Preparing water for water changes

Water changes is a compulsory practice that needs to be observed when keeping fishes of all sorts, from freshwater to saltwater. Water changes lowers toxins in the water and provides a fresh supply of clean water to flora and fauna, as well as removing any excess minerals and phosphates that may have accumulated over time. Theoretically, water changes should be performed once a week or once in two weeks, however fishkeepers sometimes cut themselves a lot of slack by only changing water once a month or even worse. Water changes are an essential part of fishkeeping. A fishkeeper who refuses to commit himself to do water changes then refuses to keep fish in the first place.

However even with the intention to change water, many aquarists then face the same problem: How to prepare water that is safe for the aquarium and the miniature aquatic community.

The answer could not be simpler. Dechlorination is the most fundamental part of water preparation. Dechlorination helps to remove harmful Chlorine from the water before it is added into the aquarium so that the water will not have any negative side effects on the fishes. There are many Dechlorinators on the market that are commonly sold. Brands include Seachem, WaterLife, Tetra and so on. However, there is a very simply method of Dechlorination that can be done even at home without any special apparatus. the method requires leaving water out in large buckets or containers to evaporate for 2 or 3 days. By doing this, you allow the Chlorine in the water to evaporate and therefore cleanses the water from harmful substances.
You can also do what I call water buffering to your water before you add it to your Aquarium. For most Planted Aquarium keepers, their pH would usually be a low 6 or even a high or medium 5. I personally have seen my pH drop to 5.8 before but my most common pH is 6.4. If I were to add dechlorinated tapwater into my aquarium, the water parameters in the Aquarium would change suddenly due to sudden increase in pH. Tapwater carries a average pH of 7.4 so it will increase your pH especially if you are conducting big water changes. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to use this method. First, purchase this brand of soil called ADA Amazonian Aquasoil. If you are already using this brand of soil, you can simply remove some from your Aquarium or use any extras you have. Place some soil in a mesh bag and dangle it into your bucket of water. If you really want to maximize the soil’s ability, then you nay want to insert an airline or a water pump to circulate the water. However, I feel that’s not necessary.

So now you know how to prepare safe water for a clean and healthy Aquarium!


The Yamato Shrimp Breeding Adventure

Yamato Shrimps are really a bunch of hardworking fellows! Just last month I was given the rare and special privilege of raising some fry of these wondrous species. The Yamato Shrimp is a Freshwater shrimp that can grow to pretty astounding lengths and therefore can be pretty intimidating to some of my tank’s smaller inhabitants, for example, my Neon Tetras and perhaps my Bronze Corydoras. Nonetheless, Yamato Shrimps are peaceful in nature and the only time I see them flare up is when they vie with each other for fish pellets which are actually not meant for them since they are supposedly part of my “Clean Up Crew”.

I realized that my Yamato Shrimps were harbouring eggs the moment I sae Greyish-White orbs lining the underside of their abdomen. The eggs were really small and the only reason why I could see them was because they were all clustered together under the belly of the Yamato Shrimp. The female Yamato Shrimp was huge in comparison to its male counterpart; It was at least twice as large and its feelers were nearly twice as long. The males’ job is to fertilize the females eggs, which unfortunately was something I was unable to witness since I never really paid much attention to my shrimp and they were almost always in hiding. However I noticed the eggs, and therefore I decided to take some action.

It is described and proven in numerous scientific texts that Yamato Shrimps will lay their eggs in freshwater upstream and the zoeys that hatch from the eggs will be carried by the currents until they reach Brackish water estuaries. The zoeys reside in these Estuaries until they have grown into Juvenile Shrimp and subsequently, they will make their upstream voyage to repeat the life cycle all over again.

The utmost challenge in raising these Zoeys, was in the most basic form of water conditions itself- Salinity. Salinity is the ultimate factor that will decide the fate of the shrimps; too much and the shrimps will perish, too little and they will also suffer the same fate.

My experience with salinity was not too plesant. For starters, the aquarium salt I added kept crystalizing and clumping together, making dissolving the salt an extremely difficutlt and tedious task. This resulted in the specific gravity (SG) of the water, which is the measurement of the density of the water, to be lower than expected. The parameters I wanted were 35ppt (parts per thousand) or 1.020 specific gravity. However I was unable to science these conditions and therefore my shrimp zoeys died.
Despite that, I still have a lot to take away from this experience.

1) Salinity is very tough to handle- So don’t go there unless absolutely necessary.
2) Yamato Shrimps produce eggs as quickly as they moult- You can easily obtain 5 batches of spawns in about a month! But raising the fry is a different thing altogether.
3) And lastly of all, Yamato shrimps are way cheaper if bought from the LFS (Local Fish store) But that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a try!

