Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Breeding and Rearing Live-bearing Species of Fish

Live-bearing species of fish like guppies and swordtails are notorious for breeding in the community tank. If you want to breed these fish on purpose, however, there are a few tips you might want to know.

 If you have a community tank stocked with guppies, swordtails or other live-bearers you should not be surprised to find baby fish swimming around at some point. Live-bearing species of fish are known for reproducing in the community tank with little to no effort on the part of the aquarium hobbyist. Unlike many species of fish which lay eggs, live-bearing species of freshwater fish produce fully-formed fry. These species may reproduce as often as once every few weeks, but they generally produce fewer fry than egg-laying species of fish. If you are interested in trying your hand at breeding freshwater aquarium fish, you may want to start with live-bearing fish. To get started with breeding live-bearing species of fish, you should first learn the basics about what type of fish belong to this group, how to prepare the fish for breeding and how to care for the fry once they do.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Also known as the tricolor shark or silver shark, the young bala shark is a staple item in most aquarium stores. However, this fish is a poor choice for most aquaria. The bala shark (the name is an abbreviation of the scientific name) is active, grows to fourteen inches, and prefers living in midwater shoals. So the typical community aquarium is too small for keeping the bala shark long-term.

The bala shark is very peaceful. Even though this fish grows large, it will not bother other fish—except those small enough to fit in its mouth. Ideally, you should keep groups of six or more, but no less than three.

Silver Arowana Species Profile

The Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) is a long and beautiful fish known for its voracious appetite and constant surface skimming, looking for things to fit into its mouth. It is native to waterways of the Amazon River and other areas in South America. 

It is a very popular fish for intermediate to expert aquarists as it swims fairly gracefully and with purpose and has a nice and powerful jaw. Aquarists like to watch it feed, especially live foods such as earthworms and other insects. A true carnivore, the silver arowana can be aggressive, especially toward smaller fish in the tank, so if you are going to keep an arowana with other fish, choose tankmates wisely. Fish that inhabit the middle and lower portion of the aquarium's water column are preferable. 

The silver arowana's domain is near the surface, where it stays most of the time. The silver arowana is a visual hunter, and it has been observed in the wild jumping out of the water to snatch a hapless bug from an overhanging tree branch. 

Angelfish Species Profile

Long a favorite among aquarists, the angelfish is a tall fish that can be kept in a community setting, as long as its tankmates are not overly aggressive or habitual fin nippers. Fast-swimming fish may also make an angelfish nervous and may out-compete it for food. Gouramis in the genera Colisa and Trichogaster make ideal tankmates, as do many of the cichlids, such as the festivum and most of the South American and West African dwarf species. Small tetras like neons should not be housed with angelfish unless they are intended as food.

Because it is a tall fish, an angelfish should be housed in a relatively tall tank. It is particularly sensitive to poor water quality, so efficient filtration (a hang-on-the-back power filter coupled with a sponge filter is ideal), along with 30 percent biweekly water changes are a must. It prefers water that is soft and slightly acidic (pH 5.8 to 6.2). It is a shy cichlid that should be provided with adequate cover in its tank.

Monday, December 22, 2014

African Jewelfish Species Profile

The jewelfishes from Africa are some of the most beautiful, and most bellicose, of the cichlids. While bimaculatus was the original jewelfish introduced into the hobby many years ago, there are now a number of other species available. They all behave the same and require the same conditions. Being from western Africa, they need softer, more acidic water than the cichlids of the rift lakes in eastern Africa.

This is definitely not a community fish. In fact, when it matures, and most especially when it is breeding, there is virtually no other fish that can be in the tank with it. But its beauty and behavior make it worthwhile to consider keeping a tank just for it.

The jewelfish breeds in the typical cichlid manner, laying a large mass of eggs on a flat surface on the bottom of the tank, and defending the spawn and the babies against all comers. When it is in breeding color, the jewelfish is absolutely stunning — the reds become incredibly intense and the spangles of other colors give it an almost psychedelic appearance. Breeding begins with these colors appearing, and with the fish tearing up the entire tank with its digging.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

How to Breed A Livebearing Fish

How to breed livebearing fish 
 Copyright © Practical Fishkeeping

Just started keeping fish? Fancy breeding some? Aquariums And Fishes introduces you to some tropical’s which take zero encouragement to get frisky!

