Aquarium Aquaria – All You Need o know


Aquarium surface area is important. This will contribute to providing superior oxygenation and facilitate the creation of an attractive aquatic theme. Height also needs to be considered. Marine and fresh water environments can benefit from taller aquariums, which can provide superior conditions for certain species of fish and plants.


Generally, a complete aquarium set-up will weigh approximately 10 pounds per gallon. It is important to use a proper aquarium stand or cabinet and to verify that the floor is capable of supporting it. Due to the weight of a finished aquarium set-up, it is not recommended to place it on household furniture.

The Right Size

The size of aquarium is often limited to the space available. In general, select the largest size of aquarium that space, location and budget will allow. This will provide many benefits, such as a more stable aquatic environment, greater choice of fish and plants and an enhanced aesthetic value.

Type of Aquarium

Two basic materials are used for aquarium construction, glass and acrylic. Glass is preferable due to reasonable cost and superior ability to resist scratches and discoloration.

Aquarium Location

Choose an area in your home where you can best enjoy the beauty and serenity of your new aquarium. Avoid placing your aquarium near windows, heating and cooling ducts. A member of the Scombridae family of tuna and mackerel, the albacore is an excellent light-tackle gamefish. It is called true albacore in some places, not to be confused with false albacore or little tunny (see). Direct sunlight and temperature changes can negatively affect your aquarium. Overexposure to sunlight can lead to rapid algae growth in and on your tank, plants and decorations. Rapid temperature variations are harmful to fish. It is also recommended to avoid areas of high household traffic to prevent accidental contact with your set-up. A conveniently located, grounded electrical receptacle is important for heater, canopy and filtration components. Under no circumstances should any household electrical appliances be placed under or in close proximity to your aquarium.

Aquarium Preparations

Gently wipe down the aquarium using wet filter wool or a clean damp cloth and rinse with lukewarm water to clean your aquarium before filling. Never use a commercial glass cleaner,
detergent or chemical cleanser to clean inner or outer aquarium glass. Never use a bucket that has been exposed to soap, detergent or any chemicals to transport water for your aquarium.

Canopies & Hoods

A canopy is useful to prevent water evaporation and provide lighting. Rapid water evaporation results in a lower water level that may damage filters and heaters. It also causes a build-up of
carbonates and minerals (water hardness) as water evaporates and minerals remain in the aquarium. An aquarium cover also prevents contaminants from getting into the aquarium. In addition, a canopy will stop fish from jumping out of the aquarium. A completely closed cover has also been shown to be a major factor in maintaining aquarium temperature and keeping electricity costs down.

Aquarium Cabinets & Stands

It is strongly recommended to place your tank on a stand or cabinet designed for that purpose. Proper support for the aquarium is essential at all four corners to prevent stress along the length of the sides. It is extremely important to verify that the stand is level as uneven surfaces or an unsuitable stand can cause a stress facture in the aquarium, breaking the glass.

Remember: an aquarium weighs approximately 10 pounds per gallon, therefore the stand needs to be solid and level to prevent breakage of the aquarium.


The key to a clean, healthy, thriving aquarium is filtration. In most aquariums the number of fish, plants, corals and invertebrates, in relation to water volume, exceeds what would typically be found in nature. It is essential that the biological waste produced by aquarium inhabitants be removed and metabolized before becoming toxic. Aquarium filters are available in various configurations and should provide mechanical, biological and chemical filtration, as well as oxygenation.

Mechanical Filtration

An essential form of filtration, it involves the removal of particulate waste from the water. Most filter media serve to mechanically filter the water to some degree. Mechanical filter media, which is very fine, will trap greater quantities of debris and plug more rapidly. To properly exploit the advantages of mechanical filtration, regularly remove accumulated debris. This will help support superior oxygen levels, stable water conditions and reduce nitrate accumulations.

Chemical Filtration

The active control and change of specific water characteristics. Filter media and various products exist that clarify water, eliminate odor, remove chlorine, eliminate medications after disease treatments, neutralize heavy metal ions and effect changes in hardness and pH levels. This form of filtration is particularly useful when the characteristics of source water (eg: tap water) are known (easily achieved through the use of basic test kits). Specific chemical filter media should be used to optimize water conditions for various groups of fish and plants. This will ensure that fish and plants will look their best and stay healthy.

Biological Filtration

Biological purification of water is accomplished by various beneficial strains of bacteria. Several important sources of waste exist in most aquariums. Fish generate nitrogenous waste as they breathe and excrete organic matter. Plants shed leaves as they grow. Various invertebrates, including corals, also shed organic waste. Beneficial bacteria known as Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter, often referred to as nitrifying bacteria, are aerobic and prefer sites within the aquarium that offer superior oxygen levels. Filter systems equipped with efficient biological filter media, such as Bio Max, provide these beneficial bacteria with the perfect environment. The incoming water is pre-filtered with mechanical filter media providing nitrifying bacteria with clean surfaces and a constant delivery of oxygen. Nitrifying bacteria utilize two very toxic nitrogenous compounds, ammonia and nitrite, as an energy source, and produce nitrate, a relatively harmless byproduct. Nitrate (NO3) is easily controlled through regular water changes and can be used by plants as a food source (ammonium (NH4 +)).

