Category: Fish (Page 2 of 3)

Aquatic Plants for Beginners

Aquatic Plants for Beginners

Watching sea life in an aquarium is a peaceful pastime for fish owners everywhere. Aquatic plants can enhance the beauty and health of that environment we love to watch so much.

  • There are benefits to adding aquatic plants to your tank:
  • They provide natural filtration by lowering nitrate levels.
  • They use nutrients that normally feed algae growth, helping to reduce algae.
  • Plants provide hiding spaces for shy species (bettas, loaches, cory cats, etc.).
  • They add to the beauty and health of your aquarium.

Consider adding live plants to your aquarium. We’ll get you started with a beginner’s list below.

The best plant species for beginners

These plants require low light, and are very hardy in that they thrive in different water conditions (acidic, alkaline, soft, hard, etc.).

  • Cryptocorne Wendtii – Also called Bronze Wendtii, this low and bushy plant has variegated leaves. Colors range from green to bronze. It prefers deep substrate.
  • Echinodorus Bleheri – Commonly known as an Amazon Sword. This species can get very large and should be planted in a 20 gallon high aquarium. It also does well in terrarium situations.
  • Echinodorus Ocelatus – The Ozelot Sword has leaves that get multi-tonal brown spots as the plant matures. Some leaves will have a rich red tone. It doesn’t get as tall as others, making it a perfect mid-ground plant.
  • Echinodorus Barthii – The Red Melon Sword has pretty reddish oval leaves and can be used as a mid-ground or background plant.
  • Echinodorus Cordifolius – The Radican Sword features spade-shaped leaves and does best in a planted tank that has a rich substrate. This can be achieved with a tablet fertilizer.
  • Anubias Nana – This plant is slow growing and should be anchored to an ornament or piece of driftwood for best results, as its roots are very shallow. Can be used as a foreground or mid-ground plant.
  • Microsorum Pteropus – The Java Fern will creep across the aquarium as it grows, attaching itself to driftwood or ornaments. It does best in tanks with low light levels.
  • Chladophora Aegagropila – These Moss Balls are actually slow growing filamentous algae, which can improve filtration in your tank. They may even inhibit growth of other types of algae.

For help with choosing the best plants for your aquarium, visit Pet Supermarket and speak with a store associate.

Got Algae? These Fish Will Eat the Algae in Your Tank

Fish that Will Eat the Algae in Your Tank

Otocinclus Catfish

Algae… it’s persistent, pervasive and can blanket an aquarium in green growth. While some algal growth is normal, it’s important to reach a healthy balance in your tank’s ecosystem. One way to reach this balance is with algae-eating fish.

These freshwater fish are good algae eaters:

Plecos – A type of suckermouth catfish, plecos are among the best algae eaters. While common plecos are popular, they’re best used in very large aquariums as they can grow up to two feet. For the home aquarium, better choices include the bushynose pleco and the bristlenose pleco, which eat all types of algae and reach a maximum of four to six inches.

Pygmy Suckermouth – The pygmy suckermouth or Otocinclus resembles the pleco, but is smaller (up to two inches). They do well in aquariums with plants as their size allows them to eat algae off small leaves. “Otos” are a schooling fish however and should be kept in groups of three or more.

Siamese Algae Eater – A member of the cyprinid or carp family, Siamese algae eaters consume a lot of algae, unlike Chinese algae eaters, which eat less algae as they grow. Maximum length is four or five inches. Don’t keep two of this type as they can get territorial with their own kind.

Florida Flagfish – This native flagfish can grow to two and a half inches and can eat the brush or beard algae ignored by other algae eaters. Make sure it can get along with the other fish in your tank. Tips to keep in mind…

  • Some algae-eating fish will only eat certain types of algae.
  • If your fish have eaten all the algae, there’s a possibility they could starve. Use algae tablets or vegetables as supplements.
  • You can’t depend on fish to clean your tank of all algae. Fish can have favorite eating spots in your tank, leaving algae growing in other areas.

These fish can help with algae, but don’t consider them a solution to combating the problem. You should still pay attention to algal growth and keep your tank clean.