You've just set up for tropical fish and your tank is either cycling or just cycled. First fish would have typically been half a dozen Zebra danios, all doing well, and soon your shop will allow you to stock a few of the species you really took up the hobby to keep - the colorful ones.

High on your list will be guppies, Siamese fighters, angels and Neon tetras. Why they aren't a good idea to keep together is the subject of another article, but if you do get your hands on some guppies, platies, mollies, Swordtails or Endler's, you will more than likely start to breed them.

Life in a Fishbowl: The Science and The Art of Fishkeeping

My First Aquarium:
How many times has this happened to you? You go to a local carnival and play that game where you try to throw ping-pong balls into little brandy glasses on a table. If your ball gets into one of those glasses, you win the prize - a bright orange goldfish swimming around in a tiny cup of water. So, you take the fish home in a plastic bag and when you get to the house you realize that all you have to put it into is a large mayonnaise jar. You wash out the mayonnaise jar, fill it with cold tap water and pour the fish in. Now it's swimming around in the jar as happy as can be!! You might even add some bread to give it food, but you notice it is not eating. It's getting late so you go to bed wishing the fish "good night". The next morning you find what typically happens to thousands of these ping-pong carnival goldfish each year: it's now swimming near the top of the water and slowly gasping for air. It is definitely not looking healthy! To make matters worse, the bread you had put into the jar the night before is all soggy and the water is turning cloudy. A few days later, the fish is floating belly up with a wide goggle eyed stare, quite dead to say the least!! I really wonder how often this story repeats itself across America!

My Introduction to Science:
I've been interested in fish since I was five years old and I regret to say that I've been guilty of the very scenario described above numerous times in my life. But, over the years, my fascination with fish and aquariums has led me to learn a lot about the art of fish keeping and the science that goes with it. In this article I'd like to discuss with you some of the aspects of fish keeping and how this hobby relates to scientific disciplines as chemistry, animal physiology, biochemistry, field ecology and even microbiology. For convenience this article will only discuss freshwater systems.

LED Lighting For Public Aquariums


Public Aquariums have been connecting people with the Natural World since 1853 when the first Public Aquarium was opened in London. Today, visiting a Public Aquarium is not only a family entertainment, but also an opportunity to learn about animals, plants, and ecosystems, including the preservation of species and environmental responsibilities, as Public Aquarium’s mission and objectives have broadened to include programs and projects of education & research; preservation, rescuing & rehabilitation and breeding of animals and plants.

LED Lighting for Public Aquarium

Although in these last three decades many technology developers focused on technical solutions to cover all aspects of aquarium construction, operation and breeding, Public Aquariums face challenges on daily basis such as:

Opportunities for Public Aquariums to Increase The Sustainability of Aquatic Animal Trade

The global aquatic pet trade encompasses a wide diversity of freshwater and marine organisms. While relying on a continual supply of healthy, vibrant aquatic animals, few sustainability initiatives exist within this sector. Public aquariums overlap this industry by acquiring many of the same species through the same sources. End users are also similar, as many aquarium visitors are home aquarists.

Here we posit that this overlap with the pet trade gives aquariums significant opportunity to increase the sustainability of the trade in aquarium fishes and invertebrates. Improving the sustainability ethos and practices of the aquatic pet trade can carry a conservation benefit in terms of less waste, and protection of intact functioning ecosystems, at the same time as maintaining its economic and educational benefits and impacts. The relationship would also move forward the goal of public aquariums to advance aquatic conservation in a broad sense.

For example, many public aquariums in North America have been instrumental in working with the seafood industry to enact positive change toward increased sustainability. The actions include being good consumers themselves, providing technical knowledge, and providing educational and outreach opportunities.