Nitrogen Cycle

The Nitrogen Cycle refers to the conversion of toxic nitrogenous compounds, ammonia and nitrite to nitrate. Ammonia and Nitrite are more likely to reach toxic levels when first starting an aquarium, or if certain events take place which eliminate or reduce beneficial nitrifying bacteria, such as disease treatments, filter maintenance or prolonged power failures. Bacteria take time to establish themselves. Nitrifying bacteria reproduce every eight hours. The initial nitrifying bacteria to populate tend to be Nitrosomonas, which convert ammonia to nitrite. This takes approximately ten days, if the aquarium is not supplemented with Nutrafin Cycle. The levels of ammonia during this stage are often toxic and fish populations should consist of a few very hardy species. Additional water changes are recommended, always ensuring that pH levels are not increased (to avoid increasing the toxic ammonia component). The use of Nutrafin Cycle is highly recommended to introduce significant quantities of ideal bacterial strains, critical for rapid biological establishment and purification.

The second group of nitrifying bacteria to populate are those of Nitrobacter, which convert nitrite to nitrate. This period takes up to approximately twenty-one days, after which nitrite should be almost gone if the aquarium is not supplemented with Nutrafin Cycle. During this phase, it is highly beneficial to perform additional partial water changes. Nitrite is also a very toxic compound. When present in high enough concentrations, it is lethal and can affect the red blood cells of fish. Should nitrite levels persist for more than twenty-one days, additional partial water changes should be performed, along with supplemental doses of Nutrafin Cycle. It is important to understand that water chemistry, temperature, pollutants and other factors can affect the performance of nitrifying bacteria. Maintaining stable temperature, pH and water quality is important for all tank inhabitants, even for those that are invisible to the human eye, specifically, bacteria. Although ammonia and nitrite readings may be zero, after approximately one month, the aquarium has not reached full biological stability.

For new aquariums, ensure the following:

• Avoid overfeeding (2 feedings daily, amount consumed in 2 minutes).
• Regular testing of Ammonia, Nitrite, & pH.
• Stock the aquarium slowly (over a 3 to 4 month period).
• Regular removal of organic debris (dead plant leaves, etc.).
• Use Nutrafin Aqua Plus with all water changes (eliminates toxic elements and reduces stress).
• Regular dosage of Nutrafin Cycle (builds and maintains superior biological filtration).

Superior Biological Filtration through Bacterial Supplementation

The aquarium is a closed system, unlike many natural bodies of water which receive constant fresh water from environmental processes. Aquarists should include regular filter maintenance, partial water changes and regular supplementation of optimal bacteria to ensure superior water quality.

Nutrafin Cycle incorporates 5 strains of bacteria at extremely high concentrations to provide aquariums with unique advantages. Inoculating the aquarium with nature’s most efficient strains of beneficial bacteria on a weekly basis will not only benefit water quality, but also promote the dominance of these particular strains. One of the additional advantages is a concept termed competitive exclusion, a situation where the most abundant bacteria prevent the establishment of other potentially undesirable strains. The 5 strains of bacteria have been carefully selected to function as a team. Some are responsible for breaking down organic waste from fish and plants, and some convert the resulting byproducts to harmless compounds that are recycled by plants and diluted through regular partial water changes.


oxygenationThis process takes place at the water surface, the interface between water and air. The most efficient way to increase oxygen levels in water is to move and agitate the surface (without causing stress to aquarium inhabitants). The greater the surface movement, the greater the oxygenation rate. Symptoms of oxygen deficiency sometimes occur in heavily stocked aquariums and are demonstrated by fish exhibiting exaggerated and rapid gill movement. It is important to note that temperature is also a factor. Higher temperatures result in lower dissolved oxygen levels. Planted aquariums should have gentle surface movement. This will reduce carbon dioxide loss, a key element of photosynthesis for plants. Power filters and powerheads are much more efficient in oxygenation versus air pumps, because of greater water movement over a much larger water surface area.


These highly versatile, submersible pumps are energy efficient and can be used in numerous applications. AquaClear Powerheads are designed with multiple features to provide optimal
performance for most installations. They can be used to:
• Drive protein skimmers and wet/dry filters.
• Drive undergravel filters (provide superior flow rates through gravel bed).
• Mix and prepare water for partial water changes (ideal for mixing salt water).
• Provide current for reef tanks and other applications (easy to hide in rock structure).
• Attach to Quick Filters for additional chemical and/or mechanical filtration (ideal for
clearing cloudy water in combination with Nutrafin P-Clear).
• Increase oxygen level (position output to move water surface).
• Back-flushing of gravel for maintenance (50 and 70 models only).

