If you’re the owner of an aquarium, then the chances are at some point you either have or have had a 10-gallon tank. After all, it’s the most popular fish tank in the US year in and year out. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned vet just looking to add on a little something extra, you want to get the most out of your tank.
That being said, doing that right off the bat with a 10-gallon tank can be a challenge. Part of the reason it’s the highest selling tank in the US is because it’s often bundled with equipment and sold as a package. Many of those components are cheaper or are of a lower quality – largely to keep the price of the tank package down. With the equipment being of lower quality, you’ll inevitably have to make some upgrades if you want to get the most out of your tank.
Here are some things you can do to get your tank up to speed. Let’s jump right in!
Upgrade the lighting
Many of today’s tanks have built in LED lights. While this is great if your only concern is to light up the aquarium, it falls short in a lot of other areas. Biting the bullet and upgrading to an aftermarket LED light will not only make your fish look incredible, but it will help to grow live plants in the tank if you have them.
Built-in filtration systems are usually chronic under-performers when it comes to actually keeping your tank clean. In a 10-gallon tank you’ll want something with slower water flow and filtration media like bio balls that can help not only collect fish waste, but also work to break down toxic chemicals like ammonia so your fish aren’t harmed.
Getting chemicals correct
If there was ever something that consistently overwhelms first time owners, it’s the sheer number of chemicals that can go into aquarium water. You’re going to need some essentials like dechlorinator but you’ll also want to consider things like bacteria additives, plant fertilizers and medications. What your specific tank will depend on a few things, but feel free to ask your local vendor what’d be best.
OK, so this isn’t technical and it’s mostly a no-brainer; but this is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? Isn’t this why we’re doing this? And trust us – it can be a lot of fun to decorate your aquarium and certain choices can make a big aesthetic difference. That being said – there are some low-key practical benefits to be had as well; for example – fresh plants can actually help fight bacteria. But of all the ‘upgrades’ you can make – nothing else checks all three boxes of improving your aesthetic, providing a practical benefit while being fun for the tank owner like dressing up your aquarium.
Our parting advice is to simply make sure that whatever you do to your tank, that you do your homework. Like we’ve said multiple times in this post and in our blog – fish tanks are custom even when they aren’t. What works, what you needs are – all that depends on a bunch of competing factors that you’ll have to wade through.
Still, enjoy your tank and all that goes along with it. Good luck!
This month we figured we’d switch gears up a little bit and instead of talking about our usual bulkhead fittings and bioballs – we’re going to talk about some of the fish that can help you get the most out of both!
These species are prime algae eaters and can help take the edge off carrying the workload for your bioballs and other filtration media. Not only are these fish good eaters and great helpers; but they also get along well with their other fish friends and are super easy to take care of. Let’s jump right in!
Amano Shrimp are very active and very entertaining and remain a very popular choice for tank owners who want fish with a healthy appetite for algae. And if we’re being honest, here – these shrimp don’t just stop at algae. They’ll eat dead plant material and leftover food as well – making them the clean freaks of any fish tank.
Just be a little careful as they tend to get picked on and eaten by bigger fish, so keep them with populations of smaller fish with friendly dispositions.
These guys are popular with tank owners because they look… different. They have funny looking heads and noses and have an odd shaped, stout body that can grow to be as big as 15cm long. They come out at night, eat up a lot of the green stuff and then take to hiding during the day. They get along with almost everyone so as long as there’s dark substrate and a nice shelter at the bottom of your tank – they’ll be pretty happy fish.
Siamese Algae Eaters
Siamese Algae Eaters are among the most popular tank fish in the world and with good reason- they eat everything, look funny, look great and help tanks keep clean. Most of all- they get along with everything – even edgier fish – making them an incredibly versatile species.
They do come with a few surprises thought – most of which being that they’re hyper sensitive to pH levels in tanks. Ask your local provider what the ideal levels would be. Second, they jump! That’s right – you need to be careful because they’ll jump clean out of a tank. Be careful and don’t tempt fate!
If you’re thinking about investing in one of these species, we recommend you do so as they make great additions to your community. That being said – it’s important to remember that they can’t survive on just algae alone. You’ll need to supplement their diets with food and other goodies so they can live long, comfortable lives. Good luck!
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!
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.
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?
While we’re usually dealing with folks who really know their stuff when it comes to bulkhead fittings and fish tanks, we do get folks who are new to it all, or just getting their bearings as they venture into the realm of being an advanced aquarist.
For those of you who fit the description above, then today’s blog is for you! Today, we’re going to be discussing the absolute basics about bulkheads and bulkhead fittings. You’ll learn about what they are, what they’re made up of and what you should be looking for when you buy one. Let’s jump right in!
What they are
Bulkhead fittings are designed to allow for the drainage of one water (or liquid source) through a specific hole in said source. In our case, this would be an aquarium. The bulkheads create a seal that helps prevent water from leaking out and allows you to quickly remove the water whenever it needs to be cleaned or replaced. There are a wide range of different types of bulkheads that you can use in a tank depending on what your specific need might be.
