Tag Archives: fertilisers

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 .

pagoda-rock-in-aquarium

Carpeting Aquarium Plants

Carpeting Aquarium Plants

Everyone loves carpeting aquarium plants right? I mean there’s nothing more delightful than looking at a beautiful green carpet of plants that are growing very happily at the bottom of your tank. They’ve always been popular and a question we’re asked fairly regularly so it made sense to put down in detail the plants we recommend, why we do that and how easy they are to grow. You see, the thing with carpeting aquarium plants is they’re not necessarily tricky but are neglected due to their location and this is why some fail. In addition a lot of carpeting plants have small root structure so you need to make sure you offer plenty of fertilisers and liquid carbon, AND a nutrient rich substrate. By covering all the bases you give yourself the very best chance of creating a carpet you have always dreamed of.

But let’s start with the easiest and work our way down to the trickiest. Note that our selection will be very different from other shops, most probably because we know what we’re talking about as we’ve been aquascaping for over 20 years. So here’s the top 5 Carpeting Aquarium Plants:

In FIRST PLACE THE Easiest Carpeting Aquarium Plant – Micranthemum ‘Monte-Carlo’

Micranthemum ‘Monte-Carlo’carpeting aquarium plant. This beautiful carpeting aquarium plant is suitable for beginners and up is unlikely to cause you any problems whatsoever. In fact its very tolerant of beginners which makes a refreshing change in the carpeting aquarium plants section.The leaves on this plant are small but not too small if you know what I mean. Now this is key because it’s able to photosynthesise very nicely doe to leaf shape and number. You can tell by the pot that this plant is absolutely loaded – literally thousands of leaves per pot. You can have high light, low light, CO2, no CO2 and it will still do well. There’s very little negative to say about it which is why it gets the top spot that beginners and above will love. If you’re after a bit more detail, view our other blog post on it by clicking here.

And here’s a rather neat video of the plant being trimmed.

In SECOND PLACE in carpeting aquarium plants is Staurogyne porto vehlo. Now you probably haven’t heard of this plant nor considered it as a carpeting aquarium plant but it seriously is a huge contender. Not quite as straight forward as Monte Carlo but if you kill this plant I’ll give you your money back (actually I won’t but it’s really Carpeting Aquarium Plantseasy to care for plant!) Once settled into your tank, you need to do very little to it for it to start creeping across the bottom of your nutritious substrate (you have got one right?! If not you need to). Suitable for both high and low light planted aquariums, only start to trim once it throws down roots. Apart from that you need to do VERY LITTLE for this plant to flourish and become and excellent Carpeting Aquarium Plant. Buy this plant now by clicking here.

 

In THIRD PLACE in carpeting aquarium plants is Micranthemum umbrosum. Not too dis-similar from the easiest of the carpeting aquarium plants as you can tell from the name. Very easy to care for and creeps perfectly. Leaves are small and round, maybe 5mm in diameter. But can you see the way it hangs down over the pot in the picture? This is why it’s another perfect carpeting aquarium plant – gravity forces it down. In termCarpeting Aquarium Plantss of lighting, it would benefit from slightly higher light, so you might get away with it in a low tech tank, but the addition of liquid carbon would always help and benefit the plant. Like all plants once you’ve placed it in the substrate, avoid trimming it for a few weeks so it can become established. The trigger for me is new roots – once you see them, it’s fine to trim, otherwise you can end up traumatising it. Apart from that, dead easy and ideal for beginners.

 

In FOURTH PLACE in carpeting aquarium plantsis Elecharis acicularis which has been in the hobby for donkeys years. In fact when I first startCarpeting Aquarium Plantsed to aqusacape (back in the 20th century!), I remember this plant being very popular but it was always sold in clumps. I vividly remember thinking I was getting a bargain as a bought two lots of 50. When it turned up I was severely disappointed because it was 2 bunches of 50 stems, which was maybe the equivalent to 2 pots at best. But I digress, this is a brilliant contender in Carpeting Aquarium Plants, but I’ve placed it at number 4 because it’s somewhat tricky as if it gets too much light and not enough CO2/fertilisers it clogs up with algae. It can also clog up with general debris so it does need cleaning and syphoning every week unless you have plenty of freshwater shrimp that will clean it for you. Apart from that it looks delightful when swaying in the current and you can trim it very short to give a manicured effect. If you want to see this plant being trimmed have a look at the video below.

