Weald Aquatics | Aquarium & Pond Fish Shop in Kent | The Weald Aquatics Blog

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Coolings Green & Pleasant
Main Road, Knockholt, Kent TN14 7LJ

01959 532 963

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Jack's aquarium

Blog post written by Jack | 27 October 2017 | Category: Case studies
(112 views)

I had a 48-litre aquarium when I first started at Weald Aquatics and I have always wanted a nice big aquarium which I could populate with African Cichlids. After a short period of time I decided to upgrade to a Rio 125 aquarium which I filled with various fancy goldfish. But Andy constantly showed me pictures and videos of his cichlid aquarium, which made up my mind to  convert my coldwater setup into a tropical aquarium filled with African Cichlids.

I showed Andy videos and pictures of my new setup. (Let’s just say he was very impressed!) I religiously carried out large water changes to ensure that all the water parameters stayed correct and the water in tip-top condition. Because of my water changes, my fish started to breed! I then had to purchase a smaller aquarium in which I used to raise the fry.

After deciding that I wanted to keep the baby fish, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to upgrade my aquarium again. I purchased a Rio 240 aquarium in which I now have heavily populated with Cichlids.

I have lots of equipment in my new Juwel Rio 240 that helps to keep all fish in a perfect condition. These include a Juwel filter system, Eheim Ecco Pro 300, Newa High Flow Circulator and an Eheim Air Pump 400.   

As with the Rio 125, I carry out a large water changes on a weekly basis to ensure all water parameters stay stable. Take a look at the video of my aquarium below.

If you would like more information on my aquarium, please come into the shop and have a chat with me.

 


Using backgrounds to enhance your aquarium

Blog post written by Gary | 26 October 2017 | Category: Aquarium equipment
(65 views)

Having a background fitted to the aquarium, whether it’s a picture on the outside of the aquarium or a 3D resin rock face on the inside, will enhance the look of the aquarium as you will not see a bland wallpaper pattern behind the aquarium or other objects to distract you from the fish.

Picture backgrounds used to be attached to the outside back of the aquarium using either double-sided stickers or sticky tape. This caused a problem over time as water would drip down between the back of the aquarium glass and the background leaving dirty, streaky water marks.

To solve this problem a liquid glue is available which allows the picture background to be attached to the aquarium without bubbles or streaky marks, giving a crystal-clear picture for many years. If you wish to change the background it can be peeled off and a new background fitted.

For a more natural look in the aquarium, a 3D background can be fitted. This will need to be done before the aquarium is filled with water as it is fitted inside the aquarium using a silicone glue which will need 24 hours to set.

3D backgrounds are available to fit most aquariums. These include a number of different types of rock and colour features. In the Juwel range of backgrounds, filter covers are available to blend in with the 3D background disguising the filter box.

 

Some of the Juwel aquarium backgrounds
Some of the Juwel aquarium backgrounds

Wood in the aquarium

Blog post written by Andy | 29 September 2017 | Category: Aquarium plants
(253 views)

People love our Facebook posts (If you don’t follow us on Facebook, why not?!) and a post I did recently had a huge amount of interest so I decided to expand on it a little further.

There are lots of things you can add to an aquarium to make it look more attractive and make your fish feel a little more at home. Wood is a fantastic thing to use to create interest but it also benefits fish.

Mopani wood, Bogwood, Sumatran Driftwood, Red Moor wood, there is a lot of choice out there. The majority will require soaking overnight to draw out the natural stains that leach out when the wood is underwater. This can make your aquarium look as if it is filled with tea. It’s not to everyone’s taste (see what I did there) and can alter the water chemistry by lowering the PH, but many fish prefer it and people often use unsoaked wood  when creating an Amazonian themed aquarium setup.

Wood not only offers places to hide and shaded areas that many catfish and loaches prefer, but also has important health benefits for many fish.

Many types of Plecostomas and similar family members require wood to keep them healthy. The surface area of wood with its microscopic pores and crevices allows algae to grow and is easier for these fish to rasp off. Although algae grows on glass as well, its smoother surface can make it more tricky for fish to remove algae.

Many species have continuously growing teeth and use the wood to keep them trim and healthy.

The final and most obvious reason is many species of algae eater will eat the wood to aid their digestive system.

I have lots of wood in my aquarium at home and my Green Phantom Pleco and Gold Ancistrus love it.

Wood in all its shapes and types will not only transform an aquarium aesthetically but provides real benefits to many types of fish that most of you probably already have!

Come and have a look at the types we have in the shop. Your fish will thank you.

 

Water cleaning products and Blagdon's feature lavender scent
Using natural wood in an aquarium can look fantastic as well as being beneficial for your fish.

Keeping water features clean

Blog post written by Gary | 25 August 2017 | Category: Water features
(207 views)

As with aquariums and ponds, outdoor water features will become unsightly, dirty and full of algae over a period of time.

To maintain a clean water feature, the pump, whether mains or solar-powered, should be cleaned frequently.

This entails cleaning the sponge (if fitted) under tap water, washing away all the debris collected in the sponge and removing and cleaning the impellor and impellor housing. By keeping the pump clean it will work more efficiently and not become damaged.

To keep the water in the water feature free of bio fouling and algae, regular water changes, a wipe round and the addition of a water feature treatment will help to keep it clean and free from algae and dirty water.

Water feature treatments come in liquid, powder or tablet form. All will keep resin, stone, metal and concrete water features clean when used in the correct dosage.

All water feature treatments sold at Weald Aquatics must not be used when fish are present in the feature but are safe for visiting birds and small animals.

Below is a list of water feature cleaning products we have available at Weald Aquatics.

Products Form
Feature Kit Tablet
Blagdon Feature Clear Liquid
Blagdon Feature Algae Control Liquid
Blagdon Feature Clean Away Powder
Blagdon Feature Rapid Clean Powder
Cloverleaf Sparkling Answer Powder
Blagdon Feature Surface Cleaner Liquid

Once your water feature is clean, why not have the tranquil aroma of lavender by adding Blagdon Feature Lavender scent.

 

Water cleaning products and Blagdon's feature lavender scent
Water cleaning products and Blagdon's feature lavender scent

Using salt in aquariums and ponds

Blog post written by Gary | 25 August 2017 | Category: Pond maintenance
(206 views)

Using aquatic salt in aquariums and ponds has many benefits and helps to keep your fish fit and healthy.

Salt will help in the following ways:

  • Reducing fish stress
  • Stabilising water quality
  • As a general tonic
  • Protecting fish against harmful nitrite
  • Improving the function of the gills
  • Reducing the osmotic shock caused by ulcers or wounds
  • Can be used with most aquarium and pond treatments to increase effectiveness

Salt dosage is usually used in 3 different concentrations:

  • 0.1% as a general tonic and mild pH buffer
  • 0.3% to minimize stress
  • 0.9% to help when treating for dropsy, ulcers and fungus

Pond salt can also be used as a tonic dip at a concentration 28g per litre for 2-3 minutes which will clean the skin thoroughly.

Aquatic salt is best dissolved before adding into the aquarium or pond. Once added it will remain indefinitely and will only need replacing when a water change is carried out.

 

Water cleaning products and Blagdon's feature lavender scent
Pond salt and aquarium salt

How do we keep our shop aquariums so clean?

Blog post written by Andy | 27 July 2017 | Category: In the shop
(518 views)

People are always asking me how we keep the display aquariums clean in the shop. Do we add a secret chemical? Do we clean them every day? Do we stay behind when the shop is closed to clean them all?

Well it’s actually none of those.

We give our display aquariums the same level of care as any of our other aquariums, the show tanks, our maintenance customers’ aquariums, and our fish tanks at home.

It’s the same advice we give customers new or old to fishkeeping...

  • Regular water changes
  • Looking after your filter system
  • Not overstocking your aquarium
  • Not overfeeding your fish.

Fish keeping really is that simple provided you stick to these basic principles.

We do a 20-25% water change every week. The longest we would leave it is two weeks and we’d then take out around 30%. Before taking out the water, we unplug all the equipment and we clean the algae from the glass. We then agitate the substrate to get any organic waste out and then syphon it out as part of our water change. There are lots of gravel cleaners that will perform these two jobs for you.

The water we have taken out of the aquarium is kept and is used to wash any biological media or sponges from the filter system. This minimises the loss of any beneficial bacteria within the filter which is helping to keep our water quality correct for the fish. Once the old water is disposed of, we mix fresh water from the tap (both warm and cold to prevent drops in aquarium temperature) and add a dechlorinator to remove the chlorine, chloramine and other harmful trace elements found in tap water. The aquarium is then topped up.

We also add a bacterial culture to our aquariums to give the filter systems a turbo charge to break down fish waste as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Then a wipe over the front of the glass, plug the equipment back in and we’re done. Simple stuff!

Sticking to this cleaning regime regularly, not over feeding you fish (probably the biggest cause of aquarium problems I can think of) and not overstocking your fish tank will keep your aquariums looking like ours…. if not better!

We love it when customers show us or send us pictures of their aquariums so, if you’ve got any of your aquarium, send it over. We love a fishy picture at Weald!

 

Busy keeping the shop aquariums clean
Busy keeping the shop aquariums clean

The Yellow Tail Damsel

Blog post written by Andy | 22 June 2017 | Category: Marine fish
(313 views)

As with all things in fishkeeping you are going to hear lots of different opinions on the same subject. It’s a minefield. Fish compatibility is one such area.

People in marine fishkeeping either love or hate Damsel fish. If it's the latter, it's usually because of one bad experience, but I think they are a fantastic family of fish and this is one of my favourites.

The Yellow tail blue Damselfish (Chrysiptera parasema) or YTB as it's commonly called, is an absolutely stunning fish. It grows to a maximum of three inches and is a shoaling fish. I tend to recommend groups of six or more, ideally added at the same time to avoid aggression. They are a rich blue colour with a bright yellow tail (the clue was in the name wasn’t it!) and are reef safe. They add an instant splash of colour to any marine setup. A group of these darting in and out of a coral setup look spectacular. They are a very robust fish and are often recommended as the first fish into a system.

They can be aggressive, but I have found that tends to be with fish kept on their own. They very rarely cause any damage to other fish. Males will tend to find an area of the tank they like and chase away anything that comes near. We have a shoal of eight in our main display aquarium and they cause no trouble with any of their tank mates. They enjoy decent flow in an aquarium and are often seen 'playing' in front of power heads. A varied diet of brine shrimp and Mysis will keep this fish happy. They have been known to breed in a home aquarium given a big enough tank and the right ratio of males and females.

I think the YTB is one of the most peaceful Damsels available and certainly one of the most attractive. They are robust, inexpensive, like being kept in groups and reef safe. A great addition to any marine aquarium.

 

The Yellow Tail Damsel
The Yellow Tail Damsel (Chrysiptera parasema)
By Carl Malamud [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Lucy’s Aquarium

Blog post written by Gary | 22 June 2017 | Category: Case studies
(498 views)

Lucy’s daughter wanted a pet. Unfortunately Lucy’s husband Stuart has an allergy to animals with fur so they settled for an aquarium.

The original coldwater aquarium was purchased from another local garden centre about five years ago. After three years Lucy decided to upgrade her aquarium to a tropical set up. Her long-term friend Helen suggested she visited Weald as Helen herself had recently purchased a Juwel Rio 125 from us and was very happy with the aquarium and the fish.

Lucy purchased a Juwel Rekord 700 and started slowly introducing fish. After four months the fish started to die. On checking the aquarium water we found the nitrates had risen to a dangerous level. Although Lucy was regularly changing the aquarium water the nitrate levels did not reduce to a safe level. At this point we suggested to Lucy to try RO water with a mineral additive as this water will have zero levels of all pollutants including zero nitrate levels. Within a short time of using the RO water the nitrate levels had been reduced to very low levels and fish losses all but eliminated.

Lucy now pops into the shop every two weeks to purchase 20 litres of RO water, some food and replacement media for the Juwel aquarium. Fish purchases are now months apart due to the quality of the water.

Lucy’s Fish

2 x Ruby Barb
4 x Scissortails Rasbora
1 x Clown Loach
1 x Botia Loach
2 x Rosy Neon Barb
2 x Congo Tetra
2 x Red Eye Tetra

As the algae is kept at a low level due to the RO water there are no algae eating fish in the aquarium. Plants are plastic for easy cleaning and Lucy has added an air pump and stone for decoration and to increase the oxygen in the water.

When Lucy wins the lottery she has promised she'll buy a Rio 400 and keep cichlids - the same as the Weald cichlid show aquarium.

 

Jack helping Lucy pick more plastic plants for her aquarium
Jack helping Lucy pick more plastic plants for her aquarium

 

Lucy looking at the Rio 400 cichlid aquarium
Lucy looking at the Rio 400 cichlid aquarium, hoping her lottery ticket will be a winner!

The Green tiger barb

Blog post written by Andy | 10 May 2017 | Category: Tropical fish
(442 views)

Some fish have bad reputations, one of them is the Tiger Barb (Puntius tetrazona).

You might have heard of them - nippy bad tempered fish that will rip any other fish’s tails to pieces. Sound a bit of a nightmare don’t they?

As with all fish, if you keep them with the wrong tank mates you are going to get issues. Barbs as a family can be nippy, but only to long-finned fish such as Bettas or Guppies. As long as you keep the correct tank mates then barbs are an incredibly rewarding family of fish to keep.

They are very active and do much better in a small shoal. I recommend groups of six or more fish. They will chase each other around to establish a pecking order. Because they are really active they thrive better in an aquarium with plenty of swimming space. You should still provide cover with plants or wood as it will make them feel more comfortable knowing they can find refuge if needed and it will make them more inclined to stay out in the open. There are many varieties available but my favourite colour is the green. There are not many green fish available and they make a stunning display fish as these deep green metallic looking fish dart out from behind plants and wood.

They like a varied diet and regular water changes to keep those colours bright and strong.

Strong filtration helps to not only keep the water chemistry in top condition but also creates more flow which these fish love.

They get to around 2½ inches long so are not a small fish and when it comes to tank mates, shorter finned, more robust fish such as other barbs, catfish, cichlids, larger tetras and rasboras should all be fine.

These really are a fantastic fish to keep. A planted aquarium with a decent group of green, gold and standard tiger barbs looks amazing. Just think about those tank mates!

 

Dwarf Pufferfish
The Green tiger barb (puntius tetrazona)

The seven aquariums of Jenny (and her family)

Blog post written by Gary | 10 May 2017 | Category: Case studies
(409 views)

I have known Jenny for many years, but her love for fish goes back to 1985 when Jenny and her husband Paul bought their first tropical aquarium. This was followed by a second tropical hexagonal aquarium that I sold to her when I worked at Keston.

When Keston closed Jenny was finding it difficult to buy good quality fish and to get expert advice. However, in a chance meeting I had with Jenny in Petts Wood, I mentioned we had opened an aquatic shop at Coolings.

Jenny came into Weald and saw the wide range of fish and aquariums we have in stock and decided to buy a Juwel Rio 125, which was set up as a community tropical aquarium.

Noticing the cichlid display aquarium which had recently been set up Jenny decided to turn the Rio 125 into a cichlid aquarium with the community fish being moved to her son’s aquarium. When the Rio 125 became too crowded, Jenny upgraded the cichlids to a Juwel Rio 240 and populated the Rio 125 with gouramis.

Not content with two tropical freshwater aquariums, Jenny and Paul decided to install a tropical marine Juwel Lido 200 in the front room.

In February this year at Weald we set up a Betta Trio display aquarium but before we had filled the aquarium with fish Jenny had decided another aquarium was needed for the dining room. This brought the number of aquariums to four. Two months later Jenny added a Biorb Tube 30 to her collection of aquariums.

I asked Jenny if the Biorb was the final aquarium. Her reply was “I don’t think so”.

Other members of Jenny’s family have aquariums including her daughter Kate who has a small Aquael tropical aquarium and Jenny’s father-in-law whom I have known for many years and who travels up from Eastbourne to buy his fish and aquarium supplies from us. Finally, Jenny’s son is contemplating having a cichlid aquarium in his new house to keep Jenny’s grandchild entertained.

Jenny spends Saturday morning cleaning all seven of the aquariums, the Rio 240 taking the longest.

Asked what fish is her favourite, and she’ll tell you straight away that it’s cichlids. However Jenny has introduced discus into the Rio 125 so maybe she will change her mind.

Jenny’s Aquariums by room

Front Room

Lido 200 Marine Aquarium

Biorb Tube 30 Freshwater Tropical

Dining Room

Rio 240 Cichlid

Rio 125 Discus/Gourami

Betta Trio 2 x Crayfish/ 5 x Dwarf Puffers/ 3 x Frogs

Kate’s Room

Aquael Tropical

I will return to chat with Jenny at a later date to see if any more aquariums have been added!

 

Jenny is finding it hard to choose the next Malawi Cichlid
Jenny is finding it hard to choose the next Malawi Cichlid

 

"Which corals can I have?" Jenny asks
"Which corals can I have?" Jenny asks

Oxygenating pond plants

Blog post written by Gary | 13 April 2017 | Category: Ponds
(3698 views)

Pond plants are normally split into four categories; marginal, deep water, floaters and oxygenators.  In this blog we will cover the oxygenators.

Oxygenators can either be potted or bunched for your pond. Some plants like Crystalwort and Water Crowsfoot can be both be potted or bunched and will grow easily in both situations.

Weighted bunched plants are usually placed in the pond as they come and will start to grow fairly quickly depending on water conditions and the weather. Planting depth varies between plants, however the majority like a depth of around 10” to 12” or deeper. Some can grow from a depth of 6 feet. All bunched oxygenators will grow in either full sun or part shade.

Potted oxygenators can normally be placed along with other marginal plants on the shelf section of the pond or can be placed in with the deep water marginals depending on the variety of oxygenating plant. Potted oxygenators are also available in larger contour baskets giving a variety of mature plants to help oxygenate and mature the pond. The majority of potted oxygenators will happily grow in either part shade or full sun. The only potted oxygenator which does not like full sun is Water Violet which prefers part shade only.

Below is a list of the oxygenating plants we keep in stock depending on availability and the season.

Bunched

  • Water crowsfoot
  • Hornwort
  • Canadian pondweed

Potted

  • Eleocharis acicularis
  • Mare’s tail
  • Water violet
  • Scirpus cirnus
  • Minature pondwort

Here at Weald Aquatics we are “Be Plant Wise” which means we follow the Defra and OATA code in not selling invasive aquatic plants.

 

Oxygenating pond plant
Oxygenating pond plant

 

Oxygenating pond plant
Oxygenating pond plant
A selection of the oxygenating pond plants we currently have in the shop.
Range of pond plants
...and here are a few more pond plants that are currently looking good.

Barley straw in ponds

Blog post written by Gary | 09 March 2017 | Category: Pond maintenance
(465 views)

Using barley straw is the natural way of controlling all types of algae and blanketweed in the pond and is safe for use with all fish, plants and other aquatic pond life.

Barley straw is usually packed in bales or pouches depending on the amount of pond water to treat. Also available from NT Labs are barley straw pellets which, as the name suggests, is compressed barley straw giving you more a more concentrated treatment.

Bales or pouches of barley straw can be placed in the pond throughout the year but are best installed in the spring as it will normally take up to four weeks for the barley straw to become fully active depending on pond conditions and temperature. The barley straw bale will gradually rot away so it will need to be replaced after three or four months;  this is to allow the amount of natural chemical from the barley straw to remain in the pond water to keep the algae under control.

To get the best results from the barley straw bales, they should be placed in good water circulation which is normally near a waterfall or where water is returning from the filter unit. They should also be tethered just below the water to get maximum water and oxygen circulation. Barley straw bales can also be placed in filter systems as long as the bale is kept underwater and will not cause problems with the filter operation.

Pond pumps should be kept running 24 hours a day and not switched off at night to get the maximum effect from the barley straw.

If you want a quicker result from barley straw it is available as an extract in liquid form which, when added to the water will work straight away.

 

A selection of barley straw products that we have in the shop
A selection of barley straw products that we have in the shop

The blue cheek goby (Valenciennea Strigata)

Blog post written by Andy | 08 March 2017 | Category: Marine fish
(1522 views)

A marine aquarium can at times be a bit more effort to keep clean and, as with everything, the more help we can have the better.

The term "clean-up crew" is often used for all of those invertebrates and fish that help by either eating algae, turning the sand over or cleaning the parasites off of fish.

One of my favourite in this crew is the Blue cheek goby (Valenciennea Strigata) and its talent for turning over the sand.

It is a lovely fish that attains a maximum size of about 7" but usually stays much smaller. They are white-bodied with a pale yellow jaw line and surprisingly as the name suggests, bright blue cheek lines which seem to almost glow as they scoot over the sand. As they feed, they take in sand and sift out anything edible before dumping the sand back onto the bottom. The major advantage of this behaviour is that they keep the sand turned to prevent algae build up. It is important that they have a deep substrate in the aquarium as they do not only rely on this for their food but they also create burrows in which they live. That said, it is important that any rock work is secure in case a goby tries to burrow underneath it.

They benefit from a mature reef system so there is plenty of food for them to sift for. The biggest problem people have is with them getting skinny so I like to recommend a good quality sinking pellet (we use a combination of Ocean Nutrition Formula  1 and 2) to keep them nice and chunky.

They are an incredibly interesting fish which provide a really useful service. They are reef safe and lovely to look at... win, win, win!

 

Blue cheek goby
The blue cheek goby

Nitrate in freshwater aquariums

Blog post written by Gary | 08 February 2017 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(2156 views)

High levels of nitrate can build up in an aquarium over a period of time and not be noticed. This can cause problems with water quality and fish health. Algae growth will be more of a problem on the plants, glass and gravel, the fish will become stressed and more susceptible to bacterial and other disease related problems.

Nitrate accumulates in the aquarium water due to the nitrogen cycle which in its simplest terms breaks down fish and organic waste into nitrate. Some of the nitrate will be will be removed from the water by vigorous plant growth, however the majority of the nitrate in the aquarium will gradually build up to excessive levels.

The quickest and easiest way to keep nitrate at acceptable levels is to change between 15% and 25% of the aquarium water weekly. This amount is dependent on the type and quantity of fish being kept. Not overfeeding and keeping the gravel and filter system clean will also reduce the amount of nitrate accumulating in the aquarium water.

There are products which will help break down the nitrate in the aquarium such as Tetra Nitrate Minus and various sludge digesting weekly treatments including Bacterlife and API Stress Zyme. These products will reduce nitrate levels, however weekly water changes are the most effective at reducing nitrate levels.

Monitoring nitrate concentration is the most effective way to keep the aquarium water parameters at ideal levels. This can be achieved using either a dedicated liquid nitrate test kit or a multi test strip.

Keeping nitrate levels at 25mg/litre or lower will not only keep the fish in excellent condition but will also not cause any undue stress in newly introduced fish.

If you want to know more, just pop into the shop and ask any of the Weald team.

 

An explanation of the nitrogen cycle
An explanation of the nitrogen cycle

Dwarf puffers (Carinotetraodon travancoricus)

Blog post written by Andy | 08 February 2017 | Category: Tropical fish
(466 views)

If there was a fish that almost everybody wants in a fish tank, it’s a puffer fish. With that distinctive shape, amazing eyes and almost dog-like personality, it is easy to see why.

Unfortunately, due to their size, water requirements and often aggressive streak, it is not possible for people to keep these fascinating fish.

However, there is a very small and unbelievably cute (yes I said cute!) member of this family that makes these fish much more accessible. It’s called the Malabar or Dwarf puffer.

To give you an idea of how small these fish are, they are roughly 1” (2.5cm) long when fully grown and still have some important requirements. They are a very inquisitive fish that can get bored easily so need a tank with lots of plants, caves, wood, anything to provide interest and cover. They need good quality water, so efficient filtration and regular water changes are essential.

They can be kept singly or in a small shoal; a ratio of more females to males will always help dilute aggression. For such a small fish they are still boisterous and can be nippy, so tank mates need to be chosen carefully. Long-finned fish are a no go, and obviously bigger fish. If you keep them well fed you can curb the nipping, so in an ideal world a small species setup would be best.

Meaty foods are important: blood worm and daphnia are great. They also love snails and are often bought to keep problem snails under control.

As with all puffer fish, they develop real personalities and will often recognise their owners when they go near the tank.

A fantastic little fish with bundles of personality and one of the cutest little faces you will ever see... look no further. 

 

Dwarf Pufferfish
The Dwarf pufferfish (Carinotetraodon travancoricus)
"Carinotetraodon travancoricus (dwarf puffer)" by Lindy de Bruyn is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Don't ignore the ugly ducklings - they may turn into beautiful swans!

