Saturday, February 23, 2019

How to Prevent the Top 5 Worst Days in Fish Keeping!

Recently, there was a video challenge that went around where FishTubers were tagged to reveal their worst days in fish keeping. Find out how I ranked the top five worst aquarium disasters on YouTube and what was the most common mistake among them!

Who Had the Worst Aquarium Disaster?

Bentley Pascoe
Heidi's Fish Tank
Mike from 915Mang
Nathan from Simply Shrimps
Zenzo from Tazawa Tanks

Question of the Day

What was your worst day in fish keeping? Comment below to share your experiences because I’d love to hear them. Take time to enjoy your aquariums and I’ll see you next time!

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for practical fish care tips for busy aquarists and follow me on Instagram for more updates! ğŸŽ®❤️🐟

Saturday, February 16, 2019

How to Set Up an Easy Cherry Shrimp Tank for Breeding

Ready to start breeding cherry shrimp for fun or profit? Here’s a step-by-step tutorial how to set up a simple and easy shrimp tank for making tons of babies! Neocaridina davidi are a great beginner species that come in a variety of bright colors, breed readily like rabbits, and sell for high prices at local fish auctions.

In the past, I’ve kept amano shrimp and crystal red shrimp, but never have I tried to raise neocaridina shrimp for profit. What does it take to set up the ultimate baby-making aquarium that's not necessarily the prettiest aquascape, but is highly functional and easy to clean? Keep reading to find out...

What kind of aquarium do I need for breeding shrimp?

Cherry shrimp can be kept in tanks as small as 2.5 gallons, but most people recommend 10 gallons (38 liters) or more if you're focused on breeding. The larger the tank, the more stable the water quality is, and the happier the shrimp will be. I personally use an aquarium lid as well to minimize evaporation and changes in water parameters.

As for water source, red cherry shrimp are fine in a wide pH range of 6.0-8.0, so I just use tap water with some water conditioner. No need for RODI water and additives with neocaridinia shrimp.

10-gallon aquarium for breeding neocaridina davidi

What equipment does a shrimp tank need?

In terms of electronics, I would recommend getting the following:
  • Sponge filter: They're very gentle, won't suck up the babies, and provide good oxygenation (see my tutorial for more details).
  • Heater: Cherry shrimp like 70-80°F so you'll need a heater if your home gets colder than that (I keep my tank around 75°F).
  • Lighting: Any standard aquarium light on a timer for 6-10 hours should be fine for growing low light plants and cultivating algae on the tank surfaces for the shrimp to eat.

Red cherry shrimp with long poop strand, sitting on sponge filter

How should a shrimp tank be decorated?

  • Substrate: Most people recommend at least a thin coating of dark sand or substrate to color up the shrimp and grow beneficial bacteria. No need to buy a fancy "active substrate," which is used to control pH and other water parameters for other species like Caridinia shrimp.
  • Live Plants: Your shrimp will love you if you include lots of aquatic moss, floating plants, and other fluffy foliage as hiding places and grazing surfaces. They also help keep the water quality high (I aim for nitrates at 20 ppm or below).
  • Grazing Surfaces: Also, add some driftwood like cholla wood and Indian almond leaves, which break down relatively quickly and grow biofilm that the shrimp like to munch on.
  • Crushed Coral: If you have soft water like me, you may need to supplement some calcium using crushed coral or other sources. Generally, cherry shrimp like 2-8° KH and 4-8° GH.

Simple and easy aquarium setup for breeding red cherry shrimp

What tank mates are safe for shrimp?

Honestly, I would recommend keeping a species-only tank if you're truly serious about breeding your shrimp. However, some people keep snails, small rasboras, pygmy corydoras, and other nano fish as tank mates. Just make sure to provide enough cover for the shrimp babies to hide.

Clear baby red cherry shrimp on ludwigia repens

How do I clean a shrimp tank with so many baby shrimp around?

Some people recommend cleaning a shrimp tank less frequently, but I'm of the camp that prefers small, frequent water changes, approximately 10-20% per week. As for my siphon, I just use some 3/8" OD / 1/4" ID flexible tubing (slightly bigger than normal airline tubing), tied to a chopstick on one end for easy maneuverability. The other end of the tubing is clipped to a white bucket to collect the dirty water so that I can easily spot any baby shrimp that accidentally get sucked up.

