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Here you will find some helpful hints, tips and guides to help you, from setting up an aquarium to maintaining a healthy aquarium. By using our affordable monthly aquarium maintenance service we take the hard work of maintaining your aquarium away from you. Contact us today to discuss our services.

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Setting Up an Aquarium

Choosing a location for your aquarium

If you plan on using electrical equipment, e.g. airstones, heaters etcetera in your aquarium it must naturally be placed where you have access to electricity. Placing an aquarium where it will be exposed to sunlight is not a good idea since this will promote excessive algae growth. It is also important to keep in mind that a filled aquarium is really empty and normal your normal furniture may be not be strong enough to keep it up. Getting an aquarium stand or special aquarium furniture is therefore recommended for mid-sized aquariums and bigger.

Safety

Everything that will go into your aquarium should be thoroughly washed to prevent disease and pollution from entering your aquarium. Use hot water and bleach rather than detergents, and meticulously wash away all traces of bleach afterwards. Gravel must be carefully rinsed unless you want the water to get really cloudy. Living things such as plants and fish can be dipped in saltwater to kill off external parasites and bacteria.

If you use chlorinated tap water you must add a dechlorinator before you use it for your aquarium since chlorine and chloramines damage the gills of your fish and kills of beneficial bacteria. You can purchase a dechlorinator intended for aquarium use in your local fish store. A less expensive way of treating the water is to mix a lot of air into it when you pour it into a bucket (e.g. by tilting the bucket) and then leave it to rest for 24 hours.

 Filling the aquarium

Do not begin filling your aquarium anywhere else than in its intended place because it will become really heavy. When you have added the gravel, place a dish or similar on top of it and pour the water onto the dish instead of directly onto the gravel. This will divert the water and stir up less debris. Fill the aquarium half way up, plant any plants and add aquarium decoration, and then proceed to fill it all the way up.

Equipment

Connect all your equipment and leave the gadgets running for 24 hours. This will give you time to make sure that everything works as it should.

Setting up the aquarium

By spending some time reading up on the subject you can save yourself a lot of problems (and money!) in the long run. A lot of new aquarists lose interest in the hobby when all the fish in their newly set up aquarium suddenly goes belly up, and this is sad because in most cases, this type of sudden fish death can be easily prevented.

Before you acquire any fish you should set up the aquarium and make sure that everything works according to plan. Once you have filled the aquarium with gravel, water and plants and installed all the gadgets, you should keep it running for at least 24 hours before you add anything else to the water.

Cycling (maturing the aquarium)

Many aquarists skip this stage, but if you devote some time to cycling your aquarium you increase your chances of keeping your fish alive dramatically. During cycling, colonies of beneficial bacteria will grow strong enough to handle a lot of the nitrogenous waste that your fish will produce. If you simply toss all your fish into a non-cycled aquarium, the levels of nitrogenous waste will sky rocket and this will injure as well as potentially kill your fish. Cycling the aquarium is certainly not difficult, but it will take at least two weeks.

One easy method is to purchase a group of small and sturdy schooling fish from the fish store (e.g. Danios) together with a bottle of nitrogen converting bacteria. Add the fishes and the bacteria to the aquarium and make sure that there are suitable media for the bacteria to colonize in the aquarium, e.g. bushy plant leaves, gravel and a sponge filter that you never wash with detergents or hot water. Use your test kit and regularly check the levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. They will spike after a while, but sooner or later they will hopefully decrease down to lower levels again. You need to carry out frequent water changes during the cycling process and only give your fish small servings of food.

Do not loose heart if the water gets a little foggy during cycling; it is perfectly normal. When your aquarium is stable, gradually start adding more and more fish. Do not overload the bacteria by suddenly tossing ten big fishes into the aquarium. Once you have added a few fishes, wait a few weeks before adding any new ones. Yes, it is boring to wait, but your fish will stay happy and healthy and you being patient will prevent a lot of potential problems.

