Tag Archives: aquarium

Eloquent Echinodorus

Eloquent Echinodorus

Aqua Essentials are expanding all the time and expanding our plant range is top of our agenda. Three NEW varieties from the Eloquent Echinodorus family have just landed on the door step and are ready to go!

Echinodorus spectre

Firstly, I would like to introduce to an Eloquent Echinodorus which is the Echinodorus spectre.  A classic background plant that is stong and sturdy and will add immediate impact to your aquascape. Echinodorus spectre have large long leaves so will need plenty of space and light inorder to flourish in your aquarium. When planting Echinodorus spectre up they must not be over-shadowed by larger leaved plants. These really are perfect for beginners due to the easiness of keeping.

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Echinodorus spectra

Echinodorus gabrielli

Secondly, we also have new in to us and to add to our Eloquent Echinodorus family is Echinodorus gabrielii which is a foreground plant ideal for more skilled hobbist’s. This Echinodorus is quite unusual in comparison to all the other Echinodorus due to it’s size. A tidy looking compact plant that is very pleasing on the eye.

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Echinodorus gabrielli

Echinodorus parviflorus

And finally another Echinodorus to add to our range of Eloquent Echinodorus is Echinodorus parviflorus which is another easy to grow plant. It is most suited to large aquariums due to the fact that it can grow up to 70cm if given plenty of space. Perfectly suited to the background of the aquarium, this Echinodorus looks amazing when planted in bunches.

parviflorus
Echinodorus parviflorus

Three new Eloquent Echinodorus additions to our range which is very exciting and more to come so watch this space!

Any questions or advice please give us a call on 01363 774787 and we will be happy to help.

 

Scaped For You Collections

Scaped For You Collections

We just thought we would introduce you to our new Scaped For You Collections that we have just started offering here at Aqua Essentials.

What are Scaped for You Collections?

Scaped For You Collections are essentially ‘ready made’ aquascapes if want of a better phrase. They are aquascapes that have been created by professional Tropica Aquascapers and come with guidelines explaining how to replicate the scape in your own aquarium.

Some people admire scapes they see on Facebook, pinterest, Twitter etc done by the likes of George Farmer & Dan Crawford who are very talented Aquascapers and so many more out there.  They think to themselves “Oh I wish I could have that in my aquarium but just do not have the time to research all the plants needed nor spend time aquascaping it”. Well this is why we are offering you these Scaped For You Collections compliments of Tropica.

So what do I get?

We are offering a variety of Scaped For You Collections for different sized aquariums. We send you all the plants, wood and rocks you will need to produce your chosen aquascape.  You can refer to the product page on our website for easy to follow instructions which guide you when planting, positioning your rock and wood. You can also view the You Tube video by Tropica which explains step by step and guides you along the way. We even tell you which gravel or sand to use too.

What do it do?

So go to the product page (highlighted links) and choose the right Scaped for You Collection and then just ‘buy’! All that you will need will be packaged up and sent to you.

When will I receive it?

As you are no doubt aware we hold a large quantity of plants in stock so it is very rare that we will not have the plants in stock that you order.  However there may be occasions where a particular plant is not in stock or out of season or we are short of quantities (some Scaped For You Collections do require a large quantity of a certain plant) so we will have to order it in hence the reason why we give 1-7 days depending on availability however these Scaped For You Collections are well worth the wait…trust me! We have our plant deliveries in every thursday and friday and will always email you informing you of any minor delays too.

What level is it for?

We offer Easy, Medium and Advanced Scaped For You Collections here at Aqua Essentials.  Some people might like to start with Easy and progress up the ranks once they have gain knowledge and confidence and some keen and experienced Aquascapers might go straight for Advanced. You choose what suits you.  Easy set ups contain plants that are pretty hardy, need low lighting conditions and non CO2 so need little maintainance and easy to keep. Medium and Advanced set ups require more attention and some will require CO2 and good lighting.

What if my aquarium is bigger than the one I have chosen?

