Monday, July 19, 2010

Koi Fish History

A Brief Journey in Time
The history of Koi fish is as mysterious as Koi are beautiful. Popular conviction would have us believe that Koi are indigenous to Japan. In fact, they are even mistakenly called "Japanese Goldfish." But Koi history goes back to South China as far as 20 million years ago.

Just for the Record
"What is the difference between goldfish and Koi?" Goldfish and Koi are both selections of carp, but from two different families. Goldfish are mutations from Crucian Carp (Carassius carassius) and Koi are from common carp (Cyprinus carpio).

So if they did not originally come from Japan, where does Koi fish history begin? The history of Koi fish is believed to originate from eastern Asia, in the Black, Caspian, Aral Seas and China. Carp fossils have been discovered in South China dating the history of Koi fish as far back as 20 million years ago.

The earliest written history of Koi fish, or Nishikigoi, (Japanese for "brocaded" carp) were first described in a Chinese book written during the Western Chin Dynasty, around 265-316 A.D. At that point in Koi fish history they were described as white, red, black and blue.

According to Chinese Koi history, Confucius' son, born in 533 B.C., was presented a fish by King Shoko of Ro. The fish were used as the main subject in Chinese artwork and carvings and some Chinese rulers kept carp in captivity for their viewing pleasure.

While there may have been natural mutations of carp which featured patches of color on them in China, the Japanese are generally recognized in Koi history as the creators of Nishikigoi (Living Jewels).

According to "Manual to Nishikigoi," a Koi history book by Dr. Takeo Kuroki, the word "Koi" was first used about 2,500 years ago in China. Koi are believed to have been introduced to Japan with the invading Chinese and according to Koi fish history the first account of them being kept by an emperor in Japan dates back to AD 200.

The Japanese were the first in Koi fish history to take the naturally occurring mutations and develop them further. Japanese rice farmers kept them as food fish but somewhere between the 1820s and 1830s, they began to breed some of the carp for aesthetic appeal.

As farmers developed different color types of Koi, interest spread throughout the prefecture (similar to a state in the United States) and then throughout Japan. National interest for Koi in Japan increased tremendously when Emperor Hirohito was presented Koi for the Imperial Palace moat in 1914.

Most people involved in the hobby consider the Niigata prefecture in Japan as the birthplace from which the Nishikigoi sprang. More specifically, areas in and around Ojiya City in Niigata are regarded in Koi history as the home of Nishikigoi.

Wild carp were called "Koi" in Japan, but the term was also used to describe colored carp. The name Nishikigoi was given to these "colored Koi carp" during World War-II. Today colored carp are simply called Koi and the term has evolved into the common name for them worldwide.

Many people in Japan recognize the term Nishikigoi but may not be familiar with the term Koi.

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Origin of Koi

So many inventions and customs originated in China that it’s not uncommon for me to learn one that I never knew about before. Sometimes, however, the claims get a little ridiculous.

My favorite is the claim that the Japanese are actually a lost tribe of Chinese from southern Zhejiang, and that the Japanese language has evolved out of the dialect of Wenzhou. I think the first part is simply a creative attempt to explain Japan’s financial success while holding onto Chinese pride. The second part is undoubtedly rooted in the fact that a lot of Chinese people think that Wenzhou’s dialect–a dialect reknowned for being totally unintelligible to speakers of virtually any other dialect in China–sounds like Japanese. The people that say it sounds like Japanese usually understand no actual Japanese. As someone that understands Japanese, I can assure you that Wenzhou-hua sounds nothing like Japanese.

