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Unpacking the AquaC Remora-S Protein Skimmer

If you’ve been following along with the Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast you’ve been listening to a lot of aquarium tips for starting and setting up a home aquarium. You may have also heard me say something like, “A protein skimmer is  not necessary for the first few weeks of cycling your tank.” While this is true because you want to allow the organic compounds that the protein skimmer would normally remove to break down into nitrogenous waste to kick start your biological filter, a protein skimmer is one of the best ways to help filter the water and increase the water quality in your aquarium.

My 30 gallon saltwater aquarium had been up and running for about 2 weeks and I decided it was probably time to do some research and  purchase a protein skimmer. You may have also heard that my API Nexx Canister Filter leaked. My tank had been cycling for 2 weeks without any kind of filtration and only the Hydor Koralia Evolution 550 Aquarium Pump being used for water circulation. Everything was going well and all of the water tests that I performed were showing me that the tank was cycling correctly, but it was definitely time to add some filtration to the aquarium.

I decided to go with the AquaC Remora-S Protein Skimmer. Protein skimming is a type of mechanical filtration that physically removes organic compounds from the aquarium water, but it is the only way of removing those organic compounds before they start to decompose. This improves the water’s redox potential and eases the load on the biological filter. There are many aquarium hobbyists that swear that a  protein skimmer is the only filtration device they ever use to keep a smaller sized reef aquarium thriving and happy. My plan is to only use a protein skimmer, some chemical filtration with a phosphate reactor, the biological filtration of my live rock and live sand, and, of course, regular water changes.

There were a few things that I had to keep in mind when selecting a protein skimmer for my tank. The protein skimmer I chose had to:

  • Hang on the back of the tank- I don’t have enough room in the tank stand for a  sump to house the protein skimmer.
  • Not be an eyesore – After all, it is going to be hanging off the back of the tank and everyone will be able to see that it is there.
  • Be rated for at least 30 gallon aquariums, and preferably rated for larger aquariums.
  • Be quiet – In the world of aquarium equipment quieter is always better.
  • Be easy to clean and maintain – Isn’t this always a necessary feature?

The design of the AquaC Remora-S Protein Skimmer takes care of all of these concerns, and more! Some of the features included with the Remmora-S are:

  • Hangs on the tank
  • Compact Size and Profile
  • Translucent Gray Acrylic Main Body to inhibit the growth of algae and marine organisms
  • Rated for aquariums between 20 and 75 gallons
  • Neoprene foam noise muffler
  • Extended Collection Cup
  • Optional collection water drain fitting
  • Level adjustment screws at the base of the skimmer
  • High Flow Spray Injector
  • Nylon cleaning brush
  • Cobalt MJ-1200 Pump

The reviews were great. The Remora-S had everything I needed. I went ahead and ordered one, and it arrived just a few days later!

AquaC Remora-S Protein Skimmer arrives in a 3′ tall box

The Remora-S Protein Skimmer arrived in a very large box despite the fact that it is only 19 inches tall. Its probably from all of the packaging that was used to keep my delivery safe!

Remora-S Packed for safe travels

As you can see, the Remora-S protein skimmer was packed to withstand the worst of shipping environments. I’m glad everything arrived safely!

All the parts and pieces were packed well inside the actual Remora-S Protein Skimmer box too

The body of the Remora-S protein skimmer, collection cup, Cobalt MJ-1200 pump, and cleaning brush were also safe inside the actual AquaC packaging. However, I figured all of the parts and pieces would look much better out of the box!

All AquaC Remora-S Protein Skimmer parts out of the box!

The only real assembly steps for the Remora-S Protein Skimmer are giving everything a quick freshwater rinse, and attaching the output of the Cobalt MJ-1200 pump to the flexible intake tubing of the Remora-S. Then, you are ready to hang the Remora-S on the back of the tank, adjust the leveling screw, and plug the pump in. Skimming has been started!

