Aquarium Fish Forum; Everything Aquatic

The original "Everything Aquatic". Based on the vast library of fish/aquarium keeping guru Carl Strohmeyer.

Looking for the perfect gift for your aquarium keeping friend/relative?
AAP AquaRay LED Lights are second to NONE when it comes to the best lights for your freshwater or marine reef aquarium; this includes MH (in tanks under 30") or other LED Systems!

Discussions about "Everything Aquatic";
fresh/saltwater, ponds

We are the ORIGINAL/TRUE “Everything Aquatic” blog & forum board created in 2005 and sponsored by Fish Keeping Guru Carl Strohmeyer based on his decades of experience and research (do not be fooled by the copycat forum board created around 2012)

For Our Forum Board, Please Click Here:

Most Recent Page Added (see below)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Setting Up A New Saltwater Aquarium


Fish Tank WarehouseIf you've decided that you want to keep fish as pets in your home, then the first steps to getting ready is the purchase and setup of an aquarium to house them. Aquariums come in several varieties, here we'll be discussing the steps for preparing saltwater aquariums for their new inhabitants.
Saltwater aquariums differ from freshwater aquariums in that, obviously, the water used is saltwater which gives a home to a large variety of beautifully colored tropical fish, the same kind you would find natively living in the ocean. In order to make a happy, healthy home for these fish, there are some things you must know and have ready.

For starters, before you purchase your aquarium, you should know how many fish you are interested in purchasing, what sizes they will grow to be and whether or not they can live together. You don't want an overcrowded tank or one that is too small and you definitely don't want your fish fighting or even eating each other. Try to get a tank slightly larger than you need in order to accommodate any new fish you plan on adding to it. Then, if you decide to bring new fish into the aquarium, the room is already there and available without needing to upgrade in size. Once you have your aquarium tank, choose a place for it away from natural light sources (that will cause algae to grow in your tank). Also, make sure you have a sturdy stand capable of supporting not only the aquarium, but the water you'll be filling it with later as well.

Once set up, make sure to clean out your aquarium with a soft cloth or sponge to remove any potential residue left on the inside of the tank before you begin to fill the bottom with your sand, gravel or other substrate. Once the substrate is set, you can either add your pre-mixed saltwater to the aquarium, or add a tap water and sea salt mix (according to proper instructions). After you have your water, fill the tank to about one third full and check the gravity (amount of dissolved salts in the water) which should read about 1.025. Once it's filled, you can set up the rest of your aquarium accessories like the lighting, heaters, filters and pumps (depending on the size and placement of your aquarium) which you should let run for about a day while you measure water temperature, check the salinity balance and also check the tank for leaks.

Once you have the water and equipment of your tank prepared, you should be ready to introduce the underwater landscaping. The addition of live rock to an aquarium is incredibly important for many reasons. The first of which is to make the fish more comfortable, having live rock more closely simulates their natural home. One of the others is that live rock generates organisms such as bacteria that help your aquarium's inhabitants live long, happy lives. It can also be used as a hiding place for shy or easily scared fish as well as becoming an anchor for any corals you decide to introduce to the aquarium. Any live rock you purchase must be cured before adding it to your tank. If not, you risk polluting your tank with deadly ammonia which can, at best, make your fish very sick and at worst, kill them. It's simple to cure most live rock in around one to three weeks in any container large enough to house the rock. You can also cure your rock while setting up your tank before you introduce your fish to the environment.

When you have finished introducing rocks and other accessories to your tank, you can begin cycling by adding a source of ammonia to your tank. This can easily be done by adding manufacturer suggested fluids to your tank. When you do, bacteria that should be in your tank will begin to multiply and the ammonia levels will decrease, leaving behind nitrite. Eventually the rate at which the bacteria breaks down the nitrite will overtake the rate it is created and your tank's system will achieve a good balance of both nitrate and bacteria. This is the most time consuming step in the process and can take up to six weeks to complete. Note that while nitrite isn't toxic to your fish, it can have a negative impact on the tank as a whole and can be easily recognized by watching for an outbreak of algae. Be sure to test ammonia and nitrite levels regularly with testing kits.

Once cycling is complete, make any adjustments you may think necessary to your underwater landscape and you will finally be ready to introduce the fish to their new home! The safest way to add the fish is to place them only one or two at a time to the tank. This gives the tank's bacteria nitrogen cycle system time to adjust to the new ammonia production strain. Test your water until it has returned to normal and wait bout a week before adding more. There you have it, a fully functional and well balanced saltwater aquarium. While the process is time consuming, the end product of beautiful saltwater aquariums is well worth the wait. Just make sure to regularly clean, test and maintain your tank and equipment to ensure the safety and happiness of your new fish.

By Robert Lobitz

See also Saltwater, Marine Reef Aquarium Care, Basics

For proper maintenance of your saltwater aquarium UV Sterilizer, the UV Bulbs should be changed once every six months, for further information, please read this article:
UV Sterilization; Facts & Information

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Feeding Fish (AKA Golden Piranhas)

By Goldenpuon:

This is an comedic narrative essay I (goldenpuon) wrote for a college class. It is about my experience feeding my goldfish. (They are crazy about food I might add.)

Dinner for My Golden Piranhas

It is 6:00 PM. It’s time to feed the fish! As I grin and wonder what antics I will see from my goldfish this evening, I recall why they are so dear to me. My beloved pets were once feeder fish that were raised for the sole purpose of being eaten by larger aquatic animals. But did that mean the inch-long creatures were treated well? No, the poor souls were packed like sardines into small tanks with hundreds of other sick and malnourished individuals. Many lay dead in heaps or weakly flailed their fins in the filter’s current. They were pushed into aquarium walls, other debilitated fish, and even cannibalized by their famished brethren. That is when I became involved. I was on a mission to save the few goldfish I could. I hand-chose the most active and disease-free fish I could find and took them home.

It has been years since the goldfishes’ rescue, and they have blossomed. They have completely lost their fear of humans and gladly accept food given by hand. The fishes’ scales shine, their bodies are plump, and they really seem to enjoy their spacious, clean aquarium. I have done a great service by saving these animals’ lives. This realization brings me even closer to these critters that are as precious to me as any dog or cat.

I suddenly cease daydreaming. It is now a quarter after six. I have mouths to feed! I jump up from my computer desk and scamper to the kitchen cupboard. Using my right hand, I grab the cupboard door knob and hastily swing it open. I eye the cabinet’s contents only a second before I spot my desired quarry: Omega One Goldfish pellets.

After I snatch up the container of food, I close the cupboard door just gently enough not to make a racket. I stride over the old, blotchy kitchen tile. Then I set the fishes’ evening meal on the spotless countertop ledge adjacent to my forty gallon aquarium. I can already see the fish swarming to the left side on the tank they are always fed on. I run back over the discolored tiles and to the nearly spotless kitchen sink. I twist the cold water knob on full force, speedily rinse my hands in the cool water flowing from the faucet, and once more sprint across the kitchen to the tank. After thoroughly drying my hands on a thrice-used yellow rag, I twist open the lid to the aliment and place the lid face-down on the counter.

By now, the ever more gluttonous and eager goldfish are feverishly dancing near the glass. A white little fish paces up and down in frenzy, jerking its entire body eagerly from side to side. Another opens its round, capacious mouth and franticly nibbles on the glass. The largest, orange fish even forgets itself and gives its small silver friend a hardy nip. The rest of the goldfish madly speed through the water carelessly bumping and prodding one another. “You’re silly fish!” I laugh as I give my aquatic pets a caring grin. I reach my hand into the food container and seize a few dozen tiny pellets between my thumb and index finger.

