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Shirlie Sharpe

Freshwater Aquariums

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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

Oldest Fish

Friday April 11, 2014

I often hear from people who lose fish after a relatively short time. Less often, I am blessed with messages from people telling me their fish has lived for many years. Recently I heard from a fish owner who had a Goldfish for 18 years, which actually is expected for that species. Unfortunately, most Goldfish rarely live their expected lifespan of several decades or more, often due to improper care. Thankfully, many owners do a great job of caring for their fish, and some even share stories of their 'senior citizen' fish. How long has your oldest fish lived?

1 year
2 years
3 years
5 years
10 years
15 years
Over 15 years
(Click to view results without voting)

Photo Shirlie L Sharpe

Denison Barbs

Wednesday April 9, 2014

Known as either the Red Line Barb, or the Denison Barb, this attractive fish is one of the larger members of the Barb family. The brilliant red line that runs through the eye makes them hard to miss, and has made them a big seller in recent years. However, they are not for the average small to medium sized aquarium. They reach an adult size of half a foot, and need to be kept in schools, making them suitable only for large aquariums. Denison Barbs do well in a community aquarium of other large fish, or as dithers in a cichlid tank. Be prepared to pay a bit more for these Barbs, as many of them are still wild caught, even though captive breeding programs have been in place for a few years.

Other Barbs
Black-Ruby Barb
Gold Barb
Rosy Barb
Tiger Barb

Photo © Mark Connell

To Ground or Not?

Tuesday April 8, 2014

A sure way to start a spirited discussion is to bring up the subject of how to ground your aquarium. I've heard plenty of arguments about the safest, or most cost effective, way to go about grounding the tank. As for me, I don't even engage in that discussion, because I think it shouldn't be necessary to ground it in the first place. If you are getting a shock from your aquarium, something is amiss. Instead of debating the finer points of how to go about grounding your aquarium, how about solving the root cause of aquarium electrical shocks instead. Once that's taken care of, grounding is a moot point.

Related Reading
Aquarium Safety
Moving a Partially Filled Aquarium
What is a Drip Loop?

Photo PriceGrabber

Yo Yo Loaches

Monday April 7, 2014
Yo Yo Loach
There is little doubt where this fish came by the name Yo Yo. Named for the Y's and O's adorning its flanks, the lively Yo Yo Loach doesn't come with a string like the toy it is named for, but it's just as much fun. Although undemanding to care for, it's wise to read up on the habitat and feeding needs of this attractive loach before bringing one home.

Barbara Brooks provided this great photo of a young Yo Yo Loach showing its famous markings. If you'd like to submit your own photo to be featured, fill out the submission form and send it in.

Other Loaches
Clown Loach
Coolie Loach
Horseface Loach
Zebra Loach

Photo Barbara Brooks

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