Fishkeeping

Fish tank

In September 2007 Lyndsay and I decided to get a fishtank and keep fish. We did some research and discovered there was a lot more to it than we initially thought. So armed with the new-found knowledge we invested in a 240Litre JEWEL RIO fishtank, which came complete with filter, lighting and a cabinet. To this we added aquarium sand and a lot of water. We cycled the water for approximately 8 weeks using the fishless cycle. Once we were happy that the filter was populated with the bacteria which could break down the Ammonia in the fish waste and the resulting Nitrite into the less toxic Nitrate we added eight Peppered Corydora Catfish.

Peppered Corydora

The corys settled in and would play all over the tank, swimming into the flow from the filter as if playing with it. We had read that angelfish could exist in a community tank if they are added at an early enough stage and are not kept with anything small enough for them to eat. With this in mind we added four Angelfish to our Corys in the tank and watched as they coexisted, mostly peacefully. With our regular trips to the aquarium shops we had grown interested in the curious little Plecostrumus (Plec(s), Pleco(s)) and discovered that the bristlenose species would suit a community tank of our size. We added Mickey, a female Bristlenose Plec to our tank and enjoyed watching her hoover the tanks glass and ornaments in search for algae.

Angelfish

Sadly the angelfish grew to be bullys and would often be found pestering Mickey or some of the corys. It was a difficult decision but we decided to take the angelfish to our local fish shop and let them find a new home. The angelfish displayed a lot of intelligence and character and would congregate in one corner of the tank where we usually put in their food, even taking it from our hands if we held the food beneath the waters surface. They also learnt to stop bullying the other fish if we told them off but unfortunely we couldn't always be around to keep an eye on them. Ideally the angelfish would have their own species tank or perhaps they needed more suitable tankmates which wouldn't be prone to their bullying tactics.

To our little community tank we added six Cherry Barbs and a Hockey Stick Pencilfish, both of which were midwater fish and so far all we had were bottom dwellers. The cherrys were fun to watch and we later brought their population up to 12. We also bought some more hockeystick pencilfish such that our one lonely pencilfish (Toby) would have some company but unfortunately they didn't survive past quarunteen as they had brought with them a bad case of whitespot (wasn't evident when we bought them though) and medication didn't seem to do much to help. Toby now seems convinced at times that he's a cherry and seems to get on well with them.

We introduced another bristlenose plec, which goes by the name Bruce, though at the time we thought he was a sailfin plec, capable of growing up to 14inches. He and Mickey coexisted in the tank with some tension, at times Bruce would chase Mickey from the food or from a prime resting spot but otherwise they seemed to be happy together.

We invested in an external Eheim filter and ran it in parallel with our internal Jewel eyesore filter. After four weeks we removed the internal filter and rearranged the tank, introducing a temporary box to house some plants rooted in gravel (as our substrate, sand, isn't as suitable for planting in due to the possibility of anerobic spots). I constructed the temporary box from clear perspex and aquarium (silicone) sealant. The sealant wasn't strong enough to bond the perspex (it's made for bonding glass-to-glass) so I reinforced the edges by stitching them together with fishing line and topping it off with a bead of sealant.

The potted plants were a hit with our little fishes and the cherrys had somewhere to hide, the plecs had something to clean or rest on and the corys had a box to get confused and trapped in (perhaps clear perspex wasn't the best choice).

A further 6 cherrys brought their numbers up to 18 and we added some aquatic frogs. The frogs found it difficult to feed when we introduced them into the main tank so we returned them to the Q tank where we tried cultivating breen shrimp for their meals (unsucessfully). All but one frog, affectionately known as Gollum, passed away and we later managed to wean Gollum onto a wider variety of foods and reintroduced him to the main tank where he got on well with the other occupants despite several accidental fin nipping. Gollum would follow me up and down the length of the tank, which proved useful for directing him towards the food at feeding time.

At some stage in the above we added some Ottocynclus however they were superb at hiding and we hardly saw them. We also added an Apple Snail, later named Crunch, which brings us to the next topic...

Babies

Approximately a month after introducing Crunch the Apple Snail to our tank we found her laying nests of eggs above the water line. We removed all but one of these nests and we later watched as what seemed like hundreds of tiny apple snails descended down the glass into the tank. We removed a number of these snails to keep the population reasonable and watched them grow. Crunch surpised us again by laying another nest some months later which we didn't spot until we noticed the pitter-patter of tiny snails on glass (she tucked it on the underside of the lamp where we would never have seen it during feeding or water changes.

cory fry a week or two after hatching
Cory fry a week or two after hatching

We were also blessed with cory eggs as one of our peppered corys laid a large number around the tank. Lyndsay did a good job of collecting a number into a breeding net and when they hatched into cory fry she kept them fed on fry food. We lost a fair number of the cory fry but the few that were left found a home in the Q tank when the breeding net was too small to house them. They were later reintroduced to the main tank before we passed them on to another fishkeeper, having decided that the tank bottom was a little too crowded for all these catfish.

cory fry when introduced to the tank
Cory fry when introduced to the tank

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