Fin Damage – Is it Fin Rot?
submitted by Dena Edwards
Published 20 March 2022
There has been a significant increase in questions recently regarding fin rot. About 95% of the time, if not more, it is not rot. So, how to you know what is going on with your fish or what to do next?
First and foremost need to determine what type of fin damage exists. Does the fin look like a bite has been taken out? Shredded? Ripped? Are you seeing something dark on the fin edges that is not normal coloring? What about a clear or white edge? All of these questions can help point to what is going on as well as to determining what the root cause may be so it can be corrected.
Things I always ask when facing fin damage are:
What are the current water parameters? Specifics can help to determine if the tank is cycled and well maintained. Things to ask yourself include, how much and how often water changes are done. There is nothing better for freshwater fish than fresh water. Same is true on a smaller scale for saltwater environments. Doing water changes not only removes waste, but it also replenishes minerals that are lost to growing fish and to hungry plants.
How long have fish been in your tank? We they properly quarantined? New fish can be stressed from the shipping and new environment and come down with disease that may spread throughout a tank if not quarantined long enough to be confident no disease exists before adding to the main tank.
What tankmates are in the tank? Need to rule out incompatibility in species, such as keeping long finned fish with notorious nippers. Just because you don’t notice any aggression does not mean fish don’t nip or fight when you are not around.
Could you be dealing with an environmental issue? Environmental damage will appear as ripped or torn edges and sometimes shredded finage. When fins begin to repair themselves they will first look clear or white on the edges and many think this is fin rot when it is actually new fin growth.
If you have determined that you are dealing with environmental damage, there is no need to reach for medications. Instead, change the environment to eliminate the root cause. If the fin is ripped, then look at the decor for anything with a sharp edge that can grab a long, flowing fin. If cause by nipping or fighting, separate or rehome fish if unable to set up a second tank.
Treatment for environmental fin damage is to do nothing more than offering a variety of high quality, nutrient rich foods to support the immune system along with small daily water changes. Could add aquarium salt if fish will tolerate it or use botanicals to add tannins to the water column. Fish will repair their fins in 1-2 weeks.
White tips on this dark angel’s dorsal is new fin growth. This is what you want to see as it does not indicate there are any issues to be concerned about.
True bacterial fin rot is very distinctive. Fin edges can be a little jagged, but will always be dark from the rotting flesh that is being attacked. If you are seeing clear or white edges see the section about about environmental fin damage.
True bacterial fin rot along with one bite mark. These black sections are areas where bacteria is causing the flesh to rot and die.
True rotting flesh is the only time antibiotics should be used for fin damage. But which antibiotics? I use erythromycin in this case, but there are a few other fish medications that can treat fin rot. No matter which medication is used, it can be dosed with powder in the water column or with medicated foods; but once started continue treatment for a minimum of 10 days to ensure the bacteria is eliminated.
The Role Bacteria Plays in Keeping a Balanced Aquarium
submitted by Bob Steenfott
Feb. 13, 2023
Bacteria play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy freshwater aquarium. In this article, we will explore the various functions of bacteria in an aquarium, the types of bacteria that are commonly found in aquariums, and the benefits and challenges of establishing a balanced bacterial colony in an aquarium.
Functions of Bacteria in an Aquarium
Nitrogen Cycle: The most important role of bacteria in an aquarium is to facilitate the nitrogen cycle. This cycle involves the conversion of toxic ammonia produced by fish waste, uneaten food, and decaying organic matter into less toxic nitrite and then into relatively harmless nitrate. Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria, such as Nitrosomonas, and nitrate-reducing bacteria, such as Nitrobacter, are responsible for these conversions. Without these bacteria, ammonia and nitrite levels can build up to toxic levels, causing harm to the fish and other aquatic life in the aquarium.
Decomposition: Bacteria in an aquarium also play an important role in breaking down organic waste, such as dead plant material, fish waste, and uneaten food. This decomposition process helps to maintain a clean and healthy environment for the fish and other aquatic life.
