We design and build aquariums ranging from factory built aquariums supplied and installed to super high end bespoke aquariums.
We also renovate and install new public aquarium attractions or large private tanks. We helped design the first public aquarium in Nigeria.
We have everything 'in house' and benefit from excellent trade relationships - we are competitively priced and always exceed the expectations of our clients. We have excellent access to London and regularly carry out work there.
Working with our clients closely to understand fully what they would like to achieve as an end result is paramount to a successful install. It is a regular occurrence for us to be called to a client and their dream is considered too much for the average installer; we love all our projects and particularly relish a challenge so we have an all projects considered approach no matter how outside the box they may be.
Our bespoke aquariums use high end fittings and materials to ensure the quality of the room they are being installed in is fully maintained around the aquarium. For example an aquarium hood in a kitchen with soft close hinges will have the same. If there is 19mm solid walnut panelling to be matched then it will be with the same degree of joinery or higher.
Our aquarium installations also 'work'! Strange thing to say I know but there are a lot of people that have been put off having a bespoke aquarium because the filtration systems etc do not work and the fish health suffers. We have an array of experience ranging from small domestic aquariums to installations for Sea Life Centres, it is because of this we build aquariums for the long term that have filtration systems that are efficient and low maintenance.
We can work closely with architects and interior designers to ensure their dream of something special becomes a reality. We have a wealth of building experience at our finger tips and can often offer pragmatic advice for the structure in and around the aquarium.
We offer all services from:
Supply and installation
Supply, Installation and Training
Supply, Installation and Maintenance
We have acted in the past and are happy to act again as consultants for other installation companies on projects that may be new to them and could do with our knowledge.
We are also used regularly as sub contractors on projects
Types of Aquariums
All types! - Marine, Freshwater, Temperate, Jellyfish,
Large Tanks - Sharks, Stingrays, tank busters.
Walk through tunnels
Walk over tanks
Maintenance contracts have been running since 2001, we are gaining new customers very regularly and our first original customer is still a valued customer. We maintain home and business aquariums.
Some customers require a one off maintenance visit or renovation of their aquarium
Benefits of home aquariums -
A tranquil world of blue and green
A realm of serenity, calm, and serene
An aquarium at home, a mesmerising scene
A world of wonders, a peaceful dream
Having an aquarium at home can provide numerous benefits. For starters, watching fish swim around in a tank can be incredibly relaxing and calming. It can help to reduce stress levels and create a peaceful atmosphere in your home.
In addition to its calming effects, an aquarium can also be educational, particularly for children. It can teach them about aquatic life, habitats, and ecosystems, and help to develop an appreciation for the natural world.
Having an aquarium can also be beneficial for your physical health. Studies have shown that watching fish can help to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and even alleviate pain.
Furthermore, an aquarium can be a beautiful addition to your home décor. It can serve as a focal point and add a touch of color and life to your living space.
Overall, having an aquarium at home can provide numerous benefits, from its calming effects and educational opportunities to its physical and aesthetic benefits. It can be a source of wonder, relaxation, and joy for you and your family.
Below is an excerpt from my book I am writing on freshwater tropical fish for the home aquarium, it is currently unpublished or proof read but there may be some golden bits of information and it helps with the sites ranking on google. As a new client of ours you can either learn all about keeping fish and take on the maintenance yourselves or let us do all the work including long term maintenance so all you have to do is enjoy the aquarium in all its majesty.
A guide to commonly kept freshwater tropical fish in the home aquarium – Ben Francis-Woodward BSc (hons)
Welcome to the enchanting world of freshwater tropical fish!
I am the author Ben Francis-Woodward and have written for decades in worldwide aquatic press. I am also the director of a handful of businesses in the aquatics world including Universal Aquaculture, Privaqua, okpet.co.uk and fishkeeping.com.
I have guest spoken at the House of Lords and the UN conference on the future of fish production in Africa. At the time of writing I have built some of the largest private home aquariums in the world hidden beneath the cloak of ultra wealthy secrecy.
I am passionate about all aspects of fishkeeping from small home fish tanks all the way to large scale aquaculture operations. I have always wanted to write a series of books on various subjects and I feel the first book I should write should be aimed at people who are new to the hobby or who want to learn more about the different fish available, how to keep them, how to breed them.
Our first chapter is on water quality which is the single most important factor when keeping fish – I will try and keep it concise and as simple as I can but the subject is important and a deep subject.
Let’s take a deep dive into the fascinating lives of these aquatic creatures, exploring their natural habitats, behaviours, and unique characteristics.
Freshwater tropical fish are a diverse and captivating group of animals that can be found in almost every corner of the globe, from the lush rainforests of South America to the sprawling river systems of Africa and the remote streams of Asia. These fish come in all shapes, sizes, and colours, from the neon-bright hues of the discus to the sleek, streamlined form of the angelfish.
But freshwater tropical fish are not just beautiful to look at - they are also fascinating creatures with complex social behaviours and intricate ecological relationships. From the curious behaviours of the Betta to the symbiotic relationships between angelfish and their breeding partners, these fish are full of surprises and wonders.
Whether you are an experienced aquarium hobbyist or simply curious about these captivating creatures, this book is sure to offer a wealth of insights and inspiration. So join us as we explore the world of freshwater tropical fish and discover the secrets of these enchanting animals!
Chapter One – Water Quality
Welcome to the world of fishkeeping! If you're new to the hobby, or even if you're a seasoned aquarist, one of the most important things you need to consider is water quality.
I could write an entire book on water quality alone, it is a complex subject with many variables. For example I do not wish to delve deep into the different types of ammonia that occur so I will try and keep it concise and generally when I refer to ammonia it is broadly to be considered generally toxic to fish. Its toxicity does have a relationship with pH but I feel for the purpose of this book I should keep it as simple as possible and if I get round to it I’ll write a more concise book on water quality for people who wish to know about it more intricately.
Water quality is essential for the health and well-being of the fish and other aquatic animals in your tank. Poor water quality can lead to a host of problems, including disease, stress, and even death. It's crucial to ensure that the water in your tank is free of harmful toxins, pollutants, and other substances that can be harmful to your fish.
There are several factors that can affect the quality of your tank's water, including temperature, pH, ammonia levels, nitrite levels, and nitrate levels. Keeping these factors in balance is crucial for maintaining a healthy aquatic environment.
In this chapter, we will explore the different aspects of water quality and provide you with the information you need to keep your fish healthy and happy. We'll cover the basics of water chemistry, discuss different methods of testing water quality, and provide tips and advice for maintaining the ideal water conditions for your fish.
So whether you're a beginner looking to set up your first tank or an experienced aquarist looking to improve your skills, this book will help you understand the critical role that water quality plays in the health and well-being of your fish, and provide you with the knowledge you need to create a thriving aquatic ecosystem in your home.
Temperature – this book is designed for commonly kept freshwater (without salt) tropical fish.
Maintaining the correct temperature in your tropical freshwater aquarium is crucial for the health and happiness of your fish. In this article, we'll explore the importance of temperature control in aquariums, how to monitor and adjust temperature, and what temperature range is ideal for most tropical fish.
Why is Temperature Control Important?
Fish are often misconstrued as cold blooded but they are what are known as poikilothermic. They are unable to regulate their body temperature internally. As a result, they are entirely reliant on the temperature of their surrounding environment to maintain their metabolic functions. A stable water temperature in your aquarium is essential for maintaining your fish's health and well-being.
If the water temperature in your aquarium is too low, your fish may become lethargic and less active. Their metabolism will slow down, they may stop eating and it can be fatal. On the other hand, if the water temperature is too high, your fish may become stressed, and their immune system may be compromised. Additionally, high water temperatures can reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, which can be fatal to fish.
How to Monitor and Adjust Temperature
To ensure that the temperature in your aquarium stays within the ideal range, you will need to monitor it regularly. A reliable thermometer should be placed in your aquarium to track the temperature consistently. Many different types of thermometers are available, including digital, analogue, and stick-on varieties. Whichever type of thermometer you choose, it is essential to ensure that it is calibrated correctly.
If the temperature in your aquarium is too low, a heater can be used to warm up the water. Heaters come in different wattage sizes and can be either submersible or external. It is essential to select the appropriate heater size based on the size of your aquarium to prevent overheating.
On the other hand, if the temperature in your aquarium is too high, you can reduce it by adding a fan or increasing the airflow around the aquarium. Additionally, you can reduce the amount of lighting in your aquarium, as this can raise the water temperature significantly.
Ideal Temperature Range for Tropical Fish
The ideal temperature range for most tropical freshwater fish is between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 and 27 degrees Celsius). However, some species of fish may require slightly different temperature ranges, so it is essential to research the specific requirements of the fish you plan to keep.
