Aquarium and Pond Care with EcoBio-Block

Saltwater Aquarium Inverts – Cultivating a Cleanup Crew

For freshwater aquariums, there are a wide variety of algae eating species of fish and invertebrates that can help to keep the tank clean. But what about saltwater tanks? A saltwater aquarium has different cleaning needs and thus requires a special clean-up crew. In this article you will learn the basics regarding what type of invertebrates are recommended to help keep your saltwater aquarium clean.

Saltwater Tank Cleaning Needs

In a freshwater tank, your main concern is algae. In a saltwater tank, there are many different types of algae to worry about in addition to accumulated fish food and organic waste materials that need to be removed from the tank. Below you will find a list of the common types of algae in a saltwater tank:

  • Red Slime – Also known as cyanobacteria, slimy red algae growths are common in reef tanks and they can be caused by an excess of phosphates and iron; low water flow; warm temperatures; and low alkalinity.
  • Diatoms – Diatoms are most likely to appear in new saltwater tanks and they manifest in the form of a brown, powder-like substance that disappears as the tank cycles.
  • Green Film Algae – This type of algae manifests in the form of a powdery green film on tank surfaces or cloudy green water. Green film algae is most likely to form when there is an excess of nutrients.
  • Green Hair Algae – Green hair algae is very fine in texture and it can be removed manually or eaten by herbivorous saltwater species of fish and invertebrates.
  • Green Turf Algae – This type of algae grows in coarse, wiry patches on live rock and it is difficult to treat while it is still in the aquarium. Sea urchins and crabs are the only inverts that are likely to be effective against this type of algae.
  • Blue/Green Algae – Another type of cyanobacteria, blue/green algae forms slimy mats on tank surfaces and it is difficult to eradicate because many invertebrates ignore it.

Hermit_Crab

Hermit crabs are great for dealing with difficult types of algae. harmit crab photo by www.viajar24h.com (Polinesia (www.viajar24h.com)-821) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Recommended Saltwater Invertebrates

Now that you know what kinds of algae you are likely to encounter in your saltwater tank, you can begin to plan your cleanup crew. The key to a successful cleanup crew is to include a variety of species with each species having a different specialty so all the types of nuisance algae are covered. Sea snails, for example, tend to feed on detritus including uneaten fish food, fish waste, and organic debris – some snails also feed on certain types of algae. Hermit crabs, on the other hand, feed largely on animal matter and algae. Crabs are great for dealing with difficult types of algae such as filamentous algae, hair algae, slime algae, and cyanobacteria.

Sea urchins can sometimes be good members of a saltwater cleanup crew, though it is generally the juveniles that tend to feed on algae – as the urchins grow, they tend to become more carnivorous. Certain species of shrimp can be used in saltwater cleanup crews to feed on plankton, bristleworms, and other nuisance species. Sea stars do not tend to eat algae but they will filter your tank substrate, feeding on accumulated debris. It is also important to remember that certain species of saltwater fish feed on algae – some examples include blennies, tangs, and surgeonfish.

Additional Tank Cleaning Tips

Adding some of the aforementioned invertebrates to your saltwater tank will help to control nuisance algae and other problems in the aquarium. You still need to perform regular water changes, however, because your cleanup crew does nothing for your water chemistry – water changes are still necessary to keep ammonia levels at bay. In addition to performing routine water changes, you may also want to think about installing an EcoBio-Stone in your tank. These stones are made from natural zeolite and crushed volcanic rock, infused with live beneficial bacteria and the nutrients they need to thrive. By adding an EcoBio-Stone to your saltwater tank you will find that the beneficial bacteria quickly reproduce to establish and maintain the nitrogen cycle, thus keeping the tank water clean and clear. Best of all, a single EcoBio-Stone can last for up to 2 years.

 

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November 12, 2014 at 4:04 PM Comments (0)

How to Start a New Aquarium Easily

new fish tankWhen starting a new aquarium you probably direct most of your attention to the necessary tank equipment, decorations, and the tank itself. But what about the water? In a fully established aquarium, the tank water (as well as the substrate and other tank surfaces) is home to a colony of beneficial bacteria that helps to establish and maintain the nitrogen cycle. Without this bacteria, your tank could go through what is called “new tank syndrome” and it could prove deadly for your fish. In this article you will learn the basics about new tank syndrome and receive some tips for starting your aquarium off correctly with live beneficial bacteria.

What is New Tank Syndrome?

New tank syndrome refers to the cycling of a new aquarium (or an existing aquarium) during which the ammonia levels in the tank spike to dangerous levels. If you already have fish in your tank, this could be incredibly harmful – even fatal to your fish. Ammonia is a natural byproduct of the nitrogen cycle – the cycle through which beneficial bacteria help to break down waste, converting toxic ammonia and nitrites into less harmful nitrates. If the colony of beneficial bacteria in your tank hasn’t grown to sufficient levels by the time you add your fish, the biological load of the tank could be too great for the existing beneficial bacteria to handle. As a result, the tank will “re-cycle” and go through new tank syndrome.

Using Live Beneficial Bacteria

There are many ways to safely cycle your tank before adding any fish but one of the easiest (and quickest) methods is to add live beneficial bacteria directly to the tank. If you visit the aquarium aisle at your local pet store or visit an online aquarium supply website, you will find a number of live beneficial bacteria products. Though dosage instructions will vary from one product to another, many only require you to add 1 teaspoon per 10 gallons of the product to your tank when you first set it up and then again 7 days later. By adding live beneficial bacteria to your tank you can take the guesswork out of starting a new aquarium and make it fit and ready for fish sooner than ever.

Other Ways to Jump-Start Your Tank

There are other methods for cycling your aquarium to avoid new tank syndrome, but none of them are as easy as adding live beneficial bacteria. One option is to “feed” the tank with small amounts of flake food daily over the course of two weeks to encourage the growth and reproduction of bacteria. Some aquarium hobbyists even cycle their tanks by adding one or two hardy species of fish. The waste produced by these fish, and the leftover food they do not eat, helps to jumpstart the nitrogen cycle in the tank. This process in particular can be dangerous for fish, however, and it is generally not recommended by experienced aquarium hobbyists.

You could also consider installing an EcoBio-Stone in your tank to grow your colony of beneficial bacteria quickly and keep consistently high levels in your tank to help keep the water crystal clear. 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. After two weeks, test your tank water and if the ammonia and nitrite levels are at zero, it is safe to assume that your tank has cycled and that it is ready for fish.

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October 23, 2014 at 8:33 PM Comments (0)

Cloudy Goldfish Tank- What to Do About It

Aquarium hobbyists spend many hours planning and setting up their aquariums to ensure that they look as good as possible. Because you put so much time and effort into your tank, it can be devastating when your efforts are ruined by cloudy tank water. Not only does cloudy aquarium water keep you from properly viewing your fish and other tank inhabitants, but it can also be a sign of a larger problem with your tank parameters or water quality. In this article you will learn why the water might turn cloudy in your goldfish tank and what you can do about it.

cloudy goldfish tank

Cloudy goldfish tank

Reasons for Cloudy Water

Cloudy tank water may be the largest and most common complaint of new goldfish tank owners. It can pop up suddenly and it does not always go away on its own. The reasons for cloudy water in a goldfish tank may vary but you must identify the cause of the problem before you can fix it. One of the most common reasons for cloudy water in a goldfish tank is a bacterial bloom. As you may already know, live beneficial bacteria in your tank are responsible for establishing and maintaining the nitrogen cycle that keeps your tank clean and ammonia levels low. In addition to this beneficial bacteria, however, your tank also contains other types of bacteria and microscopic organisms. When the amount of these microscopic organisms in your tank grows too large, it can result in a bacterial bloom which clouds the appearance of your tank water.

Another possible cause for cloudy goldfish tank water is algae – if the cloudiness in your tank water has a greenish tint, this is likely the case. Like bacterial blooms, algae blooms can occur in a goldfish tank when there is an abundance of nutrients. Nutrients for algae include light and nitrate. If your tank is exposed to direct sunlight or if you leave your tank lights on too long, it could spur the growth of algae. A failure to perform weekly water changes can also spur algae growth because it will lead to increased nitrate levels in the tank.

How to Remedy the Situation

Once you have identified the cause of the problem, your next step is to treat it. In the case of a bacterial bloom, however, that treatment may simply involve waiting. In most cases, bacterial blooms clear up by themselves as the beneficial bacteria in your tank break down wastes and thus remove the excess nutrients that caused the bloom in the first place. Performing a water change may also help to remedy cloudy goldfish tank water. In the case of a bacterial bloom, a significant water change may help to remove some of the offending bacteria and, in the case of an algae bloom, it will reduce the nitrate levels in your tank. Routine water changes and filter maintenance are essential for keeping the water in your goldfish tank clean and clear.

Tips for Keeping Tank Water Clear

In addition to performing weekly water changes, consider installing an EcoBio-Stone in your goldfish 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 and keeping beneficial bacteria levels consistently high. With an EcoBio-Stone in place, your risk of experiencing a bacterial or algae bloom in your tank is much lower than it would be in a tank without one. Best of all, a single EcoBio-Stone can last up to 2 years and, once you install it, you don’t have to do anything else.

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October 13, 2014 at 10:08 AM Comments (0)

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)