Dogs, Cats, Parrots and Aquariums!

You Found a Stray, Now What?

Readers have come to The Pet Shop wondering what to do with a stray animal they've found.

As a volunteer/employee with the SPCA of the Triad, I would like to offer some suggestions on what you can do if you find a lost/abandoned animal. I've helped people find homes for animals, so this advice is based on what I've done at the SPCA. And this only concerns dogs and cats. For animals such as birds, horses or other wild animals, you should contact your county's animal control for advice.

First, you need to decide what you personally want to see happen to this animal.

If you want to keep it, there are some things I would recommend. Nowadays, when an animal is spayed/neutered, the vet will place a microchip in the pet. Most rescue groups do this to all of their animals. County humane societies and most vets will scan the animal for free, and get the microchip number for you. If the animal has a microchip, you can contact the company, and they will contact the owner. If there is no microchip, ask around the area and see if anyone recognizes the animal.

If you want to get rid of the animal as soon as possible, there are some options. Each county in the Triad has an animal shelter, which will not turn the animal away. At a shelter, there is a chance it will be euthanized. Rescue groups don’t euthanize animals, but many are overcrowded and may not be able to help.

If you are unable to keep the animal permanently, but are willing to keep it for a period of time, there are a number of options. Most rescue groups are willing to work with you to find the animal a new home. The SPCA and NCPAL, for example, have foster programs, which means you would keep the animal at your house, but it would be adopted through their program. You would get the group's help to find it a good home, but you would keep the animal until then. There are a number of rescue groups in the area (a few are listed on The Pet Shop's main page and more can be found online). Each group will be able to help you according to their policies. If you want to find the animal a home yourself, you can post fliers and other ads letting people know you have the animal. I would highly recommend you ask for an adoption fee. Anyone who is willing to pay for an animal usually has good intentions. People looking for free animals may not be the best home.

Lastly, if the animal is injured, please call your county animal control. They can take the animal to a vet and get it the proper medical help. They would work with you to find the animal a home if you want.

Again, these tips are just that, tips. You can do what you see fit, but often it just takes a phone call to help the animal.

Pet Groomer's
Mobile Service Thrives
by Georgann Yara - Special for The Republic

Many people would love the convenience of a spa on wheels. But Sandra Guerguy's Tempe-based business only serves the four-legged variety of clients.

Le Paw Spa is a mobile pet-grooming service that pampers nearly 200 dogs and cats in the East Valley.

A basic service starts at $55, which includes a bath, trim and style, cleaning and deodorizing of ears, anal gland expulsion and nail trim. Costs can increase depending on the style desired, the breed, the last time the pet was groomed and the temperament of the animal.

She averages five or six appointments a day, but it's not unusual for her to serve as many as 10 clients in a day.

Her 2010 schedule is almost set - 90 percent of her appointments for next year are booked.

"I could work 24/7 if I wanted to. I'm blessed that way. It keeps me more than busy," she said of her 4-year-old business. "I start at 7 in the morning, but I've done 12- and 15-hour days. I've gotten faster over the years."

Guerguy operates out of a spacious self-contained custom van that features separate grooming and bath areas.

Guerguy pulls up to clients' homes, where the service can be done in the driveway or on the street. She also makes calls to office buildings and has even groomed a pet outside of a salon, while its owner got her hair styled inside.

Guerguy keeps her mobile office spotless and gets it detailed every three months.

In addition to grooming and trimming services, Guerguy also offers specialty services such as teeth cleaning and de-matting. After a bath, clients finish off with a warm air-fluff dry. The venue allows Guerguy to provide a more individualized service than the typical pet salon.

"The thing with salons, they have to put the pets in cages and the wait can be long," she said. "But the pros of being mobile is that they are not put in cages, there's no wait and you're by yourself. There are no distractions."

The spa's name pays homage to Guerguy's French Canadian roots. She spent her early childhood in Canada and France before moving to the United States at age 8.

Utilizing a master's degree in French language and literature from Syracuse University, Guerguy taught French at the high-school and college levels. She also received her certification in Spanish.

But she had dreamed of being a veterinarian and after teaching for 15 years, yearned for a change.

"I always loved animals. So I thought, what could I do that makes money and feeds my love of animals, where I don't have to go back to school and start at ground zero?" Guerguy said.

She earned her certification in pet grooming and was mentored by a friend, who was also a pet groomer. When her friend retired, Guerguy inherited some of her clients and did a direct-mail campaign.

Soon, word-of-mouth boosted Guerguy's client list.

Guerguy's willingness to groom cats, which can transmit more dangerous bacteria through bites and scratches, is another bonus because some groomers refuse to handle them, she said.

"I have a gentle approach," she said. "But sometimes I end up taking a bath with them."

With an easy-going demeanor and genuine affection for animals, Guerguy usually does not have a problem with pets.

Although at first, many react like many humans do when they walk into a dentist's office.

"Sometimes clients quake when they see me," she said. "But I give them treats and redeem myself."

Sometimes owners decide to tranquilize their pets to make the process easier.

Rarely does Guerguy need to muzzle a dog, but it has happened. Once she needed several stitches to patch up a bite.

But most of her stories reflect the loving nature of her clients.

