Archive | June, 2012

Aquarium Tips of the Day | Rinse All of Your Tools Off

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day will help you keep from getting foreign particles into the water of your fish tank. Ever just grab a 5 gallon bucket and just start filling it with RO/DI water in order to top-up what your tank has lost due to evaporation? Then, halfway through the process look down and realize that there are several hairs, dust, and dirt particles floating around in it? Now, you have to dump that water out, rinse out the bucket, and start all over. You probably would’ve saved a whole lot of time if you had just rinsed the bucket out in the first place.

Just rinse your tools off before using them for your aquarium. This does not mean that you can use that bucket that you used to use to mix chemical household cleaners in as long as you rinse it out first. NEVER, use that bucket for your aquarium. However, you probably have clean, aquarium safe tools that you will use on your aquarium regularly. Prior to placing those tools into your aquarium water or your aquarium system, just rinse them off with normal tap water. It doesn’t have to be special filtered water or water that you’ve put special additives into. Just use the water that comes straight out of your tap.

See, even though you use those aquarium tools regularly, they still just sit around for some period of time every day. During that time they are collecting dust, dirt, and whatever other small particles might pass them by. I’m not saying that your house is dirty. Every house has a little dust and grime floating around it. You may not have used that bucket for 2 weeks since your last water change. Could something have fallen in it? Floated into it? Crawled into it? Maybe, but just check it out and give it a quick rinse!

Your aquarium isn’t used to those dust particles. They may make your water conditions go haywire. Its just easier to give your aquarium tools a quick rinse before using them and it ends up that it can save a lot of time as well.

Leave any and all comments below!

TJ

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Aquarium Tips of the Day | Try your hardest to Find Tank Bred Livestock!

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day won’t only help you save the planet, it may also save you the headache of nursing a stressed fish back to health. It is usually very simple to do. You may have to ask a few questions at your Local Fish Store (LFS) or send an email to the online fish store that you’re ordering from. However, the information you seek is normally readily available. All you have to ask is…Is this fish tank bred and tank raised? Where is this fish from and how did it get here? Please, please, please, try your very hardest to find tank bred livestock for your aquarium.

First of all, purchasing tank bred fish and invertebrates is the “green” way to go. If you are purchasing a tank bred fish you are not purchasing a fish that was removed from its home in a natural reef ecosystem or a lake or river somewhere halfway across the Earth. Those ecosystems need those fish in order to thrive and sustain natural habits and species diversity. If you remove too many of the smaller, tropical fish, then there isn’t enough food for the larger predators in that ecosystem.

Second, while tank bred and raised fish may cost more, they should also be easier to care for. You can have the peace of mind that you didn’t take anything from a natural ecosystem and the peace of mind that your fish is used to its surroundings. It wasn’t pulled from its home half way across the world and transported in a small bag or container thousands of miles to reach its new aquarium. The tank bred and raised fish isn’t stressed from all of that travel. It doesn’t know anything other than finding a home in a tank and being fed aquarium food. It should be a hardier fish, a less stressed fish, it should be used to its surroundings, it should be eating aquarium food, and it should adapt a whole lot easier to your tank. The question is, why wouldn’t you want a tank bred fish?

We’re not saying that there aren’t sometimes issues with finding tank bred fish. Almost all of the freshwater fish that aquarists keep these days are tank bred. However, there are only a few tropical saltwater fish that have been bred in an aquarium successfully. All we ask is that you try your hardest. You do some research, and you try your best to first find fish that are tank bred and raised.

Where do your fish come from? Leave your comments below!

TJ

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Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 007 | Aquarium Filtration, Part 1

Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 007

In this episode of Aquarium Tip Tank we talk about the three main methods of filtration and how they are performed. In the next episode of this filtration series we will go over the devices that are used in an aquarium set up to perform the different types of filtration and discuss the  filtration system that I am planning on using for my 30 gallon marine tank.

Do you use all 3 methods of filtration? Leave comments below!

TJ

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Aquarium Tips of the Day | Use Proper Exposure Protection

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day will keep you safe. First, you should know what you have in your aquarium, and the threats that your livestock may pose to your safety. However, when you reach into your tank to re-position that power head, pump, or magnet cleaner that has been there for a day or two you have to realize that there may be an errant tube worm, sharp shell, or stinging tentacle that has found its way to where you want to grab. It’s easy to protect yourself. Just make sure that you wear the proper exposure protection when you must place body parts in to your fish tank.

This may mean that you put a pair of gloves on. If your tank is huge it may mean that you jump into a wetsuit. You may even want to throw a pair of protective glasses on to protect your eyes. I know, it sounds like I’m going a little overboard here, and I’ll admit that I don’t usually put gloves on. I also know that I’m not allergic to marine animals, or shellfish, and that I don’t keep any poisonous livestock. I also try to only take hold of things that I can see and inspect first. However, if I’m going to grab something buried, or hidden, I always make sure to throw on a pair of gloves.

Wear the proper exposure protection and save yourself from stings, cuts, scrapes, and possible poisoning. It has happened to the most experienced hobbyists I know, and afterwards they always claimed that they wouldn’t have gotten stung had they took the 2 seconds to throw on some gloves.

