Thursday, January 31, 2008

Planting & pruning

Planting & Pruning you’re aquatic Plants:

With planted tanks starting to come into their own right along side fish tanks there is an untold amount of information on how to set up and keep them alive, but very little on how to look after the plants in respect of “planting and pruning” them. Here I hope to be able to give you at least the basics of planting & pruning your under water plants.
Basic plant lay out

There are 4 basic types of aquatic plants:


Stem plants:

When getting ready to plant a stem plant, first cut with a scissors or knife an angled cut just above one of the healthy green nodes leaving as much of the plant as is possible. When you plant it, push the lower part of the fresh cut plant roughly half to three quarters of the depth of the gravel. Allow enough space between plants to allow light to reach the lower leaves. Stem plants are usually planted in their own random patterned group using five to eight stems. When the stem plant finally grows to the top of your aquarium, it will have rooted and sent out white roots in some species, from the nodes all the way up the plant.

Long-stemmed plants should be trimmed to size that will complement and be in balance of the rest of the tank layout. The scissors should be as sharp as possible. Two or three new leaves will grow from each cut, so the plants may become top-heavy with growth after too much trimming and the stems will break easily. When this starts to happen, trim the plants less often and higher up on the stem. The cut off heads can also be re-planted if wanted.


Top cutting: the top part of the plant is the active growing part so makes for the most reliable of cuttings.

Middle cuttings: Although mid sections can be used they will take longer than top sections to establish as they have to not only grow roots but also side shoots to form healthy growth.

Bottom cuttings: when top or middle section pruning has been done the lower section can be left in check and will form new buds from where it has been cut.

Rhizome plants:

Plants with rhizomes “DO NOT GET PLANTED” they are attached to wood, rock or décor or simply sat on top of the substrate.
Anubias: (one of the most popular aquatic plants) are strong and can live for a long time, but Anubias leaves get covered with algae very easily, so if you spot any ugly looking leaves (dead, algae-covered, full of holes, etc,) remove them quickly, and new leaves will grow. You can also cut the rhizome of the Anubias if it starts growing in a direction you don't want (and you can replant the cut part).
Ferns: such as Microsorum (java fern) and Bolbitis grow quickly and will soon over take the balance of the layout. Leaves should be removed once they become too big or old. Microsorum develops black spores under its leaves for reproduction. The ugly spores and secondary rhizomes should be removed carefully so as not to damage the main rhizome.

Rooted/pot plants:

Potted plants: are supplied with the plant specimen rooted into mineral wool inside a slatted plastic pot. To plant, cut off the pot or gently tap out the mineral wool bound root portion if root growth allows.
Tap the pot and remove the plant with all the rock wool

Gently separate the wool.

Some potted plants can have between 3 and 4 or more separate plants.

Gently remove the mineral wool from the roots (If some mineral wool remains this will not have any adverse or detrimental effects) and then can be planted. Spread the roots out to prevent “Bunching” which can cause root rot and trim any excessively long roots to size.
The above plants are trimmed the same as stem plants in between the leaves.

Cryptocoryne’s: also need to be trimmed! The most important thing about cutting Crypt leaves is to cut it right at the bottom, otherwise you will be surprised by a nasty mass of dead matter after lots of wrong trimmings.

Plants with runners:
Other plants include those that grow runners from their roots E.G. valls.
Depending on what the plant is they are normally held together by a lead type weight or in a pot with wool(hair grass) for example.

Then separated into individual plants ready for planting.

Propagating plants with runners:
Small and large plants that grow runners are separated by cutting in between each new growth.

Small ground plants that produce runners are no different in the technique used for planting.

When plants that grow from runners, like E. tenellus, Glossostigma, Vallisneria, and Sagittaria, become too thick, their roots will suffocate unless they are trimmed. Sagittaria and Vallisneria don't grow over themselves no matter how thick they get, so simply removing dead leaves from time to time is sufficient. E. tenellus and Glossostigma are small plants, however, and when they become dense, the leaves will pile up five or six leaves deep and the lower ones will become completely asphyxiated. These grow along the walls, so carefully cut and remove the runner around 7cm from the wall to prevent overgrowth.
Floating plants:
These are exactly what they say they are, floating plants. once they have been removed from any packaging they are simply placed in the water surface and left to float.

With floating plants they can very quickly over run the whole surface area with out you realising it and block out light to lower plants this could cause an algae problem for higher light plants below if they are restricted from their light source.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Planted tanks 2

Kittiwakes low light tank

Tank 180L(47.5g) Lighting 2.4wpg, no CO2 injection, no significant plant feeding except regular water changes, fish waste and the occasional plant food dosing (~once a month). Whilst things don’t grow like crazy there is reasonable growth. If I spent a bit of effort on the plants I could probably get better growth but I am happy with how it is. Only problem is Amazon sword grows out of tank then frazzles its leaves on the luminaire.

Bill's low light tank

160L community tank with 38w lighting= 43 US gal = 0.88wpg! No Co2, API Plant Zone weekly.That's supposed to be only able to support stuff like java moss and Anubias.

Curlywigs Tank

Wilson's Tank

Pauldrinkwater's tank

Fenn444 tank

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Basic Plant Care

Basic Guide to caring for your plants:


This is merely a guide to answer the very basic questions of plant keeping.

There are 3 main elements that aquarium plants need for photosynthesis.

  • Light
  • Temperature
  • c02

All of these are fully dependent on each other, that is to say if there is enough of 2 of them and the 3rd is in short supply then the 1st 2 will reach a plateau way below their needs.
There is of course other requirements needed but these three are by far the most important as if the plant can’t get these resources they will not be able to use any other of the elements needed to grow.

  • Lighting

Types of light:
Plants need light for photosynthesis to take place. In nature that would of course be sunlight and we have to try and replicate this as much as possible.
Always make sure that the lighting you use is suitable for aquarium plants and can be in a wide variety, tungsten, fluorescent, metal halide. The spectrum of the lights can have an effect on plant growth.
Lighting of the correct type will be of no use at all if the amount of time is
In-correct. This can be from 8-12hrs depending on the set up you have.


There are many types of substrate that can be used. Plain gravel, coloured gravel, sand, and don’t forget a good planted tank will always benefit from a “plant substrate” under the gravel or sand to help feed the roots.
The depth should be approx 2” at the front of the tank rising to approx 3” at the rear of the tank.
Then of course you can fit in landscaping with rocks etc to form terraces to complement you aquascape

Water Chemistry

This can be a very complex subject and will not be possible to discuss this fully here since one part effect another in so many different ways and each aquarium is different to the next.
So much so that in general we need a pH around 7, nitrates around 5-10, and depending on if dosing or not low to zero p04 etc etc.


Most tanks are in the mid range of 75f/24c and most plants and fish will live in harmony with each other. A good few plants do prefer a cooler environment.

Plant Food

A wide range of plant foods are now available and are down to personal choice and cost. One excellent liquid feed, of which I have used, is “tropica plant nutrition” used n conjunction with tropica plant substrate can produce excellent results.
Also available are plant tabs that are used in the substrate at the roots of the plants.


