Sunday, December 30, 2012

75 Gallon Tank Photos

Now that Christmas is over, I've taken down all our Christmas decorations (including the aquarium ones!).  I put the fake bamboo plant back in the tank, and thought I would snap a few full-tank photos, since I haven't in a while.  I've been cleaning the algae off all the surfaces except for the back glass pane, which is left for the nerites to clean.  I must say, they don't do a very good job!  I expected them to be better at cleaning up the algae, but that's okay.  They're fun additions to the tank nevertheless. 

Here are the two little ones following Clover.

And following Callisto.

The red spotted nerite snail, traveling across the glass.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Egg-laying Begins

Up until now, my two nerite snails (one zebra and one red spot) haven't laid any eggs in the tank, and I was hoping it might stay that way.  But sure enough, during yesterday's water change I noticed a few tiny white spots on the glass... nerite eggs!  Oh well.  They are a little tough to scrub off, but they do come off.  If you have an acrylic tank though, forget it!  The scratches you'd inflict on the acrylic surface while trying to scrub these eggs off would not be pretty. 

Here's a photo showing the relative size of the eggs.

In this photo you can see some snaily bite-mark tracks leading up to the egg.

The guilty parties!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Quarantine is Over

Today marks the last day of quarantine for my two little butterflies.  Ideally I would like to keep them in QT for a week or so longer, but current circumstances prevent that.  Since this is the first Christmas my husband and I own a house, we're hosting a family get-together at our place, and we have to move the quarantine tub out of the dining room to make room for everyone.  And since there's nowhere else it can go, that means QT will have to be over for the butterflies.  In any case, no issues have come up during QT and the two fish both appear very healthy.  During their QT period, they had one week in .3% salt, and finished four rounds of praziquantel, so that should have covered the most common parasites.

After the holiday hubbub has passed, I'll set up the 55 gallon tank for the two butterflies, but for now I'm putting them in the 75 gallon tank with my ryukins, Clover and Callisto.  This is fine short-term, but eventually I do need to separate the two groups of fish.  Not only are the butterflies on a different feeding schedule than the ryukins, but also the ryukins are much faster at finding and eating food than the butterflies are.  If I left them all in the same tank long-term, it would be a constant battle trying to make sure the butterflies get their fill of food.  Plus, I'd like for them to have as much water volume per fish as possible of course. 

Goodbye QT tub!

Hello 75 gallon aquarium!  As you can see, is still partially decorated for Christmas.  I took out all the glass marbles and the glass trees, but left the frost and snowflakes on the outside.  I just didn't want the butterflies to bump into anything while they were still adjusting to the new environment.

After putting the butterflies into the 75 gallon tank, I noticed that Felix had a small white spot on his tail, almost like excess slime coat was built up there.  I swabbed it with hydrogen peroxide as soon as I noticed it, and I'm going to have to watch closely to make sure it doesn't become a problem.  That's the trouble with using a tub (even a clear one) for quarantine.  It can be sometimes difficult to spot issues like this because of the clouded side view and the poor lighting.  Hopefully the spot doesn't turn into a bigger problem.  I also noticed that both Felix and "Sophie" have numerous breeding tubercles all over the first and second rays of their pectoral fins!  "Sophie" even has a few on the gill covers!  So I guess they are both male, and "Sophie" will need a name change.  I decided on Luca for his new name, because I like it.  :)

That's it for now, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Years! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2013 Goldfish Calendar

I decided to try something new and made a 2013 wall calendar filled with great photos of awesome fish!  All the photos used are very high resolution, so this should come out looking pretty nice.

For anyone interested, the calendar is available at Cafe Press here:  Solid Gold 2013 Calendar.

Here's a preview of the pages!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day 13 of Quarantine

Quarantine for the butterflies has been uneventful (that's always a good thing!).  I've started feeding them Repashy Spawn and Grow and I think they prefer the taste of this over the Soilent Green.  I like to toss in a big cube and watch them tear pieces off like tiny little sharks!  Okay, so the cube of gel food is actually not really big... it's mouth-sized for Clover and Callisto, my two ryukins.  But the butterflies are so tiny that it seems like a really big cube of gel food!  Yesterday Sophie nibbled on my hand for the first time while I was doing a water change.  These two have never really acted afraid of human presence, but they still kept their distance.  But now I think they're already starting to associate my hands with food.  And people say goldfish only have a 3-second memory... please!  Today Sophie actually started nibbling at the gel food while it was still in my hand; it was very cute.  She's already almost trained to hand-feed

Here's a fun little video of them drifting about in the quarantine tub.  Just imagine that the hardwood floor showing through the clear tub bottom is actually a Japanese wooden basin, like this (art by Riusuke Fukahori). 

