THE BALD TAX BLOG
Welcome!! You are reading the inaugural installment of The Bald Tax Blog!! I hope to update this at the beginning of each month, day job permitting. Selfishly, I intend on using this blog as a vehicle to journal my experiences with the fish I keep. Over the last few years, I have somewhat used the GCCA Forum as a means to this end, but I thought with the new online application our club has built-out, I would try and take advantage of documenting more.
The other intent for this blog is (hopefully) to pass along my experiences to you, to help you set and reach your goals with this hobby and to avoid some of the mistakes and pitfalls I have encountered. But please note, I do not consider myself a fish-keeping expert in any regard, but just an avid hobbyist who loves cichlids. Ten years does not sound like a long time with any hobby, but with keeping cichlids, or any fish, you encounter many different situations and events as you progress with a species, and those situations and events add up very quickly.
Who am I? My name is Scott Womack and I have been a member of the GCCA for 9 years. I am a simple tax accountant who discovered cichlids in 2001. I kept community fish as a kid and once had a55 gallontank in my firstChicagoarea apartment. But then I got married, we bought a house, had a couple of kids, and every now and then I found myself drawn back to fish-keeping. When we bought our house in 1996, my priority was a basement, thinking I wanted the space for “something.” A fish tank was one strong possibility that I considered. I sometimes wonder whether I would have been keeping cichlids if we had bought a house with no basement.
I've been using Aquarian Flake Food for years. Unfortunately, about a year ago, Mars Pet Products stopped marketing Aquarian Flake Food in the United States. I heard that it had to do with regulatory issues.
Finding a good replacement food hasn't been easy. So, what am I looking for?
- Large flakes size for my larger fish, but easy enough to crush for fry
- Readily accepted by both fry and adult fish (they want to eat it)
- Available in bulk for lower price
- Vitamin Fortified
- Good grow-out rates for fry
- No bloat or other problems (obviously)
At this year's American Cichlid Association Convention, I picked up a couple of cans of food that I had not seen before: New Life Spectrum Optimum Fresh H20 Flakes. I was already familiar with New Life Spectrum Foods and have been using their pellets on and off throughout the years. Their pellet foods are so popular that many hobbyists generically use the term NLS to refer to the product.
At first glance, I wasn't sure this would be a great cichlid food as the primary ingredients are heavily based on protein rather than vegetable products and the protein content of this food is a whopping 49%. That said, I primarily use flake for fry and juvenile cichlids and for my livebearers. Young cichlids can tolerate higher levels of protein in their diet. In addition, I generally vary what I feed my fish, rotating in a good spirulina flake.
NLS Optimum Fresh H20 flake contains garlic which helps to prevent intestinal parasites and is a color enhancing flake. It even has ginseng as an ingredient. This food has a fiber content of 4% which is about on par with most other brands of non-vegetarian flakes.
Crude Protein (min) ......49%
Crude Fat (min) ......8%
Crude Fiber (max) .....4%
Moisture (max) ......9%
Ash (max) ......10%
Vitamin A (min) ......8000IU/kg
Vitamin D (min) ......2500IU/kg
Vitamin E (min) ....200IU/kg
Whole Antarctic Krill Meal, Whole Herring Meal, Wheat Flour, Whole Squid Meal, Mussel Meal, Algae Meal, Garlic, Soybean Isolate, Beta Carotene, Spirulina, Vegetable and Fruit Extract (Spinach, Broccoli, Red Pepper, Zucchini, Tomato, Pea, Red and Green Cabbage, Apple, Apricot, Mango, Kiwi, Papaya, Peach, Pear), Ginseng, Vitamin A Acetate D-Activated Animal Sterol (D3), Vitamin B 12 supplement , Thiamine, Biotin, DL-Alphatocophero (E), Riboflavin Supplement , Niacin, Folic Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, L-Ascorby-2-polyphosphate (Stable C), Choline Chloride Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Cobalt Sulfate , Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate.
NLS Optimum Fresh H20 flake has worked very well for me. I've seen great growth rates for my cichlid fry. It can be a real challenge to migrate fry from baby brine shrimp to flake, but this food is so appealing it hasn't been a problem. My livebearers seem to have shown the greatest benefit. I've seen increased spawning from mollies and goodeids and superior color.
