Thursday, November 27, 2008


The Molly is a tropical fish that prefers a little salt in their water. A teaspoon of aquarium salt per 5 gallons of water will go a long way in helping them. This is a very attractive tropical fish that comes in many different colors such as orange, green and black. Some of the more popular varieties include the sailfin, balloon and the dalmation.

This is a livebearing tropical fish that can be fairly easy to breed. For many aquarists the biggest problem is not getting them to breed but stopping them from breeding. If left in a tank with other adult fish, the baby mollies will get eaten.

Mollies will eat flakes, frozen, freeze dried and definitely live foods.

Scientific Name : Poecilia sphenops

Common Names : Black Molly, Lyretail, Sailfin, Liberty, Mollie, Pointed Mouth, Short Finned, Mexican, Golden, Piebald, Ghost Pearl, Gold Dust, Red Sunset, Dalmation, Ballon, etc.

Care Level : Easy, very good for freshwater beginners if keeping a single sex. Keeping both sexes could cause problems since this fish is such a prolific breeder.

Size : 2 to 4 inches (5 - 10 cm) depending on the species

pH : 7.5 - 8.5

Temperature : 70°F - 82°F (21°C - 28°C)

Water Hardness : 10° to 25° dH,

Origin / Habitat : Central America

Life Span : 3 - 5 years

Temperament / Behavior : Peaceful

Molly Fish Breeding / Mating / Reproduction : These are livebearers so it is fairly easy. Adding a little aquarium salt will help. Size : 20 gallon minium, prefer tall aquariums

Compatible Tank Mates : Not many - some feel they should only be kept with others of the same species.

Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Diet / Fish Food : Give them a varied diet consisting primarily of flake foods but supplement with live and freeze dried foods occasionaly.

Tank Region : All over the tank.

Gender : Males are more slender, females more round. Males also have a modified anal fin.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


The Goldfish is a favorite fish for many. How many of us didn't keep one at one time or another? They are usually very hardy fish and can live in temperatures ranging from 40°F - 90°F (4°C - 32°C). It is important to note that Goldfish have an extremely long lifespan if cared for properly, so getting one can become a long term commitment. Many varieties are available with many different markings, fancy varieties and colors including gold, orange, white and black.

The can sometimes come down with swim bladder disease and occasionally freshwater ich. It's very important to provide your fish with frequent water changes and quality, nutritious fish food.

You can also make life much better for your fish by getting some form of filtration, such as a box or corner filter with a small air pump. These small filters are fairly inexpensive and the filter media can be changed out easily when you do a water change.

To increase your chance of success with goldfish keeping, try not to keep them in a tiny goldfish bowl. A tiny bowl will become polluted quickly and you'll have to perform maintenance all of the time. Instead, get them at least a 10 gallon tank with a filter and heater. Also, if you want to keep multiples, try for a minimum of 10 gallons per goldfish for better long term success with this fish.

Scientific Name : Carassius auratus

Common Names : Calico Veiltail, Comet, Black Moor, Bubble eye, Lionhead, Ranchu, Oranda, Pearl Scale, Ryukin, Panda, Fantail, Shubunkin (calico), Tosakin, Orange Fantail, Black Fantail, Pompon, Celestial, Telescope, etc. There are many different varieties of this fish out there with more being developed.

Care Level : Common varieties are easy and good for the freshwater aquarium fish beginner who is willing to perform the frequent water changes required in smaller setups. Some of the fancy varieties can be slightly more difficult to care for and need more stable water conditions and high quality foods. See the summary above.

Size : Usually 3 to 5 inches (8 - 13 cm), but can get bigger

pH : 6 - 7.5

Temperature : 40°F - 80°F (5°C - 27°C)

Water Hardness : 5° to 20° dH,

Lifespan : 10 - 30 years

Origin / Habitat : China originally, then Japan, Asia and the rest of the world.

Temperament / Behavior : Very peaceful

Breeding Goldfish / Mating / Reproduction : Not very common in home aquariums but you can try. Make sure you are ready to deal with the babies before you start your breeding program. Give them a water temperature between 75°F and 80°F. Get them ready by feeding fish food high in protein and make sure that they have good water quality. When they are ready, they will lay their eggs on vegatation on the bottom of the tank. You will have to remove the adult fish to prevent them from eating the eggs which usually hatch within 7 days. Prepare your fry foods such as infusoria and brine shrimp and have it ready in time to feed the baby goldfish.

Tank Size : Preferrably a 10 gallon or larger and 10 gallons for each additional goldfish if kept in groups.

