Aquarium Fish

UV Sterilizers Control Bacteria and Algae

posted: 05/15/12

What does a UV sterilizer do?

A UV sterilizer is used to control infections by stopping the spread of microorganisms from one fish/coral/invertebrate to another through the water. It is also used in pond applications to control free-floating algae. When operated correctly, free-floating microorganisms will be killed by the UV light. Note that the organisms must be in the water that flows to the UV sterilizer. The UV light has no residual effect and will not kill organisms attached to fish (e.g., adult stage of ich) or rocks (e.g., algae).

How do UV sterilizers work?

The UV sterilizer utilizes a germicidal fluorescent lamp that produces light at a wavelength of approximately 254 nanometers (2537 Angstroms). The water with the bacteria/algae passes over the bulb (or around the bulb if a quartz sleeve is used) and is irradiated with this wavelength. As the light penetrates the bacteria/algae, it mutates the DNA (genetic material), preventing growth/multiplication of the organism.

What factors influence the effectiveness of UV sterilizers?

- Size and type of organism: Theoretically UV radiation can kill viruses, bacteria, algae, and protozoa. In general, larger organisms, such as protozoa, require a higher dose of UV radiation than smaller organisms, such as bacteria. But there are also differences between various organisms of the same type: some bacteria are more resistant to UV radiation than others.

- Power of bulb: The amount of UV light produced by the bulb is reflected in the wattage of the bulb. Bulbs with a higher wattage produce more UV light. The ability of the germicidal fluorescent lamp to produce UV light decreases with age, and in most cases, the bulb needs replacement every 6 months. UV light is best produced at temperatures of 104-110°F; cooler temperatures will result in less output.

- UV penetration: If the UV light can not penetrate the water, it will not be effective. Higher water turbidity will decrease penetration. UV sterilizers should be placed after the biological and mechanical filters so the water is as clear as possible when it enters the sterilizer. Salinity also affects penetration; UV light penetrates freshwater better than saltwater. Finally, cleanliness of the lamp or sleeve is important. If a film or mineral deposit covers the lamp or sleeve, the light will be partially or totally blocked. The distance of the lamp from the water also influences the effectiveness. UV light will only penetrate clear saltwater to a depth of 5mm.

- Contact time: The longer the amount of time the water is being exposed to the UV light, the more killing power is available. The contact time, sometimes referred to as "dwell time," is influenced by flow rate of the water: slower flow rates increase contact time. The length of the bulb also affects the contact time; with a longer bulb, the water is in contact with the UV light for a longer period of time. Another variable to consider is the turnover time (amount of time required to have the entire volume of water in the aquarium pass through the sterilizer). Since the "sterilized" water constantly mixes with the water in the aquarium as it returns, it is impossible to "sterilize" all the water in the aquarium. That would only be possible if all the water would be removed, sterilized, and then returned to the aquarium at one time. This may result in sterilized water, but would certainly raise havoc with the aquarium inhabitants! Calculating turnover time is mathematically difficult, but can be approximated with the following formula:

How do UV sterilizers work? (continued)

- Temperature: UV light is best produced at temperatures of 104-110°F; cooler temperatures will result in less output. Quartz sleeves help to insulate the bulb from the cooler aquarium water and thus maintain a higher UV output.

Killing Dose of UV light* (Microwatt seconds per square centimeter)

Viruses = 15,000

Algae = 22,000 — 30,000

Protozoa = 90,000

- Note: These are generalities; some specific organisms in these groups may require more or less of a dose than indicated.

In which types of systems should UV sterilizers be used and what are the benefits?

A UV sterilizer may be used in any aquarium, however, in smaller aquariums (less than 24 gallons), the cost of the unit may make it impractical. UV sterilizers are most helpful in multiple tank systems that share a common filter. In a single tank system, they are beneficial in controlling the spread of an infectious disease if one occurs. This is especially true in heavily stocked tanks and those with large amounts of live rock and corals that could make catching and isolating a diseased fish difficult, or the use of certain medications contraindicated. Disease control is especially important when adding new fish to an established aquarium, since 98 percent of the hobbyists do not use a quarantine aquarium.

In ponds, UV sterilizers are one of the best ways to control free-floating algae, allowing the pond owner to see and enjoy the fish. The UV sterilizer will also kill free-floating bacteria in the pond water.

What are the limitations and potentially harmful side effects of UV sterilizers?

UV sterilizers are NOT a replacement for good biological and mechanical filtration, regular water changes, and proper control of the nitrogen cycle. A UV sterilizer should be considered as an insurance policy.

UV sterilizers will be ineffective against string algae or other nuisance or disease-causing organisms that are not free swimming in the water.

While the UV sterilizer will usually do no harm, it should not be used when first cycling the aquarium, as it may kill beneficial bacteria before they attach to the bio-media or gravel.

What are the limitations and potentially harmful side effects of UV sterilizers? (continued)

Many medications can be "denatured" by the UV light, so the sterilizer should be turned off when using medications, especially chelated copper treatments. The UV light will "break" the bond of the chelating agent, and the aquarium will have a sudden, lethal concentration of ionic copper.

The UV sterilizer can be used to control parasites, but the flow rate required is so slow that it is somewhat impractical on larger aquariums, unless larger (40W+) UV systems are used.

UV sterilizers can heat the water as it passes through, especially if the unit is larger than necessary for the tank size. A chiller may be necessary to keep the aquarium water at the appropriate temperature.

What styles of UV sterilizers are available?