Recently I ran into another possible example of a far-fetched claim related to Japan. The claim is that the practice of keeping koi (colorful carp) originated in China. I immediately found this suspect, but then figured it was probably largely because my time spent in Japan was my first significant contact with the tradition, and the word koi has been imported into the English language from Japanese (not Chinese) recently. Obviously, neither of these reasons are real evidence that the practice of raising koi really originated in Japan.

by John Pasden, his live in China

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Creating a Japanese Garden and Landscape

Designing a Japanese or Oriental-style garden means blending simple design elements with an aesthetic principle that seeks to replicate nature. While many Western gardens seek to tame nature by organizing it to fit in a prefigured design, Japanese gardens try to emulate what actually occurs in the natural world. The following article discusses how you can transform your setting into a Japanese-style garden complete with Japanese design elements, structures, and ornaments reflective of the Far East.

First, assess your garden or landscape space. Japanese gardens will work for large settings just as well as very small areas that perhaps constitute the size of an average garden shed. However, a small garden space means approaching the overall design with a minimalist view and choosing only a few simple and sparse objects. If your space is large than there are many avenues to consider, but a few main elements that occur in traditional Japanese gardens would include rock or stone features, water features, and Oriental plants. Optional elements might be decks, fencing, walls, bridges, statues, wildlife, etc…

There are many ways to incorporate stone and rock into your Japanese garden; while these may be aesthetic reflections, they may also be quite useful in the garden. Placing a rock in the middle of a garden pond may serve no other purpose than to reflect the idea of an island in the middle of the sea—a lovely touch for any Oriental garden. However, placing large flat river stones at a shallow spot in your pond could almost constitute a bridge if it allows visitors a passage from one section of garden to another. Of course, a true bridge made of stone to span any part of the garden is an excellent way to bring Japan to your landscape as the Japanese are quite famous for their stone and lacquered wood bridges.

Stone is used in many ways. It may even be needed to represent the role of water in nature. Consider a gravel stream for a border or a pool of stones around an ornamental cherry tree. Groupings of large stones might even be thought to represent the mountains of Japan. When water is not easily incorporated, stone makes a wonderful choice for a traditional Japanese garden. Stone may also be used for garden paths, basins, and even rustic benches placed throughout the garden where scenery may be best enjoyed.

Water is a basic component of a Japanese garden. From very plain stone basins to large ponds that are home to goldfish or koi, the role of water is important to bring a sense of natural balance to your garden. Waterfalls that tumble over stone or very simple fountains that trickle from a bamboo shaft—consider a water feature that is appropriate for your space but also one that you will be able to maintain. Garden ponds require significant maintenance, but they are truly beautiful in any setting when properly cared for and will doubtless become the focal point of any garden setting.

You will also want to consider any structures for your garden in the design stage. A garden pond will not only be enhanced by a bridge, but even simple decking that zigzags a side of the pond will greatly reflect the Japanese style. It will also allow you to keep some of your pond plants contained; many water garden plants are very invasive and require lots of maintenance, but if contained near your pond, you will still maintain the look you want with far less work. Other structures to consider may be pagoda like gazebos, small pavilions and stone towers.

Plantings will go far to suggest a Japanese style. From bonsai to water lilies, there are many plants that are great choices for any Oriental garden. Consider trees, shrubs and low-growing plants for a good balance. Rather than many trees, consider only one tree as a focal point, or strategically planted trees. Shrubs make great borders and provide a bit of height to the area when trees are few. Flowers and lush green plants certainly have their place in a Japanese garden; consider moss, chrysanthemum, azaleas, weeping forsythia, funkia, cape jasmine, plantain lily and many more depending on your own taste and garden climate.

Finally, consider other ornamental Japanese features that will also provide important functions. If privacy is an issue, incorporate bamboo fencing. Few other features will so predominantly reflect the Japanese aesthetic in the garden as bamboo. Japanese stone lanterns or lighting fixtures of an Oriental nature are also useful garden elements. There are many Japanese garden ornaments available online or from local garden centers. Items like stone containers and lacquered pots make fine choices. When choosing garden props, opt for simplicity and always remember that less is more in a Japanese garden.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

How to Care for Your Goldfish Aquarium

Keeping Goldfish can be a fun and rewarding hobby. As with any new hobby, especially one that involves living creatures, always consider the maintenance that will be involved. If you care for your aquarium properly, you will be sure to have happy and healthy Goldfish for many years. Goldfish have a life expectancy of five to ten years. If you do a good job maintaining their fish tank, you should have fun, beautiful fish for a long time. Make sure to feed them correctly and keep their water fresh and clear.

