6 easy coldwater aquarium plants

When it comes to unheated or coldwater aquariums, most aquarists only think of goldfish setups. However, there are actually many options for low-tech tanks that don’t even require a heater! Popular dwarf shrimp like cherry shrimp can actually be kept in unheated aquariums, and the same goes for most crayfish species and even some popular fish species like White Cloud Mountain Minnows. Plenty of choices when it comes to stocking these simple setups, but are there also plants that can withstand lower temperatures? Of course! Keep reading for a list of plants that are easy to grow and can be kept in unheated aquariums.

Marimo

Marimo by nuwandalice on Flickr.

Marimo balls (Aegagropila linnaei)
The algae that form the popular Marimo ball naturally occur in cooler areas like Iceland, which means they are perfect for unheated and coldwater aquariums. They actually prefer colder water!

Marimo balls are very undemanding; they can be kept by themselves in a vase or bowl, but will also do well in regular aquariums. Just don’t house your Marimo balls with destructive ‘tankmates’ like goldfish or bigger crayfish species, as these will have no problem with destroying or eating them.
For more info on Marimo balls, check out the Marimo caresheet!
You can buy Marimo balls online!

Java moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri, sometimes Vescicularia dubyana)
Java moss is popular mostly because it’s so easy to grow in the aquarium, but what a lot of aquarists aren’t aware of is that it’s also a great choice for subtropical and coldwater setups! In fact, it can be kept in temperatures anywhere between 15-30 °C/59-86 °F. It’s especially appreciated by smaller fish and (dwarf) shrimp, which will use it for cover. Because food particles often get stuck in the moss, it also makes excellent foraging ground for shrimp.
Java moss is mentioned in the Aquariadise article on the 8 easiest aquarium plants, and with good reason! It doesn’t need extra Co2, fertilizer and special lighting and can be left free-floating or tied to driftwood, rock and shrimp caves. Just trim it once in a while to prevent the middle parts from turning brown and it will thrive.
You can buy Java moss online!

Kevin & Gregg's Fishtank 2212

Albino Corydoras foraging on Java moss Kevin & Gregg’s Fishtank 2212 by pkmousie on Flickr.

Water cabbage (Samolus parviflorus/valerandi)
Water cabbage is a small foreground plant that naturally occurs in marshes but also Continue reading

You might also like:

Caresheet: Kuhli loach

Kuhli loaches are one of my personal favorite tropical aquarium fish species, and for a good reason! They are peaceful, fun to watch and easy to keep, which means they’re a great choice for beginners and experienced aquarists.

Tank size 15 gal (54L)
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Carnivore
Temperature 74-79°F/23-26°C
pH 5.5-7

Name:
Pangio kuhlii, Kuhli loach, Coolie loach (also sometimes referred to as Pangio acanthophthalmus)

Natural habitat:
Slow moving forest streams and swamps in Indonesia. The water is often quite acidic and stained with tannins. The substrate consists of sand and/or leaves. The loaches live in larger groups and use the leaf litter to hide in.


Appearance:
Kuhli loaches have an eel- or snake-like appearance with a yellow body and dark brown vertical stripes. Like other loaches, they have barbels around the mouth, which are used to find food in the substrate. With a maximum length of 10 cm (4 inches) they are one of the smaller loach species. Males and females are very difficult to tell apart, although when the females are carrying eggs they usually grow a bit larger and broader than the males.

Requirements:
Because they stay relatively small, kuhli loaches don’t need a very big aquarium. Floor space is more important than the amount of water, as loaches mostly stay on the bottom of the tank. This means it’s a good idea to go for a longer, rectangular aquarium than a higher one. A 54 L (15 gal) long aquarium is a good place to start! Sand substrate is preferred, as these fish like to use their barbels to sift through the substrate, which isn’t possible with gravel.

Me equivoqué de salida

A kuhli loach showing off its barbels. Me equivoqué de salida by sergio89 on Flickr.

In the wild, Continue reading

You might also like:

Removing snails from your aquarium

Like many other aquarists, I’m a big fan of some species of aquarium snails. They can make a helpful cleaning crew and some are very interesting to watch!
However, this unfortunately does not go for all aquarium snail varieties. We all know the scenario; it starts with a single tiny snail that hitchhiked into your tank somehow, and suddenly there are hundreds of them! Oops.

How did that happen, and more importantly, how do you get rid of them? A snail infestation can be difficult to deal with, but there are definitely things you can do to prevent and end them!

Malaysian trumpet snails are one of the species that can completely overrun an aquarium.

Malaysian trumpet snails are one of the species that can completely overrun an aquarium.

Controlling a snail problem

Once you start noticing snails in your aquarium that you do not want there, it’s usually already too late. ‘Pest’ snails like Malaysian trumpet snails, pond snails and ramshorn snails multiply incredibly quickly and the tank is likely already covered in more eggs that will hatch soon. So what can you do?

