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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Pet Care Of The Day

Allergic To Your Dog Or Cat?
Pets definitely help us live longer and healthier lives. This is especially true of the elderly and those of us who live alone. Pets make wonderful and faithful companions. They are always there for us. However, this relationship can become strained, and sometimes even be broken when someone in the household develops an allergy to a beloved pet.

Studies show that approximately 15% of the population suffers from an allergy to a dog or cat, and about one third of those with an allergy to cats choose to live in a household with a cat despite the allergy. Some allergy suffers live happily with a pet for a year or two before an allergy starts.

There are sometimes long term health ramifications of repeated allergy flair up's, especially for children. Repeated flair-up's can cause permanent lung damage in children. This should be carefully and thoroughly discussed with your physician. One of the ways to live happily with an animal you are allergic to is to decrease your exposure to the animal. Keep the animal outside if possible.

If the allergy sufferer only has a mild reaction to the animal there are ways for the two of them to live together in harmony, but it takes work. The animal should not be allowed in the allergy sufferers bedroom or on the bed. Keep the animal off of any upholstered furniture in the house as dander can be transferred to upholstered furniture. Use a room purifier to remove airborne animal dander. Remove carpets from the home if possible and replace with wood floors. Wash area rugs on a regular basis with warm water. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter in order to trap dander. The allergy sufferer should wash his or her face and hands after handling the animal. The animal can be bathed weekly in specially formulated shampoo that removes dander.

In some cases where the above methods and the use of over the counter antihistamines and decongestants do not help, the allergy sufferer may need to seek the help of an allergist. Immunotherapy can be thought of like a vaccination against your allergies. Given on a regular basis as shots, immunotherapy helps your body build up a natural tolerance to specific allergens.

With the use of the above methods you'll be able to live a long and healthy life with your pet!

All You Wanted To Know About Birdcages
Home is where the heart is, isn’t it? Ever thought about those who have no home and make us feel good daily as we enjoy their music and admire their beauty. Shouldn’t they also have a beautiful place of their own? Yes, we are talking about the birds whose melodies we wake to every morning and who warm our hearts. These pretty creatures have their nests perched on trees and shrubs. However, when the humans have started keeping birds as pets, the pretty birds do not have the luxury of having their own nests. This is how the concept of birdcages came into being. Since birdcages are the only option that we humans have for them, why not make it beautiful?

Types of Birdcages

There are many kinds of birdcages available t day for the birds. Since birds can be classified into three sizes, small, medium and large, cages are also provided in the same way (i.e., small, medium, and large). It is true that no one else but you knows the best your bird requires, so you’re always advised to get your birdcage designed as an acrylic bird cage which is ideal for any bird that you may own. The birdcages come in variety of designs and materials, including the manzanita, ribbon wood, grape wood and acrylic perches. Aside from that, you can buy bird toys for your bird/s to play with. You can also make sure they have a wide variety of food to eat.

Decorating Your Bird’s Home

Select the birdcage that’s easy to clean. For this you can place a tray into the cage, which you can remove easily when you need to wash it off. You can also make sure your birds get their well-deserved rest by purchasing a cover to place over their cage at night. You can buy lots of toys and hanging materials to enhance the looks and charm of their home. For example, you can give put a ladder in their cage that they can walk up and down on. This is just one of many ways to keep them from getting bored and enjoying their home. Your birds are special for you, so they deserve a special home.

Aquarium Fish Health: White Spot Disease Symptoms And Cures
Fish death is one of the main problems that beginner aquarist and even some expert aquarist face. It’s frustrating to the extent that most quit keeping aquarium fish.

But fish death can be avoided. Most fish deaths are caused as a result of both an internal and external types parasites that compete with the fish in tank.

As a result if you watch your aquarium fish often you should be able to discover when they have been infected by this parasite and be able to treat them to avoid fish death.

Look out for the following White Spot disease behavioral symptoms in your fish.