Skimming with the AquaC Remora-S Protein Skimmer

The full profile of the AquaC Remora-S Protein Skimmer

The AquaC Remora-S Protein Skimmer uses a spray injection system that produces a powerful, high-pressure air-induction spray to bombard the main skimmer chamber and generate an enormous amount of waste-removing bubbles. Protein skimmers work by using an air stone, aspirator, or spray induction to create a large air/water interface by injecting large volumes of bubbles into the water column. Organic waste molecules then collect on the surface of the bubbles in the collection cup. The more bubbles that are created, the bigger the air/water interface is, and more organic molecules can be collected. For a huge increase in performance, the Remora-S features a high flow spray injector for increased air and water flow, smaller bubble size, and thus, more bubbles and organic waste removal.

Are you using a protein skimmer for your aquarium? What kind? Where is it in your system? Leave comments below!

TJ

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Adding Peppermint Shrimp to a Saltwater Aquarium

A couple of days ago at Aquarium Tip Tank I wrote about using the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System to acclimate all new livestock to the water conditions of your tropical fish tank. What I didn’t tell you is that I first used the system to acclimate 3 Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni)! These were the first of the cleaner crew, and the first of any livestock that I added to my 30 gallon saltwater tank. Today I will share some pictures and some aquarium tips for adding Peppermint Shrimp to a saltwater aquarium!

I have to admit, I had originally planned on adding a much larger cleaner crew to my tank. Unfortunately, when I asked my Local Fish Store (LFS) about a cleaner crew, the aquarium salesman said, “Well, we just took down our cleaner crew tanks and we’re about to start setting them back up. So, we probably won’t have much as far as cleaner crew goes for about 4 weeks.” My thoughts were, “Great. I’ve been cycling my tank for 4.5 weeks. I’ve got some diatoms blooming, and some algae starting to grow all over the live rock, live sand, and walls of my tank. Do they have anything in here that might eat some of that and help clear my tank up a little bit?”

Luckily, the LFS at least had some Peppermint Shrimp. While the Peppermint Shrimp is best known for enjoying a meal of nuisance Aiptasia, it will also scavenge the aquarium picking at the live rock and live sand for detritus, uneaten food, other nuisance algae, and decomposing organic material. Peppermint Shrimp have also been successfully tank bred.

While 3 Peppermint Shrimp won’t be a complete cleaner crew for my 30 gallon aquarium, it is at least a start. Like many invertebrates, Peppermint Shrimp can’t tolerate copper-based treatments or high nitrate levels. I’ve done some water testing and my water parameters are suitable, but I also know that if the Peppermint Shrimp survive, then some fish will survive too! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to put any aquarium livestock into unsuitable and stressful conditions. However, Peppermint Shrimp are abundant, have been successfully tank bred, and are sustainable. I’ve done everything that I can to ensure that aquarium conditions are suitable, and its time to acclimate these 3 Peppermint Shrimp and add them to my tank!

The bag of Peppermint Shrimp Hanging for Temperature Equalization while Dripping Aquarium Water Into it for Chemical Equalization

To read a little bit about acclimating new livestock check out what I wrote here.

2 Peppermint Shrimp in Corner of Bag being Acclimated

When the Peppermint Shrimp were done acclimating it was time to get them into the main tank. Whenever you do this with any livestock DO NOT just dump all of the contents of the bag into the main display tank. If the original water in that bag came from your LFS you have no idea what might be in there. If the water in that bag came from your quarantine tank, then it might contain the remnants of some copper based quarantine treatments (more on that later). Grab your trusty aquarium net, scoop up the Peppermint Shrimp, let the bag water drain back into the bag, and swiftly but gently add the Peppermint Shrimp to your main display tank!

One of the Peppermint Shrimp worked its way over to the corner of the tank under the heater.

Hopefully, the Peppermint Shrimp start exploring their new home and scavenging food from the live rock and live sand immediately after being added to the tank.

Peppermint Shrimp Hanging Out Upside Down Under Live Rock

Are you adding new tank mates to your aquarium? Show us! Leave comments below.

