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Fish Lore Forum Member Spotlight on Armadillo - (Laure-Anne)!
My job being extremely travel-intensive, it took much nagging before my husband finally agreed to let me have pets. "But 'only' fish", he said. HA HAAAA! That was in March 2007, and it started with what seemed like an innocent 10 Gallon tank. It took 1 month and I was totally hit by MTS, and it's been an uncontrollable spiral from there: we're now on 8 and counting, and I spend most of my spare time either on Fishlore, or in fish stores or on the web researching fishie facts. Thankfully, the MTS bit my husband in the butt too.
I'd always been crazy about all animals, from worms to humans. That is why I read Zoology for my BSc (I then saw the light and did 'real' studies, so I joined the evil, sensible ranks of IT army). The whole love of animals thing runs in the family: my dad once got arrested defending a bat against people trying to burn its eyes out with cigarettes (sometimes am ashamed to be human). My uncle has rescued so many animals he's now got a bona fide petting zoo, with swans, goats, ferrets, rabbits, you name it.
I used to keep a lot of fish when I was little, then I moved away and it was never the right time to start again. My parents reminded me the other day that I used to demand a funeral service for each fish that passed away. We'd invite the other kids in the neighbourhood to the 'ceremony'. My dad told me that the worst funeral was that of my common pleco. I clearly remember that fish. I used to love it. I was inconsolable when he died. But there were good times too, like when I used to charge the same neighborhood kids to check out my aquarium!
- 150 Liter / 37 Gallon, long: molly tank: mollies, otos, BN pleco, amano shrimps, and lots of pond and trumpet snails (grrrrr!). Mollies continue to be my absolute favorite fish. They are so brave, and inquisitive, and cuddly - yes, cuddly.
- 72 Liter / 18 Gallon, long: DP tank (my husband's): dwarf puffers, kuhli loaches, fancy pleco, amano shrimps, and lots of dead pond and trumpet snails (the same ones that used to be in my tank, and that I viciously fish out to lead them to certain death). My husband's worried it won't be enough snails for his puffers, the crazy man. Little does he know that, sadly there are ALWAYS enough snails.
- 60 Liter / 15 Gallon, long: neurotic tank: platys, mollys, and corys. One of my male mollies in the molly tank was always victimized and had always had very strange, stereotypical behaviours like swimming up and down on the same spot. He had some severe socialisation problems and was viciously picked on by the healthy mollies, so I felt really sorry for him, and gave him his own tank with 2 female platys and a molly fry growing out for company. He's much happier now. I added a couple of corys in there for good measure, and that started my cory bug (7 species and counting)! Interesting corys in that tank are my black C. aenus and my 6x C. pygmaeus.
- 50 Liter / 12.5 Gallon, tall hex: female betta (dark, salmon-pink with deep purple eyes and double-crowntail rays. The edges of her fins are all lined in black, as if someone had framed a beautiful painting), and some corys.
- 30 Liter / 7.25 Gallon, cut down tall hex: 1 female betta (metallic all over. Dark brown/purple body, and bright blue/red fins, with double crowntail rays. She's got this gorgeous black lining on the edge of her fins, and dark blue eyes). She's extremely aggressive to other fish (she got sold to me as a male she was that aggressive), but a total angel with me.
- 25 Liter / 6.75 Gallon, cube: molly fry grow-out tank, and oto tank. Also, that's where I've put a mysterious fry that I've found in the tank with my female platys and male molly?! That's also the tank where I had oto eggs - wrigglers but, the wrigglers just disappeared after two months. I am still really sad about that. I hope the female will lay eggs again. Because it's such a small tank, I have an algae farm going on the side. I explain about that one later.
- 25 Liter / 6.75 Gallon, cube: 1 female betta (pale pink body, and blue/pink fins. double crowntail rays and gorgeous pale blue eyes). She's only a baby still. I thought she was peaceful with the other fish in the shop, but when I tried to introduce some pygmy corys, all hell broke loose. So now she shares with a zebra snail whom she totally ignores. Sadly, he also totally ignores the vegetables I put out for him.
- 20 Liter / 4 Gallon long, Experiment/hospital tank. That's where I do my experiments with pH, temperature, nitrates, etc. measuring the effect of peat, plants, light, broken shells substrate. When am not doing experiments, that's also my hospital tank.
- 15 Liter / 3.75 Gallon, algae farm. I am growing green algae outside in the garden for my otos. I believe Tim gave me the idea. I put transparent jam jars in the fish bowl outside, and wait a week or so for green algae to start developing on it. Then I remove the cleaned-out jar from the oto tank, and replace it with the fresh algae.
So far, I've kept the following species:
2. Corydoras paleatus (peppered & albino)
3. Corydoras aenus (black)
4. Corydoras loxozonus
5. Corydoras trilineatus
6. Corydoras panda
7. Corydoras sterbai
8. Otocinclus x (still unidentified)
9. Otocinclus affinis
10. Otocinclus otama (zebra otos)
11. Hipancistrus leopardus (fancy pleco - leopard)
12. Hipancistrus ? (BN pleco)
13. Poecilia velifera (mexican 'sailfin' mollies)
14. Poecilia latipinna (sailfin mollies)
15. angel fish
16. neon tetras
17. common plecos
21. dwarf puffers
23. kuhli loaches
24. red-tailed sharks
25. apple snail
26. zebra snails
27. cherry shrimps
28. amano shrimps
In a couple of tanks, I have the filters setup so that the outlet lets out air bubbles from a tube getting its air form outside the tank. That gives more 'natural-looking' bubbles. The fish love it. Of course that's only in tanks with fish that enjoy a bit of current.
I also have a 'current maker'. It's basically a mini-filter pump without the foam pad, and its outlet has a rotating head. I have that one in my bigger tanks to avoid stagnating water.
- Overfeeding - nitrate nightmare. Solution: less feeding, more water testing. Also, rule of thumb = one fish needs the equivalent in food of the volume of one of its eyes, per meal. You can feed twice per day.
- Snail contamination: I got 3 tanks infested with snails because I used the same net for maintenance.
- Substrate layer: in planted tanks, I have really thick layer of substrate so they can be deeply rooted. It doesn't matter so much that you can't disturb the whole depth of the gravel, as the plants will take care of some of the nitrates for you anyway.
- Substrate size: in betta tanks, I have pebbles, or other large-piece substrate. Bettas can - and likely will - swallow anything that fits in their mouths, making themselves very ill in the process
- Substrate colour: I now always mix very dark substrate with whatever I have because it makes the plants/fish colours come out a lot more. Also, bottom-dwelling fish will come out more on darker substrate.
- I ALWAYS double-check after the petstore gives me advice. In 50% of the cases (and am being generous), they're totally wrong.
- Decoration: I've lost a couple of molly fry because they hitched a ride on a decoration that I would put outside of the tank momentarily for maintenance. Now I double- triple- quadruple-check before putting anything out of the tank. I also have less deco than before, instead adding lots of tall and bushy plants for hiding. Decorations are also an ideal spot for a 'nitrate bomb' (air pocket with high concentration of nitrates lays undisturbed under the deco, and can be released at a moment's notice, making your fish ill)
- Garlic gard: I now dip all my fish food in garlic guard. That boosts their immune system, and has various vitamin supplements.
- Food: I try to vary the food as much as I can, so I have lots of different brands at home and I switch constantly. I tend to really really really like Ocean Nutrition stuff.
- Oxygen: in planted tanks, I only switch on the air pump at night, that way the plants get their CO2 during the day. Also, there is such a thing as too much oxygen - can cause the fish to ingest the air bubble, which can be fatal in severe cases. So I no longer have tanks with lots and lots of air stones, but just one, in a corner.
- Act quick: if you think you've spotted a disease, try to be very quick at diagnosing, then treating it. This can make all the difference.
- Food dispensing:
- I have some veggie clips which are soooo handy to hold that yummy piece of cucumber.
- I also feed my fish sinking food in a bowl. That way, no spare food for the snails or pollution. I have very large, transparent bowls for this. Transparent so I can watch them eat, and large so they're not too close to each other (to reduce the chance of fights).
- I feed my bettas worms served at the end of a long stick. Now they see the stick and they know it's worm-time.
My other female betta will come close to my finger for a rub. She likes it when I rub her tail. I try not to do it too much to avoid damaging her slime coat, but it's really cute.
My mollies hand-feeding: My mollies are so trusting and inquisitive, that they come and eat inside my hand, swim between my fingers, and, stupidly, under the end of the vacuum pump so I have to watch them like a hawk when I clean the tank.
My creepy mollies following me around: My mollies are always checking me out. Sometimes, I'll be busy with another tank close by and if I look up, here's the seven of them pushing each other in the tiny corner from which they can see me, fighting for a peek. They're really funny.
My female betta (the dark pink one) playing with my finger: She plays with my finger (chasing it when I put it in the tank) like a cat. She's really quick. To provoke her, I'll move a leaf on her plants. She'll sometimes creeps close, pretending she's not looking, then pounce. True cat behaviour.
My female betta (the dark pink one) sharing her food: I feed my corys sinking pellets in a bowl. When I've fed her worms, she'll check out the bowl and if she's still a bit hungry, she'll peacefully share with the corys. Patiently waiting for her turn and not an ounce of aggression towards them.
My otos sucking my finger: Some of my otos are so aloof, that when I force them to leave their current resting place, like the empty food bowl or an old cucumber needing replacing, they'll just switch and suck on my finger instead. Thankfully, they don't do that to other fish.
The dwarf puffers sucking red worms: They'll patiently wait as I pour the red worms in their food basket, and then swim around it carefully until they've found a good 'candidate'. Then they'll bite through the basket's tiny holes, and suck a worm out of it. They'll then suck it out and back in, like naughty kids and spaghetti, and release a cloud of red smoke from their gills. It's really cool to watch.
The kuhlis 'cuddling': I love watching that. Our kuhli loaches just kind of pile up on top of each other and rest there, their bodies intertwined (noooo, they're not mating)
The corys schooling: I love to watch my corys school, especially when it's different species. I love watching the pygmy ones, in particular, school with the huge (well, relatively) peppered corys.
- I'd love a discus tank
- I'd love a goldfish tank
- I'd love another million betta tanks
- I'd love to start invading upstairs in the house with tanks
- I'd love to have my own fish store, and that it makes profit with my over-sympathetic policies.
- I'd love a castle and a million dollars in the bank so I can take care of all these fish, so for now, I'll stick to what I have (famous last words) so each tank gets the attention it deserves.
- My husband is planning on a figure-8 puffer tank.
- I am more and more getting into live plants, and that's really working out so far.
And of course, my ever-so-patient husband who has taken the fish obsession with so much grace.
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