I hold the pellets firmly in my hand to prevent them from dropping to the thick, beige carpet, where they are difficult to spot. At this point, the fish have lost all sense. Eight wild savages beg for their meal at the speed of light. They jostle near the water’s surface with crazed ferocity as they mindlessly smack and strike one another with their fins and bodies. Slowly, the eight goldfish─ still side-by side and miraculously uninjured─ make their way to the water’s surface.

Smiling to myself, I lift the translucent plastic lid of the tank and slide my hand inside the aquarium. I hear clicking and popping noises as a two goldfish nibble at the surface, envisioning that the object of their desire. Casually, I dip my hand into the cold aquarium water. Eager mouths are ready. I smile as several of the toothless creatures bite at my fingers with all their might. I have no concerns about the fish hurting me; even their most forceful bites don’t leave a mark on my hand. Still, their antics, love of food, and reckless, piranha-like behavior amuse me. As I ponder what drives them, I release the fishes’ dinner.

After this, chaos ensues once more. Fish dash for slowly pellets slowly descending to the tank bottom. They rush to gobble up as many bits as they can. Several of the fish practically inhale three pellets at once. Another greedy food-addict nips a tangerine-colored fish’s mouth in hopes that the harassed fish will spit out its partially digested meal. After I screw the lid back onto the Omega One Goldfish pellet container and deposit it safely back into the cabinet, I amble back to the aquarium.

There is no provender left in sight. None is floating in the water column, motionless on the aquarium bottom, or concealed among decorations and green and yellow leaves. However, the ambitious quest for left-overs will persist for a minimum of three hours. I gaze in awe at the fish poking their heads into bushy plants’ fronds, scouring every inch of the tank bottom and sides with their mouths’, and even taking an occasional nibble at the cylindrical filter intake tube. I wave at the fish to both to be silly and express how much I love my goofy, single-minded pets.

After fifteen minutes, I step back from the aquarium. I gaze around the living room until I spot my mother slouched forward on an armchair, carefully reading over paperwork. “Want to know what the goldfish did?” I ask excitedly as I do every evening. She turns away and peers closer at the documents, visibly tormented by my constant talk about fish. But I don’t give her reaction much thought. I merely shrug and return to the aquarium.

Two of the goldfish abandon their futile search. They swim up to me, wiggling their fins in greeting, but not with as much enthusiasm as before. I shake my head. Their calmness will be short-lived. As soon as I disappear from sight, these two will join the other savages speedily foraging once more.

Crazy goldfish, I rescued you, and your behavior has forever changed me. Without me, none of you would have ever experienced the comfort of a clean tank or known the heart of a caring human-being. If I had not seen the terrible suffering in that tiny tank and taken you home, I would not be the person I am now. Golden piranhas: the creatures that form the fishy center of my world.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Omega, Tetra, Hikari, HBH and other Fish Foods



This Everything Aquatic Blog post comes from the the forum board thread: Omega One brand fish food. This post has been edited with both added and deleted information.
Posts from the original thread are began with each author for ease of following the flow of comments, information.

I originally came here to ask a question but a quick search revealed what I wanted to know - that Carl and others think this is a quality food.

Rather than ask a question for which I already have an answer, I thought I'd just mention this for anybody that might benefit.

I noticed that an online retailer was selling specialized foods for livebearers that was formulated more towards the herbivorous side, containing vegetable ingredients such as spirulina.

I already feed Hikari Spirulina Brine Shrimp, which my fish absolutely love but it's a treat more so than a staple diet.

Later, when I was at Petsmart getting some cat food I asked the lady and she said that corporate has mandated they feed their livebearers Omega One brand Veggie Rounds.

So I took a look at it and compared it to some of the foods in the catalog, like Tetra Veggie Crisps.

Omega One Fish FoodThe top 5 ingredients in the Omega One food were whole kelp, spirulina, whole salmon, black cod, and whole herring. Wheat flour was the 7th ingredient listed and in fact, the ONLY two "filler" ingredients in the food were wheat flour and wheat gluten. Outside of the 7 ingredients I just mentioned, the rest of the ingredients were either additional seafood ingredients (ie. krill), added vitamins, or coloring.

The Tetra food, by comparison, has the following top ten ingredients: Fish Meal, Dried Yeast, Cornstarch, Shrimp Meal, Wheat Gluten, Ground Brown Rice, Potato Protein, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Fish Oil, and Algae Meal.

It also contains MILK (?!?!?!) and 3 ingredients I recognize as preservatives. There's a half dozen artificial colorings and some things that I have no idea what they are for, like Cobalt Nitrate Hexahydrate.

What was somewhat disheartening, after digging deeper, was that the ingredient lists some of my favorite food brands (like the Hikari Micro Pellets I FINALLY found for my neon/glo-lite Tetras) looked a lot closer to the Tetra food than the Omega One. The micro pellets, for example, contains not only wheat fillers but corn as well.

All of that said, though, I have to tip my hat to Petsmart if what the sales associate told me is true. The big box stores sometimes get the reputation of being "puppy mills" when it comes to fish, and sometimes rightfully so. But it sure looks like to me that they're feeding their fish one of the better foods available instead of just using the cheap stuff.

While I still feel Hikari is a much better brand than Tetra (based in part on feeding trials where Tetra did not do well when compared to many brands), Hikari has also done a good job of marketing, thus convincing many that Hikari is the best of the best when often they are not.

As for fillers, some are needed (such as roughage), and what ingredients lists often do not show is the quality of the source. Hikari for instance uses regular committed sources, while Tetra goes for the lowest bidder at the time. Finally, Hikari also does a better job than many foods at 'upping' their food quality with "minor" ingredients as well as research & testing.

I do agree that Omega One is "one of the best brands", my only complaint is they use very much the same ingredients (albeit quality) for the entire line, this is particularly noticeable with the Omega Veggie Flakes where Spirluina & other vegetable content is not as good as products such as the superior HBH Veggie Flake or Spirulina 20 Veggie diets (unless this has changed sine the last time I checked).

Also (& not to seem bitter), Omega was originally marketed via specialty stores only that in turn spent a great deal of effort in promoting their product. After achieving much public attention of their product via these specialty stores effort, Omega Fish foods ceased sales to these store and is now primarily a mass market fish food brand (it is even found on Amazon, which has a terrible reputation of selling cr## aquarium products with no product knowledge to back them up).

This of course does not make Omega a poor product, as I have used and tested it extensively (and still recommend it in my fish nutrition article), I just have some ethical issues with the company and I am attempting to explain why PetsMart promotes this product (in other words PetsMart and PetCo are not doing this out of the "goodness of their hearts", rather these foods are provided to these stores as part of a marketing plan).

Yeah, I didn't mean to make it sound like Hikari was "as bad" as Tetra.

I just noticed that their ingredient lists looked more like Tetra than it did Omega One.

I also realize that this varies by individual product as much as it does brand in a lot of cases. A good example is Aqueon, who makes a few flakes with artificial color enhancers as well as most flakes without.

FYI, I'm not using Veggie Flakes, I'm using Veggie Rounds, which are similar to the sinking wafers you would feed to pleco only thinner and smaller. Unfortunately, I don't have access to HBH or Spirulina 20 here. We only have 3 LFS. 2 of them sell basically all the same foods as the Petsmarts/Petcos. The other LFS makes and packages his own food and since I don't know anything about it really, I haven't tried it.

Finally, there's no need to apologize for sounding bitter. That IS pretty poor on their part. They used the grass roots guys to do the heavy lifting and then turned around and cashed in with a bigger distribution channel. It's especially bad if they just used the specialty stores to avoid having to shell out a lot of money for marketing.

