Friday, November 20, 2009

Malaysian Trumpets Snails

Malaysian trumpet snails (MTS, Melanoides tuberculata ) are good for keeping your sand turned over. MTS will eat also eat algae but not to the extent that they clean the glass (see left). If you MTS are all up near the water surface this may mean you have a water quality issue! So they can a useful water quality indicator in a cycling tank.

They reproduce at a moderate level, but don't normally become a problem unless you are over-feeding. You can often get a few for free from a fish store or thrown into an online order.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Paff the Blind Minnow

There is some tension between keeping fish as the most perfect specimens possible, and keeping pets to whom you have a lifelong commitment no matter what happens to them. Aquarists tend to straddle that divide. For example, I keep colored ramshorns snails and I like them well enough, but I do not know them as individuals and I ruthlessly "squish" excess snails to prevent over-populations. I feel no particular obligations to the individual snails and keep them mainly as specimens and "decorations".

And then there is Paff.

You can get a Fathead minnow like Paff at a local fish store for around ten cents, they are used mainly as feeders and bait fish. I got Paff as a pet, but she escaping the usual fate of a minnow did not put her on easy street. After a slight injury she developed a serious infection which caused swelling in one eye (an effect called "popeye" or "pop eye"). It didn't respond quickly to treatment (Maracyn and water changes) so I thought it would be humane to euthanize her. But she was hard to get out of the tank and thrashed around in the 1 gallon jar, demonstrating plenty of health vigor and quite the temper.

She recovered from that and continued as normal, beating up the other minnow and claiming the cosiest spot in the tank. Then the infection reoccurred, leaving her totally blind. I took her out again, but again she seemed otherwise healthy and now infection free.

So, Paff is not the prettiest or even the healthiest of fish, and she has at least one obvious defect (no eyes). However she has quite the bullish personality and a good body condition. I make sure to drop food near her and put a little fry food in the water from time to time and she seems to do very well. She seems to get around the tank well and rarely bumps into things, and she is still the boss of every fish in the tank, including the much larger male Fathead (called "Bubba").

So, not a specimen, but definitely on of my favorite pets.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fry Watch

I have at least six new fry. The are either black bar endlers or gambusia, only time will tell.

After vanishing for most of the intervening period, 2 of the fry reappeared near the water surface yesterday. This pattern of behavior and their evolving appearance suggests that they are gambusia. Currently they have vanished again.

I saw three fry yesterday, but could only find this one today. Definitely looking like a gambusia, no signed of spotting so they are either female or not melanistic.

The fry are large enough to distinguish make and female based on fin shape. So far they all seem to be standard gambusia. I am separating males and females now to prevent over-population.