How to Clean Your Aquarium Like a Pro

Fishes can die if you clean the aquarium with heavy chemicals or because of your lack negligence. You can clean it without using the chemicals. It is advised to clean the tank once a month if you start doing it this way.

How to clean aquarium – First Steps

Make sure that all cables are plugged out (pump and lighting). Take a bowl and take everything out so that it doesn’t drip. The majority is easy to wash except the glass. Gently catch the fishes using a net and place them in a plastic bag filled with aquarium water and then transfer them along with the water into another clean bowl. This way, it will be less shock for the fishes. Move them, for now, to a quieter part of the room. 

 

Aquarium cleaning preparations

Take out the most of the water from the aquarium (with a plastic cup or pour it into a bowl). If it’s possible move the aquarium to the balcony, yard or bathroom tiles (but make sure to put an old towel or a rug underneath it). Prepare a sponge with an abrasive or a nanosponge which don’t require the use of a detergent. Take out all the decoration from the aquarium and put it in the bowl. Rinse them first. Take the pump apart and clean it well, especially the sponge inside the pump. If you have rocks in the tank take them out, wash them and leave them aside. It is recommended to keep only a few rocks behind which the fishes can hide in the tank because of easier maintenance.

 

 

Glass Cleaning

You clean the aquarium with water and a sponge. If the calculus can’t be removed, try some rough sea salt (but make sure to wash the tank properly). You can also clean the aquarium by not taking everything out.

how to change water in aquarium

Changing the Water

The new water shouldn’t be too cold or too hot and you can pour it using a hose or a bucket. If you use the chlorinated water from the public water supply, you should let it sit for 24 hours). 

 

Natural cleaners

Never buy fishes if you don’t buy cleaner fishes. Usually, two or three fishes require one cleaner fish (Plecostomus and Otocinclus). Also, there are special cleaner snails which live in aquariums. However, they can be a problem because they eat plants and breed very quickly, so stick to regular cleaners

How to Change the Water in Your Aquarium

Why do we need to change the aquarium water?

Even if the water looks clean, stir it up on the surface and you will be shocked with the amount of dirt. Where does it come from? During the feeding process, small particles of food fall to the bottom of the tank and decompose. In the meantime, eaten food is accumulated in the tank in the shape of urine and feces, which also produces dirt.

Aside from the unwanted waste which is visible to the eye, there is an invisible one in the form of nitrates and phosphates. They are damaging to the fishes and make them more susceptible to illnesses. The rise of nitrate levels will slow down the growth of young fishes and can even result in a decrease of reproductive functions with adult fishes.

3D aquarium background in a wall mounted fish tank

Nitrates also affect the development of algae. Phosphates have a similar effect. Water replacement is the best way to maintain the levels of phosphates and nitrates low. Waste isn’t the only reason you should change the water in the aquarium. Minerals are important for the health of your fishes as well as the stable chemical composition of the water. 

In time they are either used up or filtrated. If you don’t replace them, the pH level will drop. Besides, the lack of minerals will affect the strength and health of fishes negatively. Regular water replacement can be compared to giving kids vitamins which help them maintain their strength and health. 

How often you should change the water in the aquarium?

Water replacement should be a part of the regular maintenance of the tank. How frequently you will do it depends on many factors. Smaller tanks with more equipment will require you to change the water more often than the bigger ones with less equipment.

It is advised to change 10-15% of the water every week. If you have a heavily equipped tank, you should change 20% of water per week. Less equipped tanks can last up to two weeks but that is the limit you shouldn’t go over.

If you are not sure if you are using the right aquarium equipment for the size of your aquarium, we wrote an article about aquarium equipment that should be helpful to you.

Some people think that adding water into the aquarium is the same as changing the water. However, that is not the case. Adding water doesn’t remove the waste so don’t fool yourself thinking that it is clean only because you added fresh water into it. This is a common beginner’s mistake, check out others mistakes people make with new aquariums in case you might be making one of those.

how to change water in aquarium

Tips for changing aquarium water

There are some pieces of advice you should consider when changing the water:

  • Let the water sit – this way dissolved gasses that are dangerous for the fishes will decompose. That will also help the pH level stabilize before the fishes are added to the aquarium.
  • Clean the sand – When you change the old water, vacuum the substrate at the same time. That way you will get rid of the waste.
  • Don’t clean the filter – Cleaning the sand affects the colonies of healthy bacteria. The filter is another location where these bacteria grow. It wouldn’t be wise to clean both locations at the same time. The filter can be cleaned in between water replacement.

Everything You Need to Know about Aquariums and Aquaristics

These are the instructions for beginners who wish to start doing aquaristics and make their living space nicer…

If you like animals and a peaceful, Zen environment you definitely need to buy an aquarium. Fishes are pets which don’t require a lot of attention, but they will keep you company and fill out your living space. Aquaristics is a big and broad area so you need to inform and educate yourself thoroughly before you buy an aquarium.

We decided to explain the most important things which will help you start doing aquaristics in order to create a small ecosystem which should function perfectly in your home.  

     1.The size of the aquarium

There is a misconception that smaller aquariums are easier and better for beginners. The smaller the volume of the aquarium, the harder it is to maintain it. Smaller water volume means that every added supplement can seriously damage the water composition so any living creature in the water will have troubles with adaptation. If you are a beginner, don’t buy an aquarium smaller than 65 liters.

       2. Aquarium as a living environment

Many people think that aquaristics is simple and that the water and fishes are enough, however, that is not the case. You have to look at the aquarium as a living being. You have to make your aquarium habitable. That’s the only way your fishes and plants can survive and live for a longer period of time.

aquarium environment - Aquarium and Aquaristics

When you buy a tank, you have to fill it with water and leave it for at least 30 days without fishes. In that way, you cycle the tank and create beneficial bacteria which later clean NO3 gases coming from fish feces. This process can be sped up by adding chemical substances but our advice is to let nature take its course and create suitable living conditions.

 3.Aquarium Plants

Many people forget that you can put plants into the tank. Of course, this is a matter of choice but we advise you to put in a few living plants into your tank. They give a sense of a real natural environment and make your aquarium look more beautiful. Also, plants will create additional oxygen and make the water better for the fishes. They will feel more natural and safer now that there are plants which they can use to hide.  Here you can read a guide for choosing the best aquarium plants for your tank.

aquarium plants

Plant maintenance is not complicated. There are demanding and less demanding plants and we advise you to start with the latter. They need light and nourishing substrate which is placed at the bottom of the tank. After you plant them, they will start developing and growing really fast. Later you can use scissors to prune them and shape them as you wish. If you want to learn more about aquarium lightning we wrote an article that can help you.

4.Filtration and additional equipment

An aquarium can’t survive long without a filter. The filter must be suitable for the amount of water you have in your tank and contain good filtration materials like activated charcoal and volcanic rocks. This way, the water is cleansed and all dirt is removed from the water. First, seek advice from people in the tank shop who will recommend the best filter for your tank. Later you will learn how it functions on your own. We wrote a useful guide on how to choose the right aquarium filter, it should help you to make the right decision.

Apart from the filter, you need to have a heater which will keep the water temperature constant. The temperature depends on the fishes you have in the tank but if it’s a mix of tropical fishes, the water temperature should be around 26 degrees.

Air spray is also very important because it oxidizes the water and makes it easier for the fishes to breathe in it. 

 

5.Lighting

Although we already mentioned the additional equipment, the lighting should be in a separate advice category. As you know, light is very important because it’s the source of life. There are two types of lighting, one for the plants and one for the fishes. The lighting has to be placed right so that illuminates the entire surface of the aquarium. You need to make sure the lighting turns on and off to simulate the cycle of day and night. So, we advise you to keep the light turned off for 14 hours and on for 10 hours, if you want to learn more about aquarium lightning we have an article for you.

aquarium lightning

You can buy cheap timers which will do the job for you.

6.Fishes

When you provide all the right conditions and put in all of the equipment into the tank, you can then start adding the fishes. Try not to add too many fishes at once because every time you add them you change the chemical composition. Before you release them into the water, put the fishes, along with the plastic bag you bought them in, into the aquarium water. That way they will adapt to the aquarium temperature. 

aquarium fish

Before adding them, you should decide which fish you want to keep. You can have a few big ones or smaller ones. You don’t usually mix big and small fishes. Also, you need to see if they are herbivores or not. If you have plant-eating fishes, like goldfishes, then you can’t have plants in the tank.

The most important thing is to add fishes which aren’t aggressive and which get along with others. You always need to check this and ask the shop assistant if the fishes you want to buy can cohabitate with the ones you already have.  

If you didn’t choose your aquarium fish yet, here is the list of most popular aquarium fish for beginners.

7.Cleaning

Many people think that the tank water is changed at certain intervals but that is partially true. The water should never be changed entirely, but you need to change 1/3 every 7-10 days. The tank mustn’t be exposed to sunlight directly or be near the window, as well as cold and drafty places.

You can clean the glass with a razor or with special magnetic cleaners which will remove all the dirt.

Remember that aquaristics isn’t hard but you need to be persistent and try to provide the best possible living space. That way, the fishes will be healthier and live longer and you will have a wonderful part of nature in your apartment or house. 

The most common mistakes with new aquariums


Starting with a too-small tank

First, and the most common mistake with aquariums is starting with a small tank. People started opting for smaller tanks since they appeared on the market. However, a smaller tank is a total failure for beginners. Why? Because if the volume of water is smaller, main water characteristics change quickly so you can’t make a single mistake. Even experienced aquarists see a small tank as a challenge. Beginners in this hobby should avoid aquariums under 20 gallons until they gain experience. Remember that the bigger the aquarium, the less impact your mistake will have on the fish.

