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The articles and pictures below date from a few years back. When I moved in 1999, I gave away my tank, enabling a beginner to get a head start with a tank that had won some recognition in district competition. My aquaristic hobby remained in a slumber while I kept a small tank with Caridina serrata. This spring (2002) I rekindled the flame and asked Nanne de Vos to build me a new tank. He was busy after he won a second place in a world championship last year, but he had a beautiful tank on display in his shop window which I could have.
So that's how I started again. The new tank is displayed and discussed on the tank2 pages

My older, archived Aquarium pages:

My first aquarium tank

(started december 16 1997, 2pm)

Fish behaviour

No fish wanted to eat at all the first 24 hours. Then they all did. They ate white mosquito larvae and flakes. And after some reservations, they also started to like live red mosquioto larvae. Now, they hardly ever get flakes or other dead food but almost always live food, mostly caught by myself, sometimes purchased in the shop. Mosquito larvae, red and white water fleas, cyclops and other chance tiny beasts.

Badis badis (Blauw baarsje)
From still waters in India. 8cm. Breeds at 26 degrees Celcius, pH 6,5. the male guards the eggs of the fry.

The Badis badis male hid behind the left hardwood piece all of the first 24 hours. Meanwhile, the female carefully and slowly perused all of the tank. After many hours the two met briefly. The female halted and the male approached, the female froze, swam backwards, then slowly turned around while the male sneaked back to his hideout.
Both have a ballerina way of fluttering the fins while standing still. Already after a few days, the male changed colour drastically. In this new more spacious environment, the little feller has selected a territory to defend: the hollow behind a wing formed piece of hardwood, where two kinds of fine fern grow. The fern gives away when he pushes it, he can nibble and hide in it. Occasionally he pushes forward from this hideout, very darkly colored body, a deep angry brown, and with fins that radiate fantastic blue light. He then approaches the little female (who's often cruising with the Barbus pentazona P.) and impresses her greatly, then he dashes away, back to his lair, trying to lure her with him. She's interested, but doesn't follow him all the way. Which is fine, as they are both very young and about 35% of their adult size.

After one month, the male Badis was mostly invisible behind the wood or in the shrubs. I added another couple, this time with an adult, fully grown `granddad' Badis for a male. He selected the best territory in the tank for himself. A higher plateau with large dark thickly planted back room and two side exits. This used to be the place where the younger Badis badis resided.
Sometimes it was like the stage for a comic show, granddad Badis entering the backstage planted section, son Badis coming out of there through a side doorway and entering the front plateau of the territory again, granddad slowly peekabooing into that open plateau and son scurrying away to enter through another back way again. This way, I get to see a lot of both of them.

Baby badis!
(notes entered january 26 1998)
I was sitting close to the front pane of the tank, studying the goings-on generally and scanning the surface of the hardwood for any remaining shrimp. A couple days ago, I found one dead shrimp but of the 11 that I got, I have seen at most a group of three in the past week.
I fear some of them bought it when I had some trouble with my filter system the other week. A tube connected to the hose got disconnected in a place in the corner deep in the sand plateau behind hardwood that's very hard to get by with my hands and although I reconnected it three times, it slipped loose every time and sucked out sand instead of water, clogging up the pump.
Although I finally repaired it and improved the system thoroughly, in the process I'd been groaning and crying out for an hour or so. Plants and leaves started to float around depressingly and garbage from the floor sailed up, clouding the tank. It cleared up quickly once the repairs were done but it struck me that I didn't see as much shrimp afterwards and father Badis was invisible altogether.
A day or two earlier I had added a fully grown 2 years old Badis Badis male to the tank with another young female. Since it's the father of the other Badis fish (from the original breeder), I call him granddad Badis. The two females sometimes swim along with each other, the large male regularly sails along the perimeter of his territory but the younger male hasn't been seen at all after the filter system havoc. Is he killed somewhere and are six shrimp consuming his corpse somewhere in the back?
Now, yesterday when I was scanning the tank I couldn't believe my eyes for a second when I saw a very tiny fish hovering close to a steep piece of the dark hardwood and under cover of a slender plant leaf on the plateau. It hung there silently, unbelievably small and wise. Dark in colour like the dark wood behind it and with a white stripe like the fine stripes of light sand that sticks in fine creases of the old wood.
It was unmistakably a Badis badis baby, looking like its mother although it's just about 4 millimeters long. Tiny and vulnerable as it is, its body is stout, with an almost straight belly line and a highly curved back line. It turned slowly under the leaf, climbed some without making a visible move with its fins and slowly it floated away from me into the darker shrubs farther back in the tank.
I'd softly called the family to the tank and not all of them saw the fish. It's camouflaged so well! Once you've seen it, you can more easily find it again since you'll know where and how to look, but if you haven't seen one before, it proves hard to find it even if someone points it out to you. Proudly showing it to someone who won't see it is really frustrating! ;=}
A little while later I saw an identical fish on the other piece of hardwood, acting the same way, this time hiding under a protruding stub of wood and a few threads of moss that grow in the `armpit' of the stub. First I thought that was the same Badis baby, but I saw them both the next morning, so there are at least to of them out there!
Who knows, the father Badis may be still alive and guarding his fry somewhere way back where the new grandfather Badis can't find them. Maybe I shouldn't have added the new couple at all, even though there's room enough for two couples in the tank.
I'm glad I'm providing live food every day, since the fry lives on the tiny cyclops in the live food mix. The fry is approximately 2.5 weeks old so if I'd been feeding flakes, it would've had only the aufwuchs in the algae and other chance organisms to grow on.
I feel a little guilty towards the father Badis in the tank because I unleashed his father, the now granddad Badis in the tank. Granddad is getting into his beautiful love and war colours and he's `defending' his territory which happens to be the same place where the fry are trying to grow up...
Naturally, if he finds them out and if they're still small enough, he'll eat them as he will only tolerate his own fry. He's slowly moving about like a man eating giant who's smelled man meat but is so far unable to find out where it is hiding.

