My Experience with Kissing Gourami Fish


The commonly sold Kissing Gouramis are a beautiful and graceful variety of fish because of their shape and glossy pinkish white hue. They are semi aggressive fish. Their mouth is just like the name describes - designed to kiss off algae and other micro stuff from surfaces. Well, while you may think that this fish will clean up your tank, you are wrong. Its no where close to a sucker fish. The food content found on most aquarium walls, may surprisingly, not be of much interest to your Kissing Gourami. I speak this from experience.

I have always failed with these fish, as they always ended up getting weak, sickly, thin and then eventually dying. I used to keep these fish in community tanks containing goldfish, convict cichlids, angels, live bearers etc. The sad thing is, that these fish would never last. Their health would deteriorate over time and then they would die.

I would wonder as to why am I always failing with these fish. So I decided to observe this fish more closely. I purchased one from the local fish shop and put it in my pond. I fed it the regular pellets. Upon looking closer, I noticed the difficulty it faced in swallowing the pellets. I decided to overlook it, as I assumed that it will learn to swallow them in time. But even after a considerable amount of time, I found that this fish would simply spit out the pellets. It just couldn't swallow big stuff.

So I decided to try out something different. I took a portion of the pellets and gowned it to fine powder. I started feeding it powdered pellets. The powered form of pellets mostly floats at the surface forming a thin film. I saw that the kissing gourami drank it up like a smoothie. It was able to swallow the powdered form of food. In few days, it gained health, size and attitude. It even picked up fights with my Convict Cichlids, which tells you how well this fish benefited from powdered fish food.

So from all this, I have learnt that Kissing Gouramis cannot survive on big chunks of fish food. They however, thrive on powder based fish foods. If you got a kissing gourami, then do try this out and see for yourself.

Check out my eBook on The Convict Cichlid
It provides lots of valuable information on Convicts and other fish in general.

Setting Up A Low Maintenance Aquarium



Everyone love to have a beautiful aquarium sitting in their living room or bed room to get the privilage of viewing it. But most people don't realize the importance of maintainance. Poor or improper maintainance can lead to higher mortality of your fish. Everyone is busy with other things in life, that pulls them away from the responsibility of their fish. So how do we fix this problem? How can you maintain healthy fish with minimum maintainance?

Here are some simple and basic tips:

1) Get a big aquarium. The bigger, the better. The reason being, larger volumes of water tend to fluctuate less in ph, ammonia and temperature. This eliminates the sudden shocks that your fish experience due to drastic chemical and temperature changes.

2) Keep minimum fish. The less fish, the better. Each individual fish releases waste products which pollutes the water. The more fish you add leads to more pollution to the water. In addition to polluting the water with their waste, they also utilize the dissolved oxygen, thus reducing the oxygen content in water.

3) Keep small fish. The smaller, the better as small fish have lower demands of food and produce less bio-waste. Small fish like tetras, guppies, dwarf gouramis etc. are best.

4) If keeping bigger varieties like gouramis, angels, tigers etc. you will need to keep very few of these. The bigger the fish, the lesser the number.

5) Install a few sponge filters in your aquarium. The more, the better as there is more surface area for nitrifying bacteria to grow on.

These filters can be cleanced once in 3 months. If your using power heads, you will need to clean them more often as they tend to clog up real fast.

6) If your water source is not chlorinated, you can setup a drip and overflow system. Believe me, this is the king of automation and can totally eliminate your having to maintain your aquarium. In a drip system, there are two holes in your tank on either side. One hole is for the water to fill, which is higher at the top and the other is for the excess water to overflow. Pipes are used to divert water and there are lots of other tools and accessories that help in this setup. Be sure to regulate the water input to as low as a couple of drops per second. I'll write more on this in another article.

7) Feed minimal. If you notice food wastage post 5 minutes, reduce the food.

Hope this helps. If you like this article, be kind enough to share it on facebook or any other social media.

