Welcome to My Fishroom

This video is the first in a series of blogs about my fish room.  This one is a quick look at the room and a preview of the segments that I plan to add to the blog.  I have no idea how many videos I will add to the series.  I will start with the basics:  insulating the room, adding electricity, the air sytem, racking, etc.  I will also produce some videos about how the tanks are filtered, how I go about doing water changes, making and using R/O water, growing live foods and whatever I else I can come up with.  Feel free to make suggestions.

When we were looking for a house, my wife concerned herself with things like closet space, the washer and drier hookups, local schools and the distance of her daily commute (I only need to go as far as the basement).  She went on the tour of the house.  I went in search of the fish room.  The basement was completely unfinished.  Bare cement walls and floor, and all the household machinery (furnace, water heater, etc…) are all located in one corner of the room.  There is a utility sink and a sewer clean-out in the floor that can double as a floor drain.  The only flaw I could see was that it is not a walk-out basement.  No room is perfect.

We closed on the house in early September and the room had its first racks operating by the end of October.  During that time I added three 20 amp breakers to the room, insulated the walls, installed an air system and build fish racks.  What you see in this video is the current arrangement after five years in operation.  The room looks quite a bit different that it did at first (I did a big remodel last August).

The first thing I did when building the room was to build the framing for the insulated walls and then wire the additional electrical circuits.  The next video will cover electricity, which is probably one of the LAST things people think about when building a fishroom… but it should really be one of the first!

Honey gouramies!

Colisa sota, the honey gouramie, is one of my all-time favorite fish.  Peaceful, small (but with attitude), colorful and intelligent.  The fish in this video are third generation in my fish room.  The male is tending a nest, and the fry from this spawn are now large enough to sex out.  I gave the pair in the video to a friend who wanted to try spawning them, so when the fish I have now breed they will produce a 5th generation.  This species must be genetically robust, because all I have ever done is spawn a single pair to get a new generation to work with and I have not seen any indication of reduced vitality in the line or any deformities.  My original pair, four years ago, were wild-caught fish.  I see this species infrequently in fish stores, but when they are there the price is reasonable and the quality looks pretty good.  This is a good species to work with if you want to try spawning a gouramie.

Julidochromis regani… pair?

A friend of mine, Rick, recently sold his house and will not be able to set up his new fish room until after his new home is built.  I do not look forward to the day when I have to tear down my fish room.  Lots of work… and a depressing chore to boot!  I offered to keep a few of Rick’s fish for him until he can get set back up, and one of the species he has deposited with me is the Lake Tanganyika cichlid Julidochromis regani.  Rick brought a colony of six fish over, and I pulled out these two fish to keep separately as, I hope, a breeding pair.  Rick has had the fish for a couple years, but had never seen a spawn.  The larger of these two fish is pretty robust, and based upon some research I think that it is a female.  Apparently, the females of this species that get larger and thicker.  I chose the largest of the more slender specimens, that was also very colorful, in hopes that it is a male.  The last clue that they may be a pair is that they get along.  The larger ‘female’ tolerates the smaller ‘male’, and they often forage together in the front area of the tank (where I can actually see them).  All of the other Julidochromis species I have fight all the time, so I have to assume that if they are not breeding they would be fighting.  Please take look and let me know if you think that these two fish at least have the potential to form a pair.  Are they at least male and female?

Dambas and Eels

The largest aquarium I keep is a 110-gallon with a semi-aggressive community of fish.  There are two species of dambas from Madagascar that I brought home from the ACA 2010 convention:  Paretroplus keineri and P. maculatus.  I really like the P. keineri.  It is a small species with an interesting mottled color pattern with red highlights on their faces.  They look like they have red noses!  P. maculatus is larger and more aggressive.  I had two, but the remaining specimen badgered the other so much that I found it a new home.  He does not bother the P. keineri, however, which are significantly smaller.  There are also two large eels from west Africa, Mastacembelus nigromarginatus.  I have had these eels for almost four years, and I have become very attached to them.  Eels have great personalities.  The other fish in the tank include some Cryptoheros cutteri cichlids, a group of panda barbs (Puntius fasciatus) and some giant danios (Devario malabaricus), all of which are dithers/targets for the dambas and eels.  The tanks is actually quite peaceful, and is one of the tanks I will watch for long periods of time.  Enjoy…

Xystichromis sp. ‘Kyoga Flameback’

I bought this colony of cichlids from a local club member, Pat, who had been trying to find homes for all the offspring she raised out.  I do not know what it is about Lake Victoria – type cichlids.  Either you are really into them or they are not the first fish that comes to mind when you are stocking a new tank.  I am not sure why they are not more popular, because they are very pretty.  Their color patterns are definitely unique.  I cannot think of another group of cichlids with the same combination of primary colors and distinctive black markings.  That is especially true for the dominant male of this colony.  The colony consists of two males and four females in a 40-breeder aquarium.  The tank is filtered with a Poret foam wall that is air driven.

About the header art…

Most of us do not like to look at imperfect pictures.  Many of the photographs I take are not very good.  These imperfect images, however, look pretty good when converted into a ‘work of art’ using a filter in PhotoShop.  I am not a painter, and I do not claim to be able to make these ‘paintings’ in the actual media that they mimic.  But I like them, and I hope you do to.  A perfectly good use for an imperfect picture!

Lepidiolamprologus hecqui with fry

One of the Lake Tanganyika communities in my fish room combines a small colony of Tropheus duboisi and a pair of Lepidiolamprolugus hecqui.  The L. hecqui is a really cool shell-dwelling lamp that does not get as large, or as nasty, as the more familiar Lepidiolamprologus species (L. kendalli, for example).  I started with six of them, but a pair quickly established their dominance and I had to remove the others.  This video is from the pair’s first spawn.  I will shoot a new clip soon to show how much they have grown in the past six months.

Minnesota Zoo – Sea Dragons

This clip from the Minnesota zoo shows a large aquarium with both leafy and weedy sea dragons.  I have not seen a tank with both species together before.  The leafy dragons were so active that I did not notice the weedy dragons right away.  Photographers note… there are no rules at the Minnesota Zoo limiting the use of flash photography.  Unfortunately the tank is acrylic, so shooting is not easy to do without a slave or remote flash.  My favorite part of this video is when three leafy dragons group together.

Minnesota Zoo – Coral Reef Aquarium

This is one of the nicest reef aquariums I have ever seen in a large zoo.  The curator dedicates a lot of time maintaining it, and his effort really shows.  I do not know enough about coral reefs to really comment much… so enjoy.

Minnesota Zoo – Reef Fish Tank

The Minnesota Zoo has a really nice aquarium area.  One of the tanks is a reef fish tank that is packed with fish.  When Matthew and I visited with our friend, Ken Balfanz, in the Fall of 2010, we were given a tour of the facilities.  One of the highlights was being on hand when this big aquarium was being fed.  Notice the albino sharks!  They were born in this tank, and are apparently quite rare.