What Is The Best Food For Tortoise Health?

Good nutrition for your tortoise is essential to maintain optimum health. Understanding what food for tortoise health is best requires some understanding of what specific needs your particular kind of tortoise requires.

Most tortoises are of course herbivores but this does not mean you can just get away with feeding him a few limp lettuce leaves and the occasional tomato. There are 8 elements to good nutritional health and it is up to you to provide these. They include, water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. All work together to prevent illness and promote growth.

Many manufacturers who produce food for tortoises will claim they supplement their feed with essential vitamins and minerals but you should also provide fresh vegetation and occasional fruit whenever possible. Not only will this broad diet be more healthy it will be more interesting for your pet.

A few fresh vegetable you could choose

  • broccoli
  • kale
  • spinach

Also some fruits

  • Apple
  • Peeled banana
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries.

Tortoises are herbivores and if you do some research into where in the natural world your kind of tortoise would normally live this will give you an idea of what sort of foods to provide. Be careful not to feed your tortoise too many plants from the cabbage family as they can interfere with the thyroid function and calcium absorption. They are an excellent source of nutrition but just give them in small amounts every couple of weeks or so.

If you have a Hermann’s tortoise which naturally lives in arid grass lands they will enjoy grazing on grasses, weeds, and succulent plants. If you have a Russian or Horsfield tortoise these like to eat fleshy vegetables such as squashes and aubergine or zucchini, they also enjoy fruit and some flowers. A sulcata tortoise enjoys hay and cactus as well as some succulents fruit and grated vegetables.

It is not difficult to provide a nutritious and interesting diet for your tortoise it just takes a little thought and planning. If you have an outside enclosure you could grow some fresh vegetables and plants for your tortoise to munch on. They will enjoy foraging as if in their wild natural environment and this will help them to keep mentally healthy and physically well.

Specially manufactured food which you can buy from pet shops will be quite adequate as it does usually have vitamins and minerals added but the best food for tortoise health and well being is a mixture of this plus natural and fresh vegetables and fruit.

What Are the Ideal Water Conditions for Healthy Koi?

There will certainly be a lot of differing opinions on the best water conditions for koi but one thing remains constant: poor water quality leads to a host of other health problems that are certainly avoidable with proper care. Because stress originates from poor water quality, follow these guidelines for healthy water and healthy koi.

Dissolved Oxygen

Oxygen levels should be at a minimum of 5.0 mg/L for koi. In the fish world, there is some variation with the tolerable level of dissolved oxygen in the water but 5.0 is a good baseline. As a reference, 5.0 is the minimum for koi and 18 mg/L is the physical maximum that water can hold. Just as a reminder though, cold water can hold more dissolved oxygen than warmer water so higher summer temperatures (and overcrowded ponds) will lead to lower dissolved oxygen, which is really when you will want to pay attention to it the most. Oxygen becomes dissolved into your koi pond in several ways. At the very surface there is limited diffusion occurring between the atmosphere and the water and that accounts for only a small amount of dissolved oxygen. Turbulence will also agitate the water enough to generate dissolved oxygen in your pond and this often comes in the form of falling water as from a small water fall. A tried and true and popular way to increase the dissolved oxygen in a koi pond is by an air stone on the bottom of the pond or by spout or fountain shooting water up into the air.

pH

Okay, back to chemistry class everyone because its time to discuss pH. As you may recall pH has something to do with acids. It’s all about acidity and alkalinity. The pH scale is a logarithmic one meaning when your pond jumps from 7 (neutral) to 6, its not simply getting a little bit more acidic, its getting 10 times more acidic. Conversely, when your pond tests at 7.5 and then gets increasingly alkaline by jumping to 9.5, then your pond just got 100 times more alkaline (10 times 10). So it’s a big deal when your pH changes and can definitely affect your koi in negative ways. pH, or power of Hydrogen, should range in your pond somewhere between 6.8 and 8.2 but do your best to keep it as stable as possible.

Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates

As you may recall, the general cycle of waste in your pond starts with ammonia excreted by your fish then bacteria and oxygen break it down to nitrites which later get broken into nitrates then free nitrogen. Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates all have the ability to cause health problems for your koi if their levels are not kept in check. Along with other health problems, ammonia can essentially burn your fish’s gills and reduce its ability to extract dissolved oxygen from the water. High nitrites can damage your koi’s kidneys and nervous system and high nitrates, for extended periods, can cause your fish’s immune system to be compromised. Ammonia and nitrites and the most troublesome when it comes to health problems for your koi but don’t underestimate the power of nitrates over long periods of time. Here is a guideline for these three water chemistry measurements.

-ammonia: levels should be zero. Depending on your pH, you can get away with 0.5ppm (parts per million) or 1 ppm for a short period of time but keep in mind that above a pH of 8.0 ammonia becomes more toxic.

-nitrites should be less than 0.25 ppm but ideally you should have a reading of zero.

-nitrates: a reading of 20 to 60 ppm is acceptable.

Salinity

The use of salt in koi ponds has, for long time, been a tried and true method to deal with various water quality and health problems that arise. Some of the benefits of salt is that its a cheap way to keep some disease at bay, control algae and may also lower nitrite toxicity. Additionally, salt plays a part in the osmotic pressure between the fish and the outside aquatic environment. There is a differential between the solute concentration of the fish’s blood and the fresh water that it swims in so the addition of salt actually lowers that concentration differential and makes it easier on the fish by reducing the amount of work its body has to do. A salinity of up to 5 ppt (parts per thousand) or 0.5 % is acceptable.

Temperature

Temperature obviously plays a big role in the overall health of your pond and it warrants your attention. Temperature can exacerbate existing problems, especially higher temperatures. For example, warmer water holds less dissolved oxygen and ammonia can be more toxic. Although koi can handle temperatures of between 35 and 85 F degrees its best to keep your fish in water that ranges between 65 and 75 F degrees. And as with pH, try to avoid large temperature swings.

Horses And Safe Trailering

My first recollections about moving horses were how anxious and uncertain I was. Of course, this translated into anxious horses unwilling to load. In time and with much practice I began to read horses and work with them. I now recognize that for owners and horses it can be a difficult time. When working with horses, teaching them to load and learning about proper trailering is an area that each of us needs to spend more time.

When at the Symposium, a horse owner, Charles, asked how to get started. Here’s what I have learned. Babies can be loaded with mom onto a trailer almost daily when they are young. They accept it as a normal part of their lives and become easy loaders when they get older. With yearlings, two year olds and adult horses, I’ve begun working with them by putting a trailer in their paddock or field and feeding them out of the trailer, moving the feed further and further into the trailer over time. The space will become comfortable to them and they can begin to be led onto and off of the trailer. If you do this with a tag trailer (one pulled behind a tow vehicle), please hitch the trailer to a vehicle or tractor. A horse can flip an unattached tag trailer.

There are two secrets that will make loading horses much easier. Have you ever been to a hunter or jumper show? Where do riders get their first refusal? I’ve found that it happens at the first jump and it has everything to do with a rider being tense or uncertain and the horse senses that. It’s the same with loading a horse. If you are tentative or uncomfortable, the horse will tune into that and refuse to load. I purposely relax and think that I’m going to load this horse with no difficulty. I mentally say that I’m going to keep this horse safe. I’ve watched horses visibly relax when I’ve done this. I tell folks that it’s assertiveness training. I find that if I have an expectation, the horse will respond (I hope that it is an effort on the horse’s part to please me) and load. The second secret is, if you can get a horse’s head and neck in a trailer, they will load. Horses by their nature are animals of flight. They imagine lions and tigers in every dark place. If you can make a trailer bright inside by turning on lights etc, you make the trailer less of a foreboding place. Encouraging them to look in so that they feel safe and you being confident will make it easier for your horse to load.

What Size Fish Tank Should You Get?

What size tank?

