The basic necessities of aquarium keeping shouldn’t break the bank. Water conditioners, filter media, fish food, and maintenance tools should not only be quality products, but affordable too. That is why we are doing our part by making aquarium keeping more affordable for you!
Big Al’s products are the necessities; we reached out to our vendors and worked closely with them to bring you the absolute best value possible while putting a quality product in your hands. We know what your aquarium needs, and what it doesn’t, which is why we have trimmed off the unnecessary excess to keep the cost low, and put those savings in your pocket.
With Big Al’s you can:
• Make your tap water safe and biologically rich
• Keep your fish’s bellies full
• Keep your plants looking lush
• Keep your filter running in tip-top shape
• And keep your aquarium looking its best
• Using quality products you can trust, at a price that will keep you smiling.
Our water treatment system will make your tap water safe by neutralizing harmful chlorine, chloromines, and heavy metals, while giving your fish a comfy coat of aloe for protection. It will also breathe life into your water by boosting the beneficial bacteria responsible for the breakdown of fish wastes, as well as safely digest detritus to keep your aquarium and filter clean.
Our filter media is basic, but effective. Water polishing filter media needs to be replaced often, and is responsible for keeping your water looking crystal clear. We know that means you’re going to need to change it frequently, so our plush sheets of cut-to-fit filter floss are sold in bulk sizes so you can keep that filter flowing full force instead of trying to stretch extra time your of your clogged filter pads. We also have foam inserts in various sizes to take care of the larger waste particles and prevent the floss from becoming clogged too quickly.
We also have the basic tools you need for aquarium maintenance, built strong to last a lifetime out of aquarium safe materials. Tackle water changes and clean your gravel simultaneously using our Gravel Cleaner, and refill that aquarium using a 100% fish safe bucket! You’ll also want to give the glass a quick scrub, so we have you covered with our durable tank scrubber sponges.
Your fish need full bellies, and with a great diet, your fish will thrive. The basis of every balanced diet for your fish is a hearty staple food, and our flake food is formulated to satisfy the nutritional necessities of a wide variety of tropical fish. Big Al’s Staple Flake food is packaged in a re-sealable ‘zip’ bag to lock in freshness and save your wallet from pricey containers, and comes in a bulk 8oz package to stretch that dollar even further. You might have plants in your aquarium, we didn’t want to leave them out, so we have a fantastic plant food supplement to ensure they grow tall, strong, and lush to keep those beautiful fish of yours feeling right at home!
Sure, our products might not have a bunch of bells and whistles, but that is exactly how we bring quality and value together without any fishy business! Or wait, fish is our business… Well, you know what I mean!
Marineland Magnum Review
The ever-popular Magnum canister filter from
Marineland has been completely reinvented, making it not only a fantastic
internal filter option, but also one of the most versatile maintenance tools
for your aquarium.
So let’s talk about the new design…
To prevent the frustration of priming, worry of leaks, and the complicated
setup of an external canister, Marineland has taken the Magnum in a new
direction and made it a simple drop-in internal filter. Essentially they have
taken their Maxi-Jet powerhead and created a filter attachment that can hold
various types of chemical media such as carbon and biological media like
ceramic rings, along with a filter sleeve cover for mechanical filtration. It
is also capable of holding their classic pleated micron cartridge for water
polishing which is also included for you in the box. This means that you can
configure the Magnum to polish your water at the drop of a hat!
So why is this filter a must-have maintenance tool? With the new Magnum in your arsenal, you can add customized filtration to your aquarium to target specific issues on the fly. Having algae issues? You can quickly add some phosphate control media to the Magnum and drop it in. Is your water is yellowing? Fill the Magnum with carbon and drop it in. Hosting a dinner party but have a lot of particles in your water? Just add the micron cartridge to the Magnum and drop it in. Essentially, you have a water polisher and chemical reactor on hand to tackle issues as they come up, instead of having to tear apart your primary filter to try and swap or change media!
We always advocate having a spare filter on hand in case your main filter has a
failure and is inoperable, so you aren’t stuck without vital filtration on your
aquarium. The Marineland Magnum also makes for a sturdy backup filter. Being
rated for aquariums up to 97 gallons with a whopping 290 gallons per hour of
circulation, you have a lot of filter power in a small package that can be
easily dropped into your aquarium during a crisis. Move some of your
established biological media from your busted filter into the Magnum, and you
can easily avoid a tank crash while you repair or replace your primary filter.
Long story short, the redesigned Marineland Magnum can now fill multiple roles in our aquariums, making it incredibly versatile, and a new necessity for all of us aquarium obsessed!
