 4.5cm (1-2")
Sociability: Mid level water dweller, schooling fish which prefers a minimum
group of 6-8.
Minimum Tank size: Small community tanks are ideal for a small group. A 30
gallon would be suitable for 12 to 24 harlequins.
ph: 6.5-7.5
Temperature: 24-28 degrees C (76-80 degrees F)
Sexing: Female is much larger and rounder than the male. Male is generally
much smaller than females.
Care Level: Great for Beginners.
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Care: Very easy, requires no special attention. A quite hardy little fish which will
not harm others. God quality water with frequent maintenance will help this fish
live a long life and show beautiful colours.
Aquarium: Good for small community type aquariums, prefers groups larger
than 6. A heavily planted, dimly lit aquarium provides this fish with the best
environment. Provide ample swimming space.
Feeding: Omnivorous. Will take live, frozen or flake foods.

Common Names: Horsefaced Loaches.
Scientific name: Acantopsis dialuzona.
Family: Cobitidae
Origin: Southeastern Asia, Sumatra, Borneo, Java; occurs in fresh water only.
Maximum Size: 8"
Care: A large Loach that requires a fine, soft substrate to bury in. Provide plenty
of hiding places if you want to see it above ground. Can and will jump so be sure
to provide a good lid with no gaps. Another social fish that does best in groups. A
peacefully Loach that can live peacefully in most community tanks with peaceful
Feeding: Accepts most foods preferring frozen and live foods.
Sexing and Breeding: Little is known about breeding.
Comments: A wonderful Loach with an inquisitive nature. However, they are
rarely seen but you can consider it more of an 'event' when you see the fish
poking out above the substrate.

Common name/s: Spotted or Leopard Danio.
Scientific name: Danio rerio var. frankei, was formerly known as D. frankei and
thought to be a species in its own right but is now considered a variety of D. rerio.
Family: Cyprinidae
Origin: India.
Maximum size: 2" (6cm).
Care: They are not specific about water conditions providing extremes of pH and
hardness as well as the other parameters are avoided. As with most Danios an
active shoaling fish that needs to be in groups. Inhabiting the more upper levels
of the aquarium as with most other Danio species.
Feeding: As with other Danios, it is an insectivore and with an upturned mouth is
ideally suited to taking insects from the waters surface. Fortunately for us, they
are not fussy about food and will take mainly flake and frozen foods without
Sexing and Breeding: Danios are prolific and very easy to breed. Males are
slimmer and more intense in colouration than females. Pairs can often be used
but most prefer them to shoal spawn. Set-up your breeding tank with Java moss
or other suitable substances on the bottom so the fishes can scatter their eggs,
but cannot eat them as no parental care is practiced. As with barbs ensure they
have a good supply of small live foods, starting with infusoria and newly hatched
brine shrimp. Make sure the breeding tank is covered as the fishes can be so
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active that they leap from the water.
Comments: Another wonderful Danio species which has a long-finned form.

Common name/s: Moustached Danio, Danglia Danio, Olive Danio.
Scientific name: Danio danglia.
Family: Cyprinidae

Origin: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal & Myanmar.
Maximum size: 15cm (6")
Care: Easy, but need a large tank, due to adult size, with plenty of open space at
the top for swimming.
Feeding: Omnivoures, will eat anything from flaked food to shrimp and smaller
fish. I have also seen them eat apple and bananas, but would only use as a treat.
Sexing and Breeding: Very hard to tell male from females as they only show the
differences when the female is egglaiden. Breeding is the same as with other
danios and adults should be separated from the spawning tank.
Comments: The second largest species of danio. Looks like a very large pale
leopard, only more pink than brown. Can be distinguished from all other danios
by the large dark spot on the gill coverings.

Common name/s: Orange Finned Danio, Orange Finned Zebra Danio.
Scientific name: Danio kyathit.
Family: Cyprinidae
Origin: Most of Asia
Maximum size: 8 cm. (3.25")
Care: They are fused about water conditions providing extremes of pH and
hardness and gH are avoided. Slightly larger than the normal Zebra Danios.
Feeding: Will accept flake floods, pellets and live foods such as bloodworms and
Sexing and Breeding: These are not as easy to breed as Danio rerio, but like
them they are egg-scatters. The best method is using a breeding tank with
feathery plants or breeding mop and marble substrate, remove adults after eggs
are laid.
Comments: Like all Danios, kyathits are a community fish and should be kept in
a school of at least 5. Danio kyathit are the not so common as Zebras and are
often mislabelled as Zebras. When all ideal conditions are met, then the
colouration is shown at its most splendid. There are two colour variations of
Kyathit the stripped and the spotted.

Common name/s: Pearl Danio.
Scientific name: Danio albolineatus.
Family: Cyprinidae.
Origin: Burma, Sumatra, Thailand.
Maximum size: 2" (6cm).
Care: They are not specific about water conditions providing extremes of pH and
hardness as well as the other parameters are avoided. An active shoaling
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species that should be kept in groups.
Feeding: They are insectivores and their upturned mouth is ideally suited to
taking insects from the waters surface. Fortunately for us, they are not fussy
about food and will take mainly flake and frozen foods without hesitation.
Sexing and Breeding: Danios are prolific and very easy to breed. Males are
slimmer and more intense in colouration than females. Pairs can often be used
but most prefer them to shoal spawn. Set-up your breeding tank with Java moss
or other suitable substances on the bottom so the fishes can scatter their eggs,
but cannot eat them as no parental care is practiced. As with barbs ensure they
have a good supply of small live foods, starting with infusoria and newly hatched
brine shrimp. Make sure the breeding tank is covered as the fishes can be so
active that they leap from the water.
Comments: Breed by the thousands in commercial fish farms, albino and long
finned strains are now available.

Common name/s: Pingi Logsucker
Scientific name: Garra pingi pingi
Origin: E.Asia
Maximum size: 4-5"
Care: A rare bottom-dwelling fish, Garra pingi pingi grows to about five inches in
its native quick-flowing waters of Eastern Asia. The water should be cool and well
oxygenated. Feed a wide variety of foods including sinking vegetable matter,
commercial foods and frozen foods. In my experience they prefer algae wafers
and bloodworm. A subspecies, Garra pingi yiliangensis was discovered in 1977.
Sexing and Breeding: Unknown
Comments: Garra pingi pingi has been showing up in a few aquarium stores,
being sold as a pond fish. There is very little information about this Asian fish.
From what I have gathered, it is similar in behavior and appearance to various
loaches and "algae eaters." It is reported to eat algae but probably is
opportunistic and from my experience this is true. A subspecies, Garra pingi
yiliangensis was discovered in 1977.

Common Name: Polka-dot Loaches.
Scientific name: Botia kubotai, previously Botia angelicus and often seen for
sale under the name Botia angelicus.
Family: Cobitidae.
Origin: Asia.
Maximum Size: - 4"
Care - As with most Botias they are best of in a group of at least four individuals,
they aren't as hardy as others and need good water conditions. Provide plenty of
hiding and resting places.
Feeding - Most foods will be accepted but Frozen and Live foods are favoured,
especially bloodworms.
Sexing and Breeding - Not captive breeding reports, little or nothing known.
Compatibility - A medium sized Loach which suits any peaceful community
                       Tropical Fish Secrets
Comments - Relatively new on the scene, this Loach may be harder to find than
others. But if you can find them they are a nice attractive fish that is generally

Common Name/s: Queen Loach
Scientific name: Botia dario
Family: Cobitidae
Origin: Mountain streams of Bangladesh.
Size: 2-3"
Care: Slightly more delicate then other Botias so be sure to provide good water
conditions. Again they prefer to be in groups like most Botia, preferable four or
more. Plenty of hiding and resting places. Another small and peaceful Botia that
will suit most peaceful community tanks.
Feeding: Will eat most commercial foods but prefers live and frozen foods and in
my experience bloodworms is a particular favourite.
Breeding: No captive breeding reports and little or nothing is known about
Comments: A lovely little Loach that will busy itself in the open in groups for
most of the time. Attractive and peaceful this fish is perfect for a nice peaceful
community tank.

Common names/s: Red-finned Shark, Rainbow Shark, Ruby Shark.
Scientific name: Epalzeorhynchus frenatus.
Family: Cyprinidae.
Origin: S.E. Asia (Thailand)
Maximum size: 6" (15cm)
Care: Planted tank with plenty of rocks, wood and caves. At least 36" in length.
Keep the water clean, well filtrated and aerated.
Feeding: Omnivorous, some vegetable matter is required in their diet as well as
more meatier foods like bloodworms. They will accept most foods ranging from
commercially prepared flakes to live foods. Sometimes they will also graze on
Sexing and Breeding: Males can sometimes be distinguished by a slimmer
body and black lines/markings on the anal fin. Breeding has occasionally
happened in the aquaria but it is rare and hard due to their aggression towards
their own species.
Comments: This is a relatively small and attractive fish. However, although less
of a nuisance than E.bicolor they can still show aggression towards fish of a
similar shape and size so they do not make good community fish in all cases. Do
not keep more than one of this genus to a tank. Captive breeding has now
produced an albino form but it is still equally aggressive.

Common name(s): None however expect to be known as Rose Danio
Scientific name: Danio roseus.
Origin: Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.
                       Tropical Fish Secrets
Maximum size: 6.8 cm (2.75")
Care: Will only tolerate pH: 6.0 - 8.0 & Hardness: 5.0 - 19.0 anything more or
less will have serious consequences. Other than that the same as for Zebra
danio (Danio rerio), 23-25c / 73-77f.
Feeding: Will accept flake floods, pellets and live foods such as bloodworms and
Sexing & Breeding: Females are typically fatter than the males. Sexually
mature adults have intense red to the underside. They are easy to breed and
spawn at dusk or dawn. Like all danios they are egg-scatters. The easiest
method is using breeding tank with feathery plants and marble substrate, remove
adults after eggs are laid.
Comments: Very similar in appearance to Pearl danios but slimmer and have
red underside. Like all Danios, Roseus' are a community fish and should be kept
in a school of at least 5. Danio Roseus are the newest found Danios and are
hard to come by at the moment. When all ideal conditions are met, then the
colouration is shown at its most splendid.

common name/s: Scissortail.
Scientific name: Rasbora trilineata.
Family: Cyprinidae.
Origin: S.E Asia.
Maximum size: 3½ in (8 cm).
Care: Provide this Rasbora with plenty of open swimming space and a tight
cover or it may jump. They are not particular about the pH of the water and will
happily live between 6.6-7.0. These fish should also be kept in a group, ideally as
large as possible. I would recommend a tank of at least 25 gallons.
Feeding: Excepts most foods but frozen and live foods are far preferred.
Sexing and Breeding: Females are slightly rounder when viewed from above.
Pairs of fish make spawning runs through thickets of plants and the eggs that are
scattered attach themselves to leaves. The parents should then be removed
otherwise the eggs will be eaten. The fry will hatch after 28-30 hours but will not
be free swimming until 3-5 days at which point feeding should begin, newly
hatched brine shrimp and other small live foods are best.
Comments: A shy fish by nature but very interesting to observe. They make a
good addition to any peaceful community aquarium.

Scientific Name: Crossocheilus Saimensis
Common Name: True Siamese Algae Eater
Family: Cyprinids
Origins: Southeast Asia, Thailand (formerly Siam, hence the name Siamese
Algae Eater)
Maximum Size: 6"
Description: SAEs are slender grayish green/brown fish with a black stripe that
extends from the tip of the nose/mouth all the way through the fork of the tail.
Their fins are transparent to milky with no color to them. Their underside is
silver/white. The black stripe may fade if the fish is stressed or fighting.
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
Care: SAEs are very active, peaceful fish that do best in schools but they may be
kept in pairs. They need a tank with lots of swimming room and plenty of plants.
They love broad leaf plants which younger fish will lay on to rest. Older fish prefer
to lie on the bottom or low plants. Mine also love to lie on the slate I have in my
tank. Minimum tank size for an adult pair is 25 gallon.
They are very adaptable and can handle pH of 5.5 to 8.0 but ideal is 6.5 to 7.0.
Water temperature should be 75-79F (24-26C). Tank should also have a good
cover as they are said to be good jumpers although I have never seen mine try to
Feeding: They eat most types of algae but will also accept flakes or other foods.
Mine love shrimp pellets.
Sexing: The females are said to often be fatter than males but no other
differences are known.
Breeding: SAEs have not been bred in captivity yet and are all wild caught.
Compatibility: SAEs are not aggressive and make great additions to any
community tank that is large enough. Their active nature can stress some slow
moving and sensitive fish. They will occasionally chase each other but they don't
get hurt. They will not bother other tank mates. It is said that they should not be
kept with Red-tailed Sharks as that species is very aggressive towards its own
Comments: Their swim bladder isn't very developed so they can't stay in
midwater. They must either stay in motion or sink. They also have a peculiar way
of resting. They don't lie on their bellies but instead keep themselves propped on
their tail, pelvic and pectoral fins. Mine seem to grow very fast in the first 6
months, going from about 3/4" to 1" up to about 3 or 4". In optimal conditions, it is
said they can reach their full adult size in about 2 years but usually don't grow
that fast or ever reach full size. They can live up to 10 years.
CAUTION: There are two other fish often sold as SAEs that you want to be
aware of. Here is a brief description of them and how to tell them apart.
True Siamese Algae Eater: This is the fish I have. The black stripe runs from
nose through the fork of the tail but is transparent in the tail. The edges of the
stripe also zigzagged.
False Siamese Algae Eater: Extremely similar except the stripe starts at the eye
and stops at the base of the tail, not extending through the fork. The edges of the
stripe are also much smoother. These fish will eat some algae but not much.
They can also be aggressive toward their own kind so there shouldn't be more
than one adult False SAE in a tank.
Flying Fox: Once again, extremely similar. The stripe runs from the nose through
the fork of the tail just like the True SAE except the stripe through the tail is much
darker, broader and not transparent. They also have a much darker back and
their fins have black markings too. They also are aggressive toward their own
type and so only one adult per tank is best.

