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Is bigger better for beginners with fish tanks?


Hot take time! 

If you’re a beginner when it comes to owning a fish tank – maybe you should consider a bigger tank. Yes, you heard that right.

When most people get into this stuff, they want to nibble. They want to dip their toes in. They want to do the bare minimum in hopes it’s something that we like. But this isn’t putting together model ships or collecting baseball cards. These are living organisms that require care, time and commitment. 

Smaller tanks, while more affordable can create a lot of issues for beginners than they help solve. In fact the only thing they do better is make us feel a little better about the amount of money we spent. But let’s say you have the means to take the plunge? Should you. We think you might want to consider it and here’s why:

Big tanks don’t change quickly

One of the hardest things for beginners to grapple with is water concentration and tank maintenance. When you have a smaller tank, water changes from things like ammonia from waste can change your tank’s environment quickly. In addition, they also have greater stability when it comes to things like the water temperature and pH. Just think about it this way – you can heat up a cup of water more quickly than a large pot of water, right? So if there’s a heater problem, a drastic water chemistry change or a loss of power – you have a much bigger window to both recognize and appropriately address the issue. 

They’re easier on you rookies

Look, we all are well-intentioned and everyone wants to take good care of their fish. However, just like with anything else in life, beginners make mistakes – and sometimes big ones. In bigger tanks for example, food will settle and can cause fluctuations in pH and increased ammonia. Or say you test the water after you’ve added a fish and come to the sudden realization that ‘oops, maybe I didn’t cycle this thing correctly’ – all the madness that comes from that won’t result in you deep-sixing your entire aquarium. Again – more leeway for problems allows you more leeway to fix them.

Hey, it looks pretty good!

Taking all the over the top science, chemistry and everything else and setting it aside for a minute – why are we even doing this to begin with? Because we are interested in fish, want something cool to look at, etc! Bigger tanks mean more space for better plants and decor. Bigger tanks mean you can add more species of fish. And bigger tanks can take a boring room and make it a centerpiece of your home! 

Accountability

Look, let’s just cut to the cheddar, here – if you’re more invested in something financially, you’re more apt to take care of it, engage in the right behaviors and habits and make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment. Smaller tanks are cheaper and sure – the entry fee to get into owning an aquarium is certainly more wallet friendly; but being invested in something will make sure you stay invested. 

If you’re looking for guidance on how you can better manage your aquarium, we’re here to help you out! Give us a call today and we’ll make sure you’re pointed in the right direction! Until then – good luck!

The benefits of having an aquarium in your home


Aquariums have been popular in homes for decades and with good reason. Actually, for many reasons. Reasons we’re going to discuss today. Whether you’re looking for entry level pets or just want something that’ll bring a little more atmosphere to your home, aquariums can provide both and more.

Today, we’re going to unpack why people get aquariums for their home and what they can add to yours. Let’s jump right in!


Less costly than other pets

Now we dive in here pumping the brakes SLIGHTLY because if you want to go absolutely nuts and build something insane when it comes to your aquarium – not only are we not going to stop you, but you absolutely can. Some coy ponds, tank setups and the like can be worth more than small homes.

But by in large and for the most part – owning an aquarium will cost you significantly less than other pets. The up-front costs will be there – filters, bio balls, the tank itself, fish, etc; but over time they’re exceedingly easier to maintain and it comes without the vet visit and subsequent $400 bill. That alone makes them appealing to many.

They’re great for your health

Believe it or not – there’s a lot of scientific research behind people and water and how it can have a substantial impact on your mental and physical health. Like there really is something to people wanting to vacation on the beach as much as they do. But there’s also a reason you’ll see fish tanks at doctor’s offices and the like – they’re soothing. They’re relaxing.

This can do wonders for your blood pressure and stress levels; but for kids – watching aquariums can be mentally very stimulating. They’re also a great talking point when it comes to teaching responsibility, pet ownership, environments, ecosystems and the like.

For those with challenges, it takes the edge off

Just up above we mentioned how you’ll see tanks at hospitals, doctors offices and the like. Fish tanks are great for people struggling with more specific health challenges – from ADHD, high blood pressure and high anxiety – to even Alzheimer’s. Especially in today’s world where it just seems like there’s so many stressors coming from so many directions, an aquarium can certainly help ease that burden.

As you can see – aquariums can add a lot to your home. If you’d like to learn more about where to start or how to get the most out of your aquarium, feel free to give us a call. Until then – good luck!

The three most important things every new aquarium owner should know


For beginners, it can often be overwhelming in terms of understanding what it is you need to do in order to maintain a healthy fish tank. Today, we’re going to help take a little bit of the edge off and discuss some of the primary things every new fish owner should be thinking about when putting their tank together. 

Properly condition your water

Much of your fish’s overall health will be impacted by the condition of the water in your tank. It’s not as simple as turning on a faucet and filling up the tank and splashing your fish inside. Tap water contains a variety of properties and minerals that need to be balanced out. If not, it won’t be healthy enough for your fish. Before you take the plunge, make sure you have a strong talk with your pet store about exactly what kind of water composition you’ll need to have for the fish you wish to purchase. 

  • You’ll want to make sure you’ve got a solid grasp of:
  • The temperature your water needs to be
  • The pH and alkalinity of your water
  • Nitrate levels
  • Frequency of water changes

Selecting your fish

Putting together your first aquarium works two ways: Either you build a tank around the kinds of fish you wish to purchase or you choose the fish who are the best fit for the tank you wish to purchase. Having compatible species is essential. Some fish prefer cold weather, others prefer warm. Some fish need a lot of space to operate, others do not. Some are freshwater fish, some are saltwater. Some are territorial and aggressive and others are good citizens with just about anyone.

Do your research up front. If you’ve got a decent budget – you might want to choose your first option (choosing fish first, tank second). But if you’re working within budget constraints, you may need to consider a specific type of fish for your tank. Either way – do your homework. We 100% recommend that beginners be VERY careful to not bite off more than they can chew!

Maintenance

Owning fish isn’t as easy as just watching ‘em swim around. They require food and feedings. The tanks require regular and routine maintenance. And depending on which fish and what kind of a tank you own – it may impact how much time you’ll have to spend maintaining the entire structure. 

The great thing about owning fish is that there are types of fish for everyone’s energy level. Some are extremely low maintenance and you won’t have to spend eternity constantly changing their water. Some are a little higher maintenance, may produce more waste, etc. Just like when you’re selecting your fish – make sure you do your homework as who is living in the tank will have the greatest impact on how much time you’ll spend maintaining it. 

Also – DO NOT overfeed fish! This is a common mistake and a cardinal rule of owning an aquarium. Fish do NOT need a colossal amount of food in order to thrive. Overfeeding creates algae growth and depletes both the quality of the water and the oxygen in the tank. Maintain a consistent feeding schedule and provide the right amount of food. 

We get it! Being a beginner fish tank owner can be tough and trust us – you’ll 100% make mistakes. But if you stick to these tips and make sure you take your time when picking and choosing what you want to own – that things will go far, far smoother. And as always – if you ever have any questions – give us a call and we’ll be sure to help you out! Until then – good luck!

What we wish we knew before we started fishkeeping


Taking up a new hobby is always an exciting thing and fishkeeping is no different. It’s hard to describe, but the innate appeal of fishkeeping is intangible and hard to explain to others. 

That being said, like anything else – once you get into it, you learn just how much you have to learn and sometimes those learning experiences come about from mistakes and or misconceptions you may have had about something heading in. And all of that is OK! It’s good, in fact – that’s how most of us learn. 

But today, we’re going to talk about some things we all wish we knew before getting into fishkeeping or we suppose more precisely – some things you’ll realize relatively quickly. 

There are so. Many. Fish. 

At first – just figuring out which kinds of fish you want to have is overwhelming. There are large fish, small fish, high maintenance fish, fish that play well with others, fish that don’t play well with others, salt water, fresh water – you name it – there’s a fish. 

But make no mistake about it – your choices will be important. Like when you choose a dog – a dog comes from the same general gene pool. They have differences among breeds, but they almost all come from essentially the same place. Fish do not. Some fish are completely different from other fish and their genetics have never crossed, not even once. 

How certain breeds interact, socialize, eat, swim – it’s all over the place. And you really DO need to put the thought into what you’re willing to handle. Many breeds aren’t a simple feeding every day – they’re extremely involved, high maintenance creatures. So take your time. There’s no rush and make sure you take advantage of all the resources that are out there. 

There’s more expense than you think

Fishkeeping can either be the most cost-effective pets you can have and then turn into the most expensive BY FAR pretty quickly. There’s the up-front startup costs like your tank, fish, plants, substrate, hardscape, filter, lights, heaters, pump, etc. They’re pricey, but they’re one time expenses. 

The hidden cost comes with the maintenance. Food, potential vet bills, utility bills, water bills – believe it or not; your fish will impact all of that. Remember they have certain appliances that run 24/7 in order to keep their communities humming along and those expenses will end up on the ole utility bill. So remember – just be mindful of not biting off more than you can chew. 

Maintenance is more than you expect

Fish tanks are beautiful, but they don’t clean themselves. They can help take the edge off, but you’ll have to pitch in and the quality of the tank will be a direct product of your ability to maintain them. Long story short – you get out of them what you put into them – and even the bare minimum can be a little time consuming. 

Even a small tank will need to have water changes every few weeks, have the glass scrubbed, filters changed, rocks washed, etc. It can be a solid half hour to do this and even for those with a lighter schedule – it can be tough to work up the motivation on the weekend to take care of it. 

Fish tanks are awesome and fishkeeping is wildly rewarding – but it’s not effortless. You must put in your fair share and be willing to keep up with maintenance and the like. You have a lot to learn – so we recommend you keep learning until you’ve got as comprehensive a view of things as possible before taking the plunge. Until then – good luck and if you need help, feel free to give us a call!

Tricks you can use to save on your fish tank hobby


Keeping and maintaining a fish tank is one of the more rewarding hobbies a person can have but let’s not kid anyone, here. It can get pricey in a hurry – especially when you’re starting from nothing. 

And while we’re all very conscientious about not wanting to cut corners, there’s nothing wrong with being creative and finding some ways to save some money. A little here and a little there can make a big difference, not just in your own wallet – but also with your tank as well as resources can be redirected to other areas you might want to improve. 

So today, we’re going to discuss a few money saving tips you can use to help save money on your fish tank. Let’s jump right in!

Getting more out of test strips

Making sure your aquarium is staying balanced chemically is a big part of the overall body of work you put into maintaining your tank. As such, using test strips to get various readings is essential. One trick you can use is to get a very sharp pair of scissors and cut the test strips down the middle so that both halves have all the necessary reagent pads. But cutting them in two – you still get accurate results. Do this with all your test strips and you can actually double the number of tests in a given bottle. 

Not only can this last you longer, but you could also use ti to test more frequently so that you can catch something if it’s off faster. 

The good, ole algae scraper

Believe it or not, while algae scrapers do the best job of doing what they say they do; do you know what else does? An old credit card or gift card! In fact, they’re more than a perfect algae scraper. They’re gentle enough to use on both glass and acrylic tanks and when one side wears down, you can flip it around and use the other edge. The one thing you DO want to be careful of – is that the cards do delaminate after a little while, so don’t use a driver’s license or something like that. But instead of blowing money on algae scrapes, just use those old gift cards.

Cheap rocks

Dragon stone, seiryu stone and other aquarium rocks can be a lot more expensive than people expect. It gets way worse if you have a big tank to fill. With this in mind, it’s not a bad idea to take a trip down to the local landscaping shop and ask them what they’ve got. Do some research online to see which kinds of stones are compatible with a fish tank and go shopping. They’re only around 10 cents a pound, so you might find yourself paying a ⅓ of what you would be otherwise. 

Thinking a little bit outside the box can certainly help save you time, but also help save you some money. We hope you found these tips helpful. If you need help finding the right filtration media for your tank – or have aquarium keeping questions in general, feel free to give us a all today. Until then – good luck!

Four Aquarium mini-hacks that will make your life much easier


Maintaining a fish tank can be a lot of work – especially if you’re new to it. Today, we’re going to share some tips – or more precisely – some hacks that you can use to make maintaining your tank a little bit easier. These will help make it so you spend less time stewing over cleaning your tank and more time enjoying it. 

Let’s jump right in!

Clamps for water changes

Glass safe clamps are a godsend when you’re going water changes. Instead of standing there and aimlessly holding the hose and letting the tank fill, if you purchase a handi-clamp – the clamp can help hold the hose in place so that you can tend to other things. 

The infamous credit card algae scraper

Algae scrapers are pretty much standard issue insofar as maintenance tools go for an aquarium owner. However – some areas are tough to get at, or you need a little bit more of an edge to get the gunk off. Now some people use razor blades and magnetic scrapers – but instead of dealing with sharp objects that might scratch your glass- just use an old debit card/gift card/credit card.

This has become such a popular way of doing things, that they sell things like the Flipper Scraper – which are designed to fit onto cards so you can get to hard to reach areas. Don’t go nuts – just use what you have at your disposal. 

Test tubes and syringes for water testing

Keeping the appropriate chemical balance in an aquarium is essential to the overall health and vitality of your tank. There are plenty of test kits you can buy out there that make running these tests really easy – but the problem is that many of the test tubes they give you are really small, cheap and oftentimes made out of glass. They’re small, easy to misplace and even break with relative ease. 

