How To Keep Your Aquarium Clean

No one likes living in a dirty, stuffy house. Thank goodness a little dirt is not hazardous to our health. The same cannot be said for our aquatic friends. Most fish and invertebrates are unable to adapt to changes in water chemistry that result from increased bacteria, waste, and chemicals. Proper filtration can preserve the overall health of the aquarium and maintain its beauty.

Three types of filtration exist on the market – biological, mechanical, and chemical. Varying experts will assert that you must utilize all three in your tank. For a marine aquarium with a reef environment, that may be good advice. There is no definitive answer on what combination is suitable for your aquatic environment. Educating yourself on the functions of all three will enable you to pick the filter(s) that will safeguard your fish and invertebrates’ natural habitat.

Biological Filtration
Biological filters are a must for every aquarium. They stimulate the growth of nitrifying bacteria that breaks down harmful ammonia to less toxic chemicals such as nitrate. It sounds simple enough, but how this is accomplished is quite impressive. A widespread method of producing these beneficial bacteria is adding fish to the aquarium. The bacteria, which ride on the fish, drop off and spread throughout the tank and grow. This also leads to increased amounts of dangerous ammonia, so it is important to add fish gradually. It can take several months to establish this cyclical process.

Aquarist believed that they had an easier, quicker solution in under gravel filters and crushed coral. Along with the water, detritus and junk was pulled through the crushed coral, which clogged the filter bed. Some fish enthusiasts have gladly replaced these under gravel filters with biofilters such as canister filters, trickle filters, bio wheels, fluidized bed filters, or sponge filters. These devices incorporate other methods of filtration making them even more useful. Other aquarists opt for the natural route to biological filtration using a mixture of live sand and crushed coral as the tank’s substrate.

Mechanical Filtration
Mechanical filters use a more direct approach to remove particulate matter before it decomposes and adds to the ammonia load. These filters are the most versatile since they can be used in most filtration devices. The key to their efficiency is regular cleaning. Otherwise, waste can accumulate and your effort is in vain. Aquarium owners must always be mindful of the flow rate of their device, which is automatically set to manufacturer’s standards. A reduced flow can lead to an unclean filter (or vice versa) and adversely affects the health of the entire aquarium.

There are a variety of mechanical filters on the market, each with its own advantages. The power filters’ low price, ease of use, and maintenance makes it the most popular of all mechanical filtration devices. These quiet devices can also be used for chemical and biological filtration.

Canister filters are equally as versatile. These large-capacity filters, which run on their own pumps, can be used for mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. Many aquarists prefer the hang-on-tank canister filters to promote water quality, but there are a large variety of canisters styles available.

Wet/Dry filters, also known as trickle filters or bio-towers, are more suitable for fish-only tanks than reef systems. This is due to the biomaterial inside the filter’s wet/dry chamber that becomes dirty and results in a buildup of harmful nitrates.

Internal filters are a great option for smaller tanks. Their compact and simple design makes them easy to operate. As the name suggests, the filter runs within the aquarium and is powered by a small water pump, or air pump.

Protein skimming/foam fractionation is not mandatory, but it is a trusted method of maintaining water quality. Dissolved proteins linger to air bubbles and form protein foam. Protein skimming pumps the air bubbles through a small columnar removing the dissolved proteins from the tank.

Chemical Filtration
Particles are not the only thing floating in your aquarium’s water. Copper, ammonia, and phosphates also threaten the stability of your tank’s environment. Chemical filtration utilizes chemically enhanced products to treat the water. Activated carbon is the leading medium used. Others such as calcium hydroxide, zeolite, and even peat moss work as well.

Protein skimming, Power, Canister, and Internal filters are some of the most common filtration devices used for chemical treatment. Of course these double for mechanical filtration devices as well. Trickle filters are a popular choice amongst saltwater aquarium owners. The water is first drawn from the tank. Then, it is siphoned through the mechanical, biological, chemical, and auxiliary filters. Finally, it placed back into the aquarium.

To target specific chemicals, look to Reactors. Water is drawn through a canister-type chamber where it meets the chemical media. For even more effective filtration, they can be run pressurized.

The methods of keeping your aquarium’s waters clean are numerous. Using biological filters as a base, there is a wealth of combinations that you can build upon to create a healthy environment for your pets.

Copyright 2006
Reef Saltwateraquarium

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Is Your Aquarium Balanced?

The world as we know it is in balance. Animals breathe in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. Plant absorbs carbon dioxide and give off oxygen as part of there process of photosynthesis. Animals eat plants and animals wastes, feed plants. Water evaporated from the seas and come back to freshen the earth.

The absolute balance of an aquarium world is not usually possible for a beginner. Usually the fish give off more waste matter (both in gas and solids) than the plant life can absorb. And plants almost never provide sufficient food for fish life in an aquarium tank (the things that the aquarium keeper must provide to maintain plant life). But too much encourages the excess growth of algae, causing green water and green-coated tank walls.

Below are the 4 things you as an aquarium keeper must learn to balance:


It must be a balance of vegetable and animal matter. The reason is that insufficient food stunts the growth and lowers the resistance of fish to disease. On the flip side too much food can also harm the fish by polluting the aquarium.

Size of tank:

The tank must be larger enough to provide space according to the number and size of the fish. It mustalso have sufficient surface so that oxygen can be absorbed to satisfy them.


This poses no problem for us in this part of the world as the range of 24 degree centigrade to 30 obtainable here is most ideal for tropical fish.


One or two inches of sand gravel is all that is required to anchor plants. However be carefull because too much gravel accumulates waste matter that tends to pollute the aquarium.

Master balancing these 4 elements of your aquarium and your tank will look great and your fish will live a long happy life!

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How to Completely Reseal Your Glass Tank

(Kudos to gooyferret on, I borrowed a lot of information from his posting on how to fix a leaky tank.)

Before you start – these directions only work on glass tanks! If your tank is acrylic, stop reading now!

What you will need/want to have before beginning:

1. Bottle or tube of 100% silicone, your able to pick these up either at your local HD, LFS, or your nearest Home Improvement Center. Make sure your silicone doesn’t have any antifungicides or other additives – they can kill your fish! If you’re doing a large tank, get at least two tubes – you can always return the extra. Better to have too much on hand than not enough – I used just over two tubes for a 125 gallon tank.
Note: I got tubes of 100% silicone marked “aquarium safe” by DAP for $2.97 each.
2. Razor Blades (caution very sharp). I also recommend getting one of those metal holders that grips the razor blade for ease of use.
3. Bottle of Rubbing Alchohol, a shot glass, and cotton swabs or paper towels.
4. Mineral Spirits (This is to clean your hands and tools later!)
5. Pliers (These are handy to get that last little big of silicone out of the tube.)