Ball Pythons (Python regius) are medium-sized constrictor snakes (total length of 24””-40” for males and 36”-60” for females), native to partly forested areas in central Africa. Ball Pythons are crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk) and semi-arboreal (meaning they like to climb trees). This snake gets its name from the unique defensive behavior of rolling into a tight ball with their head hidden in the middle. They don’t require a lot of space and make a good choice for someone looking for their first snake as a pet. Selective breeding has produced many different color morphs of this species, and the available colors available have turned many Ball Python owners into die-hard collectors who end up with a several snakes. A well-kept Ball python can live for 20 to 35 years.
Housing & Care Considerations:
Enclosure: The best home for a Ball python is a screen-topped glass aquarium with a very secure lid. Baby Ball pythons need a tank that measures at least 20”x10”x12”; an adult requires a tank of at least 30”x12”x18”. They need a warm environment decorated with reptile-safe bark, aspen shavings or reptile-carpet as a substrate. Cedar shavings should not be used as they are toxic to. A few hiding places made from rocks or pieces of tree bark should be included or the snake will become stressed. It is important to locate hiding spots in both the warmer and cooler sides of the enclosure to help the snake thermoregulate. A vertical branch or accessible rock ledge should be included for basking.
Temperature: Ball pythons are temperate to tropical animals that need warm temperatures in the range of 80º-85ºF (27º-29ºC) during the day and 75º-80ºF (24º-27ºC) at night. These temperatures can be maintained using an under-tank heater or ceramic heat-emitter in combination with a basking spot lamp and/or a red nighttime spot lamp. Place the lamp on one side of the tank to create a “warm side” and a “cool side” in the environment. A thermometer should be included on each side of the tank to monitor temperatures. Heat-rocks are not recommended as Ball pythons can burn themselves on these devices. Humidity can be maintained by misting the enclosure lightly once a week.
Lighting: Like all reptiles, Ball pythons benefit from fluorescent lighting with an emphasis on UVB wavelengths of light in order to make use of certain vitamins and minerals in their diet. Since they are crepuscular they can be given as little as 4 hours of fluorescent light per day however. A basking lamp is needed for 10-12 hours per day, with an appropriate basking spot located 12-18” beneath the lamp. Locate the basking lamp on one side of the tank to create a temperature gradient and to leave some of the enclosure dimly lit during the day. Place lighting on a screen top as opposed to glass or plastic, both of which block the beneficial UVB wavelengths of light. Screen tops also allow excess heat to escape the enclosure and allow for better air-circulation.
Diet: Ball Pythons should be offered prey items once per week, although it is normal for younger ones to eat more frequently than adults. Offer only killed rodents (much safer than live rodents which may attack the snake) that are no wider than the widest point of the body of the snake. For very young Ball Pythons start with “fuzzy” mice that are about 5-10 days old. Offer progressively larger mice as the snake grows. Adults can eat “fuzzy” rats or even half-grown rats. Do not handle your snake for at least a day after feeding, as this can lead to regurgitation. Ball pythons are well-known for going on hunger strikes at certain times throughout the year, particularly in the winter months. Be prepared for the possibility of your snake going off feed, and keep an observant eye on the snake's overall condition and body weight. This is typically nothing to worry about with healthy, well established pythons. If your snake is healthy continue your husbandry routine as usual, yet reduce the amount of handling the snake receives to a minimum. Offer your ball python food every 10-14 days until interested in eating again, as the snake will eventually "turn back on" and resume feeding normally.
Water should be provided in a shallow bowl that is still deep enough to cover the back of the snake and is large enough for the snake to curl up in. Be sure that the snake can easily climb in and out of the water bowl. Clean water is essential, and water bowls should be cleaned daily when fresh water is provided.
Maintenance: Any waste product or spoiled food items should be removed as they appear. The inside surfaces of the enclosure and the decorations should be cleaned once weekly using a reptile-safe cleaning product like Wipe-out 2 or Wipe-out 3 by Zoo-Med. Be sure to remove traces of cleaner by wiping thoroughly after cleaning and allowing the enclosure to dry. Food and water bowls especially need to be kept clean and should be washed thoroughly when fresh food and water is given. Replacing the substrate every 2-4 weeks is recommended for good health and to reduce odor.
