Which Aquarium Filter is Right for Me?
Guest Post by Michael David
Installing a fish tank can be a great way to add some color and life to your home or workspace. It can even provide a sense of peace in the midst of a stressful day. However, keeping your fish happy and healthy goes beyond the daily sprinkle of fish food. Proper aquarium setup and adequate water filtration is crucial to the survival of all aquarium life.
Why Do I Need a Filter?
Let me answer this question with an example from the news. A few months ago, Carnival Cruise Line’s Triumph experienced a power failure during a four-day excursion to the Caribbean. This power failure also disabled the ship’s septic system, resulting in backed-up toilets and human excrement littering every floor. These unsanitary conditions caused many of the passengers to become sick. Had they been out there any longer, the consequences could have been much worse.
Much like a cruise ship, your fish tank is an enclosed environment with a high-density population. In nature, fish do not normally need to share such a small space. However, the higher concentration of fish leads to a larger amount of fish waste. If left unchecked, fish waste releases ammonia, which is harmful to fish. Without some kind of filtration system in place, your fish will get sick and eventually die.
How is the Water Filtered?
In nature, this ammonia is removed from the water through biological filtration. Naturally-occurring bacteria will oxidize and break down the ammonia into a less toxic form which can then be absorbed by plant life.
Installing a biological filter is one way to replicate this break-down process. In addition to installing a biological filter, it’s also wise to plant some underwater plants to absorb any additional toxins not initially broken down by the bacteria. Biological filters require very little maintenance, however, the bacterial colonies will take some time (six weeks minimum) to develop, so avoid adding too many fish too quickly to your new aquarium.
If you’re looking for something very low-maintenance, you might consider an under-gravel filter. As the name suggests, these filters are placed beneath the aquarium’s gravel, moving water through the gravel and creating ideal conditions for the bacteria to grow. Wet-dry filters are another good choice, particularly if you want to install a saltwater aquarium. These filters are exposed to both the water and the air, which allows for the maximum number of bacterial colonies to spawn.
Unlike biological filtration, which breaks down waste products, mechanical filtration simply removes undissolved waste materials (excrement, uneaten food, and other debris) from the water. Mechanical filters usually involve a water pump as well as a mesh material that catches debris. And while this is a great way to remove waste from the aquarium before any ammonia is released, mechanical filters do require more frequent maintenance and thorough cleaning before placing them back in the water.
Both power and internal power filters are the most popular and effective mechanical filter models on the market. Power filters hang off the back of your tank while internal power filters are placed inside the aquarium itself. Many have replaceable cartridges, which makes for fast and easy maintenance.
Another popular method for filtering waste from your fish tank is through chemical or active carbon filtration. Activated carbon contains numerous microscopic pores, which allow it to absorb any dissolved chemicals in your aquarium. This is a fairly low-maintenance method to keeping your tank water clean, but you will need to replace your carbon every couple months or so.
While canister filters can be adjusted to provide both biological and mechanical filtration, they are most often used for chemical filtration. The advantage to using a canister filter for active carbon filtration is that they are significantly larger than most other aquarium filters, meaning you won’t have to replace your carbon as often as you would with smaller filters.
Michael David is a freelance journalist and blogger living in New York City. Michael loves writing about DIY projects, home improvement, and garden-related topics, and suggests you look into aquarium filters.
Trick or Treat starts early with The Allard’s Clownfish
This clown is all decked out for halloween! Its dazzling attire will leave black cats and white ghosts in the dark. The costume is black and orange with bright white bars to rival any glolight. Its bars have a bluish cast and it tail is all white too. It looks a lot like another popular Clown, the Clarkii Anemonefish, but that fellow is a bit more subdued with a yellow tail.
The showy Allard’s Clownfish Amphiprion allardi will make a splash in any aquarium and is highly sought after. But although it is much desired, obtaining it is the trick. This Twobar Anemonefish is rather rare, and when it is found it can cost a pretty penny. But if you can get your hands on one, or better yet on a pair, you’ll have a treat beyond compare. Trick or treat just doesn’t get any better than this!
Get ready to be bewitched! Learn more about the handsome but evasive Allard’s Anemonefish, its habitat and care!
Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
Oman Anemonefish, A clownfish you may have to dive to see!
The Oman Anemonefish Amphiprion omanensis may look like other clownfish at first glance. But it has some awesome “stand alone” characteristics that you just won’t find in another clown.
For starters it is one of only two clownfish whose tailfin sports a majorly forked lyretail. To make it even more unique its tailfin also has streamers.
