The Inside Scoop On Hermit Crabs for Saltwater Aquariums

Hermit Crabs make a very peculiar looking and wonderful aquatic addition for all kinds of reef or saltwater aquariums. Also known as one of the ‘Tank Janitor’ creatures, they are well known for helping keep tanks free of debris and algae. Many keepers of saltwater or reef custom aquariums use hermit crabs to keep their tanks a little cleaner and help reduce aquarium maintenance. They are also known for charmingly taking up residence in empty shells they find suitable.

Here are a few tips you can use for keeping your hermit crabs healthy and happy in your custom aquarium. We’ll first take a brief look at their biology, and their care requirements:

What Are Hermit Crabs, Anyway?

Hermit crabs are crustaceans that live in the ocean, or near its surface. Hermit crabs belong to the order Decapoda, the infra-order Anomuran and the superfamily Paguroidea. Although we call them ‘crabs’, scientists consider them more closely related to lobsters and porcelain crabs, than to true crabs (brachyurids).

You can find hermit crabs throughout the seas and oceans of the world apart from the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Of course, keepers of many reef or saltwater aquariums keep hermit crabs as well. You can find hermit crabs in both land-dwelling and marine forms in the wild. Many terrestrial crabs have fascinating lives and are important in the pet trade in their own right. However, this article will focus on marine dwelling hermit crabs.

It’s a Crabby Way of Life

The most prominent feature of hermit crabs is their need for protection and their dependence on the shells of other marine animals to live. However, shells aren’t the only thing that hermit crabs like to inhabit. People have reported hermit crabs using Tusk Shells, lengths of bamboo or even living sponges. Other species of crabs inhabit the tubes of tubeworms that sometimes enter saltwater aquariums by accident as hitchhikers on live rock.

Hermit crabs use two of their six sets of legs for walking. The crab uses its other legs to move their bodies within their shells and to grip the shell’s interior. Hermit crabs use their front pincers as a ‘door’ of sorts, to block entry into the shell when they have retreated inside.

The Shell Game

As hermit crabs get larger, they need to adopt larger shells to accommodate their growing bodies. In the wild, hermit crabs can evict the current resident of the shell they want. It is imperative that you leave a variety of shells in the aquarium for the needy hermit crab to choose from. This is especially true if you have snails in your aquarium as well. Hermit crabs may just choose your snail’s shell as its new home if it can’t find another one it likes. Some hermit crabs can be quite particular about the shape of the opening and style of the shell they want to live in. That’s why it’s smart to have larger shells of the same type your crab is currently wearing available for them to grow into.

Always make sure to properly clean all shells before you place them into your saltwater aquarium. You can do this by boiling the shells for 5 minutes. Then, tap out the water on a hard surface. This ensures there is nothing lodged inside the shells. Next, dip them in de-chlorinated water, and then drain the water back out again.

Crabs Are on a See-food Diet

Like humans, hermit crabs eat so many kinds of things they’re considered omnivores. A crab will eat just about anything it can get its hands on. They seem to especially enjoy eating many algae species, uneaten fish food, and even dead animals. Usually, most saltwater aquarium keepers will rely on the hermit crab’s ability to scavenge for food. If food seems scarce, you can give a hermit crab an algae pellet or two. However, some aquarists provide a cockle or mussel as a treat for their hermit crabs.

Caring for Hermit Crabs in Saltwater Aquariums

Because they’re so adaptable, most owners of saltwater aquariums believe that hermit crabs are not difficult to keep. It can come as a surprise to learn they can be a little delicate to handle. Hermit crabs are by far the least fussy eaters you’ll find for your tank, and are less likely to be damaged from handling than many other forms of aquatic life. However, hermit crabs to tend to suffer more from a less-than-ideal environment. Therefore, when you take them home from the fish store, they may be less healthy than they should be.  They will need a good environment and feeding to strengthen again.

Generally, saltwater aquariums that you want to add hermit crabs to must have been running for a while on its own, not a new custom aquarium ready for stocking. In other words, a reasonably aged tank, at around six months, is ideal. The parameters of your seawater, such as the pH, temperature, ammonia, nitrite and SG, all need to be totally acceptable. The ideal tank temperature for hermit crabs is between 72 and 78°F with a pH range between 8.1 and 8.4. The specific gravity of the tank should be between 1.021 and 1.028 with kH levels between 150 and 215 ppm. To put it in simpler terms, your seawater needs to be very, clean and seaworthy for your hermit crabs to flourish.

Call the Experts on Reef and Saltwater Aquariums

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, and you’d like to add hermit crabs to your saltwater reef tank, it’s smart to speak to the experts at Aquatech Aquarium Service. They can make sure your tank is in perfect shape, and establish a maintenance schedule that will keep it that way.

