best aquarium water test kits

Best Aquarium Water Test Kits

Best Aquarium Water Test Kits

Testing aquarium water is a key component of maintaining a healthy environment for fish. Below are a list of aquarium water test kits and some information about them.

Best Aquarium Water Test Kits – Master Test Kits
Combination, or Master, test kits are touted as the perfect way to have all the tests you need on hand. Their advantages include lower cost per test, everything has the same expiration dates, and it’s a quick and easy way to purchase and keep the basic tests all at once. The disadvantage is that one can’t customize tests; the kits are fixed to what’s in the kit. Also, the kits tend to run out of one item long before the others. It is recommended that keeping a master kit on hand with pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, preferably a liquid variety instead of strips is best.

Best Aquarium Water Test Kits – Ammonia Test Kits
An ammonia test kit is one of the must haves for every aquarium owner. However, not all ammonia tests are created equal. The primary issue at hand is the fact that ammonia can be present in a non-ionized form (NH3), or the ionized form (NH4) known as ammonium. NH3 is what hobbyists are concerned about, but most tests give results for the total of NH3 and NH4.

Nitrite Test Kit
Nitrite is another test that is important during the start-up of a new aquarium, as well as on an ongoing basis. It is advisable to test for nitrite monthly and any time a fish is sick or dies.

Nitrate Test Kits
Nitrate is not as dangerous for fish, but at high levels it stresses them, leaving them more susceptible to disease and ultimately shortening their lifespan. Nitrate tests are often included in a master test kit, or paired with a Nitrite test kit, but they can also be purchased separately as well.

pH Test Kits
pH is a key parameter for all aquariums, and should be tested and recorded in a log regularly. Sudden changes in pH are often the invisible cause of fish disease and death. Gradual pH changes are less serious in the short term, but ultimately can be just as dangerous to the health of fish. If using strips instead of liquid test kits take care to seal the strips well and don’t touch the pads on the strips with dirty fingers.

Hardness Test Kits
Two types of hardness tests are available, KH or carbonate hardness, and GH or general hardness.
KH, often referred to as alkalinity or carbonate hardness, is the measure of carbonate and bicarbonate in the water. The higher the KH, the more stable pH will be. GH measures the levels of dissolved magnesium and calcium, which is what we refer to when using the terms hard or soft water. GH should be matched to the species of fish being kept.

Phosphate Test Kits
Generally this test is most often used in saltwater aquariums. Phosphate is not a commonly used test in freshwater aquariums, as elevated levels will not harm fish. However, phosphate is a key factor in algae growth. If battling algae problems, knowing the phosphate level can help determine if the steps being taken to lower the phosphate levels are having the desired effect.

Oxygen Test Kit
Oxygen is rarely tested in aquariums, but there are specialty situations where it is useful. Densely populated tanks, such as those that breeders might have, or densely planted tanks are two situations in which oxygen levels may require closer examination. Both salinity and temperature impact the amount of oxygen that can be dissolved in the water. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water, and freshwater holds more oxygen than saltwater.

Iron Test Kits
Iron is present in trace amounts in aquarium water and generally does not require testing. However, plants require iron to thrive, and those who keep heavily planted tanks, or breed plants, may test for iron levels.

Copper Test Kits
Copper tests are only used in situations where copper is used to treat sick fish. Because it is used only during treatment, this is not a test kit that is normally kept on hand. Instead copper test kits are usually purchased when giving copper treatments.

So which is the Best Aquarium Water Test Kits?
I have been using the Freshwater Master Test Kit for many years. It covers your most critical parameters all in one box.

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how to hatch brine shrimp

How to Hatch Brine Shrimp

How to Hatch Brine Shrimp

Storing Brine Shrimp Eggs

First of all, you need to start with healthy, properly stored eggs. All brine shrimp eggs need to be stored as follows:
• in a tightly sealed container;
• free from moisture; and
• in a cool environment at or below 50°F. (Refrigeration is ideal for short term storage, i.e., less than three to four weeks; for longer term storage, eggs are best kept at or below freezing.)
The above storage guidelines apply to all brine shrimp eggs, whether in opened or unopened tins.

