Tropical Fishkeeping

Betta Cruelty
by Ran


Please help stop cruelty to Bettas!

'Betta Vases'. A lovely glass vase, housing a darling little Betta and a Peace Lily. Nice, right?


These are the Betta version of sticking a Goldfish in a little, litre-or-two-volume bowl. For one, Goldfish are very intelligent, contrary to popular belief. Common/Comet Goldfish can grow up to 20-25 centimetres, and live for over twenty years.

Unfortunately, Bettas (or Siamese Fighting Fish, which is what I refer to them as) have been a victim of their own tragic popularity. Know when you go into a pet shop or Wal-Mart and see gorgeous Bettas -- from common veil-tails to spunky crown-tails -- stuffed in tiny bowls that are only filled with an inch or so of cloudy, brown-yellow water?

What you're looking at are Betta caskets. The 'homes' that shopkeepers generally sell to you to house your Betta are no different.

Bettas naturally hail from Thailand rivers and rice patties which, I'm afraid to say, are much more than your typical 'they live in muddy puddles' ignorant shopkeeper response. They usually don't grow beyond 6-8 centimetres, and can live for anything along the lines of three to five years. Not like these Vase bettas, who usually die within the first month or two of purchase.

Does that really seem right?

People often compare this torture to keeping a cat or dog in a closet. Not only is the poor fish in far too small living quarters, they will suffocate and starve. Why suffocate? Bettas are part of an interesting group of fish known as 'Labyrinth' fish, which means that not only do they absorb oxygen from water passing through their gills, they need to breathe from the surface as well. If you put a Betta in a vase, sure, he might survive for a few months longer if you look after him. But stuff a Peace Lily into the top half of the vase, and he can't breathe. He will slowly suffocate....if he doesn't starve first.

Shopkeepers will tell you that you don't need to feed the Betta at all; they tell you that he'll eat his fill of the Lily's roots whenever he's in the mood for some munchies.

Bettas are carnivores. They don't eat plant roots. Bettas in an aquarium spend the majority of their time in the top third of the tank -- not only because of their need to breathe, but because of their feeding style. They have upward-facing mouths (they look like the fish version of a Bulldog, really) and have adapted for picking particles of food off the surface of the water; anything from insects and insect larva/eggs, or even mouthfuls of dead fish. It is a little-known fact that these little fish actually possess teeth, and can occasionally deliver quite a bite.

What makes the Betta so different from other fish? Tell me, why should the Betta live in a 'Betta casket' instead of an aquarium, where he can be happy, healthy, and live a potential full lifetime? (Assuming you take care of him, of course. It's not that difficult, people)

Each Betta has his own personality. They can be shy and mellow, or cheeky and like to zoom across the tank, or cocky and grouchy. They quickly recognize their owners, often begging for food whenever they -- the owners -- walk into the room, or switch a light on. Some will allow their owners to pet them, and will even 'sit' on their hands.

These outstanding little fish deserve far more respect and love that they actually receive. Fish-HAVERS are people who buy fish simply as an accessory, or accept the shopkeepers word on everything and won't even do a little constructive research to care for their new fish. IS IT SO HARD TO SPEND TEN MINUTES LOOKING UP THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE FISH YOU'RE AFTER? No, it isn't. Fish-KEEPERS honestly and sincerely just want to show others the true colours of an animal that we take for granted so much, and treat so unfairly. Fish-KEEPERS enjoy any fish, and often strive (and spend copious amounts of money) to add plants and decor that match a certain fishes habitat to the best of their ability, simply for the comfort of the fish. Even fish-keepers who want to achieve a preferred look with their tank would NEVER set up a tank if the comforts and needs of their fish could not be met.

Are you a fish-HAVER or a fish-KEEPER? If you own a fish in inappropriate settings (a Betta in a vase or tiny 'casket' ) but want to make a difference for your fish, PLEASE sign the petition! We can all make a difference! I will provide useful website links at the bottom of this post if you want to learn more about your fish -- or drop me a line, and I'll try my best to provide you with the information you request.

Whoever took the time out of their day to read this, I cannot thank you enough -- whether you decided to sign the petition or not. Even if just one person reads this, they might think twice the next time they're in a pet shop, whether to look for fish or not. Saving even one Betta from the inevitable doom that THOUSANDS suffer a year is worth it.

The more the word gets spread, the more Bettas will be saved.

© - October 2008

Average life expectancy for tropicl fish, found this on one of my news letters will be a good aid planning to stock a tank do some of the numbers given i would query

The Quest of a Giant Gourami.......

by DJ Ashley



Hello there, My name is Oscar. I am a (very large) Giant Gourami. As you know, Gouramis can't write, so I've had a little help with my article from my new Mum, Ashley.

I'd better have some manners, and tell you a bit about myself. I am a fine silver chap with a big pink face, I may not be handsome, but I've got bundles of character. Giant Gouramis are very interesting fish, and I am no exception! I measure almost 22 inches in length, and around 12 inches in height.

As fishies go, I'm a bit of a whopper! As you can imagine, I eat a fair bit of food. I like the odd bit of veg. including cauliflower and broccoli (it's not that I'm a health freak, I'm just a hungry divil that likes a bit of variety!) I have also tried to eat the two red tailed sharks in my tank, but little blighters are a little bit too quick for me and they keep diving back into their castle. They like to wind me up by peeping out the windows, as they know my mouth is way too big to reach in there.

I decided to enter this competition in the hope that someone out there can help me find a new Aquarium. My last owner couldn't keep me, so my new mum adopted me. I was supposed to come with my last home, which was a grand big tank. It measured five feet by two by two. I was very happy there, and had the place all to myself! Bliss....

Unfortunately, things went a bit pear shaped, and my home dissappeared, leaving me out in the cold. I was sent away to be minded for a while, and ended up stuck in a big blue plastic holding cell with an Alligator fish and a few small Koi. The Alligator fish and I did not get on very well - he kept sticking his pointy nose into my affairs, and I couldn't help bumping him with my big bottom lip. (accidentally on purpose, of course!!) I am a lot bigger than him, and I had to show the old sod who was boss!

As you can imagine, I found it a bit hard to share my space with a flatmate who had a face like a shovel, and I didn't like him one bit. This did not go down too well with those who were minding me, and I was asked politely to leave. Hence the predicament I am now faced with as I keep growing, and I am growing rather fast! (picture a turkey in a canary cage....D'ya get the picture?)

My new Mum loves me, and has tried to make me at home. However, I am a really big chap, and although her Aquarium is a good size, I could do with a bigger one very soon.

I am hoping that by entering this competition, I could introduce myself to you all, and find out if there is anyone out there with a big old tank they no longer need so I could get a bit more living space. It doesn't have to be fancy or furnished, just spacious enough for me to live comfortably. Hopefully, it will be reasonably priced too.

I like to get excited when someone comes into the room, and splash my tail to get attention from my "Human Pets". It would be lovely for me to have the space to show off to my full potential, as I am a real poser at heart.

I think I'm a Really lucky chap and I hope I win a prize, so I can get my huge jaws on some really nice treats from The kind folks at "The Fish Bowl" in Lucan!

Anyhow folks, Ive asked my new Mum to send you a picture of me so you will see what I mean about my being a really, REALLY BIG fellow.  If anyone out there can help me find a larger Aquarium, I would be delighted.

Sending you all a big splashy hug,
Yours truly,
OSCAR, the Giant Gourami, in Wexford.XXX.



© – October 2008

by Karlo

Betta fish, or Siamese fighting fish, as they are also known, are incredibly popular fish in the home, probably because of their vibrant colours and the fact that they are relatively easy to care for. Betta fish have a very aggressive nature, so it is imperative not to house males together unless the tank is large enough that both males can establish territory. Whilst males do not fight to the death in the wild (instead the loser retreats) there is nowhere to retreat in an aquarium, and so the winning fish will continue to attack the other until death. One possible alternative is to use a dual tank with a glass divider - in this way you can have more than one male in your aquarium without having to worry about one attacking the other. Take some time to study the temperament of your males - if they are mild-tempered, it may be possible to keep them together.

