What Insects Do Fish Eat? A Quick Guide for Anglers and Nature Lovers

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Fish play a crucial role in aquatic ecosystems, and a significant aspect of their diet consists of insects. Insects present in rivers and streams contribute to nutrient cycles and energy flow that ultimately support fish populations. The availability of these insect prey items can greatly influence the growth, abundance, and health of fish communities.

Aquatic insects, such as mayflies, are common items in the diet of many fish species. These insects often share the same habitat with fish, providing a readily accessible food source. In addition to mayflies, other aquatic insects include stoneflies, caddisflies, and dragonflies, all of which can be important for sustaining diverse fish populations.

As insects progress through their life stages, they can be consumed in different forms by fish. For instance, larval and adult forms of aquatic insects provide different types of nutrition, promoting a balanced diet for the fish. In turn, this allows fish to grow and maintain healthy populations in these aquatic ecosystems.

Types of Insects Fish Eat

Aquatic Insects

Fish consume a variety of aquatic insects. Some common examples include:

  • Mayflies
  • Caddisflies
  • Stoneflies
  • Midges

Mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies are attracted to moving water, making them ideal prey for fish such as trout and salmon. The larvae of these insects typically live under rocks or among vegetation in the water. Midges, on the other hand, prefer stagnant water and are often found in lakes and ponds.

Terrestrial Insects

Fish also eat terrestrial insects that fall into the water or live near the surface. These include:

  • Grasshoppers
  • Beetles
  • Crickets
  • Ants

For example, grasshoppers and beetles may accidentally fall into the water while feeding on nearby plants, providing an easy meal for fish. Similarly, ants can be carried into the water by the current, attracting fish that are searching for a quick snack.

Insects Aquatic Habitat Terrestrial Habitat
Mayflies Yes No
Caddisflies Yes No
Stoneflies Yes No
Midges Yes No
Grasshoppers No Yes
Beetles No Yes
Crickets No Yes
Ants No Yes

In conclusion, fish have diverse diets that include various types of insects, both aquatic and terrestrial. By understanding the habitats and behaviors of these insects, anglers can improve their fishing success and better appreciate the intricate ecosystems within which they operate.

Fish Feeding Habits and Strategies

Selective Feeding

Fish exhibit various feeding habits depending on their preferred prey. Some fish are selective feeders, targeting specific types of insects, such as:

  • Ephemeroptera: Commonly called mayflies, they’re present in both subimago and adult forms
  • Trichoptera: Known as caddisflies, they provide an abundant food source for fish
  • Diptera: Includes various flies like midges and mosquitoes, often mimicked by anglers using dry flies
  • Plecoptera: Stoneflies are mainly characterized by their nymph stage

Selective feeders have unique adaptations, such as specialized mouth parts, to efficiently consume their prey of choice.

Matching the Hatch

A key strategy employed by many fish is “matching the hatch.” This refers to fish feeding on insects that are currently hatching or emerging in large numbers within their habitat. By following the hatch, fish can easily locate and feed on abundant and easy-to-catch prey.

For example, fish may consume ephemeroptera during the peak of a mayfly hatch, while at other times, they’ll focus on trichoptera or diptera. To imitate the insects that fish are feeding on, anglers often use dry flies that resemble the specific insects found in a hatch.

Insects Type Example
Ephemeroptera Mayflies Subimago and adult
Trichoptera Caddisflies Larvae and adult
Diptera Various flies Midge, mosquito
Plecoptera Stoneflies Nymph

A variety of factors can influence a hatch, including water temperature and disturbances to the aquatic environment. Anglers must be observant and adaptable in order to match the hatch effectively and improve their chances of catching fish.

Insect Life Cycles

Underwater Life Stages

In aquatic environments, insects like mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies are commonly found. They go through various life stages: egg, nymph (or larva), and adult. Nymphs are the underwater stage and play a crucial role in river and stream ecosystems. For example, a mosquito has a life cycle of two weeks, while some hellgrammites take 4 or 5 years to complete one life cycle.

Emerging Adults

During the process of metamorphosis, aquatic insects transform into their adult form, known as emerging adults. These insects leave the water and look for places to rest and dry their wings. Mayflies, for instance, develop into a winged stage called “duns.”

Characteristics of Emerging Adults:

  • Winged stage
  • Leave the water to dry and rest
  • Undergo further molting

Flying Insects

Once emerging adults have fully molted, they transition into their final adult stage, typically referred to as “spinners.” These adult flying insects are then able to reproduce, and the life cycle continues. They play a vital role in transferring nutrients in ecosystems, such as rivers and streams.

Comparison Table:

Underwater Life Stages Emerging Adults Flying Insects
Egg, nymph (or larva) Winged stage Final adult stage, able to reproduce
Found in rivers and streams Leave water to dry and rest Transfer nutrients in ecosystems
Examples: mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies Examples: duns Examples: spinners

Importance of Insects in Fish Diet

Nutritional Benefits

Insects provide a highly nutritional food source for fish. They are packed with essential nutrients, including:

  • Protein: Insects are great sources of protein, which is vital for fish growth and development.
  • Fats: Healthy fats are important contributors to the overall energy needs of fish.
  • Vitamins & Minerals: Insects offer various micronutrients necessary for fish health.

Some commonly consumed insects by fish are aquatic insects, black soldier flies, and yellow mealworms.

Influence on Fish Population

Insects directly impact the fish population by serving as prey to various fish species, such as:

  • Small fish: These species rely on insects as their primary food source.
  • Large predators: Bigger fish like trout often consume smaller fish that feed on insects.

Moreover, a sustainable and abundant insect population plays a role in maintaining balanced aquatic ecosystems.

Here’s a comparison of insects’ nutritional content relevant to fish:

Nutrient Aquatic Insects Black Soldier Flies Yellow Mealworms
Protein (%) 50-60 42-52 45-54
Fats (%) 7-24 29-40 27-39
Vitamins High High High
Minerals High High High

Pros of insects as a food source for fish:

  • Nutrient-dense food source for optimal growth and development
  • Sustainable option, contributing to the circular economy

Cons of insects as a food source for fish:

  • May require specialized farming methods for large-scale production
  • Limited availability in certain regions

In summary, insects provide significant nutritional benefits and influence in fish population. They are essential for the health and growth of various fish species and contribute to maintaining a balanced aquatic ecosystem.

Insects in Aquaculture and Pet Fish Diets

Insects are increasingly utilized as a sustainable and healthy alternative to traditional sources of protein in fish feed. Aquaculture species such as shrimp, salmon, and trout benefit from insect-based diets.

Some common insects used in fish diets include:

  • Black soldier fly larvae (Hermetia illucens)
  • Yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor)
  • Common house cricket (Acheta domesticus)

Feeding live food or dead insects can provide essential nutrients for fish, making them an ideal option for both freshwater and pet fish. A popular choice for pets like goldfish is live food, including zooplankton and leeches.

Insect-based diets provide a range of nutritional benefits, such as:

  • High protein content
  • Essential amino acids
  • Healthy fats
  • Minerals and vitamins
Insect Type Protein Content (%) Fat Content (%) Mineral Content (e.g. calcium, magnesium) (%)
Black soldier fly 42-63 29-40 5-8
Yellow mealworm 47-60 32-37 2-3
Common house cricket 61-70 13-20 2-3

Pros of using insects in fish diets:

  • Sustainable protein source
  • High nutritional value
  • Reduced reliance on fishmeal

Cons of using insects in fish diets:

  • Insects may contain potential food safety hazards
  • Limited consumer acceptance for edible aquatic insects

In conclusion, insect-based diets offer numerous benefits for both aquaculture and pet fish nutrition. With a focus on sustainability and health, these protein sources are a promising alternative to traditional fish feed ingredients.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Fly Larvae in Well Water


Subject: identify this worm
Location: Kozhikode, Kerala, India
November 17, 2015 3:48 am
I found this in my well water.. Plz identify this worm
Signature: megha

Fly Larvae
Fly Larvae

Dear Megha,
The best information we can provide is that these are the larvae of a member of the order Diptera which contains the Flies, Gnats and Mosquitoes.  They look like the larval form of some type of Fly.  One of you images also contains what appears to be an aquatic True Bug like a Water Boatman.

Fly Larva and Aquatic True Bug
Fly Larva and Aquatic True Bug


Letter 2 – Unknown Aquarium Creature probably Aquatic Pyralid Moth Caterpillar


Insect larvae ? aquatic.
January 16, 2010
This “being” is attached to my aquarium glass wall. It flows with the movement of the water circulation with one end attached to the glass. It looks at first glance like a grub. A teeny grub. It is at most 1/4 inch. The attached end is a dark brown and the far end has a small dark area. The body is a light color and seems (accordion shaped) slightly extend-able like a caterpillar or grub. It is somewhat bristly…to catch food?
Could this be a crane fly larvae? I recently introduced some plants to the aquarium and they may have introduced this animal. It may remain an aquatic being and therefore would not technically be an insect. The water is mostly freshwater with the slightest amount of sea salt.I’m slowly introducing salt to a red claw crab that started life in a pet store’s fresh water tank.
It may not b a bug at all and would not be fall in “What’sThat Bug” jurisdiction.
Fredericksburg Va mostly freshwater aquarium

Unknown Aquarium Creature

addendum to ” Insect larvae aquatic
January 16, 2010
Further notes. BW pics are clearer to read. The unattached area of the “being” seems to periodically expand like a balloon. It is attached with a cord like piece near the bottom of the tank and has no air available.
I’ve become obsessed and am going blind looking through a magnifying glass. I do hope you can give it a name!

Unknown Aquarium Creature

Dear swarner,
We are very intrigued by your creature, though we aren’t certain at this point what it might be.  Creatures that appear in aquaria are a special curiosity for us.  Hopefully, time will provide an identification for this creature.  We strongly recommend that you attach a comment to this posting which will automatically provide a notification if someone else comments down the line.

Karl to the rescue!!!
I am inclined to think that this is the larvae of an aquatic moth, probably a snout moth in the family Pyralidae, which includes most or all lepidoptera with truly aquatic larvae. It is difficult to see much clear detail from either of the photos, but I think I can make out the reduced prolegs with crochets (hooks) in the black and white photo.  Compare this photo to close-ups of the crochets and the terminal abdominal segment of a pyralid larva provided on the ‘Digital Key to Aquatic Insects of North Dakota’ site. The larvae of aquatic Lepidoptera are almost always associated with aquatic plants and can be stem borers, leaf miners or leaf feeders. Regards.

Letter 3 – Angelfish: Boris and Media Luna lay eggs for the third time!!!


Saturday, 23 May 2009, 6:32 AM
By the time we returned from Jane’s retirement party last night, the aquarium lights had timed off. The room lights did reveal that Boris and Media Luna had spawned on the leaf of an Amazon sword plant. At this rate, we may soon be overrun by growing Angelfish fry. The spawn has little chance of survival in the community aquarium. The nursery aquarium is currently empty and when Lefty and his mate’s fry grow large enough, they will be moved to the 50 gallon aquarium, which will hopefully no longer house 99 fry from the first two spawnings. Theoretically, we can move the hatchlings from this latest spawn to the nursery aquarium. As we are leaving town in 1 1/2 weeks, we are debating if we should even try to remove some of this latest spawning when they hatch Sunday or Monday. They can go to the nursery aquarium, but they will be quite young when we flee Los Angeles for humid Ohio. Photos of the new spawning may take a bit of time since the eggs do not face the front of the aquarium.

Update: Saturday 13 June 2009, 9:46 PM
This is not new news, but the aforementioned spawn was not viable and after all the eggs got fungus, they were eaten.  The day before I left for Ohio, Wednesday, 3 June, Boris and Media Luna spawned again.  The eggs still looked good 24 hours later, but as I was gone for a week, I do not know if they hatched and were eaten, or if they were once again infertile or otherwise prone to fungus.

Letter 4 – Aquaria and Angelfish Update


Update: Sunday 26 April 2009, 1:13 AM
Things have been happening with the aquaria, now numbering 3. The fry tank/nursery tank now has about 100 or so fry from two hatchings. The first eggs were laid on Monday 31 March and the second batch on Good Friday, 10 April 2009. The pair of Angelfish have not laid any more eggs since then, or at least I know nothing of spawnings that might have been eaten. The two different batches of fry are cohabitating in the fry nursery. I hope to move the largest fry to the newly set up 50 gallon aquarium.

10 gallon Angelfish Fry nursery tank
10 gallon Angelfish Fry nursery tank

The Fry Nursery has two airstones and I siphon the water from the bottom of the tank every day or two at most. I have been gradually raising the level of the water as I add new water. New water is a combination of tap water with Stress Coat added, bottled spring water, and water from the parent’s tank. The temperature fluctuates between 82 and 84 degrees F. I feed the fry at least twice a day on live baby brine shrimp or frozen baby brine shrimp. I feed them until their pink bellies are bulging. The largest fry are beginning to look like Angelfish. I now feed them live brine shrimp and about two cubes of frozen baby brine shrimp a day. I am also trying to get them acclimated to eating crumbled flake food.

two generations of Angelfish Fry
two generations of Angelfish Fry

I hope to move some of the largest fry on Monday.

26 day old Angelfish
26 day old Angelfish

The 50 gallon aquarium is awaiting the fry. I set it up last Saturday and on Sunday I introduced 4 platies to help cycle the tank. On Friday, 24 April, Dean gave me a new product to try to instant cycle the aquarium. It is called Start Smart and I added all four ounces to the 50 gallon aquarium. I then added 10 Rummy Nosed Tetras that are the most awesome schooling fish. Unlike any other tetras I have ever kept, the Rummy Nosed Tetras stay in a school. I contemplated getting a few more, but this aquarium is specifically for the growing Angelfish, and the school of Rummy Nosed Tetras is strictly set dressing. I also hope to bring my two boarded Angelfish home to this tank. They are growing back their pectoral fins.
Also, yesterday, I caught three of the Platy Fish to return to Tropical Imports. I could not catch the pretty reddish one that was my first pick. It was just too fast and I did not feel like ripping up my plants.

50 Gallon Aquarium
50 Gallon Aquarium

Those are brine shrimp hatcheries on top of the aquarium. My house is cold and keeping the brine shrimp hatching tanks on top of a heated aquarium helps with the temperature. Also, the brine shrimp gather near the light and are easy to eyedrop out.

Update: 27 April 2009
I checked the water today and that product, Start Smart, and alas, the ammonia is up to .25 ppm, which is not bad, but the Nitrites are up to 2.0 to 5.0. That is high. The Nitrites were at .25 the day I got the Rummy Nose Tetras. While at Tropical Imports today, I got 2 more Panda Cory Cats (since 1 died in the 40 gallon community tank) and one Corydoras aeneas. When I realized the Nitrites were high, I only added the C. aneas to the 50 gallon tank, and added the two Panda Cory Cats to the community aquarium instead.

Update: We moved some Fry
4 May 2009
Two relatively significant event have occurred this weekend. Yesterday we moved 12 of the biggest fry to the 50 gallon aquarium. As expected, the Rummy Nose Tetras chased them around, but this morning, there were still 12 dime sized (including fins) fry doing well. We moved an additional fry today bringing the total in the 50 gallon aquarium to 13. This final individual eluded us yesterday when trying to capture the largest fry. They are feeding on live baby brine shrimp, frozen baby brine shrimp, crumbled dry food, chopped frozen blood worms, and pieces of adult frozen brine shrimp. As the fry in the 10 gallon nursery begin to resemble the scalare form, they will be moved.

The second significant event is a bit of an embarrassment. On Saturday, while making a trip to Tropical Imports to buy more brine shrimp eggs, we noticed our Angelfish that have been boarding there laid eggs. Many were white and fungus-riddled, but there seemed to be a significant number of viable eggs. We price a 29 gallon aquarium with stand and got a good deal on an XP2 filter. Sunday morning, we bought the tank after thinking about if overnight. The next morning, the eggs were gone, either eaten or hatched and moved. We couldn’t see the fry anywhere, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still alive. Today, we set up the tank in the corner of the room by the fireplace. We didn’t get a hood, and there are no plants yet. We wish we could buy another large Amazon sword, but we don’t know if there are any left in the store. We may move some of our smaller plants, including propagated baby sword plants. Hopefully next weekend, we can bring the boarded Angelfish home. If they lay viable eggs, they can stay in the aquarium alone. If they don’t lay viable eggs, we will probably move our established pair to the solitary tank and move the boarders to the community aquarium. Interestingly, the fins grew back fully on the second fish we boarded, and only the left pectoral fin grew back on the first Angelfish we boarded out. That prompted Dean to name that fish “Lefty”. There are no new photos since we are having difficulties with the camera.

Update:  We moved 8 more Fry
8 May 2009
The first 13 fry we moved to the 50 gallon tank have grown so much, we moved 8 more tonight.  They are considerably smaller than the first 13, but we tried to pick out the largest individuals in the fry nursery.  There are now 21 fry in the 50 gallon tank that they share with 9 Rummy Nose Tetras, a single Platy and a Cory Cat.  The tetras love the baby brine shrimp we are still feeding to the fry, but the fry are beginning to take larger brine shrimp as well.

We had a few more fish losses in the 40 gallon tank.  We lost a Glowlight Tetra yesterday, and a Panda Cat the day before.  It has been very hot outside and our water temperature is 90º.  The 40 gallon tank now contains a pair of Angelfish, 6 Blue Rams, 6 Blue Emperor Tetras (one of which has a popeye), 8 Cardinal Tetras, 5 Glowlight Tetras (though one looks a fit funny), 4 Black Phantom Tetras and 5 Panda Cats (though we have only counted 4 for the past two days).

Perhaps tomorrow we will bring home our other 2 Angelfish, a possible mated pair, that have been at Tropical Imports for about 6 weeks.

Letter 5 – Aquaria Update: 10 Angelfish Sold, 20 Fry Moved, Hatchlings Removed


The Aquaria Saga Continues
23 June 2009. 3:49 PM
I just returned from Tropical Imports. I sold 10 3 month old Angelfish for $10 store credit. I used the money to buy a larger net (for catching fry from the 29 gallon aquarium) and more brine shrimp eggs. I took a photo of the 10 fledglings before leaving the house. There are now 120 fry in the 50 gallon aquarium.

