Aquarium Care

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

Posts Tagged ‘Poor Water Quality’

Sticky: Controlling Aquarium Algae

Most aquarium hobbyists have to contend with the problem of algae growth sooner or later. The problem can come over time or burst out suddenly as algae bloom.  Understanding the kind of algae you might get in your tank is a big step toward fixing any problem that might arise. The first thing to do is to learn how to identify the algae and then follow the protocol to control it.

Kinds of Algae

Brown Algae – This kind of algae is the most common and is usually found in new tanks or low-light aquariums. You can recognize it by the soft clumps that they form on aquarium walls and fittings.  They are also referred to as diatoms and can be removed by scrubbing. Because they feed on nitrates, adding live plants will help as will algae eaters like the Otocinclus catfish or aquarium snails.

Cyanobacteria – Although cyanobacteria are often referred to as blue-green algae, they are really microbes that float through the tank as blue-green sheets.  They are easy to remove and need to be controlled as they can cause the death of fish or plants in the tank.

tank with green algae

Green Algae

Green Algae – Green water in the tank is usually the result of this kind of algae and often comes because of poor water quality.  This is the kind of algae that is referred to as algae bloom and will grow in tanks that are getting too much light or haven’t cycled properly. It usually forms a film on the tank walls and fittings and can be wiped off. Once the water in the tank has stabilized the algae will usually disappear. If it doesn’t, more drastic methods are necessary.

Thread Algae – Long threads (up to 30 cm) hanging on leaf edges are thread algae.  Low iron is usually the reason for this condition. Threads can be removed by taking a toothbrush and twirling the threads around it. Another way to control this growth is with Siamese algae eaters.

Green Spot Algae – Hard green spots on tank walls and on aquarium plants are the difficult to remove green spot algae. They usually occur in tanks which have too much light or are low in CO2 and phosphate. Normally, they are removed by scraping with a razor blade.

Red/Brush Algae – Red algae or brush algae are most likely to develop on slow-growing plants. pH does not affect them and they are hard to remove by hand. The only control known are Siamese algae eaters.

How to Control Algae

The best ways to avoid algae problems is to limit organic waste and keep good conditions in your tank. Regular water changes and limiting fish food to about as much as they can eat in a minute will help. Live plants also use up the nitrates which feed the algae which will keep them from growing. Algae need light, so keeping the tank out of the sun and only using artificial light for up to 12 hours a day will also discourage growth. Another simple and easy way to reduce the likelihood of getting an algae problem is by the addition of beneficial bacteria, which keep the tank clean and non-conducive to algae growth.

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How to Safely Add New Fish to an Established Aquarium

Introducing new fish to an already existing aquarium is not as easy as it may seem. There are a lot of things to think about and prepare before you can safely transfer your new fish to your aquarium. You cannot just buy any aquarium fish you want then dump them in the tank as soon as you reach home.

First thing to check is the quality of your water. It is stressful enough for all the fish involved when new fish are introduced to their number. Do not add to it by making them suffer in poor water quality. The stress in them might reach fatal levels. Make sure that you have the highest possible water quality by testing for the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. Do the necessary changes or cleaning before you add the new fish to the aquarium. If you dont like frequent aquarium cleaning, add an EcoBio-Block to your aquarium to give it the beneficial bacteria and trace minerals that can reduce harmful substances in your water and keep it clean, healthy and clear.

When choosing what fish to add to your aquarium, you need to determine if they will live companionably with your existing fish. Some fish will eat smaller fish, some others will fight and kill each other. You also have to know if your water will sustain the new fish. This means that you have to get the aquarium fish that will survive the temperature, pH, nitrate and ammonia levels you currently maintain. It is advisable that you add more than one fish at a time, to reduce the chance of any fish picking on just one new fish.

Your first step when preparing the aquarium for a new arrival is to rearrange the tank. Your established fish have their own hiding spots, and may become territorial if a new fish is introduced. Rearrange the plants and decorations, which will remove established territories and make the environment new for all of your fish. Make sure that there are plenty of hiding spaces where the fish can go until they get used to each other.

When introducing new aquarium fish to an established tank, never bring your new fish home from the pet store and immediately dump them into the tank. This will shock their system, and they may not make it.

For best results, you may want to set up a separate tank where you quarantine new fish for a week to check for signs of illness. Sometimes, pet store fish carry diseases, and you don’t want to introduce these into your aquarium. If you decide to transfer your new fish directly from the pet store bag to your established tank, first float the bag with the fish in your aquarium for a few hours. This allows time for the water temperatures to equalize. Then, open the bag to release your new fish into the tank.

Careful preparation to the aquarium, timing of the introduction of new fish, plus proper acclimatizing will ensure a smooth transition with minimal stress to all your aquarium fish.