Stay tuned to Aquarium Tip Tank for the next round of cleaner crew additions!

TJ

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Unpacking the Koralia Evolution 550gph Movement and Circulation Aquarium Pump by Hydor

If you’re a frequent visitor here at Aquarium Tip Tank you probably know that I am in the process of setting up a 30 gallon saltwater aquarium. Actually, you’ve probably already seen pictures of the Koralia Evolution water circulation pump set up in this fish tank. However, I’m not quite sure that I’ve actually showed you the pump itself and explained who it is made by, why it is necessary, and how it works. I figured it is about time to share that information with you!

First, lets talk a little bit about water circulation in an aquarium. Good water circulation is important in a home aquarium for three main reasons. Water circulation provides a means of food delivery, waste removal, and the provision of oxygen.

In order to adequately disperse and deliver the food that is fed in a broadcast manner to the livestock of your aquarium, water must be circulated around the entire fish tank and to all corners of the aquarium. This is especially important when dealing with sessile invertebrates. After all, they don’t really move. Of course, you can dose individual corals with food filled syringes, but corals and their symbiotic zooxanthellae algae also grab the tiny particles of plankton and nutrients that are floating in the water. In order to make sure that the food an nutrient rich water passes close enough to the sessile invertebrates to feed, good water circulation is necessary.

Not only does circulating water deliver food and nutrients to all parts of a fish tank, but it also picks up and removes waste particles that have been left behind. The oceans have waves, currents, and tides that are constantly creating water circulation that removes waste. In an aquarium, water circulation must be created in order to pick those waste particles up and off of the corals, rocks, sand, and decorations. Proper water circulation will then help bring those waste particles to the inlet of the filtration system so that they can be removed from the aquarium water.

Finally, water circulation in a home aquarium helps with oxygenation of the water. Water does not have the ability to hold as much oxygen as air does. The warmer the water gets, the less oxygen it can hold and warm saltwater holds the least amount of oxygen. If water in a fish tank were left stagnant, only the water in the top water column of the tank would be in contact with the air for oxygenation. Good water movement will constantly circulate all of the water to the air/water interface, allowing gas exchange and proper oxygenation for all of the water in the tank.

Okay. Now that we know why proper water circulation is important in a home aquarium its about time I show you some pictures of how I’m moving the water around my 30 gallon reef tank.

The Koralia Evolution 550gph Movement and Circulation Pump Revealed

Koralia Evolution 550gph ready to be opened!

Most manufacturers show flow rates and recommended tank sizes for their pumps. As shown below, Hydor provides a chart on the back of their Koralia Evolution Movement and Circulation pumps.

A very general rule of thumb that is used when it comes to flow rates is that water circulation should be at a flow rate equal to ten times the net water volume of the tank for soft corals. For example, I’m putting this pump in a 30 gallon tank. Therefore, the flow rate for water circulation should be at least 300 gallons per hour (gph) if keeping soft corals. For hard corals, a flow rate equal to 30 times the net water volume of the tank can be used. Therefore, for hard corals, the general rule of thumb states that I would need 900 gph of water circulation.

I’m currently only putting one Koralia Evolution 550 gph Movement and Circulation pump into the tank, and that should work for right now. When I decide to put hard corals into the tank I may need to add another pump for a total of 1100 gph from power heads. However, some water circulation is also produced by filter returns and protein skimmers and another power head may not be necessary. That is a decision for future TJ to make.

Flow Rate Chart on back of Koralia Evolution box.

The Koralia Evolution 550gph in its box.

Koralia Evolution 550gph Movement and Circulation Pump out of the box!

Koralia Evolution 550gph Movement and Circulation Pump by Hydor in the Fish Tank!

Shown above is the Koralia Evolution 550gph pump by Hydor mounted to the side of my tank. Currently, the pump is actually closer to the top of the tank. The top of the tank just seemed like a better spot for the power head once the live sand, live rock, and saltwater were all in place. The location near the top of the tank also helps create some waves and turbulence at the air/water interface to help with oxygenation.