Acclimatising your new fishes

Start by introducing a small number of fish during the cycling process (unless you opt for a fishless cycle) and then gradually introduce more and more fish over the course of several weeks. This will prevent the water quality in your aquarium to drop sharply. When you arrive home with a bag of fish, leave the bag floating in the aquarium to prevent sharp changes in temperature. After roughly 15 minutes, open the bag and pour some aquarium water into it.

DO NOT allow any water from the bag to escape into your aquarium water since it can carry disease. After an additional 15 minutes, open the bag again and add some more water. This process will give the fish a chance to gradually grow accustomed to the water chemistry in your aquarium. Wait for 15 more minutes before you use a net to catch the fish and let it into the aquarium. Discard the bag with the pet shop water.

Daily maintenance

Feed your fish 2-3 times a day.

Remove uneaten food, dead fish and plant debris.

Check the thermometer and make sure that temperature is stable.

Weekly maintenance

For a basic freshwater set up with sturdy tropical fish species, changing roughly 25% of the water each week is recommended. The replacement water must not be cold since this will chock your fish. If you use chlorinated tap water, use a dechlorinator to treat the water before you pour it into your aquarium. Changing the water can be a little messy and take a long time at first, but you will soon get the hang of it.

Keep the glass clean and remove any algae from it.

Vacuum the substrate.

Monthly maintenance

The filter media in your mechanical filter (if you use one) will need to be washed. Only remove half of the filter media since this will allow the remaining population of bacteria to continue their work. They will also be able to repopulate the other half of the filter media if something goes bad during cleaning. Rinse out the filter media in water of the same (or slightly lower) temperature as the water in the aquarium. Hot water will instantly kill the bacteria. Never use any type of detergent. Carryout water tests, PH, ammonia, nitrate and nitrite.

Contact our team today on our monthly aquarium maintenance service!

Aquarium Safety

Unplug the electrical equipment before you carry out maintenance work. The combination of water and electricity is dangerous, and unplugging your equipment is therefore recommended. You can also choose to install an RCD (Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker) to make it safer to place your hands into the water while equipment is still plugged in. It should also be noted that if a running heater is exposed to air during a water change, it can crack and become useless. Unplugging it is, therefore, a very good idea.

Setting Up A Saltwater Aquarium

Saltwater aquarium set up takes time but it is an exciting adventure. It usually takes 4 to 8 weeks before you can add any saltwater fish safely to your saltwater aquarium.I know it is disappointing to wait too long before you can start putting fish into your saltwater aquarium, but you wouldn’t want to risk losing them.

Saltwater fish are quite pricey. So I would say that patience is the key!

Before setting up a saltwater aquarium, think about these things first:  

 

Choosing your Location, Aquarium Size and Aquarium Stand

The first step in saltwater aquarium set up is choosing a location that is nowhere close to natural lighting sources. Close to windows, an entrance that has a clear door where sun rays can come in and patios are a BIG NO!

Intense sunlight can produce excessive algae which are a beginner aquarist’s usual problem. A cooler room temperature that is well-ventilated would be the best. Choose a large enough location for your aquarium. Set up a level and well-supported area for your aquarium and stand and is highly preferred. Make sure to leave enough space for electrical connections and other equipment as well as around the aquarium for maintenance and cleaning. The properly selected aquarium will help in a successful saltwater aquarium and set up will be a breeze. It’s not as hard as it may seem. The first requirement is a proper glass tank! It’s a mistake to buy a small aquarium “just to get started.” My suggestion is to get the largest aquarium you can afford.

 

It’s actually better generally for first timers. But make sure it will fit your space and of course your budget. Larger aquariums are more forgiving of beginners’ mistakes and provide a much more stable environment. If you buy a small aquarium, I’m pretty sure that you will just upgrade to a bigger one later on. The surface area of the aquarium should also be taken into account in aquarium set up. Oxygen enters the water and, more importantly, noxious gases such as carbon dioxide escape into the air at the water surface. So the larger the surface area, the more efficient the exchange of gases will be. Another important consideration in aquarium set up is the shape of the aquarium. There are now too many unusual shapes to choose from in addition to the usual rectangular shape. From hexagonal to octagonal, bow-fronted and even trapezoidal aquariums are available.

