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About Tropical Fish

A beautiful decoration item, tropical fish include fish found in tropical environments around the world, including both fresh water and salt water species. Tropical fish are popular aquarium fish , due to their often bright coloration.

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About Coral Reefs

Often called “rainforests of the sea”, coral reefs form some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. They occupy very small percentage of the total sea surface on earth, yet they provide a home for twenty-five percent of all marine species. Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Corals are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters.

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Long Island Netting of Seahorses Banned

AP
New York lawmakers have voted to ban the commercial netting of seahorses off Long Island for sale in tropical fish stores.

The bill sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk would amend the state's conservation law and permit taking the northern or lined seahorse only for scientific or educational purposes.

The northern seahorse can be found in the Great South and Moriches Bay in summer in eelgrass beds and can live up to five years.

Bill sponsors say the slow-moving fish appear to migrate offshore in colder months. Little is known about their overall abundance or ability to withstand harvests.

According to Blue Zoo Aquatics, they can grow up to 7.5 inches long and require expert care in captivity.

 
Dead Tropical Fish on Albany beaches

A great number of sunfish have been found dead on Goode Beach and at Frenchman's Bay.  The unusual species of fish are washing up on Albany's shores, say's the Department of Fisheries.

 
Jumping Sturgeon Breaks a Leg

Jumping into an airboat, a Sturgeon fractured a young woman’s leg.  The fish was about 6 feet long and weighed about 75 pounds witnesses say.

“This should be the fifth incident of the type this year that a person is injured by a jumping Sturgeon,” said the wildlife authorities told AP.

 
Tap Water - Is It Ok To Be Used

Tap Water - Is It Ok To Be Used

The new or not so new aquarist may be puzzled by the repeated advice to use purified tap water. So tap water is purified, use that. No.

The water coming out of the tap is purified by the local water authority. Regulations advise the amount of additional substances that are permitted, and, hopefully, the water authority meets that criteria. However, this is for human consumption. We can tolerate an amount of nitrate, phosphate, heavy metal such as copper etc. Obviously we can, we drink it, and clean our teeth with it. Our children do likewise. So what is this need for purification of the tap water for use in a salt water aquarium?

As already mentioned, tap water contains amounts of nitrates, phosphates, and heavy metals etc which are tolerated by humans. The water companies also insert additions such as chlorine and chloramines for cleaning purposes. These additions are not good for the marine aquarium.

The oceans and seas where the livestock of our aquariums originate is stable. The fish and corals have become accustomed to this stability over thousands of years. With some variance, they cannot tolerate much change. For their health and vitality, the aquarist needs to produce the same stability and purity that the livestock is accustomed to. So the introduction of anything into the seawater that will upset the status quo should be avoided. The aquarium is less than miniscule compared to the sea and oceans, and it is fairly easy to upset the balance of things.

Another reason to avoid introducing unwanted additions to the seawater - the sea salt itself. This sea salt is used by the majority of marine aquarists, for the initial fill, and for routine water changes. If the content information on the pack is read, it will be found that there are lots and lots of constituents that make up the salt, some of them present in trace amounts only. The salt manufacturers have taken a lot of trouble to provide, as far as they can, a correct mix that goes a good way to duplicating nature’s own. Then along comes the aquarist and mixes up the salt with tap water, with all the additions that are in the tap water. It makes good sense to mix the carefully proportioned dry salt with water that is as pure as possible, so that minimal changes occur. After all, that is why routine water changes are done, so that the reduction in purity is reversed to an extent by the introduction of new pure seawater.

There is yet another reason why tap water should not be used. The nitrate and phosphate content of tap water varies by location, but it is usually there. Nitrate and phosphate are the culprits in undesirable algae growth, in some cases undesirable algae explosions! No aquarist wants the aquarium in that state. So why introduce it in the first place? Again, have a look at the salt mix packet, it will probably state ‘nitrate and phosphate free’. So again the manufacturers have gone to some trouble on the aquarists behalf. Why negate their help?

