Posted on Leave a comment

Hygger Mini Heater

Until recently I’d never heard of Hygger until my friend Jessie AKA, Corydorablecaliaquariums, started reviewing some of their products. And then Hygger contacted me and asked if I’d like to review some of their products too.

I’m primarily a koi keeper so they don’t have a lot of products I could use, but when I checked their site, I spotted a cool little heater. I have a small tank and it looked like a perfect fit.

The image on the left shows the contents of the package. On the right I’ve removed the protective cover.

My old heater was working fine, but you never know when they’ll go out. I have a spare, but really like the looks of the Hygger unit. Most heaters have a setting dial on the top. It makes me nervous having that in the tank.

The Old Unit

The Hygger heater’s control is remote and pretty slick. When you start clicking the Set button the temperature will change. When it get’s to where you want it, just stop clicking. After it blinks three times it’s set. If the temperature is below the set point the indicator will show red. When it reaches the set point it turns blue.

I have it plugged into my Apex controller so I failsafe things by shutting it down if the water temperature exceeds the setpoint. After running for a bit I was happy to see it maintains the temperature a bit more smoothly than the old unit.

You can clearly see from the Apex temperature record when the new heater was installed and see how much smoother it runs. In addition to this demonstrated better performance the HG031 has several other features that makes it desirable.

  • Easy to Read Digital Temperature Display in F or C.
    • Setpoint Memory in Case Power is Lost
    • Auto Shutoff if Water Level Drops or Heater Removed From Water

Hygger has a wide range of heaters available for all tank sizes. Based on my experience I’d heartily recommend you check them out if you need a new heater. If you want this one, you can get it HERE!.

You can learn more about their products and purchase them here.

Posted on Leave a comment

Thoughts on Filtration

Filtration is probably the most important thing any fish keeper should be thinking about, but like so many important things in life, it’s hard to get excited about your filter. You’d rather think about the gorgeous fish you love, the aquascaping, the coral displays, the pond design, or almost anything but the boring old filter.

The short video above illustrates a filter upgrade performed by one of our dealers resulting in an easy to maintain filter and a beautiful, healthy tank.

Filters are generally not that attractive. They can be pretty expensive and you have to clean them periodically, which is never a pleasant experience. But, the fact remains, they are the most important component in your system and the health and therefore the appearance and activity of your livestock depend on how well they perform.

Filter Functions

Any tank or pond filter has to perform two functions. Ideally, these will be handled separately as cleaning and maintenance requirements are different for each function.

First, the filter must perform mechanical filtration to remove visible debris from the water stream to maintain the clear water most of us desire so we can appreciate the beauty of our aquatic friends. And, a lot of visible debris contains chemical components or support organisms we don’t really want moving around in the same water as our pets.

Mechanical filters range from Rotating Drum Filters with automated back-flush, Brushes, Fiber Mats to Vortex Settlement Chambers in ponds. In aquariums Reticulated Foam, Fiber Mats, Socks and almost always some sort of Settlement Chamber. Regardless of the type since they are dealing with things you can actually see, they must be cleaned from time to time which is always more or less a messy business.

Once the physical debris is taken care of, the toxic chemical waste must be dealt with. Mother nature takes care of this by providing several types of bacteria that consume these chemicals and convert them into other, less lethal forms. All the keeper has to do is provide suitable media in a chamber of adequate size and let mother nature do her thing.

Filter Sizing

Filter manufacturers always indicate filter size based on the tank or pond size. This is logical since the customer will know the size of the aquarium or pond they need to filter, but there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.

First, this is based on a reasonable fish load and feeding plan. So if your self-control is not the best and you just can’t pass up that fantastic finned beauty you just saw and your fish load is way more than recommended, you’ll need a larger filter.

If you’re a competitor showing your koi and determined to raise a grand champion, you’ll need to maintain a much smaller fish load than the casual hobbyist. You’ll be feeding several times as much and you’ll need a much larger filter.

A common rule of thumb is to get a filter for a pond or tank twice as large as what you have. If you’re planning on using Biohome® media for your biological filtration to reduce nitrates we provide more detailed rules of thumb to determine the amount of media you need which will allow you to determine the size of filter required.

Filter Types

It appears the most popular filter types for koi keepers these days are Rotating Drum Filters (RDF) for mechanical filtration combined with a Shower for biological filtration. The RDF provides very clear water with minimal maintenance and the Shower can easily be sized large enough for whatever media you select. The shower provides good aeration as the water falls through the trays.

Other types of pond filters include Bead Filters, Multi-Chamber Filters and for smaller ponds all sorts of configurations.
For aquariums, we have Hang on the Back (HOB), Canisters, All in One, Sumps and DIY filters. It’s possible there are others, but that covers most of the ground.

