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FAQs on N. American Native Freshwater Biotopes

Related Articles: Biotopes - Part 1 by Alesia Benedict, Biotopic Set-Ups, Aquascaping for Beginners; Twenty Tips for Realistic Aquaria by Neale Monks, Aquascaping Adventures in Aquascaping by Timothy S. Gross pH, alkalinity, acidityTreating Tap Water, Freshwater Aquarium Water Quality, Freshwater Maintenance

Related FAQs:  Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease

Jelly-bean Tetra and Mexican Biotopes 7/11/12
Hey there, WWM crew! I'm back again to pick your genius brains for information that I can't really seem to find elsewhere! I have questions on two totally unrelated subjects for you today, and am hoping you can help sort me out as you always have done so well!
<Will try.>
First, I have the opportunity to purchase a school of very beautiful and tiny Jelly-bean Tetra.
<Now, what are we talking about here? The artificially coloured form of Gymnocorymbus ternetzi (the Black Skirt or Black Widow Tetra)? These are very widely sold in the US, but thankfully absent from the UK trade. They are tattooed with dye into the muscle underneath the skin. It's a cruel, dangerous process and I would suggest you should not buy these fish! Or do you mean Ladigesia roloffi, a rarely-traded tiny (~3 cm/1.2 inches) species from Africa? This is a lovely fish, somewhat delicate, and does need soft, acidic water to do well.>
I've fallen in love with these little dwarfs, and I think they'd be the perfect finishing touch to my soft-water community tank. . . but I'm having a bit of trouble finding very much information on the species. It seems that they're very rare in the trade (at least around here),
so I'm wondering if you can link me to any articles or just tell me what you can about these pretty little fish.
<There's a great summary over at Seriously Fish, here:
But the basics are simple enough. Water chemistry needs to be soft (1-10 degrees dH), and the pH slightly acidic (6.5-7). Middling water temperature is fine, 25 C/77 F. Feeds on tiny live foods (like Daphnia and Cyclops) and their frozen substitutes, but will take flake once acclimated to aquarium conditions. Highly social, so keep a decent sized school, I'd say much more than 6, and really at least 8 to 10, and ideally more. Terrified of larger midwater species, but gets along fine with bottom dwellers that stay away from the middle of the tank, such as Corydoras and Apistogramma. Should also work fine with small midwater fish like Threadfin Rainbowfish or Golden Pencilfish.>
They will be the final addition to my well-planted, established tank.
Nitrates stay steady at 7.5, and the substrate and background are dark. Lots of open swimming room for them (planned into the aquascape) and floating plants. The other creatures that live here are 4 Bolivian Rams and a small shoal of 5 Kuhli Loaches, so they'd pretty much have the top of the tank to themselves. Also, I believe these were wild-caught, and according to the shop owner have been QT'd and medicated before being put up for sale (though I'd QT them anyway, of course) I've never owned a wild-caught fish before, are there any special rules to follow here? Have you any information to offer or advice to give?
<With wild-caught fish, your main problem is feeding: they have no idea what flake is! So be ready to offer live foods, perhaps newly-hatched brine shrimp if you want the cheap and easy approach and have a few days prep beforehand. So long as they're not competing with midwater fish, you shouldn't have any real problems here.>
My second question is this. . . I'm still working out what to do with my Mollies! They do still live in my main tank, but will be transferred to their own tank when the tetra (or whatever fish I end up with to complete that tank) are through their QT period, and that tank is finally open. The plan is to turn the QT tank into a Molly paradise, complete with salinated and hardened water.
<Sounds ideal.>
But I've done the community tank, and now I'd like to try my hand at an authentic Biotope. As far as I have been able to figure out, Mollies originated in Mexico - but I can't seem to find ANY information on what a freshwater (or brackish) Mexican Biotope should look like.
<Ah, because they live all over the place! Not necessarily -- or even most commonly -- brackish water. But any open, sunlit pool or stream is good Molly habitat. The perfect environment in the aquarium would have something like lots of flat rocks, bright overhead light, plenty of algae growing on the flat rocks, and if you want them, some tall plants around the edges of the tank for shelter and shade (females and fry appreciate this) -- I'd look at things like Vallisneria and Amazon Swords (most of which don't come from the Amazon!) as examples of plants that tolerate hard or slightly brackish water perfectly well. I've seen nice Mexican-theme tanks using water worn cobbles, a mix of silver and coral sand for the substrate, and some Vallisneria at one end; you can see a nice set-up plan in "The Complete Aquarium" by Peter Scott, a biotope-plan book that you can pick up secondhand for pennies on Amazon. It's a great book, and I suspect you'll find it inspirational.>
I've found a book for sale on the subject, but it is very expensive, and the library doesn't stock it, so that's out - and the internet is failing me on this one. I'd like to be as authentic as I can be, but at this point, I'm completely at a loss, and hoping you can point me in the right direction? What substrate? What plants? What on earth does a Molly's habitat LOOK like!!?
<You name it! There are Mollies that live in caves, and feral Mollies found in the seas around Thailand, so really, it's all about your imagination.>
I thank you most sincerely for any information or advice you are able to share, as always!
- Jes
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

