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Setting-Up
for an
Arafuran Filesnake





Setting Up for the arrival of an Arafuran Filesnake is no simple or inexpensive proposition. And with the various Pumps, Heaters, etc--is as or more expensive than keeping any other reptile.
Additionally, a Happy, Healthy Arafuran Filesnake will eat with the Quantity and Frequency of the average Colubrid. So, unless You are into making constant trips to the Pet/Bait Store, "New Arrival" Temp adjustments and everything else involved--You may want to consider a Separate "Holding Tank" (10gal+) to save a lot of work and hassle.

That Said: Personally, I am a Low- Maintenace, Hassle-Free kind of Guy: If it will save me some Trouble--its probably worth a few bucks in my book. But the other side of that coin is: I appreciate "Bang-For-Buck" like most People.
I have put this Page together to help people along with what I have learned from Personal Experience and on the internet through many, many Hours of "Research" surfing the various "Aquatic" Forums-(Where many of the Folks have been doing the "Aquarium-thing" for Decades).
Some of what is offered below is simply MY Opinion, and some of it is based upon the General Consensus of the Folks on the various Aquatic forums.
Basically, this page is just a guide toward What You will need and What is Available and What is worth its weight in Salt, ie., The Good, The Bad and The Don't Waste Your Time....
Any Links below offered to Outside websites are not a recommendation (unless otherwise Stated) of a Specific Place to buy a product.
The Information here is based on the assumtion that You do not currently own an aquarium or have any aquarium-related supplies on hand.
Just Keep in Mind that the Information offered on this website is worth Exactly what You are Paying for it.....




Basic Items Needed:

Aquarium // Aquarium Top // Aquarium Stand // Lighting // Filtration System
Heater // Hidebox // Thermometer // Water Test Kit(s) // Fish Food
Live Plants // Plant Food // Chemicals // Holding Tank







Aquarium
The Aquarium itself may seem like a simple choice, But its not. How Large? Glass or Acrylic? Local or Online? The choices go on and on.
Personally, I prefer Glass Aquariums, but many other people perfer Acrylic-so its just a Personal Choice. The size needs to be determined by the size of the snake upon arrival, how much bigger its going to get and Your Finances. People literally spend $10K+ on Beautiful Aquarium Setups, so this can all get just as expensive as You want.

If you decide to buy locally than your choices will be limited to what is available locally.
If you choose to buy online then your choices will be pretty limited to Acrylic Aquariums. Its extremely hard to find anyone that will ship Glass Aquariums. That Said: Tenacor Acrylic Aquariums are highly recommended and quite expensive, but well worth the money from what I understand.
Another Highly recommended source is: GlassCages.com I have pruchased from them myself and can certainly recommend them. As a side note: they told me that they sometimes ship Glass aquariums, if they are purchased with the Stand and Canopy, because this can all be packaged together and really help support the Glass Tank through the shipping process. Additionally, they apparently do quite a few Aquarium- and Reptile-related "Shows" and can have their driver meet you along they way to or from.

The size of the Aquarium that You choose should be based entirely on the Filesnake itself.



Aquarium Top
Again, the choices seem limitless...LOL. You can choose to Buy or Build a Top that suits Your needs. You can choose a "Canopy", Plexiglass/Acrylic cut to fit, Glass....its really up to your needs and resources. But for Acrochordus snakes--You DO need a Top on the Aquarium that will keep the snake in should it choose to try to get out.
It will need to be clear for the Live Plants and Photoperiod.
Personally, I just use Acrylic cut to fit and have my Fluorescent Lights hung by chain from the ceiling. It works for me....



Aquarium Stand
Once Again: Many Options, Many Choices. You will just have to look around and see what's available, what You want and what fits Your Budget.
Currently, I just use a Wrought Iron stand that I have had with My Arafura's Aquarium for years. I don't have any current intentions of Upgrading the current setup--except: Entirely. I can continue to use the current equipment, but I am planning to upgrade the Tank, Stand and Top to something much larger (125-180gal.) in 2006. We'll see what happens and how it goes.
Just take some time and look around, because there is some really nice stuff out there.



Lighting
You can spend $500 or more on light for a Standard 55gal. Aquarium. I've currently spent about $20: A 4' fluorescent shoplight and bulbs from Walmart and the Chain and fixtures to hang it from the ceiling.
The Options are wide open.
Just remember that Acrochordus snakes do not like light-it is Dangerous for them in the wild, so it causes stress in captivity. But you do need to provide a Photoperiod and light for the Live Plants.
I have 80 watts of Fluorescent light hanging about 6" above the tank with a lot of Top-Coverage and my Filesnake seems Happy with it.
My Advice would be to simply not over do it: Whether you hang them over the tank, rest them on top of it, support them on legs or put them inside a canopy--the Filesnake and Low-Light Plants will really prevent the need for any Major Investment in Lighting.