Common name: Silver Khulie
Scientific name: Pangio muraeniformis
Family: Cobitidae
                       Tropical Fish Secrets
Origin: Borneo, Singapore and Sumatra.
Maximum Size:12cm 4¾"
Care: A hardy Loach that likes to bury in a fine, soft sand substrate. Provide
plenty of hiding places as they like to stay hidden until evening/night time.
Another Loach that will suit any peaceful community.
Feeding: Will accept most commercial foods but love a varied diet which should
include frozen and live foods.
Sexing and Breeding: Silver Khulies have not been breed in the home
Comments: The silver Khulie loach is a very interesting fish. They are 'eel-like',
and they seem to impress many keepers. They have very attractive colours and
markings; they will make a great and interesting addition to any community tank.

Common name: Skunk Loach, Hora's Loach
Scientific name: Botia morleti
Family: Cobitidae
Origin: Thailand
Maximum size: Up to 4"
Care: Skunk Loaches are relatively easy to care for Loaches, and are hardier
than most other Loaches. They require a tank temperature anywhere between 79
and 86 degrees F, with a pH of 7.0-7.5. They would appreciate sand or rounded
gravel substrate to dig in. They also require hiding places as they are nocturnal.
Feeding: Will accept most foods including algae wafers, sinking pellets, frozen
and live foods. Snails are also a favorite. Will usually feed after lights out.
Sexing and Breeding: There have been no records of this fish breeding in
captivity. It is also unknown as to the sexing of these Loaches.
Comments: A shy nocturnal Loach for the most part, they can get quite
aggressive, especially as they grow older. Keep this in mind when buying them. If
you buy a small group the aggression tends to stay within that group, but if
bought singly, they may turn that aggression onto the other fish in the aquarium.
Another thing of note, this Loach needs a tight fitting cover on the aquarium as it
can and will jump.

Scientific name: Barbus tetrazona
Common name: Tiger barb
Family: Cyprinids
Origin: Sumatra
Max size: 2.5 - 3"
Min. Tank size: 30 us/gallon
Description: Tiger barbs are probably the most popular of of all the barbs. The
body color is basically a golden yellow, with four distinct black bars.
Care: Tiger barbs should be kept in groups of at least six to ease aggression.
When kept in small numbers tiger barbs will stress and nip other tank inhabitants.
They are hardy fish who do not cope well with high nitrite levels. Tiger barbs will
usually show warning of climbing nitrite levels by hanging still in the water with
their head pointed down.
                       Tropical Fish Secrets
Feeding: Tiger barbs are hardy eaters who will accept a wide range of food. A
varied diet of flaked, frozen and live foods is a good choice. Vegetables such as
peas and cucumber should be used occasionally to keep them in good condition.
Care should be taken not to over feed them. An easy way to spot over feeing is
their head pointed down motion.
Sexing: Males have deep orange-red fins and a bright red snout. The females
are easily spotted by their comparative lack of colour and their deep, convex
body shape.
Breeding: Two tanks are ideal in order to breed tiger barbs. One tank should be
stocked with at least 10 different specimens. A healthy pair should be chosen
and placed in a tank which is no smaller than 30 us/gallons. The substrate should
be medium sized stones (marbles work good) and large leafed plants. Tiger
barbs are egg scatterers and will drop between 50-100 eggs which will then fall
between the substrate preventing the parents from eating them. Although tiger
barbs are very fussy about water spawning conditions, they do prefer softer
water and low alkaline conditions. The parents should be removed from the tank
once eggs are spotted. Incubation will last about 48 hours before fry start to
hatch. Microworm and brine shrimp should be fed as well as finely crushed flake
Comments: Tiger barbs when kept in the right circumstances are bright active
community fish. There is also a green and albino form of the tiger barb which
should be cared for in the same manner.

Common name/s: Tiger Loach
Scientific name: Botia berdmorei
Family: Cobitidae
Origin: Thailand, Burma.
Maximum size: 6-8"
Care: This is one of the few aggressive Botias and should only be kept one
specimen per tank or more if space and caves are provided, so each fish can
stake out a territory. They are not specific of water conditions just needing low
nitrate and ammonia levels and a PH of 6.5-7.5.
Feeding: Prefer live and frozen foods and will often only accept this at first but
they can soon be trained on to sinking pellets and flakes. But be sure to always
include live and frozen foods in their diet.
Sexing and Breeding: Unknown
Comments: A nice rare and attractive Botia, but remember its size and

Common Name/s: Weather/Dojo Loach
Scientific name: Misgurnus angullicaudatus
Family: Cobitidae
Origin - Asia, China, Korea, Japan.
Maximum Size - The Common Dojo/Weatherfish is drab to light brown naturally,
though there are "Golden" Dojos (xanthistic varieties, not albinos) that are
human-produced. This species attains a maximum length of about twelve inches.
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
The Spotted Dojo or Weatherfish only reaches a natural length of six inches.
Care - They should kept in a group preferable in cool, well oxygenated water
although they can withstand tropical temperatures.

Feeding - Omnivorous, accepts most foods.
Sexing and Breeding - Breeding is pretty difficult, mainly because hobbyists
know little about their breeding habits etc. Spawning takes place in the spring to
the beginning of summer, before water temperatures are too warm. It is believed
that a slight rise in temperature after several months will trigger spawning.
Pectoral fins are used in sexing mature fish; they are larger in males than in
females. Spawning follows a courtship ritual between a breeding pair, this may
last for some time, and fertilized eggs will hatch after 3 days. For the first week
the fry feed on infusoria, after which they may be fed on newly hatched brine
Comments - Most common are the Common, Misgurnus anguillicaudatus
(Cantor) and Spotted, Cobitis taenia (Linnaeus) Dojos or Weatherfishes. They
are often called "living barometers" of their increased activity at the approach of
changing weather. These fishes are pressure-sensitive, swimming about more if
it’s about to rain for instance. Both are excellent scavengers. They should be
kept with their own species.

Common name/s: White Cloud Mountain Minnow.
Scientific name: Tanichthys albonubes
Family: Cyprinidae
Origin: White Cloud Mountains in China.
Maximum size: 1.5" or smaller.
Care: It can be kept in cool conditions, as low as 16C/60F, and some people
keep them outside during summer months. Fishes that have been kept in outdoor
pools over summer have more colour than the indoor fish due to the abundance
of natural foods, from insect larve to algae. It can also be kept at the lower end of
the tropical scale.
Feeding: They will accept most commercial foods but relish live and frozen
Sexing and Breeding: Males are slimmer and have more intense colouration
than females. Often you can separate a pair to spawn, however, some prefer the
fish to shoal spawn so the females aren't stressed as much. They are egg
scatterers that will readily breed and left to their own devices in a well-planted
tank they will quickly multiply. However, they show no brood care.
Comments: A wonderfully colourful little fish. When kept in groups you can often
see them flaring there fins and showing off those magnificent colours. A great
little community fish kept with other small peaceful fish.

Common name: Zebra Danio, Zebra Fish, Striped Danio.
Scientific name: Danio rerio
Origin: India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan.
Family: Cyprinidae
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
Maximum size: 2 inches
Care: A super hyper fish. Very tough and often used to cycle tanks. These fish
like to be in groups of 6 or more. They are top dwellers. They are often used as
"dither fish" to distract bigger, more aggressive fish. This fish has a long finned
and short finned variety as well as many color morphs although basic care is
same for most morphs. These guys make a great community fish and fish for
beginners. Keep with tetras, gourami, small cichlids, puffers (dither fish), catfish,
livebearers, barbs, and other minnows. They require a tank of at least 10 gallons
preferable more and a temperature of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Feeding: Accept flake floods and live foods such as bloodworms and
Sexing: Females are MUCH fatter then males. They sometimes look like they
are going to explode. Females have more of a silver tint in between stripes and
males have a gold tint. Females usually bully males which is weird because in
most fish it's the other way around.
Breeding: Move male and female into a separate tank with a layer of round
marbles at the bottom. Eggs will fall in between the marbles so parents can't eat
them. Fry hatch within 36 hours and look like little white tadpoles against the
glass. They become free swimming in 3 days.

Common Name/s: Zebra Loaches.
Scientific name: Botia Striata.
Family: Cobitidae.
Origin: Southern India, Tunga river system.
Maximum Size: 3".
Care: Zebra Loaches have no special requirements. A tank size of 36 inches
with a fine substrate like sand is preferred as they are continually searching for
food using their barbels. Like most Botias they will make considerable indents on
any snail population and can therefore come in very handy. Zebra are best kept
in a group, they can be semi-aggressive sometimes. Provide plenty of hiding
places as you would with most Loaches. Generally suited to most community
tanks but be warned there are reports of some semi-aggressive behavior towards
other bottom dwellers but it is unlikely.
Feeding: Will readily except most foods, be sure to provide a varied diet of
frozen and commercially prepared foods.
Sexing and Breeding - Little or nothing is known about the breeding of this fish.
No reports of captive breeding.
Comments - A nice little fish with a great character. When you have settled a
group into your tank they will endlessly roam the tank providing constant action.

                        Tropical Fish Secrets

Common name: Siamese Fighting Fish / Betta
Scientific name: Betta Splendens
Family: Belontiidae
Origin: Thailand & Various other asian countries
Maximum size: 3 - 3.5"
Minimum Tank size: 1.5 - 2G
Temperature: 23 - 30C (74-86 F)
The Betta is a beautiful fish that exists in all manor of colour variants from whites
and silvers through yellows and blues to reds and blacks. Its beautiful flowing fins
and graceful movement make it a wonderful fish to own.
Bettas originate in the shallow waters in Thailand (formerly called 'Siam', hence
their name), Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and parts of China. They proliferate
rice paddies, shallow ponds, and even slow moving streams. Because of their
natural habitats being fairly enclosed areas Betta keepers can often get away
with using tanks as small as a gallon but it is advisable to keep them in at least 2
gallons to keep them happy and give them plenty of space to swim.
Being Tropical fish they love a humid climate and so having a heater in a betta
tank is much more important than a filter, especially in a smaller tank were heat
loss is quick.
Having the "Labyrinth" organ means that they can also breathe air from the
surface of the water as well as through their gills. The organ is a maze of folded
skin that filters the air for oxygen, hence the name labyrinth.
Bettas will feed fine on dried foods and betta pellets as well as treats of frozen
bloodworm or brine shrimp on occasion. They generally like more meaty foods
and so will turn their nose up at most flakes.
Bettas also love live food and will happily eat live brine shrimp.
The general rule of sexing is that the Males have long flowing fins whilst the
females have much shorter fins. However, watch out for Plakats and other short
finned bettas as well as longer finned females       .
Breeding: The Betta is a bubble nest builder and the male will build his nest for
the female to lay her eggs in. When they are ready to spawn, the pair will display
intense coloration and begin circling each other under the bubble nest. The male
will wrap himself around the female who has turned on her back. As she expels
                         Tropical Fish Secrets
the eggs, they are fertilized and begin to sink. The male will scoop up the eggs
and spit them into the nest. From this point on the male will tend the brood. It is
advisable to remove the female, as the male may become aggressive towards
her as he tends his young.

Common name/s: Betta falx
Scientific name: Betta falx
Family: Osphronemidae
Origin: Indonesia
Maximum size: 1.5in (3.5cm)
Betta falx are one of the more commonly available wild-type Betta species in the
aquarium hobby. They are a small, hardy, mouth brooding fish, from the Picta
Group or Complex, and can be kept and bred quite easily and successfully.
They hail from Indonesia, where they are found in quiet, stagnant waters with
submerged vegetation. The water usually has a pH of 4.7-6.8, though in the
home aquaria they easily acclimate to higher pH levels (I keep mine at pH 7.6,
and they have even spawned at this level). Temperatures should be around 72-
79 degrees F (22-26 degrees C).
Housing requirements are quite simple for this species. A basic 10 gallon US
tank is sufficient for a pair. For larger groups, a larger tank will be needed. Tank
decor should include "caves" (usually the inexpensive terra cotta pots you can
find at local craft shops will do the trick, I even use clean shot glasses covered
with gravel), plenty of plants (live or fake, its up to you), a simple sponge filter (it
is fry-friendly), and of course, a tight fitting lid (falx, like all bettas, are jumpers).
Wild-caught varieties may be pickier initially but many keepers have found they
DO adjust to most foods. But tank-raised falx will pretty much eat anything. I
have even gotten mine to take flake food readily.
Betta falx, in general, are your typical mouth brooding betta in that they spend
much of their time hiding or holding fairly still, until food falls in front of them. At
that point, they will charge out and gobble it up. Though, as I have found, they
are not above coming to the surface as well to eat, rather than waiting down
below for the food to fall. Some foods of choice would be frozen brineshrimp,
frozen bloodworms, frozen daphnia for the youngin's, as well as a variety of live
Betta falx can be difficult to sex, especially when juveniles. Both males and
females have a light brownish body with three black, horizontal stripes down the
length of the body. The central stripe starts at the snout and crosses over the eye
(the eye often almost blends into the line, giving them an interesting look). When
courting and spawning, the stripes will become even more prominent. Along with
that, the male's anal and caudal fins will color up a nice red-brown, and the blue
and black bands on the anal fin also become more prominent (refer to male
photo below).
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
Most falx keepers/breeders will tell you that falx are like rabbits, breeding
constantly. Many find they actually have to separate the sexes when not planning
on a spawn. The female is usually the one who gets the party started by
choosing a male and chasing off any other males or females. You will see some
courting behaviors which I like to call "falxy-flirting." The male will display his fins
and his color will deepen (see the male photo below, taking during courtship).
The female will do her own dancing about, and each will "present" themselves,
nudging, pecking, and rubbing past each other. When they are finally ready to
spawn, the male will "embrace" the female, basically wrapping himself around
her. They line up their vents, and as the female releases eggs, the male fertilizes
them. The female will then pick up the fallen eggs and spit them at the male, who
will catch them and hold them in his mouth. He will stop taking them in when his
mouth is full.
At this point, unless you have them in a large or divided tank, it is best to remove
the female. If she is allowed to stay, she is likely to try to get him to spawn again
and he may spit/swallow the eggs before it is time for release, resulting in the
loss of the spawn. (B. falx will usually attempt to spawn about every two weeks)

The male will now "hold" the eggs in his mouth anywhere from 7-14 days, until
the fry reach maturity. Then the male will release the free-swimming fry. During
this "holding" time the male will become less active, stop eating, and hide out
more than usual. You will notice him turning the eggs from time to time in his
mouth, quite a sight.
I have found B. falx to be a great starter fish for folks interested in keeping mouth
brooding wild-type bettas. The male displays wonderful coloration during
courting, and their whole courting and spawning ritual is something you don't
want to miss. I have found my two pairs to be bold and quite the attention pigs,
rather than being shy and skittish like so many wild-type species. They are very
active little fish and a joy to watch and own.

