Sign up for email reminders for Meetings, Swaps, Auctions, and Other Events.

Subscribe

Sign up for email reminders for Meetings, Swaps, Auctions, and Other Events.

Make a Tank Divider

Make a tank divider with simple handtools for about $10 

Why do you need a tank divider?

  1. One common way to breed large, aggressive Central American cichlids is using the "divided tank method". A sturdy divider is used to separate the pair which then spawn on opposite sides of a barrier.
  2. When you're low on tankspace and have incompatible species.
  3. When you need some extra space for a recovering fish

You can complete this project using only simple handtools in about an hour.

Before you get started…

  • Be safe! Wear safety goggles.
  • This projects involves the use of sharp tools. Be careful! This is not a project for kids.
Step Pictures

Tools Needed

a. Hacksaw
— or — 
b. Backsaw

c. Ruler

d. Diagonal Wire Cutters

a. Hacksaw  b. Backsaw
c.Ruler   d. Diagonal Wire Cutters

Materials

a. Purchase a 2' by 4' sheet of Styrene eggcrate material at a building supply store such as Home Depot. Expect to pay between $5 and $6.This is the cheapest material and works better

You will find this material near the drop ceiling section.

b. 1/2" PVC Elbow (Qty = 2)

c. 1/2" PVC Tee (Qty = 2)

d. 1/2" PVC Pipe (comes in ten foot sections)

e. 8" Nylon Cable Ties 
(Qty = 10)

a. Eggcrate Material  b. PVC Elbow
c.PVC Tee d. PVC Pipe
e.   Cable Ties  

Step 1

Measure the inside width of your tank.

Measure the water depth of your tank (from the bottom of the tank to the water level).

Subtract 1/4" from each dimension to allow for easy placement in the tank.

Measuring the tank   Measuring the tank

Important Note!

Take into account the size of the PVC fittings in your measurements!

Generally speaking, you will need to subtract another 1/2 to 3/4 inch for each fitting. We suggest you first cut the PVC pipe to size using the dimensions in Step 1. Then, press on the fitting(s) and measure the length to find the necessary adjustment. Measure twice, cut once!

Step 2

You'll need to cut 7 pieces of PVC pipe:

A) 2 Verticals

B) 1 Horizontal

C) 4 Legs (8" long)

Use the hacksaw or backsaw. A vise is helpful.

Assembly Pieces  Cutting the PVC

Step 3

After cutting all the pipe, 
deburr the ends using a utility knife, file or sandpaper.

Deburring the pipe

Step 4

a. Assemble all pieces excluding the legs.

STOP! Test fit the divider in your tank.

b. Add the legs, once you're sure everything fits.

NOTE: PVC Cement is not required. A friction fit is adequate and allows for easy
re-configuration.

 a.        b.

Step 5

Using a pair of diagonal wire cutters, cut the eggcrate material to size. The eggcrate should slightly underlap the frame.

   

Step 6

Cut notches in the eggcrate for the base.

Use the diagonal wire cutter.

Step 7

Fasten the eggcrate to the frame using the cable ties.

Use one per corner and one in middle of each section.

   

Step 8

Cut off the excess cable tie.

Installing the Tank Divider

Step 1

Remove the bottom "legs" from the tank divider.

Step 2

Clear out gravel from the bottom of tank.

Place the tank divider in the tank.

Note: We've added a clay tile as a spawning surface for a pair of large Blackbelt cichlids.

Step 3

Clear out gravel from the bottom of tank.

Place the tank divider in the tank.

Insert the four legs securely.

   

Photos by Rick Borstein.

 
 
 

Artificially Raising Substrate Spawning Fish

Great for angels and Central American Fish 

Hobbyists have been artificially raising substrate-spawning fish for many years. This technique is popular for angelfish, Central American Cichlids and other substrate-spawning fish with small eggs.

Some hobbyists feel that artificially raising fry (i.e. pulling the spawn) weakens the pair bond of the fish. This notion has not been explored scientifically. It should be pointed out the the majority of angelfish breeders raise fry artificially.

There are as many ways to raise fry as there are aquarium hobbyists. Review the technique below and adapt it to your specific needs.

