Should Medications Be Your First Line of Defense?

Should Medications Be Your First Line of Defense?

Should Medications Be Your First Line of Defense?
submitted by Dena Edwards (Everything Aquatic) 2022

Over the years there has been a trend of reaching for medications without first analyzing the situation to determine if medications are appropriate. And this approach had been leading to medications losing effectiveness over the years. Back in the 80s Metronidazole was a miracle drug as it could treat both protozoa and bacterial disease; however, today it is useless on its own for bacteria and can only treat a small range of parasites.

Our first line of defense starts by following a proper quarantine process with new purchases. It is critical to have enough time to evaluate the overall health of new purchases to avoid spreading disease. I have always held new fish 2-4 weeks minimum in QT. Once I got very busy and fish ended up being in QT for much longer. And I learned a difficult lesson too as at 6 weeks in QT the new fish started to develop a flesh eating bacteria. And by 4 months everything was lost. If I had moved them into my main tank at a month I potentially could have lost everything, not just the new fish. So now, I QT for 3 months minimum.

I am aware that many fish-keepers use medications as a preventative measure; however, most medications are not intended for such use. I am not going to say anything is wrong with this practice, but I will say if medications are not used appropriately then resistance can build up and medications will become less effective. I am also aware that those who import fish will notice over time fish will arrive with certain issues from specific vendors; and they will immediately medicate. This is a different approach in my mind to just tossing in meds to see what sticks or when there is no identified issue. Each of us will follow what we are comfortable doing and need to make educated decisions.

I have been approached by many recently asking for recommendations on what medication to use, yet have no idea what they want to treat. Without first evaluating to identify the root cause there is no way to recommend anything other than moving to a QT and closely monitoring the fish in questions. Anyone who approaches me with this type of situation asking for recommendations on which medication to use I always ask for the following information:

What are the current water parameters? Specifics are required to determine if the tank is cycled and being maintained with enough water changes
Ask how often water changes are done and the water volume. 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 the fish been in your tank? We they quarantined?
What tankmates are in the tank? Need to rule out incompatibility in species, such as keeping long finned fish with notorious nippers

With the case of fin rot, it is very different from environmental damage. Rot is often noticed at the fin tips and will gradually eat away at the fins; plus the fin edges will be very dark in most cases. Environmental damage will appear as ripped or torn edges or shredded finage. And 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 fin growth. Any time there is no sign of actual rot, the first approach is to do nothing more than offering a variety of high quality foods, doing small daily water changes and sometimes adding botanicals to add tannins to the tank. And in 1-2 weeks the fins will repair themselves.

We don’t take antibiotics for a leg cramp or a migraine, so why would we do so for our pets?

Attending a Tropical Fish Auction

Attending a Tropical Fish Auction

Attending a Tropical Fish Auction
submitted by Ed’s Picknupcichlids 2022

For those who are going for a first time or those who have attended
auctions previously below are some tips for attending whether buying or selling.
My number one thing is preparing your fish for the auction. Too many people
do not fast their fish. I do not feed the fish I am bagging for 2-3 days before I
bag them. This way they will produce less waste while in the bag. Please no
cramming more fish into the bags than they are meant to hold. When bagging fish,
use clear plastic bags meant just fish. Ziplock bags and baggies are not made to
hold water or fish.

Several fish stores will give you some fish bags for free or for
a small charge. Some auctions limit the number of bags or items you can bring.
Some fish will get stuck in the corners. One way to avoid this is to rubber
band the corners. Another way is to invert the bag and double bag it. Plus, if you
have a heat sealer you can crimp the corners before bagging. When closing the
bags make sure they have 1/3 water and 2/3 air. Breeding groups need to be
separated in separate bags and marked or taped together. When bringing your
bags of fish they should be in a cooler, Styrofoam box (fish box) or Totes with
lids. For larger fish buckets with lids. The Styrofoam boxes keep the fish warmer
in the winter and the darkness causes less stress on them.

Best thing when buying or bidding on fish is to get there during the
previewing time. Bring a pen and something to write on or type in your notes on
your phone the name of fish, how many, adults or fry. Check everything including
how they are bagged, how the fish look, how many of the same fish are in the lots.
When bidding hold your card up high enough to be seen.