How do you circulate the water in your aquarium? Leave comments below.

TJ

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TJ’s 30 Gallon Saltwater Aquarium System Check

If you’re a regular at Aquarium Tip Tank you probably know that I am setting up a new 30 gallon saltwater tropical fish tank, and that I am sharing this process for all so that everybody can see how its done, get some home aquarium tips, and learn from my mistakes. Once you have all of the necessary aquarium equipment on hand, it is time to start setting up your tropical fish tank. All of the steps for home aquarium setup are listed in Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 010 | Setting up a Home Aquarium, Part 1.

The first step in this process is to get all of the equipment in place, running all of your hoses and plugs, and making sure that everything is in the location that you think you are going to want. You can listen to the story of how I cleaned and leak checked my aquarium tank prior to moving it into position on Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 003, and see how I set up and placed my API Nexx Aquarium Canister Filter here.

I attached my heater in place on the back wall of my tank, attached my thermometer to the side, got my light and light stand set up, and ran all of my plugs to my surge protector. At this point, it was time for me to put some RO/DI water into my empty fish tank and run a 24 hour system check. First, here is a quick little video about how I go about filtering my tap water.

Now that I have some RO/DI purified water, its time to fill up my fish tank and perform my 24 hour system check! I have to admit, not everything worked out exactly as planned. I hope you listened to Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 010 prior to setting up your tank and you had an empty bucket, some towels, and some extra RO/DI purified water handy.

Yes, you’ve probably guessed by now that I had a leak. Much to my dismay, the leak was coming from the API Nexx Canister Filter. BUT WAIT! Don’t return your filters just yet. I did eventually get it to work, and I think it was just user error. That’s the only thing that can really explain the leak because as I write this, the API Nexx Aquarium Canister Filter is currently working perfectly, and has been for 4 days.

I did try to fix the filtration system on my own – I apologize for not having pictures or video of this, but I was frantically gathering towels, cleaning up water, and turning electrical equipment off and not thinking about grabbing my camera. Initially, the leak was a small stream of water coming from in between the base unit and the canister section. I turned off the filter, dried everything up with a towel, and took the canister section off of the base unit.

On the bottom of the canister section there are 2 male water ports that slide into 2 female water ports on the base unit. The male water ports on the bottom of the canister section both have O-rings around them to seal up the tubing and keep water from leaking. This had to be where water was getting out. I decided to try putting some plumber’s tape around these ports, put the canister section back on the base unit, and try again to see if water stopped leaking. Well, the leak actually got worse.

I turned everything off, cleaned everything up, and at this point I was baffled. This thing could’ve been leaking from anywhere. Having a degree in Mechanical Engineering, it was, of course, time to take the entire system apart for inspection. I grabbed a screwdriver and started taking the API Nexx Aquarium Canister Filter apart.

This is where having some empty buckets ready really came in handy. In order to take the entire system apart, the tubes feeding the base unit and canister filters with water and returning the water to the tank, had to be removed from the base unit. Well, when you turn the handle to take the canister section off of the base unit, you are also closing valves and re-routing water. It was fairly obvious that there was still water sitting in the water tubes that would need to be drained. However, what happens when you disconnect the water tube from the base unit? Water keeps draining out of that tube until the water level in the aquarium is lower than the pump for the filtration system.  I’m glad I had a few empty buckets around.

I disassembled the entire filtration system, but still couldn’t find any other place that water could be leaking from. It wasn’t until after reassembling everything that I thought to myself, “You know, those o-rings on the male ports of the canister section are there for a reason. Maybe I shouldn’t be covering them with plumber’s tape. Maybe the plumber’s tape actually made the tape worse.”

So, I removed the plumber’s tape from the male ports on the bottom of the canister section of the filtration system. I then went about reconnecting the water tubes to the base unit, and very carefully placing the canister section back onto the base unit making sure that everything is lined up properly and that the canister section was pushed snugly onto the base unit. I turn the handle at the top of the canister section to lock everything in place and open up the valves that allow water to flow through the canisters, and turn on the canister filtration system one more time.

