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The Kick-butt Aquarium

Discover the Natural System for keeping Aquariums. The silly mistake most people make when setting up their aquarium and how it can actually end up killing all your fish. The natural stability method that cuts aquarium maintenance by as much as 83% and makes Aquariums almost take care of themselves! The number one way to keep your aquarium consistently clean and how to take advantage of this amazing natural mechanism behind all aquatic ecosystems. This breakthrough Aquarium Care system is guaranteed to let you transform your fish-tank into the Best Aquarium Ever!

The Kickbutt Aquarium Summary


4.6 stars out of 11 votes

Contents: Ebook
Author: Luke Domagalski
Price: $33.29

My The Kickbutt Aquarium Review

Highly Recommended

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Snails in the planted aquarium

Plant Eating Aquarium Snails

Whether snails are useful or harmful in a planted aquarium depends largely on the number present and, to a lesser degree, the type of snails. Generally speaking, a small and controlled snail population is beneficial in a planted aquarium. Snails are scavengers, so as well as eating algae, they will also feed on any waste organic matter, be it in the form of fish waste and fish food or plant waste in the substrate. As they remove some of the organic debris found in the top layer of the substrate, which is not useful to plants, they reduce levels of harmful bacteria. In addition, they continually move the substrate about, preventing algal growth.

Rocks In A Planted Aquarium

In appearance and should not be used in a planted aquarium. The difference between a well-planted aquarium and a stunning display aquarium lies in good aquascaping. Aquascaping is not just a matter of placing plants and decor in the right combinations or in the right places, it means being creative, imaginative - even inspired. There are certainly methods of planting and guidelines to positioning that will help you create a good display aquarium, but ultimately, the design should be the realization of your personal vision.

Surface Swimmers For The Planted Aquarium

Most Interesting Fish Tank

Above The beautifully patterned sailfin molly (Poecilia velifera) enjoys grazing on algae as part of its diet and may also eat some small snails. This confident fish will actively display its finnage in a planted aquarium. Small tetras and rasboras make excellent, lively additions to planted aquariums. They swim in groups among the plant leaves and aquarium decor, often chasing each other to establish hierarchies within a group. Most tetras also prefer slightly soft and acidic water, which suits most plants, and are often the conditions found in aquariums with C02 fertilization. Since most tetras and small rasboras remain quite small, they Dwarf cichlids display similar behavior in the aquarium, although many lay their eggs in natural caves as well as on plant leaves. These fish are ideal additions to planted aquariums with some open areas around the substrate, and display many more behavioral and personality traits than other fish. can be kept in large groups and are unlikely to...

Planted aquarium

Just like any other aquarium, a planted aquarium needs regular maintenance to keep the environment and the fish and plants within it healthy and active. Thankfully, a well-planted aquarium will virtually look after itself, as healthy plants will act in part as water purifiers, keeping the water conditions good for both fish and other plants. Because of this, most of the maintenance in a planted aquarium is concentrated on the plants themselves, which need constant trimming, separating and tidying up. If maintenance is carried out continually, but in small amounts, a mature planted aquarium will need only minimal attention, allowing you more time to spend appreciating the display.


When you are furnishing and planting an aquarium - a pursuit appropriately known as 'aquascaping' - yourfirst considerations must centre around the position of the tank in the room and its size and accessibility. that all these possibilities demand a different approach when it comes to aquascaping and you should tailor the general advice given here to fit your chosen site and position.

What You Can Find in This Book

Month, I'd give a presentation on some aspect of water chemistry, or a particular family of fishes, or the pros and cons of different types of filters. After these sessions, we poured free coffee and talked about fish. People often told me they appreciated the information, but could I please just tell them what fish they should keep It took quite a while for me to realize that the majority of casual aquarists were not really interested in becoming what I thought of as a hobbyist. They were not fish nuts like me they saw an aquarium not as a preoccupation for their weekends, but rather more as art, something to enhance the look and feel of their personal space. And they wanted it plug-and-play. Never mind all the water chemistry, just tell me what to do and how often to do it. As I helped more and more people design aquariums that looked good and were easy to maintain, I learned what works and what doesn't. Much of that experience has been incorporated here. Chapter 1, Caring for an...

Physical and Chemical Cycles

The most important physical and chemical cycles operating within the saltwater aquarium are biological filtration, gas exchange, and the day night cycle. Without biological filtration, an aquarium requires water changes so frequently as to be impractical. Life in an aquarium cannot exist without the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide at the surface. Photosynthetic organisms require both light and darkness for their survival, and the alternation of light and dark regulates the metabolism of both fish and invertebrates. Good aquarium design and regular maintenance take care of all these requirements. Gas exchange must be taken into account in developing an aquarium design. A tall tank may be dramatic in appearance, but it needs to be correspondingly broad (most aquarium shop owners would say deep) to provide adequate surface area. In the tropics, corals of all types reach their greatest abundance and diversity in clear, shallow waters, such as the shallows off the Florida Keys. Under...

