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Bioballs: The basics


To put it simply – bio balls are a filtration media that allow all the good bacteria you need in order for a fish tank to live – a place to live. They’re designed so that they create as much surface area (thus why they have so many grooves) as possible so bacteria can find plenty of places to cling to, live and thrive. This makes them far more useful than simple spherical balls.

The added benefit of course – is that they help keep PH balances neutral for longer times – and that allows for the consumption of poisonous ions. Long story, short – if you need a really efficient way to dramatically improve the water quality in your tank – bio balls might be your best bet. 

How many do you need?

The number you need largely depends on the size of your tank, the size of your external filter canister and even your sump pump. If you’ve got a sump pump, use as many as you’d like. These won’t harm your tank so long as you do a good job of caring for them. The general rule of thumb to most is 2 gallons of bio balls for every 100 gallons of water. Stay in that range and you should be fine. 

How do I use them?

Bio balls are not necessarily FILTERS in a traditional sense. They exist to HOLD beneficial bacteria in your tank. They are not however- there to remove wastewater from your system. Most recommend that you use bio balls after the water flows through filter foam. The filter foam will catch waste, ensuring that your bio balls don’t end up clogged with waste. Don’t use them before they hit the foam as waste build up can adversely impact your tank. 

Cleaning bio balls

We recommend that people rinse their bio balls in the actual fish tank water itself. This helps to protect the beneficial bacteria that’s built up over time in your tank. If you wash them in outside water, you run the risk of killing off that bacteria, which can have negative effects on your tank. Cleaning your bio balls should be done any time you do a water change over or tank cleaning. Simply rinse the bio balls, don’t scrub them as scrubbing can also be a good way to kill all that beneficial bacteria that’s built up on the bio balls.

Hopefully – you found today’s blog helpful! If you’re looking to purchase bio balls for your tank, give us a call today and we can help give you a free consultation on the ABC’s of what you need to know. Until then – good luck!

Saltwater aquariums: what to consider


Saltwater tanks are gorgeous. There’s simply no denying it. That being said, maintaining them can get expensive and if you don’t do the right kind of planning up front – it can get really, really expensive.

Today, we’re going to share some tricks you can use to save some money and not get caught out too far over your skis when it comes to a saltwater aquarium. Let’s jump right in. 

What goes into the cost

How expensive a saltwater tank will get is going to depend on a variety of factors, of which are not limited to the size of your tank, the creatures inside, equipment and the like. The bigger the tank, the more expensive it’s going to get. 

Also the other thing to remember is that saltwater tanks require certain equipment that freshwater tanks do not. Things like heaters, a special lighting and filtration system and the like. Yes, you can purchase low-cost equipment but keep in mind – it likely won’t last as long. These are all things you’re going to have to factor in before deciding to take the plunge. 

Choosing the right tank

Now that you know the factors that’ll influence the cost of your aquarium, you’ll need to learn about how to make your tank more affordable. Now this part involves a little push-pull. While larger tank sizes might be more expensive, they’re also far easier to maintain, which might sound crazy at first. It’s really a lifestyle decision. Do you want something cheaper that takes up more of your time, or something that’s more expensive and allows for more time for enjoyment? It’s really up to you. 

20 and 30-gallon tanks are fairly affordable, but as you hit 50 gallon sand up, the price can creep higher and higher. If you want to purchase a larger tank we definitely recommend purchasing an all-in-one tank kit that’ll give you everything you are going to need. It’ll cost a little bit more up front, but might end up saving you some money from having to purchase everything separately. 

Whatever you decide, don’t just settle for the price in front of you. Shop around to find yourself the best possible deal. 

What goes into the tank

Just like we said above – shop around and find good deals. We do however, recommend that you start with commercially bred fish. Anything that comes directly from the wild will cost significantly more. The size of your tank will also dictate which kinds of fish you’ll be able to purchase so be sure that any species you’ve got interest in – that you’re doing your research as to whether they can live in the environment you’ve created. 

Also, the one wild card with saltwater tanks is that you’ll have the option of potentially adding corals to your tank. Live rock is more expensive and will require more maintenance. They require high-intensity lighting and might have specific demands in terms of the overall water chemistry you have – chemistry that might limit which kinds of fish you can have with the corals. Again – we’re talking more push-pull, here – but something to keep in mind. 

Look, at the end of the day, owning a saltwater aquarium is a real achievement. The end product is certainly well worth the time and effort. But with some better planning, you won’t have to worry about obliterating your budget. Good luck!

