Coolings Green & Pleasant
Main Road, Knockholt, Kent TN14 7LJ
Monday to Saturday
and Public Holidays: 09:00 - 16:00
Sunday: 10:00 - 16:00
As a pet shop, we are exempt from the government's ban on shop closures. So we cautiously welcome you if you need any supplies during this time. However, whilst in the shop please observe the rules on social distancing in order to keep yourselves, other people and our team safe and well.
Blog post written by Andy | 16 May 2018 | Category: Tropical fish
There is a fish we keep in the shop which has become incredibly popular recently, so much so that when I order them, customers have already reserved them and picked them up before other people get a chance to even know we keep them.
I'm talking about the Denisonii or torpedo barb Puntius Denisonii.
This is an incredible looking shoaling fish from Southern India and is relatively new to the fish keeping hobby. It is an amazing looking fish that grows to a maximum size of around 6" and has a lifespan of between 6 and 8 years. It has a very streamlined body (hence the name "Torpedo Barb") covered in silver scales with a bright red line starting on the tip of the nose, through the eye and ending midway down the body. Below this is a dark line that runs the length of the fish, the tail develops yellow tips and a bright red dorsal fin.
They are found in shoals in fast flowing rivers and in rocky pools with thick vegetation growing around.
It has been reported recently that this fish has been heavily exported from India and in a bid to re-establish natural numbers, the number of fish exported will be monitored closely. Captive breeding programmes are now being started to help re-establish these fantastic fish.
As they get to a decent size and need to be kept in groups, the bigger the fish tank the better. I would say the minimum would be 3 foot long but with a view to a bigger tank eventually. Good filtration is essential not only for the water quality but also to replicate the water movement found in their natural home. Planting up the back of your aquarium will encourage these fish to stay towards the front and offer hiding places should they become spooked. They do well in a community tank but I have come across a couple of customers who have said one has become aggressive to long finned fish, being a barb this is in their nature so I would always keep them with short finned fish. They do well on a mixed diet of dried foods, frozen bloodworm, brine shrimp and vegetable pellets or wafers. We have found a varied diet brings out the colours of the fish more quickly.
These really are a fantastic looking fish. One customer has a shoal of around 12 in his 5 foot tank with some clown loach going along the bottom, lots of tall Vallis growing along the back with lots pieces of bog stacked around. It’s one of the best aquariums I have ever seen.
If you want a stunning group of show fish for your aquarium with bright colours that gets to a decent size... Jackpot!!
Blog post written by Andy | 10 May 2017 | Category: Tropical fish
Some fish have bad reputations, one of them is the Tiger Barb (Puntius tetrazona).
You might have heard of them - nippy bad tempered fish that will rip any other fish’s tails to pieces. Sound a bit of a nightmare don’t they?
As with all fish, if you keep them with the wrong tank mates you are going to get issues. Barbs as a family can be nippy, but only to long-finned fish such as Bettas or Guppies. As long as you keep the correct tank mates then barbs are an incredibly rewarding family of fish to keep.
They are very active and do much better in a small shoal. I recommend groups of six or more fish. They will chase each other around to establish a pecking order. Because they are really active they thrive better in an aquarium with plenty of swimming space. You should still provide cover with plants or wood as it will make them feel more comfortable knowing they can find refuge if needed and it will make them more inclined to stay out in the open. There are many varieties available but my favourite colour is the green. There are not many green fish available and they make a stunning display fish as these deep green metallic looking fish dart out from behind plants and wood.
They like a varied diet and regular water changes to keep those colours bright and strong.
Strong filtration helps to not only keep the water chemistry in top condition but also creates more flow which these fish love.
They get to around 2½ inches long so are not a small fish and when it comes to tank mates, shorter finned, more robust fish such as other barbs, catfish, cichlids, larger tetras and rasboras should all be fine.
These really are a fantastic fish to keep. A planted aquarium with a decent group of green, gold and standard tiger barbs looks amazing. Just think about those tank mates!
Blog post written by Andy | 08 February 2017 | Category: Tropical fish
If there was a fish that almost everybody wants in a fish tank, it’s a puffer fish. With that distinctive shape, amazing eyes and almost dog-like personality, it is easy to see why.
Unfortunately, due to their size, water requirements and often aggressive streak, it is not possible for people to keep these fascinating fish.
However, there is a very small and unbelievably cute (yes I said cute!) member of this family that makes these fish much more accessible. It’s called the Malabar or Dwarf puffer.
To give you an idea of how small these fish are, they are roughly 1” (2.5cm) long when fully grown and still have some important requirements. They are a very inquisitive fish that can get bored easily so need a tank with lots of plants, caves, wood, anything to provide interest and cover. They need good quality water, so efficient filtration and regular water changes are essential.
They can be kept singly or in a small shoal; a ratio of more females to males will always help dilute aggression. For such a small fish they are still boisterous and can be nippy, so tank mates need to be chosen carefully. Long-finned fish are a no go, and obviously bigger fish. If you keep them well fed you can curb the nipping, so in an ideal world a small species setup would be best.
Meaty foods are important: blood worm and daphnia are great. They also love snails and are often bought to keep problem snails under control.
As with all puffer fish, they develop real personalities and will often recognise their owners when they go near the tank.
A fantastic little fish with bundles of personality and one of the cutest little faces you will ever see... look no further.
Blog post written by Andy | 29 June 2016 | Category: Tropical fish
As many of you know, I keep cichlids at home. I find them fascinating to watch and some of their colours and patterns are as close to marine fish as you can get.