Selecting Invertebrates and Fishes

Symbiosis literally means living together. Two different species (and sometimes more) are characteristically found together. The exact relationship may take many forms. Perhaps the most widely recognized example is that of the clownfish living among the tentacles of a host anemone. Of greatest importance to the life of the reef is the symbiosis between corals and photosynthetic algae. Known collectively as zooxanthellae, the algae live within the tissues of certain corals and participate in all manner of important metabolic functions. Keeping the zooxanthellae happy is the prime goal of any minireef aquarium design. One of the most useful saltwater aquascaping materials, live rock, is farmed by depositing quarry rock at sea, and coming back in a year or so to bring it up again. Live rock harvesting is prohibited in some places and allowed in others, providing the market with both farmed and natural types.

Making Your Aquarium Look Real

I endeavor to design aquariums that reflect nature. One basic approach I employ is to combine fish, invertebrates, and other materials that come from the same geographic regions, although I sometimes combine elements from different areas of the world that share similar biotopes. Incorporating elements from the same geographic region or biotope type is the first step in making the artificial aquarium habitat look like a genuine coral reef. Arranging invertebrates and or nonliving elements with care completes the illusion.

Borrowing from Japanese Gardeners

People seldom fail to notice the similarities between aquarium design and garden design. Good gardeners make good aquarists, and vice versa. The primary difference lies with scale. Gardeners generally have more than four square feet to work with, whereas a fifty-five-gallon aquarium provides only this much space. Among gardeners, the Japanese have mastered the art of making an impressive garden in a minimum of space. The tsuboniwa, or courtyard garden, the bonseki, or dish garden, and bonsai, or pruned dwarf trees, each draws upon basic principles of design to create the illusion of spaciousness. Four basic principles, developed over hundreds of years, exemplify this technique. Aquarists can apply the same rules. They are

Using algae treatments

Chemical algae treatments should be used only as a last resort in aquariums, especially In planted aquariums, as the chemicals involved can be harmful to both fish and plants. Many algae treatments contain high levels of copper or flocculents (compounds that bind particles together), both of which can be toxic to fish either directly or indirectly. High copper levels also build up in plants and in many cases, in a well-planted aquarium, the copper will be taken up by plants before it begins to affect algae. In this instance it is possible that copper toxicity will occur in plants before the algae are greatly affected. Chemical treatments are only a temporary measure and will not eliminate the

Plants As Tools And Pests

Pistia Stratiotes Aquarium

Basic principles of water quality and filtration are universal and apply to all aquarium environments. Other than the functions of nutrients, which are described on pages 66-77, all the important aspects of water quality and filtration in a planted aquarium are included in this chapter. Mechanical filtration is the physical removal of matter from the water. In most cases, mechanical filtration simply removes visible debris and performs a purely aesthetic function. Generally speaking, mechanical filtration is achieved by passing water through a sponge, or series of sponges, to trap debris. The sponges can then be removed and cleaned. In the planted aquarium, mechanical filtration is important because it removes suspended debris that may otherwise collect in the

Carbon dioxide fertilization

Growing Aquarium Plants Outside

In most planted aquariums, C02 fertilization is essential for good plant health and is often the limiting factor in overall growth. Without adequate levels of C02, plants cannot photosynthesize effectively and therefore cannot produce the energy needed to perform basic physiological functions. There are several ways of introducing C02 into the aquarium. It is created naturally through fish and plant respiration, but mostly by bacteria as they break down organic matter. Many soil-based and established substrates will continually release C02, which can be used by aquatic plants. However, the quantities produced by these processes are minimal and would not be enough for heavily planted tanks. This is why additional fertilization is Magnesium is a vital macronutrient for all plants with a part to play in numerous important functions, and an important ingredient in chlorophyll. Magnesium is also used to activate enzymes that form vital fats, oils, and starch. Magnesium is a hardwater...

Measuring Light Intensity

Adaptation Plants Strong Light

Light is achieved, taking Into account losses of light, it should be possible to ensure that the plants receive the correct amount of illumination. As a rough guide, a standard, rectangular, planted aquarium will require around 30-50 lumens per liter of water. What we can conclude from looking at different types of light is that the best type of light depends on the function it is required to perform. Household incandescent lights are inefficient and produce a lot of heat, but are very cheap and ideal for domestic use. Fluorescent tubes are very efficient and relatively cheap if used in small numbers, and ideal for smaller planted aquariums. The less efficient, but higher output intensity lamps are ideal for larger planted tanks. Remember that it is often better to provide too much light rather than too little, although far too much light will be damaging. When choosing the correct lighting for a particular system, the four main factors to consider are