10 three month old fledgling Angelfish bagged to go to Tropical Imports
10 three month old fledgling Angelfish bagged to go to Tropical Imports

I want to try to move all the fry from the 29 gallon tank into the 50 gallon tank. Lefty’s mate, who I’m thinking of calling Digitalis, seems to be filling with eggs.

Digitalis (left) and Lefty with Fry
Digitalis (left) and Lefty with Fry

The fry seem to be picking at the parents. Lefty has a slime coating that I’ve never noticed before.I captured 20 fry and there only seems to be 4 left in the aquarium with the parents. When I captured 30 fry last week, it seemed there were many more than 24 siblings still with parents. could there be hydra or other predators feeding on the fry? I took some photos to show the relative size before the move.

Lefty with some Fry
Lefty with some Fry

The latest spawn from Boris and Media Luna in the 40 gallon community aquarium hatched and were moved to another leaf. They hatched sometime yesterday. I will try removing some with a turkey baster today. The nursery aquarium is prepared.

25 June 2009, 11:34 AM
I removed fry to a smaller floating plastic container in the nursery aquarium two days ago. Today I removed another turkey baster full, leaving just a few fry with the very protective parents. I also managed to remove three additional youngsters from Lefty’s aquarium. I know there were at least four left two days ago, and yesterday there were still four, but today I could only account for three. Either there is one small fry still hiding, or there may be one or more predators lurking in the plants. Perhaps a dragonfly larva or more was introduced with mosquito larvae. Perhaps something came in on the plants. There is evidence that something has been eating the fry in that aquarium, but no concrete proof. It is odd that I only removed 53 fry to the 50 gallon aquarium, which now contains 143 fry from three spawings from 2 sets of parents.

29 June 2009, 5:43 PM
The fry that were moved into the nursery aquarium are now free swimming and eating newly hatched brine shrimp nauplii.  Meanwhile, Lefty and Digitalis laid eggs and they hatched while I was in Mendocino.  The wrigglers were moved from a leaf on the left to the spotted sword plant, and then back.  I need to buy a new air pump so I can shut off the filter when the fry begin to swim.

Letter 6 – Aquarium Comments


That Fish Bug!
October 14, 2009
Oh, my goodness! I see you’ve been bitten by the fish bug, too! I loved the pics of your aquariums and reading your adventures raising Angelfish. It sounds like you’re learning well and are quickly finding out the addictive power of the phrase, “Just one more tank….” (haha)

A quick note on cycling: once you have _established bacteria colonies_ in your filters, you can quickly cycle new tanks in the house by squeezing some of that filter media into the new tank (before adding fish) and letting the new filter suck it all in. This colonizes your filter media and gets you jump-started so you won’t go through so much of the new cycling headache/heartache.

Also–there is far less need to change filter media than those selling you the media make you think. The important thing is the _bacteria:_ not what it’s growing on. Some rinsing in old tank water to remove detritus is usually all that’s necessary unless/until the media seems to be falling apart.

You’re like me: anxious to fill that new tank with fish! I had to smile.

Also like me–there’s a bit of a tendency to overload the tank. I counted about 34 fish listed in your 40 gallon–not counting fry. With much respect, I offer the counsel that even with live plants, that may be far too many fish…. The rule of thumb is not 1 gallon per fish, but 1 gallon per *body inch* of fish: meaning, don’t count fins, but measuring from nose to the end of the body (beginning of the caudal fin). Most of the Tetras you listed reach about 2″ in length as adults. Adult size should be considered when stocking the tank as well (or…. you can always buy another tank! or trade back in–it sounds like you have a terrific local fish store there).

Also, some fish, like plecos, goldfish, and Oscars, are considered “messy” fish due to their high waste output, and “count” as more than 1 gallon per “fish inch.” An Oscar, for example, rates as taking up 50-75 gallons of “tank space” even though they are 12″ fish.

That said, you sound on top of your game with waterchanges and testing, and fish care in general–and live plants can and do help with the fish load. Frequent waterchanges can also do the trick. But overloading does make the fishkeeping more difficult overall, in case you miss a change or a water test.

I’m raising Betta fish at my house. My first fry are entering a show this weekend, and my second set are a week old–they look a lot like the Angel fry when they begin to be freeswimming, only, much smaller.

I just wanted to share my thumbs-up.
Your tanks are beautiful, and it was fun to read through your adventures!

Thanks for your comments Linda,
WE are actually pretty careful with our tank population.  Right now, the original community aquarium has a pair of Angelfish (Boris and Media Luna) that spawn every few weeks, 6 Rams, 7 Cardinal Tetras, 5 False Emperor Tetras and 4 Black Phantom Tetras.  The grow out 40 gallon aquarium has about 60 angelfish fry, 9 rummy nose tetras, 1 platy and 1 cory cat.  Another 29 gallon aquarium has a pair of Angelfish (Lefty and Digitalis) that spawn less frequently since we let them raise their own fry for about 6 weeks.

I must have read further back (earlier on in the blog) or added fish up incorrectly. My apologies. I think where I was reading and adding was with the first tank during the initial cycling period or right after, possibly.
I can tell you are excellent and caring fishkeepers – and what amazing luck to buy 4 grown Angels and have 2 pair!
Enjoy! Very nice to meet you!!
I just meant that, it is soooooo easy to fall in love and bring them home!
Aren’t they wonderful?!

Letter 7 – Aquarium Drama: Fledgling Angelfish eat Eggs


May 14, 2010
Yesterday, just as I were preparing to leave the house for an important Land Use meeting, I witnessed an horrific scene in the community aquarium.  I had wondered why Boris and Media Luna had not laid any eggs since the introduction of the 8 fledgling adolescent Angelfish into their tank about a month ago.  I thought that perhaps the increase in the species population had upset their reproductive clocks, but I was wrong.  The reason was quickly revealed.
After a partial water change, Media Luna began to lay eggs on the filter intake while Boris chased away the other fish.  Young Angelfish have ravenous appetites, and they will eat twenty times a day if fed that many times.  The fledglings were not being intimidated by the larger mated pair, and with each row of eggs, several youngsters would sneak in and eat the eggs.  The pair had no problems chasing away tetras and rams, but their younger relatives were like a pack of wolves, patiently waiting for a hole in the defense line to swim through before devouring the fresh caviar.  If I want to raise more youngsters, I need to take these 8 beautiful fledglings to Tropical Imports.  At this point, I hope to get a better price (credit toward food) as they are nearing sexual maturity.  Alas, there are no photos to accompany the carnage.

Community Aquarium

May 15, 2010
I moved 10 additional small fry out of the aquarium with Lefty and Digitalis and placed them in the grow out aquarium.  I have now moved 45 small fry and it seems that close to 45 still remain with the parents.  I want to take the 8 adolescents to Tropical Imports today, and I hope to get an exchange rate of $4.00 per fish to apply towards all the food I need.

Boris (right), Media Luna and the Adolescents

Since I took photos to show how large the fry born last August have grown, I can try to catch them and transport them today.

Medea Luna and Adolescents

Letter 8 – Aquarium Mystery: Lefty and Digitalis's fry vanish while we are on holiday


June 27, 2010
Upon my return from visiting mom in Ohio, I learned that neighbor Sandy who fed the fish noticed that all the 3 week old fry being raised by Lefty and Digitalis had vanished.  Though I don’t know for certain, I saw that there were new eggs.  Perhaps the three week old fry went from being children that needed to be defended to a cannibalistic hoard trying to eat the new eggs.  I suspect the fry became a meal for the parents in the interest of defending their new brood.  The eggs hatched about Thursday, June 24, and the parents have moved them several times.  I ran the filter for a few days and changed some water, but I shut the filter off again since a favorite place to place the brood is on the filter intake tube.

Letter 9 – Aquarium Rainbow


Aquarium Rainbow

September 3, 2010
Every afternoon when the late afternoon light comes in through the west door, there is a beautiful rainbow on the wall behind the growout aquarium.  The Rummy Nose Tetras and young Angelfish get very active at that time.

Letter 10 – Aquarium Update


January 3, 2010
Aquarium #1, the original 40 gallon tall aquarium now contains the original pair of Angelfish, Boris and Media Luna, and they continue to lay eggs every two weeks, and I have stopped trying to raise the fry.  I have not had a successful batch of fry since September of last year.  After five successful spawnings, there began to be high mortality rates for the fry.  The aquarium also contains 4 of the original 6 Rams, 7 of the original 10 Cardinal Tetras, 2 of the original 4 Black Phantom Tetras, and 5 of the original 12 False Emperor Tetras.  All of the Algae Eaters and Panda Catfish died in a short period of time.  There has been an outbreak of tiny snails in both this aquarium and the 29 gallon aquarium containing the Angelfish Lefty and Digitalis.  The water quality seems fine, and the water is clear.  The algae growth seems to be under control, but I still have no luck keeping Amazon Sword Plants alive and the Eel Grass also languishes.  Boris and Media Luna laid eggs today.  They are hiding behind the plant on the left, guarding their eggs, in the photo.

Community Aquarium #1
Community Aquarium #1

Aquarium #2, the Grow Out Aquarium, contains 9 out of 10 Rummy Nose Tetras, a singly Cory Cat, and at least 35 Angelfish offspring from both pairs of parents.  Some of the largest fry have a body size of about a quarter of a dollar, and the smallest are much smaller, with the body of about my pinky fingernail.  These fry were from August and September spawnings.  I plan to take the largest of the young to Tropical Imports in the next week or so and trade them for food.  Some of the Angelfish have a strong gold coloration despite all the parents having the wild striped pattern.  Most of the young resemble the parents.

Grow Out Aquarium #2
Grow Out Aquarium #2

Aquarium #3 contains only the Angelfish Lefty and Digitalis who successfully raised two broods of about 50 fry for six weeks, spawning again shortly after the fry were removed.  They have a large proportion of eggs that fungus over, and the few fry that start to swim die within a few days.  I believe there is something amiss with the water, and I wonder if our winter water supply in Los Angeles differs from the Spring and Summer water supply.  Not having youngsters has not been a problem as they would be difficult to raise in the three aquariums I currently have.  The nursery aquarium has been temporarily emptied and it will be put into use again the next time there are viable fry from Boris and Media Luna that are rescued with a turkey baster.  This aquarium does not have a light and I cannot take a photo tonight.

Media Luna with Eggs
Media Luna with Eggs

I took a few additional photos of Boris and Media Luna with their freshly laid eggs.  Boris was on the other side of the aquarium, and I needed to coax him toward the eggs by moving my hand near the glass, a potential threat.

Boris (left) and Media Luna with eggs
Boris (left) and Media Luna with eggs

Letter 11 – Aquarium Update: 20 August 2010


Today I caught 10 baby Angelfish from the bathroom nursery aquarium to transfer to the growout aquarium.  Last week, while Mom was still here, I took 20 Angelfish that were born this spring to Tropical Imports to trade for $30 credit.  I did not buy anything that day.  After doing that I moved 15 baby Angelfish into the growout aquarium that only had the six smallest Angelfish left.  After this release, the Growout Aquarium will contain 10 rummynose tetras.  Of the 10 I bought last spring, only 3 had died, and last week as part of the earlier delivery of Angelfish, which included the 3 gold adolescents (Paris and friends) which only netted me $10, so I replace the three dead Rummynose Tetras with 3 small ones, wiping out the stock at Tropical Imports.  Dean said Gold Angelfish were not popular.  A few days later they were gone from the store.  I hope they went to a good home.  I can’t remember how many spring Angelfish I sold that day.  I think it may have been between 20 and 25.

Letter 12 – Aquarium Update: 8 fledgling Angelfish moved to community aquarium


April 3, 2010
Today I moved 8 fledgling Angelfish out of the grow-out aquarium and into the community aquarium, where they might be sharing space with their parents Boris and Media Luna, though some may be the progeny of Lefty and Digitalis who have 5 week old fry and some of them are starting to look like Angelfish.  I am going to keep three gold Fledglings and the smallest fledgling in the grow out aquarium, and I will be taking the remaining 10 to Tropical imports, perhaps to trade for a new timer.  There were 22 fledgling Angelfish, 8 Rummynose Tetras, and 1 Corydoras cat in this tank at the time the photo was taken.  The community aquarium now has 8 Fledglings with Boris and Media Luna, 3 False Emperor Tetras that swim at the top of the aquarium, a male and female Black Phantom Tetra, 6 Cardinal Tetras, and two Rams.

22 Angelfish Fledglings before the move.

Letter 13 – Aquarium Update: Boris and Medea Luna hatch a brood


Monday, July 4, 2011.  11:24 AM
On Thursday, June 30, Boris and Media Luna laid eggs on a piece of slate I placed in the aquarium.  I noticed that they were preparing to lay eggs and they were cleaning off a lower horizontal surface, so I decided to provide a taller surface to keep the eggs away from the Rummynose Tetras and Cardinal Tetras in the aquarium.  The parents did not seem real attentive, though they weren’t interested in eating much.  The eggs hatched hatched in the late afternoon on July 2, and the pair started moving the wrigglers to the horizontal surface they had cleared earlier.  I took out a healthy turkey baster full of wrigglers and transferred them to a small plastic box suspended in the now vacant (except for a Plecostomus) 29 gallon aquarium where Lefty and Digitalis lived for 2 1/2 years and raised many broods.  I placed an airstone in the box to keep water moving.  Meanwhile the pair continued to guard the remaining wrigglers in the community, formerly grow out, aquarium.

Boris and Medea Luna's wrigglers 1 day old

More details after lunch.

Ed. Note: Country Ham Lunch
Susan Lutz of Eat Sunday Dinner (or something like it) invited me for an Independence Day lunch of Country Ham because her parents were visiting from Virginia and they brought a ham.  Seems the newest ham isn’t documented on the website yet, but here is an older posting for Country Ham.

And now, for the rest of the Aquarium Update.  On the morning of Sunday, July 3, I watched Boris and Medea Luna doting over the remaining wrigglers in the community aquarium, and they did an admirable job of warding off the tetras, until the light came on at 2 PM.  I watched the tetras swoop in for a hatchling a few times before I took Drastic Measures for a Desperate Situation, and I decided to remove the remaining wrigglers with the turkey baster.  The parents did not take to kindly at having their brood removed, but if I wanted the fry to survive the day, I had to act.  Now the entire batch of hatchlings is in a small plastic container floating in their future home.  I want to make sure they are free swimming before releasing them, and I do have some concerns that the Plecostomus may try to eat the fry once they are introduced.  Introducing the young Angelfish will also require shutting off the filter while the fry are small enough to get sucked up.  It should be noted that the last batch of fry that Boris and Medea Luna had a brood in February, and most of that brood had unattractive mutations, including many with only one ventral fin and a few with no ventral fins.  Hopefully, this batch will not have the previously mentioned mutations.  Finally, I have a photo of Boris and Medea Luna taken immediately after I removed the last of the wrigglers and right before the camera stopped working.

Boris and Medea Luna

As a final note, the most beautiful fledgelings from the final batch of eggs that Lefty and Digitalis laid are currently about the size of a quarter, the body that is, and 16 of them, 12 striped and 4 golden, are living together with a single Plecostomus in the 40 gallon tall aquarium.  I hope to raise a second generation pair of breeders that can move to the 29 gallon aquarium.  I’m not certain what I will do with the Plecostomus if that happens.

Letter 14 – Aquarium Update: Boris and Medea Luna kiss and raise a family


November 28, 2010
Boris and Medea Luna have hatched a small clutch of eggs in the past week.  Several days ago I counted 21 wrigglers.  The community aquarium in which they reside has a drastically reduced population since last year.  The tanks was most likely overstocked and the ecosystem could not handle the numbers.  Now, other than the pair of Angelfish, there is a single Blue Ram and a pair of Cardinal Tetras (down from 6 and 10 respectively).  I fear for the lives of the wrigglers the minute they start to swim, though nothing has been quite as bad as the bands of marauding fledgelings that for only short periods of time resided in the community aquarium.  The hatchlings may get sucked into the filter, or eaten.

Boris (right) and Medea Luna lock jaws

This afternoon, Boris and Medea Luna began to lock jaws.  The bottom line is that though aquarists have long witnessed the jaw locking of Cichlids including Angelfish, and though it is commonly associated with mated or courting pairs, it is uncertain if this is aggressive behavior, romantic behavior or dominance behavior.

As an aside, Lefty and Digitalis have a small brood that hatched the day before the fry of Boris and Medea Luna.

Letter 15 – Aquarium Update: Boris and Media Luna spawn on glass and Lefty and Digitalis care for their fry


March 29, 2010
Lefty and Digitalis still have at least 60 surviving fry.  They are getting larger each day and there is quite a size discrepancy between the largest and smallest fry.  The largest fry are eating smallish mosquito larvae that I have begun catching outside in a water feature in the front yard.  The fry are over one month old.

Lefty (top) and Digitalis continue to care for fry

Boris and Media Luna started laying eggs this afternoon.  They have begun laying on the glass despite the fact that I cleaned off the filter intake tube yesterday, removing all the algae.  Yesterday I cleaned the filter and changed about a third of the water.  Last week I fed live Tubifex Worms to all three aquariums.

Boris (top) and Media Luna spawn

Any eggs that drop from the glass are getting eaten by Media Luna.

Boris (top) and Media Luna spawn

Letter 16 – Aquarium Update: Fry moved


August 8, 2009
Today I gave the largest fledgling Angelfish that was laid on March 31 to Daryl next door.  This Angelfish is now four months old and looking quite graceful.  I also caught 12 Angelfish from the grow out aquarium and traded them for two packs of frozen baby brine shrimps at Tropical Imports.

The latest spawning from Boris and Media Luna has had a high mortality rate.  Many of the fry are dying in the small plastic container floating in the 10 gallon nursery tank.  I am currently moving all the fry from the nursery aquarium to the grow out tank so I can try to save the couple of remaining youngest fry.  I have moved 25 and then 13 and then 12 and then 5 for a total of 55.  I was not trying to catch the largest fry, but moving all I caught.  It seems the smallest fry that were just moved are being picked on by the larger fledgling fry.  I may try to take 10 more of the largest to Tropical Imports tomorrow.

240-13+55= 282.  There should be 282 fry in the grow out tank, but I really think it is more likely there are half that number.

Meanwhile, Lefty and Digitalis spawned several days ago and the fry became free swimming two days ago.  There are about 60 or more young fry currently swimming with the parents.  The fry raised with the parents seem to grow so much faster.