· under gravel filter
· internal filter
· external filter

· Under gravel filters are not normally recommended for planted aquariums but I know of a few that use these with just as good results as any other filter available.

· Internal filters can be as good as external filters depending on the overall set up of the tank

· External filters are and have become the normal so to speak for most planted and fish tanks. They offer excellent flow rates and durability and cleaning outside the tank for fewer disturbances to the tank in general.


For some reason most people dislike snails in their aquariums but are an important part of the tanks eco-system. In part snails don’t eat your plants but waste food and algae. If snails are on your plants it is most likely they are eating algae or rotten plant matter. There are of course plants that snails will enjoy snacking on and if this is a problem then fish in the form of clown loaches will soon sort this problem out.


There are of course some fish which will devour most plants in an aquarium, Oscars, silver dollars, large plecos etc. other small to medium fish will be more than happy to live in your planted tank.

Planting Tips

Stems & Bunches:
If you have a plant with a single stem with leaves coming directly off the stems, then they can be planted directly into the gravel and should root fairly quickly.
If they are shooting roots at points up the stem then they are plants that can get their nourishments directly from the water column. E.g. Elodia, Cabomba, Hygrophylia.

Single plants:
Most single plants can be planted directly into the substrate without any problems.
A few exceptions are those that come to a central point at where the roots emanate from and these plants must be planted with their crown visible above the substrate.
If they float after planting them then bury them for a couple of days then very slowly ease them up above the top of the substrtae.
There are too many to even think of listing them here but include, vallisneria,Echiodorus and sagittaria.

There can be confusion over bulb type plants as many tend to bury them as they do with garden bulbs. Aquarium bulbs should not be buried as they will end up rotting away in most cases. Simply sit the bulb on top of the substrate and let them do their own thing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ferts & c02

General guide to EI dosing for a 125L tank

With EI it is suggested that each chemical is added separately or at least until you get the feel for the dosing then may be all the ferts can be added into one bottle. Those listed below are for macro nutrients dosing. For trace mix use “tropica plant nutrition” or “seachem flourish”

Potassium Nitrate - 40g to 500ml of water and adding 10ml per 100L of water would give you 5ppm NO3.

Potassium Phosphate - 15g to 500ml of water and adding 5ml per 100L of water would give you 1ppm PO4.

Potassium Sulphate - 55g to 500ml of water and adding 10ml per 100L of water would give you 5ppm K.

Magnesium Sulphate - 70g to 500ml of water and add 50ml once a week per 100L of water - this would give you 7ppm Mg.

Tank volumes are in US gallons.

To convert to UK gallons multiply these figures by 0.83 Your tank is 125L=33 us galls.

20-40 Gallons (76-152 litres)

20ml solution or 1/4 tsp KNO3 3x a week

12ml solution or 1/16 tsp KH2PO4 3x a week

5ml solution or 1/16 tsp K2SO4 3x a week5ml or 1/16 tsp traces 3x a week

Sunday ....... 50% water change. Add KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4

Monday....... Add traces

Tuesday...... Add KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4

Wednesday...... Add traces

Thursday...... Add KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4

Friday...... Add traces

Saturday...... Rest day


You will need the ferts which I link you to from AE. KNO3,KH2P04,K2SO4 and magnesium Sulphate 4 x 500ml bottles.

Mix ferts as per above and dose as above

Checking c02 levels

All plants will benefit from c02 in any tank, be it low light or high light.

The one problem people tend to have is how to check how much c02 is in the tank. This can be done one of two ways.

1. The most common method of checking c02 is taking the pH/kH read and checking them against a c02 table, the aim is to have a reading within the green boxes. This method is fine and has been used for a great many years, but, this method has ONE MAJOR problem, it relies on the water column having “NO BUFFERS” in the water. If any buffers, ph up or pH down etc or even p04 are in the water then the reads will not give a true account of the total c02 in the water.

2. The more favoured and more accurate way of checking c02 is by using a drop checker and a 4dkh solution. This when placed in the tank will show by a blue, yellow or green color what the c02 levels are.
Blue = too little. Yellow = too much. Green = OK.
Green indicates a c02 level of 30ppm. There are other dkh solutions that can be used 3 & 5dkh which give higher or lower reads than 30ppm depending on the level you want but 30ppm is the more natural for a planted tank.

Turn drop checker upside down and half fill the ball (approx 5-6 drops) of 4dkh solution
2. Add 1-2 drops of APIs low pH solution bromo blue) the amount of bromo blue will not affect the read only the deepness of the color.
3. Turn the drop checker the right way up, being careful not to spill the solution.
4. Place the drop checker in the tank so it is visible.
5. Approx 1hr after you place the drop checker in the tank you should see the color of the regent changed or starting to change. After 2hrs you should be able to read the color as is to get the correct level of c02 in the tank

Drop checkers & 4dkh solution can be found here:

So how does this little glass ball work?
A drop checker is basically a reservoir that holds an indicator solution, 4 deg° KH standard and a pH indicator, “bromo blue”(found in API low pH test kit) and an air space that separates the aquarium water from coming into contact with the indicator solution.

When CO2 is injected, and the aquarium water contains more CO2 than the indicator solution, the injected CO2 will outgas from the aquarium water into the airspace inside the drop checker. The CO2 in the air space of the drop checker will then be absorbed into the indicator solution (bromo blue) inside the drop checker. That absorption of CO2 into the indicator solution will then lower the pH, which in turn will change the color of the pH indicator.

When CO2 is NOT injected into the aquarium, and the indicator solution contains more CO2 than the aquariumwater, the CO2 will outgas from the indicator solution into the airspace inside the drop checker. From the airspace inside the drop checker the CO2 will get reabsorbed into the aquarium water. The out gassing of CO2 from the indicator solution inside the drop checker will raise the pH of the solution (bromo blue) which will change the color of the pH indicator.

