Posts tagged Aquarium

Acclimating Your Saltwater and Freshwater Fish – Float vs. Drip

Acclimating Your Saltwater and Freshwater Fish – Float vs. Drip
Author: Kara K.

Float Acclimation
The most commonly used method of acclimating freshwater and saltwater fish. This is when you float the bag that your fish has been placed in, in the water of your aquarium. Floating for approximately 30 minutes ensures that the temperature in the bag water slowly begins to match the temperature of your aquarium, making it less stressful on the fish. After floating for 15 minutes, double the volume of water in the bag with your aquarium water. Continue floating for another 10 minutes or so.

Just dumping them into the aquarium without acclimating is likely to cause enough shock to kill your new fish. After acclimating, the bag is opened or cut, and the fish is taken out of the bag with a net and released into it’s new home.

Pros: Temperature is most likely to cause shock in fish. The Float method ensures that the dangers of temperature change are eliminated.
Cons: Owners commonly will dump the bag water into their aquarium along with the new fish. If the water in your new fish’s bag is contaminated with whatever was in it’s previous aquarium, that bacteria will then be in yours.
Float acclimation

Drip Acclimation
Less heard of than the common float method. Drip acclimation requires:

1. A clean bowl large enough to hold your new fish and twice the water contents of its bag.
2. A net.
3. Air pump tubing.

With the tubing, create a siphon from your aquarium, into the clean bowl. Place the all contents of your new fish’s bag into the bowl. Siphon should drip 2-3 drops per second (a knot can be tied in it, and loosened/tightened to adjust the water flow) into the bowl. Let drip until the water in the bowl has doubled in volume. This process should take approximately 30-45 minutes, and definitely no longer than an hour. With a net, gently scoop your fish from underneath and place him into the aquarium.

Pros: Especially handy for saltwater fish because it gradually acclimates them to the salinity, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in your established aquarium.
Cons: Temperatures in the low volume of water held in the bowl can drop considerably in half an hour, increasing the risk that your fish will suffer temperature change shock.

The endangered Lake Victoria cichlid (Haplochromis spp.)

The endangered Lake Victoria cichlid (Haplochromis spp.) is found only in the Lake Victoria basin, the most important freshwater fishery in Africa.

The greatest threats affecting the Lake Victoria cichlid are human-related and include pressures from the introduced Nile perch, pollution, and algae build-up.  These factors are causing cichlid species to go extinct before scientists can even name them all.  Biologists believe that 300 of the possible 500 cichlid species native to Lake Victoria have already gone extinct.

The AZA Freshwater Fish Taxon Advisory Group and the Lake Victoria Cichlids Species Survival Plan® Program manage over 2,800 cichlids representing 13 different species at 15 AZA-accredited aquariums.   These institutions have created a collaborative breeding program that strives to preserve many cichlid species for the future.

The AZA Conservation Endowment Fund has provided over $15,000 to the Toronto Zoo, New England Aquarium, and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for their conservation and education work with the local National Museums of Kenya and the Fisheries Resources & Research Institute (FIRI) in Uganda. The goal of the FIRI is to implement conservation methods for cichlid biodiversity in the region by developing aquariums and pond aquaculture for breeding purposes, to educate the local population about the issues affecting these species, and to urge local fishermen to throw back fish that are too small to eat in hopes of building a sustainable population for the future.

Lake Victoria Cichlid Facts

Status Endangered
Size Their color may vary.  Males are generally brightly colored, while females are more muted in color.
Appearence Cichlids are only found in the Lake Victoria Basin of Africa, which includes the countries of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
Habitat Cichlids are only found in the Lake Victoria Basin of Africa, which includes the countries of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
Diet Their diet differs between species, but cichlids eat algae, plants, snails, crustaceans, other fish and even members of their own species.
Breeding Cichlids are “mouth brooders,” which means eggs and wrigglers develop in the female’s mouth and can number from 10 to 80 wrigglers!

Most Common Mistakes Made by Saltwater Aquarium Keepers

Most Common Mistakes Made by Saltwater Aquarium Keepers

By Stan & Debbie Hauter, Guide

No matter what kind of aquarium keeper you are, here is a list of the most common mistakes you may be making. These problems can be avoided if you’re aware of them before you start an aquarium.

Overfeeding Fish and Invertebrtes

Uneaten food just lays on the bottom of the tank, creating nitrates and overloading the biological filter.
Not fully understanding the nutritional requirements of their fish, the tendency of many people is to “throw food” at fish in order to fulfill their requirements. If the fish are not accepting the food offered, many aquarists will “throw even more” at the fish, thinking that the fish just isn’t seeing the food. Feed once, twice per day, or once every 2 or 3 days? How Often Should I Feed My Fish? helps you understand a fish’s requirements.

Know what is in the food you are feeding by comparing the nutrients in commercial foods, purchase only high quality foods and feed only what your fish will consume in 2-3 minutes per feeding.

Moving Too Fast

“Patience” is a requirement with just about anything that you do with a saltwater aquarium. Far too many people report problems after they have put a tank together, because they are just moving too fast! Far too often we have read aquarists comments like, “I need test kits? What for, and what kind?” Of course this is after they have had a tank for some time. A high percentage of people do not take the time to read and study up on the hobby before getting started.

Overloading the System

A problem that goes hand-in-hand with moving too fast is craming too much livestock and/or live rock into the aquarium all at once, especially in a tank that is not fully cycled, or has just completed the cycling process. Even in a well established system, placing too many new additions into the tank to quickly can cause new tank syndrome. Slow down! Saltwater aquarium keeping is not a timed event, so take it easy, and work on your patience skills.