We recommend just buying a basic set of syringes and 15ml test tubes. You’ll be able to use them over and over again – and the extra roominess will make it so that you’re not making as big of a mess. 

Bio media

Bio media like bio balls are great for helping to maintain the cleanliness and overall health of your aquarium. They’re easy to use, easy to recycle and don’t cost an arm and a leg. There are many types you can use and what you choose will depend largely on the makeup of your aquarium. If you want a well-balanced, clean and healthy tank – purchase some bio media. 

We hope this helps to take a little bit of the edge off of owning an aquarium. If you have any questions about what the best setup is for you, feel free to give us a call today. Until then – good luck!

Common mistakes new saltwater aquarium owners make


The last few months we’ve dabbled in discussing saltwater aquariums a little more than usual – and that’s because – as most of you know – they are a little bit more involved. While telling people what to do is always helpful, there are times where telling them what NOT to do is actually the best route. 

And today – that’s just what we’re going to unpack. Here are some common mistakes new saltwater aquarium owners make and what you should avoid. Let’s jump right in!

Research

Research these days is always tough because it’s hard to know who’s reputable, who’s not, and then, well – there’s just so much noise to tune out all at once. Our advice on research is pretty straight forward: First, don’t just trust one person or community. Try to get a lot of different views – everyone’s experience is different, so you never know what you might learn and/or pick up. 

Second, be careful reading product reviews. Read many of them but also do so understanding that most reviewers usually have a negative experience and many of their experiences are more the exception to the rule rather than the rule itself. 

Third, be on the lookout for owners with a real resume. Not that time spent in the hobby is necessarily a difference maker; but we’re willing to be a guy who’s had an aquarium for 10 years and has a 400 gallon tank probably knows what he’s doing at this point. 

Money

Don’t underestimate the up-front costs of owning a fish tank. It can cost more than you think. It’s not exactly going to drive you to bankruptcy or anything, but most of what you’ll buy, you’ll buy up-front. 

The other thing to understand is that when it comes to aquariums – the most expensive option isn’t always the best. The best product is the product that helps you actually meet your goals as an owner. We don’t recommend that you cheap out, exactly – that’s bad, too; but we think you should consider ‘fit’ more than simple function. 

Livestock

Regardless of what kind of aquarium you have – we’d wager that the biggest mistake owners make is impulse buys. They see a pretty fish or coral and they can’t help themselves. Really, really make sure you do your research on every kind of fish you buy. Saltwater species all interact differently to each other and one bad apple can spoil the cart. We recommend starting small – and gradually adding in more over time. 

Owning saltwater tanks can be a real blast, but as you can see – there can be pitfalls all around us, so being cognisant of what NOT to do, can sometimes be helpful. If you need more guidance or would like some more direction on what to do, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Until then – good luck!

Is it hard to own a Saltwater fish tank?


So to save you the wonder we’ll answer the question succinctly: ‘no.’ It’s really not that hard to maintain a saltwater aquarium but it does take more time and a little more care than their freshwater counterparts entail. Today, there’s lots of quality equipment and support products that you can use that will help make maintaining your saltwater aquarium much easier that simply didn’t exist 15, 20 years ago, so you don’t really have too much to worry about.

That being said – there are a few things you should probably know before you dive in. Let’s get to those:

Take a little more time up front to make a plan

Like we said above – saltwater tanks involve a little more thinking on your end, particularly up-front so you know and are prepared for what’s coming next. Understanding a couple of things about water chemistry will be more important than it would be for a freshwater tank, but the basic principles of keeping these tanks going is the same. 

We think the major key to success is just taking your time and moving slowly -and whatever the costs – stay within your budget. We definitely recommend speaking with someone who’s owned a saltwater tank and try to stick with one or two main sources of advice. Saltwater tanks CAN get complicated at points – but perhaps more precisely you can achieve unexpected and maybe unwanted results if you piece info together from different sources so keep the information flow on your end simple. 

Buying fish

Make sure you do your homework on saltwater fish. They’ll require a slightly more intensive ‘onboarding’ process – as you’ll have to quarantine them before introducing them to your tank and you’ll also want to make sure everyone gets along and is compatible. Not all fish are and even when some are, you can accidentally introduce diseases to your tank from other fish that can have major consequences. We’re not trying to scare you – it’s really not THAT much more intensive with saltwater fish – but just make sure you’re doing your homework. 

Equipment

With freshwater tanks we usually recommend starting small and building up – with saltwater tanks we recommend you start bigger. Saltwater beginners are more prone to making small mistakes early on, and the bigger your aquarium the more stable and forgiving the environment will be. And definitely don’t skimp on gear. Especially with saltwater devices that take more wear and tear over time – we definitely recommend going big. It’s definitely one of those ‘you get what you pay for’ propositions. 