Before you get started…

  • Purchase the necessary supplies.
  • Decide where you want to place the hatch tank.
  • Observe when your fish spawn. One day post-spawning, you can pull the eggs (see instructions)

What you'll need…

Step Pictures

Step 1

Fill a clean, small tank or container with six quarts of water from the spawning tank.

We have had good luck with 8 quart clear, Rubbermaid Commercial containers. They are available from Sam's club and restaurant supply houses.

Rubbermaid 8qt clear container  Rubbermaid logo

Step 2

Remove the hatch from the spawning tank the day after spawning.

Avoid exposing the eggs to air. Invert the spawning surface (rock, etc.) inside a cup or container.

Removing the hatch from the tank

Step 3

Place the spawning surface (rock, etc.) inside the hatching tank.

Placing the hatch in the hatching tank.Placing the hatch in the hatching tank.

Step 4

Attach an 18" piece of airline to the air pump and plug it in.

We've had good luck with a Second Nature Challenger I and a Penn-Plax Silent-Air XL1. Any similarly sized pump should do.

Setting up the air pump

Step 5

Attach the airline to a gang valve.

This will allow you to:

  • Control the flow of air
  • Anchor the airline

We've had good luck with Penn-Plax Lok-Tite Gang Valves available here. These allow for precise control of the air flow. Each piece of tubing locks into the plastic hanger to prevent floating and kinking.

Connecting the gang valve

Step 6

Cut a one foot length of airline and attach it to one of the out ports on the gang valve.

Insert the airstone.

Thread the airline over the top of the gang valve.

 

Connecting the airline and airstoneDetailed view of locking in the airline over the gang valve.

Step 7

Place the gang valve over the side of the tank.

Make sure that the airline is not flopping around. It could damage the eggs.

The airstone should be to the side and slightly above the eggs.

Adjust the airflow using the gang valve. It should be a gentle stream of air.

Adjusting the air flow

Step 8

If your room temperature is below 78F, place a 7.5 watt aquarium heater in the tank.

Maintain the temperature at 78–81F. A lid may help in cold rooms.

We've had very good luck with 7.5 watt heaters from Jr. Aquatics. They are available at Walmart for about $7.

Jr. Aquatics Heater  Placing the heater

Step 9

Add 2 drops of Methylene Blue per each quart of water.

NOTE: Methylene Blue stains clothes permanently!

Kordon Methylene Blue   Add 2 drops per quart of water

Step 10

Methylene blue helps prevent fungus. Methylene Blue stains the water a deep blue.

Eggs are light sensitive— do not put a light over the tank.

Your water should be darker than the picture at right.

Methylene Blue in the tank

Step 11

Use a strong flashlight and check the hatch daily.

Most eggs hatch within 48-72 hours.

At 6 to 9 days post-spawn, the fry should be free of the spawning surface at the "belly whomper" stage— not quite able to swim, but hopping on the bottom.

Remove the spawning surface (rock, etc.).

Use a flashlight to check on hatching.Removing the spawning site

Step 12

As soon as the fry are belly whompers, start small, daily water changes.

Remove a quart of water from the tank. Replace it with fresh, dechlorinated water.

As you do more water changes, the water will get lighter and lighter.

Water changePutting in fresh water

Step 13

You may notice some debris such as unhatched eggs in the tank.

Carefully remove the debris using a turkey baster.

Removing debrisRemoving debris

Step 14

When the fry are free-swimming, add a small, seasoned sponge filter to replace the airstone.

We like the ATI Hydrosponge #0. You can get them from Jehmco.

At this point, start feeding freshly hatched baby brine shrimp. Feed until the tummies are nice and round!

Add a sponge filter

Step 15

Prepare a ten-gallon, grow-out tank. Use a sand or bare bottom, heater and sponge filter.

 

Step 16

About two weeks after the free-swimming stage, the fry should be about one-quarter inch long.

Remove the heater and sponge filter and carefully pour the fry into a seasoned ten-gallon tank.

Note: Make sure the temperature is the same as in the hatching tank!