The styles of UV sterilizers relate to their orientation when in use (horizontal or vertical) or their position in the water flow (in-line or hang-on). All vertical units must be used vertically, while some of the horizontal (Rainbow) units can be used vertically as well as horizontally. Some styles can be used in-line or hung on the back of the tank. Specialized units are designed to be used in outdoor/pond applications.

A newer style of UV sterilizer, called the "double helix," increases the contact time between the water and the UV light because the water makes a double spiral pass over the tube.

Models may or may not have a quartz sleeve. Those with a sleeve are sometimes called "dry bulbs." Cold water systems must have a quartz sleeve to maintain the proper output of UV light. A sleeve makes periodic cleaning and bulb replacement easier.

According to Robert Fenner, a well-known aquarist, author, and speaker, features of a good UV sterilizer include:

- A separate (remote) ballast unit that can be positioned in a place free of heat and water damage

- An indicator light to check for "on" operation

- An "automatic on" feature to turn the UV unit back on in the event of a temporary power loss

- Couplings that are easily fitted to your system

- A quartz or teflon sleeve at little or no additional cost

- All noncorrosive water-contact surfaces

- Acceptable guarantees and warranties

How is the correct size of a UV sterilizer determined?

This is about the only "complicated" part to the use of a sterilizer. For proper use, the UV sterilizer must be matched to the proper flow rate to ensure an efficient "kill dose" for the organisms you wish to eliminate. This flow rate must be matched to the size of the aquarium to ensure the proper number of "turn-overs" of the water. Most manufacturers will provide a table that recommends the maximum aquarium size and appropriate flow rate for each model they make. When comparing manufacturers, realize ratings may differ as to whether they take into account:

- Bulb efficiency: Some use 100 percent efficiency, others a lower efficiency (e.g., 60 percent observed towards the end of the bulb life)

- Organism to be killed: Bacteria/algae or protozoa

- Water clarity: Clear or turbid

- Transmission loss through the quartz sleeve

These differences make it very difficult to provide general rules of thumb. Check with the manufacturer if you are unsure on how the ratings are calculated.

How is a UV sterilizer installed?

The UV sterilizer should be the last piece of equipment in the system before the water is returned to the aquarium. It should be preceded by the biological and mechanical filters, and any chemical filter or heat exchanger in the system. Follow the manufacturer's directions on installation. Most units use hose barb connectors to attach to the appropriate water pump or are designed to allow add-on connectors as a PVC slip fit or hose barb attachment.

What is the proper maintenance schedule for UV sterilizers?

The quartz sleeve will need to be checked monthly and removed and cleaned with rubbing alcohol. Some larger UV sterilizers have wiper mechanism units installed for easier maintenance.

For most units, the UV bulb will need to be replaced after 6 months of continuous use, however, this time may vary so be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations. When installing or changing a bulb, never look directly at the bulb when the unit is turned on. Doing so can result in permanent damage to your eyes. (The damage can occur without you feeling any discomfort.)

Always disconnect the unit from the electricity when performing maintenance to protect against possible shock. When turned on, the bulb becomes especially hot when in the air and submerging it in water may cause it to break.

References and Further Reading

Fenner, RM. The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. TFH Publications, Neptune City, NY. 2001.

Tullock, JH. Successful Saltwater Aquariums. Energy Savers Unlimited, Carson, CA.1994.

Quality Marine. http://qualitymarineusa.com/drygoods/uv.html

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Aquarium Fish

Gold Algae Eater

posted: 05/15/12
goldalgae0
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Gold Algae Eater
Courtesy of Drs. Foster and Smith
More FishReady for the next catfish? Check out the Jaguar Catfish. , Back to Catfish — Overview. , Open the [b]Main Menu[/b].

This slender algae eater has a silver underbelly with a bright yellow/gold back. A horizontal line that is patterned runs along the side. The Gold Algae Eater comes from Northern India. It is usually kept in tanks for the purpose of keeping algae under control.

A minimum of a 40 gallon tank is recommended with plenty of plants, rocks, and driftwood for hiding. It can handle different water conditions, but water quality should remain constant to avoid stress. In smaller community tanks the Gold Algae Eater will defend its territory. Caution should be used when maintaining this species with discus and larger angelfish, as the catfish will often harass these species.

Breeding has not been seen or been successful in an aquarium setting. There is little known about sexing the male and female except that the male tends to have more pronounced "thorns" around the mouth.

The main source of food is algae on plants, rocks, glass, and driftwood. Algae based wafers should be provided if there is a lack of algae.

Ideal tank mates include: South American Cichlids of similar size, Rainbowfish, Larger Barbs, Danios, Gouramis, Mollies, Swordtails, Plecos and Scavenger Catfish.

Fish Facts

Name: Gold Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilos aymonieri)

Family: Gyrinocheilidae

Range: Asia

Size: Up to 12 inches

Diet: Herbivore

Tank Set-up: Freshwater: Plants, rocks, driftwood

Tank Conditions: 74-79°F; pH 6.8-74; dH 8-10

Minimum Tank Capacity: 40 gallons

Light: Medium

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Swimming Level: Bottom

Care Level: Easy

Reproduction: Egg Layer

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Aquarium Fish

Algae: Controlling its Growth

posted: 05/15/12
Jump to: Page 2, Back to Equipment & Water — Overview. , Main Menu

Actually, the title of this article is a bit misleading. We can never "control" algae; we can only try to keep it "under control." To accomplish this, we must understand what conditions encourage the growth of algae and how they can be limited. The two factors that we must consider are light and nutrients.

Light

Light is one of the more perplexing components to algae control, as algae will thrive under low OR high intensities. Without aquatic plants, low light conditions will favor the growth of algae, since there is no competition for the light or other nutrients.

