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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!

The three best fish for beginners


A lot of owning a fish tank for the first time isn’t so much having an idea of what you want the end product to be, but rather where you actually start. It’s not always as straightforward as it looks and once you get through the tough stuff like choosing filtration media, setting up the tank and the like – you then need to settle in and decide which fish you want to inhabit said aquarium.

We have three types of fish we think are best for beginners. They’re relatively low maintenance, they look cool and they mostly play well with others. Keep in mind – certain fish can be a really heavy lift up front for newbies so we really do recommend you start here and then consider adding on later. Let’s jump right in!

Neon tetras

Neon tetras are small fish – but oh boy do they bring some big time pop and color to your tank. They’re easy to take care of as well. All you’ll need is ample space and flake fish food and they’re a pretty happy bunch. They do like to roam around in schools, so don’t purchase one – get them a couple of buddies so they’ve got some companions to keep them company. And don’t worry about the cost – these fish are very cheap. You’ll also get a really great value, too. If you take care of them, they can live up to 10 years old. 

Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barbs might take a little while to settle into their new environment at first – but once they’re settled in, they’re a spectacular first fish to own. They can tolerate a variety of environments and are super adaptable when it comes to water temperature. Best of all – they tend to play very well with others, so if you’re looking for a community founder of sorts, Cherry Barbs take particular joy in being the major. 

For the best results, make sure they have some live plants and a few hiding spaces. Just like neon tetras, we definitely recommend you purchase a school of five. These fish are very easily stimulated and enjoy being entertained by well – each other. 

Corydoras

Corydoras are great scavengers and in a way – nice to have as your community’s cleaning service. They primarily thrive off of food at the bottom of the tank, so they’ll help clean up a lot of debris and other undesirable stuff. They also play very well with other fish and though they’re more laid back than tetras or cherry barbs, mostly go along with the flow when it comes to others. The biggest thing you’ll want to make sure you have though – is a more smooth substrate at the bottom of the tank. While it’s not super necessary, it’s better for their health and will prevent them from scratching their fins. 

Hopefully today’s blog gave you a little inspiration as to where to start when it comes to choosing the first fish for your tank. If you have any questions or would like some advice, always feel free to give us a call. Until then, thanks for reading and good luck with your new fish tank!

Caring for fish when you’re on vacation


Before you know it, it’ll be holiday season and chances are if you’re like 70% of Americans – you’ll likely be on the move to celebrate them. But just like everyone else – you’ll probably be wondering or grappling with what to do with your pets.

And for the sake of our blog today – what do you do with your fish?

Thankfully, aquarium fish are easier to care for because they don’t need walks, don’t need to be let outside to go to the bathroom and you really don’t need to even feed them every day. But just because they’re lower maintenance doesn’t mean you won’t or shouldn’t be concerned!

Today, we’re going to share a few tips that’ll help bring your anxiety levels down a notch. Let’s jump right in!

What to do before you leave

Give your tank a good cleaning before you head out for the holidays. Do a water change, vacuum the tank and clean out the filter. We’d recommend doing this a few days before you leave that way you can rest assured that everything is in good work order before you leave. This way you know your fish will be kicking back in a clean environment while you’re away.

Feeding

There’s a few ways you can tackle this. For one, if you’re not leaving for a long time- like say a three day weekend – you don’t really have to feed your fish. Most are equipped to go several days between feedings depending on the species. As always, check what their requirements are. 

On the other hand, if you feel guilty or have a species that does require increased feedings, consider adding an auto feeder that’ll release food into the tank at a specific time every day or every other day. This solution however, will cost you a little money. 

Pet sitters

The last thing you can always do is either hire a pet sitter or someone to stand in as one. This can be a friend or even a neighbor. This person can stop by every day and feed and/or checkup on your fish. You can leave food behind with instructions and labels and rest assured that someone trusted is keeping an eye on your pet. 

Hopefully, one of these methods can help you relax a little more and rest assured knowing that your fish are in good hands. Enjoy the coming holiday seasons and as always – if you have questions give our team a call today! Good luck!

What you need to think about before buying an aquarium


Taking care of a fish might not seem to be a big deal to some, but if you’re someone who’s considering purchasing a fish – there are some things we’d like for you to think about first. 

Owning a fish means being responsible for a life and people are often surprised to learn that fish require more maintenance than people originally think. As is the case with any pet – the decision deserves thought, time and care. 

Here are some practical tips for you to consider. Let’s jump right in.

Understanding the responsibility of owning a pet

Animals – no matter how big or how small – are completely dependent upon you to provide them with food, a clean environment and care for their health. Owning a pet is a serious commitment and neglecting the pet due to your own lack of awareness isn’t acceptable. Make sure you have the time and the resources to commit to pet ownership first!

What kind of breed will you be buying?

Fish come in all shapes, sizes and yes – even a variety of temperaments. THey also have a range of needs – some need warmer temperatures, there are saltwater fish, freshwater fish, some are aggressive, some are loners and others need friends. Think about things like the size of your home, time and resources that you have and whether or not your tank is going to be large enough to house that particular breed. 