Betta simplex is a small sized mouthbrooder in the picta group. The most
common type locality of betta simplex is the krabi province of thaland, but there
are many other lesser known localities which create a bit of a variety meaning the
krabi species is possibly smaller or larger then those from other localities.
Features: The most distinguishing feature of betta simplex is its very large head.
The males’ body color is generally light brown to yellow-ish while the females is a
yellow-tan color generally marked by fear or breeding stripes. The anal fin of the
male features horizontal yellow, blue/green, black, and white stripes (see photo).
the tail also features a blue stripe as it almost looks as if the anal fin connects to
the tail with the stripes during breeding displays.
Sexing: The male simplex is generally more colorful then the female. The male's
gill and throat covers are an iridescent green while the females are white or
yellow. The female also does not feature the tail and anal fin stripes that the male
does. Both male and female have distinctive chin markings extending to the
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
Breeding and Keeping: Betta simplex prefers alkaline water between the Ph of
7.0 and 7.5, as they are from limestone pools some mainly the krabi locality
prefers a bit of limestone. The temperature must be between 75 and 80 degrees
Fahrenheit or they will become stressed. Betta Simplex is very sensitive to water
temperature. A pair can happily be kept in a 2.5 gallon tank minimum to 5 gallons
is preferred. Nothing special must be done to get them to breed if you keep a pair
together. During conditioning a variety of foods may be fed. My fish eat frozen
bloodworms, mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, live grindal worms, and live brine
shrimp. During spawning the female initiates the embrace but no eggs will fall if
the male is not ready. They must also be kept in a low traffic area if not you will
have a lot of difficulty in getting the male to keep a spawn. After spawning the
female picks up most of the eggs and the "tosses" them to the male one by one
and if he is too slow to catch them she snaps them up and tries again. Spawning
may last up to 24 hours. After spawning you will see the males’ lower jaw extend
and he will not eat during incubation. Betta simplex holds eggs for around 10
days and the female ovulates about every seven so if the female is not removed
at least 3 days after spawning she will pester the male to spawn again in seven
days and you will lose the first batch. After 10 days the male will release guppy
fry sized babies in groups of 20 or less. They can immediately take a variety of
live foods. Young males that have spawned for the first time will most likely not
carry the eggs for all 10 days and swallow them. Other reasons for swallowing
eggs include infertile eggs, diseased eggs, or sometimes no reason at all.

Common name: Banded Gourami
Scientific name: Colisa fasciata
Family: Anabantidae
Origin: North India
Maximum size: 4-5 inches
Minimum Tank size: 20 gallons
Temperature: 76-82 degrees
Care: A timid gourami that will not do well with aggressive tank mates. Does not
compete well for food and will quickly starve if bullied by other fish. Does well
with smaller, peaceful schooling fish such as neon tetras. This fish does well in
planted tanks with plenty of places to hide. Being that it is timid, it likes to hide a
lot so you might not see this fish as much as other species of gourami. Males can
be kept in pairs since this gourami is not aggressive towards other members of
the same sex.
Feeding: Accepts a variety of tropical flake foods. Also excepts live and frozen
foods such as bloodworms and brineshrimp. Is also known to eat algae from
leaves of plants and rocks.
Sexing: Males are very colorful with vertical orange bars and orange dots on the
end of the dorcal fin. Females are noticeably fatter when looked at from above,
are also more drab in color and more grey then the males. Also look for rounded
fins in females and pointed fins in males.
Breeding: A typical bubblenest breeder. Condition both male and female on live
foods. This gourami makes a nest in between floating plants and can lay up to
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900 eggs in one spawn but this is not common. Soft water with a P.H. of about
5.5 is necessary for eggs to develop and hatch properly.

Common Name/s: Chocolate Gourami.
Scientific name: Sphaerichthys osphromenoides.
Family: Belontiidae.
Origin: Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo.
Maximum size: 2.5 inches.
Care: One of the most delicate species of fish to keep, it is very fussy about
water quality and food. It should be kept in a densely planted aquarium with
subdued lighting, perhaps under a blanket of floating plants. Water detoriation
will leave the fish open to bacterial and fungal infections. Keep a group of 10-12
individuals. A species aquarium dedicated to these fish is best. A small peaceful
species of loach may be added for example as long as they do not unsettle the
Breeding: Some controversy surrounds just how Sphaerichthys osphromenoides
(Chocolate Gourami) breeds. This may have something to do with the fact that
there are possibly four different types of Chocolate Gourami. Of the two forms
which have been observed, Sphaerichthys osphromenoides selatanensis is a
mouth brooder in which the male carries the eggs, while the other, Sphaerichthys
osphromenoides osphromenoides, has been noted as being both a
mouthbrooder, in which the female carries the eggs and a bubblenest builder.
Newly hatched Brine Shrimp is the best food for the fry.
Comments: A lovely little fish, but because of the attention it demands it is not
common on the commercial market. If you can get a group of these fish settled in
they are great to watch and maybe even breed.

Common name/s: Croaking Gourami or Talking Gourami
Scientific name: Trichopsis vittata
Family: Osphronemidae
Origin: Asian jungle streams
Maximum size: 2" - 2 1/2"
Care: These fish are not difficult as far as water requirements - they will be fine in
72-82F, and from 6.5-7.5 pH. They are shy, so pick tankmates accordingly (no
aggressive or overall active species). They are middle-range tank dwellers.
Croaking Gouramis prefer well shaded tanks with plenty of hiding areas, well-
planted if possible, along with the absence of a strong current. Clean water is a
Feeding: They will accept all types of flake food, and enjoy small live food to
supplement their diet.
Sexing: Gender differences are fairly unknown or obscure, though it is said that
males have more red in their anal fin and tail, along with having extensions on
the same fins. The male may also have a more pointed dorsal fin.
Breeding: The male builds a loose bubblenest either in an enclosed, submerged
area such as a pot, or at the surface of the water (anchored by plants, etc). Then,
the male courts the female, until she follows him to the nest. He wraps around
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the female while she expels the eggs, and he fertilizes them. Then, he picks up
the eggs and blows them into the bubble nest, where he tends them until they
hatch. The fry are very small and need infusoria and small live foods such as
microworms for the first weeks of life.
Comments: These fish actually do make a "croaking" noise - either during
spawning or when two males are displaying for each other. Also, Croaking
Gouramis often look very boring and dull in pet stores, but become extremely
beautiful when healthy and happy. Their blue and green coloring shows up, along
with adorable blue eyes.

Common name/s: Dwarf Gourami
Scientific name: Colisa lalia
Family: Belontiidae
Origin: India, Bengal and Assam
Maximum size: Males - 2 1/2", Females - 2"
Care: They can live in most tropical aquariums with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5,
and a temperature of 72-82F. Overly active tank mates, along with fin nippers,
should be avoided. They prefer to have their quiet, along with plenty of space. It
is best to keep either 1 Dwarf Gourami per tank, or several. Males can be quite
aggressive to each other, so if 2 are kept, they must have a large tank with plenty
of hiding spaces. They prefer to have some floating plants.
Feeding: Dwarf Gouramis will accept flake food, but also enjoy frozen and live
foods. They also will appreciate some vegetable matter in their diet and may eat
rotting plants or algae in a planted aquarium.
Sexing: Males are brightly colored, larger, and have a more pointed dorsal fin.
Females are mostly silver, occasionally with a hint of other colors. They are
smaller and also chubbier in the midsection.
Breeding: The male will build a bubble nest at the surface of the water among
floating plants, and where there is not a strong current. After courting the female
by intensifying his colors and flaring his fins, she will follow him to the nest.
There, the eggs are expelled and fertilized, and the male picks them up and
blows them into the nest. After the fry hatch, they must be fed the tiniest of foods
(such as infusoria), because they are extremely small.
Comments: Male fish of this species come in several color varieties, including
Neon Blue, Powder Blue, and Sunset/Fire Red (shown in picture). The normal
male Dwarf Gourami is blue with red vertical stripes.

Common Names: Honey Gourami.
Scientific name: Colisa chuna.
Family: Belontiidae.
Origin: Bangladesh.
Maximum Size: 2 inches (5 cm).
Care: Requires peaceful companions as it is a shy fish. PH 6 to 7.5, soft and
nitrates and ammonia levels kept low. Only requires a small tank of 10-20
gallons, or a long, lightly stocked 5 gallon. Provide planting and hiding places.
Peaceful, suitable for community tanks, doesn’t do well with boisterous
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Feeding: Omnivore, will accept most commercial foods, but relishes frozen foods
like Bloodworm and Brineshrimp.
Sexing and Breeding: A rather messy bubble nest is built compared to other
species; the eggs are kept in a single very tight clump at the centre of the
construction. Courtship is also a little different, with the male standing on his tail,
with his nose pointing towards the surface. His colours are heightened even
more at this time, and he spreads all his fins to the out most and wags his body
to and fro. The fry are tiny so feed small fry foods regularly through out the day in
small portions. Keep the aquarium clean as any uneaten food will quickly cause a
detoriation in water quality. Males are usually more colourful than females, but
youngsters show little colour so buy a group.
Comments: A lovely, peaceful little fish that does well in the common community
and shows great colours when mature.

Common Name/s: Kissing gourami.
Scientific name: Helostoma temminckii.
Family: Helostomatidae.
Origin: Java, Thailand
Maximum Size: They grow quite large, some 6-12 inches (15-30 cm), in
captivity, so be prepared to give them space.
Care: They are very adaptable, tolerating most water conditions, but they do like
to be warm, in the 26-28C (79-82F). Aquarium layout & size: Because of the
fish’s eventual size they need to be housed in a fairly large aquarium, 25-30
gallons is suitable. As they are not quarrelsome they may be kept with most fish
species, however, beware that some individual fish have been known to show
aggression towards smaller species.
Feeding: Most aquarium foods are accepted, such as flakes, pellets and frozen
or freeze dried foods.
Sexing and Breeding: Although they can be breed in the aquarium, do this only
if you have plenty of space - a pair will produce up to 10,000 eggs! The sexes are
virtually impossible to distinguish.
Comments: There are two colour forms of this fish, the green and the pink. The
green fish is considered the wild form and the pink the aquarium form, the later
being the most commonly available to the aquarist. This fish is usually kept for
their novel way of testing each other's strength. The kissing action is not, as we
may suppose, a sign of affection between male and female, but a trail of strength
between two males, and forms part of a courtship ritual as they try to impress a
suitable female. These fish are very useful in the aquarium because they will pick
away at algae, taking it plant leaves without damaging them.

Common Name/s: Moonlight Gourami, Moonbeam Gourami, Thin-lipped
Scientific name: Trichogaster microlepis.
Family: Helostomatidae
Origin: S.E. Asia.
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Maximum Size: 6" (15cm).
Care: Water conditions are not critical, soft to medium hard, pH 6.2-7.8.Planted
tank with gentle circulation and some floating plants to make them feel secure.
Normally quite peaceful, but may become territorial with other gouramis or similar
fish. 25-29C (77-84F).
Feeding: Omnivorous, most foods accepted.
Sexing and Breeding: The male will build a large bubblenest. During spawning,
the colour of the threadlike ventral fins becomes intense and will change from
orange to red. The tank should be heavily planted so the female may hide if the
male shows any aggression until ready to spawn. Once the mating is over,
remove the female as the male will guard the nest. The males have the classic,
larger, more pointed dorsal fin. Pelvic fins of males may show orange-red colour
Comments: Although not as colourful as other members of the genus, this fish is
not one to be over looked. Its striking silver colouration stands out in a well
planted tank.