Females, however, can be housed together provided that there are more than two - betta fish are hierarchical by nature and so with at least three females, a pecking order can be established (with only two, one fish may simply pick on the other)

Males and females may mate, but as a precaution it is always a good idea to have a separate container in which the female may display, without risking being harmed by the male. If all goes smoothly, the couple may produce up to 1,000 eggs in a single mating session. The male will tend to the eggs and newborns, but after that it is down to you to look after the youngsters.

Be aware that Betta fish may jump! If motivated, their jumps can reach up to 3 inches high. To avoid a belly flop ending, ensure the aquarium is covered securely, and that the water level in the tank is at least 2 inches below the top.

Caring for a Betta Splendens or the Siamese fighting fish is relatively easy. You don't need a large well equipped aquarium that costs hundreds of euro’s. A small bowl or vase will work, but if you can get a small 1-2 gallon aquarium with a filter that will work best. If you do use a bowl or vase make sure it is big enough for your new Betta to swim around without bumping into the side. While the Betta can breathe air from the surface it is important that the opening of your Betta’s bowl is wide enough to allow good oxygenation of the water.

Another point to remember when it comes to caring for your Betta fish is to not over-feed them. They can be fed once or twice a day but only a few pellets of Betta food or flake at a time. They will not eat much at one time and if you feed them to much the remaining food will fall to the bottom and muck up their bowl

The ease of caring for a Betta fish makes it appealing for people who do not have the time or space to care for more high maintenance pets like dogs, cats or even an aquarium full of fish. They can be placed just about anywhere, on a shelf or counter top, in an apartment or home.

If you properly care for your Betta fish they will easily live for 3 to 5 years and provide you with a healthy happy companion that will become more than just a pet.

© – October 2008


by Daragh Owens



The title comes from a remark made by one of the greatest fish breeders in Ireland, I am sure that he thought no more of it or may not even remember saying it, but it hit a chord with me, because he was right. After viewing my fish for the first time he said that I w as more like a stamp collector than a fishkeeper. The reason he was prompted to make such a remark was at that stage I had built up a huge collection of corys, L numbers, livebearers and others as I could never resist acquiring or buying a rare or interesting fish, I had tanks all over the place and although I had a large room dedicated to fish, even that was packed.

The fish room has not changed much since those words were spoken but the change has begun, I am no longer buying fish, I have offloaded hundreds of fish that I was never seriously interested in breeding or were not likely to breed in captivity anyway. I am moving fish around to create more breeding tanks and growing on room and over the next 12 /15 months I don’t expect to buy any fish unless they are something really special. I want to dedicate my time to breeding some of the ones I already have. In a rare quiet moment in work one day, I jotted down for memory all the pairs or breeding groups I had and what’s the smallest tank I could attempt to breed them in, I worked it out to be over 40 breeding projects and 56 feet of tanks. I am not going to attempt all these or even a quarter of them over the next twelve months, but I will concentrate on a few projects at a time and see how things progress.

This monologue is the demented ramblings of a frustrated time shy fishkeeper, it is not a “how to” guide, it is not a manual of any sort, but there are plenty of mistakes I made that maybe you can learn from and you can have a laugh at my expense while you read about some of the daft things I have done in my fishkeeping lives.

The Meat In The Sandwich

I have being involved with fish for over thirty years, I know looking at me that’s hard to believe but it is true. At the age of four I was chief labourer for my brother when he built our first pond in the back garden. It was sited at the end of th e garden where it would get most sun, it was also under the canopy of a huge Sycamore tree. Once the circular hole was dug to about 8 foot wide and 18” deep it was lined with black plastic. A few large granite rocks were added to the centre “for the fish to hide”, hose turned on for a few hours and 5 poor unfortunate goldfish added. daragh2

Early next morning I was first to go and see the new pond and first to find it was empty and the fish were dead. One of the rocks had burst the plastic. A few weeks later we tried again with heavier plastic and no rocks. A few of the hardier fish introduced survived a bit longer, they lasted into Autumn when the leaves started to fill the pond and poison the water.

