Cichlidiot (cich·lid·i·ot)

Fishkeeping for the masses

  • cich·lid : Any of various tropical and subtropical freshwater fishes of the family Cichlidae, many of which are popular as aquarium fish
  • id·i·ot : A foolish or stupid person
  • All original content is © 2006-2007 Cichlidiot.

PALHS 2007 Fish Show

Posted by cichlidiot on January 19, 2007

The Philippine Arowana and Luo Han Society (PALHS), one of the more active clubs in the aquarium scene in the Philippines, has announced that they will be holding their 2007 show from April 30 to May 6 at Tiendesitas, a high traffic bazaar-type establishment that is very popular among pet owners.

While the details have yet to be finalized, I’m optimistic that the event will help generate interest in the fishkeeping hobby, given the high profile nature of the location and the increasing quality of the fishes being shown.

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Posted in Shows and Events | Leave a Comment »

GloFish®: No Dyes

Posted by cichlidiot on January 16, 2007

As a fishkeeping hobbyist, one of the comments I often hear when friends come by to visit my house is “Why don’t you have a saltwater aquarium?”  This question inevitably pops up because some of the fish I keep, especially the cichlids, are rather drab in color.  While there are some exceptions, such as the variations of Symphysodon aequifasciatus(Discus), most freshwater fish (especially cichlids) tend to have less intense coloration than their saltwater cousins.  In the not-so-distant past, the only way to achieve the intense coloration of saltwater fish in a freshwater environment was to buy dyed fish, which would surely bring the ire of animal rights advocates.  Apparently, this isn’t the case today.

The company behind GloFish®, which is essentially a bio-engineered fluorescent Zebra Danio (Danio rerio), have developed the technology that allows these rather ordinary-looking fish to fluoresce through a process that involves the injection of a particular gene in fish eggs.  Furthermore, since the injected gene now becomes part of the genetic makeup of the fish, offspring from GloFish® will also possess this fluorescence.  Originally, these genetically-altered fish were supposed to be used in detecting pollutants in the water, but have now made inroads in the aquarium hobby as well.

I am certain that a great number of young budding aquarists will be attracted to these fish® as an alternative to keeping saltwater fish because of their similarly intense coloration.  Personally, I’m not so keen on the idea of keeping such fish.  While I’m sure my family would appreciate more color in our fish tanks, there are a lot of naturally-occurring freshwater fish species that have nice colors.  Besides, I believe there is a lot more to fishkeeping than having a number of brightly-colored fish swimming around in one tank.  Based on conversations I’ve had with some friends in the hobby, I think the natural progression of interest in this hobby moves from having colorful fish to being able to observe their natural behavior, hence the interest in maintaining specific biotopes to promote, among other things, breeding for intermediate fishkeepers.

Nonetheless, I would say that this development is generally good for the aquarium hobby, since, at the very least, it will get more people interested in fishkeeping.  I’m also all for cleaning up the environment, and since a portion of every purchase of GloFish® goes to the laboratory developing these fish for their intended use, I wouldn’t mind if these bio-engineered fish become highly popular.

Posted in General Fishkeeping | 1 Comment »

Aquarium Lab

Posted by cichlidiot on January 10, 2007

In keeping with my resolution to regularly monitor the water parameters of my various tanks, I’ve been looking around for some free aquarium management software.  While it isn’t free, the kind folks at SeaApple Software are offering a 30-day trial version of Aquarium Lab, a “complete aquarium tracking software package” that can be downloaded here.  At first glance, it looks like it’s geared towards saltwater aquariums.  Nevertheless, I’ll be giving Aquarium Lab a spin in the next few days, and hopefully have a short write-up on it sometime this weekend.

Posted in Real Life™ | Leave a Comment »

Got Fry?

Posted by cichlidiot on January 5, 2007

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When I was looking to get started with African cichlids from Lake Tanganyika, one of the most recommended species by other hobbyists was Neolamprologus brichardi, the so-called “Princess of Burundi”, so I got six juveniles and placed them in a 50 gallon specie tank. Based on my recent experiences, I’d say that this specie is a really good choice for anyone interested in keeping Tanganyikan cichlids.

Last October, around 4 months after I actually purchased them, I noticed that two of the six I originally got had paired up and spawned. Being a beginner, I decided not to remove the fry and just tried to feed them with some crushed pellets. Unsurprisingly, for the lack of effort, I ended up with four survivors.

While the four remaining Neolamprologus brichardi fry housed in a 50 gallon specie tank with 6 adults have yet to reach half an inch, their parents apparently decided it was about time to increase their numbers again. As of early this morning, I counted around 15 miniscule free swimming fry. I just hope more survive from this second spawn compared to the first. This is the first cichlid specie I’ve had that bred in the aquarium, and, from the looks of it, I have a lot more spawns to look forward to.

