Category Archives: Fishkeeping

Betta fish: The myths and the truth – Part 2.

Hello again! Today I’m going to bring you the second part of one of my lasts posts in order to help you understand your betta a little bit more. If you haven’t read Part 1 you should go and do that first! Like I said before, there are a few things I came across while doing the proper research before getting a betta that left me in awe. Those things were a few myths that people truly believed in and most of these were life threatening for Betta fish!

Bettas can live in a vase, it recreates the natural environment of your Betta – FALSE!
The idea that this beautiful animal can live in a secluded space like a vase is unbelievable: there is barely any oxygen for them, the water temperature will vary greatly stressing your betta, there is no way the roots of your plant can filter the ammonia in the water and betta fish are carnivorous so they can’t survive by only eating the plants roots. So next time you hear this, tell that person that it’s a myth and a betta under those conditions will be extremely unhappy -and die rather quickly-.

Bettas are great Goldfish’s companions – FALSE!
This is a myth because goldfish are cold water fish while bettas are tropical fish! These myth came from the same myth bettas have to endure: the idea that goldfish can survive in a jar. So if both can survive in a jar why not put them together, right? NO! N-O-! Putting any animal in a jar is cruel and you can’t put these two together because they do not live in the same conditions! So this is a huge NO NO.

Female bettas need other female bettas to keep them company – FALSE!
This is a common problem with fish, we tend to see them as humans so we tend to think they have the same needs we have. We see them “sad and lonely” and we tend to think they “need a buddy” but that sometimes is not true, specially with bettas. Bettas are solitary fish and they are ok with that. They can be bored and that’s why you think they are sad and lonely but there are so many ways to entertain them that doesn’t involve other fish. So no, even though you can actually have a sorority tank (I do not recommend it because wounds and death are common in these situations) there is no need for a betta, even if it’s female, to have another female betta.

Bettas don’t feel pain, so it’s ok to make them fight – FALSE!!
I don’t know who came up with it but this myth is just stupid. A lot a people actually believe it! There have been a lot of studies on the anatomy and behavior of fish that show they have nocireceptors (receptors that sense pain) and they react to painful stimuli. So no, it’s no ok to make them fight because it can result in the fish death, stress and illness.

Bettas are stupid fish – FALSE! 
I don’t know why bettas are so misunderstood. They are actually pretty smart fish! If they are not properly stimulated they will be bored and depressed, they need behavioral enrichment. You can even teach them tricks! They recognize certain things and they know when there is someone in front of the tank.

Well, bettas are really interesting fish and I hope that this article can help you understand them better. Let’s bust those myths and try to make everyone see what’s best for them! Let’s raise awareness.

So, what do you think? Which one of these is the one you can’t believe actually exists? Let me know in the comment sections below! I see you next time… bye!

Betta fish: The myths and the truth – Part 1. 

Maybe you just finished setting up your freshwater tank and you are thinking on getting a Betta. And as you should, you are doing a little research about Betta fish before getting one and you are reading a lot of things about these particular fish. So today I’m going to talk about Betta splendens: this beautiful creature that we all love and is so neglected in our society. I’m going to enunciate some of the things that are said about these fantastic animals and I’m going to tell you which ones are true and which ones are false.

“Bettas can live in a glass of water” – FALSE!

This is the worst and most frequent lie. The fact that they can survive short-term in a glass of water does not mean they can live life at its fullest in that glass. I guess you would be able to survive living in a closet, but you wouldn’t call that ‘living’, am I right? Well, the same goes for Betta fish. They actually enjoy swimming in their tank.

“They live in muddy and dirty water in the wild, that’s why you don’t have to worry about water changes” – FALSE!

Yes, they live in mud puddles (yes, that’s their natural environment) but that does not exactly translate to “dirty water”. One thing is a crystal clear water and other thing is a fishtank with a 0 ppm ammonia reading. Those are two different types of ‘clean water’. When we do water changes it’s not because the water is ‘dirty’, we do it to remove the nitrates in the water (assuming that we have the proper filtration system). So the fact that they can live in muddy waters does not mean they can live in waters with high ammonia readings.

“Because their natural environment are rice puddles, that means they don’t like to swim” – FALSE

Maybe they don’t need a very deep tank, but they do like to swim for thousands and thousands of miles in the wild. They actually need to swim in order to live a full life. If they don’t swim much they are probably going to die withing two years. That’s why they need at least a 2.5 gallon tank.

“They don’t need anything to survive. Just water” -FALSE!

They need a heater because there are tropical fish and if the water temperature is too low they go into an hibernation state and that’s not good for them. Also they need an air pump. The fact that they can breath oxygen from the air (they have a labyrinth organ that permits them to breathe air) doesn’t mean that they don’t use their gills to breath, so yes they need oxygenated water. They can survive without an air pump but, like I said, that does not mean ‘living life at its fullest’.and they are going to die within a couple of years. And last but no least, they need a filtration system. These are fish that can tolerate a little bit of ammonia in their water for a little time and they are not going to die because of that because they are hardy.  But they need a a filtration system in order to maintain the proper conditions for them to live life at their fullest.

“These are very aggressive fish” -TRUE

These are not friendly fish. They don’t do well in community tanks. Of course there could be some exceptions, but that is not the rule. Males can’t be in the same tank as others betta males, they are literally going to fight until one of them ends up dead. On the other hand, female bettas can be friendlier towards other female bettas, and maybe (if you are lucky) you can have a sorority tank -which is a tank full of female bettas- but it’s a risky thing because they might end up killing each other or hurting themselves pretty bad. Also I would not recommend having a male and a female betta in the same tank. It’s really risky. If you have a community tank you have to do your research because it’s a species that doesn’t get along with a a lot of species, specially with those that like to bite fins or those with huge fins that resemble other bettas.

Pinky 2 winner.jpg
This is Pinky: my female betta. I love her very much.

There are a thousand myths about these fish so I’m going to write several articles  regarding this issue. I’ll write ‘Part 2’ soon!
So next time you see betta fish in a store and they are in tiny cups or you hear a seller telling a client that  Betta fish don’t need much to live, and saying things like “they are ok like that”. Say something, speak up! Because those fish are going to die in a year or so without their owners really knowing why. This is not about shaming these owners; is about educating them because most of them don’t know that what they are doing is not ok. They trusted the seller and they bought the fish maybe because they’ve always wanted to have a fish that they were desperate enough to believe a fish can live in those conditions!  So lets go and educate people about this, let’s raise awareness!

What do you think about these amazing little creatures? Have you ever saw one in a tiny cup? Do you have a betta? Do you have any questions about them? Maybe other myths that we can debunk? I would love to answer to all your questions in the comment sections below! I hope I see you next time… bye!

How to get rid of ich in your fish tank without using any chemicals.

Hello again! Today I’m going to talk about something that if you’ve been in the fishkeeping hobby for a while you may have encountered once or twice. Yes, I’m going to talk about ich: those white dots that infest your tank.

What is ich?
Those white dots (that look like sugar grains or salt grains) are an ectoparasite (an ectoparasite is a parasite that feeds from an organism but from the outside, kind of like lice for humans or fleas for cats and dogs). This ectoparsite is a protozoan called  Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.

It’s very dangerous for the skin and the gills of your fish. If you don’t control it, it can be deadly. But don’t worry, here you’ll learn how to fight it!

How did it get in my tank?
Well, it’s usually introduced by a new member of your fish tank from another tank that was already infested. If your fish are stressed because of high levels of nitrites or ammonia or even temperature swings they become and easy target for ich.

How do I prevent it?
Try to keep your water parameters stable and if you’re going to add new  organism, have it in quarantine for a while (14 to 21 days). Don’t buy fish if you see that they’re sick. If you can’t quarantine your new fish (because you lack the extra equipment) even though it’s not the safest way, here is what you can do: after acclimating your new fish -as usual- use your net and add only the fish. Never add the water from the travel bag to your aquarium. Never.

How do I know if my fish are infected with ich?
You have to try to keep an eye on them. When you’re feeding them, try to look at their fins, their gills and their bodies. If you catch it early you can attack it before it gets really serious and out of control.
If your fish is sick, you’ll find little white dots (like salt or sugar grains) on their bodies -like I said, it could be on it’s fins, it’s gills, etc. Also you may see your fish are acting weird, they will hide, they will scratch against any surface.If you see any of these things on your fish, even if it’s only one… you have to act.

How do I fight it?
Once you spotted a white dot on your fish, even if it’s  only one… That’s it, the whole tank is infected. So removing that specific fish it’s not going to help. You have to treat the whole tank.
Now I’m going to tell you the treatment that I use and works great for me. But remember, this treatment is for freshwater tropical fish and it’s up to you to do the research and find out if your fish can handle the high temperatures.

So, as you have guessed, what I do is I raise the temperature of the tank to 82° F (I do it gradually) and a I do a 30% water change every two days for two whole weeks. Even if I don’t see any more dots I keep going until the two weeks are up.

If you’re going to try the heat treatment, please be sure your water is well oxygenated. Add and extra air stone or an extra air pump if it’s necessary. You have to have in mind that oxygen is less soluble at higher temperatures, so you have to make it easier for your fish to breath.

This is what works for me. And I highly recommend it because you don’t use any chemicals and you don’t alter your water parameters, you only raise the temperature. This treatment takes time and you have to be persistent with the water changes, but it’s been the less harmful was to fight ich that I’ve found.