  • Feed less. One of the reasons the snails can multiply so quickly in your aquarium is that there is plenty of food for them. Cutting back feedings can reduce the number of snails to something that is manageable.
  • Trap the snails. There are multiple ways to do this. The simplest is to put some food, like lettuce or cucumber, in the tank, preferably when the light is off. The snails will flock to the food in huge numbers, and after waiting a while you’ll be able to simply lift the food (with snails attached!) out of the water. If you do this every once in a while, you’ll be able to keep the snail population under control. You won’t be able to wipe out all of them, but that’s not necessary! Snails eat algae and detritus and are actually helpful in smaller numbers.
  • Assassin snails. These do exactly what the name suggests; they find other snails and literally assassinate them! A small group can really help keeping your snail population under control without harming their other tankmates. This is the only living animal I would suggest to keep your snail problem under control. You can buy assassin snails (Clea helena, also sometimes still referred to as Anentome helena) online here!

How to prevent a snail infestation Continue reading

You might also like:

Inspiration: Goldielopes!

This one’s for all the goldfish lovers out there! One of my favorite artists on Tumblr, Charli, recently came up with a wonderful new concept called Goldielopes. They’re small watercolor paintings of all kinds of (fancy) goldfish with deer antlers. What goldfish lover doesn’t want one of these hanging above their goldie tank? Too cute!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can order one of the original Goldielope pieces (but watch out, as new batches sell quickly!), but you can also contact Charli at Shiblue@hotmail.com to commission a Goldielope version of your own goldie.

Happy (goldfish) keeping!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

You might also like:

Nano fish for small tanks!

If you have a small aquarium, it can be pretty hard to find the right fish to stock it with. Most of the popular choices for smaller tanks – pygmy corydoras, dwarf puffers, clown killifish – should still be kept in at least around 10 gallons (40L) and are wrongly marketed towards smaller setups. So what choices does that leave us with? Keep reading for a list of the actual smallest of the smallest fish!

Note: Please do not keep fish in any aquarium smaller than 5 gallons. These extreme nano tanks cannot hold a stable cycle and you should only keep invertebrates with a small bioload in them. Please also do not keep more than one species of fish in a nano tank to prevent overcrowding. This list contains some suggestions for suitable invertebrates.

Boraras brigittae – Mosquito rasbora

Talk about tiny! At a maximum of 2 cm (0,8 inch), these schooling fish are ideal for nano setups. They come from the soft, dark waters of Borneo, which means a great opportunity to set up a mini blackwater habitat. Keep mosquito rasboras in larger groups (at least 7-8) in aquariums of at least around 6 gallons (23L) – a longer aquarium is preferred here, because although they are small these fish do love to swim a lot!
Note: Mosquito rasbora are not the only ultra tiny rasbora! If they’re available in your local aquarium store, you could also consider Continue reading

You might also like:

Indian Almond Leaves | How and when to use them!

If you’re an aquarist, you’ve probably heard of Indian almond leaves (also known as Catappa leaves). These leaves of the Terminalia catappa tree are especially popular in the betta and shrimp hobby as a natural medicine and water conditioner. They are said to help combat fungus and bacterial problems like finrot, and prevent stress by mimicking the natural habitat. But how, when and why should you use them?

What are Indian almond leaves? As mentioned before, Indian almond leaves are the leaves of the Terminalia catappa tree, which grows in large parts of Asia. The leaves are usually harvested by simply picking them off the ground. After drying them, they are ready for use in the aquarium. You can import Indian almond leaves directly, but nowadays they are also available in some pet-/aquarium stores and online!

What do Indian almond leaves do? When placed in an aquarium, Indian almond leaves start slowly decomposing. While this happens they turn the water a yellow or brown color by releasing tannins. These tannins lower the pH and are said to have antifungal and antibacterial properties, which comes in very handy when you have a fish suffering from finrot or when you’re raising vulnerable fry. The dark color of the water is considered unsightly by some aquarists, but it actually mimics the natural habitat of many fish species! This definitely makes it something to consider embracing.


Continue reading

You might also like:

Caresheet: Goldfish

Common goldfish are a long-time favorite as an easy first pet, which makes it extra surprising that they can’t actually be kept in the classic goldfish bowl. So what is a good home for our favorite orange friend? Keep reading for more info on how to keep goldfish, suitable pond mates, what to feed and how to breed them!

This is a caresheet for single tailed goldfish. If you were looking for more information on fancy (double tail) goldfish, check out the Fancy goldfish caresheet!
For more specific info on why goldfish should not be kept in bowls and small tanks, check out Why goldfish bowls should be banned!

goldfish

goldfish by riviera2008 on Flickr.

 

Tank size 100 gal (380L) per fish
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Omnivore
Temperature Seasonal
pH 7-8

Name:

Carassius auratus, single tail goldfish. This includes common goldfish, comet goldfish, and shubunkin.

Natural habitat:

The goldfish as we know it does not naturally appear in the wild. Its ancestor, the Prussian carp, is mainly found in Asia.

Appearance:

Single tailed goldfish can be told apart from fancy goldfish by their tail (surprise, surprise), but also by their body shape. While some fancy goldfish types do have a single tail, they have a much rounder body than actual single tail goldfish.
Single tails come in almost all colors, including yellow, orange, green/brown, calico and white. They have a long, torpedo shaped body that is similar to that of the Prussian carp and can grow quite large; up to 12 inch (30 cm) is sometimes seen!

Determining the gender of a single tailed goldfish can be a challenge, especially when they’re kept in a pond. However, it’s not impossible! Most males Continue reading

You might also like: