Archive | April, 2012

Free Tank Selection Worksheet!

One of our Aquarium Tips of the Day here at Aquarium Tip Tank is to use checklists and worksheets to keep your aquarium adventure simple! Its much easier to remember the maintenance tasks that you have to perform if you have them written down in front of you and can just check them off as you go. It is also much quicker and easier to go through a worksheet to pick out the new equipment that you want, or to see if the new fish that you want to add to your tank is compatible with the rest of your livestock.

Personally, I’ve read all of the books and tried to absorb all of the information in them, but I hate having to climb up my bookcase, pull all the aquarium books out, and scan through them until I find the information that I’m looking for. These days I’ve gotten a little more efficient by just making up checklists, worksheets, and charts that I use for everything from buying equipment like tanks or lights and selecting livestock to performing water changes and testing water quality.

I’ve decided to give my Tank Selection worksheet away for free! Just sign up for the Aquarium Tip Tank e-updates and news up there in the upper right hand corner and we will send you the link to get your free worksheet! Then, feel free to change it and update the checklist as you wish.

Have you made up any checklists of your own? Leave comments below.

TJ

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Aquarium Tips of the Day | The Fish Growth Factor

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day will keep you from doing extra work several months down the road. Some fish grow so fast that they may outgrow your tank in a matter of weeks. Personally, I would hate to have to find a new home for my fish so quickly. One of the best things to do when aquiring new fish or livestock is to make sure that you know and take into account the growth factor of the livestock that you plan to add to your aquarium.

You have to understand that if you buy a young, healthy, juvenile fish that it probably still has some growing to do. You also have to take into account that your live plants and corals will also continue to grow. It is very easy to find the maximum length of your species of fish, and use that as a guide, but also consider that the fish may grow wide as well! Just make sure that you know the size and the limits of your tank, what you plan to keep in it, and the size and speed at which that livestock tends to grow!

Ever relocate due to something outgrowing your tank? Leave a comment below.

TJ

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Lionfish Derbies 2012

REEF along with sponsors Divers Direct are holding a lionfish derby tomorrow at Black Point Marina, Key Biscayne, FL. Head on over to there Lionfish Derby page for more details including rules, registration forms, waivers, etc.

It may be a little late to get to this lionfish derby unless you live in Miami or were already planning on traveling there and already have access to a boat. However, REEF’s Lionfish Derby page lists the other lionfish derbies that are planned for 2012 in the South Florida and Bahamas area.

Lionfish are a non-native species of fish that are taking over and destroying reefs and coastal areas of the Caribbean, Florida, The Bahamas, and are moving up the Eastern US seaboard. Lionfish have very showy, spiked pectoral and dorsal fins and the very tips of those spikes on their fins are venomous. Those venomous spines are so effective at keeping predators at bay that lionfish don’t have any known natural predators, but they are very ravenous predators themselves. They will hunt and eat any fish on the reef that they can fit into their mouths.

Not only do lionfish eat all fish on the reef while nothing eats them, but they also reproduce at an alarming rate. They seem to reproduce year round, and females release two mucus filled egg clusters frequently. Those egg clusters may contain as many as 15,000 eggs each. That’s 30,000 eggs each time a female releases her egg clusters. Again, this happens frequently and year round. That mucus filling the egg clusters is also said to make the clusters distasteful to predators. So here’s a fish that is not native to these waters, it eats everything, reproduces often and in abundance, and nothing really eats it or its eggs. The lionfish is taking over, and we’d like to find a way to stop it.

Fortunately, the meat of a lionfish is very tasty. Also, only the very tips of those spines are venomous, your skin has to be punctured to get stung, and they are fairly easily removed to provide a very white, meaty, light, delicious fish meat with an almost buttery taste. So, be careful when collecting. Have some good, puncture-proof gloves on. Grab a spear and a good collection bag and go get yourself some lionfish!

Personally, I killed a few of them while on a sailing trip on my buddy’s catamaran this past New Year. We had spears to do some fishing with. No tanks are allowed when spearfishing in the Bahamas so we would just do some free diving, searching for some good fish to eat. We came across lionfish at almost every reef we went to. We had wetsuits and gloves on that offered some protection and we would just spear them, put them in a collection bag and swim them back to the boat. I’ve included a great video below about how to filet a lionfish. The fish sandwiches that we had from our lionfish were fantastic!

Got a good lionfish recipe? Leave comments below.

TJ

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The Aquarium

A vote was taken and the results were unanimous. A piece has to be written about the aquarium. This is a website about keeping an aquarium so lets start with the basics. I will not go into the history of the aquarium, different tank designs, or aquarium equipment in this post. If you want those details you can always head over to the aquarium wikipedia page. I will attempt to cover the topic of the aquarium from definition along with some personal insight. Here it goes.

Aquar-i-um noun

  1. a container (as a glass tank) or an artificial pond in which living aquatic animals or plants are kept
  2. an establishment where aquatic organisms are kept and exhibited (Mirriam-Webster)

What we should all realize from that definition is that it is not just the tank, but that tank must be housing living aquatic animals. I’m also going to emphasize aquatic. Small land animals such as hamsters, lizards, and turtles are part of a terrarium. Yes some of those animals do swim around in the water a lot of the time and some turtles spend most of their lifetime in their aquatic world. However, the way that you keep them is not in a tank full of water. They are usually kept in a tank that is mostly dry and might have a few decorations and a small pool of water for the animal to use.

An aquarium is a small homemade aquatic ecosystem. The largest aquarium in the world, Georgia Aquarium’s Ocean Voyager tank, holds 6.3 million gallons of saltwater. It is still small compared to the 343 quintillion gallons that make up all of the water in the world’s oceans. I have a small 12 gallon mini reef aquarium. No matter how big or small, saltwater or freshwater, public or private, fish-only or reef, the ecosystems and the living aquatic organisms of these aquariums are still beautiful, amazing, relaxing, and diverse.

The aquatic organisms that are housed and exhibited in the aquarium interact to form a biological community and cycle. When you start your aquarium and have to go through the nitrogen cycle you are introducing fish waste, uneaten fish food, or ammonia to your tank to grow beneficial, microscopic bacteria. Some of the bacteria, called nitrosomonas, eliminate the ammonia by oxidizing it, forming nitrites. Soon, more beneficial bacteria, called nitrobactors, develop, colonize the tank, and convert the nitrites into nitrates. Ammonia and nitrites are very toxic to fish and aquatic organisms. Nitrates are much less harmful unless large amounts are allowed to build up in the tank. Fortunately, nitrates can be fairly easily kept under control with live aquarium plants, live rock, deep sand beds, filtration, and regular water changes.

Those microscopic, beneficial bacteria colonies are the first organisms of your aquarium. They also start the ecosystem that can soon include live plants, colorful fish, and beautiful corals. Hopefully, that ecosystem will grow as the organisms spawn and bring new life to the aquarium.

 

Ready to start and grow your aquarium? Leave comments below.

TJ

 

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Aquarium Tips of the Day | Get Outside

Today’s aquarium tip may seem a little bit odd considering this is a website about home aquariums. However, Earth Day was just this past Sunday and conservation has been on the mind. This tip should help you relax though. So go ahead and turn off the TV, turn off the computer, put the video games away, take one last look at your beautiful aquarium, and get outside and out of the house!

I say this tip is about conservation because while you’re outside take some time to enjoy all of the beautiful things that nature surrounds us with. Head over to the park, take a walk, and take a nice deep breath of fresh air while enjoying the birds and the trees. Maybe you live near the ocean or the lake and you can take a walk on the beach and find some fun creatures that live there. Go with your friends and family and teach your kids about all of the fish in the rivers and streams you might be surrounded by.

Children are spending half as much time outside as they did 20 years ago. If we don’t get them, our friends, and our family outside to enjoy the things that nature has to offer in its oceans, forests, plains, deserts, and canyons, then how are we supposed to expect them to help us conserve such beauty and life?

Take a trip outside recently? Camping? Hiking? SCUBA diving? Snorkeling? Leave comments below!

TJ

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100% Coral Coverage Video

I happened to recently stumble upon this great video of 100% Coral Coverage at a reef off of Kisan Island in the Solomon Islands. The video was uploaded about a month ago, but was filmed in 2006.

