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Easy Cleaner Crew Acclimation

A little while ago we shared some aquarium tips and pictures about acclimating aquarium livestock and the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System here. A few days later, I added some peppermint shrimp to my fish tank. This time, it was time to add the rest of the cleaner crew to my 30 gallon saltwater aquarium. Of course, even the snails, red-legged hermit crabs, and blue-legged hermit crabs need to be acclimated. This time, I decided to make a video of the acclimation process!

This method of aquarium livestock acclimation works great for small fish, cleaner crew, and small coral frags. However, not all fish are small and the big fish need to be acclimated as well. For larger aquarium livestock it would probably be wise to drip acclimate into a bucket. Say tuned to Aquarium Tip Tank and the Aquarium Tip Tank YouTube Channel! We will  share more aquarium tips and show you how we acclimate the big fish when we get one!

Any questions about acclimating your livestock? Leave comments below!

TJ

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How To Perform an Aquarium Water Change

I’ve had to perform a water change or two for my new 30 gallon saltwater aquarium, and I figured it was about time to share some aquarium tips and a video showing how I perform a water change for my aquarium. Here are a few tips and tricks to make your aquarium maintenance and water changes quick, easy, and mess free.

Setting up for an Aquarium Water Change:

  • Prepare new water ahead of time.
  • If freshwater, have some ready and sitting in a container for a day or two prior to performing water change. Condition the water properly and de-chlorinate. Make sure water conditions match that of the water in the display tank.
  • If saltwater, make sure pH, salinity, and water chemistry match the conditions of the water in the display tank.
  • Make sure new water temperature matches the temperature of the water in the display tank.
  • Have a towel handy.
  • Gather all of your tank cleaning and water changing tools and have everything staged and ready.
  • Keep filters, pumps, power heads, and protein skimmers running while you clean the walls and insides of the tank. This way, a lot of the algae and gunk that is scraped from the surfaces will get removed by the filtration devices and not just sink to the bottom of the aquarium.
  • Turn all heaters, pumps, power heads, filters, and protein skimmers OFF BEFORE REMOVING ANY WATER! You don’t want to break the heater or any of your pumps and electrical equipment by running them when they are dry if they are meant to be wet.

Once you’ve done these few simple steps you are ready to change the water in your aquarium. Take 20 to 30 percent of the water out of your display tank, and add that same volume of new water back into the tank. Here is a video showing how I clean out my tank and use the Aqueon Water Changer to perform a quick water change. Enjoy!

Have any cool tricks for performing aquarium water changes? Leave comments below!

TJ

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Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 015 | The First Fish in My Aquarium

Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 015

In the last episode of the Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast we talked about several tips, tricks, rules of thumb, and the method I like to use for stocking an aquarium. Well…I’ve added the first couple of fish to my 30 gallon saltwater aquarium, and in this episode I share my fish selection story! This podcast is jam packed with aquarium tips and fish facts!

About a week ago, I came home from the local fish store with a Six-line Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataeniaand) and 2 Tank-Bred Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris). Go ahead and listen to the story about the experience that my wife and I had picking out our new pet fish, and below you can check out some pictures of our new pets getting acclimated to their new home!

Floating Fish Bags While Gathering Acclimation Equipment

When we first arrived home I immediately floated the bags at the top of the tank, and turned the lights off. There were a few pieces of equipment that I had to gather and get ready before I started drip acclimating the Six-Line Wrasse, and I wanted to make sure that I started regulating the temperature as soon as possible.

Six-Line Wrasse Drip Acclimating

I only have one Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System. I could only drip acclimate one fish at a time. I decided to drip acclimate the Six-Line Wrasse first. I figured that the Six-Line Wrasse likes to dart through rocks, explore, forage, and find hiding places a little more than the clownfish does. The clownfish were tank-bred so maybe they were more used to the conditions found in home aquariums and  they might withstand floating in a bag for 15 0r 20 minutes longer than the Six-Line Wrasse. Note: The 2 Clownfish were bred together, lived together in the same tank in the fish store, were put in the same bag to be brought home, and are being referred to as one single fish for acclimation purposes.

After about 20 minutes of drip acclimating the Six-Line Wrasse, the drip cup was out of water and it was time to get the Six-Line Wrasse out of the bag and into the tank! I unattached the bag from the acclimation system, captured the Six-Line Wrasse in a small net, gently pulled it out of the bag, and released it into its new home!

