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Choosing an aquarium heater: Glass, titanium or electronic?

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It’s hard to believe in the middle of summer we’re going to talk about aquarium heaters. Heaters are an essential part of the aquarium to help keep temperatures stable and if you go to any aquarium store or peruse online, you’ll see there are a variety of heaters in different styles, materials and with various features. Here we are going to examine a few of the different types of heaters on the markets, and their pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

Glass Heaters
The most popular and traditional heater you’ll probably come across is the glass tube heater. These are sealed glass tubes with heater coils inside and typically have a temperature control dial. Traditionally these heaters would clamp on the rim of an aquarium but many are submersible making them both safer and more versatile. The glass is typically made from quartz, Pyrex and other break-resistant materials. Since glass can be fragile, its best to go for the highest quality shatterproof glass you can find.

Glass heaters typically cost less and come in a variety of wattages. The higher the wattage, the larger the aquarium it can properly heat. Even though we mentioned some being made from shatterproof glass, they can still crack or break. You also get what you pay for. Cheaper heaters can have inaccurate thermostats, break easily or fail.

Titanium Heaters
Titanium heaters are made from titanium instead of glass and are much stronger, but also will cost more. Titanium heaters are typically more of a premium type of heater and will come with a controller and temperature probe. The addition of the probe allows you to measure the water temperature away from the heater, giving you a more stable overall temperature. The probe will tell the heater when to activate the heating element to warm the water and shut it off then you hit the right temperature.

Although they are nearly indestructible, they can cause damage themselves. Since the titanium heating element can get pretty hot, it could actually melt acrylic so care must be taken if used in an acrylic tank or sump. They are also available in different wattages.

Electronic Heaters
These are the new kids on the block when it comes to heater technology. As the name implies, these are heaters controlled by electronics that make them more accurate and efficient. They use advanced microprocessor thermostats giving them accuracy within a fraction of a degree. Many of these are also made of durable plastic and compact forms.

These typically cost more than glass and in line with premium titanium heaters, but typically offer more features, controlability and reliability vs. other heater types. They are relatively new on the market, but we are beginning to see more companies delve into these types of heaters.

Conclusion
These are just a few of the main heater options. There are also other heaters (inline for example) available. Costs can quickly add up with equipment, but as you build an investment and attachment for your fish, its one of the areas you may not want to cut corners. Another topic for a later article is why heaters fail and things you can do to prevent it.

SubstrateSource Stainless Steel Aquarium Aquascaping Kit

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Taking care of a planted freshwater aquarium doesn’t have to be hard. Having a good aquascaping kit like the SubstrateSource Stainless Steel Aquarium Aquascaping Kit is essential to be able to trim, clip, prune and move things around without a big disruption to your tank.

It may look like you’re going to be doing major surgery, but the handy five-piece kit includes all the things you need to be a master of your planted tank. The kit includes straight scissors idea are ideal for precision straight cuts, plus curved scissors to get into those hard-to-reach places and mow down foreground plants. A spatula will allow you to easily move the substrate to creates smooth slopes and terraces. There are also straight tweezers to easily grasp your items during maintenance and set up and curved tweezers to plant your live aquatic plants with comfort and ease.

Built all from stainless steel, the kit should last you a while and includes a zippered carrying case to keep things all in one place. You can choose from either 11 or 12-inch lengths depending on your preference. The SubstrateSource Stainless Steel Aquarium Aquascaping Kit retails for $49.99.

Marina battery air pump helps keep tank aerated when power fails

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Summertime can be fun, but it also means more storms and hot weather that can have an impact on your power. The Marina battery air pump is a good, inexpensive option to keep your aquarium aerated in case power fails.

When water movement stops in the aquarium, particularly when water temperatures increase, the oxygen levels in the water can be impacted and can cause harm and even death to your fish. By having a backup system in place, you can help ensure your fish have oxygen until power goes back on.

The simple device runs on two D cell batteries and delivers air if the electrical goes out. The Marina battery air pump comes with an air stone and 18 inches of tubing and retails for around $11. This is also handy for providing air when transporting fish or if you’re doing extended maintenance like a major aquascaping project, where your fish will be out of the aquarium for a while.

 

Cool freshwater aquascaping designs

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A well thought out planted freshwater aquarium is just mesmerizing. Here is a great video that shows 25 incredible freshwater aquascaping desings. Thanks to YouTuber indoZone for putting this together and sharing.

Like many creative projects, some people just seem to have the vision and knack to create an awe-inspiring underwater landscape. Many of us try but never come close to creating that magical underwater world.

Sometimes its just a natural skill and vision, for others the craft has been honed by years of trial and error. While we may never get close to any of these designs, they are great inspiration, enjoy!

Seachem Algae pads are good for glass and acrylic

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Seachem Algae pads are a good for getting rid of algae on glass and acrylic aquariums. As you know, cleaning algae from your aquarium glass is never fun and can be somewhat hard to do. The problem is finding something tough enough to remove the algae without harming your aquarium. This is where Seachem Algae pads come in.

Made from melamine foam the Seachem Algae pads use “micro abrasive technology” to power through tough algae. Since they are flexible, they are a great way to clean algae in corners, on tubes or other equipment and in scratches.