Settling In with Your Habitat

When it comes to setting up a saltwater aquarium, big tanks and small ones differ only in the amount of water and materials involved. The basic procedure is the same. After readying the tank and setting it in place, install the equipment. Test the plumbing with fresh water, and make sure everything else is working properly before adding salt mix. Aquascaping comes next, using live rock and sand, or non-living materials, or a combination. Allow for a break-in period as the aquarium develops a population of beneficial microorganisms. From that point on, the aquarium will continue to mature and change for a period of months. Early on, the tank may experience a bloom of algae growth. As the developing ecosystem becomes more and more stable, you can introduce additional invertebrates and fishes about every two weeks. Although the process of stocking an aquarium can be slow, patience is rewarded with a thriving, easily maintained tank.

Suitable aquarium decor

These days, aquarists are faced with a wide range of rocks, wood, and other decor, but not all materials are suitable for a planted aquarium. When making a choice, it is often best to keep things simple and stick to, say, one or two types of rock, rather than crowd the aquarium with all manner of objects. All the decor should, of course, be bought and not collected from the wild. Clean it well before using it in the aquarium. In the planted aquarium, rocks fulfill a number of roles, both practical and aesthetic. Smaller cobbles and pebbles can be used in the foreground, creating gaps between smaller plants and making open spaces more interesting. Larger rocks in the midground can also be used as breaks between planting areas

Tetra Initial Sticks Composition

As with potted house plants nutrients can become exhausted over a period of time. The planted aquarium also has a life span, so you may need to replace nutrients or the whole substrate. Reverse undergravel filters undergravel filters (RUGFs UGFs) and heating cables can affect the life span of the substrate. They cause a greater flow of nutrient water through the bed, improving nutrient exchange rates. It is not known if this increases life span by making a more efficient bed, or decreases life span by using up the nutrients more rapidly. I hope this analysis and overview has provided a good starting point for a successful planted aquarium. Regardless of data or arguments, it is still up to the individual to decide what's best for his needs. I have grown plants in sand, gravel, Flourite, and litter. All substrates gave good growth, given all other parameters were optimal. It's true some were more attractive, had higher iron levels, or contained more organic matter, but all can be used...

Excessive Filamentous Algae Growth Aquarium

Bolbitis Hydrophylla

Carbon is required by plants for food synthesis by utilising light energy. Carbon in the form of CO, is readily available to the terrestrial plants as the earth atmosphere has high concentration of CO,. The concentration of CO, in water is very low (about 0.2mg l in equilibrium with air), and its diffusion into the water is 10,000 times lower than into air. In a densely planted aquarium, Carbon is always the limiting factor unless it is supplemented artificially. Depending upon the carbonate hardness, CO, should be injected to keep the pH around 6.8. When plants synthesise food, Oxygen is released to the surroundings as a by-product. In a healthy planted tank, Oxygen is seldom deficient. In nature, aquatic plants inhabit in open water bodies and fresh water is always added from the source through water currents. Water currents help to remove the decaying matter resulting from bacterial decomposition and also bring the required nutrients for the growth of plants. As this process is...

Cryptocoryne Aponogetifolia

Steve Dixon Planted Tank

Karen Randall on styles in aquascaping and Neil Frank on chain swords offered serious content, while Steve Dixon's piece on Tom Barr gave us a glimpse of a name we see often on the Aquatic Plant Digest. Jay Lenahan took us inside the serious academic world of aquatic plant literature with a great extract of a long paper on submerse growth physiology. This month we feature a in-depth look at algae by Brad Metz and a thorough appraisal of substrates by Jamie Johnson. John Glaeser tells how he started a planted tank club. And there is a bit of humor from Lori Shimoda great news of the promotion of Claus Christensen at Tropica, a firm friend of the hobby world-wide news of the first planted aquarium workshop at Chattanooga this fall and some bloopers from the first issue. Mark your calendars The Aquatic Gardeners Association announces the first full weekend of activities for lovers of planted aquariums Enjoy the fellowship of other aquarist interested in this...

Micranthemum Umbrosum

Tetra Ulreyi

Alkaline, which is not tolerated by the plants and most animals. In this situation it is necessary to install an apparatus for the artificial production of carbon dioxide. Numerous devices for this purpose are available from various manufacturers. For the magnificently planted aquarium a device for producing a controlled supply of C02 is almost a necessity. Otherwise the aquarium water would have a permanent C02 deficiency.

Subclass Malacostraca Superorder Hoplocarida

There are some fish species that wrill eat these shrimp but they are very aggressive species that may not be suitable for all aquariums. Specifically the Australian Dottyback, Labracinus lineatus, is reported to feed on Mantis shrimp but is a very nasty fish (S. Michael, pers. comm.). Roger Bull related to us a rather interesting technique for eradicating mantis shrimp from a newly set up reef aquarium. An octopus will quickly hunt down any crustaceans like Mantis Shrimp or crabs hiding in the rocks. Once they have been eliminated, the octopus can be removed. This technique is meant for new set-ups only, before the fish are introduced, because octopus can feed on fish (see also chapter 7, aquascaping).