If you are bidding on fish make sure to get a bidder card at the before the start
of the auction. Make sure you have a few tanks at home ready for the fish you
want to bid on. All of these tanks should be for quarantining the fish. I always
allow for a couple of extra bags. I always go home with more fish than I planned.
I find where you sit is important for buying or selling. I sit up front and
write down what my fish sold for and what I paid for my winning bids. Volunteer to
be a runner. You don’t need to be a member to do this. I volunteer at many other
club auctions. This allows you to see all the fish up close.

Fish Acclimation Guide

Fish Acclimation Guide

Acclimation Guide
By Dena Edwards on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 7:17 PM

You’ve always heard that buying fish direct from a breeder will fill your tanks with higher quality fish. But what about all those horror stories about DOA or fish arriving with their gills burned from ammonia buildup and attempting to gulp oxygen? Many times I’ve heard that it is a waste of time shipping fish because they always die; and to purchase local. I have a real problem with that statement. How do you think your local fish store gets its fish?

The key to having fish or invertebrates survive is knowing water parameters. More specifically the difference between the water in your tank and the water in the shipping bag. The greater the difference in water parameters the more caution must be taken to acclimate fish. When purchasing from a local store odds are the water you bring the fish home in will be fairly similar to your tanks and acclimation is not necessarily required. But what about when fish are shipped across the country or internationally? There are a few key steps that I take to ensure stress-free acclimation and to avoid fish losses where possible.

A. Ask the seller for their parameters
….and, test the bag water when it arrives! I have learned over the years that many are either ignorant of the conditions in their tanks or for some reason don’t want to provide accurate information. I am not willing to risk lives and my money over someone’s belief. For example, I have had breeders tell me their pH runs 7.0; yet the water they shipped was over 8.0 in pH.

B. How much variance in pH? Are you having to raise or lower pH?
The closer the pH between the two water sources the easier it will be to acclimate new arrivals. The general rule is if there is no more than 0.4 variance then you can simply net out the fish and drop them into your tank. This is the ideal situation. However, it never happens for me.

Is the pH in your tank higher than the shipping water? Then take a short time to acclimate. Fast acclimation is used simply to ensure there is nothing in my water that the fish reacts to. Fish have an easier time adjusting to a higher pH so long as it is less than 1.0 variance in pH acclimation isn’t too involved.

Is the pH lower in your tank? Then acclimation is critical to avoid osmotic shock as well as avoiding a struggle to breathe and low survival. You know that messing around with pH can lead to fish deaths (the reason why we never recommend messing with the pH in a tank), but it is sometimes required when fish ship, as is my case. When lowering the pH fish must undergo changes in their gills to be able to take in oxygen. Drop the pH too quickly and this change will kill them faster than just about anything.

C. When the variance is greater than 1.0
….take it slow! Plop and drop will just about guarantee fish losses, especially when lowering pH. If during the acclimation process you see the fish pumping their gills or gulping air then slow down before the fish succumbs.

Here are the steps I take when dealing with fish shipments:

1. Test pH of bag water (most often this is between 7.0 and 8.0)
2. Test pH of QT tank water (my water runs 6.6 out of the tap)
3. Test bag water for ammonia (when pH is above 7.0 ammonia is more toxic to fish). This is important as it can lead to other intervention steps when necessary to save struggling fish.
4. Add 1 drop Seachem Prime to help neutralize ammonia buildup
5. Set up a drip acclimation into a 5 gallon bucket
6. Carefully transfer fish and bag water into the bucket
7. When variance is between 0.4 and 0.8 I run a fast drip of 5 drops per second; but when greater than 1.0 then slow drip of 1 drop per 1-2 seconds
8. Place a screen or net over the bucket to avoid jumpers
9. Every 15 minutes or so, monitor fish behavior for any signs of stress. If stress is found, stop the drip and let them adjust; and only continue when they are again breathing normal and no longer gulping air
10. Once bucket is 3/4 full, I carefully pour off most of the water and continue with the drip
11. When bucket is again 1/2 full then net out the fish and transfer to the tank
12. I leave the water low in the tank for the first day. Then, fill up the next day or even do a small water change if there is any measurable ammonia

Because my water pH runs low I have had to make some drastic decisions to save the fish. Most shipments take 4-8 hours to acclimate to my lower pH level. Dropping pH for 7.8 to 6.6 is not an easy or quick process. Once when fish arrived in pH over 8.0 with 1.5 PPM ammonia I knew I couldn’t take so many hours to acclimate. Fish arrived very stressed and already experiencing issues maintaining buoyancy in the water. As I knew I didn’t have enough time to lower the pH I opted to add baking soda to my QT tank to match that of the bag and transferred the fish. Then, do small daily water changes to lower pH. In these cases it can take 7-10 days to remove baking soda and to get the QT back down to my norm of 6.6 pH.

