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White Worm Culture (Enchytraeus albidus)

Paul Bachhausen [ CC BY-SA 3.0 de ]

Paul Bachhausen [CC BY-SA 3.0 de]

White Worms, Enchytraeus albidus, are commonly cultured by aquarists as a form of live fish food. The wiggling motion of the White Worms in water makes them irresistible to even the pickiest eaters. The various applicability and acceptance of White Worms has led to its widespread popularity. The first large scale production of Enchytraeus albidus was conducted by the former Soviet Union in the 1940’s. When the high nutritional value of White Worms were discovered, they were readily applied to enhance the increasing efforts in fish culturing. The relative high protein content made the White Worms worthy of a weekly production of up to 300 kilograms, mainly for use as juvenile sturgeon feed. Extensive studies on the nutritional value and cultivation of White Worms were conducted in the former Soviet Union during this period. Today, Enchytraeus albidus are commonly used as a standard test organism in various biological and toxicological studies. Since White Worms are sensitive to chemical contamination and other stress factors, their population level and gene expression is used to determine the effects of stressors on the environment. In the aquaculture industry, White Worms are commonly cultured in various sectors as fish feed. Large scale production is implied to integrate White Worms in formulated fish diets as a quality stock enhancement. Live forms of White Worm are commonly used for feeding smaller specimen or juvenile specimen via worm feeders. Besides fish, White Worms are also used to feed frogs, newts, reptiles, birds, and larger invertebrates.


  • Length: 20 mm

  • Diameter: 1 mm

Nutritional Value

  • Protein: 70%

  • Lipids: 14.5%

  • Minerals: 5.5%

  • Carbohydrates: 10%

The use of White Worm for fish is very extensive. In fact, White Worms are one of the most valuable source of live food for fish and fish fry. The high protein content of White Worms enables peak growth rates for the most robust specimen. The particular size of White Worms makes them suitable for feeding fish that have outgrown smaller fish food such as Microworm, Baby Brine Shrimp, and Grindal Worms. The White Worms nutritional value consisting of high protein content makes them a great candidate for conditioning fish for breeding conditions. Spawning behavior of various species of fish can be triggered with the aid of White Worms. Since oligochaetes constitute a significant portion of food for fish in the wild, White Worms are a suitable food source to help mimic such natural environments.


