Tech Support

Aquarium Tech Information... this page has (3) sections:
  1. Common Problems
  2. Tank Maintenance Tips & Resources
    1. Getting started
    2. Water Testing
    3. Clean-up
  3. End-of-Year Clean up
  4. MSDS PDFs.
     Staff Calendar  (Check on our availability for trouble-shooting or class visits.)

Don't Panic!

Common Problems (What could go wrong?)
  • The Filter is making a loud/rattling noise:  This is an indication that water is not moving through the filter pump properly.
    1. Locate the outflow from the filter (canister next to tank) into the tank and check to see if water is flowing out.
      1. If yes, unplug the filter and gently pump the gray manual pump on top of the canister.  If air bubbles pop out the outflow nozzle in the tank, keep pumping until clear.  Plug in the filter, continue with manual pump if necessary and see if the filter restarts and sound better.
      2. If not, unplug the filter and move to step 2.
    2. Check netting over intake and outflow points in the aquarium.  These can become clogged.  They are easy to remove and rinse under tap.  (Once trout are large enough, these can be permanently removed.)  Restart filter and evaluate. 
    3. If filter is still rattling, you have a broken impeller or impeller shaft.  This is an easy fix.  If you have extra parts provides, you can replace yourself, or call us for a trouble-shooting visit.  Leave the filter unplugged.
  • Filter is making a hissing/signing noise on and off:  you have a worn gasket.  Another easy fix!  The gasket is a rubber band that fits around the motor housing, and seals the filter when you close up the canister. It needs to be removed, cleaned and lubricated with vegetable oil.  Just let us know.  You may continue to run the filter until it is fixed.
  • Chiller is not functioning properly:  For a variety of potential malfunctions, the first thing to do is to power down the unit (unplug or switch off) and wait 10 seconds before restarting.  This reset may do the trick;  if not, call us.  (Your aquarium will not warm to dangerous temperatures for quite some time.)
  • Chiller is on, but water in tank is not getting cold enough:  The chiller's "Pre-filter" may be clogged.  This is a black foam cylinder attached to the submersible pump in your aquarium.  If it has a lot of debris stuck to it, or appears to be squeezed together, simply pull the unit toward the surface, slide the filter cylinder off it's frame and rinse it out.  You should notice an immediate increase in water flow through the chiller system.  

2. Tank Maintenance Tips & Resources:

Getting Started. Hatching-Phase tips: During this life-stage, your alevins will produce limited quantities of waste. The waste, along with decomposing egg shells or dead eggs, will help beneficial bacteria colonies get started in your filter. Add the recommended bacterial supplement at least on a weekly basis.
  • This is the best time to establish daily observation routines in your classes so that kids get accustomed to knowing what to look for- water temperature steady, pH, clarity, number and activity-level of the fish, all equipment running smoothly. 
  • Record all observations in aquarium binder and/or online.
  • Have your students to bring in gallon jugs.  Fill these jugs and allow the water from your tap to age.  In the event that you need to change out water, you should have 8 gallons (or about 20% of your aquarium volume) ready to go!

Water Testing:   Your aquarium binder should have printed water testing instructions, and your test kit will have picture-instructions.   Remember, you are using the water chemistry tests to assess the presence of beneficial bacteria.  Once your trout begin to produce waste, you should soon see a slight rise in ammonia levels associated with fish waste.  However, you will know that the beneficial bacteria are becoming established when nitrate levels also begin to rise and ammonia levels have a corresponding decrease.  The bacteria are turning ammonia to nitrite (nitrifying) and then nitrite to nitrate (denitrifying) the waste.

Instructional Video Links for students:   
          Ammonia Test: 
Water Testing Links & Materials

External Trout In The Classroom Help Pages

3.  End of Year Cleanup   

At the end of the year, it is important to clean your aquarium to ensure a successful next year. Your equipment will also have a much longer life. Here are a few pointers:

Aquarium Tank
  1. Then turn off the electrical pumps, chillers, filters, etc.  Disconnect tubing.
  2. Empty the tank almost all the way, by your usual method--many people like to use the electric pump to do this work.  Be careful not to suck gravel into the pump, however!
  3. Wipe down the inside of the tank and equipment surfaces with white vinegar and a sponge.  Use a scrubby and repeated applications to soften and remove calcium carbonate and algae. 
  4. IF DISINFECTION IS NECESSARY:  Using a solution of 1 part Chlorine bleach (Clorox) and 10 parts water, wipe down the interior and exterior of the tank. Use the 1:10 bleach solution for cleaning out the tubing and all parts exposed to water - soak parts in bleach solution right in the tank.  (Clean tubes using long brushes you can buy at any pet shop- we can reimburse for costs if needed).  CAUTION- DO NOT USE VINEGAR AND BLEACH TOGETHER - THIS CAN BE TOXIC!
  5. Wipe dry with clean cloth, or let air-dry.
  6. If you have any pebbles or gravel in the tank, they should be removed, washed, and dried by laying out on a cloth or towel in the sun or a ventilated area. They can also be sterilized with the Clorox solution, but they also MUST be completely dried.
Aquarium Chiller
  1. Rinse pre-filter sponge on pump thoroughly with water, and let air-dry.
  2. Tip chiller and drain. Using pump or faucet hose, flush chiller with clean tap water to ensure any dirt is washed out of the cooling tank.
  3. Remove dust and lint from all vents on the chiller, with cloth or soft bristle brush.
  1. Disconnect tubing from filter canister by releasing the AquaStop Valve.  Rinse/clean tubing as appropriate.
  2. Remove the top section of the filter canister (as demonstrated), pour out the water and remove contents (best to do this in a sink or tub- they will be a bit gunky)
  3. Thoroughly rinse out all filter cartridges (filter sponges, charcoal, etc.) with regular water, and dry them in the sun or a well ventilated area. For most filters, it is suggested that you buy new filter cartridges for the following year. You can also use this year’s filters that you rinsed out.
  4. Rinse and wipe out the plastic parts with vinegar OR your 1:10 bleach solution.  Thoroughly air-dry entire filter apparatus.
Air pump, thermometers and other materials:  Disassemble and clean as with other parts, store in boxes and/or in the aquarium.

Storage:  We will retrieve and store materials as needed- however, if you expect to continue with the program in coming year, it is easiest to keep it on site at your school. No particular storage requirements, but try and keep your set-up in a safe, dry location.  DON'T Forget to complete your end of the year survey!!

4. Materials Data Safety Sheets (MSDS's) for each of  the aquarium additives used in this program can be found and downloaded from the website of Aquarium Pharmaceutical Products (API).  The chemicals selected for this program have been evaluated in terms of classroom safety, and are found to pose no sigificant health threat, when stored and used properly.  Specific PDF downloads can be found as follows: