Readers Questions: How do I stop a powerful filter disturbing my substrate

Dave couldnt get a eheim powerball but been advised aqua one 102f is next best thing for my 64l tank ive put it just under the water level kept other filter in coz of keeping bacteria levels up turned it on and omg cant tell u how its kicking up the sand etc. Ive turned it off at mo cant see the fish …. will it be ok shall i just run it to see how it clears it says suitable for up to 70l


Just ignoring the specifics for a minute and looking at the main problem there are several ways you can address the issue of a powerful filter disturbing the substrate in your tank.

Rule of thumb here is to point the water jets or outlet from the filter towards the surface.  Now in most externals this is easy, use a spraybar on the output and twist it so its pointing up and across the tank kinda diagonally, don’t point it directly so it’ll come out of the surface otherwise you’re going to get very wet.  Put the outlet and one end and have it spraying full length of the tank.

With internal filters its a little more difficult not every filter comes with a spraybar.  The thing to remember here is that filters don’t have to be upright to work! By that I mean you can have your filter horizontal across one end of the tank or on a diagonal which should give you a measure of targeting to  get the filter outlet aiming away from the bottom.  Some filters also come with left right horizontal adjustment on their outlet, once the filter is on its size suddenly left right becomes vertical up down so you can really target the water flow up wards.

Other usually more expensive (though not a requirement by any means) internal filters come with a flow rate adjuster so you can turn the flow down an example of this would be the TetraTek IN range of internal filters.

aqua one 102f

In this specific case the Aqua One 102F comes with a spraybar attachment instead of an outlet simply turn it so the jets are pointing slightly upwards and along the length of the tank and you should be fine with no more disturbance in the substrate.  Now there is a little caveat to that if the tank isn’t very wide the spraybar may still be too powerful as by decreasing the size of the output holes it increases the speed of the water flow!

You can change the output again to the wide open end making sure to use the venturi pipe (letting in air via the venturi also slows the flow down) as above lay the filter horizontal and use the twist action of the output to point it upwards and across the tank.  Don’t be afraid to lay the filter near the bottom of the tank either there’s no rule that says the output needs to be at the top!

Readers Questions: Lighting advice for a new keeper

hi i am a new to fish keeping , i have got 8 fish in my tank got 6 tetras 2 zebra danois wanted to know as the fish live in the tank can i switch off the lights to give them a rest then put it on in the morning will this make a diffrence to them

First up no the fish don’t depend on the light at all with a few exceptions they’d be perfectly happy with just the natural sunlight they get.  Unless you run a heavily planted tank I’d only leave your lights on for a max of 3-4 hours in an evening when it gets darker.  If you run them all day/night not only is it costing you a fortune in energy but the fish are getting no rest period ie: night and you’re massively increasing your chances of having to deal with green water or an algae bloom.

Rule of thumb don’t turn the lights on before 5pm :) and turn them off by 10pm.  I have mine on timers to achieve this.

Update on last Reader Question

Update: today Andy is not doing well. All of her fines are frailed at the end and she has lots of red under her skin. She is not moving around at all and breathing abnormally.

Unfortunately as before there’s not much you can do just make sure the water is in top quality its well oxygenated. May be worth while sticking a couple of airstones in if you can to increase surface movement and oxygen levels.

There’s no real potions or lotions you can use for this and to be honest 99% of them don’t work anyway. All you can do is sit back and wait. If it looks like she’s being bullied you could remove the bullying fish or move her to a holding tank on her own for a while (although this may further stress her) but apart from that sit back and keep your fingers crossed.

Another TV show looking for kids and their pets

Name: Richard Hunt
Comment: Hi,

Hope this email finds you well,

I’m currently working for the Disney Channel on a new kids TV series called Furry
Friends. Each 3 minute episode will look at a child and their relationship with
their pet.

We’re looking to cast a 4-7 year old who is a great little character along with
their pet Fish. We will look at their daily routine showing the care and
responsibility of having an animal as well as all the fun that goes with it.

I wondered if you either knew of any young families who might be interested in
taking part, or if you are able to post something to your website. If you are I’d be
most grateful of you passing on my details – 0208 222 5935 or

Many thanks for your time and help.


0208 222 5935

Reader Questions: Help my pleco escaped the tank what can I do?

