Aquarium Fish Health: White Spot Disease Symptoms And Cures

Fish death is one of the main problems that beginner aquarist and even some expert aquarist face. It’s frustrating to the extent that most quit keeping aquarium fish.

But fish death can be avoided. Most fish deaths are caused as a result of both an internal and external types parasites that compete with the fish in tank.

As a result if you watch your aquarium fish often you should be able to discover when they have been infected by this parasite and be able to treat them to avoid fish death.

Look out for the following White Spot disease behavioral symptoms in your fish.

– Constant lying on the bottom or hanging at the surface.

– Rubbing of the body against rock

– Gasping at the water surface

– No response to feeding

– General dullness and lethargy

– Hovering in a corner

– Fish swimming with clamps up

White spot disease

The most common of the visible signs is the development of the pin head-size while spots on the body or fins. This ailment is referred to as White Spot disease and is caused by the parasite – Ichthyophthirius Multifillis.

This parasite has a free-swimming stage, which attaches itself to the fish. The most common chemical used in treating infected fishes is Methylene Blue. You could buy a one per cent stock solution from a reputable chemist or aquarium shop and apply at 0.8 to 1.0ml per gallon of water. This amount should be added all at once. Repeat after one or two days.

The fishes must remain in this bath until every while spot has disappeared. A water change after treatment is necessary or else prolonged contact with the chemical may affect the fertility of the fish.

Another tip if you are using a side filter with activated charcoal should remove it to prevent the coal from absorbing the Methylene Blue.

Another tip… during treatment you should use artificial aeration with coarse bubbles near the surface, since a dirty bottom would inactivate the medicament by absorption. A better measure is to remove all dirt from the bottom before treatment.

Methylene Blue is harmless to young fish and unlike the general belief, it does not affect plants if used in weaker concentration.

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Aquarium Fish Health: Dealing With Cotton Mouth Disease (Mouth Fungus)

Cotton Mouth disease also know as Mouth Fungus is a disease your fish can get and it needs to be dealt with quickly. Cotton Mouth disease is not as common as the while spot disease, but, it is highly infectious and contagious.

Cotton Mouth Disease

The victim fish shows a whitish fungus round the cheeks and lips. The lips may become swollen and rot away. Sometimes a rotten strip of lip attached only at one end will move in and out of the mouth as the fish breathes.

Fish infected with Mouth Fungus lose their appetite and their movement become sluggish. If no adequate treatment is given, the whole frontal part of the head may be eaten away finally and the fish dies.

Unless the affected fish is of consideration value, it should be killed before this fatal disease attack sthe other occupants, of the tank. Think about it… is trying to save the life of one fish worth risking the death of the rest of the fish in your aquarium?

But if you insist on keeping the fish or in case the infection has already been passed on to other occupants, the following treatment is advised:

– Swabbing the mouth of the victim fish with a soft cloth dipped in strong salt solution. Then you must then keep the patreat isolated in a bucket or jar containing a strong salt water.

– Try swabbing the lips with a 5 per cent silver mercury preparation.

– Make a solution of Terramycin or Aureomycuin by dissolving 50mg per gallon of water, a rapid cure is expected within 48 hours.

You can try all of the above remedies, but the most common remedy is the popular Methylene blue solution. To perform this remedy the sick fish should be placed in a jar, bucket or a treatment tank into which has been added a methylene per blue to colour the water deep blue.

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The Swim Bladder Disease

Do some of your fishes seem to be staying at the water all of the time? Whenever they try to swim downwards, do they seem to float back to the water surface? Or sometime they’ll even swim upside down as if they’re dead. If so, they might be suffering from a swim bladder disease/disorder! Of course, this does not apply to natural water surface dwellers.

The Swim Bladder Disease
What is a swim bladder?
Also known as the gas bladder or air bladder, it is an internal organ of a fish that controls its buoyancy. It is a gas-filled sac with walls that are impermeable to gases. By controlling the amount of gas in this sac, the fish is able to control its buoyancy.

There can be different causes, and different causes require different treatment.

Bacteria – A bacteria attack could cause inflammation at the epithelium of the sac, making the sac walls too thick for proper gas diffusion. Thus, the fish is now stuck at certain buoyancy, making swimming very difficult.

Diet – Feeding low-quality food that soaks up water and expand inside the fish can cause food impactions.

Shape of fish – Globoid-shaped fishes such as the Pearlscale Goldfish are especially prone to the swim bladder disorder due to their guts being all squashed up in their abdomen.

