AC Tropical Fish

 

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AC Tropical Fish

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ac tropical fish http www.aquaticcommunity.com presents william berg s tropical fish a beginners guide copyright © 2005 william berg ac tropical fish all materials contained in this e-book are the property of william berg ac tropical fish aquaticcommunity.com the following rules apply to reproduce modify distribute or republish materials contained in this book aquarium organizations we welcome aquarium organisations to republish printed versions of this e-book if they wish to distribute it to their members we do however ask that you send a copy to ac tropical fish and if possible post a link to ac tropical fish http www.aquaticcommunity.com on the organizations web site contact admin@aquaticcommunity.com for the address to which to send the copy of the print aquarium organisations may not modify the content alter or remove any trademark copyright or other notice from copies of content without or written permission if aquarium organisations wish to give their members a digital copy of the e-book it must be offered via a link to ac tropical fish main page or to the download page where each member can download their own copy fish stores fish stores pet stores and other commercial entities may produce printed copies of this e-book or section thereof as a free service to their customers you are not allowed to charge the customers for reprints you may not modify the content alter or remove any trademark copyright or other notice from copies of content websites and internet use you may not reproduce any part of this e-book on your website or otherwise online without our permission if you want to share this e-book with other aquarists please send them a link to the download page from where they can download their own copy of the e-book you are also very welcome to post a link to ac tropical fish http www.aquaticcommunity.com on your homepage blog or in aquarium forums you may not reproduce modify distribute or republish materials contained in this book without our written permission in other situations than those mentioned above please contact admin@aquaticcommunity.com if you would like permission to use the e-book or parts thereof in another way than those described above pictures the pictures used on the front page of this book are public domain or released under the gnu free documentation license version 1.2.

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tropical fish a beginner s guide tropical fish a beginner s guide is made available for free download by ac tropical fish aquaticcommunity.com by offering this comprehensive guide to successful fish keeping for beginners we hope to increase the number of happy successful aquarists ­ and healthy fish all aquarists are welcomed to download their own free version of tropical fish a beginner s guide from our website and we would like to ask you to help us to spread the word about this guide to all prospective beginner aquarists out there we are planning for this e-book to be the first in a series of free e-books written to help aquarists give their fish a good home and allow them to get the most out of their hobby the work on a second book in the series about betta fish siamese fighting fish has already begun the future of the series is however partly dependent on the success of the first two books since their will be little meaning for us to devoted the considerable time required to write and edit an e-book like this if no one are interested in reading it we would therefore like to ask for your help to spread the word of this e-book by linking to it from your blog or homepage and by telling your aquarist friends on forums and your offline friends about the ebook and the fact that it can be downloaded from ac tropical fish aquaticcommunity.com you can find codes that you can use to link to our site and thereby supporting our work below you are of course welcome to use any other code to link to us as well html code suitable for blogs and homepages including livejournal blogspot msn spaces myspace the facebook and yahoo 360 xanga

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chapter 1 7 how to set up an aquarium 7 choosing a spot for your aquarium 8 choosing an aquarium 9 acrylic or glass aquarium 9 putting the aquarium in place 10 choosing equipment 10 lighting 10 heating 11 filtration 11 mechanical filtration 11 chemical filtration 12 biological filtration 12 other types of filtration 12 air pumps 13 decorations 13 plants 15 water test kit 16 setting up the aquarium 17 water chemistry 19 conditioning water 21 cycling 22 adding fish 23 stress in your aquarium 26 water problems and their solutions 27 tropical fish aquarium problems 28 vacation care for your fish 29 safety 30 chapter 2 ­ plants 33 choosing plants for your aquarium 33 factors that affect plant growth 35 water 35 lighting 36 substrate 36 nutrients 37 filtration 38 suitable plants for beginners 38 caring for plants 39 propagating plants 41 algae 42 chapter 3 fish 44 choosing fish 44 biotopes 45 the root biotope of south america 46 the asian lowland still water biotope 46 the community aquarium 46 courtesy of aquaticcommunity.com 4