Aponogeton boivinianus

Brown Frilly Aquatic Plant

The attractive crinkled leaf and large size of this plant make it an ideal specimen plant for the midground of a larger aquarium. In a heavily planted aquarium where there is competition for light and nutrients, A boivinianus may produce smaller and fewer leaves. The leaves are bright green and sometimes slightly transparent in places.

Caring For Your Underwater Garden

Hco3 Levels And Water Hardness

The hardness of the water and its CO2 saturation play an important part in how well plants and fish thrive. Typically the total hardness of the water is specified (as GH), which indicates the level of calcium and magnesium. It is also important for certain fish species, because calcium and magnesium are nutrients for the plants. The plant aquarium owner is far more interested in the carbonate hardness (KH), which indicates the bicarbonate content (HCO3-) of the water, because KH, the pH level and the CO2 content are closely linked. Put very simply, most plants can be grown when the KH is between 3-12, pH is 6.57.5 and the CO2 content is 10-30 mg l. The equipment for measuring these values can be bought from any aquarium dealer. Aeration pumps and motor filters which cause strong ripples in the surface are prohibited in plant aquariums because they drive CO2 out of the water and cause the pH level to rise. If the pH level is too high, even with still water in the aquarium, CO2 must be...

Aquarium Plant Substrate

Planted Aquarium Substrate

Pea gravel is the most commonly available aquarium substrate, although it is best used as a top layer in planted aquariums. Smaller grades can be used as a good supportive rooting medium. Pea gravel is the most commonly available aquarium substrate, although it is best used as a top layer in planted aquariums. Smaller grades can be used as a good supportive rooting medium. Due to the breakdown of organic matter within the soil, low levels of C02 are constantly released. In many planted aquariums with a soil substrate, additional C02 fertilization is not needed and neither are additional substrates or iron fertilization. aquarium, the majority of organic debris will be broken down by bacteria and the resulting nutrients are taken up by plant roots, which in return release small amounts of oxygen into the substrate and help to prevent stagnation. So the substrate in a well-planted aquarium may actually last longer than a substrate without the benefit of dense planting. However, a...

Circulation In Plants

Aquarium Plant Substrate

More importantly, a substrate should not contain harmful minerals, most notably, compounds with a high calcium content. Limestone and coral-based substrates, often available for marine aquariums, are high in calcium and should never be used in a freshwater planted aquarium. Substrates such as these will increase the alkalinity and pH of the water, making it harder for plants to obtain nutrients and C02.

Common Features of Captive Ecosystems

Aquarists have long known that vascular plants, while actively growing, remove pollutants from aquarium water. This is, in fact, the oldest form of aquarium filtration. Displays of tropical fish were created during the Victorian era, for example, in enormous planted aquariums, long before the advent of the kinds of equipment so familiar to aquarists today. Dutch-style planted freshwater aquariums may have inspired the aquascapes of Smit's Dutch-style minireefs, with their lush growths of seaweeds.

The Dutch Style Aquarium

I call systems featuring a trickle or wet dry filter Dutch-style aquariums, and there is no doubt that these relatively complex setups ushered in a revolution in marine husbandry. The introduction by Dutch proponent George Smit of the wet dry filter, adapted from wastewater treatment technology, resulted in a new wave of interest in minireef aquarium keeping. This new filter system was much more efficient than the undergravel filter and bypassed many of the former system's drawbacks (Smit, 1986a, 1986b). The filter media, kept wet but elevated above the water level of a sump, could support large populations of

Practical Section

Bamboo Tree For Aquarium

Aquascaping Bogwood can play a large part in the design of the planted aquarium. There are many different forms of bogwood, although these often arise from the different cleaning methods applied to the wood before it reaches the retailer. Some woods are precleaned using sand as an abrasive, which gives the wood a smoother and two-toned appearance. color the water slightly, often making it a light tea color. This coloration can be removed using carbon or other absorptive media. However, these media should be used only temporarily in a planted aquarium, as they also remove nutrients vital to long-term plant health. Bogwood is a good medium for planting up in the same way as porous rock and is suitable for mosses such as Java moss. Twisted roots, another form of bogwood, are particularly effective in the planted aquarium. Being long and thin, they do not take up too much

Tank Selection and Construction

Concrete tanks are used by public aquariums for really big displays, typically with thick acr lie sheets for the viewing windows. Aquaculture facilities also use concrete to make long, raceway style aquariums. Concrete is not typically used for home aquariums, but it is a good material for making really big tanks when weight is of no concern. It is not the material of choice for building an aquarium that you plan to move someday. If you wish to use concrete to build that giant aquarium of your dreams, we suggest that you contact several public aquariums about the best materials and construction techniques.