Common Name/s: Opaline Gourami or Three-spot Gourami
Scientific Name: Trichogaster trichopterus
Family: Belontiidae
Origin: Malaysia, South China Sea
Maximum Size: Up to 6 inches
Care: The Opaline Gourami is compatible with a variety of tank mates that are of
similar size and temperament. While males can be territorial (and this can't be
stressed enough from my experiences with this fish) with each other and other
tank mates, they become timid around other, more aggressive fish. The ideal
tank set-up would be a minimum of 20 gallons and have plenty of live plants as
well as rocks and driftwood for use as hiding places. Ideal water temperature is
72-82 degrees F; pH 6.0-8.0; KH 4-18.
Feeding: The Opaline Gourami is an omnivore and prefers both algae-based
foods as well as meaty foods. An algae-based flake food, along with freeze-dried
bloodworms, tubifex, and brine shrimp will provide these fish with the proper
Sexing and Breeding: The best way to differentiate between the male and
female Opaline Gourami is by the dorsal fin. In the male, the dorsal fin is long
and pointed, while the female's is shorter and rounded. When ready to breed, the
male builds a bubblenest and begins to entice the female by swimming back and
forth, flaring his fins and raising his tail. When this behavior is noticed, the water
level should be reduced to 6 inches. After spawning, the female should be
removed to a separate tank as the male may become aggressive toward her.
The male will tend to the eggs until they hatch. After hatching, there should be
frequent water changes, especially during the third week, as this is when the
labyrinth organ is developing. The fry should be fed infusoria and nauplii.
Additional Comments: Male Opaline gouramis can definitely be quite
aggressive and may brutalize and nip the fins of slower-moving fish, such as
Angelfish. It's best to keep them in tanks with other active fish that can out-swim
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the male in a chase. If your male opaline gourami becomes too much of an
aggressor, add floating plants -- if your tank can handle more fish, the adding of 2
or 3 female opalines can keep the male away from other tank mates.

Common Name/s: Pearl Gourami, Leeri Gourami
Scientific name: Trichogaster leeri
Family: Belontiidae.
Origin: Southeast Asia
Maximum Size: 4"
Care: One of the hardiest gouramis around. They prefer an acidic pH, but do not
demand it. Will tolerate pretty much any aquarium water as long as extremes are
avoided. A very peaceful fish, this is the ideal tankmates for many fish as they
are not too small and make a beautiful addition to most tanks. However, in
keeping them with some fish, I have noticed that some fish like to nip at their
ventral fins, or "feelers". This is stressful for them, and should be avoided. They
like to be in well planted tanks.

Feeding: Will eat almost anything, as it is an omnivore. Prepared foods such as
flakes and pellets are taken without hesitation. Fresh vegetables, well washed,
may be used to supplement its diet.
Sexing and Breeding: There is a very clear difference between the two, as the
males have a very bright red throat, while the female does not. To breed it,
condition a male and a female with live foods. Following that, put them in a
smaller tank, reduces the water level, and has many floating plants. The male will
then build a bubble nest, and they will breed. Once the eggs are laid, remove the
female. The male may be removed after the fry are free-swimming. Infusoria or
liquid fry foods should be fed at this time. At around two weeks, freshly hatched
brine shrimp may be fed. After approximately a month, you may begin feeding
them crushed pellets or flakes.
Comments: One of the hardiest and most beautiful gouramies, it is easily found,
and makes a fine addition to any community tank.

Common names/s: Spotted Climbing Perch, Leopard Ctenopoma and Bushfish.
Scientific name: Ctenopoma acutirostre.
Family: Anabantidae.
Origin: Africa, Congo Basin.
Maximum size: 8", 20cm.
Care: They like a well planted tank with soft, slightly acidic water which should be
warm; anything less than 24C (75F) is too cold. Their method of feeding is to drift
close to the prey and then lunge at it, so if you are keeping them with other fishes
it is important to make sure they are getting a chance to feed. If they can't get
any food try feeding at both ends of the aquarium at the same time so that the
more voracious don't know which way to turn and the Ctenopoma get a chance
to feed. Take care when handling these fish, they have serrated edges to their
gill covers and when intimidated may flare. If this takes place when the fishes are
sparring with each other there are no problems, the trouble starts if you are trying
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to catch them, as the serrations easily entangle in the net. If this happens, do not
try to pull the fish from the net; put the net and fish in the tank and the fish will
usually release itself.
Feeding: A carnivore that may require live as well as frozen foods but can be
trained to take commercial foods and frozen foods.
Breeding: Ctenopoma are a bubble-nest builder. Very soft and acidic water is
required and an increase in water temperature may trigger spawning. The
parents show little brood care.
Comments: A very nice and attractive fish. There are other species available in
the hobby including; Ctenopoma ansorgii, Ctenopoma fasciolatum, Ctenopoma
oxyrhynchus and Ctenopoma kingsleyae.

Common name/s:Ceylonese green snakehead
Scientific name:Channa gachua
Maximum size:12", 8" is a good size in captivity

Care: Can be kept alone or in a small group, minimum tank size for one would be
20g or 40g for a group though larger tanks would be better. They are not fussy of
water parameters as long as the extremes of pH and hardness are avoided, keep
the temperature between 22 and 26 centigrade (71-79f), as with all Channa
species they are intolerant of salt and even small amounts can kill them.
Decorate the tank with dense plants and bogwood caves, if keeping more than
one make sure there are two caves for each fish. The fish are predators and so
tank mates should be equal sized or larger.
Feeding: Live and frozen meaty foods of all kinds, earth worms and crickets are
Sexing: Females are larger than males
Breeding: Once a pair has formed breeding is easy, the fish are mouth brooders
and brood care is similar to that of cichlids, the fry can be fed on new born live
bearer fry and small live foods.
Comments: The species is identical to Channa orientalis in all ways apart from
C.orientalis has no ventral fins. All snakeheads are powerful jumpers so the tank
needs a tight fitting heavy hood.

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Common Name: Guppy
Scientific Name: Poecilia reticulata
Origin: Central North America to Brazil
Maximum Size: 2 inch
Care: This fish is very easy to care for, they are a pretty hardy species and can
tolerate a variety of water conditions, but prefer slightly alkaline water.
Temperature should be 68-79° (degrees) Fahrenheit. The minimum tank size is 5
Feeding: Be sure to provide a variety of foods, preferably live ones, because a
nutritious, complete diet will enhance their colors and ensure good health. Keep
in mind that they will eat their young if they are small enough.
Breeding: These fish are very easy to breed and they are able to have a batch
of fry every 28 days. A pregnant female can be identified by the gravid spot
(darkened area) behind her anal fin. An average brood is average is 40 to 50
Sexing: The females are bigger than the males, the males are much more
intensely coloured than the females. Males have a gonopodium. - See the article
for explanation of gonopodium.
Comments: Guppies live only about two years. There are many different colour
and fin combinations available. It is advised to keep two or three females to every
one male to prevent the males fighting it out between each other.

Scientific name: Dermogenys spp.
Family: Hemirhamphidae
Origin: South and South East Asia; most imported fish are from Thailand and
Maximum size: Typically around 5 cm, rarely up to 7 cm
Minimum Tank Size: Length at least 60 cm, depth relatively unimportant
Care: Wrestling halfbeaks of the genus Dermogenys inhabit a variety of waters
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from soft and acidic through to slightly brackish. While Dermogenys pusilla
apparently does best in slightly brackish water as far as captive care goes, a
variety of species are sold under the wrestling halfbeak name, others prefer
somewhat soft, acidic to neutral water conditions, as with Dermogenys montanus
and Dermogenys sumatrana. Importers and retailers make no attempt to
separate these species before selling them, and they are in fact very difficult to
tell apart. The safest approach is therefore to keep these fish in neutral, slightly
soft to moderately hard water and only add salt if it is obvious that the fish are
unhealthy. As with other halfbeaks, they do not tolerate large changes in water
chemistry, so small but frequent water changes are best (I do around 5% once or
twice a week). These fish also appreciate plenty of floating plants amongst which
to hide, particularly if they are kept in a community tank with other, more
boisterous, species.
Social Behaviour: Females are fairly tolerant of one another and will sometimes
swim in pairs or small groups, but males are very aggressive towards one
another. Their fights can lead to injuries, so it is best to keep only a single male
per tank except in large tanks with plenty of places for weaker males to hide. Be
prepared to remove these fish if they a being constantly harassed. These
halfbeaks are otherwise peaceful, and should not be combined with aggressive
or substantially larger fish.
Feeding: Readily takes live, frozen, and flake foods. Small insects and insect
larvae are the best foods, and excellent for conditioning the females and keeping
them healthy during pregnancy.
Sexing: The anal fins of the males are modified and appear "folded", producing a
structure analogous to the gonopodium of poecilid livebearers like guppies and
mollies. Males of some varieties of wrestling halfbeak have red or red-and-yellow
dorsal, anal, and caudal fins, but not all.
Breeding: Similar to the red fin halfbeak. Pregnancy length very variable, from
three to eight weeks depending on the species of halfbeak. Broods typically
around a dozen fry, which are able to eat small live foods and frozen lobster eggs
immediately after birth.
Comments: Wrestling halfbeaks are much smaller and more slender than
Celebes and red fin halfbeaks of the genus Nomorhamphus. They also tend to
stay close to the surface of the aquarium whereas Celebes halfbeaks spend a lot
of time swimming in the middle of the tank. Small Nomorhamphus spp. could be
mistaken for Dermogenys spp.; the best way to distinguish them is by looking at
them from above. Whereas the beaks of Dermogenys are bordered by
transparent 'flanges' creating a scoop-like structure, those of Nomorhamphus
lack these flanges and appear more needle-like.

Common name: Red fin halfbeak / Sulawesi halfbeak
Scientific name: Nomorhamphus ebrardtii
Family: Hemirhamphidae
Origin: Indonesia, fresh and slightly brackish water
Water chemistry: Ideally pH 6.5 to 7.5 and moderately hard
Maximum size: Females up to 10 cm, males somewhat smaller
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Minimum Tank Size: Length at least 60 cm, depth relatively unimportant
Care: Red fin halfbeaks (and halfbeaks in general) have a reputation for being
delicate and difficult to keep. This is not entirely justified. Once settled in and
feeding, they are hardy and tolerant of a wide range of water conditions, from
slightly soft and acidic through to slightly brackish. However, they are very
intolerant of sudden changes in water chemistry, to the point where large water
changes can end up killing some or all of the fish. Small weekly water changes
(of around 5% the tank's volume) are recommended. Floating plants are very
useful as they stop these fish from jumping, and you should always keep the tank
covered. In small aquaria theses fish can swim into the glass when shocked and
damage themselves; putting plants along the edges of the tank will help to
prevent this.
Social Behaviour: Highly aggressive towards one another regardless of sex,
these fish must not be overcrowded. They do not fight to the death, but males will
damage their beaks and fins, and sometimes lose some scales as well. This
opens them up to possible infections such as fin rot and mouth fungus.
Commercially available treatments for these diseases are safe and effective. A
single male kept with multiple females is the best strategy in small aquaria. In
larger tanks (100 litres or more) you may be able to keep more males if you use
plants, especially floating plants, to create safe areas that allow males to avoid
one another. Red fin halfbeaks are completely harmless towards other fish,
though they will eat very small livebearer fry (though not usually their own). On
the other hand, these fish may be bullied by aggressive species such as cichlids.
Feeding: Prefers live foods, but readily accepts frozen substitutes such as
bloodworms, lobster eggs, and mysids. May take flake and free-dried foods, but if
this is all you are prepared to feed them, check with your retailer that their fish
are accepting them. Red fin halfbeaks prefer to eat food from the surface but will
feed at other levels, sometimes even taking food from off the substrate.
Sexing: Females larger and much more stocky, and usually have shorter beaks
and less colour on the fins. Males have longer, but never curved beaks; compare
this with typical Celebes halfbeaks, Nomorhamphus liemi liemi, which have short,
curved beaks. Some, but not all, males have red anal, dorsal, and caudal fins.
The anal fins of the males are also modified and appear "folded", producing a
structure analogous to the gonopodium of poecilid livebearers like guppies and
Breeding: Although considered moderately difficult to breed, these fish mate
readily if they are looked after well and conditioned on a variety of live and frozen
foods. Water chemistry is of secondary importance, though ideally it should be
soft and slightly acidic. Females produce about a dozen fry after 6-8 weeks, but
during gestation are very prone to stillbirths. Avoid shocking them by making
sudden changes in water quality, and ensure that the fish are regularly fed on a
mixed diet including live or frozen foods rather than only flake. Low temperatures
(below 24 degrees-C) must also be avoided. Once the fry are born, they stay
close to the surface and will hide among floating plants. The fry are around 13
mm long and will accept small live foods such as Daphnia straight away. Liquifry
and powdered dry foods are not taken, at least not until the fish are at least 7 to
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10 days old. The fry are best cared for in a separate tank filtered with an air-
powered filter and containing water taken from the main aquarium. They are
hardy and grow rapidly.
Comments: This is one of several species sold as the Celebes halfbeak, and is
sometimes included in batches of Nomorhamphus liemi liemi. In contrast to that
species, this fish has a straight beak; no blue patches on its fins; and less colour
on its beak.

Common Name: Amzaon Molly
Scientific Name: Poecilia formosa
Family: Poeciliidae
Origins: Believed to be the wild hybrid of Pacific Mexican Molly (Poecilia butleri)
and Sailfin Molly (Poecilia velifera)
Maxiumum Size: 7 inches (18 cm)
Minimum Tank Size: 20 US Gallons
Water Conditions: Termpature: 73-82 degrees Fahrenheit; hard (100/150 mg/l)
and alkaline (pH 7.5)
Temperament: Placid and generally social, though over observation by me, may
chase weaker fish
Care: Fairly Easy, though not recommended for beginners
Feeding: Prefers Live foods and Veggies, will eat flakes though.
Sexing: Just like all other live bearers, look for the gonopodium in the male, or
the gravid spot in the female
Breeding: Impossible, males are sterile
Other Additional Information: This is one of the rarest Mollies out there. It was
named after the all fabled, all female tribe, for the females are the only ones who
can reproduce. Only one out of every 10,000 of these fish are male.

