Feeding your AquaSphere
Carefully place 1 flake of fish food into the AquaSphere 1-3 times a week. An easy way to dispence food is to dip a paper clip in the water and then into the flake food to pick up a flake or two. This way you avoid the ever so often "Oops, I shook out too much food!!" In the beginning, feed very lightly for the first couple weeks as this will allow time for the microscopic bacteria to grow. It is important that you do not overfeed especially in the beginning, as this will cause several problems. If you have a frog, they may need a day or so more added to your feeding schedule. Your aqua pets need very little food to stay heathly. They can be fed every other day or so and can easily be left for a weekend without any food. An indication that you are over-feeding is cloudy or foul smelling water or if you see food floating or accumulating on the gravel more than five or ten minutes. If you overfeed frequently, you must change the water more often or your fish and plants may suffer or die. Remember, fish always act hungry. If you ever run out of food, you may purchase regular tropical fish flake food from us or a pet or aquarium store. Most AquaSpheres come with a 1-2 year supply of food.
Care & Maintenance of your AquaSphere
To do periodic cleaning, first remove the plant an larger rocks/decor and set aside on a clean paper towel, then carefully pour some of the the water with the fish, frog, shrimp, or crabs into a bowl or container that has been rinsed free of any soaps. Once the animals are out, discard the rest of the water, being careful to save the rocks, gravel, plant and other decor. Swirl and rinse the gravel with RO (drinking) water until clean and use a paper towel to wipe away any algae from the sides of the aquarium. Add new water and the cleaned rocks; anchor the plant end under some rocks. Try to strain away most of the old water around the fish and any other animals in the container before adding them back into the aquarium. Add bottled water in between cleaning times if any evaporation occurs.
To increase the quality of life for your little friends, keep in mind these additional points:
Change 25-50% of the water every two weeks or so. This helps water conditions to not become drastically different then any upcoming new water and stress the fish. Additionally, this helps to maintain pH levels.
Feed fish either ever other day or daily smaller amounts. This will help them to grow but more importantly will give them larger reserves for when you leave a week on vacation at an office over the weekends.
Keep in a location which has a steady temperature. Location can alter the health of the fish and frequency of aquarium maintenance. Your AquaSphere is most happy when conditions are consistent and unstressful.
Always RINSE your hands with water - NOT soap before placing them into your AquaSphere.
Remember that soaps and most household cleaning chemicals are very poisionous for aquatic life. Keep your AquaSphere away from these.
Use only RO or bottled drinking water at room temperature for your AquaSphere. If you have only cold RO/bottled/spring water, then leave it out over night to bring it up to room temperature. DIstilled water is not recommended as it is devoid of ANY minerals that is needed for maintaining a stable ecosystem in your AquaSphere. And, chlorine in tap water will kill your little aquatic friends.
Although the concept of AquaSpheres is not entirely unique, we have just improved on its design, branding, and other factors that increase each little ecosystem's success, appeal, and education. Most likely, the initial credit of a fish in a small container were probably concieved within the pet store industry. AquaSpheres is a business that was realized after we have worked over twenty years in a more complicated arena of large scale aquarium science; the design, service and rentals of aquarium systems. The concept of AquaSpheres is a return to simplistics. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Technical Science Aspects
Aquatic environments offer differences over that of land based ecosystems. The water that that makes up the aquatic enviroment is similiar to the gasous environment of terrestial ecosystems, but the molecules and materials are much more interactive than atmospheric systems. Toxic compounds and substances must be converted in ways that do not change the environment's overall balance, or homeostasis. To maintain a homoestatic, stable, healthy, aquatic ecosystem, complex interactions exist between microorganisms, water chemistry, plants, animals, and yes, light. Feeding the small animals feeds the entire ecosystem. The whole system feels the affect of uneaten food, fish excretions and even the energy the fish uses to grow. Natural processes simplify and reduce this with biological and chemical cycles. In a stable system, nitrogen cycles, life cycles, chemistry cycles etc. results in a balanced ecological system. An AquaSphere is a small aquatic environment, no different fundamentally from an ocean or stream. With a little information and care, your AquaSphere should maintain and sustain a natural environment made up of bacteria, water, living things, and air.
It is the educational intent of the AquaSpheres project to launch discovery, enjoyment, and to introduce a "green" process or concept in the palm of your hand; the same biological forces that occur on Earth and around all of us.
Our AquaSpheres are freshwater aquariums (i.e. the salt and mineral content of the water is low). The RO or drinking water starts out pH neutral (which means the water is neither very acidic nor alkaline). Fish, frogs, crabs and shrimp excrete waste products that contain ammonia that lowers the pH and make the water acidic, while the plants, like trees, soak up carbon dioxide that raises the pH. Over time the water becomes depleted of eco balancing minerals which is why we recommend a periodic water change.
Oxygen enters the water both through the surface and as a biological byproduct of aquatic plants and algae. The temperature plays a role in the amount of oxygen the water can hold without escaping as gas. The higher the temperature, the less oxygen the water is able to contain. Without enough oxygen, most bacteria also die; organic wastes such as ammonia build up, and inevitably the fish die. To insure this does not happen, only a small number of fish, frogs or shrimp are put in each AquaSphere.
Molecules are changed, exchanged or reduced to simpler compounds, and released as gas. This is true for Nitrogen, which enters as fish feed, leaves, dead plant and other organic detritus. The air breathing, nitrogen utilizing bacteria process more complex forms of nitrogen such as ammonia and amino acids (proteins) to nitrate which the plant uses. In a natural system, areas of no oxygen (anaerobic conditions) allow a different type of bacteria to convert nitrate to nitrogen gas which returns to the atmosphere. In most aquatic systems, this occurs deep in the substrate or floor. In an AquaSphere any excess nitrate is slowly removed through water changes.
Nitrifying bacteria, which naturally are inroduced into the AquaSphere on the animals, convert the excess waste and food to a soluble form that the plant or algae use for growth. This bacterial process detoxifies the waste so that it does not poison and kill the fish. The plants, if present in your AquaSphere, that have been chosen are like the fish, resilent and suitable for the conditions of a small aquarium.
Room temperature is typically between 60-80 degrees F and is the temperature at which people are the most comfortable. The tropical fish we have chosen for AquaSpheres do well in these ranges. If your AquaSphere experiences temperatures outside these ranges due to the power going out or the air conditioner breaking, aquatic animals and plants may still survive.
External forces on your AquaSphere also exist. Seasons, sunlight, temperature, and airborne pollutants all contirbute to changing the natural cycles within the water, just like our planet. The fish and plants can also be affected by weather variations outside. The amount and duration of daylight will encourage the plant and algae to grow or the fish to be more active. Other considerations are important: changes in the environment can happen without your knowing it. A cleaning disinfectant or chemical, for example, used by a janitorial service, can be absorbed into an AquaSphere's water and harm the animals without the person being aware of it. Futhermore, nicotine (from smoking) is quickly absorbed into water. When trouble shooting, it is important to consider what may have occurred in your absence. Balance, as in our own planet, is important.
Lastly, periodic water changes of at least 25% per month are helpful to maintaining good water quality. Aquariums in general, no matter how large they are, need to be cleaned for apperence or cosmetic reasons and to remove excess debris (waste materials and uneaten food which accumulate over time). Both animals and plants are adversely affected by what is or is not in the water, not by how clear or clean the aquarium may appear. Even a dirty looking aquarium can be a healthy environment if the water is changed on a regular basis.