When starting any new aquarium, you should get everything in place before buying the fish. If you are going to put gravel on the bottom, you may want to put only a thin layer. This will make it easier to keep clean, as Goldfish tend to be messy. Make sure that you rinse the gravel thoroughly before placing it in the bottom of the tank. If you have some decorations, you should add them now. Make sure that you rinse them well before putting them into the tank. Also be sure that the goldfish have plenty of room to swim, as they as active fish. Give them a place or two to hide, and that should do nicely.

Now that you have everything in place, you can add in the water. You will need to use a dechlorinator, as the chlorine in tap water is poisonous to fish. Once the fish tank is filled up, you can turn on the filter. Change it as often as recommended to keep your fish healthy. Goldfish live at room temperature, so you will not need a heater. They are quite comfortable in temperatures from 68 to 80 degrees. However, they should not be exposed to rapid temperature changes. You might want to let the filter run in the new goldfish tank for a day or so to filter out any chemicals or dyes that might have been left on the gravel and decorations that you just added. Waiting to buy new fish can be one of the hardest things about fish keeping!

You need to add fish gradually. Fish excrete ammonia. If you add too many fish at once to a new fish tank, the water will not be seasoned enough to dissipate it. As the water in your Goldfish tank ages, it builds up beneficial bacteria that turn harmful chemicals excreted by the fish into harmless ones. However, this will take some time. Start out with only one fish. The nitrogen cycle will not begin until you add the fish, so running an empty tank for several days will not help. Since your fish tank is brand new, you might want to consider making partial water changes of about 25 per cent of the total water volume every few days for the first week or so.

You can find Goldfish food at almost any pet shop. Make sure to purchase some when you buy your first fish. Feed only a small amount. Especially at first. Any uneaten food will sink to the bottom and rot. Keep this to a minimum. Watch your fish the first few times that you feed them. Feed only as much as they will eat in two to three minutes twice a day, or as recommended on the Goldfish food label. Be especially careful not to overfeed when the Goldfish tank is new. This will cause excess build up of toxic chemicals and can kill your fish quickly.

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Most Siamese Fighting Fish Are Sick... Here's Why?

Bright unusual betta fish swimming around ornamental glass bowls have become a very fashionable choice of pet for the home. It can be argued that they rival even the humble goldfish in status. People's inquisitiveness for these strange fish doesn't stop with the family home, but you'll also find betta fish bowls on show in restaurants, company offices and also on tabletops at wedding receptions. Betta fish are truly a robust and adaptable fish that can accept water and tank conditions that the majority of other fish cannot. However, keeping fighting fish in little bowls or glass jars will not permit them to thrive, nor will they be content fish. Unless special attention is given to their surroundings and requirements, they will become stressed, resulting in bad health and regret for the owner.

So what special consideration should they be given? Before I answer that question let's understand a little about the background of the betta fish.

Bettas are native to tropical Asia where they thrive in shallow warm waters, regularly being found in muddy rice paddy ponds. Having a unique labyrinth organ found on the very top of their head allows them to stay alive in this oxygen starved environment. Their labyrinth organ permits them to extract oxygen from the air and they do this by merely raising their head to the surface of the water. That is why you'll often see betta fish hanging motionless at the water surface.

Although bettas are quite accomplished at living in little bowls or containers, they do prefer a larger oxygenated tank to live in. A tank range of between three to five gallons minimum is my advice. Fit it with a small filter… this will not only clean the tank of organic waste material, but also oxygenate your betta fish's water.