Inadequate Filtration and Water Circulation

Having sufficient biological filtration is a primary key to success in keeping a saltwater aquarium. There are a number of filtration methods to choose from, but not making the right filter selection for the bio-load planned for your tank can lead to a wide variety of problems. Whether it be biological, mechanical, or chemical, it’s better to have more, rather than too little filtration.

This same concept applies to circulation of the water in the aquarium as well. The lack of good water flow throughout the system can lead to problems with low DO (dissolved oxygen), the build up of slime or other types of nuisance algae, prevention of stationary animals receiving food, and more. The solution here? Add a powerhead or two, or a surge device.

Misdiagnosing Diseases

When it comes to diagnosing diseases, saltwater ich is the biggest problem. It is easy to confuse Oodinium (Amyloodinium ocellatum – a.k.a. Marine Velvet or Coral Fish Disease) with White Spot Disease (Cryptocaryon irritans). They are similar but two quite different types of saltwater ich, and each responds to different types of treatment. It is important to properly diagnose and treat these parasites, as well as other diseases.


Way too often one or more remedies are just thrown at a sick or ailing fish without knowing what the problem is. Medications should only be used when necessary, and whenever possible in a quarantine tank. The most important factor with medications is to use one that is formulated to “target” the specific disease or diseases you are dealing with.

Purchasing Animals Without Knowing Anything About Them

It never ceases to amaze us how often people select new additions for their aquarium without knowing what the animals are, how to care for and feed them. Before purchasing anything, take the time to obtain information about it first. You shouldn’t buy on impulse because you like the pretty colors a fish has, how cute or stunning it looks, or for any other “touchy-feely” reason, or if a sales person can’t provide you with critical information you need to know about a particular animal.

Livestock Incompatibility

Statements like my wrasse ate my hermit crab, my tangs just won’t get along, and similar ones are all too frequently heard. Purchasing livestock without knowing whether or not they will peacefully reside with other tankmates can lead to dead or injured animals, as well as stress related diseases. Use common sense and learn about the compatibility of animals you are considering for your aquarium, before putting them together!

Purchasing Animals in Poor Health

One of the easiest things to do when selecting a critter is to determine whether or not it is healthy. In a simple phrase, most sick fish don’t eat. Before purchasing a fish or other animal, it is best to have a sale’s person in a store show you that it is in fact eating. On your part, learn how to recognize the symptoms or outward signs of common illnesses so you know what to look for when inspecting livestock to buy.

Using a Poor Quality Fresh Water Source

Although many aquarists do so, choosing to use water straight from the tap or unpurified water of another source to make up saltwater solutions and to top off a tank can lead to many water quality issues in aquariums. Using a water purification filter, buying clean natural sea water, or prefiltered RO/DI water from a reliable supplier is an investment that will pay for itself in the long run.

Lack of Proper Tank Maintenance

Well-maintained saltwater systems seldom experience high nitrate, bacterial outbreaks, or other water quality issues. To avoid the usual pitfalls with problems in this area of aquaria keeping, set up and follow a regular maintenance routine.

Will Algae be a problem in my saltwater reef aquarium?

You should not have a problem with algae if you have followed these recommendations:

  • Purify your tap water with a triple carbon prefilter and reverse osmosis or deionizer system;
  • Use Kalkwasser regularly to keep the pH between 8.2 and 8.4;
  • Do water changes every 2 to 3 weeks;
  • With water changes, vacuum off as much as possible of the debris in the rock crevices;
  • Change your prefilter pad every week;
  • Have the lighting on for no more than 9 hours a day, using the wattage recommended
  • Do not use unnecessary additives
  • Employ herbivorous livestock (turbo snails, small hermit crabs, hard star fish, and algae-eating fish such as yellow tangs, blennies, angels, etc.).

By following the recommendations here, you should be able to manage the micro-algae in your tank. These procedures will ensure that your reef will not be overtaken by green, brown, or red algae that would cover desirable livestock and organisms (such as the hard pink coralline algae) that depend on water flow and light.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of following all the previous recommendations, as they will ensure that the undesirable algae do not have the conditions they need to survive, and undesirable algae are the scourge of reef keeping. Follow the suggested procedures, and the algae should be manageable!

Micro-algae will grow!

The growth of micro-algae is a natural occurrence and will happen in most healthy tanks. It is only when the algae become unmanageable that we have a problem. Managing the growth of micro-algae means (1) limiting the conditions they need to thrive, (2) having livestock that will eat most of the algae, and (3) removing the remainder by hand with magnets, blade scrapers, and brushes.

In my tanks, brown and some green algae form on the glass on a regular basis. They do not thrive for long in other areas; they are only a problem on the glass and overflow pipes.

The glass is easily cleaned with an algae glass-cleaning magnet. When buying such a magnet, purchase the largest one you can find. Usually the larger the size, the stronger the magnet and the better the cleaning capabilities (pull) it will have. The magnet does a nice job for weekly or twice-weekly cleaning. Little bright green patches will eventually form. These should be scraped off with a razor blade. You should only have to “blade” the glass about once a month at the most.


Keep in mind that algae will grow and will have to be removed by hand on a regular basis. Do not be deceived when you go into your favorite reef store and observe that their tanks have no visible algae. You may think, “My tank has algae, why doesn’t his?” The fact is that every morning someone cleans the glass and maintains the tanks so they will look absolutely pristine. This gives the impression that the people in the store know something about water quality that you don’t. In fact, all they are doing is daily maintenance, in addition to the procedures listed above.

