First Attempt with Cichlids

Over the weekend, I bought 9 cichlids from QianHu to replace the goldfishes we had lost. Judging from their appearances, they should belong to the Mbuna Cichlids species, residing in Lake Malawi, Africa.

After some research, the species that I have now are Auratus (Melanochromis auratus), Electric Yellow Labido (Labidochromis caeruleus), but the plain white cichlids are still unidentifiable.

Even though mine is a 2ft tank, I decided to overstock the tank a little to spread out any possible aggression. Also, since their natural habitat is rocky with little plants, I try to setup a rockscape similar to it.

Went down to Aquastar this evening to buy some rocks. In the end I only bought two rocks, with the rest picked up from the roadside, which looked safe enough to be used:

I then scrubbed and washed them before putting them in piece by piece, trying to create as many hiding places as possible while making them look natural.

The plants were already in the tank prior to the cichlids, so I decided to include them in to provide some shade and greenery. Although the fishes are plant eaters in nature, so far they haven’t been eating off any of the leaves.

So far here’s the simple rockscape created for them. Looking forward to some algae growing on the rocks so they will look more natural, and the fishes can graze them for food.

Goldfish Wipeout

Sad to say, all of our three goldfishes rested in peace just few days back, starting from the two newcomers followed by our resident Xiao Wu.

Apparently, one of the newcomers was infected with some fungus infection and passed it on to the others. All died with white spots all over their bodies.

Feeling guilty for Xiao Wu for not quarantining the two goldfishes first and indirectly caused his death. Hope he is now resting in peace with his previous fellow goldfishes.

Following that, I did a 100% water change and cleaned the filter, hopefully clearing up all traces of any undesired bacteria/virus/fungus in the tank.

After filling up the tank with new de-chlorinated water, the tank is ready to accept its new occupants.

Blood Streaks on Goldfish’s Tail?

Last night, I started noticing that there were blood-red streaks on the tail of our Oranda goldfish ‘Xiao Wu’:

I can’t help but wonder if it’s some kind of disease or injury…

Revamping for the Chinese New Year!

Wow how time flies! So it has been more than a year since I last updated on this blog? I must have been very laid back with my aquarium hobby over the past year… ^^|

True enough, our planted and goldfish tanks have been victims of my negligence for the longest period you can imagine. The CO2 tank had gone dry for more than a month, plants had been dying off and water change had been few and far between. Miraculously though, there was hardly any algae in the main planted tank despite the lack of maintenance; looks like our hungry Otto and SAEs were doing their jobs well cleaning the tank.

As for the goldfish tank, only the Oranda ‘Xiao Wu’ remained, who had been lonely and sulky since his companions died. The tank was also infested with algae.

As guilty as I was over the sorry state of the tanks, I was too preoccupied with the other commitments in life and had left the tanks, fishes and plants alone to fend for themselves. The only routine that I’ve ensured was to feed them once every night before I went for bed.

It was only over the last weekend that my wife Cat highlighted about the bad conditions of the tanks that prompted me to take some action. As Chinese New Year was nearing, she felt that I should do something with the tanks so as to bring in a fresh, renewed look to our home. Also, it would be inauspicious if we were to welcome the new year with these dirty tanks.

With all these as my motivational forces, I was determined to do something to the poor fishes which I am still very much responsible for.

On Tuesday, I started off by scrapping off the algae on the walls of the goldfish tank, followed by water change and cleaning the OHF (overhead filter). Following that, I turned my attention to the planted tank, siphoning the water (hardly any algae present to be scrapped off) and trimming away the rotten leaves of our Echinodorus Amazonicus (Amazon Sword) plants.

The next big task was to clean the external cannister filter for the tank. The last time I cleaned it, it was a year ago so it wasn’t difficult to imagine how dirty the filter had become. The water flow had been reduced to a weak flow of water due to this lack of maintenance and was affecting the ventilation of the tank. Surprisingly though, almost all the fishes in the tank were still okay despite all these; guess the tank itself had become quite self-sustainable biologically since it had been running for a while already.

It sure felt great after the cannister filter had been cleaned thoroughly, transforming it from a horrendous lump of dirt into one that was spanking clean. Of course the water from tank were used to clean the filter, so that none of the beneficial bacteria on the filter media would be killed by the chlorine if water straight from the tap was used.

By then, around 2 hours had passed since I started the cleaning process. I still had a task to settle before I were to call it a day — to fix the lightings. For the goldfish tank, one out of the two tubes was working, while only one out of the four tubes was still working for the main tank. Furthermore, the transparent protector for the light tubes of the main tank had turned yellowish, resulting in the tank looking dim, dull and yellowish.

After identifying the specifications of the florescence tubes and the amount I needed to replace, I made a note for my shopping trip at the LFS (local fish shop) the following day, and called it a night. Phew! It was already close to 1am then, and I still had to work the next day.

On Wednesday after work, I headed to the LFS in the adjacent neighbourhood, bringing along my empty CO2 tank for refill. It had been quite a long while since my last visit to the place.

Besides requesting to top up the CO2 tank (which would take two days) and getting the required florescence tubes, I also went on to pick up some fishes to add into our tanks. 6 male and 3 female guppies and 2 lionhead goldfishes were bought, together with some plants. I had also bought some fresh packets of fish food.

With that, I headed home and placed the plastic bags of fishes into their respective tanks, after switching off the lights of the tanks. This was to minimise any shock the new fishes might suffer while they were introduced to their new environments.

After about 30 minutes later when the temperatures between the waters in the plastic bags and tanks had been more or less balanced off, I released the fishes into the tanks, with the lights still switched off.

After our son had slept later that night, I started off with the tank revamp, which included cleaning of the plants and replacing the new light tubes for the tanks. I then planted the plants into the tanks.

These took some time but after seeing how much different the tanks looked after the revamp (too bad I didn’t take any of the ‘before’ photos), I felt a sense of satisfaction and revival of the hobby I once enjoyed so much. ^^

Planted Tank after Revamp

Goldfish Tank after Revamp

And so here are our current setups after the cleaning up. Hopefully I will be able to honour my responsibility to continue caring and maintaining the fishes and plants for the aquariums in the years to come.

Re-Arranging of Planted Tank’s Layout

This mini revamp might have been overdue for over four months, considering that I didn’t have time or motivation to do much with our aquarium since the arrival of our son Darius (see our Baby of Love blog for more information), except the routine feeding and water change regimes (even the frequency of water change has been reduced).

It was after borrowing several aquarium-related books from the community library recently that got my hyped up about my aquarium hobby again.

Besides getting a Betta to add to our community tank, I would also like to make some re-arrangements to the layout of our main planted tank, since it’s getting a little boring looking at the same layout day in day out.

I sketched a simple layout on how the new layout should look like, noting that some of the bigger plants in the tank should not be moved, since they already had their roots well established at their current locations. Instead, I would focus on shifting the two pieces of existing driftwoods and some smaller plants, while addding on another few pieces of driftwoods to form a hill-like structure on the left portion of the tank.

Some stones would also be added to cover part of the substrate, so the bottom won’t look so dull with its whitish substrate. Previously, I have tried to plant some carpet plants (HC, glosso, hairgrass etc) but none was successful, so the easier alternative will be to place some stones instead.

Knowing what were the items I needed to get, I proceeded down to the LFS in Yishun.

I rummaged through the pile of driftwoods on sale, which were priced according to their weight and size. I finally decided on two long pieces which could be placed side by side vertically to form a hill-like structure. I also purchased a bag of brownish stones and two plants. Our Betta was also bought there.

Bringing all these things home, I started to wash the driftwood thoroughly before placing them as how I’ve sketched out. Though the outcome was not exactly how I had thought it would turn out, I was still quite satisfied with the outlook. Since I didn’t have enough driftwood to fill up the entire 3-feet tank, I filled up the bare portion on the right with plants and stones.

A few days later, I bought some Riccia and HC (not giving up yet!) to add on to our layout and hopefully these will survive well and help beautify the tank. Two new T5 florescene light tubes were also added to replace the two spoilt tubes (they probably have failed quite a while but I didn’t notice).

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"Hill View"

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"Garden View"

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Hemianthus Callitrichoides aka HC

The fishes appear to be liking the new layout too, as they have become more lively and are often seen swimming in the ‘garden’ region. I didn’t expect them to like stones that much.

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Planted Tank Overview

Betta as a Community Fish

Betta splendens, also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, are often kept in solitary due to their aggressive nature against other males of their species, and they will fight only till one is dead.

However, not many might have known that Bettas can be kept as a community fish too, and I was one of those ignorant ones, until I came across two books that mentioned about keeping them in a community tank.

Their nature is surprisingly, quite timid and shy when alone, and tend to swim around slowly and gracefully. With this character and their fanciful fins, it makes them an easy target from other fin-nipping inhabitants. So in the end, it may not be the Bettas bullying the other community fishes, but the other way round.

There is not really any fin-nipping fish in our main planted tank, maybe with the exception of our Dwarf Chain Loaches and Siamese Algae Eaters, but even their fin-nipping behaviours are rare. Confident that a Betta will find a comfortable home here, I made up my mind to add one into our community.

Travelling down to a LFS in Yishun, one betta with blue body and red fins caught my eyes and I promptly bought it at S$7.00. I didn’t really know about the market price, but thought it didn’t really matter since we will only be getting one Betta afterall.

Bringing him home and putting him into our planted tank, he acted very timid and shy indeed at first, always hiding in the corners at the back. We thought this was his characteristic so didn’t expect anything more than that. Despite it hiding in the back, it was always a beautiful sight to spot him swimming gracefully with his beautiful fins. My wife Catherine named him ‘Moody’ after seeing him always lurking behind in the corners, seemingly sulking. ^^|

I had bought a small bottle of Betta food, and started to feed him by pouring a few bits of food on my palm before dropping a few pieces down in front of him with the other hand each time. Surprisingly, he did not feel threatened by my approaching fingers and remained at where he was.

When the food was dropped in front of him, he observed them a bit before swallowing them up, one piece at a time. He does not eat as quickly as the other fishes in the tank, as he will always leave a short time interval of about one second before he will eat the next food piece.

On the second and third days, he slowly gained confidence of the security of his new surroundings, and started swimming around more, exploring the tank. He will even mingle with the other fishes during meal times, as they swim around peacefully:

Since Moody has only been here for a few days, it’s still too early to tell if this peacefulness will last, but I’m quite confident it will.

In my opinion, Bettas shouldn’t be kept in small containers such as jars, since they should be given the rights like all other fishes to live in a comfortable, bearable place. They should at least be kept in a slightly bigger container such as a small tank, equipped with proper filtration or at least regular water change. It pains me to see them celled up in small plastic bags or jars in the LFSes.

Anyway, Moody is really interesting to watch, especially after our new layout, with a small hill formed at the rear left of the tank made up of two big pieces of driftwood, which he has made it his home by hanging out there most of the time.

Resilient Rasbora

There are only three Rasbora left, from our initial population of six early last year. The three died of illness.

Now one of the Rasbora appears to be having some problems too, where he has been struggling to stay afloat since 2 weeks back.

Despite his difficulty in swimming, he has not given up hope and was constantly flipping his fins to stay at afloat.