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Aquarium Care Series: Treating Common Ailments

by Ruby Bayan, OurSimpleJoys.com

Prevention is always better than cure, so making sure that the aquarium environment is always ideal is your best preventive measure against illnesses. This means regular check-ups on the optimum efficiency of the equipment, constant monitoring of the integrity of the water condition and temperature, diligent precautions against introducing harmful elements into the environment, and most importantly, a close eye on the fishes themselves. Keeping informed on the latest innovations in water conditioning for fish health is also important; for example, beneficial bacteria found in products like EcoBio-Block could help prevent infections and disease.

However, sometimes, no matter how cautious or diligent you are at ensuring the health of your fishes, untoward circumstances bring about health problems that need serious attention. If only for this unpredictable occurrence of fish ailments, you should be ready with enough know-how on ways to address fish health problems.

Bacterial and Fungal Infections

The most common health problem among aquarium fish is infection from bacteria and fungus. The primary culprit is usually bad water quality. Pollution due to the rotting of uneaten food, irregular water changes, and poor tank maintenance contribute to the deterioration of the habitat — this makes the fishes weak and susceptible to infections.

Stress, from mishandling, introduction of aggressive or incompatible species, and habitat disturbances, also leave the fishes traumatized and susceptible to diseases. Malnutrition, or an inappropriate diet, aggravates the situation – anything considered malnourished is definitely taking a serious health risk.

Here are some examples of bacterial and fungal infections, and how to deal with them:

  • Fin Rot – Fish with long, trailing fins are most susceptible to fin rot – a degeneration and inflammation of the fin rays and membranes. Aside from poor water quality and vitamin deficiency, fin rot is often the result of infections arising from damage brought about by mishandling, as well as fin-nipping attacks from tank mates. Infected fish should be removed and the affected areas treated with commercially available anti-bacterial fish medicine. Remedy water condition and compatibility problems, as well as diet deficiencies to prevent the spread of the ailment.
  • Fungus – Aside from bacteria, fungus can attack the areas on the fish body that has suffered some extent of damage (such as wounds or holes left by parasites). Cotton-like fungal growth appears as patches that give the fish a dull, shabby appearance. To treat fungal infections, subject the tank to a fungicide remedy. Address other possible causes like poor water quality, parasites, and aggressive tank mates.
  • Pop-Eye – One of the more serious bacterial infections is called pop-eye, marked by inflamed eyes protruding from the sockets. Looking very sickly, fish infected with pop-eye usually contract the ailment because of poor water quality, mishandling or distress from fighting with other fishes. Antibiotics may be effective but, if the infection has progressed to a form of tuberculosis, the afflicted fish may have to be removed and euthanized.

Parasites

On rare occasions, even the most cautious aquarist can unknowingly introduce parasites into a well-maintained tank. New fishes, live food, live plants, and some decorations are all potential carriers of aquatic parasites. Here are some of the parasites you should watch for:

  • Fish Lice – Also known as Argulus, fish lice, looking like transparent flat disks, attach themselves to the skin and suck on the fish’s blood. The fish feels itchy and scratches itself on the substrate or on rocks and other hard décor.
  • Anchor Worm – Lernaea, or anchor worms, are greenish-white threadlike organisms that attach themselves to the body of the fish. The skin becomes inflamed and the fish scratches the affected area on hard surfaces in the tank.
  • Leeches – Worm-like leeches attach themselves to the host fish to feed on its blood. The fish feels the irritating suckers and tries to scratch them off on the substrate, rocks, or wood.

To treat parasite infestations, remove the afflicted fish from the tank, and with a pair of tweezers, pull the parasites off. Apply antiseptic to the wounds. Proprietary treatments against specific parasites are commercially available. You will have to treat the whole tank to prevent further proliferation of these harmful organisms.

Other Ailments

Aside from attacks by bacterial, fungus, and parasites, fish also suffer from other maladies, mostly related to intestinal or organ problems. For example:

  • Dropsy – Characterized by a severely swollen or bloated abdomen and is believed to be caused primarily by poor water quality (high nitrate or sodium chloride levels) and malnutrition. Remedy, therefore, involves correcting the habitat conditions and the fish diet.
  • Constipation – Sometimes the fish fails to digest food properly due to a poor diet and overfeeding. Constipated and bloated, the afflicted fish will not want to eat; hardly discharging feces, and feeling weak, it will often rest on the substrate. Experts suggest adding a teaspoon of Epsom salts to every 10 liters (2 gallons) of tank water, and then making sure that the fish is fed the right food in proper quantities.
  • Swim Bladder Disease – Poor water quality, mishandling, and congenital disorder are the main causes of swim bladder disease. The afflicted fish has difficulty staying upright, oftentimes swimming upside down or sideways. Antibiotics and improvement of the water conditions can correct bacterial infection due to a poor habitat. Congenital disorders and permanent swim bladder damage, however, may be irreparable, therefore, euthanasia should be considered.

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