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CLOWN-KEEPING

Posted By: greg <gregandeileen@juno.com>
Date: Friday, 31 May 2002, at 8:22 p.m.

I have had clowns for about two years now. In the beginning, I made some mistakes and killed one, and the other was sick. I talked to a lot of keepers on the net, and as time has passed I believe I have about perfected the keeping of this species.

First, if you are lazy or don't have the time, don't keep Clowns. They ARE NOT easy to keep.

The main thing to remember is their water MUST be clean, clean, clean! If the black-stripes are grey, the water is dirty. I mean levels of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates that are so low they will not show up on a test. Doubt me? Do a good cleaning/waterchange and watch the fins fan out, their activity-level shoot way up, and their color go to jet-black with reddish-orange stripes and blood-red fin-markings!

Quit using tap-water. I finally quit screwing around trying to keep my tank balanced after about 10 keepers told me I would never do it with tap-water, additives or not. We put an RO unit under our kitchen-sink with a 10' piece of flex-hose and a nozzle to top the tank off or fill the "can" for waterchanges (see below). We also have a tap at the sink for RO drinking-water. Expensive? Slightly, but we never buy bottled drinking-water anymore, and we change the tank-water much more often. You will save $ on H2O chemicals, due to the fact you will probably only need to add Recon 50 to the RO water and possibly some buffer. That's all!

Clean, clean, clean! Our tank is on a wall that backs up to a pass-through to the kitchen-sink. Here is how I clean the tank evey 2 weeks. 1) put garbage-can on kitchen pass-through counter overnight with RO hose running into the bucket (we actually fill 2 buckets over about 30 hours)2) hook up Python cleaner to sink and vacuum the gravel extremely clean 3) put 1" dia hoses into cans and start a FAST siphon back into the tank (the cans are above the tank-level)4) Kick on the powerheads and the powerfilter 5) this takes all of 30 minutes once the cans are full. 6) do some minor cleaning and add some Cycle bacteria. The watrechange is about 60% of the tank-dangerous with tap-water, but not with RO water. Ro is RO is RO! And the Clowns love the fresh-water!

Yes, I have a UG filter hooked up to 2 Hagen 402 heads AND a Marineland 400 Emperor. I have news for you-you have been lied to RE UG filters so they can sell you very expensive filter-systems! I would put my filter-system up against anything on the world-market!! It is a VERY high-flow set-up, but I have a RIVER-TANK

This is a no-brainer- river dwelling fish come from rivers with extreme turnover and oxygenation. I have all strong-swimming river-fish: Clowns, swords, neons, zebras, a nice redtail-shark. I even have a small Gourami-I wasn't sure if he would like the tank, but he spends all day playing in the powerhead streams! Use sense- no fish like angels in this type of tank!

The high oxygenation from the heads and the powerfilter in the tank is pulled through the gravel, so you have lots of aerobic bacteria in the gravel. My tank was MUCH dirtier when I was using only the powerfilter, and the fish were not thriving.I set this tank up like my old 35 I used to have-like a river-model.

BUT, you still should keep the gravel-bed cleaned every two weeks. Gravel? I DONT like this "sterile" tank idea, and Clowns dont either. They DIG in the wild for food, and mine love to spend a good part of the day moving gravel. They DONT expose the UG plates- the holes "cave in" before they get over about 3/4" deep. But the fish stay happy doing what they do all day in nature!

After I put the UG system in with the heads my fish started growing FAST! They grew more in the last 5 months than the other 18 I had them before this system! Coincidence? If you saw my 6" plus loaches that are about 2.5" tall at the middle and about 1/2" through the gut, with spread fins and the colors described above, you would know they are very healthy!

Run one stock filter-pad, put a bioblock into the powerfilter, and get some non-Ph shifting high-grade carbon and keep one full box in the filter at all times. Rinse the pad every 2-3 days to clean off the "scunge" and change the carbon every two weeks. I reuse the "stock" pads for WEEKS and save big$ Tear down the powerfilter about every 3 months and clean it. But remember-when you are vacuuming, you can turn off the powerheads, but don't keep them off for more than about 45 minutes or the bacteria in the gravel will start dying! Get the water back into the tank, get them back on, them do whatever else you have to do! People ask me what happens when a powerhead dies? I have a spare one I can throw in so I can buy a rebuild-kit for the dead one! IF a head goes out for a while, won't the fish die? Not if you don't let the gravel get too dirty and the powerfilter is working well!

Keep the water at about 78 deg and try to keep the Ph slightly acid, at about 6.8. You will find this will help keep the tank cleaner, and the loaches will be healthier. Most people in the U.S. will pull their hair out trying to keep acid water from tap-water, tap-water is usually 7.2Ph or higher, and it has all kinds of garbage in it. RO!!

Feed the Clowns once a day. There are some good SINKING tablets on the market for loaches and cats. They also LOVE the Hikari medium-size carnivore tablets, but rotate the food, because these guys need to eat some vegies!

I would HIGHLY advise the use of a small isolation-tank for new fish. I used to screw around cleaning up ich and bacterial infestations after buying new fish- it seemed it happened most of the time. This is NO GOOD with a UG filter-you can poison all the good bactreia in the UG and powerfilter system. This is not good with ANY type of filtration!

I bought a small 2.5 gallon plastic tank with a cheap airpump,airstone and thermometer. Newcomers are kept in this tank for 5 days and treated with ich-medcation and a wide-spectrum antibiotic, with salt in the water. I change most of the 2.5 gallons daily with main-tank-water and rebalance the meds in the isolation-tank. DO NOT EVER put anything into the main-tank that has touched the isolation-tank water, or you are wasting 5 days! Think!

The results? About $25 for the total isolation-tank set-up. No disease AT ALL in the main-tank in well over a full year since I set this up. Much less $ spent not having to buy expensive pharmaceuticals and almost zero dead fish to replace. The $25 has been repaid!!I have some meds, but the proper amounts for a 2.5 gallon tank make the packages last a LONG time! I have only lost a few Zebras and Neons in the past year, and they have all died of extreme age, no kidding. Grey beards and all!

Clowns don't like direct bright light. Put in some plastic plants,in clumps so shade is formed. (note:forget a UG system with real plants, but, maybe if they are potted?? I have heard of doing this, but I don't like to mess around with plants)

Your clowns will hang out under these plants. Or arrange some overhanging rocks so they can get into the shade, but you can see them. People say Clowns hide all day; I haven't found this to be true, but I know they prefer to stay in the shade.

Well, that's about it.Contact me if you want more info. I set all this down because I hate the thought of people accidentally killing these fish and buying more- they are ALL trapped wild, and if the import level stays as it is, guess what? In a few years, another endangered species!

THINK if you really wany Clown-Loaches. They take more time to keep, get very large (I have seen net pictures of 9" Clowns!) and live to 12-14 years in captivity! One last thing-these fish are so social it is cruel to have only one! They often will die if kept alone-please get at least two or three!
 

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