Compatible Tank Mates : Usually do better when kept with other goldfish. Other potential tank mates include white cloud mountian minnows, platies and a big maybe on the guppy... Watch closely if you introduce different species to your tank and be prepared to remove them if it's not working out.

Disease / Illness : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment - Unfortunately, they can be quite susceptible to swimbladder problems due to the various types or varieties that have been produced over the years. Ich or white spot disease and fungus problems are also frequently encountered.

Food / Diet : Will gladly accept most fish foods, including flakes, live and freeze dried varieties. There are foods made specifically for goldfish. They are omnivorous, which means that they will eat foods of plant or animal origin.

Tank Region : All over the tank

Gender : Males may have small white spots called tubercles around their gill areas when ready to spawn. Females may be noticeably larger when swelling with eggs and the males may start to chase the females around the tank.


The Piranha is an infamous fish known for its meat eating capabilities and although it is an extremely interesting fish, we do not recommend them for the beginner. They can get quite large and expensive to feed. I also wouldn't want to put my hand in a tank full of piranhas while performing tank maintenance. Yikes!

Use caution if you plan to feed your Piranha a steady diet of feeder guppies or feeder goldfish since these may introduce many different diseases to your tank. Try to get them on flakes or pellets as soon as possible and only give them live foods as a supplement to their diet.

Scientific Name : Pygocentrus nattereri

Common Names : Red Belly Piranha, Red Piranha, Red Bellied Piranha

Care Level : Moderate

Size : Up to 12 inches (30 cm)

pH : 6 - 7.5

Temperature : 73°F - 82°F (23°C - 28°C)

Water Hardness : 10° to 20° dH,

Lifespan : 8 - 10 years

Origin / Habitat : South America

Temperament / Behavior : A very peaceful fish - just kidding. This is a very aggressive and a very dangerous fish. You need a larger tank for them. They will eat your smaller fish.

Breeding / Mating / Reproduction : Extremely difficult.

Tank Size : 30 gallon minimum, though I see them (juveniles) in 10 gallon tanks from time to time. If you keep them in a smaller tank be prepared to perform more frequent aquarium maintenance.

Compatible Tank Mates : Not many - mainly other Piranhas

Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Diet / Fish Food : Omnivore - feeding them can become fairly expensive because they prefer live foods. Try to give them flakes and pellet food for their primary nutritional needs and supplement with live foods.

Tank Region : Middle

Gender : Difficult to determine but the female may be larger and have more yellow in them. We've also read reports that suggest that the female may become darker around spawning time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cardinal Tetra

he Cardinal Tetra looks very similar and is often confused with the Neon Tetra. The Cardinal Tetra will have the red stripe the full length of its body on the lower half, whereas the Neon Tetra will have the red stripe only half way. These tetras make excellent community tank mates and for best results you should keep them in a school (shoal) of 6 or more.

The cardinals prefer water slightly on the acidic side and for best results you'll want to acclimate them very slowly to your tank. Slowly mix in a little water from your tank to the bag they came in over a period of an hour or more. They can be very sensitive to dramatic changes in water chemistry (especially pH). Though these tetras should fare well if properly acclimated, this is not the fish to add to a new aquarium. Make sure that your tank has completed the aquarium nitrogen cycle. Give them a tank with low light levels and lots of aquarium plants.

It can be difficult to differentiate the male from the female, but there is speculation that the females are a little bit larger than the male.

They will accept all sorts of tropical fish food, including flakes, frozen and freeze dried foods and definitley live foods.

Scientific Name : Paracheirodon axelrodi

Common Names : Cardinal Tetra

Care Level : Easy, acclimate slowly to your tank water and don't even think about adding them to an aquarium that has not completed the aquarium nitrogen cycle.

Size : Up to 2 inches (5 cm)

pH : 5.5 - 7, prefer water slightly on the acidic side

Temperature : 73°F - 80°F (23°C - 27°C)

Water Hardness : 2° to 6° dH

Lifespan : 2 - 5 years

Origin / Habitat : South America

Temperament / Behavior : This is a very peaceful tropical fish and best kept in schools of 6 or more.

Breeding / Mating / Reproduction : They can be difficult to breed in the home aquarium. They are egglayers and the adult fish must be removed after dropping the eggs. Provide low lighting and very soft water (1° to 3° dH). Feed the fry brine shrimp.

Tank Size : 10 gallon or larger.

Compatible Tank Mates : Many, given their peaceful nature. Avoid keeping with tropical fish large enough to eat them.

Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease

Diet / Fish Food : Will go after flakes, live and freeze dried foods. Give them a varied diet for best results.

Tank Region : Mostly middle to top.

Gender : The male is usually smaller than a female of the same age.

