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.


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.

Gouramis are back

We had several Gouramis with us since the start of our hobby, but unfortunately they did not last very long. For our Orange Gourami Guai Guai, he died soon after being trapped in one of our ornaments (see R.I.P Guai Guai and Fish Rescue…). As for our other Gourami Fiesty, he died soon after too)(see Farewell, Fiesty).

Gouramis are known to be vulnerable to infections so we have been wary to introduce new Gouramis into our tank. Still, seeing that our tank were pretty empty after the guppy’s epidemic (see Guppies’ Epidemic), we decided to put our experience with Gouramis in good use and believe that they would be able to make it through this time round.

So while we were shopping for Goldfishes at Qian Hu (see A New Beginning…), we had also bought three Gouramis, one male and two females. This is because male Gouramis are territorial in nature and so it is advisable to get only one male in one tank. As for why two females are preferred, this is because the male Gouramis are often aggressive when mating season comes, and at least the females can share the ‘burden’.

After we placed the three Gouramis into our main Planted Tank, the male Gourami soon started building a bubblenest, probably due to the suitable environment we had provided him, such a abundance shading and plants, and the presence of female Gouramis, while him being the only male.

He soon started his aggressive behaviour and chased after the female Gouramis, wanting them to mate with him below the bubblenest so that eggs could be deposited into the nest. However, he hasn’t been successful yet in our opinion, as we have yet seen the mating dance itself, where the male will curl up around the female.

One of the two female Gouramis:

Our observation continues while he continuously reinforcing the nest and protecting it.

A New Beginning…

Following the migration of the remaining guppies in the original 2-feet Guppy Tank (see Future of the Guppy Tank), we have planned a new beginning for the tank — by introducing Goldfishes into it.

The initial interest in Goldfish started out from Cat, where we bought a nano tank to house two young goldfishes, named Zhu Zhu and Hua Hua (see New GoldFishes).

As for me, I was not interested in goldfishes initially but after walking through the goldfish tanks/containers in Qian Hu (a huge and famous fish farm locally), I was beginning to be mesmerized by their beauty.

And so given the opportunity that we had an empty tank, and a rather big tank (2-feet), the idea of getting more goldfishes (and bigger ones) came to our minds.

And so early yesterday morning, we drove down to Qian Hu and began our Goldfish shopping. There were bigger, better quality Ranchu at S$30 each, and smaller ones at S$12. After considering quite a while, we decided to just get the S$12 ones and witness them grow bigger. We got two Ranchus (Cat’s favourite).

As for me, I’m more interested in goldfishes with long, flowing tails and so the Orandas (a cross between the lionhead and veiltail to produce a fish showing the body features of the veiltail with the characteristic hood of the lionhead) caught my eyes immediately. We bought two Orandas at S$5 each (cheaper than the Ranchus).

We also bought three Gouramis for the main Planted Tank.

As we needed to rush off after we reached home, we only placed their plastic bags floating on the tanks (to adjust to the right water temperature for the fishes) for a while before opening the bags and netting them into their respective tanks.

When we reached home in the evening, we turned on the lights and one of the Ranchus was shocked and quickly hid underneath one of the bridge ornaments, refusing to come out despite us dropping some food pellets in front of him.

Fortunately, after we left them alone for a while, they gradually became braver and started to swim around the tank leisurely. That was when we managed to see them displaying their torso and fins:

The Ranchus:

The Orandas:

Check out their individual photos at our Current Fishes page.

Arrival of new SAE

The black brush algae in our Guppy Tank is growing profusely and with no one eating them, it will just be in a matter of time that they will overtake the tank:

That was why we decided to buy a SAE (Siamese Algae Eater) on 2nd May 08 for the Guppy Tank, as the one in our main Planted Tank has proven to be very effective in cleaning up the black algae.

The new SAE in his first few moments after entering the Guppy Tank:

By the next day, the SAE was already diligently combing out the black algae on the plants and ornaments:

By a week later, the tank was almost rid of its black algae:

The Female Duo

After Pretty Jr’s death (see Death of Pretty Jr), Pretty became the only female guppy to be left in the Main Planted Tank, accompanied by five other male guppies. Furthermore, Pretty is quite old and I don’t think she’s as attractive to the males as before. Lately, besides having a croaked back, she has been quite inactive, showing that age has caught up with her health.


So after a weekly water change today, I decided to hand-pick a suitable female guppy from the Guppy Tank to accompany the guppies in the main tank.

It wasn’t as easy as I thought, as some female-looking guppies turned out to be males upon closer observation. Finally, I netted up one uniquely looking female guppy, with faint black uniformly spaced spots and pinkish colour on her tail. I decided to call her ‘Pinky’ due to her pinkish taint.

Upon entering the main tank, she seemed pretty calm and her main concern was to look for food, as she started nipping any stray moving leaves from the plants. Looks like she will be enjoying life here in this less congested tank. 


Arrival of the new Loaches

After taking a nap in the afternoon yesterday, I then decided to go down to Qian Hu by public transport. It took around 40 minutes to reach there and the place was pretty crowded with families.

Already familiar with the place, I started walking along the rows of fish tanks featuring all kinds of common aquatic fishes/crabs. Despite roughly knowing the location of the tank where I last bought the Dwarf Chain Loaches, I still took my time to browse through all the tanks along the way, enjoying the views.

After the walk, I went back to the Dwarf Chain Loach’s tank and saw around 10+ of them left in the tank; I was told there were around 30+ left when I called in the morning, and I was glad to have come down today. Otherwise there might be no more left by the time I drop by next week. 😦

I then started fishing them up. As the tank consisted of another kind of fish (couldn’t remember what they were though), most of the time I ended up fishing the other species instead. After several tries, I managed to net up a total of 5 loaches, priced at S$3.00 each. I didn’t really get to see how they looked, but as I did not wish to disturb the fishes too much, I just proceeded to the staff for check-out.

When I reached home, I had the packet of fishes kept afloat in the Main Planted Tank, making sure that the lights were switched off first to minimise surprise to the fishes, both old and new.

As the journey back from Qian Hu took quite a while, I didn’t want the new loaches to get stucked in the plastic bag for too long (thus adding to their stress). I then poured the fishes into a small rectangle tank, planning to net them out one by one.

However, I changed my mind as they looked visibly stressed and I wouldn’t want to stress them further. Furthermore, the water in the bag was from a separate tank in Qian Hu, so it’s unlikely that it would contain bad bacteria etc. So in the end I just slowly submerged the tank into the Main Tank and allow the loaches to swim into their new home by themselves.

A few were still stressed in their new environment, and it will probably take a while till they are used to this safe and natural (since planted with many plants now) home of theirs.