6 Tips for Picking Your First Aquarium Fish

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The right aquarium fish can make all the difference. Here’s 6 great tips to help you choose the best beginner fish as you embark on your aquarium keeping adventure!

Choosing your first aquarium fish may seem like a daunting task for a beginner. However, with a little research, you will be able to know what fish will prove to be hardy, undemanding, and well-suited to beginners. Perhaps the pet store may have recommended guppies, neons, or catfish, but many beginners have found it difficult to raise them, considering that they are still learning the ropes of aquarium fish care.

These six important tips will help you pick your first aquarium fish. Taking care of these fish species will certainly be a rewarding undertaking that will fuel your love for the hobby.

1. Choose fish which can easily adapt to new surroundings

A good first species should be one that is hardy, active, confident, and disease resistant. Select fish that appear healthy. Avoid fish that manifest visible signs of disease such as white spots, discolored skin patches, frayed fins, etc. Make sure that the fish can withstand water fluctuation since a new tank often has fluctuations in water quality that can stress your fish.

Aside from water conditions, your new fish should be able to adapt well to the presence of aquarium decorations and to the company of other fish species in the tank. Large or active fish can thrive well alone in a tank with little aquarium decor. However, there are fish species that find being alone distressing. Even with excellent water quality, you may find your pet hiding, not feeding, and may become vulnerable to illness.

2. Avoid fish with known specific feeding habits

Pick a fish species that can be fed a simple flake food for the first 6-8 weeks. Fish with specific feeding habits may result in excess amounts of waste products leading to high ammonia and nitrites in the water. The accumulation of these compounds is hazardous to your fish population.

3. Select fish from the same community

Selecting fish species from the same community will help ensure that you achieve balance in your aquarium. If you choose to get several varieties, make sure that they will get along well. Be sure to select the hardiest species. Fish that belong to the same community will have similar water chemistry and temperature requirements while exhibiting like behavior.

4. Start with peaceful community fish species

Aggressive tropical fish species may need to be fed live feeder-fish and this can certainly add up on your list of responsibilities. It is important to know which aggressive fish species can be matched, or else your peaceful community fish species may end up being eaten by its more aggressive tank mates. Aggressive fish species also need more tank space. Some of the tropical fish species that can thrive well in a community tank include tetras, gouramis, and platys.

5. Don’t buy too many at once

It is important that you stock your aquarium slowly. Being a neophyte, you run the risk of losing large numbers of fish to disease or bad water quality. Putting in many fish at the onset may overload the new tank water and lead to a build up of ammonia. The size and type of your tank and aquarium filter will help determine the amount and frequency of introducing new fish species to your tank. As a rule of thumb, no more than six small fish species should be added every seven days.

6. Buy from reputable breeders and pet shops

Before buying fish from a breeder or pet shop, it is recommended to visit the establishment and observe how they take care of the fish. You can see for yourself if the fish has a healthy appetite or is suffering from any health problems or defects. Never buy fish from aquarium shops that are not particular about maintaining hygiene and sanitation in their tanks. Pet shops that allow dead fish floating inside the tank or fail to quarantine sick fish should never be patronized.

Peter Hartono is the founder and CEO of Just Aquatic – a proud Australian company that provides excellent online aquarium supplies for betta fish tanks, goldfish tanks and also aquatic plant care products carrying top of the line brands including API, biOrb and Exo Terra.

Striped Rafael Catfish, nicest “thorny” catfish pokes in on Animal-World

April 2, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Freshwater fish

Spotted Rafael Catfish, Agamyxis pectinifrons

The Striped Rafael Catfish will be quite prickly if touched, but it is a darn nice fellow with a very pleasant attitude!

Despite its thorny protection, the Striped Rafael Catfish is a peaceful, friendly companion towards its tank mates. That is at least towards the one that are big enough that they don’t look like food! This fellow is moderately sized and very pretty too. It’s about 6″ in length with bold black and white striping running horizontally along its body.

Curiously, in the wild the youngsters can act as cleaner fish. They will clean ferocious piscivores (fish that eat other fish!) like the Wolf Fish Hoplias cf. malabaricus. These deadly predators allow them to remove parasites and dead scales from their skin. Cleaner fish are usually striped, so it may be that their patterning triggers recognition, allowing the juveniles to get to away with snacking on the predator, rather than it snacking on them!

If you’re a beginner looking for your first catfish, this pleasant fellow could be just the ticket. It’s hardy and will eat just about anything that lands on the bottom of your tank. It may rest most of the day due to its nocturnal nature, but then at night it will emerge to become a great natural vacuum as it snacks on tasty morsels on the substrate. Yet despite its nocturnal tendencies, this fish also has a very curious nature. Once its comfortable in its home, it may very well come out of hiding during the day just to scout around!