First, tend to your water’s quality. Making sure the water quality is top-notch allows us to assume that it is not a bacteria attack. But if you strongly suspect it to be the cause, then do visit your local pet shop for an appropriate medication. For treatment towards the other forms of cause, first stop feeding the sick fishes for a few days. Fishes can go without food for up to 10 days, so stopping a few days is really all right. After the few days, if the fishes do not get better, try feeding peas. Yes, peas that we eat. This treatment is being recommended by many and is well worth a try. The peas will supposedly encourage the destruction of impactions.
Remember, always keep your water condition good and feed sparingly. This will keep the occurrences of swim bladder diseases to a minimum.

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Blue Lobsters Are Real!

Lobsters are supposed to be red right? … Well, yes and no.


Most live american lobsters are naturally colored an olive green or mottled dark greenish brown. In rare cases, lobsters come in shades of bright blue, white (albino), yellow, black, and red have been reported from time to time. Perhaps the most unusual colors are the “half-and-half” lobsters with a line straight down their backs where the two colors meet.

The major pigment in a lobster’s shell, astaxanthin, is actually bright red in its free state; but in the lobster’s shell astaxanthin is chemically bound to proteins that change it to a greenish color. When lobsters are cooked, heat breaks down these bonds, freeing the astaxanthin so that it reverts to its normal red color.

american lobsters

So how does a lobster turn bright blue?
A genetic defect has been found that causes a blue lobster to produce an excessive amount of protein. The protein wraps around a small, red carotenoid molecule known as as astaxanthin. The two push together, forming a blue complex known as crustacyanin which often gives the lobster shell a bright blue color. About one in a million lobsters are blue, but when cooked, it turns red like the other lobsters.

It has been suggested that more than ‘one in a million’ lobsters born are blue, but many do not survive because their bright blue shell brings too much attention to themselves, making them a prime target for predators. Scientists also believe that blue lobsters tend to be more aggressive than their normal colored counterparts. Since they don’t easily blend in, they have adapted and changed to be more aggressive to protect themselves.

The blue lobster is truly another gift from Mother Nature that most people never see. Many professional lobstermen go through their whole lobstering career without catching or even seeing a blue lobster. Those that do have the privilege of catching one, are amazed and excited as it is seen as a once-in-a-lifetime event and feel a sense of awe when they experience seeing the strikingly beautiful blue lobster for the first time. Those that are caught are not normally eaten, but rather given to aquariums and educational institutions and kept on display in tanks for others to admire.

Taxonomy of Homarus americanus:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Crustacea
Order: Decapoda
Suborder: Macrura reptantia
Family: Nephrodidae
Genus: Homarus
Species: americanus

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Fantastic Diving Spots Down Under

Whether you’re an amateur diver, or an experienced one looking for a new challenge, you’ll want to visit Australia so that you can dive along the Great Barrier Reef. The Barrier Reef is 1,250 miles long and stretches from New Guinea to Queensland. Diving in this area of the world is an experience that you won’t forget since it’s filled with the wonder of natural elements combined with some of the most amazing sea creatures of the world.

The Great Barrier Reef is made up of over 2,000 individual smaller reefs. Islands made of coral are dotted throughout the reef, creating a wonderful spectacle of color and light throughout the ocean.

There are many sea animals that make their home on the Great Barrier Reef. Diving in these warm waters will give you a front seat to watch fish swim among the coral. You’ll want to make sure that you take along an under water camera so that you don’t miss this amazing opportunity.

There are many diving areas in the region, so when you reach Australia, you will want to consider which sites are right for your vacation diving experience.

One of the most popular diving places in Australia is Pixie Pinnacle, which can be found near Lizard Island. Pixie Pinnacle is comprised of a large coral, over ninety feet in height. The types of sea creatures that you’ll see on this dive include clownfish, rabbitfish, lionfish, nudibranches, and honfish. If you look out past the Great Barrier Reef you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the Coral Sea.

Cod Hole is another diving location near Lizard Island. The creatures that inhabit that area are moray eels, the Napoleon wrasse, and large schools of cod.

Yongala Wreck is another very popular diving site. This site boasts of livelier sea creatures and is located south from Cod Hole by 200 miles. In this area of The Great Barrier Reef, the coral is thick and this makes it a great hiding place for eagle rays, jacks, flowery cod, and the barramundi cod. For those who are riding on good luck – you may feast your eyes on turtles in this area.

No matter where you’re diving in the Great Barrier Reef make sure that you dive safely and follow marine rules. One of the most important things that you need to remember is that coral is a living animal and therefore needs to be treated with respect. Also keep in mind that both coral and sea animals can be harmed from sand that is displaced from your fin wash, therefore keep an eye on where you’re diving at all times.

