3649 Fishinger Blvd. Hilliard, OH 43026
ALGAE IN THE POND
By Bill Wymard, Marine Biologist, www.aquariumadventurecolumbus.com
The number one question or challenge pond gardeners run into is algae. All types of algae grow in response to added nutrients and increasing length of daylight. Ponds go through excessive algae proliferation phases throughout the pond season. In the spring, algae blooms will be the primary form of algae. For the rest of the year, various types of algae will compete for control in the pond. This is a normal and natural process of the pond water reaching a balanced condition. Despite this, most pond gardeners want to get rid of it, and there are ways to safely inhibit excess growth of algae. Generally, there are two types: green, soupy water (algae blooms) and long, stringy hair grass (macro algae growing on rocks and sides of the pond).
As previously stated, pea soup-like water is often normal in the early stages of a pond’s season. There are a few ways of managing this unsightly phenomenon.
Natural Method: Using a natural process to control algae is a relatively easy, inexpensive and long-lasting solution. The main drawback is the time needed for this method to make an impact on the green water. Essentially, the process calls for the addition of plants to out-compete the algae for light and nutrients.
Oxygenating plants such as hornwort, foxtail and parrot’s feather grow very rapidly to use up nutrients. When they spread out, they also absorb much of the light coming into the pond. Oxygenators are so called because they photosynthesize very rapidly and release a large amount of oxygen into the pond, adding to the overall health, and preventing stagnation.
Floating plants such as water lettuce and water hyacinth will also perform the same benefits as oxygenators in that they grow very rapidly and block a great deal of the light coming into the pond. For effective results with this approach, roughly 2/3 of the pond should be covered with plants. Bear in mind that since they grow and spread very rapidly, only a few need to be purchased to establish a base in the pond.
Chemical Method: Another way of controlling algae is with chemical pond shades and algaecides. The shades are dyes or tints that are added to the water, and minimize the light being transmitted into the pond. Chemical algaecides work for a short period, but eventually the algae will return unless the chemicals are dosed on a regular basis. Additionally, algaecides can be harmful to various aquatic lives, especially invertebrates, like snails.
Mechanical Method: An alternative method of controlling green water is to use a piece of equipment called an Ultra Violet Sterilizer (UV). This device uses an ultraviolet bulb to create rays that sterilize and kill algae cells that are free floating in the water column that causes “green water”.
Keep in mind that while these units are extremely effective at controlling green water (results within a few days to a week); they will not have any effect on stringy macro algae.
Stringy Macro Algae
Methods involving competitive plants will also work well against the stringy type of algae. However, even using these methods, hair algae can still get a foothold. As with green water algae problems, chemical algaecides can be used, but they have their downsides. The chemical action and rapid killing of macro algae can rapidly deplete the oxygen levels in the pond and thus effect the fish, so care must be used. Physical removal will help, but this requires constant maintenance.
Our European counterparts have provided us with another way of algae control that is catching on in a big way in the U.S. Barley straw, when placed in a pond has the effect of inhibiting the growth of stringy hair algae. When it decomposes, peroxides and other chemicals are produced, and these attack the algae. Various products exist, from miniature bales of the straw to pellets and liquid extract of the straw. Whatever the source of barley straw that is used, they should be used early in the spring and late in the year, before closing the pond. This keeps a constant supply of the chemicals in the pond to keep working against algae all year long.
A proper pH level is an essential factor in the health of any saltwater aquarium. In fact, if the pH level falls out of range, the fish and invertebrate occupants of the tank can become challenged, slowing their growth and even compromising their immune system. Here are some pH-maintenance tips to ensure the vitality of a saltwater aquarium.
What Is pH?
The pH level is simply a measure of how acidic or alkaline (also called “basic”) the water is. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with a pH of 7.0 being the most neutral level. pH levels below 7.0 are acidic, while levels above 7.0 are alkaline. The ideal pH level for a saltwater tank depends upon the various fish species that are being kept. Most saltwater tanks require a pH level between 8.0 and 8.4 for optimum health.
What Causes Changes in pH Levels?
The pH level in a saltwater tank tends to drift downward over time, based on the alkalinity (KH) or buffering capacity of the water. Alkalinity (KH) in water is its ability to absorb acids. Acids build up over time in a “closed aquarium system” for several reasons. Animal waste and uneaten food decompose and produce organic acids, which makes the water more acidic. Also carbon dioxide from animal respiration (Water-H2O and Carbon Dioxide – CO2 form to produce Carbonic acid) which can make the water more acidic. KH or Alkalinity absorbs these acids so that pH in an aquarium is not compromised. If over a period of time, the alkalinity gets used up (by absobing acids), then the ph can fall and in a marine aquarium that requires an alkaline pH, this can be a problem. Testing for Alkalinity in the aquarium on a regular basis will let one know when the buffering capacity is going down so that action can be taken to bring it back up and prevent any drifting of pH. The best way to bring it back up————-a partial water change!
Balancing the pH of a Saltwater Aquarium
A regular tank maintenance program that removes waste products and replaces a portion of the tank water with new saltwater can help maintain the KH level and thus the pH level. If you need some help maintaining the pH level of your saltwater aquarium, Aquarium Adventure Columbus is here to help. We offer a full slate of aquarium maintenance services performed by our expert staff, and we also stock the maintenance equipment you need to test and treat your aquarium on your own. Visit our store in Hilliard, OH today!
Maintaining an outdoor pond complete with colorful, vibrant fish is a fulfilling pastime. To help your fish live a long time (up to 80 years!), follow this guideline.
Clean the Pond Regularly
Over time, garden ponds naturally accumulate debris, dirt, and litter or plastic that gets caught in the wind. Even natural debris such as leaves can become sludge and disrupt the natural balance of the pond. To prevent this, use a skimmer net regularly and remove sludge at the bottom of the pond with a pond vacuum. After vacuuming, replacing with new, fresh water is good for the fish; it helps them grow and build a strong immune system. Only change 25% of water at a time.
Biological filtration kept active and maintained is a must for colorful, vibrant, fast-growing fish and plants. Filter media, inside the filter, can over time get clogged (even look dirty, although it is not). Clean the filter media (squeeze and rinse) in the old pond water being taken out as you do the 25% water change from vacuuming (never use chlorinated tap water to clean the media as this will disrupt the good bacteria needed in the filter media).
Feeding the Fish—Aquatic Vegans!
Pond Goldfish (Koi, Shubunkins, Sarassa Comets) do not have stomachs, but instead have very long intestines. Foods that normally would get digested in the stomach (as in other fish) are not good; we want to feed a food that will be absorbed as it passes through the intestine. Digestion requires a particularly alkaline diet that is high in vegetable matter. Practice feeding at the same time and place and your fish will come to know and anticipate and be eagerly awaiting you!
At Aquarium Adventure Columbus, our staff cares about you and your pond, and we’re eager to share our knowledge. We can help you with all the right equipment and supplies and show how to use them to enhance your outdoor water feature ! Visit us at the store and spend time with our experts!
By Bill Wymard, Marine Biologist, www.aquariumadventurecolumbus.com
It’s been said that keeping an aquarium provides relaxation. There have been scientific studies done that show looking at an aquarium lowers blood pressure and calms the nerves but most importantly—-it’s fun!
It’s fun to watch the fish interact with each other in their environment. It’s fun to collect different kinds and colors of fish. Also, at the top of the fun list —- FEEDING THE FISH! Who hasn’t dug deep into their pockets for change to put in the “food dispensing machines” at the zoo and aquarium in order to feed the animals?
Feeding the fish is not only fun but very important in maintaining their regular care. In their natural environment, fish spend a majority of their time hunting for and grazing on food. In an aquarium we must help supplement that by providing the right types and amounts of food.
It is not as simple as just dropping in some food without some understanding of the parameters involved with keeping fish in an aquarium. The aquarium is an artificial environment we have set up to keep our fish. The filtration system we employ to run it, maintains their environment (the water quality). We don’t want to pollute their water environment and improper feeding could do just that.
Many kinds of foods are available as there are many types of fish feeding behaviors. There are fish that eat at the surface, fish that eat off the bottom, fish that off of plants, fish that eat off of tree trunks submerged in the water and fish that hunt and peck throughout their environment. The location of the fish’s mouth tells a lot about the type of feeder it is and where it finds its food. For example, fish that have mouths located towards the top of their body, generally feed at the surface of the water. Fish with mouths located on their underside feed off the bottom, for example, scavengers. Some fish are herbivores (eat plants and algae), some carnivores (eat other fish and animals) and some are omnivores (eat both).