That’s no problem at all! Just either add the Scaped For You Collection you would like to your basket and then just add additional plants to make it up for your sized aquarium or just email us or call and tell us which scape you are looking to order and we will advice you how many more of each plant, wood or rock you will need for your size.

We are here for all the help and guidance you need so only a phone away or call 01363 774787 or email info@aquaessentials.co.uk.

This is a typical Scaped For You Collection we offer which is the finished article.

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This is the type of diagram you will be able to refer to when scaping your chosen Collection.

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Scaped For You Collections

Along with the Scaped For You Collection you can refer to additional images which will show you the progress and growth expected over time.

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Scaped For You Collections
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Scaped For You Collections
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Scaped For You Collections

More Scaped For You Collections will be available in due course.

Aquascaping Layout & The Golden Ratio

Aquascaping Layout & The Golden Ratio

Some of you may have heard of this and some of you may have not and its called ‘The Golden Ratio’ which is widely used in planning the layout and perspective of an aquascape.  We have put together a simple ‘Aquascaping Layout  & The Golden Ratio’ guide on how to create a scape that is pleasing on the eye and has the right composition and design in mind.

The Golden Ratio

Firstly we will look at the The Golden Ratio which will guide you in creating perspective in your aquarium. This ‘Aquascaping Layout  & The Golden Ratio’ guide is used when wanting to acheive the perfect balance when placing objects in a space.  So let’s begin and these 3 steps explain what the Golden Ratio is.

1. Stand back and look at the front of your tank. Imagine there are four lines going across the front of the glass, two vertical and two horizontal, giving you now nine sections.

2. Where the lines cross are the Golden points where you should consider placing your key features to the tank i.e. rock, wood or prominant plants such as reds or plants that stand out.

3. You can use the Golden Ratio to plan the height layout of your plants too.

Symmetry

Basically symmetry does not work in a planted aquarium. It is too formal, structured and unnatural. Think about it would you see symmetry in the wild? No, so lets not make it neat and symetrical in the aquarium.  The focal point (as we mentioned earlier your key feature so wood, rock, red plant etc) should be slightly off to the center. 1 : 1.62 was calculated long ago as the point which is the most pleasing on the eye.  This is where you could consider having a slope on one side too, like a riverbed.

Shape

Please don’t have all your ‘tall’ plants lined up along the back and try and create a ‘hedge’ or ‘wall’ of plants to cover up the background! It is not needed and only looks dated. Try replicating a mountain look by trimming your plants to be taller on the sides and slightly shorter in the center.  You could also add some rocks either side (not symetrical remember to add to your mountain look).

Positioning of the plants

Depending on the scape you are looking to achieve, I like to keep my rocks or wood positioned amongst the midground plants as the stems can easily be hidden amongst the rocks plus you can carpet foreground plants around the base of the rocks to create a really natural look.

Creating depth

Creating depth is not the easiest task however keeping the golden ration in mind it can be done.  The first thing to remember is to avoid positioning the rocks from left to right across the middle in a straight line which just looks two-dimentional and very unnatural looking.  So I recommend planting and positioning in layers starting from the front to the back leaving a small gap in between and from low to high. With time and experience you will become more bold and challenging with your aquascaping and start creating some amazing looking scapes.

Another element to consider when planting your scape is to take note of the estimated growth guides that come with the plants or you can use the guide we use on our plant product page. Obviously you dont want to have to be trimming your plant all the time as it grows quicker than the one behind it so it really plays off to carefully plan your scape and even put pencil to paper first and sketch it out.

With all the above considered when putting a scape together, you should be impressed with the results. If however you need further advice we are only a phone call away on 01363 774787.

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Importance of Maintenance guide

Importance of Maintenance guide.

So, with only about three weeks ago until the big day it’s that time of year again where you will be inundated with those Christmas visitors bearing gifts & the one thing always grabs peoples attention is your aquarium. So you’ll want to impress your visitors for sure! The Importance of Maintenance guide is here to help as usual and have put together a simple step-by-step guide to get that aquarium in tip top shape.

Is your water quality good enough?