I've been really thinking about where to put these two once their quarantine period is over.  I want them moved out of the QT tub by Christmas because we're having a lot of family over to our house and I think being in a tub on the floor with lots of people and dogs walking (more like stomping!) around would be stressful for them.  But I don't yet know where to put them.  I can put them in my 55 gallon tank, but it has a noisy gurgling overflow box problem that I want to fix first, especially seeing as my visiting family would be sleeping within hearing range of the tank.  I don't want to put the butterflies in the 75 gallon tank with Clover and Callisto because I want to keep them separate for feeding schedule reasons.  I suppose I can just put them in the 75 gallon tank for now, and use a floating colander to feed them apart from the ryukins, until after Christmas when I can get their 55 gallon tank set up.  That's probably what I'll end up doing. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Snail and the Christmas Tree

My red spot nerite snail has discovered the Christmas trees!  He was zooming around eating diatoms on a couple of them yesterday. 

Before I decorated my tank for Christmas, I wiped away all the algae and diatoms so it would look nice in the photos and videos.  Well after that, the diatoms started coming back, but only in small patches here and there.  So now the snails have gotten much more inventive in finding good spots to graze! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Day Eight of Quarantine

Things continue to go well for the two new butterflies!  On Thursday they finished their first round of prazi, and since then they were in-between doses (when treating for flukes you must allow a few days between doses for the fluke eggs to hatch; they won't hatch with prazi present).  Today I dosed their second round of prazi, and there was no reaction from them whatsoever- good!  I've also been maintaining the salt level at .3% and they've been doing great with that.  They're very active, eating well, and their waste looks healthy and normal.  I added a heater to the QT tub today because it's near a window and I was having a hard time keeping the temperature where I wanted it.  But the heater should help a lot with that.  After a few days of pondering, I finally decided on names for them!  The white one is Sophie and the red/white one is Felix.  Felix means lucky or fortunate, which is very fitting seeing as they survived the shipping incident.  And I've always thought Sophie sounds like a pretty and delicate name, which is so fitting for the white butterfly because she is so... well, pretty and delicate!

There is not much else to report!  They're still just being their cute little selves.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day Five of Quarantine

Today the two butterflies are still doing great!  I placed my first order with Tasty Worms to get some Repashy Spawn and Grow to feed these guys so I can promote their proper growth.  For now they're doing well on their diet of Soilent Green, Saki-Hikari, and frozen bloodworms. 

I decided they had settled in well enough now for me to weigh them and measure their body lengths so I can track their growth over time.  I measured length as body length, which means I excluded the tail.  Goldfish tail fins are so variable in length that including the tail in the measurement doesn't provide very useful information about the fish.  The white fish weighs 35 grams and is 2.25 inches long and the red/white fish weighs 30 grams and is 2.25 inches long.  I'm not surprised that although their lengths are the same, the white fish weighs more; because the white one has a more round and full body than the red/white one does. 

Since I was already handling them for weight and length measurements, I also took the opportunity to check their vents to determine gender.  They're still pretty young, so it's hard to tell for sure, but I think the white one is a female and the red/white one is a male.  The white fish has a rounder vent indicating she may be a female, while the red/white fish has a slim and elongated vent indicating he may be a male.  I'm very happy that I appear to have gotten one male and one female because I'd like to breed these two fish and raise some butterfly fry in the future! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day Four of Quarantine

After adding the prazi and .1% salt yesterday, I was worried because it seemed to agitate the butterflies a little.  But today they are doing perfectly well!  They seemed really curious about my presence when I was near their tub, and they were swimming around energetically all day long.  They like to follow one-another around and peck at things; it's very fun to watch them.

