Instant Ocean® Marine salt mix

The most important thing in keeping Marine life is the water or more importantly the salt you use to make up your marine water. There are many mixes out there and new ones coming on the market all the time making all sorts of claims.

Instant Ocean is one of the oldest and the market leader if sales are anything to go by.

Instant Ocean salt has been around for decades and is a tried and tested artificial marine salt mix.

In 1964 William Kelley formulated an artificial marine salt replicated as closely as possible to natural seawater. Using a formula based on the one used at Frankfurt Zoo he managed to reach his goal, and created a synthetic sea salt that would maintain invertebrates indefinitely. He called it Instant Ocean®.

During the late 1960s and early ’70s they continued to tweak the formula making it the market leader that bit is today.

Now we can all regardless of where we live can make up with confidence a marine solution that will support a healthy and vibrant marine system.

Instant Ocean® remains the standard for scientific research in marine environments.  It has been used by NASA and, with proven results, in numerous public aquariums and parks, including SeaWorld, Orlando; Shedd Aquarium, Chicago; Wonders of Wildlife Museum, Springfield, Ill.; Columbus (Ohio) Zoo & Aquarium; the (Atlanta) Georgia Aquarium; The Dallas World Aquarium; Underwater Adventure in the Mall of America, Minnesota; Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas; the Denver Zoo; and many others.

 At ValueAquatics we offer Instant Ocean® in four handy easy to use sizes.

Instant Ocean Sea Salt 60ltr – 2kg

Instant Ocean Sea Salt 120ltr – 4kg

Instant Ocean Sea Salt 240ltr – 8kg

Instant Ocean Sea Salt 750ltr – 25kg bucket


New Aquarium Start up.

VALUEaQUATICS    New Aquarium Start up. 

When setting an aquarium up for the first time you need to get the Good bacteria built up and working in the Aquarium. This is because the build up of the fish waste basically ammonia does not get broken down as there is very little to none of the good bacteria in the system.

So there are two ways of doing this.

The old method is to use some fish that are more tolerant to the high ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels until the bacteria can get going. This takes up to 4 weeks in a tropical aquarium and up to 6 weeks in cold water set up.

Neon tetras are usually used as starter fish, even so expect to lose a few in the process,

The other method is to simply add the bacteria from a bottle which kick starts everything from the start.  There are a lot of different products out there that mostly do the same thing. I’ll mention two that are slightly different.

Stress Zyme by API is a biological filter additive and contains 100 million live bacteria in every 5ml. This helps to keep a naturally balanced aquarium by eliminating the sludge building up which prevents the ammonia and nitrite levels from escalating during the start up or the nitrogen cycle. In so doing reduces the time before you can add more fish to the system. You still need the starter fish as without the fish waste the bacteria that you have added to the system dies off as there is no food for it. It will still take a week or two before I would add any more fish and keep testing the water for Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite every three days until you get a 0 reading on all of them.

Stress Zyme is available from ValueAquatics in 30ml, 60 ml, 120ml 480ml and 3.785lt.

The other of the new methods is something of a break through and I was very sceptical of it until ValueAquatics customers started to sing its praises and I tried it myself.

It is a Tetra product SafeStart all you do is set up the aquarium and switch everything on and leave it to run for 24 hours. This is to make sure everything is working correctly and the correct temperature is being maintained.

Then add 5ml of SafeStart per 6 litres of aquarium water and at the same time add your fish as normal and it is done.

Available from ValueAquatics in 50ml and 100ml sizes.

Although I would not recommend fully stocking the aquarium straight away but with moderation, as we all know things can go wrong, and I would still recommend testing the water every 3 days for the first few weeks as a precaution.

One customer did not head our advice and fully stocked his aquarium with a lot of tropical fish and it worked. Personally I would err on the side of caution.


API Melafix

Melafix is a natural antibacterial remedy made from Tea Tree oil. It can quickly repair damage from bacterial infections like fin rot, mouth fungus very effectively. Melafix also works on open wounds and increases the fish’s resistance to infections. I find that it woks best when used together with Stress Coat.

It can be used as a preventative and used whenever you introduce new fish to your aquarium. It does not harm your filter and will not discolour the water or harm plants.