Provide it with a comfortable home and it can live 20 years or more. A decor of driftwood and rocks that offer caves where it can rest, and a bit of plant cover to help subdue the light, and you will have a happy catfish for a very long time.

Learn more about the nicest “thorny” catfish. Pictures and information for the Striped Rafael Catfish Platydoras armatulus, also known as the Humbug Catfish, along with habitat and aquarium care!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Aquarium Fish Get Mean, Meet the Bad Guys

Red-bellied Piranha, Pygocentrus nattereriRed-bellied Piranha. Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy Jonas Hansel

Bad guys come in all shapes and sizes. Sometime even fish that are considered great community members can get mean!

There are several aquarium fish species which are known to exhibit aggressive behavior. One of the important causes of aggressive behavior inside the tank is attributed to their being territorial, thus you may find some fish species that chase away or nip at others as a means of protecting their space inside the tank.

Yet fish aggressiveness is also attributed to competition for food and difference in size. Sometimes fish will fight when a dominant one feels that its status is being threatened by another fish. Aggression can also be a warning sign; sick fish can become aggressive while other fish tend to bully sick fish. In some instances, a recognized peaceful fish can become aggressive, thus it is common to have one mean fish in the bunch.

The most common manifestations of aggression inside the tank include tail beating, fin-nipping, pushing water at the enemy, mouth-locked wresting, chasing, biting, and even killing.

When choosing to keep a community aquarium, you should know which species can live harmoniously together. Most species of aggressive fish are more suitable for a single species aquarium.

Some of the aggressive fish groups include the following:

Tiger Barb – The Tiger Barb is considered a good community fish however it is prone to nipping fins, thus they should not be kept with long-finned fish species such as angelfish. Tiger barbs can become aggressive if there is overcrowding inside the tank.

Large Tetras – Tetras are considered community dwellers however there may be an aggressive one in the group. When adding new fish, be sure to observe the temperament and whether the new addition is compatible with the rest of the inhabitants of the tank.

Cichlids – Many varieties of cichlids are aggressive and are best kept in one-species tank. Many cichlids can grow to very large sizes. These include the Green Terror, Jewel Cichlid, and Red or Tiger Oscar. African Cichlids are known to be highly predatory and extremely territorial. While not all Cichlids are very aggressive, the largest is usually the dominant one, behaving aggressively towards all the other tank inhabitants.

Giant Danio – The Giant Danio’s long and narrow body can crowd out other fish in the tank. It is also very active and likes to school.

Red Belly Piranha – Piranhas are notoriously predatory. They are known to eat live food. In fact, they will bite fingers when aggravated or hungry.

Large Gouramis – Kissing Gouramis are recognized for being mean and energetic. Gouramis are also considered fin nippers.

Large Rainbow Fish – Although Rainbow fish can live well with other species in a community tank, they can grow large and their fast speed makes it easier for them to prey on smaller inhabitants of the tank.

Wolf Fish – The freshwater wolf fish is a well-known aggressive predator. Also called “Piranha eater”, they have voracious appetites for feeder fish. Any fish that looks like prey can be disemboweled by the wolf fish. Although they don’t really mess with other fish, they are territorial and will nip other inhabitants of the tank.

Peter Hartono is the founder and CEO of Just Aquatic – a proud Australian company that provides excellent online aquarium supplies for betta fish tanks, goldfish tanks and also aquatic plant care products carrying top of the line brands including API, biOrb and Exo Terra.

20 Interesting Facts About Elephants

See more interesting animalsIndian elephant bull in Bandipur National Park, India. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Yathin S Krishnappa

“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great things” …John Donne

Elephants! When these giant creatures roam in the wilds, they create a sensation that entrances the one who observes this marvelous scene. These mighty mammals are the largest land animals. They are members of the Elephantidae family of the Proboscidae order. There are basically two recognized species of elephants: The Asian Elephants and African Elephants.

These giant creatures have various unique features that make them distinctive from other wild beings.

