Gourami Fries!

Since we introduced our three Gouramis (see Gouramis are back), they appeared to be busy mating, with the aggressive male Gourami chasing after the two females.

Things got worse this evening when we observed the tank, where the bubblenest had been destroyed and the male Gourami turned even more aggressive, chasing any of the fishes in the tank. Most likely, it was his aggressive behaviour that destroyed his own nest.

Unable to bear seeing the fishes suffering and hiding in corners of the tank, I netted the male Gourami and kept the net floating in the tank, so that he was separated from the rest of the inhabitants. He continued to be aggressive and attempted to break out of the net by dashing and poking at it.

Meanwhile, I noticed the two female Gouramis started coming up to him, trying to get close to him and looking concern about his plight. It was quite an amazing sight as the females did not seem to blame him for his aggressive behaviour towards them.

After a while though, one of the female Gouramis started moving towards the bubblenest (broken but still where most of the plant materials were at) and appeared to be hunting for ‘food’. Having some experience from our previous Gouramis, I quickly suspected the presence of Gourami fries, thus explaining the behaviours of these fishes.

Indeed, after quite a while of scanning the water surface, I managed to discover one tiny fry hiding beside some leaves. Understanding now why the male Gourami was so aggressive (to protect his offsprings), I let him out of the net, while preparing a small tank to transfer these fries over, so that they will not be eaten up.

After half-filling the small tank with water from the main Planted Tank, I used a small bowl to scoop up the nest and the water surrounding it. Since the bowl has a white base, it made it easier for us to determine if we have successfully scooped up any fry, since they are so small that it’s hardly noticeable to our naked eyes.

We continued scooping up the waters until we were satisfied that almost all of the fries have been rescued. There were probably about a dozen of them. The vegetation used for the bubblenest was also transferred over to the fry tank as a shelter.

The next thing we needed to do was to provide the fries with a source of food, since they are so tiny that normal food pellets can no longer apply to them. According to what I’ve read, only Infusoria could be small enough to fit into their mouths.

Simply said, Infusoria is a collective term for minute aquatic creatures like ciliate, euglena, paramecium, protozoa and unicellular algae that exist in freshwater pond water.

Upon seeing the Gourami building the nest, I read up on how to cultivate infusoria in case the eggs are fertilised and hatched, and started preparing:

I took a small countainer (the bigger the mouth, the better as better air circulation enhances infusoria growth) and filled it with the tank water. Then I took some pieces of leftover vegetables and two slices of cooked potatos in it, and left it near a window.

According to the article, the water will turn cloudly in a few days, signifying that the bacteria that infusoria feeds on is present. We are supposed to wait a while more till the clouding of the water diminishes, which would mean that the infusoria has consumed the bacteria and started to grow.

Though the current water is still cloudly, I have no choice but to put a spoonful into the fry tank in case they get starved.

Meanwhile, we will continue to monitor the fries and the cultivating container.

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Farewell, Fiesty

Yes, Fiesty, one of the largest and oldest occupant in our tank, has breathed his last this afternoon at slightly before 4pm.

After transferring to the hospital tank, he began to show signs of inactivity, lying low at the bottom of the tank.

It has only after some time later when I realised that he started to swim weirdly, unable to balance himself. These were signs of damage to his swimming bladder, and Cat and I knew he might have already crossed the point of no return at this stage.

Besides his bloated stomach, his scales at that region were also pointing out, clear signs of Dropsy, a disease that was difficult to cure.

On the other hand, Nemo appeared better and we decided to shift her back to the Main Tank quickly, before she gets infected (I can’t recall if Dropsy is infectious) or demoralised seeing the death of her mate.

Indeed, Fiesty was struggling to keep afloat after a while later, and gradually sank to the bottom of the tank after futile tries of keeping his balance. It was a pain to see him suffering and swimming closer to the end of his life. I have turned off the filter too in case the water current generated was too strong for him, but that did not help much to improve his condition.

Worried that the water conditions with the medication were too much for him, I quickly scooped up water from the Main Tank using a new container and quickly transferred him there, hoping that it was the water that was aggrevating his condition.

However as the clock ticked to four, he ended his struggle, and breathed his last.

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He will be dearly missed, since he had been with us for more than six months. Ever since his partner Guai Guai had left due to injuries (see R.I.P Guai Guai), Fiesty had been actively preparing for his offsprings as he diligently built bubblenests to store the eggs laid by Nemo during their countless mating sessions. That was despite the repeated times that his nests were disturbed during my weekly water change and plant pruning sessions.

