Heating and Cooling Your Marine Tank

Heating & Cooling your Marine Tank
For your aquarium to be a success and for all the inhabitants to survive the temperature of the aquarium needs to be just right. Too much heat and the corals and fish begin to suffer and could die. Too little heat and the corals and fish begin to suffer and could die, so we need the temperature of your tank need to be right in the middle. Average water temperatures in different reef areas range between 25?C (77?F) and 30?C(86?F) and can fluctuate between 28?C (82?F) and 34?C (93?F).

Heating
Heating is important in any aquarium, its essential to replicate the temperature found in the ocean, as temperatures often change, especially in winter. Thermostat- heaters are the answer to the heating needs of your tank, a thermostat-heater can be adjusted to a temperature you want your aquarium to maintain by adjusting the knob found at the top of the unit, it’s always good to keep an eye on the heater and check the tanks temperature. Heaters have been known in some cases to malfunction causing tanks to overheat and crash killing everything in the tank, so it’s important to keep check of the temperature in your tank at all times, this can be done with a digital thermometer. You can get fully submersible ones that go inside the tank or you can get digital external thermometers which stay on the outside but have a probe that goes inside the tank. The recommended stable temperature you want to keep at all times is between 27?C (80?F) and 29?C (84?F), stability is important.

Cooling
Cooling the aquarium has not been that big of an issue in the UK, until recently. We have had short but hot summers and for aquariums this can spell disaster. I had to turn my heater off and buy a fan cooler this helped but I was constantly having to top up my tank with water as the combination of the fan and the heat made the water evaporate quite fast, I bought the fan as a quick fix solution. A real solution to the problem is buying a chiller, fan coolers chillers are very effective at controlling the temperature in your marine aquarium, water passes through the chiller and is cooled to the desired temperature then the water is returned to the tank keeping the aquarium at a stable temperature, the only downside is they are ridiculously expensive, if you are in a hot country then you most probably will need one, but in the UK we only have a month or two of hot weather and then it’s back to winter for the rest of the year, so I could never justify spending ?300 or more on one, so I opt for the ?35+ cooler fans option and keep topping up. But if you live in a hot country, or have an expensive reef setup then it’s worth investing in a chiller, it’s really not worth the risk of losing all you have spent, built and worked hard for.

What Are the Ideal Water Conditions for Healthy Koi?

There will certainly be a lot of differing opinions on the best water conditions for koi but one thing remains constant: poor water quality leads to a host of other health problems that are certainly avoidable with proper care. Because stress originates from poor water quality, follow these guidelines for healthy water and healthy koi.

Dissolved Oxygen

Oxygen levels should be at a minimum of 5.0 mg/L for koi. In the fish world, there is some variation with the tolerable level of dissolved oxygen in the water but 5.0 is a good baseline. As a reference, 5.0 is the minimum for koi and 18 mg/L is the physical maximum that water can hold. Just as a reminder though, cold water can hold more dissolved oxygen than warmer water so higher summer temperatures (and overcrowded ponds) will lead to lower dissolved oxygen, which is really when you will want to pay attention to it the most. Oxygen becomes dissolved into your koi pond in several ways. At the very surface there is limited diffusion occurring between the atmosphere and the water and that accounts for only a small amount of dissolved oxygen. Turbulence will also agitate the water enough to generate dissolved oxygen in your pond and this often comes in the form of falling water as from a small water fall. A tried and true and popular way to increase the dissolved oxygen in a koi pond is by an air stone on the bottom of the pond or by spout or fountain shooting water up into the air.

pH

Okay, back to chemistry class everyone because its time to discuss pH. As you may recall pH has something to do with acids. It’s all about acidity and alkalinity. The pH scale is a logarithmic one meaning when your pond jumps from 7 (neutral) to 6, its not simply getting a little bit more acidic, its getting 10 times more acidic. Conversely, when your pond tests at 7.5 and then gets increasingly alkaline by jumping to 9.5, then your pond just got 100 times more alkaline (10 times 10). So it’s a big deal when your pH changes and can definitely affect your koi in negative ways. pH, or power of Hydrogen, should range in your pond somewhere between 6.8 and 8.2 but do your best to keep it as stable as possible.

Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates

As you may recall, the general cycle of waste in your pond starts with ammonia excreted by your fish then bacteria and oxygen break it down to nitrites which later get broken into nitrates then free nitrogen. Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates all have the ability to cause health problems for your koi if their levels are not kept in check. Along with other health problems, ammonia can essentially burn your fish’s gills and reduce its ability to extract dissolved oxygen from the water. High nitrites can damage your koi’s kidneys and nervous system and high nitrates, for extended periods, can cause your fish’s immune system to be compromised. Ammonia and nitrites and the most troublesome when it comes to health problems for your koi but don’t underestimate the power of nitrates over long periods of time. Here is a guideline for these three water chemistry measurements.

-ammonia: levels should be zero. Depending on your pH, you can get away with 0.5ppm (parts per million) or 1 ppm for a short period of time but keep in mind that above a pH of 8.0 ammonia becomes more toxic.

-nitrites should be less than 0.25 ppm but ideally you should have a reading of zero.

-nitrates: a reading of 20 to 60 ppm is acceptable.

Salinity

The use of salt in koi ponds has, for long time, been a tried and true method to deal with various water quality and health problems that arise. Some of the benefits of salt is that its a cheap way to keep some disease at bay, control algae and may also lower nitrite toxicity. Additionally, salt plays a part in the osmotic pressure between the fish and the outside aquatic environment. There is a differential between the solute concentration of the fish’s blood and the fresh water that it swims in so the addition of salt actually lowers that concentration differential and makes it easier on the fish by reducing the amount of work its body has to do. A salinity of up to 5 ppt (parts per thousand) or 0.5 % is acceptable.

Temperature

Temperature obviously plays a big role in the overall health of your pond and it warrants your attention. Temperature can exacerbate existing problems, especially higher temperatures. For example, warmer water holds less dissolved oxygen and ammonia can be more toxic. Although koi can handle temperatures of between 35 and 85 F degrees its best to keep your fish in water that ranges between 65 and 75 F degrees. And as with pH, try to avoid large temperature swings.

What Size Fish Tank Should You Get?

What size tank?

Choosing the right size tank is the first decision you will come up against in this hobby; what tank you choose is all down to personal preference. The tank you choose will be the foundation of your very own Marine Aquarium. It’s good to get this right the first time. If you do, it will save you a lot of time and money. The reason I say this is because people buy a tank and then later on realize that they want a bigger one, so if you know what type of setup you want before you buy your tank you have more of a chance of making the right decision on the size. In a previous article we spoke about the different types of Marine setups, now you know what setup you are going to have you need to decide what size aquarium you want, now comes the part where you have to ask yourself questions, Where is it going to go? How much space do I have? Of course you are limited to what size house you have, and by space, also how much do you want to spend? Fish tanks can range from ?100 to over ?1000, how much you spend is down to you. Before you start it’s good for you to know owning your own Marine Aquarium is no cheap hobby.

Hopefully After reading this article you will come to the conclusion on what size marine tank you want.

What shape?
Depending on what type of setup you are having different shaped tanks will have their own effects.

Tall tanks
Tall tanks have the effect of height; this is nice on a reef tank because it allows you to create different shelf levels to place corals with different lighting needs. The Lighting needs to penetrate through to the bottom, so strong lighting is recommended.

Bow fronted tanks
These tanks give a lovely magnifying effect and the illusion that the tank is bigger than what it is.

Cube tanks
Cube tanks are great for compact spaces; they also provide a 360 degree view of everything in the tank, not great for big fish as swimming space is limited.

Standard Rectangle tanks
These tanks are the best choice for reef aquariums as they have space for everything, you can have big reef fish and there is plenty of room to aqua scape the tank the way you want it.

Corner tanks
These tanks are great space savers. They have a very modern feel and make great show tanks due to their shape because they have a custom made look to them. These tanks are surprisingly spacious.