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chapter 4 aquarium maintenance 50 daily routine 50 checking the fish 50 checking the water 51 checking the filter 51 feeding the fish 52 weekly routine 52 monthly routine 54 the old aquarium syndrome 54 filtration 55 chapter 5 food 58 feeding fish 58 flavor and taste 59 sound 59 smell 59 color and buoyancy of food 59 understanding feeding and digestion in fish 59 protein 61 fatty acids 61 fat-soluble carotenoid 61 carbohydrates 61 vitamins and minerals 61 types of food 62 live foods 63 cultivation of some common live food 64 feeding fry 65 feeding habits 66 chapter 6 breeding fish 69 spawning methods 69 egg scatterers 69 egg depositors 69 mouth brooders 70 nest builders 70 livebearers 70 equipment management while breeding fish 71 choosing the parents 72 conditioning the parents 73 tips for effective breeding 74 raising fry 75 failure in reproduction 76 chapter 7 ­ diseases 78 buying healthy fish 78 prevent diseases 79 quarantine aquarium 80 columnaris 81 gill disease 81 courtesy of aquaticcommunity.com 5

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ick 81 dropsy 82 fin-rot 82 fungal infections 82 hole in the head 82 pop-eye 83 cloudy eye 83 swim bladder disease 83 fish lice 83 nematode worms 83 water quality induced diseases 83 treating fish 84 courtesy of aquaticcommunity.com 6

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chapter 1 have you been thinking of adding a freshwater aquarium to your home it s a lovely way to enjoy a miniature riverbed from the comforts of your own room a beautiful aquarium with healthy energetic fish swimming in clear waters and surrounded by green vegetation is a stunning sight but before you begin you need to be armed with all the relevant facts as a person who has spent more than 20 years in this hobby i have tried and tested many of the tips secrets and methods you will find in these pages setting up an aquarium is not really a science but needs to be done correctly to give your fish the best possible home it needs a little bit of common sense and foresight there are many dos and don ts that are learnt over a long period of trial and error this book is written mainly for beginners and i have therefore tried to keep things on a very basic level and use a language that is easy to understand by following these basic instructions you will be able to successfully set up and maintain a freshwater aquarium with easy or moderately difficult fish species it is important to keep in mind that different fish has different demands and this book does only give you basic knowledge about aquarium keeping it is advisable to start out with comparatively easy fish species before you advance to more delicate ones a lot of fish species have intricate demands and in order to successfully keep such species you will need to research them more thoroughly there is however a lot of beautiful and interesting fish species to choose among even for the novice aquarist and by following the instructions in this book you will be capable of successfully keeping a beautiful aquarium filled with thriving vegetation and healthy and colorful fish how to set up an aquarium an aquarium to put it simply is a container that can sustain fish and other aquatic life for a longer period of time acquiring a good aquarium for your fish is not a very difficult job as long as you give it some thought before you actually get it there are some obvious considerations to be taken into account setting up and fully stocking a good aquarium will take anywhere between a couple of weeks and a month the time that you spend with these basic steps will save you a lot of time and trouble at a later stage there are several things to consider before you purchase an aquarium how much time you are willing to spend on the aquarium what kind of aquarium do you want to buy what is the ideal spot for your aquarium what kind of fish should you put in your aquarium how do you keep your fish and their environment healthy in the easiest and quickest way how much time would it all take to maintain what should you feed your fish and how much what should you do when diseases strike these are just some of the many questions that you need to think about courtesy of aquaticcommunity.com 7