5 Saltwater Starter Fish You Should Avoid

Saltwater aquariums are popular for their wide range of attractive fish and accessory options. In our last entry, we went over the 6 Big Rules for Choosing Saltwater Starter Fish. However, when selecting fish for your custom aquarium, a list of fish to include is only half the story. It’s just as important to know the types of fish to exclude.

Unlike freshwater aquariums, you may find it more difficult to find the right fish. New saltwater aquariums will need to start off with a population of fish that are hardy, easy to manage and won’t be aggressive towards others.

Even if you think that a certain fish comes from the ocean, or you have seen before in established reef tanks, that doesn’t mean they should be included in home aquariums. Most pet stores will not be knowledgeable or advertise which fish to avoid, so it is helpful to do a bit of research. Here are several varieties of fish that would do more harm than good in a new custom aquarium:

Groupers

Although groupers are a smaller than a lot of other fish, they can still prove to be hostile to your custom aquarium’s fish population. They have mouths that will expand to be quite large. Therefore, they will eat most anything alive that will fit inside of it. Unless you have a tank that is at least 200 gallons and include large fish that can take care of themselves, it is best to not include Groupers in your saltwater aquarium.

Mandarinfish

You may be tempted at first to purchase Mandarin fish for several reasons. Their unique coloring and patterns are a reminder of beautiful coral reefs. They are affordable, known to be disease resistant, and their smaller size will seem beneficial for not overtaking space in your custom aquarium.

This might all sound well and good, but the Mandarin’s  picky diets will be a big problem. You will find it difficult to keep them satisfied since they are dependent on eating copepods and will avoid most other general saltwater aquarium foods. It is difficult to have this type of fish survive in less established aquariums. Large reef tanks with a plentiful population of copepods will keep them healthy and satisfied.

Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse

Similar to the Mandarin fish, the Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse are also picky eaters and would probably starve in most saltwater aquariums. Eating parasites off of other fish is what composes their diet. In new saltwater aquariums, there will not be enough parasites to feed them.

In established saltwater aquariums, these are both helpful and entertaining fish. Their normal behavior includes zipping around in a fun spectacle and cleaning off dead scales and parasites from other fish.

Mollies/Guppies

These fish come from brackish waters. This type of water is considered to be something in between fresh water and salt water. It may not be the best choice at first, but once you get your aquarium going, these are fish that can slowly acclimate themselves to a completely saltwater aquarium environment.

You will also need to prepare yourself to expect more fish than you began with. Mollies/Guppies actively breed in captivity.

Damselfish

Avoid the Damselfish at all costs. They are very destructive to the rest of the fish population in saltwater aquariums. Your other fish will find it hard to live with one.

Don’t let their flowy angel-like appearance fool you, they are some of the most aggressive and territorial fish around. A damselfish will chase around other fish to the point that they die from exhaustion. Their competitive nature will also prevent other fish from eating in you custom aquarium.

Getting the Right Saltwater Fish for a Custom Aquarium

A good saltwater starter fish will be able to tolerate less than perfect conditions. Choose fish that are known to be disease resistant, peaceful at co-habiting, and are easy to manage. The fish in our list just don’t make the cut. By referencing this list of saltwater fish to avoid, it should help you establish a flourishing new saltwater aquarium with a minimum of fuss.

If you’re thinking of adding a custom aquarium for your home or business in the Los Angeles area, be sure to Aquatech Aquarium Service. Picking the right fish from the start is the key to a successful and enjoyable custom aquarium, and Aquatech can help!

The 6 Big Rules for Choosing Saltwater Starter Fish

When you are ready to begin your new aquarium installation, it’s important to choose the right fish for your new saltwater aquarium. But how do you know which fish are the right ones to start your new tank? Here’s what to look for when choosing starter fish for your saltwater aquarium installation:

1. Choose Hardy Fish

When you first start your new custom aquarium, the condition of your water can change rapidly. That’s why aquarium installation experts recommend that you start with hardier species of saltwater fish for your new saltwater aquarium.  Fish that are more tolerant of changes in their environment will be less stressed about differences in water temperature and alkalinity.  As a result, these fish usually tend to live longer.

2. Select Fish That Are Resistant to Parasites

Aquarium installation experts agree that parasites such as ich, flukes, and tremotodes can be a nuisance to any custom aquarium. If your fish are stressed by other conditions, such as other aggressive fish or unsuitable water conditions, they are even more likely to ‘catch’ an infection. There are no fish that are immune to these invaders. However, there are certain saltwater fish that are more resistant to these parasites than other fish.