Note: When you get to step 3 below, it will be a lot easier if you have a
friend to help!

What to do:

1. If the tank isn’t already empty and dry, empty it and let it dry! Use your razor blade to remove all of the old silicone from the glass. Try to get as much as you can out from in between the pieces of glass as well. Use a vacuum to periodically suck up the pieces of silicone you’ve carved away from the glass so you can see what’s still attached.

2. When you think you’ve removed all the silicone and the tank is clean, dampen a cotton swab or paper towel with rubbing alcohol and run it along the corners with your finger. You should be able to “feel” the sticky spots on the glass where a little bit of silicone remains. Go around the tank 3-4 times cleaning off any remaining silicone with alcohol and a razor blade, letting it dry after each cleaning. When you are satisfied that all of the old silicone is gone, let the tank dry completely and go on to the next step.

3. You are now ready to apply the fresh coat of silicone. Before you start, fill a small glass (shot glasses work great) about halfway with rubbing alcohol. Silicone dries quickly so you’ll need to be very efficient, especially if you’re working on a large tank. Set your rubbing alcohol in the tank (I worked with the tank standing up), and cut the nozzle on your silicone tube.

Note: For my second coat, I
had a buddy apply the silicone while I followed with rubbing alcohol and my
finger. It went a LOT smoother
using this method, I highly recommend it!

4. Working alone: Squeeze your silicone bead along an entire edge of the tank, and don’t be stingy! If you’re working alone: when you’ve finished applying the silicone to an edge, dip your finger in the rubbing alcohol and smooth the entire edge making sure there are no air bubbles. Wipe your hands (mostly) clean with a paper towel and move on to the next edge, covering them all in the same manner.

5. With a friend: Have your friend apply the silicone bead to each corner where pieces of glass meet. You’ll stay out of each other’s way if you do the entire bottom first, then hit the corners. As your friend applies the silicone, follow behind and smooth it with your finger. Dipping your finger in rubbing alcohol will make it glide over the silicone more smoothly – you get a better “feel” for the silicone that way.

6. When you’re finished, you should have a nice even bead where all of the pieces of glass join. Use mineral spirits and paper towels to get all the silicone off your hands, then follow up with soap.

7. Let the tank dry for at least 48 hours, then use a razor blade to clean up any spills on your glass. The extra silicone should peel off of flat surfaces fairly easily… you’re probably a silicone removal expert by now!

8. Perform a leak/bubble check in your laundry room or outside. Start by putting about 2” of water in the tank. Do a walk around (or just look carefully… mine’s a big tank) and look for air bubbles in the silicone. I found one bubble in mine. To fix it I removed about 2” to either side, then patched it with leftover silicone. If there are no bubbles in your base, fill the tank all the way and look for bubbles in the corners.

9. If you’re going to do a second coat just to be safe, now is the time. Repeat steps 1-7. If you apply the silicone thick enough the first time, a second coat should be unnecessary.

Good luck on your project! dissertationhero, be enjoying.

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Breeding The Neon Swordtail

In the early 1840’s, the famous botanist Karl Heller traveled to Mexico on a plant collecting expedition. When he returned to Europe he brought with him some strange and beautiful fish specimens. Eventually, these fish were called Xiphophorus helleri, literally, “Heller’s sword bearer”. For some time I had been hoping to acquire a pair of Green Xiphophorus helleri but they never seemed available at the club auctions. Then last November I saw a pair of fish that seemed to equal the beauty and majesty of the Green Swords – they were a healthy pair of Neon Swordtails. The body of the Neon Sword is mostly a soft, glowing orange with a striking reddish-purple slightly zigzagging midline that extends from the pectoral fins to the tail. The midline is set against a background of iridescent greens, blues, and reds. As they energetically swim around the aquarium their glistening body colours seems to dance in the glow of the light. They are truly a beautiful fish.

The pair I bought was healthy and active. The male was 2.5” in length, closer to 4” including the tail, and the female was about 3”. She had a nice round belly. While I assumed she might be pregnant, I had no idea of how pregnant she was. I was soon to find out.

I placed my new acquisitions in a bare ten gallon tank with a corner filter. The water temperature was steady at 78 degrees F. The pH was about 8 and the hardness about 10. During the next few days I added a few plastic floating plants for cover. The first Saturday I had the fish home (November 20th) I noticed a few fry floating at the water line along the sides of the tank. I quickly removed them to an adjacent 10 gallon tank. Everything I had read about the Swordtails told me that good sized females are able to drop dozens of fry, so I was surprised when my female Neon only had four babies.

Almost exactly four weeks later (Dec. 22) there was a second drop; this time there were three babies. I began to get suspicious. After all, this female sword was a healthy fish and sported a good length and depth. About three weeks later, I decided to remove the male, figuring that he’d probably already done his fertility work. On January 22nd, a third group of fry were born, but this time there were 29! It seems clear to me now that the female was probably having good fry drops each time, but that the male was engorging himself enjoying swordtail sushi.

I decided to keep the male and female apart since I had 36 fry, all of which seemed to be doing well. Then, a month later, on Feb. 23, something most amazing occurred. There was another drop, this time of 15 babies. As a Religion teacher in a Catholic School I was familiar with the doctrine of the Virginal Conception, but I certainly never expected to see it in the fish hobby. I decided to do some investigation. It turns out that some fish have an ability called superfoetation which allows females to store sperm for future fertilizations after mating with a single male. This process continued in my aquarium, with a fifth batch of 18 fry dropped on Mar. 22nd and a sixth group of 10 fry born about a month later on April 21st. It seemed that the drops occurred about four weeks apart and that the number of fry decreased with each subsequent birth. This technique is surely a helpful way for the Swordtail to increase its progeny.