US Regional species.   12/3/09
Dear Crew-
In the spring I plan to install a small (500g) pond. I'm interested in maintaining a few fish species native to the Ohio River Valley. Do you know of any resources for such a project, ie recommended species & where/how to
obtain them?
<Hello Gerald. The first thing you'll want to do is get hold of a book called "North American Native Fishes for the Home Aquarium" by David M. Schleser (Barron's, 1998, ISBN 0764103679). This will tell you everything
you need to know about which species are best and how to capture them. A few North American natives are traded through biological supply houses, but usually aquarists have to catch their own fish. Exceptions are limited to
those few species traded as ornamental fish: Pumpkinseeds, Rosy Red Minnows, Shortnose Gar, etc. In general you'll need to provide conditions akin to those required by sensitive pond fish like Sturgeon, i.e., good filtration and plenty of water current. Very few North American fish will put up with the still water conditions Goldfish tolerate. Cheers, Neale.>

Keeping Native Sunfish  6/30/06 Hi. I went fishing with my father this morning and I ended up coming home with a few new pets. I looked them up and I am assuming they are green sunfish. I was wondering...what do I have to feed them? < They eat insects, small fish, tadpoles and just about anything else that moves.> I was hoping I wouldn't have to always buy worms and crickets to keep them happy. Can I feed them regular fish food? I fell in love with these fish and I need help to make sure they are okay. thanks! <When they are hungry they will learn to attack anything that hits the surface. Great fish and lots of fun to watch.-Chuck>

Sunfish ID  6/5/06 Hello,            Several months ago, I had asked you what type of "cichlid" I had bought, and you told me it was a sunfish. He is now growing well, and seems very healthy. I was wondering, though, if you could tell me what species he is, I cannot seem to get a positive i.d from fishbase.org. Thanks,                                                          Giles Day <Mmm, might be a juvenile Centrarchid... or a (now separated family) Elassomatid... your pic is very blurry... Bob Fenner>

Canal fish care  - 5/11/06 I caught these fish in the canal in my backyard I know I shouldn't keep them but the people who had them released them.    I caught:   Dalmatian mollies   sail fin  mollies male and female   some sort of kill fish I forget what they are   and these fish that are sort of green with gold spots    < It sounds like you live in Florida! The green with gold spots sound like they may be flag fish, Jordanella floridae. The males color up beautifully! >   they barely eat the flakes I give them but I feed them small guppies that are over populated in my pond (I wrote you about that a while ago) the flakes were left over and there wasn't much left, so when I get more what should I get? I was thinking blood worms. < Bloodworms are a good idea. Tubifex worms and shrimp or krill would also be good food sources. Once the new fish adapt to life in a box, they will eat almost any prepared foods. Good luck! RichardB> veronica lilcherna

