Lava Rock which is formed from the intense heat of volcanos has many hidden benefits for the aquarium that many hobbyist are not even aware of. This blog post on The Hidden Benefits of Lava Rock will give an insight into how this rock really does help.
What are the benefits?
Lava Rock is perfect for providing the ideal living environment for your aquarium because it has beneficial denitrifying bacteria. This bacteria will improve your water quality by reproducing and then removing nitrates.
How does it work?
You only have to inspect the rock and you can see it is covered in tiny holes making it extremely porous allowing water to pass through and diffuse into the rock. So what does The Hidden Benefits of Lava Rock really mean? An anearobic environment is created inside the rock as beneficial nitrifying bacteria consume all the oxygen in the water. Within this anerobic environment inside the rock, denitrifying bacteria consume the nitrate and produce oxygen and nitrogen. We all know how nitrate in the aquarium is bad news for fish and shrimp so Lava Rock really is the most natural and best way of removing nitrate.
What do I do with it?
Lava is an attractive rock in its own right so not only is it beneficial, it is also ornamental too. They look very natural and stack very well indeed. Some people comment that it is like as if the rock has glue on it as it stacks together so well. It is so versatile and you can really have some fun playing around with different pieces and creating various shapes and constructions. It is popular for creating a cave effect (see picture below) making it a perfect refuge for certain fish and shrimp.
Shrimp love to forage on Lava Rock in search of bits of food that may have fallen into the holes. Shrimp also like to have a safe place to hide when they moult so creating them a cave with small pieces would be ideal for them. It really is true The Hidden Benefits of Lava Rock!
Ammonia in a planted aquarium can be a common problem especially if your tank is new or if you have upset the substrate in some way – you may have over fed your fish too as that can cause a spike. For the first few weeks of a tank cycle you may well see some Ammonia present in your tank water. Assuming you have no fish in your tank (which you shouldn’t do as the first fish should go in after 6 weeks), there’s no need to worry. Just let the nitrogen cycle take it’s natural course and your ammonia will disappear after it converts to nitrite and then nitrogen (which is harmless). But what about those of you who have put fish in too early or for some other reason like over feeding or disturbing your substrate and you have ammonia? Follow the steps below and you can’t go far wrong:
Step 1 – act fast. Ammonia is the number one killer of fresh and coldwater fish. If ammonia is present your fish won’t last long. The reason why ammonia is so toxic is that it works by binding directly onto the oxygen particles in your water, so essentially it starves your fish of oxygen so when they breath, they’re gasping for oxygen. This is why their gills are pumping.
Step 2 – Use Seachem Amguard immediately. This is an excellent product which will bind the ammonia and render it harmless meaning that your fish will not suffer. Oxygen is then freed up so your fish can breath normally.
Step 3 – Use Seachem Stablity. Another excellent product which helps to convert the ammonia into nitrite and then nitrate (end goal) quicker than any other product on the market. Use this at the same time as Seachem Amguard for best results.
Step 4 – Monitor your ammonia using Seachem Ammonia Alert. This is a permanent test that you place on the inside of your aquarium and it reads your ammonia levels 24/7. Therefore there will be no question of doubt if you have the toxic ammonia or not.
Once you follow these steps you can relax and your fish will be happy. Don’t forget that we offer Express Delivery so if you need your goods fast then we offer a next day delivery service.
If we never tested our water, how would we know exactly what is happening? Understanding water parameters is essential for planted aquariums and with hobbyists who are relatively inexperienced, they really help. It’s too early to be guessing at what is happening within your tank just by looking at your plants and fish. So what should we test for and when should we test?
The main test kits that are important to planted aquariums are pH, KH, GH, PO4 (phosphate), NO3 (nitrate) and Fe (Iron). There are other test kits that are useful such as NO2 (nitrite) and NH4 (ammonia) but they are more useful at the beginning of setting up an aquarium or when adding new fish.
Which brand? There are a vast amount of brands available in today’s market and there is no question of doubt that test kits vary enormously in not only accuracy but also price. It’s fair to say that the cheaper the test kit, the less accurate it will be. For that reason we recommend test kits by Precision Labs – they supply dip test which means you literally dip the testing stick into your water for about 2 seconds and then remove it. They provide a very accurate result in a short period of time. If you prefer liquid tests where different solutions are used then click here to see our range.
So now we know which test kits are needed and which brands are best, what levels should we be aiming for? The first thing to remember about planted aquariums are that your water parameters will change all the time. Do not focus too much on pH and how much that will swing from day to day. There is no problem with pH swings – it’s perfectly normal. The target reading is 6.8 but if you struggle to achieve this, don’t worry too much. KH is a test to determine the carbonate hardness of your water; aim for about 3-4 kH. This level will also help stabilise your pH. GH will vary enormously and is also linked with pH. The target level for GH is 60ppm (parts per million) but plants are OK with higher levels. PO4 in a non CO2 aquarium is considered undesirable so aim for 1 ppm or less. NO3 levels should remain between 10-50ppm (preferably closer towards 10ppm in a non CO2 aquarium). Higher levels than this are undesirable and there are a number of filter resins that can be added to soak up excesses. Fe levels should stay low – iron is a trace element so the plants only require low levels. 0.1ppm is sufficient and it’s worth noting that higher levels than this can cause undesirable algae growth.
Before you begin testing your aquarium water, it’s best to know what levels you are working with before hand and the most simple way of this is to test your tap water. This way you understand the ‘base levels’ and know what to expect. It also gives you a good idea of what your plants are consuming and what levels are increasing as you feed your fish and nitrates and phosphates are produced. But don’t forget although fish produce waste, plants absorb some of these excesses too.