After a little further research on behalf of my brother a new pond was constructed at the top of the garden in concrete. It was left without fish for about 12 months to leach the nasties out of the cement and another five goldfish were added in 1976. I am trying to find a photo of this pond, no luck so far. Three of those fish survived for many years, Jaws (big male comet) and Tom and Jerry, two regular female goldfish. I fed them ant eggs every morning.

What really got me hooked was spotting some tiny one inch grey fry a couple of years later. All sorts of theories were considered as to what they were or how they got there, including one, even in my young mind, far fetched idea that they were from eggs carried on a ducks feet! Eventually the obvious answer dawned that they were baby goldfish. 17 survived of the first batch, but the parents never successfully spawned again. We did have young from the youngsters several times over the following years. Not many ever survived.

My first tank was a borrowed 2 foot acrylic thing that you could hardly see into, we got a lend of it to treat three goldfish that had been mauled by a cat or a heron. The only remedy ever suggested at that time was salt. To the best of my knowledge two got better and were returned to the pond. The tank was not wanted back by the owner, no surprise, so I started scheming on what I could put in it. After a visit to Uncle Georges on Marlboro Street I settled on fantails and orandas. Later I bought fish from Baumanns because they were next to my school or Dublin Pet Stores in Capel Street. Unfortunately I never made it to the fabled Trop Shop as it was not on a bus route from Ranelagh.

I used undergravel filtration powered by a Rena 301 and how those fish ever survived I will never know. The pump was turned off every night as it was too noisy and the tank was stripped down and washed every month with all the gravel boiled!! The fish were living in a permanent cycle of ammonia. I read somewhere that they would grow faster if I added a heater, which I did and started to feed lots more food, they grew to about 4 inch body size until one day I came home from school to find the heater had stuck on and the fish boiled. That is my most unpleasant fish keeping experience to-date and the reason I buy only quality heaters and throw out Juwel heaters.

I got over this disaster and started again with a two foot glass tank and this time I tried guppies and mollys, unsurprisingly both started to breed at and alarming rate and before long a couple more tanks were added and then a four foot tank.

My first real tropical tank was a five foot tank complete with everything including fish that cost £120 and I arranged a neighbour to collect it as we had no car at the time from Rowlagh Crescent Clondalkin. This tank nearly put me off tropical fish for life, no wonder the owner wanted rid of it. Not all the occupants made the trip alive, not knowing anything about bagging fish, I watched as the owner bagged the fish with little or no air at all. Most of the Tiger barbs and a few others arrived home dead. Unfortunately the rest survived, those that I can remember were the remaining Tiger barbs, two enormous angels and a pair of kribs. There were a few others that I can not recall now, but it was these that gave me the most trouble. The Tiger barbs never stopped fin nipping and chasing the angels and anything else I added. Back then I did not know that if I had bought a few more Tigers to increase the shoal that most of the aggression would have been contained among themselves.

The two angels were always side by side at one end of the tank facing into the back corner, only ever turning around to chase anything that entered their half of the tank. The two kribs hassled everything that came within a foot of them at the other end of the tank and periodically they would become totally psycho and terrorise, chase and even kill one or two of my new additions. No doubt this was down to them protecting eggs or fry, but I had no idea that they were even a pair! One of the angels died and I hoped the other would soon follow, but it lasted for months and months afterwards just becoming more sulky and aggressive than ever. In the meantime while all this was happening in the “show” tank in the sitting room I was busy collecting any livebearers I good get my hands of for the tanks downstairs were I had hundreds of guppies, mollys, swords, platys and God knows what else. The one livebearer I always had on my wish list, but to this day have not got hold of is the four-eyed fish, Anableps anableps. It is probably just as well I did not locate any back then as they are not an easy fish to care for, as I might add a lot of livebearers available now aren’t either. Traditionally the common livebearers are suggested as ideal beginners fish. That may have been true twenty years ago, but now they are so interbred and weak they are quite fussy little beggars and I would not suggest them to anyone as a starter fish, this is particularly true of fancy guppies.

It never occurred to bring any of my excess young to a shop and as the tanks got more and more overcrowded and the need for filters and airpumps exceeded my limited income from cutting grass for the neighbours, I started having wipe outs and massive losses.