Smaller tanks, or betta fish bowls, need daily water maintenance, especially if the container has no filter! All fish produce waste, along with left behind food, this builds up in the tank and slowly rots. As a result of this rotting organic waste, nitrate and nitrite levels in the water will increase. Nitrite is particularly deadly to fish and if not extracted from the water, will result in your betta dying. Too many fish enthusiasts overlook nitrate because their betta bowl appears clear and clean. Don't be fooled by this, as nitrite is difficult to identify by plainly looking into your tank. By the time it becomes visually obvious it will often be too late for your betta fish. Betta fish keepers must test their betta's water weekly for nitrite levels and make daily water changes (changing up to a third of the bowls water volume). This monitoring and maintenance can be greatly lessened by having a larger tank with a filter.

When releasing your betta fish to its new fish tank or making water changes, it is very important that the water is free from chlorine and that it is cycled. In an idyllic water environment, wastes are broken down by bacteria into nitrates and nitrites and then additional beneficial bacteria will feed off these, keeping the water in equilibrium.

When adding new dechlorinated water to your tank, the new water will not contain established colonies of beneficial bacteria. This can result in rapid imbalances if fish are introduced too quickly. Water should be added and permitted to cycle in the aquarium for at least a week before releasing your betta fish. To hurry this process up you could introduce a cup of water full of useful bacteria from an existing aquarium or even outside pond to the new betta tank. These beneficial bacteria like to set up themselves in the filter and won't be prolific in tanks without one.

Now that you understand why bettas do best in larger filtered fish aquariums, let's turn our attention to temperature. Being a truly tropical fish, betta fish do require warm temperatures of about 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit. They can endure cooler temperatures, but bettas won't be content nor will they flourish. What betta fish won't tolerate though, is a fluctuating water temperature. Little betta bowls or jars, to a great extent, change in temperatures from day to night. These fluctuations will stress your fish resulting in sickness. Betta aquariums should have a heater with a thermostat installed to maintain the water temperature keeping it steady and warm. Placing your betta in sunlight to warm it up, or by using an external heater will not be adequate, and in fact could cause greater fluctuations in temperature.

Water pH is a less significant concern for betta fish hobbyists. Bettas will tolerate a wide pH range, so long as it remains stable and does not overly fluctuate. Like an erratic water temperature, a fluctuating pH will put stress on your betta.

Fish enthusiasts like to be able to view their beautiful betta fish and will sometimes, naively, leave their bowls or aquariums empty of plants or hiding spots. Betta fish, (just like us), like to be able to disappear from peering eyes at times. By having nowhere to hide, they will feel susceptible to predators and bright light, which will again put pressure on them.

When looking for decorations and plants for their tank, it is best to choose living plants as these assist with the cycling of the water. Sharp edged plastic plants and ornaments can catch on the betta fish's fins, ending up with tears and infection. Floating plants will filter light and offer a structure for when your betta fish wants to construct a bubble nest.

Lastly, betta fish are renowned for leaping, especially during the night. A cover for your betta fish's tank is very important if you want your betta fish to remaining his tank. A leaping fish in a lidless container will, without a doubt, end up dead!


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Taking Care Of Betta Fish

Saving a Betta fish from a cramped plastic cup at the pet store is a noble move, but only as long as you can provide a better environment for it. This isn't difficult, it's just a matter of getting a hold of the right information. Below I've compile a few starter tips for you and pointed you towards a professional guide that has saved my fish's life.

Temperature: Temperature is a subjective topic in the Betta care world, various "caring for betta fish" websites will give you different answers. Any temperature between 76 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit is suitable for every day life from a Betta's point of view, the main thing is to be consistent. Once your heater settles and can keep your tank water at one temperature in the acceptable range, try your best to keep it there, rapid temperature fluctuations can be harmful or even deadly to a Betta fish.

Tank Size and Feeding: These are both somewhat short answer items so I've combined them into one section. A Betta's tank size should be 5 to 10 gallons, larger is OK, smaller is not. Betta's do not live in little tiny ponds as rumored on various Betta forums on the internet. They live in vast expanses of wetlands (BIG puddles) and as such should not be confined to a little 1 gallon bowl.