I fed the fry microworms for the first week, and then changed to baby brine shrimp. As they got larger, I added some Tetra and Nutra Fin Flakes into their diet. They really relished the baby brine shrimp, even as adults. The fry grow quickly. When they are born, they are probably about ¼” in size. At a month to six weeks they are in the ½” range. At 3 months, one begins to see an orange tint on the back and the dorsal and anal fins. By 4 months, many are 5/8″ long and one clearly sees the fluorescent body tint. At this stage I also noticed perch-like vertical bars along the sides of the body. These disappear over time. At five months many fish are close to an inch long; the midline is clearly visible. At the six month mark I noticed that one of the fish from the first batch was developing the elongated anal fin or gonopodium of the male. Prior to this point it was not possible for me to differentiate males from females (although I’m sure experienced fish keepers would be able to tell long before this point). One week later I noticed a slight sword extension beginning to develop on the male’s tail. By 7 months, this tail would measure almost one inch in length.

At different times I’ve noticed male swords engage in what I would call “sparring behaviour”. Two males will back up toward each other in an apparent display of their swords. Sometimes one of the males will back off with his dorsal fin down; if not, sometimes the males will go at each other head first. My assumption is that this often aggressive behaviour is establishing a hierarchy of dominance, but I’m not certain.

If you want a beautiful addition to your community aquarium or fish room, one that is easy to maintain, one that breeds almost miraculously, then you should look no further than the Neon Swordtail. They are a pleasure to behold.

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DIY driftwood for your aquarium

DIY driftwood takes time, but it will save you tons of money. Some small pieces cost well over $20. Also, the soak method (minus salt) will work for store bought driftwood. Store bought driftwood is cleaned and has not been soaked. This may lead to tannin’s being leaked into your tank

What you’ll need:
Driftwood, which can be found anywhere. It doesn’t necessarily have to come from the water. You could find it in the woods, as long as it is weathered down and looks unique. Also make sure the wood is not rotting.

BIG soaking container, I use a 15 gal rubber maid container.

Aquarium Salt, I use Doc Wellfish brand. This is used as a natural way of killing bacteria and parasites.

First step, clean off your wood! Make sure all debris and bark are removed from the wood (or it’ll fall off in your tank!). Once complete, boil the water in the BIG pot and add aquarium salt. I use about a tablespoon per gallon. Boil the entire piece for about 2-4 hours depending on your size. If you can only fit half the wood in the pot then you will need to boil the other half.

Once the boil is complete you can transfer your wood into the rubber maid container. Add water until the whole piece of wood is under water (you can also add salt if you want). If the wood does not sink place something on top of it until it does. It’ll sink after a week or two. You’ll notice the water turn into tea-ish color. It is the result of the tannins that are released into the water. If you didn’t soak the wood, the water in your tank would be this color. Tannins are natural and some fishes actually like it because it’ll make them feel more at home. It’ll also affect your PH, I’m not sure about GH or KH. You’ll need to do water changes every other day to clean the water. This may take weeks or months.

When the color of the soak water suffices, you will need to soak your wood for another week without any salt. This will make sure that the wood does not hold any salt that may leak into your tank.

Once soaking is complete wash the wood well and transfers the wood into your tank. Do not keep the wood out of water for a long time or it will float.

For more information and pictures about this project, please visit and check the DIY section.

Article written by [email protected], member of CFT Community Стабильная консалтинговая компания оказывает бухгалтерские услуги в Тамбове быстро

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Cheapo Yeast CO2 for healthy aquarium plants.

In about 1993, somebody (I would like to know who) had the idea that if you were to ferment bread or beer, that the yeast could be used as a cheap source of CO2. Different recipes have been tried, and most work pretty good. Most people use an empty plastic two liter soda bottle. You drill, or melt with a hot nail, a hole in the cap to accept an air line. The most common problem that I have heard of is that the CO2 gas escapes from this hole in the cap. A sure fire method of sealing the cap, (I can say, because it is what I have used) is to seal a short piece of rigid tube in the hole with the brand name glue Goop. The Consumers Union Magazine rated glues a few years back, and found that Goop was the only glue to reliably stick to polyethylene used in the bottle caps, etc.. Other people have also reported success using aquarium silicon and also with the use of a fitting sold for drip irrigation. In any case the seal must be air tight.

Also, it is highly recommended that you install a one way check valve in the line as cheap insurance against the potential risk of an accidental siphon. This is good practice for all air lines into the tank.

The recipe for the yeast mixture which I and others have used successfully is to fill the bottle half full of cold tap water. Add about two cups of white sugar and shake until most of it is dissolved. Then add 1/2 teaspoon of granular baking yeast. I bake bread too, so I bought a 8 ounce bag at Costco for about $5. It will last me forever, and I store it in a airtight plastic bin in the freezer. This yeast mixture does not activate for about a day, so I usually mix it on Saturday, and hook it up to the tank on Sunday. I switch this mixture whether it needs it or not every other weekend, during my water change routine. If you use too little sugar, it may not last two weeks. (I bet as little as 1 cup would do.)

Don’t use too much yeast, as I did once, as this leads to foaming, which will creep up the air line and go into the tank. The goal is to have a bubble every few seconds or so. I think that just allowing the bubble up in the tank is probably enough. Most people go to some effort to extend the “contact time” of the bubble with the water. In one of my tanks, I have the air line stuck in the venturi hole in the power head. In another I have a glass jar on it’s side which contains the CO2 bubbles. Somebody wrote that this bubble in the glass jar method should be periodically purged, as the stray nitrogen gas will fill up the jar over time, though I think that the CO2 concentration would always be adequate. Some people use fancier “beer yeast”, which costs more, and the cheaper bread yeast works fine by all accounts. All in all, I think there is a lot of tolerance with this method and you should feel free to experiment.

One thing to worry about is that if your water is very soft, with a carbonate hardness of less than say dKH of 2, that added CO2 can run a risk of instability pH. You should know your dKH if you plan to use CO2. Also, you should be pretty regular in the changing of the CO2 mixture, as if you stop and start, your pH can fluctuate, which causes stress to fish. (That is why so people will start the yeast mixture in advance, so they don’t have a gap in the gas supply. Lastly, CO2 is easily gassed off of the water. Though, I wouldn’t not use CO2 if I wanted to also use an air stone, power head etc.. The ideal planted tank with CO2 does not use filtration which causes a lot of water movement that drives off the CO2 gas.

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DIY Aquarium

Some questions have been asked of late about tank building, while I do not claim to be an expert, I have built many tanks. The following is a basic guide on putting a tank together.

