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Tropical Fish Keeping by Alastair Agurtter

Tropical Fish Keeping in the Fish House

Dear All, a very big welcome to more of my news and updates "In the Fish House" keeping you all up to date of events and also hopefully providing for you valuable tips and advice, for successfully keeping healthy, thriving, disease free tropical fish and all based on my 50 years experience as an Aquarist. Best Wishes and Regards, Alastair. 

Angel Fish (Pterophyllum Scalare) News, Tips and Advice

Angel fish as many aquarists know, are a difficult fish species to breed at times, and for a good number of reasons. Angel fish for most of their young lives growing up can be enjoyable community aquarium fishes. However, when they start to reach adulthood, they can be a handful and very aggressive. I have in fact been frequently bitten by adults and parents when cleaning their aquariums, and especially if they have recently spawned, or have young.

Angel Fish can also be very aggressive towards their own species, and will nip the hell out of each other. Angel Fish will even attack the pectoral fins to such a point, the poor fish can hardly swim. So when they become adults, you have to keep an eye on them and make sure they are compatible and friendly towards each other.

When it comes to breeding Angel Fish, again like most fish they enjoy regular water changes. They also ideally require a water Ph below 7.0 ph and preferably about 6.8 or slightly less, as this water will be slightly softer and more acid, reducing the bacteria content in the water. This provides a greater chance of success, regarding the hatch rate and the prevention of fungus eggs.

Some aquarists with regards to angel fish eggs in the prevention of them becoming fungus use Methylene Blue, but as many of you know I try to avoid any chemicals at all times.

Food and diet wise I feed my Angel fish flake food, blood worms and also beef heart from the recipes in my super foods book.

Discus Do Eat Flake Foods

Most Aquarists know that Discus are renowned for being very fussy eaters, and the only way I could get my Discus to breed, was by making specially prepared foods, hence one of my latest books called "Super Foods Tropical Fish and Discus" so aquarists can now make their own super foods, from the recipes found in the book.

Discus will eat flake food, and this is when they are completely settled and content in the aquarium. I feed my discus quiet frequently on tropical fish flake foods made by Tetramin and King British. I obviously vary the diet between Beef heart recipes, frozen blood worms and flake food throughout the week.

Some days I just feed my Discus Flake food, or Frozen Blood Worms, and this is normally the day before I carry out a water change. The reason for this, the Discus will nose around all day long looking for pieces of food to eat, and this helps keeps the aquarium clean.

Discus (Symphysodon) Fish News, Tips and Advice

Getting Discus through to adulthood can be very challenging, as a pecking order does start to become established, and as early as 16 weeks from birth. In these periods of rearing, you need plenty of food, and regular water changes.

To help Discus Keepers and Aquarists, when I revised the 2nd edition of the Discus Book after some criticism from readers, I took the book from 106 pages to 176 pages, entering far more detailed information in the book including every stage of rearing and I am convinced the book is now the most informative on the market for Discus Keepers.

Foods to successfully rear Discus have to be high protein super foods and most breeders use beef heart in some form. Just feeding blood worms will not suffice, as Discus are prone to disease as a result of stress because they are a highly evolved intelligent species.

In the late 1970's and 1980's, only from making my own foods did I start to successfully breed Wild Discus in captivity. Had I of not taken those steps, I know with hand on heart, I would never of been able to bring the fish into condition for them to breed.

If you are taking up Discus keeping, one thing you will soon learn is to invest in information, food, and equipment, for the very best results. Even though Discus today are tank bred, most discus even very small species, will cost you more than 40 to 50 dollars each. And so keeping discus becomes a costly exercise, if your fish die after one, or two weeks.

90% of all tropical fish diseases relate to stress, caused from poor diet, poor water quality and aquarium locations and positioning. In my new and revised second edition of the discus book. I detail how to avoid these pitfalls to enjoy healthy, thriving Discus, the King of the Aquarium.

Live Bearers News, Tips and Advice

This year, even with some personal setbacks, I have been busy planning a new book for successfully keeping and breeding Live bearers for all fellow tropical fish hobbyists and aquarists. Many in our hobby will say keeping these species is easy, but all fish can get disease from poor diet, poor water quality and stress.

So the new book planned, will have a plethora of valuable information, to make tropical fish keeping, especially for our new hobbyists, an enjoyable experience.

At the moment, my Platies, Guppies, Swordtails and Mollies, are all busy breeding and with young. I am currently taking and collecting photographs in the fish house for the new book, and hope to have some really interesting and revealing images of the species.

Platies and Guppies were the first tropical fish I ever kept, when I took up the hobby of tropical fish keeping back in 1967. I have a great affinity and love for these species, and truly hope from the new book, I can get you just as fond and enthusiastic as I, about the species.

When in a naturally planted tropical fish aquarium, housed with Guppies, Platies, Swordtails and Mollies, there is always a hive of activity for the aquarist and family members to watch and enjoy.

In the meantime, if any aquarists are experiencing difficulties in keeping these species. I have found the perfect temperature for keeping Live bearers is between 76 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, a Ph range between 6.8 to 7.6 ph, regular feeding, little and often of small amounts, and regular water changes, about 20% replaced in your aquarium at least once a week.

Aquatic Plant News, Tips and Advice

Vallisneria is one of the first ever aquatic plants I acquired back in 1967, and in those days taking up the hobby of tropical fish keeping, my marine life inhabitants consisted mainly of Guppies and Platies. I did have considerable success in growing and keeping Vallisneria, and some of the reasons unknown to me at the time, related to the fish species in my aquarium, and the temperatures I was keeping my tropical fish and plants.

Many aquarists struggle to keep aquatic plants, even today, and this normally relates to filtration methods, and the required nutrients for the plants. Both of which I have explained in one of my most recent books as I celebrate 50 years, as an experienced aquarist titled "My First Aquarium" with nearly 400 pages, packed with information, diagrams, pictures, and tables, for successfully keeping tropical fish, healthy and disease free.

Platies, Guppies, Swordtails and Mollies, as Live bearers, are high consumers of food. Thus in turn, high providers of nutrients for plants from fish waste. This was one of the reasons I was able to successfully keep and grow Vallisneria back in the 1960's.

The other factor was temperature for back in those days keeping Live bearers it was recommended that the temperature of an aquarium for these species should be between 72 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now upon my more recent studies and experiments looking at aquatic plants survival, filtration and food. I have found Vallisneria can thrive and grow successfully, but only in temperatures up to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher the temperatures after 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant starts to struggle and rapidly deteriorate.

The plants I use for my Naturally Planted Discus and Angel Fish Aquariums contain Amazon Sword Plants for they can withstand and thrive in temperatures even up to 88 to 90 degrees and this relates to their native regions and origins, this being the Great River Amazon and other Tributaries and Rivers in South America where temperatures can be extreme. The average range of temperature I keep my Amazon Sword Plants in for my Discus and Angel Fish is 82 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Related Reference: My First Aquarium Book - The Joy of Tropical Fish Keeping - Full details and how to buy on Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble etc >

Written by Alastair R Agutter
Last Modified and Updated: 12th August 2017
Alastair Agutter Author and Writer

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