Brine shrimp hatching a success

The Brine shrimp hatched successfully. It took two days immersed in water at a temperature of 28 C under a bright light in a plastic drinks bottle with an air line.

They have not lasted long as I harvested most of them immediately to feed the fish in my community tank. Even the larger mature Platys and Guppies hoovered up the tasty snack. I had thought they may be too small for the larger fish to be interested in them but they all loved the tiny live food.

The remainder have been placed in the plastic water change tank with an air line and a tiny amount of bicarbonate of soda. I am hoping to grow some of them on to maturity using Spirulina powder as a food source.

If this experiment is unsuccessful I can always hatch more Brine shrimp and try again until I produce a constant live food source for the fish.


Lowering the PH

Today has been very eventful for my fish. They have had peat introduced to their community tank both in the filter and partially dissolved in the replacement water during the water change. I was worried about stressing or shocking them but decided drastic action was required.

I calibrated and replaced the batteries in my digital pH meter yesterday as I wasn’t altogether happy with the test strips and how vague the readings were. I was shocked to discover the pH of our tap water was above 8. It used to be around 7. I then tested all my tanks, the breeding tank read the highest at almost 9 with the water change tank coming close to the tap pH around 8. The larger empty tank was higher too. The community tank that is occupied by all of my fish just now and overcrowded was at 7.1 yesterday but had climbed 0.4 up to 7.5 by today. This could have put my fish into shock and the Tetras did appear to be suffering. They were a much paler in colour than usual.

I took action to try and bring the pH down a little. I added peat to a filter and placed it in the tank but there was no immediate change after several hours so I then crushed the peat balls into the water change tank to bring it down in pH, measuring it constantly until I got to 7.1, then I did a water change that resulted in lowering the pH by 0.2 back down to 7.3. The Tetras began to look a little healthier almost immediately but having just measured the pH again tonight it appears to have climbed by 0.1 now up to 7.4. This will most likely be due to the buffers naturally present in the water.

I believe that the very high KH reading in the breeding tank was possibly down to boiling the water first. According to the test strips our tap water is soft with lower GH and KH readings but I have already decided the test strips cannot be trusted and are unreliable as they did not pick up on the pH fluctuations the same way my digital meter did. If I am to have any faith in the readings I got then the tap water should be adequate for the Tetras and breeding them. Boiling the water certainly hasn’t helped my breeding tank parameters at all. It just sky rocketed the KH and pH readings.

Lowering the pH in the community tank will be tricky as it is occupied and the shock if I get it wrong could prove fatal to my fish. It will need to be done gradually over time using water changes twice weekly and only lowering it by 0.1 at a time. The other tanks should be easier to adjust but will need to match the community tanks parameters very closely when introducing the fish to them and the cycling of the tank will also bring about fluctuations.

The good news is the higher pH is perfect for hatching my Brine shrimp which is happily bubbling away in a plastic drinks bottle submerged in empty larger tank. I adjusted the heater to raise the temperature and it is directly under the lights which have been left on throughout the night recently to stimulate the aquatic plant growth. I rinsed the filter from the community tank earlier in the empty tank to make sure some of the bacteria needed for cycling would be introduced. So hopefully I will be feeding my fish live freshly hatched Brine shrimp within the next couple of days.

The experiment begins again

I decided to overhaul the breeding tank again today and probably a good thing too as I noticed immediately that the heater was no longer working. I ordered a new one and set to work taking out the loose Java Moss and emptying the water out, it was at room temperature 20 °C. I knew that even if there had been Tetra eggs in the tank, they would in no way be viable given the conditions in the tank. Not only were the water parameters all wrong but now the water was also far too cold.

This prompted me to check the temperatures of my two larger tanks. Both were a stable 25 °C. It is my goal to cycle the empty larger tank using a handful of Platys and Guppies as they seem so much hardier than my Tetras. I will try to keep the water parameters between the two tanks as similar as I can until I remove the Livebearers and introduce the Tetras and Otos. At this point I will have to try and control the water parameters in both the breeding tank and larger Tetra tank keeping them as close as I can whilst attempting to lower the PH and hardness of the water slowly to produce viable conditions for spawning and raising fry.  This is so the the breeding pair of Tetras don’t have too much difficulty adjusting to the breeding tank.

