Aquarium Moss

How to get rid of aquarium algae

Nearly every fish keeper will suffer from problem algae at some point. It is important to remember that algae is just a symptom of an underlying problem. Algae growth can be useful for helping to understand more about the way your tank works.

Why does my tank have algae?

Algae is a very primitive type of plant and like all plants it needs three things to survive. Light, water and nutrients. Obviously we cant take away the water so our focus should be on the lights and nutrients in the tank.

  • Does the aquarium receive direct sunlight? This is one of the most common causes of algae growth on glass and ornaments.
  • If you use fluorescent lights, when were they last changed? If they are more than a year old they may be giving out the wrong type of light.
  • Over feeding is often the cause of algae blooms. Too much food will raise your phosphates which will cause algae to grow.
  • Incorrect or infrequent water changes allow waste to build up not to mention feed nuisance algae.

How do I get rid of it?

The first thing to do is test your water using a reliable test kit like the NT Labs Aquarium Lab Multi Test Kit. This will show you if the waste levels in your tank are contributing to the algae growth. Too much Nitrate or Phosphate in a tank will act as fertiliser for algae.

Over feeding is more common than you think

  • Almost everybody overfeeds their tank. Fish are cold blooded so they don’t need as much food as you might think. Choose a high quality fish food and then feed only once or twice per day, as much as your fish will eat in one or two minutes. If you are using a flake food, crunch it between your fingers slightly so that your fish can easily eat it.
  • Remove uneaten food after feeding the fish. If left, it will break down in to waste that will feed algae.
  • Over feeding is not always the problem. It could be that your aquarium maintenance routine needs changing. Aim to change 15 – 20% of your water every week. Changing more water will have negative effects as you risk upsetting the balance of your tank and killing off beneficial bacteria. You should use an aquarium gravel cleaner because nearly all of the waste in your tank is trapped in the substrate.

Water changes must be done correctly

  • Changing water from the top of the tank will not remove waste as the water is relatively clean.
  • Once you know that your water is low in nutrients it is time to look at the lighting. If your tank receives direct sunlight, this will most likely cause problems. Either try moving your tank to a more shaded part of the room or keep curtains and blinds closed for longer. If light is hitting the sides or back of the tank, consider adding an aquarium background to block some of it out.
  • The last thing to check is often overlooked. How old are your aquarium lights? Fluorescent bulbs will give out the wrong type of light once they are about a year old. If your tank has this type of light, it may be telling you that it is time to change the bulbs. Good quality LED lights like the Zetlight do not tend to suffer from this problem and have a low running cost.

Keeping algae at bay.

A small amount of algae in a mature tank is natural as it is a sign that your filter is working well and converting ammonia and nitrite into relatively harmless nitrate. It is unsightly though and best removed.

  • Test your tap water regularly as many areas of the country have quite high nitrates and phosphates. If this is the case where you live, you may have to add products to your tank regularly to help combat it. Phosphate removers and Tetra Nitrate minus are good examples. You can use Reverse Osmosis water instead of tap water as it contains no organic nutrients what so ever.
  • Make sure that you only use the best quality fish food. Cheap fish foods often have higher amounts of indigestible ingredients and these will end up in your water.

Get help from a clean up crew

  • Consider adding algae eating fish or snails to your aquarium. Fish such as Siamese Algae eaters and various types of plecostomus will graze on most types of algae. Whichever species you choose you should always check what size they will grow to as some can get huge! Nerite snails are a more recent addition to our hobby and have made themselves a great name as algae munchers. These small (up to 1″ shell) snails can be added to your tank at a stocking level of one per 15 litres and will usually annihilate green algae. They are so popular because unlike many snails, they won’t graze on live plants and they are difficult to breed so you wont end up with a plague of them.

The most important thing to remember is not to panic. Whatever the reason behind an algae bloom, it is almost always a relatively easy problem to fix. Once you understand why algae grows you can keep it away and enjoy your tank for much longer.

