Animal-World proudly features: Fairy Wrasses, an aquarium fairyland at its best!
These gorgeous fish came into my life shortly after I started into the saltwater hobby. Fairy Wrasses quickly became my personal favorite finned fish when they first began to appear many years ago. They have held a special place in my heart ever since!
Initially Fairy Wrasses were not too expensive but then prices started to soar for a few years. Now they are at a moderate to very high price, depending on the species you want. Still they never disappoint and each species seems to have a little bit of a unique personality. Sometimes it’s a decision between paying the electric bill and buying a wrasse. Yes, it is an illness!
The Cirrhilabrus (which is their genus name) are very easy to care for. They are also easily trained to eat out of your hand, given time and patience. Then every time you walk by the tank they scream “look how pretty I am, feed me!” So hey, throw in a little smidgen of food if you want because their super energy bodies appreciate it.
The only down side to keeping a Fairy Wrasse is that they love to carpet surf. Being avid jumpers they can quickly leap out of the tank. This is easy to prevent however, if you are careful about their tank mates and provide a lid of some kind. An awesome trait is that they are fairly disease resistant, and sleeping in a slimy cocoon at night helps them in this capacity too.
Choosing Your Fairy Wrasse
A great thing about the Cirrhilabrus species is that there will always be a color and size that will fit in your tank. If you have a 20 inch long aquarium, choose from the smaller 2.6″ to 3″ species, but if you have a larger tank, you can choose from the wrasses that are over 3″.
One of the smaller species is the 2.6″ Yellowfin Fairy Wrasse Cirrhilabrus flavidorsalis and a large wrasse would be the 5.1″ Scott’s Fairy Wrasse C. scottorum.
Some the most outstandingly colored wrasses, and a few favorites, are the Laboute’s Wrasse Cirrhilabrus laboutei which has amazing striping and the Flame Wrasse C. jordani with intense sunset colorings of red, orange and yellow. The Purple-Lined or Lavender Fairy Wrasse C. lineatus is beautifully adorned with yellow and red fins on a greenish yellow body with blue to purple lines. Another favorite is the Temminck’s Wrasse C. Temminckii, who seems to have the qualities of a flasher wrasse. Its body has many colors of the rainbow with bluish green dotted lines along the top, reflecting the reef line in your tank. It’s not hard to see why these are some of the most sought after fairy wrasses, and their price tags reflect that fact!
Fairy Wrasses range in price from $15.00 to $250.00 each. The color, but also the depths at which they are found, add to the price. Those that are found at very deep levels of the ocean are the ones that are the most expensive. They are also the ones who are very susceptible to improper collection, and because of this have the highest mortality rate, usually within a month of purchase. Who wants to come home to a $250.00 fish that is now dead because of carelessness? I sure wouldn’t! So keep that scenario in the back of your mind and demand a guarantee on these pricey fish.
Wrasses come in so many colors and patterns that even a tighter budget can allow for similarly colored, yet cheaper version of each. For example, if you want a fish with green or blue, the Indonesian Scott’s Fairy Wrasse C. scottorum will run you up to and over $100.00 USD. Yet the Solar or Red Headed Fairy Wrasse C. solorensis, which is my personal favorite, is similarly colored and will only cost around $40.00 to $50.00 USD. If you want a little red or orange, you can choose the Jordani Wrasse at $250.00 for a super male, or a $35.00 Redfinned Fairy Wrasse C. rubripinnis. How about pink? The Laboutes’ Fairy Wrasse has some pink, but is again very expensive. On the other hand, the Lubbocki’s Fairy Wrasse has similar coloring but is one of the least expensive. The Laboute’s patterning is by far more amazing though.
Keeping Your Fairy Wrasse Happy and Healthy
If you are limited on space but you are chomping at the bit to own a fairy wrasse, no problem. The smaller species will do well in a 30-gallon, or even a 20 inch long. They are movers and shakers though, so will do better with length over depth in a tank configuration. The larger species need at least 55 gallons, which should be at least 4′ long.
Be sure to have a lid on the aquarium. These wrasses do jump, and they will carpet surf at some point if the tank isn’t covered. An Atlantic Tang juvenile actually sparred with my Solar Fairy Wrasse, and chased him up and out of the tank!
The substrate is also no problem; you can choose whatever substrate you want. In fact you don’t need substrate since the Cirrhilabrus species do not bury themselves at night. They spin a slimy cocoon to sleep in. Provide lots of rockwork with crevices or caves for them to spin their cocoon in at night. The cocoon prevents their scent from being detected by predators, but will not affect water quality. Speaking of water quality, Fairy wrasses are quite disease resistant, but dirty tanks can still result in a sick wrasse, so be sure to do proper maintenance.
Fairy Wrasses are very active, and with that high-energy output there needs to be quality input. Provide them with a wide variety of meaty foods and feed them several times a day. The more you feed them, the less they will be inclined to chow on any copepods you have built up over the months. In smaller tanks you may need to add copepods periodically.
These wrasses don’t usually fill up too much on copepods when there’s lots of rockwork unless you have a large number of wrasses. I had about 5 fairy wrasses and a mandarin in a 150-gallon tank that was teaming with copepods, and the copepod numbers never seemed to dwindle. Other species, like Halichoeres Wrasses, are much harder on copepod populations.
