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Ok, FAQ edits
I did some minor edits to the originaly FAQ piece I posted a few days
ago. Can someone read through this and tell me what you think. I would
also appreciate any links people can provide to web aquarium forums:
* This is only a text dump of part of the Aquaria FAQs. *
* The web "original" may be more current, is navigatable hypertext, *
* and contains enhanced content not available in this posted version! *
* http://faq.thekrib.com or http://www.actwin.com/fish/mirror *
FAQ: Welcome to Rec.Aquaria.*
contributed by Todd Zebert
edited by Erik Olson
draft edits by Andy Pastuszak
Welcome to the rec.aquaria.* newsgroups! Please read this entire
document and whatever FAQs it may suggest before your first posting.
We hope this will help you get the most from the newsgroups, and aid
you in getting along with the people already here.
This document will tell you about:
1. the FAQs (answers to Frequently Asked Questions); what they are,
and where to find them.
2. Other Web Sites?
3. proper etiquette for posting to rec.aquaria.*
4. common acronyms and other terms used here.
5. common questions (with answers) asked about the rec.aquaria.*
There are several Usenet newsgroups collectively referred to as
rec.aquaria.*. They compose an international forum for the discussion
of almost everything related to aquaria and keeping fish. If you are
new to the aquarium hobby, you will find them a valuable source of
advice. If you are an advanced hobbyist but new to the Usenet forum,
we welcome your input and hope you will find some interesting
discussions and the new information that you need to keep current.
If you have questions about Usenet, newsgroups, posting messages, the
net in general, general netiquette, writing standards, how to FTP,
etc., the answers can be found in the news.announce.newusers group.
This is the single most important group for someone new to the net
who wants to get acquainted with the system. Some of the important
files (all written by Mark Moraes) in news.answers you should check
* Answers To Frequently Asked Questions about Usenet
* A Primer on How To Work With the Usenet Community
* Hints on writing style for Usenet
* What is Usenet?
Just the FAQ, Ma'am
Before posting for help, please read as much of the FAQs as you can.
Really! They will most likely tell you everything you want to know
about almost every beginner issue (if they don't answer your
question, WE want to know!). Reading them should be your first order
of business and is a simple courtesy to the readers of these
newsgroups who get tired of reading the same questions from
newcomers, over and over.
The FAQs are available in three forms: World Wide Web, FTP, and
monthly Usenet postings. The best and easiest way to read them is
through World Wide Web at the URL
* http://www.actwin.com/fish/mirror/ (U.S. mirror)
Outside the U.S., you may get faster access through another mirror
site, which are listed at the URL above.
Many of the FAQs are also posted on the aquaria groups, and
news.answers on a monthly basis. A bit of searching through articles
with the subject ``FAQ'' should bring up the latest copies. One word
of caution: now that the groups have been split, not all FAQs are
posted to all newsgroups; some may be only found on relevant groups.
If you do not have web access but do have ftp access, these text-only
versions can also be downloaded from the Usenet FAQ archive at
Other Web Sites
With the explosive growth of the web over the past few years, there
are so many sites coming and going that it's impossible to name them
here. One way to find them is to use your favorite search engine.
Another good "jumping off place" is Fish Link Central, at
http://www.fishlinkcentral.com. The old Caltech index at
http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~aquaria/ is being phased out, but should
remain for a time.
Posting to rec.aquaria.*
If the following instructions seem unclear, read the newsgroups for a
few weeks (called ``lurking'') and you'll get the hang of the way
things work. There are many readers of rec.aquaria.*, some are old
pros, some newcomers, but all would appreciate it if you would follow
a few simple requests when posting. Remember, you're asking them for
help so you should play by their rules!
1) If you've looked around for the information requested, but come up
with contradictory information, no information, or don't understand
the information, please say so. This will show that you've been
actively seeking out the information yourself.
Also, PLEASE PLEASE do not buy a fish and THEN ask the newsgroup how
you can properly care for it. Ask questions FIRST and read as much as
you can BEFORE buying the fish. Allow several days for people to get
back to you. Most stores will hold a fish for you if you ask. It also
does not hurt to introduce yourself, and come to know the owner or
some of the employees at your favorite store. They will be more
willing to do things for you if they know you are a loyal customer.
It is poor husbandry to buy a fish not knowing if you can keep it
2) Fill in the rest of the subject line with a brief description of
the problem or a couple of words that describe the concern of the
post. A descriptive subject line is more likely to get read and
responded to than a vague one (``Goldfish has white spots'' is better
3) When asking for help, please give a complete description of your
tank size, lighting, filtration, its inhabitants and their sizes**,
how long you've had it running, measures of water quality such as
ammonia, pH, temperature, etc. You can't expect much of an answer (or
any at all!) unless you include enough information. (i.e. not ``HI,
My fish died! Why? Bye'')
**Fish sizes are measured from the tip of their head to the beginning
of their tail fin (where the tail meets the body).
4) Please do not use all capital letters. IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE
5) Make sure your newsreader is limiting line length to a maximum of
75 characters (or columns) otherwise it will be difficult for others
to read your post! If you don't know how to do this, ask your network
6) Do not post pictures to the rec.aquaria.* groups. Graphics in
general take lots of bandwidth, and are in general disallowed in
"non-binaries" groups. If the picture is available on a web site,
instead include the URL where others can find it. There is a special
group created on the alt. heirarchy for fish pictures,
alt.binaries.aquaria. Depending on whether your ISP carries so-called
"binary newsgroups", it may or may not be accessible (if in doubt,
Responding to Posts
When responding to a post, most newsreaders will include the original
message with some sort of character prefixed on every line, usually a
greater-than symbol, ``''. Please delete as much unnecessary
information from the original post as possible, while still
maintaining continuity of the conversation. This includes extraneous
headers and information from the previous post that is not relevant
to the reply.
Terms and Acronyms
As you read posts in these newsgroups, you're likely to come across
the following terms, acronyms, and conventions commonly referred to
Collectively refers to all groups in the rec.aquaria heirarchy.
As far as I know
AFM(AFI), MFM, TFH, FAMA
Four popular aquaria magazines: Aquarium Fish Magazine (now
known as Aquarium Fish International), Marine
Fish Magazine, Tropical Fish Hobbyist, and Freshwater and
America Online, CompuServe Information Systems; two commercial
By The Way.
Means part of previous post has been removed.
Do It Yourself, home made, a device or system that is built by
Frequently Asked Question[s].
A message which is abusive (see below)
File Transfer Protocol, and HyperText Transfer Protocol, two
method of transferring files.
For What It's Worth.
For Your Information.
HyperText Markup Language, used for creating web pages.
IMHO, IMO, IMNSHO
In My Humble Opinion, In My Opinion, In My Not-So-Humble
Local Fish Store
reading a newsgroup, over a period of time, to gain knowledge
from other people's questions and answers, without posting
anything of your own.
MOP[S], PW, TFP, WTA
Four M/O businesses: Mail Order Pet Shop, Pet Warehouse, That
Fish Place, and Wet Thumb Aquatics.
Net etiquette. The golden rule is: RTFF!
A beginner. Often, but not always, used in a derogatory way.
Don't feel too bad if someone calls another a newbie.
On The Other Hand.
An unfortunate correlation between Plocestomus Catfish deaths
and mention of their name on the net has led to the use of
`pl*co' as a superstitious habit. For our protection, the
fish's full name has been deliberately misspelled above.
message[s] on Usenet
The rec.aquaria re-organization.
Rolling On The Floor Laughing.
Read the ``fine'' Manual, or FAQ. Usually directed at people
who ask a question without first checking the obvious places
to find the answer. Substitute expletives beginning with F for
``fine'', if you like.
Siamese Algae Eater (see the ALGAE FAQ).
