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Monday, September 8, 2014

How to Control Algae within your Aquarium


 

Even the most experienced fish keeper can fall susceptible to algae. A natural, primitive plant, algae can quickly coat a tank, its decoration and plants in a thick growth that not only looks unattractive, if left unchecked it can also affect the growth and health of other tank life. There are a variety of solutions you can use to control the dreaded algae, from filter media to treatments, retailers like Swell UK have an extensive range of remedies to choose from.

With a little research and some (more) maintenance you can control the onslaught of algae within your aquarium and keep it looking beautiful. Spotting the signs can mean that a problem is more easily controlled.



Recognise the different types…

Green Carpet Algae: This thick, fast spreading algae is the most common. It will cover glass and rocks easily. However it is the most easily removed with good maintenance tools and/or other remedies.

Brown Algae: This is common in new tanks. It grows in sheet form, which can be cleaned off easily. Generally this will disappear as the tank matures.

Green Hair Algae: As the name suggests, this type of algae resembles strands of hair. It can grow quickly, covering large areas.

Beard Algae: This is the toughest type, and as such can be the hardest to remove. It looks like small bristles in a blue/green to black/green, and can be tough to remove if left to grow for too long.

Green Water: This will give your tank a greenish tinge as the suspended growths float in the water. Water changes don’t really help, so blocking all light to the tank for a few days is a good idea.

Causes of algae:
  • • Algae thrives on light, water and nutrients, one of which you can’t remove – but control of the others will certainly help
  • • Nutrients: Nitrates/phosphates in the water, algae feeds on them and can quickly grow if levels are unchecked.
  • • Light: Tank is in direct sunlight or over use of artificial lighting
  • • Over feeding – produces more waste (phosphates)
  • • Lack of maintenance

So, how can you keep on top of it?

Controlling the amount of phosphates and nitrates in your aquarium will reduce the growth of algae, which relies upon these nutrients for growth. Regularly using a test kit will highlight any raise in levels, which can then be treated with the appropriate additive or solution. Using a suitable media in your filter will remove phosphates or nitrates. Swell UK has a broad range of filters and media to ensure your tank is perfectly cleansed.

Don’t over feed your fish. This leads to a high rate of phosphates in the water. Feed a little, no more than twice a day and ensure that it is eaten within a couple of minutes. Remove any clumps of uneaten food as soon as possible.

Keep your tank out of direct sunlight. Sunlight is a key part of the algae formation process and if the tank has too much light it will soon develop and grow.

The same applies to artificial lighting. Only use lighting for a certain amount of time each day. If you would like it on during the day and your tank is in a bright spot, try to make sure that blinds/curtains are drawn to avoid too much light into the tank. A timer is a great idea too, so you can ensure the right amount of light whether you’re at home or away. Make sure that the lighting you use is appropriate for your aquarium.

Another great way to control algae is to introduce an algae eating inhabitant. There is more choice in fresh water algae consumers such as snails, Siamese Flying Fox Fish and other bottom dwellers. Bear in mind that of course, this is not an exact science, a large algae problem may be too much for the hungriest bottom feeder.

Live plants too can be an attractive, natural way to stay on top of algae formation. They too use phosphates to grow, so can deplete the supply of nutrients available to algae.

Another way to keep on top of algae is good tank maintenance. Performing a 10-15% water change every week will certainly help. Before you start to change the water, scrub away the algae with a suitable scraper, this will mean you can remove it when the water is changed. Remove rocks and ornaments and give them a good clean at the same time.

Remember the arrival of algae in your carefully tended aquarium is a natural product and a little can actually add to the look of your fish tank. Just keep a close eye on it to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand, and follow the advice above to maintain your beautiful aquarium.


Further References:

Aquarium Answers; Algae Control


Premium ATI/AAP Sponge Filters

For Aquarium Sponge Filters which are excellent for use in to improve filtration in high bio load and planted aquarium, which in turn lowers nutrients available to algae.