Carpeting Aquarium Plants
The famous carpeting plant Hemianthus callitrichoides

FIFTH PLACE in carpeting aquarium plants, but certainly one of THE most popular Carpeting Aquarium Plants of all time is the famous Hemianthus callitrichoides. Now you might be surprised this wasn’t at the number one spot but we’re talking about easy carpeting aquarium plants and whilst this one isn’t necessarily difficult, it is unforgiving. Hemianthus callitrichoides can die  quickly – in fact you can do a pretty good job at killing it off in a couple of days if you don’t give it plenty of CO2 and lots of fertilisers. With minimal roots, it needs to take all of its nutrients from the leaves and if it doesn’t get just what it wants, it dies off. I know customers who have bought 20+ pots from us, for them all to die because his conditions weren’t quite right. This was a very tough lesson for sure, but it’s a reality. But if you get the conditions as it needs, it’s so beautiful and I’m suggesting that you work up to this plant. Imagine it to be the gold medal of all carpeting plants, because if you can master this one, you will have no problems with any others. If you want to see how fast this plant can grow then check this video out – took a mere 78 days to carpet.


and similarly if you want to see how you can trim Hemianthus callitrichoides, then check this video out

 

 

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

 

What is so good about Neutro’s?

you have heard that your plants need food right? but what is the best food to give your plants, what would they like?

I’m here to tell you whats so good about Neutro’s and why you need to give it to your plants.

Firstly you need to know that there are three different Neutro fertilisers, you need to make sure you know what they are about and which ones are right for you.

To start with there is Neutro CO2. This is a liquid carbon fertiliser that is about a third of the strength of Pressurised CO2. Almost all tanks need liquid carbon, the only exception are and tanks that have plants that don’t like liquid carbon, such as Valliseria. Liquid carbon is a very important source of growth for plants. if you have plants in your tank that are living but aren’t growing and flourishing then you need to add liquid carbon.

neutro-co2

Secondly there is Neutro T. Neutro T provides your plants with the Trace elements that need to really flourish. Trace elements included are Boron, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum and Zinc. These micro nutrients are key for plant growth.

 

Lastly there is Neutro + now it is key that you use Neutro + if you have pressurised CO2 set up in your aquarium. It is important that you use Neutro + because this fertiliser not only has the Trace elements that plants need it also has the macro nutrients that pressurised CO2 removes from your tank. The macro nutrients are Potassium, Phosphorus and Nitrogen.

 

When using Neutro fertilisers it is important that you dose correctly. over or under dosing can cause algae issues in your tank.

CO2 = 5ml per 100L daily

T and + = 10ml per 100L daily

What are your thoughts about Neutro fertilisers? have you found them to be beneficial?

 

Aquarium plants dying

Sounds familiar?

It is to me. But then I am on the receiving end but if you go onto forums you’ll see this sort of statement all the time. I often here the same reason as to why aquarium plants are dying and it’s normally due to the fact that they have algae. They’ve been told (normally by shops) they need to starve the algae. Advice like this is sooooo old school yet the message is continually advised from shop owners who in my opinion clearly don’t know what is best.

So hobbyists follow the advice given to starve their algae and totally stop the nutrients they are putting in. Algae dies back a little and plants totally disintegrate – the reason why is simply

you’ve just starved your plants to death…

My advice to anyone who is looking for advice is speak to experts, like us (and a few others) who know what is best, and not generic shops which peddle out these toxic messages. If your plants are dying you need to first work out why. First, are they actually aquatic plants? Sounds a funny thing to ask but there are still a lot of shops that sell non aquatic plants! This only adds to confusion to hobbyists who may be doing everything else right. Below are pictures of a few non aquatic plant – looks nice heh?

 

problem is they will last a couple of weeks then start breaking down. These plants should live in your garden or conservatory, not in your tank. So if you have a plant that looks like these (normally they come without plant labels for identification), remove them and start again.

Secondly, are your plants getting the right nutrients? I’m recommending Neutro T for non CO2 tanks and Neutro+ for CO2 infused tanks.Your plants need no other nutrients with these ferts below.

neutro t aquarium fertiliser

neutro+ aquarium fertiliser

You add these ferts daily because that’s what plants want. Just like us, they want feeding every day – not so crazy is it? Feeding weekly is nuts and just marketing spiel to make it appear that the fertilisers are more economical then they actually are.

Are you providing your plants with carbon is gas or liquid form? If not, why not? Carbon is the backbone of plant growth and without it, your plants will suffer. Try Neutro CO2

neutro CO2 aquarium fertiliser

Are you performing weekly water changes of at least 30%? Plants need clean water unless you want to grow algae and I’m guessing you don’t.