I've used Omega One Veggie Rounds before too! They definitely have some of the better ingredients out there. Right now I'm using HBH Algae Grazers. After I got the pleco, I decided that the little can of Veggie Rounds I had before wasn't going to last long. The Algae Grazers come in a nice resealable bag. The beginning of their ingredients list is Spirulina Algae, dehydrated alfalfa mean, pea power, soy flower... and on and on. There are a lot of vegetable powders in it, not sure if that's good or bad.

I believe I bought this at Petsmart.
My cories and pleco enjoy them and they seem to be doing ok...

You know what else I bought on a whim at Petsmart? Dried seaweed. It comes in sheets, and I just tear off a VERY small piece and try to weigh it down with an anchor. I pretty much just use it for my shrimp tank. One small piece breaks up into lots of bits of seaweed! I really need to get a new veggie clip, then I can try it in other tanks. The ingredient list on that package just says "Dried Nori Sheets." It has lots of protein... 37%

I'm definitely not a fish food expert but have done a lot of research around food ingredients, whether it's for my fish, my dog, or ME.

Back during the "great dog food scare" (my brother lost his dog due to renal failure) I started watching closely - I was shocked to see so many ingredients that have no place in a dog's diet, like eggs, milk, and grain gluten. In my opinion, they're adding those things to increase the protein content in the cheapest way possible.

Gluten has long been used in Asia as a meat substitute, especially in Japan. Much like they have soybean tofu, they also have gluten-based foods that have similar texture. That being said, you wouldn't feed tofu to your dog (or fish) would you? Tofu is supposed to be consumed by people - we're omnivores. Vegetable protein extracts (or worse, synthetic vegetable proteins) aren't metabolized the same way by strictly carnivorous animals like dogs.

In my opinion, I would watch out for protein "fillers" which on your list above would be soy. A veggie food should contain VEGGIES. When they're adding wheat gluten, soy, or other proteins derived from grains, they're NOT adding as much REAL protein that fish need which would be derived from obvious sources, such as...I don't know...FISH?

However, the biggest problem with soy and gluten proteins isn't the above.

Glutens are also the basic source of glutamate, what the Japanese call "umami". The 4 basic tastes are salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. The 5th taste, umami, is what we call savory - the flavor produced by proteins and amino acids found primarily in meat. In several Asian cultures, especially where Buddhism was prevalent, there was a desire to experience umami without eating meat so foods using soy and gluten proteins became very popular.

Of course, in the modern world it seems making things naturally is either too time-consuming, too expensive, or both. Some scientist somewhere found a way to synthesize umami by extracting the amino acids and then processing them into a salt. It's being used anywhere and everywhere we'll allow it, both in our food and our pets.

The effects of MSG have been studied extensively and go well beyond the common stuff you've heard about, like migraine headaches for example. I'm sure all of us have heard people say that they're hungry again not 2 hours after eating at the all-you can eat buffet. The reason for that is because MSG effects insulin response, which causes your blood sugar to drop. That makes you hungry again despite the fact that you just ate.

Rather than provide an incomplete list from my own memory, I actually Googled this so you can see. This came from the book “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills” by Russell Blaylock. M.D.

The following additives always contain MSG:
Glutamic acid
Yeast extract
Monosodium glutamate
Autolyzed yeast
Monopotassium glutamate
Sodium caseinate
Textured protein
Calcium caseinate
Hydrolyzed protein (any protein that is hydrolyzed)

I have also learned to watch for the following as they either can contain MSG or are related to MSG - malt flavorings or extracts, "natural" meat flavorings, soy sauce or soy proteins, milk-derived proteins such as whey, wheat proteins, and protein or enzyme "isolates".

There are vegetables that are just naturally high in protein and thus "umami" which you'll find in Japanese food and also in fish food. One of them is nori - how ironic!

"Dried Nori Sheets."
I have a package of it. My ghost shrimp won't eat it. It just sits there in a gelatinous sludge until I vacuum it out.

Very Informative Parker!

I too attended many Pet Food seminars (mostly for Dog and Cat Food when I was more active in this aspect of the pet industry); it is amazing what can and does go into many pet foods and that you can produce the "Guaranteed Analysis" of proteins, ash, etc. with some pretty poor ingredients (such as old leather shoes in one example I recall).

The only part of your excellent lesson I do not quite follow is about "nori". Were you stating this is the same as MSG?

The reason I am unclear is that there are many excellent vegetable, non meat sources of usable proteins (amino acids) such as Spirulina. Nori is also highly digestible and I have seen Yellow Tangs in particular fatten up and get back lost color from poor diets (which often sadly included feeding lettuce) from a diet that included copious amounts of nori (at least 50% of the diet)

Of coarse it depends upon the fish or other animal you are feeding as you would not expect your cat to thrive on alfalfa while your horse would not do very well even on the best brand cat food available.

Aqueon Fish Food I am also curious as to the Aqueon foods you found with artificial color enhancers, as this is Aqueon's claim to only use natural ingredient such as "Natural Astaxanthin" & "Marigold Powder" found in their Cichlid Sticks and Tropical fish food flakes.

Of coarse what a fish food manufacturer claims and what in fact is the reality of their product may be a gray area, however I personally have not seen this with Aqueon while I have with Omega (as an example, Omega's Veggie flake is not really a true Veggie Flake).

Sorry if that was misleading.

I was attempting to say that the largest variety of natural, savory flavors come from animal-derived proteins/amino acids. However, it's not necessary to use artificial flavorings like MSG to experience umami without meat.

Many vegetables contain glutamates, like tomatoes and potatoes (actually, most MSG production today starts with the fermentation of beets). Mushrooms are also naturally savory.

However, some vegetables are extremely high in natural umami. It's no coincidence that nori seaweed is so prevalent in Japanese cuisine. In terms of amino acids/proteins, nori is one of the most "savory" plants in the world.

Sorry I made it confusing before. I should have just said "nori is one of the best fish food ingredients I can think of."

By the way, another big concept in umami is the "layering" of flavors because some savory flavors are subtle and certain proteins combined with others create more interesting combinations.

A good example would be slapping a slice of cheese on a hamburger. The hamburger by itself is savory. So is the cheese. However, putting them together produces a more complex flavor that the two individually can't provide. It's the reason why a sushi roll has fish in the middle and nori on the outside.

My fish get to experience this a few times a week when I feed them Hikari Spirulina Brine Shrimp.

Recommended Reading:

*Aquarium & Pond Fish Nutrition

Other Aquarium Articles of Interest:

*Aquarium Lighting
*Head Pressure in Aquarium Pumps
*Betta Fin Rot
*Aquarium Parasites

Products of Interest

Submersible UV Filter/Pump
A simple yet effective UV Sterilizer for level one sterilization; ready to go out of the box

Power Head Pump for Aquariums
Superior performance to Hagen or Marineland.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

New Tank Cycling; Aquarium Blog


From the Everything Aquatic Thread: New tank cycling parameter confusion by Aquaglory (Nicole)

Hi everyone. It's been a while...

Well, I don't think my tank is fully cycled, yet (I'm at day 33). The pH dropping to 6.0 probably stalled the process, along with some leftover plant decay (from before I had adequate lighting) and from new plants suffering from shipping. I had done some spotty water changes to try to bring up the pH and to get rid of as much decaying plant material as possible, and then the last couple of times added a small amount of bicarb with the water change. When I did this last kind of water change, I noticed that my ammonia went to 0.25ppm, nitrite 0.25ppm, and nitrate 5ppm. I added Amquel plus to protect the cardinals. I have to admit that the last time I added bicarbonate, the pH went up too quickly from 6.0 to 6.5 and I think this triggered an Ich infection. At least the pH has finally stabilized in the past couple of days.