Its been 3.5 years. My question is, of course, is it still there? There have been storms, tsunamis, ocean water temperature increase, acidification, and a myriad of other issues destroying the coral reefs and with them, delicate ecosystems. Has anybody seen anything like this since 2006? Has anybody been back to this isolated location? By the way, if anybody (travel agency, research institute, conservation society, dive shop, etc.) wants to send me out there to take some video and report, I think I could probably find some time! Just leave a comment or head on over to the contact page and fire me an email!

So, hopefully you’re asking if there’s anything that you can do to help. First, get educated about what’s going on and help educate others. Go with your friends and family to your local aquarium, take some time to get a good look at their fish and coral reefs, and talk to them about their conservation programs. Ask them about their volunteer programs and volunteer if you can. If you live near water, head on out to the beach, put a mask and snorkel on and check out what’s under there. Take a SCUBA or snorkel trip on your next vacation, but do some research to make sure that the company you take the trip with values ocean conservation and follows some sort of an ocean conservation plan. Maybe its an extra $10 donation on your trip to help maintain the marine park that you end up swimming in, and make sure you look but don’t touch.

You can also head on over to sites like NOAA, or the Coral Restoration Foundation. While there you can learn about all sorts of environmental issues, the research that’s being done, and even leave a donation if you so choose. Also, check you this article in National Geographic about the Coral Triangle Rescue Plan.

Got some good underwater videos of fish and corals? Leave a comment below!

TJ

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Weekly Tip | Relax and Enjoy Your Aquarium

Notice that I didn’t call this one a tip of any one day or any one week, but that this aquarium tip should be recurring. You should do this as often as you can. Just sit back, relax, and take some time to put your feet up and enjoy your aquarium. Some times the hustle of life only allows us time to look at our aquariums while we’re taking care of the quick daily tasks to make sure their maintained and doing well. Take some time to pull a chair over, put all of your aquarium tools away, sit down and enjoy the interactions of the fish and the colors of the corals and invertebrates that you keep.

I know I get caught up in the busyness that life can present. I’ve been traveling for the last 5 weekends. I’ve been working during the week while finding time to unpack, pack again, dive at the aquarium, maintain my home aquarium, and make sure that I sit down to feed myself, and my fish. Sometimes I just have to tell myself, “Put everything down, sit back, put your feet up and just watch what’s going on in your aquarium for a little while.” When I’m done I’m more calm, relaxed, and I’m ready to move on with the rest of my day or night with a sense of ease.

Comments? Leave them below!

TJ

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Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 005 | Lighting the Aquarium Part 1

Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 005

In this episode of Aquarium Tip Tank we share aquarium tips to help you light your aquarium. Included in this episode are some tips to help you select the correct aquarium lighting system for the livestock that you intend to care for. We had to break it down into a few parts so that each podcast episode wasn’t too long. In Part 1 we discuss the lighting needs of all types of aquarium livestock and we try to explain all of the fluorescent and metal halide lighting options. In Part 2 we will discuss LED lighting options and explain how I went about choosing the lighting system for the marine aquarium that I am currently in the process of setting up.

TJ

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Tip of the Day | Double Bag Livestock in Transit

We’re back! Today we here at Aquarium Tip Tank will share a tip that will allow you to relax and worry a little less about your livestock when moving your aquarium to a new location. Wouldn’t it be terrible to arrive at your new location with several collapsed, flat bags of livestock sitting in a puddle of water? Well, double bag your livestock and you will probably arrive with full, airtight bags of livestock!

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General Site Update

I just have to apologize for the fact that sometimes things may seem a little slow around here. I’ve been out of town for several long weekends for various adventure, entertainment, fun, happy, sad, and personal reasons in the last few weeks. During the week, I go to work almost every day. I had high ambitions of getting a Tip of the Day out every day. It looks as if we will still call it a tip of the day, but it might be on a schedule of 2 or 3 times a week instead of 7. Currently, I am also the only contributor to the website. I’ll do my best to get a few posts out a week, keep the social network feeds flowing, create some podcasts on a somewhat regular schedule, and get my own marine aquarium up and running.

In the meantime, if you have any aquarium questions, or comments go ahead and leave them below!

TJ

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