As far as food goes, I highly recommend pellets for two reasons. They are well balanced and contains everything your Betta needs in it's diet, and also that they are roughly the same size as one another. What does this mean? It means that you will be able to more easily ration your Betta's food. Two pellets twice per day (two in the morning and two at night) is plenty!

For more information on how to get a truly thrivingPsychology Articles, healthy and long-living Betta fish check out Taking Care Of Betta Fish. The site is a great resource for finding guides and products that truly help give your Betta a better life and teach you how to take care of a Betta fish.


Neon Tetras in Your Tropical Fish Aquarium

Probably the most popular tropical aquarium Tetra is the Neon Tetra. Originally from freshwater streams in Brazil, Columbia and Peru, it's a peaceful, community fish and quite suitable for the beginner aquarist.

The Neon Tetra is a schooling fist and, as such, should always be kept with a community of 10 or so – they get lonely and sicken if alone. They prefer a somewhat dim environment so a few floating plants to filter the light is recommended as well as a dark substrate flooring. In addition, place plenty of plants on the bottom of the tank for hiding spots– but leave enough room for some “open” swimming. Be aware that during the night, - when your Neon Tetra is hiding and resting - it will “turn off” it's bright sparkling colors and it will look dull or dim. Light will gradually bring back their bright coloration.

The water temperature for Neon Tetras should be kept between 72F-78F degrees. Neon Tetras, in the wild are omnivores and eat a variety of foods including crustaceans, worms and small insects. They do love to eat, though, so be careful of over-feeding. Use a high quality flake food, with occasional supplements of daphnia, or brine shrimp for variety and they will do quite well. The pH balance of your tank should be from 5.5-7.5, which should be easy to maintain with such a nice span! Because their natural habitat has lots of rainfall, it is recommended that you replace your tank water frequently.

Neon Tetras, due to the wide range of waters in which they have been bred (whether in captivity or the wild), should be carefully acclimated into your tank to allow them plenty of time to adapt to their new home.

Neon Tetras are susceptible to – well – Neon Tetra disease. The official name is Pleistophora, which is the name of the sporozoan which causes the disease. There is no cure for the disease and the best way to avoid it is to prevent it from entering your tank in the first place. New fish should always be quarantined in a separate tank for a few days before being released into the main tank. The first sign of the disease are usually restlessness and a dull coloration. This is followed by cystsFree Web Content, which make the fishes body look lumpy. The Tetra will have trouble swimming and near the end the spine will become curved. By quarantining new fish you can help prevent the spread of this disease. Neon Tetra can also get Pleistophora from eating the bodies of dead fish – so be sure to remove any sick or dead fish as soon as possible.

Source: Free Articles

Keeping Discus Fish & Breeding Discus Fish

The last few years have seen more and more being written about keeping discus fish than most other fish species. Anyone who is thinking about keeping discus fish in their home aquarium should of course get all the information they need before actually buying any of them. They are thought of as royal fish, they are native to the warm and calm Amazon waters that charm through their behavior. Keeping discus fish does require a bit of knowledge on their background, about what to offer to make such pets happy and also what to expect from them. Discus fish are considered fish of changing habits that manifest personality.

When first keeping discus fish you will find that they are shy and very calm in general, but when they start making couples they can often become a little bit aggressive due to breeding territory protection. Keeping discus fish will bring lots of rewards but it will also give you a few challenges as well. First off, as you will see with most groups of any type of fish, within a group it is not uncommon that the weakest discus will get bullied; this is something that can unfortunately result in death. Keeping discus fish in groups in a minimum of six individuals is thought of as ideal. By doing this you will increase the confidence of the group members and you lower the risk of group misbehavior.