One of the most popular we sell is the Venestus (Nimbochromis Venestus) or Giraffe Cichlid as it is sometimes known. It's a great fish to keep for the larger aquarium.
They start off as yellow juveniles with brown 'splodges' all over their body hence being likened to a giraffe. They keep these markings as they get older but males develop a bright blue metallic looking head which appears to almost glow when they display to females. They do become large, anywhere from 6” to 10” so a decent size aquarium is important.
They are a predatory fish so tank mates must be a good size if you are putting an adult into a set-up. They prefer open sandy areas so unlike Mbuna, don't require as much rock work. You should still provide hiding places but keep areas open. In the wild they are ambush predators and lay partially buried in sand waiting for juvenile fish to come out of their protective caves to investigate then..... GULP!
They enjoy a varied diet and if kept well fed will grow quickly so as with all cichlids powerful filtration and regular water changes are very important. An amazing fish with fantastic colouration that loves swimming in the open.
A real winner!
Blog post written by Andy | 25 May 2016 | Category: Tropical fish
If ever there was a fish whose name would instantly put you off keeping one, surely this is it.
The Malawi eyebiter as it's commonly called is also referred to as Dimidiochromis Compressiceps and is fantastic for the larger African Cichlid aquarium.
It is a large predatory fish that gets to a decent size of up to 12" but more commonly grows to around 8".
A good size aquarium is important as small juveniles, once settled and feeding well, grow rapidly. They are silver juveniles with a dark band running the length of the body. When mature, males will turn an electric blue with red and orange fins and the sight of one of these 'dancing' at a mature female is spectacular.
They are ambush predators and use their narrow profile to glide up to unsuspecting prey items. They prefer a setup with lots of open swimming space. When mixing with other Cichlids I tend to build up one end or the back to allow more cruising space for these fish. Being an open water predator, diet should consist of larger pellets, Krill and Mysis shrimp, and mussel is also enjoyed once the fish is big enough.
With all African species, especially larger ones, good filtration is very important. I often recommend getting a larger filter than the tank requires to keep good water quality and water flow.
Being a predator, they will eat smaller fish so tank mates need to be chosen carefully. One of the most stand out characteristics is the size of this fish's jaw. It is almost a third the length of its body so you would be surprised at the size of fish these can eat.
Now to that name. There have been reports in aquariums of these fish, especially juveniles, attacking the eyes of fish before eating them. It's not a behaviour I have seen first hand, but that many people can't be wrong. I know people that have kept these for years and never had an issue, but it only takes one problem fish to stain its good reputation!
These are a great fish to keep if you have a large aquarium as they are big and colourful and like being out in the open. Just warn those little fish!!
Blog post written by Andy | 19 November 2015 | Category: Tropical fish
Most people like to have fish swimming at all levels in their fish tank. For the bottom it’s almost always a catfish, usually a Coryodoras, or an "algae eater" such as a Plecostomus or Ancistrus.
However there are loads of other options for people who want something different. We have lots of different species of loaches in the shop. The most popular is the Clown Loach with its bold black and orange colouration, but there are many others which offer great alternatives.
We have Zebra Loach, a smaller striped species that swim in small groups and buzz around plants. Red finned Botia, a pale blue fish with bright red fins and tail, a boisterous species which do really well with bigger fish and cichlids (I have 4 at home!). Then there’s "Yo Yo" Loach, an olive green banded species that likes sitting in holes and plants with its head sticking out looking for food. We also have Orange Saddled loach, Zodiac Loach, Pakistani Loach, Coolie Loach - in fact we have Loach everywhere.
They are great bottom feeders that like plenty of places to hide which encourages them to sit out in the open. They love a varied diet but obviously sinking foods is important. They are a very peaceful group of fish with the odd exception and offer a real interest in an aquarium often developing real personalities.
If you have an empty area in the bottom of your aquarium that's missing something different, why not give loaches a try?
Blog post written by Andy | 05 September 2014 | Category: Tropical fish
Sometimes in the shop when I receive the fish list for me to do my order I come across something I have never seen before.... so I order them!
One such fish I came across was the Bentosi Tetra (Hyphessobrycon Bentosi) and it is now one of the most popular fish we stock in the shop.
Being a Tetra it is incredibly peaceful, stays small at about 1.5" and is a fantastic addition to a community tank. They are often confused with another fish called a Rosy Tetra which looks similar when young but I think these are a much better fish.
They are native to the Amazon basin in Peru and Brazil and found amongst tree roots and sunken vegetation in slow moving rivers. They are a gorgeous fish with a pink fading to silver body with bright red fins and tail. However the most stunning feature of this fish is the dorsal fin. Mature males get an amazingly long top fin with a bright white tip which they flash at females to get their attention.
As with all Tetras, a group is important and I would recommend at least 8 with a mixture of males and females to get the best out of them. It's amazing watching the males "dancing" in front of the females raising their "top hat" dorsal fin. I love them so much that I changed our planted show tank around and changed the fish to accommodate a group of them.
All you need is a relatively peaceful aquarium with plenty of plants for them to swim in and out of that would also create some shaded areas. They accept a variety of dried and frozen food but seem to really enjoy live Daphnia which will bring out better colouration.
I really recommend these fish and I know that when you see them in our show tank you will want a small group yourself.
Blog post written by Andy | 15 January 2014 | Category: Tropical fish
As most of you who come into the shop know, the biggest aquarium we have set up is our 450 litre African Cichlid show tank which was filled with a fantastic assortment of large fish.