- Constant lying on the bottom or hanging at the surface.

- Rubbing of the body against rocks

- Gasping at the water surface

- No response to feeding

- General dullness and lethargy

- Hovering in a corner

- Fish swimming with clamps up

The most common of the visible signs is the development of the pin head-size while spots on the body or fins. This ailment is referred to as White Spot disease and is caused by the parasite - Ichthyophthirius Multifillis.

This parasite has a free-swimming stage, which attaches itself to the fish. The most common chemical used in treating infected fishes is Methylene Blue. You could buy a one per cent stock solution from a reputable chemist or aquarium shop and apply at 0.8 to 1.0ml per gallon of water. This amount should be added all at once. Repeat after one or two days.

The fishes must remain in this bath until every while spot has disappeared. A water change after treatment is necessary or else prolonged contact with the chemical may affect the fertility of the fish.

Another tip if you are using a side filter with activated charcoal should remove it to prevent the coal from absorbing the Methylene Blue.

Another tip... during treatment you should use artificial aeration with coarse bubbles near the surface, since a dirty bottom would inactivate the medicament by absorption. A better measure is to remove all dirt from the bottom before treatment.

Methylene Blue is harmless to young fish and unlike the general belief, it does not affect plants if used in weaker concentration.

About Saltwater Aquarium Fish! - Beautiful...
Saltwater aquarium fish are amongst the most beautiful of animals to be found anywhere in the world. A variety of saltwater aquarium fish can be housed in your marine tank provided you know what they need in terms of care, such as feeding, environment, competitors and space to grow.

Any marine enthusiast will tell you that setting up a marine tank is tricky and so is choosing the right saltwater aquarium fish! This is because it’s easy to make mistakes with the kinds of fish you choose. It’s usually best to start your marine tank with a few hardy and affordable fish. The majority of saltwater aquarium fish are collected from nature rather than captive raised so don’t waste that gift by making mistakes that result in the death of your fish.

Damsels are a great saltwater aquarium fish to start off with. Damsels are hardy little creatures and can survive in poorer water conditions than many other marine species. They are not fussy about their food and won’t cost you the earth. Unfortunately damsels are also quite aggressive. You can easily keep one or two of these tough saltwater aquarium fish in a tank but don’t try any more than that.

Its best to start with damsels and then add more aggressive fish later, If you want to house saltwater aquarium fish that are more shy, you need to take your damsels out before adding more timid varieties of saltwater aquarium fish. Blue and yellow damsels are two species that are less aggressive than others.

Mollies are an alternative starter saltwater aquarium fish. Mollies that are used to salt water allow you to start with cheaper fish while you learn how to make sure the salinity of your tank is correct for more sensitive creatures. On the other hand mollies are raised and bred in captivity so you won’t get much real experience in keeping them. Get them used to the tank by allowing saltwater to drip into the bag for about 6-8 hours. When the bag becomes full remove some water. After the tank cycles you can keep the fish in the tank.

Clownfish are cousins to damsel fish and are a fairly hardy saltwater aquarium fish. They are not that easy to acclimate to a marine tank, though. They are also quite territorial but aren’t likely to be aggressive to other species. They don’t have to have an anemone to survive. If you do get one bear in mind that they need water that is very clean and high quality lighting.

Blennies or gobies are fairly hardy and small and shouldn’t be a problem for the other saltwater aquarium fish in the tank. They are character fish but they are small and so might get lost in very big tanks with bigger saltwater aquarium fish. They are a good choice to help control algae but if you have a fish only tank they may not be easy to keep fed.

Tangs are a hardy saltwater aquarium fish which are a little sensitive and tend to contract marine ich (also know as "White Spot"). They eat algae so as soon as you grow some you might try to introduce some tangs.

Triggerfish or lionfish are an ideal saltwater aquarium fish for a tank which will eventually contain large aggressive fish. However they can be costly if you make mistakes. It might be a good idea to ‘practice’ on fish that are both cheaper and easier. You will need to feed them lots of shell fish and other sea creatures to keep them healthy.

