FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions gleaned from your e-mails.

We've accumulated so many FAQs from your e-mails that we felt having you scroll through all of them would become tedious. So, we set out to categorize the questions hoping to make it easier. The first thing that became apparent is that nearly all your questions are about fish health and nearly all our answers address water quality. The best we could do is offer the option of Freshwater,  Saltwater, Pond or Reptile FAQs. Therefore, we leave it to you to scroll through the list and hope you find something of interest.

Saltwater FAQs Freshwater FAQs Pond FAQs Reptile FAQs

Saltwater FAQS

Q. Hi there! We have a 90 gallon saltwater tank. I have heard that you must have one gallon of water for every inch of fish. But is that every inch of fish NOW, or every inch of prospective fish? For instance, if my yellow tang is now 3 inches, but will eventually grow to 18 inches (example) do I count him as 3 inches, or 18 inches? Is there some rule that says the fish will not out grow his surroundings, so that if I had a 10 gallon tank, he would only grow to be 10 inches, or would he grow the full size, and just not be able to swim around? Thank you!
A.
One inch of fish per gallon NOW if you plan on a larger tank OR one inch of fish per gallon PROSPECTIVE if you keep this tank. Fish generally grow 3/4, 7/8 of wild specimen size.

Q. I have a 45 gallon tank, and was wondering what would be the smallest stingray I could put in there.
A.
Your aquarium is too small for a stingray of any size. You need a 75 gallon or larger.

Q. I have a 75 gallon saltwater tank that has been set up about four months. I  have two yellow-tail blue damsels, two clownfish, a bicolor dottyback, and a  yellow tang. All the fish are eating well and appear healthy. However, just  recently, the tang's fins have become ragged, and his lateral line is a reddish-brown color. He also has the reddish-brown color around his eyes.  He is still eating very well, but I'm concerned this could be the beginning of a problem. I feed a varied diet, including "Seaweed Selects" algae, frozen shrimp enhanced with sprulina, and various flake and pellet foods. I used "CopperSafe" when introducing the fish because I had parasite problems the  first month (none since using CopperSafe), but my copper level is decreasing with each water change. Any idea what the problem could be?
A. Check pH and ensure that it stays between 8.2 - 8.3 consistently, and be prepared to treat with an antibiotic - your fish has an infection - kanamyacin sulfate, 250 mg. 2 capsules per 10 gallon. Food choices are fine.

Q. I have a 29 gallon reef tank with 35 pounds of live rock, 40 pounds of live sand, 2 clown fish, 1 yellow tang, 1 blue yellow tailed damsel and 1 white sebae anemone. My problem is I can not seem to raise my calcium level past 300 ppm. I have checked my alkalinity, ph and they are as high as they need to be. I am scared to try and put any corals in the tank because I have heard that the calcium needs to be above 400 ppm. What can I do to raise the level or is this high enough to keep corals alive and healthy in the tank?
A. Calcium should be added daily or even twice a day to achieve the higher level. The live rock probably has an extreme amount of new growth that is using all of the available calcium. there is also the possibility of lowering the alkalinity and then buffering both the calcium and the alkalinity at the same time.

Q. Is there any shark that can be kept in a 55 gallon aquarium?
A. If you mean saltwater, probably not.

Q. I am planning on setting up a 55 gallon saltwater aquarium. I'm interested in getting a longhorned cowfish. I would also like to add a dwarf lionfish and some anemone fish, but I'm not sure if they can go together. I would also like to have a large anemone in there but I'm not sure if that would be a problem with the cowfish. Can I put this combination of fish together in the same tank, and if not, what fish would you suggest go in with the cow fish.
A. Dwarf lion and anemone fish and anemone are O.K., if the dwarf lion is small. Cowfish not compatible with anemone.

Q. I have a 75 gallon reef tank, I am currently having a problem with red algae on my live rock and sand bed. Do you have any suggestions on controlling it. My nitrate is 0 and have been doing water changes.
A. This is called cyarobacteria. It is a natural algae that is a nuisance in our aquariums. Phosphate removal and treating with 250 mg. Erythroyacin per 40 gallons of aquarium volume will kill it.

Q. I have a55gal saltwater tank with a puffer, two triggers three damsels and a seahorse. The problem is the water looks real milky. I have done several water changes and even took some water to my local pet store to have it tested. They said that the water tested fine. I too tested it and the ph, alkalinity, ammonia was fine. I have a skimmer, a bio filter, undergravel filter with a power head so I think filteration is not the problem. I have called every pet store around they have no idea what to do can you help me see my fish again?
A. You are probably experiencing what is commonly called a "bacterial or algae bloom." this will not endanger your fish. By adding an Ultraviolet (U.V.) sterilizer you will eliminate this problem and keep it from ever coming back. NOTE: make sure to use the manufacture's suggested flow rate through the U.V.

