How to Care for Aquarium Fish

Feeding Aquarium Fish

One of the three rules of fishkeeping is to not overfeed the fish. All uneaten food in a tank quickly pollutes the water. Overfeeding kills the fish with kindness. The best guideline is to feed only enough food each time for the to fish finish it within five minutes.

Most fish will do well on a diet consisting primarily of dry flake food. Use only brand-name, high-quality food. There is a wide variety of flake foods, and it is best to purchase several kinds and feed a different one each time. This helps ensure a more balanced diet for the fish.

Larger fish and many catfish will do better on pellet foods, which have more bulk. Freeze-dried foods are particularly good for fish that need a lot of protein. By occasionally offering fresh-frozen or live foods, you will ensure that your fish are getting a nutritionally complete diet.

When shopping for food, remember that commercial foods have a limited shelf life. If the containers are dusty or look like they have been on the shelf a long time, go somewhere else.

Purchase small containers. Yes, it is more economical to buy larger sizes, but once the containers are opened, the nutritional value of the food will begin to deteriorate.

Within three to six months, less than half the original nutritional value remains. For this reason, do not buy bulk-packed flake foods unless you have enough fish to consume it within a few months.

For vegetarian fish, there are flake foods that are formulated to provide much more vegetable material and less protein. Flake foods can be supplemented with freeze-dried, frozen, and even live foods, all of which are available at the aquarium store.
Many hobbyists keep small catfish in their tanks to eat excess food that falls to the bottom of the tank. These fish must receive the same quantity and quality of food as the rest of the residents.

Because they feed at the bottom of the tank, it is best to feed them just before turning off the tank lights. The catfish will feed in the dark while the other fish are resting. Heavy pellet foods sink and work especially well for this purpose.

Healthy fish can go for at least one or two weeks without eating. When you leave on vacation for a week or so, don’t worry about not feeding the fish. More fish have probably died from severe water pollution as a result of well-meaning friends or neighbors overfeeding the fish than ever suffered from not eating for a week.

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How to Grow Using Hydroponics

To grow plants like vegetables outdoors successfully, you need the correct balance of nutrients, soil, oxygen and sunlight. But if one of these elements is lacking, you can still grow plants in a controlled environment like a greenhouse. Many people, however, also develop thriving indoor gardens using hydroponic techniques. With this method, you can eliminate the factor of soil condition because you grow your plants without using soil. This type of garden puts chemistry and plant science to work for you.

Choose containers for your hydroponic garden. You can use a regular flowerpot filled with a soilless growing medium that holds the plant roots. If you want to use a hydroponic system with plants in water only, you should consider using a plastic container or trough.

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Select your plants. You can grow almost any vegetable and many fruits using the hydroponic method. Novice hydroponic growers can have success with vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. Consider fruits like strawberries and melons such as cantaloupe or watermelon. Root vegetables like potatoes and turnips can be difficult for beginners.

Pick a sunny location for your hydroponic crops. They need as much sun daily as any plant that grows in soil. Most growers recommend a minimum of six hours of strong sunlight. Your location can be indoors or outdoors, depending on your preference and weather conditions. If you select an indoor location, you will have the option of supplementing the available sunlight with grow lights from a hardware store.

Construct your garden. You can order manufactured hydroponic kits from specialty garden suppliers, or you can assemble the materials you need and build the system yourself. Virginia State University suggests that beginners use a simple hydroponic system that only requires a 3- to 5-gallon plastic container, an air pump, a plastic mesh tray that holds the plants and a soilless growing medium that supports the root system. Your growing medium can be sand, gravel, coir (coconut husks) or vermiculite.

Prepare the container for planting by adding 1 to 2 inches of gravel or sand to the bottom. Place the air pump on top of your medium and plug it into an electrical outlet. Add enough plant nutrient solution to fill the container to a level of 2 inches below the top. Place a mesh tray over the top of the container.

Insert your plants in the tray, allowing the roots to hang down 1 inch into the solution. Start your pump when you have finished inserting the plants. The pump will provide oxygen to the plants’ roots.

Monitor the level of nutrient solution in your container. Add more solution as needed, usually one to three days. The frequency will depend on how many plants are in your container.

Aquarium Fish Feed

Aquarium fish feed is plant or animal material intended for consumption by pet fish kept in aquariums or ponds. Fish foods normally contain macro nutrients, trace elements and vitamins necessary to keep captive fish in good health. Approximately 80% of fishkeeping hobbyists feed their fish exclusively prepared foods that most commonly are produced in flake, pellet or tablet form. Pelleted forms, some of which sink rapidly, are often used for larger fish or bottom feeding species such as loaches or catfish. Some fish foods also contain additives such as sex hormones or beta carotene to artificially enhance the color of ornamental fish.

Ingredients of quality fish food

Fish food should ideally provide the fish with fat (for energy) and amino acids (building blocks of proteins) and the fish food (whether flake or pellet) must be speedily digested in order to prevent build up of intestinal gas, renal failure and infections (such as swim bladder problems and dropsy) and to avoid aquarium pollution due to excessive ammonia. Aquatic diets for carnivores must contain vegetable matter such as spirulina.

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Building block ingredients of fish food

  • Amino acids are the basic components of proteins. An example of an aquatic diet that is a good source of amino acid is a crumbled hard boiled egg offered to small fry. Large amounts of DL-Methionine enhance the headgrowth of the Lionhead goldfish.
  • Fats that are broken down into fatty acids are the main source of energy in fish especially for the heart and skeletal muscles. Fats also assists in vitamin absorption. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble or can only be digested, absorbed, and transported in conjunction with fats.
  • Carbohydrates are molecular substances that include sugars, starches, gums and celluloses. Most of the carbohydrates that are incorporated into aquatic diets are of plant origin and are sources of the enzyme amylase. Carbohydrates, however, are not a superior energy source for fish over protein or fat but digestible carbohydrates do spare protein for tissue building. Unlike in mammals, glycogen is not a significant storage depot of energy in fish.

Sources of fish food

  • Fish meal (protein source) have two basic types: (a) those produced from fishery wastes associated with the processing of fish for human consumption (such as salmon and tuna) and (b) those from specific fish (herring, menhaden and pollack) which are harvested solely for the purpose of producing fish meal.
  • Shrimp meal is made from cull shrimp that are being processed before freezing or from whole shrimp that is not of suitable quality for human consumption. The material to be made into shrimp meal is dried (sun-dried or by using a dryer) and then ground. Shrimp meal is a source of pigments that enhances the desirable color in the tissues of fish. It is also a secondary supplemental protein source for fish.
  • Squid meal is made from squid viscera portions from cannery plants including the eggs and testis. Squid Meal is a highly digestible protein source for fish which provides a full range of amino acids, vitamins, minerals and cholesterol (1.0–1.5%) of cholesterol suitable for fish fry and young fish.
  • Brine shrimp (adult Artemia) is a common food source for fish that are available in adult-form, as eggs or freeze-dried. Brine shrimp is a source of protein, carotene (a color enhancer) and acts as a natural laxative in fish digestive systems. Brine shrimps can also supply the fish with vegetable matter due to their consumption of algae.
  • Soybean meal is a high protein source for fish and has become a substitute for traditionally-used marine animal meals.
  • Spirulina is a blue-green plant plankton rich in raw protein, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E, beta-carotene, color enhancing pigments, a whole range of minerals, essential fatty acids and eight amino acids required for complete nutrition.
  • Whole wheat (carbohydrates) is not the best source of energy in fish but is an excellent source of roughage for fish such as Goldfish and Koi. It is also a natural source of vitamin E which promotes growth and enhances coloration.

What Are the Types of Aquarium Lighting?

Different aquariums need different types of light strength. On one end of the spectrum there is red light, which can only penetrate a short distance. At the other end is blue, which can go further into the water. Most fish are fine with yellow or green light; however, many aquarium plants need blue light to help them grow. There are several types of lighting available on the market for your aquarium.

Normal Florescent Bulbs
Normal Florescent or NO usually comes with a regular aquarium tank. This is enough for a fish-only setup. The NO bulbs tend to be cool and efficient; however, they are the least penetrating fluorescent bulbs. In aquariums with plants, they might be used as supplemental lighting.

High Output Bulbs
High output (HO) lights are available as T5 bulbs, which are smaller than the normal fluorescent. They emit more heat than the NO bulbs, but they usually come with a built in system to cut down on heat.

Very High Output Bulbs
Very High Output (VHO) comes in a variety of sizes; one of the most common is the T12. Although these bulbs emit heat, they don’t emit as much as a metal halide bulb. You get a more powerful light than the standard fluorescent. Unlike the metal halide, you get an even light source throughout your aquarium tank.