In freshwater planted aquariums, the use of full spectrum lighting will promote the growth of plants, which will restrict the growth of algae. If these bulbs are over 1 year old, loss of intensity might promote algae. If you notice this, replace the bulbs.

In most saltwater applications, the lighting intensity will be greater and if there are no competing organisms (corals, anemones), algae has all the light it needs. Many actinic and metal halide lights will require replacement after 6 months.

Nutrients

Almost all slime algae growth is caused by excessive nutrients, and true algae will also be more difficult to restrict if nutrient levels are too high. The two principal nutrients we need to control are nitrate and phosphate. Both of these are end-products of the fish and bacterial digestion of foods. Obviously, the less food we feed, the fewer nitrates and phosphate will accumulate in the aquarium. Since fish do need to eat, we need to take other approaches of control.

In freshwater aquariums, the presence of true aquatic plants will make better use of the nutrients, "starving" the algae. This is particularly true when we can keep the pH level between 6.5 and 7.0, where the plants will utilize the ammonium as a nitrogen source, but the excess ammonium will NOT be toxic to the fish.

In saltwater reef aquariums, the corals, anemones, and coralline algae will also out-compete the algae, as long as we keep the nutrient levels as low as possible. In the mini-reef, this means nitrate levels below 10 PPM and phosphate levels below 0.10PPM. (Even these levels are hundreds of times higher than the natural conditions. Paradoxically, the coral reef is actually a nutritional wasteland with an abundance of thriving organisms, thanks to the power of the sun.)

We can use phosphate removing pads or resins to help control the phosphate. The pads are used for a 72-hour period to reduce built-up levels, while the resins can be placed in the filter system for long-term control. To control nitrate, we must control the digestion of extra proteins in the water. In saltwater aquariums, we can utilize a protein skimmer to remove the proteins BEFORE they are digested. For most freshwater applications, this is not a practical solution. Another option is the use of protein-adsorbing resins which effectively prevent digestion of the proteins. As the resins become saturated, they will need to be replaced or recharged. Specialized De-Nitrators can also be used to "eat" the nitrate.

Other control measures

Algaecides

In freshwater systems (without plants) we can apply algaecides to help keep the algae production under control. This option also exists in Fish Only saltwater tanks, by using a low level of copper (0.010 PPM). But for saltwater aquariums with fish and invertebrates or corals, copper is NOT an option and can be toxic to the invertebrates and coral. It is also toxic to some fish.

Controlled cultivation

If there are plenty of corals and the like to compete, it is possible to cultivate green algae in areas of the aquarium where it does not annoy us. This will limit the growth of algae in areas where we do not want it.

More on slime algae

Nuisance slime algae is a problem in saltwater aquariums, particularly with new tanks where conditions will vary more than in a mature system. Usually the brown style is the first algae to appear, followed by a green slime. These are a Cyanobacter species of bacteria, not true algae, so lighting is of little importance. Sudden appearances in a well-established aquarium could be related to a decrease in metabolism in the competing organism caused by a decrease in intensity of older lights. Once again, replace the bulbs.

Even with our best efforts, sometimes the slime Cyanobacter will appear to take over. In that event, it is best to turn off your pumps, gently wipe the slime off the glass, gravel and rocks, and let it settle and siphon it out of the aquarium. There are "slime" treatments that will "kill" the Cyanobacter (active ingredient is erythromycin), and in some cases they will eliminate the slime. Remove the excess slime before treatment, and make sure the nitrate and phosphate levels are as low as possible.

Hair algae

Perhaps one of the other great scourges is hair algae. While nutrient control is still essential, in the saltwater aquarium we can utilize Scarlet Leg and Blue Leg Hermit Crabs to eat the offending algae. Also, if the calcium levels are maintained above 350 PPM, the coralline algae will compete for attachment sites. In freshwater aquariums, some success has been reported using Glass (Ghost) Shrimp to control hair algae. If you develop "brush" or "beard" algae on the leaves in your freshwater aquarium, the best method of control is to prune the affected leaves before it spreads. It has been reported that higher levels of CO2 will help control these algae, perhaps by making the true plants healthier and less likely to allow attachment of the algae to their leaves. When all is said and done, prevention is the best method of control.

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Aquarium Fish

UV Sterilizers Control Bacteria and Algae

posted: 05/15/12

What does a UV sterilizer do?

A UV sterilizer is used to control infections by stopping the spread of microorganisms from one fish/coral/invertebrate to another through the water. It is also used in pond applications to control free-floating algae. When operated correctly, free-floating microorganisms will be killed by the UV light. Note that the organisms must be in the water that flows to the UV sterilizer. The UV light has no residual effect and will not kill organisms attached to fish (e.g., adult stage of ich) or rocks (e.g., algae).

How do UV sterilizers work?

The UV sterilizer utilizes a germicidal fluorescent lamp that produces light at a wavelength of approximately 254 nanometers (2537 Angstroms). The water with the bacteria/algae passes over the bulb (or around the bulb if a quartz sleeve is used) and is irradiated with this wavelength. As the light penetrates the bacteria/algae, it mutates the DNA (genetic material), preventing growth/multiplication of the organism.

What factors influence the effectiveness of UV sterilizers?

- Size and type of organism: Theoretically UV radiation can kill viruses, bacteria, algae, and protozoa. In general, larger organisms, such as protozoa, require a higher dose of UV radiation than smaller organisms, such as bacteria. But there are also differences between various organisms of the same type: some bacteria are more resistant to UV radiation than others.

