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.

5 Great Android Apps for Aquarium Maintenance

aquarium maintenanceA custom aquarium is a fascinating addition to any home. Aquarium fish swimming back and forth are a mesmerizing and captivating show. Aquarium maintenance is important, however. You’ll need a regular schedule for feeding the fish, and also for cleaning the tank and filters. You must also know when to add chemicals if necessary, and how much to add.

Not to worry. Help, advice, and even reminders for everyday aquarium maintenance are only a tap away. There are several apps for your Android phone or tablet that can ease your aquarium maintenance chores. With these apps, you be on the right track to a fabulous aquarium. Here are five free Android apps you can use to stay up to date with your aquarium maintenance:

Aquarium Note

The designers created Aquarium Note for both freshwater and saltwater aquarium hobbyists. If you enjoy keeping aquarium fish, aquatic plants and corals, this app is for you. It helps you record and keep track of water parameters, aquarium maintenance activities, and more. You can also keep track of your aquarium fish and their health. The app also reminds you when it’s time to perform aquarium maintenance, like changing the water or cleaning the tank or filters. The app can even export your data to email, the web, or to a .pdf file. That way, you can always keep tabs on your saltwater or freshwater aquariums no matter where you are.
Get the app here

Aquarium Manager

A freshwater or saltwater aquarium requires regular maintenance. Like most things, it’s easy for chores like these to slip your mind from time to time. Aquarium Manager helps you schedule regular maintenance and feeding tasks in advance. The app also gives you tips on aquarium fish management and feeding, water quality, and more. You can keep a daily diary of your saltwater or freshwater aquarium right on your phone. You can even take photos of your aquarium, so you can share it with your friends and family.
Get the app here

Aquarium Calculator

This app is a set of tools for new and custom aquariums alike. It calculates tank volume, surface area, and water weight for any type or shape aquarium. You can calculate CO2 and water hardness using common unit conversions. This calculator comes in handy if you need to know how much water you will need for a certain size or custom aquarium design. It  also helps give an estimate of how much the water in the tank will weigh. This is useful to know when placing a new aquarium on a shelf or hutch.
Get the app here

Aquarium Advice

AquariumAdvice.com is an active forum that fellow aquarium owners staff and maintain. It offers up-to-date information on just about anything related to aquarium maintenance. The app helps diagnose problems with your fish or plants. You can read and post reviews of aquariums, filters, and more. The app makes it easy to browse through the forums for whatever aquarium maintenance information you need. It can even help you become an active member of the AquariumAdvice.com owner community.
Get the app here

Fish Lore Aquarium Forum

FishLore.com is another aquarium fish website with an active, fun and friendly forum. This app lets you browse through the forums on your Android device. Express yourself and join the community of freshwater and saltwater aquarium owners. The forum has lots of knowledge, tips, and advice for owners of both saltwater aquariums and freshwater aquariums.
Get the app here

Apps Make Maintenance Easier

These Android phone apps make your aquarium maintenance and fish-keeping tasks easier to handle. They also offer advice and tips from other fishkeeping enthusiasts just like you. They make it easier to join a community of like-minded freshwater or saltwater aquarium owners. The app can even take pictures of your fabulous aquarium fish so you can show them off to your friends and family.

Of course, for the best tips and advice on aquarium maintenance, it’s always best to speak with a professional. The experts at Aquatech Aquarium Service in Culver City have tons of knowledge and experience. You can even use your new apps to keep track of scheduling regular aquarium cleaning sessions from Aquatech, and spend more time simply enjoying your aquarium!

Show Your Fish Some Love With These Aquarium Maintenance Tips for Newbies

aquarium maintenance from aquatech aquarium serviceYour fish will love their new home if you set up your aquarium the right way. Many new fish keepers are in a rush, and feel that they have to get started with their new aquarium immediately. It’s common to head down to the local fish store and purchase an aquarium, fish, and supplies in one stop. But in order to have a thriving aquarium, some factors must be taken into consideration before the aquarium is installed. A fish keeper should also plan on a regular schedule of aquarium maintenance. To keep your cleaning chores to a minimum, follow these handy tips during setup:

Location, Location, Location!

It’s important to choose your aquarium’s location wisely. Experts advise a quiet area to get the best results. Too much activity nearby might scare your fish, especially as they get used to their new environment. Scared fish are not happy fish.

It is also a good idea to keep your aquarium completely covered. This ensures your fish remain inside of your tank, and help to reduce loss of water due to evaporation and splash. It also reduces the overall amount of aquarium maintenance needed. If you have kids or pets, keeping your tank closed will also help keep small hands and paws out.

Avoid placing your aquarium in direct sunlight, or exposed to very strong light sources. This can create heat issues, and can also lead to unwanted algae growth inside the tank. Algae buildup can starve the tank’s water of oxygen, making it difficult for fish to breathe properly. The buildup also makes aquarium maintenance more time consuming and difficult.