Setting up a planted tank


Co2 injection does more than just help your plants grow better, it adds for better water quality and also offers a way to gradually reduce the pH in the tank. Which can aid in some cases a better quality of fish as well as plant life?The simplest co2 system is the natural fermentation process to supply carbon dioxide to the water and more cost effective for the smaller tank set ups.
The lager the tank the more c02 needed and would suggest the system of bottled co2, valves and gauges.Forethought is the key to a well planted and designed planted aquarium, which should be viewed as an enjoyable not a chore aspect of your planted tank.In order to gain an aspect of this beautiful hobby, there is an abundance of books and reading material on the market to help you through every step of the way to setting up and maintaining you planted aquarium.
The first step in setting up your tank is to choosing the substrate to cover the bottom of the tank and help keep the plants from floating around.Gravel aprox 2 to 5 cm will be sufficient and should be sloped from the front up to the rear, the rear being deeper than the front. This will give a vision of depth to the finished display of your tank. There is an array of types of gravel on the market and is more often chosen for personal choice than for suitability. I.e. the darker the gravel the better to bring out the color of some of your fish, the likes of neon tetras & cardinals will be more prominent in front of dark backgrounds but will be lost if you have white or bright colored gravel.
When purchasing gravel make sure it is inert, as some gravel can alter your water quality in different ways. Always read any information on the package and don’t be afraid to ask questions before you buy. It is also wise to consider using a laterlite at this stage as trying to put this in after the tank is set up is only asking for trouble and headaches.Once you have your gravel in the tank its time to start your aquascaping of the tankPlace rocks and any wood in a way so as to give an overall visual balance to the tank.
Try to place rock and wood in such a way to add depth. I.E. rock sloping from the rear to the front will give a cascading affect. Then place your plants in the tank, again following the above rule. Rocks and wood can be used to highlight some of your favorite plants, the larger of these being placed at the rear or to the side of the tank.
Rocks can be used to make walls or dividers and raised areas for planting in the way you would do in a house garden.Bogwood is excellent for dividing the taller plants at the rear from the smaller plants at the front, and is ideal for attaching the plants Anubias or moss type plants that need tying down. Some stunning effects can be achieved using these methods. If you are not sure about planting at the start, there are now a number of plants that can be bought already attached to bogwood in various forms.As I stated in one of my other articles do not rush setting up your planted tank.
I hope you have as much fun and enjoyment from your planted tank as I do.

Setting up a planted tank

This article will be dedicated to help beginners set up their new tank and help them through the set up period of their planted tank.
The thread will be done in stages, from buying your equipment, tank etc to the final stage of turning on the power and getting your plants to grow.
This article is intended for beginners to planted tanks in general and for those who have no or little experience of setting up a planted tank. Although fish are and will become apart of your set up we will not be dealing with them in this thread.

So were do we start?
At this stage you have obviously decided to set up a planted tank and are scratching your head wondering what to buy and were to put it.
The first thing to do BEFORE running out and buying a tank is to STOP! and think of these 2 questions first.
1. Where you are going to put the tank?
2. How big a tank can you have (this depends on not only cost but the amount of space you have in your house or apt, and if you have wooded floors or concrete floors.
Once you have decided how big a tank you want and were you are going to place the tank (and this must NOT be in direct sunlight) then you go and get your tank.

For a normal every day aquarium it would be best to choose an all in one aquarium e.g. jewel aquariums, or similar come complete with everything you need to set up and go you just need to add water, gravel, plants and fish.
If you decide to set up all individual items then this is a bit harder to do.
After deciding on the size of the tank you then have to choose the rest of the equipment to match the size of the tank. You will need the following equipment:

FILTER (internal or external)

Internal or external: Internal filters work fine and come with most all-in-one set ups but limit the space you have in the tank for displaying your plants and can also look unsightly.
External filters are more suited to lager set ups but they also give better circulation to any size of tank.
Under gravel filters are very rarely used in planted aquaria and are also difficult to maintain for cleaning properly.

The most important thing about the heater is that you get the correct wattage for the size of your tank.
Internal heaters are fine and again come with most all-in-one set ups. If you are going to keep fish in your planted tank then you must make sure the heater has a protective cover to stop the fish burning them selves on it.


If you choose to have an open top aquarium you will not need a hood.
But in general you will a hood that has or will accommodate enough lighting to help grow your plants and to stop some fish from jumping out the tank.
Lighting now days comes in al sorts of different types (explain later) but for the everyday tank normal aquatic tubes with two extra tubes fitted will do for now.

You will need something to hold the plants down to stop them floating around the tank. Gravel comes in different sizes and colours and this is up to the individual to decide on that, but as a general rule the gravel should not be to big or the roots will not hold and you will have floating plants. Sand can also be used.
Substrate is a layer of fertiliser like substance placed under the gravel to allow the roots to feed correctly. Substrate is important but you can do with out if necessary.
C02 is imho one of the most important additions to any planted tank and makes a world of difference to all plants.

Routine Maintainace of your tank

• Check for any missing livestock and their health. Check that all plants show NO signs of ill health.
• Check water temperature
• Make sure that all equipment is working. E.g. lights and filters(s)

Twice weekly
• Gently disturb any fine leaved plants such as cabomba and dense foregrounds, hairgrass etc to remove any trapped debris which can weaken the plant

• Test water for nitrItes (N02), nitrAtes (N03) pH & hardness. pH/hardness will determine the c02 in the tank
• Remove dead or weak leaves and other plant matter.
• Use an algae magnet, pad or scraper to remove excess algae from the glass.
• Siphon or remove any mulm from the surface of the gravel etc. and replace the water you have removed whilst doing this with new, dechlorinated water. Siphon out enough water to give you at east a 20% water change, this will help replenish minerals and help to lower nitrItes and phosphates.
• Replenish liquid ferts after water changes as per manufactures instructions. REMEMBER to only add ferts to the amount of water you have removed, NOT to the total of water in the tank as this will lead to excess nutrients and may cause an algae bloom.
• Clean the tank glass and any condensation under the hood and around the lights. This will help the light penetration into the tank.

Every two weeks
• Thoroughly clean half the sponge in the internal filters using water from the aquarium. Then tip it away.

• Switch off external filters and clean the media in water from the aquarium.
• Replace any filter floss

Every three months
• Check substrate for any compaction and gently loosen it with your fingers
• Remove and clean impellers and housing in pumps and filters

Every 6-12 months
• Replace fluorescent tubes. Replace them aprox after 10mths even if they appear to be working fine as they loose their power and intensity.
• Replace filter sponges. Over time the bacterial capacity of sponges diminish and they need to be replaced. Only replace HALF at a time and the other half about a month later, this will reduce the loss of bacteria.

When needed
• Replenish liquid ferts as per instructions
• Check c02 supplies so as you don’t run short
• Trim large plants so they don’t grow across the surface and block out the light
• Trim large stem plants and any that have become thin at the base, cut the tops off and re-plant.
• Large leaf plants such as Echinodorus sp. Need to have their large outer leaves removed and roots trimmed, they should respond with new healthy smaller leaves for you.
• Remove any debris from the tank, e.g. any loose or floating dead leaves, and old leaves that have become tatty or have algae on them and any uneaten food that you missed when cleaning the gravel.

Good plants for beginners

The ideal conditions required for plants in the aquarium are not always the same as that for your fish. So how do they live together in nature? Very simply the aquarium is not the same as real life, i.e. you wouldn’t normally find the plants we keep in our tanks living together in true life. As also some fish will destroy plants when in an aquarium but we won’t deal with that here.
Below are some plants that should grow in most, if not all fresh water aquariums. This is intended for beginners, and not for the more experienced aquarist. These plants are probably the hardiest of all aquatic plants.

