The majority of ponds or aquaria contain a range of species, each of
which is likely to require a unique diet. As these individual fish species
grow and begin to reproduce the dietary requirements of each species
is likely to change. Furthermore the presence of a range of species is
likely to affect the feeding behaviour of almost every other species that
are held within the same tank or pool. Providing a range of feeds that
are able to match the individual dietary requirements of every species
of fish throughout the course of their entire life represents one of the
most challenging aspects of fish keeping.
The single most important factor that affects the energy requirement of a fish is water temperature. An increase in water
temperature will increase the body temperature of the fish, which will, in turn, speed up the metabolic reactions and increase the
energy requirements of the fish. Consequently, the amount of food required by a fish will increase as water temperature begins to
rise and will decrease as water temperature starts to drop. As most species of tropical fish are kept at a constant temperature, the
aquarist can match the energy requirements of fish by simply feeding their fish with as much feed as they can consume over within
two or three minutes on two or three occasions per day. The seasonal variation in water temperatures will require the pool keeper
to vary the amount of food provided to their fish over the course of a year. Many successful pool keepers use will feed their fish
two or three times per day during the summer, will slowly reduce the amount of feed as water temperatures decline and will stop
feeding altogether when water temperatures fall below 100C or 50C.
Fish require protein in their diet to supply those enzymes
required to regulate metabolic processes and provide the
basic structure required for growth and repair of body
tissue. Although the exact protein requirement of moat
fish has yet to be established, most fish require diets with
35 – 50% of protein. Small, fast growing tropical fish with
high metabolic rates are likely to require a higher
proportion of protein within their diet than large, slow
growing cold-water pool fish. Whilst the health problems
associated with feeding too little protein may be easily
predicted, the consequences of feeding too much protein
are often overlooked.
Fish that are presented with a diet that contains more
protein than they require for the growth or repair of body
tissue may begin to metabolise these excess proteins as
a source of energy. The waste product associated with
the metabolism of protein as source of energy is
ammonia, which is then excreted into the water
surrounding the fish and results in a decline in water
Feeding too much protein may also result in the fish storing a high proportion of fat within its body tissues or organs. Many recent
studies appear to suggest that a high protein diet may even be related to a build up in fats within the cardiac blood supply and
could even result to an increase incidence of cardiac problems.
The quality of dietary protein will also have an impact upon the health of a fish. Proteins may be regarded as being composed of a
number of building blocks known as amino acids. Poor quality proteins are unlikely to contain the balance of amino acids required
to support healthy metabolism and are likely to result in a range of health problems such as stunted growth, poor colouration or
even reduced breeding efficiency.
The ecological impact associated with the use of dietary proteins is now being appreciated. The traditional source of most proteins
has been fish meal derived from by catches or ‘trash fish’ composed of such species as sardines, sprats or anchovies.
Unfortunately, the demand for high quality fish meal for aquaculture or pet foods has led to many of these fisheries being over
fished and a dramatic increase in costs. Consequently, many fish feed manufacturers have begun to search for alternative sources
of proteins from sources such as plants such as soya bean.
Unlike mammals, fish do not appear to require a dietary source of carbohydrates and only appear to have a limited ability to utilise
it as a source of energy. However, carbohydrates do appear to form an important role within the diet of most species of fish. Diets
that lack carbohydrates require the fish to digest many other dietary components such as proteins and fats to provide various
Essential compounds that are usually supplied by carbohydrates. Generally, warm water fish appear to be able to digest more
carbohydrates than cold-water or marine fish and that most species of fish are able to digest more carbohydrate in warmer water
when compared to the same species being retained in colder water. There is also some evidence to suggest that larger amounts
of dietary carbohydrates may be associated with ‘stickier’ faecal pellets, making them more difficult to flush out of the pool or
aquarium and possibly leading to more difficult filter maintenance and even poorer water quality and water clarity.
Vitamins and Minerals
Supplying the correct balance of dietary vitamins and minerals is
necessary to maintain the healthy growth and reproduction of every
species of fish. However, as many vitamins or minerals may also be
present within the water and many more may leech quickly from the
food, the exact dietary requirement for vitamins or minerals is very
difficult to estimate. Consequently, many feeds contain far more of
these dietary components than the fish actually requires.
In 30cm deep aquarium it may take up to 2 minutes for the first flakes to
sink to the bottom. If the tank contains a high number of surface feeding
fish then it can take considerably longer for the remnants to arrive at
the tank base. Even if bottom feeding fish, such as Corydoras or loach,
are fed with sinking pellets, the fish may have to wait for up to 5
minutes to ‘soften up’ before they can be eaten. Even this short period
of time can lead to a dramatic decline in the nutrient content of food.
Depending upon solubility, it can take no longer than 30 seconds of immersion in water for up to 90% of B vitamins and 65% of
vitamin C to be leached from the food. Accordingly, the problem of vitamin defiency may be a problem in a large proportion of
tanks or pools.