A few of the unique features of elephants are:

  1. Usually female elephants live in herds. The veteran female elephant leads this herd, however, and the male elephants are generally solitary and shift from herd to herd. Each member in the female herd helps each other to find food and care for their young ones. These creatures do not lie down to sleep as their straight legs provide them an adequate amount of support. They can converse with their herd from far away by using sounds that are extremely low, too low for the human ear to recognize.
  2. Elephants can converse with each other by creating sounds known as "tummy rumbles."
  3. Elephants in general walk about 4 mph.
  4. Elephants know how to swim for lengthy distances.
  5. Elephants spend almost sixteen hours a day eating food.
  6. Elephants have the biggest brains of all the members of animal kingdom.
  7. A Fully-grown Indian Elephant can reach a height of more than 8 feet.
  8. Adult Indian elephants are about 10,000 plus pounds in weight.
  9. In general, one tusk of an elephant is shorter than the other. This happens because the elephant uses one of its tusks more often for things. It’s the same as for people, being either right or left-handers, the Elephants will also rely upon the tusk they use more frequently.
  10. Elephants are able to give birth every three to four years. The period of gestation is nearly two years.
  11. The Babies weigh around 250 pounds when they are born.
  12. The elephant herd makes a circle around a mother elephant when a baby elephant is born. They generate this circle to guard her from harm. A number of the elephants nudge the baby elephant to support as it’s standing up after birth.
  13. It is fairly amazing to know that the elephants can catch one anothers trumpeting sounds up to 8 kilometers (5 miles) away.
  14. Elephants can become suntanned; therefore they shield themselves with sand.
  15. Elephants get frightened of bees.
  16. This mammoth creature is the lone mammal, other than the Homo sapiens, to have a chin.
  17. 17. It is quite clear by their structure that elephants eat a lot. Moreover, they also drink nearly 50 gallons of water every day. These giants can go for around four days without water. It is remarkably fascinating to know that they can dig wells with the help of their tusks if needed.
  18. The trunk of an elephant can certainly be a lethal weapon. The trunk can pick up something weighing around 450 pounds, perhaps more. Remarkably, the trunk has nearly 150,000 muscles.
  19. These giants have no natural predators. However, lions at times will prey on weak or young elephants in the wild. The foremost threat to elephants is from human beings through poaching and alterations to their haunt.
  20. The potential for an elephant to travel a long distance makes them extremely handy in terms of jungle safari. They can walk for miles on their physically powerful feet. For this reason, elephants are extensively used for jungle safaris in India, especially in the national parks. An Elephant safari in a national park is a great way to experience the spellbinding traits of this giant creature.

These giant creatures have many startling, and often concealed, facts about them. A single sight of this mammoth creature is enough to spellbind all!

Contributing author Jessica Frei is a wildlife admirer and nature lover. She loves to explore the wildlife of different countries. She has visited many popular national parks

Spotted Rafael Catfish, talking spotted spectacle on Animal-World

March 27, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Freshwater fish

Spotted Rafael Catfish, Agamyxis pectinifrons

Not only is the Spotted Rafael a looker, but this catfish can talk!

The Spotted Rafael Catfish is a hardy fellow with a striking pattern of white spots on black. This spotted white-on-black design makes it very attractive and desirable. The spotting is quite variable with big spots, little spots, and even a few spots fusing into bars, and no two catfish will look exactly the same!

Looks and durability are some great things about this fish, but now let’s examine some of its other awesome attributes.

First off, this looker can also talk, and is often referred to as the Spotted Talking Catfish. It rubs its pectoral fins (the ones sticking out to the sides) by rotating them in the shoulder sockets which then produces “Clicks”, “groans”, or “squeaks!” Aquarist usually hear it vocalizing when they are removing it from its tank.

Which leads to its next cool attribute, it is a Thorny Catfish with built in armor. Its protective coverings start with heavy armor over its face and neck. Then it has rigid spines in its top and side fins that it holds out in an erect fashion to ward off any threats, or when disturbed. It also has a series of tiny spines along the sides,running the length of its body. No fish in its right mind is going to mess with this armored “thorny” dude!

Another great attribute is its daily routine of helping to keep the aquarium clean. It is nocturnal, so during the day it likes to rest, but at night it becomes a great natural aquarium vacuum. It will spend its evening and nighttime hours busily scavenging tasty treats from the bottom of the tank.

But the last and BEST attribute… it is a peaceful fish. It likes companions and enjoys hanging out with similar types of catfish. It’s moderate in size, at about 6 Inches, but it gets along great with most other moderately sized or larger fish, even with more aggressive fellows. I guess if you have all that built in armor, you just don’t have to be a jerk!

An aquarium with lots of natural decor and a variety of community fish will create a very attractive showpiece. Give it ample space with at least 35 gallons of water (though more is better), and you will be rewarded with a wonderful companion fish for up to about 10 years!

Learn more about this cool spotted “talking” catfish. Pictures and information for the Spotted Rafael CatfishAgamyxis pectinifrons, along with habitat and aquarium care!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Horse Lovers, people with a passion for life

March 26, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Horses

Horse people honor and celebrate just about everything, but with a wonderful horseman’s twist!

