If you have live aquarium plants in your tank, you are probably familiar with Seachem Flourish Excel (or just Excel). It’s a liquid-based carbon source that helps boost plant growth and can help reduce algae. I swear by the stuff, but it can be seriously expensive.
It turns out it’s the same chemical as found in the industrial sterilizer Metricide. Hat tip to the good folks on Reddit for pointing it out in this thread.
Industrial cleaning chemicals are way cheaper than aquarium ones apparently. You can get a gallon jug for 20 dollars including free shipping on Ebay. Talk about cheap Seachem Excel!
Important tip: the Metricide comes with an activator solution. DO NOT USE IT. That activates the chemicals for sterilizing and would be very bad for your fish tank.
I think one of the hardest things about doing a nice aquarium is what to do about the background. I’m frugal, so I’ve used black plastic trash bags taped outside and then plants and decorations to take emphasis away from the fact I’m using a trash bag.
Perhaps you want something a little more… professional. 3D aquarium backgrounds are a great choice, but most are insanely expensive. I just ran across some really beautiful ones on BangGood that cost one heck of a lot less than the other ones I’ve seen.
If you have a planted tank, or any live aquarium plants, you probably also have aquarium snails. A couple are no big deal, but a couple snails will quickly grow to way too many in your fish tank. They always seem to be a pain to get rid of too. There’s chemical treatments that contain copper, but it can harm things like shrimp and I don’t like to add chemicals if I don’t have to.
Another option I tried to get rid of aquarium snails is to get an assassin snail, which hunts and eats other snails. I got one of those and it quickly disappeared into the jungle at the back of my tank. I have no idea what it’s up to.
Finally, I saw this gizmo on Deal Extreme today. A snail trap! It’s a simple design really, the snails are able to creep into the dome shaped container, but then can’t navigate out. Just let it collect your problem mollusks in the dome and then dump it out.
It’s perhaps the best kept secret in the aquarium hobby. Inexpensive, high-quality canister filters do indeed exist. Sunsun is a somewhat obscure company that makes cheap aquarium gear. While browsing a bunch of popular aquarium forums, I ran into some reviews of Sunsun’s aquarium canister filters.
Even though this company is like many overseas companies selling off-brand stuff to US consumers, they actually are the factor that makes a lot of components for popular aquarium filters like Fluval, Eheim and Marineland. Sunsun’s canister filters have an enormous media capacity which means they can filter aquariums with much less gph flow than other filters.
The smaller filters in the 300 series can handle tanks up to 75 gallons, yet the filters start around $35 dollars on Amazon. There are even some models available with built-in UV lights. I don’t think any of their stuff goes over 100 bucks. If you’re looking for a canister filter bargain, you might want to consider Sunsun. Click here to see SunSun products at Amazon
Note the above link is an affiliate link. Should you purchase this product I’ll get a small commission.
If you’re running a “planted” aquarium, CO2 is a must. This helps the plants thrive and out-compete nasty algae. In general it leads to healthier, more fuller plants. One inexpensive way to accomplish this is to create your own CO2 by fermenting sugar with yeast in a soda bottle.
The problem with that is it’s hard to control the output of the bottles. Turns out someone is selling an inexpensive DIY CO2 gauge and valve setup. It can be used with one or two bottles and costs less than $14.
There is one catch, the reason it’s so cheap is that it’s shipped directly from the factory in China. Therefore, it will take at least a couple weeks to arrive in the mail via free shipping. There are also express shipping options for an additional fee if you don’t want to wait.