The initial message and all the following replies to it, a
Thanks In Advance
Undergravel Filter, Reverse Under Gravel Filter.
Wanted To Buy.
WWW, W3, web
World Wide Web
Your Mileage May Vary, basically just because something works
well in one situation, does not mean it will in another.
Smileys :-) ;-) :-(
(turn the page, monitor or your head to one side if you don't
see it at first). Smileys are used to denote emotions that
might otherwise not be understood from the text, e.g.
explicitly point out a statement is meant to be humorous. The
three shown here denote humor, a wink, and sadness,
Questions & Answers
Q: What's up with all these different groups?
A: Due to the sheer volume of postings on the original newsgroups, a
proposal was passed by Usenet readers in March of 1996 splitting
rec.aquaria into several sub-groups. The official charter of the new
groups can be found in our FAQ ANNEX. Meanwhile, the old group
rec.aquaria has been phased out (effectively replaced by
rec.aquaria.misc), so you should not post to it. Please avoid
crossposting (posting to multiple newsgroups) whenever possible,
especially to the .misc groups.
A general discussion group for topics not covered by the other
groups, and topics that are appropriate to more than one group
(rather than crossposting). Post here if the topic doesn't fit
neatly into the usual freshwater/marine division (notably
brackish aquaria), but does not have a large enough following
to warrant a separate newsgroup at this time. Post here if the
topic is of broad interest to many types of aquarists. Also
appropriate are such things as pointers to more specific
newsgroups, ftp and web sites, and other ``meta-issues.'' If
you don't know where to post it, it probably belongs here.
Topics specific to freshwater aquaria which do not fit into
one of the more specialized newsgroups, as well as topics
which fit into multiple specific freshwater newsgroups.
Topics specific to marine aquaria which do not fit into one of
the more specialized newsgroups, as well as topics which fit
into multiple specific marine newsgroups.
Allows ads to be found easily without burying or being buried
in general discussion. Ads related to aquaria and aquarium
products and inhabitants by private individuals and
While the organisms and special techniques vary, both
freshwater and marine aquaria face a similar set of
fundamental problems and often rely on similar devices in
their solution. Discussion about the technology of aquarium
keeping, including homebuilt gadgets as well as commercial
devices. Discussions of the technical details of such devices
belong here, though the rationale for their use may be just as
appropriate in another newsgroup.
All topics related to both old- and new-world cichlids.
All topics related to goldfish and their kin.
Another specialized group, home to any and all discussion
about freshwater plants. Topics may span the entire range of
beginner to expert. Samples: ``My goldfish keeps destroying my
plants,'' ``How do you grow Echinodorus horemanii?''
The fundamental division of the marine hobby is into reef and
non-reef aquarists. This group provides a home for reef
specialists while allowing non-reef aquarists to avoid the
large number of reef related posts.
Q: What about alt.aquaria and sci.aquaria?
A: alt.aquaria is a historical remnant from the original newsgroup
creation wars of 1989. The full story behind this is now a
fascinating net.legend. We recommend that you not post to alt.aquaria
as the rec.aquaria.* groups are in place. Nonetheless, the group
continues to receive traffic more than two years after the revision.
Sci.aquaria's unofficial purpose is for more serious `scientific'
discussion. Now that the new rec.aquaria.* groups are in place, there
is no need to crosspost to sci.aquaria. This group receives very
Q: Are there any other related groups? Mailing Lists? Chat Lines?
A: None of these other groups are supported by this documentation or
any of its FAQs or archives, but they do have related themes:
* rec.ponds -- keeping outdoor ponds (usually with Koi and
* alt.aquaria.killies -- keeping Killifishes.
* alt.aquaria.oscars -- keeping Oscars. Group created mid-1998 by
Mark Stone of Oscar Study Page fame.