Choosing the right size tank is the first decision you will come up against in this hobby; what tank you choose is all down to personal preference. The tank you choose will be the foundation of your very own Marine Aquarium. It’s good to get this right the first time. If you do, it will save you a lot of time and money. The reason I say this is because people buy a tank and then later on realize that they want a bigger one, so if you know what type of setup you want before you buy your tank you have more of a chance of making the right decision on the size. In a previous article we spoke about the different types of Marine setups, now you know what setup you are going to have you need to decide what size aquarium you want, now comes the part where you have to ask yourself questions, Where is it going to go? How much space do I have? Of course you are limited to what size house you have, and by space, also how much do you want to spend? Fish tanks can range from ?100 to over ?1000, how much you spend is down to you. Before you start it’s good for you to know owning your own Marine Aquarium is no cheap hobby.

Hopefully After reading this article you will come to the conclusion on what size marine tank you want.

What shape?
Depending on what type of setup you are having different shaped tanks will have their own effects.

Tall tanks
Tall tanks have the effect of height; this is nice on a reef tank because it allows you to create different shelf levels to place corals with different lighting needs. The Lighting needs to penetrate through to the bottom, so strong lighting is recommended.

Bow fronted tanks
These tanks give a lovely magnifying effect and the illusion that the tank is bigger than what it is.

Cube tanks
Cube tanks are great for compact spaces; they also provide a 360 degree view of everything in the tank, not great for big fish as swimming space is limited.

Standard Rectangle tanks
These tanks are the best choice for reef aquariums as they have space for everything, you can have big reef fish and there is plenty of room to aqua scape the tank the way you want it.

Corner tanks
These tanks are great space savers. They have a very modern feel and make great show tanks due to their shape because they have a custom made look to them. These tanks are surprisingly spacious.

Decorating An Outdoor Fish Pond

I must admit that in the slightly over a decade that I have been decorating aquarium, I have only actually decorated less than half a dozen outdoor fish ponds. It’s not that I do not have the confidence in doing so. It is just that in most cases, outdoor fish pond design and decorating has always fallen into the area of landscape designers.

A fish pond poses its own set of considerations which are vastly different from an aquarium. Therefore, decorating it must be planned and handled differently as well.

The first issue of a fish pond is the visual perspective. An aquarium will be viewed from the front and sides. Therefore, when designing an aquarium theme, you would place ornaments and arrange them for this perspective. However, fish ponds are viewed from the top. The ornaments that you place inside the pond needs to be those that are visually pleasing when viewed from above. Placing an ornament that has intricate details on its side defeats any decorative purpose.

The second factor also has to do with the visual aspect. Depending on how deep your pond is, placing low lying decoration might not be a good idea. This is because the deeper the pond is, the less light the bottom gets and having decor lying low at the bottom would make it almost invisible when viewed from outside the water. This is one of the reasons why most fond designers incorporate decorative items on the outside of the pond, rather than submerged inside.

One last issue would be the weather. Unlike an aquarium which is placed in the comfort of your home, outdoor ponds are exposed to the fury of the weather. The ornaments that your choose to decorate them must be created to withstand harsh natural conditions. These include the scorching sun, the pouring rain and in certain regions, freezing cold. Decor that are not designed for this onslaught would easily fade and crack when exposed to it.

Tips On Designing An Outdoor Fish Pond

The key here is to first keep in mind the three major considerations above. Make your selection of each individual item based on these factors.

Pick out a theme that is suitable for an outdoor theme. Some really cool theme ideas include Fairies and Mermaids. There are dozen of such ornaments that you could get that have been designed specifically for an outdoor pond. You could also use figurines of animals that can be found by or in the water such Turtles, Herons, Dolphins, Crocodiles and Hippos to name a few.

An awesome idea is to try to get ornaments that actually look like they are interacting with the water. This would include such figurines as Fishermen, Little Kids Tinkling Into The Water or Maidens With Vases. Many of these have pumps that flow the water through them and pours out from them back into the pond.