Getting ahead of aquarium maintenance


For all of you who are brand new aquarium enthusiasts, maintaining your tank will likely be your biggest challenge – at least in the first year or so of owning a tank. Finding the time, knowing what to do and investing in it can be a little overwhelming at first – even for simple setups. 

So today, we’ve put together a blog to share some tips on some things you can do to keep your tank healthy. This’ll help save time and give you some direction. Let’s jump right in!

Properly conditioning your water

Nothing has a bigger impact on both the cleanliness of your tank and the health of your fish like properly conditioned water. Tap water is safe for drinking, but it also contains a lot of minerals in it that need to be balanced out. If you don’t – it won’t be able to support the overall health of your fish or keep a clean, attractive looking tank. 

Talk to your local fish or pet pros and ask them exactly what you’ll need to maintain a healthy environment for the fish you have. This will likely begin and end with the tanks’ pH balance and other chemical levels. While there are important nuances to understand and know – your general guidelines are this: Freshwater fish usually thrive in aquariums with pH levels around 6.6 and 6.8. Saltwater fish like higher levels – closer to 7.6 and 8.4 depending on the composition of your tank. 

There are other things you’ll need to consider – including the correct levels of nitrate, nitrite and ammonia – but these all depend on the overall outlays of your tank and what’s in there. Again – ask your pet pros. 

Choosing the right size tank

There’s a little bit of a balance here. Overcrowding a tank is bad, but so is leaving one, single, solitary fish in a wide open space. Overcrowding leads to low oxygen levels, excessive waste and can even lead to fish fatalities. Bigger tanks just means more for you to clean. Be sure to speak with your pet pros about the right size tank for your fish. 

Don’t overfeed

Overfeeding your fish leads to a wide range of problems, both in terms of the health of your fish and the overall health of the tank. The issues from an aesthetic perspective are obvious: the more you feed the fish, the more debris and waste ends up in the tank. It can mean algae growth and a faster-than-normal degradation of water quality and oxygen. Remember this: fish don’t need a ton of food to survive. Make sure you maintain a consistent schedule and provide an appropriate amount of food. 

Keep an eye on the temperature

Fish tanks should have water temperature that’s consistent. For freshwater fish you want to be anywhere from 72-82 degrees fahrenheit. For saltwater fish – they’ll do best 75-80. Temperature levels depend on the species you have so first off – make sure your fish are compatible with each other and second, make sure you’re maintaining temperature. 

Also avoid sunny areas as well. Not only can this heat up the water – but plants and other things can grow too quickly and knock your tank’s environment off it’s axis a bit. Also be mindful of the opposite as well. The back of the closet is no place for an aquarium either!

Hopefully you found today’s tips helpful. If you have any questions on how to run your tank’s environment, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Until then – good luck!

A few aquarium maintenance hacks


Owning and cultivating a new aquarium is an incredibly rewarding experience, but sometimes the day-to-day can be a little taxing. Things like maintenance, cleaning the tank – all of it – it takes time; time that many of us would like to spend doing other things. And much like all aspects of our lives – we need to get creative in terms of how we carve that time out and spend less time on those grindey activities.

As such, today’s post is going to be all about some fish tank hacks – cool ways you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle when maintaining an aquarium. Let’s jump right in!

Clamps

One of the best possible investments you can make is a couple of bucks into a class-safe clamp for your tank. You can use the clamp to hold hose or tubing security and it can help with a variety of things – whether that’s running tubing into a filtration system or changing out the water. This will free both your hands up to help coordinate whatever else needs to be happening. 

The infamous credit card scraper

There’s lots of ways you can scrape algae from your tank. Some folks use razor blades, magnetic scrapers and even scrub brushes. Did you know you can use old gift cards or credit cards? Not only will they do a great job of removing algae, but they’re particularly useful when it comes to finding the corners and crevices of your tank and getting to that hard-to-reach algae. 

Bio media

While hang-on-back filters are a popular choice among tank users, they don’t usually include any kind of specific biomedia. One of the things you can do, here – is to remove the traditional filter materials from the back and just replace it with ceramic rinks, lava rocks or even miniature bioballs. Not only will this improve your filtration, it’ll also create a far more healthy environment for your fish as well. 

Plastic syringes for water testing

Especially when you own a saltwater aquarium, water testing can become a way of life. Unfortunately – many of the testing kits come with test tubes that are easy to lose and in some cases – are extremely breakable. Just head over to Amazon and buy some plastic syringes. They’re clear and won’t discolor when you test water. They’re neater and cleaner. And even better? They’ll help extract enough water to do the tests you need them to. Yes, you’ll have to clean them thoroughly after the fact, but they are a super neat, full-proof way to test your fish tank’s water quality. 

