Frequently asked questions
What is the best size aquarium to start with?
The best size of aquarium to start with depends on the space available. Be a large or small space we are happy to provide you with all kinds of aquariums any shape and any size.
What type of fish would be best for a child’s first aquarium?
The best fish for a childs first aquarium are Platies, Guppies, Goldfish, Koi carps, Gouramis these fish are easy to look after and prove to be the best for biggener fish keepers.
What should I do if I have a power cut on my aquarium?
First and foremost - don't panic! Most aquarium inhabitants can happily survive this catastrophy for1-2 hours More critical is the water quality, as without filtration and water movement, these are the factors most likely to cause problems. Turn off the filter, as without oxygenated water flowing through the biological media, harmful toxins can build up that are discharged into the aquarium when the power is restored. If the power is out for an hour or more, remove some filter media and store it in a bucket with a little water from the aquarium to keep it moist as the bacteria will survive better out of water with exposure to atmospheric air. However tempted you may be, never feed the fish if the filtration isn't working.
A real life-saving emergency piece of kit can be assembled using a battery operated air pump and a chemical filter such as Polyfilter, which will remove ammonia and nitrite thanks to the action of special resins. In the case of marine tanks, a battery operated air pump will ensure water movement around liverock, which will maintain water quality. In the absence of a better option, syphoning water from the tank and pouring it back in can help maintain oxygen levels if performed as needed.
The most important aspect of any loss of life-support equipment is the effect on water quality once feeding is resumed. Be prepared to carry out a series of water changes in the days after a power loss and treat your tank as if it were the unstable system it was in the early days of maturation.
How often and much do I need to change my aquarium water and clean my filter?
A good general rule is 'keep your water clean and your filter dirty' and this is really the secret of successful fish keeping. Although good filtration will keep water crystal clear, it is important to remember that although clear, it may be full of the accumulated nitrates, phosphates, pheromones and other byproducts of daily life inside a fish tank. Properly carried out, a water change is always beneficial and if you follow a good regime of regular weekly 25% water changes your pets will prosper. Old water is great for fuelling algae growth and making your tank look tired as well as depressing the immune systems of your fish. Water change rates can be tailored to your stocking levels and feeding rates - messy fish such as large cichlids and goldfish thrive on large frequent changes, whereas Tanganyikan cichlids and reef tanks like smaller changes of around 10% at a time to ensure more stability.
Filters need to be dirty to work properly but there is still some regular maintenance jobs to be done. Biological media such as foams or ceramics need a rinse in water from the aquarium when they start to slow the flow rates appreciably. If you have the option of cleaning 50% of your media at a time, you can make this a more thorough clean but always use aquarium water and never expose mature media to chlorinated tap water. By contrast, chemical media such as carbon or phosphate removing resins become less effective when dirty, as bacteria will literally seal them and prevent them from working. Mechanical filter media such as floss, will work best when kept clean and changed at regular intervals.
Depending on various factors, a monthly rinse of filter media coinciding with that week's water change might be the ideal basis for a regular maintenance regime.
Can I keep Goldfish in a bowl?
Goldfish are potentially large (up to 30cm/12") messy pond fish that generate a lot of waste, both visible and invisible. Although most bowls are too small for their unlucky inhabitants, it is the lack of filtration that is the biggest issue rather than the size and shape. New generation fish bowls such as the Biorb provide the classic bowl shape with the essential ingredient of efficient filtration, which removes the toxic fish waste which otherwise poisons the fish, who is after all, unable to pop out to use the loo! Neglected fish bowls also develop these filter bacteria but have to start from scratch when the whole thing is cleaned out. The lack of space causes an otherwise healthy fish to become stunted and develop problems with internal organs which can remain unseen but deadly over time. To give your goldfish a happy and long retirement, move him into a nice garden pond or large aquarium where he can grow old gracefully.
There are a few species of fish that are perfect for small bowls like guppies, beta splendors,barbs,minows etc.
How do I get rid of the nuisance snails in my tropical aquarium?
Nuisance snails are often a sign of excessive organic matter in the aquarium such as uneaten food, plant remains or detritus. Reviewing feeding regimes and hoovering out debris with a gravel cleaning syphon are often enough to control numbers. For more effective eradication, a number of options are available. Although snail killing chemicals can be purchased, these are often damaging to sensitive fish and can be lethal if dosage rates are not carefully calculated. Snails are often only temporarily controlled and need to be removed by hand after treatment. Although not specifically designed to target them, Discus worming treatments are often toxic to snails and can be used without affecting most species of fish. Other ways of removing snails include catching them with either specially made traps, tablets of fish food placed under an over turned saucer or by placing a well-washed lettuce leaf in the aquarium and removing them by hand.
Less hands-on techniques involve using organisms that eat snails and these include a range of animals. For large aquaria, Clown loaches (Chromobotia macracanthus) can be used but are capable of out-growing most small home aquaria. Their smaller relatives the Zebra loach (Botia striata) and Dwarf Chain loach (Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki) are a much better choice for the smaller aquarium and both enjoy eating snails. Keep these social fishes in small groups. Other snail-eating fish include the nocturnal Talking catfishes and both Spotted (Agamyxis pectinifrons) and Striped (Platydoras costatus) species are available.
For tanks where adding fish is not an option, the Assassin snail (Anentome helena) is a slow but effective means of controlling small snails and ideal for small aquaria. Once the tank is free of snails, the assassins will eat frozen food or meaty sinking pellets.
Can I keep Goldfish with Tropical fish?
When temperatures are high, nobody keeps coldwater fish. Likewise, in areas of the world where the climate means that even an unheated aquarium runs at tropical temperatures, it is often common practice to keep Fancy Goldfish in with surprisingly different tank mates such as Discus.
Given the delicate nature of some of the highly bred forms of Goldfish, we can see that a nice warm tank is a great environment for them and they will often thrive.
The big problem here is that as a fish with a metabolic rate designed to function at a much lower temperature, Goldfish are simply too messy and demanding to live with tropical species at their preferred temperature. To use an analogy, it would be like attempting to keep rabbits in a stable with a horse! A single goldfish can create a waste load that can lead to levels of pollution that tropical fish cannot tolerate and even if the water remains clear, organic waste levels can lead to fatally high nitrate levels or at the extreme, a filter clogged with solid waste.
Another side effect of keeping coldwater fishes at tropical temperatures is the much shorter lifespan that will arise due to the fish always being kept at unnaturally high metabolic rates. By keeping your coldwater fishes cool, they will enjoy a much longer, healthier life.
Why are my guppies fighting?
Like most livebearers, the life of a guppy is pretty much all about sex and violence. The reason why males are naturally colourful is to impress females and to help intimidate rivals. Like many social species, keeping small numbers of these fish actually amplifies the tensions that would normally be spread through larger groups.
As well as keeping a group large enough to spread aggression, outnumbering males with females and providing plenty of hiding places for weaker fish in the form of plants will help.
How do I know if my water is too hard or too soft for my fish?
In a word: Homework.
It's fair enough to say that your local fish shop is likely to use tap water to fill their tanks and on the whole, captive-bred tropical fish are a hardy and adaptable lot. Some groups of fish are rather less forgiving, though and Rift-lake Cichlids and Discus are examples of these more demanding specialists.
By testing the hardness of your tap water you can easily determine its suitability for use and select your fish to suit. Sod's law generally dictates that hobbyists with hard water want to keep soft water fish and vice versa. If that's the case then using RO water can free you from the tyranny of tap water completely and buffers can be used to make the softest water suitable for even those Mexican natives that are used to swimming in liquid rock!
Is it normal for fish to rub against rocks?
Fish will get the occasional itch and seeing a fish flick against a rock isn't necessarily a cause for alarm. But if it's performed with any regularity, it's worth checking for ammonia or nitrite and chlorine in untreated tap water, as these can cause irritation.
Other sources of the same symptoms include particulates in the water from unwashed sand or detritus and more seriously, flukes or white spot parasites. As with most things fish-related, a water test will rule out a whole host of problems.
Why are fish not eating?
If you’ve added a recognisable source of food for the species concerned then the answer is usually stress.
The first thing to rule out is water quality, most fishes will quickly lose their appetites when exposed to ammonia or nitrite or inappropriate water chemistry.
It’s also fairly normal for anxious fish to prioritise security over foraging, in other words a new fish will often be nervous of entering open water to feed – especially in the case of reef fish or shy, nocturnal tropicals.
Some wild-caught fish have very firm ideas about what’s edible and at one extreme are the species that only feed on live fish or corals. A bit of homework will help you identify dietary specialists such as Butterflyfish and Filefish that only eat living Acropora corals for example.
How do I know if my fish are ill?
The answer to this is observation. By knowing what’s normal behaviour and deportment for your pets you can tell if they’re behaving strangely. For instance, swimming upside-down is normal for certain catfish, reef fishes and cichlids but definitely a sign of problems in goldfish!
Obvious signs of ill-heath are clamped fins, increased gill rates, flicking against decor and lethargic behaviour. The very first response to these symptoms should be a water test and often this will reveal the cause of the problem – after all, your pets will be very keen to die of old age and have immune systems that will combat disease when environmental conditions allow. Once you’ve ruled this out, take a photo on a camera phone and seek advice from an experienced member of shop staff. As treatment can be different depending on the pathogen involved, adding a medication ‘just in case’ can delay the use of a more effective cure after a proper diagnosis.
What is R.O. water?
Reverse osmosis, or R.O. water for short, is water that has been stripped of it's mineral content by a membrane that only allows pure water molecules to pass through it's matrix. The result is purified water that has very low hardness and pollutant levels and can be used for keeping demanding fish or marine invertebrates such as Discus or Corals. Although R.O. water is ideal for expert aquarists keeping delicate species, it is equally suitable for the average community tank - especially in areas where tap water contains high levels of nitrate or phosphate.
As R.O. water is so low in essential minerals, it is normally necessary to add buffering products to prevent problems with pH. Different buffers are available for freshwater or marine use and should be added before using the water in your aquarium.