The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Fish Tank The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Fish Tank
Showing posts with label Fish Tank. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fish Tank. Show all posts

Saturday, March 6, 2021

'Massive' Goldfish Weighing 9 Pounds Found in South Carolina Lake


A goldfish weighing nine pounds came under the spotlight Monday after being discovered during a fish population survey at a lake in South Carolina, park officials said.

Ty Houck, an official with Greenville County Parks, said the “massive” fish was found swimming on Nov. 16 in a 12-acre body of water in Oak Grove Lake Park in the county of Greenville.

Greenville Rec, which oversees the park where the fish was discovered, posted a photo of the golden spectacle on Facebook on Monday.

To read more on this story, click here: 'Massive' Goldfish Weighing 9 Pounds Found in South Carolina Lake 


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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Common Freshwater Tropical Fish Diseases


Learn about common fish illnesses and how to effectively treat them.

Looking into your aquarium and seeing one of your fish ill for the first time can be alarming for many hobbyists. Unlike cats and dogs, you can’t just hop in the car and take them to the vet. Moreover, because of the delicate nature of tropical fish, if not treated quickly, the illness may not only kill the infected fish, it could spread to the rest of the tank potentially harming your entire population.

So the obvious question for fish owners when their fish is infected is, “What illness does my fish have and how can I treat it?” The good news is that many of the most common aquarium fish diseases are treatable and if done properly, your fish has a good chance of survival. Moreover, many of the treatments are relatively simple to perform (and a lot cheaper than taking a cat or a dog to the vet).

To read more on this story, click here:  Common Freshwater Tropical Fish Diseases


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Sunday, August 16, 2020

This Aquarium Has Been Closed For Almost Five Months - Now, It's Using Old Wishing Coins To Help Care For Its Animals


For one aquarium, the coins tossed into its waterfall as wishes have become something more than submerged hopes and dreams. The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores said it's transforming the forgotten change into cold, hard cash.

The public aquarium said in a Facebook post Saturday that its staff turned off its 30-foot-tall "Smoky Mountain" waterfall and rounded up all of the change visitors had tossed in.

To read more on this story, click here: This Aquarium Has Been Closed For Almost Five Months - Now, It's Using Old Wishing Coins To Help Care For Its Animals



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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Goldfish Survive 4 Months After New Zealand Earthquake


Two goldfish were found alive in their tank in a building that was badly damaged by the earthquake that struck New Zealand.

The two goldfish, named Shaggy and Daphne, have become the smallest survivors of the earthquake in February.  The earthquake killed 181 people in Christchurch.

There were originally six goldfish in the tank when the quake struck. When the survivors were found, there was no trace of three others. A fourth was found dead. There is the question of their missing companions. Goldfish are omnivores.

The fish spent four and a half months, trapped in their tank in a downtown area of the city, that was off-limits. There was no food, or electricity to power their tank filter. They were discovered by workers, and rescued.

The fish survived from eating algae growing on the tank’s rocks and walls. Fish can go without food for a while because they are cold blooded, and unlike mammals don't burn up food to keep warm.



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Saturday, November 10, 2018

How to Care for Oranda Goldfish


If you are both aquarium enthusiasts, you may want to consider oranda goldfish as your first pets together. These beautiful fish develop large hoods called wens on their heads and are as friendly as they are attractive. Understanding proper care for these delicate fish is vital for their longevity.

Educate yourself on the specific needs of oranda goldfish. Common goldfish such as the shubunken have flat, long bodies; but orandas have large, round bodies that make them slow swimmers -- they do not compete well for food with more active species. Their hooded heads are also prone to disease from bacteria and unclean water, so they are not tolerant to polluted water. In addition, unlike other types of goldfish, orandas must have stable water temperatures: not too cold, because they do not thrive if the temperatures in their tanks dips too low.

Choose a tank suitable for your fancy goldfish. Orandas do best in tanks that provide plenty of room to swim. In addition, these hardy fish may reach sizes of 10 to 12 inches (25cm to 30cm) in length, making a spacious home necessary. A long or rectangular tank with capacity of at least 20 to 30 gallons (76l to 114l) will give your pets the space they need to thrive.

Set up your fancy aquatic pets' tank with a filter and heater. Because orandas do not do well in dirty water, a filtration system will help keep their watery environment fresh and clean. An aquarium heater is a must for these fancy fish that are prone to temperature shock if their water temperatures dip too low.

To read more on this story, click here: How to Care for Oranda Goldfish

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

How To Keep Your Tank Safe During A Power Outage


A power outage may only be a minor inconvenience for you but, for your aquarium fish, it can be deadly.

A power outage is a minor convenience for most people – it simply means that you have to take a break from television, computer, and charging your cell phone. As long as the outage doesn’t last too long there will likely be no damage done. When it comes to your aquarium, however, a power outage can be a major problem. In order to maintain the delicate balance in your tank you need to keep your filtration system and heater running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether the outage lasts for a few hours or a few days, there are several things you can do to minimize the damage.