So if you want a little adventurous expedition, then I suggest you give this a shot!

DIY Surface Skimmer Tutorial

Hi guys! Ever realized that your fish tank was reeking of some foul smelling odour? It could be oil that has accumulated at the surface of your aquarium water. So getting a skimmer to skim away the oil and also keep the surface of your water clean is the best choice right? But then most skimmers out there in the market are either too expensive or do not have the desired capacity of media storage you want. So why not DIY? Here is a video that will teach you how to customize your very own surface skimmer for your home aquarium while keeping into consideration biological and a bit of mechanical filtration! What’s more, this project won’t cost you more than $25!

The DIY Surface skimmer overview:

The DIY Surface skimmer actual tutorial:

My Method For Treating Ich or ‘Ick’ Continuation

Hi everyone! Here is an updated version of how to treat Ich or ‘Ick’. Although the first method works fine, this is only if you do not have shrimps in your aquarium. If you do, you have to follow the second method stated below.

Method 2:

In this case, I will recommend using a product called Seachem Paraguard. Seachem praguard is ideal for this purpose for numerous reasons.

1) Seachem Paraguard has a combination of ingridients that are less harsh on your fish meaning that your fish will experience less stress when using this chemical.

2) Seachem Paraguard does not contain Copper unlike another product called WaterLife Protozin which means it is totally safe for shrimps.

3) The dosage of Seachem Paraguard is more flexible and an overdose would not necessarily lead to death of your fishes.

However, some cons need to be taken into consideration when using this product:

1) Seachem Paraguard needs to be dosed in pretty large amounts due to the instructions stated on the back. (Dose 1 capful for every 40 litres) Therefore when purchasing the product remeber to buy a little bit more.

2) Seachem Paraguard may be a little expensive compared to other medications (however I got a 500ml bottle for $20) so it’s best to do a little bit of research before making your purchase.

so without further ado, let’s get started on the procedures! Please watch the video because it covers most of the points.

If you don’t want to watch the video, I will sumarize the points for you.

1) Seachem Paraguard is like an “All In One” Formula that will treat most infections, Viral, Bacterial or Parasite.
2) Seachem Paraguard can be used on new fishes when quarantining fishes as a preventive measure to treat any ailments the new fishes might be habouring before you add them into your display aquarium.
3) Take into consideration displacement of water by rocks, decoration and substrate before measuring the dosage of Seachem Paraguard.

I think these are the two main points I want to bring across so that’s about it. Do stay tuned for more fishy business coming your way and I’ll see you next time!

My Method For Treating Ich or ‘Ick’

Hi guys! Today I would like to share with you how I treat Ich, also known as “Ick” to many seasoned fishkeepers. Ich is a microscopic parasite that latches on to your fish and “sucks” its body fluids. Pretty irritating especially for newbies to the fishkeeping hobby. My 3 Ottos from my smaller tank in my room have “Ick” after I bought them from the local fishstore. Therefore I wuld like to share my personal favourite method which I used in this case to combat this sickening parasite.

Ottos with white spot, I guess?

My 3 Ottos down with “Ick”

My Method (Why I like to use it):

Contrary to conventional “home-methods” which involve treating the sick fish with high temperature and salt, I avoided this method since I have Corydoras in my small aquarium which are pretty salt intolerant. In that case, I had to rule out the salt method for the safety of my Cory. Although it is highly debatable on whether or not Corydoras are really intolerant and whether they can stand just a bit of aquarium salt, I still took the safer approach by forgetting the entire treatment method instead. Since room temperature in my country is about 27-32 Degrees Celsius, I no longer required to purchase a internal filter. It is said by scientist studying this parasite that it’s growth rate will increase as the temperature increases. Therfore by increasing the temperature, you can successfully speed up the growth rate and the life cycle of the parasite will take a shorter time to be completed.

So why speed up the life cycle of the parasite? Well, to fully comprehend the importance of speeding up the life cycle, one must take a look at the life cycle of the parasite.

The parasite begins when a free-swimming parasite finds a host fish and latches on to it. The parasite burrows under the scales of the host fish and begins to suck the fluids of the host fish. At this stage, the parasite is protected from any chemical or medicine one puts into the aquarium. At this stage, one will be able to see tiny white spots if the parasite absorbs the fluids and bloats, rendering itself visible to the naked eye. This is the “white spot” the parasite displays when its syndromes are clearly visible to the fishkeeper and this is when the fishkeeper should take immediate action to combat this parasite.
Subsequently, the parasite will detach itself from the host fish and find a spot to attach itself to. This free-swimming stage is when the parasite is most vunerable to medicine and chemicals and when exposed to them, the free-swimming parasite will most probably die.
The parasite now warps itself in a cyst in which it will begin its reproduction stage. At this stage, the parasite will undergo cell division and make numerous “copies” of itself within the cyst. This is also the stage where the parasite cannot be harmed by chemicals as well.
Finally, the parasites that have been encapsulated in the cyst break free from the cyst and spring forth to find a new host fish. The cycle hereby repeats itself.