Download this guide as a PDF here How to get rid of aquarium algae

Fish Stock Update 28/09/18

*All Photos Are Of Our Own Fish That Are Currently In Stock!*

Tropical species

Livebearers

  • Jasper Endlers Livebearer

  • Rainbow Metallic Male Guppy

  • Red Metallic Dumbo Male Guppy

  • Iridescent Flagtail Male Guppy

  • Green King Cobra Male guppy

  • Black king cobra Male Guppy
  • Blue Lyretail Male guppy
  • Flame tail Male Guppy

  • Assorted Male Guppy
  • Assorted Female Guppy
  • XXXL Female Guppy

  • True Lyretail Black Molly

  • XL Sailfin Silver Molly

  • XL Tangerine Molly

  • Dalmation Molly

  • Medium Assorted Molly
  • Jumbo red Wag Platy

  • XL Sunset Platy

  • Calico Platy
  • Hi-Fin Variatus Platy
  • Blood red Platy
  • XL Kohaku Swordtail

  • Hi-Fin Veil Tail Blood red Swords

  • Red Wag Swords
  • Neon green Swords

  • Blood Red Swords

  • Sunset Swords

Anabantoids

  • Male Betta
  • XXL Giant Male betta

  • Crowntail female Betta
  • Three Spot Gouramis
  • Opaline Gouramis
  • Gold gouramis
  • Deep red dwarf Gouramis
  • Cobalt Blue Dwarf gouramis
  • Large Paradise fish

Cichlids

  • Koi Angels
  • Veiltail Angels
  • German Blue rams

  • Kribensis
  • Red Oscars

Cyprinids

  • Red Rosy Barbs

  • Cherry Barbs
  • Albino Tiger Barbs
  • XXL Red Line Torpedo Barbs

  • XL Long Finned Barbs
  • Leopard Danios

  • Zebra Danios
  • Clown loach (approx. 3″)
  • Red Tailed Black Shark

Tetras and Rasboras

  • Long fin Serpae Tetras

  • Neons (two sizes)

 

  • Congo Tetras
  • Black Phantoms
  • Black widows
  • Head and tail Lights

  • Silvertips

  • X-Ray Tetras
  • Harlequins
  • Scissortails

Cleaners and Shrimps

  • Corydoras Julii Catfish

  • Glass Shrimps
  • tiger Shrimp
  • XXL Blood Red Cherry Shrimp

  • Tiger Snails

  • Assassin Snails

Temperate and Coldwater

  • Goldfish
  • Buttercup Goldfish
  • Sarasa Comets
  • Shubunkins
  • Red Fantails
  • Red and White Fantails
  • Calico Fantails
  • Black Moors
  • Weather Loach
  • Variatus Platy
  • Rosy Barbs
  • Axolotls
  • Tiger Snails

MEGA STOCK UPDATE 14 SEPTEMBER 2018

*All Photos Are Of Our Own Fish That Are Currently In Stock!*

Tropical species

Livebearers

  • Jasper Endlers Livebearer

  • Rainbow Metallic Male Guppy

  • Red Metallic Dumbo Male Guppy

  • Iridescent Flagtail Male Guppy

  • Green King Cobra Male guppy

  • Black king cobra Male Guppy
  • Blue Lyretail Male guppy
  • Flame tail Male Guppy

  • Assorted Male Guppy
  • Assorted Female Guppy
  • XXXL Female Guppy

  • True Lyretail Black Molly

  • XL Sailfin Silver Molly

  • XL Tangerine Molly

  • Dalmation Molly
  • Medium Assorted Molly
  • Jumbo red Wag Platy

  • XL Sunset Platy

  • Calico Platy
  • Hi-Fin Variatus Platy
  • Blood red Platy
  • XL Kohaku Swordtail

  • Hi-Fin Veil Tail Blood red Swords

  • Red Wag Swords
  • Neon green Swords

  • Blood Red Swords

  • Sunset Swords

Anabantoids

  • Male Betta
  • XXL Giant Male betta

  • Crowntail female Betta

  • Three Spot Gouramis
  • Opaline Gouramis
  • Gold gouramis
  • Deep red dwarf Gouramis
  • Cobalt Blue Dwarf gouramis
  • Large Paradise fish

Cichlids

  • Koi Angels

  • Black Angels
  • Veiltail Angels
  • Blue rams

  • Kribensis
  • Red Oscars

Cyprinids

  • Red Rosy Barbs

  • Cherry Barbs
  • Albino Tiger Barbs
  • XXL Red Line Torpedo Barbs

  • XL Long Finned Barbs
  • Leopard Danios

  • Zebra Danios
  • Clown loach (approx. 3″)
  • Red Tailed Black Shark

Tetras and Rasboras

  • Long fin Serpae Tetras

  • Neons (two sizes)
  • Congo Tetras
  • Black Phantoms

  • Black widows
  • Head and tail Lights

  • Silvertips
  • X-Ray Tetras
  • Harlequins
  • Scissortails

Cleaners and Shrimps

  • Corydoras Julii Catfish

  • Glass Shrimps
  • tiger Shrimp
  • XXL Blood Red Cherry Shrimp

  • Tiger Snails

  • Assassin Snails

Temperate and Coldwater

  • Goldfish
  • Buttercup Goldfish
  • Sarasa Comets
  • Shubunkins
  • Red Fantails
  • Red and White Fantails
  • Calico Fantails
  • Black Moors
  • Weather Loach
  • Variatus Platy
  • Rosy Barbs
  • Axolotls