Should I succeed in raising Artemia as a food source, I will condition them with the live food in advance of placing them in the breeding tank.

So the experiment starts all over again, this time there will be some differences in how it is done. The live food source, introduction of peat and rigorous testing will be the new methods applied. I will keep the sides of the tank covered and dark as I did before. The tank will be disinfected and cleaned with white vinegar, rinsed well and filled mostly with water that has been boiled. I will monitor the water parameters very closely this time, aiming for soft slightly acidic but stable water. I may well add the peat sponge filter and even some peat balls to the substrate to adjust the parameters as naturally as I can. I will only add the Java Moss to the breeding tank after it has been under bright light for several days and is growing well. The Java Moss will be rinsed well and checked very carefully for any snails or snail spawn in advance of adding it.

I will add my pair of Neon Tetras after the tank has been continually monitored and tested and appears to be stable as softer water is more prone to fluctuations that could prove fatal to my fish. Once I am convinced the breeding tank is stable and at the correct levels it will be time to try and induce spawning again. This will be my second serious attempt and hopefully will prove easier now that I have the means of testing and adjusting the conditions. It could take some time though to create the perfect conditions and patience will be needed. So wish me luck.

Water Testing

Well my water conditioner, testing strips, infusoria culture and spirulina arrived yesterday.

So I duly tested the water in all three tanks and the Chlorine levels all came back completely fine. So I haven’t added any water conditioner yet.The Nitrate and Nitrite Levels in the lesser established larger tank and breeding tank were nominal, both of these tanks are empty of fish just now. I did do a partial water change in the mature tank as the levels were slightly raised but still not enough to cause any real harm to my fish. They were just high enough to show up on the lower range of the test strip.

It became a little more difficult when attempting to interpret the test results for the water hardness and PH. The results were a little confusing. It was difficult to ascertain which colour block on the chart was closest to that on the test strip so they were just giving me a very rough approximation or range to work with. The PH is around neutral and is within completely safe parameters in the two larger tanks but it is difficult to tell if it lies slightly acidic or slightly alkaline because the colour on the test strip looked as though it could be either.

The Carbonate hardness KH was in the low to mid range. Again difficult to say if it were around three or six percent, perfectly safe and unlikely to bother my fish much. The General hardness was what was really confusing though because it appeared to be high in my mature tank which would indicate I have hard water that is possibly more alkaline but the same test was inconclusive in my other two tanks because although the test strip had some brown indicating ok levels it also had a shade of green which is 0 level on the scale. You would expect the PH in these tanks to indicate soft acidic water which may be true in the case of the larger tank. The breeding tank Carbonate hardness shot up to the highest level on the scale and PH seemed slightly higher. I believe a definite water change is required in the breeding tank, if there were any Tetra eggs in there they are unlikely to have hatched in those conditions.

Testing the water doesn’t seem to have helped that much other than to reassure me that the parameters in my larger tanks seem perfectly healthy and safe for my fish at the moment. The test strips do not indicate a level for Ammonia which is a little disappointing. It may be an idea to invest in some that do.

The breeding tank does concern me a little. I spotted a snail in there today, it was probably introduced with the Java Moss. I haven’t started my infusoria culture as I couldn’t see anything that may resemble fry and it’s looking more and more likely that I need to overhaul the breeding tank and start again. I decided to leave it overnight though.

I placed the filter, bog wood and aquatic plants back in what used to be the Tetra tank and am leaving the lights on overnight just now to help establish the plants again. I boiled most of the water first before adding it but topped it up with water from the established community tank.

I gave my fish in the community tank a thin slice of cucumber to play with last night. This morning when I got up I noticed the middle had been eaten out of it. I have decided to experiment with different foods in an attempt to vary their diet even more. I am looking forward to raising Brine shrimp for them. It may help with breeding the Tetras and will benefit all of my fish.


