Aquarium and Pond Care with EcoBio-Block

The Figure 8 Puffer: A Brackish Aquarium Fish

When it comes to home aquariums, tanks are divided into two main categories: freshwater and saltwater. But what about the tanks that fall in between these two categories? Brackish aquariums are a mix of freshwater and saltwater and they are a unique challenge for the experienced aquarium hobbyist. Not only does the brackish aquarium offer interesting opportunities in terms of the tank itself, but you also have an entirely new category of fish to choose from. One of the most interesting fish for the brackish tank is the Figure 8 Puffer.

figure 8 puffer

The Figure 8 Puffer By Till Kresslein (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

About the Figure 8 Puffer

The Figure 8 Puffer is a fairly small species, growing only as large as 3 inches at maturity. This fish is classified as aggressive, though primarily to members of its own or similar species. When housed with other fish, this species does fairly well. The Figure 8 Puffer is named for the unique patterning on its body. These fish have a white belly and a dark brown or green back with bright yellow lines and spots that form figure 8-like shapes. These fish are carnivorous and require a diet of brine shrimp, earthworms, krill, and crustaceans. To ensure that your Figure 8 Puffer lives a long, healthy life it is recommended that you purchase the fish as a juvenile and raise it with meaty, vitamin-rich foods.

Tank Set-up and Requirements

The main requirement for a Figure 8 Puffer tank is, of course, that it be brackish water. Aside from that, keep in mind that this species if a warm-water tropical fish so you should plan to maintain a tank temperature around 78°F. These fish also require a fairly high pH, around 8.0, so it is recommended that you use aragonite sand or crushed coral as a substrate in your tank to help keep the pH level high. Though the Figure 8 Puffer can live in freshwater, its immune system will be compromised and it will be more likely to fall ill. When kept in the proper conditions, these fish have been known to live well over 10 years in captivity. Plan to keep the specific gravity in your brackish tank around 1.005 to 1.008.

In addition to providing your Figure 8 Puffer with the right water parameters, you also need to pay attention to its preference for tank decorations. These fish are very intelligent and they become bored easily so you will need to provide plenty of interesting decorations for your fish to explore. Decorate your tank with a variety of rocks, plants, caves, and even plastic tubes to give your puffer plenty to keep him occupied. Though it is not recommended that you keep more than one Figure 8 Puffer in a tank, if you choose to do so anyway, having a large number of decorations in the tank to break up sightlines will be very important. If you do keep more than one Figure 8 Puffer in a tank it is best to buy them both as juveniles and raise them together.

Tips for Maintaining the Tank

Maintenance tasks for a brackish tank are no different than those for a traditional freshwater or saltwater tank. You still need to perform weekly water changes and replace your filter media on a monthly basis. In addition to performing weekly water changes, consider installing an EcoBio-Stone in your brackish tank to keep the water clean. EcoBio-Stones are made from natural volcanic rock, infused with live beneficial bacteria and the nutrients they need to thrive. Once you install the stone in your tank the bacteria will get to work, multiplying to establish and maintain the nitrogen cycle in your tank. Before you know it, your tank water will be clean and clear and your fish will be much happier for it.

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October 9, 2014 at 2:29 PM Comments (0)

Treating and Preventing Aquarium Fish Constipation

As is true for humans, the type of diet you offer your fish has a direct effect on their digestion. If you feed your fish a diet that is too heavy or too low in fiber, it can lead to constipation. While this may not seem like a serious problem, in fish it can quickly become fatal when the fish are unable to pass feces properly. In this article you will learn the basics about the causes, treatment and prevention for constipation in aquarium fish.

Cause of Constipation in Fish

In most cases, constipation in aquarium fish presents in the form of bloating and stringy feces. When your fish are healthy, their feces is passed easily and falls immediately into the substrate at the bottom of your tank. When your fish are constipated, however, the feces hangs from the fish in strings. Other symptoms of constipation may include lethargy, lack of appetite, loss of condition and difficulty swimming. These symptoms become more severe the more chronic the constipation becomes.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of constipation can easily be mistaken for the symptoms of dropsy. As a result, many aquarium fish do not get the treatment they need as soon as they should. The main cause of constipation in aquarium fish is a diet lacking in fiber. Without adequate fiber in the diet, your fish’s digestive system will not be able to properly expel feces. You may not realize it, but most commercial fish foods are very low in fiber. For this reason, you should consider supplementing the diet of your fish with fresh vegetable matter.

