Archive for July, 2008

Common Plecostomus

July 7, 2008

Common Plecostomus: ( Hypostomus Plecostomus)

Eats algae, grows huge.

Size: 16-24 inches

Aquarium Size: 100-300 gallons

Ah, good old plecos. You see many at the local fish store, anywhere from two inches to a foot. They are generally great algae eaters. But are they really the fish for you? You may not know it, but common plecos grow quite large. They can reach up to two feet long!

Plecos are generally lazy, relaxed, bottom dwellers. They like to hide in caves or near rocks, or maybe cling to the glass. They have armor clad scales, which protect them from predators and machine guns. If you have ever purchased a plecostomus, you will remember that when the pet stores employee put the net into the tank to catch  the fish, the pleco immediately zooms out of sight and goes crazy! That’s right, if alarmed, plecos will dash away very quickly. All plecostomus need hiding spots, such as rocks or driftwood. (Beware that driftwood can alter your aquarium’s pH). Those cool rocks with holes in them also work great. You can buy them in most/all lfstores. At this point I think it is a good idea to tell you that Common Plecos are territorial against each other. They might even “spin” at each other, ramming against each other’s armor plating. One will become the dominant pleco, and the subordinates will therefore get less food, and you know what that means.
Now you are probably saying that I am wrong because you see many plecos coexisting in one tank in the lfs. But things are totally different in the local fish store. They keep dozens of fish together in stuffed conditions. For instance cichlids. If you see that they are getting along at the store, you might buy some, but when they come home, you will be wondering why they are fighting. So please, NEVER use the local fish store as a role model! Now then. It’s possible to keep common plecostomus together. But it’s risky, especially as the grow large. Some get along, some don’t.

Another concern I would like to address is plecos not being able to get their food. It’s simple; other fish may reach their food before they do. Not to point any fingers, but goldfish and large cichlids are some typical culprits. Make sure your Plecostomus is getting his or her food! But what do Common Plecostomus eat? Algae wafers are great. But a diet made purely of these will make your pleco very bored. So throw in some cucumber, or blanched lettuce or spinach. For the cucumber,  cut it vertically so that your pleco doesn’t end up with a ring of cucumber around himself!
Yes Plecos eat algae. They CANNOT live on algae itself. It is only feasible as  a supplement. Nevertheless, they are good at eating it. It’s just that it isn’t enough for them.

Plecos may live well over 10 years with proper care.

Breeding: Documented in captivity, but not likely to happen. You can’t really even sex them :p
If it happens, it will most likely be an accident. If you do, though, good luck!

Plecos do well near a neutral pH, and a temperature between mid 70s and low 80s


July 6, 2008
Oscar: (Astronotus Ocellatus)
The aquatic dog.

Size: 12-15 inches

Aquarium Size: 75-300 gallons

Oscars are popular and common cichlids. They are often sold as two inch babies, just begging to be fed or taken home. Very very fucking cute, yes. But oscars grow VERY large, VERY quickly, and make a huge mess! They can grow to be almost a foot in one year. Don’t buy an oscar unless you have a 75+ gallon tank. The poor thing will have hardly any room to turn around. It’s possible to keep them in a 55, but that’s really pushing it.

Also, Many people who are not prepared for an oscar but buy one anyway end up having all their community tank fish eaten or killed, and when they try to give it away to a public aquarium or something, chances are it won’t be taken.

On a brighter note, oscars make great pets if you have a good and proper home for them. They become very friendly, often taking food from their owners hands. All oscars have their own personalities, but I can assure you that all of them are great. But beware the adult oscars can inflict wounds on you! As they mature you can feed them larger pellets/sticks, krill, shrimp, earthworms, as well as crickets and pesky in-laws. Really, oscars will eat anything. And that includes any other fish that will fit into their giant mouths.

