Aquarium Care

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

Posts Tagged ‘Nitrogen Cycle’

How to Obtain Clear and Good Aquarium Water Quality

Aquarium with neon tetras

Water quality management should be a very important consideration for those who own an aquarium. This is made possible with the help of different products in the market such as EcoBio-Block among others. However, you must also be refilling the tank regularly, have proper feeding habits and also good filtration in order to have the best aquarium water quality.

Majority of the people give up keeping an aquarium as a hobby within two years because the task of maintaining clarity all the time is very challenging. You have to clean the tank once or twice a month. Even after doing this in the right way, cloudy appearance might still occur.

It is difficult to come up with one solution for the cloudy appearance because it is caused by many issues. However, you should be encouraged because the problem can be dealt with easily. Gravel that is not washed properly can result to this during the first setup. Therefore, the residue will be washed out when the tank is filled.

The gravel can also react with the liquid to cause leaching of chemicals resulting in clouding. It is good to first test the substrate before you could fill up the tank. This is done by first knowing the pH of the water before the substrate could be added. You should add small amount of substrate and then leave it for some days. You might have to change the substrate if the pH happens to rise.

A cloudy appearance might also be caused by the bacteria bloom that the tank of the fish receives after the beginning of the nitrogen cycle. This happens many times so you can choose to wait it out or do partial refills during the first days. The aquarium might also be having more than enough fish food or a lot of fish waste. This will result to a build up of bacteria.

The other causes of this problem can also be excessive light, a lot of nutrients and also imbalance in the tank. This means you might go a long way in order to tackle the problem. However, EcoBio-Block can be very helpful in this situation. You only have to rinse the block in water that is free from chlorine. You need to soak the block through the night before you could drop it into your first tank.

The tank content will be clarified and the speed of nitrogen cycle will be increased once this step is used. It also eliminates bad smell because the new tank syndrome will be shortened. This is the best way of enjoying better aquarium water quality even without frequent refills.

 

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Sticky: Keeping Your Aquarium Well-Balanced

Well balanced aquarium

Well balanced aquarium

The hardest time to keep a balanced aquarium is when the aquarium is first being started. You add water – usually from the tank – and you condition the water as best you can but still, you sometimes lose fish in the beginning.  What is the best way to balance your aquarium?

The nitrogen cycle is an important aspect of your fish tank. It’s also called the nitrification cycle. It actually turns dangerous ammonia into nitrite and finally into nitrate, which is much safer for the fish. Ammonia is given off as part of the waste products of the fish and fish food, and is relatively toxic to the fish. Nitrifying bacteria come from the air and go into the water, starting the nitrifying cycle and help dangerous ammonia levels to go down.

A quick and easy way to balance your tank and keep it clear is to use one of the EcoBio-Block products which contain nitrifying bacteria. These multiply in the blocks and then spread into the water and attach to various things in the tank. The bacteria will then break down and reduce ammonia and nitrite levels. For example, you can start a tank with ammonia levels of 0.75 and small nitrite level of 0.1. Within a few weeks of using the EcoBio Block product, you can normally achieve ammonia, and nitrite levels of zero. The nitrogen system of the aquarium is properly balanced by the bacteria in the block and you lose much fewer fish because you don’t have an unhealthy system.

You need to balance the pH of your aquarium as well. Some can be a bit alkaline, meaning that the pH is too high or it can be acid, which means the pH is too low. Check the pH of your system using a pH test strip and then consider whether or not you need to change the pH.  Most fish can tolerate a pH of between 5.5 and 8.0 and if it is an established system with healthy fish, you may not want to make drastic pH changes in your system. If you need to lower the pH, you can try adding a piece of driftwood to your tank or add peat to your filtration system. You can raise the pH by adding coral or a seashell. Such gradual changes aren’t likely to hurt the fish but will help the fish gradually adjust to the pH changes.

All tanks eventually get some algae and some is beneficial. Too much algae, however, makes your tank unsightly and you need to prevent this as much as you can. Begin by keeping direct sunlight away from your tank. This holds true for the lighting in the tank, which should be on for no more than 12 hours per day. Make sure you go through frequent water changes so that the nutrient levels are diminished in the tank. Use algae eating fish, such as mollies, suckermouth catfish or Siamese Algae Eaters. All of these will keep your algae levels down in the aquarium.

It takes a lot of maintenance to keep your tank well-balanced. You can use a product like EcoBio-Stone to help keep that balance with a lot less maintenance. Such blocks last at least two years and will keep your fish tank healthy for a long time to come.

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Why Aquarium Water Testing is Important

One important thing that a person setting up an aquarium must not overlook is aquarium water testing. When you have arranged the decor in your aquarium and put water in, do not immediately add the fish but instead, let the water stand for several days to let the water settle. Beneficial bacteria in a product like EcoBio-Block will help you to speed up the nitrogen cycle. You can monitor this cycle daily with water quality tests, and add the fish a few at a time. At the start of the cycle, you will see a spike in the ammonia level. This will be followed by a nitrite spike when the beneficial bacteria convert the ammonia into nitrites.