Then of course, the remaining algae will be removed by hand, particularly from the glass and overflow pipes. By using a strong magnet or a razor blade for the glass, and a bottle brush for the overflow, it is not a problem to remove undesirable algae.

It is important to remember that we want to remove the algae, not just dislodge it. When using the magnet, after a few swipes you will feel the scrubber part of the magnet cleaner getting full of algae. Take this to the sink and rinse it off. Resume cleaning and repeat the rinsing process as often as needed. Rinse the scrubber when you are done. When using the bottle brush, swirl it to trap the algae in the bristles, and rinse it out in the sink.

A strong algae magnet and bottle brush are useful tools. Some algae, of course, will get away from you. This cannot be avoided. Remove as much as you can, within reason. Algae that are dislodged and left in the tank will either reattach elsewhere, decompose into food for other algae, or get trapped in the prefilter.

Summary of algae management:

If you follow the suggestions I have given, it can be done easily. Algae accumulation can be a serious threat to the enclosed reef system. Left unmanaged, it can become a problem that would test anyone’s patience and sanity; it is not something you want to battle with! However, if you select your livestock carefully and follow the other recommendations I have discussed, the naturally-occurring algae in your tank will be a good food source for the livestock, and what they don’t eat can be managed with regular maintenance.

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Should I Keep My Betta in a Vase?

By Shirlie Sharp

The Peace Lily Vase-Siamese Fighting fish combination has sparked more debate than almost any other aquarium topic. The pivotal question is if it’s safe for the fish. What is my stand on the issue? I do not consider a flower vase a healthy environment for a Betta (aka: Siamese Fighting fish) for a number of reasons.

Rice Paddy Argument
The argument made for keeping a Betta in a vase is that pumps, filters, and other aquarium equipment, do not exist in nature. By putting the fish in what appears to be a natural environment the assumption is made that it is inherently healthier than an aquarium. That simply isn’t the case.

It is true that in nature the Betta lives in shallow rice paddies and swamps. However, those waters represent a complete ecological system that a small vase cannot replicate. Those seemingly small rice paddies are actually part of a much larger body of water that dilutes toxins. Scavengers and bacteria present in the water break down wastes and render them harmless to fish living there.

Betta Diet
The water volume isn’t the only problem with a vase. In nature, the Betta Betta lives on a diet that consists predominantly of insects and insect larvae. In fact, Bettas are valued for their role in controlling mosquitoes in their native habitat. The Betta’s digestive tract is built to digest meat, rather than vegetable material. Its upturned mouth is designed to grab insects that have fallen into the water.

A diet consisting of vegetable matter may keep a Betta alive for a while, but it is neither natural nor healthy. Over time, the Betta will slowly be starved of the proper nutrients and more easily fall victim to disease.

Water Temperature
Water temperature in the Lily-Betta combination is another problem. The primary reason a Betta in a small bowl is often listless is due to low water temperature. The Siamese Fighting fish is native to countries such as Thailand, where the climate is hot and moist. The ideal water temperature for the Betta is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Without a heater, the water in a vase will be too cool for comfort most of the time. Although the Betta can survive at lower temperatures, when the water is too chilly they become lethargic and may even refuse to eat.

Betta Breathing
Lastly, there is the issue of how the Betta breathes. Like other fish, the Betta taakes in oxygen from the water. However, the Betta also has a special organ that allows it to breathe air directly from the surface of the water. This organ is what allows the Betta to live in water that has very little oxygen.

Studies have shown that fish with this organ must regularly breathe some air at the surface, even if there is sufficient oxygen in the water itself. Unfortunately, for the Betta, if the Lily vase is not set up with an open space at the top of the water, the Betta may become deprived of the oxygen it needs to survive.

The Peace Lily Vase-Siamese Fighting combination has persisted as a popular fad, but it is neither natural nor healthy for the fish. A dog or cat owner would not shut their pet in a small closet with minimal heat, food, and air. Should fish be treated any less humanely?

How to diagnose and treat Nitrite Poisoning

Nitrite Poisoning

Disease Type: Environmental

Nitrite poisoning follows closely on the heels of ammonia as a killer of aquarium fish. Just when you think you are home free after losing half your fish to ammonia poisoning, the nitrites rise and put your fish at risk again. Anytime ammonia levels are elevated, it is a safe bet that elevated nitrites will soon follow. To avoid nitrite poisoning, test when settng up a new tank, in established tanks when adding new fish, when the filter fails due to power or mechanical failure, and when treating sick fish with medications.


