Something Fishy: Freshwater Fish For Beginners

Goldfish in an freshwater fish aquariumWhen a beginner decides to enter the world of fish-keeping, one of the biggest questions involves the choice of what type of fish to keep. There are the obvious questions about the size of the first tank, if it will be freshwater or salt water, and whether or not it will be a cold water or heated water tank. Even that matter might surprise a beginner, for most people do not think about the salinity and temperature of a water environment.

Choosing Freshwater Fish

Choosing a heated aquarium would allow the beginner to select from more varieties of fish. But one of the most familiar types of freshwater fish for beginners is a cold water fish: the Gold Fish. So selecting the animal you want to be spending time with will affect the temperature of the habitat the fish will live in, as well as determine any additional residents you might choose to add.

Warm Water Fish

There are several options for the beginner who chooses to have a warm water aquarium. A broad selection of such fish could include Danios, Black Mollies, Black Skirt Tetras, Kuhli Loaches, Platies, and Swordtails.

Swordtails are a popular choice for beginners both for their dramatic appearance and because they are very hardy and do well in community aquariums, where they share the space with other types of fish. The name of this fish comes from the shape of the lower lobe of the male’s tailfin, which is elongated. The females tend to be larger than the males and lack the same length of “sword”. Although the wild form of the fish is an olive green, captive breeding has developed many colors and patterns. It is an omnivorous eater, meaning it will dine on anything, both plants and small crustaceans and insects.

Mollies are also easy to keep. For the beginning fish-keeper who wants a home-grown population, Mollies are prolific breeders. Although Mollies are generally compatible tankmates with some other fish, because of their energetic nature, they can be mildly aggressive and chase the other fish. They would certainly not be a boring choice for the aquarium of a novice.

Cold Water Fish

Another option for someone starting out with aquarium fish is to choose cold water freshwater fish. This choice would mean a little less work in paying attention to the temperature of the water, so if limited time for maintenance care is an issue, these fish are worth considering. Popular choices are White Clouds, Bloodfin Tetras, and the very familiar Gold Fish.

The hardy Bloodfin Tetras are usually kept in groups, most typically a school of five or more fish. They’re very sociable creatures and prefer the upper reaches of the aquarium. Their silvery bodies with their tailfins splashed with red make them very decorative in a tank. They do, however, like to nibble on the longer flowing fins of other fish.

And of course, how could anyone not consider Gold Fish? It was one of the earliest fish to be domesticated, so there is a long history of keeping Gold Fish. The history alone would be a source of enrichment to the novice who chooses to keep Gold Fish. This small carp has been bred into a variety of sizes, shapes colors and skin patterns. It would never be a boring choice. The one thing to be careful about with Gold Fish is that they are opportunistic feeders and will easily over-eat. But with a little care and planning this need not be a problem.

Keeping fish can be a soothing and relaxing hobby. If you consider adding an aquarium to your home, especially if you have never kept fish before, seek the advice of experts who can help you with the selection of size of tank and type of fish. Consult the team at Aquatech Aquariums and begin to enjoy the presence of an aquarium in your life.

Custom Aquarium Design

Wall mounted bubble aquarium designThe world of custom aquarium design has exploded with the development of heavy duty acrylic panels.  Durable acrylic can be shaped with greater variety than glass. Where at one time, a custom aquarium needed to be made of heavy glass; flat, modern acrylic can almost always be molded to just about any

Considerations For a Custom Aquarium

Once the site of the custom aquarium has been evaluated by a professional designer, the actual designing can begin. When you are going to the expense of having a custom aquarium built, you need to make sure the setting will support the weight of the tank. You also need to assure that there is sufficient available power to supply the maintenance equipment. Whether for a business space or for a highlight in a residence, a specially designed aquarium can add a unique touch to the environment.

Cylindrical aquarium as the body of a desk.Popular Design Options

One popular design is a large cylinder aquarium. A cylindrical tank allows viewers to circle round the aquarium to get a full view of the habitat. It’s well suited for open areas like a lobby, or as a supporting structure. Both the diameter and height of the cylinder can be made to your specifications.

Another possibility with acrylic materials are arches through large standing tanks. Such designs allow viewers to have a tunnel-like experience of the inhabitants of the aquarium. Smaller arches can be used in constructing tanks with less volume, to create hollows in the shape of the aquarium.

For those with a sense of humor, a globe tank can become an attractive feature in any interior. It can give a new spin to the phrase “living in a goldfish bowl.” A large globe filled with beautiful tropical fish can become quite the conversation piece for any office waiting room or home family space.