Powerheads provide a superior method of driving undergravel filters, helping to improve biological filtration efficiency through optimal flow rates and greater oxygen levels.
AquaClear Powerheads require little maintenance other than periodic cleaning of the impeller and its housing, providing trouble free long-term performance.

Air Pumps

Air pumps are versatile devices which can be used for a variety of purposes in aquariums. They are used to power inside box filters, sponge filters, undergravel filters, airstones, aerating
ornaments, and provide oxygenation by moving water to the surface. It is important to understand that a pump introduces ambient air into the aquarium. Consider any sources of airborne pollutants to be potentially harmful. To obtain maximum longevity and performance from your air pump, avoid restricting a pump’s output. Use a gang valve which provides one more outlet than the objects to be driven. This can allow extra output to be vented, and back pressure will be avoided. When using airstones, it is recommended to replace them on a regular basis, which will prevent unnecessary back pressure. Always use a check valve to prevent any water from back siphoning into the air pump. Periodically verify that it functions correctly and replace if necessary. The Elite series of air pumps combine high performance output with quiet operation.

Internal Filters

An internal filter provides easy, convenient filtration and offers a variety of application possibilities:
• Vertical or horizontal filter placement
• Can be used to create waterfalls in turtle and reptile tanks
• Supplemental filtration for many different set-ups
• Useful for creating extra currents in reef tanks
• Driving ultra-violet sterilizers
• Providing filtration when external filters cannot be installed

The Fluval Underwater Filters are optimal water filtration systems that have the capacity to independently filter aquariums up to 57 U.S. gal. (215 L) capacity. The Fluval “Plus” underwater filters feature a clogging indicator, allowing visual indication of when maintenance is required. The convenient dual cartridge design allows alternate replacement for uninterrupted biological filtration as well as prolonged maintenance intervals. There is also additional area for optional media such as polyester filter pads or carbon filter pads. Another internal filter system to consider is the line of ELITE Stingray Underwater Filters. These filters combine style with silent performance. They provide mechanical, chemical and biological filtration.

External Filter Systems

These systems represent a common choice for most aquarium keepers. The general principle of operation involves the intake of aquarium water via a siphon that results in filtration through one or more filter media. The return flow is directed at the surface to provide oxygenation. There are various configurations of external filter systems. An important feature is that it should be able to mechanically, biologically and chemically filter water. In order to achieve maximum effect from filter media, it is important to select a design that maximizes contact time. This is easily evaluated when observing how and where water flow is directed within the filter.

Fresh water aquariums generally require a minimum aquarium water volume turnover rate of approximately four times an hour. Marine aquariums usually do best with water turnover rates of 7 to 10 times per hour. Exceptions do exist with respect to the livestock being kept. In general, it is best to select a system(s) which provides somewhat more than the minimum rate. This will help compensate for declining flow rates as the filter system accumulates debris.

Clip-On Power Filters

A common type of filter system that conveniently hangs on the rear of an aquarium, efficiently filtering and oxygenating, providing easy access for maintenance. There are two basic types of systems, one employing a cartridge design, the other with a media compartment designed to accept multiple filter media. Systems which allow greater filter media choices generally offer more complete and versatile filtration.

Canister Filters

These filtration systems offer the following advantages:
• Greater volume of filter media
• Greater variety of filter media
• Superior contact time of aquarium water with filter media
• Filter placement flexibility
• Superior biological capacity, can support higher fish populations
• Longer periods between maintenance
• Easy connection to additional filtration and water treatment devices, such as the Fluval Surface Skimmer
• Easy priming


Factors that influence the type and quantity of light required for your set-up include:
Size of aquariumFish species and other aquatic inhabitantsPlant lifeAesthetics

Fluorescent lighting is an efficient, effective choice for many aquariums. It evenly illuminates the full length of the aquarium and efficiently converts energy consumed into light. The complete line of Glo Fluorescent Bulbs provides fresh water and marine aquariums with lighting which will stimulate photosynthesis, while contributing to a beautiful aquarium display.
Fluorescent lighting is currently available in various formats, including Power Compact, T5, and T5HO (high output). These fluorescents can produce intense light levels from compact dimensions and offer excellent spectral qualities, all of which combine to deliver superior plant and coral growth as well as enhanced aesthetics. Incandescent lighting is available but does not offer the same aesthetic or efficiency value of fluorescent lighting. When deciding on how much light to provide, a range of 1 to 3 watts per gallon will provide most fresh water aquariums with optimal plant growth and visual presentation. Marine reef aquariums will sometimes require greater quantities of light to support the growth of certain coral species. When using the watts per gallon rule, a deduction of 10 to 15% of volume should be included to account for water displacement due to aquarium contents.