Handling: Ball pythons are fairly easy snakes to handle, with some seeming to be completely unbothered by being picked up. It is unusual for a Ball python to bite once it has become acquainted with its handler, but do not allow children to handle snakes without supervision in order to keep the animal safe. It is important to wash your hands before handling a snake as trace odors from prey items or other snakes may encourage it to bite. Ball python bites can be painful and may leave small wounds. Snake bites should be disinfected immediately and wounds should be covered while handling the snake or anything from its enclosure. The best method for handling is to pick up the snake by the middle of the body and then immediately supporting the front with the other hand by holding it from underneath, just behind the head. Ball Pythons will often wrap themselves around your arm and rarely do they try to move away. Use slow movements when approaching to prevent a nervous reaction. Always remember to wash hands after handling any reptiles as there is a very slim threat of contracting Salmonella bacteria from them.
The goldfish often is considered the most typical fish to get for an aquarium, especially for beginners. A little, round fish bowl with a solid orange goldfish swimming in it has even become quite an iconic image. The truth is, though, that goldfish can deviate far from that standard. In fact, many of the fancy types look so weird you might not even recognize they’re part of the goldfish family. The reason for their unusual appearance is breeding.
The Results of Breeding
Thanks to breeding, you can find all sorts of weird-looking and beautiful goldfish varieties. It has been estimated that breeding has produced over 125 different types of goldfish. These are a few of the characteristics that have been changed through breeding to create such a wide diversity.
- Eyes. Some eyeballs bulge, whereas others face upward. The bubble-eye goldfish has delicate sacs of fluid that look like bubbles beneath its eyes.
- Color. Gone are the days of just orange goldfish. They can also be yellow, red, white, black, blue, purple, calico, and mixed.
- Shape. They can have slim bodies or egg-shaped ones.
- Appendages. Other unique traits include interesting head growths and flowy fins.
A Note of Caution
If you’re considering getting one of these fancy goldfish types to add to your aquarium, keep in mind that most are fragile and require expert care. The features that make them so unique also make them extremely vulnerable to their surroundings. Many of the accessories in your Big Al’s tank could pose a danger to these fish.
If you’re a beginner fish owner, it’s best to start out with the common variety or other hardy kinds such as the comet, shubunkin, and fantail. As with any type of fish, it’s smart to do your research before making a purchase to ensure you have the proper habitat, products, and knowledge to care for it and that it will get along with any other fish you may have in the same tank.
Bettas are naturally found in the warm Asian waters of countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia. A common misconception is that they are happy and healthy in small spaces with little need for attention to the water quality. This is not the case. In fact, bettas need plenty of space in which to swim and water conditions that meet specific criteria.
While bettas can sometimes survive with temperatures as low as 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the most suitable temperature for the water is between 75 and 82 degrees. If the room in which the tank is housed is kept in this range, you can forego a water heater, but if the room is any cooler, this is a necessary investment.
Test the water parameters regularly with a kit to ensure the compounds and overall conditions of your water are conducive to healthy, thriving fish. In addition to temperature, parameters that need testing include:
- Ammonia levels
- pH balance
- General hardness
- Carbonate hardness
Water samples from your tank can also be taken into a store to be tested.
Cleaning the Tank
Dirty water results in health issues for bettas and is detrimental to their fins. When feces and decomposing food are left in the tank, ammonia levels can quickly rise, creating toxic conditions that result in damaged gills and a weakened immune system. Nitrate levels can also increase, poisoning the tank’s inhabitants. It is imperative to maintain an unpolluted environment, cleaning a three gallon tank each week and smaller tanks more often. If you opt for a water filter, you can double the span between cleanings. Do keep in mind that filters with too strong of a suction can result in fin injuries. Be sure that the water parameters are met after each cleaning.
A tank’s water condition is integral for the overall well-being of this tropical fish. Create an environment that mimics the natural habitat to provide a healthy and happy life for your betta.
If your Betta comes in a small container, look for a cluster of bubbles around the rim. You may even find one in the corner of your home aquarium. This bubble nest is used for mating and storing eggs.
The Male Guardian
The male is responsible for protecting the eggs. First, he builds a nest by blowing small bubbles on surface. In the wild, this often happens under floating debris. He will then mate with a female underneath the cluster and collect the eggs as soon as they’re released. At this point, the female’s job is done. It’s the male who will closely guard the nest, making sure to retrieve any eggs that drop from the cluster. The nest also serves as a shelter after the eggs hatch. Young fry will remain close until they are large enough to venture out.
What to Do With a Bubble Nest in Your Tank
Nesting can be a sign that your Betta is healthy, but don’t stress if you never find a cluster. Some species blow bubbles more often than others. You might see it daily or only once a year. The type of setup you run is also a factor. If there’s a lot of circulation or surface movement, you probably won’t see any nests.