Probably the most well known aquarium plant. This is a very hardy plant and adapts well to nearly all types of water conditions. Root type. Placement: rear of tank
Again adjusts well to most water conditions. Root type. Placement: middle/rear
Very strong plant that does well to help reduce nitrates in the fight against algae. Root type. Placement: middle/rear.
Very like Amazon sword. But one type actually grows a flower type head through out the year. I use this one like a water tester. If it is growing well and flowers then there is not much wrong with your water. Rhizome type. Placement: middle/foreground.
Said not to do to well in harder water but other varieties would do better. Ideal foreground plant creating a carpet effect. Root type. Placement: foreground.

The above 5 plants are IMO the most popular in the plant range for aquariums depending on the type you are seeking.
Although I have not listed ph range or temp range for the above it is more important to keep the tank stable in water stats as it is while fish keeping.
I suggest the beginner does some homework before going out and getting what he thinks will look great in the tank only to find the fish have eaten it, or it has died by the end of the first 2 weeks because the plant is not suited to that type of environment or the fish you keep. Plants are very much like the fish you keep, they have different requirements than that of your fish so you have to make good for the fish as well as the plants.
You may as I did, start an aquarium and then start to add plants and find you then want the best of both worlds. Hope this helps to shed some light on happy plant as well as fish keeping.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

General Water Hardness

General Water Hardness
0 to 4 dh 0 to 70 ppm Very Soft
4 to 8 dh 70 to 140 ppm Soft
8 to 12 dh 140 to 210 ppm Medium Hard
12 to 18 dh 210 to 320 ppm Fairly Hard
18 to 30 dh 320 to 530 ppm Hard
>30 dh >530 ppk Very Hard

Water Chemistry.pH/kH/gh


PH Scale

Defines how acidic or alkaline the water is. The scale ranges from 0 -14. A pH value of 7 is called neutral, It is neither alkaline nor acidic. Below 7 is acidic and higher than 7 is alkaline. Each number on the scale between 7-0 is 10 times more acidic than it’s next higher number. So 6 is 10 times more acidic than 7, and 5 would be a 100 times more acidic than 7 and so on. The numbers between 7-14 are alkaline and the higher number is 10 times more alkaline than it’s next lower number. So 8 is 10 times more alkaline than 7, and 9 would be a 100 times more alkaline than 7 and so on.

Raise pH

Add coral or limestone to filter, Add rocks or sand containing limestone or coral into tank, Use a alkaline chemical purchased from LFS, Aerate the water.

Lower pH
Do water changes with RO water or even softened water, Add peat into filter, Add some bog-wood to the tank, Inject CO2, Use an acid chemical purchased from LFS.


Carbonate hardness or temporary hardness. Measures waters ability to buffer added acid, in other words stop drops in pH.

Raise kH
Adding sodium bicarbonate eg “baking soda“, Aerate the water, Adding products purchased from LFS to increase kH.

Lower kH
Injecting CO2, Do water changes with RO water mixed with tap water to get desired kH, Adding products purchased from LFS to decrease kH.


General hardness measures dissolved magnesium, calcium and other elements. gH doesn’t directly affect pH, The interaction of higher gH and kH does affect waters pH, making water more alkaline. Acidic water usually has low gH and kH.

Raise gH
Adding calcium carbonate will also increase kH, Adding limestone will also increase kH, Adding marble chipping will also increase kH all of these options will cause an increase in pH .

Lower gH
Add peat into filter, Do water changes with RO water mixed with tap water to get desired gH, Add water softener products purchased from LFS to decrease gH this removes calcium and magnesium and replaces them with sodium. Caution is advised if using this because it is said that soft water fish don’t like sodium.

Take great care, Any changes to pH should be done gradually to avoid stressing your fish.

Signs of deficiencies

Signs of deficiencies:

Old leaves turn yellowish/ redNitrogen deficiency
Leaf loss and small dead areasPhosphate deficiency
Black/ brown leaves, plants dieExcess phosphates
Yellow spots on old leaves and yellowish margins on
younger leaves
Potassium deficiency
Yellowish margins on young leaves with deformat
Calcium deficiency
Yellow spots on old leaves
while veins stay green
Magnesium deficiency
Young leaves turn yellow
Sulfur deficiency
Yellowing leaves starting from the tip then become

Iron deficiency
Yellow spots between the veins, margins and tipsZinc deficiency
Plant stays small slow or now growth white deposits
on leaves (calcium)

CO2 deficiency
Fish gasp for air on surfaceExcess CO2
Sluggish fish no plant growth
Oxygen deficiency
Plants stop growing/ black rootsSubstrate problem

Iron Deficiency

This is a classic sign of iron deficiency in plants.
Iron is a MICROnutrient and although thought for many years that iron(as well as phosphates p04) cause algae it does if to much is in the tank and other nutrients are not balanced.

Potassium Deficiency

This is a classic sign of potassium deficiency in plants.
If potassium is not available to plants the start to disintegrate showing holes and leaves go very brittle.

c02 deficiency

c02 deficiency shows up as black markings on java fern as shown here.

Algae Alert


So you got the algae bug and you want to know why? What to do? And how to get rid of it? I will try and answer the above in one simple answer!


So now you think that all you have to do is add nutrients and fertilizers and all will be fine. Well it’s not quite that simple.What you have to do is get the right nutrients and or fertilizers, and the correct amount (balance) in the tank or you end up with what you don’t want. ALGAE all over your tank.
At the end of the day algae is a plant, and you have the conditions in your tank for growing plants so in stands to reason that algae is going to grow if the conditions are right just as much as any other plant in your tank.When people get algae in the tank they tend to panic and start throwing in all sorts of anti algae drops and anything else they think will kill it, just as I did when I first got my first bloom. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way nor is it that easy.Plants and algae need 4 basic things to live and survive correctly. Light, nitrogen, phosphate and potassium.
Both plants and algae fight to the end to compete for the best of everything in the tank.You have enough light because you may, as I have done have just put in the extra tube, the fish are throwing out all sorts of nitrogen and probably phosphate as well in their waste and the only thing that is not in any large amounts is potassium, one of the most over looked additions. There is no evidence that I have found that potassium invites or encourages algae in any tank.But again if you do as I did and remove all the phosphates from the water then the plants will not flourish and will be weak and leave them then being unable to take up other vital nutrients that they need to survive, (without going into to much detail) plants need a good supply of all nutrients to be able to take onboard other nutrients. Which for example can lead to high nitrate levels if the plants don’t consume enough nitrAte, this is then left in the water.
Again with out going into great detail there is what is considered to be main elements that plants need to survive well, these are broken down into 2 groups:


  • Hydrogen .
  • Oxygen .
  • Carbon .
  • Nitrogen .
  • Calcium .
  • Magnesium .
  • Phosphate .
  • Sulfur

MICROnutrients (trace).