Fairy Wrasses Enjoy Lots of Companions
Here are some considerations for keeping different Fairy Wrasse species together: Fairy Wrasses are some of the few saltwater fish where you can easily mix species. A great thing about keeping Cirrhilabrus wrasses together, is that there is no fight to the death, just chasing. Then after a hierarchy is established, life goes on. At the very worst a dominant wrasse will chase, and then the subordinate fish will hide. I had a Solar Fairy Wrasse that hid for a week under a rock when I added the Scott’s Fairy Wrasse. The Solar Fairy eventually got used to the idea and came out. You will only need to remove a subordinate fish if the chasing situation has not resolved itself in over 2 weeks.
You can keep multiple Cirrhilabrus species if you follow a few guidelines. First, the tank should be larger than the minimum size. When mixing sizes, the 2.6″ fairy wrasses like the Lubbock’s C. lubbocki and Longfin or Social Fairy Wrasse C. rubriventralis, should be added first and become established before adding wrasses in the 4″ size category.
The Solar or Red Headed Fairy Wrasse C. solorensis is an exception, it can be added at the same time. What I really like about the Solar Fairy Wrasse is that although it is one of the bigger ones, they seem to do okay with the smaller species because they have more mellow personalities. They will get along with the larger wrasses too.
Allow several months for the smaller wrasses to grow a little and adjust. Add the largest 5″ fairy wrasse species last, and add them as small juveniles so they are similar in size to your smaller and more timid wrasses. These larger ones would be like the Scott’s Fairy Wrasse C. scottorum, Temminck’s Fairy Wrasse C. temminckii, and Yellowstreak Fairy Wrasse C. Luteovittatus. I suggest that order for these larger wrasses because experience showed me the C. Luteovittatus can be quite aggressive, and that was in a 150-gallon tank!
If you are unsure about compatibility between species, or do not want to try and remove fish after adding them, your safest bet is to not house smaller wrasses, that are only 2 1/2″ to about 3”, with the larger 5″ wrasses that are more aggressive. You can house 4 – 5″ wrasses together without a problem provided you add the 5″ size last, and after the 4″ sized wrasses are settled and older.
Adding two females has resulted in one turning male for many an aquarist, though they may not become a “super male”. Super males are a premium fish with the most outstanding coloration, as reflected by the money you pay for them.
Keeping Fairy Wrasses with other fish: Cirrhilabrus species get along with most other fish, except the very aggressive fish that may bite at them if they enter their territory like dottybacks. Do not house them with fish large enough to swallow them whole.
Here are a couple other considerations for other fish you may want to house with Cirrhilabrus species:
- Do not house with flasher wrasses Paracheilinus spp., since for some reason, the Fairy Wrasses do not tolerate them. It may be they are competing for similar foods. Very small fairy wrasses may be okay with flasher wrasses, but that is only in a very large tank over 100 gallons or at least 5′ long.
- Smaller Halichoeres species will be attacked by fairy wrasses as well. Keeping species of these two genus together may work as juveniles, but only if the Halichoeres is larger. Halichoeres Wrasses differ in their sleeping behaviors too, they do bury themselves in sand while the Cirrhilabrus species do not.
You just can’t go wrong with a Fairy Wrasse. They rarely are the troublemakers of the tank, and if they are, it’s with their own kind. So save those pennies and buy your future favorite fish!
Carrie McBirney is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
Animal-World’s Newest Featured Animals are: The Amazing Spotted Snake Eels!
Out of all the salt-water fish I have ever owned, I have to say the Snake Eels of the Myrichthys genus have always been my favorites! Watching them bury under the sand, leaving just their head sticking out, is the funkiest thing you’ll ever see. But the coolest part of owning them is that they will eat silversides right from your hand! And if they accidentally grab your finger, it never hurts becuase they grab and swallow their prey rather than biting it.
I will refer to these as Spotted Snake Eels, because, well they are spotted! Two similar species are the Spotted or Tiger Snake Eel Myrichthys maculosus and the Magnificent Snake Eel Myrichthys magnificus, and these two are similar in care as well. Both are a creamy off white with large brown spots all over their bodies. But the Magnificent Snake Eel is a light tan color with large brown spots while the Tiger Snake Eel seems to be more of a creamy white and with slightly smaller dark brown spots.
In the wild Snake Eels are very friendly to divers, readily coming up to them and investigating. The Spotted or Tiger Snake Eel is found in the Indo-Pacific and the Magnificent Snake Eel is found in the Eastern Central Pacific, including the Hawaiian Islands. So if you were diving there on vacation, you may very well have seen this eel.
Many retailers and people confuse the Spotted Snake Eels with the Sharptail Snake Eel Myrichthys breviceps, which is nowhere near as attractive. The Spotted ones can be readily distinguished because the spots on their faces are also large, unlike the tiny dots you will find on the Sharptail Snake Eel. Another member, the Banded Snake Eel Myrichthys columbrinus, is banded in black and white, but is also similar in care.
Spotted Snake Eels make great pets!
I own the Spotted or Tiger Snake Eel M. maculosus. Of course we named ours “Spot” because well, what else are you going to name one? This eel is great at stirring the sand bed and as a juvenile it came out every day to eat, although as an adult it only comes out every other day to eat. When it comes out to eat it will swim around the tank, which either elates or scares whoever is visiting our home at the time!
