Aquarium filter 101 | Types of filters

Any time you’re setting up a new aquarium, choosing the right filter is something you have to think about. Because your filter contains the beneficial bacteria that keep your aquarium ammonia free and safe, it’s actually one of the most important choices you make! 
With all the factors that you should keep in mind – aquarium size, what types of fish, heavily stocking or understocking – and the many different filter types and brands available, things can get slightly confusing. To hopefully clarify things a little, keep reading for a list of the most common filter types and their pros and cons!

Garnelenbecken: Station 3

Sponge filters are a great option for shrimp tanks. Garnelenbecken: Station 3 by grafzahl

Internal filter

Probably the most common filter type is the internal filter. These come in most aquarium kits or you can buy them separately at pretty much any pet- or aquarium store and online. Internal filters are usually pretty cheap, but the quality unfortunately varies and they do take up a lot of precious space in the aquarium. Some can make a pretty loud whirring noise 24/7, which really isn’t something you want when your aquarium is set up in your bedroom! Most internal filters also only contain sponge and miss the important biological filter media that contains most of the beneficial bacteria and helps keep your cycle stable.

That all being said, I personally regularly use internal filters, especially for my smaller aquarium setups. If you get one that is high quality, they are a nice and cheap option! Just be sure you buy the right type for your aquarium size. Cut off part of the sponge and replace it with biological filter media such as bio balls and you are all set! If you’d like, you can also hide the filter, as pictured to the right.
A popular internal filter is the Aqueon QuietFlow.

Canister filter

Though not very popular for nano aquarium setups, a canister filter is usually actually the best filter choice you can make. They can get a bit pricey and are sometimes a bit difficult to set up for beginners, but they have so many advantages. They don’t Continue reading

You might also like:

Betta food & feeding

Figuring out the right diet for your betta can be quite a challenge. There are many different foods available in pet- and aquarium stores and online, but unfortunately not all of them are high quality or even good for your betta! If you’re struggling with what, when or how to feed you’re definitely not the only one. Keep reading for more information on what to feed your betta, how to find a good quality food and everything else you need to know.

What to feed your betta

The most important thing you need to know about your betta if you’re looking to feed the best possible foods is that these fish are 100% carnivores. Their upturned mouth reveals what they like to eat in the wild: insects that have fallen into the water. They can’t survive on plant based foods and, contrary to what some pet stores will tell you, they do not eat plant roots. A proper betta diet always consists of protein based foods!

DSC_3660

Betta fish are naturally insect eaters. DSC_3660 by gomagoti on Flickr.

As with pretty much any fish species, variety is the key to a healthy diet. Most fish- and betta keepers choose to use a high quality pellet or flake food as a staple; more information on what makes a pellet or flake ‘high quality’ can be found below. Because feeding nothing but the staple food wouldn’t make for a very varied diet, it’s a good idea to also get some other types of food. There are plenty of options! I personally always have at least two types of frozen food (white/black mosquito larvae, bloodworms, brine shrimp) lying around. These foods make a great betta meal when thawed properly! You can also occasionally offer your betta freeze dried foods. Some fishkeepers choose to feed live foods that can be bought at aquarium stores, which is something bettas will enjoy but also sometimes brings the risk of introducing parasites into the aquarium. For safe (and fun!) live food options, you can try hatching your own brine shrimp eggs or wingless fruit flies.

High quality betta food

With all the pellets and flakes meant for bettas that all claim they are the best, it can be difficult to figure out which one to actually buy. Luckily, Continue reading

You might also like:

Floating aquarium plants!

Floating aquarium plants, often with long decorative roots, are popular in many types of aquarium setups. With good reason! There are many advantages to keeping floating plants in your planted aquarium; although they may not always be ideal combined with plants that need a lot of light, they are a great addition to almost every setup and quite easy to keep. Keep reading for more information about keeping floating plants, why they are great and which species make a good choice!

Why keep floating plants?

  • Amazon frogbit root system. Photo by Tumblr user apossibletwin!

    Amazon frogbit root system. Photo by Tumblr user apossibletwin!

