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Marinebioblog is the post name of That Fish Place - That Pet Place's aquatics and aquarium experts. Contact them through the links here or leave your comments below.

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Goldfish as Bait – Why They Are Illegal and How They Affect the Ecosystem

Here at That Fish Place – That Pet Place we are doing our best to educate our customers on the dangers and risks of using goldfish as bait. In addition to offering an extreme risk to native species, anglers also face steep fines if they are caught in possession of goldfish for bait.  In Lancaster County Pennsylvania, where we are located, there are several bait and tackle shops that offer better alternatives for fishing.


History of Goldfish in the US

A western aquarium of the 1850s

A western aquarium of the 1850s illustration from Shirley Hibber, The Book of the Aquarium and Water Cabinet

Goldfish are freshwater members of the carp and minnow family.   While many of us admire them from the view of our tank, they are actually one of the first aquatic invasive species to reach North America.  How did the goldfish go from being the cute googly eyed fish you would feed after school, to being such a widespread risk to native plants and species?

Goldfish began to come to the America’s in the 1600s as ornamental fish for aquariums and water gardens. If the fish became too large for their surroundings, or the owner became tired of it, they simply got rid of it in the closest freshwater source.  Today, goldfish are becoming reintroduced as livebait.  Pennsylvania has stepped in, as well as many other states to make it illegal to use goldfish as live bait.


The Real Issues


Goldfish (Carassius auratus) photo by Ontario Streams

Goldfish will typically eat their own eggs when held in captivity, so breeding is not a large issue for most hobbyists unless they are intentionally breeding their goldfish.  Given the right conditions, goldfish can spawn several times a season.  A lot of the eggs will get eaten by the adult goldfish once they are laid, but several hundred eggs are produced at each spawning.  With only a few eggs eaten, and fry hatching within 48-72 hours, you can imagine how just a few goldfish can turn into a large problem rather quickly.

Often referred to as the “little piggies” of the aquarium, goldfish are opportunistic feeders and will not stop eating of their own accord.  While goldfish typically feed off of crustaceans, insects, and various plant matter; when this food is scarce they will eat eggs from native species nests.  The native egg-laying species populations have now been disrupted, and due to that, the population has declined and disrupted other wildlife food chains.


Law on the Books

downloadIt is unlawful to use or possess goldfish, comets, koi and common carp as bait fish while fishing in the state of Pennsylvania. If you are caught fishing with feeder goldfish or any other illegal bait fish there is a minimum $120.50 fine, and you can be fined an additional $20.00 – $50.00 per illegal bait fish.  Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission wants you to know that you aren’t off scot-free just yet.  Law enforcement also has the authority to confiscate or seize, any fishing equipment as evidence of your violation of the law.  The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission may, upon proper notice, suspend or revoke your fishing privileges, boating privileges or other permits of any person convicted (or acknowledging guilt) of a violation of the Fish and Boat Code or Fish & Boat Commission regulations.  That would also include your naive fishing buddy.  Should multiple violations occur within a 12-month period you will be given a fine of $200 in addition to the previously mentioned summary offenses.  That $0.10 feeder fish now cost you a fishing license, a fishing rod, fishing equipment, a whole lot of cash, a boat, and a fishing buddy. The consequences per state will vary, so check with your local Fish & Boat Commission for more information.

The employees at That Fish Place – That Pet Place are all avid hobbyists, and a lot of us live in the local river towns where fishing is just a way of life.  We don’t want to ruin the sport for other enthusiasts, just as much as we don’t want others to ruin the sport for us.  We will always strive to do our best when it comes to conservation efforts, and want to encourage others to do the same.  Thank you for reading!



Choosing an Aquarium Filter

Choosing an Aquarium Filter. Where do we start? The modern aquarium hobby is full of a variety of options claiming to keep your aquarium cleaner easier, cheaper and more effectively than the next. Like any technology, weeding through what you need and don’t need can be a difficult task. Which is why the experts at That Fish Blog got together to create a complete guide on how to to choose the right aquarium filter for your tank and your situation.


Grading Scale

Below, we will go into the the types of aquarium filters and highlight some of the main points about each type.  We will grade each type on 6 factors independently.

Ease of Installation – Let’s face it – some filters can be a pain to install. Some of the more complex versions may require purchasing a drilled aquarium or a separate pump to sustain it.