Although they are said to be hard to feed, personally I have never had one refuse thawed frozen krill or silversides. I feed 2 or 3 skinny silversides at a time, or until it is full, and then they’re good to go! After filling their bellies, they will bury themselves under the sand until they get hungry again.
The Spotted Snake Eels will grow up to about 30″ (78 cm) in length, but the girth of their body is similar to the girth of your thumb. Due to their skinny girth, they do not produce as much waste as a full-bodied eel of the same length. Consequently they are not as sensitive to water conditions as butterflyfish or angelfish types, which adds to the joy of owning one.
The most difficult thing about their care is that they are incredible escape artists, making Houdini look like an idiot! The one thing to be aware of is tank decor and equipment that offers any type of escape. If you can stick your finger in a hole, such as in some water pumps, the Spotted Snake Eel will more than likely be able to go through as well. The worst thing they will do in a reef tank is knock a coral over, but most aquarists know how to secure corals. My Snake Eel has never ever gone after any of my fish, and has not bothered any invertebrates.
Finding a Spotted Snake Eel will take some work and they are not cheap. But if you have a tank that has a tight fitting lid and are willing to make sure they are fed daily or every other day when adults, then go for it! With any of the Myrichthys species you will enjoy the oddity of their behavior, and a pet like quality that differs from the typical saltwater fish!
Tips for housing Spotted Snake Eels in the saltwater aquarium
A tank that is at least 4 feet or longer is best for these thin elongated fish. They are great with normal tropical water temperatures and pH and they are not picky about any light or water movement. It is obvious by their burrowing habits that a sand bed is needed. Larger, more abrasive substrates such as crushed coral may lacerate their skin. Mine have always done well with 2″ of sand.
Be sure you have the aquarium covered with a very tight fitting lid. To prevent escape you must be able to seal off the top of the tank with only enough room for tubing to fit. Egg crate lids will not work as these eels can wiggle right through them as juveniles and young adults. They will come out looking for food and if they find a hole, will wiggle right through it and out of the tank!
The best tank is one that is completely sealed on top with an overflow. Make sure they cannot go over the edge of the over flow, because they will! The teeth or grating of the overflow at the top should reach and meet the lid, with no gaps. Most saltwater tanks are open on top because of the need for air exchange at the surface. When keeping a Spotted Snake Eel, you can add oxygen into the tank by adding an air pump and using fittings that make large bubbles instead. It is a little messier, but then what saltwater tank isn’t a little messy anyway?
If you have a pump that has any open holes at the bottom or sides, then it is just a matter of time before the eel will wiggle into it. It can get killed that way. Sicce Voyager pumps are better than Hydora Korolia pumps to use with these eels because they do not have any open holes that an eel can wiggle into.
Tips for feeding Spotted Snake Eels
As far as feeding them, it has been observed that they are very smart and will look for food in the same spot each time! My first Spotted Snake Eel I had when I was a noob saltwater tank owner. I hand fed it at the top of the water. So one day we came home and Spot was dried up on the floor. He was probably popping his head out of the water looking for food and jetted himself right out and over! My next Spotted Snake Eel, which I obtained years later, is fed at the bottom of the tank in a little rock opening. Consequently he only goes there in search of food.
Health Tips for Spotted Snake Eels
Spotted Snake Eels are disease resistant, but with no scales, so don’t treat their tank with any copper medications. If it should happen that you find your seemingly “dead” snake eel out of its tank, do NOT assume it is dead. Put it back in the tank for at least an hour. They have a defense mechanism that protects them from exposure to air for several hours. I learned this the hard way!
Carrie McBirney is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Chinchilla!
I have to admit, one of my all-time favorite pets has been the Chinchilla. I didn’t start owning them until I was in high school, but after I got my first one, I was in love! I have owned 5 Chinchillas since that first one! Many people who keep chinchillas as pets will attest to their wonderful pet qualities. A niche market for chinchilla fur also exists and chinchilla breeders around the world abound for this very purpose.
Chinchillas are believed by many to be wonderful and personable pets. Being very loving and curious, they can easily bond with their owners. They also love exercise and are quite active little critters! In general chinchillas don’t have much of an odor and are very clean. Although I would recommend chinchillas as pets, they do have some more stringent care requirements. I learned from my personal experience that chinchillas are quite fragile and do not do well with stress or extreme temperatures. They also require regular dust baths to keep their fur in good condition.
Did you know that the chinchilla has the most fur per square inch of any mammal? About 60 hairs emerge from every hair follicle. Their fur is extremely dense and soft which makes for a very nice feel. Chinchilla pelts are desirable for this very reason and are used for many different garments. The chinchilla fur trade has been going on since the 1500′s and many breeders only breed for the purpose of selling their furs. Two varieties of Chinchillas are available in the United States for the most part. The Chinchilla lanigera is usually the pet variety, while the Chinchilla brevicaudata is usually the kind used in the fur trade.
South America is the native home of these little guys. Peru, Bolivia, and Chile originally housed Chinchillas in the Andes Mountains, however they are now found only in Bolivia. This is because of extensive illegal hunting. In the wild the Chinchilla is very endangered. Domestic chinchillas are doing pretty well, however, with thousands of chinchilla breeders in the United States. The term “chinchilla” came from the Spaniards, who gave them their name based off of the South American Chinca Indians who lived there in the 1500′s.