If you spot any whitish exoskeleton molts on the ground, leave them in the aquarium because the shrimp will eat them for the extra calcium. Also, clean your sponge filter if you notice the flow is reduced, and use an algae scrubber to wipe off the front glass if needed.

Airline tubing for cleaning shrimp breeding tank

Question of the Day

What’s your favorite kind of shrimp? Comment below to share your thoughts, and check out my Breeding for Fun series if you want to see more posts like this. Take time to enjoy your aquariums and I’ll see you next time!

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for practical fish care tips for busy aquarists and follow me on Instagram for more updates! ğŸŽ®❤️🐟

Saturday, February 9, 2019

How to Kill Cyanobacteria – Is the Natural or Chemical Way Best?

Remember that beautiful planted tank I designed for my betta? Well, it ain’t paradise any more because we've got cyanobacteria, baby! Keep reading as I talk about what causes it, the natural versus chemical methods I used to treat it, and which one worked the best!

All I want is a super easy, low tech, low maintenance aquarium to just sit back and enjoy when I’m stressed at work. Unfortunately, my office tank had a reoccurring issue with, well, multiple types of algae, and one of them was blue-green algae, or more accurately, cyanobacteria. No longer was I calm and relaxed when gazing at my betta fish Soundwave. Instead, his home was an eyesore and constant source of stress… (Why oh why don’t you look like the aquascapes on my Instagram feed?)

Cyanobacteria or blue-green algae in planted aquarium
Cyanobacteria outbreak while on vacation (source: Keudn from Reddit)

Causes of Cyanobacteria

There have been lots of studies done on what causes cyanobacteria in aquariums, but nothing is concrete because the bacteria is so genetically diverse and can rapidly spread through practically any ecosystem - freshwater, saltwater, or on land. Potential causes reported on aquarium articles include:
  • Dirty tanks with an excess ammonia (hmm, my ammonia measured 0 ppm)
  • Anaerobic areas from lack of flow (hmm, my algae started right under the filter output)
  • Excess light (hmm, my timer’s only on for 5 to 6 hours per day)
  • Very low nitrates... or very high nitrates according to other sources
Ok, so clearly there’s a lot of conflicting info out there on causes of cyanobacteria. What about the remedies? Most people say it’s a pain to get rid of and spreads like wildfire. I did find that when I rubbed off some slime from a bucephalandra plant up high, it landed somewhere down below and started conquering my staurogyne repens.

Blue green algae in planted aquarium

Natural Treatment for Cyanobacteria

The natural remedy I followed came from a blog called AQUAdesign with the following instructions:
  1. Manually scrub off the algae from all surfaces (which shouldn’t be difficult because it just flakes off in sheets) and then gravel vacuum up as much of it as possible, removing up to 50% of the water.
  2. If you have low nitrates, use fertilizers to dose it up to 20 ppm.
  3. Turn off any CO2 and use an air stone (with air pump and airline tubing of course) to increase oxygenation.
  4. Cover your tank with a black trash bag and tape, keep the aquarium light off, and do a blackout for three to four days. Don’t worry, your fish will be fine during this brief fasting period.
  5. After the blackout, do a large water change to remove all the dead algae, redoes your fertilizers back to 20 ppm nitrates, turn on the light and CO2, and increase flow to avoid dead spots.
fish tank blackout to treat cyanobacteria

And what do you know? The blue-green algae was gone! I didn’t have to use any expensive meds and the treatment was relatively painless… until the cyanobacteria came back again 6 weeks later. Ok, no more Mr. Nice Guy. I’m going in with guns a-blazing!

Chemical Treatment for Cyanobacteria

The chemical method I heard was from Aquarium Co-Op, and it goes something like this:
  1. Manually remove all algae and gravel vacuum just like before.
  2. Clean your filter – including intake sponges, sponge filters, foam inserts, etc.
  3. Nuke your tank with one full dose of erythromycin per the manufacturer’s instructions and let it sit for seven days. (In the United States, it is sold by brands like Fritz Aquatics and API.) If you have an extra tank lying around, you can remove any animals, but this antibiotic is safe for fish, invertebrates like shrimp and snails, and plants.
  4. After seven days, do a large water change to remove all dead algae. You can continue to do more water changes and even use activated carbon to remove the remaining medication.
  5. If it’s a really bad case, you may have to follow up with a treatment or two. Thankfully, erythromycin will not harm your beneficial bacteria, according to Aquarium Co-Op and in my own experiences.
And voila! It’s been four months since the chemical treatment, and I haven’t seen any hint of that evil blue-green slime. Soundwave the betta is no worse for wear, and I can finally breathe a sigh of relief and get back to enjoying his tank!

