Home Aquariums: Why They Are Handy The practice of keeping fish in the home came about in the late 1800's. These fish were usually kept for short periods of time, and were used as a food source. Home aquariums were generally kept only in coastal towns where the fish were readily accessible. Today, however many things of changed. We wouldn't dream of dipping a net into an aquarium and frying up the family pet for dinner. That's what Red Lobster is for. Home aquariums are for our personal entertainment and enjoyment. Aquariums add life and color to any room. They soothe sick patients at doctor's offices, and entertain small children while their parents are shopping at Nordstrom. When considering adopting a family pet, think fish. They are a good compromise when your children are eying that puppy in the window of the local pet store. Aquariums need little care in comparison to cats, dogs and even birds. When going out of town, it is acceptable to leave the fish alone for a week or even longer. Just have a neighbor feed them once or twice. There is no grooming or bathing needed for fish. While a home aquarium does require regular maintenance and cleaning, it is minor compared to the care required for larger pets. Aquariums are usually less costly, as well. Dogs and cats require regular visits to the veterinarian, vaccinations, flea and tick medications, etc. Last year the purchase of pet toys was a billion dollar industry. We don't have to worry about buying a tug rope or a stuffed friend for our fish. An aquarium is less of a commitment than larger pets, and can still be a welcome addition to the family home. Aquariums are great learning tools for small children. Kids get excited if they are involved in process. They can learn responsibility by having to help with the chores associated with aquarium care. Teach the children how to feed the fish and how to clean the tank. Aquariums are very handy for helping kids develop language skills, as well. It's amazing how much conversation can take place between a two-year old and an aquarium. Let the kids name the fish. Have discussions and ask questions like, what color is that fish? What are the fish doing today? Count the fish. Just be careful with counting. If one of the fish has decided to eat some of its tank mates that could turn into a different type of learning experience altogether. This doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing; you just have to be prepared for it. After all, kids do have to learn about the cycle of life and death somehow. It would certainly be a lot easier to cope with the death of goldfish as a child's first loss, rather than a human family member. In these times of having five hundred plus cable channels and excessive video games, an aquarium can be a refreshing touch to a home. The next time you sit down for a family dinner, try looking at the aquarium instead of the television. You never know, it may just start an actual conversation. How to Care For Aquarium Fish An aquarium is perhaps the easiest type of pet to have. There are some basic steps to caring for fish once the tank is established. There are things that should be done daily to care for fish and some things that need only be done weekly or bi-weekly. Daily maintenance of an aquarium is fairly minimal. Look at the fish every day to make sure they appear to be overall healthy and happy. This may seem silly, but the main cause of sickness in fish is stress. So, a happy fish is a healthy fish. Check to see that all lights and filters on the aquarium are plugged in and functioning correctly. Feed the fish daily. Only feed what can be consumed in the first two to five minutes. Any excess food will become debris in the tank and lead to illness or attribute to excess nitrite levels. You should check the water ph and temp weekly. Any necessary adjustment should be made promptly. Check with your local pet store when purchasing fish to find out what levels are appropriate. They vary amongst fish species. Filter cleaning is extremely important. Filters collect waste excreted by the fish and left in the tank in the form of excessive fool. The filters will eventually fill with debris and be unable to do their job unless they are cleaned. In addition to eliminating waste, filter sometimes act as an aeration device cycling oxygen through the tank. If the filters are clogged, circulation slows. This limits the amount of oxygen in the tank. If left untreated, this could be deadly for your fish. Change the filter on the aquarium every two to three weeks depending on need. You will know when it needs to be cleaned because the water will become cloudy or smelly. Some filters need to be replaced, while other simply need to be cleaned with water. The proper way to change water in a tank is to do it gradually. First unplug any lights and equipment before cleaning the aquarium. Change approximately one third of the water in the aquarium every one to two weeks. Water from the tap should be treated accordingly before adding to the tank and adjusted within two degrees of the aquarium. Again, check with your local retailer when purchasing fish. Some treatments allow the tap water to be ready in as little as an hour, while others need to sit overnight before being added to the tank. Clean the sides of the tank with a scrubber to remove any built up algae. Be careful not to disturb or scare the fish. Move rocks and decorations to loosen any debris. Try to collect this debris when removing the water, either with a bucket or a vacuum type of siphon. Prune any dead leaves from aquatic plants. Clean the outside of the tank with a squeegee and clean tap water. Clean the cover and lid. Lastly, plug the aquarium back in, and enjoy the freshly cleaned tank. Tips on Aquarium Care and Cleaning The proper care and cleaning of your aquarium is the most important, yet most overlooked aspect of owning an aquarium. By avoiding the care and maintenance of a fish tank, not only will it lose the visual appeal, but your fish will be unhealthy and unhappy. By following a daily, weekly and monthly care program, you will maintain a beautiful, clean and healthy aquarium. Daily Cleaning Routine To maintain a clean aquarium, there are some daily tasks that must be done. First and foremost, it's important to check the temperature of the tank and make sure it stays consistent. For tropical freshwater fish, the temperature should average at around 77 degrees. Too much heat in your aquarium will promote the growth of algae. Always check for sick or dead fish daily. If you have a sick fish, it should be removed from the tank immediately or it may harm the other inhabitants of the aquarium. Lastly, check that the pump and filter are functioning properly. Weekly Cleaning Routine Weekly maintenance is necessary to keep the tank healthy. On a weekly basis, any waste should be removed from the surface of the gravel at the bottom of the tank. Using a siphon tube will accomplish this. If water is removed during this process, be sure to replace it and keep the water in the tank at the same level. Add chemicals and chlorine weekly so the balance within the tank remains the same. At this time, it is best to test the water for the ammonia and nitrate levels. Don't overlook testing the pH of the water as well. If you are raising live plants, tend to them each week. Trim them back if they are getting too big, and remove any dead or sick leaves. Re-anchor and new sprouts into your gravel. Also, check your tank for snails. You can remove snails by floating a piece of lettuce leaf in the tank. The snails will be attracted to the lettuce, and you can remove them using a net. Monthly Cleaning Routine Finally, some monthly steps will assure that your aquarium stays clean and healthy. A partial water change should be performed each month. Using a siphon hose, remove 20 to 25 percent of the water from the tank. Always make sure that your chemical balance is correct. High levels of chlorine and ammonia will cause death. Cleaning the filter should be a monthly task as well as changing the filter cartridge. Be sure not to clean the filter too thoroughly as it contains helpful bacteria that aids in stabilizing the chemical balance in the tank. During the monthly cleaning, scrape and remove all algae from the surface of the tank. If you find you are having a significant amount of algae, consider adding an algae eater to the tank. Should you already have one, be sure to keep an eye on the temperature of the tank and you may also want to limit the time in which a light is used. Any increased heat source will speed up the production of algae inside the aquarium. If your tank is located in direct sunlight and you are having an algae problem, it is best to relocate the tank. By following a maintenance schedule, you will be sure to keep a clean, clear and healthy tank. Aquarium care is essential and must be performed regularly to ensure the long and happy life of your fish. Provide yourself with an aquarium to be proud of by keeping up with the care and cleaning. Aquarium Care for the Freshwater Guppy Guppies are perhaps the most popular type of freshwater fish to keep in an aquarium. Luckily, they are fairly easy to keep as well. Guppies are hardy fish that can adjust easily to minor fluctuations in water quality. However, don't allow these fluctuations to become common practice, as they do cause some stress to the fish. The water temperature in an aquarium for guppies should be kept between seventy two and eighty two degrees. The P.H. level should be kept between 7.0 and 8.2. As you can see these specifications are much more forgiving than those for certain tropical or marine fish. Guppies mature quickly and usually only grow to be about one and a half to two inches long. There small bodies and feathery fan like tails add a lot of interest to the tank. They are just fun to watch. As with any type of aquarium, there are three basic components to caring for the fish. Diet is very important. Guppies should be fed very small amounts as often as three times a day. Guppies will eat just about anything, but their main diet should consist of frozen or flake foods. This should be especially regarded when there are baby guppies in the tank, because guppies will eat their young. The next most important feature to caring for any fish is appropriate water regulation. The specific temperatures are listed above, but it is also important to make frequent water changes. Usually every one to two weeks, depending on need. If the water starts to smell or become cloudy, this is a good indication that it is time to change the water. If water changes are made gradually, meaning change approximately one third of the tank at a time, then there is little disruption made to the fish. Last on the list for keeping fish healthy, is to keep them happy. Try to recreate their natural environment. It is recommended to keep a variety of plants in the aquarium for guppies to seek refuge. There should be about one to two inches of substrate in the bottom of the tank. Colored rock or dead crushed coral make a nice addition to the aquarium, and may help to make the fish feel more at home. A few varieties of guppies are the Fantail, Flagtail, Spadetail, Deltatail and the Roundtail. The names of all of these different types of guppies focus on the tails because they are so remarkable and unique. The tail itself is usually about one third of the size of the whole fish. It is possible to mix guppies with other varieties of fish. However be careful when mixing because, guppies are targeted as easy prey due to those fancy tails. Guppies breed very quickly, usually about every three to four weeks. They will interbreed amongst themselves, so the aquarium could very quickly become filled with many different varieties of color. It is very feasible to have an attractive aquarium without having any other fish at all. If you don't want the species to interbreed, simply keep them in separate tanks. General Care for the Freshwater Aquarium Okay, so you have decided that you want to own an aquarium. It is a good idea to make out a wish list before purchasing any fish for the aquarium. Keeping an aquarium will require patience. Unfortunately, it is not realistic to go the pet store and just start picking out fish. Take a trip to the pet store in order to gather information and window shop to determine the types of fish you wish to keep in your aquarium. Carefully research these fish to ensure that they are compatible for water temperatures and P.H., as well as the food that they eat. Be careful not to put prey and predator together in the same tank. Keep in mind that freshwater fish are hardier than the marine variety, and will be less susceptible to water fluctuations. One reason that freshwater fish are hardier than saltwater fish is the saltwater itself. Just like any living creature, a fish's body requires water in order to function properly. Water is absorbed through a fish's skin in the freshwater environment. Alternatively, a saltwater fish actually has to drink the salt water, because the body fluids are extracted through the skin by osmosis. The salt is then excreted in the form of highly concentrated urine. Freshwater fish are a good choice for an inexperienced aquarium owner because there is more wiggle room in the water specifications. Some freshwater fish have a variation of as much as ten degrees of acceptable water temperature. Conversely, most tropical fish will only allow about two degrees of variation in water temperature. It is not uncommon for the novice fish keeper to become easily discouraged. Water conditions are hard to regulate and unfortunately fish, even the freshwater variety, are not the hardiest of creatures. Sometimes they do not survive these fluctuations. It is important to be patient. An aquarium needs to run for a minimum of twenty four hours before adding any fish at all. You may want to allow the tank to run and filter with decorations and any plant life for a few days before introducing the fish. Be sure to clean the decorations and any substrate thoroughly before adding them to the aquarium. Live plants are highly recommended in new aquariums as they will help to generate the good bacteria necessary to reduce the amount of ammonia in the tank. It is a good idea to test the ammonia and nitrite levels before adding fish to the aquarium. Begin by adding only three to four small fish. A general rule is to wait another thirty days before adding additional fish, because that is the incubation period for most fish illnesses. In addition, test the nitrite and ammonia levels before adding these additional fish. The ammonia levels should return to zero. This also takes about a month. There are a few basic tips that will keep fish healthy. Don't over feed the fish. Any excess food will become debris in the tank, and then turns into ammonia, which is toxic to fish. Change the water in the aquarium regularly. Replace approximately one third of the water in the tank every two to three weeks. This will minimize the disruption to the fish in the aquarium, eliminating the need to remove the fish from the tank. Lastly, don't forget to clean the filter. Follow the manufacturer's instructions, as some filters need to be replaced more frequently than others. Coldwater Aquarium Set-up and Care As the hobby of having an aquarium becomes more and more popular, it should be noted that the easiest aquarium to care for and set up is a coldwater tank. As the name suggests, coldwater tanks require no heating set up. This cuts costs when setting up your first tank. It also makes the aquarium much easier to maintain in the long run. Keep in mind that only certain coldwater fish can survive in a tank without heat. Most common are goldfish and guppies, but there are a multitude available and you will be able to have an array of fish living in your coldwater tank. The supplies you will need to set up your aquarium may seem lengthy, but it is actually a much shorter and cheaper list than that of a heated freshwater tank or a saltwater tank. Obviously the first thing you need is a tank. It's all about personal choice here as they come in many sizes and shapes. When you purchase the tank, a kit often comes with it and includes some of the other things you may need. Just to make sure, check that you have a filter and an air pump. These are the most important pieces to the whole set up. If you are buying your tank as a kit, make sure it is specified to be a coldwater set-up. You will notice that no heater will be included. After the purchase of your tank, you can now consider how you wish to decorate it. Many types of gravel and sand are available in a lot of colors. You can add accent plants as well to make it appear more natural. Many people add little figures or signs to personalize their aquariums. It's all up to you in regards to decor. Be sure to buy a net, an algae scraper and conditioner for the water. If you choose to have a tank with lighting, that is ok, just be aware of the problems it may cause. By adding light to the tank, you are also adding heat. Algae thrives on heat. Though a light won't harm your tank, it may add to algae growth. This is not uncommon and is easily cleaned. Your fish will enjoy having the light, so it is probably best to buy a hood that includes a light. Try to keep the tank out of direct sunlight when you choose it's position within your home. This will also add to algae growth. Once you have your tank set up and the water is stabilized, you may add your fish. Be sure to only buy coldwater fish to add to this tank. If you are unsure of what types of fish are coldwater, ask for help at a pet store. They will offer you some extra tips on the types of fish you are purchasing as well. Once your fish are added, you will have a wonderful underwater scene to enjoy for years to come. It is important to clean and care for your tank on a routine basis. A complete cleaning of the tank should be done every 2 months, including a water change, scraping algae, rinsing the gravel of waste and changing filters. You will find that as time passes, you will form a routing of caring for your coldwater aquarium. It is worth the effort to maintain the tank, as you will be rewarded with a wonderful addition to your home. Aquarium Care for Freshwater Fish Freshwater fish are perhaps the easiest fish to care for in comparison to saltwater species because they are usually hardier fish. A basic aquarium set up will be required. You will need a tank, some rocks or substrate to line bottom of the tank. You will also need a filter, and some lighting. When choosing fish, it is imperative to make sure the fish are compatible. Not only do they need to be compatible for water temperature and P.H., but they also should have similar food requirements. Try to keep the fish relatively the same size. It has been said that if a fish is small enough to fit in another fishes mouth, that is usually where it ends up. So don't be discouraged if this happens. Even fish that have been housed together for several months have been known to disappear on occasion. Freshwater fish should be fed twice daily. Feed only a small amount that can be consumed within the first two to five minutes. Over feeding is a common mistake among novice fish keepers. Any excess food should be lifted with a net if possible, as it will become debris and quickly dirty the tank. Water should be kept regulated and tested weekly. Any discrepancies in P.H. and water temperature should be corrected immediacy in order to minimize stress caused to the fish. Stress is significant because it causes illness in fish. It is important to monitor the activity and overall well being of the fish in an aquarium. The signs of stress will be fairly obvious. Slow moving or lethargic looking fish will require a stress coat that can be purchased at a local pet store. Try to avoid overcrowding the tank. This should help to reduce the amount of stress caused to the fish. Change about a third of the water in the aquarium at a time, because this type of change will cause the least amount of disturbance to the fish and other inhabitants. This will need to be done every two to three weeks. Use either a bucket or a siphon to remove the water from the tank. Try to remove any loose or floating debris at this time. When adding the new water to the aquarium, be sure that it is within approximately two degrees of the tank water. The sides of the aquarium should be scrubbed regularly to remove an algae build up. Again be careful not to disturb the fish. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the aquarium. Lastly, check the manufacturer's recommendation on filters and change them accordingly. Filters collect any fish waste or left over food. They can't function properly unless they are clean. Introduce hardy fish to a new tank. These fish can withstand higher nitrite levels that are present in a new aquarium. Choose fish such as danios, barbs, gouramis, and live bearers. Don't add more than three to four small fish per week. Acclimation times vary per species, so check with your retailer before adding any other new fish. All about Care for an Acrylic Aquarium Kit The practice of keeping aquariums came about in the late 1800's. They were fairly crude. Usually these ancient aquariums only had one side that was made of glass, with the other three sides being made of metal or wood. Most aquariums consisted of fish that were native to the region of its owner simply because of availability. Also most old school fish tanks contained only fresh water fish. The reason being that salt water would corrode the metal frame that held the aquarium together. Aquariums drastically changed in the 1960's with the invention of silicone adhesive. Metal frames became obsolete and more people started to keep salt water fish and invertebrates. More recently glass tanks have become less frequently used due to the flexibility of acrylic. Literally flexibility! Acrylic aquariums are far more for forgiving than there glass counterparts. If a heavy object strikes a glass tank, it will almost certainly break. The flexibility of an acrylic tank will prevent this catastrophe from happening. In addition, acrylic offers more flexibility in design than glass. Acrylic aquariums have been made into everything from coffee tables to gum ball machines. That being said, there is a short downfall to owning an acrylic aquarium. They do scratch more easily than glass. When cleaning your aquarium, be careful not to use paper towels, and harsh or abrasive chemicals, as they can scratch the acrylic surface of the aquarium. Always use a cleaner specifically labeled safe for acrylic. Use plastic or rubber scrubbers, rather than metal to clean the sides of an acrylic tank. Be careful not to accidentally pick up a piece of substrate or gravel while cleaning the inside of the tank. However, if you do happen to scratch an acrylic aquarium, all is not lost. The tank can be repaired, unlike glass. There are acrylic repair kits available at specialty pet stores, your local hardware store and of course online. When purchasing an acrylic aquarium kit, there will be many different options to choose from, at many different price points. Aquarium kits can be purchased at places such as specialty aquatic pet stores, from huge retail chains, or again online. A fish lover can choose from small cylinder shaped tanks that can double as a coffee table lamp to wall huge wall sized aquariums. While, there are some basic things that will be included in most kits, such as, a filter, some substrate or coral and sometimes lighting, the kits themselves can vary greatly. It really doesn't matter where you buy your starter kit, but keep in mind that it is extremely important to buy your fish from a reputable dealer. Don't buy fish that are hovering near the surface, or that are located in a tank with other dead fish. Fish diseases are extremely communicable. Be weary of a fish dealer that refuses to catch a specific fish out of the tank for you. After all this is going to be your fish and you have a right to choose. Care of Live Aquarium Plants To add that special effect and enhance the natural setting within your aquarium, try using live plants instead of fake plastic plants. The use of live plants will not only add a pleasing visual appeal, but will also help maintain your tank. By adding oxygen to the water, the use of live plants helps keep your aquarium balanced and will aid in fish health. The most important factor in growing and maintaining healthy aquarium plants is the lighting used. For a well planted aquarium, it is suggested to use 2-3 watts per gallon of water. The use of fluorescent bulbs is practical and adds a nice lighting effect. Take caution when deciding to use florescent lights if your tank has a depth of 20" or more. The low growing plants, or plants with multiple leave levels will suffer from a lack of light as the florescent rays will not provide enough light. Once you have figured out what type of lighting you will use, you must turn your attention to the hardness of the water. The majority of aquarium plants will thrive in water that has a hardness between 4-12 dH, and between the range of 6.5-7.2 for pH. Plants need clean and clear water to survive best in, so proper cleaning and maintenance should be performed on the aquarium. Most plants will not survive if there is too much debris or waste in the water, so keeping up with cleaning is essential. Once your plants are established in a clean, well lighted tank, you must care for them by making sure they receive the nutrients required for healthy growth. Plants need both macro- and micro nutrients. Macro nutrients are usually found naturally in tap water and in the fish themselves. These nutrients include nitrates, sulfates and phosphates. Macro nutrients should never need to be added to the water of the tank. They exist on their own. Micro nutrients are needed in very small amounts. Copper, iron and zinc are among the micro nutrients live plants will need to survive in the aquarium. Generally, the water and the fish in the tank will provide the nutrients and fertilizers needed for plant growth. It is rare that any supplements will need to be added. One important factor in having healthy plant life is your filtration system. Stay away from under gravel filters because they produce a steady flow of bubbles that disturb the surface. The filter plate on under gravel filters also limit's the composition of the gravel in which the plants are rooted. All other kinds of filtration systems will work well. The only things to be concerned about are if your filter causes too much disruption to the water surface. When this happens, carbon dioxide is lost and plants will suffer. Also make sure the filter creates a current that keeps nutrients moving throughout the tank. By having a good chemical balance in the aquarium and having an efficient filtering system, you will be sure to have healthy live plant growth. These plants will add to the beauty of the tank and will also keep your fish relaxed because it will be a natural setting for them. If you are considering adding plants for decoration within the aquarium, consider the great benefits of using live plants. How to Care for Live Aquarium Plants Plants play an important role in aquarium life. They help to absorb nitrites that are toxic to the fish. In fact there are some plant only aquariums. There are many different varieties of aquatic plants. Tubers are a type of plant that needs to be anchored by the root to the bottom of the tank. They may be tied or simply buried underneath the substrate in the bottom of the aquarium. There are also floating plants. As their name suggests they simply float in the tank they do not need to be anchored and will not usually require fertilizer. The only regular care required is to make sure that water droplets are not regularly deposited on the leaves, as this will cause decay. Water lettuce and Lily pads are examples of floating plants. Rooted plants, like tubers need to be anchored to the bottom of the tank. It is suggested that the roots be tied to pieces of rock or wood. These species usually grow to be fairly tall and will add length to an aquarium. When planting these, remember to allow plenty of room for growth. The roots will grow outwards and require additional space. Another type of aquatic plant is known as cuttings. These plants may be transplanted from other thriving plants, without have to root them. Cuttings should be planted individually. They will grow vertically and sprout shoots at the joints of the leaves. When these shoots grow to be a couple of inches, it is time to cut them and plant them individually. Live plants may be kept in aquariums alone or with fish. The plants may even be used as a food source for some species of omnivorous fish. At the very least, they will provide shelter and a feeling of refuge for the fish. All plants require some form of light in order to thrive through photosynthesis. Check the specifics on the types of plants with your local retailer. Some plants will thrive on the waste put out by the fish in the aquarium, while others will require regular fertilization. Again check with your supplier for compatibility and feeding requirements. When purchasing plants, make sure that they are true aquatic plants. Live plants should be pruned weekly. Dead or broken leaves should be removed daily. A live plant aquarium will require the same basic equipment needed for an aquarium containing fish. The basics are as follows. You will need a tank, some sort of filtration system, lighting and some basic cleaning tools. The plants are fairly easy to care for, but you do have to keep up with your regular maintenance. Synthetic plants may be a good alternative to live plants, if you are not willing to make the investment in live plants. Faux plants have come a long way in recent years. So much so, that your fish may not even notice the difference. Whether you choose live or synthetic plants, they will add interest and life to any aquarium. How to Care for Aquarium Catfish Catfish are common fish found in freshwater aquariums. Catfish are very unique and differ from other fish in regards to their health and care. The most distinguishing feature of a catfish is the prominent "barbells", which look like whiskers on a cat, hence giving these one of a kind fish their name. The other thing that set catfish apart from any other fish is the fact that they have no scales. They also possess a strong, hollow ray on their fins that a stinging protein can be emitted from if the fish is irritated or in danger. The most common catfish found in aquariums are the armored catfish. This group is smaller in size than other types of catfish and make a great addition to an aquarium. When you are setting up your tank initially, it is best to decide then whether you are going to house catfish. Your decision will impact the type of gravel or sand you will use as well as the pH of the water within the tank. Armored catfish prefer soft bottom material because they forage for food within the substrate. Catfish feel more secure when they are hidden from the light, so be sure to have caves and hiding places for this type of fish. Overall, the care of catfish does not vary from caring for your other fish. You should try to include a food that will settle on the bottom of the tank as these fish are bottom feeders. The water should have a temperature in the middle to upper seventies and the pH should be neutral. This is usually the same set up and water balance you will use to house other fish as well, so it should not be a major concern when you add your catfish. Catfish are known to be somewhat goofy and comical, but this may depend on the species of catfish you have. Their behavior will vary, but as a whole, the catfish is an entertaining addition to an aquarium. There are group and schooling catfish that get along well with each other. There are also loners who always stay away from their neighbors. Catfishes are the ideal candidates for community tanks because they inhabit niches and shelters on the bottom not occupied by other aquarium inhabitants. They generally get along well with all types of fish. Only in combination with some larger Cichlids can there be a problem as the Cichlids tend to extend their territorial claim to the entire tank. The one thing to consider before adding a catfish to your existing aquarium set-up is the size of the other fish. While catfish generally get along with most fish, they are a predator and will attack and feed on smaller fish. Catfish are also nocturnal, and should be fed later in the day or at night. You may have to adjust the feeding times depending on what your schedule is now and what other types of fish inhabit the tank. With the number of species of Armored catfish, you will be sure to have a colorful and amusing aquarium with the addition of these comical fish. As with all fish, be sure to keep the aquarium clean and healthy so as to ensure the health of the fish as well as your enjoyment for years to come. Marine Aquarium Care -- Invertebrates Only The care required for an invertebrate only tank is very similar to that of any other saltwater tank; however, the invertebrates are far less hardy than fish. It is recommended that you become skilled with a fish only tank before attempting an Invertebrate aquarium. Most Invertebrates require a specialized diet. Check with the supplier before purchasing and be sure that you are willing to make the commitment to have food delivered if necessary. There are two different types of invertebrates, tropical and cold water. Make sure that the type you are buy is compatible with its other tank mates. A few examples of tropical invertebrates are tubeworms, red hermit crabs, cleaner shrimp and the sea apple. All of this marine life is compatible in terms of water conditions. They require a water temperature between seventy five and seventy nine degrees Fahrenheit, a P.H. between 8.2 and 8.4 and a salinity content of 1.020-1.024. As you can see, there is very little wiggle room associated with these measurements. It is extremely important to check the levels daily, or the results could be costly. These invertebrates are not compatible, however, with their food source needs. Check with the supplier for compatibility before combining tropical invertebrates. Unlike their tropical counter parts, cold water invertebrates are usually not sold in stores. They have to be collected from tide pools. It is important to make sure that these species are not on the endangered species list before removing them from their home. It is equally important to do research in order to verify that you are able to properly feed them and care for their very specific needs. Sea Anemones, prawns, shrimp, and starfishes are a few varieties that have been successfully maintained in an aquarium. They require a water temperature between fifty four and fifty nine degrees Fahrenheit, a P.H. between 8-8.4 and a salinity content of 1.024-1.025. Luckily they do eat the same food. They feed off of a diet of small pieces of raw fish, shrimp, squid and mussels. When keeping cold water invertebrates such as the species mention above, it is a good idea to keep a separate tank full of shrimp, mussels, and scallops to be used as a food source, if you wish to use fresh rather than frozen foods. Be careful when keeping shrimp, as all of the invertebrates listed above feed on shrimp, including shrimp themselves. It is unlikely, however that a healthy live shrimp will be eaten whole by another shrimp or starfish. Invertebrates should be fed more frequently in smaller amounts than fish. Try to feed only an amount that can be consumed in the first thirty to sixty seconds. When setting up an invertebrate tank remember to include live rock, because some invertebrates feed on the parasites that grow on the live rock. A substrate should also be included in this type of aquarium. It will provide a place for the crabs and shrimp to dig and bury themselves. A light should be included as well, if you intend to keep anemones. Saltwater Aquariums from A-Z: Purchasing an Aquarium There are a million different types of aquariums on the market, and with the number of choices available and the fact that there is no guaranteed formula for success for creating a saltwater aquarium it can be very difficult for individuals to choose which type of aquarium they should purchase. There are a number of factors which should be considered before the would be biologist ever sets foot inside a pet store. The first is size. As trite as it may sound an aquarium is a definite example of a time when size matters. The size of the aquarium must be sufficient to hold the types and number of fish which the owner intends to place inside. Just as you would never attempt to place a large goldfish inside a small bowl neither should you attempt to place a large saltwater fish in a small aquarium. This is particularly true if you are attempting to add a small carnivore, such as one of the smaller breeds of shark, to your home. These predators need space to swim or they will slowly make themselves mad and perhaps even perish from the confinement (a bit melodramatic and Victorian, but true nonetheless). There are several options for size when it comes to aquariums, and a good pet shop should be able to help advise consumers as to which size would best suit their needs. Another consideration is materials. Glass and acrylic are the two choices most widely available on the market at the moment. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Glass is by far the more popular of the two due to the fact that it is less likely to scratch, allowing the sides to maintain their clarity. It is also considerably less expensive, an important consideration as it can cost a great deal of money to establish a saltwater aquarium and every advantage should be taken. Finally, the nature of the silicone sealant used in glass aquariums allows the tank to expand more readily when water is added. Acrylic tanks come with their own advantages. There is almost no limit to the shape and size that an acrylic tank can take, allowing for a greater amount of creativity in tank design. It is also considerably more durable than glass, an important consideration if the aquarium is going to be displayed in a public place or if the owner has small children. Where a small bump may crack or otherwise damage a glass tank acrylic tanks are made of hardier stuff. It is also easier to adjust the filtration options on an acrylic tank, as it is not necessary to have the number of special tools available that are necessary to cut glass. Whether acrylic or glass the would-be saltwater aquarium owner will probably have the option to purchase a pre-drilled tank to prevent overflow, giving the tank a much smoother appearance than the antiquated but still popular "hang on the back" method. Buying an aquarium can be a tricky business; however, the truth of the matter is that as long as the ecosystem is properly designed and the tank cleaned thoroughly prior to use there is no right or wrong choice. It is all a matter of personal preference. Saltwater Aquariums and Aquarium Algae-Prevention Anyone who has had an aquarium knows that algae is unavoidable. It is just one of the things that fish owners, both salt and freshwater, have to deal with on a regular basis. There are four main variety's of algae; green algae, brown algae, red-brush algae, and blue green algae. Green algae is the variety of algae that most people are familiar with. Green algae thrives in any aquarium that receives an abundance of light. The two most commonly seen green algaes in aquariums are hair algae and hard "green dot algae". Hair algae are long wispy strands of algae that are easily cleaned from the tank. The green-dot algae appears as green dots of algae on the side of the aquarium, it is very difficult and time consuming to remove green dot algae. It is common for brown algae to appear when a tank that has just been started. It typically puts in an appearance within the first two weeks. Its appearance in established tanks means that the aquarium owner needs to test the nitrate and phosphate levels of this tank. Brown algae is unusual because it thrives in aquariums that do not receive a great deal of light. When brown algae appears in the tank the aquarium owner needs to clean the entire tank and increase the lighting. It is not unusual for brown algae to disappear when the tank conditions stabilize. Red-brush algae is a variety of algae that loves aquariums that have a high PH. It is incredibly difficult to manually remove red-brush algae from aquariums. Blue-green algae is deceptive because it's not an algae at all. It is really a cynobacteria. When it appears in the aquarium it looks like a slime that is taking over the tank. Blue-green algae can be fatal to aquarium plants and can jeopardize the health of the fish. There are many ways you can discourage the growth of algae in your saltwater tanks. One of the simplest ways to limit the amount of algae in your saltwater tank is to reduce your lighting. Leaving your aquarium lights on for less then nine hours a day will limit the amount of time algae has to photosynthesis. Use the lowest wattage possible. Use distilled water whenever you clean your saltwater aquarium or change the water. Changing your water every two to three weeks will limit the amount of time algae can grow in your tank. When you change the water make sure you vacuum your rocks. Also keep the use of additives to a minimum. Change your prefilter pad weekly. Stock your tank with algae eating fish. In saltwater tanks this will be; hard star fish, Yellow Tang fish, Blennies, Turbo snails, Angel fish, and small Hermit Crabs. Purchase the largest, strongest algae glass cleaning magnet you can find and then use it. If you use the magnet each and every time you clean the water your tank the glass on your tank should stay algae free. Be sure to clean the magnet after each use. For particularly stubborn algae spots, you will have to use a razor blade. Don't forget to clean the overflow pipes. How to Care for and Clean a Saltwater Aquarium Most people are unaware or uninformed of how to properly clean and care for a saltwater tank. It's best to understand how to care for your saltwater tank before even buying one so as to avoid possible problems down the road. The first thing you should be aware of is that you will need to buy filtered water or buy a reverse osmosis kit. Otherwise you can use regular water, making sure it is at the correct temperature, and add in chemicals to remove chlorine and other unwanted chemicals. Maintenance is a necessity and you will need to clean your tank at least once a month. It is best to try to clean the tank as often as every two weeks however, don't over clean your tank or you will remove some of the beneficial bacteria. Most people think that removing this bacteria is a good thing, but it's the exact opposite for a saltwater tank. This bacteria is actually essential to maintain a healthy and balanced aquarium. If you are just starting out with a new saltwater tank, you will need to let the tank sit for 30 days before adding anything to it. It is recommended that you buy some test strips to test out the water and make sure everything is balanced. Nobody wants to invest in a $60.00 fish and have it die because the water was not tested and the chemical balance was off. Once the tank is established and the chemical levels are stable, it will stay that way, and you shouldn't need to test it if you do frequent water changes. When cleaning the tank, you will need remove of stir the gravel to remove sediment that could possibly change the chemical make up of the tank. Use caution when cleaning an acrylic tank and be sure that the cleaning supplies being used will not harm the tank in any way. The best thing to use to remove algae is phosphate drops. When added to the water on a regular basis, algae does not build up as quickly. Another way to avoid an algae problem is to invest in some hermit crabs and snails to keep your rocks and tank clean. Hermit crabs and snails are known to be the clean up crew, and can make a huge difference in your saltwater aquarium if you have enough of them. You will also need to buy a scraper or a scratch pad to clean the glass. A regular cleaning tool will not be strong enough to remove the algae from the glass. It is very important to aim the filter head down into the water. Failure to do so will result in a build up of salt on the lid of the tank. Good lighting and a strong and efficient filter are a necessity. The tank should only be lit for about 6 hours a day. The more lighting, the more algae will form. You can buy a timer from the pet store to make sure the light is on at the exact time each day. Otherwise the lighting could range from day to day and algae will form. Try to position the saltwater aquarium away from direct sunlight as this will also add to the growth of algae. The key to maintaining a healthy saltwater aquarium is to keep it clean and algae free. By remembering the ways to avoid algae, you will be able to keep a healthy aquarium for years to come. Aquarium Care Tips for Saltwater Fish In general saltwater fish are usually a little more difficult to maintain than their freshwater cousins. That being said, it is not necessary to be an expert in order to maintain a saltwater aquarium. Just as with freshwater fish, there are some saltwater species that are hardier than others. There are a few basic needs that if met will ensure that the fish are cared for properly. The most important need that any creature has is the need for food. This is not different for fish. It is important to mimic the type of food that a fish would typically eat in the ocean. These foods can be purchased in flake, tablet, or frozen forms. In addition, there are vitamins that can be added to the foods to replace any nutrients that may have been lost in the freezing or drying processes. Just as we humans don't like to eat the same thing every day, neither do fish. Keep a variety of food handy because they will not eat the same food daily. Research the specific needs of the fish before you purchase them to make sure you are able to provide the food that they need. Be careful not to over feed the fish. This will cause a build up of debris in the tank. Only feed an amount that can be consumed in the first two to five minutes. Try to remove any excess food after feeding time in order to keep the tank tidy: and take notes. Remember how much was consumed previously and try to replicate that at the next feeding time. Over feeding fish is a common mistake, especially amongst new aquarium owners. The next item on the list of raising a healthy fish is keep the water properly regulated. It is imperative to keep the salinity levels, P.H. and temperature consistent in a saltwater aquarium. Test the water daily and make any necessary adjustments immediately. Check the water for cloudiness and clean the filter regularly. Have you ever heard the saying that a happy baby is a healthy baby? Well, the same is true for fish. Fish should be made to feel as comfortable as possible in their new home. You should try to recreate their natural habitat. Research to find out what type of specific corals, sponges and plants the fish have in their open water environment. If a particular fish lives on a coral reef, try to incorporate that into the grand scheme of the aquarium. Stress can be minimized by providing ample opportunities for fish to act normally. Lastly try to avoid overcrowding the tank. This is another common problem that can be easily avoided. A general rule of thumb is one small fish per every ten gallons of water. Keep in mind however, that what is considered a small fish, may not be so small next month. Research, again is important because it is necessary to find out how large a fish will grow and weather or not it is compatible with its tank mates. Purchasing a Tropical Saltwater Aquarium It would be a mistake for a person to plan on putting together a tropical saltwater aquarium without first learning how to set the aquarium up first. Before you can set up your aquarium and start filling it with exotic fish you need to purchase the items that will make your tropical saltwater aquarium a success. The first thing the potential saltwater enthusiast needs to purchase is an aquarium. Tropical saltwater aquariums can range in size from small , which are typically twenty gallons, to large, which can hold up to one thousand gallons. When you go to the store to purchase the aquarium consider how much work you'll want to invest in your tropical saltwater aquarium once its up and running. The larger the tank the more time you'll spend cleaning and maintaining the aquarium. Another thing that you should consider when purchasing a aquarium is whether or not you want the tank to have a background. Many owners of tropical saltwater aquariums like to add to the ambiance of their aquarium by painting a back ground on the tank, this must be done before filling the tank with water. Also make sure that you purchase a filter that is large enough and powerful enough to filter your tank. You will also need to get a heater that is capable of warming the water in your tank, remember tropical fish and tropical coral mean are accustomed to warm water. The next thing the potential saltwater enthusiast needs to do is decide what kind of aquarium substrate you would like lining the bottom of your aquarium. You can line your aquarium with a layer of crushed coral or a layer of live sand. The next thing you'll need to get is a saltwater mix and a saltwater hydrometer. You can purchase both of these items at a store that specializes in tropical saltwater aquariums. While your at the pet store and your credit card is out, you might as well purchase a spare filter. While your doing that you should also buy a replacement filter media. This media can be something like activated carbon and filter floss. Purchasing a replacement filter right away can save you a lot of time and money if your original filter abruptly stops working. It might not be a bad idea to purchase a spare heater for your aquarium. Saltwater test kits are kits that test the levels of ammonia, nitrate, Salinity/specific gravity, carbon dioxide, pH levels, alkalinity, Chlorine/chlorine, carbonate water hardness, phosphate, dissolved oxygen, and the amount of iron in your aquariums water. Purchase several of these kits and use them often. One way you can save a little money on saltwater test kits is by purchasing a master test kit. The master test kit. Other items every successful tropical saltwater aquarium owner keeps on hand are rubber gloves, an aquarium glass scrub brush, two large five gallon bucket, a power strip. and a fish net. Responsible tropical saltwater aquarium owners have a spare quarantine tank where they can keep newly purchased fish or fish that appear to be getting sick. Preparing Your Custom Made Saltwater Aquarium There is little in life as pleasing as the beauty of a fully outfitted, custom made saltwater aquarium and the aquatic residents that make it their home. The process of purchasing an aquarium is an easy one for many-after all, there are so many choice for the decorating of such a thing that they seem to be almost endless-but the process for establishing maximum utility and making the aquarium livable for its new residents is a bit more complicated. The first thing that needs to be done after the purchase of a new aquarium is to cleanse the tank itself and all of its accessory parts with freshwater, sans soap, and a soft cloth. This will remove any dust and chemicals which it may have accumulated while in the factory and prevent them from harming the fish. Once all of the parts have been cleaned the tank should be set upon a level stand which has been placed an appropriate distance from the wall to enable the electrical cords to reach an outlet plug with a minimal risk of minor amounts of sloshing from the tank causing an electrical fire. A soft cloth should be placed beneath the tank to keep the condensation from the saltwater aquarium from causing damage to the surface of the stand beneath it. Once the aquarium has been properly installed it should be filled with saltwater. You can either purchase an already made saltwater solution or make your own. Once you have filled the tank you should let all of the equipment run for 24 to 48 on a test cycle to ensure that everything is working properly. Take this opportunity to test the temperature, salinity and pH of the water to ensure that the conditions are optimal for the breed of saltwater fish which are going to be inhabiting your aquarium (it is best to research this ahead of time-not all saltwater fish thrive in the same conditions). At this point you can now do your landscaping. Remove approximately one half of the water and decorate your aquarium with whatever landscaping tools you choose (rocks, plants, etc.). It is important to first remove the water in order to make the landscaping easier and to prevent spillage. Once you are finished, replace the water up to the fill line (if the tank does not come with a fill line you can use a permanent marker to make your own on the side facing the wall). It is important that the tank go through an initial 30 day cycling process, either with or without live fish, during which you are going to want to keep a very close eye on the ammonia levels of the water. During this time do not use an ammonia reducer, as this will simply force the process to start all over again. Once all of these steps have been completed you are ready to add your fish, sit back and enjoy your new, custom made saltwater aquarium! Making Your Home Saltwater Aquarium Picture Perfect Imagine the joys of being able to take the picturesque beauty of the Baltimore National Aquarium and bring it into your home. Unless you are a true enthusiast of the aquatic world you probably do not have the resources required to install a twenty foot tropical fish tank in your walls or an open shark tank in your living room (and really, why would you want to?) but with some creative aquascaping you can make your home saltwater aquarium every bit as picture perfect as the ones designed by the professionals in Baltimore. When selecting decorations for your home aquarium you will be given an option of decorating with either plastic accoutrements or bringing nature into your home by installing live plants and other organisms in your aquarium. The choice is certainly yours; however, bear in mind that the fish you will be installing in your tank undoubtedly would be using the types of things that you would consider decorations for shelter when out in the wild. Therefore, it is in the best interests of your fish (and your aesthetic senses) to go the natural route. Live rock is an invaluable addition to any saltwater aquarium, serving not only as an aesthetically pleasing ornamentation but as a vital part of the aquarium's ecosystem. Live rock is rock that is covered with both micro- and macroorganisms which will help filter the waste products out of the water, making it a safe habitat for its aquatic inhabitants. Driftwood and sand are also essential elements of a saltwater fish's natural habitat and provide a beautiful backdrop to showcase the glorious beauty of your saltwater fish. Live plants are also a beautiful, functional addition to your saltwater aquarium, as they serve to help oxygenate the tank and provide the fish with a spot to inhabit and, if you are incredibly lucky, lay their eggs. There are a variety of choices for you to choose from, and it is very helpful to choose the breeds of fish which you wish to place in your tank prior to making a decision. They will thrive best with the same types of vegetation which would be present in their environment had they been allowed to stay in the wild rather than coming to grace your home aquarium. It may be necessary to make some special concessions in order to assure the well being of your saltwater plants. Plants need carbon dioxide and light to perform their photosynthesis process, so your tank is going to need to be well lit at least part of the day and may require the addition of an artificial carbon dioxide producer. The sand, silt or gravel which you choose to cover the bottom of your aquarium with must be of an adequate depth to allow the roots of the plant to take hold; around 8 cm is generally adequate, although this may vary from plant to plant. These adjustments may seem like a great deal of extra work but will be well worth the end results. The beauty of a well decorated saltwater aquarium is incomparable, and will bring pleasure to its owners for years to come. For further assistance in selecting tank accessories that are both beautiful and functional consult with your local vendor of tropical fish. How to Safely Change the Water in Your Saltwater Aquarium As with people fish thrive when kept in an environment as close to their own as possible. For this reason aquariums