Much to my surprise, there are NO MORE LEAKS! The API Nexx Aquarium Canister Filtration system has been working great for 4 days now! The unfortunate part of all this is that I don’t really have an answer for you about why the thing leaked in the first place. My only guess is that maybe I didn’t have the canister section properly aligned on the base unit. Like I said, maybe it was user error?

I must also say that RENA/API, the manufacturers of the API Nexx Aquarium Canister Filter, were very quick and fantastic with customer support. I sat down and sent them an email before I took the canister filter apart. The email was sent on a Saturday evening at 6pm through their contact form on their webpage. By the time I woke up on Sunday morning I had a response to my email.

I will continue to keep you updated on the durability of the API Nexx Aquarium Canister Filter. Do I have trouble placing the canister section back on the base unit the next time I change my filter media? Do I spend 30 minutes to an hour chasing small leaks every time I take the canister section off the base? Or, does it work perfectly every other time I go to use it?

For now, here’s a video showing how I filled my tank with RO/DI purified water for my system check and how everything is performing and looking after letting my saltwater tropical fish tank system run for 4 days. Enjoy!

Did you perform a 24 hour Aquarium System Check? How did it go? Leave comments or questions below!

TJ

 

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Aquarium Tips of the Day | Turn off your RO/DI Filter

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank aquarium tip will keep you from flooding your floor. Do you have a large container or set of containers that you store your RO/DI purified water in for aquarium top-ups or water changes? Ever leave your RO/DI filter running too long, just to come back and notice that water was flowing over the edges of your container and flooding your floor? Make sure you turn off your RO/DI filter before you overflow your purified water containers!

This tip also comes from experience. Yes, I recently let my RO/DI unit run a little too long. Fortunately, I caught it fairly soon after my purified water container was full, and I fill my containers in a bathtub. So, one thing you can do to keep from flooding your floors is fill your containers in a “safe” place over a drain. But if you let your RO/DI filter run to the point of overflowing your purified water container you’re still wasting a lot of purified water and a lot of money.

One thing that might help remind you to turn your RO/DI filter off in time is setting a timer. For example, if you know it takes about an hour to get 5 gallons of RO/DI water, and you need 20 gallons, then set a timer for 4 hours. Most smart phones these days come with a timer application. Maybe you have a watch with a timer on it. If all else fails you can always use the timer on your oven or a simple, cheap cooking timer.

Ever overflow your RO/DI purified water container? Tell us the story below!

TJ

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Aquarium Tips of the Day | You can Recycle your RO/DI Waste Water

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day will help you be a little green and save a little bit of water. First, we recommend that you use a water filter to perform reverse osmosis and DE-ionize (RO/DI) your tap water before using it to make saltwater, top up your tank with freshwater, or use it for your freshwater aquarium water changes.  However, when a stream of  water is pushed through an RO membrane, two streams of water exit the membrane. One of these streams of exiting water is waste water containing the concentrated contaminants that were removed from the other, purified stream of water that you are going to use for your aquarium.  In fact, there is usually about 4 gallons of concentrated waste water produced for every gallon of purified water.  Doesn’t that seem like a waste of water? Just recycle it!

No, we’re not talking about saving it in containers and putting it through the RO/DI unit again. What we’re talking about is using it to water your house plants, water your lawn and garden, or wash your car. We’ll admit that there are a few logistics that you might have to work out to make this a viable solution for you. After all, getting 20 gallons of RO/DI purified water to change the water in your 100 gallon tank will produce 80 gallons of contaminated waste water.

You will have to find large containers for this waste water and figure out a way to move those containers to the spot where you’re going to re-use the waste water. Maybe your RO/DI filter is in your garage or your basement and it wouldn’t take much effort to run the contaminated water hose to a series of large, water tight trash cans? Or, maybe you only have  a 20 gallon tank and you only need 5 gallons of RO/DI purified water to perform a water change. In that case, you would only need one large, 20 gallon container for your concentrated waste water.