  • Tiger Snails

 

NEW LIVEBEARERS!!!

We are so proud to announce the arrival of the best Guppies, Mollies, Platys and Swordtails that we have ever seen! Our Promise has always been to stock the best fish available and we stand by it. Here at Atlas Aquatics we are hobbyists ourselves with a passion for quality.

*All photos are of our fish and were taken in store*

Male Dumbo Guppy

           

Wow! Just… WOW! These fish have enlarged pectoral fins which, combined with that spectacular tail give the fish a real elegance. These Guppies have an incredibly metallic dorsal (back) surface so when viewed from above they look like neon lights!

Rainbow Metallic Male Guppies

                 

 

These are ” Classic Guppies” as we remember them. They have so much colour it is unreal. The colours begin as bold patches on the body and condense onto the caudal fin (tail) to create a real firework effect!

 

Flag tail Male Guppies

These really have to be seen to be believed! The neon colours on these Guppies is incredibly variable and when viewed under natural spectrum lighting, you will need sunglasses! As they move, different colours appear to ripple along the body. Honestly, we can’t emphasise enough how bright these chaps are.

 

 

XXXL Female Guppies

  

We have never seen Females this big before. They are bound to produce large babies and loads of them. The top fish in the above photos is one of our standard large females. All XXXL girls have cracking colour and pattern too. These big girls really are beautiful!

Jasper Endlers Livebearer

These little guys are smaller than Guppies but pack just as much of a visual wallop! They are like green and gold hummingbirds. They are kept in the same way as Guppies and will cohabit peacefully.

 

Hi-Fin Lyretail Blood Red Swordtails

These elegant beauties are such a deep red! Like fireballs darting around the tank! They are always on the move and very visible in the aquarium at all times. These fish are XL and already producing beautiful red babies! They have a sword on the top and bottom of the tail fin as well as huge dorsals!

Kohaku Swordtails

Kohaku Swordtails are still quite rare in the hobby and we have no idea why. The contrast between the creamy white and the bold orange red is perfectly defined. Kohaku Swords are named after the Red and White Japanese Koi that share this exquisite colour combination. These fish are big and beautiful!

 

Tangerine Mollies

Huge Mollies with stunning high fins. I can’t think of words to describe the colour of these… Intense, Dazzling, Incandescent doesn’t begin to cut it! Really, they are that bright, come and check them out for yourself!

 

True Lyretail Black Molly

Accept no imitations! This is what a lyretail black molly should look like. Jet Black, perfectly balanced fins and a stocky build. These fish have already begun to breed and the babies are MASSIVE! Both Females and Males have the stunning Lyretail and males also have a tall dorsal fin which is used for display.

 

XXL Sailfin Silver Mollies

Chunky, Sparkling pure silver mollies! The males have a sail-like dorsal fin that is used for display but carried flat against the body whilst swimming.

 

There’s more… so much more but I’ve almost run out of time. These Fish are all so healthy and acclimatised to our local water. They’re so, so, so, gorgeous that you shouldn’t take my word for it…

Come and have a look this weekend!

 

 

 

 

Fish Stock Update List 08th september 2018

Tropical Species

Livebearers

  • Pink Male Guppy
  • Black King Cobra Male Guppy
  • Green King Cobra Male Guppy
  • Lyretail Blue Male Guppy
  • Flametail Male Guppy
  • Assorted Female Guppy
  • Assorted Balloon Molly
  • Silver Molly
  • Black Molly
  • Dalmation Molly
  • Gold Molly
  • Red Wag Platy
  • Calico Variatus Platy
  • Neon Red Platy
  • Blue Coral Platy
  • Hi-Fin Variatus Platy
  • Sunset Wag Swordtail
  • Neon Green Swordtail
  • Red Wag Swordtail
  • Blood Red Swordtail

