What kind of light do you have?

I am the designated Plant Person™ at the shop,  and customers will come up and ask about aquatic plants… So I first ask them, ‘What kind of light do you have?’ to get a general idea of what may live in their tank.

I get the vaguest answers anywhere from “it’s a bar light” , “it’s an LED”, to “it’s a light bulb”.

 I just tell people that I can’t really help them without knowing their light source but here is some low light plants that may or may not work. They almost always still go for rotala indica and red ludwigia anyway despite my warning, while at the same time saying “our light is brighter than this”. 

We have two 48″ Fluval plant LEDs running across the monster +-200g tank. orz

Now I’m not well-versed in light stuff but there is only so much light in the visible spectrum that the human eye is able to see. Blue and Red are near the furthest ends of the spectrum we can see…

Blue light-450-490 nm wavelength light- penetrates water deeper than other colors of the spectrum. Blue is necessary for photosynthesis as well as red ~650-700 nm wavelength light. Red light-and anything in between blue and red-is easily lost as it penetrates deeper in the water. 

Blue light makes things look very bright!! The brightness of your light does not determine its useful output!


Pizza Toast from Orenchi no Furo Jijou, V1

As requested by @merman-in-my-tub! I’m naming it V1 because not exactly satisfied with how it turned out, because the bread is too thin, so maybe I’ll make another version when I have time to make my own bread again, and can control the thickness of the bread. But the toppings tasted excellent!

I was wondering if the meat should be pepperoni or salami, or something of that sort, but then I found a roll of Japanese Arabiki ham (or so it says). 

Ingredients (for 1 slice)

  • ¼ a yellow onion
  • ¼ a green pepper
  • 3 slices Arabiki ham
  • Pizza Cheese (I used Gouda)
  • Tomato sauce
  • 1 piece of (thick) bread


  1. Slice onion and pepper
  2. Spread tomato sauce onto bread
  3. Put the toppings on, making sure there’s enough cheese around to hold everything together when it melts!
  4. Grill/Bake in a toaster oven or regular oven until the cheese melts and some golden spots are seen!
  5. (Or: Method 2: Make your friend make this and then steal it from him)

Ps: This is a funny anime of short clips and handsome guys, thanks for the rec!

What causes pH swings? How do I change my pH? What the heck is “hard” water?

                                       pH, GH, & KH

These three things are often overlooked by the Aquarist. Knowing your levels and knowing the basic chemistry can prevent future aquatic life losses in regards to pH. 

pH measures how acidic or basic something is. pH 7 is neutral, pH 1 - pH 6.9 is acidic, while pH 7.1 through pH 14 is Alkaline/basic. 

A pH drop indicates an increase of Hydrogen cations [H+] - making the water more acidic. 

Reversely, a pH increase would mean an increase of hydroxide anions [OH -] or Hydroxil ions - making the water more alkaline/basic. 

The presence of these + -  ions is how we measure the pH of our water.

GH aka General Hardness or Total Hardness, measures the total other minerals in the water such as Magnesium, Sodium ,Sulfur , Chlorine, Potassium, etc….

High GH corresponds to what’s called “Hard” water. Hard water fishes need more minerals like Magnesium which helps with their breathing, immunity, and bone growth. Hard water also absorbs heavy metals thus reducing toxicity of them in water.

Low GH has low mineral content and is “Soft” water. Care must be taken when dosing with medications such as copper as they are more easily absorbed by the fish. Soft water fish don’t need as many minerals and thus it’s harder for them to adjust to hard water. It’s easier for hard water fish to adjust to soft, however.  

KH is the measure of bicarbonate and carbonate ions in water-Carbonate Hardness. These prevent the pH from budging at all. 

It’s a pH stabilizer

So when someone says “whats your water hardness” likely they mean KH because a stable KH is important to a stable aquarium pH. 

A drop in KH, or KH+GH together means a swing in pH. But for kicks and giggles give them all three values. 

