Aquarium maintenance in the winter

The old adage of ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ comes to mind when it comes to maintaining your aquarium. Aquariums are closed environments and because of that, you need to constantly be making sure that things are running as they should.

The winter months in particular carry with them a little added importance as even in warmer climates like ours here in Florida, the air dries out and bacteria in general finds the conditions for growing and reproducing to be much more appealing.

Here are some winter aquarium maintenance tips that can help keep your tank running as it should through the colder, drier season and give it a great shot to have an even stronger spring.

Water Changes

One of the most important things a tank owner can do is change the water in the winter every two weeks or so. A good standard to go by is about 10-15% of your tank’s volume should work just fine. You’ll want to vacuum the gravel, eliminate uneaten food and other residue that makes its way into the bottom of your tank that causes grime and harmful bacteria.

Test your water

Testing tank water is sometimes one of the most challenging maintenance tasks for a new tank owner to undertake. Water chemistry isn’t visible, so it’s something you simply need to be vigilant about on a more ongoing basis.

A great time to test your water is during the water change we discussed previously. You’ll want to make sure everything is balanced and checks out – from the tank’s pH, nitrates, nitrites and carbonate hardness. All of these chemicals can be purchased at most local pet stores so if you have questions on how to use them, simply ask someone at the store to walk you through it.


The filter is both the lungs and heart of your tank. Not only does it help keep bad bacteria out, but it helps grow and maintain good bacteria that’s essential to the overall health of your tank.  Filter media should be changed at least every four weeks and if you have a lot of fish, perhaps even more frequently than that.

Keeping on your tank in the winter is vital in the winter when the weather is a little colder, a little dryer and there’s more room for bacteria and other bad stuff to thrive. Like we said before, ask people at your local pet shop if you’re unclear on some of the maintenance you need to do or what kind of equipment you might need. Good luck!

Four benefits of bio balls

To some people, bio balls are just small, plastic balls that sit in your tank, but the reality is that they’re so much more than that. When used properly, they provide users with a powerful biological filtration system for your aquarium.

One of the biggest advantages to bio balls is that unlike a lot of other tank-related media, they’re almost completely uncomplicated and are very easy to maintain. Here are some of the benefits of using bio balls in your tank and why you should consider them for your aquarium.

Easy to clean

Just like anything, bio balls can become clogged over time, but they’re very easy to clean. A simple rinse and your bio ball will be ready to go again! They may get dirty, but they never go bad!

Easy heavy lifting

In every fish tank, there’s good and bad bacteria. Good bacteria converts ammonia into nitrate and that good bacterium makes its home in bio balls. While the open-ended design of bio balls might make you think it’s for aesthetic reasons, it’s actually not. There’s a method to it all and in fact, it serves an important purpose as it increases the surface area of each ball. Bacteria likes to cling to the surface of objects, so the design of the ball simply provides bacteria with additional parking.

Easy to use

Depending on the design of your filter, bio balls simply go in a bag or a space and then you submerge them in the tank. That’s literally the only thing you have to do! It’s hard to get that much benefit from something with so little work to do on your end!

What’s the downside?

The truth is – there isn’t much downside to bio balls as tank media at all. However, people do mistake their purpose and expect them to do things they’re not supposed to. Bio balls are to be used for biological filtration only. They’re designed to house bacteria, NOT trap and remove waste from water.

Your filter should be in place before bio balls in your system so that it can catch waste before it reaches your bio balls. So while bio balls are fantastic for maintaining chemical balance in your tank – remember that they’re not there to do everything.

When used effectively, bio balls are an outstanding form of biological filtration. If you’re interested in how they can make a difference in your tank or would like to purchase them – give us a call today!

What’s better: Bio balls or ceramic rings?

One of the most common questions we receive is whether our customers should choose bio balls or ceramic rings for their aquarium. While we obviously have our biases, the answer isn’t always black and white. Both of these filters are designed to perform differently and that’s necessary to understand.


Before we get into that, however – it’s important to know the two types of bacteria that these two filters are designed to clean out. The first is nitrifying bacteria that eats ammonia and nitrates. Most of the time you’ll find them on the surfaces of your aquarium. The second type is called denitrifying bacteria – and they do what they say they do – which is eat nitrates.


