3.01.2015

Salmon in Alaska

Last summer I traveled all around Alaska and it happened to be breeding season for none other than... Salmon. While on a tour one of the stops we made was to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery located in Juneau, Alaska. Salmon is my least favorite fish to eat personally (as I'm an Orange Roughy lover), although a lot of people do enjoy eating it raw, dry, baked, smoked, etc.
Inside Macaulay Hatchery
Salmon go through a lot during breeding season and really take a beating (we're talking one ugly salmon by the end of it). Not only do they travel far distances but they have to fight the cold water elements (it's around 40F during spawning season in these Alaskan waters) such as water current, rocks, animals, people, and other various things along their long journey. Not to mention that once spawning is over these fish die and become a food source for many plants and animals. Salmon hatcheries have helped increase the numbers of salmon over the years, and they even use mild electrical currents in parts of the hatchery to help relax the salmon from their rough spawning journey.
video
Salmon in the hatchery
Touch pool area inside Macaulay Hatchery
I don't think I had ever heard of a "fish ladder" before this trip, but a "fish ladder" is basically a man made waterway over a naturally occurring area of water which enables fish such as salmon to better travel up/down stream as they jump up out of the water to reach breeding grounds.
video
A Fish Ladder at Macaulay Salmon Hatchery
Fish Ladder in Ketchikan, AK
If you happen to be on a cruise around Alaska they will probably try and tell you (video's and all) that you are eating salmon from Alaska on-board the ship... but upon deeper research from more knowledgeable people on-board you may like to know that it is not at all salmon from Alaska (depending on your cruise line) and it is more than likely salmon from places like Norwegia (ahh..I smell some salmon competition, haha).
View from my room on the cruise ship.
While on the cruise it was rare for us to see any whales, etc but we did see our fair share of bald eagles making a meal of some salmon. Our cruise-line would not let you bring any type of food/drink back onto the ship from any of the Alaskan ports (unless you are a staff member), although you could pay to have something shipped out. So if you want to eat some Alaskan salmon than I would suggest eating off-board the ship while at a port in Alaska (but that is just my 2-cent tip).
Fishing boats in Ketchikan, AK
There are several different types of fishing boats used for salmon fishing in Alaska and each has a different intended purpose for the fish caught. Some boats are best used for selling whole fish while others are best intended for canning, etc. We even saw the famous 'Time Bandit' (from the show Deadliest Catch) boat cruising along these waters.
Glacier in Alaska
Glacier water is some of the prettiest colored water I have ever seen (the pic doesn't do it justice) as it's a pale blue-green shade (you can see the glacier between the mountain here and a waterfall off to the right), and Alaska has tons of waterfalls with really huge steep mountains. If you've never been to Alaska I definitely recommend going (keep in mind a lot of tourist things aren't available for people outside of the summer months because Alaska basically turns into a ghost town)!

2.22.2015

Water Change via Pond Pump

If you have been using something like a gravel vacuum and bucket to do your water changes because you can't connect a water-flow control valve to your sink faucet (and at this point you've probably exhausted yourself), or perhaps your home doesn't have the best water pressure, or you don't want to waste as much water as with a typical water-flow control valve than what I am about to show you is a super simple solution and a total game changer!
Say goodbye to buckets and buy yourself a pond pump and enough hosing (that will fit onto your pond pump) to reach from your sink, bathtub, etc to your aquarium (and you may want something to hold your hose in place.. like a clamp or heavy object). 

How-To
Connect the hose and pond pump together. Set the pond pump into your aquarium while the other end of the hose goes in the sink drain. Plug in the pump and the water will remove the tanks water and go down the sinks drain.

To fill the tank back up you adjust your sinks water temperature as needed, close the sink drain (so it will continuously fill with water), and leave the water running (traditional sinks usually don't overflow as they have a top drain hole). Place the end of the hose into the aquarium and then plug in the pump by the sink and place the pump into the sink of continuously running water.

Once the tank is filled with clean water unplug the pond pump (assuming it doesn't have an off/on switch like mine), place your finger over the end of the tube in the tank and bring it to sink to drain out any excess water in the tube.

Additional Tips
Pond pumps don't really have a lot of suction when pumping water so you probably won't have to worry about fish, gravel, etc getting sucked up into these vents. If you are worried about small fry, etc getting into the pump than you can try placing the pump device into some panty-hose (or other fine fabric that water can easily travel through) and knotting off the fabric around the pump. 

Be sure your sink or tub is clean before filling it with water (vinegar is one of the best natural cleaning agents in my opinion) as sinks are one of the germiest places in the home (more so than the average toilet). You could also place a clean bowl inside your sink to place the pond pump in instead of having it set in the sink itself (which is probably the best way to go about this anyway), and this could also be beneficial if your sink doesn't have a top drain so that you don't have to worry about water overflowing and you could then leave the sink drain open instead.