- Power of bulb: The amount of UV light produced by the bulb is reflected in the wattage of the bulb. Bulbs with a higher wattage produce more UV light. The ability of the germicidal fluorescent lamp to produce UV light decreases with age, and in most cases, the bulb needs replacement every 6 months. UV light is best produced at temperatures of 104-110°F; cooler temperatures will result in less output.

- UV penetration: If the UV light can not penetrate the water, it will not be effective. Higher water turbidity will decrease penetration. UV sterilizers should be placed after the biological and mechanical filters so the water is as clear as possible when it enters the sterilizer. Salinity also affects penetration; UV light penetrates freshwater better than saltwater. Finally, cleanliness of the lamp or sleeve is important. If a film or mineral deposit covers the lamp or sleeve, the light will be partially or totally blocked. The distance of the lamp from the water also influences the effectiveness. UV light will only penetrate clear saltwater to a depth of 5mm.

- Contact time: The longer the amount of time the water is being exposed to the UV light, the more killing power is available. The contact time, sometimes referred to as "dwell time," is influenced by flow rate of the water: slower flow rates increase contact time. The length of the bulb also affects the contact time; with a longer bulb, the water is in contact with the UV light for a longer period of time. Another variable to consider is the turnover time (amount of time required to have the entire volume of water in the aquarium pass through the sterilizer). Since the "sterilized" water constantly mixes with the water in the aquarium as it returns, it is impossible to "sterilize" all the water in the aquarium. That would only be possible if all the water would be removed, sterilized, and then returned to the aquarium at one time. This may result in sterilized water, but would certainly raise havoc with the aquarium inhabitants! Calculating turnover time is mathematically difficult, but can be approximated with the following formula:

9.2 x gallons in tank

flow rate in gallons per hour

=

number of hours for one turnover

How do UV sterilizers work? (continued)

- Temperature: UV light is best produced at temperatures of 104-110°F; cooler temperatures will result in less output. Quartz sleeves help to insulate the bulb from the cooler aquarium water and thus maintain a higher UV output.

Killing Dose of UV light* (Microwatt seconds per square centimeter)

Viruses = 15,000

Bacteria = 15,000 — 30,000

Algae = 22,000 — 30,000

Fungi = 45,000

Protozoa = 90,000

* Note: These are generalities; some specific organisms in these groups may require more or less of a dose than indicated.

In which types of systems should UV sterilizers be used and what are the benefits?

A UV sterilizer may be used in any aquarium, however, in smaller aquariums (less than 24 gallons), the cost of the unit may make it impractical. UV sterilizers are most helpful in multiple tank systems that share a common filter. In a single tank system, they are beneficial in controlling the spread of an infectious disease if one occurs. This is especially true in heavily stocked tanks and those with large amounts of live rock and corals that could make catching and isolating a diseased fish difficult, or the use of certain medications contraindicated. Disease control is especially important when adding new fish to an established aquarium, since 98 percent of the hobbyists do not use a quarantine aquarium.

In ponds, UV sterilizers are one of the best ways to control free-floating algae, allowing the pond owner to see and enjoy the fish. The UV sterilizer will also kill free-floating bacteria in the pond water.

What are the limitations and potentially harmful side effects of UV sterilizers?

UV sterilizers are NOT a replacement for good biological and mechanical filtration, regular water changes, and proper control of the nitrogen cycle. A UV sterilizer should be considered as an insurance policy.

UV sterilizers will be ineffective against string algae or other nuisance or disease-causing organisms that are not free swimming in the water.

While the UV sterilizer will usually do no harm, it should not be used when first cycling the aquarium, as it may kill beneficial bacteria before they attach to the bio-media or gravel.

What are the limitations and potentially harmful side effects of UV sterilizers? (continued)

Many medications can be "denatured" by the UV light, so the sterilizer should be turned off when using medications, especially chelated copper treatments. The UV light will "break" the bond of the chelating agent, and the aquarium will have a sudden, lethal concentration of ionic copper.

The UV sterilizer can be used to control parasites, but the flow rate required is so slow that it is somewhat impractical on larger aquariums, unless larger (40W+) UV systems are used.

UV sterilizers can heat the water as it passes through, especially if the unit is larger than necessary for the tank size. A chiller may be necessary to keep the aquarium water at the appropriate temperature.

What styles of UV sterilizers are available?

The styles of UV sterilizers relate to their orientation when in use (horizontal or vertical) or their position in the water flow (in-line or hang-on). All vertical units must be used vertically, while some of the horizontal (Rainbow) units can be used vertically as well as horizontally. Some styles can be used in-line or hung on the back of the tank. Specialized units are designed to be used in outdoor/pond applications.

A newer style of UV sterilizer, called the "double helix," increases the contact time between the water and the UV light because the water makes a double spiral pass over the tube.

Models may or may not have a quartz sleeve. Those with a sleeve are sometimes called "dry bulbs." Cold water systems must have a quartz sleeve to maintain the proper output of UV light. A sleeve makes periodic cleaning and bulb replacement easier.

According to Robert Fenner, a well-known aquarist, author, and speaker, features of a good UV sterilizer include:

- A separate (remote) ballast unit that can be positioned in a place free of heat and water damage

- An indicator light to check for "on" operation

- An "automatic on" feature to turn the UV unit back on in the event of a temporary power loss

- Couplings that are easily fitted to your system

- A quartz or teflon sleeve at little or no additional cost

- All noncorrosive water-contact surfaces

- Acceptable guarantees and warranties

How is the correct size of a UV sterilizer determined?

This is about the only "complicated" part to the use of a sterilizer. For proper use, the UV sterilizer must be matched to the proper flow rate to ensure an efficient "kill dose" for the organisms you wish to eliminate. This flow rate must be matched to the size of the aquarium to ensure the proper number of "turn-overs" of the water. Most manufacturers will provide a table that recommends the maximum aquarium size and appropriate flow rate for each model they make. When comparing manufacturers, realize ratings may differ as to whether they take into account:

- Bulb efficiency: Some use 100 percent efficiency, others a lower efficiency (e.g., 60 percent observed towards the end of the bulb life)

- Organism to be killed: Bacteria/algae or protozoa

- Water clarity: Clear or turbid

- Transmission loss through the quartz sleeve

These differences make it very difficult to provide general rules of thumb. Check with the manufacturer if you are unsure on how the ratings are calculated.

How is a UV sterilizer installed?

The UV sterilizer should be the last piece of equipment in the system before the water is returned to the aquarium. It should be preceded by the biological and mechanical filters, and any chemical filter or heat exchanger in the system. Follow the manufacturer's directions on installation. Most units use hose barb connectors to attach to the appropriate water pump or are designed to allow add-on connectors as a PVC slip fit or hose barb attachment.

What is the proper maintenance schedule for UV sterilizers?

The quartz sleeve will need to be checked monthly and removed and cleaned with rubbing alcohol. Some larger UV sterilizers have wiper mechanism units installed for easier maintenance.

For most units, the UV bulb will need to be replaced after 6 months of continuous use, however, this time may vary so be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations. When installing or changing a bulb, never look directly at the bulb when the unit is turned on. Doing so can result in permanent damage to your eyes. (The damage can occur without you feeling any discomfort.)

Always disconnect the unit from the electricity when performing maintenance to protect against possible shock. When turned on, the bulb becomes especially hot when in the air and submerging it in water may cause it to break.

References and Further Reading

Fenner, RM. The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. TFH Publications, Neptune City, NY. 2001.

Tullock, JH. Successful Saltwater Aquariums. Energy Savers Unlimited, Carson, CA. 1994.

Quality Marine. http://qualitymarineusa.com/drygoods/uv.html

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Aquarium Fish
General

Clown Fish

posted: 04/29/14
clownfish-little-debbie-2600w-250x150
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Clown Fish
Tum3000/Veer

Allow me to introduce Myself: I am a Clownfish. No joke!

Where You'll Most Likely Find Me: We live on the ocean floor in the Pacific and Indian Oceans as well as the Red Sea and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. We also like shallow lagoons.

What I Like to Eat: Algae, krill, zooplankton, and brine shrimp

Betcha Didn't Know This About Me: Clownfish are hermaphrodites, which means they are born as boys and turn into breeding females when they mature or if their female leader dies.

What's In a Name: Our name is derived from our bright colors that resemble a circus clown. We also are called Anemonefish.

Appearance: We are colorful, vibrant saltwater fish. There are 28 species of us all with different colors: orange, red, yellow, maroon among others. Three white stripes inside black lines run vertically on our bodies: between our heads, our middle bodies and our tails.

Now I Know Where I've Seen Ya: Been racking your brain on where you've seen us before? We'll help you out. Nemo, the star of the 2003 Disney film "Finding Nemo" was a clownfish (his color was orange). Nemo's father, Marlin, was a clownfish too.

Size: We are a tiny bunch. On average, we won't grow any larger than five inches long and can be as small as two inches long.

Perfect Harmony: We have an extremely mutually beneficial relationship with anemones. In fact, we are best buds. Anemones look like flowers, but they are actually fish-eating animals with poisonous tentacles all over their bodies. After an anemone paralyzes and fatally wounds its prey, we eat the parts of the fish they don't want. In return, we eat the anemone's dead tentacles and protect them from underwater hunters. We don't get stung because over time we build up immunity to the anemone's deadly poising.

Pop in the Tank: See these fish in action on the live clownfish cam from the guys at Acrylic Tank Manufacturing, home to Animal Planet's hit show Tanked.

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General

Flamingo

posted: 04/29/14
flamingo-little-debbie-2600w-250x150
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Flamingo
Andy Dean/Veer

Allow me to introduce Myself:I'm a Flamingo!

Where You'll Most Likely Find Me: Shallow waters including lakes and lagoons in South Florida and Texas. Also some parts of the Caribbean.

What I Like to Eat: Algae, aquatic invertebrates, tiny fish and crustaceans

Betcha Didn't Know This About Me: We are known for our ability to grow old gracefully. Some of us can live to be about 50 years old in the wild.

Who We Are: Tall birds that spend our time wading in tropical waters. We can also swim and fly. Our claim to fame is our magnificent and bright colored plumage. Even our name "flamingo" comes from the Spanish and Latin word "flamenco" which translates to fire. This reference is made to our colorful feathers.

Where You Might See Us: If you are a gambling man, and want to venture out to Sin City, you'll spot us hanging out at the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat at Las Vegas' Flamingo Hotel. A huge flock of Chilean flamingos reside at the habitat.

Milk Does the Body Good: We are only one of two groups of birds that feed our young high-fat, high-protein milk from the mother. The other bird is the pigeon.

Shape: We have large bodies and skinny, long legs; extremely long necks and small heads. Most of our feathers are pink, orange and crimson with the brightest pink colors under the wing.

Courting: In groups, we perform ritualized stretching and preening to attract a mate. Males stay in groups and run with their bills pointed toward the sky holding their necks straight out. When we show interest in a particular flamingo, we eek out a special call that we use to make our love intentions known.