Nutrient Cycling: Bacteria help to maintain the balance of nutrients in the aquarium by breaking down organic matter and releasing essential nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, back into the water. This helps to maintain a healthy and stable environment for the growth of plants and other aquatic life.
Types of Bacteria in an Aquarium
Nitrifying Bacteria: As mentioned earlier, nitrifying bacteria play a crucial role in the nitrogen cycle. These bacteria are responsible for converting ammonia and nitrite into nitrate.
Denitrifying Bacteria: Denitrifying bacteria are responsible for reducing nitrate into nitrogen gas, which is released into the atmosphere. These bacteria play an important role in maintaining the balance of nitrate levels in the aquarium.
Decomposing Bacteria: Decomposing bacteria help to break down organic matter and release essential nutrients back into the water. They play an important role in maintaining a clean and healthy environment in the aquarium.
Benefits of a Balanced Bacterial Colony in an Aquarium
Stable Water Conditions: A balanced bacterial colony helps to maintain stable water conditions by converting toxic substances, such as ammonia and nitrite, into less harmful substances. This helps to prevent harm to the fish and other aquatic life in the aquarium.
Healthy Aquatic Life: A balanced bacterial colony helps to provide essential nutrients to the aquatic plants and other life in the aquarium, promoting healthy growth and overall well-being.
Clean Aquarium: Bacteria help to break down organic waste and maintain a clean environment, reducing the need for frequent water changes and making it easier to maintain a healthy and stable aquarium.
Challenges of Establishing a Balanced Bacterial Colony in an Aquarium
Slow Growth: The growth of bacteria in an aquarium can be slow and may take several weeks to establish a balanced colony.
Water Quality: Poor water quality can inhibit the growth of bacteria, making it difficult to establish a balanced colony.
Overstocking: Overstocking an aquarium can lead to an increase in fish waste, which can overwhelm the bacterial colony and make it difficult to maintain a balanced environment.
Bacteria play a crucial role in the functioning of a freshwater aquarium. They participate in the nitrogen cycle by converting toxic substances, such as ammonia and nitrite, into less harmful ones. Bacteria also break down organic waste, releasing essential nutrients back into the water, and contributing to a clean and healthy environment. To establish a balanced bacterial colony, it is important to monitor water quality, avoid overstocking, and provide the right conditions for bacterial growth. Having a balanced bacterial colony in an aquarium not only prevents harmful water conditions but also promotes healthy aquatic life and makes maintenance easier. Thus, a balanced bacterial colony is a key component of a successful freshwater aquarium.
pH and What is it really
submitted by T Hynes (Tanked Aquatics)
March 12, 2023
Everyone talks about it, but no one seems to know what it means, and yet, there on the shelf of every pet store there is a test kit for it. We test for it in swimming pools, hot tubs, aquariums and drinking water. So why are testing for pH? What is pH and what does it do for us, or the fish, or swimming pools and drinking water? I am not a chemist, however I have read enough to know about the fundamentals of pH to have become a dangerous informant.
First a little back ground. As a child under the age of 16, I made myself to be a pest of myself. I was the kid who would hang around for hours gazing at the fish, especially the small tetras to angel fish. The store was owned by a couple, who had for years invested their lives into their business. Expanding from just one store to six store in two states. I would go at every chance I had to look around that store. Leaving my mom to do the grocery shopping and heading over to the pet shop. One magical day that I can still remember with clarity, the manager at the time asked if I could fill in for her for three days while she went on vacation. I said absolutely, and from then on out in July of 1980 I worked at the store as an employee. I stayed working with the store through all of the changes of closing down all but one store, the market slowdowns, until the owner retired, and sold the store. I spent 17 years of my life there. I could go on about the time I spent there, the trials, the struggles, but that would get us off the task at hand here.
In discussing any subject it is really important that we all have a common frame of reference, because without one it would be impossible to discuss the subject. So fortunately or unfortunately we need to spend some time discussing basic chemistry.
So what is pH, “pH”, is an abbreviation for two words, Potential Hydrogen. So who cares? We care, because we can’t survive as a living entity without it. Biological metabolisms would not occur, medications could not exist without it. So to understand pH is also understanding the basic biological functions. So with that said lets open the door to the wonderful world of atoms.