Horsemen and women are passionate about anything horse. Websites, facebook pages, and blogs dedicated to horse lovers are filled with pictures and quotes that embrace the finest qualities we each strive for.

Strength and courage, passion, love, hard work and endurance spread across the pages. But the simple everyday riches of life are also embraced like smiles, spring, horse shedding season, and even the fact that it’s a Friday! Quickly I find myself being drawn in, and loving it!

I was so fortunate to be raised in a family where horses were a big part of our activities. My father, raised on a ranch in Eastern Montana, felt horsemanship was a fundamental part of life. Trail riding, cattle herding, and rodeos were all part of our fare.

The short summer seasons were filled with exploring on horseback, heading out with a packed lunch, and swimming gear incase we chanced upon a stream or pond. During the long winter season, the horses were kept at a highland ranch, where moving cattle between pastures was an ongoing affair. With 10 children, local ranchers loved to have us show up at branding time. All those extra hands helped the work go smoothly and quickly. Then the arrival of springtime had my brothers trying their hands at bronco busting in local rodeos. All these wonderful parts of a young, blossoming horse person set the stage for my life as a passionate horse lover.

Light Horse - AndalusianLight Horse – Andalusian.
Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Tanja Mikkelsen

Owning a Horse… the ultimate passion

Horses are still used for ranching and other types of work, but the joy of riding and keeping them as companions is what stirs the hearts of even more people today. Each horse breed has its unique abilities and charm, and there’s a horse for every type of person.

Getting the right horse depends on what you imagine doing with it. There are many types of horses, each with their individual breed characteristics. They come in a variety of colors and vary greatly in height and size, as well as temperament. Be patient and take the time to determine what you want, because owning a horse is not only a fabulous experience, but a big responsibility.

Horses are commonly divided into three groups; Light Horses, Draft or Heavy Horses, and Ponies.

Draft Horse - Gypsy Vanner named BonanzaDraft Horse – Gypsy Vanner named Bonanza.
Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Maria Wahlberg of Sweden
  • Light Horse Breeds – The majority of the riding horses are found in the light breeds. All Light Horses originally descended from the Arabian type. They have great strength and stamina, and depending on the breed, can be used in a variety of show disciplines, with some specialized as racing breeds.
  • Heavy Horse Breeds – The heavier types, commonly known as Draft Horses were developed from the bulkier equines found in the northern hemisphere. They generally have a quiet calm temperament, but they are big and strong.
  • Pony Breeds – Ponies on the other hand, are small. The Pony Breeds are durable horses that evolved smaller in stature, but strong and hardy, because they came from areas where there was often inferior nutrition and harsh environments. They are very durable and usually require less care than the other two groups, but they are also more independent.
Pony Breed - Shetland PonyPony Breed – Shetland Pony.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy ken taylor

Horse paraphenalia… extending the passion

Whether you own a horse or not, once you become a horse lover you’ll find yourself drawn to anything that has to do with horses. I find myself perking up with interest when watching movies or television, whenever a horse comes onto the scene. The super bowl halftime is a favorite, just to see those beautiful Clydesdales in the Budweiser commercials. A recent episode of the fantasy drama “Da Vinci’s Demons” even includes an Andalusian, the beautiful Pure Spanish Horse.

The Internet is great for finding all sorts of tack, equipment, and riding gear. But it is also a great place to find all sorts of cool horse related accessories, knickknacks, and collectables.

I collect Painted Ponies from the popular “Trail of Painted Ponies” project. Rod Barkser, a writer who makes his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, started the project. He was actually prompted to begin the Trail of Painted Ponies project because of a public art exhibition entitled “Cow Parade” that he came across while passing through Chicago during a research trip. He was charmed by these artistically transformed cows, and took it to a new level. He was inspired by the ponies of Santa Fe, and today many artists submit designs for competition, and the results are wonderful pieces of collectable art!

There are too many different types of collectibles to even begin to outline them here. But if you are a horse lover and collector of horse related art, accessories, and collectables, you can check out the horse section of a website called The Collectionary.

The Horses Collectionary is a growing library of horse collectibles and nostalgic items that are fun to peruse, and you can join and share your collections as well.

Happy horse loving, enjoy your passion!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Ocellated Synodontis, Large-spot Catfish making a splash on Animal-World

March 25, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Freshwater fish

Ocellated Synodontis, Synodontis ocellifer

Ocellated Synodontis, an upside-down catfish with very large spots!

The Ocellated Synodontis is not a clown, but it does have a very spotted coat!

Sometimes those spots can be very large, and in size it’s not too small either. Most seen in an aquarium will be less than 10 inches, but if you see this dude in the wild, it could be a whopping 20 inches in length!