should be carefully structured to imitate the natural environments of the species it is home to as closely as possible. Even if it is not possible to duplicate exactly the living conditions found in the deep blue the fish will benefit from the effort. Fish are also very adaptable creatures. It is what allows them to live and thrive in captivity when many other marine animals are unable to make the change. The fish will adapt to the environment around them and learn to live in the conditions of their tank. It is important that these conditions remain as constant as possible. As in nature a tip in the balance of the elements in an aquarium can bring with it devastating consequences. It is important that changes in the aquarium environment be few and far between. This is generally a very simple matter until the time comes for the water in the tank to be changed. In nature the water in the ocean is constantly cycling; therefore, the water never has the opportunity to become stale and overloaded with elements that will have a negative impact on the well being of your aquatic friends. Since this is not the case in an aquarium even with an excellent artificial filtering system and organic filtering methods combined it will still be necessary on occasion to manually clean the tank. The water with which you replace the dirty water in the aquarium should be as close as possible to the water that was originally filling the tank. What this means is that if you opted to buy a pre-made saltwater mix when you started your tank you should continue to use that same pre-made saltwater mix. If you made your own saltwater you should use the same type of sea salt in the same proportions that you used in the beginning. If you opted to transplant ocean water or purchased filtered ocean water you are going to want to use that same type of water when you make the change. Water in aquariums should be changed every couple of months, more if you happen to notice that wastes are beginning to build up. This will be evident by the hazy look the previously clear water will take on and the obvious accumulation of waste at the bottom of the tank. Be sure when you change the water you also clean the components of the tank and the inside of the glass itself. Putting clean water into an empty tank is along the same lines as putting clean clothes on a dirty body-there is little point. By keeping your tank clean and the conditions as constant as possible you are giving your fish the best possible chance to thrive in their artificial environment, guaranteeing that you will be able to enjoy their beauty for a very long time. Good Deals On a Saltwater Aquarium? Aquariums make a lovely addition to any home, and the exotic nature of a saltwater aquarium and the tropical fish who inhabit it have caused these household decorations to rise in popularity over the years. Unfortunately, because of their exotic nature and high demand it can often be quite costly to purchase and outfit a saltwater aquarium. The tank is not the only factor to be considered when calculating cost, although it is bound to be one of the greatest. There is also the cost of the plant life, sand, gravel or silt, the rocks (particularly if you are using live rocks), coral, the filtering system, the stand, the lights and, of course, the fish themselves. With all of these costs it is no wonder that people look for deals whenever possible when attempting to put together their aquarium. The most common venue for purchasing an aquarium is to simply go to some form of pet store, such as Petsmart, that offers all of the things that are needed to establish a saltwater aquarium in one convenient location. This is much easier than attempting to put together an aquarium piece by piece and is the method generally chosen for those who do not want to wait months for their aquarium while they attempt to find the perfect pieces at the perfect bargain, an often frustrating hunt. These pet stores can also be invaluable when it comes to obtaining the saltwater and chemicals necessary to get the aquarium up and running; however, unless the store is running a special this is probably not going to be the method of choice for getting a good deal on an aquarium. Online retailers offer consumers a better chance at good deals on an aquarium and all of their parts, and the ease of navigating the internet means that a search that could take months on foot can be done in only a matter of minutes from the comfort of the consumers own home. A would-be aquarium owner can search the online retailers who sell these parts new or they can choose to utilize such sites as e-Bay and Amazon, who offer these products gently used at prices much lower than can be found in any of the major retailers. It is important to shop around a bit before making a commitment if you are attempting to get a good deal on an aquarium. Never take the first deal offered to you until you have seen how it compares to the competition. Regardless of what the retailer may claim, chances are that the offer will still be there in an hour or two after you have had the opportunity to examine what the competition has to offer. If the product is being sold by a private seller rather than a retail chain it may also be possible to barter the price down, particularly if this is something that they have been attempting to sell for some time. With a bit of ingenuity and the proper resources it is possible to obtain a quality aquarium at a bargain price-it simply requires a bit of patience and faith. Happy hunting! Caring for your Freshwater Aquarium The most important factor of owning an aquarium is the proper cleaning of the tank. Many new owners are unsure of how to go about this. This information will help new freshwater aquarium owners keep a clean and healthy tank. These first two questions are the key to maintaining your aquarium allowing you to enjoy this beautiful addition to your home. When should I clean my tank? You should clean your tank once every two months unless you can really tell it needs cleaned before then. Why should I clean my tank once every two months? Because your tank will start building up algae on the inside and your gravel will retain waste that could make your fish ill in the future. The following steps are easy and quick and will provide your fish with a clean and happy aquarium. Step 1 (prepare for cleaning) You have to prepare for the steps to follow before removing your fish from your freshwater aquarium. There are some supplies you will need to clean the tank, so it's best to have them handy before starting. You will need some kind of container that your fish can be placed in until it's time for them to be put back in the tank. It doesn't have to be a large container, but make sure your fish do have enough room to swim freely. This container is dependant on how many fish are living in the tank. You will also need a fish net, a towel or paper towels to wipe up any spills that may occur, a water pitcher or a bucket for refilling the tank, food drainer, a clean sponge, and a clean rag. After you have these things gathered, you're now ready to begin cleaning your freshwater aquarium. Step 2 (Removing your fish) This may be the most important step in the cleaning process. It is time to remove the fish from the tank. The first thing to do is make sure that the container in which the fish are being placed has water that is about the same temperature at the tank, other wise your fish will go into shock. When the container of water is ready, use the net to catch each fish one-by-one and place them in the container. Once all the fish are collected, be sure to place the container in a safe place where it will not be spilled. It is common for fish to become stressed when they are moved, so the water temperature and reducing as much unneeded activity is very important. Step 3 (Removing the fish tanks old water) When all the fish are out of the tank, it is time to start emptying the water from the aquarium. Using the pitcher or small bucket, begin to remove the water. The water from the tank may be disposed in a sink or toilet. This can be a messy task, so be sure to clean up all spills to prevent any possible accidents. It is not necessary to remove all the water from the tank. Most freshwater aquarium owners remove approximately 3/4 of the water. The remaining original water will help acclimate the new water you will add later. Step 3 (Removing and cleaning your tanks gravel) Most of the waste that gathers in a tank settles into the gravel at the bottom. It is very important to clean the gravel when you clean your tank. At this time you will remove the gravel. You can use the fish net, a small scoop or even a dustpan to do this. Place the gravel in a container. Once you have removed all the gravel, transfer it into a strainer of some sort and run it under hot water. Be sure to mix it up while you are rinsing so that all the sediment and waste is removed. Once the gravel has been cleaned, place it aside. You will not be putting it back in the tank at this time. Step 4 (Cleaning the tank) Now it's time to clean the inside of the tank. This can be a tedious chore if there is a lot of build-up on the glass. Some freshwater aquariums have algae growth on the glass. The warmer the water is inside and the more the aquarium is exposed to natural sunlight, the more algae growth you will have. This can be cleaned off by using a scratch pad. Try to use the least abrasive pad you can to avoid scratching the class. Cleaning with hot water will aid in the removal of algae. Make sure to never use any type of cleaner or detergent when cleaning the tank. This will be fatal to the fish. After removing the algae, finish by wiping down the rest of the tank with a towel or soft rag. You may have to repeat this a few times. Try to rinse the rag or towel frequently to remove all the waste. If you have decorative pieces in the tank, be sure to wash them as well using hot water. After completing these steps, your tank should be clean of waste and build-ups. Step 5 (Putting it all back together) Now it's time to replace everything. Start by replacing the gravel into the tank, followed by refilling the water. Take notice of the temperature once again. Try to add water that is of the same temperature as the original water in the tank. Add your finishing touches with decorative pieces, then carefully move the fish back in. It may take a little while for the fish to adjust to the new water, but after having followed all these steps, you can be sure that your tank is clean and healthy. You won't have to completely clean your tank for another 2 months. Always remember to change the filters if they are dirty. As an added tip, if you remove 20% of the water every month and replace it with clean water, this will cut down on the complete cleaning of the tank in the future. To maintain a healthy tank, it is important to clean it properly and keep up with the aquarium care. By doing this, you will ensure a long life for your fish and an enjoyable experience for observers. Fifty five Gallon Fresh Water Aquarium A fifty five gallon freshwater aquarium is a good choice when purchasing a new tank, if nothing else, simply because of its size. These tanks are large enough to accommodative a variety of fish, but still small enough to keep in tight spaces in the home or office. Your local retailer can assist you with specifics in purchasing, but here are some suggestions for the basics. Purchase an acrylic tank, because they are lighter in weight and easier to care for than glass aquariums. Also the visibility is better in an acrylic tank. If you don't already have a stand or a suitable replacement, keep in mind that you will need to purchase one. You will need a heater for temperature control, and a thermometer for checking the water temperature. It will take approximately five bags of rock or other substrate to line the bottom of the tank. Choose a bright color to add some interest to the aquarium. In addition, you will need to purchase a filter for the tank. Filters can be complicated. Do a lot a research to find out what type of filter is suggested for the fish that you choose. There are filters that go beneath the substrate in the bottom of the tank, as well as filters that attach to the side of the aquarium. They also vary greatly in price. It is not necessary to buy the most expensive filter when setting up a basic freshwater aquarium. The aquarium will also need lighting. Again, based on personal preference you can keep it simple or get very technical. Most fish will respond nicely to a basic light that is simply turned on for a few hours each day. An aquarium should contain some form of plants for added interest. The plants serve a place for the fish to seek refuge and feel safe. There are many varieties of freshwater plants that would work nicely in a fifty five gallon aquarium. Just be sure to purchase an aquatic specific species. If you don't want the hassle of live plants, plastic is always an option. They have come along way with synthetic plants. In most cases the fish may not even notice the difference, unless of course they try to eat them. Once your tank is established and you are ready to add fish, choose your fish carefully. Start with hardy fish, such as live bearers, gouramis, barbs, and danios. These fish are hardy enough to handle higher nitrate levels in the tank. Allow about thirty days for these fish to become acclimated to the tank, before adding any new fish. It usually takes about thirty days for the symptoms of ich or other fish illnesses to show up. It is important to make sure that all existing fish are healthy before adding any new species. The transportation of new fish itself is stressful enough, without having to add disease to the situation. When purchasing fish, it is important to remember that a fifty five gallon aquarium can handle about fifteen to twenty small fish total. This will allow plenty of growth room for the fish. The Easiest Way to Setup a Saltwater Aquarium Establishing the Basic Needs of the Tank Ocean water is the natural habitat of all saltwater marine animals and, consequently, the best water source for any saltwater aquarium. If ocean water is not available, however, and the owner of a saltwater aquarium does not wish to purchase a pre-made saltwater solution it is possible to make saltwater. It is important to use a sea salt mixture that is free of impurities rather than table salt when creating saltwater in order to reproduce the natural environment as accurately as possible. These mixes can be purchased from any store that specializes in the sale of tropical fish. Everyone has admired the large saltwater aquariums that can be found in the offices of most dentists, physicians, cosmetologists and marine enthusiasts but have believed them to be far too much work to bring into their own homes. Fortunately, this is not the case. While the process of establishing a saltwater aquarium can be a costly one, in terms of manual labor there is a very simple method which almost guarantees success. Step 1: Assemble and prepare the equipment. During packaging and production the aquarium and all of its corresponding parts have almost certainly been exposed to various pollutants, such as dust and chemicals, which will be very harmful to the fish if it is allowed free reign in the aquarium. Prior to use every piece of the aquarium should be washed with hot, fresh water and cleansed with a soft piece of cloth to prevent scratching. Step 2: Place all of the components in the tank WITHOUT adding any of the decorative features. Then fill the tank to the fill line (which may or may not be already marked on the aquarium-2 to 3 inches from the top is generally adequate to prevent major spillover when the tank is cleaned or the fish fed) with saltwater (if you have chosen to make your own saltwater solution read below for instructions). Turn the tank on and allow it to run for 24 hours to ensure that all components are fully functional. Step 3: Landscape your aquarium. Organic substances are not only more aesthetically pleasing than their plastic counterparts, they provide a more pleasing environment for the fish as well. Keeping in mind that fish generally use what humans consider to be decorations as shelter when in the wild it is important to consider the types of fish which will be inhabiting the tank prior to choosing its decoration. Step 4: Start the 30 day cycling process, during which the ammonia should be tested regularly. This can be done with or without fish in the tank. Following these simple steps will allow the amateur marine enthusiast to place aside their fears and enjoy the benefits of a happy, healthy aquarium in the privacy of their own home. The 30 Day Cycling Process The importance of the thirty day cycling process cannot be understated; this is a vital part of establishing the ecosystem of each individual aquarium. The exact processes which are occurring during this cycle, however, are often not well explained, or else they may be a little too well explained and no one without a degree in organic chemistry can understand a word that is being spoken. The truth is that while the nitrogen cycling process is a complex one it is not by any means impossible for the average citizen to understand. James Kostich of Aquatics Unlimited took the time to gather together a thorough, day-by-day explanation of the processes which are occurring during the thirty day cycling process in a manner that is simple for even the amateur aquarium designer to understand. This explanation can be found at http://www.bestfish.com/newtank3.html; however, the process is briefly summed up below. If you are using fish to stimulate the cycling process take a great deal of care. While on the first day there is likely to be no ammonia in the tank, by the end of the third day these levels will have reached near toxicity. It is important to carefully monitor the fish during this crucial state; it may be even better to use an artificial source of ammonia to trigger this process. This will allow you to establish the proper balance in the tank without placing your aquatic friends at risk. While ammonia levels are beginning to rise first stage bacteria are beginning to grow. By the fifth day these first stage bacteria will have begun to metabolize the ammonia into nitrite. This process will be well established by the end of the first week. At the end of the second week ammonia levels will be completely safe for the fish and nitrites will be at their peak. From here until approximately day 27 the second stage bacteria will be working to begin metabolizing the nitrite to nitrate. By day 30 ammonia and nitrite levels should be all but non-existent as nitrate levels reach their peak and the bacterium are well able to handle maintaining the chemical composition of the water. This is an example of minimizing Mother Nature's perfect filtration system in order to provide your fish with the perfect habitat. Hopefully you have chosen to artificially stimulate the cycling process so that it is well established prior to inserting your fish. If you have not it is very important that you keep a very close eye on them while the tank is undergoing its cycling process. The spikes in ammonia and nitrite levels can be severely harmful to fish if they are exposed to it for too great a period of time, and they will likely begin to show signs of distress during these periods of the cycling process. If this becomes severe their conditions can be aided by changing a portion of the water in order to dilute the concentration of these products.
