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Are aquariums actually good for your health?


When everyone thinks of typical pets, dogs and cats are almost always top of mind. But according to the National Pet Owners survey – aquarium fish are pets in over 13 million American homes. That makes them the third most popular pets in America. 

While keeping an aquarium is a big responsibility, owning fish comes with a lot of benefits. One of those benefits, surprisingly – is that it can be great for your health. While we’re positive that owning a fish tank isn’t at the top of the things you’re investing in to lose weight and drop your blood pressure, believe it or not – fish tanks can be a great supplement to a healthier lifestyle.  And in today’s blog, we’re going to explore some of the ways that aquariums help do that. Here are some of the health benefits that come along with owning an aquarium in your home. Let’s jump right in!

Reduced stress

According to studies, even the sight of water has a relaxing effect on the human psyche. It’s part of the reason why beach vacations are so popular. It’s also part of the reason that some people find themselves to be more productive when it rains out. There’s something about water – from the sounds, movement and sight of it – that puts us at ease.

In fact, this is why you’ll notice fish tanks in so many high stress environments like offices and hospitals. Simply put – fish tanks help reduce stress. And as you know, stress has a massive impact on your overall health. Spending time around your tank can help keep you calm and while it’s not going to solve all of your problems, it most certainly will help take some of the edge off our day-to-day.

Lowered blood pressure

When you feel less stress and you get more sleep, your body will begin to function better. As you can see, there’s a little ripple effect beginning to happen. Looking at fish tanks can lower your heart rate and in turn, lower your blood pressure. One study from UCLA suggested that looking at a fish tank can reduce your heart rate by as much as 7%. 

So if you’re someone who struggles with heart-related issues or high blood pressure, owning a fish tank may provide you with a significant health benefit. 

Improved focus and creativity

While fish tanks can calm the body and mind, they can also help boost your creativity and productivity, too. The visual stimulation that goes along with looking at a fish tank or the white noise that it can provide in the background helps people focus more on tasks at hand. Like we mentioned above, there’s a reason that large scale office spaces have fish tanks – and it’s for more than just something pretty to look at.

It’s even great for customers, clients and patients, too. According to studies, having an aquarium in a waiting room decreased the pain felt during dental procedures as well as the amount of pain medication needed afterward. Not only do fish tanks help you feel better, they help you get more done. 

As you can see, the health benefits of owning an aquarium extend far past having some nice looking pets. They can help improve your mental and physical wellbeing. So if you’re finding yourself on edge or wondering about something simple you can do to help improve your health, then investing in a fish tank may be for you. Good luck!

 

The best fish for a small aquarium


In our world, we usually deal with pretty substantial aquariums. We’re not always into the world of smaller, more beginner/pet-friendly tanks. That being said, we always like to keep a foot in that door because, well – every fish lover has a place where they started and began loving fish. And it’s usually in the world of 5 and 10 gallon tanks. 

So today, we’re going to stray off the beaten path a little bit and talk about some of the best fish you can have for your office desk or college dorm – fish of the 5 gallon variety. Sometimes, it can be hard to find creatures small enough to live in it, but today, we’ve put a small list of fish together that we’re sure will do the trick. Let’s jump right in!

Dwarf pea puffers

Pea puffers are actual, real puffer fish – just smaller versions. They’re characterized by a small yellow body, dark spots and their endlessly rotating eyes. They love to eat frozen foods and if you’re not careful – they will go after other animals in your aquarium like snails or dwarf shrimp, so be sure you only have one of these guys hanging out in your space at a time. 

But as an individual pet? They’re about as good as it gets. In addition, they’re a great fish to decorate with as you can supply them with an endless number of plants and background decoration and we promise you – they WILL stick out when set out upon that backdrop.

Rosy Loach

Rosy Loaches are scavengers, but surprisingly – they’re also intensely social fish. Even cooler, they’re what we call sexually dimorphic, almost like pheasants – where the males come in one look and the females come in another. They’re very active fish and especially if you purchase small school, don’t be surprised to see them buzzing around your tank all the time. They’re also curious fish as well – and are all too interested in things you might be doing. So if you’re looking for a good wingman for your desk, the rosy loach can be your fish.

