Mike's Fishy Log - Year 2002 to present
This page contains the log starting in the year 2002 up to the present.
4/20/02 Last Two Jack Dempseys Given Away
We gave the last two male Jack Dempseys to a local fish
store today. We will miss them quite a bit, I think.
We are going to redo the 55 gallon tank now. I'm thinking of adding
a group of dwarf cichlids for the bottom of the tank, along with some other
more lively fish to liven up the middle part of the tank. I'm also
going to try to do plants again. This time the gravel and under gravel
filter is going to come out and I'm going to try to replace it with
some soil topped by sand. I'll have to make sure the dwarf cichlids
are not diggers. We are also toying with the idea of adding some dwarf
gourami's to the mix, as they tend to be upper layer fish.
5/18/02 The New Tank
Ok, a lot has happened to the 55 gallon tank since the
I completely tore down the tank. All the contents were removed, including
gravel and undergravel filter. The gravel was disposed of. Most
of the other removable components were soaked overnight in a bucket
filled with water mixed with a cup or two chorine bleach. This really
cleaned up the components, many of which were coated in a think blanket
My plans were to setup a "plant" tank. After spending a good bit of time
websurfing, looking for information and ideas for setting up the plant tank,
with some sort of cichlids presence, I came up with a plan. The "new" setup
is quite a bit different than the old one.
Results after three weeks:
- Based on information on the web, the undergravel
filter was put into storage.
- The Jack Dempseys I previously had, placed newly
hatched fry in holes dug in the gravel. The gravel really didn't
seem very ideal for this application, so I decided long ago that sand
would make a better substrate for cichlids. Virtually all information
I was able to come by suggested that gravel is not a very good substrate
for plants. Also it appears that many Aquarius's who are serious about
growing plants often place a plant nourishing material under the sand.
After much contemplation and consideration, I decided to try the following
combination. The base is an inch or two of vermiculite mixed with several
shovels of garden soil. It is covered by a couple inches of "tube sand"
I found at Home Depot. Tube sand is often placed in the trunks and beds
of rear wheel cars and trucks in order to add weight to the rear wheels
to help out with traction problems in snowy conditions. I'm not sure if
you can find this sand in southern climates. I've read reports of the vermiculite
causing cloudiness problems in some aquariums. Prior to adding it to the
the aquarium, I poured it into a large container added just enough water
to make it into a thick pudding like consistency and soaked it overnight.
The next day, I pounded it with a the end of a two by four for a bit just
to break it down and squeeze out as much air as possible. After pounding
it for a bit, I mixed in several shovels of garden soil. Finally, I mixed
in some Osmocote fertilizer. This was spread out on the bottom of the aquarium
and covered with a couple of inches of the tube sand.
- To assist in plant growth, I decided to introduce
CO2 into the water via the do it yourself yeast in sugar water method..
Years ago, I had tried the same thing and introduced the CO2 through
the return outlet of a reverse flow undergravel filter that was driven
by a canister filter. This time I decided to introduce the CO2 simply
by connecting the CO2 generator to a simple air stone. Note that I
knew from past experience that the very soft water that we have will
have the PH drop considerably when the CO2 is introduced.
- I already had 160 watts of fluorescent lighting,
and felt that that was sufficient for my tank.
- There is no undergravel filter or airstones in the
new setup. Water is filtered solely by the external canister filter
that I already had in place. The return spray bar is placed below the
water surface to avoid surface agitation. This is supposed to help
keep the introduced CO2 in the water, since CO2 has a natural tendency
to leave water to the air.
- I put everything together so that the tank was ready
for life. The next day after assembling the aquarium I drove over
to Uncle Ned's Fish Factory to see what kind of life I could find to
add to the tank. Common wisdom is that you leave the tank setup for
a week before adding fish. However I know that our town's water has only
a small amount of chorine added, and is otherwise pretty healthy for
fish to start with. Also my canister filter was still intact from the
previous setup, so would probably be in operating shape in no time.
- This was only the second time I had been to Uncle
Ned's. As expected, he had an impressive assortment of cichlids.