When you are keeping discus fish, you will have to respect their habits. For example mating are matters of their own personal choice do not try to force two together. Therefore if you do plan to breed your discus as said you cannot match make and expect them to breed, you will have to let them choose their own partner. When you are keeping discus fish that are about to go through the breeding process it is always best to separate them into a different tank specially prepared for the purpose. If you are keeping discus fish that are about to breed together with the rest of your aquatic pets, you will run the risk of having some violent behavior due to the territorial claims of the breeding pair. Discus fish prepare their area that they are going to use to have their babies by cleaning it first and defending it throughout the whole process.

You will find that discus feed their young by secreting food for them from in between their scales. After about a week the fry will be big enough for you to help with the feeding by giving some baby brine shrimp or even just some flaked food will do. When you are certain that the fry have stopped feeding from the parents it will be safe for you to remove them from the tank into their own. Use a separate tank for the fry feed them well to support the accelerated growth rate. If everything has been done correctly they should grow well and at around 12 weeks they should have grown to about the 2 inch diameter mark. At that size you will be able to start to sell your baby discus fish.


The guppy (Poecilia reticulata), also known as the millionfish, is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish species in the world. It is a small member of the Poecilidae family (females 4-6 centimetres long, males 2½–3½ centimetres long) and like all other members of the family, is live-bearing.

Robert John Lechmere Guppy discovered this tiny fish in Trinidad in 1866, and the fish was named Girardinus guppii in his honour by Albert C. L. G. Gunther later that year. However, the fish had previously been described in America. Although Girardinus guppii is now considered a junior synonym of Poecilia reticulata, the common name "guppy" still remains. (In Trinidad and Tobago, the common name is "crayfish".)Over time guppies have been given a variety of taxonomic names, although Poecilia reticulata is the name currently considered to be valid.

Guppies are native to Trinidad and parts of South America, specifically Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Brazil, Guyana, Netherlands Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago, the US Virgin Islands, Venezuela.
However, guppies have been introduced to many different countries on all continents, except Antarctica. Sometimes this has occurred accidentally, but most often as a means of mosquito control, the hope being that the guppies would eat the mosquito larvae slowing down the spread of malaria. In many cases, these guppies have had a negative impact on native fish faunas.

Ecology and behavior
Guppies exhibit sexual dimorphism. While wild-type females are grey in body colour, males have splashes, spots, or stripes that can be yellow, orange, blue, red, black, or even purple.
Guppies are often bred for their natural colour, so over the years the domestic guppy has grown weaker. As a result, guppies will sometimes die after 2-3 days. A guppy may not survive a sudden increase or drop in temperature.
There is a great deal of variety between the populations, many with distinctive coloring or patterning. Those that live in habitats where predators are common tend to be less vividly decorated as a protective measure. Populations that deal with fewer predators are much more colorful. Recent studies suggest that vividly colored males are favored via sexual selection (handicap principle) while natural selection via predation favors subdued tones. As a result, the dominant phenotypes observed within a reproductively isolated community are a function of the relative importance each factor has in a particular environment.
Occasionally male guppies may behave aggressively towards each other, engaging in fin-nipping and other bullying behaviour. Guppies live in complex social networks, choosing social partners and remembering them.
Guppies are a seminal species for evolutionary biologists because predation often varies over small geographic areas. Both historical work and recent studies are summarised in Anne Magurran's Evolutionary Ecology: the Trinidadian Guppy.