Update:  August 10, 2009
Boris and Media Luna spawned yesterday.  I need to get all the fry out of the nursery aquarium and clean it.  Then I can move the fry in the floating box, less than 20, to the nursery aquarium and prepare for the newest fry.

I caught 15 of the largest fledgelings from the grow out aquarium and am taking them to Tropical Imports today.  that will leave 267 (considerably less) remaining in the grow out aquarium.

I then moved the final 25 fry from the nursery aquarium into the grow out tank.

FInally, I cleaned out the nursery aquarium and moved 18 fry from Boris and Media Luna’s spawning of two weeks ago.  They are about the same size as Lefty and Digitalis’ week younger fry.

Letter 17 – Aquarium Update: Fry moved to new nursery aquarium


July 24, 2010
Two weeks ago, as Lefty and Digitalis were preparing to lay more eggs, I decided to get a new 10 gallon nursery aquarium since Daryl asked for the borrowed aquarium back.  On July 9, I wrote:  “
I caught 17 more fry for relocation.  Total 63.  There are at least 21 remaining.“All of the fry left with the parents and they eventually vanished as did the new batch of eggs.  It’s a mystery.  Meanwhile, there was some mortality among the 63 fry that were put in the nursery aquarium in the bathroom.  There are probably at least 30 fry still alive, though it is difficult to count them.  I took some photos a few days ago.

Month old fry in Nursery Aquarium

The fry are eating well and growing and the largest are beginning to look more like Angelfish.  I would like to move them into the grow out aquarium within two weeks, but first I will need to take the largest youngsters to Tropical Imports to trade them for store merchandise, perhaps a Clown Loach to eat snails even though the Clown Loach is not an Amazon species.

Month Old Fry in Nursery Aquarium

Update: August 5, 2010
The spawning that prompted moving the fry a few weeks ago vanished, but about a week and a half ago, I placed a piece of slate in the aquarium with Lefty and Digitalis.  Within days, they spawned.  This was last weekend.  Many eggs were not fertile, but they did hatch and the wrigglers were moved around for a few days.  Monday, August 2, they began to swim and for the past two days, they have been eating newly hatched baby brine shrimp.  There are about fifty fry.  The fry that were moved to the 10 gallon aquarium should probably be moved to the grow out aquarium, but not until I take the largest inhabitants to Tropical Imports.

Letter 18 – Aquarium Update: Hector and Luna raise their first brood


May 18, 2012
In the Aquarium by the west window.

Hector (right) and Luna with their first brood

The fry have been free swimming for about a week.  I believe the eggs were laid about two weeks ago, before Paris and Helen laid eggs.  Paris and Helen, the gold pair, are raising a brood of their own.
Algae is growing because I removed the Plecostomus.  As soon as the fry get large enough, I am going to move the plecostomus back to help keep algae under control.  Perhaps I will get a new plecostomus for that aquarium and keep one in each aquarium, but move them all into the tank with Boris and Medea Luna who are no longer bearing pretty spawn.

Fry with Luna


Letter 19 – Aquarium Update: Lefty and Digitalis have a small brood; Two weeks later, they lay more eggs


Lefty and Digitalis have 8 swimming fry
February 20, 2010
Two weeks ago, Lefty and Digitalis laid eggs on the filter intake pipe again.  They have been laying eggs every two weeks since last year when their second brood was removed to the grow out aquarium.  The eggs either have grown fungus, or the fry have died before becoming free swimming.  Two weeks ago, I collected rain water for addition to the aquarium (about 4 gallons) and I began feeding the pair some live mosquito larvae that developed in an outdoor water storage area.  When the eggs hatched, I shut off the filter to prevent the wrigglers from getting sucked in.  The pair moved the wrigglers between a plant leaf and the pipe for several days.  Three days ago, the young started falling from the pipe and were captured in the parent’s mouths and returned.  I decided to hatch some brine shrimp just in case.  Three days ago, the fry started swimming some.  There were about 20.  Two days ago, after a day of swimming, the parents collected the fry to spend the night on the driftwood branch that has replaced the dying Amazon Sword Plant.  I also tried to remove as many tiny snails as possible, though that is a losing battle.  Yesterday, there were only 8 fry remaining, but they are swimming and eating newly hatched brine shrimp.

Digitalis with some fry

I am finally ready to post some new photos of Angelfish fry, and I am hoping these 8 guys survive.  I am at least encouraged that my Angelfish may start to produce broods of young again.

Digitalis and Fry

I never figured out why the eggs of either pair were not viable between September and January.  I am not sure if it is water conditions, or diet, but whatever the reason, things may be turning around.

Lefty (top), Digitalis and Fry

February 23, 2010
The day after posting, the number of swimming fry dropped to only 4, but they are still alive and eating well.

February 26, 2010
Two days ago, Lefty and Digitalis laid more eggs on the filter intake pipe.  This morning the hatched wrigglers were moved by the parents to the driftwood.  There are still four remaining fry, so it will be interesting to see what happens with two broods in the same aquarium.  Perhaps I should move the four larger fry to the nursery aquarium, but I feel I should let nature take its course and trust that the parents know how to deal with older siblings.

March 2, 2010
Alas, there is but one remaining fry from the first recent spawning, but there are about 100 new small fry that are just beginning to swim.

Letter 20 – Aquarium Update: Lefty and Digitalis' offspring are mating!!!!!


March 31, 2012
My beautiful adolescent Angelfish are laying eggs, but no eggs have hatched yet.  There were 17 Angelfish in the 40 gallon tall aquarium when things started to get ugly.  A gold male and a small but spunky striped female have laid eggs several times and they are getting aggressive.  His protective behavior was documented in a motion control photograph taken a few weeks ago.
It was several days ago that I realized that when they laid eggs again, the gold member of the pair was the male, not the female.  I believe that is him obeying the rule of thirds at my direction in the attached photograph.  I have decided to name him Paris.

Paris and other Adolescent Angelfish

The pair had begun attacking the eyes of a gravid female who was dropping eggs as she hid behind the piece of slate leaning against the glass.  I moved her with three other striped tankmates and moved them into the 10 gallon nursery tank.  That was Wednesday night.  Yesterday I took them to Tropical Imports and I told Henry to keep an eye on them because I predict they will pair off and lay eggs.  I am pretty certain at least two of the four are males.

Adolescent Angelfish

These are the most beautiful of the final brood produced by Lefty and Digitalis in spring 2011.

Letter 21 – Aquarium Update: Lefty and Digitalis with Fry


April 3, 2011
Lefty and Digitalis just finished a meal of mosquito larvae that are growing in the bird bath.  They enjoy eating Mosquito Larvae more than just about anything.  I am not certain exactly how old these Fry are, but it is somewhere around four weeks.  They don’t all grow at the same rate.  Last weekend, after taking all the Angelings to Tropical Imports, I transfered 52 of Boris and Medea Luna’s fry to the growout aquarium, but I can only account for twenty, and they are all larger.  I fear the smaller fry were eaten by the RummyNose Tetras, really just a school of tiny Piranhas.

Digitalis (left) and Lefty with Fry

Letter 22 – Aquarium Update: Lefty leaps out of Aquarium!!!!


July 2, 2010
Lefty and Digitalis have always been very aggressive when it comes to defending their brood.  They have consistently splashed water at me while I am feeding the youngsters eyedroppers full of newly hatched baby brine shrimp.  Yesterday, while feeding the hatchlings that have only been free swimming for a few days, I was surprised by a large splash and an adult angelfish atop the aquarium glass.  It had escaped the aquarium through an inch and a half gap between the glass and the rear edge of the aquarium where the filter pipes enter and leave the aquarium.  I have never thought I needed to block the gap as I did not think an angelfish would jump.  Apparently parental protection instincts allow they not terribly aerodynamic looking angelfish to go airborne.  It all happened so quickly, but I scooped up the fish and tossed it back into the aquarium.  It was Digitalis’s behavior that seemed noticeably changed after the incident, so I suspected she had leapt out.  About an hour later, I noticed a small wound on Lefty that looks like a scrape.  Perhaps it was caused by the glass, or perhaps my hasty handling of the leaper with dry hands.  I added 10 milliliters of Stress Coat to the water to help Lefty generate a protective slime coating on the wound.  Despite the leap, Lefty’s behavior continued to be very aggressive in defending the youngsters when I approached the aquarium.

The other pair of Angelfish, Boris and Medea Luna, who have not had a viable spawning since late last summer, have always defended the eggs against the tank mates by propelling themselves sideways through the water so that they look like manta rays.  I can’t help but wonder if there are other reports of Angelfish leaping out of aquaria.  I have a photo taken of the family the day before the jump.  Lefty appears to be recovering nicely, and both parents eagerly eat mosquito larvae I catch in the yard, but Digitalis stays close to the small fry.

Lefty (on left), Digitalis and Fry June 30, 2010

Update:  July 6, 2010
Lefty has recovered and is doing nicely.  The young fry are growing, but I am concerned what will happen if the adults spawn again.  In preparation, I took the twenty largest youngsters from the grow out aquarium and traded them for frozen and live food today.  I contemplated getting a Plecostomus to put in the community aquarium, but I don’t want it to eat the eggs that are laid there.

Letter 23 – Aquarium Update: Lefty's and Digitalis' brood is growing


March 16, 2010
Lefty and Digitalis laid eggs on February 24, and the hatchlings began swimming on March 2.  They have been swimming for two weeks, and there seem to be about 100 fry.  They are not all growing at the same rate.  I feed them newly hatched brine shrimp and frozen baby brine shrimp at least twice a day, and on days that I don’t have to work, I feed them four or five times a day.  Since the young have been swimming freely for two weeks, I expect that their chances of survival are good.  Last weekend, I took 12 of the largest fledgling Angelfish that were born last summer to Tropical Imports and traded them for $30 of food.  If the current youngsters grow at about the same rate as their older siblings, I will need to move them out of the aquarium they currently share with the parents and into the grow out aquarium in about a month.  At that time, I may need to have traded in all the older siblings.

Digitalis and Fry

Letter 24 – Aquarium Update: Moving Fry


April 24, 2010
Last weekend I took the last ten fledgling angelfish to Tropical Imports and traded them for a new timer.  The growout aquarium still has three gold angelfish as well as the striped runt from last summer’s spawnings.  Then I captured 5 of the largest fry that are being raised by Lefty and Digitalis and I moved them into the growout aquarium.  They are doing well with their older siblings, though they may be older cousins.  I do not keep track of the parentage once the fry are moved to the growout aquarium.  I just caught 6 more fry and they are acclimating to the water change before I release them into the growout aquarium.  I hope to move several additional batches of the larger fry to thin out the ranks in the parent’s tank.  Lefty and Digitalis are feisty and protective parents.  They splash water out of the aquarium when I feed the fry, probably because they remember loosing their previous generations of fry to the net.  These fry were spawned on February 24 and became free swimming on March 2, so they are nearly two months old.  I will try to take some photos to add to this posting.

Six Fry Acclimate to growout aquarium

I am going to release the six fry and then attempt to capture more.  The fry have grown at a disproportionate rate, with some looking many weeks younger and barely assuming the shape of an angelfish.  The largest and most aggressive feeders are being moved out to give the smaller fry the opportunity to grow.  It is also the only way to count the fry by catching them is small batches and adding up the numbers.

Six Fry Acclimate to growout aquarium

The fry that were moved last week and the larger relatives are curious about the new arrivals.

Lefty (on the right) and Digitalis guard a large brood

May 1, 2010
I never finished last week’s posting, and now I am not certain of the number of fish I moved.  I am nearly certain I caught 9 more, raising the total to FIFTEEN (15) Fry moved last week.  I just caught 5 more today and moved them.  Upon counting the fry in the growout tank after the move, there were 4 older siblings and 24 younger siblings (though by my own count there should be 25).  I doubt that I could be certain of that number.

Letter 25 – Aquarium Update: Moving More Fry (part 2)


I just caught and moved 5 more of Lefty’s and Digitalis’ fry that hatched exactly 2 months ago.  There are now 25 younger siblings and 4 older siblings, three of them gold.  There are a few fish in this new generation that have only 1 pectoral fin.  By my count, 2/25 of the moved fry have 1 pectoral fin, but these handicapped fry do not seem in any way less hardy than their siblings.  It is quite odd though that there are fast growers and slow growers in each batch, and with each passing week, the size differential seems greater.

Lefty (on right) and Digitalis with fry

After moving 5 fry, I caught some Mosquito Larvae to feed the fish, and I decided to set up a “studio” in the back yard with white paper so I could photograph the Mosquito Larvae, making them the Bug of the Month for May 2010.  I have been feeding the Angelfish Mosquito Larvae since last year, and the fish really love them.

Mosquito Larvae

Update:  May 5, 2010
I caught and moved 10 additional fry to the growout aquarium today.  I have moved 35 from the newest spawning to date.

Letter 26 – Aquarium Update: RIP Digitalis


May 15, 2011
When I promised an aquarium update this weekend, I had no inkling that the news would be so sad.  Yesterday I realized that Lefty and Digitalis did not look well, and I took all their remaining fry and all the fry from the growout aquarium, 26 in all, to Tropical Imports to cash in for store credit.  The decision to remove the remaining 8 fry that were still in the aquarium with Lefty and Digitalis was instigated by my desire to major tank maintenance.  The decision to remove all the fry from the growout aquarium was instigated by my horror at watching Boris grab one in his mouth and spit it out.  Since Boris and Medea Luna were moved from their aquarium in a Drastic Measure for a Desperate Situation, I realized they seemed agitated by the offspring of Lefty and Digitalis.  I had already moved 17 or 18 of the most beautiful and largest fry to the 40 tall aquarium after thoroughly cleaning it and letting it season for a week.  Once I was sure that two fry survived the move and were fine, I decided to use that aquarium to grow some fry to a larger size. With Lefty and Digitalis in apparent distress, I changed some water and turned on the filter.  I was in the habit of shutting off the filter whenever they had small fry to keep the fry from being sucked into the filter.  I added an air stone and Lefty started acting more normal.  Digitalis was keeping to the back of the aquarium, but both ate live worms this morning.  I thought to move the couple to the 40 tall aquarium with their fledglings, but the couple seemed to be doing better.  A half hour after eating, Digitalis was up-side-down at the top of the aquarium.  I reverted again to Drastic Measures for a Desperate Situation and quickly moved both Lefty and Digitalis, but alas, Digitalis was dead within minutes.  Lefty seems to be doing well 12 hours later.  I have doubts about my caretaker abilities and can’t help but to wonder if Digitalis might have survived if I made the move the night before. Digitalis’ symptoms included a ragged tail, but I never know if that is just rough play.  Both Lefty and Digitalis seemed to open their mouths wide and shake slightly.  Things didn’t seem quite right, but they did not seem dire.  Now I have thoroughly cleaned that aquarium and I’m not sure what to do.  Watch for additional updates.  I would like to illustrate this posting with a photo from last spring of Digitalis with a brood of fry.  Interestingly, though I took photos yesterday, they do not appear to be on the camera.  Seems the very old digital camera I have been using has died as well.

Digitalis with Fry March 16, 2010

Update: May 22, 2011
I found the photos on the camera.  It is bittersweet, but I do have a last photo of Digitalis with Lefty taken the evening before she expired.

Digitalis (left) and Lefty on their last afternoon together

Letter 27 – Aquarium Update: RIP Lefty


June 29, 2011
Two days ago, Lefty suddenly began to exhibit symptoms that something was wrong, including staying near the bottom of the tank motionless.  Then he would rest on the bottom upsidedown with labored breathing.  Yesterday morning, there was no change, and then in the late morning, Lefty died just a month and a half after his mate Digitalis died suddenly.  Though it seems this was not a very old age for Angelfish (see Angels+), Lefty and Digitalis produced many batches of eggs.  The cream of the crop from their most recent brood are growing nicely in the 40 gallon tall aquarium.  There are 16 fledglings in the aquarium now of which four are gold.

Lefty Died Yesterday

One of the most surprising events in Lefty’s life was the day he jumped out of the water and landed on the glass cover of the aquarium while I was working in the water.  He was trying to defend his brood.  He and Digitalis were excellent parents who cared for their young.  Lefty lost most of his right pectoral fin when I originally brought the pair along with the other mated pair of Angelfish, Boris and Medea Luna, home in March 2009.  The four fish came from the same pet store and they had already begun forming relationships.  Seems Lefty was rejected by the other three fish and he needed to be boarded for about a month at my local store, Tropical Imports.  Lefty had a real personality and he will be sadly missed.  Here is a photo of Lefty in happier times.

Lefty and Fry May 2010

Letter 28 – Aquarium Update: Tragedy Averted


April 29, 2011
Daniel had to drive to work yesterday because he was so late he could not take public transportation.  After spending the morning posting many of your wonderful letters, he noticed Boris and Medea Luna obviously distressed at the top of the aquarium.  The two remaining Cardinal Tetras they share the 40 gallon aquarium with were gasping at the top as well.  The last remaining two year old Blue Ram was dead.  This followed two partial water changes in two days.  Upon returning to the home office after Spring Break, Medea Luna’s pectoral fins did not look good.  The suspected love nips from Boris appeared to be a fin rot fungus and internet research suggested frequent water changes, so first 15 gallons, and the next morning 10 gallons of water were changed and Stress Coat+ was used.  Next morning, just as Daniel was about to leave, the distressed fish looked bad.  Daniel couldn’t skip work, so he quickly scooped up the four survivors and transferred them to the Grow Out aquarium.  There wasn’t time to make sure the transfer would be successful, so Daniel drove off to his morning lecture.  Thursday is a very long day, culminating after an evening lecture ending at 10:15 PM.  Throughout the day, Daniel couldn’t help but to worry about the state of affairs with the mated pair of Angelfish that have been under Daniel’s care for two years.  Upon returning home at nearly 11 PM, Daniel was relieved to find the four distressed fish well and hungry, though there are also 11 Rummy Nose Tetras and about 50 Angelings only a few months old also in that aquarium, not to mention a Cory Cat that always hides under a rock.  The largest Angelings will have to go to Tropical Imports this weekend and Boris and Medea Luna’s home will need some major attention.  Looks like a busy weekend.  Sorry no new photos, but here are the couple before the averted tragedy.