Don’t make it a habit to feed any of the sea animals that you encounter during your dives. As dumb as fish may seem they can become repeat pests when you feed them. This has the potential to make the fish react to all divers in an aggressive manner. You’ll be seeing a lot of beautiful coral, shells, and rocks while you’re diving. Removing these items will ruin the environment for the animals that live in that area so be sure not to take back any souvenirs of your dive that aren’t pictures that you took with your under water camera.

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Pleasure Diving On The Reefs Of Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the premier diving locations of the world. It makes no difference if you’re an amateur or a seasoned diver, you will definitely want to make this a planned event any time you visit Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is 1,250 miles in length and runs from Queensland to New Guinea. You won’t believe all the natural wonders and spectacular sea animals that you’ll see.

The Great Barrier Reef is made up of over 2,000 individual smaller reefs. Islands made of coral are dotted throughout the reef, creating a wonderful spectacle of color and light throughout the ocean.

There are many sea animals that make their home on the Great Barrier Reef. Diving in these warm waters will give you a front seat to watch fish swim among the coral. You’ll want to make sure that you take along an under water camera so that you don’t miss this amazing opportunity.

Australia offers many diving opportunities and a wide variety of places to choose from. When on a dive holiday, it is better to be forearmed with information so as to get the diving experience that you want.

Pixie Pinnacle is one of the most popular locations and it’s near Lizard Island. Large coral makes up Pixie Pinnacle and some of them are over ninety feet tall. Among the diverse sea creatures you’re sure to see are clownfish, rabbitfish, lionfish, nudibranches, and honfish. As you gaze past the Great Barrier Reef you may even view the Coral Sea.

Lizard Island has another famous diving spot – ‘Cod Hole’. Some of the sea animals that can be seen when on a dive off Cod Hole are the moray eel, the Napoleon wrasse, and large groups of cod – that is from where this spot gets its name.

If you want a slightly more active area, consider diving at Yongala Wreck. Head south 200 miles from Cod Hole and you’ll discover some of the thickest coral in the Great Barrier Reef. It provides hiding spots for eagle rays, jacks, flowery cod, and the barramundi cod. With luck you’ll run into some sea turtles as well.

No matter where you’re diving in the Great Barrier Reef make sure that you dive safely and follow marine rules. One of the most important things that you need to remember is that coral is a living animal and therefore needs to be treated with respect. Also keep in mind that both coral and sea animals can be harmed from sand that is displaced from your fin wash, therefore keep an eye on where you’re diving at all times.

As a must not do, do not ever feed any of the sea animals that you encounter during your dives. Fish are known to become repeat pests when you feed them and can therefore, make them react aggressively to all divers. Dive to savor these wonders with your eyes and make sure you do not seek souvenirs. The beautiful coral, shells, and rocks that you see maintain the environmental balance for the animals that live in that area. Just give yourself the luxury of trapping all these wonders in an under water camera.

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Starting with a Water Garden

Gardening is one of our primordial fascinations. For thousands of years humans have gardened and for most of that time a major part of our diet came out of our gardens. As we became better at feeding ourselves, we also gained the time to indulge in activities that weren’t directly linked to our very survival. Flowers, ornamental shrubs, decorative trees all became a part of gardening for beauty and pleasure.

Water Garden

Water is a source of life. We are actually composed of 50 to 70 percent water and without water we can die in hours or a few days – far faster than from lack of food. Throughout history, water has been a necessity, even a source of warfare. We find comfort in sights and sounds associated with water, whether the source is the sea, a lake, river, stream or pond. I believe that the sense of comfort and relaxation most of us feel around water is deeply embedded in our being.

Water gardens of various kinds have a long history. From elaborate fountains with statuary to the simplest aquarium (yes, I include aquariums as a form of water garden despite the usual focus on the critters rather than the overall concept), water gardening is an ancient activity.

Currently, water gardening is considered a new trend for some reason. I’d guess this has to do partly with advances in technology, the widening availability of pre-constructed ponds and pumping systems, a growing awareness of the alternative forms gardens can take, and the fact that presenting something as new and trendy often improves sales.

Water gardening can be done using waterfalls and streams, ponds, fountains, and containers of various kinds some of which are as simple as a small indoor fountain with a recycling pump. The variety goes on and on and most can be further enhanced through using rock work combinations, various types of lighting both above and below the water surface (or behind a waterfall), plants, and, of course, fish or other water dwellers.

Water gardening doesn’t require a pond or natural water source either. It can consist of just a plastic tub, basically anything that can hold water. Many garden supply outlets can provide anything from the most basic setup to incredibly sophisticated water gardens consisting of waterfalls, pools and streams (with or without bridges).