Establishing Live Rocks in an Aquarium Aquariums are beautiful in their own right, particularly ones which are large enough to make the viewer feel as though they have been transported into an underwater wonderland. For many individuals the inside of a clear glass aquarium is as close as they will ever come to the wonders of the world beneath the ocean's surface, and for that reason an aquarium which is as close to the natural habitat of its inhabitants as possible is a joy unto itself. Live rocks, rocks which are covered with both micro- and macroorganisms which help to digest the waste produced by the fish, are a vital part of every natural ecosystem. For that reason it makes sense that they would be an important part of an aquarium environment as well. It is not as simple as dropping a rock into an aquarium and allowing all manner of things to grow on it, however. There is a process that must be followed to ensure optimal benefits for both the large aquarium and the live rock. It is very simple to cure live rock before placing it in the aquarium, but this is an important step that must be taken in order to prevent a build up of ammonia in the tank which could negatively affect the fish. To cure live rock first select a plastic container that is of a suitable size to hold the amount of live rock which you are working with, then fill it with saltwater. Then place a heater and water pump in the "tank" for optimal temperature and circulation. Once the water has reached the desired temperature remove the heater and pump and half of the water content, then preclean the rock in a bucket of saltwater by swishing it around to remove any lose organisms and debris and place it in the prepared water. Then reinstall the heater and pump and allow nature to do its thing! The process is done when an ammonia reading of the water in which the rock resides is at zero and it is no longer giving off an unpleasant odor. At this time it is safe to place the rock in your aquarium and allow Mother Nature's perfect filtering system to work for you. Custom Saltwater Aquariums-Aquascaping The Chinese Emperor, Hungwu, established a company that is credited for building the very first aquariums, in 1369. The aquariums Hungwu's company designed were little more then porcelain tubs that were then used to house Goldfish. As the years passed, these tubs started shrinking in size until they bore a strong resemblance to the aquariums we are familiar with today. Almost five hundred years later, in 1841, a tropical aquarium was introduced to the world. At the time of its introduction, toy fish and a few aquatic plants were the only inhabitants. Today the creation and maintaining of aquariums is the one of the most popular hobbies in the world, second only to stamp collecting. It is believed that over sixty million people maintain aquariums in their homes. It is estimated that forty percent of that sixty million are thought to have at least two active tanks. As individuals become comfortable with their aquariums they start indulging in aquascaping. Aquascaping is the process of using driftwood, plants, and rocks in a pleasing manner that customizes an individuals saltwater tank. The first thing you need to remember when aquascaping your aquarium is that the design you choose must compliment the needs of the fish inhabiting the tank. Before you begin, spend some time researching the natural habitat your fish inhabit. You'll want to design a tank that duplicates their natural environment. The use of living plants in your aquascaping project will add another dimension to your tank. There is something about the way the living plants float in the water that is both soothing and breathtaking. On the other hand fish, especially herbivorous fish that eat sea plants, can be hard on living plants. If you suspect that a living plant won't survive in your custom saltwater aquarium you should opt for the artificial variety. There are several lifelike artificial plants available. The use of driftwood has become very popular in custom saltwater aquariums. The price of driftwood, it can be very expensive, often causes aquarium owners to head to the beach. If you locate a nice piece of driftwood on the beach don't put it in your main aquarium. First put it in your quarantine tank, and keep it there for at least two weeks, or until the PH levels of the water match those in your main tank. Be sure to clean your driftwood thoroughly. You may have to use rocks to anchor the driftwood to the bottom of your tank. There are a few things you need to consider when you are adding rocks to your aquascaping project. Avoid rocks that have sharp edges and points, fish can slice open their tender underbelly's on these rocks. If you are stacking a group of rocks together to make a cave use an aquarium safe silicone to glue the rocks together, this will prevent the rocks from collapsing and crushing the fish that makes the cave its own. Avoid soft rocks, they break down in the water. After you have completed customizing your saltwater aquarium, you may want to enter it in an aquascaping contest. Creating the Perfect Reef Aquarium Just as nature above the sea level is as variable as the sun, from the deserts of Arizona to the snow topped caps of the Swiss Alps, so can the world under the sea be a constant study in contrasts, with no two reefs the same. This is good news for the underwater enthusiast who is attempting to establish the perfect reef aquarium in their home; there is no established "formula" for the perfect tank. There's plenty of room for creativity! One thing that cannot be shirked upon is the size of a tank. It must be more than adequate to allow the species of fish that are chosen to inhabit it plenty of room to exercise and grow. Just as a person cannot thrive in an enclosed environment, neither can a fish. A 75 gallon tank is a generous size for the home marine biologist to establish their own eco-system and allows for space for several species of fish to spread out (provided they are compatible species, of course. Putting two species together who are unsuited to tank life together is a recipe for disaster, regardless of the size of the tank). Courtesy of advances in the convenience of establishing a home aquarium it is now possible to purchase an aquarium that has been pre-drilled in order to prevent overflow. This provides a cleaner look than the traditional "hang on the back" overflow system for the home professional who is attempting to create the picture perfect reef aquarium. There are many options for decorating a reef aquarium, although it is generally much more aesthetically pleasing and healthy to the fish to keep all of the decorations one hundred percent organic. Live rock is a vital element to any eco-system, yet makes a lovely addition to a home saltwater aquarium. The microorganisms which grow on the rock (the rock is not really alive, obviously; it gets its name from the fact that it is a natural habitat for many species of bacteria) will help to filter out the harmful waste products produced by the fish that will accumulate in the water of a saltwater aquarium in spite of the filtering system-after all, how often does Mother Nature need to clean her saltwater aquarium? She has created the perfect filtering system as long as man does not add any elements to throw off the balance. Live plants and coral are also essential elements to the perfect reef aquarium. There are many different types of plants which can be added to a reef aquarium, and it is best to choose based on the species of fish which will be inhabiting the tank. For successful transplantation of live aquarium plants it is essential that the sand or silt on the bottom of the tank be deep enough to allow the roots of the plants to successfully take hold. These plants will also require additional light and carbon dioxide to allow for proper photosynthesis. There are many options for creating the perfect saltwater aquarium, many of them very costly; however, with the proper mix of imagination and frugality it is possible to create a reef aquarium that is aesthetically, ecologically and financially friendly. Coral Reef Care Tanks Aquarium When shopping for fish, it might be tempting to pick the rare and fancy fish full of colors, and exotic looking shrimp or crustaceans. An aquarium full of marine life complete with a coral reef and aquatic plants is very appealing. After all, who wouldn't want to have an underwater paradise in their living room? It may, not however, be the best choice for a beginning hobbyist. Coral reef aquariums require much more care than fresh water tanks or saltwater fish only tanks. Freshwater fish are usually hardier than marine species and therefore a little more forgiving when it comes to water acclimation. It is recommended that only experienced fish keepers with a real commitment to the hobby attempt a coral reef aquarium. A tank containing coral reef life may require several months of cycling before getting the water just right. The water in a coral reef tank must be regulated for lighting, temperature and ph. Start with tap water and then add a sea salt mix to the water. This type of solution is available at most pet stores. Salinity of the tank should be between 1.023 and 1.004. Ideal temperature for a marine aquarium is between 75 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also important to test the P.H. of the tank. Ideal P.H. is somewhere between 8.3 and 8.4. Test kits can be purchased online or at your local pet store. They same store will also carry any solutions necessary to adjust the P. H. There is not much wiggle room when it comes to these specific staring points. In order to avoid a costly mistake it is important to be patient, watch the tank closely, and make sure that you don't introduce any marine life until the tank is absolutely ready. Once the aquarium is ready, start with anemones and clown fish. They are the hardiest of reef species, and who wouldn't love to have Nemo swimming around in their living room? Monitor the marine life closely. Check the activity levels of the fish, and watch for stress. Stress is the most common cause of sickness in fish. Remember that these creatures may have come directly from the ocean, and it may take a while for them to get acclimated to their new home. Another cause of stress in fish is overcrowding. Make sure there allow about ten gallons of water per one inch of fish. Account for the full grown size of the fish, not the size of fish when it is purchased. The incubation period for most sickness in fish is about thirty days. So after about a month, if all is well with the tank and the fish seem to be adjusting well, then it is okay to introduce some new marine life. A mandarin fish or a dwarf angel fish might round out the collection nicely, and they are fairly compatible clown fish. Whenever adding new fish, choose the species carefully for compatibility. The fish should be compatible with water specifics, but also make sure that their food source is compatible. Always remember to be patient when adding new fish. Give the existing tank members plenty of time to get adjusted before making additions to an aquarium. The best piece of advice is to do research. Make sure that all new purchases will be suitable tank mates for the existing creatures. With a little luck, and a lot of skill you will be on your way to having a reef aquarium that will impress any fishkeeper. How to Create and Care for a Coral Aquarium Many aquarium owners crave to someday own a saltwater tank displaying numerous kinds of coral. This may be achieved is fast easy steps if you use coral starter kits to grow your own coral. This is recommended over buying coral from a store. By growing your own, you ensure it is properly acclimated to your tank. Setting up and caring for the coral aquarium, or reef aquarium is a task that requires a bit of knowledge before starting. There are some steps to take when setting up a new coral aquarium. The process may seem to take a long time, and because of this, many people opt to use fake coral instead. However, the time spent waiting will be well worth it when you are later able to display your own coral aquarium. If you follow some simple steps and have patience for about 12 weeks, you will be able to create and own your piece of underwater paradise. To begin, the first thing to do is assemble your aquarium. Find a spot in the home that you wish to have it displayed. Follow through with the set up as you would a freshwater tank. When you are ready to add the water to the tank, follow these simple steps. First, pour the sand into the bottom of the tank. Add dechlorinated water to the tank. Next, add the salt and make sure it is mixed until the specific gravity measures 1.205. After the water and salt are added, arrange your live rock as desired and install the heater and the hood of the tank. After doing these things, you must then wait 4 weeks to move ahead. After the four weeks has passed, you will then add your first living creatures to the tank. It is best to add fish later, and slowly as to make sure the salt balance in the tank is correct and remains that way. At this time, you can add a variety of snails or crabs if you wish to have them part of your tank. You will also need to install a protein skimmer. The tank should be functioning as if it were full of fish. Make sure the filters are working properly and the lighting is right. Remember not to leave the light on for more than 10 to 12 hours a day as it may promote algae growth. After adding some snails or crabs, wait another 2 weeks before proceeding. Now at week 6, you will add your first pieces of coral. There are many types of coral used in saltwater coral aquariums. Some of the most common are Button Polyp, Yellow Polyp, Hairy Mushroom Coral and Bullseye Mushroom Coral. Make sure when adding your coral, it is attached to the live rock at the bottom of the tank. Wait another 2 weeks. Don't get frustrated... you're almost there! During the eighth week, you can add Aquacultured Coral such as Pumping Xenia, Starburst Polyps and Spaghetti Finger Leather Coral to name a few. Place these corals into the live rock as you did with the previous set of coral. Now you have succeeded in creating your reef aquarium. During the course of the 10 to 12 week mark, you may begin adding your fish to your underwater world. It may seem a long drawn out process to get a coral aquarium up and running, but the time and hard work will pay off for years to come. Creating and caring for your coral aquarium will bring you much enjoyment and a wonderful sense of accomplishment for creating a spectacular coral aquarium. Basic Aquarium Plant Care Most people who purchase an aquarium do so for it's visual appeal. People are known to spend more money on decorating their tanks than the fish and tank itself. It's a good idea when purchasing these decorative pieces that you consider buying pieces that are both gratifying to the eye, but also useful tools for the balance and maintenance of your tank. Before resorting to plastic green pieces stuck into the gravel, consider using live plants. Aquatic plants are functional in many ways. Most importantly, the live plants will add oxygen to the water and will help to maintain the water chemistry. They also serve as a place where beneficial bacteria can colonize. This bacteria is essential to have and helps in breaking down waste products in the tank. Overall, the use of live plants aids keeping your aquarium clean and healthy while adding a perfect visual effect. Once the decision to use live plants is made, you must familiarize yourself with how to grow and care for these plants. The key to growing healthy live plants is the balance between lighting and nutrients within the tank. It is best to use more lighting than what is included with standard hoods. The one bulb that comes with a hood is not enough to promote healthy plant growth. When adding extra lighting, be sure to compensate that with a nutrient supplement to stimulate plant growth and at the same time reduce the chance of algae build up. Algae eating fish will make a great addition. They will keep algae levels low and will not damage the live plants. The decision to use live plants should be a primary one and steps need to be taken to prepare the tank for later use. It is suggested to add all your plants in the beginning and let them become established. By doing this, you will eliminate the chances algae utilizing the nutrients added and the extra lighting. Quick growing plants are recommended as well as some floating plants. Certain types of fish, such as a catfish, like to seek cover from direct light. The floating plants will provide this escape for the fish and will add a pleasing effect to the design and decoration of the aquarium. Once your plants are established and growing well, add the fish of your choice and enjoy a beautiful tank. While keeping live plants in the tank, it is important to care for them as you would any other plant. Always remove decaying leaves as they tend to drain the nutrients out of the healthy parts of the plant. Dying roots will rot beneath the gravel. Be sure to remove any part of the plant that is dying or appears diseased. Many plants that are seeded into the gravel will reproduce. The new plant growth can be removed and planted in another part of the aquarium. If you are using a live plant that is primarily a stem plant, try to remove the lower leaves. These low leaves tend to not get the amount of light needed to remain healthy. The use of live plants will definitely help in creating a masterpiece aquarium that is pleasing to the eye and is a happy and healthy environment for your fish. Always remember to clean your aquarium on a regular basis and inspect plants weekly for decay. Scheduled maintenance is the key to keeping a beautiful and healthy aquarium. Aquarium Fish Care -- All About Start Up Okay so you have decided that you want to own a fish tank. Great! All you need to do is go to the pet store and pick out a tank and the prettiest fish in the store, and you are ready to go right? Wrong! Starting up an aquarium is a process. It takes time and a lot of patience. If you are a beginner, it is recommended that you start out with some hardy freshwater fish, but don't buy the fish just yet. You need to set up the aquarium first. Most aquarium retailers will sell an aquarium in the form of a kit. This takes the guess work out of purchasing. In order to get your tank