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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!

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! 

 

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!

Choosing an aquarium filter: Where to start


For people who are new to owning a fish tank, knowing what to look for in an aquarium filter is a common question they’ll ask. The truth is, owning and aquarium as a hobby is as popular as it’s ever been – and the options are virtually endless and at times overwhelming to new enthusiasts.

Today we’re not going to talk models. We’re not going to talk about the type of filter, either. What we’re going to talk about is the parameters of what you should be framing your search in hopes of finding a solution. The stuff that sets the boundaries and helps the answer come into clearer focus.

Here are some of the factors you should be considering when you are purchasing an aquarium filter. Let’s jump right in!

Is it easy to install? Some filters are a lot to install and for a beginner – that can mean biting off more than you can chew. Is the filter something you can install yourself or do you need to call in a professional? Try not to dive in over your head, but in the event you do – have a pro on standby to help you out!

Cost – How much does the filter cost? Great filters can be worth their weight in gold, but if you’re newer to the hobby, holding off on making a significant financial commitment might be worth it.

Maintenance – There are some filters out there that you can set and simply forget. There are others that require constant, ongoing maintenance. Which one is for you and which one fits your lifestyle?

Space – Not every room and not every tank is set up for a large filter. Finding a fit and space to put your filter is important. Can this filter fit under your aquarium or inside it? Is it bulky and not aesthetically pleasing? What’s the practical choice?

How does it handle organic matter? – Not every form of green is bad to have in your tank. Does your filter maintain an acceptable level of biological filtration? Be sure to take your time here and ask questions as biological filtration may be the single most important aspect of your tank’s filtration system.

Chemical effectiveness – Same as above, but rather chemicals. Does it maintain balance well or does it have issues?

Noise – Believe it or not, this is one people take for granted. It’s purely aesthetic, but a noisy tank filter can be grating to people who aren’t used to it. Be sure to ask about the noise levels associated with your filtration system.

Feel free to look around at certain filtration guides you’ll find online. That can be a great place to start in terms of identifying a make and model that will work with your setup. In addition, be sure to ask the pros at your local vendor. Sometimes they’ll have various tips and tricks that might work for your unique setup and situation. Until then – stick to these rules, answer these questions and the answer of what filter to purchase will come into clearer focus.

Introducing fish to a new tank


Introducing fish to an aquarium is one of the more overlooked things that new tank owners never think about. You have to remember that when you set up an aquarium, you’re basically setting up an entire small ecosystem in which your fish will live.

There are some things to consider when you’re introducing a fish to its new home. Here are some tips that will help make it easier for you to make your fish feel more at home faster. Let’s jump right in!

Preparation

Before buying a fish, you need to make sure you have your aquarium up and running so that it’s prepared to take on fish. That includes getting the temperature right, making sure the pH is balanced, that you have the right filtration media, lighting, heating and water chemistry and the like. Once it’s up and running, give it a day or two to acclimatize to itself. Then get into adding in fish.

Acclimatization

Getting your fish acclimated to the temperature of the tank is crucial. Not doing so can cause shock and even potentially kill it. You do this by opening the bag your fish is in and placing the fish in the bag in the water, with the opening hooked in so it doesn’t totally submerge into the water. Keep the fish in the bag about 20 minutes and then they should be ready to handle the temperature.

Getting them used to the tank

The next thing you’re going to want to do is pour a little tank water into the bag to get the fish ready for the water they’ll be in as this helps them get used to the chemistry of the water. Give this one about 10 minutes. Every ten minutes thereafter, add a little bit more water to the bag.

Freedom

Now it’s time to let the fish free. Using a net, grab the fish and set it into the tank. DO NOT dump the water from the bag into the tank. That can cause germs and all sorts of nasty diseases to spread that could adversely effect the other fish in the tank.

Rest and relaxation

For fish, moving can be a pretty traumatic thing – so they’ll need a little time to relax and calm down once this is all over. Feel free to shut of the light in the aquarium as this will take their focus off the newcomers. Try to feed them within the first 24 hours they’re in the tank.

Devil’s in the details

Keep monitoring your fish for a few days after they arrive. Some species are more sensitive than other and some will require more attention than others. Salt water fish also bring a totally different element into the equation as well. Ask your local provider questions and make sure that you know the ins, outs and particulars of the fish you just purchased.

Getting fish for the first time is an incredible experience. Enjoy!

