Things I wish I'd known

Discussion in 'General Planted Tank Discussions' started by vauxhallmark, 10 Mar 2009.

  1. vauxhallmark

    vauxhallmark Member

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    Idea for a thread - things that you absolutely take for granted now, but which were a revelation when you first realised it.

    Don't be embarrassed about sounding thick for not realising before - the point is that there are things which are hardly ever mentioned in books or on the web which could help new (or not so new) hobbyists if shared.

    I'll start with three of my biggest D'oh!! moments: :lol:

    TOWELS ARE YOUR FRIENDS

    No matter how careful you are, or how high tech your water changing system is, you will always spill water on the floor, or on the front glass of the aquarium when you're changing water, or trimming plants. Cover the floor in front of the aquarium with a towel, you can always use it to dry your hands if you don't spill anything! And you can polish the outside of the front glass when you're finished.

    TRY AND MAKE WATER CHANGES EASIER

    It's going to be different for everyone, depending on water source, drain location, tank size, etc., but spend a few minutes thinking how you can make your water change as easy as possible - you'll be less likely to miss one then. Some of the things I do are:

    ~ Make sure (as far as possible) that all equipment is mounted where you don't have to turn it off to do a water change. Hinged luminaires or hanging lights are great for this, and position heaters and filter intakes where there'll still be underwater at 'low tide' You might not be able to do this for everything, but the fewer things you have to turn off the better (easier for you, and no chance of forgetting to turn them on again). I do turn my filter down a bit as the spray bar splashes a lot, but the flow adjuster is easy to reach.

    ~ Get a measuring jug and a permanent marker, and fill you containers with water and mark them - eg I use 9l containers, and have them marked in litres up the side. If you know exactly how much water you're going to ad (27l for a normal change for me) then it's easy to take the internal measurement of your tank in cm and calculate how far down from the desired waterline you need to drain - I've got a tiny mark on the side of the tank glass which is exactly where I need to drain down to. (if I had a drain I would make a rigid syphon tube that extended exactly that deep into the tank, put a filter strainer on the end, and just set it going, but I don't, so have to use buckets.) So I just syphon out to my mark, and then start the containers syphoning back into the tank (I try and position tanks where there's something higher than the tank to stand full water containers on for adding new water). I like to add it slowly, so I use a really small diameter tube, but I can leave one container empty into the tank, and just come back and change it when it's empty. I know that the last one won't overfill the tank, so I can leave the house once that one's started.

    ~ Don't forget that the old tank water is great for house or garden plants! Re-use those fertilisers!

    RAZOR BLADES ARE YOUR FRIENDS

    I tried every possible method of removing algae from the glass walls before razor blades, but now I don't use anything else. You may have no algae on your walls, which is great, but I find that after a month or two, even if you can't see any, if you give it a scrape you can see the difference in the clarity of the glass, so it must be growing at a low level for me all the time. They get rid of any limescale lines too. It would be lovely to think that I had an algae free tank, but this proves to me otherwise. Take the time to polish the outside of your tank at the same time - wipe them down with a wet cloth or sponge (or just dip your hand in the tank and wet them if you're feeling lazy 8) ) and wipe dry quickly with a dry cloth, t-shirt, or (a bar-keeping trick) scrunched up newspaper. (Most bars have lots of mirrors, so you have to know the best way of cleaning them! Also the best way to clean windows.) If you're really making an effort put some vinegar in the water you use to clean the outside glasses. Every tank looks better with clean glass.

    So tell us some of your tips, just little things that make you aquarium keeping a bit easier, or more fun, or more efficient.

    Hope to pick up some great new tips,

    Mark
     
  2. james3200

    james3200 Member

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    I use a sieve almost every week when i syphon out the bright sand from my discus tank which has been mixed up with aquasoil and other bits, sand looks new after that :)
     
  3. Egmel

    Egmel Member

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    Save your leftover tights/stockings, they're useful for filter media, purigen, popping over the end of the hosepipe when you're siphoning out water.

    Plastic tubs are great for organising the inside of your under-tank-cabinet.

