Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fish Compatibility Charts & Fish Profile Sources

When I'm doing research on a potential new fish or one of my current fish, I use several different sites since each one has different information. Please feel free to add your own favorite research site and I'll edit it into this main post.

I start with these General Compatibility Charts just to get an idea on whether the prospective fish or aquatic life are even remotely compatible: (More of an advanced search for species based on water parameters, etc.)

Here is a download chart in Excel/Spreadsheet format that has tons of information about various fish, compatibility, etc.: or

Sorry.. the above two links no longer work but I did download these files a while back and I now have them hosted on my FileFront account so you can download them here.... (ODS file for Sun's Open Office) (XLS file for MS Excel)

(If you don't have MS-Excel, you can download a viewer from MS or if you want a FREE full service MS-Office type suite, go to Sun Micro's and download their full suite which will allow you to create, view and edit MS-Office documents.)

This page has a few downloadable fishkeeping related programs... mostly Freeware... and includes two programs under the Software Column of links, for Fish Compatibility named "Can I Keep It?" and "More Can I Keep It?". I haven't checked these out yet but they were recommended by an advanced member of There are also some other fish related freebie programs on the site. I'm not sure if this is Neal Monk's site but I see "nmonks" in the URL and he has been writing articles for a while about fish.


You can also get some "expert" advice on compatibility by visiting me and the many other fine folks at the one of the forums at the top right.

While getting live advice and suggestions is nice, I also check one or more of these sites for more specific details on the actual fish to learn the preferences and compatibility issues: (Use Search) (Use Search if needed) (Use Search) (Use Search) (Use Search) (For Good Catfish & Pleco Profiles using various search options) (Using Catfish/Pleco Common Names)

Here is a general compatibility article:

There are many sites that I also use for information on Goldfish, such as: (Best Overall Article I've Ever Seen On Goldfish Care)

Between all of those "Fish Species Information" sites, you should find plenty of information to help you with setting up a tank with compatible species. If you still need more, use and enter your species common name and/or scientific name.

There are many specialized sites on specific fish like Cichlids, African Dwarf Frogs, Snails, Plecos & Catfish, Shrimp, etc., and I'll be adding to this list as I go through my Favorites folder on my computer.

You are doing the right thing by researching your prospective fish first!

Thanks for visiting.

GoldLenny - FREE, secure, encrypted and automatic online backup of your documents and files. Check out how simple and secure it can be to use the Mozy backup system. It will back up your most important files, photos and folders... or your entire hard drive, every day/night (you set the schedule) while you aren't using your computer... and did I mention... it's FREE. I have been using this product/service since it was in Beta Testing and have been 100% satisfied with the final product!!!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Disease & Illness Diagnosis And Treatment

10/26/2008 - A couple of new links added and a couple of old/bad links removed.

NOTE - If you are having trouble figuring out what is wrong with your Tropical Fish or Goldfish, please come to the Freshwater Emergency Rooms at one of the forums to the right. See near the bottom of this page for a form you can copy/paste and fill out as much information as possible so people trying to help do not have to ask a lot of questions and can get right to helping you.
You can also check for a local fish veterinarian using these sites: - "This web portal provides access to searchable online databases of Aquatic Veterinarians and Disease Diagnostic Laboratories involved with the health, welfare and medicine of any aquatic animal...". I suggest clicking "Search For A Vet", then putting your Country and State, then check off Ornamental Fish and Other, then check off Private Veterinary Practice, Academic Education (Undergrad or Grad), Continuing Education and Government Agency. Using this for my area, the only one that I was able to find was the nearby University Vet School. I know that my local PetsMart has a Veterinary office within the store but I'm not sure if they treat fish. - Has a "Find A Vet" section. - There is often a veterinarian in the forums or chat rooms so make sure you try for your Koi and Goldfish issues.
Non-Disease Diagnosis:
Are Your Fish Really Suffering From Disease? A guide to non-disease causes of illness (GoldLenny)

Shock diagnosis: (Hailey)
The original page on "Shock Diagnosis" is shut down but the original article can still be found here, on the Internet Wayback Archive, which takes a snapshot of every page on the internet and archives the pages... just in case something like this ever happens to your favorite site... so here's the new link...
If you ever need to find a copy of one of your old favorites, if you have the URL, you can just go to the Internet Wayback Archive and copy/paste or type out the URL in the search field and then you should find that page. You may have to check a few of the snapshots to find one that works right. I'm not sure why this happens, but sometimes the Wayback Archive will crawl a page and pick up the background only, which happened to the two 2008 archived pages on the above link but the 2004 links worked fine.
Stress Related Problems: (DataGuru from (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny)
Tropical Fish Disease Diagnosis & Treatment: (GoldLenny) (This original Pandora's Disease page is no longer active but you can still see the entire page and images by viewing the Internet Archived page hosted on the Wayback Machine at (Hailey - Mirror Site for above but it's not working any longer either so use the Web Archive link above.) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) - Hole-In-The-Head (HITH) Disease Article(Cooltow1) - Article on "Bloat" affecting Oscars, Cichlids and others. (Hailey) - In-depth Article on Parasites (Hailey)

Goldfish Disease Diagnosis & Treatment: (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (and page 2)(GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (Practical Koi & Goldfish Medicine .pdf Document)(GoldLenny) (Goldfish Veterinary Procedures)(GoldLenny)

Fish Poop Diagnosis: (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (Goldfish Poop Pictures Forum Thread - with explanations)(GoldLenny)

Articles on the use of salt in FW aquariums & osmoregulation: (GoldLenny) (Hailey) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) - Salt or NO Salt (GoldLenny) - The Great Salt Myth (GoldLenny) - To Salt or NOT to Salt (GoldLenny) - Salt in Freshwater (GoldLenny) - Saltwater Salinity & Specific Gravity (GoldLenny) - (Goldfish & Aquarium Board) forum thread on Calcium and the Osmoregulatory System. (GoldLenny) - LONG forum thread on Salt, Chloride and other minerals/chemicals related to Salt & Osmoregulation. (GoldLenny)

Medications & Medicated Fish Foods - (Medicine Cabinet)(GoldLenny) (Descriptions of Medicines)(GoldLenny) (Medications For Sale-3 pages)(GoldLenny) (Descriptions of Medicated Fish Foods)(GoldLenny) (Medicated Foods For Sale)(GoldLenny) (DIY Medicated Fish Food)(GoldLenny) (Medicated Foods For Sale)(GoldLenny)
And if all else fails...
Humane euthanasia: (Hailey)
Clove Oil Method Of Euthanasia: (GoldLenny)
Necropsy (Autopsy) and Anatomy Information - (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny) (GoldLenny)

Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology 100 - (A very comprehensive college level online guide): (GoldLenny)

We understand that if you are having a problem, especially one resulting is sick fish, you want help as soon as possible. In order to give you answers as quickly as we can, we need you to provide answers to as many of the questions below as possible, especially test readings. It would be best if you cut and paste this entire set of questions into your first post to be sure you answer each inquiry.

Test readings (in numbers) for:
Also post your tap water baseline numbers if known. If not known, now would be a good time to start finding out what they are. See my article on this page

Tank size:

Tank inhabitants (number and type of fish or other aquatic life):

Water change amount and when the last one was done:
Filter maintenance and what exactly did you do:

How long the tank has been set up:

Water or filter additives or pH adjusters used:

Recent (within 2 weeks) changes or additions to the tank:

Full description of the problem you have been having, including any odd behavior of the inhabitants or appearance of the tank or inhabitants…some common examples are:

Fish behavior-
separating from school
breathing rapidly
hanging at surface
sitting on bottom
having difficulty swimming
scraping body on ornaments/plants/gravel

Fish appearance-
pale or different in color (describe)
raised spots/tufts of cottony material/cloudy patches on skin
fins fraying
chunks missing from fins
open sores
bent spine

Tank appearance-
whitish cloudy water
greenish cloudy water
excessive algae (specify color)


¯`·.¸. ><((((º>`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸.·´¯`·...¸><((((º>¸.·´¯`·.,..·´¯`·..