Creating an Ecosystem

When starting a new aquarium, keep in mind that an aquarium is more than just a box of fish. Both freshwater aquariums and saltwater aquariums are living, thriving, ecological systems. A fish keeper creates this environment specifically for the particular underwater creatures that inhabit it. That means that the water must be as close to the fishes natural environment as a fish keeper can make it.

Aquarium maintenance must include water quality checks. You can purchase packets to add to an aquarium’s water to treat it properly. These packets contain the necessary chemicals and micro-organisms needed to re-create the aquatic environment that fishes prefer. It also pays to avoid being in a rush. Allowing an aquarium to run for a few days to a week is recommended to prepare the tank to take on fish.

Digging Your Gravel

An aquarium needs more than just water. It needs a gravel, sand, or other material to serve as a base. Gravel is ideal, because it can be easily cleaned, and it does not need to be every replaced as often as sand. Remember, with regular aquarium maintenance, the gravel must be cleaned, or sand changed at least twice a month. This ensures that toxic elements like algae, fish poop, old fish food, and other debris don’t remain in the water where they can harm your undersea creatures.

A Word About Decor

Adding decorations and a background is always fun. It creates a lively environment for your fish to thrive, and improves the overall visual effect. Your local aquarium maintenance or fish store usually has plenty of decorations on display for you to purchase. Natural objects such as coral, live plants, and shells also make wonderful additions to any display.

Keep in mind that any decorations must be rinsed thoroughly before placing them in the tank. This removes any traces of chemicals or debris created during the manufacturing process. When adding live plants, always make sure that the tank is at least half full to avoid damaging them. Place larger decorations to the rear of the tank and smaller ones towards the front. That will create a nice open swimming area for your fish to roam around in.

Filtering the Possibilities

An efficient filter plays a very important role in aquarium maintenance. The filter keeps the water in aquarium clean and free of toxic chemicals. A properly sized filter is important to maintain the health of fish.

Filters usually perform three separate stages of filtration to keep an aquarium supplied with the right balance of chemicals and flora. Mechanical filtration helps trap solid particles such as fish poop and uneaten food. Chemical filtration uses blocks or pads of material such as carbon to absorb pollutants that cause odors and discolored water. Biological filtration introduces cultures of beneficial bacteria to an aquarium tank to eliminate the toxic ammonia and nitrates that accumulates in the water.

Aquariums Just Need a Little Love

Keeping an aquarium is very rewarding, but it also requires regular aquarium maintenance. Remember to change the water at least once every two weeks.  Clean the gravel or change the sand to improve the look of the aquarium. Clean or replace the filter. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, call  Aquatech Aquarium Service for the best, most convenient aquarium maintenance anywhere. Your fish will thank you for it!

Where There’s a Gill…

A healthy goldfish shows off its gill.The gill is a very important organ in any tropical freshwater fish. For humans the act of breathing happens in the lungs. The exchange of carbon dioxide gas for oxygen gas is an important function for all living creatures. But aquarium fish do not have lungs as humans do. Instead, they have filaments on either side of their throat: the gills.

How the Gill Works

Although most people are aware that fish use their gills for breathing, these organs do much more than simple gas exchange. As the water moves over the filaments of the gills, they exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. Fish take water in by the mouth and push it outward over the filaments of the gill. The delicate structure of the gills of aquarium fish makes them very important for maintaining the health of your fish.

Gills and Fish Health

There are a number of ailments that fish in freshwater aquariums can suffer affecting the gills. Columnaris (also called Cotton Wool Disease) may leave yellowish gray patches on the gills. Velvet or Gold Dust Disease can leave gold to white spots on the fish, and the animal can have difficulty breathing because of damage to their gills. Parasites such as copepods can also damage the gills. Ammonia poisoning causes the gills to become red or bloody, leaving the fish gasping for air. Fortunately, all of these can be treated if caught quickly enough.

Keeping the Fish Breathing

Good aquarium maintenance is the most certain way of preventing these ailments from damaging your fish’s gills.  Some of the ailments mentioned above require medications for the fish in order to combat the ailment. Something like ammonia poisoning can be remedied by improving your cleaning routines and making sure tank filters are working properly. Some of the diseases are contagious, however, and  a full cleaning and disinfecting of the tank may be necessary, in order to keep all your fish healthy.

Making sure that regular maintenance of your aquarium is very important for the health of your fish. How frequently you do a thorough cleaning of your tank can depend on the size of the aquarium. If you do not feel confident about your own ability to do the cleaning, especially if you are dealing with the aftermath of a contagious fish disease, look to an aquarium cleaning service like Aquatech Aquarium Service for expert help and advice.

Careful attention to your fish can ensure they get proper care and thrive. Make note of whether there seems to be discoloration around your fish’s gills or if they seem to be having a hard time breathing. If you notice that one of your fish is ailing contact experts to determine what specifically you need to do to bring them back to good health.