Types of Power Outages

Before getting into the details of how to protect your aquarium during a power outage, it is important that you understand that different types of outages will affect your aquarium in different ways. A localized power outage occurs when the main source of power to the aquarium is disrupted. This could be due to a power strip coming unplugged or a fuse being blown. In some cases the problem is easily remedied – you can just plug the cord back in or flip the switch on the circuit breaker. If the problem is due to an equipment malfunction, like a cracked heater, you may not even realize the problem right away. You may want to consider installing a plug-in alarm that will alert you if the power to your tank is interrupted – this is an especially good investment if you have a very large tank full of expensive fish. It is also a good idea that you use different plugs for different pieces of equipment so they do not all go out at once in the event of a localized power outage.

To read more on this story, click here: How To Keep Your Tank Safe During A Power Outage


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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Tropical Fish Diseases


A home aquarium can host a large variety of bacterial, fungal & parasitic infections. Early treatment is best but there are few things you can do to increase the chance everyone will heal quickly.

Most illnesses are contagious so medicating the entire tank is suggested. Even if the disease is not contagious, it’s not going to harm a healthy fish to give him a dose of treatment too.

If you have a large aquarium it’s advised to set up a hospital tank. Use a smaller 5 gallon aquarium with air pump to place infected fish. Treating a 5 gallon tank is much easier and cheaper then treating a 90 gallon, hence the popularity of hospital tanks for advanced hobbyists and fish breeders.

Always remove carbon for the duration of treatment. In a power filter, you will need to remove the entire cartridge (carbon is located inside). Carbon absorbs medication from the water rending the treatment ineffective.

Adding freshwater aquarium salt helps with healing. A general tonic with electrolytes promoting good health, salt also can counteract the harsh effect of medication by reducing stress. Dissolve some in a cup of water before adding to the aquarium. Follow directions on the box for the proper amount to add according to tank size.

 Most diseases are caused by stress & poor water quality. After the disease outbreak is cleared, you may want to increase the frequency of water changes and perhaps consider using a stronger filter or adding a second filter. Excellent filtration can help prevent disease by keeping water chemistry prime for living conditions.

To read more on this story, click here: Tropical Fish Diseases 

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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Did You Know That Goldfish Were One of the First Fish Species to Be Kept in Ponds by Humans


Did you know that the goldfish are one of the most common type of pets in the world? They were one of the first fish species to be kept in ponds by humans. By nature, goldfish are social creatures and prefer to live with other goldfish.


Many people think that goldfish are pets for someone who doesn't have much time for pet care. The lifespan of your goldfish depend upon how much care you provide goldfish.  If cared for properly your goldfish could live for many years!

Goldfish start off small, but grow to be quite large, sometimes even a foot long, if you take good care of them. First time goldfish keepers usually buy a small tank or bowl to house their goldfish, only to discover that they need to keep buying ever-larger replacement tanks. You should buy a large enough tank at the beginning. You should provide a 20 to 30 gallon tank for your fish. Then add at least 10 gallons to that volume for each additional goldfish you might add. They grow large, excrete a lot of waste and need room to swim in order to be happy!

Food:    Goldfish like a diet of flakes, pellets, wafers and sticks

Goldfish Facts:

Do goldfish have ears? They have internal ear bones called an otolith that can feel vibrations. Avoid tapping on the glass since it will stress or even kill them.

A goldfish can survive in an outdoor pond where water temperatures dip down below 40*F (5*C). Some ponds might even freeze over during the winter and the goldfish still survive through to the spring.



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Monday, November 13, 2017

Goldfish - One Of The Most Common Type Of Pets In The World


Did you know that the goldfish are one of the  most common type of pets in the world? They were one of the first fish species to be kept in ponds by humans. By nature, goldfish are social creatures and prefer to live with other goldfish.

Many people think that goldfish are pets for someone who doesn't have much time for pet care. The lifespan of your goldfish depend upon how much care you provide goldfish.  If  cared for properly your goldfish could live for many years!


Goldfish start off small, but grow to be quite large, sometimes even a foot long, if you take good care of them. First time goldfish keepers usually buy a small tank or bowl to house their goldfish, only to discover that they need to keep buying ever-larger replacement tanks. You should buy a large enough tank at the beginning. You should provide a 20 to 30 gallon tank for your fish. Then add at least 10 gallons to that volume for each additional goldfish you might add. They grow large, excrete a lot of waste and need room to swim in order to be happy!


Food:    Goldfish like a diet of flakes, pellets, wafers and sticks


Goldfish Facts:

Do goldfish have ears? They have internal ear bones called an otolith that can feel vibrations. Avoid tapping on the glass since it will stress or even kill them.

A goldfish can survive in an outdoor pond where water temperatures dip down below 40*F (5*C). Some ponds might even freeze over during the winter and the goldfish still survive through to the spring.


      Exterior Parts of A Goldfish







                         

Goldfish Synchronized Swimming



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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Inky the Octopus Slipped Through a Gap at the Top of His Enclosure: Escapes Down Pipe to Ocean


By the time the staff at New Zealand’s National Aquarium noticed that he was missing, telltale suction cup prints were the main clue to an easily-solved mystery.

Inky had said see ya to his tank-mate, slipped through a gap left by maintenance workers at the top of his enclosure and, as evidenced by the tracks, made his way across the floor to a six-inch-wide drain. He squeezed his football-sized body in — octopuses are very malleable, aquarium manager Rob Yarrall told the New Zealand website Stuff — and made a break for the Pacific.