White Worm Culture

Enchytraeus albidus are hermaphroditic, with each individual specimen consisting of both male and female reproductive organs. Each specimen will produce a cocoon filled with eggs. While cocoon produced by younger specimen contain only about 10 eggs, mature specimen will produce cocoon with over 20 eggs. There have been reports of cocoons with up to 35 eggs. The egg filled cocoon hatches in 12 days after fertilization. Within the next 20 days, the newly hatched offspring will start to produce cocoons as well. An average White Worm will produce approximately 1000 eggs in their lifespan. In ideal conditions, White Worms can reproduce very rapidly and increase their population exponentially. In order to establish a successful White Worm culture, it is important to understand the necessary parameters. A White Worm culture care must not be neglected in order to constantly produce a high volume of fish food. Productive cultures can provide an abundance of high quality live fish food and routinely feed an entire fish room. White Worms must be maintained in a cool dark environment. The optimum White Worm culture temperature range is 12 – 21 °C. The higher range of the scale will result in faster maturity. However, production will slow down past 21 °C and the population will decrease with temperatures nearing 30 °C. White Worms will also die at temperatures nearing 0 °C. Wine chillers and small refrigerators can be used to effectively control the temperature of a culture year round. A variety of containers can be used to culture White Worms. One popular option for White Worm cultures are shallow wooden boxes. Wooden materials allow great moisture control and aeration at the same time. Wooden boxes can be constructed from pine or plywood. Alternative materials such as plastic and Styrofoam containers can be used as well as long as proper drainage and ventilation is provided. The ventilation holes should not exceed 2 mm in order to prevent contamination. An alternative method to small ventilation holes is to provide a larger opening with a sponge or cloth barrier. Since plastic and Styrofoam materials prevent air flow, it is necessary to routinely mix the culture media. Another important component of the culture container is the lid. The lid will prevent contamination of insects such as ants, beetles, flies, and mites. More importantly, the lid will block light as White Worm dislike any form of light. In order to satisfy this condition, transparent containers should be largely avoided unless the culture will remain in a dark environment. White Worm culture media should contain a high portion of organic matter. A pH of 6.8 – 7.2 is considered the optimum range, resulting in peak production levels. White Worms will not survive any acidic soils with pH levels below 5. In order to provide such conditions, there are various types of White Worm culture medium that can be used. The most common type of culture media for a White Worm culture is a soil based media. This consists of a 1:1 mixture of soil and peat moss. Potting soil with any addition of chemical fertilizers, sterilizers, or pesticides should be avoided as it will ultimately be passed onto the fish. Soil with a sandy or clay-like texture should be avoided as it will not provide proper aeration. Light soil with a mixture of coarse material is suitable as it will remain loose under moist conditions and provide adequate air flow. Soil for plant seedlings are specifically designed to maintain moisture and remain loose at the same time. It is recommended to test the acidity of the mixture before application for best results. If the soil pH is acidic, the ratio of the peat moss can be reduced. The acidity can also be reduced by boiling the peat moss prior to adding it into the mixture. The latter method is more favorable as the ratio of the mixture will not be altered. While peat moss can slightly lower the pH of the culture media, it is highly beneficial to the culture as it provides superior moisture retention and control. If the soil in the culture media is from an outdoor source, it should be thoroughly searched for any contamination before adding it to the mixture. Small insects and larvae in the soil should be removed. Since outdoor soil often contains many small organisms such as mites that are difficult to detect to the naked eye, it is recommended to dry the soil out completely to get rid of them. In order to thoroughly dry out the soil, spread the soil out to a thin layer under strong sunlight for a few days. A quick way to get rid of small mites in the soil is the microwave the soil. Purchasing the soil may be easier since soil from hardware stores and garden centers are treated prior to packaging. It is possible to culture White Worms with a soil-less culture media as well. Some of the options for a soil-less culture media include coconut fiber and sponge. The advantage of soil-less culture is the ease of maintaining cleanliness. However, a soil-less culture generally requires more attention and frequent maintenance since it lacks moisture retention. For White Worm cultures, the culture media should be maintained very moist at all times. Thus, the application of an inner surface cover is helpful. The surface cover can make harvesting the White Worms easier as well. Any flat material such as a thin piece of glass or plastic can be gently applied on the surface. The moisture retention is crucial since dry culture media will result in lower production rates and will ultimately result in the culture crashing. However, the moisture level must not be too wet either in order to maintain necessary air flow. A wet culture will produce an anaerobic environment which will also cause the culture to crash very quickly. Thus, a moist culture media with aeration must be maintained at all times. White Worms should be fed at the surface of the culture media for better monitoring of the culture condition and easier harvesting as well. By placing a flat piece of glass or plastic on the feeding surface, the food underneath will maintain the necessary moisture for the White Worm to feed on it. The feeding amount should be relative to the size of the population in the culture. Overfeeding must be avoided as an excess of food can rot and cause a variety of issues. At the same time, White Worm cultures should not be left without food for extended periods of time in order to maintain peak production level. Thus, the key is to provide small frequent feedings. Small frequent feedings are especially important for newly establishing cultures. The type of food can also determine the amounts of food that can be fed. Foods that are prone to rapid deterioration should be fed to only last a couple days. On the other hand, foods less prone to rotting such as dry food can be fed in larger quantity to last longer. The following is a list of food that can be fed to White Worms:

  • Bread Soaked in Milk/Yogurt

  • Oatmeal

  • Trout Feed

  • Dry Cat Food

  • Mash Potato

In order to harvest White Worms lightly place a flat material on the surface of the culture. By placing a source of food under the flat material, White Worms will gather in the area and climb on the surrounding flat surface. In order to harvest, lift the flat material and scrap the worms off the surface. Alternatively, if a mesh surface is placed on the surface, the White Worms will gather in a mound on the top of the mesh where the food was placed. This method is highly efficient since it make it possible to collect a large amount of White Worms without the soil. It is advisable to feed White Worms in a bare bottom tank. Otherwise, feed slowly through a pipette or a worm feeder. White Worms will remain alive in underwater for several hours. As with all foods, uneaten White Worms should be removed in order to prevent water pollution. Lastly, one must be careful not to overfeed since fish will greedily feed on White Worms. Regular maintenance is crucial in order to maintain peak production levels in a White Worm culture. Without regular maintenance, a culture can quickly crash resulting from various issues. While examining a White Worm culture, it is important to pay special attention to the moisture level of the culture media. If the soil is too dry, the worms will burrow deep into the soil and ignore the food. When the soil is too wet, aeration of the culture media may be affected. In addition, it is important to regularly monitor the food level and any other irregularity. Some of the common issues with White Worm cultures are mites and mold. White Worm mites are very common especially in cultures with a soil based medium. While it can be difficult to completely eliminate mites in a soil based culture, mites population can be controlled effectively through a variety of methods. While manually removing individual mites can be a tedious task, clumps of mite populations can be removed while they are congregating on a food source. Another method of removing mites in White Worm culture is to temporarily flood the entire culture. Mites can be effectively removed from the culture as they float on the surface of the water. For a culture with excessive mites, re-culturing may be a better option. While removal of mites are necessary at times, the key is to control the population of mites by moisture control and preventing excessive food left over. In order to achieve a completely mite-free White Worm culture, a soil-less culture is more realistic. Another common issue with White Worm culture is mold. Similarly to mites, mold can be controlled by moisture control and preventing excessive food left over.