Been cut, scraped, stung, or poisoned messing around in your aquarium? Tell us the story! Leave comments below.

TJ

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Aquarium Tips of the Day | Float your Fish Bag

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day is one of the steps to help acclimate new fish to your aquarium. This acclimation step is the one that will really help get the fish acclimated to the temperature of the water in your fish tank. Its really simple. Just keep your fish in the bag that it came in and float that bag at the top of your aquarium for about 30 minutes with the lights off.

If you have a refugium, wet/dry filter, or sump below your fish tank or somewhere out of sight, you can also float your fish bag there without turning the lights to your main tank off. Of course, this location has to be big enough and have enough of your aquarium water running through it to float your fish bag. Otherwise, float the bag on top of your main aquarium tank and make sure you turn the light off.

This will allow the heat of the water in your tank – or temperature of your water considering the fact that I guess there is a possibility of your aquarium water being cooler – to slowly transfer to the water in your fish bag. The temperatures will slowly equalize and your fish won’t be stressed by quickly being dunked into water with a different temperature.

The water in the fish bag shouldn’t be too far off from the water temperature of your aquarium. After all, you should be purchasing livestock that are well suited for the conditions of your tank, and the store that you bought your fish from should be keeping the fish in similar temperature water. However, you did have to transport your fish home, and that just leaves time for the water in the fish bag to change temperature. How that water temperature changes all depends on the ambient air conditions that surround the bag on the way home.

Adding new fish to your tank? Leave your comments below!

TJ

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Freshwater Aquarium vs Saltwater Aquarium

Here at Aquarium Tip Tank we talk a lot about saltwater aquariums because that is what most of us keep, I have a small one that I am keeping, and I am in the process of setting up another 30 gallon saltwater aquarium. However, many of the aquarium tips, tricks, and advice that we give can be used for both freshwater and saltwater tanks. Therefore, we figured that we would list some benefits to keeping a freshwater fish tank, explain those benefits, and compare to a saltwater set-up. Here we go.

Freshwater Aquarium Benefits:

  • Not much need for specialized lighting.
  • No need to mix salt into water.
  • Hardy fish that are usually easier to care for than marine fish.
  • Majority of freshwater aquarium fish are tank bred.
  • Freshwater aquariums are generally less expensive than saltwater aquariums.
  • Freshwater aquariums are generally easier for beginners to care for.

When I look at the list above, I realize that almost all of the freshwater aquarium benefits can be grouped under the last two. Freshwater aquariums are generally less expensive and easier to care for. All aquariums require a tank, substrate, filters, lights, test kits, food, nets, scrapers, and possibly a quarantine tank. A saltwater tank requires a few more pieces of equipment such as a hydrometer, power heads, a protein skimmer, extra test kits for calcium and alkalinity, and possibly some live rock and sand instead of the cheaper gravel that is used in a freshwater tank.

Obviously, all of this extra equipment costs money, and has to be maintained in properly working order. This is also only for a fish only with live rock (FOWLR) set up. If you want to keep a reef tank with corals and other invertebrates you will need a lighting system that will deliver more light to those light hungry invertebrates. You will probably also want more live rock, a refugium, and a reverse osmosis (RO) filter unit – we recommend RO filtering all of your water for freshwater or saltwater tanks, but you will definitely need one for a reef tank.

Now lets talk a little bit about ease of care. I don’t want to scare you out of keeping a saltwater aquarium so I will first say this…I honestly don’t think that the maintenance of a saltwater tank is that much more difficult. There are a few extra maintenance tasks to take care of for a saltwater tank, but in my opinion, they don’t take a long amount of time, and they aren’t that difficult.

First, water changes for a freshwater tank are a little bit easier. This is mainly due to the fact that you don’t have to make your saltwater. You can keep a beautiful freshwater tank by using dechlorinated and filtered tap water. With saltwater aquariums you have to dechlorinate and RO filter your tap water into storage buckets to mix the salt in. This saltwater making process is usually done a few days before a water change.

Second, the livestock of a freshwater aquarium is generally a little bit easier to care for. The vast majority of freshwater aquarium fish are tank bred and tank raised. The Aquariums are their homes and where they are used to living. They are used to being fed and eating aquarium foods. They were not transported from a reef halfway around the world. Therefore, freshwater fish are much less stressed about their aquarium environment and end up being hardier fish that are a little bit easier to care for and keep happy.

You also won’t be able to keep any corals with specific demands for  lighting and water conditions. Sure, you may want to keep some live plants, but you can still keep some live freshwater plants with NO fluorescent lights and dechlorinated and filtered tap water. Some freshwater plants may require more light intensity for photosynthesis, but it is not near the light intensity necessary to keep corals and other sessile invertebrates.

Finally, please don’t let any of this dissuade you from keeping a saltwater aquarium. Once you have your tank and your equipment and it is all set up, cycled, and the proper lighting and water conditions have been established, the maintenance tasks for keeping a healthy marine aquarium are not that much more expensive or difficult than keeping a freshwater aquarium. You can always buy your saltwater from a LFS instead of making it yourself. You just have to have containers to keep it and transport it in. If you choose and care for your fish wisely, marine fish also aren’t that much more difficult to care for. Just remember, a lot of marine fish in your LFS are probably taken from the Earth’s reefs. Keep your fish happy and healthy so that you’re not the aquarium hobbyist depleting those reefs of tropical fish.

