12.28.2016

Meet Momo

I was not really planning on getting another betta after Neptune passed away, but while I was in PETCO browsing the leftover stock from all the holiday shoppers this little male koi betta fish just spoke to me, and I absolutely adore him. This tri-colored betta fish has quickly become my favorite of all with his vibrant red color, white underside, and black markings. To me he combines all the fish I have kept for the past several years now as he has the markings of a koi (relation to a goldfish), the personality of a guppy (with his fin movements), and he's a betta... so to me he's like 3 awesome fish in 1.
Momo the male koi betta
I decided to name my new betta Momo to not only mimic a past favorite betta of mine Mr. Moto, but also because he has spots like that of a cow (moo moo). Momo is pretty relaxed for a betta but definitely seems to get quick bursts of energy. He is also a huge pig as he just loves to eat, and thus far he seems to interact well with people around his tank. There's just something about Momo that really just makes me happy and puts a smile on my face... I already love him so much.

12.20.2016

Cost Effective Media

Having used canister filters for awhile now and a bunch of different types of media I decided to share what I feel are some of the best and most cost-effective media items you can get.

Course Media
Typically I find most course media is some type of porous plastic material, similar to that of a shower pouf. That being said you probably could use a shower pouf, however like a lot of others out there you can step into your Dollar General Store and pick up a 6-pack of plastic scouring pads for $1. I honestly love using these scouring pads more so than course media made for an aquarium because they collect a lot of muck inside the pads. Most of this plastic media can be easily hosed out and reused numerous times before you find the need to possibly replace it, which makes it some of the most cost effective media you'll come across. Also, if your plastic media is like that of Easter grass you should probably just toss it because loose stuff like that doesn't hold together and won't do a good job at collecting big muck particles.

Medium Media
Foam Media is generally used as a medium grade media, and I have found this may be most similar to thin foam mattress toppers, and the one with crates in them will allow for a bigger surface area for bacteria and such to accumulate. Keep in mind if you try using a foam topper that it isn't treated with odd chemicals or something (or perhaps soaking/rinsing it well may help if you detect odd smells). Foam media tends to rinse out pretty well to be reused again but may require a bit more squeezing compared to the course media.

Fine Media
Some people like to buy polyester batting from a craft store because they find it to be more inexpensive. Keep in mind this material needs to be replaced more often than your other media because I have found it generally breaks down after 1-2 months and it becomes almost sludge-like and difficult to clean thoroughly. This is also one of the most important types of media to have in your filter as it keeps the finest muck particles out of your good biological media.

Special Media
There are tons of gimmick media type products on the market from media claiming to reduce nitrates to clarifying water. Take these types of products with a "grain of salt" (as the saying goes), and know that some of these things may not do much of anything and may just cost you more money in the long run. A lot of people love to use carbon based media and honestly I don't notice significant changes from using it whether it's in pad-form or a loose form that you place into a filter sock. Carbon can be good or bad as it can possibly remove any water treatments from your tank. There's also Seachem Purigen which is popular to some people and while I'm not sure what impurities this stuff removes it does change color over time (so maybe it does something), but don't expect miracles with any of this stuff. If you don't notice changes in your tank, water stats, or with your aquariums' inhabitants than I'd say it's probably just a waste of money in the long run. Also, if your media is decent, setup properly, and your filter has had time to cycle (at least a month) then you really shouldn't have a bunch of problems with your tank water (although some inhabitants do prefer certain types of water over others, in which case you may need something like an RO filter). More natural items people use to help with their water stats are things like seashells or driftwood, but these items may be unreliable or hard to adjust.

Biological Media
Decent biological media can be cost effective in the long run as a good rinse every so often with some added bacteria balls and you can reuse this for as long as you desire. I like to use Biohome Ultra Mini (you can buy this off eBay), but if you're looking for something a bit more natural or possibly a bit more cost effective you could try pumice or chunks of lava rock. Avoid buying ceramic rings as its smooth surface won't allow bacteria to build and accumulate, but rather its best use is redirecting water inside your filter.

11.24.2016

Pet Mountain - Review

I feel I have used the website PetMountain.com enough to finally give a fair review of the company.

If you sign up for an account on the site, they do send lots of e-mail advertisements which seemingly look like great deals.. such as "save up to 70% off". Generally they do seem to have pretty decent priced items, however it seems you only get the bigger discounts when you buy the bigger items or those in bulk size. Although I noticed on the site it tells you the % off you get, but if you run the percent-off based off their retail price it seems that it is generally off a bit on their total price (see the image below). So you do have to look at the price they have stated on their site rather than doing your own calculations for the cost. If you continue to crunch the numbers for the rest of their prices they are at times less than the calculations rather than more. If you want, you could contact the company about it but as you continue reading on here I will go into further detail as to why I will not waste my time doing as such.
Click to Enlarge Image
Once you make your purchase on PetMountain it gives you your shipping options and generally I choose whatever the cheapest option is which is a 5-8 business day delivery. Having ordered from this site several times now, I have only received my purchase from them on-time on 1 occasion which was the first time I had ordered from them. Every time since that order, my order has arrived like 2 days or so behind schedule. When this first happened to me, I contacted the company and was hoping to at least be compensated for the delay with a future discount or to be refunded my shipping costs. All I got in response from them was an e-mail stating when it would be arriving and they just treated it as if it was not an issue or something. That definitely was not the response I wanted and it made me question ever doing business with them again. This made me upset because I was waiting for medications for my fish that needed urgent care and time is of the essence when things like that arise. Its been over a year at least since that incident and obviously it is not something they're highly concerned about so, just be warned if you need urgent things from this company.

If you think I'm asking for too much by being upset about the shipping, you have to realize that I have worked for a company for over 10 years doing shipping and receiving, and dealing with items that needed urgent delivery. So at that company I worked for, we definitely pulled strings to make magic happen under similar circumstances. So yes, it does really bother me with this company because that is also like selling a lie to people. If your company can't meet the 5-8 business day shipping policy which your customer paid for, than you need to change you shipping guidelines to 5-14 business days or whatever is actually achievable for your business. How they run a business can also affect a customers business, which in turn can lose them business in the long run.

Those are really my only issues with this company, and like I said I have repurchased from them numerous times, but I do try to find most of my urgent items locally if I can. Otherwise, I know I'm going to have to wait longer than I want to by ordering from this company. They claim to have some "happiness guarantee" on their website so, I suggest you write them if you want these issues resolved as much as I do. My recent order I placed on a Sunday Nov. 13th 2016, my item shipped out Monday on Nov. 14th, and some how the 5-8 business day shipping said my order arrives Nov. 25th for whatever reason.. when it should have came no later than the 23rd which was right before Thanksgiving. On top of that, the tracking numbers they provide don't seem to work for USPS.com which is who they claim to be shipping their things through, and it was actually FedEx that showed up at my door. Also, if you look at their BBB complaints a few other people have also had similar issues to my own. So overall, order things at your own risk and happy shopping!

9.19.2016

Quarantining New Fish - Tutorial

There are many different ways you can quarantine a new fish, the important part is that you do perform some type of healthy quarantine system so that you don't infect your aquarium with some disease, parasite, fungus, etc. Depending on your aquariums inhabitants your medications may differ, as well as your quarantine setup.

Containment
For smaller fish such as young/small goldfish, I prefer just using a 5-gallon bucket in comparison to setting up an entire tank dedicated to quarantine. If you are someone dealing with lots of new fish regularly, or perhaps you're a breeder/seller then you may want to use a tank as that could be better for your situation. For the average aquarist or those just starting out maybe buying one or two fish at a time then I prefer to just use a 5-gallon bucket, and it's going to be cheaper than getting another tank (plus 5-gallon buckets have many uses in the aquarium hobby). If your entire tank is infected with something, then I would treat the entire tank unless you're dealing with plants and other live creatures that can't handle the medication/s you're going to use in the tank. Also be sure to be mindful of your filter system as certain medications could affect your biological media which in turn can have a negative impact on your aquarium as a whole. Also when medicating it's advised not to use media like carbon as it can remove the benefits of your medication/s. After your treatments have run its course then carbon can help clean up some of that medication, although I prefer doing large water changes over just relying on something like carbon to eliminate everything. I would not add any fabric plants as it can hold bacteria, but you can use plastic plants which are a bit more sanitary and if fish are stressed these may help them feel safer. Also it's more sanitary to not use any substrate, and due to a lack of substrate I would suggest no lighting or very low lighting as the reflective properties from the bottom of the tank could also cause stress.