I started Seachem Paraguard yesterday (I had seen one spot on one cardinal the day before yesterday. Today I saw a different cardinal with a single spot, but none on the others). All cardinals are acting lively and healthy, feeding eagerly on Spirulina flakes and picking on the occasional detritus worm (not as many in the tank as before, now). I also added Nitromax (even if it's not ideal, I wanted to boost the system while I was treating with Paraguard, also to help bring down the ammonia/nitrite levels). Interestingly, before adding either the Paraguard or Nitromax yesterday, the parameters were: ammonia 0.25, nitrite 0, and nitrate 5. I have a lot of plants in the tank with fairly vigorous growth (had to prune some yesterday). I have only tested the pH today, but am planning to test the other parameters, later.

SOOOOO....... What would I do differently if I were to start this process all over again? Carl may or may not disagree with some of this, but I think I would try it this way:

-In this particular situation, I knew I wanted some plants that require better lighting. I would try to start out with the right lighting first to minimize plant die-off in the beginning. The AquaRay GroBeam 500 is working great for my 36 gallon bow front. If anyone is wondering, my plants are doing significantly better than when I had just the T-8 bulb that came originally with the tank. I use both of them, now. As an example, I have some Telanthera reineckii that, after about a third of it melting, is now growing well with the tops of the leaves bronze colored and the undersides very dark pink.

-The Baylee's Better Bottom substrate (meant for plants) that I got on has worked extremely well for me, so far, so I would use it again. I chose the very fine gravel for easier planting.

-I would fill the tank with treated water, using Seachem Prime (I had avoided it because I had not read the label properly and thought that it coated the fish to give them a slime coat. I didn't want it to coat my Neocaridina shrimp that I have in my 5 gallon tank). I now realize I was wrong, Seachem Prime STIMULATES the slime coat PRODUCTION by the fish rather than choking the fish with some kind of Aloe vera-like coating all over, including the gills. At this point, I will just finish off the Amquel plus/API tap-water conditioner combination that I've been using, so far. This combination is a bit redundant, but the API tap-water conditioner neutralizes toxic metals while the Amquel plus does not. Seachem Prime does it all.

-I would then let things run for 24 hours to let things settle a bit. The tank will be super cloudy at this point.

-I would only bring my pH down from 7.8 (what's in my tap water) to 7.4 or 7.5, but wait until the tank was established before trying to adjust it further. (When I first filled this current tank, I had brought the pH to my desired 6.8 pH level, then the plant decay drove it down further.)

-If I were smart and planned way ahead, I would have place the sponge and the ceramic chips from the new filter into my established tank 2 OR 3 WEEKS PRIOR to starting the new tank. OR If I had media that I could use from an old, non-infected tank, I would then use that in the new tank-- either filter media/sponge or gravel.

-I would still add the driftwood from the established tank. Prior to adding any new/dry driftwood, I would soak it, like I did, for a long time in hot tap water with very frequent total water replacement (at least daily) until the water was not turning yellow much, anymore. Then, when I was ready to place it in the tank, I would soak it one more time but in treated water to get rid of any chlorine/chloramine.

By the way, for any "newbies" reading, the new driftwood developed an unsightly translucent white film for a couple of weeks that eventually went away on its own (the old driftwood did not). Just leave the film alone-- you can't get rid of it manually anyway; all you will do is dislodge swaths of it that will float around your tank.

If I didn't have any media I could use from an old tank, I would use one of the bacterial starters on the market.
I would even consider trying the Tetra Safe Start again, but this time adding it to the tank the day after starting to add some fish food or ammonia drops (Tetra recommends starting with fish the day BEFORE adding the Safe Start so ammonia would be present, but that would be cycling with fish). If I had the money, I would consider the Turbostart700 (super expensive, though). If fish were in the tank, I would minimize feeding (no more than a flake a day) until the tank appeared to be cycled so that the ammonia would not build up too quickly. (I may not feed much more than that even after the tank was cycled.)

Of note: I had kind of started cycling the tank with fish food, but did not continue to add food daily, so I think the ammonia never adequately built up to get the nitrification started. I was concerned about pollution from the food itself. I also mistakenly thought that the decaying plants would provide the ammonia needed. I didn't realize that that decay was actually slowing the process.

-Though I might add plants from day one, I would not add any frilly plants like Myriophyllum (frill), Hornwort, or Cabomba until later in the process when the nitrites would start to show. These fine leaved plants were the ones that disintegrated the most in the beginning and caused the pH crash. If I did add plants from the start, I would first choose Java Fern and/or Annubias, since these are tough plants that tend not to disintegrate so rapidly, if at all, under proper conditions. If there were any plant decay, I would promptly remove it (even with scissors or with a fish net, if necessary).

-Then, I would let the system "roll", adding the necessary ammonia (see Carl's info on cycling tanks) until I would see those sought-after nitrites, followed by nitrate spikes... SIGH...... Also, I read online that water changes ARE advocated to maintain levels of ammonia not too much above 1ppm. This person did a little experiment and actually found that, not only were water changes OK, but the tank that had water changes done cycled faster by one day. (He had 2 tanks both fishless cycled from scratch, using ammonia drops- same dose in both tanks. One tank he left alone other than dosing ammonia, the other he maintained lower ammonia levels with water changes). By the way, this guy also advocated maximum water circulation to optimize oxygenation.

So I hope this little summary of the lessons I have learned so far will help someone else...

(I keep hoping I'm close to cycled!!! LOL)


Suggested Reading:

“The Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle”
“Aquarium Nitrates”
“Hydrogen Sulfides”
“Use of RO and Household Soft Water in Aquarium”

Other Reading of Aquatic Interest:

“Aquarium Lighting”
“Aquarium Planaria”
“Wonder Shells”

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Water clouds with Flourish Iron


By parker002 from the Everything Aquatic Forum Board

I posted my observations about temperature, it's relationship, and how I sensed it was affecting my shrimp.

Several people commented that they appreciated it since there aren't a lot of people here that are keeping them. So I thought I would start a thread to share some of the other things I'm learning now that my bamboo shrimp experience is in full swing. Maybe I can even convince a few of you to get one!

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a scientist or a professional aquarist. This stuff is based on my own observations and some stuff I've read on the internet that is supported by those observations. I AM NOT AN EXPERT.

First of all, if you're not sure what I'm talking about, I'm talking about atyopsis - a "filter feeding" shrimp. At your LFS, you'll see them referred to as bamboo, wood, or flower shrimp. They might also be referred to as Singapore shrimp. They're different from a lot of other shrimp in that they don't have claws, they have 4 feathery front "arms". Rather than killing (like crayfish) or picking (like algae-eaters) with claws, they use their feathers to filter micro-organisms from the water.

Bamboo Shrimp
Here's a picture of mine. The girls call him Pierre. The picture isn't great, but it does show his filters in action.

The only real advice I can give if you are thinking about getting a bamboo shrimp is to remember that he's not a fish. Of course, that fact is probably why you wanted a shrimp in the first place but the flip-side is that you have to treat him differently, too.

Here are some things I've had to deal with:

  1. Fish get sick once in a while, and one of the most common issues is probably Ich. In general, medications that treat Ich and other similar parasites contain things that will KILL your shrimp. Copper and other heavy metals are toxic as are many other substances. If you already use a hospital tank for treating fish disease, you're in good shape. But if your used to just dosing your tank, it gets more complicated.

    Further Resources:
    Aquarium Medications, Information, Facts, Research, Resources
    Aquarium Ich, Ichthyophthirius multifilis and Cryptocaryon, Freshwater, Saltwater
    Aquarium Medications 3, Chemical Treatments

    Otherwise, you might consider products such as Herbal Ich Attack, which although not a strong anti-Ick treatment, it is also safe for Shrimp.

