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freshwater forum


Please send freshwater aquari-umkeeping questions and comments to me c/o FAMA, P.O. Box 6050, Mission Viejo, CA 926906050 (include a SASE for a reply); or e-mail me at [email protected].

against massive 50 percent water changes, which may disturb or stress (via pH fluctuations, etc.) the nitrifying bacteria and slow down their establishment in your tank.

Also, are you performing any gravel cleaning? Again, I would keep this at a minimum, as this will also disturb and/or remove some of the nitrifying bacteria that you are trying to colonize. You didn't state what your nitrate level is. Is it within reasonable levels?

I would suggest the following: 1) conduct minimal water changes and gravel cleaning; 2) use a ^kodbwap' conditioner; 3) look intoipl|ch||||ng a live bacteria culture "starterPlolution; 4) consider uiflg an ammoHa-absorbing media until the akrifying bacteria are established; 5) test your water source for the presence of any nitrogenofiilfccmpounds and 6) make sure you don't use any ammonia-based cleansers (especially aerosols) anywhere near the tank.

ges From History

I came across an interesting book on fishkeeping. Aquarium Highlights by William T. Innes contains reprinted articles from The Aquarium magazine flom 1932 to 1951 (the year the book was published). It contains everything typically foundUn aMssue of FAMA today: correspondence; editor's letters; information on foods, diseases, aquarium setups, plants; and all manner of articles on different fish, their behaviors, specific needs, breeding, etc. All this for only $4, my kind of bargain.

A few things stood out about the book. The idea of biological filtration appeared to be unknown (the nitro gen cycle). It is assumed plants are beneficial because they contribute oxygen to the water (one article does refute this idea and talks about the importance of driving off CO2). Plants also seem to be a standard part of most aquaria. A great emphasis is placed on natural foods. I suppose commercially prepared foods at that time weren't the best.

It occurs to me that in the 1930s, 40s and 50s it was much more common for houses to have high ceilings and a great many windows because air conditioning was uncommon. A lot of windows allowed you to place your tank near them and grow all those plants without the need for artificial light. I imagine that plants were a major contributor to the well being of fish, but not for the reasons assumed. The plants simply absorbed the ammonia directly.

The author of one of the articles, J"Neons by the Wholesale" by Walter ^fcaus) wrote about the "new" neon tetra and how he successfully spawned it. Here areBhji^itals: a 6-gallon bare-bottom aquarium, 7.2 pH, water tempera¡Ulj®jtween 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, some plant material and some barrier on the bottom of the tank through which the eggs fall to prevent them from being eaten by the parents.

Several hundred eggs are dropped and hatch in approximately 24 hours. The fry lie on the bottom of the tank for about two days without moving much. I guess the eggs were separated from the parents before hatching.

The author claimed to have fed the newly hatched fry:"... a very fine infusion of the yellow of egg that has been boiled 20 minutes. As soon as some growth is noticed I give them newly hatched brine shrimp." He also claimed to have raised 2,500 fry from six original breeding pairs.

Does this sound like a plausible way to spawn neon tetras? I have all these empty aquaria sitting around. What would be your suggestions for going about spawning neons in a home aquarium? I have heard and read that this is hard to do.

—John Daeschner

I am not familiar with the Innes book you purchased, but it does sound like you got one heck of a deal. The only Innes publication I have is a copy of his Exotic Aquarium Fishes.

One of the most important criteria to pay close attention to in creating an environment suitable for spawning neon tetras is the water quality. Neon tetras require soft (no more than 3 to 4 degrees^f hardness), acidic (pH 6.5) water for spawning to commence. I would suggest setting up a 5- to 10-gallon tank with dark gravel, lots of plants and subdued lighting. You must maintain excellent water quality, and the water temperature should be around 74 degrees.

I would purchase six to 12 fish and condition them on a variety of flake, frozen and live foods. As these fish mature you can differentiate the sexes by the fact that mature females are larger, rounder and fatter than males. In addition, when a female is ripe, she is broader when viewed from above.

If all goes well, a female will lay from between 60 to 130 eggs on either the gravel and/or plants. I would suggest removing the adults afterward, as they will most likely eat the eggs. The eggs are prone to fungus and are lightsensitive, so keep the tank dimly lit. The eggs will hatch in approximately 24 hours. Feed the newly hatched fry infusoria or some kind of liquifeed while maintaining excellent water quality. As they grow larger they can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp. Some hobbyists will condition and sex the adults in separate tanks and then place a conditioned pair into a clean, bare tank containing potted or weighted bunch plants. U


Jeffrey C. Howe has maintained research and recreational aquariums for more than 30 years. As a professional marine biologist he has worked at the Waikiki Aquarium, Smithsonian Institution and Auburn University. He is currently employed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.


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