The usual way to purify tap water is by using an R/O (reverse osmosis) unit. Put simply, the tap water is forced through a tiny access in a membrane. Pure water is retained and the rest disposed of. The ratio of pure water to the rest is around one in four or five. The purity achieved is from around 95% to 98%.

An R/O unit is rated in gallons per day (occasionally per hour) of purified water, so it is easy to select one that is suitable. They don’t cost a lot, particularly when the cost of livestock and live rock, plus the routine water change sea salt mix, is taken into account.

We’re all trying to furnish the best environment for the life in our aquariums, aren’t we?


Visit the ‘Salt Water Aquarium’ website if you are interested in learning more about the saltwater aquarium hobby.


 
Water Circulation In The Aquarium

Water Circulation In The Aquarium

The provision of water circulation in the saltwater aquarium is dependant upon what filtration method you are using and ultimately the life you are keeping in the aquarium.

When we look closely at the water which we keep our animals in there are loads and loads of elements all of which we are attempting to keep stable. By moving water around within the small confinements of the aquarium we are able to ensure that all of these elements are evenly distributed within the water. If no water movement was applied then it is feasible that areas of water within the aquarium could become more loaded in elements than other areas of the aquarium.

A good example of the above statement is that of the oxygen content and the effect this has upon the pH of the aquarium. If there is not enough water movement in the aquarium then the water is not able to take in any more oxygen and the CO2 levels in the aquarium will increase. Due to this increase the pH levels will actually decrease.

Another area which requires good water movement is that of chemical additives. The addition of chemical additives (by chemical additives I mean additives from a bottle, calcium reactor, kalk stirrer etc) into an aquarium which has little or no water movement will not allow the additives to mix in with the surrounding water. Whilst eventually the additives will mix in for a while there will be an area, or more where the water is not correct.

Above we have covered in general what is commonly termed as chemical in-balance. Whilst this is good enough on it’s own to ensure that you have good water movement it does not detail probably what is one of the main reasons as to why good water circulation is required - the movement of waste products.

You have placed animals into a confined environment and these animals produce waste, just like all animals do.

Without the correct amount of water circulation there will be areas in the aquarium where uneaten food, detritus etc will all build up. This waste then breaks down naturally and elevates various conditions within the aquarium which the filtration method of choice has to deal with.

Normally this is in areas like behind the rockwork, under the rockwork, between the rockwork or any other area of the aquarium which does not have enough water movement applied.

If you have opted to use live rock as your filtration medium then this build up of waste is also detrimental to the filtration capabilities of the rock itself. All of the tiny holes, nooks and crevices become jammed full of waste and the filtration is reduced.

Of course you can introduce a large amount of hermit crabs, snails, urchins etc to assist in the removal of this waste but isn’t it easier to stop it happening in the first place.

It is imperative that all rock structures be created open and enough water movement is applied over, through and around the rock work to prevent the above from occurring.

When we look at why we need good water movement there are times when this topic can become a bit technical and I apologise if this post has become that. There is one area which we need to look at to find out why it is required.

The ocean and the coral reef itself.

The ocean and the reef face has a huge amount of water movement, more and better than we can create in the aquarium (at the moment). There are devices which assist in the creation of almost natural water movement however at present I am of the opinion that there is simply nothing that can emulate the power of nature.

On the reef there are various areas of differing water movement. There is the reef face which is battered day in day out by water movement of tremendous force. There is the reef flat which whilst still strong water movement is nowhere like the reef face and there are the lagoons which are lower in water movement but still very strong. Of course there are many more areas of the reef which have differences in water movement, in fact every square foot of the reef is subjected to various and differing water patterns.

Whilst we can not emulate the power of the ocean we must try our best to copy it and implement a solution which is acceptable to the animals which we keep.

We must ensure that the animals receive the correct amount, frequency and strength of water movement as they would if they were in the wild. This is the same for many other things but the provision of two aspects are the most important - the correct lighting and the correct water circulation.