I use the Tetra 140GPH Pond Pump, it comes with 3 different sized hose adapters (a 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch ID) and has an adjustable flow rate (which gives off around 3 inches of head at its lowest setting and over a foot of head on its highest setting). Keep in mind the GPH when looking for a pond pump because that will control how fast you can get your water change/s done.

2.15.2015

Altering Water Temperature

This week I had a semi-idiot moment (but still a lesson learned in the process) when trying to reduce the current water temperature in my aquarium momentarily (per another experiment of mine). Basically I have been told that when doing a water change you should keep the temperature of the new water within 3-5F of the aquariums current water temperature (as to prevent things like 'Ich' from happening). However, if you have a 79F tank, change 25% of the water (in say a 20 gallon aquarium), and add in 74F (which is 5F lower than the current water temp) water to replace that 25%... guess what, the aquarium water only dropped 1.25F degree in combination with the current tank water temperature (which just wasn't going to do because I wanted the overall water to become 74F momentarily and not 77.75F).

As a side note the upside to adding in cooler water than the tanks current temperature is an increase in the waters oxygen level (which is why I feel when you do a water change to always add in cooler water than the tanks current temp). Did you know water at 77F/25C has an oxygen solubility level of 8.6mg/L? Which means that the average oxygen level in a typical indoor freshwater aquarium is probably going to be around 8-9mg/L. Water at 32F/0C which is 'freezing point' has an O2 level of 14.6mg/L, while water at 212F/100C which is 'boiling point' has an O2 level of 0.

To break it down if I did a 50% (1/2 the tanks water) water change I would need to add in 69F water to my 79F for it to average 74F, which is a 10F temperature difference from the tanks current temp. So if I am only changing 25% (1/4 the tanks water) of the water I would need the new water to be 15F below 79F which would be 64F.

Now you may be saying that colder water is denser than warmer water (thus meaning the cold water would sink to the bottom of the tank) and that 'would' be problematic for aquarium inhabitants. However, when you add cool water to warm water the two temperatures combine together (because heat rises and cold sinks), but if you added hot water to cool water (thus reserving the order) then the two would take time to merge together (the later case could be problematic for aquarium inhabitants). Don't believe me? Than checkout this video on water density. So, if you happen to be using a tube to fill cooler water back into your aquarium you'll want this tube to be closer to the waters surface and not at the base of the tank in order to allow the two water temperatures to better merge together (unless of course you have other intentions for doing so).

2.10.2015

Lionhead Progress (5th Month)

New food for my lionhead showed up recently from Japan which I got from eSeller Momota106 who kindly threw in a sample of Azayaka's Basic Balance (I have been wanting to try that out for some time now), and shipping took 20 days before arriving at my place in the US. If you opt to get the bigger bag of Hikari from them it appears you'd still get the same single sample pack, which is a similar type of pellet to the food purchased (as both of these are for goldfish balance). I was not impressed with the results I got with Hikari Lionhead as I have mentioned previously so, I am hoping to get better results with a different goldfish food by them (I will try almost anything twice).
Azayaka (left) and Saki-Hikari (right)
This past month I made up my own pellet mix to hopefully get the most growth from all of my lionhead (this was based on their past growth rates), and I even started giving them an extra feeding per day (so they got 3 meals a day from 6am to 6pm) although I did not decide to decrease their water temp (so it's still set at 78F).

My Daily Pellet Mix (fed 3x a day, 1/4 tsp pellets per single feeding)
1 Part - Hikari Lionhead pellets (I will switch these out with my new Hikari pellets)
2 Parts - Omega One goldfish pellets
2 Parts - New Life Spectrum therA pellets

Other Foods (given 1-4x a month)
1 Cube - Frozen Mysis Shrimp and/or Bloodworms
2x2 in - Nori/Dried Seaweed
Several Drops (after every water change) - Vitachem
Click to Enlarge
I have had my lionhead goldfish for 5 months now and as you can see from the above chart it shows their growth rate for every month (approx. 30 days per month). The average gain this month was 18g (0.6g daily) which is double compared to last month. This month Sumo had a huge gain of 21g since last month and weighed in at 67g. Pocky nearly weighed the same as Sumo with a 17g gain and now weighing in at 66g. Ramen is again the smallest this month with a 15g gain, now weighing in at 59g. I did notice Ramen having swim bladder issues this week so I will be making adjustments to the amount of food being fed to my lionhead, and I believe this is why Ramen's weight is a bit lower because he has been working harder to keep his buoyancy. I also feel Pocky may have very early stages of swim bladder issues as well so a slight diet may be in order for these fish.
Sumo, Ramen, and Pocky (left to right)
Sumo
Pocky
Ramen