Posted on July 23, 2019 and filed under Journal, Guide.

Types of Fish Feed

Providing fish a nutritionally balanced diet is essential to grow a healthy stock of fish. In terms of fish farming, the variety of fish feed must be carefully considered because feed represents 50% of the production cost.

There are many different types of freshwater fish feed readily available today. One can provide a variety of food for their fish depending on their individual feeding requirements. While some aquarium fish may be able to survive on a limited variety of food, this does not necessarily mean that they are living up to their full potential. A wide variety of quality food within the species’ feeding parameter is beneficial for the long term health of the fish.

Processed Feed

Today, due to advancement in aquaculture feed, farmers and hobby fishkeepers both are able enjoy a greater variety and a better quality of commercially processed fish feed than ever before. Processed feeds are formulated to meet basic nutritional requirements of fish. Quality fish feeds are supplemented with proper vitamins and minerals as well. This makes processed feed a convenient source of staple food for most farm raised and aquarium fish. Processed dry feed includes flake, tablet, pellet, and crumb form. All of these feed come in many different sizes to incorporate all types of fish. Some dry feeds are designed to float, while other are designed to sink in order to incorporate bottom feeders. In fact, some pellets are even designed to stick to the surface of the aquarium glass in order to feed fish at mid-level. Premium fish feeds and medicated fish feeds are also commercially available for feeding fish with specialized needs.


Live Fish Food

Live fish food is an exceptionally good source of fish food. Since live food is not readily available to fish in an enclosed man-made environment, it can be beneficial to actively incorporate live food as part of their diet. Feeding live food is necessary for fish with specialized needs such as many carnivorous fish, wild specimen, and fry. Not only does live food mimic the feeding habit of fish in their natural environment, live food can provide many benefits that commercial feeds have not been able to replicate to this day. Many species of fry that have been grown with a supplement of live food have proved to have exceptionally better survival rates and grow to become one of the most robust specimen. Live organisms that are suitable for fish include bloodworms, mealworms, blackworms, tubifex, glassworm, daphnia, grindal worms, white worms, and redworms among many others. Incorporating live fish food at least twice a week is recommended for most fish.


Fresh Food

Fresh foods are foods that are not processed prior to feeding. This category of fish food includes fresh vegetables and fresh meat. Fish with specialized dietary needs can greatly benefit from fresh food. For example, when attempting to condition fish for breeding, a high protein diet of fresh food is beneficial. There are many different types of fresh food that can be fed to fish.

Vegetable matters are readily accepted by herbivorous fish. While vegetable matter is low in fat and protein, they consist of much needed carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins. Prior to feeding, vegetable can be blanched in order to break down the tough membranes. Vegetables that are commonly fed to a variety of aquarium fish includes romaine lettuce, spinach, cabbage, kale, watercress, zucchini, green peas, broccoli, cauliflower, beet tops, and strawberries.

Various types of meat can be fed to carnivorous fish.  Depending on the type of meat being fed, it is advisable to cook the meat prior to feeding in order to prevent introducing infectious disease to your fish. Meat containing high amounts of fat should be avoided or fed very sparingly in order to prevent digestive problems.  Since meat generally contains less water and carbohydrates than other sources of food, it is a great source of protein for your fish. Meats that are commonly fed to a variety of aquarium fish includes beef liver, beef heart, pork spleen, chicken, shrimp, herring, anchovy,  smelt, mackerel, tuna, clam, mussel, scallop, oyster, crabs, and squid.