10 Largest Public Aquariums in the World

The most common size for a home aquarium tank is probably 29 or 30 gallon, though some aquarists have constructed aquariums of many thousands of gallons. Public aquariums can be dramatically larger than any home aquarium. But only a few public aquariums are big enough to make it to our list of largest aquariums in the world. These kinds of aquarium can hold whale sharks, and manta rays. It takes a very large tank to hold these kinds of aquatic creatures.

In order to compare these large aquariums we have looked at the size of their biggest tank (in gallons). Most aquariums have several tanks and the combined volume of water can be much larger but it is only the largest aquarium tank that is counted. So here’s a list of the largest aquariums in the world.

Aquarium of Western Australia (0,8 million gallons)
Aquarium of Western Australia 
Located in a coastal suburb of Perth, the Aquarium of Western Australia, or AQWA in short, contains Australia’s largest aquarium tank. The aquarium’s main tank is 40 meters (130 ft) long and 20 meters (66 ft) wide and holds 3,000,000 liters (793,000 gallons) of seawater. It incorporates a 98 meter (322 ft) underwater tunnel. For a fee, snorkelers and divers can get even closer to the fish, sharks, and rays by joining the aquarium’s dive master in exploring the main tank.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Visit a Public Aquarium in Summer 2014

Looking for something to do during summer vacations or school breaks? Find yourself with extra time on your hands during a business trip? Need a fun activity for a special event? Consider visiting a public aquarium - you won't regret it. Whether your passion is for saltwater or freshwater, there's no shortage of exhibits available throughout the world.

Some aquariums and zoos even offer the option to use their facilities to hold special events outside of normal business. What could be more fun than to have a birthday or anniversary party at an aquarium?

During holidays and summers, aquariums often have special displays as well as special discounts on admission prices. Some aquariums have even begun offering visitors the opportunity to scuba dive in their displays.

Public aquariums are wonderful learning experiences for children. Many facilities offer educational materials and programs. School groups can usually get special rates, and are provided with chaperones to conduct a customized tour for the group. Most of the larger aquariums offer both offsite and onsite educational programs.

Don't forget that many zoos have aquarium sections, so check them out too. Every aquarium or zoo has a curator (often several). Curators are very dedicated people who are passionate about their trade. If you contact the curator of the aquarium you want to visit, I guarantee they will be delighted to work with your school group.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

How to Choose Aquarium Equipment

Choosing the best Aquarium Equipments needs your core attention, to keep your fishes health and Happy. Fishkeeping is really more of an art than a science. As a true aquarist, you'll develop an appreciation for the beauty of the hobby and a certain respect for the creatures in your tank.

You'll come to view your aquarium not as a pastime or as an attractive addition to your living room, but as a delicate, vibrant system that takes shape and comes to life through your efforts, skill, and vision.

Like all arts, though, fishkeeping does have its technical side. To succeed, you have to create a suitable habitat for your fish, and to do that, you must use the proper tools. Knowing how your aquarium equipment works and why you need it will greatly increase your chances of success.

Aquarium Filtration Overview

As soon as fish are added to an aquarium, the normal processes of respiration and digestion produce waste products that pollute the water. There are also other sources of pollution, such as decaying uneaten food.

The biggest challenge in keeping an aquarium is controlling the level of these pollutants so that your fish have a healthy environment. One of the things you need to meet that challenge is an effective aquarium filtration system.

In many ways, aquarium filtration is the most complicated and difficult aspect of fishkeeping. A visit to any well-stocked aquarium or pet store will reveal an astonishing array of filters that vary widely in design and price.

In addition, the beginning aquarist faces a lot of new terms that are used to describe filters. Understanding how filters work and what they accomplish can make it much easier to sort through everything.

You may assume that the basic goal of filtration is to remove debris floating in the water so that it doesn't cause pollution. While this is correct, it's only part of the story.
This process is mechanical filtration. If mechanical filtration is sufficient, very little solid matter will be left floating in the water. However, just because the water looks clean doesn't mean it is safe for fish.

Mechanical Aquarium Filtration

Mechanical aquarium filtration is accomplished by moving water through some kind of material that acts like a sieve, catching the solids and removing them from the water. Ideally, the most effective mechanical filter removes particles down to very small sizes, but there is a trade-off here.