Waterhome canopies are available in single and double bulb configurations, equipped with high efficiency reflectors that maximize light emission. Revolutionary features of this lighting system include an anti-capillary barrier that prevents water seepage, water proof light bulb sockets, and a sleek, modern look. Elite canopies feature power compact fluorescent lighting. Well known for intense light levels, this type of illumination can accentuate a wide variety of aquarium set-ups.

How to Maximize Efficiency of Fluorescent Lighting

• Keep any glass between bulb and water surface free of algae and mineral deposits.
• Clean the bulb surface weekly (with damp soft sponge).
• If bulbs or lenses accumulate mineral deposits, clean with a mild acid.
• In situations requiring higher light intensities, it is recommended to line fluorescent fixtures with a reflector.
• Replace fluorescent tubes annually, for maximum efficiency.
• Make note of installation date of fluorescent bulbs.
• Combine different tubes for certain specialty applications to maximize spectral representation.
• Use electronic ballast(s) when possible.
• Avoid turning lights on and off unnecessarily.

Lighting Tips

• Most plants require approximately 12 hours per day of light from a fluorescent fixture.
• Sudden changes in light may stress fish. When turning canopy lights on or off, it is beneficial to have room lights on for at least 30 minutes.
• Fish fed during the day should be allowed 30 minutes of light before and after feeding.
• Use timers when possible. Plants and fish will respond better to consistent lighting periods.
• Plants and fish will adapt to gradual light changes. When changing bulbs in a multiple bulb installation, change 1 to 2 weeks apart.
• A remote ballast should be mounted in an area where there is adequate ventilation to efficiently dissipate heat. This is especially important in ballast types that generate more heat.
• Electrical wiring leading to the ballast should always incorporate a drip loop.
• Consider a GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) power bar as an inexpensive insurance to avoid unpleasant circumstances surrounding any potential electrical mishaps.
• Do not leave lights on 24 hours a day. As in nature, fish and plants require dark periods as well.

Creating the aquatic Environment

Community Aquariums

Community AquariumsThis broad classification of aquarium generally refers to a mix of fish and plants originating from different geographical areas, with emphasis placed on color and hardiness. This type of aquarium can be very successful if it follows basic rules for compatibility of its inhabitants with respect to temperature, water chemistry, aquarium size, and character.
For example, various species of gouramis, tetras, and rasboras could be combined with a selection of hardy aquatic plants such as Hygrophila difformis, Hygrophila polysperma, and Vallisneria spiralis. A piece or two of root wood and some smooth pebbles would complete the decor, along with gravel at a 2 to 3 inch depth and a diameter of 2 to 5 mm.

Goldfish Aquariums

Goldfish AquariumsThe bright colors of goldfish make for an attractive display and often are a first choice for many beginners. A combination of Ryunkins and Lionheads, Pearlscaper plastic plants, black gravel, and grey and white granite stones represents a combination which would attractively contrast with the vivid colors of goldfish.

African Cichlid Aquariums

African Cichlid AquariumsThe most common African Cichlid aquariums consist of either Lake Tanganyika or Lake Malawi cichlids. It is suggested not to mix these two groups together due to character and dietary differences. Both types of set-ups would generally consist of large quantities of rockwork combined with a fine substrate, gravel or sand.
These fish dig, so careful attention should be paid to setting up rocks, to avoid possible collapses. Plastic plants can be used or live plants such as species of Vallisneria and/or Anubias can be attempted.

Planted Aquariums

Planted AquariumsThis type of aquarium features emphasis on plants and limited fish populations. An example of a plant tank could feature a backdrop of large groupings of faster growing species, such as species of Hygrophila, Limnophila, Rotala, Vallisneria, with an Echinodorus species in the middle and groupings of Cryptocorynes in the foreground. The gravel would be a 2 to 5 mm diameter at an average depth of 2-3 inches. Other decor is limited due to the space requirement of the plants and is usually limited to a piece or two of driftwood. Typical choices for fish could be smaller tetras or rasboras and some angelfish. It would also be suggested in this type of set-up to include some algae controlling species of fish, such as Siamese Flying Fox. Lighting, CO2 injection, fertilization, and attention to appropriate filtration media are important details.



rocksRocks and gravel sold for aquarium use are generally safe and relatively non-reactive. When natural aquarium gravel and rocks are used, it is recommended to use test kits, pH adjustment products and appropriate filter media to achieve and maintain desired water conditions. When decorating with rocks, make sure any structures created are stable and will not collapse. It is also recommended to use only one or two types of rock and create groupings. This will lend a natural look to the set-up. Smooth pebbles in a variety of colors are available and provide a natural accent which can highlight various fish and plants.


