Tag Archives: water

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

The Hidden Benefits of Lava Rock

The Hidden Benefits of Lava Rock

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!

The Hidden Benefits of Lava Rock
The Hidden Benefits of Lava Rock

To grab yourself some Lava Rock please click here.

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.

 

Can’t be bothered to do water changes?

Some of you are like this, and some are not but the bottom line is that you need to perform water changes when you keep a planted aquarium. Sounds simple right? Well I know a lot of folk who don’t perform many water changes, because…

I did a 20% water change the other week – that’s enough right?…

 

That’s not enough I’m afraid. If I’ve kept you attention, read on.

Water changes are needed to remove pollutants that plants produce – you can’t see them, but they sure are there. When plants grow, they like everything else that grows they produce waste. These waste products (organics) need to be removed, otherwise they build up, become more concentrated and then cause you problems and normally show up in algae form. In many CO2 infused aquariums, your turbo charged tank is really motoring and plants are growing like weeds, so it’s important to stress that the quicker your plants grow, the more waste they produce and this is why it is essential to:

perform 40-50% water changes every week.

It’s a bit like flushing the toilet if you catch my drift. Imagine not flushing the toilet…YUK!!

How often do you perform water changes?

CO2 Bubble Counter

Bubble counters play an important role when you’re running a CO2 infused planted aquarium and for good reason too. It’s a great way of knowing how much CO2 you are pumping into your aquarium.Of course we still suggested drop checkers with bromo blue are the ultimate solution for understanding CO2 levels, but bubble counters still play an important role.

But like so many things these days you have lots of choice so which is the best?

The answer really depends on what you are running – are you pressurised or are you using yeast to produce your CO2? If you’re using the latter then you can probably stick with the bubble counter that came with your CO2 set but if you’re running pressurised then consider the Easy Aqua Bubble Counter & Check Valve. Pressurised systems which operate with 2 bar pressure place a lot of strain on equipment which is manufactured to lower quality levels. Non return valves for example will easily pop off their CO2 tubing or just not functions as they should and can leak (normally when you’re not at home…). At the opposite end of the spectrum with quality equipment you know it will do the job which it should. The Easy Aqua Bubble Counter & Check Valve falls into the category of quality. It allows CO2 tubing to be attached securely to the bubble counter and the screw ends make sure that there is no way that the tubing will pop off. So it offers piece of mind more than anything else. In addition, because the non return valve is immediately below the bubble counter there is less water lost over time. It’s common for water to migrate south with bubble counters but this isn’t possible with the Easy Aqua Bubble Counter & Check Valve.

How to fill it up?

Filling this unit is simple and we recommend using normal tap water. All you need to do is undo the top piece and hold it under your tap until the clear section fills up (fill it all the way up). Once you’re done, keep it upright then attach your CO2 tubing onto the unit, then onto your CO2 diffuser.

Final Perk

The final benefit of the Easy Aqua Bubble Counter & Check Valve is that you can attach CO2 tubing onto it without the risk of damage. Glass units can break easily especially under pressure but you won’t have this concern here. For the above reasons we have great confidence in recommending the Easy Aqua Bubble Counter & Check Valve and it can be used in any pressurised CO2 system without any problems.

If you find this blog post, why not post a link on Twitter or your Facebook page?

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/

Test Kits For Planted Aquariums

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.

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.