  • Iron.
  • Manganese.
  • Chlorine.
  • Zinc.
  • Baron.
  • Nickel.
  • Copper.
  • Molybdenum

Some of these I have only read about, some I do know about and some that I have first hand experience of, but as with everything, we are learning all the time.Higher plants consume the nutrients faster and easier than the lower ground plants thus leaving very little for the algae to feed on.
That doesn’t mean though you will not get algae, you will because it came in when you started putting plants in the tank and they were not quick enough to get to the nutrients before the algae did.The fewer the plants you have the more likely algae will appear as the plants don’t use up all the nutrients so leaving more for the algae to amass itself.IMO it would probably be easier to rid algae in a fish only tank, for as I was going to attempt a black out period to rid the algae I decided against it, as for the plants need light to thrive, so I still don’t know if a black out of a planted tank works or not.
I must admit I have probably learnt more about algae in my time of fish keeping than I have about fish keeping its self. The latest bloom happened when I tried to put in a new laterite under the gravel, I messed it up and ended up with what you see in the other pictures because of the excess iron in the water instead of under the gravel to feed the roots. Although there are different forms of algae, excess iron is the most common cause of hair algae, which is like threads of very fine green hair growing over the tank which I found to be more prominent in the upper half of the tank and around the filter top where the water outlet is, as this is where algae can also consume vast amounts of oxygen.
It has been stated in another article on a different site that iron is easy to get rid of with water changes, and I do agree to a certain level, but when you do what I did it is NOT that easy.Although I am trying to explain about the nutrients plants need, I have to add that other elements the likes of cleanliness of water, regular water changes (of which too many over a short time can be just as bad as no water changes) all play a part in keeping ALGAE away.So over all, the key to a clean near algae free tank has a lot to do with BALANCE.
I am not going to say there are many ways to rid algae but more reduce it and stunt its growth, as I have tried to explain it is all about NUTRIENT CONTROL, but there are dips and chemicals available to aid this should you need, or should I say WHEN you need.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

water calculators

c02 Calculator

General Water Hardness

0 to 4 dh 0 to 70 ppm Very Soft
4 to 8 dh 70 to 140 ppm Soft
8 to 12 dh 140 to 210 ppm Medium Hard
12 to 18 dh 210 to 320 ppm Fairly Hard
18 to 30 dh 320 to 530 ppm Hard
>30 dh >530 ppk Very Hard

Gh Calculator

Click anywhere out of the field for calculation.



Length (in inches) = in.

Width (in inches) = in.

Height (in inches) = in.

Volume gals

How to do a black out


There seems to be quite a lot of questions about algae on all forums I attend just lately as always it is a bad point with many people. Personally I like some algae in my tanks to give a more natural look and feel to the tanks.
Those that don’t like and want to rid algae in a tropical tank with or with out plants, can use the blackout (BO) method. BO does NOT cure the underlying problem that has caused the algae bloom in the first place but mealy re-sets the tank conditions back to as near normal as possible.
Depending on the severity of the algae bloom a BO can be from 3 days to 5 days.

1. Feed the fish about 1hr before starting the blackout (BO) then do a 50% water change.
2. Turn off c02 if you use it and install an air stone. If you don’t have an air stone to Airriate the water then adjust the filter so it moves the surface of the water as much as possible.
3. Completely cover the tank in the darkest sheets you have or double layers of black bin bags to block out ALL light.
4. Leave the tank fully covered for 5 days. YES fully covered for 5 days.
DO NOT PEEP. DO NOT FEED THE FISH. I must admit I did peep half way through a BO just to check all the fish and that there were no problems in the tank, and then recovered till the end of the 5 days.
5. At the end of the BO DO NOT remove all covers at once but slowly remove the covers over approx half an hour so as not to blind the fish with excess light. Do a 50% water change and lightly feed the fish. Remove air stone and restart c02 if it is used.

After doing the BO depending on the type of algae you had you may find the filter might be running a bit slower than normal if the algae has blocked the filter. If this is the case DO NOT strip the filter down as the tank is already a bit unbalanced due to the slowing of the plants during the blackout and the dieing algae.
You need to have a stable bio-film to process any ammonia issues quickly. With an extensive cleaning of your filter you will more than likely remove a huge portion of the bio-film and bio-filtering capacity.
The blackout method does work, I know by experience, in most tropical and planted tanks with community fish. If you have sensitive fish I would strongly advise to seek advice before doing a BO.
The only problem I know of at this time doing a BO is that some of the more delicate plants may suffer as will all plants having no light. Most will be leggy after the BO as they have been searching for any light. This should pass and within a week should be back to near normal.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Plant Speices

Japanese Moss Ball
(Chladophora aegagropila)

Scientific Name Chladophora aegagropila
Common Name Moss Ball
Category Mass
Temp 15-28
pH 6-8
Lighting low-medium
Growth V.Slow
difficulty V. Easy
Origin Japan
Position in Tank Anywhere

Moss balls are undemanding, beautiful aquarium plants. Their eye catching spherical shape makes them an interesting addition to an aquarium or biorb.
Moss balls can grow to a maximum size of 12 inches in diameter!
They are not only beautiful, but also help to reduce algae growing in the aquarium. Algae requires nutrients to grow, particularly phosphates and nitrates. Moss balls use these nutrients in the aquarium thus starving nusciance algae and reducing its growth.
Shrimps love to browse on the microorganisms found living on these plants.
Moss balls do not need any specialist care. They prefer moderate to bright light levels. Simply place your moss ball in the aquarium - do not push it into the gravel.
Moss balls are native to Japanese lakes and are so sought after that they have become a protected species. They have subsequently become a national treasure of Japan.
This has to be one of the easiest, low maintenance, useful and beautiful aquarium plants

Ambulia Sessiliflora

Name Ambulia sessiliflora
Category Stem
Temp 15-28
pH 6-8
Lighting low-medium 2
Growth Fast
difficulty Easy
Origin Southeast Asia
Position in Tank Background

Anubias Barteri.

Scientific Name
Anubias Barteri
Common Name Var:nana
Category Rhizone
Temp 20-28
pH 6-8
Lighting V.low-medium
Growth V.Slow
difficulty V. Easy
Origin -------
Position in Tank Attached to décor


Anubias barteri var. nana is a small, attractive plant which thrives in all conditions. It grows slowly, and the leaves survive for several years, giving slow-growing algae the chance to become established. The best result is achieved by planting on a stone or tree root. Fishing line can be used to attach the plant until it gains a hold. If planted on the bottom the rhizome must not be covered because it tends to rot. It flowers frequently under water. It is not eaten by herbivorous fish.


Scientific Name
Echinodorus 'Ozelot'
Common Name ”Ozolot”
Category Root
Hight 20-40cm
Width 25-30cm
Temp 20-28
pH 6-8
Lighting V.low-medium
Growth Fast
difficulty V. Easy
Origin Africa
Position in Tank Middle/Rear


Echinodorus 'Ozelot' is a decorative hybrid between Echinodorus schluteri 'Leopard' and Echinodorus x barthii. Naturally, it is the elliptical black spots on the red-brown leaves that have given this plant the name 'Ozelot'. The spots are darkest on the youngest leaves, and unlike many other spotted Echinodorus Echinodorus 'Ozelot' retains its spots even at low light intensity. It is an undemanding, good plant for beginners.