Hopefully, some of the above will help you the next time you receive fish.

Betta Sororities

Betta Sororities

submitted by Lefty3213a

“I want to look at a tank set up that I loved doing myself and one that became extremely popular in the hobby over the last 18months to 2 years at least that’s what I’ve seen that’s when they grew in popularity. That tank set up is of course a betta sorority. So, what does betta sorority mean, well that means that you set up a tank with all female bettas.
Now typically we all know the rule is you can only keep one betta in a tank or they will fight each other. And yes this is the rule when it comes to males, but people tested it with females and found that under the right conditions you can actually keep groups of them together in tanks and they do not murder each other. Now that being said, these can be very hit or miss, so they are by no means a beginner level tank, in fact I would not even classify them as a moderate level tank, these should really only be attempted by people that have
A. done a bunch of research into them,
B. have been keeping fish for a few years.
C. people who have dealt with and know how to handle aggressive fish, and
D. people that have the ability to think on their feet and have the funds and space available for extra tanks incase a sorority does not natural balance itself.
So, for these the smallest size tank you should attempted them in is a 20 gallon, you will want a group of 5-7 girls. You are going to want to make sure you have plenty of hiding spots in the form of décor; rock work, driftwood and other things. You are also going to want a large number of plants in the tank for the same reason as the hiding spots. You want to treat your sorority like an African cichlid tank and give the fish plenty of ways to break line of sight with each other to curb their aggression.
The biggest mistake I think people make with these is trying to put too many girls in a small tank and they do not include something that I think is essential to sororities; dither fish. Dither fish are one of the biggest things you need to do if you want to keep a successful sorority. Dither fish are a schooling fish or active fish that will distract your girls away from fighting each other. I have found black neon tetras and emerald eye rasboras are great for this. Another big thing you want to try and do is get all your girls young and at the same time, this way they grow up together. If you notice aggression you can put that one fish in a time out, ie put it in a net in the tank or a breeder box. You might find you need to pull a fish completely as some just aren’t suitable for cohabitation.
Eventually your girls will establish a natural hierarchy among them, and balance should be achieved. Overall betta sororities can be an amazing tank and a fun project for someone that wants to try a tank that requires more work to maintain. But sadly, given the level of knowledge you need to successfully keep a sorority I would not recommend this to everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I love sororities, but they just require so much more in-depth knowledge of fishkeeping than a simple community tank or singular betta tank that I don’t feel comfortable recommending them to everyone. “

Give the Oceans a Hand by Shopping Secondhand

Give the Oceans a Hand by Shopping Secondhand

Give the Oceans a Hand by Shopping Secondhand
submitted by Sophie Letts

Everything humans do affects the world’s oceans. Sometimes our actions have an indirect impact, such as the case with chemical runoff from landfills. Other times, our irresponsibility causes direct and undeniable harm to the environment and the life within it. It’s up to us to take action now so that our children and grandchildren don’t have to bear the burden of an unstable ecosystem in the oceans we all rely on for food, travel, and recreation. Read on for some great tips from SLC Aquatics.

Know the problem

Manufacturing new items takes a toll on the environment. The creation of something new requires vast resources and can leave lingering chemicals and other waste on and in the land and sea. Every industry from textiles to vehicle production leaves behind remnants of the manufacturing process. One of the most effective methods for reducing the production of new, and therefore environmentally-taxing, items is to actively participate in the secondhand economy.

You can participate in secondhand shopping by visiting yard sales or thrift stores. Further, actions such as donating unused household goods, vehicles, and clothing, keeps these items in circulation and out of the oceans and landfills. This reduces the negative impact on marine habitats and lessens the amount of chemicals and debris introduced into the aquatic ecosystem.If you own or manage a business, making operational decisions in line with protecting the environment is a smart way to go in many aspects, one of them being a boon to the bottom line.ZenBusiness cites an Accenture study that showed 62 percent of consumers were attracted to certain brands because they were committed to green initiatives.

Recycling still a solution

A great deal of household waste won’t be suitable for continued use in its current state. However, there are other ways to reduce marine pollution while extending the useful life of what might otherwise be considered trash. Recycling is one option. According to Residential Waste Systems, recycling is one of the most beneficial things people can do for the environment. Specifically, recycling items such as glass, aluminum, and plastic, will reduce the need for harvesting raw materials. But more importantly, it will keep these things out of the ocean.