    Hiding place – many popular fish species such as bettas, dwarf puffers, gourami and clown killifish occur naturally in darker waters and prefer a densely planted and shaded aquarium with plenty of hiding places. Floating plants provide shade and cover and the long roots help make your fish feel safe, which can help prevent stress. I like using floating plants in quarantine tanks for this exact reason! It’s not just adult fish that will make thankful use of floating plants; they are also a great place for tiny fry and dwarf shrimp to hide and forage. The most popular floating plant with long roots is Limnobium Laevigatum, also known as Amazon frogbit.

  • Easy to grow & low maintenance – many of us fishkeepers are plant enthousiasts but at the same time unfortunately lack the green thumb, time or money to set up a high-tech, high-maintenance aquascape with more difficult plant species. Easy plants that require no extra lighting, nutrients or Co2 such as Java fern, anubias and crypt species are Continue reading

You might also like:

Breeding aquarium snails

To most aquarists, purposely breeding snails sounds a bit silly. After all, they are considered an annoying pest by most of us! However, to this day, the dwarf puffer caresheet remains one of the most popular posts on Aquariadise. Freshwater and brackish puffer fish like dwarf puffers are a joy to keep, and their natural diet actually consists mostly of snails. While there are many other great food sources for a puffer, the hard snail shells are a good way to keep their constantly growing teeth short. And although dwarf puffers are the only species that don’t need snails for their teeth, there is nothing more fun than seeing them display their natural behavior by hunting a real, live snail.

Another popular aquarium inhabitant that feeds on snails is actually a snail itself; assassin snails are often used to control a snail plague. As many beginning (dwarf) puffer or assassin snail keeper will soon realize, though, snails are a bit harder to come by than you’d expect! One puffer can get rid of a snail plague in a matter of days (although this is not a good reason to buy them!), so Continue reading

You might also like:

Why betta bowls are bad

Even though awareness on betta fish care seems to be slowly spreading, both pet stores and the internet are still an enormous source of misinformation. Betta bowls, vases and ridiculously small “aquariums” are still sold on a large scale, which means many unfortunate bettas die a premature death due to bad housing. Don’t be fooled by their size – even though bettas are very small fish and often quite cheap, they still need to be kept in a heated, filtered aquarium to thrive.
Keep reading to see some of the most common betta myths smashed and find out just why a bowl, vase or very small tank is not enough to keep your betta healthy in.

_

While very pretty at first, a betta bowl will lead to a stressed, sick and eventually dead fish. _ by valerieyermal on Flickr.

Betta myths

Myth: Bettas in the wild live in small muddy puddles and even animal footprints. They like dirty water and small spaces.
False! While the water bettas live in sometimes seems muddy due to its darker color, it’s actually stained by plants and fallen leaves. They are not “used to” dirty water: a filter and water changes are necessary. Although the water is often quite shallow, the rice paddies and streams bettas naturally occur in are actually huge! Your betta will not “freak out” in a larger space. If it does, you should add more hiding places in the form of plants, rocks and decorations. Growing live plants can be intimidating, but luckily there are many beginner plants such as Java fern that help a betta feel safe.

Myth: Bettas can survive in vases eating plant roots.
False! Bettas are carnivorous surface feeders that mostly eat fallen insects. When kept in a vase with only plant roots to eat, a betta will starve. The plant roots may also block the surface, making it impossible for your betta to reach the surface to breathe! Breathing air is necessary for your betta to survive, so it should always be able to reach the surface.

Wheat grass about to get a haircut after two weeks.

Betta aquaponics systems are NOT self cleaning. They are not suitable betta housing. Wheat grass about to get a haircut after two weeks. by hackaday on Flickr.

Myth: An “aquaponics” system is a good way to keep a betta in a tiny container because the plants will remove wastes.
False! There is no excuse for keeping your betta in a very small unfiltered container. Proper aquaponics systems, where plants are grown on top of the aquarium using the wastes from the fish as fertilizer, can be a fun project. However, the tiny “aquaponics” tanks that seem to be all the rage because they claim to make water changes and cleaning unnecessary, are little more than Continue reading

You might also like:

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

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

You might also like:

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

You might also like: