Friday, November 14, 2008

Aquarium Additions : Shark and Platys

Shark catfishAbout a week ago, I was looking at the fish in Walmart (okay, I'm definitely hooked now!!), and saw a Shark Catfish (also referred to as Columbian Shark or White-Tipped Shark) which I had to have, especially for only $4. It really looks like a shark (and even swims like a shark), except for its big whiskers.

I have been trying to read up first, before making any purchases, but I knew I wouldn't be back to the store for some time, so I picked one up. When I got home, I read about how it can grow to 24" long (wow! I guess I'll be hoping he doesn't live that long), and therefore is not suitable for anything less than 100 gallon aquarium. Also, the young are okay with fresh water, but as they grow, they prefer brackish (somewhat salty) water, which the other fish may not tolerate.

I had been planning to buy some platy next, since they are live bearers, easy to care for, and the coral platy caught my eye in one store, with its red colour and black tail. But then I had picked up the 3 swordtails instead. The one female had suddenly gone skinny (I had wondered if she had given birth), and died not too long after. But then the male also showed signs of getting skinny (so couldn't be giving birth, in his case!), so I've isolated him in a small holding tank. But there he's stayed for almost 2 weeks now, not getting better, but not dying either, and occasionally showing interest in eating. But that only left one female swordtail in my 60 gallon aquarium, and room for some platys.

Today was a difficult day at work, and being a bit stuck at home all week since my son was sick and home from school, the kids and I went to the Mall for dinner and to pass the evening. I found the platys were on sale 3 for $7 (reg $4.88), so couldn't resist picking up a male and two females. It took me quite a while to spot a few females, since there were mostly males in the tank.

Pair of Mickey Mouse platyI ended up with a pair of what the sales clerk referred to as "Mickey Mouse platy". I didn't realize what he meant until I let them out into the aquarium tonight (see image left). What a lovely Mickey Mouse image on their tails! My sister, Rose, will appreciate this. She's a Disney and in particular, Mickey Mouse, fanatic.

Pretty female platy
The other female (image right) is a pretty mix of colours, sort of goldish silver, with a black swath along her side. Pretty neat.

My lone female swordtail, Comet, has pretty similar colouration and size and shape to the Mickey Mouse platys (see photo left). Except she has that lovely upturned snout, with the black marking (doesn't show in this image) which looks like a little moustache.

I love how the swordtail and the platys eat, just nibbling politely at the food (I've been feeding them all flakes, which I crush in my hand first). The goldfish, on the other hand, are aggressive, with their big extendible mouths, gulping very loudly at the surface of the water. In the morning, I can ever hear them gulping loudly at the water's surface before I get out of bed to feed them.

The shark catfish is an interesting fellow, since he doesn't spend his time on the bottom like a typical catfish. Instead, he swims up and down and around the tank. Even when he feeds, he will feed from the middle of the tank or even at the surface of the water. And also in a relaxed manner, not like those goldfish, which bump and push at each other as they fight over the food. I guess if I were to start an aquarium now, I would probably not start with the goldfish. But I have to admit, they have nice colours, and are entertaining to watch. They have taught my swordtail girl to also push her nose against the glass when I pass by (although not as violently as they do, opening & closing their mouths, as if to tell me they are STILL hungry).

Before I introduced the platys to the aquarium, I decided to finally pick up a nitrite test kit from the pet store, and tested my 60 gallon tank. The level was 0.1 (where 0.3 is still safe), so that is reassuring. It must be a good sign that I'm doing something right (I think all the live plants really help for water quality). I was beginning to feel bad with losing the two swordtails.

I still have the two neon tetras in another smaller aquarium, which I've set up in the kitchen in case one of the live bearers has babies, and I can actually get to them before the goldfish - which, I have a feeling, will be a quick race. I think that tank will work fine for that, if and when that time comes (which I hope will be soon).


Anna said...

Seems like a lot of work. I find that when I go to a home with an aquarium, I sit in front of it the whole time. The fish all have a different personality. Congrats on your new fishies.

Garden Lily said...

Yes, always something... My male swordtail finally died, poor guy. Now my shark catfish has a fuzzy growth (from my reading, I'm guessing it may be a fungus) on the side of his head, near the gills). I've quarantined him for now. I generally try to avoid using medicines, but if it gets worse, I should try to treat it, since it would not be fair to him not to try.

Garden Lily said...

Sadly, the shark catfish also died last night. I finally bought a fungus treatment for him, but a few hours after I added it to his holding tank, he was dead. Perhaps I added too much for the first treatment, I should have tried to underestimate the amount required, and possibly overestimated it instead.

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