I tested the water and saw there was again some residual ammonia from the tap water that hadn't been processed by the beneficial bacteria yet (my tap water has 1 ppm ammonia in it).  But everything else looked good.  In place of doing a water change today, I just added a fresh dose of Prime to keep that ammonia detoxified until the bacteria can take care of it.  After that, I brought the salt level up to .2% and the butterflies didn't even flinch.  I'm going to bring the salt level up again to .3% in a few hours.  I'll maintain a salt concentration of .3% for at least 3 weeks to make sure I've rid them of as many parasites as possible.  At the same time, I'll be doing 4-6 rounds of prazi which will take care of gill and body flukes.  Then QT will be over for them!

Today I fed them Saki-Hikari early in the day and then in the evening they got their first bloodworms.  They loved the bloodworms!  I was pleased to see the white butterfly ate everything today without spitting anything out.  I wonder if she was spitting the food out before because she was being irritated by flukes, which are now greatly reduced in number thanks to the prazi.  Or it could have been that she was just a little stressed out still from shipping and being in such a new environment.  Either way, she is eating better now, so I'm happy!

Day Three of Quarantine

Today marks the third day of quarantine for my two new butterflies!  Yesterday the water parameters were: ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5, and pH 7.8.  I'm happy to see that the cycled media I took from my main tank has given the quarantine tub a perfect instant cycle!  After testing the water yesterday I did a 50% water change.  I tested the water again today and all the parameters were the same except ammonia, which was .25.  That ammonia is probably residual from the ammonia in the tap water added during yesterday's water change (my tap water has about 1 ppm ammonia in it).  Since a dose of Prime detoxifies up to 1 ppm of ammonia for 24-48 hours, it's not a problem.  After testing the water today I did a 60% water change to freshen the water and keep the nitrates under 10 ppm.  At first I was a little worried that the water changes would stress the butterflies, but they actually don't seem to notice much at all!  In addition, they don't seem to be afraid of my hands.  They don't come up and nibble on my hands like Clover and Callisto (my ryukins) do, because apparently they haven't yet learned to associate human hands with food and feeding time.  It will be interesting to see how long it takes before they begin to make that connection!

Yesterday I fed them their first bites of Repashy Soilent Green gel food and I noticed the white fish kept taking pieces into her mouth, "chewing" on them for a while, spitting them out, and repeating this over and over.  Each time she spit them out, the pieces were smaller, so she was clearly ingesting some of it.  After a few times of doing this though, she gave up on those pieces of food and the red/white fish came over and ate them.  Next I tried giving them some Saki-Hikari pellets and the white fish ate those without spitting any out, so I figured she just wasn't used to the texture of gel food and would take a while to get the hang of it.  Again today I fed them some Saki-Hikari pellets and the white fish did the same thing with the pellet food today that she did with the gel food yesterday.  First she ate about 4 pieces without spitting anything out.  But then with the next 3 pieces she picked up, she started chewing and spitting them out.  They got smaller each time, so again, she was ingesting some.  Eventually she stopped trying to eat them and swam away, and then the red/white one came over and ate what was left.  I'm a little worried that the white fish doing this, but for now I'll just keep an eye on it.  It's not like she isn't eating at all, so I don't think it's a dire situation at this point. 

After today's water change I decided to start their praziquantel treatment to kill gill and body flukes.  I'm using Aqua Prazi and I plan on doing 4-6 rounds of it (for more information about QT treatment procedures, you can see my guide to quarantine procedures). I'm also going to treat them with .3% salt at some point, but today I wanted to start with the prazi alone because I'm a worry-wart and I don't want to add too many potential stressors at once.  After adding the prazi today, both the fish (but the white one in particular) seemed slightly agitated and were darting around a little bit rather than swimming at a normal pace.  I take that to mean they had a few flukes on them, and the prazi killing off the flukes is causing a bit of irritation.  I think tomorrow I'll add .1% salt to help ward off infection at the micro-wounds left by the dead flukes.
*Edited to add: I thought better of it and added .1% salt to the tank tonight rather than waiting until tomorrow.

Even though I haven't been able to tell the gender of either fish yet, I've already started thinking of the white one as female and the red/white one as male.  I don't know why; I think their body shapes just strike me as such!  I tried looking at their vents, but the plastic tub offers a pretty clouded side-view and their anal fins are very close together, covering up their tiny little vents too well for me to get a good view.  In time I'll handle them to check their genders, but right now I want to keep handling to a minimum until I'm sure they're fully settled in and de-stressed from their long journey to get here.

Here are some photos of them from today!

