don’t starve your plants…

starvation hurts doesn’t it? There’s nothing worse than seeing a plant go downhill and wondering why…

Common emails to me are customer sending in pictures of their plants and wondering what is wrong with them. It’s very clear in most cases that it’s a nutrient deficiency and I often wonder why hobbyists limit food for plants and then wonder what’s wrong with them. We all know by now that excess nutrients DO NOT cause algae, so it begs the question, why would you ever limit their food? This problem stems from years of incorrect advice floating around the web and forums. If you want a successful planted tank (and I know you do), give your plants plenty of food.

If you see algae in your tank, the answer is not to limit the nutrients. Algae can thrive in a tank with zero nutrients so quite why some hobbyists think limiting nutrients is the answer when they’re doing just fine without!  If you see any leaves that are shaped a bit odd, or they have holes in them or they’re not growing quite right it’s because they need more food! Simple as that. There are lots of different brands available (email me if you want one I recommend), and some are much more simple to dose than others but which ever brand you choose, give it plenty. And don’t forget the dosage on the bottle is the starting point and you only ever go up. As your plants grow and become larger, their food uptake has to be increased. Failure to change their dosage always results in plant deterioration.

So my message is short and sweet. Do not limit the amount of food that you offer your plants. If you are running a non CO2 tank, you only need to provide Micro Nutrients (trace elements) and if you are running a CO2 infused tank you need to offer Micro and Macro Nutrients (Macro being nitrates, phosphates and potassium).

the ultimate clean up crew…

a tank without freshwater shrimp is not complete in my opinion…

I would always have shrimp in any planted aquarium I have and so should you. They perform such a wonderful job of cleaning up and recycling everything in your tank and offer a buffer it terms of keeping excesses down. For example, in previous newsletters I’ve discussed the importance of water changes and by keeping your water clean, you reduce the amount of food available for algae. Anything in your aquarium that is breaking down produces ammonia, so leaves that are decaying contribute to this.

But if you have shrimp, they’ll be straight onto it. So rather than leaves rotting and producing ammonia, your shrimp will deal with it and compost it for you. As a result, there’s less food for the algae to consume and your tank is cleaner and healthier. It really is as simple as that. In terms of shrimp numbers you can literally have as many as you want. The tank which holds our cherry shrimp is 3x1x1′ and houses about 800 shrimp – they’re not cramped in anyway. I’m not suggesting you need that many but you do need a suitable amount (more than 10 for eg) for them to make an impact. To visit our shrimp page click here.

How and Why You Should Begin Building an Aquarium

Weather you failed to keep your Sea Monkeys alive for more than a week as a child or you have had goldfish in your family for years, owning an aquarium containing complex plant life and fish from distant and unique waters can be a rewarding experience. It doesn’t matter if you failed to keep your Sea Monkeys alive for more than a week as a child or you have had goldfish in your family for years, keeping aquariums is a skill that can be learned and is likely to make a beautiful feature in your home. But why else might you want to have an aquarium?…

Status symbol
Ok, so having a well-run aquarium may not impress people as much as sports car or Hurligham Club membership, but historically the keeping of fish has been seen as a cultivated activity and one championed by the wealthy elite. In ancient Rome, around the first century BC, having fish ponds became popular and the rich politician Lucullus was known for his extravagant waterworks where he used intricate canals to mix salt and fresh water. He used to put gold rings in the fins of his fish to make them look smarter.
Unless you have a full sized aquarium in you home filled with lemon sharks and seahorses, you are unlikely to drastically alter anyone’s opinion of yourself in the 21st Century, but a well ordered aquarium, much like anything else, is indicative of a well ordered mind, and it will prove that you are a person with unique and interesting tastes.

Health Benefits
Aquariums have long been seen as a relaxing edition to any environment and it is believed that spending time tending an aquarium and sharing a room with one can lower one’s blood pressure and generally reduce thy symptoms of stress.

Image: smerikal

Raising eco awareness

Owning an aquarium is a great way to educate yourself as well as friends and family about sensitive habitats and the kinds of creatures and plant-life that live within them. Children enjoy aquariums as much as adults and, especially as we currently know more about the moon than what lies beneath the oceans, it is a great way to spark a lifelong interest in children or young relatives who might be overly interested in watching TV and playing video games. It is the wonderment created by well-run aquariums and zoos that can actually boost conservation efforts by reminding people just how beautiful and amazing the world outside the cities really is.