Oscars are very mild tempered for cichlids, especially for South American cichlids. Although two male oscars may fight incessantly, oscars usually do not bother other fish (unless they can eat them, in which case they will.) If oscars are kept with other  large and aggressive fish, such as Red Devils, Buttikoferi, or Flowerhorns, the oscars might be bullied. It would be a wise idea to have a large tank, and possible introduce the oscars first. This does not mean that oscars are pussies though. Some oscars can be real bullies, and will even randomly kill other fish.  But for the most part, they are nice big fellows.

Breeding: Oscars are not extremely hard nor easy to breed. The main obstacle is obtaining a pair. Oscars are virtually impossible to sex unless you decide to vent them. The best way to go at it is to buy a large number of young oscars, and wait for them to pair off naturally. Once you acquire a pair, it is suggested that you have a very large tank, perhaps 150 gallons or even more. The female will lay the eggs and the male will fertilize them. At this point, the oscars will kill anything in the tank that they can. It’s highly recommended that you leave them alone in the tank. It is up to you whether you want to raise the fry yourself, or let the parents do the work. Oscars are good parents, and will defend their young visciously, as well as tend to them. Anyway, you can start feeding them things like infusoria, paramecia, or vinegar eels. Once they grow up little bit, you can feed the Brine Shrimp nauplii. They will grow quickly, and the next stage will be feeding them crushed flakes and pellets, and Brine Shrimp and the such. Beware that oscars can lay many, many eggs during each mating.

Oscars will do fine with a neutral pH, and a temperature around 78 degrees Fahrenheit. A little above or below is just fine.  It’s not rare to hear of an oscar that is well over 10 years old. So make sure to have a good home if you plan on buying an oscar, and it will provide you with years of fun!

Oh yes, the oscar morphs. In addition to tiger oscars, red oscars, and albino oscars, we have the long finned variety, which I think looks horrible. Here is a (leucistic) long finned oscar.



July 6, 2008
Convict: ( Archocentrus Nigrofasciatus)
Quite aggressive for such small little fish.
Size: 3-6 inches
Aquarium Size: 15-75 gallons
























Convicts are know for two things: Being aggressive, and breeding like crazy! They are very common and hardy cichlids. Their names refers to their pitch black stripes that rest upon their light black colored bodies. They are quite small, especially when you see them in the store. But do not be decived; pound for pound, ounce for ounce, the Convict is one of the most aggressive fish. They will fight and harass fish that are even twice their size. They have been known even to bully Oscars and stand up to Red Devils.

If you plan on keeping them with other fish (and letting the fish live, right? I’m assuming that when I write all these articles), then make sure the tank is big. They will destroy your average community fish, for example barbs, gouramis, tetras, as well as fish like Firemouths, perhaps the young of other cichlids, and Convicts themselves.

Now for the second thing Convicts are so well known for. They breed like  rabbits. Ask anyone who knows shit about fish, and they will tell you that Convicts are one of the easiest fish to breed. After a brood is removed, they will get to work on the next. They are great parents, and viciously defend their young. At that point, it would be wise to remove anything from the Convicts’ tank (unless you want it dead).

Breeding: As mentioned earlier, convicts are easy to breed. While it can be done in a tank as small as 10 gallons, one convict may constantly beat on and kill his or her mate (personal experience). For this reason it is better to have a larger tank, such as 29 gallons, or even larger. It’s a good idea to have a clay pot that is half dug into the gravel, for the female will lay her eggs in there. Convicts are great parents, and will protect their fry from anything-this includes YOU. There have been countless human deaths that could have been easily prevented-don’t stick your hand in a tank with a pair of breeding convicts. You have been warned.

Once the fry have used up their yolk after a few days, you can feed them powdered fry food, artemia nauplii, or even just finely crushed fish flakes. They will grow rapidly, so make sure you have a place for the babies to live when they grow up.

Convicts are tough, and can handle a pH anywhere between 6.2 and 7.7. It is recommended to keep the pH near neutral though, perhaps a bit on the acidic side. Convicts will do fine at temperatures of mid to high 70s.

So good luck keeping this little devil!!!!! 🙂