Your Tank Check Cheat Sheet

Your Tank Check Cheat Sheet

Remember the feeling you had when you first got your fish tank? You were excited about your new pets, very attentive to their needs and checked the tank often. But like a new pool owner, you’ve slowly let more time lapse between water tests and tank maintenance has become a chore. Does this sound like you? Use this cheat sheet to get back on track with your tank checks.

First, make sure you know the ideal water temperature and chemistry for your tank. Temperature and other levels may vary, depending on the tank size, amount and type of fish and whether or not you’re breeding fish.

Testing kits
If you don’t yet have a water testing kit, getting one should be your next step. There are two types of kits: those with test strips and reagent kits with liquid drops. For the casual fish keeper or hobbyist, test strips are fine. They’re easier to use, but they do provide less information. (They’ll tell you if there is or isn’t ammonia, but won’t give you a number.) Reagent kits take more time and are a bit more costly, but will give you more detailed information. Another option is to take a sample of your tank water to Pet Supermarket for a free water test.

Daily checks
Your daily check is just a short look to make sure everything is in order.

  • Check for tank leaks
  • Check the water temperature (You should know the ideal temp for your tank)
  • Look at the water level
  • Review your fish for any signs of parasites or illness

Weekly or biweekly checks
Weekly checks will require your testing kit. If you have a new aquarium, it’s especially important to test water frequently. A more established tank can be tested biweekly, as long as the tested levels are in comfortable ranges.

  • Test for changes in pH, the most frequent cause of fish stress. Most freshwater fish prefer a pH between 5.5 and 7.5. Saltwater fish prefer a pH of 8.0 or above. Learn the appropriate pH for your fish.
  • Ammonia is highly toxic to fish. Test for it at the same time as pH and especially after setting up a new tank or after a fish death or illness. The level should be zero, but ammonia rises as the pH rises above 7.0. Switch to daily testing if ammonia rises.
  • You should have zero nitrites, which can be as toxic as ammonia.
  • Nitrates can rise over time and stress fish. Keep levels below 50ppm, ideally 25 ppm or less.
  • Check for phosphates, which can lead to algae. Keep it to .05 pmm or less. At 1.0 ppm or higher conditions become ripe for algae growth.

Consistent tank checks and partial water changes are the keys to maintaining an aquarium with thriving fish. For more help with water tests and water testing kits, stop by your nearest Pet Supermarket.

How to Net and Catch Your Aquarium Fish

How to Net and Catch Your Aquarium Fish

Catching fish in an aquarium may seem like an easy task, but even the most sedate fish can swim like bolts of lightning when avoiding a net. Doing this in a tank with plants and accessories could also leave you with damaged plants and spooked fish.

There are a few techniques and tools that will help you catch fish without disturbing your aquarium.

Catching fish with two nets
The easiest approach is to use two fish nets, using one to herd fish into the other. Choose two nets based on the size of your fish and your tank. You could also use one small fish net to herd fish into a larger fish net. Keep in mind that nets with coarse netting move faster in water, but nets of fine mesh are less likely to snag fins.

Using food as bait
Have your net ready while you lure your fish to the surface with food. If you use flake food, wet the flakes and stick them against the glass in a corner near the surface. When your fish are busy eating, use your net to scoop them up from underneath. Do this a few times to get all of your fish.

Lowering the water level
Another method is to lower the water level in the tank to give your fish less room to escape the net. You may need to remove some plants and accessories in this case.

Using a fish trap
A fish trap, isolation tank or breeding unit is also a good tool for capturing fish without causing them stress.

Catching fish shouldn’t be stressful for you or your fish. Have patience as you try different techniques and find the one that works best for you.

Bettas for Beginners

Bettas for Beginners

The beautiful betta introduced many to the joys of owning fish. Because of their ability to survive in low-oxygen water conditions, bettas are hardy fish that can thrive in conditions that would kill other fish. This makes them a good fish for beginners. If you’re a beginner or thinking about buying a fish tank, consider why bettas are a great choice…

  • There are 65 species of betta. The most common is the B. splendens, also known as the Siamese fighting fish.
  • They are tropical fish found in the waters of Southeast Asia, including rice paddies and slow-moving streams.
  • With the proper care, bettas can live up to five years or more.
  • Bettas are meat eaters and need a high-protein diet. Since they have small appetites, feeding once a day is enough.
  • Although bettas can coexist with other fish, male bettas or Siamese fighting fish are very territorial and may react negatively to other fish.
  • Bettas are calm water fish and should be kept in a tank with a filter that won’t produce too much current, making it harder for them to swim.
  • You may have seen a betta vase-a vase in which a betta lives under and among the roots of a plant in water. These vases have become popular and may seem attractive, but they’re not the best environment for any type of fish.

Feed Your Child’s Interest in Aquariums

How to Feed Your Child's Interest in Aquariums

Is your child interested in fish or aquariums? Encourage his or her curiosity with fish-related activities both online and off…

  • Create a crafty fish aquarium
    Toddlers or young children who like crafts will enjoy making a paper-plate aquarium, a berry box aquarium or papier mache fish.
  • Read about fish
    Reading books and stories about fish will help kids learn more about these aquatic animals. See the top fish books for kids ranging from 2 to 12.
  • Play pretend fish owner online
    Learn how to feed guppies and play Fish Tycoon with these free online games. The Monterey Bay Aquarium also has an activities page with coloring pages and games.
  • Play Pocket Fish
    If you have an iPhone, let your child play Pocket Fish, a free game where you collect fish and sea animals.
  • Watch virtual fish aquariums
    See video clips of fish aquariums online. Watch an aquarium of fish on with natural sound and see other videos accompanied by music, including a variety of aquarium fish, a 10-gallon tank with goldfish, and a larger tank with tiger barbs and tetras.
  • See live aquariums
    Don’t forget to visit the live fish at your local Pet Supermarket. Our associates will be happy to identify different species and speak to your child about fish.
  • Buy a small aquarium
    Small aquariums and aquarium kits are sized for desktops and small rooms. A small tank of fish will offer enduring entertainment and can add a soothing backdrop to any room. Just remember that the smaller the aquarium, the more maintenance is needed for good water quality.

Why You Should Go Big with Your First Fish Tank

Why You Should Go Big with Your First Fish Tank
When beginning a hobby, it’s usually best to start small: planting a few plants before growing a garden, for example, or running a few miles before trying a marathon. But in the world of fish tanks and aquaria, it’s best to start big.

For beginners, bigger fish tanks are better. By big, we mean tanks of at least 20-gallons, which are larger than the 10-gallon tanks usually chosen by first timers. Here’s why…

  • Small tanks are prone to quick changes of temperature and pH. Having a stable ecosystem is vital, but is harder to maintain in a smaller tank.
  • With a smaller tank, you’ll have a smaller margin for error. It’s easier to overstock or overfeed, which leads to more waste and more problems with water quality.
  • Certain types of fish, like goldfish, generate more waste, which could also affect water quality.
  • You will have to change water more frequently with a smaller aquarium.
  • Fish grow. What might have seemed a manageable number at first, could lead to an overstocked aquarium later.

A small aquarium may seem easier to manage, but may actually handicap you when it comes time to correct any problems. If you’re a beginning aquarist, play it safe. Get a larger fish tank for healthier fish and easier maintenance.

Need help? Speak to a Pet Supermarket associate for help choosing an aquarium.

My Aquarium Water is Cloudy. Now What?


At Pet Supermarket, we hear that question in stores all the time. It’s especially common in the beginning of the year, when new fish tank owners come in for help with tanks they got for Christmas. What follows is the advice we provide on how to deal with cloudy aquarium water, often called “new tank syndrome.”

How does aquarium water get cloudy?
There are a few things that can cause cloudy water, but the most likely culprit is bacteria. Keep in mind that fish tanks have good bacteria and bad bacteria. After the first setup, your fish tank will go through the Nitrogen Cycle. This is an important step that allows it to build up helpful bacteria in the water and the filter media.

The cloudiness occurs because your tank water doesn’t yet have enough helpful bacteria to clear wastes from the water. That cloudiness will clear away as the water quality improves, but it can take from 2 weeks to 2 months for this to happen.

How you can prevent cloudy water
Learn how to test your tank water and understand the nitrogen process, which is also called the break-in cycle, nitrification process or cycling. To speed up the cycling of your tank, use a product that boosts beneficial bacteria, such as Stability, Tetra Aqua Safe, Cycle or Stresszyme. Add these products daily or weekly, depending on your tank, to help balance bacteria for future maintenance as well.

Other common mistakes that can lead to cloudy water
A few other mistakes can also lead to cloudy water in new tanks. The most common are over feeding fish, excessive water changes and over populating the aquarium. To avoid these mistakes, feed your fish the amount they can eat in 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t keep too many fish either or your filter media won’t be able to keep up with water filtration. Lastly, limit partial water changes to 25% to 30% a month so your tank has a chance to build up good bacteria.

Learning the ins and outs of water cycling is the first step to becoming an experienced fish owner. Let us help you get started with advice and water conditioning products.

Don’t Tank Your Fish Tank with These Common Mistakes


Too many fish, too much food and not enough tank. If you’ve owned fish for a few years, some of these blunders may sound familiar. You may have even committed a few yourself. But whether you’re an old hand or a new fish owner, it wouldn’t hurt to read this list to make sure these mistakes don’t happen in the future.

Adding fish too quickly
In your excitement to set up your tank, you may want to fill it with water, fish and plants right away, but that would be a quick way to lose fish. After treating the water to neutralize harmful additives like chlorine and chloramines and regulating the temperature, add just a few hardy fish to begin the biological cycle process. Testing for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels will help you determine when it is safe to add to your aquarium population.

Starting with a small tank
This isn’t always a bad thing… if you’re an experienced fish owner. But even hobbyists find it hard to regulate water chemistry and temperature in a small tank. The smaller the tank, the less room you have for mistakes. For this reason, a 20-gallon tank is a good starting point.

Overfeeding fish
Many new or casual fish owners are guilty of this. It may not seem like a big deal, but uneaten food could raise the level of ammonia in your tank water. Instead, feed your fish an amount they can eat within 2 or 3 minutes.

Adding too many fish
Setting up an aquarium takes patience. If your tank just went through cycling, give it some time to build up good bacteria and add fish slowly.

Buying incompatible fish
Bettas are pretty fish. They’re not compatible with Cichlids, however, and you don’t want to find that out after you buy them. Do a little research before you buy another species or ask a store associate for advice.

Not keeping up on tank maintenance
To maintain a healthy aquarium, we recommend frequent partial water changes of 25%-30% a month. Use a gravel vac to remove waste from the gravel and make sure to check the temperature and treat the water you are replacing for removal of harmful additives.

Don’t skip this step as weekly and monthly maintenance will ensure the beauty of your aquarium. Test water consistently and review your tank for signs of algae, diseased fish or malfunctioning equipment.

Owning an aquarium may take a little more work and research, but creating this small ecosystem can be both visually and mentally satisfying.

Make sure you’re prepared with aquarium supplies from Pet Supermarket.

How to Care for Fish While You’re on Vacation


Going away for the holidays? Thankfully, there are products available to help care for your fish while you’re away. They won’t replace a pet sitter, but they could keep your fish fed and warm while you’re traveling.

Overall, it’s best to have a friend or neighbor drop by to check your tank. But even with a pet sitter, follow these tips to prepare for your fish for your absence.

Food

Fish can survive a few weeks without food, but you don’t have to put them on a diet while you’re away. Consider using a food block or automatic fish feeder instead.

A food block (also called a vacation feeder) is a block of Plaster of Paris mixed with fish food. Place it in your tank and the plaster will slowly dissolve, exposing bits of food for your fish. An automatic fish feeder on the other hand, is powered by a battery and will dispense food at timed intervals. You can program it to feed your fish daily and can adjust it to prevent overfeeding as well.

When a caretaker or pet sitter is involved, a major concern is overfeeding, which can erode water quality in your tank. One way to prevent this is to get a pill container with compartments for each day of the week. Fill each compartment with the amount you would normally feed your fish and ask your pet sitter to only feed that amount each day.

Lighting

Is your aquarium lighting on an automatic timer? If not, you may want to buy one for your trip. For plants or saltwater corals, it’s a good idea to use one full time to make sure they get adequate light. If you don’t have a timer, it’s safer to keep your lights off while you’re away. Just make sure your home will keep warm in the winter or cool in the summer.

