Aquarium and Pond Care with EcoBio-Block

How to Properly Clean Your Aquarium Filter

When it comes to keeping your aquarium clean and healthy, maintaining your filter is one of the most important things you can do. Not only does your tank filter help to remove solid debris particles from the water but it also helps to filter out dissolved wastes and toxins. If you do not properly clean your filter once in a while, it may not work as well as it should and your fish could suffer as a result.

How Often to Clean a Filter

variety of aquarium filters

Variety of aquarium filters

The frequency with which you must clean your filter may vary depending on the type of filter you have. Hang-on filters, for example, may need a quick cleaning every few weeks while a canister filter may not need to be cleaned more than 3 times per year. Sponge filters and undergravel filters, however, need more frequent cleaning – about every 2 weeks – to prevent them from becoming clogged and hampering their function. In order to ensure that your filter receives proper cleaning in a timely manner, you should establish some sort of schedule and keep track of the dates on which you clean the filter. For example, you might schedule the cleaning to coincide with your bi-weekly water changes so that you have an easier time remembering to do it.

Proper Filter Cleaning Technique

The proper cleaning technique varies from one filter type to another. Below you will find an overview of how to clean the most popular types of aquarium filter:

Canister Filter – Before you turn off the filter, unplug your inline heater (if you have one attached) so it cools down before the water stops flowing. Next, fill a bucket with tank water that you will use to keep the filter media wet while you clean the filter itself. Carefully remove the impeller from the filter and scrub it to remove algae build-up. Use a small brush to clean the hoses as well as the small nooks and crannies in the filter itself. Once you are finished cleaning, make sure the sealing ring is still in good shape before you refill and reinstall the filter.

Hang-on Filter – If your hang-on filter has a biological filtration component, be sure to keep it wet with tank water during the cleaning process. Otherwise, all you have to do is disassemble the filter and clean the hoses and filter body with a soft brush.

Sponge Filter – A sponge filter is an important source of biological filtration for your tank, so you do not want to boil the sponge or use untreated tap water to clean it or you may kill off too much beneficial bacteria at once. To clean the sponge, simply fill a bucket with tank water and squeeze it into the bucket a few times to remove built-up debris. Never let the sponge dry out during cleaning.

Undergravel Filter – The key to keeping your undergravel filter running properly is to perform weekly cleanings of the tank gravel using an aquarium vacuum. As long as you keep debris from building up in the substrate of your tank, your undergravel filter should work well. In regard to maintenance, all you should have to do is scrub the hose and impeller (if your filter has one) once every few weeks.

Other Tips for Keeping Your Tank Clean

In addition to having and maintaining a high-quality filtration system, there are a few other simple things you can do to keep your tank clean and your tank water clear. Installing an EcoBio-Stone in your fish tank, for example, is something that takes you one minute to accomplish but will save you a great deal of time. EcoBio-Stones are infused with beneficial bacteria as well as the nutrients they need to reproduce and thrive in your tank. Once these bacteria are established, they will work to maintain the nitrogen cycle in your tank, ensuring that wastes are properly broken down and that your tank water stays clear and healthy.

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August 23, 2014 at 2:24 PM Comments (0)

Water Plants to Oxygenate Your Pond

Maintaining an outdoor pond can be tricky because there are a lot of elements to control. One of the most important aspects of maintaining an outdoor pond is ensuring that the water is oxygenated enough to support your fish. Certain species of fish like goldfish and koi have very high needs for oxygen, so adding oxygenating plants to your pond will help to make your pond fish-friendly. Below you will find a list of some of the top oxygenating plants for use in outdoor ponds.

Recommended Species for Outdoor Ponds

The plant species on this list are particularly recommended for outdoor ponds due to their capacity to oxygenate pond water.

Hornwort – This group of plants are typically used as floating plants in ponds to help disperse sunlight. Hornwort has a feathered, spiny texture and produces tiny flowers. This plant tends to do well with very little maintenance and, though it will die back in winter, it will grow back from the fruit once the weather starts to warm.

Canadian Pondweed (Elodea canadensis) – This plant species tends to tolerate cold well but doesn’t do well when the temperature varies little between seasons. Canadian pondweed requires bright sunlight but it can be grown either in pots or left to float on the surface of the water. This species grows quickly in the spring and summer, achieving lengths up to 4 feet. If not properly controlled, this plant can become invasive.

South African Curly Pondweed (Lagarosiphon major) – Though this species doesn’t grow as quickly as Canadian pondweed, it has similar requirements for care. This plant can be grown in pots within the pond or allowed to float on the surface.

water milfoil

Water milfoil

Water Milfoils – This group of plants requires good light and prefers to be rooted in pots. Water milfoils produce feathery leaves and whorls of little white flowers that rise above the surface of the water. These plants are very hardy, being tolerant of both hot summers and cold winters. Popular species of water milfoil include alternate-flower milfoils (Myriophyllum alterniflorum) and whorled water milfoil (Myriophyllum verticillatum).

Fanwort (Cabomba carolina) – Also sometimes simply referred to as Cabomba, fanwort is a feathery green plant with reddish-purple leaves. This plant typically doesn’t survive freezing winters and silty water will interfere with its growth. These plants prefer soft, slightly acidic water without too much flow.

fontinalis antipyretica

Fontinalis antipyretica

Willow Mosses (Fontinalis spp.) – These plants are a type of aquatic moss that tend to thrive when provided plenty of rockwork to grow on. Willow mosses grow slowly, so they are most recommended for small ponds where there is less ground to cover. One of the most popular species of willow moss is Fontinalis antipyretica).

Curly Pondweed (Potamogeton crispus) – This species of pondweed is less common than either the Canadian or South African varieties, but it is a good option for smaller ponds. Curly pondweed produces pink stems with large leaves that grow 3 to 4 inches long. This plant does best when rooted and can grow in large canopies that float just under the surface of the water.

Other Tips for Pond Maintenance

In addition to adding oxygenating plants to your pond, you may also want to consider installing an EcoBio-Block Wave. EcoBio products are infused with beneficial bacteria as well as the nutrients they require to thrive and reproduce. Once installed in your pond, the beneficial bacteria in the EcoBio-Block Wave will establish and maintain the nitrogen cycle to ensure that your pond water stays clean and clear. This, in combination with your oxygenating plants, will make your pond a safe and healthy environment for your fish.

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August 13, 2014 at 12:08 PM Comments (0)

Tips for Growing Your Own Live Food

The key to keeping your aquarium fish happy and healthy is to provide them with a high-quality diet of various foods. Just as you would get tired of eating the same thing every day, so do your fish. In this article you will learn how to cultivate several different types of live food to ensure that your fish have plenty of dietary variety.

daphania

Dalphania

Daphnia

Also known as water fleas, daphnia are the ideal food for newly hatched fry because they are very small. You can find daphnia in most ponds, typically gathered near the coastline in swarms of tiny specks. To cultivate daphnia at home, gather a sample from a nearby pond in a 1-quart container. Next, set up a 15-gallon tub of pond water or aquarium water in an area that gets direct sunlight and add the daphnia. Add a half teaspoon of yeast and pieces of lettuce to feed the daphnia and perform 25% water changes once a week. Harvest the daphnia using a turkey baster and add them directly to your aquarium. To ensure a healthy daphnia culture, consider adding a bag of EcoBio-Pebbles to the tub. EcoBio-Pebbles are infused with beneficial bacteria that will help to keep the water clean so your daphnia can thrive and multiply quickly, leaving you with an endless supply of live food for your fish.