  2. Recommended Product Resource: Herbal Ich Attack from AAP

  3. Water quality is always critical but it seems to be even more so with shrimp. They're extremely sensitive to ammonia. And as I observed previously, low dissolved oxygen is much more apparent with shrimp than with fish.

    Further Resources:
    Water Quality & A Healthy Aquarium
    Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle, Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates

  4. Be careful when doing water changes and cleaning your tank. I've noticed my shrimp is also much more sensitive to stress than my fish. Absolutely DO NOT remove all your ornaments while cleaning your tank. These guys want places to hang out. A bare tank is a sure way to stress them to death.
    Further Resources: Aquarium Cleaning, Water Change Methods

  5. A happy bamboo shrimp will eat almost all of the time. But this doesn't mean you'll see them feeding like you would other shrimp. If a bamboo shrimp is getting enough to eat in my experience, they won't move for long periods of time (even DAYS). They'll sit with their filters deployed and eat continuously by putting the filter in their mouth and pulling debris off of it.
    They depend on their food coming to them (via water currents) much more than fish. If your shrimp is picking the substrate, even though it seem like normal behavior for a shrimp, it's actually not good - he's probably not getting enough to eat. Make sure you have a spot where they can set themselves in the current and they should do well.

  6. On the subject of starvation, you might be tempted to give more fish food, in an effort to feed your shrimp. If you have livebearers like me, all you'll end up with are super fat fish and a shrimp that still isn't getting enough to eat. Also, over-feeding can lead to poor water quality which can create a whole host of problems. Also see my comments in the next bullet regarding scavenging.

    Further Resources:
    Livebearer Fish Information, Guppy, Molly, Play, Swordtail, Endlers"
    Fish Food

  7. I have a 55G tank with several fish. Bamboo shrimp are omnivorous. If you have a setup like that, you shouldn't need to feed your shrimp separately very often. They should get enough to eat from decaying fish waste and other small organisms in your water. I should be more specific about scavenging. These shrimp are NOT scavengers in the sense that they'll pick through the substrate looking for leftover fish food. In fact, if they're doing that, they're probably STARVING. In the strictest sense of the word, scavenger means an animal that feeds on dead or decaying matter and a bamboo shrimp certainly does that. They just do so PASSIVELY (filtering the water column) whereas I think a lot of people hear scavenger and think of the raccoon in their garbage or a vulture picking at a deer on the highway.

  8. It's still fun (if not necessary) to give treats once in a while. To avoid issues with the fish, I use a medicine dropper and introduce "treats" to my shrimp directly rather than putting it in the water where the fish can get it first.

  9. I also try to give my shrimp supplements that are less enticing to the fish in general. I've found if I crush bloodworms into a fine powder, the fish ignore them but he loves it. I also feed small amounts of frozen plankton (copepods) by mixing a small chunk with tank water and squirting it near him. The fish like these too, though, so I have to be careful.
    Further Resources: Freeze Dried Fish Foods, Brine Shrimp, Plankton, Blood Worms

  10. I did stumble onto another off-the-wall treat that he REALLY enjoys. When I bought my tank, the LFS guy gave me some powder called BioZyme to start my tank. It didn't work, I'm guessing because powdered bacteria are pretty dead.
    I ended up using liquid Turbo Start (my tank cycled within 48 hours of adding it) and I've had this BioZyme sealed in a tube ever since.
    Out of curiosity, I mixed a TINY bit of it (the size of a BB maybe) with water and squirted it at him. I've never seen him eat like that, he went crazy! That being said, I have no idea if feeding my shrimp TANK STARTER BACTERIA is a good idea or not. I wasn't going to use it for anything else, so I thought I would try it.
    Further Resources: Aquarium Cycling Products

  11. One of the things Carl always preaches here on the boards is that proper mineralization is important if you want healthy fish. For shrimp and other invertebrates with ecto-skeletons, it's absolutely essential that you have good mineral content, especially calcium. Bamboo shrimp molt and need calcium to build a new shell. Mine has already molted twice in about 8 weeks and I've read similar stories elsewhere on the internet. All of our water around here comes out of limestone aquifers, so for me it's not an issue. If you have soft water, make sure you are adding minerals, especially calcium.

    Further Resources:
    Aquarium Chemistry, GH, pH, KH, Calcium
    Wonder Shells to Improve Mineral Content (unique version)

  12. Speaking of molting, make sure your shrimp has a place to hide. I have never observed my fish attacking him, but while molting they're super-soft and vulnerable and could be damaged beyond repair.

  13. While I've never seen my fish bother the shrimp, I HAVE seen the shrimp attack fish. It's actually harmless and quite funny. His feathers are completely harmless - again, they're not claws in any way. He's fairly aggressive (he jumps at me when I come to the glass LOL) but it's all for show.

  14. Finally, I have observed a quite peculiar and fascinating behavior. When he's using all 4 filters to feed, he uses them in an exact order. If the first filter to go into his mouth is the bottom-right one, the top-right is next. I've sat for as long as 15 minutes at a time and watched him feed in this strict linear pattern. It's hilarious. My daughter and I have observed him for literally hours over the past month and he might break his sequence once or twice every 50 iterations. Just another little thing that makes this things so much fun!

  15. For purchasing, I don't use the same process I use with fish. Shrimp are SO fragile and because of that, I don't really feel they're subject to the same kind of hidden problems you get with fish. Again, this is my own personal opinion and not in any based in fact, but for me, if a store has a half dozen shrimp and they're active and using their filters, that's good enough. If there were something wrong with them, they'd be DEAD.
    The reason I think this is important is because they are so fragile. If you're like me, your first shrimp is probably going to die just due to unfamiliarity. At the 2 LFS in my area, they sell for $16 and $18. Wal-Mart sells them for $7 and I got mine at Petco for $6. I bought my first one at the LFS for $18 and he died within a handful of days. This one is thriving and I save more than $10.

  16. Here's some additional info I forgot regarding coloration. I've read all kinds of different thoughts about the color of these things. I've read they turn bright red when happy. I've also read that they turn bright red when stressed or when death is imminent. I've made some observations regarding this because I've been paying special attention to his color (yes, I'm curious!).
    My shrimp was dark brown at the store but he's now red. It's possible that he was brown due to "unhappiness" but that's an awful lot of emotion to ascribe to an animal that technically doesn't have a brain (They have a system of ganglia.

    If our human brain were a powerful home computer, think of a shrimp as having a hand held calculator.) I thought maybe coloration was related to the environment. The tanks at the LFS where I bought mine had black walls and dark substrate in a very dark room. I have sandstone substrate and a well-lit room. I thought it might be some sort of "camouflage" reaction.
    However, while I'm treating my fish for disease I currently have him in the girls' bedroom in a small betta tank with black substrate and poor aquarium lighting. He's still red. There is one thing I'm convinced of - a HEALTHY shrimp will be deeply colored, whether brown, red, or whatever.

    Further Resources:
    Aquarium Gravel, Substrate
    Aquarium Lighting

  17. If your shrimp is turning white or looking pale, my opinion is that he's either stressed, dying, or both. I've read several places that a dying shrimp turns bright red and my own observation doesn't support that.
    My current shrimp is red and has been since the day I got him. Now, I did own a bamboo shrimp previously (when I first got my 55G tank) and without much knowledge or him or aquaria in general, I got to watch it die. I can say with a fair amount of confidence that a DYING shrimp will turn pale or white, not red. I did observe my first shrimp turn bright red after it was but not the same red that my current, living shrimp displays. My current shrimp is translucent (yes, you can see through him to a certain degree) and tinted a deep blood red.
    My dead shrimp, shortly after dying, turned an opaque, bright red, similar to the color of Alaskan king crab after it's boiled in it's shell at Red Lobster. I'm assuming that's some kind of calcification process.

