“They know when Daddy’s in the tank,” Ron said.
Marjorie climbed the ladder as Ron waved at a group of shoppers who had stopped to watch him clean the tank with a brick-sized scrubber. Once he had the bucket of goldfish he scooped out a few with the same kind of green fish-scooping net that most aquarium owners have. He puts his hand over the opening of the scooper and swam to each of the three circular pillars and released some of the feeder fish. The goldfish were gone in seconds.
Small or large tanks
The Bederas are the owners of Aquatic Display, a Sparks business that sells and maintains aquariums. They maintain the tanks at Cabela’s, the Peppermill and other places in the area. They said the two 16,000-gallon aquariums at Scheels are oversized versions of well-equipped home aquariums. The equipment is much bigger, but home aquarium owners can still take lessons from their tanks’ larger cousins.
The tanks at Scheels are monitored by computers and send alerts to the Bederas if conditions go beyond a certain parameter. Both Ron and Marjorie said it is important for all tank owners to frequently check the water and visually inspect the tank. They said a home tank should require a half hour to an hour of maintenance per week.
The Bederas also said to change the water in the tank every month and not clean everything at the same time. Fish need to have good bacteria in the tank. If the entire tank is cleaned, there will not be enough bacteria to break down fish waste.
A common mistake people make is setting tanks up near bright windows, they said, explaining it causes algae to thrive.
Jack Ross, who maintains the 5,000 gallon tank in Trader Dicks at John Ascuaga’s Nugget, said they once had a big problem with algae in the tank. Above the tank, there are 13 lights, but he turned all of them off but one. That solved the problem.
Ross said it is important to remove dead fish immediately or they will release ammonia that can harm the whole tank. He also said he acclimates live rock in a bucket of tank water for a few days. He explained that the rock can release a large amount of ammonia that could kill the entire tank if he didn’t acclimate it first.
The Bederas said ammonia can be a problem but talked about a different way ammonia could get into the tank. They talked about a client who had dangerous ammonia levels in the tank every Monday. The readings were fine all through the week, but the levels spiked every weekend. The cause was cleaning products. The owners put mirrors around the tank to show off the fish, but the weekend cleaning crew used an ammonia-based cleaner to wash the mirrors and the outside of the tank. Ron said he warns all of his clients of the danger and suggests cleaning areas close to fish tanks with water. Marjorie recommended a vinegar-based solution for tougher jobs.
Acclimate fish slowly
The Bederas said it is important for water quality to bump up the number of fish in a tank gradually and start a tank with hardy fish.
It is impossible to start an aquarium with an expensive and delicate angelfish, Ron said. He recommends starting a tank with six feeder goldfish to get good bacteria going in the tank. Then replace them with the desired fish.