Chinchilla Housing and Care
You will most likely want to keep your chinchilla inside your house, especially if it gets over 80 degrees Fahrenheit in your area. Chinchillas have extremely dense fur and have no sweat glands, so they can easily overheat. You will want to be careful on that. Provide a large, roomy cage with non-toxic bedding. Stress can be a problem for these little guys, so make sure to provide a hiding area for him to sleep in and feel comfortable in. Keeping more than one together is also a good idea, because in the wild chinchillas are very social.
Food is pretty simple. You can offer them commercialized chinchilla pellets, which contain just about all their needed nutrition. Give occasional treats, either commercial treats or fresh greens or fruits. Their teeth grow rapidly throughout their lifetime and they must chew regularly to keep them trim. For this reason you will also want to provide chew blocks to keep their teeth healthy. Dust baths 2 or 3 times a week are also a must. Rolling around in dust and then shaking themselves off is how they keep clean. Because of their extremely dense fur, getting wet is not ideal for them. If they get wet and stay wet, their fur can become a breeding ground for fungus and bacteria. Not healthy!
Chinchilla Health Conditions
As I mentioned earlier, I know from personal experience how fragile chinchillas can be! Not only are they extremely heat-sensitive, they also cannot be dropped or played with roughly. One of mine fell from the top of his cage and broke his leg. I took him to a veterinarian and they sedated him and fixed his leg. But, the whole experience stressed him out so much that he refused to eat or drink anymore and eventually passed away.
Other relatively common health problems are diarrhea, constipation, and runny eyes or respiratory problems. These can be caused by their diet or environmental conditions. Raisins are good to help clear up constipation. Also reduce the amount of greens you are giving if your chinchilla has diarrhea. If the symptoms don’t clear up on their own in a few days you will want to take your chinchilla to a vet to determine what’s going on.
Finding a chinchilla for a pet should be relatively easy. You can look up chinchilla ranches online or go to your local pet store. Pet stores will either carry them or can special order one for you. Finding a local chinchilla breeder might be more difficult, but you will have a lot more choice on what type and color of chinchilla you get!
Are you in the chinchilla pet business, or the chinchilla fur trade business? What are your thoughts?
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Holsteiner!
If you are a horse person and really enjoy showing and competing, the Holsteiner horse breed is definitely worth checking out. These are considered to be very athletic horses and are an excellent breed to use in Equestrian Olympics. Show jumping, hunting, combined driving, and dressage are all events in which the Holsteiner is competitive. Many people who are serious about athletic horse events vouch for this breed. On top of this, another great benefit is these guys are known to have a nice, gentle temperament. Usually they are easy going, quiet, and sometimes even a little lazy!
The Holsteiner, originally from Germany, is an older warmblood breed of horse. It is believed that they date back to the 13th century and a monastery was the driving force in developing this breed. In the Schleswig-Holstein area of Germany, there is a written record of the local Count of Holstein and Storman giving the Monastery permission to graze their horses on their land. These are believed to be the first Holsteiner horses.
To keep the breeding of these horses going and to ensure their quality, many incentives and laws were passed. Eventually the rest of Europe started importing this breed in large quantities. France especially, imported thousands of these horses in the 1770′s.
In the 1800′s the Holsteiner breed declined somewhat. This was due to the economy, wars, weather, and over-breeding. Up and downs continued and by 1960 there were only around 1300 Holsteiner horses left. At this time The Germany Verband Association took it into their hands to start breeding and bringing the breed back up in numbers. The American Holsteiner Association came into existence in 1978, and also began trying to accomplish the same goals. It is because of these efforts that this breed has definitely stayed strong.
Being powerful and carrying themselves well, Holsteiners are very elegant horses. In general they are graceful, muscular, and flexible. All great athletic qualities. Most people who are serious about these horses want them for competition reasons. Breeding them can be difficult because the only horses eligible to be bred have to adhere to a strict set of standards in order to ensure quality within the breed. These are large horses, usually between 16 and 17 hands tall, with two recognized types. The classic type Holsteiners are heavy and large boned while the modern type is not quite as heavy and has more refined features.
Competitive Holsteiner Activities
Jumping is the strongest trait Holsteiners possess. Many people use them exclusively in this sport. Flaws were decreased and eliminated by selectively breeding a few horses, and they are now known for Olympic-caliber jumping internationally. In fact, they make up a large number of successful show jumpers even though they only represent 6% of all horses in Europe. In addition to jumping, Holsteiners are known internationally for combined driving, dressage, and eventing. In North America they also hold their own as show hunters and hunt seat equitation horses.
Holsteiner Care and Health Conditions
Caring for a Holsteiner is not overly difficult. You can easily keep them in either a pasture or in a stall area with other horses. They can be fed hay, grain, and alfalfa as well as a mineral supplement. All other normal maintenance activities should be done as well, such as grooming, bathing, keeping their hooves cleaned and trimmed, etc.
In general, Holsteiners are strong horses and well-adapted to harsh conditions. However because they are used heavily in competitions, they are prone to problems. Becoming lame because of extreme tendon extensions is a problem they are more prone to. Using leg protection while jumping and boots or foot wraps for dressage work can go a long way in helping to prevent leg problems with these horses.