In general, proper maintenance will limit your Betta's ability to nest. You should never stop performing water changes or running your filter. If you do want to take a stab at breeding, consider a separate tank or a few surface plants. You can even scoop out the nest out with a spoon or small cup and replace it once you’ve finished a water change.
Stick to Your Routine
Bubble nests are fun to watch, but they are not necessary for keeping bettas. Unless you’re a breeder, stick to your regular maintenance routine and enjoy the excitement if and when it happens.
As summer draws to a close, pond feature enthusiasts need to start thinking about properly closing this environment for the fall and winter. Taking the time to learn about seasonal pond cleaning will help ensure that your pond environment stays in good condition during its off months. The pond team at Big Al’s Pets has prepared this simple checklist to help you get ready for this important process.
Keep Track of Water Temperature to Time Fish Care
As you probably know, water temperature is likely to be your first indication that seasonal shifts are impacting your pond environment. A good thermometer should be considered an essential piece of pond care equipment. If you do not have a thermometer, we stock several that will suit your needs.
Begin to watch the temperature readings on your pond thermometer starting in early fall. September is usually the month when pond keepers see their water getting cool, though some parts of the
If you have fish in your pond, the water temperature will tell you when to switch them to a cold-weather diet. Preparing them for this seasonal shift is important; they will stay healthier with the help of the right food given at the right time.
Clean Before the Weather Gets Too Cold
Before water temperatures dip below 50 degrees F you will need to clean the pond. Cleaning requires a few special tools, including:
- A fine mesh net for scooping floating debris
- A hose and nozzle to spray off stuck debris from shelves
- A pond vacuum to remove quantities of material
- Water conditioning products to counter chlorine and other contaminants from water added back to the pond after cleaning
- A pond net to protect the surface from falling leaves and other blowing debris
Start by scooping out leaves, twigs, and other similar debris with the mesh net. If leaves have become stuck to shallow periphery areas of the pond, remove some of the water to expose these shelves. Pond vacuums and nets can be used to collect this debris, though stuck material may need to be sprayed off with the help of a hose. Water conditioning products should be used once fresh water has been added to the pond after the cleaning is complete.
Pond nets should be suspended around 18 inches above the surface of the water. This will prevent blowing debris like leaves from accumulating too quickly. If you do not have trees surrounding your pond this might not be a necessary step, but if your property accumulates many blowing leaves in the fall this can be a valuable addition to your pond.
Taking Care of Plants and Fish
Aquatic plants are affected by changing temperatures and other aspects of seasonal climate; the growth cycle of these plants is likely complete by early fall; gently prune any dying parts. Certain plants, especially tropical varieties, will need to be removed from the pond altogether. Place these in water containers and bring them inside until it is time to set up the pond again in spring.
Several fish species can be safely kept in their pond environment throughout the winter, although a little research might be required to learn how ponds will be affected by weather local to you. In many places in the
Taking care of plants, fish, and the pond environment is just the first part of closing your pond for the winter. Remember that the pump system and other equipment will also need cleaned and stored before the weather gets too cold.
Opening your pond for the first time in spring or summer is an exciting occasion for any water feature enthusiast. Not only is this the best time to introduce new additions to the pond environment, you get to take a close look at how things have changed since it was closed.
At Big Al’s Pets we have helped all kinds of pond environment keepers prepare their spaces for the first time – or just for the first time this season. We have a little bit of everything required to keep your pond and its animal inhabitants happy and healthy.
Step One: Address Structural Concerns
Take some time to examine the pond feature and its immediate surroundings for damage. Winter weather conditions can cause a surprising amount of damage even to relatively durable elements such as rocks and paving cobbles. Repair or replace any damaged item. This will ensure that the environment is safe for plants, animals, insects, birds, and people.
Step Two: Clean the Pond Environment
Even if your pond and its immediate surroundings have simply been under snow all winter, a lot of cleaning will need done before any new features can be added. A thorough cleaning will remove any dirt, bits of trash, natural debris, and other material that can potentially harm the water feature.
Cleaning is also important because it discourages activity by pest species that might damage the pond in its sensitive early stages of life.
Pond vacuums are very helpful when cleaning the environment after winter inactivity. Small ponds can be manually cleaned without much difficulty. Some pond owners like to use natural enzyme and bacteria products to assist with cleaning.