Pouring the fry from the hatch tank to the rearing tank

Step 17

Continue feeding baby brine shrimp.

At three weeks, begin adding finely crushed flake food to the mix. By one month, you should be able to wean the fry off of the brine shrimp.

Weekly, 50% water changes are critical for fry growth.

Lots of fry

 

Paint a Tank

Make your tank beautiful!

It's easy and inexpensive to spray paint the back and sides of your tank. Not only will it look better, but your fish will be happier, too!

Before you get started…

  • Paint outside on a dry, sunny day when temperatures are above 70F and there is little wind.
  • Paint will not adhere to silicone sealant. Remove any excess silicone sealant with a razor blade… not for kids! Be careful and don't break the seal!
  • These instructions are for glass tanks, only.
  • We have had good results with a variety of paints. Krylon brand spray paints seem to drip the least.
  • We recommend the following colors: Black, Blue and Green.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions and be safe!
Step Pictures

Step 1

Place the tank with the front of the aquarium down on a pair of saw horses.

Clean the back and sides of the tank with Windex and a soft, clean cloth.

Step 2

Mask the frame of the tank. We recommend 3M Scotch-Blue™ Painter's Tape for Multi-surfaces available at hardware stores and home centers.

  

Step 3

Apply a strip of masking tape to the front of the tank. This prevents overspray onto the front glass of the tank.

Step 4

Use newspaper to completely cover the top of the tank. This step prevents paint from adhering to the inside of the aquarium.

Step 5

Paint the sides of the tank.

The spray tip should be 6 to 8" from the glass.

Tip: Don't overspray. Avoid drips.

Step 6

Paint the back of the tank.

Step 7

It will take a minimum of three coats of paint.

In between coats, invert the spray can and spray to clean the nozzle.

Step 8

Look through the bottom of the tank to check for coverage. After three coats, you should not be able to see light through the painted surfaces.

Step 9

Allow the last coat to dry thoroughly.

Remove and discard the masking tape.

Enjoy your tank!


Photos by Rick Borstein. Demonstration by Sam Borstein.

Making Inexpensive Tank Covers

Make four 10-gallon tank covers for under 5 bucks! 

With just a few tools, you can make durable and inexpensive tank covers using prismatic lens lighting panels. The material comes in 2 feet by 4 feet sheets are used as the lenses for fluorescent fixtures in drop ceilings. You can find it any hardware or home center store.

Before you get started…

  • Be safe! Wear safety goggles.
  • This projects involves the use of sharp tools. Be careful! This is not a project for kids.
Step Pictures

Tools Needed

a. Utility Knife 
— or — 
b. Acrylic cutter

c. Carpenters square

d. Fine-point marker

e. Cutting surface such as a sheet of plywood, not shown.

f. Fine Sandpaper, not shown.

g. Gorilla Glue (optional)

a.   b. 
c.   d. 
g.    
        

Materials

a. Purchase a 2' by 4' sheet ofStyrene Prismatic Clear Lighting Panel. The green labeled material at right is available from Home Depot. Expect to pay between $3 and $5.

This is the cheapest material and works better than more expensive acrylic sheets which warp.

b. Close up view of the material.

  a.   b.

Step 1

Measure the inside frame of your tank and subtract 1/8" from both the width and depth dimensions.

Step 2

Place the plastic sheet flat side up on a hard surface like a large piece of plywood.

Use the ruler to carefully measure across the shortest dimension of the sheet.

Mark a small line with the permanent marker.

Step 3

Lay the square on the sheet at the mark you made in Step 2.

Hold the square down firmly and score the sheet repeatedly with the utility knife (or acrylic cutter).

Continue scoring until you have cut through the material.

Step 4

Cut the corners to add access for airlines and heaters.

Simply score a corner and bend to snap.

    

Step 5

Smooth the edges with the fine sandpaper.

 

Optional Steps

Add a Knob

A knob makes it easy to remove the cover. Purchase the following:

  • Plastic knob
  • 1/2" Stainless steel screw to fit knob
  • 1" nylon washer

Drill a 3/16" hole about 1" from the front edge of the cover and install the knob.

   

Add a Feeding Hole

Use a 2" hole saw to add a feeding hole. A drill press gives the best results, but you can use a standard electric drill if you have a steady hand.

Use a backing board and work slowly through the material.

Add filter cut-outs

For outside filters, carefully measure from the edge of the tank to the furthest protruding edge of the filter.

Transfer these measurements to the tank cover and score the outline of the cutout.

Flex the cuts leading from the edge of the cover in first. Next, flex the cuts parallel to the edge and break out the piece.

You may need to reinforce the cover. See below.

Strengthen large covers

Large covers over 18" may need reinforcement. Some options:

a. Use Gorilla Glue (polyurethane glue) and plastic drywall corners. This is the easiest method. The glue hardens through the small holes adding strength.

b. Use clear corner protectors and stainless steel screws. You will also need to add a small nylon washer.

a. 
  

b. 

Photos by Rick Borstein.

A high-quality, fiber-rich food | See other How-To Guides

Tropheus and mbuna are prone to bloating. Providing lots of fiber and vegetable matter in the diet is one of the best ways to maintain good health. Commercial, prepared foods are often lacking in fiber and vitamins.

This food is rich in fiber (shrimp shells, veggies), vitamins and includes garlic to help guard against intestinal parasites.

Before you get started…

  • Purchase needed items and lay out everything required.
  • Never switch fish to a new diet quickly. Introduce a small amount of the food at a time and watch your fish over a period of days to gauge acceptance and consequences.
  • This is not a project for kids. As always, use care when using a knife or a food processor.
Step Pictures

Tools/Equipment

a. Food Processor

b. Paring knife and garlic press

c. 8 Zip-loc sandwich bags

Measuring cup(s)
Measuring spoons
Spatula and a large spoon

a.       b.      c. 

Ingredients

a. 12 oz. package of med-large frozen raw shrimp with shell, thawed

b. Liquid Aquarium Vitamins (HW Multi-vit shown)

c. 8 oz. (1/2 pkg) frozen peas

d. 3 broccolli stumps

e. 2 medium carrots, scrubbed

f. 6 leaves Romaine lettuce, washed and trimmed

g. 2 packets of Knox gelatin

h. 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled

 a.      b.      c. 
d./e./f.       g.      h. 

Step 1

Measure 1/4 cup of very cold water in a measuring cup.

Sprinkle the two packages over the surface.

Mix with a spoon to a slurry consistency.

Step 2

Add 3/4 cup of boiling water to the gelatin mixture.

Mix thoroughly and set aside.

Step 3

Place the frozen peas in a heat-proof bowl.

Add boiling water to cover.

Step 4

Make sure the shrimp are thawed out.

Rinse and add to the food processor.

Step 5

Process the shrimp to a paste-like consistency.

Some small pieces are OK.

Step 6

Drain the peas.

Step 7

Add the peas to the food bowl and process until smooth.

Step 8

Peel the rough outer layer from the broccolli stumps.

Step 9

Cut the carrots and broccolli stumps into 1/4 inch pieces.

Note— if you do not have a very powerful food processor, you may wish to process these first with a little water and set them aside.

Step 10

Tear the Romaine lettuce into small pieces.

Step 11

Add the broccolli, carrots and lettuce to the food processor bowl.

Process to small chunks. You may need to stop periodically and scrape down the sides.

Step 12

Add the gelatin mixture and process until smooth.

Step 13

Force the peeled garlic clove through the garlic press into the bowl.

Add 1 TBS (tablespoon) of the liquid vitamins.

Step 14

Process until thoroughly mixed.

Step 15

Spoon some of the food mixture into a ziploc bag until it is one-quarter full.

Step 16

Lay the filled bag on a flat surface and carefully squeeze out any air.

Seal the bag.

Keep flat.

Step 17

You should have 6–8 sandwich bags of food.

Lay them flat on a piece of cardboard or a cookie sheet.

Refrigerate for 3–4 hours.

Step 18

The food mix should have firmed up to a jelly-like consistency.

Transfer to the freezer.

Feed it!

Do not thaw the food.

Break off small piece of the frozen food and feed your fish.

Always take care when introducing new foods.

Some fish, especially those used to flake foods, take a while to take interest in this food.

 


Photos by Rick Borstein. Demonstration by Rick and Sam Borstein.

 
Hey~

Some of you here have commented on the background I have started to use for my tanks…. and asked me to do a simple DIY for this easy to complete background that shows well, lasts well, and is much less work intensive than the DIY backgrounds using Great Stuff expandable foam, quickrete, and paint.

It’s very simple really, as a guy who is not a fan of the “Great Stuff Backgrounds” (although very cool, they interfere with my HOB filters and take away too much space from a thinner tank: i.e.: a 55 gallon is only 47” x 12” inside dimension). With the Central American Cichlids I have, they need every inch of space I can give them.

Basically I started to standard spray paint my tanks before installing them, well you know we are always looking for something different, so in a effort to “think outside of the box” I was perusing my local home center looking for paint for my 55, it was wintertime and I had to do it indoors, my garage was too cold (below 50 degrees) so I was going to do it in my basement, as I was looking for your standard gloss black/low VOC Latex, (I like the dark and the way my CA/SA Cichlids color up with the dark background and also use a dark substrate) and I came across a spray can of Rust-Oleum Stone Creations…… I tested it on my 20L and I could not be any happier.

I will say this; the Stone Coat is not something that you could do indoors. I took the tank over to my brother’s car dealership and painted it in the shop (weekend). It has high VOC’s! But the results speak for themselves. If you are able, do it during the spring or fall when the temperatures are not to cool and not too hot, that way the garage is a good place, and as soon as each coat is complete, ventilate your paint area, like I said HIGH VOC’s can kill you!

Stone Coat comes in a bunch of different colors: I am unsure of attaching a link to a Manufacturer, (I will provide the link if asked or you can PM me and Ill email it to you).

So I will just give a quick rundown of the colors I saw. (Percentages are just guesstimates on my part)

Black Granite (N7991) Black (70%) with shots of White (10%), Grey (10%) and Silver (10%) mixed in.

Bleached Stone (N7990) Tan (85%), with a Light Brown (15%).

Canyon Moss (N7987) Black (75%), Grey (12.5%), and a Moss Green (12.5%).

Granite Stone (N7989) Brown (75%), Black (12.5%), and a Grey (12.5%).

Grey Stone (N7992) Grey (75%), Black (10%), White (10%), Silver (5%).

Mineral Brown (N7988) Brown (85%), Tan (15%).

Sienna Stone (N7994) Brown (35%), Tan (35%), Natural Red (5%), Black (10%), White (15%).

Tuscan Rock (N7986) Mustard Yellow (75%), Brown (20%), Black (5%)

Other needed materials:

Clear Coat (V2102938) Fast Dry Hard Hat coating.

3M Blue Paint Masking Tape: (1”) Standard 3M Paint Masking Tape Model Number 2090

I don’t think you need me to tell you to tape off the edges of the tank, cover the top as well; I more or less wrap the entire tank with newspaper except for what I am painting.

This is a 3-4 coat process followed by a quick clear coat at the end to add strength to the back.

1) Using you painter’s tape, tape off entire tank more than 1 layer (newspaper, Chicago Sun-Times works great, I go with 3 layers, never have had a issue).

2) Clean and dry surface of glass (You have no idea how Windex F’s up a paint job should you start and forget/miss a 1”x2” area).

3) Break out your stone coat (I use Black Granite Rust-Oleum Model Number: N7991) and lightly coat glass covering all areas).

4) It is a textured spray paint, resist the urge to touch, (I could not) it will need overnight to dry. Do NOT overcoat, the more paint you lay on the more likely it will not be dry when you want to re coat (dries to the touch in 1-2 hours my ***!)

5) Ready for coat 2? Now try the touch. If it is dry, take a flashlight to the inside of the tank and look for weak coats. Reapply.

6) Retape you newspaper layers

7) Apply the test again for coat 3, and then apply the final coat of Stone Coat.

Cool Now that you have completed the Stone Coat, apply 1 thin but complete coat of clear (I use hard hat coating Rust-Oleum Model number: V2102938) Remember that the Stone Coat is a textured paint, and although you will not feel it yourself, it will chip easy if you do not apply a clear coat of some kind.

I am attaching the images from when I did the 20L. I will add more images to this if asked, as I will be doing this on a much larger scale with my new 110 and 150 in the next month or two.

(Images to follow)

Comments?? Opinions??  Huh?

Here are most of the fish tank dimensions that you will see. Not all these sizes may be the same depending on the company making the tanks but they are a great resource to get an idea.


Size Dimensions
5.5g
10G
20H
20L
29G
30G
33L
38G
40L
40B
55G
60G
75G
90G
110H
120G
120G
125G
150G
180G
210G
16x8x10
20x10x12
24x10x16
30x12x12
30x12x18
36x12x16
48x12x12
36x12x12
48x12x16
36x18x16
48x12x20
48x12x23
48x18x20
48x18x25
48x18x30
48x24x24
60x18x28
72x18x24
72x18x28
72x24x24
84x24x24

Modest Fish Aquarium Fish Disease Guide 

A very nicly compiled list of fish diseases and treatments.

F I N S : Fish Disease Diagnosis

Nice fish disease chart which includes a series of questions to help you solve the problem.

Tetra Fish Disease Help

Specific to Tetra remedies, but may be helpful.

Animal World Fish Disease & Treatment Page

Good overall help with fish health, disease and treatment.

FishDoc UK

This UK site bills itself as the home of fish health. Lots of good content.

 

Power Consumption in the Fishroom

Recently I have been getting more and more questions relating to power consumption in the fish room, many of which pertain to cutting power costs related to tank upkeep and maintenance. I had previously written an article pertaining to this, but due to the recent influx of questions I determined it was time to update and expand on my initial article.

First, I would like to share a little of my background with you. I have been active in the hobby for about 4 years now and am currently keeping mostly African Rift Lake cichlids from Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika. I have a degree in Electrical Engineering Technologies and currently work for the world’s largest telecommunications provider. Electricity, electronics, and how it all works have always fascinated me.

The combination of my interest in electricity and my enjoyment of fish which require heat, filtration, and lighting made me really start to think about the power needs of our hobby. I, like many of you, thoroughly enjoy my fish and don’t want to spend a fortune in electricity bills to keep them. For these reasons, I would like to share some information with you that may be helpful in maintaining a budget while keeping the fish you love.

Let’s start off with a few electricity basics you may already know. A watt is a standard unit of measuring power. A Kilowatt (kW) is 1000 watts, and the Kilowatt hour (kWh) is the unit which your power provider measures your electricity consumption. As an example, a 1000 watt heater operating for 1 hour uses 1kWh. The cost per kWh varies wildly throughout the year and across the country. I know that where I live Commonwealth Edison charges $.08275 per kWh. You can find your own cost per kWh in your electric bill.

Every electrical device that you purchase comes with either a wattage rating or an amperage rating (I will discuss amps later). Once we have this information we can easily calculate the estimated cost of running any electrical device. You can find these ratings on either a sticker on the device or molded into the housing of the device. You can usually find the rating near where the cord enters the housing. All electronic devices sold in the United States have this as it is required by federal law.

Once you have found the wattage rating of your device, there is a simple formula for calculating what the device costs to run per month. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when using this information to budget your fish room: 1) This formula calculates the cost of running an appliance 24/7 for 30 days and not all of our aquarium equipment runs all day and all night, and 2) This formula is not 100% accurate as there are many variables that can have an effect on the actual amount of power that an appliance is drawing. As I said, this formula is not exact, but it will give you a good estimate of what each device is costing to run.

The formula is as follows: Wattage/1000 X your cost per kWh X 24hrs X 30 days per month equals the cost per month to run the appliance. As an example, I looked up the wattage rating of an AC110 hang on the back (HOB) filter. It uses 14 watts per hour of continuous use. So using the formula we get 14/1000 X 0.08275 X 24hrs X 30days = $0.83412. That’s about $.83 per month to run an AC110 which is rather cheap considering the filtration abilities behind this filter. To give you some other real world examples, I looked at a heater and some lighting that you may use in your fish room. A 300w heater comes out to be about $17.87 a month and that is if it stayed on 24/7, which we all know they don't. Some 48 inch light bulbs run about 32 watts each. That comes out to $1.90 a month if they are on 24/7.

