Choosing an aquarium substrate!

There are many types of aquarium substrate to choose from nowadays; substrate choices range from neon colored gravel to all natural looking sand types. Because the substrate is an important place for beneficial bacteria to grow, using it is recommended in most cases. However, choosing the right substrate can be a bit of a challenge, because each type has a different effect on your aquarium and fish. Keep reading for a list of the most common aquarium substrate types and their pros and cons, which will hopefully help make the choice a bit easier!


Gravel is probably the most commonly used aquarium substrate. It’s available in many particle sizes and shapes and is often dyed in bright, artificial colors. There is a type of gravel for almost every setup – with a few exceptions.

Vacuum Cleaner

Gravel is not suitable for goldfish. Vacuum Cleaner by bensonkua on Flickr.

If you’re thinking of using gravel, consider your stock first! Be sure to check which substrate the fish you’re interested in will do best on. Some species, like Corydoras catfish, like to sift through the substrate to find their food. Gravel will make this quite difficult for them, and sharp gravel may even damage their delicate barbels and cause rot. Other aquarium fish, like Kuhli loaches, like to burrow into the substrate and have delicate bellies that may get damaged by sharp gravel. Using sand is not absolutely necessary for these species, but it will allow them to show their natural bevior. One species that should not be kept on gravel at all is the ever-popular goldfish; gravel can get stuck in their throat and you may end up having to take it out with a pair of tweezers, which obviously causes the fish a lot of stress.

Another point to keep in mind if you’re considering gravel, especially bigger sizes, is the fact that dirt particles and uneaten foods will be quite difficult to remove. They can build up and cause bad water quality when the gravel is disturbed after a longer time. If you do decide to go with gravel, especially with the fish species mentioned above, a smaller, polished type is probably your best bet! Natural colors will also be Continue reading

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Fishkeeping on a budget

Aquarium keeping is a notoriously expensive hobby. Contrary to what some beginners think, you don’t just need a fish tank to get started – you also need a filter, heater, substrate, fish food, water conditioner, a backup fund for medication and endless other small necessities. This can really drive up the costs, which is definitely not what you want if you’re someone with a smaller budget (or a student like me!). Luckily, though, there are a few things you can do to reduce the costs of getting started and keep the electricity bill down. The most effective tips are listed below!

Curso Aquascape

Some setups, like high-tech aquascapes, can get quite expensive! Curso Aquascape by dguarch on Flickr.

Buy used

The single most effective trick to keep the cost of setting up an aquarium down is to buy used. There are plenty of sites where you can buy everything you need for prices that are much lower than those at actual aquarium stores. The price of a used, good quality non-damaged aquarium is usually less than half of the store price; even when it’s as good as new. Filter, heater and extras like fish food, air stones and leftover medication are often included for a very low price or for free.
To make sure you’re not buying a damaged aquarium, Continue reading

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Feeding goldfish

Feeding (fancy) goldfish seems simple: you buy some fish flakes and you’re all set, right? As with many things in the aquarium world, it’s unfortunately a little more complicated. Traditional fish flakes, while marketed as such, are almost never suitable goldfish food. They usually contain fillers that barely have nutritional value and can actually be bad for your goldie’s health. So what is a proper diet for a goldfish? Keep reading for more info on what to feed them and what not to feed them.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to goldfish diet is that variety is key. Goldfish are omnivores; although their diet should be vegetable based they need protein to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Because they are known to start begging for food as soon as someone walks into the room, it’s also important to make sure not to overfeed them! It’s tempting to feed large amounts, but goldfish are designed to spend the day “grazing”, which means Continue reading

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How to hand feed your fish!

Teaching your (gold)fish to eat from your hand is not only possible; it’s also a fun experience and it can be very helpful for your fish to be used to your hands, for example when you need to examine possible injuries. It just takes some patience! Hand feeding is most popular among goldfish keepers, but there are other species that will also happily eat from your hand, like bettas.

Before you start attempting to hand feed your fish, make sure your hands are absolutely clean. There should be no traces of soap/cosmetic products. If you have unhealed cuts/lesions on your hands or fingers, stop hand feeding your fish or wear gloves! When dealing with more aggressive fish like bigger puffer species, consider feeding with plant tweezers instead of your fingers (just to be sure!).

Or try to eat your hand altogether! Photo by Goldfishdoctor.

You never know what could happen.
Photo by Goldfishdoctor.

To teach your fish to eat from your hand, patience is key. If the fish are already aware that you are the one that feeds them (for example, when they beg for food when you approach the tank), that’s one step in the right direction! They already associate you with a positive event. If this is not already the case, it’s a good idea to stay by the aquarium while the fish eat for a while.

To get the fish to also associate your hand with something positive, start off by feeding them and leaving your hand in the water while they eat. If they’re shy at first, just remove your hand after a while and try again later until they will happily feed with your hand near them. This way the fish will usually lose fear of your hands quite quickly! Once they do, you can start actually trying to hand feed them. Leave some food in your hands or between your fingers and be patient again while the fish adapt. The bravest fish will quickly realize they will be able to eat more if they eat from your hand, and do so happily. If you also want to be able to handle your fish, for example if you need to examine an illness, hand feeding is a great way to make them less scared of your hands. Just be sure not to touch your fish unless it’s absolutely necessary!