I liked the food so much I bought a 1.76 pound tub from Jehmco. I keep the large tub in the freezer and only take out what I need each week to feed my fish. A complaint about the bulk packaging is that it is really hard to open, especially when cold out of the freezer. I transferred the flake to another container with a screw-top lid.
HD Underwater video and images of wild cichlids in Lake Tanganyika, taken by Alex Jordan during a research trip in August-December 2011. One or two of the photos taken by Stefan Fischer. For more information about the research side of things, please visit www.alexjordan.org
If you have any older, incandescent hoods, you probably are aware that the standard bulbs used in these hoods generate a lot of heat and don't last very long. Worse, the quality of light from incandescent bulbs is harsh and doesn't make your fish look good.
There is an easy solution . . . the Coralife Colormax 10 Watt compact fluorescent bulb which is about $9.
How many cichlid hobbyists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Fortunately, just one . . . me!
I had an old incandescent 5-gallon hood that came with a cheap boxed aquarium set and the light was certainly harsh and too hot.
Changing this out to the Colormax was easy. The new bulb has a standard screw-in bulb base. Just unscrew your existing lightbulb and screw in this fluorescent replacement.
Once I had the bulb in, I was very pleased with the appearance of the fish and the tank. The color looked natural and I even think the fish looked a bit happier.
The packaging states that this bulb "provides full spectrum light". I don't have a light meter, but it looked darn good to me.
If you are looking for a way to get better results from that old aquarium hood, give the Coralife Colormax 10 Watt compact fluorescent bulb a try.
I recently purchased a Gamma Seal which adds a rugged, screw-on lid to 5-gallon buckets.
The Gamma Seal is made from high density polyethylene and it creates a leak-proof and airtight seal making 5-gallon buckets great for transporting fish.
Using a rubber mallet, you tap on the included adapter ring which includes a rubber gasket. With the adapter in place, you can screw in the cover and you're good to go. I haven't tried removing one of the adapters from a bucket and I'm not sure it is possible.
In a word, great!
Once installed, you can hold a bucket completely upside down and it won't leak. If you've ever had a bucket of fish tip over in your car, you will appreciate the Gamma Seal.
I used to transport a bucket containing a very large (and mean) Vieja hartwegi to the Cichlid Classic and it worked perfectly.
Gamma Seals are available at some Fleet/Farm stores, but it is easy to find them from internet retailers:
Each year, GCCA Member Ric Perez hosts the club for our annual picnic. Ric has over 100 fish tanks, a huge pond and some really awesome tortoises.
The American Cichlid Association (ACA) is a national organization dedicated to the cichlid hobby. The annual ACA Convention is a highlight of the year for many cichlid hobbyists.
The ACA operates funds for cichlid research and habitat conservation. Both of these noble aims are fully supported by the GCCA and our club makes an annual contribution to the ACA.
At the 2012 ACA Convention in Indianapolis, GCCA contributed $500 to the ACA. We are proud to support the ACA.
GCCA Treasurer Bob Chirempes presents a $500 check to ACA Chairman Dean Hougen.
GCCA was proud to honor Mario Toromanovic and Bruce Canaday for achieving the level of Advanced Breeder in our BAP program. To become an Advanced breeder, 25 successful spawns must be submitted.
The BAP is an important part of what makes GCCA a viable club. The BAP program challenges members to breed new fish and it brings exciting new fish into our club at each meeting. The GCCA site has more details on the Breeders Award Program.
As we prepare for our March speaker Mike Wise, I thought it would be fun to post some apistogramma video's
If you attend GCCA swap meets, perused our forum, or browsed the GCCA Classifieds, you've probably come across someone called "Wilpir".
I was looking at the Classifieds a couple of weeks ago and came across an ad from Wilpir for Lithochromis xanthopetryx fry. This unusual Victorian cichlid isn't easy to find! I had three females that and I was looking for some males. I quickly sent off a note to Wilpir to ask if he had any extra males. He did!
Wilpir's real name is Scott Reiser and he is an accomplished fishkeeper who lives in Oswego, IL. Oswego is well over fifty miles from my house, but I was driving down to Bloomington, IL for business and Oswego would conveniently be on the way back. Could I stop by?
The Greater Chicago Cichlid Association — GCCA — is a not-for-profit, educational organization, chartered in the state of Illinois, dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of information relating to the biology of the fishes in the family Cichlidae, with particular emphasis on maintenance and breeding in captivity. We are simply cichlid hobbyists who love cichlids.