Decorating An Outdoor Fish Pond

I must admit that in the slightly over a decade that I have been decorating aquarium, I have only actually decorated less than half a dozen outdoor fish ponds. It’s not that I do not have the confidence in doing so. It is just that in most cases, outdoor fish pond design and decorating has always fallen into the area of landscape designers.

A fish pond poses its own set of considerations which are vastly different from an aquarium. Therefore, decorating it must be planned and handled differently as well.

The first issue of a fish pond is the visual perspective. An aquarium will be viewed from the front and sides. Therefore, when designing an aquarium theme, you would place ornaments and arrange them for this perspective. However, fish ponds are viewed from the top. The ornaments that you place inside the pond needs to be those that are visually pleasing when viewed from above. Placing an ornament that has intricate details on its side defeats any decorative purpose.

The second factor also has to do with the visual aspect. Depending on how deep your pond is, placing low lying decoration might not be a good idea. This is because the deeper the pond is, the less light the bottom gets and having decor lying low at the bottom would make it almost invisible when viewed from outside the water. This is one of the reasons why most fond designers incorporate decorative items on the outside of the pond, rather than submerged inside.

One last issue would be the weather. Unlike an aquarium which is placed in the comfort of your home, outdoor ponds are exposed to the fury of the weather. The ornaments that your choose to decorate them must be created to withstand harsh natural conditions. These include the scorching sun, the pouring rain and in certain regions, freezing cold. Decor that are not designed for this onslaught would easily fade and crack when exposed to it.

Tips On Designing An Outdoor Fish Pond

The key here is to first keep in mind the three major considerations above. Make your selection of each individual item based on these factors.

Pick out a theme that is suitable for an outdoor theme. Some really cool theme ideas include Fairies and Mermaids. There are dozen of such ornaments that you could get that have been designed specifically for an outdoor pond. You could also use figurines of animals that can be found by or in the water such Turtles, Herons, Dolphins, Crocodiles and Hippos to name a few.

An awesome idea is to try to get ornaments that actually look like they are interacting with the water. This would include such figurines as Fishermen, Little Kids Tinkling Into The Water or Maidens With Vases. Many of these have pumps that flow the water through them and pours out from them back into the pond.

Apart from rocks to provide cover for the fish, you really do not need any submerged decor. Having little or no decorative items inside the water will make it a whole lot easier to clean.

Incorporating Aquatic Plants Into Your Pond Design

Being outdoors creates an ideal condition for plants. The plants would receive sufficient sunlight and will thrive in the water. Also, placing plants inside the pond has a lot more benefits other than just being visually pleasing. The floating plants which live on the surface of the water provides shade and cover for the fish. This is extremely important especially when you have fry that have to hide away from the adult fish.

The plants also provides competition against algae growth. By competing for sunlight and nutrients in the pond, these aquatic plants would starve the algae and limit their growth.

Saltwater Fish Tanks For Beginners

What is the best saltwater fish tank for beginners to the hobby? There is no perfect answer to that question. Most mistakes when starting a marine aquarium are similar to mistakes made in freshwater tanks. Patience, patience, patience. All too often, beginner aquarists aren’t patient and lose a lot of money and fish in the process. When many aquarists in the world of freshwater fish make a mistake and have a loss of fish, it doesn’t hurt quite so bad in the wallet. While a mistake in a saltwater tank, can be very costly. As with any aquarium, saltwater aquariums must go through a cycle period that allows the beneficial bacteria to accumulate to a point that the waste from the fish and possible overfeeding can be eliminated. This cycle period, left to its natural processes, can take any where from 4 to 6 weeks after setup and initial stocking of damsels or cardinals, which can handle the poor water quality during the cycle. If the beginner hobbyist wishes to have a tank with live rock, FOWLR or reef, then the rock can be used instead of damsels or cardinals to cycle the tank.

Now that that has been said, the question still remains. What is the best saltwater fish tank for beginners? The best tank will be one that is well thought out in advance. Do your due diligence and make sure you understand the basics of what is expected of you. It’s more than just setting up an aquarium, putting fish in, and feeding. Without proper regular maintenance, the fish will get stressed and become sick or die. Just like any pet, fish rely on you for everything that will help them to thrive and survive.