The very first thing to consider is your budget since that will place some limits on how ambitious a project you can undertake. Water gardening can get expensive if you decide on a big garden full of plants, rocks, fish, and lights. Next you need to consider how much space you have available for a water garden. You probably won’t want a 15 foot waterfall with a 200 foot stream and a half acre pond in a suburban backyard. Be reasonable in what you choose as a first project, but also keep in mind the possibility of extending your water garden later. Size also affects the amount of maintenance your water garden will require.

If you plan to include fish and plants, you’ll want to choose a location with sufficient direct sunlight. Remember that if the garden is located close to trees and bushes, leaves and debris will end up in the water and need to be cleaned out regularly.

When you choose aquatic plants, don’t forget that the plants should, at most, cover about half of the water. Plants can be free floating, submerged, or marginal (near or at the edges). The types you choose are up to you. Some may be good for their scent, some are simply beautiful, and some plants provide more oxygen than others which helps keep the pool healthy. As well as being pleasant to watch, fish will assist in keeping debris to a minimum and in insect control.

Algae can be a major difficulty in water gardening. Most frequently, the problem results from having too many nutrients in the water either from fish food or plant fertilizer. Proper construction, feeding and fertilizing will keep algae to a minimum. Chemicals can be used to reduce algae but they can also kill fish and plants.

Like everything else, garden pools need to be maintained throughout the year. And it really doesn’t matter what size they are, even small ones will need care. However, with proper planning you can balance the living and decorative features of a water garden both to simplify and minimize your maintenance tasks.

You can eliminate algae through reducing the nutrients that cause algal growth by cutting back on feeding and fertilizing, adding more plants, putting in a filter system, or replacing existing water with fresh water. Chemicals are generally not recommended since overuse can kill.

An intriguing new method of algae control is through the use of ultrasonic waves. The use of ultrasound to destroy algae can be traced back to the early experiments with sonar for detecting submarines when it was discovered that some micro organisms were destroyed by ultrasonic waves. Transducers developed to control algae will not harm humans, animals, fish or aquatic plants. (They can also be used for swimming pools).

If your garden lacks a natural continuous water supply, you have a situation much like an aquarium. You will need to monitor both water quality and water level. Keep in mind that in many locations, tap water contains chlorine and a large amount should not be directly added to water containing fish (and some plants). Allowing tap water to stand in an open container for at least 24 hours will normally eliminate the problem. Closed systems will require added water as the surface water evaporates. A large water garden that relies on tap water and which contains fish and plants, should probably have small quantities of water added daily. For water gardens without circulating, aerated, or filtered water, maintaining water quality may be more difficult.

Still, water gardening really doesn’t take any more time than regular gardening and could well take less time once you have it set up and have your maintenance tasks well organized. It is different, however, so while you may not be able to grow anything but weeds in dirt, you might be superb at water gardening. As a hobby and a way to beautify your landscape, water gardening is excellent. And there’s nothing quite like the sound and sight of water to calm and relax you after the stresses of modern life. Можно защитить свой автомобиль на, торопитесь

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Aquarium Setup and Design


Tank dimensions are determined by the individuals inside your aquarium. Some fish require swimming space, and the length of the tank may be important. Some corals require intense light, and the height of the tank may be important. Some plants grow like bushes, and the width of the tank may be important. Also, the surface area of the bottom influences how much substrate and lighting you will need. Finally, the volume of the tank determines the flow rate through the circulation systems and filtration systems.


Choose lamps based upon the luminosity (lumens), the color (spectra), and power (watts). The best choice for your lighting will match the needs of any photosynthetic individuals’ spectra, provide the most luminosity, and consume the least power. Both fluorescent and metal halide lamps excite electrons bound to certain chemicals. When these electrons relax, the lamp emits light of distinct wavelengths. There are very few options for these chemicals. As a result, most lamps contain varying amounts of the same chemicals.

Fluorescent tubes emit light from the surface of a long cylinder. Avoid spirals or other strange shapes when purchasing a fluorescent lamp. Choose parabolic reflectors designed for lamps of your radius. Compact fluorescent lamps will never work as well as the equivalent straight tubes. Metal halide lamps emit light from a line source, which in turn excites a small cylinder to emit light. Because of this complexity, reflectors are designed for very specific metal halide lamps types. If possible, decide upon a particular lamp make and model and then choose the best reflector for that lamp.

All lamps are designed to operate at specific temperature. Achieving this may involve adding ventilation to your lighting or purchasing a chiller. If all else fails, you may try redirecting your HVAC to supply air, return air, or both.

As to date, the most efficient lighting available is german made T5 fluorescent lamps under parabolic reflectors. The spectra are also very impressive. American LED manufacturers have made leaps and bounds, with the introduction of new designs that come within 15% of the efficiency of T5 lamps in 2006. LEDs are rarely chosen because of high initial costs; however, long run costs of LED systems are significantly lower.