“He managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean. And off he went,” Yarrall told Radio New Zealand. “And he didn’t even leave us a message.”

The cephalopod version of “Shawshank Redemption” took place three months ago, but it only became public Tuesday. Inky, who already had some local renown in the coastal city of Napier, quickly became a global celebrity cheered on by strangers.

Inky had resided at the aquarium since 2014, when he was taken in after being caught in a crayfish pot, his body scarred and his arms injured. The octopus’s name was chosen from nominations submitted to a contest run by the Napier City Council.

Kerry Hewitt, the aquarium’s curator of exhibits, said at the time that Inky was “getting used to being at the aquarium” but added that staff would “have to keep Inky amused or he will get bored.”

Guess that happened.

This isn’t the first time a captive octopus decided to take matters into its own hands — er, tentacles. In 2009, after a two-spotted octopus at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium in California took apart a water recycling valve, directed a tube to shoot water out of the tank for 10 hours and caused a massive flood, Scientific American asked octopus expert Jennifer Mather about the animals’ intelligence and previous such hijinks at aquariums.

“They are very strong, and it is practically impossible to keep an octopus in a tank unless you are very lucky. … Octopuses simply take things apart,” Mather said. “I recall reading about someone who had built a robot submarine to putter around in a large aquarium tank. The octopus got a hold of it and took it apart piece by piece. There’s a famous story from the Brighton Aquarium in England 100 years ago that an octopus there got out of its tank at night when no one was watching, went to the tank next door and ate one of the lumpfish and went back to his own tank and was sitting there the next morning.”

Yarrall said the aquarium has no plans to replace Inky, but it does intend to better secure the tank where now just one octopus remains.

“They are always exploring and they are great escape artists,” Yarrall said, according to Hawke’s Bay Today. “We’ll be watching the other one.”


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Monday, February 8, 2016

Hermit Crabs Make Adorable Pets: But These Little Packages of Cuteness Are High-Maintenance


Hermit crabs make adorable pets but these little packages of cuteness are high-maintenance and require very exacting care

Hermit crabs are widely believed to be easy to care for, and ideal first pets for children. Neither of these beliefs is true. Unfortunately, hermit crabs are very difficult to keep healthy, and they should be kept in groups. Not only are hermit crabs are not hermit-like at all, they are gregarious partiers who will keep a crab-party going all night.

You’ve probably seen the clear plastic critter-carriers and one-gallon fish tanks where hermit crabs are sometimes displayed. These are not safe homes for hermit crabs. In fact, if the critter-carrier has a standard “berry-basket” top for ventilation, the crab inside is probably already dying a slow and painful death. Hermit crabs breathe air through modified gills. They will drown in water, and they have no lungs. If the gills ever dry out, the animal is in serious trouble. The resulting death by suffocation can take months, but it is inevitable. Therefore, maintaining sufficient humidity in the hermit crab enclosure is very, very important.

This brings us to the topic of equipment.

ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT

This list is a very rudimentary introduction to the equipment needed to keep crabs healthy.

  • An aquarium tank, marine terrarium, or large covered enclosure strong enough to contain wet sand. Be sure the cover is tight enough to prevent the crabs from pushing their way out, that some air can get in, and that it keeps moisture inside the tank;
  • Water-conditioning fluid, to neutralize chlorine and its by-products in the water;
  • Safe sea salt, of the kind sold for marine fish and crustaceans;
  • Safe sand, enough to be a few inches (15cm minimum) deep in the tank;
  • Water dishes, sea sponges, shallow food dishes, and a slotted scoop to remove uneaten food from the sand;
  • Quarantine tank, which is basically the full set-up in miniature, for safe moulting;
  • Hidey-huts for the crabs to relax in, during the day;
  • Extra shells of the correct sizes and shapes, at least three per crab;
  • Thermometers for the sand and hygrometers for the main tank and the quarantine tank;
  • Branches and rocks to climb on;
  • Moss and extra sea sponges for soaking, to help keep the humidity above 75%; and
  • Heater for one end of the tank: most hermit crab species like a temperature of 75-80F/24-27C on the warm end of the tank.

EXERCISE

These cute little crustaceans will keep themselves fit, presuming their tank is big enough. They love to climb, and crawl, and pull. If you are very careful, you can “walk” them across your hands held low over a soft surface. As the crab moves across one hand, bring the other one around in front. To do this, your hands need to be positioned side to side, and not fingertip-to-fingertip. Otherwise, the surface will be too narrow and the tiny crab will become frightened.

FEEDING

Hermit crabs are beachcombing scavengers. As omnivores, they require both meat and plant-matter in their diets. Unfortunately, the commercial crab foods do not make a good diet for hermit crabs. They tend to contain preservatives, but some are safe enough: read the ingredient list. The real problem is that commercial foods are boring. Crabs don’t like to smell the same meal twice in a row. They will be happiest if every meal is a little different: some fish and a touch of apple today, perhaps some chicken and seaweed tomorrow.  (Thacker, 1998).