Firstly Importance of Maintenance guide would start here and I would be firstly testing the water with a test kit. It’s always a good idea to routinely test your water especially if some of your fish have been poorly or new fish have been recently added to your aquarium.  So a simple test kit which tests pH, water hardness, nitrate, nitrite and ammonia will do the trick.

Is it due a water change?

Importance of Maintenance guide would recommend water changes on a weekly basis and consider this to be an important part of maintaining good quality water. We say about 30% and that can easily be done with a syphon set which sucks water up and out.  This can also be used to plunge into the gravel too for cleaning up any unwanted food waste and debris from the aquarium bed.  We also have a selection of gravel cleaners that are great for this too.  Remember that tropical fish naturally live in environments where they have running water from a current or rainfall so it’s important to stimulate this natural environment.

Could your filters do with a good cleaning?

Filters are designed to clean and purify your water however if it is clogged with waste it can not do its job properly and the water quality will not be as good.  So get cleaning the sponges (of course using about two cups of the aquarium water) and give the tubes and filter casing a good old clean and scrub. These filter brushes are very useful for this too. By following the Importance of Maintenance guide your sure to have the cleanest of filters.

Are your plants in need of a good trim?

This is a simple process which if done correctly and regularly can really pay off so follow the Importance of Maintenance guide. Not only does this improve the growth of your plants but it will also improve the overall health of your plants. We would never recommend household scissors as they can easily damage the stem structure so I would always recommend a good pair of Aquascaping scissors such as these.

Could you do with more plants?

Depending on the type of Aquascape you’re looking to achieve depends on how many plants you will need. Many people are hesitant adding more plants to their aquarium because they fear they will die, are too fragile to keep or too difficult. However this is not the case at all and most plants are actually very hardy and if kept in the right conditions will flourish in your aquarium.  The two main reasons for loss of plants is due to 1) incompatible plants that need different water parameters 2) incorrect lighting.  Don’t fear adding more plants to your aquarium as long as they’re compatible with your existing ones.

Could your rocks, wood or decor need a good old clean or need replacing?

The Importance of Maintenance guide would recommend a good old scrub of your aquarium decor which can be done under fresh water. It is surprising how much they can gather green algae and the difference a good old scrubbing can do. However after a while some wood, rocks and aquarium decor can look tired and no matter how much you try scrubbing away at that green algae build up, the staining can be stubborn. Sometimes you just want to try something a bit different, try out a different aquascape. Here we have a selection of great quality aquarium decor.

Can you see your reflection through the glass?

And now the finishing touches, get yourself some glass cleaning wipes and give your glass a good wiping over until you get a sparkle! Also a glass scaper is very good for getting to those hard to reach dirty spots as the long rod enables you to reach a little further. Its also a good idea to invest a magni-cleaner too as they cleaner both sides of the glass for you…meaning less work for you!planted-aquarium-lighting

Following our guide you too could have an aquarium as perfect as these .

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Aquascaping our way to health

Aquascaping our way to health

Why is it so important to of have an Aquarium in our lives?

The National Marine Aquarium, University of Plymouth & University of Exeter have conducted new research and found that people who spend time sitting and watching an aquarium can improve their physical and mental well being according to research that they published in the journal Enviromnent and Behaviour.

What were the findings?

The team assessed peoples responses both physical and mental to different aquariums with various amounts of fish. The team found that blood pressure and heart rate lowered whilst viewing the aquarium and the more fish they watched, they longer they held their attention and improved their mood which is why we can Aquascaping our way to health.

Deborah Cracknell, PhD Student and Lead Researcher at the National Marine Aquarium, conducted the study and found that spending time in a ‘natural’ enviorment such as underwater has a calming effect on us ‘stressy’ human beings! She says that the use of aquariums in doctors surgeries and dental practices have always been associated with calming techniques however there is now ‘robust evidence’ that proves that being amongst aquariums definately improves your overall wellbeing.