Metal halides are an attractive option for reef aquariums because they are almost a point source. If you disturb the water’s surface, then a metal halide will sparkle, similar to how sunlight appears on the bottom of a pool on a bright, windy day. Keep in mind that only the light from the metal halide will sparkle, and choose your color spectrum accordingly if you also will use fluorescent lamps.


Mechanical filters remove material from the water column by physically separating the material from the rest of the water. This separation allows easy removal of this material. There are several methods of mechanical filtration: sudden decreases in the linear velocity of water as the flow passes a drain, trapping the material in another, inert material, or foam fractionation (protein skimmer). Mechanical filters can easily be automated to minimize maintenance.

Chemical filters either selectively partition chemicals onto a surface or react with chemicals in the water column. Chemical filtration requires regular replacing or recharging of media.

Biological filtration is, in essence an integration of chemical and mechanical filtration via individuals within your aquarium, or connected to the aquarium through plumbing.

Protein skimmers are best suited for fish only tanks. Natural reefs rely on tiny particles and individuals to increase biomass. Protein skimmers are extremely efficient at removing tiny particles from the water column. As such, protein skimmers often starve a reef aquarium.

UV sterilizers are work horses in many setups. They really belong under lighting, but are considered filters by most. UV sterilizers destroy some of the nucleic acids that pass through. If enough nucleic acids are destroyed, then the individual cannot reproduce and is sterile. Use UV sterilizers with care, as they can do more harm than good.

Circulation and Aeration

The water in the aquarium can be thought of as two systems: the bulk and the surface. Water circulation is best accomplished with external pumps. Placing electric motors inside the water column also places electric fields inside the water column, which can distress a large number of individuals.

To achieve similar water quality throughout the aquarium requires proper circulation. Not only is volumetric flow (GPH, LPH) important, but the linear velocity (mph, m/s) of flow is also important. The velocity of water determines what reaches your filter in the first place, and individuals within the aquarium experience linear velocity, not volumetric flow. Choose pumps on the inside diameter of the suction and pressure side, the power (watts), and the volumetric flow (GPH). Be careful, different manufacturers may report their numbers in different units or at different head heights. I’ve found that each manufacturer has several basic designs that they scale their models from. From each line, a single model will perform most efficiently. Rarely will each model in a line outperform all models in a competing line.

Reef aquariums often require pulse flow. Placing a mechanical device in line can change the direction and/or intensity of circulation. Programmable devices can fine tune the on/off cycles to your liking, but ensure you purchase a pump that is designed for frequent stopping and starting.

The surface provides gas exchange with the surroundings. If the surface of the water is not turned over, then undesirable individuals may grow thin colonies on the surface of the water. These colonies may inhibit gas exchange and block lighting to the rest of the aquarium. Make sure you have something that only filters the surface of the water called an overflow.

Aeration may be achieved entirely with good air flow over a clean surface of water. If photosynthesis increases the partial pressure of oxygen above that of the surroundings, then aeration may not be required. In such cases, separating the aquarium from the surrounding air may improve the water quality.


An unsealed aquarium exchanges all gases including water with the surroundings. Individuals in the water and owner dosing impart a concentration gradient upon a number of chemicals within the water. Blowing or sucking air across the surface of the water will decrease this concentration gradient. Increased evaporation will also cool water.

Ventilation offers an economic opportunity to dose an aquarium. Evaporation removes only water, but leaves the dissolved chemicals behind The evaporated water can be replaced by water high in nutrients for plants or a reef. By increasing the evaporation rate, the maximum rate of dosing is also increased.


The substrate at the bottom of the aquarium can serve many purpose other than aesthetics. In planted aquariums, the substrate provides rooted plants with chemicals not available to individuals in the water column. If you have an undergravel filter, then the substrate doubles as a filter media. If you do not have an undergravel filter, then the electrochemistry of ion exchange changes dramatically with deeper substrates. Because of this, many chemical reactions take place which would not take place if water circulated through the substrate. For example, iron uptake by plant roots becomes easier, but so does the production of methane. In a reef aquarium, the substrate may become a host to a variety of individuals and acts as biological filtration. Similarly, care must be taken in a reef aquarium as deep sand beds have very low reduction-oxidation potentials. Very scary chemistry can build up and release all at once.

The Elements

Oxygen is the most important molecule in water. Proper aeration, photosynthetic individuals, compressed gas, or ozone generators may be employed to elevate oxygen levels. The last two methods can overdose with oxygen or ozone and elevate the reduction-oxidation potential too much, essentially rusting individuals in your tank. Ensure that if a control system fails then the maximum dosage rate will not be toxic.