One of the kribs and the last angel had finally checked out so I decided to re-stock the 5” with a load of new livebearers. I remember well going into Uncle Georges and coming home with 11 yellow platys and a large albino channel cat. I should have known something was wrong when I could buy that much magnificent looking cat for only £5.95. I was served by the old woman whose name I can’t recall, something like Mrs Leobrokshy, she always looked after me much better than her son. When I got home with the magnificent specimen of catfish the re-action from the rest of the family was not as enthusiastic as I had hoped, my mother described it as a peeled slug! My own enthusiasm was somewhat dampened the next morning when I found only one platy and an even fatter catfish. In no uncertain terms I was instructed to return the cat. When I got back to my “pal” Mrs Leobrokshy, all she said was, “Oh, back again, that’s about 4 times we have sold that fish!” Notwithstanding the loss of the lovely platys that channel cat was the start of my love affair with catfish. I offloaded a load of small tanks through the Southside Express and purchased a 4 x 2 x 2 tank from a guy in Dundalk, this kid was not much older than I was and he had an amazing collection of animals, snakes, reptiles and fish. He appeared to me to be very knowledgeable too, so I decided it was time to get down to the library (not before time) and start reading about keeping fish. Before I left I got a pair of albino Axolotls which I was assured when I got home looked even more ugly than the one night stand albino channel cat.

I would love to know what year it was, definitely early 80’s, but whether is was 81”, 82” or 83” I don’t know. Through Dick, the car park attendant at the Chariot in Ranelagh and quite a character locally, I learned of a monthly fish club meeting upstairs in Crowes in Ballsbridge, so I was off to my first ITFS meeting. Unfortunately the relationship did not last long as there was a trip to Belfast for a show arranged the next Saturday. The ITFS members where organising who was going in which car, but Dick and consequently me were left to travel by bus to Belfast, it was not a very pleasant experience and could be the subject of an entirely separate article. Suffice to say that Dick was not the cleanest person in the world and after a trip around the wrong parts of Belfast, visits to various book shops for him to collect his brown paper parcels of porn mags and getting refused everywhere we went to eat, “we don’t serve paddies here”, I made up my mind that I had enough of the ITFS. After getting lost we realised we were too late to go to the show and headed straight to Grosvenor Tropicals to find the rest of the ITFS members had polished of the sandwiches and bought most of the interesting fish!

Around this time I discovered Ian Morris’ shop “Aquaria” in Dun Laoghaire and for the next few years shopped there, he always had interesting catfish for me and would hold them till I arrived. The 4 x 2 x 2 was entirely stocked with all sorts of cats and very little else, I used to sit for hours watching them come out to feed when the lights went off. I never bought any Corydoras, I thought the were boring and too uncatfish like to bother with! That tank was very successful as I had progressed to a big power filter and stopped stripping the tank and boiling the gravel. Unfortunately the tank burst one evening, but all fish bar one was saved and the tank repaired. The next time I was not so lucky, I have written about this on the ITFS forum before so I will spare the details. It is enough to know I drove a remote control car through the end of the tank, resulting in 100 gallons of water and all the fish landing on the kitchen floor in less than one second. As I recall nothing survived. That was that. I had enough of big tanks or so I was told and for the next 20 odd years I maintained various small tanks, never bigger than 4 foot with a few mongrel tropicals and a few cats.


The Axolotls from Dundalk were kept in a two foot tank with a box air filter. They were filthy creatures and the little air filter could never keep up with them. The water was almost permanently cloudy and cleaning them out was never a pleasant task, until one day I found a load of miniature axolotls swimming around in the murk. This renewed my interest and I invested in my first internal power filter. I grew on the babies and brought them up to Jebi’s in Rathmines. Jebi’s was a tiny shop where you had to ring at the door, only then if the mood took him would Jim Tyrell buzz you in. If you wanted to buy a fish you had to pass a twenty question test and assuming you got past that you got to pay over the odds for whatever you were buying. However I soon learned that Jebi was a gentleman and that he only had the interests of the fish at heart and his fish were always top quality. He took in the axolotls and gave me a few pounds. He was fascinated by them and never sold them. Any time I went back he would show me how well they had grown and how well they looked. A few years after when the shop closed and he had retired I met him in Blackrock and the first thing he asked was if I was still breeding Axolotls. I told him they were sold a long time ago and that now I had four huge terrapins instead. He was not impressed.