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Magnetic Removable Wall Posters of your favourite fish (High Demand)
https://displate.com/bradfordr/fish?art=5caef6745c288

Aquarium Fish Deserve A Better Life

Over the years I have kept many fish and goofed up many times in many ways. I'm not saying that I'm an expert now. Life is about learning from mistakes and not repeating them. I have bred many varieties of fish from gouramis to cichlids and guppies to goldfish and realized things like, whats the point of adding extra lives when so many keep getting lost? Whenever your fish spawn, you get hundreds to thousands of extra fish which will grow and demand more food and space and produce more bio load. Majority of them die for various reasons. Where I am at, selling fish is a waste of time and trouble, besides the sad thing is that, while you might get a few bucks in hand, the fish end up in some newbie's hands who does not know how to care for it. So, to keep it short and sweet, I have stopped breeding fish and am focused to giving those which I already have an excellent life. I am focusing all my resources to ensure they are happy. I have very few cichlids and others widely spread out in 400 liter tanks and they have all the space they need to move around without bumping into one another. So, I'm not saying that this is the end of my hobby, but rather the beginning or an improvement to the hobby.

Please voice your comments on this subject here and if you like this post, kindly share it.

Cheers!

Like this article? Kindly check out my book - The Convict Cichlid.
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Let Nature Help You Maintain Your Aquarium

New Trick - Keeping Many Aggressive Convict Cichlids Together


aggressive cichlids cannot be kept together as adults as they will literally kill eahother. you can keep them together as babies, but as they begin to grow, you will notice their agresion toward eachother. upon reaching aulthood, they will not even stand the presence of one another. the very sight of another imilar sized adult cichlid will make their blood boil. cishlids are territirial fish and need a lot of pace from eachother. if you keep many adults together, they will establish a pecking order. they will target one at a time and kill eachother. its more like a last man standing game.

but today im going to share with you an amazing trick that has worked for me. i have got dozens of adult convict cichlids together in one tub. the tub isn't even that big. the magic is worked by a thick vegetative mass of hydrilla verticillata, an invasive aquatic plant species. ydrilla provides multiple benifits to the convict cichlids like refuge from eachother, shade from the sun, a safe feeling which i important for fish health and development, water conditioning, removal o ammonia and nitrates etc. the filh will thrive even without waterchanges for a month.

a huge dense mass of this plant prevents these fish from targeting eachother and causing stres tyo eachother. even though in cloe proximity to one another, they are unable to affeciently attack eachother. after uing this trick, i have noticed a drastic improvement in hunger health and growth. they tart to grow to wild sizes like you never see in aquariums. they start to feel more like they are in the wild.

now that i have spoken about this idea and you have got the whole concept of thi, i will explain how to succesfully set this up without failure.


  1. Make sure you have a large volume of plants in the aquarium before you introduce the fish. if you have just a tiny amount of hydrilla, you cannot easly get t to establish in a tank full of many fish as it would not be able to handle the bio load and the fish will also damage the plant thu preventing it from growing. you will have to grow the plat separately till it increases to a significant amount with a few fish first. remember that the plant should be the dominating thing in the tank. the plant should roughly cover 80% of the aquarium. the fish will learn to move effeciently amoung the dense forest.
  2. Light - Sunlight is one of the best light for all plants, but if your house does not get sunlight, you can use white ddaylight tubelight or cfl. hydrilla is not too fusy about light and will do quite well under a white cfl or tube. nowdays you get submerable lamps which is actually a t4 tube encased in a waterproof glass capsule. you can sim ply throw in a submersable and leave it afloat among some hydrilla and watch the plant utilize as much light as possible from it and growing.
  3. Maintainance - Once or twice in a month some water changes will be good. make sure you remove the exces plant mass. you need to leave some place for the fish. you might also need to sometimes wash the plants as a lot of dirt may attach to the leaves if you use airstones. you can simpley remove the plants and spray some water on them and put them bak. there are many ways you can do this.
  4. OXYGEN - A very important thing is oxygen. once hydrilla establishes a significant mass in the aquarium, it will drastically deplete oxygen levels at night. during the night the plant utilizes oxygen duing respiration. i would recommend a good bubble wand as long as posible although even a simple air stone will suffice. make sure the oxygen runs all time espeially at night as if it in't running at night, this can be detrimental to the fish.