That was until recently.
Lots of customers have been asking where all of the fish have gone so I thought I would use this post to let everyone know what's happening.
We try to help customers in any way we can in the shop and one thing we do is rehome fish for people. If they outgrow the aquarium or people's circumstances change and they can't keep them anymore, we will do our best to take them in and pass them on to people who will give the fish a good home.
Not all shops offer this service as you can never guarantee the fish coming in are 100 % healthy and you have to trust the customer that they are.
Last month we acquired some fish for rehoming. We took them in and moved the larger ones to our cichlid tank whilst waiting to call certain customers we know who have tanks big enough to take them.
Unfortunately after a day the new fish became very lethargic and patchy in colour. We informed the people that were coming in to take them that we weren't happy with the way the fish looked and to leave them with us for a while. The problem very quickly spread to some of the other fish in our tank and it's then that we knew we had a serious problem. We took all the fish out to treat them and put them in quarantine whilst we treated the aquarium.
Sadly over time we lost around 40% of the original fish as well as all the newly-acquired fish.
We were all very upset as the tank looked amazing and you all seemed to love it as much as we did. I had been looking after some of those fish for several years and being as we are all fish crazy it's never nice to lose any kind of fish.
Unfortunately it seems the fish that were brought in had some type of bacterial problem. The remaining fish made a full recovery and we have since moved them into other aquariums and they are all happy in their new homes.
It just goes to show that even the experts can have problems!
So I have a blank canvas to work from again. I have started stocking the aquarium with more cichlids but I'm sticking to one family of brightly coloured fish which are incredibly interesting to watch. You can see a picture of them below showing that the re-stocked tank is coming along nicely. I would love to know what you think.
I promise the next setup will look just as good if not better than the last one!
Blog post written by Andy | 16 October 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
Not everybody wants an aquarium full of Guppies and Platys, so I try as often as possible to get something different in for people to have a look at. So with that in mind, I have finally found a supplier who can get those fish that are a little unusual and will name a few we have in the shop at the moment.
A great shoaling species with a glowing blue "eyebrow". It's a really peaceful community species that makes a real impact in a tank with dark gravel. (Though quite difficult to take a picture of!)
A beautifully coloured fish that hangs on the surface of the water and occupies an area of the aquarium that rarely has any fish in it. Great in small groups and will get a decent size so not recommended with small fish.
We are slowly building our stock of the more unusual catfish and this is a classic. A stunning algae eating Panaque that almost glows on dark gravel.
You can't help but stare at these catfish as they cruise the aquarium in a mass of stripes and whiskers. They get a decent size so no small fish.
A small shoaling species with striking black and white colours. Peaceful and a mid water swimmer.
Fancy something different to a clown loach? There you go!
Other fish we've got in but not pictured are:
Blue Finned Nothobranchius
If you have a small aquarium and you want a species only or a small stand out fish you can't go much better. The males are one of the most amazing looking fish available. A pair make fantastic fish for a nano aquarium.
Pygmy Corydoras (Habrosus Cory)
Some people ask for small catfish and you cant get much smaller. Really cute sitting in a group of 4 or more.
Yellow Rainbow fish (Melanotaenia Herbertaxelrodii)
A stunning fish when fully mature. They turn from drab looking silver juveniles to bright yellow fish which cruise the middle area of your aquarium. If you love the Boesmani Rainbow then you will love these just as much.
We will happily run through more detailed information on these or any other fish in the shop so feel free to just ask.
We have more and more fish arriving every week so come and have a look for something maybe a little different.
Blog post written by Andy | 05 September 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
Believe it or not some thought does go into where I put all the fish in the shop. The reason being is that some fantastic little fish often get overlooked with so many other big fish all over the place!
One such example is a great little fish for the smaller aquarium or as a large shoal in a community tank: the Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae).
This is one of the smallest fish available for a tropical aquarium growing to a length of about 2.5cm. They are a lovely orange colour deepening to a fiery red with maturity. As with all Tetras they are a shoaling fish so the more you have the better. As they are smaller fish it is relatively important to keep them in larger numbers as the more confident they feel, the nearer the front of the tank they should swim. I tend to recommend at least 8 fish but double that would be better. The striking red colour makes a fantastic contrast to the greens of a heavily planted aquarium.
They are a very robust and peaceful fish so a community tank with other small Tetras and Rasboras is perfect. Bigger fish will look at these fish as a tasty snack so be careful with Angelfish and Gouramis (even really peaceful ones!)
They will accept a variety of foods from dried flake to frozen. I have found that they seem to brighten in colour when fed occasionally on live Daphnia every few weeks. These fish ideally prefer slightly more acidic water but we keep fish that have been bred in more neutral water so you don't have to worry about buffering your aquarium.
These are a really lovely fish to keep and make a great subject for a species only aquarium. I am going to set up a small tank on the counter with a shoal of these because I think they are a seriously overlooked fish so come in and let me know what you think.
Well, back to getting my hands wet - see you in the shop soon.
Blog post written by Andy | 05 September 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
In the past Discus have been classified as either a ‘specialist fish’ or a fish that is for ‘experienced fishkeepers’. It is not a fish that we would recommend for someone who is brand new to the hobby and who has not done their research. However, due to the fact that Discus are now more and more common to the Aquatics trade, by either captive breeding and even people being able to breed them in regular aquaria, Discus are no longer as difficult as they have been in the past. That is not to say that they do not need any special treatment, but what that does mean is that Discus are much more accessible and, in fact, hardier than they were before.