One day later I logged:
I'm pretty confident now that at least some of the badis fry will survive. During a few long business phone calls this morning I've been studying the tank. Sighted one tiny Badis next to the hardwood, but also one, slightly bigger in the corner of the tank with lots of space around it.
Then a playful B. pentazona came slipping around the hardwood corner, sighted the Badis and jumped forward to catch it. Now the B. pentazonas seem the fastest sprinters in the tank and the tiny Badis had quite a distance to go before it could enter into the background of hiding places between plants.
But the tiny Badis was gone instantly. I think I remember seeing it turn, but then it was just gone totally, without any trace, somewhat like the DeLorean in Back To The Future when it hit 88mph, only there was no accelleration to the vanishing speed. Just BENG! and it was gone.
The B. pentazona may have blinked but it relaxed promptly and went back to play with the others.

a late january day in 1998 I logged:
These past days all ponds and ditches froze over. I fed the last bit of live food from my stock and then I started to worry about the baby Badis... they're small and they need cyclops / nauplii and small water fleas. I had plenty of white midge/gnat larvae (how *do* you call these in English?) but they're too big for the babies.
To add to the worry, we didn't spot the tiny guys in the past 24 hours...
I chopped up a few white larvae with a fine knife, but no baby Badis came out of the shrubs to get them.
Then yesterday evening the weather was very foggy and almost warm. This morning was bright weather, the chilly wind was not too cold and many ditches and most ponds had opened up partly. Time to rush out with net and buckets.
I wanted to try some ponds close to our home. Two kids with fishing rods told me that in summer they don't need to use nets to get larvae and fleas, just filling a bucket with the water gets enough for a sizeable fish tank.
Now, in winter, it was harder, but possible! I first tried two ditches closest to home. These were still very cloudy after the city service people dredged the ditches around here a week or so ago. I filled a murky bucket with tiny twisting and jerking creatures, but I must wait 'till the dirt sinks down before I can determinate what's it.
Then I walked over to a place where, about ten years ago, tons and tons of clay were dug out and wheeled away by endless lines of power trucks, leaving behind a deep lake. Later, the lake was cut in half by a freeway and some money was also spent on throwing in sand and creating a wide beach-like bank with smaller ponds here and there. The soil is sand with slick clay beneath it.
A first spot yielded only a few fleas in about ten sweeps. It was the downwind end of a larger pond. Then when I went upwind, closer to the part where there was still ice, it got better. It might have been just plain luck, but I caught more when I swept the water at the thin icy part, breaking the ice there.
Every time I lifted the net above the water, the wind blew in it and it froze up hard within seconds.
It got real fun though when I tried another downwind spot of another pond. This one had a shallow end with some reeds growing in it. It looked muddy but a few lemniscate-formed sweeps about filled the bucket of water full of life!
First I had the impulse to keep on sweeping for more (wow! I found it! And it is free!), but what's the point, I left the rest for next time. I poured the yield into the net again and washed it in a clearwater spot, then went on home.
After I poured a cupful of the live water into the tank, the fish had a ball...
And then, after a few minutes of scrutinizing, I saw a baby Badis, very small, with a red throat, swimming between the high and thick R. rotundifolia! A striped body, so delicately striped, the top fin high and proud as if it knew it would be noticed.
It focused on a cyclops nearby, narrowed its big-for-its-size eyes to just black pinheads, curved its tail fin and in a snap jumped towards the cyclops which had been just happily jerking this way and that, like a child's battery driven car with front wheels that turn around on a disc, driving, bumping, turning back in all directions.
Right after it caught the cyclops, the eyes got huge again. I also saw a baby Badis much smaller, like just the two eyes looking at me with a pinkish haze around it, shaped like the head-and-tail of a frog fish right out of the jelly.
Then, when I called the family, we discovered more. Ha, they weren't deceased just yet! One was out in the open for a few seconds, where any bigger fish could've taken it for live food. Such courageous fellows...
And as one good thing never comes alone, while we were looking real good we counted six of the bee shrimp, so they are still alive and kicking as well!