Reverse Osmosis Can Create the Perfect Aquatic Habitat

clean water filtered by reverse osmosis makes for a beautiful aquariumIt is a basic truth of life on Planet Earth that clean, pure water is a priority for most all living things. This is particularly true for almost all fish and plants. When it comes to providing them with a proper environment, it is very possible the water that comes from the faucet in your home doesn’t have the right stuff for the inhabitants of your aquarium. It might even be toxic. The good news is, there is a rather simple solution: a Reverse Osmosis (RO) unit.

An RO unit can filter out up to 99 percent of the chemicals normally found in the water that comes from the tap by forcing it through a semi-permeable membrane. The semi-permeable reverse osmosis membrane only allows very small molecules (such as the water molecule H2O) to pass through it, effectively removing most water impurities including agricultural chemicals, arsenic , pesticides, and heavy metals, like lead and iron.

If you are a freshwater hobbyist, using an RO unit will result in water without both general and carbonate hardness, creating an environment where trace elements and electrolytes can be added to match the natural water conditions of our fish. It also allows you to use buffers to set the water’s pH wherever you wish.

For the saltwater hobbyist, an RO unit will remove a variety of chemical that likely could cause problems. Unfortunately, the standard reverse osmosis membrane does not remove nuisance chemicals like phosphate, nitrate, or silicates, all deemed undesirable because they contribute to algae growth (a big headache on its own!). So a Hi-S membrane, which is less permeable than standard RO membranes, will take care of the silicates, and adding a final-stage deionization (DI) cartridge handles the phosphates, resulting in the best possible water for your environment.

Maintaining your Reverse Osmosis unit is important

Regular maintenance of the RO unit requires replacement of the sediment pre-filter and carbon block. The manufacturer suggests replacing these cartridges after producing 1000 gallons of RO water. This is gauged by watching the pre-filter and noticing any color deviation from its original color. The semi-permeable membrane needs replacing after approximately three years. You can increase the life of the membrane by utilizing the optional RO flush kit.

So, now the question is, which RO unit is right for me and my aquarium setup? There are five simple questions you should ask when choosing an RO unit starting with what do I want to remove from my tap water? Does my water contain chlorine? Knowing the answer to these first two questions will help you answer the other three: How many filtration stages do I actually require? How many gallons per day (GPD) of purified water do I need? and What type of membrane do I need?

How much filtration do you need?

Ok, so, now let’s look at filtration. Various RO units feature a different number of filtration stages. Generally speaking, they vary from two-stage filtration to four-stage filtration, and depending on your needs, each accomplishes different levels of water purification.

A two-stage RO unit is generally light and compact, which makes it much easier for storage and transport. They contain a small inline pre-filter and the RO membrane. This is an excellent choice if space is limited, and is a good value at an economical price.

Three-stage RO units are larger, and employ carbon or sediment pre-filters to protect the delicate RO membranes. These are higher in quality, more durable, and thus are an excellent choice for regular use.

By adding deionization to the equation, the four-stage RO unit will remove the small amount of contaminants that remain, resulting in a purity level in excess of 99.9 percent, the highest level of water filtration you can get!

Overall, RO units definitely benefit your fish and plants by removing impurities in your water. Knowing how many impurities your water contains, helps you determine the best RO unit for your aquarium.

Choosing Aquarium Plants

live plants in an aquariumSelecting live plants for your aquarium depends on whether you will have a freshwater tank or a marine one. Some aquarium plants will thrive only in freshwater, while others are needed in the diets of some marine fish. Everything about an aquarium habitat affects other aspects of it. The type of fish you choose determines the volume of water and its salinity, as well as the types of live plants you include.

The Benefits of Live Aquarium Plants

The benefits of adding live plants to your aquarium are that they give the environment a natural looking appearance.  The fish respond favorably to the more natural habitat, which helps keep them healthy. Additionally, live plants help oxygenate the water. They can even absorb nitrates, thus helping keep the whole system in balance.

Knowledge Helps in Selection

It is important that you learn about the aquarium plants you select, however. Some will live totally submersed only for a limited period, and then die. When that happens, the plants must be removed so that the rotting vegetation does not contaminate the tank water.  In a marine aquarium, you are most likely choose either a sea grass or a macro algae. Unlike the sea grass, macro algae lack true roots. Instead of roots, the algae secure themselves with rhizomes or holdfasts with individual runners supporting the growth.

Some marine fish and invertebrates definitely need live plants in the aquarium habitat. There are fish that are not comfortable in open spaces, and so require vegetation as part of their environment. Others need plants as part of their diet. Considering all these aspects as you plan your aquarium will lead to a combination of fish and plants that will be healthy for the fish and a pleasure for you for a long time to come.

Live aquarium plants

Getting Expert Help

Pay attention to the needs of your choice of fish, and then learn what you will need to do in order to maintain the plant-life in your tank. Don’t over-crowd the aquarium with vegetation. Seek advice from an expert about which specific plants will best serve the fish you intend to keep. Enjoy the graceful beauty of live plants in your aquarium, whether you choose freshwater or saltwater.

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.

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.