Neon Tetra

The Neon Tetra is one of the most attractive of all the readily available tropical fishes. They have been getting a bad reputation in recent years for the difficulty in keeping them alive in the home aquarium. This bad reputation could be attributed to the increasing public demand and the methods by which breeders are meeting those demands by the inbreeding of this once hardy tropical fish.

Try to add at least 6 or more neons to your mature, fully cycled aquarium in order to increase your chances of success. Spending a little more time during the acclimation process may help as well. If you do the floating bag method, at least try to add small amounts of the tank water into the bag every 10 minutes so that they can slowly adjust to pH as well as temperature. Float them and add the small amounts of tank water for an hour.

Keep up with those water changes to prevent the nitrate levels from getting too high!

These tetras, like many, will accept tropical fish flakes, frozen and freeze dried foods.

Scientific Name : Paracheirodon innesi

Common Names : Neon Fish

Care Level : Moderate - it's a good idea to stay on top of your water changes to prevent the nitrate levels from accumulating.

Size : Up to 1.5 inches (4 cm)

pH : 5 - 7.5

Temperature : 69°F - 79°F (21°C - 26°C)

Water Hardness : 1° to 10° dH

Lifespan : 5 - 8 years

Origin / Habitat : South America

Temperament / Behavior : Neon Tetras are peaceful tropical fish and best kept in schools of 6 or more.

Breeding / Mating / Reproduction : They are difficult to breed in the home aquarium.

Tank Size : 10 gallon or larger.

Compatible Tank Mates : Many, given their peaceful nature. Avoid keeping with tropical fish large enough to eat them.

Neon Tetra Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Diet / Fish Food : Will go after flakes, live and freeze dried foods.

Tank Region : Mostly middle to bottom.

Gender : The male is usually smaller than a female of the same age.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Iridescent Shark Catfish, Pangasius Catfish

The Iridescent Shark is also known as the Pangasius Catfish, the Sutchi Catfish and the Striped Catfish. There is also an albino iridescent shark. As you may have guessed from some of the other common names, this really isn't a shark, it's a catfish. They originate from Asia and this is one of the species that is completely unsuitable for most hobbyists in our opinion. This fish can grow to be almost 4 feet in length (120 cm) and sometimes larger in the wild. They are very active swimmers as well. Who out there has the tank big enough to adequately keep this monster?

They are quite skittish and can be easily frightened by sudden movements in front of the tank. Their nervous behaviors can lead to damage of themselves and for their tank mates. Keeping them in a school of 5 or more may help calm them down. Floating plants may help make them feel secure too. They have been known to jump from tanks, so a good tight fitting hood is a necessity for this fish.

They are omnivorous and should go after all fish food that you place in the aquarium. Some feel that the irridescent shark should be given more carnivorous type rations as juveniles and to mix more greens into their diet as the get bigger. Aim for a varied diet of flake foods, frozen foods, algae wafers and catfish pellets.

Seriously, this is a tank buster. They are very active swimmers, may eat smaller fish and will outgrow most tanks. If you've already purchased this fish and it is in a smaller tank, please consider returning it to the petstore and getting something smaller.

Scientific Name : Pangasius hypophthalmus

Common Names : Iridescent Shark, Pangasius Catfish, Sutchi Catfish, Striped Catfish, Thailand Catfish

Care Level : Moderate, needs a huge tank

Size : 47 inches (120 cm) - almost 4 feet in total length!

pH : 6.5 - 7.5

Temperature : 72°F - 79°F (22°C - 26°C)

Water Hardness : 2° to 20° dH,

Life span : 10 years, maybe much longer

Origin / Habitat : Asia, Thailand

Temperament / Behavior : Can be quite skittish, nervous and may not bother tank mates as juveniles. May eat smaller fish as it starts to reach adult size.

Breeding / Mating / Reproduction : Not common in the home aquairum. Breeding has taken place at aquaculture farms and ponds.

Tank Size : 300 gallon, preferrably much larger

Compatible Tank Mates : Not many, similar sized species perhaps.

Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Diet / Fish Food : Omnivorous, meaning that they should go after whatever you place in the tank. Give them a well balanced healthy diet consisting of both meaty and green foods. When they are smaller you should give them flakes and occasionally Algae Wafers that sink to the bottom of the tank. Catfish pellets can be used as they start to grow into adults.

Tank Region : All over, mostly middle of the tank though.

Gender : Females are larger or more full bodied than males.

Betta Fish- Siamese Fighting Fish

After goldfish, the Betta fish is probably the second most popular fish kept. The Betta Splendens is a favorite because of its beauty, its long fins and because they are relatively easy to care for. The males sport deep beautiful colors whereas the females are less colorful.