  • Fish gasp for breath at the water surface
  • Fish hang near water outlets
  • Fish is listless
  • Tan or brown gills
  • Rapid gill movementAlso known as ‘brown blood disease’ because the blood turns brown from a increase of methemoglobin. However, methemoglobin causes a more serious problem than changing the color of the blood. It renders the blood unable to carry oxygen, and the fish can literally suffocate even though there is ample oxygen present in the water. Different species of fish tolerate differing levels of nitrite. Some fish may simply be listless, while others may die suddenly with no obvious signs of illness. Common symptoms include gasping at the surface of the water, hanging near water outlets, rapid gill movement, and a change in gill color from tan to dark brown. Fish that are exposed to even low levels of nitrite for long periods of time suffer damage to their immune system and are prone to secondary diseases, such as ich, fin rot, and bacterial infections. As methemoglobin levels increase damage occurs to the liver, gills and blood cells. If untreated, affected fish eventually die from lack of oxygen, and/or secondary diseases.
  • Treatment
  • Large water change
  • Add salt, preferably chlorine salt
  • Reduce feeding
  • Increase aerationThe addition of one half oz of salt per gallon of water will prevent methemoglobin from building up. Chlorine salt is preferable, however any aquarium salt is better than no salt at all. Aeration should be increased to provide ample oxygen saturation in the water. Feedings should be reduced and no new fish should be added until the tank until the ammonia and nitrite levels have fallen to zero. Nitrite is letal at much lower levels than ammonia. Therefore it is critical to continue daily testing and treatment until the nitrite falls to zero.
  • Prevention
  • Stock new tanks slowly
  • Feed sparingly and remove uneaten food
  • Change water regularly
  • Test water regularly to catch problems earlyThe key to elminating fish death is to avoid extreme spikes and prolonged elevation of nitrites. When starting a new tank, add only a couple of fish initially and do not add more until the tank is completely cycled. In an established tank, only add a couple of new fish at a time and avoid overstocking. Feed fish small quantities of foods, and remove any food not consumed in five minutes. Clean the tank weekly, taking care to remove an dead plants or other debris. Perform a partial water change at least every other week, more often in small heavily stocked tanks. Test the water for nitrite after an ammonia spike has occured as there will be a nitrite increase later.
  • Shirlie Sharpe

    Fish School

    What about Filters (aquarium)

    Filter (aquarium)

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    an air-driven corner filter

    Aquarium filters are critical components of both freshwater and marine aquaria.[1][2][3] Aquarium filters remove physical and soluble chemical waste products from aquaria simplifying maintenance. Furthermore, aquarium filters are necessary to support life as aquaria are relatively small, closed volumes of water compared to the natural environment of most fish.[4]



    [edit] Overview

    Animals, typically fish, kept in fish tanks produce waste from excrement and respiration. Another source of waste is uneaten food or plants and fish which have died. These waste products collect in the tanks and contaminate the water. As the degree of contamination rises, the risk to the health of the aquaria increases and removal of the contamination becomes critical. Filtration is a common method used for maintenance of healthy aquaria.

    [edit] Biological filtration and the nitrogen cycle

    A large Koi Pond trickle biological filter designed to maximize beneficial effects of the nitrogen cycle.

    Proper management of the nitrogen cycle is a vital element of a successful aquarium. Excretia and other decomposing organic matter produce ammonia which is highly toxic to fish. Bacterial processes oxidize this ammonia into the slightly less toxic nitrites, and these are in turn oxidized to form the much less toxic nitrates. In the natural environment these nitrates are subsequently taken up by plants as fertilizer and this does indeed happen to some extent in an aquarium planted with real plants.

    An aquarium is, however, an imperfect microcosm of the natural world. Aquariums are usually much more densely stocked with fish than the natural environment. This increases the amount of ammonia produced in the relatively small volume of the aquarium. The bacteria responsible for breaking down the ammonia colonize the surface of any objects inside the aquarium. A biological filter is nothing more than a chemically inert porous sponge, which provides a greatly enlarged surface area on which these bacteria can develop. These bacterial colonies take several weeks to form, during which time the aquarium is vulnerable to a condition commonly known as “new tank syndrome” if stocked with fish too quickly. Accumulation of toxic ammonia from decomposing wastes is the largest cause of fish mortality in new, poorly maintained or overloaded aquariums.[5] In the artificial environment of the aquarium, the nitrogen cycle effectively ends with the production of nitrates. In order that the nitrate level does not build up to a harmful level regular partial water changes are required to remove the nitrates and introduce new, uncontaminated water.

    [edit] Mechanical and chemical filtration

    The process of mechanical filtration removes particulate material from the water column. This particulate matter may include uneaten food, faeces or plant or algal debris. Mechanical filtration is typically achieved by passing water through materials which act as a sieve, physically trapping the particulate matter.[1] Removal of solid waste can be as simple as physical hand netting of debris, and/or involve highly complex equipment. All removal of solid wastes involve filtering water through some form of mesh in a process known as mechanical filtration. The solid wastes are first collected, and then must be physically removed from the aquarium system. Mechanical filtration is ultimately ineffective if the solid wastes are not removed from the filter, and are allowed to decay and dissolve in the water.

    Dissolved wastes are more difficult to remove from the water. Several techniques, collectively known as chemical filtration, are used for the removal of dissolved wastes, the most popular being the use of activated carbon and foam fractionation. To a certain extent, healthy plants extract dissolved chemical wastes from water when they grow, so plants can serve a role in the containment of dissolved wastes.

    A final and less common situation requiring filtration involves the desire to sterilize water born pathogens. This sterilization is accomplished by passing aquarium water through filtration devices which expose the water to high intensity ultraviolet light and/or exposing the water to dissolved ozone gas.

    [edit] Materials suitable for aquarium filtration

    Sponges, plastic balls, ceramic tubes and gravel are all suitable for aquarium filtration

    Numerous materials are suitable as aquarium filtration media. These include synthetic wools, known in the aquarium hobby as filter wool, made of polyethylene terephthalate or nylon. Synthetic sponges or foams, various ceramic and sintered glass and silicon products along with igneous gravels are also used as mechanical filter materials. Materials with a greater surface area provide both mechanical and biological filtration. Some filter materials, such as plastic “bioballs”, are best used for biological filtration.

    With the notable exception of diatom filters, aquarium filters are rarely purely mechanical in action, as bacteria will colonise most filter materials effecting some degree of biological filtration.[1] Activated carbon and zeolites are also frequently added to aquarium filters. These highly porous materials act as adsorbates binding various chemicals to their large external surfaces[2] and also as sites of bacterial colonisation.