In conclusion, maintaining the correct temperature in your tropical freshwater aquarium is crucial for the health and happiness of your fish. Regular monitoring and appropriate adjustments, using thermometers and heaters, can help ensure that your fish remain healthy and vibrant. By maintaining the ideal temperature range for your fish, you can create a thriving, beautiful aquarium that you and your fish will enjoy for years to come.
Generally speaking this is one of the most dangerous of the nitrogenous wastes to fish. A lot of water quality parameters do have exceptions to the rule such as Clarias catfish which are very tolerant of ammonia but find nitrite NO2- more toxic than a lot of other species. For the purpose of keeping this book simple I will generalise these parameters as being toxic to all the commonly kept tropical fish.
Ammonia is one of the most critical water quality parameters that must be monitored and controlled in freshwater tropical aquariums. High levels of ammonia can be toxic to fish and other aquatic animals, leading to disease, stress, and even death. In this section, we'll explore the sources of ammonia in aquariums, the harmful effects of high ammonia levels, and how to manage and control ammonia levels in your aquarium.
Sources of Ammonia in Aquariums
Ammonia is produced in aquariums by the breakdown of organic matter, such as uneaten food, fish waste, and decaying plant matter. The most common problem by far I come across in fish health and water quality issues is overfeeding, the protein in the food is directly linked to the amount of ammonia that can build up in the aquarium, the more food – the more protein – the more ammonia.
The process of nitrification (the nitrogen cycle which we will come onto) facilitates ammonia as an intermediate product, which is then converted into nitrite and eventually nitrate by beneficial bacteria.
In a healthy aquarium, the simplest way to describe the nitrogen cycle is beneficial bacteria convert ammonia NH3 to nitrite NO2- and then to nitrate NO3. However, if the beneficial bacteria are not present in sufficient numbers or if the ammonia load in the aquarium is too high, ammonia levels can quickly rise, leading to toxic conditions. A common trope over decades of keeping fish which still lives on to this day is ‘new tank syndrome’. This is essentially when ammonia builds up to a point causing fatality because the new aquarium does not have any or enough bacteria in the filter to cope with the protein load of either over stocking fish too soon or over feeding!
Harmful Effects of High Ammonia Levels
High levels of ammonia in aquarium water can be toxic to fish and other aquatic animals. Ammonia can cause irritation to the gills and skin of fish, making them more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. It can also damage the nervous system, making fish less responsive to their environment and more susceptible to predation.
Additionally, high ammonia levels can stress fish, leading to decreased immunity and an increased susceptibility to diseases. It can also lead to lethargy, reduced appetite, and, in severe cases, death.
Managing and Controlling Ammonia Levels
To maintain healthy ammonia levels in your aquarium, it is essential to establish and maintain a healthy biological filter. The biological filter houses beneficial bacteria that break down ammonia and convert it to less toxic nitrite and nitrate.
One way to establish a healthy biological filter is to cycle your aquarium before adding fish. Cycling involves adding a source of ammonia, such as fish food, and allowing the beneficial bacteria to establish themselves in the filter. This process can take several weeks, but it is essential to ensure that your aquarium is healthy and stable before adding fish.
Once your aquarium is established, regular maintenance is critical to controlling ammonia levels. Uneaten food and fish waste should be removed promptly, and water changes should be conducted regularly to dilute any accumulated toxins.
In cases where ammonia levels are already elevated, the addition of a specialized ammonia-removing product, such as an ammonia-removing filter media or an ammonia-neutralizing solution, can help bring levels back down to safe levels.
In conclusion, controlling ammonia levels in freshwater tropical aquariums is critical for the health and well-being of fish and other aquatic animals. Understanding the sources of ammonia, the harmful effects of high ammonia levels, and how to manage and control ammonia levels in your aquarium is essential for maintaining a thriving and healthy aquatic environment. By maintaining healthy ammonia levels, you can create a beautiful and vibrant aquarium that you and your fish will enjoy for years to come.
Generally speaking the nitrogen cycle goes:
Ammonia NH3 -> Nitrite NO2- -> Nitrate NO3
Which in broad terms is from the most toxic to the least toxic.
This process is called nitrification -
Nitrite can actually spike the other way round through a process called re-nitrification where one of the valency’s from the 3 on the Nitrate is taken which creates NO2- (nitrite). Again as above we will stick with the basics because that is largely what occurs in most healthy tanks.
Nitrite is another critical water quality parameter that must be monitored and controlled in aquariums. Like ammonia, high levels of nitrite can be toxic to fish and other aquatic animals, leading to illness, stress, and death. In this article, we'll explore the sources of nitrite in aquariums, the harmful effects of high nitrite levels, and how to manage and control nitrite levels in your aquarium.
Sources of Nitrite in Aquariums
Nitrite is produced in aquariums as a part of the nitrogen cycle. As beneficial bacteria break down ammonia into nitrite, it becomes a primary source of nitrogen in aquarium water. Nitrite levels rise and fall as the nitrogen cycle progresses. However, if the nitrogen cycle is not established or is disrupted, nitrite levels can quickly rise to toxic levels.
Harmful Effects of High Nitrite Levels
High levels of nitrite in aquarium water can be toxic to fish and other aquatic animals. Nitrite can cause damage to the gills and skin of fish, leading to respiratory distress and even suffocation. Additionally, nitrite can interfere with the ability of blood to carry oxygen, leading to a condition known as "brown blood disease." Nitrite can also damage the nervous system, causing lethargy, reduced appetite, and even death.
Managing and Controlling Nitrite Levels
To maintain healthy nitrite levels in your aquarium, it is essential to establish and maintain a healthy biological filter. The biological filter houses beneficial bacteria that convert nitrite into less toxic nitrate. Just like with ammonia, one way to establish a healthy biological filter is to cycle your aquarium before adding fish.
Regular maintenance is also essential to controlling nitrite levels in your aquarium. Uneaten food and fish waste should be removed promptly, and water changes should be conducted regularly to dilute any accumulated toxins. Water testing should also be conducted regularly to monitor nitrite levels.
In cases where nitrite levels are already elevated, the addition of a specialized nitrite-removing product, such as a nitrite-removing filter media or a nitrite-neutralizing solution, can help bring levels back down to safe levels.
Controlling nitrite levels in aquariums is critical for the health and well-being of fish and other aquatic animals. Understanding the sources of nitrite, the harmful effects of high nitrite levels, and how to manage and control nitrite levels in your aquarium is essential for maintaining a thriving and healthy aquatic environment.
Prolonged exposure to nitrite in the aquarium can cause something called brown blood disease in fish or scientifically methemoglobinemia where the wrong type of iron in the blood forms giving the gills a brownish tinge.
Methemoglobinemia is caused by the oxidation of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen. When nitrite levels in aquarium water rise to toxic levels, it can be absorbed through the gills of fish and enter their bloodstream, oxidizing haemoglobin to form methaemoglobin. Methaemoglobin is unable to carry oxygen, leading to hypoxia and ultimately, death.
Symptoms of Methemoglobinemia
Fish suffering from methemoglobinemia exhibit a range of symptoms, including lethargy, rapid breathing, and a lack of appetite. As the condition progresses, fish may begin to swim erratically or become disoriented. The gills of affected fish may appear red or brown in colour, a result of the oxidation of haemoglobin. Without treatment, fish may eventually become comatose and die.
Preventing and Treating Methemoglobinemia
The best way to prevent methemoglobinemia is to maintain healthy water quality in the aquarium. As nitrite is a primary cause of the condition, it's essential to maintain a healthy biological filter, which houses beneficial bacteria that convert nitrite into less toxic nitrate. Regular water changes and testing can also help to prevent the build-up of nitrite in the aquarium.
If you suspect that your fish may be suffering from methemoglobinemia, immediate action is necessary to save their lives. The first step is to perform a partial water change to dilute the nitrite concentration in the aquarium. You can also add methylene blue to the water, which can help to reduce the effects of methaemoglobin by converting it back to haemoglobin. However, it's important to note that methylene blue can be toxic to some species of fish, so it should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian or experienced aquarist.
In conclusion, methemoglobinemia is a serious condition caused by high levels of nitrite in aquariums. Preventing the build-up of nitrite in the aquarium through regular maintenance, monitoring, and testing is critical for the health and well-being of fish. If you suspect that your fish may be suffering from methemoglobinemia, immediate action is necessary to save their lives.
The last in the process of the nitrogen cycle in aquariums,
Nitrate is a natural by-product of the nitrogen cycle in aquariums, and while it is less toxic than ammonia or nitrite, high levels of nitrate can still be harmful to fish. In this article, we'll explore the effects of nitrate on fish in aquariums and discuss how to prevent and manage nitrate build-up.
Effects of Nitrate on Fish
High levels of nitrate can cause a range of health issues for fish. Nitrate toxicity can lead to reduced growth, weakened immune systems, and an increased susceptibility to disease. In severe cases, nitrate toxicity can cause lethargy, loss of appetite, and death.