A baby Guppy in an aquarium at 1 week old
Guppies are highly prolific livebearers. The gestation period of a guppy is 21-30 days, with an average of 28 days. After the female guppy is inseminated, a dark area near the anus, known as the gravid spot, will enlarge and darken. Guppies prefer water temperatures of about 27 °C (82 °F) for reproduction. The female guppy has drops of between 2-100 fry, typically ranging between 30 and 60. From the moment of birth, each fry is fully capable of swimming, eating, and avoiding danger. After giving birth, the female is ready for conception again within only a few hours. In fact, guppies have the ability to store sperm, so the females can give birth many times, after only once breeding with a male.
Young fry take roughly one or two months to reach maturity. In the aquarium, they are usually fed ground flake foods, baby brine shrimp or unless they are put in a separate tank, the babies will eat uneaten food from the adults. In addition, they nibble on algae.
The guppy has been successfully hybridised with various species of molly (poecilia latipinna/velifera), eg male guppy and female molly. However, the hybrids are always males and appear to be infertile. The guppy has also been hybridised with the Endler's livebearer (poecilia wingei) to produce fertile offspring. The adult guppies sometimes eat their fries; some breeders use a breeder cage to prevent this.

In the aquarium

Guppy standards
The guppy prefers a hard water aquarium and can withstand levels of salinity up to 150% that of normal sea water, which has led to them being occasionally included in marine tropical community tanks, as well as in freshwater tropical tanks. Guppies are generally peaceful, though nipping behaviour is sometimes exhibited between male guppies or towards other top swimmers like platys and Swordtails and occasionally other fish with prominent fins such as angelfish. Its most famous characteristic is its propensity for breeding, and it can breed in both fresh water and marine aquariums.
Guppy breeding by Aquarists produces variations in appearance ranging from color consistency to fantails and "spike" Swordtails. Selective breeding has created an avid "fancy guppy" collector group, while the "wild" guppy maintains its popularity as one of the hardiest aquarium fish, as well as a good fish to feed to predator fish as a natural food source.
Experienced Aquarists breeding their own guppies are aware that the adults will eat their young and, therefore, provide safe zones for the fry. Specially designed Livebearer birthing tanks, which can be suspended inside the aquarium, are available from aquatic retailers. These serve the dual purpose of shielding the pregnant female from further attention from the males, and of providing a separate area for the newborn young as protection from being eaten by their mother. However, if a female is put in the breeder box too early or too late it will cause her to have a miscarriage

source : wikipedia


The ranchu is a hooded variety of fancy goldfish developed in Japan. It is referred to as the "king of goldfish" by the Japanese.

Origins and evolution
The modern-day ranchu is a Japanese development of the lionhead. They are the direct outcome of crossbreeding experiments of different Chinese lionhead specimens.

Description and standards
The ranchu is a highly regarded fancy goldfish in Japan. Compared to lionheads, ranchus have a more downturned tail and tail fin. Although similar to lionheads, ranchus have more-arched backs and have much shorter tails that are tucked-in at a sharp angle.
A ranchu has an egg-shaped body with a deep belly that is between 5/8 to 3/4 the length of the fish. This goldfish does not have a dorsal fin and breeding standards require that the back should not have any vestiges of the dorsal fin on it. The back should be rounded and not flat, as in the case of lionheads. The area of the caudal peduncle should curve sharply downwards to meet the tail. The caudal peduncle itself should be broad and neither lengthy or too short (a properly formed caudal peduncle avoids swimming motion impairments to this type of goldfish). The ranchu's tail meets the caudal peduncle at a forty-five degree angle, giving the fish a unique swimming motion. Furthermore, the tail lobes are rounded, and all other finnage are paired.

A chocolate-colored ranchu.
The most prominent feature of the ranchu is its head. There must be sufficient space between the eyes, and also from the eyes to the front of the head. The gill cover should figuratively extend quite far towards the tail. The headgrowth should seem to begin from the bottom of the gill cover and move upward. The headgrowths of young ranchu fry may take at least a year to develop.Young ranchus possessing broad foreheads and square noses generally produce better headgrowths. Mature ranchus can reach between 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) in length.
Ranchus may come in orange, red, white, red-and-white, blue, black, black-and-white, black-and-red, natural, and chocolate coloration. Scalation may either be metallic, nacreous (calico) or matte. Ranchus with a pale-yellow bodies and bright red heads are rare.
Ranchus are well-adapted to water quality and pH fluctuations.