Bristlenose Catfish is digging in the gravel

My Bristlenose has been rearranging the gravel in my tank the last couple of days. I decided to look at posts in online fish forums regarding this and it doesn’t appear to be that uncommon. He is just trying to find comfy hiding spots and possibly practicing for a future breeding cave. He already has two rock caves to choose from in the tank not to mention a huge piece of bog wood to burrow under but clearly they won’t do for my fussy male. What is interesting is that he is doing this with no possibility of mating yet.

He is about a year old now and fully mature but I do not have a breeding partner for him. It is my desire to get him one but I wanted to wait until the new much larger tank is established. The problem I have is that they are extremely difficult to sex when they are sold as young fry. The bristles have not formed yet and they seem to be the key indicator in determining gender. I could buy another young Bristlenose and discover a few months later that I have another male.

With a fourth tank on the way however I could potentially get two which would improve my odds slightly. I really do want a female though and absolutely cannot keep keep two males in the same tank. I have learned this through my own costly negligence and experience. They are territorial and will fight to the death even at a very young age, yet they are completely at ease with other species of algae eaters such as the Ottocinclus.

I have seen many rarer types of Bristlenose and have been wondering if he would breed with one that looked quite different to himself. He is the common mottled brown variety with golden markings but I would love a black and white or even red one. Breeding the Bristlenose could be yet another future project, who knows I may even have more luck with them than I have had with my Neon Tetras.

Learning to hatch Brine shrimp

If I do have Neon Tetra eggs that could produce fry the difficulty will be in providing them with enough microscopic food to grow them. There will already be some present in the breeding tank but it will not be enough for several days. I have ordered an infusoria culture and kit to help with this but as soon as they are big enough most breeders recommend feeding them newly hatched Brineshrimp or”Artemia” as it is called. An order of Artemia eggs and salt mix should be on it’s way now. I could have bought them already hatched suspended in water and was tempted to do so but would like to learn how to hatch them myself. They are a fantastic first food for fry and my other adult fish will love them too if I manage to grow some on a little.

It is possible to get a hatching kit that includes everything but the air pump, again tempting but discovered many people use homemade kits using an old plastic drinks bottle. As I am all for recycling and saving money wherever possible I have decided to give it a go. So I will need to thoroughly rinse and disinfect a drinks bottle. I will then place the egg and salt mix inside and top it up with water and place an airline in attached to the pump only,(I read no airstones several times in the course of my research). The bottle will need to be left in the sun or near a heater and light for a day, as they need heat and light to hatch.They should hatch after about a day, it can be done faster at a higher temperature. Growing the Artemia to a large enough size for the adult fish to relish will be the tricky part, like the fry they need clean water and microscopic nutrients to grow them on.

So I am about to embark on yet another experiment. The live food produced will help condition my adult fish for breeding and feed any fry I may have been lucky enough to hatch. Wish me luck.

Breeding the Neon Tetra

My pair of Neon Tetras are now in the overcrowded community tank with all of my other fish. I need to start again with the Tetra community tank after the mishap with my Emperor Tetra and will probably place some Platys in there first to help cycle it properly before putting the Tetras and Otos back in it. The Platys seem a bit hardier and more resilient.

I removed the cover over the breeding tank this morning like I have every morning for the last four days, allowing the natural daylight in through the front of the tank. The female Neon Tetra hasn’t been very active over the last couple of days. The Male was still circling her every now and then but not chasing her. I was worried that their inactivity was down to a lack of food so I placed a small amount of flake food in the tank. I am now regretting this because it is likely to rot and affect the water quality. I noticed that the female was trying to eat the food that had fallen to the tank floor but that the male wouldn’t let her. It seemed like he was attacking her. I decided a move to the more mature community tank would do them both good and placed them in there.