Though we managed to locate and transfer a few of his fries to another tank (see More Fry Surprises!), we did not manage to keep them alive, and all of them were dead/disappeared after less than a week.

Fiesty has been a little on the aggressive since he arrived, and at some point of time he even defended his terroritory with great aggression while he warded off the other fishes which tried to even get close to his nests. But we later understood that he was merely performing his job to protect his offsprings and playing his role as a father.

He had been one of the main focus of the Main Tank, especially after Garra had departed (see Rest in Peace, Zarra), so now the tank looks empty and lack of activity after the big guy left, leaving the poor Nemo all alone.

Nemo has been acting quite franatic over the past few hours, seemingly searching high and low for her mate. She seemed to know that he is no longer present, especially after being with him during his final hour. It is always sad to lose one’s mate, and this is no exception for the fishes. We have been the Corydoras behaving the same way when their mate/buddy passed away.

We hope to introduce a new male Gourami to keep Nemo company, but that will be after we are assured Nemo is well and ready to accept a new mate. Right now, her stomach is still bloated and we will observe for a while more before deciding if we are to perform medication for her, which may aggrevate her health, ironically.

On a lighter note, just minutes after Fiesty’s death, we noticed new fishes in the Main Tank — Fei Fei our female guppy had started giving birth to new fries again. We caught eye of four to five dark-coloured fries as we were scanning through the tank for abnormality.

Life and Death… The line seems so thin between them, and the cycle seems to be so nicely intertwained in nature.

More Fry Surprises!

Pretty has been acting strange over the past few days, bearing a huge stomach and hiding in one corner. Having seen through several guppy deliveries, I knew it was a sign that she will be giving birth soon (again) for the third time.

Fei Fei had beaten her to delivery two days back, with around a dozen of her offsprings making it to the safe haven in the Guppy Tank. The rest was either non-existent or could have been eaten up by the other fishes.

Pretty’s delivery started at around 7pm+ tonight, when I noticed a few fries hiding amidst the plants. It was easy to distinguish between the newborn fries and the existing Four Musketeers due to their difference in physical size.

270607_fiestybubblenest.jpgMeanwhile, Fiesty has been acting very aggressive tonight, chasing after any fish who comes close to his nest. Even the innocent-looking musketeers were not spare the chase. It has come to a point such that we start to think if he has been overdoing it when it comes to protecting his bubblenest; looks like Nemo has probably dropped some more eggs in it.

After Pretty dropped the initial few fries, she appeared to have stopped dropping, but still staying in one corner near the surface. Only after a while that she started to swim towards a densely planted area in the central area, seemingly attempting to drop some more fries. However, before she can settled herself sitting on the plants in preparation of her delivery, the aggressive Fiesty immediately noticed her presence and dashed towards her, shocking her and chasing her away.

This repeated several times until the point that it became unbearable to us, seeing that poor Pretty is being badly stressed whilst in the midst of delivery. I’ve read that stress in pregnant guppies could be fatal, so I decided to remove Fiesty temporarily until Pretty is done with her delivery.

I netted Fiesty up, along with some floating plants into a yellow container, and placed it on top of the Main Tank. Fiesty looked a little angry for making him leave his nest, but stayed quite motionless in the small container.

Back in the Main Tank, Pretty finally got some peace in her delivery, as she made her way to another planted region in the tank, dropping few more fries. Just as we thought she would be able to get through the entire process uninterrupted, Nemo seemed to have noticed the existence of new fries (aka food?) and swam straight at her, chasing after the newborn fries.

This of course interrupted Pretty and she had no choice but to search for another safe spot. She then proceeded back to the central region, sat nicely on top of the plant, and tried to continue her delivery. It wasn’t easy at first, seeing that she was trying hard to push her fries out but with no avail. It was only after a while that she managed to drop a few more fries while she bent her body.

While Pretty was at it, I decided to check out Fiesty’s condition in the yellow container, so I looked over the Main Tank into the container. Fiesty looked fine as he remained quietly in it. I would have expected him to swim around aggressively in anger.

Just when I was about to turn my attention back to Pretty, something tiny caught my eye near the floating plants in the yellow container. Upon a much closer observation, I noticed it was a very tiny fry! I quickly called for Cat to come over to take a look and she was equally surprised!

We were wondering what it was, whether it was a premature guppy fry, or a gourami fry. I have read previously that the gourami fries are very tiny, but I have never expected them to be SO tiny! It was basically 1/10th the size of a newborn guppy! Check out the photo we have taken below, with Fiesty included in the picture to illustrate the size of his fry. Click on the photo for the enlarged version.

