HOW TO CARE FOR NEON TETRAS

How to care for neon tetras

Neon tetras are among the most popular of all aquarium fish, but they have a reputation of being difficult to keep. They are a South American, freshwater fish, native to the blackwater and clearwater streams of southeastern Colombia, eastern Peru, and western Brazil. In their native habitat you can expect neon tetras to have a lifespan of up to ten years, however under aquarium conditions that is usually closer to five years. Of course in a general community tank it is not uncommon for individuals to start dropping off before the week is out, with further deaths every few days thereafter until your shoal completely expires. This is usually a result of unfavourable water conditions, or more worryingly neon tetra disease - Pleistophora hyphessobryconis.

Blackwater stream - http://www.seriouslyfish.com/
In their natural habitat neon tetra inhabit very soft, acidic waters which usually range between 20 and 26° C. These rivers and streams are often swollen by frequent and heavy downpours.

For optimum conditions with an aquarium, neon tetras will be at their happiest in a densely planted tank with subdued light and plenty of hiding places, a dark substrate and an ideal temperature of 21–25 °C, cooler than usually found in most tropical aquariums. To resemble their native Amazon environments provide a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 and a KH of 1.0 to 2.0. It is also recommend to carry out frequent water changes. Be aware that if your Neon Tetras have been raised in an aquarium with a significantly different water chemistry, a rapid change in conditions can cause more harm than good. To be on the safe side, neon Tetras should always be gradually adjusted to new water conditions.

Neon tetras are a shoaling fish and as such display nervous characteristics if only a few are kept together. If possible try to keep them in as large a shoal as possible to reduce stress as this will lower the fish's immune system allowing disease to take hold. Three or four neon tetras do not make a shoal, so when purchasing fish you are looking for at least a dozen individuals - preferably considerably more.

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Avoid keeping large, fast moving or aggressive fish in the same aquarium as your neon tetras as again they will become stressed as well are increasing the risk of them becoming eaten. Instead, keep them in a community aquarium with other non-aggressive fish species of roughly the same size.

Neon tetras are naturally omnivorous, meaning that they feed on plant matter as well as crustaceans, worms and other small aquatic insects. Under aquarium conditions they readily accept both processed and live foods, including flake, frozen and freeze-dried foods. Avoid feeding just flaked foods, instead supplement with occasional treats such as daphnia, brine shrimp, bloodworms. Maintaining a varied diet will help to prevent physiological issues due to nutrient deficiencies.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO CARE FOR CARDINAL TETRA
HOW TO CARE FOR NEON TETRAS
HOW TO CARE FOR PENGUIN TETRA
HOW TO CONTROL NEON TETRA DISEASE
NEON TETRA
NEON TETRA DISEASE
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THE WORLD'S UGLIEST FISH
WHAT IS THE WORLD'S MOST POISONOUS FISH?

HOW TO TREAT NEON TETRA DISEASE

How to treat neon tetra disease



Neon tetra are arguably one of the most popular of all species of freshwater, tropical fish. In fact an incredible 1.8 million neon tetras are imported into the United States for the aquarium trade each month! Unfortunately neon tetra are a timid species, especially when kept in low numbers as they find confidence in the protection of the large shoals. A nervous disposition combined with their reasonably specific water quality requirements (pH of 6.0 to 6.5 and a KH of 1.0 to 2.0) means that they can be prone to stress related illness and disease, be it environment stress for bullying from larger, more aggressive fish species.

Neon tetra disease - http://i.imgur.com/XMoC09q.png
One of the more serious illnesses contracted by neon tetras is the rather unimaginative 'neon tetra disease' otherwise known as pleistophora disease. Neon tetra disease is a highly contagious illness caused by the parasite Pleistophora hyphessobryconis, a single-celled organism. It is also fast acting often killing the fish with just a few days of the symptoms becoming obvious.

Spores of the parasite enter the neon tetra usually through consuming the infected flesh of a dead or dying fish. It is also believed that the popular live food, tubifex worms, may also be a carrier of the Pleistophora spores. The sudden incidence of neon tetra disease usually occurs after the introduction of newly purchased infected aquarium fish.

Symptoms of neon tetra disease include restlessness, loss of their iridescent coloration, the formation of grey or white patches on their flanks, and lumps on their body as cysts develop. Further clues include a difficulty in swimming, a progressive curving of the spine, and an incidence of secondary infections due to a suppression of their immune systems such as fin rot and internal bloating. Infected fish tend to be separate for the shoal, often hiding under aquarium plants or ornaments, and showing a distinct lack of appetite.

