Corydoras aeneus: A Very Common Catfish

We purchased a group of six very small skinny Corydoras aeneus last year from a local store. The looked like they hadn’t been fed in a very long time. Normally, I wouldn’t have purchased such fish, but since they were going to go into a 40-liter tank by themselves I reasoned that it was okay. MAY I SAY THAT I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS! The main reason I purchased these fish was because they were the only corys available. I had the storeowner feed them so I knew that they were eating at least something. If they had not eaten anything, I wouldn’t have chanced it. They were also quite active.

Once I got them home I put them in the aforementioned 40-liter aquarium. I fed frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, sinking wafers and algae wafers. They were also fed several different kinds of flakes. To my delight and surprise these fish ate and ate and ate. I called them my little pigs for a while. With all this eating they started to grow and fill out. Within two weeks they presented me with the first batch of eggs. What a surprise!

Over the next month, they continued to lay eggs all over the aquarium glass, I finally gave in and tried to raise some. I removed some of the eggs and put them in a 10-liter tank. The water parameters were the same as the 40-liter tank, with a temperature of 25C, a pH of 7.8, and fairly hard water. Some of these eggs hatched, but I didn’t consider it a very good hatch rate. Slowly over the next few days all the fry went to their demise. We blamed it on the water, as the water is harder here than where we use to live and didn’t give it much thought after that.

After these fish had been quarantined for three months, we moved them into the 240-liter barb community aquarium. They were still breeding in there as well, as eggs were seen quite often. One night as we were watching the fish that had just been fed, my husband yelled “Hey, what was that?” I looked and of course saw nothing. “I saw a baby something” he said. Ya, right. In a barb aquarium…I don’t think so. This happens to us quite often. I finally spotted it a few days later. It looked like a cory but it was tan and spotted. The corys I had were light gray with a dark splotch. Then after about another month the true colors came in and he looked just like his parents.

Now I realized that these fish could be raised in this water and that the problems of the first spawn was possibly because the fish may have been conditioned enough to spawn, yes, but not conditioned enough to produce strong eggs or sperm. Another possible factor could have been the age of the fish. They may have been too young. So we pondered all these thoughts for quite a while.

Seven months later, when we were doing a water change, very large plump corys were noticed. A very plump female of about two inches and a slightly smaller male were both moved into a bare 40-liter aquarium.

The next morning they spawned. I watched them for a while as they formed the T-position and then deposited the eggs on the glass walls. Then I moved them back to the 240-liter tank and they finished spawning in there.

There were approximately 200 eggs in the 40-liter aquarium. The water parameters were: pH 7.8, hardness 280 ppm, and temperature 25C. Nothing was used on the eggs for fungus, but a dechlorinator was used in the water. An air stone on very low and a heater were all that was in the aquarium. There was very little fungus with this spawn. The eyes could be seen on day one. In the morning of day two a dark line (spine) could be seen in the eggs. In the evening the eggs were bouncing and then all at once they hatched right before our eyes.

Micro-food was fed on day one after hatching. On day two baby brine shrimp was added to their diet. Not all were big enough to eat the brine shrimp, so they ate the micro-food. Water changes of 20% were done every night or every second night for the first week. Then 40% water changes were done about three times a week.

There were a few die-offs of the smaller fry for one reason for another. The power bar was shut off one evening to feed and found the next morning still off. The temperature had dropped to 18C. This caused a few more loses. I have to say though that we were very lucky not to lose the entire spawn.

At just over three weeks, Grindal worms were added to their diet. This seemed to cause some floaters.

Culling had to be done four times. We had planned to raise 50 fry so as they grew we culled some of the smaller ones out. It wasn’t until we had 50 left in the aquarium that we noticed that there were some tail deformities. Some had flat tails and some had pointed tails. Uh-oh, the biggest mistake yet. By the time we finished culling those with deformed tails, we only had 17 left. Perhaps if we had taken more time we might have noticed the tail deformities at a younger age.

My husband gave them all away when they were big enough to go to new homes. He also divided the spawning group up into two groups. The new owners came back and told him that both of them had eggs the next day. Then they asked him what they should do. Perhaps the start of new hobbyists?

In conclusion, I would recommend never buying fish that don’t look perfectly healthy. Give your fish a few chances at spawning if you are not successful raising the first few. Don’t over crowd the fry aquariums, but don’t cull down too soon either. Well, we learned and relearned from our mistakes, as this was our first spawn in a very long time.

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Disposal of Aquatic Plants and Animals

Too many times non native plants and animals are released into the wild either unintentionally or because the aquarist can no longer care for them.