HOB filters are a good choice for smaller aquariums, although most of them depend on chemical, that is Carbon, filtration with limited to no space for your choice of biological media. Carbon filters work by absorption and therefore will eventually fill up and so require periodic replacement. This can get expensive.

There are only a couple of manufacturers selling HOB filters that are designed to allow you to use your choice of media. They feature simple designs and would be our suggestion if your tank is small enough. These are the Fluval AquaClear series, AquaClear 20 – 110. The numbers indicate the maximum size of the tank in gallons the filters are designed for. We’d recommend you use a 110 on a tank no larger than 15 gallons, which gives you an idea of how overrated filters are when considering nitrate reduction.

A similar HOB is the Seachem Tidal 35 – 110 series. The Tidal 110 would be suitable for tanks up to 30 gallons if filled with Biohome media.

There is an almost infinite number of Canister filters available in a variety of sizes. You can almost certainly find one or more, it sometimes takes more than one to provide adequate capacity, suitable for your tank. The Pond Guru, a distributor of Biohome media in the UK, provides a useful service for UK hobbyists. He accepts filters that he hasn’t seen before from hobbyists, rebuilds them and posts videos showing the proper way to configure them on YouTube.

You can find him here: His advice can be very helpful for selecting a suitable filter for your aquarium. We have a much smaller collection of upgrade information on our How Much Do I Need page.

A number of smaller tanks now come with a section for a Built-In Filter. These are similar to a Sump but built right into the rear or end of the aquarium. They usually have three sections. An inlet section where you can install your mechanical filtration. A center section for biological media and the outlet section where a return pump is located and you can install a heater if necessary.

This is a pretty convenient solution. They normally provide enough space for adequate biological media for the tank size and are reasonably easy to maintain.

Larger aquariums and more sophisticated users will often use a Sump filter. This is essentially another aquarium divided into three or more sections mounted under the main tank. Some configurations don’t provide means to effectively provide for mechanical filtration. They often depend on Sock filters which provide fine filtration, which is extremely effective but plugs up pretty rapidly. For this reason, we always recommend using Coarse, Medium and then Fine mechanical filtration to provide a reasonable period between cleaning. So if you’re looking for a sump check out the mechanical filter section carefully so see if it will accommodate this and how easy it will be to maintain.

Sumps are available in a large number of configurations and can be made to order so will accommodate whatever sort of filtration you desire or need with lots of room for refugiums, reactors, heaters and whatever else you might want to house there.

And finally, there are DIY filters, whether for cost concerns or just the way they’re wired some people will always rather build their own. Nothing wrong with that as long as they provide easy to maintain mechanical and biological filtration.

Posted on Leave a comment

Beneficial Bacteria for Happy Fish Keeping!

Creating a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria in your fish tank or pond is crucial for the health of your fish. Many fish keepers consider anaerobic bacteria to be bad and that can certainly be the case if they are in the wrong place. Anaerobic bacteria, as indicated by their name, cannot exist if there are high levels of oxygen.

So they normally won’t be in your tank or pond unless you have a fairly deep layer of substrate and that substrate is not cleaned often enough allowing uneaten food and fish waste to build up, creating the ideal environment for anaerobic bacteria. Then if your fish has a small wound or their immune system is at a low point for some reason a serious health problem could result like fin rot, fish tuberculosis, mouth rot, skin ulcers and more.

Good housekeeping is a given to prevent these issues, but how can beneficial anaerobic bacteria improve the health of your tank or pond.

Aerobic and Anaerobic Bacteria

To control the balance of bacteria in your tank or pond, you need to understand the nitrogen cycle and how you can help your tank/pond complete the nitrogen cycle.

Naturally, your fish will produce waste, which will raise the ammonia levels in your tank/pond. Ammonia is toxic to your fish, so to counteract this, aerobic nitrifying bacteria consume the ammonia and convert it into nitrites.

Nitrites are also toxic to your fish, so a different set of aerobic nitrifying bacteria consume the nitrites and convert it to nitrates.

To complete the nitrogen cycle, denitrifying anaerobic bacteria convert nitrates into gaseous nitrogen. Unfortunately, most biological media that are on the market don’t provide a suitable home for the anaerobic bacteria that complete the nitrogen cycle. This results in the need for more frequent and larger changes than would be necessary if the nitrate level was reduced or eliminated entirely.

Supporting Beneficial Anaerobic Bacteria

Beneficial anaerobic bacteria are a key part of biological filtration to achieve a complete nitrogen cycle and reduce the frequency and size of water changes.

The best way to increase the beneficial anaerobic bacteria in your tank or pond to complete the nitrogen cycle and maintain healthy fish is with GreatWave Engineering’s Biohome® Media!