Wash all fruits and vegetables before feeding them to your crabs, and use de-chlorinated water to do it. Always do everything you can to keep your crabs away from chlorine. Meat can be raw or cooked, or even freeze-dried, but avoid preservatives (including salt).

That’s not to say that everything always needs to be fresh. Stock up on an assortment of jars of baby foods. Keep some freeze-dried daphnia, bloodworms, tubifex, and shrimp on hand from the aquarium section of the pet store. Offer a few pieces of low-salt cat food.

Crabs need calcium. The simplest way to provide it is to drop a couple of cuttlebones onto the floor of the tank. Cuttlebone is sold in the pet-bird section of the pet store.

Unlike many animals, hermit crabs need two kinds of water bowls: one with freshwater and one with salt water. The salt water cannot be made with table salt, because of the iodine in it. Both bowls need to be big enough for the crabs to submerge themselves, and easy to crawl out of so the crabs don’t drown. A piece of sea sponge in each bowl makes a convenient safety raft.


GROOMING

The hermit crab tank needs to contain a conditioned freshwater bowl and a conditioned saltwater bowl. The precise details of these will vary with the particular species you keep.

Along with the water that the crabs will use for “grooming” themselves, these creatures must be provided with an assortment of appropriate shells. The shapes will vary, again according to species, but whatever the species you should provide at least three shells per crab in your tank. The shell sizes should be slightly smaller than, equal to, and slightly larger than the crab’s current shell. Please, please, please stay away from painted shells. The “non-toxic” paints are meant to be non-toxic to your children: they are generally not safe for your hermit crabs.

HOME ENVIRONMENT

Hermit crabs are primarily nocturnal. They enjoy exploring their home, re-arranging things, and seeing how many of them can sit on a perch before it falls over. You’ll hear them clacking away with their claws through the wee hours. If you do most of your sleeping at night, you probably don’t want to put the crab tanks in the bedroom.

Also, keep in mind that hermit crabs are invertebrates who are subject to the same kinds of poisons that are used to kill insects and spiders. If people in your neighborhood spray their lawns, or if someone in your house tends to go after spiders with a can of “bug-spray”, hermit crabs are not for you.


TRAINING

There is no training required for hermit crabs. While you will need to rescue them from time to time, especially during moults, and you’ll need to provide appropriate shells for them to choose from, they will act according to their natures.


WHERE TO NEXT?

Are these little guys right for you? They are adorable, no question, but they are very difficult for beginners to keep healthy and happy. In many ways, parrots and the licensed exotics are easier to maintain. Perhaps consider a dog instead? Or a pony?

If you have decided that hermit crabs are the right pet for your family, the next step is to do some reading. This care-sheet has only introduced you to the barest skim off the top of the information you need. Investigate the details of putting together a proper enclosure, and the details of shell replacement, and the details of temperature and humidity. Next, put together the main tank and a quarantine tank, and monitor the humidity and temperature for a week or two. Once that is stable, seek out several healthy crabs and a nice assortment of high-quality shells for them.






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Sunday, December 27, 2015

True Story: Man Finds Half Fish and Keeps It as Pet for Six Months



A fish which lost its tail, and half its body, when it tried to leap out of a cement-lined pond no doubt thought its future looked bleak.

Amazingly, it survived its ordeal... only to end up in a tank in a Thai market, where it could well have spent its dying days.

But one man who spotted the poor creature took pity on it, adopted it and brought it home.

Watchara Chote, from Ratchaburi, named his new pet I-Half.

After its horrific accident, the fish - a hypsibarbus wetmorei - fractured its bones.

These eventually wasted away, causing the tail to fall off, according to Matichon News, the Mirror reported.

However, Chote, 36, and I-Half, were able to enjoy each other's company for six months.

During this time, he took his wonder pet to several villages to show it off.

But then, sadly, his aqua buddy passed away- whereupon well-wishers donated money for him to buy a tiny coffin.

Still, not a bad innings for a fish with half a body.





This fish lost its tail - and half its body - when it tried to leap out of a cement-lined pond.



The injured creature was spotted by Watchara Chote in a market in Thailand. He took pity on it and took it home.



Chote, 36, and his new chum - whom he named I-Half - were able to enjoy each other's company for six months.



.. but then I-Half died. Chote had taken great pride in showing off his fish to villagers, who clubbed together to buy a tiny, fishy coffin.


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Monday, June 1, 2015

Floating ‘Wheelchairs’ Like These Help Sick Fish with Buoyancy Problems Stay Upright


This is the most adorable animal wheelchair we’ve ever seen. An image has surfaced of a goldfish in a sling, which people are calling a ‘goldfish wheelchair,’ designed to keep her afloat and upright.

‘Fish wheelchairs’ (or slings or buoys – call them what you will) like these are used to help fish swim upright while they recover from swim bladder infections that make it difficult for them to do so on their own. 

Green peas can help solve buoyancy issues related to constipation, but infected swim bladders or other issues may require specialized medication. Always consult your vet!

Using a simple cork, this owner saved his fish’s life


Floating ‘wheelchairs’ like these help sick fish stay upright

Swim bladder infections or constipation can make it hard or impossible to swim with balance


There are professional veterinary versions, too!



