Juergen Krespick’s Fishroom

Juergen Krespick is one of the founding members of the Motor City Aquarium Society, and has been active in the aquarium hobby for over 40 years.  He was my host while visiting the club, so I had the chance to hang out with him for a while and get a good tour of his fish room.  This is one of the nicest rooms I have ever been in, and Juergen should be very proud of it.  Enjoy!

Fantastic Fins… a Fantastic Store!

I had a chance to visit this store in early March while in Detroit to give a talk at the Motor City Aquarium Society.  There are not many stores like this around any more, and it is good to know that having a fish shop with a huge variety of cool and rare species is even possible these days.  Fantastic Fins is working on getting a website up, so until I can post a link for them this contact information will have to do:

Fantastic Fins – 38313 Ann Arbor Rd., Livonia, MI 48150   fanfins@aol.com

Chris, one of the owners, says that he will ship fish.  I am sure he or Dale (the other owner) can provide a list if you email them.

Aquatic Environments

I spent last weekend as the guest of the Quad City Fish Keepers club and presented a talk at their swap meet.  The turn out was great!  Thank you to everyone who came out to support the club.  While I was in town I was able to visit three fish rooms and a great aquarium store.  I will being posting blog entries on all of them.

Here is the video I shot in the store, Aquatic Environments, which is one of the nicest shops I have ever seen.  Their marine selection is incredible.  The reef tanks that they sell out of are nicer than many display tanks I have seen!  The owner was generous to sponsor my talk at the QCFK event, and donate a 75 gallon tank, top and stand for raffle.  The Davenport area is lucky to have such a nice place to shop in.

Ted’s Fishroom – Electricity

The third installment of my fish room series talks about the basics of electricity when setting up a room.  There are two basic concepts to consider.  First, make sure that there is enough capacity in the room to meet projected needs.  Second, take steps to reduce the energy consumption of the room.  Electricity is the most expensive consumable in a fish room.  I know more than a few people who have been caught by surprise by a higher-than-expected electricity bill after turning on a new rack of tanks.  As with anything, there is a way to go cheap and a way to go expensive.  When it comes to electricity, however, paying up front for more energy-efficient equipment (air pumps, space heaters, appliances and especially lights) will earn their money back in energy savings.

Cichlids and Swords 2

Here is the new video of the same tank with H. tamasopoensis and X. montezumae.  The current is generated by a 2400 gph circulation pump (Aqueon) embedded in the Poret foam filter (it is in the hole you can see in the middle of the wall).  That pump really churns up the water!  The movement of the grass plants indicates the current, but when the food appears in the video you can get a really good idea of how fast that water is flowing.  The tank looks very natural to me, and the fish are thriving.

There is a pair starting to develop amongst the cichlids.  The dominant male has taken up residence under the larger rock in the center of the pile.  His female is smaller and is starting to get the black markings that will show that she is spawning.  Right now the black in on her ventral fins and her breast, but the color should expand on her body a lot.  The other cichlids are not being harmed by the pair, but they are also spread out to the far corners of the tank!

Most of the swords were much smaller when I got them last September.  The old male is starting to look really old, but the younger male is starting to come into his prime condition.  Some of the females look gravid, and I will be removing them before they drop their fry so that the cichlids will not get them.  Eventually I would like to see at least 2x this number of swordtails in the tank.

Chromidotilapia melaniae

This species is not common in the hobby.  My fish came from the Vienna Zoo and Anton Lamboj in 2009.  The fish in the video are the remaining male and two females from the original group of five.  The have produced fry a few times, but have not had a successful spawn in several months.  I have a few growing up that are close to spawning size, and I have distributed a few dozen around.  If you have some of this species that came from my fish room… get them breeding, because who knows if we will ever see it again!

Hopefully we will see wild fish in a little over a month.  C. melaniae is one of our target species for the trip we are taking to Gabon in February.  There are a few other Chromidotilapia species we are hoping to find as well, and my goal is to bring back as many species of this genus as I can.  The rainbow in the tank is Chilatherina fasciatus ‘Faowi Village’, a really nice larger species that makes a good tank mate for larger, semi-aggressive cichlids.

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!

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.