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Colombia 2016! – Episode 11 – Cano Vitina

We went exploring by car on the afternoon of our first day in Puerto Inirida and traveled out to the village at the crossing of Can Vitina, a blackwater stream that flows into the Rio Atabapo.  There was a party going on when we got there, so we could not collect fish at the main pool under the bridge.  We were led to a trail upstream from the village to get to another section of the stream, but we never got to the main channel.  The trail and the forest around it was flooded, and there were fish everywhere.  After an hour of netting, the sun started to set and we had to leave.

Our boats were not ready the next morning, so we decided to go back to the same village now that the party was (hopefully) over.  We had the stream to ourselves and the help of several kids from the village.  I have never seen black water like this before!  The light could only penetrate a few feet.  I was able to shoot video near the banks, but not out in the deeper water.  We found a lot of fish, including dwarf pike cichlids and cardinal tetras, but when the stream in is flood stage like this the actual catching of fish is hard to do.  

Eduardo ‘Dudu’ Gomes resported to hook and line to find larger pike cichlids.  The local boys got into the action and were a lot better at catching fish than we were.  We made a deal with them to catch pike cichlids for us all week, and we would buy them when we came back to the city at the end of the week.

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Colombia 2016 – Episode 4: Colombia Aquarium Export House

Two of my goals while visiting Colombia were to see how a fish shipment is packed for export out of the country and to follow the path of altum angelfish from the river to the export, in hopes of learning something that will help us be more successful with this amazing angelfish species.  This video will show an afternoon spent in an exporter, Colombia Aquarium, and also investigate the water parameters in which altum angels are held and shipped.

I was very surprised to see the pH with the altum angels under 4.0.  That is really low!  Especially since I have been told by several people that the water in Bogota, where the fish are shipped from, is harder and more alkaline. I do not know any importer, wholesaler or store in the USA that is maintaining tanks with pH that low for these fish.  Not many hobbyists can manage it either.  I do not believe altum angels need the pH that low long-term, but they may need the acidity while acclimating to life in an aquarium.  Enjoy the video…

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Colombia 2016! – Episode 3 – Hernando’s Fish Farm

Ornamental fish farming is a new idea in Colombia. Hernando Gil purchased a farm near the Rio Meta, east of Villavicencio, ten years ago.  The farm produces cattle and sugar cane, and it used to produce tilapia and pacu for human consumption.  Two years ago, Hernando reopened the ponds to give breeding ornamental fish a try.

I have visited many fish farms, and I imagine that what Hernando is building is very similar to what the ornamental aquaculture industry pioneered in Florida decades ago.  Colombia has some incredible species, many of which are hard to find, very seasonal or hard to acclimate into aquarium life. Hernando wants to concentrate on these species, in hopes of making them more available and easier to keep.  Species like the altum angelfish and the panda uaru.  Here is a look at the operation Hernando is building….

 

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Colombia 2016! – Episode 1

Colombia has been a dream destination for me for many years, ever since I started importing fish from there in the late 1980’s. But traveling to Colombia back in those days, especially from the USA, was not a good idea. Times have changed. Colombia is a much safer place to travel and is poised to become one of the biggest destinations in the world for ecotourism. I fulfilled my dream in December 2016, and I have promised myself to go again… many times!

I was in Colombia for two weeks and visited to areas of the country.  The llanos region in the headwaters of the Rio Meta and Rio Guaviare, near the city of Villavicencio one the edge of the easter slope of the Andes mountains.  And the confluence region near the city of Puerto Inirida, where the Rio Inirida, Rio Guaviare and Rio Atabapo come together and join the mighty Rio Orinoco as it leaves the interior of Venezuela.  I will present this trip is a series of videos, of which the first episode is presented here.  I am not sure how many videos the whole trip will require, but I shot a LOT of footage.

The trip was sponsored by three companies that have been instrumental in the advancement of the aquarium hobby, and their contributions to this project are greatly appreciated:

                              

 

Episode 1 will set the stage for the entire trip.  My goal is to publish a new episode each week, probably on a Sunday.  Each episode will be previewed here on the vlog site telling you some more detail about the episode, so here is a great place to view the series.  But I also appreciate the sharing of this video on FaceBook and subscribing to the Ted Judy YouTube Channel.  Enjoy…

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75-gallon Planted Tanks Project – Part 3 – Level Bottom with Manzanita

Here is a look at the other tank that I am working on in this planted tank project.  I apologize up front for the messed up footage of attaching suction cups to the piece of wood, but it is a pretty simple procedure.  Just tie suction cups to the wood, and leave some slack in the line to accommodate for the depth of the substrate.

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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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Aquatic Experience – Nov. 6-8

The Aquatic Experience show starts soon!  It is an event well worth checking out.  (www.aquaticexperience.org)  I will have a booth, so please stop by and say hello.  I will be promoting the Stock Shop website, and will have four display aquariums set up with some cool rare fish to see.  I will be selling the Repashy and Ted’s Most Excellent gel foods, and the Paradigm freeze dried foods while I am there.  But I will not be bringing a lot of fish for sale.  The display fish can be purchased, but not taken home until Sunday afternoon.  I will bring pre-sold fish for pick up, however, so if you want me to bring something for you, I will!  Just place an order through the Stock Shop, choose the ‘pick up’ shipping option, and let me know in a message with the order to bring the fish to the show.  Please note that I will be packing fish on Thursday morning, so plan to pick the fish up on Friday afternoon if possible… or Saturday at the latest.

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TedsFishroom Difference

I was very nervous about making this video…  Some friends of mine were sitting around the fish room talking about fish, and the discussion took turn towards all the things that I do associated with selling fish.  Two of my guests were customers from out of state who drove up for a visit.  They were really grilling me on quarantine, sources, my trips to meet suppliers, packing, feeding…  I started to wonder if I had done something wrong!  After about two hours one of them said to me, ‘why aren’t you telling people all of this?’  I did not have a good answer.

They started to make a list of all the things that they called the ‘TedsFishroom Difference’, and encouraged me to make a video.  So I did.  I also sat on this video for a while, because talking about myself in such a direct manner is uncomfortable to me.  I showed it to the guys who were pushing me to make this video, and they said, ‘perfect!’  So here it is… The TedsFishroom Difference.

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Iquitos, Peru – Part 1

Here is the first installment from last month’s trip to Iquitos, Peru.  The purpose of the trip was to get our feet wet with visiting Iquitos.  We have every intention of going back, hopefully more than once each year.  So this trip was pretty loosely planned out, and we scheduled out days based upon what was available to us.  This first video is about our first foray out into the city to look at fish sellers.  The video specifically shows the aquarium of my main supplier in Peru.  Enjoy….

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