Differences between Siamese Algae Eaters and Flying Foxes

If you’ve ever tried to deal with black brush algae you’ve probably heard of the siamese algae eater, one of the few fish that will happily eat BBA. The problem is that there are a few species that look very similar to a siamese algae eater that often get confused with each other and often mislabelled and sold as the wrong specie. After spending a great deal of time online to educate myself on the differences I wanted to compile an article to quickly and clearly help people tell the difference.

Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus langei)

true_siamese_algae_eater_bw true_siamese_algae_eater

Alse referred to as True siamese algae eaters (SAE), Crossocheilus siamensis, Siamese flying fox (using this name should be avoided to prevent confusion), Epalzeorhynchos siamensis.

Key differences:

  • The black stripe extends to the end of the tail instead of cutting off at the end of the body
  • Has 2 forward facing barbels next to the mouth
  • Fins are primarily clear and do not have much colouration

 

False Siamese Algae Eater (Epalzeorhynchus sp.)

false_siamesis_bw

Also known as the Thailand Flying Fox, False Siamensis

Key differences:

  • Black stripe stops at the end of the body
  • No visible barbels
  • There is a gold coloured stripe above the black lateral stripe
  • Fins have a distinctive yellow tint.

 

Flying Fox (Epalzeorhynchos kalopterum)

flying_fox_bwflying_fox_

Key differences:

  • Black stripe extends to the end of the tail
  • Has 2 forward facing barbels plus another 2 on the side
  • Fins have a Yellow-red tint

DIY Co2 Recipe

DIY-Co2

DIY Co2 is an incredibly cost efficient way to start experimenting with CO2 for your aquarium. You can get started with CO2 for under $20 quite easily compared with $200 for a typical entry level commercial Co2 system. The most critical part of your DIY Co2 system is your recipe, it determines how long your Co2 will last as well as how much Co2 will be delivered to the tank per second.

The active ingredients that produce the Co2 are Yeast and Sugar, the yeast consumes the sugar and creates alcohol while releasing Co2 as a biproduct. Eventually, the alcohol produced will poison and kill the yeast ending the Co2 production at which point you need to empty your bottle and start again. By having more sugar/yeast the Co2 production is much more intense but won’t last very long, on the other hand less yeast/sugar will result in a lower Co2 production but the mix won’t need to be replaced as often.

The recipe I settled on gives me a consistent medium Co2 release for around 2 weeks after which production starts slowing until it stops completely after 3 weeks. This might work for you but feel free to adjust as needed to find a balance that works for you.

The Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp yeast (regular dry baker’s yeast is fine)
  • Water

 

Instructions

  1. Mix some lukewarm water (not too hot) and a teaspoon of sugar in a small cup or bowl
  2. Add the yeast and mix with a fork vigorously until the water is bubbly. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes stiring every few minutes to keep the water oxygenated.
  3. Fill your primary container with lukewarm water to roughly 2/3rds full.
  4. Using a funnel, add the 2 cups of sugar to the primary container and then shake to mix and dissolve the sugar in the water.
  5. Add the yeast and water mixture you prepared to the primary container. Co2 should start producing within a few hours.
Posted in DIY

Deep Dive – Black Ghost Knifefish

ghostknife

The Black Ghost Knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons) was one of the first tropical fish I was intrigued by in my early days of fish keeping. Seeing videos online and ghost knives in stores swimming any which way was fascinating and I quickly decided to purchase one. Over 4 years later and my ghost knife (Ghosty) is still easily my favourite. From his weird timid but curious nature to being able to hand-feed him my ghost knife has definitely made a mark on me.

Official Species Overview

Size: Up to 50cm
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Temperature: 23-27
pH: 6.5-7.5
Diet: Carnivorous
Hardness: Medium (less than 200ppm)
Lifespan: Up to 15 years

My Experience

Upon doing my own research prior to purchase I was a little worried about my ghost knife possible being aggressive towards other fish and possibly snacking on some of my smaller fish (Cardinal/Emporer Tetras) once he grew. To my relief, I’ve never had any issue with aggression or snacking on smaller fish. Despite easily being the largest fish in my tank, the only time my ghost knife is remotely aggressive is when my nosy angelfish try to compete with him for food, a quick nip in their direction and they back off. Ghosty is currently around 20-25cm in length & 4.5 years old.

Ghosty lives on a mixed diet of primarily frozen blood worms & brine shrimp mixed with sinking pellets and the occasional zucchini he decides to hijack from the plecos in the tank. He eats the bloodworms/brine shrimp from my hands, sometimes that requires my holding the food to the edge of his cave while at other times he will come right out and eat from my hands near the surface.