Hopefully you found today’s blog helpful! Perhaps one of the hacks here will make your tank ownership a little bit easier. If you need help or advice on how to keep your tank healthy and clean, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help. Until then – good luck!

Four plants every aquarium owner should consider


Buying live plants for your tank can be a pretty overwhelming process. There’s so many options out there and each one comes with its own care requirements and difficulty of care requirements. 

So this month, we decided to boil it down to a few plants you should consider for your tank that are reasonable to care for, won’t break the bank and will make your tank look incredible. Hopefully, you can use this blog to break up some of that choice paralysis you’ve got going on right now. Let’s jump right in!

Dwarf sagittaria

Dwarf sagittaria is a grass-like aquarium plant that can grow between 3 and 18 inches long depending on the lighting. Even if you buy only one plant, it reproduces quickly and will really only need a nutrient-rich planted tank substrate to grow and thrive. They grow slowly and will give you a radiant green color while also providing some cover for your fish. 

Dwarf aquarium lily

Dwarf aquarium lilies are high up the list of ‘super easy to care for’ while simultaneously looking gorgeous. They grow out of bulbs and they grow spectacular red leaves and lily pads. They’re a dynamic plant, too – meaning they thrive in a variety of conditions and can serve as either the centerpiece of your tank – or be used as background filler to cover up the back of your tank. 

Cryptocoryne wendtii

This plant goes by ‘crypt’ for short – but aside from the cool name, it’s a hot seller and with good reason. For starters it doesn’t need much light to grow – and second – when it does grow, it grows slowly and requires very little pruning. It’s crinkly, contained exterior makes it a versatile plant as it blossoms in a variety of colors – from reddish brown and green to even pink. If you’re looking for a jack-of-all-trades plant that you won’t have to worry about – Crypt is for you.

Octopus plants

Octopus plants get their names from the long, wiggling leaves that grow from its stem. While they usually present in a spring-green color, they often can produce a stunning purple hue when they’re in areas with higher levels of lighting. They do tend to grow quickly – meaning you’ll have to prune them a good amount, however because they grow so tall so quick – they can make an ideal background plant to have in your tank.

Hopefully today’s blog gave you a little inspiration as to some plants you can contribute to your aquarium. There’s lot of decisions to make with regards to your aquarium – from what fish you want to the bulkhead fittings you can use – but this one shouldn’t be as difficult a choice. If you need any help with your tank, feel free to give us a call – good luck!

Finding the right filtration media


Aquariums come in a variety of shapes and sizes and it should come as no surprise to you that people like to have the ability to customize the filtration that best meets their needs. Hang-on-back filters can be modified by changing the kind of filtration media within it, which can help you get the results you need. 

Today, we’re going to talk about a few of the different kinds of filtration media you should use, with the hope that the decision as to which one you should use comes into a little bit clearer focus. 

Mechanical filter media

Mechanical filter media is a category of filtration media that consists of sponges, foam pads and filter floss that help strain out debris from the water. In a way, think of them a little bit like a coffee filter. One of their advantages is that much of the debris will get caught up in their pores and can be rung out in old water and reused again. They don’t clog up quickly so you won’t have to worry about constantly cleaning them.

The other big advantage of this kind of filtration media is that you can buy plenty of it and cut it down to a size that meets your needs. It provides a whole range of flexible options to choose from. 

Biological filtration media

Hey, bio balls! We know those! Bio balls and other biological filtration media essentially help grow beneficial bacteria on their coarse, intricately patterned surfaces, basically serving as a home for bacteria that will help clean your tank. 

Even better, the shape of this kind of media will allow water to flow freely through them and bring more oxygen to the bacteria. You will need to clean them however, as gunk tends to build up over time. We also don’t recommend that you leave the media loose – buy a filtration media bag to keep them all in one place. 

Chemical filter media

Chemicals pretty much do exactly what you’d think they’d do – which is remove pollutants and certain chemicals from the water. Carbon is used frequently to deal with things like medications, tannins and other impurities. They come in loose granules that’ll need to be kept in a bag. We’ve always preferred to use carbon-infused media pads because they’re easier to handle and like mechanical filtration media, can be cut down to size to best meet your needs. 

The only word of caution is that chemical filter media often has specific uses, so be sure of what problem you’re looking to solve when you purchase them. 

Hopefully you found today’s blog helpful. If you’d like to learn more about what kind of filtration media might be best for you – give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Until then – good luck! 

