Tips for Keeping Your Pet Birds Warm in Winter

As the weather cools down, it’s important to remember that birds need additional care in winter. Many of our exotic and pet bird breeds are originally from warm, tropical climates and cold temperatures can be a health challenge. Here are a few guidelines for pet bird owners to keep in mind during cooler temperatures that will help them keep their pet birds healthy and happy.

Bird owners should move the cage to a draft free location, away from windows and doors. Moving your bird’s cage to a central location in the home can make a big difference in keeping deadly drafts and cold air away from sensitive birds. Shrink-wrap insulation kits can be used on windows and unused doorways in winter to keep cold air out and warm air in. Increasing the humidity indoors in winter is also good for birds, eliminating dryness and excess dander.

Remember that birds are sensitive to smoke and fumes that can come from wood, gas or kerosene heaters. Some electric heaters are treated with a non-stick coating, which can create fumes that are deadly to birds. Some radiator-style electric heaters can be effective, but be sure to check on possibly harmful coatings.

Bird owners should definitely have a cage cover on hand. Covering the cage at night will help keep birds cozy. Some birds enjoy snugglies and snoozies to help keep them warm at night. Heat lamps can be used, and infrared bulbs will create a glow that does not interfere with the bird’s sleep cycle. It’s important to choose only a bird-safe heat lamp recommended for avian use. Pay attention to the bulbs used in the heat lamp – any bulbs coated with polytetrafluoroethylene can emit toxic fumes when overheated. There are also ceramic heating elements that can be used for birds – from those that clamp onto the cage to heat panels that are placed around the cage. These are specifically designed for animal and avian use. Infrared heat panels that attach to the cage are also an energy-efficient way to keep your bird cozy this winter.

In addition to keeping your bird warm, you’ll want to ensure that heating your home doesn’t result in a lack of humidity. If so, there are a few simple things you can do to provide the proper conditions for your bird. Regular baths, showers or light misting should be continued throughout the winter months. You can also increase humidity in the home by using a vaporizer or humidifier designed for birds. Other options include placing shallow pans of water on radiators or in the oven when you’re pre-heating it, or simply leaving the bathroom door open when you shower to allow the steam into the house.

Feeding your bird a healthy, vitamin-rich diet throughout the year will help boost its immune system and stay healthier despite changes in temperature. Bird owners should make sure the winter diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables to maintain optimal health.

Of course, keeping a watchful eye on pet birds throughout the winter is important. As you make changes to your bird’s environment, be on the lookout for signs of overheating, such as panting, extended neck or holding the wings away from the body. Also keep an eye out for signs of any health problems – exposure to cold temperatures can lower the bird’s immunity and result in illness. At any time of year, simple bird care and monitoring will ensure that pet birds stay healthy and happy.

What You’ll Have to Do When Finding the Best Pet Fish for Your Kids

If your kids really want a pet then you should start them off on the right path. Don’t just go and get them a cat or a dog. You need to see that your kids are responsible enough to handle a pet. Starting with fish can be a great idea as they are often a little easier to take care of than most other pets. They do require food and a need to maintain their environment but if your kids are able to take care of their pet fish and keep them alive for a while then they may be ready for a greater number of fish or even a larger pet.

The amazing thing about finding pet fish for your kids is that there are so many types of fish to choose from. Of course, your kids might want you to get the coolest-looking one that’s available. It might be fun to get something that’s vibrant in its appearance but you have to take a careful look at several aspects relating to pet fish.

You need to look at the size of the tank that you’re going to use. You can’t just use a traditional fish bowl to store your fish in. You should have a good-sized tank to use so you’ll have space for the fish to swim around in. A good tank should be around ten to twenty gallons in size. It will be enough to accommodate a few fish and their possible growth patterns.

Next, you need to think about the types of fish that you can get. One tip is to check on whether certain types of fish are going to be compatible with each other in the same tank. That is, you need to find fish that aren’t aggressive or likely to devour each other.

Take a look at the sizes of the mouths of the fish you’re interested in. If one fish in a tank is about the same size as the mouth of a larger fish in that same tank then you should avoid pairing them together as the larger one will probably eat that smaller one.

It might be easier for you to get smaller fish for your kids. Small fish require less food and are often easier to incorporate into a new environment.

You’ll have to think about the water conditions that pet fish in particular can enjoy. Some fish will benefit from conditions where the water is cooled off at a reasonable amount. Others will need a bit of salt in an environment to survive.

Finally, you’ll have to think about the types of illnesses that some fish may be more likely to suffer from. Some fish can suffer from illnesses that can cause them to become listless, have funny smells to them or even develop unusual spots on their bodies. You’ll need to see what can be done to take care of these problems too.

You need to be certain that your kids have the right pet fish. Be sure to prepare yourself and your kids for such fish by taking a look at what’s around. These fish can be great pets for kids if you know what you’re doing when getting them.