Blog post written by Andy | 25 November 2016 | Category: General fishy ramblings
(706 views)

We often say it in the shop and I am sure customers don’t always believe us but sometimes you're buying a fish “for 6 months time.” You would be amazed at how many fish will change colour dramatically when they get to adulthood. We tend to sell juvenile fish in the shop which means we can sell them at a much better price than other shops (which I am constantly told - thank you I do try!). But it also means you get to enjoy a fish for a much longer period of time and get to see all the dramatic changes a fish can go through on its way to becoming an adult.

Some of the most amazing looking fish are often overlooked in the shop because, as juveniles, they are very drab silver or brown, but given the right environment and care they'll transform into something special.

Most Cichlids will start out as very boring looking fish. Adam, Jack and I can all testify to the importance of giving that “ugly duckling” time to colour up. I have a group of eight Rainbow Cichlids (which I will write about in my next post because they are amazing) which all started off grey and blotchy but are now the brightest yellow you have ever seen.

There are a couple of things you can do to bring out the colours of fish. A well-balanced and varied diet will always help fish grow and condition them to breeding size faster. Frozen food is a great way of replicating a more natural diet and can dramatically improve the colouring of fish.

It also sounds silly, but a happy fish will always look brighter in colour. Good water quality, the right set-up in terms of planting, flow and lighting and the right ratio of males and females will again increase the chances for fish to colour up.

It's important to ask about these 'dull looking fish' that you may see dotted around our shop. Trust me, no-one wants boring looking fish in their aquarium, so if we are selling something pretty underwhelming, there is method to our madness!

 

Juvenile Boesemani Rainbow
The juvenile Boesemani Rainbow is a drab looking creature...
Juvenile Ram Cichlid
...as is the juvenile Ram Cichlid

 

Adult Boesemani Rainbow
But looks what happens to the Boesemani Rainbow when it gets to adulthood!

 

Ember Tetras
Likewise the Ram Cichlid gradually turns from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan!

Feeding Your Fish Frozen Food

Blog post written by Gary | 23 November 2016 | Category: Feeding your fish
(480 views)

Like us, fish of course need food to survive, and the only source of food in the aquarium is when you open the aquarium lid and drop some in.

There are many different types of food available to feed your fish, ranging from dried foods, tablet, pellets, sticks, freeze-dried, live food and frozen food. The most overlooked is frozen food as customers are worried about keeping fish food in the freezer next to their own food.

All the frozen food in our shop is passed through a unique cleaning and freezing process and then Gamma irradiated to eliminate harmful parasites, bacteria and pollution, making the frozen fish food very safe to keep in the freezer next to your normal food.

The majority of the frozen fish food is in blister packs designed to dispense one measured cube at a time, leaving the rest of the food still sealed in individual blisters for freshness.

Frozen fish food is 100% natural and offers your fish the opportunity to eat the same as in their natural habitat. We have in stock over 20 different varieties of frozen food for all coldwater, tropical freshwater and tropical marine fish.

And now....The price of all frozen fish food is permanently discounted by 10% for Weald Club members. If you're not a member, click here to join now.

 

A selection of the frozen food we have in the shop
A selection of the frozen food we have in the shop

The Borneo Sucker (Pseudogastromyzon myersi)

Blog post written by Jack | 22 October 2016 | Category: Coldwater fish
(732 views)

It's Jack's first blog post, so here's a quick intro by Andy.

"When working in a shop like ours, the most important thing we look for in staff is a passion and enthusiasm for fish. If you’re not into it, this job isn't for you."

"I am very lucky to work with people that are as “fishy” as me. Jack is as enthusiastic as they come and loves his fancy goldfish. Here he walks us through something a little different for the coldwater aquarium, so over to you Jack."


One of my favourites for a Coldwater aquarium has to be the Borneo Sucker (Pseudogastromyzon myersi). With plenty of movement and lots of colour, the Borneo Sucker is easily the stand out fish in a coldwater aquarium.

The Borneo Sucker is also known as the “Hillstream loach” and is a peaceful fish growing to around 6cm. They prefer a cooler temperature between 20 and 24 celsius. It is important to have hiding places as this particular Loach enjoys exploring its environment. Lots of people use cobbles and slate to make various caves and hiding places for them.

This is a really unusual fish to look at. Olive green body covered in small yellow spots and a small black tail. The big appeal is the fact it is almost completely flat, as close to a sting ray as you can get. Another interesting characteristic is the fact it sticks to the sides of the glass and ornaments, its body and fins developed into a “sucker” which gives this fish its grip and name. It is found in fast flowing rivers where its aerodynamic body and adapted fins give it plenty of hold against the strong current. To mimic this environment we recommend an air pump to oxygenate the water similar to the oxygen-rich streams they call home.

 

 

The Borneo Sucker in typical pose
The Borneo Sucker in typical pose

pH in the aquarium

Blog post written by Gary | 21 October 2016 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(493 views)

The pH value of water in simple terms indicates whether water is acidic, alkali or neutral.

The pH scale starts from 0 which is the most acidic going up to 14 being the most alkali. A pH of 7 is neither acidic nor alkali and is considered neutral. The pH scale is logarithmic which means a small change in the pH value  actually equates to a large change to the water as each pH unit is a tenfold increase or decrease on the previous value.

Fish have evolved to live in water as low as pH5 to as high as pH9.5. However most freshwater fish live between pH6 and pH8.2. When keeping a mixed community of freshwater fish a pH of 7 to 7.2 is ideal. Both African Cichlids and marine fish have specific pH values for their aquarium setups.

Excessive high or low pH levels and fluctuations will cause stress in the aquarium, possibly leading to poor fish colour, poor appetite and a lowering of the resistance to disease. To keep the aquarium water at ideal pH levels, regular testing of the aquarium water is essential. It will indicate if the pH is gradually being lowered by the action of the fish waste being broken down into nitrates and carbon dioxide produced by the fish. Regular water changes will usually bring the aquarium water back to a pH of 7 to 7.2 (depending on the pH of the mains water).

To keep aquarium water at a specific pH value there are buffers available, which, as the name suggests, will keep the water at the specified pH level. Also available are additives which will raise the hardness of soft or RO water whilst keeping the pH at about pH7. 

 

Products for adjusting the pH of aquarium water
Products for adjusting the pH of aquarium water

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Phosphates In The Aquarium

Blog post written by Gary | 26 August 2016 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(738 views)

You will find both man-made and natural sources of phosphates in freshwater and marine aquariums.

These phosphates will feed problem algae which, in a freshwater aquarium will cover the gravel, ornaments and plants making the aquarium unsightly and also causing the plants to die back through lack of light on the leaves.

In marine aquariums nuisance algae can overrun and again cover the corals, potentially killing them. High phosphates in a marine reef aquarium will also cause problems for corals by affecting the formation of coral skeletons.

Phosphate levels in freshwater aquariums should ideally be below 0.04 mg/l and in marine aquariums should be at a lower level of 0.016 mg/l.

To achieve low phosphate levels in the aquarium water, regular water changes will help as this reduces phosphates from the food fed to the fish. However tap water also contains natural phosphates which are not removed by using a water conditioner.

The most effective way to remove phosphates from the aquarium water is by using a granular phosphate remover such as Rowaphos or API Prevent Algae. These are placed in the aquarium filter and removed when exhausted. The length of time the phosphate removal media is in the filter will depend on the level of phosphate saturation in the aquarium.

For more information regarding Rowaphos why not come in and chat to us.

 

Rowaphos and API Prevent Algae
Rowaphos and API Prevent Algae - two tools in your armoury against phosphates

Why Is My Aquarium Water Cloudy?

Blog post written by Gary | 26 August 2016 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(866 views)

Cloudy water normally affects new aquarium setups; however it can also become a problem in an established aquarium.

There are usually two causes of cloudy water in the aquarium:

Mechanical

Fine particles floating in the water not being removed by the filter system.

To clear the cloudy aquarium, a number of 30% water changes can be carried out. Alternatively use an aquarium treatment such as Tetra CrystalWater which binds the small particles into larger particles making the filter more effective. The aquarium will normally become crystal clear in 12 hours.

To avoid a cloudy aquarium when either setting up a new aquarium or replacing the gravel, make sure the gravel is thoroughly washed using cold tap water.

Biological

Lack of beneficial bacteria in the filter system.

This milky cloudiness can again be cleared by a number of 30% water changes and also adding into the aquarium beneficial bacteria such as Bacterlife or Stress Zyme. The milky cloudiness can take a couple of days to disappear.

By not adding too many fish too quickly to a newly set up aquarium and not washing all the filter media in tap water you can avoid a milky cloudy aquarium.

 

A range of treatments you can use to get rid of cloudy water
A range of treatments you can use to get rid of cloudy water

Our new Nano Seahorse setup

Blog post written by Andy | 21 July 2016 | Category: Marine fish
(933 views)

I try as often as possible to change around the display aquariums in the shop, it’s always good to give people new ideas for a fish tank. We have had our Nano reef aquarium running really successfully now for about two years so we thought it was time for a change.

Jack had the great idea of turning it into a seahorse setup and he was right big time! 

As the Nano reef has gentle flow and less intense lighting, it’s perfect for seahorses and will easily grow and support an assortment of soft corals. Many of you who have visited the shop will have seen how well this system operated and how successful the corals and shrimp were.

We removed the majority of rock work to allow more swimming space and Jack added some plastic plants to give the seahorses plenty of places to grip with that amazing tail.

We removed the fish and replaced them with some very gentle occupants. Along with our two seahorses we have a mandarin dragonet and a tiny shrimp goby so nothing to compete for the food of these lethargic feeders. A cleaner shrimp and a couple of sexy shrimp nestled in the soft coral complete the livestock quota.

The setup has already proven incredibly popular and it’s great watching children's faces when they see these fascinating creatures up close.

On my next post I will go into more detail on these amazing creatures and how to care for them. I am now going to measure up at home to see if I can fit a seahorse aquarium in my living room! 

 

One of the seahorses in our new nano setup
One of the seahorses in our new nano setup

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The Venestus Cichlid (African Cichlid)

Blog post written by Andy | 29 June 2016 | Category: Tropical fish
(750 views)

As many of you know, I keep cichlids at home. I find them fascinating to watch and some of their colours and patterns are as close to marine fish as you can get.

One of the most popular we sell is the Venestus (Nimbochromis Venestus) or Giraffe Cichlid as it is sometimes known. It's a great fish to keep for the larger aquarium.

They start off as yellow juveniles with brown 'splodges' all over their body hence being likened to a giraffe. They keep these markings as they get older but males develop a bright blue metallic looking head which appears to almost glow when they display to females. They do become large, anywhere from 6” to 10” so a decent size aquarium is important.

They are a predatory fish so tank mates must be a good size if you are putting an adult into a set-up. They prefer open sandy areas so unlike Mbuna, don't require as much rock work. You should still provide hiding places but keep areas open. In the wild they are ambush predators and lay partially buried in sand waiting for juvenile fish to come out of their protective caves to investigate then..... GULP!

They enjoy a varied diet and if kept well fed will grow quickly so as with all cichlids powerful filtration and regular water changes are very important. An amazing fish with fantastic colouration that loves swimming in the open.

A real winner!

 

Venestus (Nimbochromis Venestus) or Giraffe Cichlid
Venestus or Giraffe Cichlid (Nimbochromis Venestus)
Photograph by Mike Peel

Plastic Plants v Real Plants

Blog post written by Gary | 24 June 2016 | Category: Aquarium plants
(825 views)

Which is best for aquariums plastic or real plants?

In the shop we have a wide range of plastic plants to choose from including multicoloured, bright red, bright green and many more with deep colours and varying shapes.

Plastic plants are easy to look after and keep clean. When they become dirty or covered in algae the plastic plants can be removed and cleaned overnight using Interpet’s Plastic Plant and Ornament Cleaner. When clean they can simply be placed back into the aquarium. Many customers have a number of plastic plants which they rotate frequently giving the aquarium a different look every time the plants are cleaned.

If you have large fish which root around the substrate or Silver Dollars which will munch your real plants then plastic plants are the ideal solution. Plastic plants have a plastic trough at the base which fills with gravel anchoring the plant firmly in the gravel resisting all attempts by the fish to dislodge it.

Real plants will aid water quality, absorbing nitrates and other nutrients and helping to keep algae under control. Also real plants will help balance the aquarium water and provide natural cover for the fish. Almost all real plants are green with just a few in red, so if you want a big display of colour, real plants are not the answer.

As with any living organism, real plants will need to be looked after. Regular water changes and adding fertiliser will help plants to grow. If plants start to overcrowd the aquarium they can be cut back and possibly planted in another part of the aquarium.

Finally both real and plastic plants can be mixed in the same aquarium. The choice of which plant to use in the aquarium is down to how you want your aquarium to look.

 

Real plants in an aquarium
Real plants in an aquarium

 

More plants in one of our aquariums
More plants in one of our aquariums
A selection of highly colourful plastic plants
A selection of highly colourful plastic plants

Fitting a New Filter to an Aquarium

Blog post written by Gary | 24 June 2016 | Category: Aquarium equipment
(746 views)

If you are going to upgrade your existing internal or external aquarium filter, you will need to avoid losing all the beneficial bacteria in the filter.

To maintain good water quality when changing filters, you will need to run both the new filter and the old filter together for two weeks. This will ensure that the new filter will mature  with beneficial bacteria colonising the new filter media from the old filter. Adding Bacterlife which is a filter starter will also help to boost and maintain the bacteria in the new filter.

Having checked your water quality and made sure that the ammonia and nitrite levels in the aquarium are correct, the old filter can be removed.

Should your filter fail before a new filter has been installed in the aquarium, you can use the media from the old filter and place it in the new filter. If you are replacing the filter with the same make of filter this will not be a problem; however if the new filter is different then you may need to cut the old media to fit the new filter. By using the old media you are still retaining the beneficial bacteria which will help keep the aquarium water in good condition. Again adding Bacterlife to the aquarium water will boost the bacteria in the new filter.

Once the aquarium water quality is correct, then the old media in the new filter can be gradually replaced over a period of weeks.

 

Eheim filters. On the left is an Eheim external filter and on the right, an internal filter.

Whitespot in Freshwater Aquariums

Blog post written by Gary | 25 May 2016 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(759 views)

Whitespot is one of the most common and highly contagious diseases found in freshwater aquariums and without treatment can cause a loss of fish.

Having an outbreak of Whitespot in the aquarium can be caused by a water temperature difference when changing aquarium water, water quality when introducing new fish and possibly introducing too many fish too quickly into an aquarium.

Whitespot disease is easy to identify as the fish will have very small (sugar grain size) whitespots over the body. Other symptoms include fish gasping at the water surface and a change in the fish behaviour. If left untreated the infection will spread to other fish in the aquarium and the fish already infected will be become re-infected leading to more white spots on the fish.

Whitespot disease is caused by a microscopic parasite which will leave an infected fish to multiply and find other fish to infect. To effectively eradicate the disease from the aquarium the parasite has to be killed in its free swimming state.

As soon as Whitespot is detected it is best to treat the aquarium to stop the disease spreading. The best treatment we find is Waterlife Protozin which when used as directed will usually clear a Whitespot problem in one application. As with any treatment in the aquarium, all carbon or chemical removing media will need to be removed from the filter during the treatment.

During the Whitespot infection the fish may be prone to a secondary fungus or bacterial infection which will also need to be treated. Fish that have survived an attack of Whitespot will be less susceptible to another outbreak.

Some fish, particularly clown loach seem to be more susceptible to Whitespot. These fish will normally give you the first indications if there is a problem in the aquarium. 

 

Whitespot

The Malawi Eyebiter

Blog post written by Andy | 25 May 2016 | Category: Tropical fish
(723 views)

If ever there was a fish whose name would instantly put you off keeping one, surely this is it.

The Malawi eyebiter as it's commonly called is also referred to as Dimidiochromis Compressiceps and is fantastic for the larger African Cichlid aquarium.

It is a large predatory fish that gets to a decent size of up to 12" but more commonly grows to around 8".

A good size aquarium is important as small juveniles, once settled and feeding well, grow rapidly. They are silver juveniles with a dark band running the length of the body. When mature, males will turn an electric blue with red and orange fins and the sight of one of these 'dancing' at a mature female is spectacular.

They are ambush predators and use their narrow profile to glide up to unsuspecting prey items. They prefer a setup with lots of open swimming space. When mixing with other Cichlids I tend to build up one end or the back to allow more cruising space for these fish. Being an open water predator, diet should consist of larger pellets, Krill and Mysis shrimp, and mussel is also enjoyed once the fish is big enough.

With all African species, especially larger ones, good filtration is very important. I often recommend getting a larger filter than the tank requires to keep good water quality and water flow.

Being a predator, they will eat smaller fish so tank mates need to be chosen carefully. One of the most stand out characteristics is the size of this fish's jaw. It is almost a third the length of its body so you would be surprised at the size of fish these can eat.

Now to that name. There have been reports in aquariums of these fish, especially juveniles, attacking the eyes of fish before eating them. It's not a behaviour I have seen first hand, but that many people can't be wrong. I know people that have kept these for years and never had an issue, but it only takes one problem fish to stain its good reputation!

These are a great fish to keep if you have a large aquarium as they are big and colourful and like being out in the open. Just warn those little fish!!

 

Malawi eyebiter

Oxygen in Ponds

Blog post written by Gary | 24 May 2016 | Category: Pond maintenance
(711 views)

Keeping a good level of oxygen saturation in the pond in the summer months will improve your pond water quality and keep your fish healthy.

Oxygen levels will deplete at night time in the pond due to photosynthesises not taking place. The algae will take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide; this can be fatal to oxygen loving fish.

Adding pond oxygenating plants into the pond will add oxygen in daylight due to photosynthesis but can cause problems at night again due to the plants taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide.

Low oxygen levels can also occur in hot, sultry and thundery weather due to the low air pressure. Also, there are lower levels of dissolved oxygen in warmer water.

There are several ways to keep the oxygen level correct for the number of fish you have in the pond. Pumping the pond water through a filter with a UV lamp returning via a waterfall will inject more oxygen into the water and at the same time eliminate greenwater which will cause low oxygen levels at night.

Having a pump with a fountain unit fitted will also oxygenate the pond water helping the fish and water quality but will not eliminate green water algae.

Fitting an air pump to the pond is the most effective way to get more dissolved oxygen into the pond. Air pumps have a number of air stones which can be placed in different parts of the pond giving water movement and forcing more dissolved oxygen into the water.

Having more dissolved oxygen in the pond water will not only keep the fish in good condition, it will also help to break down the organic waste in the pond which will help keep the algae levels to a minimum.

 

Pond air
Air pumps

Getting rid of pollutants in aquarium water

Blog post written by Gary | 28 April 2016 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(833 views)

Over the years we occasionally have customers coming into the shop asking why their fish are dying unexpectedly. Most cases can be explained but some cases take longer to solve.

Many of the problems with the unexplained fish deaths can be due to airborne pollutants such as air fresheners, fly sprays, spray polish, carpet sprays and, if the aquarium is in a bedroom, deodorant and perfume sprays. Leaving soap on your hands or not adequately rinsing your hands before dipping into the aquarium can also cause the same problems.

If the cause of the unexplained fish deaths is due to a pollutant, the easiest solution is to dilute the chemical in the aquarium water by doing a number of water changes of at least 30% (never more than 50% of the aquarium volume in one water change). This will help the fish in the aquarium.

To quickly remove all the chemical pollutants, use a Poly-Filter. This pad is a unique invention for chemical filtering and purifying both freshwater and seawater. The pad will fit any filter system and changes colour when indicating what pollutants it has removed and when it needs to be changed.  The Poly-Filter will not release the impurities back into the aquarium.

One standard Poly-Filter will treat up to 180 litres at a price of £15.49.

 

Poly-Filter

The Longnose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus)

Blog post written by Andy | 28 April 2016 | Category: Marine fish
(957 views)

Customers often come into the shop saying their fish have real characters and personalities and one great example of this in the marine aquarium is the Longnose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus).

It is a really attractive fish with an unusual body shape and elongated mouth giving it a ‘long nose’. They are a creamy colour with red or pink lines all over the body creating squares and rectangles. Their behaviour is unusual as they don’t really swim in open water unless it’s to feed. Instead they perch on corals or on overhanging rocks seemingly taking life easy.

I will however warn you that when these fish want to move, they really go for it so an open top aquarium is not a great idea. They get to a size of about 4-5 inches so not a huge fish but not a small one either, not suitable for a Nano tank. They are a relatively peaceful fish but have been known to bully smaller, slower fish if they try and take a preferred perch or cave.

They are also very greedy when it comes to feeding so any slow feeders may struggle to get anything. A wide variety of shrimp is recommended (Brine / Mysis and Krill seem to be preferred) and I wouldn't mix these with any small ornamental shrimps or small gobies as adult individuals have been known on rare occasions to go for small cleaner shrimp so that’s something to be aware of.

They are a very robust fish with a great personality, sitting on a coral or hiding between the fronds of a sea fan almost watching you as you go about your business. A really great and enjoyable fish to keep. 

 

The Longnose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus)
The Longnose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus)

Dealing with blanketweed in ponds

Blog post written by Gary | 27 April 2016 | Category: Pond maintenance
(753 views)

At this time of year as the sun becomes stronger and the weather becomes warmer, blanketweed in ponds can grow very quickly covering the pump and causing it to fail due to the impeller becoming clogged. Also the blanketweed becomes entangled in the marginal and oxygenating plants making the pond look unsightly.

There have been many treatments brought out to clear blanketweed from ponds, however most will struggle to keep the blanketweed under control. Having tried various treatments we have found the most effective to be a product called Blanket Answer. We have been selling this product for the last five years and on only two occasions have we had a customer say it did not keep the blanketweed under control.

Blanket Answer is a unique blend of minerals and enzymes and is safe for all fish, wildlife and biological filter systems. Once Blanket Answer is added to the pond, the water will initially go milky cloudy which will clear in a few days. The blanketweed will then die back. A further treatment may be added if there is a sign the blanketweed is starting to reappear.

To get the best from Blanket Answer, have a pump running continuously to help disperse the treatment throughout the pond. Also as with any treatment having good oxygen level saturation helps fish like sturgeon and orfe.

We have four sizes of Blanket Answer:

200g for ponds up to 2,500 litres: £9.59
800g for ponds up to 10,000 litres: £22.99
2000g for ponds up to 25,000 litres: £44.79
4000g for ponds up to 50,000 litres: £75.99

 

Different sizes of Blanket Answer
Blanket Answer - the answer to blanketweed

The African Dwarf aquatic Frog

Blog post written by Andy | 23 March 2016 | Category: Amphibians
(817 views)

People are always after something a little different or quirky to keep in their aquarium. The trouble is anything weird and wonderful often needs specialist care or set-ups. There are however a few different characters that don't need too much of a lifestyle change. One such specimen is the African dwarf aquatic frog.

These frogs spend their entire lives underwater, but do need to come up for air as they have lungs not gills. So you don't need to provide dry areas for them to leave the water but a tank over 18" deep may be too much for them.

They are relatively small and an adult will rarely exceed a couple of inches and are commonly much smaller. They are an olive brown colour but you do occasionally see some greener individuals. They like a lot of hiding places with plenty of plants and ground cover. They are a sociable animal so keeping them in small groups is advised. They are a very peaceful creature to keep so we don't recommend too big or aggressive tank mates as larger fish may view them as a snack. Probably the most important aspect of keeping these is feeding. They don't take dried food very well; frozen food is essential, bloodworm, daphnia and mosquito larvae seem to be preferred and they need a small amount every day or two.

The occasional addition of live food is a great way to encourage fussy or secretive individuals to explore their new home. It is incredibly rare for these to look at your fish as food but I wouldn't mix them with really small fish or fry and certainly not small ornamental shrimp.

It is important to note, any holes where wires or pipe work enters or exits your aquarium should be covered or blocked as these frogs can squeeze through tiny holes and find themselves on your floor!

They are an incredibly interesting animal to keep with lots of personality and the cutest faces you will ever see in your aquarium.

 

The African Dwarf aquatic Frog
The African Dwarf aquatic Frog
By Mwatro (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Why Use Carbon in Aquariums?

Blog post written by Gary | 22 March 2016 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(783 views)

Activated carbon is one of the cheapest, most effective and easiest ways of removing organic pollutants, odours and water discolouration from the aquarium. Aquariums laden with a high organic waste can often experience reduced fish growth and are more susceptible to fish disease. By reducing the organic and toxic compounds in the aquarium water, the water quality improves leading to healthier fish.

Carbon removes organic pollutants from the aquarium water by adsorption, which means the organic compounds are removed from the aquarium water by attaching themselves to the outside of the carbon and then held there by electrostatic force.  As carbon adsorbs toxic substances from the aquarium it has a limited working life of about 3 to 4 weeks before it will need to be changed. As most carbon is sold by volume, a general guide of 500ml will treat approximately 50 gallons/225 litres.

