Aquarium Care

Useful articles, news, information, product reviews about aquarium care

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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: How to Cycle an Aquarium

aquariumcycleDid you ever think you couldn’t have fish because “they just die”? If all your fish die within a week of buying them, it’s not just the fish. The most common cause of mass fish deaths is an improperly cycled tank. Before you buy any fish, it’s absolutely imperative to make sure your aquarium is well-cycled.

What is cycling? Simply put, the cycling process is the time it takes to set up a biological filter for the nitrogen cycle to function inside the aquarium. Your aquarium is much more than a tank full of water, it has to be an entire contained eco-system to keep your fish healthy. The goal with your cycling time is to develop a culture of beneficial bacteria (or “bio-bugs”) that will break down the ammonia from the fish’s waste into nitrites, and then from nitrites into nitrates. Ammonia is extremely toxic to your fish and will kill them very quickly with much less than one part per million in your aquarium.

There are several methods for cycling. This is a method that is very effective, easy to do even for beginners and does not subject any live creatures to the potentially deadly cycling process. First, set up your aquarium with filtration, heater, aerator, etc. and fill with water. Add whatever de-chlorinator you prefer; if you’re not sure what’s in your water be sure you use a treatment that eliminates or neutralizes chlorine, chloramines and potentially harmful metals. With the filter running, add a tiny amount of fish food…about one or two flakes. The food can be old, stale food that’s no good for feeding anymore — it’s only there to rot. As the food decomposes it will produce the ammonia that will feed the bio-bugs as they get established in your aquarium.

That’s it! Keep adding one or two flakes every day throughout the cycling process, then do a partial water change before you add fish. It’s safe to add fish when both ammonia and nitrites test at zero but there are nitrates in the tank to show that ammonia is actually being broken down. A full cycle takes 36 days to complete, though some hardier fish can be added after a couple of weeks as long as you keep a close eye on the water parameters.

Don’t want to wait 36 days? There are a few products on the market that can help speed up the process. There are bottled, refrigerated products such as Bio-Spira that can give the cycle a big boost by adding the bio-bugs directly (via a liquid) instead of having to wait for them to get established in the aquarium. The only problem I’ve found with those products is that you add them, it boosts the bacteria, and that’s the end of its use. One great cycle-time reducer is the EcoBio-Block. This product is a little more expensive than Bio-Spira, but you get a lot better value for your money.

To use the EcoBio-Block, rinse it off in some de-chlorinated water and then place it in the tank after the water has been treated and filtration is going. Make sure you set it somewhere near the aerator or below the flow of an HOB filter (the kind that hang on the back of your aquarium). The EcoBio-Block has the beneficial bacteria the aquarium needs sealed into it; the flow of water facilitates the dissolving of the seal and ensures that the bio-bugs get the oxygen they need. These blocks can take a couple of weeks to start working (though sometimes they work much faster), and once it’s working you’ll be able to begin adding the fish you want, hardy or not, because this effectively finishes the cycle. Test your water; it may not be necessary to do a partial water change before adding fish unless there’s an excess of decomposed fish food in the bottom. Don’t take the block out! The EcoBio-Block is still useful for about 1 1/2 to 2 years; it’ll keep the bio-bug population healthy and contains all the trace minerals that normally have to be replenished through water changes. The minerals are time-released into the water to keep it healthy without constant water changes.

In short, the cycling process is simple but time-consuming. If you decide to shorten the cycle time take care with which product you purchase to help, there are a lot on the market that don’t actually do what you need. The above have proven to be good, reliable products that greatly aid with this process. Once you’ve achieved a good biological filter and the nitrogen cycle is up and running, you can start adding the fish!

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