If you are serious about a Holsteiner, they can be found. Commonly bred in the state of California, that is a good place to start if you are located in the United States. They can also be found across Europe from various breeders. You can expect to pay at least $15,000 for a foal or yearling. But it is well worth it in the show business!
Holsteiners are no doubt a specialty horse. If you own one or have experience with one we would love to hear your stories! Please share!
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Sulcata Tortoise!
Has it always been your dream to have a gigantic tortoise? I’m guessing not! But just in case it is, the Sulcata Tortoise may be right up your alley! The pet store I worked at sold a couple of these guys, but it was usually only on special order. We didn’t normally keep them in the store on a regular basis. People who purchase these tortoises usually do so because they are very intrigued by their size as well as their many great pet qualities!
About the Sulcata Tortoise
I bet your first question is: Just how big do these guys get? Well, the males often reach 2 and a half feet in length and can weigh up to 150 pounds! Females come a little smaller than males, reaching a little under 2 feet in length and weighing up to 75 pounds. These are big tortoises! Without regard for its size, the Sulcata Tortoise has many attributes which make keeping it as a pet appealing. They are very tame, have good dispositions, are friendly, and don’t get sick easily.
The Sulcata Tortoise Geochelone sulcata, also called the African Spurred Tortoise, is the third largest tortoise in the world, coming in behind only the tortoises from the Galapagos and the Aldabras. The natural habitat of these huge tortoises consists of hot temperatures and dry scrubland areas where they can make deep burrows and have plenty of plants to eat. North-Central Africa is their native continent, just south of the Sahara Desert. There is cause to worry about them as they are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is rare to find one in the wild now, as well.
Caring For Your Sulcata Tortoise
Before acquiring a Sulcata Tortoise, you will want to be fully prepared. You can get one as a baby, but these guys grow fast! Make sure you have a large area or terrarium for them as they grow to their full size. If you keep them outside, you should also provide some sort of enclosure where they can go to get out of the elements. Provide them with heat lamps and different props and shelters to make them feel more comfortable and at home. These can be things such as logs, huge leaves and piles of straw. A good substrate is a sand and peat moss mixture (mostly sand). Because these tortoises come from a very dry part of the world, they do not tolerate humidity and dampness at all. DO NOT keep them outdoors if you live in a humid area. This can lead to all sorts of illnesses and conditions.
Feeding a Sulcata Tortoise can also be a chore! They can eat a lot, and they need a varied diet! Provide them with a whole mixture of different greens everyday, as well as such things as hay, dandelions, and grass. If you can get your hands on Opuntia cactus pads, these are also very good for them. This will provide them with a high fiber diet, which is crucial to their health. Sprinkle their food with a calcium powder a couple times a week as well. If you wish to give treats, only do so a couple times a month. Good, healthy treats could include apples or melons. Clean out uneaten food at the end of each day. Provide fresh water daily in a large flat dish.
Problems and Availability of the Sulcata Tortoise
The most common problems you will run into with this tortoise are respiratory illnesses. These almost always occurs due to improper keeping. If they are not kept in hot and dry environments they will inevitably become sick. Watch out for runny noses and eyes. Renal problems can also arise if they are not fed a high-fiber and nutritionally sound diet. So make sure they get their greens!
If you would like to acquire a Sulcata Tortoise, your best bet is a reptile store, online from reputable breeders, or a reptile show. The vast majority of specimens sold in the United States are captive-bred babies and are readily available when you look in the right place.
Isn’t the idea of keeping such a large tortoise fascinating? Do you have any stories of your own that you’d like to share? We would love to hear it!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Firemouth Cichlid!
Are you a cichlid person? Some people like these fish so much that all they keep are cichlids. They may even keep several “cichlid tanks” around their home! Given that cichlids are so diverse in color, size, and temperament, this is completely understandable. The Firemouth Cichlid, in particular, is a popular one. Many people like them because of their beautiful colors and how easy they are to keep.
The Firemouth Cichlid Thorichthys meeki, is a great beginner cichlid. It is one of the easiest cichlids to care for and anyone can start out keeping them. A big reason these guys are easy to keep is because they readily adapting to most environments. Their major draw is the bright red coloring, which occurs on their underside and up through their throat area. Other attributes of these attractive fish are being small (for cichlids) and having relatively fun personalities. They often do well in community aquariums as long as they are kept with other Firemouth Cichlids and fish of the same size and temperament as themselves. You only have to worry about them becoming more aggressive than usual during breeding times.
About the Firemouth Cichlid
Central America is the native country of these cichlids. More specifically, they inhabit the countries of Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. In the wild, the Firemouth Cichlid thrives in slow moving rivers and ponds. They usually stay closer to the bottom of the water where it is muddy and vegetation is easily accessible.
Feeding these cichlids is easy. They will eat almost any type of food offered to them! This includes, flakes, pellets, live foods, and fresh foods. Offering a variety of foods weekly is a good way to make sure they are receiving optimum nutrition. You will want to give them pellets or flakes every day and then add in some fresh cucumber and spinach as well. Live blood worms and brine shrimp are excellent treats but should be offered more sparingly.
Aquarium Care for the Firemouth Cichlid
Caring for the aquarium is no more difficult than for a typical tropical aquarium. As I mentioned earlier, Firemouth Cichlids are hardy fish and can adapt to wide range of aquarium conditions. However, regular maintenance is still needed to ensure their health! Most importantly, regular water changes are needed. About 20% of the water should be replaced every week. The gravel should also be siphoned out. These two cleaning activities get rid of decomposing organic matter and help limit the build-up of nitrates and phosphates.