Adding fish into the tank too soon

Beginners are impatient to add the fish, often the same day when they set up the tank. Some are lucky but most soon lose some or all of the fish. What goes wrong? The water in the new tank isn’t stabilized yet. Gases, as well as minerals, hard metals and chemicals have dissolved in the water. Without going further into the subject of water chemical composition, it’s safe to say that dissolved constituents can harm the fish. Tank water should be treated and neutralized from harmful ingredients and should sit for a day or more so that the dissolved gases and pH value are stabilized. After that it’s safe to put the fish into the aquarium.

mistakes with new aquarium

Adding too much fish at once

Aquarium owners are impatient to fill the tank with fish. Adding too much fish at once is sadly one of the most common mistakes with aquarium that beginners make. Until bacteria colonies don’t form completely, the tank can’t support too much fish. In the beginning add only two small endurable fishes. Before you add more, wait until the values of ammonia and nitrogen go up and then reach zero.

problem with aquarium

Overcrowding

Even after they first set up the tank, it is very usual that beginners overcrowd it. Although an experienced person can successfully grow a school of twenty small fishes in a 10-gallon tank, it would be disastrous for beginners. We recommend 80 percent per net gallon of water as the maximum number of inches of fish to keep in the tank. The net gallon of water is the amount of water in the tank after the gravel and decorations are placed. For example, the tank has 16 gallons of water after decorations and gravel are added. If you multiply 16 and 80% you get a result of 12.9 or about 13 inches (33cm) of fish as the maximum number.

Incompatible fish

Aquarium owners who are beginners often choose fish that look attractive and they are not familiar with their needs when it comes to their environment. Some fishes fight each other or maybe need completely different conditions in the water. In both cases, you shouldn’t keep them together. Always research every species before you choose them to keep the company in your aquarium. Choose peaceful fish that advance in similar water conditions.

Overfeeding

Pet fish owners’ mistake number one is overfeeding. Fish are opportunistic and they will always ask for food. Only because they look hungry doesn’t mean that you need to feed them all the time. Feed them only the amount they can eat in five minutes. During the setup of the tank, feed the fish not more than once a day, and in critical moments when the values of ammonia and nitrogen are high, postpone the feeding for one day or two to lower the waste accumulation. Fishes can easily endure seven days with no food without suffering any consequences. If you are interested in making your own fish food, you should read our blog on topic how to make your own fish food.

Lack of filtration

Aquarium filters should filtrate all of the water in the tank at least three times an hour. If they don’t, it means it’s too small. If you have doubts about the size of the filter, you should buy the bigger one. You can’t filtrate the water too much but you can filtrate less than necessary and that can be harmful for the fish. Learn how to chose the right aquarium filter and how to use it in a proper way.

If you don’t test the water

Beginner aquarium owners don’t magically find out about the nitrogen cycle as well as the need to control the chemical composition of water. Because of that the owners aren’t often aware that they need to test the water and don’t manage to handle the deadly toxins. When the nitrogen cycle is established in the beginning, it should be left to function for a day or two. Before adding the fish, the pH value, hardness, values of ammonia and nitrogen should be tested. While establishing the nitrogen cycle, it’s very important to test the ammonia and nitrogen. After that, test the water once a month to be aware of any unnoticeable problems that can occur. If a fish suddenly dies, test the water to see if anything changed.

If you don’t change the water

One more thing new owners aren’t aware of is tank maintenance which includes changing a part of the water regularly. Waste accumulates in the tank and can only be removed by vacuuming the gravel or replacing a part of the water with fresh one. Although the fish maybe won’t die, if you don’t maintain the aquarium and don’t replace the water regularly, they will be under stress because of the lack of quality of the water. That’s why they will be susceptible to diseases and often have a shorter life span than they should.

All the aquarium equipment that you need

It’s not hard to make a tank according to your wishes and needs, says Vladimir Mirkov from the Serbian Aquarists Association and points out that they should be manufactured by professionals for safety and durability reasons. Professionals will give you the right advice about the necessary aquarium equipment.

Smaller aquariums have a volume of 40-60 liters. The ones with the higher volume are big ones which can carry even 300 liters of water.

Platy fish, zebrafish and especially guppy, which capture our attention with their colors, are an ideal choice for beginners. Their price and undemanding nature make them very affordable. For those that choose to keep plants, bacopa, rotala and some types of underwater moss and fern are ideal.

Considering that the aforementioned plants don’t have big needs and are fast-growing, it’s possible to buy them at a very popular price.

Aquarium equipment

The price of the tank is determined according to its volume. One liter of an entire aquarium, with all the necessary elements and a stand costs from 2 to 4 euros. For those with special requests, the price is adjusted to the buyer but you should keep in mind that the tank and its equipment are a long-term investment. This goes for the durable equipment but the expendable products such as food, plant nutrients, and some additional products depend on the inhabitants of the tank and preferences of their owners – says Vladimir Mirkov from the Aquarists Association.

classic-rock-aquarium-background-aquadecor-012

Lighting is important

The type of lighting depends on what should be in the spotlight, the fish or the plants. Fish needs basic lighting while plants need more. If you are looking for more information about aquarium lightning you should read our previous blog, where we talk about types of aquarium lighting and witch one should you get for your aquarium.