What makes GreatWave Engineering’s media stand out is its unique structure of tiny pores that supports anaerobic bacteria in its core, out of harms way, where the flow is very low, which is required for nitrate reduction, without the need for chemicals which incur a recurring cost. This creates a healthier tank/pond and happier fish as experienced by thousands of happy customers!

Start using GreatWave Engineering’s Biohome® Media and notice what a high quality media can do for the health of your fish and tank today!

Posted on Leave a comment

Title: The Nitrogen Cycle and How You Can Improve the Health of Your Tank!

As most fish enthusiasts know, the nitrogen cycle is the most important biochemical mechanism to understand and get under control for the health of the fish and their tank! But did you know that there’s more to the nitrogen cycle than most people realize?

According to RSPCA, the biggest contributing factor to fish loss/death is a failure on the fish owners’ part to properly understand the nitrogen cycle.

This means that there are things that even fish enthusiasts get wrong about this delicate biochemical mechanism. Discover the full truth about the nitrogen cycle and what you can do to have a healthy tank and happy fish. 

The Half Truth about the Nitrogen Cycle

The basic description of the nitrogen cycle is that when you feed your fish, they are naturally going to produce waste. This waste turns into ammonia, which is extremely toxic to your fish. Luckily, there are aerobic nitrifying bacteria, which consume ammonia and convert it into nitrites. Nitrites are also toxic to your fish, so a different set of aerobic bacteria then convert nitrites into nitrates. 

Nitrates are much less toxic to your fish, but for a healthy tank, nitrate levels should stay around 0-40 ppm. Most discussion of the cycle ends here, leaving frequent water changes as the only solution to nitrate control. But, there is an important step in the nitrogen cycle that often gets overlooked. 

The Full Truth about the Nitrogen Cycle 

What doesn’t get discussed enough is the very process that completes the nitrogen cycle. To close the nitrogen cycle, the final step involves anaerobic bacteria. Unlike aerobic bacteria, which depend on oxygen to survive and convert ammonia into nitrite and nitrite into nitrate, anaerobic bacteria thrive where little to no oxygen is available. 

Denitrifying anaerobic bacteria are a tremendous asset for any tank. While nitrates aren’t immediately lethal, levels over 40 ppm are considered harmful. They cause stress, making them more susceptible to diseases and damaging parasites. While you’ll always need to do water changes, large, frequent water changes are a pain and carry some expense. 

The best way to have a healthy fish tank! 

To reduce water changes and complete the nitrogen cycle in your tank,  youcan depend on a full complement of beneficial bacteria. There is no need to depend on expensive chemical treatments. Getting the right bio media for your tank is key to a healthy environment for your fish to thrive. 

The best and most effective bio media for your tank is Biohome® Media! What makes Biohome media different is that, unlike almost all other media, which only promote aerobic bacteria, Biohome media supports an enormous colony of both aerobic bacteria and anaerobic bacteria. Because of its unique structure with very small pores, very little oxygen is able to getto the center section, which is perfect for the growth of anaerobic bacteria. 

Biohome® Media from GreatWave Engineering will help you to control your tank’s nitrite and nitrate levels so that your fish can thrive! 

Get healthier water and happier fish with Biohome® Media today!

Posted on Leave a comment

Rear Garden

March, 2018

3/8/18, Thur

Planted Lily of the Nile, Fortnight Lily and Hyacinth.

April, 2017

4/13/17, Thur

Bridge 41317

Replaced pressure treated bridge to pavilion with cedar planks.

February, 2017

2/12/17, Fri

Planted junipuras squamata “blue star” in southeast corner and under cedar.


Planted sedum Angelina Golden Stonecrop in forecourt.


January, 2017

1/16/17, Mon:


Planted new Azalea “Shugetsu”, Autumn Moon.

November, 2016

11/22/16, Tue:

CJ & Justin Rebuilt walkway and placed crushed granite cover on rear terrace.


Pruned Japanese Maple


May, 2016

5/24/16, Tue:

Planted Camellia and reset stones on rear terrace.


April, 2016

4/27/16, Wed:

Stonecrop 42716

Planted Bronze Carpet and Angelina Stonecrop in forecourt.

November, 2015

Pruned deodar cedar.

August, 2015

8/9/15, Sun:

Planted ground cover in Rear Garden:

April, 2015:

4/23/15, Thur:

Sprayed azalea and hawthorne bushes with Nualgi.

March, 2015:

3/24/15, Tue:


Planted Flowering Cherry, Prunus serrulata ‘Amanogawa’

December, 2014:

12/26/14, Fri:

Pruned Japanese Maple and cleaned off dead leaves.