ready, first rinse out the tank with clean tap water. Rinse the gravel and any substrate as well. If you are using an under gravel filter, place it in the bottom of the tank. Next cover the filter with approximately two to three inches of gravel. Fill the tank about a third of the way full with water that has been de-chlorinated. The next step is to add any plants or decorations to the tank. Check with your retailer on the specifics for adding live plants. Some live plants need to be anchored, while others can be left free floating. Next connect the air pump and filtration system, and fill the tank the rest of the way. Lastly put the lid on the tank and let it cycle for one to two days before adding any fish to the tank. Watch the tank for cloudiness and check the temperature and P.H. of the water. If all is clear you may add a few hardy fish. It is important to choose fish that can withstand high levels of nitrites and ammonia, because these levels are always high in a new tank due to the nitrogen cycle. Debris in the tank from fish excretions help to generate the good bacteria that is needed in order for the fish to survive. Since there are currently no fish in the tank this will take some time. It usually takes about four to six weeks. Once you have purchased your fish, let them float on the surface of the tank in the bag for about fifteen minutes. The purpose of this is to allow the fish to become acclimated to the water temperature in the aquarium. Carefully add the fish into the aquarium using a net and a bucket. Don't pour the water from the bag into the aquarium. The water from the bag could throw off your perfectly regulated water, as well as introduce new bacteria to the aquarium. Watch the fish carefully for signs of stress. Stress causes illness in fish. Monitor their activity levels. Inactive fish or fish hanging out near the surface of the aquarium indicates stress. There is a stress coat that can be used, if symptoms of stress do appear. Wait anywhere from a week to a month before introducing any new fish to the aquarium, allowing the existing fish to become acclimated to their new environment. Different Types of Saltwater Aquariums Saltwater aquariums should generally contain fewer fish than fresh water tanks, because the species tend to grow bigger in size. Marine species may be bred in a captive environment, or caught in the wild. Captive bred species are easier to care for and usually hardier than caught species. It generates a great amount of stress for a fish to be captured in the wild and then introduced into an aquarium environment. It is often difficult for them to figure out how to eat. Whenever possible, purchase your fish from a retailer that deals only with breeders or from the breeders themselves. There are five different types of saltwater aquariums. The first type of saltwater aquarium is the fish only aquarium. This is probably the easiest to care for of the five types, simply because you are only dealing with one type of species. Amongst the saltwater fish there are both tropical and coldwater types. They can't be kept together for obvious reasons. The water temperatures vary greatly. Tropical fish are usually brighter in color, and therefore more appealing to aquarium lovers than the fish available in the cold water variety. Most people are somewhat familiar with a few tropical fish such as the Clownfish or the Angel fish. However, few people have heard of such cold water varieties as, the Shanny or the Tompot Blenny. The second type of saltwater aquarium is the invertebrate only aquarium. These types of aquariums usually consist of shrimp, prawn, hermit crabs and perhaps even starfish or sea cucumbers. The third type is the fish and invertebrate saltwater aquarium. These are more difficult to maintain than either of the two categories separately. Certain invertebrates feed on certain fish, and the reverse is also true. Therefore, it is important to research the species carefully to ensure that you do not put predator and prey together in the same aquarium. Diseases can also spread more rapidly and are more difficult to prevent and cure in aquariums containing both invertebrates and fish species. The next type of saltwater aquarium is the coral reef aquarium. Reef aquariums can be tricky to maintain and must be thoroughly researched before attempted. The last category of saltwater aquariums is the specialty aquarium. An example of a specialty aquarium would be an aquarium full of sea horses. Sea horses should not be kept with any other type of fish or marine life, because they are timid and slow eaters. Their food source could easily be taken away by other tank mates. Seahorses prefer to swim vertically rather than horizontally, and should be placed in a tall tank. An octopus and a shark or a ray are other examples of fish that require special needs and would fall into the category of specialty aquarium. Regardless of which type of saltwater aquarium is chosen, research is highly recommended before purchasing any marine life. Make sure you are willing to make the commitment required to care for a saltwater aquarium. Aquarium Care Guide: New Tanks When starting a new aquarium it is important to understand the nitrogen cycle. Many new aquarium owners jump into the hobby of fish keeping too quickly. Before purchasing fish, the aquarium must be cycled. This could take anywhere from twenty four hours to four weeks. In an established aquarium there are certain bacteria that help the breakdown of ammonia to nitrates, but they are not present in a new tank because they are generated from existing fish. If there are no existing fish, then there are no good bacteria. The basic principle of the nitrogen cycle is this. Fish eat food and generate waste. That waste along with excess food and plant debris become ammonia in the aquarium. Ammonia is toxic to fish and needs to be broken down. That's why the nitrifying bacteria is important. This bacteria, turns the ammonia into nitrites which are more tolerable to fish than ammonia. Next, different nitrifying bacteria will turn the nitrites into nitrates, which are even less toxic to the fish and other aquarium life. The nitrates are collected and minimized by filters; however they will eventually accumulate in the tank. Regular water changes are required to remove the nitrates from the water. It is important to set up and run an aquarium before any fish are introduced into the environment. Wash the tank and any substrate and decorations thoroughly with water. Don't use any soap. Fill the tank with de-chlorinated water and attach filters and lighting. Allow the tank to cycle until the water is no longer cloudy and sufficient P.H and water temperatures have been established. Now it is time to purchase the fish! Buy hardy fish such as danios, barb, gouramis, and live bearers. They should be able to withstand the high nitrite levels and ammonia in the new aquarium. Only introduce about four fish at a time. Float the fish in the bag in the aquarium for about fifteen minutes before adding them to the tank. This will help the fish become acclimated to the water temperature in their new home. When adding the fish, be careful not to allow the water from the bag into the aquarium. It may be contaminated, or will at the very least, throw off the temperature and P.H. Allow the fish about two hours to become acclimated before feeding. Only feed an amount that can be consumed in the first two to five minutes. Overfeeding is a common problem in an aquarium. It is important not to overfeed, because excess food will become debris adding to the ammonia levels. This is especially important in new aquariums that lack nitrifying bacteria. Test the water P.H. every day within the first month. Watch the tank for cloudiness; if the aquarium becomes cloudy, it may be necessary to add a clarifier. Monitor the fish for signs of stress or illness. A healthy fish will be swimming regularly. Lethargic fish will usually hover near the surface of the aquarium. After about a week change approximately ten percent of the water and begin regular maintenance. Caring for a Goldfish Aquarium Keeping Goldfish can be a fun and rewarding hobby. As with any new hobby, especially one that involves living creatures, always consider the maintenance that will be involved. If you care for your aquarium properly, you will be sure to have happy and healthy Goldfish for many years. Goldfish have a life expectancy of five to ten years. If you do a good job maintaining their fish tank, you should have fun, beautiful fish for a long time. Make sure to feed them correctly and keep their water fresh and clear. When starting any new aquarium, you should get everything in place before buying the fish. If you are going to put gravel on the bottom, you may want to put only a thin layer. This will make it easier to keep clean, as Goldfish tend to be messy. Make sure that you rinse the gravel thoroughly before placing it in the bottom of the tank. If you have some decorations, you should add them now. Make sure that you rinse them well before putting them into the tank. Also be sure that the goldfish have plenty of room to swim, as they as active fish. Give them a place or two to hide, and that should do nicely. Now that you have everything in place, you can add in the water. You will need to use a dechlorinator, as the chlorine in tap water is poisonous to fish. Once the fish tank is filled up, you can turn on the filter. Change it as often as recommended to keep your fish healthy. Goldfish live at room temperature, so you will not need a heater. They are quite comfortable in temperatures from 68 to 80 degrees. However, they should not be exposed to rapid temperature changes. You might want to let the filter run in the new goldfish tank for a day or so to filter out any chemicals or dyes that might have been left on the gravel and decorations that you just added. Waiting to buy new fish can be one of the hardest things about fish keeping! You need to add fish gradually. Fish excrete ammonia. If you add too many fish at once to a new fish tank, the water will not be seasoned enough to dissipate it. As the water in your Goldfish tank ages, it builds up beneficial bacteria that turn harmful chemicals excreted by the fish into harmless ones. However, this will take some time. Start out with only one fish. The nitrogen cycle will not begin until you add the fish, so running an empty tank for several days will not help. Since your fish tank is brand new, you might want to consider making partial water changes of about 25 per cent of the total water volume every few days for the first week or so. You can find Goldfish food at almost any pet shop. Make sure to purchase some when you buy your first fish. Feed only a small amount. Especially at first. Any uneaten food will sink to the bottom and rot. Keep this to a minimum. Watch your fish the first few times that you feed them. Feed only as much as they will eat in two to three minutes twice a day, or as recommended on the Goldfish food label. Be especially careful not to overfeed when the Goldfish tank is new. This will cause excess build up of toxic chemicals and can kill your fish quickly. As the water in your fish tank cycles through the nitrogen cycle, you may notice that is becomes very cloudy. This is a normal process and should clear up in a few days. Do not add any new fish until the water is crystal clear again. Clear water will signify that the nitrogen cycle is working and that the toxic chemicals are being converted to good ones. Remember that Goldfish will grow large and they need a big space. Don't overcrowd the tank if you want to keep healthy fish. If you follow this little guideline, you will be sure to have a healthy goldfish aquarium. Adding an Oyster to the Ecosystem Inside a Saltwater Aquarium Saltwater aquariums can make a lovely addition to a home, and are a source of endless fascination to young and old alike. The different fish and plant life which are capable of living in a saltwater aquarium are both exotic and beautiful, and provide a rich introduction to life under the sea. Fish and plants are not the only things which can be found in the deep blue, however, and it is becoming more and more common for aquarium owners to attempt to incorporate these other elements into their home aquarium. Artificial oysters which open up and blow bubbles into the water have been a part of home aquariums for many years. With the increase in desire to perfectly emulate the ocean floor live oysters are becoming a common addition to saltwater aquariums. It is not common but not unheard of for a pearl producing oyster to be offered as an addition to a home aquarium; however, it is generally their less productive relations that become permanent residents. Since scallops and oysters have more specific needs than many of the inhabitants of the home aquarium it is necessary the aquarium owner be sure that they are prepared to make these adjustments prior to installing the oyster into the aquarium. Oysters require very "pristine" water conditions; these are not the organism of choice for those who tend to be a bit lazy about cleaning their tank, as the oyster will not survive long if their water becomes cluttered with junk. Fortunately, the oyster also filters the water, so this may balance itself out. They also have specific dietary needs that will not be met with the generic food fed to many saltwater inhabitants. They will need a specialized organic food designed especially for filter feeders which can be inserted with a pipette upstream of the oyster. Each oyster is going to need to be fed individually, so unless an aquarium owner finds themselves with a great deal of time on their hands it may be wise to keep the oyster population of their aquarium to a minimum. These invertebrates also require nutritional supplementation with phytoplankton, a microscopic portion of plankton that drift through the water. Certain types of oysters have been shown to have a better chance of survival in captivity than others. The beginner would be wise to look to these breeds to begin with, moving on to the more delicate oysters as they become more comfortable with their needs. Common aquarium oysters are the spiny oyster and the thorny oyster; strange yet accurate names for these beautiful and unique creatures. Oysters are a demanding but beautiful addition to any home aquarium; for more information on introducing an oyster to a home aquarium consumers should speak with the retailers who sell them. Remember, no detail is too small when attempting to take an organism from its natural environment and watch it thrive. What to Feed Saltwater Fish Aquariums Anyone who has ever had a pet knows that one of the first things a responsible pet owner does is make sure their pet has a balanced diet. They know that the healthy their pets eat, the more likely they are to lead long and healthy lives. Fish kept in saltwater fish aquariums are exactly the same. The responsible saltwater aquarium owner knows exactly what types of food his fish needs to survive and makes sure they keep a ready supply of it on hand. The first thing you need to know about feeding tropical fish is how much food they should be getting. The general rule of thumb is that when you feed your fish use a stopwatch and time how long it takes them to eat. It should take approximently two minutes for the fish to finish eating. If the fish in your tank finish their food in less then two minutes they probably aren't getting enough to eat. If after two minutes there is still food left over then they are probably getting over fed and you'll have to cut back. A more accurate way of measuring how much food that fifty adult tropical fish should eat approximately ten grams of food in one month, but that can carry with variety and growth. A balanced fish food typically consists of ten percent fat, thirty to thirty-six percent protein. There should also be amino acids. The first step in feeding your fish responsibly is knowing what type of food they eat. Some fish can not be kept in a tank that has coral because they like to eat the little invertebrates that make the coral their home. Predatory fish typically need to have frozen or live food. Bottom dwelling fish should be fed a type of food that is heavy enough to sink to the bottom of the tank, these fish do not do well with fish foods that float on the tanks surface. Aquarium owners who are interested in breeding their tropical fish often feed their fish brine shrimp, which they raise in their own brine shrimp hatchery. Many saltwater fish aquariums caretakers like using automatic fish food feeders. Automatic fish food feeders are feeders that can be clamped to the side of the aquarium. Once the fish owner has loaded the hopper with food, the feeder will automatically dispense the food at regular intervals, this allows the fish owner to have more flexibility and not be forced to arrange their schedules around feeding their fish. The average automatic fish food feeder is not capable of dispensing frozen or live food, which does make them convenient for predatory fish. Some absentee fish owners place food blocks in their aquariums. Tropical fish owners should store their extra fish food in a cool dry place in containers that won't allow moisture to seep in. Frozen fish food should be disposed of after three months. One of the dangers in overfeeding fish is that the wasted food can wreck havoc on the pH levels of your aquariums water. If to much discarded food is contaminating the water it can contribute to the death of your fish. What Types of Hermit Crabs Should Be Placed in a Saltwater Aquariums? Hermit crabs have been popular pets for adults and children alike for many years, and there are many who appreciate their unique beauty (and just as many do not-it's a matter of taste). With the increasing popularity of bringing a piece of the sea into the home it is no wonder that the notion of introducing hermit crabs into a saltwater aquarium has been gaining in popularity. Just as there are many types of hermit crabs that can be kept as pets, so too are there many different breeds which can be kept in aquariums. Not all have the same chance for survival if kept in captivity, however, and it is important that the aquarium owner make sure that they are familiar with all of the specific needs of their hermit crabs before they are introduced to the aquarium. Below is an introduction to some of the most common breeds of aquarium hermit crabs: - Red Hermit Crab (Dardanus megistos)- Also known as the White Spotted Hermit Crab this crab has red legs with black edged spots. It is not a safe addition to a reef aquarium but is very useful in keeping algae growth to a minimum in a community aquarium. Only one crab per aquarium please; these crabs are very protective of their personal space. - Red Legged Hermit Crab (Clibanarius digueti)-these Mexican crabs are a hardy addition to any aquarium, eating algae from the tank. They demand a low level of copper in the water, however, as their bodies