If your device doesn’t give you a wattage rating, but instead gives you an Amperage (amp) rating, you can figure out the number of watts by multiplying the amps times 110v which is your average voltage from the power company. So if a pump gives you an amp rating of 0.4, you multiply that times 110v. So 0.4 X 110 = 44watts / 1000 X 0.08275 X 24 X 30 gives you a total cost of $2.62152 per month for this device.

Using these simple formulas you can figure out the average monthly cost of any electrical device in your fish room. Now, the wattage ratings listed on devices are most likely an average in prime conditions, as variables (such as the amount of muck in your filter) change than so can the amount of electricity you device draws. If you are curious as to the actual wattage that a certain device is using, there are wattage meters available on the internet for under $20. They are pretty accurate and will give you a good idea of how much power your devices are actually consuming.

Armed with this knowledge let’s look at how you can save some money and maintain a budget in your fish room.

Heating your tanks makes up the majority of the electrical expenses in the fish room. As you know, there are a few different ways we can accomplish this. One way is to heat the tanks individually; while not the most efficient method it does have its advantages. Another way to heat our tanks is to heat the room as a whole. The latter is a much more efficient way of heating because air requires less energy to heat than water. Insulating our fish rooms using a high R value insulation and a vapor barrier will help to keep the heat in the room. The higher the R value, the better the insulation is at keeping the heat inside the room. This requires the heater to work less thus increasing the efficiency of our fish room. Once the room starts to warm up, the water will follow and the insulation will help keep the temperature up and stable.

If you are unable to heat the room your tanks are in, you can individually insulate the tanks by using Styrofoam insulation. It can be cut and attached to the outside of your tanks. While not quite as effective as insulating and heating the room, it will help keep your tank heaters from working so hard. When using the typical submersible heaters, water circulation plays a part in how warm and how stable the temperature is in our tanks. Personally, I like to place all my heaters near the outflow of a filter. This way the water is warmed and then carried throughout the tank.

Filtration is another major electricity expense in our hobby. Having multiple tanks myself, I have found that using air driven sponge filters is much more economical than using multiple HOB and canister filters. The reason being is that air is easier to move than water. The air driven sponges don’t move as much water as an HOB filter, but they do move a fair amount. I use two air pumps that drive 22 sponges in 14 tanks. These two pumps combined require 53 watts per hour at a cost of $3.15 per month. I would only be able to use 3 AC110 filters for that amount of wattage and it would not even come close to servicing all of my tanks. So as you can see, the air driven sponges are an economical and effective way of filtering the water in your tanks while reducing power consumption.

Lighting is another major expense in the fish room. What I have found with lighting is that I only use it if I am working on the tank. Most of the fish we keep do not require a lot of lighting to make it through their day. Tank lighting is more for our benefit than for the fish. In my fish room, I reduce costs by having all of my tank lights on timers. My breeder tanks are on a single timer and my show tanks are on their own timer. In my breeding area only one tank has a light that comes on during the day, the rest are off until I need them. I keep one tank light on from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. This gives the fish a daylight cycle to get accustomed to. My show tanks are only on during the day and only when I am home. Lighting is more of a personal preference than a need unless you have planted or saltwater tanks.

Power consumption may not be a primary concern for some fish keepers, but I think you will agree that saving money and decreasing electricity use is a good thing. I hope that the information I have shared will help you to make your fish room a little more budget friendly. Spending less money maintaining our hobby frees up resources that can be used for other important things…like buying more tanks!

If you have any additional questions feel free to contact me at DragonKeeper1@me.com. I will gladly discuss your situation with you.

Shawn Kopinski

AKA DragonKeeper
Organism: Ichthyophthirius multifilis

Names: Ich, White Spot

Description: Ichthyophthirius multifilis, ich for short, is a parasitic organism that feeds on the blood and epithelial cells of its host. Although the disease is the equivalent of a skin infection, it can easily be fatal to a fish stressed by poor diet, water conditions or aggression.



Symptoms:

1. Small white spots resembling sand or salt.

2. Fish is flashing (rubbing against rocks, gravel or tank).


Infected fish are covered to various degrees with small white spots. Severe infestations are easy to spot, but small occurrences often go unnoticed. However, Ich won't remain unnoticed for long. Like a bad penny, it will be back with a vengeance if not treated properly. The adult parasite burrows into the skin of its victim, feeding on blood and dead epithelial cells. The irritation caused by the burrowing parasite causes the skin of the fish to swell and produce white cysts seen as a small spots. It's not unusual to see infected fish flashing against rocks and gravel in an effort to get relief.



After several days of feasting, the engorged parasite develops into a trophozoite, burrows out of the fish and sinks bottom of the tank. Secreting a soft jellylike substance, it forms a protective membrane inside of which it divides into hundreds of baby parasites, known as tomites. The hungry tomites soon leave their home in search of a fresh fish to dine upon.

It is during the free-swimming stage that the parasite is vulnerable to treatment. Once it has burrowed into a new host fish it is safely protected from chemicals in the water.



Treatment:

1. Raise water temperature to between 82 and 85 degrees F

2. Increase aeration and surface movement. This will help with oxygenation and gas exchange.

3. Salt for 10-14 days. 1 Heaping tablespoon per 5 gallons of water

4. Perform water changes between treatments



The entire cycle can take up to 2 weeks. I like to go a little longer just to make sure that the infestation has been dealt with. Higher temps shorten the cycle between adult and free swimming tomites. Therefore, raising the water temp shortens the time it takes for the parasite to reach the stage in which it is susceptible to medication/salt.



When raising the temp of the water do so slowly. Raising the temps to quickly can easily shock your fish and kill them. It can also starve them of oxygen so have your aerator ready.

Treatments must be given for a long enough period to assure that all parasites are gone. Watch carefully for other infections, as secondary infections often occur where the skin has been damaged by the parasite. The salt will also help with this, as it is a natural healer. Although nothing kills the parasite once it has checked into it's fish "hotel", several chemicals kill ich once it has left the fish. Malachite green, methylene blue, quinine hydrochloride, and mepracrine hydrochloride are all effective, and are available under several brand names. Be careful though as all of these chemicals can be hazardous to you and your fish. Especially scaleless fish like plecos and catfish. This is one of the main reasons I don’t like to medicate. Salt is just as good as any of those meds and is far less harmful to you and your fish.



Regardless of the treatment used, it should be given continuously for 10-14 days to ensure all parasites are killed. Between treatments a partial water change is recommended. Keep water temperatures higher than usual to speed up the life cycle of the parasite. Discontinue carbon filtration during treatment if you are using one of the medications, as it will remove the chemicals. There is no need to pull carbon if you are using salt. Personally I don’t use carbon unless I am trying to remove chemicals or smells from the water.



Prevention of Ich:

1.Quarantine new fish for two weeks in a separate tank.

2. Treat plants before adding to tank.

3. Keep your Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates under control.

4. Provide fish with a nutritionally balanced diet

The best way to avoid Ich is to quarantine all new fish in a separate tank for two weeks before moving them to the regular tank. When quarantine is not possible, a prophylactic treatment may be used. Either methylene blue or malachite green given when new fish are introduced and again four days later will help reduce incidence of infection. New plants should also be treated, as they can carry ich cysts. Maintaining high water quality, avoiding temperature fluctuations, and providing a robust diet is the best preventative for ich and other diseases. Remember stress is a major cause of ich, as the fish’s natural defenses to the parasite and other diseases have been compromised when they are stressed.


This is by no means the end all be all to getting rid of ich but it has helped me keep my tanks ich free for a long time.

Keeper

Subcategories

Product reviews of hardware and fish related items "
The latest list of GCCA Meetings, Swaps, Picnics, Auctions and Classic.
DIY, how to, helpful hints and other tips and tricks
Tips and Tricks for breeding cichlids
Great tips and tricks for fish keeping