First thing’s first; when cutting, try and cut to the center of the glass, if you try and cut off a 1″ strip (for example), the break would not be square, but would lean towards the narrow strip. When assembling the tank, the sides, front and back are placed on TOP of the base. Silicone can be any 100% silicone, I use DAP, and GE brands from the builders supply.

As far as precision, the front and back can be cut close, as the sides fit inside these pieces. The two sides must be cut exactly alike. After cutting, place the two sides together, and place on edge on a piece of glass. If the edges do not align (one may slant away from the other), then turn one piece only and try to re-match. If this still fails, try turning that same piece end over end. If that fails, try cutting another. The easiest way to cut in my opinion is with a Square.

After cutting, “sand” the edges to take off the cutting edge. You can get silicone carbide sandpaper from a glass company. If you are doing a few, it is worth ordering a belt for a belt sander. You have to keep the belt moving, but it is a lot faster.

No jigs are used during assembly; clean the glass and stack in “like pieces.” Place the base in a position where you have room to work arround it, and place a box about 1″ behind it. The back is the first piece to glue. Run a bead along the bottom edge, and stand it in place on top of the base. Lean it against the box for support. Next, run a bead along two edges of one side. Stand it in place on the base, and raise the back into an upright position against the side. Gently squeeze the two and remove the box. “Wipe” your index finger along the bead to smooth and press into the corners, inside and out. Wipe once only, if you try to wipe again later in the process, the silicone will ripple. Next bead two edges of the other side, and stand in place, and wipe the joints. Bead the base of the front, and the edges of the sides, and stand in place. Wipe again, and then do a final alignment of the pieces. You will be able to slide the pieces for about 5-10 min depending on temp.The entire assembly process will take about 10 min after practice.

Glass thickness depends upon tank dimensions, I use 1/4 ” Plate Glass for tanks up to 30 gal. A 40 gal can be built with this glass, but a center brace would be needed. I recomend 30 as the largest size for 1/4″ glass. When buying thicker glass, the price goes up.

It goes without saying, glass is very sharp, and you will cut yourself until you get the feel for it. Then you will cut yourself even worse. Be care please and always use safety equipent and common sense.

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An Easy Way To Set Up A Quarantine Tank

Do I Need A Quarantine Tank?

The often dismissed but very necessary part of the tropical fish hobby, the infamous quarantine tank. Do you really need one to be successful in this hobby?

For freshwater fish you may be able to get by without having one. Freshwater fish are generally more suited to captivity because they are usually tank raised and don’t seem to break out in disease as readily as their saltwater counterparts. However, if newly acquired fish do come down with something, you will surely wish that you had one ready to go. One newly bought fish that is introduced to your main tank can easily wipe out the entire tank population. Better safe than sorry, right?

For saltwater aquarium keepers, I would say that you definitely need a quarantine tank. Marine specimens are mostly wild caught and not used to being kept in captivity. Their journey to a dealers tank is usually much longer and much more stressful for them. Stressed out fish will usually come down with some kind of disease if they don’t simply die from the whole ordeal. Saltwater fish keepers will usually have other things in the main display tank such as invertebrates and live rock, that they don’t want to expose to the harsh medicines necessary to treat one or two fish. Some medicines can wipe out all of the invertebrates in a tank, so be sure to research any medicine before using it in your tank.

Quarantine Tank Setup

You don’t need to go all out here. A simple 10 – 20 gallon aquarium will suffice for most people. If you have larger fish then obviously you want to get a bigger quarantine tank. All you really need is a bare bones setup with the following equipment:

Some type of filtration (a hang on the back of the tank power filter will work, just use filter floss without the carbon since carbon will remove medication from the water, being counter productive)
A powerhead and/or an airstone for increased surface agitation
Test Kits for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate
Fish Net – don’t use the same net for your main tank

Fill the quarantine tank with water from the main tank and then turn everything on in the quarantine tank.

Freshwater and Saltwater Fish Quarantine

For newly acquired fish you will want to acclimate them to the water in the quarantine tank and monitor them very closely for a period of two to three weeks. Monitor the water parameters with your test kits and check for signs of parasites or bacterial infections.

If the newly acquired fish does come down with something you will need to use the appropriate medication and you will need to keep them in quarantine for a further two weeks to make sure that you have indeed treated them effectively. If after a few weeks no problems develop, you can then acclimate them to the main tank water and then introduce them.

If a fish comes down with something while in your main tank, just net them and plop them into the quarantine tank. There should be no need to acclimate them because you used water from your main tank. If you didn’t use water from the main tank you will need to acclimate them to the quarantine tank water. Diagnose the problem/disease and treat appropriately. After the disease clears up you will still want to keep the fish in quarantine for a week or so monitoring the water parameters with your test kits the whole time.

Freshwater hobbyists may get away with not using a quarantine tank, but saltwater hobbyists would be crazy not using one. Save yourself some money, headaches and especially the fish by having a quarantine tank. The fish in your main tank will thank you for it. o1 visa Details US Immigration Fraud.

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Setting Up A Tank, for Dummies

Your first tank arrives home, possibly with a bag of fish, possibly not. Possibly with a kit-type collection of assorted lights, heaters, and filters, possibly not. What are you going to do with it all? This article is intended to provide you with instructions for setting up your first tank. I assume you want your new tank to be something to admire, and that the typical “starter kit” aquarium complete with bubbling plastic skeleton is not going to cut it. Instead, this approach will give you a showpiece aquarium; one that will be an attractive feature in a semi-formal living room rather than an eyesore in the family rumpus room. As such, it will be naturally aquascaped with hardy, attractive, and (most of all) living plants, and be supplied with a nice collection of attractive, peaceful fishes.

There are plenty of different ways to set up such a tank, and you will get other advice from other club members, but the method I will describe is reliable.

