Aquarium Tips #7-9
Aquarium Tip 7 - Getting to the Root of the Situation
Welcome to part 7 of your 10-part mini-course, My Freshwater Aquarium Secrets. We've covered a lot so far; and today I'm going to cover something that a lot of first time aquarium users don't think about.
That, of course, is the fact that you can actually grow plants in your aquarium. Some people prefer plastic plants, but live plants are always more interesting.
The plants that you decorate with should be ones native to the fish's original habitat. This is true even though your individual fish probably has never "seen" or experienced his native habitat first hand.
In a community aquarium it will not be easy to find plants that are compatible with all the fish in your tank, so just do your best. Research the plant types and their compatibility with your fish.
In order to be successful doing this, though, you need to know some of the trade secrets that those successful with aquariums use. I will start you off with a quick course on the different plants you can use to "accessorize" your finned friend's new home.
In general, there are several types of plants that can be used in your freshwater aquarium. These plants are classified by their general growth.
The first type of plant is grown as bulbs. These, for the most part, produce rather large plants, most of which are far too large to use in a normal-sized freshwater aquarium. These plants, such as the water lily and the aponogeton, are much better suited to outdoor settings, especially koi ponds.
However, if you can find some smaller plants that grow from bulbs and you may want use them. You should plant the bulbs halfway into the substrate with the top half of the bulb exposed. These bulbs, as they mature, grow together. Eventually they'll get large enough to be separated. Then you can place them in other areas.
Depending on the species of fish you choose, you may want to include plants that float. Many of these are moss and fern-like plants. You'll find them in many aquariums simply because they're wonderful hiding places for the shy fish of your collection. In addition, floating plants make a great place for the young fry (baby fish) who need to shield themselves from direct aquarium lighting.
Floating plants also serve as a method for creating low-light conditions, since they cover the water surface. A good example of a floating plant is Fairy Moss.
These are perhaps among the easiest live plants to take care of. You definitely don't need a green thumb. You don't actually plant them. You simply place them in the aquarium and they'll float on their own on the surface of the water.
Plants can be rewarding to keep, easy to take care of, and very fun to handle. They also brighten your aquarium, and can make it truly stand out from the crowd.
Some people don't even keep fish in their aquarium; they just keep plants!
Aquarium Tip 8 - It's All About the Nutrients
Welcome to part 8 of your 10-part mini-course, My Freshwater Aquarium Secrets.
Today, we're going to talk about the nutrients that plants need to stay alive and flourish.
For plants, it's all about nutrients . . . nutrients . . . and more nutrients. Plants need both macronutrients and the micronutrients to be healthy.
Macronutrients are the substances that are needed in large amounts. These include nitrates, phosphates and sulfates. You won't need to be too concerned about these. They're the exact nutrients that naturally appear in the aquarium from that tap water and the fish.
You'll also know when your plants may be receiving an overabundance of these nutrients. Your tank may experience what is called an "algae bloom."
Algae Blooms are caused, in part, by your aquarium plants not being able to absorb the rising nitrate levels produced by the fish.
There are steps you will have to take to get rid of the algae bloom, but that is beyond the scope of today's lesson. You can start your fight against algae bloom by reading this website: http://www.clownloachfish.com/learn.html
Micronutrients are another matter, however. These are elements are extremely vital and can spell the difference between healthy plants and diseased plants. Luckily, plants need micronutrients in very small amounts, usually called trace amounts.
Some of the crucial micronutrients are copper, iron, manganese, boron, zinc and calcium. Some of these are found in tap water and others will have to be supplemented by commercial products from the pet store.
And just as an over abundance of macronutrients can hinder and actually hurt the growth of your plants, an excess of these trace minerals can also prove detrimental.
It can be wonderful to have live plants in your aquarium, and very rewarding to see that you're not only taking care of your fish, but taking care of plants for them to play in.
Aquarium tip 9 - Your Aquarium Filter and You
Welcome to part 9 of your 10-part mini-course, My Freshwater Aquarium Secrets.
Today, I'm going to talk about aquarium filters and what you need to know about them.
There are many types of aquarium filters on the market. To be sure that your aquarium will stay healthy, you need the right filter. Which one you get depends on the type and size of your aquarium.
The first thing you need to do is to learn about what most people put into tanks similar to the one that you are creating. You certainly don't want to reinvent the wheel, since a mistake with the filter could spell disaster for your fish and anything else living in your aquarium.
There are many places where you can get a lot of good pointers on the type of filter that is best for your aquarium.
If you have a small tank, you actually have more options, since there are many filters that can handle a small amount of water. Large tanks require more powerful and complex filters.
But no matter what size aquarium you have, you need to choose the filter carefully.
One of the most basic types of filter is the under-gravel filter. While these are cheap and easy to set up, they are not very effective, and are probably not the best option.
Power filters are common and there are a couple different types. Power filters usually have a sponge or something similar inside, so they act as both a mechanical filter, straining solid particles out of the water, and as a biological filter.
Bacteria colonize sponge filters and change toxic chemicals into less harmful substances. You can get power filters that sit inside your tank, as well as ones that attach to the outside of your aquarium, which can be more attractive.
Canister filters and wet/dry filters are very popular with aquarium enthusiasts. This is because both of them are very effective. Both use mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration methods in sequence to give the water the best cleaning possible.
The only drawbacks to these aquarium filters are that they are large and expensive. But, if you have a large tank or expensive fish, they are well worth it.
The upside to these filters is that along with doing their job extremely well, they are also easy to access and clean.
The filters above are the most common, but there are other types that you find during the course of your research.
When you are choosing a filter, think about what kind of current your fish need. All tanks will have some kind of current caused by the filter, but some aquarium filters create A LOT of current.
If you only have a small tank full of little fish, you do not want a lot of current. The strong current would cause your little fish to hide and not come out.
On the other hand, if you have a large tank, you might want a good current running through it.
Some aquarium filters are adjustable, so you can carefully choose the strength of the current that you want. Many of the large filtering systems and those for saltwater tanks have this adjustability.
More Aquarium Tips to Come...
If you haven't had a chance to check out The Ultimate Freshwater Aquarium Guide, I urge you to do so now. It contains my step-by-step system to getting a healthy and thriving freshwater aquarium up and running.