If you follow these very basic steps I guarantee that you will have success with the majority of plants. Some that you might struggle with are advanced one’s but we’ll get onto that at another time.

If you’re still having troubles, reply to this post and let’s talk :) Call us on 01363 774 787.

Struggling with foreground plants?

You won’t be the first and certainly not the last. Foreground plants are the trickiest – not because they are harder than other plants, but just that they need a little more attention than others. The main factor to consider is their location – right at the bottom of the tank where there is the least amount of light, water movement and CO2.

If your foreground plants are struggling, think about their location and then ask yourself this question:

are you giving them what they want?

 

They want decent light, good fertilisers and CO2. If you don’t give them this, growth will be slow and odds are the plants will die off and algae grows. Point your circulation pump at them – they need to sway in the current and make sure CO2 is physically being pushed over them and getting trapped in the leaves.

Make sure you’re providing good ferts like Neutro+ because when the CO2 is being pushed over them, the ferts will be too (double whammy :))

Are you struggling with foreground plants? Let me know and reply to this post and I can help

What’s your favourite one – mine if HC :)

How We Hold Our Aquatic Plants

As you know we’re a serious shop which specialises in the planted aquarium – a life long passion of ours. Plants as you might expect are very important to us and have always intrigued us due to the variety and the types of species available. But there are lots of other plants retailers in the UK, admittedly they’re not specialists, but they ‘hold’ plants. The definition of ‘holding’ plants varies enormously and you may have visited these shops before, a metal halide on the ceiling and lots dead or poor quality plants floating about. Some are much better (not many) but you get the idea.

We’re in business because we love what we do and strive to be the best. So why do some aquatic shops not look after their plants and why don’t they care? They lose money every time a plant dies but for some reason this makes no difference. Even in the current economic climate few retailers are able to hold plants for longer than one week without them deteriorating or dying – the end result means chucking them straight in the bin. Of course the question should why are they not worried about throwing away money and why are they holding their plants in a tank anyway with no CO2 and fertilisers anyway? Because they don’t really care….

It is perfectly feasible to keep plants looking great in aquariums, providing you know what you are doing, but there is also a better way. Have you ever wondered how Tropica and Aquafleur keep and grow their plants?  The answer is hydroponically – it’s much easier. But shops will not embrace this way which is a shame as they would have so much more success, and if they really loved their plants they would care.

I find this really sad because I love plants and want to make sure they look their best at all times, particularly as they will be sent in the post and customers rightly have even higher expectations of plant quality when they are buying online – because you can’t see the exact plant you will receive. Some shops will take advantage of this situation and maybe send a plant which shouldn’t be posted in the hope that the customer won’t be bothered to complain but we’re different. You expect the best and when shopping with Aqua Essentials, and that is exactly what you receive, the best. So how do we achieve and maintain this standard? The answer is a simple one, and incredibly no other shop in the UK, holds aquatic plants like we do. That’s right, no other shops in the UK, and possibly in the world. Intrigued? Read on…

We spoke to the growers of Aquafleur and Tropica plants and asked about their systems. We wanted to know all about humidity, temperature, air movement, nutrients and so on but the biggest question was how to replicate their conditions in our own warehouse. Because if we are serious about plants, which we are, why wouldn’t we want to keep plants the same way as the growers? Makes sense doesn’t it?

After taking on their advice, we invested in a climate controlled environment in which all plants are held hydroponically. This means that the pots are kept in nutrient rich water but the leaves are kept out of the water. The humidity is high, so we invested in equipment that creates humidity. We also needed to make sure that there is plenty of air movement so intake and extraction fans are used – this makes sure plants receive fresh air and oxygen. Temperature has to be specific for aquatic plants so, we’ve invested in equipment that maintains a specific temperature at all times. But the message is not what we have invested in, it’s the dedication we make to ensure your plants (which is essentially what they are) are kept in the very best condition. Our plants don’t have algae, they don’t have snails but do have the strength to survive in the post for incredibly long periods of time because we have replicated as close as possible the growing conditions of the plant farms we buy from.

We want you to feel safe and secure that you’re buying the best. We’re proud to be the first aquatic retailer that has replicated plant farms in Europe and we wanted to share this news with you. In the future we will be holding at least 3 times the amount of plants we currently stock which is pretty exciting – this means you’ll be able to get a wider range from us along with better stock levels meaning if you have an idea for a planted tank and specific plants, odds are you’ll be able to get them from us and know that they are being held in the very best environment, just like the growers.