Saltwater fish such as Mollies and Damsels have been known to be more resistant to these pesky parasites than other saltwater fish. That’s not necessarily a good reason to stock your tank with them. For a new aquarium, an aquarium installation expert may recommend that you avoid starter fish like Damselfish because they can be quite aggressive.  You may want to avoid Powder Blue/Brown Tang fish as they tend to be more prone to infection from parasites like ich.

3. Pick Fish That Are Compatible With Everything In Your Saltwater Aquarium

These fish will probably be the first fish in your custom aquarium.  So you’ll want to choose fish that are peaceful and get along well with other fish. Getting along doesn’t just means that they don’t try to eat all the other fish. Fish that are non-aggressive will be less apt to harass other fish both during the day and at feeding time. Some fish are very territorial, and will harass any fish that comes near them, including fish that are bigger than they are. Other fish are greedy eaters and will try to gobble every morsel you put in the tank at feeding time, and will fight the other fish for it, too. Avoiding aggressive and territorial fish help reduces the stress among all the fish you put in your saltwater aquarium.

4. Choose Fish That Are Inexpensive To Maintain

Saltwater fish vary greatly in the cost per fish. You may not want to choose the most inexpensive fish you can find for your saltwater aquarium. However, choosing a relatively inexpensive fish can help save costs in the long run. Generally, the more exotic and rare the fish, the more expensive it is. Some fish have sold for as much as $400,000!

5. Select Vibrant Fish To Make Your Aquarium Installation Look Its Best

Unless your aquarium is gigantic, the number of fish in your aquarium is bound to be fairly limited. Since you can only fit so many fish in your saltwater aquarium, it’s smart to make each one count. It’s tempting to buy a handful of inexpensive, drab fish to get your aquarium going when you’re on a budget. However, in the long run, your aquarium will be much more interesting if you select each fish for maximum visual interest. Remember, some fish are brightly colored, but shy about swimming in the open areas of your tank. Choose some fish that are fast swimmers to get a good mix.

6. Get a Mix of Personalities

Schools of identical fish look great when they swim back and forth in your aquarium. However, too much of one thing quickly gets boring to look at. Different species of fish look different, of course, but they also act differently as they make their way around your saltwater aquarium. Choose a good mix of “personalities” to add interest to the action in the tank. Mix bold and timid fish, and fast and slow swimmers to ensure a constantly changing aqua

Get Expert Advice From Aquarium Installation Experts

For expert aquarium installation in the Los Angeles area, contact Aquatech Aquarium Service. They’ll help you choose the best starting fish for your new saltwater aquarium. They can help with your aquarium maintenance as well.

How To Move a Custom Aquarium Without Taking a Bath

Moving your belongings to a new home or apartment is physically and mentally taxing. The task takes on a brand new layer of work when you have to move an aquarium along with your furniture. In addition to packing up and transporting your custom aquarium, you also have to make sure your fish, and anything else you have in the aquarium, is moved safely to its new home. Just getting to your destination is only half the battle. It’s important to avoid disrupting the aquatic environment more than necessary. Find out the best way to move your aquarium to your new place without taking a bath or losing any of your scaly sidekicks:

Prepare the Tank

As you’re planning your move, it’s best that you save the aquarium for last. That way, your fish don’t have to swim around outside of their normal habitat for too long. When you’re ready to tackle the task of moving your custom aquarium, drain the tank water into sealable buckets. Re-using your tank water helps preserve helpful bacteria. Note that this method is best reserved for quick moves of less than a day. For anything longer than that, it’s best to simply get rid of the water and cycle in a fresh supply in your tank before letting your fish return home.

A Great Opportunity for Aquarium Maintenance

Next, take care of aquarium maintenance as you remove gravel and plants from the tank. Make sure to keep live plants in bags of water to keep them as fresh as the fish you’re moving. When taking out the filter media, it’s best that you not clean it before packing it up with tank water and bacteria. Again, this only applies to short moves. You’ll want to go ahead and give the filter a good scrubbing and cleaning if it’ll take you a few days to complete your move.

Get Your Fish Ready

To keep water as fresh and clean as possible while moving your custom aquarium, it’s smart to stop feeding them about four days or so before the big day. This might seem cruel, but they’ll be fine. The feeding lull gives them time to flush waste from their systems, and do so in a way that won’t compromise their oxygen supply. Just be sure to round up all the fish once you’ve removed all the plants and gravel and most of the water from the tank. It’s easy to lose count when you’re in a hurry.

