Aquarium Glass

General Info:
Regularly cleaning the aquarium glass keeps the tank neat and attractive.

Technique:

  • Inside – Commercial pad-type scrubbers are abrasive enough to remove algae and other growths, but not enough to scratch the glass. The new, plastic blade scrapers are even more effective, but dull fairly quickly. Single edge razor blades are even more effective, but care must be taken not to scratch the glass or slice into a seal. Each style works best if held directly in the hand, but long-handled or magnetic models are available for those who wish to remain dry.
  • Outside – A squeegee works very well if there is no concern about a little water on the floor, but a soft cloth or paper towel with plain water works, too. Ammonia based glass cleaning chemicals can be carefully used on the outside of the tank, but they should be sprayed on the cloth rather than the tank itself, to avoid contaminating the aquarium. Plain newspaper, lightly moistened with plain water, gives amazingly streak-free results.
  • Great care should be taken to avoid scratching the glass. This is most often done by using too abrasive a cleaner, or by getting aquarium gravel trapped in the cleaning device and dragging it across the glass.
  • Acrylic (Plexiglas) aquariums require extra special care, as they are easily scratched by common glass-cleaning devices or chemically damaged by glass-cleaning chemicals. Use only products specially labelled as safe for acrylic.
  • By Jim Kostich

Aquariums & Fish Tanks

General Info:
On (hopefully very rare) occasion, the aquarium hobbyist will find a need to “nuke” an aquarium – that is, to remove all fish, then thoroughly clean the tank and hopefully remove most of the parasites and parasites it may have contained. Such drastic measures are of course most often undertaken after a massive outbreak of disease, but may be sometimes used to prepare an aquarium for a challenging species or for breeding certain delicate egglayers.
Technique:

  • Potassium Permanganate – is an excellent oxidizing agent that can destroy most organic compounds, then itself breaks down into quite harmless compounds. We have used Jungle’s “Clear Water” at five to ten times the directed dose with very good results. After adding permanganate, stir the gravel, then allow to percolate through the filter system until the pink/purple color begins to turn brown. Completely drain and refill the tank, and it should be ready to go again in a few hours.
  • Chlorine Bleach – is even more effective, but harder to remove, and more dangerous if not 100% neutralized. Add about one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water, and let flow through the system for one hour. Then, remove all water, refill, and add any cheap chlorine neutralizer at about 10 times its normal dose. Wait another hour, then change all water and refill again. Caution: this treatment kills everything, including beneficial bacteria, so tank will certainly cycle again once fish are added. It may also fade artificial plants and colored gravels.
  • Aquarium Salt – is less effective than either of the above, but very safe and easy to remove. Perhaps the best way to utilize salt is to drain the tank first, then make a slurry of a handful of salt to scrub glasses and stir into gravel. Repeat until all surfaces have been scrubbed. This highly concentrated salt solution is very deadly to most parasites. After treatment, fill, drain completely, and refill the tank before using.
  • Fresh Water – is to a salt water tank what the above salt method is to a freshwater tank. To administer, simply drain the marine aquarium, then refill with fresh water. Allow to filter for 24 hours, then drain and refill with salt water.

Precautions:
Any “nuked” tank might go through a “New Tank Syndrome”, so the aquarist should be prepared and restart with a few, hardy fish. Also, please read product labels for directions on how to safely handle chemicals.

By Jim Kostich

Fish Tank Filters

General Info:

  • Aquarium filters are marvelous devices, saving aquarists a lot of work as they collect waste products for easier removal. But that “removal” remains the hobbyist’s job, and one that should not be taken lightly.
  • Nearly all filters, even so-called “biological” filters like undergravels and certain slow-flow canisters, perform “mechanical” filtration; that is, they collect a certain amount of solid waste. Some, like most power filters and fast-flow canisters, are specifically designed to collect such waste efficiently, rather than allow it to accumulate in the aquarium.
  • But collecting waste is only the beginning, with removal and disposal completing the picture. Is it good enough to just collect garbage in the kitchen wastebasket indefinitely, without ever taking it out to the garbage truck? (Men and teenagers: ask your wives or mothers if not sure about this.) Well, it’s not good enough to simply put a filter on an aquarium, and consider the job done.
  • For one thing, aquarium filters often double as circulation/aeration devices. As they become clogged with waste products, their flow rates drop or even cease altogether, drastically reducing the amount of dissolved oxygen available for the livestock. In extreme cases, whole tanks full of fish can be lost in a few hours. Under less drastic circumstances, fish can become more prone to disease and overall health and growth can be diminished.
  • But even if there is adequate circulation from other sources, there’s no good reason to allow filters to become overloaded with waste. Rotting waste in a filtration device fouls the water every bit as much as rotting waste in the aquarium itself. In fact, it can be said that a filter isn’t a filter unless it’s cleaned.By Jim Kostich