Filtration in the Fish Room

Finally!  A fish room blog post.  Hopefully I will be able to follow this one up quickly.  This post is about sponge filters, which I believe are the most cost effective method of filtering aquariums a fish room setting.  They are not pretty, but they work.  But not all sponge filters are the same, and the way they they are used can make a difference too.  One of the debates is whether a matten filter wall is worth cost.  Sure…. a filter all has a HUGE amount of surface area compared to a smaller cube filter.  But do you really need it more surface area in the same size tank that is being filtered effectively by a basic cube filter?  No… the only reason to use a matten filter, in my opinion, is if you want to over stock a small aquarium.

Bacteria grow and die very quickly, and their cell population is dependent upon the same ecological rules of carrying capacity as any other living things (except maybe humans… assuming we have surpassed our carrying capacity).  A biological filter needs the waste of fish to thrive.  If there is more waste than the bacteria cells can use, the cell population grows.  If fish waste reduces, bacteria cell population goes down.  And it happens very fast.  Days.  Hours even.  So there is really no point in a filter with 300 cubic inches of volume if the tank is going to hold two fish.  But… if you want to grow 200 cory cat fry in a 10-gallon tank, a matten filter will let that happen.

This video presents the basics of sponge filters, how they work and how to clean them.  I will cover how to run them with air in the next installment.

The Basic Aquarium – Installing Equipment

The Basic Aquarium part 3 covers the assembly and installation of the equipment on our 20-gallon kit.  The parts to this kit are an Aqueon Quiet-flow power filter, a heater and a standard fluorescent hood.  The only difference between this and other kits will be the details of how specific pieces are assembled.

I have had a few readers ask me how these videos can be used to help new hobbyists who may not know about my blog.  I have created a page which will include only the blog posts in this series, so if a club, pet store or anyone else wants to direct people to just these videos, use this link:

Please feel free to use that link however you wish.  The purpose of this series is to help new hobbyists, but it cannot be a benefit unless they see it!

Air in the Fish Room

The fourth episode in the fish room series is about supplying air for filtration.  There is really only one basic system, which consists of a blower or pump and a delivery system.  There are several ways to set that up, however, and the differences begin with the type of pump or blower.  There are too many different scenarios, so the video presents the basics and describes how I set up the air system in my fish room.

Danio magaritatus

Here is a video of my celestial pearl danios.  I do keep fish other than cichlids!  I have worked out a pretty easy way to breed this species and get plenty of eggs.  I spawn them in a 2.5-gallon tank with a false bottom made from a piece of plastic needle-point screen cut to fit into the bottom.  A couple pieces of pvc on the bottom keeps the screen up enough to create a safe zone for the eggs to fall into.  Over the screen I put two or three sinking yarn mops.  When I set them up to spawn I use an R/O & tap water mix (about 50/50) that makes the water about 125 ppm TDS, KH 7 and pH 7.3, which has proven to be soft enough for this species.  The tank is filtered with a very small Ista Mini sponge filter.  I really like these little filters!  They are the smallest sponge filter on the market with a weighted base.  The air is driven all the way to the bottom where there is a built-in diffuser.  The lift tube is small, so little air is needed to get a good flow rate.

I do not bother separating males and females before setting the danios up to breed.  This species, if they are in condition, will spawn every day.  I put 6 – 10 adults in equal sex ratio 9or close) into the spawning tank in the evening.  The lights come on the next morning and the fish will start to spawn.  90% of the eggs will get stuck in the dense yarn, and the few that fall through go through the grate bottom.  At midday I shake out the mops to see if eggs fall out (and through the false bottom).  There are usually a dozen or so.  I let the group spawn again for another day and then return them to their aquarium.

I add two drops of methylene blue and remove the plastic grate.  I let the mops stay in the breeding tank.  Fry will appear within a couple days.  CPD fry are larger that you would expect for such a small fish, but I start them on paramecium as a first food anyway.  At five days they can easily eat baby brine shrimp.  After two weeks there are usually about 2-dozen fry growing up.

I let them stay in the spawning tank for a total of four weeks, and I do a 50% water change every three days.  Then I move them to a 10-gallon tank.  At 8 weeks they look like miniature adults and can be moved in with the colony.  I try to set up a group to spawn once a month or so.  I manage to give more than a few away at club meetings, but the production is enough that there are always a dozen or so adults to work with.

Ted’s Fishroom – Temperature & Humidity

The topic of this second installment of Ted’s Fishroom is controlling temperature and humidity.  Temperature is well understood, but humidity is something that many first-time fish room builders do not consider.  Humidity is the factor in a fish room that will most negatively affect your home and health.

Please remember that these videos are not intended to be a complete guide to building a fish room.  They would need to be much longer to do that.  My hope is that by watching these videos you will be introduced to the major considerations you need to think about when building a fish room, and then go out and find some other resources to fill in the details.  There are a lot of people on the web documenting their fish room.  Some of the best places to start looking are on the many web forums where you can ask questions and get feedback from a lot of different sources.