Water

Since you won’t be around to check water quality, you should prepare your tank with a partial water change. Do this a couple of days before you leave and put in a clean filter cartridge. This will give your fish a cleaner, healthier environment and will allow you to top off the water level. Don’t have time? Then at least top off the water before you leave. While you’re away, your pet sitter can check the water temperature and call you if it rises above a certain level.

Going away for more than a week? Ask someone to check your tank at least once. They should look for leaks, check the water temperature and water level, and look over your fish. Even if they don’t know how to care for an aquarium, they can call you if they see something unusual.

Get ready to enjoy a stress-free trip. First prepare your tank with fish feeders, lighting and filter media from Pet Supermarket.

Why You Need A Quarantine Tank


You brought home a beautiful new fish and you’re eager to add it to your aquarium community. How will you do it? It would be best to put him in a quarantine tank first. Not only will this prevent your new fish from getting thermal shock, it will also protect your aquarium from possible diseases or parasites.

Here are the top reasons for having a quarantine tank:

  1. Help new fish adjust to new water and food
  2. Protect your aquarium from parasites or infectious diseases introduced by new fish
  3. Use as a breeding and hatching area for fish
  4. Isolate and treat sick fish

Setup

The tank size depends on your needs, but a ten-gallon tank is sufficient for a quarantine tank. Set it up so that it’s easy to clean and disinfect. This will include using fluorescent lighting, a filter, a heater, and rocks and plastic plants that are low maintenance. Substrate is not necessary as you want to keep the tank easy to clean.

New fish should be quarantined for about two weeks before being introduced to the main tank. This should give you enough time to look for symptoms of potentially harmful organisms. Of course, you should acclimatize the fish in water that comes from the same source you use for the main tank. Use the same products you would use to condition the water in your main tank and adjust the temperature to match as much as possible.

Once you’ve introduced the new fish into your aquarium, you can clean, disinfect and store the quarantine tank for later use. Clean and rinse the tank with water or use a mild, diluted bleach solution to disinfect it. Rinse well and allow it to dry completely to kill any suspected pathogens.

Follow these tips and you’ll have an easy-to-use quarantine tank that will help protect the beauty of your aquarium.

Talk to a Pet Supermarket store associate, who will help you find everything you need to set up your own quarantine tank.

Aquarium Maintenance 101: Water Changes


The water in your fish tank may look clean, but stir the gravel or substrate and you’ll see a surprising amount of debris. Just like your home needs a weekly house cleaning, your aquarium needs scheduled water changes.

The build up of food particles, fish feces and other detritus in a tank creates an unhealthy environment for your fish. Higher nitrate and phosphate levels can also stunt fish growth and promote algae. Replacing the tank water is the best way to avoid this kind of build up and keep your fish healthy.

Full or Partial Water Changes?

New enthusiasts may think they need to empty the tank for a good cleaning, but that’s too stressful for fish. Partial water changes are recommended instead. In fact, changing smaller portions of water more often provides the best results, especially if your tank is small and well stocked.

How much water?

A rough guideline is to replace ten to twenty-five percent of the tank’s water at one time. Keep in mind that topping off the tank with new water isn’t the same as changing it. You may be replacing water that evaporated, but the waste is still there.

How often?

Replace water every one or two weeks. For smaller tanks, weekly water changes are best. Bigger tanks or those with less fish and plants can last for two weeks, but you shouldn’t let it go for longer than that as the water quality will deteriorate.

Tips for Changing Water

  • Let the new water age before adding it to the tank. To do this naturally, let it sit for a day so gases dissipate. To do this chemically, use a treatment to instantly age and dechlorinate tap water.
  • Make sure the new water is the same temperature as your tank water (or within two degrees Fahrenheit) to lessen the stress on your fish.
  • Try to shoot for small shifts in your tank’s water chemistry with each change. If your pH shifts more than .2 units, replace less water next time.
  • Clean or vacuum the gravel to get rid of some of the detritus. If you do this, don’t clean the filter the same day as this would remove too much beneficial bacteria. Wait a few days to clean the filter.
  • Don’t forget to unplug the water heater, which can crack if the water level drops too low.