Perhaps more effective in the long term than recycling is to cut down on the amount of nonbiodegradable materials we consume in the first place. Today, Waste Dive notes that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic estimated to be in the ocean – 269,000 tons of this remains on the surface.

For a small glimpse of the potential issues this can cause, one only needs to take a look at the snapping turtle fittingly named Mae West after the curvy 1930s starlet. This unfortunate animal was caught shortly after birth inside of a tiny plastic ring used to secure the top of a milk jug. It left her permanently deformed, with an hourglass shape better suited for the silver screen than life in the ocean.

Individuals and industries alike can take steps to reduce overall raw material consumption to diminish solid pollution in the ocean. Carlsberg Beer has taken the important step of eliminating the plastic rings traditionally used to hold cans together. And another way people can help is by investing in reusable water bottles instead of buying bottled water.

It took more than one generation to leave our oceans in the state they are in today. But it is our generation that can take the initiative of putting things back the way they were and should be.

You may not believe that one person can make a difference, but remember that one person’s seemingly innocent purchase of milk forever changed the face of the effects of irresponsibility.

SLC Aquatics loves discussing anything having to do with fish — from fish tank designs to challenges you may have raising fish. Get in touch today!

Image via Pixabay

Aquatics Plants

Aquatics Plants

Originally Posted by Yorkie
10-19-2020 ref. Diana Walstad

In her book, Ecology of the Planted Aquarium (Chapter 7), Diana Walstad talks about the use of aquarium plants to take up ammonium from the water. Section 4 within this chapter is entitled “Plants and Nitrifying Bacteria Compete”. The essence of this is that plants prefer to uptake ammonium instead of nitrate. So, I did a very basic experiment in order to probe deeper into this…

In an illuminated tank containing Java and Congo Fern, I was able to show that NH4 dropped from 2 mg/litre to 0.4 mg/litre over a period of just four hours! Late yesterday evening, I then added ammonium chloride to raise the NH4 to just under 3 mg/litre and left the tank overnight in darkness. At 12:40 pm today, I measured NH4 and it was still around 3 mg/litre. What could be the explanation for this? Is it because my plants only absorb NH4 in the presence of light, i.e. when the plants are photosynthesizing?

I usually don’t check other forums on APC (Aquatic Plant Central), so I would post your questions there.

Plants take up ammonia as their source of nitrogen for growth both day and night. (Nitrate is only taken up in the presence of light.)

Your plants reduced NH4 from 2 mg/l to 0.4 mg/l in 4 hours. This addition may have saturated their need for nitrogen. Then you added 3 mg/l. Was that immediately after the first reduction?

Plants take up N for growth along with some excess. But there’s a limit. There has to be some plant growth involved. Ferns aren’t fast growers. You’ll notice that most of the scientific testing is done on Elodea, duckweed, Hornwort, etc, not ferns. Usually, scientists doing these studies show that the uptake is accompanied by plant growth.

In an NPT (natural planted tank), growing plants take up ammonia as it is generated in small amounts by natural processes. This means small amounts as they grow.

High concentrations of ammonia are toxic to plants (my book, p. 20), so there’s some limit on how much they can take up and how fast.

Currently, I use plants as sole water purifiers in all of my 8 guppy tanks. No filters.

Originally Posted by dwalstad
September 2014

Your plants reduced NH4 from 2 mg/l to 0.4 mg/l in 4 hours. This addition may have saturated their need for nitrogen. Then you added 3 mg/l. Was that immediately after the first reduction?

Yorkie Re:
I am very grateful for your comprehensive reply – thank you!

With specific reference to the above – yes, the 3 mg/l total ammonia addition was immediately after the first reduction. I was guessing somewhat and, in hindsight, it was too great an increase. I measured total ammonia at 1900 this evening and it had dropped to 0.2 mg/l. Tomorrow, I’ll test total ammonia again and also include NO2 and NO3.

dwalstad Re:

Sounds like you have a scientific mind-set. Excellent.

The scientists looking for plant uptake of ammonia always check nitrates and nitrites to make sure that the N removal from the ecosystem is not due to nitrification.

Even then, it is hard to sort out. Nitrogen is recycled via many different pathways by many different organisms, bacteria species, etc. Everybody wants nitrogen!