Common name: Balloon Molly / Potbelly Molly
Scientific name: Poecilia latipinna
Family: Poeciliidae
Origin: Gulf of Mexico
Maximum size: 2.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care: An easy fish for beginners. Leave open space at the top of the tank since
these fish seem to be more top dwelling then anything else. Tank should have
many hiding places but these spaces are more for fry then the adults. Keep 1
male for every 2 females. These fish come in a variety of colors and are very
attractive in large numbers. Colors include but are not limited to pearl, dalmation,
sunset, black, bronze, and marble. There are also lyretail balloon molly and
sailfin balloon molly varieties. House with other peaceful community fish such as
tetras, gourami, and other livebearers.
Feeding: Tropical flake, frozen, live, and freezedried foods are accepted. Very
big eaters!
Sexing: Since these are big bellied fish it is sometimes hard to tell males from
females. Females have a square stomach while males are more rounded. Also
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look for a pointed anal fin in males called a gonopodium. Female’s anal fins are
rounded and resemble a fan.
Breeding: Just add water . These fish give birth to live young. Gestation
period for these fish is 50-60 days. Females can store sperm for long periods of
time so even if you have no males in your tank your females still might continue
to give birth every 2 months or so. Fry are easily raised on crushed flake food.
Comments: Since these fish are highly inbred the life expectancy is only a year
to a year and a half. Fry also grow slower and are not of a sellable size until 6-8
months of age.

Dalmatian Molly - Poecilia latipinna
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Tank Conditions: 68-82°F; pH 7.0-7.8; KH 10-25
Max. Size in Aquarium: Up to 4¾"
Color Form: Black and White, Mottled
Temperament: Peaceful
Diet: Omnivore
Origin: east coast of Florida, Gulf of Mexico, North Carolina
Family: Poeciliidae
The Dalmatian Molly is a hybrid color variation of Poecilia latipinna, the Sailfin
Molly. The Dalmatian Molly has a black and white body, and is sometimes
referred to as the Marbled Molly or Marbled Sailfin Molly. Mollies have the ability
to adapt to a variety of salt levels in the aquarium. With a gradual acclimation,
these fish may be maintained in either a freshwater aquarium or a saltwater
aquarium. In the freshwater aquarium, a teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon is
recommended for optimum health.
The Dalmatian Molly prefers a tank of at least 30 gallons, densely planted with
plenty of strong plants such as Java fern, Sagittaria, Vallisneria and Anubias.
They require a good filtration system because of their hearty appetites. The
Dalmatian Molly is well suited for the community tank because of its peaceful
nature, and is compatible with other peaceful, large fish that can withstand hard
water. They may pursue their young and the young of the other fish.
The pointed anal fin and much larger dorsal fin on the male, and the rounded
anal fin and pregnancy spot on the female differentiate the two. The Dalmatian
Molly is a livebearer that requires a spawning box in a large 25 gallon, or larger
breeding tank. The aquarium should be planted as densely as possible or have a
thick algae mat. Having a group of floating plants in the corner of the aquarium
will promote rearing outside of the breeding tank. Every 60-70 days the female
will give birth to 10-60 young that are already approximately one-half inch long.

The Dalmatian is omnivorous and requires algae. Provide these fish with an
algae-based flake food, as well as freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and brine
Approximate Purchase Size: 1-1/2" to 2-1/2"
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Common name: Platy, sometimes variatus or southern platy.
Origin: North Eastern Central America
Size: 2 - 2½ in. (5 - 6.25 cm.)
Scientific Name: Xiphophorus maculatus and Xiphophorus variatus
Care: Platys are very easy to care for, and are great beginner fish. Platy's prefer
water temperature at 76-79F ( 24.4-26.1C). Platy's are very hardy, and can adapt
too many types of water. PH can rage from acidic (6.5) to basic (8.2). Platy's
have even been reported to live in brackish water (lightly salted water) and
experience no negative effects of it.
Diet: Flake, frozen, freeze dried, and live food is all accepted by the Platy, and all
should be fed to them on a rotating basis. Although flake can be their staple diet,
it will keep them healthier to feed varying food, and help them show better colors.
Fry (baby fish) will also be consumed by the Platy and company.
Sexing: There are many ways to sex a Platy (these sexing methods, by the way,
can be applied to all livebearers), but there are two that are more widely used
than others. The first method is to observe the shape of the Platy, Females will
be longer, and also have wider stomachs (even when not pregnant) than males.
The second method (and most accurate) involves observing the three fins on the
underbelly of the fish. Female Platy's will have three almost identical fins, two a
little further up the belly (closer to the front) than the rear, and with a male, the
two frontal fins will be the same, but the aft fin will be much smaller, and pointed.

Breeding: Breeding Platy's is said to be exceptionally easy, because the
caretaker of the fish has to do nothing to start it, and usually can do nothing to
prevent it. Platy's, like all other livebearers (Molly's, Guppy's, Swordtail's, and
Mosquito Fish) give birth to live young, and do not lay eggs, so for a period of
time, the fish is actually pregnant. Gestation usually lasts about a month, at
which point the fry are released from the mother, and usually shortly thereafter
are eaten by the mother and other platys. Determining whether a Platy is
pregnant, like sexing, is not hard to do. If she exhibits one or all of the following
signs, she is most likely pregnant.
1. She is much fatter than you remember her, and seems about ready to explode
                       Tropical Fish Secrets
2. She has a black spot that was not there before forming above the three fins
used to determine the sex (this spot is called a gravid spot, and is said to be the
eyes of developing fry)
3. She is a Platy
Caring for fry, like everything else about the Platy, is also exceptionally easy. If
you would like a large brood (batch, litter, etc.) of fry, it is best to isolate the
mother in a breeding net (purchasable at almost any Local Fish Store (LFS)) or
even a separate tank, but make sure to do so before she is giving birth or close
to it, or she will abort the babies and reabsorb them. There are many liquid foods
and such out there and to feed baby fish, but Platy's are not demanding, and
therefore flake food crushed into tiny pieces will do. Feed in the morning and at
night, and feed small amounts.
Comments: Platy's are a very hardy fish, and are good beginner fish, but are in
no way limited to those who have just started keeping fish. They have a very
inquisitive personality, and will explore all levels of the tank. Platys have a wide
range of colors, including red, orange, yellow, white, black, and blue, with many
different combinations of the colors. They can be found at almost any LFS, and
are one of the cheapest fish available.

Common name: Swordtail
Scientific name: Xiphophorus helleri
Family: Poeciliidae
Origin: Southern Mexico and Guatemala
Maximum size: 4" or about 10cm (including tail)
Minimum Tank Size: Around 10-15 US gallons
Care: An easy fish for beginners. Needs a temp. of 72-73*F (22-23* C.) Enjoy
well-planted aquariums with plenty of room for swimming. They live in loosely
grouped schools. Usually Keep 1 male for every 2 females. These fish come in a
variety of colors as many other livebearers do. Some varieties include the original
wild-type which has olive-green backs, greenish-yellow sides, yellow belly, and a
red band. There are also lyre tail swords and Hi-fin swordtail varieties. They
should be housed with other peaceful community fish such as other livebearers,
tetra, plecostomus, among many others.
Feeding: Takes Tropical flake, frozen, live, and freeze-dried foods.
Sexing: Most likely the easiest fish to sex. Male swordtails have the lower caudal
fins extended into a "sword," hence the name. Usually as long as the body, but
with new varieties, some may be 3-4 times as long! The females are more
rounded and do not have a "sword"
Breeding: These fish give birth to live young. The parents tend to eat their
young. At least a day or so birth takes place. (There is usually interval of little
over 30 days between broods,) the adults should be placed in a breeding trap
though which the fry can escape. The young can take fine powdered food
immediately, and should be fed small amounts about 3 X a day after that. The
Females can store sperm for long periods of time so even if you have no males
in your tank your females still might continue to give birth every 2 months or so.
(These fish seem like they are always pregnant!)
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
Comments: Very interesting and easy to breed fish, although they have a short
life span as being inbreed over years. This can be avoided by getting a trio or
more of wild swordtails and house them in a highly planted tank with medium to
hard water, good lighting, varied vegetation and plenty of free swimming space.

                                 Salt water fish

Common name: Tailspot blenny
Scientific name: Ecsenius stigmatura
Family: Blennidae
Origin: Cebu, Phillipines
Maximum Size: Up to 2 1/2"
Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
Care: The tail spot blenny is a peaceful and easy to care for addition to the
marine aquarium. This blenny has a long thin body with a black spot on the
caudal peduncle and a yellow/orangish stripe over both eyes. You'll find that this
blenny loves to perch on ledges or corals and stare at you. The only possible
compatibility issue is with cardinalfish. The tail spot blenny is reef safe and is
generally a hardy fish and fine for beginners.
Feeding: Initially, the tail spot blenny may be difficult to feed after acclimation.
However, it prefers algae since it is an herbivore. Crushed marine flake works
well. You can try crushed seaweed or even put a piece of nori on a clip. It will
graze on algae in the tank.
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Sexing/Breeding: There is very little information available on blenny sexing and

Common name/s: Banggai Cardinalfish, Kaudern's Cardinalfish, Longfin
Scientific name: Pterapogon kauderni
Family: Apogonidae
Origin: Indo-Pacific
Maximum Size: Up to 3"
Care: The Banggai cardinalfish is one of the few marine tank fishes that can be
kept in small groups. It can be aggressive, however, towards other similar fishes
within the species. In general, it is safe in a tank of similar sized friendly fish. This
cardinalfish likes to hang in midwater and, for some, not the most exciting with
regards to swimming. However, the fish is striking in appearance with long white-
spotted fins and contrasting black stripes on a silver body. The Banggai is reef
compatible and recommended minimal tank size is 30 gallons.
Feeding: Banggai's are carnivores and can be picky eaters. Some may only take
mysid shrimp and refuse pellet, flake or even brine shrimp. You'll have to try an
assortment to find out which is preferred. Including shrimp or squid or even live.
Many will accept frozen mysid.
Sexing/Breeding: These cardinal fish are one of the few marine fish that are not
hard to breed in captivity. The male will carry the eggs in his mouth until
hatching. The only described 100% sure way to sex the fish is to put a known
male in with another Banggai and observe the behavior.

COMMON NAME: Blue Devil Damsel
OTHERS: Blue Damsel
SCIENTIFIC: Chrysiptera Cyrea
ADULT SIZE: 2.4 or (6cm)
RANGE: Indo-pacific region, Northern part of the Great Barrier Reef
MINIMUM AQUARIUM SIZE: 10g (l) (If this is the only fish in the aquarium)
SOCIAL: CAUTION - A very aggressive species. They will become a threat to
each other and other fish that are less aggressive or similar in size. Their
presence will make life difficult or impossible for a mild mannered community. As
the fish gets older they live up to their name, devil. If they are kept in groups,
keep one male to several females. They become territorial when kept in these
Males: Males are a shiny bright blue with a yellowish-orange tail. Example below.
Females: Females are also a shiny bright blue with one black dot on the
hindmost of the body. (Under where the dorsal fin ends) Example below.
If these fish are stressed, they will turn either a dark purple or black.
At night they might turn a clearish blue.
DIET: Varied diet, meaty food, as well as mysid, brine shrimp, and bloodworms.
Feed 2-3 times daily and, ideally, this fish will also nibble on algae.
REEF AQUARIUM BEHAVIOR: No issues with reef living. An excellent and
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compatible fish.
CARE IN CAPTIVITY: An easy fish for beginners and is a very hardy fish. This
fish will nibble on algae and zooplankton and is an ideal Reef aquarium choice. It
will ignore invertebrates. It also needs plenty of small hiding places throughout
the aquarium. The water quality needs to be high with a specific gravitation of
1.020-1.025 range, and a pH of 8.1-8.4. The temperature needs to be between
70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
PERSONAL NOTE: This fish is gorgeous when it is young and is tempting to the
new marine aquarist. Plus they are pushed at times in the hobby. But if tempted,
be prepared to deal with a pugnacious and obnoxious fish later on that will live on
and on and on. Please use caution selecting this guy. It’s not fair to him to be
displaced later because the keeper made a bad choice.
(Information provided from my experience plus a wide range of fish manuals and
guides, including web sources)
(Thanks to TBLightingFan for outline and some information)
Males :( Yellow belly results of light) Females:

Common Name/s - Short fin Lionfish, Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish
Scientific Name - Dendochirus Brachypterus
Family - Scorpaenidae
Origin - Indo- Pacific
Maximum Size- 7"
Care- These fish should be housed in a tank of at least 30 gallons. They like to
perch and hide sometimes. They really are not picky about temperature or water
params. A UV sterilizer should be used because these fish will eat cleanup
crews. They need good filtration and water movement. Probably somewhere
around 600 gph in a 30 gallon.
Feeding Feed silversides, cocktail shrimp, scallops, squid and other fresh
seafood. Can also be fed live ghost shrimp or Damsels as a treat. Never feed few
feeders. They will cause fatty liver disease. Look for directions on weaning them
in the other lionfish posts.
Sexing - none
breeding - will breed regularly by themselves. The fry cannot be raised as they
are too small.
Notes. These fish are poisonous. If symptoms persist after a few hours seek
medical attention. These fish will eat small fish and crustaceans. Best kept with
lionfish and scorpion fish.