Do I need experience?

While experience always helps, the answer is definitely ‘no.’ But it’ll require a little more of everything. They’re a little more expensive. They take a little more preparation. They take a little more homework. They require a little more maintenance. As long as you have the time and money you can have a wonderful experience.

Three most important things to keep a clean, thriving fish tank


Owning an aquarium not only gives you the chance to own wonderful pets in fish – but also create something that can provide the perfect accent to any living space you have. That being said – whether you’re in it for the pets or in it for the aesthetic pleasure, you must maintain both in order to get what you’re looking for. 

Cleaning your tank is one thing – keeping it clean for as long as possible is another. So we collected what we felt were the three most important ingredients in order to keep your fish thriving and your tank looking great. Let’s jump right in!

Conditioning your water to work

We as humans need air in order to breathe. Not just air though – we need clean, quality air. Now if we’re talking fish? They need water – clean water. While most everyone is going to be using tap water of some sort to fill their tanks – there are a bunch of properties and characteristics of that water – properties and characteristics that need to be managed and cared for so that it’s a clean, healthy, suitable environment for your fish. 

These will usually come in the form of chemicals and supplements. Things  like dechlorinators and biological supplements should be available at your local pet store. Now remember – each aquarium will need different things depending on the fish you’re choosing to live inside that space. Speak to your local pet store representative to find out what the best mix is going to be for you. 

Maintaining pH levels

pH – when you scrape away the particulars – measures the acidity and alkalinity of your fish tank’s water. Keeping them balanced has a whole swath of benefits for a fish tank – but most important is it’ll help your fish resist illness and help to work to keep the tank clean on its own. Having good pH levels will help your tank better produce the positive bacteria you’ll need and kill off more of the bad bacteria. 

Consistency

Whether its sports, investing, business, personal health – anything in life; it’s the people who find consistency in work ethic, routine, and productivity are the ones who rise to the top. And you know what’s amazing about consistency? It seeps into every area of our lives. Even keeping your fish tank clean! Our biggest advice is always this – build it into your schedule. Got time on Sunday between football games? Clean it once a month. We’re all busy – but if you want to get the most out of your tank, this is what you’ll ultimately have to do. Build a schedule and stick to it – that way the water is always where it needs to be and it’ll always look its best! 

We hope you found today’s blog helpful. If you’ve got more questions about keeping your aquarium clean, what filtration media you should use and the like, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help. Until then – good luck!

Why people use bio balls


There’s a lot to sift through when it comes to choosing the best filtration media for your fish tank and lots of way to skin the proverbial cat. However, bio balls have become an extremely popular with tank owners as a way to maintain a healthy aquarium.

The reasons for this are pretty straight forward: there’s nothing complicated about them, they’re affordable and they’re easy to maintain. Today – we’re going to talk about the biggest benefits of using bio balls as your preferred form of filtration media and how they can benefit your tank. Let’s jump right in!

Easy to clean

The thing about bio balls is they never go bad. You don’t have to throw them away, you can reuse them and cleaning them is a breeze. A simple rinse and your media will be good to go again. NOW – there’s a caveat – we don’t want them to ever be TOO CLEAN – many of the bacteria they generate is a net positive for your tank. But you won’t have to worry about racing through packages of filters, changing them out and the like heading forward.

They’re workhorses

Regardless of what kind of tank you have or how big it is – you’re going to generate some bacteria. Some of it is bad for your tank and you’ll need to make sure it’s cleaned. There are other kinds of bacteria that are GOOD for your tank. Bio Balls allows for the growth of a lot of positive kinds of bacteria and their open-ended design actually ends up resulting in a much larger surface area for said bacteria to inhabit. That means a filter that takes up less space, but provides more of it while simultaneously helping you to maintain a healthy environment for your fish.

Ease of use

This one’s going to be short. You can either toss bio balls right into your tank if you’d like. Or – if you’re extremely daring or have an appetite for the exceedingly complex – you can put them in a bag and THEN put them in the tank. That’s literally all you’ve gotta do. That simple.

Is there a downside?

Honestly – if there is one – it’s not very significant. And that usually has to do more with people confusing what their actual purpose is. They’re there for biological filtration only. They provide a home for bacteria. They’re NOT there to remove waste from the water. Bio balls maintain chemical balance – but they’re not there to do absolutely everything. No filtration media does.

But when used effectively – bio balls are a great tool that provide an outstanding benefit to your fish tank. If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to give us a call today and we can walk you through it. Until then -good luck!




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