The next time you go to the ocean watch the sea. Even better if you go diving as you will be able to feel it. You will notice that the water circulation provided in the ocean is strong, varying and random. You will probably notice something else as well, the water movement is never forceful. By this I mean that whilst at times it may have the power to knock you off your feet it does not have the power to strip the skin from your legs.

All of the water movement is strong enough to move the water around, it is random so that not all of the waste goes the same way and it is a wide movement. Wide movement is probably a funny term to describe it but again this goes back to not being forceful. If you have hose pipe and turn in on then water will probably come out at a general speed, however if you stick your finger in the water jet will become narrower and therefore more forceful. This type of water movement could cause some damage albeit probably not from a hose pipe!

The implementation of good water movement however is sometimes hard to accomplish as each aquarium is different. There are various sizes and shapes of aquarium, all the aquascapes are different, the corals grow in different formations etc.


Visit the ‘Salt Water Aquarium’ website if you are interested in learning more about the saltwater aquarium hobby.


 
Good Starter Fish For The Saltwater Aquarium

Good Starter Fish For The Saltwater Aquarium

Once all the research, planning and waiting is complete and the aquarium is full of water and has finally finished cycling you will finally be ready to introduce your first fish.

It is important to ensure that you make the right choice though as there are some fish which are suitable to be added at this stage and there are fish which are not.

Do you know what you are looking for in the selection of your first fish?

Firstly and foremost the fish you choose must be relatively hardy. The reason for this is that the saltwater aquarium is new and the water will not be completely stable. Another reason is that as aquarists we all make mistakes at one time or another and with having a hardy fish they are more forgiving to these mistakes.

You will probably have an idea as to the type of fish you would like to keep in your aquarium therefore it is imperative that this fish you choose now will be compatible with future tank mates. If you added an aggressive fish for example at the start then whenever you decided to add a new fish there would be fighting in the aquarium. Not what you want at this stage really is it.

Which fish are good fish to start with?

Below is a list of what I believe to be good starter fish for a saltwater aquarium. They are all relatively hardy, peaceful and none of them have special feeding requirements.

  • Clownfish
  • Orchid Dottyback
  • Royal Gramma
  • Blenny
  • Chromis
  • Firefish

Lets have a look at each of these in a little more detail :

Clownfish

The clownfish to me is a fantastic little fish. The way it swims, the way it lives in corals etc and especially the colours - a great addition to any aquarium. They are also one of the most popular starter fish. They are quite hardy and are very well suited to captive life in an aquarium.

You can keep these singularly or you can keep them in pairs. When kept in pairs the most dominant fish sometimes will turn into a female and the two may even end up breeding.

There is a mis-belief that clown fish must be kept with an anemone. This simply is not the case. Clownfish will be more than happy in an aquarium without one. Anemones are quite hard to keep and at this stage of the aquariums life the aquarium is not yet ready for one, possibly neither are you.

There are various species of clownfish, however the best ones to start with are :

  • Common clown (Amphiprion ocellaris)
  • Black and white clown (Amphiprion ocellaris)
  • Percula clown (Amphiprion percula)

Clownfish can be purchased tank bred and if this is an available option it is recommended that you follow this option.

Orchid Dottyback

The orchid dottyback (Fridmani pseudochromis) is a relatively peaceful fish which grows to around 3-4 inches in length. The good thing about the orchid dottyback is that they can be purchased tank bred.

One thing to be noted is that you should not mix this fish with other fish of the same shape (ie the royal gramma below) or with other dottybacks.

Once the fish has become accustomed to life in your aquarium it will become quite bold and swim happily around the aquarium.

Royal Gramma

Royal grammas (Gramma Loreto) are a peaceful fish with the exception of their own kind and are very colourful fish with the colours changing from purple to yellow along the fish’s body.

There are other fish which can easily be confused with the Royal Gramma as they look very similar so ensure that it actually is a Royal Gramma prior to purchasing it.