November, 2014:

11/16/2014, Sun:

Planted Picea pungens ‘The Blues’ spruce in south east corner of rear garden.


and another hawthorn behind cedar.

11/11/2014, Wed:

Planted Loropetalum Crimson Fire near Yamashita Taki replacing a spindly azalea. Azalea moved to upper terrace where another azalea had died during summer hot spell. Planted Rhapholepsis Umbellata Minor Hawthorn behind Yamashita replacing another azalea that was lost in same heat wave.

July, 2014:

7/9/2014, Wed:

Purchased three new conifers for rear garden at Dave’s in Hayward. Golden Hinoki Cypress, Blue Spruce “The Blues”, Green Prince Cedar.

May, 2014:

5/19/2014, Mon:

Detassled and candled black pine.

January, 2014:

1/3/2014, Fri:

Planted sedum lineare “Tricolor” around stones in forecourt.  Planted left overs under cedar and near sequoia in rear terraces.

November-December, 2013:

During November and December, pruned the rear garden kuro matsu.

August, 2013

8/3/2013, Sat:

Installed R5 and R6 kuro matsu outlets to deep water kuro matsu and momiji and surrounding ground cover.

July, 2013

7/28/2013, Sun:

Planted three new conifers purchased from Pond and Garden in Cotati yesterday on my trip with Jack and Gerry.

7/30/2013, Tue:

Finally located R5 & R6 outlets and got R6 valve operating correctly.  Swapped R5 & R6 circuits to reduce amount of trenching and piping required.

7/31/2013: Wed:

Installed irrigation in azalea terrace.  Had to switch connection from R6 to R5 circuit.

June, 2013

6/10/2013, Mon:

Planted New Blue Tamarix Juniper in South East corner.

May, 2013

5/20/2013, Mon:

Finished sealing nobedan.

January, 2011

Extend fujidana in rear for privacy.  Neighbors removed fig tree and vine.

Extended Fujidana

Posted on Leave a comment


2/25/17, Sat:

Purchased Genki Koi

Kin-ki-Utsuri – Female

Akesansai – 53 cm (20 3/4″)

Breeder: Tsuna


Kuromatsu is very faded after traveling.


Kuromatsu 6818

7/23/17, Sun:

Moved to pond from QT. Measured 57 cm (22.5″). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Kuromatsu Normal Colors

Posted on Leave a comment




Mukashi Ogon – ?

Born – 2015

Purchased: Genki Nishikigoi, 10/9/16

Breeder: Matsue

10/9/16: 38 cm (15″)


Measured and returned to pond.

Shinjuko 6818

8/19/17, Sat:


Measured: 51 cm (20 1/4″)

6/10/17, Sat:


Attended Monterey Bay Koi Club Young Koi Show, won Reserve Champion B

Measured: 48 cm (19″)

Posted on Leave a comment


10/9/16, Sun:

Shiro-Utsuri – Unknown

Born: 2015

Purchased: Genki Nishikigoi, 10/9/2016

Breeder: Omosako

10/16/18, Tues:

Measured and returned to pond. Nobunaga101618

3/31/18, Sat:

Measured 43 cm ( 16 3/4′), Moved to pond.


8/19/17, Sat:


Measured: 41 cm (16 1/4″). Returned to QT.

10/9/16, Sun:

Measured 23 cm (9 1/4″)



Posted on Leave a comment


4/15/2015, Wed:

Goshiki – Unknown

Born – 2014

Purchased Genki Nishikigoi, 4/2014, tosai

Breeder: Unknown


Measured and returned to pond.

Musashi 6818

2/25/17, Sat:

Measured 43 cm (17″).and moved to pond. Determined to be a male.


3/31/17, Fri:

Measured 43 cm (17″). Took to ZNA NorCal Koi Show. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sat, 8/19/17


Measured: 46 cm (18″)

Posted on Leave a comment

Charles, Pittsburgh

Charles Sala 1

Charles Sala 2

I have a lot of fish, Guppies and planted the tank to the max -Good light No algae to speak of.  I put a cap full of Dr Tim’s Waste Away every day to eat PooP ,

I keep Nitrates just marginally under control with 50% water changes at least once a week.  All other parameters are near Zero

I have a 4 tray canister, Marineland 360 rated for up to 100 gallons, have a 30 gallon tank with two hand on filters as well.

November 7:

I had two trays with BioHome About April 20 I added BioGravel to the two trays to add mass by filling the little voids in the BioHome.

May 1:

I now have  1 tray of floss and polishing filter to keep your product clean at the bottom with 3 trays over the filtered water of combination BioHome and BioGravel to get the maximum amount of material in the trays to control Nitrates

Will Keep you posted