Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hydrocynus vittatus - African Tiger Fish

Common name(s): African Tiger Fish, ATF, Tiger Fish

Scientific Name: Hydrocynus vittatus, or Hydrocynus forsksahlii (Slimmer and yellowish tail)

Family: Alestiidae

Origin: Africa

18 - 32 inches in captivity. Between the two species, ATFs can grow to over four - five feet, but in aquariums, less than half to about half of that is expected at the maximum.

Minimum Tank Size:
 125 US gallons - 6' long minimum (the longer, the better!)

Care: Let's take in mind the enclosure first; because of this fish's strength, speed, and size, a very large tank is important. I've successfully kept a small one in an 80 Gallon, but when he gets larger, he'll need much more room.I would suggest 125 at a bare minimum. The bigger the better. A 240 or more would be reasonable. The reason such a tank is needed is because these fish can seriously hurt themselves by running into the glass if it is too small of an area. Within your large tank, large plants (like swords) and larger-sized tankmates (bottom dwellers - NOT mid-dwellers) are okay, but rocks, sharp objects, and other hard objects are to be left out. A tiger fish can fatally wound itself if running into objects as hard as rocks or as sharp as, i don't know, a sharp rock. This is especially true when they hunt. When attacking its prey, they're likely to charge at it seemingly full force. Whatever is behind it's prey, the tiger fish will most likely run into. Don't under-estimate the power these fish output. Standard lighting, heating and filtration is clearly necessary. Keep a good cover on the top of the tank. These fish are very gutsy jumpers if they need to be. Substrate type is unimportant, as these fish are mid-dwellers. Keep water chemistry in good quality (common sense). Nitrites and nitrates should be an attempted zero, and try to keep pH steady at 7.2 to 7.6. Never forget water changes weekly and clean out any leftover "fish-bits" that the ATF hasn't eaten. It is recommended here and there to keep them in small shoals - 5 minimum. 

Feeding: Guppies, Ghost Shrimp, Rosy Reds... ...etc. Do not dump feeder fish straight in from the store, quarantine them long enough until you can tell they are safe to feed. Some ATF owners have swayed their fish to eat non-live meaty food, but a lot of ATFs will not eat unless their food is "fun" and hard to catch - it seems that they like a challenge, and would get bored eating prepared or frozen foods.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Black Ghost Knife - Apteronotus albifrons

Common name/s: Black Ghost Knife, Ghost Knife, Ghost Ray

Scientific name: Apteronotus albifrons

Family: Apteronotidae

Origin: Amazon River, South America

Maximum size: 24 Inches in the wild. Usually not that large in captivity.
Care:The Black Ghost Knife requires a tank that it can turn around in which should have a width of 24 inches. Although they can be raised in small tanks, you must upgrade to the BGK's full size eventually. A tank size of 80 Gallons is sufficient. This fish rarely gets over 20 inches long in captivity. The amount of waste this fish produces is low, however a hang-on style filter is still beneficial. They are sensitive to water conditions, they will tolerate pH levels from 6.5 to 8. They do best in temperatures ranging from 75F-82F (24C-28C). Tank mates may include other 'oddball' fish like eels, butterfly fish and the like, however, they are fine with any non aggressive fish that is not seen as food, so larger community fish like Angels, larger Botia species and many more will do fine.

The black ghost knife is nocturnal so seeing them all the time is not a common thing. They are also blind and so rely on their sensitive electrical sense to find food and find their way around the tank. The BGK also has a particularly large mouth, so anything that fits in there is under risk of being eaten as BGK's are fish eaters as well.

Feeding:Black Ghost Knives will usually accept fish flakes, small live fish, chopped earthworms, blood worms, brine shrimp, glass worms, tubifex worms, and beef heart to name a few.

Sexing and Breeding:There is no physical way to sex a black ghost knife and not much has been accounted on there breeding behaviour however a courtship is involved before the female lays eggs (Spawning).