What makes bioballs so great


The media that you decide to use in your tank’s filtration system is really meaningful. Its job, after all – is to catch and store as much good and beneficial bacteria as possible. These bacteria don’t just keep your tank alive – they help it thrive, keep it clean and algae-free.

Bioballs are considered a go-to tool for a whole range of tank owners – from the hardcores to the casual pet owner. Simply put – they’re plastic spheres that have dozens of thin rods within. Those rods as well as the cover – allow for plenty of living space for beneficial bacteria to thrive.

Today, we’re going to talk about why so many people choose them, use them and how they can help you. Let’s jump right in!

Easy to clean

Bioballs are relatively low maintenance – but when you need to clean them – they’re easy to clean. Simply rinse them off with water and all of a sudden – you’re good to go! It really is that easy. You don’t need to apply anything, wash it in special water at a special temperature or any of it. Rinse it off and plop it back in the tank! It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Long lasting

Simply put – bioballs are meant to last a long, long time. They’re not like your usual, standard issue fish tank filter that you’ll have to throw out. Once you have you bioballs, they last for life. To degradation and as simple a function as you could hope for.

Scalable

The one undeniable benefit of bioballs are their ability to function with a wide range of media and adapt to a variety of situations. Their round shape alone allows them to easily conform to their surroundings no matter the shape or composition.

Easy to handle

Bioballs weigh 0.3 ounces – which to those who own larger tanks – probably comes as a relief! They’re not clunky, they’re not messy (most come with a mesh filter bag), and they’re as easy to install as they come. And that’s not even getting into the time and money you’ll save on other forms of filtration media.

 

Simply put – a small investment in bioballs can go a long way – and that’s what makes them so great. You’ll see better results and you’ll need to do less maintenance in order to see those results. Who could possibly not want that?

Species that every beginner should avoid


Keeping and maintaining marine life can be a challenge for people who are new to the hobby. It can especially difficult when you have difficult to maintain species. After all, there are so many fish out there and so many choices – and if things weren’t confusing enough – many of the species that are commonly found in pet stores and other places aren’t easy to maintain.

Today’s blog is going to be about the species of fish that beginners should avoid putting into their tank until they’re ready. If you see a fish that you are interested in on this list, then maybe it’s something you’ll want to reconsider. Let’s jump right in!

 

Filefish

Filefish comes from the same order as pufferfish. They’re not the worst choice on this list, but they’re certainly not a good one. The issue is that they’re a little destructive. They’ll frequently go after your corals when on an empty stomach – and have also been known to chase invertebrates like urchins around when in search of food.

You need to keep up a steady flow of food as they tend to like to graze – AND it needs to be both of the vegetable type and the meat type. They’re a great choice for experienced owners, but we recommend staying away if you’re a beginner.

Eels

In many cases, there are just some species that aren’t just best left to experienced tank owners – but better off left in the wild, period. That’s our take on eels – and more specifically – ribbon eels. The fact is – most end up dead in a few weeks of purchase and they don’t handle captivity well at all.

The biggest issue is their diet. They refuse feeders often and get easily stressed. They’ll often put themselves on stress patterns and well, they just waste away. They’re absolutely beautiful animals to have and trust us when we say we get the temptation, but you’re best off leaving them be. Especially if you’re a beginner.

Seahorses

Seahorses definitely fall into that ‘great in theory’ category, but almost never work out as expected. Again – the issue is a rather complicated pattern of care. They need to feed three times a day, be in a very friendly-to-seahorsies tank and the water needs to be kept meticulously. Sound like a lot? Well, because it is. Most beginners don’t want to put up with the maintenance and if you don’t, you’ll lose your seahorses. So we recommend that you just pass.

Lionfish

There’s a lot of lionfish out there – but we’re talking about your classic, definitive ‘lionfish,’ here. They are one of the most beautiful species you can own, but you’re going to need an awful lot of dedication to keep them going.

They have three qualities about them that will be a challenge: their size, their aggression levels and their spikes. They get big quick and like to eat anything that can fit into their mouth. They can even sting you. So – if you’re new to this whole fish tank thing – there are literally hundreds of other species who’d be a better choice.

 

Owning a fish tank is a wonderful experience. Just make sure that if you decide to get into it that you take things a step at a time. Good luck with your new aquarium! You’re going to love it!