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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Piranhas Make Interesting Pets: Depending on the Species, Adult Piranhas Can be 12 -16 Inches Long


Piranhas can make interesting pets with their full sets of sharp teeth and their fast and furious attack skills. Keeping piranhas is a bigger commitment than keeping other fish as pets -- they require lots of space, and they can live more than 20 years in captivity. Meanwhile, their food and water temperature needs are rather simple to accommodate.

Room to Move
Piranhas can seem cute when they're small and hiding among tank decorations much of the day, but they don't stay small. Depending on the species, adult piranha can be 12 to 16 inches long. They come from river environments and live best in large tanks -- a 100-gallon tank suits a single adult piranha; add 20 gallons for each additional piranha. Red-bellied piranhas tend to school in the wild, so you can likely keep a few in the same tank, although they might attack each other at some point. If you're keeping a black piranha as a pet, house him alone -- he's just as likely to eat another piranha as the dinner you provide him.

Ringing the Dinner Bell
Piranhas aren't strictly carnivores, although meat is definitely their meal of choice. If you have aquatic plants in your tank, you might see your fish take a few bites here and there. They also eat fish pellets and flakes occasionally, and they can benefit from the vitamin boost these foods provide. But for most of their meals, plan on feeding protein such as krill, mealworms, earthworms or feeder fish. Unless you raise your own under controlled conditions, thaw frozen versions of these foods or buy live ones from reputable fish food suppliers. Avoid grabbing insects and worms from your yard -- they might have ingested chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides, which they can transfer to your piranha. Juvenile fish need to be fed up to four times per day, while sub-adults usually need food about twice a day. Feed mature adults about once every two days.

Home Sweet Tank
Piranhas can survive in a variety of tank conditions, but they prefer a water temperature of between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit and a sandy substrate. Juveniles are especially fond of aquatic plants. In the wild, they spend much of their time hiding from predators until they reach their adult sizes. However, adults enjoy swimming among the plants as well. They also like large pieces of driftwood that offer secluded places to rest.

Keeping It on the Up and Up
Before buying a piranha for a pet, check with your local and state regulations. Many states ban piranhas because people sometimes release them into the wild; introducing non-native species can wreak havoc on your local environment. Non-native species can compete with indigenous ones for food, sometimes endangering the other species' survival. Also, state governments often don't want to risk local fisherman catching piranhas unexpectedly and potentially becoming injured. Even if you have no intention of releasing a pet piranha, always follow local regulations.

Safety First
Owning a piranha means taking a few precautions to ensure he doesn't decide your hand looks tasty for dinner. Even small, a piranha has razor-sharp teeth that can easily bite through your skin; as an adult, he can bite through bone to remove entire fingers. To prevent injury to yourself, never dip your hand in the water to feed a piranha. Also, don't place a hand with a wound, even a small scratch, in or near the top of the water -- the blood might attract the piranha, who swims powerfully enough to jump out of the water. Clean the tank with long tools instead of putting your arm inside, and use a net to catch your fish when it's necessary to move him. He can bite through the net, so don't stabilize him with your hand. Instead, hold a second net under the first to catch the fish if he bites a hole in the first net and falls through. FOLLOW US!
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Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Authorities Confirm: Fish Caught by Fisherman is a Piranha


A fisherman caught a piranha while fishing on an Arkansas lake last week, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission authorities confirmed.

Roger Headley was fishing on Lake Bentonville Friday when he caught the toothy fish, which he thought was a large perch.

Headley told a television station the fish actually did try to bite him when caught.

“I knew he kind of looked funny, and when I reached down and tried to take the hook out of his mouth, that's when he opened up his mouth and tried to bite me,” he said.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission lists piranhas among species of exotic animals that are unlawful to import or transport.

Game and Fish experts told KHBS/KHOG-TV that piranhas, which usually are dumped by former pet owners, are not a threat because they don't last long in Arkansas' cold waters.

Headley said it was luck that the fish wasn't caught by a young child.

“If a little kid would have caught him or something he could have lost a finger or anything,” he said.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

According to Researchers at Australia's Murdoch University, Dumping Your Pet Goldfish in a Local Lake Can Cause Serious Ecological Sabotage


As tragic as it may be to watch Bubbles roam around the tank with nothing but a plastic treasure chest for entertainment, the truth is he wasn't meant to be in a bigger pond.

According to researchers at Australia's Murdoch University, giving in to your temptation to set him free in a local lake won't just leave you without a pet — it'll kick start some serious ecological sabotage. As revealed in a study published by their Freshwater Fish Group & Fish Health Unit, "introduced freshwater fishes are one of the major global threats to aquatic biodiversity."

And this isn't just some fish story. When dumped into a larger environment, those innocent little koi or goldfish grow at an exponential rate, introduce parasites that harm other species, and have the potential to decimate an ecosystem.

"They are eating up the food resources and using up the habitat that our native fish would otherwise be using,"research fellow Jeff Cosgrove told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Even worse? They can be "extremely difficult to eradicate," says Cosgrove. In other words, they're not going belly-up anytime soon.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

According to the Fossil Record, Nautiluses Have Existed for About 500 Million Years


 A scientific look at the unusual nautiluses, including their eating habits, reproduction, and famously unique anatomy. 