Educating yourself on common care problems

Whenever you own any pet we recommend that you speak to professionals and other fish owners to learn as much as you can before taking the plunge. Find out what common mistakes there are, find out what ailments are most common with fish, ask about the kinds of chemicals and food you’ll need, etc. Become a sponge. Knowledge is power here and essentially in order to maintain a healthy, happy fish. 

We hope you found today’s blog helpful. Owning a fish is a commitment – so make sure you have your T’s crossed and your I’s dotted before giving yourself the green light. If you have any questions  or are looking for more guidance, feel free to give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you out. Until then – good luck!

Why live plants are so good for your aquarium


If you talk to most aquarium aficionados about some of the most beneficial things to add to your tank – you’ll quickly find that many of them will point you in the direction of live plants. And there are a ton of reasons for that outside of their sheer aesthetic appeal. 

Today, we’re going to talk about a few of the benefits that live aquarium plants can have for your fish tank and how you can use them to build a thriving environment for your fish. Let’s jump right in!

Natural filtration

Much like trees do above water, underwater plants act as a natural filtration system for their environment. They’ll help to remove potentially toxic waste like nitrates and waste. They’ll also help keep your tank looking cleaner than usual, not just by boasting their vibrant, green colors, but by reducing the amount of algae in your tank. 

Oxygenating your water

Photosynthesis is an incredible process and live plants will release oxygen into the water while also consuming the carbon dioxide that fish produce. Properly oxygenated water brings a variety of health benefits to your community of fish and is yet another benefit of live plants in your tank. 

A better habitat for your fish

Tanks with live plants look more natural. Your fish will also ACT more naturally as well. These plants help fish feel safer and more secure, which certainly leads to a happier aquarium. They provide hiding places and homes which can also lead to some interesting design ideas on your part as well. Don’t be afraid to research the kinds of plants that your fish thrive in in their natural environment as well. Lots of owners are able to create some pretty impressive biotopes that help create a stable ecosystem and make your tank more aesthetically pleasing. 

Natural root systems

The root systems of live aquarium plants are another significant benefit to your aquarium’s well-being. Live plants form strong, full root systems that help prevent things like the buildup of potentially toxic gasses that can put your tank at risk. 

If you’re looking for a gorgeous, healthy looking tank that will allow your fish to thrive, then you should absolutely consider adding live plants to the mix. If you have questions about where to start or what would be some good plants for your situation, feel free to reach out to your local aquarium pro with questions at the ready. Until then, good luck!

Saltwater aquariums: what to consider


Saltwater tanks are gorgeous. There’s simply no denying it. That being said, maintaining them can get expensive and if you don’t do the right kind of planning up front – it can get really, really expensive.

Today, we’re going to share some tricks you can use to save some money and not get caught out too far over your skis when it comes to a saltwater aquarium. Let’s jump right in. 

What goes into the cost

How expensive a saltwater tank will get is going to depend on a variety of factors, of which are not limited to the size of your tank, the creatures inside, equipment and the like. The bigger the tank, the more expensive it’s going to get. 

Also the other thing to remember is that saltwater tanks require certain equipment that freshwater tanks do not. Things like heaters, a special lighting and filtration system and the like. Yes, you can purchase low-cost equipment but keep in mind – it likely won’t last as long. These are all things you’re going to have to factor in before deciding to take the plunge. 

Choosing the right tank

Now that you know the factors that’ll influence the cost of your aquarium, you’ll need to learn about how to make your tank more affordable. Now this part involves a little push-pull. While larger tank sizes might be more expensive, they’re also far easier to maintain, which might sound crazy at first. It’s really a lifestyle decision. Do you want something cheaper that takes up more of your time, or something that’s more expensive and allows for more time for enjoyment? It’s really up to you. 

20 and 30-gallon tanks are fairly affordable, but as you hit 50 gallon sand up, the price can creep higher and higher. If you want to purchase a larger tank we definitely recommend purchasing an all-in-one tank kit that’ll give you everything you are going to need. It’ll cost a little bit more up front, but might end up saving you some money from having to purchase everything separately. 

Whatever you decide, don’t just settle for the price in front of you. Shop around to find yourself the best possible deal. 

What goes into the tank

Just like we said above – shop around and find good deals. We do however, recommend that you start with commercially bred fish. Anything that comes directly from the wild will cost significantly more. The size of your tank will also dictate which kinds of fish you’ll be able to purchase so be sure that any species you’ve got interest in – that you’re doing your research as to whether they can live in the environment you’ve created. 

Also, the one wild card with saltwater tanks is that you’ll have the option of potentially adding corals to your tank. Live rock is more expensive and will require more maintenance. They require high-intensity lighting and might have specific demands in terms of the overall water chemistry you have – chemistry that might limit which kinds of fish you can have with the corals. Again – we’re talking more push-pull, here – but something to keep in mind. 

Look, at the end of the day, owning a saltwater aquarium is a real achievement. The end product is certainly well worth the time and effort. But with some better planning, you won’t have to worry about obliterating your budget. Good luck!




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