But they all have their problems. They can be difficult to light, the saltwater fish may find it hard to establish territories or even swim properly or make viewing distorted and are harder to clean. The surface area could be compromised by an unusual shape. Next, is choosing something to stand it on. Choose a sturdy stand that is capable of supporting the weight of a filled aquarium. If you don’t follow this simple step, you are likely to have a huge mess or worse, a broken aquarium if it hits your floor. Make sure that the aquarium will fit perfectly on the stand you chose.

 

Prepare and set up your aquarium

So you chose the perfect location and you bought your perfectly large enough aquarium with matching stand. You can’t wait to fill it up with saltwater fish, live rocks and other inhabitants you can think of. But wait! There are few more things lined up in aquarium set up before you can do that.

Make sure you clean your aquarium with freshwater and a soft cloth or sponge. Remember not to use any kind of chemical cleaners. Rinse it thoroughly and make sure all residues are washed out. You can now pour the sand or gravel, whichever substrate you’ve chosen to use into the bottom of the aquarium followed by your saltwater. Then, you can either buy a pre-mixed saltwater, ready to use for your saltwater aquarium, or if you plan to use filtered water or the tap water at home make sure you get a sea salt mix.

Follow the setup instruction on the manufacturer’s label on how to properly prepare your water using the sea salt mix. Tap water will have minerals and additives that are not good for your saltwater inhabitants. Your tap water contains substances that are toxic to your fish.

When you have your dechlorinated water ready, fill aquarium 1/3 full. Measure the specific gravity of your saltwater. It should measure 1.025. Install and start all the other equipment such us lighting, heater, and filter and let it run for a day. During this test run time, check for leaks, set and adjust the heater(s) to the required temperature, check and balance out the salinity of the water if needed, and test all the equipment to make sure everything is working properly.

 

Aquascape

Aquascaping your aquarium means decorating your aquarium. Possibilities are endless. There is no correct or perfect set up of decorating your aquarium. It is up to you on how you will make your saltwater aquarium attractive. Have fun and be creative. Here is a simple “how to” tips on aquascaping a saltwater aquarium.

Adding live rock as part of your aquascape is a plus. Live rock is important to your saltwater aquarium and inhabitants.

 

One importance of live rock is that fish will adjust better to their new environment because it is similar to their natural habitat. Live rock also becomes a biological filter of your saltwater aquarium. It provides the beneficial organisms for proper water management and so that you can enjoy your saltwater fish and other inhabitants for a long period of time. Another advantage of live rock is that it acts as a home for corals and other invertebrates and can be used by shy or frightened fish as their hiding place. You can get a live rock that is already cured and ready to be placed in your saltwater aquarium. If you have an uncured live rock, then it must be properly cured to create a healthy environment.

 

Ammonia, which is a toxic compound and pollutant are released into your saltwater if you don’t properly cure your live rock. This will compromise the health of your aquarium system. Most live rock will be fully cured in 1 – 3 weeks. By then, it will be safe to add to your saltwater aquarium. Curing your live rock may be done in any type of plastic container that is suitable in size to fit the amount of live rock you have or inside the newly set up aquarium. Getting as large of a water container as you can is recommended, but curing inside the new aquarium is best overall.

 

Cycling

Once you have aquascaped your saltwater aquarium, the next step in saltwater aquarium set up would be allowing the aquarium to cycle. 

You have to be very patient when your tank is in cycle. New aquariums don’t have the necessary bacteria for your inhabitants to thrive and survive. This is why your new aquarium must be cycled. Cycling is the process of establishing and maturing the biological filtration. Typically, new aquariums can be cycled in 3 to 6 weeks.

But for fully cycling your saltwater aquarium, it will really depend on factors like:

(1) The amount of ammonia being produced during the cycling period;

(2) The efficiency of the biological filtration

(3) Whether live rock or live plants are used in the process.