Well, this is it. If you have any questions you can leave it in the comment section below and I will answer them! See you next time… bye!

 

 

How to set up a Freshwater Aquarium from scratch

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Hi there! If you’re reading this is because you want to set up an aquarium for the first time, and congratulations, you’re in the right place!

When I wanted to have my first freshwater aquarium I had so many questions that I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know the equipment I needed, which tank size was the best for me, what type of fish I wanted to have, how to take care of it, etc, etc, etc. So now I’m going to write a kind of “guide” for you with some questions and tips you may need to have in mind when you want to start a Freshwater aquarium from scratch.

I am not a professional but I do love and care for my fish and did a hell lot of research before setting up my aquarium, so I decided I will gather all the info I think is relevant.

First: Where do I put it?
Yes, I know this might be the most boring “first question” you would like to ask yourself when thinking about your future aquarium but it’s a key question. Why? Because it will lead to the size of the tank you can have which will lead to the type of fish you can actually have. So, as you see, it’s really important.
You can have your aquarium anywhere you like BUT you have to have in mind these things:

  • Never ever put your tank in front of a window. I know it might seem nice to have natural sunlight  but NO. This is a huge mistake. On one hand, direct sunlight might cause a sudden rise in your tank’s temperature which will stress your fish (and we don’t want that happening). On the other hand I know for a fact that algae loves sunlight and it will easily  grow and become a huge issue.
  • Do not put your tank in a place where it gets too hot or too cold. You should be able to control the temperature of the room where your tank is. Your tank’s temperature should be stable, if not it will stress your fish.
  • It’s not just about space, it’s about weight too! You have to be careful where you put it, you have to be sure that the furniture you’re setting up your aquarium on can hold  the weight! Don’t forget that a 10 gallon (38 liters) tank might weight up to 100 pounds (45 kilos) with everything in!

Alright then, you’ve decided where to put it. Now what? The next thing you have to think about is…

The shape and the size of the tank.
Here you can be as creative as you want. If you have found the place in your house to place your dream tank and you can afford it, go for it! I would recommend to buy something that is not too small because parameters (such  as pH, temperature, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, etc.) can vary a lot easier in smaller tanks. But taking care of a huge tank is also kind of a lot to take in for a first ride so I would personally recommend something between 5 to 15 gallons.

Find a pet store near you that you can trust
If you are going to buy fish from a pet store you better trust this pet store because they are the ones that you’re going to go for help or with any issues regarding your fish. What I recommend for this is that you visit several local pet stores or pets stores that are near you and you check out the fish they have. See the conditions they have them in: if they look healthy, if the water is clean, etc. Also, you should ask a question you already know the answer to, like: “I have a goldfish, can I buy a male betta and keep him in the same tank?” If they say yes, you better leave that place because they don’t care about the fish, they only care about selling them. This might seem stupid but if they are lying with something so simple, how are you going to trust them when they tell you a fish is captive bred when it might actually be wild caught?

Start buying all the accessories.
If it’s a tropical freshwater fish tank the things you would absolutely need are: a heater, a thermometer, a filter, an air pump and an air stone.  Decide what kind of gravel you want and start buying all your aquarium decoration (I do recommend you give your fish a place to hide, or if it’s possible, several). Also you would need a net, a water conditioner, a gravel cleaner and a kit to test your parameters! When I started I also bought Stability from Seachem which helps and speeds up the cycling process.

Find the type of fish you can and you want to have
Why do I say it in that order? Because first you have to do some research on what type of fish you can have according to the size of your tank. Then, of those you can actually have, you have to choose the type of fish you want to have. But it’s not as simple as it looks, you can’t put all the fish you want in the same tank. If you want to set up a community tank you have to find out what species get along. If you don’t do your homework you might end up having a lot of fights in your tank. But it’s not just the fights, this ain’t that easy. You have to find out if they have the same needs (same temperature, pH, etc.) or if they are schooling fish (and you have to find out the minimum: you don’t want your fish to stress out or to feel lonely but you don’t want to overpopulate the tank either).

Set up your aquarium and let it cycle
Ok, we are here! This is the moment you start setting your aquarium up! First, you have to clean the dirt out of your tank. Use a wet towel, DO NOT USE soap or anything! Then you gotta wash the gravel over and over again to get rid of all the dirt. Once that is done you can put the gravel in your tank and set up the filter, the decoration, the heater, the thermometer and the air pump. Once all is done you can start filling it with water (don’t forget to use a water conditioner!) and you let it cycle. The cycling process usually takes a month but like I said, using something like Stability (or anything like it) can easily speed up the process.

And that’s all folks! I hope this post was helpful and that you liked it. If you have any questions or want to say something about this don’t forget to leave a comment below! See you in my next blog post… bye!