Cheap LED Lighting for Aquariums and Planted Aquariums

After reading and researching about aquarium lighting and lighting for plants, I found that many speak in favor of cfl daylight being a reasonable source of quality light for aquariums and plant growth. Even though you get special grow cfl lights which are very expensive, one can do just fine with the regular daylight cfls which are used in regular house lighting. Daylight cfls emit a fair spectrum of light which is useful for plants. Whenever I visit shops, I notice them using fluorescent tube lights in their aquariums. Today with so much advancement in technology, people are using led lights for aquariums now. There are various led lighting systems available at fish shops, but they are very expensive and might not match the size of your aquarium. I live in India, a place where few cool things are available down the road. You have to go searching a lot for these types of things. So i decided to go DIY and make the most out of the stuff that is highly available.

I started to think about what led lights would be great for aquariums. LED bulbs and tubes which are designed for households emit the brightness and spectrum required for plants to grow in your aquarium. These things could easily fit into a pre-designed aquarium cover. Problem is, i do not have an aquarium cover and was not really inclined in wasting my time and money in creating one. I was wanting something as compact and simple as possible.

Waterproof LED Lights

Waterproof LED Lights
One day while checking out options at the lighting shop, i came across waterproof led lights of various colors to chose from. I went and bought myself a good amount of these and stuck them on a glass cover and placed it over my aquarium. I mixed red, green, blue, white and warm white to try and cover a wide light spectrum needed by plants. A nice option - The light was quite bright, the tank was lit up well, the plants were responding quite well to it. There was a major downside to this as these lights came as a bunch, so in order to evenly mix colors, I had to rewire them all and that took a lot of time and energy. Another downlide was that the sticker which is used to attach it on a surface gives up and the lights fall into the aquarium.

Pros


  • Cheap cost
  • Bright light output. The more you add to the panel, the more brightnes.
  • Many colors to chose from - Red, Green, Blue, White and Warm White when mixed, should be good for plants.
  • Waterproof
  • Safe even if they fall in the water.

Cons

  • Sticker used for attaching led to surface is not reliable and gives up. Once attached, its messy to remove as sticker glue doesn't come out easily.
  • If you decide to rewire them to mix light colors, its a lengthy task.
  • Ugly wires takes up lots of space on the panel.

Strip Lights

I tried led strip lights too. You get the waterproof version of these which are a bit more expensive. They come in various colors. They are easy to attach.


Now the downside here is the light intensity. The intensity wasnt enough. So i deccided to try something new. I was looking for cheap, yet powerful, highly luminous light sources with good cri (color rendering index). After searching I realized something amazing at the office. I noticed downlight led panel which was really bright. the brightness and quality of light produced by it was great too. So i decided to try it out in my aquarium. So I rushed to the shop and picked up a led downlight of 15 watts, 1000 lumins, daylight. I used pvc pipes to mount it atop my aquarium. I siliconed the light to the pipes to secure it. The light output was amazing and the plants started to release a large amount of oxygen bubbles. The entire aquarium was litup a great deal.
I do not find anyone talking about using these types of lights even though they are quite similar to cfl light, take up less power and give out more light and last longer. Besides the light is all focused in the right place, rather than getting wasted elsewhere. CFLs and tubelights give out a lot of wasted light in opposite directions which is a waste of good energy. downlights on the other hand focus all f the light down into the aquarium.
Here are some pics of what I have done. It is quite neat and compact and doesn't look ugly. If you find this article useful, you could perhaps use it in your setup.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM



Cheap Lights for Growing Aquatic Plants


I have tried a lot of simple low budget light combinations to get good results with growing aquarium plants and have come to a conclusion. Fluorescent lights are just a perfect for the job and are cheap. I would recommend going in for the reddish and bluish ones. I recommend adding a 50/50 of red and blue florescent light in your tank for good results. By doing that, you will get a purple ambiance in your aquarium. You can even add a daylight florescent tube for a brighter look and improved plant growth. The deeper the aquarium the more lights will be needed so that a significant amount of light reaches the plants.