As you change water more often, you can tweak the amount and the frequency for the best results. With practice, you’ll become a pro at maintaining a clean, beautiful aquarium.

Ready to start? Get your aquarium maintenance tools from Pet Supermarket.

Don’t Let Algae Control Your Tank

Don't Let Algae Control Your Tank
All aquariums have some form of algae. It’s normal and can even be beneficial. But algae overgrowth can harm your fish and plants. Understand the conditions that cause algae to grow and you will keep a healthy tank that is crystal clear year round.

What causes algae to grow?

  • Leaving the aquarium in direct sunlight
  • Overfeeding the fish
  • Using water with high nutrients
  • Leaving lights on too long

Keep in mind the three basic necessities for algae growth: water, sunlight and nutrients. Too much of any of these items can cause algae overgrowth. How?

Reducing algae growth

  • Limit lighting – Avoid direct sunlight altogether and limit artificial lighting to about eight hours a day.
  • Check your water and change it regularly – Partial water changes will help control nitrates and phosphates and in turn, algae. Also, test your source of new water for nutrients and use filter medias as well.
  • Use live plants – One way to combat algae is to use live plants, which compete for the same nutrients that feed algae. If you include plants, use full-spectrum plant bulbs, which are good for about one year.
  • Keep algae-eating fish – The Siamese Flying Fox, Otocinclus or Plecostomus will help keep algae levels low.
  • Don’t overfeed – Overfeeding is common. One way to check is to watch your fish eat. If they don’t eat all of the food you give them in five minutes, you’re overfeeding. Remove uneaten food, which increase phosphate levels as well.

Using these tips will help you maintain healthy fish and an aquarium with little algae growth.

For filter media, aquarium supplies and more, visit your local Pet Supermarket or PetSupermarket.com.

How To Avoid Ammonia Poisoning in Aquarium Fish


Ammonia poisoning is generally caused by two common occurrences in aquarium chemistry. First, it’s the buildup of toxic ammonia and nitrite in the water. And second, it’s the displacement of oxygen in the water by the ammonia. This means that there is more ammonia in the water and less oxygen available for your fish and your biological filter.

Too much ammonia stresses the fish and poses a risk of organ failure and suffocation. The best way to prevent ammonia poisoning is to follow these simple steps: Preventing ammonia poisoning:

  • Test the water: To detect problems before they become serious, monitor the water for ammonia at least twice a month. Pet Supermarket carries a variety of home test kits and we will gladly test your aquarium’s water at no charge in the store.
  • Adding new fish: Always stock new tanks slowly. Add only a couple of fish initially and wait until the tank has completely cycled before adding more.
  • Feed in moderation: Feed fish small quantities of foods, and remove any food not consumed as soon as possible.
  • Change water regularly: Clean the tank every week and perform a partial water change at least every other week.

The best cure is always prevention. A clean tank and prompt removal of uneaten food are the best ways to maintain a healthy environment for your fish. At Pet Supermarket we have everything you’ll need to keep your aquarium in top shape. Come in today!

3 Steps to Avoiding Aquarium Fish Illness


Taking the proper safety steps is the key to keeping your tank free of pathogens and parasites. Below are some of the most important steps you can take to protect your aquarium fish:

  1. Water Chemistry: Test for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates and pH frequently. Water changes are necessary to insure that all of these factors are in check and kept at safe and proper levels for your aquarium’s population. Pet Supermarket carries a variety of at home test kits and we will gladly test your aquarium water at no charge in the store. We have a variety of products that help to maintain good water quality.
  2. Isolate New Fish: Any new fish should be placed in a “hospital” tank for a few days to watch for any infection. If something develops, you can treat the tank according to the medication package directions. Once the fish is deemed safe, it can be introduced to the main tank.
  3. Isolate Sick Fish: Any fish in the main tank that appears ill or injured should be isolated and treated immediately. By the time a fish is showing symptoms, it’s already very sick and treatment is the key to its survival.

In the end, the best cure is always prevention. A clean tank, prompt removal of uneaten food and the isolation of sick fish are some of the best ways to maintain a healthy environment for your fish. At Pet Supermarket we have everything you’ll need to keep your aquarium in top shape. Come in today!

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