Solitary Confinement Isn’t Cruel and Unusual

When the time comes to bag the fish, fill plastic bags less than halfway with tank water. Be sure each bag only has one fish. Store the bags with care in rows inside a styrofoam cooler (or Poly box for warm water fish). Don’t bury the box under a mound of other belongings. You’ll need to refresh the oxygen supply every couple of hours by opening and resealing the bags.

Take care that you keep fish out of sunlight and excessive temperatures while transporting them. You should also keep them in the dark as much as possible to help them stay calm during the move.

Move the Tank

Wrap the tank of your custom aquarium inside blankets or equally soft wrapping, keeping the wrapping tight with packing tape. If you like, you can reinforce the protection with pieces of cardboard bound with more tape. Lift the tank from the bottom, and transport it in a way that it doesn’t come into contact with anything that might bump, fall on top of, or jostle it.

Set Up the Tank

Rather than leave the tank for last in your new place like you did when moving from your old place, make setting it up a top priority. Unpack the tank of your custom aquarium and set up the filter and heater and ensure they’re in working order. Slowly introduce tank water to the fishes’ bags to see how they react before letting them back into their old tank in their new home.

With a bit of planning and patience, moving your aquarium won’t open a floodgate of problems. For the ultimate in ease, contact an aquarium setup and maintenance professional to do the job.

5 Aquarium Maintenance Tools You Can’t Do Without

It’s great to watch fish swim and swirl inside an aquarium, but that visual is even nicer when you have plants, gravel and decorations inside of your tank. Like the idea of adding more visual appeal to your fresh or saltwater aquarium? Make sure you have these five aquarium maintenance tools to keep your tank, fish and everything else inside your aquarium looking its best.

1. Tongs

Use tongs to introduce new plants to your aquarium and fish out foreign objects that might find their way inside the tank. Depending on your preferences and the plants in your salt or freshwater aquarium, you might want to opt for a stainless steel pair of tongs for their ability to handle bigger objects. Be sure to keep an eye out for tongs with cutting attachments while you’re shopping in case you need to do some slicing in the future while performing aquarium maintenance.

2. Water Changers

Sometimes referred to as siphons, water changers help keep your tank clean and your fish as well as your plants healthy. You’ll likely have plenty of water changer options to choose from, so make sure you keep your style of aquarium and personal tastes in mind while browsing. One word of advice is that you not select a grated siphon mouth if you have a fry or ornamental shrimp tank because fry and shrimp can find their way up the mouth. Check to see how complex the water changer’s operation is before using it for aquarium maintenance.

3. Scissors

Use scissors to take care of dead branches and leaves dangling from your aquarium plants. Much like tongs, aquarium scissors come in several different lengths to better suit your specific needs. It’s important to note here that you should refrain from using your scissors for anything but cutting dead plant leaves, mainly because you can easily dull the blades and damage your plants in the future by cutting them too close. No matter which scissors you get, make sure they’re as sharp as can be to make aquarium maintenance easier.

4. Gloves

Protect fish and plants from any harmful material that might be on your hands or arms by donning gloves before reaching into the tank. What’s more is wearing gloves goes a long way in protecting yourself from detrimental substances in the tank that can find their way into your system through open cuts or sores you might have on your hands or arms, or any you might sustain during aquarium maintenance. To be extra cautious, make sure the gloves you select are free of allergens.

5. Algae Scrapers

You have the option of using special chemicals to take care of algae in your tank, but if you aren’t experienced with taking proper care of aquariums, you can easily add too much of the chemical to the tank. Make things easier on yourself and your aquarium by using algae scrapers, which you might find faster than algae-scrubbing chemicals. Depending on how much algae is floating around and clinging to your aquarium, you might need to use a siphon to complete your aquarium maintenance.

As you might have guessed, there are several different types of scrapers. One variety to note is algae scrapers made with a magnet and felt to better rid your tank of bothersome algae.

There you have five must-haves when it comes to properly maintaining your aquarium. Know that these aren’t all the tools you’ll need to take the best care of your aquarium and fish, but they are among the most essential. Rather than buying entire aquarium kits, it might make more financial sense for you to purchase your tools piecemeal. In any case, be sure to ask about specials, discounts and coupons for the most important aquarium care tools.

5 Unusual Spots for a Custom Aquarium

Everyone loves a custom aquarium. Aquariums have a calming effect on people sitting close by. That’s why they’re so popular for waiting rooms in doctor’s and dentist’s offices. After a hard day of work, it’s restful to spend a few moments relaxing near your own aquarium. Because the fish are in constant motion, your little slice of the underwater world never gets boring.