Blenny

There are a couple of blennies which in my opinion make good additions to the aquarium as starter fish and there are the Midas Blenny (Ecsenius midas) and the Bicolour Blenny (Ecsenius bicolor).

These are both fantastic to watch. They both like to either rest on a ledge or find a hole and simply watch the world go by.

Chromis

Chromis (Chromis viridis) are great to add to an aquarium. They are relatively hardy and if you have a larger aquarium then you can add a small group. They normally come in two colours (blue and green).

One of the good things about chromis is that they do not grow to be that large. They normally do not grow larger than 2 inches in length.

Firefish

The normal firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica) and then purple firefish (Nemateleotris decora) are great starter fish to add to the aquarium. Both of these are very colourful fish which grow to a maximum size of about 4 inches.

The firefish has a large dorsal fin which it uses to lock itself into a hole in the rocks which is normally down at the bottom. This hole is where the fish retires to when the lights go out but it also uses it when it becomes startled. These fish are prone to jumping when startled therefore you need to take care to prevent this.

Unless you can locate an established pair I would recommend that these are kept singularly.


Visit the ‘Salt Water Aquarium’ website if you are interested in learning more about the saltwater aquarium hobby.



 
Converting A Freshwater Aquarium To A Saltwater Aquarium

Converting A Freshwater Aquarium To A Saltwater Aquarium

This is not an attempt to lay down railway lines for a converting aquarist to religiously follow, but hopefully a thought provoker that indicates some of what lies ahead.

Quite a number of freshwater aquarists are tempted to keep marines because they see a stunning aquarium somewhere, or they realize that keeping marines is not as difficult as they first thought, or they feel they have accumulated enough experience to make the change. Not all freshwater aquarists are the same of course. There are some really beautiful decorated freshwater aquariums about, and keeping one of these is as difficult as a reef aquarium.

Once the decision to change has been made, then the aquarist gets down to brass tacks. What next? What do I need? What can I use from the freshwater system?

The first owned item is, of course, the aquarium. The second the heater(s). The third, the canister filter.

The aquarium should be emptied and stripped. Once empty, it should be thoroughly rinsed in clean fresh water (tap water will do). Then it should be generally dried with clean cloths. There isn’t a need to use a sterilising agent as the aquarium is going to remain empty, dry and penetrated by air for a period, until the marine system is ready for assembly and use. If a sump has been in use this should receive the same treatment. If a sump has not been in use, then consideration should be given to having one. If it is decided to have one, have the aquarium drilled to receive the overflow plumbing.

The equipment needs to be obtained. A protein skimmer should be rated at around twice the net capacity of the aquarium system. The heaters are already available - if there is any doubt, or they have been in use for a long time, obtain new ones (two are best, rated at one half each of the required wattage). Circulation creation needs to be considered, by purchasing power heads, or an internal wave-maker, or both. A canister filter is already available, but it should be noted that this will be used for chemical and solids filtration only (bio-filtration is by other means).

Aquarium lighting needs some careful consideration. What does the aquarist intend to keep? It is likely that a fluorescent system is already owned, and this could be used on the marine system. However, the fluorescent tubes will need to be changed as the light spectrum will be incorrect. Actinic tubes combined with daylight types are required. Again, if the aquarist has a quite deep aquarium, and/or hard corals are to be kept, consideration should be given to metal halide lighting of the correct wattage and Kelvin rating.

It has already been stated that filtration will be other than a canister filter (it can be by canister filter(s) but these are not the modern recommended way). The filtration of choice is live rock. Live rock can be obtained as ’base’ which is cheaper, and ’premium’ or surface which costs more. The amount of rock is generally1½ lbs for each gallon in the system. The rock can deal with ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate (provided it is not abused, it has limits). Further enhancing filtration can be placed in the aquarium, such as a deep sand bed (DSB). This DSB can also be placed in the sump. A Plenum (a raised DSB) is another alternative, particularly in the sump. Algae (Caulerpa) filtration can also be put to use in the sump.

