Aquarium Care

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Archive for the ‘Aquarium Setup’ Category

Sticky: Beginner Aquarium Fish Guidelines

Starting your very own aquarium can be very exciting. Knowing just the right things needed for beginner aquarium fish is important. There are quite a few things to consider when starting an aquarium. You will need to consider the water conditions in your area, how easy they are to feed, and where they were raised.

Beginner fish need to be hardy. They can survive in difficult conditions. They can be overfed, underfed, or live in unfavorable water conditions. Starting with hardy ones is important because beginning aquarists are still learning exactly how to take care of their fish. They are learning how much they need to feed them, how often to change the aquarium water, and how many and what kind belong in one tank together.

Beginner fish need to be able to be easily fed. These are the ones that survive solely on dry food. Dry food can be found at many supermarkets and at any pet store. They can also be fed treats. The treats are usually bloodworms and mosquito larvae. However treats are not necessary and the fish do not need fancy frozen foods to survive.

Commercially raised fish are great starter fish. They have shown that they can survive in a tank as opposed to ones that are caught in the wild. Some fish that are caught in the wild will not survive in a tank. Fortunately, there are plenty of options at stores and pet stores.

Purchasing fish that can survive in tap water is also important. It can be difficult and costly to purchase ones that need purified water. Just be certain to use water conditioner to get rid of chloramines in the water. Knowing your water conditions is also important. The two main types are hard and soft. Take the water to the local pet store and they should be able to tell you which ones will survive the best with your water conditions.

Purchasing non-aggressive fish may also be a positive. If aggressive ones are purchased, only one can survive in the tank. If more than one is wanted it is best to get ones that get along well with others. To find out which ones are non-aggressive, just watch the tank and the ones that are getting along with others and not fighting are the ones you want.

Picking ones that meet these qualifications will help you on your way to purchasing good beginner aquarium fish for your tank. There are many options out there to choose from and they are found at a majority of pet stores and some local shops in your area.

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Sticky: Starting a New Aquarium

Sit back and enjoy your new aquarium

Sit back and enjoy your new aquarium

Aquariums can be beautiful and fun additions to any home. The easiest way to start having an aquarium in your house is to choose a freshwater aquarium. These are easier to manage and you have a greater chance of success than if you tackle a saltwater aquarium.  Even so, there is a lot to buy and many things to think about before you can have fish swim around your tank.

You need to select a tank size and make sure it fits into the space you have allotted. You need to select a tank size of at least ten gallons as mistakes are less likely to be lethal if there is more water to work with. Fish tanks are heavy. A full 20 gallon fish tank is over 200 pounds.  Make sure you have a good supporting system for your fish tank so it doesn’t collapse.

Choose a tank with a larger surface area, such as an oblong tank. Fish do better with a larger surface area. Glass tanks are better for beginners so choose one of those as opposed to an acrylic fish tank. Most tanks come with standard measurements which can be used to select the tank for you.

Your initial purchase checklist should include the following:

  • A suitably sized aquarium, possibly 20 gallon-sized
  • A stand or surface for your aquarium
  • A hood or lid for your aquarium
  • An aquarium light
  • A heater that heats the size of the aquarium you are buying (check with the staff at the pet store if you have any doubts about the heater size and wattage).
  • An aquarium thermometer
  • Substrate for the bottom of the aquarium
  • A fish net
  • Something to condition the water
  • A filter for the aquarium

You should get enough substrate to fill the bottom of the tank to a level of about two inches.  In general, a pound of substrate should be purchased for every gallon of water in the tank. This means you should buy about 20 pounds of substrate for a 20 gallon tank. The filter should be adequate to filter out the junk in the tank. A filter should be able to filter about 100-150 gallons per hour.

Once you’ve rinsed out the aquarium, you’ll need to fill it with water. Place the aquarium exactly where you want to keep it. Buy a bottle of aquarium water conditioner. Buy two buckets that you only use for the aquarium. Fill the tank with washed substrate to a depth of 2-3 inches. Put a clean plate on top of the gravel (this keeps the gravel from splashing up). Let the cold water in the tap run for a few minutes to clear the lines of excessive minerals and then fill the bucket up to three-fourths full. Pour the water from the bucket onto the plate until the water is halfway up the tank. Then add your plants and decorations. Put in the heater and the filter but don’t plug them in until the tank is full.

