Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Setting Up a Blackwater Aquarium

The Original Habitat of most fish from South America include stagnant waters, where the pH is low, water is tea coloured, and there is a lot of leaf litter including tree branches etc. and hardly any plants. Fish from such habitats include, various types of tetras, dwarf cichlids like Apistogramma Sp., Angelfish, Discus Fish etc.  

I recently set up a blackwater aquarium for my Apistogramma Agassizii, and I’ll give you some details as to how you all can do it.

Substrate: You need clear sand, or fine gravel for substrate, it works best to have sand. Chose a whitish or brownish shade for your substrate. You don’t really have to get it really thick as there won’t be any plants.

Hardscape: For the hardscape of the tank, use dried branches of trees, twigs, etc. and make sure you have treated the wood properly by boiling/soaking in water. 

Leaf Litter: Leaf litter is an important part of a Blackwater setup. People use Maple Leaves, after boiling. I have used Indian Almond Leaves, after boiling. Indian Almond Leaves give out tannins which stain the water to a 'yellow-brown tea colour’ Add them to the base and between the wood. 

Water Colour: pH and Colour are the Hallmarks of a Blackwater Aquarium. It can both be achieved either by Peat, or the Leaves and wood OR a ready-made Blackwater Extract. 
People add Peat to the filter so that the water is stained and the pH is lowered to slightly acidic. Indian Almond Leaves stain water over time, or you can always add home-made Indian Almond Leaf Extract, which would stain the water. Wood over time releases tannins that again stain the water. 
If all this sounds too much to keep up with you can always use a ready-made ‘Blackwater Extract’. Do read the instructions properly for the dosage. 
Whatever it is if you already have fish in the aquarium make sure you do not change your pH too fast. Take it slow.  

Lighting: Aim for subdued lighting, use spot-lights, and avoid very bright lights.
PlantsIts not necessary to add plants, but you can always add floating plants. This will give the tank a cover from the light. If you do want to add some plants, try some low light plants, like Amazon Swords etc. though I wouldn’t recommend it.



You should have a set up that looks similar to this. Colour intensity can vary, and hardscape design is up to your creativity.

If you have any questions, or if you have anything to share about your aquariums, do leave a comment, and don't forget to share this post.

Ciao!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Taking Care of Betta Fish Fins

Betta fish, Siamese fighting fish or Fighter fish as its called in India are really really beautiful fish. They have magnificent colors on their long flowy fins which come in so many varieties. 

Whether your Betta is a halfmoon, fullmoon, delta tail, double tail or a veil tail, taking care that their fins stay in great shape is really important. There are many things that can go wrong and lead to fin deterioration if you don’t pay much attention. Knowing the causes of fin deterioration can help you take better care of your Betta. A proper healthy Betta fish with flawless fins looks like this

 Fins1 fins2

Here are some causes of fin deterioration:   

- Ammonia Burns
- Fin Nipping
- Fin rot
- Tail Biting
- Aquarium Decorations

Ragged ends of fins are signs of fin deterioration: Screen Shot 2014 10 25 at 6 01 00 pm png

Ammonia Burns: Ammonia is one of the products of fish waste in water. High levels of ammonia can cause the delicate ends of the Betta fins to burn. Safe levels of ammonia for any fish is 0 ppm. When ammonia levels rise, they can cause ammonia burms. High levels of ammonia can lower the immunity of any fish making them susceptible to infections etc.
Solution: Keep a check on water parameters. If possible get an Ammonia Test kit, test your water. Make sure your tank is cycled. If you notice any ragged fins cause due to ammonia, make sure you do enough water changes to keep ammonia at 0 ppm. Add dried Indian Almond leaf to the water, it helps in regrowth and keeping infections away. 

Fin Nipping: If your Betta fish has tank mates like tetras (neons, cardinals etc.) theres a possibility that these fish may nip on the Betta’s fins. It’s better to not have such fish as tank mates with a Betta. Also dried Indian Almond Leaf to help with healing.

Fin rot: Fin rot is an infection caused by bacteria. In conditions where your Betta is stressed or has lowered immunity, fin rot can affect your betta. Fin rot causes frayed, ripped fins. There maybe red/pink tips, black ends, tethered fins etc

 

Fin Rot
Solution:
 Fin rot can be treated with or without medication. Without medication you’d have to make sure your Betta is good quality water (water parameters in check) by doing water changes, temperature in check, and good diet. Again dried Indian Almond Leaf can surely help. Some aquarists add aquarium salt to the water.
Medication can include Methylene Blue baths.

Tail Biting: Betta fish can bite on their own tail when stressed or bored. This can happen if the filter has a strong current, not enough decor/hiding places etc
Solution: Setting up an aquarium which your betta would love to explore is the key. Also get a filter that doesn’t have a strong current. 

Aquarium Decoartions: Sharp objects, Plastic plants, etc can lead to tears in your Betta’s fins. Make sure you have silk plants that are soft, or Live Plants which are better any day over artificial ones. 

So if you see any fin deterioration go through all possible causes and try and fix it before theres more damage. If you have any questions you can always ask me in the comments. And make sure you share this post!

Happy Fish keeping!