How to know if your filter is broken – Johns Service

Is your aquarium filter busted or in need of repair? I repair filters in under one hour at your home or place of work. I’ve repaired over 500 filters since I retired 5 years ago!

I have this nifty infographic to help you figure out if you need to repair your filter:

Thanks for reading.

Check out some of my other articles and blogs:

COVID Update

I’m still heavily limiting my aquarium in-home services during this time and I make sure to wear a mask and fresh gloves when inside your home.

I’ll be blogging soon on how to look after your cannister filter, once I’ve done the set up in your house. I’ll put the link in here.

Don’t forget to check out John’s services!

I am currently operating in south east england and many people are enjoying fish keeping as a hobby during covid. I usually just get business by word of mouth but I will write more about my service on here in more detail in the future.

I’ll set up social media soon – the bane of my kids’ existence.

Stay healthy,


Monterey Bay Aquarium Visit

Since coronavirus has pretty much (unnecessarily) shut down the economy and the world. Indeed, we do live in the most stupid era of humanity without a doubt, but I wanted to take the time to blog about a great trip to Monterey bay back in 2013.

We drove from San francisco to Monterey on the Californian coast.

Wow I can’t believe that was 7 years ago now. It’s a shame I haven’t been able to see any more aquariums lately. I remember that monterey bay aquarium had an amazing jelly fish enclosure.

They also had a top otter and ray pit as well.

Monterey Bay aquarium is genuinely one of the best aquariums out there. They have a wide variety of saltwater and freshwater tanks too. It’s always great to see how the pro marine biologists do it.

Pebble beach near Monterey bay: 

Thanks to Monterey Bay Aquarium for a great visit.

How to make a fish tank look amazing

How to make a fish tank look amazing!

There are a couple of great ways to enhance the appearance of your fish tank, for example one can use rockeries set ups, or they can even use plant based set ups.

Both are common and I like to use both for my clients. I don’t do reef tanks, because I don’t have the equipment. I’d love to get into it but right now my back can’t take moving those damn heavy corals.

I try to build a V shape tank. Basically lots of wood and plants build layers leading down to a beautiful moss bed.

1. Use LED lights:

These things are tiny little things but very powerful, I don’t really use the tubing any more if i’m doing a client tank.  I like to use LED lights to bring out the best in the fish.

Boy have things changed since my first tank! The bill is a lot lower too which makes my wife happier. Who’d have thought these things are cheaper to run and more powerful.

My grandkids are using phones the size of my fingers though so it’s no wonder that things have come on a bit.

2. Use my aqua-scaping service:

I’m really proud of what I do and there have been some wonderful clients kind enough to share photos of the work online. I don’t have any to hand but I’m still figuring this thing out.

Using a service to build your tank has a lot of advantages:

  • It’s a pain
  • I do it for you
  • You don’t end up with all your fish and plants dying
  • I test water quality!
  • I have beautiful results.

Tropica is website I used to find some great aquascaping inspiration here.

3. Have great fish

Although I breed guppies because that’s all the local kids want, in fact they usually end up sending me back a bloody 100 of them after they get tired keeping fish.

But the best thing to have a beautiful tank is combine a lot of community fish together and then the end result with aquascaping and a nice blue LED is amazing.

4. Put up a cabinet. 

Stop being tight and just fork out a decent hard wood cabinet to put a tank in.

Sadly i don’t offer this but there’s been a lot of demand lately for me to make custom cabinets so i might add that to my shop soon.

I think one of the reasons people can’t keep fish tanks in the long term is that they don’t like where it’s put. Make it part of the furniture and you will not regret the outcome.

People always comment on my living room tank! I’ll make another blog about it soon.


John M.




How to choose good aquarium LEDs – John’s guide

Aquarium LED lighting is a hot topic right now. I’ve used LEDs in all my projects now and i offer it as part of my fish tank set up service.

A lot of people are using led lighting simply to enhance the color of the tank for a better visual display. However, others are starting to understand that high quality aquarium lighting has an effect on the growth of plants, the health of fish, and the strength of corals. This is really important. Choosing lighting for your own reasons is a personal choice, there’s no ideal option for your to use.

When you’re thinking about choosing the best led aquarium light. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best led aquarium light for plants, let’s take a look at some of those important deciding factors that might affect your decision.


What advantages of aquarium led lighting are there?

One factor that many overlook about this type of lighting is the fact that the led aquarium lighting (read more about it on wikipedia) is more cheaper to run that regular fluorescent tubing. Using less power of a 24 hour basis is better for the planet and for your wallet.