There’s several more curious facts about it too, which really make it a stand out from its relatives. These range from more distinctions in its looks, to its behaviors and unique breeding circumstances.
It makes an awesome aquarium fish that’s very hardy and great for any level of aquarist.
But… the Oman Clownfish is so rare, that if you want to see it you may very well have to go diving off the Arabian Penisula. It was said sometime in the early 2000′s that the Sultan of Oman simply doesn’t want anyone “touching his fish”! Go figure! Better yet… go diving!
Learn more about the curious and rare Oman Anemonefish, including its habitat and care!
Caring For Your Aging Dog
Guest Post by Morgan Sims
Having a dog as part of your family is a fulfilling, enjoyable experience for everyone, dogs and humans alike. Both you and your dog will benefit from having unconditional love and companionship. However, one downside of letting the family pup into your heart is that he won’t live as long as you do, and eventually you will find yourself providing extra care for your four-legged buddy as he ages. All dogs need to have good care, but here are three things you can do to make your aging dogs final years both enjoyable and rewarding.
Reduce The Risk Of Injury
Older dogs require more thought than younger ones when it comes to their activity level. It may be tempting to nix the daily walk all together once your best friend starts to weaken with age, but don’t stop just yet. In reality, maintaining a consistent exercise regimen will actually increase their longevity and enhance their mental clarity.
Older dogs often start having problems with their hips and joints and may be diagnosed with arthritis. This is a common problem. And the heavier your dog is, the more likely he will suffer from these problems. He may need a little extra help getting around the house than he used to as he ages. Household add-ons like pet ramps or pet will help him do the things that a simple hop used to achieve, such as laying on the couch, getting in and out of the family vehicle, and walking up and down steps. Installing these simple ramps throughout your home will reduce the risk of injury to dogs with conditions like osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, and other common ailments. The biggest thing you want to achieve is minimizing how much jumping your dog has to do. Even just purchasing pet stairs for such things as helping them climb up onto your bed can be a big help for them.
Monitor Food Intake and Diet Requirements
While maintaining a proper diet is crucial at any age, feeding Fido the right way as he ages can make a tremendous impact on his energy level. Many brands make formulas for aging dogs, as their needs change over their lifetime. Check with your veterinarian and follow their advice; after all, they have a vested interest in the overall health of your dog, and have likely been treating your dog for many years. As mentioned earlier, you will want to keep your dog at a healthy weight as he ages as well. This is because overweight dogs are more prone to health and movement disorders.
Another point to mention is the use of elevated dog bowls. As dogs age they have a harder and harder time bending over to eat and drink, and it can be a big help to simply provide them with elevated dog dishes. This will reduce their need to bend over as much and reduce strain on their joints!
There are so many theories out there on the best diet for dogs that it’s probably going to be difficult to decide what’s right for you and yours. If you have a smartphone, you can easily get more advice on diet requirements and even make use of the many apps that are available for calculating canine diets. Just as there are calorie counter applications for humans, many dog diet calculators are available as well! They can be pretty handy!
Make Them Comfortable
As your dog ages, he will become less likely to want to play along and keep up with the rest of the family. Keep him comfortable by providing a comfortable place to lay such as a memory foam bed in each room of the house he frequents. When he weas younger it may have sufficed to keep your dog bed in the living room or bedroom, but now it might be a good idea to place one in each room of the house. This way, no matter where he goes, your aging dog will have a soft place to lay down. He also won’t have to lay directly on the floor or walk across the house get to his bed.
Watching your dog go through the aging process can be a slow and painful experience for both him and your family. Understanding what he is going through, anticipating his needs, and doing everything in your power to ease his pain and make him comfortable will surely make your final years together enjoyable ones.
Morgan Sims is a writer and recent graduate who loves all things tech and social media. When she’s not trying out new gadgets and tweeting from her Samsung Galaxy S4, she spends most of her time with her mini doxie, cooking, and staying active. Follow her @MorganSims00
Clarkii Clownfish, Dream Fish for the Beginning Saltwater Aquarist!
The Clarkii Clownfish Amphiprion clarkii has it all! If you’re new to the saltwater aquarium hobby but looking for a fabulous eye catcher, this guys right on the money. A handsome devil with an attitude, it struts its stuff in style.
This is a very hardy clownfish that will make any aquarist proud. Whether your a beginner or advanced, a fish only keeper or a mini reef keeper, the Clark’s Anemonefish can work in almost any tank. And when it comes to needing a host anemone, this fish can take it or leave it. But if you want to keep it with an anemeone it will happily accept any of the 10 regularly available clown-hosting types. Yeah, this guy has it all!