Posted in Spawn Log | 1 Comment »

New Year Resolutions

Posted by cichlidiot on January 1, 2007

Similar to everyone else, I’ve taken some time off today to look back at the year that was and to make my resolutions for 2007. While I do have a lot of personal resolutions, I’ve decided to make a few resolutions that pertain specifically to fishkeeping. It’s quite embarrassing to admit, but I sometimes find myself ignoring the very advice I give other people interested in fishkeeping as a hobby. So, without further ado, here are my resolutions for the new year.

Quarantine new fish: One of the most important and basic practices in fishkeeping, I haven’t really quarantined a new fish in a really long time. While I haven’t had any fatalities as a result of my non-existent quarantine procedures, I’m pretty sure I would feel really dumb if I lose some fish by not isolating newly purchased fish. As they say, better safe than sorry.

Spend at least 10 minutes daily observing my fish: Sometimes, the hustle and bustle of everyday life takes over and I end up just asking someone else to feed my fish. The downside with this is that feeding time is, in almost every case, the time when a fishkeeper finds out that something significant, such as a malfunctioning filter or a disease outbreak, has occurred. Just last October, I failed to recognize that two of my six Neolamprologus brichardi paired up and spawned. As a result, the fry count was only four, probably because the others died due to hunger, as I wasn’t able to hatch enough baby brine shrimp (BBS) in time to feed all of them.

Purchase test kits and monitor water parameters regularly: It’s quite comical, really, how I have 8 aquariums of various sizes, and not a single test kit for any of the major water parameters. I used to have some before, but I never bought more once I ran out. It must be the cheapskate in me, considering the price of such kits. Then again, every hobby ends up being more expensive than anticipated, once taken seriously. That being the case, I’m off to look for test kits for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate this weekend and probably test my water parameters weekly.

Hopefully, I have more success keeping these resolutions than I did in trying to keep the ones I made last year…

Posted in General Fishkeeping, Real Life™ | 2 Comments »

Sad State of Affairs

Posted by cichlidiot on December 29, 2006

On the way home from work today, I stopped by the SM Megamall branch of Bio Research, the Philippines’ largest chain of pet shops, for some fish food. As I was waiting in line, I noticed one of the staff packing up six juvenile Aequidens rivulatus in one bag for some poor unsuspecting customer. After politely telling him that I didn’t think that this was acceptable, he retorted that the fish were just skittish because they were stressed from being bagged.

I can’t help but wonder why the management team of Bio Research, which has such a dominating position in the industry, doesn’t see the merits of properly training and educating employees on topics such as proper fish care, at the very least. I would think that these people understand the basic principles of economics and business, and how the company stands to gain a lot more with a complement of knowledgeable staff, as compared to the status quo. Just take the case of the lady that purchased the six juvenile Aequidens rivulatus. There is a reason why this fish is called the Green Terror, after all, and I’m sure that at least one of them will die before 2007 is over, simply because the lady didn’t seem to know what she was getting herself into by buying this particular cichlid. Furthermore, there is a strong likelihood that this lady’s aquarium will see more deaths since she did not purchase an aquarium, meaning she probably already has an established tank with some community fish in it. In the short-term, Bio Research made a sale of P600, or the equivalent of $12. Now, if the unsuspecting lady who bought these fish gives up on fishkeeping as a hobby due to frustration over the death of her fish, then Bio Research has just lost another potential “regular” who could have easily brought in around P500 to P1,000 in revenues annually. Even if she doesn’t abandon fishkeeping altogether, chances are, her dissatisfaction with Bio Research will probably make her shop somewhere else.

Among the hobbyists I know, only a few have decidedly good experiences with Bio Research. I can’t imagine just how much potential revenue the management of Bio Research is giving up by neglecting to properly train the company’s employees. Considering that it is in their best interest to promote fishkeeping as a hobby, it’s a pity that stuff like this has to happen. Hopefully, they figure things out sooner than later.

Posted in Local Fish Stores, Real Life™ | 4 Comments »

Fishkeeping Utopia

Posted by cichlidiot on December 26, 2006

I’m sure that all fishkeepers wished there was a way to eliminate the need for those back-breaking water changes. I sure have, because I have to ask my personal care attendant and our family driver to do it for me because of my disability. Since water changes aren’t really part of their job descriptions, I can’t very well add yet another aquarium that they need to service weekly.

That being said, I came across a thread at Aquarium Advice (one of the forums I usually lurk in) where the merits of a denitrifying filter were discussed. I followed a link to a company called North Coast Pets, which offers such a product. The first thing that struck me was this particular line: “Imagine… an aquarium that almost never needed water changes.” This caught my attention for two reasons. Firstly, if the implication is that such a device could eliminate the need for regular water changes, then it would definitely interest me, despite the hefty $600 price tag. Secondly, I seriously doubt the effectiveness of a product that makes such bold claims while going against conventional wisdom.

While I don’t have the resources to actually purchase one just for the sake of a controlled experiment, I’d sure love to hear from others who have used such a device. In the meantime, I’m pretty sure that partial water changes will still be part of my regular aquarium maintenance routine, at least until such time that scientific proof shows that these denitrifying filters actually work.

Posted in Equipment, General Fishkeeping | 1 Comment »