Next, fill the tank with water using the other bucket. You can remove the plate when the tank is halfway filled with water. Start the filter and the heater and run for a minimum of twenty four hours before adding fish.

You’ll want to consider adding an EcoBio-Stone or other EcoBio-Block product, depending on the size of your tank and your particular needs. These are porous volcanic and cement rocks which slowly release necessary trace minerals and calcium in to the water. They contain beneficial nutrients and helpful bacteria that create the proper ecosystem for your aquarium helping you minimize your maintenance time and reduce the need to change the water in your tank.  Nitrifying bacteria are established in your tank and the tank is cycled more quickly. The water stays clear and odor is kept to a minimum. EcoBio-Block products last for up to 1.5 or 2 years and require no maintenance.

If all goes well, you’ll have a healthy, happy aquarium system that will last for years with a minimum of interference by you. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy your new aquarium.

 

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Sticky: Starting an Aquarium the Easy Way

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Aquarium Care Series: The Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Setup: Basic Concepts

by Ruby Bayan, OurSimpleJoys.com

aquawithwhitefishsSetting up the ideal aquarium environment can be a challenge since there are fundamental principles about taking proper care of your fish that must be taken into serious consideration. You will be simulating the natural habitat of your pet fish, within the confines of a glass tank. It will be necessary for you to exercise the utmost care in creating and maintaining an environmental balance. It can be tricky, but that’s what makes the aquarium fish hobby truly engaging!

In order to create and maintain the ideal freshwater aquarium setup, you will have to purchase the best tank you can afford and supply your fish with good clean water (filtration) and the required amount of oxygen (or aeration). Adequate illumination (lighting), proper temperature (heating), and the appropriate landscape (substrate and decor) are also important. Let’s discuss how to set up these elements one by one.

Tank Size

Before you purchase an aquarium, ask yourself the following questions:

Where will I put the tank? Is there enough space? Measure the exact dimensions of the area where you want to install your new tank. Be sure that you will have elbowroom to attach the accessories (light hood and external pumps or filters) and to perform the required maintenance activities (which include cleaning, landscaping, or catching the fish).

Are both the stand and the floor sturdy enough to hold the combined weight of the tank, the gravel, and the gallons of water you will need? Remember, water alone weighs about 10 lbs. per gallon. Depending on the size of the tank and the complexity of your landscaping (the substrate and rock decor), you may need to acquire a dedicated metal stand. Ask the aquarium store proprietor to explain your various options.
What kind of fish will you take care of? How many varieties? How big will they grow?

You will need to do your homework on these topics. Picture the types of fish you want to live in your tank. Find out how big they will get when fully grown. Though schooling fish are a joy to watch, they require a lot of swimming space. Since some species are territorial, you will need to provide them with sufficient “territories” to prevent stress. Basically, if you want to take care of a lot of fish, you will need to buy a larger tank.

Do you have the budget to purchase the appropriate lighting, heating, aeration, and filtration fixtures? You may think it’s easy to answer those questions since you know you want to keep several varieties of fish and believe that all you need to do is buy a 100-gallon tank. Before you pull out your credit card, remember that you will also need 100-gallon filters, heaters, and overhead lighting. Additionally, you will need sufficient aerators, gravel, plants, and decor. So, be sure you are ready to finance the entire 100-gallon set-up before you start making any purchases.

Aeration

Fish “breathe” oxygen from the water, and water absorbs oxygen from the air. This is why aeration is important in a tank setup. Aeration, or the generation of tiny air bubbles in the water, supplements the tank’s water surface area, which is critical for the exchange of gases with the atmosphere. The bubbles also create a disturbance in the water surface, promoting the absorption of oxygen and dissolution of carbon dioxide.
Furthermore, the rising bubbles “stir” the water, which helps to balance the water temperature. The bubbles also create the semblance of water flow that fish thoroughly enjoy.

Choose aerators that suit your tank size and your taste — various models of air pumps and air stones are available. Tubing, connectors, and other accessories make installation convenient and organized. A spare air pump will be valuable in case of a breakdown.