I tried to examine the breeding tank quite closely bearing in mind it’s quite dark just now even with a little daylight getting into it. To my surprise I saw what could potentially be eggs on the gravel in the spot where I had observed the female hovering. They were tiny and barely noticeable. I immediately covered the tank again hoping that it really is Neon Tetra eggs but all to aware that it could turn out to be snail spawn or food waste or some other microscopic form of life. I cannot allow myself to get too excited about it just now having been disappointed so often in the past. The light that I allowed in earlier in the day and the flake food could seriously affect their viability if they really are eggs. It’s now just a waiting game. The mystery of the small specs in the gravel will reveal itself in the fullness of time. If I am to have any success at all I must be patient and allow the tank to remain in complete darkness for a few days. If it does turn out to be tiny snails I can always try again after they have been eradicated.

Breeding the Neon Tetra

Day 3 of Inducing Spawning

It is perhaps time to see this experiment as yet another failed attempt. My Neon Tetras have been in their breeding tank for 3 days now. I have added very little food as I wanted to keep the breeding tank free of rotting waste for any fry that may appear. The tank has no filter but partial water changes have been performed daily and still there is nothing to get really excited about. The real question is “what do I do now?”. Do I leave them in the breeding tank but introduce the peat, charcoal and sponge filter along with some food or do I place them in my currently overcrowded community tank and leave the breeding tank to mature a little more with the prospect of trying again in a couple of weeks time.

At the moment the female tetra is hovering above the Java Moss in one place. The male whose colouring seems darker than usual (almost royal blue as opposed to the turquoise stripe in the female) is still swimming around the tank and occasionally disturbing her. Is this part of the normal spawning cycle or are my fish stressed and unlikely to do so.

Any advice or suggestions on this would be greatly appreciated.


The Big Day

The big day has finally arrived. I ordered the tank I have been dreaming about for years today. I am very excited about it. A huge thank you to my mum for making this possible. A 250L aquarium will enable me to have the larger community tank I have always wanted. It will bring the total number of aquariums in this house to four but will be by far the most superior. Along with the increase in capacity it will bring with it so many new and exciting possibilities.

It will take a while to get established, gravel and a variety of aquatic plants will be on my shopping list long before any new fish are introduced to it. I eagerly await the day it does become home to an even greater variety of fish though. Don’t think my smile could get any broader right now.

Loss of an Emperor

Yesterday was not a good day. I discovered one of my Emperor Tetras deceased and floating upon the surface of their community tank also shared by my three otos.

Upon further observation I noticed that all the Emperor Tetras had lost most of their colouring and were very pale and sick looking. My Otos had shoaled together and were hiding behind the filter not something they usually do if they are happy. They also didn’t look as healthy and plump as they usually would. I couldn’t see all of the Emperor Tetras either as some of them were hiding too.

I can only assume the water quality was so bad it was poisoning them. The tank had been completely overhauled over a week ago.The plants had not reestablished themselves yet and there was a lot of decaying plant matter in the tank I noticed. I immediately did a partial water change with water from my established Live bearer community tank but was still concerned as the levels had obviously been fatal for one of my fish at least. They didn’t appear to be recovering quickly enough. So I stressed the poor things even further by attempting to capture them and placed them in my Live bearer tank. Possibly the best thing I could have done for them in fact because within minutes of being introduced to the better established tank the Emperor Tetras had their colours back and the Otos were behaving better, happily ignoring each other and grazing in different areas of the tank.

So a speedy intervention was required but why?  There are a couple of different factors that could be at work here and both would poison my fish. One theory is the cycling process was not mature enough and that when the tank was overhauled not enough of the friendly bacteria needed to break down ammonia was introduced back into the tank. My next theory is that the change from chlorine to chloramine in our water supply poisoned them. I never used a water conditioner in my tanks before because the chlorine would disperse just from allowing it to stand for 48 hours before adding it to my tanks. The chloramine however will not. I got round this with the breeding tank by boiling and aging my water but had not done so with the larger Tetra community tank. I have since done many hours research into chloramine which has told me this is highly toxic to my fish. I have now purchased water conditioner and testing strips. Although I am a big fan of doing things as naturally as possible and not adding lots of different chemicals to my tanks, it appears I cannot afford to be complacent with the recent change in our water supply.