Common Name/s- Antennata lionfish, Ragged fin Firefish, Spotfin lionfish
Scientific NamePterois Antennata
Family- Scorpaenidae
Origin- Africa , Indo-Pacific, Tahiti
Maximum Size- 8"
Care- This fish should be kept in at least a 30 gallon tank. They like a cave or
crevice to hide out in. This species can tolerate a variety of substrates ranging
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from a Deep Sand Bed to a bare bottom tank. They don’t like bright lights so this
would not be a species to keep in a reef. These fish are best kept with fish that
are around the same size such as other lionfish, scorpion fish, large wrasses,
and anthias. Should not be kept with puffers or triggers as they will nip at its fins
a lot.
Feeding- Should be fed frozen silversides, cocktail shrimp, scallops, crab and
any other fresh seafood. It can also be fed live ghost shrimp or damsels as a
treat. NEVER feed freshwater feeders to any Saltwater fish. They cause fatty
liver disease. When you first get your lionfish the first thing you have to do is to
get it to eat frozen food. To do this you must first set up a feeding schedule so
the lion knows who is feeding it and when. Then you can start to substitute frozen
in a little bit at a time. Try soaking it in garlic and then wiggling it around on a
clear acrylic feeding stick.
Sexing- none
Breeding- Will breed if you have a pair but the fry are too small to feed.
Comments if trying to keep with other scorpion fish do not get a stonefish. They
are very poisonous and if you are stung you will be dead in minutes. Do not
house with small fish as they will be eaten. An Antennata lionfish would also eat
shrimp, and possibly hermts and snails so the best Clean up crew is a UV

Common name/s- Russells lion, lunulata lion, Red Volitans, Spotless lionfish,
soldier lionfish, Largetail turkeyfish, Military turkeyfish, Plaintail firefish
Scientific name- Pterois Lunulata
Family- Sorpinaedae
Origin- Indo-Pacific
Maximum Size- 12"
Care- Should be kept in a tank of at least 55 gallons. Needs a few hiding places
like lace rock and other decorations. Cannot be kept with small fish as it will most
likely eat them. Should have very good filtration as they are messy eaters. In
sump skimmers are best as they are more powerful generally. Should have a UV
sterilizer as it will eat cleanup crews.
Feeding- should be fed frozen silversides, cocktail shrimp, scallops and other
fresh seafood. Can also be fed squid and live ghost shrimp as a treat. Soaking
the food in a multivitamin is also good. NEVER feed freshwater feeders as they
cause fatty liver disease and will kill your fish. When you first acclimate your
lionfish you should establish a regular feeding schedule so that it recognizes you
as the feeder. When it starts to know when it is getting fed you should start
substituting live food for frozen food. Soaking the food in garlic makes it more
appealing to the fish. Start substituting more and more frozen food until it is
eating full frozen food. If you have a clean up crew including hermits, other crabs,
shrimp, and snails they will be an expensive meal.
Sexing cannot be sexed.
Breeding if a pair is obtained they will spawn readily but the fry haven’t been
raised past 9 days. The fry are tiny and will die of lack of food.
Notes THESE FISH ARE POISONOUS!! If stung by one soak the hand in VERY
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hot water. These are best kept with Lionfish and Scorpion fish except a stonefish
(if u get stung by one u will die). Do not keep with triggers or puffers as they will
most likely nip its fins. Any small fish will be eaten. This is the most active lionfish
in my opinion. They like to swim and show off their fins.

COMMON NAME: Potter's Angelfish
SCIENTIFIC: Centropyge potteri (Jordan & Metz, 1912)
ADULT SIZE: 5.1 in (13cm)
NATURAL LOCATIONS: Johnston Atoll and Hawaiian Islands
SOCIAL: Like Fisher's Angelfish it like lost of places to hide and will dash from
one place to the other.

DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS: Rusty orange on the front and back, shading
to blackish below, with many irregular vertical grayish to deep blue lines. (Males
have more blue.)
DIET: Spirulina and marine algae, as well as mysid shrimp and other high-quality
meaty foods. Feed 2-3 times daily and, ideally, provide live rock for constant
REEF AQUARIUM BEHAVIOR: May nip at large-polyped stony corals,
zoanthids, and tridacnid calm mantles. May also attack soft corals.
CARE IN CAPTIVITY: A beautiful species, they do well in captivity if given
peaceful tank mates and plenty of time to adjust. Like many angelfishes they are
slow to begin feeding. It likely will not eat in the first 3 days or longer. It may
starve in new or tanks without Live Rock and Sand. Will pick at diatoms.
OTHER NOTES: Named for Frederick A. Potter, director of the Waikiki Aquarium
from its founding in 1903 until 1940.
(Information provided from a wide range of fish manuals and guides, including
web sources)

COMMON NAME: Lemonpeel Angelfish
SCIENTIFIC: Centropyge flavissima (Cuvier, 1831)
ADULT SIZE: 5.5 in (14cm)
SOCIAL: Can be aggressive to members of its own genus (Centropyge), after it
gets established.
DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS: All bright yellow with light blue rings around
the eyes and light blue on gill cover and tipped fins.
DIET: Varied diet, containing Spirulina and marine algae, as well as mysid
shrimp and other high-quality meaty foods. Feed 2-3 times daily and, ideally,
provide live rock for constant grazing.
REEF AQUARIUM BEHAVIOR: Noted to nip at large-polyped stony corals,
zoanthids, and tridacnid calm mantles. May also eat soft coral polyps.
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CARE IN CAPTIVITY: Needs lots of Live Rock to graze on and likes lots micro
algae growth. Two (M-F) or Three (M-F-F) can be kept in a large tank.
Information provided from a wide range of fish manuals and guides, including
web sources)

COMMON NAME: Fisher's Angelfish
SCIENTIFIC: Centropyge fisheri (Snyder, 1904)
ADULT SIZE: 2.4 in (6cm)
NATURAL LOCATIONS: Johnston Atoll and Hawaiian Islands
SOCIAL: Less aggressive than many of its relatives. It likes lots of hiding places
to hide (playing peek-a-boo) and it will dash from one to the other. Will only be
aggressive in smaller aquariums with docile tank mates.
DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS: Much smaller than most Centropyge and is
colored in a golden-orangeish gradient.
DIET: Varied diet, containing Spirulina and marine algae, as well as mysid
shrimp and other high-quality meaty foods. Feed 2-3 times daily and, ideally,
provide live rock for constant grazing.
REEF AQUARIUM BEHAVIOR: Although less likely than its cousins, it may nip at
large-polyped stony corals, zoanthids, and tridacnid calm mantles. May also eat
soft coral polyps.
CARE IN CAPTIVITY: Likes areas with coral rubble and lots of hiding places in
the Live Rock. The fish will feed on diatoms on glass and rock.
(Information provided from a wide range of fish manuals and guides, including
web sources)

COMMON NAME: Bicolor Angelfish
OTHERS: Oriole Angelfish
SCIENTIFIC: Centropyge bicolor (Bloch, 1787)
ADULT SIZE: 5.9 in (15cm)
NATURAL LOCATIONS: Indo-Western Pacific
SOCIAL: Not too aggressive with other fish.
DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS: Two Colors, Yellow on the front half and tail.
Purple-Blue on the rear half and on patch above eye.
DIET: Spirulina and marine algae, as well as mysid shrimp and other high-quality
meaty foods. Feed 2-3 times daily if there is no microalgae growth.
REEF AQUARIUM BEHAVIOR: Will often nip the following: large-polyped stony
corals, zoanthids, tridacnid calm mantles, and soft corals.
CARE IN CAPTIVITY: Can be kept with others. You can have more than one if
you add them at the same time..
(Information provided from a wide range of fish manuals and guides, including
web sources)
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
COMMON NAME: Cherub Angelfish
OTHERS: Atlantic Pygmy Angelfish
SCIENTIFIC: Centropyge argi (Woods & Kanazawa, 1951)
MAXIMUM LENGTH:3.1 in (8cm)
NATURAL LOCATION: Western Tropical Atlantic
SOCIAL: Very Fiesty and Pugnacious. This fish will become very aggressive
once settled in. It will kill off other Centropyge and all other docile fishes, more so
in smaller aquariums.
DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS: All dark purple with a yellow-orangeish face.
DIET: Omnivores diet, containing Spirulina and marine algae, as well as mysid
shrimp and other high-quality meat fare. Feed 2-3 times daily.
REEF COMPATIBILITY: May nip at large-polyped stony corals, zoanthids, and
calm mantles. May also eat soft corals.

CAPTIVE CARE: This fish is fairly hardy and will spawn in captivity. M-F pairs
can be kept if introduced at the same time. Males will fight until one is killed.

Common name/s- Volitan Lion
Scientific name- Pterois volitans
Origin- Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka, Africa
Maximum Size- 15"
Care- Should be housed in a tank of at least 75 gallons but preferably more. Can
be kept with other members of the same family including most lionfish and
scorpion fish*(see notes). These fish are not very active. They like to perch and
sometimes hide in caves but will gladly come out for food in most cases. This fish
can and will eat any small fish. This fish is a good fish for a beginner providing
you don’t need to stick your hand in the tank too often (see notes).
Feeding- these fish can be difficult to wean to frozen food. When you first get it
feed it live ghost shrimp at first. When it recognizes you as a feeder and will eat
ghost shrimp readily you can start to try silversides soaked in garlic. When you
get it on a regular schedule you can stop feeding ghost shrimp except as a treat.
A good diet would include silversides and krill soaked in a multivitamin. You can
also supplement this diet with cocktail shrimp, scallops, squid (not too often), and
any other fresh seafood you can find. A very important feeding rule is NEVER
feed freshwater feeders such as goldfish, guppies, rosy reds, etc. These fish
cause fatty liver disease down the road and will kill your fish.
Sexing/Breeding- there is no sure way to tell if a lionfish is a male or female to
my knowledge. If you do get a pair they will breed often. Unfortunately the fry
have never been raised past 9 days as they need fresh seawater every day to
survive. They are born about as big as. That dot.
Notes- It should be noted that THIS FISH IS POISONOUS and can sting you.
The stingers are the dorsal and pelvic fins. If you are stung stick your hand in
water as hot as you can stand. You should have all the symptoms of a bee sting
but it will hurt much worse. If you think you may be allergic than seek medical
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help right away.
* If you would like a scorpion fish then do NOT get a stonefish. If you are stung
than you will die in a matter of minutes.

COMMON NAME - Dwarf Zebra lionfish
OTHERS- too many too name but may include dwarf turkey fish, Dwarf lion ,
Dwarf zebra
SCIENTIFC NAME - Dendrochirus zebra
RANGE - Indo-pacific
SEXING- no way to tell
BREEDING- will spawn readily but cannot be raised past 9 days as the fry are
almost microscopic. They are the size of a.
SOCIAL- This fish is commonly classified as Agressive but this isnt true in the
traditional sense. It won’t go around attacking other fishes but it will eat anything
that can fit in its mouth as it will see it as food. Get along with other fish of its
kind. Also get along with other dwarves and all pterois species. Get along great
with scorpion fish also. Like to perch and swim through the rocks.
DISTINCTIVE CHARACTERISTICS- large pectoral and dorsal fins. Paler than
the Volitan lionfish.
SUGGESTED DIET- Silversides supplemented with squid, live ghost shrimp,
cocktail shrimp, and other fresh sea foods. Feed every other day until the
stomach bulges slightly or everyday until the belly looks full.
REEF AQURIUM BEHAVIOR- will not nibble on corals but will eat clean up
crews. Also will not like the high light that is needed on a reef tank.
CARE IN CAPTIVITY- These are pretty easy fish to keep but can be a nuisance
to train to frozen food. Needs good filtration as it is a very messy eater. THESE
FISH ARE POISONOUS so u do not want to get stung. If stung soak the sting in
very hot water. It will hurt for a few days. If there are any symptoms or swelling
persists receive medical attention.
TRAINING TO EAT FROZEN FOODS- when u first get your lion have a good
supply of ghost shrimp. Establish a feeding schedule and make sure he knows
who the food is coming from. When he starts to notice u as the feeder start to
feed him frozen food once a week. then twice. then three times. And so on and
so forth. Soaking the food in garlic is a good way to entice the lion to eat food.

COMMON NAME: Eibl's Angelfish
OTHERS: Orangelined Angelfish
SCIENTIFIC: Centropyge eibli (Klausewitz, 1963)
MAXIMUM LENGTH:5.9 in (15cm)
NATURAL LOCATION: Western and Indo-Pacific
SOCIAL: Shy, can be aggressive to smaller fish in tight quarters.
DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS: One of the larger Centropyge. Blended
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shades of green with vertical, thin orange stripes. The tail fin and hind end are
black. The Tail fin is tipped in a light blue.
DIET: Varied diet, containing Spirulina and marine algae, as well as mysid
shrimp and other high-quality meat diet. Feed 2-3 times daily and provide live
rock for constant grazing.
REEF COMPATIBILITY: May nip at large-polyped stony corals, zoanthids, and
tridacnid calm mantles. May also eat soft coral polyps.
CAPTIVE CARE: Prefers ample opportunities for constant picking and grazing. It
will do best if housed in a tank with live rock and/or profuse micro algae growth.
BREEDING NOTES: This fish will also breed with a Pearl scale angel
(Centropyge vroliki)

COMMON NAME: Midnight Angelfish
OTHERS: Midnight Angel
SCIENTIFIC: Centropyge nox (Bleeker, 1853)
MAXIMUM LENGTH:3.5 in (9cm)
NATURAL LOCATION: Western and Indo-Pacific
SOCIAL: Somewhat shy, can be aggressive to other Centropyge Angels
DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS:Has the same shape as other Centropyge but
this fish is 100% black. A unique feature is the fin pattern in the rear has all the
fins meeting uniformly, thus making the fish look completely round.
DIET: Varied diet, containing Spirulina and marine algae, as well as mysid
shrimp and other high-quality meat fare. Feed 2-3 times daily and, ideally,
provide live rock for constant grazing.
REEF COMPATIBILITY: May nip at large-polyped stony corals, zoanthids, and
tridacnid calm mantles. May also eat soft coral polyps.
CAPTIVE CARE: It will do best if housed in a tank with live rock and/or profuse
microalgae growth. Usually not toward fish tank mates, with the exception of
other dwarf angelfish species. A male-female can be housed together in a
medium sized aquarium.

