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Why people use bio balls


There’s a lot to sift through when it comes to choosing the best filtration media for your fish tank and lots of way to skin the proverbial cat. However, bio balls have become an extremely popular with tank owners as a way to maintain a healthy aquarium.

The reasons for this are pretty straight forward: there’s nothing complicated about them, they’re affordable and they’re easy to maintain. Today – we’re going to talk about the biggest benefits of using bio balls as your preferred form of filtration media and how they can benefit your tank. Let’s jump right in!

Easy to clean

The thing about bio balls is they never go bad. You don’t have to throw them away, you can reuse them and cleaning them is a breeze. A simple rinse and your media will be good to go again. NOW – there’s a caveat – we don’t want them to ever be TOO CLEAN – many of the bacteria they generate is a net positive for your tank. But you won’t have to worry about racing through packages of filters, changing them out and the like heading forward.

They’re workhorses

Regardless of what kind of tank you have or how big it is – you’re going to generate some bacteria. Some of it is bad for your tank and you’ll need to make sure it’s cleaned. There are other kinds of bacteria that are GOOD for your tank. Bio Balls allows for the growth of a lot of positive kinds of bacteria and their open-ended design actually ends up resulting in a much larger surface area for said bacteria to inhabit. That means a filter that takes up less space, but provides more of it while simultaneously helping you to maintain a healthy environment for your fish.

Ease of use

This one’s going to be short. You can either toss bio balls right into your tank if you’d like. Or – if you’re extremely daring or have an appetite for the exceedingly complex – you can put them in a bag and THEN put them in the tank. That’s literally all you’ve gotta do. That simple.

Is there a downside?

Honestly – if there is one – it’s not very significant. And that usually has to do more with people confusing what their actual purpose is. They’re there for biological filtration only. They provide a home for bacteria. They’re NOT there to remove waste from the water. Bio balls maintain chemical balance – but they’re not there to do absolutely everything. No filtration media does.

But when used effectively – bio balls are a great tool that provide an outstanding benefit to your fish tank. If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to give us a call today and we can walk you through it. Until then -good luck!

The three best fish for beginners


A lot of owning a fish tank for the first time isn’t so much having an idea of what you want the end product to be, but rather where you actually start. It’s not always as straightforward as it looks and once you get through the tough stuff like choosing filtration media, setting up the tank and the like – you then need to settle in and decide which fish you want to inhabit said aquarium.

We have three types of fish we think are best for beginners. They’re relatively low maintenance, they look cool and they mostly play well with others. Keep in mind – certain fish can be a really heavy lift up front for newbies so we really do recommend you start here and then consider adding on later. Let’s jump right in!

Neon tetras

Neon tetras are small fish – but oh boy do they bring some big time pop and color to your tank. They’re easy to take care of as well. All you’ll need is ample space and flake fish food and they’re a pretty happy bunch. They do like to roam around in schools, so don’t purchase one – get them a couple of buddies so they’ve got some companions to keep them company. And don’t worry about the cost – these fish are very cheap. You’ll also get a really great value, too. If you take care of them, they can live up to 10 years old. 

Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barbs might take a little while to settle into their new environment at first – but once they’re settled in, they’re a spectacular first fish to own. They can tolerate a variety of environments and are super adaptable when it comes to water temperature. Best of all – they tend to play very well with others, so if you’re looking for a community founder of sorts, Cherry Barbs take particular joy in being the major. 

For the best results, make sure they have some live plants and a few hiding spaces. Just like neon tetras, we definitely recommend you purchase a school of five. These fish are very easily stimulated and enjoy being entertained by well – each other. 

Corydoras

Corydoras are great scavengers and in a way – nice to have as your community’s cleaning service. They primarily thrive off of food at the bottom of the tank, so they’ll help clean up a lot of debris and other undesirable stuff. They also play very well with other fish and though they’re more laid back than tetras or cherry barbs, mostly go along with the flow when it comes to others. The biggest thing you’ll want to make sure you have though – is a more smooth substrate at the bottom of the tank. While it’s not super necessary, it’s better for their health and will prevent them from scratching their fins. 

Hopefully today’s blog gave you a little inspiration as to where to start when it comes to choosing the first fish for your tank. If you have any questions or would like some advice, always feel free to give us a call. Until then, thanks for reading and good luck with your new fish tank!

Caring for fish when you’re on vacation


Before you know it, it’ll be holiday season and chances are if you’re like 70% of Americans – you’ll likely be on the move to celebrate them. But just like everyone else – you’ll probably be wondering or grappling with what to do with your pets.

And for the sake of our blog today – what do you do with your fish?

Thankfully, aquarium fish are easier to care for because they don’t need walks, don’t need to be let outside to go to the bathroom and you really don’t need to even feed them every day. But just because they’re lower maintenance doesn’t mean you won’t or shouldn’t be concerned!

Today, we’re going to share a few tips that’ll help bring your anxiety levels down a notch. Let’s jump right in!

What to do before you leave

Give your tank a good cleaning before you head out for the holidays. Do a water change, vacuum the tank and clean out the filter. We’d recommend doing this a few days before you leave that way you can rest assured that everything is in good work order before you leave. This way you know your fish will be kicking back in a clean environment while you’re away.

Feeding

There’s a few ways you can tackle this. For one, if you’re not leaving for a long time- like say a three day weekend – you don’t really have to feed your fish. Most are equipped to go several days between feedings depending on the species. As always, check what their requirements are. 

On the other hand, if you feel guilty or have a species that does require increased feedings, consider adding an auto feeder that’ll release food into the tank at a specific time every day or every other day. This solution however, will cost you a little money. 

Pet sitters

The last thing you can always do is either hire a pet sitter or someone to stand in as one. This can be a friend or even a neighbor. This person can stop by every day and feed and/or checkup on your fish. You can leave food behind with instructions and labels and rest assured that someone trusted is keeping an eye on your pet. 

Hopefully, one of these methods can help you relax a little more and rest assured knowing that your fish are in good hands. Enjoy the coming holiday seasons and as always – if you have questions give our team a call today! Good luck!

What you need to think about before buying an aquarium


Taking care of a fish might not seem to be a big deal to some, but if you’re someone who’s considering purchasing a fish – there are some things we’d like for you to think about first. 

Owning a fish means being responsible for a life and people are often surprised to learn that fish require more maintenance than people originally think. As is the case with any pet – the decision deserves thought, time and care. 

Here are some practical tips for you to consider. Let’s jump right in.

Understanding the responsibility of owning a pet

Animals – no matter how big or how small – are completely dependent upon you to provide them with food, a clean environment and care for their health. Owning a pet is a serious commitment and neglecting the pet due to your own lack of awareness isn’t acceptable. Make sure you have the time and the resources to commit to pet ownership first!

What kind of breed will you be buying?

Fish come in all shapes, sizes and yes – even a variety of temperaments. THey also have a range of needs – some need warmer temperatures, there are saltwater fish, freshwater fish, some are aggressive, some are loners and others need friends. Think about things like the size of your home, time and resources that you have and whether or not your tank is going to be large enough to house that particular breed. 

Educating yourself on common care problems

Whenever you own any pet we recommend that you speak to professionals and other fish owners to learn as much as you can before taking the plunge. Find out what common mistakes there are, find out what ailments are most common with fish, ask about the kinds of chemicals and food you’ll need, etc. Become a sponge. Knowledge is power here and essentially in order to maintain a healthy, happy fish. 

We hope you found today’s blog helpful. Owning a fish is a commitment – so make sure you have your T’s crossed and your I’s dotted before giving yourself the green light. If you have any questions  or are looking for more guidance, feel free to give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you out. Until then – good luck!

Why live plants are so good for your aquarium


If you talk to most aquarium aficionados about some of the most beneficial things to add to your tank – you’ll quickly find that many of them will point you in the direction of live plants. And there are a ton of reasons for that outside of their sheer aesthetic appeal. 

Today, we’re going to talk about a few of the benefits that live aquarium plants can have for your fish tank and how you can use them to build a thriving environment for your fish. Let’s jump right in!

Natural filtration

Much like trees do above water, underwater plants act as a natural filtration system for their environment. They’ll help to remove potentially toxic waste like nitrates and waste. They’ll also help keep your tank looking cleaner than usual, not just by boasting their vibrant, green colors, but by reducing the amount of algae in your tank. 

Oxygenating your water

Photosynthesis is an incredible process and live plants will release oxygen into the water while also consuming the carbon dioxide that fish produce. Properly oxygenated water brings a variety of health benefits to your community of fish and is yet another benefit of live plants in your tank. 

A better habitat for your fish

Tanks with live plants look more natural. Your fish will also ACT more naturally as well. These plants help fish feel safer and more secure, which certainly leads to a happier aquarium. They provide hiding places and homes which can also lead to some interesting design ideas on your part as well. Don’t be afraid to research the kinds of plants that your fish thrive in in their natural environment as well. Lots of owners are able to create some pretty impressive biotopes that help create a stable ecosystem and make your tank more aesthetically pleasing. 

Natural root systems

The root systems of live aquarium plants are another significant benefit to your aquarium’s well-being. Live plants form strong, full root systems that help prevent things like the buildup of potentially toxic gasses that can put your tank at risk. 

If you’re looking for a gorgeous, healthy looking tank that will allow your fish to thrive, then you should absolutely consider adding live plants to the mix. If you have questions about where to start or what would be some good plants for your situation, feel free to reach out to your local aquarium pro with questions at the ready. Until then, good luck!

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!




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