Jellyfish Are an Aesthetic Saltwater Delight

Aquarium jellyfishThe latest trend in ornamental saltwater aquariums, jellyfish provide an aesthetic delight for hobbyists with their mesmerizing forms and soothing movements. With the right setup, you can have these exotic creatures anywhere in your home.

It does require a lot more thought, however, than just setting up a standard aquarium, since jellyfish are such delicate organisms. If you follow these steps, you can successfully set up and enjoy your new jellyfish habitat for years to come.

Jellyfish have very specific requirements when it comes to establishing a compatible ecosystem. If you are setting up your own tank, pay particular attention to how the water moves in your tank. Jellyfish can easily be sucked into a filter and liquefied. If you’re not using a tank and filter setup that’s specifically designed for jellyfish, you’ll need to make several modifications.

Keep it simple

If you enjoy “aquascaping” then jellyfish are not for you. Decorations threaten the integrity of the jellyfish, literally. By necessity, their tanks must be plain.

Next, make sure you place your tank in a convenient location out of direct sunlight, away from heat sources and electrical equipment. Then, you can install the filter, following the instruction that came with it. You can use any aquarium filter designed for a tank of at least 8 gallons.

If using the kit filter, you need to remove the sponge filter from cellophane wrapping and rinse in fresh water. Then, lock the filter cartridge into the bubble tube by inserting the bubble tube into the cartridge and rotating. Lock the filter cartridge into the bottom of the tank by inserting it into the bottom of the tank and rotating. Plug the clear airline tube into the air pump.

Next, make sure you rinse the gravel in fresh water. Use aquarium gravel that is porous to keep helpful bacteria, which consume waste created by the jellyfish alive. Make sure you.

After you have covered the bottom of the aquarium evenly in gravel, add a layer of glass marbles to completely cover the gravel to protect the delicate jellyfish tissue from being torn on the gravel. Make sure the marbles cover all the gravel and the entire filtration cartridge.

Temperature is important for jellyfish

Now you can add the heater. Set it to 77 °F – the appropriate temperature for a tropical species, including the common Blue Jellyfish (Catostylus mosaicus) – and affix it to the inside of the tank so that it will be completely submerged.

Once that is done, you can fill the tank with salt water. In the kit tank, the water level needs to be 2 inches (5.1 cm) above the top of the bubble tube for proper water circulation, but below the light bulb housing, so the water does not get over-heated by the light. The safest bet is to buy salt water from your local aquarium store to ensure it has the right pH and salinity. at this point, you should plug the light, pump and heater into an electrical outlet and make sure those components power up correctly.

Now it is time to establish the bacterial colony. If you are using a kit, it should contain Stress Coat and Stress Zyme, which contain helpful bacteria that will colonize your filter. The bacteria digest the waste from the jellyfish. You will need to feed the bacteria before adding any live animals to the tank; otherwise, the tank will accumulate biological waste, which contains poisonous ammonia.

The kit also should contain a bottle of Cycle Starter, and you will need to add the entire bottle. Cycle Starter contains the ammonia excreted by animal as waste and digested by filtering bacteria as food. Run the tank for 7 days. During this time, the bacteria colony will grow in your tank.

Before you add your jellyfish, you will need to check that water for ammonia levels, salinity and temperature. If those elements are well within specifications, you can add jellyfish!

A Plethora of Possibilities for Perfect Plantlife

java fern in aquarium
Java Fern

Everybody loves the look of real plantlife in freshwater aquariums, especially newbies who are just getting their feet wet (pun intended!) in the hobby. But the big question is this: What kinds of plants are best suited for the beginning aquarist?

One can find a wide variety of plants at your local store, but which ones are best?

Well, here’s our take on things. The following five plant species are fairly simple to grow and maintain, and can make even the most rank beginner’s tank look like a miniature ocean forest with a minimum of expense. Plus, if you stick to these five, you likely will avoid wasting money on plants that just won’t work.

Best plantlife bets for beginners

The Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus) tops our list, largely due to the fact that it does not require gravel or sediment, or even high-intensity light to grow. In fact, for this species, less is more when it comes to light. You could even make your entire tank a java fern forest, if that suits your taste. This species is sometimes seen attached to driftwood and rock in planted aquariums. One issue though is the Java fern’s slow rate of growth, so you will want to plant it first, before you put any other plants around it.

Another great low-light plant with which beginners will find success is Wisteria (Hygrophilous difformis). Wisteria needs to be planted in gravel or sediment, though it can survive if not planted. A very fast-growing plant, wisteria is well-equipped to out-compete algae, as it reproduces at a relatively fast rate and usually requires regular pruning to keep it from overtaking your aquarium.

The only reason Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana) isn’t at the top of this list is because it is a challenge to grow for even the most experiences freshwater fish hobbyist. It does not require substrate or high intensity lighting, but once it has established itself and is flourishing in your tank, it can become obnoxious and take over your tank. Java moss requires continuous maintenance in the beginning, allowing you to create a lush garden in only a few months. It is a great plant for hiding aquarium equipment in the tank, too.