The four terrapins were kept in the 5 foot tank which had been doomed as a community tank. I had wanted terrapins since I had first seen the little 50p sized hatchlings that were sold in most of the pet shops, but someone convinced me that they were likely to be riddled with salmonella and dangerous. On that basis I set out trying to find large ones, figuring that if they lived to be good size they would be healthy. I read of two large ones for sale in the centre of London and set off overnight by ferry and train and collected them in a large Tupperware container. I dropped into a shocked aunt and uncle for something to eat and then back to Euston for the return journey that night. It is amazing the things you will do for your pets.


When I arrived home with them, my mother threatened to move out if I let them out of the tank, but she soon found a soft spot for them and that is her in the corner of the photo! A couple of evenings later my brother reads aloud an add in the Evening Press “good home wanted for two large terrapins”. I had spent months looking for them here and now after travelling to the UK, here was two been offered for free! I arranged to collect them from Castleknock and added them to the English pair in the five foot and they got on fine.

Red eared terrapins were not the only thing I brought back from the UK. I was always on the look out for frogs to add to the pond, but as we did not have a car I was rarely anywhere that I could collect spawn or tadpoles. But when on holidays in England with my aunt there were several collection sites nearby so I decided to bring some back. I put 40 little froglets into a very large tablet container and headed home, my aunt was coming to visit my mother and so was travelling with me. I decided not to say anything about the frogs until we were well on the way, to add a bit of fun I acted shocked and horrified and blurted out that I had brought frogs with me in my case and don’t look now but there is one hopping down the carriage of the train. My aunt nearly passed away peacefully and I don’t think she has ever forgiven me.

The frogs settled in around the garden and I regularly came across the same one, I knew it because it was missing the foot on a back leg and I spotted him several times over the next few years. Unfortunately I don’t think there are any around now, the neighbourhood cats have seen to that. Of course now I realise bringing back wild creatures like that from another country and releasing them here was a stupid thing to do, but I was just a kid then and never even contemplated that it might cause harm.

Pond – revisited

Sometime around the mid to late 80’s I wanted to add Koi to the pond, so after reading that they need filtration and deeper water I did a daragh7DIY job on the existing pond. I removed the fish to a bath I found in a skip and started to excavate the bottom. I went down an additional 24 inches, slopping the sides into a gully that ran along the centre at the bottom. I installed a two inch pipe with slips cut into it and connected that to a pump to pull the water though and return by a newly built water fall. I also built up the existing walls so that the edge of the pond was about 15 inches above ground. This extension to the height proved to be a great idea, we never had ice on the pond again and is also much safer for adults under the influence and for kids. daragh6With the deeper water and undergravel filter installed I started adding Koi and a few other coldwater species. The one fish I would never add again was a green tench – try finding one of these when emptying your pond and you will think the grief you had trying to catch a khuli loach in a tank was a walk in the park. The local heron was delighted with the new additions and visited every morning for breakfast. My mother used to hear splashing about 6am every morning and thought it was the fish looking for food! By the time I realised what was actually happening about 20 young Koi were gone.

This version of the pond remained on operation until 1995 when we were doing a lot of work on the house, including a sun room extension that would extend out into some of the space occupied by the pond. The plan was to build a new pond directly under the windows of the sun room with the wall about 24 inches above ground level offering perfect viewing from inside. The builders were from the country and stayed in the house while the work was progressing and every night we went for a few drinks – bad idea. Over a few too many we came up with the great idea of having the pond partially inside the sun room, going out under the windows and continuing outside. While I enthusiastically discussed the possibilities with two of the builders the main man was scratching his head and calling for another round, he was still sober enough to know that this was going to be a nightmare to construct. Work commenced the next day and I excavated the hole with a mini digger, it is so easy to make it just a little bigger and a little deeper when having fun in one of those machines! The technical complexities were resolved and the pond finished with one third indoors and two thirds out. It is about 5 foot deep and over 2000 gallons capacity with a separate filter chamber and water fall. daragh7