Marines: Although it does say it is safe for marines and reef systems I would use it with caution as ~I have found that it causes a lot of foam initially in salt water system especially in skimmers so add slowly.

ValueAquatics have both 120ml and 237ml sizes for sale.


API Bio Chem Zorb

Bio Chem Zorb is a filter medium that is a mix of two organic scavenger resins, two pharmaceutical grade ion-exchange resins and Activated Carbon in an easy to use pouch.
First rinse the pouch under the tap to wash off any dust from the outside, then place the  pouch inside an internal or external filter in the last compartment. Can be used in either freshwater or marine aquariums, in a marine aquarium it can be placed in the sump.
It takes out the brown discolouration in freshwater aquariums caused by the tannins in bogwood almost overnight leaving crystal clear water.

Removes organic waste
Suitable for both fresh and marine aquariums
Removes toxic heavy metals
Removes toxic gases, foul odours, phenols and water discolouration
Does not contain phosphates
Removes light blocking impurities for improved growth of plants and corals in marine aquariums
Removes aquarium medications and treatments.

Using Bio Chem Zorb in a marine Aquarium
It is extremely useful in taking out refractory organics in the water or the “Yellow Water” that occurs when organic pollutants reduce the amount of light that is necessary for the well being of most marine invertebrates.

ValueAquatics sell API Bio Chem Zorb as a 283g pillow (enough to treat up to 208 litres).

We also have the
Bio Chem Zorb Proof through Science Video


Feeding the Bottom Dwellers in an Aquarium

The problem when feeding your aquarium fish is that the fish that live at the bottom get very little food, as those at the top and mid water get the majority of the food. The answer is to feed your catfish, loaches etc., on Hikari Tropical Sinking Wafers for tropical fish. Hikari have formulated the wafers after many years of research into the feeding habits of Corydoras other catfish and Loaches.

 Hikari Sinking wafers contain Fish meal, wheat-germ meal, wheat flour, alpha starch, soybean meal, fish oil, dried seaweed meal, krill meal, dried bakery product, brewer’s dried yeast, spirulina, enzyme, astaxanthin, garlic, DL-methionine, monosodium glutamate, vitamins and minerals including stabilized vitamin C.

All to keep the bottom dwellers healthy and active. Never overfeed the fish feed only once a day one wafer will be enough for most average community aquariums. If any of the wafers is left after hour either siphon it out or net it out with a fine net.

Perfect nutritional food
High levels of vegetable matter
High in vitamin C reduces stress and improves disease resistance
Does not dissolve or cloudy the aquarium water
ValueAquatics offer Hikari Tropical Sinking Wafers in two sizes 25g & 110g


Gravel Cleaning

Sadly Gravel cleaning is one of those things that most people miss out in the aquarium maintenance and it is the most important task. As with most UK Aquariums there are very few plants in the aquariums so a build up of detritus builds up unseen in the gravel. Due to this phosphate and Nitrate levels increase causing an outbreak of algae and when it gets very high the fish start to mysteriously die off.

So as part of a weekly maintenance regime a quick gravel wash can be incorporated with the weekly water change. One of the best bits of inexpensive kit that you will buy for your Aquarium will be a gravel cleaner. There are quite a few to choose from and they mostly work on the same siphon principal and are very easy to use.

1. Place the gravel cleaner completely submerged into the aquarium including tubing. Have a bucket on the floor under the aquarium.

2. Put your thumb or finger over the siphon tube and lift out over the aquarium, making sure the wide big rigid tube stays under the water.

3. Release your thumb or finger when the siphon tube is over the bucket, and by simply raising or lowering the end of the siphon you can regulate the flow.

4. Clean the gravel by pushing the end of the large bore tube into the gravel and watch the dirt get sucked out agitating and leaving the gravel behind.

Continue this going round the plants try not to go through the roots if possible. A bucket of water is about the correct amount for a 3’ aquariums in one go unless it is extremely dirty. If it is extremely dirty and there are high phosphate and or nitrate levels a lot of small water changes are better than one massive change. If the phosphate or Nitrate is very high then a phosphate/Nitrate remover should be used along with water changes and gravel washes every other day until levels return to normal. The two best removers are a Polyfilter or Cleanwater both are either added to an external filter or an internal filter.