Carbon comes in many forms. Plants need carbon to thrive. The simplest type of carbon added to aquariums is carbon dioxide. Many people buy pressurized CO2 in cylinders, culture yeast to ferment, or make it electrochemically, then plumb this to the circulation system. A few plants actually use bicarbonate instead of carbonic acid, which means you can actually fertilize with baking soda. Another option is to overstock the tank with fish, who will provide an abundance of CO2. This option requires a hefty filter and more frequent water changes. Reef aquariums often use carbon dioxide to elevate calcium levels in reactors. This addition must be offset to avoid low pH, and magnesium sulfate is an attractive option. Elevated carbonate concentration (with calcium) in a reef allows individuals to precipitate calcium carbonate, a necessity of many individuals. Adequate turnover of the water, ventilation, protein skimming, and surface disturbances decrease the difference between carbon dioxide pressure in the air and in the water.

Nitrogen is essential for every aquarium. Ultimately, nitrogen is important to make proteins, nucleic acids, and other biomolecules. The source may be an amino acid or a nitrogenous base, but more than likely it is either reduced or oxidized nitrogen. Common reduced nitrogen compounds are ammonia, ammonium, and urea. Reduced nitrogen should be kept at low levels. Oxidized nitrogen is commonly referred to nitrites and nitrates, but most test kits fortunately measure other chemicals as well. Nitrogen should be present in your aquarium’s water in at least one form. Potassium nitrate is an extremely economic option. Biological filters, quality protein skimmers, and chemical absorbants are effective at removing nitrogen almost entirely from the water colony.

Calcium is important to all aquatic life. Quality plant fertilizers will ensure planted aquariums have plenty of calcium. For a reef aquarium, calcium is quickly consumed. Calcium reactors are effective at maintaining calcium in the water column, but pH must be offset as discussed under carbon. Calcium chloride does not affect pH, and chloride is reef safe. Saturating top off water with a mixture of calcium chloride and calcium carbonate should maintain both calcium and carbonate levels. Calcium salts can precipitate in the water column and test should be performed before adding calcium to the aquarium.

Potassium is the single most overlooked chemical in a planted aquarium. Plants must either take in new potassium of destroy old tissue to continue growing. There are no known negative issues with elevated potassium.

Iron is a tricky one. Iron may be the oldest chemical of life, and cells use iron to maintain the proper reduction-oxidation potential. Iron exists in two states in the aquarium: Fe(II) is missing two electrons and Fe(III) is missing three electrons. Fe(III) is not readily water soluble, so individuals must usually add an electron to Fe(III) before placing it into service. Adding electrons becomes easier as the reduction-oxidation potential decreases. For many planted aquariums, the substrate serves largely for cation exchange between the water and the plants’ roots to aid in iron metabolism. Anything from (perfume free) kitty litter to expensive substrates taylor made and color matched will work, depending on your standards of aesthetics. UV sterilizers quickly remove all iron from the water column.

Magnesium in water is depleted slowly by reefs and is essential to a reef’s growth. Buying a calcium additive with magnesium may be enough, or you can buy magnesium chloride which is readily soluble in water or magnesium sulfate.

Iodide and strontium are extremely important for most invertebrates, especially reef invertebrates. Typical levels are very low. Concentrations can be maintained by comprehensive additives or by buying plant cell culture tested compounds in bulk.

Phosphate biochemistry is extremely intricate. Phosphates are required for all life, but are typically limited in reef and marine aquariums to avoid algae growth. Planted aquariums require phosphorous, and its exclusion has become popular. However, phosphate buffers are frequently employed in growing aquatic plants on a large scale. Tap water usually requires enough phosphate for the planted aquarium, or you can dose with different salts depending on your tank’s pH. Chemical media, downforce protein skimmers, and biological filters remove phosphate.

Silicates are a favorite of diatoms. In either freshwater or saltwater, elevated silicates results in algae. Diatoms can extract silica from glass. Chemical media and downforce skimmers remove silica. Often, the same media removes phosphates

Chloride is extremely important to freshwater plants. Chloride is readily available in most water sources. Do not confuse with chloramine, which is also available in most water sources but is dangerous.


In general try to avoid taking material out of the aquarium. An excellent example would be to run foam fractionation (skimmer) on a sump, send the top fraction to a phytoplankton culture, have the phytoplankton overflow into a refugium, have the refugium empty into the display tank, which overflows into the sump. Each separate container would have its own lighting, substrate, and circulation. In this way, you really never have to add anything to the tank except water. The only cost is power, water, and lamps. Additives can be homemade by removing excess algae and aragonite and grinding them in a mortar and pestle.