Once you have fish living in your aquarium, test the water daily for the first few weeks as the water adjusts to having fish living in it. After this initial period, test the aquarium water weekly. Although most aquarium supply stores will test it for you, it is much easier to purchase a water test kit and do it yourself at home.

You will be presented at the aquarium supply store with a wide variety of testing kits to choose from. There are basic kits with strips that test important water quality indicators like pH, nitrate, water hardness, ammonia, nitrites and others. The strips change color to indicate the quality of the water.

The basic kits are convenient, but have some drawbacks. They are cheaper but are not very reliable. You can go instead with more complex testing, which involves a test tube. Add also a thermometer to your testing supplies so you can test the water temperature.

The health of your fish depends largely on the quality of the aquarium water. That is why it is essential that you do regular aquarium water testing. You need to add whatever is necessary in order to bring your water level to healthy levels for your fish.

Healthy pH level is around 6 or 7 for most fish, but they will generally tolerate a fairly wide range of pH. Any decor, food or medication added can change the pH level in your aquarium. You can increase or reduce the pH to healthier levels by adding some chemicals. A natural, but much slower approach will be to add driftwood or peat for more acidic water or a lime rock if you want more alkaline.

High ammonia levels are toxic to fish. Nitrite levels too, must be kept as close to zero as possible. What will reduce both will be partial changes of water. An easier way is to add beneficial bacteria. Nitrites will be converted to the less harmful nitrates by the beneficial bacteria.

Even simpler and less trouble is to have a bacteria colony established with the EcoBio-Block which gives long-term, continuous results. The bacteria breaks down ammonia into nitrites and then into safer nitrates. The bacteria live and multiply in the block and disperse into the water, keeping the water clear and healthy.

Aquarium water testing is a very important part of keeping your aquarium environment safe and healthy for your fish.

Leonard Boyler has been keeping fish for more than two decades. The products he likes best make aquarium care and maintenance very easy from start up to making your cloudy fish tank clear. To find out more about what you can do to keep your aquarium water clear and healthy for your fish please visit ONEdersave.com.

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In Search of the Right Aquarium Plants

If you are setting up an aquarium and you don’t yet have any decorations or plants, you may notice that your tank looks incomplete. In fact, plants aren’t just decorative, but a necessary addition to your aquarium. Aquarium plants provide hiding spots for your fish, making them more comfortable in the tank.

There are two main choices for aquarium plants: real and fake. Keeping real plants alive requires specialized care, above and beyond keeping your fish alive. Plastic plants, on the other hand, are easy to care for, even if it’s your first aquarium.

Plastic plants are long lasting and very easy to clean. You only need to take them out of the aquarium and wash with soap and water. The colors are varied and sometimes even more vivid than real plants. Although you have to be careful about the too bright colors or it might stress your fish. Some of them will adjust their colors to a less vibrant color in order to be less conspicuous to predators. Better stick to the more natural marine tones to bring out the natural bright colors of your fish.

There are also aquarium plants that are made of silk. They are a little more expensive but they appear more realistic and are easier to care for than other plastic plants. It is important to buy only silk plants that are designed for aquariums and not those found in craft stores that may contain chemicals that are harmful to your fish.

Fresh plants are of course, the most natural looking. Like some kinds of fish, though, they can be very hard to maintain. Some of them will thrive only under specific water temperatures or pH levels. Find the fresh plants whose specific needs are compatible with the water requirements of your fish.

There are other more noteworthy benefits in choosing real plants over fake ones. They give out oxygen and use up nitrates in the water thereby maintaining some balance in the nitrogen cycle. They also provide for breeding grounds for some fish and can be the natural food source to some others.

Although, fresh plants may appear to have many benefits, most varieties have special requirements that may discourage some people from using them. Many of them need lighting and special fertilizers. All fresh plants need light for photosynthesis. The amount of light required by these plants may vary depending on their kind. A special aquarium fertilizer is also a requirement for most plants. You cannot use your ordinary garden fertilizer. This will most likely kill your aquarium.

Cleaning fresh aquarium plants is more difficult than cleaning fake ones because you’ll have to clean them where they are planted. Decaying plant matter means a lot of waste at the bottom of your tank, which can reduce water quality. Products like EcoBio-Block can help keep your water healthy by providing a continual source of beneficial bacteria that breaks down organic waste, such as decaying plants, into safer by-products. Prune dying parts of the plant just like you would prune your houseplants. Healthy live plants improve your aquarium habitat, but if not cared for properly, they can reduce your water quality. Only you decide whether fresh aquarium plants are worth the additional maintenance.

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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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