5-gallon planted betta aquarium

Question of the Day

Have you ever dealt with cyanobacteria, and if so, how’d you get rid of it? Comment below to share your experiences because I’d love to hear them. Take time to enjoy your aquariums and I’ll see you next time!

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for practical fish care tips for busy aquarists and follow me on Instagram for more updates! ğŸŽ®❤️🐟

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Clown Loaches – What Are They Really Like?

Clown loaches are definitely on my bucket list of fish to keep because of their playful personalities. Unfortunately, online research only provides high-level care info, so I decided to get the inside scope from Colin Barsby, a Iongtime clown loach owner who keeps them in a lush planted aquarium!

Topics include:
▶ How does his personal experiences compare with Google research on clown loaches?
▶ What are the top 6 things only clown loach owners would know?
▶ Given all the pros and cons, does Colin recommend clown loaches?

Don't forget to check out...
Our other collab video "How to Care for an Aquarium"
Colin's YouTube channel

Question of the Day

What’s on your wish list of aquarium fish/pets to keep? Comment below to share your bucket list because I'd love to hear about it. Take time to enjoy your aquariums and I'll see you in the next post!

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for practical fish care tips for busy aquarists and follow me on Instagram for more updates! ğŸŽ®❤️🐟

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Prepping for Aquashella - My First Fish Convention!

Hi, it’s A Gamer’s Wife, here with my last Wed post for a while. At the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to release two articles per week for the month of January as an experiment, and the conclusion is that I’m definitely not ready to increase my upload schedule permanently. :) So starting in February, I’m going back to my regular once-a-week Saturday releases that you can always expect.

For my final bonus post of January, I’m going to talk about my preparations for my first fish convention, Aquashella in Dallas. It looks like so much fun, and I really hope to learn a lot and come back with some cool swag. But I definitely have a few unique challenges since my channel is semi-anonymous and there’s sure to be a bunch of FishTubers and their fans there. So how do I keep my privacy while still enjoying myself?

Aquashella - Dallas 2019

First off, I’m probably not going to be wearing sunglasses inside the whole time, so inevitably my face will probably show up on camera somewhere. (True face reveal?!) Maybe what I’ll do is explore all the booths on my own first, catch some footage, and then by the end of the day, I’ll introduce myself to the FishTube booth and let come what may. I still don’t plan on sharing my real name, so I guess if you meet me in person… you can call me A Gamer’s Wife? AGW? Comment below if you have any suggestions.

Map of Aquashella 2018 in Chicago
Map of Aquashella 2018 in Chicago

Anyways, I happened to get Rachel O’Leary’s shrimp girl shirt for Christmas, thanks to my BFF! (It’s like she watches my video or something...) So now I have something for people to sign. But I heard Aquarium Co-Op usually gives away free shirts as well, so maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get one and see Cory McElroy (and his wife Katie!) in person.

King of DIY ultimate fan contest for Aquashella

I’m not sure who all is coming, but I know the King of DIY is holding a contest to bring a lucky fan to Aquashella, so you have until Feb 10, 2019 to make a video to enter (#not sponsored).

As an introvert, I’m kinda both excited and nervous about going, but Sean from pecktec told me whenever he starts feeling overwhelmed at conventions, he just grabs someone to film an impromptu interview. So, thanks for the advice, Sean!

Anyway, I know I’m not a big creator by any means and it’s probably a one in a million chance that I’ll meet someone who watches my videos, but if you see me, please come say hi! This is my first convention and I don’t know when I’ll be able to make another one, so I’d definitely love to meet y’all if I can. If you haven’t already, follow me on Instagram where I’ll be posting real-time updates at Aquashella. Take time to enjoy your aquariums and I’ll see you in the next article!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

7 Ways to Stop Betta Fish Tail Biting

Is your betta fish incessantly biting his beautiful tail, like a little kid who thinks it’s funny to cut his own hair? Keep reading to find out what it looks like, why it happens, and some tips and tricks for stopping it.

My son really wanted a crowntail betta because of their spiky-looking frills, so we helped him pick out a gorgeous blue and red one from Petco that he named Darth Vader. Unfortunately, Darth Vader had a bad habit of biting his tail! One morning, we woke up to find that he had just happily sheared off the top half of his caudal fin.