Additionally, high levels of nitrate can lead to an overgrowth of algae, which can further deplete the oxygen supply in the aquarium, leading to further stress for the fish.
Preventing and Managing Nitrate Build-up
The key to preventing nitrate build-up is regular maintenance of the aquarium. Performing routine water changes, vacuuming the substrate, and cleaning the filter are all important steps to reduce the concentration of nitrate in the aquarium. It's important to note that water changes alone may not be sufficient to manage nitrate levels in heavily stocked or heavily fed aquariums.
Another effective strategy for reducing nitrate levels is the use of live plants in the aquarium. Plants absorb nitrates as a nutrient, which can help to reduce the concentration of nitrates in the water. Additionally, adding additional biological filtration to the aquarium can help to maintain a healthy nitrogen cycle and prevent nitrate build-up.
Finally, it's important to avoid overfeeding and overstocking the aquarium, as excess food and waste can contribute to nitrate build-up. A good rule of thumb is to feed your fish only what they can consume within a few minutes and to avoid overcrowding the aquarium.
In conclusion, high levels of nitrate can be harmful to fish in aquariums. By regularly maintaining the aquarium, including performing routine water changes, adding live plants, and avoiding overfeeding and overstocking, you can prevent and manage nitrate build-up, keeping your fish healthy and thriving.
pH – potenz hydrogen for anyone who ever wonders what it stands for.
pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the water in an aquarium, and it plays a critical role in the health and well-being of fish and other aquatic organisms. In this article, we'll explore the importance of pH in aquariums, discuss the ideal pH range for different types of aquariums, and discuss how to test and adjust pH levels in the aquarium.
The Importance of pH in Aquariums
pH plays a critical role in the overall health and well-being of fish and other aquatic organisms. Changes in pH can affect the biological and chemical processes that occur in the aquarium, including the nitrogen cycle, which is essential for the breakdown of waste products. Additionally, pH can impact the effectiveness of medications and other treatments, as well as the ability of fish to absorb oxygen from the water.
Ideal pH Range for Different Types of Aquariums
Different types of aquariums may require different pH ranges to maintain optimal health and well-being for the aquatic organisms living within them. In general, most freshwater aquariums maintain a pH range between 6.0 and 8.0, with some species preferring more acidic or alkaline conditions. For example, South American cichlids and some tropical fish prefer a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0, while African cichlids prefer a higher pH range between 7.8 and 8.6.
In marine aquariums, the ideal pH range is between 7.9 and 8.4, which is slightly more alkaline than most freshwater aquariums. It's important to note that abrupt changes in pH, even within the ideal range, can be stressful for fish and other aquatic organisms.
Testing and Adjusting pH Levels in the Aquarium
It's important to regularly test the pH levels in the aquarium to ensure that they remain within the ideal range. Testing kits are readily available at most pet stores and allow you to measure the pH level accurately.
If the pH level in the aquarium is outside the ideal range, it may be necessary to adjust it. One way to adjust pH is by using chemical additives specifically designed for aquariums, such as pH up or pH down. However, it's essential to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and to make changes slowly, over time, to avoid sudden pH swings that can be harmful to fish.
Another way to adjust pH is by adding buffers, which can help to stabilize the pH levels in the aquarium. Adding live plants to the aquarium can also help to regulate pH levels, as plants absorb carbon dioxide, which can lead to a decrease in pH.
In conclusion, pH is an essential factor in maintaining the health and well-being of fish and other aquatic organisms in aquariums. Regular testing and monitoring of pH levels, along with appropriate adjustments, can help to ensure that your fish thrive in a stable and healthy environment. Understanding the ideal pH range for your specific type of aquarium and the best methods for adjusting pH levels will help you to maintain optimal water conditions and create a thriving aquatic ecosystem.
KH – Carbonate Hardness
Often overlooked by aquarists but we use it in the trade as an early indicator of problems to come with the pH. Most books on basic fish keeping do not cover it but the jist of it:
A low KH can indicate a pH crash to acidic is just around the corner.
KH, or carbonate hardness, is a measure of the amount of bicarbonate and carbonate ions in the water of an aquarium. It plays a crucial role in maintaining stable water conditions for fish and other aquatic organisms in the aquarium.
One of the primary functions of KH is to buffer the pH level of the aquarium water. KH acts as a natural buffer, helping to stabilize the pH level in the aquarium by neutralizing acids that can cause the pH level to drop. In this way, KH acts as a protective measure against sudden and drastic changes in pH level, which can be harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms.
In addition to buffering the pH level, KH also provides a source of essential minerals that fish and other aquatic organisms require for their health and well-being. Carbonate and bicarbonate ions in the KH can provide a source of calcium and magnesium, which are important for the growth and development of fish and other organisms.
Maintaining the appropriate level of KH in the aquarium is crucial for the overall health and well-being of the aquatic inhabitants. A low KH level can result in unstable pH levels, leading to stress and illness in fish. Conversely, a high KH level can lead to excessive levels of mineral build-up in the aquarium, potentially causing harm to fish and other aquatic organisms.
To maintain the ideal KH level in the aquarium, it's essential to regularly test the water and adjust the KH level as needed. Adding a carbonate or bicarbonate-based buffer can help to increase the KH level, while performing a partial water change can help to lower the KH level. The appropriate level of KH can vary depending on the type of fish and other aquatic organisms in the aquarium, as well as other water parameters, such as pH and temperature.
KH plays a crucial role in maintaining a stable and healthy environment for fish and other aquatic organisms in the aquarium. Monitoring and maintaining the appropriate KH level can help to ensure that the water remains stable.
An interesting first point to make which is commonly asked to me – “Shall I add more plants to help increase oxygen?” The answer to that question is no. Aquatic plants respire at night and mostly remove more oxygen than they put in so we get low oxygen levels in the mornings with too many plants. A heavily planted aquarium should be fitted with a monitor to keep an eye on the oxygen levels as the have a fluctuating diurnal rhythm,
Oxygen is a vital component of any healthy aquarium. Fish and other aquatic organisms require oxygen to survive, just like any other living creature. Oxygen is necessary for respiration, which is the process by which fish and other aquatic organisms take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.
In nature, oxygen is usually readily available in the water, thanks to the constant movement and mixing of the water. However, in an aquarium, the water can become stagnant and oxygen levels can decrease if not properly maintained.
There are a few different factors that can affect the oxygen levels in an aquarium. One of the primary factors is temperature. As the water temperature increases, the oxygen carrying capacity of the water decreases. This means that warm water can hold less oxygen than cool water. As a result, it's essential to monitor the water temperature in the aquarium and make adjustments as needed to ensure adequate oxygen levels.
Another factor that can impact oxygen levels in an aquarium is the number and size of fish and other aquatic organisms. As fish and other organisms consume oxygen, the oxygen level in the water can decrease. Overcrowding can also contribute to lower oxygen levels, as there may not be enough oxygen available to meet the needs of all the fish and organisms in the aquarium.
In addition to monitoring water temperature and stocking levels, there are a few things aquarium owners can do to ensure adequate oxygen levels in their tanks. One common method is to use an air pump to increase water movement and oxygenation. Air stones and bubble wands can be used to diffuse air and create bubbles in the water, which helps to increase oxygen exchange at the water's surface.
Regular water changes can also help to maintain oxygen levels in the aquarium. By replacing a portion of the water with fresh, oxygenated water, aquarium owners can ensure that the overall oxygen level in the tank remains adequate for their fish and other organisms.
Maintaining adequate oxygen levels is essential for the health and well-being of fish and other aquatic organisms in the aquarium.
Chapter Two – What type of aquarium?
First you need to plan what kind of animals you wish to keep, if you have your heart set on killifish or bettas then you can have a smaller or ‘nano’ aquarium. Equally if you have plans to keep large catfish then you will need a tropical pond!
There are many different types of fish tanks available to aquarium enthusiasts, each with its own unique features and benefits. Here are some of the most common types of fish tanks:
Glass aquariums: Glass aquariums are perhaps the most common type of fish tank. They are made of tempered glass, which is strong and durable, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Glass tanks are ideal for freshwater and saltwater aquariums, and they are often the most affordable option.
Acrylic aquariums: Acrylic aquariums are similar to glass aquariums, but they are made of a lightweight and shatter-resistant material called acrylic. Acrylic tanks are known for their clarity, and they are often used for large aquariums or those with curved or custom shapes.
Bow-front aquariums: Bow-front aquariums are a type of glass or acrylic tank that has a curved front panel. The curved shape provides a unique viewing angle, and it can make the aquarium appear larger than it actually is.
BiOrb aquariums: BiOrb aquariums are a type of acrylic tank that feature a spherical shape and a built-in filtration system. They are easy to set up and maintain, and they are popular for their modern and sleek design.