Six-Line Wrasse happily foraging on live rock.

I made sure that the Six-Line was swimming around and exploring the aquarium, but I had to quickly start drip acclimating the Clownfish now that the acclimation system was available.

Ocellaris Clownfish Drip Acclimating

It took another 20 minutes to finish the drip acclimation process for the Ocellaris Clownfish. Once the drip cup was empty, I grabbed the small fish net and transferred the Ocellaris Clownfish to the aquarium!

2 Ocellaris Clownfish happy in their new home!

All of the fish seemed to be healthy and happy when first introduced to the aquarium, and a week later they are still doing great! They have been exploring all of the holes, crevices, nooks, and crannies of the live rock. They come right out to the front of the tank to say hello every time I’m in front of the aquarium!

Aquarium Tips of Note in this episode:

  • Get your family involved and share the fun!
  • Angelfish are best as the last addition to an aquarium
  • Select Tank-Bred fish whenever possible
  • Have 3 or more of each schooling fish
  • Inspect the fish tanks before selecting the Local Fish Store that you purchase your fish from
  • Have a deep sand bed for a Six-line Wrasse
  • Tank-bred Ocellaris Clownfish can be kept with a variety of other tank-bred clownfish, as long as they are introduced into the aquarium at the same time.

Did you recently add some fish to your aquarium? How did it go? What fish did you add? Leave comments below!

TJ

 

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Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 014 | Stocking a Fish Tank

Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 014

It’s about time to put some fish in the tank. The 30 gallon saltwater aquarium has been running for 2 months. I’ve added a complete cleaner crew and I need to figure out what fish I want to put in the aquarium!

In this episode of the Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast I talk about the scientific art of stocking a fish tank. I try to explain why there are limitations to the number of fish that you can keep in one fish tank. I also discuss some of the rules of thumb that are used for stocking an aquarium, their exceptions, and how I like to go about putting fish in my tanks.

Aquarium Tips of Note in this episode:

  • Don’t overstock your aquarium
  • Stock your fish tank slowly
  • Perform water quality tests on a regular basis

Is it time for you to put fish in your tank? Do you have any questions or comments? Leave them 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 Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System

If you follow along here at Aquarium Tip Tank you know that I have been going through the process of setting up a 30 gallon saltwater aquarium. A couple weeks ago, I decided that it was time to start adding a cleaner crew to the tank. At that point the aquarium had been cycling for about 5 weeks, there had been a few nice diatom blooms, and it was time to add some hardy invertebrates that like to feed on some of the algae.

As with any livestock that is going to be added to an aquarium, I needed to make sure that all of the members of the cleaner crew were acclimated to the conditions of my saltwater aquarium. I started to investigate and do some research into ways to make my own acclimation system until I did a quick search on Amazon. There, I found the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System for only $20.

Sure, I could’ve gone to the hardware store and found some small diameter tubing, a drip valve, and all of the other materials necessary for this project. However, I probably would’ve spent $20 or more at the hardware store and a whole lot more than the 2 days that Amazon takes to deliver items to my doorstep.

The Doradon Acclimation System all boxed up

The Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System allows users to equalize new aquarium livestock to both the temperature and chemical conditions of your fish tank simultaneously. It holds the bag that your local fish store sent your new fish, coral, shrimp, or invertebrate home in, allowing it to float in your aquarium water to equalize temperature while keeping the top of the bag open to equalize the chemical conditions by dripping water from your tank into the bag.

Opening the Box of the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System

The Doradon Aquarium Acclimation system includes all of the necessary parts and pieces to hang an open bag in your aquarium water and drip your aquarium water into the bag. All of the parts and pieces are also different colors! This helps make the included instructions easy to follow. The three main parts are the blue aquarium frame with the silver thumb screw, the green bag holder, and the clear dripping cup with flow control nozzle.

The parts assembled with the directions, but still in the box.

Above, you can see all of the parts assembled. The green bag holder has a hook that slides onto one of two spots of the blue aquarium frame. The clear dripping cup has two holes at the back that allow it to slide onto the pointed cup supports at the top of the blue aquarium frame.

Blue Aquarium Frame on the Tank

To start getting the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System on the tank, you should first put the blue aquarium frame on one wall of your aquarium by itself.