In the past it was expected that Reverse Osmosis water (the base water used in marine aquariums) and additives such as TMC Re-Mineral and Black water additives were used, and that’s still the case when keeping wild or show quality Discus. In the shop over the last 2 months we have been stocking Discus that have been bred in Thames water with the same qualities as ordinary tap water (with the use of Aquasafe). They have been raised eating Bloodworm and even flake food, so no special treatment there.
Creating a Discus biotope/habitat does require certain treatment as Discus aren’t the most confident fish and in the wild they are considered prey by many fish. When considering a tank for Discus the main things to take into account are tank size, filtration and tank mates. The tank should not be too small, as these are a shoaling fish. For a group of 4 (smallest group that we would recommend) the tank should be a minimum of 100 litres. As water quality has to be really good, filtration is extremely important. We would recommend an external filter like the Eheim range but the larger internal filters such as large Juwel Bio filters will suffice as long as water is changed religiously. Finally, tank mates are very important. Discus aren’t the fastest feeders nor the toughest fish and they will not thrive in a tank with fast fish like Guppies, Platys, Silver Sharks etc. They are best suited to be kept with large shoals of Tetras. The Discus will see a large shoal of Tetras surviving and feel that they can also survive in the tank and be more outgoing and confident.
As for decorating the tank there are two main ways: a planted aquarium or an Amazon-esque biotope. Either will be fine but in the wild Discus live in an Amazonian biotope, which would have a sand base, low lighting some tall plants and large pieces of driftwood.
As previously stated, gone are the days of having to be looking after Discus by doing water changes every day and using R.O. water. Discus still need optimum water quality but this can be achieved by doing a weekly water change of at least 25%. Following these tips makes Discus keeping easier and fun. Any other questions please ask in the shop, as we’ll give advice on creating an effective Discus biotope and answer all your questions. If you want an update on which Discus we have in the shop or would like pictures, please head over to the Weald Aquatics Facebook page where we frequently answer questions and post pictures of new stock.
Blog post written by Andy | 14 August 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
I haven't written a blog on cichlids for a while so I thought it was about time as we have a few really nice species that are now readily available. One in particular is an absolute stunner and can definitely live up to the tag of a poor man's marine fish. It's called the Demasoni Cichlid.
We have loads of people asking about the different types of cichlid we keep in the shop, but most of the time it's people asking about this particular one.
It's a gorgeous looking fish with a brilliant metallic blue body covered with black bars. It has thick black edges to its fins and what appears to be a black mask across its face. Another appeal of this fish is that both males and females are equally colourful.
It's a dwarf Mbuna from lake Malawi, reaching a length of between 3 and 5 inches so is a great candidate for the smaller cichlid set-up.
You'll need to provide lots of caves and hiding spaces. Large piles of white ocean rock not only provide adequate hiding places but also create a stunning contrast to the bright colours of this fish.
For its size, this has got to be one of the most aggressive cichlids out there and I have watched one chase another cichlid six times its size away from his cave! This being the case, it's always recommended to keep these either in a large group or as a single individual in an aquarium (but be careful with similar coloured fish). In the wild they are found in large groups where any aggression is diluted down and fish being picked on get almost 'lost in the crowd'. If you wanted to keep a group, I would recommend at least 10. Some people say a minimum of 12 individuals to keep everyone safe.
As with all Mbuna, a high vegetable content diet is important and as algae appears on your rocks you will often see these fish ripping off pieces greedily. Water changes are important as with all cichlids so your weekly 20-30% should be stuck to if possible.
This is without doubt one of the most attractive and interesting cichlids available. One of the best set-ups I have seen consisted of white sand, piles of white ocean rock, and about 14 Demasoni cichlids..... stunning!!
Blog post written by Andy | 03 July 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
The Clown Loach... It's Gary's favourite Fish!
If there was a favourite bottom feeding fish in the hobby of fish keeping, this would be the outright winner.
The Clown Loach (Chromobotia Macracanthus) is a fresh water fish found in the inland waters in Indonesia on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
This is in my opinion not just the best looking loach available, but I think one of the best looking fish you can get for a tropical aquarium. They usually have a light orange body with black bars across it. When the fish matures the body colour deepens to a sandy orange and the fins and tail become an orange / red colour.
These fish are often sold relatively small, usually 2", but given a big enough tank can reach lengths of almost 12" with reports of bigger in many places.
One of the most important things when keeping Clown Loaches is that they like their own company and should be kept in as large a group as you can. We tend to recommend at least three but you really should add to the group over time and in my opinion you should try and keep at least six. As I said, they can become a big fish but it does take time. We have a group in our show tank and a couple we have rescued from customers' aquariums with reported ages of 12 and 14 years old!
They prefer a smoother substrate with sand being ideal. Provide plenty of hiding places - rocks and caves or piles of bogwood are great retreats for groups of Clown Loach. You can often see orange heads or tails sticking out of ornaments when people show us pictures of their home aquarium.
Plenty of robust plants to provide shade or subdued lighting would also suit these fish as they are somewhat nocturnal but often acclimatise well to normal aquarium lighting provided you give them places to hide.
Clown Loach love a varied diet consisting of frozen food (especially blood worm) and vegetable matter like algae wafers, cucumber and blanched peas. A fat Clown Loach is a happy Clown Loach but be careful not to over feed as they will eat as much as you can throw at them!