How to Hatch Brine Shrimp – Hatching Environment

Here are the recommended conditions on How to hatch brine shrimp:
• Salinity:
25 parts per thousand (ppt) salt solution, or approximately 1 and 2/3 tablespoons of salt per quart (or liter) of water. Be sure to use marine salt or solar salt.
• pH:
Proper pH is important in hatching brine shrimp. A starting pH of 8.0 or higher is recommended. In areas where the water pH is below 7, Epson salt or magnesium sulfate can be added at the rate of 1/2 teaspoon per quart of solution to buffer the hatching solution.
• Temperature:
Optimum water temperature for a 24-hour complete hatch is 80-82°F or 26-28°C. Lowering the temperature would result in a longer hatching time. Do not exceed 30°C.
• Light:
Illumination is necessary to trigger the hatching mechanism within the embryo during the first few hours of incubation. Maintaining a light source during the entire incubation period is recommended to obtain optimum hatch results and for temperature control.
• Aeration:
Constant aeration is necessary to keep cysts in suspension and to provide sufficient oxygen levels for the cysts to hatch. A minimum of 3 parts per million dissolved oxygen during the incubation is recommended. Strong aeration should not damage or hurt the brine shrimp cysts or nauplii.
• Stocking Density:
1 gram per liter or quart or approximately 1/2 level teaspoon of cysts per quart is recommended. A higher stocking density will result in a lower hatch percentage.
• Hatching Cone:
Flat-bottom hatching vessels should be avoided. Cone or “V” bottomed containers are best to insure that the cysts remain in suspension during hatching. Be sure to thoroughly wash the hatching cone with a light chlorine solution, rinse, and allow to air-dry between uses. Avoid soap. Soap will leave a slight residue which will foam from aeration during hatching and leave cysts stranded above the water level.
• Incubation Period:
Generally, the optimum incubation time is 24 hours. Egg which has been properly stored for more than 2-3 months may require additional incubation time — up to 30-36 hours. Oftentimes, eggs will hatch in as few as 18 hours. If a smaller size nauplii (Instar I) is desired, a harvest time of 18 hours is recommended.

How to Hatch brine Shrimp – Hatching Procedure
i. Set Up: Place hatching cone or similarly shaped vessel in well-lit area. Cone should be semi-translucent for ease of harvesting and light transmission.
ii. Add Water: Fill cone with water and adjust salinity to 25 ppt (parts per thousand). Optimum hatching temperature is 82°F (28°C).
iii. Add Cysts: Add cysts at the rate of 1 gram per liter.
iv. Aerate: Provide adequate aeration to keep cysts in suspension.
v. Hatch: Depending upon water temperature, cysts should hatch in approximately 18-36 hours.
vi. Harvest: After hatching brine shrimp, turn off or remove aeration and wait several minutes for the shells and baby brine shrimp (or nauplii) to separate. Newly hatched nauplii will settle to the bottom of the cone or move towards a light source; the shells will float to the surface. Once separated, the nauplii can be siphoned from the bottom with a length of air tubing or gently drained through the bottom of the cone through a valve, if so equipped.
vii. Rinse: The warm incubation temperatures and metabolites from the hatching medium create ideal conditions for a bacteria bloom. Rinsing of the baby brine shrimp in a fine mesh net or sieve using clean fresh or salt water is important before feeding them to your fish.
viii. Clean Equipment: Tanks and brine shrimp hatching equipment should be cleaned and disinfected routinely.

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how to move an aquarium

How to Move an Aquarium

How to move an aquarium

You may need to move your fish tank/aquarium in some situations, say when relocating. Moving your aquarium can be a tedious task, but with a little planning, the correct handling, and the proper supplies, your fish should make it to their new home with minimal upset. The following guidelines enable you to walk through the process mentally, alerting you to any precautions you need to take to help ensure a smooth transition.

Moving Fish
In a case where you are relocating within your home, net your fish into a clean, 5-gallon bucket with plenty of aquarium water. Carefully scoop out invertebrates in a small, clean plastic container before placing them in the bucket.
On the other hand, when moving less than one hour from your home, bag your specimens individually the same way your pet store does. Once bagged, keep the fish in the dark to reduce stress.
Finally, if moving a distance of 1-6 hours away, again bag the fish individually. But this time, you’ll need to add pure oxygen to the bags, supplied by your local fish store. Always ensure you call ahead of time to check for availability, and agree upon a time. Live plants can be transported in bags, too, with some of the original aquarium water. Wrap leaves in wet newspaper to prevent drying out, or make sure plants are completely submerged. Maintain water temperature for your fish and other specimens by placing them, in their sealed bags, within a sealed cooler.

