Thursday, October 28, 2010
Glofish (patented GM Danio rerio)
and few Physa acuta Im trying to get rid off!
Bog, river rocks
Substrate- black silica sand
Light - 2 X 24 watts
CO2- Not supplied
Needs replanting, snail removal and hinding/ arranging equipments
The boisterous Glofish .
Feeding time- discus gets a block of bloodworms
Monday, October 11, 2010
Photos- Devanand Pilai
They are the among the toughest tropical FW fish to keep . They are among the most expensive fish. They wont greet you like most fish do. They wont swirl in joy when you feed them. They wont splash a greeting when they see you. You just cant tame them. Then, what makes discus so special?
Well, they are beautiful. No matter whether they are in the wild form or come as bred variants. Is that all? Hell, no. A well kept tank with content discus makes a statement about its aquarist- she/he is an expert, who can keep the tank in mint condition- discus in the tank is a big show off. Its a public statement of your expertise in managing the chemical balance of water, the vegetation, the micro-organisms in there, the flora, the flooring, the nitrogen cycle. Its a statement that you can do everything WRT a FW tank- perfectly.
If you are into aquascaping , I cant suggest anything better than a mix of boisterous lil ones like neon tetras and a school of discus. It should present itself like a painting in you drawing room - redrawn every minute.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
I haven't explored all the places mentioned here. Nor do I intend to evaluate individual shops. Generally speaking, aquarium shops in Dubai and nearby places can provide you with a variety of tanks and fish. But when it comes to plants and aquascaping material, you may face difficulties. Staff in most of the shops cannot identify plant species, do not have much in stock except some pond weed and fanworts and a few bog wood. You might better forget CO2 supplied tanks and plant carpeted substrate.
For a beginner, I would strongly propose a visit to as many shops as you can for a week or so before buying anything so that you can compare options, availability, cost, hygiene and plan and budget a tank. Otherwise, odds are that you may wind up with a tank you did not envision.
Shops I know of, that supplies aquarium products are listed below:
1. Pet Zone has three branches- Next to Al Mazaya Center on Sheikh Zayed Road, Opposite to Lulu Hypermarket in Barsha and opposite to Hilton in Marina Walk.
2. Pet Corner in Green Community- interchange #7 , Sheikh Zayed Road (after Media and Internet City, before JAFZA) - I havent been to this place yet.
3. Top Pin and some nearby Chinese shops in I-Zone, Dragon Mart at International City, Hatta- Al Ain Highway- mostly equipment and tank at budget prices though you can buy fish also.
4. Creatures Oasis Satwa. Google dug it out. I havent been there.
5. World of Fishes Karama . There is also another shop next to Sunrise Supermarket in Karama
6. Shops at Animal Market, Near Sharjah fish market, Rolla Road, Sharjah. There are dozens of shops in this area.
7. Nature Beauty, Al Qusais Sheikh Colony, behind new metro station. The florist in Lulu Hypermarket Qusais also stocks some fish tank and limited supply of fish and equipment.
8. There is one in Bin Soughat Center, Airport Road, Rashidiya.
I will edit the post and add to the list when I discover a new place.
Few shopping tips:
Most of the places keep fish in reasonably good condition, but some places also keep birds mammals and reptiles in tiny cages, sometimes even with no place to move around.
Make up your mind on what you are looking for, in terms of species, size, health, color, brands, whatever you can think of. Sales personnel are employed to sell, period. They will try to make you buy what they have, which may not be what you want.
If you are buying live plants, snail treat them and wash them in a weak potassium permanganate solution before planting them in your tank. Snails and snail eggs come free with most of the plant purchases from almost anywhere. Once they get into your tank you may have a real tough time eliminating them and snail killers are too harsh on fish, biological traps may not work effectively and you may wind up buying loaches that were originally not planned to be part of the community.
Most of the shops does not have any standard price list- try bargaining and ask for quantity discounts- you may save substantially.
Ask for home delivery if you are buying tanks- chances are that you may get it free of cost.
Do not buy fish unless you know them, their feeding habits, water condition requirement, social behaviour, adult size. Buy fish that appear healthy, showing their natural swimming and schooling behaviour and kept in hygienic tanks.
Look for branded equipment and products. You may not have many options, but you can easily find Sera and Tetra products in almost every store.