I can understand how this arrangement might sound wonderful to the reader, but from personal experience, believe me that it is far from ideal. It is not too bad in the summer when all the fish come in to be fed and are great to look at, until they get spooked and do a lightening speed u-turn and send a few pints of water in all directions. In the winter while the fish rest the internal section is just cold looking with nothing of daragh8any aesthetic value to see. For the last few years the summer project has been to remove the inside portion and block up the hole in the wall, just leaving a pond of about 1400 gallons outside, however as the Koi keep growing the task of providing alternative accommodation and finding the time to start the project while maintaining 40+ tropical tanks this project never gets started. One day.

Another coldwater species I introduced in the late 80’s that I would never recommend is Orfe, whether golden, yellow or blue. They are cute when a couple of inches long and look marvellous as a big shoal, but these little guys grow at great speed. They are extremely easy to spook and spoil Koi’s generally calm character spooking them all the time. Most large Koi can be hand tamed, not when they share their home with psycho Orfe though. Another problem with Orfe that I only experienced once is their desire to jump out of the pond if there is a thunder storm approaching. They have very high oxygen requirements and in low pressudaragh8are weather they leap to their doom. I lost one fish like that over the years, but I know of several keepers that never got their Orfe beyond six inches before leaping to their deaths. The few I have remaining are monsters and are probably about 20 inches now. I only have a few left as I have had to humanely destroy a few due to a hideous condition that they are prone to that twists and contorts their spine until they are twisted like s-hooks and can not swim or feed properly. I have read various explanations of what causes this condition, but there does not seem to be any general consensus, a lack of certain vitamins as developing fry or a virus that affects only Orfe, seem the most likely.

Apart from a couple of young Shubunkins I have not introduced any new pond fish for about ten years. The Shubunkins turned out the be a pair and they have bred several times, the fry keeps the heron happy as the other occupants are too big now to bother with.

Back To The Main Course

So back to tropical fish, nearly four years ago in a moment of weakness I decided to buy a large tank. I wanted a Juwel as previously I had always had plain Clearseal or second-hand tanks, I had never had a cabinet that matched the tank. Anyway, I settled on a Vision 450. The plan was for a community tank with lots of small shoaling fish and plenty of catfish for the bottom. Pretty soon that was overcrowded and I bought a Rio 180. Since I last kept fish the internet had come along and now I could research catfish to my hearts content. I read about rare species of catfish available, like all the L numbers, none of which I had ever heard of in my previous fishkeeping life, I even read about Corydoras and the C numbers with interest. I started looking around for L numbers and corys and pretty soon that meant another tank or two or three. Before I knew where I was I had over forty tanks, mostly in a dedicated fishroom that had previously been deemed to be the internal garage. I had collected about 40 different L numbers and numerous corys. After successfully breeding a few different corys I got really interested in them and added more of them to my shopping list, nearly 60 species of Corydoras later, there are still a few I would break the “no more new fish” rule for.

The bug had well and truly bitten, even worse than the first time. While managing all of these I bred a good few but lacked the space to dedicate tanks to particular species and growing on room was at a premium.

Through the forum I met some great fishkeepers, they introduced me to other fish, like South American cichlids and I was even convinced to give angels another try. So now apart from the cats I have several lots of angel, apistos and other South Americans and also soft water African cichlids, oh and few species of wild type betta too.

As far as I am concerned the most fun from keeping fish is breeding them, it validates that the conditions that you are keeping them in are optimum for their requirements. I also find the parental care some species offer to be fascinating, particularly angels and so when it was suggested that I was just keeping fish or collecting different species it highlighted for me that I really needed to get my act together, get organised and seriously put more effort into breeding. That process is well under way and I look forward to spending more time looking after grow on tanks instead of quarantine tanks.

The one fish I have never kept and still have no interest in keeping is African lake cichlids, maybe if I live long enough they will be my fish of choice in my third fishkeeping life... who knows, I might even consider keeping discus, though I doubt it Smile

All Photos © author except the Axolotl – Andrew Scott

© - October 2008