Saturday, March 31, 2007

The aquarium is here!

Now, let’s imagine that the aquarium we order has finally arrived!

The following guidance may prove of interest:

The sand to be used should be thoroughly washed. This is to ensure that dirt in the sand will not cloud the aquarium later on. The inside of the aquarium is to be cleaned before the washed sand is introduced bit by bit. We must keep in mind that the outside of the aquarium should only be cleaned when there is already water in the aquarium. Cleaning an empty aquarium will likely dislodge it and cause the aquarium to leak

In case of Tropical tank, the heater and thermostat should be fitted.

The sand and the ‘harmless’ rocks could be arranged according to our creativity but the heater should be kept right down at the lowest point of the aquarium since heat rises. If the sand is arranged in hills and dales, the heater ought to be laid horizontally in a dale. The heater must not be buried in the sand. Heaped up sand should be anchored by rocks, otherwise it will flatten out when water is poured in.

Fill the aquarium gently. Once the tank has been filled it should not be moved. Moving it when it is full will cause leakage.

In case of large aquariums, planting can better be done when it is only half full of water. The plants with roots should have covering only as far as their “crown”, the green part should not be buried. Cuttings should be inserted up to half an inch. While doing all these, plant should be kept wet otherwise they will later tend to shrivel and dry.

The top light usually supplied with the aquarium, should be connected and plugged in.

Finally, the aquarium should not be located right by an outside window where the outside air might change the temperature of the water. The excess light will likely to turn the water green too.

Friday, March 30, 2007

More on aquarium setting

When my spouse first set up our first aquarium not so long ago, he just had ideas and no whatsoever guidelines. The staff from the aquarium store was not being helpful either. What we did not realize at that time was that setting an aquarium needs proper planning and knowledge too.

We are still talking about keeping fish the natural way; without using an air pump. For that reason it is important that we plan correctly on the size of the aquarium, water surface, number of fish, plants and light.

Coldwater fish are usually larger than tropical fish. Thus, compared to tropical fish, very few, very small coldwater fish can be kept in an aquarium of similar size. Overcrowding causes stress to the fish and affects their health.

As guidelines, with a water surface of 45cm x 30cm and 30cm depth of tank, it is wise to put 18 tropical fish with an average body length of 3cm. 24 –28 tropical fish of similar length is also reasonable for a 61cm x 30cm of water surface and 30 cm depth of tank.

Should we use air pumps, then the number of fish can be increased. But keeping fish the natural way proves to be satisfying too.

Shells, ornaments and rocks can mostly be used in a community aquarium. However, many kinds of rocks, in particular, slowly dissolve in water resulting in definite clouding of the water which will consequently alter the chemical content of the water and may be harmful to fish.

An important point to remember is that within reason, it is not the volume of water which counts but the area in contact with the air. Piling sand in hills and dales so that the fish have varying depths of water to choose from is helpful to their health, in addition to being decorative. Sand used must be not too fine or too coarse. Coarser sand will trap greater amounts of food and excreta and cause fouling. In the meantime, sand that is too fine will choke the plant.

Light is necessary for the health of the plants. Too much light will however cause the appearance of microscopic life known as algae and cause the water to turn green, while insufficient light kills the plant.

Last but not least, an aquarium is better situated in a dark spot where the amount of light it receives can be exactly controlled by using electric bulbs instead of relying on the whims of daylight.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Setting an aquarium without aeration

The vital factor of an aquarium is length and the width of it and not its depth.

Excess depth from top to bottom is harmful since it will be a factor contributing to the difference in the water temperature. Besides that the light may fail to penetrate down in deep tanks.

Large water surface enable us to use glass covers or close-fitting top light, as there would be enough oxygen in a cushion of air trapped between the top of the water and the glass cover. The carbon dioxide concentration will not be harmful for a good many hours. During this time, the cover would normally be displaced, for feeding thus renewing the oxygen supply and letting out the ‘bad’ air.

Then, another question will prop up our mind. Without aeration, do we need to change water in the aquarium? The anwer is no.

Fish consumed oxygen dissolved in the water and give off harmful carbon dioxide. We do not have to change water if the tank has sufficiently large air surface of the water. This will allow fresh oxygen taken and the bad gases escape at a fast enough rate. What we should remember is that there should not be too many or too big fish, otherwise the oxygen is consumed and the bad gases are produced too fast. Therefore, the size of the air surface (the area of water in actual contact with the atmosphere) and the number and size of fish should be relatively appropriate.

Growing plants in the aquarium is another way to break down the carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen and nitrates. The oxygen is for the fish consumption while the nitrates act as fertilizers for the plants. Lastly, there must be light to make the plant grows.

Who needs aeration pumps then? And say goodbyes to the extra responsibility of changing water.

Lets keep our fish the natural way.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Choosing fish

Appearance is not everything.

There are other factors involved in choosing a selection of species for our aquarium, whether it is an initial population or a subsequent addition. It is our responsibility to find out whether the species we are buying is suitable for our aquarium and as ‘tankmate’ for other fish we already own.

Moreover what we should do is to consider the compatibility of the fish. Fish of the same size do not mean that they are compatible. Two species may require the same water chemistry and temperature but are incompatible as regards to other factors such as water movement. Fish of the same species will not always get on together as in many cases, males, in particular regards each other as competitors. We must also bear in mind that fish found together in nature are mostly predators and prey and are not suitable to be ‘tankmate’.

On the other hand, species that naturally live in groups need the company of their own kind. There are also species which survive in whatever environment they are in. However it is wrong to assume that they are compatible.

When choosing fish, we must also consider the eventual fish size as the majority of fish bought is not yet fully grown. Overcrowding can cause stress and contribute to health problem. Besides overcrowding, incompatibility situation, whether between fish and fish or fish and their environment is likely to cause stress too.

Visit as many aquarium stores as we can so that we do not only have the opportunity to compare but to see a far wider selection of fish, equipment, d├ęcor, medications, books and other items. The condition of the store and the staff’s attitude will depict the state of the fish on sale.

A good dealer must also capable of advising and offering information on the eventual size of fish, suitability of fish for a community and the length of time we must wait after purchase, before setting up the aquarium and putting fish in it.

In conclusion, it is wise to buy or obtain fish from a good fish-keeper.

Tips to get healthy fish

When getting fish from the pet store, we should look into the following matters in order to ensure only healthy fish are obtained.

Fish for sale are in large display tank

In large aquarium, the fish may seem few in number and therefore gives the impression that the dealer is not offering a good assortment from which to choose from. But what matters is the fish is healthy.

From the dealer’s point of view, the small aquarium lowers the overhead costs, makes it easier and quicker to catch fish and gives a better ‘display’. On the other hand, we as the customers might suffer as fish kept in such conditions are bound to be weak and fall sick unless removed quickly.

The display tanks are not aerated

Fish accustomed to aeration will suffer if moved to non-aerated water. Therefore, we who do not have air pumps will face problems in keeping our fish healthy. Good dealers will keep fish in still water.

Fish are isolated before sale

Fish may carry disease or be sick themselves, so that quarantine of a few days is the only real safeguard. If the fish have been obtained from new or untried sources, a much longer period of separation is required. Look out for tanks labelled with 'Quarantined' in the store we visit.

The water and tank condition

The tank displaying fish for sale should be clean and a good dealer will go to the trouble to equalize water temperatures before taking the fish out of one tank to put into another.

To conclude, how the dealer keeps their fish gives us the indication on the condition of the fish for sale.