Bermuda Snorkeling with Reef Explorer

I am in Bermuda this weekend as a guest of the Bermuda Fry Angle Aquarium Society.  Yesterday I was taken out on a glass-bottom boat excursion with Reef Explorer.  We had a great time!  I highly recommend Reef Explorer when you visit here.  You can get more information about the trips on the website www.bermudareefexplorer.com .

I went snorkeling on a reef for the first time in June 2015 in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Bermuda is very different.  First, the island is not in the Caribbean Sea… Bermuda is a lot further north, roughly on the same latitude as the the Carolina’s, east of the main flow of the Gulf Stream and in the western part of the Sargasso Sea.  The Gulf Stream helps to keep the waters of Bermuda warm, but they are still quite a bit cooler in the Winter.  That means that there is a lower diversity of life here than further south.  But I believe that Bermuda does a better job of protecting their reefs, and maybe the pollution is not as bad here as it is in the Caribbean, because the corals all looked a lot healthier and larger.  The fish were definitely larger!  We saw some huge blue angelfish, a massive porcupine puffer, big parrotfish, and a really cool hogfish.  Lots of butterfly fish and smaller species as well.  Lots of fun!  Enjoy…

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Apistogramma sp. ‘Abacaxi’

Here is a short video showing my colony of A. sp. ‘Abacaxi’, an undescribed dwarf cichlid from Brazil. Enjoy….

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Corydoras sp. CW049

Here is a short video showing my school of Corydoras sp. CW049 .  These catfish were imported from Peru, but they come from the region around Letecia, where Colombia, Peru and Brazil intersect.  They are similar to CW051, but the 49’s have proven to be easier to spawn.  This is one of my favorite cory cats, but they are pricey.  They swam around in the warehouse fish room for months and nobody bought them, so I decided to keep them for myself.  You will also see a larger cory in the video, which is CW117 from Brazil.  Also in the tank are a group of Apistogramma cacatuoides ‘triple red’, which are already spawning.  I thought that the cories would go into the caves at night and steal the eggs, but so far they have left the cichlids alone.

 

The aquarium is a 30-breeder aquarium that is top drilled in the back.  Water changes of about 15% are done 2x each week by topping the tank off with water and letting the excess drain out.  The filter is a Poret foam 5″ cube filter with a jet lifter that has an elbow and spout on the top.  That smooth 90-degree turn makes all the difference in the world when it comes to current in the tank.  I get the filters from www.swisstropicals.com .  The wood and caves provide structure and cover, but the catfish pretty much stay out in the open over the sand.

The tangled mass of plant-like matter in the back is Spanish moss, which you can get at most nurseries that sell supplies for planted hanging baskets.  I soak the moss in hot water, changing daily, for a few days to get rid of a lot of the tannin, but there is still plenty in there.  I do not mind the tannin, and the moss is a great place for the cories to deposit eggs (though it will be hard to see them in there).  The yarn mops are also for depositing eggs.  One mop is located directly in the current of the filter, and the other is on the calm side of the tank against the glass.  Hopefully I will see some signs of spawning soon.

The cories are fed at least twice each day.  Baby brine shrimp is given daily (along with all the other tanks in the room).  Other feedings may be flake (Brine Shrimp Direct deli, plankton and earthworm flake), sinking pellet (Sera plankton pellets), Repashy gel food (Bottom Scratcher or Spawn & Grow) or live black worm.  I generally feed each of those foods a few times each week, but not a lot of any of them.

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A Tank for Apistos

The new fish room is functional and I am in the process of getting my aquariums set up for keeping the fish that I have on hand; and for some fish that have come my way that I simply cannot pass up, regardless of whether I am ready for them or not!  All 21 of the 30-breeder aquariums in the fish room will be aqua-scaped long-term homes for different species, many of which are from soft, black-water biotopes.  I was experimenting with using planted tank ‘soils’ over int he old fish room, and I like the affect that they have on the pH in a soft water tank, so I am going to incorporate these soils into the aquariums where I want the water to be very soft and acidic.  This video will show you how I am setting up a tank as one of these soft, black-water biotopes for a group of Apistogramma sp. ‘Miua’ and cardinal tetras.

