It seems that I begin many of these letters by quoting from some correspondence. After all, what better or more practical source of inspiration can there be? In this instance, the point is one that is brought up rather frequently by beginners in aquarium care, who have not been very successful after having seemingly followed the primary instructions gleaned from books or our dealer friends. They give recommended foods in conservative amounts, have good light and temperature control. But here is where trouble starts, through the acceptance of a fallacious signal as to what constitutes “overcrowding." The signal watched for is when the fishes gasp at the surface of the water, "blowing bubbles." That is a carry-over from the days when goldfish was King. Goldfish and other cool-water fishes are very sensitive to any shortage of oxygen in the water, or the presence of too much carbon dioxide. They quickly express their distress by breathing at the surface. Incidentally, I have often wondered how fishes, never before in such a situation, know enough to get a fresh supply of oxygen at the surface of the water. Warm-water fishes are better equipped to get along in oxygen-deficient conditions. In a tank containing both goldfish and exotics (a combination not recommended) the goldfish will invariably be the first to register discomfort from overcrowding. The point that I am stressing is that “Tropicals” are apt to "suffer in silence." When they come to the surface and stay there, conditions are not merely bad, but very bad. Undetected crowding has been present for some time past, indicated by the poor condition of the fishes. Of course such symptoms can come from other causes, but crowding is one of the first to look for. That suspicion can be confirmed if frequent partial changes of water relieves the condition. Water changes help keep the parameters within acceptable limits, help remove excess organic material such as waste and uneaten food, and also replenish required minerals in the water that the fish use up over time. If you prefer not to do as many water changes or are physically unable to, there are alternatives that can reduce your labor. My favorite is the EcoBio-Block, which is an aquarium care product that introduces beneficial bacteria into the aquarium (which keep the biological filter healthy) and slowly leach necessary minerals into the water to keep fish healthy and help beginners become successful aquarists. Advising a new aquarist at the height of his frenzy to go slowly in building up his tank of fishes is like talking against the tempest. Recently I fitted out a grandson with an aquarium and a suitable collection of fishes. All was lovely for a few weeks until he was bitten with the desire for more and more. The dealer could not be blamed for selling to him, but the result was not hard to foresee – a general attack of "Ich." Overcrowding does not necessarily cause that disease, but reduces the vitality of the fishes so that they are more subject to it. The elder Rothschild is credited with the wise crack "Nobody ever got poor taking a profit." I would paraphrase that in reverse: "No aquarist ever got into trouble by having too few fishes:"
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