Well, first off, I hope you haven’t got a bag of fish yet. You need a couple of day’s preparation before you’re ready for that. Here’s also hoping that you got some good advice when you purchased your equipment on what to buy. If you purchased at a department store or a non-aquarium specialty stores, you may have been sold whatever that particular store wants to unload. You may therefore have to make another trip to the store to get some decent equipment; and I would highly recommend one of the local aquarium specialty stores (Riverfront, Pisces, etc.) over Walmart. Before setting up your aquarium, this is what you should purchase:

1) A tank (obviously enough). It should be of all-glass construction and should ideally be in the 25 to 50 gallon capacity range. Anything smaller does not provide enough capacity to provide a stable environment in the hands of a beginner, and is really too small for an effective living room display anyway. Anything larger is more expensive than what you are likely to want to spend on your first aquarium. However, you should be aware that four-foot fluorescent bulbs are considerably cheaper than the three-foot variety. Therefore, even though a four-foot tank is more expensive to buy than a three-foot tank, it is less expensive to light and (as discussed below) lights are a primary expense. You should therefore seriously consider getting a four-foot tank; the final expenditure will not be a great deal more after the cost of bulbs and light fixtures are added in. A tank that measures 48″x12″x18 is very nice in this regard, but the smaller 36″x12″x18″ size is more widely available and certainly does make for a nice display tank too.

2) An adequate light and hood assembly. This is the hardest item to find and possibly the most expensive item as well. The only hoods that are readily available for aquaria at a reasonable cost are those plastic aquarium hoods with the single fluorescent tube or a 20-watt incandescent fixture. They do not produce enough light for plants. At the very least, you need two full-length fluorescent tubes for a tank with plants, and even this will allow you to only keep a few shade-tolerant plant species. Most club members build their own multi-tube hoods using fluorescent shop fixtures. If you are handy with tools, this is highly recommended. Otherwise I would recommend getting at least two strip lights and a sliding glass aquarium cover. The aquarium cover is readily available at good aquarium stores but the strip lights may require a trip to Home Depot or Revy. Get full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs for your fixture. I would recommend the Philips Ultralume bulb as being an inexpensive and high-quality full-spectrum light. They are available in building supply depots with lighting departments, like Totem, Revy, Home Depot, etc. Other full spectrum bulbs (such as Vitalite) are also available in pet shops, but at a much higher cost. One of those pinkish-looking plant grow-lights is OK among the full-spectrum bulbs, but I would recommend that no more than half the bulbs above the tank be of this variety. I would not recommend those cheap warm-white or cool-white fluorescent bulbs; although inexpensive, they produce comparatively little light that is usable by plants. Neither would I recommend that a beginner use incandescent, halogen, or metal halide lighting. These lights have their place (I use all three myself) but they require special arrangements to deal with the heat they produce.

3) A heater. Any of the submersible or semi-submersible aquarium heaters are fine, but don’t get the cheapest one available. Reliability is important here. You will want a heater rated for 100 watts to 150 watts.

4) A biological filter. However, I wouldn’t recommend an undergravel filter for this tank. They are OK, but their drawbacks out-weigh their good points. They are difficult to maintain in the long term, require their own air or water pump, and should only be run in a tank with a separate mechanical filter. The need for a separate power supply for the undergravel filter plus another separate mechanical filter adds both cost and complexity to the tank. A single motorized biological filter unit that integrates both biological and mechanical filtration is simpler, less expensive, and much easier to keep clean than an undergravel filter. Mechanical biological filters are relatively new on the market, but are now widely available. They can either hang on the back of the tank, or be a canister. Most cost effective is a hanging filter. These come equipped with a supplementary biological filter module such as a biowheel (a waterwheel-like attachment) or a drip plate. Your filter should have a flow sufficient to turn over the tank’s volume about three times per hour. So a 33-gallon tanks needs a 100 gph filter. The real-world flow rate will be about 75% of the rated flow listed by the manufacturer.

5) A separate mechanical filter if an undergravel filter is being used. If a power biological filter is used, these are unnecessary since the power filter will have its own mechanical filtration module.

6) An air pump or water pump, but again only if an undergravel filter is used. A power filter comes with its own motor.

7) Fine gravel or coarse sand. The darker the colour the better. Get at least a couple of inches worth. That’s about one pound of gravel per gallon of tank capacity. A little more is better. If you wish, a cup or two of a substrate additive like laterite or earthworm castings can be mixed with the bottom third of the sand. Feel free to leave this step out however, as this is an advanced technique which I would hesitate to recommend to a beginner. Not only do you run the risk of the sand going anaerobic, substrate additives make for a real mess when you finally tear down the tank. Do not use a substrate additive if you plan to have only a few plants.

8) A very solid stand. Your finished tank will weigh over 10 pounds per gallon of capacity. Remember that.

9) Rocks or driftwood for decoration and the security of the fish.

10) A scraper to clean algae off the glass. Both the magnetic pad kind and a razor blade scraper should be acquired.

11) At least one nice soft net. Both a big “trapping” net and a smaller “herding” net are good to own.

12) A good thermometer. Make sure you examine all the thermometers in the store and find one that is reading the same as the other ones. The liquid-crystal stick-on thermometers are good, but can’t be moved once in place.

But what you don’t need yet is livestock (fish and plants).

Now, to set everything up, first wash the gravel and rocks in water only (no cleansers) and rinse out the tank as well. Pour in the gravel and then the rocks. Hang the heater, thermometer, and filter on the back of the tank, but don’t plug them in yet. Fill the tank slowly with cold or lukewarm water, trying not to blow the gravel around, while watching for leaks and making sure your stand is holding up to the weight. After the temperature of the water equals the room temperature, plug in the heater and adjust it so its indicator light just comes on. Plug the filter in too. Allow a few hours for the temperature to settle and adjust the heater if necessary. You want a temperature to stabilize at about 25C. It will likely be the next day before you can set a stable tank temperature.

Now, after things have been running and have been stable for another day or so (no sooner), buy some plants. I would definitely include the two plant species Cryptocoryne affinis and Java fern (Microsorium pteropus) because they are very easy to grow. Plant the C. affinis as you would any terrestrial plant, but tie the Java fern to your driftwood with some black thread. Do not bury the Java fern`s roots. You can buy these species in all good aquarium stores, or club members can always be found that have some to spare. If you have at least two full-length fluorescent bulbs (as you should have) you can also include some Vallisneria, since these plants are also hardy and easy to keep, but they do require a good deal of light. There are many other species of plants suitable for the beginner, but be careful if you don’t know which ones are suitable. Make sure that the plants you chose are actually aquatic plants, not terrestrial plants that were stuck under water by unknowledgeable or unscrupulous storeowners. If in doubt about a plant species, ask another club member for advice, or take one of the plant books out of the library to help your identification. Make sure you spend enough money on plants that you get a good number (club auctions are really good for getting plants in bulk). One Cryptocoryne affinis or Vallisneria plant per gallon of water and a good handful of Java fern makes for a good first planting. But don’t be discouraged if your plants die back immediately after planting; they will grow back. Cryptocoryne affinis is notorious for doing just that. Vallisneria is also known for languishing for a few months after planting, before starting to grow with abandon. Give your plants the time they need to get established.