Ever wonder how many atoms there are in a given substance? Can we even measure that? Sure we can. A gentleman by the name of Amedeo Avogadro (1776-1856) set out to come up with a standard definition of a mole. A mole is nothing more than a standard measurement of an element. You can read more about him and is work by just doing a little research yourself. But in basic terms he had defined the number of molecules in exactly 16 grams of Oxygen. The goal of the definition was to make the mass of a mole to be numerically equal to the mass of one molecule relative to the mass of hydrogen atom, and because of the law of definite proportions, this was the natural unit of the atomic mass.
In other words you can take any element off the period chart, measure one gram of that material and know that there are 6.022 x10^23 atoms with in that volume. As an example the element Gold, Au, on the periodic chart is numbered 79. Therefore 1 gram which equals 1 mole which contains 6.022×10^23 atoms with in that volume or mass. As I edit this, this morning the price of one gram of gold or now one mole of gold, it is worth $60.09. If you had 1kg = 2.2lbs, the value would be $60,088.35. Now let’s turn our attention to the periodic table. I know, yuck.
The elements on the periodic chart are numbered based on the atoms weight, Hydrogen itself as an element is number one on the periodic chart. Hydrogen is the first element on the chart because it is the lightest in weight. The next element is Helium. Next comes Lithium, Beryllium, Boron, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Fluorine, Neon, Sodium, and Magnesium. I could list the others but why?
The Periodic Chart is also divided into Metals, Gases, and Nobel Gases. This is why when you look at the chart it is arranged in the manner that it is. If you wish to learn more about the design of the chart and how it was created you can read about Dmitri Mendeleev Russian Chemist 1834 -1907, you can find him on YouTube as well.
Looking at the Periodic chart for Hydrogen there are numbers along with the symbol. Its Atomic number is 1, it has 1 proton, and has an atomic mass of 1.0079. Hydrogen however does not, if rarely exist on its own, it combines with another Hydrogen atom. So if you could get a hydrogen filled balloon, the gas inside would be H2 gas. As a molecule of hydrogen gas the molecular weight is 2.016. The molecule has two electrons and two protons.
Hydrogen mostly exists in the form of a gas all throughout the universe and on our planet. However under certain conditions it can be under immense temperatures and pressures that it is forced from a gas to a liquid metal. It is thought that both Jupiter and Saturn have metal cores of hydrogen. Hydrogen can also be an ice, but it has to be extremely cold. The temperatures are -434.45F or -259.14C. Interesting fact, for a star to form you need a large volume of Hydrogen that hovers at extremely cold temperatures. The cloud of Hydrogen needs to begin to collapse, it gains density as a result of gravity and given enough time will under the pressure start fusing the hydrogen gas into helium. That reaction generates electromagnetic radiation that we see in the form of light. Therefore if we had a gas bubble of hydrogen near our sun a star could not form because the temperature would not be conducive to such an event. This topic is better suited for Astrophysicists and Astronomers.
Atoms are made up of Protons, Neutrons and Electrons. Protons are particles that have a positive charge. Electrons are particles with a negative charge. Neutrons have no charge. Molecules are groupings of Atoms that have been bound together. Molecules bind together in three ways.
Ionic Bonding – this occurs when two atoms have opposite charges. For instance Chlorine has a positive charge, Sodium has a negative charge and therefore because of the electrical charge difference they come together to form what we know as table salt.
Covalent Bonding/Hydrogen bonding – this happens when two atoms end up sharing their electrons.
Metallic Bonding – this type of bonding between atoms occurs in metallic elements, and are formed by the valence electrons moving freely through the metal lattice
Before we go any deeper into the subject matter, there is one more concept that needs to be discussed; and that is the orbital shells of atoms. The orbital shell is the location of where the electrons orbit around the nucleus, and if you recall, the nucleus is made up Protons or Protons and Neutrons.
Let us start with Hydrogen atom.
A natural question arises from this.
If you could stand on an electron how far away would the Proton be?
If you were to scale up the proton to the same size of a basketball, then the electrons would orbit at a distance of 2 miles away. Therefore even on the atomic level distances are far. Atoms are mostly empty space. To put that into perspective imagine this next scenerio.
If you could take every atom that makes up the earth, the ground beneath your feet, remove all the space between the electron and protons and neutrons. The earth would be 184 meters in radius.
So its time to talk about the one thing that we are atempting to get to , and that is the one thing that aquariums need, water. We all know that water is the made up of 1 Oxygen atom and 2 Hydrogen atoms. Because of the unique way that these two elements combine to form water the molecule of water has a potential difference in its charge.
The Hydrogen bonds to the oxygen atom at a postion of about 4pm and 7pm reletive to the shape of the proton, and by doing so water become bipolar in its overal electrical charge.
Hydrogen only has 1 electron in its orbital shell and it wants 2, it is going to borrow 1 electron from the oxygen molecule to fill the orbital shell. And since there are two hydrogen atoms binding to the oxygen atom, another electron is borrowed from oxygen and as a result the Oxygen atom has an overall negative charge.
This is important because it will cause the water molcules to orient itself in such away to cancel out the electrical difference. See the image below.
Image Credit Tara A. Gross, USGS; Public Domain Usage
Now, what about water as a body of fluid
Imagine a glass full of water that is 100% PURE water, with no minerals, no biological organisms, no viruses or bacteria, nothing but a glass container filled with 100% water. You would not just have molecules combined in H2O, but HO and H3O combinations as well. Most of the Hydrogen and Oxygen is going to be bound into the familiar H2O configuration. But what is left over and morphing inside that glass without you realizing that it is happening are molecules sharing electrons and atoms which changes the chemical makeup of the water
You can’t witness it, but these configurations of atoms are constantly shifting back and forth. As a result you end up with different molecules forming between oxygen and hydrogen that have different charges, these are known as ions.
What is an ion? An Ion is a charged atom or molecule. It is charged because the number of electrons are not equal to the number of protons in the atom. Hence the Hydrogen atom is an Ion. For an atom to be neutral the electrons must match the number of protons. I mentioned earlier about the NOBLE gases. Neon is one of those gases. What makes the atom noble you ask? Well let’s take a look at it.
Neon is the tenth element on the periodic table. This means that neon has 10 protons, 10 Neutrons in its nucleus and 10 electrons. Remember the term orbital shell? The first orbital shell as I previously said can hold up to 2 electrons, however the 2nd orbital shell can hold up to 8 electrons. Neon does not need to borrow an electron from another atom, nor does it share its electrons, and therefore it does not bond to any atoms, it is stable, non-reactive. As a result it is considered noble. Now the question I hear is why does it glow? I am not going to go down that path, because that would take up another discussion.
Now we can speak about pH measurements
To test pH we use a test kit based on some math. We don’t need to discuss the math involved, what we do need to know is what is the real difference between a pH of 6.0 to 7.0, and what is it that we are really measuring?
Disclaimer – the p in pH is debated. However Danish chemist Soren Peter Lauritz Sorensen in 1909, revised the pH in 1924 to accommodate definitions and measurements in terms of electrochemical cells. Sorensen never explained what the p really stood for in pH, but his explanation of measuring pH was really using measuring the potential differences and that it represented negative power of 10 in the concentrations of hydrogen ions. So when I discuss the p in pH I use the term Potential of Hydrogen.
Measurement of pH is nothing more than a logarithmic scale. And for our purposes all one needs to know is that the difference between a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 or 8.0 is not just a factor of one, but it is a power difference of times more or ten times less depending on the reading of the test result. Therefore a pH of 5.0 is ten times more acidic then a pH of 6.0.
The pH of a fluid can have consequences to living organisms. Consider batter acid with a pH of 1, an accidental spill onto human skin would cause damage, but so would lye with a pH of 14. Not only do they cause damage, but the damage these substances cause are a result of different biological reactions. Battery acid dissolves the skin, whereas lye turns into a slippery substance, oil based and enters the skin.