Power Compact Lights
These bulbs are designed slightly differently from the rest of the fluorescent bulbs. They have only one end cap attachment rather than the standard two, and the bulbs are available in different shapes from twin to square and triple. The bulbs are more efficient and powerful than other fluorescent bulbs. Power compact lights are smaller than normal fluorescent lights.

Metal Halide
This is a high intensity aquarium bulb that produces a focused light. The bulbs are used in freshwater and saltwater aquariums with plants and coral reefs. You will need to use a water chiller with these lights because they heat the water up and you might need a UV shield to cut down radiation. The bulbs are expensive and should be handled with care.

LED Lights
LED is not technically a light, but a light emitting diode. It is good for night time viewing of nocturnal fish.

LEDs are used increasingly commonly in aquarium lights. Particularly for reef aquariums, LED lights provide an efficient light source with less heat output to help maintain optimal aquarium temperatures. LED-based aquarium fixtures also have the advantage of being manually adjustable to emit a specific color-spectrum for ideal coloration of corals, fish, and invertebrates while optimizing photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) which raises growth and sustainability of photosynthetic life such as corals, anemones, clams, and macroalgae. These fixtures can be electronically programmed to simulate various lighting conditions throughout the day, reflecting phases of the sun and moon for a dynamic reef experience. LED fixtures typically cost up to five times as much as similarly rated fluorescent or high-intensity discharge lighting designed for reef aquariums and are not as high output to date.

LED aquarium lighting is most commonly used for nighttime lighting but has recently gained traction as being the main light source. Using an aquarium moon light has many benefits, especially for reef tanks. Moon lights complete the day/night cycle and can be synced with a timer to match the lunar cycle. Doing so can stimulate coral spawning and create great nighttime viewing. In addition to creating a cool shimmering moon light effect, LED lunar lights give you a window into what your nocturnal pets do at night. Using LED lighting as the main light source also has many benefits. LED bulbs are extremely energy efficient and last up to 5 years (50,000 hours). LED lights produce very little heat, are highly customizable and among the most handsome (and small) fixtures on the market today.

Know about LED Grow Lights

LED grow lights are compact lights used specifically for growing plants indoors or in greenhouses. These lights are extremely energy-efficient and portable, and are an attractive alternative to the more expensive and heat-producing HID (high-intensity discharge) lamps. Due to the compact size and low energy consumption, 3w LED grow lights are used for both large-scale experimental purposes and production to the amateur home gardener preparing for spring transplanting.

About LED Grow Lights
LED grow lights are electric lights comprised of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). These lights provide an electromagnetic color spectrum specially suited for growing plants indoors. LED grow lights mimic the bluish color of natural sunlight, and provide green plants with the light necessary for the process of photosynthesis. Moreover, LEDs do not emit as much heat as sunlight and other forms of lights, and therefore plants grown under LED grow lights require less water.

The Invention and Development of LED Lights
The LED, or light-emitting diode, was invented by Nick Holonyak, Jr., in 1962. Holonyak was a scientist at General Electric in Syracuse, NY, where he developed a method of synthesizing crystals to produce the red visible spectrum. LED technology has blossomed into a diversity of colors and uses: for multifaceted billboards in large cities; for traffic lights and vehicle brake lights; for grow lights for greenhouses and amateur gardeners; and as a revolutionary medical treatment for cancers and ulcers.

LED Grow Lights vs. Other Grow Lights
600w LED grow lights efficiently provide light in the spectrum most beneficial for growing plants. While grow lights may also use incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs, the LED grow light is unique. It produces much less heat that the other lights, and boasts a longer life cycle while consuming less energy. However, LED grow lights are usually more expensive to purchase than its incandescent and fluorescent counterparts, due to the complexity of the LED light circuitry.

The Large-Scale Use of LED Grow Lights
LED grow lights are used for industrial food production and in hydroponics, the method of growing plants without a soil-based growing medium. LED grow lights are used by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to grow plants on the International Space Station for experimental purposes, and to provide astronauts and space scientists with fresh food.

Home Use of LED Grow Lights
LED grow lights are perfect for small scale, home gardening projects. The lights are small and energy-efficient, and therefore consume little space and electricity. Plants transpire less under LED lights, and therefore require less water. LED lights are lightweight and easily portable. Moreover, indoor LED grow lights allow gardeners to cultivate plants during winter, or get an early start to the growing season by growing seedlings indoors.

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