COMMON NAME: Coral Beauty
OTHERS: Twospined Angelfish, Dusky Angelfish
SCIENTIFIC: Centropyge bispinosa (Gunther, 1860)
ADULT SIZE: 3.9 in (10cm)
SOCIAL: This fish is one of the least aggressive of the Centropyge genus. It will
get along well with almost anything, but it will fight if ample space is not provided.
DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS: Golden color surrounded by shades of
purple. Amount of each color varies from fish to fish.
DIET: Varied diet, containing Spirulina and marine algae, as well as mysid
shrimp and other high-quality meaty foods. Feed 2-3 times daily and, ideally,
provide live rock for constant grazing.
REEF AQUARIUM BEHAVIOR: Will nip at large-polyped stony corals, zoanthids,
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and calm mantles. May also eat soft coral polyps.
CARE IN CAPTIVITY: The Coral Beauty is a very popular species of the
Centropyge. It is widely available, hardy, highly compatible, and has a unique
gorgeous color scheme. Because it is readily available and popular, it is fairly
(Information provided from a wide range of fish manuals and guides, including
web sources)

COMMON NAME: Golden Angelfish
SCIENTIFIC: Centropyge aurantia (Randall & Wass, 1974)
ADULT SIZE: 3.9 in (10cm)
NATURAL LOCATIONS: Western and South Pacific
SOCIAL: Will be aggressive to members of its own genus (Centropyge), as well
as toward fishes with similar shape or behavior. This fish will also desire lots of
places to hide in the live rock.
DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS: A dark golden color with lighter gold striping.
Fins and edges are clear with thin black stripes.
DIET: Varied diet, containing Spirulina and marine algae, as well as mysid
shrimp and other high-quality meaty foods. Feed 2-3 times daily and, ideally,
provide live rock for constant grazing. This fish will also benefit from micro algae
REEF AQUARIUM BEHAVIOR: Will nip at all stony corals, but will leave most
soft corals alone. The possible exception being Xenia.
CARE IN CAPTIVITY: The Golden Angel is one of the most prized of the
Centropyge. It is also rare to see in Aquaria trade because it is extremely difficult
to capture. (recently some individuals have failed to survive more than a month;
likely due to cyanide exposure.)
PERSONAL NOTE: This is one of the most gorgeous of the Centropyge. It is
highly prized. Because of its rare status, one can expect to spend at least
$150USD for a small to moderate sized fish. A larger one can cost lots more.

COMMON NAME: Domino Damselfish
OTHERS: Threespot Dascyllus, Threespot Damsel
SCIENTIFIC: Dascyllus trimaculatus (Ruppell, 1828)
ADULT SIZE: 5.5 in (14cm)
RANGE: Indo-Pacific
SOCIAL: CAUTION - A very aggressive species. They will become a threat to
each other and other fish that are less aggressive or similar in size. Their
presence will make life difficult or impossible for a mild mannered community.
They will also populate an anemone if one is present.
DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS: One of the medium to larger Damsels. A
Black rounded fish with a small white spot on both sides with a third white spot
on the "forehead".
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DIET: Varied diet, meaty food, as well as mysid and brine shrimp. Feed at least 3
times daily and, ideally, some herbivore flakes and frozen preparations.
REEF AQUARIUM BEHAVIOR: Ideal reef inhabitant; will not harm invertebrates
and this fish will eat some algae.
CARE IN CAPTIVITY: This fish will tolerate a tank environment that will kill nearly
every other fish. Because this fish is so hardy it is a popular fish used to seed a
new aquarium. However as this fish matures, which it does very quickly, it will
become increasingly aggressive. Adults can be kept in male-female pairs or
singly. The ideal tank environment is one of a moderately aggressive community.
Good co-inhabitants include larger dotty backs, angelfish, and puffers.
PERSONAL NOTE: This fish is gorgeous when it is young and is tempting to the
new marine aquarist. Plus they are pushed at times in the hobby. But if tempted,
be prepared to deal with a pugnacious and obnoxious fish later on that will live on
and on and on. Please use caution selecting this guy. It’s not fair to him to be
displaced later because the keeper made a bad choice.
(Information provided from my experience plus a wide range of fish manuals and
guides, including web sources)

COMMON NAME: Yellowtail Blue Damselfish
OTHERS: Yellow-tailed Damsel, Blue Damsel, Yellowtail Demoiselle
SCIENTIFIC: Chrysiptera parasema (Fowler, 1918)
ADULT SIZE: 2.8 in (7cm)
RANGE: Western Pacific
SOCIAL: One of the least aggressive of the Damselfishes. A medium tank can
handle a small group of these fish. However they can become territorial when in
groups. This fish when kept alone likes a lot of small hiding places especially to
DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS: Fish is all blue with a bright Yellow-tail.
DIET: Varied diet, meaty food, as well as mysid and brine shrimp. Feed 2-3 times
daily and, ideally, this fish will also nibble on algae.
REEF AQUARIUM BEHAVIOR: No issues with reef living. An excellent and
compatible fish.
CARE IN CAPTIVITY: An easy fish for beginners and is a very hardy fish. This
fish will nibble on algae and zooplankton and is an ideal Reef aquarium choice. It
will ignore invertebrates. Its yellow tail will fade when the fish is stressed and
almost fade to white when very stressed.

COMMON NAME: Flame Angelfish
SCIENTIFIC: Centropyge loricula (Gunther, 1874)
ADULT SIZE: 3.9 in (10cm)
NATURAL LOCATIONS: Western, South, and Central Pacific
SOCIAL: Can be aggressive to members of its own genus (Centropyge), as well
as toward fishes with similar shape or behavior if they are introduced after it has
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become established. To fit nicely into a relatively peaceful community setting, it
should be the last fish introduced.
DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS: Completely a bright orange with 4-5 vertical
stripes down the center. The tail ends are a bright neon purple color.
DIET: Varied diet, containing Spirulina and marine algae, as well as mysid
shrimp and other high-quality meaty foods. Feed 2-3 times daily and, ideally,
provide live rock for constant grazing.
REEF AQUARIUM BEHAVIOR: May nip at large-polyped stony corals,
zoanthids, and tridacnid calm mantles. May also eat soft coral polyps.
CARE IN CAPTIVITY: The flame angel is one of the more hardy of the
Centropyge. Plus its bright sharp looks make it a popular choice. (Recently some
individuals have failed to survive more than a month; likely due to drug

COMMON NAME: Heralds Angelfish
OTHERS: False Lemonpeel Angelfish
SCIENTIFIC: Centropyge heraldi (Woods & Schultz, 1953)
MAXIMUM LENGTH:3.9 in (10cm)
NATURAL LOCATION: Western and South Pacific
SOCIAL: Shy, can be aggressive to other Centropyge Angels
DISTICTIVE CHARACTERISTICS: Looks much like a Lemonpeel angel without
the blue markings on the face or fins.
DIET: Varied diet, containing Spirulina and marine algae, as well as mysid
shrimp and other high-quality meat fare. Feed 2-3 times daily and, ideally,
Provide live rock for constant grazing.
REEF COMPATIBILITY: May nip at large-polyped stony corals, zoanthids, and
tridacnid calm mantles. May also eat soft coral polyps.
CAPTIVE CARE: Like C. flavissima, this species can be difficult to feed and will
slowly waste away in aquariums that fail to provide ample opportunities for
constant picking and grazing. It will do best if housed in a tank with live rock
and/or profuse microalgae growth. Usually not toward fish tank mates, with the
exception of other dwarf angelfish species. A male-female can be housed
together in a medium sized aquarium.
PERSONAL NOTES: This fish really likes to be cleaned by a neon goby. Once
this fish finds the goby you will see them together for long time. Plus you will
have one very happy Angel.

Common Name: Picasso Triggerfish
Other Names: Lagoon Triggerfish, Blackbar Triggerfish
Hawaiian Name: Hu-mu hu-mu nu-ku nu-ku a pu-a-'a.
Scientific Name: Rhinecanthus aculeatus
Distribution: This species extends from Hawaii and the Marquesas Islands
westward through central Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanasia, and the Philippines
to the coast of China, through the East Indies, and across the Indian Ocean to
the coast of Africa and the Red Sea
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
Natural Habitat: Shallow lagoons and reefs with plenty of rocky hiding places.
Reef Safe?: No
Average Size: 10 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 80 gallons
Diet: Picasso's definitely aren't picky about their diet! They can and will eat
everything from Marine Carnivore Pellets to brine shrimp (live or frozen) to frozen
shrimp, squid, clams, and "Trigger Formula". (I recommend soaking live brine
shrimp and any other un-enriched foods in a vitamin/trace element formula
before feeding it to your trigger.)
Suggested Feedings: 2-3 small meals per day

Characteristics and Compatibility: The picasso has the most character of all of
the triggerfish (IMO). They are almost like little dogs, and will "beg" for food when
you come in the room. These triggers are also very inquisitive! Picassos are very
territorial, so make sure that you only put fish in with them that are as big as or
bigger than them. Ideal tank-mates are triggerfish, puffers, wrasses, and other
fish which are able to defend themselves from the triggerfish's sharp little teeth!
Comments: This fish is one of my favorites, and has the most amazing
personality of any fish I have ever owned! Make sure to provide many hiding
places for the trigger to "wedge himself into" when he goes to sleep at night.

Common Name: Firefish Goby
Other Name: Dartfish
Scientific Name: Nemateleotris magnifica
Family: Gobiidae
Origin: Indian Ocean or Coral Sea
Maximum Size: 2-3"
Care: Temperature needs to stay around 72-78°F preferably 76°F. pH needs to
stay at 8.1-8.4. dH needs to be 8-12. Salinity 1.020-1.025. Keep the ammonia
and nitrite levels low, but they can stand pretty high ones for a little while. Provide
plenty of hiding places for it to dart into when scared cause this fish is very timid.
If not done it may become permanetly scared of you when you are anywhere
around it, also try not to touch with siphons or algae brushes for this will also
make it very timid of you. Should not be kept with Anglers or Frogs and caution
when putting it with Boxfish. Minimum Tank Size is 30 gallons, if kept in groups
they will show aggression to one another. Keep a lid on the tank cause the goby
may try to jump out if stressed.
Diet: Firefish gobies are carnivores and will eat Brine Shrimp, Flakes, Pellets,
Mysid Shrimp, or chooped small crustaceans. You should have at least 2-3
different kinds of food for it to keep variety in its diet.
Sexing: Unknown
Breeding: It is an egg-layer. It lays a whitish egg mass approx 2 mm in diameter.
Spawning frequency ranged from 8 - 28 days. Incubation 7 - 10 days at water
temperatures of 76-81 F. Specific gravity 1.021 - 1.022. pH 8.2 - 8.4. You can not
really tell when they will spawn.
Behavior: When the fish stops moving it flicks its long dorsal fin, this may be to
                       Tropical Fish Secrets
steady it or slow it down. It usually spends most of its time slow swimming
around caves, not usually more than 10" away. It is not aggressive to other fish
species. It will live peacefully with fish its size.
Comments: A great fish for a beginner or even an expert. It is easy to take care
of and does not require very much room to roam. Do not make sudden
movements around it as this makes the filefish goby go into hiding.

                          Saltwater invertebrates

Common name/s: Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, Indo-Pacific White-Banded
Cleaner Shrimp, Indo-Pacific White-Striped Cleaner Shrimp, and Scarlet Cleaner
Scientific name: Lysmata amboinensis
Family: Hippolytidae
Origin: Indonesia, Sri Lanka
Maximum size: Up to 2"
Care: The skunk cleaner shrimp is a very easy to care for addition to the marine
aquarium. It is considered a member of 'the cleanup' crew and as such, will eat
detritus and left over food in the aquarium. One interesting characteristic is that
that cleaner shrimp will setup a 'cleaning station' where they will perch on live
rock and clean fish of parasites. They will clean off their gills, their bodies and
even inside their mouths. Overall, this animal is very friendly and extremely
The skunk cleaner has a yellow body with two red stripes running down its back
and one white spot at the end of each. It is very active in the aquarium and adds
color. It is also reef compatible. Best ranges are pH 8.1-8.4. EXTREMELY
sensitive to copper, which is toxic. Needs good levels of iodine to molt.
Feeding: The skunk cleaner is considered a carnivore but will eat just about
anything in your tank and will survive on flake, shrimp pellets, frozen food
including mysis and enriched brine and leftovers in the tank. As above, they will
also eat parasites off of fish.
Sexing: Hermaphroditic
Breeding: Difficult, but usually occurs when at least 2 are present and after
molting. Average lifespan is 4 years.
                      Tropical Fish Secrets

Common name(s): Emerald crab, mithrax crab, Emerald Mythrax crab
Scientific name: Mithrax sculptus
Family: Majidae
Origin: Carribbean
Maximum size: Up to 2 1/2"
Reef compatible: Yes
Care: Emerald crabs make up a member of what we call 'the cleanup crew'.
They scavenge the aquarium for leftover food or algae and help to keep a marine
aquarium clean. One of their claims to fame is that they will eat bubble algae
(valonia) which is a nuisance hitchhiker on live rock. If food becomes scarce,
emerald crabs can pick on fish or corals when they get larger. They will eat
virtually anything including flake, pellet, frozen foods and seaweed.
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
The emerald crab is green in color and has hairy rear legs. As it grows, it will molt
and leave its chitinous layer behind looking as if it had died.
Sexing: Difficult
Breeding: There are reports of Emerald crabs releasing larvae. Mithrax crabs
will hold the eggs inside of the flap on their bottom side until they hatch,
afterwards releasing them in a planktonic state. Offspring are so sensitive that
they rarely survive.