In some filter systems the carbon is impregnated into a filter sponge for ease of use. This system will still remove toxic compounds from the aquarium and will still need to be changed according to the manufacturer's instructions.

If you are treating your aquarium with medication, all carbon filtration will need to be removed from the filter as it will remove the treatments, making them ineffective. When the course of treatments has been completed, the carbon can be placed back into the filter.

 

Activated carbon
Carbon filter sponges

Keeping Your Aquarium Plants Healthy

Blog post written by Gary | 22 March 2016 | Category: Aquarium plants
(778 views)

In the last two Weald Aquatics Club newsletters we looked at a number of aquarium plants which are easy to grow and maintain. To get the best out of these plants regular water changes will help; however with the addition of a liquid fertiliser you will be able to achieve vigorous plant growth and green foliage.

When added according to the manufacturer's instructions liquid fertilisers will also prevent iron and potassium deficiencies, prevent yellow leaves and strengthen plant stems.

For plants with a long root structure, fertiliser tablets are available for placing into the substrate allowing the plants to take up essential nutrients for vibrant and lush growth.

All of the liquid and tablet plant fertilisers we sell will not increase algae growth as they do not contain either phosphates or nitrates.

With regular use of aquatic plant fertilisers your aquatic plants will keep an intense green and red leaf colouration, also strong growth which will lead to a beautiful planted aquarium helping to keep algae growth down.

 

A range of plant feed products
A range of plant feed products

The Royal Gramma

Blog post written by Andy | 19 February 2016 | Category: Marine fish
(998 views)

As I am sure all of you know, I love a show tank. I usually have a certain group of fish I always put into our display aquariums, well, because I just love them.

One specific marine fish which goes in every reef tank I ever set up is possibly one of the most amazingly coloured fish you will ever come across, and probably one of the most popular fish in the shop - the Royal Gramma.

The Royal Gramma or Fairy Basslet (Gramma Loreto) is a fantastic fish to keep in a reef system. It grows to a size of around 3" but on some very rare occasions slightly larger. They are without doubt one of the most striking fish you can have in your aquarium. They have a bright purple head which continues down the body and fades via a series of defined spots to a bright yellow portion of the body continuing to the tail. To be honest when you see the fish it doesn't seem real. They are a peaceful species which require plenty of rock work and caves to retreat into at night.

On first introduction into a system they can be quite shy but given time will cruise around your aquarium hugging the rockwork and corals with their tummies. Eventually they will find a preferred cave and can get a bit territorial if any other small fish try and muscle their way in,but I have very rarely seen any problems other than a bit of "mouth gaping" to scare away any would be squatters!

As with all marine fish they require a varied diet of frozen foods such as Brine shrimp and Mysis shrimp, but I have also found giving them sinking pellets will keep their stomachs nice and round. They are not fussy feeders so a general varied diet is not hard to achieve. I usually recommend just single individuals to a system, however you can keep a small group as long as you can reliably get a single male to several females and introduce them at the same time. Females are generally smaller than the males and having multiple males can cause problems. They are one of the easiest fish to spawn in a reef system provided there are plenty of hiding places and some relatively peaceful tank mates.

When we have a shop full of customers, you can sometimes always hear people saying "that fish isn't real" or "did you see that flash of purple go into that hole" and before long there is a small crowd around the aquarium with people trying to catch a sight of the fish in question - The Royal Gramma - show stopper and crowd pleaser!

 

Royal Gramma
The beautifully coloured Royal Gramma

 


Two new tropical plants

Blog post written by Gary | 18 February 2016 | Category: Aquarium plants
(939 views)

We now regularly stock two new easy-to-grow tropical plants from our plant supplier.

The first plant Clinopodium brownei is probably one of the easiest plants to grow, as it can thrive in any water conditions and does not require special care. The unusual appearance of this plant is down to the square stems and round leaves. This is an ideal plant for new aquariums and also newcomers to the hobby who want an easy first plant to grow. Clinopodium brownei will grow to about 30cm high making it ideal as a background to mid-ground plant.

The second plant is Hemianthus callitrichoides, an easy growing foreground plant with light green small leaves. This plant is easy to grow and will cover the floor of the aquarium like a carpet, making it popular for small aquariums and an ideal plant for shrimp aquariums. The maximum height this plant will grow to is 10cm and it will mix easily with small plants from the Cryptocoryne family.

 

Clinopodium  brownei
Clinopodium brownei
Hemianthus callitrichoides
Hemianthus callitrichoides forming a carpet in an aquarium setting.
Image by Lennart Jöhnk (http://www.aqua-rebell.com) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Quick and easy water testing

Blog post written by Gary | 17 February 2016 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(796 views)

Your fish and plants will thrive and grow if the water in the aquarium is kept at its optimum quality. Over time, it is very easy for the Nitrate and pH to reach toxic levels even if you are changing the water regularly.

To monitor your aquarium water it is ideally best to check the quality once a month, as this time span will pick up any problems that could potentially be building up in your aquarium water. This then allows you to effectively deal with the problem before the fish are affected by the water quality.

Using a test strip allows you to check up to 6 parameters in one go, giving a quick visual guide to any problems which may be present in the aquarium water. Most test strips have Nitrate, Nitrite and pH as the main essential tests, with secondary tests being GH, KH and Chlorine.

All test strips are easy to read with colour graduation results showing when a water parameter is incorrect and how to rectify to bring the water back to optimum quality.

At Weald Aquatics we have Tetra 6 in 1 and API 5 in 1 test strips. Both have 25 test strips which will give you up to two years of water testing. Tetra 6 in 1 test strips are for freshwater testing only; API 5 in 1 test strips can be used for testing both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

Tetra 6 in 1 test strips include Nitrate, Nitrite, pH, KH, GH, and Chlorine. Price £12.75

API 5 in 1 test strips include Nitrate, Nitrite, pH, KH and GH. Price £11.99

 

Test strips
API and Tetra test strips

 


EU to ban Water Hyacinths

Blog post written by Gary | 15 January 2016 | Category: Pond plants
(1742 views)

We have been informed by our pond plant supplier the EU will banning Eichhornia crassipes major - Water hyacinth. Below are excerpts from our supplier explaining why the Water hyacinth should not be banned.

 

Water hyacinth

 

Why Eichhornia does not meet the criteria

Eichhornia is on the list of species of EU concern and will therefore be banned from next year unless people write to their MPs and explain the detrimental effect this regulation will have on their business while not benefiting the environment.

We support a regional ban as Eichhornia is invasive in hot climates and should not be kept or sold in Southern Europe. But in Northern Europe it is not and will not be a threat to the environment even with global warming predictions stretching to 2080.

The regulation states regional cooperation should be explored between Member States concerned with the same species that are not able to establish a viable population in a large part of the Union. If Eichhornia is not a species that should be considered for regional rather than Europe-wide regulation, then surely there is no species that will ever be considered for regional control.

Article 4 of the regulation states for a species to be included it must be necessary that concerted action at Union level is required to prevent their introduction, establishment or spread and the inclusion on the Union list will effectively prevent, minimise or mitigate their adverse impact. However regulations are in place in Spain and Portugal and they appear to be effective. There is no evidence that concerted action at Union level is required, nor is it likely that the inclusion on the union list will prevent, minimise or mitigate their adverse impact. This is a perfect example of where regional controls should be used. If regional controls should not be used to control Eichhornia which cannot grow in most of Europe, when will regional controls ever be applied to any species?

The best alternative to Eichhornia is Nymphoides peltata (Fringed water lily) a native of England, a plant that can be treated as a floating plant as you can just place it in the pond and it will grow well; it is good for cleaning water as it grows fast. But, Nymphoides is invasive, it does not die in winter, it is not native in Ireland where it is classed as a problematic invasive alien. Even native plants in the wrong place cause environmental damage and Nymphoides has caused issues, whereas Eichhornia will never be an issue in Northern Europe. Banning Eichhornia in Northern Europe will be detrimental to businesses and the environment.

You do not need to be an expert to know that Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) and Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) are invasive, costly to remove, damage property and are harmful to health. However they have been omitted from the list. The regulation is specifically intended to ensure the most problematic plants are tackled as an upmost priority. Unfortunately the list means the regulation falls far short of its good intentions.

Eichhornia crassipes major - Water hyacinth

  • Eichhornia has been sold in the UK for well over 50 years with NO detrimental effect to the environment
  • It is not hardy so cannot survive a UK winter
  • It very rarely survives a UK winter in an unheated greenhouse
  • It rarely flowers outside in the UK as the climate is too cool
  • It is too cold and there is insufficient light in the UK for it to set seed
  • Even with global warming, the NNSS risk assessment shows it is not a risk to the UK or similar environments
  • It has been recognised it cannot be invasive in this country hence its recommendation for removal from WCA Schedule 9 recently by a working group
  • There is nothing else like it to replace it in a pond
  • It is excellent at removing nitrates and toxins from the pond, improving water quality, reducing algae and keeping the water clear
  • There are already regulations in place to prevent its sale in Southern Europe where it could be an issue, due to their very different climate, making an EU ban unnecessary
  • If this species can be banned in the UK for no environmental gain, it is of great concern as to what will be banned in future

The Anubias Plant Family

Blog post written by Gary | 15 January 2016 | Category: Aquarium plants
(1163 views)

If you are looking for a tough, long-lasting plant for the aquarium, one of the best plants is the Anubias family.

The Anubias family does not need to be planted in the aquarium substrate as in the wild they are normally found growing on the wood or rocks found in the rivers and lakes. In the aquarium, if the plant is not attached to any bogwood or ornaments the rhizome must be kept above the gravel to keep the plant healthy.

The Anubias range of plants can grow between 10cm and 80cm making them ideal for both nano and large aquariums, and also as both foreground and background planting.

Two of the Anubias plants we keep in stock are the Anubias Nana which is a very hardy, slow-growing plant with a deep green colour. Suitable as a foreground plant in Discus aquariums, it will thrive when grafted onto bogwood and ornaments. The second is Anubias Heterophylla a quicker growing plant with light green, slightly curling leaves which can grow between 60cm and 80cm, ideal as a background plant and in large aquariums.

 

Anubias

Why do we use a water conditioner?

Blog post written by Gary | 15 January 2016 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(985 views)

Mains tap water is treated with chlorine or chloramines which are disinfectants, both being toxic to aquatic life. Also found in tap water are the heavy metals: copper, zinc and lead. Again these are very toxic to all aquatic inhabitants.

The effect that toxic chemicals have on fish in the aquarium is that chlorine destroys the gill tissue causing suffocation, and chloramines which pass through the gills and then enter the bloodstream, lead the iron in the blood cells to bind, preventing them from carrying oxygen essentially suffocating the fish.

By treating your tap water with a quality water conditioner it will prevent the toxic chemicals from harming your fish. All of our water conditioners work by instantly neutralising both the chlorine and chloramines and completely binding the heavy metals present in tap water.

Water conditioners also add essential elements including iodine and magnesium to the water along with added vitamins to keep your fish healthy. Gill and mucous membranes on the fish are also protected along with added bio colloids for beneficial bacteria growth. 

 

Water conditioners
Various water conditioners

An Update on Bob and Jean’s Aquariums

Blog post written by Gary | 20 November 2015 | Category: Case studies
(1213 views)

This month we are revisiting Bob and Jean’s aquariums two years on to see how the fish have grown and the aquariums have matured.

Bob and Jean purchased their first Juwel Vision 180 aquarium in early 2013 and, having had great success with this aquarium, another Juwel Vision 180 was purchased 6 months later.  

Aquarium Number 1

This aquarium has gravel with a Tetra plant substrate under the gravel to promote plant growth. The plants are a mixture of Cryptocoryne, Hygrophila and Anubius planted on bogwood, the majority of the plants are from when the aquarium was first set up.

The fish include a Gold Gourami, Harlequins, Platys, Otocinclus also three Corydoras Sterbas and one White Cloud Mountain Minnow from the original set up. The Platys are now on the fourth or fifth generation.

Aquarium Number 2

Bob and Jean decided to have a sand substrate for this aquarium, again to help plant growth. As in the first aquarium there is a mixture of Cryptocoryne and Hygrophila plants, Anubius on bogwood and Hair grass growing through the sand.

This aquarium houses larger fish including two angelfish, three Clown loach, five Corydoras and a mixture of Tetras.

To keep both aquariums in tip top condition Bob carries out a 25% to 30% water change weekly. He says he notices the aquarium housing the Angelfish and Loaches tends to need an extra water change occasionally because of the size of the fish. When carrying out the water changes Bob uses Tetra Aquasafe to condition the water and Bacterlife to help breakdown the fish waste. Every three to four weeks Bob uses the electric gravel cleaner to help keep the gravel clean. The filter systems are changed regularly according to Juwel’s recommended timetable, and Bob has also kept a diary to keep a track of both cleaning the filter systems and when the fish have been purchased for both aquariums.

Having extra air being pumped into the aquarium via external air pumps, Bob has found the fish livelier and the water seems cleaner.

Bob reckons his excellent plant growth in both aquariums is being achieved by the weekly water changes replacing the minerals absorbed in the water by the plants and the lights being turned on for three hours in the morning and then for five hours in the evening.

To keep the fish happy Bob and Jean feed the fish on Tetra Pro Colour, Tetra Pro Algae, Hikari Algae Wafers, Bloodworm and Fish Science Shrimp and Algae tablets which all the fish love. Also for a treat he occasionally gives his fish a small chunk of cucumber!

The final question I put to Bob and Jean: what are your favourite fish?

Bob: "The Corydoras Sterbas in the first aquarium, as they are some of the original fish and have a deep yellow streak on their dorsal fin with a nice spotted body."

Jean: "The two Angelfish in the second aquarium because of their colour and size."

 

Bob and Jean in the shop
Bob and Jean at the shop topping up on their supplies

 

Bob and Jean's impressive aquarium
Bob and Jean's impressive aquarium

A whole lotta loaches

Blog post written by Andy | 19 November 2015 | Category: Tropical fish
(1215 views)

Most people like to have fish swimming at all levels in their fish tank. For the bottom it’s almost always a catfish, usually a Coryodoras, or an "algae eater" such as a Plecostomus or Ancistrus.

However there are loads of other options for people who want something different. We have lots of different species of loaches in the shop. The most popular is the Clown Loach with its bold black and orange colouration, but there are many others which offer great alternatives.

We have Zebra Loach, a smaller striped species that swim in small groups and buzz around plants. Red finned Botia, a pale blue fish with bright red fins and tail, a boisterous species which do really well with bigger fish and cichlids (I have 4 at home!).  Then there’s "Yo Yo" Loach, an olive green banded species that likes sitting in holes and plants with its head sticking out looking for food. We also have Orange Saddled loach, Zodiac Loach, Pakistani Loach, Coolie Loach - in fact we have Loach everywhere.

They are great bottom feeders that like plenty of places to hide which encourages them to sit out in the open. They love a varied diet but obviously sinking foods is important. They are a very peaceful group of fish with the odd exception and offer a real interest in an aquarium often developing real personalities.

If you have an empty area in the bottom of your aquarium that's missing something different, why not give loaches a try?

 

Clown loach
The brightly coloured clown loach

Is your aquarium water at the correct temperature?

Blog post written by Gary | 18 November 2015 | Category: Aquarium and pond equipment
(1179 views)

As winter is nearly upon us, the room in which your aquarium is situated may get colder therefore making your aquarium heater work harder. If the temperature drops too low the fish will be more susceptible to diseases such as Whitespot or bacterial infections.   

To make sure your aquarium is kept at the correct temperature it is wise to invest in a thermometer to monitor the aquarium temperature, which should ideally be between 24c and 27c for most common tropical fish. Thermometers are available either as a stick-on unit which attaches to the glass outside of the aquarium, or a standard glass thermometer which attaches to the glass inside the aquarium. Also now available are precision digital thermometers giving greater accuracy, some of which are fitted with an alarm to let you know the temperature has dropped to a dangerous level.

It is good idea to check your heater is working correctly. This can be done by looking for the red neon indicator light which is fitted to most heaters. This will be lit when the heater is on and heating the water in the aquarium.

If you are finding the heater is struggling to keep the aquarium water within the normal tropical temperature range, you may need to increase the temperature at which the heater has been set. Most heaters have a dial which has been set to the required temperature; however as the heater becomes older the temperature can sometimes drift down, at which point the temperature dial may have to be increased  by a degree or two to compensate for the drift in temperature.

The heater should never be taken out of the aquarium unless the power to the heater has been turned off for at least 30 minutes this will allow the heater to cool down. Should the heater be taken out of the aquarium while it is still hot there is a risk the heater glass will crack damaging the heater.

 

A selection of thermometers available for tropical aquariums
A selection of thermometers available for tropical aquariums

 


The stunning Flame Angelfish

Blog post written by Andy | 16 October 2015 | Category: Marine fish
(1132 views)

If there is one fish for the marine aquarium that I think is a "must have" it's this little cracker.

The Flame Angel (Centropyge Loricula) is a dwarf Angelfish found in various locations in the Pacific. It is in my opinion one of the most stunning fish to keep. Every individual is unique with a slightly different pattern depending on the area in which they are found. They have vertical dark bars on top of a bright red or orange body.

One of the most appealing aspects to this fish is its adult size of only 4" which is tiny compared to the majority of Angelfish. They are very shy when first introduced into an aquarium but after a few days they grow in confidence and will start picking at the live rock searching for food. They enjoy a mixed diet of foods including brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, Spirulina-based foods and marine algaes. They have been known to nip at some stony corals and clams but usually with a well-rounded diet this can be avoided.

They need to go into a fairly mature system with lots of live rock and hiding places, I usually recommend them to be one of the last fish to go into a system but they are well worth the wait. You still need to be careful when selecting tank mates, as a fish of too similar colour can cause friction but this is more on the rare side.

It's a fish that ticks almost all of the boxes and in my opinion one hard to beat in terms of colour and personality. It's why I have put one in our show aquarium and I love him!

 

Flame Anglefish
The stunning Flame Angelfish. Come in and see one in our show tank.

Feeding Your Fish In Winter

Blog post written by Gary | 15 October 2015 | Category: Pond fish
(1100 views)

Just a quick reminder about feeding your pond fish in the coming winter months.

As the water temperature is now decreasing, your fish will not be eating as much food as they have in the summer months. To help the fish digest the food at this time of the year it would be best to change to a wheatgerm-based food which, as the name suggests, is fibre-rich. This helps build up and maintain energy reserves through the winter months.

A wheatgerm food is ideal for when the pond temperatures fall below 10c and can be fed to the fish down to temperatures of 4c.

Although the wheatgerm fish food is a winter food it can also be fed as a supplement to the summer foods as a treat.

 

Wheatgerm food
Wheatgerm pond food

Bentosi Tetra

Blog post written by Andy | 05 September 2014 | Category: Tropical fish
(2741 views)

Sometimes in the shop when I receive the fish list for me to do my order I come across something I have never seen before.... so I order them!

One such fish I came across was the Bentosi Tetra (Hyphessobrycon Bentosi) and it is now one of the most popular fish we stock in the shop.

Being a Tetra it is incredibly peaceful, stays small at about 1.5" and is a fantastic addition to a community tank. They are often confused with another fish called a Rosy Tetra which looks similar when young but I think these are a much better fish.

They are native to the Amazon basin in Peru and Brazil and found amongst tree roots and sunken vegetation in slow moving rivers. They are a gorgeous fish with a pink fading to silver body with bright red fins and tail. However the most stunning feature of this fish is the dorsal fin. Mature males get an amazingly long top fin with a bright white tip which they flash at females to get their attention.

As with all Tetras, a group is important and I would recommend at least 8 with a mixture of males and females to get the best out of them. It's amazing watching the males "dancing" in front of the females raising their "top hat" dorsal fin. I love them so much that I changed our planted show tank around and changed the fish to accommodate a group of them.

All you need is a relatively peaceful aquarium with plenty of plants for them to swim in and out of that would also create some shaded areas. They accept a variety of dried and frozen food but seem to really enjoy live Daphnia which will bring out better colouration.

I really recommend these fish and I know that when you see them in our show tank you will want a small group yourself.

 

Bentosi Tetra
One of the Bentosi Tetra in our show tank

How to work out the water volume in your aquarium or pond.

Blog post written by Gary | 04 September 2014 | Category: General hints and tips
(2452 views)

One of the many questions we ask customers when working out how much water treatment to use or if the correct size UV light system is fitted is the total water volume of their pond or aquarium. Many people don't know how to work this out so we thought a handy guide might be in order.

Working out the water volume is very easy using the following formulas.

Aquariums

In an aquarium to find the capacity in gallons you multiply the length by the depth and the width in inches then divide by 276, so...

L x D x W divided by 276 = total gallons

To change to litres multiply the gallons by 4.546.

For metric measurements multiply the length by the depth and the width in centimetres then divide by 1000, so...

L x D x W divided by 1000 = total litres

For both equations please allow for water displaced by rocks and other ornaments.

Ponds

As ponds are of course normally larger than aquariums it is easier to use feet instead of inches so a different formula is used.

Multiply the length by the width and the average depth by 6.25 this will give you the total pond volume in gallons, so...

L x W x average D x 6.25 = total gallons

To change to litres multiply the gallons by 4.546.

As ponds are not always a rectangle or square it is best to work out an average length and width as well as an average depth. All pond treatments allow for slight inaccuracies when working out the water volume of the pond.

If you've got any questions just drop us a line!


When to change the filter media in a Juwel aquarium

Blog post written by Gary | 04 September 2014 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(12554 views)

To help our customers with Juwel aquariums keep their filter systems in good working order, we have with the assistance of Juwel assembled a timetable to show when filters should be changed and a list of the new names for the Juwel filter media.

Juwel media name change

Previous Name     New Name
Poly Pad    bioPad
Carbon Sponge  bioCarb
Nitrax Nitrax
Filter Sponge Coarse  bioPlus coarse
Filter Sponge Fine  bioPlus fine
Cirax Cirax
Phorax Phorax

Juwel filter change timetable

bioPad    Weekly
bioCarb    Monthly
Nitrax Two Months
bioPlus Coarse   Three Months
bioPlus Fine    Nine Months
*Cirax   Twelve Months
*Phorax    Two Weeks
*Carbax    Two Months

*If you have the optional filter media fitted.

For the positioning of the filter media please see the drawing below. You can also download this image as a PDF file for easier legibility by clicking here. The above timetable is for all aquariums in the Juwel range.

 

Juwel factsheet

How to clean and change a pressurised pond UV light filter

Blog post written by Gary | 04 September 2014 | Category: Pond maintenance
(5193 views)

Cleaning

Many customers find that even when they have a UV light filter fitted to their pond filter system the pond water remains or still goes green with algae. If the UV light filter is the correct size for the pond, then normally if the unit is working either the UV lamp needs replacing and/or the quartz glass has become dirty reducing the amount of UV radiation reaching the algae allowing the algae to multiply very quickly.

The UV lamp should be replaced every year, ideally in the spring, giving full radiation output throughout the spring, summer and autumn when the sun is at its strongest. When changing the lamp it is best to inspect the quartz sleeve for a build-up of hard water deposits and dirt. This should be cleaned from the quartz glass carefully as the glass sleeve is very fragile.

We have taken a series of photos to show how a Bermuda pressurised UV filter is dismantled ready for a lamp change. To change the UV lamp in a similar filter system will normally follow the same rules.

Changing a lamp

Turn both pump and UV filter off at the mains switch before opening the filter.

 

The UV lamp can be changed with the lid in the closed position.
Remove screws on ring, turn ring to allow UV cover to be removed.

 

Unscrew UV lamp housing to reveal UV lamp, remove lamp by gently pulling out of the electrical connection. Insert new UV lamp by pushing gently into the electrical connector.
Screw back UV lamp housing making sure the O-ring is in position, re-assemble top dome by screwing back into position. Turn pump and UV light on. The UV light can be checked when switched on by looking at the clear hosetail – a blue glow will be visible when the UV lamp is operating.

How to clean a pond UV light filter

Blog post written by Gary | 03 June 2014 | Category: Pond maintenance
(3070 views)

Many customers find that even when they have a UV light filter fitted to their pond filter system the pond water remains or still goes green with algae.

If the UV light filter is the correct size for the pond and is working normally, then either the UV lamp needs replacing and/or the quartz glass has become dirty, reducing the amount of UV radiation reaching the algae and allowing the algae to multiply very quickly.

The UV lamp should be replaced every year ideally in the spring, giving full radiation output throughout the spring, summer and autumn when the sun is at its strongest.

