how to

introducing new plants and fish

The practice of 'floating the bag' is a persistent hang-over from 1950s fish keeping. It's one that kills or stresses a lot of fish. A better method is described in this article from Swisstropicals.

Fish acclimatization or how not to kill your fish on the first day!
When you unpack, pour the fish immediately with some transport water into an open container so their bodies are covered (careful, some may jump out). Then add water from the new tank using a cup so that the temperature is barely increasing. If the transport water is very cold (~60 °F), use cold water for the change. The point is to replace the transport water with all the filthy stuff quickly and then bring the temperature up slowly by either waiting or gradually adding warmer water. Once the temperature is within 3-4 °F, take a net and move the fish to their new home. Discard all the transport water. You will rarely lose fish that way. The slow process also allows for the pH to gradually adjust without shocking your new arrivals. Note: sturdier fish can be moved without adapting at all if the temperature/pH is not very different (within 5 °F/0.2 pH difference): just net them out of the transport water and move them to the tank or container.

To vacuum shrimp and fry tanks, syphon using gravity and narrow tubing to collect debris from the substrate surface. Drain into a light coloured bucket to recover any critters caught in the cleaning.
Basters are useful for catching small fry and baby shrimp, or for 'spot cleaning' in the tank.


inexpensive and effective prefilter for hob (hang-on-back) style filters

^^Plastic pot scrubbers, cost $1 to $1.50
do not use scrubbers infused with soaps or scent
^^What you need
^^step 1: Find the tie-off and snip. Try not to snip anything else or the scrubber will unravel.
^^step 2: Pull out the tie-off and discard.
^^step 3: Unfurl part way.
^^step 4: Slip the intake tube into the 'sock' and tie off with an elastic.
^^step 5: Fold the scrubber over the elastic and down the intake tube. Twist, and fold back over the tube towards the top.
^^step 6: Secure at the top with a 2nd elastic, and repeat step 5.
^^step 7: Secure with a 3rd elastic and you're done. Now, if they only came in forest green or black...
^^Time to retire. This scrubber is unravelling and is beyond usefulness. Recycle it as filter material in a hang-on-back (hob) or box air filters. Scrubbers have a tremendous surface area and make good biofilters and particle filters.
^^bonus! These prefilters are great for keeping adult snails from getting trapped in the intake, but they are also a favourite place for snails to lay their eggs. It's makes for an easy way to collect snails for removal or, better yet, collecting snails of the perfect size to feed dwarf puffers.

fine particles
^^use these as the last layer in you hob to remove fine particles

Box filters
^^Unlike sponge filters, box filters make excellent particle traps. A wide variety of filter media can be used, including, of course, scrubbies. This one was allowed to get dirtier than usual, to demonstrate it's effectiveness at debris collection. They're particularly useful in fry rearing tanks with "high output" species such as bristlenose plecostomus. Use a porous material to block fry from gaining access to the interior.

Air driven box filters may also be used to condition water. Instead of filter material, oyster shell or shells may be used to increase carbonate hardness, or peat may be used to acidify the water.
^^Some of the materials used to make custom made shipping boxes. Custom made boxes are useful to reduce the cost of shipping. Select an appropriate sized box and cut 1/2 to 1 inch foam to size for lining the box. Keep a vacuum cleaner handy.
^^Foam is also used to brace the interior and separate layers.
A detailed 'how to' can be found at Canadian Aquarium Connection.

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