After the plants are planted and the tank has sat with its filter running for a few days, you can add the first few fish; but only a very few (no more than three). Make sure that these first fish are not territorial, because if they are, they will stake their claims before the other fish get into the tank and attempt to drive off the new-comers when they arrive. Corydoras catfish make good first residents. You must now be patient. The purpose of adding these first few fish is to provide a source of ammonia to mature your biological filter. The biological filter requires time to grow a good culture of bacteria that will oxidize fish ammonia and change it into non-toxic nitrate. This generally takes at least a month; so give it six weeks to be sure. After the six weeks are up, you can populate the tank relatively safely. But don’t add too many fish. You want a show tank, and a heavy fish population will only result in algae, dirty water, and maintenance problems. A relatively few fish swimming among healthy plants is much more attractive than a lot of fish in an algae-covered tank. The rule of thumb of “one inch of fish per gallon” is a good one, as long as you are talking about slim fish no longer than three or four inches in total length. Next month, I will discuss suitable selections of fish for the first-time aquarist.

Don’t bother with chemical filtration in your filter box, such as activated carbon. With proper tank maintenance, carbon is not necessary. Also, don’t be overly concerned about buying lots of test kits. The pH of Calgary’s water is stuck on 8.2 and its well-buffered and stable enough that (with proper tank maintenance) your tank pH will never be significantly different than that of the water that comes out of the tap. Therefore, as long as you follow proper set up and maintenance guidelines, there is little point in testing your tank pH. You may want to buy an ammonia test kit, but if you set up the aquarium correctly and allow enough time for the biological filter to mature, you won’t have any ammonia to test anyway. And don’t worry about getting any fish medications, tonics, or other such garbage. If anyone has ever saved a fish with over-the-counter antibiotics I have yet to meet him. It is much better to simply set up and maintain the tank properly, and you just won’t see any disease.

However, do be concerned with getting high quality fish food. Good flake food is adequate for the fish I will describe next month, and the Aquarian and Tetra brands are especially good, as are many others. Good aquarium stores will only sell good foods, but department stores may sell poor quality flakes. In addition, some freeze-dried foods such as krill, ocean plankton, and mosquito larvae are also good dietary supplements. Commercial frozen foods are also good, but much more expensive. If you want to get more involved in the hobby, home made frozen foods are inexpensive and fun to make, and recipes can be found readily in The Calquarium’s back issues. And if you find yourself becoming a budding fish fanatic, you can collect live insect larvae and crustaceans from country ditches and ponds during the spring. These bug-hunting expeditions can be a lot of fun. When feeding your fish, feed them lightly. Heavy feedings will result in rapid fish growth and lots of spawning activity, but will also considerably increase the amount of waste and algae growing in the aquarium. Since this is a display tank, not a breeding tank, feed only a little and you will have a much nicer tank. Feeding as much as your fish will eat in five minutes, twice a day, is more than plenty. And don’t be concerned about missing a few feedings either. Your fish are fine without food for as much as a week. If you are going to be away for longer than that, make arrangement for a very light feeding every other day. Under no circumstances should you ever use those Plaster-of-Paris “weekend feeding blocks”. The food particles in them are so small that no adult fish can eat them, and the blocks harden water as they dissolve. They are useless wastes of money and inedible sources of pollution.

You should seriously consider feeding your plants. Iron and manganese fertilization is necessary in Calgary’s water, since our water (sourced from the Rocky Mountain runoff) is deficient in trace metals. There are lots of commercial fertilizer mixes that are just fine. However, I would only add fertilizer with a water change unless you purchase an iron test kit. If you regularly add fertilizer without monitoring the levels or first removing some water, you can get a toxic build-up of iron over time. So if the instructions on the fertilizer bottle are to add one drop of solution per gallon, and you change five gallons of water, just put five drops in the tank after the water change. Repeat this the next time you change water. Don’t add any more than this unless you monitor the iron levels with a test kit. Remember that plants actually need very little iron. And don’t use fertilizers that contain any phosphates or nitrates. Also, don’t concern yourself with CO2 fertilization. This is an advanced technique, and (although it’s sort of fun to monkey around with the gear) CO2 fertilization is not necessary for a healthy tank.

As for changing water, that is a very important part of weekly maintenance. I would recommend changing 25% weekly. This is a bit of a chore unless you have either a Python water changer or one of its competitors. These devices take almost all the drudgery of tank ownership and are well worth the money. Clean the glass with your algae scraper as well. Also clean the mechanical filtration module of your filter weekly, but leave the biological filter module for only twice-yearly cleaning. Even then only rinse the biological filter medium in old tank water. You can expect to devote 1/2 hour of maintenance to your tank weekly, but again, don’t stress out about missing the odd week’s maintenance schedule.

When changing water, make sure that the temperature is as close as possible to that of the tank, and add some dechlorinator as well. Dechlorinators, despite contrary opinion, are not strictly necessary in Calgary (I never use them) but are good insurance for smaller fish. If you use a dechlorinator, feel free to add water straight out of the tap through your Python (or other) water changer (just add the dechlorinator to the tank before refilling). Make sure however that the replacement water is well aerated during refilling in order to release any excessive dissolved gas. The Python is designed to aerate water during refilling and so will release dissolved gas nicely. Most good aquarium stores in town sell the Python and a seemingly identical (except that it’s blue) competitive product is also available for a little less money.

With light feedings, low fish densities, lots of light, and regular maintenance, you can easily set up a thriving, beautiful tank. But you will still have some algae, and algae-eating fishes are a good idea. I’ll discuss these and other fishes for your new tank next month.? Садовый центр – декоративные растения и цветы

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Breeding Fish

This article is not entirely original. I have been collecting spawning articles from various club publications for over three years. This is an overview taken from a collection of these.

