The most powerful LEDs for a planted aquarium…

Don’t take my word for it though – you need to listen to an independent review from PFK regarding the Classica OTL-LEDs. And I quote:

To give you an example I compared a 62cm/24.4″ freshwater unit to a 150w metal halide with a freshwater bulb, and I had to dim the OTL down by two thirds to match the PAR output of the halide! I took the halide off a planted tank to swap it for the now dimmed down OTL, and within 15 seconds of putting it on the plants started pearling. So there is definitely something in those freshwater LEDs, in terms of spectrum, that the plants loved.

Now it’s these sort of comparisons that are worth their weight in gold. It’s all about PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) output and it absolutely whooped the metal halides. People, you need to take note of this. Metal Halides have had their day and there’s a new chief in town that is cheaper and more effective and lasts 5 times as long.

Classica OTL LED luminaire

It’s true that LEDs have had a rocks road to begin with but now things are different. I would recommend these LEDs for those of you who want complete control over their lighting, run a pressurised CO2 system and are serious about their planted aquarium. Is this you?

If you want to read the full review, click here.

If you are interested in purchasing one of these amazing lighting units, click here.

A different type of fish food

Everyone is always looking for a different type of food to feed their fish and Natures Grub have gone and done just that. They’ve made a food called High Protein & Egg Yolk Flake which I thought was a brilliant idea. But of course it’s not what I really think – it’s what my fish think. So I took a pot home and tried it out.

The verdict was good. They gobbled up the food super quick so it must taste great. So why not give it a go today? Makes feeding a bit more interesting heh!natures-grub-high-protein-egg-yolk-flake

Brown algae removal

Brown algae is a very common and generally seen in new aquariums (those less than 4 weeks old). Whilst it may look a bit horrible, it doesn’t hang around for long and looks like the below. If left untreated, it will block visibility into your aquarium but rarely does it get that bad.

How is it caused:  Too much light, too early on.

How to get rid:  Really easy – reduce your lighting to 6 hours per day when your tank is new and keep up regular water changes (minimum of 30% once a week – the more the better). If you’re running a tank with 4 T5s, reduce it to 2.  If you’re using a reflector/s  now would be a good time to remove them. If you are using LED lighting (good choice) you need to reduce the intensity of the lights with a controller, otherwise try elevating the height of the LEDs and this will reduce their intensity.

Any brown algae on the glass,  use a soft sponge and wipe the glass on a daily basis. But make sure you squeeze the sponge into a bucket of old tank water, otherwise you’ll add the algae straight back into your tank.

This algae may also cover your rocks and some plants too and if that is the case, you can clean the rocks easily (whip them out and get a toothbrush on them) but for the plants, you’ll need to use algae eating fish or shrimp.

don’t quit – you’re nearly there…

I wanted to throw in a curved ball this week and give you guys some food for though. This is the sort of email you won’t receive from other shops which is why Aqua Essentials is different. The message is simple, when the going gets tough and you feel like pulling your hair out because you tank doesn’t look right…


It’s really easy to chuck the towel in, you’re fed up and nothing seems to be going right. You may even be embarrassed with it, it looks a state, your plants won’t grow and the only thing you seem to be good at is growing algae. I’ve been there, I was at the place that you are and I understand how frustrating it is. But the difference is, I didn’t quit. I kept going, kept experimenting trying to work out what was wrong. I researched, I asked for help and I want you to do the same.

Now this is no counselling service but what you don’t realise is that you are SO CLOSE to having success with your planted aquarium, it’s just around the corner in fact. The smallest change can make a HUGE difference to your planted aquarium whether it’s a case of increasing your CO2 levels or maybe just reducing your lighting by one hour per day – who knows at this stage. However, once you have made that small change and turned the corner you will realise how close you were to quitting and hopefully how pleased you were that you took time to read this email, realise that I and many other experienced aquascapers were in the same boat as you once, but we pushed through and can now encourage others to do the same.

I’ll leave you a quote from the famous Winston Churchill which inspired me to write this post:

“The pessimist sees the problems in every opportunity. Whereas the optimist sees the opportunity in every problem”

“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense”

Mixed Box of 10 plants example

I’m often asked what plants do you get in a mixed box – of course the answer is always the same. A mixture of plants chosen at our discretion. This is part of their charm –  you never quite know what you will received but we do know you will like them :). But one customer kindly sent in a picture of her tank after purchasing a mixed box of 10 plants so I wanted to share with you.

Mixed Box of 10 Aquarium Plants

Not bad heh! You can find this mixed box here if you like this idea

Soft and slimy agae


I thought I would open with a picture of this algae as it’s the easiest way to identify it. Better known as Rhizoclonium, if you have this algae I can guarantee that you have low nutrients and poor water circulation. It’s about the only time you will see this algae and as a result it’s very easy to get rid of.

Occasionally you will see it in a CO2 infused tank but it’s not so common in tanks such as that. Sometimes simply by improving your water distribution by using a Hydor Koralia Pump this algae will disappear because the nutrients that are in your tank and  being moved around better than before. If that fails just add a bit more fertiliser such as Neutro T and don’t forget to add it on a daily basis.