Apart from rocks to provide cover for the fish, you really do not need any submerged decor. Having little or no decorative items inside the water will make it a whole lot easier to clean.

Incorporating Aquatic Plants Into Your Pond Design

Being outdoors creates an ideal condition for plants. The plants would receive sufficient sunlight and will thrive in the water. Also, placing plants inside the pond has a lot more benefits other than just being visually pleasing. The floating plants which live on the surface of the water provides shade and cover for the fish. This is extremely important especially when you have fry that have to hide away from the adult fish.

The plants also provides competition against algae growth. By competing for sunlight and nutrients in the pond, these aquatic plants would starve the algae and limit their growth.

Saltwater Fish Tanks For Beginners

What is the best saltwater fish tank for beginners to the hobby? There is no perfect answer to that question. Most mistakes when starting a marine aquarium are similar to mistakes made in freshwater tanks. Patience, patience, patience. All too often, beginner aquarists aren’t patient and lose a lot of money and fish in the process. When many aquarists in the world of freshwater fish make a mistake and have a loss of fish, it doesn’t hurt quite so bad in the wallet. While a mistake in a saltwater tank, can be very costly. As with any aquarium, saltwater aquariums must go through a cycle period that allows the beneficial bacteria to accumulate to a point that the waste from the fish and possible overfeeding can be eliminated. This cycle period, left to its natural processes, can take any where from 4 to 6 weeks after setup and initial stocking of damsels or cardinals, which can handle the poor water quality during the cycle. If the beginner hobbyist wishes to have a tank with live rock, FOWLR or reef, then the rock can be used instead of damsels or cardinals to cycle the tank.

Now that that has been said, the question still remains. What is the best saltwater fish tank for beginners? The best tank will be one that is well thought out in advance. Do your due diligence and make sure you understand the basics of what is expected of you. It’s more than just setting up an aquarium, putting fish in, and feeding. Without proper regular maintenance, the fish will get stressed and become sick or die. Just like any pet, fish rely on you for everything that will help them to thrive and survive.

Because most parasites and harmful bacteria multiply exponentially, a small tank, especially for a beginner, is a bad choice. In a larger tank, at least 50 gallons but bigger if you can afford it, if you see something wrong on the fish you have a bit more time to correct the problem, either by water change or medication. In a small tank, by the time you notice an issue, it is often too late to save your fish.

Just as in a freshwater tank, the beginner setup in saltwater is usually best as a community aquarium. By choosing non-aggressive fish that get along, you avoid the hassle of fish that chase and intimidate each other for territory, thus causing stress and possible death. It is also much easier to introduce a new fish to the tank if all of the existing fish are mellow. Aggressive tanks have fish with more attitudes and it is not uncommon to watch a new fish be pestered to death or killed outright by the existing fish. Typically, an aggressive tank is setup by the experienced aquarist that knows the personalities of the fish and whether they can get along.

Most beginners do very well with yellowtail damsels, green chromis damsels, pajama cardinals, yellow tangs, dwarf angels such as pygmy angels or flame angel, sleeper gobies, etc. Ask your local fish store or pet shop for information on what fish will get along with what you want to have in your tank.

For the beginner in saltwater fish keeping, it is important to have a proper setup that gives the fish the best chance at thriving in your tank. Filtration, substrate, quality of salt that you choose, lighting if you have live rock, are all important factors in your initial setup. But just as important is the care that is taken to maintain the aquarium. Maintenance at regular intervals is what makes the difference in a successful tank and one that ends up in the backyard or at a garage sale. Be prepared to go slow during the cycle at the beginning and don’t over stock or overfeed and you will do fine.

4 Of the Most Interesting Snakes of Australia

Australia is a great place for reptile lovers. It has a high population of snakes, and though many are not deadly to humans, a good number are. Oddly enough, though, very few snake related deaths are reported each year there. If you go hiking, you might see some of these interesting snakes. Just remember to look and not touch.