Why breed fish?
There are many reasons. In our club, you get points in a nationally recognized Breeder’s Award program. If I ever move to another area of the U.S. there’s a good chance that a new club I join will accept the points I have earned at YATFS. Some people think they going to get rich – or at least support their hobby – selling the fish that they breed. Others do it for the scientific interest and fulfillment of seeing different species procreate. What better way to appreciate the “grander scheme” of life? And how about the ease of teaching the little humans in the household about the birds and the bees? (Although I must confess, I thought briefly that I had missed the boat when my then 4 year old daughter asked if the pregnant cat was an egg layer or a livebearer.) Still others do it for the competition within the club. On the larger scale, they compete to spawn species that are considered difficult or have never before been done.

How do you spawn fish?
First, you do some basic research. Read and/or talk to someone who already spawned the species. Find out what kind of species of fish you have. Is it a livebearer or egg-layer? What is the best ratio of males to females for that species? What is the best spawning age for the fish? What are the ideal tank conditions?

You also need to find out the best way to care for the fry. Some need to be left with the parents for a while. Others need their parents removed to prevent cannibalism. Some require special foods the first week(s). Others can subsist on average flake foods.

This article is not all inclusive. There are many fish that are considered “odd-balls.” They break the rules and do not fit into any one category. They exhibit one or more unique spawning traits to set them apart from the others. That is why breeding fish is so intriguing to many of us. There’s always another challenge or adventure in the hobby.


You usually can’t tell exactly when these fish have spawned. The male constantly chases the female. The eggs are fertilized inside the female’s body. The male transfers the sperm into her vent with his modified anal fin, called a gonopodium. But, if you know the average gestation period for the species and you watch the female’s developing belly size and shape, you can estimate when delivery will take place. Gestation for livebearers can be from 25 – 45 days. Most, but not in all, livebearing female fish have a gravid spot near the base of their tail, which is a sort of window to the developing fry. A day or so before delivery, you can sometimes see the babies’ eyes. Some species get a very square looking chest right before delivering. The most important reason for knowing all this is to know when to remove the female to a separate delivery tank. Sadly, most livebearers will eat fry. Even their own.

Another trick with livebearers is that females can store sperm from previous mating for many months. Just because you lost the male doesn’t mean the female will not any more babies. Also if you want to breed female A with male B, you may have to make sure that she is not with any other males whatsoever. Granted, the most recent male will most likely be the father of the fry. But it is always better to be extra careful with livebearers.

Generally speaking, the delivery tank should be 2.5 – 5 gallons. Use 70% water from the original tank, a sponge filter and a heater if needed. Live floating plants or artificial “spawning grass” will give the fry somewhere to hide. Lowering the lights will calm the female. Some theories say you should avoid exposing the gravid female to the air. So use a jar to scope her up and transfer her in water to the delivery tank. As soon as she is done delivering, remove the female back to either the original tank or a recovery tank away from the attentions of the male. Some species take up to 3 days to deliver their entire brood. Still others deliver a couple fry every 5-7 days. Again do some research.

Most livebearer fry can be feed crushed flake food from the day they are born. But all love baby brine shrimp and microworms! They are generally larger than egg-layer fry and are free swimming almost immediately. Therefore, they do not require parental care.


As mentioned before, egg- layer fry are often small and require special foods and/or varying degrees of parental care. Do the research. As far as spawning, these fish are divided into seven basic groups according to their different spawning styles:

Open substrate spawners
This is the most common spawning method, mainly used by cichlids. These fish often form permanent pair bonds. The female lays the eggs on a flat surface, such as a rock . The male works in close proximity with her to fertilize the eggs. These fish are often very good at guarding the eggs and defending the fry. Angels, Discus, Severums, Jack Dempseys, Oscars, Firemouths, Jewel Cichlids, Rainbow Cichlids, Rams, many Aequidens species, Sunfishes, Darters, Gobies, Damsels & Clowns.

A compatible pair must be found. This is best done by raising a group of 6-8 fry to maturity and picking out the pairs as they form. Set them up in their own tank, condition them, watch & wait. If the pairs become regular egg-eaters or fry devourers, you can remove the eggs to be hatched away from their parents.

Although these do not technically hide the eggs like the next category, some will often bury them and move them from place to place in the tank. So don’t think you lost the spawn until well past the time when you should see them free swimming. In addition, although this group are not considered Mouthbrooders some will pick the fry up in their mouths and move them to a safer territory, especially at night time. Don’t think they are eating the fry until many are actually missing!

Substrate Spawners that Hide their Eggs
Several of these fish also form permanent pair bonds. Most however, do not; it is the female that takes on the care of the fry. Eggs are usually laid in a hidden area such as a cave, flower pot or shell. Because of their secretive nature, the spawning is usually not observed.

Included in this group are many Dwarf cichlids, Apistogramma, Nanacara, Namachromis, Pelvicachromis, Julidochromis, Lamprologous, Loricaria, Farlowella & Ancistrus. It is interesting to note that the males of the catfish species are the ones that take care of the fry.

Set up a pair with several spawning choices. Feed them well and wait for Nature to takes it’s course. The female will lay the eggs within a cave or under a rock and the male will fertilize the eggs in unison. Sometimes you guess if spawning has actually taken place or not because the female disappears for about two weeks while she tends to her eggs. She drives the male out during this time. When the fry are free- swimming, she will bring them out and parade them around the tank. Pay attention to feeding whatever the fry require. It is often good to remove the male at this point. In another 3-4 weeks, the female can also be removed.

An easy group of fish to spawn because they protect the fry the most efficiently. Also, they tend to be a very hardy group.

Set up a pair with rocks, gravel and caves. A few dither fish will help them keep their aggressions away from each other. Feed them well, Usually the male digs a pit in the substrate. The female, when ripe, will begin the circular spanning dance around the pit with the male. Eggs are laid, fertilized, then scooped up into the female’s mouth. In some African Cichlids the female tries to ” scoop up” the egg spots on the male’s anal fin, thereby ensuring that the sperm has reached the eggs in her mouth. The eggs are incubated in her mouth for about three weeks. She will not eat at all in this time, unless the eggs have been lost or swallowed. Wait for about two weeks and move her to another tank. When the fry are old enough, the female will release them and guard them. Often, she can be seen chewing up and spitting out food for them. When danger approaches the fry fly at lightning speed to hide in the mother’s mouth. When the young have been free swimming for about three to four weeks it is OK to remove the female. Sometimes she will eat them if she is ready to spawn again.