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Out of the Old… Into the New!

Here is a first glimpse of TedsFishroom 3.0.  I am moving my hobby out of the warehouse and back into my basement…

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What’s New?

Lots…  Lots of new.  Since the last time I paid any attention to this blog I have closed the warehouse fish room and closed the eCommerce website.  Tough couple of months.  Let’s just say that I am glad I have a very supportive family and group of friends.  It is hard to pull the plug on a dream.

I do have a new fish room in my basement, and I am very happy with it so far.  Twenty one 30Br tanks that are all going to be aquascaped ‘biotope tanks, eight each 15’s and 20L’s, ten 10’s and four 75’s.  All plumbed to a floor drain.  Very manageable, and all are hobby tanks.  Three years ago I expanded the business side of my hobby because I was getting bored with keeping and breeding fish.  I am now re-energized for keeping and breeding, and very happy to set aside the selling.  I will be able to travel more and keep up with the blog, both of which are more important to me than selling fish.  I will miss importing fish… opening dozens of boxes of rare fish is a LOT of fun.

The www.tedsfishroom.com/catalog is operational again, but not automated.  Fish that will be for sale will be mostly fish that are produced in the fish room.  Some wild fish will be available from time to time.  When I get new stock I generally buy a couple dozen, choose my breeders and then sell off the rest.  Please check back frequently, because the number of fish I will have will never be high, and items that appear on the list will probably disappear quickly.

There will be a video of the new fish room coming up in the next week or so.  Then some videos of the ‘working displays’ I am currently getting settled in.

Thanks for reading!

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Monterey Bay Aquarium – Open Sea Gallery

I am in San Jose, CA, this weekend visiting friends and giving a talk to the Pacific Coast Cichlid Association.  I made the pilgrimage to Monterey for lunch and a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  I only shot video of one gallery this time.  I have several videos of this wonderful aquarium already posted, but I cannot go to any aquarium without making at least one video.  The Open Sea gallery is unique.  There are lots of places with kelp forests, tide pools, coral reefs and rocky shores.  Monterey Bay Aquarium is the only place I have been to with big tuna!  Enjoy…

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Breeding Project: Endler’s Livebearers and Small Guppies

I have been looking for an opportunity to start working with some small livebearer species for a while, but I have not pulled the trigger on buying small groups of fish that would take a long time to build up into a good size colony.  I want some livebearers types that are desirable as aquarium subjects, but will also produce enough culls to feed my growing collection of small predatory fish like dwarf pike cichlids and small wolf fish.  A member of our local club (Madison Area Aquatic Hobbyists), Jeff Zwicker, recently posted an ad to sell his colonies of Endler’s livebearers and other guppy types, so I took a trip out to see them… and made a purchase.  Six different colonies!  Enjoy the video….

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February Newsletter: Tank Raised Dwarf Cichlids

If you have yet to sign up for the Newsletter, please consider doing so.  I send out a newsletter at the beginning of each month featuring something that is happening in the fish room, news about up-coming orders, or anything else that I am thinking about at the time.  The newsletter will also have a voucher code in it for the Stock Shop.  This month the focus of the newsletter is Tank Raised Dwarf Cichlids, and there is a voucher code for 20% off your entire order when $50 worth of cichlids are purchased.  Here is the text of the newsletter:

Dwarf Cichlids…

edit_apisto_allpahuayo_Rio_Tigre_20150313_1334 edit_apisto_eremnopyge_20150313_1332 edit_apisto_agassizii_blue_Peru_20141229_0815 edit_apisto_nijsseni_20150112_0932 edit_apisto_baenschi_20150118_0973

This has been an interesting Winter.  Lot’s of ups an downs.  On the negative side, imports have been challenging, and I have not been able to bring in nearly the number of fish as last year.  The issue has been supply-side.  I am not sure where the fish have been going, but they have not been coming here.  Looking around at what is happening all over the USA, it is apparent that I am not the only importer having a hard time getting livestock.