This poses a unique problem to many hobbyists…what exactly do I do with my aquatic plant/animal that I cannot care for? With the help of this wonderful thing that eats up most of my day (the internet, for you non-it people that actually work) I’ll try to cover some of the basics here…

Plants

Let’s say that John Q. Aquarist has an over abundance of a particular aquatic plant. “Whatever will I do with all of these plants?” John wonders. Well, there are a number of ways to safely dispose of these potentially invasive species, here are a few:

Burning: If allowed in your area, can be an excellent way of disposing of plants that have seeds.

Freezing or Drying: This will effectively destroy plants, but might allow seeds to survive. You can place them in a zipper type plastic bag and throw them away after this.

Composting: Like freezing or drying, this will also do the job of destroying the plant, but seeds can potentially survive to be carried off by birds or animals that might ingest the seeds.
(Source:http://invasives.eeb.uconn.edu)

Animals

John Q. Aquarist got up this morning and discover that his tank contained a huge batch of baby platies. “Ruh roh, what I’m going to do now? My tank can’t support this many fish!” John laments. Don’t worry, John, there is help!

Friends: If you have a friend that is into the wonderful world of fish keeping, perhaps he’d like some little guys. Use your head though: if he or she would like to have them, make sure you let your friend know the particulars about the species…it will just put your pal in the same position if he or she is not prepared.

LFS: If your LFS is like mine, they will take your unwanted pets…sometimes for a trade, sometimes not. Either way, it’s better than euthanizing or flushing. (Flushing is particularly cruel…a slow death is guaranteed by suffocation or poisoning)

Whatever you decide to do, never release them into the wild! Aquatic plants and animals could introduce diseases that the native population is not prepared for. At best, some species can out- compete the natives.

Some states have penalties for improper disposal of aquatic life. I hope this helps to answer some questions and prevent any unfortunate incidents.

If you have anything to add, by all means, do. In no way do I consider this definitive, so let’s see some other opinions!

(Remember, you can always contact your local Department of Natural Resources or Health Department for specific information for your area)

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Adult Fish and Store-Bought Prepared Foods

One has to wonder why there are so many types of food for fish and what their uses are. Flake, live, pellet, stick, freeze dried, and frozen; not to mention floating, sinking etc. It can become a nightmarish maze when going into a pet store and seeing counters upon counters of selections of fish food. All fish food manufacturers use what ever they can to attract your attention to their food products. I am going to just cover adult fish food in this article.

We are taught about the proper nutrition, we, as humans need, i.e. carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The same goes for fish. They require good foods and a variety of types for a balanced diet. It would not take long if we only ate lettuce to either become bored with the same old food day in and out or become sick from lack of other nutrients that we require. Unfortunately we can also feed fish “treats” that make them spoiled and they turn off the other foods they need. If one was to feed a child only sugar foods after a while they become dependant on the sugar so it has it’s effects as an addiction. As children we were suggested (in whatever manner) to make sure we eat all our dinner, including vegetables, before we get our dessert. A fish on the other hand does not listen to reason.

Feeding is a pleasing activity while one can observe the general behaviors of our fish as well as notice any different temperaments due to stress etc. A shy fish may be due to social ranking or possibly unhealthy due to a disease or a parasite. In nature the food supply for different fish species differs as fish adapt to their natural food sources. For healthy growth and colors we wish to see from our fish, they need food that contains all the natural nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in a well balanced diet according to their requirements. Being “cheap” when buying food for our fish can be very detrimental to their health. They become listless, shy, and probably sick, ending in death. I’m not by any means suggesting we only buy the best food available but if one can, try. Most high quality manufactured foods contain nutrition of quality for our fish. Using various freeze-drying processes, they can ensure the food is free of parasites. This prevents the introduction of diseases from frozen or live foods. I am not suggesting that frozen or live foods are bad, however they can easily introduce parasites that can survive in a frozen environment. One should look at the ingredients the manufacturer puts into their products.

Paprika and carrots stimulate digestion as well as providing vitamins and the carotene that improves fish colors the natural way.

Soybeans improve the resistance to disease. They contain an abundance of protein and lecithin. Soybeans increase the fertility of male fish therefore improving breeding results.

Spinach and other lettuce products contain important trace elements and will increase the vitality of the fish.

Herbs, like basil improve a fish’s general well being. Angelica reduces the effects of stress. Anise stimulates appetite and digestion.

Fishmeal foods containing bloodworms, mussels, and Daphnia are an excellent and easy-to-digest energy supply. Most high quality foods will contain these and other vitamins required for good fish health.