Bio balls only eradicate nitrifying bacteria, while ceramic noodles can do both.


Now – we know you’re probably thinking 1+1=2, here. That because ceramic noodles can carry both that they must be better. But this isn’t a ‘one or the other’ kind of thing. Ceramic noodles are designed to do more things, so they do. What bio balls do well however, they do really, really well.


Ceramic rings basically increase their surface over time. This happens because they have small pores that aren’t visible to the human eye. Those pores are where bacteria and other baddies make themselves at home. What can happen in many cases – is that they can become clogged easier than bio balls and especially in tanks where there is no real mechanical filtration – and this can cause problems.


When this happens, filtration becomes less effective and eventually you’ll find yourself having to replace your ceramic rings. Conversely, Bio Balls require about 20% of the maintenance and don’t need to be cleaned or replaced nearly as much.


Now, what should also be noted is that Bio Balls shouldn’t be seen as a panacea for all your filtration needs. Bio balls should only be used for biological filtration only. They simply exist to trap and remove waste. Ceramic rings will ultimately trap more bad stuff, but your bio balls will ultimately do a better job of denitrifying bacteria.


To get the most out of your Bio balls, you should always have your other filtration systems in place to catch waste before you depend on the bio balls, themselves. With that in place; between your filter and bio balls, you should be able to radically reduce the number of nitrates in your tank.


Four common uses for bulkhead fittings

Bulkhead fittings are extremely useful not only for what they are actually intended for, but for many other, more improvised ways as well. The most common use is for attaching things like pipes, taps and outflows, and the like, or even waste pipes – but people have found many uses for them over the years outside of the usual intended use.

Here are some ways they’re used and how they can help. Let’s jump right in!


People use bulkheads in aquariums by drilling holes into the base of the tank- allowing them to drain water more seamlessly. If you’ve ever seen some of those deluxe aquariums in hotels or storefronts, they’re usually outfitted with bulkheads to make maintenance both easier and faster.


Coy ponds are a popular fixture in today’s garden and are almost always outfitted with some sort of bulkhead. This allows for easy drainage that allows for whomever is maintaining the pond to add in cleaner water easier and more often. Coy fish need clean water to survive and this makes the process of providing them with that even easier.

Large liquid containers and its transportation

Anytime you see a big barrel, chances are they are being outfitted with bulkheads. Not only does it make it easier to empty liquid – but it makes it easier to seal containers as well. In addition, many of the trucks that transport these materials also have them installed, as it makes things easier in the event of an accident or spill to rid the vehicle itself of any potentially hazardous materials.

Hydronic systems

Any sort of water heater you have uses bulkhead fittings to seamlessly circulate water through pipes, into holding tanks and into heating areas. In these particular applications, they come in a variety of materials ranging from PVC to brass, metal and other materials. When it comes to heating pipes, you’ll most likely encounter brass fittings.

The type of bulkhead fitting you come across or need will largely be dependent on how the bulkhead fitting will be used. To learn more – or if you need one for your application, give us a call and we can help find a solution for you.


Installing bulkheads on your own

In their simplest form – bulkheads allow air and liquids to pass through the wall of a tank or aquarium. Where and how the fluids get there can change a bit from time to time, but that’s the general gist.

Usually when it comes to our products, we recommend that you get a professional to help install them – but inevitably we always come across some eager, ambitious and capable Do-it-yourselfers who want to give things a go on their own.

Here are some things you need to do and know if you’re planning on installing bulkheads on your own.


Make sure your bulkheads are clean

Make sure that you install your bulkheads cleanly and in dry conditions. That includes not using silicone or some sort of threading lubricant. Specifically with regards to silicone and lubricants – they can cause the gasket to slip out and not seal properly. Any installation should be completely dry.


Finding other sources of leaks

Take a few minutes using a file, nail file or a pocket knife to do some cleanup on the threading. Clean off any excess flashing – and be sure to do it on both the male and female threads. Be sure to cover the entire component, too – from the gasket-mating surface to the flange and the nut. This is a common source of leaks in bulkheads.