Larger midwater swimmers

Some larger fish can be used in the planted aquarium without risking damage to the plants and many will make a bold and welcome addition to a display. The most popular fish in this category are the angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare), which will gracefully glide between taller plants such as Vallisneria spp. Although when fully grown, these fish will become large enough to eat smaller fish, such as young cardinal tetras (Paracheirodon axelrodi) or young harlequins (Rasbora heteromorpha), they can normally be kept with significantly smaller fish.

Utilitarian Invertebrates

Abalones (Haliotis sp.) sometimes are produced by captive cultivation. Good algae consumers, they should be maintained with the same caveats just mentioned for other snails. Another commonly cultivated grazing snail, the queen conch (Strombus gigas) reaches a large size and grows rapidly. It feeds only when grazing on sand but does eat algae greedily. Undeniably attractive and interesting, queen conchs do not fit into every aquarium design. Bubble shells include several genera, notably Bulla and Haminoea, that hide from the light and graze algae at night. Haminoea will reproduce in the aquarium.

Guidelines for Design

In fact, modern filtration systems are designed and deployed with one primary goal to increase the number of fish that can be housed in a given volume of water. The aquarium remains balanced only so long as the filter system properly functions. The implication of this simple principle is obvious Effort must be expended on a continuous basis to keep the aquarium functioning properly. It will not take care of itself. If we make the mistake of beginning with a collection of species having widely divergent needs, we compound the problem because providing for one of them may simultaneously work against the interests of another. The aquarium, in effect, is constantly teetering on the brink of disaster. Eventually, a tipping point is reached, and the impending disaster becomes reality. Too often, this is the experience of the home aquarist. Therefore, the first priority for good aquarium design is to emulate conditions that favor a natural balance Beginners often find the huge variety of...

Wildness versus Control

For example, to make the aquarium look deeper, place an especially interesting, tall soft coral with bright coloration near the front glass, slightly to one side of center. A good choice might be Gorgonia ventalina, the common Caribbean sea fan. Use a spreading soft coral, such as Pachyclavularia, the green star polyp, to create a monotonous layer of color along the rear wall of the tank. In between, place a large piece of branching coral skeleton to obscure the middle ground. This arrangement distorts perspective and fools the eye into thinking that the space is larger than it is. The trick is to keep the view toward the back less well defined than the one in front. The eye will be drawn first to the more interesting object. When the forward object is taller than those in the rear, we tend to perceive the distance between them as greater than it actually is. This arrangement reverses the usual aquascaping advice to keep tall things toward the back.


Any pumps or filters in a planted aquarium will need the same maintenance as those in any other type of aquarium to keep them functioning correctly. Clean out internal filters and the media in them at least twice a month. External filters should be cleaned at least once a month. Always clean any


In all cases of aquascaping, bear in mind how the different materials are found in the sea. The largest pieces will dominate everything else when confined to an aquarium tank, so exercise the greatest care in choosing them, and the greatest amount of restraint in their number. For smaller tanks, limit yourself to three to five larger pieces of rock or dead coral. One large piece usually looks better than several smaller ones. It is often convenient, though certainly not necessary, to place the larger items near the rear of the tank, where they do double duty by hiding unsightly equipment. Large objects should be placed firmly on the tank bottom to avoid the possibility of them toppling. Secure them in place with dabs of silicone aquarium sealant, if necessary. When used, silicone must be allowed to dry and cure for several days before continuing. Move the tank into its permanent position at this point, if it is not already in place. Next, add most of the washed substrate, making sure...

Natural prevention

The best way to prevent algae in a planted aquarium is to establish continued strong plant growth. Plants have many advantages over algae when it comes to collecting nutrients and utilizing sunlight, so good plant growth will often starve algae of nutrients. The allelochemicals produced by plants may also play a part in restricting algal growth. Whatever the reasons may be, a healthy, well-planted aquarium should rarely encounter harmful algal blooms. Algae-eating fish, such as many loaches and catfish, can also be introduced to the aquarium, as well as some snail and freshwater shrimp species. All these animals will browse on algae as part of their main diet and will prevent it from gaining a foothold in the aquarium. Do bear in mind, however, that algae-eating species are often selective and will eat only certain types of algae unless they are forced to do otherwise due to a lack of their preferred food.