Dr Sabine Pahl, Associate Professor in Psychology at Plymouth University, said: “In times of higher work stress and crowded urban living, perhaps aquariums can step in and provide an oasis of calm and relaxation” and encouraged aquascaping our way to health.

In summary

So from this research carried out, its obvious the effects that having an aquarium in your home can improve your mood and overall wellbeing, thus your physical and mental health. This is why this hobby is so important in our every day lives. We all work hard and tend to put so much pressure on our shoulders these days with day to day living. Our aquariums not oly remind us to ‘stop, sit back, relax and enjoy the view’ but also to ‘bbrreeaatthhhh!!!

Aquascaping our way to health
Fantastic use of dragon stone – click on picture for more info

To find out how aquascaping our way to health and improve your well being by either setting up an aquarium or improve an existing one, call today on 01363 774787 and we will help you get there.

 

Cryptocoryne albida Brown, the rough diamond

Cryptocoryne albida ‘Brown’ – the rough diamond

What is it like?

What is so appealing about this captivating little beauty the Cryptocoryne Albida Brown all the way from Thailand, is that despite its delicate look and grace it is a real little toughy or a ‘rough diamond’. It can grow in pretty much ANY condition needing very little light, CO2 and care, making it perfect for beginners. Please note however in these conditions it will grow slower.

What does Albida Brown look like?

Its leaves are narrow and whilst it is a small plant, they are narrow too. The colour is red and brown with transparent dark markings leading to a crimpled edge. The leaves grow to about 2-3cm wide and maybe up to 15cm long, making cryptocoryne albida brown truly beautiful.

Where shall I plant it?

As a foreground plant, try positioning in the flow of the filter so the leaves can sway and lap in the current creating a natural and organic look as if it were in a stream in the wild. The Albida Brown also does well if nestled amongst larger plants. The contrast in colours amongst lush green plants creates a ‘natural’ theme to the plant display.

To find this aquarium plant on our shop, click on this link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snails in Aquarium tanks

Snails in Aquarium tanks

There has been lots of information put out there about aquatic snail, some of which is total cods-wallop so I thought I would try and give a bit of information that is true so you now know the trust. Snails in Aquarium tanks are inevitable, and it’s the way it goes when you keep aquarium plants. Snails are a part of nature and will be found almost everywhere on earth. Although we try and be snail free with our aquarium plants as we keep them hydroponically (so the leaves outside of the water), being 100% snail free is impossible (unless you go for Tissue culture pots which you can find here ). Tissue culture plants are grown in a laboratory and as a result there are no bugs or snails anywhere! That is the only way to have 100% free snail tank. Below is an example of a tissue culture plant.

Snails in Aquarium tanks
tissue culture aquarium plant

If you do find that you have snails in your tank, you don’t need to worry about removing everything and decontaminating each plant. There is a simple answer. Stop putting so much food in your tank. You see Snails in Aquarium tanks are normal, so don’t stress! Snails live on the extra food laying around at the bottom of the tank. If you feed your fish slightly less than what they need then they will eat everything from from the bottom of the tank and the snails will go hungry and die – it’s really as simple as that. Anyone who ever moans about having lots of snails, means they are massively over feeding their tank and putting their water quality at risk. I’ve had Snails in Aquarium tanks many times before and a small tweak of the food and they disappear. No gadgets, no tricks.

Aquarium plants dying

If you go onto Google and type aquariums plants one of the first things that comes up is the question

Why are my plants dying?

There are a lot of different responses to this questions, and most of them are wrong! so I am here to set you straight and tell you why your plants are dying and how to stop it from happening over and over again!

Firstly before you buy your plants you need to do research on what substrate you need….NO you cannot just use gravel..No you cannot just use sand! Most people believe that they can just chuck a bag of sand in the bottom of there tank and everything will grow, well i can tell you now it will not. Substrates provide your plants with nutrients, food. Can you imagine waking up in the morning and eating paper for breakfast? your body will struggle to survive the day. You want to wake up and have a big bowl of porridge or even a full English, SO DO YOUR PLANTS. Get the substrate right from the start and that will eliminate most of problems.