Filtration
And now the choice become even more Limitless. Sheesh-there is a ton of different filter choices and combinations available out there: Sumps, Refugiums, Plant Filters, Hang-On-Back (HOB) Filters, Undergravel Filters, Interior, Exterior and so-on. But to cut through all the hoopla--all you need is a good Canister Filter.
Eheim Canister Filters are apparently the Best. However, they are also Expensive. Eheim has a Large, Die-hard following of long time Aquarium Enthusiasts behind it. They are Good Canister Filters if You want to pay the Money for them.
That Said: Even the Die-hard Eheim Fans admit that the Rena Filstar xP Canister Filters are Good Filters and offer the Best "Bang-For-Buck" available. I use an xP3 on my Arafura's Tank and an xP1 on another tank, and I am Very Happy with them. Be sure to check out the Caresheet for an Overview of My entire Filtration System.


Heaters
The Options here are fairly Limited to Interior/Exterior, Brand and Size.
Ideally, it is a good idea to get 2 smaller Heaters instead of 1 larger one, because that way, if there is a "Failure" the aquarium won't over-heat and kill the inhabitants. Its a good idea and should be seriously condsidered. I have 3 Heaters in My Arafura's tank and one in the Refugium-but its Winter time. I only had 1 50watt working all Summer. I consider being able to Add/Remove the heaters as necessary a plus.
Understand upfront that My Experience and Understanding is that None of the Newer "Dial-in" settings Heaters have Accurate Dial-ins. I have to set all of my heaters below the desired Temp in order to get the Temp that I want. The Dial-in feature makes the process much easier, but their accuracy still leaves much to be desired.

Hydor External Heaters are suppose to be very Good, worth the money and can be adjusted outside of the aquarium. But they only come in 200-300watts and they are fairly Expensive...

Visi-Therm Heaters, especially their "stealth" version are currently considered to be the best currently available. However, they did have some type of "Failure" problem, but I believe that has been corrected.

Rena Cal Heaters are the heater that I use. They come in a large selection of sizes, are good quality and usually a bit less expensive. However, I can personally attest that their Dial-in settings are not accurate.

Won Pro-Heat Titanium Heaters I have not used these heaters, but the comments on the various forums are very Positive. One User claimed that his LCD Display was up to 7F off---take it for what its worth. When I buy more Heaters or upgrade what I have--I will choose between these and the Hydor External Heaters above.

There are many brands of heaters out there, so what You choose is up to You. If I had it to do over again: I would choose between those listed above.


Hidebox
The Hidebox is a pretty straight-forward affair: Water-durable, appropriate size and allows as little light transmission inside as possible. The Hidebox that I use is simply 2 small Kitty Litter Pans stacked together for a 4 1/2' File snake. (Click Here for More Info)
What You choose should be fine as long as it is based upon the 3 criteria above. Additionlly, the nice thing about the Kitty Litter Pans is that they are Long and Wide without being Tall.


Thermometer
Might seem like a pretty straightforward topic, but there are many choices--as usual.
Personally, I use Digital, Stick-on and Floating thermometers. I like the assurance of using more than one and more then one Type of thermometer.

Stick-On Thermometers are considered the least accurate and reliable.

Coralife Digital Thermometers are suppose to be accurate to 1.5C, but I have found them to be much more accurate than that. They currently represent the overall "Bang-For-Buck" in Digital Thermometers.

Floating Thermometers can be very accurate, but my suggestion is, if you buy them in person, to compare the thermometer(s) that you are going to buy with all of the others on the self and get what you need from the ones that match. Their accuracy varies Greatly--so the one that matches up with 3 others: should be fairly accurate.


Water Test Kit(s)
Anyone that owns an Aquarium Needs the appropriate Water Test Kit(s). Quality varies.

Test Strips are considered the least accurate and the Hardest to read. I use them for their convenience and because the water parameters for the Arafuran Filesnake don't seem to be all that tight-I just need to have an idea that everything is in the Ball-park.

Master Test Kit Aquarium Pharmaceuticles, Inc. Master Test Kit is considered to be the best Overall. They are only about $15, so if You are going with anything other than Strips--why go anywhere else???


Fish Food
This one is pretty straightforward. Many brands, many types. Tropical, Goldfish--it doesn't really matter. A good Brand Flake Food (Tetra, Hakari, Wardley's, etc) will do just Fine.