Learn more about the Clarkii Clownfish and how to keep it.
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Sulcata Tortoise!
Has it always been your dream to have a gigantic tortoise? I’m guessing not! But just in case it is, the Sulcata Tortoise may be right up your alley! The pet store I worked at sold a couple of these guys, but it was usually only on special order. We didn’t normally keep them in the store on a regular basis. People who purchase these tortoises usually do so because they are very intrigued by their size as well as their many great pet qualities!
About the Sulcata Tortoise
I bet your first question is: Just how big do these guys get? Well, the males often reach 2 and a half feet in length and can weigh up to 150 pounds! Females come a little smaller than males, reaching a little under 2 feet in length and weighing up to 75 pounds. These are big tortoises! Without regard for its size, the Sulcata Tortoise has many attributes which make keeping it as a pet appealing. They are very tame, have good dispositions, are friendly, and don’t get sick easily.
The Sulcata Tortoise Geochelone sulcata, also called the African Spurred Tortoise, is the third largest tortoise in the world, coming in behind only the tortoises from the Galapagos and the Aldabras. The natural habitat of these huge tortoises consists of hot temperatures and dry scrubland areas where they can make deep burrows and have plenty of plants to eat. North-Central Africa is their native continent, just south of the Sahara Desert. There is cause to worry about them as they are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is rare to find one in the wild now, as well.
Caring For Your Sulcata Tortoise
Before acquiring a Sulcata Tortoise, you will want to be fully prepared. You can get one as a baby, but these guys grow fast! Make sure you have a large area or terrarium for them as they grow to their full size. If you keep them outside, you should also provide some sort of enclosure where they can go to get out of the elements. Provide them with heat lamps and different props and shelters to make them feel more comfortable and at home. These can be things such as logs, huge leaves and piles of straw. A good substrate is a sand and peat moss mixture (mostly sand). Because these tortoises come from a very dry part of the world, they do not tolerate humidity and dampness at all. DO NOT keep them outdoors if you live in a humid area. This can lead to all sorts of illnesses and conditions.
Feeding a Sulcata Tortoise can also be a chore! They can eat a lot, and they need a varied diet! Provide them with a whole mixture of different greens everyday, as well as such things as hay, dandelions, and grass. If you can get your hands on Opuntia cactus pads, these are also very good for them. This will provide them with a high fiber diet, which is crucial to their health. Sprinkle their food with a calcium powder a couple times a week as well. If you wish to give treats, only do so a couple times a month. Good, healthy treats could include apples or melons. Clean out uneaten food at the end of each day. Provide fresh water daily in a large flat dish.
Problems and Availability of the Sulcata Tortoise
The most common problems you will run into with this tortoise are respiratory illnesses. These almost always occurs due to improper keeping. If they are not kept in hot and dry environments they will inevitably become sick. Watch out for runny noses and eyes. Renal problems can also arise if they are not fed a high-fiber and nutritionally sound diet. So make sure they get their greens!
If you would like to acquire a Sulcata Tortoise, your best bet is a reptile store, online from reputable breeders, or a reptile show. The vast majority of specimens sold in the United States are captive-bred babies and are readily available when you look in the right place.
Isn’t the idea of keeping such a large tortoise fascinating? Do you have any stories of your own that you’d like to share? We would love to hear it!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
Three Band Anemonefish, One of the Greatest Clownfish for beginners!
The Three Band Anemonefish Amphiprion tricinctus is one of those incredibly pretty saltwater clownfish. It immediately draws an audience to its tank where it preforms all those clownish antics its family is re-knowned for. But better than that the Tricinctus Clownfish is very durable and is one of the least aggressive of its group. Truly a beginning saltwater aquarists dream!
Being a rather cheeky little fellow it makes a very personable pet. Which is just another great bonus in keeping this saltwaterfish! Learn more about the Three Band Anemonefish and how to keep it.
Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Firemouth Cichlid!
Are you a cichlid person? Some people like these fish so much that all they keep are cichlids. They may even keep several “cichlid tanks” around their home! Given that cichlids are so diverse in color, size, and temperament, this is completely understandable. The Firemouth Cichlid, in particular, is a popular one. Many people like them because of their beautiful colors and how easy they are to keep.
The Firemouth Cichlid Thorichthys meeki, is a great beginner cichlid. It is one of the easiest cichlids to care for and anyone can start out keeping them. A big reason these guys are easy to keep is because they readily adapting to most environments. Their major draw is the bright red coloring, which occurs on their underside and up through their throat area. Other attributes of these attractive fish are being small (for cichlids) and having relatively fun personalities. They often do well in community aquariums as long as they are kept with other Firemouth Cichlids and fish of the same size and temperament as themselves. You only have to worry about them becoming more aggressive than usual during breeding times.
About the Firemouth Cichlid
Central America is the native country of these cichlids. More specifically, they inhabit the countries of Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. In the wild, the Firemouth Cichlid thrives in slow moving rivers and ponds. They usually stay closer to the bottom of the water where it is muddy and vegetation is easily accessible.
Feeding these cichlids is easy. They will eat almost any type of food offered to them! This includes, flakes, pellets, live foods, and fresh foods. Offering a variety of foods weekly is a good way to make sure they are receiving optimum nutrition. You will want to give them pellets or flakes every day and then add in some fresh cucumber and spinach as well. Live blood worms and brine shrimp are excellent treats but should be offered more sparingly.
Aquarium Care for the Firemouth Cichlid
Caring for the aquarium is no more difficult than for a typical tropical aquarium. As I mentioned earlier, Firemouth Cichlids are hardy fish and can adapt to wide range of aquarium conditions. However, regular maintenance is still needed to ensure their health! Most importantly, regular water changes are needed. About 20% of the water should be replaced every week. The gravel should also be siphoned out. These two cleaning activities get rid of decomposing organic matter and help limit the build-up of nitrates and phosphates.
A 30 gallon tank is the minimum recommended size for two Firemouth Cichlids. If you want a community cichlid tank though, you will need a much larger aquarium. A general rule is one inch of fish for every gallon of water. Equip the aquarium with a good filter and water movement. Cichlids appreciate plenty of rocks, plants and wood to hide amongst. Fine sand is a good substrate for the bottom because these fish love to burrow! They don’t need any special lighting requirements and the temperature can range from 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Diseases to Watch Out for With the Firemouth Cichlid
A common problem among tropical fish, including the Firemouth Cichlid, is ich. Many fish become infected with ich, usually when feeling stressed. The good thing is that ich can’t tolerate higher temperatures, but these cichlids can! So it can be easier to treat the Firemouth Cichlid for ich by simply increasing the aquarium temperature up to around 86 degrees for a few days. Other tropical fish diseases can also plague these cichlids. These include fungal infections, bacterial infections, and parasitic infections. If your cichlid has a disease check this Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments guide for a thorough description of most illnesses and their cures!
Do you keep a community cichlid tank? What is your favorite thing about keeping cichlids?
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
“Pet’s Point of View” Animal World Perspective of SuperZoo 2013!
From a Pet’s Point of View, SuperZoo is great! For humans it is very cool too, and necessary to keep the industry humming along. But animals just have a simpler perspective, and its one that Dr. Jungle and I found simply enchanting.
Business and pleasure go hand in hand, but the best reasons to attend pet shows are all the awesome animals! Now don’t get me wrong. I like to see cool new animal habitats, futuristic aquariums, great new toys, nutritious foods and yummy treats as well. But without the animals, what’s the point?
Now at the show, just like us humans, animals too like cool habitats and they especially like food. But Dr. Jungle and I found that they spent most of their time simply hanging out watching the other pets, and of course the human animals too.
Types of Pet Shows
SuperZoo is a production of the World Pet Association (WPA). Being an industry trade show it is not open to the general public. It consists primarily of displays by manufacturers and distributors to exhibit their pet products. Retailers then peruse the displays to become familiar with the latest offerings and select items to sell in their pet stores. Some other types of shows are for pet groomers or pet breeders. These will also has displays, but as their names suggest, they cater to particular pet industry professionals.
Some of the best types of pet shows are those that are open to everyone. The “America’s Family Pet Expo”, also a production of WPA, is one of the largest and is held annually in Orange County California. This type of show that has displays too. But it differs in that its exhibitions are by retailers offering both pets and pet products to the general public.
Types of Pets at SuperZoo
All types of animals were represented at the SuperZoo show. Usual pets included aquatic animals ranging from the hardy saltwater clownfish and damsels to freshwater tetras, barbs, bettas, all sorts of fancy goldfish, and even corals. Birds, small animals, and reptile categories were well represented too. Unique pets popped up all over too, including fascinating hybrids and mutations of regular pets as well as new and unusual species.
One of the most interesting were the exciting and popular newcomers… the “glofish”. These genetically enhanced freshwater fish are mostly barbs, tetras, and danios that sport a fluorescent glow in bright greens, reds, yellows, blues, and purples. Picasso patterned clownfish and really cool king/milk/corn snake crosses were some of the most striking looking, while some of the most unusual were the skinny (hairless) rats. Unique pets ranged from puffer fish that are a completely freshwater species (Mbu Puffer Tetraodon mbu) to some first time US imported animals like large spotted plecostomus (Hypostomus regain), and multiple varieties of brilliant tarantulas.