While everyone enjoys aquariums, not everyone has space in their home, condominium, or apartment for a big freshwater or saltwater aquarium on a large stand. Not a problem. If you’ve always wanted a custom aquarium with a bit of a wow! factor, all it takes is a little ingenuity and an eye for the unusual. Here are 5 unusual spots for your custom aquarium:

A Custom Aquarium In a Fireplace

Lots of houses have old fireplaces that are no longer safe or practical. Instead of walling that old fireplace up, or filling it with things like candle stands or flower baskets, why not use it for a custom aquarium?

Don’t make the mistake of filling the entire fireplace opening with the aquarium. You’ll need good access to things like the pumps and filters for regular aquarium maintenance. It’s better to build a frame inside the opening and place your custom aquarium inside the frame. The frame can contain hidden access doors to get inside and behind the aquarium.

One great benefit of using an old fireplace for a custom aquarium is the natural soundproofing you’ll get from the masonry. The sound of the pumps and filters will be muffled. Paint the back wall of the fireplace black to make the aquarium stand out more when you turn on the lights.

Built Into Shelving

If you’re afraid of losing precious floor space, building your custom aquarium into an existing piece of furniture is a great way to make room for your undersea world. If you’ve got a large shelving unit, you can build an aquarium right into it.

This approach is much easier if your cabinetry is built in. An aquarium filled with water is heavy, so you’ll probably need to beef up the structure to handle the extra load. If you’re using a freestanding piece of furniture, make sure it’s firmly anchored to the wall behind it to keep it from toppling over.

In a Wet Bar

Aquariums no longer need to be rectangular glass enclosures. Acrylic aquariums can be molded into almost any shape, including curves. They’re immensely strong, so you can mount things on top of them if you want. If you have a corner in your home that’s begging for a freestanding wet bar, it’s a perfect opportunity to add an aquarium that doesn’t need its own floor space. Build it right into your freestanding bar, or better still, make the entire bar into an aquarium.

Kitchen Backsplash

Putting an aquarium in your kitchen backsplash will turn a humdrum kitchen into a showpiece. Backsplashes between the upper and lower cabinets are a great place for long, thin aquariums. Instead of undercabinet lighting, you can turn on the aquarium light to shed a soft, even light over your countertops. The glass side of the aquarium is as easy to keep clean as subway tile.

In a Shower

Shower rooms are a great place for underwater and seaside themes. You can build in an aquarium to really make the room pop with color and motion. A saltwater or freshwater aquarium can be built right into a partition to lend an underwater feeling to both sides of the wall. It’s especially effective if one side of the aquarium serves as a wall in the shower. It’s a lot more fun to watch the fish swimming around than watching the water circle the drain.

Need Help? Ask a Pro

In a very real sense, the sky’s the limit with aquariums. The ability to mold acrylic to make any size or shape aquarium means that if you can imagine your aquarium, it can be built. Of course you’ll need to figure out where to place the equipment you need to keep your fish happy and healthy, and the water crystal clear.

Contact Aquatech Aquarium Service for aquarium design in the Los Angeles area. They’re experts at designing, setting up, and stocking custom aquariums. They’re great at aquarium maintenance, too. Their helpful tips during the design phase will save you money in the long run when it’s time to maintain your one-of-a-kind custom aquarium.

Great Tips for Keeping Your Favorite Fish Healthy and Happy

New aquarium owners need a little help to get their freshwater or saltwater aquariums off on the right foot. Even seasoned fishkeeping veterans can use some more helpful tips. With that in mind, Aquatech Aquarium Service has put together a few handy tips for aquarium maintenance and other fish keeping tasks:

Clean Your Gravel and Ornaments First

When starting a new saltwater or freshwater aquarium, always make sure to thoroughly wash the aquarium gravel. This should also be done periodically as part of regular aquarium maintenance. You should also clean any large rocks and ornaments you want to use before you place them in the aquarium. Never use any soap or detergents when you are cleaning gravel or ornaments. Cleaning solutions usually have chemicals that are highly toxic to fish. Try using a colander to clean your gravel instead.

Add your gravel to the colander and then run clean water over it. Stir up the gravel continuously so that any debris in the gravel falls out. Continue to clean the gravel with the colander, repeating the process until the water runs clean. Place gravel in the aquarium very carefully so you don’t scratch the inside of your custom aquarium.

Condition the Water Properly For Easier Aquarium Maintenance

Fish need to get oxygen from the water they swim in, similar to the way humans get oxygen from fresh air. Just like air, water contains many other chemicals other than oxygen. Clean water that is free of toxic chemicals is critical to the long term health of your underwater life. Unfortunately, ordinary tap water from the sink comes with countless chemicals that are toxic to fish.  Chemicals such as chlorine and fluorine are just as harmful for fish to breathe in as they are for humans. Just like dirty air, you must eliminate these chemicals from your water in order to support healthy aquatic life. To condition the water for your fish properly, you should add dechlorinating solution and other aquarium water supplements to any tap water you use for aquarium maintenance. These supplements are available at your local aquarium sales and tropical fish store.

