How to Get Rid of "Brown Algae" (Diatoms) in Freshwater Aquaria

Brown algae can be a delicious meal or an unsightly oxygen hog, depending on the type of animal you choose to keep in your aquarium. When aquarium owners talk about "brown algae," they are actually talking about diatoms, microscopic brownish or greenish creatures with glassy skeletons. (When botanists talk about "brown algae," they are likely talking about distantly related large seaweeds.)

Understanding "Brown Algae" (Diatoms)

What do "brown algae" need to live? It's best to always remember that although diatoms can and will synthesize food using sunlight (or almost any light, for that matter), they don't need light the same way regular algae or plants need light. That is to say that the diatoms don't get energy exclusively from light itself.

Here are conditions that are beneficial to diatoms:

  • Light
  • Silicates (rocks or sand containing silica)
  • Nitrates (a waste product of aquarium life)
  • Still or stagnant water
  • Hard or mineral-rich water

The two main differences between true algae and diatoms are that regular algae do not consume silicates and that regular algae can be eradicated by eliminating either the light or the nitrates. The problem most people run into with diatoms is that no matter how long you leave the lights off, the diatoms persist. And if you were able to somehow eliminate most of the nitrates from the aquarium, the diatoms would consume silicates as well, or instead.

So the first step to getting rid of brown algae is to erase the word "algae" from your thinking about this stuff.

Step two is to make sure the tank has adequate filtration (the filter system is rated for the gallon capacity of the aquarium). The aquarist should keep in mind that many of the "hang on the back" style filters can expose the water to a very large amount of light, depending on the brand of filter and the ambient lighting in the room.

Step three is to realize that even though you may have adequate filtration, you need water movement as well to discourage diatoms. You can get water movement using products called "powerheads" or "current makers." These move the water around in the tank, accomplishing two things:

  • Diatoms aren't very strong, and they don't swim. A current maker will prevent them from anchoring anywhere, thus preventing their growth.
  • The added water movement will keep all the water in the tank filtered, instead of just a percentage.

For step four, you need to do some hands-on work with the tank. Very carefully remove all plants and ornaments from the tank, leaving only substrate (rocks or sand) and hardware (filters, heaters, and so on). Wipe the diatoms off the surfaces of the hardware and try to scrub it out of the rocks or sand to the best of your abilities. You could bleach all the plants and ornaments at this time, or you could scrub them with an abrasive sponge. Either way, get the diatoms off the plants and ornaments while they are NOT inside the tank.

Step five should be pretty obvious once you remove everything from the tank. Do a 30%-50% water change (after the hardware and substrate have been scrubbed). Then return all ornaments and plants to the aquarium.

Step six is the last step and the same as the last step on a shampoo bottle. REPEAT. Do this about every two weeks, and you'll see the diatoms bloom less each time (you should only have to do it two or three times).

If these steps don't work for your aquarium, it may be that:

  • your aquarium is exposed to too much light,
  • there's not enough water movement in the tank,
  • you keep scrubbing the diatoms off into the tank water, or
  • there are too many diatoms in the substrate.

"Brown Algae" in a Saltwater Tank

Cleaning a Freshwater Tank to Remove "Brown Algae"

Chad on March 23, 2020:

My 6.7 nano aquarium has been established for a year and four months. Not sure if this qualifies as "new", but I've had a myriad of problems with this small tank and when I resolve one issue, there's another soon after. This brown algae problem is the latest, just when things were fine. My water quality has always tested uniformly within the accepted parameters. I've followed all the recommended cures and still it persists. I've even added a Green Killing Machine, but it seems it has no effect on this type of organism. I'm doing extreme water changes to try and get rid of it, but within 10 days it's back. Guess it's time to tear down the tank and start over, or not. The constant maintenance and barrage of issues takes all the joy out of this hobby.

Carl on October 28, 2017:

I thought it was due to excess silica and phosphate in your water supply, I notice bigger out breaks after a water change, I am going to try phos guard to filter them out.

Lisa on March 07, 2017:

This doesn't even explain how to get rid of limu diatom

chris on February 27, 2017:

i thought it was algae so i bought a rubber nose pleco and its eating it up like it wasn't even there. is this enough for his diet. he is about 2 inches. i try to feed him algae wafers but he seems to ignore them and love the brown algae.

Rev. Leonidas on May 03, 2016:

Moss balls attract diatoms; rinse these daily with some of the aquarium water that is being removed daily.

Richard on March 13, 2016:

Can not say I agree with the original author. I have hard water and just cleared a new set up OF DIATOMS that has been going FIVE months. I found Ottos' and black mollies helped a lot but I found ( 4 ME) that less food and repeated spot treatment ( aggressively for 2 weeks daily) with Hydrogen peroxide did the trick. You have to turnoff filters and all water moment. Do not exceed 3 ml per gallon ever. Typically i a daily treatment on 555 I used maybe 30-40 ml tops and worked my way across the tank.

Anonymous Coward on February 26, 2016:

@Katie Goldfish are notorious for the mess they make. In order to keep a sightly tank populated with goldfish, you need an oversizeed water filtration system. Plus, you should regularly scrub the substrate (there are machines like sand vacuum cleaners for aquariums - essentially, a pump soaking up water from the bottom of the tank through a sieve fine enough to let only silt and dirt pass through but not sand, then filtering it through some finer filtering material than that in your tank filter - often some synthetic fibers that make a material like cotton wool but don't stick together when wet). With goldfish, you also need to heavily secure plants at the bottom of the aquarium - they dig out everything that's not fastened.

But they are gorgeous fish ...

Katie on December 21, 2014:

Very helpful...We have very alkaline, mineral rich water (brought in fish from the pond); I have not been able to get rid of this "stuff" but I have just been scraping it off and hoping the filter and a few snails would take care of it. So, does anything eat diatoms? The snails have eaten but I'd need about 50 good sized snails in a 30 gallon to make a dent, at the rate the two I have are going at it; of course, that is ridiculous! I have very mixed feelings about bringing these beautiful, fancy "gold fish" home...

Derek on October 30, 2014:

This is horrible information. If you are having a problem with brown algae, please seek other information. The techniques listed here will do very little to control or eliminate diatoms.

vic on April 21, 2014:

Rather odd but mine grows only on water heater that sits in front of return from canister filter

David on January 28, 2013:

That doesn't explain why they even grow on my air stone? Shouldn't there be enough water movement around a powerful enough air stone?

How to Get Rid of "Brown Algae" (Diatoms) in Freshwater Aquaria - pets

FAQs on Freshwater Algae Eaters

Watch out or I'll give you a hickey.

Fuzzy algae and algae-eaters 7/15/15
Hello crew,

I have a 25 liter tank, well maintained for a year and a half, with a filter that sprays the filtered water onto the top surface of the tank and aerates the water this way, forming a modest current in the process. NO2=0, NO3

7, GH=7-14 range. KH=6-10 range. The substrate is glass marbles and short plastic grass. In addition there are some plastic plants for decoration.
The temperature is maintained between 25.5 and 28 C.

My 7 critters include a male and female platy fish, two Otocinclus affinis catfish of unknown gender, one remaining "Amano" shrimp,(I started out with four), one Nerite (Clithon) snail (I started out with two) and one rabbit snail. Each of these has a job to do to keep the substrate, glass and plastic plants clean and they seem to go about it happily and efficiently. The
harmony among these creatures is palpable.
Over time the plastic plants have grown a fuzzy dark brownish-black covering of algae (or perhaps diatoms).

I've read your section on algae but I still am not sure what I'm looking at in my aquarium. I'm not too bothered by this
dark fuzzy stuff, although it is not aesthetic. I can control it myself by removing the plastic plants and letting them air dry for several days, then knocking off most of the dried up chips of the dark stuff. But, rather than do that,
I'd like to raise the kind of critters that would be happy to eat it, since it is so thick and perhaps nutritious to some lucky creature. I feed my critters flaked fish food and also Spirulina flakes, so that everyone gets the kind of food they need. I am careful not to overfeed them, and I change about 1/4 of the tank's water about once a week.

Can you tell me what kind of algae I have here and who would be happy to dine off of it?
I've attached a photo I hope is clear enough to be helpful.
Thank you,

Re: Different types of algae and who eats/needs them? (for miniature Otos) 8/26/13
Thank you, Neale, very helpful.
I like the little Otos and I'll get some. Have a nice week.

Planted Tank, fish sel. for pest control 11/9/11
Dear WWM,
Usually this would concern marine topics, however I do have a 20 gallon freshwater planted. My goal when I purchased it was to make a tank that would be almost self sufficient, obviously it needs water added on occasion due to evaporation and flow provided, my end product has a small heater, and filter, and standard light (also receives ample sunlight). Stocked with Micro Sword which is growing across that tank Amazon Sword that has more than doubled in size and number of leaves Argentine Swords which grow and are a nice back drop, Java Fern slow growing, and what I believe to be a Ludwigia peruensis that likes to loose leaves every time new ones grow in.
I also have two Apple Snails, Six Ghost shrimp that keep having babies whom I can never find. I would assume this is due to the free swimming larva encountering the filter. One common Pleco. I also have gnats that like to land and die in the water much to my dismay. Is there a fish I could get that would not have a high demand or be over-whelming to my tank that would eat the gnats and algae? The algae I already identified to be Green Spot Algae rather than a non-photosynthetic type. Thanks.

Huge Otocinclus. CAE
Non-Otocinclus Questions 11/20/09

Dear Crew- I am re-sending this as I was having computer issues and am not sure it was sent the first time. I am very eager to find out your thoughts on my issues (fish related ones, that is) that I thought I'd give it another try. Hope I don't appear too impatient.
You have helped me before with mollies and platy, and now I am eager to find out what you think may be going on with my Otos. Sadly, the mollies with which you helped me before are no longer with us. I currently maintain a 10 gal tank with 2 Otos, 3 Zebra Danio and 1 platy. I perform 20-30% water changes weekly, and my water tests are 0 ammonia and 0-5 nitrate/trite.
pH levels maintain at 7.5 I feed the fish Omega Flakes. The oto love their algae wafers and deal with the Nori.
My question about the oto is as follows:
1. He is HUGE compared to the other. Is this a normal size for an oto?
He measure nearly 4 inches from head to tail. He appears healthy, if not a bit pale since adopted. The other oto is the requisite 1.5 inches with a nice fat tummy.
2. The giant oto (picture attached) spends most of his time eating or digging in the same corner of the tank. As he is so big, rocks are flung around as he digs and he creates quite the commotion. I am concerned this is stress related, but would like your opinion.
3. How do I purposefully grow green algae to supplement my Otos? I love watching the Otos and understand they are not as easy to care for as advertised in the stores. I would like them to have the most nutritious food possible, and enjoy the idea of growing algae for them. After reading an article on the site, I am inclined to get driftwood for the tank.
However, with the voracious appetite of Bruce, do I need to do anything special to get the algae going?
Thank you for your time and help. I have learned so much already from your site, and hope to become more knowledgeable about my Otos.

Fish selection. (algae eaters, why you don't need a FW clean-up crew) 11/16/09
What type of algae eaters or "clean up crew" would you recommend for a 30 gallon freshwater tank with 10 zebra Danios and 1 rainbow shark? Along with the type, please recommend the quantity also. Thank you, and once again great site!

Re: Fish selection. (algae eaters, why you don't need a FW clean-up crew) -- 11/16/2009
Thank you for your excellent insight and expertise on the subject of algae eaters and "clean up crews."

I guess I kind of worded my question wrong seeing the answer I got from you.

To be clear I don't have an algae problem and wouldn't resort to fish if I did.

I just wanted to possibly add life to the different layers of the tank.

So, to restate my question what would be the best algae eater to add fun and exciting life to the various levels of my 30 gallon tank while not disturbing my rainbow shark or 10 zebra Danios?
in case something went wrong, you might even try a pair of Carinotetraodon irrubesco pufferfish. These work fine (in my experience) with fast-moving tankmates, but like all puffers, they're sensitive to poor water quality and can be nippy. Cheers, Neale.>

How to Get Rid of "Brown Algae" (Diatoms) in Freshwater Aquaria - pets

Good filtration is one determinant of health livestock success.

Constant floating debris FW filtr. 6/27/17
Hello Crew!

I'm delighted to stumble across WWM! I have no idea what took me so long to find you. Until now I have been at the mercy of well meaning teenagers at my local pet store.

My issue is constant floating debris in my 10 year(established) 46 gallon pie/bow front tank(short and deep). I have two large Blood parrots(both 4 years old) and a large Pleco(11 years).

I use an Eheim 2215 filter . The cascade of events began when my husband took a sudden interest in the fish and, unbeknownst to me, was(over) feeding them. Rotting peas and pellets every where. Sadly I did not
notice until my female parrot began to stress from the polluted water. I did a massive water change, went to clean the filter, it slipped from my wet hands and shattered on the floor. (ugh!) I immediately ordered a new
Eheim 2215(thank you Amazon)and set an air pump in tank to give my poor fish some support. New pump arrived, set it all up, great water pressure from out-put. My problem is that I have constant debris/poop/pea skins
floating about. It will float right past the filter intake. My water is really clear with the exception of the debris. I never experienced this before. but never had an air pump going either. I wrote Eheim and they suggested using a "clumping agent".

When I put my hand over intake there is suction but not powerful. Does this sound normal,

or does it sound like my new filter not functioning correctly? Should I just expect to clean up the junk with weekly water changes?

Thank you in advance for your advise!!
Lisa W.

query.. Concern re sufficient DO, FW 6/24/17
Hi guys happened to go through your website and found it to be very informative and dependable . I have this question related to better procedure of oxygenating water and I am really getting paranoid looking for a correct answer.

Of late I have realized that although I have been very regular in tank maintenance including water change , correct filtration , best food etc I still felt that my fish is just striving but not thriving in comparison to the fish I see with my friends who are very laid back on maintenance. I felt that their fish are more colorful and active then mine. Looking out for an answer I came across on many articles on water oxygenation and its importance. The studies showed that gas exchange happens on the surface of water.

Hence more the water agitation better.

so my first question is this . How much should it be ? For in my case I have a diy top filter like u see in these Chinese aquariums but instead of water coming out from one end , I have made holes so it comes out from the
entire filter like a spray bar .

but the flip side is that it doesn't agitate the water a lot. I won't say that surface is stagnant but it doesn't agitate it like a power filter with nozzle pointing upward should do . so do u think its still sufficient for oxygenation ?

My second question is that I came across many articles which claimed that surface aeration like the one I have is least effective method of oxygenation and bottom up method is the best like using air pump or power head. Kindly pls help me what should I do and which method is best
Thanking you Raj

re: Freshwater Stingray / Arowana & big tank filtration related question. 3/16/16
Dear Mr. Fenner,

thank you for your swift reply. I'm glad that you agree on the philosophy and that from your point of view the tank is sufficient for this fish setup.

I had thought of keeping Jardinei instead of Silver Arowana, but from experience of many keepers of this fish, it is quite evident, that it is a gamble to try to keep it with anything like an expensive FW ray, so I scratched that idea.

I'd have at least two sets one for in-place use, the other for processing. bleaching possibly, freshwater rinse, air-drying. >"
I see, what PPI would you suggest to use for these?

I've re-made the filter
design (8th now :D )
The initial filtration chamber what PPI would you use there?

It's meant for mechanical filtration, I chose 15 cm instead of 10, so it would not clog so fast, after this first chamber stops most of the dirt particles I put wool in second chamber right below the overflow, so the finer particles get caught there, wool would not be washed. just tossed when dirty. after that the second chamber could have a bit finer PPI (your suggestion?)

third chamber could use the same as the 2nd, fourth chamber would be sera Siporax or other quality ceramic rings for bio filtration, fifth chamber starts with foam, because the fifth chamber will have the least of water (pumps working) and there will be noise made upon water descending, that's why the foam is right below it. But the water has to flow fast here, so there will be 2 cm of free space so it can go over if needed. The green stuff is plastic tray meant to help with flow.
Net is all over the "open" areas that connect to the aquarium, in the water and out of it, in case a fish decides to jump it wont get into the filter, net would be hard (non-corroding metal) and it would be "glued" with
aquarium silicone.

Since I've never built an actual overflow filter, I have to ask, will this work as intended ?

The pumps will be adjustable. Each can go from 600 to 2000 L/H and can be controlled by a remote .. so I can figure out the exact best flow.

I expect to clean the first chamber once the flow stops going as fast as normally.. wool will be thrown out when needed. I think that at first (small fish) it wont need much cleaning.. but when they Aro/Ray grow to substantial size, it will require cleaning more often.

Goal is to make the chamber 1 and wool, the only things that need cleaning.
Other chambers should remain clean for months ideally.
Anything you would change here? Are the partitions in the filter correct?

All of this is a theory by my I must say average understanding of water flow.

Freshwater Filtration Review 6/15/15
Hello and a preemptive thank you for your timely and knowledgeable response. My current system is a 60 gallon freshwater setup. The inhabitants are a beloved electric blue jack Dempsey, African clawed frog, and five diamond tetras.

It is fully cycled and has been up and running for two years. The ammonia and nitrites are zero, hardness around 7, and nitrates are the primary concern running high, around 30ppm. I feed sparingly and gravel vacuum and do regular water changes, weekly about fifteen to twenty gallons, as well as filter maintenance.

The tank runs hot at about 81 degrees Fahrenheit, this is one of my questions. Currently I have four filters running on the tank. I have the AquaClear HOB, rated for up to 50 gallons, a MarineLand 200 BioWheel HOB, and two internal submersible filters. I use Purigen, and Chemi pure

in the HOB filters and biomedia only in the submersible filter units.
Could these submersible filters contribute to the higher temperature of the

It does have a regular heater to maintain the heat should the temperature fall at night but it almost never has to turn on. Might I be able to decrease the temperature and reduce the nitrates further by eliminating one or both of the submersible filters?

Would eliminating some of the filtration cause a secondary cycling of the tank and how might I avoid this?

Is there a better or more suitable alternative to the current filtration setup?

What filtration method is least contributory to nitrate production?

My fish thank you for your time and patience.

Filtration. 10/ 8 /14

I'm sorry this is the second email I've sent today - I completely forgot about the above when making my previous contact.

Quick question : are the internal filters which claim to be as good as external ones worth considering?

While my old Fluval 4 plus is more than adequate for flow rate, I'm not sure that the lack of compartments inside it will support anything other than light stocking (currently seven fish in a 55 gallon - all is good at
the moment).

Someone recommended the Eheim Biopower 240.

What would you suggest / recommend please?

Many thanks & another token donation made. Sorry it's not much.

Kind Regards,

Is my tank filtration alright/okay. And more randomness re heater 2/11/14
In my 50+ gallon. ( 36L, 20H 18W.) I have two large sponge filters They each are for tanks up to 80 gal.. To help keep the nitrites down I plan on adding a hang on power filter. Maybe using advanced carbon.

Livestock is
1 angelfish
A pair of Bolivian rams
A L204 or flash Pleco
2 surviving Corys I plan on giving back to my local fish store.
all fish are doing good and there have been no deaths sense the Corys were added- only Corys died.
Also my heater seems to be sending out a substance into the tank,

while setting up the tank back in September I dropped it and though it didn't appear broke I wonder., its almost always on

and though the fish seem okay do I need to get a new heater. The temp reads about 76-77F and its set for that, should i set it higher.