Medea Luna (left) and Boris kiss or fight in November 2010

Letter 29 – Blood Worms


What Are BloodwormsSubject: blood worms
Location: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
May 1, 2017 9:18 pm
Though it might make us unpopular with the neighbors, we keep standing water in the yard for wildlife, and we skim with a net daily to feed Mosquito Larvae to the Angelfish, and Boris is still thriving alone in his tank since killing Medea Luna several years ago.  This week the Mosquito Larvae have been replaced by Blood Worms, the larvae of non-biting Midges, and Boris has been greedily eating everyone put in the tank.

Blood Worms



Letter 30 – Boris and Medea Luna engage in a battle of dominance and submission


Boris and Medea Luna turn Somersaults in the Aquarium
January 5, 2013

Boris & Medea Luna lock jaws.

We haven’t done an aquarium update in quite some time, so we are long overdue.  Boris and Medea Luna have been living in the fifty gallon aquarium for several years now.  They currently share the aquarium with a school of Rummy Nose Tetras, a school of Serpae Tetras, a school of Glowlight Tetras, five golden X-Ray Tetras, some Cardinal and Neon Tetras, six Silver Hatchet Fish, two large Plecostomus, two Indian Killifish (the only non-Amazon fish), a Corydoras Catfish and one odd Tetra.  They continue to spawn erratically, but the Tetras, which are really just small Piranas, always eat the eggs as they are laid.  Boris and Medea Luna attempt to chase the other aquarium dwellers away from the spawning site to no avail.  We stopped trying to raise their young as they were often deformed.  Boris and Medea Luna still fight and court, and Boris has bitten off her pectoral fins much like he did to Lefty many years ago.  Medea Luna is often the aggressor and she often initiates the activities.  Occasionally the Angelfish kill a Tetra that is moving too slowly, but the other fish have learned to avoid the Angelfish when they are defending territory.  

Boris initiates the flip.

The History of Boris and Medea Luna
Boris and Medea Luna, a pair of Angelfish, have been in our care since March 27, 2009, when we brought four Angelfish home from Pasadena Tropical Fish.  Within five days, we had a spawing, but three fish seemed to be involved.  Eventually Boris and Medea Luna proved to be the dominant pair and started to attack the other female, who we eventually named Digitalis.  She and her mate Lefty lived for several years in their own aquarium and they produced numerous spawning before dying in in 2011.  Boris and Medea Luna always lived in a community aquarium with Rams and Cardinal Tetras, and they protected numerous spawings from the other fish in the aquarium.  We always waited for the eggs to hatch before removing the wriggling fry with a turkey baster and raising the fry in a nursery aquarium.

Boris and Medea Luna flipping.

Here are Boris and Medea Luna on their second anniversary in Mount Washington.

Boris and Medea Luna lock and swim toward the surface.
Boris and Medea Luna begin a new cycle.


Letter 31 – Boris and Medea Luna Spawn Monday 28 March 2011


March 28, 2011
Boris and Medea Luna chose a fortuitous time to spawn.  Yesterday I took 24 small angelfish to Tropical Imports and traded them for food and two Rummy Nose Tetras.  I then moved 52 Angel Fry from Boris and Medea Luna’s last successful spawning, the first in 2 and a half years, into the grow out aquarium.  I kept the smallest of the previous brood, that of Lefty and Digitalis, to raise with the newcomers.  Lefty and Digitalis laid eggs a few days ago and I cannot find them.  I’m not certain if they are gone or if they are hidden.

Boris (bottom) and Medea Luna with the spawing from earlier today

Letter 32 – Boris and Media Luna laid eggs again


22 June 2009, 3:54 PM
Saturday night, 20 June, I noticed that Boris and Media Luna had laid eggs for the fifth time.  Spawing 3 grew fungus and I’m not sure if spawning 4 was fertile as that happened a day before I left town for Ohio.  The eggs that were laid Saturday night have hatched, and the timing is not so good.  I may try to remove some hatchlings and place them in the nursery tank, but I will be out of town at Amy’s wedding all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, about the time the hatchlings will need to begin feeding.  Perhaps their egg sacs will sustain them until I return.

Letter 33 – Boris and Media Luna lay eggs again


August 28, 2009
This morning I noticed that Angelfish Boris and Media Luna laid eggs again.  Their last two spawnings had a very high mortality rate.  The spawning from approximately two weeks ago only has two fry.  The spawning from about four weeks ago has about 13.  Once the fry become free swimming, they start to die.  The most recent hatching was one of the largest hatchings, but within a week, there was a great die-off.  It is possible that the time I introduced two generations to the nursery tank together, there was a similar die-off, and I accused the elder siblings of killing their younger brethren.  I currently have 13 fry in the nursery aquarium and two in a bowl inside the nursery aquarium.  I will transfer the 13 to the grow out aquarium after taking the largest fry in there to Tropical Imports to trade for frozen brine shrimp.

September 19, 2009
Much has happened since the August posting.  I never removed the fry from the community aquarium and all were eaten.  The two fry in the bowl were raised in the nursery aquarium alone after their 13 older siblings were moved to the larger aquarium.  The two fry that were alone grew quickly.  Last week they too were moved to the community aquarium after I took the the 10 largest youngsters to Tropical Imports to exchange for food about two weeks ago.  Lefty and Digitalis are still with their most recent spawning, but I think Digitalis is filling with eggs, so I should catch the fry and remove them to the grow out aquarium.  First, I have to catch the largest fry and take them to Tropical Imports.  The largest individual I had, I gave to Daryl next door to add to his aquarium.  Yesterday, Boris and Media Luna laid eggs on a leaf of a new plant I bought two weeks ago.  I have also begun to use a product to remove algae, and it is working.  The product is called Algaefix.

Letter 34 – Boris and Media Luna spawn again


3 July 2009, 8:14 PM
We got home from shopping today and noticed that Boris and Media Luna were in the process of laying eggs on the uppermost Amazon Swordling. There was evidence last night that this might happen. All fish were being chased from the right side of the aquarium, and Boris was moving sideways through the water. Breeding tubes were showing. Just one week ago the wrigglers were removed with a turkey baster.

Media Luna (on right) and Boris Spawn
Media Luna (on right) and Boris Spawn

I am not sure if I have the room to try to raise this batch of fry. Time will tell. Media Luna is reflected in the glass in some of the photos.

Media Luna (on right) and Boris Spawn
Media Luna (on right) and Boris Spawn

Update on three recent spawning
6 July 2009, 10:20 AM
Yesterday, Boris and Media Luna moved their freshly hatched wrigglers to a lower leaf.  This coincided with the addition of 7 Algae eaters, Otocinclus species, that I added to the community aquarium.  I still haven’t decided what to do about this spawning.

Lefty and Digitalis have swimming fry in the aquarium.  They are growing, but the numbers may be declining.  Signs of a predator lurking in the aquarium, perhaps?

Boris and Media Luna’s previous spawn are doing well in the nursery aquarium.  They are growing.  They are about three weeks old now.

Update on three recent spawnings
12 July 2009, 2:08 PM
First off, this is the first addition to the website from the brand new fast computer.  We expect to be able to make many more postings each day now.  Several days ago, possibly Thursday, I moved many of Boris and Media Luna’s latest fry with a turkey baster.  I left about 30 fry in the tank with them.  They had been moving the fry at least twice a day.  From the leaf, to the glass, back to the leaf and back to the glass.  I placed the wrigglers in a plastic box that attaches to the side of the nursery aquarium.  The fry have been swimming for two days now and they are eating well.  They are significantly smaller than the previous batch of fry from the same parents, and I am a bit nervous to release the younger siblings into the same 10 gallon aquarium.  I think I will do it tonight as I fear the small box, that can’t hold more than 2 cups of water, is far too small for the growing fry.  The parents tried protecting the swimming fry for about a day.  I watched the last 6 fry get eaten by the Cardinal Tetras when the parents were distracted.

Boris and Media Luna’s older fry are starting to look like cichlids, but not like angelfish yet.  They are about a month old.

Lefty and Digitalis are surrounded by their fry in their own aquarium.

Letter 35 – Boris and Media Luna Spawn again. So have Lefty and Digitalis.


October 2, 2009
Yesterday Boris and Media Luna spawned again.  The last three batches of young all had extremely high mortality rates.  Only one of the most recent spawning lived, and two lived long enough to be moved to the grow out aquarium on the previous spawning.  Prior to that, 13 youngsters were raised.  Hopefully, there will be better luck with this new spawn.

Media Luna with yesterday's spawning
Media Luna with yesterday's spawning

October 3, 2009
Boris and Media Luna’s eggs hatched and they moved the brood.  Some fry have strayed from the leaf and been eaten by the Cardinal Tetras.  Last night, Lefty and Digitalis also laid eggs, or perhaps it was early this morning.  This batch of eggs seems viable.

Letter 36 – Hector, our last remaining Angelfish, nears his 7th Birthday


Date:  February 9, 2017
We just received a very nice comment from Jack Dempsey on a very old posting of our mated pair of Angelfish, Boris and Medea Luna.  Though our aquarium has nothing to do with bugs (except we feed our fish mosquito larvae and bloodworms), our editorial staff added an Aquarium tag to WTB? to document our escapades.  Sadly, none of the four Angelfish we purchased on March 27, 2009 are still alive, but Hector who was born and raised in our aquarium in the spring of 2011 is big and beautiful and he lives in his own aquarium with a single Rummynose Tetra.  His body is well over three inches across and he is nearly 7 inches high.  He is a magnificent fish.

Hector is our last Angelfish.

Letter 37 – Cycling an Aquarium


Aquarium Comments – Cycling
May 24, 2010
Yes, I know, MTS (Multiple Tank Syndrome) has an incredible effect. Anyways, I greatly appreciate you putting information on cycling in your site, most people overlook this essential process.
However, I would like to politely point out that there are many ways to successfully cycle an aquarium without the use of live fish. Here on Fishlore (fishlore.com) we find this rather ineffective, as well as stressful to the fish.
I’m not saying that you didn’t do the right thing. I have to, again, express my gratitude of you placing this entire process on your site, so all other new fishkeepers can read and understand.
For more information on the Nitrogen Cycle and how to cycle an aquarium without using fish, I would recommend this excellent page: http://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm
In addition, any questions you may have can be answered if you join the forum.
Thank you for hosting this great website, again, and showing off your gorgeous aquarium and fish. Its not every day you see angelfish breeding as much as yours, so I can be sure that you are taking good care of them!
Brian (Elodea on FL)

Thanks for the links Brian.  Cycling our aquaria was quite an ordeal.  Though, in general, we think our skill as a freshwater aquarist is above average, we still have two factors to try to correct.  Algae (hair algae in one aquarium and blue-green and brown algae in the other two) proliferates and the plants are not thriving.  Perhaps fishlore.com will provide us with some assistance.

Update:  July 14, 2017
Though the time for cycling our aquarium has long passed, we received the following request from Emma, and upon reading it, we decided it would be appropriate to share the information she provided.

Heyyy Daniel
Just wanted to reach out after coming across your page …
Here’s the thing, we recently published a much better guide on the Nitrogen Cycle with brand new custom graphics, which you can see here:
Thought it might make a nice addition (or replacement) link on your page.
It would awesome if you did. And of course, we’d be happy to share your article on our social media channels as a way of saying thanks!
Either way, keep up all the good work.

Letter 38 – Error in Judgment results in loss of Angelfish Hatchlings


Monday, July 13, 2009
The Carnage
Last night, before going to bed, we released the week old hatchlings into the nursery aquarium with the two week older siblings.  Though there was a difference in size, we thought all would be fine.  About an hour after turning on the light this morning, we realized we had made an horrific judgment error.  One of the larger fish in the tank had a younger sibling in its mouth.  Most of the younger fish were floating dead or dying.  We don’t know if they were picked to death, or if they were partially chewed and disgorged, but we suspect since a fish will attempt to eat most anything that will not eat it, there was just too much of a size discrepancy for the two generations to coexist, at least until the youngest had gotten more experienced.  Sadly, we have lost nearly the entire generation.  We managed to rescue two little guys and they are once more quarantined.  The largest of the second generation seems to be coexisting right now with the larger siblings

Letter 39 – Golden Angelfish and moving more Small Fry


May 20, 2010
When I took the last of the fledgling Angelfish to Tropical Imports last week, all I had left were three gold Angelfish and the runt of the year.  Now they are living happily with their younger relatives.  I want to save all the gold Angelfish until I have a nice school of Goldies to sell for a higher price toward credit for food.

Golden Angelfish

I don’t like naming the Fledglings since I am just getting rid of them, but I am thinking of naming one of these beauties Paris.

Golden Angelfish

15 + 45 = 60 Small Fry in the Grow Out Aquarium
May 21, 2010
I just moved 15 more fry from the birthsite aquarium to the grow-out aquarium.

15 + 60 = 75
May 22, 2010
I moved 15 additional small fry today to make a total of 75 small fry and 4 older relatives in the grow out aquarium.  The largest of the small fry are just about ready to be taken to Tropical Imports at $1 credit each.

Letter 40 – Lefty and Digitalis have a large hatching


March 4, 2010
It has been three days, and Lefty and Digitalis have at least 100 small fry that have been swimming and eating baby brine shrimp for two days.  There are no remaining fry from the previous spawning, but these fry seem healthy.

Lefty (left) and Digitalis with Fry

Hopefully, the situation with nonviable spawnings has passed.

Digitalis with fry

Update March 10. 2010
A week has passed and there are still at least 75 fry surviving.

Letter 41 – Lefty and Digitalis lay eggs again. Moving Fry


July 9, 2010
Yesterday I noticed a huge clutch of new eggs that Lefty and Digitalis laid on the filter intake tube.  The filter is not on.  The last eggs were laid 16 days earlier on June 22.  Yesterday I bought a cheap 10 gallon aquarium and a new heater.  I set it up last night and caught 4 fry and moved them into the new tank to make sure they would live.  I then caught 15 more and added them this morning.  I just caught 21 additional fry and they are acclimating to the temperature change.  40 fry have been removed from the aquarium with the parents and new eggs, and there are still some fry remaining and needing to be relocated.  Though the parents did not show any signs of wanting to eat their older fry to defend the new eggs, I do not want to take the chance.  The fry that disappeared when I was away, and the speculation is that the parents ate them to prevent them from eating the new eggs, were older and larger.  Perhaps these current fry are not a threat to the new eggs.

I caught 6 more fry for relocation.  Total 46

I caught 17 more fry for relocation.  Total 63.  There are at least 21 remaining.

Letter 42 – Lefty and Digitalis lay more eggs with remaining fry still in aquarium. 39 Fry moved.


May 24, 2010
I just noticed that Lefty and Digitalis have laid eggs on the leaf of the speckled sword plant, and there are still at least 30 fry in the aquarium with them.  I just captured 10 fry in an attempt to remove all remaining fry to the grow out aquarium.
In my second attempt, I caught 29 more small fry, and that appears like it may be all of them, though they are hiding quite well.  All the 39 fry that were captured had fat round bellies, and I watched them eating the spawn.  It must have been an enormous spawning since there are still quite a few eggs remaining.  When I looked at the aquarium this afternoon, things just seemed different.  The fry were not clamoring around the glass with the parents.  They were hanging out in the rear of the aquarium, near where the spawning had occurred.

May 27, 2010
Lefty and Digitalis’ eggs hatched sometime yesterday because they were gone from the leaf when I returned home at about 8:30 PM.  I noticed a small cluster of hatched fry wriggling on another leaf.  This is not a large hatching.  It will be interesting to see if they are raised by the parents, or abandoned for a larger brood.

May 30, 2010
There are about 30 fry wriggling on the leaf of the sword plant where they were moved shortly after hatching.  The parents do not seem interested in moving the fry again.  The photo taken today is hopelessly blurry.

Lefty and Digitalis' Fry: three days after hatching

May 31, 2010
About 50 fry became free swimming today, and they had their first meal of newly hatched brine shrimp.  The parents are protective, and the fry are quickly herded back together if any individuals stray from the school.

Digitalis (left) and Lefty with Fry

By the time I decided to take some photos, the light in the aquarium was very low since this birthing aquarium does not have a light fixture.  The only light is daylight coming from windows on the west side and from the north porch with the awning.  The back of the aquarium has much algae.

Lefty and Fry

Letter 43 – Lefty and Digitalis: Parents a second time


Lefty's hatchlings;  30 June 2009
Lefty's hatchlings; 30 June 2009

Wednesday, 1 July 2009, 9:33AM
Upon returning from Mendocino Sunday night, I quickly noticed that Lefty and Digitalis had spawned in my absence and the eggs had hatched. The spawning was no surprise. Digitalis was filling with eggs and both fish had breeding tubes extended when I left on Friday morning. Wrigglers were attached to the Amazon Sword leaf near the window on the left side of the aquarium. The next day, the fry were moved across the aquarium and then back again. Tuesday morning, I shot some photos through the water surface and Tuesday evening, the fry were still on the leaf, though on both sides of the surface. This morning, at first light, the fry were still there, but now, three hours later, with camera in hand, I cannot find them. The parents have moved them again. I expect they will be free swimming in a day or two.

Update: Friday, 3 July 2009, 7:58 PM
Today the fry became free swimming and the parents are quite defensive.  Yesterday was a busy day for the parents.  The fry were moved several times, and eventually were returned to the first leaf I photographed them on.  The eyes on the hatchling wrigglers are much more pronounced now.

Wrigglers 2 July 2009
Wrigglers 2 July 2009

Both parents are very protective, splashing me whenever I get close with the camera or with food.

Digitalis gets defensive
Digitalis gets defensive

Letter 44 – Lefty and Mate have spawned!!!


12 May 2009
Lefty, the Angelfish with one pectoral fin, and mate have spawned. I am relatively certain the mate is the female. These are the two Angelfish that have been boarding at Tropical Imports for a month or more. They were brought home to the new 29 gallon aquarium on Sunday and their spawning tubes soon manifested. I suspected eggs would be laid today based on behavior last night. I eagerly await evidence that the spawn is fertile.

Lefty (center) and Mate spawn (eggs on leaf upper right)
Lefty (left) and Mate spawn (eggs on leaf upper right)

Lefty is on the left hand side and the eggs are on the leaf on the upper right. The mate has been fanning the eggs since Lefty only has one fanning fin.

Lefty (center) with Mate and eggs (leaf on upper right)
Lefty (center) with Mate and eggs (leaf on upper right)

I just got done feeding the new parents some tubifex worms. I have been struggling with the camera that does not focus well.

Lefty's Mate with eggs
Lefty's Mate with eggs

Update: Saturday 16 May 2009, 6:27 AM
The eggs hatched sometime Thursday because there were wrigglers when I returned from work Thursday afternoon. It is now Saturday and the fry have been moved three times at least. The spawning occurred on the right side of the aquarium near the filter intake, but the fry have been moved to the left side of the aquarium near the filter return and near the window that gets late afternoon direct sun. This window faces west and is on the north side of the house. The female stays close to the eggs while Lefty seems to like patrolling the right side of the aquarium.
I also captured 11 fry from the nursery aquarium this morning and they are floating in the 50 gallon aquarium so the water will adjust. I fed the tank inhabitants first. The Tetras are still not active and early morning is the best time to put baby brine shrimp in the aquarium to feed the Angelfish because they get to eat all of the nauplii. The Tetras tend to be pushy feeders, so when I feed in the afternoon or evening, I generally start with frozen adult brine shrimp to fill up the Tetras and also to begin introducing the Angelfish to adult food. It has been impossible to determine if there are 30 fry in the 50 gallon tank because counting that many fish is not easy. I have found no corpses, so unless the smaller fry were sucked into the filter, there should be 30 Angelfish in the aquarium. Adding 11 more will bring the total to 41. There are still at least 40 small fry in the nursery aquarium.
There have been a few more losses in the community aquarium. It seems I only have 3 Glowlight Tetras left and 4 Panda Cory Catfish. I still have 6 Blue Emperor Tetras, though one has popeye, 8 Cardinal Tetras and 4 Black Phantom Tetras. The Rams and the pair of Angelfish are all doing well. I think the Glowlights and Catfish do not like the warmer temperature of the aquarium. I can’t seem to get the temperature below 86º despite trying to dial down the thermostat. I should find out if there is a trick to this. It is also possible that the light is heating the aquarium. Also, since I don’t have air conditioning or heating in the house, when we had the heatwave, the temperature rose to 90º.

Lefty with Fry
Lefty with Fry

Update: Monday 18 May 2009, 5:52 PM
The fry became free swimming today. The parents are having a difficult time herding the youngsters.

Lefty's Mate with Fry
Lefty's Mate with Fry

I covered the filter intake with loosely arranged organza, but I got paranoid that the young might get sucked in, so I shut off the filter. When they are a bit stronger, I can turn the filter back on. I have squirted a few eyedroppers of live baby brine shrimp and some of the fry are taking food. It is so sweet seeing the parents with the fry. I swear there are 200 youngsters.

Lefty and Mate with Fry
Lefty (bottom right) and Mate with Fry

I also moved 34 more fry from nursery aquarium to 50 gallon aquarium bringing the total there to 75.

Oldest Fry 9 weeks old
Oldest Fry 9 weeks old

Update: 20 May 2009, 6:49 AM
We just finished moving the last 24 fry from the nursery aquarium to the 50 gallon aquarium. This way we can try to raise some of Lefty’s offspring in the nursery aquarium if necessary. Lefty’s fry have been gobbling up newly hatched brine shrimp. We may also move the airstone to Lefty’s aquarium to circulate the water since the filter was unplugged. There are now 99 fry in the 50 gallon tank.

Update: Naming the other adult Angelfish
Thursday, 21 May 2009, 5:50 AM
When I returned from work late last night, the timers had already shut off the aquarium lighting, so I turned the lights back on to feed the fish. After eating, the original pair of Angelfish began acting in a very territorial manner. They chased the rams, tetras and catfish away from the large Amazon sword plant and began to clean the algae from its leaves with their mouths. When they chase fish, they turn 90º to move faster through the water.  They look unusual when horizontal.  They also move their ventral fins rapidly, like they are plaing drums.  They are acting like they want to spawn. I am going to name them Boris and Media Luna. Lefty’s mate still needs a name.
Lefty and mate who are in a 29 gallon aquarium are still acting like good parents, trying their best to keep the fry together in a school, and picking up stragglers with their mouths and spitting them back into the crowd.

Letter 45 – Lefty, Digitalis and the new Brood


June 1, 2010
It has been a rocky beginning for the most recently laid batch of eggs produced by Lefty and Digitalis on May 24.

Lefty (left) and Digitalis with Fry

Shortly after the eggs were laid, the two month old fry that were still with the parents began devouring the eggs.  All 39 fry that were removed that day had fat little bellies full of eggs.  The number of eggs that were devoured must have been over 100.  Yesterday, the remaining hatchlings began to swim freely and eat newly hatched baby brine shrimp.  There appear to be about 50 that escaped being eaten as caviar.

Lefty (left), Digitalis and Fry

The light was bad yesterday when I tried to take some photos, and today, I captured the late afternoon sun shining into the tank, but the reflection coming from the south window is a bit distracting.  The parents are quite protective of the fry and they attempt to keep them in a tight school, with stragglers captured in the mouth and promptly spat back into the crowd.

Digitalis (left), Lefty and Fry

Update:  June 7, 2010
Yesterday, when a fly was buzzing at the window and casting a shadow onto the aquarium in the late afternoon light, Digitalis charged at the shadow.  The fry were on the other side of the aquarium, so I looked a bit more closely.  The previous day, I noticed both Lefty and Digitalis picking at the algae covered driftwood in the aquarium.  There was a huge clutch of eggs on the branch.  The free swimming fry are about two weeks old now, so they are too young to eat eggs or younger siblings, but it is odd to have a second spawning follow the previous spawning so closely when there are surviving fry.  It will be interesting to see what happens as the new batch of fry will become free swimming just as I have to leave town for a week.  I hope the neighbors are game for the challenge of feeding hatchlings.

Letter 46 – Lefty's fry are moved to 50 gallon Aquarium


Saturday 13 June, 2009, 9:51 PM
I caught 20 of Lefty’s fry and will be moving them to the 50 Gallon Aquarium. That aquarium contains 1 Platy, 9 Rummynose Tetras, 1 Cory Cat and 99 of Boris and Media Luna’s fry. They are from two spawnings, and the fry are vastly different in size. They currently eat Frozen Brine Shrimp, newly hatched nauplii and dry food. Catching 20 fry in a planted 29 gallon aquarium is not easy. There are easily 50 fry left in the tank with the parents. I noticed one of the youngsters picking on the parent’s fins, so I figured it is time to move them. Many of Boris and Media Luna’s fry have 1 ventral fin, a birth defect or the result of trauma. The fry from Lefty’s spawning do not seem to have this problem.

I then immediately moved 10 more for a total of 30. At first I tried to catch the largest of the fry, but that proved to be nearly impossible. It is much easier in a 10 gallon tank half full of water without plants or sand, like the nursery aquarium.

Monday 15 June, 2009, 7:11 AM
Yesterday morning I tried to capture more of the fry, but after fatally injuring one of them with the net, I stopped attempting to catch them.  I had only captured 1 additional small fry and moved it to the 50 gallon aquarium.  There should now be 130 fry from three spawnings and two different sets of parents in the 50 gallon aquarium.

Letter 47 – Moving 39 Fry to Growout Tank; Lefty and Digitalis spawn and eggs turn white


Where we left off …
July 26, 2009

There should be 201 fry from various generations and parents in the grow out tank now.

Saturday August 1, 2009
I have currently captured 25 fry from the nursery aquarium to move to the grow out tank.  This is necessary since two days ago, I siphoned out a small quantity of fry from the community aquarium after allowing Boris and Media Luna to care for their hatchlings.  This would bring the total in the grow out tank to 226, given that there may have been some losses.

Also, yesterday, I noticed that Lefty and Digitalis had spawned again, and it was a large number of eggs.  Sadly, today all of the eggs look white.

I caught 14 more fry to move (total 240).

Letter 48 – Moving Lefty and Digitalis' Fry, Boris and Media Luna spawn, 10 Fry sold to Tropical Imports


September 20, 2009
Two days ago, Boris and Media Luna spawned again.  The eggs were laid on the leaf of a new plant I purchased two weeks ago at Pasadena Tropical Imports.  Today the eggs hatched.

Boris and Media Luna Spawn Again
Boris (rear) and Media Luna Spawn Again

This newest spawning seems precarious.  The other fish in the aquarium swim close and are not chased away as when the spawning site is more secluded.  The location is also close to the filter return site and that may result in the small fry being carried away in the stream.

Boris and Media Luna Spawn again
Boris and Media Luna (front) Spawn again

I took 10 Fry to Tropical Imports today and traded them for frozen bloodworms.

Ten Fry taken to Tropical Imports
Ten Fry taken to Tropical Imports

I am catching the 7 week old fry that Lefty and Digitalis spawned on August 1.  The fry have been living with the parents for seven weeks and they are ready to go to the grow out tank since it looks like Digitalis is filling with eggs.  I have captured 20 + 18 + 11 for a total of 49 Fry.

October 2, 2009
Boris and Media Luna’s spawn was moved into the nursery aquarium, and there was a tremendous mortality rate.  Only one youngster is alive.  This is now four spawns in a row that have nearly all  died.  This is quite confusing.  Lefty and Digitalis also spawned, but the eggs grew fungus and there were no hatchlings.  Yesterday, Boris and Media Luna spawned again.

Letter 49 – 2nd Anniversary Approaching: Sunday 27 March 2011


March 18, 2011

Boris (top) and Media Luna two years later

Boris, Medea Luna, Lefty and Digitalis are about to celebrate their second anniversary since moving to Mt. Washington shortly after the nitrates dropped in the aquarium we had set up two weeks earlier.  Boris and Medea Luna with Digitalis laid a batch of eggs four days later on March 31, 2009.

Boris and Blue Ram

Boris and Medea Luna laid a batch of eggs about a month ago.  The young were removed with a turkey baster just before they became free swimming.  They are living in the bathroom in the nursery aquarium.  The parents moved them about and chased away the single Blue Ram and the two Cardinal Tetras, the last remaining fish from the originally stocked aquarium from March 2009.  Lefty and Digitalis have a brood of 2 week old fry right now.  This is the largest brood ever I believe.

Boris (top) and Medea Luna

Boris and Medea Luna are paler than usual tonight.  I will photograph Lefty and Digitalis tomorrow when there is daylight.

Rummy Nose Tetras and Angelings

These little beauties are the offspring of Lefty and Digitalis and they were born quite a few months ago.  I cleaned out the filter in the growout aquarium.

Breeding Stock Fledgling

This guy is from two broods ago.  I saved the prettiest of the brood.  This fledgling is the pick of the litter.

11 Rummynose Tetras and some Angelings

Letter 50 – Our Angelfish have just spawned a second time


Friday 10 April, 2009, 5:04 PM

Angelfish Spawning 11 April 2009
Angelfish Spawning 10 April 2009

We changed about five gallons of water in our aquarium today and trimmed some of the plants. We had been noticing that our pair of Angelfish had been cleaning various surfaces in the aquarium, including the filter return pipe, leaves, and the glass on the back of the aquarium. That glass has a lush growth of algae on it. We just observed the pair spawning. We took the following photos over about 15 minutes.

Angelfish Spawning 11 April 2009
Angelfish Spawning 10 April 2009. Male posing for camera.

The pair was having a difficult time concentrating on what they were doing while chasing the other fish away. A few eggs dropped and the male appeared to eat them.

Angelfish take a Spawning Break 11 April 2009
Angelfish take a Spawning Break 10 April 2009

That is the female fish on the right in the image where they are taking a break. On some passes, she would deposit upwards of 7 eggs.

Angelfish Spawn 11 April 2009
Angelfish Spawn 10 April 2009

It is now 5:52 PM and it took a bit of time to format and upload these images. The pair seems to have stopped spawning. The female is fanning the eggs while the male is keeping the Rams and Tetras at bay.

Update: Saturday 11 April 2009, 2:05 PM
We just fished a dead Glowlight Tetra from the tank. Yesterday the Glowlights were fine, eating and swimming energetically, but this morning, it was at the surface acting odd. We suspect this was a premature death, either from eating too many worms yesterday, or by being attacked by the Angelfish, which seem to spend a great deal of time aggressively protecting their territory. For the most part, the other fish have learned to keep away. So, here is our fish count:
Angelfish: 2 (Mated pair )plus many fry and eggs, plus two fish boarded at Tropical Imports.
Blue Rams: 6
Glowlight Tetras: 6
Cardinal Tetras: 8
Blue Emperor Tetras: 6
Black Phantom Tetras: 4
Panda Cats: 5

Update: Sunday 12 April 2009, 6:45 pm
The eggs began hatching today about 2 PM, less than 48 hours after being laid. The parents began moving the hatchlings from spawning 2 to the filter return pipe which was inches away from the spawning site. We questioned the wisdom of this location because whenever a hatchling slipped from its location, the water pressure would shoot it across the tank forcing the parents to make a mad dash to retrieve it. We watched several hatchlings get gobbled up by Tetras and decided to intervene earlier this time. Since the hatchlings were in an easy position for us to remove some of them, we went to Petco to buy more airstones, tubing and a two-way valve for the pump. While working in the 10 gallon nursery tank, we decided to remove some water and we realized that the water at the bottom of the tank was much colder since there is no circulation in the tank right now. We lowered the heater to hopefully correct the discrepancy in the temperature and we removed two turkey basters full of hatchlings, putting them in a fry tank with the java fern to cling to. Then we photographed the remaining hatchlings in the community aquarium.

Hatchlings 4 hours old
Hatchlings 4 hours old

We had a few losses from the first batch of fry in the past two days. We believe 5 fry died. There are currently 3 fry that do not look well. They are smaller and don’t have full bellies like their siblings. We hope the changes we made this evening don’t upset the temperature and cause more losses. We also believe that we may have an opportunity in the future before the second spawning become free swimming to remove additional hatchlings, but we don’t want to do it too soon. We think it is better for the parents to care for the youngsters at this point.

Update: Friday 24 April 2009, 2:09 AM
Though there haven’t been any updates, much has happened in the past two weeks.  Both batches of fry are cohabitating in the 10 gallon tank with two java ferns in pots and two airstones.  The largest of the fry, now about 24 days after the eggs were laid, are beginning to change and are starting to look more like angelfish.  They are about a centimeter in length.  We still feed baby brine shrimp, either live or frozen, at least twice a day.  We siphon the water from the bottom of the tank and replace about a gallon of water almost everyday.  Very few fry are dying.  We also have our 50 gallon tank set up.  We picked it up last weekend and filled it with water, flourite gravel and live plants.  On Monday past we added 4 Platies as the cycle fish.  Kurt talked us into getting them instead of the Rummy Nosed Tetras we had our eye on since the Platies are hardier fish.  We are a bit nervous about moving the young Angelfish into the larger tank before we have coaxed them to take dry flake food since we fear they will never find the baby brine shrimp in such a large tank.  This weekend, we will attempt to take some photos of the fry and the new aquarium.

Letter 51 – Our Angelfish have Spawned!!!!!


Breaking News: 31 March 2009: 8:22 PM
Well, we figured out why our Angelfish have been acting so aggressively. They spawned. There are eggs on the leaf of a plant facing away from the front of the tank. We got suspicious because two angels kept cleaning the leaf and they were chasing all fish out of the territory, including the adorable Panda Cats.

Angelfish tends to Eggs
Angelfish tends to Eggs

We managed to get a few blurry photos before the camera batteries died. It was difficult to get a good angle on the eggs. Just before noticing the eggs, we got this nice image of the couple.

Pair of Angelfish
Pair of Angelfish

This definitely explains the aggressive behavior. Guess we won’t be getting those Rams we wanted. We might need to try to pawn our injured Angelfish off on Dean at Tropical Imports. We can’t believe five days after buying our Angelfish we have had a spawning. The aggression obviously began at Pasadena Tropical Fish before we brought our four fish home. A bit more research has revealed that our Angelfish are Silver Pearlscales, we believe.

Update: 2 April 2009: 10:00 PM
We worked a long shift yesterday and returned home to find the injured Angelfish hiding in the top corner. We decided that upon returning from work today, we would take it to Tropical Imports to board for a time to see if the pectoral fins grew back and the fish could be reintroduced to our aquarium. things seemed different. The Angelfish were no longer near the leaf where the spawning occurred and the Tetras were now in that area of the tank. The Angelfish had been keeping them away. We looked at the eggs and they were all gone except for a single fungus riddled egg. We assumed the Angelfish had eaten their spawn and that was that. We talked to Dean, caught the injured Angelfish, and took him to the shop. The new Rams that had arrived Monday were gorgeous, so we bought 4. Upon getting them home, we had inverse buyer’s remorse, and returned to buy 2 more. We then went to our Land Use meeting. When we got back home, we were in for a surprise. Most of the fish were on the left side of the tank, and the Angelfish were in the lower right. We looked closer at a leaf that was getting too much attention, and low and behold, there were hatched fry clinging to the leaf wriggling in the current. The eggs had hatched during the day and the parents moved the hatchlings.

Angelfish with Hatchlings 2 April 2009
Angelfish with Hatchlings 2 April 2009

We have Fry!!!
Things were getting even more interesting. It seems as though all three Angelfish are keeping their tankmates at bay. Could our fish be having a Ménage à Trois??? It seems that it may be so. We believe we have heard of this behavior before. Had we known that the spawn was still viable, we might not have gotten the Rams, but now they are in the tank. They seem to be happy, and we wonder how even three parents are going to protect the hatchlings once they are free swimming. Dare we get another aquarium? This has gotten to be a very expensive endeavor. At least we are doing our bit for economic stimulus.

Angelfish and Hatchlings 2 April 2009
Angelfish and Hatchlings 2 April 2009

One of the Angelfish seems to be paying the most attention to the hatchlings, and the other two are playing guard duty. From what we have been reading, Angelfish are sometimes difficult to induce to spawn. Seems our fish are the exception. Even Dean was surprised when he saw the size of the Angelfish we brought in to board. He thought it looked small to be spawning size. At that point in time, we were under the erroneous assumption that the parents had eaten the eggs.