Most of the sales personnel except in one or two stores do not speak much English or Arabic. If you can take a Hindi/ Urdu speaking friend along, you should be able to communicate better.
None of the shops I visited so far has a return/ guarantee system. Inspect thoroughly before you buy anything.
I wouldn't say there are any big challenges. Each place has its own peculiarities. If you relocated newly, you may want to know what peculiar aspects you should be aware of before setting up a fish tank.
- PH & hardness- tap water tends to be higher in PH and on the harder side. I usually get a PH level of 7.75 . If you are not comfortable with altering PH levels and hardness, selecting fish that are tolerant to these conditions is advisable. Some fish like discus need soft and acidic water. Others like Bala Sharks are very sensitive to PH changes.
- Space constraints- majority of people in Dubai live in apartments. Keeping stock of hoses, pipes, stand by/ breeding/ quarantine tanks and drums for storing tap water for temperature adjustment and dechlorination may be difficult.
- Air conditioning- most of the homes will have a air conditioners running around the clock and you will find aquarium lights on almost always for tropical tanks. Acrylic tanks seem to be a prudent choice for tropical fish and glass tanks for cold water fish since glass conducts heat easily.
- Chlorine- I haven't tested chlorine and chloramine of tap water yet. But aquarium supply companies have issued enough caveats. For small tanks, water drawn straight from a home water purifier may resolve chlorine, chemical and hardness problem at one go. You may need to add dechlorination chemicals every time you change water.
- Hot water- from May till October, tap water will be extremely hot and adding this direct to tank can be fatal. Storing water in a container may prove hard and tedious. If you keep the home water heater permanently off, you should be able to get cold water from the hot water tap! Also, restrict water changes to 10-15% of tank capacity at more frequency instead of standard 1/3 change during summer.
- Resources- aquarium supply stores seem to be fewer and smaller in Dubai, compared to other cities. Finding fish may not pose a problem, but search for plants, quality equipment and natural decoration can be challenging . A separate post is intended on this topic.
- Vacations- Trend here is that the whole family usually go on vacation, sometimes up to a month. If this is your case, you need to have a solid vacation plan. How to keep your fish safe and fed while you are not around is a challenge indeed.
- Expert help- I do not know any vet in Dubai who treats sick fish. Aquarium store personnel may not be experts in this either. You need to know at least the basics of fish health and illnesses.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Photo by Devanand Pillai
Our first fish tank was my first and my husband's second. Dev had, during his early school days, built a cement walled fish tank and kept some fish for some time and had some "experience" and reasonably good textual knowledge of fish species. I was a complete novice
We had the idea of having a home aquarium, but the flat we lived in had a tiny living room that couldn't accommodate any more furniture than sofas and book shelves. The day we moved to to a bigger flat we decided to "buy" an aquarium. We just walked into pet store a few blocks away, ordered the most beautiful looking one they had ready in stock, bought some plants and fish we liked and asked them to "set it" at our home that evening. Well, Dev did mention he wanted a tank cycling before fish are introduced. Hogwash, declared the pet shop guy. He had been setting up tanks all his life and there is absolutely no harm in introducing fish from day one. We were confused. I trusted the expert. Dev compromised by instructing the salesman to floor our tank with used gravel so that ammonia fixing bacteria will be there from beginning.
That day we had a tank up and running at our home, with angelfish, gold fish, Japanese kois, mollies and sucker catfish. Water was on the white cloudy side, fish seemed to be happy. They fed themselves readily. In a few days we found water was too cold, thanks to A/c, we fixed an immersible aquarium heater. Fish showed some signs of infection and we added a UV filter and things seemed somewhat fine.
The mollies died in a few days. All but one of the remaining fish are still fine. Not because we did a thing right, it just happened that they were strong enough to survive seemingly impossible challenges. We weren't smart, but the fish were lucky. They thankfully ate all the plants though. The tank is still up and running at our home for one and half years and we do intend to keep it. It could have been worse, all the fish could have died and we might have given up. That one made us buy books, do research, experiment and learn.
Looking back, I can identify at least a hundred mistakes we did. Top twenty in terms of seriousness are listed below so that readers of this blog (if any!) can learn from our mistakes.
- did not have a plan. We did not have a picture of the aquarium to be made in mind .