How to get started:
The first thing to remember is not to go too small. Many people starting our will get one of these small aquarium packages thinking that they will be low maintenance but, because the volume of water is smaller, it means that the key water parameters can change very quickly and there is very little margin for error. If you are concerned about what size of tank might be appropriate for where you live, remember that if you are renting a property your landlord may have put something about pets in your contract – which could technically extend to fish. If you are interested in information on finding your own place where you can have all the tanks you want, get onto a website like Rental Yield, it will be worth it.
You should wait before adding the fish to your tank, giving the water time to stabilize. There will be many gasses, minerals and chemicals present in the water at first that will need to balance out. It is also important not to start with too many fish. Most aquariums will depend on certain bacterial colonies being present, and they need to grow until a full colony can be supported.

Make sure you research which fish go with which and what kind of filtration system they need. There are a while variety of little skills one need, such as a proficiency at being able to test the aquarium water and a sense of organisation regarding feeding times. These can be learned easily enough. The most important thing to know is that there are many places, such as Aqua Essentials, who can provide assistance and advice for those looking to get started in this interesting and therapeutic pass time.

Guest post by Sue Williams

every suffer from blue green algae (BGA)?

because it’s horrible stuff if you have…

I think it’s really important to make sure you have the knowledge as to why things happen in your tank, otherwise you’re left simply…wondering or worse still guessing. Then if it does disappear you need to know why because you’ve done something right. If you’re wondering what it looks like – I’ve included a piccy below. As you can see it’s pretty nasty stuff and will blanket your plants in a very short space of time.

blue green algae

How is it caused:  Poor water distribution, low nutrients and dirty filter. So if you have BGA, slap on the wrist to you 😉

How to get rid: Very simple – 3 day black out. You see BGA is not actually an algae it’s a bacteria that can photosynthesise so by cutting out the light it dies. Before you do your blackout perform a 30% water change, turn your lights off and put a sheet over the entire tank and leave for the full 72 hours. No peeking, just let the darkness do the work. When those 72 hours have passed (and your fish and plants will be fine during that time) you’ll see your tank is sparkling clean and your plants fresher than ever. Once it’s all done, simply do another 30% water change and then make sure it doesn’t happen again (see how is it caused).

Of course for those of you who can’t wait, you can treat with Easylife Blue Exit (great name heh!).

‘orrible algae, BBA

I see it it many tanks, particularly in fish shops for some reason. But like all algae, it’s easy when you know how to nuke it. You’ll find it growing on the edges of some plants, wood and filter outlets/inlets. Really difficult to remove and looks like the below.


How is it caused:  In a high light, high CO2 tanks, it’s caused by unstable CO2 levels.  In low light tanks with no CO2, frequent water changes have been known to bring it on along with poor water movement.

How to get rid:  In high light, high CO2 tanks making sure your CO2 levels are spot on will solve this problem (use a drop checker) and ensure water distribution is excellent (remember you want to see the plants swaying in the current). In low light tanks, use liquid carbon and fix your water distribution issues.

This algae will not die back so needs physically removing 🙁 If you find it keeps coming back, you know you haven’t fixed the above issues.

Getting rid of blanket algae

Blanket Weed algae. You may or may not have suffered from this algae before – it’s certainly not the worst but it look like below:

blanket weed algae

How is it caused:  Low nutrients, low CO2 levels and poor water movement.

How to get rid:  Very simple – increase your fertiliser dosage and increase CO2 levels (use a drop checker like this one). Make sure your water distribution is really good – I know I say this every week but that’s because it’s very important.  If your plants aren’t swaying in the current, then you can bet that your nutrients and CO2 are certainly not getting to those locations (which will result in algae). Getting the basics right makes everything flow as it should.

You can physically remove this algae should you wish. Use your tweesers or fingers if need be and just hoick it out. If you see this algae coming back for whatever reason, just tweak what you’re doing and in most cases simple add a bit more of the usual (nutrients and CO2).