We hope that you will find them of value but we can't guarantee success - there are just too many variables in fishkeeping (especially if there's a vital fact you omitted to tell us in the first place!)
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You won't be able to tell whether your Koi are 'pregnant' or not, but you may be able to tell which fish are females rather than males once the fish reach around 10 inches in length.
Female Koi are plumper when viewed from above, as they fill up with eggs when coming into spawning condition. Male fish are slimmer and develop white spots on the gill covers and pectoral fins: these are called breeding tubercles and only develop as the males come into breeding condition. These white spots should not be confused as symptoms of White Spot Disease.
Should some of your slimmer fish start chasing the fatter ones you will soon be able to differentiate betwen the sexes of your fish.
The subject of bog gardens is often misunderstood by many people.
The main confusion lies in the fact that many plants do not grow with their stems and roots in water, but merely require fairly continually moist conditions.
Pondkeepers often extend the outside edges of their ponds to include a permanently 'damp area' where such plants will thrive. This is easy to do using extra pond lining material but it must be perforated with a few holes in the bottom to prevent stagnant water areas building up. In fact, what has been created is a planted soak-away which seems to be what is in your mind.
There are two excellent water gardening books which will help:
The Master Book Water in the Garden
of the Water Garden by James Allison
by Philip Swindells Salamander Books
Salamander Books ISBN No:0-86101-559-2
Having recently visited a Discus breeding centre in Singapore where Brine Shrimp is used extensively, I see no reason why microworm and Daphnia can't also be used as long as you can guarantee a regular supply.
I am sure you will be aware that the young Discus fry will feed on the mucus on the sides of their parent's bodies at first when they become free-swimming. Incidentally, trying to add likely food to the tank (hard-boiled egg-yolk squeezed through a cloth, liquid fry food etc) before the fry free-swim will only help to pollute the water. Best of luck with your fish.
Designing a fish ought to be easy given the fact that Guppies are so prolific but that's half the problem. Putting together certain colours should produce the colour strain you require but in fact green fish are almost a rarity. In Singapore recently, in the Siamese Fighter Class of over 550 entries, there was not one green Fighter.
Producing any set colour is governed by the Mendelian Laws of Genetics and further complicated by the fact that some colours are dominant whilst others are recessive.
Breeding indiscriminately from a variety of coloured Guppies may in time throw up a green Guppy (based on the Monkeys and typewriters theory in eventually producing Shakespeare!) although this fish may only just have green iridesecences rather than a genuine green hue.
To do this would take lots of spawnings and lots of tank space coupled with lots of selective sorting out of the youngsters.
Sadly, we do not have a national Guppy breeders Association any more although you might find help by contacting the specialist Livebearer Society, Viviparous
Unless it looks as if there is blood in the fin (Fin Congestion) it could be that your Guppies are losing the quality of the colour strain and 'new blood' might be required to re-invigorate them.
Fins can become inflamed due to poor water conditions and here the solution is quite clear. The importance of regular water changes cannot be over-emphasised. You may be able to find out more by visiting the specialist Livebearer Society, Viviparous
I was given the whole fish tank when i moved into my house (the man who owned it before me left it there) so I'm not sure how old they were etc. Just wanted to know really if there would be any sort of reason for this? The fish are all alive & seem to be ok. Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks, Caroline
The fact that the other fish in your tank seem OK seems to point to something specifically amiss with your two Plecs.
It should be appreciated that these fish are usually kept for their expertise in eating algae; this means, of course, that they are quite vegetarian-minded and any lack of green matter in their diet could lead to health problems.
This green deficiency often comes about because they are just too good at their job, so it is usual to supplement their usual fish food diet either with 'algae-wafers' (food available at your aquatic dealer) or give them some shelled peas (cooked!), small pieces of courgette, blanched or scalded lettuce etc to munch on.
This may explain their sad demise, and hopefully your other fish will continue to thrive.
Transporting fish need not be quite the ordeal you fear if you pay attention to one or two things.
The one thing to ensure is that the fish is not stressed more than necessary (you'll probably be the one with the most stress!) and to this end you should
try to take as much of the fish's existing water with you.
If you can get a tank (even a temporary one) set up in your new home in advance of moving then so much the better.
Large fish can be transported in a large plastic dustbin with a lid clipped on. Add some 'Stress Coat' to the water just before you travel.
If you can drain down the existing tank to gravel level (and still manage to lift it!) then you can take this as it is to the new home and simply top it up using as much original water as possible together with new tap water that has been treated with a dechlorinator.
You may like to read Dr Peter Burgess article on moving house with fish on this website.
The usual ways of removing Blanketweed other than dragging it our manually (it makes excellent compost!) is by using algicides, enzyme control or by electronic treatment of the water.
Interpet, the well known aquarium equipment manufacturer, produces several treatments for Blanketweed, as does Tetra and Oase. Some remedies are straightforward 'killers' and the dead Blanketweed must be removed as soon as it forms. Products: EA Blanketweed Inhibitor, Pond Balance (Interpet), Blanc-Kit, Kusuri Eco-pure. All should be obtainable at aquatic centres. see http://www.koikit.biz/acatalog/Blanketweed_control.html
Barley Straw when it decomposes in the water releases some kind of enzyme that adversely affects Blanketweed but whilst this will work perfectly well in one area of the country is may not do so elsewhere. One brand that worked for me was obtained from Mandrake Marketing. They have a website shop via eBay and their email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. It is now possible to get Barley Straw extract in liquid form in addition to the usual pouches of the straw itself.
The electronic means operates via a coil of wire wrapped around the filtration tube and treats the water passing through the tube. There are various brand names for this type of control and most well known aquatic centres stock them, ie World of Water, Maidenhead Aquatics etc.
Typing in 'Blanketweed' into Google's search engine will bring up many sources of advice and treatment details.