Mike's Fishy Log - Year
This page contains the log from 3/28/99 (first entry) to the end of
3/28/99 Jack Dempseys Spawn
The Dempseys spawned yesterday, and are doing a great job taking care of
the estimated 500-600 eggs. I have left the Danios in the tank for
now, since they seem to help the Dempseys feel more comfortable,
but will remove them shortly before the fry become free swimming.
Also, I am using an external canister filter for filtration. It is
connected to an under gravel filter in the return path. I will
reverse the filter connections as the fry become free swimming, so that
they don't get sucked up into the intake. I'm thinking it is unlikely
that they will be sucked through the gravel.
4/1/99 Update:Eggs Don't Develop
Well after 4 days, the Jack Dempsey's eggs did not develop.
I'm thinking that there was not enough oxygen in the water. My filtration
consisted of an Eheim canister filter that was returning the filtered water
through an under gravel filter. Very little water movement on the
surface. Also the tank has an abundance of Anacharis. I think
I read somewhere that plants will actually consume oxygen if they don't
have light. I'm thinking that the oxygen levels dropped too low at
night. So yesterday, I spent a bit of time with the tank.
First I reversed the flow of water through the Ehiem so that the returned
water goes out a spray bar, though it is mostly submerged.
Also I added an air pump and pump air to two uprights I've added to the
under gravel filter. Note that I made sure that the Ehiem and the
air pump are both moving water in the same direction through the under
gravel filter! This should provide enough surface agitation so that
oxygen levels don't drop at night.
One of our Jack Dempseys
The male dempsey was harassing the female, so I had to add a tank divider.
The divider has two "doors" in it. One is big enough for both
male and female and is currently blocked. The other may be too small
for the male, but I am taking no chances and have placed a bar in it.
This will still allow the Giant Danios to get through if they wish.
Finally, I replaced one of the four 30 watt fluorescent light bulbs,
with a westinghouse branded aquarium bulb. Turns out that with the
new bulb in place, it is obvious the old ones are not putting out much
light and that they should be replaced, too!
Anyway the plan is to feed the female with a lot prepared and live foods
to get her ready again. Live foods will include crickets, earthworms
and whatever insect we might happen across.
I've opened up the small door between the halves of the 55 gallon tank
so the female Jack Dempsey can get through. She has usually been
keeping to her side, but has occasionally visited the male on the other
side. Since she looked like she was doing well, I moved the
other male from the 7.5 gallon spare tank to her side of the 55.
He immediately somehow squeezed through to the other side and locked jaws
with the male that was there. Of course, that meant I had to remove
one of the males and put him back in the 7.5 gallon tank. Since I
can't tell these males apart, I don't which one I took out! I guess
it doesn't matter. My experience with Jack Dempseys is that they
leave other fish pretty much alone, unless they are venture too close to
an active nest of eggs or fry. However, males don't tolerate each
other all, and I've heard they don't like other Cichlids too well.
Although we've fed the Dempseys crickets before, it seems we got a lively
bunch this time and they seem to be able to swim to freedom if they move
quick enough. I think after this batch of crickets is gone, we won't
use them again for fish food. Now that spring is here, we can easily
find earthworms in the garden for the Dempseys, anyway.
Seems like we just can't get rid of the algae. We are now using
120 watts of fluorescent lighting for 13 hours a day. I think
the main problem is phosphates in our city water. Recently we've
switched from Acquamarine Phosphate Eliminator to Seachem PhosGuard to
reduce the amount of phosphate, after doing some research on the web.
Interesting thing is that the Phosphate Eliminator also reduced our PH
from a natural 7.2 to around 6.4. Switching to the PhosGuard has
reduced the phosphate to around .2 ppm, but the PH is also creeping back
up to 7.2. I called our city water department a few years back and
they said phosphates varied from 2.5 to 4ppm, but my Seachem test kit shows
about .75 ppm in our tap water. I don't know what to make of that.
Water Treatment PH(1)
7.2 4 degrees
1 Aquarium Pharm.
I'm thinking of switching back to the Phosphate Eliminator because our
plants seem to do much better with the lower PH. I probably won't
change until the Dempseys spawn again, just to see if the fry do better
with the higher PH. Of course with all the other changes we've made,
4/29/99 Algae is Taking Over Again
A few weeks ago we moved the male Dempsey that was in the 7 and 1/2 gallon
tank into the 55 on other side of the partition from the male that was
already in there. There has been a lot of posturing between
the males from opposite sides of the open door, especially at first.
Fortunately it seems that the door is too small for them to get through,
We were away for a week, and the female seems a bit stressed, since she
didn't have any food during that time, and certainly couldn't be developing
any eggs. The males always seem to be ready for spawning. She
has been hanging out in the Anacharis, hiding from the males, and I have
been hand feeding her, since we got back. We will see what develops.
With the PH up to well over 7 right now, the algae is doing much better
than the Anacharis. I think I will have to go back to the Phosphate
Eliminator again, since the PhosGuard does not seem to do as good a job.
Don't know if I can wait till the Dempseys spawn, since that most likely
be for a few more weeks, given the current condition of the female.
5/23/99 Another spawning discovered by accident
A few weeks ago, we took the male that was with the female all along and
put him in the 7 and 1/2 gallon tank, effectively swapping the males.
The male and female that are together, fight so much that they both have
sores above the top lip of their mouths. Algae is pretty much out
of control in the 55 gallon tank.
Female looking out from the anacharis at the rocks where her eggs
This morning, while doing the bi-weekly water change I noticed that
the Dempseys were digging again. After the female tried to bite me,
I took another look and noticed that she was guarding eggs on the rocks,
again. I had pretty much vacuumed most of the tank already, including
the holes they had dug to hold the fry. It looks like I had pretty
much messed things up on them. Anyway the eggs that were left on
the rock didn't look too good, so I figure that we are definitely going
back to the Phosphate eliminator. At least we will be able to see
what is going on in the tank.
If you can't see much of the fish in our pictures, don't feel too alone.
These dempseys really like to hide out, and we can't see much of them either,
even with our own eyes.
Feeding has been a bit troublesome as the Danios seem to be getting
most of the food, except for the occasional earthworm that we catch in
the garden. The earthworms are bit big for the Danios, so the Dempseys
seem to able to get them.
6/8/99 Another spawning occurs
Another spawning has occurred today. The Dempseys have pretty much
occupied one side of the 55, while the Danio's for the most part stay to
the other side of the partition. Feeding has been less of a problem
since the Danios and Dempseys are on opposite sides of the partition.
For the past couple of weeks, the fish have received prepared food almost
exclusively, so that seems sufficient for the fish to spawn. We will
see how the eggs develop, now that we have more aeration in the tank.
6/13/99 Eggs Fungus and Spawning Fails Again
Next time I'm going to turn off the lights completely and see if the eggs
don't get infected by fungus. The Phosphate Eliminator does seem
to be working better than the Phosguard on the Algae front. I've
been putting a teaspoon every two weeks, when I do the water change.
6/24/99 Male Swordtail Dies
We had a lone mail swordtail in the 10 gallon tank with Cleo. He
died yesterday. We don't think he was sick and Cleo is fine.
He was about 1 and 1/2 years old.
6/27/99 The Dempseys Spawn Another Time
Actually they spawned on the 25th. This morning there are plenty
of bad eggs, but the majority of them are still good. I've got my
fingers crossed. The day before they spawned, I reduced the amount
of light per day from 13 hours to 4 hours, with the hope that the algae
would go away. Don't know if there was a connection between the light
cycle and the spawning. Yesterday morning, I turned off the
lights totally, with the hope that some eggs would turn into little fish.
I really don't know at this point, if it is going to help.
6/28/99 No Tiny Fish Emerge
Well, the problem must be too much algae. I just bought a plecostomus
in the hopes that the reduction of algae will result in better spawns.
I know I will have to separate the plecostomus from the eggs before the
first night after the spawning. We will see how well the pleco does
on the algae by the next spawning. Lights are back on for 4 hours
a day. Anyone need a medium male Jack Dempsey? I think that
poor guy in the 7 and 1/2 needs a new home.
7/24/99 Filtration Changed
Thinking the real problem with the eggs not hatching has been water quality,
I have changed the Eheim canister filter to draw its intake directly from
the main aquarium area, rather than through the undergravel filter.
Water seems quite a bit clearer. We will see what happens during
the next spawning. I think it will take place in a couple of days,
since I have been feeding the Dempseys rather heavily as of late.
It seems they spawn the day after her breeding tube appears, but it is
not out today. A water temperature of 80 degrees seems to be about best
to induce spawning. At 70 degrees, they show no interest in
spawning at all. With reduced light and the pleco present, the amount
of algae seems diminished somewhat. I still have to scrape it off
the glass at least once a week in order to see in, though. Perhaps
as the pleco gets bigger, it will be able to handle the load.
8/9/99 55 Gallon Tank Slightly Rearranged
The partition for the 55 gallon tank had the tank split about 66-33.
The Jack Dempsey male was on the left - larger area. Since the Dempseys
didn't appear to want to spawn in the more open area on the left I have
rearranged things slightly. The partition was moved to the center
and the Jack Dempsey male has been moved to the right side.
The Jack Dempsey female is free to move through the smallish door to the
side of her choice. This change was made about a week ago.
Since then the Jack Dempseys have remained far more reclusive than before.
Hopefully they will become comfortable after a while and resume spawning
like before. The Giant Danios are now seen more frequently on either
side of the parition. Before they stayed pretty much exclusively
on the larger, left side.
8/18/99 55 Gallon Tank PH is Low
I don't know why, but the PH in the 55 gallon tank is very low. The
algae plague is also quite a bit dimished. The right side, in which
the Pleco is staying, is actually reasonably clear of algae, at least compared
to the past. I think the low PH is why the Dempseys have not spawned
in the last couple of weeks and the Danio's don't look as good as they
have been. To help stabilize the situation I changed an extra large
quanity of water during the periodic water change last weekend. I
also tore down and cleaned the Eheim canister filter, something I haven't
done for a while. It wasn't as dirty as on other occassions I have
cleaned it, but I did notice a bag of Phosguard in it that I forgot about.
Lately, the Dempsey Pair has been hiding out a lot
8/21/99 55 Gallon Tank Water Tested
Since I was concerned about water quality in the 55, I tested the water
with all the test kits I had on hand. The results show a lot of nitrates.
Doesn't suprise me, but I'm not sure what has been happening. The
algae is slowly disappearing, and the PH is lower than I've seen in this
tank. The Pleco seems more active than we've ever seen him,
perhaps he is taking care of the algae, and the algae is not there to take
in the nitrogen, who knows. Here are the test results.
PH - bottom of scale 6.0 or less.
Nitrate - 60 ppm - has tested at 0 ppm in the past. I will retest
this in a few days.
Phosphates .1 ppm - normal for this tank
Hardness - 50 ppm - normal for this tank
Iron - .01ppm - normal for this tank
CO2 - test didn't register - This old Red Sea test kit is no longer functioning.
I don't think it ever worked that great, anyway.
8/26/99 Dempsey's Spawn Yet Another Time
The spawning happened yesterday. I guess the water quality wasn't
too bad, but there are quite a few bad eggs already. Anyway
I've closed the doors in the partition, with the Danios and Pleco on one
side and the Dempseys on the other. I never had a chance to test
the water for PH and Nitrates like I planned to. I will do so after
things settle down in the tank. I'm kind of suprised that this spawning
took place since the female was hiding out allot and not really even coming
out to eat. I really didn't think she was getting enough nourishment.
Stay tuned for results of this spawning....
8/28/99 Plenty of Wrigglers Moved From Spawning Site
on Rock to a Hole the Gravel
So far things are working reasonably well. The Dempsey parents have
spent the day moving the spawn that survived the first couple days on the
rock into a hole that they have prepared in the gravel.
Note that I said hole. These fish seem to put the spawn in rather
deep, steep sided hole. These holes are different than the depressions
that they dig when they are just preparing to spawn. This hole is
at the front of the tank and we can see plenty of wiggling fry in there.
The gravel I am using is from Home Depot and is a bit more course than
the usual aquarium gravel (and very much less expensive). I tried
to take some pictures, but none of them came out too good. It will
be a bit more interesting when they are free swimming in a few more days,
anyway. The parents are becoming less and less shy with fry to protect.
Now instead of hiding when anyone approaches, they just kind of back off
a little bit.
9/1/99 Fry Are Just Starting to Swim
There are quite a few fry left and some of them are starting to swim around
the depression that the parents put them in. The first couple of
days after hatching, the fry were only moved a couple of times. Now
the parents are almost constantly moving the fry around from depression
to depression. The steep sided holes are no longer used, just a shallow
depression. Both parents are less and less shy, and the female
is coming out to take food at feeding time. With all the work they
are doing, I'll bet they are hungry. I moved the intake for the canister
filter to the far side of the tank divider, so the young are not vacuumed
up when they become free swimming. I also set up a little brine shrimp
hatchery using a couple of 2 litter soda bottles. I cut them
in half, and put the top into the base and using a small air pump to aerate
the water. I had some old eggs, but they did not work in my first
attempt to hatch some earlier this week, so tonight I went and got some
fresh eggs to try.
9/3/99 Swarms of Fry Are Follwing the Parents Around
The fry were free swimming since yesterday and there are lots of them.
See the picture on my main tropical fish page. The parents will occasionally
grab a fry that has strayed too far and return it back to the main bunch.
There are so many that it is pretty much a pointless effort. I am
feeding the fry baby egg layer food and a few brine shrimp I have managed
to hatch. They are also grazing on the algae and also occasionally
nipping on the parents sides.
Male alone in the almost bare 7 and 1/2 gallon tank
9/12/99 Lone Male Dempsey in 7.5 Gallon Tank Given
to Local Fish Store
There are now probably 75 to 100 fry left, but they seem to be growing
at a very fast pace. Thinking we might take some of the fry out of
the 55, we gave the lonely male we had in the 7.5 gallon tank to a local
fish store. We have been thinking for some time about moving Cleo
to the 7.5 gallon tank, so the Jack Dempseys can have a bit more room in
the 10 gallon tank.
A few of our 6 week old fry
10/10/99 Parents Separated from Fry
The fry are now up to almost 1/2 inch long or so. Yesterday we separated
the parent fish from the fry. We did this by moving the parents
to the other side of the partition. Next spawning, we will experiment
to see just how long we can keep the parents with the fry. We most
likely have less than 50 fry left at this point. My wife maintains
that the parent Dempseys were chewing up and spitting out small particles
of the Tetra Cichlid food we were feeding them, so the fry could eat it.
I'm not so sure that this isn't just a result of the messy feeding habits
these fish have. Perhaps Cichlid's messy eating habits have evolved
to help feed the fry.
I'm thinking of ending this journal when the young fish mature
Let me know if you want me to keep it going.
10/24/99 The Best Laid Plans...
The effort to separate the parents from fry failed, miserably. The
parents and fry noticed each other through the partition. The fry
somehow got through to the side that the parents were on. The parents
in turn chased the Danios over to the other side. We moved
the Danios over to Cleo's tank so the fry did not become lunch. I
removed the doors, so that the female and fry can swim through the partition,
as they please. Yesterday the male Dempsey killed the plecostomus,
making the 55 a species tank, once again. I don't think the plecostomus
ate much algae, so I think that algae removal effort failed pretty bad.
For some reason, the PH has remained pretty low in the 55, but the fish
don't seem to be minding it.
11/26/99 The Giant Danios are Given Away
Feeling that the 10 gallon tank was overcrowded with Cleo and 6 Giant Danio's,
we decided to give the Giant Danio's away. We threw them in a small
cooler and went to 3 local pet stores, before finding one that would take
them. There are only about 10 of the Jack Dempsey fry left.
I think most of them were lost when they started getting picky about what
they would eat. We think we saw the male eat one of his young, so
most of the remaining have been moved to the 7 1/2 gallon tank.
The PH in the 55 is still very low, but the animals and plants seem to
be doing well, anyway.
To Year 2000