Not Everything Green Is Good

Algae is no good for you or your aquarium fish and plants. Algae buildup in saltwater or freshwater aquariums causes green deposits on the inside of the glass. It also gives the water in your custom aquarium a dirty and murky look. Since algae is a plant, it competes with your aquatic life for oxygen in the water. This creates numerous health problems for your aquarium fish.

Your local fish store or aquarium fish supply outlet has a variety of tools to help fight algae buildup. You can use algae scrub brushes with long handles to reach all the way into the tank. You can also use aquarium algae magnets to scrape off excess algae from the glass. Make sure to clean up any algae that may come off the sides and  float down to the gravel of your custom aquarium.

Keep Notes for Your Aquarium Maintenance

It helps to keep a journal that details how often you perform regular aquarium maintenance. Starting at your setup date, make notes of all your water test results. Keep a list of any fish you purchased, and when and where you bought them. As you perform your aquarium maintenance tasks, keep a record of them in your journal.

If any issues should arise in your custom aquarium, you can refer back to your notes, and even show them to your aquarium sales or fish store. They can take a look and offer advice to you based on the information in your journal.

If a paper journal is too difficult to manage, you don’t have to worry! There are apps available for both Android phones and iPhones that allow you to easily document all your aquarium maintenance tasks from startup, as well the sea life you have in your custom aquarium.

Call the Professionals for Regular Aquarium Maintenance

If you still want the look and beauty of a custom aquarium, but don’t have the time or desire to perform regular aquarium maintenance, there is still hope! Call the professionals at Aquatech Aquarium Service in Los Angeles. Harold Weiner and his aquarium service staff have been helping people with their aquarium maintenance for over 25 years. They’re wizards at saltwater and freshwater tanks, and can even take care of your koi pond maintenance.

Glass Or Acrylic. Which Is Better for Your Custom Aquarium?

Congratulations on your decision to create your very own beautiful custom aquarium! Keeping fish in a freshwater or saltwater aquarium is a great pastime that is richly rewarding. Once you have decided where you will put your new slice of the underwater world, you’ll need to decide whether to use glass or acrylic for your new custom aquarium. Although both materials work well, there are some important differences. Here are some facts to help you make up your mind:

It’s a Custom Aquarium, Not a Scratching Post!

Both glass and acrylic react very differently to scratches. Glass is a hard material that is very difficult to scratch. To scratch glass, you need a relatively hard material and a considerable amount of pressure. A piece of rock or aquarium gravel usually will not leave a scratch if you accidentally rub one up against the glass.

On the other hand, acrylic has a tendency to scratch more easily. Anyone who moves or unloads acrylic aquariums must take care not to scratch the tank. Sometimes, just brushing against an acrylic tank with a handbag or jewelry can cause a scratch. Since you can scratch acrylic rather easily, fish keepers must take care to use acrylic-safe algae scrubbers when cleaning an acrylic tank. Also, make sure you do not accidentally pick up any pieces of aquarium gravel in the scrub pad while you are using it.

Although acrylic aquariums scratch more easily than glass aquariums, you can easily remove most scratches in acrylic by buffing them out. Scratches in glass are much more difficult to remove, and may require a replacement glass panel. Fishkeepers can purchase an acrylic polishing kit in most fish stores. You can use these kits to remove scratches on the outside of the tank. You should not use these polishes on the inside of your tank, as they may leave a toxic residue that could make your custom aquarium unsafe for fish. However, if you are careful when cleaning, you should not get any scratches on the inside of your tank.

Passing the Strength Test

One major advantage that acrylic holds over glass is the fact that it is much lighter and much stronger than a piece of glass of the same dimensions. Especially for larger custom aquariums, acrylic materials save more than half the weight of glass while maintaining the same or better strength and structural integrity. This also means that an acrylic tank will cause less stress on the structure that is supporting it than a glass tank will.

A Shattering Effect You Don’t Want for Your Custom Aquarium!

Another big advantage in using acrylic over class is its ability to withstand heavy impacts. Glass shatters if you hit it hard enough. It takes quite a bit of force to break a glass tank. However, the force required is still far less than what it takes to break an acrylic tank. Acrylic is much more durable and less prone to cracking and breaking than glass is.