Similar to products like Mr Clean Magic Erasers, using a vetted aquarium product from someone like Seachem gives you peace of mind knowing there are no unwanted detergents or chemicals that could have a negative reaction in your aquarium.

Seachem’s Algae pads are 4.5 x 2.5 in. with a 3-pack retailing for around $6.

EHEIM MECHpro is a reusible, plastic mechanical filter medium

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The other week we wrote about the EHEIM bioMECH that provided biological and mechanical filtration in one, now we have the EHEIM MECHpro, a reusable plastic mechanical filtration medium that can be used separately or in tandem with bioMECH.

The EHEIM MECHpro is primarily designed to catch debris with its spiral shape, but it also provides more surface area for the good bacteria to grow to help with the biological filtration breaking down waste into nitrogen.

The product is describes as being, “made from high quality, completely water-neutral plastic, the MECHpro allows for easy and residue free cleaning, and the surface structure encourages the colonization of cleaning bacteria for a biological cleaning process, as well.”

For cleaning, you can just shake off the material in a bucket of aquarium water (so you don’t kill off the good bacteria) during a water change. This comes in a 1 liter package that retails for $10.99 and a 2 liter package that costs $19.99.

The EcoQube C Aquarium wants you to forget about cleaning your filter

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Aquaponics is a great way to keep your aquarium clean and the EcoQube C Aquarium is a self-contained kit to allow you to keep a plant, a fish and a clean aquarium with little maintenance.

See the plant needs food and gets it from the fish waste in the water, naturally filtering the water. This aquarium will use a plant like basil or mint to clean the water and provide a useful plant for cooking or use in a beverage.

The EcoQube C Aquarium started on Kickstarter and is in full production mode. It comes with a LED and integrated filter to provide water movement through the plant medium.

The aquarium retails for $169.99 – but you can get it on other sites for a better price if you look around. The company product page is informative, and there are mixed reviews in the comment section. Some people are really pleased, while others are not.

From reading through the comments, there may be an issue with the plant growth and the type of fish you keep. For starters, it is probably best to see if you can get the plant established and try keeping smaller, hardier fish. The size of the aquarium is pretty small, but would be a nice conversation starter or gadget to put on your desk at work.

Aqueon 10-Gallon Economy LED Aquarium Kit

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Aquarium kits are a great way to get started in the hobby, taking the hassle out of buying all the odds and ends to get started and the new Aqueon 10-Gallon Economy LED Aquarium Kit is a good option for a simple, straightforward 10 gallon aquarium.

You can guess from the title, it features an LED light integrated into the hood. Granted, there is most likely just enough light to illuminate the aquarium and not for a planted aquarium, but since this is designed for the beginner, this shouldn’t be an issue.

In addition to the tank, filtration, heater and water conditioners, etc. Since its from Aqueon you get a QuietFlow 10 Power Filter and filter that features a red LED indicator light to let you know when its time to change the filter cartridge. You’ll also get a 50W Aqueon heater preset at 78-degrees to keep the temperature consistent.

The kit also contains a fish food sample, water conditioner sample, a net, thermometer and startup guide — all for $89.99.

AutoAqua Qeye and Qshooter Combo lets you and your friends feed your fish remotely

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The AutoAqua Qeye and Qshooter Combo allows up to six people watch your fish and control the food cannon all via a smartphone app. Don’t worry about your friends going crazy and constantly overfeeding your fish, you are able to control the feeding time and quantity of food allowed.

The Qshooter is the part that allows you to shoot the food to your fishes. The QS-100 QShooter mounts to the aquarium with a magnet (up to 25mm thick) and allows you to shoot pellets up to 2.5mm. From what we gather, there appears to be some up and down movement of the “cannon” so you can volley your food across your tank. It also contains an IR remote control to allow you to control it while in the room.

The Qeye is an externally mounted camera (also via magnet but only 19mm thick glass for this one) that delivers 720p HD resolution. You can also tilt and pan 120-degrees while taking remote snapshots and video recordings. But it also allows you and your friends to control the video and Qshooter.

To make sure your friends and family stay in line, you can define up to three feeding periods a day and no more than 99 shots of food. It also looks like you can limit your friends so if there is one with a heavy hand, you can deny access or just limit them.

This is definitely a novelty item and pricey for a bulky camera and food cannon coming in at $349, but if you have the budget and it brings a smile to your face, then its worth it, right?

The Fishkeeper FreshWater Formula designed to help keep a healthy aquarium

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The Fishkeeper FreshWater formula by Tropical Science Biolabs is an additive to help nourish and balance your aquariums biological system plus boost your fishes immune system to keep them healthy.

Even when we do things right in our aquariums things can go wrong — fish can get stressed or sick, the biological system can falter, etc. — and additives like this can help without resorting to extreme measures and medications.

Like many products on the market, Fishkeeper touts itself as all natural and drug free. It is designed to boost your fishes immune system to help build up their natural defenses and also enhances their coloration and their appetites.

According to the company, its ingredients are a blend of natural herbal extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, other nutrients, and non-pathogenic probiotic bacteria that helps keep your fish alive. It is safe for all freshwater aquatic life and live plants and contains no copper or toxic residues.

The Fishkeeper FreshWater formula by Tropical Science Biolabs comes in 8 oz and 16 oz sizes and costs $12.99 for the smaller version and $20.99 for the larger version.