The common misconception regarding the captive care of cephalopods is that long-term success is impossible. While it is true that keeping cephalopods is a difficult task, understanding their biology and natural behavior will enhance the success of the exhibition of these animals. The nautiluses are no exception. Though they may not have the chromatophores possessed by other cephalopods that enable color change, these deep-sea animals are a window into a world that most people will never see.

The nautilus differs from other cephalopods in many aspects both anatomically and behaviorally. The main body features of the nautilus are its shell, hood, and tentacles.

The chambered or pearly nautilus is a cephalopod (a type of mollusk)—a distant cousin to squids, octopi, and cuttlefish. Unlike its color-changing cousins, though, the soft-bodied nautilus lives inside its hard external shell. The shell itself has many closed interior chambers or “compartments.”

The animal resides in the shell’s largest chamber, while the other chambers function like the ballast tanks of a submarine. This is the secret to how the nautilus swims.

The tissue in a canal called the siphuncle [sigh-funk-el] connects all of the interior chambers. As seawater pumps through the living chamber, the nautilus expels water by pulling its body into the chamber, thereby creating jet propulsion to thrust itself backwards and to make turns. While swimming up or down through the water column, the nautilus uses its siphuncle to suck fluid into, or draw it out of, the smaller sealed chambers, allowing the animal to adjust its overall buoyancy.

According to the fossil record, animals similar to the chambered nautilus have existed for about 500 million years. Although no regulations currently exist to protect them, the six living species of chambered nautilus appear to be in decline. They are trapped mostly for their attractive shells and also for the shell’s inner layer, called nacre, which is used as a pearl substitute in jewelry and trinkets. In 2013, NOAA Fisheries funded a University of Washington researcher to conduct population studies of the nautilus in Fiji and American Samoa. The research should provide a clearer picture of nautilus abundance in those areas.

Shell and Hood

Similar to the cuttlebone in cuttlefish, the nautilus shell regulates the animal’s buoyancy, while at the same time providing protection against predators. The calcium carbonate shell is made up of individual chambers, some of which are filled with gas and others filled with seawater. The chambers are interconnected by a tube, or siphuncle. The liquid-filled chambers release or take in sea water in order to maintain neutral buoyancy.

The body of the nautilus lies within the first chamber and can retract into this chamber if in danger. In the retracted state, the hood protects and conceals the animal from predators. This behavior is its only known defense mechanism. While most cephalopods possess an ink sac that can be used as a defensive tactic, the nautilus is without an ink sac.

Tentacles

Nautiluses are equipped with a total of 90 adhesive tentacles, without suckers, significantly more than any other cephalopod. Utilizing its 90 tentacles, the nautilus is able to feel around the ocean floor or rocks searching for prey. Vision in the nautilus is much less developed than in other cephalopods; the eye lacks a lens and is constructed like the aperture of a pinhole camera (Hanlon & Messenger, 2005).

The last major difference between nautilus and other cephalopods is their life span. While most cephalopods have a life span of one to two years, the nautilus is thought to live up to at least 15 years, a very attractive characteristic for an aquarium animal.

Feeding

Wild nautiluses have been observed to make diel migrations (Carlson et al., 1984; Ward et al., 1984). This type of behavior takes the nautilus from depths of 1200 feet at daybreak up to depths of 300 feet by sunset. Nautiluses can best be characterized as opportunistic feeders investigating food when detected. The actual feeding behavior of the nautilus can be described as sampling, searching, and sweeping.

There is evidence to support that the nautiluses detect prey by sampling lateral currents across the reef for chemical trails (O’dor et al., 1993). After detecting prey with the use of large olfactory organs, the tentacles are used to locate and seize the prey. The diet of the wild nautilus includes crustaceans (including hermit crabs; Ward & Wicksten, 1980), crustacean molts, nematodes, echinoids, and fishes (Saunders & Ward, 1987). There are accounts of cephalopod beaks and nautilus tentacles found in the gut as well (Hanlon & Messenger, 2005). It is not uncommon under aquarium conditions to witness cannibalism (Carlson, 1987) as is observed with other species of cephalopods.

The main focus in the feeding of nautiluses is to provide food that is high in calcium in order to sustain normal shell growth. The most common food offered to nautiluses in captivity is shrimp (with shell), squid, various types of frozen fish, and blue crab. Several different types of molts, such as lobster molts, have also been fed as an enrichment food. The lobster molt is taken quickly and consumed with no problems (molts are also a great source for calcium).

Shell Aberrations

A common and still misunderstood issue with captive nautiluses is aberrations of the shell. Over time, the shell does not grow normally and begins to degrade. Signs of this are black edging of the newly formed shell. There appears to be no adverse health issues associated with the shell malformation, and to date is merely an aesthetic problem.

Aquarium Care

Tank Size

Although nautiluses spend most of the time attached to the walls of the aquarium, they do occasionally jet around with minimal control, often running into the sides of the tank. For this reason the dimensions of their accommodations are important for the proper care and maintenance of nautiluses. For the average nautilus (less than 6 inches), the aquarium should be at least 3 feet long, 18 inches wide, and 2 feet deep to allow the animal to move around freely without constantly bumping into the sides of the tank; however, when keeping multiple nautiluses or a single large nautilus, a bigger aquarium is required.