The topic of moving large volumes of water around could produce several more aquarium tips. For now, just know that there are ways to recycle your RO/DI waste water and use it around the house if you don’t want to dump it all down your drain. Also, you might spend some money on the water that you run through your RO/DI unit, but if you recycle your waste water, you won’t have to pay anything for the water you use to water your lawn!

Do you recycle your RO/DI waste water? How do you do it? Leave comments below!

TJ

 

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Aquarium Tips of the Day | Use a Drip Loop for the Cables of your Aquarium

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day will help you keep from frying your lights, heaters, and other electric aquarium devices. No matter how much you try to prevent water splashes and overflows, you’re never going to completely prevent them in the years that you have your aquarium. The problem is that water can help conduct electricity and there are several pieces of aquarium equipment plugged in somewhere near the tank. It is possible for that splashed, overflowed, or leaked water to travel down the cord to the plug and create a short, a surge, a fire, and possibly electrocute somebody. In order to prevent this, make sure that all of your power cords have a drip loop. We’ve included a picture of a drip loop below. This way, any water traveling down the cord sits at the bottom of the loop until it either evaporates or drips to a spot under and away from the plug and outlet.

Use a Drip Loop on all electrical cords for your Aquarium

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Did I make a bad decision getting a Canister Filter for a Reef Tank?

Maybe I should’ve gone with a sump and/or refugium for my tropical fish and reef tank. I was over at Reef Threads and heard about a post over at Reef Central about 5 things to remove from a reef system. One thing on that list is canister filtration. Well,  I plan on using my API Nexx Aquarium Canister Filter for my new 30 gallon reef tank.

I’ll admit, a sump system with a refugium is probably the very best way to keep a large reef tank. Once set up, a refugium may also be less maintenance than a canister filtration system. However, my tank is only 30 gallons and there just isn’t much room under and around it for an overflow box and an extra tank underneath for the sump. The tank also doesn’t have any built in plumbing for a sump, hence, the need for a hang-on overflow box.

Reef Threads does go on, and they do have a rebuttal for just about every one of the 5 points mentioned in the post. They don’t, however, go so far as to recommend canister filtration for a reef tank.  The issue is that everything needs to be regularly cleaned and maintained. Sponges, bio-balls, filter socks, filter medium, and canister filters can be nitrate factories if you don’t regularly and thoroughly remove, replace, clean off and maintain each of them. However, there are beautiful reef tanks that are kept by many aquarium hobbyists with all of these items in use.

The issue with aquarium canister filters is that they can be a pain in the butt to maintain. With many of them, there are valves you have to make sure you have access to so that you can close them and prevent water from spilling during the filter media change. There can be hoses to move, valves to close, latches to deal with, and several compartments to access in order to thoroughly rinse and change the filter medium. If not changed regularly – about once every 1 or 2 months – the filter medium can build up with too much particulate waste and become a nitrate factory that actually spits nitrates out and back into your aquarium. You also have to prime most canister filters in order to get them started or re-started after every filter medium change. People get lazy and don’t want to deal with all of that every month or two just to change some filter media.

However, I chose the API Nexx Canister Filtration system for a reason. The reason is that it is very quick and easy to change the filter medium and thoroughly clean out the filter medium chamber. With today’s advancements and technologies I can set a reminder in my calendars for a few days before a medium change needs to occur, and order the filter medium that I need. When it arrives a day or two later, I can take the 5 minutes to change out the filter medium and thoroughly rinse out the canister. All it takes withe the API Nexx Canister Filter is about 5 minutes to change the filter medium and thoroughly clean everything. Oh, and there’s no priming necessary.