ValueAquatics offer what we think is the best Gravel cleaner on the market  the Interpet Prime Gravel Cleaner comes in five sizes Mini, Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large for those deep aquariums. The interpet Gravel Cleaners come with an integrated one way valve in the head so that the siphon can be started by plunging the gravel cleaning end up and down in the water to start the siphon. I do not like this method as it causes a lot of stress to the fish I prefer the method I described earlier it is quicker and less stressful to the fish.


Setting up your aquarium

Do you have problems growing plants in your aquarium? Do they just turn yellow and die? Then the problem is one of two things not enough food in the gravel or not enough light. Usually light is not a problem rather too much, that’s a problem for another day. Most people when setting up an aquarium do not think of the plants but rather more on the fish and just throw in the gravel (washed if it’s lucky) then fill it up with cold water add the plants then the filter, heater, lights etc., and switch on and wonder why the plants die off.

The main reason is that there is no food for the plants to live on; you would not live long without food. An aquarium is an enclosed system and virtually sterile when it is new and both fish and plants struggle for the first month or so until good bacteria and food is being produced. Plants get their food from sunlight and the roots, so at first you should supply the roots with some sort of fertiliser or feed and Valueaquatics have the answer TetraPlant Complete Substrate. This has been formulated to create the perfect natural substrate possible. It has all the elements to release nutrients over a long period of time supporting plants, micro-organisms and the well being of the fish. There is no added Nitrate or phosphate to encourage algae growth.

Setting up you aquarium.

It is very simple to use, simply add a 2cm layer of TetraPlant CompleteSubstrate to the bottom of the Aquarium and then cover this with 2-3cm of washed aquarium gravel. For best results use 1-3mm dia., aquarium gravel. It is important to wash the gravel as it contains a lot of dust, wash in small quantities not by the bucket. The best method is to use an old kitchen sieve and wash a few mugs full at a time under the cold water tap full on until the water runs clear from the bottom of the sieve, then put it into a bucket until you have enough to carry then tip this on top of the TetraPlant CompleteSubstrate. When finished put an old plate into the aquarium and a jug or large jar on the plate. Then fill the aquarium from a (hose not too fast) if you have a mixer tap use it to take the chill off the water not warm or hot, you might crack the glass. Run the water into the jug, the water fills the jug and runs down the sides onto the plate and fills the aquarium without disturbing the substrate. While this is filling add the Aquarium heater, filter(do not turn any electrics on leave them unplugged) and add the plants you will need more than you think, most people will spend £30+ on fish and wince at spending £5 on plants. For a 36” x 12” x 12” reckon on at least £30-£40 on plants for a general community aquarium.

When the Aquarium is filled to the required depth and you have all the Filters heaters, rocks, bogwood etc, set up, put the hood on and plug everything in one at a time checking each one is working. The heater look at it after a few minutes and you should see the convection currents raising from it, otherwise leave it running and check the thermometer every hour or so to see if the temperature is rising, you will get bubbles appearing on the inside glass and ornaments this is good and will disappear in 24 hours or so. There are two ways to go now the old fashioned way or the new. I can recommend the new unless you want to wait a week before adding any fish? Okay your impatient so after 24 hours and the temperature on the thermometer is showing 22-28°f the filter and lights are running correctly you can go to the Aquatics shop and get some fish but first make sure you have some Tetraaqua Tetra Safe Start and add 5ml of Safestart for every 6 litres of aquarium water and at the same time adding the fish, this is very important. ValueAquatics recommends a stocking level of adult fish equivalent to 1cm for every litre of Aquarium water.

Your Aquarium is now up and running enjoy it they will give hours of fun and entertainment. A couple of points: Some plants will float up just keep pushing them into the gravel. Take off and lead weights I find that they crush the stems so they rot rather than root. Any plants that keep floating take a small flattish stone and lay the plant down putting the stone on top of the bottom of the plant stalk. Leave it for a week or so then the stone can be taken off ant the plant will be rooted. The water may not be crystal clear at first, don’t worry the fine particles will soon settle and be taken out by the filter.

TetraPlant Complete Substrate available from ValueAquatics in 2.8kg & 5.8kg buckets Tetraaqua Tetra Safe Start is available from ValueAquatics in 50ml & 100ml.