Frozen and Freeze-dried Food

Many types of frozen and freeze-dried foods specifically marketed for aquarium fish are readily available today. As the majority of the nutritional value is preserved in the frozen and freeze-dried form, it can be a valuable and convenient source of food for fish. Blood worms, Brine shrimp, plankton, krill and many other invertebrates are available in frozen form. Some frozen food marketed for aquarium fish are conveniently packaged for individual feedings. Many smaller invertebrates mentioned above are available in freeze-dried form as well. While the nutritional value is not equivalent to a live form, freeze-dried food is another great supplemental fish food for aquarium fish.

Related: How Much Should I Feed My Fish?

Posted on August 1, 2014 and filed under Guide.

Swai Fish

The Swai  Fish, or Iridescent Shark, is a rather unremarkable fish that is typically farmed in Asia.  However, it seems to create a bit of controversy in what contexts it appears.  Whether it is to be kept in an aquarium or to be eaten at the dinner table, the Swai Fish has opposing viewpoints.

The Iridescent Shark is not really a shark but gets its name because it resembles on in appearance.   It can be found on the market as Swai Fish and shark catfish.  It is a member of the catfish family.  As a juvenile, the Swai Fish radiates a glow from the edges of its fins, thus given the name Iridescent Shark.   It can grow up to four feet in length and weigh up to nearly 100 pounds.  They are omnivores and will eat other fish, crustaceans, and different types of water plants.  They are either dark gray or black.  In addition to the iridescence, the juveniles usually have a stripe just above the midline that generally disappears in their adult years. 

The Swai Fish is found naturally in Vietnam and the Mekong basin.  They are a freshwater fish and prefer the warm, tropical climate in Asia.  They are found in the Mekong River and Chao Phraya River and prefer the deep waters of large rivers.  The Swai is a migratory fish that swims upstream during monsoon season to breed in the floodwaters.  As the monsoon season ends, the fish migrate to the more shallow waters downstream to rear their young.  Geography seems to play a role in their migratory patterns.  In the northern regions, they travel to the flooded waters from May to July and return to the shallow waters from September to December.  In the southern regions, they migrate to the deeper waters from October to February and are found again in shallow waters in the spring.  The fish are easily bred and is a large provider of food in the region and across Asia. Aqua farmers breed the Swai Fish in muddy freshwater ponds and deliver them worldwide.

The Swai Fish is often found in commercial aquariums and zoos across the world because of their appearance and resemblance to a shark.  However, they are often sold as juveniles in pet stores and aquarium hobby stores as juveniles.  The problems arise when these juveniles as small as 3 or 4 inches will soon grow to be four foot “tank busters” and weigh nearly 100 pounds.  All too commonly, novice aquarium enthusiasts will purchase these fish without researching their physical qualities.  The dealer is anxious for a quick sale.  And the poor fish gets sold and put in a 20 gallon aquarium.  There it will survive perhaps a year if its growth is stunted because of its environment.  When the tank is too small, the fish is susceptible to stress related diseases.  But the fish that continue to grow into adulthood, they are quickly discarded.  They will often eat other fish kept in the tank with them as they continue to grow.  The fish have very poor eyesight and will see any sudden movements as a threat.  As a result, they will dart rapidly seeking protection and injury often results in smaller tanks as the Swai will swim into the sides of the tank or other objects unknowingly.  Fish kept in tanks that are too small will die from organ failure due to not having the adequate resources to mature.  The recommended tank size is 40 feet which is as large as most people’s homes.  A lesson to amateur freshwater aquarists is to do homework before purchasing any fish.

The next area of controversy for the Swai Fish is its safety for food consumption.  Its meat is considered  sweet although somewhat fishy taste.  The texture is very soft and flaky.  Russia is the largest importer of Swai followed by Spain where it is known as Panga.  Many food markets are taking to the Swai fish because it is very inexpensive even though it is considered an endangered species.  The fillets are very light and contain a good quantity of fish oil which are important to controlling heart disease.  Tests performed on the fillets also show low levels of mercury.  Overall, if harvested correctly, the Swai Fish comes highly recommended as an inexpensive and health fish selection.

The controversy comes from the natural habitats of the fish.  The Mekong River is considered to be heavily polluted with dangerous amounts of toxins and chemicals as many factories release their chemical waste into the river.  This, of course, can make for questionable safety for eating this fish as the Swai will eat other fish and plant life in the area.  Also, there are vendors that don’t follow any quality control can make for a dangerous meal.  For instance, there are reports from France that document fish farmers injecting fish with unregulated hormones to stimulate growth.  The fish are often held in cages in the rivers before being harvested.  However, the Swai Fish that are grown in freshwater ponds and farmed in a safe and clean environment are free from the pollutants and toxins.  These fish ponds have filtration systems to help regulate and mimic naturally occurring water levels that the fish enjoy.  These are the fish that consumers need to look for when purchasing fillets at their local market.  Always look at labels and try to identify a large distribution company on the package.  Most reputable distributors won’t be associated with the unscrupulous fish farmers.