Cichlids

  • Med Black Angel
  • Med Tricolour Angel
  • Veiltail Golden Angel
  • Blue Ram
  • Kribensis
  • Red Oscar

Cyprinids

  • Albino Tiger Barb
  • Large Cherry Barb
  • Large Red Rosy Barb
  • XXL Red Line Torpedo Barb
  • XXL Arulius Barb
  • Zebra Danio
  • Leopard Danio

Tetras and Raboras

  • Neon Tetra (3 sizes)
  • Congo Tetra
  • Silvertips
  • Head and Tail Lights
  • Black Phantoms
  • Black Widows
  • Long Fin Serpae Tetra
  • Red Eye Tetra
  • X-Ray Tetra
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Scissortail Rasbora

Catfish and Loaches

  • Plecs
  • Corydoras Sterbai
  • Chain Link Loaches

Miscellaneous

  • Tiger Snails (The Very Best Algae Eater )
  • XXL Cherry Shrimp (Lots Of Females with Eggs)
  • Glass Shrimp
  • Tiger Shrimp

Cold Water and Temperate

  • Red Fantails
  • Red And White Fantails
  • Calico Fantails
  • Goldfish (from 2″ to 8″)
  • Sarasa Comets (From 2″ to 5″)
  • Shubunkins (From 2″ to 5″)
  • Buttercups (From 2″ to 5″)
  • Weather Loaches
  • Paradise Fish (Few)
  • Zebra Danio
  • Leopard danio
  • Calico Variatus Platy
  • Hi-Fin Variatus Platy
  • Red Rosy Barbs
  • Red Line Torpedo Barbs
  • Axolotls

Fish Stock Update List 25/08/18

New fish in stock this week!

With so many new customers, this week we have ordered species that are suitable for beginners and experienced hobbyists!

Tropical Species

Livebearers

  • Flametail Male Guppies
  • Green King Cobra Male Guppies
  • Ice White Male Guppies
  • Assorted Female Guppies
  • Dalmation Mollies
  • Silver Mollies
  • Golden Mollies
  • Assorted Balloon Mollies
  • Neon Red Platies
  • Coral Blue Platies
  • Variatus Hi-Fin Platies
  • Sunset Wagtail Swordtails
  • Neon Green Swordtails
  • Red Wag Swordtails
  • Blood Red Swordtails

Anabantoids

  • 3-Spot Gouramis
  • Cobalt Dwarf Gouramis
  • Male Betta
  • Crowntail Male Betta
  • Crowntail Female Betta

Angelfish

  • Black Angels
  • Assorted Angels

Barbs

  • Green Tiger Barbs
  • Golden Tiger Barbs
  • Cherry Barbs

Tetras, Danios and Rasboras

  • Neon Tetras (3 sizes)
  • Black Widows
  • Head and Tail Lights
  • Congo Tetras
  • Silvertips
  • Red Eye Tetras
  • Black Phantoms
  • X-Ray Tetras
  • Zebra Danios
  • Leopard Danios
  • Scissortails
  • Harlequin Rasboras

Invertebrates

  • Zebra Snails (best algae eater)
  • Assassin Snails
  • Tiger Shrimps
  • Glass Shrimps

Coldwater Aquarium

  • Red and White Fantails
  • Red Fantails
  • Red and Black Fantails
  • Calico Fantails
  • Black Moors
  • XXL Show Orandas
  • Zebra Danios
  • Leopard Danios
  • Weather Loaches
  • Paradise Fish
  • Hi-Fin Variatus Platy
  • Calico Variatus Platy
  • Axolotls (wild-type and white with black eyes)
  • Golden Clawed Frogs

Pond Fish

  • 3″ Sarasa Comets
  • 3″ Shubunkins
  • 3″ Buttercup Goldfish
  • 4-5″ Goldfish
  • 4-5″ Snow White Goldfish
  • 4-5″ Sarasa Comets
  • 4-5″ Shubunkins
  • 4-5″ Buttercup Goldfish
  • Golden Orfe
  • Golden Grass Carp (eats duckweed)

 

 

 

New Fish Livestock 11th August 2018

All new fish well settled and ready to go to new homes.