For the cost conscious aquarium owner


Owning an aquarium is a fantastic hobby and for most of us – it’s a great source of enjoyment in our life. That being said – it’s not cheap! In fact, expenses can pile up quickly from new gravel and food to the bump in your electrical bill and the cost of the fish and plants themselves.

While it’s better to do things right than on the cheap – that doesn’t mean you should be mindlessly blowing through your money. There are things that you can do both the right way and affordably. Today, we’re going to share a few of those things with you.

Here’s some ways you can get the most out of your tank without blowing the bank. Let’s jump right in!

Filters

Bio balls are a huge cost saver, but hey – we’re biased! Another way to cut down on the costs of filtering your tank are sponge filters. It basically picks up mulm, debris and waste and filters it out of the water for a nice, tidy cost between $5 and $25. While some folks worry about the idea of multiple air pumps, there are industrial pumps available that run sponge filters so you should be able to find a solution relatively quickly.

Food

People spend a lot more money than they plan on fish foods and sometimes end up cleaning more of it out of the tank then they actually feed their fish. If you’re creative, you can find your own fish foods. Fish enjoy things like earthworms, flies and mosquito larvae – all of which can be found right in your back yard. Brine shrimp is another common way to feed your fish on the cheap. It takes a little work, but most fish will not only thrive on that diet, they’ll enjoy their meals as well.

Lighting

Lighting is usually one of the more expensive things associated with owning an aquarium. Light fixtures tend to wildly fluctuate in price and can easily get into the hundreds of dollars if an owner isn’t careful. A cost effective option is by using a simple short light fixture that can be found at a hardware store. Especially if you’re growing plants in your aquarium, you might even be able to find certain plant-specific bulbs that will give you exactly what you need instead of taking a shot in the dark.

And finally, give some consideration to an LED flood light. Not only does it provide a generous amount of light, but it’s also inexpensive and uses little to no power.

Décor

We tell this to just about everyone: if you want to have a tank that’s uniquely yours, make it so. Put things inside it that reflect what you want to see and don’t be afraid about being creative. Flower pots, sculptures, nick knacks – anything from a local river or pond – do it. All you really need to do – particularly if it’s a natural element like a cool piece of small driftwood – is boil it to kill off any potential parasites and germs. Once that’s done though – there’s a whole swath of things you can do. Don’t go out and plunk $50 down on the ceramic diving guy. Make the tank yours!

 

Aquarium projects can be fun and easy to do on your own – and can save you a significant amount of money. Get creative, read articles, watch YouTube and put your own spin on things. As long as these things are safe, your projects will give you years of enjoyment!

Keeping your tank clean and your fish healthy


Fish are wonderful pets to have and aquariums are the perfect accent to almost any indoor living space. Maintaining both however, is important not just for the health of your fish, but also for maintaining the aesthetic appeal of your tank as well.

Here are some tips that will help make the maintenance of your aquarium easy and worry-free. Let’s jump right in!

Condition your water 

Humans have air. Fish have water. Having quality air is critical to our health. Having quality water is critical to theirs. While tap water is well and good for us, it comes with a whole swath of properties that need to be balanced in order to support aquatic life properly. De-chlorinators and biological aquarium supplements should be available at your local pet store.

Maintaining pH levels

pH measures the acidity and alkalinity of your tank’s water. Keeping a proper balance of the two will help your fish resist illness and help keep your aquarium clean. In addition, certain bacteria will also live in the tank – some good and some bad. Some of the good bacteria like to make their homes in things like filtration media and bio balls. Other, bad bacteria can grow along the walls of the tank. Make sure you have a balance of both. Keeping your pH in check will help keep the good stuff and kill off the bad stuff.

Maintaining temperature

Nothing is worse for a fish tank than constant changes in temperature. They need to be kept away from windows that get a lot of sun or near air conditioning or heating vents. Temperature should be a consistent 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the species. If you can’t maintain this temperature, then you’ll have to buy a heater for your tank.

Constantly cleaning your tank

This includes things like changing out the water and scrubbing the sides of the tank. Not everything that’s green is gold and algae certainly falls into that category. It can cloud the glass, make the water murky, depletes oxygen and in general can create an environment that’s harmful to aquatic life. There are a variety of tools out there that can help – but the insides of your tank should be scrubbed on a semi-regular basis.

With a well-managed tank, you will get many happy hours of enjoyment out of watching your fish. Good luck!




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