You can’t go without heating

The heater strength depends on the volume of the tank and starts from 50W for smaller volumes and 200W for bigger ones. For extremely large tanks it’s necessary to use more heaters.

Custom filter

A filter is bought according to the volume of the tank. For smaller volumes internal motor filter is the ideal one and the external is ideal for all tanks. The only flaw is that it needs to be placed next to the tank. The best esthetic solution is a canister filter which can be hidden in the stand. If you breed fish, pay closer attention to this part of the aquarium equipment. Here is all you need to know before choosing an aquarium filter.

aquarium filters

Useful tip

Smart fish

Underwater fishermen say that the fish around coral reefs got smarter. They learned that fish escapes to a distance of a rope on the harpoon in places where they often fish with underwater guns.

Fish tank – Tips for beginners

One of the best ways of always having a part of nature in your home is a fish tank. A variety of colorful, cheerful inhabitants moving fervently in front of you will relax and cheer you up and at the same time help you forget your everyday problems. Every aquaristics lover can confirm this, moreover all family members, especially children will have the opportunity to learn about fish life. You can agree that a little fish tank is more than beneficial.

Many parents start with buying an aquarium for their children rather than a dog or a cat. Before you get to know the cheerful water inhabitants it’s necessary to find out which sort of life is required for the type of fish you choose.  If you didn’t choose your fish yet, read our blog about the type of aquarium fish and which one you should get for the beginning. It’s all pretty simple because you won’t have a lot of responsibilities nor expenses except for the initial preparation. It’s implied that you won’t start with the most expensive or the most demanding fish.

When you decide to buy an aquarium, you can choose from a plethora of exotic species of fish, not only different for their living conditions (appropriate temperature, acidity i.e. ph. value, aeration and the brightness of their living space) but for their lifestyle and behavior.

Don’t forget it’s necessary to provide them with the best possible conditions so that they are always healthy and cheerful. Try to think about the tank size, how big it needs to be, where you are going to place it, what kind of plants you will use for decoration… Keep in mind that a 3-4 cm fish requires 3-5 liters of water.

realistic fish tank background decorated with our 3D background

 

Fish tank preparation

Before you fill the tank with water it’s necessary to place it in the right place. You mustn’t put it in a sunny place or in the vicinity of windows and electric appliances.

The best place for the fish tank is the darkest corner of the room and you need to make sure that the stand is strong enough and the artificial lighting is adequate. It’s better not to improvise regarding the electrical power source (220V) which will supply the lighting. The safest way is to buy a lamp made for the tank which will have the right support/carrier as well as the appropriate isolation of cables and switches.

First you put the right substrate into the aquarium and then the equipment – water filter, heater, air pump and plants, as well as clay hiding spots. There are different types of filter depending on the size of the aquarium (and price i.e. quality). The best option is the multilayered external filter with the same depth and height as the tank. At first, even an internal filter with 3-4 layers of purifier will be enough. It’s important to change the charcoal at estimated time intervals.  You can read more about aquarium filters and their advantages on one of our previous blog posts.

When you arrange everything, slowly pour the water which sat for 3-5 days and lost the smell of substances used for the filtering and possible dirt residue that fell to the bottom. It is recommended to filter the water for 24 hours and heat it to the adequate temperature prior to putting the fish in. The water will probably darken (lose its transparency) in the first two weeks only to get its original color and transparency back after a few days. Don’t worry about it or change anything because every tank (mini ecosystem) has to survive this maturing faze. After that you can buy the fish.

 

For beginners they recommend goldfish (Japanese), guppy, molly, platy, tiger or barbel fish.

Choose the type of fish you know at least something about and keep them nourished, lively and cheerful. Talk with the vendor who will most often gladly tell you the fish origin, age, type of food and character (you can’t combine all species because of their temperament). Every fish that you buy should go through a quarantine and live in a separate bowl for at least 14 days. That way, you will see if the fish is sick in time and save the rest of the inhabitants of your fish tank. The same goes for the plants you bought. You should firstly disinfect them with a mild potassium permanganate solution (hypomanganate) and then rinse it with clean water and leave it for 3-4 days in a separate water bowl.

 

 

Japanese goldfish

Don’t be in a hurry to feed the fish as soon as you bring them home. Starving for 3-4 days will do them less damage than giving them the wrong food. The fish are feed once a day and they shouldn’t be starved or overfed. Give them a pinch of food several times – the amount they can eat in 10 minutes without leftovers – because the most common beginner problem is giving them a larger amount of food than they need. It’s not a bad idea to make a feeder or buy one, a plastic hose with 4-5mm diameter and connected ends, so that the water doesn’t get into it and it can float on the surface. Doing this will stop the food from spreading through the water and prevent parts from falling to the bottom and start to decompose without fish noticing them. With feeders you can efficiently control that the fish ate all the food you gave them.

fish tank - beginners tips for fish

The temperature in the fish tank should always be the same and you shouldn’t allow variations bigger than 2-3 degrees than it’s recommended. Bear in mind that different species require different conditions so some combinations can’t be kept in the same aquarium.