Angels and butterflies are very sensitive and difficult saltwater aquarium fish to keep. They need special diets most of the time so they are not that easy to care for in a tank. The same goes for batfish.

Once you gain more experience in keeping conditions in your tank stable you can add a few other varieties of fish. Choose from hawkfishes, grammas, dottybacks, basslets and wrasses. But make sure to find out about how to take care of them properly because some are not as easy as others. However they are a much easier bet that angels and butterflies.

So which saltwater aquarium fish should beginners avoid? You should not attempt angelfish, butterfly fish, pipefish, seahorses, long-nosed filefish, blue ribbon eels, stonefish, and Moorish Idols as well as mandarin fish until you really know what you are doing.

What about invertebrates? Contrary to popular belief invertebrates are well suited for mini or micro-reef tanks. Many invertebrates do well in non-reef tanks. For the novice aquarist the hardy species are best. These include shrimps like the cleaner shrimp, blood shrimp or peppermint shrimp and coral banded shrimp. As is the case with saltwater aquarium fish, stick to the hardier shrimps to begin with.

Anemone crabs are another option you might try along with your saltwater aquarium fish. And why not add some sea urchins and starfish which are quite well suited to beginners with a couple of month’s experience? They differ in size, shape and color and some are poisonous so be careful! Sea urchins and starfish eat detritus and algae and other small bits of food so they will help to keep your tank clean and your saltwater aquarium fish healthy.

Anemones are not really suited for beginners. They need special lighting and top-notch water conditions so if you can’t foot the bill for the lights stay away or you’ll live to regret it. Invertebrates you should avoid include tridacna clams, flame scallops, Octopi, Nudibranchs, or any hard or soft coral and sea squirts. Like the saltwater aquarium fish listed previously these invertebrates have special feeding and living requirements.

When you choose saltwater aquarium fish, you need to bear in mind that they are a bit more expensive then the freshwater varieties. For this reason you should take care with them and try to keep them alive. When fish are captured and moved from the store to your home they are liable to get stressed, especially since most of them have been taken from the ocean mere days ago. So make sure you can properly care for your new friends before you bring them home!

Selecting A Horse - Choose The Breed Carefully
Owning a horse is a huge responsibility. Just like owning any pet, you should put a great deal of thought and consideration before you decide to purchase an equine. Since most individuals will have to house horses off their property, you should first consider finding a suitable stable before you purchase a horse. Also, consider your wants and needs.

If you or your stable has limited space, you might not want to consider a sizable draft horse like a Clydesdale. However, if you are in need of a large horse to do a great deal of work pulling wagons, you should consider breeds other than Shetlands. There are a great number of breeds, each with a different pro and con. After carefully reviewing each breed, you are sure to find the exact type of horse to fit your needs and your lifestyle.

Ask yourself what you are looking for in a horse. Do you want a horse that you can show? Do you want a horse for work purposes? Do you want a horse to jump or ride competitively? Do you want a horse to race? Do you want a horse to ride on trails or one that is compatible with children? After you determine why you want a horse (and the answer should be better than "just because"), you can set out determining what breed is best for you. Keep in mind, even though the breed might fit everything you want, each horse will have a different personality. Before you run out and buy the first horse in your desired breed, take a careful look at the specific horse in question.

If you are interesting in showing a horse for its beauty and grace, an Arabian horse is probably your best bet. These beautiful creatures are well-liked on the show circuit and enjoy being fussed and fawned over. For those daring riders who want a horse for jump training, the strong-legged Thoroughbred may be the perfect fit. These gentle giants are rugged enough to withstand the abuse of jumping, but are agile enough to soar over the highest gates. If you would rather have a rough-and-tumble horse perfect for uneven trail rides, the American Quarter Horse should be your top pick. These famous horses are often used in competitive Western riding events, including the heart-pumping barrel racing.