10 Things to Consider When Shopping for Betta Fish Tanks

Bettas are among the most interesting and low-maintenance fish you can keep. And their ability to breathe atmospheric oxygen and live in very small volumes of water allows them to be housed in a variety of small aquaria that can complement any home or office. However, there are some important considerations to bear in mind when shopping around for the perfect tank for your pet betta. Please read on as we discuss these issues and our own opinions on what to look for in a small betta tank.

Characteristics of The Best Betta Fish Tanks

1) Adequate Size

Yes, it’s true that a betta can live in a small bowl, if it had to. But this is not the most fulfilling life for such a regal fish. In addition, very small bowls are prone to heating and cooling extremely rapidly, as well as suffering quickly from pollution that can easily occur from even slight overfeeding. As a general rule of thumb, we suggest a minimum tank size of one gallon to keep one adult betta. Of course, your betta would be happy if you provided a larger aquarium, but a gallon container is generally sufficient so long as it is diligently maintained. Bettas can also be housed in community tanks, but take care not to keep them with fish that tend to nip fins. For example, tiger barbs are notorious for fin nipping, and will shred a betta’s fins very quickly. Shredded fins are not just a cosmetic issue, unfortunately, and a betta with badly torn fins can easily die from stress and/or secondary infections like ick/fungus.

2) A Good, Tight Fitting Cover

Bettas are not what I’d consider big time “jumpers,” but they can and will jump when given half a chance. Sometimes osmotic or other stress will cause them to jump, and sometimes they will leap simply because the can. To minimize any risk of such escape, for whatever reason, do yourself a favor and put a lid on the tank. Be careful though to leave some air space between the surface of the water and the cover as they are air breathers and need to gulp air occasionally.

3) No Strong Currents or Water Movement

This is a consideration that I often see overlooked, especially in some of the smaller betta tanks. Bettas have evolved to thrive in still or stagnant waters where this no little or no current. And, as a consequence of this design, they are unhappy when subjected to currents typically generated by hang on back filters or powerful aeration. Bettas require water that is either still, or very placid. They do not require aeration of any kind, especially when properly maintained and in a tank by themselves. If you do use a filter at all, make sure that the tank is large enough (e.g., 3 gallons or more) or the filter can be dialed down (e.g., an air release valve on an aquarium pump) such that the betta does not need to exert effort to maintain its position in the water column. If your betta is getting pushed around or fighting to stay still, it will put constant stain on the fish that can eventually lead to disease or death.

4) Bare Floor or Fine Substrates

Bettas don’t need or want any substrate in their tanks. In fact, bare bottom tanks are best for you and the betta since they facilitate easy clean up. If you do want to add some colorful gravel, however, keep it sparse and opt for relatively small grained types, rather than the large, marble-sized gravel that is often sold for small decorative bowls/tanks. Very course gravel makes a great trap for uneaten food, which then decays and causes potentially lethal ammonia spikes. Finer gravel (pea-sized or smaller) allows the fish to get at food that lands on the bottom, and still allows you to see when food is left uneaten and needs removal – both of which is better for your fish.

5) Regular Light Cycles

Fish, like most vertebrates, react profoundly to light cycles. As a species that lives close to the equator, your betta will expect a photoperiod of roughly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. If you don’t use artificial lighting, you don’t need to provide any, but avoid turning the lights on late at night when your fish is preparing to “sleep.” Also, try to purchase a tank that uses LED lighting. LED lights are by far the most efficient and long-lasting type you can buy, and also generate the least amount of unwanted heat.

6) Warm Temperatures

Unlike goldfish, for example, which can thrive in very cold water, betta are a very tropical fish. In their native waters of Southeast Asia, they rarely experience temperatures below 76 F. Consequently, you should always aim to keep your bettas at a minimum temperature of 72F, with a temperature of 78F being ideal. Bettas can certainly withstand cooler temps for short durations, but extended exposure to water temperatures below 72F make them lethargic and highly vulnerable to infections and diseases, particularly fin rot, ick, and fungus.

7) Individual Housing

Although female bettas can be kept together, males cannot be kept with other males or females. The only exception to this rule is if you are attempting to breed bettas, in which case the male will tolerate the female (grudgingly) only until the eggs are laid, after which time he will attack and kill her if the tank is not large enough for her to escape his line of sight.

8) Good Water Quality

Whatever you do, you must keep a betta’s water clean. This means that periodic water changes should be conducted, which involve removing any debris from the bottom of the tank. A good rule of thumb is to change between 30-50% of the water per week. This keeps the water fresh without changing things too drastically. Make sure to use dechlorinated water and try to match the temperature of the new water to the old water.

9) Placement in a Calm Area, Away From Direct Light

You wouldn’t want to live next to a 6-lane highway, and neither would your betta, so keep the tank somewhere away from heavy foot traffic. It’s difficult enough living your life in a small transparent container, don’t make matters more stressful by locating the tank where your betta will be subject to constant movement and/or vibrations. Also, locate the tank away from direct sunlight, which can cause rapid temperature spikes and encourage algae growth.