A good-sized aquarium with lots of natural decor and a variety of community fish will create a very attractive showpiece. But even better than that, this is a great environment for housing a very cool large-spotted Synodontis catfish. Rocks, driftwood, and twisted roots all work great to make places of refuge, and wood is especially appreciated for it to will rasp on. And because it’s nocturnal, plants floating on the surface help keep the light subdued during the daytime.

This fish spends its evening and nighttime hours peacefully scavenging delicious morsels from the bottom of the tank, and its days resting in a cozy hiding place. It pretty much gets along with almost any other tankmate, even semi to aggressive cichlids. It does get pretty big though, so beware of keeping it with very small fish. When these little fellows fall to sleep near the bottom of the tank at night, they could easily become scrumptious snacks!

In the wild it schools with its own kind while young, but then becomes a solitary fellow as it matures. Consequently, adults can be somewhat aggressive towards other Synodontis catfish species, especially if the tank is too small and without enough hiding places for all.

This easy keeper is not fussy about food, and with its non-intrusive demeanor, it makes a great community fish for both beginners and advanced aquarists. It can live for up to 20 years, so as long as its watery home is at least 50 gallons in size and is well kept, you can have this interesting and attractive fellow for a good long time!

Learn more about this “Large-spot” catfish. Pictures and information for the Ocellated Synodontis Synodontis ocellifer, along with habitat and aquarium care!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Insects and bugs are on the menu, hungry?

March 18, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News

Insects are also good foods for reptiles and amphibiansInsects to eat at a market stand in Thailand. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy An-d

Is it time to revisit the Paleo Diet, and go beyond to a diet of insects, bugs, and arthropods?

The idea of snacking on bugs reminds me of Pumbaa in the Lion King movie, smacking his lips and contentedly saying, “Slimy… yet satisfying!” Bugs are small compact packages of food packed with nutrition. But are they scrumptious? That depends on where you live and how you were raised.

Imagine sitting down to the dinner table where the usual fare is accompanied with a selection of succulent dishes concocted with bugs. That may make you a little squeamish if you didn’t grow up with it. People in Western cultures tend to be abhorred by the idea of eating anything that crawls around with six, eight, or more, legs. Yet there are many cultures where the consumption of bugs is commonplace.

Bugs are eaten in 80% of the world’s nations. It’s estimated that between 1,400 to 2,000 species of bugs are eaten in more than 100 countries. These include butterflies and moths, beetles, ants, bees and wasps, grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, termites, cicadas, dragonflies, and more. Even before hunting or farming became prevalent methods of food production, insects and other creepers are believed to have been an integral part of the human diet.

Bugs and the Paleolithic Diet

The latest diet craze, the Paleolithic Diet, takes it cues from the Stone Age. The recently popular best seller by Dr. Loren Cordain, The Paleo Diet, reflects this age as the idea behind this diet. Basically, if our early ancestors couldn’t have eaten something, than we shouldn’t be eating it today.

Cordain and other Paleo Diet advocates and researchers emphasize early man as skilled, aggressive hunters, feeding the tribes on meat. Paleo Diet advocates make an excellent point. Hunting and gathering were not only a primary part of our evolution, but are still vital practices throughout the world today.

According to Daniella Martin, in her article The benefits of eating bugs, Meet the new Paleo diet, “Cordain suggests that prior to the agricultural revolution, early humans ate this Paleo Diet for 2.5 million years.” And he further points out that farming, popular for only the last 10,000 years, is just a “drop in the chronological bucket when compared with the millennia leading up to it. He further says that “the hunter-gatherer diet our ancestors lived on is far more deeply and indelibly imprinted into our DNA than our habits of the last few thousand years.”

Yet Martin’s article is very insightful on another front, that of bugs! She suggests that in the long evolution of man, there are piles of evidence indicating that early man may very well have gotten a significant portion of their diet from insects and other creepy crawlers.

She describes how early hunters could score a big game kill on average only about 20% of the time. If this had been their only food source, they would have starven. To feed the tribe in between kills their regular fare would have to include lots of food items they could gather and forage. She says these would include tubers and greens along with small animals, the bulk of which would be insects and other invertebrates.

Skewered locusts, Beijing, ChinaSkewered locusts to eat in Donghuamen, Beijing, China. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy istolethetv

Bugs, nutritious and delicious

The practice of humans eating bugs for food is called Entomophagy. Animals that eat insects are known as insectivores.