Re: Is my tank filtration alright/okay. 2/12/14

i have to wait until payday (Friday) to get the filter, while I'm there to see which power filters they have. The angel has gone on a hunger strike- why I'm testing the water- but otherwise looks good, i responded by feeding less and adding beneficial bacteria. The rams are eating well though and so are the catfish. ( corys/ Pleco) If it reads bad I plan on doing a water change extra early tomorrow or tonight.
On weekends I'm doing a volunteer job at my local Tropaquatics.

Filters, heaters/ and some things you should know. 7/1/13
First off Thank you for your help. I really enjoy your site and learning about fish. However some of your pages/articles on catfish and cichlids on the wet web media site (under freshwater livestock) are all crumbled together and its hard to look through them- do revisit and correct/fix it if possible. Its probably not so bad in the cichlids but in the catfish its awful.

Filtration /heating questions for 55 and 90 gallon. If I use sponge filters only will I be okay I rather like the sponges. Easy to clean, and don't hurt baby fish should i ever have fry in my community of the future.

Should I go power filters too or just sponge, canisters are hard for me to fix and maintain. (I have vision impairment and my staff know next to nothing about filter maintenance ).

Also Would 2 heaters be okay in a 55 or 90 gallon . What strength should they be/ brand you recommend .

Simple Advise/Ideas, FW sys./filtration 100 gal. commercial retrofit to hobbyist 11/8/12
Dear Crew
Recently my local FLS store is retiring/shutting down after 30 years. I purchased a 125 gallon Tidepool off of them for what some would call stealing it. My problem is not much of a problem verses a dilemma. I currently have a 40 gallon tropical freshwater tank set perfect with healthy Angles, Dwarfs, Swords, Tetras, Bristle Nose, Java Moss and etc on live plants. A 20 Gallon with 3 Cory's which I use to put fry and also treat the sick. Now that I have this gigantic tank I'm not sure what to do.
The pumps were extremely loud turned out to just be the vibration which a two lbs weight on the top fixed and I'm not sure if that's ok. I have many questions on this set up and what to do with it or sell it before I just throw fish in aquascape it or get rid of it because I don't know what to do. Also the price of maintaining a tank of this stature. So the main question is could you direct me to a thread or anything to further my knowledge before I do anything.
Thanks as Always

Re: Simple Advise/Ideas quieting FW filtration noise 11/10/12

Sorry I fat fingered my last email from my cell and didn't mean to send just "ok". I've decided to keep the tank and will probably keep the filtration system since I've been able to silence it. I have a spare Magnum 350 I used for my 40gal that I was able to fix (after I bought a new one on a Sunday filtration emergency) in case a main pump goes out on the Tidepool 2. Another factor is the bulk heads for the tank and filter, why get rid of a good system.

I'd like to build a tank of a life time for tropical fish so my next question before I start planting is. What do you think about sand instead of gravel,

which I've never used and what type store bought or from a lake etc.?

Air Stone + filter - enough? 10/14/12
Hi, I hope you are well. I have looked through previous posts and have tried to string some answers together - but perhaps you can help me a little further?

I have just upgraded my tank from a 35L to an 85L - My pump from the old tank was way over-spec for the old tank and so is more than capable for the new tank. The pump in an internal one. My tank currently has 3 aquatic frogs and 11 fish.
I have just realised my old airstone and pump are only supposed to be run for an up to 37 litre tank. I saw on the other posts that it is the movement not the air that aerates the water.

Given that my pump is set for 100L and the air stone is right at the bottom of the tank (disguised by some bogwood) Will my fish have enough?

Thank you for all your help. Ali

question regarding filters behind 3D background 6/17/12
Hi, First of all thanks for this great website. I'm a frequent reader of the dailies, and there's always some interesting stuff in it, no matter whether it be something for use now or in the future, or just some information to satisfy my general curiosity for anything which has to do with fishkeeping. Not the first time I write, unfortunately I move around for work which often results in selling set-ups, moving and being without a fish tank for a while, but if it looks like I'm to stay where I am for a couple of years, then I never can resist to get a new tank. I'm planning a set up for a single species colony of Tropheus (most likely Tropheus moorii Mpulungu). Tank will be 6ft*2ft*2ft, about 170 gallons. I plan to install a 3D background, and there will be a powerhead inside the tank to provide some water circulation. Regarding filtration, a sump with wet/dry is not really an option I consider at this point, so I basically have to choose one or more of following filtration systems: external canister (Eheim 2260), an overtop trickle filter (they are available here with stackable drip boxes, to be stacked as high as needed (basically a wet/dry on top of the tank), or a DIY filter behind the 3D background.

As to the canister filter and the trickle filter, I believe I understand the drawbacks and advantages of each system. My question is regarding the efficiency of a filter installed behind a 3D background. On the internet there are several (great looking) well-stocked cichlid tanks posted which claim to be solely filtered by a (mainly biological) filter behind a 3D background. They report good water parameters with a standard water change regimen, and very low maintenance on the built-in filter, usually mainly operating with filter sponges cut into small cubes, an intake on one side of the background and an output on the other side, with a single pump drawing water through the filter. I don't really doubt this kind of filter can break down ammonia and nitrites quite well, I just wonder, in this kind of set-up, with the sponges behind the background being almost never cleaned (maybe with exception of one coarse sponge placed first), would such filter, in theory, not cause a significant build up of nitrates due to decaying material in the filter sponges?

If such low-maintenance/low-cost filtration system would function that well, wouldn't it be applied more frequently?

So basically my question is whether such kind of filter is viable long term for a cichlid tank, whether it is really as low maintenance as is claimed, and if so, how nitrate build up is avoided.

Many thanks. Henk

700 Gallon Aquarium Filtration 1/30/12
I have plans to build a 700 gallon aquarium in my finished basement that I will keep some sort of freshwater fish. Possibly a large Cichlid or a Stingray tank. I want to put the filtration on the other end of the basement in my laundry room where cleaning is easiest and I can just open a valve and dump water into my sump pump at water change time. Where is my best resource for DIY filtration for this size of tank?

When I say DIY I am not looking to be done cheaply. I want this done right.
Thank you for any guidance.
Bob Fenner>

Should I add anything else? Filters, 55 gal., FW 12/3/11
Hello Esteemed WWM Crew!

I just got a 55 gallon tank to house my growing catfish and rainbow shark.
I plan to set this up next month, let it cycle through well and then add my little fish into it. Currently, I have 4 rather young Synodontis eupterus catfish (all just under 2" that were given to me due to some strange circumstances) and a 3" Rainbow Shark to go into this tank. I have a few questions.

1) This is a new breed for me so I'm learning as I go, but I'm wondering if you have any suggestions for fish I could add to the tank.

I would probably be looking at fish that like to remain near the top of the tank as the catfish and the shark stay rather low. I most certainly do not want to over crowd, so if these 5 max out the tank, that's fine too.

2) I'm currently working out how I want to filter this tank, I definitely want a power filter, but am thinking it would be good to have an under gravel filter as well. Any ideas?

3) My research shows that these fish all come from river systems, so I'm looking at some form of design like my attached concept picture.

Thank you!

Ozone for Freshwater? (RMF, second opinion?) 11/18/11
Hi Guys,
I have an established 75g freshwater system with an undergravel filter/powerheads & a Magnum 350 canister with UV. I also have an unused ozonizer left over from a marine set up. I couldn't find anything on the site regarding the use of ozone in a freshwater aquarium. What's your take on using it? Pros & cons?

92 gal corner tank filter question. 8/27/11
WetWebMedia is a terrific resource!

I have a planted 92 gal corner tank with a school of Devarios and Rosy barbs.

Currently I am filtering the tank with a Eheim 2028 canister filter rated at 277 gph. This gives only a 3x's/hour turnover rate. I also have a powerhead to increase circulation. After reading your site I understand that the turnover rate should be 4-6x's/hour. If I replace my filter with a large canister (like the Fluval FX5) which is rated at 606 gph with media, then the turnover rate would be about 6.5x's per hour. Would this be too much?

Would I be better off going with a second canister which would be rated at


Thank you,

Re: 92 gal corner tank filter question. 8/27/11

My tank was inspired by articles you have written on keeping subtropical tanks. Thank you Neale!

I love the activity and schooling behavior of the Devarios and Barbs, and my wife thinks the tank looks great can't get better than that. The tank is kept at room temperature and is unheated. It usually stays between 72-76 degrees Fahrenheit. Common species like Devarios and Barbs are just as interesting, and certainly as much fun to keep, as the more exotic ones.

I'm sure once the additional filtration is in place they will be much happier. Thank you for the filtration advice. It's good to know that I can go a bit above a 6x's/hour turnover rate. I'm sure once the media and head height is accounted for the filters produce much less that their advertised flow rates anyway.

Thanks for all your terrific advice.

Central Filtration System - Need Help Please! 7/31/11
Hello. I am new to your site but have been reading it over and over again looking for answers to my questions. I cannot find them,

and the linked files above>
so I am writing to you to see if you can be of any help. I am building a central filtration system sump for my fish tanks (livebearers). I want to have all my tanks filtered through a shared sump.

The sump will be set up where the incoming water will first flow through a UV sterilizer and then flow through a tub filled with live rock and then there will be a sponge filter on the return before the water is pumped back out. I will also have a heater in the sump to heat all the tanks water - not sure how big it needs to be.

I will have approximately 12
- 20 Gallon tanks and 14 - 10 Gallon tanks on 2 - 2-tier shelves. I plan to drill a hole at the bottom of each tank and stand a pvc pipe up through the hole of the bulkhead. I plan to drill holes at the top part of that pipe and put a sponge filter over the top to keep the fry from being sucked through. My question/worry is that I cannot figure out what size bulkheads to use and what size pump to use.

I'm worried because I do not know how fast the water will drain from the 26 tanks and I do not know how fast the pump will pump the water back into the tanks.

I purchased a Rio 20 HF pump that states it has a flow rate @ 1 foot head pressure 1290 GPH and flow rate @ 6 feet head pressure 870 GPH and the inlet is 1" pipe or 1-5/16" hose and the outlet is 3/4" NPT or 1" hose. I plan to have the water returned to the tanks with pvc pipes running along top the tanks with a pipe running down into the tank coming close to the bottom to help swirl the water around to help drain out some of the bottom water also.
I've also heard of using drip valves but didn't think they will provide enough flow to the system. So my main questions (I guess) are what size bulkheads should I use for draining?

What size tubes/pvc pipes should be used for the intake and the return of the water from the pump?

What size pump should be used - did I get the right one?

I was thinking 1 1/2 inch bulkheads for the drains and 1 inch tubing for the return. Am I way off? Am I missing something?

and the linked files above of interest, pertinence>
Any kind of help would be great. I know how I want this set up (I can picture it in my head) but I just don't know how to do it. Thanks so much!!

Re: Central Filtration System - Need Help Please! 7/31/11

Thank you so much for your help. I've read the articles sited - sorry I didn't find them before.

I'm starting to understand a little better now but after reading further, this question comes to mind - I apologize if this sounds like stupid question - let's say for instance the 2" bulkhead will flow to sump 1350 gph, but I have 26 tanks with the 2" bulkhead, does that mean each tank is going to flow 1350 gph into the sump, meaning I'll have (1350 x 26) 35,100 gph flowing to the sump.

I know that just doesn't sound right but I'm wondering about it.

What I've read so far is that using a bigger bulkhead is better. But do I have to use smaller bulkheads because I'll have 26 tanks all flowing to the sump at once? I guess that is what is confusing me - the multiple tanks all flowing into the sump together.
Although I've also learned now that when I add the sponge filter to the end of the pipe, it will drastically change the amount drained.
Thanks again for the help!!

new tank filter advice, FW, and stkg. notes 4/19/11
Greetings crew!

I'm planning on building a new FW tank this summer. I currently have a 29 gallon and will be upgrading to a 55 gallon. The new tank will be a (hopefully) peaceful soft water set-up with a ph 6.8-7.2. I plan on housing mostly neon tetra,

chocolate or samurai Gourami,

a pair of pearl Gourami,

pygmaeus and adolfoi Corydoras,

gardneri killifish,

and either Apistogramma borelli

or cacatuoides (or both if you feel they can coexist together).

The question I have is about filtration.

Currently I have a penguin 200 with BioWheel in my 29 gallon. I've read that 5x the gallons in GPH is a good ratio to go by.

My penguin is well over this but I notice that there is still quite a bit of debris and detritus during my weekly vacuums. I find it odd since its over the recommended GPH for a tank my size and the tank has good circulation. I can see the fish swim against the current and the current flows over there fins. While it's not extremely strong I feel it's good for the fish I keep, anything more would probably toss my gentile chocolate around too much.

Now I plan on using the same penguin filter for my 55 gallon. It is just slightly under the recommended GPH by itself, which will give my 55 a good start on it's beneficial bacteria. Now here's what I would really like advice on. I'm planning on adding a UGF as well. OK wait! before you cringe and head slap let me go into more detail.

I've read numerous threads and pages on there drawbacks and how everyone swears by them or favors power filters. One things I've noticed is it's always pretty one sided. But I can't seem to find hardly any feedback on using both, as is my goal.

The only things I've found is that a UGF will rob power and compete with the power filter and will actually be less effective.

I can understand this as it makes sense, but it will not apply in my situation. I plan on using the UGF reverse flow to work with the power filter and I can't find ANY information on such a set-up. I'm sure im not the only one to think of this.

I think this will help keep the crude from settling on the bottom as the reverse flow UGF will push it up and allow the power filter to fully do it's job, or will it not work this way?!

I'm not even really concerned with actually using it as a biological filter just to help keep the bottom clean. The set-up im planning on using will be overkill for housing beneficial bacteria anyway.

My tank will be built with a 3D background Siliconed securely in place.
The UGF will be sealed off underneath the foam background and the 3-4" behind the background to create a tank like divider. This will only allow UGF reverse flow to the visible area of the tank. The power filter inlet will be in front of the background which will filter out the debris brought up from the bottom by the reverse flow UGF. The power filter will then dump filtered water behind the background into a cavity with an overflow that has a sponge divider from top to bottom about 1-2" in width. There will be another such sponge divider right before the actual UGF reverse flow power head. The Area between these sponge dividers, which will be most the length of the tank, will be filled with cut up sponge strung on fishing line to act as tons of bioballs. This is why I stated earlier I will have beneficial bacteria housing overkill. Hopefully you can get a mental picture of what I'm trying to achieve. When I last did a tear down and ran the filter with no gravel and stirred up the water until completely cloudy I noticed my power filter does an excellent job filtering the water, it was clear in about 20 minutes.

But once stuff started settling on the bottom it failed to lift it off and filter it out. What I'm hoping for is that the reverse UGF will keep crude from settling on the bottom and keep it suspended until the power filter can trap it into its filter cartridge, which I can easily rinse off daily to keep my water super clean. Do you think such a filtration system will work the way I anticipate? If so, how effective do you think it will be biologically and mechanically?

Lastly the reverse flow power head I plan on using is a Penguin 660R. It's listed as 175 GPH. Now would you consider this on top of the GPH of my Penguin 200 for a total of 375 GPH? Or would it be figured differently since it's kind of a double filtration? Is this too much filtration for a 55 gallon, just right, or not enough?

I will await your response to start buying everything in case it's incompatible. Sorry for the long E-mail.

Planted tank filtration/co2 equilibrium? 4/14/2011
Hello WWM crew!

Hope you guys/gals are doing great and all is going well. As for myself, I'm in search of a new adventure, in aquaria of course, which brings me back to writing to you for a few quick answers if you could.

I am planning on setting up a 55 gal. moderately planted tank with no co2. I have tried a couple plants here and there with my fish tanks over the years and they never seems to work out, even the so stated low light, low maintenance, hardy plants. This time, after viewing through many Amano tanks, got my blood pumping once again

The setup will consist of: 55 gal. tank, T5HO 216 watts light (three 6500k bulbs and one 650nM bulb), approximately 3 inch layer of eco-complete, a Marineland Emperor 400 HOB filter, and a small in-tank powerhead with an attached sponge/ceramic noodle canister. So far so good?

My question is, from research, it seems that as though the HOB filter is a bad idea, due to surface agitation driving off the limited supply of co2 in the water.

Now reading at various info sources, this is true in the case of a co2 injected tank, but with a non injected tank, surface agitation is desirable?

Reason being is that the limited supply of co2 in the tank will be consumed rather quickly by the plants, and just like oxygen, co2 from the atmosphere will be infused into the water, though at low amounts, until an equilibrium is reached?

Is this true and should it be followed? Basically circulation and surface agitation desirable in a non co2 injected planted tank?

Or should I be looking for an external canister filter where I can put the return underneath the water line?

I doubt it will turn into an Amano creation, but we'll see where it leads me. Tank will be mostly plants with very little live stock, but I refuse to have a tank without a Pleco of some sort.. Love those catfishes and was thinking of an Ancistrus of some sort for this tank.

Thanks greatly for your time and effort. Hope everybody has a great year!


300 gal. FW filtr. 3/13/11
I am currently helping a family member build his house He was given a 300 gallon tank with filter system that hangs on back of the tank

This tank will support freshwater only, Now we have built the tank into the wall between the living room and Master Bedroom, and would like to know how to construct the filter system so as we can locate it into a totally different Room (Distance of approx say a total of 25 to 35 feet by the time it leaves the tank,),I am sure that guidelines on these things exist, volume of pump to use, diameters of water pipes, placement of booster pumps if needed, types of filter's etc. We have started on plumbing and currently are in the process of running water and Drainage but are lost at the moment on just what to do Any recommendation's on this subject in the way of suggestion's, Web sites, etc. would be greatly appreciated,
Thank You very much for your time
Ricky J Richard

DASys. cleaning used tank, glass. 1/14/11
I have just inherited an older Dutch aquarium system. (Photo's attached).

The guy who passed it on to me advised me to rigorously rinse out the wool cartridge, encased in wired mesh, in vinegar and cycle the tank for about a week.

Then the wool cartridge should be good to go.

The cartridge seems to be in good condition. I don't know if the cartridge has carbon infused in it. Overall the cartridge is white with a few speckles of black.

I wanted to buy a new cartridge but cannot find this particular one, anywhere.

Are you aware of any substitute I can use?

I see you are familiar with the Dutch aquarium system. Do you know if the cartridge has carbon infused in it. If it does not is it possible to add the carbon in some other way?

In addition, the filter in my new tank seems very strong. My 3 goldfish are struggling against the current. Is this dangerous?

How can I reduce the power of the filter?

That's all for now.


Re Mmm, DAS filter/s. 1/15/11

Sorry, I have now attached the reduced pictures.

A good thing you warned me before hand.

Anyway as you can see the filter hose hangs over the box and the actual filter sits below in the box.

And the wool cartridge sits in the adjoining box compartment.

Sulfur Reactor in FW (Bob, bit out of my zone here -- anything to add?) > 10/6/10
Hi There,

I have a 190 Litre cichlid tank which is about 12 months old. This is completely plant less and has had high levels of nitrate and has always had algae problems.

Until recently I used a sump as an algae trap which helped a lot but decided I would give a sulfur reactor a go.

I emptied the sump, filled it with crushed coral and bought a sulfur reactor and dosing pump. The pump takes water from the front of the sump, runs through and then comes out onto the coral.

My tank has been 0ppm amm, 0ppm NO2, 40-60ppm NO3 since matured and is still currently sat at these readings.