- did not plan space and did not decide in advance what size it should be and what material the walls should be made of.
- bought the fish we liked, not the ones we know well.
- did not cycle the tank, ammonia and nitrates could have killed them all.
- did not decide on the community of fish to keep and would up with a mixture of cold water and tropical fish.
- had fish that are incompatible in terms of size and behaviour.
- introduced fish on day one!
- did not test water quality- running water in Dubai is desalinated sea water, which is guaranteed to be high in PH.
- did not know what kind of food to be given at what frequency. Nor did we knew what to do with fish during vacation.
- did not know what should be the water temperature.
- did not know members of carp species will eat the vegetation in a single day.
- did not have a lay out plan and fish got hurt from the rock pieces we placed in tank.
- even placed seashells and conchs in the tropical tank.
- did not know when to change water and to what extent.
Most of us do not bother to read safety instructions of household gadgets and most of us operate them safely. Some of us get hurt or wind up with broke equips and almost always, these 'some of us' belong to the 'most of us' who threw the safety pamphlet away while opening package. Aquaria does not come with safety tips, you are presumed to know them. Worst outcome you can have trying to keep aquaria is to get injured, fall sick or hurt others. Well a few simple rules followed religiously should keep hazards out.
Prevention of Injuries
Never ever try to move a filled fish tank If you need to move or transport a tank move your fish to containers, empty tank, remove all decorations and preferably substrate and attempt to shift it.
Most fish tanks are usually too heavy to be lifted by one person. Ask for help instead of breaking your bones. When buying new tanks ask for home delivery and in Dubai, usually you get it free.
Never dip your hands into water while power is on for any gadget. Easier way is to have a single switch on the main outlet that can cut off all equipments. If any live wire going in or near water is frayed, replace it.
Place your fish tanks on firm and full support furniture. Best way to do this is to buy tanks that come with strong wooden stands. It looks neater and is safer.
Buy branded electrical equipment. If you do not know how safe is a gadget you found in a pet store, it is prudent to put it back in the shelf and do more research on it.
Prevention of infections
Though rare, it is possible to contact diseases from your pet fish. I am no molysmophobiac, but people usually assume they are putting their hands into clean water when they work with aquaria. Fish tanks host several pathogens, good and harmless bacteria and fish themselves may have illnesses that can be passed on to you. Listing out each of them would be tedious. Here is one good link if you would like to know about some of the diseases that fish can pass on to humans. TB is the most common illness you can get from your fish.
Almost all these diseases are passed on to humans in one of the two ways:
Ingestion of contaminated water- avoid this in two ways- never mouth siphon fish tank and wash your hands with soap after each dip of your hands in aquarium.
Pathogens reaching your body through wounds- never dip your hand in water if you have a cut, wound, blister or a sore that can get wet. And be careful not to get cuts and bruises from rocks, bog wood, sharp edges or plastic decoration material inside tanks.
Prevention of poisoning
Chemicals used for water testing, plant fertilizers, snail and algae killers , water conditioners and several other substances may prove harmful and can sometimes be lethal. Take care to read instructions, use gloves and if requires masks and ensure to wash hands afterwards.
Some pet fish such as lion fish and stinging cat fish are poisonous and can pass toxins to you. Never dip bare hands in tanks that have these fish even if fish are not near your hand- they can sting real fast like a bee.
I have a toddler who would like to mimic whatever me or his father does. Most of them are that way. They want to fit equipment, arrange decorations , do water testing and operate electrical gadgets. Amma does it, why not me? Instructions just doesn't work with children, they are far too curious and get tempted easily.
Keep all electric wires and outside tank equipments safely inside the cabinet or over the hood if these places are not accessible for the child.
Tanks should be topple proof. If you are not sure whether the child can climb up and reach fish tank, cordon it with furniture or deny access otherwise.
Lock up all chemicals, testing equipments, spare electric equipments and tools, fish feed properly in a cabinet. It is better to hide pipes and hoses too.
When you are performing water changes, involve children in whatever possible and safe ways- without getting them wet with used water and exposing them to chemicals. In my experience, kids learn and abide by rules and once it is clear to them these are to be done in adult company, they adhere to it. It works better than a complete no-no. It also helps them to build interest in fish keeping.