The basic components
Bulkheads are made up of three main parts. There’s the body, the gasket and the nut. The body possesses both the interior and exterior threads. The gasket which fills the spaces between two surfaces. The last part – the nut – sits up against the gasket and presses into it to create the seal.
What to look for
There are several factors to consider when you’re purchasing a bulkhead fitting. First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure you’re purchasing the right sized thread and the size of the fitting itself. These things tend to be precise, so you’ll want to discuss this with a professional. Most dealers will be able to help you without an issue.
The last thing is understanding the piping and the material you’re going to be using for the fitting itself. Bulkheads come in a variety of makes – all with differences in both quality and strength – so you’ll want to buy material that will be able to balance your needs with longevity and durability.
For any significant and expanded aquarium – bulkhead fittings are a must. Hopefully this guide will give you a starting point. Speaking of that, we’re sure this will leave you with questions as well, so feel free to reach out to us at any time and we can help you get started. Good luck!
Although we usually save the meat and potatoes of this blog for beginners, we’re sure there are a few of you advanced acquarists out there – or perhaps even aspiring acquarists out there who are ready to take on a project that is a little bit more difficult.
While not too complicated, bulkhead installation can be a little intimidating for folks the first time around and as such, we’ve put a few tips together for you first timers to go by. Some things about installing bulkheads and bulkhead fittings can be a little confusing or even counter-intuitive, so we figured we’d help you navigate through the obvious. Let’s jump right in.
Always be sure to try and install bulkheads clean and dry. That means it’s probably a good idea to stay away from things like silicone, Teflon or thread lubricants. These substances often prevent bulkhead fittings from not sealing properly. The rubber vulcanization will work just fine. Over time it’ll act as a perfect seal, just like it would on a car or automobile.
Do a little cleaning
Before you install your fitting, it’s a good idea to take the time to take a file or pocket knife and try to clean off any excess flashing in both the male and female threads on the flange and nut. This is an area of a bulkhead that is often a source of leaks, so making sure the two sides are sealed properly is important.
Stay away from the outside of the bulkhead
Even though it might look inviting, it’s almost always a bad idea to screw anything into the external threads on a bulkhead. These are NOT standard tapered pipe threads and they WILL leak. They are simply there to screw the nut on. That’s it.
Always the flange side.
Always try to install a gasket on the flange side of your bulkhead. Never, ever install it on the nut side. Doing so leads to leaks largely due to the fact that the water in the tank will travel along the threads of the bulkhead and around the gasket. Make sure you tighten it up, then give it a quarter to half turn in addition and no more.
Hopefully, these tips help and we hope that this goes well for you the first time through. If you make a mistake – don’t fret! Just call a professional. In most cases, they’ll be thrilled to come over and not only help you work out of a jam, but also someone who appreciates what they’re doing. So don’t be afraid! Good luck!
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 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.
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 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.
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!
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!
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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!
Regardless of anything you do that’s worth your time, you’re bound to come across some problems from time to time and while we wish things were different – aquariums aren’t all that much different. Today, we’re going to talk about some of the most common problem tank owners come into contact with and how some of it can be overcome.
Most of the major problems are caused by clarity, color and smell – and all of them can be solved. With the right mix of filtration media and bioballs, you can get your tank back to being crystal clear in no time!
Here are some of the most common issues you’ll encounter. Let’s jump right in!
If you have fish in any setting, you’re bound to deal with at least a little green water now and then. Water turns green when there is too much algae suspended in the water. This usually happens because there’s either an excess of sunlight – or more commonly – a surplus of necessary nutrient at their disposal.
Your run of the mill clarifier should take care of the problem – but when used in consort with the right filtering media, you shouldn’t have to worry about dealing with green water on an ongoing basis. If this doesn’t work, then you might have a bigger problem on your hands and you’ll have to do some leg work in order to find out where the source of the algae is.
Anytime you have a tank with a lot of fish in it, it’s bound to get a little smelly from time to time. If you come across this issue on an ongoing basis, then it likely stems from one of two issues: You either have too many fish or your tank is too small. The quick, albeit expensive choice is to simply buy a bigger tank. But in practical terms, you probably don’t need to.
The likely source of the issues comes from active carbon – and making sure both your chemical balance and filtering media are in good, working order. The other issue often comes from simply giving your fish too much food – and that odor is just coming from all the decomposing food resting at the bottom of the tank.
High ammonia levels
Ammonia is toxic to fish, therefore it’s imperative that you keep it at sustainable levels. Ammonia levels usually spike with a fish dies or when there’s an excess of decomposing food at the bottom of the tank. This can be fixed with a water change that’s equal to the same pH as the aquarium. You should also change the ammonia eliminator as well. Make sure that you’re testing the chemical composition regularly as sometimes swings can happen out of nowhere.
Maintenance is the solution to everything
At the end of the day, most to all of these problems can be avoided by simply keeping up on your tank’s regular maintenance. That means partial changes of water, cleaning your gravel and crystals as well as providing your weekly dose of beneficial bacteria and insuring that you’re using the right filtering media. Do that and you should be in pretty great shape. Good luck!
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.
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!