Update: 4 April 2009: 5:48 AM
It seems the fry are gone. But where is the question. We turn on the hall light in the morning so just a bit of light spills into the aquarium. We don’t turn on the aquarium light until there is daylight in the room and the tank is now on a timer from 3 PM to about 11:45 PM. The fry are not where they were yesterday, which was an excellent location for seeing them. The angelfish are now protecting the rear of the aquarium. Once there is more light in the room, we will try to figure out what is happening. When we returned home last night, the fry were noticeably larger. Here is a nice website with a good photo chronicle of spawning angelfish in a community aquarium and how the owner successfully reared young. I am going to try to borrow an aquarium from Daryl next door and then get a few cheap accessories today from Tropical Imports. I will try to do this late morning today, and if Daryl is not home, I may just buy a ten gallon aquarium from Tropical Imports because I want to include some of the water I siphon out of the original tank which is a task for today. I hope Dean buys brine shrimp eggs.

Update: 4 April 2009: 3:00 PM
We siphoned water out of the aquarium to fill the 10 Gallon JEBO R338 aquarium Daryl let us use. The filter works and the heater works and the pump works, but the hood need a new bulb and starter. After we refilled the aquarium with fresh water, we noticed that the fry had been moved again to the crown of a sucker Amazon Sword Plant. We keep accusing the Angelfish of being bad parents that may be eating the spawn, and they continue to pleasantly surprise us.

Angelfish Fry 4 April 2009

Now that we are certain we still have fish, we will try to get a few out and put them in the new aquarium before they get sucked into the filter, get eaten, or have some other tragedy befall them.

Intervention: Sunday 4 April 2009: 9:36 PM
We set up the aquarium Daryl gave us and went to Tropical Imports with a list of things to get. Sadly, we didn’t get all we wanted. We wanted brine shrimp eggs, an aeration stone, small tubing, large tubing for a siphon, a plastic box for holding fish with a clamp on the side, a new bulb for the light, a starter for the light, plants for the new aquarium, charcoal filter cartridge and filtering medium. We didn’t get the brine shrimp eggs, one of the most important items. Then we went to the fabric store and bought ivory bridal organza to cover the filter intake so the fry don’t get sucked up. We called other aquarium stores but either they didn’t have brine shrimp eggs or they were closed. We finally thought of E-Que and Wacko as places that might have Sea Monkeys, but Y-Que didn’t answer and Wacko was closing in 15 minutes, but they had Sea Monkeys. They will open tomorrow at noon and I guess I will be waiting for the door to open. Then we prepared a critter catcher plastic tank by filling it with aquarium water, adding the aeration stone and a plant and floating it in the aquarium. We tried to siphon off a few of the fry, and inadvertently caught more than we intended. We only wanted to get about 10, but we suspect we got about 30. We put them in the floating plastic tank and left the remaining fry for the parents to protect.

Fry Tank
Fry Tank

We managed to take a few photos of the fry in the fry tank.

Fry 20090404
Fry: Day 6 after spawning 20090404

Some of the fry are on the bottom of the fry tank and others are clinging to the pot with the Java Fern. Their yolk sacs are still quite large, so the Sea Monkeys will have a few days to hatch once we buy them. Once the fry have been free swimming for a few days, we will transfer the ones in the fry tank to the prepared 10 gallon JEBO tank.

Fry 20090404
Fry: Day 6 after spawning 20090404

Update: Monday 6 April 2009, 8:50 AM
We photographed our Rams yesterday, but the images are a bit blurry.

Blue Rams
Blue Rams

The fry we siphoned from the brood are still not free swimming and are still in the floating fry tank. Parents have noticed them and keep trying to retrieve them through the plastic in order to return them to the nursery they continue to move and guard. Yesterday, the nursery was moved to a difficult to see location, and we believe it is still in the same location. We covered the filter intake with organza to keep the fry from being sucked inot our filter. We are uncertain how many fry are remaining in the parent’s care since they are so difficult to see between the plants. We bought frozen baby brine shrimp in the event our brine shrimp eggs don’t hatch before they are needed. We wasted $10 on a Sea Monkey kit that included a crazy plastic tank. There were some, in our opinion, unnecessary items like water conditioner, and it seems the eggs are included in the salt package, and there only seems to be about 100 eggs. Nowhere near enough to feed our soon to be hungry brood. Luckily Pasadena Tropical Fish had the Brine Shrimp eggs and the frozen baby brine shrimp, justifying our drive yesterday afternoon to east Pasadena. We just photographed the parents trying to retrieve the fry, but we haven’t turned on the aquarium light yet.

Angelfish:  parent tries to retrieve fry
Angelfish: parent tries to retrieve fry

Update: Monday 6 April 2009, 9:30 PM
There was good news and bad news today. First we moved the plastic critter catcher tank into the nursery tank in the bathroom and floated it to stablize the temperature. The fry started swimming freely today and we fed them some newly hatched brine shrimp this afternoon. They had another healthy feeding of newly hatched brine shrimp after we returned from work. You can see their bulging pink bellies.

Free Swimming Fry 6 April 2009, 9:30 PM
Free Swimming Fry: Day 7 after spawing 6 April 2009, 9:30 PM

The bad news is that we cannot locate the fry in the community tank and the parent Angelfish are not guarding any portions of the tank. They seem to be more peaceful as well. We suspect that as the fry started free swimming, they got eaten by the Rams and Tetras. We removed the organza from the filter intake since it was clogged and the filter was not working very well. We are contemplating getting another aquarium, a 40 Regular, to raise our little Anglefish. Chances are the parents will spawn again in a week or two and we are going to try to continue to save some of the hatchlings. We don’t like the idea of trying to take eggs away from the parents, but siphoning our some of the small fry before they are free swimming worked nicely. That second aquarium would be a nice place to try keeping a Discus or two as well.

Free Swimming Fry 6 April 2009, 9:30 PM
Free Swimming Fry 6 April 2009, 9:30 PM

Update: Friday 10 April, 2009, 8:10 AM
Our Fry are growing!!!
Several things have happened since we last updated this page. Two of the Angelfish began harassing the third Angelfish. It was getting bad. Scales were flying and the poor guy that was low on the pecking order was hiding, but constantly pursued by the aggressive pair. Seems the nontraditional relationship had run its course and the dominant fish had won out. Wednesday afternoon, we took the battered Angelfish to join its former tankmate at Tropical Imports and we ordered a 50 gallon aquarium for housing the growing fry. We know the fry will not be ready for that new home for at least a month, but the tank will not be delivered until next Friday anyways. We will then have two to three weeks for the tank to cycle before we introduce the brood to a new home. We also have plans to reclaim the two Angelfish that are boarding at Tropical Imports. Hopefully, separated from the aggressive pair, they will be able to cohabitate in peace. We are not really fearful of them fighting with the sexually immature fry.

Angelfish Fry:  Day 11 after spawning
Angelfish Fry: Day 11 after spawning

Speaking of the fry, they are growing. We have been feeding them newly hatched baby brine shrimp nauplii, and we hope to wean them onto frozen baby brine (much less trouble for us) and dry food in the next few days before we resume work. The fry are still in the small fry tank, and we don’t want to move them into the 10 gallon nursery tank just yet. The fry tank is floating in the nursery tank so that the heater can keep the water at 84º-86º F.

Angelfish Fry:  Day 11 after spawning (10 April 2009)
Angelfish Fry: Day 11 after spawning (10 April 2009)

The pair seem to be preparing to spawn again, 11 days after the first spawning. The breeding tubes have been extended for a few days now, the male’s appearing first. They are cleaning various sites, including the filter return pipe near the top of the aquarium. We don’t like that location as we often feed the fish from that point. We suppose the parents know best though, and we will modify the feeding routine if necessary.

Update: 24 April 2009, 2:05 AM
We just located this account of Breeding Angelfish that is quite similar to what we did, except our pair did care for the eggs and newly hatched fry.

Letter 52 – Our New Aquarium


Friday, 13 March, 2009
Last week we decided to take the plunge and set up that long desired aquarium. We ordered a 40 gallon tall tank with plain pne cabinet from Tropical Imports on Colorado Boulevard in Glendale California. The staff, especially Dean, has been most helpful with advice, remaining courteous despite often numerous telephone calls a day. It took a week for the aquarium to arrive, but Monday past, 9 March, it arrived and we brought it home. Luckily Frank was riding his bicycle past the house and he helped us carry the heavy aquarium into the living room. That day we stained the cabinet Mediterranean Olive with the left over stain from the bathroom remodel. Tuesday afternoon we polyurethaned the cabinet and asked neighbor Daryl to help put the tank on the stand. It took several hours to set up the Rena XP3 cannister filter, fill the tank with three bags of flourite gravel, arrange the stone bridge, plant the Amazon Sword, Giant Sagittaria Eel Grass and Papyrus from the outdoor fountain, and finally fill the tank with water. We primed the filter, dechlorinated the water and tested the Ph which came in at 7.6. Since we put peat in the filter, we hoped to reduce the alkalinity in a few days so we could add some Amazon Tetras. Dave from Tropical Imports convinced us to buy a CO2 system to keep the plants healthy. In two days after the Ph had dropped to 7.2, we returned to Tropical Imports and bought the “canary in the coal mine” which consisted of six Glowlight Tetras, Hemigrammus erthrozonus, which are barely visible on the left side of the tank under the thermometer. Our impatience began to get the best of us and we were chomping at the bit to buy a school of Emperor Tetras as well. We returned to Tropical Imports a few hours later and bought twelve of the little beauties, only to find after doing some web research that there are several similar looking species that are sold as Emperor Tetras. We believe we got the Blue Emperor Tetra, Inpaichthys kerri, which has an adipose fin, and not the true Emperor Tetra, Nematobrycon palmeri, which has the trident tail on the male. Alas, we will grow to love our Blue Emperor Tetras despite the error in our purchase. In the future, we plan to get additional Tetras, Angel Fish, Rams, and maybe even a Discus or two.

Aquarium:  March 12, 2009
Aquarium: March 12, 2009

Next Morning: Friday the 13 of March, 2009, all the fish are still alive and swimming.

Update: Monday 16 March 2009
Against the advice we received at Tropical Imports, we decided to introduce more fish. First, we returned one Blue Emperor Tetra that was not eating and was looking kind of bloated with portruding scales. Nervous that it might have some contageous disease, and without a proper quarantine area, the tetra went back to the store and we didn’t even ask for a refund. It seems the delicate amonia/nitrite/nitrate balance is still a bit confusing to us. Fish produce ammonia, and that contributes to the nitrate levels. Plants help convert the toxic ammonia and nitrite into nitrate, and bacteria is also necessary for this whole process. At our age, the learning curve on this might be steep.
Until the aquarium finds a balance, it is typical to just introduce a few “cycle fish” until the tank is seasoned. But we were impatient, hence the purchase of the Blue Emperor Tetras. Things did get worse. We bought 10 Cardinal Tetras, Paracheirodon axelrodi, on Saturday from Sunset Aquarium for $23. Alas, this morning, there were two fatalities. If that wasn’t bad enough, we went to Petco in Pasadena yesterday and fell in love with 4 Black Phantom Tetras, Megalamphodus megalopterus, and two more Glowlight Tetras. The new Glowlight Tetras do not have as pronounced an orange stripe as the original 6, but we hope they color up soon. Our tally is now 8 Glowlight Tetras, 11 Blue Emperor Tetras (one of original 12 having been returned), 8 Cardinal Tetras (2 of original 10 deceased after 36 hours) and 4 Black Phantom Tetras. We know we have two many fish right now for an unseasoned tank that needs cycling, but our error will hopefully not result in mass annihilation if we monitor our tank balance. Our reasoning was that the fish were small, and they have more than a gallon of water each. This morning we plan to buy a few more plants and get a siphon hose so we can do a partial water change soon. We are about to test and post our water results.

Water Test 20090316
Water Test 20090316

Here are the results of our water tests from bottom to top
Nitrate: .25 ppm
Ammonia: 1.0 ppm
pH: 7.2
Nitrate: 5.0 ppm
We now must buy some siphon tubing in preparation for a partial water change. We also want to get a few more plants and a tool to reach the bottom of the very tall tank.

We did buy the siphon system as well as a long handled plant pruner/planter. We got a few plants, but the names escape us. One looked like a spadderdock, and Dean through in a few clippings of water wisteria that are floating on top. When we siphoned out 8 Gallons of water, we replaced 5 gallons of Yosemite bottled water.

Update: 19 March 2009
We tested the water again and the nitrite levels seem to be rising. Here are the results.
Nitrite: 2.0 ppm
Nitrate: 5.0 ppm
pH: 7.0
Ammonia: .5
We added more of the Cycle Bacteria culture and we had a few more fish casualties. We lost one Blue Emperor Tetra and one of the Petco Glowlights.

Water Test 20090319
Water Test 20090319

Update: 21 March 2009
We tested the water this morning and have these results.
Nitrite: 2.0 ppm
Nitrate: 5.0 ppm
pH: 7.0
Ammonia: .25

We have also had additional fish losses. We currently have 8 Blue Emperor Tetras (though one does not look so good), 7 Glowlight Tetras, 8 Cardinal Tetras and 4 Black Phantom Tetras (perhaps we are being paranoid, but one does not seem as active as the other three). The algae is starting to grow on the glass, so we may head to Tropical Imports to buy a glass scraper. The papyrus is beginning to throw up new shoots. We will do a 5 to 8 gallon water change today and add more Cycle. The last time we changed water, we didn’t fill the tank to the top, allowing about 3 inches for plants to grow out of the water.

Water Test 20090321
Water Test 20090321

So, the ammonia is improving, but the Nitrites are still high.

Update: 22 March 2009
After testing the water yesterday, I changed about 8 gallons of water. I carefully tempered the water so it would not be too cold, but after changing the water, the aquarium temperature was 72 degrees. I discovered that the heater wasn’t working and returned it. I checked the names of the plants I last bought, Cryptocoryne red wendtii and Java Fern. I also bought a new Cryptocoryne spiralis. I also bought an algae scraper. When I planted the new plants, I rearranged the rocks a bit to provide more planting room behind and on both sides.

Today, I found a new aquarium store in Pasadena called Pasadena Tropical Fish. Imagine my delight to find 4 gorgeous striped Angelfish, but upon talking to Natalie, she persuaded me that my water was still not properly cycled to introduce new fish. I did buy $28 in plants and convinced Natalie to hold the Angelfish for a week. I came home and tested the water. Nitrate is between 1. and 2. ppm and Ammonia is still a nontoxic .25 ppm. Natalie believes in a week my tank should be ready for the Angelfish. There have been no new casualties with the Tetras.

Aquarium 20090322
Aquarium 20090322

Update: 23 March 2009
I tested the water first thing this morning because I am eager to get those Angelfish. Here are the results.
Nitrite: 2.0 ppm
Nitrate: 20.0 ppm
pH: 7.2
Ammonia: 0 ppm

Water Test 20090323
Water Test 20090323

Unlike the first image, I am standardizing my water tests from left to right: Nitrate, Nitrate, pH and Ammonia. I should probably do a bit of research on this entire nitrogen cycle thing.

“Nitrogen Cycle by Shirley Sharpe

Call it cycling, nitrification, biological cycle, startup cycle, break-in cycle, or the nitrogen cycle. No matter what name you use, every newly set up aquarium goes through a process of establishing beneficial bacterial colonies. Older aquariums also go through periods during which the bacterial colonies fluctuate. Failure to understand this process is the largest contributing factor to the loss of fish. Learning what it is, and how to deal with critical periods during the nitrogen cycle, will greatly increase your chances of successful fish keeping.

The Waste Problem
Unlike nature, an aquarium is a closed environment. All the wastes excreted from the fish, uneaten food, and decaying plants stay inside the tank. If nothing eliminated those wastes, your beautiful aquarium would turn into a cesspool in no time at all.

Actually, for a short period of time, a new aquarium does become a toxic cesspool. The water may look clear, but don’t be fooled. It’s loaded with toxins. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Fortunately bacteria that are capable of converting wastes to safer by-products begin growing in the tank as soon as fish are added. Unfortunately there aren’t enough bacteria to eliminate all the toxins immediately, so for a period of several weeks to a month or more, your fish are at risk.

However, you need not lose them. Armed with an understanding of how the nitrogen cycle works and knowing the proper steps to take, you can sail through the break-in cycle with very few problems.

Stages of the Nitrogen Cycle
There are three stages of the nitrogen cycle, each of which presents different challenges.

Initial stage: The cycle begins when fish are introduced to the aquarium. Their feces, urine, as well as any uneaten food, are quickly broken down into either ionized or unionized ammonia. The ionized form, Ammonium (NH4), is present if the pH is below 7, and is not toxic to fish. The unionized form, Ammonia (NH3), is is present if the pH is 7 or above, and is highly toxic to fish. Any amount of unionized Ammonia (NH3) is dangerous, however once the levels reach 2 ppm, the fish are in grave danger. Ammonia usually begins rising by the third day after introducing fish.

Second stage: During this stage Nitrosomonas bacteria oxidize the ammonia, thus eliminating it. However, the by-product of ammonia oxidation is nitrite, which is also highly toxic to fish. Nitrites levels as low as low as 1 mg/l can be lethal to some fish. Nitrite usually begins rising by the end of the first week after introducing fish.

Third stage: In the last stage of the cycle, Nitrobacter bacteria convert the nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates are not highly toxic to fish in low to moderate levels. Routine partial water changes will keep the nitrate levels within the safe range. Established tanks should be tested for nitrates every few months to ensure that levels are not becoming extremely high.

Now that you know what is happening, what should you do? Simple steps such as testing and changing the water will help you manage the nitrogen cycle without losing your fish. For details about what to do next, continue to Page 2.

(Continued from Page 1)
What To Do
The key for success is testing the water for ammonia and nitrites, and taking action quickly when problems occur. To aid in tracking the status of your aquarium, links to charts for logging your tests can be found under the charts section of this page. Each chart shows the danger zones and offers steps to reduce toxins before they result in loss of your fish.

Test for ammonia: Begin testing on day three after adding the fish, and continue every day until the ammonia begins to drop. After it begins to fall, continue testing every other day until the ammonia reaches zero. Using the chart provided, plot the ammonia levels. Should ammonia reach the danger zone, take steps as shown on the chart. If at any time fish show signs of distress, such as rapid breathing (gilling), clamped fins, erratic swimming, or hanging at the surface for air, take immediate action to lower the ammonia level. Chemicals such as Ammo-Lock will quickly neutralize toxic ammonia.

Test for nitrites: Begin testing one week after adding the fish. Continue testing every second or third day, until it reaches zero. Using the chart provided, plot the nitrite levels and take steps as shown on the chart if nitrite reaches the danger zone. If at any time fish show signs of distress, such as rapid breathing or hanging near the surface seemingly gasping for air, test for nitrite. If levels are elevated perform an immediate 25-50% water change and test daily until levels drop.