Because most parasites and harmful bacteria multiply exponentially, a small tank, especially for a beginner, is a bad choice. In a larger tank, at least 50 gallons but bigger if you can afford it, if you see something wrong on the fish you have a bit more time to correct the problem, either by water change or medication. In a small tank, by the time you notice an issue, it is often too late to save your fish.

Just as in a freshwater tank, the beginner setup in saltwater is usually best as a community aquarium. By choosing non-aggressive fish that get along, you avoid the hassle of fish that chase and intimidate each other for territory, thus causing stress and possible death. It is also much easier to introduce a new fish to the tank if all of the existing fish are mellow. Aggressive tanks have fish with more attitudes and it is not uncommon to watch a new fish be pestered to death or killed outright by the existing fish. Typically, an aggressive tank is setup by the experienced aquarist that knows the personalities of the fish and whether they can get along.

Most beginners do very well with yellowtail damsels, green chromis damsels, pajama cardinals, yellow tangs, dwarf angels such as pygmy angels or flame angel, sleeper gobies, etc. Ask your local fish store or pet shop for information on what fish will get along with what you want to have in your tank.

For the beginner in saltwater fish keeping, it is important to have a proper setup that gives the fish the best chance at thriving in your tank. Filtration, substrate, quality of salt that you choose, lighting if you have live rock, are all important factors in your initial setup. But just as important is the care that is taken to maintain the aquarium. Maintenance at regular intervals is what makes the difference in a successful tank and one that ends up in the backyard or at a garage sale. Be prepared to go slow during the cycle at the beginning and don’t over stock or overfeed and you will do fine.

Types Of Aquarium Accessories for a Fish Tank

An aquarium with the right type of accessories can add to the habitat of the fish and make it a lovely piece of decoration at home. As there are various types of aquarium accessories made available today, choosing the most essential and right type of product can be quite a perplexing task. However, there are a few tips which can be considered while choosing different types of fish tank products.

Essential Accessories:

Pumps: It is one of the most important fish tank accessories that help the fish to survive and stay healthy in the tank. The pump helps to circulate oxygen in the water.

Filters: Every fish tank requires a filter system which can filter the water in the tank so that it is free from contaminants and impurity. There are various types of filters made available today so it is important to choose products according to the size of the tanks and the number of fish in it.

Ornaments: There are a huge plethora of ornaments or embellishments that can be added to the fish tank to enhance its overall appearance. Most of these ornaments can be bought even from online stores at affordable prices. It is available in different sizes, shapes, colors and designs to suit different types of tanks.

Plants: Using living plants in a fish tank has many beneficial features. Various types of plants can be used in these tanks to add to the beauty of the tank and the health of the fish.

Water Additives: There are various types of additives which can be used in the fish tank so that it remains healthy. However, different types of solutions are used for different types of water.

Rocks: Another variety of embellishment is the rocks which are specifically manufactured for these tanks. Most of the online and offline stores showcase a huge plethora of rocks in different sizes, shapes, colors and styles to suit different types of tanks. Some of the most common varieties include lace rocks, rainbow rocks and so forth. Various types of corals are also used as aquarium accessories as it adds to the beauty of the tanks.

Lights: Proper lighting is another important aspect to consider while installing tanks. Today there are various options to consider such as LED lights, fluorescent lights and so forth. These lights are available in different soft colors and features. There are lights which can be dimmed whenever required.

It is important to choose accessories according to the type of water used in the fish tank. Some products suit fresh water tanks whereas some products are ideal for salt water tanks only.

With the improvement in technological features, a wide range of aquarium accessories have been launched into the markets these days. It is essential to choose the right type of product as per the requirement of the tank. It is possible to maintain healthy fish with the right type of accessories. Cleaning the tank on a regular basis is equally important so as to extend the life of the fish.

Koi Pond – The Best Plants To Select

Now that your koi pond is finally finished, after all your hard work building it, now it is time to think about what sort of plants to select to get the water garden looking the way you would like.

You want it to look beautiful, of course, but when selecting your plants, keep in mind that these plants will also have the added value of bringing biological life to your koi pond. This helps maintain your pond in a natural way.