I have had the dosing pump putting water through as 1200ml per hour as this is the lowest I can get it to go, its a 12v motor running at 3v to slow it down.

The readings from the effluent are 0.5ppm NO2 and 20ppm NO3, it has been up and running for a week now with those readings since day 1.
pH seems to be fine and has been at 8.2 since adding the coral and running the reactor. I am wondering if I need to try and either slow down the flow further or if I should put a long piece of tubing in front of the reactor to try and create a coil and remove the O2 before it gets to the reactor?

If maybe I need to just leave it a bit longer to mature more before doing anything?

I have been looking over the internet to try and find help on existing topics but couldn't find anything conclusive. Thanks in advance for you help.

Sharing information, FW veg. filter input, poss. art.! 4/10/10
You've helped me many times by providing good answers very quickly so I thought I would share a couple things I've done with my aquariums.
I published the pictures I have on Picasa web to save space (your welcome to use them if you like).

The pictures of the plants are lucky Bamboo in a little plastic tub on the back of the tank. I cut a hole in the tub and made a drain using PVC, potted the plants in aquarium rocks and found a cheap little 20gph pump ($15) that pumps water to the tub through plastic airline. I clean it about every six months by pulling out the plants and cleaning all the algae out of the rocks and after two years these plants are still doing quite well. I've read that Lucky Bamboo, which isn't really Bamboo, likes nitrates but even if it that's not true it still looks pretty cool. Lucky
Bamboo, at least in my area, is usually expensive but I found a web site and got everything you see delivered to my door for $20.

The other pictures are of a common whole house filter ($20) mounted on a 2x6 with a couple bicycle hooks, PVC pipe and an adapter so I can attach and remove a 500gph pond pump ($40). I hang this over the tank, put a 20
micron pleated filter ($1) in it and stir up the tank and let it filter out the particles. If I have an algae bloom, rather than using chemicals I perform a 20-30% water change and put a carbon filter in the canister ($5) and it clears out the tank in about an hour.


Re: Sharing information 4/11/10
I will probably give it a shot.

One of the articles was about fresh water sand beds and I'm curious you guys think this is a good idea?

I'm trying to come up with a way to lower nitrates without water changes and before this sand bed idea I was thinking of creating my own canister filter using a low flow rate and Seachem Matrix.

I'd love to your thoughts on these and any other ideas for removing nitrates.


Re: Sharing information, FW filtr. art. poss. 4/12/10
Now I'm wondering if a DIY coil denitrator is a good way to go. The main problem is the amount of different information about them.

They seem pretty simple to make but I don't know if they need to be feed at all and is there a danger of it going bad and poisoning the tank.

I know I can keep doing water changes but it's fun trying to see if I can make a system that will complete the whole nitrogen cycle itself.

So outside of recommending water changes which (if any) system for removing nitrates do you think would be the best and the safest, deep sand bed, Denitrator or something else.

If you happen to recommend something and know of a good DIY link that would help a lot.
Thanks again for being out there to help us amateurs

Re: Sharing information 4/12/10
Thank you. I still expect to do water changes but a little less often.

I live outside the city water supply and am lucky to have a well with 0 nitrates and no other chemicals added. I think I will work on a coil denitrator and more plants.

Thank you again,

Filtration and substrate upgrade 11/29/09
Hi, Neale

I have 55 gallon tank on metal stand with 2 parrots hybrid (mated pair- 6 inch male and 3.5 inch female), 2 male (I think) Severums (7 inch each) and gibbiceps Pleco (11 inch). All fish live and grow together for almost 3 years.
My filtration is 2 hang on the back Aquaclear 50.

Soon, when my fish grow, I realize that my fish tank is very heavily stocked and my Aquaclear filters are doing nothing for mechanical filtration.

I do ridiculously big water changes (60-70% weekly), but my water is becoming slightly cloudy next day after water change.

My nitrite is always 0 and my nitrate, surprisingly, is never above 20 ppm (or at least I've never seen it is higher). But, sometimes, I can detect ammonia (0.25 ppm). This, probably, the reason for mild fin rot cases for my Severums (parrots and Pleco never were affected), which healed in few weeks, after I did big water changes and stopped feeding.

I decided to add third. filter (Eheim 2215) to improve mechanical filtration.

Do you think, adding Eheim canister filter, will improve my water quality and clarity? Will I still see bunch of fish waste floating around the tank?

In order to install this filter, I need to replace aquarium stand: instead of metal, I'll put wooden stand to have place to put Eheim filter. So I need to reset my aquarium completely.

This means, I have a good opportunity to change a substrate from gravel to sand.

I know, Neale, you are a big fan of the sand as a substrate, but do you really think it is worth to try for this kind of big and messy fish?

Why you are using mixture of sand and gravel in your tank?

Overall, in your opinion, is it possible to keep these fishes healthy in 55 gallon for life?

Thank you for your time.

Re: Filtration and substrate upgrade 11/29/09

Thank you very much for quick response.
I actually never used UGF before, and I did quick search and found that it is not recommended to use UGF with extensive diggers. I believe, parrots are a good example of the fish that like to dig. Is it safe to use UGF with


parts for, so even when something does go, like a rubber seal or a plastic tap, you can almost always replace it. Anything with "Made in China" stamped on it isn't likely to be quality engineering, but "Made in Germany" does tend to inspire a certain degree of confidence. It's a shame Eheim filters are so expensive in the US here in Europe they're moderately more expensive than the mid-range brands like Fluval, but not excessively so.>
My question is, should I replace it with another Emperor 400 or something else?

I've only ever used the whisper/ penguin/ emperor filters, so I don't know much about canisters even after reading through your FAQs.

Most of your advice says that filter choice is specific to the tank size, type, fish, etc. So, would cartridge filters be more appropriate, or should I keep doing what I've been doing?

I know this is a kinda silly question, but I have the forced opportunity to fix anything I'm doing wrong with filtration, so I thought I'd seek your advice. Thanks
- Mike

Too much filtration 8/8/09
Adding Big Filter to Clean Tank

I have a 180 gallon, planted, fresh water aquarium. The tank contains 17 full size Discus, some Plecos.
Otos and Cory cats. Equipment includes CO2 injection system, ProClear 300 wet/dry filter with prefilter, ocean clear 300 filter. Water temp 85/86 Ph 6.0 TDS 100.
I have a Fluval XL that I want to add to this configuration. My reason is to help improve my water clarity. There always seems to be some very fine suspended matter which prevents the tank from being crystal clear.
The xl would be filled with Eheim Substrat pro. This filter would pull water from the bottom and hopefully remove more suspended matter. Now here is my main concern. Is there such a condition as to much filtration and what would be the impact of the various biological colonies. If I eliminate all the waste what would these colonies feed on.
Any thoughts you might have to permanently improve the water clarity would be greatly appreciated. Henry Dylewsk Sparta NJ
PS Great site.

US Aquariums set up FW 5 gallon tank. (Over)StockingFiltrationReading 6/2/2009

I have an aquarium that a friend gave me, I've had something of a bad experience with it. It's a US Aquariums 5 gallon acrylic tank, it has a trickle filter in the back. I have a couple questions regarding it. After looking at your website, since I'm not going to be operating a marine tank at first, I've opted to switch the filter media. Will ceramic filter media work in the trickle filter? Do you think that's a good idea it has bio-balls in it now.

The other question is because I can't find any information from the manufacturer about this aquarium.

The way the air system operates is it pumps air into a tube that is submerged in the pre-filter area, the thing is that none of the air bubbles actually go outside of that tube, my guess is that they were thinking the oxygenated water would be siphoned out of the tube as the water flows underneath it but I'm not convinced the water even circulates underneath the submerged tube I think it stays on top and then runs into the trickle filter never actually going under the tube of oxygenated water to pull any oxygen into the tank.

Does anyone know anything about a US Aquariums tank and how this oxygen system should be set up?

I'm just trying to figure out because I have checked all of the water chemistry and it's been stabilizing with plants growing in it for about a month, but 11 of the 12 tetras I put into the tank have died.

I guess if needed I can provide a picture of the oxygen system but that will take me awhile to get. So I'm guessing that one of you will be familiar with this kind of tank, how do I make sure it's getting enough air?


Internal power filter question 4/21/09
Hello - thanks for you site - I'm new to this hobby and have learned a great deal from reading through posts.

I'm just starting up a 12 gallon Eclipse Marineland tank, which I plan to stock with fish and plants once it's cycled.

I went to Pacific Aquarium and Pet today (according the internets, the best LFS in NYC). The employee recommended an Aleas internal power filter (IPF 228) as a second filter. I haven't been able to find anything out about this filter online have you heard of it, and would you recommend it?

if a filter isn't working properly, it should be obvious quite soon, and you'll want to replace it.>
Many thanks,

Malfunctioning filter system 03/29/09
Hi! I am in desperate need of some help!

I just went to clean out my filter (rinse) of my 10 gallon tank and it is one that is sitting on the back of the tank, because I cannot afford to replace the filter cartridge thing at present and it just stopped working!
That is right! I do not know what to do?

I have had two gouramis that have lived now for three months and I have been so happy that they are doing well and now this?! I have rinsed it all out and cleaned it and don't know what else to do. and do I unplug it when it is not working so that it does not harm my three fish?

I have two gouramis one dwarf flame and one yellow/orange double the dwarf's size of course. I also have a sucker fish to aid in cleaning off the ornamentation.

Now they are left without a filter for a few days! Will they survive or can I get this working again on my own asap?

Thanks ever so much! TRICIA

Re: Malfunctioning filter system 03/29/09
Oh my goodness! Thanks so much!

I forgot that there was another part, the one you call the impeller to clean and since I have done it the filter is working yet it is very touchy it seems now for the set up. It has to be placed just so for it to continue to "propel".

But this will work until I can afford a new one! Thanks again! As for the "sucker", I am not sure of the real name of it since it was long and I just know it is one that sucks off the algae off the decorations and I think it started with the letter P. Pleb. I think.

Anyways, I hope that this is the fish that is ok in my tank.

Thanks again! CHEERS!

Freshwater Aquarium Filter Hoses 3/15/09
I have searched and searched and can't seem to find an answer to this question. My intake and output filter hoses have a white/gray growth on the inside of them. When I turn off my wet/dry filter pump and turn it
back on, hundreds of white filaments come out into my aquarium. I have a 54 gallon with a wet/dry filter, a UV sterilizer, a Magnum Micro Filter, and a Diatom Vortex Filter ( I know over-kill). Even with all that, this
stuff does not stop growing on the inside of all the hoses, except the Diatom hoses seem clean, for now. Any idea what this stuff is? It would be so difficult for me to take all these hoses off and clean them out, and
the heater, and the UV, plus the stuff might just grow back. I have placed stockings over the outlets so the stuff does not flow into the aquarium, but the stockings clog up instantly and stop the output flow of
water. Any help on this would be so greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Luanne

Re: Freshwater Aquarium Filter Hoses 3/15/09
Thank you so much. I am relieved that it is not harmful, that was my biggest concern. I thought it might have been an over abundance of the Saprolegnia fungus, which I have read is a friend and foe, and that it is
always in the water and can not be gotten rid of, however, can attach to injured or weak fish. That is why I was so adamant about keeping it out of the main tank, as well as being messy. Be well. Happy fish, happy me.

Particle Removal 3/14/09
Hello Crew, hope all is going well with you there. I have a question, please. I currently am using 2 emperor 400 power filters in my 75 gallon freshwater tank. I am using the Pura pad which is supposed to also act as a mechanical filter.

My water so far is clear, however I have very tiny particles floating around in the water. Do you know where these come from (dust in the air?)

and could you recommend a filter that could remove very tiny particles to polish the water and remove these floating specs?

Thank you,

Filter advice Filter Recommendations, FW 02/14/09 Hi again, While cleaning one of my Eheim 2250's I ended up with both of them leaking from the bottom hose barb fittings. Can you guys give me some recommendations for filters for a 200 gallon tank. Right now there is a single Fluval FX5 and a smaller Eheim on it. I am sure you all can imagine the frustration the large intake hoses leaking would cause a person especially when multiplied by 2. Thanks for all the advice. Ed

Internal Power Filters 2/11/09 Im considering an internal power filter for each of my 30 gallon tanks (one is a hexagon). My hex has 2 Kribs in it and the filter is a Penguin 200. The 30 long has 20 assorted platys, swords and mollies and its filtered by a Penguin 350. Id like the internal filters for secondary filters. Any suggestions? Audra Re: Internal Power Filters Thank you Neale. Since I'm new to using internal filters, I really do appreciate the breakdown of your information. Audra

Filtration issues 2/10/09 Hiya gang , first comment is as a newbie to fish keeping , 'what a fantastic website for info and helpful bumpf' . My question is, I have just started to keep fish again after 20 years with dogs and cats , I have a 22 gall FW tank , PH 7.6 . Nitrate nil, Nitrite nil, changing about 15% every 3-4 days . The tank came as a set with filter, heater/stat. and inbuilt light 18w . After reading about filter output , I think I calculated mine, for a medium stocked tank as . Filter output = 8.3 litre per min. = about 2.2 gall per min?. using 6 to 8 times the volume of the tank. Have I worked mine out to be about 132 gall per hour. Am I right in saying I am a little short on flow rate for this size tank with the mechanical foam filled filter, that came with the system . I live in Spain and not being a fluent speaker/reader of Spanish it can all get a bit confusing at my LFS.. regards Mitch ..xpat ..

Filtration for 90 gallon freshwater 2/7/09 Hi! How many gallons per hour in filtration do I need on a 90 gallon freshwater aquarium? I am currently using one Bio-wheel 350 and a strong air pump. Is this enough? I currently have 25 rainbow fish in the tank. Will the one bio=wheel be enough biological filtration or do I need to add another bio=wheel? I thought that two 350's might be too much water movement. Tanks a lot. Barbara

Filtering a 55 Gallon Hex, FW 11/17/2008 Hi, I inherited a 55-gallon hexagon fish tank about 6 months ago, and although I've learned way more about keeping fish than I thought possible, now I have some new questions. Most of them concern the filter. I currently have a H.O.T. Magnum filter that hangs on the back of my tank, which was recommended by a friend when I realized that the under gravel filter that the tank came with wasn't doing the best job. While reading up on keeping fish, I ran across something that said you should clean the filter with tap water. What is the best way to clean it? Usually once I month I take the filter off the tank, empty it out, replace the carbon, and wash off all the components inside (the impeller, etc.). Is there a different way I should be doing it? Also, I never installed the Bio-Wheel that it came with. I've read that they're great. Can I still put it on with the filter? Will the tank be adversely affected or have to cycle through again? The H.O.T. Magnum filter can be a little tricky for me to get back together correctly every time, and I'm thinking of getting a new filter that's easier. Is there one you would recommend? And if I do get a new filter, will I destroy all the beneficial bacteria in the tank? I don't want to kill any fish by doing something dumb. Finally, I always add the Stress Coat at the end of the water change. I add the tap water and then add the Stress Coat to the tank. Is that an ok way of doing it? I don't have a large enough container to add the Stress Coat to the water before putting it in the tank. So when I add the Stress Coat, I add enough for the entire tank (5 ML per 10 gallons of aquarium water, so I add a little less than 30 ML). Thanks so much for all your help! This has been a little more complicated than I thought! Melissa

FW filter options 10/23/08 Hello again Neale, Hope your day is going well. I know you told me that you had personally used the Marineland canister filter cseries and that it was a good product. Please tell me if you have had any experience with the Rena Filstar XP canister. After doing a lot of research and looking at reviews I have narrowed my choice down between these two. If you are familiar with the Rena please tell me which of the two are the best overall (effectiveness, easy to clean, durability). Thank you for all of your help and patience. James thank you.

FW Filtration in A Planted Tank 9/18/09
Hi, What a fantastic web based source of information on fish keeping.

Some really helpful people on here. I have read a fair bit but this is the first question.
On to my question I am planning a 800 litre heavily planted tank in the very near future. I would like to have a 55 gallon sump for all of my filtration and to put heaters and probes in.

I have 2x 2028 running on my 400 litre which would be enough just I would think to filter the new one but I don't want any pipes running up the back, hence the sump idea
I am concerned that I may have a problem with my CO 2 injection, IE gassing the CO 2 off by using the sump as my filtration.

Is there a way to avoid this by building the sump differently, maybe sealing it some how?

I am planning to have the tank drilled with 2 x 2" overflows in each corner and 1 x 2" return in the centre, I also intend to run a closed loop type system to provide more water movement around the tank, by having two 1"- 1 1/4 holes drilled one to feed a separate pump to the sump return pump and the other to feed a manifold that will be under the substrate and exit above the sand in certain places to provide some low level movement, does this sound OK for around 2000 GPH?

Thanks Guys , keep up the good work.

Lighting - the tank has 3 15,000k tubes that came with the tank. No problem I thought, I'll just buy lower Kelvin tubes and replace them, which I did (Arcadia Freshwater tubes, which I found by a miracle). Only to discover to my horror when I got the new tubes home that the light fittings are non-standard sizes! Instead of 2 30" tubes and a 24" tube which I thought the tank had, I now find it has a 2 x 29 1/2" tubes and 1 x 23 1/4"! Have you heard of this before? It's a few years since I was in the hobby but after asking people here in the Philippines, no-one seems to have heard of new sizes. Very weird. So my choices seem to be either to stick with the 15,000k tubes or replace the entire fittings and tubes. What do you think? I've been getting good growth on Crypts, Amazon Swords and a few others but stem plants become very leggy quickly. Bacopa seems to only grow slightly but at least it's not losing leaves. How about algae? Do you think it will be encouraged by my tubes at the expense of the plants? There's a bit of brown algae kicking off in a few parts of the tank. Filter - the tank came with a wet-dry trickle filter. I understand that in planted tanks it's better to avoid much surface disturbance so I've modified the water level in the filter so that the spray bar now delivers the water directly under water, but the return to the tank is still via a jet which sucks in quite a bit of air. Do you think this is likely to be a problem? If I add a CO2 system will it be a waste of money or is it still worth investing in? Many thanks in advance for all your help! Dylan

Can you have too big of a filter? 06/26/08 Hello, My question is in regards to the size of a filter vs. the size of the aquarium. I currently have a 55 gallon tank which is home to 3 silver tip sharks, 1 Bala shark, a red fin Pacu, and also a plecostomus, which are all getting to big for my little tank. I will be in the market for a new tank in the near future, but I was just wondering if I do purchase a bigger filter now can I run it on my 55 gallon tank with now problems.

Filtration for Deep Tank 5/24/08 Hi , thank you for your enjoyable and informative website . I am setting a large and deep tank (800litres) with an height of 90 cm sitting on a metre high stand. I intend to keep a few American cichlids but will probably under stock the tank. The tank was previously set up for salt water with predrilled inlet and outlet holes on the bottom of the tank. I was planning to filter it with a large canister filter and an internal power head for extra water movement and my question is : can I plug the inlet piping of the canister filter straight into the outlet (20mm pipe) at the bottom of the tank (thereby being able to collect middle to lower level water for filtering (since most filter inlet pipes come up a bit short), or would the water pressure be likely to blow the seal of the canister filter? Many thanks, Laurent Australia

Deep sand beds 5/5/08 Hell Crew, I have utilized DSB's for my marine aquariums and I was curious to know if the same principles would apply to freshwater aquariums. I want to set up a breeder tank for African Cichlids and if a deep sand bed would work for denitrification the breeding cycle would not be interrupted by overly frequent water changes. I am using an old 55 gallon tank that was previously used as a refugium on a reef tank. There are two compartments, one for adults with larger limestone and crushed coral substrate and the other compartment with a 5 inch sand bed for the fry. The filtration is a wet-dry filter with bio balls and a return pump alternating between the two compartments. If all goes well there is a 75 gallon tank next to the 55 gallon for the juveniles to put on some size. Please advise of any adjustments or critique you may have. All the research on DSB's was tapered to the marine aquariums. Thanks for your input. Wade >

Emperor 400 03/26/2008 Hello, I have an Eheim 2028 and an emperor 400 on 90 gallon cichlid setup. How can I maximize mechanical filtration from the emperor and biological from the Eheim?. I would rather not use the disposable filter, media-seems like a waste and don't need all of that charcoal. I did purchase bio forever super cartridge. Any suggestions how to run this efficiently? Thank you and I hope this question is not too confusing. Thanks. Phil.

Large Freshwater Filtration 03/10/08 Hello again everyone. Ok, I have finally made some decisions for the either 100-125 gal fancy goldfish tank I'll be setting up very soon. I know that I want something longer and not as deep (hence the size I've chosen) and thinking "long term", I plan on having about 5 fish and maybe 2 apple snails. The tank will be? in a new? living room with lots of natural light (but no direct hard light coming into the tank). Sand will be the substrate (looking into the best price for the Estes Marine Sand now) with a variety of silk plants. Not sure if I'll even have lights. though a member on another forum suggested underwater lights for night-time viewing which sounds pretty cool. My biggest concern with having a fully lighted system is having the temps get too warm for the goldfish. Anyway. on to filtration. Although I seriously considered a wet/dry? and/or sump for this tank. I had to think about the few "spills" we had with the 125 gal FOWLR tank in the? clubroom.? Sooooooo, with know-How flooring we recently installed in the new living room, I think we'll forget about that idea. So, I have decided to use 2 Eheim canister filters as I've read so many darn great things about them. The tank will have a custom stand and I'll have our friend make 2 cabinets on either side to house the filters. My question/problem is. which ones to I buy?? For someone who is fairly "new" at this, boy is it hard to determine what size(s) is needed to filter the heck out of a larger goldfish tank. Now I'm going to call myself a liar because I also saw the Eheim makes a wet/dry filter that looks pretty water tight but again. I'm used to a more "natural filtration on my marine system (40gal sump/refugium w/DSB, LR, Chaeto. and a nice protein skimmer). PLEASE HELP as I have read and read and read and can't find a suitable answer to fit my tank and I want to do this the right way from the beginning, rather than have to add on later. Thank? you again everyone for such a wonderful site and for all your hard work. Wish we could pay you for all your time. even if it was in fishy wafers. lol Lisa

Opinion on Chemical Media in Planted Aquarium 2/4/08 Hi - I wanted to get the expert's opinion on chemical media containing carbon with ion exchange media (such as Chemi-Pure and BioChemZorb) and the planted tank. My fear would be scavenging too many trace elements and hurting the growth of my plants. I've used Purigen with great success, but have heard various rave reviews of the Chemi-Pure, and - to a less extent - BioChemZorb. Thanks in advance for your feedback. Your site is, by far, the definitive online guide for fishkeeping. Very truly yours, Stu

Platy companions, filter maintenance 1/18/08 hi there, I've written to you before and got good advice, what I am wondering is, when I'm changing the filter sponges, which ones can I just rinse through and which ones do I have to replace completely? I have a Juwel Rekord 70. also which fish would be good tank companions with platy? I was going for Neons next, my tank is up and running about 7 weeks.

Filtration help. FW set up Qs, learning to read/use WWM 12/18/07 Hi there, first I just want to say how much I appreciate the staff there who run this site and answer questions so fast. you guys are great and have helped me so much with my learning process, keep it up! Now, I have an established 10 gallon tank and am wanting to setup my 30 gallon and 5 gallon tanks (haha Multiple tank syndrome!). The 10 g has a small AquaClear filter on it currently. Yesterday I added the large AquaClear filter and a small sponge filter to the 10g to try to get the media colonized with bacteria. My questions are: How long do I have to leave the new filters on the established tank for it to be colonized so that its good to go on the new tanks? I would like to get this on my new tank as fast as possible so I can put Bolivian rams in it. (long story I know they should be put in last, but where I live they never usually come here and they have been sitting in the store for 3 weeks and I wanted to get them before someone else snags them). Also there is much happening in my 10g right now, with all the bubbles and movement, 1 of my baby panda cories got sucked into the uptake tube last night (I was sooooooo sad/mad. I'm getting so attached to them!) and it died. I feel terrible that it must have died a slow and painful death. The other fish (3 baby pandas, 4 tetras, 2 harlequins) don't look too happy right now, I had to change around the decor a lot..I just put nylon to cover the large filters uptake tube but will this interfere with the colonization process? Is it possible to have TOO much oxygen or movement in a tank? Also the sponge filtration unit is meant to eventually go on a 5 gallon with a Betta, it seems quite noisy and bubbly.. will the Betta be ok with it? What I did was I tied 2 knots into the tubing to slow the rate of air coming out of the pump, will this wreck the pump due to backflow? Finally my last set of questions. I bought a bunch of driftwood to put into each tank.. about 1-2 pieces each.. I bought them to soften the water a bit since water is very hard here. I don't want to boil them because I want them to leach tannins, is this ok, can I just soak them? How long should I soak the pieces for? Is there such thing as too much driftwood? I don't know my water hardness but I know its very hard. How long will it take for the tannin levels to be established. what I mean is do I have to constantly monitor pH, or say after 1 month that pH that its at it will stay there? Sorry I hope it makes sense. I take out the carbon to have the tannins in the water, is this correct or do I leave the carbon in? thank you so much!

FW Fluidized bed filter question, Loricariid sel. - 12/13/07 Considering a fluidized bed filter as alternative to bio balls from sump on 120g planted freshwater tank (rainbows and Plecos). 2 questions - Is there any value to sizing up on filter. it is only $10 more to go from 300g to 600g to 900g. Ignoring size limitations on height, is there any reason to not get a bigger one - unnecessary overkill? second, re: Plecos, I plan on having the following. any Compatibility problems (I searched PlanetCatfish and can't really find the info): gold nugget, queen arabesque, royal, blue phantom, maybe a zebra. I also have a striped Raphael. Only one of each. Any issues? thanks Paul

Two questions. platy repro., filtration maint. 10/16/07 I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank at school with 2 platys (male and female) and one fry that is about 1 cm long now. I found the fry during a water change about 2 weeks ago and have him in one of those breeder nets in the tank. It has been so much fun seeing him grow from just a speck to where he is now. When should I put him in the main tank with the other two platys? Also, how do you know when to change the filter? My filter is one that hangs on the side. I've had the tank running for about two months now. Should I put a new filter in some old tank water so that the good bacteria can start getting on it? Thanks! Carolyn

Using a brand new filter on a seasoned tank 10/3/07 HI, I have a 75 gallon tank. I had a Eheim Filter that just decided to not run correctly no matter what we do new parts etc. I went and got a new Fluval filter last night. The place I bought the filter told me to keep both filters running for about two weeks to get the bacteria into the new filter before I stop running the old filter. The problem is the old filter is blowing air, lots of air. It will run ok for 1/2 hour or so and then a big burst of air comes out in to the tank and needles to say a lot of micro bubbles with it. It is stressing the fish out, they run for their lives (so to speak) when this happens. Last night I had both filters running but the fish started to stress out swimming fast and changing color etc. My question is, is it ok to just run the new filter alone, is there anything I should do to the filter, what is the correct thing to do. I have both filters off right now, also could the fish have stressed out do to the two filters running could this be to much filtration for a 75 gallon tank at one time. The fish were so stressed that I have both filters off right now and this calmed them down.

10 the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. It took the fish an hour or so to get used to the extra water movement when I installed the third filter, but they're fine now.> I will wait for your response until I do anything with the filter. Thanks in advance for your help. Deb

Filters and pH questions 9/26/07 Our tap water here in Oregon is very very soft (dH 2-3), but they use sodium hydroxide to raise the pH to 7.7 so as not to rust pipes. It quickly drops to 7.2 or so in the tank. Is this OK for cardinal tetras, Apistogramma, Loricariids? Soft water Amazon fish seem to be doing well. Also, I have a Rena Filstar filter. Has the standard 2 layers of foam, a bag of carbon (bio chem Zorb) and a layer of micro fleece pads. Was thinking of replacing either one of the layers of foam or the carbon with either some ceramic biomedia or keta peat nuggets. That's a lot of foam sponge, and maybe the carbon is not so necessary. The peat would lower that NaOH induced pH. What do you think?

Supplemental Filter - Freshwater 9/11/07 Hi there Neale, I've switched three of my tanks over to black sand substrate - I love it and it no longer poses a problem for the catfishes' barbels. However since the fishes' solid waste doesn't sink through the gravel anymore, it is in plain site and the canister filter's intake won't pull the waste into the filter. I'd very much like to install some in-tank supplemental filtering and simultaneously add some additional bio media and water flow to remove any dead spots. I've been looking at sponge filters however I've noted that these are used for tanks with no substrate (and especially for fry). There are also some small corner filters - both small enclosed plastic boxes run by an air pump (that I used when I was a kid!) and exposed cushion type that affixes to the tank glass. What would you recommend in this case please? I have one tank set up with a powerhead and quick filter however was looking for something a bit less obvious for the other (smaller) tanks if possible. Thank you very much!! Lisa

Auxiliary filtration, FW 06/27/07 Hi Crew! > I am upgrading from my 55 gallon FW tank to a 90 gallon. > I plan to use my Eheim 2026 (rated up to 92 gallons). Would an Emperor 400 be a good choice for supplemental filtration in the larger tank? > I plan to make it a planted discus tank. Thanks in advance for your reply. >

Under ground filtration with a canister filter - 06/27/07 Hey! I must say that I have found your website very helpful! I have a 125gal set up with an under gravel filter at the moment. It worked fine as long as my fish population was small, but I now want to increase my filtration. I want to go to a canister filter (Eheim pro 2 or 3). Should I draw the suction through my under gravel filter or should I remove the under gravel filter and just pull from the tank? Is one situation better than the other? Why? I also have a few (two or three) plantings in the tank and I have been told that the under gravel filter is detrimental to their growth. What is your opinion on this? They are mainly for snacking in between meals by the veggie eating fish, but I would like to grow a bit more if possible. Thanks for all your help. Ed

Used SeaClear Aquarium-poor choice? For FW. 6/5/07 Hi, I have researched these questions on your site and can't find the answers, so am writing to you. I am new to your website just discovered it yesterday, 2 days after buying a used (10-11 years) SeaClear Eclipse 2, Clarity Plus 75 g. tank. I had set my heart on a Tenecor it looked like the best quality, but then I saw this ad and it sounded really good, with a beautiful hand-made large cabinet and hood all for $400. I researched it for 3 or 4 days, but now after poring over your website for 2 days, it looks like it might have been a poor choice. Anyway, it's been set up for 2 days now and things are going well the fish are very happy, since they outgrew their old tank (35g.) I have only 6 fish in it 3 Pink Kissers (6-7 in.) , a Pleco (14") and 2 Clown Loaches, (3"). I've had aquariums for 40 years, but nothing over 35 gallons. The tank is beautiful, but now I find out the truth, that filters for a 48 x 18 x 24" tank are ridiculously pricey: $50 to $60! Where can I get cheaper prefilters, or can I make them? I live in a rural area with no LFS, but I have catalogs from That Fish Place and Drs. Foster & Smith, so is there something I can order from them to substitute? The rest of the filter is the bioballs and the pump, in other words, the original system. The previous owner was very happy with it for 10 years. What can I add to the filtration to make this a better tank? It looks great right now. Also, after it is established, I would like to add another Kisser, 2 more clown loaches and maybe a small school of tetras or rasboras. Will this work? I feel like a novice after looking at the expertise on your site. Thanks, Carol M.

How often should filter cartridges be cleaned/replaced 05/21/07 Dear Crew, I have what is likely a silly question about filtration, but I've been puzzling on it for a while and I can't seem to figure it out. I have a 10 gal tank with a Tetra Whisper Power filter, and my question is this: the manufacturer's instructions suggest changing the cartridges once per month, but if I throw out the cartridge, won't I be throwing out the beneficial bacteria that are growing on it? How long will it take the bacteria to re-establish themselves in the new cartridge , and will this be harmful to the stability of my tank? Should I just be rinsing the cartridges out and replacing the carbon instead of changing them every month? Thanks in advance for your help, my tank is going along so well and I just don't want to mess it up! Nicole.

Too much Filtration? FW 5/11/07 Dear Crew Members, Is there such a thing as too much filtration? I have a 55 gallon freshwater community tank. It has a wet/dry filter roughly 20 gallons I think and double BioWheel ( two BioWheel filters on either side of the intake). I also have a large protein skimmer. The tank is planted and will be home to mollies and other tropical fish under 4 inches of adult length. I don't have any fish right now. Is there anything that is redundant or unnecessary?

Freshwater Tank Filter 3/21/07 Hello, I just found your site today and am AMAZED at all the wonderful information. And I need some advice please. I just purchased a used 70 gal freshwater with an Ecosystem sump? Filter but also came with a Lifeguard filter set (4). When I get the aquarium up and running (needs A LOT of cleaning!), it will be planted and not sure just yet on what fish. But it will be awhile for them anyway. It came with a cherry barb, a clown Pleco, 2 other Pleco's, a rather large catfish, 2 Horseface loaches and a few other odds and ends. Right now they are in a QT tank. Not sure what I will do with them yet. Anyway, back to the filter system. Which one should I use? Are there pro's / con's to each type? and the various FAQ attached. In a nutshell, filters are a compromise between price, efficiency, and ease of use. Internal canister filters for example are easy to clean but are expensive in terms of how much water they clean per hour (the "turnover", which will be quoted on the packaging). External canister filters are bulky and a pain to service, but in terms of cost per unit of turnover, they are good value. Undergravels are cost effective but a pain to clean. And so on for all the different types of filter on sale. With Plecs and other large, messy fish you really want to be looking at some filter system that will turnover the water around 5-6 times per hour. So buy a filter with a turnover of no less than 350 gallons per hour and sufficient capacity to hold media for your 70 gallon tank (actually, with Plecs I'd step that up to a 100 gallon tank). An external canister filter is probably the way to go if you want this performance at a decent price.> I can't seem to find much information anywhere else. I'm new at this. Thanks, Teresa

Re: Freshwater Tank Filter 3/23/07 Thanks Neale. However, I wasn't planning on purchasing another filter. I would like to know which of the 2 that came with the aquarium would be best to use, the EcoSystem or the LifeGuard. Unless of course, the canister that you mentioned would be better. And thank you for the advice on filling it up in a "waterproof" area overnight. It was still up and running when we went to pick it up but we did bring in home on a 4 hour ride. So will definitely do that before setting it up! Teresa

Switching from Under Gravel Filters To Other Filtration Methods - 02/11/2007 Hi WWM Crew, > I hope you all are doing well today. A few years back y'all helped me plan for changing my saltwater tank from UGF filtration to LR/DSB and sump/refugium. I made the change in 2004 and Nitrates have been undetectable since then. > I have a small 30L Malawi Cichlid tank that has been running for 7 years. I've always used UGF and the same gravel. After reading about some of the problems that a poorly maintained ( i.e. lack of regular water changes and substrate vacuuming) UGF system may develop, I've decided to switch to a power filter. > My plan is to run the UGF and new Power filter together for a period of time, then remove the gravel, UGF plates and vacuum out the bottom of the tank. Rinse the grave in tank water and add several inches back into the tank. Of course the fish will be moved to a 30G Rubbermaid tub while I remove the filter. My first question is how long should I run the Power and UGF filter together before removing the UGF? The second is, how deep can I make the substrate? I know in marine systems, a SSB should be Thanks, Glenn >

SW setup to FW setup, free goodies, filtration misunderstandings - 1/20/07 Bob I hope this e-mail is still active (I found it doing a search on the net). I won't take up much of your time (but I was hoping you could offer a few lines of feedback. Thanks if you can accommodate. I am modestly experienced with freshwater tanks & will stick with this. I scored on having someone GIVE me a boat-load of free industrial aquarium gear (formally used for a salt water set up). Since I am not setting up as higher-maintenance SALT water aquarium, I'd like to ask your opinion as if all the stuff I acquired should be used (or if some of it would actually be redundant). My FRESH WATER set up will be only for 4 Oscars & 8 Crawdads (no live plants). I do not want to cut corners with the set up but also do not want to invest unneeded in "maintenance & media". ACQUIRED GEAR 1 100 GALLON FISH TANK 1 KENT MARINE MAXIMA RO/DI 60GPD HI-S 2 RAINBOW FLUIDIZED BED FILTER FB300 1 LITTLE GIANT 3-MD-MT-HC WATER PUMP 1 IWAKI MD20RLT WATER PUMP 2 BECKETT M200 200GPH FOUNTAIN PUMP 2 MAXI-JET 1200 POWERHEAD In your opinion, will it be overkill to set up BOTH a Kent Marine Maxima Ro/Di 60gpd Hi-S & Rainbow Fluidized Bed Filter Fb300? Also, is there a way to test if the media for both still has life left? As far as the fluidized bed filters go, they will be an excellent filtration addition to your configuration. I would remove the media from them and give them a very thorough rinsing in freshwater, several times over to ensure their cleanliness. You might also consider simply replacing the media, as it is fairly inexpensive, and piece of mind is definitely worth something.> Via the internet, you seem like a major player in the industry. I know you are a busy man & I will not milk you for too much time. However, any comment you can offer would be great. Thanks bud! Riki

FW Skimmers, Re: Schuran Freshwater Skimmers 1/9/07 Pufferpunk, I do weekly water changes, vacuum half the gravel each week and feed our fish once a day. I have a lot invested in these fish because they help my wife take her mind off her disabilities. Wherever possible, I like to eliminate or reduce pollution before our fish have to deal with it. > We all do that with ammonia and nitrite. Did you get a chance to review the Schuran Freshwater Skimmer on their website? From what I've read on other forums they make great Saltwater Skimmers. So what about their claim of having a new design allowing for effective freshwater skimming? but I really think water changes are good enough. I keep discus (among many other creatures) which require pristine water conditions & never had a problem keeping them with using just 90% weekly water changes. If you're really concerned, get a diatom filter.> By the way I also have a plumbing question. I'm looking for an inexpensive three way valve that allows me to divert the flow in two directions such that I can adjust how much goes one way or another, e.g. 25% one way 75% the other way. I realize I can always use a Y and two simple valves. Frank >
Re: Schuran Freshwater Skimmers
1/10/07 Bob, I appreciate your quick response. It's precisely because freshwater skimming is so inefficient that I want to explore Schuran's claim. Did you review the freshwater skimmers on their website? Would these be effective? Frank

From Marine to Fresh Water 1/5/07 Hello. I have a 55 Gallon FOWLR tank that has nothing in it but live rock. I have tried for many months to maintain a marine tank but it is just to time consuming and far to expensive for me. I want to convert it back to a fresh water tank but I have 50lbs of live rock and a 200.00 skimmer that I dont want to get rid of. Can the skimmer be used for fresh water or is this pointless and the rock I really like but I am assuming that I will kill it if I put it in fresh water so will my best bet be to just sell it for what I can and take the lost? Thanks for any help Brian

Question about an odd shaped tank, powerheads, filtration 1/3/07 Good morning, Crew, Just a casual question. Someone has asked me a question about the best way to filter an octagonal tank of about 10 or 15 gallons. They are currently using an AquaTech power filter rated at 100 gph and an undergravel filter with an Aqua Tech powerhead. The undergravel filter seems unlikely to be functioning effectively, since for an undergravel filter to serve its intended purpose, doesn't it need to cover the entire surface area of the bottom of the tank? Are they making octagonal undergravel filter plates these days? :) The reason I asked for Jorie is because I know she has a Hex tank that she's a bit unhappy with, and I wondered how she filtered, it since it does pose some unique challenges. This gentleman is having trouble with the powerhead overly buffeting his planted decorations, and possibly the fish. I am thinking I will tell him to ditch the powerhead, use airstones instead (perhaps in the center of the tank?) and use a stronger filter, maybe an AquaClear 30. What do you think? Thank you for any assistance. Happy new year to you all. Nicole
Re: Question about an odd shaped tank, powerheads, filtration PART 2
1/4/07 Thanks, Jorie! Those sound like good solutions to me. He hasn't even stocked his tank yet, so I told him to try some fish that appreciate a current and continue to use the powerhead. I also told him to double up on the filtration for some redundancy. I know the AquaTech filter he's talking about, it only runs in the low tens. He could stock one with bio media and the other with chemical/mechanical filtration. I also told him to place the heater near an area of high water flow to aid in distribution. Thank you again for your help! Nicole

Fresh Water filtration, HLLE questions 1/2/07 Hi Folks. > I have two large Blood Red Parrot Fish in a 55 gallon tank and am wondering what I can do to remove dissolved waste from the water like my Berlin airlift skimmer does for my 55 saltwater tank. The other day I noticed algae growth in the fresh water tank and cleaned out the tank. Currently I am using two large filters on this tank. One is a Bio wheel filter (penguin I think) and the other is an Aqua Clear 500. My question is what can I do to lower the algae growth and improve the over all water conditions and prevent hole in the head worms from ever showing up? > Would a UV light help? > What about a canister filter with a built in UV? Would adding sand and live plants help? > Jim >

Filter for 55g FW Tank 10/28/06 Can you tell me what the best filter to get? I know this is a general question, but I have a 55 gallon tank. I bought a Lifeguard Fluidized Bed filter and it sucks. I want to buy a filter that will keep my tank water CLEAR, so what is the best filter I should get? I read that you said some eat up electricity, so one that does not. Thanks, Anthony

Filter Recommendations For A 55 Gallon FW Tank-Chuck's Take - 10/25/06 Thank you. I bought an Eheim 2217 to make sure I will have crystal water and that way when I buy a larger tank I can change the filter. And I will use it with the lifeguard. But it has given me nothing but problems. If it worked, it works great by keeping the problems at 0. It is a very bad design, and the check valve does not work. Filter for 55g FW Tank 10/28/06 Can you tell me what the best filter to get? I know this is a general question, but I have a 55 gallon tank. I bought a Lifeguard Fluidized Bed filter and it sucks. I want to buy a filter that will keep my tank water CLEAR, so what is the best filter I should get? I read that you said some eat up electricity, so one that does not. Now that that's out of the way--on a 55g tank, I like to use a HOB (hang on back) filter, like the Aquaclear 500 (I believe it's called a 110 now) & a canister filter, like the Eheim 2213. The AquaClears are great, because I can stack the filter materials the way I like: sponge on bottom (for mechanical filtration, rinsed during weekly water changes), 1" filter floss in the middle (to "polish the water crystal clear, changed monthly [can be found cheap at sewing machine stores--used as pillow stuffing]) & BioMax on top (for biological filtration, rinsed every 3 months or so). The cheapest place I've found these filters is at The Eheims can be found used, on EBay. The filter you have purchased sounds like a very efficient biological filter that could be used instead of the Eheim. You still need some sort of mechanical filtration though, that can be rinsed out weekly. Another important way to keep your water "clear" is weekly water changes. I do 50% every week & use a Python (also found at Big Al's) to drain & fill on a tank that size. Thanks, Anthony

Power Filter Choice 9/4/06 Hello there, > I currently have a 55 gallon planted discus tank. I have four 3-4 inch discus and one 5 inch Pleco. I am currently running a Jebo canister filter along with a Penguin 125 power filter. I realize the Jebo was a terrible choice. Guess I had to learn for myself that it is worth it to pay extra to get something decent. I would like to replace the filters and was considering either an Emperor 400 or an Aquaclear. Due to the brace on the middle of the tank, an Emperor would have to be off centered and I worry about not getting a good circulation of water in the tank. I like the simplicity of the AquaClear filters. I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to use two smaller Aquaclear filters in order to create better circulation. (Maybe two Aquaclear 50's) I realize that opinions vary, but what would you do in this situation? > Thanks for taking the time to help. Hope you are having a great Labor Day Weekend. Steve >

Some Freshwater questions. tank mis-over-too-soon stocking. 8/21/06 Hello, and thank you for your website, and help. I recently purchased a 55 gallon tank kit. I wanted to purchase everything separately, but my girlfriend insisted on some tank kit. It's a 55 gallon freshwater, with an Aqua-tech 30-60, and has been a major headache for me. Unfortunately, the tank is not at my house, so I cant keep an eye on it as much as I can with my 3 20 gallon tanks. Okay, now, for what we have in it. We have: 3 dwarf gouramis (the largest being maybe an inch and a half long), 2 silver dollars (each about two inches), 2 Bala sharks (maybe three inches), 6-7 painted tetras (the biggest is an inch), a Pleco (maybe 2.5 inches), and two striped blue Raphael catfish (the biggest being about 2.5 inches.) I know this is a lot of information, but I just was wondering: Is this too much for the tank at the moment? My girlfriend went out while I was at work one day and came home with the tetras and the catfish, so I wasn't even planning on getting them. I understand and know how big all of these fish can get, and will be buying a bigger tank in the future to accommodate those. Is my tank overstocked? Secondly, the water in this tank tends to be cloudy, and if I look closely, I can see tiny particles floating in the water. I was wondering what the cause of this could be? Could I need better mechanical filtration? Should I invest in a better filter? and the linked files above> I was looking into buying a Penguin 350 or an Emperor 400, since I've heard good things about both. Should I invest in one? And if so, which? If I got the 400, I'd have to cut more of my hood out to accommodate it, since the hole I have now is only fifteen inches, which from what I understand, will fit a 350 well, but not the Emperor. Is the difference that much to make it worth the cutting? I'd really like crystal-clear watering it, which I haven't had yet. Lastly, lately, I've had algae appear in the tank. I don't think this is related to the cloudiness, since the water has been cloudy for months, while the algae is just recently. It's a dark brown algae growing on the glass and decor. My girlfriend swears that it's not because of excess sunlight, because she doesn't let sunlight hit it. Is it possible there's another reason? Or is she just trying to cover it up? Also, are there any recommendations for anything I might want to add to help the filter or cloudiness? And any recommendations on whether I can add live plants or not. Thank you for your time and effort, I really appreciate it. I've never had this much trouble with any of my tanks, and it's driving me insane. -Brian

Can a new aquarium filter be defective?? 8/21/06 All of my fish died within 24 hours of replacing a filter. I emptied the tank, cleaned (with no soap, etc.) with aquarium sponge. Rinsed all decorations, etc. When I started the tank using only the under gravel filter the water looked fine. Then when I added the bio filter, the water appears to have tons of little white particles in the water. I have never had this before. After circulating for 24 hours, it still looks the same. Could it be from the filter (it came from the same pack that was used prior to the fish dying)?? Deborah Marsh

Filter for small aquarium 7/23/06 Hello there, > I have recently started keeping fish again after more than 20 years absence from the hobby and found that there are so many more filtration systems around these days than there were before. > I have recently purchased a small 20 litre tank with aim of keeping a Betta in it. > The tank came with a small power head and an area for placing the filter medium in which the water flows into and out of. I'm sure you guys would be familiar with this kind of set up. KISS. Keep it simple stupid for beginners again like me. > I have a bio-sponge pad to place in the filtering area and some ceramic noodles also. Is this sufficient filtering of the water, if not what would be required? > Are the ceramic noodles useful and how much do I use in a 23x7.5cm area? Any other useful information would be more than gratefully appreciated as I really enjoyed the hobby in my younger days and am looking forward to getting back into it again with gusto. > Regards Steve >
Re: filter for small aquarium 7/25/06
Hello Tom, > Thanks for the prompt advice you passed on and I have taken all "on board" so to speak. My wife has picked out the Betta she wants and has named him Kevin, who is now in temporary quarantine before joining in his new home which has started cycling as suggested. Once again many thanks and keep up the wise words of advice. I will continue to look out for many other useful tips from you guys. > Regards Steve >

FW Wet-Dry, Af. Cichlid Sys. 7/8/06 Hi > I'm getting a 125 gal. tank with a wet dry filter system. > Currently I have African cichlids. My question is what is the best maintenance? How often do I have to clean it? > Do I remove all of the filter media and replace it? > Any suggestions will be much appreciated. Rene >

FW Tank filtration 6/26/06 Hello, I would like your advice on the filtration that I have for my tank. I have a 75 gallon tank which houses a 10 inch Tiger Oscar, 6 inch Jack Dempsey, 6 inch Jaguar Cichlid, 5 inch pictus catfish, and two Plecos about four to five inches. For filtration I have two 70 aqua clears hang on back filters. I also have an under gravel filter which is connected to a 802 Hagen power head. Is this enough filtration for the tank load. I do a 30% water change every two weeks and clean the filters once a month on a week that I am not changing the water. My levels are normal except occasionally my ammonia hits 0.25. However I constantly have to bout brown algae in the tank which is a pain in the butt. I am very conservative with the feeding, I feed them once a day and not to much. Any advice you could lend me would be greatly appreciated, thank you. JK

Water changes and DE filters - 06/22/2006 Hi crew, > I just purchased a Vortex Diatom Filter and it came with a gravel cleaner that hooks up to the intake of the filter. Could I use this as a substitute for some of the water changes? > I usually do a partial change every 2 weeks while siphoning the gravel. I am sure there is no complete substitute for water changes but I was thinking that if I still remove any of the debris out of the substrate this may cut back on the water changes. > I am curious to hear your thoughts on this. > Thank you in advance. > Michael >
Re: Water change
6/23/06 Hi Tom, > Thanks for the quick response. > What I was doing was a water change every two weeks (about 25%) on my 90 gallon. I just set up 2 150 gallon and 1 300 gallon Rubbermaid containers in the basement that are cycling as we speak. The 90 has misc. cichlids with an Eheim pro 2 and a Tidepool. Should it be okay to siphon the gravel on the 90 once a month with the diatom filter attachment and then only do a water change once a month as well? I know I could just try it and test the water as I go, but I would rather error on the side of caution. > The 300 and 100 gallon I have home made wet/dry filters made out of 5 gallon buckets. I was hoping to cut down on water changes on these as well and using the diatom filter once a month and water change once a month as well. Any thoughts? >

Bulkhead and pump size? 6/22/06 Hello WWM Crew, I am new to this hobby and I am in the process of building my first tank. I really appreciate the vast knowledge you have placed on your web site! Your information has been extremely valuable.( Perfect 10!) My question is on pump and overflow size. Here is some info on my tank to give you an idea of what's going on! The tank is 150 gallons and will be a freshwater home to 4 small Arowana, 2 small clown knifes, and a 14" Pleco. I have already built a few custom acrylic pieces for tank. Please tell me if my current plumbing setup seems OK? I have 2 x 1" bulkheads in the rear corners with self-made skimmer boxes (they look like a siphon overflow box but drain through an elbow on a standard bulkhead and use a Durso style tee and vent on outside of tank). Following me so far? Both overflows drain 8" down the back of tank through ball valve unions (control / stop flow and disconnect for maintenance) to a self-made 30" x 6" x 16" tall box with filter screen and bio balls. This back of tank filter box then drains through two more 1" bulkheads and flex PVC to a custom sump tank below. The sump is 36 x 18 x 18 tall housing two inlet areas/center refugium/and a center return pump section. I just ordered a Mag 9.5 pump to return back up through 3/4 flex PVC, a union for removal, and a 3/4 return bulkhead centered above the water on the back wall with a tee spray bar. (sorry a lot of info) Also I figure there is approx. 6ft of head. Does this sound OK so far? Any suggestions? Will this pump be to much flow for the bulkheads? Also will this be to much flow for the fish? Any input would be very much appreciated! Thank You, Robert in Texas

Sorry to sound foolish ,but what exactly is biomedia? 6/12/06 Understanding the nitrogen cycle in an aquarium is essential to your future success. Good luck. Jorie>

Bubbles From Filter - 05/06/2006 I have a big problem, and yes my water is good every thing is where it should be. My problem is I have very small bubbles at the top of my tank. When I say top of my tank I mean on the surface of the water. Ok hears the problem my Filter shoots those bubbles every were in my tank and its making my fish act funny like jolting around and scratching against my gravel. My question is how do you make the bubbles disappear?, and no my fish don't have a parasite because its been going on for a while and they would be dead by know. I'm just worried my fish are going to stress and give of a disease, so can someone please help me. Thanks but what do you mean adapter?

Freshwater Refugium - 2/28/2006 Hello WWM Crew, I was curious to see if you could guide me in the right direction as far as setting up a freshwater refugium. I have an AES catalogue with a section containing a number of freshwater invertebrates such as copepods, daphnia, blackworms, etc. Would these critters have the same potential for reproduction and feed benefits as the organisms in my salt refugiums? Would these critters also help to maintain a soft substrate within the refugium and if so would this substrate provide NNR as does a DSB in a salt refugium? Thank you in advance for your advice. Myk.

Biological Filtration - 2/21/2006 Please confirm I am correct here, for biological filtration I only need a piece of seasoned sponge ?. Can this float on top, or do I need some weight to have it on the bottom of the tank? This would suggest there is nothing else in the tank, except some PVC pipe and a sponge. The reason I thought the internal filter was suitable is because it provides mechanical, biological filtration, and also good water movement for airflow. What is the difference between a outside power filter, please can you quote me a manufacturer and model #, and a canister filter? Regards Alan Dalgarno

Need Filter Instructions 2/3/06 We inherited a 100 gallon aquarium with a red-ear slider turtle that is 8 years old. We do not know how to install the Cascade 500 filter system. Any directions / instructions? Nicole Eppl

Plumbing suggestions 1/31/06 I have scoured you site and others for what is likely an easy suggestion on setting up a 125 Gallon Bio-Reef tank plumbing. I plan on using it for FW and I know the filtering is overkill but I need to know the how, what and whys on this set up (jpeg attached). My primary concern is flooding, and I have even looked into 2 way solenoid valves that would shut in the event on power loss. I guess what I need is a "how to" on the plumbing specifics. I have never had drilled tanks and have only used canisters and HOB filters so this is all new to me. Any suggestions on what to install/buy would be very appreciated since the tank is sitting dry at the moment. Thank you, Dave Edmonds

Filtration Recommendations For a 150 FW Community Tank 1/30/06 Hello, and thanks for your time. Here is my question. I recently sold off a completely loaded 400 Gallon Reef System. To no avail, I painfully and costly realized that Reef Keeping is not in my attention span. LOL. I am going to set up a large (150 Gallon) freshwater system. I am mainly going to make it a mixed tank, but NO specialized fish such as Cichlids, etc. Just mainly hardy fish. Oscar, Catfish, the usual assortment of basic freshwater fish. A system that would be flexible in terms of freshwater fishkeeping. My question to you is, if money was not really an issue, what type of filtration, circulation, lighting would you go with ? Drilled tank and sump or canister filters? Please give me your opinion or a few of your opinions on your dream set up, for a 150 Gallon Freshwater Mixed Tank. 72 X 18 X 28 Thank You for your time. It is greatly appreciated.

Filtration Setup Wet-Dry 1/13/06 Hello, I'm sure some where among all the links on the fresh water page lays my answer, but I am not able to find it, or may it's there and I do not understand. Anyhow I was given a fish tank any where between 150 to 200 gallons. I have never done anything above 55 gallons before. The filtering system seems complex (bio-balls) and a sump tray. I would really like to get this tank up but the size and new system to me is very overwhelming. What I need help with is what kind of air pump do I need?

Since there already is a filtration system, the bio balls, is there anything else I need to get? I recall reading from the site, I'll need a filtration pad of some sort to filter out the debris before the water goes through the wet/dry system (bio balls), where does this pad go in the tank? It seems like I'm probably over analyzing the whole situation. But if some one can give me a check of list of things I may need to check or get for my tank, it'll definitely help me out, and maybe I can get a grip on this new tank system. Your help is much appreciated. Thanks, Leeann

Filter question 1/10/06 Hi crew, Rach here all the way down in New Zealand! I have a 57 litre tank equipped with hood containing light, heater on one end wall and Shark ADV400 filter at the other end. I am always confused as to which setting I should have the filter on for optimum filtration. I set up the tank using water from the original tank, which I also took my male Betta, 3 (or perhaps now 2 just checking) swordtail fry which are only about 3 weeks old, and 2 platy/swordtail cross which are a few months old. The instructions on the filter leave a lot to be desired and aren't very clear at all, the air flow settings are simply, normal aeration, water flow without aeration, 75% water flow, 50% water flow and 24% water flow. Apparently as water flow decreases, air flow increases. I have no other filtration system in this tank, i.e. undergravel filter nor do i have an air pump connected as i thought the filter adds air given there are bubbles coming out of it at a furious rate! I have adjusted the suction grill to very small spaces so the fry don't get sucked into the filter, so far the Betta hasn't eaten the fry, and the other platys are too small to eat them either. I would really like some clarification as to which setting I should have the filter on, at the moment I have it on 25% water flow, as I wasn't too sure if the fry would get sucked into the filter if it was set too high. Can you please advise which is the best air flow setting for me to be using. And additionally the water temperature is sitting around 28 degrees C, is that temperature ok for the combination of fish i have? I am aware that Betta likes to be warm, but I don't want it to be too warm for the swordtails or platys, nor to breed bad bacteria. Cheers

Filter Recommendations - 1/6/06 Greetings to the WWM crew, Thanks for doing an outstanding job for all of us no matter what our skill level! I have spent days reading all the subject matter on your site, but I still have a question or two -I currently have a 45 gallon pentagon tank housing 4 discus, 2 Bristlenose Ancistrus, and 6 penguin tetras. The tank also has some Amazon swords in it and other plants. All is fine and has been for some years. My questions concern the tank I am moving up to, a 110 gallon tank which may or may not be drilled. I want a planted tank, so I am going to use laterite covered with a layer of gravel for the planted areas, can I use sand for the non-planted areas and if so to what depth? If I go with a drilled tank, I have the choice of a Tidepool bio-wheel filter or some kind of wet-dry (any suggestions). If I don't get a drilled tank then I am going to have to use a power filter (or filters, as I am currently) or a canister filter, which I don't get on with very well (too messy and I tend to forget to clean them as regularly as I should). I am rather confused with all the talk of bio-balls being nitrate factories etc, Is there a better media for a wet-dry filter? Is this the best choice or maybe a fluidized bed filter, or the Tidepool? Help! Thanks, John from Jackson.

Freshwater bio filter/sump setup 12/21/05 Hi Folks. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza, or Happy Holidays. You choose. I've been reading your site for biological filtration on freshwater systems. Although there is a lot of mention about freshwater wet/dry - sump set ups, I can't find some specifics. . . Here is where I am coming from/going to. I currently have a 60 gallon SW reef set up, back drilled, that flows thru a home-made sump, with a bio-ball chamber and a MAG 7 pushing water back. I can control the flow with a gate-valve on the return line. Over here in the North East, I can not seem to get good SW livestock anymore. I am raising the white flag on Salt water, and considering going back to a FW setup. Once I get all the LR and Sand out of the tank, and thoroughly clean it, I want to start up a FW system. I have always used Hang-On style filters in the past on my FW tanks, but this time, I would like to re-use my current setup (minus the skimmer, and the in-tank powerhead for current). My goal is to have a HEAVILY planted tank, (I love real plants) and almost exclusively Gourami's. Aside from perhaps adding a pre-filter sponge, is there any big difference between a SW sump and a FW Sump? Is carbon required? Am I missing a major component? I am a newbie to the freshwater bio wet/dry/sump concept. Thanks a bunch!! John M

Diatomaceous Earth - 12/20/2005 I love your site. Very informative. I have read many FAQ's but have yet come across my specific issue. I have a 65 gallon tank, just cycling it now. About 2 weeks into it. I have Eheim filtration and a Diatom filter for clarity. My question is what is the differences between DE. I understand that some DE from Pool supply places may be treated with chemicals and may not be the best for my freshwater tank. I have a friend who works for an aquarium and can supply me with as much DE as I need. However, They only use DE filtration on their marine tanks not there Freshwater. Do you think the DE they use will be safe for my freshwater setup? I have tried to read as much about DE as possible but can't seem to find the answer I am looking for. Thanks for your help. Heath

Better FW filtration 11/22/05 Can you recommend a better filtration system/method than the one I have described? (Instinct told me that whatever came in the box was only going to be adequate at best, but I wanted more experience. ) Many thanks for your good advice. I will chill out and read. :)

Tank Too Small, Filtration Too Heavy - 10/17/2005 Hey there, this is kind of crazy but I'll ask any way. I have a 29 top fin tank with two Bala sharks and two Pictus catfish and one black ghost knife. I am currently running one hot magnum 250 and one penguin 330, is this to much filtration? PS I am upgrading the tank size to a 75 should I buy the Eheim pro two thermo 2128 model or do I have enough already.

55 Gallon Filtration 10/6/05 Hello Girls/Guys, I set up my first, 55 gallon, tank approximately three months ago. Your website has proved to be an invaluable source of reliable information along the way - most retail stores around me give varying advice depending on the time of day. So, thank you. Anyway, the tank seems to be fully cycled (nitrates present at a comfortable level, nitrites and ammonia very low, and pH is stagnant). My current stock consists of 2 blue Gouramis, 2 dwarf Gouramis, 2 pictus cats, 2 common Plecos, and 4 tiger barbs (seems to be the right amount to keep them preoccupied with each other rather than the Gouramis' fins). I have a question and a concern. My concern is that the water is still cloudy. I do partial water changes weekly and vacuum alternating halves of the gravel biweekly. I scrub off the algae biweekly as well. I've changed the filter media according to the directions. What could be causing the cloudiness and how can I get rid of it? My question is about the filtration system and heaters. I've read through countless pages of FAQs and haven't found an answer that pertains to my setup, but I apologize if this is redundant. I currently have a Whisper 60 power filter and an "All Glass Aquarium" heater. I recently ordered a Marineland Visi-Therm 200 watt heater and the Marineland Emperor 400 (notice the definite article). Would I be best off to run both filters and both heaters at the same time if I have the power? Will this create too strong a current for the fish I have? I've received conflicting advice from local retailers. I'm hoping you can clear it up for me. *no pun intended Thank you for your time, Mike

Is high ORP achievable with very green water? 9/30/05 Hi WWM crew! I am trying to improve water quality and control algae in my 150g Malawi Mbuna setup. To that end I recently started injecting ozone through a protein skimmer, mindful of your guidelines/precautions in your ozone and ORP FAQs. In the past few days, however, RedOx potential appears to have skyrocketed from

270mV to well past the safe range. RedOx potential as of this morning is

440mV but green water remains in my tank. This is the problem. I gather from this that 1) it is possible that high RedOx potential and green water are not mutually exclusive, or 2) my brand-new, cleaned and calibrated ORP probe is reading a voltage that is higher than actual.

I would very much appreciate your opinion as to whether I can continue to inject ozone at low dosage despite my not-so-sure ORP of 440mV until the algae is defeated. Thanks in advance, crew. You do a great service to aquariumhobbyistkind. Regards, Rich Choy San Francisco, CA

Question about rinsing bio filter media with tap water 8/29/05 I have a question. I set up my 29 gal tank almost 4 weeks ago. I have 3 albino Corydoras and 3 blood fin tetras. All of them seem to be doing fine so far (have had them for about 2 and 3 weeks respectively). I did not know at the time, but I had what seemed as an excess of calcium, so besides doing a water change, I rinsed my bio filter under tap water (slightly) because it was all covered with this white stuff (that was all over the water, ornaments, etc). I read later not to do that because it kills the good bacteria. I asked somebody at Petco and they told me this bacteria should build back on. I want to know if this is true and how long it should take more or less. I also have a carbon filter of course. I have had ammonia levels of 1.0 ppm pretty much since I set it up. My nitrates were pretty low, almost zero since set up, as well as nitrites. I tested today (had not tested for about 5-6 days) and my ammonia is the same still, but my nitrites went up as well as nitrates, although nitrates are in the safe level still. I want to hear your insight about this, about the cycling of my FW tank, and so on.

I feed my fish very little twice a day, but I am going to start feeding them just once do to the spike in nitrites as well now. Please let me know, I am not sure where and when to look for my answer. I had written an email a few weeks ago but can't seem to find the answer for it anywhere in the website. It was about RO water among other things. Thank you for your time. - Zeke -

Oceanic 72 Bowfronts, FW filtration options 8/29/05 25 years ago I was big in freshwater. Had lots of tanks but not much money. Now, I'd like to get back into fish keeping and would like to start with 2 72 Oceanic Bowfronts. Now, here is my ignorance. The tanks have an overflow tower with holes in the bottom. I'm guessing that I'm to run filter lines there. Also, a sump comes with the tanks. What set up is this tank designed for and will that make me happier than hang on filters. Both tanks will be South American community tanks. One mostly tetras and the other live bearers. thanks, Rob Eddy

Refugiums/freshwater? 8/25/05 Hello, I have been reading a lot about refugiums for salt water tanks. I like the idea and want to add one to my tank, the thing is I have freshwater. Can a freshwater refugium be made and be beneficial? If so what kind of plants or algae would be grown? thanks.. Jason

Wet/Dry Filtration on Freshwater 7.21.05 Great info on this site! You gave me great advice about washing my substrate when I upgraded my tank. Here is my new question. I have read a lot of info about wet/dry filters in the marine environment being nitrate factories. Is this true for freshwater? Will live plants such as Java Fern use the nitrates? I guess my real question is about my current set up. 3 weeks ago I upgraded from a 55g to a 125g. I put everything (substrate, water, plants, rocks) from the old tank into the new to avoid cycling. I set up the 125g with a wet/dry bio-ball system. I am running the wet/dry plus 2 Penguin 330 w bio wheels from the old tank. All water parameters are good. My fish load consists of 4 clown loaches 4-5 inches, 3 Boesemanni Rainbows 3-4 inches, 7 Corys, and a 6 in Royal Pleco. Could I remove the Penguins after the wet/dry is seasoned? Or would I be better off keeping the Penguins? The tank is moderately planted with large Java Ferns (only plant I could get to grow in the 55g). I would like to put some different plants in but, I am only running 110w of compact fluorescent light. I also added 50lbs of Fluorite to the old substrate in hopes of growing some different plants. Thanks, CW

Wet/Dry and Nitrates in Freshwater - 08/19/2005 Hello, Thanks again for the great wealth of information. I have been doing a lot of research on wet/dry filters. There seems to be a lot of info on using live rock instead of bio-balls in reef applications for the reduction of nitrates. Are there any options for freshwater systems that use wet/dry filters? What about the use of sintered glass in the bottom of the sump under the bio-balls? I am looking for a way to control nitrates without ditching my wet/dry. duckweed if you can do so, otherwise a great deal of fast-growing stem plants (Anacharis/elodea/Egeria, for example) will help. > My nitrates were well over 100ppm a couple of week ago, but after a lot of water changes, it is down to an acceptable level of 20-40 ppm. Any thoughts? Thanks, CW

Re: Freshwater Wet/Dry and Nitrates 8/19/05 Hello, Thanks again for the great wealth of information. I have been doing a lot of research on wet/dry filters. There seems to be a lot of info on using live rock instead of bio-balls in reef applications for the reduction of nitrates. Are there any options for freshwater systems that use wet/dry filters? What about the use of sintered glass in the bottom of the sump under the bio-balls? I am looking for a way to control nitrates without ditching my wet/dry. My nitrates were well over 100ppm a couple of week ago, but after a lot of water changes, it is down to an acceptable level of 20-40 ppm. Any thoughts? Thanks, CW

Wet/Dry and Nitrates in Freshwater - III - 08/19/2005 Thanks for the reply. My aquarium is a 125 gal that has been running for about 6 weeks. This is an upgrade from a 29 and 55 that I combined into the 125. When I did the upgrade, I moved everything from the old tanks into the new. I suspect a lot of the nitrates are coming from the substrate. When I did the upgrade, I moved all the gravel from the old 55 into the new tank and added 50 lbs of Fluorite and another 50 lbs of new gravel. The old gravel was pretty dirty, but I wanted to preserve the bacteria, so I did not rinse it. My fish load is pretty light. 3 4-5in clown loaches, 3 4in boesemanni rainbows, 1 6in royal Pleco, 1 5in Chinese algae eater, 1 4in Raphael cat, and a couple of Corys. My wet/dry is moving 980gph. I am also running 2 seasoned penguin 330 bio-wheel power filters from the old tanks. All my water parameters are good--except for the nitrates! My plant load consists mainly of Java Ferns that are doing great. I recently added some floating Watersprite that is growing well. My light is 2 55w compact fluorescents in a 4 foot fixture. The light is centered over the tanks, so I have some subdued lighting on either end. My loaches and Corys seem to appreciate that! I've tried some stem plants, but my Royal Pleco eats them. I have been making steady progress in the reductions of nitrates with water changes. When I first tested the nitrates they were off the chart--deep red on the test kit. Now, 5 weeks later, I am around 20-40 ppm, according to my tests. Thanks, CW

New Filter for New Tank Hey gang. I recently inherited a 10 gallon setup, and I'd like start a small community tank. I'm planning to keep a couple of Corys, and a small school (7 or so) of Zebra Danios or perhaps White Clouds. My question regards the filter that came with this tank. It's an Aqua Clear 150, which I know is meant for somewhat larger tanks than this 10 gallon. I know it will not provide too much filtration per se, but I'm worried that even at the lowest flow setting, this filter will create too much current for my little fish. Should I invest in a smaller filter? JM

Protein Skimming Fresh Water Hi, I looked through your FAQs and didn't find anything related to the use of protein skimmers with freshwater systems. Please forgive if this is discussed on your site. After having a marine tank and will be moving in two years, I wanted to know if my protein skimmer will 1) work in a freshwater tank, and 2) will that coupled with gravel be sufficient at maintaining water quality for discus? Thanks. Geoff R.

Freshwater Filter Selection, 5/27/05 I have two small red-eared sliders (3 - 3 1/2 in long) in a 10 gallon tank. I will be moving them to a 30 gallon long sometime in the next few days. Currently I have a Whisper in-tank filter, and I was thinking I could just get a bigger version of the same filter for the new tank, but apparently (from what I've read) in-tank filters don't really cut it in aquariums that big. My tank doesn't have any holes in it, either to let a filter hang down lower on the edge, or to come up through the floor of the tank. What are my options without having to find a way to cut a hole in the tank?

Freshwater Fluidized Bed Question Hi WWM Crew. I just have a quick question on filtration for a 180 gallon cichlid tank that will have an Oscar, 2 Severums, and a few other cichlids/dithers. I plan on using my filtration from my current 75 and 40 gallon setups: 2 Fluval 404's, 1 AC 300, 2 powerheads with filter attachments (170 and80 gph). Is a fluidized bed filter a worthwhile investment to use with the above filtration? Would the quick collapse from a power failure be offset by not using the fluidizer alone? Thank you for your help. Corey

Freshwater too! Bob: You responded recently to my request regarding "salt reef" system labeled "bio-diversity". God am I amazed at your swift response! We had a discussion there regarding my "coming soon" 220 gal.( including R-UGF etc. ) with 70 gal.( DSB or plenum ) "refugium-secondary-show-tank". I have a long way to go with that design, and will contact you again sometime soon regarding that design. In the mean time, I currently have a 55 gal. "fresh-tank" with African cichlids and will be adding an existing ( but currently unused ) 150 gal. tank to the freshwater "group". I also have a 10 gal. that will most likely function primarily as "quarantine". I also have room in the "under design and construction" home built "display center" for a 30 to 50 gal. "supplementary tank" should the need arise, as it almost certainly will. ( adequate "hidden" support areas are also included ) I realize that there is a lot of "scope" in this presentation and the series of questions that I am asking here, and I have spent a lot of the time investigating the "best current information" on the web in general, and on your beautiful site specifically, in preparation.( I don't think "that" information gathering will ever be complete ) Again, I am looking at being able to display ( and enjoy ) a fairly wide range of specimens in this closed system, with priority being given to the fish and the creatures that can be supported, and allowing for some live plants that are beneficial to the fish and the system, but are easy to keep and do not especially complicate the system requirements. To wit, it seems that the 55 gal. is going to remain the "hard water" system with attention to keeping the "smaller of the species" ( mostly cichlids ) and with the addition of any compatible "creatures" and "easy-plants". Now comes the 150 gal. tank Here, I think that the water conditions will be "neutral to soft" to accommodate the apparently "wider range" of fish and creatures that can be kept in a single "closed system". Am I on target here, or suffering from some lack of pertinent information? Regarding the 150 gal. setup, I would like to supply brighter lighting at one end of the tank for the specimens that prefer it, and subdued at the other end for the same reason. Heavily built cave structures at one end with lots of planting at the other, with a sparser area maintained in the middle for "display and swimming". I have put a particularly large amount of research ( investigation ) into substrates and filtration systems, but I must admit that as I learn more, the "confusion level" is not abating! My current tendency is toward reverse UGF for it's high nitrification capability along with "low" maintenance requirements ( high quality intake filtration and high flow required to reduce "particulate" and to direct detritus "up" and into the "primary mechanical filtration systems" ) I do not want the UGF to be a mechanical filter. It is really only intended to reduce maintenance by way of "upsweep away from the substrate, with this one possible exception. I have very recently read about reverse flow undergravel "turf scrubbers"( lit from underneath ) and I am at least intrigued. Do you have any experience, attitude, or information resources relative to this supposedly "nitrate consuming scheme"? Well Bob, that is quite a bit of "scope". Do you think that there is a better way to accomplish the objectives in the 150 gallon tank? Gosh, is the "diverse soft-water environment" that I have described even reasonable to pursue? Will I ever run out of questions? Of course I won't, but any suggestions that you may have for the filtration to begin with, and the flora and fauna in the "big" tank would be dearly appreciated. I am "eyeball deep" in the design and "eminent" construction of the "freshwater-display-center" and any comments that you may have regarding the "filtration system" ( again ) and "pitfalls to avoid" would certainly help me to "get on" with it. The education will never end, but isn't that the "whole" idea?

Thanks in the extreme Bob, Barry H. Carpenter

Diatom filter I converted a 1000 gallon outside fiberglass spa (at level, sunk into the cement patio) to a gold fish bowl in which I presently have one Koi, 6-8 feeder gold fish and about 5 algae eaters "Pleco"?, little black ugly guys that stick on the side of the tank. I've been doing tank changes once a week with Amquel because the water becomes green and murky in just a few days. I run a filter 24/7, have two large pond pumps running, one through a waterfall with four water streams running through three levels of polished river rock and then free falling about one foot into the pond. Live in Southwest Florida. The pond is about 3-4 months old. Fish all appear very happy and growing. But I can't stand the murk! A friend told me to buy a diatom filter to polish the water. Do you agree and what size? Thank you for your help. Pam Comstock
Re: diatom filter
Chuck, Thank you so much for responding. I think you must be right. I will obtain a gravel vac today. The filter is cleaned at least once a week. I will start cleaning it twice a week, falls as well. You are right. I do not have a "biological filtration system" but will do some research and hopefully be able to incorporate one into the pond. Any recommendations would be much appreciated. You have been most helpful. Pam

Manual for Saltwater Aquarium

Quick Tips to Save your Time and Money

Selection of appropriate equipment is very crucial, for example, skimmers.
What do I mean? Well I mean resources, time, etc. If you are lacking several of these items it is VERY likely you will fail and exit the hobby, kill a lot of wonderful creatures and have spent a lot of money in the process. So I'm here to save you time and money.
I am giving you some quick tips and tricks that will help you save your precious time and money ! So lets start the list:

A Salt water aquarium takes a LOT of time to setup and maintain. In the setup period expect to be spending at least 10 hours a week researching, building, purchasing, etc It can easily be 20-100 hours a week if you get addicted!
This period can last several days to months depending on how big a setup you are going to do. When your tank is first setup with live animals/plants and is cycling(establishing a biological filter and becoming a stable tank), you will spend at least 10-20 hours a week on it, sometimes considerably more if problems develop. Even when everything is running perfectly on an established tank, you will still need to spend 10 minutes a day and 2-4 hours a week on the weekends to maintain the tank.
Don't have the time? Don't start a tank until you do!

Things take time to develop in this hobby. If you find yourself changing hobbies every week or you can't commit to anything long term, you will probably become quickly bored of this hobby and find out the $1000 setup you bought 3 months ago only sells for $100 used.
If you aren't patient, time to choose another hobby.

Stable Electricity
Without stable electricity your tank will crash and be very smelly. Do the lights in your house blink like Christmas tree lights? Do you live in the middle of nowhere where a slight breeze downs your electricity for weeks at a time? Then unless you want to invest a lot of money in a backup generator, you should either move or get your electricity company to give you a stable service. So in other words: move.

Concern for the environment and critters
While some will argue that the SW hobby is bad for the environment(Lots of materials and electricity to keep a few wild animals in your house), I feel it has a beneficial effect on the world, if done properly. You should take the time to research your choices for your SW tank so that there is minimal death to your inhabitants. Putting 10 SW fish in a 10 gallon aquarium is either going to end in the death of all the fish, or one big happy fat predatory fish.
Don't make snap purchases at fish stores/on-line before you know what it takes to take care of an animal/plant in your tank. "Finding Nemo" was a great movie, but it has resulted in a lot of dead clownfish because the people didn't take the time to find out how to care for them.
Want to have 7 tangs in a 20 gallon? Want to keep SPS corals in a deep tank with normal output lights? Do some research and find out these are BAD ideas or just keep a goldfish in a 10 gallon freshwater tank.