Carbohydrates and fats are important energy sources in the food. However if an oversupply occurs, especially of fat, it gets enriched in the fish’s body and can lead to fattening and organ damages. Food should be low in fat, around 6% but in the case for rearing young fish it may be as high as 8%. Protein content on the other hand should be high. Protein consists of long chains of amino acids that are broken during digestion. The fish then absorbs the amino acids to build muscles. Animal protein is usually quicker and easier to digest than vegetable protein. A mixture of both should be used in feeding if possible. Different fish species should be fed that which is best used for nutritional purposes.

Vitamins are a whole different ball game. Some manufacturers do not put these listings on the food labels, which is unfortunate. Sometimes a vitamin supplement should be used if the foods you are using don’t have all the ones needed.

Vitamin A improves eyesight and healthy growth. It also serves as a skin protector and as a fertility vitamin.

Vitamin B1 is necessary to obtain energy from carbohydrates in food. It provides the brain and nerves with sugars required. Lack of vitamin B1 leads to swimming and movement troubles and cramps for the fish.

Vitamin B2 does an important role in the digestion of proteins, for muscle buildup as well as protection for the mucus membranes. Lack of B2 can lead to body sores on the skin and disturbances of the nervous system.

Vitamin B5 is important for the buildup of various enzymes. Typical deficiency symptoms are gill problems.

Vitamin B6 is important for the nervous system. A lack of this vitamin causes movement troubles.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for the digestive organs as well as strong red blood cells, which are needed for good oxygen transfer

Vitamin C is important for skeleton building as well as improving the resistance to disease.

Vitamin D3 regulates the intake of calcium and phosphorus as well as skeletal growth

There are other vitamins such as E, H, K, and choline, which are needed for various requirements for the health and well being of the fish.

The next part to be discussed concerns feeding and how to feed. We should always feed in smaller amounts and several times throughout the day. This should be as much as the fish can eat in a two to five minute period. Excess food falls to the bottom of the tank where it decomposes and pollutes the water. This also keeps the fish active looking for food instead of it becoming “regular” to a feeding schedule. A measuring spoon could be used to make sure even portions are being served. Make sure to spread the food out across the water surface for all the fish to have access to it, as larger fish tend to chase off the smaller ones while feeding.

Now we come to making a choice of a floating type or a sinking type food. Flake food floats, but only for a short period of time. Small granular or floating pellet foods float for a greater period of time unless there is a strong current from a filter. Fish with a straight back and a mouth directed upwards and a dorsal fin shifted backwards prefer to stay near the surface to feed. Examples of these fish are archers, hatchetfish and most killifish. Fish with sloped dorsal fins and a mouth facing forwards prefer to stay and feed in the middle water layer. Among these fish, are neon tetras, discus, and most barbs. Fish that dwell on the bottom usually have a flat belly with a mouth facing downwards. Armored catfish, loaches, and sucker-mouth type catfish are the best known types of such fish. Floating or sinking foods should be purchased for the types of fish you have in your aquarium.

When purchasing food we tend to buy in bulk since it may be cheaper that way but that has its downfalls. Some of us buy according to the “one can, once a year formula”. This is fine if you use another smaller container for the food as you use it and store the rest in a cool dry place: preferably the freezer. By opening a container we expose the food to light and air which destroys vital vitamins and nutrients. Hence the necessity of a smaller container which we can leave by the aquarium. A smaller container should only contain a moderate amount of food that the fish can consume in a one to two-month period. A variety of fish foods should also be used in feeding. There are many different flakes as well as pellet and frozen forms that allow us to change the food given at any time. By varying the forms of food we can also make sure we are covering all the vitamin and mineral bases.

Frozen foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp are an excellent source of protein for the fish. I prefer the freeze-dried Tubifex worms as well as freeze-dried krill over the frozen items since the frozen forms can be very messy in your tank. The frozen foods may also be carriers of parasites so caution should be taken in ensuring the best available quality is used.

So in ending this article please look at the label before buying instead of the price. Your fish will be happier and healthier for it.

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Do You Have UTS?

If your anything like myself you just love your fish keeping hobby and you just love scouring the local fish stores and going to your local fish club auctions a lot. But you can’t help yourself when it comes to new and interesting species that you don’t have at home in your tanks right. So you buy this species here and that species there or the club auctioneer expertly convinces you to buy that bag of fish at the auction. And now you have to find somewhere to put them at home in your tanks. So put some in this one, some in that one. Everything is all right for a few days. One morning you go down to the fish room to do your morning feedings ” zap on goes the lights and UGHHH. What’s wrong with this tank or that tank over there? The water was crystal clear yesterday but now it’s cloudy milky white. OH NO! What to do? I know what I’ll do, put another aged power filter on and it should be OK. Next day the tank looks the same. The extra filtration isn’t working ” oh ya do a water change, say 50%, right? OK, lets do that. But a few days later the tank is still cloudy. What’s going on? You have what I’ll call UTS – Ugly Tank Syndrome.