Most aquariums are made up with many kinds of fish and so, many kinds of feeding types, which can become confusing and a challenge for fish keepers. Because today we have so many good aquarium fish food choices available, this can be an easy and fun challenge to overcome. There are foods made and designed to work for all fish feeding types and mixing them up and feeding a varied diet insures all fish get what they need.
Fish respond to their food —– this is what makes it fun. First, they usually attack it, reminiscent of a “shark feeding frenzy”. This occurs because they are being fed occasionally throughout the day rather than their natural instinct to graze all day long in their natural environment. Second, fish have the ability to lighten or darken their coloration to help camouflage themselves in their environment and to show emotion (attracting the opposite sex). When fish feed, they get excited and strongly intensify their color. This means the beautiful, bright colorful fish become even more so. It’s like turning on a neon light!
Because fish spend all day hunting for and grazing on food, it is best for their health and well-being to feed them in your aquarium several times a day. Here in lies the challenge, the several feedings a day have to be very small, so as not to cause a water quality problem from too much uneaten food. When food is put in, it should never reach the bottom (unless we are feeding bottom feeders), if it does then too much was put in at that time.
So, a little bit (pinch) goes in so all of the fish eat it before it reaches the bottom, then a little more can be put in so all of the fish eat it before it reaches the bottom and so on for about 3 minutes —- this routine can be done two or three times a day. For bottom feeding fish, 1 wafer or tablet (special “bottom” fish food) can be fed for every two or three bottom fish every other day. This is all much generalized and every aquarium will have its own special mix of fish and feeding regimes will need to be adjusted.
There are many kinds of foods – live, frozen, freeze-dried, prepared pellets, flakes and liquids. All of these can be used and varied amongst the different types of fish in your aquarium. Mix and match to keep your fish interested, stimulated and healthy.
GOING ON VACATION?
WHAT TO DO AOUT MY FISH
By Bill Wymard, Marine Biologist, www.aquariumadventurecolumbus.com
It’s that time of year, summer, warm weather, schools out and the family is packing up headed for vacation. Mail and newspapers are getting picked up by neighbors; the grass is cut and lights in the house are on timers for that “lived in” look. All that is left are the fish and the aquarium—what to do?
In most cases the fish in the aquarium will be just fine, especially a “well established” aquarium that has been up and running for a long time. The week before your trip perform a nice water exchange (about 30%) as this will help make the environment and water quality in the aquarium very stable keeping the fish happy. Check filter systems to insure they are in good working order (not clogged and running smoothly).
The next consideration is the aquarium lighting. If you do not have the aquarium light on a timer, now is the time to get one. This will enable you to control the amount of light the aquarium gets and also help control algae growth in the aquarium while you are away. The fish also need to get “sleep” time and darkness is important (they don’t have eyelids and can’t close their eyes to sleep) – constant bright light 24 hours a day is stressful for the fish.
Feeding the fish is always the biggest concern while being away on vacation. The best and easiest solution is to use a battery – operated automatic fish food feeder. Like the timer one uses for the light, these feeders are programmable to feed once or twice a day up to two weeks or more at a time. These feeders have a “hopper” that is filled with the type of food to be fed (i.e. flake, pellet or freeze dried) and dispense according to the feeders settings. If your trip away is only for a few days, not feeding the fish at all will be fine. Begin to feed the fish several times a day to “fatten them up just a bit”. Most fish can go for a time without food, as in nature there are those “lean times” where they conserve energy when food availability diminishes.
If at all possible, it’s always nice to have someone check on the aquarium while being away for an extended period. They can feed fish if you would like them too (I would suggest leaving “pre-measured” feeding amounts so the right amount of food is provided and not overdone). They can also check and keep an eye on the filter system and over all health and quality of the aquarium. A shutdown of the filtration system on a well established aquarium that is not over loaded with fish would be fine for a few days—after that you would want someone to get it up and running again so as not to endanger the fish.
At Aquarium Adventure, our aquarium service and maintenance department provides excellent follow through for customers on vacation or extended trips away from their aquarium—we will monitor the health, quality and feeding of the fish in the aquarium (we’ve even been known to take care of the lizards and feed and water the cat) insuring you are at ease and enjoying your time away.