Art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2017


Saturday, January 25, 2014


Having gone through treating lateral line inflammation in two of my ranchus, I finally took David Lains' (Ichthius) advice (GoldfishGarage), who is a fish guru and very generous in sharing his knowledge, and purchased a UV sterilizer. Another improvement suggested by David was a 150 micron nylon filter bag to trap solids pumped from the pond. I previously used pre-filter pads, which would easily clog and were somewhat restricting water flow. Here is my old post about the set up "Before the Fish"
Filter Box before
Redesigned Filter Box

To implement the changes I had to redesign my filter box. In most situations, the UV sterilizer is placed in-line after the filter and before the pond. In my case it was not possible as water from the filter box flows directly into the pond with no space to attach the UV sterilizer in between. So, I turned the last section of the filter box from which water enters the pond into UV sterilizing chamber.


The filter box is made out of transparent acrylic, and my first step was to block the UV light from effecting the rest of the sections, where bio media is placed with cultures of nitrifying bacteria. I used opaque black acrylic and UV resistant and fish safe Life Guard Pool & Pond paint to block the UV light from the chamber. Then, I installed a 18 Watt Emperor Advanced UV Sterilizer for Savio Compact Skimmer. 

18 Watt Emperor Advanced UV Sterilizer for Savio Compact Skimmer

150 micron nylon filter bag 

It is now up and running! I am glad I did it, one extra measure to keep the water cleaner and my ranchu healthier.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Commonly known as water-meal, the genus Wolffia is comprised of a dozen of species of flowering plants belonging to a group of duckweeds from the Arum family (Araceae). Wolffia plants are free floating and unlike other duckweeds do not develop any root system.

Everything about this plant is different and unique. First of all the size. It is the smallest known flowering plant, barely reaching 1 mm in size. Second - it's appearance. Unlike in most plants it has no roots, branches or leaves, instead it possesses a body of undifferentiated vegetative tissue or thallus. The only differentiated part in this plant is a flower that seldom forms in depression on the top of the plant's body. Third - Wolffia's nutritional value. Protein content of this plant can be as high as 45%, placing it in the same league as soybeans.

Wolffia arrhiza, side view

Another Wolffia's "talent" is the ability to propagate with incredible speed. In warm water and under bright light each plant can double its size every 2 days, rapidly taking over any surface of water. Easy cultivation, high yield and nutritional value made Wolffia an important food source for people of South-east Asia, where it is harvested and eaten. Some say it taste like sweet cabbage.

Intervals between the toothpick bristles are less than 1 mm

I have read about Wolffia that it has been cultivated by ranchu breeders in Japan and valued as dietary supplement for ranchu. It is considered easily digestible and contributes to development of head-growth and color (especially yellow). It helps to maintain slim belly, preventing obesity. Adding Wolffia as a food supplement to my ranchu diet sounded like a great idea, especially since I won't be able to raise ranchu in "green water" at least for now.

Wolffia is usually found in lakes and ditches with standing or slow moving freshwater throughout temperate, sub - and tropical areas of the world and usually grows together with other duckweeds like Lemna and Spirodela.

I ordered it online. Wolffia arrhiza was the species that I received. Now I have to be patient, as I can't feed Wolffia to my ranchu quite yet. Since the plants were collected from the outdoor pond, it is necessary to sterilize them and start a "clean" culture with the same microflora as it is in the pond with my ranchu. To sterilize Wolffia I used 2.5% Clorox bleach solution, in which I kept the plants for ≈ 30 sec. Sterilized plants were rinsed in freshwater and transferred into their growing container with water from my ranchu pond. 

These plants need to be fertilized to keep them rapidly growing, but my options were limited. Plant fertilizers won't work, as Wolffia will absorb and retain high concentrations of N and P along with other elements that can harm ranchu if eaten. I wouldn't risk using aquatic plants fertilizers either. My fellow ranchu breeder from Singapore, Wee Yap ( goldfishartquatics.blogspot ) suggested using goldfish dry pellets as fertilizer, and so I did. Nitrates present in my municipal water at 20-40 ppm will provide some additional resource for Wolffia.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I was recently reminded about our tendency to humanize animals, when someone asked me: "What are their names?", referring to my ranchu. Despite their cute nature and personalities, I refrained from naming them for a couple of reasons.

As with most pets, we project our emotions onto them and justify many of their actions through our own perception. While in some cases it might work with dogs and cats alike, interaction with goldfish, I think, is entirely different case.

Naming the ranchu could be my first step toward humanizing them, which could lead to possible future mistakes in their care. Extreme example would be a vegan person who feeds its goldfish only vegan food, malnourishing them because of beliefs. I have seen that happen. Or imagine a goldfish with a catchy name "Sparkly" in solitary confinement with best care and love provided. We can give goldfish all we think it needs, without realizing that we have failed to accommodate its very basic needs. Goldfish are social and require to be in a school of their own kind. We can not fulfill "Sparkly's" social needs with just "baby fish talk". And yes, fish can get depressed, as shown in studies. 

Second reason for not naming my fish is an issue with attachment. Not everyone realizes or accepts the fact that to produce one high quality ranchu a lot of fish needs to be culled. As statistis show, depending on variety, it takes 1 out of every 100, or as much as 2000 goldfish fry to meet the standards and become a show or future breeder goldfish. The rest are rejected and passed as a "pet grade" or euthanized. It is quite impossible to keep every fish from every spawn, and frankly many would not even survive. This is the reality of selective breeding in goldfish.

I have to get use to a goldfish breeder's attitude as oppose to pet owner's. Eventually, I would like to breed them myself and the culling part of the process might not be an easy one, and might take time to get used to. It will be more helpful for me if I remain emotional outsider, learning intricacies of goldfish keeping and understanding them at their level.

It wouldn't hurt our goldfish either way, with or without the name or a little "baby fish talk", as long as we keep learning about them, treat them like a fish and respond to their needs like to a fish. Your comments are welcomed and appreciated.

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