gravelFor planted aquariums, a size range of 2 to 5 mm is ideal for most plants. In general, it is suggested to avoid very light colored substrates, as they can make fish appear less colorful. If epoxy coated gravel is being used, make sure to avoid rinsing with hot water and excessively agitating when cleaning, to preserve the epoxy coating. Use gravel to aquascape and create a depth perspective. Slope from back to front and employ some terracing to provide deeper areas. This also benefiting plants which have heavier root networks, such as the larger Echinodorus species.


driftwoodCommonly used in many natural type aquarium settings. Hard root wood found in pet stores is probably the safest type of wood to use. Wood is organic and can ecompose. It is suggested to verify its condition if water quality problems arise. It is normal for wood to discolor aquarium water at the beginning. Pre-soaking and the use of carbon can help reduce this phenomenon. An excellent method of keeping driftwood clean is to keep Ancistrus or Plecostomus (clown plecostomus) species which scrape and ingest it as part of their diet. Driftwood adds an interesting dimension to many aquariums and provides an ideal anchor for plants such as Anubias barteri, Bolbitis heudelotii, and Vesicularia dubyana (Java Moss).


ornamentsMarina provides a wide variety of safe, non-toxic, natural and artificial decorations to enhance the aquatic environment. Creating an attractive and interesting aquascape is easy and beneficial to fish, providing them with structure that supports natural behavior patterns.

Polyresin Planting Rocks

Polyresin Planting RocksThese rocks furnish a natural look while being completely non-reactive in aquarium water. Planting rocks provide an advantage in that natural plants can be conveniently moved without significantly disturbing their root systems.

Artificial Plants

Artificial PlantsAquariums containing fish that uproot or consume live plants (ex: Cichlids, Goldfish, Koi or Barb species) are ideal for artificial plants. Within this category there are also silk plants which feature natural looking movement. Attach plastic and silk plants to rocks or wood when fish, reptiles or amphibians uproot them.

Aquarium Backgrounds

Aquarium BackgroundsMarina aquarium backgrounds are available in a variety of sizes to fit most aquarium applications. The scenery can contrast or complement most any aquarium, while also hiding unsightly electrical cords or hoses. Aquarium backgrounds provide the finishing touch to any decorated tank, ensuring that fish and plants look their best.


Water is the most important and basic element in keeping a healthy, successful aquarium. There are many factors that affect the quality of water for aquarium use. Chlorine and Chloramine are added to water to eliminate harmful bacteria in drinking water for human consumption, but are very toxic to fish, beneficial bacteria and plants. When first setting up an aquarium and whenever partial water changes are conducted, always use Nutrafin Aqua Plus to make tap water safe. Nutrafin Aqua Plus also contains Pure Herbal Extracts, a U.S. patented formulation that reduces stress when fish are handled, transported or introduced to new aquariums. In specific areas around the country where Chloramine is present in the water, always use a highly concentrated chlorine neutralizer such as Nutrafin ChlorXChange as well as Ammonia Remover filter media to absorb ammonia. Nutrafin ChlorXChange is also recommended for preparing water for marine aquariums. Metallic Ions present in tap water are chelated by Nutrafin ChlorXChange and made available for consumption by plants. Tap water that originates from wells can be plagued with many other potential undesirable elements, such as phosphates, nitrates, extremely high metal levels (ex.- iron) and many other organic and inorganic compounds. The use of Nutrafin Aqua Plus is mandatory and it may even be necessary to consider the use of special filtration devices located at the tap.

Plumbing with copper pipes can be potentially lethal, especially with soft water. It would be highly recommended to add double doses of Nutrafin Aqua Plus and use generous quantities
of carbon to help remove copper. In marine systems containing invertebrates, this is a situation which would necessitate careful attention.

Water hardness and pH are two basic parameters that are easily measured with test kits and are important in providing an optimal aquarium environment. It is suggested to test tap water at least on a seasonal basis to make note of any fluctuations and adjust accordingly with effective products such as Nutrafin pH Adjust Up, pH Adjust Down and pH Stabilizer. Source water may necessitate the use of certain filter media to help achieve favorable conditions for fish and plants. When keeping soft water species of fish in regions with hard alkaline water the use of peat is indispensible.