The smaller the particles are that the filter removes, the faster the filter material will clog. Because clogged filter material severely reduces the rate of water flow through it, the material must be cleaned or changed. The more effective the filter material is, at trapping small particles, the more often you will have to clean the filter.

For this reason, most filter material is designed to catch only the larger, more visible solids. Of course, as the filter material catches large particles, the openings in the material through which the water flows become increasingly smaller and thus trap increasingly smaller particles. The material does clog eventually, but it takes much longer.

Chemical Aquarium Filtration

Chemical aquarium filtration is needed because a number of dissolved, invisible compounds accumulate in aquarium water and they can't be removed by mechanical filtration. These compounds are not toxic to the fish but can inhibit their growth and cause chronic, low-level stress that eventually leads to disease. Most of these compounds are dissolved organic substances produced by natural biological decay.

The dissolved organic substances eventually reach concentrations high enough to become visible as a yellowish tinge in the water. You can see this when a sheet of white paper is held behind the tank so that half of it is viewed through the water. If the water is healthy for the fish, the paper viewed through the water will be as white as the other half; if not, the paper will have a yellowish cast to it.

Chemical filtration removes many, but not all, of these compounds. However, some substances that affect the growth of the fish can only be removed by making partial water changes on a regular basis. If this isn't done, the fish will never grow to normal adult size. This stunted growth will result in fish that never achieve the beauty of mature fish, and it can cause other related health problems.

Biological Aquarium Filtration

Biological aquarium filtration is the most important of all. The lack of effective biological filtration is probably responsible for the deaths of more fish than any other cause. The particular dissolved compounds controlled by biological filtration are very toxic to fish even at low concentrations.

In newly set up tanks, the effects of these compounds can kill fish very quickly. In aquariums that have been running longer but are overstocked with fish, there can be constant low levels of these compounds in the water. This creates chronic, long-term physical stress, resulting in diseased and dying fish.

To understand biological filtration, it is necessary to understand a basic process in the aquarium: the nitrogen cycle. Ammonia is one of the key elements in the nitrogen cycle. Fish produce ammonia directly both as a by-product of respiration and as a waste product from the digestion of foods.

Solid wastes are also converted into ammonia, which is why it is important to remove them with mechanical filtration. Uneaten food, plant materials, and other organic items that decay in the tank are also converted to ammonia. Ammonia, a nitrogen-based compound, is extremely toxic. In an aquarium, it can build up quickly and threaten all the fish in the tank.

Aquarium Aeration and Surface Agitation

Before looking at specific filter designs, you should understand aquarium aeration and surface agitation. At the surface level, water and air undergo a natural exchange of gases. Oxygen goes from the air to the water, and carbon dioxide goes from the water to the air. This is how the oxygen that fish breathe enters their habitat and how the carbon dioxide that they produce by respiration is removed from their habitat.

When the surface of aquarium water is disturbed, the rate of gas exchange between the water and the air is increased; more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and more dissolved oxygen is taken by the water. The surface tension of the water must be broken for sufficient gas exchange.

Fortunately, creating surface agitation is easily done with aeration, or pumping air into the water so that it forms bubbles. The bubbles rise to the surface and burst, thus breaking the surface tension.

This also creates water movement in the tank, in effect stirring the aquarium ever so slightly, so that all of the materials and compounds in the water -- both the beneficial ones and the harmful ones -- are evenly distributed throughout the tank.

One way of providing the necessary aeration in an aquarium is to use air stones connected to an air pump. The air stones can be made from wood or other highly porous materials. When air is forced in one end of the air stone by the pump, it is released as bubbles from the other end.

Aquarium Filter Designs: Box, Power, and Canister Filters

Mechanical aquarium filters all serve the same function, but they come in a variety of different designs: inside box filter, inside power filter, outside power filter, and canister filter. Each type of filter has its own system for creating water flow, and each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. All will work well depending on the capacity of the filter, the size of the tank, and the amount of maintenance the filter receives.
Nearly all mechanical filters also have a compartment to hold activated granular carbon, so that they act as efficient chemical filters as well.

To avoid having the carbon become covered with solid matter, which would keep it from adsorbing the chemical wastes, the water should pass through the mechanical filtering material first. That way, the solid matter will be removed from the water before it reaches the carbon.

The inside box filter is the simplest and least expensive of all mechanical filters. The filter is set up inside the aquarium itself, and it can be relatively effective in smaller tanks.
Bubbles from a tube or air stone inside the box draw water through it. The bubbles rising to the surface from the box also help aerate the tank. The box itself is filled with Dacron filter material and a quantity of granular activated carbon.

There are a few drawbacks to the inside box filter. It is not very effective in large aquariums. From a visual standpoint, it adds nothing to the appearance of the tank, although it can sometimes be hidden successfully behind plants or a large rock. Also, changing the filter material requires removing the unit from the tank.

Aquarium Filter Designs: Undergravel Filters

Biological aquarium filters, including under-gravel filters, function in a completely different way, and they have a completely different design. The Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter bacteria necessary for biological filtration will colonize virtually every surface in a tank. However, there is usually not enough surface area in a tank to support populations of these nitrifying bacteria large enough to process all the ammonia that is produced in a typical aquarium.
A biological filter deals with this problem by making the natural nitrogen cycle operate more productively.

A biological filter has two main functions. It increases the amount of surface area available to the nitrifying bacteria, and it creates a constant flow of aquarium water over the colonized area.

The most popular kind of biological filter is the undergravel filter. It is relatively inexpensive, reliable, and very effective. An undergravel filter is really just a plastic plate that covers the bottom of the aquarium. The plate has many small holes or slots in it. The exact physical appearance varies from one brand to another, but all work on exactly the same principle.
The undergravel filter plate is covered with aquarium gravel. Located at each back corner of the plate is a lift tube that extends from the plate to the top of the tank.

Aquarium Filter Designs: Sponge Filters

Another kind of biological aquarium filter that is commonly used in aquariums is the sponge filter. Although varying somewhat in appearance, all sponge filters work the same way. Water is pulled through the sponge, which is colonized by nitrifying bacteria. Most sponge filters use a single lift tube and air bubbles to draw water through the sponge, although some large models can use a powerhead instead.
There are specific reasons for using sponge filters. For example, if you keep a sponge filter in a tank that already has a biological filter; it will develop its own colony of bacteria. The sponge filter can then serve as an emergency biological filter in another tank.

If you need to set up a small tank to treat a sick fish or a quarantine tank for new fish, the sponge filter can provide immediate biological filtration for that tank. This eliminates the usual break-in period.

For those who breed fish, the sponge filter is also very useful. Often at some point, young fish need to be taken out of the adult tank and put into a fry tank, which contains only juveniles of the same size. Sponge filters provide instant biological filtration for the fry tank.

It is safe for the baby fish because there is no dangerous filter intake, as with power filters, and the micro-organisms on the surface of the sponge even provide an additional food source for the growing fish.

Aquarium Water Temperature

For the vast majority of tropical fish, an aquarium water temperature of 76 to 78º Fahrenheit will be fine. Some species like cooler water and some prefer warmer water, but as a compromise, this range works well.

If you are having difficulty deciding what fish to buy, it wouldn't hurt to choose fish that prefer the same temperature range. Goldfish are not tropical fish and fare better at temperatures closer to 65º Fahrenheit.

It is very important that the water temperature be consistent. Rapid fluctuations in temperature, particularly down, may cause physical stress to fish that often leads to disease. The solution to maintaining the correct water temperature is an aquarium heater and thermostat.

Aquarium heaters are available in a variety of types, sizes, and prices. When it comes to aquarium heaters, trying to save money is not a good idea. The reliability of a heater is too crucial to risk buying an inexpensive one.

The weak link in any heater is the thermostat, which regulates the heater, turning it on and off to maintain the desired temperature. The quality of design, materials, and construction of the thermostat is one of the things that separate unreliable heaters from good ones. In cheap heaters, the thermostat often sticks -- either open or closed -- and this can be disastrous.

