Clive Walford (ex member of Mid-Herts A.S)

Part 1 The Pond - and I am happy

The monsoon season started early November and we have had some heavy rainfalls. At least I don't have to top up the pond very often now!
A low point on the walls allows the overflow to drain quite nicely (that reminds me I must cut a couple of inches off the top of the fitted overflow pipe!)

The local fry are now about 2 - 2 ½ (fish) inches which make the pond look even more crowded. Luckily, there have been no more sucessful spawnings. I think the poor “mums” can't keep them safe in her mouth with such a high number of fish in the pond (or Nature says “too crowded so no spawning”)

Feeding time has become “the comedy hour!” or “keep fit classes for fish.” If they were fed in one go, three large handfuls of medium pellets disappear within seconds, a fourth takes another 2 minutes! However I only throw in small amounts at a time. First in one corner then after all the fish rush to grab that lot I throw more into the opposite corner and so on until they have had their ration. This all takes half an hour or so and with all the frantic swimming back and forwards I must have the fittest fish in Bali! (or they have all got indigestion!)

One strange thing is that when I throw in a handful, 5 or 6 fish ignore it and go to where the Angelfish are because I always throw some to them a few seconds later as they get knocked out of the way by the other fish in the general feeding (it's costing me a fortune in fish food).

The large quantity of floating plants has all but disappeared as the fish have eaten all the roots! It's quite funny to see the 8 inch Orfe climb into the plant pot to get at food that has floated into it - the 12” pot has its rim 1/2inch below water level & gravel 1/2” below that). It climbs and “walks” all round then a quick flick of the tail thrusts it back out.
It also likes to suck an inch of my finger to remove the remnants of my toast and jam breakfast (I am a messy eater!)

When the “fry” were small, two or three times a day they would shoal like a platoon of soldiers (about 8 ins wide x 2ft long) and patrol round the pond for a minute or so, in and out of the caves before breaking up.

Ka, my wife, keeps check on their growth and estimates another 3 - 5 months before they are big enough for the table.

Obviously the water conditions are critical but we only have a bit of a problem when we have a power cut or when we switch everything off for pump/filter cleaning. Then there is a bit of “air gobbling."

The filter pump is supposed to do 3000L/H (discharged via the waterfall) and the other pump creates good flow near bottom level. Two air stones also help to keep the balance just about acceptable. The water is still very clear.

Part 2 The Aquarium - and I am not happy

At the end of September, the first aquarium and cabinet (120x50x60 cms.) was delivered and set up by the delivery men.

FIRST MISTAKE! I forgot to check the floor level and when we filled the tank there is 3mm difference between the two ends (but covered by the plastic rim). It was filled with part tap water and part pond water. We scoured the fish shops and bird market and managed to get about 50% (most of their stock!) of the plants that I wanted.

After a couple of days we started catching the “tropical” fish from the pond. Luckily my dear wife has a lot more patience than I have and after three days we had managed to transfer most of the fish, leaving some little Platies, one Silver Shark, a couple of female green Swordtails and two Angels, … and the Botia still in the pond! In the days we were “fishing” I don't think we saw them once! (A week later we saw all three!)

After a couple of days everything looked good and all the fish seemed settled. I agreed with my wife we needed more fish and so off we went doing the tour again. (I should mention at this point that my wife is a very undemanding wife and so when she does occasionally ask for something I always agree. OK! Come out from behind the sofa!).

At the first shop my wife saw, and asked for, “Some of these pretty little yellow and sweet little blue fish, together with a nice small black and silver striped fish”.
SECOND BIG AND FATAL MISTAKE! All of the (very) little knowledge of fishkeeping I had went straight out of the window and we bought two pretty yellow, two sweet little blue and one nice small silver and black fish. The second stop was to buy two very lively well-coloured, but small, red-finned sharks (OK, just wait a couple of paragraphs all of you, 'cos you know what's coming!!)

All the new fish were slowly introduced to the aquarium and spent the next few days exploring every nook and cranny and investigating the other inhabitants.

All seemed well and after three days we set off to Ka's family home in Lombok for the Muslim big event of the year. The maid was coached in feeding the fish (only feed once a day to avoid enthusiastic over-feeding). We had a good time and stayed for nine days. We arrived back home in the evening and after unpacking we first checked the pond. It looked good and a feed was obviously welcomed! Then to check the aquarium.

First look surprised me. 75% of the plants had gone, the rest reduced in size to 2 - 4 inches in height. The second look astounded me.

The Guppies had disappeared, and one Rosy Barb had a big hole in its side! All the fish except five (OK, you know which ones!) cringed in the corners, fins damaged on most of them. Two Swords had lost half their tails and one Angel most of its fins. The two Red-finned Sharks were grey and struggling to swim . We extracted the poorest looking fish to a small aquarium I had, but did not hold out much hope. We lost seven fish in the end. I explained to Ka that the second big mistake I had made was in just buying fish without checking how compatible they were with other fish in a community aquarium.



On checking I decided that the pretty yellows were Labidochromis caeruleus, the sweet blue were possibly Pseudetropheus socolofi.
The black and silver was Melanochromis auratus. Sorry the pics are not very good. Hopefully some one out there will correct me (and my spelling!) where necessary.

(The pic on the right is of one of two fish we later bought as a female
M. auratus. Both were this colour when bought. But after a week one had changed colour to the same as the male! Comments on that please!)

A second aquarium (100 x 50 x 60 cms) was ordered and set up (level) and prepared for the aggressors. Some rock and stone were put in with plenty of gravel. Having virtually no plants left, Ka put in three cuttings from a big plant growing in shallow water a pot on a ledge in the pond. I did not expect them to survive but after 3 weeks they are still there but not growing any bigger as of yet.The aggressors settled in and there is a bit of chasing each other but no physical assaults. They share the nooks and crannies in the stonework caves, but no one tries to claim a particular place as its own. They all do a bit of excavation work in and around the stone.

After a while we went shopping again!

An additional 'bluey' was purchased together with the two so-called females (auratus). Slightly against my better judgement we bought two very colourful dark blue fish about the same size as the rest of the group - M. chipokae I think?

These were for the cichlid aquarium! So far there appears to be a “friendly but slightly aggressive” existence with no real fights (watch this space!)

The other aquarium has had a few more plants added, but again the choice is very limited. Also a few more fish were purchased over a week or so and now it looks quite “busy”.

The two Corydoras are my favourite. Four Rainbows (two each of two species) four small Tiger Barbs, two Botia kobotia, one Ghost Fish (I am not certain of its scientific name and can't find a picture on the 'net) and two new small Clown Botia!! The Clowns are a bit short sighted I think, 'cos they keep with the Tiger Barbs a lot of the time. (same size, similar markings as the Botia).

We did put the two Angelfish from the pond in the aquarium but after a very short time we had to return one to the pond as it became very aggressive to all of the other fish. Also the Silver Shark from the pond was put in the aquarium but it is deformed with bent spine. I am too soft hearted to get rid of it. The major problem in the two aquariums is trying to keep the temperature below 30oC. I have put glass between the lights(3 tubes but mostly only use 2) with a small gap to allow some heat dissipation. The air conditioning is not big enough for the room size and even with a fan blowing the temperature in the aquarium never gets below the 30oC mark. Plant growth is non-existent so far. Any suggestions and advice welcomed! Well that's the latest on my rather poor aquatic venture but Ka has suggested a third aquarium (she likes the look of some Discus we saw! HELP!). Perhaps a further article will be forthcoming?


NOTE: I am far from rich! I must employ one 'local' as part of my visa requirements. The maid lives in and wages are around £20 / month

Last updated November 2007

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