American Quarter Horses are perfect for the intense training required for competitive racing, but also have the sure-footed step necessary for making the quick turns and negotiating rocky terrain. A Tennessee Walking Horse or Mountain Horse is the perfect fit for the horse owners who want to go on quiet rides. The gentle gait of these beautiful creatures gives these horses the best ride over even terrain. Finally, if you are looking a horse for a child, consider a smaller breed like the Icelandic. The shorter stature better fits the proportion of a child, and their smooth gait and easy-going attitude will prevent much bumping and jostling.

Whatever your choice of breed, carefully consider its pros and cons. Even though you may have your heart set on one specific breed, if it will not meet your needs, you should carefully rethink your choice. A horse is a huge responsibility and you cannot simply return the magnificent creature because you did not seriously research all your options and hastily chose a horse that will not fit into your lifestyle.

To find more information about selecting a horse, just log on to the Internet and visit locations such as to do a thorough search.

Step By Step Guide To Choosing The Right Dog Breed
Did you know that there are several hundred dog breeds? With that large number of breeds to choose from, how do people manage to decide which breed is right for them? Luckily, you can narrow down the choices and find the right dog breed by following a few simple steps.

First, consider your available space. Do you live in an apartment? If so, you will want to rule out large dogs. Look for dogs in the Toy group, such as Yorkshire Terriers, or some of the smaller dogs in the Terrier group, like the Miniature Schnauzer.

If you have children, you will want to consider the size of your dog, as well. Very small dogs, such as Chihuahuas or Maltese, can be very delicate and are often accidentally injured by young children. On the other hand, very large dogs, such as Boxers or Saint Bernards, can be overly boisterous as puppies and can accidentally turn your child into a human bowling pin. Consider medium sized breeds, such as Fox Terriers or Lhasa Apsos, instead.

Next, consider how much exercise you can give your dog. If you have a home with a fenced yard, your dog will be able to get some exercise on his own. However, dog breeds in the Sporting, Hound, and Herding groups are very high energy animals and you will need to have enough time to provide them with more intensive exercise. Plan to take a lot of long walks with your dog or go for a daily romp in the park. After all, these dog breeds were bred to work hard and don't do well unless they have a job to do or a way to burn off excess energy.

Finally, don't forget to consider grooming needs. Some dog breeds only need a half hour or so of grooming a week, while others need to be groomed for an hour a day. If you are short on time, don't buy a Standard Poodle or a Maltese, unless, of course, you plan to take your dog to a groom. Breeds like Boston Terriers or Whippets are good choices for people who don't have time to do a lot of grooming.

Once you decide which breed of dog you want, you will need to consider the age of the dog. Many people opt to buy a cuddly little puppy instead of an older dog. While puppies have not developed any bad habits, it will be up to the new owner to be sure that the puppy becomes housebroken and obedience trained. Older dogs are frequently already housebroken and usually have some obedience training. They are also more likely to be less hyper and less destructive. However, they can have behavioral problems or health problems that prompted the former owner to find them a new home.

Do you want to buy a puppy? If so, you will need to find a reputable dog breeder who has a litter of the breed you are interested in. Often, a good breeder will have a waiting list for puppies. If you aren't the patient sort, you may be tempted to buy a puppy from a pet store. However, many pet store puppies come from puppy mills and have genetic health defects, bad temperaments, or other problems. It is usually safest to buy a puppy directly from the breeder.

If you are interested in an older dog, you may want to visit your local animal shelter or call a breed rescue. These groups evaluate the dogs' health and temperament before adopting them out.

Once you've narrowed down the breed choices and have decided which dog is right for you, don't get too relaxed. After all, you still have one more important decision to make, what to name your new companion!

Advantages Of Bird Netting
Birds are one of the top problems of the agricultural production in the country. Not only do birds interrupt crops, they can also ruin your garden, the school’s playground, the parking lot in your work, and many more locations where birds exist.