Plants don’t have only an aesthetic purpose in the tank. It’s very important that the fish have somewhere to hide from each other.

 

Do you transfer the fish from one tank to the other by hand?

Avoid it or be careful… Your warm and dry skin can scald the fish body, slime that protects their body can stuck to the hand and in some parts, there could be wounds. Also, human skin contains bacteria which aren’t dangerous for people but can be deadly for the fish. If the fish does jump out of the tank, put it carefully with a wet hand or a piece of paper into the net and then back into the fish tank or even better with a glass pipe (it sounds strange but “additional equipment” of an aquarist includes different things). Be very careful when transferring the fish because every wound on their body can be a attacked by an infection or a parasite. When you feed your pets or check the temperature avoid touching the water. The thermometer is used to check the temperature. There are different models, classic ones similar to the thermometer used on people, in the shape of a tape that is glued to the glass and so on. More precise ones are those that are immersed into water.

Regular doses of vitamin and mineral products are as important as the basic food you give them. When these small creatures lack vitamins, illnesses appear very fast and often can be fatal. Vitamin deficiency – the lack of vitamin develops when the fish diet is always the same and the food quality or amount is not adequate. One of the simplest ways of avoiding that is to always get a different kind of food from the specialized shops.

Even a very small amount of alcohol, lime, insecticide and other chemical substances in general can be fatal to the small inhabitants of the tank. When you paint your apartment or color your furniture be very careful. Cover the tank with glass or cotton linen and often check the amount of fumes in the air.

 

Dilemmas

  • Do fish sleep?

Yes. When you notice that they swim in one place with barely visible lateral fin movements – they sleep. During sleep breathing is slow and often a change of color is noticeable.

  • Do they recognize their owner?

They can see up to a 10 m distance and many aquarists claim that their pets recognize them.

  • What do the fish do in the absence of their owners?

All healthy and adult specimens can last more than 2 weeks without food. That forced starving even does them good because after that you will see them being faster and more vital. Plants from the tank will serve as an excellent “vegetarian diet” for some species.

 

First aquarium – equipment choice

One is certain: THE RIGHT START WILL SAVE YOU FROM MANY PROBLEMS LATER.

The right choice of equipment, tank dimensions, lighting position, filters and substrate plays a very important role. In smaller tanks, the fish feel crowded and a bigger one solves some beginner problems when gaining experience in keeping the microbiological balance of the water and the substrate. It’s also better to opt for the internal filter because it will surprise you with the unforeseen problems less often. Their only flaw is that they take up space in the fish tank. If you don’t want the fish to spawn and you live in an apartment with a steam heating system, you don’t need a heater (must be with a thermostat) in the beginning, especially if you opt for the lighting with regular light bulbs.

aquarium lightning

 

Microbiological balance

When you’ve done all of the above you can start “forming” the aquarium. It’s essential to fill the aquarium with “good” water. Get about twenty liters of “old” aquarium water from an experienced aquarist. The rest of the fish tank you can fill with tap water which was left to sit. The majority of fish and plants gladly welcomes the refreshment from the pipeline. Later when you decide to spawn certain fish, you need to take special care about the water chemism (water hardness, acidity and age), for others this can be stimulative. You shouldn’t be afraid of refreshing the tank with that kind of water (well water or rainwater) because in that way you control the hardness and neutral reaction.

Settling in

Another important problem is the choice of fish and plants. A smaller problem is to avoid a combative inhabitant or a moody plant. It’s more important to choose healthy and vital fish and plants. So pay better attention to the person you get the fish from than their color and shape. See how they act in the tank and what kind of attention do they get from their owner. Sick fish or fish infected with algae often cause problems, which discouraged many beginners after only a few months. Fish diseases and certain types of algae are hard to remove once they settle the aquarium. If you did everything carefully in the beginning, further maintenance of the tank will be a pleasure.

 

Don’t forget:

It’s better to dedicate 10 minutes to the tank every day and see potential changes than spend hours once a week or month trying to remedy something that is already in full swing.

After a few months, a highly developed aquarist eye will easily notice if something isn’t right with fish behavior or look of the plants judging by the clarity of the water.

 

How to arrange the tank?

Biological conditions required by water plants and animals which we wish to keep in the tank must be taken into consideration during arranging of the tank. Because of that we must know which type of fish and plant we will have in the tank in order to adjust the substrate, sand or gravel and biotope scenario the species come from. Tank arranging begins with placing the substrate and scenario to the bottom of the tank and then filling it with water.

When placing the substrate, we must be careful to keep it 5 cm high in the back and 1.5 cm high in the front. Depending on the size of the tank, we won’t place the substrate 5-10 cm behind the front glass because nothing is planted there. That space is intended for mud removal and feeding and the fish linger there the most. If you grew plants right next to the glass, then they would hide the tank view. The substrate must be 1 cm away from the edge of the tank because harmful algae would form there because of the lighting.