Because it is so venomous, the most infamous Australian snake is the Taipan. It can grow to nearly 10 feet long. One of them, the Coastal Taipan, is indigenous to the northeastern coast near Queensland. It is considered the third deadliest snake in the world, and if bitten by one, death can occur within 30 minutes. Fortunately, scientists have developed anti-venom to prevent that if administered soon enough. If this snake bites you, you had better hope that you have the anti-venom with you, or that you are less than a half-hour away from medical help.

The continent is home to several sea snakes, too. One genus of this dangerous reptile is the Olive Sea Snake, which is venomous. This snake can grow to over 6 feet long, and it has a strong, brownish colored body with shades of lilac. It prefers the coral reefs, lagoons and rocky shores in Australia’s northern region. It is uncommon for it to attack, but it will if it feels threatened.

In Western Australia, you might encounter the potentially lethal Dugite. Unlike many of the other snakes found in remote areas, this one frequents areas inhabited by humans, even backyards. This is unfortunate because they are so dangerous. Females have no issues with eating the males, so they certainly would not hesitate to bite a human – especially an unsuspecting child.

Northern Australia has a snake that grows to be 10 feet long and gets as thick as the fat end of a baseball bat. It is the King Brown Snake, and it is very venomous and dangerous; so much so, that humans cannot get close enough to it to kill it with a gardening tool: They have to stone it or shoot it.

This list of interesting snakes of Australia is a good start for you should you decide to go on a scavenger hunt for them. These are by no means all of the snakes from that region, and certainly not all of those that are venomous. Considering that there are more venomous species there than non-venomous, you would do well to wear tall, thick boots on your excursion.

Types Of Aquarium Accessories for a Fish Tank

An aquarium with the right type of accessories can add to the habitat of the fish and make it a lovely piece of decoration at home. As there are various types of aquarium accessories made available today, choosing the most essential and right type of product can be quite a perplexing task. However, there are a few tips which can be considered while choosing different types of fish tank products.

Essential Accessories:

Pumps: It is one of the most important fish tank accessories that help the fish to survive and stay healthy in the tank. The pump helps to circulate oxygen in the water.

Filters: Every fish tank requires a filter system which can filter the water in the tank so that it is free from contaminants and impurity. There are various types of filters made available today so it is important to choose products according to the size of the tanks and the number of fish in it.

Ornaments: There are a huge plethora of ornaments or embellishments that can be added to the fish tank to enhance its overall appearance. Most of these ornaments can be bought even from online stores at affordable prices. It is available in different sizes, shapes, colors and designs to suit different types of tanks.

Plants: Using living plants in a fish tank has many beneficial features. Various types of plants can be used in these tanks to add to the beauty of the tank and the health of the fish.

Water Additives: There are various types of additives which can be used in the fish tank so that it remains healthy. However, different types of solutions are used for different types of water.

Rocks: Another variety of embellishment is the rocks which are specifically manufactured for these tanks. Most of the online and offline stores showcase a huge plethora of rocks in different sizes, shapes, colors and styles to suit different types of tanks. Some of the most common varieties include lace rocks, rainbow rocks and so forth. Various types of corals are also used as aquarium accessories as it adds to the beauty of the tanks.

Lights: Proper lighting is another important aspect to consider while installing tanks. Today there are various options to consider such as LED lights, fluorescent lights and so forth. These lights are available in different soft colors and features. There are lights which can be dimmed whenever required.

It is important to choose accessories according to the type of water used in the fish tank. Some products suit fresh water tanks whereas some products are ideal for salt water tanks only.

With the improvement in technological features, a wide range of aquarium accessories have been launched into the markets these days. It is essential to choose the right type of product as per the requirement of the tank. It is possible to maintain healthy fish with the right type of accessories. Cleaning the tank on a regular basis is equally important so as to extend the life of the fish.