Q. I was hoping you had a web page explaining how to clean the sand in a saltwater tank. I have a fresh water tank now, and I syphon the gravel every two weeks. How do you keep up with the same maintenence for a saltwater aquarium (no reef).
A. You can use sand sifting fish such as: railway sleeper goby, diamond goby, sifting fighting conch.

Q. I need to set up a 20 gallon saltwater aquarium and would like to put some very NON AGGRESSIVE colorful fish in the tank along w/ some invertebrates. What would you suggest.
A. Royal Gramma, Green Chromis, Pigmy Angel, Catalina Goby, Neon Goby, and Eel Blenny come to mind.

Q. I have purchased a new 90 gallon aquarium. I plan on adding 75 pounds of live Fiji rock, soft and hard corals and then fish at a later date. I purchased the light system but do not have a filter system yet because with so many types of system out there I need to know what to purchase:Trickle with Bio Balls, Skimmer or Canister or a combination. Could you give me a idea of what type of filtration I should use??
A. The trickle will do best in that application.

Q. I have a 90 gallon aquaium and plan on using it as a breeding aquarium. What saltwater fish are the easiest to breed? and the same for soft/hard corals?
A. Clownfish and leather corals and mushroom corals.

Q. What should the temp. be for a saltwater fish tank?
A. Preferably 77 degrees.

Q. I have a 700 gallon saltwater tank in my bar/restaurant. I have 4 leopard, 3 lionfish and some squirrels. I have the tank serviced every week and all appears to be well. However the smell is awful and customers have complained (The tank is on the wall behind the bar and the sumps are underneath it). Properly maintained should there be any smell for a tank this size and if so what is causing it? What can I do to get rid of the smell and keep it away?
A. Talk to your service company and see if they could add some carbon to your existing filter system. This should cut down or eliminate your odor problem. Make sure to tell your service company that the carbon MUST be replaced every 3 to 4 weeks or it may begin releasing these contaminants back in a more toxic form.

Q. Could you answer a question for me? I purchased a phosphate test kit from you to test levels in both my salt and freshwater aquariums. The results are similar, .05 for salt and .10 for fresh. I figured the levels would be up. One of your employees told me the only way to alleviate this problem was to purchase deionized water from someone like you, as that tap water contained higher levels to begin with. Ok, I accepted it until I tested my tap water. There was no indication of phosphates at all. I tested it twice with the same results. So now to my question. Why are the levels in my tanks elevated while my tap water shows no signs of phosphate? What causes this problem.? Obviously, purchasing deionized water from you is not going to solve my problem...Help me if you can.
A. O.K., all municipal water systems have some amount of phosphates. Typically it is detectable, but you can have levels low enough that a standard test kit will not detect them. Also, fish wastes and food can leach phosphates into the water, resulting in your increased levels. If your tap is that low in phosphates, a phosphate remover will help to eliminate existing levels and a low or no phosphate food and regular water changes will help keep them down.

Q. Hi, I just recently treated the tank for ich. 55g. My cow got a sec bacterial infection on his belly. I think he is healing now but now the trigger has been nipping at the infected site. He has taken a few chunks out of the cow! What can I do?
A. Divide the tank with an aquarium divider.

Q. I am thinking about starting a salt water aquarium. What size tank should I start with and what are the most cost effective accessories needed to maintain a good looking tank.
A. You can start a saltwater fish aquarium as small as 10-15 gallons. Although it's suggested it's more stable to begin with at least 25 gallons or larger. A very good, and cost effective, filter system would be the line of Penguin and Emperor filters by Marineland. They provide all your mechanical, chemical and biological needs. Please refer to our section on "A Brief Introduction to the Saltwater Aquarium."

Q. My yellow tang appears to be losing weight. He has been in the tank - 125 gal - for about 6 months, doing fine. Also in the tank are 4 or 5 soft corals, 2 blue devils, 1 yellowtail, a 3 stripe and 3 crabs. Any ideas ??? Thanks in advance, for any advice.
A. Try some frozen food with spirulina such as Emerald Entree.

Q. Recently, I purchased a clam, but did not know that a bi-color angel would nip at it. I took the angel out and now the clam looks good but has some brown spots on it, like the color has been eaten off. Will it regain that color, it is just a small area. It has opened good.
A. Yes, it will regenerate and the bruises will clear.

Q. started a 55 gallon salt water aquarium and did everything that I should have done. All of my levels were starting to normalize until about two weeks before I could have started adding more fish besides my three damsels. About two weeks ago my crushed coral began turning dark brown. I also had a couple of rocks in the tank that are now completely covered by this brown stuff. My crushed coral now looks like the top layer has been burned (it is dark dark brown). What is this and how can I fix it? I also wanted to know what you thought about switching over to sand instead of crushed coral and how much trouble would it be?
A. The algae sounds like Brown Diatoms. You can turn your gravel, buffer the water to 3.6 ppm alkalinity, clean the rock (decorations) and it should burn off. If you used tap water to mix the saltwater, you may have a more serious algae. Hard to tell from your e-mail. You could also add some hermit crabs to assist with tank maintenance. The sand would be fine provided you are not using an undergravel filter.

