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Creating an Aquascape Using Unzan-seki Stones

Photograph by Takashi Amano.

By Takashi Amano

Unzan-seki stones are a new layout material in the Nature Aquarium, as explained in the June 2012 issue of TFH.

The way that the willow moss was attached to the surface of unzan-seki stones is quite unique. Willow moss was chopped into tiny pieces with a kitchen knife and rubbed on the surface of the unzan-seki stones. Chopped willow moss pieces will remain in the numerous depressions on the surface of unzan-seki stones and gradually attach themselves to the stones naturally.

You can watch exactly how the tank was set up.


Posted May 3rd, 2012.

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Puff for Your Dinner

If you thought the big, bad wolf was nasty, listen to this. Red lionfish (Pterois volitans) are popular fish for marine aquariums. They are fearsome predators that cannot be kept with small fish and invertebrates. It is well known that these magnificent animals use their pectoral fins to herd their prey, but new research shows that red lions also use squirting water as a strategy to confuse the prey. By overwhelming its lateral line, the lionfish forces its target to face the lion, thereby making the prey item easier to swallow.

Check out this video of the lionfish in action.



Photograph by Cindy Collinvitti.

Posted February 28th, 2012.

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Puffer vs. Laser

We’ve long known that fish are highly intelligent, and many species can even be trained to do something—the goldfish making a slam dunk, for example. Pufferfish in particular are reknowned for their intelligence. Despite their belligerent tendencies in aquariums, many people keep puffers for their personalities and the way they interact with their keeper.

Prankcallzzz filmed his puffer chasing a laser beam on YouTube in a video that now has gone viral. While Prankcallzzz was very careful in filming, we don’t recommend shining a laser beam into a fish tank for any purpose, nor do we recommend aiming a gun at a tank, as it could harm the fish. Always take all the necessary precautions before interacting with your pets.



Photograph by Damien Wagaman.

Posted February 27th, 2012.

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Spawning Drape Fin Barbs

By Nicholas P. Kalodimos, MESM, MS

In the March 2012 issue of TFH, an unique barb was described in the article “The Unusual Drape Fin Barb.” These are strange barbs that break the typical barb mold. They are somewhat similar to the sailfin tetra (Crenuchus spilurus) with their calmer activity levels, their overall visual pattern, and the large, robust head and mouth of the male. At the same time, the drape fin barb’s display and combat behavior (and, oddly enough, the sailfin tetra’s reproductive behavior) have been described as cichlid-like—how odd a fish!

The author took a video of his barbs exhibiting their interesting spawning behavior in the aquarium.

Photograph by Nicholas P. Kalodimos.

Posted February 10th, 2012.

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Electrifying Reef Growth

A reef in Bunaken, Indonesia. Photograph by James Fatherree.

The overwhelming number of threats facing coral reefs today require quick, effective action before the reefs are wiped out entirely. A main concern is how to regrow corals following a traumatic event, such as bleaching or storm damage.

One method to grow corals in situ that is being used in Bali is known as Biorock. Basically a domed structure made out of metal is placed on the area where the corals are supposed to grow, and a low-level electric current is run through it. As German marine architect Wolf Hibertz discovered, the electricity causes dissolved minerals to crystallize  on the metal. Marine Biologist and President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, Thomas J. Goreau, found the result is encrusting white limestone for corals to settle on and that the corals grow much faster on Biorock than they would if the reef was left as is. Below is a video of the reef grown on Biorock.



Posted December 28th, 2011.

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A Fishy Christmas Tree

Photograph by Aaron Norman.

There are many ways to involve your hobby in the upcoming holidays: you can give a fish tank as a gift or decorate your tank for the holiday, but did you ever think of having a fish-powered Christmas tree?

The Living Planet Aquarium in Salt Lake City, Utah did just that by connecting the electric eel display to a Christmas tree with four strands of colored lights that flash whenever the eel moves (thereby discharging electricity). Of course, electric eels are completely inappropriate for the home aquarium, and can deliver quite a shock to any unsuspecting individual in the water with them, but they do their job well in the aquarium.


Posted December 22nd, 2011.

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Planted Ripariums

A 50-gallon planted riparium. Photograph by Devin Biggs.

For people who are fascinated by the intersection of land and water, and still want the ability to make changes to their setup, a riparium might be the perfect option. Ripariums are open-top aquariums or aquariums with a section that is not underwater (but still has a cover to keep the humidity high). They allow for plants to grow above and below the water’s surface, although they do not have a specific land section for animals.

Jake Jung offers his advice for creating a beautiful riparium in “An Introduction to Planted Ripariums” in the December 2011 issue of TFH. Here is a look at Jake’s 40-gallon setup.

And to view more of Jake’s work, check out his website



Posted October 28th, 2011.

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A 7-Gallon Ocean

A 7-gallon nano reef. Photograph by Greg Gilmore.

Greg Gilmore is a long-time hobbyist who has kept everything from a 90-gallon reef to a 7-gallon one. The 7-gallon has been up and running for about seven years now, and continues to thrive.

An underwater view of the 7-gallon nano.

Greg has designed most of the setup on his own, building his own equipment when necessary. In fact, he set up the reef in such a way that it prevents the tank from overflowing.

To read more about Greg’s tank, check out this month’s “Going Nano” and Greg’s website.

Posted October 21st, 2011.

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Cichlids and Swords

Ted Judy’s 75-gallon tank featuring cichlids and swordtails. Photograph by Ted Judy.

Many Mexican and Central American cichlids share their habitats with various species of swordtails. Many hobbyists think the combination is either difficult or impossible to replicate in captivity—and it certainly doesn’t help that many cichlid fans see swordtails as live food!

In the November issue’s “Cichlid World” column, Ted Judy showcases his aquarium that proves the combination can not only work, but work well He makes several key points that are critical to success, including that the cichlid species must not be overly aggressive, large, or a known piscivore. It is also wise to include only adult swords that are not much smaller than the cichlids. Providing plenty of room and hiding places is also a must.

In this  particular tank, the swift current is also a critical feature that is easily noticed due to the sideswept substrate and blowing plants. The current was added because the fish come from a well-oxygenated riverine habitat, but it provides the added bonus of allowing the fish to exercise naturally and to expend extra energy. On the downside, the female swordtails must be rotated out of the tank to give birth both because of the fast current and so the fry can escape hungry cichlids.

So the next time you are considering what to put in with your cichlids, try thinking about swordtails—they are not simply feeder fish!

Posted September 30th, 2011.

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Captive Breeding of Tomato Clownfish: Video




Tomato clownfish in an anemone. Photograph by Hristo Hristov.

By David E. Boruchowitz

The Indian research team that developed successful protocols for captive production of tomato clownfish at a commercial level has provided us with a video of a pair of clowns with their spawn, which is placed on a clay flowerpot saucer. (The eggs are orange.) The smaller of the fish is the male, and he is seen tending the eggs at one point in the video. After they hatch, the fry are raised in special vessels to maximize survival.

One of the exciting things about this article is that although developed for commercial interests and to provide broodstock to hatcheries, the methods described can easily be adapted by hobbyist breeders who want to produce clownfish at home.








Posted September 29th, 2011.

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