Live Plants
Live Plants are the #1 best addition that you can make to your Filtration system, and, Technically: You can operate an aquarium with nothing BUT plants for a filter system. One Problem is that certain fish (Comets, Goldfish--the Arafura's Food) will eat your plants into extinction.
(Click Here for more Info on Live Plants)


Plant Food
Plant Food is not as Straightforward as it may seem. There are many choices and combinations out there. I just try to keep it simple: I use Hagen Plant Gro Iron Enriched. I find it complete for my purposes, inexpensive and easy to use. I use it at the recommended dosage or less--depending upon the varibles involved.
The purpose of the plants is to help filter the water and remove/minimize nitrates as much as possible. Adding Plant food really defeats this purpose and actually adds nitrates to the system. I use it just to "Supplement" the plants periodically (once a week or so). At the moment, with a Refugium full of invertabrates I use it very sparingly, because the purpose of the Refugium is for the system to take care of itself. Additionally, invertabrates are extremely sensitive to copper and Plant Gro does contain copper.
Another side note is: Seachem makes the "Flourish" line of products. These are Highly rated and Highly recommended products. However, Seachem knows and admits that these products will "Melt" plants like Anacharis. So, just be aware of this.


Chemicals
There are way too many chemicals to go over--and the vast majority of them are not needed anyway.
One thing You will need is a good Dechlorinator. I just use the Cheap Wardley's Brand from Walmart.
Other chemicals that I have used without causing any problems for the Arafura are: Flourish products, Tetra AquaSafe, Kent Blackwater Expert, Plant Gro.
I do not use any type of chemical filtration-just good ol' sponges and filter floss.


Holding Tank
Ok, A separate Holding Tank for the Arafura's Food (Fish) is really a Good idea--Especially if You are buying Your Fish from a Bait Store. The reason is this: When I buy my fish from the Bait Store--They are usually kept at about 45F. When I bring them Home--I have to Slowly bring them up to 86F: Not a Simple task! It takes me about 36 hours, many water changes and the constant addition of Temp-Correct water to get those fish up to Temp. My Chinese Watersnakes will eat 2 dozen Medium-sized Minnows in a week. So, I buy 12 dozen (144 minnows), go through the process and then keep the "Extras" in a 10gal. Holding Tank--It Truly saves me a lot of time and Hassle.

Comets seem much Hardier than Shiners or Minnows, but they still have to be brought up to temp. Slowly! Any fish does. Pet stores do not keep their fish anywhere near 86F--so, even though the process is much faster and easier--its still a process. If You mess it up: Your fish will die and Your Money and Time will be wasted: Its just that Simple.

So, What do You need???

That depends upon Your Situation. I have a 4 1/2' Arafuran Filesnake and 2 Young Adult Chinese Watersnakes to feed. The Arafuran Filesnake eats Comets that Average about 30 grams and 4-5" long. The Chinese Watersnakes eat a Dozen+ Medium Minnows/Wk--Each!

So, Currently I am using a 10gal. aquarium with an Undergravel filter with Reverse-Flow Powerhead, and a Closed-Hang-On-Back (HOB)Type of Canister Filter that I already had. After I go get fish--the Holding Tank is way too small, way overcrowded and has trouble initially handling the Bio-load.

Basically, I need to move up to a 20gal.-High or a 29Gal.--But that is mainly because I buy 144 Minnows and about 4 dozen Lg. Comets at a time. And I don't load my Arafura's Tank down with Feeder Fish. Too many fish will add Stress for the Arafura--and that's not good.

With One Arafura (Lg. or Small) You should be able to get by with a 10gal. Aquarium and a good Filtration system. Anything more than that and I would suggest a Larger Holding Tank.

Some Thoughts: When You add a New load of fish to the Holding Tank--the Bio-load will increase dramatically, and You may need to do some water changes every day or every other day for a few days or a week in order to prevent dangerous levels of Ammonia from building up. As You remove fish from the Holding Tank to feed to Your Arafura--the Bio-load will decrease as the Beneficial Bacteria Colony reduces its population. Its a good idea to get more fish for the Holding Tank before it is completely empty. The Fish waste provides food for the Beneficial Bacterial Colony. Less Fish=Less Bacteria Food=Less Bacteria. Getting more fish into the tank the day or the day after you remove the last batch is probably the best idea.



Disclaimer

The Above Information is offered as is. It contains the Recommendation of Products based solely upon MY Experience and/or Research and MY Interpretations thereof. It is offered simply as Guide to Help the Uninitiated weed through the myriad of Products and Possibilities available, so--

use ANY of this Information: at Your Own Risk!