Aquarium Heaters

As a general rule, the more water a tank holds the more stable the aquatic environment will be. For example, it will take a 50-gallon tank much longer to drop in temperature than a 10-gallon tank.

The same is not true for temperature increases, though, because the aquarium heater wattage is chosen to match the size of the tank it will be in. The rule of thumb is five watts per gallon, which will allow the heater to raise the temperature of one gallon of water by one degree Fahrenheit in one hour.

Thus, a 10-gallon tank would use a 50-watt heater and a 50-gallon tank would use a 250-watt heater. For larger tanks it is often necessary to use more than one heater to achieve the desired wattage.

In fact, using more than one heater is actually a good idea for any size aquarium in terms of safety. When two smaller heaters are used that equal the wattage of one heater, the possibility of complete heater failure is almost eliminated.

If one heater should stick in the closed position, the temperature will raise only half as fast, giving you a greater chance of catching the problem before it becomes serious. If one of the heaters sticks in the open position, the other heater will prevent the temperature from dropping as far or as rapidly.

Aquarium Lighting

Aquarium lighting makes it possible to fully appreciate the beauty of the fish and the aquascaping in the tank. It also provides necessary illumination if you choose to use live plants.

Assuming the location for the tank has been chosen carefully, tank lighting will allow you to control the amount and duration of light the aquarium receives. For all these reasons, the aquarium hood, which contains the light fixture, is an essential component.

The hood fulfills several functions in addition to providing illumination for the tank. It minimizes the evaporation of tank water and it prevents dust and other items from entering the tank easily.

It also stops most fish from jumping out of the tank. Some fish, however, manage to jump through even very small spaces in the hood, in places where equipment is set up. The back of most hoods contains precut openings for filters and heaters. These openings can be pushed or cut out as needed. If they are larger than the items they are intended for, a fish may find its way through the extra space. As a general rule, this only happens if the fish is already under considerable stress.

Many hoods come equipped to accept incandescent light bulbs. These can be adequate for illuminating the tank, but they do have drawbacks.

Aquarium Plants

Live plants can add beauty to any aquarium and are good for the fish as well. Fish feel more secure when there are plants to hide in. Some fish will spawn among plants, and vegetarian species will eat plants. 

Because you are not likely to want your aquarium plants eaten, you will either have to avoid vegetarian species or use plastic plants instead. 

Many species of live plants will do well in an aquarium, but some do better than others depending on the water chemistry and the amount of light.

Do not use house-plants in an aquarium. They will not last long and will contribute to water quality problems as they begin to decay.

Unfortunately, some dealers are not familiar enough with live plants to always know whether the plants they carry are truly aquatic species or not. A good book on aquarium plants is very helpful in this regard and will also provide extensive information on the care and maintenance of plants.

Live plants compete with algae for nutrients in the water, and therefore limit their growth. Many hobbyists think algae are unattractive, but they are a natural part of any aquatic ecosystem and can provide food for some species of fish.

Aquarium Water Test Kits

Aquarium water test kits are an important item for hobbyists to keep on hand. The water you pour into the tank has several characteristics that you need to consider. 

These include the pH, how hard or soft it is, and any chemicals that may have been added that could endanger the fish.

In addition, the fish introduce other compounds into the water that will slowly reduce the water quality. Looking at the water tells you nothing about its chemistry and very little about its quality.

Monitoring water chemistry and water quality requires test kits. It is surprising how many people will spend a substantial amount of money for an aquarium setup but balk at spending a few extra dollars for three basic test kits -- ammonia, nitrite, and pH.

There are actually many more types of test kits available, but these three are the minimum needed to check the water. Other kits test for nitrate, copper, chlorine, dissolved oxygen, and more.

There are differences in test kits that you will want to take into consideration when choosing them. Some kits have liquid components, or reagents that test the water and others have dry reagents. As a rule, dry reagent kits have a longer shelf life and are more reliable than kits with liquid reagents.

Aquarium Water pH Levels

Understanding aquarium water pH levels is important, not only to have an idea of what it is but also to compare later with the tank water to judge how things are functioning in the tank. 