Tail biting on a blue crowntail betta fish
Darth Vader's new "haircut"

Signs of Tail Biting

The reason why we knew it was tail biting and not some other problem is because it had a few telltale signs:
  • Missing chunks (often round) from fins or tail have very clean edges and no discoloration
  • Damage is usually all in one section (not evenly spread everywhere)
  • Damage happens suddenly within a few hours (sometimes catch them in the act)
Other reasons why your betta’s tail may be damaged is if it got caught on sharp decor, sucked up in the filter, or nipped by other tank mates. Thankfully, just because it’s damaged doesn’t mean it’ll automatically get infected and turn into fin rot. But if you see fin or tail deterioration that is ragged or tattered, fins or tail that look clamped, and wound edges that are black or red in coloration or have fuzzy growths – it’s likely fin rot (which I won't be covering in this article) so make sure to research treatment for it asap.

Example of fin rot, not tail biting (source)

Causes for Tail Biting

Unfortunately, I haven't seen a lot of research or studies about this behavior, so but there's been lots of speculation from hobbyists. Tail biting could be caused by:
  • Stress from their environment (e.g., filter flow too fast, kids tapping on glass)
  • Boredom
  • Discomfort from the weight of large fins or tail
  • Aggression because he thinks its tail is another betta
  • Hereditary issue
  • Just a bad habit (like people who bite their nails)

Ideas for Preventing Tail Biting

While there's no surefire way to stop the betta from destroying his tail since you can't constantly be at his side, here are some suggested methods for distracting, entertaining, and enriching your betta's life to keep his mind off his caudal fin. (Huge thank you to Twitter user @Nature_Grrrl for her help and suggestions that came from her working with animal behaviorist @JoannaBergerMSc.)
  • Offer toys like a betta leaf hammock or floating betta log
  • Provide short stints of flaring practice with a mirror
  • Add more plants, decor, or caves to explore
  • Change up the decor every time you do a water change to keep things interesting
  • Change up his diet, such as by giving live food like baby brine shrimp or blackworms to hunt
  • Provide enrichment by training him to follow a chopstick with food stuck at the end or to swim through the hoop end of your net, using a small pen light and dropping a piece food as positive reinforcement (like clicker training).
  • Try teaching more advanced tricks with the R2 Fish School Training Kit, which comes with an instruction manual and obstacle course.

Training a betta fish to swim through a hoop
Train your betta fish to swim through a hoop (source)

Treatment for Tail Biting

If your betta fish is strong and healthy, his tail should heal up fine on its own. Just make sure to keep the water quality very high by keeping on top of your water changes. Decrease any stress factors in his environment, such as by slowing the filter flow, hiding any reflections he flares at, heating the water to the proper temperature, and so forth.

For gentle treatments, some people like to add slime coat-enhancing products for faster healing, such as Seachem Stress Guard and API Stress Coat water conditioner which contains aloe. Others recommend using Indian almond leaves or catappa leaves for their reported antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. And finally, there's good ol' aquarium salt – just dose according to the manufacturer's instructions to help with your fish's osmoregulation and other benefits.

Blue, turquoise, and red crowntail betta fish in a community tank
Darth Vader finally left his tail alone once he got some roommates!

In the end, we ended up moving Darth Vader from his own solitary tank to a 20-gallon community tank with other fish to keep him distracted and entertained. He got along very well with his new roommates, but would still take the occasional chomp out of his tail when he remember it. Thankfully it occurred a lot less frequently than before, giving his body a chance to heal and regrow to its full glory. ğŸ˜

Question of the Day

Has your betta fish ever had a problem with tail biting? How did you stop it? Comment below to share your experiences because I’d love to hear them. Take time to enjoy your aquariums and I’ll see you next time!

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for practical fish care tips for busy aquarists and follow me on Instagram for more updates! ğŸŽ®❤️🐟

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

My Most Expensive Mistake in the Fish Keeping Hobby

Somehow 2 inches of water disappeared from my aquarium, but everything around the tank is dry! What in the world happened? How will my husband react? 😨 Hope you can learn from my mistakes and why you should never forget to maintenance your filter!

Materials I Used
AquaClear filter
Filter foam sponge
Filter biological media
Filter floss pad

Question of the Day

Has your aquarium ever flooded or leaked in your home? Comment below to share your experiences because I’d love to hear them. Take time to enjoy your aquariums and I’ll see you next time!

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for practical fish care tips for busy aquarists and follow me on Instagram for more updates! ğŸŽ®❤️🐟