Another example is a planted aquarium. A single display tank, a quality canister filter, a reverse flow under gravel filter, and fluorite ore substrate takes care of itself. Just replace evaporated water with water rich in potassium and phosphates, over feed the fish, and replace the lamps and filter floss twice a year. Plants take care of the rest.

Also, avoid adding extra heat to the aquarium. Use external pumps instead of powerheads. Acrylic aquariums can easily be machined to accept standard plumbing fittings. Make sure your plumbing has long radius turns and clean walls. Cooling your lights helps prolong lamp life and lowers water temperature. Place your heater inline with circulation plumbing. Make sure the entire tank is circulated. Dead spots make scary chemistry.

Many of the products available are marketed very, very well but provide little advantage if any to a less expensive alternative. So keep your wits about you and do your homework. In the end, your pets will be happier, your aquarium will look better, and you will spend less money.

Atlanta Aquascapes

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Comprehensive Lighting Guide

Why Lighting?

The simplest, most economic choice of lighting is sunlight. No tech aquarium folks believe there is no substitute. For many applications, aquarium lighting demands specific technology.

When you heat something, that something’s temperature goes up. At room temperature, this something will emit energy in the infrared (below red) range of light. However, hotter things emit light in the visible range (red to violet). Even hotter things may emit ultraviolet (above violet) light as well. The sun’s light is yellow. So, if you need something other than yellow light, then you need aquarium lighting.

What Lighting

Manufacturers standardize the spectrum of lamps using corrected olor temperature ratings (K) and color rendering indexes (CRIs). The K part tells you what color it looks like and the CRI part tells you how much it looks like that color.


Fluorescent lamps create large voltages across metal gases (fluors) in a coated tube. The electricity ionizes the gases and excites electrons in the gas. When these electrons relax, a little packet of light comes out called a photon. The coating on the tube is a material that absorbs UV light, and emits visible light. This coating largely determines the color of your lamp.

The phosphors degrade with use, and blue light intensity drops more quickly than red. So, lamps get darker and redder as time goes on. To maintain the blue and purple of a reef aquarium, lamps need to be changed at least twice a year; whereas the same aquarium may have red night lights that last a whole year.

There are only a few types of phosphors available. Many manufacturers use several coatings of different phosphors to achieve a balanced look. To achieve the most natural look, try to put as many different types of lamps in the canopy as possible. Most special bulbs accomplish the same thing as buying two daylight lamps and one cool white lamp (for example). The advantage to these special bulbs is that many people only have room for one lamp. There are exceptions to this rule and the number is growing, as some companies design aquarium lighting from the ground up instead of adapting existing technology to their needs.

The diameter of a lamp is very important. As the diameter increases, fabricating an effective reflector becomes increasingly difficult. The closer to a line source, where the diameter of the lamp is zero, the more effective a reflector will behave.

Balasts are designed for specific lamp types, and choosing a lamp also means limiting your choice of ballasts. The ballast determines the current and voltage to the lamp. A quality ballast will quickly pay for itself in reduced power bills and prolonged lamp life. Some ballasts have the option to attach a manual dimmer to the ballast. In conjunction with a timer, these ballasts can ramp light on and off to avoid the sudden firing of the lamp. Also, choosing a water proof ballast may come in handy.

Metal Halide

Metal halide lamps are essentially little fluorescent lamps on steroids. The metal halide gases are stored inside a coated quartz tube. This quartz is inside a glass shield to absorb UV light and provide a barrier if the quartz tube explodes. Instead of current flowing through the gas, the current actually arcs. This means higher temperatures and voltages. As such, metal halide lamps take a minute to start and then a few minutes to warm up. Basically, the ballast must start the arc and then vaporize everything inside the quartz sleeve. Probe start lamps have a small electrode inside the quartz tube to assist the firing the lamp. Pulse start lamps rely on the ballast to pulse the quartz tube to fire the lamp. Metal halide ballasts cannot be dimmed, unlike other types of lighting.

The color of the lamp is determined by the makeup of the halides and the phosphors coating the quartz tube. Pulse start lamps have a higher CRI, because the ballast is more gentle on the gases inside the quartz tube. Color ranges are nearly identical to fluorescent tubes; however, there are more options along the way. Metal halide lamps should last six months to a year. The blues in a metal halide lamp degrade very quickly. The most efficient metal halide lamps are near daylight. Because of this, many reefs rely on metal halide lamps for the daylight colors and fluorescent lamps for the purple and blue.


Light emitting diodes have come leaps and bounds recently. By 2008, new technology is scheduled to outperform all others (lumens per watt, lumens per dollar). There are still a handful of issues with LEDs, namely startup cost and color options. LEDs emit light in a very narrow range of colors, and the exact range of that color really depends on the batch and bin of the manufacturer. Also, initial costs of LED’s are quite high. Although, an individual LED is expected to have a lifetime of about ten years.