How to Move an Aquarium – Preparation
• Discontinue feeding your fish two days before the move
• Establish a checklist of items you’ll need at your new destination, such as pre-mixed saltwater or an ammonia-removing product
• Acquire several clean 5-gallon buckets that have not housed chemicals or detergents
• Designate a space in the moving truck closest to a door for easy access to your aquarium and equipment
• Your aquarium should be the last thing you pack, and the first thing you take out and set up
• Move your fish separately from the aquarium

Moving the Aquarium
When taking down the aquarium, save as much of the water as you can. Use 5-gallon buckets with lids to transport water. Reusing your water cuts the cycling time considerably once you restart the system, and decreases the likelihood of a toxic ammonia spike. Pack your pumps, heaters, and other equipment the way you would pack fragile appliances.
Remove the gravel and water and place in 5-gallon buckets to alleviate the stress on the aquarium seams resulting from the bumps and bouncing during transport. Keep your filter media and sponges immersed in some of your aquarium water, as well, to minimize disruption of the bacteria colonies within them. This, too, helps reduce cycling time.

For moves further than 6 hours, take out your gravel or substrate and bag it with some aquarium water. Either clean or discard your filter media, but if you do this please remember that your system will have to be treated as new when starting it up again. This necessitates a complete cycling, and only a few hardy species of fish will be able to withstand the cycling process. You should make temporary arrangements for your other fish until the aquarium has been properly cycled.

When moving the aquarium within your home, use the buckets as mentioned above. Leave enough water in the aquarium to fully cover the gravel. There’s no need to pack your pumps and other equipment, but it is a good idea to keep submersible filters in a container with some aquarium water.

How To move an Aquarium- On Arrival
Whether your new destination is within your existing home, or a new location altogether, you’ll need to work quickly to get your aquarium operating again. Fill it with as much of the old water as you were able to save. Top off with fresh water or premixed saltwater, get your filters, heaters, and other equipment running, and then add a bacterial additive to accelerate cycling. Add your plants and decorations and test your water parameters. If acceptable, add your livestock after proper acclimation.

Hopefully you have a better understanding of how to move an aquarium.

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discus food recipes

Discus Food Recipes

Discus Food Recipes

Discus fish thrive greatly on a number of food types. These include beef, veal, turkey heart, fish fillets, shrimp and liver of beef/ turkey. Below are some of the common recipes for making these food types for the discus fish.

Discus Food Recipes 1: Beef Heart and Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of ground beef heart. (Remove the blood vessels and fat)
  • 4 tablespoons of yellow cornmeal or cooked wheat germ.
  • 1 cup ground raw shrimp (without the shell).
  • 3 tablespoons of ground garlic.
  • ½ cup cooked spinach puree.
  • Yolk of 3 eggs.
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika.
  • 6 crushed calcium citrate and Vitamin D supplements.
  • 4 multivitamins (washed and soaked in water to form a soup).
  • 2 cups of meat lover’s flakes and 1 cup discus and angel flake.
  • 2 ounces of Formula One Marine
  • 7 small boxes of unflavored gelatin.

Preparation Procedure

Mix all the above ingredients and heat them. Do not boil. Stir in the gelatin and mix again. Pour the mixture out and allow it to cool. Once it cools, cut it into small pieces and freeze it in zip-lock bags. You can add 3 tablespoons of spirulina powder/krill/plankton.

Discus Food Recipes 2: Veal Heart

Ingredients

  • Veal heart (should be rinsed well in cold water and cleaned of blood vessels and fat).
  • One 10 ounce packet of frozen spinach; thaw and squeeze out the water.
  • 6 cloves of garlic.
  • 3 large handfuls of any type of dry flake food.
  • 1 cup Quaker oats.
  • 1 small box of unflavored gelatin.
  • 6 multivitamins washed off the protective coating and dunked in a small cup of water.

Preparation Procedure

Blend all these ingredients into a food processor and store the paste in freezer bags. The mixture should be around ¼ inch thick in the bags, when placed it in the freezer. At the time of feeding, just break off a piece, place it on a paper towel and allow it to thaw. Then feed the fish!