Aquariums As Space Dividers

If you want to create a dazzling space divider, a unique aquarium would be the right choice. A carefully planned aquatic habitat can be an attractive way of creating separate space units. Both sides of it will have a view of the fish as they swim. A carefully designed aquarium will become a soothing presence in the newly divided space.

Expert Aquarium Design

Many options are available when it comes to having an aquarium custom designed for your particular space. Stretch your imagination and discuss the possibilities of your custom aquarium design with a professional – here at Aquatech Aquarium Service, we have over 20 years of experience and can help you design the perfect aquarium for any environment.  The ideal tank awaits you.

A Filter to Maintain Clean Aquarium Water

An aquarium filterEvery aquarium owner should know the basics of aquarium maintenance.  A good working filter is important to any aquarium owner who wants to keep their fish happy and healthy. When the beginner fish-keeper starts out, they will find “filter” on the list of equipment to buy, and they will go along with that. But they may not understand just what the filter does, and what the options are.

What a Filter Is For

The primary function of an aquarium filter is to remove particles and chemical waste products that develop in a living environment. It is necessary to remove such substances to prevent the habitat from turning toxic to the fish. Additionally, clean, clear water is simply much more aesthetically pleasing. So choosing a filter that satisfies the basic needs is important.

Types of Filters

There are several types of filters to select from.

  • Air-driven internal filters
  • Undergravel filters
  • Internal power filters
  • Power filters
  • Canister filters
  • Wet/dry filters

Air-driven internal filters are suitable for small aquariums housing small fish. They work gently, and yet are powerful enough to keep the water conditions as they ought to be.  Because this type of filter is placed inside the tank, the aquarium can be placed close to walls, if space considerations are important. Internal power filters are a second type of filter suited for smaller tanks, like the air-driven internal filters. The provide good filtration and water circulation, as well as save space.

Undergravel filters are placed underneath a substrate of gravel. They pull the water through the gravel in order to do their work. They tend to be less expensive than other models. They rely on a powerhead or an air pump in order to work. They can be used for either large or small tanks, but are better if the fish population of the aquarium is small. In the case of such filters, the substrate needs to be positioned on a grid, to allow circulation through the filter.

The most common type of filter is the power filter. They deliver chemical, biological and mechanical filtration. They do hang on the outside of the aquarium, so the position of the tank has to accommodate them. Their external placement makes it easier to maintain the filter than other types of filters. It can also be used with a wide variety of fish.

Canister filters are larger than other types of filters. They can require more effort to maintain, but they provide exceptional filtering ability. They can provide superior filtration of biological, chemical and mechanical matter. Because they are multipurpose filters, they can be used for different types of aquariums, from freshwater planted aquariums to various saltwater types.

Wet/dry filters call for the most labor to set up, as the installation can be elaborate. They are great for aquariums containing only saltwater fish. They get their name from the fact that portions of the filter for the biological material are exposed both to the water and the air. This type of filter can be customized to the needs of a specific aquarium. They often are located under the aquarium, and require an overflow box.

Ask For Help

Any first-time fish owner can get aquarium maintenance advice and service from the knowledgeable experts at Aquatech Aquarium Service’s Los Angeles location.  We can help you select the best filter for the type of aquarium set-up that is desired. Although there are a variety of choices, anyone wanting to keep their fish alive will not skip the step of including a filter in their tank equipment.

Custom Aquariums to Delight You

Aquatech Aquariums specializes in custom aquariums, their design and maintenance. We can create a unique aquarium for you, or maintain one that you have had previously installed. There are new materials available that allow aquarium designers to create wonderful, interesting new shapes.

There are many shapes that can be chosen. You can select spherical, “bubble” tanks of several sizes. You could also request the tank be cylindrical, which would allow you to walk all the way around it. You could even have the tank built to fit a specific space in the office or home.

spherical bubble custom aquariums
This stunning, beautiful spherical “bubble” aquarium is serviced by Aquatech Aquariums

Sometimes when someone is contemplating a new aquarium for their home or office, even though they really want a uniquely shaped tank, they choose a conventional rectangular one because they worry about maintenance issues. But in using an aquarium maintenance service, who have experts capable of dealing with tanks of any shape, the ambitious aquarium owner can choose any exciting tank for their office or home.

spherical bubble aquarium
Get a closer look at this spherical aquarium serviced by Aquatech Aquariums.

