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L.Srikumar Pai
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Tips and guidelines to maintain Aquariums

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An aquarium is a specially designed device that acts as an artificial habitat for water-dwelling animals. Although most people associate an aquarium with tropical fish, aquaria can also be used to house amphibians or large marine mammals. In addition, many aquaria contain a variety of plant species.

A home aquarium typically contains a water filtration system, a climate control device, and an artificial light. Most also have a hood available to reduce water evaporation and prevent debris from entering the tank. A home aquarium is typically made from glass panels joined with silicone, although acrylic and laminated glass aquaria are becoming increasingly popular since these materials are both durable and lightweight.

Home aquaria in a variety of styles can be purchased from any pet store. Prices will vary according to the size of the aquarium, the quality of materials used, and whether or not a stand is included. The store employees are typically trained to provide any assistance you need in selecting compatible fish for your aquarium. ( reference: WiseGeek )

Why is my aquarium water cloudy?
Your aquarium water may be cloudy for a number of reasons, to begin it depends on the colour of the water. If it is a green then most likely you have green water, an annoying type of algae that is hard to get rid of, i suggest you keep the tank out ofdirect sunlight, do water changes and maybe buy a UV filter.

If it is a cloudy white this can be due to a few reasons. The most likely is you have recently set up this tank, what you are seeing is a bacteria bloom that will soon pass (anywhere from 1 day to a couple of weeks). This bloom or mini cycle can also happen if you change a large amount <50% of the tanks water or if you wash the filter media DONT DO THIS. Overstocking and overfeeding can cause a light haze, maybe reduce both of these.

It could also be dust from a new ornament you have put in, you may need to do constant water changes to get rid of this. Substrates like Fluorite can make the tank cloudy for the first few weeks but will clear up later on.

How long should I leave my lights on?
For a planted tank 8-10 hours a day will be more than sufficient, be sure to keep the tank out of direct sunlight as this will only promote the growth of algae in the aquarium. Dont ever leave your lights on for 24hours a day, the fish and plants need there rest and without it they will be stressed and it will surely lead to death.

Do fish sleep?
Yes it has been proven that during the night fish do sleep, it is important to let them get there rest by giving them enough dark time to do this. Its no use having the tank lights off during the day and then on all night, this will not work. It is best to use lighting during day hours and then at night add some moonlights for added viewing time.

Will fish only grow relative to the tank size?
NO, this is a very big misconception that should be scrapped right out of the hat. Larger fish will soon need a larger aquarium to be healthy and happy. Restricting them to a smaller aquarium may stunt there growth and result in physical deformities. Be sure to give the right environment to the fish you look after.

Why are all of my fish starting to die?
This may be due to a number of reasons. If it is a new tank, the tank may be going through the stage of turning ammonia into nitrite, in most tanks this can and will reach toxic levels and may kill your fish, to stop this do small 10-15% water changes each day. Other reasons could be something contaminated put into the tank recently, a new rock or sculpture. Disease in some species of fish can be common; it is not unknown for a whole species of fish to suddenly die due to a break down in there immune system. Make sure the temperature is still high and you are feeding them a varied diet. Check your water levels, you will probably find spikes of ammonia or nitrite in the water. Sometimes it can be more simple, if you forget to put water conditioner when you do a water change you have the chance of letting in toxic chlorine and chloramines, if this may be it, use some now.

How long do I have to wait for my tank to cycle?
You have to wait until the nitrite spike has gone and nitrates are starting to rise, for a new aquarium this will be anywhere from 2-8 weeks, it is very wise to wait for this to end, because if you add more fish at this stage it will only put more pressure on the bacteria and most likely kill your fish.

How many fish can I keep in my tank?
A good guide for keeping fish in your tank is about 1 of fish per 1 gallon of water. For larger and messier fish it is recommended only 1 of fish for every 3 gallons of water. Just because your tank is 50 gallons capacity, does not mean it holds 50 gallons of water. After gravel, rocks, plants, decor it will be far less so take that into account. It is also wise to make sure you know how big the fish will grow that you are buying so you have an idea of how many fish to stock at this stage. It is no use stocking a 30 gallon tank with 25 of fish and then finding out that the fish will grow to 2 each, leaving you with 50 of fish....

Can I create a planted tank cheaply?
Yes, you do not have to follow the typical convention of high light, substrate, ferts and co2. Many people have low-tech setups with low lighting and minimal fertilizers. It is recommended that you only use low light plants such as java-ferns, Amazon swords, moss and anubais. Some stem plants will also do fine.

Does PMDD work? Have you used it?
Yes PMDD works wonders and better yet it is very cheap. Make sure not to use too much as you may overload the system with fertilizers leading to a storm of algae outbreak. Yes i have and still do use this recipe, it gives me the same results as i get from commercial fertilizers although like many others i was hesitant to make the switch. One thing to look out for is copper additives; if you use these in a shrimp tank you can have disastrous effects.

Why is there so much algae in my aquarium?
You may be experiencing algae problems due to a number of reasons: There may be an unbalance of nutrients in the water, you might have too much lighting and not enough co2 and fertilizers, the plants can only consume these three in an equal ratio so having an off balance on one will lead to algae feeding off the excess and thriving in your tank. Algae can also grow on slower growing plants like anubais and java fern, this is very common. If you have constant algae problems and are near direct sunlight try to reduce this during the day as it will be a major contributor to the amount of algae. If you feed too much or put in too much fertilizer it will once again cause the imbalance and a rise in algae.

( Courtesy: An excellent  reference site for aquarium related information)


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