I really need to decide on names for them!  I have tons of ideas, but haven't settled on the right names yet. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Christmas-themed Aquarium

Here's my Christmas-themed tank!

See my blog post here for Christmas decorating ideas! 
Click here to see my in-the-making video for this setup!

Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays everyone.  :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Fish Are Here!

I went to the post office this morning to pick up the package fully expecting the fish to be dead, since they had been in the box since Monday.  I opened the package right there on the post office counter, and was pleasantly surprised to see a flash of red as the little red/white butterfly moved!  They were both alive! 

Now they're in the quarantine tub settling in and de-stressing from their long journey.  The red/white butterfly seems strong and full of energy. The white butterfly is a little more lethargic, but still moving around and seems to be in pretty good condition.  They are much smaller and way cuter than I thought they were going to be!  I had to wrap some filter floss around the filter intake because the big Aquaclear 110 was a bit too powerful for the little guys.  I'm so happy to have some butterfly telescopes in my life once again!  <3

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Delay in Fish Shipping

Well this has been a bad day.  My two new butterflies were supposed to arrive but they didn't, and I have no way of knowing when they will get here.  Last night I got their QT tank all set up and running in preparation for them, and then this morning I woke up early in case they arrived early in the morning.  By the time 2:00pm came around, I was getting nervous.  Then 4:00pm passed by and I knew there was a problem.  So I called USPS to inquire into the whereabouts of my package; I was still holding out hope that they might arrive today.  I was told the package would definitely not arrive today, but they had no way of knowing where it was or when it would arrive.  On the phone I made it clear that these are live animals that are pretty much priceless to me, and I asked if there was any way to at least find out where the package is right now.  The customer service representative didn't care that the package contained live fish, and he was not helpful at all.

I'm in disbelief that this is happening again.  Yes, again.  I have gotten lots of fish in the mail before, but I have only used USPS as a carrier twice (this being the second time).  You might remember that in my previous post I mentioned a white butterfly telescope that I bought in 2011, and it was mailed to me through USPS.  Well just like this time, they messed up and the shipment was delayed by two days.  The box was marked all over with "live fish" but apparently that didn't phase the USPS workers.  That white butterfly arrived dead, along with the red butterfly that was in the same bag.  The only fish that survived from that shipment was the black butterfly, who was bagged separately.  I think being bagged separately is what made the difference between life and death for that fish.  Even though the two butterflies bagged together were very small, I can only assume they ran out of oxygen during the extended shipping and suffocated. 

You're probably wondering why I chose USPS again after that first bad experience.  Back when the first incident happened, I heard from others who used USPS many times for live fish without any problems.  So I figured my incident was just a fluke and not likely to happen again.  And who knows, maybe both of these incidents are flukes, and I'm just a really unlucky person.  I'm still hoping that the fish will show up alive, but I don't know what's going to happen and the suspense is killing me! 

Just to be clear, I am not faulting either of these goldfish sellers in the least.  In both instances the sellers did everything in their power to rectify the situation, even though the error was on the part of USPS, and I am very grateful for that!

Here's the QT tub; all set up and ready, but no fish.  :(

Monday, November 26, 2012

New Fish on the Way

I'm excited to announce that I have two new fish on the way!  They are butterfly telescopes; one is all-white and the other is red and white.

I have wanted an all-white butterfly telescope ever since I first started keeping goldfish a few years ago.  I bought one from Rain Garden in 2010, but unfortunately I was still very much a newbie to goldfish-keeping, and I lost her due to my stupid beginner mistakes.  Then in 2011 I bought three small butterflies (one of which was all-white) from a seller on the Goldfish Keepers Forum.  Sadly, the shipping service made a mistake and the package took longer to arrive than it should have.  As a result, the white butterfly and one other butterfly were already dead upon arrival.  It was the first (and so far, only) time I've ever had fish arrive dead, and it was really awful.  So all this time I've been keeping my eyes peeled for white butterfly telescopes, but I couldn't find many offered for sale, and when I did, they were not quite the quality I was looking for. 

It was just a happy accident that I happened upon this white butterfly.  I contacted a seller on aquabid about some red/white butterfly telescopes he had listed online, and I ended up discovering that he had a white butterfly available too that wasn't listed!  So I bought the white butterfly and one of the red/white butterflies.

This is super exciting because; 1) it's the first time I've gotten new fish in over a year, 2) I will finally have butterfly telescopes again, and 3) I'm finally getting my coveted white butterfly telescope!  I love my ryukins of course, but butterfly telescopes have always been my favorite type of goldfish and I was looking forward to the day that I would have some again.  Hopefully shipping will go as planned and they will arrive in good condition.  I'm tracking them online and right now they're in a sort facility in New Jersey, and expected arrival is sometime on Wednesday.  Until then, I'll be preparing their quarantine tank and waiting in anticipation! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Decorating Your Goldfish Tank for Christmas

While decorating your home for the holiday season, why not decorate the fish tank too?  Here are some ideas to get you started!

For Inside the Tank
As always, choices for decorations inside the tank are limited because you need to make sure the decor is safe for your fish.  Goldfish in particular tend to be pretty clumsy swimmers, so avoid anything with sharp edges and rough surfaces.  Also remember that hollow decorations are not ideal because water can become stagnant inside them.  With that in mind, here are some aquarium-safe decor ideas!

Flat Glass Marbles
For a quick and easy pop of festive color, I like to lightly scatter some glass marbles on the tank floor.  For Christmas choose red, green, and/or white colors.  Whether you have a bare-bottom aquarium like me, or you have substrate in your tank, these glass marbles add accent colors that really help establish the theme of your decor.

Glass Decorations 
There are many different types of home decorations made of glass.  As long as they are solely glass with no extra paint, glitter, or anything on them, these are aquarium-safe.  Peruse your local thrift stores to see what glass treasures you can find!  Santas, reindeer, Christmas trees, and snowflakes made of glass would all make great aquarium decorations!  I found some solid glass Christmas trees and some hollow glass Christmas trees at my local thrift store.  The hollow ones can be made more aquarium-friendly by putting something heavy inside of them so they sink, sealing them with aquarium silicone, and allowing the silicone to cure fully.  This seals the glass decoration up tight so that you avoid water getting trapped inside it and becoming stagnant.  Alternatively, you could consider drilling small holes; one at the base and one at the top, of the hollow ornament and placing an air stone inside it.  This will allow water to flow freely through it continuously.  Please take extreme caution when attempting to drill holes in glass objects, and if you aren't comfortable drilling glass, then either get help from someone experienced or do not attempt it.  When in doubt, opt only for solid glass decorations. 
Solid Glass Christmas Trees:

Hollow Glass Christmas Trees:

Christmas-themed Decorations Made for Aquarium Use
As we near the holiday season, some pet stores may begin carrying Christmas-themed tank ornaments, and any of these would be fine for your aquarium.  As always, take care to stay away from sharp, rough, or hollow ones.

For Outside the Tank
This is where we can get a little more creative because decorations outside of the tank pose little to no threat to the health of your fish.

Fake Snow and/or Frost
Avoid using spray-on fake snow on the outside of your tank because it's not a good idea to spray aerosols near the aquarium.  Also, it may be difficult to fully remove from the glass when the holiday season is over.

If you want the fake snow look without using spray-on snow, you can opt for a roll of cotton fake snow.  This can be cut in pieces and assembled together on your tank to resemble rolling snow-covered hills.  Or you can wrap the base of your tank with the fake snow.  The possibilities are endless!

To get that frosty window look on your aquarium glass, you can actually use epsom salt!  Epsom salt is non-toxic and can be found in the pharmacy department of many stores.  All you need to do is dissolve some epsom salt in hot water, add a little bit of dishsoap, allow mixture to cool, and paint it onto your aquarium glass (on the outside of course).  As it dries, the epsom salt forms crystals that resemble frost on windows.  After the holiday season is over, the glass wipes clean with a wet rag. 
Here is my video tutorial that shows how to do this:

Window Clings
Window clings can be found in a wide variety of Christmas themes, and they also come in either gel or vinyl forms.  Use snowflakes, santas, Christmas trees, snowmen, or any number of Christmas-related window clings!  If you are DIY inclined, you could also make Christmas-themed cutouts with construction paper and tape them (using an easily removable tape) to the glass.

Christmas Stockings
For a personal touch, you can buy or make some miniature stockings for your fish!  They can even be customized with the names of your fish either by using fabric pens or by stitching with thread (as I have done).  Then just hang the stockings from either the tank or the tank stand.  Here are my handmade stockings.

Get Creative!
Get creative and see what else you can come up with to decorate your tank this Christmas!