 

If you don’t know much about this process, it can contribute to livestock loss. So understand what it truly is and learn the proper steps to take for a successful saltwater aquarium. First, you need to establish a source of ammonia to establish the system. The usual method is adding one or two hardy fish, such as damselfishes. The waste products they produce are the initial source of ammonia. Most of these hardy fish can tolerate ammonia but some don’t. This method is cruel in the extreme! It will be easier and less cruel to use on the commercially available maturation fluids.

 

Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the maturation compound to start nitrification. Ammonia level will rise and reach its peak then declines, while bacteria continues to multiply until they are undetectable during testing. The by-product of ammonia is nitrite. Nitrite levels will rise until the number of bacteria has increased to the point at which they break down the nitrites faster than it is being produced. Measure the nitrite levels with a nitrite test kit after a period of time.

 

The end product of this process is nitrate. Nitrate is not toxic to the fish but high levels of it can produce problem to your aquarium. You can recognise the increase of nitrate when there is an algae outbreak to your saltwater aquarium. You can then control algae reproduction by constant water changes and chemical filtration. It will also help you in managing your cycle without losing any of your fish. Testing your water parameters regularly during this time will prevent problems in your saltwater aquarium.

 

Make the Necessary Adjustments

While you are doing the water change and tidying the tank up to get it ready for the first few new or additional pieces of livestock, it’s a good time to make any aquascape changes you desire during this step of the setup. When you’re done and the system is restarted, let the tank run for a day or two to allow it to settle out. During this run time check and make adjustments to parameters of the aquarium water that may be needed, such as the temperature and salinity.

 

Add some new Livestock

Once the tank has been cleaned up, it is ready for some new saltwater fish. The biggest and most often made mistakes at this stage of a newly cycled aquarium is that one tries to cram too much into the tank too quickly or all at once. It is important for you to be patient and go slowly on this set up to prevent causing problems from overloading the saltwater aquarium.

 

Whether it is fish, corals, or invertebrates, you should only choose and add 1 or 2 into the aquarium at a time. After your selection has been placed into the tank, you need to allow the aquarium’s nitrifying bacteria base to adjust to the additional bio-load. This means you DO NOT add anything else at this point of the setup, and over a week’s time, you should test the aquarium water daily for any appearance of ammonia and possibly nitrite. Zero readings will show you it is safe to add the next 1 or 2 pieces of livestock. Better yet, even when the test results are showing zero, wait another week or two before continuing on.

 

Maintain Your Aquarium

Once your aquarium is cycled, the next step is to take care of it. Whether it’s a water change, tidying up of the substrate, cleaning filtering materials or other simple maintenance tasks, doing them “regularly” is primary to the success of a healthy saltwater system.

 

Water Quality

Do you know what is happening in your aquarium, what it needs, and what it doesn’t? You should, and testing your aquarium water tells you what is going on. It allows you to make any necessary corrections to fix a problem, such as with pH, unwanted nitrate and phosphate, and when to add beneficial calcium and other trace elements that are essential to reef systems.

Moving Your Aquarium

We can professionally move your aquarium and livestock for you, we regularly move saltwater fish tanks, with both soft and hard corals. Moving one of these can be a tricky experience!

If you choose to do this here are some guidelines.

Moving is very stressful for marine life most of all corals, but there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of fatalities.

 

The first step is some forward planning by you:

 

Choose the exact new location for the tank, set up what you can already, consider electric socket supply.

 

Make sure you don’t feed your marine life the day before or the day of the move as this will result in excess fouling of transport water.

 

Ensure the aquariums water is clean before the day of the move by doing a series of partial water changes on the days leading up to it.

 

Make sure you have the entire day of the move off  (start early!) and get your hands on some (clean, residue-free) containers to transport your marine life, rocks, sand, invertebrates, water. Plastic chillers or ice chests are great because they’re insulated so resist changes in temperature better which will make things more bearable for your stressed marine life. Buckets are great for live rock/ sand and water. Every container needs to be light enough to move with one or two people.

 

If you are super organised a great idea is to set up bare-bones quarantine tanks before the day of the move with fish separated from corals, live rock, each other etc.