The other, more traditional aquarium lighting can become really expensive to run throughout the day, because of the amount of power that these lighting is using. This is why it’s recommended that you consider buying the best led aquarium lighting and not the tradional lighting that you still get in many fish tanks.

Using a top LED makes your tank plants grow to their best and that makes your filter cleaner too!

Good preparation

When selecting the ideal lighting for your aquarium, you need to known the main reasons for what you want from it. The best fish tank lighting will fit all your needs.

Are you using it to grow live rock, or to simulate more natural light for your fish? Perhaps you are using the led to help grow coral. Do research into the best led lights for aquariums and you’ll be able to select the best one for your needs.

Not all led lights are created equal so don’t spend money until your know what your needs are. The size of your aquarium also presents a practical issue too. High concentrations of coral might require extra lights, or even coral might require just one large light across the whole tank.

LED color 

Led lighting now has multiple options for colors. They even simulate natural light cycles. A lot of people prefer colored lights, but some people like just have a white spectrum light.

Personally, I prefer a blue LED light, as this gives the tank a natural ocean colour. But if you have a tropical tank, maybe a green of white from bring out the best in that environment.

I advise that you go with the best led aquarium lighting that can recreate the most natural effect, both for plants fish and coral.

Please check out my fish tank setup service on my shop.

How many lights should you have

The best led aquarium lights are ones that cover the whole of the aquarium. But now you can have spot light leds that concentrate alight in one area of the tank. Some choices are more common than others. It really is a choice of personal taste.  For me the best results is with layered LED lights, one at the back and one at the front. This way you can control depth.

Of course, if you have a smaller tank then you can do fine with just one light, a bigger tank is going to need more or bigger lights to have the same effect on the aquarium or tank aura.

Avoid cheap branded LED lights

Good LED lights are expensive. Cheap LED lights are all around and are being mass produced for the aquarium market, don’t always buy the cheapest, you’re likely to have a short lifespan and lights that aren’t waterproof or designed for fish tanks. Think of the lights as an investment, after all they save you money in the long run. If you have to keep replacing your lights every year then there is no point in having LED lights in the first place.

I never use cheap LEDs in my personal tank set up service. Only the best! But I still make it affordable for my clients.

The best led aquarium lights for your aquarium is a debate that isn’t settled. There’s no correct answer and each specialist will have his or her own opinion. Keep in mind the above as you make your decision for the best led aquarium light.

Please visit my blog for more information as I keep up my blogging activities.

Source: Thanks to Authority Aquarium for their advice. They are run by genuine Marine biologists and I use them a lot. 

Thanks, John M.

How often should you clean a cannister filter?

Even when you have a top cannister filter, it will require regular cleaning. These are essential actions to ensuring longevity of the filter and the fish. You need to know how and when to clean the filter though!

Cleaning your canister filter:

This youtube tutorial is a great start for your cleaning:

Filters should be cleaned out about every 2 – 3 months and a water change should be done every month. I prefer to clean them both out at the same time as it makes it a lot easier. Some people don’t clean the whole filter out at once though.

Important note on cleaning and the nitrogen cycle:

The filter works because of something called the nitrogen cycle, and that uses good bacteria inside the filter to turn waste products into nitrogen, release as gas through the surface of the water. So when you clean your filter out, you must make sure that you use treated water and not water from the tap!

The mechanical canister filter cleaning

You should focus on cleaning only the sponge pad or the fine filter pads. We call that the mechanical filtration. Remember again to only use the water from the tank or treated water to clean it. Most canister filters follow the same format of a 3 stage filtration process like so:


These mechanical filters and simply crude filters designed to pick out particles of dirt from the water, they can harvest a lot of bacteria, but that gets washed away when you clean them. That’s why the biological filters are so important. These very rarely need replacing because they are just a sponge basically.

Also note the biological filtration methods. This keeps good bacteria in the filter to clean and aid the nitrogen cycle.

Chemical cleaners

Chemical filters are filters like carbon filters. They are not intended to clean out bits of dirt from the tank, but improve odor of water color and stuff like that. It cleans a lot better than mechanical filters in this respect. You should change this type on a regular basis to keep fish happy.

A dirty carbon filter can leach out chemicals back out into the tank. 

The best way to know when to replace this filter is when the water begins to get a little cloud or a brown color. This means the carbon filter isn’t working anymore and you will need to replace it quickly. It is better to remove it than to wait until you have a new one as leaving it in the filter will mean that the dirt goes back into the water again and it could look worse than before the carbon filter was put in.