When changing the lamp it is best to inspect the quartz sleeve for a buildup of hard water deposits and dirt. This should be cleaned from the quartz glass carefully as the quartz glass sleeve is very fragile.

We have taken a series of photos to show how a TMC UV filter is dismantled ready for a lamp change and glass clean.

 

Switch off power to UV unit and undo screws to remove green cover allowing access to light unit.
Switch off power to UV unit and undo screws to remove green cover allowing access to light unit.

 

Lift the light unit out of UV holder.
Lift the light unit out of UV holder.
Disconnect lamp leads from ends of UV lamp.
Disconnect lamp leads from ends of UV lamp.

 

Remove UV lamp from inside light unit.
Remove UV lamp from inside light unit.
Remove UV lamp from inside light unit.

 

SUnscrew nut fittings from each end of light unit, remove the two O rings and then remove quartz glass. Carefully clean the quartz glass and re-assemble into the light unit, fit and connect new UV lamp and refit cover.
Unscrew nut fittings from each end of light unit, remove the two O rings and then remove quartz glass. Carefully clean the quartz glass and re-assemble into the light unit, fit and connect new UV lamp and refit cover.
Unscrew nut fittings from each end of light unit, remove the two O rings and then remove quartz glass. Carefully clean the quartz glass and re-assemble into the light unit, fit and connect new UV lamp and refit cover.

Update on our maintenance service

Blog post written by Gary | 30 May 2014 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(2172 views)

It is now over a year since we began our aquarium and pond maintenance service and in that time we have serviced and built over 400 ponds and aquariums.

As the number of regular maintenance customers has increased we have had to invest in a new van. The van is now a regular sight on the roads around Bromley, West Wickham, Orpington and Sevenoaks and we are also maintaining a number of aquariums in the Bexleyheath and Dartford area.

As mentioned earlier we service both freshwater and marine aquariums and ponds. For aquariums the cost will depend on the size of the aquarium and whether it is a marine aquarium or a freshwater aquarium.

For a service on both types of aquarium a water test is taken, the filters, gravel, ornaments and glass are cleaned, a partial water change carried out and then the aquarium is aquascaped. With marine aquariums further water tests and equipment cleaning are undertaken.

With ponds we have three levels of pond service: a full service, half service and mini service. The pond services are comprehensive and too long to list here so please contact us for more detailed information regarding the work carried out on each service.

 

You won't miss our van as it travels about the locailty. We've got tropical fish on one side...
You won't miss our van as it travels about the locality. We've got tropical fish on one side...

 

...and marine on the other.
...and marine on the other.

Another marine show tank is on its way

Blog post written by Andy | 28 May 2014 | Category: Marine fish
(2246 views)

As most of you know by now, my favourite part of this job is setting up new aquariums. We already have eight show tanks in the shop and 100 in total if you include the display aquariums we sell our fish from (and that's not including the pond units).

I think the shop looks great and customers are amazed at how we have managed to fit so many aquariums in. So let's get another one in there!

I set up a small marine nano tank, plus a big 200 litre marine, so I think it's time we set one up somewhere in between.

Over the next few weeks I will be setting up an Aquael Reefmaster with a volume of 105 litres. Now this is a complete set up for marines and comes with some brilliant pieces of kit. It comes with a heater, protein skimmer, 3 x 24 watt T5 light tubes, a separate set of LEDs all on a programmable timer, separate cooling system for both the aquarium and equipment both with built-in fans, and the filter system which houses mechanical, biological and chemical filter media is partitioned behind the aquarium so you don't see any equipment . It also houses a set of pre filters to protect all of the equipment from any air bubbles which may work their way into the system via a protein skimmer (some thing a lot of manufacturers don't think about).

It's a huge amount of kit for such a small tank and one I cannot wait to get stuck into - so watch this space.

I'm going to use something slightly different in the set up this time. It's a new product that replicates live rock. It is called "Life Rock" and it's produced by a company called CaribSea. It has all the benefits of traditional live rock but with none of the negatives. The rock comes seeded with a spore bacteria ready to act as your base filtration. The shapes and colours have been produced to replicate that of live rock and allow corals to attach and grow easily. The main benefits are there is no long curing time and no chance of unwanted algae or hitch-hiking pests such as bristle worms, crabs and mantis shrimp finding their way into your system. It is also considerably cheaper than regular live rock which is a massive help considering how much some aquariums need.

I am really looking forward to setting up this new tank so I would love to hear any suggestions anyone has with what to put in it. It should look great - not bad for tank 101!

 

All we can show you at the moment is an empty box and the aquarium on its cabinet ready to be worked on. If you've got any suggestion about what we should do with it, get in touch!

The Rudd - an alternative to goldfish and koi

Blog post written by Andy | 27 May 2014 | Category: Pond fish
(2989 views)

Most people tend to think about goldfish or koi as the only fish you can keep in your pond. There are however lots of species of fish available for your pond and one of the most overlooked fish is the Rudd.

The Rudd (Scardinius Erythropthalmus) is a very active fish and great if you're after a shoal of fish for your pond. They are commonly a silver fish with large eyes and bright red fins. They have been selectively bred to now come in a gold variety. They can become a large fish, sometimes reaching sizes up to 18" with a weight of 3lbs. They are incredibly active and provide constant flashes of silver and red in your pond as they dart around.

They are a very undemanding fish which can tolerate a wide range of water parameters and temperature. If you provide them with lots of plants, the Rudd is one of the easiest fish to breed in your pond. If there are enough plants, a mature female can lay up to 200,000 eggs on the vegetation in the shallow areas of your pond. (don't panic, you're not going to have 200,000 baby fish in your pond!).

Rudd are a great fish for any pond and are a great alternative to goldfish.

 

Rudd
The Rudd - a great alternative to goldfish

The Picasso Trigger fish

Blog post written by Andy | 13 March 2014 | Category: Marine fish
(2743 views)

Some of the most amazing looking fish for a marine system are unfortunately not always safe and compatible with corals and other invertebrates, I suppose if they all were it would be too easy! Invertebrates are usually the hardest things to maintain in a marine system so more and more people are starting marine aquariums without them to get into the swing of things.

We have a lot of customers that keep "fish only systems" or "predator Tanks" containing some truly amazing fish: Lionfish, Puffer fish, Eels, Trigger fish, Tusk fish, Sharks... the list is endless. One of my personal favourites is the Picasso Trigger fish. It's an amazing looking fish that's constantly active and has a real personality.

The Picasso Trigger (Rhinecanthus aculeatus) is found on reefs in the Indo-Pacific and usually frequents the shallow  sandy areas around the coral reef. They are constantly cruising around looking for food and eat just about anything, so shrimps and crabs are a massive no. They are fantastic looking fish with a creamy body and what seems like multi coloured war paint on their faces.

They will generally get to a decent size of between 6"-10" so they need to be housed in a suitably large aquarium with decent sized, robust tank mates. The aquarium needs plenty of rock work to allow the fish places to hide and also pieces to graze on to try and keep their beaks trim, so again corals and invertebrates are not recommended.

They have real personalities and we have many customers say they feed the fish by hand, dangling pieces of fish and prawns in the water. I wouldn't recommend this as they do have fairly powerful beaks and an accidental "nip" would be an unwelcome surprise.

Out of all the fish we keep in the shop, the Picasso trigger tends to get a lot of attention as they constantly cruise the front of the display tanks looking for their next meal. We have a great specimen in the shop at the moment so why not pop in and see him.

 

Picasso Trigger
The Picasso Trigger fish

Brian's marine aquarium

Blog post written by Gary | 13 March 2014 | Category: Case studies
(2166 views)

This month we are continuing our interviews with Weald Aquatics club members and I have spoken to Brian who has been keeping tropical fish since the early seventies and who has been a customer for over 16 years.

Shortly after retiring Brian purchased a bow-fronted, made-to-measure aquarium. However this eventually sprung a leak, which meant Brian had to find an aquarium very quickly. His next aquarium was a Juwel Rio 240 which he purchased from us when we worked at Keston and which he filled with Discus and shoals of Tetras. To keep the Discus happy Brian used RO water for the water changes. When Keston closed down Brian was on the verge of shutting down his aquarium as he was having difficulty in finding a shop which could supply RO water and quality tropical fish.

In early 2011 Brian was told about Weald Aquatics. After speaking to Andy, his enthusiasm for keeping tropical fish returned and he immediately changed his aquarium to an African Cichlid set up. Not content with the Rio 240, Brian then upgraded to a Rio 300 for his large collection of Cichlids in the August of 2011. Having enjoyed the African Cichlids for a couple of years Brian was then looking for a new challenge.

At about this time we had started stocking marine fish and corals. Brian had become interested in the marine show aquarium in the shop and decided to upgrade his Rio 300 to a marine aquarium. With our help Brian’s African Cichlids were transferred to our show Cichlid aquarium and his Rio 300 upgraded to a marine aquarium. This required the addition of a Juwel Protein skimmer, marine lighting and an external filter to compliment the original Juwel filter.

We aquascaped Brian’s aquarium with live rock and filled with RO salt water allowing Brian to start stocking his aquarium immediately, to date in the aquarium there are:

  • 5 x Clownfish
  • 5 x Green Chromis
  • 6 x Yellow tailed Damsel
  • 1 x Coral Beauty
  • 1 x Copperband
  • 2 x Cleaner Shrimp

There is also a large number of soft corals including Xenia, polyps and mushroom corals.

With the help of our regular aquarium service, Brian is continuing to add fish and corals to his aquarium. To keep all his fish and coral in good condition, Brian feeds a variety of frozen food which includes Brineshrimp, Krill and Mysis, and for the corals, a special coral food produced by Salifert which has balanced nutrition for all the soft corals in the aquarium.

Brian has said he will now sit back and enjoy his marine aquarium as every time he looks at the aquarium, he finds another crab or coral polyp has appeared on the live rock.

 

Brian's marine aquarium
Brian's marine aquarium

 

Brian in the shop selecting some more fish for his tank
Brian in the shop selecting some more fish for his tank

A guide to filtration

Blog post written by Gary | 12 March 2014 | Category: Aquarium equipment
(1965 views)

Why do I need a filter?

Filters are essential piece of equipment for keeping the aquarium water in excellent condition. Also they remove waste produced by the fish, stopping the water becoming polluted, which in turn could cause the fish to develop diseases or die.

What filter will I need?

The size and type of filter you will require is dependent on the size of the aquarium, what fish you will be keeping and your budget.

How filters work

All filters have an electric pump which moves water through the filter, passing through three stages:
  • Mechanical
  • Chemical
  • Biological

Each stage will use various media to maintain water quality.

Chemical filtration

Using different types of media, either activated carbon or a resin, chemical impurities in the water can be removed effectively. Both media are either supplied loose or in net bags ready for use.

Activated carbon works by adsorption (i.e. chemical molecules attach to the outside of the carbon). This means most carbon media become filled up within a couple of months and will need to be changed to continue removing chemical impurities from the water.

Resin media are used for specific removal of chemicals in aquarium water such as phosphates and nitrates from freshwater aquariums.

There are some resins which last up to 6 months and will remove heavy metals, copper, phosphates and nitrates all in one go.

Mechanical filtration

There are a number of different types of media which trap solid waste from the aquarium water; these are either a ceramic media or sponges which are graded coarse, medium and fine.

A coarse media usually removes the larger particles while a fine or filter floss will remove very fine particles 'polishing' the water and keeping it crystal clear.

Biological filtration

This section of the filter breaks down the metabolic waste products from the fish, ensuring the water is healthy for the fish to live in. This is achieved by the filter media becoming home to friendly aerobic bacteria (Nitrosomanas), which break down the toxic ammonia excreted from the fish into the slightly less toxic nitrite, which is then broken down by another oxygen-loving bacteria (Nitrobacter) into less harmful nitrates. This action is part of a process known as the nitrogen cycle.

The media used in the biological part of the filter usually have a high bulk density allowing optimum colonisation by friendly bacteria for fast decomposition of ammonia and nitrite. However all sponges used in any filter system will be capable of housing friendly bacteria to break down the fish waste.

Types of filters

There are three main types of filtration for the aquarium:
  • Internal
  • External
  • Undergravel

Each type of filter will have some advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the correct filter is essential for keeping your aquarium in the best condition.

Internal filters sit inside the aquarium and are ideal for small to medium aquariums and are easy to maintain and inexpensive to buy.

The downside is that the filter, being inside the aquarium, takes up space and can also look obtrusive. Furthermore, their size can be restrictive when used with large messy fish such as goldfish and cichlids.

External filters are usually sited under the aquarium inside the cabinet.

As external filters are larger than internal filters they have more media inside which results in less frequent cleaning than internal filters and are more versatile with various specialist media available to improve the water quality.

External filters are usually more expensive than internal filters but will be worth paying the extra money for versatility and greater filtering capacity.

Undergravel filters take more time to keep clean and can cause problems with a planted aquarium. They are also not as versatile as an internal or external filter. However they have a larger surface area than internal filters and are ideal for messy fish and are also cheaper than internal and external filters.

Internal filters

The filter is usually fitted to the back of the aquarium just below the waterline for the best results.

Internal filters usually consist of a number of sponges with added biological media in the larger versions to cope with the added biological load which comes with a larger aquarium.

The operation of the filter is simple; water is drawn into the bottom of the filter through the various sponges which trap debris from the aquarium water. At the same time, friendly bacteria will colonise these sponges breaking down any toxic waste in the water.

Water is then pumped out into the aquarium via a variable nozzle from which the flow of water can be adjusted and directed; at this point air can be injected into the flow of water by means of a venturi system.

External filters

External filters usually fit into the cabinet under the aquarium connected by two tubes. Water is removed from one end of the aquarium, cleaned and then returned back to the other end of the aquarium via a spray bar or other spray nozzles.

Cleaning the water in an external filter is achieved through various sections. The first is the coarse mechanical cleaning which removes the larger particles, the second is biological which cleans the water of toxins and the third is the polishing which removes the very fine particles. Finally there is the chemical filtration, which takes out all chemical impurities from the water.

As the external filter has a large filtering capacity, the various sections of the filter can be adjusted to suit the tank conditions, for example, a larger coarse section for large messy fish like goldfish or specialist media to greatly improve your water condition.

Many of the new external filters now have a self-priming mechanism which allows water to be drawn from the aquarium into the filter ready to be pumped back into the aquarium. This device makes life easier when cleaning or servicing the filter.

Undergravel filters

An undergravel filter is normally a plastic tray that has a space underneath with gravel on top which is fitted to the bottom of the aquarium. One or more uplift tubes are fitted to the plastic tray through which water is drawn, either by a water pump (known as a powerhead) or an airstone powered by an airpump. The action of the water being drawn through the uplift tube pulls the water through the gravel which removes particles and toxins keeping the water clean.

Servicing filters

Most internal filter sponges will need to be cleaned every two to four weeks depending on stock levels and the type of fish kept in the aquarium. When cleaning the sponges from an internal filter, they should be rinsed in water that has been taken from the aquarium. Doing this will retain the friendly bacteria in the sponge. If the sponges are washed in tap water the chlorine in the water will kill off the friendly bacteria and this will lead to a rise in the potentially toxic ammonia and nitrite, which in turn could cause the fish to develop diseases or die.
External filters will probably need less cleaning as they have a larger volume than internal filters, so will be able to collect more debris over a longer period.

Impellers which are fitted to all pumps both external and internal will need to be cleaned regularly. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions on how to do this.

For external filters, the feed and return pipes will need to be cleaned. This can be done with various sized flexible pipe brushes.

Maturing a filter

When a new filter is added to an aquarium, as previously pointed out the friendly bacteria have not colonised the filter.

If the filter is to replace an already working filter, the best solution is to run both filters together for about two weeks before removing the old filter, as this will allow the new filter to mature quicker and also keep the water in excellent condition.

If the filter is in a new tank without fish, it can be matured either by using a maturing liquid or using hardy fish such as Zebra Danios.


Bob and Jean’s Aquariums

Blog post written by Gary | 06 February 2014 | Category: Case studies
(2236 views)

This month, we thought you would like to read how other customers enjoy and maintain their aquariums.

Bob and Jean had kept tropical fish for many years but due to the pressure of work and family they gave up. However when Bob retired they decided it was time to set up a tropical aquarium again. Having looked at several aquatic shops they then found Weald Aquatics on the internet and were impressed by the Weald website. In February 2013 after much discussion Bob and Jean decided on the Dark Wood Juwel Vision 180. As Bob said “I liked the curve of the front glass”.

The aquarium was set up in the living room as a focal point where Bob and Jean could sit and enjoy the fish.

The aquarium has a natural gravel substrate with a number of real plants all of which have rooted and grown since planting in February last year, including Amazon Sword, Hygrophila Guanensis, Hygrophila Polysperma, Crytocoryne, Moss balls and two plants on bogwood, one of which Bob created himself.

The fish population consists of large shoals of Harlequins, Zebra Danios, Various Corydoras, White Cloud Minnows and Platys. Bob will be adding more shoals of fish as the aquarium matures.

After having had the aquarium set up for six months with great success with both fish and plants, Bob and Jean decided they would like an aquarium in their dining room. Having firstly looked at the new Juwel Lido 200 they finally opted for another dark wood Vision 180 to complement their original aquarium.

For the second aquarium Bob decided on a sand substrate again with real plants. This time Bob has planted Vallis, Ludwigia Glandulosa, various Cryptocoryne plants, hair grass and again two plants on bogwood.

Bob decided to have a shoal of six Angelfish with various Corydoras, Clown Loach, Silver Tip Tetra, Plecostomus and a large shoal of Phantom Tetra.

To keep both aquariums clean and to encourage strong plant growth Bob performs a 25% weekly water change using hot and cold water to keep the water temperature the same, also adding Tetra Aquasafe to condition the water before adding it to the aquariums. He also wipes round the inside of the aquariums using an API algae pad to remove any algae and then adds Waterlife Bacterlife to help break down the fish waste and prevent further algae build up.

The filter system is cleaned and sponges changed according to the Juwel maintenance schedule. The gravel is cleaned using the Aquarium Systems power gravel cleaner.

The fish are fed using a mixture of Tetra Pro Colour and algae crisps every day. Frozen bloodworm is fed every two days along with sinking pellets for the Clown Loach and Corydoras.

The lighting on the aquariums is turned on for two hours in the morning then a further six hour from 4 pm to 10 pm giving plenty of light for strong plant growth. Bob has also fitted a reflector on each of the front lights to give extra lighting for the lower plants.

Since Bob set up the first aquarium, he has kept a notebook on all the fish and plants added to the aquariums, and when he has changed filters. Bob says “this has been invaluable in keeping track of what I have done and when to the two aquariums”.

Bob says he has not regretted buying the two aquariums as they bring him and Jean much pleasure.

If you wish to see more pictures of Bob and Jean’s aquariums they are displayed at the shop.

 

Bob and Jean in the shop looking for more fish for their aquariums
Bob and Jean in the shop looking for more fish for their aquariums

 

Bob and Jean's beautiful aquariums
Bob and Jean's beautiful aquariums
Bob and Jean's beautiful aquariums

A new home for an old friend

Blog post written by Andy | 06 February 2014 | Category: Case studies
(1924 views)

One of the biggest compliments I think we can get here at the shop is having customers from our old haunt at Keston tracking us down here at Weald and making us their 'local fish shop'.

In the 10 years I worked with Gary at Keston we met hundreds of great people and made some great friends. Some customers to whom I sold their first aquarium during my opening weekend there have re-discovered us here at Weald and still come to buy fish for their original tank after 10 years!

One lady I have known for many years, Mrs Olive Painting from Beckenham, phoned me a few weeks ago asking how best to move her fish to another shop. She was finding it difficult to look after her fish and didn't want to let the aquarium deteriorate and her fish to suffer.

I asked where she was taking them and she told me that her local shop said they would take them in and put them "out the back" in the shop's quarantine section. They told her she would have to catch them all herself but she wasn't sure how to do it.

She was quite upset as she has had some of her fish for a long time and her pride and joy was a clown Loach which she has had for just over 20 years. Hearing how upset she was I said that I would send someone round to pick up all of her fish and I would pass them on to other customers' aquariums where they would be well looked after. I also said that I would take her clown Loach and put it in our 450 litre African cichlid show tank with five more large clown Loach so that she could come up and see him whenever she wished.

She was so happy she agreed straight away and we went off to pick up her fish that morning so we could start rehoming them as quickly as possible. The clown Loach is now in our show tank and seems to have settled in really well with his new friends and at 20 years old is the oldest clown Loach I have seen.

Mrs Painting has since popped in to see how he was doing and, after putting in a bit of food, he swam out to say hello. She was so happy to see him she got quite emotional and spent a good 20 minutes watching him. I don't think I have ever been thanked so much in my life. She said she would pop down again next month to see him.

It was a really nice end to my working day and shows how rewarding this job can be.

So if you're in the shop, have a look in our show tank and see if you can spot him. 

 

Mrs Painting's clown Loach in our cichlid display aquarium
Mrs Painting's clown Loach in our cichlid display aquarium

RO water and RO salt water

Blog post written by Gary | 03 February 2014 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(2369 views)

Water from domestic taps is not really the best water to use in aquariums especially marine aquariums as it contains chlorine, phosphates, nitrate  and heavy metals (lead, copper and many more) which are not ideal for fish keeping. For most coldwater and tropical freshwater fish, using a water conditioner is adequate for making the water safe for the fish.  Discus and marine fish however require water of a higher standard to keep them happy.

To achieve the best results for your fish and invertebrates and also minimise nuisance algae, RO water should be used for both top-ups and water changes in both marine and freshwater aquariums.

RO is short for reverse osmosis which as the name implies, is the opposite of natural osmosis. To purify tap water, water is forced under pressure through a semi-permeable membrane which filters out minerals, contaminants and impurities making the water ideal for marine aquariums and also for drinking.

As RO water is pure water it has an unstable pH due to all the minerals being removed. If being used in freshwater aquariums, a mineral additive such as Tropic Marin Re-Mineral Tropic should be added to the RO water to stabilise the pH and to and achieve the correct hardness of water required for the aquarium.

RO systems are available for home plumbing, but if you find this too much hassle we have both RO water and salted RO water in 25 litre and 10 litre containers available in the shop. For more information please talk to one of the Weald team.


Where have all the big fish gone?

Blog post written by Andy | 15 January 2014 | Category: Tropical fish
(1971 views)

As most of you who come into the shop know, the biggest aquarium we have set up is our 450 litre African Cichlid show tank which was filled with a fantastic assortment of large fish.

That was until recently.

Lots of customers have been asking where all of the fish have gone so I thought I would use this post to let everyone know what's happening.

We try to help customers in any way we can in the shop and one thing we do is rehome fish for people. If they outgrow the aquarium or people's circumstances change and they can't keep them anymore, we will do our best to take them in and pass them on to people who will give the fish a good home.

Not all shops offer this service as you can never guarantee the fish coming in are 100 % healthy and you have to trust the customer that they are.

Last month we acquired some fish for rehoming. We took them in and moved the larger ones to our cichlid tank whilst waiting to call certain customers we know who have tanks big enough to take them.

Unfortunately after a day the new fish became very lethargic and patchy in colour. We informed the people that were coming in to take them that we weren't happy with the way the fish looked and to leave them with us for a while. The problem very quickly spread to some of the other fish in our tank and it's then that we knew we had a serious problem. We took all the fish out to treat them and put them in quarantine whilst we treated the aquarium.

Sadly over time we lost around 40% of the original fish as well as all the newly-acquired fish.

We were all very upset as the tank looked amazing and you all seemed to love it as much as we did. I had been looking after some of those fish for several years and being as we are all fish crazy it's never nice to lose any kind of fish.

Unfortunately it seems the fish that were brought in had some type of bacterial problem. The remaining fish made a full recovery and we have since moved them into other aquariums and they are all happy in their new homes.

It just goes to show that even the experts can have problems!

So I have a blank canvas to work from again. I have started stocking the aquarium with more cichlids but I'm sticking to one family of brightly coloured fish which are incredibly interesting to watch. You can see a picture of them below showing that the re-stocked tank is coming along nicely. I would love to know what you think.

I promise the next setup will look just as good if not better than the last one!

 

Cichlid show tank
We're restocking the cichlid display aquarium. It's already looking good and it's going to look even better very soon!

Aquarium Plants Grown On Wood

Blog post written by Gary | 14 January 2014 | Category: Aquarium plants
(2235 views)

There are a number of aquarium plants which do not require a substrate (gravel or sand) to grow in, but will attach themselves to either wood, rock or anything else that is in the water. The most common plants are Java Fern, Java Moss and the Anubius family.

Both the Java Fern and Anubius grow from a thick rhizome that creeps over the wood in different directions attaching itself by roots as it grows. The Java Moss will attach itself to the wood by filaments forming an intense mass of tangled stems.