Facts About Duck Boxes

One of the best ways to attract wild ducks is through the use of a duck box. The use of the box is particularly to boost the number of ducks in several local populations. Before, wood ducks are abundant in several parts of the United States. However, due to constant hunting their numbers gradually declined. Constant hunting and land reclamations have nearly caused the extinction of this type of bird. Now, because of the changes in the law the wood ducks have increased in numbers. Wild ducks often use the boxes as homes and they often lay eggs on such boxes.

The Importance of the Boxes

The importance of the boxes is that most wood ducks and other duck species usually make it their home. Yes, duck females typically live in wetlands and in wooden boxes. Because of their constant migration, they require homes in various places. When a prospective wooden box is found, the wood duck will often inspect the box and check its contents. Wood ducks often pick their boxes according to their size and shape. Of course, they will also pick a home which is away from any predators. Once they have selected a suitable box for them they will often lay eggs there. The eggs will hatch and then they will then migrate to another location. Basically, a duck box is effective increasing the population of both wooden ducks and other species.

Picking the Right Location for a box

In order to pick the right location for a box, several factors should be strictly considered. One of which is that the box should be away from any known predator which might endanger the tenants of the box. Therefore, the box should have wooden posts and several metal cables in order to prevent any predators from eating the birds. The box should also be found near a suitable habitat and it should not be very far. Usually, wild ducks prefer homes which are a hundred yards away from their habitat. The reason for which is that they require the fertile wetlands for food and for looking for a partner. The shallow wetlands allow them to look for insects and small fishes which in turn becomes their meal.

Using the right materials

Another important factor when making a duck box is to choose the right wood for the job. The ideal type of wood is the rough cut and unfinished lumber since the ducklings have the sharp claws to create an exit hole. Metal or plastic boxes are not ideal since they might impede the ducklings from exiting the structure. At least a couple of wood shavings should also be inserted on the box so that the ducks will have a nest. Once the females see the wood shavings, they will usually use it in order to incubate their eggs. After the winter season, the boxes should have a new batch of wood shavings since the old batch will be damaged by the harsh weather brought about by the winter cold.

Here’s What You Need To Know About Equine Feed Balancers

In this article I would like to share with you some useful information about equine feed balancers. The fact is that nowadays there are hundreds if not thousands of different types of equine supplements and supplement formulations.

Do a simple search on Google, Amazon or eBay for horse supplements and in a split second you will get thousands of results: garlic supplements, digestive aids, equine joint supplements, calmers and etc. Out of all of these different types of equine supplements that you can buy today there are only a couple that are proven and tested by time and equine feed balancers is something that you should seriously look into if you want your horse to look and feel great.

Before we’ll dive into specifics about why you should be using equine feed balancers let me point out one important fact. You see, there are dozens of equine companies nowadays bombarding us with ads of their latest products and they all say the same thing – that their product is the best. The truth is that there are only a couple of really good equine supplements that can actually help your horse and equine feed balancers is one of them.

So how can equine feed balancers help your horse?

First of all they will improve your horse’s digestive system. You see quite a lot of horses nowadays have very inefficient digestive systems and their nutrient uptake is relatively bad and this is the primary reason why so many horse’s nowadays suffer from nutrient deficiency.

As a result of nutrient deficiency quite a lot of horses tend to lose topline and condition, they struggle to maintain weight and in general they do not look and feel very well. The easiest way to help your horse out is to improve the efficiency of your horse’s digestive system which will lead to an increased nutrient uptake. This is where equine feed balancers come into play. Feed balancers contain pre and pro biotic which increase the amount of friendly bacteria in the horse’s gut. These friendly bacteria allow the horse to breakdown nutrients faster which leads to an improved efficiency of the digestive system.

In addition to this such supplements also help to ensure healthy, scurf free skin and a glossy gleaming coat.

Some balancers formulations might even contain glucosamine. Glucosamine is an active ingredient that quite often is found in equine joint supplements, but some more premium balancers contain this active ingredient, simply because it is proven to strengthen and support horse’s joints.

In short, feed balancers are just like multi-vitamin supplement for humans: not everyone needs them, not everyone takes them, but they are designed to provide all of the essential nutrients to make your horse look and feel great.