by TFH Magazine on April 30, 2010 at 5:48 am
By Mike Hellweg
I’ll bet you can imagine that as this contest progresses Ted and I occasionally run out of room. Ted mentioned in an earlier blog entry how he addresses this. Well, with more than 70 tanks dedicated to this contest and with a bumpy start, I hadn’t yet really run into this problem until a few weeks ago. Now that my breeding program is chugging away, tanks are filling up quickly. Plus, before the contest started I had decided to switch out most of my commercial sponge filters for home-made, wall-type sponge filters, so at any one time I’ve got a few tanks out of commission as I make the switch.
Long-term, this will be a great benefit to the fish, as each filter provides much more surface area for beneficial bacteria, and with the filter taking up an entire wall, there are no spots for the fish to hide behind as there are with conventional sponge filters, making moving fish much easier. Short term, this switch can tie up some much needed glass box real estate while the filter gets up and running. As I set up the “new” tanks, I keep the bioload low for a few weeks, add extra plants, and seed the new filter with “squeeze-ins” from my old filters. So far this strategy is working pretty well.
I don’t have problems with the scatterers and other similar fish because I don’t set them up to spawn until there is a tank available. But what I do find is that as more than 25 pairs of cichlids, some dozen or so livebearers, and a half dozen or so mouthbrooding anabantoids keep spawning on a somewhat unpredictable basis, to keep new fry from being eaten by the parents I occasionally have to find room for the fry for a week or so until another tank opens up. The leftover filter material from cutting the wall filters gave me an idea.
I have found that disposable lasagna containers are almost ideal fry tanks for newly free swimming fry. They give the fry plenty of surface area, and give them a bit of room to spread out. But there isn’t too much room in there so the fry don’t have to go too far to hunt down their food. The containers are inexpensive, so I can always have extras on hand. They are also lightweight and easy to move, so I can do a water change on all of them every day in just a few minutes. But there is no commercial filter designed to handle small tanks like this, and even with only a dozen or two fry, I like to have filters in these small tanks as water quality can change quickly. Some of the killie guys are making tiny filters out of PVC tees and filter floss. This provided inspiration for my mini-filters, made of half inch CPVC pipe and fittings and some leftover material from the wall filters. This little device gives the fry a safe place to grow for a week or so until I can move them to a tank. If necessary, they work well for a couple of weeks. I add a dozen or so daphnia, a couple of ramshorn snails, and a clump of Java moss to each lasagna container, too.