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Saber Tusk Barracuda, Hydrolycus scomberoides

saber tusk baracudaIntroduction Saber Tusk Barracuda are a true aquarium oddity. They are native to the fast moving waters of the Amazon River. They are a formidable predator, reaching lengths of up to three feet. They feed on any fish that they can fit into their mouth. Their very large mouth. As the name implies, they have very intimidating teeth that extend from the front bottom of their mouth upwards. On large adults, these teeth may reach more than an inch long.

The Aquarium As you decide on the size aquarium you will purchase, you must keep in mind the ultimate size of the fish you are purchasing and the size of the fish at the time of purchase. For Saber Tusks, it will be best to attain a large tank from the beginning. This will keep you from needing to purchase and set up another tank as your fish grows. It will also alleviate stress on the fish as it would otherwise get moved from tank A to tank B to tank C. These fish can grow to a descent size in their first year. Be sure that the tanks width is long enough to allow animal to turn around as well. For an adult specimen or two, no tank smaller than a 180 gallon will do. Also known as Paraya, Saber Tusks can be very flighty and easily spooked, darting across the tank and smashing into the end pane, resulting in rubbed snouts, broken teeth, damaged jaws and so on. For that reason it is best not to leave the end panes transparent and they should be painted or covered with a background. Decorating the tank is personal preference. Your gravel bed should be 1-2 inches deep. For the most part, one pound per gallon will give you a substrate depth of one inch. An array of decor can be used ranging from drift wood, rock and live plants to castles, sunken boats and plastic plants. However you decide to decorate your aquarium, your goal is to provide shelter and security for the fish while keeping the tank easy to maintain.

Filtration Since Saber Tusks are carnivorous animals, they naturally will produce a large amount of nitrogenous waste. Your aquariums filtration should be designed with this in mind. For the size tank that these fish require your standard hang on the back filters will not be efficient enough to properly filter the water. I would recommend using a sump design with wet/dry filtration. Sumps are capable of moving water through the filter media at rapid rates, ensuring that the tank's water is turned over several times an hour. By incorporating wet/dry or trickle filtration into your sump, you will be increasing the efficiency of breaking down nitrites. It will also increase the total amount of dissolved oxygen in the water which is vital to keeping large fish alive. Chemical filtration is also very important in the long term keeping of large fish. This is easily accomplished by placing a bag of aquarium carbon in an area of high water flow within the sump. Carbon will aid in removing impurities from the water such as fats, acids, proteins, dissolved wastes as well as giving the water a polished look by removing discoloration. If you choose to use driftwood in your tank, you will notice some yellowing of the water. This is due to tannins being released from the wood. It is harmless to the fish, but may not be very visually appealing. Carbon will aid in removing this discoloration as well. Other types of filtration that you may choose to utilize in your filtration system are fluidized sand beds, diatom filters and U.V sterilization. Fluidized sand beds are no more than an enclosed cylinder filled with fine sand in which water is pumped through the bottom and flows up though the sand and back out. As the water flows through the sand, it keeps the sand suspended and fluidized, therefore allowing beneficial bacteria to colonize each and every grain of sand, greatly increasing the surface area for nitrification to occur. Diatom filters are not as popular as they once were and have been replaced with micron filters. The function is still the same while the design differs. For diatom filters, diatomaceous earth is used to cover a filter bag creating a mechanical filter that allows only the absolute smallest of particles to pass through it. These filters are not intended for prolonged use, as they quickly become clogged and backed up and need constant maintenance. Instead they are normally used for short increments of time, such as one day a week for example. The benefit of these filters is providing crystal clear water. They also filter such small particles that they may be useful in eradicating parasites such as ich from the water column. U.V sterilizers are normally as are the previously mentioned filters, used in conjunction with a main filter. U.V sterilizers pump water though a cylinder and by a light that emits strong U.V radiation. This dose of U.V will kill a number of organisms ranging from various parasites to types of algae. They are very useful in preventing green water in your aquarium.

Lighting and Heating Ideally, you should maintain your aquarium's temperature between 76 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Assuming that your tank's temperature does not fluctuate more than 2-3 degrees in a 12 hour period, you should not have any temperature related issues. Keeping your aquarium's temperature as constant as possible is absolutely essential to the well being of your fish. A standard aquarium heater of appropriate wattage (approximately 2-3 watts per gallon) placed either in the tank itself or in the sump should be sufficient.

Standard T-12 fluorescent lights will work fine to properly illuminate your aquarium. The aquarium lights should be on for 12-14 hours daily.

Feeding Saber Tusks will thrive on a diet that is well varied and containing whole food items, preferably live. With some patience, you may be able to wean them onto frozen foods, but don't hold your breath. Whole food items are animals which have not been prepared, processed, cleaned, gutted etc. but rather are offered to your ray as they were in life; whole. Readily available feeder items include fish, crustaceans and worms. For the fish you can offer common feeder goldfish, rosy reds, guppies and mollies. Fresh water shrimp (glass shrimp and prawn) may be provided as well. And for worms, you may offer meal and super meal worms, night crawlers, earthworms and red worms. Any worms that you offer may need to be chopped into more acceptable morsels. All Saber Tusks that we have worked with would only except food suspended in the water column and once it hits the bottom of the tank it no longer received any attention and would need to be removed. For this reason, a Saber Tusk's main diet are live feeder fish. Any other food items that we offer must be offered with the use of a feeding stick to keep it from hitting the bottom. Ocean Nutrition produces a number of frozen packaged food items such as silversides and sand eels. All frozen food should be soaked in a quality vitamin supplement prior to use.