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Fish

Kamba Catfish

posted: 03/18/14

Chrysichthys cranchii which is called the kamba in the Congo, is a pretty big fellow. Fishbase.org lists its maximum length as around 5 feet, with a top weight of nearly 300 pounds, and there's a semi-credible report of one that topped out a foot longer and 100 pounds heavier. It's one of 59 members of the family Claroteidae, a clan that also includes the giraffe catfish (Auchenoglanis occidentalis) and the African big eye catfish (Chrysichthys longipinnis), both of which have more charismatic monikers. Depending on what country you’re in and what language you speak, the kamba is also known as the kanzema, kokuni, the manora or the tshirima.

The Mystery Fish

Sadly, there's not a wealth of research data available about the Chrysichthys cranchii. But we can tell you that its skull and teeth were once used as sacred objects in initiation rituals by the Lega people of the southeastern Congo, for whom it traditionally was an important food source. Like other claroteids, the brown and black fish has a moderately elongated body and four pairs of barbels (barbels resemble a cat's whiskers), along with dorsal and pectoral fins with strong spines.

Albert C. L. G. Günther's 1864 reference work "Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum" notes more species-specific details: a striated head, broad snout, a dorsal fin as high as the body, and a considerably shorter adipose fin. The fish's reproductive patterns, lifespan and precise diet are question marks, though we'll guess that like other African catfish, it's probably an omnivore that will dine on everything from algae and aquatic plants to shrimp, snails, crawfish, small fish and insects.

How to Catch One

Oddly, considering Chrysichthys cranchii's impressive dimensions, there aren't a lot of fishing safari promoters on the Web clamoring to help you catch one, so fishing advice is scarce. You could follow the Lega people's centuries-old lutumpu method of catching the giant catfish. The men of the village dragged branches with leaves through the river and chased the fish into a big net held by a row of the tribe's women. That requires a pretty big crew of helpers, though, so you might want to try a heavy-duty rod and reel. Like other catfish, it's a bottom feeder, so you may want to use a boat instead of fishing from shore.

Why You Should Return it to the River

Chrysichthys cranchii is not a particularly resilient fish. According to Fishbase.org, it can take between 4.5 and 14 years for its population to double, so every mature fish that you take is one that isn't available to replenish the species.

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Fish

Suni Catfish

posted: 03/18/14
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Suni Catfish
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This obscure variety of catfish, found throughout the Congo River system, seems to have an identity crisis. In scientific nomenclature, it's known as both Chrysichthys cranchii and as Amarginops cranchii. Fishing-worldrecords.com calls it the suni, which also happens to be the name of a type of dwarf African antelope, while in the Fishbase.org database, it's the kanzema, kokuni, the manora, or the tshirima, depending upon what language you speak or what country you're from. In this article, we'll call it the suni catfish.

Fishbase lists its maximum length as around 5 feet, with a top weight of nearly 300 pounds, though there's a semi-credible report of one that topped out a foot longer and 100 pounds heavier. It's one of 59 members of the family Claroteidae, a clan that also includes the giraffe catfish (Auchenoglanis occidentalis) and the African big eye catfish (Chrysichthys longipinnis), both of which have very charismatic monikers. If you want to catch a truly enormous catfish, though, this monster might be the ticket.

The Mystery Fish

Sadly, there's not a wealth of research data available about the suni catfish from the Congo. But we can tell you that its skull and teeth were once used as sacred objects in initiation rituals by the Lega people of the southeastern Congo, for whom it traditionally was an important food source. Like other claroteids, the brown and black fish has a moderately elongated body and four pairs of barbels (barbels resemble a cat's whiskers) along with dorsal and pectoral fins with strong spines.

Albert C. L. G. Günther's 1864 reference work "Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum" notes more species-specific details: a striated head, broad snout, a dorsal fin as high as the body, and a considerably shorter adipose fin. The fish's reproductive patterns, lifespan and precise diet are question marks, though we'll guess that like other African catfish, they're probably omnivores who dine on everything from algae and aquatic plants to shrimp, snails, crawfish, small fish and insects.

How to Catch One

Oddly, considering its truly impressive dimensions, there aren't a lot of fishing safari promoters on the Web clamoring to help you catch one, so fishing advice is scarce. You could follow the Lega people's centuries-old lutumpu method of catching the giant catfish: The men of the village dragged branches with leaves through the river and chased the fish into a big net held by a row of the tribe's women. That requires a pretty big crew of helpers, though, so you might want to try a heavy-duty rod and reel. Like other catfish, it's a bottom feeder, so you may want to use a boat instead of fishing from shore.

Why You Should Throw It Back

Chrysichthys cranchii is not a particularly resilient fish. According to Fishbase.org, it can take between 4.5 and 14 years for its population to double, so every mature fish that you take is one that isn't available to replenish the species.

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Dogs

Preparing Your Home

posted: 05/15/12
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Many rooms hold a world of mystery and temptation for dogs.
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The kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and even family room hold a world of mystery and temptation for any dog--there's always something to do. But while gnawing on the sofa cushions is a relatively harmless canine pursuit, despite the sure scolding from his human companions, chewing on or otherwise investigating other household objects may prove to be deadly.

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Hazards:

  • Sharp cooking and cleaning utensils
  • Poisonous detergents
  • Sharp aluminum cans
  • Choking and suffocation hazards such as discarded chicken bones and plastic bags
  • Shattered glass or dish

Tips:

  • Lock cabinets where plastic bags and detergents are stored.
  • Keep cutlery and dishes away from a dog's access.
  • Hide garbage bags out of sight.
  • Be vigilant about cleaning up messes.
  • Teach your dog to keep out of the kitchen--or any room--at your command to allow you the time to clean up breakages and spills.

