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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!

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!

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!

Tips for installing bulkhead fittings on your aquarium


Installing bulkhead fittings into your aquarium isn’t always easy, but for some of our more brave customers, they like to take matters into their own hands. Today, we’re going to teach you some tips on installing bulkheads that can make the process easier. We’re not reinventing the wheel here, but these are some basic tips we’ve got to make things go a little bit more smoothly on your end. 

Let’s jump right in!

Install ‘em clean and dry

Don’t get into installing bulkheads with teflon, silicone or thread lubricants. Why? Because they’ll cause the gasket to scoot or not seal properly. If you’ve ever seen an old car windshield removed or some other gasketed glass, you’ll notice that rubber vulcanizes to the glass over time and creates an appropriate seal. Same thing here. 

Clean off excess flashing

Before you install a bulkhead fitting, be sure to use a nail file or pocket knife and clean out any excess flashing on the male and female threads so you get a better fit. This is a common source of leaks, so you’ll want to make sure you do this. 

Install the gasket on the flange side only

Regardless if it’s inside or outside the tank, always install gaskets on the flange side and not the nut side. Doing the opposite will lead to leaks as water will flow out, around and through the threads around the gasket. 

Use the correct supports

Don’t support the pumps or piping from a bulkhead. Use supports so that the weight is not all impacted on the bulkhead itself. This can cause a wide range of stresses on the mating surface and cause leaks. 

And above all else

NEVER screw anything to the external threads. Remember these aren’t standard pipe threads and if not applied as instructed, they can lead to some pretty severe leaks. They solely exist to screw the nut on and are not even standard or uniform in diameter, so be sure you don’t do this. It’ll only lead to issues. 

Hopefully these tips help bring your project into a little bit clearer focus. If you need tips on bulkhead fittings and installation, feel free to give us a call and we’ll provide you with a free installation. Until then, good luck!

Why bulkhead fittings leak


One of the most common leaks in an aquarium is in its plumbing – or more specifically in its bulkhead fittings. They usually show themselves as a slow drip leak when a tank is first set up or will appear at random at some point during the lifespan of the tank. 

Fixing the leak comes down to identifying the source. That could mean tightening the bulkhead fitting, poor installation or cleaning the surface area of the bulkhead fitting to ensure it’s on nice and snug. In today’s blog, we’re going to go over some basic information about the causes of leaky bulkhead fittings and how to resolve bulkhead leaks. Let’s jump right in!

Incorrect installation

The #1 reason a bulkhead fitting leaks is because it wasn’t installed properly to begin with. That means putting the gasket in the right location, making sure it’s the right size and applying the correct amount of tension. In other cases, things like gaskets get forgotten or casually omitted from the installation, which while you might not see leaking up front early – you likely will at some point. 

Not installed on the correct surface

Bulkheads need to be installed on a clean, flush surface. When installed poorly, things like rocks and other debris can get between the bulkhead and the tank, causing leaks. This can also cause leaks anytime that a fish tank gets accidentally bumped. When sediment is built up between the two surfaces, it can loosen the connection and more easily cause leaks. 

When gasket seals fail

More often than not, when it’s not improper installation, it’s just a matter of the bulkhead gasket failing. And look, that happens! These pieces of thin rubber are there to prevent leaks but like anything – they can fail – sometimes for a good reason and sometimes for no real reason at all! These gaskets are always exposed to pressure and salt water – so they do take a beating. They should last a long time, but that’s not always the case. 

Should you encounter any of these issues, our professionals at JT Enterprises can help. To learn more about bulkhead fittings and what kinds you should be using in your tank – give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Until then, good luck!

The best freshwater fish for your tank


Having an aquarium comes with some significant health benefits. Aquariums can reduce stress and lower blood pressure, just to name a few. One of the reasons for that is just how soothing the fish themselves can be. Now there’s a fish-freak debate out there where some think that saltwater fish are the prettier, flashier fish and well, we’re not sure we agree. There’s plenty of freshwater fish out there who are gorgeous. 

In addition, freshwater tanks are a little bit easier to maintain and the fish who inhabit them are more forgiving when we make mistakes. And make no mistake about it -there are plenty of freshwater fish who look fantastic and can really make your tank ‘pop.’ Today, we’re going to talk about some of the more popular adds for freshwater tanks and why they might be a great fit for your space. Let’s jump right in!

Neon Tetras

Neon’s might be some of the most popular fish on this list. They’re small, thin and very easy to care for – making them a great fit for new owners. They only grow to about 2.2cm in length and they’re generally a peaceful species of fish. They do best when you keep them in groups and tend to enjoy rocks, plants and other places to hide. 

Guppies

Guppies are an ideal pet for beginners as just like Neons, they’re easy to care for. The one thing you do want to be wary of is that they tend to breed with each other fast if you don’t separate the sexes so just be aware of that. They come in a variety of colors with the males tending to be a bit more on the flamboyant side than their female counterparts. They also have lively personalities – making them a popular, fun addition to your tank. 