In conclusion, no, I did not make a bad decision when I selected the API Nexx Canister Filter for my reef aquarium. Yes, there can be less maintenance with a sump and/or refugium once it is up and running. However, as long as there is a regular maintenance schedule, everything on your maintenance checklist gets checked off, and you are diligent about changing and cleaning all of your filter media, then you can have a very healthy and beautiful reef aquarium using all of the items listed in the Reef Central post. The API Nexx Canister Filter also makes filter media changes quick and easy.

What kind of filtration do you use for your reef aquarium? Leave comments below!

TJ

 

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We Love our Tropical Fish Tanks. Do you want one? Find out if starting a home aquarium is right for you.

At Aquarium Tip Tank we love our pet fish and we enjoy setting up and taking care of our tropical fish tanks. We love them because they’re beautiful, they are tools for education about underwater ecosystems, they are tools to promote marine conservation, they are fantastic and proven stress relievers, and they are just plain fun! For more on that, listen to Aquarium Tip Tank’s First Podcast!

However, before you jump into this wonderful hobby, there are a few things to consider if you’ve never taken care of a home aquarium before. We definitely don’t want to scare you off, but please realize that the fish in your tank will be your pets. Just like any other pet there is some research that you should do prior to picking out your pet, and there are some pieces of equipment that you will need in order to bring home your new pet and keep it healthy and happy.

Before you buy a Tropical Fish Tank:

For a home aquarium, the initial stages of research, equipment purchase, and tank setup, before you actually purchase and bring home any fish, accounts for the biggest chunk of time that you will have to devote to your new hobby. The size of your aquarium tank and the type of livestock you choose to keep will determine how simple or complex the maintenance of your tank will be.

Tank Selection and Fish Research:

In the end, the environment that you create in your tank must match the healthy living environment of the livestock that you want to keep. The task is to simulate the natural environment of the fish that you choose to keep as closely as possible. So, one of the first steps is to do some research into the kind of livestock you want to keep. You may want to keep an Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator), but when you start doing your research you figure out that a minimum tank size of 220 gallons is recommended to keep an Emperor Angelfish.

Our thought is that you have to start with tank selection and livestock research simultaneously. Do you have such an undying need to keep an Emperor Angelfish that you will use whatever spot in your home is big enough for a 220 gallon tank? Or, do you have the perfect spot for a tank in your home, but you can only fit a 50 gallon tank there? If you can only fit a 50 gallon tank, then you will have to do some research and find some tropical fish to keep that will do well in the environment that you can create with that 50 gallon aquarium.

Personally, I like to find the spots in my house with esthetic quality first, figure out the maximum tank size that I can put in that space, and choose my fish based on that tank size. I like to find a spot in my house where myself and my guests will see the tank, ask questions about the fish, invertebrates, and other livestock, and where its easy to relax and enjoy the personalities of my pet fish. But that’s just me. Maybe you want that Emperor Angelfish so much that you will put a large tank in your large, unfinished basement where most people don’t regularly go. It is up to you. If you need some help selecting a tank, go ahead and sign up for our FREE Tank Selection Worksheet and our e-updates and newsletter.

You’ve selected a tank location, and a tank size. You’ve purchased the tank you’re going to use and researched and selected some fish that you are able to keep in that size tank. What’s next?

Aquarium Equipment Selection:

While doing the research on the fish that you want to keep you may have realized that there are certain environments that your livestock normally lives in. The water temperature must be kept steady, the tank has to be lit to mimic the sunlight that the inhabitants of your tank normally receive, and the water quality needs to remain pristine with the use of a filtration system.

There are several varieties and countless brands of every piece of aquarium equipment. You can do hours upon hours of research to figure out exactly which pieces of equipment you want to purchase, or you can walk in to your Local Fish Store (LFS) and purchase whatever the salesperson suggests for you. The problem with walking into your LFS and immediately walking out with an aquarium setup is that you end up with less of an understanding of how everything works together to create the underwater ecosystem that you want to keep. You won’t know why you were sold those specific pieces of equipment. Maybe it was the best for your intended aquarium, or maybe it was the pieces of equipment that cost the most. We suggest that you at least do some research into the types of equipment that you want to use.