If a DSB is to be put in the sump, then decorative sand in a fairly thin layer can be placed in the aquarium.

If there is to be a high calcium demand (hard corals) consideration can be given to a calcium reactor. In the larger aquarium additives can prove expensive and impractical.

An automatic top-up system could be put to use, again a good addition to the larger system. A small aquarium can use these devices but they are more of a luxury.

Now what of the seawater. The first need is sufficient dry sea salt. The second, at least after the initial mix, is a saltwater safe container for routine water changes.

Actually considering fish and/or corals hasn’t been undertaken yet, apart from the lighting requirement for corals.

So the freshwater aquarist has some equipment. He/she also has the experience of keeping an aquarium, and has no doubt done research on it. On the change to saltwater it is evident that a lot more research is required, not because the saltwater hobby is particularly difficult, but because it is particularly different.

One thing the freshwater aquarist probably has is patience. This patience will prove to be of immense value.


Visit the ‘Salt Water Aquarium’ website if you are interested in learning more about the saltwater aquarium hobby.


 
5 Cardinal Sins Of A Marine Aquarist

5 Cardinal Sins Of A Marine Aquarist

I thought I’d jot down what I consider to be the five major sins of a marine aquarist, be that for a reef tank or a fish only tank. They are not in any particular order. The list is not just aimed at beginners to the hobby who are just starting a saltwater aquarium but at aquarists of any level.

Overfeeding

This is self explanatory, and is probably for the most part the domain of the new aquarist. Overfeeding occurs so easily, with those beautiful fish swimming close to the front glass ‘begging’ for food. Overfeeding can occur with the best of intentions, the aquarist being concerned that the fish (and whatever else) are sufficiently fed. Flake food (for example) is concentrated and rich, and pollutes the water very easily. That is the problem, pollution. Eventually, even with routine water changes, water quality reduces. Food is a major source of nitrate and phosphate, both of which are nutrients for nuisance algae.

The solution to overfeeding is simply don’t do it. Observe the livestock. Are they well fed? Remember, they will obtain some food from the reef/decorations. Discipline and observation are the essentials.

Failure to Test the Seawater

It is repeated over and over again by every authority that seawater quality is the number one on the aquarists list of ‘must haves’. The seawater in the aquarium is nearly everything to livestock, they are touching it constantly and rely on it for oxygen and other essentials. Food alone, no matter how high the quality, will not sustain them entirely. As soon as seawater is in the aquarium with livestock, it begins to deteriorate. The rate of deterioration can be slowed down by, in particular, the employment of a high quality protein skimmer. Other aids can be the reef itself (live rock), a deep sand bed, a calcium reactor (some of these inject more than calcium) etc. Nevertheless, seawater quality deterioration is there. The fish only aquarist can do fewer tests than the reef aquarist, but whatever the livestock, testing must be done. Once experience has been gained then testing frequency can be reduced. However, the aquarist must always be aware of the state of the seawater. We would not be happy walking around in and breathing polluted air.

Routine water changes should be completed, using reverse osmosis water for the mix. At the start, 10% (of the systems net gallonage) should be changed. Again, this can be reduced when experience is gained, either by lowering the percentage or increasing the period between changes, and also subject to a light or heavy bio-load. In some cases the percentage may need to be raised to maintain high quality seawater, but if this is the case an examination of filtration, feeding and stocking should be undertaken. Are the filters functioning correctly, and are they sufficiently sized? Is the system overstocked? Are the livestock being overfed?

Failure to Renew the Light Bulbs

By light bulbs I am referring to metal halide bulbs or fluorescent tubes. Lighting needs are more appropriate to the reef aquarist. Lighting is a close second to water quality. A large number of corals need lighting of the correct intensity and spectrum to flourish. Light bulbs reduce in efficiency as time passes. This efficiency loss is because of light intensity reduction and also spectrum shift. The aquarist pays quite an amount for bulbs, so they should at least perform as designed. Changing the bulbs at regular intervals achieves this. Fluorescent tubes should be changed at six months to one year. Halides should be changed at one year to two years. Look at what the manufacturer states, and pay heed to what other aquarists who use the same make and type of bulb say.

