50-gallon aquarium. Are quarantine tanks
really needed for a freshwater aquarium?
It is possible to keep a
community tank and never feel
the need for a quarantine tank.
However, I know people who
run stop signs all the time, and they have
never had an accident or gotten a ticket—yet!
Obviously, a little luck is involved.
A quarantine tank is helpful because you
can prevent the introduction of parasites
or diseases into the aquarium by keeping
newcomers in a separate tank for a couple
of weeks for observation. It is true that such
tanks are more essential in the marine hobby
because so many of the fish are caught in
the wild. But it is still good practice for the
freshwater hobby, too, as it also provides
a place to isolate a fish that is having a
problem so that you can observe it closely and
target any treatment for the affected fish, not
having to treat the entire tank.
A quarantine tank doesn’t have to be much
of a setup if you are keeping mainly small
fish, as I have known many hobbyists who
made good use of pickle jars. But a 5- or
10-gallon tank with a foam filter will usually
fit the bill.
Can you tell me why cichlids
are especially prized if they
are only a generation or two
from the wild?
Coos Bay, Oregon
There are several reasons, but
one of them is that cichlid
enthusiasts are often interested
in the intricacies of fish
behavior. They want fish that are as close to
the wild as possible so that they are observing
natural behavior. That is, they want to observe
the behavior of wild fish, even if they are not
in a natural setting. (And, of course, such
aquarists will try to make the tank setting as
natural as possible.)
Another reason is that the colors of the
fish often tend to degrade in captivity. That’s
because often there is no selective factor, as
breeders simply breed the fish on a mass
production basis, and some of them are not
even aware of how colorful the fish were
in the wild. I only recently talked with an
aquarist who had been to Lake Tanganyika in
Plumed lyretail killifish Fundulopanchax filamentosus; while hatching the eggs of many killie species
requires soft water, adult killies can generally adapt to harder water in the aquarium.
A wild swordtail Xiphophorus hellerii collected in Belize; wild swordtails vary in coloration according
to the location in which they are found.
Africa, and he was nothing short of amazed
at the coloration of some of the species, as
that coloration was rarely seen in the hobby.
There is no reason that such color can’t be
maintained, but it takes dedication on the
part of hobbyist breeders or even the workers
at fish farms.
What does the term
“characoid” refer to, and
why isn’t a characin called a
“characid,” since it refers to a member of
the family Characidae?
Raleigh, North Carolina
The family Characidae at one
time contained species that
varied quite a bit. For example,
neon tetras and piranhas
were included in the same family. It was
understandable, as the various species fell
within the parameters of the family. A lot of