    The simplest type of aquarium filter consists only of filter wool and activated carbon. The filter wool traps large debris and particles, and the activated carbon adsorbs smaller impurities. These should be changed regularly at suitable intervals[6]. This is particularly important in the case of activated carbon filters, which may re-release their adsorbed contents in large (and therefore harmful) doses if they are allowed to saturate. [7]

    [edit] Types of aquarium filters

    A commercially available canister filter

    Numerous types of aquarium filters are commercially available,[8] including:

    [edit] External filters

    A schematic diagramme of the function of the canister filter

    External filters remove water from the aquarium which is then pushed (or pulled) through a series of different levels filter media and returned to the aquarium.[1] They are usually more effective and easier to maintain than internal filters.[9]

    [edit] Canister filters

    Compared to filters that hang on the back of the aquarium, canister-style external filters offer a greater quantity of filter materials to be used along with a greater degree of flexibility with respect to filter material choice.[2] Water enters the canister filled with the chosen filter material through an intake pipe at the bottom of the canister, passes through the material, and is pumped back to the aquarium through an electric pump on the top of the canister.[9] Benefits of this type of filter are that they can provide a high volume of filter material without reducing the internal space in the aquarium, and that they can be disconnected from the tank for cleaning/maintenance and replaced without disturbing the aquarium interior or occupants. Disadvantages of canister filters include the increased cost and complexity relative to internal filters and difficulties in cleaning the tubes which transfer water to and from the aquarium.[3] There’s also the risk of a leak, which naturally is an issue for any filter placed outside of the aquarium.

    [edit] Diatom filters

    Diatom filters are used only for sporadic cleaning of tanks, they are not continuously operated on aquariums. These filters utilise diatomaceous earth to create an extremely fine filter down to 1 µm which removes particulate matter from the water column.[1]

    [edit] Trickle filters

    Trickle filters, also known as wet/dry filters are another water filtration systems for marine and freshwater aquariums.[9] This filter comes in two configurations, one which is placed on top of the aquarium (more rarely seen) and one which is placed below the aquarium (more common).

    If the wet/dry filter is placed on top of the aquarium, water is pumped over a number of perforated trays containing filter wool or some other filter material. The water trickles through the trays, keeping the filter wool wet but not completely submerged, allowing aerobic bacteria to grow and aiding biological filtration. The water returns to the aquarium like rain.[9]

    Alternatively, the wet/dry filter may be placed below the tank. In this design, water is fed by gravity to the filter below the aquarium. Prefiltered water is delivered to a perforated plate (drip plate). Prefiltering may take place in the aquarium via a foam block or sleeve in the overflow, or weir siphon, or it may be prefiltered by filter wool resting on the perforated plate. The waste laden water from the aquarium spreads over the drip plate, and rains down through a medium. This may be a filter wool/plastic grid rolled into a circular shape (DLS or “Double Layer Spiral”) or any number of plastic media commonly known as Bio Balls. As the water cascades over the media, CO2 is given off, oxygen is picked up, and bacteria convert the waste from the tank into less harmful materials. From here the water enters the sump. The sump may contain a number of compartments, each with its own filtration material. Often, heaters and thermostats are placed in the sump.[9]

    [edit] Baffle filters

    A new baffle filter, under a large volume, cichlid aquarium

    Baffle filters are similar to wet and dry, trickle filters in that they are generally situated below the aquarium. This type of filter consists of a series of baffles that the water must pass through in order to reach the pump which is returning water to the aquarium. These baffles then act much like a series of canister filters and can be filled with different filter media for different purposes.[10].

    [edit] Internal filters

    An internal aquarium filter driven by air displacement

    Internal filters are, by definition, filters within the confines of the aquarium. These include the sponge filter, variations on the corner filter (pictured top right and left), foam cartridge filter and the undergravel filter.[1] An internal filter may have an electric pump and thus be an internal power filter, often attached to the inside of aquaria via suction cups.

    [edit] Airlift filters

    Sponge filters and corner filters (sometimes called box filters) work by essentially the same mechanism as an internal filter. Both generally work by airlift, using bubbles from an air pump rising in a tube to create flow. In a sponge filter, the inlet may only be covered by a simple open-cell block of foam. A corner filter is slightly more complex. These filters are oftenplaced in the corner on the bottom of the aquarium. Water enters slits in the box, passes through a layer of medium, then exits through the airlift tube to return to the aquarium. These filters tend to only be suitable for small and lightly-stocked aquaria. The sponge filter is especially useful for rearing fry where the sponge prevents the small fish from entering the filter.[9]

    [edit] Undergravel filters

    A schematic diagramme of an undergravel filter run by both an air displacement and water pump (powerhead)

    Undergravel filters consist of a porous plate which is placed beneath the gravel on the base of the aquarium and one, or more, uplift tubes. Historically, undergravel filters have been driven via air displacement. Air stones are placed at the base of uplift tubes which force water out of the uplift tube creating negative pressure beneath the undergravel filter plate. Water then percolates down through the gravel which itself is the filtration material.[1] Greater flow rate of water through the gravel can be achieved via the use of water pump rather than air displacement.[1]

    Beneficial bacteria colonize the gravel bed and provide biological filtration, using the substrate of the aquarium itself as a biological filter.[6][9]

    Undergravel filters can be detrimental to the health of aquatic plants.[6] Fine substrates such as sand or peat may clog an undergravel filter.[9] Undergravel filters are not effective if the substrate bed is uneven. In an uneven gravel bed, water will flow only through the thin portions of the bed, leaving the more heavily covered areas to become anoxic. Because of this, animals that dig, such as cichlids, are best kept in an aquarium using some other type of filtration.[citation needed]

    [edit] Submersible pumps/filters

    or circulation pumps

    Wiki letter w.svg
    Please help improve this article by expanding it. Further information might be found on the talk page. (October 2007)

    [edit] Marine-specific systems

    Marine aquaria have specialised needs and requirements, to this end the filtration of the marine aquarium is often more complex than freshwater aquariums.

    [edit] Protein Skimmers

    Main article: Protein skimmer

    Protein skimmers are filters used to fractionate and remove various dissolved organic contaminates typically from marine aquariums. The technique uses the chemical polarity of proteins and amino acids to remove the compounds in the foam produced by the filter. As very fine air bubbles are introduced into the fractionating column, the organic compounds attach to the bubbles. The air bubbles rise, and collect at the top of the Protein Skimmer, coagulating into a stiffer foam. The foam eventually builds up and overflows into a collection cup for complete removal. This is beneficial because the contaminates are removed from the system prior to decomposition into more toxic compounds. Protein skimmers are often used in combination with other filtration devices in marine aquarium setups.

    [edit] Deep sand beds

    Main article: Deep sand bed

    Deep sand beds filtration is a technique designed to use anaerobic microbes to degrade nitrate to gaseous nitrogen.

    [edit] Berlin method

    Main article: Berlin Method

    The Berlin method of marine tank filtration is similar to the deep sand bed filtration technique in that relies on the action of anaerobic bacteria in the outer layers of porous rocks to degrade nitrate to gaseous nitrogen.


    1. ^ a b c d e f g h Riehl, Rüdiger. Editor.; Baensch, HA (1996. 5th Edn.). Aquarium Atlas. Germany: Tetra Press. ISBN 3-88244-050-3.
    2. ^ a b c Leibel WS (1993) A fishkeepers guide to South American cichlids. Tetra Press. Belgium pg 12-14.
    3. ^ a b Loiselle, Paul V. (1995). The Cichlid Aquarium. Germany: Tetra Press. ISBN 1-56465-146-0.
    4. ^ Sands D (1994) A fishkeepers guide to Central American cichlids. Tetra Press. Belgium pg 17-19.
    5. ^ Patrick T. K. Woo; David W. Bruno (2002). Diseases and disorders of finfish in cage culture. Wallingford, Oxon, UK: CABI Pub. pp. 284. ISBN 0-85199-443-1.
    6. ^ a b c Axelrod, Herbert, R. (1996). Exotic Tropical Fishes. T.F.H. Publications.. ISBN 0-87666-543-1.
    7. ^ Eade, Andrew (1999). Coldwater Fishkeeping. Ringpress Books. pp. 33. ISBN 1-86054-072-4.
    8. ^ Mary Bailey; Nick Dakin (2001). The Aquarium Fish Handbook. New Holland Publishers. pp. 26. ISBN 9781859741900.
    9. ^ a b c d e f g h Sanford, Gina (1999). Aquarium Owner’s Guide. New York: DK Publishing. pp. 164–167. ISBN 0-7894-4614-6.
    10. ^ Sandford G, Crow R (1991) The Manual of Tank Busters. Tetra Press, USA

    How to Do a Fishless Cycle for your new aquarium

    This is the process that establishes a bacteria bed in your tank and is important as this bacteria is what filters out the ammonia produced by fish waste and decaying food that would otherwise make the tank water toxic to your fish.

    We are eliminating the fish waste and adding ammonia

    Most people just buy a tank and add fish, but this is dangerous for the fish and often causes loss. This is both sad and a waste of money. Instead, fishless cycling will build the beede bacteria in the aquarium in less time without endangering fish

    Difficulty: Easy

    Things You’ll Need:

    • tank
    • filter
    • gravel
    • pure ammonia (with not cleaning agents)
    • water conditioner
    • heater (optional)
    1. Step 1

      Set-up your tank. Add the gravel then fill with water, add conditioner, plug in the filter. Turn on the heater if you have one about 85F.

    2. Step 2

      Add the ammonia. You’ll need to add enough drops to make the ammonia test read 5ppm. Remember how many drops you added and add this number every day after testing the water. this gives the bacteria that feeds on ammonia something to eat.

    3. Step 3

      After a few days, start testing for nitrite too. the bacteria that breaks down the ammonia turns it into nitrite. Once the nitrite spikes, cut the number of drops you’ve been adding in half. Add that number every day until the nitrate spikes. the bacteria that breaks down the nitrite produces nitrate.

    4. Step 4

      Once the nitrite spikes, your cycle has completed. You should now do a 50% water change (preferably with a gravel vacuum, since you’ll need this for 25% weekly water changes anyway)and add your fish. Be sure to lower the heater temperature to an appropriate temperature.

    Tips & Warnings
    • The number of drops needed will depend on the strength of the ammonia being used.
    • The tank will cycle faster if you add gravel or filter media from an established tank, this is called seeding.
    • Never use ammonia that contains cleaning agents, only pure ammonia.
    • Never add fish until the cycle has completed.
    • Don’t preform water changes while cycling, it will prolong the process. since there are no fish in the tank, there is no need to keep the ammonia and nitrite levels low.

    pH in your aquarium

    Aquarium pH

    The most common questions about aquarium water chemistry are about pH. In almost all cases, these questions and their related concerns are unnecessary. Most fish will thrive in a wide range of pH, and different fish have different ideal pH requirements. Though some exotic fish are more particular about the pH they require, even most of these fish are only particular about pH when they are breeding – and the only bad side effect of not maintain an ideal pH or making the right pH change at the exact right time is that the fish will not spawn. Also, most of these fish, if for no other reason than the demands on the pH are not good beginner fish. Unfortunately, there is a growing trend in the pet industry to believe that the pH in a fish tank needs to be 7.0 or very close to that. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
    Questions about pH

    Most of the pH related questions I get are from someone who has used a chemical to adjust their pH and has either had no effect or has had disastrous side effects.

    Both of these effects are common and expected, and, usually, they are due to the same cause.
    What is pH?7016

    pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. pH is measured on a scale of 1-14 with 7 being neutral. Something with a pH lower than 7 is acidic. Something with a pH higher than 7 is basic. Water has a pH of 7 naturally, but the water you are using in your tank will be different because of the chemicals that are suspended or dissolved in the water. These chemicals fall into three categories: acids, bases, and buffers. Acids are chemicals that lower the pH, or make the water more acidic. Bases are chemicals that raise the pH of the water, or make it more basic (or alkaline). Buffers are chemicals that can ‘tie up’ acids or bases and keep the water at a specific pH. Different buffers will keep the pH at different values.
    What if I Do Want to Change the pH in My Aquarium?

    If you decide you want to change the pH in your aquarium, and you are lucky, then your water will not contain any buffers. This makes changing the pH very easy. If you are lowering your pH, you add an acid to the water and as this acid neutralizes all the bases in the water, the water becomes neutral. As you add more acid to the water, the pH continues to drop and the water begins becoming acidic. You can continue this until the pH is where you want it.

    However, if your water contains buffers, then things become more difficult. Again, if you are lowering the pH in the tank, you add an acid which needs to neutralize the bases that are in the water as above. However, even after the bases are neutralized, the water will maintain a high pH because of the buffers in the water. You will need to add enough of your acid to neutralize the buffer. However, usually, when you are overcoming a buffer in the water, by the time you have added enough acid to overcome the buffer, you will have enough acid in the water to cause a precipitous drop in pH.

    Though almost all fish are very tolerant of a wide range of pH in the water they live and thrive in, sudden and/or drastic changes in pH, as those caused by overcoming a buffer in the water, are almost always harmful. Not only to your fish, but also to your plants and to your biological filter.

    Of course, in most cases buffers in the water are good for your tank for this very reason. If the pH is buffered to a specific value, then things that are added to the tank will have a harder time changing the pH, so your water will remain more healthy and stable.

    Now, remember, if you are changing the pH of the water, you will need to do this every time that you do a water change, and slight variations in the treatment of processing of the water you are using can make dramatic changes in the behavior of these buffers. Also, objects in the tank can also make a big difference in how the water is buffered. This means that you cannot, reliably, adjust the pH of your water before you put it in the tank, and this, in turn, means that if you are messing with the pH in your tank that you will have to subject your fish to this pH roller coaster every week when you do your weekly water change.

    And all this for a pH change that probably isn’t necessary!
    Why Isn’t it Necessary to Change pH?

    Remember, most fish will thrive in a wide pH range – usually from as low as a full point below their ideal pH to a full point above the ideal. Also, different fish have different ideal pH as a base for these ranges. Some fish prefer pH as low as 5.5 and others prefer their pH to be over 8.5! Remember, before you consider messing around with the pH of the water in your aquarium, there are several questions you need to have the answers to:

    1. What is the ideal pH for each of the types of fish I am keeping?
    2. What is the actual pH of the water I am keeping these fish in? Not just is it high or low, but what is the value on the pH scale from 1 to 14. Just knowing that the pH is above or below 7 really doesn’t tell you very much.
    3. Is the actual pH within the range for these fish? (Chances are that unless the water causes burns when you wash with it, that it is tolerable for almost any fish you could get.)
    4. Is there actually a reason to adjust the pH, or am I just doing it because it seems like something to do?
    5. Am I seeing any problems with my fish? Have I ensured that I am providing the necessary care for the fish including weekly 10-15% water changes, regular necessary filter maintenance, proper diet and feeding, correct temperature, correct salinity, and healthy tank population? Chances are, if you are seeing problems, that one of these tasks is not being completed, and it is the cause of the problem, and adjusting the pH will make things worse rather than better.

    Quite possibly, the worst thing you could do to your fish tank is mess with the pH with chemicals. The pH is going to be buffered naturally to whatever it is coming out of the tap, and is very difficult to adjust safely. Adding chemicals to the water will very often leave you with an unstable system, constantly fluctuating and ready to plummet or skyrocket as soon as you put anything else (your hand, a fish bag from the pet store, a decoration or some fish food…) in the water. I would strongly discourage anyone from trying to mess with the pH of their aquarium water unless they really need to and they really understand chemical titrations.

    Again, most fish can tolerate a wide range of pH, different fish preferring different pH, but thriving in a wide range and tolerating a wider range.

    I strongly suggest that only experts with a good background in chemistry mess with pH, as any little mistake is asking for disaster. I have only been in this hobby since 1980 and would not consider myself sufficiently an expert to mess with pH using chemicals…
    What Can I Do to Change the pH Slowly and Safely?

    If you want to lower your pH safely, add a piece of wood to the tank as a decoration or add some peat to the filter system, but be aware that this will stain the water yellow or brown for a couple of years. If you want to increase pH, add a sea shell or a coral skeleton. Remember, these will not give you immediate, overnight results, but they will introduce buffering agents to the water to help keep the pH more like you want it.
    Troubleshooting pH Changes in Your Fish Tank
    How Can I Figure Out Why My Aquarium pH Is Changing?