By speeding up the life cycle of the parasite, one can ensure that the parasite will expose itself to any medication he doses into the aquarium much quicker than if one were to slow down the life cycle. However, we must take into account the species of fish we are keeping, for some fishes prefer lower temperatures while others prefer tropical waters. Thus, care and consideration must be taken at all times to ensure our pets’ well being throughout the course of treatment.

My Method Part 1:

If you live in a temperate place, purchase a heater and slowly raise the temperature of the aquarium until it is about 30-32 Degrees Celsius. It is rumoured that “Ick” cannot attack our fish at temperatues of 30 Degrees and above however I have no substantial eveidence to prove this theory.

In my case, I use WaterLife Protozin to combat this parasite. The instruction states that it will be a four-day course and that care should be taken when applying the medication to avoid overdosing the chemical,  Waterlife Protozin has a bluish tan to it and may stain floorboards and furniture so please take care when using it. Despite numerous claims that WaterLife Protozin stains aquarium silicone and decorations, I have yet to experience this as my tank shows no signs of stain.

The sequence of events one has to take on the different days to dose this medication are as follows:

Day 1: Start by doing a 25% water change or more (I personally stick to the “the more the merrier” theory) and remove any activated carbon or chemical filtration present in your filter. Chemical filtration removes medication. Afterwards, apply 1ml of Protozin for every 10 litres of water. If your aquarium is a mini quarantine tank and is smaller than 10 litres, then add 1 drop of the liquid for every 1 litre you have. 1 drop is approximately 0.1 ml. (Take into consideration displacement of water when applying chemical)

Day 2: Dose the same amount of meication as prescribed in “Day 1” Repeat this for Day 3

Day 4: Don’t do anything other than observe if the fish are behaving normally. If a fish behaves wierdly, take it out and quarantine in a seperate aquarium. refer to the back of the Protozin bottle and ensure that your dosage is correct. (Take into consideration displacement of water when applying chemical) Do the same for Day 5

Day 6: Dose the same amount of meication as prescribed in “Day 1”. By now most of the parasite would have been destroyed if you have followed the steps closely.

Day 7: Alas! The course in now complete. Do a 50% water change to remove the buildup of copper in the water. Check and ensure that there are no more white spots on your fishes. If there are still telltale signs, then repeat the entire cycle again. Better to be safe than sorry if you ask me!

Your fish should be completely cured of White Spot by the end of the 4-day course. Monitor the fishes closely for the next week or so and be vigilant with water changes. Try to do daily 20% water changes if your schedule permits or or if not, remember to do weekly 30-50% water changes to vacum up all the dead “Ick” parasites that have fallen onto the substrate. Hopefully, your tank should have fully recovered and you can go about your normal fishkeepng duties. Please note that this method is suitable for aquariums without shrimps. If you have shrimps, click here.

Bedroom Aquarium Update

Here is a new update for my room aquarium. My room aquarium is a 20 litre glass aquarium without a chiller however I am planning to get one at the end of this year. Here are the aquarium specifications:

  • Tank size (in litres): 20
  • Lighting: Unknown Brand Clip-on LED light
  • Filtration: 1 X Ehiem Pick-Up 250
  • Substrate: ADA Amazonian AquaSoil
  • Plants: Hygrophila difformis and Lindernia rotundifolia ‘Variegated’ Hygrophila
  • Chiller:-
  • Fish: 1 X Bronze Corydora, 2 Rumy Nose Tetras and 3 Neon Tetras
My Bedroom Aquarium Side-view
A view of the aquarium

This tank has undergone a lot of change since the past two years as at first, it was a goldfish tank with little decoration other than a lone driftwood plant that kept dying because it had no roots. I used to keep goldfish but their life expenctancy was rather short and I could not accommodate more than two fishes in my tank as the thrid would always die shortly afterwards.

