FYI, I've been thinking of keeping a diary of my little Peppermint Bristlenose Project and finally decided the best way to do it is through a blog. Simple. Easy. No fuss to manage.
Anyway, some background info:
I've always wanted to buy peppermint bristlenose catfish (Ancistrus hoplogenys) and attempt to breed them. But until now, I've always balked at the expense of these little critters. At $65AUD a pop for a 2cm peppermint bn, its just nuts.
Well anyway, I went a little nuts on Sunday 20th September 2007 (5 days ago) when I went to Vebas in O'Connor (Perth, Western Australia for all you people not living in the centre of the universe). I managed to convince my wife to come along and whilst browsing around at all the fish, I spotted the peppermint bn and started drooling like 1yr old Aidan (a close friend's first born). Typically my fiscally shrewd wife shot me down when she saw how much they cost ($65AUD per fish, ouchies!! cough! splutter!), though she did concur that they were darn nice lookin fish! I begged her to let me burn some $$$ and buy a few, but she held her ground and said we should keep an eye out for cheaper ones to make sure we aren't paying through the nose!
At that, I managed to convince her on the way home to stop by the Perth Aquarium Display Centre in Cannington just to see if they had any there at a cheaper price. Reluctanctly she agreed and we entered the store and browsed the displays. As I went rapidly searching through each of the displays, I started to get disheartened when I didn't see any. Finally I got to the end of all their displays and not one did I see. So discouraging that was. But then my wife came to my rescue. I love you wifey!!! She had been taking her time browsing and found the peppermints that I had missed in my overzealous search... then again.. I should have stopped to ask the shopkeeper first... heh. Ah... who asks for directions anyway!
Well they were priced at $120 for 3 ($40AUD each)... which was definitely cheaper than Vebas, but they only had 3 in that tank. Since I appeared so smitten by them, my wife agreed to let me burn the $$$ and we bought them all. Woohoo!! I finally get to own peppermints!!!
Now, at home, I have 3 tanks:
Tank 1 and 2 are 24x12x18 (inches) - 80L capacity
Tank 3 is 48x18x18 (inches) - 247L capacity
Tank 1 contained a single female Electric Blue (Maingano).
Tank 2 contained one Kenyi (Maylandia lombardoi) and 3 offspring (from an inadvertant crossbreeding with the female maingano up top), and also includes 1 regular bristlenose.
Tank 3 sits empty and barren. The oscars that used to live there passed away several years ago sadly.
My interest in this hobby revived again with the peppermints, I eagerly booted the current occupants of Tank 2 up to Tank 1 (a little crowding I know.. but its only temporary once I get Tank 3 setup soonish), and that afternoon, after buying the peppermints, I prepped the newly vacated Tank 2 for my latest favourites. The prepping involved gravel vacuuming the vacant aquarium and then changing about 70% of the water using fresh tap water with some general water conditioner (removes chlorine and harmful metals etc). Theres probably better and safer ways to prep a tank... but I just wanted to have a relatively clean tank... and never had a problem doing this with my existing fish... though I knew I was taking a bit of risk with the new fish... thinking back, maybe I really should have taken the time to minimise the shock.
After 20mins of adjusting to the water temp in a bag floating around, I slowly started to mix the aquarium water into the bag and eventually when the bag was filled, I turned it diagonally downwards and the peppemints swam out on their own.
They went a light brown colour initially, probably unhappy about the sudden change in water condition and temperature. But after about an hour, they changed back to their normal colour and started to settle in. Phew... I was relieved that they seem to get their color back so quick... I would have been spanked by my wife if one of them carked it straight away... well .. we ain't out of the woods yet... it'll be several days/weeks before we know if they adjust ok to the change in environment.
As usual, I tried to resist feeding them after just introducing them to the tank. Generally I find most of the fish I've had, never seem to start feeding until they've settled in around 24hrs later. Especially the smaller guys.
Well that was that. Finally I had some pepperints... you'd think I was satisfied. My wife thought I'd be... but little did she know, that she released a monster spender :P
That Tuesday 18 September 2007, I went back to Vebas, with the intention of just buying a cheap piece of driftwood to help the little critters digest their vegetarian diet.... but not satisfied at just having the 3,.. I had wanted to have around 5 all up so that I had a better chance of having mixed sexes for breeding purposes down the track. Anyway, I decided, if I could convince the shopkeeper to sell the ones he had to me at the same price as the ones I bought at the other store, that I'd buy 2 more. Well, the shopkeeper told me he couldn't sell me those ones I'd seen, but he had another batch in another display that I had missed, which were identical in size to the ones we already had and they were going for $45 each. Not too bad, I thought, and decided to buy them and add them to my little peppermint pod.
But wait! Theres more!... well I kinda spotted a two piece shipwreck for $32 while I was in the store and thought it'd fit nicely as hidey holes for my peppies... so ...well.. I sunk more $$$ into this new little peppermint craze! ...
Lets just say my wife was probably gonna spank me when I get home... and not in the kinky kinda way! :P But actually, in the end she was kinda cool about it... relief!!
So that night, into the tank the new additions went, along with the cheap driftwood... which turned out to look quite good.
Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm to have a cool looking shipwreck in that tank, i didn't stop to think whether I could fit it through the gap into the tank. You see, Tank 1 & 2 sit on top of each other on a metal stand. Tank 1 at the top. Tank 2 with the peppies at the bottom... with very little gap between to put stuff into it. Silly me... anyway, I ended up having to extract 90% of the water out.. leaving the peppers in there with shallow water... pulling out the aquarium and inserting the shipwreck, then moving the tank back into the stand and returning the extracted water... so much effort...due to thoughtless impulse buys... I need to slow down and think before I pull tat wallet out :P and here I reckon my wife would chuckle to herself and agree with me... one of those rare moments! :P
Each night, I'd been putting either one piece of sera catfish chips into the tank or a couple of small protein pellets into the tank to see if the peppies would eat. But so far they hadn't appeared to have eaten anything (that I could see anyway... there could have been algae in the tank that they were feeding on... hard to tell).
On Wednesday night I put some lettuce into the tank (blanched for like 10 mins - well literally cooked lol)... didn't really know whether I was preparing it right. Well obviously the peppies didn't like it because they didn't seem to have eaten it.
Anyway, we are now at today. This morning, seeing as they didn't appear to have eaten the lettuce, which I had had trouble sinking down the night before, I decided I'd go back to Vebas once again... oh the dread! my wife should be,.. IS worried!! I decided to buy some veggie clips that I had read about on the net. They're about $4 or so. Pretty good simple little gadget. its just a plastic clip for holding your veggies and has a suction pad to stick to the glass. Simply use it to hold the vegies near the bottom of the tank for the catfish. I figured this would encourage them to 'take the bait'. Then I dropped by Woolworths on the way home and picked up some Zuchini and Squash. I figure they must be hungry by now if they haven't eaten anything all week... and all over the web i seem to read about ppl feeding their peppies zuchini and them loving it.
Well I sliced a piece of the zuchini and blanched it for about 60seconds tonight... just to soften it up... and inserted it into the bottom of the tank with the veggie clip and switched off the aquarium light.
Now, here I am, typing this blog on my laptop, whilst lying beside the peppie aquarium waiting patiently. Waiting. Waiting to see if they'll take a bite on the Zuchini. Comon please eat it! Please let me see you eat it!! Waaah.. 5 peppies and not a single one of them with the courage to come out of hiding to eat it in front of me.
Ah well.. I better stop typing here. Time to spend some quality time with my wife before she asks for a divorce because I'm so obsessed with these peppies.
Will try to post some piccies of the tank and peppies soonish.