Today’s aquarium owners are busy people. These hobbyists have a lot going on in their lives, and cleaning the aquarium may not be at the top of their “To Do” list. But maintaining a healthy, vibrant aquarium doesn’t have to be drudgery, and it doesn’t have to occupy an entire Saturday afternoon.
Devoting a little time and energy on a consistent basis will reap huge rewards for both the hobbyist and his/her tank inhabitants. It’s incumbent upon store owners and their staff to be proactive about giving customers incentives and equipping them with the proper knowledge and products to keep their aquariums thriving and looking their best.
Beginning hobbyists aren’t always sure what to do or when to do it. For many, the excitement of having their first aquarium overshadows the notion of doing preventive maintenance until either things start to go wrong or the shine of a new aquarium—literally—wears off.
All About Algae
The first act of maintenance most hobbyists encounter is algae removal. Happily, magnetic scrapers make this task easy, convenient and, well, almost fun! Aqueon’s Algae Cleaning Magnets come in four sizes, including a MiniBow version, and feature replaceable pads for glass or acrylic tanks.
For stubborn algae or purple coralline in marine aquariums, Gulfstream Tropicals’ Mag-Float scrapers can be fitted with a detachable metal blade that works well on glass. Keep scrapers on a live display and encourage your customers, especially kids, to try them.
Scrapers are great for tank walls, but what can be done about algae growth on ornaments and other décor items? Chemicals should never replace proper husbandry and maintenance habits, but the truth of the matter is that “algae occurs,” and most people aren’t too keen on removing and scrubbing everything in their aquarium. Retardants, like API’s Algaefix, Tetra’s AlgaeControl, Aqueon’s Algae Remover and Marineland’s Algae Eliminator, when used according to directions, can help prevent algae growth. Teach your customers of their proper use.
Clean Water and Gravel
For most experienced hobbyists, regular partial water changes and gravel vacuuming, where appropriate, are the cornerstone of an effective maintenance program. Happily, gone are the days of hauling buckets and slopping water all over the house—and yourself. Python Products’ No-Spill Clean and Fill is far and away the highest quality aquarium vacuum and refill system available on the market.
However, Aqueon’s Aquarium Water Changers and Lee’s Economy Ultimate Gravel Vac offer affordable alternatives. The best way to sell these systems is to keep one handy and demonstrate its use at every opportunity.
In a perfect world, aquariums remain pristine. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and organic debris can build up due to overfeeding, clogged filters, big dirty fish (and turtles) and a variety of other reasons. Again, chemicals should never be a substitute for good maintenance habits, but fortunately, technology can come to the rescue. Fritz Aquatics’ FritzZyme and API’s Sludge Destroyer both work well at oxidizing “mulm” and breaking it down for removal by a filter or vacuuming in freshwater aquariums. Kent Marine’s Poly-Ox can be used in either freshwater or marine aquariums.
A common problem hobbyists experience is cloudy water. Once again, proper feeding, filtration and maintenance habits should prevent this from occurring, but new hobbyists, especially, may experience this.
A number of safe, effective, quick remedies can come to the rescue. Kent Marine Pro-Clear Freshwater and Marine Clarifiers are effective coagulants, as are Aqueon Water Clarifier, Marineland Water Clarifier and Fritz Mardel Crystal Clear. These products work by clumping fine particles together, making them easy to remove by filtration or vacuuming.
Destroy Those Deposits
Lime deposits eventually appear on tank rims, filters, glass covers and other equipment, especially in regions with hard water. Aside from being unsightly, build-up on glass covers can severely reduce light penetration. Household chemicals can be harsh and potentially harmful to aquarium inhabitants. Aqueon Limescale Remover is designed specifically for aquarium use and quickly and easily removes light deposits. It can also be used as a soak for tougher jobs.
Salt creep happens to every marine hobbyist, especially where surface agitation is high. At the very least it can be unsightly, and at worst it can be downright dangerous if it gets into light fixtures and other electrical equipment. Kent Marine Salt Creep Eliminator inhibits salt adhesion and prevents it from corroding electrical wiring. It’s a nontoxic formula specifically developed for use on aquariums.
A sparkling, pristine aquarium is truly a sight to behold. Be sure to teach your staff to be proactive about helping your customers care for their aquariums inside and out. Ask questions, show them products and tools and teach them how to use them. Providing them with the right equipment and knowledge to keep their tanks looking their best will enable them to remain enthusiastic about fishkeeping and have them coming to you for advice, new toys and new critters!