The Swai Fish is found in nature in two muddy swollen rivers in South Asia.  From there they have reached into aquariums, supermarkets, and dinner tables around the world.  When the consumer does their homework, the Swai Fish can be avoided as an aquarium fish in a private tank.  It is best left to the commercial display tanks at the zoo or public aquariums.  And for dinner, the Swai Fish is found to be a delicious and healthy fillet.  Again, it is up to the consumer to look for the information on the label and make an educated choice for the best options.


Related: Aquaculture in the U.S.

Posted on March 18, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish, Guide.

How Much Should I Feed My Fish?

How much and how often should you feed your fish? The amount of food that you feed is very important because it can directly impact the fish’s health. The right amount of food to feed can be difficult to determine because the dietary needs of fish will differ for each species and the stage of life they are in. For example, the feeding requirements of newborn fries and a mature fish will vary widely. A newborn fry will need to be fed very frequently and sparingly. On the other hand, a single feeding every other day may be enough to keep a mature fish healthy. A rule of thumb for an average adult fish is to offer as much food as they will consume in 2-3 minutes, twice a day. Automatic feeders can be effective in maintaining a regular feeding schedule.


Avoid overfeeding

One of the leading causes of death of an aquarium fish is due to overfeeding. However, most fish are opportunistic feeders and they will devour as much as they can, whenever they can. When overfed, fish may continue feeding even after they are causing damage to their own health. Overfeeding is especially common in novice fish keepers.

Due to the fact that fish are cold blooded, they do not require a lot of energy and food in order to survive compared to mammals. Overfeeding your fish can lead to numerous problems. First of all, it is harmful to the health of the fish as it causes unnecessary stress to its digestive system. In addition, excess waste will cause the biological load on the filtration system will become overworked. Poor water quality will take a toll on fish’s health as well. Continuous overload can lead to the disruption of the nitrogen cycle. High levels of nitrogen can lead to a spike in algae growth in an aquarium as well. An effective method to avoid overfeeding and water pollution is to feed sparingly and often, rather than a lot of food at once. Also, the type of fish feed can heavily impact how much it pollutes the water.

Aquarium fish in a family setting can often be overfed unintentionally when different family members feed the fish without realizing that they have already been fed by another member. Avoid this issue by ensuring only one person feeds the fish or by following a schedule.

If you realize that you have overfed, simply remove the uneaten food as soon as possible to avoid harming the fish and polluting the water.

Posted on July 25, 2013 and filed under Guide.

How to Set Up a Freshwater Aquarium – Step by Step

Setting up a new aquarium is exciting and fun. However, understanding the responsibilities involved and proper planning is necessary to have a successful long lasting aquarium. Before making any purchases, it is advisable to have a good plan of your aquarium setup. Understanding what you want and what is available is very important.

Step 1: Choose Type of Fish

First, decide on what type of fish you would like to keep. Different fish have different requirements and levels of care involved. For example, exotic fish can be very difficult to keep and may have specific requirements that are quite difficult to maintain for a beginner aquarist. For a first aquarium setup, choosing a hardy fish is a smart choice. Forgiving of a wide range of water parameters and poorer water qualities, a hardy fish will be much easier to maintain.  In fact, there are many hardy fish that are just as colorful and attractive as exotic species. The following is a list of one of the hardiest species of freshwater aquarium fish that are widely available in the market today:

·         Zebra Danios

·         Rainbowfish

·         Guppies

·         Corydoras

·         Mollies

·         Platies

·         Tiger Barbs

·         White Cloud Mountain Minnows

·         Bettas

If you decide to include multiple species of fish in your aquarium, keep in mind that not all fish are compatible with each other. Larger or naturally aggressive fish can prey on smaller or more timid vulnerable fish. For example, Tiger Barbs can be aggressive and chase other fish and nip on their fins. However, Tiger Barbs are known to be less aggressive when kept in a group of 5 or more. Thus, provided adequate space, Tiger Barbs can in fact be a great addition to a community tank. Bettas are generally peaceful fish but are known to be extremely aggressive towards other male Bettas. Thus, no more than 1 male Betta should be kept in the same aquarium. However, keeping multiple female Bettas in the same environment poses no aggression issues. When adding Bettas to a community tank, avoid adding other fin nippers to avoid damage to the Betta’s long fins. Each species has different characteristics so understanding their individual compatibilities and characteristics are important.