Q. I have a 75 gallon salt water tank with a coral beauty angel, porcupine puffer, and a dragon wrasse. I was considering getting a couple damsels of various kinds to add some color and life, but I heard they might nip on the other fish or each other. Should I skip the damsel idea?
A. It's true that the damsels are aggressive towards tank-mates. You could try adding one or two yellowtail damsels as the last fish to be added.

Q. I am thinking about starting a salt water aquarium. What size tank should I start with and what are the most cost effective accessories needed to maintain a good looking tank.
A. You can start a saltwater fish aquarium as small as 10-15 gallons. Although it's suggested it is more stable to begin with at least 25 gallons or larger. A very good, and cost effective, filter system would be the line of Penguin and Emperor filters by Marineland. They provide all your mechanical, chemical and biological needs. Please refer to our section on "A Brief Introduction to the Saltwater Aquarium."

Q. I am trying to find out some information on Teacup Stingrays. I need to know what types of food they eat and if I can get them to eat shrimp pellets.
A. The Teacup rays we get in are typically about 6-7 inches in disc diameter, but they will grow to be nearly twice this size. When small, they require an aquarium at least 36 inches in length with a substrate of fine grained gravel or sand and only minimal, if any, decorations. Particularly important with rays is that their aquarium has good filtration as they are sensitive to nitrites and nitrates. Teacup rays do require live food. They seem to be especially fond of ghost shrimp, but will also take earthworms if hungry enough. You would be lucky indeed if you could get one to eat shrimp pellets.

Q. I purchased a clam, did not know that a bi-color angel would nip at it. I took the angel out and the clam looks good but has some brown spots on it, like the color has been eaten off. Will it regain that color? It is just a small area.
A. Yes, it will regenerate and the bruises will clear.

Q. After a month of cloudy water and trying B-Clear and changing some water, etc. I still have cloudy water. It is sort of greenish and I think it is bacterial bloom. Today I was given two Erythromycin tablets which I have put in the tank. How long will that take to show improvements? By the way, I brought in a water sample and my water is fine. Any other advice? The tank has not cleared up since I put the Erythromycin in several hours ago. I thought that your guy told me a few hours, not sure.
A. The B-Clear is made to clear up cloudy water caused by a population explosion of bacteria in your tank. It is a WHITE, hazy, foggy looking cloud. If your cloudiness is greenish in color, it is in all probability, an algae bloom. It is caused by either excess light or nutrients or both. If it is indeed an algae bloom, the B-Clear wouldn’t work nor will the Erythromycin. If the capsule’s don’t work, the next step would be to determine why your water is green, how long do you leave your lights on? Are you getting direct or indirect sunlight on the tank, and finally, are you overfeeding. Any of these can cause green water.

Q. Can I keep any type of shark in a 125 gallon tank...if yes which species..... and how many?
A. There are several small species of saltwater sharks that will survive in a 125 gallon tank. Horned sharks, banded cat sharks, and small leopard sharks will survive in a 125. Numbers need to be kept to a minimum, maybe one or two. There are many more species of freshwater sharks that are suitable for a 125.

Q. We have a Lion fish, Porcupine Puffer and a Yellow Tang in a 55 gallon long with a live Coral and Live Fiji Rock. I have been told that with a Puffer, I cannot have any live coral or invertebrates because the puffer will eat them. Is this true and is there anything that they will not eat?
A. Yes, it is true. Puffers eat most invertebrates and destroy coral polyps so it would be wise to remove your puffer from the tank. They are curious and intelligent fish and there are very few corals/invertebrates they will not eat.

Q. Do you ever have available those colorful sea slugs you see in books?
A. The colorful sea slugs you see in books are very difficult to keep alive in captivity due to feeding problems, mostly.


Freshwater FAQS

Q. What types of small sharks would do well in a community tank?
A.  Compatible sharks would be: Iridescent sharks, bala sharks, hifin Chinese, blue cetopsis sharks. Possible compatible sharks: Redtail, rainbow.

Q. I recently purchased a royal pleco and noticed that planetcatfish recommends that bogwood be part of their diet. What is it?
A.
Bogwood is just waterlogged wood and it is good to supplement their diet with the wood as it is part of their natural diet.

Q. Hi, I was just wandering what kind of plants would be good for a 10 gal. tank, and what kind of fish would get along with my scissor tails, my neon's, and my guppies.
A.
Sounds pretty full of fish now. The guppies will have live babies. Plants depend on your lighting - anubias spec. will be good to start with.

