People always ask us how we keep the tanks in the shop so clean! Here's a few tools
and techniques we use to ensure tanks are always maintained to perfection.

- The first and what we believe to be the most important is understanding the
dietary requirements of your fish in the aquarium. The stomach's of your fish have
evolved to cope with certain foods they would eat in nature. By recreating this
natural diet in the aquarium the fish will use the food to convert into energy
rather than being unused and turned into waste. A few examples here would be
satisfying the vegetarian needs of livebearing fish. Within the shop we mainly feed
JBL Premium Spirulina. This contains 40% spirulina which is one of the highest
content of any vegetable/ algae based food. Also it's very important if you have
fish in the aquarium which are scavenger,s to supplement their diet using meat based
foods because in nature they would feeds mainly on small crustaceans and fish. Here
in the shop we use JBL Novo Tabs which conatin 80% animal protein, with a total of
43% protein and 8% fat it makes it the perfect meal for scavenging Catfish and

- The second is again food related. This time its the variety of foods offered to
your fish. Fish can be fussy eaters and using the same flake foods day in day out
can get awfully boring. This is why we try to ensure each meal our fish recieve is
different to the last! A brilliant way to add variety into the diet of your fish is
using frozen foods. These are cheap, natrually harvested, can be used to bring fish
into spawning condition and a lot of them would be what fish would eat in nature. A
few brilliant one's we'd use here are Krill, Bloodworm, Daphnia and Garlic Enriched
Brine Shrimp.

- A little one now, which can make a huge difference if you struggle with algae in
the aquarium. Generally when perorming aquarium maintainance removing algae from the
glass will be done after removing the water for a water change. This means all of
those algae spores you have removed from the glass will still be within the
aquarium. Once refilled, they can settle and start growing again. It is therefore
always beneficial to remove all algae from the aquarium before performing the
waterchange, this means when water is removed, your're always removing all those
algae spores! What do we use to remove algae in the shop ? JBL Blanki, this is a
simple product which uses stainless steel to remove algae. This elimates dangerous
blades meaning its brilliant to get children involved in cleaning the aquarium. It
will remove even the most stubborn of algae with a quick scrub and even makes quick
work of calcium deposits (limescale) which is a huge problem with our highly
alkaline Bristol water.

- Gravel cleaner. A very simple piece of equipment which makes a huge impact on the
cleanliness of your aquarium. All tanks in the shop are Gravel cleaned once a week.
This is using a simple vaccum type tool which lifts gravel from the base of the
aquarium and spins it around to lift out any waste that has built up. A build up of
waste on the base of the tank can be very dangerous to the the delicate whiskers of
aquarium favourite, Corydoras Catfish. If you've ever had problems with snail
infestations, this waste build up could be a huge contributing factor. Excess waste
and foods provide a constant food source for pest snails enabling them to thrive.
Remove this food for them and they will soon start depleting in numbers. If you've
never used one, give it a try, you may be shocked at what is hidden underneath all
of that gravel!

- A long length of hose. This may not apply to smaller aquariums, but those with
large aquariums at home will know what a nuisance it can be carrying buckets back
and forth when doing water changes. Here we use a gravel cleaner attatched to a long
length of garden hose which goes directly out to the drain. This means you can
remove 100's of litres of water without lifting a finger! When disposing of old
water, remember this is normally high in both Nitrate and Phosphate which means it's
brilliant for watering house and garden plants! When removing water, sometimes you
may remove more water than you wish before cleaning all of the gravel. This is where
a simple inline tap to the hose comes in. You can adjust the flow of water being
removed meaning you can remove more dirt and less water! When refilling the aquarium
its always important that the water you replace is of a similar temperature to that
in the aquarium and free of chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals. Here all water is
prepared the day before. Its treated using Fluval aqua plus water conditioner. This
has a very high concentration meaning its much cheaper to use in larger aquariums
than other brands. It also gives the water plenty of time to come to ambient room
temerature meaning it won't effect the overall temperature in the tank during a
partial water change.

- Keeping the glass of the clean. It's not just important to remove algae from the
inside of the aquarium but also cleaning the outside of the aquarium too! This makes
a huge difference in viewing the aquarium, there is nothing worse than watching an
aquarium and being distracted by drip marks or limescale. Now here, you can't just
use household glass cleaners. These are very poisonous to fish and are best kept
well away! Here we use and Recommend JBL Clean A. This is non-hazardous to both fish
and plants and removes stubborn limescale and water marks.
- Water clarity isn't a measure of the water quality: The water clarity in the
aquarium may be crystal clear but that doesnt mean there isn't a hidden pollutant
building up or fluctuation in water chemistry that is unseen. This is where water
testing is very important! We recommend testing water atleast once a week to keep an
eye on these unseen levels. There are many ways of testing water but a simple quick
test we'd use is JBL Proscan to monitor both customers and our water. This contains
24 test strips to measure Nitrate, Nitrite, General Hardness, Carbonate Hardness,
PH, Chlorine and CO2. Dip the analysis strip into the water, place onto colour
chart, wait 60 seconds and scan the analysis strip into your smartphone using the
free Proscan app. Once scanned the results of the test will be displayed on screen.
Simple to use and no chance of human error. The app will then offer recommendations
if anything is not quite right. Ease of use and super quick, this really is the
future in water testing!

- External filter pipes: These pipes are ideal conditions for the settlment of both
dirt and algae. This build up within the pipe can reduce the flow of your canister
by up to 40%. Performance loss of an external filter can be dangerous to the water
quality. A simple tool you can use to keep the pipes clean is JBL Cleany. This is a
steel helix fitted with brushes to clean pipework of up to 30mm in diameter. If done
every time you clean the filter, your external will always be running at its maximum
flow rate!

- Aquarium log book: This is something every aquarium owner should have.This will be
a record of previous water changes, filter cleans, water testing results and
introduction of fish. Keeping record of everything aquarium related means if there
is ever an issue, you can look back to try and determine where something may have
gone wrong. Now everyone has good intentions when it comes to aquarium maintainance,
but hectic busy lifestyles mean sometimes the aquarium may be left weeks without the
attention needed. Keeping a log of previous water changes and filter cleans means
you always know when maintainance is needed to ensure the aquarium doesnt go into
disrepair. It only takes a few missed water changes for a build up of harmful
Nitrates and algae promoting Phosphate to take hold! Here you can also add reminders
of when filter media may need replacing. Carbon will need replacing routinely. Once
it has absorbed all it can, it becomes ineffective against the removal of impurities
so it's important to replace every 6-8 weeks in most filters. Keeping a record of
fish in the aquarium is not only useful to yourself but also for the retailer you're
purchsing fish from. If you can provide the exact fish housed in you're aquarium the
retailer can select fish which be be perfect in terms of their compatabilty. Its
very difficult to base recommendations not knowing what the fish are going to be
housed with.
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