Here’s one every beginner can grow: Anubias (Anubias nana). It does require you plant it in a gravel bed, but it doesn’t require high-intensity lighting or any specific water conditions. It can, in fact, even prosper out of the water. Anubias prefers water movement around its rhizomes and it is highly susceptible to beard algae, a brownish/greenish algae that takes over the leaves. The biggest negative for this species is its slow rate of growth. So you should prune lightly and only when you absolutely have to trim.

Also known at “turtle grass,” Anacharis (Egeria densa) is a low-light plant that can either be free floating or planted in the gravel. The invasive nature of this species makes it a difficult find in hobby stores, but if you do find it, take heart in knowing that it grows relatively quickly compared to anubias and java fern.

All this plantlife will prosper in a aquarium that has a pH range between 5 and 9. CO2 injection is not required and most of these plants can be found in any local pet store. Follow this list and your new aquarium will look amazing!

Creating a Tropical Aquarium Paradise

Aquarium habitat choicesWhen you think about a tropical aquarium, after you have chosen the fish you want to inhabit your new environment, your mind has to immediately go to the decorations, right?

Certainly, decorations are a key requirement, but they add to the aesthetic appeal of your tank and at the same time, they add a sense of security by providing a safe place for your fish to hide out from time to time.

Here’s where it gets fun … and frustrating! The selection of decoration is seemingly endless: live or fake plants? Real or fake rocks? And which ornaments should you choose? Do I need a castle? Or maybe a treasure chest?

Choices, choices, choices for the tropical aquarium

Whatever your decisions, make sure you check with your tropical aquarium professional to make sure your choices are safe for your particular type or tank. Here is some basic information about some of the key ingredients you will be considering as you decorate your tank:

Substrate: While a substrate is not required for most fish, it really adds to the aesthetics and most hobbyists choose to include substrate in their tanks to provide that “ocean floor” look. Gravel tops the list here as it comes in a variety of shapes sizes and colors. Most hobbyists find the medium-sized gravel to be the best choice, but some gravitate toward the smaller gravel in planted tanks. Stay away from the large gravel as it can trap food, waste and even small fish.

Decorative Aquarium Stones: You can collect stone for your tank yourself if you like, though there are plenty of stones collected commercially to provide a wide array of choices. As long as the stones you use are natural (as in found in nature and not man-made) you can use lava rock, slate, river rock, quartz and petrified wood. Other rocks you may find attractive are glass and ice rock, river pebbles, pagoda rock, zebra rock, honey onyx, rainbow rock and red desert rock.

Your stones will need to be sterilized before you put them into the tank, but a good bath in boiling water will take care of that.

Lace rock is also a popular choice, though it does come with some disadvantages. It’s plethora of crevasses and craters give lace rock a three-dimensional appearance, but it is sharp to the touch, and it is a challenge to removed algae accumulations from it.

Ceramics: Ok, let the debate begin! Opinions vary among hobbyists about the appropriateness and suitability of ceramic objects as aquarium ornaments, from a safety standpoint. But the bottom line is, some objects are perfectly fine while others are not as they leech metals toxic to the fish as their finish deteriorates. The key is finding ceramics that are labeled “dinnerware safe.” Such objects are glazed and fired using techniques and solvents that will not dissolve in acidic conditions. These meet strict standards designed to protect us from accidental poisoning, and the same will keep your fish safe too.

A simple test will confirm is your piece is safe. Simply take some vinegar and dilute it to a pH of 5, which is what one can reasonably expect their tank’s environment to be under the most extreme aquarium situation. Submerge part of the ornament in question and wait. After a month examine the glaze on the object and compare the acid treated portion to the part unexposed to the vinegar. If it still shines, it’s ok for your tank.

Un-glazed pieces are also suitable, such as terracotta pots. Just make very sure they are not glazed or painted. Broken pieces of pots are suitable too, but be very careful about using pieces with extremely sharp edges as they can injure both you and your fish.

Driftwood: You can find natural driftwood, another decoration that can add character to an tropical aquarium, in a variety of locations, such as alongside rivers and streams. Check with your local aquarium shop as well, as they certainly will have several types of exotic imported and artificial driftwood available.

Artificial Plants: Advances in technology have brought the art of artificial plant making to a whole new level. And the advantage here is artificial plants are so much easier to keep alive! As you pick out your artificial plants, choose plants of varying heights, leaf shapes, and colors, and use tall plants to hide lift tubes and heaters. You can put a couple of medium-height plants in the center of your tank, and use the short ones for accenting rocks and driftwood.

As with all things, just use your common sense in deciding how much and what kinds of decorations you want to use in your new tank. And have fun making your tank a unique environment fitting your own décor and taste.