The Sunday Times on the Web Mirror Magazine
12th September 1999

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A dip into the fish world

By Udena R . Attygalle

This week the Mirror Magazine pet column takes a dip into the world of ornamental fish.

What the fish owner expects of his pets is somewhat different to that of many other pet owners.

Fish provide a calm and soothing scene to tired eyes (and minds!). Observing their behaviour patterns can also be a very absorbing study.

Although physical contact is minimal, a particular bond seems to exist between fish and owner. In any case, the responsibilities of pet ownership remain the same.

Here are a few tips on how to take care of our finned friends.

Setting up the tank

Do not overcrowd your tank with fish, plants, marbles and what ever else you can get hold of. A good guideline is to have at least a gallon of water for every inch of fish.

* If you are using an under-gravel filter, remember to fill up the tank with medium sized rocks or sand, so that there will be enough space for the water to filter. There should be around 3 inches of rock near the filter pipe and about 2 inches at the other end.

* You shouldn't put the fish into the tank for at least a week after setting up this apparatus. This is to allow photosynthetic bacteria to build up inside the tank. The bacteria control the ammonia level of the tank water, which goes up as the fish dirty inside the tank ( a level higher than 0.3 PPM is very harmful for the fish).

If you plan to have water plants inside your tank, you should use a power filter with a sponge instead of an under gravel filter (because of the filtering done by the filter the sand will lack nutrients, but the power filter filters the water from above). If this is not possible, have the plants away from the filter pipe.

Introducing new fish into your tank

* Always have an extra tank to use as a quarantine place (one week), when introducing a new fish from an aquarium into your tanks. (Most fish in these aquarium are not quarantined and are kept alive using chloroform). Introducing them directly into your tanks can cause all your fish to die.

* Also when introducing new fish do it gradually. First put the fish into the tank while still in the aquarium bag, to study the reaction of the other fish and to allow time to acclimatize. Then release the fish with the water in the bag into the tank.


* Feeding should be done very carefully.You should feed the fish only three percent of their weight and not more. The ammonia produced by the excess food is a major cause of fish death. (If you are using fish food the flat kind is better than the pellet form.)

Maintaining your tank

* By adding drops of the photosynthetic bacteria into the tank weekly, you can keep the tank in good condition for a long time.

* You should replace 10 percent of the water in a tank with fresh water each week.

* The tank should also be kept away from direct sunlight as it can cause algae to grow uncontrolled.

* The tank light should be switched off at night, as it could cause a growth of algae.

(You should always use a good reliable air pump or a power head that can be kept running 24 hours. Bacteria within the tank die within six hours of the pump stopping. The ensuing rise in ammonia levels will cause your fish to die.

(If you have sick fish, separate them from the other so. Use a tank with just a filter and no sand for this purpose. The sand absorbs the various medicines that are dropped into the water.

Cleaning the tank

* When cleaning a tank you should never clean the whole tank at once (as it will kill all the bacteria). Clean one half first and the other half a month later, ( this is a major cause of fish death).

* And if you are using tap water to replace the existing water: allow 24 hours for all the chlorine to evaporate.

Ornamental Marine fish

Such fish seem to be in big demand colourful and unique coral fish , sea anemones, sea lilies, sea horses etc........ But these are seemingly not found in Sri Lanka (Not surprising, as they cost around 2 lakhs).

The water used is either sea water or made into sea water using synthetic salts. Protein schemers have to be used to clean the tank. U V bulbs also have to be used to clean germs in the water

The information for this article was provided by Ananda Pathirana ,winner of the presidential export award on three occasions. With 36 years experience in fish breeding. Ananda also has discovered a variety of fish and this has been named after him (Danio Pathirana).

Deep pore cleansing

It is a common belief that a hot shower followed by a cold one will help close the pores of the skin. But there is no scientific basis to this claim. The visible pores on the skin's surface are the openings of the hair and skin follicles. The sweat glands also open on the surface of the skin through pores but are visible only with a magnifying lens. The size of all these pores cannot be altered, nor can they be opened and closed.

When you take a hot bath or shower, the heat may increase circulation slightly by causing small blood vessels close to the skin surface to dilate. A cold shower immediately afterwards, will constrict the blood vessels and may feel good but will serve no other purpose.

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