    If the pH is changing in your fish tank, or if the pH is different in the fish tank than it is from the tap (or other water source), you will want to try to figure out why this is happening. Once you have figured out why your aquarium’s pH is changing, then you will want to correct the cause so that the change is eliminated.

    Before you delve into this too far, however, you should understand testing, including normal cyclic changes in your tank and what you are testing for and why.
    Possible Causes of pH Shift

    The most likely causes of a shift in pH are:

    * Something in the water source buffering the water
    * Something in the tank buffering the water
    * or Something you are adding to the tank

    How do I Tell if Something in the Water Source is Affecting the pH?

    This is probably the least likely possibility, but it is also the easiest to check, so I’ll address it first.

    To test this, fill your aquarium bucket with water and test the pH. Then let the water sit for several hours and test again. If the pH has changed, then you know that something in the plumbing (for tap water) or the packaging (for other water) is temporarily affecting the pH and that the pH is reverting once it is no longer under the influence of whatever is changing it.

    If the pH has not changed after a few hours, let the water sit for 24 hours and test again. It is even less likely that you would see a change in pH at this point, because most pH changes are very rapid – even instantaneous.

    If the pH in your bucket of water has changed, you know what is changing the pH, and you can easily address the influence on your tank by just letting the water sit before adding it to your tank. With a little time an patience you can even figure out how long to let the water sit (usually just a few minutes).

    However, if you are not seeing the large change in pH that you have observed between your source water and your fish tank, you will need to keep looking.
    What About Something in My Fish Tank Changing the pH?

    Check your aquarium for items normally expected to alter fish tank pH, like sea shells, coral skeletons, wood, peat, dead plants (including leaves), dead fish (or other animals), bones, lime stone, etc.

    If you have anything obvious, remove it and see what the pH does with your next water change. It may be that some decoration in your fish tank is raising or lowering your pH, and you will want to remove that.

    If there isn’t anything obvious, look for less obvious things. What is your aquarium gravel made up of? Is it appropriate to your tank? Some aquarium substrates, like crushed coral, are intended only for use in marine aquarium or tanks where a high pH is desired, and can have adverse effects on aquariums where a high pH is not desirable.

    If it’s not the gravel, you may want to try removing decorations or other items from your tank and see if the pH is affected. you could also try removing items from the tank and putting them in your bucket of untreated tap water (from above) and see if the pH in the bucket changes over a few hours.

    When checking for possible culprits in your fish tank, don’t forget to test your filter media, as some filter media, such as crushed coral or peat, could affect your pH.

    Testing all the decorations and filter media in your tank can take quite some time, but is probably the most likely place to find whatever is changing the pH in your aquarium. However, in the mean time, you can start checking your aquarium chemicals and additives.
    What About The Chemicals I Add to My Aquarium Affecting pH?

    It is definitely possible, even likely, that something you are adding to your aquarium for one reason or another is altering the pH. It is also possible that two or more additives may be reacting with each other, or that one or more of your additives is reacting with something in your tap water and causing the pH change.

    First, read the labels on each aquarium additive, and see if any say anything about changing or altering pH. They may even say this in a positive tone, as though it is nothing to worry about (which it often isn’t). If you find one that says it does (or may) alter pH, is it something you can live without? If so, try not using that for a while and see if your pH problems go away. If you cannot live without that additive, check into competitors’ products to see if one of them may suit your needs and not alter the pH adversely. Often, you really don’t even need the additive in question.

    However, even if none of your additives say anything about altering pH, there is a possibility that one (or more) is.

    To test this, get a bucket of your source water, whatever that is (or use the bucket of source water you already have out, if you are not testing decorations and other equipment in it), and start testing your chemicals and additives.

    One at a time, add your additives to the bucket of water. Only add what is necessary to ‘treat’ the amount of water in your bucket. After you add each additive, let the water sit fro ten or fifteen minutes, then test the pH. If the pH hasn’t changed, move on to the next additive. Keep track of which additives you are adding and in what order. Once you see your pH change, you know one of the chemicals or additives necessary to cause the pH change in our fish tank.

    As I mentioned above in reference to an additive that says it may alter pH, you can choose to stop using this additive or look into a competitors’ product. If discontinuing use of this additive addresses the pH problem, then your problem is solved. But it is possible tat some other chemical is also contributing to the problem, or that this additive is reacting with something else you are adding, so you may want to continue testing to see if you can narrow down te problem additives, then choose from those which to quit using.
    How Do I Avoid pH Problems in the First Place?

    First, keep the number of chemicals you are adding to your aquarium to a minimum, and then make sure you know what those chemicals are, why you are adding them, and that they really work. Many of the chemicals that a lot of aquarium owners add to their tank have little or no benefit, and many even have some pretty significant drawbacks. By keeping additives and chemicals to a minimum, you will probably encounter fewer problems.

    Then make sure that anything you are putting in the tank won’t affect the pH and is aquarium safe and suitable for use in the type of aquarium you are keeping.

    This will probably keep you out of trouble with your pH, and help keep your tank happier and healthier. providing your weekly 10-15% water changes and other necessary routine aquarium maintenance will also help to keep any fluctuations in pH under control, as well as contributing to a happy and healthy aquarium in general.

    It is also important to know what pH your fish actually want, and what pH range they do well in. Knowing this will help you determine whether you even have a pH problem in the first place.

    Copyright ©1994-2009, Keith Seyffarth

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