Mollies

Mollies are as easy-going a fish species as you can find. They grow to about 3-4 inches long and like to snack on plants and other animals – but don’t fret – they won’t attack other fish. They come with a similar caveat to Guppies in that they’ll breed quickly – so if you don’t want too much traffic in your tank, be sure to just keep one gender. 

Goldfish

We tend to lump all freshwater species under the ‘goldfish’ umbrella, but the truth is these guys are their own unique species. Some wild goldfish have been seen to live as long as 25 years old and they can grow up to 14 inches in length. The one thing you’ll want to do is avoid putting these fish in smaller tanks. You’ll want a tank that’s at least 20 gallons. They also need a lot of maintenance as they don’t tend to be the cleanest fish on planet earth. Weekly water and filter changes WILL be a thing. 

So the next time someone says freshwater fish are boring; don’t listen! Freshwater fish are tough, resilient and yes – beautiful creatures who deserve just as much love and attention. Be sure to regularly care for your fish and get to know their personalities. In time, you’ll fall in love with your aquarium. Good luck!

How to clean your fish tank


If our goal is to keep our fish happy and healthy, then you’ll need to be sure that you keep their home nice, neat and clean. Creating an optimal environment for your fish is vital to their long term health – and your enjoyment of them. Today, we’re going to discuss the things that you’ll need to do when it comes to cleaning your fish tank. Let’s jump right in.

Determining how much water needs to be changed

It’s probably best to change at least 25 to 50% of the water in your aquarium every other week. Before you make that decision though, be sure you get an idea of what the bioload of the tank is. What do we mean by that? What we mean is that the water’s phosphate and nitrate levels need to be where they’re supposed to be. The more they’re not at the levels they should be at, the more water you’ll need to change in the tank. You can pick up affordable testing kits at your local pet shop that will not only tell you how to do this, but give you an idea of precisely the kinds of levels you should be looking for.

Prepping your water

Tap water can contain a lot of unwanted substances like metals, chlorine and other toxins that can be harmful to your fish. In addition, the water temperature might not be where it needs to be. To avoid this, we recommend actually drawing your water the night before, add some water conditioner (you can get this at any pet store) and let it sit for a night. By the next day, it should be ready to use in your aquarium.

Scrubbing the tank

Use an algae pad to clean both the sides of the fish tank and the decorations. Be sure that you put gloves on while you do this as doing so will protect you from any allergic reaction you may have to the substance. Never use scrubbers or sponges that you’d also use in the kitchen. Also never use bleach or boiling water to clean your tank. Many bacteria in your tank are actually beneficial to your fish’s health, so you want to make sure you’re not killing off everything in the tank. Just the bad stuff.

Siphoning the water out

Siphon your dirty aquarium water out into a dedicated bucket for your aquarium. Try to remove as much waste as you can from the gravel at the bottom. If you are using sand at the bottom of your tank, simply hold the siphon slightly above the surface enough to get suction, but not so close as to disturb the surface. 

Change your filtration media

You don’t have to change your filtration every time, but doing so every other month – or at least at a point where it’s performance begins to dip – is what’s advisable. It’s largely going to depend on what kind of media you’re using; but that’s the general rule of thumb. The best way to clean your filter is to give it a rinse using the tank water in your bucket. Don’t’ ever use tap water as you’ll run the risk of getting rid of all the good bacteria inside your filter. 

Once all this is done, it’ll be time to refill your tank with water. And presto! Your tank will be clean yet again and your fish will appreciate it. If you’ve got any questions on how you can do a better job maintaining your tank, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to give you a free consultation. Until then, good luck!

How to figure out how many fish you can have in a tank


One of the most common questions we get is ‘how many fish can I put in my tank?’ And as you can guess, that depends on a few things – from the combination of fish to the size of your aquarium.

To answer this question and to keep things simple, we’re going to break it down into three important things for you to keep in mind. Now be aware, this isn’t a perfect methodology as there are a lot of intricacies involved from species to species of fish – but it’ll help bring your answer into a little bit clearer focus. Let’s jump right in!

Waste load

When fish eat, they produce waste. When you own an aquarium, you’ll have plants and filtration agents inside of it that will help break that waste down. As the waste builds up and outpaces the ability to break it down, the water quality goes down and it can lead to your fish getting sick or even dying. And obviously the more fish you have, the more waste will quickly accumulate. Because of that, it’s important to not overload your aquarium with fish. We call this ‘waste load’ – or essentially the threshold where the fish in it will produce too much waste to keep a tank clean.

So how do you minimize waste load? The answer is your filtration system. Beneficial bacteria that lives in things like bioballs will help break down the toxic compounds. Make sure you follow your aquarium cycling instructions to put yourself in the best position to have a thriving, healthy environment for your fish to live in. Even consider some nitrifying bacteria to help jump start the process.

Lastly, be aware of the kind of food you’re feeding to your fish. Low quality food breaks apart easily and can create more waste. Not to gross you out, but fish aren’t unlike humans in that regard. Healthier food means their bodies use more of it and produce less waste. Bad food is just the fish version of junk food. It’ll keep them going, but it produces a lot more waste. Talk to your local pet store or vendor about some ‘clean’ fish food for your fish. Not only will it produce less waste, but it’ll be healthier too.