Filtration

In simulating the natural habitat of your fish, you will need to ensure that the environment does not become toxic due to the accumulation of waste products. An effective filtration system is, therefore, another essential element of the ideal aquarium setup. Here’s a list of the various filters that are available:

  • Under-gravel Filters – These are plastic-slotted plates placed at the bottom of the tank, under the substrate. For best results, these plates must cover the whole tank floor. Working in conjunction with the air pump, the filter pulls the floating waste, uneaten food, and decaying plants onto the gravel. The waste products accumulate in recesses in the gravel, where they can be easily siphoned off.
  • Box Filters – These are plastic boxes that are put in the corner of the tank. They also require the assistance of the air pump. This filter uses activated carbon and glass wool (or peat moss) to serve as biological filters. They absorb and retain the fine waste products that float in the water, along with the harmful nitrates and ammonia by-products. Compared to under-gravel filters, box filters are easier to pull out and clean.
  • Power Filters — These are usually external filters attached to the back of the tank. With its own power motor, it sucks water from the tank, passes the water through a sponge (or glass wool and activated carbon), and pumps the filtered water back into the tank. The sponge needs to be cleaned regularly.

Lighting

Fish require adequate amounts of light and dark, like most other creatures on the planet. Correct lighting is essential for the biological clocks and eating patterns of your fish. It is also important for the healthy growth of the live plants in the tank. Apart from those needs, adequate lighting makes the aquarium a bright and colorful showcase for underwater life.

Several types of aquarium lights are commercially available. Full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs are common fixtures – they enhance the colors of the fish and decor, and they don’t give off too much heat. Some hobbyists prefer specialized ultraviolet aquarium lamps because they believe they promote fish health and breeding, along with plant growth. Study the options at your aquarium vendor’s store and choose the lighting that suits your tank and fish community.

Aquarium lights are best mounted inside reflector hoods, placed either directly on top of the tank’s glass cover, or on a special frame above the tank. Some vendors have attached timers to these hoods to facilitate the setting of photoperiod exposures. Fish do not need more than 12 hours of light each day, so a preset timer can be a convenient gadget.

Be sure to replace your light bulbs at least once a year because fluorescent and ultraviolet lights tend to degrade with use.

Heating

Aside from adequate oxygen and light, the right water temperature is essential for the overall health of your fish. Most varieties of aquarium fish come from tropical regions with water temperatures of up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Find out about your fish community’s temperature requirements. With the help of heating elements, ensure that the proper ranges are maintained in your tank.

Submersible heating rods of various lengths, together with programmable thermostats, make it easy to control tank heating. Be absolutely sure that the settings are correct because a faulty or poorly calibrated heater can bring about a catastrophic end to an otherwise flourishing fish community.

Substrate and Decor

After you complete your research on the natural habitats of the fish species you wish to keep, you will have an idea of the type of decor to put in your aquarium. For starters, here are some facts to help you determine what substrate and decor to use:

  • Some fish, known as bottom dwellers, stay close to the floor of the tank and feed on the food that settles on the substrate. For these types of fish, sand is better than gravel (food will sink among the course gravel, making it hard to reach).
  • Fish that are territorial will need “markers” like plants, rocks, or driftwood. Without these items to mark their territory, they will experience stress and may become unduly aggressive.
  • Some varieties of fish are “shy” and need at least a few places where they can go hide. Plants and overturned pots or little caves will be a comfort to them. Plants also provide shade from the overhead lighting, which may be just a little too bright for some species of fish.
  • In case you have chosen fish that are totally herbivorous, consider decorating with plastic plants. Live, decorative plants will always be attractive as food to such fish and may stop looking very attractive when your fish start feasting on their leaves and branches.
  • As a rule of thumb, never try to use anything that’s metallic, water-soluble, corrosive, or biodegradable as part of your decor. You can always be creative with glass and plastic. Before using rocks, pebbles, stones, clay, and driftwood as decorative pieces, be sure you rinse them thoroughly to remove all of the dirt, parasites, or harmful bacteria that may be attached to them.
  • Consider incorporating water-conditioning products in your setup, like EcoBio-Block, which is made of volcanic stones that are home to beneficial bacteria, whose main function is to clarify and deodorize cloudy water.

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Aquarium Care Series: Step-by-Step Aquarium Installation

by Ruby Bayan, OurSimpleJoys.com

homeaquarium-sThe ideal freshwater aquarium setup is housed in the best tank and adequately oxygenated by sufficient aerators, conditioned by effective filters, illuminated by appropriate lighting, sustained by efficient heaters, and enhanced by aesthetically designed décor. How to put them all together to work harmoniously may seem like a Herculean task but with a few simple steps to follow, installing a new aquarium is just one of the many fulfilling adventures in tropical fish keeping.