Filtration

As with all cephalopods, a key ingredient in successful husbandry is proper filtration. Due to the high amount of solid and liquid waste produced, it is important to have a large biological filter bed or sand filter. A protein skimmer is also recommended to help manage the large waste load. UV sterilizers can be added to help minimize the spread of possible pathogens, which can be difficult to treat in cephalopods. A good rule to go by is to have a filtration system that is designed for a tank twice the size of the one the animal is in.

Temperature

Another important aspect of keeping nautiluses alive is maintaining the water temperature between 50° and 70°F, using a chiller. For a more natural environment and to aid possible breeding, one can have the temperature gradually fluctuate between cooler and warmer temperatures over a 24-hour period. This will mimic diel migration, although this will be difficult without a computer controlling the heater/chiller. Because nautiluses live in the deep sea and receive only minimal light when migrating to the surface at night, there should only be enough light in the tank to view the animal. Actinic lights work well for this, as too much light can stress the animal.

Aquascaping and Tankmates

Careful consideration should be used when deciding how to decorate the tank and choosing tankmates. Live rock can be used on the bottom and sides of the tank, but the mid and upper sections of the tank should be clear of obstacles that the nautilus could run into and damage itself. There should be no plastic décor, as nautiluses have a habit of trying to bite/eat everything.

The nautilus is one of the few cephalopods with which other animals have been kept in the same tank with some success, but keep in mind that there is always the chance that those animals could become a snack. If choosing to have tankmates, make sure they are non-aggressive and can withstand the cold water and dim lighting nautiluses require. Possible tankmates include cardinalfish, squirrelfish, pinecone fish, flashlight fish, shrimp, sponges, snails, and non-stinging corals that can live in low light.

Reproduction

The understanding of nautilus reproduction has increased substantially in the past 20 years owing much to the pioneering work of Dr. Bruce Carlson at the Waikiki Aquarium (Carlson, 2000). There are two methods in determining the sex of a nautilus. The first is best used on new animals not accustomed to captivity. By turning the animal upside-down, a horseshoe-shaped gland will be visible in females and will be green to brown in mature females. This technique, though, should only be used by advanced aquarists. The second technique of sexing a nautilus is to locate the spadix, which is a large modified tentacle found on the left side of the male nautilus, adjacent to the mouth. The spadix is the mode of sperm transfer.

Nautiluses mate facing each other and may stay in that position for hours. The first embryo was discovered in 1985 and the first hatchling was obtained in 1988 (Norman, 2000). In captivity, female nautiluses may lay one to two eggs per month. The nautilus egg will take at least one year to hatch. The temperature of the egg-holding tank is crucial in the development of the embryo.

While most nautiluses are kept at temperatures of 64°F, the eggs actually develop at warmer temperatures, 70° to 75°F. Once hatched, the juvenile nautilus readily accepts food. Unfortunately, there has been no success in rearing adults from eggs as of yet.

Difficult Yet Rewarding

The task of exhibiting the nautilus can be very overwhelming when considering tank design, filtration units, and tank decor. Nevertheless, a keen awareness and understanding of nautilus biology and behaviors will assist you when you begin to assemble your tank. As Jacques Cousteau said, “The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed.”

References
Carlson, B. A., McKibben, J. N., & DeGruy, M. V. 1984. “Telemetric investigation of vertical migration of Nautilus belauensis in Palau.” Pacific Science 38:183–188.












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Friday, April 3, 2015

Can You Keep Cephalopods As Pets?


Cephalopods, the class of mollusks which scientists classify octopuses, squid, cuttlefish and nautiluses, can change color faster than a chameleon. They can also change texture and body shape, and, and if those camouflage techniques don't work, they can still "disappear" in a cloud of ink, which they use as a smoke-screen or decoy. Cephalopods are also fascinating because they have three hearts that pump blue blood, they're jet powered, and they're found in all oceans of the world, from the tropics to the poles, the intertidal to the abyss. 

Cephalopods have inspired legends and stories throughout history and are thought to be the most intelligent of invertebrates. Some can squeeze through the tiniest of cracks. They have eyes and other senses that rival those of humans.

Usually, hobbyists interested in keeping a pet cephalopod should stick with Octopus or Cuttlefish - Squid don't survive well in aquaria) should first consider buying one at their local aquarium store. Even if they don't regularly stock cephalopods, most good saltwater shops can special order an octopus (and in rare cases, a cuttlefish) if it is requested. 

The main advantage one gains by going through a pet store is in cost—and it's a big difference. Because pet stores buy through distributors and in bulk quantities, a cephalopod at the local shop will cost nearly half of what it would to get through the mail: overnight shipping is expensive and saltwater is heavy; not to mention if the shipment has to cross a national border and become mired in red-tape permits and government bureaucrats that think cuttlefish are fish and octopuses are not because the word fish is not part of their name. Although some retailers will require a deposit to cover their risk, another advantage to the consumer lies in the fact that you normally get to examine the animal and ask the shop owners and caretakers questions about it before you make it your pet. 