Now here are some useless facts to fill your brain more with meaningless trivia unless you plan on going to medical school.
pH value of the human stomach is 1.5 to 3.5, pH Value of human skin 5.4 -5.9, pH value of human liver 6.99, pH value of the human brain 7.2
Rasbora Fish: A Comprehensive Guide
submitted by Bob Steenfott
March 14, 2023
Rasboras are a diverse and beautiful group of freshwater fish that are popular among hobbyists for their striking colors and ease of care. These small, peaceful fish can add a pop of color to any aquarium and are perfect for beginners looking to get started in the hobby. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about rasboras, from their natural habitat and behavior to their care requirements and breeding habits.
Chapter 1: What are Rasboras?
Rasboras are a group of small freshwater fish that are native to Southeast Asia. They are part of the Cyprinidae family, which includes other popular aquarium fish such as goldfish, koi, and barbs. There are over 100 species of rasboras, with the most common being the harlequin rasbora, the scissortail rasbora, and the chili rasbora.
Rasboras are known for their vibrant colors and peaceful nature. They are typically small, with most species growing between one to two inches in length. They are also social fish, and are best kept in groups of six or more.
Chapter 2: Natural Habitat of Rasboras
Rasboras are found in a variety of freshwater habitats throughout Southeast Asia, including streams, rivers, and ponds. They are often found in densely vegetated areas, and prefer slow-moving or still water.
The water in their natural habitat is typically soft and acidic, with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. They also prefer water that is well-oxygenated and free from pollutants.
Chapter 3: Appearance of Rasboras
Rasboras are known for their striking colors and unique markings. They come in a wide range of colors, including red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. Many species also have black markings, stripes, or spots.
One of the most popular species of rasbora is the harlequin rasbora. This fish has a bright red body with a black triangle on its tail and a metallic blue line along its back. Other popular species include the scissortail rasbora, which has a silver body with a black and yellow tail, and the mosquito rasbora, which is a bright red color with black spots.
Chapter 4: Tank Requirements for Rasboras
Rasboras are relatively easy to care for and do well in community aquariums. They are best kept in groups of six or more, as they are social fish and prefer to be in schools.
The ideal tank size for rasboras depends on the species, but most can be kept in a tank as small as 10 gallons. However, it’s always best to provide as much space as possible, so a larger tank is recommended if you have the space.
When setting up a tank for rasboras, it’s important to provide plenty of hiding places and plants for them to swim through. Rasboras are natural shoaling fish and will appreciate a densely planted tank with plenty of open swimming space.
Chapter 5: Water Conditions for Rasboras
Rasboras are adapted to soft, acidic water in their natural habitat, so it’s important to replicate these conditions in your aquarium. The ideal pH range for rasboras is 6.0 to 7.0, with a water hardness of 5 to 12 dGH.
It’s also important to maintain good water quality in your tank by performing regular water changes and using a high-quality filter. Rasboras are sensitive to water pollutants, so it’s important to keep their environment clean and well-maintained.
Chapter 6: Feeding Rasboras
Rasboras are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods in the wild, including insects, crustaceans, and plant matter. In the aquarium, they can be fed a varied diet of high-quality flake, pellet, or frozen foods.
It’s important to provide a balanced diet that includes both protein and plant matter. Some good options for rasboras include brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, and spirulina flakes.
In addition to their regular diet, it’s also a good idea to supplement with occasional treats like freeze-dried or live foods. These can help keep your rasboras healthy and happy.
Chapter 7: Compatibility with Other Fish
Rasboras are peaceful fish and can be kept with a variety of other community fish. However, it’s important to choose tankmates that are similarly sized and have a peaceful temperament.
Good tankmates for rasboras include other peaceful community fish like tetras, guppies, and corydoras catfish. It’s best to avoid aggressive or territorial fish, as they can stress out your rasboras and cause problems in the tank.
Chapter 8: Breeding Rasboras
Breeding rasboras can be a rewarding experience for hobbyists, but it does require some effort and preparation. The first step is to provide a suitable breeding environment, which includes a separate breeding tank with plenty of plants and hiding places.
To encourage breeding, it’s important to mimic the natural breeding conditions of rasboras. This can include using slightly cooler water, increasing water flow, and providing a varied diet of live and frozen foods.