Preparations

Before heading out to the aquarist store to buy everything you need for your new hobby, plan out the installation on paper. This will save you the trouble of having to redo or return equipment and tank inhabitants when things don’t quite come together. These are the steps to take before anything else:

  1. Decide on the size of the tank and its location. It’s best to get the biggest tank you can afford because communities are easier to establish in large aquariums. Remember, though, that a large tank will also require a sturdy stand, and appropriately sized lighting, filtration, aeration, and heating equipment. The ideal location is where you have elbowroom for maintenance and access to water, and which is not too near direct sunlight or a heat source.
  2. Decide on the types of equipment you will use. With the many available models of filters, aerators, heaters, and lights, you have a wide array to choose from.
  3. Decide on what types of fish you want to keep. Do enough research on the different requirements of the various species of tropical fish, and from there, plan out your landscape.
  4. Choose the substrate and decorations you will use. You can include live (or plastic) plants, rocks, slates, driftwood, colored stones, pots, non-toxic figurines, and tank backgrounds. It will help if you can draw a landscape design as a guide.
  5. Ask a friend or family member to help you install your aquarium. Remember that water conditioning ideally takes about a week, so, don’t expect to introduce fishes into the setup the same day you install the tank

Initial Setup

You can purchase your tank, equipment, and decorations on the same day. Buy your plants and fishes a few days after you’ve set up the tank so that the water will have stabilized, in terms of composition and temperature, and be just right for its new inhabitants. Here are the initial installation steps:

  1. Clear the area where the tank will be placed. Position the baseboard or Styrofoam pads and place the tank on it, making sure the tank is absolutely level. Remember that once the tank is set up, it is not advisable, if not impossible, to nudge or push it about.
  2. If you are using an under-gravel filter, assemble the parts as directed and position it on the floor of the tank. Under-gravel filters are most effective if they cover the entire floor of the aquarium.
  3. Wash all décor under clean running water. Rocks, shells, and driftwood may need to be scrubbed to remove dirt and unwanted deposits. Wood should be pre-soaked; otherwise, it will float.
  4. If you are using large rocks that need to sit firmly at the bottom of the tank, position them directly on the under-gravel filter. Then pour the pre-washed substrate to cover the filter plates. Slope the substrate a little so that the contour is slightly lower towards the front.
  5. Arrange other large decorative items as desired. Be sure that none of the décor leans on the tank walls.
  6. Install the aeration and heating systems. Organize the tubing and wiring so that they can be easily concealed, convenient to manage, and safe from accidents.
  7. Carefully fill the tank with water. So as not to disturb the substrate and décor too much, put a saucer on the substrate to control the water flow.
  8. Turn on all the equipment to check if everything is working properly as expected. If you’re using plastic plants and incorporating water-conditioning products like EcoBio-Block, you can put them in at this time. Let the setup stabilize for a couple of days.

Introducing Plants

Your initial setup will have become stable after a few days — it’s then ready to receive the flora and fauna.

When you purchase your live plants, some of them will be sold in clusters or bunches. Separate them so that they can be planted individually for better growth and proliferation. Remember to wash them under clean running water to remove unwanted debris or parasites. Remove dead and bruised leaves and roots.
Referring to your landscape design, position your plants to your heart’s delight. Start by planting the tall ones at the sides and at the back ends of the tank. Use smaller, rosette-type plants as foreground accents.

Don’t worry if after finishing your landscaping the water will be a bit murky – the filtration system will fix this for you in no time.

Assemble the overhead lighting hood, position it properly, and turn it on. It’s best to give the plants and the new ecosystem a little time, like a day or two, to establish a healthy environment before introducing the fish.

Introducing Fishes

When the set-up is ready for its swimming inhabitants, that’s the time to purchase the fish. Remember to introduce a few fishes at a time. Bringing in a whole community of assorted species all at one time will only lead to chaos and severe stress.

Allow the fish to acclimate to the tank’s water temperature by keeping them inside the plastic bag they were transported in. Float the unopened bag on the water surface for about an hour. Then open the bag, and gently net the fish from the bag into the tank. Try not to pour the water from the plastic bag into the tank to minimize contamination.

Introduce other community members a few at a time, when the current inhabitants have become comfortable in their new home.

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