Hopefully, this spurs a few of you to try this out. My shrimp is easily the most interesting item in my tank!

For Sponge Filters which are excellent for use in your Shrimp Aquariums (regardless of type of shrimp), as these provide unbeatable bio filtration in a small space with gentle water agitation. These premium Sponge Filters also provide spaces for shrimp to hide.

For the full Thread, Please follow this link: Bamboo shrimp anecdotes.

For other articles that may interest readers of this article:

*Aquarium Planaria

*Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle

*UV Sterilization; this is an excellent article for those desiring to lower the risk of disease in their shrimp tank, especially since shrimp are sensitive to many medications. This article starts with basics, answers many facts and myths, and provides UV bulb maintenance information too.

*Betta Fin Rot; Ammonia Control

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Uninterruptible Power Source/ UPS Test

From the complete thread: UPS Test


This might be of some interest to anyone that experiences power outages from time to time and was considering a UPS purchase to keep things running during a blackout. On Black Friday I purchased a couple of UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), mostly to replace some aging ones I had for computer backup but since the sale price was so good I ended up getting 2 spare ones. I wanted to try one out for aquarium back-up power to run at least 1 filter in my tank when power is lost. The model I got was an APC 550VA/330W; it just so happens that one of the larger aquarium supply businesses also sells this model for this purpose (I can't recall who now) but I didn't know this at the time of purchase. Anyway I've been experimenting a bit with it off and on when I have spare time.

As a reference, I used a 40-watt lamp as my first test. To test the UPS, it must be fully charged (overnight) then unplugged from the wall to simulate power loss. The 40-watt lamp lasted exactly 90 minutes which was pretty good.
Next I tried some air pumps and HOB filters each by them self to isolate each test load. The results weren't nearly as good. Of the 3 air pumps I have only one ran normally. The other two did not run or the output dropped to virtually nothing. I also have 3 HOB filters and only one ran completely normally. One ran acceptably but seemed a little erratic and one did not run.


  • 40-watt lamp - ran 90 minutes
  • no-name small air pump that came with 3g hex tank - did not run
  • TopFin (Petsmart brand) 60g air pump - did not run
  • Whisper 10 air pump with 2.2-watt motor - ran normally for 65 minutes
  • Aqueon 10 HOB - ran, forgot time but seemed to have trouble starting at first so had to cycle power manually
  • Aqueon 30 HOB - did not run, made clicking noises

Via Aqua Vitalife 200 HOB with 8-watt motor - ran normally for 60 minutes

Although we generally have reliable power here and it's rare to lose power for more than a few hours, I thought this would be a nice addition to my setup; it also has surge protection built-in (it has surge-protected outlets that are not battery-backed) so it may help pro-long the life of other things (heater, UV sterilizer, etc.).
You may be wondering why the run times (for those that ran normally) are so low, especially compared to the 40-watt lamp which would appear to be a much bigger load. Without getting too technical, this particular UPS (and most of the cheaper ones) when on battery backup attempts to synthesize the normal household waveform (sinusoidal) instead of generating a true sinusoid. This can play havoc with some kinds of loads (motors in particular). Other possible problems that could reduce motor efficiency are harmonics and low power factor but I suspect the main problem here is the approximated sinusoid output (which can increase harmonics as well).

I also tried piggybacking my spare UPS to see if I could get double the run time but the second UPS would make clicking noises every few seconds when I unplugged the first UPS from the wall (meaning it was confused by the non-sinusoid output and was switching back and forth between normal and lost power mode). It should be noted that if you are wanting to run a resistive load like a heater with a UPS it should be fine (although I can't see the need for this since temperature drops rather slowly).

Interesting post fishfever

This is subject that I have actually had a lot of experience in, in part dating back to the 1980s to find a way to protect my clients tanks from power failure where I designed my own DC pumps with electric switches (I purchased at Radio Shack) to hold the circuit open while plugged into House Current (loss of power closed the circuit)

Later as I became an avid RV camper I experimented with Inverters (which convert DC to AC power), in the late 90s.

The first "cheaper" inverter (rated at 400 watts) although claiming to be a modified sine wave inverter, could not run many pieces of equipment such as drills and motors.
The second model although rated at 400 watts too (800 surge) had no problem loading up to its rating.

Both were connected to Deep Cycle batteries in parallel; by parallel, this means placing the batteries in connection in such a way that keeps the batteries at 12 volts, but nearly doubles amp output versus in series which would make the output 24 volts (4 1.5 V 'D' Batteries in series would be 6 V).
By using the same energy source, I knew this ruled out the lack of energy since you (for example) cannot connect a 1500 watt inverter to one standard auto battery.

I know true sine wave inverters are available, but according to reviews I have read from RV Journals, these give little more than the modified sine wave but for the most delicate of electronics, which your aquarium equipment does not qualify as.

What I do not know is why the more costly (triple the cost) heavy duty inverter worked better than the cheap one when the ratings were the same, but I suspect that the claim of a modified sine wave was not true, as it behaved more like a square wave inverter.

My suggestion is to get one or two deep cycle batteries and connect a good modified sine wave inverter to them, your run time will be vastly longer.

In fact in 2000, I used a couple of series 24 Deep Cycle RV Batteries and a 800 watt inverter for my Aquarium Store. We had a major blackout in 2001 and were able to run all our electronics (cash registers, etc.), pumps, lights (no heaters, air though, but then it was summer in LA). This ran fine for a few hours with a full load when power returned. What was interesting is that mobile 24/7 radio reporter for LA station KFWB was driving down the street we were located on and noticed our business was still functioning while others were in the black, and interviewed an employee of mine who showed them our system.

BTW, the Azoo continuous run pump I sell has an AC motor (at least it appears so when I took it apart since it uses a vibrator motor which require alternating current to function), so this pump is essentially an inverter as opposed to a converter (or DC switch). I should note that I only took apart the pump part, but I think this is a safe assumption.

I was out of town for a few days but had a few minutes this morning to capture some waveforms. I used an old scope and a simple resistor network to divide the voltage down to something that wouldn't overload/damage my scope.

Household alternating current sine wave
This is the way our normal 115vac right from the wall appears or when the UPS is plugged into the wall. As you can see, it's not a perfect sinusoid (could be to the various loads on it) but it's pretty close to a pure sinusoid:

 modified, square sine wave

This is the output of the UPS when unplugged from the wall and using it's internal battery-powered inverter:

 modified, square sine wave

I also had an old Tripplite inverter in my pickup truck so I hooked it up to a 13vdc power supply and looked at it as well:

As you can see these inverters are nowhere near sinusoidal output. They call them modified sine but the approximation is really, really poor. I was expecting (or hoping to see) small stair-step approximations but this is only slightly better than a square wave. The only thing that makes this slightly better than a square wave is the duty cycle (amount of time waveform is not zero per cycle) is a lot lower than 100%. It is no wonder that the ac motors don't like to run well off of these inverters. I understand from talking to APC tech support that they make a SmartUPS series that has sinusoidal output (but is also pricier). I think I can do better by getting my own sinusoid UPS and battery combination; I'll report back when I get around to this... But in the mean time, I'd steer clear of general run-of-the-mill UPS types for aquarium back-up power as it's likely to be a big waste of money and time.

Although I have never "scoped" mine (I do not have one, but my Dad does, so maybe he can check his someday), I have not had issues with my Tripplite heavy duty modified sine wave inverter that is hard wired into my camper.
I did have problems with a cheapie one purchased at Walmart than connects to a cigarette lighter or clips to the batteries.

My understanding is that the modified sine wave is more like the square wave when scoped than the true sine wave.