Treatments for Fish Constipation

Because the cause of constipation is a lack of fiber in the diet, the best treatment is to feed your fish high-fiber foods. These high-fiber foods will act as a natural laxative, helping your fish to expel accumulated feces and to resume normal digestion. The most common food to use as treatment for constipation in fish is tinned peas – for large fish you can leave the peas whole but, for smaller fish, you should squash or chop them. It is important to avoid feeding other foods when using peas as a treatment for constipation to ensure that your fish eats them. You may also want to consider dosing the tank with 1 to 3 teaspoons of Epsom salt per 5 gallons of tank volume – the Epsom salt will act as a muscle relaxant to help in cases of severe constipation.

Prevention Methods for Fish Constipation

Java moss is one of the easiest and fastest- growing aquarium plants as a vegetable food source for fish.

Java moss is one of the easiest and fastest- growing aquarium plants as a vegetable food source for fish.

Fortunately, preventing constipation in fish is very easy – you just have to be sure to offer the right type of food. For herbivorous fish, the best foods to offer are leafy greens rather than commercial pellets or flakes. Even non-herbivorous fish may enjoy the occasional piece of lettuce, cucumber or sweet potato as a treat. You can also stock your aquarium with fast-growing live plants so your fish can eat them as they like. When adding live plants to your tank you need to be aware that certain adjustments may be required to keep your plants alive. Live plants require clean water to thrive, so consider adding an EcoBio-Stone to your aquarium. EcoBio-Stones are made from natural volcanic rock and cement infused with beneficial bacteria and the nutrients they need to thrive. As soon as you place your EcoBio-Stone in the tank the beneficial bacteria will begin to multiply, establishing and maintaining the nitrogen cycle which is the key to keeping your tank water clear.

As is true with all living creatures, the state of your fish’s diet directly impacts its health and condition. Be conscientious about providing your fish with a healthy diet to prevent diseases and dangerous conditions like constipation.

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September 27, 2014 at 2:18 PM Comments (0)

The Importance of Testing Pond Water

garden pond

The health of your pond is important for keeping your fish healthy and regular testing will help you to maintain a clean environment for your fish.

The health of your pond fish is directly affected by the quality of your pond water. You can install the highest quality filtration system and keep your pond free of leaves and detritus, but unless you test the water regularly you cannot truly know what the conditions in your pond are like. Even a slight accumulation of ammonia or other toxins can be dangerous for your fish and you cannot detect these problems simply by looking at the water.

Benefits of Testing Pond Water

Because outdoor ponds typically have a much higher water volume than indoor tanks, they are better able to handle small changes in water chemistry. Over time, however, even small changes can accumulate and lead to poor conditions in your pond which can stress or even endanger your fish. The best way to find out what is going on in your pond is to test the water using an aquarium and pond water test kit. These tests are easy to come by – simply stop in to your local pet store or aquarium supply shop. Testing your pond water only takes a few minutes but the benefits are many. Some of the benefits of testing your pond water regularly include:

  • Gives you an idea of what is “normal” for your pond
  • Increases your chances of noticing changes in water chemistry before it affects your fish
  • Helps you to cultivate the type of environment your fish need to thrive
  • Only takes a few minutes to complete once a week
  • Helps to keep your fish from becoming stressed due to poor water quality

Tips and Recommendations for Testing

Depending on what type of water testing kit you buy, you may have the option to test a variety of water parameters. The most important parameters to test on a weekly basis are pH level, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. If you are an experienced hobbyist, you may also like to keep an eye on the water hardness or alkalinity in your pond – these parameters may be more important for certain types of fish than for others. To make the most of your testing, perform them on the same day each week and record the results in a journal. After a few tests you will be able to get an idea what is “normal” for your pond so you will be able to notice quickly if something is out of line. When this happens, you can take the necessary steps to remedy the problem before it has a significant impact on your fish.

Maintaining High Water Quality

The key to keeping your pond fish healthy is to ensure that the water quality in your pond is kept high. Though testing your pond water on a regular basis will help you to keep an eye on water quality, it will not actually do anything to impact the quality. One of the simplest things you can do to boost and maintain high water quality in your pond is to install an EcoBio-Block Wave or EcoBio-Block nsM. They are infused with beneficial bacteria and the nutrients they need to thrive. As soon as you place your EcoBio-Block product in the pond, the beneficial bacteria will begin to multiply, establishing and maintaining the nitrogen cycle which is the key to keeping your pond water clear. The cleaner your pond water, the happier and healthier your fish will be!

Testing your pond water on a regular basis is a simple but an important task. If you do not keep an eye on the quality of your pond water, how will you know if something changes? The best way to prevent rapid changes in water quality (and the stress it causes your fish) is to test your pond water often to make sure that it is within the proper parameters.

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September 11, 2014 at 11:17 AM Comments (0)

Treating Your Saltwater Parasites with Fresh Water

saltwater tankAny experienced freshwater aquarium hobbyist knows the value of using saltwater as a treatment for a variety of freshwater aquarium fish diseases. For example, a salt bath can work wonders in eradicating fungus, bacteria and parasites. But is the opposite true? In some cases, fresh water can be effective as a treatment for certain saltwater ailments including parasites.

How Does it Work?

The way freshwater works as a treatment for parasite infections is very simple – exposing the parasites to a significantly different salinity level causes a fatal reaction. By exposing the parasite to water of differing salinity, you will be changing the osmotic gradient that the parasite is used to. As a result, water begins to diffuse into the parasite’s body, causing it to expand and burst. This treatment doesn’t work on all types of parasites, especially if they have become embedded in the fish’s skin, gills or mucus. This treatment is also ineffective against systemic infections.

Using Fresh Water to Treat Parasites

The key to ensuring that your fish make a full recovery from any illness is to quarantine the fish as soon as you notice the symptoms of illness. Not only will this prevent the disease from spreading, but it also places your fish in a clean environment where you can easily administer treatment so your fish can heal. As part of the treatment process for certain types of parasites, you may want to consider a freshwater bath. To perform this treatment, simply place your fish in a bucket of dechlorinated freshwater for between 2 and 8 minutes. Keep a close eye on the fish and if it appears to become stressed before the 8 minutes is up, return it to the hospital tank immediately.

When preparing a freshwater bath for your fish, be sure to use water that is the same temperature and pH level as the water in your tank. Be aware that certain species of fish are more sensitive to changes in salinity than others, so look for signs of stress which may include swimming erratically, laying on its side, or jumping out of the bucket. When it comes time to remove your fish, use a soft net to transfer it back into the tank so you do not pour any of the contaminated water into the hospital tank.

Tips for Preventing Parasites

Like many pathogens, parasites can be opportunistic – they may live in your saltwater aquarium in small numbers but won’t bother your fish until they become stressed. In most cases, poor hygiene in the aquarium is the factor that triggers the explosion of parasites in your tank. The best way to prevent parasites, then, is to keep your tank water clean and clear. In addition to avoiding overfeeding your fish and using a high-quality filtration system, you should also consider installing an EcoBio-Stone in your tank. EcoBio-Stones are made from natural volcanic rock and cement infused with beneficial bacteria and the nutrients they need to thrive. As soon as you place your EcoBio-Stone in the tank the beneficial bacteria will begin to multiply, establishing and maintaining the nitrogen cycle which is the key to keeping your tank water clear. The cleaner your tank water is, the less stressed your fish will be and the less susceptible they are to parasites.

Keeping your tank clean will help to prevent parasites from becoming a problem in your saltwater tank. In the event that a parasite outbreak does occur, however, you may be able to use fresh water as a treatment option.

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September 6, 2014 at 2:44 PM Comment (1)

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)