If you have a favorite site that that I have not listed, please leave the information in the comments section below.

GoldLenny - FREE, secure, encrypted and automatic online backup of your documents and files. Check out how simple and secure it can be to use the Mozy backup system. It will back up your most important files, photos and folders... or your entire hard drive, every day/night (you set the schedule) while you aren't using your computer... and did I mention... it's FREE. I have been using this product/service since it was in Beta Testing and have been 100% satisfied with the final product!!!

FREE fish offers from around the web

Update - August 08, 2010 - Hikari free food offer updated

Go to and on their home page, right near the top, is a link to get a free sample of fish food. Not just a pinch either... 20g. Here is the link when I visited the page on August 8, 2010 but promotional links change sometimes so the home page should have the latest link if this one does not work...

As I type this, I'm looking at a container of Nutrafin Max Spirulina Algae Flake Food that is about 2" diameter and 5" high and it's 60g/2.12oz, so a third of this is a probably a month or two worth of food... maybe more depending on your numbers.


Since 2002, this online magazine has been letting readers see the entire monthly magazine for FREE. Can't beat that price!!!

The Complete Pond Solver -

A FREE downloadable .pdf eBook - and see more free downloadable or online eBooks on my Pond Pages.

Well, if the below Free Single Edition trial subscription link(s) do not work and the $1.00 Digital Subscription doesn't seem to be available any longer, so the below links may no longer work. You can still subscribe for the paper or digital subscriptions here... but read below for updated links as I find them.

For potential discounted subscription rates, go to this forum and join the forum. Once a member of the forum, they have Subscription Codes that will supposedly get you a much discounted rate on the paper edition.


Go to  

And better yet, if you choose to purchase a multi-year subscription, you will receive a FREE book along with your longer subscription at a lower price. This offer won't last forever though. This FREE book offer was found through one of my home forums at

Come by and say hi sometime!

GoldLenny - FREE, secure, encrypted and automatic online backup of your documents and files. Check out how simple and secure it can be to use the Mozy backup system. It will back up your most important files, photos and folders... or your entire hard drive, every day/night (you set the schedule) while you aren't using your computer... and did I mention... it's FREE. I have been using this product/service since it was in Beta Testing and have been 100% satisfied with the final product!!!

Monday, February 26, 2007

How Long SHOULD Aquarium Fish Live? (An expected lifespan guide for fish keepers)

-Updated Dec. 2009

Below is a list of "lifespans" of how long a fish SHOULD live instead of the other lists I've seen on how long they live on "average" or "median" lifespan, since some of these lifespan figures are skewed towards the low end due to the frequent stunting, overstocking and poor tank maintenance. This article will regularly be edited based on information provided by visitors to this blog, members of various forums and from reliable website profiles. If you have a Guiness World Record or other record reference, please provide it so I can put the "WR" age as well.

So far, this list consists of mostly "common names" but on certain species where there is some confusion about the common name being used on different species, I will try to list the scientific name... especially for Cichlids and certain Plecos/Catfish.

If you do not see your fish on this list, please leave a comment with the common name, scientific name (if known) and the age yours lived to or a reputable profile showing the age they should live to and I'll edit the list to include the updated information with credit given to you. If you search for 'lifespan (fish name)', you will find several web pages that have a purported lifespan. Use the good ones for information confirmation.

Thank you for your assistance.


(* in front means it has NOT been edited from the original "average lifespan" list so your help is needed in finding accurate "expected lifespans" for these fish)(Your "Forum Name" will be added behind the new and corrected information.)

HOW LONG A FISH SHOULD LIVE - (when reasonably cared for)