An Entomophaga diet primarily consists of insects, those six-legged creepy crawlers with two antenae, but it also includes certain arthropods. Arthropods are not insects but are still creepers. These include arachnids like spiders, tarantulas and scorpions, and myriapods like centipedes. Crustaceans like crabs, lobsters and shrimp are also arthropods, but they are not included in the definition of Entomophagy. Animals that eat insects are known as insectivores.

The nice thing about eating bugs, from a nutritional standpoint, is they have so many of the things that the human body needs. They contain protein, iron, calcium, the healthy unsaturated essential fatty acids (EFAs), and other nutrients.

Martin says they are a much higher quality food compared to things like leaves, fruits, flowers, and nuts. Plant sources do contain many of these same nutrients, but in a much smaller concentration. She indicates the difference is because “insects are a two food source — they themselves have eaten, and thereby concentrated in their own tissues, the nutrients found in plant sources.” For people, this higher concentration means less work for the same nutritional benefits.

Deep fried giant waterbugs, ThailandDeep fried giant waterbugs (Lethocerus indicus) are often seen at local markets in Thailand. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Takoradee

Bugs, on the market

There are some food bugs available in the US, but these are mostly found in specialty restaurants or as novelty snack items. Some of these delectable items are:

  • Chocolate covered insects: These edible, farm-raised insects include scorpions, superworms, silkworms, bees, ants, and crickets.
  • Crickets: Farm raised crickets can be found flavored with salt & vinegar, bacon & cheese, and sour cream & onion.
  • Larvets Worm Snacks: These edible, farm-raised larva are flavored in cheddar cheese, BBQ, bacon & cheese, and Mexican Spice.
  • Casu marzu: More commonly known as maggot cheese, this is a cheese laced with maggots.
  • Insect Lollipops: Transparent candy lollipops that have scorpions (the harmless California scorpions), mealworms, or crickets encased inside a delicious candy coating.
Emperor Caterpillars (Imbrasia ertli)Diverse Emperor Caterpillars (Imbrasia ertli) known as Mbinzo. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Francis Hannaway

Insects and other bugs are a delicacy, and often a staple in many countries throughout the world. Here are some good food bugs, starting with mealworms and crickets which pet keepers in the US are very familiar with, and ending with some familiar arthropods:

  • Mealworms: (Netherlands) Mealworms are the larvae of the mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor. These are good sources of protein, copper, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium, and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Crickets: (Taiwan) Crickets are one of the most common food items in this country. (NE Thailand) Crickets laden with eggs are considered a tasty snack in this country.
  • Ants: (Malawi) Candied ants are a favorite in Malawi. (Thailand) They consume Weaver ant eggs in this country.
  • Flies: (Malawi) They use flies to make fly pancakes!
  • Fried spiders, CambodiaFried spiders for sale at the market in Skuon, Cambodia. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Mat Connolley
  • Grasshoppers: (So. Mexico) In Southern Mexico grasshoppers of the genus Sphenarium, called chapulines, are widely consumed.
  • Locust: (Thailand) Locusts feed primarily on the leaves of rice plants, they became a staple when they experienced a major locust problem in this country.
  • Termites: (South America, Africa, parts of Indonesia) Consuming termites is commonplace. They are rich in iron, calcium, essential fatty and amino acids, and high in protein, most with about 38%, but a species found in Venezuelan, Syntermes aculeosus, contains as much as 64%.
  • Cockroaches: (Thailand) They eat many types of insects in this country!
  • Giant Water Beetles: (Thailand)
  • Stink Bugs: (Asia, South America, Africa). These insects are rich in nutrients including protein, iron, potassium and phosphorus.
  • Skewered scorpions, Beijing, ChinaSkewered scorpions to eat, in Donghuamen, Beijing, China. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy istolethetv
  • African Palm Weevil: (Africa) This insect is fatty along with potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorous, several amino acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Mopane Caterpillars: (So. Africa) Mopane caterpillars are the larval stage of the Emperor Moth Imbrasia belina.
  • Maguey Worms: (Malawi) (Mexico) Maguey Worms are the larvae of a giant butterfly, the Tequila Giant Skipper Aegiale hesperiaris.
  • Witchetty Grubs: (Australia) This is a staple in the diet of the aboriginal people.
  • Tarantulas: (Cambodia) These are favored delicacies here!
  • Spiders: (France) Some spider species are dipped in chocolate and fried as treats. (Africa) Spiders are regularly mixed into all the meals.
  • Scorpions: (Singapore, Beijing) These are a common food, usually fried and then skewered.

Bugs, solving the world’s food crisis

In a world pushing a population of 8 billion, and expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 according to the United Nations (UN), food resources are becoming stretched. Insects and other creepers are highly nutritious, readily available, and have a very efficient reproductive capacity. A growing number of experts claim that people will soon have no choice but to consume insects.