A 30 gallon tank is the minimum recommended size for two Firemouth Cichlids. If you want a community cichlid tank though, you will need a much larger aquarium. A general rule is one inch of fish for every gallon of water. Equip the aquarium with a good filter and water movement. Cichlids appreciate plenty of rocks, plants and wood to hide amongst. Fine sand is a good substrate for the bottom because these fish love to burrow! They don’t need any special lighting requirements and the temperature can range from 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Diseases to Watch Out for With the Firemouth Cichlid
A common problem among tropical fish, including the Firemouth Cichlid, is ich. Many fish become infected with ich, usually when feeling stressed. The good thing is that ich can’t tolerate higher temperatures, but these cichlids can! So it can be easier to treat the Firemouth Cichlid for ich by simply increasing the aquarium temperature up to around 86 degrees for a few days. Other tropical fish diseases can also plague these cichlids. These include fungal infections, bacterial infections, and parasitic infections. If your cichlid has a disease check this Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments guide for a thorough description of most illnesses and their cures!
Do you keep a community cichlid tank? What is your favorite thing about keeping cichlids?
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Blue and Gold Macaw!
Ah, the “king” of large birds. I don’t know about you, but when I think of parrots, the Blue and Gold Macaw comes to mind first thing! This is one of the most popular large birds and stands out with its defining bold colors. If you are looking for an exceptionally intelligent parrot, I can guarantee that this macaw is a very good choice. My mother is a Certified Avian Specialist, and because of that I have had the privilege of working with and interacting with many of these birds. I have also had several family friends who have owned these macaws. They all seemed very attached to their owners and every single one was a great talker!
Blue and Gold Macaws are affectionate parrots and can fit in with an entire family or do just fine with only one owner. If well socialized they can also do well with other pets and other birds. They have great personalities and are very adaptable to most environments. You will find a great friend who loves to be with you and participate in any activity you wish him to. Blue and Gold Macaws are great talkers, learning up to 20 words or phrases. They also can learn to do a myriad of tricks and imitations.
About the Blue and Gold Macaw
When did the Blue and Gold Macaw Ara ararauna first become known? Well, their native habitat extends over much of Central and South America, which is a huge area. Diverse habitats including open grasslands, woodlands, and rainforests all act as homes to these birds. The people who lived in these areas for sure were aware of the existence of these large macaws, however they were first described in 1758 by Linnaeus. They primarily live high up in trees and live in pairs or groups. For meals these macaws will all fly together in the morning and at sunset to go feed on fruits, seeds, and vegetables.
Blue and Gold Macaws are so named because of their colors, which consist of primarily blue and gold or yellow! They are one of the largest macaws, with only the Green-winged Macaws and the Hyacinths being larger. However, there is a larger variation of the Blue and Gold called the Bolivian Blue and Gold (found in Bolivia), which can sometimes rival the size of the Hyacinths. In general though, these birds can weigh over 2 pounds as adults, with a length of up to 35 inches and a wingspan of 45 inches. If you want a life-long companion, these parrots are a good choice because they can live upwards of 60 years!
A Blue and Gold Macaw as a Pet
Determining whether you want a Blue and Gold should be a very well thought out decision. Not only do these birds live a long time, but they also require a lot of attention and plenty of room. This can be expensive and time-consuming. Make sure you have the room to provide a large cage, and you may want to even consider putting the cage in it’s own room – as Macaws can get pretty loud! A playpen outside the cage is desirable as well. Your macaw will need sturdy perches and food and water dishes which can withstand being chewed on. Most parrots will appreciate new toys regularly as well. You will want to let your macaw out for at least a couple hours every day.
Caring for your Blue and Gold Macaw
The best staple food for this macaw is a commercially prepared seed and nut mix. They also enjoy eating with people and many of the things you eat can also be offered to your parrot. Many macaws like protein and will eat chicken. Avoid avocados and chocolate, as these contain toxins for birds. Offer them fresh water every day and clean out their dishes daily.
Taking good care of a macaw is the best way to prevent problems. To keep your macaw healthy you will want to:
- Give them lots of attention.
- Let them out of their cage daily for exercise and play time.
- Offer varied supplemental foods in addition to their seed mix.
- Clean out their food and water dishes daily.
- Give baths daily (to prevent dry feathers and chewing).
- Keep their beak and nails trimmed.
- Clip their wings to prevent them accidentally flying off.
Acquiring Your Blue and Gold
Blue and Gold Macaws are one of the most readily available macaws as well as one of the least expensive. Many people get hand-fed babies at bird farms. You should also have no problem finding one at a local pet store or online, either. You may even consider adopting an older bird who has been abandoned or lost their previous owner.
Are you a fan of the large parrots? What species is your favorite and what do you like about them?
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many pet articles and animal write-ups.
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Abyssinian Guinea Pig!
Would you like a small pet but want something a little more out of the ordinary? An Abyssinian Guinea Pig may be just the small pet you are looking for! These guinea pigs have a very interesting patterning to their fur. They are also known as “Rosette” guinea pigs because they have 8-10 whirls in their fur, which are called rosettes. Popular as show guinea pigs, these are a big hit among many people. Many Abyssinian babies however, do not meet the standards to be shown and end up as pets. I owned three of these guinea pigs when I was growing up and I always thought they were the most beautiful. Other people think their fur just looks wild!