What Not To Do
Don’t add more fish – wait until the cycle is completed.

Don’t change the filter media – the beneficial bacteria are growing there. Don’t disturb them until they have become well established.

Don’t overfeed the fish – when in doubt underfeed your fish. Remember that anything going into the tank will produce wastes one way or another.

Don’t try to alter the pH – the beneficial bacteria can be affected by changes in pH. Unless there is a serious problem with the pH, leave it alone during the startup cycle process.

Have questions? Continue to Page 3 for answers to the most commonly asked questions.

(Continued from Page 2)
Q: Will adding bacteria solutions, such as those available at pet shops, eliminate the break-in cycle?
A: No, due to lack of an ongoing supply of ammonia and oxygen, the nitrification bacteria cannot survive in a bottle for a prolonged period of time. There are manufacturers making special preparations of the nitrogen fixing bateria. However, what you see on the shelf at the store is simply the bacteria needed for the first stage of the cycle, not nitritfying bacteria. Since the bacteria needed for the first stage of the cycle is already present in the tank once it is set up, there is no need to purchase more of what you already have.

Q: Will changing the water lengthen the time of the cycle?
A: It is true that partial water changes decrease the level of ammonia and nitrites, which in turn triggers less growth of the bacteria that feed on them. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t perform water changes. If the ammonia or nitrite levels become too high, the fish will die. That means that partial water changes should be done whenever toxins reach dangerous levels, even if it means if it slows down the completion of the cycle.

Q: Won’t filling the tank and letting it run for several days before adding the fish get the nitrogen cycle going?
A: No, the cycle doesn’t start the instant the tank is set up. An ongoing supply of ammonia must be present for the process to begin. That only happens if fish are in the tank, or ammonia is added regularly, as is done in “fishless cycling”.

Q: A friend started a new aquarium and didn’t test the water or do water changes. In spite of all that, he didn’t lose a single fish. If he can get away with that, why can’t I?
A: Your friend probably had the magic combination of several of these key factors; relatively few fish, very hardy fish, a large aquarium, minimal feeding, live plants, and water with a low pH. While it is possible to get through the startup-cycle without doing anything, it is not wise to leave it to chance. The only way to be sure you don’t lose fish is to test your water to monitor what’s happening, and take steps if ammonia or nitrite levels soar too high.

Q: What if nothing works to bring the levels down?
A: Keep performing water changes and don’t give up. If ammonia or nitrite levels still remain elevated, feel free to e-mail me for help. Be sure to mark your e-mail URGENT, include all the testing values in your e-mail, as well as the size of your tank, number of fish in the tank, and how long your tank has been running. If you wish to have me call you, include a phone number where you may be reached.

Nitrite Poisoning
Nitrite Poisoning
By Shirlie Sharpe , About.com

See More About:
nitrogen cycle
aquarium salt
water changes
Disease Type: Environmental

Cause: Nitrite

Names: Brown Blood Disease, Nitrite Poisoning

Description: Nitrite poisoning follows closely on the heels of ammonia as a major killer of aquarium fish. Just when you think you are home free after losing half your fish to ammonia poisoning, the nitrites rise and put your fish at risk again. Anytime ammonia levels are elevated, elevated nitrites will soon follow. To avoid nitrite poisoning, test when setting up a new tank, when adding new fish to established an tank, when the filter fails due to power or mechanical failure, and when medicating sick fish.
Fish gasp for breath at the water surface
Fish hang near water outlets
Fish is listless
Tan or brown gills
Rapid gill movement

Also known as ‘brown blood disease’ because the blood turns brown from a increase of methemoglobin. However, methemoglobin causes a more serious problem than changing the color of the blood. It renders the blood unable to carry oxygen, and the fish can literally suffocate even though there is ample oxygen present in the water.
Different species of fish tolerate differing levels of nitrite. Some fish may simply be listless, while others may die suddenly with no obvious signs of illness. Common symptoms include gasping at the surface of the water, hanging near water outlets, rapid gill movement, and a change in gill color from tan to dark brown.
Fish that are exposed to even low levels of nitrite for long periods of time suffer damage to their immune system and are prone to secondary diseases, such as ich, fin rot, and bacterial infections. As methemoglobin levels increase damage occurs to the liver, gills and blood cells. If untreated, affected fish eventually die from lack of oxygen, and/or secondary diseases.
Large water change
Add salt, preferably chlorine salt
Reduce feeding
Increase aeration

The addition of one half ounce of salt per gallon of water will prevent methemoglobin from building up. Chlorine salt is preferable, however any aquarium salt is better than no salt at all. Aeration should be increased to provide ample oxygen saturation in the water. Feedings should be reduced and no new fish should be added until the tank until the ammonia and nitrite levels have fallen to zero.
Nitrite is letal at much lower levels than ammonia. Therefore it is critical to continue daily testing and treatment until the nitrite falls to zero.
Stock new tanks slowly
Feed sparingly and remove uneaten food
Change water regularly
Test water regularly to catch problems early

The key to elminating fish death is to avoid extreme spikes and prolonged elevation of nitrites. When starting a new tank, add only a couple of fish initially and do not add more until the tank is completely cycled. In an established tank, only add a couple of new fish at a time and avoid overstocking.
Feed fish small quantities of foods, and remove any food not consumed in five minutes. Clean the tank weekly, taking care to remove an dead plants or other debris. Perform a partial water change at least every other week, more often in small heavily stocked tanks. Always test the water for nitrite after an ammonia spike has occured as there will be a nitrite increase later. ”

Letter 53 – Our Nitrites Have Dropped!!!!!


Update: 25 March 2009, 11:30 PM
We just got home from work after a very late night teaching, and we decided to test the aquarium water nitrites. Can it really be true? Have they really dropped to .25 ppm? Tomorrow morning we will do the battery of tests just to make sure. If the news is true, we will be picking up those gorgeous Angelfish this week. On another note, there is a problem with the plants. At first we thought that the leaves were turning brown, but it appears to be brown algae covering the leaves. We are wondering if the aquarium needed to cycle first before the plants start to thrive. The plants are actually not doing badly except for this brown algae film.
Here is what we found on the Tropical Tank Website: “”Brown algae” (diatoms)
This is often the first algae to appear in a newly set-up tank, where conditions have yet to stabilise. It will often appear around the 2-12 week period, and may disappear as quickly as it arrived when the conditions stabilise after a couple of months. It is essential to minimise nutrient levels to ensure the algae disappears – avoid overfeeding and carry out the appropriate water changes, gravel and filter cleaning, etc. Limiting the light will not deter this algae, as it can grow at low lighting levels and will normally out-compete green algae under these conditions.
If brown algae appears in an established tank, check nitrate and phosphate levels. Increased water changes or more thorough substrate cleaning may be necessary. Using a phosphate-adsorbing resin will also remove silicates, which are important to the growth of this algae. However, as noted above, it is essentially impossible to totally eliminate algae with this strategy alone. Due to its ability to grow at low light levels, this algae may also appear in dimly lit tanks, where old fluorescent bulbs have lost much of their output. If a problem does occur, otocinclus catfish are known to clear this algae quickly, although you may need several for larger tanks, and they can be difficult to acclimatise initially.
There are some very plausible theories as to why this algae often appears in newly set up tanks and then later disappears. If the silicate (Si) to phosphate (P) ratio is high, then diatoms are likely to have a growth advantage over true algae types and Cyanobacteria. Some of the silicate may come from the tapwater, but it will also be leached from the glass of new aquaria, and potentially from silica sand/gravel substrates to some extent. Later, when this leaching has slowed, and phosphate is accumulating in the maturing tank, the Si:P ratio will change in favour of phosphate, which is likely to favour the growth of green algae instead. “

Water Test 26 March 2009
Water Test 26 March 2009

Update: 26 March 2009, 6:30 AM
Well, we tested the water at the crack of dawn and found all was well. The nitrites had in fact dropped to .25 ppm. Here are results:
Nitrites: .25 ppm
Nitrates: 5.0 ppm
pH: 7.0
Ammonia: 0 ppm
So, we are being bad tomorrow and going into work late just so we can get the Angelfish.

Update: 27 March 2009, 8:42 AM
Our nitrites have dropped to 0 ppm.

Update: Sunday 29 March 2009: 5:50 AM
Friday morning we brought home our four beautiful Angelfish. Seems there was a pecking order established in the small tank at Pasadena Tropical Fish where our beauties shared a tank with various gold and marbled angels. One of our fish has stubs for pectoral fins. The smallest of our four Angelfish is an aggressor, and is now nipping the fins on the other fish. We added some Stress Coat+ with Aloe Vera to the water to help with the relocation and to help promote fin regrowth. Other than the situation with the pectoral fins, our new Angelfish have adapted well to their planted home. We have also seen the tetras going for the fins of the Angelfish, but we hope the community we are establishing will get along well. Our Angelfish have the typical wild stripe pattern, but the scales look like crumpled tin foil. We are quite certain we don’t have wild caught fish, and we don’t know the name of this variety. We may have to join some cichlid forum to get information. Yesterday evening, we returned to Tropical Imports and bought two Corydoras Catfish. Dean called them Panda Cats. We need to find out the scientific name. They are so playful. We will probably return today and get two more. We are contemplating getting a small Hypostomus plecostomus to eat algae. The rams we had our eye on when we originally bought the aquarium have been sold, but Dean said a new shipment will be coming in on Monday. Right now, we are thinking the tank may be getting a bit crowded. 40 is not that large in the scheme of things.

Update: 31 March 2009:  7:19 PM
We returned to Tropical Imports Sunday morning and bought three more Panda Corydoras Catfish.  They are so cute when they school together.  We continue to be concerned about our injured Angelfish.  The other Angelfish continue to nip its already stumpy pectoral fins.  It seems all the Angelfish are acting aggressively toward one another.

Three Angelfish Sparring
Three Angelfish Sparring

The injured fish has locked lips with the most aggressive of its companions as if to say “Don’t push me around,” yet it generally hangs out near the surface, trying to avoid the other Angelfish.  The other three, though they fight, seem to spend time together.  Another Emperor Tetra casualty today.  Perhaps they were just not meant for this tank.  Of the remaining seven, six school together and one hangs out alone at the bottom of the tank near the rocks.
Fish Count is as follows.
Glowlight Tetras 7
Blue Emperor Tetras 7
Cardinal Tetras 8
Black Phantom Tetras 4
Angelfish 4 (though I am considering asking Dean if I can board the injured fish at Tropical Imports to see if its fins grow back)
Panda Cats 5
I haven’t checked if the Rams arrived yesterday.  Dean suggested I wait a few days to see how they are doing before I buy any.
Water is still doing fine.  There is no detectable nitrite nor ammonia and the pH is still 7.  I bought worms for the fish on Saturday, and they love them.  The injured Angelfish has a good appetite at least.  I also bought a timer so the lights can go on automatically at 3 PM while it is still daylight.  The room is dark, but there is some indirect daylight that reaches the aquarium.  The lights are set to go off at 11 PM.  I may change that to 11:30 to accommodate my late return on Wednesday nights.


I shot some photos of my Angelfish to include in this post.  There was a slow shutter speed, so there is movement when the fish are sparring.

Letter 54 – Paris and Helen raise a brood


Aquarium Update:  May 9, 2012
There has been so much change and transition in the aquaria.  First a silver pair of Angelfish paired off and were moved to the aquarium by the window where they are living with their three day free swimming fry.  What I believe is a pair of golden Angelfish (I decided I would name the first gold fish to produce viable fry Paris, be it male or female.  Seems I most likely have a pair of golden Angelfish.  There are wrigglers and also a batch of non viable eggs, but they seem to have formed a relationship with a silver striped Angelfish.  I am reluctant to narrow the tank to two fish until I am sure who laid the viable eggs.  The viable eggs were laid on a piece of slate. The hatchlings were moved.  The three silver Angelfish and one gold fish stayed behind the slate when fry were moved to plant in foreground.  Then more eggs were laid on the plant in the foreground, but I am not sure by which fish.  There is little doubt the pair are the gold fish.  Three of the fish were taken to Tropical Imports, but then the third fish seemed to join the pair.

Paris in the back and Helen on the right.

On the light green leaf on the left in the aquarium is a brood of wrigglers that were moved shortly after I took this photo.  In the foreground are the nonviable eggs turning white.

Helen, probably the female in the pair.

Update:  May 18, 2012
I could tell the fry were hidden in the back of the large plant, however, I couldn’t see them.  Then the fry were moved into view.  As soon as the fry started swimming, I came home to find the silver anglefish, still unnamed, gobbling up swimming fry.  I got a bit nervous and caught him and just dumped him unceremoniously into the aquarium in the bathroom, the nursery aquarium.  A few minutes later, I noticed three fry in the nursery aquarium with him.  I scooped them out with a cup and returned them to Paris and Helen.  I still am not certain if Paris fertilized the eggs.  I think I will keep the striped male until I am certain, however, I may ask Tropical Imports to board him.



Letter 55 – Photo 7 Shutter Speed Control: The year old Angels are Pairing Off


March 5, 2012
There hasn’t been an update on the Angelfish in quite some time, and Lefty’s and Digitalis’ gorgeous offspring have begun to pair off.  I save 17 beauties, 4 gold and the remainder striped.  A gold female is here seen defending her eggs from her tankmates.  She is the blur, captured at 1/8 second in shutter priority mode.

Golden Female Angelfish protects her off-camera eggs

She has a striped mate.  Previously they laid eggs twice on the vertically inclined rock on the right.  No young have hatched from the eggs yet.

Blurred Golden Angelfish

Photo 7 Design Elements
These photos were shot between 10 and 11 AM this past Saturday, March 3, 2012 in Cypress Park.  They represent work shot for assignment 1:  Design Elements.


Future Street


Some Side Street


San Fernando Road


San Fernando Road


North Figueroa Street

Balance/Depth Perception

Cypress Avenue.  The funny thing about this photo is that it is a reshoot.  At some point, when turning the camera on and off, the mode changed from “program” to “manual” after passing through “shutter priority” and “aperture priority” with varying degrees of overexposure.  Upon returning to the market parking lot to reshoot, the shadows had moved in the chosen shot.  This was noticed after reshooting the original composition with the proper exposure.








Letter 56 – Robin Hood and the Gold Male have a family of Fry


Thursday November 21, 2019
The thing that I cursed most today is the thing that also gave me a happy ending.  Much earlier today, the Academic Senate met and I passed a consent calendar with well over 100 course updates before having to give a report on other curricular matters as they affect the campus at large, largely a redundant statement.  I decided to change some water in the aquarium, and while siphoning out some water, the accident happened  and finally, after at least a month of trying, I caught the Rummy Nose Tetra, and without even bothering to try to acclimate it, I dropped it into the aquarium that creates such gorgeous prisms during the summer.  That aquarium has become a 1 each of a different species aquarium of survivors with a Cardinal Tetra, a Serpae Tetra, a South American Ram, the oldest fish in the aquarium that survived the heatwave last year, a
Plecostomus that has plenty of algae to eat and no competition for eating it that I am hoping is in such a favorable environment that it will live for so long that I am never without the aquarium.  Then there are the three Angelfish that were one by one chased from the home where they grew up: the Angelfish Abel always called the Black Swan, the Koi Angelfish female that hasn’t quite chosen between the two others, and the silver male that Abel said was labeled blue in the store where he found him.

The Black Swan and Blue battle while the coy Koi toys with their affections.

It’s time to start the Brine Shrimp.  The pair that defended their territory, the Gold Angelfish and the black lace Angelfish that Abel called Robin Hood are now alone in the 40 gallon aquarium with their third and largest and only surviving brood that were already traumatized because the glass that fell into the water crashed into the leaf they were all clustered on destroying the nursery where a wriggling mass of tadpole-like fry that had not yet started swimming.  The moment I got off the ladder and I saw the damage I had done to the nursery, I knew the fry that had dispersed would only get eaten if I didn’t get that Tetra out of there immediately.  The Tetra was already swimming around chomping down on all the fry that had dislodged during the accident and fallen to the bottom of the aquarium.  The couple, after two attempts to raise a brood, had finally figured where to lay their eggs successfully out of reach of the Tetra and my clumsiness caused me to cuss at the glass that if it hadn’t fallen into the water would not have triggered the chain of events that I hope leads to a new family of well-fed Angelfish fry when I return from Ohio after Thanksgiving, and after gasping, up-side-down and dazed at the bottom of the other aquarium for several minutes, that wily old Rummy Nose Tetra that had been eluding the net for the past month and for a good ten minutes today is swimming again.

Robin Hood (top) and the Gold Angelfish after gathering their scattered fry.

Letter 57 – Some Fry Get Moved; Boris and Media Luna spawn again


July 22, 2009
We took some photos of Lefty and Digitalis and the Fry this afternoon.  We planned to start moving the fry because the fry are beginning to pick at their parents.  The fins are getting ragged.  We also caught 11 of the largest Anglefish from the 50 gallon aquarium (which we now believe is a 40 gallon aquarium) and sold them to Tropical Imports.  We got credit towards some food.

Lefty, Digitalis and Fry
Lefty (top), Digitalis and Fry

After catching the 11 fish, there should have been 132 remaining if none died and vanished.  I then added 36 fry from Lefty’s latest brood, bringing the total in the 50 gallon aquarium to 168.  One of the new transfers did not look well and may have been injured in the netting process.

Lefty, Digitalis and Fry
Lefty (top), Digitalis and Fry

Tomorrow I may try to transfer the remaining fry from Lefty’s tank and the largest fry from the nursery aquarium.

Lefty and Fry
Lefty and Fry

July 24, 2009
Yesterday, Boris and Media Luna spawned again on the heater.  I knew this was coming as they got territorial the night before and chased everyone away.  They also were cleaning the heater and the filter intake pipe.  I shot some photos today.  Boris is in the shot with the eggs.  I expect them to hatch tonight or tomorrow morning.  It is very warm in LA right now.

Boris with yesterday's spawn
Boris with yesterday's spawn

I also captured 16 more fry that were in Lefty and Digitalis’ tank.  The young fry are picking at the parents and the fins are beginning to look ragged.  The fry are definitely large enough to move to the grow out aquarium.  Total should be 184 if there have been no casualties.  I caught the final (I think) 9 fry and moved them as well, bringing the total to 193-1.  The 1 was a casualty.  One fish in the aquarium got squashed between the glass wall and the plastic tank.

