Why are my tank plants failing?

Some folks really like to use natural plants in their aquarium and to be honest – it’s easy to tell why. The colors pop more, the tank look more natural and in many ways, the plants are good for your tank, too. That being said, sometimes they can be difficult to manage.

When your plants struggle, you’re probably stuck wondering why. Plants aren’t always the most straight-forward organisms and they don’t get any more straight-forward when you put them in a fish tank.

This week, we’ll be exploring that problem. Here are some of the most common reasons that aquarium plants in your tank aren’t thriving as well as some of the things you can do to remedy those issues. Let’s jump right in.

Slow growth

Plants need three things in order to grow: Carbon Dioxide, nutrients and lighting. If you notice your plants are growing fast enough; or that something like the leaves aren’t growing large enough – it’s likely due to one of those three problems. So the first step in resolving the problem with be to address those basic needs.

Yellow leaves

Aquarium tanks are usually green in color and when they begin to turn a different color – particularly yellow- then there’s a strong indication that there might be a significant problem. Yellow leaves occur when they’re not getting enough light. This can usually be resolved by installing a simple full-spectrum bulb that can give your tank 3 to 5 watts of light. The extra light should help significantly with your plant’s growth.

Brown and black leaves

In order for plants to grow the right way, they need a few nutrients to make sure they’re properly balanced. Those key nutrients are potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. If you notice that your plants are turning black and brown, then the best thing you can do is undergo a full water change in order to improve the quality of the water in your tank. First time tank owners especially – think they can simply fill their tank and get away with it. That’s not the case. Water needs to be changed regularly.

Holes in your leaves

Holes in tank plants are caused due to something called Cryptocoryne Rot. This is a disease that while the exact cause is still unknown, scientists believe is caused by excess nitrate in the water. Poor water quality and poor nutrient enrichment also don’t help. The best way to deal with this problem is to take on a full and complete water change. Vacuum and wash your gravel and essentially – start fresh.

Other growth issues

One thing you’ll always want to keep an eye on is your water temperature. Often times, plants can be fickle organisms and a little too warm or a little too cold and your plants can struggle. Always be mindful of your water’s temperature – as it can help you avoid a lot of unnecessary labor and/or money spent on chemicals you might not need.

Hopefully these tips will help you manage any of the issues you might have with plants that don’t want to grow. Be sure to be mindful of what we wrote about today and good luck in getting your tank plants turned around looking beautiful once more.

Tank maintenance for beginners

Keeping an aquarium can be a rewarding experience. Freshwater tanks are inexpensive – both to set up and maintain – and come with a wide range of fish that can live in them.

That being said, you’re essentially building up an ecosystem of animals and plants and figuring out how to balance everything out can be a challenge. Understanding what fish to buy and then what’s needed to maintain them can be a little confusing at first. For first time tank owners, this can be confusing and sometimes a bit contradictory given all the information that’s out there. How do you know where to start?

Today, we’re going to clear it all up. Here are some tips for beginners on how to properly maintain your fish tank. Let’s jump right in!

Cycle your tank before you put the fish in

Cycling a tank is basically taking all the steps necessary to bring water conditions up to the level they should be at. This is something that should always be done before you put the fish in the tank. In fact, we don’t recommend even purchasing a tank and fish on the same day.

Cycling helps promote the growth of healthy micro-organisms within the tank that will help break down waste and keep the water in good condition for your fish to thrive. Some experts even recommend waiting as long as a week before you add fish.

Test your water

So how do you know your water is where you need it to be? Well, we recommend purchasing a water testing kit and it’ll tell you all the different levels of ammonia, nitrates and even the pH of your water. These are all normal, healthy things to have in your tank so long as they’re kept at relatively low levels. If left unchecked – they can build up to unhealthy amounts and it can harm your fish.