Note: You can now buy New Era goldfish food online here! My goldfish dealer recommended this food to me; he actually fed it to all his goldfish. It’s great to hand feed with because you can knead the pellets into bigger balls.

It’s as simple as that! If you keep hand feeding your fish regularly they will eventually get 100% used to your hands.

If you have any more questions about hand feeding or want to share a tip, leave a comment below! Happy fishkeeping!

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9 Peaceful community fish!

Setting up and stocking a tropical community aquarium can be a challenge. All fish have different temperaments, and combining the wrong ones can be quite disastrous! If you want to prevent fin nipping, chasing behavior and even fish deaths, it can be a great idea to go for a 100% peaceful community. Luckily, peaceful doesn’t mean boring – there are many suitable species for a peaceful community, many of which are also beautiful and interesting to keep. Keep reading for a list of peaceful community fish for all aquarium sizes and every water layer!


Twig catfish (Farlowella vittata) - If you’re interested in keeping plecos but want an even more calm, peaceful species, whiptail catfish are a great choice. These herbivorous catfish are easily outcompeted for food and should therefore be kept with only the most peaceful tankmates. They grow to a size of around 6 inches (15) cm, which makes them unsuitable for the smallest setups: 30 gallons (115 L) or more is preferable. Water quality should be pristine, as whiptail catfish are very sensitive!

Panda Corydoras (Corydoras panda) – Panda cories are one of the smaller Corydoras varieties and can be kept in aquariums of 15 gal (58 L) and up. Because Corydoras are bottom feeders, a longer (rectangular) aquarium with a sand substrate is preferred. Like other cories, they should be kept in groups of at least 5-6 fish to help them feel safe. When provided with this, they will be very interesting to keep and really cheer up an aquarium with their friendly, hyperactive behavior!
If you’re looking for an even smaller but just as peaceful Corydoras variety, check out the Pygmy Corydoras caresheet! Continue reading

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Caresheet: Red-chinned Panchax

If you’ve never kept killifish before but are still looking for an interesting group fish for a community- or species only aquarium, you’ve found it! These fish are a great place to start: they’re suitable for most communities and easy to breed, and their behavior towards their own species is very fun to watch.

Tank size 15 gal (55L)
Temperament Agressive to own species
Diet Carnivore
Temperature 68-80.6°F/20-27°C
pH 6-7

Epiplatys dageti, Epiplatys dageti monroviae, Red-chin(ned) Panchax, Daget’s Panchax. Monroviae variety has 6 vertical stripes instead of 5.

Natural habitat:
West Africa. They are mostly found along the coast in swamps and rivers. Their habitats are dark and overgrown; the water is usually very slow flowing and calm.

Red-chinned Panchax are a non-seasonal killifish that grow to a maximum size of around 4,5 cm (1,8 inch). They are similar in appearance to other killies, with an upturned mouth, light brown body and dark brown vertical stripes. Although they have less vibrant colors than their cousins, clown killies, they are beautiful fish that can really brighten up an aquarium. Males can be told apart from females by the iridescent colors on their fins (yellow and blue) and their bigger size. The most obvious difference, though, is the bright orange chin, which explains their common name!

red chinned panchaxRequirements:
Epiplatys dageti is not a difficult fish to keep and it can do well in some community setups. When they’re young they’re usually quite peaceful, although this changes when they age, so be sure not to combine them with very peaceful fish that need calm tankmates or very small fish! In smaller and medium sized setups it’s also a good idea to let the killies have the top water layer to themselves. Suitable tankmates would be larger tetra and corydoras species or dwarf cichlids.

Because Red-chinned Panchax should be kept in groups of at least around 6 fish, an aquarium of 15 gallons (55L) or more is a good idea. The surface should Continue reading

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The Shrimp Farm Marimo ball giveaway!

This giveaway has ended. Thanks so much for participating everyone!
Don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t miss any future giveaways.

Because the Aquariadise article on Marimo balls has been so popular ever since I posted it, I teamed up with the lovely people over at The Shrimp Farm to give away not one, but three of these moss balls!

So what is a Marimo ball? Marimo balls or moss balls are actually a type of algae that grows in a round shape. They are becoming increasingly popular in the aquarium hobby because they look adorable and can be kept in almost all types of aquarium setups. They also do very well in a vase or bowl with just tap water and some light, so if you don’t have an aquarium (yet) you can still participate in the giveaway.
And if you’re bad with aquarium plants, don’t worry – Marimo is super easy to keep and needs very little care!
For more information on Marimo balls, check out the Marimo caresheet!

marimo moss ball

Giveaway rules:
The Marimo balls will be given away to Aquariadise subscribers. To have a chance of winning, just enter your e-mail address in the box below! If you’re already an Aquariadise subscriber, you are automatically entered :)

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