COLOMBO FLORA BASE 5 LITER BACK(1)

So you have a substrate, you buy your plants, stick them in your tank and immediately they struggle, Why? think about a time when you have gone on holiday, the first day in a nice hot country, whats happens? you get burnt. your body isn’t used to this change in environment and neither are your plants. you may well get leaves going brown and dying but that doesn’t mean your plant is dead….you need to wait to see the new growth that will come through. The growth that is used to your tank environment. As long as your root structure is healthy you will get new growth.

Alternanthera rosaefolia

So your plant has taken to your tank and you have seen new growth but after a month the plant starts to die off, Why? Your not feeding it right. your plants need to eat right. Almost all tanks need Liquid CO2,  the liquid CO2 will encourage growth and keep algae down. To go along with the liquid CO2 your plants need macro and micro nutrients. With out all of these your plants will wither and die off, which will then encourage algae to your tank.

NEUTRO have three Fertilisers all of which provide your tank with everything that your plants need

Neutro CO2, Neutro T and Neutro +

Check our other post on fertilisers here

 

Wild discus in a tank

I’m not keen on the concept of having discus that have been caught from the wild and then placed in a tank – for me, it’s just not right. I’m fine with captive bred fish – no problems there but snatched from the wild? Seems a very harsh transformation. Anyway, I stumbled across this clip which shows wild discus, but I appreciate the lengths the hobbyist has gone to in order to replicate a natural environment for them. It’s a little cramped in there but fascinating to watch.

What are your thoughts about wild discus in aquariums?

4m long, 1.7m tall planted aquarium – got your attention yet?!

I was hoping this title might catch you eye. The fact you are reading this post, shows it did. Result!

Ultimately this hobby is about inspiring people and being an online shop, it’s hard to get that message across. But there’s nothing quite like a YouTube clip to get your juices going. Takashi Amano is an absolute master in all things planted aquarium, and he was in fact one of the reasons I got into this hobby.

So if you feel a little low or need a pickmeup, then click on this link below which shows HUGE tanks. It’s just totally inspiring. And if you like the clip, perhaps you could write a brief comment why it inspires you.

Trimming Hemianthus callitrichoides ”Cuba”

Hemianthus callitrichoides (HC) has risen to fame with it’s tiny leaves and the ability to carpet a foreground of a planted aquarium very nicely. Of course like all plants you need to provide them with fantastic CO2 levels, excellent nutrients and sufficient water movement for distribution. If you tick all those boxes you get get results.

I found this video online and actions speak better than words and felt it was a worthy post so hobbyists can not only see how feasible it is to create a carpet of HC but also the type of maintenance it needs (along with a decent pair of curved scissors).

For those of you who are not familiar with the grower of this aquarium, he’s a chap called Victor Lantos and he runs an amazing aquascaping shop in Hungary. Check it out here http://www.greenaqua.hu/

Tools For Planted Aquariums

Everyone who has a planted aquarium has to use tools to keep the tank in good order. Whether this is for picking up dead leaves/debris, cleaning the glass or raking the substrate – it all has to be done. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one tool that did it all…

Introducing Superfish 4 in 1 Nano Tools – a tool so useful you’ll wonder how you survived without it. It’s a simple yet effective device that can be used on any aquarium. Although it’s called a Nano Tool, any smallish aquarium can be cleaned with it. The tool itself comprises of a long handle and on the end of it you can attach 1 of 4 tools and the consist of:

  • Fish Net – for catching your fish before you clean.
  • Gravel Rake – for maintaining the gravel and keeping it tidy.
  • Plant Fork – for attending to your plants.
  • Cleaning Sponge – for cleaning the glass of the aquarium.

Each tool detaches easily which means you can swap over in seconds which makes it quick to clean your entire aquarium and make it look pristine again!

For more maintenance tools please visit this link.

Sloping Of A Planted Aquarium Substate

In a planted aquarium, having the right slope on your substrate can mean a lot. In the past hobbyists would place their substrate on their tank base and make it pretty flat. This was kind of alright, but made creating an illusion of depth a lot harder than what it should be.