Testing the Water

It is important to monitor the quality of your aquarium water on a regular basis. Test kits allow easy analysis of aquarium water, to determine the right corrective action. They provide the
information necessary for tailoring characteristics such as pH, Carbonate Hardness (KH), Iron (Fe) and General Hardness (GH) that are important for the particular type of aquarium being

With respect to its role in the blood system of aquatic organisms, pH is one of the most important chemical parameters. It should be verified on a regular basis to maintain the appropriate aquatic environment for the types of fish and plants that are being kept. An assortment of Nutrafin pH Test Kits exist for this purpose. Color, behavior and reproduction of fish are affected by pH. It is a vital element for the control of aquarium conditions. Weekly testing of ammonia levels will indicate if the biological filter level of activity is sufficient or the ammonia is reaching dangerous levels. Nutrafin provides two different test kits to measure ammonia in aquariums. Nitrite should be tested on a weekly basis as it is a toxic and potentially lethal nitrogen compound for fish. The Nutrafin Nitrite test kit accurately measures nitrite for aquariums. Carbonate Hardness (KH) levels need to be tested on a regular basis because they fluctuate over time and can negatively impact the pH balance of aquarium water. Low Carbonate Hardness will result in poor plant growth. In addition, testing for General Hardness (GH) should be done to determine if the Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg) levels are optimal for specific species of fish. Use the Nutrafin Carbonate and General Hardness Test Kit to conduct both of these tests.

Iron levels need to be carefully monitored in order to maintain lush, planted aquariums. It is recommended to test iron with a frequency that will maintain an iron level of 0.25 to 0.5 mg/L. Nutrafin offers a variety of products such as Nutrafin Plant Gro Iron Enriched, Nutrafin Plant Gro NPK, Nutrafin Plant Gro Aquatic Plant Fertilizer Sticks and Nutrafin Natural CO2 system to provide plants with all the essential elements. Phosphate levels should be monitored weekly as high levels of phosphate, often the result of overfeeding or infrequent water changes, can contribute to unsightly aquarium conditions. Phosphate levels should generally never exceed 1 mg/L. The Nutrafin Phosphate test kit allows you to simply and easily monitor phosphate levels in your aquarium. Nitrate should be tested on a regular basis as a measure of pollution in the aquarium and to determine if a water change is necessary. The Nutrafin Nitrate test kit is ideal for this. Nitrate accumulates in aquariums over a period of time and is difficult to remove by conventional filtration. The regular use of Nutrafin Waste Control, Nutrafin Cycle and Lab-series Nitrate Remover combined with regular water changes and the removal of debris represent the best preventative measures against nitrate accumulation.

Marine reef aquariums, especially those containing hard corals and strong growths of coralline algae absorb calcium and carbonates at a rapid rate, often requiring daily testing to ensure that the calcium levels remain at an optimal level for the aquarium inhabitants. The Nutrafin Calcium and KH/GH Test Kits allow you to monitor the calcium levels of your aquarium.

Water Conditioning & Start-Up

• Initially fill the aquarium one third full.
• Carefully pour in aquarium gravel, then plant and decorate.
• Once complete, place a plate at the bottom and carefully finish filling the aquarium with water. The plate prevents the incoming water from disturbing the set-up.
• Install all support equipment, heaters, filters (inoculate bio-filter media with Nutrafin Cycle), lighting.
• Condition the new water with Nutrafin Aqua Plus.
• Perform basic water testing, then adjust pH, KH, and GH to levels required for aquarium inhabitants.

After this is complete, dose with Cycle and allow the system a minimum of several days before adding fish. This period will allow plants to initially root and allow for any re-adjustments of pH. For areas subject to chloramine, this period is highly recommended. It is possible to add fish immediately due to products such as Nutrafin Cycle and Nutrafin Aqua Plus, however it is recommended to be patient.

Most fresh water aquariums can be set up with live plants and whenever possible, it is recommended to do so. The vast selection of plants suitable for aquariums is constantly growing along with affordable, effective, support equipment, providing the aquarist with choices for almost any set-up.

Some of the benefits of live plants include:
• Supplement filtration – they absorb ammonium, nitrates and phosphates.
• Live Plants produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide when the aquarium is illuminated.
• They provide natural shelters for fish, thereby reducing stress and supporting natural behavior.
• Live plants provide the main decorative feature in an aquarium and become a dynamic element as they grow.
• Live Plants complete with algae through the intake of essential nutrients and absorption of light.

When purchasing aquatic plants, there are several important points to consider:

1 Ensure that you are actually purchasing aquatic plants. It is recommended that you consult knowledgeable store staff and/or books.
2 Look for healthy specimens. Avoid plants that are damaged (holes, broken leaves and/or stems) or exhibit yellow or brown leaves. Rooted plants should have clean looking (usually white) healthy root masses (with the exception of bunch plants).
3 Look for proper holding facilities. Plant tanks should be well-lit and kept at approximate tropical aquarium temperatures.
4 Purchase rapid growing plants at the beginning, commonly sold as bunch plants. This will provide maximum competition for algae.
5 Make sure plants stay wet or damp during the trip home, do not allow any part to dry out.