On the positive side, all the empty tank space has inspired me to set up more fish for breeding.  Dwarf cichlids have been my main focus.  I counted 36 pairs today, 23 of which are Apistogramma sp. and the rest West African.

When I go to clubs to talk about fish, I usually end each talk encouraging everyone to breed the fish they have, because ‘we never know if the last box to come in will be the last box ever’.  So I looked around the empty fish room and started to follow my own advice.  Ready access to wild fish has been tough… so time to start breeding what I have on hand!

That got me to thinking about wild livestock vs tank raised.  I sometimes think that by providing a lot of wild caught fish that I am sending the message that they are somehow better than tank raised, when what I truly believe is the opposite.  Quality tank-raised livestock have a lot of advantages over wild fish… with the operative word being ‘quality’.

Good tank-raised fish are:

  • parasite-free
  • acclimated to life in an aquarium
  • less stressed by shipment
  • acclimated to non-live foods
  • usually younger
  • usually cheaper (unless they are imported)

One of the ‘issues’ with tank-raised fish stems from the source of most of them sold through on-line retailers (including TedsFishroom)… the Czech Republic.  These fish, overall, are not bad livestock.  But the breeders over there are not known for their quality control.  So tank-raised fish have gotten a bad reputation, when the problem is really the origin.

I have not ordered Czech fish for quite a while.  I am sure that I will again, but right now I am fortunate to have access to some pretty good tank-raised dwarf cichlids from here in the upper midwest, USA.  I have been working with a few breeders over the past two years.  Getting them some good livestock.  Encouraging them to produce a lot of fish, and being happy to buy everything they produce.  Those efforts are starting to pay off.

I have been carrying the local fish for the past six months, but now the breeders are starting to provide a much wider variety.  There are several new fish in the Stock Shop this month.  Apistogramma – baenschi, panduro, nijsenni, bitaeniata‘Rio Tigre’, sp. ‘Rio Mamore’, eremnopyge, cacatuoides ‘triple red’, and iniridae.  I also have Laetacra curviceps and L. dorsigerafor the first time from local breeders, and some F1 Pelvicachromis pulcher ‘yellow’.

And there are fry born here in my fish room that are growing out… A. baenschi, A. allpahuayo, A. huascar, P. kribensis‘Moliwe’, P. drachenfesli and Nanochromis transvestitus.  Most of those should be available in the Stock Shop by May.

The imports are starting to loosen up a bit, and there are some shipments from Peru, Colombia and Asia in the works.  So wild fish will also be available.  But I have committed some space (and money) to ensure that more tank-raised fish are coming through the fish room.

So… to encourage the purchase of these newly acquired tank-raised fish, this months special is a voucher code for orders with cichlids.  Any cichlids… not just the tank-raised fish… though I hope that you will jump on the tank-raised bandwagon.

Order $50 worth of cichlids, get 20% Off your entire order.

voucher code:

FEBCICHLID

 

Use the code in the voucher box in the checkout cart.

Normal whole-invoice discounts still apply.  Whole invoice calculated after the 20% has been subtracted.  Offer valid on orders placed through February 29, 2016.  Discounts on in-stock items only, and on orders placed through the TedsFishroom.com/catalog website.

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Breeding Project: Ancistrus claro

I have a new species to work with:  Ancistrus claro.  The ‘gold marble’ bristlenose catfish is a neat little species.  They stay small (less than 3″), are relatively social and active during the day.  I have a group of 14 young, wild-caught fish that I am setting up in a 30-breeder.  Here is the video, followed by a transcript:

Video Transcript:

Breeding Project – Ancistrus claro

Welcome back to TedsFishroom… Let’s take a look at what is happening in the breeding projects, and introduce a new species to the program. Another loricariid catfish… Ancistrus claro.

So far I have introduced three breeding projects. Here is a look into what is happening in each of them.