Change your water regularly

We recommend removing at least a third of the water every week and replacing it with fresh, clean water. This will help to dilute the chemicals in the water and make the environment healthier for your fish. Not doing this will make it increasingly difficult to keep your water’s chemical parameters where you need them as waste will buildup and pollute the water to the point where it’s unhealthy for the fish. Oh – and don’t forget to purchase a siphon to make sure you’re getting all the gunk out of the bottom of the tank in your gravel.

Don’t overfeed your fish

Trust us when we tell you – it’s really hard to starve a fish. One feeding per day is PLENTY. Good flake food meets most needs but if you have bottom feeders, sinking pellets should probably be on the menu. That being said – don’t feed a fish more than what they’ll eat in a few minutes. Excess food isn’t good for the fish and can lead to disease. But it can also dirty up the tank and throw off the chemical balance. It can also help spike algae levels as well. Long story, short – go with the ‘less is more’ approach.


Hopefully these tips will help you maintain a healthier, cleaner tank early on. Be mindful of things like filtration media as you become more comfortable experimenting with your tank as it can make a significant difference. And of course, if you have questions – feel free to give us a call. Good luck!

Filtration media basics

Whether you own a saltwater or a freshwater tank – maintaining ideal conditions in your aquarium requites a little knowledge about all the different types of filtration media available to you. For most people, they know their desired end result, but struggle with where to start.


Today, we’re going to address that by keeping things fairly basic by discussing the three basic types of filtration media out there: biological, mechanical and chemical – and how they work and what they do for your tank.


Let’s jump right in!


Biological filtration media


When we hear the word ‘bacteria’ we usually think of it as being something bad – but in many cases – there are highly beneficial forms of bacteria out there. These are the bacteria that control the amount of ammonia in a tank by breaking it down naturally.


Live rocks and bioballs are a form of biological filtration media. They allow spaces for this bacteria to grow and do it’s job. Even better – they require next to zero setup or replacement – and often can last the entire lifespan of your tank. All they need – is the occasional cleaning.


Mechanical filtration media


Another component of a healthy, thriving fish tank is an effective mechanical filter. These filters work alongside the biological system to help keep water clean for your fish. Yes, this usually requires a mechanical pump, but it’s usually the accessories within the mechanical filter that do the dirty work.


Filter pads, Filter Floss and Foam Blocks are some of the accessories used alongside mechanical media – and they perform a variety of tasks from sorting out debris to keeping water looking clear and clean.


Chemical filtration media


The final major filtration method that hobbyists use to keep their tanks running in tip top shape is chemical filtration media. Some folks think this is optional – but the reality is – they can really boost the health of your tank and lead to a much smoother, easier experience.


Things like Carbon filters (which remove harmful bacteria in the tank) and resin filters (which focus on cleaning particulate molecules like ammonia, nitrate and organic matter) qualify as chemical filters.


Finding the right filtration media can make a big difference in the overall health and quality of your fish tank. If you’re struggling where to start or would like some advice on what kinds of media would work best for you, then give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Until then – good luck!

Four things you can do to keep your fish happy and healthy


As they say – if you want pets, you need to know how to take care of them.

When it comes to fish – the rules are no different. Owning a fish tank comes with a certain level of responsibility – and consistently maintaining your tank will go a long ways towards not only providing your fish with a happy, healthy home in which they can thrive; but can also save you a whole plethora of headaches down the road such as sick fish, clogged filters and the like.

Today, we’re going to share with you some tips you can use to keep your fish tank happy and healthy well into the future. Let’s jump right in!

Room to roam

Always be mindful of your tank’s population. Overcrowding is an issue largely because it can lead to low oxygen levels in the water. In addition, you could develop an overabundance of waste, which can clog filters and adversely impact the quality of your aquarium’s water. Always be mindful to talk to your pet specialist to find out what your tank’s capacity is relative to the fish who will inhabit it.