Classification, deportment and conformation
Japanese, Thai, American and British ranchu breeders, as well as many prestigious goldfish-keeping societies, all adhere to two strict viewing classifications of the ranchu, namely: the top-view ranchu comportment and the side-view selection criteria. But Japanese aesthetic standards for ranchus are more exacting. Ranchus are interestingly compared to sumo wrestlers, who are large, fat and out-of-shape men (from a Westerner's point of view), with funny hairdos. Similarly, the ranchu seemed to be a big, fat and "out-of-shape" fish with funny headgrowth or "bramble-heads". However, traditional Japanese culture, aesthetics and concepts regard these attributes of both ranchu and sumo wrestler as an imposing and solid figure composed of massive circles and squares, which are abstract representations of balance, proportion, dignity, graceful movement and power.

Top-view ranchu (TVR)
The Japanese are firm believers that the best view of the ranchu is from the top. The ideal ranchu is described (when seen from above, not from the side) as similar to the koban, an elongated and oval-shaped (almost rectangular but with rounded corners) old Japanese coin.

Side-view ranchu (SVR)
A ranchu's back (seen from the side) is compared to a traditional Japanese comb, which comes in two shapes. The first comb-shape (the nagate or long style) is long with rounded corners and is similar to the koban coin. While the second comb-shape (the marute or the round style) is shorter, round and is similar to a round coin viewed from the side, but still not as round as any modern-day circular coins such as the penny or dime of the United States. Both comb shapes are acceptable in ranchu exhibitions and competitions.

Selection and judging
Most goldfish shows and competitions judge ranchus in an aquarium setting, and judges view the fish from the side and the top, taking note of the fish's comportment and conformation to physical standards, motion and movements. The attachment of the tail to the caudal peduncle are also meticulously evaluated.

Fresh Water Aquariums Should Be In Every Home

There are many benefits from having a freshwater aquarium. Not just the 'having' but also the process of setting one up, choosing and buying your fish, maintaining it, looking after your pet fish and trying to keep them healthy. To support my statement above, in this article I give you 17 benefits you will get from owning the best fresh water aquarium.

1. Your beautiful fresh water aquarium will be the center of attention in your room and a talking point with all your visitors. Stand out from the crowd and be an aquarist.
2. Keep your brain active and continue to develop it as you increase your knowledge through learning all about your new pets.
3. Use your newly found fish breeding knowledge as valuable 'birds and bees' lessons during your children's upbringing.
4.Treat the sense of responsibility element involved in looking after your fish as another lesson in life for your children.
5. The pleasure you will get from selecting your fish and looking after them will be an extremely powerful emotion.
6. People who spend time watching and looking after fish in a fresh water aquarium usually have better health than couch potatoes.
7. You will have better blood pressure, better eating habits, better sleeping, more relaxed and a better feeling about your life.
8. You can place your freshwater aquarium in many interesting places; in a table, a wall, a wall partition, a bar or it can be a living picture.
9. Enjoy the friendships you will make as you join aquarist groups to pass on or gain knowledge from fellow members.
10. All the equipment and accessories you need to set up and maintain your aquarium are readily available at reasonable prices from internet retailers and local pet stores.
11. You can go on vacation and relax knowing that your aquarium can be set up with automatic feeders for your pet fish.
12. Lack of choice is no excuse as you have a wide range of aquarium sizes and capacities to choose from to suit your domestic situation.
13. It should not take up all your time to keep your aquarium running smoothly and your pet fish looking healthy.
14. You don't need to be an expert aquarist to maintain your fish and equipment in good condition for several years.
15. There are plenty of excellent freshwater aquarium guides available along with online forums to answer your queries.
16. Owning a beautiful freshwater planted aquarium with beautiful fish is within the financial ability of practically everybody.
17. Having a freshwater aquarium is not difficult as you might think, though it does require more maintenance than some people first think. I bet you did not realize you could get some of the benefits mentioned above.

by : Paul Curran.