Things that can cause + or - pH swings…

  • Excessive Fertilizer. Broken Down Urea molecules = slightly acidic , Broken Down Ammonia molecules = slightly alkaline compounds : nitrifying bacteria lower the kH slightly 
  • Excessive CO2 - Carbon Dioxide being absorbed into the water or injected in the water…lowers kH and therefore pH
  • Plant processes (They give out Hydrogen ions or Hydroxil ions depending on what they absorb) most of the time they lower the kH potentially causing swings if water top offs aren’t preformed
  • any excessive acidic intake or any excessive alkaline intake…adding buffers or different substrates, marine salt , etc
  • R/O reverse osmosis water which has a neutral pH and no minerals whatsoever
  • Lack of water top offs and water changes to replace any loss of kH…
  • Chemicals. Chemicals leaking from decorations or dropped accidentally in the water…some medications

How do I change my pH and keep it there?

Increasing or lowering the pH and keeping it stable can be tricky. The easiest and most preferred way to change your pH is to change your water source to one with preferable levels. 

It’s not wise to only add pH changing chemicals (ie pH Up or pH Down) to a water source that already has a low kH value. The water will shift dramatically and potentially kill the fish.

To Raise pH: Increase KH or GH+KH by using Aquarium buffers and if needed coral substrate or marine salt or even egg shells. The buffers will keep the water from shifting.There are many kinds of buffers to suit your desired pH level. 

To Lower pH: A lot more complicated. To lower pH you must lower the mineral content in the water. 
You could try using chemical buffers+CO2 dosing, peat moss, etc …. Though that is very dangerous and must be done with extreme caution Every Time you add new water to the tank. It’s very difficult to control!!!

Frankly the safest and easiest way to do it is through the use of R/O - reverse osmosis water.

R/O water + slight buffer would need to be introduced to the tank water very slowly to gradually reduce the pH.  After some time you would be completely converted to R/O water + kH buffers as your only water source. You have to add the buffering minerals back into the water!  If you don’t have an R/O unit of your own this can be costly, about 60 cents per gallon of water! 


All wildlife can only tolerate small swings of pH. There are some animals that cannot handle any change at all. 

Most fish and aquatic plants however are able to adapt to a wide range of pH levels and most are already happily acclimated to water in your local area at the fish store. Most of the time no pH change is necessary. 

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS drip acclimate your new fish. The bagging method is not enough if your parameters are vastly different from the fish’s natural habitat and/or from the fish store water. Drip acclimation DIY instructions are everywhere and a simple one can be made by tying a knot on a spare airline. 

Well Water that is run through a water softener may have the magnesium+calcium ions that are converted into SODIUM ions. This will kill plants & some fish that are salt sensitive.  Change your water source in this case if needed.

Bettas Need Homes

I have one female crowntail Spoon and one male plakat betta named Queenie that I will need to be rehomed : (. I would say they are both almost 2 years old. 

Spoon has been bred twice and gets very very eggy! Do not be alarmed by her egg power! She does well with a bit of veggies once a week to help her pass poop … I’ve been watching her feeding habits for quite a few weeks. She is very sweet, but will attack other bettas on sight.  I do not want her to be bred again as my condition for sale. I love her very much, she just needs a peaceful forever home. 

 Queenie is a Giant HM plakat! He’s about 2 1/2″ - 3″ long with a very stocky thick body. I think his body is two - three times the size of the average betta. I got him at a very young age, and he is tolerant of other non-betta/non-colorful fish. He would do okay in a community tank with smaller schooling fish.  HE IS A JUMPER!

I’ll get these two isolated in clear boxes for a photo-shoot soon. I have prior fish shipping experience! 

A General Fish Care Tip From Me

Hello! Most general fish-keeping problems (especially for beginners!) are caused by these four things:

  1. You’re Over-Feeding: You are overfeeding your fish, and excess food is decaying in the tank and your fish are excreting more waste than usual, or not pooping at all.
  2. You’re Over-Stocking: You have too many fish for your tank and filter to handle.
  3. The Tank is Under-Maintained: You have not performed routine maintenance such as (but not limited to!)  water changes, and substrate bed cleanings. Things like not testing water parameters may also fall in this category.
  4. The Tank is Under-Filtered: You have no filter or your filter is not powerful enough for the tank size and bioload of fish.

Something wrong with your tank? Remember this rule to help you deduce what’s wrong and take better care of your fish babies:

The “Over-Over, Under-Under” Rule:

  • Over-Fed
  • Over-Stocked
  • Under-Maintained
  • Under-Filtered

So with this rule we can say-generally speaking-that it’s best to Under-Feed and Under-Stock, and best to Over-Maintain and Over-Filter.


(Credits for this rule came from my boss at the time, Tom, at The Ark Pet Shop in Merriville, Indiana. )