Consistent water changes

You should be changing 25% of your tank’s water once a month. Not only will this help keep your tank clean, but it will also help maintain nitrate concentrations at safe levels. Also be sure to use a gravel vacuum to help you get to waste and other debris hidden at the bottom of the tank.

Maintaining water temperature

Changes in water temperature can have catastrophic effects on aquarium fish. Maintaining consistent temperature is vital to the health of your tank and it’s important to place your tank in places where said temperature can stay consistent. That means not placing the tank next to heating or air conditioning vents, windows where there’s lots of sun or places where there’ no light at all. Drastic changes in temperature can kill your fish so be diligent in doing everything you can to maintain consistency.

Cleaning the side of the tank

While green is good in some cases, it’s not always the case when it comes to your fish tank. Algae buildup not only looks bad – but it can deplete oxygen and create some pretty unhealthy conditions for your fish. Not only is algae bad for your fish – it can also cause issues with plants in your tank as well. When left unchecked, it will rob plants and fish of much needed oxygen.

The good news is – algae is pretty easy to combat. In addition to the many tools you can purchase at a pet store – using a simple scrub brush and elbow grease can go a long way towards eliminating the excess algae in your tank.


With a healthy and well-managed tank, you’ll enjoy many hours of watching your fish grow and thrive in their home. Follow these tips – and you’ll enjoy your tank for years to come.

Five common mistakes first time aquarium owners make

Owning a fish tank for the first time can be a pretty rewarding experience, overall – but if you aren’t careful about certain things – you can accidentally cause a lot of damage.

With that in mind, this week’s blog is all about some of the common mistakes new tank owners make when they get into having an aquarium for the first time as well as some of the things that you can do to make sure you avoid them. Let’s jump right in!


Without a doubt – the biggest beginner mistake is overfeeding their fish. It’s hard to know when your fish are hungry and in many cases, they always appear to be hungry. And true to life, if you feed your fish – they will keep eating. That being said, too much food produces a ton of waste and can badly mess up the nitrogen cycle.

When you start your tank, only feed your fish once per day. This will keep waste to a minimum and leave you with a much cleaner, healthier fish tank.

No biological filtration

We’re partial to this because of our bio balls – but it’s the truth. Airstones and a pump are simply not enough to keep your water clean. You should always have some sort of biological filter present so that it can grow beneficial bacteria that is crucial to your fish staying alive.

Not enough water changes

The general rule of thumb is to change 15% of your tank’s water each week. Beginners frequently neglect this and think that it’s possible to get away with less change over. That’s simply not the case. Water changes are a vital ingredient towards keeping your aquarium healthy. Especially early on it’s important to make sure you’re not scrimping on your water changes.

Cheaping out on filters

Most aquarium start up kits come with filters that simply aren’t strong enough for the tanks that they’re in. Most will only turn the water over a few times an hour and not only is this simply not adequate to keep the tank clean, it can be very unhealthy for your fish. Filters are an essential component of any tank and you shouldn’t cheap out on it. Always be on the lookout for a filter that turns water over at least 4 times per hour.

Too many fish

Adding too many fish too quickly can seriously destabilize your water chemistry and mess up the overall composition of your tank. We don’t recommend adding any more than 3 fish at a time to your tank and wait until your nitrogen as cycled through a time or two before adding more.


If you’re an aspiring aquarium enthusiast and have questions about how to set up your tank, feel free to give us a call and we’re happy to give you a free consultation. Until then – try to avoid these mistakes and you should find your fish will be much better off because of it. Good luck!

Choosing an aquarium filter: Where to start

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introducing fish to a new tank

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

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


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


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

Getting them used to the tank

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


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

Rest and relaxation

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

Devil’s in the details

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

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

Getting the most out of a 10 gallon tank

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.

Appropriate filtration

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!

Fish species that help keep your tank clean

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

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.

Bristlenose Plecos

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!

What makes bioballs so great

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

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

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

Easy to clean

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

Long lasting

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


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?

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