Macronutrients Plants

Phosphate is often present in fish food, so levels are rarely deficient in the aquarium. In an average aquarium phosphate levels are frequently 1-3 mg liter, while in natural conditions levels are normally only about 0.005-0.02 mg liter. Low phosphate levels are not normally a concern, but high levels can encourage algae to bloom. To grow strongly, algae require phosphate levels above 0.03 mg liter since these levels are usually exceeded in the aquarium, algae blooms are often the result. Under normal conditions, most phosphate is locked away in the substrate and unavailable to algae. There should be no need to add phosphate to a planted aquarium, although it may be present in some nutrient-rich and soil-based substrates. Despite this high usage and waste of oxygen, plants do not do well in high-oxygen conditions and require only a small dissolved oxygen (D.O.) content. This is because when dissolved oxygen levels are high, a number of nutrients, especially iron (Fe), bind with oxygen...

Plants By Mail Order

Using Jude Cover Potted Plants

Below A contrasting mixture of leaf colors can look very attractive in a planted aquarium, although the lighting must be tailored to the needs of the different plants. Below A contrasting mixture of leaf colors can look very attractive in a planted aquarium, although the lighting must be tailored to the needs of the different plants.


Reef Aquarium Algae Bloom

The allelochemicals produced by some aquatic plants have a particularly adverse effect on floating plant species and algae. This is one of the main reasons why a well-planted aquarium may not show signs of algae blooms, despite high nutrient levels and strong lighting. Although some information is available

Model Design

For aquascaping this tank, try to find slablike pieces of coral rock that can be stacked to form ledges. Also, create caves by leaving a couple of openings in the structure big enough to accommodate any of the cardinalfish. Cave construction using coral rock is an art that benefits from practice. Lay everything out on a table and try different configurations before permanently installing the rock work in the tank. For maximum stability, you may need to secure some pieces with silicone.

Aquarium Algae Types

Aquarium Algae

In most cases, a well-maintained planted aquarium experiences fewer problems with algae than an unplanted aquarium, despite the additional nutrients. Algal blooms occur in the aquarium only when certain conditions become ideal for algal growth. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent those conditions from occurring.

Model Design H

C. plagiosum, the white-spotted bamboo shark, may dig in the substrate, undermining your aquascaping. Because it lacks a bony skeleton, the little shark can be seriously injured by falling rocks. It spends a lot of time on the bottom, so I suggest leaving mostly an open expanse of sand, with only three to five large pieces of rock strategically placed.

Preparing wood

Pictures Bamboo Vines Wood

Below Artificial equivalents of natural decor make safe, although initially expensive, alternatives for planted aquariums. Once established, they can look very realistic. Below Artificial equivalents of natural decor make safe, although initially expensive, alternatives for planted aquariums. Once established, they can look very realistic.

Zoanthus Sociatus

With a larger aquarium, say 125 gallons or more, a school of Blue Chromis (Chromis cyaneus) will inhabit the open water away from the rock slope occupied by the gramma clan. In such an aquarium design, a light-colored sandy bottom running the length of the tank could suddenly give way to a steeply stacked escarpment of live rock placed at one end. The rock should occupy only about one-third of the length of the tank. The gramma colony will associate itself with the rocks, and the chromis school will hover above the sand at the opposite end. Top the escarpment with an assortment of encrusting soft corals and sponges, and

A hardwater aquarium

Hard Water Aquatic Plants

Depending on where you live, your water may be hard and alkaline (high pH). Although it is possible to remove hardness and soften water with proprietary chemicals and filtration systems, it can be costly and time consuming. Most plants do best in medium-soft water and although many will acclimatize to harder water for short periods, in the long-term, hard water will damage them and adversely affect their growth. However, there are hardwater areas in the wild where plants thrive, and the importance of soft water in planted aquariums is debatable as far as these species are concerned. A few plants survive notably better in harder water a typical example is elodea or pondweed (Egeria densa). Adding C02 in hardwater conditions is an excellent idea, as it will slightly acidify the water and compensate for the drop in available nutrients (see page 67).

Anubias gracilis

Anubias Afzelii

The spade-shaped 3.2-4.7 in (8-12 cm) leaves and longer stalks give this anubias a much tidier appearance than smaller anubias, which may grow in seemingly random directions, but it is harder to care for than other anubias species. This plant does best when allowed to grow above the water surface and given plenty of nutrients. The substrate should be fairly loose and contain iron-rich fertilizer. In good conditions, this is an attractive and dominant plant that makes an excellent addition to any planted aquarium. For the best effect, give it plenty of room among smaller foreground plants.

Scavenging fish

Poecilia Velifera

Above Although the popular red-tailed black shark (Epalzeorhynchus bicolor) can get quite large, it is a useful addition to a planted aquarium. This attractive, lively, and strikingly colored fish spends most of its time grazing algae from rocks and plant leaves. swept away by water currents and scavenging fish. Small scavenger fish can be introduced to a planted aquarium for the same purpose. Removing trapped debris will allow the plants to receive more light and the foraging activity also helps to move debris toward the filter, where it can be trapped and removed from the aquarium. Corydoras catfish are ideal scavengers and can be kept in small groups in the planted aquarium. Although scavengers will find many food items among the substrate, you should also feed them on sinking pellet or wafer foods to ensure that they receive the correct diet. Above The beautifully patterned sailfin molly (Poecilia velifera) enjoys grazing on algae as part of its diet and may also eat some small...

