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December 27, 2012

 We’ve traveled all over the country looking for new fish to bring home to our own aquariums. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit worn out from the last month of travels. How about we do something at home instead? I have the perfect idea… 

Our travels of fish collecting are only a small portion to what our business brings in. We have collectors all over the world out fishing the waters of the deep so that we can offer you a wide variety of fish for your home, office, or even public aquarium. Well we were out tromping the lagoons of Brazil one of our collectors from South America sent us a few boxes of fish a couple of weeks ago that are 100% healthy and ready to go. I’m sure there’s a few of you out there that may have received a new aquarium for the holiday, or looking to revamp your pervious one, so I thought it would be the perfect time to help you set up a South American biotope.

To begin, I would suggest laying down a base of substrate for the plants to take root in. I would recommend ADA Amazonia for this. It will provide the nutrients the plants need well providing a dark substrate to bring out the natural colors of the fish. Once this is down you can fill sand into the bottom to the level of your desire. Now that the substrate is in I would recommend placing the decorations you would like before filling the aquarium. I usually place a few pieces of drift wood in the corners and then plant my plants around these. Once everything looks like it’s in the right place I’ll take a pitcher and begin filling the tank by pouring water over the drift wood. This way the plants are not too disturbed by the water. After the water is about halfway up you can use the gravel-vac without problems. For the lighting I would recommend Aquaticlife’s T-5 HO fixtures. How many bulbs you go with really depends on what type of plants you have chosen to grow. After a few weeks of letting the tank cycle and the plants to take root I think we can head over the website,, to see what new additions we can introduce into your tank. I’ve taken the liberty of picking out a few items that I think will make wonderful additions to the tank.

My first recommendation will add plenty of color to the aquarium as most of the Paracheirodon simulans “Green Neon Tetra” is imported in from Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil out the Rio Orinoco and Rio Negro. These wild fish exhibit a brilliant blue stripe down the side of the body, much like its popular cousin, Paracheirodon axelrodi “Cardinal Tetra”. Green Neons that come from different tributaries seem to show slight color varations. I’ve noticed that the specimens collected out of Colombia seem to display a touch of red on their side. Even though the fish only reach a maximum size of about an inch, this striking blue bar can be seen all the way across the room. Now I’m sure you’re a little worried about all the reports you’ve read about the fish coming from blackwater biotopes with a pH no greater than that of battery acid. Well we’ve conditioned all of our fish to tolerate a neutral pH so that you don’t have to worry about breaking out the RO unit. Unless you are planning on taking on what seems to be near impossible of breeding Green Neons I do not feel keeping them in such acidic conditions is as important as keeping them in clean water.

Paracheirodon simulans

Now that you have an incredible school of blue swimming around the mid to upper areas of the tank, let’s put something just as flashy under them. One of my favorite dwarf cichlids, Dicrossus filamentosa “Checkerboard Cichlid” came in from Brazil a few weeks ago. After a few feedings I would say they would be a perfect group to have hanging out with the Green Neons. Once they reach sexual maturity the males will display their pastel red, blue, and green colors on a “checkerboard” black and white body for one another in hopes of courting one of the ripe females. After a brief “battle” the male leads his prized female to an underside of a leaf (Anubius is usually the best for the spawning to occur). If the tank parameters are right a successful spawn may occur. From what I’ve read and experimented with myself, this usually only occurs if the water is very soft. I have never seen one get this large, but the males can grow up to 4” and the females will max out at about 3”. The males develop these elegant filament extensions on their caudal fin that is etched in an exquisite light red and blue that matches the dorsal and anal fin. The sight of two males in full display is a reward all on its own.

Dicrossus filamentosa

As often happens with importing fish it seems that our vendor has sent us another misidentified Corydoras species. What was supposed to be Corydoras axelrodi turned out to be Corydoras sp. “Decker” CW21. Given how close the two fish resemble each other it’s easy to see the mix up in this case. Basically Corydoras sp. CW21 has another faint black line under the bold stripe found running down the body which Corydoras axelrodi is missing. This is actually a pleasant surprise as CW21 is rarely imported into the states. This delightful little bottom dweller will be a wonderful addition to the other fish that now inhabit the aquarium. Plus, these guys will eat up any food that gets left behind from the tetras and cichlids.

Corydoras sp. "Deckeri"

The tank looks to be coming along nicely. In fact it looks like you’ve come across a small algae problem developing on the plants and decorations. It’s still at the “brown” algae stage, so I would recommend throwing in a group of Otocinclus affinis to take care of this before it gets out hand. These 2” fish will make short work of the weak stages of algae.

Otocinclus affinis

If it does get to the “green” stage of algae I would recommend also putting in one or two Chaetostoma milesi “Spotted Rubberlip” L444. The mouths of these bigger Loricariids are a lot more powerful and can chew the stronger algae with a little more ease. I’ve always kept at least one of the Spotted Rubberlip Plecos in my tank just to keep the algae down.

Chaetostoma milesi

With all the fish in place and doing their jobs I would say you’re just about at full capacity. Well what’s left else to do but to pull up the recliner, enjoy a nice cold beverage, and enjoy the last couple of weeks of work that we put into building an aquarium that would make even Mr. Amano proud?I know it’s an addiction, and you can’t help yourself. Go ahead and look at this week’s list. I’m sure there’s something you just got to have in your new tank!

Can’t wait to get you started on your next project!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager