When you are ready to purchase your first aquarium, one of the first things you learn is how to properly cycle the aquarium and how to slowly introduce new fish to avoid ammonia spikes while the colonies of beneficial bacteria are developing. That's easy enough to follow -- but what about when you have to move an existing community of fish to a new home? Maybe you moved and have to re-establish the aquarium, maybe you're moving to a larger or even a smaller tank; whatever the reason, there are ways to safely move the fish without as much risk of ammonia spikes.
A properly cycled tank contains a healthy colony of bacteria that breaks down ammonia from a fish's waste and uneaten food into nitrites and then into nitrates. In a healthy tank, there should be 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and less than 40ppm nitrates (20ppm if you have invertebrates such as snails or shrimp). Without sufficient amounts of beneficial bacteria, ammonia and nitrite in the water may be fatal to fish.
Beneficial bacteria live all through the water and on every underwater surface in the aquarium, but the water itself carries a very low concentration of bacteria so it's not very effective to simply transfer water from the old aquarium to the new in order to maintain bacteria levels. Ideally, you will be able to transfer some old filter media to the new aquarium, or even a handful of gravel or fake plants that will all have beneficial bacteria on them. Make sure that the materials of your choice stay wet with tank water until they can be placed in the new aquarium.
Alternatively, if you have EcoBio-Stone products in your aquarium, that will be sufficient to switch over to the new one. EcoBio-Block has a lot of beneficial bacteria living in its volcanic rock and has quite a bit of surface area so a lot of additional bacteria get transferred over from the established tank. It is not necessary to keep EcoBio-Block wet, but it may help eliminate any minor ammonia spikes that may occur after the transfer as there will be more active bacteria immediately if kept wet. EcoBio-Block will also allow you to wait a little bit longer before doing the first water change as it provides essential minerals that would otherwise have to be replenished through water changes, giving the fish extra time to de-stress after a big move without being bothered.
Make sure not to put whatever bacteria-containing materials you've chosen into the new aquarium until a de-chlorinator has been used in the water as chlorine will kill the bacteria. Keep close tabs on the water parameters for the first week after the transfer, doing minor water changes as needed to compensate for any ammonia in the system that may not be compensated for by the bacteria yet. Watch the fish closely for any clamped fins or red, puffy gills as these may be signs that the water parameters are off. If these simple guidelines are followed your fish should have a relatively effortless and healthy move.
How to prepare your aquarium before you leave for a vacation.
If you've been doing some research on taking care of your new aquarium or are an experienced fish keeper, you'll no doubt have noticed that while the requirements of an aquarium are not very difficult to fulfill, they do require ongoing attention. So what happens if you want to go on vacation and no one will be around to do water changes? What if there's a family emergency that takes your time and attention for extended periods of time? Life is so unpredictable you can never be absolutely certain that you'll always be there to look after your fish, but with a few alterations to your daily aquarium care schedule you can effectively switch to a temporary "low-maintenance" mode.
The primary concern with extended absences or emergency situations where there's just no time to perform aquarium maintenance tasks is the water quality. Depending on stocking levels, aquariums need a partial water change anywhere from once a month to as often as once a week. If you're like me, you barely trust anyone else to feed your fish, much less perform water changes, so the ideal solution is to find a way to maintain water quality for extended periods until you can resume your normal maintenance routine.
Water changes are done to remove excess nitrates in the system; nitrate is the end product after ammonia and nitrites from waste and uneaten food have been broken down by beneficial bacteria. If you wish to slow the rate of nitrate buildup, you simply have to reduce the amount of waste and uneaten food in the aquarium; when you're not able to do water changes, this means feeding less. In the wild there is no guarantee of getting regular food; as a result a fish's metabolism is such that the fish can take advantage of food when it is offered but can also live for days or weeks with very little or no food without it having an adverse effect on the fish's health. So, option one is to cut back to only feeding the fish once every two or three days; this won't completely stop the level of nitrates from growing, but it will help slow it.
Next, you can use a water maintenance product such as EcoBio-Stone in your aquarium. EcoBio-Block contains a strain of hardy beneficial bacteria that break down the ammonia and nitrites from waste. Additionally, the product leaches essential minerals into the water; these minerals are used up quickly by the fish and generally need to be replaced through water changes unless a water maintenance product is present. There is also evidence indicating that EcoBio-Block helps promote the growth of anaerobic bacteria in the substrate which breaks nitrates down into a gas that can evaporate, making water changes unnecessary. There haven't been sufficient studies to confirm this yet, but aquarists have observed low nitrate levels and have been able to go for even a year at a time without doing a partial water change. Organic material such as waste and excess food will still need to be removed either through the filtration system or gravel vacuums, but that can be done at your leisure.
Other than ensuring water quality, about the only maintenance routine that must be seen to regardless of outside events are occasional checks to ensure there is no disease showing in the tank, no deaths for any reason, that filter pads are clean and all equipment are running properly. copyright©ONEdersave Products