Please see this article from an online RV Blog I subscribe to:
RV Doctor – Should I Install an Inverter in My RV?

Likely there are differences in quality, as I had similar issues with the cheapie Walmart inverter of similar cost to yours.
Where as the heavy duty hard wired unit cost me $400 (although this price has come down since I purchased as most electronics have)

I take it nothing running in the aquarium requires any power conditioning? I have two UPS' but they're for computers. I could run my aquarium off of one of them, but I wouldn't think of running my servers off of a homemade DC inverter.

Power conditioning is always better than none and is easily provided using an inexpensive passive wall strip to distribute power when there is no power outage. The sine wave output inverters we are talking about are not homemade; however they are more expensive than the cheaper modified sine versions (which is really just a square wave with the output suppressed to 0 for a period as it crosses through 0).

You may find that if your UPS is not sine output (most aren't) your motorized things like pumps will either run for a lot lower time than their power consumption would indicate or not run at all (about half the stuff I tried did not run). For computers and other electronics with switching power supplies the waveform type is not critical. A switching power supply rectifies and filters (converts AC to high-voltage DC) before chopping this DC at a much higher frequency than the 60 Hz line input. So it really matters little whether the waveform starts off as a sinusoid or not since it's immediately converted to DC. But many/most AC motors are not going to run right and/or run inefficiently with the non-sinusoidal power.

Well I've made good progress on the new UPS testing and have learned/discovered an awful lot... a lot more than I can post here without getting into rather technical stuff and boring everyone to death. LOL Anyway this new UPS I bought charges up much faster (about 3.5 hrs from fully drained to fully charged) so I was able to run a number of tests in a fairly short while. One thing I discovered is this is more than an open box UPS - it has probably been in use for about a year. I found this out when I downloaded some software from APC's web site so I can monitor and tweak some settings (for example I don't want to hear it beep every 30 secs when power is lost).

There are tons of things you can monitor and/or change (like internal temp, battery voltage, etc.). One parameter was the battery installation date which was Nov 2008. Another giveaway that this is used UPS is some sticky residue on the case where someone pulled a label off the case. This is probably where someone put the user name/password needed to log into the UPS because this is also where I put my label with my created user name/password. ;-)

So a used UPS means the battery has some degradation from age and use. Batteries have a shelf/usage life and generally age faster at warmer temps. This UPS does not have an internal fan since it's a low-end model (the smallest pure sine UPS that APC makes). The monitor screen showed the temp at 36.9 C after it had been on a while so I clipped a tiny CPU fan (maybe 1-watt) over the ventilation holes and the internal temp dropped to 24.3 C (about room temp) after a while. This should extend the battery life going forward but whatever degradation has occurred in the past can't be reversed. The battery terminal voltage also increased from 24.57 to 26.59 volts after the unit cooled down (good sign).

I ran a test with the same 40w incandescent lamp I used with the previous (modified sine) UPS. I also tested it with all my filters/pumps. Every one of them runs just fine (not surprisingly) with the pure sinusoidal power. Here are the results:

TEST, 750VA/500W Pure Sine UPS

1. 40-watt lamp - ran 93 minutes (this is somewhat low compared to the APC run time calculator so this can probably be associated with not having a brand new set of batteries installed, APC estimates 126 minutes for a 40-watt load)
2. no-name small air pump that came with 3g hex tank - runs fine, did not time run length by itself
3. TopFin (Petsmart brand) 60g air pump - runs fine, did not time run length by itself
4. Whisper 10 air pump with 2.2-watt motor - ran normally for 4 hours, 17 mins
5. Aqueon 10 HOB - runs fine, did not time run length
6. Aqueon 30 HOB - runs fine, did not time run length
7. Via Aqua Vitalife 200 HOB with 8-watt motor - ran normally for 3 hours, 48 mins
8. Ran tests #2, #3, and #7 simultaneously - all ran normally for 2 hours, 40 mins
9. Nothing connected to UPS - shut down after 3 hours, 44 mins

So the revelation here is that the UPS itself with NO LOAD has a finite run time similar to a small load. Why is this? The reason is the UPS inverter itself consumes power EVEN IF THERE IS NO LOAD. This is why if you compare tests #4, #7, and #9 you will see it doesn't seem to matter if a filter/pump is connected or not - the limiting factor in the run time is UPS itself! (It is a little odd that the Whisper 10 actually increased run time over nothing connected at all but there is probably a good bit of variance repeating runs, I didn't bother to explore this.) Only when I connected several filters/pumps as in test #8 did the run time drop substantially from the rest of them (in other words, now the load is big enough to have a bearing on the run time).

Here is the efficiency curve of my UPS from APC's web site (copyright APC):

UPS Efficiency

This confirms that the efficiency (effective power transferred to load) drops substantially when using it at the low end of the load range. In fact with a small 8-watt filter like the Via Aqua, we are only at 1.6% loading (8/500) which is actually off the chart (well, well below 50% efficiency if you examine the slope of the curve which intersects with zero efficiency at 0% load). So this explains why it almost doesn't matter whether the filter is plugged in; almost all the power is being consumed within the UPS!

Although I'm satisfied for now with nearly quadruple the run-time with this new UPS (I think it would be closer to 5 hours or more with new batteries), this is still not the optimum solution for emergency run power. One could go to a higher VA/watt UPS as long as the batteries were actually higher amp-hours and not just a larger inverter (and hope the UPS low-end efficiency does not consume too much of the battery). But a better (and much smaller, less expensive) solution for a single tank or small number of tanks would be a smaller inverter that was sized just big enough to run the emergency filter/pump.

This would shift the whole efficiency curve to the left AND allow more reasonable sized batteries (i.e. smaller) to run your filter/pump. Unfortunately I don't know of anything like this out there because most who would buy a UPS are trying to run high-power equipment so this would be kind of a niche product. The closest thing is probably the SunSun UPS NonStop Air Pump that American Aquarium Products sells but it would be nice if instead of the dedicated air pump they made one with just an outlet where you could plug your own small low-power filter or pump into (limited to maybe 10-15 watts). For a large number of tanks with lots of filters/pumps the larger inverter/custom battery solution is a no-brainer.

I'm of the opinion that the sine versus modified sine is primarily a factor for whether your motor runs or not based on the data I collected. It is much less a factor for determining how well the motor runs (i.e. length of run time, motor efficiency). So you can probably get away with a cheaper UPS (modified sine) if you are sure your filter/pump can run off a modified sine or are able to test your filter/pump on a particular UPS before purchasing it.

*** Several Skipped Posts***

I have finished putting together my emergency power unit and installed it in the tank today. I have run many cycles and quite satisfied that everything is working as it should with full unattended backup power and recovery should we lose power while away on a trip or vacation. I did try the very simple battery/charger/inverter wiring connection but there some big drawbacks to this scheme. First the battery charger (which needs to be a "smart" or "staged" charger to avoid overcharging the lead-acid battery) is fooled when the inverter/load is also connected. The charge time goes up greatly and the charger doesn't behave well (hard to explain without getting real technical) which makes me believe it could shorten battery life by never going to a "float" charging mode. In addition, the inverter will not restart when the power is restored until it is reset by disconnecting the battery (which is not completely dead but measures around 10.5 volts).

So this would mean somebody would have to be present when power is restored to reset or else the filter wouldn't run even with normal power available. I was only planning to use this wiring scheme temporarily to check inverter reliability by running 24/7 for a while but after seeing these issues I went straight to my final scheme which has automatic switching circuits to overcome these problems. I have run many cycles and haven't noticed any issues. I'll probably continue running cycles for awhile more although I'm starting to get sick of testing! The switchovers (both from normal to emergency and emergency back to normal) occur almost instantaneously and I notice no break at all in the water flow from my Vitalife 200 HOB. I ordered a 7AH battery to replace the one I had been borrowing from my UPS but the battery company sent me a 9AH instead. It is physically the same size but weighs about 1.5 lbs heavier. With this battery I'm getting over 16 hours run time on the Vitalife 200 and probably over 60 hours with the small Whisper 10 air pump (but I have not bothered to verify the 60+ number).