Barbus pentazona Malakka, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo. Calm waters in the lowlands. 5cm. Breeds at 26 degrees celcius, pH 6-7

The Barbus pentazona pentazona, after their first release in the tank, grouped in the center around a few strings of Rotala rotundifolia. Although they were *not* in a "safe" place, almost in the widest open space, they kept together there and only after a half hour or so they disappeared to hang like a small cloud on the high plateau, almost invisible. The next day they swam all around, sometimes individually or in pairs. A few days later they became the most playful and visible group, merrily playing and incredibly fast when dashing for live food.

With the tank a month old, I wrote: It just struck me while drinking tea and watching the tank, how utterly fearless and cool the Barbus pentazona pentazona's are.
I added a two year old, fully mature big Badis badis to the tank yesterday and he has selected the best territory in the tank for himself. A higher plateau with large dark thickly planted back room and two side exits. This used to be the place where the younger Badis badis resided.
Sometimes it's like the stage for a comic show, granddad Badis entering the backstage planted section, son Badis coming out of there through a side doorway and entering the front plateau of the territory again, granddad slowly peekabooing into that open plateau and son scurrying away to enter through another back way again. This way, I get to see a lot of both of them.
The B. pentazona's often get the big old Badis bullying after them. When he really puts his energy in it, getting all dark and angry, hovering in a 45 degrees angle up or down, slowly approaching and suddenly dashing at one or two of them, they do jump away for a second but one second later, when big Badis is retreating, satisfied with his established authority, the Pentazona just swim past right under him, or over his high top fin as if he's completely transparant to them ;=}
They're only impressed when he insists 100% that they do but when that flick of a moment is over, they absolutely totally ignore his authority. I like that!

Hemirhampodon pogonognatus
The single Hemirhamphodon pogonognathus has been calmly cutting through the surface ever since day one. It's a weird form and a totally cool character. I'd like to give him company, but haven't found other specimina yet. He likes red mosquito larvae, and I provide these for him by easing in a few of these slowly. Of every three, two will sort of `cling' to the water surface, so the lone long fish can approach it slowly and snap it away.

Pangio kuhli
One p.k. sumatranus and one p.k. semicinctus --- the sumatranus has thin rings and two pink dots exactly in the middle between the 6th and 7th and between the 8th and 9th ring, counting the 12 rings from the nose backwards. These dots are about as thick as the rings are wide and they are exactly on the spine top.
The two Pangio kuhli seem to have felt okay from the start. They don't usually act as a twosome, but each of them is lively.
Sometimes at night they race vertical circles close to the left window pane.
I see one lie around, head slightly lifted, taking in quick gulps of water, then nosing the sand, swallowing sand and spitting it out in pulses backwards from holes behind the cheeks. Then he suddenly wriggles up, crawling up, up, up in the water and dropping back like a kite after the wind falls away. Sometimes one saves the altitude he climbed by hanging over a few plant leaves or over a bog oak root. Comical guys.
Close up they look like funny seals. Sometimes, one of them is leisurely hanging over a piece of hardwood, close to the front pane, looking out into our room, into the human tank so to say. His fore fins support his head a little above the wood and thus he resembles a bored bewhiskered teenager on the side of a swimming pool, chewing gum, leaning on elbows. All the time he is puffing, swallowing and chewing away on the water and whatever was in it and the short whiskers / moustache / feelers around his mouth move along restlessly. Humans have no idea about what fish feel or do or want, but if I may take the liberty to let myself get carried away, I might say this P. kuhli is in a happy mood and mightily satisfied with the cool place he's found.

The Colisa sota (Honginggoerami)
From north-east India / Assam, Bangladesh. 5cm. Breeds at around 29 degrees celcius, pH 7.

