Some neat-o Fish FAQs to keep you busy.
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Q: Are saltwater fish hard to keep alive?
A: Saltwater fish are easy to keep when healthy fish are initially used in a system that has adequate filtration and regular maintenance is carried out. However, the majority of fish are collected from the ocean, and there is the occasional individual that does not adapt well to captivity.
Q: How do you know which fish get along together?
A: Through years of experience, we know which species will tolerate each other in the confines of an aquarium. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the aquarium you can afford, the better, as fish (especially saltwater fish) have a tendency to select and aggressively defend territories.
Q: Must I be constantly checking the pH and salinity of the water?
A: As long as an aquarium is not overcrowded or overfed, pH values will generally not fluctuate. Regular maintenance tasks, such as partial water changes, filter cleaning and gravel vacuuming will help to stabilize the water chemistry from unhealthy fluctuations. The salinity of your aquarium will not change as long as you add water only (no salt) to make up for the water lost from evaporation.
Q: What do the fish eat and how often do I feed them?
A: This depends somewhat on the eating habits of the fish you have, and whether they are carnivorous, herbivorous, or omnivorous. In general, the greater variety of foods offered to the fish, the better off they will be. The exception is during the first 8 weeks in the life of an aquarium. Fish should be fed lightly with prepared dried foods during this time when the aquarium develops its culture of microorganisms (denitrifying bacteria) that help to maintain healthy water chemistry . After the microorganisms have increased in number and the aquarium is considered "mature" or "cycled", additional foods can be introduced, such as frozen krill, shrimp, squid and even vegetables like broccoli, spinach, zucchini, and romaine lettuce.
Q: Do fish sleep?
A: Fish do not have eyelids, so they need to be provided with darkness at night so they can sleep. They can often be found hiding in their favorite secret spots. Some fish species are nocturnal, and they will become more active when the lights go out.
Q: How often does my aquarium need to be cleaned?
A: Most non-commercial setups can be cleaned every two weeks. Cleaning is carried out when algae growth reaches a level that detracts from the system's appearance. The degree of algae growth is directly related to the amount of light the aquarium receives, and the biological load of the aquarium. In a commercial setting (e.g. office, hotel, restaurant), it is often necessary to clean weekly and in some cases twice weekly.
Q: At what temperature should the aquarium be kept?
A: Anywhere between 74 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit is acceptable as long as there are no sudden fluctuations. In non-commercial setups, as long as the home is kept at a comfortable temperature, the aquarium will be fine, although it will run a 3-4 degrees warmer than ambient because of the extra heat generated by the equipment. Cooling or heating may be necessary in a commercial environment if offices turn off A/C or heat during the weekends, or if extra equipment is used (pumps, lights, etc).
Q: Should I buy an aquarium made of glass or acrylic?
A: This is a topic that often sparks heated debate. We prefer and recommend acrylic for a number of reasons. First, they are virtually leak-proof, and often come with lifetime guarantees. Second, unlike glass, it is a simple matter to drill holes in the bottom and sides. This gives us more freedom to design efficient life support systems. Third, sizes and shapes are limited by the imagination, as acrylic is a material that can be formed and bent into a variety of shapes. Fourth, acrylic is clear and without optical distortions, while glass has a greenish cast and has a large refractive index. Finally, acrylic is a better insulator and helps to buffer the aquarium from temperature fluctuations in the environment. One drawback is acrylic scratches easier than glass. However, scratches when they occur can be buffed out of acrylic while they are permanent in glass, and we've seen plenty of glass tanks over the years with scratches and nicks.
Q: Should I decorate my aquarium with dead skeletal coral or these newer hand-crafted reef inserts?
A: Decorating with dead coral skeletons has been the industry standard for several years. However, decreasing availability of quality colored coral pieces and expense has sparked the development of alternatives, such as the construction of acrylic and plastic simulated reef design. With hand-crafted reef inserts, there are few limitations to size, shape and color of aquarium decorations.
Q: How many fish can I have in my tank?
A: Saltwater fish are collected from the ocean, and thus are accustomed to having large territories. Although most adapt to aquarium life well, some species do not tolerate the presence of others. There is no real rule for how many fish per gallon of water that applies equally well to fresh and saltwater systems, except perhaps that the less crowded the fish, the happier they will be. Also, it is important to remember the potential size of some fish, because they are often collected as juveniles. For instance, a new 180 gallon aquarium with 15 2-3 inch fish will not be suitable for those 15 5-8 inch fish two years down the road.