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a good and well stocked aquarium needs quite a bit of equipment here is a simple list of the items that you will need for a basic freshwater aquarium an aquarium tank an aquarium stand a hood lighting equipment air pump heater thermometer filters internal or external gravel decorations optional but interesting if you have these maintenance items like scrubber siphon tube etc choosing a spot for your aquarium first you will need to think about how much free space you have for your aquarium whether that free space is open to sunlight and which shape that is best suited for that free space never place an aquarium in direct sunlight and keep the aquarium away from any heating or cooling surfaces sunlight and heating or cooling surfaces will cause sudden and drastic changes in the temperature within the aquarium and sunlight will also promote the growth of algae in the water keep your aquarium away from machines that give out a lot of sound or cause vibration like the washing machine since this will stress the fish water accessibility and easy disposal of dirty water and waste are some other important factors to consider while selecting a good spot for your aquarium as you don t want to run around with buckets of water in your entire house you will need to clean and change water at least monthly and better once a week so choose a place where you can work easily and without any interference in a family with children special care has to be taken to keep the aquarium away from areas of frequent activity you do not want your children to push or fall on the aquarium while they play and injure themselves or break the aquarium glass any good home has a certain décor while choosing a spot for your aquarium you must consider whether the general décor and lighting in the room will make it an attractive place for the new aquarium take the type of biotope you plan to have in your aquarium into consideration when you decide if an aquarium will work with the décor of the chosen spot different types of biotopes works with different decors a saltwater reef aquarium will for instance have a very different look than a well planted south american biotope you should also consider that an aquarium is very heavy so the chosen spot has to be able to support the weight of the aquarium any aquarium over 10 gallons 40 l will weigh at least a hundred and fifty pounds 70 kg when filled and decorated the weight comes chiefly from the glass and the water and decoration such as gravel will further add to this courtesy of aquaticcommunity.com 8

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weight heavy aquariums will need to be kept on a sturdy stand rather than a shelf or a desk choosing an aquarium how big should your aquarium be aquariums come in many shapes and sizes it is advisable to choose an aquarium that is at least 10 gallons 40 l since small aquariums are much more difficult to maintain the waste build up in small aquariums is quick and quite large in comparison with a larger aquarium a small aquarium will therefore require very frequent water changes changes in temperature or water chemistry will also take place more quickly in small aquariums rapid changes in the temperature or water chemistry are harmful for fish i would recommend a 30-gallon/120 l aquarium to novice aquarists since this will provide enough room for more fish and is easier to maintain as it has enough water volume to dilute fish waste a larger aquarium will naturally be even easier to maintain but the benefits of an aquarium that is larger than 30-gallon/120 l is not as significant as the difference between a 30-gallon/120 l aquarium and a smaller one a 30-gallon/120 l aquarium is large enough to buffer against to rapid changes in water values 30gallon/120 l is therefore an ideal beginner size fish aquariums come in many shapes ranging from rectangular to hexagonal or even cylindrical while making your purchase it is not only the beauty of the piece that counts mundane matters like how easy it will be to clean out the aquarium regularly and how to keep all the nooks and crannies hygienic are important considerations the height of the aquarium is also a very important aspect an aquarium that is very deep is complicated to keep for the beginner aquarist increased height means greater difficulty when cleaning and your aquarium might therefore always carry some amounts of waste even after a thorough clean up poor light penetration is another problem with a deep aquarium plants will not thrive in water that has poor light penetration and special lighting is therefore needed in deep planted aquariums acrylic or glass aquarium glass aquariums usually cost less and do not get scratches as easily as acrylic aquariums glass aquariums are also stronger as they are bonded together by a silicone sealant they need support only on the edges unlike acrylic aquariums glass aquariums are very durable and can last for many years without any problems proper lighting will make glass aquariums look almost as clear as acrylic ones on a negative note can be said that glass aquariums are always much heavier than acrylic however if you are looking for irregular shapes than these are easier to obtain as acrylic aquariums acrylic aquariums are much clearer than glass and have better insulation this means that you can use a smaller heater in your aquarium to maintain the proper temperature acrylic aquariums do however scratch easily and can therefore only be courtesy of aquaticcommunity.com 9

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cleaned with specially made soft pads removing scratches from acrylic aquariums can be quite a troublesome procedure the price can also be an important factor when it comes to buying your first aquarium glass aquariums are usually the cheaper alternative and there is also a wider selection of second hand glass aquariums than there is of second hand acrylic aquarium since glass aquariums are more durable putting the aquarium in place when you have selected the best aquarium for your needs it is time to take it home here is a checklist that you need to consider look for any scratches on the aquarium before you make the purchase test to see if there are any leaks in the aquarium take care not to load any heavy items inside the aquarium while you carry it home this may lead to scratching or even breakage get a tight fitting hood for the aquarium when you buy it an open aquarium is never a healthy option more water will evaporate form an aquarium where the water is open to sunlight heat etc evaporation will lead to the water becoming concentrated with waste and animal and plant debris and can also cause water damages and mildew in the room around the aquarium contamination from falling waste is another problem with an open aquarium you will also risk casualties since fish often jump out of an open aquarium and ending up on the floor is more often than not fatal for the fish unless you immediately spot it and put it back in the aquarium thus an aquarium needs a good and sturdy hood these hoods come in various decorative shapes and colors there are various accessories that go with your aquarium other than the hood an aquarium is a complete set of a number of equipment that works together choosing equipment lighting the first equipment that you will come across is probably the lighting for the aquarium most hoods come with fluorescent or incandescent lighting fluorescent bulbs are a better choice despite the fact that they are a bit more expensive since they have long-term benefits they burn cooler thereby not affecting the water temperature at all fluorescent bulbs have another benefit as they uses less electricity fluorescent bulbs can be purchased in sizes that cover the entire aquarium this will provide even lighting in all areas of the aquarium there are a wide variety of fluorescent bulbs that emit different spectrums of light some of these will even assist plant growth some will lead to an increase in algae growth optimal plant growth requires a particular wattage which can be decided by the size of the aquarium usually 1 gallon of water will require 1.5 watts courtesy of aquaticcommunity.com 10

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an average aquarium requires 8 to 10 hours of light a day if you use incandescent lighting it is however better to turn on the lighting for a few fixed hours a day especially in the case of smaller aquariums the water will become considerably hotter during the day and at night once the light is switched off the temperature of the water will drop fast heating a thermostatically controlled water heater will help to maintain a regular water temperature in the aquarium this is especially good in areas that get very hot during the day and cool off during the nights the more wattage your heater has the more heat it will generate larger aquariums need more heat than smaller ones as there is more water to heat an immersible heater hangs into the water while the thermostat remains above water this makes it easier to take readings fully submersible heaters are fixed to the back wall of the aquarium in this case one has to be very careful while taking the readings carelessness can cause the glass of the heater to crack or even explode even in places where the temperature is relatively stable the use of a heater is still recommended and required if you keep tropical fish only fish that do well in cold water like goldfish should be kept in aquariums without heaters the heater will help you to control the temperature in which the fish live even the hardiest of fishes cannot tolerate steep fluctuations in water temperature and will eventually die if they are submitted to such changes it is therefore essential to have a thermometer that will read the temperature in the aquarium at all times and a heater that will heat the water when necessary the crystal type thermometers that can be glued to the glass are very easy to read and inexpensive filtration basically there are 3 types of water filtration mechanical filtration chemical filtration and biological filtration mechanical filtration in mechanical filtration water is passed through a thin sponge or a screen which removes the debris the size of the debris that can be trapped and the time required to filter out the water depends on the quality and the density of the material used as well as on the power of the pump head in the course of time these filters will get clogged and will need to be cleaned thus mechanical filters help to clear out larger particulate matter from the aquarium under gravel filters are a type of mechanical filters that uses the aquarium gravel as filter material and trap the debris among the gravel courtesy of aquaticcommunity.com 11

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chemical filtration in chemical filtration water is passed through activated carbon or a natural mineral called zeolite activated carbons are used primarily to make water clear and remove potentially harmful chemical substances it will remove color and odor producing substances chemical filtration is most useful for removing particles that have got dissolved in the water and substances that are too small to be removed through mechanical filters usually it helps to clear the yellow color that develops in aquarium water over a period of time chemical filtration is also very good to remove medicine lingering in the water after successfully curing a disease in your aquarium biological filtration biological filtration uses bacteria that live on gravel glass surfaces etc to brake down harmful substances in the water this is the most effective kind of filtration for reducing toxic wastes fish normally give out ammonia from their gills and in their feces this ammonia is toxic for fish in a natural environment ammonia is turned into nitrite by one type of bacteria and the nitrite is then subsequently turned into nitrate by another type of bacteria both nitrate and nitrate can harm your fish but nitrite is much more damaging than nitrate fish waste products can propagate plant growth in your aquarium but it will also propagate undesired algae growth biological filtration will take place in a healthy aquarium without you having to worry about it as long as you don t kill the bacteria by vigorous cleaning or the use of chemicals one place where such biological filtration takes places is in the filter of your mechanical filter and it is therefore very important not to clean this filter in hot water or using any type of detergent clean it cautiously with room temperature water to allow at least some bacteria to survive in the filter material and start the biological filtration again as soon as you put the filter back in the aquarium other types of filtration there are also some additional kinds of filters foam fractionators pass a large stream of bubbles through a column of water many substances will stick to the foam that collects at the top and can thus be removed passing ozone and ultraviolet light through aquarium water are also effective to kill bacteria algae and parasites but these are methods that have got different levels of endorsements from aquarists while some swear by these methods others say that ozone and ultraviolet rays do nothing for the aquaria none of these methods can be recommended to the beginner aquarist as they are expensive and there usefulness unverified for effective filtration you must take the size of your aquarium into account and use a combination of the filtration methods described above courtesy of aquaticcommunity.com 12

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air pumps air bubbles that rise to the surface of the aquarium not only help to detoxify and aerate your aquarium but also add to the beauty of the aquarium these thousands of bubbles move toxins and waste from the substrate to the surface where they dissipate they aerate the water and add to the oxygen levels in the water which prevent low oxygen levels which can be harmful to your fish if you use under gravel filtration air pumps will aid these filters to work normally decorations when setting up your aquarium it is definitely recommended to add decorations your fish will give you hours of viewing pleasure and the more natural their environment look the greater your pleasure will be since they will display a much wider range of natural behaviors there are various kinds of suitable and aquarium safe decorations available your choice is limited only by the amount of money you are willing to spend and the fish species that you keep the primary focus when you decorate your aquarium besides your fish well being is to keep all unsightly equipment well hidden it is therefore nice to have some sort of scenery at the back of the aquarium the décor should be used to hide the equipment that you are using within the aquarium so that your aquarium takes on a more natural look you do not want wires and tubes peeking from all corners there are several commercial backdrops that simulate water plants etc they are an excellent buys if you are happy with the look of these this makes the fish feel more secure and makes your aquarium look better many of the shy fish feel exposed from all sides if there is nothing covering them from behind another inexpensive and easy solution is to use colored cardboards as your backdrop they are not very hard to make and can be changed as often as you wish there are also more expensive backgrounds that you put inside the aquarium and that simulate real biotopes in a more realistic way these are stunning but can unfortunate be rather expensive painting the glass with your favorite shade is a widely used option but this has to be done carefully make sure that no paint is spilled into the inside of the aquarium since any traces of paint in the water after the fish come in can be deadly to them also if you do not spread the paint evenly light coming in from the back will show up the bad patches changing the paint once you get tired of it is typically more cumbersome than simply changing a poster backdrop substrate refers to the material that you use at the bottom of your aquarium like sand pebbles etc this is not only a form of beautiful aquarium decoration it will also serve several purposes in your aquarium there are some aquarists who advocate putting in little or no substrate at all while other can t imagine an aquarium without it the substrate has complex physical chemical and biological significance and helps keep your aquarium balanced some types of substrates will for instance help to buffer your water and maintain the right ph in your aquarium substrates help in anchoring plants and decorations to the bottom aid in the filtration process and act as catalysts for organic courtesy of aquaticcommunity.com 13