    Tropical fish don't like really cold water changes - make sure the shower is running at the right temp before you connect it to the hosepipe for refilling.

    Most of the rules stated are rules of thumb and as you learn more about your tank you should feel free to break them as often as you need to!
     
  4. hellohefalump

    hellohefalump Member

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    although it can trigger spawning :D my angel fish lay eggs after a cold water change. Not TOO cold though. Only a couple of degrees lower than the tank
     
  5. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

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    Incase you have a bow front tank like me and the razor blade is not option then i find scourers useful as it has a rough and a smooth side for all algaes! Toothbrushes are handy too for getting into the corners, or cleaning rocks etc. (Saintly uses an electric toothbrush i believe!)
     
  6. Joecoral

    Joecoral Member

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    why can't you use razor blades on a bowfront? Just go (carefully) horizontally along the curve and not up and down
     
  7. Tony Swinney

    Tony Swinney Member

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    I wish I'd known how easy it is to scratch front of the tank, when a bit of the sand gets stuck in the scourer your using :twisted:

    Which led to......

    A pale, or white background will show up glass scratches far less than a dark background :D
     
  8. George Farmer

    George Farmer Founder Staff Member

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    Neat idea. My top 5 - more general tips. Some of which still fly in the face of some advice given by big manufacturers and may provide some enlightenment to newcomers.

    Nitrate and phosphate are important nutrients that don't cause algae in the planted tank. Lack of these nutrients can cause algae.

    Good filtration and circulation are important for most set ups.

    You can grow most 'demanding' plants with low to moderate light, providing there's good nutrients and circulation.

    CO2 isn't necessary for 'demanding' plants. Liquid carbon alternatives are effective and economical in smaller aquaria.

    Hardscape is very important for effective aquascaping.
     
  9. Stu Worrall

    Stu Worrall Forum Moderator Staff Member

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    something I learned from talking to the others at the TGM day..

    Shorter photoperiod for a new tank.

    Id read and read about lighting and how7-8 ish hours was ok and enough for a planted tank. What I hadnt read however was that with low plantmass and a new tank and filter starting off with 5 hours photoperioids then building up over the weeks will help combat the dreaded algae :D
     
  10. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

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    i just find it easier with a scourer :rolleyes:
     
  11. billy boy

    billy boy Member

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    [quote="Egmel"

    Tropical fish don't like really cold water changes - make sure the shower is running at the right temp before you connect it to the hosepipe for refilling.![/quote]

    Interesting idea, How do connect the hosepipe to the shower? :D
     
  12. hellohefalump

    hellohefalump Member

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    circulation, circulation, circulation!

    Wash filter sponges in old tank water not under the tap.

    Position large tanks within easy reach of taps (for filling up) and windows (for dumping old water).
     
  13. JamesM

    JamesM Member

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    Tank don't need water changes.
     
  14. jay

    jay Member

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    So I've been getting wet/breaking my back, cabinet, and floor for nothing?

    :D
     
  15. JamesM

    JamesM Member

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    Depends on your setup obviously :)

    Clive and Tom Barr recommend 0 - 1 water change a year on low tech setups as this keeps the water and co2 more stable. Its different if you're injecting co2 with high light, etc.

    Since doing this a year ago, all signs of algae have gone, water clarity is superb, fish are healthy with no losses, and I'm happy without making the mess I used to :lol:
     
  16. Egmel

    Egmel Member

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    My shower pipe unscrews near the tap end and I screw a hoselock tap connector (with the white adjuster) to that bit, was a lucky discovery :)
     
  17. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Wish I'd known that tweezers made planting so much easier!
     
  18. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

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    planting HC individualy gives a much better carpet... and backache :( worth it though IME ;)
     
  19. StevenA

    StevenA Member

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    Wish I'd known about UKAPS when I got back into planted tanks, would've made life so much easier ;)
     
  20. Superman

    Superman Member

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    Dont rush into planted tanks, make sure you can grow plants first before spending loads of money on plant that then will have to be pulled out.
     

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