Planting Tips:

• Incorporate groups of plants in your décor. Select a few species with a quantity of each, as opposed to many different species and minor quantities of each.
• Position plants in appropriate positions with respect to species. Plant taller plants to the rear and shorter plants towards the front. Take into consideration lighting requirements when choosing prospective sites for your plants. For example, plants that prefer lower light levels may be planted in the shade of tall plants.
• Always remove devices used to bunch plants together. Any damaged or dead leaves should be removed. Bunch plants should have only the bottom 1 to 2 inches of stem planted.
• Planting should allow for a little space between groups of stems of plants (bunch plants).
• Never bury the crown of a plant. Expose the crown and avoid gravel between stems. Remember – plants grow! Be aware of their maximum size and provide the room and correct initial placement to account for this.

Species to Start With

Select hardy species and make sure to incorporate some algae controlling species, such as Pencil Fish, Livebearers, Ancistrus, Otocynclus or Sailfin Plecostomus. The algae controlling species you select will depend on whether the aquarium contains plants and the other species of fish purchased. Fish that naturally consume algae will especially benefit the aquarium during the start up period. Once aquarium plants become established they will help to control algae. It is recommended to select species that are compatible in terms of water chemistry, temperature, and behavior. Consult books and knowledgeable store staff for suggestions in this regard. The GEOsystem guide provides simple and easy to follow guidelines for creating harmonious aquarium environments. Amongst the information contained in the guide is a sample listing of fish, their approximate size, behavior and the recommended aquarium size range.

Selecting Healthy Fish

The following list represents general characteristics of most healthy fish:
• Clear Eyes (not cloudy).
• Erect, undamaged fins.
• Scales should be intact, parallel with body (not sticking outwards) and no red blotches.
• No holes, ulcerations, or lumps.
• Species with translucent bodies, no inner appearing whitish areas.
• Active, lively, normal swimming patterns (some species are naturally shy and reclusive).
• No white spots (salt grain size) or white cottony growths on the fins or body.
• Respiration rate should be regular and steady (in unstressed circumstances).
• Gills should be red inside, not faded or discolored, and not distended or puffy.
• Actively feeding.
• Avoid selecting fish from a system that contains any sick specimens.

Choosing fish that are healthy from the beginning will help avoid problems. It is always a good idea to maintain a small quarantine tank for observation of newly purchased specimens and possible treatment. The quarantine aquarium will also serve as a hospital or isolation tank should compatibility problems arise, or other unavoidable circumstances which could result in disease.

Acclimation of New Fish

Transport new fish after purchase as soon as possible and avoid temperature change. The following steps are recommended to provide a stress-free introduction:
1 Close the aquarium lights during the acclimation period. Float the bag in the aquarium for approximately 20 minutes to equalize water temperatures.
2 Open the bag and gently pour in some aquarium water (approximately 1/3 the bag volume), wait 10 minutes. Repeat this water introduction twice more at the same interval.
NOTE: Add a full dose of Nutrafin Aqua Plus to the aquarium. Its patented stress reducing ingredients will benefit the newly introduced specimens.
3 Carefully net the fish out of the bag and place them in the aquarium. Dispose of the water in the bag, DO NOT release this water into the aquarium.
4 If the newly introduced specimens are the only ones in the aquarium, wait 24 hours before initial feeding.

Disease Prevention

Most living organisms can suffer illness at one time or another. The most effective way to deal with this reality is to prevent, rather than wait for a possible problem. The consequences of
having to treat a stocked aquarium with a medication can be stressful and damaging in itself. Many plants, fish and helpful bacteria can suffer as a result of using medication.
The following list provides tips on preventing disease:
• Choose only healthy fish, avoid purchases from aquariums containing sick fish.
• Purchase fish in limited groups, slowly build fish populations.
• Consider a quarantine aquarium. This will allow observation and preventative treatments before exposing new fish to established aquarium inhabitants.
• Follow proper acclimation of new specimens.
• Always condition new water properly. Chlorine, chloramine, and metals are damaging to aquarium inhabitants. Use Nutrafin Aqua Plus.
• If plumbing repairs or changes occur that involve copper pipe, exercise caution.
• Perform basic water tests and maintenance on a regular basis.
• After power failures, ensure that all equipment is working properly. Observe fish carefully, temperature variations will stress them.
• Use timers for lighting. Regular illumination periods are important for fish and plants.
• If a medication has been used, after the treatment is complete, perform additional water changes and use carbon to remove residual traces. Test water and dose with Nutrafin Cycle and Aqua Plus.
• Supply regular feedings of various quality foods such as Nutrafin Max.