Many of the species I had never seen before, though I have been keeping
aquariums for something like 30 years. We were looking for a relatively
small and not too aggressive species. We were hoping to find a species
that could be mixed with some other species of fish in order to add variety
and interest to the tank. Since I have an interest in breeding fish,
I also wanted something that would be possible to breed in the tank
I had set up. I did not want rift lake africans. After getting suggestions
from the staff and looking at many species, we decided that the Cichlasoma
Sajica is what we would take. We took 2 pair since even the small fish
that Ned had could be sexed. To add interest to the tank and to make
sure that there was activity in all levels of the tank we next looked for
a gourami that might be compatible with the Sajica. Ned suggested the
Moonlight Gourami that he had might work, though he did note that it was
an unusual combination to try. Having had both cichlids and gourami's in
the past, I expected that it would work well, since gourami's tend to hang
out at the surface and cichlids more along the bottom. Finally we got a
couple of Corydoras Paleatus catfish. In the past I avoided catfish since
I figured that a breeding pair of Cichlids would have trouble protecting
the eggs from them, but in this case I figured it would be interesting to
see what would really happen.
- Plant selection was a bit more haphazard and included
the following varieties, picked more or less at random.
- Giant hygro
- Sunset hygro
- Ozelot sword
- Micro sword
- Scarlet hygro
Photos to be added when they are received back from
processing (I'm shooting slides these days).
So far the substrate appears to have worked well and
I just have not noticed any vermiculite or garden soil floating around
the tank, like some others have reported. I have to be careful when
changing water as the suction of the hose is plenty strong enough to
suck the sand as well as the water out of the tank. The biggest surprise
with the substrate is that the catfish seem to suck the sand into their
mouths and spit it out their gill slits. I have never noticed this before.
They must be filtering food particles out of the substrate with this
The CO2 introduction via air stone seems to work fine,
since the PH in the tank has definitely dropped quite a bit, down to
6.0 or lower, but not so low that the fish are bothered by it.
Algae is attempting to take over this tank, much like
the last setup. I'm hoping that as the plants take hold that the algae
will be unable to compete.
The plants are a mixed bag. The micro sword seems
to be doing well and is already sending out runners which have sprouted
into a few new plants. The giant and sunset hygro is doing well and
I have already had to trim some of it back. I cut back the longest shoots
and planted them next to the original plants. The scarlet hygro, ozelot
sword and crimium are not doing too much right now. I think that the
plants are short some basic nutrient, as some of the new shoots are
red colored. I'll have to figure out what it is and rectify the problem.
All the fish seem to be getting along fairly well.
Two of the Cichlasoma Sajica appear to have paired off and are digging
a bit in the sand. These two are dominating the others and are growing
faster than the other two. The submissive female is growing the
least of all. Right now, I don't anticipate any serious problems with
excessive aggression, like would occur when 2 Jack Dempsey males are placed
in the same tank.
5/22/02 Green Water/C. Sajica Spawning
Soon after the last report the water in the 55 gallon
tank has turned very green. I guess I have too much fertilizer in
the water. Earlier in the week, I gave the canister a good back flushing
and the tank a partial water change. So far there has been no change.
Not sure what else I could try, but I sure will not be adding any fertilizer
until this clears up.
Two of the C. Sajica have spawned already. They laid the eggs on the glass
in a lower front corner of the aquarium. This occurred on Monday the 20th.
The behavior is somewhat similar to the Jack Dempseys I had before. However
instead of digging pits in the gravel, these fish are digging a cave under
a rock. I expect that when the fry hatch, that is where they will be moved.
The cave is interesting in that on side of it is the front glass of the
aquarium. I should be able to get some good pictures if the fry are moved
to this cave. I have left the rest of occupants in the aquarium. So far
relative peace exists with the C. Sajica pretty much just occupying one
corner of the tank. The parents pretty much just keep the other fish out
of the general area. The single exception is the other male Sajica, which
seems to be a special target of the new dad. The remaining female Sajica
is pretty much left alone, at least right now.
5/26/02 C. Sajica Spawning Update
Even though there are several other fish in the tank, the
Sajica spawning is doing well. The fry hatched out after 4 days and
as expected the fry were moved into the cave. Actually I haven't been
able to get any pictures because the fry are very deep at the end
of the cave. As it is, I can barely see them, even with the help of
a flashlight. It is great to see the fish working on protecting their
offspring this way. The water is still terribly green. Hopefully at some
point it will clear itself up. I will continue to do weekly 20% water
8/22/02 Algae Disappears
Around the end of July, the plague of green water cleared
up. Having the algae pretty much all gone is unbelievable! The
various C. Sajica spawnings have failed. They have spawned a couple
of times, since the last posting. Next time I'll be able to see what
was going on.
10/18/02 Successful Spawning
As seen in the photo, above, the bigger pair of C. Sajica
have spawned and are successfully raising a brood. Unfortunately
the other inhabitants of the tank have all been killed this time around,
even the catfish.
After almost 9 years with us, Cleo died yesterday. We
are said to see him go. At this point it looks like the tank may be taken
down and not restarted. Too soon to say for sure, though.
On other fronts. There are 8 fairly large spawn left with the male
Sajica. Last fall, the male killed the female, but he hasn't harmed
the young, at least yet. The male also killed the catfish which were
keeping the bottom clean. We attempted to rescue the cats, but they
didn't survive the transition to Cleo's tank. We took out 160 watts
of florescent lighting on the 55 gallon tank and added an Aquaclear 200
filter. The lighting was taken out because a ballast went bad and after
several attempts to determine how to replace it, it was determined that
it would just be removed, at least for a while. Right now, I think 4 t12
tubes over a 55 doesn't work very well. Perhaps at some point I'll replace
what is left with a compact florescent setup, which seems to be the way
Finally we've been talking about donating the C. Sajica to a local
fish store and transition to a general community tank, probably a South
American based one. It is fun to watch the Cichlids breed, but there aggressiveness
while breeding makes it a species tank and other. I'm also looking
into building a Macquarium for my office, which might make an ideal house
for some Killiefish. We shall see.
10/26/03 Sajica's Behavior Becomes Interesting
Over the last few months the behavior of the C. Sajica's
have become pretty interesting. We have the original male and
The original male is now 3 or 4 inches long and has developed beautiful
long extensions to it's dorsal and pectoral fins. This picture
of him taken last spring. I would say the extensions to the fins
are even longer now than when this picture was taken and his tail is more
square shaped than it appears in this picture.
The young seem to be around 1 1/2 inches long. This small size
after all this time, is probably due to my stingy feeding program. Only
one of the young males has developed extensions to the pectoral or dorsal
fins, and they are very small extensions, at that. The brighter
coloring and presence of more red separates the other males from the females.
They also seem to be slightly larger than the females. It
appears that 3 of the young are males and the other 5 are females. One
of the females has developed a deep yellow color accents unlike any of the
other fish in the tank. She appears to be the dominant female. An
interesting experiment would be to remove her from the tank and see if
one of the other females takes on this yellow color.
The dominant female has occupied the favored spawning spot in this
tank and chases the other females out of the area. The largest of
the young males and the older male frequently make visits and displays
for her. It appears that this female prefers the largest of the young
males over the large older male. One thing that is surprising to
me is the limited amount of aggression that is going on between the males.
They do nip at each other once in while, but this is nowhere near
as violent as it would be with Jack Dempseys or some other male Cichlids,
who will not tolerate each other's presence. In fact you can see
them displaying for the female right next to each other.
The older male is digging quite a bit at the other end of the
tank from the dominate female who is doing her own digging at this tanks
preferred breeding site. I'll see if I can take some pictures of
the action and add them to this web site.
One thing that is for sure, is that this is a very overlooked Cichlid
and it is surprising that it is not seen more often in the hobby.
I feel lucky that I have happened across this nice species.
One other note of interest. I am at work on converting an old
Macintosh into an approximately 2 gallon Macquarium. Once
I get it together, I am planning on finding a few small Killiefish
to add to this tank. I guess I've been keeping tropical fish for over
30 years, and can't quite seem to get enough of it. There is always
something new to try.
2/22/04 Some Sajica given away - Construction
of Macquarium Proceeds
Thinking that 9 Sajica in one tank doesn't provide enough space for spawning,
I've given away 5 of the smaller fish to a local fish store. It appears
that this is helping the situation, since the spawning tube of the larger
female is plainly visible for the first time. I have kept the original
surviving male, but since he is so much bigger than the others, he dominates
the tank. I'm thinking of moving him to a 10 gallon tank for a while
to see what happens. I'm also thinking of adding more rocks, so they
have a better chance of finding suitable cave to spawn in.
The Macquarium project is going along slowly, but it is nearing completion,
and I'll be adding a separate page with construction info. A friend
at work suggested using white LEDs for lighting. It looks like a
good solution and I'll be documenting that once I get a little further along
and put the page together.