A supportive husband/wife/partner or be single
Your SW tank will take up more money and time than you can possibly expect, unless you are SUPER good at planning. If you are single, you can skip this requirement, but keep it in the back of your mind when choosing a partner. Your SW fish tank may go away when you move in together. Seriously though, this tank that is a gleam in your eye, will eat up time and money very rapidly.
If your significant other is jealous of this or demands the money and time be spent better elsewhere, you should avoid this hobby. There is nothing like dropping two grand on a hobby and finding out you have to give it up one month later due to the stress it causes in your family/relationships.

I'm not talking about having the physical space to have the tank, that is obvious. I'm talking about having a strong and level floor, plenty of GFCI electrical outlets nearby, a spot away from direct sunlight or ideally a "fish room" where you can keep all the extra equipment you need for your tank. Most apartments have weight limits for their floors and if you exceed that, your tank may come crashing down on your neighbor below.
Do you live on the side of a mountain with a slope to your house? Are you thinking of putting your $1000 tank on your $20,000 antique oriental rug? Think again and buy a vase to match the rug, SW isn't for you.

Mixing electricity and water is NOT a good idea. Especially saltwater, it is a WONDERFUL conductor of electricity. If you are going to have a SW tank you NEED Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt technology on ALL plugs that go anywhere near your tank. Why? Because if you don't, it could KILL you. Or at least shock you very badly. Make sure stuff above your aquarium, such as lights, are also on GFCI protected plugs, you will eventually knock something electrical into the tank if you stay in the hobby long enough.
Want to "skip" this expense? Don't want to pay an electrician to do this? Do you have small kids or pets that don't know to NOT stick their hands in a SW tank? Don't start this hobby then, it is not worth pain or even death.

Your Saltwater tank will become a black hole for any money in the house or in your wallet. OK, maybe not that bad, but sometimes it will feel like you are taking 20 bucks, shredding it and feeding it to your $3 damsel. That is not recommended by the way!
This is probably the most expensive hobby I have ever tried, although I hear traveling around the world on cruise ships is SLIGHTLY more expensive. Sometimes local fish stores will try to tell you it is a very affordable hobby and attempt to sell you a 55 gallon or 75 gallon "kit" for well under $1000, sometimes under $500. You'll find yourself drawn back into the store to replace the "basic" equipment they sold you that doesn't do a good job. I have spent almost $2000 on my 75 gallon tank and that is considered moderate to cheap by most SW aquarium keepers.
Think you can do the hobby cheap? WRONG! Sure there are ways to reduce costs and cut corners, but if you think you can setup a 75 gallon tank for $75 bucks, it just isn't going to happen.

Disposable Income
Hey wait, we've already talked about money right? Yes and no. Maybe you have a huge tax return to finally start that 200 gallon tank you've always wanted, but what about maintaining it? Pennies right? Nope! If you consider the cost of salt, test kits, electricity, replacement parts, etc, you should plan to spend at least $50-$100 a month on your tank maintaining it. Do you want to actually ADD corals and fish to your tank on a regular basis? Figure at least $100-$300 a month then.
Have your credit card maxed out? Are 50 with no retirement savings? Is your disposable income $10 a month? Now is not a good time to have a SW tank. Come back when you've got better disposable income.

You need time to research, especially if you try advanced ideas. The amount of time it takes to learn about this hobby is incredible. Research is needed to be successful in this hobby. And it takes TIME, so just be prepared to do it.
Don't want to do the research? You'll be much better off hiring an aquarium maintenance company to take care of your tank, although make sure you get a good one.

I am just trying to save you time and money and I'm also trying to save a lot of innocent, cute, adorable animals from entering the grave early. ☺
Thank you for your attention.

Maintaining Saltwater Tank

Saltwater Maintenance
The cycling process will undoubtedly be the most tense time for you and your new tank. So below is a guide to the first few days and months of your tank.
Monitoring the Ammonia and Nitrates in the tank
Over the course of the first 4 to 6 weeks your tank will demonstrate the typical cycling process. During this critical time, you should carefully watch the ammonia and nitrites in the tank. If the fish look stressed (darting around the tank, gasping for air, or not moving at all), a partial water change might be in order. If the fish look really bad, they may have to be moved to another tank or storage location until the toxicity of the tank is reduced. You should always keep salt mix and dechlorinated water on hand for impromptu water changes.

Monitoring the PH
Along with monitoring ammonia and nitrites, you should keep a careful eye on the pH (you should always watch the pH, not just during the cycling process). The pH will tend to fall over time and needs to raised. The easiest way to raise the pH is through additions of sodium bicarbonate (i.e., baking soda). Mix a tablespoon or so of baking soda in a cup of dechlorinated water and slowly add it to the tank. Slowly means over the course of an hour or two. Baking soda will cause a short term drop in the pH, but will bring the pH to 8.2 over time.
Water Evaporation: adding new water to tank
As time marches on, water will evaporate from the tank and need to be replenished. The water that evaporates is freshwater and needs to be replaced with freshwater. You should never use saltwater for makeup water (unless you want to increase the salinity of the tank).

Cleaning up of Algae
As the tank matures, algae will start to grow (usually around week 2 or 3). Typically brown algae, otherwise known as diatoms, will be the first algae that shows up in the tank. Brown algae will usually cover everything in the tank and need to be cleaned every week or so. With time green algae should overtake the diatoms and the brown algae will disappear all together. If it doesn't, there might not be enough light for the green algae to out-compete the diatoms.

First Major Water Change
After the tank completes cycling, it will be time for your first major water change. Although the amount of water you change is really up to you, it should be a significant portion of the water. Something like 40 to 50%, with 100% of the water not being uncommon. When changing the water, the gravel should also be cleaned. There are many commercially available gravel cleaners on the market.
The chemistry of the change water should be as close to the tank's water as possible. The pH should be within 0.2 and the temperature should be within 1-2 degrees. It is better to have the change water warmer than cooler (imagine the shock of a cold shower and you will know how your fish will react to cooler change water).

Regular Maintenance Schedule
After the first water change you should establish a regular maintenance schedule. Something like monthly water changes, weekly algae scrapings, and bi-weekly feedings are normal.

A Note on Nutrition
A note on nutrition. Saltwater fish need varied diets. Constantly feeding your fish flake food may provide it with all the necessary vitamins and minerals, but this may ultimately cause a nutrition deficiency of sorts. Alternating between cut up shrimp and clam, flake food and frozen/live brine shrimp makes a good combination. Herbivorous fish, like Yellow Tangs, also like romaine lettuce or Nori (an algae regularly sold at oriental markets) on a regular basis.

Converting to Saltwater
One of the most frequently asked questions in the news groups is how to convert from freshwater to saltwater. What equipment needs to replaced, what needs to purchased, etc..

Equipment Needed
Most equipment used in freshwater can be used in a saltwater system, with a few exceptions. You should start by replacing your gravel with some sort of calcareous material. Examples include crushed coral, dolomite and aragonite. Using these types of substrate tend to help buffer the water and produce a more stable environment. Next, you need to check all your equipment for anything metal. Saltwater will rust anything except the highest grade stainless steel. There are stainless steels on the market which will rust when exposed to saltwater.
Needless to say, you need to replace or get rid of anything made of metal.

Filtration System
The filtration system used in your freshwater system will usually be adequate for a saltwater system. However, you can use this opportunity to upgrade or change filtration mechanisms. Also, which ever type of filtration system you are using, you should add some sort of extra water circulation to the tank. Saltwater has a lower dissolved oxygen content than freshwater, so you need to keep the water in the tank moving. Actually, it needs to do more than move. You need to disrupt the surface of the water to maximize oxygen transfer with the atmosphere.

The lighting you used for you freshwater system should also work for a fish-only saltwater tank. However, if you want to keep invertebrates, you will need to upgrade (more that just your lighting).

One part of a freshwater system that needs to be replaced is the food. Marine fish need varied diets. You need to supply your fish with a combination of fresh, frozen and live food. Flake food, although adequate, should not be the major portion of your fish's diet.

Changing the Water
Finally, when you are ready to make the switch to saltwater, you really should replace all the water in your system. It is best to start with nitrate free water to minimize the potential for algae problems. Also, many people think that adding salt to a cycled freshwater tank will yield a cycled saltwater tank. Experience have shown this is not true. Saltwater nitrifying bacteria are different than freshwater nitrifying bacteria, so they must be cultured from scratch. As a note, nitrifying bacteria seem to be pH and temperature sensitive. So moving some gravel from a warm saltwater tank (

85F/24C) to a temperate saltwater tank (72F/21C) will shock the bacteria enough to nullify any advantage from using the gravel (e.g., to shorten the cycle time).

General Notes
Quarantine Tank is Very Important
Keeping a quarantine tank is especially important for saltwater tanks. It can be very difficult to treat a sick fish when it is continually being harassed by healthier fish. Also, some medications, namely copper, will kill invertebrates. You should NEVER put copper into your main tank. Contrary to popular belief, you will never be able to get all of the copper out of the tank. Also, using copper in a tank which contains live rock will decimate the life forms populating the rock, as most of them are invertebrates.

Source Water is Very Important
Source water for saltwater tanks is also very important. Although the water authority says that tap water is fit for human consumption, it may not be fit for your fish. Tap water typically contains chlorine and chloramines, which will kill your fish. Although these will have an immediate effect on your fish, there are usually other contaminates in tap water which need time to affect the tank. In particular, phosphates will cause massive growths of hair algae and potentially cyanobacteria outbreaks (red slime algae). Without good quality source water, your tank will not be the continuous joy you hoped it would be.

Best Purifiers
The best water purifiers on the market are reverse osmosis units. These, coupled with de-ionizing resins, produce water which is 98% pure. If the price of a RO/DI combination is too much, then you can always use distilled water (not spring water). However, distilled water may have been stored in copper containers which will kill invertebrates.
Before you start your saltwater tank, find a good store near you. Good stores will have knowledgeable staff and exhibit a general concern about the care of the animals. If the store has few saltwater tanks, with a lot of sick or dying fish, don't buy any fish there, even if they look healthy.

Fish Selection

Beginner Saltwater Fish
It is easy to make mistakes when setting up your first saltwater tank. Both for the sake of the fish and your wallet, start with only a few hardy inexpensive fish. Most marine fish are collected in the wild rather than captive raised, so your mistakes impact the world's oceans!

The best beginner fish for a marine tank are damsels. These fish are very hardy, being able to withstand worse water conditions than most other marine fish, they are not picky eaters, and they are fairly inexpensive. The down-side is that they are fairly aggressive. One or two will co-exist in a tank. There will be a lot of fighting if you put more in. Dealers get away with a lot in their tanks by keeping the tanks so crowded that none of the fish can establish a territory. This is not acceptable for long periods of time. It is best to use damsels to break in a new tank. If you are then going to add other aggressive fish, you can keep the damsels. If you want to keep shy or delicate fish, you should take the damsels back to the pet store once you and your tank are ready for more fish.
Some damsels, such as the blue damsel and yellow tailed damsels, are not as aggressive as others, such as the three striped and domino damsels. In any case, damsels are certainly the best fish to start with.

Some people like to break in a tank with mollies which have been acclimated to salt water. This gives you the benefit of starting with inexpensive fish and get used to maintaining salinity and pH on not-so-sensitive fish. Although safer, you don't achieve much marine experience this way. Mollies are captive raised and bred.
If you buy mollies for your saltwater tank, you can acclimate them by dripping saltwater into the bag over a period of 6-8 hours, removing some water when the bag gets too full. Slowly increasing the salinity gives the mollies time to get used to their new environment. You can keep the mollies in the tank after it cycles, but any aggressive fish with continually harass the passive mollies.

Clownfish are related to damsels, and are fairly hardy. However, they are more difficult to acclimate to a new tank. Clowns, in general, are very territorial, but are not otherwise aggressive except to other clowns. They will do fine without an anemone, which is good since anemones are much more difficult to keep. Anemones require very clean water and high quality lighting. Also, each species of clown likes particular species of anemones, and none of them will regularly
inhabit the inexpensive and easier to maintain Caribbean anemones. Some clowns are captive raised.

These small fish are somewhat hardy and are unlikely to cause trouble for the other fish in your tank. Some of them show a lot of personality, though they will get lost in a large tank. Many of these fish are excellent additions to a tank to help control algae. However, some feed by sifting through the substrate and will be very hard to keep fed in a fish-only tank (e.g., the mandarin fish).

Tangs (Surgeonfish)
Tangs are fairly hardy, though they are very susceptible to marine ich. Being algae eaters, they are useful to introduce when your tank starts growing algae. They must be fed leafy greens if there is no suitable algae growing in the tank (green algae). Many different tangs are commonly seen for reasonable prices.

If you are setting up a tank for large aggressive fish, you can start with triggers and/or lionfish, as they are hardy. However, mistakes with them can be very costly, so you may want to practice on less expensive and easier fish. Also, carnivorous fish such as triggers and lions should be fed plenty of shell fish and other marine life. Specifically, many people feed lions feeder goldfish. This is really a bad practice because goldfish are freshwater fish and do not provide
the same nutrition that a saltwater fish would. Specifically, feeding saltwater fish freshwater food can cause premature liver failure and the early demise of your fish.

Angels and Butterflies
These are fish that must be ignored while in the pet store - all are both delicate and difficult fish to keep. Many butterflies have specialized diets which make them hard to maintain in captivity.
Batfish are also other fish that should be avoided.

Other saltwater fish which can be attempted once you get good at controlling the fish's environment are hawk fishes, grammas, dotty backs, basslets, and wrasses. Some are more difficult to keep than others, but not nearly as difficult as angles and butterflies.

Fishes to Stay Away From
All angelfish, all butterfly fish, Pipefish, Seahorses, Long-nosed Filefish, Blue Ribbon Eels, Stonefish, and Moorish Idols. Mandarin fish should also be avoided in non-reef tanks (they are hard to feed).

Beginner Invertebrates
Many people believe that invertebrates are only for mini or micro-reef tanks. Not so. There are quite a few invertebrates that do well in non-reef tanks. However, not a lot of invertebrates should be attempted by inexperienced saltwater fish keepers. Below is a brief summary of the more hardy invertebrates available to aquarists.

There are many different shrimps available in the market, with most of them being perfectly suitable for a lightly loaded saltwater tank. In fact, some shrimps are more suitable for fish and invertebrate tanks than for a reef tank since they like to eat corals.
Some of the more popular shrimps are Cleaner shrimp Lysmata amboinensis, Blood shrimp Lysmata debelius, Candy cane or Peppermint shrimp Periclimenes brevcarpalis, and Coral Banded shrimp Stenopus hispidus. The cleaner shrimp is denoted by a white on red stripe down the middle of its back. They are fairly inexpensive and easy to keep. They should, however, be kept in small groups (3-4), as this makes them more social and more likely to come out often. The Blood shrimp is intensely red with some white spots. It is a very striking animal, but usually commands a high price. The Coral Banded shrimp is very popular with reef keepers, but must be watched around small fish. This shrimp has been known to eat small fish without thinking twice.
Most shrimps are scavengers and don't necessarily need to be fed overtly (they usually eat food dropped by fish). If your fish your fish consume most of the food before it makes it to the bottom of the tank, then some extra food should be given to the shrimps after the fishes have been fed, or at night (most shrimps are nocturnal). Shrimps readily accept most frozen foods and dried foods (brine shrimp, flake food, etc.).
Stay away from Harlequin shrimps Hymenocera sp. as starfish are their only source of food.

There are many different type of crabs, but the most commonly seen varieties are anemone crabs Neopetrolisthes ohshimia, arrow crabs Stenorhynchus seticornis, and hermit crabs Dardanus megistos. Anemone crabs live in anemones, as do clownfish (e.g., Sebae), and vary greatly in color and shape. They are usually acquired indirectly by buying an anemone, but are some times sold separately. These crabs should have a host anemone to feel comfortable. Arrow crabs are very interesting animals which should be kept one to a tank, as they will continually fight. Also, Arrow crabs should not be kept with Coral Banded Shrimps as they will fight as well. Hermit crabs are also interesting, and vary in color and size. Most are passive, but some will eat corals and other invertebrates.
Crabs are generally omnivorous and readily accept the same foods as your fish. Like shrimp, crabs can only eat food which has made it to the bottom of the tank. Thus, ensure some food is in reach of your crabs.

Sea Urchins and Starfishes
Most sea urchins and Starfishes are suitable for beginners who have a few months experience. Once again they vary greatly in size, shape, and color. Beware, some sea urchins are poisonous. Most sea urchins and starfish feed on detritus and algae, and small particles of food that have fallen within their reach.

Simply put, anemones should not be kept by beginners (sorry folks). They all require very strong lighting and excellent water conditions. Do not believe a fish store guy that tells you otherwise. Unless you are willing to invest a lot of money in proper lighting, do not try to keep an anemone.

Some Notes on Invertebrates
Invertebrates are very sensitive to water quality. Signs of stress due to poor water quality will usually be exhibited first by invertebrates. Therefore, shrimps, anemones and other invertebrates should never be used to cycle a tank. Moreover, you should never add an invertebrate to a diseased tank or a tank which does not have stable water quality factors (e.g., pH, temperature, etc.).
Other points to note. Shrimps need iodine to properly molt, as well as
calcium . If you do not change water regularly (which you should), or if you do not feed live or frozen food frequently, then you may need to supplement your water with iodine. Without proper levels of iodine, shrimps will not molt properly and will most likely die. Also, copper kills invertebrates at much lower concentrations than fish. If you have ever used copper in your tank, DO NOT put invertebrates into the tank. You will never be able to adequately remove all the copper such that you can keep invertebrates alive and happy. Finally, crabs usually outgrow their shell sooner or later. Therefore, you will need to provide a new larger shell (they usually try a few out before sticking with one, so you will probably need at least a couple).

Invertebrates to Stay Away From
Tridacna clams (they need strong lighting), Flame scallops (they are nearly impossible to feed in an aquarium as they are filter feeders), Octopi (they have very short life spans), Nudibranchs (they are difficult/impossible to feed), any hard or soft coral (they need very strong lighting), and sea squirts (they can release poisonous toxins into the water).

Selecting a Saltwater Fish
Since saltwater fish are usually more expensive than freshwater fish, you have a great stake in getting them home alive and keeping them alive for the long term. You must realize that most fish you see in stores were swimming around the vast ocean a mere week ago. As such, the stress of capture and transportation can wreak havoc with the biological processes of the animal.
The most important thing when buying a fish is to not be overcome by the buying impulse. Before buying any animal, you should ask `Can I keep it happy'. Merely keeping the fish or invertebrate alive doesn't mean it is happy. Fifty goldfish may live in a 10 gallon tank, but they certainly won't be happy or healthy. Buying a fish you know nothing about and then asking if you can keep this fish happy is a very bad practice. Also, as hard as it is to say this, don't feel like you are doing a sick fish any favors by taking it home. If you have the room and time to nurture the sick fish, then I suggest you help out the environment and care for the sick fish rather than letting it die. However, if you are just going to place the fish into your main tank because you don't have the time or inclination to set a up a quarantine tank, then don't bother. It will only result in the death of the fish and the lightening of your wallet.
Once you decide on a particular fish, don't be afraid to ask the store to hold it for you. A good store will always hold a fish for you (don't patronize stores that won't!). Also, ask to see the fish eat. If the fish is healthy and eating, then it most likely is a good specimen. Finally, check the fish closely for spots, irregular patches, missing scales, and wounds. Torn fins will usually heal and are not much of a problem.