There are many products that could help you with your problem. There are a number of pesticides and other machinery that could be used to prevent pest birds. But there are also many good birds that do not cause damage, and may even help to pollenate your crops and garden, or control smaller pests such as bugs. What, therefore, is the safest way to control the population of problem birds without interfering with the populations of the good birds? Bird netting is your answer.

Bird netting has many advantages, such as -

1. Health Issues

There have been studies that birds could give illnesses when droppings get in contact with people’s skin. Pigeons for example, carry infectious diseases. These pigeons could give people tuberculosis, flu, paratyphoid, Lyme-disease, Toxoplasmosis, and Encephalitis. By making sure that these pigeons do not spread their diseases, bird netting could put an end to your health worrying.

2. Protecting Plantation

Most birds tend to peck on your fruits, vegetables, and plants because they know that these are food. Do not underestimate the birds. Protect your plantation with bird netting, so your plants are fenced safely away from their prying beaks.

3. Save The Birds

The best advantage bird netting has is it is environmentally friendly. By making use of bird netting to protect your property, you are not killing the birds. You are simply covering up the location with a net for the birds to stay away. Unlike other methods of pest control, bird netting does not harm the birds. Pesticides and aroma repellants terminate the birds permanently. Plus, there are laws regarding the harming of birds like robins and blackbirds. Using bird netting, you are abiding the law!

4. Bird netting is versatile

- Large spaces such as buildings parks, and plantations
- Small spaces like backyard or a rose garden
- Agricultural farms and plants
- Impressive variety of bird netting products
- A single bird net can be used for as long as ten years
- Variety of colors
- Variety of materials available (usually polyethylene strings or steel, to withstand extreme weather conditions)
- Prices of bird netting range from $150 to $8000 dollars

Bird netting is the smartest and most affordable way to repel birds on your area. One final note - be aware that an absence of birds may cause your garden to be a safe haven for bugs and other smaller pests that would otherwise have been controlled had the birds have access to the area. Bird netting does not 100% guarantee the livelihood of your protected area.

Common Dog Diseases, Illnesses and Conditions
Like all pet animals, dogs too are prone to lots of diseases. To keep the dogs free from the diseases, they should be understood first and accordingly treated well with the assistance of the veterinarian. Some of the common dog diseases are discussed below:

Rabies: Rabies is a very common dog disease caused by a virus affecting the central nervous system of the dog. Rabies is known to be spread through saliva. There are several stages observed in the dogs. In the first stage the dogs are seen with a behavior change, in the second stage the dogs become very violent and in the third stage body parts of the dogs stop coordinating with each other. There is no cure till now for this deadly disease.

Bloat: This is a serious condition of the dog. The stomach of the dog gets twisted, which is due to over eating. The symptoms of bloat are restlessness and depression combined with dry heaves.

Distemper: It is considered to be the worst dog disease worldwide. This leads to fatal condition of the puppies up to 80 percent and adult dogs up to 50 percent. The common symptoms of this disease are congestion in the chest, coughing, diarrhea, gunky eyes, nasal discharge etc. At later stages it affects the nervous system of the dogs leading to paralysis. It is a highly contagious dog disease. It can be transmitted from the feces of the infected dog. This dog disease too does not have any cure.

Parvovirus: It is a very contagious disease affecting the intestinal tract of the dogs. It is also said to affect the heart of the dogs. The symptoms of this disease are severe diarrhea, depression, decrease of appetite. The feacel matter of the dog is found to be in a different color with blood stains. The symptoms appear within hours of the infestation and can even kill the dog within 2 to 3 days of infection. Hence, it is considered as a deadly disease.

Kennel Cough: It is very common among dogs. It is a kind of respiratory disease. This can be easily treated.

Canine Viral Hepatitis. This disease affects the liver, kidney and the blood vessels of the dogs. The common symptoms are profuse thirst, vomiting, hemorrhages, loss of appetite etc. This virus too spreads through the faeces of the dogs.