Treatment

While there is currently no 'off-the-shelf' cure for neon tetra disease, there is evidence to believe that when kept under optimum conditions healthy specimens are capable of fighting off the disease, killing off the parasite using their own immune system. Antibiotics prescribed by a veterinary surgeon may be administered. The antiprotozoal agent 'Toltrazuril' has shown to be an effective remedy to neon tetra disease but it is currently unavailable as a commercial medication.

Aquariums with hard water or comparatively high temperatures allow the parasites to progress within the fish while the immune systems are depressed due to environmental stress. Remove infected fish as they become apparent, and maintain a more suitable temperature of approximately 72 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and as mentioned previously a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 and a KH of 1.0 to 2.0.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO CARE FOR CARDINAL TETRA
HOW TO CARE FOR NEON TETRAS
HOW TO CONTROL NEON TETRA DISEASE
HOW TO CARE FOR PENGUIN TETRA
NEON TETRA
NEON TETRA DISEASE
PENGUIN TETRA
THE WORLD'S UGLIEST FISH
WHAT IS THE WORLD'S MOST POISONOUS FISH?

HOW TO OVERWINTER CHILLI PLANTS

Image credit - http://www.chilefoundry.com/





Everyone should be familiar with the ubiquitous chilli plant, in particular the Capsicum chinense varieties which are well known for their exceptional heat. Although chilli peppers have been selectively bred and under cultivation for at least 7500 BCE, they still retain their 'parent plants' perennial growth cycle. Therefore when grown in frost-free climates, the chilli plant is quite capable of growing into a large perennial shrub and producing a viable crop for several seasons.

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Of course chilli pepper plants are grown as an annual crop in northern European climates as they have little tolerance to cold damage. However when grown under a protected environment they can go on to produce their crop year after year, avoiding the need to purchase replacement plants the following season and waiting for them to grow to a size where they will begin fruiting.

Be that as it may, Capsicum annuum cultivars do not overwinter particularly well, even when grown in heated greenhouses and so these are still best grown as an annual crop. Capsicum frutescens and Capsicum chinense cultivars (which include the popular Hab, Scotch Bonnets and Naga chillies) can also be a bit 'hit and miss' when overwintered, however excellent results can be achieve with Capsicum pubescens and Capsicum baccatum cultivars.

When night temperatures begin to fall to below 8-10 degrees it will be time to start preparing your plants for the winter. This will around the end of October, but you will need to keep an eye on your local weather forecast.

Image credit - http://www.bengrovemarketgarden.co.uk/
You can increase the chances of your plants surviving the winter by giving them a severe pruning back as the winter closes in, only leaving about 10-15cm of the main stem. This prevents the chilli plant from wasting energy maintaining foliage or fruit which would otherwise leave it in a weaker condition to survive the cold. You can also consider repotting your chilli plants into larger pots. The additional compost will act as cold insulation for the roots as well as providing fresh nutrients for the spring flush of growth.

For best overwintering results the plants should be grown in individual pots though this will result in a lower crop compared to plants grown directly in the ground. To make the most of our comparatively shorter growing season, field-grown chilli pepper plants are usually grown within the protection of an unheated greenhouse or more likely a polytunnel. In this instance provide a secondary tent or cloche-like level of protection using heavy duty bubble-wrap or fleece.

Pot grown plants which again would normally be cultivated within a an unheated greenhouse or polytunnel will need to be raised off the ground onto benches. If an integral heating system is not in place then consider using either paraffin heaters or heat-mats. If an integral heating system is in place than maintain a temperature of between 5-7 degrees Celsius.

Image credit - http://vegplotting.blogspot.co.uk/
If you are only growing a few plants then you may be better off bringing them indoors to a sunny windowsill. If the room is unheated such as a conservatory then place a piece of perspex or thick card between the window and the plant to protect against frost damage in severe winters. Avoid cold draughts and do not leave behind curtains.

Be aware that the lower temperatures and light levels of winter will cause your chilli plants to fall into a period of dormancy. This is identified by a sharp reduction in growth and for a long period of time the plant may look as though it has died.

During this period there is no need to feed, and watering must be kept to a minimum. At this time of year water will only need to be applied once every two to three weeks, and avoid waterlogging. Once conditions improve the following spring you can expect your plant to bounce back into new growth.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO OVERWINTER CHILLI PLANTS
HOW TO OVERWINTER GRAPEVINES