Aquatic Supplies and Accessories
Also known as charcoal, carbon is used in most filtration systems and devices. In some systems, you will use loose carbon (generally placed a mesh bag or in a container used with a canister filter). In other systems, a filter cartridge will hold the carbon. Aquarium odors, chemicals, and dissolved waste are trapped inside the pores of the carbon. It is used to remove medication residue, discoloration, or cloudy water.
Carbon needs to be changed regularly. Activated carbon will no longer effectively absorb anything after about 3 to 4 weeks and should be replaced. Check its effectiveness by putting aquarium water in a clean, clear glass. Place the glass on white paper. If the paper looks yellow through the glass, it's time to change the carbon.
If you need to medicate your aquarium, you'll need to remove the carbon or filter cartridge when treating your sick fish. Otherwise, the carbon will absorb the medication. Once the medication has run its course, use fresh carbon (or a new filter cartridge) in your aquarium.
Whenever you replace a filter cartridge, always rinse the filter cartridge before putting it in the power filter. If you don't do this, you'll have a black cloud of residue from the charcoal powder in the filter cartridge. This will most likely blacken your clean aquarium water. Use dechlorinated water or take out some of the aquarium water to rinse the new carbon cartridge. Remember you will rely on the bacteria buildup on the carbon cartridge as part of your biological filtration. Any chlorine residue will inhibit bacteria growth.
Aquarium backing covers the back of the aquarium, and may be either a solid color or may have a scene, such as plants or coral. In addition to making the aquarium more attractive, they also hide cords and tubing, give the fish a sense of security, and add depth to the aquarium. Backings are available in pre-sized packages, or in a large roll that is cut to fit the size of your aquarium.
There are a number of scrubbers available, depending on your need. Algae Scrubbers are designed to scrub the algae from the sides of the aquarium. If you have an acrylic aquarium, use only scrubbers that are clearly packaged as being safe to use on acrylic.
A lift tube scrubber is shaped to work best for removing algae out of the lift tubes. A standard bottle scrubber works also, but it must be used exclusively for the aquarium.
A gravel vacuum/cleaner/siphon is used to remove loose debris from the bottom of the gravel bed without destroying the good bacteria that grows there. It is also used to siphon water out of the aquarium during routine water changes.
Vacuums do not remove the gravel from your aquarium. In fact, removing the gravel from your aquarium will destroy any good bacteria that have been established in the gravel bed.
A gravel vacuum should be used to remove fish waste and debris on a regular basis. It depends on the number of fish in the tank, but you should vacuum your gravel at least once every two weeks.
Thermometers can be either internal or external. Internal thermometers stand upright and are anchored to the glass with a suction cup or they can float. External thermometers are placed on the outside of the aquarium and may be either a dial or liquid crystal design (LCD). External thermometers should be installed on the end of the aquarium opposite the heater and out of direct sunlight.