Step 2: Choose Equipment

After choosing the type of fish you would like to keep, you can continue planning your aquarium setup accordingly. The recommended fish in the list above are not only hardy but happen to be quite small as well. Thus, a standard 10 gallon aquarium will be enough to house a few of these fish. The rule of thumb is to allow 1 gallon per every inch of fish. Keep in mind that fish grow rather quickly, so plan according to the adult size of the fish being purchased. There are many types of aquarium in many different sizes available in the market today. Many aquarists end up wishing for a larger aquarium so choose the larger aquarium if you are stuck between two tanks. A larger tank can not only hold more fish, but it is also easier to manage the quality of a larger volume of water since it is more stable. For example, in a small volume of water a fluctuation in temperature can be very rapid. However, in a larger volume of water, the change in temperature will be more gradual and cause less stress for the fish. After deciding on the size and type of aquarium, you can now choose the equipment for the aquarium accordingly. Keep in mind that live fish should not be purchased at the same time as the equipment. Only purchase live fish after your setup is complete and your aquarium is ready to welcome them.

Components for Basic Aquarium Setup:

·         Aquarium Tank

·         Lid

·         Light Source

·         Water Filter

·         Water Heater

·         Gravel

·         Decorations

Additional Equipment:

·         Fish Net

·         Bucket

·         Aquarium Glass Scrubber

·         Aquarium Vacuum

·         Thermometer

·         Water Conditioner

·         Water Test Kit

Step 3: Setup

Before handling any aquarium equipment, make sure that your hands and anything that is going to come in contact with the equipment are free of contaminants that may harm your fish. Keep in mind that soap residue is harmful to your fish as well, so rinsing thoroughly is important. With clean hands, wash the aquarium and its components thoroughly as well.  The aquarium should be set up in a suitable location for the fish and the viewer. It is important to decide where to place your aquarium before starting your setup as it is difficult to move an aquarium once it is filled with water. After situating the tank in a suitable location, add the gravel and decorations. Next, add the water into the tank. Placing a plate on the gravel and gently pouring water on the plate will prevent disturbing the gravel. If your water needs to be treated, add the water treatment and be sure to mix it well throughout the tank. Next, add the filtration system, heater, lighting system, and cover. Let the aquarium run for a few hours and check to be sure if there is no leakage or any other malfunction.

Step 4: Cycling the Aquarium

The aquarium is an artificial habitat that must be biologically balanced in order to sustain living fish successfully. Even with the correct water parameters in the initial setup, this can quickly change with the waste produced by the fish. Thus, beneficial bacteria must be allowed to grow for the aquarium to be able to properly establish a biological filter. By introducing a small amount of fish, the nitrogen cycle can be started with the ammonia produced by the fish waste. For a fishless cycle, you can add pure ammonia. Pure ammonia can be found in hardware stores. During the cycling process, do not overfeed and be sure to carry out your water changes and water tests. Maintain the ammonia level below 0.25 in the aquarium. It is important not to overload the system in order to allow the bacteria to catch up with the cycle. It takes two to four weeks for the biological filter to establish. There are products available that introduce beneficial bacteria for a faster cycling process as well.

Step 5: Adding Fish

Only add a few fish every ten to fourteen days. Introducing a full capacity of fish at once will overthrow the nitrogen cycle very quickly. Before adding the fish into an aquarium, let the bag float in the aquarium water for 15 minutes so the fish can gradually acclimate to the temperature in the new environment. Reducing any amount of sudden stress is the key to survival of the fish. Avoid feeding fish on the first day since they will be stressed. Allow the fish to get acquainted to the new environment with the least amount of stress to the fish as possible. If you suspect the fish in the aquarium to harass the newly acclimating fish, feeding the existing fish prior to adding the new fish can be beneficial.

Step 5: Maintaining your Tank

Regular maintenance is necessary to provide a healthy environment for your fish. Weekly 25% water change will help maintain water quality. Regularly testing water quality and nitrate levels is also important.

Posted on July 25, 2013 and filed under Guide.

Where to Place Your Aquarium


The placement of an aquarium is very important to the success of one’s fishkeeping experience. We are not talking about Feng shui here, but basic positioning and location of an aquarium setup can make the difference between a neglected eyesore and an enjoyable hobby. Since it is difficult to move an aquarium after its initial set up, it is important to choose the location of the aquarium carefully beforehand. Identifying a suitable location prior to installation is critical for any aquarium of substantial size. Here are four basic things to consider.