Q. I recently set up a cold water fish tank with two shubunkins. However one died after weeks. I don't understand why as I've done everything according to the book. the surviving one is swimming close to the surface of the water, but does not seem to be gasping for air. The temperature of the water seems to be fine to...should I be worried????
A.
You should be testing your water for ammonia, nitrite and pH. Your tank must be new or fairly new. It sounds like high nitrite poisoning. Fish breath air into their bodies via their gills. Nitrite interferes with oxygen exchange into the bloodstream, causing the fish to cruise the surface trying to get more O2 into it's body. If I am right, 2 days of 5% water changes will help with this problem.

Expect that the nitrites may return if the tank is not completely cycled. For more information, refer to the nitrification process on our site.

Q. I have one adult and one baby fantail and I am also breeding guppies like there is no tomorrow. not doing that on purpose, just sort of happened. My problem is that my baby fantail is suffering he has fin rot and white cottony patches on his body. I have battled this before with my now adult fantail. He made a beautiful recovery to my astonishment, because he was almost dead when I found him. This time I treated the tank the same way I treated it before and my baby is not recovering and I am afraid I will lose him.
A.
Make sure there is zero ammonia, zero nitrite and your pH is 7.0 or greater and treat with sulfa.

Q. I was given a baby red-eye puffer, female, as a birthday present. I have 3 golden barbs and 3 tiger barbs,3 coliloches and a bulldog pleco, I was told, that I shouldn't have a problem with the puffer being aggressive toward my fish. is this true? Also I was wondering what should I feed her? currently I feed her freeze dried bloodworms, but realize she needs more.
A. A red-eye puffer's favorite diet is freeze-dried plankton. If fed adequately, he should not bother his tank mates.

Q. I'm setting up a 270 gallon freshwater aquarium that will feature a black arowana, two teacup stingrays, one black polka dot ray, and a few plecos. I would like to put a pair of tiger oscars in the tank but I'm not sure if they can go with the stingrays.
A. No oscars with stingrays and be leary of mixing stingray varieties.

Q. I have a 125 gallon freshwater tank with a community of fish. I do not believe I am near my fish capacity. Many of the fish are small although a few of the fish have gotten rather large. I change about 35 gallons every three weeks. I have an Eheim pump suitable for the size of the tank. I see that most all the time there are a lot of suspended and floating “dirt” particles making the water seem dirty to me. The fish do not agree and are very happy campers. I kinda feel like maybe water polishing is the answer, but I don’t
really know what water polishing is. Can you tell me about it and what equipment might be required? I long for water that is crystal clear.

A. You can polish the water with any form of water polishing filter such as a micron cartridge in a Magnum or a diatomaceous filter. It is just a filter media that pulls extremely small particles from the water. You may also try,for a short time, running "Poly Filter" material in your Eheim.

Q. We purchased some discus from you recently. Please let me know what I should do with the fish, as there is just no way I will be making it back to your area in the next few months.
A. It sounds like things are just fine. Feed lots of frozen bloodworms and beefheart. The daily water changes may be cut back to something less frequent if you wanted to. These are captive raised discus and daily changes are not as important.

Q. I have a 29 gallon aquarium with two goldfish. It has been running for two and a half years. My tank set-up includes an Eheim Professional filter and a undergravel filter with a powerhead. I have been reading online about undergravel filter maintance, and I read one site that advised to clean the undergravel plate once a year. With a larger tank, like my own, should this be done? If so, how should I do this, and what should I do with the gravel that I have taken out?
A. We would not recommend cleaning the undergravel plates because of the possible disruption to the beneficial bacteria responsible for consuming fish waste. While the Eheim is a biological filter, please understand that the nitrifying bacteria are equally dispersed in all mediums with favorable conditions (i.e., the Eheim and the underground filter). While any disruption by cleaning the U.G. plate would be temporary, it would nonetheless induce stress in your fish that would not offset any benefits gained.

Q. I have a Beta tank at my office. I had come in a couple of weeks ago and asked what to do if my business was closed a couple of days. The answer given to me  was don't worry about not feeding for the 2 days you will be closed. We re-opened this morning. My Beta only sits in the corner, up top, wiggling his fins. He looks fine. He ate well. I can't see any evidence of stress or parasites. The water tests good. Every once in a while, he'll swim around the tank, but he always comes back to the spot in the corner. This is not his usual behavior. Would it have anything to do with the lights being out for 2 days? Do you have any ideas? Should I be worried about this? 
A. Change the water and keep an eye on the fish for listlessness and/or swelling and discoloration. As long as he is still eating, I would just continue to observe him. It may be necessary to treat with an antibiotic. Watch to see if he is building a bubble nest. The lights out and no feeding for two days should not be an issue.