To create your own plant on wood we have in stock both Morpani wood which is an ideal platform for attaching the plants, and also the complete range of plants: Anubius, Java Fern and Java Moss. To help the plants attach themselves to the wood each plant will need to be held in place by either nylon fishing line, cotton or elastic band which can be removed once the plants have established themselves.

If the wood becomes overgrown, the plants can be trimmed back or cuttings made and then transferred to another piece of wood or rock creating a superb aquascape.

At Weald Aquatics we have a wide selection in our show aquariums of the above plants attached to various sizes of matured wood. We also have in stock Java Moss and Java Fern attached to ceramic sticks and Java Moss attached to half coconuts. Both of these plants are excellent for foreground aquascaping with the coconut especially ideal for Tetras and other small fish to swim in and out of.

 

Plants growing on wood
Plants growing on wood
Some examples of plants growing on wood in our aquariums

UV Filtration for aquariums and ponds

Blog post written by Gary | 14 November 2013 | Category: Aquarium and pond equipment
(2183 views)

It has been known for a long time that UV light of a certain wavelength has germicidal properties. The wavelength between 200nm (nanometers) and 280nm is UVC radiation and the wavelength of 254nm (or if you want to be exact 253.7nm) is the most efficient at destroying or severely disrupting most micro-organisms.

We have two types of products which use UV lamps: an aquarium sterilizer and a pond clarifier. Both have the same UV lamps but are used to solve different problems.

The aquarium sterilizer is set up to destroy many organisms including fungal spores, some bacteria, protozoans, viruses, Oodiniun and Cryptocaryonin found in marine aquariums. A UV sterilizer is usually installed in the return pipe back to the aquarium from an external filter as any dirty water or discolouration of the water will interfere with the treatment of the water.

There are many benefits in fitting a UV sterilizer to an aquarium especially a marine aquarium:

  • It reduces bacteria and pathogen levels and helps to keep Whitespot in check.
  • It helps the introduction of new fish.
  • It improves water quality.
  • It reduces the risk of any disease spreading.

A pond clarifier works in the same way as the aquarium sterilizer in using a UV lamp, however it is set up to primarily to destroy waterborne algae giving a crystal clear pond.  The pond UV unit can be installed before or after the filter or in some installations just the UV unit without a filter system, with the pond water being pumped through and back into the pond.

UV lamps should normally be replaced every 6 months (4000 hours) in an aquarium sterilizer and 12 months (8000 hours) in a pond clarifier. When changing lamps the quartz glass which protects the UV lamp should be cleaned to maintain optimum performance of the unit.

UV radiation is dangerous; never look directly at an illuminated UV lamp.

 

An example of an aquarium UV sterlizer
An example of an aquarium UV sterlizer
An example of a pond UV sterlizer
An example of a pond UV sterlizer

LEDs: The new lighting for aquariums

Blog post written by Gary | 14 November 2013 | Category: Aquarium equipment
(1962 views)

LED lighting technology has improved over the last couple of years, opening up a whole new concept in aquarium lighting for both marine and freshwater fish.

LED lighting has many benefits. Under normal use they should not need replacing for years. Also LED lighting operates at a lower temperature, therefore the aquarium will not overheat, and finally the cost of running LED lighting is significantly lower as LEDs do not consume a great amount of power. This is in contrast with metal halide lights and fluorescent lighting which can be expensive to run and can affect the temperature of the aquarium water.

Controlling LED lighting for marine and freshwater aquariums is now much easier due to the range of LEDs available and their low power consumption. Creating sunset, sunrise, daylight and moonlight phases are all possible using a real-time clock for accurate timing. Dawn to dusk and storm force simulations can encourage breeding in certain species and also help control nuisance algae in the aquarium by controlling photo periods.

Over the coming months we will be increasing our range of LED lighting to include luminaires, moonlight effect LEDs and marine lighting.

 

A couple of examples of LED aquarium lighting
A couple of examples of LED aquarium lighting

 

A couple of examples of LED aquarium lighting.

Our new marine nano show tank

Blog post written by Andy | 13 November 2013 | Category: Marine fish
(3060 views)

I have set up an impressive small 30 litre Nano tank.

The Aquael nano reef is a "plug and play" marine system. It comes with a hang-on external filter with a pump that turns over 1200 litres an hour, a 50 watt nano heater with built-in thermostat, and twin 11-watt marine bulbs (one white and one blue) that have their own switches. This allows you to simulate a night time setting by just running the blue bulb.

I have never set up a small marine system as they can be overly complicated and notoriously difficult to maintain, but I must say that so far I am really impressed.

The equipment goes together very simply and I had the tank up and running in around 20 minutes. I am really impressed with the power of the filter pump, not only for keeping the water clean but also the amount of water circulation it provides. This is important when keeping corals.

I have added a lot of "Live Rock", not only to decorate the aquariumm and provide places for the fish to hide and corals to grow, but also to act as a 'living filter' and I think this is essential for a stable marine system.

I have used salted RO water in the aquarium (which we now sell) and fitted a small external thermometer to make sure I can keep an eye on the temperature.

The tank has been running for several weeks now as it begins to mature. The water quality is incredibly stable and the aquarium is getting a 25% water change every week.

This tank is perfect for small fish, shrimps, crabs and soft corals. I have already put in a pair of small yellow gobies and an algae blenny which are all doing really well. I have begun to put in some very small pieces of coral such as Xenia, Pulse coral, Organ pipe, mushrooms and Daisy coral. They are all doing really well and spreading faster than I expected; this light unit exceeded all our expectations!

I will continue to put corals in over the next few weeks as I think a system like this is better suited to lots of small soft corals and shrimp than fish, although I may pop a couple more in.

This really is a simple set up targeted at the beginner when it comes to marine keeping. The only way I can see people going wrong is by putting too many fish in because let's face it, there are so many amazing fish to choose from. But there is always a bigger aquarium!

If you have any questions you can always send us an email or better still, come in and have a look for yourself. In about 6 months time this little tank will be a knock out!
 
See you soon.

 

Nano reef aquarium
Our small but perfectly-formed marine nano aquarium

New and unusual fish

Blog post written by Andy | 16 October 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
(2163 views)

Not everybody wants an aquarium full of Guppies and Platys, so I try as often as possible to get something different in for people to have a look at. So with that in mind, I have finally found a supplier who can get those fish that are a little unusual and will name a few we have in the shop at the moment.

 

Lamp eye fish (Aplocheichthys Normani)
Lamp eye fish (Aplocheichthys Normani)
A great shoaling species with a glowing blue "eyebrow". It's a really peaceful community species that makes a real impact in a tank with dark gravel. (Though quite difficult to take a picture of!)
Golden wonder Panchax
Golden wonder Panchax
A beautifully coloured fish that hangs on the surface of the water and occupies an area of the aquarium that rarely has any fish in it. Great in small groups and will get a decent size so not recommended with small fish.
Green phantom Pleco (L200)
Green phantom Pleco (L200)
We are slowly building our stock of the more unusual catfish and this is a classic. A stunning algae eating Panaque that almost glows on dark gravel.

 

Striped Dora / Raphael catfish
Striped Dora / Raphael catfish
You can't help but stare at these catfish as they cruise the aquarium in a mass of stripes and whiskers. They get a decent size so no small fish.
Panda Tetra
Panda Tetra
A small shoaling species with striking black and white colours. Peaceful and a mid water swimmer.
Twin banded Loach (Botia Rostrata)
Twin banded Loach (Botia Rostrata)
Fancy something different to a clown loach? There you go!

 

Other fish we've got in but not pictured are:

Blue Finned Nothobranchius
If you have a small aquarium and you want a species only or a small stand out fish you can't go much better. The males are one of the most amazing looking fish available. A pair make fantastic fish for a nano aquarium.

Pygmy Corydoras (Habrosus Cory)
Some people ask for small catfish and you cant get much smaller. Really cute sitting in a group of 4 or more.

Yellow Rainbow fish (Melanotaenia Herbertaxelrodii)
A stunning fish when fully mature. They turn from drab looking silver juveniles to bright yellow fish which cruise the middle area of your aquarium. If you love the Boesmani Rainbow then you will love these just as much.

We will happily run through more detailed information on these or any other fish in the shop so feel free to just ask.

We have more and more fish arriving every week so come and have a look for something maybe a little different.


Maintaining your pond through the winter

Blog post written by Gary | 09 October 2013 | Category: Ponds
(2040 views)

Autumn is the most important season for pond maintenance as nearly all the pond plants will start to die back. Non hardy plants should be kept in water in a heated greenhouse or conservatory over the winter, marginals should be cut back as the leaves turn brown to just above the water level and deepwater plants can be fertilised with either a liquid or tablet fertiliser ready for the spring.

If you have trees around the pond, place a net across the pond to prevent leaves entering the pond causing extra sludge and organic waste.

As the water gets colder it is best to start feeding your fish on a wheatgerm based food which is easier for the fish to digest in cooler temperatures. A pond thermometer is ideal for determining if and when to start feeding a winter feed.  In the depths of winter your fish will be inactive and therefore will not be feeding. Remove any food left in the pond after a few minutes as this will rot down and place an extra biological load on the filter system.

It is best to keep the pump and filter running through the winter to maintain a healthy pond and to stop the pond freezing over. The pump should be cleaned and checked and the filter media cleaned in pond water to retain the beneficial bacteria for breaking down the fish waste.

The UV unit can be left on to keep the suspended algae at bay. If the UV unit is turned off with no water running through then it should be removed, cleaned and dried, otherwise when the water freezes it will crack the quartz glass assembly.

To stop the water freezing over if you have turned the pump off, you can install a pond heater which will keep a small area of the pond ice free, allowing a fresh supply of oxygen to the pond and preventing the build-up of toxic gases in the pond which can stress the fish.

Winter can be stressful to the fish. By adding a pond tonic and pond salt to the  water, it will give the fish a health boost through the winter months.

 

Ember Tetras
We are feeding our fish on a summer food as the water temperature is still fairly warm, and have not cut back the marginal plants as they are still have green leaves.

An Ode to Stormin' Norman

Blog post written by Dave | 09 October 2013 | Category: General fishy ramblings
(2057 views)

We published Pistol Pete’s poem in last month’s newsletter (nice alliteration – Ed!). And this seems to have brought out the William McGonagall in our club members. Pistol Pete has now got some competition in the form of Stormin’ Norman. No prizes for Bob Fisher who penned the ode but we thought we’d continue in our poetic vein by publishing Bob’s piece here. Then you can make up your own mind.

I am a handsome torpedo barb and Norman is my name
Some people call me Stormin’, but I’m not sure who to blame
I was born and raised at Weald, a nice life? You bet
Then some bloke points his finger at me and they put me in a net

Put in a bag and bumped around ‘twas like an army sortie
But as luck would have it I ended up in a brand new Juwel 240
Life was good and cordon bleu provided on the dot
But then one day when I woke up, was covered in white spot

That big guy who looks after me had nothing in his head
So he asked that the guys at Weald for help and I was promptly put to bed
White spot and fungus treatment  was prescribed  and it tasted really rough
But a week later I was back on my fins, you see I’m pretty tough

While I was ill I read your mag and saw your competition
And surely would have entered, but for my disposition
Some other fish he wrote an ode and it wasn’t all that bad
But because I couldn't enter and it made me feel quite sad

So Gary and the new young guy and not forgetting Andy
Stormin’ Norman wants to appeal to anyone that’s handy
That new fish who wrote the ode, he seems a real go getter
But when Stormin’ Norman writes an ode I'll guarantee it’s better

(PS thanks for saving me)

 

And here is Stormin' Norman in all his glory!
And here is Stormin' Norman in all his glory!

The Ember Tetra

Blog post written by Andy | 05 September 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
(2337 views)

Believe it or not some thought does go into where I put all the fish in the shop. The reason being is that some fantastic little fish often get overlooked with so many other big fish all over the place!

One such example is a great little fish for the smaller aquarium or as a large shoal in a community tank: the Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae).

This is one of the smallest fish available for a tropical aquarium growing to a length of about 2.5cm. They are a lovely orange colour deepening to a fiery red with maturity. As with all Tetras they are a shoaling fish so the more you have the better. As they are smaller fish it is relatively important to keep them in larger numbers as the more confident they feel, the nearer the front of the tank they should swim. I tend to recommend at least 8 fish but double that would be better. The striking red colour makes a fantastic contrast to the greens of a heavily planted aquarium.

They are a very robust and peaceful fish so a community tank with other small Tetras and Rasboras is perfect. Bigger fish will look at these fish as a tasty snack so be careful with Angelfish and Gouramis (even really peaceful ones!)

They will accept a variety of foods from dried flake to frozen. I have found that they seem to brighten in colour when fed occasionally on live Daphnia every few weeks. These fish ideally prefer slightly more acidic water but we keep fish that have been bred in more neutral water so you don't have to worry about buffering your aquarium.

These are a really lovely fish to keep and make a great subject for a species only aquarium. I am going to set up a small tank on the counter with a shoal of these because I think they are a seriously overlooked fish so come in and let me know what you think.

Well, back to getting my hands wet - see you in the shop soon.

 

Ember Tetras
The Ember Tetras move about quite quickly but I managed to snap this shot in the shop.

Keeping Discus

Blog post written by Andy | 05 September 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
(3206 views)

In the past Discus have been classified as either a ‘specialist fish’ or a fish that is for ‘experienced fishkeepers’. It is not a fish that we would recommend for someone who is brand new to the hobby and who has not done their research. However, due to the fact that Discus are now more and more common to the Aquatics trade, by either captive breeding and even people being able to breed them in regular aquaria, Discus are no longer as difficult as they have been in the past. That is not to say that they do not need any special treatment, but what that does mean is that Discus are much more accessible and, in fact, hardier than they were before.

In the past it was expected that Reverse Osmosis water (the base water used in marine aquariums) and additives such as TMC Re-Mineral and Black water additives were used, and that’s still the case when keeping wild or show quality Discus. In the shop over the last 2 months we have been stocking Discus that have been bred in Thames water with the same qualities as ordinary tap water (with the use of Aquasafe). They have been raised eating Bloodworm and even flake food, so no special treatment there.

Creating a Discus biotope/habitat does require certain treatment as Discus aren’t the most confident fish and in the wild they are considered prey by many fish. When considering a tank for Discus the main things to take into account are tank size, filtration and tank mates.  The tank should not be too small, as these are a shoaling fish. For a group of 4 (smallest group that we would recommend) the tank should be a minimum of 100 litres. As water quality has to be really good, filtration is extremely important. We would recommend an external filter like the Eheim range but the larger internal filters such as large Juwel Bio filters will suffice as long as water is changed religiously. Finally, tank mates are very important. Discus aren’t the fastest feeders nor the toughest fish and they will not thrive in a tank with fast fish like Guppies, Platys, Silver Sharks etc. They are best suited to be kept with large shoals of Tetras. The Discus will see a large shoal of Tetras surviving and feel that they can also survive in the tank and be more outgoing and confident.

As for decorating the tank there are two main ways: a planted aquarium or an Amazon-esque biotope. Either will be fine but in the wild Discus live in an Amazonian biotope, which would have a sand base, low lighting some tall plants and large pieces of driftwood.

As previously stated, gone are the days of having to be looking after Discus by doing water changes every day and using R.O. water. Discus still need optimum water quality but this can be achieved by doing a weekly water change of at least 25%. Following these tips makes Discus keeping easier and fun. Any other questions please ask in the shop, as we’ll give advice on creating an effective Discus biotope and answer all your questions. If you want an update on which Discus we have in the shop or would like pictures, please head over to the Weald Aquatics Facebook page where we frequently answer questions and post pictures of new stock.

 

Discus fish in our shop aquariums
Discus fish in our shop aquariums.

Pond Plants - Deep Water Marginals

Blog post written by Gary | 05 September 2013 | Category: Ponds
(1829 views)

Pond plants are normally split into four categories: marginal, deep water, floaters and oxygenators.  In this blog we will cover the deep water plants.

The two types of aquatic pond plants which will thrive in water down to depth of 1 metre are lilies and deep water marginals, both are available in 3 litre pots.

We currently have a list of 72 varieties of water lily (Nymphaea), which are split into 4 colours (white, pink, red and yellow) of which the white variety Alba is native to the British Isles.

As mentioned previously some varieties of lilies can be planted down to a depth of 120cm which will then give a spread of 180cm or more when fully grown. The majority of lilies will have a planting depth of between 15cm and 100cm which will then give a spread of between 50cm and 120cm.

For small ponds there are dwarf and Pygmy lilies available with spreads of 30cm and small leaves which will not crowd the pond.

Deep water marginals as the name suggest are marginal plants which will thrive in pond depths down to 100cm in the same zone as water lilies. There are 6 varieties we have in stock of which 4 are native to the British Isles.

Shade is provided by the deep water marginals on the water surface by the floating leaves, helping to reduce algae. Flowers from deep water marginals are borne on the water surface or held above the water. Some are scented, some exotically fascinating, but all will bring beauty to the pond. The long underwater stems of the plants will provide excellent habitat for water insects and water snails.

Below is a list of popular lilies we keep in stock depending on availability and the season.

White
Alba
Gonnere
Albatross

Pink
Mrs. Richmond
Colarado
Marliacea Carnea

Red
Charles De Meurville
Attraction
James Brydon
Gloriosa

Yellow
Lemon Mist
Joey Tomocik
Denver

Dwarf and Pygmy
Little Sue - red
Perry’s Baby - red
Pygmaea Alba - white
Pygmaea Helvola - yellow

Here at Weald Aquatics we are “Be Plant Wise” which means we follow the Defra and OATA code in not selling invasive aquatic plants. If you would like more information on what plants are invasive to the countryside pop into the shop and pick up the leaflet Be Plant Wise.

 

Examples of four different coloured lilies: Gonnere, Marliacea Carnea, Attraction and Lemon Mist

Installing a rigid pond

Blog post written by Gary | 14 August 2013 | Category: Ponds
(2581 views)

This month our pictorial guide shows how to install a rigid pond, waterfall and filter system. The products used are the Blagdon Damselfly 750 litre rigid pond, the Bermuda Colwyn pebble cascade waterfall and the Bermuda FilterForce 6000 kit which comes complete with a pressurised filter including a UV light unit which will keep the pond both clear of water-borne algae and mechanical particles. The pond was installed by Tony a Weald Aquatics customer over a number of days.

 

Positioning the pond.
The hole is dug out to the correct depth with supports for the marginal shelves.

 

With the pond in position the hole was back filled to level the pond and to stop it from distorting.
The first filling of water to check the level.

 

The pond filled ready for the filter and waterfall.
The Bermuda FilterForce 6000 pump and UV pressurized filter.

 

Checking that the filter and pump are working.
Connecting the pump and filter to the waterfall. The Bermuda waterfall has a hidden tubing connector which allows the pipework to be concealed.

 

Waterfall and filter in position, with the pump placed in the pond.
Waterfall back filled with soil and rocks. You can see the top of the filter on the right, buried up to the clips allowing access for cleaning and the tubing has been covered.

 

The pond is nearly finished. We will revisit Tony's pond when the plants and fish have been added.

Demasoni cichild - the poor man's marine?

Blog post written by Andy | 14 August 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
(1900 views)

I haven't written a blog on cichlids for a while so I thought it was about time as we have a few really nice species that are now readily available. One in particular is an absolute stunner and can definitely live up to the tag of a poor man's marine fish. It's called the Demasoni Cichlid.

We have loads of people asking about the different types of cichlid we keep in the shop, but most of the time it's people asking about this particular one.

It's a gorgeous looking fish with a brilliant metallic blue body covered with black bars. It has thick black edges to its fins and what appears to be a black mask across its face. Another appeal of this fish is that both males and females are equally colourful.

It's a dwarf Mbuna from lake Malawi, reaching a length of between 3 and 5 inches so is a great candidate for the smaller cichlid set-up.

You'll need to provide lots of caves and hiding spaces. Large piles of white ocean rock not only provide adequate hiding places but also create a stunning contrast to the bright colours of this fish.

For its size, this has got to be one of the most aggressive cichlids out there and I have watched one chase another cichlid six times its size away from his cave! This being the case, it's always recommended to keep these either in a large group or as a single individual in an aquarium (but be careful with similar coloured fish). In the wild they are found in large groups where any aggression is diluted down and fish being picked on get almost 'lost in the crowd'. If you wanted to keep a group, I would recommend at least 10. Some people say a minimum of 12 individuals to keep everyone safe.

As with all Mbuna, a high vegetable content diet is important and as algae appears on your rocks you will often see these fish ripping off pieces greedily. Water changes are important as with all cichlids so your weekly 20-30% should be stuck to if possible.

This is without doubt one of the most attractive and interesting cichlids available. One of the best set-ups I have seen consisted of white sand, piles of white ocean rock, and about 14 Demasoni cichlids..... stunning!!

 

Demasoni cichlid
The Demasoni cichlid is a gorgeous looking fish with a brilliant metallic blue body covered with black bars

Eheim Ecco Filter Cleaning

Blog post written by Gary | 04 July 2013 | Category: Aquarium equipment
(7289 views)

Our latest pictorial guide below takes you through the whole process of cleaning the Eheim Ecco filter. The cleaning description refers to the Eheim Ecco pro200. The same cleaning schedule can be used on the Ecco pro130 and Ecco pro300. Previous models of the Eheim Ecco filter system can also be cleaned using the same cleaning schedule. The only change on the older models is that the coarse prefilter sponge is not fitted.

We have the complete range of spares available for all the Ecco range of filters at Weald Aquatics.

 

Turn off the Ecco filter at mains switch, turn off both taps and disconnect taps from filter.
Remove the filter from the aquarium and move handle from upright position to its lower setting. This action raises the filter head unit away from the filter canister.

 

Removing the head unit allows access to the main media canister.

 

Remove coarse pre filter sponge and clean (the sponge can be cleaned under tap water), and replace if in poor condition.

 

Remove main media canister and separate containers to gain access to the media. The top white fine filter should be changed or cleaned every time the filter is cleaned. The biomedia and coarse filtration media should be cleaned in a bucket of aquarium water to retain the friendly bacteria. Reassemble when cleaned and place back into filter canister.

 

 

To clean the impellor assembly, squeeze lugs together and pull away from head unit. Remove impellor assembly and clean, being careful not to lose the two rubber bushes on the ceramic shaft. Clean impellor shaft and impellor chamber and again be careful because the ceramic shaft can easily be broken.

 

Remove auto siphon cage and ball, clean and check ball is not pitted or worn away. Replace if in a poor condition as this will affect the working of the automatic siphon system.
Reassemble auto siphon cage and ball (the cage can only fit in one direction), reassemble impellor assembly and place head unit back onto the filter canister. Reconnect taps (making sure the taps are on the correct way), turn on taps and push handle back into its vertical position. This action draws in water from the aquarium, filling the filter with water. Wait until the Ecco filter is full of water then switch on filter at the mains. The filter will now be pumping water into the aquarium.

All about the Clown Loach

Blog post written by Andy | 03 July 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
(2175 views)

The Clown Loach... It's Gary's favourite Fish!
 
If there was a favourite bottom feeding fish in the hobby of fish keeping, this would be the outright winner.

The Clown Loach (Chromobotia Macracanthus) is a fresh water fish found in the inland waters in Indonesia on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

This is in my opinion not just the best looking loach available, but I think one of the best looking fish you can get for a tropical aquarium. They usually have a light orange body with black bars across it. When the fish matures the body colour deepens to a sandy orange and the fins and tail become an orange / red colour. 

These fish are often sold relatively small, usually 2", but given a big enough tank can reach lengths of almost 12" with reports of bigger in many places.

One of the most important things when keeping Clown Loaches is that they like their own company and should be kept in as large a group as you can. We tend to recommend at least three but you really should add to the group over time and in my opinion you should try and keep at least six. As I said, they can become a big fish but it does take time. We have a group in our show tank and a couple we have rescued from customers' aquariums with reported ages of 12 and 14 years old!

They prefer a smoother substrate with sand being ideal. Provide plenty of hiding places - rocks and caves or piles of bogwood are great retreats for groups of Clown Loach. You can often see orange heads or tails sticking out of ornaments when people show us pictures of their home aquarium.

Plenty of robust plants to provide shade or subdued lighting would also suit these fish as they are somewhat nocturnal but often acclimatise well to normal aquarium lighting provided you give them places to hide.

Clown Loach love a varied diet consisting of frozen food (especially blood worm) and vegetable matter like algae wafers, cucumber and blanched peas. A fat Clown Loach is a happy Clown Loach but be careful not to over feed as they will eat as much as you can throw at them!

They require good quality water, well-filtered with a decent water flow so regular water changes are important.
 