The two Colisa sota arrived healthy but quite pale. After 24 hours, they both started to grow darker, a light creamy brown, and one of them developed a dark streak on the lower fin. The male is smaller than the female. They travel around together and they often hang still, close to one another, nose-to-tail. They're more snug than the Badis badis couple.

After a month, during dinner (when we were watching the aquarian life like some other family would watch a Melrose Place) it struck me again how the female Gourami sometimes gets it into her head to hunt away one or two of the Barbus pentazona's. She darts after it and seems to want it to leave a certain part of the tank immediately, and when she's close to the Pentazona, she spits a bubble of air at it!

(There's an page contents index on the top of this page.)

Catching and feeding live food

Nanne showed me some of the tricks of the trade in catching live food. When we were almost done, he broke his net, so we went to town to get a new set of netting rigs for both of us... Before the net broke, we had prodded and probed around in a small ``secret'' pond that Nanne has found and that's very rich of live food like water fleas, the mini miniature creatures that look like shrimp, the tiny dots that look like dandruff but that actually live, white larvae and a bunch of other tiny stuff that lives and is edible to our fish.

Within an hour, we had dozens of fistfuls of the dark matter that when gobbled into the bucket falls apart to be tens of thousands of live wriggling creatures...

The weather this January 1998 has been unusually ``warm'' for winter but miserably wet also, but today was a springlike sunny day, with ducks playing and hunting one another for mating, so we felt like two very lucky fellows, grownups sloshing through a mud bank in the sun and meanwhile catching an amount of food that would cost more than $50 in the shop (I don't need that much but Nanne has lots of tanks to feed).

I have given a portion of the mix to my fish, and all enjoyed the hunt. A few Barbus were merrily tearing away at a larger bug that neither could have swallowed whole, and towards the end only the tiniest of fleas were whirling around in the tank. I trust that father Badis, in his brooding/hiding place, got some that passed him.

A few days later, Nanne and I went out hunting larvae and water fleas again. Went to two ponds and a brook. Two grownup men with large nets and poles over their shoulder and buckets in their hands... in a heavy rain. The ponds yielded a reasonable amount of mainly white larvae, the brook immediately landed us great red clogs of red water fleas. Sensational to see the pocket at the end of the net turn deep red. Us, in between reeds, climbing over trees and half hanging in the water, we could've made a picture poster for a pall mall survival adventure. That is, if we had good looking faces which we don't. ;=}

The B. pentazona's meanwhile have great fun. They have discovered that among the live fleas that I caught and fed them, there's another bigger creature, white, longish and a very very fast swimmer with two outstretched swimming arms that are about five times as long as he is thick. So he crawls through the water in big swoops, as yet uncatchable by the B. pentazona's who have taken up the sport to track him down and then dash in after him. When he keeps still under a plant leaf, they get confused and after some searching give up, but when he wants to start swimming around like live food, the pentazona's rocket to the spot where he will blitz away... He needs to get up to the water surface too get air every once in a while and he weighs the dangers of dying for lack of oxygen and dying in the beaks of my fish...

(There's an page contents index on the top of this page.)

Breeding fruit flies (text by Jochem 't Hoen)

My friend Jochem 't Hoen gave me a glass jar with fruit flies for my Hemirhampodon and barbs to savor and he also gave me a jar with a breeding setup. Here's his dutch manual with it:

Hier komt het recept voor het kweken van fruitvliegen, na enkele wijzigingen op het oorspronkelijke recept dat ik 4 jaar geleden bij mijn eerste fruitvliegen kreeg, heb ik een mix gevonden die niet gaat stinken voordat ik eerst volop fruitvliegen heb geoogst.
Mijn moeders bezwaren tegen de lucht op mijn kamer zijn de drijfveer achter al deze veranderingen geweest.


De hoeveelheden die genoemd zijn zijn van toepassing op een hoeveelheid wijn- en-brinta-brij geschikt voor twee potten met een voedingsbodem van ongeveer 3 cm.

Mix de wijn en brinta door elkaar tot je een stevige brij hebt, die wel vochtig is. Voeg vervolgens de overige ingrediënten toe (gist als laatste) en voeg water toe.
De massa wordt bijna niet dunner door het toevoegen van water, omdat de brinta nog veel vocht opneemt. Een redelijk vochtige brij is belangrijk want in een te droge cultuur sterven de vliegen af.
De wijn zorgt er voor dat de boel niet gaat rotten (ethanol), en remt het gistingsproces enigszins.
De wijn is ook het fruitbestanddeel van dit mengsel.
De azijn (zuur) werkt schimmelremmend en creëert een zuur milieu voor de vliegjes.
Jan Busser vertelde mij dat fruitvliegen dol zijn op sinaasappelsap, dus het is misschien een idee om hiermee te verdunnen i.p.v. water.
Gistocal is niet direct noodzakelijk, maar bevat wel veel waardevolle sporenelementen, die via de vliegen bij je vissen kunnen komen. Bovendien kost een blik van een halve kilo maar iets van 10 gulden, en met zo'n blik kun je jaren vooruit. Baat het niet dan schaadt het zeker niet.