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Fiesty appeared to have noticed his fry in the container too, but did not attempt to eat it. Only till then did we realise that the reason why Fiesty was behaving so aggressively was to protect his small little fries. We have wronged him on his behaviour, though his defensiveness was a bit too much still.

Not wanting his fries to be eaten up by the fishes in the Main Tank (even the four musketeers could eat up the gourami fries given their sizes), we quickly placed Fiesty back into the Main Tank. He appeared confused at first when he was back, seemingly forgotten what his original task was. After spotting Nemo loitering near his bubblenest, Fiesty’s instincts struck him and he immediately went back to his Guardian Mode. 🙂

Meanwhile, I have set up a small tank, originally housing the smaller batch of guppy fries before they were shifted to the Guppy Tank. Using a scoop, I took some water from the Main Tank to be placed into the small tank, only to realise that a Gourami fry was scooped up too! They were so small that they could easily be missed!

I then fished out the other gourami fry from the yellow container and joined him with his sibling in the small tank. I then peered over the surface of the Main Tank, and managed to notice another two gourami fry near the surface! I quickly scooped them up and placed them in the small tank too. So in all, we have four gourami fries in isolation now.

We tried to look for more gourami fries in the Main Tank but could not find any more; probably they were safe with their father at the bubblenest. We decided not to disturb Fiesty and let his fatherly instincts take over. Meanwhile, we will continue to observe the four gourami fries and hope that they will grow well. It is quite understandable why they are so small in size compared to the guppy fries, since the latter is a livebearer, and has lived in their mum’s body before coming to this world. On the other hand, the gourami fries were hatched from the eggs after a mere two days after Nemo dropped them.

As for the Guppy Tank, the fries are looking fine, though I have noticed a small number of them having some deformations, such as unusual body shapes such as a deformed head, or a bloated stomach. Despite their disabilities, they will continue to be protected from the harsh environment in the Main Tank and given the opportunities to grow up healthily. Hope they will turn out fine as they grow older.

Back to Pretty, she has finished giving birth and is hungrily searching for food to ease her appetite. She sure looks a lot slimmer after her delivery!

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4th Guppy Squadrant Reporting!

250607_feifeifries.jpgOur fourth batch of guppy fries came into this world yesterday, in a most silent and unnoticed way. Cat and I arrived home late after a movie, and after having sat in front of the Main Tank for some time, I was surprised to catch sight of several small, black guppy fries swimming timidly at the rear of the tank, just beside the plantations.

Most of them were staying close to each other as a group, banking on their instincts to survive in a seemingly alient environment populated by gigantic (i.e. relative to them) fishes. Judging from their physical appearances (i.e. colour), we immediately knew they were the offsprings of Fei Fei, who belongs to the Cobra skin genes. Fei Fei has also indeed slimmed down quite a bit after her delivery.

Both Fei Fei and Pretty have been behaving strangely with huge bellies, so on the other hand, this did not come as a complete surprise. As for the other fishes, having lived together with the guppy fries of Pretty, seemed to grow oblivious to the addition of these fresh fries (aka food in their eyes?). Still, we wouldn’t know if some of the poor souls have already been devoured by the fishes, since we only found a total of 18 fries by the time we spotted them. Fiesty, the largest fish in the tank, seemed to be uninterested in them as he continued his continuous effort in building up his bubblenest.

I have intended to leave them in the Main Tank, since there does not seem to have any immediate danger, given that the previous batch of fries (5 minus 1) has managed to grow up peacefully.

However, Cat pointed out that with the other fishes fighting for food, these newly born fries might not be able to get adequate nutrients in the Main Tank. Therefore, we decided to move them over to the Guppy Tank, where the rest of their silbings and friends are.

Till now, I have only succssfully moved 17 of these fries over, since the last fry has been acting very tactical, making good use of the plants to avoid my ‘capture’. Not wanting to create too big a mess in the Main Tank, I will try again tonight to migrate the last remaining hero.

250607_guppytanksponge.jpgAlso, because of the addition of these tiny fries, I had to wrap a wool-like sponge around the inlet of the filter, as the holes of the filter might be large enough to swallow up the poor, unsuspecting newly born fries. I will remove the sponge after they have grown up to a larger size.

Meanwhile, everything is looking great in the Guppy Tank; they will swim in a orchestric manner, responding to any movements outside the tank. I felt like a conductor sometimes, where a wave of my hands will create in a picturesque scene of the guppy fries swimming in the same directions.

From far, they look like stars in the sky, with the blue wallpaper as the backdrop, and the bright florescene lights shining down upon them. It is really one beautiful sight, and it is always an enjoyable sight to watch after a long day’s work.