Leptospirosis: This disease is caused by bacteria and, even human beings get affected by the bacteria. There are several species of bacteria found to produce the disease in dogs. The common symptoms include lethargy, fever, kidney inflammation, clotting of blood and conjunctivitis. In more chronic conditions it can produce pneumonia, intestinal inflammation and jaundice.

Heartworm: Heartworms are a kind of parasites which multiply and grow, causing infection in the chambers of the heart and arteries of the lungs. The symptoms may start with mild cough, fatigue and lethargy. If it is not treated properly it can lead to congestive heart failure.

Retinal Dysplasia: Abnormal development of the retina is the disorder. This is very common in most of the dog breeds. The minor forms lead to vision problems and the acute forms leads to total blindness in dogs. Cataract can also accompany with this disorder.

Disposal of Aquatic Plants and Animals
Too many times non native plants and animals are released into the wild either unintentionally or because the aquarist can no longer care for them.

This poses a unique problem to many hobbyists…what exactly do I do with my aquatic plant/animal that I cannot care for? With the help of this wonderful thing that eats up most of my day (the internet, for you non-it people that actually work) I’ll try to cover some of the basics here…


Let’s say that John Q. Aquarist has an over abundance of a particular aquatic plant. “Whatever will I do with all of these plants?” John wonders. Well, there are a number of ways to safely dispose of these potentially invasive species, here are a few:

Burning: If allowed in your area, can be an excellent way of disposing of plants that have seeds.

Freezing or Drying: This will effectively destroy plants, but might allow seeds to survive. You can place them in a zipper type plastic bag and throw them away after this.

Composting: Like freezing or drying, this will also do the job of destroying the plant, but seeds can potentially survive to be carried off by birds or animals that might ingest the seeds.


John Q. Aquarist got up this morning and discover that his tank contained a huge batch of baby platies. “Ruh roh, what I’m going to do now? My tank can’t support this many fish!” John laments. Don’t worry, John, there is help!

Friends: If you have a friend that is into the wonderful world of fish keeping, perhaps he’d like some little guys. Use your head though: if he or she would like to have them, make sure you let your friend know the particulars about the species…it will just put your pal in the same position if he or she is not prepared.

LFS: If your LFS is like mine, they will take your unwanted pets…sometimes for a trade, sometimes not. Either way, it’s better than euthanizing or flushing. (Flushing is particularly cruel...a slow death is guaranteed by suffocation or poisoning)

Whatever you decide to do, never release them into the wild! Aquatic plants and animals could introduce diseases that the native population is not prepared for. At best, some species can out- compete the natives.

Some states have penalties for improper disposal of aquatic life. I hope this helps to answer some questions and prevent any unfortunate incidents.

If you have anything to add, by all means, do. In no way do I consider this definitive, so let’s see some other opinions!

(Remember, you can always contact your local Department of Natural Resources or Health Department for specific information for your area)

Getting Started with Discus
You've been to every local fish store in your area. You've spent hours online looking at Discus galleries. You've started thinking of things you can sell to pay for the Discus fish and aquarium set up. You've put your couch in the garage to make room for the aquarium. It sounds like you've been bitten by the Discus bug. Now, how do you get started?

There are as many opinions on how to properly raise Discus as there are websites devoted to them. You will find debates over planted tank vs. bare bottom, tap water or RO, what to feed them, how often to change the water and how much, it goes on and on. These debates contribute to making Discus keeping fun or a real pain. It really depends on your likes and dislikes. If you enjoy the excitement and challenge of learning something new and are able to successfully translate many different opinions into "what works best for you", then keeping Discus will be a fun rewarding undertaking which you can enjoy for years to come. With that being said, the following are some guidelines to what I've learned over the years and what works best for me in setting up a new Discus aquarium.