It is called the Siamese Fighting Fish because of its behavior towards other males of the same species. You cannot keep two or more males in the same tank. If more than one male betta fish are placed in the same tank, they will fight until only one of them remains. They will flare out their gill covers and erect their fins showing the other fish their fighting posture.

There are ways to see this behaviour without introducing another male. One way is to use a small hand mirror and place it up against the tank glass so that the male betta may see his reflection. He will mistake his reflection as another male and the betta fighting posture should then be displayed.

You can get small betta tanks that come with dividers which will allow you to keep two bettas in the same tank. Many keep them in small bowls and they may live for a while in these small bowls. However, to get the most beautiful colors and optimal health for your fish, they will do better in a 10 gallon or larger tank with a heater that can maintain a constant temperature in the aquarium. If you plan on keeping yours in a small tank, please read the small tank setup page for ideas on equipment needed. Also check out the Betta Tank Setup article written by COBC for the magazine that lists the equipment needed to keep a betta.

Scientific Name : Betta splendens

Common Names : Siamese Fighting Fish

Betta Splendens Care Level : Easy, excellent fish that is good for freshwater beginners and can be just as hardy as goldfish.

Size : 2.5 inches (6 cm)

pH : 6 - 7.5

Temperature : 70°F - 85°F (21°C - 29°C)

Water Hardness : 5° to 20° dH,

Life span : 2 - 3 years, possibly longer

Origin / Habitat : Thailand

Temperament / Behavior : Peaceful if given the right tank mates. They will become aggressive with other Bettas. They may also become aggressive towards other tropical fish with large fins such as guppies,angelfish and others.

Breeding Bettas / Mating / Reproduction : Can be difficult since the male will fight the female if not introduced at the right time. For more information please read the breeding bettas and general info or this oneBreeding the Betta.

Betta Tank Size : Can be kept in small tanks as small as 2 gallons but they do best in larger tanks.

Compatible Tank Mates : Not many because of their temperament. Tropical fish with regular size fins may do well, but avoid tropical fish with larger fins like guppies or angelfish.

Betta Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Diet / Fish Food : Carnivore primarily, but will take flakes, freeze dried and live foods. Blood worms and brine shrimp can be used as well as foods made specifically for bettas.

Tank Region : Top

Gender : The male has much more color and bigger fins than the female.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pearl Gourami

This gourami has many different common names such as the Pearl Gourami, the Lace Gourami, the Leeri Gourami, etc. They are all referring to the same fish - Trichogaster leeri.

For a gourami, it is considered peaceful and will share a tank with most community fish types. However, male pearls may fight with each other, especially if there are females in the tank and it's spawning time. Be ready to use a tank divider or take the other males back to the store and only keep one male with the females in your tank. Even after doing this, the male may still harass the other female pearl gouramis. Take the appropriate action if this happens.

The originate from swampy areas in Asia where the water can be on the acidic side of the pH scale. While it would be good to keep them in similar conditions you should know that they will tolerate a wide range of water parameters. They are a very nice looking fish with tons of tiny white "pearl" shapes dotting its body. There is a horizontal black bar that runs the length of the body. Males are easy to distinguish from females because they will develop a red breast and their dorsal fins will be longer.

Feeding them should pose no problems since they will eat nearly every sort of fish food you put in the tank. Give them a quality flake food and supplement with live or frozen freshwater fish cubes. Feeding live foods becomes even more important if you're planning on breeding this beauty. If you've successfully bred livebearers you should find that this fish is not that much harder to breed assuming that you can acquire a male and female. Females seem to not be as commonly available at the fish store as the males.

Freshwater Fish Species Profile and Care Information

Scientific Name : Trichogaster leeri

Common Name : Lace Gourami, Diamond Gourami, Leeri Gourami, Platinum Gourami, Mosaic Gourami

Care Level : Easy and hardy, good for freshwater beginners

Size : 5 inches (13 cm)

pH : 6 - 8

Temperature : 77°F - 82°F (25°C - 28°C)

Water Hardness : 5° to 15° dH,

Life span : 3 - 4 years and longer

Origin / Habitat : Asia, Thailand, Indonesia

Temperament / Behavior : Mostly peaceful but they may scrap with other gouramis. Males seem to be more aggressive than females.