cannot survive in the presence of this metal. - Scarlet Hermit Crab, or Reef Hermit Crab (Paguristes cadenati)-this hermit crab generally remains small, around two inches across, and has a red body with yellow eyestalks. They are very helpful in keeping the algae growth inside the aquarium under control; however, if insufficient algae is available inside the tank they must be supplementally fed with dried seaweed. - Common Hermit Crab (Pagurus bernhardus)-These crabs are more common in Europe but can be found in other countries as well. Also known as the soldier crab. Since these crabs carry their homes around on their backs it is important that they constantly have new shells available to them when they have outgrown their previous shell. A hermit crab in an improperly sized shell cannot grow properly. These shells can be purchased from a pet store or an online retailer or, if the owner is familiar with the requirements of their hermit crabs, these shells can often be found on a beach. If the owner chooses to go out into the wild and collect their own shells it is important that they choose the proper type of shell for their hermit crab to inhabit. As sea anemones are often an important part of the hermit crabs natural environment they make excellent tank mates, eating the leftovers when the hermit crab has finished a meal and cutting back on the amount of tank waste. Hermit crabs are an intriguing addition to any tank, and require very little maintenance once their owners are familiar with their needs and their habits. With the proper care they can live for quite a while, providing endless hours of joy for their owners and their families. Testing the Hardness of Your Aquarium Water As the ecosystem in nature is very fragile and prone to triggering severe consequences if the balance of elements is altered so is the ecosystem inside of an aquarium a very fragile thing, leading to devastating consequences if the balance is thrown off. Because of this it is important that the elements of the water be tested on a regular basis and necessary alterations made as frequently as possible. There are many elements which are important for the well being of your aquarium fish; temperature and pH have the greatest immediate impact on their well being and should be monitored closely. There are certain precursors which can be tested in order to anticipate problems with these elements, and by closely monitoring these precursors an attentive owner can prevent the death of their fish in much the same way that an attentive physician may be able to head off the formation of cancer. The carbonate hardness, or kh, level of the water should be monitored closely using one of the commercial systems which are available on the market. These can be purchased from any saltwater fish dealer or through an online retailer such as Amazon.com. The hardness of the water is significant because it can lead to rapid swings in pH. These swings can cause the fish to become stressed, making them more vulnerable to disease than they would be otherwise. This means that it will take very little to make them ill; the germs from the fingers of human hands could be enough to cause an epidemic and wipe out your entire aquarium population. Remember what smallpox did to the Indian populations because their immune systems were not prepared? The consequences could be just as fatal. Fish will generally adapt to the hardness of the local water supply fairly quickly; however, to truly thrive their environment should be as close to that of their natural habitat (i.e. where they would be living if they were not living in a tank in your home) as possible. This is particularly necessary if you are entertaining the notion of breeding your fish-bear in mind that much like human newborns baby fish will not have had a chance to adapt to an environment that was not suited for them, and many may die because of this. Organic water plants will also thrive best in water that closely resembles their natural habitat. There are many commercial products available which will help to soften the water if the kh level is too high. By carefully monitoring the kh levels of your aquarium you will be able to stay one step ahead of the elements and help to ensure that your fish have the best chance of survival possible. Caring for Bubble Coral in an Aquarium As more and more people set up saltwater aquariums, more are also adding coral to the decor. As with any living thing, it is best to understand the creature and how to care for it properly before bringing it home. Coral is no different as it is a live animal that you will be adding to your tank. The care and maintenance of coral should be well understood before making the final decision to add this beautiful animal to your aquarium. The most common species of coral that are used in aquariums are called bubble coral. Due to the fact that they are so common, we will use this species as a guideline. Within the bubble coral family, there are three subspecies. They are simple bubble coral, pearl bubble coral and grape bubble coral. They are all cared for in the same way, so they will be referred to as bubble coral throughout the rest of the article. One of the most important things to know about your coral is how to space them when you add them to the tank. Bubble coral have long tentacles which are armed with stinging cells. Mostly, they remain retracted until nightfall, when they are extended to aid in feeding habits. These tentacles will sting neighboring coral if they are close enough. Be aware of this as you position the coral in your tank and try to keep coral pieces at least 6 inches away from others. As your consider the placement. Also take into consideration the available lighting where they are placed. If you have additional light sources aside from the tube in the hood, bubble coral should do well anywhere in the tank. If you are using the included florescent tubes for lighting, it may be better to place the coral closer to the surface. This species of coral prefers low movement of the water. Be sure not to place it in any direct current. Doing so will cause the coral's vesicles to remain closed. This will eventually result in death. When you have the coral situated in the aquarium, you must remember it is a living animal and must eat just as your fish do. For bubble coral, feed it shrimp or small pieces of clam one to two times a week. Place the food morsels on the polyp of the coral. Any food that is trapped by the tentacles or among vesicles, will be eaten almost immediately. It is important not to overfeed the coral or your fish. Algae is a pest that will cause damage or even death of the coral. Keep the algae as controlled as possible by scheduled and routine cleaning of your aquarium. Bubble coral may also get flat worms. These worms are easily spotted and usually appear as circular spots on the coral's vesicles. They are not a cause for alarm and usually do little damage if any. However, if you notice a significant amount or a large population of these worms, you will have to take action as they could cause death. Coral is a wonderful addition to any aquarium. Many people are uninformed as to how to care for this animal. It is advised that you learn all you can about the animal, how it functions and lives before adding it to the aquarium. Once you have the knowledge and can properly care for it, coral will help to create a studding underwater paradise. Switching From a Freshwater Aquarium to a Home Saltwater Aquariums Many people would like to own and maintain a saltwater aquarium but they shy away from them, turning instead to the freshwater variety because they have been told that saltwater aquariums are difficult to maintain and require additional equipment. That is not necessarily true. For the most part converting a freshwater tank to a saltwater tank is simple. Most of the equipment both tanks use is the same, with only a few notable exceptions. One such exception is the aquarium substrate. Instead of using the gravel that your fresh water fish preferred tropical fish fare better with a substrate that is made of live sand or crushed coral. Most filtering systems work well in both freshwater and saltwater environments, but many aquarium owners take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade their system, i is also important to remember that the filter you are using in your saltwater tank circulates the water throughout the entire tank. Disturbing the water's surface maximizes the amount of oxygen in the water. If you are planning to maintain a fish only aquarium you shouldn't have to worry about upgrading your lighting system. The only time the lights will have to be upgraded is if you start adding coral reefs to your tank. A mistake many aquarium lovers make when they are converting their freshwater tanks to saltwater tanks is assuming that all they have to do is add a little salt to the water and voila, a saltwater tank. All they have done is create an environment that will kill any coral reefs, tropical fish, and freshwater fish that they place in the tank. The bacteria in saltwater is completely different from the bacteria in freshwater. People who want to speed the waters cycling process should scoop some aquarium substrate from a warm saltwater aquarium and transfer it to a temperate saltwater aquarium. Before you add fish to your freshly converted tank, make sure you purchase a refractometer and hydrometer to test the salinity of your water. The salinity should have a specific gravity that is between 1.020 and 1.026. Saltwater causes rust. Check your tank and filtration system regularly. If you notice rust starting to form, it's time to replace your equipment. Before you start stocking you saltwater aquarium with fish do a little research. Many variety's of tropical fish require a different type of food the freshwater varieties. Several of these variety's have to be fed combinations of fresh, frozen, and live food in addition to fish flakes. Frozen food should not be kept in your freezer for more then three months. If you are purchasing a fish that is going to need a great deal of live food, find out what kind of arrangements are going to have to be made to keep the food alive before consumption. Most fish owners recommend purchasing a small tank that can be used as a quarantine tank. Placing a sick fish in a quarantine tank will make treating it easier and increase its odds of survival.have to be made to keep the food alive before consumption. Most fish owners recommend purchasing a small tank that can be used as a quarantine tank. Placing a sick fish in a quarantine tank will make treating it easier and increase its odds of survival. Successfully Raising Coral in Saltwater Aquariums When people start a saltwater aquarium they do so because they have an compulsion to create a miniature version of the ocean in their living room. They want the whole kit and caboodle; the brightly colored fish, the flowing plants, the half rotted pirates ship, and the coral reef. Growing a coral reef in your saltwater aquarium is the ultimate goal for many saltwater aquarium enthusiast. Beginners that are just starting a saltwater aquarium are not advised to attempt a reef aquarium. Start with a fish only aquarium and become familiar first, once you have mastered that you will be ready to add one of the hardier breeds of coral to your tank. Before running out and purchasing coral reef, bear in mind that you are not adding an elaborate rock to your tank. Polyps are tiny invertebrate. These polyps work together to form the limestone structures we know as coral reefs. Before you add the reef to your saltwater aquarium you must remember that the life of these polyps depends on your ability to provide them with the proper food, lighting, and water. Having good water is especially important if your want your coral reef to survive. An abrupt change in your water can cause the polyps to go into a state of shock, this will cause your reef to become discolored.Your aquarium must be filled with clear water which will allow the coral reef to get the full benefit of your lighting. Coral requires a strong water current, outfit your tank with a filter that circulates the water throughout your entire tank. Avoid a linear current. When you have decided on a variety of coral for your coral saltwater aquarium do some research on the lighting. Some corals have special lighting requirements. Remember that coral, like all living organisms, require you to feed them. For along time it was believed that coral reefs needed only minimal feeding. This belief was triggered by belief that coral reefs were nutrient poor. People assumed that the reefs used photosynthesis to feed. The reality is that most coral needs to be fed, at a minimum, weekly (every two to three days is recommended). Most coral needs to be fed food that has to be frozen or refrigerated. Throw away any food that has been open for over five months, it becomes stale. You may want to consider purchasing liquid or bottled food for your corral. The size of the polyps in your coral reef will tell you a great deal about their food requirements. If you have large fleshy looking polyps you will be able to feed them large pieces of food, minced meat and large zooplankton. If your have a coral reef that is made up of tiny polyps you have to remember that they can't digest the large pieces of food, these polyps will starve to death in an aquarium that is full of food that is to large for it to digest. If you have done your homework and are patient and diligent you will be able to enjoy a very successful and beautiful coral saltwater aquarium. Stocking Your Saltwater Aquarium With Tropical Fish When most people look at a saltwater aquarium the first thing they notice are the fish. Fish of all shapes, sizes, colors, styles, and personalities. One of the most devastating things that can happen to a tropical fish lover after they have gone to the effort and expense of purchasing an aquarium and setting it up is to purchase fish that are riddled with disease that die shortly after they are brought to their new home. The odds of purchasing a healthy fish is by purchasing it from a reputable pet store. If you walk into a store that sells pet fish for private aquariums and your immediately flattened by the odor of rotting seafood turn around and walk away. It isn't unusual for fish stores to have a peculiar musty scent. Strong odar can indicate a store who is not as concerned as they should be about the care of their animals. Take a good look at the store's aquariums. The tanks should be clean. The water should be clear. Don't be alarmed if you see a tank that has a sign announcing that the fish in the tank aren't for sale. Many fish stores don't have enough room for a quarantine tank. The staff should be friendly and attentive. If the store is having a slow spell the employees should be cleaning tanks or feeding fish. When they catch a fish, the handler should use two nets and corner the fish, eliminating unnecessary stress. The members of the staff should be helpful and informative. The rule of thumb is that if there are more then three dead fish in a tank consider shopping somewhere else. Dead fish happen. When stores are busy they don't always have the time to clean the deceased fish from the tank. So one or two is not necessarily a bad omen, but more then that and you'll want to consider looking somewhere else before you stock your saltwater aquarium. When you are shopping for tropical fish take your time and really study the fish. Take note of their physical condition. Study their eyes, fins, mouths, scales, and abdomens. Put your hand as close to the glass as you can without actually touching it. The fish should either swim towards your hand, looking for food, or they should dart for cover. If a fish doesn't look or act healthy, don't purchase it. Before you go shopping for tropical fish, gather a little knowledge. Make sure that the fish you purchase are compatible. Make sure you know what kind of food they require (predatory fish generally need frozen or live bait). If you decide that you want to own a predatory fish that requires live food make sure that you have a way of keeping that food alive, in many cases this will mean a completely separate tank. If you are eventually planning adding coral to your saltwater aquarium you may want to start thinking ahead and purchase fish that are compatible with coral. Setting up a Reef Saltwater Aquariums Saltwater enthusiast have developed a love affair with coral reefs. There is nothing they love better then to design, stock and maintain a saltwater aquarium that is teaming with coral. For years only the most adventurous were brave enough to tackle the challenges proposed by a reef saltwater aquarium. Until recently coral reef was notoriously hard to maintain. Times have changed. Now there are several varieties of coral that even the most novice saltwater aquarium owner can enjoy. The key to successfully maintaining a reef saltwater aquarium is to have your saltwater reef aquarium properly set up. The first thing you'll want to find is a tank. Select the largest possible tank that you feel comfortable with. The greater the size of your tank, the greater the water mass encompassing the reef, and the more you will be able to duplicate the effects of the ocean. You can choose either the classic look of a glass aquarium or you can select an acrylic tank which gives you a larger variety of shapes and styles. Acrylic tanks are also more durable then glass tanks. Make sure that there is absolutely no copper anywhere in the tank. Copper has a lethal affect on coral. Before adding the coral to your tank make sure that the temperature of your water stays consistent. The temperature should remain at 23-25 degrees Celsius (73-77 degrees Fahrenheit). Your coral will remain healthier in water that is always at the same temperature. It is very important that your reef saltwater aquarium be properly filtered. The three types of filters are mechanical, biological, and chemical. A mechanical filter is a filter made out of spun nylon floss. Mechanical filter trap and remove wasteful material and prevent your chemical and biological filters from becoming clogged. There are a variety of biological filters. Some use the tanks aquarium substrate as a part of the filtration system. The purpose of biological filters is to contain the biochemical properties and to break down waste products. Chemical filters absorbs the ions of dissolved waste. Chemical filters are typically based on active carbon. Many reef saltwater aquarium owners like to use other products such as Bioballs and Protein Skimmers to assist with their filtration system. The PH level of a reef saltwater aquarium should hold steady at 8.2. Coral reefs require a filtration system that circulates the tanks water. Moving water tends to be rich in oxygen and the currents carry food to the invertebrates living inside the immobile coral. A submersible pump will do wonders to increase the water flow in a