(There's an page contents index on the top of this page.)

Population list and Inventory

Building the back wall

The background (covering back, right pane and half of left pane) is a wall built with curved, partly layered Tempex,
smoothed out with heat blower, then covered with
several layers of (non-acid, noc-caustic)
synthetic two-component resin
covered with fine light sand
I learned how to make this type of beautiful background by Nanne de Vos. This is how to do it:

Stock lots of styrofoam. First cut a piece covering the back wall (and if you wish the sides as well and then carve variformed pieces to stick on top of that. It helps if you know what vison of background you want to create, i.e. one that resembles the bank of a stream which rubbed away the soil between lots of tree roots, or a rocky site with stubs and slabs of stone sicking out.
The several layers of styrofoam approach the forms you have in mind. You may have sketched them on paper. Not a lot of tiny forms, more like large forms, merging. In some places it's just the one layer, in other places there's lots of layers.
Also add the bog wood that then protudes from the back matter, and sometimes a curly branch or root comes out and gets back into the wall.
When the backscape looks done, you get out the kind of blow dryer that's used to burn off paint from painted wood. Mind you, under the heat of that the styrofoam melts and crumbles away fast, so use it with feeling and tenderness. Don't make any hasty movements and don't get too close up to the matter.
This heat ray is used to mellow up the forms you created. Some parts are five layers deep, some only the one first back slab. You've cut and scraped at any flat areas so they'll unevenly crumble away at the heat, leaving an attractive uneven background mass.
When you've bogwood or hardwood in some places that might hold a plateau, use strips of the styrofoam to build a kind of wall supporting the wood matter. make it not a straight wall, but one with a hollow, curved form. Mellow this out too with the heat.
Then take a special type of synthetic resin, which hardens when the two parts are mixed together. Dab it on the walls quickly with a cheap brush (which will be lost while the hardening sets in), avoiding the wood and the glass to be spattered. Then take many handfulls of good fine sand in the tint that you want and throw it hard on the sticky matter, avoiding damage to the glass.
After an hour or five, you bring on the next layer with freshly mixed resin, and a new cheap brush and lots of new sand, then later another layer.
While hardening, the resin covers the sand and you'll have a background that's unbreakably hard in the form and tint you want. If you used the right resin mix, it'll be strictly neutral to your water, not leaking anything to change the pH. Selecting the right resin is the hard part. This was made easy for me by Nanne who had done his selecting by trial and error. Maybe he can send you resin to work with.

Help advice & work by Nanne de Vos of Arnhem, without whom etc.

(There's an page contents index on the top of this page.)

Tanks of Horror - quotes

Around the world, many aquarium fish have to endure life in a `sewer tank' swimming in garbage among plastic objects `planted' in wildly coloured pebbles, without proper lighting, without real substrate and with only dried flake food to eat. Fish like that live in a death row cell, merely waiting around for food.

Are these Tanks of Horror or not? Some aquarists say it's merely a matter of taste, that fish won't find a difference between plastic objects or live plants and that some of the prettiest fish are bred in a puddle of sewage. My `top three' quotes from tanks of horror (although I have the sources of messages where the quotes came from, I am not out to `nail' anyone with quotes pried loose from their context):

``(...) my pleco in my other tank is too big - s'alright if he up and dies (...)''

When I clean my fish tanks, I get the strong smell of the ammonia. (It smells awful). I heard that one can actually get some disease from inhaling the vapors emitting from dirty water. What would you say?

After I had put my 3 Cories in my aquarium, about 2 hours later one had been eaten by my 1 of my 2 crabs. [...] I was wondering what to feed crabs, I had always had them in my other tank but didn't know exactly what they were eating. Do they need flakes or what? And what else should I put in with them that they won't eat? I am tired of buying fish and having them dead in a few hours, I just thought you guys'd know.

(There's an page contents index on the top of this page.)

This page is linked to the home page of Frans Goddijn.
Frans Goddijn, Postbus 30196, 6803 AD Arnhem, fax +31 (0)26 3211759
Updated on Oct 28, 1999