Thumb Screw Used to Keep the Aquarium Frame Upright and Level

The thumb screw allows the acclimation system to be used on various aquarium wall thicknesses. Adjust the thumb screw so that the blue aquarium frame stays upright and level on your fish tank with a little bit of pressure pulling the aquarium frame forward. After all, you’re eventually going to hang a bag with livestock in it from this frame. You don’t want it tipping over, and ruining your plans to acclimate your livestock.

Livestock bag attached to bag holder.

The next step is to pull the top of the livestock bag through the bottom of the green bag holder, open the bag and wrap the open end of it out and around the outside of the green bag holder. Use the pointed arrows of the green bag holder to poke holes in the top of the livestock bag so that it can be held securely by the green bag holder.

Livestock Bag floating in Aquarium water and being held by the green bag holder and blue aquarium frame.

Next, you can pick the green bag holder up with the livestock bag attached to it, and slide the hook on the back of the bag holder over one of the holder supports on the blue aquarium frame. At this point, you should have a bag of livestock floating in your aquarium water with the lights off. The temperature is equalizing, and its time to start equalizing the chemical conditions with the drip cup!

Dripping Cup with Aquarium Water hung from Aquarium Frame and dripping into livestock bag.

All you have to do is dip the dripping cup into your fish tank to collect some of your aquarium water, hang the dripping cup on the blue aquarium frame of the Doradon Aquarium Acclimation System, and adjust how fast your aquarium water drips into the livestock bag using the flow control nozzle at the bottom of the dripping cup.

Acclimation to your Aquarium Conditions in Process

Now, just let the acclimation system do its work for at least 15 to 20 minutes. If there is still water in the dripping cup after 15 to 20 minutes, just leave everything alone until the dripping cup is empty. I actually like to let everything acclimate for about 30 to 45 minutes. The temperature will come to equilibrium in about 15 to 20 minutes, but it usually takes a little longer for the chemical conditions to equalize.

I hope you made it this far because I have a couple more aquarium tips about acclimating your livestock. First, use a quarantine tank. No, a quarantine tank may not be absolutely necessary for your first round of cleaner crew. However, a quarantine tank should definitely be used for every fish that you place in your display aquarium. Yes, I’ll admit that I’m guilty of not always using a quarantine tank with new fish, but you never know what kind of disease, parasites, and stress the fish store has given the fish that you just brought home. That disease will quickly spread to the rest of your fish tank and you’ll end up scrambling to set up a quarantine tank to keep your display aquarium alive and thriving. Its much easier to just use a quarantine tank first, get rid of all the fish diseases, then acclimate from your quarantine tank to your display tank.

Second, acclimate livestock that comes from different tanks and systems of your LFS separately. For example, you may stop by your LFS and pick up a cleaner crew from one tank or tank system while also picking up a fish from another tank or tank system. Or maybe you purchase a fish from one wall of your LFS and another fish from another wall of your LFS. Do not put them in the same bag and acclimate them together. Acclimate livestock from different aquarium systems separately. Sure, that one wall of tanks in your LFS is probably working off of the same filtration system with the same sump, protein skimmers, filters, etc. The other fish that you get from that other wall of tanks is probably running off of an entirely different system and the water characteristics may be different. Acclimate them separately and they will go through a much safer, and less stressful acclimation process.

Finally, acclimate between every tank. Acclimate between your LFS and your quarantine tank, and acclimate between your quarantine tank and your display tank. Your fish and your aquarium will be much happier, and much healthier if you take just a few simple steps.

Putting fish in your aquarium? How do you acclimate them to your tank? Leave comments below.

TJ

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Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 013 | Elite Reef and Marine-Engineers Interview with Michael Rice

Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 013

We’ve been saying that we’re going to have some interviews here on the Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast since the start. I’m excited to say that for our first interview we were able to talk to a reef store manager and the owner of a marine aquarium hobbyist news website all in one! In this episode of Aquarium Tip Tank Michael Rice was kind enough to take some time to talk to us. He has a website at marine-engineers.org, he manages Elite Reef, a reef hobby store in the Denver, CO area, and he’s got several years of experience with home aquariums.

Michael shares the story about how he got started in the marine aquarium hobby as well as some aquarium tips about the types of tanks to purchase, stocking a tank with sustainable livestock suppliers, and making sure you do a little bit of research about the fish and aquarium equipment you want to purchase. Elite Reef and Marine-Engineers.org also hold an annual Elite Reef fest that is all about fun and helps raise some money for some great charities.