* alt.binaries.aquaria -- pictures, may not be carried by many
There are also some E-mailing lists. Here are some we know about:
List Name Server Address What to Send as
Discus-L SUBSCRIBE Discus-L
BETTAS SUBSCRIBE BETTAS Your
Cichlids , subscribe cichlid
Dwarf Cichlids subscribe Your Name
Aquatic Plants subscribe aquatic-plants
Goldfish subscribe goldfish
Killies subscribe killies
For instance, to subscribe to the Aquatic Plants list, send e-mail to
with the line "subscribe aquatic-plants" as the
Other places such as Yahoo Groups seem to have a large number of
mailing lists geared towards aquarium hobbyists. There are also
tons of different web based message boards for Aquarium hobbyists
Q: Can I post Non-commercial Advertisements?
A: Yes! There is a newsgroup just for you: rec.aquaria.marketplace,
which is open to both commercial and private advertisements. Here are
* Do not crosspost to the other newsgroups!
* Since many are suspicious of people selling things on the net, be
sure to include why the items are for sale, especially if a
profit motive may be suspected.
* If selling locally, include your location in the subject line
(``US-NY-Buffalo'', for instance). This will help your intended
buyer find you amongst all the posts.
* It is advisable to limit the distribution of your post when the
item is only of interest to a local area (for instance, a glass
tank). This is done through your newsreader while composing your
* Finally, after the item sells, you should delete (or cancel, as
many newsreaders call it) your original posting. Again, this is
done through the newsreader.
Q4: Can I post Commercial Advertisements?
A: If you are an aquarium-related business, as of the March 1996
re-organization, you may post to rec.aquaria.marketplace without
guilt. Beware, though, that non-advertisement posts from companies
and their representatives may be subject to scrutiny by wary
rec.aquaria.* readers. General guidelines for acceptable advertising
on usenet can be found in the ADVERTISEMENT FAQ posted to
Here are some tips for keeping a friendly commercial presence on the
* Do not post or cross-post your advertisement to any of the
rec.aquaria.* groups except for rec.aquaria.marketplace.
* Retailers who are active participants of rec.aquaria.* can
include a reference to their business in their message signature
(or better yet, a reference to a WWW page). People can contact
you or your web page directly if interested in your business.
Netters generally do not get angry about this sort of
* If you respond to a post with a recommendation for your business,
make sure to be clear that you are associated with that business
(otherwise you are likely to get a bad reputation when your
connection is discovered). It also goes without saying that your
response should be relevant to the original post. :-)
* E-mail advertising is never acceptable unless explicitly
requested. If a reader didn't specifically ask for your
advertisement, do not send it.
Q: Why did no one answer my questions?
A: This question is usually answered by ``YOU DIDN'T READ THE FAQ!''
The FAQs are a collection of documents that members of these
newsgroups have written to answer questions that beginners ask ad
nauseum. Before posting, please read the relevant FAQs to be sure
what you wish to know has not been dealt with before. Despite the
world-wide nature of rec.aquaria.*, there are in fact only a few
dozen members who answer the vast majority of questions. They get
tired of answering the same questions over and over, and more often
than not will simply ignore questions that could have been answered
by reading the FAQ.
Sometimes you won't get a reply if you haven't waited long enough;
many people do not read rec.aquaria.* daily, and it can take a few
days for the article to propagate to some hosts.
Another common cause of the unanswered post is a non-descriptive
subject line or vague message content. With hundreds of messages
posted daily to rec.aquaria.*, it is easy to ignore ``irrelevant''
subject lines such as ``Subject: My Fish''. Likewise, it is also
important to convey all the necessary information in the body of your
message. See the section above on Posting to rec.aquaria.* for hints
on improving your technique.
Q5: Why did I get flamed?
A5: You may get flamed if you supply an ignorant answer to someone's
question, or just general ``bad advice''. Bad questions usually are
ignored, but bad answers are often flamed. You might also get flamed
when discussing controversial issues.
Threads on rec.aquaria.* are open uncensored conversations between
adults (and sub-adults of all ages) and so occasionally smart-ass
replies and jabs are made. These are not strictly discouraged and to
throw flames DOES NOT immediately cause one to be labeled a social
pariah, but flames should be on-topic and delivered with a sense of
humor. Neither is swearing totally unacceptable on the net but the
use of swear words will quickly remove any semblance of humor from
your flames. This may result in seriously hurt feelings, and so
swearing is to be strongly discouraged. Also, a few smileys (where
appropriate) can go a long way to save people's feelings.
We hope that this introductory FAQ will improve your understanding of
the rec.aquaria community, and make your interaction with other
netters fun and productive. A great deal of time and thought has been
devoted to making quality answers to the Frequently Asked Questions
available at all times. A hurried post to the newsgroups might not
yield an answer for days (if at all), but if you read the FAQs you
may have an answer in minutes. Please give it a try!
[The FAQ Team can be reached by e-mail, but since we've been getting
so many irrelevant requests for help with individual problems, the
address will no longer be posted here.]
The FAQs owe their existence to the contributors of the net, and as
such it belongs to the readers of rec.aquaria and alt.aquaria.
Articles with attributions are copyrighted by their original authors.
Copies of the FAQs can be made freely, as long as it is distributed
at no charge, and the disclaimers and the copyright notice are
Tables of Data
Celsius (Centigrade) = (Fahrenheit - 32) * 5/9
1 Liter = 0.264 Gallon
1 U.S. Gallon = 3.78 Liter
1 British Gallon = 4.5446 Liter
1 Meter = 39.4 inches
1 Inch = 2.54 cm
1 Foot = 12 inches
1 Yard = 36 inches
1 Ounce = 29 grams (on Earth)
1 degree hardness (GH) = 17.8 ppm CaCO3
1 degree "carbonate hardness*" (KH) = 17.8 ppm CaCO3
1 meq/L alkalinity = 2.8 degrees KH
1 ppm = 1 mg/L
Nitrate-NO3 = 4.4 * Nitrate-N
Nitrite-NO2 = 3.3 * Nitrite-N
Ammonia-NH3 = 1.1 * Ammonia-N
* Note that the term ``carbonate hardness'' is bit of a misnomer, and
most amateur chemists would prefer we use the more appropriate term
``Alkalinity''. See the BEGINNER CHEMISTRY section for more details.
Tank Weight and Volume Calculations
In metric, this calculation is quite easy because 1 cubic centimeter
of water has a mass of 1 gram, or 1 liter of water has a mass of 1
kg. Thus, the water in a 200L tank will have a mass of 200 kg (don't
forget to add the weight of rocks into your estimate!). If you need
to work from tank dimensions, multiply the length times width, times
height in centimeters to obtain the mass in grams.
For those of us having to work in inches and pounds,
1 gallon of water at 4°C = 8.57 lbs approximate weight
One foot of fresh water depth = .445 psi.
231 cu inches (in ^ 3) = 1 gallon
1 cu foot (ft ^ 3) = 7.48 gallons = 1728 in^3
44x16x16 tank = 11264 in^3 = 48.76 gallons.
Tank will weigh 418 lbs (roughly) (+ rocks which have an SG much
higher than 1, so you can *roughly* say " + rocks ")
The pressure at the bottom of the tank will be 0.59 psi, or 85 psf,
roughly 13% more than the standard loading for code construction, so
catch an extra joist or three with the stand!!
Along the bottom strip of the tank, you will have a total (uniformly
spread side to side) force of ( 15.5/12*.445*44 = 25 lbs) pushing
outwards against your joints.
The total force on the long side will be ( 8/12*.445*44*16 = 208
Note: In general, this is NOT half of the water weight. This is a
coincidence due to the same bottom and side shape.
Other useful points...
Weight = psi at bottom * bottom area
( (44x16=704 in^2) * .445*16/12 = 418 lbs)
Note: If this doesn't give you the same answer as the volume
calculation SOMETHING IS WRONG!
Standard (new) wood joist floor loading is 75 psf. This corresponds
to one 14" high tank of any other dimensions. Before you build that
30" high tank, think about where it goes! For old houses and houses
not to code, this may be worse (or better, who knows?).
Common tank sizes (courtesy of All-Glass Aquariums)
These match the table on the back of Catalog AA693, but are sorted by
the tank's "footprint".
Tank Size Exact Outside Dimensions Weight Weight Tempered
(inches) (L x W x H) Empty Full Bottom
(Including frame) (lbs) (lbs)
10 Leader 20 1/4 x 10 1/2 x 12 9/16 11 111
15 High 20 1/4 x 10 1/2 x 18 3/4 22 170
20 X-High 20 1/4 x 10 1/2 x 23 3/4 32 232
10 Long 24 1/4 x 8 1/2 x 12 5/8 16 116
15 Show 24 1/4 x 8 1/2 x 16 5/8 22 170
15 Gallon 24 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 12 3/4 21 170
20 High 24 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 16 3/4 25 225
25 Gallon 24 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 20 3/4 32 282
30 X-High 24 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 24 3/4 41 340
20 Long 30 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 12 3/4 25 225
29 Gallon 30 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 18 3/4 40 330
37 Gallon 30 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 22 3/4 45 415 X
26 Flatback 36 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 16 5/8 42 300 X
23 Long 36 1/4 x 12 5/8 x 13 32 253
30 Gallon 36 1/4 x 12 5/8 x 16 3/4 43 343
38 Gallon 36 1/4 x 12 5/8 x 19 3/4 47 427
45 Gallon 36 1/4 x 12 5/8 x 23 3/4 66 515 X
30 Breeder 36 3/16 x 18 1/4 x 12 15/16 48 348
40 Breeder 36 3/16 x 18 1/4 x 16 15/16 58 458
50 Gallon 36 7/8 x 19 x 19 5/8 100 600
65 Gallon 36 7/8 x 19 x 24 5/8 126 775
33 Long 48 1/4 x 12 3/4 x 12 7/8 52 382 X
40 Long 48 1/4 x 12 3/4 x 16 7/8 55 455 X
45 Long 48 1/4 x 12 3/4 x 19 60 510 X
55 Gallon 48 1/4 x 12 3/4 x 21 78 625 X
60 Gallon 48 3/8 x 12 7/8 x 23 7/8 111 710 X
80 X-High 48 7/8 x 14 x 30 3/4 200 990
75 Gallon 48 1/2 x 18 1/2 x 21 3/8 140 850
90 Gallon 48 1/2 x 18 1/2 x 25 3/8 160 1050
110 X-High 48 7/8 x 19 x 30 3/4 228 1320
120 Gallon 48 1/2 x 24 1/4 x 25 1/2 215 1400
100 Gallon 72 1/2 x 18 1/2 x 19 3/8 182 1150
125 Gallon 72 1/2 x 18 1/2 x 23 3/8 206 1400
150 Gallon 72 1/2 x 18 1/2 x 28 1/2 338 1800
180 Gallon 72 1/2 x 24 1/2 x 25 5/8 338 2100
2 1/2 Mini 12 3/16 x 6 1/8 x 8 1/8 2.6 27
5 1/2 Gallon 16 3/16 x 8 3/8 x 10 1/2 7 62
4 Designer 8 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 18 7/8 9 49
6 Designer 8 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 24 7/8 10.5 70
10 Designer 13 5/8 x 13 5/8 x 19 18.5 115
15 Designer 13 5/8 x 13 5/8 x 25 25.5 175
10 Hexagon 14 1/2 x 12 9/16 x 18 3/4 12 110
20 Hexagon 18 3/4 x 16 1/4 x 20 5/8 23 220 X
35 Hexagon 23 1/4 x 20 3/16 x 24 3/4 43 390 X
60 Hexagon 27 1/4 x 24 1/8 x 29 1/2 110 750 X