Men's Articles

Fishkeeping Fun


So what is it that attracts so many of us to keep fishes? What is so special about those slimy cold-blooded creatures that make us want to fork out hard-earned money for them? Well, aquariums are aesthetic items for the home; properly decorated aquariums with the right mix of fish are indeed a beauty to behold.

In fact, it is living art! It is like a picture frame that holds an ever-changing portrait of Nature. The living colors, the fluid movements, the serenity of the underwater community... Which brings us to another commonly cited reason: fishwatching is relaxing and a good way to wind down. Just as petting a dog will lower a person's blood pressure, the same happens when you fishwatch. Fishwatching is edutainment too.

Your aquarium is a miniature ecosystem from which you can learn about the interrelationships among species of fish and water plants and how these are affected by their environment. In other words, you can get a crash course on aquaculture, horticulture. Microbiology, ecology and the whole works! Finally, aquariums are functional pieces about the house; they can be effective room dividers, corner pieces or stand-alone lamps all at the same time.

Having extolled the wonders of fishkeeping, you may feel the urge to set up an aquarium right away. But before you run out and grab whatever equipment's on offer and plop in a few fishes that meet your momentary fancy, take note that fishkeeping is a hobby PLUS a commitment. Fish are living creatures and you must be willing to care for them. Only when you have sorted out that commitment, should you get started.

Live Fish Food

In the wild, fish feed on insects, insect larvae, worms and shrimps. Bigger fish like arowana also eat small fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Most fish graze on live plants, and very few do not consume at least some algae. Few fish are strictly herbivores or carnivores. They are mostly omnivorous, requiring both animal and vegetable matter in their diets. Like any other organism, fish need an adequate supply of calories to sustain their metabolism and nutrients to keep them growing, breeding and healthy.

As you can choose from many food options for your fish, you should know the types of food preferred by each species of fish you keep, and how to  feed them. Live foods provide good nutritional value and should supplement the diets of carnivorous fish. However, it is important to be sure that the live foods you provide do not pose a health risk. Many live foods, particularly feeder goldfish, are common vectors for diseases. These are some live organisms that are commonly used to supplement the diet of aquarium fish:

Daphnia (Water Fleas)

These are not really fleas, but crustaceans with a very thin shell. They belong to a large group of "jointed limbed" zooplankton called Crustacea, most of which live in water. They are probably called "fleas" because when they move through the water, they appear to hop about like fleas do. They usually measure less than 3mm. 

Water fleas are commonly found in freshwater lakes, ponds and streams, where they form an important part of the food chain. They feed on bacteria and fine detritus, and harvest algae cells that convert the sun's energy into food; they then pass this energy on to the predators that consume them.

Artemia (Brine Shrimp Or Sea Monkeys)

Like Daphnia, brine shrimp belong to the Crustacea group. Brine shrimp prefer water with a salinity of 30-35 ppt and inhabit inland saltwater lakes. They can survive in freshwater for about five hours before they die. These small crustaceans are commonly used as fish feed because they are easily available and easy to culture. The brine shrimp's life cycle begins with the hatching of dormant cysts - encased embryos that are metabolically inactive.

The cysts can remain dormant for many years, as long as they are kept dry and oxygen-free. When the cysts are placed in salt water, they are re-hydrated and resume their development. Artemia cysts are best stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool dry environment, and if possible, kept vacuum-packed. The refrigerator is a good place to keep them.

Daphnia reproduce through a parthenogenetic process, that is, their eggs develop without undergoing fertilisation. Newly hatched brine shrimp or Nauplii are high in fat content as they have yolk sacs, and are thus ideal food for many fish fry, which require higher levels of fat in their diet for growth.

Bloodworms

Bloodworms are actually not worms. They are from the family Chironomidae in the order Diptera, Class Insecta. They are larvae of non-biting midges (small, spotted, two-winged flying insects). Their bodies contain haemoglobin that are red in colour. They were thus given the name "bloodworm". Not all chironomid larvae are red, though; some are greenish or white.

Bloodworms are considered high in nutritional value. Carnivorous fishes, such as Oscars, discus, Siamese fighting fish and most cichlids, will greedily devour them. Chironomid larvae may be grown on materials like manure, so do not feed your fish with live bloodworms unless you are sure of the media on which they were cultured.

 

Copyright 2005 - 2006 Men's Articles. All rights reserved.