The basics of keeping an aquarium
Fish Facts & Feeding
Do fish grow to the size of their aquarium?
This is probably the most widely held misconception in the hobby. We are all supposed to grow to our adult size. However, if you put me in a box and don’t feed me well you will affect my growth.
Is it ok to just feed my fish flake food?
On the reef there is an infinite variety of foods and therefore nutrients. Mix it up - frozen foods, prepared foods, high quality pellets, and live food.
Why don’t my fish thrive?
I have customers who ask “why do my fish die after a couple months” or “why isn’t it growing”. Well in some cases people are slowly starving there fish to death. If a fish is under nourished it will be weak, more susceptible to illness, and unable to grow.
Can I kill my fish by over feeding?
Fish are not stupid they will not eat themselves to death; however, because we have put them in an artificial environment we can kill them with poor water quality. Be sure that all fish food is eaten and none is falling to the bottom to rot.
Problem: the more fish food the more fish waste. Solution: more frequent water changes.
How often do I feed my Blue Tang(community fish) and Panther Grouper(predator)?
In nature tangs graze on algae and other foods all day long and therefore should be fed until full at least 2-3 times a day, this is achieved by offering several small portions during a feeding rather than one large serving. Groupers and Lion fish will eat a fish almost there own size and then lay around digesting for a couple days, so they should be fed only 3-4 times a week.
Why does my fish stay in the corner of the aquarium?
1. On the reef there is an abundance of hiding places for the fish. If hiding places are not provided in the aquarium the fish is under constant stress and does not behave naturally.
The safer your fish feels the less it will hide.
2. Another factor is what we call dither fish, this is the natural abundance of other fish on the reef. If your fish is alone or in the company of very few free swimming fish it may feel uncomfortable and frequently hide or act nervous.
Brittle star fish, queen conchs, emerald green crabs, blue leg hermit crabs, scarlet red leg hermit crabs, sand sifting star fish, fighting conchs, algae eating snails, medusa worms, sea cucumbers, and horseshoe crabs.
We’re talking about reef scavengers who feed on detritus, bacteria, algae, and all other biological waste. These fascinating creatures prevent such waste from polluting the aquarium and literally choking the reef. These animals are generally hardy and long lived and there benefits to the reef aquarium are immense. By processing the organic waste, which would otherwise settle and rot in your substrate, the detritivores can help maintain chemical balance within the tank.
These animals are for the most part self-sufficient in the home aquarium, scavenging on the uneaten bits of fish food and waste that have fallen to the tanks bottom. A new or very clean tank may not provide enough nutrients, in which case some food should be added about once a week but be careful not to over feed the tank.
On the whole, these animals are hardy and do well even with the beginning hobbyist. Avoid drastic changes in pH and salinity-density by acclimating to new tanks appropriately. Enjoy your “clean-up crew” as they work for you!
*In Freshwater aquariums this includes algae eaters and bottom feeders - catfish, plecostomus, shrimp, etc.
Biological Filtration & The Healthy Aquarium
The basis of all healthy aquariums is what we call biological filtration. This is the presence of good nitrifying bacteria that breaks down raw fish waste (ammonia) and converts it into a less toxic form of waste (nitrates). Because the fish are being fed they are producing waste. The nitrogen cycle begins as the microscopic good bacteria starts to populate the aquarium clinging to all surface areas and breaking down this waste.
It takes an average of 4 weeks for a fresh water aquarium to complete this process of bacteria growth and about 6 weeks for a salt water aquarium. Because water conditions are at there worst during this time before bacteria population is complete it is important to start with hardy fish that can endure these conditions and never over feed or over populate the new aquarium.
There is a company marketing a living culture of these bacteria which takes 1-5 days to balance the aquarium instead of weeks. It is refrigerated and has a limited shelf life before it expires. This product must be introduced at the same time as fish. There are many other products that can be found on the pet store shelf that claim to cycle an aquarium but may not be as effective.
Once the nitrifying bacteria is established in the aquarium ammonia should never be present again. Only killing of the good bacteria by extensive cleaning of to many surfaces or adding excessive waste would result in an ammonia bloom. The most important part of maintaining the health of your little ecosystem is to dilute the always rising nitrate level by changing 1/3 of the aquarium water every 3-4 weeks. Even better one can create more pristine and consistent water conditions by doing weekly 10% water changes.
Keeping A Salt Water Aquarium Can Be Easy!
Everyone seems to know someone who has had a bad experience keeping an aquarium. The reason for this is that that person was misguided by someone who really didn’t know the basics themselves. Equipment and information are the two most important requirements for success. The hobby changes with time just as the Computer industry does. Recently we’ve gone back to simpler more natural methods with less equipment. Getting up to date with these methods and not getting too technical is the key to creating your ideal aquarium. First you must decide which type of salt water aquarium you want.
#1 The most simple and least expensive is what we call a fish only aquarium. Several beautiful fish in an aquarium creates a stunning effect with lots of color and movement. Because the waste produced by fish is not tolerated well by living corals the fish only aquarium requires less maintenance.
#2 An invertebrate aquarium has less emphasis on fish but many beautiful anemones, corals, shrimp and other very interesting and colorful animals and plants. These aquariums are low maintenance and simple due to the good water quality easily achieved by a smaller number of fish.
#3 The third and most involved type is the reef aquarium. Considered the pinnacle of the hobby, the objective is to maintain excellent water quality for invertebrates/corals while having several exotic fish.
Once you have decided which type of aquarium best suites you then its time to determine the size. You have many options, but if you don’t find a standard that suites your creative needs then ask us to have one custom built for you. In choosing an aquarium, remember the longer and wider you go the better. The taller you go the more problematic it may become.
Having considered all these factors it’s time to talk to one of our friendly expert advisers, and dive in!