Cost – Cost includes not only the price to purchase the filter, but the cost associated with installing it on your tank.

Upkeep – Some filters are basically set it and forget it – others require additional expense or maintenance along the way.

Space Requirements – Not everyone has room for a big filter in their setup. This category ranks not only how easy it is to fit under or on your aquarium, but also inside. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to stare at aquarium equipment when I’m trying to check out my Tropheus

Biological Effectiveness – How well do these filters maintain effective biological filtration? Biological filtration is the most important aspect of aquarium filtration so this matters a great deal.

Chemical Effectiveness – Does the filter offer a level of chemical filtration – and how good is it?

Mechanical Effectiveness – Does the filter offer a level of mechanical filtration – and how good is it?

Noise – Noise can be a real concern for some aquarists and some filters are definitely louder than others.



Sponge Aquarium Filters

A sponge filter is one of the simplest aquarium filters available. They rate high for ease of installation, but are pretty limited in their effectiveness in all areas of aquarium filtration. They work with aquarium air pumps too – so you’ll have to purchase one of those. Most aquarists use them exclusively as add-on filtration or in small tanks like quarantine setups or transport tanks. They’re basically bacterial beds – their ability to filter mechanically and chemically is, for the most part, non-existent on most models.

Ease of Installation – Easy

Cost – Low

Upkeep – Low to Medium

Space Requirements – Low

Biological Effectiveness – Medium

Chemical Effectiveness – Low to Medium

Mechanical Effectiveness – Low to Medium

Noise – Medium


Undergravel Aquarium Filters

Undergravel Filters are a tried and true way of providing aquarium filtration to most size aquariums. They work by providing a gap between substrate and aquarium where beneficial bacteria can grow and thrive – providing consistent biological filtration to your tank. They are controversial however due to the risks associated with large scale biological breakdown underneath the plates. They also require the use of an aquarium air pump or powerhead to keep things flowing correctly and oxygen moving. They’re also pretty much a pain in the neck if you try to install them in an already-established aquarium due to the fact that you have to actually remove the gravel before installation. Given their limited filtration options, most aquarists tend to use them in conjunction with a power filter, canister filter or internal filter to supplement their biological filtration.

Ease of Installation – Easy

Cost – Low to Medium

Upkeep – Low to Medium

Space Requirements – Low

Biological Effectiveness – High

Chemical Effectiveness – Low to Medium

Mechanical Effectiveness – Low

Noise – Medium


Internal Aquarium Filters

Also called ‘In-Tank Filters’, these filters typically feature a motor to go along with fairly basic mechanical, biological and chemical filtration options. A favorite of tanks with low water levels and terrariums, these filters can be placed directly inside your tank and offer a higher level of 3-stage filtration than most of the options above. Aesthetically, they don’t blend in the way an Undergravel Filter does, but they still typically have a lower profile in your setup.

Ease of Installation – Easy

Cost – Low to Medium

Upkeep – Medium

Space Requirements – Medium

Biological Effectiveness – Medium

Chemical Effectiveness – Medium

Mechanical Effectiveness – Medium

Noise – Low to Medium


Power Filters

If there is a ‘traditional’ aquarium filter, the power filter would be it. Brands like Tetra’s Whisper, Marineland’s Penguin & Emperor, & Hagen’s Aquaclear have become household names in the aquarium industry due the ease, convenience and effectiveness of the power filter. A simple, magnetic impeller design combined with easy-to-replace filter cartridges make power filters a very effective for their price and simplicity. A simple hang-on-the-tank profile makes them easy to hide while still providing adequate 3-stage filtration for small to medium-size aquariums.

Ease of Installation – Easy

Cost – Low to Medium

Upkeep – Low to Medium

Space Requirements – Medium

Biological Effectiveness – Medium

Chemical Effectiveness – Medium

Mechanical Effectiveness – Medium to High

Noise – Low to Medium


Canister Filters

Canister Filters are great for providing a higher level of biological, chemical and mechanical filtration when compared to their power filter counterparts. Larger media areas and more stationary designs let you maintain larger bioloads and to maintain larger tanks in general. They’re also really easy to customize if you’d like to add additional filter media, while their specialized designs ensure a great water-to-media contact ratio so you maximize filter media effectiveness. However, what canister filters add in filtration capacity, they give back a bit in ease of installation, cost and space requirements. These big boys tend to cost a bit more and take up a bit more space under or behind your aquarium. They’re not always a walk in the part to install either.