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processes within the aquarium there are however a lot of aquatic plants that can grow even without a substrate it is best to use non-coated natural color gravel as substrate in your first aquarium care should be taken while selecting the size of the gravel or pebbles when under gravel filtration is used the gravel size should provide for free flow of water sand is therefore not a recommended aquarium decoration especially not for beginners sand particles being small reduces water flow and aeration take the kind of aquarium and fish you want to keep into consideration when you choose the gravel for your aquarium some gravel effect the water values and may make it impossible to keep the water conditions your intended fish want an example of this is that gravel containing chalk will raise the ph level which can be a problem if you want to keep south american fish from acidic waters as mentioned earlier using sand at the bottom of your aquarium is generally not recommended sand is very tightly packed and can make cleaning up rather tiresome sand can also clog the filters and pack away large amounts of waste and debris but if you simply love to see sand in your aquarium you can of course choose sand and spend a little more time cleaning your aquarium silver sand is the most commonly available type of sand though it is cheap it packs more and can therefore be difficult to clean aquarium sand is slightly larger than silver sand but is also about 5 times costlier marine sand comes from corals or seashells that have been crushed these look good but may alter the ph balance of your aquarium beach sand is not a safe option for your tropical aquarium beach sand has large deposits of salt that cannot be totally washed off beach sand may also have lots of pollutants that cannot be treated properly certain substances like seashells limestone and marbles should not be used in a tropical aquarium if you are a beginner aquarist striving to keep the water chemistry stable these substances may dissolve slowly into the water thus gradually altering its ph balance how much substrate should you put in the amount of substrate you will need depends upon the size of your aquarium and the set up planted aquariums will typically need more substrate than ones without plants aquariums without vegetation of one kind or another are not as common as planted aquariums but can function very well and are kept by many aquarist all over the world a 2-4 inches 5-10 centimeter thick layer of substrate is recommended for plants since this will help them to establish their root system once you calculate the area of your aquarium it is easy to calculate the volume of substrate that needs to go in simply multiply the area of your aquarium with the desired height for your substrate decorating your aquarium beautifully is an essential part of setting it up firstly a decorated aquarium looks great secondly it also helps the fish in various ways many species need small nooks and crannies to hide from larger fish and to breed some fish courtesy of aquaticcommunity.com 14

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are also very territorial familiar rock formations plants etc provide these with boundaries and landmarks which they can use territorial borders plants a lot of aquarists love the sight of lush vegetation swaying gently in a clear aquarium full of healthy fish natural aquarium often refers to an aquarium that has a wellmaintained balance between lush plants and healthy fish each supplying what the other needs in a good environment plants and fish are the two main inhabitants of most aquariums they coexist so well because each complements the other plants give out oxygen during photosynthesis the oxygen released gets dissolved in the water and is used up by the fish in turn plants use up the nitrogenous waste released by the fish for their own growth in addition to their visual appeal and their capacity to produce oxygen plants also provide shade a home breeding ground and food for some of the fish plants are also a nesting place for many microorganisms that are vital for the proper and balanced functioning of an aquarium as the fish in your aquarium increases the nitrogenous compounds also increase rich vegetation is a safety barrier that will keep toxicity lower aquatic plants can be both floating and fixed it is better to have a fair share of the fixed type in your first aquarium rather than going for the floating variety while they look very pretty floating plants can collect debris in and around them and are more difficult to clean out if you keep fish species that continuously uproot and disturb the plants floating vegetation can however be the only feasible option if you want to keep real plants for decorative purposes alone many aquarists go in for fake plants of course these plants have numerous advantages they are easy to clean do not need any trimming and will never decay or die they have a base that will make them stick easily to the bottom of the aquarium and they will look perfect and healthy at all times artificial plants can however look very fake especially if you choose some of the cheaper alternatives real plants will also help reduce the growth rate in algae something that plastic plants don t algae can therefore be a large problem in aquariums using plastic plants in some aquariums it is however impossible to keep real plants e.g aquariums with plant eating fish species some aquarists use a method where they put in plants ­ a lot of plants ­ in the aquarium before they introduce the fish by using this method they eliminate the need for normal cycling of the aquarium cycling is explained a little later in this book using this method does however require extensive knowledge about the relevant biology and chemistry and other methods are easier for most beginner aquarists if you wish to use this method you must for instance closely monitor the carbon dioxide levels in the aquarium the level of carbon dioxide in the water should be just right when you put in the fish it is a good idea to put in algae eaters first and then gradually add the rest of the fish over a longer period of time courtesy of aquaticcommunity.com 15

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