In his article, Why Insects Should Be in Your Diet, biochemist and entomologist Dr. Aaron T. Dossey says insects “hold great promise for thwarting an impending global food crisis” and he believes that they “can realistically become an important part of our future.”

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

The 5 Best Dogs When Raising Children

March 13, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Pet Dogs

Golden Retrievers and other best dog breeds

So, you’re looking for a dog, a new best friend. But you’re not looking for just any dog, because you also have kids in your home.

In seeking a dog for a family pet, you’re in luck. Generally speaking, most breeds will get along well with older children as long as they’ve had the right training. However, there are some breeds, which not only tolerate children, but also thrive in a family atmosphere.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Toy Dog BreedCavalier King Charles Spaniel – Toy Dog Breed. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Pleple2000

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Height: 12″-13″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: 9-15 years

  • Pros: If you want a dog that will cuddle with you while watching a movie or stay close on a cold night, keep reading. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels love to cuddle. Their small size allows them to fit perfectly in your lap, which so happens to be one of their favorite places to be.

    The Cavalier is also one of the best dogs because it’s extremely friendly, and its tail is almost constantly in motion. It will sulk if spoken to harshly or left alone for long periods of time. It just wants to please you and love you 24/7. The Cavalier also loves to play, especially chasing games.

  • Cons: Because of its long, silky coat, the Cavalier needs daily brushing.

    Its natural energy also means that it needs to be kept on a leash while being walked, or else it will chase anything that moves.

    Also, the Cavalier cannot be left at home while you go to work. It does best when someone is home for at least most of the day to keep it company.

Bulldog

English Bulldog, a Non-sporting Dog BreedEnglish Bulldog, a Non-sporting Dog Breed. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy brykmantra

Height: 12-14″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: 8-12 years

  • Pros: Bulldogs, commonly referred to as the English Bulldogs, are a non-sporting dog breed. They are one of the most patient, sturdy breeds out there. If you’re worried that your toddler will annoy the dog, have no fear. Bulldogs are more likely to get up and walk away than bite once they’ve had enough.

    In fact, Bulldogs are so patient that they can be downright lazy. After a little bit of play, they are content to curl up next to you on the couch and snooze.

  • Cons: Due to their flat features and compact bodies, Bulldogs are prone to respiratory and joint problems. Climates that are excessively hot, humid, or cold are not compatible with these dogs. And you can bet that you will be able to hear your dog snoring while he sleeps.

    Bulldogs are voracious eaters, and can easily become overweight without preventative action. Food intake must be carefully monitored, which means keeping the kibble and groceries out of reach. Regular walks also help this dog stay in shape.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever, a Sporting Dog BreedGolden Retriever, a Sporting Dog Breed. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Scott Beckner

Height: 21″-24″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: lives 10-12 years

  • Pros: Golden Retrievers are loyal, patient dogs with playful puppy attitudes that can last for years past physical maturity. They love kids and all the chaos that comes with them.

    If you enjoy going for a daily run, a Golden Retriever would make a great running partner. They need 40-60 minutes of hard daily exercise to keep them sane. Since these intelligent dogs were originally bred as a working breed, they thrive when they have a “job” like retrieving the paper or waking up family members.

  • Cons: Because of their playful nature and large size, Golden Retrievers can get a little boisterous and knock down small children. Their need to be where the action is can also become a little annoying when you find yourself trying not to trip over your friendly pooch.

    Golden Retrievers need to be brushed daily. While this keeps their skin and coat in good condition, it is also essential for keeping hair off your couches and clothes. These dogs shed profusely, so daily grooming and a good vacuum are a must.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever, a Sporting Dog BreedLabrador Retriever, a Sporting Dog Breed. Photo Wiki Commons

Height: 21″-24″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: 10-12 years

  • Pros: Labradors love children. They love all the chaos associated with them, and being very social dogs, the more people around, the better!

    Aside from being great family dogs, Labradors can function as hunting dogs or therapy dogs. They are also very intelligent and loyal to the point of absolute devotion.

    Like Golden Retrievers, Labradors are also one of the best dogs, making excellent companions for active families. They need 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily to stay sane, otherwise they may release their excess energy with barking, chewing, and other vices, which makes for excellent motivation if you’re looking to get into shape.

  • Cons: Although Labradors tend to be very active, their love of food can lead to obesity if preventive measures are not taken. Regular meals, few treats, and no table scraps can help keep the dog fit. It is also important to keep the garbage and other food sources out of reach, as Labradors have a reputation for doing anything for a snack.