Where to find Michael Rice:

Sustainable Marine Fish and Invertebrate Suppliers mentioned in this episode:

Charities that Elite Reef Fest has raised money for:

What did you think of the interview? Leave some comments below!

TJ

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Water Quality Testing TJ’s Cycling 30 Gallon Saltwater Aquarium

The saltwater aquarium that I have been setting up is going through the cycling process. During this period, it is important to test water quality for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH. Here, I share a few pictures, and a few aquarium tips about testing the water quality of a tropical fish tank.

While a new aquarium is going through a nitrogen cycle, a spike in ammonia levels is the first change that should be noticed. Next, the ammonia levels start to recede and gives way to a spike in nitrite. Finally, the nitrite levels recede and a spike in nitrates occurs. This process occurs in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. To hear all about the nitrogen cycle in new aquariums, take a listen to Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 011.

There are several test kits to choose from. I chose to use an API Saltwater Master Test Kit.

API Saltwater Master Test Kit unopened and off the shelf

This test kit contains tests for pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. These are the most important water quality parameters to test for in a cycling aquarium. The API Saltwater Master Test Kit uses liquid reagents to turn vials of aquarium water colors for comparison to a color scale. All of the necessary reagents, vials, instructions, and color scales are provided in the test kit.

API Saltwater Master Test Kit Color Scale Card

Of course, when anything that is going to be used in your aquarium water is first opened it should always be rinsed off with tap water. Then, prior to performing any tests, the vials to be used should be rinsed with the water to be tested.

Water Quality Test 3 Weeks into Cycling Saltwater Aquarium

These are the results of the water quality test that I performed after my saltwater tank had been cycling for about 3 weeks. Of course, I’d like the ammonia levels to be at 0 parts per million (ppm). However, I had just added some fish food to the tank a couple days prior in order to allow it to decompose. When held under a better light and against the white background of the color scale, the color was somewhere between 0 and 0.25 ppm.

The nitrates were at 0 ppm, and the nitrates look like they were around 10 ppm. At this point, there were some light brown diatoms growing in the tank, and these water parameters are almost exactly what was expected.

With the diatoms growing in the aquarium, and the water quality looking suitable it was time to start adding some livestock that will help keep the tank clean. Yes, it was time to start stocking with an aquarium cleaner crew. Stay tuned at Aquarium Tip Tank to find out how stocking the tank with some cleaners went!

How are the water parameters in your aquarium doing? Perform a test, and leave some comments below!

TJ

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Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 012 | Diatoms and New Tank Syndrome: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Aquarium Tip Tank Podcast 012

My 30 gallon saltwater tank is almost done with the initial nitrogen cycle, but a brown film has started to coat my live sand and live rock. This is a diatom bloom and what many aquarium hobbyists call New Tank Syndrome. In this Aquarium Tip Tank podcast I share some aquarium tips for dealing with a diatom bloom. I also share some information about what diatoms are, where they come from, and why they decide to coat a tropical fish tank.

I wanted to be able to show you some of these diatoms that are growing in my fish tank. I’ve included a few pictures below.

Light Brown Diatoms on Live Rock and on Live Sand

At this point I also have a few small spots on the live rock with some green algae and some light purple coraline algae. Hopefully, you can see both of those in the picture below.

Spots of Green and Purple Coraline Algae growing on Live Rock

I also mentioned in the podcast that I would include the picture that Ryan Howells shared with me. He has a fairly new nano aquarium with a mated pair of clownfish that have laid some eggs! Here is the picture that he sent me of his tank!

Ryan Howells’ Nano Aquarium with a Mated Pair of Clownfish

Ryan’s tank looks like it is working out to be a nice little marine aquarium! He recently contacted me and told me that he was just finishing up the cycling process of his tank. It looks like he’s got a little more than that! There’s a nice colony of coraline algae, and of course, his mated pair of clownfish!

I had stated on many previous podcasts that I would give listeners a shout out if they decided to get in touch with me, let me know about an aquarium breakthrough, and send me a picture of their tank. I’m a man of my word! Keep sending your fish tank breakthroughs and updates.

Have a diatom bloom in your fish tank? Leave comments below!

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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