Dog Grooming and Competition
With all those good looking animals hanging out there’s bound to be competition, and it is tough. All types of pets adore attention but here the dogs rule! Getting spruced up with the groomers is a big pastime, sometimes taking up to two hours or more! We saw dogs decked out in all their natural glory, and many dogs decked out with “creative” colors and cuts.
This was a great show! At such an exhibition I think a pet’s perspective is the opportunity to stand out. What they want to know is “how do I steal the show”! Even thought there are only a few first place winners, I must say, the results were well worth it! Many of these awesome animals will soon be available to people and you can find the pet that’s your “first place” winner! Check with your local pet stores or find one of these dedicated, incredible breeders.
Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Blue and Gold Macaw!
Ah, the “king” of large birds. I don’t know about you, but when I think of parrots, the Blue and Gold Macaw comes to mind first thing! This is one of the most popular large birds and stands out with its defining bold colors. If you are looking for an exceptionally intelligent parrot, I can guarantee that this macaw is a very good choice. My mother is a Certified Avian Specialist, and because of that I have had the privilege of working with and interacting with many of these birds. I have also had several family friends who have owned these macaws. They all seemed very attached to their owners and every single one was a great talker!
Blue and Gold Macaws are affectionate parrots and can fit in with an entire family or do just fine with only one owner. If well socialized they can also do well with other pets and other birds. They have great personalities and are very adaptable to most environments. You will find a great friend who loves to be with you and participate in any activity you wish him to. Blue and Gold Macaws are great talkers, learning up to 20 words or phrases. They also can learn to do a myriad of tricks and imitations.
About the Blue and Gold Macaw
When did the Blue and Gold Macaw Ara ararauna first become known? Well, their native habitat extends over much of Central and South America, which is a huge area. Diverse habitats including open grasslands, woodlands, and rainforests all act as homes to these birds. The people who lived in these areas for sure were aware of the existence of these large macaws, however they were first described in 1758 by Linnaeus. They primarily live high up in trees and live in pairs or groups. For meals these macaws will all fly together in the morning and at sunset to go feed on fruits, seeds, and vegetables.
Blue and Gold Macaws are so named because of their colors, which consist of primarily blue and gold or yellow! They are one of the largest macaws, with only the Green-winged Macaws and the Hyacinths being larger. However, there is a larger variation of the Blue and Gold called the Bolivian Blue and Gold (found in Bolivia), which can sometimes rival the size of the Hyacinths. In general though, these birds can weigh over 2 pounds as adults, with a length of up to 35 inches and a wingspan of 45 inches. If you want a life-long companion, these parrots are a good choice because they can live upwards of 60 years!
A Blue and Gold Macaw as a Pet
Determining whether you want a Blue and Gold should be a very well thought out decision. Not only do these birds live a long time, but they also require a lot of attention and plenty of room. This can be expensive and time-consuming. Make sure you have the room to provide a large cage, and you may want to even consider putting the cage in it’s own room – as Macaws can get pretty loud! A playpen outside the cage is desirable as well. Your macaw will need sturdy perches and food and water dishes which can withstand being chewed on. Most parrots will appreciate new toys regularly as well. You will want to let your macaw out for at least a couple hours every day.
Caring for your Blue and Gold Macaw
The best staple food for this macaw is a commercially prepared seed and nut mix. They also enjoy eating with people and many of the things you eat can also be offered to your parrot. Many macaws like protein and will eat chicken. Avoid avocados and chocolate, as these contain toxins for birds. Offer them fresh water every day and clean out their dishes daily.
Taking good care of a macaw is the best way to prevent problems. To keep your macaw healthy you will want to:
- Give them lots of attention.
- Let them out of their cage daily for exercise and play time.
- Offer varied supplemental foods in addition to their seed mix.
- Clean out their food and water dishes daily.
- Give baths daily (to prevent dry feathers and chewing).
- Keep their beak and nails trimmed.
- Clip their wings to prevent them accidentally flying off.
Acquiring Your Blue and Gold
Blue and Gold Macaws are one of the most readily available macaws as well as one of the least expensive. Many people get hand-fed babies at bird farms. You should also have no problem finding one at a local pet store or online, either. You may even consider adopting an older bird who has been abandoned or lost their previous owner.
Are you a fan of the large parrots? What species is your favorite and what do you like about them?
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many pet articles and animal write-ups.