Indoor Cold Water Fish and Amphibians

  • 1″ Red Fantails
  • 1″ Red and White Fantails
  • 2″ Black Moors
  • 2″ Red and Black Fantails
  • 2″ Calico Fantails
  • Golden Zebra Danios
  • Zebra Danios
  • Leopard Danios
  • Weather Loach
  • Golden Clawed Frog (xenopus)
  • Large Wild-type Axolotls

Tropical Aquarium Fish

Livebearers

  • Green King Cobra Male Guppy
  • Lyretail Blue Male Guppy
  • Assorted Female Guppy
  • Snow White Male Guppy
  • Silver Molly
  • Golden Molly
  • Dalmation Molly
  • Assorted Colour Balloon Molly
  • Coral Blue Platy
  • Neon Red Platy
  • Red Wag Swordtails
  • Neon Green Swordtail
  • Blood Red Swordtail

Cichlids

  • 2″ Red Oscars
  • 2″ Red Tiger Oscars
  • Koi Angelfish
  • Storm Angelfish
  • Black Angelfish
  • Kribensis

Cyprinids

  • Medium Tiger Barbs
  • Medium Green Tiger BArbs
  • Medium Albino Tiger Barbs
  • Cherry Barbs

Tetras/Rasboras

  • Red Eye Tetra
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • X-Ray Tetra
  • Black Phantoms
  • Black Widow Tetra
  • Zebra Danios
  • Leopard Danios
  • Rummynose Tetra
  • Large Neons
  • Scissortail Rasboras
  • Cardinals
  • Silver tip tetra
  • Congo Tetra
  • Head and Tail Light Tetra

 

How Does The Hosepipe Ban Affect My Pond?

There is a hosepipe ban due to come into effect on the 5th of August across the North West. We are already receiving a large number of enquiries about how we as pond keepers can save water. Any pond that holds livestock such as fish or amphibians is still permitted to use water if necessary but we must do our best to limit usage. We must look at ways that we can use water more efficiently as a running hosepipe will waste between 450 and 1000 litres per hour. That is enough to fill 30 to 60 goldfish bowls!

make sure your water quality stays perfect.

The first thing that we need to do is keep the existing pond water cleaner for longer. By reducing the levels of waste that your fish produce you will ensure that less water changes are needed. Use the best Quality fish food that your budget allows. Brands such as Vitalis, Tetra and Hikari are known for using much more digestible ingredients in their foods. This means that your fish will absorb more nutrients and less will pass through their digestive system and end up as waste.

Lower quality foods and budget brands often use a lot of “ash” (indigestible ingredients). This is because it bulks the food out and makes it seem as though you are getting more for your money.

How Much Should I Feed My Fish?

It is worth mentioning that nearly 70% of people overfeed their pond. Fish are cold blooded so their metabolism is determined by their surrounding temperature and not their food intake. A fish needs about 10% as much food as a similar sized mammal would do.

We humans have long intestines because vegetable matter takes time to digest. Fish have a very short gut so their food is only able to be digested in a very short time. With this in mind, you should only feed your fish once daily and then only as much food as they can eat in five minutes. Any that is left after this time should be scooped out and discarded. Once you are familiar with the quantity of food your fish need, you can spread it out over 2 -3 meals a day. This way, the fish will be able to utilise even more of the vitamins and minerals and less waste will be produced.

Keep Waste Levels Low

The end product of the waste cycle in your pond is Nitrate (NO3). Nitrate causes algae to grow and over time will impair your fishes ability to generate new cells. This leads to slow growing, sickly fish.

There are two ways to remove the Nitrates from a pond

  1. Water changes: This method is wasteful and inefficient. It simply masks the symptoms of excessive Nitrates rather than dealing with the problem.
  2. Encouraging natural processes such as plant growth. Faster growing pond plants such as Water Lilies, Iris’ and Oxygenating weed take in Nitrates to fuel growth. The plants use Nitrogen to produce chlorophyll and release Oxygen.

Lilies also play a vital role when trying to preserve your pond water for another reason. The beautiful leaves cover the surface of the pond and reduce evaporation. If you allow Lilies to cover one third of the pond, the reduction in light penetration is often enough to prevent the growth of green water algae. The pond temperature will be more consistent and there is less surface area for water to evaporate from.

Making Sure It Stays Clean

An efficient filter system is the cornerstone of a healthy pond. When buying a filter always bear in mind that the maximum filtration capacity stated is just that… A maximum. If a filter states that is is capable of maintaining a 1000 litre pond this means under ideal conditions. A filter of this size will clean a 1000 litre pond in full shade with a very low fish stocking level. As most ponds are moderately stocked and receive at least partial sunlight for a few hours a day this needs to be taken into account.

Ideally choose a filter that is capable of maintaining at least double the volume of your pond and this way foams will need to be cleaned even less frequently.

Pressure filters are fantastic because they are sealed and therefor they are far less likely to leak over time and no water can evaporate from them. The foams inside them are cleaned without having to be removed from the filter. This saves even more water as rinsing foams with a hose is wasteful and messy.

Oxygenate Your Pond

Nearly all life needs oxygen to survive. Much of the filtration process that occurs in ponds is carried out by beneficial bacteria. These bacteria use oxygen to remove pollutants from the water. The more oxygen you can supply the pond with, the more these microbes will thrive and maintain healthy water quality.

How to oxygenate your pond

  • Plants: As we have already mentioned, all aquatic plants will help to oxygenate the water.
  • Air Pumps: using an air pump in the pond breaks the surface film of water and as the bubbles rise, they drag water from the bottom of the pond to the surface. This helps to release Carbon Dioxide and replenish the Oxygen levels.
  • Fountains: Fountains supply Oxygen to the pond in much the same way as an air pump and can add an element of height to an otherwise flat water feature.

Reduce Evaporation.

This Summer has been the hottest on record for a long time. A combination of relentless heat and a lack of rainfall mean that one of the biggest concerns for pond keepers is evaporation.

One of the best ways to reduce evaporation in the pond is by providing surface cover. Lilies are a fantastic way of doing this with many other benefits that we have already discussed. For small to medium sized ponds, another option is to cover up to half of the pond with a waterproof membrane. There are a few points to bear in mind.

  1. Safety: Never cover a pond so that it is possible for somebody to accidentally fall or step on the membrane. Make sure that the cover is highly visible and secure. Ensure that children and wildlife can’t accidentally step onto it and become entangled.
  2. Whatever you decide to cover the pond with must be non toxic. Water will condense on the underside and return to the pond. Most treated wood contains chemicals that could be fatal to fish.
  3. The cover must be above the water and not touching it. If the cover is in contact with the water it will prevent CO2 from escaping the pond and stop Oxygen from entering. This combined with warmer temperatures and less rainfall can decimate a pond overnight.

Save More Water.

Waterfalls are one of the best methods of adding Oxygen to pond water but the high turbulence created is also responsible for a large amount of evaporation. When a Hosepipe ban is in place it is best to turn the flow of a waterfall down in an effort to produce a smoother cascade.

If possible, divert water back to the pond by bypassing the waterfall all together. This can be done by connecting a length of pond hose to run all of the way back to the edge of the pond from the filter or pump.

If you do choose to turn off or bypass the waterfall always add an air pump so that additional oxygenation is provided.

When Will The Hosepipe Ban End?

At the moment it is difficult to predict exactly how long water usage restrictions will be in place for. One thing that is certain though is that if we all do our best to save water supplies, things will be back to normal sooner.

By maintaining a healthy pond, we create an oasis for local wildlife large and small. Even a modest garden pond has a positive environmental impact far beyond that which we can see. Birds will drop in for a quick dip and at this time of year, many are still teaching their young how to survive.

By maintaining great water quality and recycling water efficiently, the positive effect on the environment reaches further than ever. Water reservoirs and clean water supplies all need energy to operate and if we all used less water on a day to day basis we could reduce Carbon emissions massively.

One person can make a difference, remember every single hour that a tap is running for, nearly a thousand litres of clean water goes down the drain. That is more than most households use in two whole days.

For more ways to save water in your home please visit United Utilities fantastic article by clicking on This Link.

If you have found this article useful, please share it with others and thank you for taking the time to help.

Tropical Fish

Fish Livestock Update July 2018

Found a baby bird?

Here at Atlas Aquatics we take nature conservation seriously. This year we have received more calls than ever regarding injured and abandoned baby birds. If you find a baby bird the chances are that its parents are close and just gathering food for it. Taking in a bird is an absolute last resort and should only happen when there are no other options.

Is it best to help or leave it alone?

A baby bird that has no feathers or very few is known as a nestling. These are usually less than two weeks old and can’t yet regulate their own body temperature. This means that they are defenceless and won’t survive long without mum and dad. A baby of this size shouldn’t be outside of its nest and is unlikely to be able to get back.