If light requiring corals are not flourishing, and seawater quality, including seawater movement, is known to be fault free, consider the lighting. Is there a problem? Do the bulb(s) need changing?

Incompatible Stocking

The aquarist may have very high seawater quality and lighting may be fault free, but some of the fish (for example) may be sickly, feeding poorly and obviously unhappy. When on the wild reef fish have few objectives in their lives, but the ones they do have are :

  1. to breed
  2. to avoid confrontation
  3. to find enough food
  4. to avoid becoming food

So if a small fish has gone missing, has a predator (example: a lionfish Pterois volitions) been introduced? Don’t smile, you’d be surprised at what is purchased sometimes on impulse. Is a fish showing ragged fins, poor colours, hovering in a corner, or hiding in rockwork, hardly coming out even to feed? Is it being harassed by bold and aggressive fishes? It is not only inter-fish problems that must be avoided. There are fish that would love to eat that shrimp. There are shrimps that would love to eat that starfish.

Research what is being put into the aquarium. Ensure full compatibility. It is cruel to fail to do this. Nowadays there are many quality books available, and the internet where information is freely available.

Overstocking

Large or small, every aquarium system has its limit in the amount of livestock that can be kept. Keeping too much livestock, in particular fish, increases the bio-load that has to be dealt with. The biological support of the aquarium will increase over time as the bio-load increases - up to a point. Then it is unable to deal with the wastes and disaster is just around the corner. The aquarium inhabitants face death by poisoning. The need for large seawater changes is going to increase. Even then, disaster is close. The aquarist has put all his/her efforts in jeopardy, including seawater quality and even all aquarium life.

Quite apart from the dangers of reduced seawater quality and failing biological support, there is the question of the space needs of the inhabitants themselves. Fish etc need to feel secure in order to prosper and be healthy, which means they need to be able to find a hide hole during the dark hours and in daylight hours have a hole to disappear into. If the aquarium is overstocked holes are going to be at a premium and aggression and fights could ensue. On the wild reef it is life to have a secure hole and the instinctive need does not disappear in an aquarium.

Many aquarists, particularly those with reef aquariums, don’t stock to the theoretical capacity. They under stock knowing that seawater quality will be better, and the corals and fish will be all the better for it. Avoid the temptation of ‘just one more fish’.


Visit the ‘Salt Water Aquarium’ website if you are interested in learning more about the saltwater aquarium hobby.


 
Underwater observatory at Busena Marine Park offers in-depth peek

The observatory itself is a tall, tube-like structure that rises about 40 feet out of the water and extends down to the ocean floor. It has a spiral staircase which allows visitors to descend below the ocean's surface where they can look at the underwater world with a 360-degree view of the ocean floor through the numerous windows that line the circular walls.

Pictures and descriptions of the various tropical fish that are indigenous to the area line the walls between the windows so visitors can try to name all the fish they see.

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Just when you thought it was safe

Fitzpatrick is also a qualified marine biologist who is doing post-graduate work in shark tracking through Queensland's James Cook University. In the three decades he has spent in the water, from the time he was a child growing up in Rockhampton to now, he has seen drastic and disturbing changes in marine life populations - from coral to tropical fish, sea urchins, turtles and predators such as sharks. And it is the dramatic drop in shark numbers that has Fitzpatrick particularly worried because of their key role in the marine ecosystem.

Shark tracking in the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea being undertaken by Fitzpatrick and his company, the Australasian Natural History Unit, combined with research by marine departments at James Cook University, Queensland, and data from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, has rung alarm bells and led to calls by conservation groups such as the World Wildlife Fund to actively protect shark species.

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