They require good quality water, well-filtered with a decent water flow so regular water changes are important.
We have a great group of eight adult Clown Loach swimming around our big show tank; one look and you can see why they are such a popular fish. I think if it was up to Gary that's all we would have in there!
Well, back to some aquarium cleaning.
Blog post written by Andy | 06 June 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
I always say it's a healthy fish tank when fish breed in it, so its always nice when we have fish breeding in the shop.
We now have a tank of baby African cichlids (Marble Aulonocara, Orange Pseudotropheus and Blue Pseudotropheus) born in the shop.
The fascinating thing about these fish is that they are mouth brooders. The female holds the fertilised eggs in her mouth where they develop into baby fish in the safety off their mother's mouth.
In this state the females can become thin as they don't feed and are then susceptible to being picked on. By gently removing the fry we allow the females time to recover and regain their strength before going back into the main aquarium.
So we now have a tank full of tiny fish swimming around - see our picture below or, better still, come down and have a look!
Blog post written by Andy | 08 June 2012 | Category: Tropical fish
I hope everyone enjoyed the extended Bank holiday weekend (all of you out there who were working as well - I salute you comrades!) and made the most of what little sunny weather we had.
As the weather has been pretty rubbish and people haven't been out and about much, we are finding more and more customers playing around with their fish tanks and a big thank you to everyone who has brought us in a photograph to stick on our wall, but there is still loads of room so please feel free to bring one in if you haven't!
I thought for this month I would give you a break from Cichlids and talk to you about a really great but sometimes overlooked fish, the Rummy nose Tetra.
The Rummy nose Tetra (Hemmigrammus rhodostomus) is a member of the Characin family and native to South America. It is one of several very similar looking fish available in the hobby (Hemmigrammus bleheri and Petitella georgiea) but this is the one most commonly found for sale.
The Rummy nose Tetra is a fantastic looking fish that generally reaches about 2". They have a silver body with a hint of green running through when they become mature. They have almost translucent fins and an amazing looking tail consisting of several black and white horizontal stripes. The main area of colour, as the name suggests, is on the head and running just past the gill covers, and is a bright, rich red colour.
Rummy nose Tetra are a typical shoaling fish which need to be in as large a group as possible. We tend to recommend at the very least 4 but a shoal of 6-12 fish will be much happier. They will also give a much greater impact visually as they shoal really tightly at times and a large group of "bright red heads" looks amazing.
They are not a very demanding fish to keep as long as water quality is maintained regularly and they are not mixed with boisterous tank mates. They are a very peaceful fish so ideal for a mixed community aquarium with a Ph of around 6.4 to 7 ideally.
They like a large amount of swimming space so a fish tank of around 100 litres or bigger is preferred. Some areas of dense vegetation such as cabomba or ambullia towards the back of the tank will make these fish feel secure and encourage them to swim out in the open.
Feeding is not really a problem and these fish will accept a variety of dried food but, as with all fish, they will benefit from a change in diet from time to time. The addition of live or frozen food twice a week will keep these fish in perfect condition and keep that red colour bright.
They are a relatively long-lived fish with an average age of between 4-6 years but on occasion they have reached 8 or 9.
Rummy nose Tetra are a great fish to keep - undemanding, colourful and very peaceful. They pretty much tick all of your fish boxes and I recommend them highly!
If you have any questions on anything "fishy" please don't hesitate to contact us through our website or pop into the shop and we'll do our best to help!
See you soon!!
Blog post written by Andy | 04 April 2012 | Category: Tropical fish
Hey everybody. It's been great receiving all your positive feedback regarding my last post and it's great seeing so many people interested in keeping Cichlids. I didn't realise how many people kept them already so it's been really interesting hearing peoples' experiences and advice on keeping this fascinating group of fish.
I thought I would start with possibly one of the most popular of all Cichlids... the Oscar!
I would probably say 7 or 8 out of 10 customers will always ask "I would like that big red and black fish down there please. Oh will it go in with my Guppies?" The answer unfortunately is no! They are such a popular fish that we will ask anybody who enquires about them what they are planning to keep with them, and for good reason - Oscars get big and eat fish!!
The Oscar (Astronotus Ocellatus) is a Cichlid native to South America. It is found in Peru, Ecuador, Columbia and Brazil and occurs in the Amazon river basin. Its preferred habitat is slow moving white water with vegetation it can hide in.
Oscars now come in a variety of colours from black and red to pink albinos, red tiger stripes on a black body or a rich copper colour surrounded by dark black fins. They are stunning looking fish with those big eyes and mouths (with almost a slight grin to it).
An adult Oscar can reach a length of 18" and weigh almost 4lbs wherein lies its biggest attraction but also its biggest downfall. An Oscar will outgrow the majority of peoples' fish tanks and can only be kept with large sturdy fish. I usually describe Oscars as mouths with a tail on the end!
Oscars are voracious feeders and will try to eat almost anything they can fit in their mouths. We have had hundreds of horror stories of customers who have bought these fish elsewhere and not been told of their predatory nature, putting them in a community aquarium only to watch their favourite Guppies and Tetras vanish one by one as the Oscars tummy gets bigger and bigger! They do well on a mixed diet of frozen foods and Cichlid pellets but will eat almost anything. Some customers feed adult Oscars frozen mice! Due to their size and diet, an Oscar's home needs to be as big as possible with really good filtration. I think a 3 foot aquarium is the very minimum for a juvenile with the adult moving into ideally a 4 foot tank or bigger. An external filter again in my opinion is essential because Oscars are a messy fish. Regular water changes are important to remove excess nitrates and prevent the build up of problem pollutants that can occur with such a greedy fish. Large Catfish or similar sized Barbs or Cichlids are suitable tank mates but I think they do better in a single species tank.