We put the well-washed gravel (sand) on the substrate. Gravel is rinsed in a larger container with a powerful water jet. Water needs to be replaced during rinsing for at least 20 up to 30 times (until it becomes clear, even after mixing the gravel/sand). If you take the gravel (sand) from the water in which the fish lived, you need to boil it for at least one hour. Gravel/sand needs to be dark and mustn’t contain a lot of soluble potassium.

The substrate is covered by the 2-3 cm wide gravel sand. Stones which you used for scenario need to be darker and without sharp edges. Dry roots are an ideal décor for every decorative tank. Tank arranging should go according to this order:

  1. substrate
  2. gravel (sand)
  3. scenario
  4. pouring water up to the middle
  5. placing the heater and the thermometer
  6. filling the tank to the rim
  7. planting

This is what you should know about aquarium lighting

One of the integral parts of every aquarium is the lighting. People who want to keep fish as pets have to know that it is important for them, as it is for humans to have day and night. And that is achieved with aquarium lighting.

Unlike before, nowadays aquaristics lovers have a wide range of aquarium lighting.

Neon lighting was used before but lately led lighting is more popular. There are tank owners who opt for neon lighting but that is a lot less common than 10-20 years ago. The data show that the use of neon lighting in aquarisics has dropped by 60 percent. Led lighting is more economical, flexible and diverse than the neon lighting

Led light bulbs consume less energy and have stronger lighting. Apart from that, led lighting can be regulated with a remote control and can be used for different lighting effects like sun rays. Furthermore, it is more practical than the neon tubes. First of all, it is flexible. When you install the neon tube, it can’t be moved. It has its own diameter and requires a bigger space. Led lighting, especially the neon strip, is extremely thin – only 4-5 millimeters. It doesn’t require a big hood. Led lighting looks nicer and you can move it. So, the aquarium owners can choose to light up only the front, the back or the middle of the tank.

aquarium lightning

It is really important to know what kind of lighting to use for every type of tank. Solid color lighting is mostly used for freshwater tanks. Warm or cold white is the most common.

On the other hand, sea aquaristics requires lamps with a wide range of colors. That is because of the organisms found in the water and certain types of live algae which settle and grow on the rocks. Due to the fact that there is a large selection of led lighting on the market, the light can have even three of four colors. They manufacture a combination of red, green, blue and white color. In fact, this is the so-called RGB lighting which uses a remote control to turn the light on and off and change the colors. Aquarists more often pick this type of lighting because it is really easy to point the remote at the aquarium and turn the light on, choose the color and the intensity of the lighting, or turn it off.

LED spot aquarium lighting

Recently, a powerful type of LED lighting appeared on the market in the shape of a plate. The plate has a diode that casts the light directly to one spot. It is called LED spot lighting. It is usually used for deeper aquariums because the light penetrates the water and it can illuminate even the bottom of the tank. In that way, the ground cover plants get more light to carry out photosynthesis.

When choosing the lighting, it is important to keep in mind what plants are in the tank and whether it contains plants at all. Ground cover plants require a stronger lighting so the light could penetrate to the bottom of the tank. For higher plants, the lighting doesn’t have to be very strong. If there is a combination of the two, it is important to put the ground cover plants to the front and then the higher ones go behind them. If you don’t have plants in the aquarium you should consider adding them. Read more about aquarium plants and why you should have them in your tank. The price of neon and LED lighting is similar and it is not the main reason people choose one or the other.

aquarium lightning

The aquarist should opt for certain fish families

As we said in the beginning, it is important for fish to have day and night. The best way to do this is to simulate the same length of day and night found in the place the fish originate from. For example, if in Africa it starts dawning at seven o’clock and gets dark at eight or nine o’clock, then the fish from Africa should have 10-11 or maximum 12 hours of daylight. Not more. More could lead to algae formation and algae is the enemy of the aquarium. This means that the aquarists should choose only certain fish families. However, that is not the case because many like to have a variety of fish in the tank. When they go to a shop, they buy fish from Lake Malawi in Africa, Amazon, even Columbia… All from extremely different time zones.

Many aquarium owners make a mistake to turn the lighting on when they get up and turn it off at 22 or 23 o’clock when they go to bed. But this is not a big mistake like not turning off the lighting at all. That is even more catastrophic. If the light isn’t turned off for 3 or 4 days, the fish can’t rest or sleep and they are awake all the time. Also, the plants don’t have night, just day. All this disrupts the balance and biotope in the tank.

The good thing is there are timers for the lighting. They can be digital or mechanical. The advantage of digital timers is that they have a battery memory which saves everything that was programmed about lighting. However, mechanical ones work automatically when they are plugged into an electrical socket. If there isn’t any power the timer settings will be reset.

How to choose the right aquarium filter?

If you want your aquarium to look like something you and others will enjoy, you have to supply it with the right filter. This is important because the filtration helps with aquarium maintenance. Filtration consists of several types of filter media (filter materials).