Breeding / Mating / Reproduction : This fish is a bubble nest builder. Increase the tank water to around 82°F (28°C), lower the water level a little and condition them with good foods (live foods and/or brine shrimp) for a couple of weeks. The male will build a bubble nest and then he will try to get the female to come over to his nest where he will wrap himself around her and she will release the fertilized eggs into the nest. He will then guard the nest. The eggs should hatch within a day or two and the fry should be swimming about 5 days later. Make sure you have fry foods ready - liquid fry food works well. You will want to move them to a grow out tank where you can perform frequent (daily) partial water changes.

Tank Size : 10 gallon minimum if kept singly.

Compatible Tank Mates : They seem to be peaceful most of the time, except for when the male pearls go after each other. Watch for signs of aggression and remove or separate as needed. They may also bicker with other gouramis.

Diet / Fish Food : This is not a picky fish. They will eat flakes just as quickly as they'll eat live and frozen foods.

Tank Region : Middle to top

Gender : Relatively easy to determine. The male will develop a red breast and the male's dorsal fin is longer. The red breast on the males should become even more visible as it nears spawning mode.

Silver Arowana

The Silver Arowana comes from the Amazon River in South America. They are very beautiful and a fascinating fish to watch. However, because of their huge adult size of 35 - 40 inches (89 - 102 cm) they are not recommended for the beginning aquarist. Actually, this is one of those fish that are probably best kept in the wild or in huge public aquariums.

The Arowana requires at least a 150 gallon (570 liters) tank to adequately keep them. You also need an excellent aquarium filter such as an external canister filter. Arowanas are also excellent jumpers so you will need a good, tight fitting hood with no escape holes. In the wild, the Silver Arowana can jump out of the water at insects and small animals on overhanging branches.

Because of their potential adult size, there are not many compatible tank mates that quickly come to mind but you may be able to keep an Arowana with a larger Common Pleco.

This fish is definitely one fish species that is best left to the experts and public aquariums.

Scientific Name : Osteoglossum bicirrhosum

Common Names : Dragon Fish, Arawana, Aruana, Arrowana, etc.

Arowana Care Level : Moderate to Difficult, needs a large tank and is not recommended for the beginning aquarist. Needs a good aquarium filter like an external canister filter.

Size : 35 - 40 inches (89 - 102 cm)

pH : 6.0 - 7.5

Temperature : 75°F - 83°F (24°C - 28°C)

Lifespan : 10 - 20 years or longer.

Origin / Habitat : South America, Amazon River

Temperament / Behavior : Can be aggressive, especially with smaller aquarium species.

Breeding / Mating / Reproduction : They have been bred in captivity. The males carry the eggs in their mouths (mouth brooder).

Tank Size : 150 gallon minimum but preferrably much larger tanks. This fish is best left in the wild or in public aquarium displays.

Compatible Tank Mates : Because of the huge adult size of Arowana there are very few common aquarium species recommended. One that may potentially be kept with them is the , but you would need an even bigger tank (bigger than 150 gallons) to provide both of them with adequate water volume as adults.

Diet / Fish Food : A carnivore - provide a varied diet with pellet food, frozen food and they will definitely accept live food.

Tank Region : Mostly at the top of tank

Gender : May only be possible to determine gender differences in mature adults Arowanas. Males may have larger mouths since they are mouth breeders.

Archerfish - Toxotes Jaculator

The Archerfish is famed for its amazing ability to shoot down resting insects above the water surface. However jumping out of the water to catch it's prey is much more preferred than 'shooting', as the one that caught the insect doesn't always get to it first. When the insect is near in enough, the fish will leap out of the water to catch it in it's mouth. If this fails, then it will resort to shooting. Generally the fish swim in 'shooting parties'. When prey is sighted they will shoot relentlessly. Each one will shoot at the same insect, when it falls the entire 'party' rushes towards it, wanting to be the first to grab it.
Scientific Name: Toxotes Jaculator

Common Name: Archerfish, Banded Archerfish

Care Level: easy to medium

Size: between 10 and 12 inches (25 - 31 cm)

pH: 7.0 - 8.0

Temperature: 68 - 82 %F (20 - 28 %C)

Origin / Habitat: Asia, Oceania, India and eastward to Phillipines - found in brackish water conditions in estuaries and but also travels into rivers. Situates near overhanging vegetation for food sources.

Lifespan: Possibly longer lived in aquariums - 5 to 10 years or longer

Temperament / Behavior: Can become territorial with their own species, but are usually peaceful with most other tankmates.

Compatible Tank Mates: Other brackish fish species such as Monos, Scats, some Gobies, etc.

Breeding / Mating / Reproduction: See breeding section in the article above.

Diet: Omnivorous, will accept a wide range of foods, but frozen/live are foods preferred. Crickets and worms are good treats too.

Tank Size: A minimum of 100 gallons (~379 liters)

Gender: See article above.