Comments? Got some cool pictures of your tanks? Leave a comment below!

TJ

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Aquarium Tips of the Day | Have a Sturdy Tank Stand

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day will give you confidence that your fish tank will stay upright and you won’t come home to a broken tank and water all over your floor. It’s really simple. Just make sure that your tank stand is sturdy enough to hold your aquarium!

First, water weighs a whole lot. With all of the equipment, substrate, rock, etc. just round up and say that every gallon of water is 10 lbs that your stand has to hold up. For a 30 gallon tank, that’s 300 lbs. For a 100 gallon tank, that’s 1,000 lbs. Please make sure that your stand can hold all of that weight.

Second, sturdy doesn’t only mean that it can hold a lot of weight. With all of that precious cargo you also don’t want your tank to tip, wobble, fall over, and break. Make sure that your fish tank and its stand are on level ground with sure footing. You don’t want to end up with your fish tank, all of your water, your pet fish, and all of that great equipment broken on the floor!

Ever had any issues with your tank stand? Leave comments below!

TJ

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Aquarium Tips of the Day | Use a Gravel Cleaner

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day will help you get more of that detritus (fish waste) out of your fish tank when performing a water change. Less fish waste means less work that the helpful bacteria in your tank has to do to break down the nitrates and nitrites, and better chances of keeping the ammonia level in your aquarium at zero. High levels of ammonia are toxic to fish and invertebrates. Therefore, this will help keep your fish happy and healthy! All you have to do is use a gravel cleaner when performing a water change to get down into your substrate and remove the waste that has settled there over the last week or two.

A gravel cleaner is nothing special or expensive. In fact, it is probably already on the end of the siphon tube that you use to perform your water changes. Some manufacturers put special filters, bags, pumps, and other features onto their siphon tubes, but all that stuff isn’t really necessary. Don’t get me wrong, it may make the job a little simpler and easier, and even those aren’t very expensive. However, the larger, hard plastic tube at the end of my siphon, that has an angle at the end to make it a little easier to get into the substrate is all I use.

Once I get my siphon primed and running, I basically just go around the bottom substrate of my entire tank. I stick the “gravel cleaner” into the substrate until the substrate gets pulled up the tube and almost starts going into the smaller tube. Then, I crimp the smaller tube with my  other hand to stop the flow of water and allow the substrate to fall back to the bottom. This usually creates separation between the detritus and the substrate itself. See, the detritus is lighter than the substrate and even if I let go of the crimp in the tube that I created with my other hand and let the siphon start pulling water into my dirty water bucket before the substrate is all the way back down on the bottom of my tank, I usually end up getting all of the waste to travel into my dirty water bucket without any of the substrate.

Once I’m done going around and cleaning out all of the substrate in my tank I usually still have more water that needs to be siphoned out of the tank. So, I go around the aquarium gathering water from all spots, and maybe I go back to some areas of substrate that looked a little dirtier. All the while I’m allowing dirty water to travel out of the tank and into my dirty water bucket. If I still have more water to get out of the tank after all of that, then I just make sure that I haven’t pulled the end of the tube out of the water (after all, this would make my siphon stop!), I place the end of it in a safe place and just allow the water to flow into the dirty water bucket until I’m done.

Performing water changes regularly? Got a special gravel cleaner that works really well for you? Leave comments below!

TJ

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Aquarium Tips of the Day | Purchase Fish that Suit Your Aquarium Conditions

Yes, I’m sure a lot of you are looking at this Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day and saying, “DUH! I’m not going to buy a saltwater fish for my freshwater aquarium or anything.” However, there is a little more to it than that. If you follow this tip, do a little research about your fish, and put it all to good use, you’ll be able to relax, knowing that your livestock is happy and healthy.

See its not just about putting freshwater fish into a freshwater tank. You have to ask yourself questions like, what kind of fish do I have in my aquarium already? Will my new fish get along with the fish that I currently have?  Is the aquarium big enough for another tang?

Angelfish are beautiful saltwater fish, but they are also aggressive.  You can’t just have a tank full of angelfish because they will fight, get stressed, and some of them will die. Clownfish are very hardy saltwater fish, and can be great for beginners. However, clownfish can also be aggressively territorial. Unless you find a mated pair, you should only keep one clownfish. If you want to add a clownfish to your tank you should also make sure that the tank is big enough, and that it has a cave, hole, or anemone in a section of the aquarium that it can call “home”.

These are just a few examples of things to look out for when purchasing fish for your tank. First, when you set up your tank, you should have put some thought into the fish and livestock you wanted to keep. Then, once you have an established tank, its much easier to make sure that any additional fish you’d like to keep will actually suit your aquarium conditions rather than trying to change the conditions in your tank, and possibly stressing the livestock you currently have, just to keep one new fish.

Having fun stocking your aquarium? Leave comments below!

TJ

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