Nestling house sparrow found near St Annes Pier

The first thing to do is check the area immediately around where the bird was found and see if there is a nest. Birds of this size can’t walk far so the nest is often close. The old saying that “its mother won’t take it back if it has your scent on it” isn’t true. This is something your parents told you to stop you bringing birds back home all the time. If you do locate a nest then call your local wildlife rehabilitation centre and tell them. It may be illegal for you to interfere with the nest so for now, keep the baby safe and warm.

Sometimes the nestling may have been carried by a predator and dropped and could be far from home. These are the ones that need your help. You will need to catch the bird and confine it in a well ventilated box that has been lined with paper towels.

Once the bird is safely contained and in a warm area you should call a local wildlife rescue. We work with Wolfwood Animal Sanctuary and they can be contacted on 07931220094

 

For a list of your local wildlife rehabilitators please click this link.

What do I do with it while I’m waiting?

Nestlings are still kept warm by their parents and without them they can loose body heat fast. They don’t yet have insulating feathers so heat must be provided via a warm water bottle wrapped in towels or a heat pad and thermostat.

Throughout the spring/summer we will offer the baby bird mat and stat kit for £36 and offer daily free delivery within a 10 mile radius of FY4 5EA if it is to be used to care for local wildlife.

Feel free to email a photo to james@atlasaquatics.co.uk  if you aren’t sure what species of bird you have found. Different species require different foods.

Baby birds usually need feeding every half hour through the day. Finches and sparrows feed on insects at this age whereas blackbirds need a little soft fruit. If you are unsure then most young birds will accept mashed tinned cat food gently offered to them on the end of a plastic straw. Do not try to give them water as they can easily drown if it goes down the wrong way. moist food should be enough.

“Captain Jack” the sparrow accepting a waxworm

Nestlings grow insanely quickly and this photo shows captain jack on the day he was found and then again three days later!

Not all birds are born quite so helpless. Presumably due to the strong winds this year we have rescued several Gull chicks. These are officially the cutest animals on earth! They look like little spotty penguins and warble when contented.

“Steven Seagull” was with us for a few days before being transferred to Wolfwood Animal Sanctuary for rehabilitation.

               

It is also worth mentioning that baby Gulls bite, scream when hungry and constantly fire poo backwards up to about three feet!

 

Fledglings

A baby bird is called a fledgling once it has grown its feathers. Many birds leave the nest at this point but are still unable to fly properly. Their parents continue to teach them to feed themselves outside of the nest.

“Grayson” the fledgling Robin who was placed into a shallow box until his mother returned to collect him.

Fledglings should be left alone. Watch from a distance as the parents are usually close by but may hide if they know you are watching them.  Only if a fledgling is in imminent danger should you intervene.

Caring for a baby bird yourself is never a good option. They need very specialist care and to be raised with others of their own kind. Wildlife centres are absolutely inundated with thousands of birds every year, most of whom would have been better off left where they were.

Injured Birds

Due to the heat, many of the birds that we have helped this year were simply dehydrated and starving. The best thing to do if you find a bird with no obvious injuries is to place a shallow bowl of water close to it and leave it. In extreme weather, you may relocate the bird to a shaded area to speed up its recovery.

If a bird does appear to be injured then it is unlikely to survive without some help. Call your local widlife centre and ask for their specific advice. It is usually just a case of keeping the animal contained to your garden and keeping a watchful eye out for cats until the help arrives.

We found “Bert” the young Blackbird with a suspected broken wing that turned out to be a sprain.

He spent a few days with us after his visit to The Veterinary Health Centre before being moved to a rehabilitation centre.

How Else Can I Help?

Wildlife centres are often extremely busy at all times of the year and are run by hugely dedicated volunteers and staff. If they think that a bird may require admitting then you can always help by offering to take it to them rather than wait for collection. If this isn’t possible please feel free to email us at james@atlasaquatics.co.uk. Through the spring and summer months, we will be making weekly trips to Wolfwood Sanctuary and can collect any animals local to us to take to them.

It may seem obvious but every donation that you make to your local wildlife centre can save a life.

Life is hard for parent birds at this time of year. They have lots of little mouths to feed and teach the ways of the world. By far the best thing that you can do is to offer them fresh water and food daily.

This is a bigger commitment than many people realise as birds will become reliant on these food sources. If you regularly provide food and then suddenly stop it could be worse than never having offered it in the first place. Please keep the feeders full and wash them regularly.

Mother Starling feeding her babies on one of our bird feeders.