saltwater aquarium. When you decide that it is time to stock your reef saltwater aquarium with fish you need to remember a few things before rushing out to your favorite fish store. Bear in mind that just because a variety of fish lives in the ocean does not automatically mean that it's compatible with coral. Some fish eat the invertebrates that make the coral reef their home. Some fish produce waste that is toxic to the coral. Some fish, like Blow-fish, produce a toxin when they die that can kill every living organism in your aquarium. Save Money on Distilled Water in Saltwater Aquariums Once upon a time, people believed that heating distilled water was dangerous because it heated faster then regular tap water. This has since been proved to be untrue. Distilled water does not heat any faster then your everyday, run of the mill, tap water. The definition of distilled water is water that virtually has had all its impurities removed through the act of desolation. Water is distilled by boiling it. As the water boils the steam is captured and then re-condensed into a clean container. Many companies have started considering cheaper alternatives for purifying water, one such method is deionizing the water. As of yet alternate methods, while successful, have been unable to completely purify the water. Distilled water is commonly used in lead acid batteries, automotive cooling systems, and steam irons. Another popular use of distilled water is in aquariums. Aquarium enthusiast use distilled water in their tanks because it lacks chemicals that are often found in run of the mill tap water. Many tap waters contain chlorine and chloramine, which are fatal to fish. All to often aquarium owners are stunned to learn how much money they spend each year just by purchasing gallon after gallon of distilled water. On way saltwater aquarium owners can save money is by distilling their own water, provided that they are willing to improvise. The first thing you will need to do is to find away to heat/boil the water, this can be done with either a gas or electric stove. Any normal cooking pot will do for the heating. The next thing to do is find a way to catch and cool the steam, because the typical cooler is made out of a long spiral shaped piece of copper tubing. Saltwater aquarium owners will have to find a different piece of tubing because water distilled in copper is fatal to the invertebrates that live in coral reef. If you are unable to find a spiraled pipe consider using a pot and to lids. As the water boils it will start to condense on the lid of the pot, this is distilled water. Cover the pot with the second lid and pour the condensed water into a cup. Repeat the process until you have enough water for your tank. It takes a long time to gather enough water. When setting up a saltwater aquarium it is important to remember that the distilled water must be supplemented. By itself the distilled water is to pure to sustain aquatic life. It is also important to make sure that the distilled water you are using has not been stored in any containers containing copper. The addition of copper in the saltwater is lethal to the invertebrates that live in coral reefs. Anyone who is unsure about the purity of their tap water should plan on using distilled water when they are setting up a saltwater aquarium. Make sure you add a saltwater mix to the distilled water. After filling the tank with water and installing your filtration system it's recommended that you let your tank sit empty for a few days. When the water quality tests accurately after the tank has been running then you can add your fish. Double checking your water could potentially save you from accidentally destroying your fish. Aquarium Care for Sand Sharks Sand sharks are viewed as the most timid and least aggressive of the shark species. Sand sharks are usually smaller in size than other sharks and move fairly slowly. These sharks are found all over the Atlantic Ocean, and are the most common type of shark. Although these sharks would seem to be the perfect aquarium kept fish, because of their smaller size, they are not. They still grow to reach an average length of about five feet, and can weigh as much as three hundred pounds. This is really too large to keep in a home aquarium. The population of these sharks has dwindled in recent years, due to fishing activities. Therefore they are being considered for the endangered species list. It would be irresponsible to attempt to house one of these creatures, unless fully educated on their care needs. Sand sharks adapt the best of all sharks to a captive environment. The types of aquariums that house these very large fish are usually public state supported aquariums. These facilities have the resources to build large enough tanks to house the sharks. Sand sharks can be kept in a tank with other large fish. The sharks are usually fed three to four times a week to discourage them from eating tank mates. For the most part this works well, although, every so often some of the fish seem to disappear. When housing sharks, care should be taken to ensure there is adequate space for swimming. Sharks by nature cruise the open waters. When visiting a public aquarium, notice sand sharks tend to be constantly moving, while some of the other fish just hang out in the tank. A good alternative for a sand shark in a home aquarium is the catfish shark. Although labeled as a shark because of their dorsal fins, these creatures are much smaller. They usually grow to be about a foot long. They will still need a larger tank with plenty of space, because they too will have a cruising nature. These fish, like true sharks will eat just about anything that will fit in their mouths. Therefore be careful not to house it with smaller fish. The catfish shark should be kept in a tank with brackish water. Brackish water is more difficult to maintain because it is a mixture of both salt and freshwater. In the wild these fish live in areas where ocean waters meet streams or rivers. The Albemarle Sound is an example of brackish water. The same general type of equipment is required for brackish water and saltwater aquariums as fresh water. It is a good idea to upgrade filters and heaters, however, because saltwater and brackish water fish are more sensitive to water irregularities. Sharks are accustomed to a darker environment, so it is not necessary to have a lot of lighting. Sand sharks have the same basic care requirements as most other fish. They need, and adequate food source, regulated water and an environment that would be similar to their natural habitat. Saltwater Reef Aquariums Historically saltwater aquarium owners have shied away from reefs. No one could understand why when these coral reefs were put into an aquarium the reef had a depressingly short life span. Now, thanks to some very persistent aquarium owners, fans of the saltwater aquarium's can enjoy the beauty of their very own coral reef. Their are reefs for every aquarium owner, from the raw beginner to the experienced professional. The saltwater enthusiast can now find the saltwater coral that best suits their abilities, whether they are a rank beginner or an experienced professional. Zoanthus Coral is a wonderful choice for the person who is just beginning to add coral reef to their saltwater aquarium. Reef enthusiast find that Zoanthus is a hardy coral that flourishes in most saltwater tanks. Zoanthus coral does not like to be fed a meaty diet and prefers to have its food finely chopped. Zoanthus Coral can be found in a variety of colors, many experienced saltwater reef aquarium owners like to use Zoanthus as a filer coral for their more temperamental varieties of coral reef. Zianthus is also called Sea Mat and Bottom Polyps. Another good variety of starter coral is Cladiella, Cladiella is also commonly referred to as Colt Coral and Finger Leather Coral. The Cladiella Coral is renowned for is adaptability. Anyone interested in using Cladiella Coral in their saltwater reef aquarium must make sure that it is securely anchored or it will not grow. Something like Siderastrea Coral. Siderastrea is a soft coral, that is tolerant of light, temperature, changes in the tanks quality of water, and currents. It is typically tan or gray or white. Although it can occasionally be found in round domes the typical shape of the Siderastrea Coral is flat plates that can measure anywhere from 4-12 inches around. Pink Starlet Coral, Starlet Coral, and Lesser Starlet Coral are three names that commonly refer to Siderastrea Coral. Once the saltwater aquarium owner becomes comfortable caring for his hardier varieties of coral they may wish to move onto something a little more challenging. Fish and coral seem to go together, some types better then others. When an aquarium owner is looking to purchase fish they must consider the compatibility of the fish to the coral. It is also important to make sure that the fish you are purchasing for your saltwater aquarium are healthy. Take the time to examine their eyes, scales, skin, abdomen, mouth and fins before making your final decision. The eyes of your fish should be clear and bright. A cloudy film obscuring the eye could be a sign of an internal bacterial infection. A saltwater fish that has blotchy scales is a fish that is potentially dealing with an internal disease. Fish that have bruised mouths can sometimes lack an appetite, look for a fish with a firm unbruised mouth. Your potential fish should have an abdomen that is firm, and gently rounded. The fins should be crisp and clean. A fish that has scales that are ragged or one that's fins are starting to droop and sag. How to Install a Wall Mounted Aquarium The life under the sea has long fascinated the landlubbers who attempt to learn its mysteries, and the privilege of being able to bring a small piece of it into their homes has proved too difficult to resist. Saltwater aquariums can be seen in homes around the world, containing everything from tropical fish to sharks and stingrays. For many, however, it is not enough to simply have a tank sitting in the middle of whatever room they have chosen to plant it in for them to look at and admire. They wish to be in the middle of the ocean itself, to find themselves surrounded by the marine life they have long admired. Unfortunately, although science has made many advances in that area it is not yet possible for man to live under the sea. A small taste of what is would be like to have the ocean as your floor, walls and sky can be obtained by installing an in wall aquarium. In wall aquariums come in many shapes and sizes, from tanks no larger than the screen on a small television sets to the great tanks that make up the walls of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. Installing these tanks is not difficult, although it does require a great deal of time and effort; however, with the proper directions and guidance anyone can allow themselves to enjoy these beautiful home accents. Before you get too carried away with the concept of being able to float along in a mermaid lagoon (even if it is only in your mind) it is important that you first ensure that your home is going to be able to support the aquarium you wish to install in it. The strength of your wall studs is going to be the determining factor on whether it is possible to place an aquarium directly in the foundation of your home; if they are not strong enough to support the weight of the aquarium the mission must be aborted at the very beginning. It is possible to hire a company to come and install your aquarium for you, ensuring that the cables and pumps will be neatly hidden and the aquarium seamlessly placed into the fabric of your home. While this is more expensive than doing it yourself it does guarantee success (after all, if a professional makes a mistake which installing your aquarium they are responsible for the repairs, not you). If you are new to the business of installing in home aquariums, or home repair in general, or if you do not have a great deal of time on your hands this is probably the option for you. While in wall aquariums are more expensive than their traditional relations they bring with them a set of advantages uniquely their own. They generally require fewer cords and plugs, as well as less maintenance. They allow you to save space and ensure that little fingers do not find their way into the aquarium to torment the fish. Most of all, they allow you to bring just a little bit of every child's dream into your home, blending fantasy and reality in a way that was previously only available on t.v. Tips for Great Deals When Purchasing a Saltwater Aquarium on e-Bay With the world quickly entering the age of the virtual consumer it seems as though everyone is looking to the internet to purchase and sell their goods. The savvy consumer can find everything from fungus to jewelry throughout the mysterious twists and turns of the world's largest shopping mall. Is it any wonder, then, that e-Bay, the all in one auction site where buyers can literally buy almost anything, is becoming one of the largest "retailers" in the world? Of course, just because they are beginning to exert a dominance over the international market is no reason for consumers not to take advantage of the deals that can be had by shopping on e-Bay. e-Bay is an auction site, not a retailer. Many of the sellers who are listing their wares on e-Bay have a greater interest in finding a good home for them than in making a good profit-and the added bonus of no longer tripping over them when they walk through their house doesn't hurt either. Due to the fact that most of these sellers are interested in moving their products as quickly as possible the opening bids are generally well below market value. Bear in mind, of course, that competition is going to inevitably drive the bidding up. Unless your mind is completely made up on the precise type of aquarium you want it may be best to go for one of the less popular models in an attempt to get the best deal. There will probably not be a great number of bidders competing over these products and the bids will probably not go a great deal higher than the minimum bid (we say probably because the only absolutes in life are death and taxes, and in the auction world the unexpected often happens). These less popular models are every bit as functional and beautiful as the more popular models, they just lack the newfangled gadgets which accompany every new and improved product that hits the market. (If you truly have your heart set on these gadgets, bear in mind that many can be added separately a little farther down the road for a great deal less expense). Be careful not to find yourself starting a bidding war. Do not throw your hat in the ring too early. Bear in mind that it is competition that drives the price of a product up. If you are too excited to purchase a product you will probably play your hand too soon and start a bidding war. The only thing that is going to mean is more money out of your pocket if you win. It is best to find an aquarium that suits your needs, then take note of the current bid and the day that the bidding is ending. On the last bidding day, as close to the closing time as possible without being over, visit the site and see what the current bid is. If it is still within your budget this is the time to make your bid. Of course, if you find the aquarium that is absolutely perfect for your needs and you do not wish to wait another minute to add it to your home many items on e-Bay come with a "Buy It Now" option. This is generally a minimum amount which the owner has agreed to accept to stop the bidding process and make a sale. Beware! This price may be higher than the bidding would go, so do not jump the gun too early unless you feel you have truly found your heart's desire. With a bit of organization and savvy planning e-Bay can yield tremendous deals on aquariums and their accompanying equipment. Happy Hunting! Tips for Successfully Selling A Saltwater Aquarium on e-Bay Aquariums are a delightful addition to any home, and they inevitably brighten up the scenery and delight young and old alike. Despite their many assets there may come a time when an aquarium owner is simply unable to keep their aquarium. It may be a matter of finances (even though the majority of expenses are associated with setting up the aquarium there are certain expenses associated with keeping it running, and repairs and fish food can accumulate to be an impressive sum as well) or there may a move taking place and the new home will not accommodate a large aquarium, or the owner may be traveling such a distance that it is impractical for them to take their aquarium with them. Whatever the reason, if an owner is unable to keep their aquarium one of the fastest and most painless ways to sell their aquarium is on e-Bay. For those who are not familiar, e-Bay is an online auction house and one of the biggest sales venues in the country today. Every day hundreds of thousands of people visit e-Bay to view what is for sale and to list their own goods. The advantage of e-Bay over more traditional sales venues is that it allows competition to drive up the price of its products so that there is literally no maximum amount of profit a product can sell for. The name of the game is for buyers to outbid each other until one buyer finally makes a bid so high that no one else is willing to try to top them or the time for bidding has passed. Registering to sell on e-Bay is simple. All a would-be seller needs to do is open a seller's account, which can easily be done by following the instructions on e-Bay's homepage, www.ebay.com. Once a seller account has been created the seller can begin to list their goods. It is free to establish a seller account; however, there are certain fees associated with selling on e-Bay, so it is necessary to determine if the potential profits justify the amount of these fees before committing to selling through this venue. Chances are the answer will be yes. There are some steps which can be taken to make sure that the saltwater aquarium an individual is attempting to sell will sell quickly. Including a picture of the aquarium with the listing is important, as many novice aquatic enthusiasts will not recognize a written description of an aquarium. A picture will draw their attention. The one line description should include as much basic information pertaining to the aquarium as possible, as the attention span of most buyers is extraordinarily short and if it is not captured in a first glance their business will probably be lost. It is also important that the minimum bid be competitive with other, similar aquariums on e-Bay. It is free to search these listings, and it is not necessary to have an account to view them. Selling an aquarium on e-Bay is an excellent way for a owner to recoup some of the money which they have invested in their marine life while at the same time assuring that their saltwater aquarium is going to a good home.
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