We have a great group of eight adult Clown Loach swimming around our big show tank; one look and you can see why they are such a popular fish. I think if it was up to Gary that's all we would have in there!
 
Well, back to some aquarium cleaning.

 

Marine fish
A group of Clown Loach in our show tank. Come in and see them for yourself.

The patter of tiny fins

Blog post written by Andy | 06 June 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
(1676 views)

I always say it's a healthy fish tank when fish breed in it, so its always nice when we have fish breeding in the shop.

We now have a tank of baby African cichlids (Marble Aulonocara, Orange Pseudotropheus and Blue Pseudotropheus) born in the shop.

The fascinating thing about these fish is that they are mouth brooders. The female holds the fertilised eggs in her mouth where they develop into baby fish in the safety off their mother's mouth.

In this state the females can become thin as they don't feed and are then susceptible to being picked on. By gently removing the fry we allow the females time to recover and regain their strength before going back into the main aquarium.

So we now have a tank full of tiny fish swimming around - see our picture below or, better still, come down and have a look! 

 

Baby African cichlids

The Marines are coming...honestly!!

Blog post written by Andy | 06 June 2013 | Category: Marine fish
(1580 views)

It has taken a little longer than expected but the marine systems are on their way. I know there have been a few of you coming in every week to check on our progress so thank you for your patience and support.

After a few weeks of planning and many discussions, I can happily say that Gary and I have finally drawn out our designs and sent them off to our tank manufacturers for construction so there really is no going back now.

It's been really encouraging to see how many people are genuinely excited at not only seeing all the different types of fish and corals but at the thought of keeping them as well. We have actually had a couple of customers order aquariums weeks ago, waiting for us to set them up as marine systems when our aquariums are in place - so no pressure on us then!

Keeping marine aquariums happy and healthy is a little more involved than other aquariums. They require more time and dedication if you are going to be successful but they are worth it... and then some.

Once you have seen a decent marine aquarium there really is no competition, it's the ultimate in fishkeeping.

The basic principles are the same: water changes, water testing, filter cleaning and correct equipment, but they are more in depth and the routines need to be carried out more frequently.

I could write a hundred pages on keeping marines, the various equipment and other people's opinions on how to keep them and I would still have only scratched the surface. I will write regular pieces to try and help guide you through this amazing hobby.

Jon wrote a good blog post a while ago as a basic introduction to marine keeping so feel free to have a look to get you started. 

The best thing to do is to come in and have a chat with one of us. I have been itching to get some display aquariums going since we left our old shop and as customers would travel from miles to see them, I hope you will enjoy them too.

 

Marine fish
Marine fish
You can see more of our great marine pictures on our Facebook page.

Pond Water Gone Green? Tetra Algorem will clear the pond in a few of hours

Blog post written by Gary | 06 June 2013 | Category: Ponds
(5963 views)

Here at Weald Aquatics we test the products we sell to make sure they really work. So when our pond fish units which were moved outdoors in the spring started to go green we decided to try out the products we have in stock for removing green water.

After a number of tests we found Tetra Algorem to be the most effective in removing the green water and for keeping the water clear of suspended algae for a number of weeks.

For an on-going test we are now trying Tetra Algorem in the new pond at Coolings on Rushmoor Hill. We will keep you informed of the results.

 

Tetra Algorem
Keeps your pond clear
We recommend Tetra Pond Algorem to keep your pond clear of green algae.

Ammonia and Nitrite in freshwater aquariums

Blog post written by Andy | 04 June 2013 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(1951 views)

Last month in our blog we wrote about nitrates in aquarium water. In this blog we will look at ammonia and nitrite which are eventually broken down into nitrates.

Ammonia is excreted by fish which is immediately broken down into nitrite in a matured aquarium by the bacteria in the filter system. The nitrite is then broken down into nitrates by different bacteria in the filter system.

Both ammonia and nitrite are toxic to fish even in small concentrations, so it is to best avoid having both in the aquarium.

When starting a new aquarium, levels of bacteria in the filter system will be zero and therefore unable to break down both ammonia and nitrite. In order to keep both these levels as low as possible, new fish should be added slowly along with treatments to boost the filter bacteria such as Bacterlife or API Stress Zyme.

With a matured filter system, both ammonia and nitrite will be kept at acceptable levels. However these levels will rise if the bacteria in the filter are killed by either washing all the filter media in tap water or the filter system pump stops working for a number of hours.

In the event of losing all the bacteria in the filter system, you will need to change at least 30% of the water and add a double dose of either Bacterlife or API Stress Zyme every two days for about a week until the bacteria returns to the correct levels. Also feeding the fish every two days will to help the bacteria levels return to normal concentrations.

Monitoring ammonia and nitrite concentrations is the most effective way to check that the aquarium water parameters are at ideal levels. This can be achieved using dedicated liquid ammonia and nitrite test kits. Keeping ammonia levels at 0.3mg/litre or lower and nitrite levels lower than 1mg/l will not only keep the fish in excellent condition but will also not cause any undue stress in newly introduced fish.

 

Bacterlife
API Stress Zyme
Bacterlife and API Stress Zyme will help to keep bacteria at the correct levels in your filter.

The Black Moor

Blog post written by Andy | 04 May 2013 | Category: Coldwater fish
(3493 views)

Following on from my last post I decided to do a piece on one of the most popular fancy goldfish available, the Black Moor.

The Black Moor (Carassius auratus) is a fancy breed of goldfish with a velvet black colour and those characteristic "Bulging" eyes. You know when a customer is near the Moor tank because you suddenly hear "Look at the eyes on that fish!!"

Like most fancy goldfish they can reach a length of up to 10" and have an average lifespan ranging from 6 to 20 years. They have large deep bodies and long flowing fins. When young they look like bronze fantails and their black colour and large eyes develop with age. Colours can vary from a copper colour to a metallic grey. A true Black Moor makes a fantastic contrast in a mixed fancy goldfish aquarium.

As with all fancy goldfish, due to their body shape they are not the fastest of swimmers and can be bullied when kept with normal breeds of goldfish. Normal goldfish tend to eat all the food before the Moor has had a look in so I tend to recommend them being kept with other fancy goldfish.

They don't like very fast water movement so go easy with power heads but as they are a type of goldfish you do need decent filtration. They do well in a fairly well planted aquarium and can tolerate a variety of temperatures. As with most fancy goldfish, they can suffer with swim bladder problems if just fed a floating dried food. We find giving them a combination of sinking pellets, frozen food and vegetable wafers really keeps them happy.

Black Moor are a real stand out fish in a cold water aquarium and you can see why they are so popular.

 

A true Black Moor
A true Black Moor makes a fantastic contrast in a mixed fancy goldfish aquarium

 

We also have this variant called a Panda Moor
We also have this variant called a Panda Moor. They are quite difficult to get hold of. (At the time of writing this blog, we have four in stock).

Interpet PF1, PF2, PF3 and PF4 filter cleaning

Blog post written by Gary | 04 April 2013 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(23910 views)

Our pictorial guide below takes you through the whole process of cleaning the Interpet PF1, PF2, PF3 and PF4 filters. We hope you find it useful.

 

Having removed the filter from the aquarium, push finger indents on either side of the filter body whilst pulling the pump head at the same time, this will separate the filter from the pump head.

 

 

Once the head is removed pull the foam carrier out to clean the foams and tip away any water in the body of the filter. Foams should be washed in a bucket of water containing aquarium water. The carbon foam should be replaced every 3 to 6 weeks. Both the foam and carbon foam should not be washed under tap water as this will destroy the beneficial bacteria.

 

The Bio chamber should be cleaned every 6 months. To do this grasp the bio chamber firmly and twist and pull the container from the filter head.  As with the sponges the biomedia should only be cleaned in aquarium water.

 

To gain access to the impellor, pull the cover away from the head unit.

 

Pull the impellor away from the head unit and use a soft brush to clean the impellor and impellor chamber.

 

 

To clean the aqua valve, unclip the cover from the filter body this gives you access to the aqua valve for cleaning. This should be carried out every 6 to 8 weeks. Filter should be assembled in reverse order.

Superfish Aquaflow 100/200 filter cleaning

Blog post written by Gary | 09 March 2013 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(7391 views)

Our pictorial guide below takes you through the whole process of cleaning the Superfish Aquaflow aquarium filters. We hope you find it useful.

 

With the filter removed from the aquarium, hold the pump head and push on either side of the filter cartridge and pull away from pump head in the direction of the arrow on the cartridge.

 

To clean the sponge, unclip the bottom of the cartridge and remove the sponge. The sponge should only be cleaned in water taken from the aquarium. Superfish recommend the filter cartridge be replaced every month.

 

To gain access to the impellor, remove the bottom plate from the pump head.

 

Carefully remove the impellor assembly and clean with a soft brush also clean the impellor chamber. The impellor should be cleaned every 3 to 6 months. Filter should be assembled in reverse order.

Bacterial Problems in Aquariums

Blog post written by Gary | 09 March 2013 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
(2287 views)

Bacteria can affect fish in a number of different ways in both external and internal infections. To minimise the risk of bacterial infections with existing fish, good water quality is essential. This can be achieved by regular water changes and keeping the gravel and filters clean.  Regular water changes will also help to keep algae problems to a minimum.

Internal bacteria can cause dropsy, where the fish develops a bloated appearance with scales sticking out from the fish; also fish can lose buoyancy and float upside down. Many unexplained deaths can also be due to internal bacterial problems.

With external bacterial infections, fin and tail rot and ulcers are the most common problems. The signs of fin and tail rot are ragged and split fins which, if not treated quickly, can erode both the fin and tail completely. Ulcers appear as open red sores on the body and again, if not treated quickly, can spread on the fish and to other fish in the aquarium.

External bacterial problems which are not so common are cloudy/pop eye and mouth fungus. A fish with the cloudy eye or pop eye will develop a whitish haze over the eye and/or the eye may protrude from the head.

Mouth fungus is not actually a fungal infection but caused by a common bacterium. The symptom of mouth fungus is usually white cottony tufts around the mouth, skin and fins of the fish.

There are many treatments available for bacterial infections. The two treatments we have found the most effective are the API Melafix and Pimafix for external bacterial problems, and Interpet No. 9 Anti Internal Bacteria for all internal bacteria infections.

 

A range of products are available for treating bacterial and fungal infections.
A range of products are available for treating bacterial and fungal infections.

Coldwater set-ups are about more than just goldfish!

Blog post written by Andy | 08 March 2013 | Category: Coldwater fish
(1824 views)

Lots of people come into the shop who have a coldwater set-up and assume we don't sell coldwater fish. This is because we keep a large variety of fancy goldfish and smaller shoaling fish which customers didn't realise you could keep in a coldwater tank.

If you have a coldwater set-up, don't think you are restricted to just goldfish.... oh no!!

You can get some truly amazing looking fish for a coldwater set-up, fish like Orandas, Ryukin, Lionheads and Fantails. If you want something really different then look at the "goggle eye" fish like Black Moor and Celestial "bubble eyes". We also sell a couple of types of coldwater Loach in both olive green and bright yellow; they look more like coldwater eels than loach! There are even a few that stick on the glass like the Zoolinger Loach and "Chinese Pleco" or "Torpedo fish".

If you have a smaller aquarium or just want a shoal of fish we can also help you. We have several species of fish in lots of different colours and patterns which stay small and are perfect for smaller aquariums. Zebra Danios, Pearl Danios, Gold Zebra Danios, White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Gold Minnows....I really could go on! In fact I have set up a Biorb at the shop full of small coldwater fish which customers say looks amazing.

Over the next few posts I will be highlighting some of these fish and hopefully convincing some of you out there who have a coldwater tank to try something different!!

See you soon.
Andy

 

Coldwater fish
A selection of Weald Aquatics' coldwater fish

The Hygrophila family of plants

Blog post written by Gary | 06 February 2013 | Category: Aquarium plants
(2843 views)

If you want a fast growing tall background plant for your aquarium the Hygrophila or Hygro family of plants is ideal. When fully grown they will form a dense background and will also float on the top of the water giving hiding places for small fish.

At Weald we have three varieties in stock, Hygrophila Polysperma, Hygrophila Rosea Australis and Hygrophila Guanensis. (Polysperma and Guanensis are shown in the two pictures below). All will grow to a height of about 50cm (20 inches). Both Hygrophila Polysperma and Hygrophila Rosea Australis have small broad laves with a rounded tip, the Rosea Australis having a red tinge to the leaves giving a subtle contrast between the lush green and pink/red on the leaf. On reaching the top of the water both plants will continue to grow by floating on the water.
Hygrophila Guanensis has longer leaves with a rigid stem which will allow the plant to grow out of the water.

Propagation of the Hygro family is easily made by removing the top 2 or 3 inches and replanting the cutting into the gravel. The cutting will quickly root and grow up to the top of the aquarium. As with all our potted plants it is best to remove the pots, being careful not to damage the roots. Adding a liquid fertilizer will keep your plants strong, hardy and will also promote deep colorful foliage.

 

Hygrophila Guanensis
Hygrophila Guanensis

 

Hygrophila  Polysperma
Hygrophila Polysperma

A fantastic fish - the torpedo barb Puntius Denisonii

Blog post written by Andy | 06 February 2013 | Category: Tropical fish
(3564 views)

There is a fish we keep in the shop which has become incredibly popular recently, so much so that when I order them, customers have already reserved them and picked them up before other people get a chance to even know we keep them.

I'm talking about the Denisonii or torpedo barb Puntius Denisonii.

This is an incredible looking shoaling fish from Southern India and is relatively new to the fish keeping hobby. It is an amazing looking fish that grows to a maximum size of around 6" and has a lifespan of between 6 and 8 years. It has a very streamlined body (hence the name "Torpedo Barb") covered in silver scales with a bright red line starting on the tip of the nose, through the eye and ending midway down the body. Below this is a dark line that runs the length of the fish, the tail develops yellow tips and a bright red dorsal fin.

 

Torpedo Barb
They move about quickly. It took us a long time to get a photo of one that was fairly still!

 

They are found in shoals in fast flowing rivers and in rocky pools with thick vegetation growing around.

It has been reported recently that this fish has been heavily exported from India and in a bid to re-establish natural numbers, the number of fish exported will be monitored closely. Captive breeding programmes are now being started to help re-establish these fantastic fish.

As they get to a decent size and need to be kept in groups, the bigger the fish tank the better. I would say the minimum would be 3 foot long but with a view to a bigger tank eventually. Good filtration is essential not only for the water quality but also to replicate the water movement found in their natural home. Planting up the back of your aquarium will encourage these fish to stay towards the front and offer hiding places should they become spooked. They do well in a community tank but I have come across a couple of customers who have said one has become aggressive to long finned fish, being a barb this is in their nature so I would always keep them with short finned fish. They do well on a mixed diet of dried foods, frozen bloodworm, brine shrimp and vegetable pellets or wafers. We have found a varied diet brings out the colours of the fish more quickly.

These really are a fantastic looking fish. One customer has a shoal of around 12 in his 5 foot tank with some clown loach going along the bottom, lots of tall Vallis growing along the back with lots pieces of bog stacked around. It’s one of the best aquariums I have ever seen.

If you want a stunning group of show fish for your aquarium with bright colours that gets to a decent size... Jackpot!! 


In focus - external aquarium filters

Blog post written by Andy | 10 January 2013 | Category: Aquarium equipment
(1750 views)

The ultimate goal when keeping an aquarium is that it's clean, looks good and the fish are healthy. Probably the most important piece of equipment in your set up to achieve this is your filter, and in my opinion the best types of filters are external.
 
External filters are just that - filters which sit outside of your aquarium, draw in dirty water from your tank through an inlet pipe, pump it through lots of types of media and pump the cleaned water back via a spray bar or outlet nozzle. These filters work on the same principles as internal filters but on a much larger scale.

Instead of having a couple of sponges to do your biological and mechanical filtration, external filters have larger capacities to hold more media to keep large or heavily stocked aquariums visibly and chemically clean. You're going from a unit that holds a few sponges to in effect a 'bucketful' of different types of media in individual compartments. You can also tailor the types of media in your filter depending on your set up. Some fish like soft water so you can add a softening pillow to one basket. If you have large messy fish you can add more mechanical media. Got nitrite problems? Then you can add more biological media. They are incredibly versatile to suit almost any problem. Being that much larger also means less maintenance as they don't need cleaning as frequently, a massive bonus for all you busy fishkeepers out there!

Another great advantage is that the main unit sits outside the aquarium so you don't lose swimming space and your equipment is hidden. Having an external filter also allows you to add other pieces of equipment onto a system using the pumping power of the filter. UV sterilisers, in-line heaters and surface skimmers can all be fitted to run in-line with the filter for optimum water quality.

External filters come in all shapes and sizes to suit any set up and budget. Smaller units filter aquariums of 20 litres up to our larger units which can filter tanks of up to 600 litres (I have one of those.... amazing!!).

We have a wide range available in the shop which we will happily run through with you. We are in fact currently running two external filters on our big show tank so you can see them in action!

 

This is the new Nexx filter. We have one of these as well as an Ecco Pro 200 running on our big cichlid show tank.
The Ecco Pro 300 is an external aquarium filter suitable for aquariums up to 300 litres.

Cryptocoryne Plants

Blog post written by Gary | 06 December 2012 | Category: Aquarium plants
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The Cryptocoryne family of plants (also known as Crypts, because it's a bit easier to say) is ideal for fore and mid-ground planting in your aquarium as they grow to a height between 2.5cm and 30cm.

At Weald we normally have six varieties of Cryptocoryne plants. Nevillii, Bullosa and Petchii are ideal for foreground planting and Undulatus Kasselman, Wendtii and Undulatus Green great for mid-ground plants.

Generally the Cryptocoryne plants are potted, so to allow the roots to spread it is best to remove the plastic pot and some of the rockwall from the plant at the same time being careful not to damage the root structure.

To get the best from your Crypts it is a good idea to add a fertiliser tablet to the roots as once planted the Crypts should not be moved as they have a large root system that should not be disturbed.

Over a period of time the Cryptocorynes will spread giving a dense blanket of green foliage.

 

Cryptocorynes
Here you can see Cryptocorynes in the foreground of our display aquarium

It's important to keep your gravel clean

Blog post written by Andy | 06 December 2012 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
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Cleaning the substrate is one of the most important parts when maintaining a healthy aquarium.

Gravel not only provides a natural habitat for your fish, a rooting substrate for plants, makes a tank more aesthetically pleasing, but also provides an extra layer of biological and mechanical filtration in your fish tank.

Not only does the gravel catch waste, but beneficial bacteria colonise the gravel and break down fish waste and harmful biological products into less toxic substances. However this waste can only be broken down so far and if left in the aquarium can rot causing the build up of harmful elements. This can lead to water quality problems, fish health issues and algae blooms.

Gravel generally needs a decent clean once a month, but I would also recommend before your weekly water change, just to turn the gravel with your fingers. This allows you to syphon out any dirt particles that float up and also helps prevent algae growing over the top of your gravel.

We stock a great selection of air-driven, battery-operated, gravity-fed and mains-powered gravel cleaners for the smallest up to the largest fish tanks. Some will allow you to do a water change at the same time as cleaning your gravel whilst others recycle water allowing you to use them for longer periods of time.

Gravel cleaning should always be part of your general maintenance and once you're into a routine, should take you no time at all and benefit your fish and plants greatly.

 

Gravel cleaners
We stock a range of gravel cleaners - mains-operated, battery-operated and syphon action

Setting up a Marine Tank

Blog post written by Jon | 07 November 2012 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
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Due to Andy's paternity leave (big Congrats to Andy & Amy!) I have been asked to fill in for this month's blog. I have recently set up a marine aquarium and it seems that lately more and more customers have been asking us about how to set them up - the costs, the maintenance and whether we will be stocking marine fish. I will focus this blog around these questions.

Now to get the easy bit out of the way - yes we will be stocking marine fish and the current plan is that in the new year we will change around the shop a bit (you're probably asking "again?!" but it's only a small change around!) - the pond fish will go outside and will give us the room for two marine banks.

Now then, how to set up a marine tank...

The equipment needed:

Tank

Prices vary with size - anywhere from £70 to £1000

We recommend the bigger the better, however, that is not to say small reefs don't work - all you have to do is search for Nano Reef and you'll see that many people have small reef tanks. My set up is 220 litres which is more than enough (I would suggest 100 litres minimum).

Filter

Prices vary with size - £64.99 to £169 for an external at the minimum size

Again the bigger the better. With marine fish the water quality is vital. Most of our customers tend to do a 20% water change weekly if they keep corals and 25% fortnightly if it is just fish. The filter is the most important part of the fish tank in my opinion, since it is the one bit of equipment which will look after the fish for you and maintain the water quality it is definitely worth investing in a good one (on our Facebook page I recently reviewed the Superfish Aqua-Pro range which is my personal favourite).

Heater

£20 to £35

1W of power for every litre of water in the tank.

Protein Skimmer

£65.99 (Nano) to £199 (for a 500 litre tank)

A protein skimmer is the only bit of equipment that is not needed in a tropical/coldwater tank. Its job in a marine tank is to take out organic proteins by turning them into foam before they break down into nitrogenous waste. The reason a protein skimmer is required is that most marine fish are sensitive to nitrates so extra precautions are needed.

Lights

£30 to £200 (entire light unit)

For a fish only marine tank you just need marine bulbs that you can get to fit into the majority of fish tank light units (Juwel, Arcadia etc.). If you want to keep Corals then it is advised to get high intensity lighting so T5 lighting should be the minimum.

Hydrometer

£14.15

A hydrometers will show you how much salt is in the water and the specific gravity of the water. They are simple to use and all you need to do is fill it with water make sure you have a specific gravity of around 1.021 to 1.024.

R.O. Water (reverse-osmosis)

£3 per 25 litres

In order to keep marine fish, ordinary tap water is not really suitable, it is best to use R.O. water which is water in a very pure form.

Salt

£14.99 to £45.59 depending on size

In the shop we sell Tropic Marin Pro Reef salt as we find it has all the essential elements needed to keep marine fish and corals.

Coral Sand

£4.99 for 5kg

This is a substrate that will be found naturally under the sea or around certain tropical beaches. It helps buffer the water to the right pH level and also is highly porous for filtering bacteria to live in.

 

Other recommended equipment:

  • Power heads to replicate the flow of the ocean. Through our experience any corals in a tank with a power head really do thrive.
  • Test kits

The most difficult aspect of setting up the marine tank was the learning curve at the beginning. However, after a few months you learn all the basics and it starts to become second nature. As long as you do your research and keep up regularly scheduled maintenance of the tank then it isn't as hard as people say. I spend about an hour a week maintaining my tank, which includes: doing a water change, wiping off algae, checking fish health, changing any filter media and feeding the fish.

In my tank I currently have - Blue-Hermit crabs, Clown Fish (Nemos!), Yellow-tailed Damsels (A fantastic shoaling fish - think Neon Tetras of the ocean), Green Coral Gobies and a Vagabond Butterfly. All the fish are from the supplier we get our tropical fish from (if you want any marine fish we can do a special order).

 

Jon's marine tank

 

There is a video of my aquarium on the Weald Aquatics Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151077181267676.

If you have any questions Andy and I run the Facebook page so just send us a message on there or pop in to the store and we'll be more than happy to answer your questions!


How we select our aquarium fish

Blog post written by Andy | 04 October 2012 | Category: In the shop
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Now we have launched our permanent discount for all Weald Aquatics club members on fish (if you're not a club member...why not?!) I thought I would give you a brief rundown on the types of fish we keep at the shop so you can start using your discount!

The majority of fish we keep at Weald Aquatics are known as community fish. This is quite a general term but it basically means these are fish that are very peaceful and won't cause any problems mixing with other fish. Some of the most common community fish families we keep are:

  • Tetras, such as Neons, Glowlight, Penguin and Cardinals.
  • Live bearers which include Guppies, Platys, Mollies and Swordtails.
  • Gouramis, like the gold, powder blue and flame red, down to the small honey and chocolate.
  • Catfish and Loach such as Clown Loach and coryadoras, to the big "Sucker mouths" like Plecostomus and Pekoltia.
  • Rainbow fish, including Boesmani, Turquoise, Neon Dwarf and Threadfin.
  • Rasboras, which include Halequin, Scissortail and clown.

 

 

We have a huge selection of all of these types of fish which will suit any size fish tank, are relatively undemanding and won't break the bank. If you want a shoal of fish, look at Tetras or Rasboras. If you want a splash of colour or a big 'show' fish then Gouramis and Rainbow fish are great families to look at. If you fancy breeding your own fish, live bearers like Guppies and Mollies are really easy!