SCENARIO NUMBER 2

You’ve just bought some beautiful plants again from the local fish store or the club auction. Well they’ll look really nice here or over there and presto planted and out of your mind. Again a week later what do we see? There is this dark blue green algae growing all over the place. Oh no ” it must have come from those new plants. I didn’t have this much before. So get the algae cleaner and scrub it all off. Over night it all comes back everywhere, on the leaves, on the decorations, simply everywhere. OK, put some algae control medication in, or maybe I need to change the lighting or something ” right? Well a few days later the stuff is still growing everywhere. It fact if the fish stood still for a while it looks like it would even grow on them. This is what I’ll call UTS ” Ugly Tank Syndrome.

There are many stories of UTS from different causes that we can come up with. But let’s look at scenario number 1. Again if you’re an avid hobbyist like me you tend to not follow the cardinal rule of 1 inch of fish to 1 gallon of water and maybe overstock the tank thereby stressing the filters and the good bacteria that is vital to good filtration. So why is it that if you add another power filter that the water still stays cloudy? It doesn’t make sense : supposedly the more filtration, the cleaner the water should be. I struggled with a couple of UTS tanks for almost a year. It wasn’t until one day I was browsing on the Internet at one of the FAQ sections on a web page. Another person also had UTS in their tanks and was as confused as I was. Luckily for us a hobbyist from Germany answered this question and here was the reply. It seems that the manufacturers of power filters and filtration are all scrambling to design and make the biggest and faster filters in the market. The problem according to this German hobbyist is they are breaking some rules about the efficiency of filters. First they are using too small filter media and not giving enough surface area for the good bacteria to live and attach to. Secondly they are also increasing the strength of the magnetic impellers so much that the water stream going through the small filter media is so fast and powerful that it is literally blowing away the bacteria from the filter media straight into the tank and thus you get cloudy water. This is not unlike an infusoria culture. Their advice was to either increase the filter surface area or slow down the speed of the flow going through the filter. Wow! So simple! I thought, “let’s try this at home”.

So that night I slowed down the filters on the problem tanks to half speed and quietly waited for any results. To my surprise within 24 hours the cloudy tank was disappearing and within two days it was all but gone. Thank you, very much Germany.

So let’s deal with scenario number 2 and the blue green algae all over the place. It grows faster than wildfire and covers everything right. I clean it all off once, twice, three times and it comes back as fast as before. I tried algae medications, tried fish that are supposed to like algae and all they do is stay away. I tried adjusting my light times, tried changing the type of bulbs to those with a different spectrum. I tried, tired, tried all with no success. What to do? Well again I went to the Internet site that gave me the answer to my filter problems. And again another person had similar problems in their tanks and again another German aquarist gave good advice to the problem. This German hobbyist said that my blue green algae are not algae but bacteria that grow and disguise themselves in the algal form. According to this learned person if you use a medication that has erythromycin in it will all go away in a few days. I’ve never heard of such a thing before but I’m desperate. So off to my local fish store I go and buy a product called EM Tablets that has this erythromycin in it. I religiously follow the directions and within hours I noticed that all of the air bubbles coming from the UG filters are all very, very small instead of the size they were before. Well something is happening but the algae are still there. The next day again to my delight I notice that the algae are somewhat diminishing in certain heavy areas. Within three days it is all gone and none is to be seen anywhere even on the downspouts of my power filter. The tank smells normally instead of like the rotting things you might smell in a fish factory, and all the fish are still alive and happy. Thank you, Germany again.

As an aside some of the other interesting facts that I have also learned from the FAQ’s on the web might be of interest to the readers. One of the other types of mistakes that hobbyists tend to make, myself included, is using too much air for your sponge filters or too big of bubbles through them. The reason this is an error is that if the bubbles travelling through the uplift tubes are too big (or too many) there is no room for water that the bubbles are suppose to carry with them to fit. This decreases the efficiency of the sponge filter and, well, you get my not-so-likeable UTS. So hopefully this information is of use to you, the hobbyist, and will prompt you to take the time to look at your tank setups a little more closely. It also reaffirms for me that bigger and newer doesn’t necessarily mean better for my fish.

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