Custom aquariums with unique designs require attentive maintenance.

The odd shapes of custom aquariums can provide challenges to the person doing the maintenance work. Keeping the sides of the tank clean, for instance may be a challenge if the shape is unusual. If the tank has live plants, it is also important that they stay healthy.

Whatever design you choose, if you also decide to hire a maintenance service, you will know that your attractive fish will be well taken care of. The conditions of the tank will always be maintained properly for the health of your fish.

Choosing an expert aquarium maintenance service can address these concerns. At Aquatech Aquariums, this is one of our specialties. We can provide you with ease of mind by taking on all the challenges of a uniquely shaped aquarium.

Something Fishy: The Beauty of Koi

outdoor koi pondMany people are fascinated by watching koi. The large decorative fish were bred from ordinary carp in Japan in the 1800s. The name “koi” comes from a Japanese term, nishikigoi, which literally means “brocaded carp.” The koi fanciers cultivated mutations in the fish for color, making the animals collectibles. The arrangement of ponds suitable for keeping the fish developed into an art of its own, for there are many considerations to be taken into account in building a suitable koi pond. The addition of a koi pond to a property adds a tranquil beauty to the setting.

The Fascination of Koi

Part of the fascination with these decorative carp comes from the size these fish can grow to. In ideal conditions in Japan, it is possible for koi to grow to a length of 37 inches. In the United States, with a more variable climate, they often grow to 27 inches. Age also contributes to the popularity of these fish, for the ordinary life expectancy can be around 50 years. That means that providing the fish is properly cared for and protected from predators, it could live for quite a long time. A famous koi named “Hanako” reportedly lived to be over 200 years old. It was, of course, owned by several people in the course of its life.

colorful koi fishOne thing that many people are not aware of is that these carp do not breed true for coloration and patterns.  If left to breed on their own, in a few short generations, the offspring will have reverted back to ordinary carp. This difficulty in fixing coloration contributes to the mystique of koi.  Koi fanciers look for certain combinations of color and markings. The usual colors are red, black, yellow, brown, blue, silver, gold, pine cone pattern, orange, gray, and white. The metallic colors tend to be solid, all over, while the other colors have a variety of marking combinations.

In addition to color, koi also have different types of scales. They are even given names, in order to help describe a particular fish. Scaled are the most common type, and they possess typical carp scales. Then there are Doitsu, which have scales only along the dorsal and lateral lines. Leather describes a fish that has no visible scales, except for the occasional presence of very small scales along the dorsal line alone. The last type of “scaling” is the Gin Rin, which refers to a normally scaled fish that has a mirror-like quality to the scales, and the scales are usually of a gold or silvery appearance.

The size and coloration of these carp are what fascinate people. We like to watch them swimming amongst the water plants in an appealingly designed pond. For the more ambitious owner, there might be the opportunity for competitive display. But for most, it is the pleasure of watching the sizable fish circulate in the clear water of the koi pond, giving hours of quiet pleasure.

Maintaining a koi pond’s pristine beauty is not an easy task, and is best left to experts who know how to clean and service the pond without disturbing the fish.  At Aquatech Aquarium Services (in Los Angeles), we have over 25 years of experience caring for aquarium and pond fish.  One of our specialized services is koi pond maintenance.  Give us a call at (310) 993-2183 – we would love to help you continue to enjoy your koi pond for years to come

Aquarium Therapy: Reduce Stress and Add Beauty

Harold Weiner and waiting room aquarium
Waiting room aquarium installed by Aquatech owner Harold Weinter

Anyone who has spent time near an aquarium knows the attraction of watching the fish move about in the water. Aquarium therapy begins by recognizing this attraction. The sinuous movements of the fish, the gentle flutter of the fins, these capture our attention in their graceful simplicity.

Aquarium Therapy for Home or Office

As it turns out, studies are beginning to show that this fascination can have therapeutic benefits to us. Nobody had thought to consider it until recently, but early studies indicate that having an aquarium around, particularly in a potentially stressful area like a medical waiting room, can help soothe the visitors.

Aquatech Aquarium Services has vast experience designing, installing, and maintaining office aquariums – as an example, check out the beautiful waiting room aquarium seen above.

