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The benefits of live plants in your aquarium


If we’re totally honest, there’s just something that hits a little different about the look and feel of a planted aquarium. The look is great and there can be numerous benefits for your tank. 

Today, we’re going to discuss some of the benefits associated with using live aquarium plants and why they might be best for your tank. Let’s jump right in!

Natural filtration

We talk about bulkhead bio balls and all sorts of filtration media on this blog, but perhaps the best chemical balancer of all are natural plants. They help remove potentially toxic waste like nitrates as well as filtering out waste excreted by fish. This leads to a far healthier, vibrant looking environment.

Reduced algae

Cleaning algae will be a consistent, persistent problem that you’ll encounter as a tank owner – no matter how large or small your aquarium is. Live plants (particularly stem plants) do a great job of limiting its spread as they frequently will out-compete the algae for the nutrients it needs in order to grow and spread. The other immediate benefit for the owner is that means you’ll spend significantly less time on maintaining your tank – which is always a good thing!

Happy fish

Real live plants help fish feel more at home and in addition to a gorgeous, vibrant aesthetic appeal; fish will be a whole heck of a lot happier. Plants provide fish with security, places to hide, and contribute greatly to their overall health. The more similar your tank and plants are to the natural biome of the fish, the more stable the ecosystem you’ll have. 

Aeration

We often use mechanical bubblers to increase oxygen levels in a fish tank. With plants, that’s not a concern as they add more oxygen to the tank than any bubbler could. Oxygen is critical to the overall health and well-being of your fish. 

Some things to keep in mind

Live plants need food. There are a wide range of plant food options for you to choose from, but just like your fish, you’ll have to feed your plants. In addition – certain species of fish may feed on particular plants – so keep that in mind when considering what kinds of plants to purchase. In addition – you may need to invest in some special lighting or have regular access to sunlight. Your plants need light in order to flourish!

As you can see – live plants provide a wide-range of benefits to not only the aesthetic appeal of your tank, but it’s actual health as well. If you have questions or have never used live plants in a fish tank before and don’t know where to start – give us a call and we’ll be happy to give you some advice. Until then – good luck!

Fish Tank New Year’s Resolutions


As we progress through the holiday season, it’s the usual ‘out with the old and in with the new’ as they say – and pretty soon it’s going to be a brand new year. And along with the new year, we’ll get plenty of people’s New Year’s Resolutions on everything from health, diet, working out, career – you name it. 

This month, we’ve got some ideas for some resolutions when it comes to keeping your fish happy and healthy. Let’s jump right in!

Become more consistent with your maintenance

And not just more consistent – but also more organized. Whether it’s tracking your water chemistry or making sure you’re being diligent in your cleaning efforts every 2-3 weeks – there isn’t much that you can do that’s better for your fish than keeping the environment they live in as clean and well maintained as possible. 

Keep an eye on the food you feed your fish

This isn’t so much a ‘make sure they’re eating healthy;’ thing so much as it’s to be mindful of how much you feed them and when. The old saying with fish is to feed them little and often. Just a tiny bit each day is enough. Over feeding can lead to a whole host of issues; worst of which is cloudier, dirtier water that can have an adverse effect on your fish tank’s overall health.

Do a deep clean – inside and out

Once a year it’s always good to really go for the deep ball on your aquarium clean. Change out the gravel. Look at some new filtration media like bulkhead bio balls. Maybe consider adding in some real plants to help combat the algae in your tank. But also – it’s a great time to get the area around your tank straightened out too. 

Wires can get tangled. The outside glass and top of the aquarium can gather dust. Sometimes water that gets spilled while you’re cleaning your tank can seep into the carpet or area around and cause some odors. Be sure to clean the whole area around the tank and give yourself that nice ‘reset’ once a year. 

Commit to getting a little smarter

Being an aquarist is one of those things where the more you learn, the more you learn that you know way less than you ever thought possible. So take the time to learn more. Read books. Check out and follow some blogs. See what the pros are doing. There’s some great stuff out there that can not only save you time and money – but lead to a significantly healthier aquarium as well. 

We hope you found today’s blog helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call! In the meantime, have a very happy, healthy and safe 2024!

Tips for freshwater fish keeping beginners


More often than not, when people get into fishkeeping – freshwater fish are usually what they start off with. And to be honest – that’s the correct choice. Saltwater fish are incredible – but you’re probably better off going with freshwater fish as you wade into the world of fishkeeping. 

Today, we’re going to share some basic tips with you on how to best care for freshwater fish. They’re a little lower maintenance – and if you stick to these rules – you should find yourself enjoying a healthy, thriving tank. Let’s jump right in!

Get the right size tank

You’ll probably hear a lot of people argue about which is best, but we kinda come down on the whole idea that a little bigger is a little better for beginners. Why? Well the bigger your tank, the higher the water volume. You might think that means ‘more to care for’ but it actually doesn’t. 

More water means it’s easier to stabilize the water chemistry in your tank and provides you with more space in your tank for your fish to live in. This not only helps you grapple with one of the more challenging aspects of beginner fishkeeping (water chemistry) but also gives you more leeway in terms of what kinds of fish you can put in the tank. Yeah- water changes will take a little longer and you’ll pay a little more up-front- but it’s worth the extra scratch. 

Compatibility

Not all fish are created equal. Not only do different species have different needs in order to thrive – not all species play nice together. Make sure when you’re researching which fish to get – you consider their behavior, size and water requirements. And as always – never bite off more than you think you can chew. 