Green neon tetra

So these guys look like regular neon tetras but believe it or not – they’re a completely different species altogether. You get a lot of the benefits of a neon – things like the beautiful blue-green horizontal stripe from head to tail that you can see even when the lights are off; but they also stay significantly smaller than a regular neon tetra and rarely get bigger than one inch in length. Like loaches, they’re a social species, but a little more inwardly so. If you’re going to buy one, you should buy a few so they have friends. They like to stick together. They’re not aggressive fish either so if you want a busier, more active tank – a small school of these guys paired with rosy loaches can be a really fun mix. 

White cloud mountain minnows

If you’re a stone-cold beginner and you’re looking for a fish that’s super easy to care for and also provides some variety, take a stab at the white cloud mountain minnow. They come in some variations – long fin, golden and regular and they’re particularly eye catching thanks to their blue eyes, red fins and peach-colored body. They’re also adaptable creatures, capable of living in a variety of water conditions and eating almost any kind of fish food. They’re not picky! So whether you’re just starting out or you’re an advanced tank owner looking to add a little color – these guys are a great compliment to any aquarium. 

 

Many of these fish can be found at a local fish store, but if you’re having difficulty finding them – feel free to check out some online vendors. If you’re looking for filtration media, bio balls or any other advice on how to keep these guys clean and healthy, then feel free to give us a call and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Until then, good luck!

New Year’s Resolutions for your fish tank in 2021


We know we’re not alone in expressing how relieved we are that 2020 is finally coming to an end. It’s been a bear of a year from a wild pandemic, to the economic hardships caused by it, a wild Presidential election and well, you know. You lived it. 

But as this year comes to a close, 2021 is on its way and with it comes the opportunity for renewal and a fresh start in a whole swath of aspects in our lives. For some – it’ll be things like weight loss and personal goals. For others, it’ll be tasks and skills. And if you’re an aquarium keeper, we’ll bet that you’re probably thinking of ways you can be a better this coming year. 

Here are some New Year’s Resolutions for you to consider for 2021 if you’re looking to take your fish tanking to the next level. Let’s jump right in!

Learn how to test your water and do it more frequently

Water chemistry is key to having a thriving, healthy environment for your fish. Learning how to test your water and maintain it is crucial if you want to have a tank where your fish can flourish. This year, learn how to test your water and maintain logs to track its quality. There are dozens of different kinds of test kits you can purchase at any pet store that are straight-forward and easy to learn. Learn what makes your tank healthy and track it. 

Get better about water changes

If there’s anything newer tank owners are really bad at – it’s changing tank water on an ongoing, regular basis. And we get it – everyone’s on the go and busier than ever these days. It’s always the last thing on the old to do list. But it’s part of the responsibility of owning a fish tank and crucial to your fish’s happiness and health. 

Most of the avoidance comes from the ‘bigness’ of the chore. It’s a lot to lift the tank, clean/replace the gravel, get the new filter, etc, etc. But you can actually do more by doing less, believe it or not. Maybe change out 10% of the water per week or 25% every other week. That way it takes way less effort to do and can actually help increase the life of your tank’s filter to boot. Whatever you decide to do – it’s on you to make sure you get into a more reliable routine. 

Feed better

Fish love to eat so of course, it’s important to not overfeed them. Just like humans, overeating can cause a whole range of physical issues. Try and be more mindful of how much you’re feeding your fish and become more familiar with their nutrition. Also, don’t be afraid to add a little variety to their life. Try to identify some extra treats and some new forms of food appropriate for the type of fish you have. Variety, as they say – is the spice of life.

Hopefully, these tips will help give you a little added inspiration as you try to figure out what to do with your aquarium this coming year. Here’s to a happy, healthy and safe, 2021, all. Good luck!

Holiday gift ideas for the fish fanatic in your life


It’s that time of year again! With Thanksgiving Dinner thoroughly pulverized and lawn decorations and lights popping up everywhere it’s time to start thinking about what we’re going to be getting our friends and family for the holidays. Oh the joys of the holiday retail rush! 

If your loved one is a fish fanatic, we’ve got you covered. Here, we’ve put together a few gift  ideas for you to mull over this holiday season for the fish fanatic in your life. Hopefully these will give you a little inspiration and make this season’s shopping hellscape a little bit more bearable. Let’s jump right in!