A handful of manufacturers sell LED lighting for the aquarium, but the nature of the wiring demands that an entire array of LEDs be replaced if a single burns out. And if you don’t replace the single array, then the others are not far behind. Thus, the benefits of LEDs are completely avoided. Basically, to save about 30% of the manufacturer’s costs, they ask you to replace $100 of LEDs when you really only need $5 replaced. A difficult fact to swallow when you’re already paying five to ten times as much as another technology, for the same amount of lighting.

One advantage of using LED lighting is the ability to program lighting intensity. The moon cycle, the seasons, cloud cover, sunrise, sunset, and anything else can be programmed into the lighting routine. This possibilities are huge with LEDs.


Lights are not 100% efficient. Therefore, lights create heat. This heat must be removed. If no efforts at ventilation are made, the the heat escapes via radiation. This may be adequate if the lamps are efficient and were designed to operate at elevated temperatures. Otherwise, ventilation may be required.

Simply drilling an array of holes above the lamps allows heat to escape through convection. This is adequate for most applications. However, often active ventilation is required. This involves placing a fan at either an input, an output, or both. If you are designing your own system, the ventilation that cools the lights can also be used to cool the aquarium water.

The Best Options

If you decide on the number of lumens you need, and then work backwards to how many lamps you need, then metal halide comes out on top. A metal halide lamp run by a pulse start electronic ballast puts out more lumens per watt and more lumens per dollar. However, in the next three months, the lamp’s luminosity decreases by 35%. In the same time, a T5 lamp’s luminosity will only decrease by about 6%. Also, consider that a quality reflector will direct about 80% of a metal halide lamps luminosity to the aquarium. A quality reflector for a T5 will direct over 90% of the light back. Notice, that the reflectivity of a reflector does not determine the amount of light reflected, but rather the probability an incident photon will be reflected. When you run the numbers again, T5 lighting comes out on top, by about 15%. Measurements with a light meter agree.

For a reef aquarium, most people want at least one metal halide. The real reason: metal halides look really cool. Reef aquariums usually have strong currents and surface waves. Metal halide lamps will make your reef sparkle, just like a real reef. Also, a single metal halide can provide a decent spectrum, whereas you really need at least two different color fluorescent lamps.

Compact fluorescent lamps provide a great alternative to T5 and metal halide lighting for smaller tanks. Reflectors must reflect light from more than one tube, which means that compact fluorescent lamps won’t perform as well as the corresponding straight tube lamps. However, bulb costs are lower, as a compact fluorescent lamp is essentially a longer lamp that is bent around.

By 2008, Atlanta Aquascapes plans on releasing a new LED lighting system for aquariums. This system will outperform all other lighting in terms of light output, light quality, and long term costs.

If you are looking for an economic option, then your local hardware store is the best place to start. Flat white paint has a reflectivity of about 95%, which is quite high. If you still have your high school geometry book, then you should be able to make your own reflector as well. Just find something relatively sturdy that you can cut with a razor. Watch out for silver materials when making a reflector. Some are excellent reflectors, and others are terrible.

Atlanta Aquascapes

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Acrylic vs. Glass

Acrylic vs. Glass

Acrylic has greater impact resistance than glass. Joining acrylic results in very strong bonds, and acrylic aquariums have been in service for decades without failure.

Acrylic can be machined very easily with the proper tools. Because of this, plumbing can enter from the bottom, back, or sides of an aquarium instead of only from above. Pumps work with a minimum of resistance, pulling water from anywhere in the aquarium and pushing anywhere else in the aquarium. This simple fact makes plumbing an acrylic aquarium clean and simple.

Acrylic insulates very well. If you run a heater or a chiller, then the water temperature in an acrylic aquarium will stay relatively constant with a minimum of power consumption.

Acrylic transmits over 90% of incident light. Also, acrylic has no color cast. Glass only transmits about 70% of light, and has a green cast. Because of these differences, acrylic aquariums always look brighter than glass aquariums.

Acrylic scratches easier than glass. Sharp rocks are best kept away from panes in the aquarium. Repairing scratches is possible, but requires the right materials and a little skill. Acrylic cannot be cleaned with glass cleaners. Always use a mild detergent and a clean cloth to clean acrylic.

Acrylic bends easily compared to glass. To ensure that acrylic panels stay true, the tops of acrylic aquariums are not fully open. Instead, a single piece of acrylic braces the sides with portholes in the center for access to the interior of theaquarium. A top brace can be avoided by using thicker plastic, but this costs significantly more.

Atlanta Aquascapes

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