Ease of Installation – Intermediate

Cost – Medium to High

Upkeep – Medium

Space Requirements – Medium

Biological Effectiveness – Medium

Chemical Effectiveness – Medium to High

Mechanical Effectiveness – High

Noise – Low

Wet/Dry Filters

Wet/Dry Filters are the pinnacle of aquarium filtration effectiveness. Most large scale aquariums employ some variation of wet/dry filtration in conjunction with an external sump system to maintain crystal clear, biologically sound environments in both fresh or saltwater. Their higher ratings for chemical and mechanical filtration are derived from the idea that, given that it’s a large, external sump, you can quickly and easily add large amounts of filtration pad or chemical media to facilitate your tank’s clean-up, but water contact is not ensured the way it is in a canister filter. But these filters are not for the timid. Large wet/dry sumps take up a lot of space. You also may need additional equipment or tank modifications to get yours to work correctly. Make no mistake, wet/dry filtration is the gold standard for biological aquarium filtration, but be prepared for a more complex installation, a higher starter cost, and greater space requirements than the other filters on this list.

Ease of Installation – Intermediate to Hard

Cost – High

Upkeep – Medium

Space Requirements – High

Biological Effectiveness – High

Chemical Effectiveness – Medium to High

Mechanical Effectiveness – Medium to High

Noise – Medium to High

So there you have it. Now that you’ve made it this far – we’ve thrown together our recommendations in a handy infographic as well. You may also check out our filter guides for information on specific types.  Good luck with your filter purchase and aquarium setup. As always, if you have any questions – please shoot us an email at marinebio@thatpetplace.com or give us a call at 1-888-THAT-PET.

Choosing an Aquarium Filter Infographic

Top Aquarium & Fish Articles This Month – May 2014

It’s FINALLY starting to warm up around here as May has arrived, but the great content hasn’t slowed down one bit. Below, are some of the top blogs, aquarium content, and general cool fish stuff we’ve seen over the last month. Please let us know what you think – or shoot us an email at marinebioblog@thatpetplace.com for items you’d like to see next month!

1. Diving in Cuba and Enjoying a Lionfish Barbeque – Reefbuilders.com


There were two really cool things about this article. One, that the author got to actually dive in Cuba – we Americans are not allowed to partake in this, and 2. that it highlights the lionfish expansion epidemic we’ve been talking about for years. The author actually partakes in some tasty Lionfish dinner. The article also references an amazing animated image (shown below) showing the expansion of the Lionfish throughout the Atlantic and Caribbean – courtesy of Reef.org
Lionfish Expansion from Reefs.org

2. Aquarium 101 – Starting a Siphon – That Fish Blog


Ahh the siphon! We speak to new aquarists ALL THE TIME here – and we’re always recommending water changes as basic aquarium maintenance 101. We are also BIG fans of fish acclimation. So logically, why wouldn’t we write a guide on how to actually get a siphon started? Our fish experts put their heads together for this one, including some cool animated .gifs.

3. Choosing an Aquarium Light Guides – That Fish Place


Aquarium Lighting Charts at That Fish Place - That Pet Place

New Lighting Charts

Each day, we get lots of questions from aquarists of all types and skill levels. These lighting charts are designed to show aquarists precisely which options they have for any freshwater fish tank, freshwater planted tank, reef aquarium, or saltwater fish only. You can match your tank’s dimensions to light fixtures your tank could support; while achieving the output you require. Simple, cut and dry charts to choose a light fixture for your tank.

4. Blennies That Eat Algae – Fish Channel


I love this topic, and frankly, I wish we would’ve written this article. EVERY aquarist is constantly on the lookout for organic ways to take out the ever-present algae buildup. This short write-up gives you a sense of which Blennies are algae gobblers. As if you needed another excuse to add an adorable Blenny..

Let us know what you think – and please send us any articles you think should be included in the monthly run-down.

Top Aquarium & Fish Articles This Month – April 2014

It’s been a great month for Aquarium and Fish Content Across the Internet. Check out some of our favorites below and please feel free to post some of your favorites!