In choosing the tank, start with a minimum tank size of 50 gallons. Make sure you have a suitable place to set up your aquarium. You will want a very sturdy support for your tank which you will position in a location that doesn't receive direct sunlight. The filtration system will be made up of two extra large sponge filters run by an air pump along with an external box filter such as an Aqua Clear properly rated for your tank size and containing a pre-filter sponge on the intake tube. You will need a heater with a ratio of 5watts/gallon, meaning a tank size of 50 gallons would require a 250 watt heater. The tank needs to be covered and there are hood options available when you purchase your tank. You will want one with a lighting strip as well as a cover for the tank. In a pinch you can always pick up a piece of Plexiglass from your local hardware store and cut it to fit. In order to keep the tank clean and maintained, you will need a siphon hose, a five gallon bucket and a clean utility sponge.

Preparing for Your Discus' Arrival
You will want to have your aquarium cycled before adding your Discus. This means that the beneficial bacteria has been established in your filtration. There are many methods of cycling your tank so be sure to do your research and choose the option that fits for you. It is a very important step and is absolutely necessary. Putting your new Discus in a tank that hasn't been cycled is a death sentence for the fish.

Buying Your Discus Fish
An absolute must is starting with healthy Discus. If you are lucky enough to have a reputable breeder in your area you are ahead of the game. If not, mail order is also an exciting option. There's a real rush and excitement to having Discus delivered to your front door. Make sure to research any online vendor you may want to order from. There are some great breeders out there with a great selection. On the downside shipping usually runs from $50-$75 depending on the service. If mail order isn't an option and you are left with your local fish store you'll need to take some precautions and do your best to pick out healthy fish. If possible try to find a shop that specializes in higher end tropical fish and avoid chain stores. Find out what the shop's quarantine and guarantee policies are. Ask them how long the Discus should be quarantined once you get them home. If their answer is "you don't need to", this is a major red flag. Ask questions to get a feel for how well they support and care for their product.

So, what does a healthy Discus look like? Here a some things to look for in the Discus you buy:
When you walk by the tank, the fish should be active and come up to greet you. Avoid fish that are dark, hiding or hanging behind uplift tubes. The water in the tank and the tank itself should look clear and clean. If there are dead fish in the tank keep walking. Now, (if you haven't left the store) look at the fish, they should have a full body that doesn't look sunken and is free of scrapes, bumps, visible injuries and or parasites. The body shape should have a nice round appearance void of bent, stubbed tails and flat foreheads. Check the skin and make sure it doesn't have a dull, matte, or slimy look to it. The fins should look healthy and not have a cottony or milky appearance. The fins should be intact with no white specs or splits and not be clamped to the body. The Discus should be using both pectoral fins to move about. Watch for how the fish are breathing. An overly rapid gill rate or if the Discus looks to be gasping is a good sign of gill parasites. The fishes movement should be fluent and have no problem with balance. You don't want to pick a fish that can't hold itself level. The eyes of your Discus should have a healthy clean look to them. The eyes are a good indicator of how well it's been taken care of. You will want a fish with small eyes compared to its body with a centered pupil. Big or bulging eyes are usually a sign of neglect. Ask to see the Discus eat. Be wary if they feed live blood worms or tubiflex worms. Watch to make sure the fish are able to easily get the food into their mouth. Avoid fish that continually miss the food that is right in front of them or don't seem interested in eating. Most 2"-3" Discus wont have full body color or pattern at this size.

Installing Your Discus
For the proposed 50 gallon setup you will want to purchase from six to ten, two - three inch juvenile Discus. Young Discus like the security of numbers. Make sure you follow standard acclimation procedures and that your tank is fully cycled as stated above. As your fish grow and mature a pecking order will develop. Eventually the smaller weaker Discus will need to be removed in order to keep a 10 gallon to 1 Discus rule. In order to provide an easy way to keep a clean environment for your new fish, use a bare aquarium. That means no gravel or plants. The bare bottom tank makes it easy to vacuum fish waste and wipe down the glass. If you'd like, you can add a ceramic pot or two to give your Discus an anchor to establish territories but the pots will need to be moved and wiped down with your water changes to ensure they aren't trapping waste. Once a week you will want to clean your pre filter and every few weeks, your sponge and box filters, being careful to use de-chlorinated water as to not harm the beneficial bacteria. A good tip here is to syphon some tank water into your five gallon bucket and use that for your filter cleaning water.

