Aquarium Care

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Sticky: Starting a Healthy Aquarium- Allowing Your Aquarium to Cycle

Many people hear the word bacteria, and they automatically think of sickness, gross, dirty, and disease. The truth is, most bacteria are actually not harmful. In fact, in all environments, bacteria make the very base of every cycle of life. Without bacteria, the base wouldn’t be there, creating an unstable and unhealthy environment. This is especially true in an aquarium. An aquarium needs to have a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in order for fish to live long and healthy lives, and to cut down on maintenance work keeping your aquarium clean.

Beneficial bacteria neutralize toxins from aquarium waste, such as animal excretions and extra food.  Without the good bacteria, these wastes build up and release poisonous toxins that are harmful to fish and other aquarium inhabitants. Without these bacteria, your fish and other animals will get sick and eventually die.

The best time to create a good healthy base of beneficial bacteria is when you first set up a new aquarium. The key component when cycling a new aquarium is exercising extreme patience. The bacteria need time to grow and colonize your filter and the surfaces in the aquarium itself. If you add your animals to the aquarium before a sufficient amount of bacteria have grown, you’re going to be putting your fish at risk.

newly cycled aquarium

Newly cycled aquarium

There are several ways to cycle an aquarium. One way is to set up your aquarium completely, without adding your fish or animals and letting it run for two to three weeks. Adding very tiny amounts of fish food to the water as the aquarium runs will help expedite this process. Another way is to add fish very slowly- fish that are hardy and can take a small amount of toxins. Guppies are a good choice of fish. Many experienced fish keepers use feeder guppies for this task, as they’re cheap yet tend to be very healthy and good at dealing with steep swings in water quality, which is normal as a tank first cycles.  Goldfish are NOT good fish to cycle aquariums with. They excrete more waste than a growing colony of bacteria can handle, and you’ll have a difficult time cycling your tank with them. The last and fastest way to cycle a new tank is to add beneficial bacteria that are commercially ready to simply pour or toss into the water. If you use the EcoBio-Block Products, your tank will remain cleaner much longer with less effort.  Once you put in the product, EcoBio-Stone does the rest. These additives will take weeks away from the cycling process, allowing you to add your animals faster to your waiting aquarium.

There are a few signs that will let you know when your aquarium has finished cycling and is ready for inhabitants. You should test the water for ammonia and nitrites with simple to use testing kits that you can find at any pet store that sells aquarium supplies. During the time the tank is still cycling, if you test every day, you’ll notice at first a very fast spike in ammonia then in nitrites. When these go down and your nitrate levels go up, then it is safe to put in your fish. Aerobic beneficial bacteria in your tank feed on organic waste breaking them down into ammonia, then into nitrites and then the nitrites get broken down into nitrates. As the days go by, with more food for the bacteria in the tank, the bacteria will grow and multiply. Sometimes you’ll see cloudy water in the tank- this is normal. This is just a bloom of bacteria floating in the aquarium water column. Anaerobic bacteria in your tank will cause the nitrate levels to decrease. When your tank has finished cycling and your aquarium environment is balanced, your water should be clear. EcoBio-Stone keeps levels of beneficial bacteria high in your tank, which keeps your aquarium water clear, clean and healthy.

Conventional aquarium cleaning techniques remove these bacteria from the environment. Completely changing filter material, constantly vacuuming aquarium gravel and continuous sterilization of aquarium furniture and other decorations kills and removes these good bacteria. To keep the bacteria in your tank and keep your tank looking clean, simply remove bits of extra uneaten food daily, and wipe down the glass of your tank with a clean cloth or sponge. Once a month, clean out your filter material by gently rinsing out the filter with aged and tepid water, which will keep the bacteria in your filter but remove debris. Try to not over feed your fish, as this is the usual main reason for fish deaths and unhealthy aquariums, even after you allow your tank to cycle.

Cycling your tank is a natural process when starting your new aquarium. Given some time in the beginning, your fish tank will reward you with long lived and healthy inhabitants for years to come.

 

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Everything You Need To Know About the Different Types of Fish Food

Once you have purchased your fish, you need to supply them with the proper food that will keep them healthy and happy. It doesn’t always have to be a big bag of fish flakes. Your fish also need good nourishment that will give them an active life, enhance their growth and stimulate breeding. Their diet should also give them a more efficient immune system against sickness.

One popular type of fish food is the dry fish food. This includes flakes, pellets, wafers, and granules. There are many different formulations of dry fish food to cater to different species of fish. They can be made from plant, animal or fish products. Most of them are fortified with vitamins and minerals for a more complete nutritional diet for your fish. Some are concocted for special purposes like intensifying the colors of the fish or making the scales shinier.

Larger fish, those bigger than an inch, require a more specialized diet. The carnivores or omnivores will prefer meat in their diet. One very popular meat food is bloodworms. Bloodworms are red mosquito larvae that can be purchased frozen from aquarium supply stores. They are considered the more nutritious alternative to flakes and pellets. They look like small ice cubes when packaged and you just drop these cubes in the aquarium water when it’s feeding time.

Other fresh or frozen foods for your fish are brine shrimps or krill. Not only are brine shrimps nourishing, they also somehow bring out the colors of tropical fish. A small crustacean, called the Daphnia, or water flea is also another option for the carnivores. They may be delicious to fish but they are not really full of nutrients.

Earthworms or other worms are also popular food for some larger fish. They are high in protein but will not give your fish a balanced diet. Like the Daphnia, they should not be the only food source of your fish. To many larger predatory fish, feeder fish or any small fish are the best food, although they don’t usually go for community fish in an aquarium.

There should be a rotation of some or all of these foods in feeding your fish not just to give them balanced nutrition but also to provide variety in their diet. They are likely to get tired of the same food day after day just like any person. You also have the option of supplementing the dried pellets or flakes diet with live or frozen food.

Herbivores, unlike carnivores, will be happier snacking throughout the day rather than eating at a regular schedule. Fresh plants in aquarium tanks are good sources of food for them, and they can also eat any algae that are present in the aquarium.

You can also supplement your fish’s food supply with vegetables like blanched spinach leaves, slices of zucchini and cucumber, and peas directly to the tank. Let this vegetable matter float for an hour or two, and then remove them from the tank. Some dried foods, particularly algae wafers, also make a good choice for herbivores.

Feeding the right food to your fish is not really difficult. You just have to make a little research to find out the preferences and nutritional needs of your fish. Different species will have different needs. Make the necessary adjustments to the kind and amount of food you feed them as they grow. Remember to give them variety and a balance diet and your fish will thrive and live a full healthy, perky and happy life.

Leonard Boyler has been keeping fish for more than two decades. His favorite products make aquarium care and maintenance very easy from start up to clarifying cloudy aquarium water. To learn more about how you can keep your water clear and have healthy fish, please visit ONEdersave.com.

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