A regular feeding schedule is important to provide fish with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Disease resistance, coloration, activity level and reproduction are all major factors
directly linked to a quality nutrition source. Nutrafin Max uses top quality ingredients combined with special production methods to ensure maximum nutrition through high bio-availability.
Certain Nutrafin Max products use natural color enhancing ingredients such as Red Algae Pigment (R.A.P.), rich in astaxanthin, a powerful carotenoid, a proven immune system booster, while improving growth rates. Spirulina provides fish with numerous health benefits and is a valuable source of a number of pigments, allowing the enhancement of a variety of colors. Variety is important. Nutrafin Max provides a complete selection of flake, freezedried, granular, stick, and tablet foods, designed to effectively feed most species of aquarium fish. Nutrafin Max Plus fish foods are formulated to provide a complete diet for most tropical and marine fish. Each diet contains a unique blend of flakes and freeze dried ingredients, providing fish with two nutritious foods in one container. Each Nutrafin Max Plus food is formulated to naturally enhance fish color while offering a safe, convenient alternative to frozen foods. In addition the proprietary multi-vitamin ensures optimum growth and disease resistance. An important part of any staple diet Nutrafin Max Plus foods also makes ideal feeding supplement.

How Much Do I Feed?

A good rule of thumb is to use time as a guiding factor. Most aggressive feeders can easily consume their requirements within two to three minutes, two to three times daily. Fish such as Discus and Bottom dwellers (Catfish, Loaches, Sharks, Plecostomus) require approximately 5 minutes to properly nourish themselves. It is suggested to consult books and knowledgeable pet store staff to obtain specific details about the species being kept.

Feeding Tips

• Identify feeding requirements of species kept (herbivores, omnivores, etc.).
• Try to avoid feeding large predatory species with live fish. Use appropriate dry or frozen foods. There is less chance of disease transmission and this will facilitate the feeding of
your fish if you are away.
• Allow a minimum of 30 minutes after the lights are turned on and 30 minutes before the lights are turned off before feeding.
• Keep dry food away from moisture and try not to handle food (especially with wet hands).
• Use a Nutrafin Max Feeding Ring for dry foods. It helps prevent food from entering the gravel and filter.
• Use an automatic feeder (ex.- Nutrafin Profeed or Nutramatic 2x), if your schedule does not permit regular feeding.
• Aquariums containing bottom feeders (botias, corydoras, etc.) should be fed regularly with bottom feeding tablets.
• Use quality foods. Nutrafin Max provides complete, high quality nutrition.
• Provide a varied diet, minimum of 2 dry foods (1 flake and 1 freeze dried) and 1 frozen food.
• Always try to incorporate some Spirulina in a fish’s diet, especially for herbivores.

Maintenance Tips

1 Never change more than 40% of aquarium water at a time.
2 Never empty the entire aquarium to clean it. This causes undue stress on fish and will disturb the biological balance of your aquarium.
3 Only change half of your filter media at a time, to retain the established biological balance.
4 NEVER use soap or any detergent on your aquarium or any products used in or around your aquarium.
5 When cleaning the inside glass of your aquarium, avoid picking up pieces of gravel, as this will scratch the glass.
6 Limit the amount of times you put your hands in the water. Oils and films may cause stress in fish. It is preferable to use the Marina Multi-Tool.

The Marina Aqua-Minder has been designed to provide aquarium owners with an aquarium monitoring system. The Marina Aqua- Minder constantly displays the aquarium temperature in either Celsius or Fahrenheit. It features an alarm setting for the aquarium high/low temperature. The alarm will sound and flash if the water temperature falls outside the chosen range. Other programmable features include water change interval schedule, filter maintenance schedule and system check schedule.

Maintenance Checklist:

– Perform a visual check of the aquarium inhabitants to make sure that none of them are sick, hurt, or acting strangely.
– Check that all the equipment is working properly(filters, heaters, lighting, etc.).
– Remove any dead fish, plants, or obvious debris (such as plant leaves attached to intake strainer of filter).

– Perform a partial water change, 5 to 10% is recommended. Use a gravel washer to clean trapped waste from the gravel. Partial water changes on a regular basis will provide stable water quality and maintain ideal conditions.
– Clean the glass inside and outside. This will eliminate any algae, and ensure full viewing pleasure.
– Clean fluorescent tube(s) and fixture. This will maintain consistent light levels.
– Test the aquarium water.

– Check supplies, food, water conditioners and all other regularly used items.
– Perform filter maintenance and replace filter media as per manufacturer’s recommendations and in accordance with the results of your water test.


1 Provide regular, varied, feeding for fish. Feed two to three times per day, the amount consumed in approximately two minutes (for most fish).
2 Keep fish populations within reasonable limits.
3 Follow the daily, weekly, and monthly checklist in this guide.
4 Select fish that enjoy similar temperatures, water chemistry, are compatible with respect to behavior, and occupy different levels of the aquarium.
5 When choosing filtration, consider contact time, filter media volume, and factors which affect filter output.
6 Incorporate live plants whenever possible.
7 Choose the largest aquarium possible. Volume equals stability and greater flexibility in choices.
8 Stable conditions are important. Following the provided checklist will help achieve this.
9 Try to plan your aquarium set-up. Select plants, rocks, wood, gravel, and other décor which are complementary.
10 Enjoy the hobby! Use it as an experience to learn about a fascinating underwater world.