Oscars like to dig so using larger cobbles or gravel can help prevent this. An Oscar tank can be fairly minimal and decoration with some large rocks (rounded preferably and too heavy to move) or large roots to provide shelter is really all they need as swimming space is more important. Lighting again is not that important but a more subtle light would suit them better. It's is also worth mentioning that heaters have been picked up and broken by an adult Oscar so getting a heater guard is a good idea (most come with them nowadays anyway) to avoid any injuries or the outlay for a new heater.
These fish can live for years and years and develop real personalities - I think an Oscar is the closest you can come to a fish that actually recognises its owner. Customers tell me about hand feeding them and calling their name and having the fish swim towards them. One customer has a 12 year old Oscar that curls around his hand and almost "falls asleep" when he puts his hand in to clean the aquarium! It was in fact an Oscar that got me on my road to fish keeping. My mum (hi mum!) used to take me to my local pet shop when I was tiny, she said I used to sit and watch completely silently as the owner fed the "big fish" in the show tank which would come to the top as he called its name. From then on my mum said I wanted to become a "fish man." My first Saturday job was in that fish section and the rest is history!
Oscars are really fascinating and rewarding fish to keep as long as you have the room and equipment to keep them healthy. It's worth it though because an adult Oscar in a big tank is the focal point of any room! If you want to keep big fish, you really cant go wrong!
Blog post written by Andy | 01 March 2012 | Category: Tropical fish
Hey again everybody. I know its been a while but we have been busy... honest!
It's been great seeing how popular our new banks of aquariums have been and I have been busily stocking them to the point of bursting.
In my last post I mentioned how we were expanding our range of tetras and more relevant for this post and me personally...Cichlids!
We keep a wide range of Cichlids in store, from the peaceful dwarf species such as Rams and Apistogrammas, to large central and Southern American species like Oscars, Firemouths and Acaras.
You can see just a few of them in the video below.
We also now have a dedicated bank of Rift Valley cichlids (which I keep at home as well but I will bore you with that another time).
Cichlids are a great family of fish with real personalities. Most are incredibly long lived and resistant to illness, many will also tolerate various and fluctuating water quality (that's no excuse to let your water changes slide people!).
Cichlids have a reputation of getting big, being aggressive and eating, well, pretty much everything! And yes some of them are all of the above unless you keep them with the right tank mates. However there are some gorgeous dwarf species that are really peaceful and are a great show fish for a community aquarium. Angelfish are another type of cichlid which can often be kept in a mixed aquarium, and although they can be temperamental, they look fantastic when they get bigger.
For those of you who think bigger is better, cichlids are for you! The Oscar is one of the most popular fish I know of and although they can grow to 12" and are basically a mouth with a tail on the end, they're a fascinating fish with all sorts of personalities and quirks. I have several customers who feed their Oscars by hand and one gentleman who says his wife goes to feed the fish only for the Oscar to hide at the back of the tank until she has gone, and will only come out when he feeds it himself. His wife thinks the fish has a crush on her husband!
The African Cichlids are in my opinion as close to marine fish as you can get. A properly stocked and maintained aquarium with these fish in can be absolutely jaw dropping. I have shown several customers pictures of my tank who were intent on giving up the hobby only to have them start again with cichlids... two of them now have bigger tanks than me!!
Over the next few months I will be highlighting many of this diverse family of fish and hopefully encouraging many of you to join me in keeping them.
See you in the shop soon!
Blog post written by Andy | 02 February 2012 | Category: Tropical fish
Well it's that time again!
I hope everyone is enjoying the typical English weather we are having at the moment but what can you do?!
Continuing on our Cichlid road trip we are looking at Central America again and another firm favourite - Thoricthys Meeki or The Firemouth Cichlid.
The Firemouth Cichlid is a really popular fish for a number of reasons, it grows to a reasonable size, looks amazing when mature, is one of the easiest Cichlids to breed and can also be kept with other fish and on some occasions (although I wouldn't recommend it) in a community aquarium.
This Cichlid is native to Central America and occurs in slow moving rivers throughout the Yucatan Peninsular, Mexico then south through Belize and finally Guatemala. They occur in river systems with a pH range of between 6.5-8 and a temperature range of 23-30 Celsius (75-86 Fahrenheit).
They are pretty unattractive juveniles but when they begin to mature they transform into amazing looking fish. They develop a blue sheen to the top of the body with an amazingly vivid red throat spreading towards the back of the body with a main black spot in the centre. I'm really not doing this fish justice and if you have time you should look up some images of mature male fish to see how amazing they look.
The males which display the most colour grow to around 15cm (6 inches) with females staying slightly smaller. These aren't a small fish so require an aquarium as big as possible. I tend to recommend at least 3 foot (100 litres) but bigger is better. If you are planning to keep a pair, when the male becomes mature they often become aggressive towards other tank mates which can occasionally lead to fatalities of the weaker fish. They are egg layers and incredibly protective of their eggs which they lay on flat stones or submerged pieces of wood. The male will defend the eggs and territory vigorously whilst the females tend to be more involved in raising the fry.
These fish enjoy a varied diet with plenty of frozen food to keep them in top condition and keep the red colours intense.