Once the breeding pair has spawned, it’s important to remove the adults from the tank to prevent them from eating the eggs or fry. The eggs will hatch within a few days, and the fry can be fed a diet of newly hatched brine shrimp or micro worms.
Chapter 9: Common Health Issues for Rasboras
Rasboras are relatively hardy fish and are not prone to many health issues if kept in suitable conditions. However, there are a few common health problems to watch out for.
One of the most common issues is ich, which is a parasitic infection that can cause white spots on the fish’s body. This can be treated with a medication like Aquarium Solutions Ich-X.
Another common issue is fin rot, which is a bacterial infection that can cause the fins to become ragged or discolored. This can be treated with antibiotics or by improving water quality and performing regular water changes.
In conclusion, rasboras are a great choice for aquarists looking to add some color and activity to their aquarium. With their peaceful nature and ease of care, they make a great addition to any community tank.
This is for you guys who like to use root tabs. I just added some today during my water change.
Here are some BEFORE pictures to see if they help or not.
I have switched it up recently and changed my liquid fertilizer. I switched from API to Fluval Gro+ . I have seen new growth using this liquid fertilizer. I do not have their recommended iron test kit though, to know how much to dose. I have been conservative with the amount I add. I could see more growth if I knew how much my aquarium needs.
Keystone Clash 2023 is coming! It will be held September 22 – 24, 2023 at the Morgantown PA Holiday Inn Convention Center!
September 22 – 24, 2023
The Keystone Clash, now in its seventh year, has been a collaborative effort between the Chiclid Club of York (CCY) and Aquarium Club of Lancaster County (ACLC). Learn more about the clubs sponsoring the Keystone Clash.
What is the Best Diet for Guppies, Endlers and Other Livebearers?
submitted by Dena Edwards
All livebearers are considered omnivore species, which need a variety of proteins and plant matter in their staple diet. In the wild they would eat insects, insect larvae, copepods, shrimp, algae, plant leaves, etc. They really are opportunistic eaters.
In an aquarium I like to offer different foods to keep the overall diet varied. There is no single food that can provide everything needed, not even a prepared food sold for feeding in the home aquarium can provide everything needed for growth and overall health.
I like to have proteins in the range of 40-50% generally, and prefer quality proteins, such as a variety of shrimp, insects and even fish.
Good protein sources include whole meals, such as whole salmon meal or even fish hydrolysate, which basically is fish meal before all the liquid has been removed. Insect meal is another great protein source that is found in some higher quality foods as well.
As for plant matter, there are many, many options. Along with spirulina, kelp and veggies in processed foods I like to add fresh, raw veggies and even occasional fruits. I try to get organic, but not always possible. Cut a small bit and stab it with a fork to weight it down in the tank. Cucumber, zucchini, mushroom, green beans, broccoli, etc. Easy to get into the habit of setting a small amount aside for the fish before cooking to prepare my own meals. My fish go crazy over strawberry and tangerine slices, but they can quickly pollute the tank so those are offered the day before a water change.
Good treats include live (so long as you could trust the source), frozen or even freeze dried, but rehydrate first to avoid digestive issues.
Everyone has their own idea on what the the best diet may be. Personally I believe if you offer a variety of foods, including some fresh veggies as well as a few fruits along with a varied protein diet you should be able to provide the correct balance.
In my tanks I feed Guppy Color Feast (a granule very high in protein at 52%), Guppy Flake (a mix of veggie and meat based flakes, 40% protein), and if needing a color boost I add Guppy Color Flake (47% protein focusing on shrimp sources to boost oranges and reds). Then, for veggie content I occasionally add fresh, raw veggies. Just a small bit which I can stab with a fork. No cooking, no blanching as I want to retain the nutrients. I also on occasion feed live Baby Brine Shrimp as well as Repashy, etc.
In the summer I also set out a bucket of water and collect the mosquito larvae to feed to my fish. Man do they go ape over them! They perk up so much that I don’t even recognize their behavior!!
So, like I said, variety is important as no one food can provide a complete balanced diet for any creature.
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