Anubias barteri

Scientific Name
Anubias barteri ''coffeefolia''
Common Name ''coffeefolia''
Category Rhizone
Hight 20-40cm
Width 25-30cm
Temp 20-28
pH 6-8
Lighting V.low-medium
Growth Slow
difficulty V. Easy
Origin Africa
Position in Tank Middle/Rear


Anubias barteri ''coffeefolia'' is a beautiful, low variety of Anubias barteri. The new leaves are red-brown. The color combination and leaf shape make it an attractive variety in both large and small aquariums. It flowers frequently under water. It is not eaten by herbivorous fish.

Vesicularia Dubyana
(Java Moss)

Scientific Name Vesicularia Dubyana
Common Name Java Moss
Category Moss
Hight Spreads
Width Spreads
Temp 15-28
pH Grows in most waters
Lighting low-medium
Growth V.Slow
difficulty V. Easy
Origin S.E. Aisia
Position in Tank Anywhere


Java moss is a easy plant for beginners, Java moss is of Asian origin. It is a slow growing but a very hardy plant that tolerates a wide variety of water conditions. Light requirements range from very low - very high, pH tolerance 5-9. Temperature range is 59F - 82F. Java moss is a self attaching moss that is best grown when it is encouraged to attach itself to aquarium objects like stones or driftwood. Spread the moss out onto the driftwood a thin layer and tie it to the driftwood or stones with thin fishing line or cotton thread. Within a month, the line can be removed as the plant takes hold and begins to self propagate along the wood or stone.

Microsorium pteropus
(Java fern)

Scientific Name
Microsorium pteropus
Common Name Java Fern
Category Root
Hight 25-45cm
Width 10-30cm
Temp 20-28
pH 6-8
Lighting V.low-medium
Growth Slow
difficulty V. Easy
Origin S.E. Asia
Position in Tank Middle/rear


The java fern is a slow growing plant. but is easy to care for. Propagation by adventitious shoots and rhizome splitting. The Java Fern does not need substrate to root in, It can be attached to wood or rocks. The Java Fern is poisonous and also because of its relatively bitter taste so most herbivores will not eat it. It can survive in temperatures between 22-30ºC and has a pH tolerance of 5.5-7.5. Very high levels of light can make the leaves become transparent. Can tolerate Soft, hard and even slightly brackish water conditions. There are several varieties, these include Windeløv, Red, Philippine, Tropica, Narrow and Undulata.

Vallisneria tortifolia
(Twisted Vallis)

Scientific Name Vallisneria tortifolia
Common Name Twisted Vallis
Category Root
Hight 25-45cm
Width 10-15
Temp 20-30c
pH 6-8
Lighting low-medium
Growth V.Slow
difficulty V. Easy
Origin Tropical/sub tropical
Position in Tank Middle/Rear


Vallisneria tortifolia is a dwarf species with tightly coiled leaves. It is a bit more delicate compared with other vallisneria species and also needs good lighting, Vallisneria tortifolia is good choice for small tropical aquarium. Because of its small size and bushy appearance it looks better as mid-ground plant rather than a background one. These plants propagate by sending out runners bearing daughter plants. The runners can be cut, and the daughter plants can be moved with care, if required. Because it doesn't need any special subtrate, co2 injection and isn't picky about water chemistry, makes it quite an easy plant to look after.


(Melanotaenia Boesemani)
Boesemani Rainbowfish

Scientific Name Melanotaenia Boesemani
Common Name Boesemani Rainbowfish
Origin Asia
Temp 20-28c
pH 6-8
Compatability Community
Care Level Easy


Rainbowfish are undemanding and easy to keep. Male boesemani show a split coloration that is completely different from most other rainbowfishes. The front part of the body is a brilliant dark bluish-grey, the rear half is bright orange-red with some yellow. The females are similar to many of the other species of Melanotaenia. Females generally have a shallower keel to their bodies, like most rainbowfish. Rainbowfish will eat flake food and small live foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms. Rainbowfish prefer an well planted aquarium with plenty light and open area's for swimming in.


Boesemani will spawn on a spawning mop or Java moss. Remove the spawning medium after the egg's have been laid to a separate tank to raise the fry, the egg's will hatch from 7-10 days later. Boesmani fry are very small and difficult to raise.

Angel Fish (Pterophyllum altum, Pterophyllum leopoldi, Pterophyllum scalare)

Scientific Name Pterophyllum altum, Pterophyllum leopoldi, Pterophyllum scalare
Common Name Angel Fish
Origin Tropical/sub tropical
Temp 20-26c
pH 6-7
Compatability Community
Care Level Easy

Most angelfish available in the hobby are the result of many decades of inter- breeding between the various species of Pterophyllum, especially P. scalare and P. leopoldi. The result of this is a domestic angelfish that is a hybrid, that has a resemblance to wild Pterophyllum species. Although most domestic angelfish resemble Pterophyllum scalare and are referred to as such, This is not the case they are a hybrid variety of the Pterophyllum species.

Pterophyllum scalare.
The most well known species of angelfish is Pterophyllum scalare. Pterophyllum scalare's colour is silver with three brown vertical stripes. It is very peaceful although sometimes can be aggressive to smaller fish. They spawn on broad-leaved sword plants in the wild, But will also spawn almost any flat sloped surface in an aquarium, Its maximum size is around 12–15 cm in length, up to 20 cm in height. Angelfish prefer water with a 6.0–8.0 pH, with 6.5-7.4 being ideal, a water hardness of 5.0–13.0 dGH, and a temperature range of 24–30°C (75–86°F). Average lifespan in an aquarium is 10 years. Freshwater angelfish are piscivores, meaning that they eat other fish. But in an aquarium, angelfish become lazy and much prefer flake food rather than having to hunt live fish. They are safe to keep with other peaceful fish that are not too small.

Its has silver body colour but with three brownish/red vertical stripes and red striping patterns into the fins. The species may show red spotting when mature and when aroused exhibits a black operculum spot. Wild p.Altum is one of most difficult to breed in captivity, it can exceed 50 cm in height in the wild. but in aquariums, they have known to have grow to just over 40 cm. They prefer a pH range between 4.5 to 5.8. They come from very transparent blackwater with almost nil conductivity. Temperature range in these waters is between 26°C and 29°C. Unlike P. scalare which prefer to spawn on plants, P. altum prefers to spawn on submerged roots and tree branches. Only advanced aquarists should keep p.altum because of detailed maintenance it requires for proper health.

Pterophyllum leopoldi
The Pterophyllum leopoldi is a river dwelling angelfish that originates from rivers in the Amazon River basin. P. leopoldi can be differentiated from P. scalare because of it's more horizontally elongated body and the black band which goes through the fish's eye and goes straight over the head and joins up on the other side. P. leopoldi is very rarely seen in the hobby.

Breeding Angel Fish
P. scalare are easy to breed in the aquarium, But because of decades of inbreeding, Angelfish have almost completely lost their rearing instincts. This results in the parents eating their young. It is very difficult to identify the gender of any Angelfish until they almost ready to breed. Angelfish pairs form long-term relationships where each individual will protect the other from threats and potential suitors. Upon the death or removal of one of the mated pair, some breeders have experienced a total refusal of the other mate to pair up with any other angelfish; others have had more success with subsequent mates. Both parents care for the young. A pair of angels are capable of spawning every seven to ten days when eggs from a previous spawn have been removed. Spawning frequency will decrease and eventually cease after they are three years old. When the pair is ready to spawn, the pair will choose a spot upon which to lay the eggs and clean the surface of any dirt or algae. The spawning area will be a broad-leaf plant or a flat surface like a piece of slate placed vertically in the aquarium. The female will deposit a line of eggs on the spawning substrate, followed by the male who will fertilize the eggs. This process will repeat itself until there are a total of 100 to up to 1200+ eggs. The pair will take turns faning water over the eggs. Within days, the eggs will hatch and the fry will remain attached to the spawning substrate. After one week, The fry will become free swimming after they consume their yolk sacs. The fry can now be fed baby brine shrimp.

Caridina japonica
(Amano Shrimp)

Scientific Name Caridina japonica
Common Name Amano Shrimp
Origin Japan
Temp 20-24c
pH 6.5-7
Compatability Community
Care Level Easy

Caridina Japonica also known as Amano Shrimps or algae shrimps are freshwater shrimp said to have been introduced to aquarium keeping by the famous Japanese aquascaper Takashi Amano.

These shrimp are found in the Yamato river area of Japan living amongst the algae which grow along the banks, particularly in the delta areas.
Captive breeding of this species has been done but is difficult as in the wild the adults lay eggs which are washed in to more saline waters where the young hatch before beginning the journey upstream to restart the process, this means that to succeed in breeding, relative salinity must be achieved at each stage as well as correct hardness, temperature and PH.

The fish make an excellent addition to any aquaria that meet their parameters and does not contain any fish large enough to eat them. They really are fascinating to watch as they travel around the aquarium floor, constantly sorting debris and eating algae using their 4 feeding limbs, shovelling food into their mouths.
If you do decide to add these to you aquarium beware that those on sale on eBay are usually very young and thus small when purchased so easily eaten by even relatively small fish. Check with the seller when purchasing and if you do go ahead and buy young specimens, set up a breeding net in which to feed and separate the new additions to the tank, do not try and use a floating breeding trap as they can be small enough to pass through the slats. They can also spend time out of the water so make sure that you cover the top of the container you use to house them and that you have a tight fitting hood on the tank.

The shrimp will prefer the following parameters;
Temp: 18 - 27oC ideally 24oC
Hardness: 6-10 dGh
PH: 6.1 - 7.1
Adult Size: 5CM
Feeding; Algae based sinking Feeds, supplement with fresh veg i.e. weighed down cucumber, blanched spinach etc. Flake

If kept well these little shrimp are fascinating and well worthy addition to the aquarium, try to keep in groups of 5 or more if possible and never use any copper based medicines.

Trichogaster Trichpterus
(Golden gourami)

Scientific Name Trichogaster trichopterus
Common Name Golden gourami
Origin -----
Temp 25-27c
pH 6.5-7
Compatability Community
Care Level Easy

The beautiful color of the Gold Gourami makes this a very desirable addition to an aquarium, but it does get big and can become belligerent to small tank mates!

Keep them in a 80 cm tank minimum, the fish are extremely hardy and will tolerate virtually every environment. Temperatures in the middle to higher regions. The fish are somewhat aggressive, and shouldn't be kept with small or quiet fish. For the same reason only a single male in smaller tanks. Trichogaster trichopterus should only be bought when young. Older fish get so accustomed to their surroundings, that they will turn shy if moved to another tank.Larger fish pollute a lot, decent filtration is necessary.
Size:Up to 15 cm maximum, but most fish in nature are around 11 cm. In aquariums they rarely exceed 9-10cm.

The Gold Gourami, like the Blue Gourami, Platinum Gourami, and Opaline Gourami, is a color morph of the Three-spot Gourami and is therefore very similar. The difference in the Gold Gourami is the lack of the three spots and the gold coloration.
The Gold Gourami, like all the variants of this species, are generally considered good community fish when small but they are not as peaceful as the other gouramis. They have been known to attack smaller fish. They can also get belligerent or territorial when they get large. Because they can get quite large, about 6 inches, they will soon out grow a small aquarium and will need to be provided with more space.
This species group is certainly one of the hardiest available to the aquarist, and makes an excellent first fish for people entering the hobby. They are long lived fish with each having a remarkably individual personality. They will use their pelvic fins to feel their environment and even feel their tank mates. They also seem to be quite aware of their owners.

Otocinclus affins

Scientific Name Otocinclus affins
Common Name Otto,golden otocinclus,dwarf suckermouth
Origin Brazil
Temp 21-26c
pH 5.5-7.5
Compatability Community
Care Level medium


Eggs are laid on the leaves of plants and hatch in about 3 days.
Provide plenty of algae, green food and tiny particulate foods, such as the liquid suspension types,
for the fry.


Otocinclus Catfish are the ideal algae eater for small to medium sized tanks. They may, however,
be difficult to acclimatise initially, and efficient filtration is essential. They are frequently
reported to die for no apparent reason after adding to a new tank.
Like many catfish, they are generally far more active at night. This particular species of Otocinclus is not often imported.

Paracheirodon innesi
(neon tetra)

Scientific Name Paracheirodon innesi
Common Name Neon Tetra
Origin -----
Temp 20-26c-68-80f
pH 5-7
Compatability Community
Care Level easy


The Neon Tetra is an extremely popular aquarium fish. It is sturdy and inexpensive and is often one of the first fish species purchased by beginner aquarists. A shoal of brightly decorated Neon Tetras will add colour as well as activity to the aquarium. Since the Neon Tetras stay quite small and have a peaceful temperament, they are often found in small community aquariums.
The Neon Tetra is a pelagic freshwater fish native to tropical parts of northern South America. The Neon tetra originates from westerns Brazil, south-eastern Colombia and eastern Peru and wild Neon Tetras can be found in the headwaters of the River Amazon, Tiger, Napo and Yarapa. It is present in both blackwater and clearwater stream tributaries. You can however not find Neon tetras in the whitewater rivers that run from the Andes. The Neon Tetras have bright colours and an iridescent stripe in order to be visible in dark blackwaters.
The South American blackwater and clearwater streams and rivers have very soft and somewhat acidic water. The flow through tropical regions and the water temperature stays around 20 – 26° C (), sometimes higher. The commercial bred Neon Tetras have often been adapted to conditions that are very different from those found in their native habitat.
Today, an introduced population of Neon Tetra is established in Singapore.