The Panaqolus albivermis are growing. They have become much more active, less shy and come out readily for food. Occasionally I will see one of them exploring a spawning cave, but so far none of the males have taken up more permanent residence. The only change that I am contemplating is to change the type and size of spawning caves.

The Benitochromis nigrodorsalis have settled in and a weak pair has formed. The largest male has started to exert his dominance over the other fish in the tank, and even killed a few tetras. He tolerates one female in his space, but the other two fish are constantly avoiding him. I removed the female, as she was very stressed by the negative attention. The extra male is still holding his own, but I will remove him soon. I want to give the new pair a but more time to cement their bond. I am concerned that removing the extra male too early may result in the dominant male turning on the female he seems to tolerate.

The only changes to the tank have been the addition of some pebbles for more structure and spawning sites, and a power head to provide more current and aeration in the tank. I added the pump because the cichlids were not being very active, but now that the water is really flowing they are coming out into the open more frequently.

The Apistogramma pairs stalled a bit when my reverse osmosis machine started having some problems. You can watch the video on the overhaul of the unit, resulting in water that is much softer and lower in pH. Since fixing that problem the dwarf cichlids are faring much better and showing more signs of spawning. Especially the Apistogramma baenschi pairs. This female appears to be guarding a clutch of eggs.

The Apistogramma sp. ‘Kelleri have also responded well to the softer water. They spawn regularly, but I did see the female holding larvae in her mouth for first time (but I missed getting some video).

A new species to the program are two pairs of wild Apistogramma sp. ‘Abacaxi’. This species needs very low pH, and I am currently working to getting the acidity down to under 5.0. These are young fish, and are just now reaching maturity.

Ancistrus claro is probably one of the best oddball loricariid catfish to come into the hobby in the past 20 years. The common name most frequently given to the fish is the gold marble bristlenose pleco, which accurately describes the coloration of an exceptional male. The base color is green with a network of golden yellow markings. My fish are still young, however, and have not developed their best color.

Ancistrus claro comes from the Rio Claro in the state of Matto Grosso in far southwest Brazil, and is a part of the Rio Parguay system. This distant location from the major fish export cities makes the gold marble pleco an uncommon export, but this year several shipments made it out.

As an aquarium fish, Ancistrus claro has a lot going for it. It is a small species, topping out at under 3 inches, and they are not particularly nasty to each other, colonies of many fish are possible. The water they come from is moderately soft, and successful spawning has been reported in a wide range of pH levels. They are omnivrous leaning to vegetarian, so are not hard to feed. They spawn in caves in typical ancistrus style. If there is one knock against claro, it is that the spawns are relatively small and infrequent, compared to other types of ancistrus.

My colony will be set up in a 30 breeder aquarium on the top row of my racks. The temperature here will stay in the mid-70’s, so I am using a heater to keep the water in the upper 70’s.

The tank is filtered with a Poret cube filter, and current is being provided by a small internal power filter. The natural habitat of the species is described as fast flowing with rocks, pebbles and sand. I am including some wood in the tank for the plecos to chew on. But the primary structure will be rocks and spawning caves.

My tap water is too hard for this species, especially the carbonate hardness, so I will be using reverse osmosis water, and reconstituting it with some general hardness and a little carbonate to buffer the pH. My target is a GH of 4 and KH of 2. I will let the pH be where it will be, but with thee hardness levels the pH will be close to neutral.

I have 14 A. claro in this colony. They are young and not so easy to sex. Males will have the tell-tale tentacles on their face, but females can have a few as well (though most females do not). I think that this groups is about 50-50 males and females. I have had these fish in quarantine for three months with no issues or losses.

The tank is ready for the fish, so in they go and this breeding project is officially started. The available literature describes claro as slow to grow and mature, so I am not expecting much from this group for several months. But you never know…. Fish cannot read.

Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. You can also read about this breeding project and my other aquarium adventures on my video blog at www.tedsfishroom.com. If you have some experiences with Ancistrus claro that you would like to share, we would love to read about them in the comment section here on YouTube or on the blog site.

Thanks for watching TedsFishroom.

 

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