Adolfo's Cory - 5 years (GoldLenny)
*African Butterfly Fish - ??
Agassiz's Corydoras - 5 years (GoldLenny)
Amano Shrimp - 4 years (Crazygar)
Amur Sucker aka Tiger Shark/Scarlet Carp (Sarco. sinensis) - 10 years (GoldLenny)
Anableps (Four-Eyed Fish) - 6 years (GoldLenny)
Angelfish - 10 to 15 years (GoldLenny)
Angelicus Loach (Botia kubotai) - 4 years (GoldLenny)
Apistogramma - 3 to 5+ years (Some species only 1 to 2 years)(GoldLenny)
Apistogramma norberti - 7 years and still alive (Lisachromis)
Apple Snail (Pomacea canaliculata) - 3 to 10 years (depending on water temperature... see
Arched Cory - 4 years (GoldLenny)
*Archer Fish - 5 years
*Armored Catfish - 7 to 15 years
Asian Clown Catfish - 10 - 15 years (Viridari)
Bala Shark - 15+ years (GoldLenny)
Banana Loach (Acantopsis choirorhynchos) - 5 years (GoldLenny)
Banded Loach (Botia hymenophysa) - 7 years (GoldLenny)
*Bandit Cory - 5 years
Banjo Catfish - 8 to 15 years (GoldLenny)
*Banjo Catfish - 5 to 8 years
Betta Coccina (Wine Red Betta) - 3+ years (GoldLenny)
Betta Imbellis (Crescent Betta) - 4+ years (GoldLenny)
Betta Macrostoma (Brunei/Borneo Beauty) - 4+ years (GoldLenny)
Betta Splendens (Common Betta) - 5+ years... reports of 6-8 years (GoldLenny) with 10+ years in controlled laboratory conditions (Cruise/CindyWindy)
*Black Neon Tetra - 5 years
*Black Phantom Tetra - 5 years
Black Shark - 8 to 10 years (GoldLenny)
Black Skirt Tetra/Black Tetra/Black Widow Tetra - 6+ years (GoldLenny/Kelly.Belle's is nearly 10 years old as of 09/2009)(up to 10 years per Viridari)(Gymnocorymbus ternetzi)
Black Tetra/False Black Tetra - 6+ years (and living as of 03/2007)(Kelly.Belle)(Gymnocorymbus thayeri)
*Blackfin Cory - 5+ years
*Bleeding Heart Tetra - 5 years
Blind Cave Fish - 5 years (GoldLenny)
Bloodfin Tetra - 10+ years (GoldLenny)
Blue Tetra - 3 years (GoldLenny)
Blue/Three-Spot Gourami - 6 to 8 years (GoldLenny)
Boesman Rainbow - 5+ years (GoldLenny)
Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosa) - 4 years (GoldLenny)
BristleNose Catfish/Pleco (BN) - 20 years (Crazygar)
Bronze Cory - 8 to 10 years (GoldLenny)
Buenos Aires Tetra - 5 to 7 years (GoldLenny)
*Bumble Bee Catfish - 5 to 8 years
*Burmese Border Loach - ??
Candy Loach aka Zebra Loach (Botia striata) - 10 to 15+ years (Gupp)
Cardinal Tetra - 5 to 7 years (GoldLenny)
*Ceylon Combtail - Belontia signata - ??
Ceylon Puffer aka Green Puffer (Tetraodon fluviatilis) - 15 years
Cherry Barb - 5 to 7 years (GoldLenny)
Chinese Algae Eater (CAE) - 10 to 15 years (Minky_2001)
*Chocolate Gourami - 4 years
Clown Catfish (Synodontis decorus) - 15 years (GoldLenny)
Clown Loach - 20+ years (oldest known in aquaria over 50 years) (GoldLenny)
Common Pleco - 20+ years, some over 30 years (GoldLenny)(Viridari)
*Columbian Tetra - 5 years
*Congo Tetra - 5 yearsConvict - 10 to 15 years (GoldLenny)
Convict Cichlid - 10 to 15 years (GoldLenny)
Cuckoo Catfish (Synodontis multipunctatus) - 15 years (GoldLenny)
Cyrtocara moorii (Malawi Blue Dolphin) - 10 years and still alive and breeding (Lisachromis)
Diamond Tetra - 4 to 6 years (GoldLenny)
Discus - 10 to 15 years (GoldLenny)
Discus Tetra (B. orbicularis) - 5 years (GoldLenny)
Dojo Loach - 10+ years (GoldLenny)
Dwarf Gourami - 4 years (GoldLenny)
Emerald Catfish - 5 years (GoldLenny)
*Emperor Tetra - 6 years
Featherfin Squeaker Catfish – 12 to 18 years (GoldLenny)(Synodontis Eupterus)
*Festivum - 10+ years
Figure Eight/8 Puffer - 15+ years (brackish); only 5 years (freshwater)(Nusquam)
Flying Fox (False SAE) - 10+ years (8heidi) (Epalzeorhynchus kalopterus)
Firemouth - 10 to 15+ years (GoldLenny)
*Freshwater Flounder (dwarf) - ??
Frontosa - 8 to 15 years (GoldLenny)
German Blue Ram - 3 to 4 years (GoldLenny)(Mikrogeoghagus Ramirezi)
Ghost Shrimp - 2 to 3 years (GoldLenny)
Gold Nugget Pleco - 25 years (GoldLenny)
Gold Zebra Loach aka Burmese Loach (Botia histrionica) - 6 years (GoldLenny)
*Giant Danio - 5 to 7 years
*Glass Catfish - 8 years
*Glassfish - 8 years
GloFish (genetically modified glowing Zebra Danios) - See Zebra Danio
*Glowlight Tetra - 5 years
Goldfish (long bodied) - 25 to 30+ years (WR of 40+ years)(Goldlenny)
Goldfish (round bodied) - 10 to 25 years (GoldLenny)
Green Fire Tetra (A. rathbuni) - 4 years (GoldLenny)
Green Spotted Puffer aka Common Puffer (Tetradon nigroviridis) - 10 years (GoldLenny)
Guppy - 3+ years (GoldLenny)
Harlequin Rasbora - 6 years (GoldLenny)
*Hatchetfish - 5 years
Hognosed Brochis - 4 to 10 years (GoldLenny)
Honeycomb Tatia - 5 years (GoldLenny)
*Honey Gourami - 4 years
Iridescent Shark (Pangasius hypophthalmus) - 20 years (GoldLenny)(NOTE - This fish grows HUGE and should not be kept in a typical aquarium)
Jack Dempsey - 15+ years (GoldLenny)
*Jordan's Catfish - 10+ years
Jumping Characin aka Splash Tetra (Copella arnoldi) - 3 years (GoldLenny)
Killifish (Non-Annual) - 3 to 4 years (coldwater fish) (MillieFish)
Killifish (Annual) - 2 to 3 months ("puddle" fish) (MillieFish)
Kissing Gourami - 10 to 15+ years (GoldfishCrazy11)
Koi (Cyprinus carpio carpio) - 50+ years (GoldLenny)(Koi grow HUGE and should only be in a large outdoor pond)
Kuhlii Loach (Pangio kuhlii) - 11 years (GoldLenny)
Lace Catfish (Synodontis nigrita) - 11 years (GoldLenny)
*Lemon Tetra - 5 years
Leopard Corydoras - 3 years (GoldLenny)
*Leopard Ctenopoma (Bushfish) - ??
*Leopard Danio - 5 to 7 years
Leopard Pleco - 25 years (GoldLenny)
*Leporinus - 5+ years
*Livingstoni - 10+ years
Marbled Hatchetfish - 4 years (GoldLenny)
Melanochromis (johannii or cyaneorhabdos) - 11 years (Lisachromis)
Midas Cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus) - 15+ years (GoldLenny)
Molly (Poecilia sphenops) - 4 years (GoldLenny) (Also see Sailfin Molly)
Moonlight/Moonbeam Gourami - 10 years (GoldLenny)
Mystery Snails (Pomacea bridgesii) - 1 to 3+ years (depending on water temperature... see Apple Snail)
*Neon Rainbow - 3 to 4 years
Neon Tetra - 10 years (GoldLenny)
Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus) - 12 to 15+ years (GoldLenny), 17 years (Viridari)
Otocinclus - 5 years (difficult)(GoldLenny)
Pacu - 20+ years (40+ years for "Buttkiss" at Cameo's Pet Store in Queens, NY - (Pacu's grow HUGE and should not be kept in typical home aquariums)
*Pearl Danio - 5 years
*Pearl Gourami - 4 years
Pictus Catfish - 8 years (GoldLenny)
Piranha - 12 years (12 years reported by Anonymous)(
Platy - 3 to 5 years (GoldLenny); 3 years per
Pleco - (*7 to 15 years)(not accurate since there are hundreds of different Pleco's and many live for longer than 15 years)(GoldLenny)
Pristella Tetras - 4+ years (I got mine four years ago and they were adults when I got them)(_RiC_)
Queen Arabesque Pleco - 10+ years (GoldLenny)
Queen Loach (Botia Dario) - 6 years (GoldLenny)
*Rafael Catfish - 7 to 15 years (See Striped Raphael Catfish)
Rainbowfish - 3 to 8 years (GoldLenny)
Rainbow Shark - 12+ years (8heidi)(Epalzeorhynchus frenatum)
Rams - (*4 years)(Each species is now listed by their separate common/scientific names instead of grouped under one name)
Rasboras - (*5 to 10 years)(Each species is now listed by their separate common/scientific names instead of grouped under one name)
Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus) - 15+ years (GoldLenny)
*Red Eye Tetra - 5 years
*Red Rainbow - 5 years
*Red Tailed Catfish - 15 years
Redtail/Redtailed Black Shark (E. bicolor) - 6 to 10 years (GoldLenny)
Roseline Shark - 5 to 7 years (GoldLenny)
*Rosy Barb - 5 years
*Royal Pleco - 10+ years
Rubbernose Pleco - 12 years (GoldLenny)
*Rummy Nose Tetra - 5 to 10 years
Sailfin Molly (Poecilia velifera) - 3+ years (GoldLenny)
Sailfin Pleco (G. gibbiceps) - 15+ years (GoldLenny)
Salmontail Catfish (Arius leptaspis) - 15 years (GoldLenny)
Senegal (Cuvier's) Bichir - 20+ years (34 years reported)(GoldLenny)
Serpae Tetra - 5+ years (_RiC_)
Severum (Heros severus) - 10+ years (GoldLenny)
Siamese Algae Eater (SAE) - 5 to 10+ years (GoldLenny)(aka - Siamese Flying Fox - C. siamensis)
Silver Dollar - 10+ years (GoldLenny)
*Silvertip Tetra - 5 years
Skunk Loach (Yasuhikotakia morleti) - 6 years (GoldLenny)
Snails - (See Apple Snail and Mystery Snail)
Spotted Medusa Pleco - 14 years (GoldLenny)
Spotted Raphael Catfish - 9 years (GoldLenny)
Starlight Bristlenose Pleco - 14 years (GoldLenny)
Stingray Pleco (Gastromyzon borneensis) - 6 years (GoldLenny)
Striped Raphael Catfish - 17+ years (Ray W.- AquaticLife Yahoo Group)
Swordtails - 3 to 5 years (4 years per profile)
Texas Cichlid - 15+ years (GoldLenny)
Three-Spot/Blue Gourami - 4 to 8 years (GoldLenny)
Tiger Barb - 6+ years (GoldLenny)
*Tigerfish - 5 years
Tinfoild Barb - 18 years (GoldLenny)
Upsidedown Catfish (Synodontis nigriventris) - 15 years (GoldLenny)
*Weather Loach - 10 years
Whiptail Pleco - 14 years
White Cloud Mountain Minnow - 5 to 7 years (GoldLenny)
YoYo Loach - 12 to 14 years (Gupp)(Botia almorhae or lohachata)
*Zebra Cichlid - 10+ years
Zebra Danio - 5 years (GoldLenny) (also includes the newer genetically colored GloFish)
Zebra Loach aka Candy Loach - 10 to 15+ years (Gupp)(Botia Striata)
Zebra Pleco - 15 years (GoldLenny)
Zipper Loach (Acanthocobitis botia) - 5 years (GoldLenny)
Besides personal references of actual fish keepers and members from many forums that I belong to and visitors to this blog, the profiles at, and, which include the lifespan for most fish profiled, were also used to update this list. Generally, these are reliable profiles so many of the above lifespans were utilized in the above list. I also do a Google or Yahoo search "lifespan (fish name)" to see if there was a consensus on the ones that have been edited/updated... those WITH an * which still need to be verified and updated.
This revised and updated list was prompted by the original names/numbers from which have been edited, above, for the purposes of this report. Some of the unedited names with an * still in front of them were from the FreshAquarium list of "Average" lifespans.
I hope this helps you with setting goals for how long your fish should live and on planning the long term success of your aquarium.
GoldLenny - FREE, secure, encrypted and automatic online backup of your documents and files. Check out how simple and secure it can be to use the Mozy backup system. It will back up your most important files, photos and folders... or your entire hard drive, every day/night (you set the schedule) while you aren't using your computer... and did I mention... it's FREE. I have been using this product/service since it was in Beta Testing and have been 100% satisfied with the final product!!!