  1. Mechanical filter media are used to collect solid particles (larger debris) from the aquarium.
  2. Biological filter media are essential for the optimal natural balance, as well as, nitrates and nitrites level in the water.
  3. Chemical filter media are mainly used for water with a lower quality of chemical composition. Activated carbon and zeolite are usually used because of their effect on the chemical composition of water.

Activated carbon or zeolite are usually used in tanks that are using low-quality tap water. This way, the activated carbon removes chlorine and any other harmful element which can be found in the water inside the tank. Aquarium owners that have chemical filter media apart from mechanical and biological ones must know that the activated carbon needs to be taken out after 6 months at the latest. After that period the filter media can release everything that was absorbed back into the tank.

aquarium filters

Biological filter media for the aquarium

If a higher quality water is used, it’s sufficient to use a filter with only mechanical and biological filter media. These filters are most commonly used today. Biological filter media can be found in almost every shop. That includes bio sponges, ceramic rings, bio-balls…

Bio sponge is incredibly porous. It is made from a plastic mass that is really favorable for the formation of beneficial bacteria. Ceramic rings are microporous and even more favorable for beneficial bacteria. Bio-balls are the most popular media among aquarists. They are usually round, the size of a ping-pong or smaller, and of different structures.

Unlike activated carbon, biological media is not thrown out after 6 months. Namely, biological filters are easily cleaned by a light rinsing in the aquarium water. This is done during the regular change of one-third of the aquarium water, once in two weeks or one month depending on the size of the tank and the capacity of the filter material. The best way is to fill a plastic bin with aquarium water and rinse the biological filter in it. After that, the filter material is placed back into the filter. In case that the biological filter is washed with chlorinated tap water, beneficial bacteria can be removed because of the chlorine and temperature difference. In that case, the process of forming beneficial bacteria has to be repeated. It is important to establish a normal water flow for this mass.

Aquarium (Perlon) wool which absorbs the mechanical debris found in the filter is most commonly used for mechanical filtration.

Internal aquarium filters

Aquarium filters can be divided into internal and external.

An internal filter can have a power head. Beneath them, there is a container in which the filter material is placed. They are not very popular among aquarists because they spoil the look of the aquarium. However, there is a solution for that. There are aquarium wallpapers manufactured by Aquadecor that can hide the filters.

The second group of internal filters are made by partitioning the tank with glass. One part is separated with glass, which is also usually hidden by wallpapers. If there isn’t any wallpaper, the filter looks really unflattering. The mass which is placed inside the filter is much or less the same, which means that both mechanical and biological media and even chemical media can be placed there.

External aquarium filters

Filter canisters fall into the category of external aquarium filters. They are extremely popular because they can be controlled. These filters can be placed anywhere outside the aquarium, except above it in case the filter turns off or stops working. Then the water that is inside the filter can leak into the aquarium. However, that can be solved by placing a check valve. These filters are really strong and have a higher water flow rate. Better quality filter canisters are cleaned once every 6 months or once a year depending on the amount of fish in the tank, type of fish food, etc.

Although canister filtration is the most expensive way of filtration, it pays off. The problem is that these filters can’t be used for aquariums with a capacity of over 528 gallons of water. In these cases, one filter is not enough for bigger aquariums, you have to use more.

Sump filters are also very popular among aquarists. They are placed beneath the aquarium. Their functioning system is more complicated and it’s usually used in sea aquaristics.

aquarium filters

Speaking of aquarium filters, we should mention that there are glass filters that are placed beneath the aquarium. This type of filter is rarely used today. They are connected to the aquarium with a system of communicating vessels with different types of pipes. They are not reliable because they can cause an overflow of the tank or the filter when the filter mass gets really dirty. That is the reason why filter canisters that are hermetically sealed or the ones inside the tank are more popular. There can’t be any overflow.

Aquarium automation

Aquarium automation

Keeping fish as pets is much less demanding than taking care of other animals. Apart from the daily feeding, the biggest obligation is to replace the water inside the tank. According to the rule, a third of the water is replaced every 10 to 15 days. This is done because of the harmful nitrates. They are not visible to the naked eye but they are really disturbing the fish.

Nowadays, thanks to aquarium automation this task is done easily. The water can be replaced at once every 10 to 15 days or little by little every day. It should be noted that automation systems for water replacement can be simpler or much more complicated.

It is possible to replace the water by using a pipe system. This is done by piercing two holes at the bottom of the tank through which the wastewater is transported to the sewer or another container. At the same time a pipe is placed above, at the water level. The pipe helps you limit the amount of water that enters the tank, using the drop by drop system. It’s very important to take care of every detail but most of all the daily amount of water added to the tank.

What that does that imply? It implies that if we have a 66-gallon tank, we should replace 22 gallons of water every 10 to 15 days. In case you opt for the daily water replacement, then you should add 1.5 to 2.1 gallons of water a day, depending on whether you are replacing it every 10 or 15 days.

Water replacement in the tank can be done without automation by taking it out with a regular hose and adding the same amount of fresh water.