Discus Food Recipes 3: Turkey Heart, Turkey Liver, Shrimp, and Fish Fillets

Ingredients

  • 350 pounds turkey heart, washed and trimmed of all blood vessels and fat.
  • 150 pounds turkey liver.
  • 50 pounds non-oily fish fillets.
  • 100 pounds peeled shrimp.
  • 32 pounds green peas.
  • 20 pounds fish flakes.
  • 10 pounds oatmeal

Preparation Procedure

After allowing the hearts, livers, fish fillets and shrimp to thaw, cook them separately. Grind each of them and then mix them together. Grind this mixture once again and dollop the final mixture into plastic bags. Flatten the mixture in the plastic bag, so as to remove the air. Store in the freezer and thaw before feeding this discus fish food to the fish.

Discus Food Recipes 4: Beef Heart, Shrimp, Beef Liver and White Fish

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds beef heart.
  • 1 pound beef liver (trimmed, rinsed well and soaked for 3 minutes in hot water).
  • 2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled.
  • White fish – 1 pound.
  • 2 pounds frozen plankton.
  • 2 packets of lightly steamed spinach.
  • 1 box of lightly steamed peas.
  • Yolk of 6 eggs.
  • ⅓ cup Kelp seaweed powder.
  • ¼ cup brewer’s yeast.
  • ½ cup cooked wheat germ.
  • Spirulina powder – 1 tablespoon.
  • Vitamin C powder – 1 tablespoon.

Preparation Procedure

Blend the beef heart, liver, shrimp, white fish, plankton, peas and spinach in a food processor. Dollop out the paste in a large bowl and add to it the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Place the mixture into freezing bags and freeze them until needed. At feeding time, take a piece and allow it to thaw. Feed it to the discus in the fish tank.

 

 

Conclusion
Besides the above mentioned recipes, these fish also feed on frozen blood worms, mosquito larvae, white worms, Mysis shrimp, glass worms, red worms (chopped up) and dried or frozen adult brine shrimp. One can make some modification to the recipe as one desire. The above mentioned discus fish food recipes are suitable for discus fish of all ages.

 

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how many discus

How Many Discus

How Many Discus

How many discus can I safely keep together is a very common question I receive from many discus keepers.

If you search online you will see many conflicting responses.

How many discus you can keep together is not a one number answer. There are many factors to consider before being able to answer the question.

In this article I will explain all the different factors involved to help you decide how many discus is bet for your aquarium.

Consideration 1:
The rule of thumb for how many discus you can keep together doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone but is 1 discus for every gallons of water. Therefore if you follow that rule you can only keep 10 full size discus in a 100 gallon tank. I have been keeping discus for well over 25 years and have never followed this rule. My personal opinion is that 10 fish in a 100 gallon tank will make the tank look empty unless you plan on having a lot of plants and decorations.

Consideration 2:
What size is your tank? Obviously the bigger the tank the more discus you can keep. However make sure you take into consideration the amount of plants and decorations you have in your tank. Remember that they take up space therefore reducing the total water volume.

Consideration 3:
How much filtration do you have? Discus require very clean water conditions. The more filtration you have the better. Keep in mind that every fish produces waste. The more fish you add the more waste that will be produced. Therefore you must make sure that you have sufficient filtration.

Consideration 4:
What kind of substrate will you have at the bottom of your tank? There are many options to choose from such as gravel, sand, or even nothing at all just a bare bottom. If you use gravel uneaten food and fish waste can get trapped between the pebbles. Your filter will not be able to pick it up so that will require you to perform more frequent water changes.

Consideration 5:
Are you keeping other fish with the discus? if so what kind are they? How big will they grow?

At this point you are probably thinking “so how many discus can I keep? I’m still confused”

Here is my personal opinion which has worked well for me for over 25 years:
Allow 7 gallons of water for every discus fish. This will give the fish enough room to grow, swim and be happy. Do not crowd your tank with many decorations. Live plants are good if you want to go that route. Live plants actually help keep the water extremely clean. However plastic plants are fine also. Just make sure you clean then in warm water when they get dirty. It is extremely important that you keep up with your water changes (at least 30% per week of water changed weekly). The more water changes you do the faster your discus will grow.

I hope that you now have a better understanding of how many discus you can keep.

Feel free to contact me should you have any questions.

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