Tank upgrades

Most hardcore fish keepers are always looking for cool, new ways to upgrade their tanks. Whether that’s moving up in size, the number/type of fish, the lighting or whatever it might be – there’s a bevy of things you can get for them. 

One helpful upgrade is a high end LED light that fits their tank. These lights provide excellent light intensity and have a whole range of cool, customizable color spectrums. In some models, you can even have them configured with your smartphone so that there’s natural light patterns for the fish. The best part about them is that they won’t blow a hole in your wallet either as they’re fairly affordable. So if you’re looking for something that can really knock it out of the park, that’ll certainly do!

That being said – if you want to go for the deep ball, we’d most definitely err on the side of caution and instead of relying on a wonderful surprise – that you include that special someone in the decision making process. For starters, they’ll know the tank and what they want better than you will – and will know where to go and what they’ll want. We take friends and loved ones out to dinner as a treat, so just think of it like that!

Supply refills

If you’ve got a tank obsessive who is less concerned with something new and instead more into keeping what they already have looking great; then supply refills are always a winner. Plant fertilizers and root tabs are always in demand when it comes to keeping aquarium plants happy and healthy. If they don’t keep plants, check their supply cabinet to see what they use and what they might need more of. It could be medications – it could even be new types of treats and fish food. Whatever they need and you know they’ll use will certainly work. 

Stocking stuffers

Sometimes it’s not about going big and bold. Sometimes, it’s the smaller things that matter most. And sometimes it’s just those things that fit into a stocking that fish tank owners are always in need of; smaller things that make a big difference in their aquariums. Maybe it’s a simple new net, a scraper blade to clean algae, filters, small air pumps, or new tank decorations. Whatever it is – you won’t have difficulty finding something that is affordable, makes a difference and fits neatly inside a stocking. 

The great thing about aquariums is small, affordable upgrades can make a really big difference. 

If fish fanatics are anything, they’re fickle about what they love, but they’re also easy to please. Whatever you do that comes from a place of love will make them feel great. And if you’re a fish fanatic yourself, don’t be shy in sharing this article with family and friends to help them out! Enjoy the holidays and hopefully Santa is good to you and yours!

The basics of bioballs


There are so many different types of filtration media out on the market that it can get overwhelming trying to figure out which one is right for your situation. One of the more popular forms are bioballs – a plastic ball with slatches on its surfaces which are designed to catch beneficial bacteria within your tank and give it a place to live and thrive. 

Today, we’re going to discuss what bio balls are all about – from what you should buy, to how you use them and what maintenance looks like. Let’s jump right in!

How many should I get for my tank?

We have always said that the general rule of thumb for bio balls is 10 balls for every 450l of water. Of course this depends a lot on what kind of filter canister or sump pump that you have, but generally speaking – that should give you what you need. If you have a sump tank though, you can use generally as much as you’d like and it shouldn’t harm your tank as long as you’re maintaining them properly. 

How do I use them?

Like we said above, bio balls exist as temporary storage units for beneficial bacteria in your tank. They’re not there to remove waste. They’re best used after water flows through filter foam – as the foam will catch all of the waste and other bad debris from the tank so that it doesn’t get caught inside your bio balls. If you place them ahead of the foam, a lot of that bad stuff will get stuck in the balls and adversely impact your tank by causing the nitrate levels to rise to unsustainable levels. 

Are they difficult to clean?

Truth be told you’ll want to clean your bio balls inside the fish tank using the actual water in the tank, itself. The reason for this is that you want to protect beneficial bacteria that’s built up on those surfaces over time. Totally cleaning more or less defeats the purpose of having them to begin with. It should go without saying that the best time to do this is during water changes. That way, you’ll be cleaning out the bad debris all at once. Just remember – don’t scrub! 

 

If you’re looking to add bio balls to your tank, feel free to give us a call and we’re happy to give you some more information on what kind of solutions might be available for your tank. Until then, we hope today’s blog gave you a little bit more of an idea as to what you can expect when it comes to bio balls should you decide to invest in some for your tank in the future. Good luck!

Can Betta Fish live with other fish?


You’ve probably heard it a thousand times that Betta fish don’t live well with other fish, particularly other Betta fish. And that, for the most part is true, but there are exceptions to the rule. Just because Bettas will fight other fish doesn’t mean they’ll fight every fish they come across. 

In fact, small, plain looking fish don’t pose much of a threat to a betta – and especially if they have lots of places to hide; you might be just fine. So that poses the question: can Bettas play nice and live with other fish? Can you have a thriving community that includes these feisty friends?

That’s what we’re here to discuss today. Let’s jump right in. 

Will they fight other fish?

Believe it or not, Bettas can be a part of a thriving community tank. But that doesn’t mean you just start mixing to your heart’s content. There are some things you should do first. 

The first thing you want to do – is to try to figure out how aggressive your betta really is. Each fish is like any other animal – they have their own, unique personality. Some are way more laid back than others. Others will fight at the drop of the hat. Some are fine for the most part, but can be territorial. How can you tell if your betta is all about metta world peace? You can start by watching them in the pet store.

Bettas are usually kept in small containers and stored on top of one another – and they can see everything and everyone around them. Watch their behavior. Is there a male that appears agitated? Do any of them seem bothered by the site of another fish? Are they puffing their gills and flaring their fins when they see other bettas? If they are – they’re probably too aggressive for a community. 

The goal here – is to choose a betta that is more interested in avoiding conflict than actually initiating it. Try to choose the fish that looks the most peaceful in the pet store. Keep in mind though – that just because they’re on their best behavior that day is no guarantee that they’ll do ok in a community tank – but you will improve your odds. 

How to set up your community for a betta

The first thing to do is to introduce a betta to a tank and not the rest of the tank and community to the betta. That way, they won’t feel like their territory is being encroached upon and they’ll have to carve out their own space in the tank. The next big thing is to be mindful of the size of your tank. You don’t want it to be overcrowded. Bettas like their space and need enough of it to call their own. If they don’t- they’ll respond aggressively. They’ll almost never work in a five gallon tank; but ten gallons usually works perfectly fine. 

Second, you’ll want to be sure that you’re putting them in a tank with fish that aren’t that colorful. The more flair a fish has, the more likely that a betta will see them as a threat. Long story, short – boring is always better with betta fish. 

Finally, be sure to add lots of plants, caves and other decorations inside the tank. This will allow lots of real estate for your betta to lounge around in; but also gives their neighbors a place to hide if the betta decides to go on a bender one day. That way everyone has a place.

Trust us when we say – we totally understand and agree with people who are hesitant to add a betta fish to their community. That being said – it’s 100% possible to pull off so long as you’re careful. Stay away from males, stay away from multiple bettas and try to pick fish that look less aggressive and peaceful. Then simply set up an environment where they can thrive. So long as they don’t feel threatened; they should behave just fine. 

Hopefully these tips help your decision come into a little bit clearer focus. Good luck!

How much should you feed your fish?


If you’re someone who’s new to aquariums, then one of the first questions you’ll probably ask is how much you should feed your fish. And for veterans of the fish game that seems a little silly – but to newcomers, it’s entirely understandable that you’d be a little confused. 

Today we’re going to try and clear up some of that confusion. Here’s what you need to know:

What do fish eat? 

Take a glance at any rack in any pet store and it becomes pretty clear pretty quick: not all fish eat the same things. From bettas to goldfish – food can vary. So how do you know what food your fish needs to eat? It’s on you to do some research. 

  • Are they carnivores, herbivores or omnivores?
  • Do they eat dry food, frozen food or live food?
  • How big should the food be? 
  • Will they eat floating or sinking foods?
  • Does the food taste good to your fish?

Once you have the answers to those questions, you’ll know what your fish eats and what’ll be best for them. 

How often do I feed them?

The overwhelming majority of fish are fine if you feed them once a day, If you have smaller, growing fish – then they’ll need to be fed a little bit more often. Most fish are awake in the daytime, so try to make it somewhat routine oriented, either before you go to bed or when you get up in the morning before you go off to work. 

How much should I feed them?

Overfeeding fish can be a problem and create a dirty, not-so-great environment for your fish to be in. You’ll notice they’re producing a lot of poop and generally speaking, won’t be too interested in eating during mealtimes. Excess feeding can also cause internal health issues as well – from fatty liver disease, constipation and both bacterial and fungal infections. 

Try to feed them no more than the indicated amounts on the food’s packaging. 

Can fish go long without food?

While you can forget a day here and there, it’s not advised to go much longer than that. If you’re going on vacation, you should have someone come by to feed your fish. If you’re someone who travels frequently or has long stretches where you’re not home, then you might want to consider automatic fish feeders or a pet sitter who can take care of their needs while you’re away. 

If my fish are always swimming to the top looking for food, does that mean i’m not feeding them enough?

No, definitely not. Fish are opportunistic eaters. They’re always on the lookout for another meal. And they’re like all pets – they’ll beg! 

Just be sure you’re keeping up a consistent schedule and your fish will be well fed and taken care of. And of course – don’t try to do everything yourself. That’s never good. Ask pet store attendants, friends and let them help. Owning an aquarium is fun – but it’s best to get the right answers; not just treating information like comfort food to soothe our pre-existing biases. Hopefully this post will clear some of your questions up. Good luck!

 

Plumbing your fish tank: all about those pipes


Whenever you decide to plumb your aquarium, there’s a lot of planning that needs to take place. Things like bulkhead fittings, flow rates and material types and sizes all need to be taken into consideration. 

Today, we’re going to focus on the various material types and sizes that you’ll need to consider before you begin your project. No matter your setup – fresh or salt water – you have to make sure your pipe and fittings are meant for potable water (can safely handle drinking water) and that it’s resistant to corrosion and scaling. 

Long story, short – we’ve narrowed things down to the following four types of piping. Let’s jump right in:

ABS (acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

Quite the mouthful, right? Well, ABS is only used for drainage in homes and can’t really take too much in the way of pressure or heat. While you can use this material (it’s very cheap and affordable) – you need to keep in mind that it should only be used for drain lines. Any kind of pressure is an absolute no-go. 

PVC

Everyone knows PVC and knows that it can handle a fairly substantial range of pressure and heat. It can be used for water supply, but it’s going to have to be cold water only. If you’re looking for an economical choice for your aquarium, PVC will certainly do the trick. You also have the luxury of using both rigid and flexible piping, which can be helpful; although you do need to be a little bit more cautious with flexible piping as it can’t take the kind of pressure that its rigid counterpart is capable of. 

CPVC 

CPVC is basically a souped-up version of PVC piping in that it uses chlorine as a coat. Because of that, it allows for both hot and cold drinking water. And just like PVC piping, it comes in flexible and rigid applications. The major difference here however, is that CPVC piping is far, far more expensive than PVC piping, so if you’re on a budget, this might not be the call for you. However, it’s important to remember that you get what you pay for and CPVC will last a long time and give you a wide range of options in terms of what you can do with it. 

PEX (Cross-Linked Polyethylene) 

Ask most plumbers today, and they’d probably tell you that PEX is the most commonly used form of piping that they use in new construction and buildings. It comes with all the bells and whistles that you get with PVC and CPVC piping, but also comes with the added aesthetic bonus of a whiter, almost transparent color. It also can go flex or rigid and still maintain the same amount of pressure for both. Long story, short – this is the Cadillac of pipes. And oh boy, you’ll pay Cadillac prices, too. But also – you’ll get a fantastic product. That being said, part of the reason isn’t just the bells and whistles it provides its users, but also that it needs specific tools to connect them. So keep that in mind. However, if money isn’t an object – this might be your best option. 

Creating your dream aquarium takes careful thought, planning and preparation. Hopefully this mini-guide helped you sort through one of the more important steps in the process. If you still have questions or would like to learn more about bulkhead fittings and plumbing your tank, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Good luck!

Why aquarium temperature is so important


One of the most important elements of a healthy fish tank is your tank’s water temperature. Over the course of time, your tank will have many different kinds of inhabitants – all of whom live within different temperature ranges. So no matter what kind of aquarium you decide to have – knowing and maintaining your tank’s temperature is a vital ingredient for success.

Why it’s so important 

This one is pretty straight-forward. Fish are poikilothermic organisms. What’s that mean? It means they’re the kind of animal that doesn’t regulate their own internal body temperature. Rather – they rely on their environment.

Poikilothermic organisms function best when they’re in an environment with a designated temperature range. When you get outside these ranges – whether it’s too hot or too cold – you tend to have problems. It can cause all sorts of issues ranging from poor growth, to respiratory issues and possibly even death.

If the temperature increases or decreases too quickly – it can hurt a fish’s immune system and raise the likelihood of it getting sick. It can spike metabolic activity and in some cases – shock the respiratory system. That’s why keeping temperature within specific parameters is so important.

So what’s the best range?

Keeping your temperature in a specific range depends on a lot of things – like where your organisms are from and what their previous environments were. That’s why it’s important to do a little digging before buying a fish.

But like we just said – it all really depends. Many species of fish can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. Goldfish can live in water as cold as 40 degrees and as hot as 80 degrees. Others – have a very narrow temperature range- perhaps only a few degrees difference.

The most important thing

One of the most important things you can do when you first buy your fish is to acclimatize them to their new surroundings. It’s the process of slowly introducing the fish to their new home.

This is important because differences in not only the temperature – but the chemistry of the water can stress fish out if they’re not slowly introduced to their new home. There’s not guidebook to this either – but how long it takes to introduce a fish to their new tank depends on the fish itself and their sensitivity to environmental changes.

Doing this simply involves letting your aquarium bag float in your aquarium with the fish inside it. This helps the water in the bag slowly match that of the environment around it. You can use things like digital thermometers to check the temperature of both and ensure that there’s no sudden spikes in the process. Like we said – there’s no definitive way to do this – but most fish take anywhere from 15-60 minutes to get used to their new home.

Managing the temperature of your aquarium is one of the most important things you’ll do as an aquarium owner. If you’d like to learn more about how to maintain your tank’s temperature give us a call today and we can offer you a free consultation. Good luck!

The biggest threats to a fish’s health


The most important thing you can do as a pet owner is to make sure your fish are healthy. And keeping your fish healthy sometimes means more than just keeping them on a steady diet and cleaning the tank now and then. It means having an understanding of what threats exist to their health and what can be done to avoid them.

Here are some of the main reasons that fish die and what you can do to help keep your aquarium a more healthy environment for them. Let’s jump right in.

Stress

Believe it or not, fish are very sensitive animals and one of the most common sources of poor health and death is stress. Stress opens the gates to a whole plethora of maladies; but is often caused by neglect or improper handling of the fish. Keeping them clean and calm is vital to their overall health.

Make sure you handle your fish gently when you’re changing the water in the tank and just in general. Don’t wrap on the glass or scare your fish. And we also recommend that you listen to your pet shop and aquarium pros and listen to their guidelines about introducing fish to a new environment and the like.

Sickness

When you purchase your fish, you need to be attentive to their overall health. Be on the lookout for things like white spots on the skin, chopped fins and the overall condition of the aquarium they’re in. Are they lethargic? Are they swimming awkwardly? If you notice any of these things, the chances are that the fish is sick.

These illnesses come about largely due to issues with the water composition and general aquarium cleanliness. In fact – ammonia poisoning and drowning due to lack of oxygen are the two most common causes of fish dying in aquariums.

That’s why it’s important to know things like the safety of your fish relative to the size of an aquarium, cleaning your tank regularly, etc. – are being kept up on.

Cleanliness

Keeping your fish tank clean isn’t as easy as it seems. Not only do you need a quality filter, but also the water needs to be replenished every not and then in order to keep a clean and healthy environment for your fish to live in.

There are a lot of little mistakes you can make that can make a huge difference. For example – it’s better to use clean drinking water to fill your aquarium – not tap or chlorinated water. What is healthy for you could potentially kill your fish. Use drinking water and make sure it doesn’t include any additives.

The other important thing is to make sure you use excessively clean materials. Make sure everything you use – from your net to your vacuum – is cleaned thoroughly after cleaning your tank.

While these things seem kind of menial – they add up and help set the stage for your tank to maintain it’s cleanliness longer, thus avoiding the potentially hazardous cleanliness issues that could lead to your fish’s death.

We hope this article is helpful, but please remember – sometimes you can do everything right and fish get sick and sometimes die. Sometimes they die out of the blue and without warning. But there are ways that you can lessen the odds of that happening and by following some of these tips, you should set up an environment that’s conducive to your fish’s overall, long-term health.




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