Last night I found our bristlenose catfish, Andy out of her tank. I do not know how long she had been out. When I picked her up to put her back in her tank she was still breathing but she was dry and her tail was stiff. Once back in the tank she went belly up a few times and each time I turned her back over. This morning she is still alive but breathing rapidly. Andy is not moving much and even let me pet her in the water. Usually Andy is very skittish and hides at the sight of anyone or any noise. She is sucking the side of the tank out in the open and has not moved from that spot for a few hours now. I have also noticed that the bottom half of her body has turned lighter in color almost to the point of being completely white. Her normal color is black and goldishbrown. What can I do to help her?

She’s currently massively stressed thats why she’s changed colour and she’s not really moving. Pleco’s are one of the few fish that can actually survive out of water for a fair length of time able to take in atmospheric oxygen.

As long as she was alive when you put her in the tank and she’s not floating belly up any longer (she’ll have been floating belly up from taking in atmospheric oxygen).
Just leave her alone she’ll either recover or die unfortunately but since she’s not dead already within 24h chances are she’ll be fine just make take a few weeks to fully recover / settle back down. She’s in massive shock don’t poke or prod her any further just leave her on the glass.

Only thing you may want to do to help settle her down a little is turn your tank lights off and leave them off for a few days pleco’s are happier in darkness

Readers Questions: When will my bristlenose plecs breed?

This was initially asked as a comment on the bristlenose plec page however I think its a pretty good question to warrant a more indepth answer.

Hi,l have an established 250 later fish tank,with 18 gold fish,and four bristle nosed pleco’s,l have plenty of clay pots ect,very clean tank,and a regular tempature of 24 C,my fish are a happy bunch,my pleco’s are reaching 6 months old,will they breed,and when ?,do l need to add more artificial plants to protect any Fry,am l a good keeper of fish,or am l doing something wrong.

First things first well done a nice clean tank with a stable temperature (and I assume water parameters) is excellent fish keeping regardless of fish kept.

Now for your questions. When will they breed? well first up you have to make sure you have at least one male and one female :) difference is easy to spot male will have spikes around his head even if they’re not very big they should be showing by 6 months, he’ll also be a little pointier and thinner around the head than the female the female will have no bristles a stubbier almost 50p shaped head quite wide around the gills, she’ll also be a little tubbier into the belly area too.

Now if you have a pair 6 months will be starting to get ready I’ve had some do it much younger (younger than I thought was actually possible!) some have been much older before they’ve spawned. Just be patient and look after your tank and they’ll do it themselves.
Its worth noting though that while the fish in general may be nice and happy around breeding time horny males when you have more males than females may get aggressive with each other and so stop each other breeding. Its also worth noting that first time breeders don’t always get it right sometimes they eat the eggs, sometimes the kick the eggs out, sometimes they forget to stay in the cave and look after them. Its nothing to worry about it just happens they usually get the hang of it after a couple of attempts.

Artificial or any plants for that matter are optional with most plecs alot of breeders just breed them in empty tanks with just caves in. You may want to check your breeding pots have only one entrance and not 2 or more remember the male needs to trap the female inside the cave/pot. Also make sure the entrances to the caves are quite small with most plecs they’ll actually fit in caves that you’d think were far too small for them they usually prefer it a little tight. One of my biggest bristlenose males always preferred a cave that was no bigger than 2x2cm on its entrance i was always shocked he fit let alone him + a female.

With your males look for a bright red patch on his head (harder to stop on common bn’s but still visible) when this is proper glowing red it means he’s in his prime looking for a female. You may also notice that he picks a certain cave and stays in it / hangs around and on top of it and rarely moves that’ll be the cave he’s now picked as his breeding cave and its just a case of him encouraging a female into it. He’ll become very protective of that cave.

All in though with BN’s just leave them too it, keep the water in tip top condition and feed them well with veg etc and when they’re ready assuming you have males and females they’ll eventually get jiggy with it with very little input from you. Always best when you’re first starting out before you start with the tricks to encourage them to spawn faster / more frequently.
As usual with this hobby patience is key!

Good luck I’d love to see some pictures of the little wrigglers when they do breed.

Good news! More reviews on their way

Hopefully I’ll have some shiny new items to review for you all. while I have my personal preferences of what I’d like to review I’d also like to hear back from you the readers. What would you like to see me review? What are you considering as a purchase for your new tank but you don’t want to go in blind before buying?
Let me know and I’ll see what I can do it can be anything from tanks to filters to heaters and lighting to power heads you name it if I can get it to review I will!

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