Guinea pigs in general can make great small pets. They are clean, friendly, hardy, and easy to care for. If you make sure to acquire a baby guinea pig, your child can bond with him/her early on and have a great companion growing up. Abyssinian Guinea Pigs make wonderful pets for children. In my experience, these guinea pigs are quite energetic and can be a bit more spunky than some other breeds. But this also makes their personalities that much more endearing. Some can learn to do a few tricks and are smart enough to open their own cages and escape!
Domesticated guinea pigs have been around for a very long time. Records indicate their being kept with humans since around 5000 BC, most likely to be eaten as a food source. Specific breeding most likely began around 1200 AD. Initially they were kept as pets only by the wealthy upper class, but eventually became a favored pet of everyone. Different variations of guinea pig breeds became popular and specific traits were bred for. When the American Cavy Breeders Association was founded, one of the very first breeds they recognized was the Abyssinian breed.
Showing guinea pigs is a specialized hobby enjoyed by many. Ideally, Abyssinian Guinea Pigs should have one rosette on each shoulder, one rosette on each hip, four rosettes across the back, and two rosettes on their hind rumps. This gives a total of ten rosettes. As I mentioned before, many Abyssinian guinea pigs don’t quite make the standards for showing and end up as pets only. Your Abyssinian pet may still be eligible to show though, as long as he/she has at least eight rosettes which are symmetrical. Abyssinian’s come in many different colors and most of these can be shown.
Caring for and maintaining a home for your guinea pig should be relatively simple. Provide a cage large enough that he/she can run around in comfortably. Change out the bedding and clean the cage at least weekly. A good commercial guinea pig food should be offered daily, along with some fresh vegetables (i.e. lettuce and carrots). Water bottles work great for providing water. It is a good idea to provide chew sticks to keep their teeth trimmed. Also keep in mind that guinea pigs do get bored and they do need exercise. For this reason try to schedule in time every day where you can take him/her out of the cage to roam around for a bit.
Abyssinian Guinea Pigs are hardy animals and rarely get sick if they are kept in clean environments and out of drafts. If you are concerned your guinea pig is sick, read about Guinea Pig Illnesses. They are readily available. It should not be difficult to find them at pet stores or online. Guinea pigs are very social critters, so you may want to consider purchasing two to ensure they don’t get lonely.
Have you ever shown one of these guinea pigs? What was your experience with it?
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Rottweiler!
Rottweilers often get a bad rap as being aggressive dogs. It is true they can be aggressive, but with the right socialization and training they can turn out to be good pets. I have known several Rottweilers or “Rotties” as they are often called. Once they got to know me, most of these dogs seemed quite friendly and loving towards me and I felt safe. All of them had fantastic owners who really spent time with them and helped shape them into great dogs!
A major appeal of the Rottweiler is its propensity for being a great guard dog. They become extremely loyal to their owners and will protect them at almost any cost. If they are well socialized with other pets while they are young, you can expect your Rottie to get along with just fine with them. Other characteristics they are known for are being calm and affectionate towards their family, including children. You can expect to have a wonderful addition to your family with a trained Rottweiler!
Rottweilers have a very long history stretching all the way back to the Roman Empire. They were first bred in Rottweil, Germany and are most likely descended from the Italian Mastiff. They were used first as herding dogs, and may very well be the oldest herding dog breed in the world. They were also used as war dogs and guard dogs and were highly valued during times of turmoil. But as the need for them subsided due to other technological advances, this breed diminished in quality and quantity, nearly becoming extinct. In the early 1900′s, while gearing up for World War I, there was a renewed interest in the breed as a need for police dogs came about. In 1931 the American Kennel Club recognized the Rottweiler as an official breed. Today the Rottweiler is a very popular dog, having more registrations than any other breed! Hybrids such as the Boxweiler and the English Mastweiler are also becoming more popular.
Rottweilers are impressive looking dogs and many consider them beautiful. They are heavy dogs with a muscular build and forefront muzzles. Their coats consist of short hair and are predominantly black with some brown markings. I have been asked in the past if there are all-black Rottweilers. Curiously, purebred Rottweilers cannot be all black! They will always have some brown on them. These dogs also reach a good size, with males weighing up to 130 pounds! Females are usually somewhat smaller than this, with a maximum weight of 115 pounds.
This breed of dog needs to be trained from an early age. From the beginning, you should let your dog know you are the boss. Once this is established, most Rottweilers are eager to please. They are obedient, very good at following commands, and fearless. In general they have a very good-natured temperament and are alert. When trained for a particular task, they can be relied upon to get the job done. Guarding and herding are their most notable strong points.
The reason this dog sometimes has a bad reputation is because of irresponsible owners. These dogs have the potential to be aggressive and have serious behavior problems if not trained and socialized. Their problems often stem from an owner not investing enough time to spend with them, or worst case scenario completely neglecting or abusing them. Rottweilers are also very strong dogs, which can increase the risk for problems in a neglected or untrained dog.