Keeping balance – food and chemistry

Like we said above – keeping water chemistry is a bit of a challenge for users early on. Fish can be very sensitive to a change in water chemistry so keep yours clean and clear. Regular changes, proper filtration and testing will allow you to do this. 

Also – keeping a sound, balanced diet can go a long way to not only having healthier fish, but also a cleaner, more balanced tank. Different species have different needs, so make sure you know what to feed and just how much. Also – be careful not to overfeed. This can lead to both health problems and poor water quality. 

Decorate

Don’t forget why you’re doing this. Get some visual aesthetic and enjoyment by decorating the tank! Also – more decorations are great for your fish as well as it provides them with hiding places, homes and territory they can call their own. 

Following these tips and tricks can create a healthy, thriving underwater environment for your fish and also get you off to as solid a start as possible. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a shout! Until then – good luck!

More ways to save money with your aquarium


Fishkeeping is an awesome hobby but anyone who really gets into it will be the first to tell you – it’s not a cheap hobby! In fact, things can pile up from time to time and let’s be honest – we’re always looking for ways to save a little here and there. 

Every few months around here we like to drop a blog like this, so that you can learn how to make your money go a little bit further when it comes to your fishkeeping hobby. So today, we’re going to share some cost-saving tips that can help you put your money to better use elsewhere or somewhere else in your fish tank, itself. Let’s jump right in!

Hardscaping the easy way

There are all sorts of hard scape options out there – from dragon stone to seiryu stone – and truth be told you won’t really go wrong choosing any of them – but if you’re looking to save a few bucks, we 100% recommend looking at some alternatives.

If you go down to your local landscaping store – you’ll likely be able to find landscaping rocks for outdoor spaces in abundance – and instead of paying $60 for hardscape materials – you could be paying more in the 10 cents-20 cents range per pound. Not bad! Just be sure if you decide to go this route that you wash off the rocks thoroughly once you get them home so you can move all the dirt and debris. Once that’s done though – you’re good to go! 

Two foods for the price of one

Gel food – learn about it, learn to love it. So when you normally buy fish food – you get some food that floats so top dwellers can eat – and then there’s food that sinks – and that’s for bottom dwellers. Gel food quite literally allows you to switch things up depending on what species you keep. It both floats and descends and often ends up coating plants and the surfaces at the bottom of your tank and makes it easier for bottom dwellers to reach it. It also makes it so that you don’t have to do as many feedings – as the fish can graze on it during the day. It’s also a lot cleaner than other forms of food as well – meaning your water won’t look gross after a week or two. 

Stick to easy species

While we all have a flair for the exotic, beginner friendly plants and fish don’t cost and arm and a leg to maintain. And less maintenance means more money in your pocket. Check out a few of our past blogs if you’re looking for a few species of fish that might fit this description. 

DIY equipment and accessories

So many of the things we buy to maintain tanks are just us paying extra for the manufacturer, wholesaler and seller so they make a profit – and these are all things we can do ourselves and pay next to nothing for. You can literally cut the bottom of a soda bottle off and attach a hose to it and make a gravel hoover. You can purchase all purpose sponges to help clean algae (just make sure they’re not full of detergent). You can even use old credit cards as glass scrapers. There are literally so many things you pay $20 for that you could make or buy for $2 – that it’s hard to know where to start – so get a little creative. There’s some awesome youtube channels out there with some really basic, yet creative hacks – definitely be on the lookout for it. 

Like we said – with a little creativity – you can save yourself a pretty penny – which in this hobby is always helpful. And as always – if you’re looking for filtration media and bulkhead fittings, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. Until then – good luck!

Benefits of a custom fish tank


“If you can dream it, they can build it” – or at least that’s what they say. 

Many tank owners – particularly those with bigger budgets and a little more ambition embrace the concept of customized aquariums – tanks that are built for specific spaces and often come with a wide range of bells and whistles. And while this is not for everybody, you’d be surprised to learn that this 100% is not just something that’s exclusive to rich guys and TV shows. 

Yes, you can make your own custom aquarium. And yes, it’s certainly a viable option for anyone at any level of tank-ability. Today, we’ll talk about some of the benefits of going the custom route -as maybe they provide you with the solution you’re looking for. Let’s jump right in!

Yes, they can meet your budget

Look, not every fish tank is designed to be the main entrance of the park plaza hotel or the backstop at the Tampa Bay Rays new stadium. You can build a custom aquarium for any space. You just need to give more serious thought to what you want and what you’re willing to live without – as you would with any project, really. Our big word to the wise though- don’t choose the contractor with the cheapest rate. In that specific area, you’ll 100% get what you’re paying for. 

Allows for some real creativity

No more squares. No more boring boxes and circles. With customized tanks you can do a little of everything. You can even be specific down to the filtration media like your bulkhead fittings and the like. You can design something that truly fits your space and looks like it’s naturally supposed to be there, not something boxy and artificial like you’d buy in the store. 

They can be tailored to specific wants and needs

Everyone’s living space is different. Everyone’s preferences are different. Imagine having a solution where you could choose exactly what it is you specifically need. From building a tank around a specific space and interior to building an ecosystem around a particular breed and type of fish that you’d like to own – you can call the shots. Especially for novice aquarist’s who aren’t particularly good at managing habitats – it can be great to have one that is mostly pre-set for you so you can manage it correctly.

As you can see, there’s a lot of benefits to going the custom-route and if you’re interested, we’re happy to help point you in the right direction. Like we said – they’re not nearly as out of reach as some people think and in many cases and for a certain type of tank enthusiast- can be the best possible route. Until then, best of luck and good luck!

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!




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