 

New Year’s Resolutions for your aquarium


New years mean new opportunities and a chance at a new beginning. Maybe you’re looking to lose weight, perhaps you’re looking to get a promotion, manage your money better, who knows! 

For our fish-o-philes out there, we’ve put together a nice, neat list of new year’s resolutions you can put to work in your own tank to make this coming year the most rewarding one yet as an aquarium owner. Let’s jump right in!

Get more involved

Its easy to make New Year’s Resolutions, but it’s another thing to follow through with them. To avoid that, make it a general rule to become more involved with your aquarium. The more you invest in your personal hobbies, the more it will pay off in your personal life as well. 

Clean up your tank

We’re not just talking bio balls and filtration media, here – we’re talking about the space in and around your tank. How much of a mess is your aquarium? Do you have entire bird nests of wires behind it? Now’s the time to get a little bit more organized. Velcro cable wraps are cheap and easy to use and can save you lots of frustration when it’s time to do some maintenance on your aquarium.

Move into the 21st century

We’re in a digital world these days and the fish and aquarium business is no exception to that rule. Modern aquarium controllers offer a whole range of amazing features for a pretty reasonable price. You can manage feeding, maintenance, pumps, usage, temperature and pH – a whole swath of things. You can even manage your aquarium from your phone. If you haven’t invested in an aquarium controller – we highly recommend you do!

Take your vitamins

Aquariums are what we call ‘closed systems.’ That means that there’s nothing in there that you don’t put in there. With that in mind, it’s on you to make sure you’re providing your fish friends with everything they need to survive and thrive. It takes literal seconds to add an extra supplement. And that miniscule time investment can add up to major health benefits for your aquarium down the line. 

Get smarter

Blogs like this are great – as is the internet as a whole, but while there’s lots of great information on this world wide web thing, there’s also a lot of disinformation and junk. One of the best commitments you can make to your hobby is to educate yourself by reading more – and specifically reading books. You might not always get the new cutting edge scoop, but you will build a solid knowledge base that will help you be able to better synthesize what you find online. Learning from the experts is a good thing and will equip you to differentiate between pros and posers in forums. 

Hopefully you found some of these resolutions helpful. If you have any questions about your aquarium or bulkhead fittings, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help. Until then Happy New Year and good luck!

Prepping your fish tank for your holiday trip


We often associate going away for the holidays as a more relaxing period in our annual calendar – a time to step away from life’s cares and enjoy our families and the things that mean the most. But when it comes to our pets – things can get a little complicated. If you’ve got a cat or a dog – there’s plenty of options and places for them to stay. 

But what about your fish? And let’s be honest, fish-o-philes – if you’re anything like us, your aquarium is a precisely engineered mix of technology, aquarium bulkhead fittings, science, and intuition that keeps the habitat enjoyable for your fish and your tank looking incredible. Who on Earth could you trust with such a monumental task? We know, we’re having a chuckle here – but honestly, what do you do?

The common solution is to trust a friend. They come over, hopefully they know what they’re doing and everyone comes out better for it. In a recent survey though – most people were nervous to take care of a friend’s aquarium – far more so than they were a dog or cat – which is kind of wild when you think about it. 

They know that fish cost a pretty penny. They see the wild bulkhead fittings, the pumps, the ceramics, the plants and worry that if they make one wrong move – that they could mess a whole bunch of things up. So what do you do? How do you best prepare someone to take care of your tank when it absolutely terrifies them?

The first thing you can do is prepare as always. A week prior to your trip, invite your friend over and go through an inspection of your own. Check the fish, the hardware and aquarium bulkhead fittings for leaks. This way, they’re seeing you – the owner of the tank checking things out in front of them – letting them know and letting them see that everything’s good to go. Whatever you can do, put their mind at ease. Change the filtration media, change the bulb on the tank – whatever maintenance needs to actually be done – do it in front of them. Make a show of it – it sounds silly but it’ll put their minds at ease and give them some self-assurance that they’re not going to wreck anything. 

When they go home, it’s definitely time to do some actual work of your own – doing things like checking water levels, chemical composition and the like. This is stuff that should be done anyway and you’ll help give your fish the best chance of being ok while you’re gone.

The last thing – is to make instructions and make them easy to follow. Feed fish at this time. Food can be found here. Only use this much. In the event that X happens, call X – here is their contact. Just spell it out, act it out, reassure, but also make sure you do the behind the scenes to make it all work. Do that – and you’ll enjoy a stress free time away. 

If you’d like to learn more about some of the ways you can add to your aquarium or outfit it with aquarium bulkhead fittings, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Until then, good luck! Happy holidays!