Swimming space

The conventional wisdom is that you keep 1 inch of fish for every gallon of water. And then of course, you apply the theory across the board. So if you have a 10 gallon fish tank – then you have 10 inches worth of fish length to put in there. Get a bigger fish that’s 2-3 inches long and well, that counts against your 10 inch rule.

In addition, before you buy a fish, make sure to research tier minimum tank requirements. Just because they’re a certain size doesn’t mean they don’t need more room. It might seem silly, but think of fish like dog breeds. Sure, dogs are all dogs – but the kind of care, space and activity a bulldog needs as opposed to a golden retriever is like night and day. Fish aren’t any different. Some are very active and need a lot of swimming space. Others are fairly sedentary and as long as they have a small patch to hang out in, they’re good to go.

So before you purchase a fish, do your homework!

Aggression

It’s a jungle out there and the final factor you’ll want to consider is how aggressive your fish are. Fish behave differently and this goes along with what we talked about above. Sometimes size and space doesn’t matter – because some fish just wanna fight. Be sure that if you’re looking to add population to your tank, that you figure out what your new neighbors behavior patterns are first.

Fish interact with each other differently. Some species don’t like others and some species really compliment each other well. Just like above – make sure you ask questions and do some research into which fish will thrive in the ecosystem you’ve created inside your tank.

And now that we think of it, that’s an important thing to emphasize. The biggest thing is to remember that your tank is an ecosystem – but one that can change over time. Start small and build it up. Don’t buy a bunch of fish all at once. You may decide over time that you want something different from what you already have. Take your time, learn on your own and just like with any other hobby you have – do your homework! Good luck!

Common aquarium plant issues


Plants are some of the most essential components to your aquarium setup. They help transform what looks like a clear box into a vibrant, underwater environment that can turn any aquarium into the focal point of the room it resides in.

The trouble with these plants however, is that they’re not a ‘set it and forget it’ proposition. These are living plants, after all. And just like the fish who live in your tank, these plants will also need some love and care. And that’s something people struggle with because unlike fish, maintaining a balance inside your tank’s chemical composition can be a challenge and different plants will all react differently depending on the setup. What we’re saying is – there’s a lot of mixing and matching to do and what you think looks sharp – might not fit with your tank and the composition it needs in order for the fish that you have living inside it to thrive. 

If you’re having trouble with your aquarium plans, then today’s blog is for you. Here is a handy list of some of the common problems that tank owners will encounter and what you can do about them so that your plants look as radiant as your fish do. Let’s jump right in!

Yellow leaves

Most plants are green in color and when they turn yellow, well – that’s not good. That means there’s usually a problem. One possible cause is that there isn’t enough light. Make sure that if you decide to grow live plants in your aquarium that you use 3 to 5 watts of light per gallon of water. Light is the remedy, here. That being said, if only the outer edges of the plant are yellowing, then it’s likely a potassium deficiency. Fertilization is the best way to remedy the issue; so make sure you have some fish tank fertilizer on hand as part of your tank supplies. 

Black and brown leaves

Like we said above – aquarium plants need the right nutritional composition in your tank in order to thrive. When they don’t have those nutrients, they begin to show the signs and the blackening and browning of these leaves is just how that shows itself. The best thing you can do is to make sure that you’re changing your water regularly and rebalancing the chemicals in your water. This will prevent things like excess phosphate levels in your tank or excessive algae buildup. Too many tank owners think they can leave water in a tank forever and that’s simply not the case. Water needs to be changed – not only to keep your fish healthy, but the plants that live alongside them as well. 

Low growth

If you’re noticing that your plants are not growing, it’s probably because the water temperature in your fish tank is too low. The only way to fix this is to replace your heater or to add one if you don’t already have enough heat in your tank. That being said – be careful here as it should be your fish who come first with temperature priority. If it’s warmer water you need, then only plant warmer weather plants. Your tank should always maintain a consistently warm temperature in order for the plants inside it to be healthy. 

Holes

Holes in leaves are almost always due to cryptocoryne rot. No one knows what precisely causes this disease, but excess nitrates are frequently a factor. And when certain chemicals spike and others dip, it’s usually due to poor water quality. So just like black and brown leaves – the best way to combat holes in aquarium plants is to consistently and frequently change your water. Also be sure to vacuum your gravel or sand as fish waste can also be a contributor to this issue. 

Using the tips above, you should be able to get a good handle on what’s going on with your fish tank’s plants. In most cases, a thorough water change can do a lot of good, but in other cases you might need to play around with things like fertilizer and the like. The best thing you can do, however – is your homework. Figure out what your actual options are before you experiment and find the best possible fit. Problems with plants arise when people aren’t prepared and are simply going for the aesthetic sizzle of the actual steak. As with anything in life – be prepared!

Cultivating a tank of thriving pants can be a challenge – but it’s most definitely worth it. Good luck!




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