The climate in your particular area is something to consider. Certain plants will not survive in certain conditions, so it is important to do some research before going out and spending your hard-earned cash. If you have a local dealer, then have a chat with them for advice on which plants are best suited to your koi pond.

Lotus Plants
Lotus plants are always a popular choice for koi ponds, because of their simple beauty. When in bloom, lotus plants have a special beauty and aroma. A word of warning, though. Lotus plants like temperatures above 65 deg. Fahrenheit, so you will need somewhere to house them during the cooler months. A greenhouse would be good, as lotus plants require soil and a lot of sunlight. You need to plant them in about 2-3 feet of water during warmer weather, and indoors when it goes colder.

Water Hyacinths
If you have a busy lifestyle and cannot put enough time into maintaining your koi pond, then water hyacinths may be a good choice. They are a low-maintenance plant and very pretty in appearance. They do not require soil or planting. You just scatter them on the water, and the only work required is minimal. You will need to anchor them down so that they do not float all over the pond randomly. Water hyacinths are also good for battling algae and blanket weed.

One word of warning about water hyacinths. They can take over a pond if left unattended. They easily spread around, even outside the pond, so you must keep an eye on them regularly and trim them back. If allowed to spread, they can be extremely difficult to remove.

Underwater plants
It is a good idea to invest in some underwater plants. Even though they are not seen, they have a practical use. They will fight against algae, put oxygen in the water and can be a source of food for your fish. Any good local pet store or koi dealer will have bundles of these type of plants. Most of these plants need no additional maintenance during the cold season, so once you put them in place, you don’t have to worry about them. So, although they are unseen, they are doing a great job under the surface, which benefits not only you, but the inhabitants of your koi pond.

What Are the Different Types of Marine Tanks?

All in all there are 4 Main types of Marine Aquariums:

1. Fish only setup
This setup is just the water and the fish, easy to maintain, but relies more on you doing water changes to keep the fish healthy. I know this setup sounds boring but if you lead a busy life and would still like to enjoy your Marine Aquarium after you come home after a hard day, then this setup is for you. Fish only setups can still look just as nice as a live rock and coral setup. You can get decorative rocks, corals, sand and even add what people call a clean-up crew which consist of snails, shrimps and hermit crabs, this setup in general is very low maintenance.

2. Fish with live rock
This setup is slightly different to the fish only setup, because instead of adding ornamental rocks your adding Live Rock – live rock is from the sea, and is made from limestone and decomposing coral skeleton, and are covered with good algae which is beneficial for the eco system in your tank, you can get anything from snails, crabs to starfish that hitch a ride from the sea on this rock which later end up in your tank. Live rock tanks also lay the foundation and give you the option to turn your live rock tank into a reef tank.If you want to see more marine life and don’t mind putting in a bit more work and doing a bit more maintenance then a fish with live rock setup is for you.

3. Reef Setup
A reef tank setup is the most rewarding tank of all setups, this tank is a replica of the sea, it has all kinds of sea life corals, live rock, sand, hermit crabs, starfish and sea snails etc. Everything in a reef tank is living. These tanks are harder to keep, but don’t be put off, with the right information it is possible for you to get a reef aquarium setup and running. Reef tanks require a lot more maintenance than fish only and live rock tanks. So if you want to have the ultimate sea experience in your home, want to see more marine life and are fascinated by the life under the sea, then this tank is for you.

4. Nano Reef Setup
Everything about a Nano reef tank is the same as a normal reef tank, all but the size. A Nano tank is a miniature version of any tank setup, these tanks sound easy due to their size but the truth is there is less margin for error, the reason I say this is because the tank is so small things can change very quickly; for example because there is only a small volume of water in the tank, the water temperature can change much quicker than in a larger tank that has a larger volume of water. People who start with a miniature Nano tank are more likely to have success with a larger tank later on the reason being they are more aware of the needs and demands due to their being less room for error. But don’t be put off by this, one of the first marine tanks I ever owned was a Nano reef tank, with enough research and the correct information these tanks can be a joy to keep and extremely rewarding.