DIY Water dispenser

Then I reared Cichlids in my planted tank but then I was using a comercial 6 watt bulb which gave little light to my plants, causing their growth to be stunted. I learnt my lesson that Lighting was very important in keeping plants and hence I set out to replace the lamp with a brighter, more reliable and energy-saving. I then chose LED as LED consumes less energy but gives the desired results- lush, green water plants that are not stunted and sometimes can be seen photosynthesising in the light. That was my ultimate goal that I have been striving for.
I have also used this aquarium as a testing ground for CO2. Although using CO2 yields the result of the plant rapidly growing, experience has told me that altough CO2 helps the plants, it also aids Algae in multiplying and growing much quicker. Although some plants require large quantities of CO2 to grow well, my plants I had and have here in my aquarium are easy-growing plants that require simply low temperature and moderate lightng to thrive and prosper. Hence, I have hung up my CO2 equiptment and focused more on maintaining a suitable temperature for my fish and aquatic plants.
Since Algae thrive and multiply quicker in warmer waters, the first preventive measure is to decrease the temperature of the water, which works well in my case. Then one can proceed to dose Seachem Flourish Excel into the water on a regular basis so as to control the growth of Algae. However, I do not believe in using Flourish Excel as the main preventive measure as Flourish Excel is somewhat poisonous. Overdosing can be lethal for shrimp and other smaller organisms that reside in the aquarium. Flourish Excel contains a very high amount of nutrients and must be followed by a water change after dosing for a few days, adding to inconvenience.
I have also made a DIY water dispenser wth does a Auto-Top-Off when the water is low. It is exceptionally ideal with such as small aquarium since water evaporates very quickly and water level decreases exponentially.

Bedroom Aquarium
Hygrophila difformis in my aquarium
Hygrophila difformis

Living Room Aquarium Update

Today I would like to show you my 180 litre aquarium which has been running for about 4 months. It has a variety of plants and they are thriving very well the 25 Degree Celsius water. The aquarium specifications are as follows:

Size (In Litres): 180
Lighting: 1 X GreenElement 2 feet bracket light
: 1 X BeamsWorks 2 feet bracket light
Filtration: 2 X Ehiem Canister Filter Model 2213 with bioballs
: 1 X Homemade Surface Skimmer
Substrate: ADA Amazonian AquaSoil
Chiller: Hailea Model 150A
Plants: Ludwigia peruensis, Lindernia rotundifolia ‘Variegated’ Hygrophila difformis, Nymphaea zenkeri ‘Red’ Ny. ‘Tiger Lotus Red’
Fish: About 100 Neon Tetras, 5 Bronze Corydoras and 1 Siamese Algae Eater
Shrimps: About 8 Yamato Shrimps

My 180 litre freshwater aquarium

I personally feel that the chiller has helped tremendously in fending off the algae in my aquarium. Ever since I receive the Chiller second-hand the algae has never blossomed and I can attribute that to the Chiller. I don’t have a Carbon Dioxide System but my plants, especially the ‘Tiger Lotus Red’ and the Hygrophila difformis are blooming in full-bloom. My basic piece of advice to all beginner aquarist is to purchase a chiller because in a tropical country like Singapore, temperatures in the aquarium can soar to 32 Degrees and that will stimulate algae growth.
My shrimps do a good job of clearing the waste matter in my tank and they also aid a little in removing dead algae off the log and rocks, keeping my aquarium in tip-top condition.

My Aquarium From a side-view.

Water Changes are done once a week as keeping the water stale will result in a layer of oil forming on the surface of the water. The filters run 24/7 and so does the Chiller. However the Chiller has a built-in thermostat that allows it to power-off at night and conserve electricity when the temperature is 1 Degree below the desired temperature set. The interactive display allows me to key in the temperature I want to set the aquarium water to with ease and the Chiller will kick in shortly after until the temperature has reached one degree below the set temperature. The Chiller intake fan filter can be cleaned and that increases the performance of the chiller.

My Hailea Chiller with temperature set at 25 Degrees

My filters have a flow rate of 440 litres per hour and the circulation around my tank is good for a planted aquarium. The filters have to be cleaned once a month and the pipes are scrubbed clean. My surface skimmer skims the water surface for floating particles and is connected to my light timer so it only operates in the day.

My Ehiem 2213
My Surface Skimmer

My lightings are connected onto a timer so there is a stipulated time when it turns on and turns off. Both lights are LED and emit low amounts of heat and thus are ideal for my chilled aquarium.

For my substrate I use ADA Aquasoil that is premade and packed so it can be used immediately without the need to add any fertilizer or extra nutrients. One pack costs $40 when bought from Fresh N Marine Online store. I bought 5 packets so delivery came free since I spent more than $200 after buying other stuff.


Panoramic view of my aquarium.
Top view of my aquarium. Notice that there is very little or no oil at all on the surface of the aquarium because I just did a water change.

By: Chuachuafransisco on

Welcome to the Practical Fishkeeper website

Welcome to my Fishkeeping blog dedicated to Fishkeepers. I live in Singapore and hence any advice will be based on the current aquarium hobbyist situation in Singapore. Prices quoted in this blog are also in Singapore currency and any infomation stated in this blog is valid in time of writing. The comments page is open to debate and I will also post videos on my own aquarium on the “videos” page. Thank you and I hope that you find the following blog useful.