Fish -- Living Oriental Gems
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Young male paradise just starting to get his colors. Females have rounded tails -- no extensions.
Female paradise fish have rounded tails -- no extensions. Color not that much either.
An Old Favorite Returns. Way back in the old days (even before MTV), fish collectors shipped their valuable aquatic cargo back home in milk cans--great big, heavy metal containers with resealable lids.
And we say shipped because everything from the Orient traveled by the proverbial slow boat from China. Only the very toughest fishes could survive this ordeal. In the early days of our hobby, aquarists saw few other fishes than the goldfish and the paradise fish.
They Breathe Air. Often lumped with the gouramis, paradise differ quite a bit. Like their cousins, the gouramis and Siamese fighting fishes, paradise fish breathe atmospheric air with the aid of a special breathing organ in their heads -- a many chambered accessory respiratory organ known as a labyrinth -- that enables them to survive in stagnant water with very low levels of oxygen.
Adapted to Bad Water. Most of the anabantids live in very warm water. The warmer the water, the less oxygen it holds. Their water usually contains lots of rotting vegetation which further reduces the oxygen level. Their labyrinth enables them to thrive in water that would kill most other fishes.
Even Smelly Water. Anabantids thrive in skuzzy water that attracts mosquitoes -- such as old buckets half full of rainwater and leaves. If youve ever collected mosquito larvae for fish food, you know how bad their water smells due to the decaying vegetation in it.
Mosquitoes Live in the Same Water. Mosquito larvae eat the bacteria that live in what we would call stagnant water. Anabantids gorge themselves on mosquito larvae -- a live food that most aquarium fishes devour with equal relish.
Raise Your Own Fish Food. Some hobbyists raise mosquito larvae in nasty, smelly buckets in their backyard. Be careful. Once your neighbors find out that your fish food is eating them, they may stop inviting you over for Johnsonville Brats.
Feed Your Paradise Fishes for Color
Feed a Varied Diet. Feed two or more different types of staple flakes. To bring out their best colors, supplement this basic diet with spirulina-based foods and color foods. The relatively new betta foods work great.
Frozen Treats: Paradise fish love frozen bloodworms, shrimps, and plankton. They also like nearly any foods designed for saltwater fish.
Live Treats: Paradise fish gorge on those tasty live brine shrimp and live blackworms. Their favorite food is mosquito larvae. They love small earthworms and house flies -- even dead ones (whacked, not sprayed). They also like mealworms once they find out whats inside the shell. Tear a few in half until they figure out how they taste.
Go Light on Treats. Consider live and frozen food treats as desserts -- not as a total diet. They taste great but lack certain essential nutrients.
They Endure Small Bowls. Labyrinth fishes can also survive and actually thrive in very tiny containers. For instance, when you see large quantities of Siamese fighting fishes, most are housed in small containers to keep them from removing each others fins. Paradise fish will fit in those same tiny bowls -- even better because they need no heater.
Desk-Top Aquarium Tip. A male paradise makes a perfect resident for one of those hard-to-keep so-called desk-top aquariums. Paradise fish are one of the few fishes tough enough to survive one of those little death traps. (Please note that you never find desk-top aquariums for sale in aquarium stores.)
Planting Tip: If you keep your paradise fish in a bowl with no lights, we recommend adding a Java lance fern plant. These attractive water ferns require very minimal light. In fact they do poorly in strong light. They not only look good, they also eat up the fish wastes -- both ammonium and carbon dioxide. This means less maintenance for you.
Paradise Fish Like to Fight. Gouramis and paradise fish like to spar among themselves, but not to the same extent as the Siamese fighting fishes. In a regular aquarium, the less aggressive tank mates soon learn to avoid the larger bullies. Females mind their own business. Males always dominate. If you keep a single male in a decorative vase, exercise him daily with a mirror -- just like male bettas.
They Need NO Heater. Think of a male paradise fish as a Siamese fighting fish that can live in cool water. If the temperature drops to 60o, even for long periods of time, no problem. Hell slow down, but hell survive and thrive. Use a heater only if you plan to breed them.
Choose from Several Colors. Like the betta, the paradise fish comes in more than one color. Reds, blues, and albinos are the colors of the standard paradise fish, Macropodus opercularis. The males sport the biggest fins. Mix them only with rowdy fishes. Theyre one of the few fishes that can catch and eat danios.
Sometimes See Blacks. Occasionally you see the more expensive black paradise,
David Gillespie, December 15, 2009
Hi, I too have noticed the problem someone just mentioned with your web pages displaying wrong. Half the page is off the screen, the only way to see it is to zoom out, then it is really small. It is only certain pages (paradise fish is one) and only when using Google Chrome browser. Explorer and Firefox work fine, so it's not a problem for me.
Speaking of the paradise fish page, you call the Black Paradise "Macropodus cupanus". I believe it should be M. concolor. Cupanus is the spike-tail paradise. Keep up the good work.
A: In any event, I have no idea how to correct the look of different browsers. Thanks for the black paradise correction. I've added it to my paradise page. LA
Comb-tail Paradise/Comb-tail Gourami. If you get a chance to buy one of the comb-tailed paradise, dont do it. Hell kill all your other fishes.
Comment. Paradise fishes originally came from China, Formosa (I guess they call it Taiwan these days), Korea, and Viet Nam. Perhaps their Oriental origin explains their name. If you havent kept and bred a paradise fish yet, perhaps its time to try one of these living Oriental jewels.
Some Spawning Tips
Condition Your Females. Feed your females up to five times a day. Use a good quality flake food for its nutritional value. Then give her live and/or frozen foods for dessert. Males like plump, egg-filled females.
Males Build a Bubble-Nest. Males interested in spawning build a nest made of bubbles. Cover their tank and turn down the filter if you want him to build a nest. Add floating watersprite or cut a Styrofoam cup in half to use as a cover for his nest.
They Breed Like Bettas. Raise their temperature gradually to 80 to trigger spawning. The male displays to the female to coax her under the nest. Then he wraps around her and appears to squeeze out the eggs. He scoops up the eggs and puts them in his nest. They repeat the process until he decides to beat her up. Take her out.
Hatchers. Eggs hatch in 24-48 hours. They live off their
yolk sacs until they begin swimming. Start the fry on green water, infusoria or
newly-hatched brine shrimp. Get him out of there before he starts
Mostly Males. These days we see very few female paradise fish. The males sport brighter colors and much longer decorative fins (just like bettas). LA.
Charlie S, May 9, 2006
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