They like a planted aquarium with caves and rocks or scattered pieces of bogwood which they will guard as their own and as with most Cichlids, good efficient filtration is essential as they can be a messy fish. The usual weekly water change applies to keep up with the waste products these big fish produce.
Some people have kept these in community aquariums but I would always recommend keeping these with similar sized or bigger fish because of their boisterous nature.
These fish are not a difficult fish to keep and are really amazing to watch as parents. Cichlids are one of the most paternal types of fish you can keep and are fascinating to watch. With their bright colours, reasonable size and ability to tolerate a wide range of water parameters, the Firemouth Cichlid is a great choice for someone looking at starting down the road of Cichlid keeping and I rate them really highly.
If you ever have any questions or opinions on any subjects I write about or about fish keeping in general then please feel free to email me or post a comment below!
See you soon in store!
Blog post written by Andy | 19 July 2011 | Category: Tropical fish
I had a really great response from people on my last post about the Boesmani Rainbow (thanks for that!). So much so that I thought I would do another one sooner rather than later!
Lots of people have been asking me if there is a rainbow fish which doesn't grow so large and is therefore better suited to the smaller aquarium...and wouldn't you know it, there is!
The Neon Blue Rainbow or Neon Dwarf Rainbow (Melanotaenia Praecox) is a great rainbow fish and as the name suggests it stays small. It originates from Papa New Guinea and Irian Jaya where it is found in the lush jungle streams throughout the area.
They share the typical rainbow fish shape but on a much smaller scale. Adults rarely exceed 2" with females slightly smaller, they have the characteristic arched back, twin dorsal fins and large eyes. The males are a metallic neon blue colour and as they twist and turn in the light they do seem to glow. They have deep red fins and a bright red tail. The females are slightly smaller and do not develop such a deep body, they still have bright reflective blue scales but this time they have bright yellow fins and a golden yellow tail.
As with all rainbow fish they prefer to be kept in a small shoal, I find at least four but the more you have the better. To truly get the best colours and behaviour from these fish it's best to keep them with a few females for them to show off to - try having more females to males if possible. When you have a couple of males "dancing" to get the attention of a female, it's difficult to look at anything else in your fish tank!
They naturally live in densely planted streams so provide plenty of plants to give cover, providing floating plants also replicates their natural environment. Try and provide some areas of open swimming space for them to cruise around as well.
They are omnivorous so benefit from a mixture of prepared and frozen food, giving them live food regularly also keeps them in top condition and keeps their colours strong.
The rivers they are found in have quite strong currents so a good filter or air pump to keep the water moving and well oxygenated also helps them feel at home. They are not a demanding fish so a regular water change of between 20-25% should be ample to keep the water quality up and these fish happy. Try keeping them with similar sized tank mates, too many large fish may intimidate this smaller species and cause them to lurk in plants and hide at the back of the aquarium. It's great them looking good in our shop but if they hide in your aquarium you will be disappointed! The Praecox Rainbow is a beautiful little fish that if kept happy makes a fantastic show fish for the smaller aquarium and one I happily recommend.
Blog post written by Andy | 15 June 2011 | Category: Tropical fish
Almost everybody who keeps a fish tank is generally after the same thing....bright and colourful fish! Most people are drawn to Guppies, Platys and Tetras, not that this is a bad thing as you can get some amazing colours from all three of those fish. However there are several families of fish which are constantly overlooked as the fish we sell can look grey or brown or a deep copper colour - "Not very inspiring!" I hear you say. One family really does suffer from the classic "Ugly duckling syndrome." They are called Rainbow fish...and for good reason! Over the next few weeks I will be writing about the various types of Rainbow fish we keep in the shop and how to keep them successfully. Some of these fish given time to mature look absolutely amazing and are well worth waiting for.
I thought I would start with my favourite Rainbow fish and anyone who has seen any of the display aquariums I have ever done would have seen them! In my opinion this fish has one of the brightest adult forms, gets to a decent but manageable size and is one of the most peaceful of all the family.
The Boesemani Rainbow is found in Asia, more specifically in Irian Jaya (Indonesia) in clear, densely vegetated lakes. These fish are the typical Rainbow shape, long deep bodied fish with an arched back. They have large eyes on a narrow head with two obvious dorsal fins. These fish will reach an adult length of around 5" with the females slightly smaller at 4.5" but are usually sold much smaller, therefore younger and here lies the problem!
When these fish are young they have a lighter olive or silvery colour...nothing to write home about and the main reason they are overlooked. However once they start to grow and hit around 2.5" to 3" the magic happens!! Males will develop a bright yellow or orange back half of the body which fades to a blue or indigo front half. Where the two sections meet in the middle there are some vertical green or olive stripes and the tail and fins are clear to opaque with bright white edges. The females are similar but the colours are not as intense, often with slightly more silver and yellow on the body, but is still a wonderful looking fish!
They are a natural shoaling fish and do much better in mixed groups of at least 4 or more. By having females in the group it not only dilutes any aggression that may surface between males but more importantly causes the males to show off and display and you get the very best colours.
They like a decently planted aquarium with plenty of swimming space to cruise around in and are usually found in the middle or near the top of the aquarium. Ideally you need at least a 30" tank but the bigger the better and having it reasonably well planted will also create some shaded areas which these fish also like. The best thing about the Boesemani Rainbow is the fact that they are not a difficult fish to keep, as long as the water is kept clean and healthy (but this is the same for all your fish!) so the good old weekly water change of between 15-20% will keep them happy and looking good. They are not fussy feeders and will accept a variety of foods. To help them colour up live or frozen food is good as well as something with vegetable matter in.