Update:  More fry moved and Boris and Media Luna spawn again.
July 26, 2009
Today I moved 8 fry from the nursery aquarium to the grow out aquarium.  These were the biggest fry I could catch.  I need to make room in the nursery aquarium because Boris and Media Luna spawned again a few days ago.  The fry hatched yesterday.  I also noticed that there is at least one fry remaining in the tank with Lefty and Digitalis, but I was unable to catch it and haven’t even seen it again since noticing it this morning.

Later in the day I caught the remaining young fry in Lefty’s aquarium.  There should be 201 fry from various generations and parents in the grow out tank now.

Letter 58 – Technical Difficulties


December 3, 2011 @ 12:33 AM.
We have been experiencing technical difficulties.  On Wednesday afternoon, the Santa Ana winds began to pick up and by 6:30 PM, we noticed transformers blowing and lighting up the sky.  During the night, the power went out four or five times, and shortly after 1 AM Thursday, the howling wind twisted and snapped a large tree near our offices.  Around 8: 40 AM, shortly after leaving for our day jobs, the lights went out at our Mt Washington offices for nearly 36 hours.  Without power, we were unable to answer any emails or to post any new content.  The power returned at about 6:30 PM on Friday, December 2, about an hour before we returned to the offices.  Our first priority was to check on the aquaria and remove the quilts they were wrapped in.  With no electricity and no heat, the aquarium water dropped from the Amazonian 80s to the low 60s despite our having boiled some rain water the night before and adding it to raise the temperature to about 70.  We did that a second time at about 1 PM today, that time boiling about 2 1/2 gallons from each aquarium that was returned hot, again raising the temperature to about 72.  This afternoon the warming was accompanied by the quilt wrap.  Boris and Medea Luna, Lefty and Digitalis’ 16 fledgelings, and the summer spawns all survived.  One small fry in the bathroom died, leaving five siblings from a very small brood.

Boris and Medea Luna July 2011

Letter 59 – Things to do in the Aquarium in August


The Aquarium Update
July 28, 2011
Sixteen of Lefty and Digitalis’ most beautiful children, 12 silver and black and 4 gold, are living happily in the 40 gallon tall aquarium with a small plecostomus.  They are gorgeous fledgelings and I expect they may begin to pair off in the near future.

Fledgelings July 28, 2011

They may get a new roommate.  Boris has become a bully.  I may need to split up him and Medea Luna.  She nips his tail and he bites her pectoral fins.  Boris is a biter.  Look what he did to poor Lefty 2 1/2 years ago.  Adding Medea Luna to this aquarium might not be a good idea.  That might upset a balanced aquarium.  Perhaps one day I should just move her and a new clutch of eggs to the window aquarium.  But what about the plecostomus?  Such decisions.

Boris (left) and Medea Luna and an old Cardinal Tetra

Boris has also gotten considerably larger than Medea Luna.  He has become a bull Cichlid.
The stories of Boris and Medea Luna’s two recent broods will continue tomorrow.
I moved 5 fry from the bathroom nursery aquarium to the new grow out aquarium near the window.  Then I moved 8 more.  I keep trying to catch the biggest fry.

Update:  Next morning
July 29, 2011
I have six more fry acclimating for transfer.  Any doubts I had about the 2 1/2 inch Plecostomus eating the fry seem to be dispelled by this Aquarium Forum posting.  There are so many places to hide in the new grow out aquarium.  I only saw 11 of the 13 fry this morning.

July 30, 2011
I moved 11 more fry today and I noticed one got trapped in the filter intake.  I reduced the filter flow to keep that from happening again.  Since I had moved the largest fry from the nursery aquarium, I decided to move the second batch of fry, just about a week old, into the nursery aquarium with their older siblings.  At around 1 week of age, I tend to have a significant die off of the weakest of the fry, and the same happened today, with the weaklings being picked on by their older siblings.

Update:  August 8, 2011
I know I moved 16 more fry today.  If I did not lose count, I have moved at least 46 fry.  When I moved the younger fry into the nursery aquarium with their older siblings, I had a major die off, probably losing almost the entire second batch.  Boris and Medea Luna laid more eggs the other day and they hatched last night.  They are guarding their new fry and I will give it a few days before removing them.  I would really like to get all the fry out of the nursery aquarium this time.

Update:  August 11, 2011
After the fiasco of losing so many fry by combining generations, I made sure to empty the entire nursery aquarium of fry, transfering them to the growout aquarium this afternoon.  There were at least 33 of the smallest fry, but they are all now too large to be severely compromised by their larger siblings.  Previously, over the past few days, I moved 11 other fry.  That would make close to 90 growing fry in the growout aquarium.  Then I removed the newest wrigglers as Boris and Medea Luna attacked the turkey baster.  I should consider moving the couple back to their original aquarium and then moving the fledgelings into the community aquarium.  Then Boris and Medea Luna will be able to raise a family without fear of predation by the tetras.  That is just a thought.  The wrigglers are now in a small container with aeration that is floating in the nursery aquarium.  The now empty nursery aquarium, except for one large snail, is awaiting their arrival.

Letter 60 – Three Gold Angelfish moved into 40 Tall Aquarium


June 7, 2010
About a week ago, I named the prettiest Gold Fledgling Angelfish Paris, and this evening I moved Paris and two other gold fledglings born last summer into the aquarium with Boris and Medea Luna.

Paris and siblings move to a larger aquarium

I was nervous about introducing the youngsters into the aquarium with the older pair.  The older pair acted aggressively at first, but they seem to be tolerating the gold relatives, but Boris and Medea Luna are showing signs of getting ready to spawn.

Gold Angelfish

I want to raise a school of golden angelfish with internet profiles and try to get more store credit for them from Tropical Imports.

Gold Angelfish with Medea Luna

June 8, 2010
I traded 13 young Angelfish and the runt from last year for a $2o size of flake food, and I learned that the color of Angelfish has no bearing on their value.  With Angelfish, it is all about size.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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40 Comments. Leave new

  • Congrats on your new planted headache, I mean aquarium! Seriously though, planted aquariums are a blast. I’ve been trying to get my 10gal (office) tank where I want it for a couple years now. It started out as an alternative to our home tank because I wanted a Bamboo Shrimp and Clown Loach+Shrimp= well fed Clown Loach. You will definitely need the Co2. I was so reluctant with putting it in my tank because of my Rummy Nose Tetras but then there was an incident and I lost all but one so I said “Why not?” I’m happy I did it. I’d recommend aquahobby.com for information on plants, fish and general aquarium advice. I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s too late for you now but with plants you can cycle your tank without subjecting fish to the high ammonia and nitrites. If you don’t have it I’d suggest buying your own master test kit. Hopefully you didn’t buy too many fish to start with. Good Luck!

    • Thanks for the advice and link Nihil. Of course, we have been very bad and purchased more fish than Dean recommended. We did get the master test kit and we are trying to test the water every day or two. We are nervous about the aquarium posting spinning off into its own website that we have absolutely no time to update, so instead of adding new postings, it is probably a better idea to just keep a running log of aquarium activity on the same posting. at least until there is some major change. Thanks again for the advice.

  • Daniel,
    Sorry about all your fish loss and the heater. 🙁 Unfortunately fish loss happens, especially in a cycling tank. Can’t say that we (hubby and I) didn’t screw up the whole cycle process in our tank at home before we knew all about how that works. If you’re showing little to no ammonia and you’re getting nitrAte production, then you’re getting very close to have your tank cycled. It’s easy to get impatient but hand in there any it’ll happen. Getting that pretty blue nitrIte test is pretty exciting.

    Your aquascaping looks very cool. Makes me wish I had a bigger tank so I wasn’t so limited with my 10gal but I like the challenges a “nano” tank brings on or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

    Speaking of plants, you’ll probably get snails at some point so look into get tank size appropriate loaches to gobble them up. (when you’re cycled) Burmese border loaches are petty neat looking. I will warn you that our clown loaches like to lay on their side and I’ve heard that other loaches do as well.

  • Congrats! Yes, the diatoms will go away once you’re cycled. Don’t over do it with fish all at once! 🙂
    (no reply needed)

  • Wow – and people say dogs are a lot of work! What do you consider your saturation point for angel fish? Three border collies are my limit!

    I love you site and torture all of my workmates with it whenever possible.

    Thank you for all of the time you devote to edifying we masses 🙂

  • Oh my – and people say dogs are high maintenance!

  • I am loving your angelfish stories. What happened to the previous batch of eggs? Let’s see the babies!

    PS I have read that angelfish love to put their eggs on a vertical slab of slate. You can add a piece to your tank.

    • Thanks for your interest in our aquaria despite them not being bug related. Right now we have about 100 or more fry from the first two spawnings of the other pair of Angelfish. The 13 largest fry are getting large. The body size is just shy of a dime. They are definitely from the first batch. Since the original pair of Angelfish is in a community aquarium, the fry that were not removed with a turkey baster became fish food for the other tank mates. It was our intention both times to leave some of the fry with the parents in the hopes that some might survive. Lefty and mate have their own aquarium and we haven’t decided what to do about this most recent spawning. Since we will be gone for a week in early June, caring for fry might be a bit much to ask of Sandy and Bettie, the neighbors who have agreed to feed the fish while we are gone.
      The 30 largest fry are currently in a 50 gallon aquarium with 9 Rummy Nosed Tetras and a Cory Cat. They have begun to eat frozen adult brine shrimp, but they continue to love feasting on live baby brine shrimp. We have three small critter keepers that we raise the baby brine shrimp in, and when the population of brine shrimp declines to the point that it is difficult to catch less than five with an eyedropper, we dump the water and start anew. This way we cycle through the three brine shrimp hatcheries and always have a ready supply of nauplii for our hungry fry. The Rummy Nosed Tetras also love eating the brine shrimp nauplii, so we try to stuff them with adult frozen brine shrimp first and that is how we are acclimating the Angelfish fry to eat larger food. Once the Tetras are sated, we introduce the baby brine shrimp to the aquarium. The Angelfish also become active at dawn’s first light, and we feed them then before the Tetras start swimming.
      It is our plan to bring home a better camera so we can post photos of our growing fry. The camera we have has become quite difficult to focus, and since we teach photography, posting blurry photos is a bit of an embarrassment. You can always read our aquarium chronicle from the beginning by clicking the aquarium link on the left side of the home page.
      P.S. We don’t keep the vertical slate in the aquarium because we don’t plan to remove the eggs. We prefer to remove the wrigglers, or newly hatched fry. Our Angelfish have been quite content to spawn on leaves or the glass sides of the aquarium.

  • Hello Daniel and Lisa,
    I’m thoroughly enjoying your Angelfish stories. What an adventure your simple quest for an attractive piece of “Living”room furniture has turned out to be! Looking forward to the next installment.

    • Our own mother accused us of having the same disorder as Octomom when we purchased the third aquarium. Dean at Tropical Imports said we don’t need a couch anyway. Our trip to Ohio in two weeks has us a bit nervous that the task of feeding newborns might just overwhelm the kind neighbors who have agreed to feed the fish. Thanks for your interest, but we firmly maintain there will not be a spin-off website.

  • Awesome. Your angelfish are quite amorous. When our platys would have babies we’d catch them with a turkey baster (with a shortened tip so the opening was wider) maybe you could suck up your little angelfish and avoid injury. Though, if there’s 168 of them then that may be difficult. 😉

  • Poor little fellow. Did you do any water tests? From what I’ve seen, gaping/gasping and shaking indicates respiratory problems associated with some toxic substance in the water. Could chlorine or ammonia have possibly gotten into the water?

    • Dear Jacob,
      Thanks for your input. I was not aware there was a test for chlorine. I changed 5 gallons of water the day before the incident. The aquarium is 25 gallons, so that represented a 20% water change. I use 10 milliliters of stress coat+ which is supposed to eliminate chlorine and chloramine. It is a mystery.

  • It’s such joy, watching fish eggs hatch in your own tank. Spellbinding. 🙂

    • Sorry for the late response. There was some technical difficulty last month and these comments just came to our attention now. The brood is growing beautifully.

  • ZombieFlanderz
    January 24, 2013 10:20 am

    lovely cichlids

    • Thank you. We are continuing to write the posting to provide a much needed update. These Angelfish have been in our aquariums since March 2009 and they spawned within five days.

  • I have 4 guppies that I can breed. I am having a hard time trying to get my male lyre-tailed guppy to breed. He is my only male. Bummer. 3 females (and one male that won’t mate). Any tips?

    • We find it odd that a male guppy will not mate, but if that is the case, you might want to consider getting another more amorous male guppy to service the females. Guppies are not aggressive fish and the males will not fight with one another.

  • Could not keep live plants in my aquarium. In some instances a new plant would start falling apart in a matter of hours. Constantly testing water. Pulling my hair out??? Then to my horror I spotted the culprit. My 3.5″ Plecostomus was literally sucking the tissue off the leaves. I watched him cut a path across the leaves of my Amazon sword plants. Gave him away and now I have a tank full of thriving plants. Who would have thunk. LOL

    • We have several plants that do well in our aquaria, and we have a Plecostomus in each, but we could not keep Amazon swords going for more than six months.

  • I’ve found that the fry do not eat flakes or brine but the male father fish eats and leaves film on tank that the fry have migrated to and are eating. Do you find that to be the case in your breeding. A divider in our tank saved many fry.

    • We no longer breed Angel Fish, though we do still have one large male that we raised from an egg. He eventually killed his mate while we were away on holiday. Once fry begin swimming, we found they were big enough to eat newly hatched Brine Shrimp.

  • Thank you for posting.

  • Hello Daniel,

    I came across your site while doing some research on Angelfish and actually read through most of your posts about Boris and Medea Luna, Lefty and Digitalis. Awesome documentation about everything they do especially the breeding.

    I run a blog of my own where I try to help beginners avoid some of the biggest mistakes when getting started.

    I found much of what you provided very informational and helpful and will be sure to share it with my readers.

    If you like, please check out my site and if you find anything useful for your readers feel free to share. I have a lot of info on the Betta Fish, Filters and LED lighting.

    My site is http://www.tropicalfishcareguides.com

    Take care great site.

    • Thanks for your comment Jack. At this point in time, Hector is the only Angelfish currently living in our two aquaria. Lefty and Digitalis died after several years of producing numerous offspring. Several years ago, after returning from a holiday, we found Boris’ mate, Medea Luna, dead in the aquarium. They fought so much, we couldn’t determine if it was a natural death. Eventually, raising young Angelfish proved to be too much, so we traded our stock for food and other sundry items at our local tropical fish store. Hector whose 7th Birthday is approaching was raised in our aquarium when his parents Lefty and Digitalis spawned for the last time in the spring of 2011. He now lives alone with a single Rummynose Tetra that has also survived for many years. The other aquarium is a community aquarium with Neon Tetras, Silvertip Tetras, Serpae Tetras, Glowlight Tetras, four Blue Rams and a Bolivian Ram.

  • Hello Daniel,

    I came across your site while doing some research on Angelfish and actually read through most of your posts about Boris and Medea Luna, Lefty and Digitalis. Awesome documentation about everything they do especially the breeding.

    I run a blog of my own where I try to help beginners avoid some of the biggest mistakes when getting started.

    I found much of what you provided very informational and helpful and will be sure to share it with my readers.

    If you like, please check out my site and if you find anything useful for your readers feel free to share. I have a lot of info on the Betta Fish, Filters and LED lighting.

    My site is http://www.tropicalfishcareguides.com

    Take care great site.

  • How about your Angelfish now?

    • Currently we have one large male Angelefish living alone in an aquarium with one Rummynose Tetra. He was raised in our aquarium from a spawning between Lefty and Digitalis.

  • Aquarium Nitrogen Cycling is the most important part of setting up a new fish tank. Most of the cycling process is automatic i.e it happens on its own. But the question is – how to start nitrogen cycle in aquarium? Fish-tank cycle or aquarium nitrogen cycle (aka the nitration cycle) is the process of breaking down nitrogenous waste as ammonia produced by fish and dead plants in aquarium into less harmful components. If you fail to understand this cycle process, you are putting major stress on the fish and eventually killing the fish. Learning about the cycle and dealing with the critical period will greatly increase your chance of effective and efficient fish keeping.
    i Found this site helpful for learning about the tank cycle:

  • Aquarium Nitrogen Cycling is the most important part of setting up a new fish tank. Most of the cycling process is automatic i.e it happens on its own. But the question is – how to start nitrogen cycle in aquarium? Fish-tank cycle or aquarium nitrogen cycle (aka the nitration cycle) is the process of breaking down nitrogenous waste as ammonia produced by fish and dead plants in aquarium into less harmful components. If you fail to understand this cycle process, you are putting major stress on the fish and eventually killing the fish. Learning about the cycle and dealing with the critical period will greatly increase your chance of effective and efficient fish keeping.
    i Found this site helpful for learning about the tank cycle:

  • Nitrogen Cycle is one of the most important things to be understood by any aquarium owner. Yet it is usually being overlooked. That is why there are many cases like New Tank Syndrome or fishes dying immediately. Remember that cycling an aquarium is the very base of fish keeping so make sure to not skip this important step. This site helpful for learning about fish keeping: https://www.aquariumbase.com/

  • Nitrogen Cycle is one of the most important things to be understood by any aquarium owner. Yet it is usually being overlooked. That is why there are many cases like New Tank Syndrome or fishes dying immediately. Remember that cycling an aquarium is the very base of fish keeping so make sure to not skip this important step. This site helpful for learning about fish keeping:

  • Nitrogen Cycle is one of the most important things to be understood by any aquarium owner. Yet it is usually being overlooked. That is why there are many cases like New Tank Syndrome or fishes dying immediately. Remember that cycling an aquarium is the very base of fish keeping so make sure to not skip this important step. This site helpful for learning about fish keeping:

  • Nitrogen Cycle is one of the most important things to be understood by any aquarium owner. if you need to warm your fish tank you have to install a aquarium heater.

  • Angelish has been with me since several years and their behaviour has changed since i introduced few bettas with him. Any idea what could be the problem? I have been looking for new betta tanks from https://inlandaquatics.com/best-betta-fish-tanks/. Any advice about changed behaviour or new aquarium would be greatly welcome.

  • nice post and cool article my website https://www.aquaticlife.in

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