The Importance of Water Changes In Aquarium Maintenance

BucketRoutine water changes are the most basic, most necessary, and most overlooked acts of tank maintenance. Most aquarists know they should do water changes, but not everyone does or even knows how to do it the right way. How much and how often are highly debated topics among aquarists no matter what kind of tanks they keep.

Why should we do water changes?

Removing water from the aquarium and replacing it with new, “clean” water removes waste and organics that are dissolved in the water. It also helps to remove any chemical treatments or medications when the treatment is complete. Dissolved organics contribute to Nitrate and Phosphate build-up that aquarists try so hard to control. These compounds can affect the health of your livestock directly and can promote algae and cyanobacteria growth, making your tank unsightly. Changing the water also helps to replenish minerals and other trace elements. This can be especially important in tanks with corals and crustaceans (crabs and shrimp, both freshwater and saltwater) that use these minerals to form their skeleton or exoskeleton. Corals and other saltwater invertebrates can use up minerals fairly quickly in a closed environment, and replacing old, depleted water with fresh saltwater adds these minerals back into the tank. Read More »

Understanding the Role of Magnesium in a Reef Aquarium

MagnesionOften overlooked, Magnesium plays a critical role in the chemical and biological processes in the Marine aquarium. Magnesium is a major element (as opposed to a trace element) and is the third most common element in seawater behind only Sodium and Chloride. Magnesium is an essential element to all organisms for biological functions, and is especially important to organisms that are skeleton building, as Magnesium is a key component of aragonite. Far too often, we find aquarists who are struggling to figure out what is causing issues in their reef aquarium, and Magnesium deficiencies end up being at fault. It is impossible to maintain ideal Calcium and Carbonate levels in salt water without maintaining Magnesium levels as well.  Many folks struggle with keeping their Alkalinity and Calcium to appropriate levels in their marine aquariums, yet never test their Magnesium levels. At levels below natural sea water concentrations of Magnesium (1280-1350 ppm), Calcium and Carbonates will precipitate out with each other in inorganic forms, and dosing either will not achieve the proper results in a low Magnesium environment. Read More »

Tips for Great Aquarium Photography

CameraWhile browsing at aquarium and fish-related websites, books, magazines, other media, it can be easy to take for granted how difficult the beautiful images you see were to capture on film….until you try to take a photo of your own tank. It’s not as easy as taking a snapshot at a family picnic. Aquarium photographs often turn out blurry, overexposed, underexposed, discolored and otherwise unrecognizable, a far cry from what you were trying to capture. So how do you get calendar-worthy snapshots of your tank? Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve come across: Read More »

Tilapia ruweti – A Gem of a Fish from West Africa

Tilapia ruwetiI am not too fond of many tilapia species, for eating or keeping, but recently I find myself staring at a little guy we got in called Tilapia ruweti. Seems there isn’t a lot of information out there on this fish, which is starting to peak my curiosity. What I did find is that they come from the Congo Watershed, the Okavango Delta and Zimbabwe in West Africa. Read More »

Understanding L-Numbers in Catfish Identification

Chaetostoma PlecoThe two-part scientific naming system has been around ever since Carl Linnaeus first set the groundwork for it in the 1700’s. That “Genus species” system hasn’t changed a whole lot since then, but actually assigning a species a “new” name or classifying it as an already-described species can be a long and often confusing process. Is it a new species? Is it a different life stage of species X? What about geographical variations? Or natural variations? Or genetic mutations? Read More »