    Labradors also shed profusely, requiring regular grooming and a quality vacuum to keep yourself and your home clean.

Collie

Rough Collie, a Herding Dog BreedRough Collie, a Herding Dog Breed. Photo Public Domain Pictures, Courtesy Karen Arnold

Height: 22″-26″ tall at shoulder
Lifespan: 10-14 years

  • Pros: If you’ve never had a dog before, the dependable Collie is a good bet. Gentle, predictable, and extremely intelligent, these dogs are easily trained.

    Collies are very compatible with other pets, and have been known to be very gentle around even small animals like rabbits and chicks. This same gentle nature translates into the way they treat children.

    However, since Collies were originally bred as herding dogs, they may try to “herd” your children. This is a habit that can be entertaining at best and annoying at worst. Don’t worry, Collies are only protective, not aggressive.

    As a working breed, Collies need daily exercise. This makes them ideal companions for an individual who likes to stay fit.

  • Cons: Rough Collies are known for their long, often fluffy, fur. This fur needs regular brushing in order to avoid becoming matted, dirty, and unattractive. Smooth Collies have shorter fur, basically a smooth coat, so less maintenance is needed.

    While Collies are usually a fairly quiet breed, their high energy levels make them prone to barking if they get bored. Regular exercise and plenty of time spent with the family helps curb this tendency.

Articles referenced: “10 Dogs for Kids”, “The Ten Best Family Dog Breeds”

Victoria Ramos studied business and now blogs about developments in the field, as well as her other interests. She loves dogs, socializing, hosting parties, and writing.

5 Must-Have Things To Keep Your Pet Bird Comfortable and Healthy

March 11, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Pet Birds

Animal-World's Bird Care - How to Take Care of a Pet Bird

Birds can be amazing pets!

Birds are very low maintenance. When keeping them as pets they take up little room, they are great at socializing, they are easily trained, and best of all… a pet bird can be beautiful to look at!

A happy bird will make a happy owner.

If you’re thinking about getting a bird there are a few easy ways to ensure they remain comfortable and healthy.

Here are the 5 must-haves that every pet bird needs:

See Bird cages at Real Smart

1 – A Nice Big and Airy Cage

Remember that birds are wild animals. They are used to the freedom of flying around and hunting for food. If you are going to enclose them make sure you invest in a good cage, which is the appropriate size for your bird.

Put the cage in an area out of direct sunlight but where your pet bird can see action, nature, and other living things. Although they are great socializers and will thrive on human contact, high traffic areas may be stressful for them, so keep them out of the traffic corridor.

2 – Plenty of Toys

It’s very important that your bird is entertained. Remember, they have nowhere to go so need to be stimulated throughout the day, especially when you’re not there to talk to them. If they get too bored they can develop behavioral problems such as screaming, plucking their feathers, and biting. Essential toys a bird should have are:

  • Foraging Toys: These allow your bird to work for their food like they would in the wild.
  • Chewing Toys: Chewing is a major part of a wild bird’s life and it is essential they can do this while caged.
  • Preening Toys: Preening toys such as rope will satisfy your bird’s needs and stop them plucking their own feathers.

3 – Exercise Equipment

Birds are animals that exercise a lot in the wild so exercise equipment inside their cage will keep them happy and entertained throughout the day. Swinging perches and ladders will not only instigate movement, they are very important for foot and muscle health. Perches that look like natural branches are the best choices, but be sure to get the correct thickness for your bird. Ladders and net climbing obstacles will be great for your pet birds play time and discovery. Also check on the latest innovation that could help your pet. It shouldn’t hurt to try new exercise thingies especially if they look promising.

4 – A Cozy Retreat

Make sure there is a nice place to go so that your bird can find solitude as they would in the wild. This is easily achieved with a bit of fabric on one corner. At nighttime, it’s always a good idea to cover the cage entirely to convey comfort and sleep time. You can also add a small birdhouse inside so the pet can go there anytime it feels like it.

5 – House Keeping

A clean bird cage is essential for your bird’s health and happiness. It’s an easy job to do and made even easier with pre cut cage liners. Changed daily, you will avoid unpleasant smells and bacteria on your cage floor. There are also non-toxic sprays which dissolve droppings, and remove stains and marks from your cage. A good example of this is Poop-Off. Also learn how frequently cleaning should be. The cage doesn’t have to be squeaky clean, because hay and some newspaper trimmings inside can create a nice forest-like atmosphere. But it will be helpful if wastes are removed from time to time.

Melianie Cho of Real Smart, works with pet care and has been working in a pet store for several years, where she advises customers on the best products for their pets. She is also a regular contributor in pet forums and blogs.

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