A simple aquarium water test kit will provide a reasonably accurate reading of the pH. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, and for monitoring aquarium water, you need to work in increments of tenths.  

A pH value of 7 is the midpoint, which means the water is neutral. As the pH values go down from this midpoint, the water is increasingly acidic; as the value goes up from the midpoint, the water is increasingly alkaline.

A change of one whole number (i.e., 7.5 to 6.5) actually represents a change in acidity or alkalinity of 100 times. Many aquarium fish that originate from South America prefer softer, more acidic water, whereas fish from East Africa do best in hard, alkaline water. These are just two examples.
Unless you intend to breed a species that is very particular about water chemistry, you will find that the stability of the pH in an aquarium is far more important than the exact value. Large, rapid changes in pH are often fatal to fish. Any change greater than 0.2 in a 24-hour period will cause physical stress for most fish.

Hard and Soft Aquarium Water

You should know if your tap water is hard or soft so you can adjust it if necessary for your aquarium. Hard water has a high content of certain minerals -- magnesium, calcium and iron salts -- and soft water does not.

The biggest concern with tap water, though, is what the city water department puts in it. Most municipal water companies add chlorine or chloramine to the water to kill certain bacteria that are harmful to people. Unfortunately, these chemicals are themselves harmful to fish and must be removed from the water.

Every pet store has a selection of chemicals that will easily dechlorinate the water. For dealing with chloramine, however, you need something a little different. Chloramine is a combination of chlorine and ammonia. When a normal dechlorinator is used at double the recommended amount, it will break the bond between these two compounds, neutralizing the chlorine but releasing the ammonia. The added ammonia may be more than the nitrifying bacteria in your tank's biological filter can handle.

The only way to handle this problem is to use a one-step water conditioner designed to handle chloramine. This product will break the bond between chlorine and ammonia and neutralize both.

Aquarium Aquascaping Tips

The first consideration when decorating an aquarium, or aquarium aquascaping, is the gravel. The size of the individual pieces of gravel is particularly important if the tank has an undergravel filter. If the gravel is too large, there won't be as much total surface area for the nitrifying bacteria. On the other hand, if the gravel is too small, it will clog with particles easily and restrict the flow of water through the gravel bed.

The best gravel sizes are #2 or #3, which are two and three millimeters in diameter respectively. Although the color of gravel is a matter of personal choice, neutral colors are more natural and do not compete with the fish for attention. They also help to make the fish more comfortable.

You may notice that many fish are dark on top and lighter on the bottom. This is a form of camouflage called counter-shading. The fish will be less visible to predators when viewed from above against the dark bottom of a stream or pond, or when viewed from below against the light color of the sky. For this reason, fish feel more secure over dark gravel.

Other Important Aquarium Items

There is a large variety of other aquarium items and accessories available for aquarists to choose from, but only some are absolutely necessary. You will want to have enough air line tubing to run between the air pump and the air stones, as well as some extra air stones. Over time, air stones begin to clog, which reduces their efficiency and causes unnecessary wear on the air pump.

You should also have an extra set of replacement diaphragms on hand for the air pump. If not, your dealer can replace them for you when they wear out. Some hobbyists like to be prepared for larger problems. If you are willing to make the investment, a back-up pump and even an extra heater or filter provides insurance against equipment failure.

How to Care Your Aquarium Fish

New hobbyists, who have had problems keeping fish alive for even a few months are always shocked to find out that, the normal life span of the typical aquarium fish is measured not in months but in years,.

Although it varies from species to species, aquarium fish should live anywhere from three to seven years, or longer. Goldfish can live for 20 years or more. Fish can actually live longer, healthier lives and sometimes even grow larger in an aquarium than they do in the wild.

In nature, a fish's food supplies come and go with the changing of the seasons and unusual weather patterns. The amount of food may be limited, and it often takes a lot of energy to find enough to survive.

Predators, including other fish, will keep nearly all the young of any species from reaching adulthood. Few fish get to die of old age in the wild. Fish that are too weak or slow will quickly become dinner.

Although aquariums have limitations, they can be an environment where fish are able to flourish.