As much as I wish them to grow up healthily, sometimes I would wish they would remain as small for a longer period of time, all thanks to their cuteness and predictability. 🙂

tank of guppy fries

The Three Musketeers

After rescuing the 15 fries laid by ‘Pretty’, I have stopped further netting of new fries into the Big Fry Tank as a result of overcrowding and overpopulation.

020607_musketeers1.jpgWhen I look back into the main aquarium, I could spot only 3 fries in the tank, all swimming slowly near the surface, amongst the thick bushes of plants. Fishes are still lurking around the region, possibly looking for more ‘food’. Out of which, the Gouramis appear to be the No. 1 predators, with their large sizes (therefore also larger mouths and appetites) and swift movements.

I continued to observe the 3 surviving fries, whom Cat and I have called ‘The Three Musketeers’.

Even though we did not intend to bring them to the Large Fry Tank, we still hope for their safety. Quite a dilemma isn’t it?

That’s why when we look back the tank some hours later, we are glad that The Three Musketeers are still well and alive. Amazingly, even though ‘Fiesty’ is always swiming in the vicinity, and even spotting them on several occassions, he did not proceed to eat them up or anything.

Instead, when other fishes (especially ‘Nemo’) swam close by when the fries were, ‘Fiesty’ will charge at them to chase them away.

I believe this behaviour may be explained by his instincts of protecting his bubblenest (which is close to where the fries are swimming at), and his fatherly instincts of protecting his ‘babies’ as he is building up and protecting his bubblenest. An alternative explanation would be that he has already tasted guppy fries earlier and didn’t find them appetizing…?

Anyway, we hope The Three Musketeers will continue to exhibit their survival instincts and survive on in the main aquarium. This is how they should be in their natural habitat anyway.

Guppies – Baby Making Machines?

020607_prettys2nddelivery.jpg‘Pretty’ gave birth — again! It was merely 24 days since she last gave birth, and now she’s dropping more fries again.

I have noticed her behaving weirdly last night, hiding by the plants or near the corner of the main aquarium. However, despite knowing her approaching delivery, I have decided against moving her to a separate tank.

By last count, we already have a total of 81 fries in all, and there would be no way we could be able to accomodate more fries anymore. This will becoming a never-ending cycle if we keep rescuing guppy fries from the ultra-fertile guppies…

So I had no choice but to resort to the cruel, yet somehow natural way of letting ‘Pretty’ give birth in the main aquarium, and letting the fries survive on their instincts, hiding amongst the thick bushes of plants or other hiding places.

It was early this morning at around 9am when I noticed some fries swimming in the main tank. Having already decided previously to leave them alone, I couldn’t help but felt a little guilty for putting them at high risks, since we do have a lot of bigger, hungry (fishes are always hungry) fishes in there. Most likely they will not be able to survive long.

After some time, I finally decided that I could not just turn a blind eye towards ‘Pretty’s second drops, so came to a decision that I will only rescue a few of the fries, since they might belong to a different father, and thus could grow up to look differently from the first batch.

So I started my rescue mission and netted up 15 fries to place them together with their elder siblings, i.e. the Large Fry Tank. That sort of cleared up my guilt partially too.

020607_largefrytank.jpgSo in all, we have now:

42 fries from ‘Pretty’s first delivery

15 fries from ‘Pretty’s second delivery

39 fries from ‘Fei Fei’s first delivery

Well, I’m beginning to wonder what I would have to do when they all grow up…

Delivery After-Thoughts

‘Fei Fei’ has stopped dropping fries, and is currently resting in the small tank. I decided not to move her back to the main aquarium until tomorrow as her rest would be interrupted by the male guppies there.

So far, she doesn’t really eat much but guess she is probably just too tired. She has also slimmed down quite a bit now. Hope she will recover back her normal active self soon.

310507_handicappedfry.jpgAfter moving all the 39 new fries into the Small Fry Tank, I observed that one of the fries is different from the others. He is very active in the tank, always swimming to be near the surface. However, what made him stood out from the others is his swimming posture — he appears to be struggling to stay afloat in the water, with his body tilted downwards (tail at the bottom, head on top).

I suspect he was born with some handicap in his swimming bladder, thus preventing himself from swimming normal like his other siblings. I am saddened by his plight, but it seems that he has not given up on himself. He is constantly staying afloat, instead of just resting at the bottom.

I truly admire his attitude in living (‘Never Give Up!’) and has named him as ‘Hero’. Although I do not know whether he will be able to survive beyond even tonight, I will always remember him.

As for now, I pray that he will live well and survive past his handicap into adult-hood!

At the big fries tank: A closer look at guppy fries,

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