Wall-mounted aquariums: Wall-mounted aquariums are designed to be hung on a wall like a piece of art. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they can be a great option for those who want to save space or create a unique visual display.
Nano aquariums: Nano aquariums are small tanks that are typically less than 10 gallons in size. They are ideal for those who want to keep a small number of fish or aquatic plants, and they can be a great way to add a touch of nature to a small space.
Paludariums: Paludariums are a type of tank that features both a water and land area. They are designed to simulate a natural habitat for aquatic and semi-aquatic animals, such as frogs, turtles, and aquatic plants.
There are many different types of fish tanks available to aquarium enthusiasts, each with its own unique features and benefits. When choosing a tank, it's important to consider your budget, the type of fish or organisms you want to keep, and the overall look and feel you want to achieve.
Glass aquariums have several advantages that make them a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts. Here are some of the key advantages of glass aquariums:
Durability: Glass aquariums are made from tempered glass, which is strong and durable. They can withstand the weight of the water and the decorations inside the tank, and they are less likely to scratch or crack.
Clarity: Glass is known for its clarity, and this makes it an ideal material for aquariums. The glass walls of the tank allow for a clear view of the fish and other organisms inside, without any distortion.
Affordable: Glass aquariums are often more affordable than other types of tanks, such as acrylic or custom-built tanks. They are widely available and come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit different needs and budgets.
Easy to clean: Glass aquariums are easy to clean and maintain. They are less likely to scratch, which means that algae and other debris can be easily removed with a simple cleaning tool, such as a scraper or magnet.
Resistant to discolouration: Unlike some other materials, glass is not prone to discolouration over time. This means that the walls of the tank will remain clear and transparent for years to come, providing a clear view of the fish and other organisms inside.
Availability: Glass aquariums are widely available, and there are many manufacturers and retailers that specialize in glass aquariums. This means that they can be purchased easily and quickly, and replacement parts and accessories are readily available.
Acrylic aquariums have several advantages over other types of aquariums, my company only really uses acrylic in applications where we need a particularly deep tank, public aquarium or a specialist shape. Here are some of the key advantages of acrylic aquariums:
Lightweight: Acrylic is much lighter than glass, which makes it easier to move and set up an acrylic aquarium. This is especially important for larger tanks, which can be very heavy when filled with water and decorations.
Shatter-resistant: Acrylic is much less likely to shatter than glass, making it a safer option for households with children or pets. Even if an acrylic tank does break, it is less likely to cause damage or injury than a glass tank.
Clarity: High-quality acrylic aquariums are known for their clarity, which is comparable to that of glass. The clear walls of the tank allow for a clear view of the fish and other organisms inside, without any distortion.
Customizable: Acrylic is a versatile material that can be easily cut and shaped into custom designs. This means that acrylic aquariums can be made to fit specific spaces or to accommodate unique design features, such as curved or rounded corners.
Insulation: Acrylic is a better insulator than glass, which means that it can help to maintain a more stable water temperature in the aquarium. This can be especially beneficial for tropical fish and other organisms that require a specific temperature range.
Resistance to breakage: Acrylic is more resistant to breakage than glass, making it a good option for use in outdoor or high-traffic areas. It is also less likely to scratch or chip, which can help to maintain the clarity of the tank walls over time.
Chapter 3 – Now you have chosen your tank – what next?
The average aquarium is between 600mm (about 2 foot) 60litre to 180litre 900mm wide tank (about 3 foot).
Most modern tanks come with lighting, heaters and a filter.
Get the tank home – setup the stand or place on a level surface, make sure you follow the manufactures guide as to whether they need polystyrene under them or if they have a frame which can adequately support it. This is important because if you get it the wrong way round it could cause the tank to split.
Depending on the fish species will depend on the substrate you choose for the base,
Some choose sand, gravel or bare base –
Aquarium substrates are materials that are placed at the bottom of the tank and provide a foundation for the aquarium environment. There are several different types of substrates available for aquariums, each with its own unique features and benefits. Here are some of the most popular types of aquarium substrates:
Gravel: Gravel is a common aquarium substrate that is available in a variety of colours and sizes. It provides a natural look and feel to the aquarium and can help to anchor plants in the substrate. Gravel also promotes beneficial bacterial growth and can help to maintain a healthy aquarium environment.
Sand: Sand is another popular aquarium substrate that provides a natural look and feel to the aquarium. It is available in a variety of colours and grain sizes, and is ideal for bottom-dwelling fish that require a soft substrate. Sand can also help to anchor plants and provides a natural-looking environment for aquatic organisms.
Crushed coral: Crushed coral is a popular substrate for marine aquariums. It helps to maintain a stable pH level in the water, and provides a natural-looking environment for marine organisms.
Clay: Clay substrates are a relatively new type of substrate that is becoming increasingly popular in the aquarium hobby. They are made from baked clay and are designed to provide a natural look and feel to the aquarium. Clay substrates also promote beneficial bacterial growth and can help to maintain a healthy aquarium environment.
Soil: Soil substrates are another popular option for planted aquariums. They are rich in nutrients and can provide a fertile foundation for plant growth. Soil substrates can also help to maintain a stable pH level in the water and promote beneficial bacterial growth.
Aquatic plant substrates: Aquatic plant substrates are specially designed substrates that are optimized for plant growth. They are rich in nutrients and promote the healthy growth of aquatic plants. They also provide a natural-looking environment for aquatic organisms.
TIP – even if the bag of substrate says it has been washed, wash it again! Do it in small sections in multiple buckets until the water runs clear as you fill and empty the buckets.
There are different ways to fill the tank –
Tap water, RO water, Shop bought water.
For the new fish keeper – If you can budget for it and your local shop sells pre made water for aquariums then go for that. Otherwise dechlorinated tap water will be your next best this.
RO water is probably not necessary for the kind of fish we are discussing in here, but as you advance you can make your own water using an RO unit which will be more perfect than tap water but will require remineralisation in order for it to be used in the aquarium.
Using reverse osmosis (RO) water in an aquarium can offer several benefits for both the fish and the overall health of the tank. RO water is purified through a process of removing impurities and minerals, resulting in a high-quality water source that is free from contaminants. Here are some of the benefits of using RO water in an aquarium:
Consistent Water Quality: RO water provides consistent water quality that is free from impurities and minerals that may cause fluctuations in pH levels, hardness, and other water parameters. This consistency can help to create a stable environment for the fish, which can reduce stress and improve overall health.
Control over Water Parameters: By using RO water as a base, it becomes easier to maintain specific water parameters, such as pH, hardness, and mineral content. This is particularly beneficial for aquariums that require precise water conditions, such as planted tanks or aquariums housing sensitive species.
Prevent Algae and Bacteria Growth: Impurities and minerals in tap water can promote the growth of algae and bacteria in an aquarium. Using RO water can help to reduce these impurities, which can prevent unwanted algae and bacterial growth in the tank.
Healthier Fish: The use of RO water in an aquarium can improve the overall health of the fish by reducing the presence of toxins and other harmful substances in the water. This can help to prevent diseases and other health problems in the fish.
Better Aquatic Plant Growth: RO water is free from minerals that can cause hard water issues, which can lead to poor plant growth. By using RO water, it becomes easier to maintain ideal water conditions for the plants, which can result in better growth and overall health.
While using RO water in an aquarium can provide numerous benefits, it is important to note that it is not necessary for all aquariums. Before using RO water, it is important to test the water parameters in the aquarium and understand the specific needs of the fish and plants. In some cases, the use of RO water may not be necessary or may require supplementation to ensure the necessary mineral content for the fish and plants.
Tap water can contain various chemicals and compounds that can be harmful to fish and other aquatic life in a fish tank, such as chlorine, chloramine, heavy metals, and high levels of dissolved solids. It is important to prepare tap water before adding it to a fish tank to ensure a healthy environment for the fish.
Here are the steps to prepare tap water for a fish tank:
Dechlorinate the water: Tap water is often treated with chlorine or chloramine to kill harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. Chlorine and chloramine can be toxic to fish, so it is important to remove them before adding the water to the tank. Use a dechlorinator that is specifically designed for aquarium use, which is available in most pet stores.
Check the pH and hardness levels: The pH and hardness levels of tap water can vary depending on the area where it is sourced. It is important to check the levels and adjust them if necessary to match the needs of the fish species in the tank. This can be done using aquarium test kits and pH or hardness buffers.
Remove any heavy metals: Tap water can contain heavy metals such as copper and lead that can be harmful to fish. Use a water conditioner that can remove heavy metals from the water.
Add beneficial bacteria: Adding beneficial bacteria to the water can help establish a healthy bacterial balance in the tank, which is important for maintaining water quality and keeping the fish healthy. This can be done by adding a bacterial supplement to the water.
Allow the water to age: It is a good idea to let the water age for a few days before adding it to the tank. This allows any remaining chemicals to evaporate and the water to reach room temperature, which can help prevent shock to the fish.
By following these steps, tap water can be prepared for a fish tank and provide a healthy environment for the fish and other aquatic life.
Once filled the heater needs to be switched on – most if not all of you will either have a submersible heater in the tank or the sump (a tank under the tank for equipment and filtration).
An aquarium heater is an essential piece of equipment for maintaining a stable water temperature in your aquarium. It works by using a heating element that is placed in the water and regulated by a thermostat. There are several reasons why an aquarium heater is important:
Temperature regulation: Most tropical fish require a consistent water temperature in order to thrive. An aquarium heater helps to maintain a stable temperature range, which can prevent stress, illness, and even death in your fish.
Seasonal changes: If you live in an area with seasonal temperature changes, an aquarium heater can help to maintain a consistent water temperature for your fish, even during cold weather.
Species-specific needs: Some fish, such as bettas and discus, require a specific temperature range in order to thrive. An aquarium heater can help to maintain the necessary temperature range for these and other temperature-sensitive species.
Breeding: If you plan to breed your fish, an aquarium heater can be essential for creating the ideal conditions for breeding and hatching.
When selecting an aquarium heater, it's important to choose one that is appropriate for the size of your tank and the needs of your fish. It's also important to ensure that the heater is properly installed and regulated to prevent overheating or underheating of the water. Many aquarium heaters come with safety features such as automatic shut-off and temperature regulation to help prevent accidents and maintain a stable environment for your fish.
In our warmwater aquaculture systems on fish farms or public aquariums we tend to use inline heaters but these are too industrial for most home aquariums.
Again – as with water quality this is another minefield which could be a separate book – I call it the cause and solution to all of aquarium problems. Whilst necessary to maintain water quality, having the wrong filter system can cause diseases and poor water quality.
Aquarium filtration is the process of removing waste, debris, and toxins from the water in an aquarium, typically by using a filter system. This is an essential aspect of maintaining a healthy aquarium environment for fish, plants, and other aquatic life.
Aquarium filters work by circulating water through various media, such as sponges, bio-balls, or filter floss, which trap and remove impurities from the water. There are three types of filtration: mechanical, biological, and chemical.
Mechanical filtration is the process of physically removing particles and debris from the water. This type of filtration is typically the first stage in a filtration system and is often achieved using a sponge or filter pad that traps large particles of debris.
Biological filtration relies on beneficial bacteria to break down harmful compounds in the water, such as ammonia and nitrite, which are produced by fish waste and uneaten food. The bacteria convert these compounds into less harmful nitrate, which can then be removed through water changes. Biological filtration typically involves the use of bio-media, which provides a surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow.
Chemical filtration is the use of chemical media, such as activated carbon or zeolite, to remove impurities from the water. These materials can absorb or remove chemicals and other contaminants that may not be removed by other forms of filtration.
All three types of filtration can be used in combination to provide comprehensive water filtration in an aquarium. The choice of filtration system and media will depend on the size and type of the aquarium, the type of fish and plants, and the water parameters.
Overall, proper aquarium filtration is essential for maintaining a healthy and thriving aquatic environment. It helps to remove waste, toxins, and other harmful compounds from the water, which can improve water quality and reduce stress and disease in fish and other aquatic life.
I have had many clients in the past think they are doing the eco system a favour by adding too much filtration to a system.
Over filtering a fish tank can have several negative effects on the aquarium and its inhabitants. Here are some of the harmful effects of over filtering a fish tank:
Loss of Beneficial Bacteria: Over filtering a fish tank can lead to a loss of beneficial bacteria, which play a crucial role in the nitrogen cycle that helps to break down waste in the water. If the filter is too powerful or the filter media is replaced too frequently, it can remove too many beneficial bacteria, leading to a cycle that is not fully established or one that is disrupted, leading to an accumulation of toxins in the water.
Stressful Environment: Fish can become stressed in an environment that is over filtered. This is because an overly powerful filter can cause strong water currents and waves, which can be too intense for the fish, making them struggle to swim and causing them to become fatigued.
Oxygen Depletion: Over filtering a fish tank can lead to a decrease in the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. This happens when the filter is too strong or the water is circulated too much, which can cause the oxygen to be depleted before the fish have a chance to use it.
Poor Water Quality: Over filtering can lead to rapid water flow, which can prevent particles from settling and cause them to remain suspended in the water. This can result in a cloudy, murky appearance and poor water quality, which can harm the fish and other aquatic life.
There are several types of aquarium filters that can be used to keep the aquarium water clean and clear. Here are some of the most common types:
Hang-On-Back (HOB) Filters: These filters hang on the back of the aquarium and draw water up through a siphon tube, then pass it through a filter cartridge before returning it to the tank. HOB filters are easy to install and maintain and are suitable for small to medium-sized aquariums.
Canister Filters: Canister filters are an external filtration system that typically sits beneath the aquarium. They use a pump to draw water out of the tank and pass it through a series of filter media inside the canister before returning it to the aquarium. Canister filters are ideal for larger aquariums and can be more effective than HOB filters. This would be my number one recommendation for the home aquarium – they are compact and are more forgiving of higher stock densities and over feeding than internal filters – not that having one of these is a license to over stock or overfeed.
Internal Filters: Internal filters sit inside the aquarium and are powered by an electric motor. They draw water in through an intake tube, pass it through a filter media, and then return it to the aquarium. Internal filters are suitable for small aquariums or for use as a supplemental filter in larger aquariums.
Sponge Filters: Sponge filters are simple filters that use a sponge-like material to trap debris and waste. They are ideal for small aquariums or as a supplemental filter in larger aquariums. They are easy to maintain and can be used as a biological or mechanical filter.
Power Filters: Power filters are similar to HOB filters but are more powerful and can filter a larger volume of water. They typically use a filter cartridge and are suitable for medium to large-sized aquariums.
Overall, the choice of aquarium filter will depend on the size of the aquarium, the type of aquatic life, and the desired level of filtration. It is important to choose the right filter and to maintain it properly to keep the aquarium water clean and healthy for the fish and other aquatic life.
Your aquarium most probably came with its own light, if however you have opted for a custom tank then you will need to choose lights. I would recommend LED’s with a slightly redder spectrum for a freshwater tropical tank.
There are several types of aquarium lighting available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the most common types:
Fluorescent Lighting: This type of lighting is more energy-efficient than incandescent lighting and produces less heat. It is also available in a wide range of colours and spectrums, making it suitable for a variety of aquatic plants and fish. Fluorescent lighting is widely used in aquariums and is generally an affordable option.
LED Lighting: LED lighting is rapidly gaining in popularity as a preferred option for aquarium lighting. It is extremely energy-efficient, long-lasting, and can produce a wide range of colours and spectrums. LED lighting is also more expensive than other types of lighting, but the long-term cost savings in terms of energy usage and bulb replacement can make up for the initial cost.
Metal Halide Lighting: This type of lighting is very powerful and produces a lot of heat and light. It is generally only used in large aquariums or in aquariums with high light requirements, such as those containing reef tanks with corals. Metal halide lighting is expensive and can be difficult to maintain, but can produce excellent results when used properly.
Compact Fluorescent Lighting: This is a type of fluorescent lighting that uses a compact bulb that is similar in size to an incandescent bulb. It is more energy-efficient than incandescent lighting and produces less heat, making it a good choice for small to medium-sized aquariums.
The choice of aquarium lighting will depend on the type of aquatic life in the tank, the desired level of light, and the budget available. It is important to choose the right type of lighting and to use it properly to ensure the health and well-being of the fish and other aquatic life.
Top of Form
Now you have your tank setup and full of water – it needs what we call “aquascaping”.
There is an excellent series of books by Takeshi Amano on aquascaping if you would like some inspiration check them out.
What species are you keeping? There is not point in having a beautifully manicured planted aquarium and adding Oscar fish to it, they will destroy the plants by digging them up. Equally if you are keeping larger fish with more boisterous attitudes then you would choose stones and large pieces of bog wood.
Aquascaping is the art and practice of designing and arranging aquatic plants, rocks, stones, wood, and other decor in a fish tank to create a visually appealing underwater landscape. It involves careful planning and a creative approach to create a natural-looking habitat for fish, invertebrates, and other aquatic organisms.
Aquascaping can range from a simple arrangement of a few plants to complex and intricate designs with multiple layers, hardscape elements, and carefully chosen plant species. The goal of aquascaping is to create a balanced and harmonious ecosystem within the aquarium, with healthy and thriving plants, fish, and other aquatic life.
There are several different styles of aquascaping, each with its own unique characteristics and design principles. Some of the most popular styles include:
Nature aquarium style: This style is based on the idea of creating a miniature natural ecosystem within the aquarium. It often features a lush and densely planted arrangement of different plant species, with natural-looking hardscape elements such as rocks and wood.
Dutch style: This style is characterized by a high-contrast arrangement of different plant species in a symmetrical layout. It often features a wide variety of plant species with different colours and textures.
Iwagumi style: This style focuses on the arrangement of rocks and stones to create a minimalist and elegant landscape. It often features a simple layout with few plant species, with the rocks and stones serving as the main focal point.
Biotope aquarium: This style aims to replicate a specific natural habitat or ecosystem within the aquarium. It often features a carefully selected combination of plants, rocks, and fish that are native to a particular region or environment.
Aquascaping is a popular hobby among aquarium enthusiasts and requires careful planning, research, and attention to detail. It involves creating a balanced and sustainable environment within the aquarium, which can be both visually stunning and beneficial for the aquatic life it supports.
Cover the back of the aquarium with a black background is what I recommend, other colours or those planted backings can look tacky. You can buy some pre formed backing panels which look like rocks, these are good but the downside is they can get covered in algae and be hard to clean.
How long before you can add fish?
A colleague of mine once said “you have to have the patience of job to look at an aquarium with no fish in it”.
Some people say a week, others do a fishless cycle, sometimes if we are doing a trade show or a temporary display we cheat and bring in mature water and filter media so we can add fish straight away.
My personal thoughts are the reason you let the tank sit is so we can check mostly for faulty equipment, we are making sure the pump is sound and the temperature is stable.
I use a small amount of hardy fish to start an aquarium cycle, in the average fish tank it would be a case of adding say six small hardy fish which can tolerate swings in poor water quality.
FEED AS LITTLE AS THEY NEED – ignore what most food packages say, they are trying to get you to feed more so you run out of food and buy more!
Fish barely need any food to survive, so as the nitrogen cycle is kicking off you want to let the nitrogenous wastes (ammonia, nitrite and nitrate) build up slowly over time.
When a new aquarium is set up, it is essentially a sterile environment. There is no bacteria present in the water or in the substrate, which is necessary to break down waste produced by fish. These beneficial bacteria convert harmful ammonia produced by fish waste into less harmful nitrite, and then convert nitrite into nitrate, which can be removed by water changes.
During the cycling process, a source of ammonia is introduced into the aquarium, which can come from fish food, pure ammonia, or live fish. The ammonia is then converted into nitrite and then into nitrate as the beneficial bacteria establish in the aquarium.
It is important to monitor water parameters during the cycling process, including ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, as well as pH and temperature. This will allow you to track the progress of the cycle and ensure that the conditions are safe for fish before they are added.
It typically takes several weeks for the cycling process to complete, but the exact time frame can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the size of the aquarium, the type and amount of beneficial bacteria present, and the source of the ammonia.
By allowing an aquarium to cycle before adding fish, you can establish a healthy and stable environment for your aquatic pets, which can reduce stress and improve their overall health and well-being.
There are a lot of products on the market aimed at boosting bacteria in the filter – these can help but I prefer the traditional method of adding fish an NOT OVER FEEDING THEM!!!
Introducing your fish to the tank
Introducing new fish to an aquarium can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it's important to do it properly to ensure the health and safety of both the new fish and the existing fish in the aquarium. Here are some steps to follow when introducing new fish to an aquarium:
Quarantine the new fish: Before introducing the new fish to the main aquarium, it's important to quarantine them in a separate tank for a few weeks. This will help to ensure that they are free from disease and parasites and can also help them acclimate to a new environment.
Acclimate the new fish: Once the quarantine period is over, it's important to acclimate the new fish to the main aquarium gradually. Start by floating the bag or container that the new fish is in on the surface of the aquarium water for about 15 minutes to equalize the temperature. Then, gradually add small amounts of aquarium water to the bag or container over the next hour or so to help the new fish adjust to the water chemistry.
Release the new fish: Once the new fish has been acclimated, it's time to release it into the main aquarium. Turn off the aquarium lights and dim the room lights to help reduce stress on the new fish. Open the bag or container and let the new fish swim out on its own.
Observe the new fish: Watch the new fish closely for the first few hours to make sure it is adapting well to the new environment and is not being bullied or harassed by the existing fish.
Monitor the water quality: Introducing new fish to an aquarium can affect the water chemistry, so it's important to monitor the water quality closely for the first few days to ensure that ammonia and nitrite levels are under control.
By following these steps, you can help ensure a smooth and successful introduction of new fish to your aquarium.
When setting up a new aquarium, it is important to choose hardy fish species that can tolerate the fluctuations in water parameters that may occur during the initial cycling process. Some examples of hardy tropical fish species that are suitable for a new tank include:
Neon Tetras: These small, colourful fish are popular for their vibrant blue and red colours, and they are easy to care for.
Zebra Danios: These active, hardy fish are ideal for new tanks and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.
Platies: These peaceful and colourful fish are easy to care for and are a great addition to a new tank.
Guppies: These colourful fish are popular for their bright colours and hardy nature, making them an ideal choice for new aquariums. I nearly did not add these to the list – in breeding has made guppies less tolerant over the years to water quality changes.
Corydoras Catfish: These small, bottom-dwelling fish are peaceful and easy to care for, and they can help keep the substrate clean.
It is important to note that even hardy fish species still require proper care and attention, including regular water changes and appropriate feeding. It is also important to avoid overstocking the aquarium, as this can lead to poor water quality and stress for the fish.
When choosing fish for a new tank, it is always a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable fish store employee or experienced hobbyist to ensure that the chosen species are suitable for your specific setup and that their needs are met.
Testing Water Quality
You can over do most things in the aquarium hobby, too much food, too many water changes, too many fish etc. But you cannot over test the water. The annoying thing about aquariums is they get easier as time goes on, new aquariums are tricky as the bacteria has not established as swings in water quality detrimental to fish health are more common.
I feel the perfect tank cycle takes about 4 – 6 weeks after fish are introduced. The ammonia will gently spike, come back down as nitrite gradually comes up and then drops back to nitrate.
Most good fish shops will offer water quality testing as part of their services so if you do not have the time or inclination to become a basic water quality analyser for now then bring samples into the shop.
TIP: Always ask a shop before you bring water into them, some shops are more careful than others and might have strong bio security measures in place to prevent the transfer of diseases.
At first feeding your fish on flake food once a day will suffice, try and feed in the same place and at the same time, morning or evening – you will notice it will not take long for the fish to remember when and where they are fed – far from the two second memory we are led to believe.
COMMON FISH DISEASES
Preventing fish disease is key, if you’re looking at the fish in the tank and they are mixed with other species – ay you see a lovely little kribensis which looks healthy but is in a tank with neon tetras with white spot – it would be foolhardy to purchase any fish from this tank and white spot could be in a microscopic stage.
Equally if you see reddening on the fish, blood streaks or tail rot then best not to buy from that tank.
NOTE: All fish shops no matter how good they are will experience fish health issues from time to time, if you go into a shop once and notice a tank of struggling fish it does not necessarily mean they are a bad shop – give them a second chance because they might have just had a delivery and there was an issue with the courier not getting the fish to them on time.
Some shops have the luxury of a quarantine system and thus diseased fish can be hidden from public view and give the impression all the fish are healthy.
Fish disease are mostly in four categories:
Parasites, Bacteria, Virus and Fungal.
Fish parasites are organisms that live on or inside fish and can cause a variety of health problems. Parasites can infect both freshwater and saltwater fish, and they can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Some common fish parasites include:
Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (Ich) - A common parasite that causes white spots on the skin and gills of fish. Ich can be treated with medication and by raising the temperature of the water.
Gyrodactylus - A microscopic parasite that attaches to the skin and fins of fish and can cause irritation, redness, and tissue damage. Gyrodactylus can be treated with medication and good tank maintenance.
Flukes - Flatworms that can attach to the gills, skin, or internal organs of fish and cause respiratory problems, weight loss, and other health issues. Flukes can be treated with medication and good tank maintenance.
Anchor worm - A crustacean that burrows into the skin of fish and can cause inflammation and tissue damage. Anchor worms can be removed manually or with medication.
Fish lice - Small crustaceans that attach to the skin of fish and can cause irritation and tissue damage. Fish lice can be removed manually or with medication.
Preventing fish parasites involves maintaining good water quality, quarantining new fish before adding them to the tank, and avoiding overfeeding and overcrowding. It is also important to carefully inspect fish for signs of parasites before adding them to the tank. If you suspect that your fish have a parasite, it is important to seek advice from an aquatic animal health specialist, who can recommend appropriate treatment options.
Bacterial infections are a common problem in aquarium fish. They can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor water quality, overcrowding, stress, and injury. Mostly caused by not cleaning the filter out enough. We will come onto this in the maintenance section.
Some common bacterial infections in aquarium fish include:
Columnaris disease: This is a bacterial infection that can affect both freshwater and saltwater fish. It is characterized by white or greyish patches on the fish's body, fins, or mouth.
Aeromonas infection: This is a bacterial infection that can cause fin and tail rot, as well as ulcers on the fish's body. It is often caused by poor water quality or overcrowding.
Pseudomonas infection: This is a bacterial infection that can cause red sores on the fish's body, as well as fin and tail rot.
Mycobacteriosis: This is a bacterial infection that can be difficult to diagnose, as it can mimic other diseases. It can cause weight loss, lethargy, and lesions on the fish's body.
To prevent bacterial infections in aquarium fish, it is important to maintain good water quality by performing regular water changes, avoiding overfeeding, and keeping the aquarium clean. It is also important to avoid overcrowding and to quarantine new fish before adding them to the main aquarium. If a bacterial infection is suspected, it is important to isolate the affected fish and seek veterinary advice. Treatment may involve antibiotics or other medications, as well as improving the fish's environment to boost their immune system.
White spot Disease
also known as ich or ick, is a common and highly contagious fish disease that affects both freshwater and saltwater fish. It is caused by the parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, which can infect fish when their immune systems are weakened by stress, poor water quality, or other factors.
Symptoms of white spot disease include the appearance of small, white spots on the fish's skin, fins, and gills. The fish may also become lethargic, lose their appetite, and exhibit rapid breathing or gasping for air. As the disease progresses, the white spots may become more numerous and larger, and the fish may develop other secondary infections.
Fortunately, white spot disease can be treated if caught early. One effective treatment involves raising the temperature of the aquarium to 86°F (30°C) for several days, which speeds up the lifecycle of the parasite and can help to kill it off faster during treatment – of medications such as formalin, but these should be used with caution and in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, as they can be harmful to fish if not used correctly. Most shops sell specific treatments for white spot. Make sure the treatment is safe for the species you have – some fish will not tolerate certain chemicals.
Preventing white spot disease in the first place is the best approach. This can be done by maintaining good water quality in the aquarium, avoiding overcrowding and stress, and quarantining new fish before introducing them to the main aquarium. It is also important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet for your fish, and to avoid overfeeding, as excess food can contribute to poor water quality and stress.
By being aware of the symptoms of white spot disease and taking prompt action to treat the disease or prevent it from occurring, you can help keep your fish healthy and thriving in your aquarium.
Velvet disease, also known as Gold Dust Disease, is a common parasitic infection in tropical fish. It is caused by a microscopic parasite, Oodinium pillularis, and can affect a variety of freshwater and saltwater fish species. Some common symptoms of velvet disease in tropical fish include:
Fine golden or rust-coloured dusting on the skin or fins of the fish
Loss of appetite
Rapid breathing or gasping at the surface of the water
Flashing or rubbing against objects in the aquarium
To treat velvet disease in tropical fish, it is important to act quickly. The following steps can help:
Quarantine the infected fish: Remove the infected fish from the main aquarium and place it in a quarantine tank to prevent the disease from spreading to other fish.
Raise the temperature: Velvet disease thrives in cooler water temperatures, so raising the temperature of the aquarium to 82-86°F can help to kill the parasites.
Medication: There are several medications available that can be used to treat velvet disease in tropical fish, including copper-based medications, malachite green, and formalin.
Water changes: Frequent water changes can help to remove excess parasites and waste from the aquarium, which can help to improve water quality and reduce stress on the fish.
Monitor the fish: Watch the infected fish closely to ensure that it is recovering and showing signs of improvement. If the fish does not improve, it may be necessary to seek additional treatment or veterinary care.
Prevention is key in the fight against velvet disease in tropical fish. Maintaining good water quality, avoiding overfeeding, and keeping stress levels low can help to prevent the disease from occurring in the first place.
Bacterial infections are a common problem in tropical fish tanks. There are many different types of bacteria that can cause infections in fish, and the symptoms can vary depending on the type of bacteria and the severity of the infection.
Some common signs of bacterial infections in fish include:
White or grey patches on the skin
Redness or inflammation around the fins or gills
Loss of appetite or weight loss
Lethargy or unusual behaviour
Difficulty swimming or floating
Rapid breathing or gasping for air
Cloudy or bulging eyes
To prevent bacterial infections in your tropical fish tank, it's important to maintain good water quality, provide a healthy diet, and avoid overcrowding the tank. It's also a good idea to quarantine new fish before introducing them to your main tank, to prevent the spread of any diseases they may be carrying.
If you suspect your fish have a bacterial infection, it's important to take action quickly to prevent the infection from spreading to other fish in the tank. Treatment options may include antibiotics or other medications, as well as adjustments to the tank's water chemistry or filtration system. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove the infected fish from the tank to prevent the spread of the infection.
A nasty bacterial infection you can get in the aquarium is also what we call ‘zoonotic’ which is the transference of disease from animal to human. If you have any signs in your aquarium of fish TB of mycobacterium then wear gloves if you have to put your hand in the tank or preferably do not put your hand in the tank.
Mycobacterium is a type of bacteria that can infect fish and cause a disease known as fish tuberculosis or mycobacteriosis. This disease can affect both freshwater and saltwater fish, and it is often chronic and difficult to treat.
The symptoms of mycobacteriosis in fish can vary depending on the species of fish and the severity of the infection, but they often include:
Weight loss and loss of appetite
Lethargy or unusual behaviour
Skin discolouration or lesions
Swollen abdomen or other body parts
Difficulty swimming or floating
Fin rot or other fin damage
Mycobacterium can be transmitted to fish through contaminated water or by contact with infected fish or equipment. Fish that are stressed or have weakened immune systems are more susceptible to infection.
Unfortunately, there is no easy cure for mycobacteriosis, and infected fish often have to be euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease to other fish in the tank. A vet could prescribe antibiotics for the fish but would need a positive result.
If you suspect that your fish may have mycobacteriosis, it is important to seek advice from a veterinarian or an aquatic animal health specialist, who may recommend testing and quarantine measures to prevent the spread of the disease. In addition, maintaining good water quality and practicing good aquarium hygiene can help reduce the risk of mycobacterium infection in fish.
Fish tuberculosis, also known as mycobacteriosis, is a disease that is caused by Mycobacterium marinum, a type of bacteria commonly found in freshwater and saltwater fish. Although the bacteria can cause infections in humans, the infection is rare and usually not serious.
The bacteria can enter the human body through cuts, abrasions, or other wounds, and it can cause a skin infection or a deeper infection that affects the bones or joints. Symptoms of Mycobacterium marinum infection in humans may include redness and swelling around the affected area, along with pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving the affected limb. The symptoms may take several weeks or even months to appear.
Mycobacterium marinum is not highly infectious and is not transmitted from person to person. The risk of infection can be reduced by wearing gloves and other protective equipment when handling fish or cleaning fish tanks. It is also important to properly clean and disinfect any wounds that may come into contact with aquarium water.
If you suspect that you may have a Mycobacterium marinum infection, it is important to seek medical attention. Treatment typically involves a course of antibiotics over several months, and in some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove infected tissue.
Fungal infections in fish
Quite often a secondary infection from a bacterial infection. Fungus only grows on necrotic tissue which has been killed off by a bacterial infection.
Fungal infections are a common problem in fish tanks and can affect both freshwater and saltwater fish. Fungal infections are usually caused by a combination of poor water quality and a weakened immune system in the fish.
The most common symptom of a fungal infection is the development of white or greyish patches on the fish's skin, fins, or eyes. These patches may be fuzzy or cotton-like in appearance, and the affected area may be swollen or red. The fish may also become lethargic and lose their appetite, and in severe cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body and cause organ damage.
To treat a fungal infection, it is important to identify and address the underlying cause of the problem. This often means improving water quality through regular water changes and filtration, and providing a balanced and nutritious diet for your fish. Additionally, there are several medications that can be used to treat fungal infections, such as antifungal medications and antibiotics. These medications are usually available in pet stores or from a veterinarian.
Prevention is the best way to avoid fungal infections in your fish tank. This means maintaining good water quality, avoiding overcrowding and stress, and quarantining new fish before adding them to the main aquarium. Regular water changes, proper filtration, and keeping the tank clean can also help prevent fungal infections.
In summary, fungal infections are a common problem in fish tanks that can be caused by poor water quality and a weakened immune system in the fish. Identifying and addressing the underlying cause of the problem, along with the use of appropriate medication, can help to treat the infection. Prevention is the best approach, and maintaining good water quality and avoiding stress can help keep your fish healthy and free from fungal infections.
Preventing viral infections in fish tanks involves maintaining good water quality, avoiding overcrowding, and ensuring that new fish are quarantined before being added to the tank. If a viral infection is suspected, infected fish should be isolated and veterinary advice should be sought. Unfortunately, there are often no specific treatments for viral infections, and prevention is the best approach.