The red light helps the plants develop roots and the blue light helps with stem and leaf growth.

Another thing to keep in mind is the type of fish you got with the plants. Avoid keeping fish that will harm the plants as that will greatly affect growth.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

What is stress and it's effect on fish?


A fish can get stressed out for many reasons. Aggressive tank mates, transporting, too much water current caused by power heads, poor water quality, disease, too much light, hitting the glass, lack of privacy in a transparent tank etc. are common causes of fish stress.
Stress directly affects the normal functioning of a fish. It's mental and chemical balance is affected making it prone to disease as the immune system gets weak. After prolonged exposure to stressful situations, a fish can develop chronic conditions, organs may malfunction or fail causing imminent death.

One example of fish stress is keeping 2 male convict cichlids together in one tank. They are territorial and aggressive in nature and will fight each other from time to time. In the wild, the loser runs away never to be seen again but in a fish tank, such a thing is not possible. This causes stress of the very presence of the dominant male. These fish may display signs of fear by sticking close to the surface of the water at the corners. Appetite may be affected too.

So please keep in mind the basic idea about fish stress while keeping fish and give them the best experience possible to make them happy and healthy.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

Danger of keeping large amount of fish together

It's never usually a good practise to have a large number of fish stocked up in a single tank. The reason for that is if any illness strikes, it strikes with a bang and can be more fatal than otherwise. Heavily stocked tanks are a perfect place for any disease to spread and thrive and persist which makes the disease more fatal than it actually is. Some examples are diseases like ick.
In situations like this, you should immediately reduce water level and start medicating with the right medicine for the problem with the correct dosage. Beware of overdose as that can easily kill your fish. Read the dosage and apply the right amount depending the volume of water in tank.
Do regular water changes. Make sure any dead fish are removed immediately.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

How i dealt with green water problem

My tank is located in a sunny spot as it's too big to be kept inside the house. I'm sure many of you too got your tanks or ponds in the open with no shade.
The sun along with its benefits brings along some problems too. Well I wouldn't quite say this is a problem as it does not affect the fish health, but it can be a nuisance to owners as they will not be able to admire their own pond or tank.

I'm taking about green water. Many call it green soup. This is known as phytoplankton which is a microscopic algae that does not attach to any surface but exists freely in the water and spreads super fast in certain conditions.

Phytoplankton are a natural water conditioner. They absorb the bad stuff from the water and multiply their mass. Thus the water is better conditioned for your fish.
But now I'm going to talk about the bad side. I personally like to admire my fish on a daily basis and if anything, even this kind of good stuff block my view, I consider it a problem. So here's what I did to bring this problem under control.


Breeding Convict Cichlids in Bulk in a Single Tank


Convict Cichlids are very aggressive fish and cannot be kept together. Especially when they begin to form pairs and raise young. This causes huge amount of stress to the tankmates. Here is a solution to your problem if you house many of these cichlids.

Place containers facing upwards inside your aquarium. They should be big enough for an adult pair of convicts to move around in. Its as simple as that. The pair will not take much time in finding it and making home there. You can use a glass bowl which will give you the privilage to view them spawn and raise their fry.

Do fish need space?

All living things need some space from one another. The more space, the better. I have observed that fish grow much faster if they are provided their own space. I have keep a single convict Cichlid baby in its own aquarium and it out grew all the others that were stocked together.

In my opinion, all living things have an energy field around them. With competitive species especially, the presence of a dominating companion will inhibit it's progress. Even though the fish may seem fine, at some level of its consciousness, it feels fear and stress in the presence of its competition. The results eventually show in its growth and health.

I raise convict Cichlid fry in a single tank together. But I won't be able to house them together for long. As they grow they need to spread out. Their requirement for personal space expands as they grow.

However this rule may not apply for schooling fish like Danios, tiger barbs, neons etc. These fish need to be in groups to function properly.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

What aquarium plants are easy to grow?


To my personal experience, hydrilla verticillata and duck weed are great plants that spread very quickly in your aquarium with reasonable light.

I have tried other types of plants but was never successful. I have always tried amazon sword but failed at all attempts. Whenever I got myself an amazon sword, it would get covered by algae and die.

Sometimes plants may compete with other varieties by releasing chemicals in the water which inhibit the growth of their competition.

If the water is too rich in nutrients, especially ammonia, although plants utilize ammonia as food, they will not grow if there's too much of it.

You need to balance things out with water changes. If you are dealing with too many fish and do not find much time to do water changes, you can use aggressive plants like duck weed or hydrilla. In fact, if you got fish that do not consume duck weed, then it would be a better choice to hydrilla. Even though hydrilla is an aggressive plant, I have witnessed it losing the battle against algae at times. Duck weed floats at the top. It's leaves float on the surface of water, so algae cannot cover that. Duck weed divides quickly and will soon cover your entire aquarium and deprive algae of light and nutrition.


How do Apple Snails Lay Eggs?

Apple snails lay eggs in clusters above the water. The eggs need to be in a humid environment to survive and hatch. They have a specialized way of delivering the eggs. Below is a little video that demonstrates the process.


The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

What to feed Convict Cichlid Fry

Well you got a pair of Convict Cichlids that have spawned and now yu will be wondering what to feed them. Most experts talk about feeding live feed like brine shrimp, micro worms, daphnia magna etc. to baby fish. So you would then be wondering as to where will you get all this stuff.

Here's the thing. If you are dealing with Convict Cichlid Fry, you need not bother yourself with all that hassle. You can simplify the whole thing by feeding them pellets. Yes! I did say pellets. The most common food people feed their fish. The same thing that most people feed the adult convict cichlids.

But theres one small difference here. Its the size of the pellet. I have visited many aquarium shops in search of readymade powdered food for fry, but its very scarce in supply. Now keeping in mind the size of the fry, you need to reduce the size of the pellet to fit in the fry's mouth. So I use a blender.

Steps - Preparing Powder dry feed for Convict Cichlid Fry


What to do if a tiny fish jumps out of your aquarium?

Many a times you may witness you little fish jump out of the aquarium and lands on the ground. In most cases, people might try to pick it up with their bare hands. But this is likely to fatally injure the animal due to its small size.

What to do?
  1. Sprinkle a little water over the fish's entire body to keep it moist.
  2. Take a piece of paper (printer or notebook paper is best) and place it flat on the ground, next to the fish.
  3. Take another piece of paper and gently divert the fish onto the other piece of paper.
  4. Once the fish lands on the piece of paper, carefully lift it up and quickly put it back into the aquarium.
This method will insure minimum to zero damage to your little fish.

If you are a beginner, be as patient as possible. Do not freek out in this situation. If its taking you some time to get this right, keep sprinkling water on the fish's body to buy more time. By all means, do not let the fish dry.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

Money Plant Indicates Water Quality


I would like to share one observation about the money plant. Many people keep money plants in water filled bottles. In the presence of good indirect sunlight, money plants will take roots.

Now I have tried establishing money plants atop my aquariums but they do not seem to take root even though there is good sunlight.

There could be many reasons for this like fish who damage the roots as they grow or in most cases, the water quality is too bad.

In general, plants do not like too much of nutrients. Excess of nutrients damage the roots.

Now here is what I observed. I had a money plant hanging over my aquariums in a pot. As they grew longer, one of them decided to send out roots into my discuss tank. I would say that the water quality of the discuss tank would be exceptionally good due to the heavy plantation in there. The majority of plants in there are duck weed. Aquatic plants purify aquarium water. The roots of the money plant went all the way down to the bottom.

Then one day I decided to do a bit of over feeding. I introduced a large amount of live tubifex worms. Now worms tend to reduce water quality to a large scale. So after introducing the large amount of worms, I noticed the roots turned upwards like as of they do not like the water anymore and want to get out. So the next day I did a 50% water change. I them observed the roots turned back down to the bottom. I repeated this again and the same thing happened.

So i drew a conclusion that the roots respond to the water quality. They will go freely all the way down if the water is good and they will bend upwards towards the surface if the water quality is bad. This is a great indicator.