Here's The Caveat:

Most shop owners lack specific knowledge about cephalopods, their care requirements, and species information. The online shops and mail-order houses are usually no better about it. In fact, most of what the industry knows about cephs is from trial-and-error and long-standing rumors—rumors that don't favor our soft friends. Many will slap the omnipresent O. vulgaris or O. joubini tag on their animal and sell it as such, regardless of where it came from or what it actually is. The animal you receive could be a baby with the potential to grow very large, or it could be a full grown adult of a small species that may have only weeks left in it's natural lifespan. 

Most octopuses in the aquarium trade are in the small to medium size range as adults—rarely larger than a grapefruit. Both scientists and hobbyists alike find frustration in finding transportation for their cephalopods, and international orders will need to address permits to cross national borders. 

In addition to costing more than many marine fish and invertebrates, none of the cephalopod family tolerate shipping stresses well, and there's always the chance of inking during shipment. 

Most other type of cargo has higher priority than live fish and invertebrates, and some of the species listed below are only available in certain seasons. Also, the prices below do not include shipping costs—which can be over $50 for the smallest specimens and thousands for the largest. 

Things to think about before you buy a cephalopod:

1. Home aquarists and scientists agree- cephalopods can be really hard to keep alive in a tank. They require a very clean, stable seawater system, escape proof lids, and they are picky eaters. Keeping one can be expensive, and feeding one can be expensive.

2. While some countries have strict collecting laws, many tropical animals are collected from the wild using irresponsible and illegal methods such as poaching and/or “cyanide fishing”. Cyanide fishing involves squirting cyanide into the reef and breaking coral to dig out the poisoned, stunned animals. It kills coral, other invertebrates, and fish. Ask your aquarium shop for tank-raised animals.

3. It might be deadly. Blue-ringed octopuses are deadly. There is no anti-venom for their bite. Other octopuses are so poorly known that we don’t even know how dangerous they might be. Relatives of Abdopus aculeatus have a poison in their bodies that’s similar to TTX, the poison in blue-ring venom (Robertson et al. 2004 Toxicon 44: 765). Striking animals like “Wunderpus” and the “Mimic” might be highly venomous. It appears that the skin of the "Flamboyant" cuttlefish is toxic. You don’t want to be the one who finds out. 

4. It might be rare, so taking a wild animal might put those cephalopod populations at risk.

5. It might try to crawl out. Octopuses are well-known for their abilities to escape aquaria. Intertidal species are notoriously hard to keep in a tank. If it goes walkabout when you’re not looking, then you will find a dead octopus on the floor the next morning, or behind the couch in two years. 

6. It might eat your other pets. Crabs, clams and sometimes snails are not safe from the voracious appetite of a cephalopod. Often fish will either eat your cephalopod or be eaten by your cephalopods.

7. They don’t live very long, most species only about a year. By the time you get your tropical cephalopod, it is an adult near the end of its live span. You’ll be lucky to keep it alive for a few months







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Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Team of Veterinarians in Scotland Performed a Set of Operations on Pet Goldfish That Cost Nearly $750


Fife, Scotland - A team of vets from Inglis Veterinary Hospital, performed an extremely tricky operation - removing the eye of “Star” a pet goldfish. They also removed a lump off his aquarium partner “Nemo”, his best friend and bowl buddy.

The difficult surgery involved an exotic consultant surgeon, a vet keeping the goldfish under anaesthetic and a nurse monitoring their heart rates. The two operations cost the owner nearly $750, but she believes they were absolutely worth it. Star came into the Gordon family after a being won at the local fair for pocket change.

Star, was won at a fairground stall 12 years ago, had to get a blind, cancerous eye removed.

The operation was carried out on the six-inch fish at Inglis’ 24-hour hospital by exotic animals expert Brigitte Lord.

She said: “This is a highly specialist field, using anaesthetic on a goldfish carries a very high risk, and I'm delighted for the owner that everything went well and the owners are happy.”

“The financial value of a goldfish may be quite small but I think the fact that someone should have paid that much for an operation reflects the true value of the bond between pets and humans.”

During the operations, the vets used Doppler ultrasound equipment to listen through earphones to pulse sounds in order to evaluate Star's blood flow. To keep the fish asleep throughout the procedure it was syringed with oxygenated water with anaesthetic in it.

After the operation, Star was delicately held in a bucket of oxygenated water and, with its mouth kept open, was gently moved (mimicking the swimming action and allowing water to flow over the gills) for around eight minutes before it effectively came back to life. Nemo had more straightforward surgery to remove a lump on him too.

Star and Nemo are kept in Janie Gordon's home in Dollar, but are owned by her 21-year-old daughter Abby, a student in Glasgow.

 “I know it seems like a lot of money to spend on an operation for a goldfish but what was the alternative? I think we've a social responsibility to look after our pets and I know my daughter would have been distraught if anything had happened to the goldfish.” said Janie.

Janie didn’t want Star to be lonely so had bought another fish in a pet shop after her daughter won him by throwing a ping-pong ball into a goldfish bowl. Both Star and his lifelong companion, Nemo, are now over their buddy surgery and happily reunited - holding pride of place in a tank in Janie's kitchen.

“Star is fine,” said Janie. “He’s swimming about happily and the vets have shown me how to give antibiotics too”.

“I probably couldn't have chosen a better vets. I'm not sure anyone else would have attempted it.” said Janie.

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