Algaeeating fish

Algae Eating Shark

In a planted aquarium, it is important to use only smaller fish as algae-eaters many algae-eaters grow quite large and then the damage they cause to plants outweighs their useful role in removing algae. Small catfish, such as Otocinclus and Peckoltia species, are excellent algae-eaters that can be kept in small groups in a planted aquarium. They will constantly graze algae from plants without damaging the leaves and will not grow too big. Loaches, such as red-tailed black sharks (Epalzeorhynchus bicolor) or ruby sharks (E. frenatus), do attain about 6 in (15 cm), but are Above Although the popular red-tailed black shark (Epalzeorhynchus bicolor) can get quite large, it is a useful addition to a planted aquarium. This attractive, lively, and strikingly colored fish spends most of its time grazing algae from rocks and plant leaves.

Nymphaea stellata

Nymphaea Stellata Plant

Although sometimes sold as red tiger lotus (Nymphaea lotus var. rubra) this tropical lily has smaller, spade-shaped leaves and will grow more compact, sometimes creating a better effect in a well-planted aquarium than red tiger lotus. The leaves will grow up to 4.7 in (12 cm) long and are a brownish pink to red in color. If the light source is not bright, the plant will produce larger (8 in 20 cm) green floating leaves. As it ages it may die back naturally, even under the best conditions. Apart from a good light source and moderate fertilization, the plant has no special requirements. The leaves o Nymphaea stellata are more uniform in color than those of N. lotus varieties, and their growth pattern may be more suited to a well-planted aquarium. Nevertheless, pruning some larger leaves may be necessary to keep the plant tidy. The leaves o Nymphaea stellata are more uniform in color than those of N. lotus varieties, and their growth pattern may be more suited to a well-planted aquarium....

Plant profiles

Hydrocotyle Verticillata Care

Aquarists are lucky in that there are literally hundreds of plant species suitable for aquarium conditions. Not all these plants are found in nature many are cultivated varieties developed by plant growers, wholesalers, and, in some cases, individual aquarists. As a result of crossbreeding and selective propagation, we can now choose from a wide range of plants with varied and interesting leaf shapes, colors, growth patterns, and care requirements. Many plants also have subspecies, which are usually slightly different in height or leaf shape. Whatever type of aquarium design you are aiming for, there will be a good choice of plants to suit those conditions. Most aquatic outlets stock a good selection of aquarium plants, which should vary slightly from week to week. But what happens if you are looking for a certain species or type of plant If you are having difficulty obtaining a particular plant, you may find that one of the many mail-order suppliers will stock it, or something...

Changes In Intensity

Aquarium Lamp Plants

Left Metal-halide lamps are widely used for marine aquariums, where their spectral output suits marine algae and corals. A lighting canopy with metal-halide lamps and fluorescent tubes will produce a balanced light output for healthy plant growth. The intensity provided by this sort of lighting setup is ideal for deeper planted aquariums. Left Fluorescent tubes are available in different color spectrums for different purposes. Using a combination of tubes in a planted aquarium can create good light for plant growth, as well as creating a pleasing color balance for the human eye. sunlight unless you have plenty of experience and or are willing to experiment a little. Providing the aquarium is in a place where it can receive sunlight for the majority of the day, all year round, it is possible to create a healthy, well-planted aquarium where fast plant growth will prevent algae from forming. However, this balance is difficult to achieve, and in most cases the plants will either receive...

Simple or diverse

Large Artificial Aquarium Plants

There are many styles of aquarium design, from barren rockscapes to heavily and diversely planted Dutch-style aquariums. You could be inspired by such designs or simply use your own, but in either case it is important to stick to a single style within one aquarium. When using rocks, select one or two types and use them in various sizes, rather than mix several different types of rocks and individual pieces. The same applies to wood it is usually better to use one type than many.

Ludwigia glandulosa

In the right conditions, this ludwigia will grow quickly, producing intensely olive-green pink leaves that stand out well in a planted aquarium. Regular trimming will keep the plant compact and tidy. Given very bright lighting and good all-round conditions, it is easy to care for and will adapt to most aquariums. The leaves will grow to 2 in (5 cm) long. Best planted in groups of five or more. With good care, this plant can be very attractive.