This is the money plant that found its way into the aquarium

Notice the roots turning upwards. I have not done a water change here.
The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

Apple Snail Hatchery

I am sharing an idea that I'm using to hatch the eggs of my apple snails. It's monsoon time and all my snails are on full egg laying mode. The snails climb right out of the tank and lay their eggs anywhere on the walls of my house. So when I find the egg clusters I place them in my mini hatchery. Here are a few pictures that are self explanatory. They should give you a clear idea of my setup.

An egg cluster on the outside of my aquarium.

The snail ventured all the way out of the aquarium to lay eggs here.

Plastic funnel

I placed the egg clusters in the funnel in such a way making sure there is place for the babies to pass down the hole.

Side view

A closeup. If you notice, one of the clusters has already hatched.

Placing the funnel over the container. The container is filled with water and I have also introduced an air stone for little bit aeration.

As the snails hatch, they will crawl down the hole in the funnel and drop into the water filled container where they will grow.

An important thing to keep in mind, is that these clusters need to be in a humid environment. They will dry out in a dry environment. So I'm covering them with a lid to keep them most. I sprinkled a little water over them before covering them.

Covered with a little gap for air to come in. Even eggs need oxygen.

Just placed a little weight on top of the lid to prevent it from getting blown off by the strong winds.
The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

Feeding a bunch of young Convict Cichlids





Convict Cichlid fry are highly competitive fish. Notice in the video the size differences.



Now it is this size difference that is the problem especially when it comes to feeding tubifex worms. Tubifex worms comes in blocks which many attach on the glass of the aquarium. The anchorage does make it easy for the fish to tear at it. But if you notice, the big fish are the ones who get the most of it. The smaller fish get pushed away. Its very important to make sure that all your little fish are well fed in a raising tank. Hence when feeding dried tubifex worms, I will split the block in 2 or sometimes 3 pieces and spread it out, so that all get to eat.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

Attached Money Plant on top of Aquarium

Using a clip I have attached a cutting off a money plant on top of my aquarium to see how well it does. Many people keep money plant cuttings in water filled containers and this plant roots well in plain water. Hopefully this one should do the same here and grow.
Upon placing it in on my aquarium, I noticed that the snails were a bit hooked onto it but later on they lost interest.
I got a Clarias, Sucker and Rainbow Shark with tons of Apple Snails in this setup.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

How to Clean an Aquarium Power Filter

The Aquarium Power Filter is a very useful thing for maintaining good water quality. Its highly efficient as a mechanical filter and somewhat a good biological filter as well. Since the power head drives a large amount of water through the media in short periods of time, they can get clogged up real fast. This also depends on what type, or how many fish you got in there, and how much you feed them. Sometimes, in a totally messed up tank, it may need cleaning daily.

Cleaning an Aquarium Power Filter isn't difficult and will just take a few minutes. There are many designs of these filters and all of them can be opened up for maintenance. The part you will be dealing with mostly is the sponge, so you must know how to remove it and fix it back. Different designs have different ways of opening and select the type that you find easy to open while buying. You could also ask the shop keeper to give you a quick tear down on the unit before you buy it to make things simpler.

So now that you have got your brand new filter, here is how you maintain it in order to achieve good water quality. Follow the instructions here:

Step 1 - Power Off & Disconnect the Unit


Before you start with maintaining your filter, don't forget to switch off the power. Then disconnect the power chord from the outlet. This is a precautionary measure to avoid shock. Since your working in a wet place, dealing with electric appliances can be very dangerous and you don't want to take any chances.


Step 2 - Removing the Unit

Now the filter will be secured firmly onto the glass of your aquarium with the help of suction cups. Do not haphazardly force pull out the filter as this may damage the cups. Use your fingers and nails to scoop the cup a bit to stop the vacuum and gently pull out. This might take a bit of practice, but if your having difficulty doing this right, you could start by slowly pulling the unit out.Some filters come with a separate mounting bracket, so each time, you don't have to go through the hassle of removing the suction cups.

