The Mandarin Garden: Aquarium Guidance

Oceanic fish are mysterious creatures. There are approximately 15,000 species in the ocean, and it is estimated that there are 5,000 more species in the bottom of the ocean where the pressure is too great for our current technology to investigate. The species we are aware of, however, seem as though they were created by a great painter; they are breath-taking, containing vast and rich spectrums of colors from yellows and oranges to deep blues and purples. These beauteous creatures range from smaller than an inch to many feet long in length. To appreciate the beauty of the world it is an astounding honor to be able to have an aquarium housing and preserving oceanic wildlife in your own home. Together we can appreciate and preserve nature, and together we can learn to care for these creatures as we take them into our homes as guests of virtue.


There is much to learn about how to establish a lively, homely environment for these fish. They require a setup with live corals, rocks, and foods, as well as a tank that provides strong lighting, heating, and filtration to keep them healthy. The Mandarin Garden site is dedicated to the service of promoting education of marine life in aquatic homes. Keeping fish alive combats extinction and the capturing of coral reef homes in the ocean. Providing a safe, secure environment is of utmost important to keep beautiful races of fish alive and in great condition.

Aquarium Heater Size Guide

Picking out the right wattage for our aquariums is one of the first things most aquarists have to do. What they don't know is that wattage isn't everything. Read our aquarium heater size guide for exact numbers and details that will help you set up the perfect aquarium.

Choosing Aquarium Substrate

Substrate is a huge biological filter for your aquarium. Substrates can contain calcium and be known as "calcareous" and raise pH and water hardness, or they can be inert and not affect them. Most freshwater fish should have inert substrate because they originate in softer water. Marine fish should have calcareous substrate such as aragonite sand to make their habitat replicate the feel of real saltwater. Substrate size must be considered if you have burrowing fish or filter-feeding fish such as the diamond goby or jawfish. Read more important facts about choosing your fish tank substrate here.

Inline Aquarium Heaters

How many times have you seen a nice big, truly beautiful aquarium only to notice an ugly stick heater resting in the back of the tank? Yes aquarium heaters are needed for almost all aquatic life, but the this doesn't mean we are stuck with eyesores in our tanks. Leap into the world of inline aquarium heaters and you'll soon discover just how nice a tank with no heating stick inside can be.

Nano Aquariums

Ever since the fish bowl has been deemed an unacceptable tank new users have had greater difficulty in starting out. For those looking for the best nano aquarium I personally have reviewed several of my current tanks as well as some newer models. Be sure to get your tank on the right start, or even pick out a wonderful starter tank as a gift. Either way there's a lot of information packed in there so be sure to check it out.

Betta Fish Tanks

When we first spot these long finned beauties in the store a lot goes through our mind. Where would I put them, what equipment do I need, how can I fit everything in a bowl?

Simply put you can't and should not. Bowls are often inhumane and stress our Betta to the point of illness or even death! Finding the perfect betta fish tank can change their life expectancy from 1 year all the way to 7+ years. Don't make the common mistake of tiny bowls or over priced nano cubes. Take advantage of my experiences Betta breeding in this quick rundown.

Aquarium Timers

When using high power lights to grow our corals there's a few things we often overlook. How long should the lights be on for the coral? what about algae growth? Does the coral benefit from blue lights during the night? Depending on these answers your corals can take a little more effort than any owner is willing to put in every single day.

Luckily Aquarium light timers fix this problem. While some aquarium timers are limited they will still offer us enough to get the job done. However for those looking for something a little more advanced there are high tech aquarium timers that bring in a whole lot of customization. Learn how to set up your timers and take advantage of every single feature they have in our detailed reviews.

Flame Hawkfish

The red beauty of the reef tank, Flame Hawkfish make for a delightful addition to most tanks. Visitors will quickly notice the eyes following them, as the flame is one of the few fish who keeps a close watch on humans even when it's not feeding time. Darting around our tank and peeking form the shadows, the flame brings a special charm to tanks world wide.

Watch out! These little guys can pack some rough aggression and have serious speed to hunt down anyone unfortunate enough to be recognized as prey. Learn exactly what it takes to care for, raise and even breed the flame.