Family Room, Dining Room and Bedroom Hazards:

  • All hold the allure and danger of loose electrical, curtain and blind cords.

Tips:

  • Anything that should be kept from a child's hands should also be bundled, stored or tied beyond a dog's access.
  • Use cayenne pepper spray or any bitter tasting or foul-smelling repellent available at pet stores to make certain areas less than tempting for your dog (to train him to stay off couches and beds).
  • Use a nylon chew toy or wet, knotted towel left overnight in the freezer to provide soothing relief for a teething puppy.
  • Never buy toys and treats in the shape of shoes or clothes.
  • Don't use old clothes or shoes as toys.
  • Use latex, nylon, hard plastic and rawhide chew toys and bones.

Bathroom Hazards:

  • Medications
  • Air fresheners
  • Personal-care products
  • Open toilet seat

Tips:

  • Keep all medications, air fresheners and personal-care products out of a dog's way.
  • Keep the lid down on the toilet when you aren't around (smaller dogs may fall in). Also, most toilet tank fresheners are poisonous, so remove them, find a pet-friendly product or keep the lid closed altogether.

Garage Hazards:

  • Paint
  • Chemicals
  • Motor oil
  • Sharp tools
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Many plants, including tulips, are toxic to dogs.
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It's not easy being green. Plants may be a tempting, tasty treat for dogs, but chewed vegetation is the bane of any proud gardener's existence. Worse, many indoor and outdoor plants are toxic to dogs. Either make sure that your houseplants are not harmful, or keep them high up, out of reach. Garden plants to avoid include potatoes and spring bulbs; among the indoor hazards are ivy and azaleas.

When walking outdoors, keep your dog on a leash and close to you to more easily monitor what he's getting into. Avoid areas that have been sprayed with insecticides or other poisons. (Lawn-care companies usually plant small warning flags in freshly treated areas.)

Toxic Greenery

Make the choices simple for your pet: keep the harmful plants listed below out of your house and garden. This list is not an exhaustive one, so always double-check with your vet; some toxic plants may be particular to your area.

A dog's reaction to ingesting a toxic plant can be fairly mild, or the dog may become dehydrated, suffer from diarrhea or even die. If your pet has eaten some dangerous greenery, contact your vet immediately.

  • algae
  • almonds
  • amaryllis
  • apricots
  • arrowhead vine
  • asparagus fern
  • autumn crocus
  • azalea
  • blackberry
  • black-eyed Susan
  • black nightshade
  • bleeding heart
  • boxwood
  • bracken or brake fern
  • buckeye
  • buttercups
  • cactus (spines)
  • caladium
  • calla lily
  • castor beans
  • ceriman
  • charming dieffenbachia
  • cherry
  • Chinese evergreen
  • chokecherry
  • Christmas rose
  • chrysanthemum
  • cineraria
  • clematis
  • climbing nightshade
  • cordatum
  • corn plant
  • cornstalk plant
  • crabgrass
  • crocus
  • croton
  • crown of thorns
  • Cuban laurel
  • Cuban laurel
  • daffodil
  • devil's ivy
  • dumb cane
  • Easter lily
  • elderberry
  • elephant's ear
  • emerald feather
  • peace lily
  • English holly
  • ecalyptus
  • glory lily
  • foxglove
  • fiddle-leaf fig
  • gold dust dracaena
  • helleborus
  • hemlock
  • holly berries
  • hyacinth
  • hydr- angea
  • iris
  • ivy
  • jack-in-the-pulpit
  • Japanese show lily
  • jasmine
  • Jerusalem cherry
  • jonquil
  • kalanchoe
  • laburnum
  • lantana
  • larkspur
  • ligustrum
  • lily of the valley
  • marble queen
  • marijuana
  • mistletoe
  • monkshood
  • morning glory
  • mushrooms
  • narcissus
  • nephthytis
  • nettles
  • nutmeg
  • oleander
  • onion
  • oriental lily
  • peach
  • pencil cactus
  • periwinkle
  • philodendron
  • plumosa fern
  • poinsettia
  • poison hemlock
  • poison ivy
  • poison oak
  • pokeweed
  • potato
  • precatory beans
  • primrose
  • privet
  • purple foxglove
  • red emerald
  • red princess
  • rhododendron
  • rhubarb
  • rubber plants
  • sago lily
  • skunk cabbage
  • spider plant
  • spring bulbs
  • tulip
  • tomato plant
  • tobacco
  • tinsel tree
  • string of pearls
  • tiger lily
  • taro vine
  • Swiss cheese plant
  • wandering Jew
  • water hemlock
  • wild black cherry
  • wisteria
  • yellow jasmine
  • yew
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Unless you know that a product is safe, treat it as a potential poison.
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Not all products that are poisonous to a dog are labeled as toxic. And some things that are safe for humans, such as medications and onions, can be deadly for your pet. Your dog doesn't necessarily have to eat or drink something to ingest it. Whatever his paws or body come into contact with can be swallowed when he is grooming himself. Unless you know that a product is safe, treat it as a potential poison. Store it in a tightly sealed container in a securely closed cabinet, preferably out of your dog's reach and line of sight. Post the phone numbers of your vet, an emergency vet clinic, and an animal poison control center. If your dog shows signs of poisoning, such as trouble breathing, seizures, a rapid or slow heartbeat, drowsiness, drooling, or bleeding from the anus, mouth or nose, try to determine exactly what substance he ingested and call for help. If you have the offending product, the package may contain vital information; have it on hand for the call and take it with you to the vet. Keep a supply of syrup of ipecac, but do not make your dog vomit unless you are advised to do so. in some cases, regurgitation can worsen the problem; caustic substances can burn your dog's throat and mouth on the way back up.