We also do a wide selection of non community fish. These are fish that have special requirements or do not always socialise with other fish. Most of these fish come under the large family known as Cichlids and as a lot of you know these are my favourite types of fish. Now, I'm not saying all Cichlids should be crossed off the community tank shopping list!! Some dwarf Cichlids like Ramirezi and the Apistogramma Cichlids are amazing looking fish that stay small and socialise with other fish - they just need a little more attention when it comes to feeding and don't like 'busy' tanks. One of the most popular fish in the fish keeping trade is, in fact, a cichlid - the Angelfish - so don't be put off keeping them, just think about your other tank mates. Most Cichlids tend to get big (so will eat small fish!) and when in breeding condition can become aggressive. But if kept in the right aquarium they make fantastic fish to keep. Our most popular Cichlids are Oscars, Firemouths, Juwel Cichlids, Acaras, Jack Dempsys and Texas Cichlids. We also keep a wide selection of 'Rift Cichlids' like Freyeri, Blue Zebra, Frontosa and loads of Aulonocara.

We also keep a few 'odd balls' for those who want something different. Reedfish, Dwarf frogs, Red claw crabs, Elephant Nose, Parrot fish...I could go on! We try to cater for everyone. We will always try to guide you on the requirements of any fish you look at in the shop and are only too happy to answer any questions you may have.

We also use a wide range of suppliers and as we can't stock everything at once, will happily try to source anything you're after...just let me know.

STOP PRESS!

As we regularly do specific customer orders, we are now in a position to order marine fish and invertebrates for people to collect. This has proven so popular that I think it's convinced the boss to invest in a new marine section! I will keep you all posted on 'Operation Nemo!' and let you all know what's happening!

Now, let's see people using that discount! See you all soon!
Andy


How to re-pot your pond plants

Blog post written by Gary | 09 September 2012 | Category: Ponds
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Hopefully your pond plants will have kept healthy and grown vigorously over the summer. The only problem is that they might have outgrown their pots. If so, this is a good time of year to pull them out of the pond and re-pot them to give them the best chance of flourishing. Here's our quick guide on what you need to do as well as the equipment you will need to do this.

 

1. Firstly, carefully lift the plants out of the pond being careful not to let any of the soil fall into the water. Gently knock out the pot with all of the surrounding soil. You will need to get a larger pot or plant basket. These come in a wide range of shapes and sizes.
2. Place a hessian square in the bottom of the basket. We stock hessian that cut easily be cut to size.

 

3. Add some aquatic soil to the pot. Aquatic soil is specially formulated for use in ponds. You shouldn't use ordinary garden compost.
4. Then put the plant and its surrounding soil into the basket adding more aquatic soil around the plant as necessary. When you have compacted the soil around your plant, cover with a layer of pea gravel. This helps to keep the soil from spilling over into the pond as well as preventing wildlife from uprooting your valuable plants.

 

5. Finally use an aquatic feed to give your plant the nourishment it needs to flourish and grow.

Weald's new cichlid display aquarium (Part 2)

Blog post written by Andy | 06 September 2012 | Category: In the shop
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It has taken me a little longer than I thought to put up the second post about the new show tank but it's because we have been really busy so I can only apologise!

In my last post I explained all of the equipment I was using and the general set up, now comes the fun bit... the water and fish.

 

 

Once the tank was filled I used Aquasafe to dechlorinate the water (you should all be familiar with this I hope!) and a double dose of Bacterlife to speed up the maturation process of the filter. As the fish I was going to be putting in were a touch on the big side, it was very important to "seed" the filter as best as possible to try and avoid any water quality issues. I will be adding Bacterlife on a regular basis throughout the early stages of the set up to maintain good water quality. Finally it was a matter of waiting 24 hours to make sure everything was working and the water was at the correct temperature.

So why Cichlids?

We wanted a set up with real impact as you walk into the shop with big fish and lots of colour. As I keep these fish at home the choice was easy. These fish are known as African Rift Cichlids, more specifically from Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is the southernmost lake in the African lake system and the eighth largest in the world. It is found between Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania and resembles more of an inland sea than a lake. It is also believed to be the home of more types of fish than any other freshwater lake in the world with a reported 1000 types of cichlid! The Lake is around 560km long and 75km wide at the widest points. This gives a rough surface area of 30,000 square kilometers! It has a variety of environments within it, the rocky shoreline, the sandy beds and the large expanses of open water. These environments are home to very different types of fish with different behaviours and requirements so it's important to think about which types of fish you will be keeping. Some of these fish would never come into contact with each other in the wild so it is not usually advisable to mix them unless you have a large aquarium.

These fish are generally split into 2 groups by hobbyists, Mbuna and Peacocks. Mbuna means rock dweller and these fish are found along the very clear waters of the shore. There are lots of rocks and caves where these fish make and defend territories for spawning. They are often found grazing on the rocks feeding on the algae and microscopic creatures within. These fish are aggressive so it's important to provide lots of holes and caves for weaker fish to retreat to. One way to limit aggression is to almost over stock an aquarium so the aggression is diluted but this does need very good filtration so external filters are almost essential. Having a large aquarium so they can all find a territory will also help, so as I always say the bigger the better!

Peacocks are usually found in the more open waters of the lake and unless in a big tank do not do well against the more aggressive Mbuna. They need an open aquarium with a sand base and plenty of swimming space. The colours of some of these fish are amazing as you will see in our show tank.

I have mostly stocked the tank with Mbuna and provided a few caves for smaller fish to hide in. I have used high output T5 lights to replicate the bright sunlight penetrating the clear waters of the lake.

Common names of fish in our display tank include Red Zebras, Blue Dolphins, Marmalade/Blotched Zebras, Yellow 'Labs', Blue Zebras, Red Peacocks and Bumblebee Cichlids. Both the grazers and predatory fish are being fed on a variety of dedicated cichlid pellets containing both vegetable matter and crustaceans.

The fish I just mentioned are only a few of what we have on show, so please come and have a look and tell me what you think. I hope you like it! I love these kind of fish with their fascinating behaviour and amazing colours. I really could talk about them for hours... but I won't!


How to clean a Juwel filter

Blog post written by Andy | 01 August 2012 | Category: Aquarium maintenance
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In the feedback our customers have given us from our monthly club email, one of the things we have been asked to do is to provide more hands-on information and articles about how to do things relating to your pond or aquarium. So this is the first of what we hope will become a regular feature of our blog.

 

1. Here we have our aquarium ready to be cleaned. The first step is to unplug the lighting, heater and filter pump.
2. Carefully remove the hood, being careful not to spill any water on any electrical plugs or sockets.

 

3. In the Juwel range of aquariums, all of the filter equipment is located in the black box in the corner.
4. Remove the top of the filter cover to gain access to the pump and media sections.

 

5. All of the filter media is kept in plastic sleeves to allow you easy access to whichever section needs cleaning.
6. Grasping the plastic handles on the sleeve, gently slide the sleeve upwards lifting the filter media with it.

 

7. Remove the appropriate sponge that needs cleaning / replacing. We are going to clean the top white polishing pad.
8. Clean / replace the sponge if necessary. As we are cleaning the top polishing filter we can clean it under tap water. Different sponges and media need replacing and cleaning differently depending on their function. If you need more information or you're just not sure, give us a call or come visit us in the shop.

 

9. Replace the cleaned or new filter sponge back into its correct place in the filter basket and slide back down into place.
10. To remove the pump you must first remove the outlet / flow director.

 

11. The pump again has two small handles to grip to allow easy removal.
12. Pulling gently upwards, remove the pump from the filter housing.

 

13. The pump itself comes apart to allow access to clean the impellor. Gently slide the base of the pump off. This can sometimes be tight, especially if you have never done it before.
14. Inside the centre of the pump you will see the impellor which sits on a metal spindle.

 

15. Gently remove the impellor.
16. Clean the magnet section with a fine brush to remove any dirt and clean the impellor blades in the same way.

 

17. Wash the other section of the pump and clean the metal spindle with the brush and clean tap water.
18. Reassemble the pump and place back into the filter box. Reattach the outlet pipe and filter cover. Plug your equipment back in and replace the hood. We use Juwel cleaning brushes to clean all our filters. They are available to purchase in store.

 

19. For the older style pump fittings, the socket is twisted 180 degrees anti-clockwise.
20. The socket can then be pulled away from the pump housing.

 

21. Slide the base of the pump off, this then reveals the impellor.
22. Gently remove the impellor for cleaning.

 

23. Re-assemble the pump in reverse.
24. The new Juwel Ecco pumps have the same socket as the Juwel Bioflow pumps.

 

25. To gain access to the impellor, the socket is twisted 45 degrees anti-clockwise and then pulled away from the pump housing.
26. The impellor including the shaft and rubber bush can be removed for cleaning.

 

I hope you found that useful and we'll be providing more of this sort of thing in future blogs.

See you all soon.

Andy.


Weald's new cichlid display aquarium

Blog post written by Andy | 03 July 2012 | Category: In the shop
(3413 views)

Hey everybody.

I thought I would do a special blog this month on our new show tank I am putting together in the shop as it has caused so much interest!

For what seems like years I have been pestering Gary for a decent size show tank to showcase African cichlids...and all that moaning has finally paid off! Gary has given me a blank cheque and hopefully I won't disappoint.

I keep these fish at home, so does my partner in crime Jon (he actually has 5 aquariums on my last count!). Although we stock a selection of Cichlids at the shop and Jon and I are always recommending them to customers, people still don't see how amazing a properly maintained and stocked African cichlid aquarium can be. Hopefully when people see my new show tank it will help!

I have chosen a Juwel Rio 400 with a volume of 450 litres as I wanted something with a real "Wow" factor, something to allow me to show how big and impressive these fish can be, but more importantly, an aquarium I know to have good filtration and reliable equipment. We have been selling Juwel aquariums for years as we are really impressed with the quality and reliability or the range. As I've mentioned, I have a Juwel aquarium, Jon has his 2 main display aquariums as Juwel and even Gary's son has a 125 litre Juwel aquarium at home. They offer great value for money and come with all the equipment you need to keep tropical fish with Filter media, pump, heater and lighting all hidden away in a box in the corner. The Juwel filter has several different types of filter sponges inside to cover the complete cleaning spectrum. From carbon pads for chemical filtration, white polishing pads for small particles of dirt, Nitrate and Phosphate absorbing sponges for algae prevention to complex biological media for efficient breakdown of harmful waste products such as Ammonia and Nitrite. They are all kept in easy to remove baskets for quick and easy filter maintenance.

As I will explain in the second part of this blog, the show tank will be heavily stocked and as these fish get large, I will be fitting an external filter on the aquarium as well. An external filter is exactly that; a filter that sits outside the aquarium and pumps water through a huge selection of media and the clean water travels through pipe-work back into your tank. The advantages of these filters are firstly that all of the equipment is outside the aquarium leaving more room for livestock, and secondly, the sheer amount of filter media and subsequent volume and surface area means much more efficient biological filtration which is a real must for larger cichlid set ups.

We are going to use a new type of filter made by API called the NEXX, a new style of external filter designed  to make filter maintenance quicker and easier than ever before! We viewed this filter being cleaned at a recent fish show and it was cleaned in 4 minutes without a single drop of water being spilt! We were blown away by how simple it was to use. A simple twist of a handle isolates the filter section allowing you to disconnect it from the main filter body and carry it where ever it needs to go to be cleaned. The pump continues to work, keeping the water constantly moving and oxygenated and the filter unit simply clips back on to continue cleaning. Another unique feature is the fact you can "bolt on" more filter sections to improve cleaning or to keep a larger volume of water clean. The addition of these extensions also increases the efficiency of the pump and actually improves its output! I didn't believe this so one of the manufacturers came down with a load of testing equipment and I'm happy to say proved me wrong! I will be happy to show customers the filter working on our show tank so please feel free to ask me any questions.

Trying to replicate the fishes' natural environment as close as possible, I have fitted some Juwel white rock effect backing to the inside aquarium using Juwel silicone. I have also covered the filter for continuity. I think it looks amazing - I have it at home - and I know you (and the fish!) will like it as well. Having a backing gives a greater sense of depth and creates a more natural looking environment, and as algae starts to grow on it many fish will start to graze on it. A specific family of cichlids known as Mbuna are renowned algae grazers and are naturally found in rocky areas of the lake eating algae from rocks.

 

Here I am fitting the Juwel white rock effect backing to the show aquarium.

 

I will use sand and white rock to aquascape the aquarium and I will go into detail with the "hows" and "whys" in my next blog.

The final piece of equipment will be an internal digital thermometer for more accurate temperature readings and to make sure the heater is working.

It's a lot of hard work but definitely a labour of love and it's great seeing how much interest it's generating. If you haven't seen it so far come and have a look and tell me what you think and I will be happy to answer any questions you have.

In my next blog I will be running through the maturing process of the aquarium, the aquascaping and lighting set up, and finally give a brief rundown of the fish, their habitat and behaviour and a selection of what's going in there!

Well, back to it...
See you all soon.

Andy.


Rummy nose Tetra (Hemmigrammus rhodostomus)

Blog post written by Andy | 08 June 2012 | Category: Tropical fish
(2413 views)

I hope everyone enjoyed the extended Bank holiday weekend (all of you out there who were working as well - I salute you comrades!) and made the most of what little sunny weather we had.

As the weather has been pretty rubbish and people haven't been out and about much, we are finding more and more customers playing around with their fish tanks and a big thank you to everyone who has brought us in a photograph to stick on our wall, but there is still loads of room so please feel free to bring one in if you haven't!
 
I thought for this month I would give you a break from Cichlids and talk to you about a really great but sometimes overlooked fish, the Rummy nose Tetra.
 
The Rummy nose Tetra (Hemmigrammus rhodostomus) is a member of the Characin family and native to South America. It is one of several very similar looking fish available in the hobby (Hemmigrammus bleheri and Petitella georgiea) but this is the one most commonly found for sale.

The Rummy nose Tetra is a fantastic looking fish that generally reaches about 2". They have a silver body with a hint of green running through when they become mature. They have almost translucent fins and an amazing looking tail consisting of several black and white horizontal stripes. The main area of colour, as the name suggests, is on the head and running just past the gill covers, and is a bright, rich red colour.

Rummy nose Tetra are a typical shoaling fish which need to be in as large a group as possible. We tend to recommend at the very least 4 but a shoal of 6-12 fish will be much happier. They will also give a much greater impact visually as they shoal really tightly at times and a large group of "bright red heads" looks amazing.

They are not a very demanding fish to keep as long as water quality is maintained regularly and they are not mixed with boisterous tank mates. They are a very peaceful fish so ideal for a mixed community aquarium with a Ph of around 6.4 to 7 ideally.

They like a large amount of swimming space so a fish tank of around 100 litres or bigger is preferred. Some areas of dense vegetation such as cabomba or ambullia towards the back of the tank will make these fish feel secure and encourage them to swim out in the open.

Feeding is not really a problem and these fish will accept a variety of dried food but, as with all fish, they will benefit from a change in diet from time to time. The addition of live or frozen food twice a week will keep these fish in perfect condition and keep that red colour bright.

They are a relatively long-lived fish with an average age of between 4-6 years but on occasion they have reached 8 or 9.

Rummy nose Tetra are a great fish to keep - undemanding, colourful and very peaceful. They pretty much tick all of your fish boxes and I recommend them highly!

If you have any questions on anything "fishy" please don't hesitate to contact us through our website or pop into the shop and we'll do our best to help!

See you soon!!

 

Rummy nose Tetra in our aquariums
Rummy nose Tetra in our aquariums

The Oscar (Astronotus Ocellatus)

Blog post written by Andy | 04 April 2012 | Category: Tropical fish
(1995 views)

Hey everybody. It's been great receiving all your positive feedback regarding my last post and it's great seeing so many people interested in keeping Cichlids. I didn't realise how many people kept them already so it's been really interesting hearing peoples' experiences and advice on keeping this fascinating group of fish.

I thought I would start with possibly one of the most popular of all Cichlids... the Oscar!

 

 

I would probably say 7 or 8 out of 10 customers will always ask "I would like that big red and black fish down there please. Oh will it go in with my Guppies?" The answer unfortunately is no! They are such a popular fish that we will ask anybody who enquires about them what they are planning to keep with them, and for good reason - Oscars get big and eat fish!!

The Oscar (Astronotus Ocellatus) is a Cichlid native to South America. It is found in Peru, Ecuador, Columbia and Brazil and occurs in the Amazon river basin. Its preferred habitat is slow moving white water with vegetation it can hide in.

Oscars now come in a variety of colours from black and red to pink albinos, red tiger stripes on a black body or a rich copper colour surrounded by dark black fins. They are stunning looking fish with those big eyes and mouths (with almost a slight grin to it).

An adult Oscar can reach a length of 18" and weigh almost 4lbs wherein lies its biggest attraction but also its biggest downfall. An Oscar will outgrow the majority of peoples' fish tanks and can only be kept with large sturdy fish. I usually describe Oscars as mouths with a tail on the end!

Oscars are voracious feeders and will try to eat almost anything they can fit in their mouths. We have had hundreds of horror stories of customers who have bought these fish elsewhere and not been told of their predatory nature, putting them in a community aquarium only to watch their favourite Guppies and Tetras vanish one by one as the Oscars tummy gets bigger and bigger! They do well on a mixed diet of frozen foods and Cichlid pellets but will eat almost anything. Some customers feed adult Oscars frozen mice! Due to their size and diet, an Oscar's home needs to be as big as possible with really good filtration. I think a 3 foot aquarium is the very minimum for a juvenile with the adult moving into ideally a 4 foot tank or bigger. An external filter again in my opinion is essential because Oscars are a messy fish. Regular water changes are important to remove excess nitrates and prevent the build up of problem pollutants that can occur with such a greedy fish. Large Catfish or similar sized Barbs or Cichlids are suitable tank mates but I think they do better in a single species tank.

Oscars like to dig so using larger cobbles or gravel can help prevent this. An Oscar tank can be fairly minimal and decoration with some large rocks (rounded preferably and too heavy to move) or large roots to provide shelter is really all they need as swimming space is more important. Lighting again is not that important but a more subtle light would suit them better. It's is also worth mentioning that heaters have been picked up and broken by an adult Oscar so getting a heater guard is a good idea (most come with them nowadays anyway) to avoid any injuries or the outlay for a new heater.

These fish can live for years and years and develop real personalities - I think an Oscar is the closest you can come to a fish that actually recognises its owner. Customers tell me about hand feeding them and calling their name and having the fish swim towards them. One customer has a 12 year old Oscar that curls around his hand and almost "falls asleep" when he puts his hand in to clean the aquarium! It was in fact an Oscar that got me on my road to fish keeping. My mum (hi mum!) used to take me to my local pet shop when I was tiny, she said I used to sit and watch completely silently as the owner fed the "big fish" in the show tank which would come to the top as he called its name. From then on my mum said I wanted to become a "fish man." My first Saturday job was in that fish section and the rest is history!

Oscars are really fascinating and rewarding fish to keep as long as you have the room and equipment to keep them healthy. It's worth it though because an adult Oscar in a big tank is the focal point of any room! If you want to keep big fish, you really cant go wrong!


I love Cichlids!

Blog post written by Andy | 01 March 2012 | Category: Tropical fish
(2184 views)

Hey again everybody. I know its been a while but we have been busy... honest!

It's been great seeing how popular our new banks of aquariums have been and I have been busily stocking them to the point of bursting.

In my last post I mentioned how we were expanding our range of tetras and more relevant for this post and me personally...Cichlids!

We keep a wide range of Cichlids in store, from the peaceful dwarf species such as Rams and Apistogrammas, to large central and Southern American species like Oscars, Firemouths and Acaras.

You can see just a few of them in the video below.

 

 

We also now have a dedicated bank of Rift Valley cichlids (which I keep at home as well but I will bore you with that another time).

Cichlids are a great family of fish with real personalities. Most are incredibly long lived and resistant to illness, many will also tolerate various and fluctuating water quality (that's no excuse to let your water changes slide people!).

Cichlids have a reputation of getting big, being aggressive and eating, well, pretty much everything! And yes some of them are all of the above unless you keep them with the right tank mates. However there are some gorgeous dwarf species that are really peaceful and are a great show fish for a community aquarium. Angelfish are another type of cichlid which can often be kept in a mixed aquarium, and although they can be temperamental, they look fantastic when they get bigger.

For those of you who think bigger is better, cichlids are for you! The Oscar is one of the most popular fish I know of and although they can grow to 12" and are basically a mouth with a tail on the end, they're a fascinating fish with all sorts of personalities and quirks. I have several customers who feed their Oscars by hand and one gentleman who says his wife goes to feed the fish only for the Oscar to hide at the back of the tank until she has gone, and will only come out when he feeds it himself. His wife thinks the fish has a crush on her husband!

The African Cichlids are in my opinion as close to marine fish as you can get. A properly stocked and maintained aquarium with these fish in can be absolutely jaw dropping. I have shown several customers pictures of my tank who were intent on giving up the hobby only to have them start again with cichlids... two of them now have bigger tanks than me!!

Over the next few months I will be highlighting many of this diverse family of fish and hopefully encouraging many of you to join me in keeping them.

See you in the shop soon!

Andy 


Firemouth Cichlid (Thoricthys Meeki)

Blog post written by Andy | 02 February 2012 | Category: Tropical fish
(3306 views)

Well it's that time again!

I hope everyone is enjoying the typical English weather we are having at the moment but what can you do?!

Continuing on our Cichlid road trip we are looking at Central America again and another firm favourite - Thoricthys Meeki or The Firemouth Cichlid.

The Firemouth Cichlid is a really popular fish for a number of reasons, it grows to a reasonable size, looks amazing when mature, is one of the easiest Cichlids to breed and can also be kept with other fish and on some occasions (although I wouldn't recommend it) in a community aquarium.

This Cichlid is native to Central America and occurs in slow moving rivers throughout the Yucatan Peninsular, Mexico then south through Belize and finally Guatemala. They occur in river systems with a pH range of between 6.5-8 and a temperature range of 23-30 Celsius (75-86 Fahrenheit).

They are pretty unattractive juveniles but when they begin to mature they transform into amazing looking fish. They develop a blue sheen to the top of the body with an amazingly vivid red throat spreading towards the back of the body with a main black spot in the centre. I'm really not doing this fish justice and if you have time you should look up some images of mature male fish to see how amazing they look.

The males which display the most colour grow to around 15cm (6 inches) with females staying slightly smaller. These aren't a small fish so require an aquarium as big as possible. I tend to recommend at least 3 foot (100 litres) but bigger is better. If you are planning to keep a pair, when the male becomes mature they often become aggressive towards other tank mates which can occasionally lead to fatalities of the weaker fish. They are egg layers and incredibly protective of their eggs which they lay on flat stones or submerged pieces of wood. The male will defend the eggs and territory vigorously whilst the females tend to be more involved in raising the fry.

These fish enjoy a varied diet with plenty of frozen food to keep them in top condition and keep the red colours intense.

They like a planted aquarium with caves and rocks or scattered pieces of bogwood which they will guard as their own and as with most Cichlids, good efficient filtration is essential as they can be a messy fish. The usual weekly water change applies to keep up with the waste products these big fish produce.

Some people have kept these in community aquariums but I would always recommend keeping these with similar sized or bigger fish because of their boisterous nature.

These fish are not a difficult fish to keep and are really amazing to watch as parents. Cichlids are one of the most paternal types of fish you can keep and are fascinating to watch. With their bright colours, reasonable size and ability to tolerate a wide range of water parameters, the Firemouth Cichlid is a great choice for someone looking at starting down the road of Cichlid keeping and I rate them really highly.

If you ever have any questions or opinions on any subjects I write about or about fish keeping in general then please feel free to email me or post a comment below!

See you soon in store!

 

Firemouth Cichlids in our aquariums
Firemouth Cichlids in our aquariums

New aquariums and latest fish news

Blog post written by Andy | 10 November 2011 | Category: In the shop
(2605 views)

Hey everybody!

In my last post I mentioned that we had just started the construction of our 3 new banks of aquariums and I'm pleased to announce they are finally finished!! It has taken a little longer than we expected but they are maturing nicely and I am in the process of stocking them.

As I'm sure many of you fishkeepers are aware, it is very important to build up the livestock in any new system as slowly as possible to avoid any Ammonia or Nitrite spikes. Don't worry, it's just as frustrating for me in the shop as it is for you stocking your fish tanks at home (I have 26 new tanks to play with!!) but we are nearly up to full capacity.

We have decided to stock 2 banks with tropical fish and one with African cichlids. I can already hear the groans from some people as we were toying with the idea of having a tropical marine bank. Marines are still on the cards and as any of you who visited us at our old shop will know I loved setting up and maintaining the show aquariums and marine section as much as people enjoyed looking at them. However, as with all the livestock in our shop, we only want to stock fish of the highest quality and we work tirelessly at keeping the aquariums clean and the fish healthy. With this said, at present we would not have the time to keep a marine section in keeping with the quality we have throughout the shop. The last thing we want to do is to start cutting corners in order to keep more aquariums as that would not be good for you – the customer, us as a business, but more importantly, not good for the fish!