Harmful Nitrate Level For Freshwater

Sterilization as a form of filtration is normally employed in the marine aquarium, although there are situations when it can be useful in a freshwater aquarium. The process involves passing water through a pressurized unit containing an ultraviolet (UV) lamp. UV light at the right intensity is able to break down some algae cells and disease organisms, with obvious benefits for aquatic life. However, as with chemical filtration, it can also destroy useful elements. In general, because of the expense of UV sterilizers and their relatively limited use, they are not necessary in planted aquariums. Do not confuse UV sterilizers with UV clarifiers, which work on the same principle, but allow for a greater space between the water and the UV light, so that only algae cells are affected, not disease organisms. their own needs. However, ammonia is dangerous to both plants and fish, so biological filtration is still required in a planted aquarium. The difference between ammonia and ammonium is...

Water quality

It is also possible to test for the presence of certain nutrients, but this needs to be done only when plants show signs of a deficiency or excess of nutrients. Keeping a record of test results is a good way of checking any trends in the aquarium, such as rises in nitrates or softening of the water over time. In most cases, regular water changes, using at least half tap water, will keep the aquarium water in good condition. The frequency of water changes depends on the individual requirements of the aquarium. For most planted aquariums, a small (10-15 ) water change every week or two should be sufficient. Remember that water changes do not only reduce toxins, but also replenish nutrients, so even if the water quality seems good, you should still carry out water changes. Tap water often contains high levels of chlorine, which will need to be removed before the water is added to the aquarium. There are many proprietary dechlorinators available for...

Surface swimmers

Floating plants are useful as well as aesthetic in a planted aquarium. Surface-swimming fish, such as gouramis, livebearers, and hatchetfish, will welcome the hiding places provided by floating plants and their roots. Many anabantoids (which includes the gouramis), make bubblenests on the surface of floating plants in which to lay their eggs. This rarely happens in a crowded community

The substrate

Removing organic debris helps to prevent decomposition, which releases ammonia and nitrites, and also combats bacterial diseases and algae. However, in a heavily planted aquarium, the organic debris produced from fish, fish food, and plant waste is often beneficial in the production and storage of nutrients within the substrate. As organics build up in the substrate, they act as storage components for nutrients, helping to replace those that may be lost over time from the initially nutrient-rich substrates. Gentle water movement from substrate heaters, and oxygen produced around the roots of aquatic plants prevent the substrate from becoming anaerobic.


Manufacturers produce many tank sizes reef ready. Drilling the drain and installing the standpipe takes place at the factory. Surrounding the standpipe, a plastic prefilter hides the plumbing and allows only surface water into the drain. Narrow slots at the top prevent large objects from entering. In some designs, the return pipe passes through a second hole in the tank bottom and extends up to the top of the prefilter, paralleling the standpipe. In other designs, the return pipe passes through the tank bottom at some distance from the drain. In still others, a return hose simply loops over the rim of the tank to discharge water just below the surface. The first option is my preference. Not only does the prefilter box hide the return pipe, it also protects the pipe from being bumped. Striking the pipe with a piece of coral rock as you are aquascaping, for example, can crack the glass around the hole at the bottom as the pipe is deflected to one side.

Polka Dot Grouper

The polka dot grouper requires a place to retire in order to feel comfortable. Aquascaping should conform to this need. Build a cave as described in the previous model design for moray eels. Apart from that, tank decoration is immaterial. The fish show up well against a plain black background, but you could create a whimsical look with a polka dot background. Using a stencil, paint the dots first, allow them to dry, and then paint over them with the background color. You could duplicate the grouper's pattern of black dots on white, or do the reverse.

BreakIn Period

Live rock and live sand seed the aquarium with beneficial bacteria and a host of other organisms. A fish-only system decorated entirely with dead rock and sand must have a source for these microscopic helpers. When you are finished aquascaping, add a bag of commercially packaged live sand on top of the substrate, or place a few small pieces of live rock in the tank. You can also purchase cultured bacterial tank starters, but I prefer using the natural materials. The bacteria need a source of ammonia. Purchase an ammonium chloride solution made expressly for this purpose, and add it according to the label directions. If you are aquascaping with mostly live rock, work with your dealer to schedule its arrival. If the dealer is going to cure the rock for you, all you need to do is pick it up, return home, and start aquascaping. If you are going to cure the rock yourself, you'll want a curing tank set up and running at least forty-eight hours before the rock arrives. You can use your...

Other Nutrients

Aquarium Plant Food

Tap water sources vary in hardness, acidity, and metal toxicity and should be checked before use in a planted aquarium. Hard water generally provides more nutrients, and regular small water changes will keep these nutrients at suitable levels for most aquatic plants. The use of tap water should depend on the preferences of the plants in the aquarium and whether they are softwater or hardwater species. In either case, it is usually best to use tap water (rather than reverse-osmosis or rainwater) at least partially as a source of nutrients in a planted aquarium.

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Pogostemon helferi is a beautiful foreground plant with a difference that forms a dense carpet of dark green leaves under the right growth conditions. Its curly leaves and unusual leaf form makes it stand out from the crowd of other foreground plants and thereby creates an attractive variation and renewal of the planted aquarium

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