10) Simplicity!

If you’ve chosen a tank of sufficient size, keep the betta by itself, maintain proper temperatures and keep up with regular water changes, there’s not much else you need. Be wary of vendors that try to sell lots of accessories for beta-only tanks, like sophisticated filters, lighting, etc. These things are usually unnecessary.

Top Tips For Cleaning A Bird Aviary

A bird aviary in your backyard can do wonders to the overall ambiance of the area. This can be situated within a garden as part of the design or a focal point. Many people who love to keep and breed various species of birds will tell you that this is no easy hobby to take. You will need to keep this enclosure clean at all times to ensure the health and safety of the birds and their young.

If clean-up time is a struggle for you, it is best to have a schedule and routines to follow. A daily clean-up is a must to keep diseases and germs at bay. What usually goes on during a daily clean-up are as follows:

[1] Cleaning of feeders and bird baths
Cleaning up of bird feeders, water dishes, and bird baths should be done on a daily basis. This is not just to provide fresh water and bird seeds, but also to keep away germs from developing over time. If you’ve set up a weekly schedule, it is best to still include these items during clean-up time.

[2] Set up a routine for you to follow and for the birds to get used to

Having a cleaning routine helps the birds from experiencing too much stress. It is also important that you’re the one who always do the clean up to also prevent stress and anxiety among the birds. As your pet birds become familiar and used to your presence, it will be easier to get in and out of their abode anytime.

[3] Use a corner of the aviary to isolate the birds

When things are still stressful for your pets, it is best to use a separator to isolate them from the area that’s being cleaned. Dedicate a corner for the birds whenever you need to clean up their living space and make sure it is cleaned first before they are enclosed in this portion. This usually helps in reducing restlessness and anxiety among birds, and it truly is beneficial especially when there are hatchlings.

[4] Use mild disinfectant when cleaning

You can dilute a strong disinfectant in buckets of water. If you like it chemical-free, you can use vinegar or baking soda instead. Wipe clean the bird boxes, perches, walls, and other dirty parts of the enclosure. On a daily basis, you can also do this especially on the most soiled or dirtiest portions of the aviary; otherwise, you can schedule on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule.

To help you clean up faster, it is best to put old news paper on the floor for the bird droppings and other mess. You can just collect the sheets everyday in the afternoons and replace with new sheets for the following day.

It is a huge responsibility to keep any kind of animal as a pet. If you love birds and lots of them, be prepared to do regular clean-up to help keep your pets healthy and happy.

What Are the Different Types of Marine Tanks?

All in all there are 4 Main types of Marine Aquariums:

1. Fish only setup
This setup is just the water and the fish, easy to maintain, but relies more on you doing water changes to keep the fish healthy. I know this setup sounds boring but if you lead a busy life and would still like to enjoy your Marine Aquarium after you come home after a hard day, then this setup is for you. Fish only setups can still look just as nice as a live rock and coral setup. You can get decorative rocks, corals, sand and even add what people call a clean-up crew which consist of snails, shrimps and hermit crabs, this setup in general is very low maintenance.

2. Fish with live rock
This setup is slightly different to the fish only setup, because instead of adding ornamental rocks your adding Live Rock – live rock is from the sea, and is made from limestone and decomposing coral skeleton, and are covered with good algae which is beneficial for the eco system in your tank, you can get anything from snails, crabs to starfish that hitch a ride from the sea on this rock which later end up in your tank. Live rock tanks also lay the foundation and give you the option to turn your live rock tank into a reef tank.If you want to see more marine life and don’t mind putting in a bit more work and doing a bit more maintenance then a fish with live rock setup is for you.

3. Reef Setup
A reef tank setup is the most rewarding tank of all setups, this tank is a replica of the sea, it has all kinds of sea life corals, live rock, sand, hermit crabs, starfish and sea snails etc. Everything in a reef tank is living. These tanks are harder to keep, but don’t be put off, with the right information it is possible for you to get a reef aquarium setup and running. Reef tanks require a lot more maintenance than fish only and live rock tanks. So if you want to have the ultimate sea experience in your home, want to see more marine life and are fascinated by the life under the sea, then this tank is for you.

4. Nano Reef Setup
Everything about a Nano reef tank is the same as a normal reef tank, all but the size. A Nano tank is a miniature version of any tank setup, these tanks sound easy due to their size but the truth is there is less margin for error, the reason I say this is because the tank is so small things can change very quickly; for example because there is only a small volume of water in the tank, the water temperature can change much quicker than in a larger tank that has a larger volume of water. People who start with a miniature Nano tank are more likely to have success with a larger tank later on the reason being they are more aware of the needs and demands due to their being less room for error. But don’t be put off by this, one of the first marine tanks I ever owned was a Nano reef tank, with enough research and the correct information these tanks can be a joy to keep and extremely rewarding.