As time progresses we will look at a marine section so I will keep you posted. We do still stock all the food, salt, equipment, RO water, test kits and additives so we are almost there!!

But back to what we are keeping!

We have really increased the number of different Tetras we now stock. We now have Blue Tetra, Emperor Tetra, head and tail light Tetra, Pristella Tetra, Gold Tetra, Blood-fin Tetra, Green Rasbora and Diamond Neon Tetra (and they're just the ones I can see from behind the counter!!). You can see these in the video below.

 

 

Tetras are a fantastic family of fish that shoal and are not difficult to keep. They give an aquarium instant movement and interest. They come in lots of shapes, sizes and colours and there is a type for almost every aquarium. We have also increased the different types of small coldwater fish available. We now have gold Danio, Platinum Danio, Pink Danio, Pearl Danio and Leopard Danio. So even a coldwater aquarium can have a shoal of smaller fish (how cool is that?!).

We have also started stocking our African cichlid section and over the next few posts I will be highlighting this family of fish and why I enjoy keeping them so much. We are trying to stock juveniles so we can keep the prices as low as possible and still keep the quality high. Like the Rainbow Fish I talked about in a previous blog post, given a little time some of these fish will blow your mind!

We currently have some cobalt blue Pseudotropheus which are colouring up nicely as well as some Iodotropheus sprengerae which will turn a beautiful copper colour with a blue sheen. Most of the fish we stock are under 2" but they will easily exceed 5" given....well not much time at all really! I am getting new stock in every week and will try to profile as many as possible over the next few months. If you're not convinced when you see them as juveniles, feel free to ask to see pictures of my aquarium or my glamorous assistant Jon's and I'm sure we can change your mind. You would be amazed at how many customers ask if we keep fish at home and when we say yes and show them pictures, end up leaving with a fish tank!

Well back to the work as Gary said I have been on the computer for far too long. I look forward to seeing you soon - come and let me know what you think of our new aquariums and more importantly what you want to see in them!


Our first summer!

Blog post written by Andy | 02 September 2011 | Category: In the shop
(2779 views)

Hey again everybody! I hope you all had a good summer (yeah I know apparently we did have a summer so Gary tells me!) and all managed to have some kind of holiday in any sun you could find.

First off, I want to thank everyone for their messages of support as I got married on the 24th July and had a fantastic time. I still haven't got used to wearing a wedding ring and apologise if my usual high bagging skills have dropped.... but I am getting better!!

We have all been really busy at the shop as this was our first summer here at Cooling's Green and Pleasant. We are really pleased with how it's gone and the reaction we have had from customers both new and old!

When we first decided to set up Weald Aquatics we looked at lots of locations all over the place. We wanted to find a garden centre with a really friendly environment that catered for families as that's what we have been known for ourselves back in the days of Keston. We loved seeing families come into our old shop and watch how excited the children became seeing all the different types of fish we had. Sometimes when I was working hard on a grey Monday morning cleaning those fish tanks, a group of kids would come in and look at the fish and ask questions and speak with real enthusiasm and excitement. It really would make all the hard work worthwhile. We wanted to build on that in our new shop. That's why we have set all our tanks at a lower level and constructed our pond units with glass fronts so children could see what's inside as easily as possible. We were hoping for some positive feedback, maybe a few comments and smiley faces. However I don't think any of us could have imagined how popular our shop has been with people! We have some families that come in regularly every Sunday morning and stay for at least an hour..... they don't even have a fish tank!!! So we must be doing something right!

We are already planning for next summer (the ruthlessly efficient people that we are!) and have been taking notes of what customers want to see next year. We are already designing a large raised show pond in our outdoor section. It will not only allow us to showcase our range of fountains and waterfalls but also allow us to stock much larger fish. We can also show customers how easy it is to maintain a pond throughout the year. Due to the huge success of our pond plants, we have also taken over Cooling's Pond Plants which means we can expand our range even more! We are looking at stocking over 500 pond plants at one time and that's not including our larger selection of water lilies, deep water marginals, floating plants and loose oxygenating plants!

Another thing customers are looking for is a wider selection of waterfalls. This has led us to several new suppliers who from next year will supply us with slate, rock, pebble and sandstone effect waterfalls.

We have also taken customers' requests to stock solar equipment on board and are currently trying to find a reliable supplier of solar lighting, fountains, pumps and water features. We have a few promising people lined up so watch this space and I will keep you all posted!

Inside the shop it's all systems go as well. We are pleased to announce that we have started the construction process for our 6th, 7th and 8th banks of aquariums which will create a complete wall of aquariums running the length of our shop. Being in charge of all the livestock (and a fish geek!) this is a really exciting time for me. After what seems like years of protest Gary has finally succumbed to my tantrums and agreed to me stocking a dedicated bank of aquariums with African cichlids. I am currently talking to a local importer and breeder of these fish and the quality is amongst the best I have ever seen, so hopefully in a couple of months we will have some really fantastic looking fish on display (if I haven't bought them all first!).

 

 

We have expanded our range of aquariums and will soon be stocking Juwels new Nano aquariums (I sense another display aquarium coming on!). If you thought we had a lot of stock on display at the moment you would be wrong as we are preparing to put in several more shelving units to keep an even wider range of aquarium food, treatments and equipment. Gary has also found a new selection of artificial plants which look absolutely fantastic underwater and our range is really impressive, even if I do say so myself. 

Well, I think I have left Gary cleaning those tanks on his own long enough. So back to work!

See you all soon!
Andy


Neon Blue Rainbow or Neon Dwarf Rainbow (Melanotaenia Praecox)

Blog post written by Andy | 19 July 2011 | Category: Tropical fish
(2944 views)

I had a really great response from people on my last post about the Boesmani Rainbow (thanks for that!). So much so that I thought I would do another one sooner rather than later!

Lots of people have been asking me if there is a rainbow fish which doesn't grow so large and is therefore better suited to the smaller aquarium...and wouldn't you know it, there is!

The Neon Blue Rainbow or Neon Dwarf Rainbow (Melanotaenia Praecox) is a great rainbow fish and as the name suggests it stays small. It originates from Papa New Guinea and Irian Jaya where it is found in the lush jungle streams throughout the area.

They share the typical rainbow fish shape but on a much smaller scale. Adults rarely exceed 2" with females slightly smaller, they have the characteristic arched back, twin dorsal fins and large eyes. The males are a metallic neon blue colour and as they twist and turn in the light they do seem to glow. They have deep red fins and a bright red tail. The females are slightly smaller and do not develop such a deep body, they still have bright reflective blue scales but this time they have bright yellow fins and a golden yellow tail.

 

 

As with all rainbow fish they prefer to be kept in a small shoal, I find at least four but the more you have the better. To truly get the best colours and behaviour from these fish it's best to keep them with a few females for them to show off to - try having more females to males if possible. When you have a couple of males "dancing" to get the attention of a female, it's difficult to look at anything else in your fish tank!

They naturally live in densely planted streams so provide plenty of plants to give cover, providing floating plants also replicates their natural environment. Try and provide some areas of open swimming space for them to cruise around as well.

They are omnivorous so benefit from a mixture of prepared and frozen food, giving them live food regularly also keeps them in top condition and keeps their colours strong.

The rivers they are found in have quite strong currents so a good filter or air pump to keep the water moving and well oxygenated also helps them feel at home. They are not a demanding fish so a regular water change of between 20-25% should be ample to keep the water quality up and these fish happy. Try keeping them with similar sized tank mates, too many large fish may intimidate this smaller species and cause them to lurk in plants and hide at the back of the aquarium. It's great them looking good in our shop but if they hide in your aquarium you will be disappointed! The Praecox Rainbow is a beautiful little fish that if kept happy makes a fantastic show fish for the smaller aquarium and one I happily recommend.


Boesemani Rainbow (Melanotaenia Boesemani)

Blog post written by Andy | 15 June 2011 | Category: Tropical fish
(1966 views)

Almost everybody who keeps a fish tank is generally after the same thing....bright and colourful fish! Most people are drawn to Guppies, Platys and Tetras, not that this is a bad thing as you can get some amazing colours from all three of those fish. However there are several families of fish which are constantly overlooked as the fish we sell can look grey or brown or a deep copper colour - "Not very inspiring!" I hear you say. One family really does suffer from the classic "Ugly duckling syndrome." They are called Rainbow fish...and for good reason! Over the next few weeks I will be writing about the various types of Rainbow fish we keep in the shop and how to keep them successfully. Some of these fish given time to mature look absolutely amazing and are well worth waiting for.

I thought I would start with my favourite Rainbow fish and anyone who has seen any of the display aquariums I have ever done would have seen them! In my opinion this fish has one of the brightest adult forms, gets to a decent but manageable size and is one of the most peaceful of all the family.

 

 

The Boesemani Rainbow is found in Asia, more specifically in Irian Jaya (Indonesia) in clear, densely vegetated lakes. These fish are the typical Rainbow shape, long deep bodied fish with an arched back. They have large eyes on a narrow head with two obvious dorsal fins. These fish will reach an adult length of around 5" with the females slightly smaller at 4.5" but are usually sold much smaller, therefore younger and here lies the problem!

When these fish are young they have a lighter olive or silvery colour...nothing to write home about and the main reason they are overlooked. However once they start to grow and hit around 2.5" to 3" the magic happens!! Males will develop a bright yellow or orange back half of the body which fades to a blue or indigo front half. Where the two sections meet in the middle there are some vertical green or olive stripes and the tail and fins are clear to opaque with bright white edges. The females are similar but the colours are not as intense, often with slightly more silver and yellow on the body, but is still a wonderful looking fish! 

They are a natural shoaling fish and do much better in mixed groups of at least 4 or more. By having females in the group it not only dilutes any aggression that may surface between males but more importantly causes the males to show off and display and you get the very best colours.

They like a decently planted aquarium with plenty of swimming space to cruise around in and are usually found in the middle or near the top of the aquarium. Ideally you need at least a 30" tank but the bigger the better and having it reasonably well planted will also create some shaded areas which these fish also like. The best thing about the Boesemani Rainbow is the fact that they are not a difficult fish to keep, as long as the water is kept clean and healthy (but this is the same for all your fish!) so the good old weekly water change of between 15-20% will keep them happy and looking good. They are not fussy feeders and will accept a variety of foods. To help them colour up live or frozen food is good as well as something with vegetable matter in.

I really can't speak highly enough about these fish and given a little time to mature you will come to love them as much as I do!!


Cardinal Tetra

Blog post written by Andy | 11 May 2011 | Category: Tropical fish
(1931 views)

If you were to ask someone what their favourite fish is for a tropical aquarium or even name a fish for a tropical fish tank, the Cardinal Tetra is usually the fish that springs to mind, and not without good reason! A well planted tank with a shoal of adult Cardinals looks amazing. Any fish tank, be it a large five foot aquarium or a small 30 litre heated bowl, a group of Cardinals will usually be the focal point. However we have found customers who have tried to keep them are either really successful or struggle so I thought I would give a brief summary of one of the most popular fish in the aquatics hobby.

The Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon Axelrodi) is found naturally in South America in the upper Orinoco and Negro rivers. These rivers are naturally more acidic and have a lower mineral content and are often referred to as "black water rivers". This water chemistry is almost the polar opposite to the water chemistry found in the majority of people's mains water and possibly where people run into problems.

Some aquarium shops stock wild caught specimens and there is a huge industry based around the farming of these fish within the Amazon basin. Thousands of people are employed to catch and farm these fish in a sustainable environment, contributing to the economy. However these fish are not used to the water chemistry we have here and the change can cause problems.

We stock Cardinals that have been raised in harder more alkaline water which should minimise any problems with acclimatisation. To help Cardinals adjust even more you can gradually add some of your aquarium water to the bag as they are floating in your tank. A small amount every 10 minutes over a 30 minute period is enough. Ideally they would be kept in softer more acidic water (you can buy various buffers and additives to achieve this) and if you wanted to breed them this is essential as Cardinals are very difficult to breed in the home aquarium as their natural habitat needs to be mimicked really closely.

There is also a debate as to whether Cardinals are a suitable fish for a newly set up aquarium. I know a lot of people say they should only be put in a fully mature system, but really any fish would prefer going in a fully cycled aquarium! As long as the aquarium is being stocked slowly, the feeding is done carefully and the water quality monitored (which should be done with any aquarium anyway!), and you make sure the fish are used to hard more alkaline water I think that they can be added relatively early to the stocking period.

Cardinal Tetras are a shoaling fish so the more you have the better - at least 4 but i would recommend 8 or more. They love a well planted tank with tall plants to create shaded areas. Try and avoid bright lighting if possible. They will accept a variety of foods including flakes and small pellets but really benefit from live or frozen daphnia. They are a peaceful community fish and get along with pretty much everything and can have a life span of up to 5 years.

Cardinals really are a stunning fish to keep and will brighten up any aquarium. It's easy to see why they are amongst the top, if not the top fish for a community aquarium.

 


May 2011 shop news

Blog post written by Andy | 11 May 2011 | Category: In the shop
(1648 views)

First off I hope everyone enjoyed the bank holidays and managed to get out and enjoy the sun. How nice is it to have a few days of sunshine?! Okay it's a bit up and down at the moment but we have had some lovely warm sunny days, perfect weather to go out and give your pond a bit of a spruce up!

With all of this sudden sunny weather come the natural enemies of the pond keeper...blanket weed and green water (crash of thunder and flash of lightning!). These two problems can dampen even the biggest pond enthusiast's spirits, but there are things you can do to prevent and cure the problem.

Green water and UV-filters

People come up and ask why their pond is going green when they have a UV filter. Answer...it shouldn't be! If you have the right size UV light for the right volume of water it shouldn't go green so there is a problem somewhere. The most common problem is that people don't realise that UV bulbs have a lifespan of about a year. Even if the bulb is still glowing it will have lost over 60% of its useful output after 6 months and so they need replacing. The quartz sleeve which surrounds the bulb also needs cleaning periodically. If you don't clean it the glass gets dirty and the UV rays can't penetrate the water and kill off that algae. People also have a tendency to think pumping water through a filter as quickly as possible will solve the problem faster - not true I'm afraid. Pumping the water through too fast means the UV rays only have a short contact time with the water and so can't kill the algae. Slowing down the water going through a UV system can often improve its performance.

If you don't have a UV filter there are other ways of tackling the problem. Lots of plants will help combat green water as they compete for the nutrients that the algae needs to grow. Shading your pond and adding floating plants will cut down the amount of light getting to the algae which can also help. There are also some really effective medications you can use to help.

Blanket weed

Blanket weed is another matter. To really get rid of it you have got to put something in your water. Barley straw is a popular choice (as a liquid, a pellet or a pouch) and will help keep it under control. There are several products which help prevent it but act a lot faster – Goodbye Blanket Weed and Blanket Answer. Both are a natural combination of enzymes so are safe with all wildlife fish and aquatic plants so no need to worry on that front. The most effective in my opinion by quite a distance is Blanket Answer. It really works - I have sold hundreds of them and only two people said it didn't work. One chap didn't have a pond, it was a lake so it was never going to work. He had about 150,000 litres of water and put one bottle in (one bottle treats 10,000 litres) so was expecting a bit much! The other gentleman didn't put the right amount in – an easy mistake to make. He came back and I advised him of right dosage and he was a very happy chappy a week later! If you ever have any problems with any aspect of your pond myself and Gary will always do our best to help, so either give us a call or pop down and see us.

It's also a good time of year to tidy up any plants you have in the pond and re-pot if needed. We have a huge selection of pond baskets, basket liners, aquatic compost and gravel available in store. We also have an even bigger range of aquatic plants for your pond including Deep water marginals, Lilies, Iris, complete planters, oxygenating weed, floating Hyacinth and Water Chestnut. There are more but I don't want to bore you! Our fish stock is also growing and we now have small Koi, Ghost carp, a selection of Rudd and more on the way. Hopefully there is something for everyone but if we haven't got it let us know!

Well back to work... me thinks watering the pond plants is a good idea and a cheeky excuse to catch some sun!


Pentazona Barb

Blog post written by Andy | 07 April 2011 | Category: Tropical fish
(2111 views)

Barbs have got quite a reputation. I would love to say it's all lies but the majority of barbs can be "nippy" and I would never rcommend you keep them with anything delicate or with long flowing fins such as fighting fish, guppies, angelfish etc.

However as with everything there are always exceptions! There are a few select members of the barb family which are a lot less boisterous and generally friendlier to your fish. One such character is the Pentazona or five banded barb Puntius Pentazona. It is a lovely coloured fish with a salmon pink body and deep green stripes. It is also a fish  which stays a reasonably small size of around 2". It is a rather shy fish unless you keep them in a small group of 4 or more where it will shoal around the middle and bottom of your aquarium. They prefer a planted aquariums with lots of vegetation to swim around. A shoal of around 8 of these looks great swimming against a green backdrop of plants. Try and avoid brightly lit aquariums as they prefer more subtle lighting or try to create areas of shade using tall or over hanging plants.

They are omnivorous so will accept a range of dried foods such as flake or small pellets and granules, but as with all fish the addition of frozen or live food occasionally will really help them to colour up.

Pentazona barbs are a really easy fish to keep in a community tank and the smaller aquarium and I would recommend them to anyone!

 


April 2011 shop news

Blog post written by Andy | 07 April 2011 | Category: In the shop
(2020 views)

Hey everybody!

It's been a really busy time at the shop over the last few weeks in preparation for the (fingers crossed!) upcoming summer, and have been working hard on our outdoor section. We have been gradually building up our stock of aquatic plants and have finally got a really comprehensive selection of marginal and deep water species. All of our plants come from a local supplier who grows all of our stock in dedicated planting ponds. Having all of our plants are grown in this country means they are used to our climate and therefore tougher and more resilient to swings in temperature and disease. We also have a large selection of deep water plants and lilies and as the weather starts to warm up we will be able to stock miniature and dwarf species as well.

We are in a similar position with plants as we are with fish. If there is something you are after we will do our best to track it down for you. We supply plants to order for a number of companies who build and maintain ponds, be it a certain type or complete planted baskets. For instant impact, we can find what you're looking for so come in and have a chat if you're looking for some ideas. We stock all you would need for keeping your plants in top condition. We have a huge selection of plant baskets in different shapes and sizes, aquatic soil and compost which is completely safe to use with all fish and aquatic animals, hessian to line your baskets and lots of different gravels to cover your plants. We also stock a selection of aquatic plant foods and fertilisers in both liquid and tablet forms to really give your plants all they could ever want!!

It's also great to see how popular our pre-formed ponds are and, due to their popularity, we have expanded our range even further. We have ponds for the smallest garden area up to large ponds which look more like small swimming pools to me (if the weather is as hot as last year that might not be a bad idea!!). I was thinking of putting a book together of people's ponds we have helped create so if you want to bring in any photos you have I would love to see them to give other people a bit of inspiration.

Inside is where I have really had my fun! It has taken a while building our stock up but we finally have a really good selection of pond fish in various sizes and are finally happy enough with our filter systems to start stocking Koi.

We currently stock goldfish, shubunkins, sarasa comets, canary yellow goldfish, blue orfe, gold orfe and a selection of koi. As with our plants, the further into summer we go the more variety and size of fish we can stock. So, as always anything you are after I will do my best to track it down.

I am really impressed with our pond units (see photo below) and I am glad they are making an impression on people who come and have a look. We chose glass fronted systems to allow children to enjoy the fish and for customers to view them more clearly. I have even seen families taking pictures of their children in front of our pond units as they enjoy the fish! The units are made of 10mm glass and hold 200 gallons (900 litres) each so I have lots of room for even more varieties of fish. Each unit is individually filtered and all of the equipment is hidden in the back compartment accessible from the top panels for easy maintenance. A number of customers have liked the units so much they have asked if they can buy the units for their patio........ and yes you can! So if you have any questions please come and ask and we will do our best to help.

If you haven't seen the new pond units come down and tell me what you think.

Hope to see you soon.

 


Golden Dojo

Blog post written by Andy | 09 March 2011 | Category: Tropical fish
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I will be using this blog to showcase a lot of the fish I get in store. I will be highlighting any new and unusual fish that become available and offering advice on how to keep them successfully.

One fish that we currently have in stock is the Golden Dojo or Weather Loach (Misgurnus angullicaudatus) and is a great fish for the coldwater aquarium for those who want something a little different! They originate from Asia, Korea, China and Japan. They are a bottom feeding loach with an almost eel like appearance and a cluster of barbel "whiskers" around the mouth. Their bright gold colour make them really stand out against a dark substrate. They are a very peaceful, active fish and perfectly suited to the coldwater community aquarium. They tend to prefer being kept in at least pairs or small groups and seem a lot happier swimming together.

 

 

They enjoy a varied diet (as do all fish!) but really need some sort of sinking pellet or frozen food. In the shop I tend to feed them frozen blood worm at least every couple of days and it really keeps them in great condition. They can grow up to 12 inches but they usually stay much smaller as tank size can restrict their growth, a common size is around 6 inches. They love burrowing, often with just their head sticking out of the gravel waiting for their next meal and the finer their gravel or sand the better. They can have a life span of almost 10 years and develop real personalities, I had one customer tell me he used to put his hand in the tank and have his weather loach swim onto his hand and curl up to take a rest! The only note of caution I would say is that they have a knack of getting out of tanks unless you have a tight fitting lid so keep those holes blocked! All in all they are a great and really interesting fish to keep so come and check them out.


March 2011 shop news

Blog post written by Andy | 09 March 2011 | Category: In the shop
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Hey everybody!

It's great to see so much interest in my first post and thank you for all of your comments and ideas on what you want to see. I will take them all on board and try and work them into the next few posts.

A quick update on the shop! As a lot of you know, towards the end of January we expanded our shop to over twice its size! And boy have we packed it out!! A little disappointed that Gary wouldn't let me put in a pool table but I guess from a business point of view I can see his point! All of this extra space has really allowed us to expand our entire product range and stock a lot of new lines.

If doubling the size of the shop wasn't enough, we have kept our momentum going and opened our outdoor pond section! Having a dedicated outdoor space has given us the opportunity to stock a huge range of preformed ponds, plants, baskets, aquatic soil, pond liners.... I could keep going but we have more and more stock coming in every week so even I'm losing track.

The preformed ponds are proving really popular so we are looking to get even more in.... even bigger than our 1250 litre one! As the weather is slowly starting to warm up (yes I know it is apparently) we will be expanding our range of floating plants, lilies and marginals. We are in the lucky position of dealing with wholesalers who grow all their plants locally and, as with our aquarium fish, if there is something you are after specifically I will try and track it down for you.

Back in store I am in the process of setting up our first (of many!) show tanks. I have chosen a Jewell Rekord 800. It's a system I really like because it's an impressive size but really easy and more importantly quick to look after. As the weeks go by I will slowly be stocking it with fish so come in and tell me how you think I'm doing. By setting up this tank I hope to show how easy it is to keep a great looking fish tank that won't take up all of your time. Keeping a tropical fish tank should be enjoyable most importantly of all so I am happy to chat to you about any aspect of fish keeping and will offer advice where I can.

Well that's a brief update on just a few things happening at Weald Aquatics. I hope I have given you all something to think about and look forward to seeing you at the shop soon.

Well back to work...... these tanks aren't going to clean themselves!


Welcome to our blog

Blog post written by Andy | 02 February 2011 | Category: General fishy ramblings
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So Gary has finally let me off the leash and, after a few months of hard work getting the shop set up and running, we've finally found the time to set up the blog. The shop is now looking great and there's still more to come as we enter the pond season.

Let me introduce myself. I'm Andy and through this blog I hope to offer advice and tips as well as news and views and articles on all things aquatic (and maybe occasionally things non-aquatic as well).

Since we opened in October last year it has been great to meet customers old and new. We'd like to say a big thank you for all of the kind words of support and encouragement. It was great to hear how impressed everyone was with our newly installed fish tanks. I love them and I'm glad you all do too.

 

 

We are always offering some really good deals and special offers. When we are running offers, you'll see the Special Offers link in the menu bar above. If it's there now, why not click it and see what we have on offer. As I am dealing with some fantastic wholesalers I'm in the fortunate position of being able to locate fish to order. If you want it, my mission is to find it for you and not break the bank in the process. We've also set up the Weald Aquatics Club. You can join by clicking here to receive our latest news and events, exclusive club offers and hints and tips.

Keep visiting our blog for the latest Weald news and special offer or come and see us in store soon!