 DIY Uninterruptible Power Source for Aquarium Here is a picture of the backup unit ready to install:

The total weight is 9 lbs which is significantly lighter than the 30 lb UPS that it is replacing. I bought the base from a local Goodwill store for a whole $2! Since I had most of the small electrical items in my junk box, I probably paid about $75 for everything. I imagine with careful shopping one could put it together for about $100 from scratch not including labor cost of course. (Note: I was trying more for functionality than looks. LOL)

DIY Uninterruptible Power Source for AquariumAnd here it is installed (vertically to save space):

It only uses about a 5" x 5" corner space so I have regained a good bit of tank stand floor space by replacing the bulky inverter (and more than quadrupled the emergency run time as well). My next project will be to clean up the ugly cable mess by mounting the power strip up high off the floor which will give me even more space for food, maintenance items, etc. I also plan on adding an audible alarm so that in the unlikely event we get a power interruption of more than 16 hours I can replace the battery with a fresh one (probably a 7AH from one of my spare UPS's).

To read the complete thread/blog (this is an ongoing blog): UPS Test

For another resource of related interest:
Aquarium Lighting; the most researched and updated article on the subject of aquarium lighting (including LED Aquarium Lights) found anywhere on the internet!

Or for a popular/useful article about Aquarium Silicone Use, Type, Repair, Glass Hinges, & much more information

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How to Perform a Methylene Blue Bath without Stains

How to Perform a Methylene Blue Bath on a Small to Medium-Sized Fish without Stains

By Renee Wise

With editing by Kagome and Carl

1. Eyedropper
2. 1 quart plastic container and top
3. Two or more large towels (old ones you don’t mind getting stained)
4. Net
5. Methylene Blue bottle
6. Two or more empty milk jugs
7. Timer
8. Clean Rags
9. One spare container: approximately 1 quart or larger
10. Access to a toilet to or a place outside to dump Methylene blue bath water
11. Hose

When you perform a Methylene Blue bath for your fish, it is important that you take precautions to reduce the risk of Methylene Blue staining anything in your house. Methylene Blue (MB) acts much like a dye and will stain almost any surface it touches including carpet, tile, and wood. The MB may be cleaned off with hard scrubbing or fade in time but any fabric stained with MB most likely will be permanently stained. Therefore, near foolproof plan to prevent spills is recommended. Here are some steps you can follow to avoid a mess and make these baths a more pleasurable experience for both human and fish alike.

The Process:

• Lay out your materials (as listed above) in a calm, quiet setting. Once you have the materials ready, clear some space near your aquarium on a dresser or a surface you know won’t be disturbed. Set one towel down there.

• If possible, try to ensure that the room temperature in this area isn’t much different than in your aquarium to help prevent temperature shock to the fish that will receive the bath.

• Carefully remove the top on your aquarium. Take your quart plastic container and fill it ¾ of the way with your AQUARIUM water. Then, carefully, spooking the fish as little as possible, net the fish you wish to bathe and gently place it in your quart container.

• Carefully unscrew the lid of your MB bottle, placing the lid face down so any residue on the bottle cap will not get on any surfaces. Make sure that your bottle of MB and any object with MB on it is kept on the towel at ALL times to help prevent staining should a spill occur.

• Now take your eyedropper and fill it with MB. Squirt as much as you wish to use into the bath. Squirt any excess back into the bottle. Immediately put the bottle cap back on the bottle of MB in order to help prevent spillage.

• Carefully suck up water from the bath into the eyedropper and squirt it back into the bath container several times to dilute the MB in the eyedropper. Set your eyedropper in your spare container.

• Put the lid on the bath container to prevent the fish from jumping out.

• Set your timer for the desired amount of time, 20-30 minutes is usually recommended.

• Make sure the room is not disturbed and keep an eye on your fish to make sure it is not showing any signs of distress. You may busy yourself with something else in the room while the bath is going on but don’t disturb the area where any of your materials or the fish are or leave the room completely.

• When the timer dings, carefully remove the top and net the fish. Release your fish back into your aquarium and put your net in the spare container with the eyedropper. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES DUMP THE MB BATH WATER BACK INTO YOUR DISPLAY TANK!! MB is an excellent medication but if put into a display aquarium it may stain décor, silicone sealant, and worst of all it will kill the beneficial bacteria that make up your aquarium’s biological filter. A few drops of bath water won’t hurt anything but just pouring the fish back into the aquarium with the bath water will have disastrous results.

• Carefully dump your bathwater into the toilet and flush two or more times until there is no Methylene Blue residue in the toilet.

• Now grab a rag and head outside with your bath container and your container with the eyedropper and net in it. Turn on the hose and thoroughly rinse out your 2 containers, the net, and the eyedropper. Make sure you place your rag in an area where it won’t get wet. After there is no sign of MB on any of your materials, turn off the hose.

• Gently dry your eyedropper, two containers and net. When you come back in, turn on the tap and sterilize them with hot water, vinegar, bleach, or your preferred method for sterilizing your materials. Dry them off with your rag and return them to their respective places.

Note: If it is too cold outside to run a hose, use 2 empty milk jugs and fill them with water to rinse your equipment. Be aware that you may have to go back in to refill them several times.

• Any towels or rags that have MB spilled on them should be put in the washing machine immediately and washed separately from other clothes. Note that you may have to wipe MB off your washing machine afterwards. Also note that the stains on your towels may be permanent but they should not stain anything else they touch once they have been laundered.

• Search for any stains in your work areas and if there is any MB on hard surfaces such as tile, grab a rag, put a dot of soap on it and use a lot of elbow grease to get it off. Rinse to get the soap off when you are done. Afterwards, put the rag in the washing machine to wash it separately. Note that if you get any Methylene Blue on any fabric or carpeting, the blue stain may be permanent or require professional cleaning to get out.

Conclusion: With practice, bathing fish this way can be a trouble-free experience. It is a great way to lessen the effects of stress on fish, kill unwanted pathogens, and increase the oxygen in your fish’s blood or reduce the severity of ammonia poisoning. You may have a few problems at first but if you keep at it and follow these directions, in time you are likely to be able to perform a bath without ever getting a stain. Reread this as often as you want, whenever you need to perform a MB bath for your fish.

Please refer to this article in the Bath and Dip section for more about the methods (such as the use of salt and other medications to compliment the Methylene Blue in the bath/dip):
“Aquarium Disease Prevention; Section 9, Baths/Dips”
Fish Baths; Aquarium Answers

Fish Bath Video

For Sponge Filters which are excellent for use in your hospital tanks for sick fish or quarantine of new fish, these ATI Hydro Sponge filters are second to none and this resource is the leader in use and knowledge of this product/filter; why buy from anywhere else?

SeaChem Stability can be helpful for emergency cycling of a hospital tank or a display tank damaged by treatment.


Other Products that may be helpful:

*SeaChem Purigen or Algone for help controlling Nitrates and other organic wastes that may affect the Redox balance and fish health.

As well, consider a UV Sterilizer for improved disease prevention and improved Redox balance (which will in turn improve fish immunity).
If you have a UV Sterilizer already, it is IMPORTANT that you change the UV Bulb every six months, and even then use a Hot Cathode Low Pressure Mercury UVC Bulb for best results.

Labels: , , , , , ,