Q. I have recently purchased a 29 gallon tank. IT is being used as a freshwater tank. I was interested in finding some colorful fish. What would be a good choice? Also, i was wondering if there are any sharks or interesting fish I can got for my tank.
A. Although there are no true freshwater sharks, there are a few fish called sharks. They are the Red Tail shark, Rainbow shark, Iridescent shark, Bala shark, and Hifin Chinese shark that will do fine once your aquarium finishes the nitrification cycle. Please refer to section on "Selecting & Setting Up a Freshwater Aquarium." 

Q. My betta is sick. he's sitting on the bottom of the tank, breathing heavy. He's lost his purple color and looks gray and also has stopped eating (for the past week). I've cleaned the tank, but don't know much else to do. I've read about how we could use rock salt as a treatment. What do you recommend?
A. You can use rock or Epsom salts @ 1 tbs per five gallons in conjunction with treatment. However, I would recommend treating with an antibiotic such as Bettamax. If you are using distilled water, STOP, it is bad for fish.

Q. I was just trying to find some information on what I think may be a parasite in my freshwater tank. It is a small "beetle" -looking insect (kind of like a flea) that is running very rampant in my tank. It doesn't seem to be bothering the fish at all (2 bikers, a plecostomus, and a puffer), but they are all over the bottom of the tank. Any information you could provide me with would be very helpful. By the way, I only feed them beefheart, frozen, if that helps at all.
A. Sounds like daphina, "waterflea," completely safe and good food source for fish.

Q. I have a Majestic Angel. His right eye is clear, but I noticed the left eye is starting to get cloudy. Everything else about him is perfect. He swims all around the tank, eats constantly and I see no signs of parasites on the body. Should I be concerned? If so, what could I do for precaution. I recently did a water change.
A.This is surely an infection of the eye, probably a secondary injury. No treatment suggested at this time unless it gets worse, then try Eye Fungex by Aquatronics. Also check your H2O quality. This fish requires EXCELLENT water quality.

Q. Hi, I have 4 Neons, 1 Red Pacu, 1 Plecostomus, and one catfish, none exceed 4" in length. My Pacu recently got sick and had a cottony look, and later died. I treated my tank and everything is clean. Now my Plecostomus has small white dots that look sort of like little bumps. They could be just its skin texture, his eyes are also cloudy. They have sort of a film-looking cover. I don't know what to do. Can you help me?
A. First of all, we'd need to know both what size tank it is and how often you do water changes. There are so many possibilities, calling us would be best. It sounds like the pleco has ich that has now either resulted in a secondary bacterial infection or it could be poor water quality. A water sample needs to be tested and your tank maintenance routines need to be known to try and solve the complete problem.

Q. Could you answer a question for me? I purchased a phosphate test kit from you to test levels in both my salt and freshwater aquariums. The results are similar, .05 for salt and .10 for fresh. I figured the levels would be up. One of your employees told me the only way to alleviate this problem was to purchase deionized water from someone like you, as that tap water contained higher levels to begin with. Ok, I accepted it until I tested my tap water. There was no indication of phosphates at all. I tested it twice with the same results. So now to my question. Why are the levels in my tanks elevated while my tap water shows no signs of phosphate? What causes this problem.? Obviously, purchasing deionized water from you is not going to solve my problem...Help me if you can.
A. O.K., all municipal water systems have some amount of phosphates. Typically it is detectable, but you can have levels low enough that a standard test kit will not detect them. Also, fish wastes and food can leach phosphates into the water, resulting in your increased levels. If your tap is that low in phosphates, a phosphate remover will help to eliminate existing levels and a low or no phosphate food and regular water changes will help keep them down.

Q. I can't get over it... I've had aquariums for several years and now I bought a new 10 gallon one and a week after the water turned so cloudy that I can hardly see the fish! What I read in your FAQs that it may be an aerobic bacterial bloom, well , I thought the same and bought at least four different products to fight that and none of them worked! Do you really think that an Ultra Violet sterilizer will fix it? What else can I try?
A. An Ultra Violet sterilizer light will fix it or you can just give it time.

Q. Hi, I was given a 55 gallon tank with 1 algae eater plecostomus approximately 10 inches in length head to tail, and three variety of cichlids, ranging from 4 to 6 inches in length. I have some concerns for the cichlids, the two smaller ones have become very aggressive, and are also having seizure like spasms. The coloring has been getting darker, their eyes have even changed to a red. I have never raised cichlids before, and the condition I had received them was extremely bad. Just wondering if it was a normal trait or they are adapting to they're clean & new environment.....Help!
A
. It sounds as if the "seizures" are spawning activity induced by the "clean" water.

Q. I have three clown loaches in my tank. A week ago I noticed one of them has gotten very swollen and its eyes are bulging. I was wondering if it was either about to lay eggs or was sick and the tank would need to be treated in some way.
A. It has a bacteria infection of some sort. The BEST place to start is with a water test. If the water quality is poor, then correct it before moving forward with antibiotics.

Q. I am considering purchasing an aquarium, but have been told by some that it is a nightmare to care for. Others have said that with the changes in tanks, filters, etc. that it is not like it used to be. Is there a "low maintenance" type system out there? Is it better to do a fresh water or salt water tank with that concern?
A. A freshwater tank will be easier for you to maintain. We recommend using Marineland's Eclipse Systems which include 10 gal, 15, gal, 20, gal and 29 gal setups. They come complete with motor, BioWheel and cartridge. Quick and easy maintenance.

Q. I recently bought a 10 gallon aquarium, and I was wondering what fish should I start out with? I would like to have some unique fish but I don't want a Very territorial one because of the size, also how big do the smallest angelfish get?
A. All small angels get large. You should start with fish such as Barbs and Danios to cycle your aquarium. See nitrification article on our website about more details and time frame, and also an overview on filtration in general:

Q. Hello there. I have a question. I have a 38 gallon tank with 3 silver dollars in it. They are each about 5 inches long. I take good care of the tank, doing water changes every 2 weeks and feeding only a couple times a day. I also test for ammonia, pH, and nitrite weekly. Everything is great except one thing. All 3 dollars' fins are really ragged. Especially their anal and tail fins. Their dorsal fins are really the only ones completely unharmed. I have treated the tank 2 times this month for fin rot but it hasn't helped! What do I do? Is it really fin rot or are they fighting like crazy when I'm not around? Please send any info you can... Thank you very much! Your store is awesome!
A. Well, I think you are under feeding. These fish have incredible needs for food. I suggest a pelletized spirulina food and feedings of up to 4 times a day.

Q. Hi, I have a bit of a situation... I currently have 2 aquariums, one is a 20 long and the other is a 30 long. In the 20 gallon, I have 4 tinfoil barbs that are about 4-5 inches each. In the 30 gallon, I have 3 silver dollars and a pleco that are about 4 inches each. My 30 gallon is doing great, where as my 20... well, It's not so great. I have to do a 50% water change/gravel siphoning every 5-7 days just to keep the water quality suitable. (chemically and visually) So obviously, I'm in the market for a bigger aquarium. The thing is, I really don't want to take care of 2 tanks anymore. So, what size tank would be suitable for 4 tinfoils, 3 silver dollars and a pleco? Keep in mind I'm on 19 year old's budget... Thank you for your help. You guys have the best store ever!
A. Sorry, the Tinfoil Barbs reach 12 inches and the Silver Dollars reach 8 inches. This means you will need a 125 gallon minimum.

Q. How big do banded cat sharks get?
A. Up to 2-1/2 to 3 feet in an aquarium.

Q. I have just bought a 55 gal. long aquarium. I will be putting 6 freshwater Angelfishes in the tank with as many plants as possible.
A. Before you consider putting delicate fish such as angelfish in your new setup, please refer to our article about nitrification

Q. I have a 75 gallon tank that I have had set up for one year. I have been battling cloudy water since day one. I use Tank safe when I do water changes. I have tried various products to clear the water, but nothing works! The tank has a white snowy look to the water. Most of the time the background can't be seen. The fish are doing well, I never lost a fish yet. I even tried 70 gallon water changes, after 2-3 days the tank is back were it was.
A. It sounds like you have a aerobic bacteria explosion in process. Not uncommon, but unfortunate. Try "B" Clear by Hagen or an Ultra Violet (U.V.) sterilizer.

Q. I have recently purchased a 10 gallon freshwater aquarium for my daughter. I  wanted to find out what kinds of fish you would recommend for the first time  aquarium owner.
A. We generally recommend small fish for small aquariums such as your daughter's. These would include a variety of tetras, rasboras, barbs and even some cichlids. Please come by the store sometime and we'll be happy to point out the fish we have in stock that will be most appropriate for this tank.

Q. Hi, I have a bit of a situation... I currently have 2 aquariums, one is a 20 long and the other is a 30 long. In the 20 gallon, I have 4 tinfoil barbs that are about 4-5 inches each. In the 30 gallon, I have 3 silver dollars and a Pleco that are about 4 inches each. My 30 gallon is doing great, whereas my 20... well, It's not so great. I have to do a 50% water change/gravel siphoning every 5-7 days just to keep the water quality suitable. (chemically and visually) So obviously, I'm in the market for a bigger aquarium. The thing is, I really don't want to take care of 2 tanks anymore. So, what size tank would be suitable for 4 tinfoil's, 3 silver dollars and a Pleco? Keep in mind I'm on 19 year-old's budget... Thank you for your help. You guys have the best store ever!
A. Sorry, the Tinfoil Barbs reach 12 inches and the Silver Dollars reach 8 inches. This means you will need a 125 gallon minimum.

Q. Hello there. I have a question. I have a 38 gallon tank with 3 silver dollars in it. They are about 5 inches long a piece. I take good care of the tank, doing water changes every 2 weeks and feeding only a couple times a day. I also test for ammonia, ph, and nitrite weekly. Everything is great except one thing. All 3 dollars' fins are really ragged. Especially their anal and tail fins. Their dorsal fins are really the only ones completely unharmed. I have treated the tank 2 times this month for fin rot but it hasn't helped! What do I do? Is it really fin rot or are they fighting like crazy when I'm not around? Please send any info you can... Thank you very much! Your store is awesome!
A. Well, it's possible you are under feeding. These fish have incredible needs for food. I suggest a pelletized spirulina food and feedings of up to 4 times a day.

Q. I just purchased a 29 gallon tank that had housed lizards. I would like to use it for freshwater fish. What must I do to make it safe for them? It contains, white sand, rocks and some plastic plants.
A. I'm assuming that the tank has a screen cover. I would recommend replacing it with a glass canopy or full hood. I would throw out the sand as it is probably not safe for fish. Next, you need to rinse out the aquarium and decorations. Make sure you use an aquatic substrate suitable for the fish you want. Buy the appropriate filtration and a heater and you are good to go. Biological filtration is the most important part of an aquarium set-up.

Q. I was just at another pet store inquiring about Piranhas and had told them that I was going to The Aquatic Critter to buy some red belly piranha. The guy told me the piranha were illegal to sell in Tennessee and that probably what you had were a specific type of piranha that had no teeth and ate a specific type of fish food. Is that true?
A. We do indeed have red belly piranha, with teeth that will aggressively eat many LIVE foods. There are no “piranha” without teeth! I believe there has been a misunderstanding at some point by someone; it IS illegal to sell piranha in any state where, if released into the wild, they could reproduce and disturb the local ecosystem. As the ambient water temperature in Tennessee is much too cold to support piranha, it is LEGAL to sell them here.

Q. I’m confused by whether to use salt or not in my 20 gallon aquarium. What’s aquarium salt? Is it the same as rock salt I buy in the grocery store? If not, what should I look for in the grocery store? What can salt do for my aquarium? How much should I use? 

Also, there are two statements about Platies that confuse me about using salt: 

  1. Must not be kept in brackish water conditions with salt supplements, and 
  2. They’ll do better with one tablespoon of aquarium salt per five gallons of water. Which one is correct? My red wag tail platy died and I’m suspecting that ‘salt’ is the reason.

A. Salt added to aquariums is very beneficial for the fish. You may be able to use salt from your local grocery store. If you do, make sure to use non-iodized salt. The general instructions for salt in freshwater aquariums is one tablespoon for each five gallons of water. Brackish water contains much more salt than one tablespoon for each five gallons and is inappropriate for Platies. Therefore, both statements are correct. It is difficult without any information to determine the death of your fish. 

Q. Can I keep any type of shark in a 125 gallon tank...if yes which species..... and how many?
A. There are several small species of saltwater sharks that will survive in a 125 gallon tank. Horned sharks, banded cat sharks, and small leopard sharks will survive in a 125. Numbers need to be kept to a minimum, maybe one or two. There are many more species of freshwater sharks that are suitable for a 125.

Q. First, I’m planning on getting a new tank, and I’m looking at one with an Eclipse brand filter system. I’d like to hear your opinion of this brand/system. Second, this will be a community tank centering on angels. I’d like to add some suckermouth catfish and either red-tail or rainbow sharks. Are there any other fish you would recommend? (The tank will be a 29 gal.) And third, when I set the tank up, I’d rather not start it out with the angels, they will come later. (For obvious reasons.) Are the catfish and/or sharks good ones for starting the tank, or should I get something like neons to start it, and then just write them off once I get the angels?
A. We like the Eclipse brand filter systems very much! We recommend rainbow shark (one only, as they can be aggressive toward one another). Other fish - gold white clouds, serpae tetra, red eye tetra. Neons cannot start a cycle, they will die. The serpae and red eye’s and rainbow sharks can start it and live for up to 5-6 years.

Q. I’m in the market for a Sicilian worm to liven up my aquarium. It has been told to me that they are on the endangered list. true or false???
A. True!

Q. I recently introduced what I believe to be a Trapdoor snail into my small aquarium (5 gallons). The other occupants are four Neon Tetras, a Zebra Tetra and a 3" Plecostomus. I use an undergravel filter and a second air forced charcoal filter. Everything has been fine for over a year now, until this. Now the Plecostomus has withdrawn (hides) and doesn’t appear to be interested in the shrimp pellets it has dined on for so long. Any ideas?
A. Normally the introduction of a ½” snail will not affect your water quality. But, since you are already at your max bio load, it’s possible that the addition of another animal could. Plecostomus are very sensitive to a drop in pH and in a small system such as a 5 gallon tank, the parameters need to be closely monitored. Even though it sounds rudimentary, but have you tested your pH, ammonia, or nitrite?

Q. Hello, I have had a 30 gallon tank for 3 months. Everything has been great until now. This last week I checked the water for nitrite, ammonia, and pH. My nitrite was .5 ppm, ammonia 1.0 ppm and the ph was 7.8. What happened? I broke in the tank with a couple of 4" channel cats and after around 5 weeks, my ammonia and nitrite were completely gone. I started doing gravel siphoning every 3½ weeks. Everything was great until a few days ago when all that junk I said above happened. What should I do?
A. You did not say how large your channel catfish have gotten or how many fish you’ve added since you finished the nitrification cycle. I would suspect that overfeeding and excess nutrients are to blame. Try doing 50% water changes twice a month and your water quality should improve.

Pond FAQS

Q. We have a manmade pond that already has too many goldfish and koi and have noticed frogs moving in. I can't tell you exactly what kind of frog but we have always removed the eggs and relocated the frogs. Can they harm our pond other than taking up space? I don't want to be overrun with frogs since it was intended as a "fish" pond.
A. No, the frogs won't hurt. The frogs will actually move out if they get too over-crowded and they may even be tree frog eggs. They only lay their eggs in water and then move out.

Q. We have a 125 gallon pvc liner pond outside. We have not been able to establish clear water or had luck with water plants such as water hyacinths. We do have about ten gold fish that seem to do OK even with the green water. I would love to have clear water! I have a pump with a sponge filter. Is there an ultraviolet filter that I can purchase to add to what I have or should I start over?
A. Yes, there is a U.V. sterilizer available for your pond. It can be installed inline, outside your pond. It will handle up to a 1,000 gallon pond and a maximum flow rate of 500 G.P.H.

Q. Can I put a channel cat in my goldfish pond without having a problem? I don't want to put anything in the pond that might hurt the goldfish, but Iunderstand the channel cat will clean up what the algae eaters won't.
A. Yes, for a time. When the channel gets very large (18-24") your goldfish will be at risk. Keep them in until they reach 15".

Q. Hi, I have a 125 gal pond and had it stocked with 6 comets and 2 Koi. I started to notice a change in the behavior of the fish. They all seemed to be lethargic and hid most of the time. We had added some algecide at approx. the same time. Within a week we lost all 8 of the fish. When I had the water tested the Ph was so high it was off the scale. Any idea what could cause the Ph to go so high and would that possible the cause of death of the fish?
A. "Your pH is off the scale".... I am not sure how high that is. If it were checked out with a standard freshwater pH test kit, it probably only scales to 7.6 so, off the scale on that scale would be 7.8 or 7.9. Outdoor ponds typically have high pH and high pH could be a cause of death, but it's hard to tell what happened with the info you've provided.

Q. I have bought several fish from ya’ll for my outside pond. I bought some fish four years ago and did a three section pond, goldfish in one section, comets in one section and fantail, gold and calico in the third. Each section is divided and we tried to make it look like a brook, and there are flat rocks to keep the fish from going to another area. The problem is now I have black goldfish that are larger than my hand, maybe 5" long. They are pretty fish and seem to have a red cast to the color, but if you don’t know that they are there, you don’t seem to see them. I have them in all three ponds. I know that the plants could have eggs in them when I put the plants there, but the plants came out of my Koi pond. and also from the Shubunkins pond, this last pond has the three sections. I even bought the Koi from ya’ll and the Shubunkins, and after I bring them home, I float them in the pond that they are going in and then release them. I don’t divide the plants until the fall so I don’t think that they had eggs in them. (I buy all hardy plants) and should someone give me a plant I put it in an old kids swimming pool for the rest of that year and the fall, then add it to the pond in the spring. So where do the black goldfish come from? Is there anything I can do to NOT have more of these little fellers? Do you still have the feeder goldfish that you can bag up yourself? Because some of mine came out of that, but they were all orange or orange with white on them.
A. The fish you’re seeing are probably some of the feeder goldfish you purchased. The black color is not that unusual in goldfish. In fact, during their lifetime goldfish can turn orange to black and back to orange several times.

Q. I have two Hardy Water Lilies, and have been wondering if it is possible to divide them. If so, How and When???
A. Hardy lilies are generally divided in the spring. Each tuber is divided by cutting with a knife. The divisions should include at least one "eye" (where the lilypads emerge). Repot in 3 parts potting soil, 1 part sand. cover with 1/4" pea gravel leaving the growing tip exposed.

Q. I have a 125 gallon garden pond with fish....The ph level is high right now. The test I did shows it at 7.8. What do I do to bring the ph level down without killing my fish.
A. Leave it there. Much better at 7.8 than on the acidic side. Your fish will be fine.

Q. I would like to buy some pond goldfish for my pond but I don't know what kind to buy. My pond is 20ft by 20ft and is 4ft deep. 
A. All goldfish are pondfish. If your measurements are correct, then your pond is approximately 12,000 gallons.


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