I really can't speak highly enough about these fish and given a little time to mature you will come to love them as much as I do!!
Blog post written by Andy | 11 May 2011 | Category: Tropical fish
If you were to ask someone what their favourite fish is for a tropical aquarium or even name a fish for a tropical fish tank, the Cardinal Tetra is usually the fish that springs to mind, and not without good reason! A well planted tank with a shoal of adult Cardinals looks amazing. Any fish tank, be it a large five foot aquarium or a small 30 litre heated bowl, a group of Cardinals will usually be the focal point. However we have found customers who have tried to keep them are either really successful or struggle so I thought I would give a brief summary of one of the most popular fish in the aquatics hobby.
The Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon Axelrodi) is found naturally in South America in the upper Orinoco and Negro rivers. These rivers are naturally more acidic and have a lower mineral content and are often referred to as "black water rivers". This water chemistry is almost the polar opposite to the water chemistry found in the majority of people's mains water and possibly where people run into problems.
Some aquarium shops stock wild caught specimens and there is a huge industry based around the farming of these fish within the Amazon basin. Thousands of people are employed to catch and farm these fish in a sustainable environment, contributing to the economy. However these fish are not used to the water chemistry we have here and the change can cause problems.
We stock Cardinals that have been raised in harder more alkaline water which should minimise any problems with acclimatisation. To help Cardinals adjust even more you can gradually add some of your aquarium water to the bag as they are floating in your tank. A small amount every 10 minutes over a 30 minute period is enough. Ideally they would be kept in softer more acidic water (you can buy various buffers and additives to achieve this) and if you wanted to breed them this is essential as Cardinals are very difficult to breed in the home aquarium as their natural habitat needs to be mimicked really closely.
There is also a debate as to whether Cardinals are a suitable fish for a newly set up aquarium. I know a lot of people say they should only be put in a fully mature system, but really any fish would prefer going in a fully cycled aquarium! As long as the aquarium is being stocked slowly, the feeding is done carefully and the water quality monitored (which should be done with any aquarium anyway!), and you make sure the fish are used to hard more alkaline water I think that they can be added relatively early to the stocking period.
Cardinal Tetras are a shoaling fish so the more you have the better - at least 4 but i would recommend 8 or more. They love a well planted tank with tall plants to create shaded areas. Try and avoid bright lighting if possible. They will accept a variety of foods including flakes and small pellets but really benefit from live or frozen daphnia. They are a peaceful community fish and get along with pretty much everything and can have a life span of up to 5 years.
Cardinals really are a stunning fish to keep and will brighten up any aquarium. It's easy to see why they are amongst the top, if not the top fish for a community aquarium.
Blog post written by Andy | 07 April 2011 | Category: Tropical fish
Barbs have got quite a reputation. I would love to say it's all lies but the majority of barbs can be "nippy" and I would never rcommend you keep them with anything delicate or with long flowing fins such as fighting fish, guppies, angelfish etc.
However as with everything there are always exceptions! There are a few select members of the barb family which are a lot less boisterous and generally friendlier to your fish. One such character is the Pentazona or five banded barb Puntius Pentazona. It is a lovely coloured fish with a salmon pink body and deep green stripes. It is also a fish which stays a reasonably small size of around 2". It is a rather shy fish unless you keep them in a small group of 4 or more where it will shoal around the middle and bottom of your aquarium. They prefer a planted aquariums with lots of vegetation to swim around. A shoal of around 8 of these looks great swimming against a green backdrop of plants. Try and avoid brightly lit aquariums as they prefer more subtle lighting or try to create areas of shade using tall or over hanging plants.
They are omnivorous so will accept a range of dried foods such as flake or small pellets and granules, but as with all fish the addition of frozen or live food occasionally will really help them to colour up.
Pentazona barbs are a really easy fish to keep in a community tank and the smaller aquarium and I would recommend them to anyone!
Blog post written by Andy | 09 March 2011 | Category: Tropical fish
I will be using this blog to showcase a lot of the fish I get in store. I will be highlighting any new and unusual fish that become available and offering advice on how to keep them successfully.
One fish that we currently have in stock is the Golden Dojo or Weather Loach (Misgurnus angullicaudatus) and is a great fish for the coldwater aquarium for those who want something a little different! They originate from Asia, Korea, China and Japan. They are a bottom feeding loach with an almost eel like appearance and a cluster of barbel "whiskers" around the mouth. Their bright gold colour make them really stand out against a dark substrate. They are a very peaceful, active fish and perfectly suited to the coldwater community aquarium. They tend to prefer being kept in at least pairs or small groups and seem a lot happier swimming together.
They enjoy a varied diet (as do all fish!) but really need some sort of sinking pellet or frozen food. In the shop I tend to feed them frozen blood worm at least every couple of days and it really keeps them in great condition. They can grow up to 12 inches but they usually stay much smaller as tank size can restrict their growth, a common size is around 6 inches. They love burrowing, often with just their head sticking out of the gravel waiting for their next meal and the finer their gravel or sand the better. They can have a life span of almost 10 years and develop real personalities, I had one customer tell me he used to put his hand in the tank and have his weather loach swim onto his hand and curl up to take a rest! The only note of caution I would say is that they have a knack of getting out of tanks unless you have a tight fitting lid so keep those holes blocked! All in all they are a great and really interesting fish to keep so come and check them out.
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