Great for Any Shape

Because acrylic is a plastic, you can mold it into almost any shape imaginable. It is far easier to build a curved or rounded custom aquarium with acrylic than glass. Since glass is relatively rigid and brittle, it’s a lot easier to create glass aquariums that are rectangular in shape. It is possible to have curved glass to use with your custom aquarium. However, curved glass tends to be more expensive than flat panels. Curved glass also has more of a tendency to distort light coming into or out of your aquarium. This can make fish on the other side of your custom aquarium appear larger or smaller than they actually are.

They Call it Mellow Yellow

One inherent flaw with acrylic is its inability to withstand ultraviolet light. Over time, exposure to UV light will cause an acrylic tank to yellow, and the material will eventually become brittle. Even acrylic materials that are UV resistant will eventually yellow over time. In the long run, there are no chemicals that can help acrylic stand up to UV light as long as glass can. This process accelerates as you add more UV lights, or the closer your custom aquarium is to a window.

Ask a Custom Aquarium Expert

Both glass and acrylic aquariums have pluses and minuses. The right material for your custom aquarium depends on the design of your aquarium system.

If you’re planning on building a custom aquarium it pays to speak with a custom aquarium design expert. Harold Weiner and his team at Aquatech Aquarium Service have been helping aquarium owners in the Los Angeles area for over 25 years. Whether you need help with a custom aquarium of your very own, aquarium or koi pond maintenance, or just some fish supplies, Aquatech Aquarium Service always has the answer.

7 Easy Steps To a New Aquarium Installation

Aquariums make a great centerpiece for any home or business. Some people have compared their aquarium installation to a small piece of the ocean in a box. Watching the motions of fish and the water is very soothing and relaxing, but if you’re not an experienced fish keeper, the idea of a full-scale aquarium installation might seem complicated.

There are important facts you should know before you start your new aquarium hobby.  We’ve assembled a guide to a complete aquarium installation to help you get started.

Step One: You Need a Plan

Planning ahead before you begin your aquarium installation will save a lot of headaches later. You should think about the size and shape of your aquarium. What kind of fish do you want in your custom aquarium? Will you have a saltwater aquarium or freshwater aquarium?

Step Two: Set Up Your Custom Aquarium and Stand

Remember, the place you decide you want your aquarium installation should be level and able to hold both the weight of the water and the aquarium itself. You will also want to take any heating elements, lighting or filters into consideration when you place your custom aquarium. You will want to plan a location that is easy for aquarium maintenance if you plan to do it yourself. For aquariums set in walls, or for larger aquariums, you may need professional help with aquarium maintenance.

Step Three: Add Gravel or Sand

Make sure you thoroughly clean the gravel or sand you wish to use before putting it in the tank. Otherwise, your tank could remain cloudy for many weeks afterward. Place the gravel in a bucket and use a hose on high pressure to spray the material directly in the bucket. When the bucket is full of water, stir the gravel in the pocket to clean any more dirt off it. Repeat this process until the water is visibly clear. One clean, gently add the gravel to the bottom of the tank so you don’t scratch the glass or acrylic at the bottom.

Step Four: Install the Filter and Heater

Before you install the filter and heater into your new aquarium, test them in a small amount of water to make sure they’re working properly. That way, you won’t be taking a chance on losing your fish over an equipment malfunction. Make sure to route all power cords away from the custom aquarium. Water and electricity don’t mix very well.

Step Five: Decorate!

Now for the really fun part. It’s time to add whatever decorations you would like. Just like gravel, it is important to clean whenever decorations you plan to use in your aquarium. It is important not to use any kind of soap when you’re cleaning. Soap and detergents are toxic in a marine environment. It only takes a little soap residue on decorations to be fatal to your fish.

If you have live plants, now’s the time to add them.  You should add a little of your water to the tank first.  That way, the plants won’t be stressed until the aquarium is entirely filled with water.

Step Six: Add Your Water and Cycle

Once the inside of your aquarium is in place, you can add your water to it. Make sure you properly treat your water to rid yourself of unwanted chemicals like chlorine. Is a good idea to also add nitrates and beneficial bacteria to the water to help prepare it before adding it to your custom aquarium installation.

Cycling your tank simply means letting it run for a while without any fish in it. By cycling your tank, you will allow the water to become properly oxygenated, and free of unwanted chemicals. Cycling also allows beneficial bacteria to grow. These bacteria are useful in eliminating waste, and reducing the water’s toxicity.

Step Seven: Add Your Fish!

Once your aquarium installation is complete, and your water is cycled, it’s time to add your fish! Test the water once more, and place the bag containing the fish into the water. Leave the bag unopened in your aquarium installation for a few minutes to equalize the water temperature. That way, you won’t stress the fish by a sudden temperature change. It’s always best to add fish one or two at a time.  This allows them more time to acclimate to their new home before they get new neighbors.