Discus Water
Clean water is a crucial element in growing out your fish. You will want to match the water conditions as closely as possible to that of the source of your Discus. Daily changes of 50 to 60 percent is recommended and at least on an every other day schedule. You will want to provide new tap water that has been de-chlorinated and matches closely to the tank water in temperature at 84 degrees. Avoid using RO water for young Discus, they need the minerals of harder water to aid in there development. Once they have matured and if you're interested in breeding them you can dabble with softening their water. If you have purchased Discus from different places you will need to keep them quarantined separately for 4 - 6 weeks. Don't Cheat!

Feeding Your Discus
Your new Discus should greet you at the front of the tank with a voracious appetite. Happy healthy Discus are always hungry. You will want to break up their feedings over several times during the day adding up to six small feedings. Feed a variety of foods using quality brands of dry and frozen foods. A good tip is to feed dry foods which your fish may not like as much early when they're hungry from their overnight fast. Feed messy or frozen foods later in the day closer to your water changes.

The Discus hobby is a great one. It has its ups and downs just like anything. If you enjoy not only the beauty of the fish but actually watching their behavior, growth and and interaction, Discus keeping will stick with you. There's a lot to learn and this is just a small start. Make sure you do a lot of reading and ask lots of questions. Start with healthy Discus, keep their water and tank very clean, feed them well, and you're sure to succeed!

Grooming Man’s Best Friend
Proper grooming for your dog does not only have aesthetic purposes but also adds to your pet’s holistic growth – physical and psychological. Since dog hair can interlace due to dirt and grime in the coat forming mats and tangles, they would need to be groomed to keep proper hygiene. Plus grooming generates more bonding time with your pet, creating a stronger relationship.

It is best to train your dog to be groomed at an early age. But, an untrained dog can still be taught to accept all the attention. Train your pet to get used to his body parts being handled and brushed. You need not go to a professional groomer, but if you don’t have the time or the interest to groom your dog, be sure to select a groomer that handles the animals gently.

Things to Remember in Grooming your Dog

Make a daily examination of your pet’s body parts. Look out for bumps, hot spots, inflammation, irritation, vegetative matter, and parasites like fleas and ticks in his coat. Get rid of fleas by using a fine-toothed comb while ticks can be tweezed off. Ears should be checked – droop ears are inclined to infection which can lead to permanent hearing loss. Examine your companion’s pads – dirt, grime, pebbles, chemicals can get caught that can infect his paws.

Brushing doesn’t only remove mats, it also takes away dead hair, thus eliminating animal odor. Tangles can also be very painful for your dog that may lead to skin inflammation. Grooming during shedding encourages growth of new coat, so brush especially after physical exercise. Nails should be trimmed every month, especially if your dog has a hard time walking. Dental hygiene is maintained by using dog toothpaste and toothbrush with soft bristles twice a week. A damp cotton cloth is used to remove mucus from your dog’s eyes. While a coarse rug is appropriate in cleaning your pet’s face.

When bathing your pet, make sure that you brush away dead hairs first to clear all the mats in his coat. Soak your pet in warm water. Apply a pet shampoo in small amounts. Target areas are the eyes, ears, rectum, toes and under the chin. Avoid getting soap water into his eyes and ears. You also have an option to apply coat conditioner after bathing. Different breeds require varying bath frequency; consult the local pet grooming shop if you’re not sure how many times you should bath your dog.

It is recommended that a dog owner has his own home grooming kit. It includes a grooming brush, clippers for dog toenails, combs with varying teeth (fine, medium coarse), dog shampoo, coat conditioner, and a coarse rug.

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