Neon Tetra Disease

Neon Tetras are susceptible to the Neon Tetra disease. There is still no available cure for this disease and it will often kill the fish. Neon Tetra disease is caused by a sporozoan named Pleistophora hyphessobryconis. The disease is therefore also known as “Pleistophora”.
During the initial stage of Neon Tetra disease, parasite spores enter the Neon tetra. Common symptoms include restlessness and dull colouration. As the disease proceeds, cyst will develop and the fish body can become lumpy. The Neon Tetra will often have trouble swimming and towards the final stages of the disease the spine can become curved. The weakened fish is also susceptible to secondary infections.
As mentioned above, these is still no cure for Neon Tetra disease and trying to prevent the parasite from entering your aquarium in the first place is therefore the best course of action. The parasite is typically introduced via live food or newly purchased fish. By cultivating your own live food you will gain a greater control over what you put in your aquarium. Brine shrimp is for instance very easy and hassle-free to cultivate at home. When you purchase new fish, you should ideally keep them quarantined in a separate aquarium and look out for signs of illness. In the aquarium, fish often catch the disease when they eat dead fish. Removing sick and dead fish as soon as possible is therefore important. Some aquarists report that using a diatom filter decreases the risk of Neon Tetra disease, but it is only a supplement, not a substitute for the precautions described above. A diatom filter can reduce the amount of free parasites in the water.
There is also a disease known as “false Neon Tetra disease” that is often confused with true Neon Tetra disease. This disease is not caused by a sporozoan; it is caused by bacteria. The symptoms are however very similar and unless you have access to a laboratory it will be virtually impossible for you to tell the difference between the two diseases.

Scobinancistrus aureatus
(golden plec,sunshine plec)

Scientific Name scobinancistrus aureatus
Common Name sunshine plec (L014)
Origin Brazil
Temp 25-29c-77-84f
pH 58-7.2
Compatability Community
Care Level easy

Identification :
Striking sub-adult colouration which diminishes in adults which are still quite distinctive. Commonly known as the goldie or sunshine pleco, this ultimately larger fish is a frequent import.

Males grow larger than females. Males develop a more ''bristled'' appearance that, in certain light, can shine from the light being reflected off the fish. The leading edge of the leading pectoral fin ray also becomes slightly spiny in mature males.

Other information:
Clean, clear, highly oxygenated, preferably with a noticeable current although this is not vital.

Danio rerio
(Zebra danio)

Scientific Name Danio rerio
Common Name Zebra danio (L014)
Origin S.E.Asia,India,Pakistan
Temp 18-26c-77-84f
pH 6-8
Compatability Community
Care Level easy

In the wild, they can be micropredators, they eat small crustaceans, insects, and little worms. They do eat vegetation, and the presence of fine-leaved plants may take care of their need for roughage. High-quality flake and pelletized foods will also contain the right mix of nutrients to keep these fish thriving. Like almost all other fishes, they will be quite happy with the addition of live foods to their diet. They are often used as mosquito control in temperate ponds but they should be brought in for the fall if such is the temperature routinely falls below 64 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.
Water Temperature:
In the aquarium, they can regularly withstand temperatures between 64 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. This can actually qualify them as coolwater fish in that they can easily handle room temperature.
Water Chemistry:
These can survive a range of water qualities. In the wild, they live in waters with pH between 6 and 8 and dH between 5 and 19. Almost any tap water (once dechlorinated and dechloraminated) will suffice but acclimation processes should be used if your water's pH or hardness lie outside the given ranges or differ greatly from that in which they were kept at the LFS. They do best with planted tanks (filled with open swimming spaces).

In mature specimens, the males are much slimmer than the females. If comparing two wild-type D. rerio of opposite sexes, the background will be more golden on a male and a paler yellow on a female.
These are reputedly among the easiest egg-layers to breed, perhaps easier than the White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys albonubes) and the Convict Cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus). Depending on your view, you may choose to use mated "pairs" or you may choose to condition all of them and merely pick a female and a male. Merely heating the water to a temperature in the mid to upper 70s Fahrenheit and oxygenating it somewhat will likely trigger a spawning response. (this is supposed to simulate a rainy season and the unification of their stagnant pools to the rivers of the area.) Another aspect of breeding D. rerio which has multiple schools is the adornment of the spawning tank. Some recommend a heavily-planted display tank and just allowing the young to grow up along side their parents in single-species tanks. Floating plants may be used in such a tank and then removed to a separate incubatory tank. Others recommend layering the bottom of the spawning tank with marbles so that, once-scattered, eggs will not take on the role of sustainence for the hungry parents. The fry can then grow unmolested in the rearing tank once the parents have been removed.
Among the fish to have a large impact in the hobby, D. rerio is surprisingly only 2-1/4" long at a maximum. These are torpedo-shaped, streamlined little fishes that are built for speed. They have a yellow background upon which (usually five) horizontal royal blue stripes that span the length of the fish are placed. Their fins are correspondingly striped, but more brilliantly so. Interestingly enough, many aquarists do not recognize the feature which makes them a "barb" (according to Elson and Lucanus in The Barbs Aquarium); they have two pairs of barbels which are often overlooked.

These are reputedly fin-nippers but only anecdotally so. They are boisterous, so they should not be kept with slow-moving, easily-annoyed and large-finned counterparts. They swim very quickly, and manifest a fright coloration that is very dull when their environment has been changed rapidly and in an unfavorable manner. They are quick to evade a predator, net, or something else that may scare them. Anyone who's ever kept a tank of these will confirm their prowess at evasion. They should be kept in a group of their own species as this will help to make them feel more comfortable. They really are social fish, so taking away the society of conspecifics is not recommended nor is it a "humane" way to keep them. They will occupy any of the levels of the aquarium, so plan their tanks accordingly.
Ease of keeping:
Excellent beginners fish, hardy, fun and colourful, makes an excellent addition to any planted peaceful aquarium.

Trichogaster trichopterus
(3 Spot Gourami)

Scientific Name Trichogaster trichopterus
Common Name 3 Spot Gourami
Origin Thailand, Borneo
Temp 20-27°c-68-80°f
pH 6-8
Compatability Community
Care Level easy

The name, Three-spot Gourami, at first seems a bit of a mystery. This fish actually only has two spots, the third spot is generally considered to be the eye!

These are a beautiful fish that get quite large, about 6 inches. The Blue Gourami, like the Gold Gourami, Platinum Gourami, and Opaline Gourami, is a color-morph of the Three-spot Gourami. The Blue Gourami and the Three-spot Gourami are identical except that the Blue Gourami has a hazy, whitish-blue coat.
The Three-spot Gourami, like all the variants of this species, are generally considered good community fish when small but they are not as peaceful as the other gouramis. They have been known to attack smaller fish. They can also get belligerent or territorial when they get large.

(3 spot photos courtesy of sheperd-690)

This species group is certainly one of the hardiest available to the aquarist, and makes an excellent first fish for people entering the hobby. They are long lived fish with each having a remarkably individual personality. They will use their pelvic fins to feel their environment and even feel their tank mates. They also seem to be quite aware of their owners.

Azaezls range of fish