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Shirlie Sharpe

Freshwater Aquariums

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Fishscape Fishbowl

Wednesday April 23, 2014
Recently an advertisement on Facebook caught my eye. It was entitled "Fishscape Fishbowl", and featured an unusually shaped goldfish bowl. After surfing the web for more info, I discovered the product won a 2011 Design Excellence Award (IDEA). That means it's a good thing, right? I don't think so. It is clear this fishbowl is designed for humans, not fish. Sure, it's attractive, but what does it do for your fish, other than reduce the amount of swimming space and all important water volume. What are your thoughts about this type of product? Take the poll, and post your comments.



Related Reading
How to Clean Goldfish Bowls
Mini Aquariums
Unusual Aquariums
Wall Fish Bowl

Photo Courtesy of PriceGrabber

Buenos Aires Tetra

Monday April 21, 2014
At one time Buenos Aires Tetras were commonly seen for sale, and were quite popular. Unfortunately they acquired a reputation for consuming live plants, which caused people to avoid them, and ultimately resulted in fewer being offered for sale. That's a shame because they are extremely hardy, adapt to a wide range of water conditions, including cool temperatures such as those in an unheated tank. Among the larger of the Tetras, Buenos Aires do great with almost any medium to large fish, and can be used as dither fish in cichild tanks. For anyone who doesn't keep live plants, it's worth your while to shop around for these attractive Tetras.

Other Tetras
Black Widow Tetra
Bleeding Heart Tetra
Blind Cave Fish
Red Eye Tetra
Serpae Tetra

Photo © Nick Sc

Are Heater Guards Necessary?

Sunday April 20, 2014
I regularly get emails about the loss of fish due to a broken heater. Occasionally the accident occurs due to shifting rocks that break the heater. But most of the time, it's a big lively fish that caused the damage, and paid the price with his life. Invariably the owner writes to me asking where they could have put the heater to keep it safe. My answer is, no place is completely safe. Glass heaters are always at risk of breaking, regardless of where they are placed.

That doesn't mean there are no options. These days there are many unbreakable heater materials used, such as break-resistant quartz, or titanium heaters. If you already have a breakable glass heater, you can always get a heater guard to assure no future mishaps occur in your aquarium

More About Heaters
Heater Placement
Heater Size Guide
Mini Heaters

Photo Courtesy of PriceGrabber

Pop Eye

Saturday April 19, 2014
Goldfish Big Eyes
I'm often asked questions about the disease pop-eye. The condition, formally known as exophthalmia, actually isn't even a disease at all. Instead it is a symptom of something else that is amiss. That something else can be a wide variety of things, from injury to disease, making the root cause of pop-eye somewhat difficult to nail down.

There are some common causes, and these tips to diagnosing the cause of pop-eye should help you track down the underlying issue. Once you know what is at the root of the problem, you can take steps to correct it. But before you jump to do anything, make sure your fish isn't one that normally has protruding eyes, such as the Goldfish in the image above. As they say, don't fix what isn't broken.

More About Fish Health
Ammonia Poisoning
Books About Fish Health
Nitrite Poisoning
Using Salt

Photo © Michelle Jo

Pearl Gouramis

Friday April 18, 2014

Easily one of the most peaceful, and easiest to care for members of the Gourami family, the Pearl Gourami is a great option for a community tank. Pearls get along well with most other species, are tolerant of a wide range of water parameters, and are quite attractive. They are well worth consideration for a medium to large sized community aquarium.

Do you have a Pearl Gourami? If so, help other owners by sharing your experiences about the care, habitat, feeding and breeding of Pearl Gouramis.

Other Gouramis
Blue Gourami
Chocolate Gourami
Dwarf Gourami
Kissing Gourami
Moonlight Gourami

Photo Stefan Maure

Feeding the Little Guys

Wednesday April 16, 2014

It's exciting whenever a fish owner discovers they have newborn fry, whether it was by intent or by accident. However, the real challenge now begins - how to feed the little guys? Conventional foods are not only too large, but often lack the requisite nutrition that fish fry need to grow properly. As a result, many young fry are lost, due to lack of the proper food. It's ideal if you can plan ahead, but even if you can't, this primer on feeding fry will help you get through those critical first few weeks.

More About Feeding Fish
Choosing Fish Foods
How To Make Fry Food
Nutrition 101
Prepared Fry Foods
What is Infusoria?

Photo Open Cage

Rocks For Aquariums

Tuesday April 15, 2014
Now that winter is finally on its way out, many of us are spending more time outside. If you are like me, you may have noticed some interesting looking rocks that you would love to put in your aquarium. Not only are they as attractive as those in the store, but the price is right. Why pay a premium price for something you can get by the side of the road for free?

While you can often use rocks from the great outdoors, it's important to be aware that anything you put in your aquarium can impact the water chemistry. Unless the rocks come with a tag that says they are aquarium safe, you'd better test them before tossing them in your tank. How do you test rocks? Here are my tips for how to sort out the good rocks from the bad ones.

Have you used rocks from the great outdoors? Share your rock story with the us.

Related Topics
Substrate For Planted Tanks
Replacing Aquarium Gravel
How To Wash Gravel
Is Gravel Necessary?

Photo Shirlie L Sharpe

Hardy Danios

Monday April 14, 2014


Whenever I'm asked which fish are particularly hardy, a number of fish come to mind. Quite a few of them are Danio species, and with good reason. Danios usually don't mind cool water, so they are great for unheated tanks. They play well with most other species, will eat virtually anything they are given, and tolerate a wide range of habitats. Some are small enough to be kept in mini tanks, but as a rule, Danios are best kept in schools. In a large tank, a school of Danios can be a stunning display. For those just starting a new aquarium, most Danios make an excellent first fish.

Related Reading
Good First Fish
Common Aquarium Mistakes
Schooling Fish

Photo Jubs

Do Phosphates Matter?

Sunday April 13, 2014
Phosphate Filter Pad
Every aquarium has some phosphate (PO4) in the water, even though you can't see it. Should you be concerned about the amount of phosphate in your aquarium water? And where does it come from in the first place? Will it change over time? Those are all good questions.

Depending on the water source, it's possible to have a fair amount of phosphate from the get go. Once the tank is running, those levels can rise. Everything from uneaten fish food to fish waste to water additives can increase the phosphate levels in your aquarium water. Over time phosphate levels can rise enough to contribute to algae growth. Here is how to avoid phosphates, and reduce them if they get too high.

Related Reading
Aquarium Algae
Phosphate Control Additives
Phosphate Control Media
Phosphate Testing

Photo Courtesy of Pricegrabber

Winning the Ick Battle

Saturday April 12, 2014
Far too many first time aquarium owners lose fish at the beginning, then give up. Some lose their fish due to ammonia or nitrite spikes, but others make it through the stabilization of the nitrogen cycle, only to have their fish suddenly break out in tiny white spots. Soon they discover that those innocuous looking spots were actually a parasite known as Ick, and it can kill their fish in no time at all.

Often, that's the point at which the discouraged fish owner gives up for good. Before that happens to you, educate yourself. Knowing how to recognize and treat disease will allow you to conquer it before it kills your fish. Better yet, knowing how to prevent Ick will keep you from ever having to do battle with it in the first place.

More About Fish Health
Ammonia Poisoning
Neon Tetra Disease
Parasite Discussion
Using Salt
Velvet / Gold Dust / Rust

Photo Shirlie L Sharpe

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