Nitrates - Long Explanation (Thanks to Steve S. on another forum)

From: "Steve S" (Edits in brackets added by Lenny)

Subject: Nitrate - Long post

There does seem to be a lot of unnecessary concern of nitrate levels expressed by people on this list for relatively low levels of nitrate.

Nitrate is the end product of the ammonia cycle ("The Nitrogen Cycle") that occurs in every tank.

There is no easy way to naturally remove nitrate without the use of a setup that uses anaerobic bacteria to reduce nitrate to its components. The usual method of deal with nitrate is water changes (25% PWC's) and the addition of live plants, which includes algal growth.

At what level should one really become concerned about the level of nitrates in the aquarium. A level of 1000 ppm is definitely a concern, since everything dies. So we need to go lower than that. 500 ppm is still of definite concern. Many animals and plants will die at this level also, but some will live, though not well, as they will be subject to long-term effects of nitrate, such as hole-in-head disease and the erosion of the lateral line. Some plants also will not survive this level of nitrates.

At 200 ppm, the effects of nitrate will be more long term than immediate. Again, we would be looking at such things as later line disease and hole-in-head as a result. Going lower will help reduce the effects. At 150 ppm, again, the effects are long term. Going even lower, long term effects are still present.

Ideally, one would wish to reduce nitrate levels to less than 20 ppm, but immediate action is not called for until you reach a number of more than 150 ppm. Please do note that figures for a marine (salt water) aquarium are very much different, and action is called for when nitrate is measured in the single digits of ppm. In a marine environment, it is possible to reduce nitrates to immeasurable levels through the use of foam fractioners, which do not work well in fresh water.

So, you notice that your nitrates are rising, or at a high level. One can simply panic and do immediate large water changes (or a series of 3-4 24% PWC's) to reduce the level of nitrates. However, doing this fails to discover and remedy the core cause of the high level of nitrates. Unless you are getting reading over 150 ppm of nitrate, you do have some time to do investigative work to discover and remedy the cause of the nitrates, while your regular water changes (25% PWC's) should help you reduce the level.

Where does nitrate come from? Nitrate is the end product of the ammonia cycle ("The Nitrogen Cycle") as we follow it in the aquarium. Ammonia is produced as a waste product by the animals you have living in your tank. It can also be produced by dead and decaying animals and plants as well as food added to the aquarium. If you are using fertilizer for your plants, this may also be a source of ammonia. You need to reduce the sources of ammonia. Feeding less will help reduce the level. Most of us feed our fish too well. A day of fasting may help the health of your fish, as well as reducing the amount fed each day. Raising fry is a whole other ball of wax, which I will not be covering here, but to get quick growth you do want to ensure they are well fed. If there is left over food when you are feeding, you will need to reduce the amount of food you give to your fish, until there is no left-overs in the tank. Until this is remedied, you will want to wait a while after feeding the fish, then siphon off the left-overs.

If you are fertilizing your live plants, you will want to reduce or stop the fertilization of the plants or start adding only the trace elements your plants may need for good growth and avoid a fertilizer that contain nitrogenous products.

Also look for and remove any dead materials from your aquarium. Likely, if this is a fish, you'll do it rather rapidly. If it is plant material, then you will need to, perhaps, do this on a daily basis. Algae poses a particular problem. Removal of algae will reduce the capacity of your aquarium to remove nitrates, but then, it is also difficult to know when to remove it because it may be dead or simply another form of algae. It may be best to follow your aesthetic sense and remove what does not appeal to you, and remove any that is not green. Those of you that have snails in your aquarium are faced with a sometimes difficult decision--is the snail dead or is it alive? Tough to tell sometimes. However, if you have a nitrate problem, it may be well to take the conservative course of action and remove any snails you have doubts about, either to dispose of or to place in another environment. (You can always do the smell test on a snail. If it smells rotten, it's probably dead but you can put it in another container with some of your tank water if you want to be cautious.)

Throughout this entire process, you will need to keep an eye on the progress you are making. Go back to daily testing of your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. Also test your tap water, which could be another source of nitrates in your aquarium. The EPA has a regulation that states that drinking water should not contain more than 10 ppm of nitrate. However, from reports of aquarist's around the country, not all water companies are meeting this requirement. Also, if you are using well water, your nitrates may be high, especially when the aquifer is in agricultural parts of the country. Our well fertilized lawns and gardens can also have an effect on the nitrate level of aquifers, but most research has pointed to agriculture as a large culprit. If your water is starting with unacceptable levels of nitrate, you will need to look into means to reduce the nitrate before the water reaches the aquarium. This is usually done with chemical adsorption products.

If your nitrate level still does not lower after doing all this, you will need to look at some other aspects of your aquarium. I have mentioned live plants in this discussion, but I am aware that not all people utilize live plants in their aquariums. There may be practical reasons for this, like the vegetarian habits of your fish prevent the growth of plant s to any great extent, and may reduce the number of plants you have, your fish may be diggers that uproot plants, etc. Your tank may simply be overcrowded with fish, and be overloading the biological processes that would normally handle such situations. In the former situation, you may want to utilize the marine idea of a refugarium, where there is a separate tank that water flows through that has plants to pull out the "bad stuff" from the water, with water from the main tank run through the filtration system into the refugarium and back into the main tank. You may also wish to investigate plants that may be immune to the predation of your fish. As for overcrowding, well, you simply need to reduce the numbers of fish that are present in the tank. You may set up more aquariums to house them or give them to friends who would like them. You may even be able to bring them back to you LFS for credit.