Practical advice when starting up your first aquarium


Owning an aquarium is a fun and rewarding hobby, but for many – it’s hard for them to know where to start. Owning fish is not a ‘set it and forget it’ proposition – just like any other pet, they’re going to need plenty of care. As such, today we’re going to get back to the basics, so to speak and talk a little bit with you beginner/blossoming soon-to-be aquarium buffs out there – who are just seeking a little practical advice on how to take care of your tank. 

Here are a few beginner’s tips to help give your fish the best possible living conditions without any real, meaningful heavy lifting. Let’s jump right in!

Feeding your fish

In nature, fish spend the majority of their day either eating something or trying to avoid being eaten by something else. And like humans – their diets can really run the full spectrum. Some eat meat, some eat just plants and others will eat just about anything. Predatory fish are usually less frequent eaters while plant eaters casually graze throughout the day. 

Most aquarium fish eat once or twice daily – but you shouldn’t give them more than what can be consumed in about 2 minutes or so. Fish normally find food whether it’s on the surface, mid-water or at the bottom but presenting in a way that’s helpful is always, well… a help. And be mindful of just how much you’re throwing in there. Lots of food also means lots of waste – which depending on the fish, population size and overall size of your tank – can make for a dirty tank pretty quickly. 

Whichever your option is – make sure you’re doing your due diligence when it comes to figuring out what to feed your fish.

Water changes

We recommend changing 25% of your water every 2-4 weeks – at least in terms of owning an average size tank with an average size population. For solo ‘artists’ – you can go longer between changes. For heavy traffic/population tanks – significantly more. It all depends. 

Tap water is usually high in pH or alkalinity and on its own – is unsuitable for aquarium use. So be sure you’re buying the proper chemicals to help balance out the water before placing your fish in it. You can almost always pick this stuff up at a local pet store – just ask a worker at the store. 

Transporting your fish 

Moving fish from one place to another – for the fish – can be a pretty traumatic experience, especially if you more or less mess up the process. Make sure your water is balanced and you head home directly after purchasing your fish. Allow them to gradually acclimatize to the conditions in the tank by giving them a solid few hours or so in the bag in the tank. Don’t just dump them in there. Also – be sure to remove the fish from the bag before you place them in the water. Give it a little while, let them get used to their surroundings then perhaps the next day – you can turn on the aquarium light.

Just like you would react to a new setting, walk your fish into it. Don’t go banana boats right off the bat. 

Hopefully these tips give you a nice place to start once you get your fish home. Feeding them, cleaning them and acclimatizing them are more or less the 3 pillars to getting started, so this should put you in a good place. If you have questions or would like advice on how to get off to the best possible start with your aquarium – don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Good luck!

All about bio balls


Bio balls are widely considered to be some of the best filtration media you can buy for your tank. Today we’re going to get back to basics and give you the once-over on what bio balls are and why they’re such a useful form of filtration media for your aquarium. Let’s jump right in!

What do they do?

In the simplest possible terms – bio balls give nitrifying bacteria a place to live in your tank. Bio balls are designed to have as much surface area as possible so bacteria has a place to cling to. They’ll help maintain your tank’s PH balance for a lengthy period of time and also help dissolve poisonous ions. All in all – they’re a great way to improve the quality of your tank’s water. 

How many bio balls do I need?

It really depends on the size of your tank and the bio balls that you purchase – but the general rule of thumb is about 2.2 gallons of bio balls for every 100 gallons of water. Of course there are other factors to take into consideration as well – including the size of your external filter and sump pump. But what makes them really great is you don’t have to constantly buy new or replacement bio balls. The ones you buy can be used over and over again. 

How do I use them?

Bio balls are easy to use. We recommend placing them in the steam of water running through your fish tank’s filter. Remember bio balls are not filters in and of themselves – we don’t want them collecting undue waste and losing surface area – but what we do want them to do is catch ome pieces of algae and any bacteria coming through the stream. We recommend putting them in a mesh bag so you keep organic matter out and help to provide a place where healthy bacteria will grow and thrive. 

Is there any significant downside?

To be honest, not really! One thing we will say is that people do mistake their purpose and expect them to perform feats they’re not meant to perform. They don’t exist to remove waste from the water and filter out organic material. They’re there to maintain bacteria and help maintain balance in the tank itself. 

When used correctly, bio balls are the best form of biological filtration out on the market. They’re affordable, effective and even easier to use and maintain. If you’re interested in how bio balls can make a difference in your tank, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help. Good luck!




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