Freshwater Aquarium Care, Basics
Freshwater Aquarium Care



Aquarium or Pond UV Sterilization

True Level One Sterilization can be effective for control or part of a control plan of many types of aquarium algae.


Aquarium Lighting, Information

Aquarium Lighting is a major factor in control of many different algaes including BBA and brown diatom algae

Sponge Filter Use Information
Sponge Filtration; Complete Sponge Filter Use Information


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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

DIY Aquarium Test Tube Holder


 

DIY Test Tube Holder

by Seapetal111 from Everything Aquatic Forum 



This is to share a little idea I came up with that has made working with the liquid water tests a lot easier and nicer for me, so I thought others may find it helpful too. 

It's a separate holder for the tubes, a simple foam block with holes in it and it's a breeze to make. I've found it solves every little frustration I've had in working with these tubes and has some added benefits as well. 

All you need is: 
  • a new block of filter foam
  • some straight pins
  • an exacto knife
  • 20 minutes



THE FOAM  Choose whatever size suits your needs.  The one here is 3.75" long and perfect for 6 tubes, but you could use a larger size for more tubes, or to have a spot for your dropper or even an open area for lids. You could make a separate block with holes to hold lids so as not to lose them. Note: the foam shown here is orange as I had used bleach on it, new ones are white of course. 


PIC 1  Decide where you want to make holes to stand your tubes in, and mark the position on the foam. I used lids and just eye-balled it to space them out evenly. 



PIC 2  Markers don't work great on this coarse foam, so instead I inserted pins to define each 'circle' then removed the lids. Simple straight pins would be more exact, but these are what I had.

Using an exacto knife, cut a cross into the foam in the centre of each circle. I found holding the blade almost vertical worked best. Some sawing was needed.

Important:  
Keep the size of your cross a bit smaller than the size of circle marked (only needs to be large enough to push the tube in; the tube will push the foam out and shape the hole from there). Also, go only half way through the depth of the foam, not more.. you'll see why in a bit.  Remove pins.



PIC 3  Insert the tubes into the holes. As they sit for a while the foam will take the shape of the tube and stay like that. 

You now have all your tubes seated firmly and upright on the one block. It's easy to hold the block up to eye level to fill the tubes. If you get a fairly large dropper like the one shown here, it holds more than enough to fill a tube, so it's easy while holding the tubes up to eye level, to fill slowly and often avoid that overfilling, dumping out and repeating routine!. You can fill all your tubes at once, then go to run all of your tests. 



Test tube tip:  The tube I'm holding in this pic is one with a lid that fits into not over a tube (from a Hagen kit). It will stick on your finger which I've found is fantastic for running the GH/KH tests where you have to add a drop, shake, add a drop, shake. This style of lid makes it very easy to quickly add a drop, close and shake the tube, repeat.


The block makes it so easy to transport used tubes to the sink. No clanging tubes, no broken tubes!. As you rinse them out, return then to the block INVERTED ie facing down. Drops of water left in them will drain down into the foam usually without wetting the surface below (the reason you left some thickness to the foam there) and the tubes will dry quickly, much faster than if left in the kit's holding spot or laying down! If you made space for them, the lids can sit on the block to dry or on some tissue. Once dry they can go on the inverted tubes for safe keeping. If you make a separate holder for them, they can dry there and the two blocks can then be stacked for storage. 


So that's it, folks. Hoping a few at least will find this helpful... cheers!


FURTHER SUGGESTED RESOURCES:

Aquarium Test Kits for DIY Test Tube Holder
Aquarium Test Kits


Aquarium Medications for DIY Test Tube Holder
Aquarium Medications & How They Work



Freshwater Aquarium Care; Basics to Advanced



Why PUR Is More Important than PAR for Aquarium Lighting

A must read article for anyone wanting to move from basic aquarium lighting to more advanced.
It is noteworthy that optimal PUR lighting is not only important for planted or reef aquariums, but for overall health of "fish only" tanks and compliments other aspects of optimal fish care such as feeding and chemistry.



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