You absolutely MUST…

…Install the gasket on the flange side of the bulkhead – never on the nut side. If you install the gasket next to the nut it will lead to leaks as water will simply travel along the threads around the gasket and leak out of your tank. Don’t be afraid to hand tighten a little bit – but don’t go with more than a ¼ or ½ turn additional.

Be wary of using supports and external elements

Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to support pumps and piping from a bulkhead. Instead – use the supports in a way so that weight is not on bulkheads and gaskets and causing undue stress on the mating surfaces.

Also – never screw anything into the external threads of a bulkhead. They are not standard threads and they will leak.

Bulkhead Fittings Used in Manufacturing

If you are manufacturing tanks, including aquariums, you may be using one or more bulkhead fittings. As you know, these allow air or liquids to pass through the wall of a tank.

Bulkhead fittings have many applications in the construction and use of various types of tanks. They come is these sizes:

  • 3/4 inch
  • 1 inch
  • 1 1/2 inch
  • 2 inch

At JT Enterprises, we manufacture bulkhead fittings and sell them wholesale to manufacturers and retailers. If you’re looking to buy just one, or a few bulkhead fittings, we are not the place to go.

If you need lots of bulkhead fittings, at rock-bottom prices, you should contact us today.


Bulkhead Fittings – ABS versus PVC

There are two kinds of bulkhead fittings; PVC and ABS. PVC is short for “Poly Vinyl Chloride” and ABS is short for “Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene”. Here are some of the differences;

  1. ABS plumbing is easier to install than PVC
  2. PVC is flexible; ABS is tough
  3. ABS has a higher impact strength than PVC
  4. ABS is cheaper than PVC
  5. PVC contains Bisphenol A (BPA) – ABS does not

In 2008, BPA made some news you may recall. Where the Food and Drug Administration had considered BPA safe before, but by 2010 it expressed concern about possible effects it may have on the health of children. See more here – Web MD.

Here at JT Enterprises, our bulkhead fittings are all ABS type and  contain zero BPA.

What are Bulkhead Fittings?

Bulkhead fittings are designed to allow liquids to flow through solid walls of a tank or other container. The fitting is made with three basic parts; the body, a lock nut, and a gasket.

The Body of the bulkhead fitting is threaded to fit the lock nut and has one end flanged out larger than the threaded part. The gasket goes between the body and the lock nut, to seal the fitting and prevent liquid from leaking.

To use a bulkhead fitting, one needs to drill a hole slightly larger than the outside diameter of the threads on the body part. The body with its gasket is placed through the wall of the tank or container, and the lock nut is tightened to seal the opening.

With a bulkhead fitting in place, you may now have liquids flowing in or out of the container in a convenient manner and without leaks.

Bulkhead Fittings for Aquariums

bulkhead fittings



One of the main uses for bulkhead fittings is in aquariums. When you need to have a tube pass through the wall of an aquarium, a bulkhead fitting is needed to seal the tank and prevent leakage. For those who need only one or a few such fittings, there are many places to buy them online.

For companies that sell bulkhead fittings, or use them in the construction of aquariums, JT Enterprises in Holiday, Florida, has the best deal for buying them in larger quantities. JT Enterprises actually manufactures these parts locally and sells only to the wholesale market.

If you need some tips on how to install a bulkhead fitting in an aquarium or other tank, there are many helpful videos now on YouTube. Click this link to watch videos on how to install your bulkhead fitting: YouTube Videos – Bulkhead Fitting Installation Tips.

Questions from readers: Shipping

Questions from readers. My business is in Europe,  can we still buy from you?

Yes you can, however it is going to be more complicated.  Due to past bad experiences with fraud, we only accept wire transfers transactions for business. We can’t accept credit cards or PayPal.

You must also have your own freight forwarder or pick up. We will ship to a freight forwarder as long as it is in the continental United States. After we ship to the forwarder, we cease any responsibility for the shipment.

Thank you for your interest.

Have any questions about Bulkhead Fittings or BioBalls?

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