Filtration
I notice lots of people like to use either sponge filters or power filters when setting up a quarantine, and that's fine for those long term quarantine setups I mentioned earlier, but I often don't find it necessary for people just quarantining one or two smaller fish. The first reason I don't like to use a filter is because it can take a month to have a filter establish in your setup unless you're adding in good bacteria from another tank. That being said, your other tank if not cared for properly could introduce something bad to a new fish. The other reason I don't see using a filter on a QT tank is because a lot of treatments have you dump out your old QT medicated water after 48 hours, which is then followed up with a re-dose of the treatment. So your medicated QT water isn't really sitting around long enough for it to need to get cycled or to where the water is going to experience a surge of nitrite or even a huge loss in oxygen levels, etc. The other reason I don't recommend using a filter on a short term QT setup is because you can infect your filters media, and then you're just shelling out more money to replace those if you plan to use them in your main tank. The only type of filter I would recommend adding to your setup is an airstone because it's not something that will generally hold bacteria, etc. and with a lot of medications you generally need an airstone added so that the medication doesn't suck away all the oxygen from the water and it helps provide water movement which is often more naturally for most fish, just be sure your water current isn't too strong for your type of fish.

Heating
Depending what your fish may be sick with an aquarium heater may be needed, but it may not be necessary. Whether you use a heater or not it's also very handy to have a thermometer to test your water temperatures. When changing or adding new water you want the temperature to match up as closely as possible with the current water temp your inhabitant lives in. If a more than 4-degree F temperature change happens all at once it could in turn shock your fish, thus causing more problems arising, be it something like ich or even death.

Medications
Depending on your type of fish the medication/s you use can vary so, be sure you do some research beforehand and follow the medications guidelines on how to use it properly. For goldfish, most people will use Prazi to treat new fish for parasites. Prazi is short for Praziquantel and you can generally find this in powder or liquid form. Another medication is Metro which is short for Metronidazole which is often used in conjunction with Prazi. A fast acting great item to try with both of these two medications in it is API General Cure as it contains both of these ingredients and is used to eliminate a wide variety of parasites like gill and skin flukes, swollen abdomen, wasting disease, ich, and hole-in-the-head (aka Hexamita). As a side note when using a 5-gallon bucket to QT small fish you can get away with using 1 packet of API General Cure over the course of 4 days to have your fish be parasite free on a budget since 1 whole packet treats 10-gallons of water. If your tap water contains chlorine be sure to purchase a big bottle of water conditioner as well because any time you do a water change you will have to use this, otherwise you risk instantly killing your fish. If you aren't sure if your tap water contains chlorine you can either just choose to purchase a bottle of water conditioner (I like Hikari Ultimate for this) or test your tap water, there should be different ways of doing this available at your local pet store. Often if you're on city water you will probably have chlorine, whereas well-water generally may not. One more medication that is often used is Aquarium Salt, be sure it is for aquariums and not table salt, sea salt, Epsom salt, etc. While I don't find Aquarium Salt to be a miracle worker compared to actual medications it can help with gill function and aids in electrolytes, but I'll let you be the judge on how you feel it works for your aquatic friends. Another medication I would also use for quarantining new fish is Tetracycline or Sulfonamide to eliminate Aeromonas which is often a secondary bacterial issue. API Furan-2 is often used for Aeromonas and I find this treatment best for betta fish as they often arrive in tiny cups which create poor living conditions although any fish can have this issue. Aeromonas is something that can be passed on to humans so it's important to wear waterproof gloves when dealing with fish and their habitats. I also like Melafix, if you have fish with minor fin tears this works pretty fast but it can heal fins too fast which may alter the coloring of the damaged fin/s (which I have seen happen with guppies), and I do feel this works better for small fish varieties rather than goldfish. Also if you have some minor tank smells going on this stuff helps a little bit but it's kind of a temporary fix.