If you have any questions about the way we hold aquatic plants, ask a question on this blog :)

Flow Rate In A Planted Aquarium

I’ve written about this before and no doubt I will continue to write about it in the future. Flow rate in a CO2 infused aquarium needs to be high – it has to be in order to move around the fertilisers and CO2. What you want to see is your plants moving, swaying in the flow and if they are all doing that, then you’ve probably nailed it. But actions speak better than words. Check this short YouTube clip out by Mark Evans – notice the powerful flow rate and also the excellent plant growth (the fertiliser he uses is Tropica Plant Nutrition+)

What’s the flow rate like in your planted aquarium? Anything like Mark’s?

More Aquatic Plants = More CO2

Have you ever had a CO2 infused planted aquarium and for a while everything went just right? You had no problems, things were doing well, no algae and you felt pretty pleased with yourself :). In fact, you had temporarily nailed it and then…

algae appears

So you rack your brain, think about what has changed and what might have happened but you still draw a blank. The answer is that you have probably become a victim of your own success (or at least your tank has). As your tank matures, plants grow. This means that the increased biomass effects water distribution along with the plants requiring more fertilisers. If you have kept your CO2 levels the same as before and you’re still adding the same amount of fertilisers as before, you can begin to see why the problem has evolved. Slowly but surely you’ve been starving your plants of what they really need:

  1. More CO2
  2. More Fertilisers
  3. Better Water Distribution

The best thing to do at this stage is to give your plants a good haircut. This will bring overall levels back to where they were (when the tank was doing great). Any deformed leaves or one’s which have algae on them should be chopped off. Essentially you are resetting your aquarium and now you know better. It’s important to stress that as your tank grows you have to increase CO2, fertilisers and improve water flow. Larger plants will block water in its path and stop essential nutrients from getting where they used to. Pay attention to what your plants are telling you – observe your CO2 bubbles and see if they are getting to everywhere that they should. This is the beauty about using pressurised CO2 as you can watch the tiny bubbles move around the tank and if they’re not getting to a certain area, then you can bet fertilisers aren’t either.

In summary, it’s easy to overlook the correlation between plants growing and the effect this has on your planted aquarium. Just remember that as they grow, more demands are put on the aquarium unless you maintain the plants to a specific size (trimming weekly for example).

Have you had problems with your aquarium and overcome them? I’d love to here them.

Water Circulation In A Planted Aquarium

This is something that I discuss with customers time and time again but in all honesty a lot of hobbyists don’t realise how important it really is. Water circulation in a planted aquarium is really important.

Picture this – your aquarium is heavily planted, you infuse CO2, add excellent fertilisers like AE Design Aqua Nourish and Aqua Nourish+. You have good lighting and perform regular large water changes but…you only have one filter pushing around the water, CO2 and fertilisers. And for some reason you have algae – anyone been in this situation?

The reason you have algae is insufficient water distribution. Whilst you get full marks for everything else, in a planted tank that is CO2 infused, you have to get everything right otherwise, algae grows. If you only have one filter pushing water around and you probably have wood/rocks so there will be quite a few dead spots or certainly areas that don’t get much if any water flow due to the deflection they cause. Water flow is the life blood of the system – it carries nutrients and CO2 to the plants and if circulation isn’t up to scrath, your plants don’t get what they need and algae responds. When diffusing CO2 into your tank, you literally have to see the bubbles everywhere and if they’re not in every nook and cranny, you can bet the plants will be struggling in that area.

Water circulation pumps don’t need to be particularly large, in fact some are quite small and powerful. Let me introduce you to Hydor Pico Evo Mag 650. This amazing tiny piece of equipment moves 650L of water per hour and it’s only 4.5x3x6cm which means that it can sit in your tank and barely takes up any space. It contains a magnetic suction cup so you place it anywhere and the idea is to direct it towards the areas in your tank, which don’t get enough water movement. If you have foreground plants, you would need to direct this onto them – in fact this is one reason so many struggle with them. Because they are at the bottom of the tank, they don’t get much water movement and therefore not much CO2 and fertilisers. By pointing a Hydor Pico Evo Mag 650 towards them, it will push the necessary water, fertilsers and CO2 onto your foreground plants forcing them to sway in the current (perfect!).

Ensuring you get your water movement just right, removes so much stress from your planted aquarium. If you want to see our other range of water circulating pumps then visit this link here.

If you are having problems with your aquarium, why not ask a question on this blog and I will respond.

In addition I have managed to find an excellent image of a larger planted aquarium in which world class aquascaper Mark Evans demonstrates perfectly why a circulation pump is required.