Another source may be a decoration that has recently been added to your tank that is leaching substances into your water as it 'cures' in your tank. Removal of this object will show a quick and drastic reduction with your next water change. Should this be the case, you'll need to either cure the item outside the tank, or do without it inside the tank.

Also, not usual, but, perhaps not as unusual as we may like to think, there may be an outside force acting upon the tank, like something some one has added to the tank without your knowledge. One of the kids could have put something in the tank without your knowledge and you may never know if the youngin' expects they'll get a punishment for admitting it or an adult at a party may have added something just o see what the fish will do. This kind of thing can be the devil to track down, and the influence will abate with time.

What ever you need to do, don't panic. Take things slowly and try to identify the cause of the problem. Your fish will allow you time to fix things. Should you be keeping marine fish, well, as I mentioned earlier, we are in a whole other ballpark there, and you may need to take more rapid action to avoid losing animals. Marine animals have less a tolerance for nitrate than freshwater do, and I would advise you to find a guru near you that can be of assistance. I'm not a marine person, nor do I play one on TV, and do not claim to have any special knowledge of marine topics.

Don't buy into any 'magic' cures for what ails your tank. They may do more harm than good.
Thank you for your patience reading this long, and somewhat involved post.

\\ Steve //

Here is a follow-up email from Steve to me.


I've been out of town since before you posted this, and have just returned today. I do need to emphasize that there are some fish, such as those of the _Apistogramma_genus (at least some have been placed in the _Microgeophagus_genus now, I think), that are fairly intolerant of nitrates of any level.

One needs to check the literature available on these, and any other species of fish to determine what levels of nitrate they can stand. I do not believe this was emphasized in my original post properly.

The original post was merely meant to ease some people's fears, and therefore need to do something immediately, about nitrate levels that may be considered to be too high. Rapid changes in water chemistry can be more dangerous to the fish than the condition you are trying to correct.

Generally, if the nitrates are out of whack, it did not happen overnight, but was a gradual rise over a period of time. The correction should lead to a gradual downward trend over time. If you are keeping fish that are sensitive to even minimal levels of nitrate, such as the rams mentioned above, you may need to react quickly to change the level, and try to save as many as you can, but generally, a slow and considered approach is best for all involved.

\\ Steve //

BIG THANKS to Steve for this long article on Nitrates and his follow-up clarification.

EDIT added August 23, 2009.

Here is another good article that I found after looking at a web page that file://steve// posted to the AquaticLife Yahoo Group, which further talks about the effects of nitrates on our fish.

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A to Z of Fish Keeping: "How-To", Training and Information for New Fish Keepers and Experts alike!


THE TOP TWO PROBLEMS FOR BEGINNERS - 1) OVERSTOCKING YOUR TANK and 2) THE NITROGEN CYCLE (Commonly called New Tank Syndrome). Scroll down a little for two free online fish keeping tutorials that will walk you through all of the basics and then there is also a free online beginner quiz to see how well you are doing.

Here are the answers to both of those problems:




This is one of my favorite places to send new fish keepers as they can learn about the various aspects of fish keeping by following all of the links in this tutorial. Pay particular attention to "The Nitrogen Cycle", "Fishless Cycling" (recommended), "Cycling With Fish"(not recommended but you may already be stuck with this) and Basic Water Chemistry but please read over all of the other links as well and feel free to ask lots of questions at the forums I have listed to the right, where you will usually find me or many other experienced fish keepers.

And if you want to learn even more, here is another tutorial site -

And if you feel you are doing well already, take this online quiz to see how you do.

If you have any questions, please feel free to look for me at the forums listed above.

(A little humor to help emphasize this very serious matter)

The old link was  but when AF changed to FishChannel, the old links no longer work.

FISHLESS CYCLING TIP!!! - I know a common complaint is people not being able to find the 10% Ammonia Hydroxide (clear ammonia) at their local stores but I recently saw online that Ace Hardware sells their own brand for around $2.00 a quart. Here's their online link to buy it by the case... but the stores sell individual units.

Another source of "ammonia", if you cannot find the plain ammonia at your local stores, is to look in the spice or baking section of your grocery store and get some Bicarbonate Of Ammonia or Powdered Baking Ammonia which can be used in place of the plain ammonia. This will also raise your alkalinity and KH but when you do your large water change after the fishless cycle is complete, you will get rid of the excess KH and nitrates at the same time.

THE NITROGEN CYCLE EXPLAINED - (In case you did not read the beginners tutorial above)

AMMONIA FURTHER EXPLAINED - (The beginning of "The Nitrogen Cycle") FAMA Article - Controlling Ammonia by Ben Helm For further information and a good CHART to show ammonia toxicity as it relates to pH levels, go here...

NITRITES FURTHER EXPLAINED - (The middle of "The Nitrogen Cycle")

NITRATES FURTHER EXPLAINED - (The end product of "The Nitrogen Cycle") and

FILTER MAINTENANCE AND CLEANING - (How to keep your tank from going into constant mini-cycles)

MASTER TEST KITS ON SALE FOR $12.99 AND UP - (Everybody needs a decent Master Test Kit)

WATER CHEMISTRY FURTHER EXPLAINED - This site is mostly about Pond Water Chemistry but it's just as applicable for aquariums and I believe it's well written and easy to understand.

FISH PROFILES AND COMPATIBILITY - (Mongabay has the best profiles and largest assortment. Very accurate and detailed species profiles for most fish so you can check out the type of fish you want while you are fishless cycling your new tank. Pay particular attention to the SC (Species Compatibility) section, which will help you in deciding suitable tank mates) MONGABAY -

Or GoldLenny's complete listing of Profile and Compatibility sites at:

HAILEY'S 10 GALLON STOCKING LIST - This is a list of suitable fish for a 10G tank and stocking/mixing recommendations. Updated to include Betta's in a 10G. (PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU CANNOT KEEP EVEN A SINGLE GOLDFISH IN A 10G TANK. SEE NEXT PARAGRAPH FOR GOLDFISH INFORMATION)





WHY YOU SHOULD NOT ADD SALT TO YOUR FRESHWATER AQUARIUM except for occasional treatment of disease, nitrite issues, etc. - (The Osmoregulatory System) - (Goldfish & Aquarium Board) forum thread on Calcium and the Osmoregulatory System. (GoldLenny) - LONG forum thread on the use of Salt, Chloride and other minerals/chemicals related to Salt & Osmoregulation in Koi/Goldfish. (GoldLenny)

GoldLenny's Complete List of Fish-Health related sites:

DICTIONARY: ACRONYMS, ABBREVIATIONS AND KEYWORDS COMMONLY USED IN FISH KEEPING - (To help you navigate the many acronyms and abbreviations used in these forums) or

POLL - Did your LFS or CS give you good advice... or NOT? (Actual POLL on new forums)

HOW LONG SHOULD FISH LIVE? An expected lifespan guide for fish keepers -

*** This list was compiled with the help of Hailey (Our forums most popular advisor and one of the most knowledgeable fish keepers out here on the net) and many, many others who have taught me over the years.

NOTICE TO OTHER READERS OR CONTRIBUTORS - This Blog article will continually be developed so please post links and threads in the comments section and I will update this article with credit given to you.

Once again, if you have any questions, please feel free to look for me at one of the three forums at the top of this article.


GoldLenny - FREE, secure, encrypted and automatic online backup of your documents and files. Check out how simple and secure it can be to use the Mozy backup system. It will back up your most important files, photos and folders... or your entire hard drive, every day/night (you set the schedule) while you aren't using your computer... and did I mention... it's FREE. I have been using this product/service since it was in Beta Testing and have been 100% satisfied with the final product!!!