General Maintenance of Aquariums
Regular maintenance is essential to keep your home aquarium clean, healthy, and looking its best. Here are some general maintenance tasks you should perform on a regular basis:
Water changes: Regular water changes are important to remove excess waste, uneaten food, and other debris from the aquarium. Depending on the size of your tank and the number of fish, you may need to perform partial water changes weekly or bi-weekly.
Filter cleaning: The filter is the heart of your aquarium's filtration system, so it's important to keep it clean and functioning properly. You should clean or replace the filter media, depending on the type of filter you have, according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Gravel vacuuming: Using a gravel vacuum, siphon out any debris that has accumulated on the bottom of the tank. This will help prevent the build-up of harmful waste materials in the aquarium.
Algae removal: Algae can be unsightly and can also consume nutrients that your fish need. Regularly scrape or scrub algae from the glass and other surfaces in the aquarium. If algae is particularly stubborn, you can use an algae scraper or chemical treatments, but be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
Equipment maintenance: Regularly check the equipment in your aquarium, including the heater, thermometer, and lighting, to make sure they are functioning properly. Replace any equipment that is not working properly.
Fish health: Observe your fish regularly for any signs of illness or distress, such as discolouration, lethargy, or loss of appetite. If you notice any issues, consult with a veterinarian who specializes in aquatic animals.
By performing these regular maintenance tasks, you can help ensure that your home aquarium stays healthy and beautiful for both you and your fish to enjoy.
How to clean aquarium filter sponges
Aquarium sponges are an essential part of your aquarium's filtration system, and it's important to keep them clean to ensure they are functioning properly. Here are some steps to follow to wash your aquarium sponge:
Turn off the filter: Before removing the sponge, turn off the filter to prevent water from flowing through it.
Remove the sponge: Carefully remove the sponge from the filter and place it in a clean container of aquarium water. Do not use tap water, as it may contain chlorine or other chemicals that could harm your fish.
Squeeze out the sponge: Using your hands, gently squeeze the sponge to remove any excess debris and waste. Be careful not to squeeze too hard, as this can damage the sponge.
Rinse the sponge: Rinse the sponge thoroughly in the container of aquarium water to remove any remaining debris.
Soak the sponge: To further clean the sponge, you can soak it in a bucket of aquarium water mixed with a small amount of aquarium-safe cleaner, such as bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Follow the instructions on the cleaner carefully and rinse the sponge thoroughly afterwards.
Replace the sponge: Once the sponge is clean, place it back in the filter and turn it back on.
It's important to clean your aquarium sponge regularly to prevent a build-up of waste and debris, which can harm your fish and reduce the effectiveness of the filtration system. Depending on the size of your aquarium and the number of fish, you may need to clean your sponge every week or two.
Cleaning biological media if you have it
Biological media, such as ceramic rings or bio-balls, are an important part of your aquarium's filtration system, as they provide a surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow and thrive. It's important to keep biological media clean to ensure that your aquarium's filtration system is working effectively. Here are some steps to follow to clean your biological media in a fish tank:
Turn off the filter: Before cleaning the biological media, turn off the filter to prevent water from flowing through it.
Remove the biological media: Carefully remove the biological media from the filter and place it in a clean container of aquarium water. Do not use tap water, as it may contain chlorine or other chemicals that could harm your fish.
Rinse the biological media: Rinse the biological media thoroughly in the container of aquarium water to remove any excess debris and waste. Be careful not to use hot water, as this can kill the beneficial bacteria.
Soak the biological media: To further clean the biological media, you can soak it in a bucket of aquarium water mixed with a small amount of aquarium-safe cleaner, such as bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Follow the instructions on the cleaner carefully and rinse the biological media thoroughly afterwards.
Replace the biological media: Once the biological media is clean, place it back in the filter and turn it back on.
It's important to clean your biological media regularly to prevent a build-up of waste and debris, which can harm your fish and reduce the effectiveness of the filtration system. Depending on the size of your aquarium and the number of fish, you may need to clean your biological media every few months. However, it's important not to clean it too frequently, as this can disrupt the beneficial bacteria colonies that are essential to the aquarium's ecosystem.
Vacuum siphoning the substrate (usually gravel)
Vacuum siphoning the substrate in your aquarium is an important part of regular maintenance, as it helps to remove excess debris and waste from the bottom of the tank. Here are some steps to follow when vacuum siphoning aquarium substrate:
Gather the necessary equipment: You will need a siphon vacuum or gravel vacuum, a bucket, and a hose or tube to connect the vacuum to the bucket.
Turn off the filter: Before starting, turn off the filter to prevent debris from getting sucked into the filter and clogging it.
Insert the vacuum into the aquarium: Place the siphon vacuum into the aquarium and let the tube or hose hang outside the tank. Be sure to position the vacuum in an area where there is a lot of debris on the substrate.
Start the siphon: Suck on the end of the tube or hose to start the siphon. Once the water starts flowing, place the end of the tube or hose into the bucket to collect the dirty water.
Vacuum the substrate: Use the siphon vacuum to clean the substrate by gently stirring it up with the vacuum and letting the debris get sucked into the tube. Be careful not to disturb the plants or decorations in the aquarium.
Clean the substrate thoroughly: Continue to vacuum the substrate until the water runs clear and all the debris has been removed.
Replace the water: Once you have finished vacuuming the substrate, replace the water that was removed with clean, dechlorinated water.
By following these steps, you can help ensure that the substrate in your aquarium is clean and free from excess debris and waste. Regular vacuum siphoning can also help to improve the water quality in your aquarium and reduce the risk of health problems for your fish.
Cleaning algae off the glass or acrylic of your fish tank is an important part of aquarium maintenance, as algae can not only look unsightly but can also be harmful to your fish if it is allowed to grow out of control. The process of cleaning algae off glass versus acrylic tanks is slightly different, so it's important to know the proper methods for each type of tank.
Cleaning Algae Off Glass Tanks:
Gather the necessary equipment: You will need a scraper or a magnetic algae cleaner, a bucket of water, and a clean cloth or paper towel.
Scrape the glass: Use a scraper or a magnetic algae cleaner to gently remove the algae from the glass. Be sure to use gentle, smooth strokes to avoid scratching the glass.
Rinse the scraper: After each pass, rinse the scraper in the bucket of water to remove any debris or algae that has been scraped off.
Wipe the glass: Once all the algae has been removed, use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe down the glass and remove any remaining debris.
Cleaning Algae Off Acrylic Tanks:
Gather the necessary equipment: You will need a soft sponge or a special acrylic-safe algae scraper, a bucket of water, and a clean cloth or paper towel.
Wet the surface: Wet the surface of the acrylic with water, which will help to loosen the algae.
Scrub the acrylic: Use a soft sponge or a special acrylic-safe algae scraper to gently scrub the algae off the acrylic. Be sure to use gentle, circular motions to avoid scratching the acrylic.
Rinse the surface: Rinse the surface of the acrylic with clean water to remove any remaining algae or debris.
Wipe the surface: Once all the algae has been removed, use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe down the surface of the acrylic and remove any remaining debris.
It's important to note that it's best to avoid using abrasive materials, such as steel wool or rough scrubbing pads, on both glass and acrylic tanks, as they can scratch the surface and damage the clarity of the tank.
NOW FOR THE FUN BIT – THE FISH!
It is what we have got into the aquarium hobby for in the first place -
Let us learn about the different types of community fish available from most local fish shops.
Fish are classified into neat little sections – mostly using Latin. The reason we use Latin is because the fish are usually from the other side of the world and Latin is the universal name in all languages so if we ordered a ‘dragonfish’ from Asia expecting a goby – an arowana would turn up. So we order in Latin to save any confusion.
Tropical fish come from many different scientific orders, depending on the species. Some examples of scientific orders that include tropical fish species are:
Perciformes: This order includes many popular tropical fish species, such as angelfish, cichlids, and guppies.
Cypriniforms: This order includes species like tetras, rasboras, and barbs, which are commonly kept in tropical freshwater aquariums.
Siluriformes: This order includes catfish species, such as Corydoras and Plecos, which are popular bottom-dwelling fish in many tropical aquariums.
Characiformes: This order includes species like neon tetras, black skirt tetras, and hatchetfish, which are also popular in many tropical freshwater aquariums.
Beloniformes: This order includes species like the swordtail and the halfbeak, which are also commonly found in tropical freshwater aquariums.
These are just a few examples of the scientific orders that include tropical fish species. It's important to research the specific needs and requirements of the species you are interested in keeping, to ensure that they are compatible with your aquarium and that you can provide the appropriate care for them.
Characins are the typical fish associated with community tanks such as neons.
Cichlids again would make up a separate book – but there are some community cichlids such as kribensis and apistorgamas which can be kept in a community aquarium.
Barbs I sometimes loathe to call community fish as they can have a habit of nibbling at long fins.