Basic Care of Rottweilers
Because Rottweilers have short hair, they don’t need much grooming other than just a quick brushing once a day or so. Regular vacuuming is a must for inside dogs, because they do shed and dog hair will accumulate! Rottweilers need a lot of exercise. Large yards which provide room to run and play in are ideal. Daily walks and/or swims are helpful too. They love to let their energy out, and regular activities also provide good opportunities to keep up on their socialization and training skills.
Puppies should be fed a good quality puppy food until they are close to 2 years old. After this, you should feed them a diet comprised of mostly protein (such as poultry and lamb) mixed with some wheat and dairy. Most good quality dog foods will provide the needed nutrients.
Vaccinations. Vaccinations are very important for dogs to keep them healthy. They should be given their first shot at 6-8 weeks of age. This shot is the DHLPPC or Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvo, and Corona virus shot. They should get their second shot at 10-12 weeks, their third shot at 14-16 weeks, and then annually from their on out. A rabies shot should also be given and 14-16 weeks and then annually as well.
If Rottweilers are given their vaccinations, they are a pretty hardy breed. They don’t have a lot of problems with disease or many physical problems. They can be prone to hip or joint dysplasia because they are a larger breed. It is also important to take note of a puppy’s genetic history before selecting one. Heart Disease and Von Willebrand’s Disease are hereditary problems that should be taken note of.
Availability of Rottweilers is widespread. They can be found in most areas of the United States from reputable breeders. $800 to $1000 is a price you can expect to pay for a puppy with a good genetic background.
Do you have experience with Rottweilers? What do you like or dislike about them? Are there any tips you would like to share?
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Emperor Scorpion!
Are you a spider lover? Are you fascinated by arachnids in general? If you want to keep a unique arthropod for a pet, the Emperor Scorpion might be just what you are looking for! I would say that keeping these types of pets is either a love it or hate it type of situation. People who love them often keep several different types and make a hard-core hobby out of it. People who are terrified of them often don’t even want to go in a house that they know has these critters in them!
The Emperor Scorpion Pandinus imperator is a great choice for people just being introduced to keeping arthropods. They can be quite tame and are easy to care for. Scorpions don’t make a lot of noise, have very little odor, and are resistant to illness and disease. Because of their calm nature they can usually be held without fear of being stung. If they do sting, it usually isn’t dangerous and only causes localized pain for a short period of time. For an arachnid, the Emperor Scorpion can live a fairly long lifespan of 8 years. This scorpion also goes by the names of the African Emperor Scorpion and the Black Emperor Scorpion. It is the best known scorpion in the world.
The natural habitat of this scorpion is in West Africa. They can be found in many of the African sovereign states, including the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Nigeria, the Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Togo, and several others. Most often they live in forests with a fair amount of moisture. In 1842 it was described by C.L. Koch. In 1876 it was put into its own genus by Tamerlan Thorell. Right now it is not considered to be endangered, however it is listed as threatened on the CITES II species list. This is mainly due to a decrease in the wild populations because of over collection.
Emperor Scorpions are quite impressive looking. Being all black and reaching up to 8 inches in length, they can appear formidable! This is probably why they have gained such appreciation and are used in movies as a scare tactic. But despite their appearance, they are not as scary as they first seem. They can be held, but this should be done carefully. If scared or stressed they may pince, which can be quite painful, especially from a large adult! It is often better to just look at and watch scorpions rather than make a habit out of holding them.
To properly prepare for a scorpion, you will want to acquire a terrarium. This can be anywhere from 2.5 to 15 gallons depending on how many scorpions you want to keep. Although most scorpions are solitary creatures, Emperor Scorpions can be kept in groups. You will want to make sure there are enough areas and hiding spaces so that each scorpion has a place it can call its own. In the wild they are burrowers and definitely appreciate deep, moist substrates such as peat moss, damp sand, and cypress mulch. Their environment should be kept humid to keep them in good health. A humidity level of 75 to 80% and a temperature of 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal.
Feeding Emperor Scorpions is easy and simple. As adults they primarily eat insects such as crickets and grasshoppers. Occasionally they might enjoy a mouse. Offer them live insects every day and a mouse a couple times a month. Make sure to remove any uneaten prey within a day. This is to keep them from decaying and attracting parasites or growing mold. Make sure to keep a large, shallow water dish in their terrarium as well.
Breeding these scorpions can be easy. If you keep their environment at a suitable temperature and humidity level, and they are healthy and feel comfortable, they will often breed on their own accord. After mating, the mother will gestate the young for about 7 months. The babies are born alive and immediately climb onto her back. The litters range anywhere from 15 to 40 young. The mother feeds them dead insects until they reach maturity, but the majority of them do not make it to maturity. If you want to succeed at breeding Emperor Scorpions, read more here on their Reproduction.
Emperor Scorpions rarely become ill if they are properly taken care of. One of the largest problems they run into is molting. Scorpions are covered by a hardened exoskeleton which they must shed every so often. Most scorpions molt 6 to 10 times in their lifetimes and these are by far the most dangerous times of their lives. Right before a molt, a scorpion often seems lazy and doesn’t move much. For a few days after a molt, a scorpion is especially vulnerable to injury until their new exoskeleton hardens. Molting takes quite a bit of energy. If it is very difficult, a scorpion may have deformed limbs or die.
If you are interested in an Emperor Scorpion, they are quite readily available. You should have no problems finding one. More information on scorpions can be read here on Keeping Arachnids and Other Arthropods as Pets.
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.