Behavior wise Ghosty spends most of the day in his cave, currently a large hollow driftwood log, although he’s had many other housings ranging from smaller ornamental caves to a PVC tube and even a ship ornament. During the day it’s rare to see him exploring the tank unless it’s feeding time however at night he will happily explore the rest of the tank and frolic around. Some behaviour I’ve witnessed includes spinning around in a stream of bubbles and practicing a lunging attack forward

Summary

Overall my ghost knifefish has been a fantastic addition to my community tank providing hours of enjoyment. Despite some reports online of aggressive behaviour I’ve had no issues and my ghost knife who despite being the largest fish in the tank still acts timid. I would strongly recommend keeping a ghost knifefish to any intermediate fish keeper who is looking for a fun addition to their tank.

Angelfish Breeding Update

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So my experience with angelfish breeding has been less than ideal. I’ve had 5 spawns now in total but am still yet to rear any fry successfully.

My first three spawns were in my large community tank of which I wasn’t expecting any great results. The spawn generally lasted the day but was overrun at night by either my ghost knife, pictus or peppermint plecos. I then moved the pair into one of my small breeding tanks originally purposed for my plecos. After a few days the pair spawned on the breeding cone in the tank. Unfortunately the pair didn’t fan the eggs enough and fungus took over and spoiled them. Next spawn was only a few days later, much smaller and after I noticed the spawn i found the female attacking the male. After separating the two to stop my male getting killed I concluded that the issue was that the breeding tank was simply too small.

I’ve now moved the pair back to the community tank and they appear to be friendly again. The plan now is to let them spawn in the community tank and then extract the eggs and hand raise them in the breeding tank with an egg tumbler.

Angelfish Spawning

2015-03-09 15.12.49

My angelfish have just paired off and this is their second spawning attempt. Unfortunately this is still in a 6 foot community tank and the fry are very unlikely to survive. The plan is to move them once my new breeding tanks are setup.

Ocean Free Shogun LED Heater 300w / 500w

shogun-heater

Tech Specs

  • Digital LED read out with built in memory that remembers last shutdown temperature.
  • Precise temperature control with a tolerance accuracy of 0.5 degrees Celsius
  • Fully Submersible
  • Horizontal & Vertical placement
  • Energy saving design
  • Quality tested
  • For fresh & salt water
  • Safety cut off circuit ensures the unit does not overheat even when the water level drops sharply.
  • Will power off automatically if removed out of the water.
  • Heating function turns off automatically and shows ‘HH’ when temperature exceeds 35 degrees.
  • Shatter resistant safety glass
  • Heater Guard included
  • 2 Year Warranty
  • Rated for up to 500 / 1000 litres respectively
  • length: 41cm / 52cm respectively

 

Our Thoughts

I picked up a pair of these Shogun heaters on sale for $49.95 & $59.95 respectively on sale and thought it would be a great opportunity to test out a new brand of heater. I had heard some good things around these models but wanted to try them out myself. The feature set alone on a heater under $100 is impressive and the included heater guard will save you another $10-20 from your LFS if you’re keeping rough fish. Most notably the auto cutoff both when in excess of 35 degrees and when removed from water as well as the safety cut off when water level drops sharply is excellent to prevent damage to the unit under a whole range of scenarios.

 

I threw the 500W unit into a 1500 litre system to put it through it’s paces over a 7 day period and the heater ran excellent. Temperature remained stable and didn’t appear strained by the load regularly switching to standby mode.  The 300W unit was testing in a 550L system so was not put through quite the same load as the 500W but performed perfectly as well.

 

At the end of the day with heaters only time will really tell if they are a great unit but these initial tests are a good sign.

DIY Python Water Change Tool

Python 50ft No spill Water Changer

The Python is a well known and popular tool for water changes. It’s simple and allows you to use the same hose for both draining and filling the aquarium. Today we want to look at a DIY solution to achieve the same results at a lower price.

 

Parts Required:

Assembly:

      1. Use the shut off valve and the Hose/Tube fitting to connect your gravel cleaner to your garden hose.
      2. Attach the other end of the garden hose to the waterbed fill & drain kit
      3. When ready for use attach the waterbed fill and drain kit to your tap faucet.

art_diy_python_05art_diy_python_02

Usage:

First ensure that the shut off valve is in the off position and the fill & drain kit is set to drain. Then insert the gravel cleaner into your aquarium and slowly adjust the shut off valve to start and control the flow of water. You should set the flow speed such that dirt is being sucked up off the bottom of the tank while your substrate remains grounded. Once the desired amount of water has been removed from the tank close the shut off valve. You can lift the gravel cleaner up in the air and open the shut off valve to clear the rest of the water in the hose.

 

To fill, start with the shut off valve off and the fill & drain kit set to drain. First run the water and get the temperature close to your aquarium water (a spare thermometer helps here). Once ready turn the valve on the fill & drain kit so that it runs through the hose. At your aquarium you can use the shut off valve to start running the fresh water into the tank. While it is filling you should add whatever tap water conditioner and other additives you normally use. Once filled simply close the shut off valve, take the gravel cleaner to the sink and open the shut off valve to empty the last of the water out of the hose.

Posted in DIY