Microworms

These worms are very small, about 1/10 of an inch in length, which makes them ideal for young fry that have outgrown daphnia or infusoria. To cultivate microworms, combine ¼ cup wheat germ and 1/8 teaspoon baker’s yeast with enough water to form a thick paste. Place the paste in a glass bowl then add your microworm culture along with 3 bioballs positioned in a triangle shape, topped with a 4th bioball. Cover the bowl tightly and within a week, the top bioball should be packed with microworms – you can then just place the ball in your tank to feed your fish.

brine shrimp

brine shrimp

Brine Shrimp

These creatures make a healthy meal for fish of any age and size – they are also very easy to cultivate. To create your own brine shrimp hatchery, you will need to fill a 2-liter plastic bottle with saltwater and hook up an airstone to provide aeration and water movement. Use an aquarium heater or a lamp to provide heat to keep the water warm. Add the brine shrimp eggs to the water and maintain a water temperature around 85°F to ensure hatching. Once the brine shrimp hatch, you can simply scoop them out of the hatchery and add them directly to your tank.

Mosquito larva

Mosquito larva

Mosquito Larvae (Bloodworms)

Cultivating this type of food is incredibly easy because all you need to do is create a stagnant water source and mosquitos will find it. Set a 1-quart rectangular container of water out in a shaded area and wait for it to become dirty and stagnant – it shouldn’t take long before mosquitos find it and begin laying eggs. Wait for the eggs to hatch then harvest the tiny worm-like larvae from the surface of the water. Make sure you wash the larvae before feeding them to your fish.

Pond Snails

Because pond snails reproduce so readily, they are a very easy form of live food to cultivate. Pond snails are ideal for carnivorous species of fish, especially if you crush them before offering them to your fish. To cultivate pond snails, simply collect some pond snails from a nearby pond (or ask your local pet store for a few) and add them to a container of water. Feed the snails lettuce and other forms of vegetation and wait for them to reproduce. Be careful when adding pond snails to your tank as food because they can quickly reproduce and leave your tank overrun with these pests.

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August 11, 2014 at 2:53 PM Comments (0)

Blennies for Algae Control in the Saltwater Aquarium

Keeping your saltwater tank free from nuisance algae can be a challenge but it is not an impossible task. In fact, the solution may be simpler than you think – just add a few algae-eating fish to your tank! While you may be familiar with some of the more popular freshwater varieties of algae eaters, you may not be as familiar with the options for saltwater tanks. One of the most popular and effective saltwater aquarium algae eaters is the blenny.

What Are Blennies?

The name blenny is given to a large group of small fishes belonging to the suborder Blennioidei. There are over 800 species of blenny that can be found in marine, brackish and freshwater environments. For the most part, these fishes remain small – up to three inches in length – and they are known for their elongated, bodies and their tendency to burrow into the substrate. What makes these fish unique is the fact that their dorsal fins are often continuous, running all the way down the back. The tail fin is often rounded, though some species have a forked tail (like Meiacanthus astrodorsalis, the forktail blenny). These little fish can be extremely beneficial in removing microalgae from the tank but they can be very territorial so it is recommended that you only keep one species per tank.

Recommended Species

There are many different species of blenny to choose from, but some are more highly recommended for the home aquarium than others. You will find a list of recommended species below:

bicolor blenny

Bicolor Blenny

Bicolor Blenny (Ecsenius bicolor) – This blenny is half orange and half blue-brown and it grows to a maximum length of 4 inches. These fish are fairly peaceful by nature, but they do have a tendency to pick on other blennies and small gobies. This species is a great addition to reef aquarium, though they can do some damage to corals in smaller set-ups so they are recommended for a minimum tank size of 30 gallons.

Black Sailfin Blenny (Atrosalarias fuscus) – As suggested by its name, this species is black in color and reaches a maximum length of 4 inches. These fish require plenty of live rock in which to forage and their diet should be supplemented with fresh vegetable matter. This species tends to target hair and string algae as well as other forms of microalgae.

Canary Blenny (Meiacanthus oualanensis) – This semi-aggressive species can achieve a length up to 5 inches and it is known for its bright yellow coloration. Canary blennies are omnivorous which means that they will feed on microalgae but their diet should be supplemented with some meat-based foods.

Striped Blenny (Meiacanthus grammistes) – Another omnivorous species, these blennies are semi-aggressive and grow up to 5 inches in length. The striped blenny has a white body ornamented with alternating black and yellow stripes.

Tail Spot Blenny (Ecsenius stigmatura) – This species of blenny is very small and peaceful, growing only to about 2 ½ inches in length. These fish have dark red bodies with a black and yellow band running below a very large eye on either side of the head. Tail spot blennies require plenty of hiding places as well as live rock from which to graze on algae.

Other Tips for Algae Control

The key to preventing algae from ever becoming a problem in your saltwater tank is to limit the amount of nutrients which feed it. Algae requires both food and light in order to thrive, so be sure not to place your tank somewhere where it will receive a lot of direct sunlight. Additionally, you should keep the water in your tank well filtered and clean so that phosphates and other chemicals which provide nutrients for algae do not build up. One easy way to do this is to install an EcoBio-Stone in your tank. EcoBio-Stones are infused with beneficial bacteria as well as the nutrients they need to reproduce and thrive in your tank. These bacteria, once introduced into your tank, will establish and maintain the nitrogen cycle which is how waste products are converted into less harmful substances. In doing so, your tank water will be kept clear and free from algae.

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August 6, 2014 at 9:32 PM Comments (0)

Unique Fish Species for Your Outdoor Pond

When it comes to keeping a backyard pond, you may think that your options for fish are limited to goldfish and koi. In reality, however, there are plenty of unique and interesting fish that you can use to stock your pond. Below you will find descriptions of some of the most unique species of fish for backyard ponds.

Problems with Goldfish and Koi

Keeping goldfish and koi in an outdoor pond is more challenging than many pond owners realize. Both of these species need a significant amount of space, space that the average plastic backyard pond simply cannot accommodate. These fish need highly oxygenated water and a large water volume in order to accommodate for their high waste output – if you try to keep goldfish and koi in a pond that is too small, you will have a very difficult time maintaining high water quality. Water quality is the key to keeping any outdoor pond healthy and there are a few simple tricks you can employ to make your job easier. In addition to having a high-quality filtration system in place, you should also consider installing an EcoBio-Block Wave in your pond to help bolster the beneficial bacteria colony in your pond. EcoBio-Blocks are infused with live beneficial bacteria as well as the nutrients they need to reproduce and thrive in your pond, establishing and maintaining the nitrogen cycle so that your pond water remains clean and the quality remains high.

Megalotis SunfishSunfish

The fish belonging to the genus Lepomis are collectively referred to as Sunfish and they make great additions to the backyard pond. These fish typically grow between 4 and 8 inches long, though some species can grow up to 16 inches in length. Some common species belonging to this group of fishes include the Bluegill, Warmouth, Redbreast Sunfish, Spotted Sunfish and the Green Sunfish. If you are looking for a species that will add color to your pond, consider the Megalotis Sunfish which exhibits bright red and blue coloration.

Stonerollers

Another interesting type of fish for the backyard pond is the Stoneroller. These fish belong to the family Cyprinidae and they are native to the United States. There are five different species of Stoneroller – the Central Stoneroller, Largescale Stoneroller, Mexican Stoneroller, Bluefin Stoneroller and the unnamed Campostoma pullum. These fish tend to inhabit fast-moving bodies of water, so if you plan to use them in your pond you might consider installing a stream or water channel for these fish.

Darters

The fish belonging to the family Percidae are commonly referred to as Darters and they are found in freshwater streams throughout North America. These perch-like fish tend to remain small and they can make a colorful and active addition to the backyard pond or stream. Pair Darters with minnows to add some visual intrigue to your pond or water feature.

Killifish

If your backyard pond is very small, one of the best fish you can keep in it is the Killifish. There are over 1,000 different species of Killifish but one of the best species for a backyard pond is Heterandria formosa, the Least Killifish. These fish are one of the smallest species in the world, growing up to only 1.2 inches in length, which makes them ideal for a small pond. This species also prefers slow-moving or standing water, so a small pond with a single fountain to keep the water oxygenated will be ideal.

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July 11, 2014 at 11:01 AM Comments (0)