         

The Bird featured at the top of this article is a rescued, one-winged Jackdaw named Boris. He’s going to feature in his very own article soon! He was a rescue that it seemed had no hope until he decided to make himself part of the family!

 

Blackpool Rock Pools

Whether you are just visiting or a permanent resident, you’d be mad to miss the wildlife in our famous rock pools!

You may be surprised to know that a five-minute drive (or less) from the hustle and bustle of Blackpool town centre lies a little piece of paradise. Blackpool South Beach (known as Starr Gate) has won the Blue Flag award for the third year running! From the sand dunes to the famous glitter ball is a quiet area of the beach with stunning views and blue seas

Here you will find our coastal defense wall which is arranged in a series of honeycomb-shaped sections. After high tide, each one of these cells becomes a rock pool teeming with life. Each is different to the next and hosts its own microhabitat.

               

When is best to visit?

The most exciting time to visit is just as the tide goes out as the pools have just been replenished with fresh, oxygenated water. Please check the tide times on the day that you are planning to visit by following this link. Remember to keep your wits about you and keep an eye on the tide. Far too many people every year underestimate the power of the ocean. Blackpool Seafront is a wonderful place and children can learn so much about our native marine life but please be safe and mindful.

What can I expect to find?

We have recently seen a huge increase in the number of Beadlet Sea Anemones (Actinia Equina). These are as beautiful as any tropical species and provide shelter and food to a host of other marine life. On our excursion, we found around half a dozen in every single pool!

               

  If you peek over the edge of one of these pools very quietly and slowly, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a fish. These pools are teeming with gobies and blennies, both of which are more often associated with tropical marine tanks. They are, however, shy and alert and will often shoot out of sight if they see you first. We saw Shanny Blennies (Lipophrys pholis) and Common Gobies (Pomatoschistus microps). Did you Know that the famous Mudskipper fish is a species of Goby? Our native Gobies and Blennies can frequently be seen “walking” on their fins in the same way as their more exotic cousins.

Note the amazing cryptic camouflage on this shanny!

We also found scores of baby flatfish hiding in the tide. This shallow water is warmer and food is more concentrated here than further out. Kids are fascinated by these asymmetrical wonders of nature. It is easy to forget how amazing evolution really is until you stop for a moment and realise how truly perfectly everything fits into its environment.

Legs and Claws

Of course no visit to the rock pools of Blackpool would be complete without catching shrimps and crabs! Please show the kids what fascinating creatures these truly are. I found it best to get my children’s attention by screaming wildly and pretending to be dragged into a pool before revealing the crab. You may find it better to take a more subtle (but far less fun) approach. Take a small net with you and gently skim over the sand in shallow water and you are sure to catch shrimps and prawns.

               

Jelly in all the colours of the rainbow!!!

It is worth pointing out, at this point, that even the familiar demands a closer look. Everybody knows gooseberry jellies (not technically a jellyfish). They are the little snotty blobs of clear jelly that float around in shallow water. They do nothing at all right? WRONG! These creatures are blessed with a divine beauty that only those who take the time to observe them closely will ever know. They move around by waving rows of tiny hair-like cells to propel them through the water. If you watch for a while you will see that these cells refract light much like a prism to reveal in intense colour show!

Be a responsible Rockpooler…

Let us keep our Blue flag Beach! If you take snacks or drinks, please please take your litter home with you. We can’t emphasise this point enough. In the 2 hours that we spent Rock pooling, we didn’t see a single piece of litter and that contributed overwhelmingly to the experience. We are nature’s guardians. When exploring or turning over stones, be gentle and always leave everything exactly as you found it. To hundreds of animals, each pool is home. Many of the species that we encountered are territorial and disrupting their habitat will cause them stress. If you’re a responsible rockpooler, it will be like you were never there. At Atlas Aquatics our aim is to ignite the same passion for life that we feel every day. There is nothing more rewarding than learning and passing on knowledge. It’s time to turn the computer off and go exploring! If you want to feel that same excitement and wonder that you felt when you were younger, you need to act like you did back then and look upon everything as though it was for the first time.

Further learning

If you do get a chance to go exploring on the beach, and would like any species information, feel free to e-mail us at sales@atlasaquatics.co.uk. Blackpool SeaLife Centre is a fantastic local attraction with a huge variety of local marine life and also tropical species such as sharks and seahorses. If you want to get up close and personal with the fishes, please visit them by clicking on this link.

 

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