Step 3 - Removing the Sponge

Now, as mentioned earlier, each filter has its own design and hence has a different way of opening. If you had asked the shop keeper to demonstrate the tear down of your filter, by know you would have a fair idea on how to open the unit to access the sponge. To make things simple, your focus is on the lower part of the filter, which contains the media. So, the case holding the media is fitted below the power head. Some cases may need to be simply pulled out, for some there might be a notch holding it in place, so you might need some press and pull action to get it out while others may have a screw in and out mechanism which is the easiest to handle. So, when attempting this for the first time, be patient and handle your filter unit gently. It's not that difficult and eventually, you will figure it out. Once you have removed the media case, you can pull out the filter sponge.

Step 4 - Cleaning the Sponge

Now here's the main part of your aquarium filter maintenance process. Now that you have got the sponge out of the case, it time to rinse it. But, hold on! There are certain things you need to follow when rinsing the media. Firstly - Use aquarium water only to rinse it. Do not use tap water. Fill some aquarium water in a bucket and then rinse the sponge in that water. Then hold the sponge in the water and keep squeezing till you get off all that extra dirt. Don not over do this, as you will also loose valuable bacteria. The objective here is to get rid of the dirt that's clogging the media and not the bacteria. Even though, the cleaning process inevitably leads to some loss of good bacteria, that's nothing to worry about, as most of the bacteria hooks onto the media real firmly. By cleaning the sponge of all the dirt, this ensures a smoother flow of nutrient rich water throughout the sponge media, that provides food for the bacteria to thrive upon. Avoid cleaning the sponge too often, to avoid excess loss of good bacteria. Observe the water flow from your filter, and only if its reduced, then it means that its clogged up and needs cleaning. You can judge this by observing the air flow, if you have an air tube attached to the unit. Most filters come with this to increase aeration. The force of the water flow through the narrow outlet passage, sucks in air from the tube and into the water in the form of a fine bubble mist. Observing the amount of bubbles determines the force of the water flow and you can judge accordingly.

 Step 5 - Cleaning the Power Head

Cleaning the power head is not needed as frequently as the sponge media. Even though dirt does collect in the engine, it doesn't happen any fast. Without cleaning, it may take a few months, to accumulate, bad enough, to clog the engine. But you can prevent this by simply spraying water at the inlets of the power head to force out derbies. Spraying your power head whenever you clean the sponge is a good practice.

If your power head is clogged up badly, it add a great deal of load on the unit. This puts pressure on the coil and reduces the life considerably. In this case, you will need to open up your power head for some cleaning. Opening up your power head is not difficult at all. The power head is not a complex unit.

It consists of:
  1. The coil thats enclosed in a resin based tough enclosure that protects it from water.
  2. The magnetic rotor that comprises of the magnet that's mainly joined to the plastic fan to make it one piece.
  3. The steel rod around which the rotor is secured. On either sides of the rod, there might be rubber washers, to hold the rod firmly.
  4. The turbulence chamber. This is where the propeller forces water through.
These parts are easily detachable. When cleaning, all you will need to do is remove the propeller from socket and hose off the dirt. Also hose the chamber in which the propeller magnet sits. Look out for hair or strings that may tend to knot up the propeller. You do not have to take the propeller apart to clean it.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

Convict Cichlid Babies Eating Dried Tubifex Worms



Convict Cichlids love worms. One problem is that Convicts (especially babies) tend to be gluts and cannot judge when their stomach is full. Hence when over fed, they are likely to eat to the extent where their guts cannot handle the overload and they die.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

Convict Cichlid pair with fry and duck weed



This is another current video where my Convict Cichlid pair has spawned. I have placed this tank in my balcony where there is a lot of sun light. I'm using duck weed to improve water quality. This weed has increased a lot in less than a week. My objective is to have the surface covered up completely with this. I have added an air stone to compensate the night time loss of oxygen. Cichlids are known to consume Duck Weed but when over whelmed with this, they tend to lose interest.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

Hungry Filters Bad for Baby Fish

In the aquarium hobby, filters play a vital role in maintaining water quality. There are so many different types of aquarium filters to chose from. Many of them will make the water crystal clear so that you can enjoy the view of your aquarium. But the thing I want to talk about here is, "Are filters always a good thing? Do they have a dark side?".