The following list gives an idea of the sorts of dangerous products that must be kept out of the reach of your dog's curious paws, nose or tongue. Along with the basic principles of dog-proofing, this list should enable you to make your house safer for your canine friend.

Toxic Products

  • acetaminophen
  • acetone
  • ant/bug traps and baits
  • anti-flea treatments
  • antifreeze
  • antihistamines
  • anti-rust agents
  • antiseptics
  • arsenic
  • aspirin (ASA)
  • bath oil
  • battery acid
  • bleach
  • boric acid
  • brake fluid
  • carbolic acid (phenol)
  • carburetor cleaner
  • chocolate (especially dark or bitter types)
  • cleaning products
  • crayons and pastels
  • dandruff shampoo
  • de-icers (to melt snow)
  • deodorants
  • deodorizers
  • detergents
  • diet pills
  • disinfectants
  • drain cleaner and opener
  • dry-cleaning fluid
  • dyes
  • fertilizer
  • fire-extinguisher foam
  • fireworks
  • fungicides
  • furniture polish
  • gasoline and motor oil
  • glue and paste
  • hair coloring
  • heart pills
  • herbicides
  • ibuprofen
  • insect and moth repellents
  • insecticides/pesticides
  • kerosene
  • laxatives
  • lead (also found in paint, ceramic and linoleum)
  • lighter fluid
  • liniments
  • lye
  • matches
  • medications
  • mercury
  • metal polish
  • mineral spirits
  • mothballs and repellents
  • nail polish and remover
  • onions
  • pain relievers
  • paint
  • paint remover and thinner
  • perfume
  • permanent-wave lotion
  • photographic developers
  • pine-based cleaners
  • pine-oil products
  • plaster and putty
  • rat/rodent poisons
  • road salt
  • rubbing alcohol
  • rust remover
  • shoe dye and polish
  • sleeping pills
  • snail or slug bait
  • soap and shampoo
  • solder
  • solvents (e.g. turpentine)
  • stain removers
  • swimming pool products
  • suntan lotion with cocoa butter
  • toilet bowl cleaners
  • weed killers
  • windshield-washer fluid
  • wood preservatives
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A fence around your yard can protect your pet from harm.
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A fence around your yard not only keeps passersby safe, it also protects your furry friends from harm. The gate should be sturdy, high enough to keep jumping dogs in, low enough to the ground to keep small or digging dogs secure, and should have a lock.

You may want to try one of the newer electronic "invisible fences," sensors are buried at the borders of the lawn, and a special battery-powered collar around your dog's neck emits a slight shock when he approaches the predetermined boundary. It's relatively painless, and your dog quickly learns when he's gone too far.

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Having the right tools in case of emergency can save your dog's life.
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Being prepared in case of emergency can save your dog's life. You can find most of the following items for your canine first-aid kit in drugstores, or simply add the appropriate items to your family's first-aid kit to serve both human and dog members.

  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Penlight flashlight
  • Magnifying glass (type with light is best)
  • Examination gloves
  • Rectal thermometer and lubricant
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol (70%)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%)
  • Povidone iodine
  • Antibiotic ointment (neomycin, polymixin, bacitracin)
  • Assorted sizes of sterile nonstick pads, gauze squares and cotton balls
  • Roller gauze (self-adhering), cotton roll and elastic bandage
  • Adhesive tape
  • Cardboard or wood for splints
  • Eyedropper and syringe (needle removed)
  • Syrup of ipecac (Caution: Only to be given on instructions by vet or poison control center and only in dosage specified)
  • Eye wash
  • Styptic pencil for cut vein in nail
  • Ice pack
  • Large blanket
  • Elizabethan collar (available for sale at many vet offices or clinics) or bitter spray to prevent licking of injury
  • Muzzle; or handkerchief, gauze strip or rope for makeshift muzzle
  • Board or towel for makeshift stretcher
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Tags and other types of identifiers increase the chances your dog will make it home if he becomes lost.
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Whether you choose plastic or engraved metal, a wide range of ID tags is available to go on the collar, along with the rabies vaccination tag and dog license. Although it may seem natural to include your dog's name on the ID tag, this may make it easier for thieves to coax him away.

Dog Tag Essential Information

  • Name and address
  • One or two reliable telephone numbers with answering machines
  • A line that reads: "Reward for return" When you're traveling with your dog, buy replaceable key tags and list your name and a number where you can be reached at each leg of your tour.

If you're considering a more permanent means of identifying your dog (since collars can come off or be removed by thieves), you can choose tattoos or microchips. Relatively painless, a tattoo can be done by your vet while your dog is under anesthesia. Or, your vet can implant a microchip into your dog's skin by injecting it between his shoulder blades.

Many shelters, vets and even medical labs will check for tattoos and run a scanner over unidentified dogs to check for a microchip, then contact the national registry where your dog's number is on file. Since microchips have been introduced, shelters have been able to return a significantly higher number of dogs to their owners than they'd been able to through collars alone. Of course, sometimes the tattoo can't be easily read, the scanner-if there is one at all-may not be compatible with the microchip, or your dog may be found by a person unfamiliar with these systems, who simply wants to phone the owner. Err on the side of caution: Always keep a collar on your dog if he's outside or if there's a chance he might slip out of the house.

Recent photos of your dog will further ensure that you can always identify him. Include some shots that clearly show his face, some that show his entire body, and some that focus on his identifying features. You may think you'd always be able to recognize him, but a scared or disturbed dog can take on a whole different look and fool both you and any animal shelter worker to whom you're describing him.

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