After studying a lot of the aquascapes which world leading aquascaper Takashi Amano produces, he slopes the substrates a lot. Some shockingly so especially in his larger tanks I have seen in excess of 8-9″ at the back and maybe 1″ at the front. So why exactly does he do this?

The main reason is for scale and creating depth. In aquariums we are always working with limited space and whilst a lot of planted aquariums have good height to them, depth (front to back) is often limited and forgotten. This is a real shame as depth makes a huge difference to an aquascape and makes things a lot easier when creating an aquascape. In the example picture below you can see how much substrate has been used – there’s probably about 7″ at the back and this needs to be accounted for when planning how much substrate you really need. Calculations are normally based on a 2-3″ depth all over so adding 7-8″ at the back requires considerably more. But you can already see even from the side angle, it makes placing rocks easier for starters (a lot more substrate to bed into) and it also allows you create that illusion of depth immediately. Not only that but planting stem plants in deep substrate is a piece of cake and there’s no chance of them uprooting.

One thing worth mentioning when sloping substrates which contains shrimp – they have a tendency to move the substrate around as they clean it. Over time, the slope may flatten out so make sure you have a rake which allows you to move the substrate back to where it should be. Of course, if you have lots of plants in your tank and they root quickly, there shouldn’t be a problems.

You can view our range of substrates by following this link.

Synthetic Aquarium Plants

Not everyone has the time to be able to commit to a planted aquarium in terms of maintenance – after all we know how long it takes to perform water changes, trim plants, feed and so on and with today’s busy life styles, sometimes we run out of time. From a commercial perspective it’s not possible to look at a planted aquarium everyday (this is what CO2 infused one’s really need especially at the beginning). Lets take www.aquariumdesigngroup.com who are market leaders in the USA. They set up and maintain aquariums for wealthy clients. What is interesting is that many of their clients have aquariums where the plants are synthetic. This is for 2 reasons:

  1. They don’t want the tank maintainers to be in their house every day checking up how things are going
  2. You can create amazing aquascapes even without real plants, as long as the quality of the plants is of high standard.

Let me introduce to you Superfish Plastic Plants. These have been produced to really high standards and once in the aquarium you would be hard pushed to tell they were actually different from live plants. The range consists of different sizes of plants to ensure what ever type of aquascape you want it is possible. To make an aquarium really work which uses plastic plants, we recommend that you use real rocks – something like mini landscape rocks and sumatra driftwood. By using a combination of these natural products with synthetic one’s, the impact can be incredible and the maintenance almost zero.

Natures Grub Tropical Insect Mix

We’ve recently taken on a new brand of food called Natures Grub – high quality food with lovely packaging. But it’s sometimes difficult to get that message across to our customers, especially with food. So it got us thinking…

You can see from this short clip, the food is tasty, the fish enjoy it and it’s a bit different from your ordinary stuff. So why not give it a try today – treat yourself and your fish by following this link.

For the entire range of Natures Grub fish foods click here.

The Smallest CO2 Set In The World

Yep you’ve read that correctly and we are indeed stocking the smallest CO2 set for planted aquariums in the world. You just won’t believe the size of them.

CO2 is such an important element in planted aquarium we cannot stress this enough.  When plants are submerged for their first time, they go from a relatively high CO2 environment to one in which it is almost non existent. This causes great problems for aquatic plants as they are adjusting to life underwater and they need carbon to survive and grow successfully. When you don’t provide them with what they need, plant growth stops and algae tends to arrive soon after.

The Colombo Flora-Grow CO2 Nano 50 Set is a great start into pressurised CO2 systems. This affordable system can be set up in minutes and is suitable for aquariums from 5L to 50L – no other set is small enough to deal with those sort of sizes. The set contains a regulator, bottle holder that can clip on the side of your aquarium, CO2 tubing and diffuser.

The bottles are 16g each and are available as a pack of 3 and can be found here.

For all other CO2 accessories visit the site by clicking CO2 equipment.