Re: canal fish   5/15/06 yes I do! < Unfortunately over 70% of tropical freshwater that can be found in the average pet store are now native to Florida. >      I've also seen and caught one that looks exactly like the ones w/ green speckles but it has a red tail < It does sound like a killie fish of some sort, but without pictures, it is only a guess. >     I looked for a pic. of the flag fish on line but that's not it. it has almost catfish-like scales, it looks slimy. but I could have caught a female flag fish. there's this fish I think it could be part of the child (south am.) family. it has that body shape, it has this bluish color and a black dot somewhere near his/her tail. do you have any idea what it could be? < Get me some photos, and I'll give it a shot! >      only the Dalmatian mollies I see eating. but they're starting to be domesticated a little, if that's possible. when I go up and see them they don't scatter as much so that's why I think that they might be starting to be domesticated. they're in a turtle tank right now because its shallow and the canal is shallow too, but there is no turtle in there (it died, but it was my sister's) is that they're in a turtle tank OK? < The turtle tank may be alright, but you need to do frequent partial water changes to ensure the fishes' good health. > the mollies and the speckled fish are in the turtle tank because I think the big one (about 1 1/2 in. but wide) is a cichlid, I hope you can tell me if it is or not its really taking up my spare fish tanks. < Show me the fish! It must be cool being able to catch your own fish! I'm jealous! >   well ill try some blood worms. but the other fish don't really go to the top, is there any sinking worm thing (I know Tubifex worm cubes will sink after they're all wet but there is only 6 fish) < You can squeeze the air out of the blood worms while holding them under water. This also works with the Tubifex, only tear off a little corner at a time. >     I also have these guppies w/ my cichlids they were small when I put them in when I had tropical fish but now they're big and the cichlids I have now are to small. one I noticed was very big, bigger than the others (we're talking fat) so I put it with my feeder fish which are also guppies, that was yesterday. today after I came home from school I saw the big guppy pooping but it wasn't poop it was a Lil' guppy! it had others about 20 but most of them were dead, so I got rid of those and took all the live ones and the mother and put them in a cup I fed them some baby fish food but I only saw one or two eat it. what else can I feed them? crushed shrimp, its really almost dust the shrimp were so dry. I have that for the guppies in my cichlid tank but they can share. < They will also eat powdered flake food and crushed up blood worms. You could also grab some algae covered rocks from the creek, they love to graze on that stuff! >      hopefully my message wasn't to long and thanks for the help < No, it wasn't too long. You are very welcome! RichardB >  

Re: canal fish  - 05/23/2006 veronica gall wrote:     I will take some photos but tell me how to show them to you. < I would love to see them! > I clean the tank every few days but I guess I could just change some of the water if that's better for their health. < Changing out a portion of the water is always a good idea. I try to change out 25% once every week or two. >   its very cool to be able to do this, but its is OK to keep them, right? < Ethically, it is OK to keep them. There is no law against it. > to get pics of all the fish I've caught so far ill need to go out and catch some more. some of them jumped out and died (sadly the male sail fin was 1 that died and he was very pretty like all male sail fins) , They are beautiful! >   I bought some blood worms and this sinking food let me go get it... tetra min tropical granules its called, it has a Betta neon tetra and some black molly. I said "well, I have  mollies." and on the container it says for small tropical fish. so I thought those were good for those who don't eat the floating stuff. < Good idea! Try to be sparing with the foods, too much can be a bad thing. try to feed no more than the fish can eat in about 20 seconds; any more than that, and they will just pass it. >   there aren't any rocks but there is some algae in these little plant beds, but I'm not sure I want that nasty stuff in my tank. < I can't say I blame you there. Maybe down stream? >   thanks again < You are welcome! >  

Re: canal fish  - 05/29/06 I would like to show you them but I don't know how to show them to you. < If you log into the Wet web media chat forum, you can load them into your bio. > well I don't think I can change the water once a week because I clean the tank every 2-3 days. < As long as you are keeping the uneaten food cleaned out, and the water stays clear, this should be alright. But remember, if the water gets cloudy, a partial water change is in order. > yes I regularly put to much food. < Generally speaking, put in no more than the fish can eat within 20-30 seconds. > well its not really a stream its a canal but a few streets down there are rocks but the houses are so far apart and everything, but I figured something out, I put lily pads in the fish water and after a week they turn to algae so I think if I take the leaf out when its completely algae or close to it, then let it dry then I could feed it to them as food, like you do with saltwater, would that be a good idea? < I like the thought, but it may just contribute more unwanted waste to the tank. It may not be a good thing to do. > < Good luck! >  

Another identification of a canal fish!!  - 05/29/06 I identified another one of my fishes! the green one with speckles is a golden topminnow. are they males a different color than the females? because I am positive that those with the red tales that look exactly like the others with out the red are males.
the cichlid like one I think is a type of sunfish. it has some orange on the top and red on the bottom fin, or the other way around. I think its a sunfish because I notice that they have a medium sized black dot near their head, just where their head stops, and that fish has it too but it also has small blotches along his body but like I said they're small and not the same size as the first one.
I just need to wait to load the pic on my computer and then you  will know all of my canal fish!!
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