1. Secure Foundation

The aquarium must be placed on a secure foundation that can hold the weight of the entire aquarium setup. Needless to say, exceptional attention must be paid to larger aquarium setups. Since 1 gallon of water weighs approximately 10 pounds, a 30 gallon tank can easily weigh over 300 pounds after factoring in the weight of the aquarium and aquarium stand. If there are any doubts about the security of the floor, it should be verified beforehand. Any rotten or unstable flooring should be fixed or avoided altogether. In addition, any slope should be fixed with a shim or other proper adjustments. When an aquarium is not placed on a level foundation, it will not be able to hold water to its full capacity and it may become more prone to cracking and leaking due to unequal pressure distribution. In addition, when the stress of the weight is concentrated on one edge of an aquarium, it will shorten the lifespan of the structure.

2. Adequate Space

An aquarium must have enough space for viewing, proper function, and maintenance. Allowing adequate area for viewing is important for enjoyment, as well as keeping your interest and motivating yourself to provide the proper care for the living creatures. Other things to consider are space for cords, filters, and lighting. Oftentimes, there are many accessories and equipments that will hang out or protrude from the aquarium. Lastly, you must consider proper space for maintenance. Maintenance will include to feeding, cleaning, clipping plants, changing filters, and changing lights. It is also notable that these areas tend to get wet from time to time. Depending on the equipment used, waterproof wall and hardwood flooring may be suitable.

3. Ensure Safety

One of the most important things to consider when deciding where to place your aquarium is safety. There are many places that may be dangerous for the life in the aquarium as well as for the life around the aquarium. Here are some of the places to be avoided:

  • Behind doors

  • Direct sunlight

  • Areas accessible to pets and infants

  • Near kitchens

  • Near chemicals

  • Near radiators, air conditioners, vents, or any area where temperature can change rapidly.

4. Convenience

An aquarium should be placed in a convenient place for both viewing and maintenance. Keep in mind, you are feeding the fish daily and doing weekly water changes as a part of regular maintenance of the aquarium. Placing an aquarium in a convenient location will increase the success rate of the aquarium and make your hobby more enjoyable. So what is a convenient place to set up an aquarium? First of all, the site should be spacious with adequate storage space nearby. Being able to keep your equipment and supply near the aquarium is quite important for many aquarists. Next, you must consider a water source. Since water changes are a regular part of aquarium maintenance, it is better if the aquarium is near a clean water source, as well as a drain. If the water is going to be transported with a bucket, make sure there is a clear pathway to safely do so. For larger aquariums, you may want to have the option of connecting a hose directly to a faucet or drain. Make sure the aquarium is close enough to a faucet or drain to make this possible. Last but not least, a convenient location for your viewing pleasure must be considered. If it is a personal aquarium, you may want to set up the aquarium in viewing distance from your desk. Aquariums set up in a community space such as a family room can be attractive as well. A well maintained aquarium can bring life to a space and become a soothing centerpiece of an entire room.

Related: Freshwater Fish vs Saltwater Fish

Posted on July 24, 2013 and filed under Guide.

Freshwater Fish vs Saltwater Fish


While marine waters cover more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface, freshwater covers only 1 percent. Surprisingly however, 40 percent of the 28,000 species of fish dwell in fresh waters. This is a very high proportion of species density given the small area that the bodies of freshwater actually covers. This data indicates that there are approximately 1 species of fish for every 15 cubic kilometers of freshwater and 1 species of fish for every 100,000 cubic kilometers of marine waters. Constantly changing environments and ease of geographical separation of small bodies of water in freshwater habitat have resulted in a high degree of diversification of freshwater fish. The constantly changing environments have also forced freshwater fish to become more adaptive to their environment. In comparison, saltwater fish have been able to enjoy a relatively more stable environment in a larger ocean environment. Therefore, freshwater fish are generally more adaptable and hardier than saltwater fish.

Anatomy and Physiology

There are no significant anatomical differences that universally distinguishes freshwater fish and saltwater fish. The difference simply lies in the way that they regulate water and salts in their internal cells. Most freshwater fish and saltwater fish maintain a salt concentration in their blood of approximately 10 parts per thousand (ppt), or 10 grams of dissolved salt per liter of water. Since freshwater fish swim in water with approximately 0.5 ppt, the chloride cells in their gills are designed to pump sodium, calcium and chloride into the fish. On the other hand, since saltwater fish swim in water with approximately 35 ppt, the chloride cells in their gills are designed to pump salt out of the out of the fish. This process of controlling the flow of water across their body is called osmoregulation.