Aquarium Heaters

Setting the dial on your heater and letting it handle the rest is a great feeling. The problem? Many new owners try and use cheap aquarium heaters that malfunction, frying their fish or leaving them in the cold.

Skip the discount junk pile and ensure you have one of the best aquarium heaters available. The cost difference is pretty low and if an extra $5 will keep your fish alive for a few more years I'm sure you'll agree it's worth the investment.

Growing Hammer Coral

Beautiful, bubbly and even a bit deadly, hammer corals can bring a lot of new and exciting elements into your home aquarium. After seeing this new coral price hike I would like to give my years of experience growing multiple coral tanks to the public.

After reading you will be able to transform single headed hammers into multi headed colonies. Boast your corals growth at the next meeting or even become a coral seller yourself. Whatever your desire you can learn the methods coral dealers use to grow hammer coral both quick and efficiently. Master the art of the hammer.

A New Light On Lights

Having our guests look our tank, only to see shadows of our hard work can be devastating. Ensure your aquarium is well lit, has enough strength to support your plant life and will have a long lifetime.

Luckily there is no need for any further research, as we have gone out ourselves to find you the best freshwater lighting available. These lights have stood the test of time and brought forth the best value possible. If nothing else at least check out our top pick. The effects that light can bring actually match that of our own sun. No guest will be able to turn away once they see your tank with the light just right.

Building A Sump

Having the perfect aquarium means more than a set water level, salinity and temperature. Water flow, biological filtration and decoration all come into play when you want the best looking tank on the block. Building your own sump allows you extra space to store all your equipment, treat the water and perform water changes without disturbing the peace of your display tank. Buying these bad boys can cost a fortune, with the lowest costs being over $100! Learn how to build your own sump costing little more than a bit of your time.

Picking Aquarium Gravel

Not all gravel is created equal. Different sizes, multiple colors and even painted glass! Learn what the uses of these are, which to avoid and find the best aquarium gravel for your tank. Scroll down to the bottom and use our rainbow grid of gravel to find the perfect color you never knew existed. Remember the light goes straight to the gravel, giving your tank is color and glow. A brilliant yellow, deep purple or a more modern black, be sure to make the choice that will reward you for years to come

The Rocky Tank

Fish only tanks can get a little dull. Sure plants, gravel and sand can help but some times we need big furniture to break up or living areas. For fish this is best suited towards specific aquarium rocks. Each can serve their own purpose and acts as much more than just furniture.

Live rocks will immediately increase your biological filtration and introduce interesting hitchhikers into the mix. Even the rocks that come without life on them can have a large effect on your aquarium. Choosing calcareous rocks will raise the pH while some rocks will act only as hiding spots for your fish. In the end you must know how to alter your waters parameters. Using live rock for both decoration and water chemistry is a two for one solution aquarists cannot pass by.

The Best Aquarium Filters

Maintaining our in home aquatic ecosystems is no easy task. Given only a few pieces of equipment to do so, we must ensure they are up to the task of keeping our tanks safe.

Lacking proper filtration can cause constantly cloudy tanks with debris in each corner and algae covered rocks. A strong suction paired with adequate water flow will easily take care of your problems and leave your tank crystal clear. Avoid all the difficult shopping and over priced stores by finding the perfect aquarium filter from your own home.

Low Light Aquarium Plants

Keeping plants in our tanks can be difficult. Sometimes our lights just aren't enough for some of the plants that were advertised as beginner plants. Why is this? despite "easy ratings" many plants simply need more expensive tanks to care for them, either in high water flow or powerful light systems.

For new owners low light aquarium plants are the perfect solution. Normal lighting and fluorescent bulbs are all that is needed to grow these plants. Some, such as number 9 are next to unkillable while bringing a beautiful look to tanks across the world. Read and find your perfect plant today.

The Cost Of Running An Aquarium

For those looking to setup a fish tank, or those who wish to cut their aquarium electric bill, find out the cost of running an aquarium. Learning how much money aquariums add to your electric bill helps people stick to their budget, and causes awareness to help make smart financial decisions. On this page you will also find money-saving tips for how to cut back the aquarium electric bill without even changing your aquarium equipment.