Some vitamins are not only required to maintain optimal health but many, such as vitamin C and E, help to reduce the risk of
disease and infection by boosting the efficiency of the immune response. However, feeding too many vitamins may begin to
represent a danger to the health of fish. For example, feeding too much vitamin A can result in slower growth, anaemia and even
necrosis of the caudal fin.
Habitat & Life Span
The Land Hermit Crab is somewhat nocturnal by nature and will often sleep for most of the day. Low temperatures will also make them inactive and they will retract back into their shell. The more crabs you have the more active they become! They will live for many years if you follow these simple instructions, and over time they will become so friendly you will consider them part of your family.
Use an aquarium with a glass top, as this creates a humid environment which is essential for crab’s wellbeing. A 35cm aquarium will house 3 Hermit Crabs comfortably. The floor of the aquarium should be kept dry and can be covered in pet litter, untreated wood shavings or clean dry gravel. If you use gravel, it can be cleaned with hot salty water - never use soaps or detergents. Rinse well and leave in the sun to dry. Hermit Crabs love to climb and exercise so a piece of driftwood or mangrove root is ideal.
Land Hermit Crabs are tropical so they must be kept between 26C and 32C and the temperature should never be allowed to fall below 20C. As hot air rises, the most effective way of heating the aquarium is with a Heatwave Heat Mat that sticks onto the base of the aquarium. These mats emit an even heat over the base which stimulates activity. A desk lamp with a low wattage bulb may also be used. It is important that you place a thermometer in the tank to monitor the temperature.
Humidity is the amount of water vapour in the air we breathe. Hermit crabs require high humidity to keep their gills moist and allow them to breath properly. When humidity is low, the air is drier and they become inactive and some become dehydrated or even suffocate if the air is too dry.
To ensure you have enough humidity in their enclosure, make sure there is plenty of water in their drinking bowl
Land Hermit Crabs need two bowls of water that should be changed daily. The first must contain freshwater for drinking, the second saltwater for bathing. This can be mixed using Hermit Crab Salt at a rate of 1 teaspoon per 100ml, make sure you use heavy bowls as Land Hermit Crabs will easily tip over light containers.
Like all animals, Land Hermit Crabs have special dietary needs. Their staple diet should be specially formulated Hermit Crab pellets which contain all the vitamins and minerals they need. As a treat they can also be offered corn flakes, shredded coconut, apple and other varieties of fruit. Ensure they are given fresh food daily.
One of the fascinating things about Land Hermit Crabs is that they live in other creatures discarded shells. As they grow they will leave their old shell and find another larger one to move into. To assist the crabs with this, a few spare shells should be kept in the aquarium for such occasions. As the crabs can be fussy about which shell should be their new home; make sure that the shells are only slightly larger than the one that they are currently living in.
Like other crabs, as they grow Land Hermit Crabs need to cast off their outer skeleton, this usually occurs about twice a year. After the crab has moulted it needs to be left alone for several weeks until its new skeleton hardens.
Some crabs become sluggish and inactive when they are about to moult, others spend more time than usual in and around the water bowl. The crabs drink more water in order to make their body swell slightly so as to crack their outer skin. This helps the skin to be discarded in a single piece.
When crabs moult, it is a very traumatic time for them, so you should take care not to touch them too much whilst they are moulting. After moulting, the skin is usually left on the floor. Crabs will eat this skin as it is rich in calcium. They may eat this discarded old skin before you know they have actually moulted.
Crabs will usually bury in the gravel for a week or so while their skin hardens up. Make sure there is plenty of food and water in their enclosure even if they are inactive. They feed mainly at night and will sneak out during the night to feed. While their skin is soft, don't touch the crabs, just leave them alone but make sure they have plenty of food and water.
Hermit crabs will fight if they are overcrowded. Bigger crabs tend to push smaller ones out of the way as they move around the tank. To solve this problem add some more climbing objects so the crabs can spread out a little, or get a larger tank for your crabs.
Competition for shells will sometimes result in aggression with crabs known to pull others out of their shells so they can have them. Sometimes the crab being pulled out will lose a leg to save himself, which they will slowly grow back each time they moult. If you have several crabs, make sure they have plenty of shells to choose from.
Stress among hermit crabs can be caused by:
- Overcrowding and bullying
- Extremes in temperature, too hot or too cold
- Being dropped onto hard surfaces
- A crab kept alone
Stress can make crabs inactive and sluggish. They can also come out of their shell and walk about 'naked'. Some crabs just crawl off into the corner and will not return to their shell. This leaves them open to attack from other crabs, and they have no protection. It is not normal for these crabs to walk about without a shell on their soft body.
The First Night
A cozy basket with a blanket or towel and perhaps a hot water bottle during cooler weather will help your new kitten to sleep through the night.
Choose a quiet spot like the laundry or bathroom. If you let the kitten sleep in your bedroom or on your bed, he or she will expect to keep doing this once fully grown. Try to ignore any meowing to encourage a pattern of sleeping through the night.
pattern of sleeping through the night.
Vaccinations All kittens should be given an F3 vaccine (feline enteritis and cat ‘flu) at 6 to 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks. Vaccinations should then be boosted yearly.
Recently, a vaccine for FIV (cat AIDS) became available. It can be given to kittens at the same time as the F3 vaccine or can be given later on. Older cats should be tested for FIV before this vaccine is given.
Vaccination visits also enable us to check the health of your kitten and address any questions or problems you may have.
Micro chipping and Registration
Micro chipping is a means of permanent identification. A tiny microchip implanted under the loose skin at the back of the neck will allow a lost cat or kitten to be identified and returned to its owner. If your kitten is not already micro chipped, this will need to be done before you can apply for pet registration with your local council. All cats in the Logan City council areas should be registered by the age of 3 months.
Make sure that any flea products you use are safe at your kitten’s age.
There are a number of monthly products that are applied to the back of the kitten’s neck: Revolution and Advantage are safe from 6 weeks and Frontline is safe from 8 weeks.
All kittens should be given the correct dose (according to weight) of an “all wormer” at 6, 8, 10 and 12 weeks of age, every month until 6 months and then every 3 monthly.
Heartworm, although a parasite of dogs, can occasionally affect cats too. Monthly products such as Revolution will prevent this parasite, please discuss this with us if you wish to find out more.
Cats are usually very easy to toilet train. Just have a clean litter tray ready for your new kitten and, chances are, he or she will know exactly what to do with it.
If you have more than one cat, it’s a good idea to have one tray for each of them and, ideally, one extra. Always make sure the trays are cleaned regularly and try to put them in quiet spots.
For the first week, it’s usually a good idea to stick to the sorts of foods that your new kitten is already used to. This should avoid bowel upsets. After a week or so, you can gradually change over to other foods.
Good quality commercial tinned and dry foods are well balanced for nutrients and convenient for busy owners.
Never let your kitten do things that you won’t want him or her to do as an adult cat. Bad behavior should be discouraged by a firm “NO”. Don’t ever smack a kitten.
When young, kittens should have plenty of human contact. Make sure there are toys that he or she can play with and join in as much as possible.
A scratching post covered with carpet or hessian may help to prevent damage to furniture. If the material on the post becomes ragged, don’t replace it, that’s when it gets really interesting!
Once fully immunized, decide whether your kitten will be allowed outside. A popular option is a cat run or enclosure. We recommend Catmax for the design and building of cat enclosures and have had very positive feedback from clients who have used them.
If you do allow your kitten outside it’s a good idea to supervise him or her the first few times. There may be other cats that have made their territory in your backyard and may be quite aggressive towards a new cat.
We recommend desexing cats between 5 and 6 months of age.
Before you bring your adopted cat or kitten home, prepare its sleeping area. The basic requirement is a warm and secure place which can be anything from a commercially available bed or basket to a cardboard box with an entrance hole and a blanket.
Food and water bowls should be provided and placed in a familiar and safe area; a litter tray should also be provided. Cats are fussy about cleanliness and will not use a soiled litter tray so it is essential to clean the tray regularly. Cats like to
explore their new surrounds but it is advisable to keep the cat or kitten indoors for at least the first few weeks. In the case of a kitten at least a month is recommended.
Cats are also naturally playful animals and enjoy having a few simple toys to play with.
A balanced diet is essential for your cat's health and wellbeing. An all meat diet is not sufficient and will result in you cat or kitten suffering nutritional deficiencies and growth problems. High quality prepared cat food (both canned and dry) is the most reliable and convenient way to ensure your cat has a balanced diet.
Kittens have different nutritional requirements to adult cats and it is preferable to feed your kitten specially formulated kitten foods in both canned and dry forms. Milk is unnecessary for cats and may cause diarrhea in some cats which have a lactose intolerance; a low lactose cat milk is available at supermarkets.
Your cat or kitten should be vaccinated against feline enteritis, cat flu and feline leukemia virus. These diseases can be fatal and they are preventable. Kittens should be vaccinated between 6 - 9 weeks of age and again at between 12 - 16 weeks. All cats require a booster vaccination every 12 months. Many cat boarding facilities will not accept cats that do not have up to date vaccinations. Your vet can provide a certificate as proof of vaccination.
Cats and kittens need to be wormed regularly to control roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms which live in the intestine. A variety of tablets, liquids and pastes are available.
Fleas and ticks
These are often a problem during the warmer months. When treating a cat or kitten for fleas, only use products specially formulated for cats and follow the directions on the packaging. The cat's bedding and any other pets should be treated at the same time.
occur in some parts of Australia (including the Hawkesbury) and these can be fatal to cats. You should check your cat daily and remove any ticks and consult your vet if you do find ticks.
These are common in cats due to fighting and can show up as a swelling or discharging sore anywhere on the cat. Veterinary attention is required to treat abscesses.
Cats are highly intelligent and can be trained to show desirable behaviour rather than undesirable behaviour. A scratching post should discourage your cat from scratching your furniture. But if it does scratch items other than a post, a firm 'no' and a spray of water should stop such behaviour.
Cats spend a great deal of time grooming themselves but long haired cats should be brushed and combed several times a week.