Well, keeping fish for many years now, I have tried many different kind of filters. I have made my own DIY filters which did an excellent job. But this all changed when I had got a lot more tanks for breeding purpose. I found myself in a situation where I could not setup filters in all my aquariums. So I just got some air pump, tubes and threw in simple air stones in each of those tanks and stuck with the basic bi or tri weekly water changes. During water changes, I did not much care about the dirt at the bottom. I just used a mug to remove the bad water from the top and then added fresh water. I wasn't really looking for beauty as those were breeding tanks and raising tanks.

Well Fed Fry
I notied that the fish were more active in this type of a setup as compared to a filtered setup. They were more energitic and hungry most of the time. There was a recent bunch of fry that broke free in this simple filterless setup and started to grow faster than ever and the mortality rate dropped to about 5%. I took a closer look to find that the fry had their bellies full most of the time. (I used to powderize the pellets in the blender just for the fry). I notied that they were searching for food in the dirt that was lying at the bottom. Now I have read many places that there are lots and lots of fine critters and bacteria that reside in the dirt. (Note:- There was no substrate or gravel. The fish had full acess to everything in the tanks.) These fry were feasting on them and growing faster. I also believe that when the powder food settles at the bottom and the fish eat it, they consume a bit of the dirt too which ats as a pro biotic that helps with digestion.

Another thing to highligt here is Snails. I have got a lot of apple snails and always introduce a few to each tank to eat the left overs. I believe snails play a great role in improving water quality when kept in the right amount in an aquarium. Fish fry tend to benefit a lot from snails.

When I do water changes, I leave the dirt at the bottom and only siphon out the water from the top area. I know that this is the opposite to what most fish keepers do, but  I believe there is a lot of beneficial stuff present in the dirt to let go of. As a compensation for leaving the dirt intact, I do heavier water changes.

So, the whole thing here is dirt and simplicity. Fry love to dig into mess for food as compared to a filter induced barren desert, where food is only provided at a specific time. Fry need to have food 24/7 for best growth. They also appreciate aeration. So in short, if you are raising fry, avoid any type of filter, do water changes leaving the bottom dirt, feed powdered food and watch them grow. I even have a discus baby that growing rapidly in this setup.

The Convict Cichlid (Kindle Edition Ebook)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPN3ZYM

Managing Aquarium with Water Shortage

If you are facing water shortage, in the first place its not recommended to keep too many fish. The lesser you keep the better. Fish constantly produce waste in the water and reduce its quality, which is why water changes are necessary along with good filtration. In this condition, you will want to throw in some extra filters in your tank which are well established with good bacteria. You must make sure that the filters are cleaned on a periodic basis and don't over clean the media to avoid heavy loss of good bacteria. Also if your filters are powerheads, since you are introducing extra ones inside, try diverting the water through PVC pipes to prevent too much turbulence. you could also use some jumbo sized bio foam sponge filters. These are known to be the best in harboring loads of good bacteria.

Even though you may have a filter overkill to combat ammonia buildup in your aquarium, that doesn't rule out water changes. You still must do some water change on a weekly basis at the minimum. You could do a 50% change or could go for a 75% if possible. Try to avoid pushing this for more than a week.

Feed your fish less to avoid excess ammonia. If you find they are not eating properly, that means the water is bad. Probably the filter is clogged, or bio load is too much for it to handle. If you got the cash, go in for some ammonia test kit and test the water every 2-3 days.

So to make things simple, if you suffer from less water supply:
  1. Keep as less fish as possible.
  2. Keep small fish that don't pollute the water.
  3. Lots of filters - Use, power filters and sponge filters if your on a budget. If not, go for a canister that's designed for a tank bigger than yours. This is known as an over kill, but in a scarce water condition, this will be good thing.
  4. Feed less. It depends on what fish you keep. Don't starve them. Get to know its minimum requirements and feed that amount to it daily.
  5. Choose proper non-messy foods like commercial pellets.
  6. If you have good lighting or your tank receives good daylight, throw in some hardy plants like Hydrilla, which will help a great deal in improving water quality.

Watch Convict Cichlid Mother and Fry