Filter Maintenance And Cleaning Recommendations

PREFACE - This article is most important to new fish-keepers and for tanks that are less than six months old. It is during these early stages that proper filter maintenance is most critical since you are still growing a proper sized Nitrifying Bacteria (N-Bacteria) colony in your filter media and substrate. This article is also very important and applicable for tanks over six months old that have limited filtration or overstocking issues or if you are having water quality issues, algae problems, sick fish, etc.... (Edit added 11/14/2008 - ...and most importantly because of a recent funny post in the Ponds-Koi Yahoo Group by Bill Dowden, owner of so the following few paragraphs are about a Pond Filter but it's still applicable to ALL filters):



First of all, if a filter does not collect junk and clog, it isn't doing its job and working to get the junk out of the water.

Since IT'S ALL ABOUT WATER QUALITY, the filter is supposed to take organics out of the water to IMPROVE water quality. (Inorganics = rocks = really aren't a problem.)

If a filter catches organics and the filter is not clogged (yet) but also not cleaned - then the organics can dissolve and go back into the water in solution = LOWERING THE WATER QUALITY.

SO, the object of a good pond keeper is to IMPROVE water quality = clean the organics from ANY filter BEFORE they dissolve = every other day, every third day.......

Sorry for bringing reality into your lives....

I know everyone wants a filter that doesn't EVER need to be cleaned.

Imagine that the filter catches poop. So it is the fishes' toilet.

How often do you clean (flush) your toilet? Why? Why not the fishes' also.



Here is a good article about "The Nitrogen Cycle" to help you understand this entire "article" further if you do not know about the nitrogen cycle.

You should also have a Master Test Kit capable of testing ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and pH. Having GH and KH test kits are also encouraged in determining some basic water chemistry/quality issues. There are many other things going on in our tanks that we can not easily test for.
And now... onto the actual article...
If your new tank has a small HOB (hang on back filter system) and you were told to buy and replace your filter cartridge once a month... or every other week, then that may be what is causing you so many problems. You are potentially putting your tank into a new mini-cycle everytime you "clean" the filters or change them out for a new one. NEVER clean the filters in the normal sense of the word "clean". If you cleaned the filter media by running the filter under tap water, the chlorine/chloramine in the water could have killed your GOOD nitrifying bacteria in the filter and you will have to "cycle" your filter media again. This will probably put your tank into a new mini-cycle which means testing for ammonia and nitrites and doing PWC's to keep them at safe levels. This could take around two weeks but there is usually enough N-bacteria on other surface areas and in the gravel to keep major spikes in the ammonia or nitrites but most of the N-Bacteria live in the filter sponges, pads, etc. so cleaning/maintaining them should be done carefully.

All you should do is once a week or every other week, when you do your 25% PWC (partial water change), take some of the tank water in a bucket and then you can take your filter cartridge or media out of the holder and swoosh it around in the tank water and squeeze it out to remove the big stuff off of it. Then put it back in the holder and back in your filter system. If it's really clogged up with detritus, you could also squeez it several times in the removed tank water bucket. This will possibly squeeze out some of the good N-Bacteria but will usually leave enough to keep your tank safe. The N-Bacteria are capable of doubling their colony size every 24 hours so as long as you leave enough, the colony will grow back shortly. This "swooshing or squeezing in removed tank water" method keeps the GOOD bacteria alive on the filter so you do not cause your tank to "cycle" again.

I know the filter companies and some pet store employees tell you to replace it once a month but they are just trying to sell filters. That is one of the leading cause of problems... messing with the filters because the "instructions" say to do it.

It is important to clean your filters regularly so you do not have excess detritus building up in them. Detritus in your filter media, when it starts breaking down, becomes a nitrate factory which goes into your water column as the tank water is filtered through it. Nitrates and phosphates feed algae blooms. Just like vacuuming your gravel to remove excess detritus before it breaks down, cleaning the filters often will also keep the nitrates much lower. I guess if you do frequent PWC's, that would substitute for keeping the filters cleaner but if you cleaned your filters before they become completely clogged, it would make the water quality even better between PWC's. Further, the bacteria that is consuming and breaking down the detritus use up a lot of O2 and KH and put out a lot of CO2. The higher CO2 further feeds algae growth and lowers your pH. The loss of KH can cause your pH to crash putting your fish into pH shock.

Here are two of my "Filter Profile" articles so you can see exactly how I clean and maintain two of my six filter systems.

Filter Profile - Marineland Penguin 200 Bio-Wheel

Filter Profile - Rena Filstar xP1 Canister

Here are some articles that I contributed to or did photo-documentation on at forums, which has some more information on various filter systems including some photos from me and others.

HOB's (Hang On Back Filter Systems - Power Filters and Bio-Wheel Systems) -
If you have a HOB filter system, you should really only clean the filter cartridge if the flow rate slows down or it's backing up back into the tank via the overflow outlet. But do NOT go more than a month between doing maintenance on any of your filters as they will build up a lot of detritus which will start to decay and possibly cause your nitrates to start climbing quickly. I just do the swoosh and/or squeeze method once a week with my 25% PWC and never have the problem. Don't worry.. most of us learned the hard way in the beginning.

Another thing if you have an HOB... is after you swoosh/squeeze the filter media/cartridge and have it ready to put back in the holder, dump the water out of the HOB reservoir as it will have some "big stuff" in there as well. Then put your filter back in the HOB, dip a few cups of water out of your tank to fill the HOB reservoir and then plug it back in.

If your HOB also has a Bio-Wheel, then you could technically change out the cartridge instead of using the swoosh/squeeze method since the actual Bio-Wheel would house sufficient numbers of N-Bacteria so that you would not cause a mini-cycle. The inventors of this system created it for that reason... so they could sell you lots of filter cartridges and encourage you to change them without causing harm to your fish. I still don't think it's necessary but if you find it simpler to change the cartridge every few weeks and don't mind the expense, then that is a choice that is available to you.

One last tip... if your "biobag" filters or filter cartridges have carbon in them, you can dump the carbon out after a few weeks since it has lost its effectiveness by then. This will also improve the flow rate through the "empty" biobag/cartridge as well. Some companies try to prevent you from emptying the carbon by sealing it inside of the plastic housing of the cartridge frame. I have been successful with doing "surgery" on the section holding the old carbon to open it up and dump the carbon while keeping the frame and floss/poly pad for reuse. The floss/poly pad or sponge material in the biobag/cartridge should last over a year but in the event you do decide you want to change your biobag/cartridge, put the new one in the reservoir for 2 weeks so it builds up a good bacteria colony. Then on your next PWC, you can trash the old one, swoosh the new one and then put in in the holder. It's not really necessary to change them very often... at least not until they look like they are about to fall apart. I have the same filter cartridges on my HOB's and they are all over a year old. (More about carbon below)

As far as a canister filter, I have four different phases of mixed mechanical/biological filtration in my canister filter system. I have a large sponge block with large pores, then a smaller sponge block with smaller pores, then even a smaller pore sponge and then a filter floss pad. I do maintenance on my canister twice a month or if I notice the flow rate slowing down. At the beginning of the month, I leave the sponges alone and clean the floss pad real good.. even running it under hot faucet water until it's white again. In the middle of the month, I squeeze the sponges to clean them and get the big stuff out of them but I don't run them under hot faucet water. This keeps a big portion of the nitrifying bacteria alive with each filter "cleaning" so I never have a problem with a mini-cycle. I also have two filters running on each of my tanks so I alternate the maintenance on them from week to week so I have at least one fully cycled filter running at all times. If you have a large enough canister filter, you can also add a more permanent biological filtration media. With this type of product, you would have it as one of the last phases of filtration and you would not do anything to this media other than a simple rinse in removed tank water to get any buildup off of it. There are many products sold that are excellent biological filtration but if you are not overstocked, your regular sponges and polypads will be sufficient surface area for the N-bacteria colonies. I do not have the "extra" biological filter media in any of my filters.


Sponge filter cleaning should be treated similar to cleaning the sponges in canister filters but obviously on a much smaller scale. The safest thing to do would be to squeeze the sponge in some removed tank water to remove the detritus from the sponge but keeping the majority of the N-Bacteria alive on the cell walls of the sponge. Then replace it and you are good to go!

If you have more than one filter system on your tank, then you could do alternating filter cleaning or changing and more thoroughly cleaning the filters since the other one will still be fully cycled. I do this on my Goldfish/Pleco tank since they are such big waste producers. I alternate between the two filter systems and clean 1/2 the filter media every two weeks. This means that I am only doing a good cleaning on 1/4th of my overall filter media volume and one of the filter systems does not even get touched every other week.

UGF's (Under Gravel Filters) -
These systems are not as common any more but some forum polls show up to 40% of fish keepers still use UGF's on some of their tanks.

There is also a reverse flow UGF that is making a comeback in the industry. I am thinking about trying this system if I ever have to breakdown my Goldfish/Pleco tank. The purpose of the reverse flow UGF is to push water up through the gravel which raises the detritus into the water column to be sucked into the intake and filtered out of the water before the "clean" water is returned to the tank through the gravel. This could save time in gravel vacuuming since it would not have to be done very often with this type of system but it does not work for planted tanks where the plants with a normal substrate. It would work if the plants are containerized plants.

The main thing with a regular UGF, that sucks the water down through the gravel (so it's not as good for a planted tank either), is to properly maintain them by vacuuming the gravel really good with the vacuum tube pushed down through the gravel to the UGF plate and make sure you suck up all of the detritus/mulm that gets caught between the gravel/plate/bottom.

Many of the older UGF filters on smaller tanks were under-powered with only an airline bubbler to power the up-tube siphon and these did not create enough suction which allowed excess mulm to build up under the gravel and UGF plates. Modern UGF's are powered by power heads, canister filters or HOB power filters which help eliminate the danger of mulm buildup but the gravel should still be vacuumed well all the way down to the UGF plate to make sure the excess mulm and detritus are removed.

If I was to use a UGF, I would also modify it in a couple of ways. I would make the holes in the UGF plate larger at the furthest points from the uplift tube so they get more water circulating from those furthest points to help eliminate the likelihood of mulm buildup. I would also add a box trickle filter of some sort so the returning water would flow through that trickle filter before returning to the water column.

Here's a forum thread about what happened to someone when they tried to "clean" or replace their UGF... and some "scientific" info about what is in the mulm...

Here are several sites on UGF maintenance & cleaning: (page one of two) (page two of two) (no longer working) (no longer working)


As you may have noticed, I do not mention keeping carbon in my filter systems. Most experience freshwater fish keepers aren't keeping activated carbon in their filters anymore and rely on more frequent PWC's to keep the water quality in good condition. It's just another thing that the filter people are trying to sell you to keep revenue pouring in... pardon the pun. I haven't had any activated carbon in any of my four filter systems on two tanks for over two years and all of my fish are fine. I do keep some around in case of an emergency or if I need to filter some medicine out of one of my tanks but other than that, it sits in the closet. Of course, I am vigilant about doing weekly 25% PWC's so I am removing any organic buildup that some people may rely on carbon to remove. Also, most carbon products available to consumers will leach phosphates into your tank, which can cause algae problems... and some carbon products have been reported to actually leach the chemicals they had previously absorbed which can cause other health problems.

If your filter cartridges have the activated carbon sealed up inside of a plastic housing, it might take some minor "surgery" to open the plastic housing up so you can dump out the carbon. I have done this to several different manufacturers cartridges so I think it's possible with any of them. This way, you still have the plastic frame and floss/sponge material that can be re-used many, many times using the swooshing method above. It's better for your fish and your wallet.

If you have juvenile fish in your tank(s), then running carbon or Purigen is encourage to help remove the hormone buildup which can lead to stunting and health issues. Remember carbon should probably be changed every two weeks. I am now using Purigen in my tanks since it is better than carbon and is rechargeable so it costs less.

I've been reading more and more about a product from Seachem, called Purigen, which is a rechargeable granular additive that can be used in filter systems and from what I've been reading on forum threads, it does work as advertised. It's not like zeolite which can starve your N-bacteria colonies. This product is more like activated carbon but is advertised to work 500% better than activated carbon. Since it is rechargeable and actually filters organic compounds better and LASTS LONGER than carbon, I'm not opposed to using a product like this and may actually try it soon.

Here is the manufacturer's webpage and information:

Purigen™ is a premium synthetic adsorbent that is unlike any other filtration product. It is not a mixture of ion exchangers or adsorbents, but a unique macro-porous synthetic polymer that removes soluble and insoluble impurities from water at a rate and capacity that exceeds all others by over 500%. Purigen™ controls ammonia, nitrites and nitrates by removing nitrogenous organic waste that would otherwise release these harmful compounds. Purigen’s™ impact on trace elements is minimal. It significantly raises redox. It polishes water to unparalleled clarity. Purigen™ darkens progressively as it exhausts, and is easily renewed by treating with bleach. Purigen™ is designed for both marine and freshwater use. This product is sold by volume. Cited weight is minimal weight.

Directions: Rinse before use. Use in a fine mesh filter bag. Each 1 L treats up to 4,000 L (1,000 gallons*) for up to six months. Exhaustion is indicated by a pronounced discoloration of the beads to dark brown or black.

Regeneration: Soak in a 1:1 bleach:water solution for 24 hours in a non-metalic container in a well ventilated area and away from children. Rinse well, then soak for 8 hours with a solution containing 2 tablespoons of ChlorGuard™, Prime™, or equivalent dechlorinator per cup of water. Rinse well. For freshwater use, soak for 4 hours with a solution containing 1 tablespoon of buffer per cup of water (Discus Buffer™, Neutral Regulator™, or Acid Buffer™). Original color and full activity should now be restored and Purigen™ is ready for reuse. Caution: some slime coat products may permanently foul Purigen™ and render regeneration difficult. Do not reuse if odor of chlorine is detectable. In case of doubt, soak beads in small quantity of water and test for residual chlorine with a chlorine test kit.

Purigen FAQ's -
Purigen MSDS (Manufacturer's Safety Data Sheet)(pdf) -

GoldLenny replies:
I like how it changes color (darkens) as it gets dirty so you can tell when it's time to regenerate/recharge, or replace if you don't mind the extra expense. This is something carbon has lacked and what led to so many fish keepers not using it. The Purigen "regeneration" process isn't easy and since it uses Bleach, it must be done properly and carefully... including RINSING IT WELL, then the 8 hour soak in the dechlor solution and 4 hour soak in a "buffer" (for FW users) . From what I've been reading in forums, it's best to have two mesh bags working so that you can exchange them and then properly regenerate and rinse the "dirty" Purigen and then put the "cleaned" Purigen on the side for the next change. A 100ml package should be enough Purigen to make two mesh bags for a 50G aquarium.

Yahoo Shopping Search -prices for Purigen... lowest price (on this date) was $5.89 for 100ml package (treats 100G for up to 6 months) - has Purigen for $6.29 for the 100ml package or $12.59 for the 250ml package and their retail stores will match the online price if you bring the printed page. The 100ml package comes in a media bag already where the 250ml package is in bulk form so you would have to purchase media bags also. Here is the Purigen page as a TinyURL link...

Zeolite is a white granular product that many consumers are often sold as a solution to ammonia issues in their tanks. While it does absorb ammonia, it gives you a false sense of security as it will "fill up" and then quit absorbing ammonia causing ammonia spikes in your tanks. If you did not use zeolite, you would have built up a proper sized N-Bacteria colony in your filter media which would have taken care of any potential ammonia issues. Further, when people get ammonia spikes, they are shortly followed by nitrite spikes. Then they are told to add salt to the tank to keep the fish from getting nitrite poisoning. The problem with this is that salt will cause zeolite to release ALL of the absorbed ammonia causing the ammonia level to spike even higher. Once again, it's a product that I keep on hand in case of emergencies... like when I went 15 days with no power after Hurricane Katrina, but it's not something I run in my filters on a normal basis.
I've been learning a lot more about hormone issues that happen in overstocked or undersized tanks. In various fishery related studies, it has been reported that your fish release a hormone into the water column and when this hormone level reaches a certain point, the fish begin to get stressed and stunting issues start to develop. Stress leads to immune system issues and fish start to get sick. The best way to solve this problem is to NOT overstock your tank or have fish that are supposed to get BIG in a small tank. If you are stuck with this problem, then doing frequent PWC's (sometimes daily, depending on your situation), will reduce these hormone levels. It is also reported that products like carbon and more advanced chemical filtration products like Purigen, will remove some or all of these hormones but this needs further research. The best and simplest solution to removing these hormone levels is through frequent PWC's.
In conclusion:
There's a saying... "Dilution is the solution to pollution"... which certainly holds true in the fish keeping hobby. Fresh, clean and frequent PWC's (partial water changes) will do more to keeping your fish healthy than anything else out there.

I hope this helps save a few fish!

GoldLenny - FREE, secure, encrypted and automatic online backup of your documents and files. Check out how simple and secure it can be to use the Mozy backup system. It will back up your most important files, photos and folders... or your entire hard drive, every day/night (you set the schedule) while you aren't using your computer... and did I mention... it's FREE. I have been using this product/service since it was in Beta Testing and have been 100% satisfied with the final product!!!


Mahstah posted:

"If your filter cartridges have the activated carbon sealed up inside of a plastic housing, it might take some minor "surgery" to open the plastic housing up so you can dump out the carbon. I have done this to several different manufacturers cartridges so I think it's possible with any of them. This way, you still have the plastic frame and floss/sponge material that can be re-used many, many times using the swooshing method above. It's better for your fish and your wallet."

Hi goldlenny-

Do you suggest NOT using carbon filters unless one wants to remove chemicals (malachite green or algae killer)? Is the carbon filter not needed because the good bacteria can fully take care of the ammonia?


Hailey's Reply:

Carbon does not remove ammonia at all (or at least if it does, it is an immeasurable amount). I don't believe there is any reason to run carbon on an aquarium unless trying to remove a chemical like medication. It takes trace elements out of the water that fish need, it stops working fast, and worse yet, after it stops working it may leech the chemicals back into the water.

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BadSaturn3 posted:

I am a little new to Aquariums. I was wondering about filter care on a Bio-Wheel. Thank You very much.

GoldLenny's reply:

I need to update that article to include Bio-Wheels since they are gaining favor.

Basically, you would NEVER do anything to the Bio-Wheel, itself. If you are going to have the power off for very long, take it off and float it in your tank or in some removed tank water, to keep it wet so the N-bacteria in the actual wheel do not die off.

Marineland, also the inventors of Bio-Spira, came up with the Bio-Wheel idea... mainly as a way of selling filter cartridges since "now" you can change out their skimpy filter cartridges every two to four weeks without killing off your N-bacteria colony.... since they live mostly in the Bio-Wheel.

I have a Bio-Wheel 200, as the secondary filter system on my 65G Goldfish and Pleco tank and all I did after the first two weeks, is I used a razor knife to cut three sides of the black plastic slotted section and dumped the charcoal out. I added a piece of poly pad filter material into that square and put the cartridge back in the holder. Then I just do the filter maintenance as described in the article as needed. It's the same filter cartridge that came with the system many months ago. I also rolled up a 2" piece of poly pad, like a cigar, and put it in the little semi-circle overflow cut-out next to the intake tube. This forces the water through the filter, or over the top of the filter cartridge, when it starts to get clogged... but at least it keeps the Bio-Wheel spinning. I've found that if the water starts to back-up out of the overflow cut-out, then not much water goes through the filter and the bio-wheel does not spin properly, which could cause it to dry out and you would lose much of your N-Bacteria colony.

Thanks for asking about the Bio-Wheel systems.


By rbishop on 05-05-2007, 06:40 PM ( This comment was added to my published article on )
Well, it is probably semantics, but..UGFs...I think they are more popular than most folks think. Most any site I go to that has a poll, 40% of the respondents are still using them.
I still see folks claiming (repeating) that they clog up. I have never seen this to be the case in my experience, but feel those who fail to properly maintain them, could have an issue.
I believe RUGF are a great step forward in filtration, pushing the debri into the water column for removal by other power filters. This is extremely useful in high bioload tanks.In either case, there is no beating utilizing the entire surface area of the substrate as a bio filter. A lot of people and filter manufacturers talk about all the surface area their external filters create, but never acknowledge that your bacteria is only equal to your bio-load. I can run my UGF/RUGfs, and completely bust out any other filter to ground zero without any spikes or many cycles. That tells me the substrate alone holds enough surface area to maintain my tank.
Canisters..Kind of like above, the ability to put in multiple forms of media is vastly over rated. So many of us push letting your fish adjust to your normal parameters and then recommend filters that have the ability for 15 dozen medias. If you have a solid water problem and need to buffer, fine; or to create some conditions for spawning with peat or other products, they are nice. But to spend big bucks on some of the canisters out there is a waste, when a simple Mag 350 will suffice, by 10 fold. Or put the bucks into a small wet/dry. When run in parallel with a RUFG, there is no need for the fancy, high dollar canisters.
Carbon...This is a tricky one. To start, let me say, I run carbon in all my filters. Shock! $$$$ But I have clarity that is unachievable any other way.
The general theory is that a water change will do you just as well. I tend to disagree. If your water has impurities and discoloration, adding more of the same water doesn't make things better.
Also, carbon removes impurities we can not see and we can not test for. The nitrate test are an easy and conveinient method, but don't reflect other TDS DOCs we need to remove. Much as we have carbon filters on our drinking water systems. We can't see the difference, we don't test for it, but lab results show different. It is true that most cartridges have a poor quality and lack ample volume to be effective, but that shouldn't dissuade use of it.
Fish produce the growth inhibiting hormone for their full life span. Carbon should be used the full time for ultimate growth. The removal of impurities is a chemical/ionic bond. You can not release back into the water unless you heat to about 2400 degrees F.
Just my thoughts and experiences. I think we need to look at pros and cons, but not rule out a filtration method directly. Individual applications create the need for flexibility.
GoldLenny replies:
Thanks for your comments.
GoldLenny - FREE, secure, encrypted and automatic online backup of your documents and files. Check out how simple and secure it can be to use the Mozy backup system. It will back up your most important files, photos and folders... or your entire hard drive, every day/night (you set the schedule) while you aren't using your computer... and did I mention... it's FREE. I have been using this product/service since it was in Beta Testing and have been 100% satisfied with the final product!!!

Last edited on November 14, 2008
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