                               Goldfish and Koi

Common Name/s: Koi Carp.
Scientific Name: Cyprinus carpio.
Family: Cyprinidae.
Maximum Size: The size of Koi can vary, some Koi like Ghost Koi will max out at
15-20" will other breeds can reach 30-35" and sometimes a bit more.
Care: Koi need a large pond of at least 1000 gallons. They also require a large
filtration system that can cope with their waste. They need good water conditions
to thrive and grow.
Feeding: Koi can be feed a wide variety of commercial foods including high
protein foods for growth and wheat germ through the winter months.
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Sexing and Breeding: First you need to sex the fish, females, especially in
season are far more rounded than male fish which tend to be slim at all times.
The pectoral fins of male fish tend to be larger and more pointed than the
females, but this is by no means always the case. I find the only sure way to sex
fish is to watch the fish. The ones that lay eggs are female; the ones that chase
are the males.
Spawning usually takes place 1-3 days after introducing male to the female. It
can take place at any time of day or night, unfortunately; typically spawning
seems to happen around two in the morning. Spawning can be triggered by
temperature changes, change in water conditions, introducing new fish or
barometric pressure changes.
Separate males and females for at least one month before you intend to spawn
the fish. Provide a reasonably small pond, ideally 2 x 3 x 1 meter deep. Or use a
spawning net in your main pond. Don't feed the parent fish for a few days before
you expect the fish to spawn either. Prepare your growing on pond/s.
Koi will spawn when the water temperature reaches around 18+. As always, you
need to ensure prime water conditions with zero ammonia and nitrates. To
achieve and maintain the necessary water temperatures earlyish in the season
(late May) it is a good idea to provide heated conditions so that you can achieve
a spawning as early as possible to maximize the length of the growing season. I
recommend using purpose made spawning ropes. These are soft and easy to
handle. Don't use blanket weed it is too difficult to collect the eggs without
damaging them. A good quantity of media is required to collect all the eggs and
encourage spawning IME. Remove eggs as soon as they are laid to prevent
parents eating them. This is obviously easy to do if you have used spawning
ropes. Move eggs on ropes to a separate tank for hatching. This should contain
water of approximately the same temperature as the spawning pond and should
be well oxygenated. It does not however need to be filtered. Eggs introduced
straight into growing on ponds are vulnerable to predators such as snails,
tadpoles and dragon fly larvae etc. Having worked so hard to achieve the
spawning in the first place, don't use them as a food source for the local pond
wild life!
Comments: Contrary to belief, Koi are not indigenous to Japan. They are
believed to originate from eastern Asia, in the Black, Caspian, Aral Seas and
China. The earliest written records of Koi were found in China. Koi were believed
to be introduced to Japan with the invading Chinese and a first account of them
being kept by an emperor in Japan, apparently dates Back to AD 200.
Carp fossils have been discovered in South China dating back about 20 million
years. Some varieties are known for their hardiness, which records claim can live
for 266 years.
Koi, or Nishikigoi. - Japanese for "brocaded" carp - were first described in writing
from a Chinese book written during the Western Chin Dynasty, 265-316 A.D. At
that time they were described as white, red, black and blue.
What happened to Koi between the 2nd to the 17th century is still a mystery, but
many suspect Koi gradually spread through the orient, possibly by way of trade
to and from the Middle East.
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
The farmers in the rice-growing region of the Niigata Prefecture started raising
magoi (carp) to supplement their winter diet. They raised these carp in the ponds
they used to flood their rice paddies. About 200 years ago one of the farmers
noticed a carp with some red color. Some of the farmers started separating the
fish that had different coloration's, and breeding them together.
The interest in this pastime grew and more color variations were developed. It
wasn't until 1914 that some of the most beautiful varieties were shown at a show
in Tokyo. Now many keepers often show their Koi in Koi shows or at their local
club. Nowadays some Koi can raise very high prices on the market.
Some Koi breeds: Kohaku, Tancho, Sanke, Goshiki

                Things to look for when buying your fish
What do you look for when you are buying your fish?
Your fish should not have any small white spots or fuzzy white deposits on their
body. Their fins should not be fringed and their skin should not be cloudy. They
should be well fed but not bloated. They should swim actively but not darting
nervously. And they should be moving and not remaining motionless in the
corner. If the water in the tank looks yellowish, fluorescent green or blue, they
are not healthy fish and you should not buy them. This indicates that there is
medication in the water and the fish in the tank are sick.

Your fish will come in a plastic bag which is good for short trips. For long trips,
24 hours or more, you will need to pump pure oxygen in the bag. Spiny fish may
puncture the plastic with their fins. It is ideal to double bag the fish for transport.
If you are transporting in the colder months, I would advise that you wrapped
them in newspaper or in a Styrofoam box.

Okay, now you are home. Open the bag and hang it in the tank. You can do this
either with the cover or a clothespin so that it doesn’t tip over. Add some of the
aquarium water to the bag until the water in the bag is the same as the tank.
Once you have added as much aquarium water to the bag that was in it
originally, you can turn the bag upside down and release the fish into the tank. If
you don’t want the water from the pet store in your aquarium, you can remove
the fish with your net.

I would suggest that you keep the new fish in your quarantine tank for a few days
so that you can watch them closely and see if they have any diseases. It is
possible that they looked healthy at the store but with the trip home, they could
have an outbreak. This is one of the reasons that I don’t advise that you buy new
fish before a vacation or a long period away from your home. The person that
you have watching your fish might not be aware of what they need to look for.

Feeding your fish:
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
The basic rule of thumb is less is more. Feed the fish once or twice a day and
only as much as they will eat. An overfed fish will led to a number of different
problems. The food should also not cause the water to cloud. Give your fish 5
minutes and come back. If there is still food in the tank, you have fed them too
much. Remember that food will swell up in the water. You can not put fish flakes
in the tank to be eaten later. This causes other problems that we discussed
earlier. Half-grown and fully grown fish will be able to go a couple of days without
food. Young fish will need to be fed regularly.

The best food is clean live food. This kind of food keeps fish busy. It will provide
them with the necessary nutrients and roughage. This is only true if the live fish
are fresh. IF it is kept alive in storage, it has no more nutrients than dry food.
Some live fish you can catch yourself or you can buy in the pet store. Keep in
mind if you are going to catch your own, the water quality of where you catch
your live food. You will be exposing your fish to this environment. Some types of
live food are red mosquito larvae. They are available in the winter months.
White mosquito larvae are also available in the winter months. They are also
quite hard to catch in the icy waters. Black mosquito larvae are available in the
summer months. Water fleas are also available in the summer. Tubifex worms
are probably the cheapest live food. They are good nutrients but they do lack
roughage. They will also use up a lot of oxygen which could be used for your fish
and plants. AS you fish get older their tolerance increases. You can start feeding
them live food collected in the wild. You can also feed your fish lettuce,
dandelion greens, chickweed, and other wild plants. If you are going to feed
them these sources, be sure to collect them far from the edge of the highway.
The highway is exposed to chemicals that you do not want to feed your fish.

Caring for Plants:
You should pick off the dead leaves once a week. You will want to clip the
leaves from time to time. If you don’t do this, they will shade the other plants too
much. This will keep the aquarium clean and free of debris. This is especially
good for fine-leafed plants.

I have given you a lot of information that you might be thinking how I am going to
remember all this. Well, I will make it easy for you. I will break it down for you.
I have included a checklist of duties that you should do to create an optimal
environment for your friends.

Feed the fish
Observe the fish- you are looking for are they coming to the front of the tank or
staying in the back? Are they eating? What colour are they? Do they have any
discolourations? Do they swim upright? Are they swimming nervously? Are they
breathing rapidly?
Look at the plants- are there new shoots? Have the leaves dropped off or are
there brown spots?
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
Check the water- is it clear? Does it smell good? Are the snails crawling around
or are they lying motionless? Is there foam on the water?
Check the equipment- Is everything working?

Weekly Duties
Groom the plants
Siphon off debris
Clean the filters so that the water flows freely
Clean the front panel of the aquarium

Frequent Duties
Change the water

Helpful Hints
If you flash your flashlight in the aquarium, this will tell you how much bacteria is
in the tank. If you see dusty air, then there is too much bacteria.
You can see the floating algae by looking at the tank from the side.
If foam is forming at the filter outlet, change one third of the water right away and
then again over the next couple of days. If an odor persists, check the bottom
material. If it is black, mucky and stinks, you should dismantel the aquarium and
start over again. Be sure to wash the gravel thoroughly. This is a good time to
install heating cables in the bottom gravel.
Replace one third of the water at least once a month.
Siphon off debris.
Remember that when you clean the filter. What looks like dirt might not be dirt. It
could be bacteria. As long as the filter is working, there is no reason to clean the
filter. But if it clogs, then you will need to clean it. All cleaning disrupts the
aquarium. Do them considerately as you can.

Your aquarium and your vacation
It is important that the person taking care of your tank understands the routine
that is involved with taking care of your fish. Acquaint them with the fish and their
likes and dislikes. Inform them what you do daily and why. Tell them anything
that might go wrong and how to fix them. Have them watch you do what you are
asking them to do. That way they know how you expect things to be done. Write
down all the information that they need to know. (Address and phone number of
dealers, your return date, and where you can be reached when you are gone).
Give them this book in case they have any questions. They will be able to look
them up themselves.

                           Understanding your fish
The shape of the fish tells you a lot about how the fish moves. A fish that swims
far and fast and has no need for quick turns will be slim and shaped like a
submarine. Fish that live among plants will swim with great agility as if they are
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
deep-bodied and flat. Fish with a straight back like to be right under the water
surface. Those with flat bellies will tend to hover close to the bottom.
Fins serve as a propeller to move the fish forward. The fast swimming and
sudden motions forward are provided by the caudal fin (tail fin) and the muscular
tail stalk. Very fast and steady swimmers have forked tail fins. Short distances
are covered by moving the pectoral fins. These fins are always in motion even if
the fish is not moving. A fish’s pectoral fins are similar to our arms and the pelvic
fin is similar to our legs. The pectoral fins are located behind the pelvic fins.
The skin of the fish is made up of live cells, including epidermis. The scales,
resemble our hair, are embedded in the skin and are renewed only if they have
been torn in fights.
Fish have taste buds not only in their mouths but on their lips and in the barbells.
Some fish have taste buds scattered over their body’s surface. Their sense of
smell is located in their noses. Their nose is not used for breathing because it is
not connected to the oral cavity. Fish are lidless. They sleep with their eyes
open. Their inner ear is what is responsible for their equilibrium. This lies inside
the skull behind the eyes and is invisible from the outside. It consists of three
miniscule cavities lined with highly sensitive tissue containing otoliths. These
grow with the fish. Gravity will pull them downward. Fish will orient themselves
by sight. If you shine a light in the aquarium from the side, the inner ear and the
eye will send different messages. To them, there are now two “aboves” and will
try and align with the approximate midpoint.
The swim bladder is what the fish use to lie in the water without expending
energy. It also contains the right amount of gases. The intake and release of
gases are regulated by the glands.
The lengths of the intestines are largely dependent on their diet. Plant eaters
have long intestines and round bellies. Carnivores have smaller intestines and
are slimmer. The intestines end in the front of the anal fin which is not always
the rear section of the body.
The heart of the fish is located in their throats below their gills. The heart
consists of two chambers, the atrium and the ventricle.
The gills are how the fish breathe. From the outside, only the gills show. They
are constantly open and shut. They breathe in oxygen from the air. The
difference being that the air has been dissolved in the water.
The mouth is the only tool that they have. It is used for catching, chewing, and
digging, fighting, and sometimes carrying and protecting fry. Fishes mouths can
be described in three ways- normal, overshot and undershot. Bottom dwellers
usually have an overshot mouth which helps them collect food from the bottom.
The lateral line can we described as the sixth sense. This sense organ consists
of the canal with sensory cells. It runs along the side of the body from the head
to the rear and is divided into several branches. The canal is located underneath
the scales and communicates with the exterior through a series of pores. The
lateral line registers the minutest movement of water. This tells the fish where
other fish are swimming and the echoes of its own fin movements. Fish respond
to sudden vibrations with panic and flight. This is why you are asked to never
knock on the glass of the aquarium.
                        Tropical Fish Secrets
Coloring and markings are extremely varied. Most fish have silvery bellies. Their
night appearance sometimes looks different than their daytime appearance. The
markings on their bodies resemble their mood and look. With time and patience
you will get to know the markings on your fish.

The last thing that you need to know is territory. Some fish are extremely
territorial. Two things will happen in regard- two fish will challenge each other for
territory. They will swim toward each other with extended fins, but they will stop
short and stake themselves. When one realizes that they can’t win, they will hang
motionless in the water as to say “you are stronger”. The victor will leave him
alone and return to his brood mate. If you have one pair of Scalares, you can
trick him using a pocket mirror and taping it to the outside of the glass.

Cichlids and Labyrinths are the most violent defenders of territory. If you have a
male and you add a female, the male will position himself broadside in front of
the female and spread out his fins as far as possible until the female trembles.
You may think the male is showing his beauty but he is not. The spreading of the
fins, the broadside stance and lowering of the bottom of the mouth are gestures
of warning. Males consider the entire tank his territory and will defend it against
every other fish.
If you want to introduce new fish to the tank, you will have to remove the larger
ones and then when the newcomer have gotten used to the tank, you can add
them again. In terms of territorial fish, you might have to rearrange the whole
tank to make it look and feel different so they don’t feel so at home.
Some fish will travel in schools. This is usually because they are weaker and
they are safer in numbers. They are generally smaller fish. In the water, they
look like one large creature from far away. If they are attacked, the predator will
not know where to start because there are so many of them.

I have outlined many aspects that will be helpful to you. I hope that you find this
information helpful and I encourage you to contact me with your successes.
Remember that the goal is to provide your fish with a healthy environment that
they can grown in. There are many tips in this book to ensure that you are
successful. Good Luck!
Tropical Fish Secrets
Tropical Fish Secrets