1. 6 Ways to Help Prevent Aquarium Leaks – Saltwatersmarts.com


We really liked this article – quick and to the point and it addresses one of the most fundamental things you have to think about BEFORE getting your tank up and running. There’s nothing scarier than a leaky aquarium: follow SaltwaterSmarts’ advice and keep that floor dry! On a related note – we have an article on moving your aquarium which discusses some similar items.

2. Aquarium Myths and Misconceptions – That Fish Blog


Our Aquatics and Fish Master Dave Acland is fed up with bad fish advice. From the classic ‘Inch per gallon’ rule to the idea that smaller fish tanks are better for new aquarists – Dave’s here to dispel these classic myths and misconceptions. Take a read.

3. Gravel & Substrate vs. Bare-Bottomed Tanks – That Fish Blog


Lots of great reasons to go with gravel or bare-bottomed tanks – and Marine Biologist Eileen Daub goes through each one of them. Be sure to have a read before your set up your next tank!

4. Top Filters for Goldfish Tanks – That Fish Blog


So, Zoologist Frank Indiviglio has kept lots of Goldfish in his day – OK..maybe thousands. This article runs down what he considers to be the best choices for goldfish tank filtration. Hint – Frank’s a little old school and he LOVES his undergravel filter for these guys. Find out why.

5. NextReef Showcases Use of 3D Printing in the Industry – ReefBuilders.com


Anyone with a reef tank LOVES them some new technology. Reefbuilders discusses how NextReef is looking into using 3D Printers for making customizable sumps and other aquarium pieces and parts. Talk about customizing your system!

Let us know what you think – and please send us any articles you think should be included in the monthly run-down.

Top Aquarium & Fish Articles This Month – March 2014

The aquarium hobby is amazing and lots of content is created daily here and all over the Internet. The following is the first monthly installment of top fish articles and favorites chosen by our staff. Hope you had a great St. Patrick’s Day! Let us know what you think.

1. Why is My Aquarium Cloudy? – That Fish Blog

“Why is my aquarium water cloudy?” is one of the questions our staff gets asked literally every day both online and in store. Staff marine biologist Eileen Daub compiled some of our best advice for quickly IDing issues with cloudy, green or brown aquarium water. Have any more questions? Feed free to shoot us an email at mariobio@thatpetplace.com.


2. Oliver Knotts Fantasy Planted Tank – Advancedaquarist.com

I can’t get enough of planted or aquascaped aquariums – and this month has been great for articles around some amazing tank ideas. I love this fantasy take from Oliver Knotts. Our own Eileen Daub also through together some basic (and not so basic) simple ideas for sprucing up your aquarium this spring –


3. New from Chemi-Pure – Chemi-Pure Blue – Reefbuilders.com

Great write-up from the guys at Reef Builders on what’s coming from Boyd Enterprises. Everybody’s favorite filter media – Chemi-Pure – is adding a new product to the line. Chemi-Pure Blue promises to offer marine aquarists a polishing option for you ultra-picky reef keepers – furnishing your reef with crystal clear water without impacting trace element levels. Sweet! Look for it now at TFP.


4. African Cichlid Compatability Chart – That Fish Place – That Pet Place

African Cichlid compatibility can be a confusing topic! Our team has recently taken a look at this topic and put together a handy chart to help. Take a look and let us know what you think!


5. Aquarium Pumps Saving Lives – NPR.org

This won’t help you with your tank, but this was such an amazing story we couldn’t pass it up. Simple aquarium pumps saving lives!


6. NOAA Study Find Unique Fish Dominate Pacific Deep Sea Reefs – www.AdvancedAquarist.com

This government study has concluded that over 90% of the fish in the waters of northwestern Hawaii are only found there! Amazing for biodiversity and underscores the need to protect every habitat and microhabitat.


7. Melev’s Reef Tank – Reefaddicts.com

Inspiration is not hard to come by when it comes to beautiful reef tanks. Check out this amazing reef tank over at reefaddicts.com.


8. Keeping the Synodontis Angelicus Catfish – That Fish Blog

Catfish are a favorite of lots of aquarists, and synodontis catfish are the kings! Zoologist and lifelong aquarist Frank Indiviglio walks you through seeing up a tank for  his favorite Synodontis catfish – Synodontis angelicus



Have any great posts you’d like to share? Drop them below in the comments, and as always – good luck with your tanks!
TFP Aquatics Team