Watching fish has been shown to reduce anxiety in waiting dental patients. Even watching a video of an aquarium can lower the pulse rate and muscular tension of elderly subjects. Other researchers have discovered that for those with Alzheimer’s, aquarium therapy with displays of bright colored fish can inspire improved eating habits and calm disruptive behavior.

waiting room aquarium therapyApparently, the size of the aquarium is not an issue in this benefit. A small aquarium can be as effective as a large one, so long as the fish has space to swim about in.

The possibility of coming home to such a soothing addition to the household can inspire even the most inexperienced-with-fish person to consider getting an aquarium. Smaller aquariums might be easier to maintain for such a beginner. There are aquarium maintenance and design experts who can help the novice in selecting the best one to suit experience, available time, and space. And if the prospective fish-owner chooses to go for a larger, saltwater system, and is concerned about maintenance, it is possible to hire maintenance services to help maintain the aquarium.

A wall aquarium divides space.A home aquarium can become not only a lovely focal point for a home, but also a stress-reducer for the residents. Even as short a span as five minutes gazing at a populated aquarium can help soothe irritated spirits. For people recovering from serious surgery, the undemanding interaction with fish provides an up-beat element to their day, helping them have a more positive outlook during the crucial period. Hyper-active children have been found to gain focus while engaged with fish in an aquarium. All because of those fascinating finned creatures in water in the transparent container.

The benefits of an aquarium in the home are more than just beauty and pleasure. There’s a calming therapy for those who have to wrestle with daily jobs and bills. A tank of fish can be a worthwhile expenditure for the psychological benefits that can come with it. Find out today if you can fit one into your own living space.

Getting to the Bottom Sand of Aquariums

aquarium with sand bottomIn choosing what will go into the bottom of the aquarium, there are two possible ways to go for the basic substance: gravel or sand. For the moment, let’s just consider sand and the options available.

For many aquarium owners, there’s a feeling that sand looks more natural, but there are considerations that have to be weighed in making that choice. Because an aquarium is a small, closed environment, the owner has to take good care to make sure the selection won’t create more problems than can be dealt with. There are several different types that can be chosen, but the owner needs to evaluate whether a specific type will suit the fish that will be living with it.

Maintaining a Sandy Bottom

One of the first things the aquarium owner needs to consider when choosing the sands for the bottom is the matter of simple maintenance. The biological debris from the fish will settle on the bottom and can easily sink into a sandy base to decompose. This decomposition will release gases that can get trapped in the sand. A sudden massive release of methane into the water would not be good for the finny residents. So the substrate will need to be stirred and turned over from time to time. Consider how much time you have to give to this activity. There are various means for handling this task, but it will require time and attention.

Type of Habitat

Another factor in choosing the material for the tank’s substrate is whether or not there will be live plants included. If so, the plants need to be carefully selected, as many will not thrive with a sandy bottom. The weight of the substrate will prevent the roots from gathering nourishment. Learn as much about the requirements for the plants if you want to have them in your sandy bottomed aquarium.

Chemical Balance

Some sands will slowly leach chemicals into the tank water, even after the sand has been washed and prepared for the aquarium. The type of sand needs to be evaluated for such possibilities and whether the fish that will be living in the aquarium can tolerate the additional chemicals or not. These considerations are not about pollution effects, by the way, but rather the make-up of the sand itself. The calcium from a limestone sand, for instance, might be detrimental to some fish.

Tropical fish in a colorful aquarium habitat.Types of Sand

There are several types of sand which can be used in aquariums. The steps to prepare the different sands might not be the same, but they are not difficult to learn. Silica, which is also used for sandblasting, is considered the easiest to clean. Play sand, which gets used for playground sand boxes and construction purposes, is easily found at hardware stores. It is more work to clean, however, and is darker in color than the silica sand.

Black Beauty is also easily available, but has some special considerations to it. It is in fact iron slag and not really a sand. The small particles have sharp edges to them, so if you have fish that like to sift substrate and move it about, this is not the ideal selection. Plus, being iron, it will react chemically to the water environment.

Three other sands that are frequently used in aquariums are Coral Sand, Aragonite, and Black Tahitian Moon Sand. These are somewhat more expensive and mostly available through fish shops and stores that service aquarium owners.

Making a Good Fish Habitat

In the end (or at the bottom), the choice of whether to use sand or not and which type if the choice is “yes” depends on the fish that will live with it and your ability to do the maintenance work.  But once the choice is made, a sandy substrate can provide a lovely, natural look to the tank.  If you’re curious and want more information about designing your own aquarium, whether you have questions about tank substrate or any other aspects of aquarium design or installation, check us out on our website  — we’ll be happy to help!