 

Complete automation of the tank involves automated water replacement and switching the lights and feeders on

For smaller aquariums, tap water can be used as a replacement because that amount of water doesn’t contain a lot of chlorine that could disturb the fish. Also, the water can be left to rest for 24 hours. Different products can be added into the water to neutralize the chlorine and heavy metals.

Aquarium automation

Switches that control the water level can be inserted into the tank. If a filter adds too much water or a pipe is clogged, the so-called PLC system recognizes the excess of water and starts the switch to clear out the excess. The same applies if the water level drops i.e. if it evaporates from the tank. Then the PLC system gives a signal to the solenoid valve to add more water into the aquarium.

In case the water replacement is done automatically, it should be pointed out that the existing PLC system can control the lighting, heaters, motor pumps, feeders… Aquadecor has all that in its assortment and everything is operable.

People who keep aquariums in office spaces, public places like hospitals, shopping malls or restaurants usually opt for a complete automation… The tank is there to make that space more beautiful and attract the attention of visitors. And the best way for attracting even more attention is to make the fish tank look realistic, and for that people usually chose  3D aquarium backgrounds to decorate their aquariums.

There is no one who can look after the tank and that is why the human factor is often not included in the maintenance. On the other hand, hobbyists really like taking care of the aquarium and everything that comes with it, so they don’t opt for a complete automation. However, sometimes it happens that people get bored with these chores and they quit aquaristics.

Prices of aquarium automation systems

When it comes to prices, the simplest aquarium automation for water replacement doesn’t raise the price of the tank. The average cost is 250-300 euros. Still, when a complete automation is being done, having the absolute control of everything in the aquarium can be costly. Even over 1,000 – 1,500 euros.

 

How to choose an aquarium heater and when to use automatic feeders?

Whether you will equip your tank with an aquarium heater, depends on the type of fish you have. There are those that like really warm water and live in it and there are those which are more comfortable in lower temperatures. According to the rule you shouldn’t mix these two kinds of fish in the tank because it is impossible to find an average temperature that is suitable for everyone.

Heaters have to be placed in accordance with the volume of the tank. The aquarium heater strength is determined by watts. There are heaters from 50 to 300 watts. All of them usually have an automatic thermostat installed. This means that if the heater is programmed to reach 25 degrees, it will turn off the moment it goes higher than that temperature. Also, the moment the water temperature falls below 25 degrees, the heater will turn on to heat the water.

aquarium heater in an aquarium with fishes

It is very important where the aquarium is placed. Whether it is in a room with a stable 24-hour temperature or it varies during the day. Water temperature is usually several degrees lower than the room temperature where the aquarium is kept. This means that the heaters will turn on during the night as soon as the temperature drops when the heating is turned off in the room.

It is best to put a 100 watts heater in 26-gallon aquariums. And so on – 53 gallon aquariums need a 200 watts heater, 79-gallon ones need a 300 watts heater… In case the tanks are bigger, multiple heaters are combined. For example, in a 158-gallon tank, you can put three heaters with 200 watts or two with 300…

Heaters can be kept inside the tank during the summer, because they won’t turn on if the temperature doesn’t go below the programmed one.

The biggest problem with aquarium heaters can be the calcium build-up

The problem with heaters happens when the water is hard, which is the case in our country. Although the aquarium heater often works, some calcium build-up may appear after some time. If no ones pay attention to the water level in the tank and the heater is above that level, calcium build-up will appear on the heater. The more build-up there is on the heater, the less its functionality will be. However, it should be noted that the build-up is easily cleaned by using hydrochloric acid. It is important to wash the heater well after cleansing it with the acid and it will be as good as new.

When talking about the price, we have to admit that heaters are not really expensive. That was the true before but today we have a lot of goods coming from China. Despite the fact it is coming from China it doesn’t mean it is bad. There are Chinese goods that proved to be very good. That is why there is no room for prejudice. Everything that has to do with water needs to pass a certain quality control and have a certificate.

Fish feeders

Aquariums can have fish feeders as additional equipment. This is a very simple mechanism that starts with the help of an electric motor and a time relay inside the feeder. They are programmed when to dispense the food into the tank. There are feeders that can be programmed to work for a whole week. The only thing that can’t be programmed is the amount of food dispensed into the tank. That is done using a feeder opening that is adjusted manually.

aquarium feeder in a fish tank

In my opinion aquaristics loses its appeal when you use a feeder. Every real aquaristics lover likes to feed the fish on their own and watch them eat. 

Fish Feeders are usually used when people leave their home for some time. For example, when they go on holiday or a business trip. It is very important then to test the feeders to determine an optimal amount of food that will be dispensed. As we said, that has to be adjusted manually. In case too much food is dispensed into the tank, there is a possibility that the water gets really dirty and the level of nitrates and other harmful compounds rises drastically which can lead to fish dying. If want to take it to next level and make your own fish food, we have a useful article for you. Find out what you need for making your own fish food.

If we wanted to give advice to aquarists it would sound like this “It is better to opt for “non-feeding” the fish for a period of 3-4 days than use a bad feeder that can “overfeed” the fish. This means that you should be careful when choosing a feeder.