Egg Scatterers
This group consist mainly of those fish we call schooling types: Barbs, Danios, Characins, Tetras & Rainbows. They spawn as they school, scattering eggs all over the tank. The females release the eggs haphazardly; the males follow close behind, releasing sperm at the same time. Amazingly, the two meet and the eggs stick to whatever they land on. The eggs are usually eaten as fast as they are laid by the spawners and their tankmates.

To successfully save the eggs, set up another tank with lots of plants (plastic or real) or mops. Larger gravel or marbles on the floor also help to catch the eggs. Put in an air stone and a heater, if needed. Introduce a female only, and condition her on quality foods for a few days. One evening , introduce a male. The next morning they should spawn at sunrise. After a few hours, remove the pair. Cover the tank with dark cardboard or towels. The fry will hatch in three to four days. They are very tiny and are often described as slivers of glass on the walls of the tank. They require specialized food (infusoria, APR, etc.) at this stage. In a week or so, they will take live baby brine shrimp, vinegar eels, microworms and such. After two weeks they can take powdered flake foods. Growth will then be more noticeable. Rainbows are in this category, but breeders usually remove the eggs and hatch them like mop spawners.

Mop Spawners
Mainly comprised of Killifish, these fish lay their eggs in mops made of synthetic yarn, or in plants. The goal seams to be to hide the eggs. Included in this group Aphyosemion, Aplocheilus, Epiplatys, Rivukus, Simposonichthys and the previously mentioned Rainbows. What makes these fish different from the egg lay scatterers is that their eggs are harder and larger, and they only lay about 20 -30 a day. Corydoras catfish also seem to fit in this group in method, although they lay many more eggs. Typically, they will attach their eggs to anything in the tank including the mop.

The spawning tank setup is simple enough. Hang several mops, add a sponge filter and a heater if needed. Add a pair of fish. The female will lay the eggs deep in the mop or the plant. The male will then fertilize them. Sometimes they will turn right around and eat them. Another difference with Corydoras is that it is now believed that the female takes the sperm into her mouth and fertilizes the eggs which she is clutching in her pectoral fins, while sticking it on the preferred surface.

You must pick the eggs out of the mop daily and put them in a small container with anti-fungal medication added (methylene blue or acriflavin). Store the eggs in a darker place, at the required temperature. They will incubate for 14-21 days for killies and 7-10 days for rainbows. As the fry hatch, remove them with an eyedropper or pipette to another small container or tank with the correct water parameters and some Java moss or similar floating plants. Some can take live food right away, others need infusoria or APR.

Peat Spawners
This group is made up entirely of Killifish. Cynolebias, Pterolebias, Nothobranchus and Fundulopanchax. These are the fish we hear referred to “true annual” killies. In the wild, they have adapted to life in correlation with the rainy seasons. They hatch, grow and spawn before the next dry season comes along, during which their watery world as they know it dries up and they die. The eggs are able to survive in this drying period. When the next rainy season comes along: life anew.

Set up a 5 gallon tank for a trio of fish. In it should be a bowl that contains about 2″ of peat moss. Some people like a slow bubbling sponge filter and some plants or a mop for the female to hide in. Feed the fish well, but away from the spawning container. The male will display himself above the peat moss. When the female is interested in spawning she will come close. They will seem to dive into the peat, where they will lay a few eggs and fertilize them. This continues several times a daily for many days.

Most breeders collect the peat and give the fish a new batch about once a week. The peat is gently squeezed and placed into some newspaper, lightly covered with a plastic bag overnight. The dried peat is stored in a zipped sandwich bag, in a dark place at a correct temperature.

Here is were you need to consult the charts in the killifish books for temperature and drying /incubation time. It can take anywhere from 2-9 months! And incorrect temperatures can cause poorly developed fry or low hatching rates.

When it is time to hatch the fry, the parents are most likely dead. Wet the peat, then submerge it in a couple inches of water in a plastic shoe box. Cover lightly to shade the eggs. With in a few hours, fry can be seen popping up over the layer of peat. Remove them with a pipette and put into another shoebox with a few inches of water and some peat moss or a floating plant. after about 24 hours, the peat can be re-dried for another two weeks. Try to hatch more fry. This can be repeated 1-2 more times. Feed the fry often and well, paying attention to water quality. Because these fish live such short lives, they grow quickly.

Nest Builders
As the name implies, these fish build a nest in which to lay their eggs. Fish nests are built with bubbles, mostly on the surface of the water using pieces of plants. The male builds the nest. The bubbles stay inflated because of a special mucous he has in his mouth when he blows the bubbles. The nest builders are mainly the labyrinth fished such as Gouramis, Paradise Fish, most Bettas and Hoplosturnum Cats.

Set up a separate spawning tank for the pair. A very slowly bubbling, aged sponge filter should be included to culture infusoria for the future fry. A couple snails will do the same thing, along with lots of floating plants. A heater will be needed. Some plastic plants or mops are helpful for the female to hide in. The key to the set-up is an upside down Styrofoam bowl or something similar, taped to the front of the glass of the tank, right at the surface of the water. There should be some dead air space inside the container.

Put the male into the tank, and do not add the female until he has started a bubble nest and she is ripe with eggs. When all conditions are right, the male will entice the female under the nest. He will wrap his body around hers until she releases a stream of eggs. He releases his sperm at the same time. Then he lets her go. She will remain motionless and sink for a moment or two, but the male will immediately go to work gathering eggs in his mouth and spitting them into the nest. When the female comes to, she will often help. This will continue for several hours. When they are finished spawning, the male will violently drive the female away from the nest. Now is the time to remove her.

The male will guard, fix and add bubbles to the nest for the next three days. When the fry begin to hatch, they will wiggle out of the nest. He will actively catch them and spit them back into place. He should not be fed during these 3-4 days. Otherwise, he might forget his job and begin eating the fry as well.

At the age of 6-8 weeks the fry will begin to develop their labyrinth organs. Covering the tank with plastic wrap or taping the cracks in the glass will keep the air temperature closer to the water temperature and you will lose less fry.

Some exception to the surface bubble nest are seen with the Croaking Gouramis and the Pygmy Gouramis. They build their nests inside a cave, so breeders usually use 2″ PVC tubing pieces for them.

This Overview should be enough to get you interested in spawning some of your favorite fish.

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