Once you have added your fish, observe them for a while to make sure they’re getting along well in their new home. Test the water every few hours after adding your fish. You’ll want to be sure that the temperature, oxygen level, and chemical levels such as ammonia stay balanced.

Professionals Make It Easier

If you’d rather enjoy the fish without any of the setup work, help is just a phone call away. In the Los Angeles area, Aquatech Aquarium Service is ready to help you with expert advice, setup, and service. Rely on their award winning aquarium maintenance and service to make sure your new custom aquarium stays beautiful for years to come.

Aquarium Service Tips: Mixing Saltwater for Your Tank

aquarium serviceSaltwater aquariums area a great way to enjoy the most exotic and colorful marine life. Watching exotic tropical fish swim back and forth is a soothing, entertaining way to relieve stress.  Saltwater aquariums require slightly more aquarium service than freshwater tanks, but the results are worth the extra time and effort.

One of the most common chores for a saltwater aquarium is replenishing the salt water itself. Mixing saltwater is a very easy aquarium service task you can do on your own with the right tools from the fish store. Here is a list of things you will need to make the perfect water for your saltwater aquarium:

Gather Your Materials

A Clean bucket or Heavy-Duty Plastic Storage Bin: A large storage bin works well for mixing the water. You can also use them to store extra water. Make sure to thoroughly clean the bucket or bin before you start.

Sea Salt Mix: This is what will turn ordinary water into salt water. Your aquarium service technician can help you in getting the best quality salt mix available. Aquarium service technicians recommend you do not use ordinary table salt or “sea salt”.  It is missing many elements specific to sea life that you will find in sea salt mixes.

A Submersible Aquarium Service Heater: This will ensure the water you use is at the right temperature for the marine life in your saltwater aquarium. Make sure to use one rated for the desired volume of water.

A Thermometer: You will need a thermometer to measure the temperature of the water. Some heaters have a thermal meter already attached. If yours doesn’t, you’ll need a separate one. A floating or battery-powered meter works well to measure the water temperature.

A Small Pump for Circulation: Having a pump helps you to mix the saltwater more thoroughly with less effort. You can also use the pump to transfer the water from the bucket to the saltwater aquarium. That avoids the need to lift a heavy bin full of water.

A Refractometer or Hydrometer: These are tools that you use to measure the amount of salt in your water. They measure the specific gravity of water. The more salt in the water, the heavier the specific gravity of the saltwater.

A Stirring Implement: A simple wooden stick will work just fine. Avoid metal or plastic to minimize any reactions with the salt water. Make sure to clean the stirring implement before using it.

Water, Water, Everywhere

Now all you need is the water. Tapwater works well in most cases. Unfortunately it contains chemicals that are harmful to marine life, such as chlorine, that you must remove first. Seawater is also an appropriate choice, but make sure to use a source of seawater that’s untainted by chemicals caused by wastewater or runoff. Seawater also may need other adjustments before is usable. Aquarium service technicians recommend that you use distilled water, or water treated by reverse-osmosis or deionization (RO/DI).

Fill your container halfway with water. Don’t overfill the container. You’ll  be adding the salt mix, which will displace some of the water. You’ll need plenty of room in the container to mix the salt with the water without slopping over. Once your container has some water in it, add your pump and heater to it. Make sure you have cleaned and tested them before placing them into the water.

Add Salt To Taste

Next, begin pouring the salt into the water slowly into the water and stir it. Test the water frequently to monitor its specific gravity. Your aquarium service technician can recommend the correct specific gravity for your saltwater aquarium.

Let Your Water Rest

Once the water has reached the correct specific gravity, let it sit overnight to circulate, mix, and reach the correct temperature. Leaving the water overnight ensures that all the salt and other elements completely dissolve into the water and reach the desired temperature.

Check It, and You’re Done!

The next day, check the specific gravity and temperature of your water again to make sure it is correct. If you need to, make any adjustments to salinity by adding more water or salt mix.

Now that you have made your salt water, you can add it to your saltwater aquarium! It is a good idea to have extra water already prepared for your next aquarium service and water change.

Aquarium Service Advice From the Experts

Saltwater aquariums are a beautiful addition to any home or business. Whether you are a professional fish keeper or just starting out, a saltwater aquarium provides a captivating display of marine life. If you would like to start your own saltwater aquarium, you can get a great start from the experts at Aquatech Aquarium Service in Los Angeles. Their team, headed by owner Harold Weiner, have been designing saltwater aquariums and koi ponds, and providing aquarium service, for over 25 years. They’ll make sure your saltwater aquarium is a perfect fit for your home or business, and help you with regular aquarium maintenance.