New Tank Syndrome, NTS
Robert T. Ricketts
There are all but constant questions on the boards relating the trials, tribulations, and assorted woes associated with a newly set aquarium. Very few novice tank-keepers have any realistic concept of the complexity of the system they are starting. This is no doubt a good thing – if most of us really knew up front how complex aquarium ecology is, we would probably never start – and think of all the fun we would have missed. The micro-ecology of out tanks is complex. The development of the micro-ecology is a tad demanding of attention, but the chores involved are not complex. After stability is reached, handling is not complex at all. As with many of the things we do, once you understand something about it, it is relatively easy. Continue reading II. New Tank Syndrome, NTS
Considerations in Fishless Cycling
Some years ago Dr. Chris Cow, an organic chemist and hobbyist, developed a hobby-level technique for establishing that part of the nitrogen cycle important to our tanks without using and abusing live fish. Not the original articles (that site no longer exists), but a good retrospective exists at:
Chris (a.k.a. Nomad) shared his technique with others on a forum that had a number of experienced hobbyists. Several of those served as beta-testers of the technique, and were quite impressed with how well it worked. That core group started popularizing the technique on the other forums they visited, and the rest is history. Cycling without fish was not novel, several variants had existed for years prior to that time. Some of those variants required knowledge of chemistry and either access to a laboratory or an exceptionally well-equipped home lab, or were completely uncontrolled and frequently smelly. Chis’ technique was and is a better fit with hobby materials and required no special lab equipment, only patience and persistence. Continue reading VI. Considerations in Fishless Cycling
Every fish keeper needs to know how to siphon. This is one of the basic techniques in aquarium maintenance. It is second nature to everybody in the hobby, right? Maybe, maybe not. Do you get aquarium water in your mouth? Have you ever pulled the delivery end of the siphon out of the bucket and onto your shoes, the rug, or the hardwood floor? Maybe we should talk for a few minutes. I have done all the above, but eventually I learned how not to do so, and I’m more than willing to share what works for me. Think about it and see if anything here will work for you. Continue reading IV. How to, and How Not to, Siphon Manually
Filtration and water partials are two entirely separate things. That seems difficult to grasp for many hobbyists. So this brief note is aimed at clarifying the roles of filtration and water changes.
Continue reading I. Filtration versus Water Changes
Diatoms are very common algae (yes, they really are algae) in the world. They occur in freshwater, brackish water, seawater, soils, and damp exposed (emerse) situations. They have yellow-brown photosynthetic pigments, so most forms appear brownish to us. In tanks, mostly we see diatoms on lighted surfaces such as the tank walls, décor (rocks, ceramics, plastics, substrate, etc.) and as coatings on plants (either live or artificial). In freshwater (FW) they are generally unicellular, single cells, but in marine environments can have much more complex colonial forms. Continue reading VII. Brown Algae, Diatoms In Freshwater Tanks by Robert T. Ricketts, a.k.a. RTR
Dwarf PufferOther common names: Pea puffer, Malabar puffer, pygmy puffer.
Scientific name: Carinotetraodon travancoricus.
Physical description: 1” max. Rounded bodies, pale or olive green with dark spots.
Lifespan: Varies. 3-8 years.
Continue reading IV. Care of the Dwarf Puffer
Part 2: Other small critters
In part 1, I talked about the bacteria that handle the nitrogenous wastes from the fish. Fine, ammonia is dangerous in tanks. But ammonia is just one waste product. What about all the other things? Continue reading II. Aquarium Microbes, Part 2: Other small critters
Part 1: Nitrification
What do you keep in your tanks? A big school of Tetras? A pair of Cichlids? A few billion bacteria? Don’t gag. The “bugs” are the most numerous things in our tanks and are ultimately responsible for our success if we are to keep our fish alive and healthy. Every solid surface in our tanks has a biofilm on it, of bacteria, algae, etc., composed of whatever type(s) of microorganism that finds that surface and adjacent water conditions hospitable. These bugs are not the enemy or in any way unwelcome. They aid us in the upkeep and function of the micro-ecologies needed to make our tanks stable and safe for our wet pets.
Continue reading I. Aquarium Microbes, Part 1: Nitrification
The Salt of the Earth, the Salt from the Sea . . .
We say (or at least my grandmother said) that someone is “worth their salt” or perhaps “not worth their salt”, meaning that the person under discussion justifies their existence (or not) by their actions. Can we apply this same sort of value system to the mineral in question itself? Is salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) worth its salt in the freshwater aquarium? Disclaimers are needed first: This is my personal opinion, not the official doctrine of this site, but just me, the cranky old fogy who has rather strong opinions on a number of fish-keeping topics. Continue reading VIII. The Salt of the Earth, the Salt from the Sea . . .
Ghost Shrimp – See-Through Inverts for Your Tank
Commonly sold as feeders for predatory fish (puffers love them by the way), these US Gulf Coast natives are worth a closer look for peaceful tanks with small fish or those with non-predatory habits. They have been suggested on the boards as algae eaters. In my experience this is a bit of an exaggeration. Continue reading V. Ghost Shrimp – See-Through Inverts for Your Tank