Fish Tank Setup

Now that you’ve purchased your tank, tank stand, filtration equipment, heater, thermometer, lighting, light timers, surge protectors, water additives, substrate, rocks, and decorations its finally time to actually setup your tank so that you can put fish in it! First, you need to place everything and attach it correctly on, in, and around your aquarium. Anything that is going into the tank and is going to be submerged in the aquarium water MUST FIRST BE RINSED off before placing it in the desired location in the tank. This includes your gravel, aquarium safe decorations, rockwork, etc.

Finally, its time to put water into the tank. If you are starting a saltwater aquarium, you may have to make the saltwater first. Once the water is in your tank YOU MUST CYCLE YOUR TANK. A whole article can (and will) be written about the Nitrogen Cycle and how to go about cycling your tank, but for now, just realize that it could take anywhere from 1 week to 6 weeks.

Now that everything is set up and properly cycled, fish can be added to the tank. From this point on, fish tanks require relatively little maintenance. There are many aquarium hobbyists that may laugh at that statement and completely disagree. However, we must remember that our fish are our pets. As with any pet, they need to be fed, and there are health and maintenance tasks that must be performed on a regular basis to keep our pets happy and healthy.

We have to feed our fish every day, just like any other pet, so we should also do a few quick water quality checks every day. While we’re feeding our fish, it only takes a few seconds to check the water temperature, make sure all of our pumps, lights, heaters, and timers are still in working order, and it will be obvious if some algae and grime needs to be cleaned off the inside walls of the tank. This usually takes less than 5 minutes a day. This is less time than it takes to walk, play with, feed, and take care of almost any other pet every day.

There are also bigger maintenance tasks that must be performed on a regular basis, but they are not daily tasks. It is recommended that a 20%-30% water change is performed on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. It is imperative that filter media be changed about once every 2 months. In conjunction with these, water quality testing should also be performed. The time it takes to perform these tasks depends on the size of your tank, how easy it is to change your filter media, and the demands of the livestock.

The Price of a Home Aquarium

All of these pieces of equipment that we’ve talked about so far need to be obtained for use somehow. Again, the cost of these items will depend on the size of your tank and the demands of the livestock you choose to keep. For example, a freshwater, fish only aquarium with fake, aquarium safe decorations, does not demand the specialized lighting and filtration systems that a planted tank or a saltwater reef tank does.

You also may be able to find hand-me-down equipment, equipment on Craigslist, or on aquarium websites with deals like That Fish Place. Personally, I’m in the process of starting a saltwater tank that I got from my brother-in-law. He used to use the tank and tank stand for a freshwater aquarium. With everything that you might get as a hand-me-down or from Craigslist, just make sure that everything works, nothing leaks, and you clean everything out.

Of course, the fish and other livestock for an aquarium also cost money. You also need to make sure you have food, and there are a few very low cost tools ($10 or less each) that you will use when performing routine maintenance. Once again, this is not unlike any other pet.

In conclusion, a decision should be made about if you want to do all of the necessary research, if you have the time, and if you have the money to take care of a pet. Every pet requires some initial research, some time to take care of them, and some equipment to make sure that they are in a happy, healthy, and clean environment. If it is tropical fish that you want to keep, then  join us at Aquarium Tip Tank, and ask us any questions you may have about home aquariums and the beautiful underwater ecosystems.

TJ

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Aquarium Tips of the Day | Use a Labeling System for your Fish Tank

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day will help you keep all of those lines, cables, plugs, and hoses in order! Ever look at the back of your tank and wonder what all of those tubes and cables were running to? Or from? There is a hose taking water from the tank and into your filtration system, then another hose bringing the filtered water back into the tank. You might have yet another hose bringing water into your display tank from a reservoir with fresh, top-up water. Then there are cables and plugs for all of the electrical components like lights, filters, pumps, heaters, and power heads. If you want to keep them all in order, grab a label maker, or some other type of labeling system and put labels on all of those hoses, cables, and plugs!

TJ

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