Step Three: Start the Pump
Select a time when you will be home for several hours so you can keep an eye on the pump during its initial period of operation. A little time is required to ensure that the water is being moved when it needs to be. This is the best time to detect any problems, so it is worth setting aside an afternoon to run the water pump for the first time.
Step Four: Start the Filter
You should be sure to clean the filter medium if the system has not been used in a while. Once this is done, you can boost the health of your bacteria colonies. In fact, this should be done even if the pump has been used all winter. There are several good products available that can be used to enrich your helper bacteria.
We stock items such as:
Biological cleaning agents help prevent the growth of harmful or excessive entities. The right additives will help maintain an optimal balance of microbes to ensure a healthy pond environment. Some pond owners like the convenience of automatic dosing systems. This can be a good solution for periods of time when you have to be away from home. Dosing your pond environment with the right biological additives is an important part of maintaining its health throughout the year.
Step Five: Begin Testing the Water
Once the water system has been repaired and cleaned, and the pond facility prepped for the season, it is time to begin testing the nature of the water. Use your preferred water testing kit to monitor levels of nitrate and ammonia. Your tests should indicate zero nitrate and ammonia. If the test displays an amount of either of these substances, perform a partial water change and redo the test. Repeat these steps until ammonia and nitrate are both absent.
Adding Fish and Plants
Once your water system is operating optimally, you can begin thinking about the fish and plants that will be added to the environment. Conditioning animals and plants to the environment takes a little additional time, so be sure to anticipate this when determining your spring pond opening timeline.
Home may not feel like a home without pets, but sharing your living space with furry friends does have one big drawback: pet hair, and lots of it. All pets require grooming, regardless of whether they have short hair or long hair, curly hair or straight. Using the innovative grooming products from FURminator can lead to a healthy, happy pet and a nice clean house for you.
Pet Shampoo and Grooming Brushes
While giving your pet a bath may be a big production, shampooing your fur baby can help reduce pet dander and allergens while also removing excess fur. The right pet shampoo can also help soothe your pet’s skin without drying it out, and leave their coat clean and silky smooth.
Pet brushes and combs can be used to help remove tangles, debris, and matted fur gently and safely, and FURminator brushes are compatible with pet shampoo and conditioner, so that bath time can serve double-duty for cleaning and deshedding.
DeShedding edges look like a pet comb, but they are designed specifically to help remove excess pet hair. These tools are also breed-specific, so the equipment you use should match your pet’s breed and coat type. These tools are created to gently remove loose hair without irritating or injuring your pet’s delicate skin, and they can be used on shorthaired or double-coated animals.
Pet Safety First
When using grooming tools on your pet, make sure to put safety first. Use the tools properly and be gentle when brushing. Keep in mind delicate spots on your pet, and work slowly and patiently. Brushing over the spine can be painful, so make sure to pull the skin to one side of the spine and then brush it to prevent any injuries or tears to the tender skin. When using deshedding tools, combs, and brushes, make sure to work with the fur, not against it, to produce the best and most painless results.
Using the right equipment, such as deshedding tools, combs, brushes, and shampoos, can help reduce all that pet hair so you can spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your four-legged companion.
Raising chickens in your own backyard is a tempting fantasy for many people. Not only are the eggs convenient, fresh and delicious, but they also elevate your baked goods to a whole new level of perfection. The birds themselves are easy to care for and require very little entertainment. So what’s stopping you? Turn your small farm daydream into reality by following this simple guide from Big Al’s Pets. We can help you create a chicken haven right in your own backyard.
Getting Started With the Right Materials
Before you even start looking into chickens, you’ll want to gather the right materials. Your chickens need a place to call home, and it needs to be large enough for you to enter and shovel manure. They will also want a smaller, cozier place to nest. Create a list of everything you need and check out Big Al’s Pets. We carry beginner packages, and many other products to help you get started.
Your list may look something like this:
The coop needs to be large enough to hold feeders, water containers and a nesting box. It also needs to be secure to protect your chickens from outside predators.
The nesting box should be large enough for at least three hens to nest at a time. Fill it with an outdoor nesting material that is comfortable and can withstand weather changes.
Chickens can easily eat table scrap food, but it’s nice to give them a wholesome diet of chicken crumble food. Big Al’s has a good selection to check out.
Consider a large 5-gallon water tank that allows the chickens to drink as much as they need.
Know Your Commitment
Before you turn your backyard into a mini egg farm, make sure you fully understand the investment of time. Chickens are real pets that require care and nurturing, just like all living things. Talk to the experts at Big Al’s Pets or ask some friends who own chickens. It will give you a good idea of what you’re getting into.