If you are moving a long way having extra water prepared for water changes and top offs en route, these can be a lifesaver. You will also need pre-prepared water for water changes and acclimation once you get to your destination. Water for the tank at the new destination should be prepared beforehand and have parameters as close as possible to what was in the tank before (temp, pH, salinity)

 

Start by taking out fish and inverts separating them and putting them in containers half full of water from the tank. Start as early in the day as possible and separate the marine life from each other as much as you can (each coral should ALWAYS be by itself) putting compatible species together if you need to, use battery powered pumps if you can get them, especially for the bigger livestock containers. Next grab the Live Rock, Live rock needs to stay wet, you can even pack it in damp newspaper for short journeys.

 

Take out and save as much water as you can before it gets too cloudy by you disturbing the tank, use containers with lids!  Next scoop out the substrate and drain it put it into a plastic bag or container (live sand should stay moist). Get rid of all the rest of the mucky-by-now water.

 

Right now is a great time to say add some ammonia neutralizer to the water of each container, accumulated ammonia burns the skin of marine life and builds up in their systems which can be fatal even days later. This and temperature shock are the biggest moving day killers.

 

You will want to secure all the smaller containers in big ones if you can making sure your fish and inverts are experiencing as little movement as possible. Keeping them in the dark also reduces stress.

 

Next the tank itself will need to be carried to the vehicle (use friends), secured and the sides protected from any bangs (a broken tank during your move is really the last thing you need), all the gear can be carefully put into a bucket, take care to wrap the glass stuff. Filter media should stay wet to keep the bacteria alive.

Once you get to your new destination as smoothly and quickly as possible,  get the marine life inside ASAP and do a partial water change for each container (using old tank water you saved), then begin acclimating using the new tank water drip by drip.

 

Now get busy getting the live rock submerged in new water and set up the aquarium (if its not a new tank, in this case you would have done it before) rinse the equipment in the old tank water and put the remainder with the new water to be put in the tank.

 

Keep the lights off for the rest of the day and don’t feed until the next day.

 

We can also help you move your pond, tropical or cold water aquarium.

 

Benefits of Keeping Fish

Fish tanks are not only beautiful décor items that can brighten up any room, they can also be therapeutic tools that will help you solve a wide range of problems.

Stress Reduction, Tropical Fish and Aquariums

Although it is not discussed very much, there are health and emotional benefits that come from owning an aquarium. This is true whether it’s a fresh water or salt water tank. Why?

One of the environmental stimuli that people find very soothing is the sound of running water. There is a type of music that includes the sounds of ocean waves, rain storms and running streams that are relaxing.

There is nothing more soothing than going to the beach and both watching the waves roll on shore and listening to the sound of the rolling surf pounding the beach.

Many of us intuitively know the benefits of flowing water. This is why many people go fishing in local streams and lakes. Many people have told me that, more than catching fish, the benefit they get from fishing is standing in a lake, taking in the sounds of nature and taking in the beauty of the lake and surrounding area.

An aquarium offers the chance to bring the calming effects of nature right into the home. Once an aquarium is established and decorated with rocks and plants, watching fish swim around is stress and anxiety reducing. The sound of the bubbles adds to the therapeutic effect of looking at the tank. Also relaxing are the colours of both the fish and background inside the tank. Studies show that it can reduce blood pressure and emotional agitation. That is why they are displayed in such diverse places as dentist waiting rooms to nursing homes, restaurants and doctor offices.

If there is any stress connected with owning an aquarium it is on the initial set up. The chemistry of the water must be balanced and the temperature regulated. For the beginner, there are manuals that provide easy to follow instructions for the establishment and maintenance of a fish tank. With saltwater aquariums, the process is more complex but this is where the fish tank guys will come to the house and set up the tank and happily maintain it for you.

In our hectic daily lives filled with work, family, paying bills it is important for all of us to have ways of relieving the pressure all of this creates. An aquarium provides a way for the entire family to participate in its benefits. Also, along with exercise, meditation and yoga, fish tanks are a wonderful way to further reduce anxiety and stress.

An aquarium need not be large. There are now nano aquariums that sit on the desktop and have the same effect as the large ones. Also, this need not be expensive and, when you think about it, is a good investment in emotional well-being.