Freshwater Aquarium vs Saltwater Aquarium

When choosing between a freshwater aquarium setup and a saltwater aquarium setup, it is important to realize the difference in level of difficulty and level of care required. As mentioned, freshwater fish are hardier in general due to their adaptive nature. They are accepting of a wider range of water parameters as well. On the other hand, saltwater fish are generally more demanding of specific water parameters and required habitat. While market value of fish can vary depending on the season and distance from the coastal lines, marine fish are much more expensive compared to most freshwater species. Due to the additional equipment involved in a saltwater aquarium and the price tag of the fish itself, a saltwater aquarium setup in general is as twice as expensive as a freshwater aquarium setup.


Freshwater Setups

Due to the difference in cost and the level of care required, most novice aquarists decide to start the hobby with a freshwater aquarium. Just like saltwater fish, there are many colorful and attractive freshwater fish including cardinal tetras, fancy guppies, killifish, bettas, and cichlids, just to name a few. While generally not recommended for novice aquarists, discus fish is another very attractive freshwater fish with a variety of coloration. Even within the scope of freshwater aquariums, there is a great variety of tank setups available. Freshwater tropical community tanks are one of the most popular aquarium setups for both novice and advanced fishkeepers. While it is relatively inexpensive to set up and maintain, one can also appreciate a great variety of fish in a single aquarium. For community tanks however, it is important to understand the requirements of each species in the community in order to ensure compatibility. Since different species have different swimming patterns, combining top level swimmers, middle level swimmers, and bottom dwellers can be an attractive effect in a community tank. Basic components in a freshwater aquarium setup includes filtration, lighting, and heating. For freshwater aquariums without a heating mechanism, coldwater fish are most suitable. Coldwater fish includes goldfish and white cloud mountain minnows, among many other small river species. Another type of freshwater setup are fish bowls. Species of fish that can survive in bowls are very limited. While goldfish are commonly presented in small bowls, this is not very practical. Due to the high amount of waste output of carp species such as goldfish, a fish bowl without a filtration system will struggle to support the fish. Betta fish is a better candidate for a fish bowl since the developed labyrinth allows the fish to breathe atmospheric air. Finally, as a general rule of thumb it is advisable to provide at least 1 gallon of water for 1 inch of freshwater fish.

Saltwater Setups

There is a great abundance of colorful marine fish with striking patterns and body formations. While different species have varying requirements, saltwater aquarium setups can be categorized into three basic types. The most basic marine setup is the fish-only (FO) saltwater aquarium setup. This type of aquarium setup is well suited for novice saltwater fishkeepers due to its simplicity and the relative ease of care. FO aquariums are decorated with coral replicas instead of live rocks. Hardy marine fish such as Damselfish, as well as other tank-bred species, are great candidates for FO aquariums. Another type of marine tank setup is fish-only-with-live-rock (FOWLR) saltwater aquariums. Live rocks, which are pieces of mature coral reefs, allows colonization of a various marine life such as invertebrates and sponges. Since live rocks house an abundance of beneficial bacteria, it aids in filtration and maintaining desirable water parameters. Since live rock require specific acclimation techniques, lighting specifications, and supplements, FOWLR saltwater aquariums require a higher degree of care than FO saltwater aquariums. The most challenging type of aquarium, more so than FOWLR aquariums, are reef aquariums. In reef aquariums, the primary focus is placed on the corals, invertebrates, and anemones. While fish can be present in a reef aquarium, they are considered as an accessory of the entire setup. Reef aquariums require specific water parameters, lighting conditions, and water flow that must be maintained on a very regular basis. Thus, reef aquariums are generally reserved for the most advanced aquarists. Finally, as a general rule of thumb it is advisable to provide at least 5 -10 gallons of water for 1 inch of saltwater fish.

Brackish Setups

Brackish water aquariums lies between freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Difficulty in maintaining a brackish aquarium depends on the type of fish that is being housed. For novice fishkeepers, hardy fish such as Mollies are recommended for brackish aquariums. Just like a saltwater aquarium, a hydrometer is necessary in order to monitor the salinity in a brackish aquarium. Whenever there is a change in salinity, it should occur gradually in order to allow the fish to properly acclimate.

Posted on April 2, 2013 and filed under Guide, Journal.