Bringing the Fish Home
Once you get the fish home you should set the bag in the destination tank, thus allowing the temperature to equalize. After about a half hour or so, add a 1/4 cup of tank water to the bag. Repeat this process once every 15 minutes for an hour, removing any water if the bag gets too full. Any water you remove from the bag should be disposed of. It will most likely contain parasites and other bad things.
After you have the fish acclimated to your tank's water chemistry, there are a couple of things you can do. You can place the fish directly into the main tank and hope for the best, you can give the fish a freshwater dip and then place it into the tank, or you could place the fish into a quarantine tank.
The best scenario is to give the fish a freshwater dip and place it into a quarantine tank. Keep the fish in the quarantine tank for 2 weeks and watch for signs of disease. If the fish gets sick, you can medicate the quarantine tank without affecting the chemistry of the main tank. If you are going to quarantine the fish, you should acclimate the fish to the quarantine tank's chemistry, not the main tank.
If you don't use a quarantine tank, then it is a very good idea to give the fish a freshwater bath before placing it into your main tank. The freshwater bath will cause any parasites attached onto the fish to let go and remain in the freshwater (to die a lonely death).
Otherwise, parasites left to their own will reproduce very rapidly in captivity and usually infect all the fish in the tank.
To give a marine fish a freshwater dip, prepare a container of dechlorinated freshwater with a similar chemistry of the destination tank. That is, make sure the pH and temperature are as close as possible to the destination tank (this is critical!) . Remove the fish from the bag and place the fish into the container for 3 to 5 minutes. Watch the fish closely for signs of stress. If the fish stops moving or begins to float, remove it immediately and place it in the destination tank (either the main or quarantine tank).
In placing the fish into the freshwater bath, never pour the fish into the container. Use a Tupperware container or a net to capture the fish and place it into the dip. The store water should never be introduced to the freshwater bath, or any of your tanks. This water usually contains all sorts of nasty diseases and organisms.
If you put the fish into the main tank and it comes down with an illness, it should be removed to a quarantine tank immediately. Do not risk spreading the illness to the other fish in the tank (although it may already be too late).

Buying the fishes

What’s the Difference Between Salt Water and usual Fresh Water?
So what's different about saltwater versus freshwater? As alluded to above, saltwater fish are more sensitive to changes in their environment. Freshwater fish are found in rivers, streams, ponds and lakes, saltwater fish are collected from oceans and seas. As such, their natural environment is quite stable and they do not readily adapt to major changes in water chemistry or temperature. In addition, since nearly all saltwater fish and invertebrates are captured in the wild (many freshwater fish are either tank or pond raised), there are greater risks associated with handling and shipping. The risks, shipping and collecting costs, and supply-and-demand also make saltwater specimens more expensive than their freshwater counterparts.
Important Factors
The important factors of a saltwater tank are pH, nitrate, salinity, and temperature. During the cycling process, ammonia and nitrite can also be a problem. These elements are not different from those of a freshwater tank, but the degree to which they may stray is vastly different.

PH of a Marine Tank
The pH of a marine tank is one of the most important factors. Marine fish and invertebrates are especially sensitive to rapid changes in their pH, so keeping pH fluctuations within 0.2 each day is very critical. All marine creatures like a pH near 8.2, ranging from 8.0 to 8.4. The pH should never drop below 8.0.

The next important factor is nitrates. Saltwater fish are more tolerant of higher nitrates than invertebrates (in general), but still like nitrates lower than 20ppm, with less than 5ppm being required for most invertebrates. Reef keepers tend to quote anything higher than 0.5ppm as unacceptable, but this is an unrealistic goal for fish-only or minimal invertebrate tanks.

The next factor of concern is salinity, or specific gravity. Loosely (very loosely), specific gravity is the amount of salt in the water. Many aquarists treat specific gravity and salinity as one and the same, but technically speaking, they are not. Specific gravity is temperature dependent and salinity is not. Most hydrometers (hydrometers measure specific gravity) are calibrated to read the
correct specific gravity at 59F. Since this is a little low for most tanks, hobbyist grade hydrometers are usually temperature corrected to read the correct specific gravity at or around 77F (25C).

Specific Gravity
In any case, most creatures will acclimate to almost any specific gravity (within reason), so long as it does not vary widely. The specific gravity of a saltwater tank should be around 1.022. It's worth noting that the salinity of natural sea water varies according to location (ocean, to lagoons, to estuaries), ranging anywhere from 1.020 to 1.030. So different fish might be native to different salinities, and may need some time to acclimate to a different salinity.

Finally, the temperature of a saltwater tank is basically the same as a freshwater tank. Anywhere between 75F to 80F (24C - 27C), with 77F (25C) being a good midpoint. Wild temperature variations increase fish stress and invariably lead to disease, so a good heater (or chiller) is a must. As an aside, submersible heaters tend to be preferred over hang on the back kinds. Also, they seem to be somewhat more reliable than the less expensive `clip-on' kind.
Other factors worth keeping an eye on are alkalinity and calcium. The alkalinity of a saltwater tank is really critical for long term success. Without a decent alkalinity reading, the pH of the tank will drop over time and endanger the lives of your pets. The alkalinity of a saltwater tank should be around 2.5 to 3.5 meq/l.
Calcium is more of a reef keeper's issue than a fish-only tank. However, once you advance and wish to keep invertebrates, monitoring calcium levels becomes a must. Without calcium, and other trace elements, invertebrates can not properly form their exoskeletons and will not survive. Calcium levels should be 400 to 450 ppm Ca++.
Some of the more easier to keep invertebrates, such as shrimps, also need regular supplements of iodine and other trace elements. Most foods will supply the necessary amounts of these elements. However, if you are using a protein skimmer, these elements will be stripped from the water and need to be replaced manually.

What Equipment do you Need?
Now that we are comfortable with the basic factors of a saltwater aquarium, let's look into what is needed to run a successful tank.
The components needed to run a successful saltwater tank depends a lot on who you talk to. You should never operate solely under the advice of one person. For example, many people advocate using under gravel filters for biological filtration. This however, must be tempered with wisdom. A saltwater tank running an under gravel filter (UGF) with minimal circulation will be much more work than a than a system running a wet/dry filter and a couple of power heads. Wet/Dry filters tend to require less maintenance, as UGF's tend to become clogged over time.

Tank size
One of the most important decisions in starting a saltwater aquarium will be the size of the tank. The basic rule of thumb is the bigger the better. A larger tank will be easier to control and gives a bit more leeway for mistakes (which are inevitable). The smallest tank for beginners should be no less than 20 gallons, with 55 gallons being even better. For someone versed in fish keeping (i.e., converting from fresh to saltwater), a 10 or 15 gallon tank will work, but is not suggested. In general, fish like long, wide tanks. The more surface area a tank has, the better the gas exchange will be and the happier the fish will be.

Fish Densities
Before finalizing on a tank size, remember that fish densities are much lower for saltwater than freshwater. That is, you can not put as many fish in a saltwater tank as you can in a freshwater tank. Putting more than 2 saltwater fish in 10 gallon tank is asking for trouble. A general rule of thumb is 4" (10cm) of small-to-medium fish per 10 gallons, or 2" (5cm) of larger/fast growing fish per 10 gallons. This is just a rough estimate of the number of fish. There is no exact number since finding the stocking density has to take into account the filtration, maintenance, feeding schedule, etc..
Beyond the number of fish you wish to keep, the tank's size will also affect your filtration and lighting choices, both in cost and design. Tanks which are 48 inches (122cm) long are usually cheaper to light because the lamps are more readily available. However, the larger the tank, the more light you will need to provide your inhabitants. Moreover, a larger tank needs efficient filtration to keep the system thriving. A good size tank is around 55 gallons.
As a note, scrutinize hoods carefully. Many of them are designed for 48" tanks, but require two 24" lamps rather than one 48" lamp. (24" lamps are usually more expensive than 48" lamps.)

Avoid Direct Exposure to Sunlight
Once you have decided on a tank, make sure you have a place to put it. The tank should not be in direct sunlight or in an area which is very drafty. Also, make very certain the stand will be capable of holding the weight of the tank, plus substrate, plus rocks, plus water. In total, a 55 gallon tank will probably weigh over 800 pounds.

Substate Selection
After selecting the tank, consideration must be given to the substrate. It is best to use a calcareous substrate such as crushed coral or dolomite. These substrates will, at least initially, help buffer the water by adding ions to the buffering system. Generally the substrate should not be so tiny as to get sucked into the filter or
pumps, and not so large as to make the tank unsightly. Also, some fish (e.g., Gobies) like smaller grades of substrate over larger ones. Something in the 2-5mm department seems average.
Live sand is one substrate which has recently gained a fair amount of publicity. This technology is really in its infancy and is not recommended for beginners. You can find more information in the ARCHIVE.

Filtration System
After you select a substrate, consider the filtration system you plan to use. Your choice in filtration may impact the amount to substrate you need. A UGF or RUGF filter should have about 2-3" (5cm) of medium grade (2-3mm) substrate covering the filter plate. You do not need substrate when you use non-UGF filters (e.g., hang-on-the-back power filters), but, most people use between a 1/2" to 1" for such tanks. It's interesting to note that too much substrate in a non-UGF system might lead to dead spots, which can kill your inhabitants (a plug for
regular gravel cleaning).

Next, consider the decorations, of which there are a cornucopia of choices. Dead coral, lava rock, tufa rock, live rock, and many more. Coral pieces are the most popular, but are also some of the most expensive. Lava and tufa rock are inexpensive and may also be stacked to make interesting reef looking tanks. Live rock is one of those buzz words that people like to throw around and one which gets a lot of hype. Live rock is simply rock taken from a reef system which has been populated by many different organisms.

Live Rocks: A natural environment
Many aquarist dedicated to fish-only setups are beginning to discover the benefits of having live rock in their system. Live rock produces a more natural environment for the fish and also aids in nitrification and de-nitrification. This implies that the live rock is more that just a decoration, it is actually part of the filtration system. Although it is difficult to use live rock as the sole source of filtration in a fish-only setup, it certainly can be used effectively to reduce nitrates. The use of live rock in fish-only setups must be closely monitored though. If nutrient levels in the aquarium are high, the live rock will be the first to demonstrate this fact. Live rock in presence of high nutrient levels will grow unhealthy amounts of hair algae, and in some cases, cyanobacteria (slime algae). To avoid outbreaks of plague algaes, a few simple rules must be followed.
First, you must start will high quality live rock live rock which is highly encrusted in coralline algae. Avoid live rock which already has hair algae growing on it. Regular additions of calcium may also be needed to keep the coralline algae thriving. Next, you need to keep nitrate levels low (

10ppm) and ensure you have nearly undetectable levels of phosphate (

0.02 ppm). Finally, feed sparingly decomposing food is one of the main avenues for introducing phosphate/nitrate and contributing to alga e problems.
If you plan to add live rock to your system, remember live rock contains living organisms, so they can be killed along with any other organism in your tank. It's a good idea to wait until after the tank is set up before buying live rock. There is no good place to store live rock other than in a circulating tank. Trying to do otherwise will be disastrous and costly. Also, if you are going to put live rock into an established tank, the rock must be cured live rock.

RUGF: Reverse flow setups
There are certain caveats that should be noted. If you decide to use a UGF, reverse flow setups are better. A RUGF will keep nitrates lower by keeping the substrate cleaner and will aid water movement and circulation.

Proper Water Movement
In addition to good filtration, water movement is a must in saltwater aquaria. Without circulation the system will be unstable and usually tends to grow unhealthy amounts of algae and other undesirables. The easiest way to achieve water movement is to have a power head in the tank for circulation. One must be careful though, a medium sized power head in a small tank will easily make a tornado- like environment and cause problems for small or slow moving creatures.

Wet/Dry Filter: best filtration systems for a fish-only tank
One of the best possible filtration systems for a fish-only marine tank is a wet/dry filter. Although commercial setups are fairly expensive, a wet/dry filter can be made very inexpensively at home with little effort. The ARCHIVE has a lot of information about constructing your own W/D filter system (as well as other fish related projects).
Many people advocate wet/dry filters for marine tanks stating they are the only acceptable solution. This is simply not true. Any one of the popular filtration systems may be used for a marine tank. The key to success is providing adequate biological filtration without trapping excess detritus. Trapping detritus produces nitrates and inevitably leads to problem algae outbreaks. Which ever filtration system you choose, be sure to rinse the mechanical filtration media at least once a week. Ideally you should rinse the media in old saltwater from the
tank to minimize the disruption of any nitrifying bacteria growing on the media.

Protein Skimming
A part of filtration which most recently has gained wide spread acceptance is protein skimming, or foam fractionation. Protein skimmers are a must for a decently stocked saltwater tank as they strip dissolved organic particles from the water before they can be converted to nitrates.
There are simply too many models and manufacturers to discuss all of them, but the two basic designs are air-driven and venture:
Air-Driven Protein Skimmers
Air-driven protein skimmers use a wooden or glass air stone to produce bubbles in a column of water.
Venturi Skimmers
Venturi skimmers use a venturi valve to inject bubbles into the water column. Both air-driven and venturi have co-current and counter-current designs, with counter-current protein skimmers being far superior to co-current models.
In deciding on a protein skimmer, there are some basic things to consider. Air-driven skimmers use air stones which must be replaced on a regular basis (usually every month or so). Additionally, they usually require more maintenance than venturi skimmers to maintain proper skimming. Venturi skimmers on the other hand require very powerful pumps to achieve effective protein skimming. They are usually more expensive than air-driven skimmers as well. Also, any skimmer smaller than 24" should be avoided for heavily loaded tanks.

Cost of the Skimmer
Whichever type of skimmer you buy, the final cost of the skimmer must not overlook the need for an external water pump and potentially an air pump. A $200 venturi protein skimmer usually doesn't include a $150 high pressure pump a fact that most people seem to miss the first time around.

Lighting Requirements
With the setup nearly complete, you need to consider your near-term and far-term lighting requirements. If you plan on having a fish-only tank forever, then you only need a single full spectrum bulb. However, if you plan to advance in your hobby and keep more sensitive animals such as anemones, you must carefully select your lighting (and filtration as well). Anemones require very strong, full spectrum lighting, supplemented with actinic blue. The general rule of thumb is a minimum of 3-4 watts per gallon, with the higher values for deeper tanks (greater than 18-24 inches). The standard Perfecto hood will not provide enough light to keep anemones alive (or other light-loving invertebrates for that matter).
For a beginning aquarist, fluorescent lighting is probably the best. Metal halide lighting is really for reef keeping and heavily planted freshwater tanks. In any case, if you want or will need something more than a single lamp, your choices are limited. The best thing to do is to build your own hood with custom lighting, or buy one through mail order. Fish store prices usually preclude aquarists from getting proper lighting.
If you select a custom fluorescent hood, then you will have to choose between normal output (NO), high output (HO) and very high output (VHO). Most people with fish-only tanks stay with NO lamps. Both HO and VHO lamps require special ballasts, are more expensive than NO lamps, and need to be replaced more often (more $).

Marine Salt
One critical item in a saltwater tank that doesn't really fit into any of the above topics is that which sets it apart - the marine salt. There are many different rands of salt on the market, all of them being basically the same. The only difference among them is whether or not they have nitrates and phosphates. Both of these are very bad for aquaria, so salts which have them must be avoided. Good salts include Instant Ocean (IO), IO Reef Crystals, and Coralife. As a note, standard rock salt can not be used as a substitute for marine salt mixes. Rock salt does not contain the important elements that marine creatures need to survive.
To measure the specific gravity of your saltwater you will need a hydrometer. There are two basic types of hydrometers available to hobbyist, the floating kind which usually measures temperature as well, and the plastic kind with a floating arm. It's basically a toss up as to which one to get, but the plastic kind has a larger scale and is easier to read.

Test Kits
The final component needed to run a successful saltwater aquarium is test kits. In order of importance, they are pH, nitrate, phosphate, alkalinity, nitrite, ammonia and Calcium (for reef tanks, the calcium test kit is more important than nitrite and ammonia). A good pH test kit is critical, and an electronic pH monitor is even better. Ammonia and nitrite tests are only needed occasionally after cycling. A nitrate test kit is a good overall test for water quality after the tank becomes established. You should perform a pH test once a week and a nitrate test every two weeks. The other kits are not necessary, but may be needed to solve particular problems or after you advance to more delicate creatures.

Setting Up
The following section briefly explains what you need to do to initially setup your tank.

Stand Placement
The first thing you need to do is to place the stand in it's final position. Make sure the stand is level in all direction. Next, place a piece of Styrofoam or rubber on the top of stand where the tank will sit. This eliminates small gaps between the stand and tank reducing pressure points which might cause the tank to crack after being filled. After the stand is positioned, place the tank on the stand.
Make sure the tank is level in all directions.
Note: a tank that is not level has a great chance of cracking after it is filled.
Where ever you place the tank now is most likely where it will remain for its lifetime. You should never move a tank that has water in it since this is a sure way to crack it.

Filtration Installation
Once the tank is placed, install the filtration. If it is an UGF, then place the filter plate(s) on the bottom of the tank. If it is a wet/dry, then connect the pre-filter and all the hoses.

Prior to adding the substrate, rinse it with plain water until the water runs clear, and then add it to the tank. On top of the substrate arrange the decorations. Now the saltwater may be added. The easiest way to add water to a tank is to place a plate on the substrate and pour the water onto the plate.

Adding Dechlorinated Water and Salt Mix
When initially setting up your tank it is okay to fill the tank with dechlorinated water and then add the salt mix. However, subsequent water changes need to be premixed. Pre-mixing saltwater is done for two reasons, it gives time for the salt to thoroughly dissolve and also allows the water factors to stabilize. Adding 10 gallons of freshwater and then an appropriate amount of salt to an established tank is a big mistake (and an excellent way to kill your inhabitants).
One note on making saltwater. The source water you use for mixing is extremely important to the overall success and health of the system. There is more to be said about this later, but for now, realize that tap water probably won't be good enough for your tank.
When all the water is in place, start up the filter system and check for any leaks (of both water and air). Let the tank sit for a day or so to clarify (with the filtration running). Now you can add fish.

How many fish you add for the cycling process depends on the size of the tank and the cycling method you choose. You can cycle a tank without any fish at all. In this case, you add ammonium chloride to simulate fish waste and an initial source of nitrifying bacteria. It is best to get a bacteria culture from an established saltwater tank. This can be in the form of some substrate, old filter media, or some macro algae such as Caulerpa spp.. Live rocks are also an excellent source of nitrifying bacteria.
If you choose to cycle your tank using fish, which is infinitely more interesting than a tank full of circulating water, the number of fish needed depends on the size of the tank. In any case, two fish are preferable to one. If one fish dies, you will still have one to finish the cycling. Of course the second fish may pass on too. If all the fish die, then you have to remove all the contaminants from the tank
and introduce more organisms (read this as start all over).
Cycling doesn't have to be limited to fish though. Crabs and mollusks can also be used. However, since these organisms don't produce much waste, it will take longer to cycle the tank.

Watch the video: Fish Ill Never Buy Again: Chinese Algae Eater (July 2021).