For example, she talked about the time she gave a huge orange tabby a "lion cut," a style where a cat's body is closely shaved, but the head, feet and tail are left furry. Suddenly, the tabby lifted up one of his hind legs, as if to help her out.

Afterward, he proudly strutted in front of his owners and their children, who kept telling him how "handsome" he looked.

"It was the cutest thing," Guerguy said. "To me, it's not about getting paid for something I really like doing. I feel a sense of accomplishment."

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Dog Survives 65ft Plunge
into Sea

A major rescue operation was launched to save the dog

A dog survived unscathed after plunging 65ft off cliffs into the sea during a walk with his new owners.

Andy and Joanna Finlay had just picked up the German Shepherd and stopped at Portlethen in Aberdeenshire on their way home to Kirriemuir in Angus.

But five-year-old Twinnie backed over the cliffs, and landed in the sea, narrowly missing rocks.

Coastguards and a police dog handler were called in and rescued him from the shoreline.

The couple had picked the dog up from Huntly, and gone for a walk at Portlethen on Sunday evening.

Mr Finlay, 39, told the BBC Scotland news website: "We were getting back in the car and the dog took off. We were searching for around half an hour.

He was absolutely terrified but otherwise fine. He seems very happy now

"Then we found him and were trying to get him, but he backed off and fell.

"Luckily he seemed to go straight into the water rather than hitting rocks."

He explained: "Coastguards and the police were called, they saw the glint of his eyes with a torch and found him lying half in and half out of the water.

"He was absolutely terrified but otherwise fine. He seems very happy now.

"The rescuers did a sterling job."

Aberdeen Coastguard said that Stonehaven and Portlethen teams were called out, along with a Grampian Police dog handler.

Adding Another Cat
to the Mix
By Natalia Macrynikola, Studio One Networks

Some people feel lonely around the holidays, but for shelter cats, that feeling can persist long after you’ve put away the decorations.

“A shelter environment is very stressful for cats, no matter how nice we make it,” says Jenn Smith, cat co-chair at Danbury Animal Welfare Society (DAWS), a Connecticut nonprofit dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of homeless cats. “It is especially hard on those who have lived in a home and lost the security of both their owners and their physical home,” adds Smith.

The winter holidays lead to a surge of gifted animals that are later taken to shelters by unprepared owners. You can help counter this trend by bringing home a new feline friend for you and your current kitty. Our five-step process will help you to introduce one or more new cats into your household without any hair-raising glitches.

Step 1: Consider the personality of your current cat

Your cat’s personality should play a big role in deciding what kind of additional feline to adopt. “If you have a cat with a dominant personality, you would not want to bring home another dominant, or ‘alpha,’ cat,” says Smith. A quieter cat without leadership ambitions would help alleviate feline politics in that situation. If your cat has lived with other felines before, try to remember how it interacts with others.

Step 2: Talk to shelter staff

A quick Internet search will help you locate local shelters. As you visit the cats at the shelters, “don’t be afraid to ask the staff or volunteers specific questions about each cat,” offers Smith. Tell the staff that you have another pet. They will help you determine which cats will best suit your needs. “Doing this upfront can prevent a lot of problems later down the line,” says Smith.

Step 3: Check up on your prospective new cat’s health

Before adopting, get the specifics on your new cat’s health requirements. “All our cats and dogs are spayed or neutered and receive age-appropriate shots and vaccines prior to adoption,” says DAWS President Christine Benezra. The adoption fee usually covers those costs, but new cats entering a home with a resident cat should also first visit a veterinarian to be tested for feline AIDS and leukemia.

Step 4: Redecorate with “multi-cat” in mind

Cats are territorial, so offer your new cat its own room. This will prevent your resident pet from feeling intruded upon and will help the new cat acclimate to the home and to the new owner. Choose a small room with few hiding spots and place a litter box in one corner. Water and food bowls should go in another corner. Don’t forget to include a few toys and a scratching post. Once the new cat arrives, visit with it often so it learns to trust you before meeting the resident cat.

Step 5: Introduce the cats slowly

A gradual introduction, full of pleasant experiences involving treats, attention and play, is vital to securing a happy, long-term relationship between your new cats. Here’s how to do it smoothly:

Day 1: When you bring the new cat home, sneak it into its new room right away. Let it explore its surroundings for a few hours. In the meantime, play with your resident cat, which will smell the new cat on you.

Day 2-3: Continue to play with the cats separately but exchange the cats’ bedding so they get further acquainted with each other’s smell before meeting.

Day 4-7: Rotate the cats between the closed-off room and the rest of the house on a daily basis. This way, they’ll rub their own scent all over. Feed the cats and play with them in each area, twice daily (without bringing them in contact with each other yet). This will help to alleviate feline anxiety as they begin to anticipate the routine.

Week 2: If the cats seem relaxed with each other’s smell, bring out the new cat in a carrier to meet the resident feline. Do this for a few short sessions each day until the cats become relaxed in each other’s presence.
Although the process could take weeks or even months, Smith believes that it is possible for most cats to learn to get along with others, as long as you’re prepared to put in the time, energy and money that come along with being a responsible pet owner.

Natalia Macrynikola is an assistant editor at Studio One Networks, which publishes The Daily Cat. In her free time, she often volunteers at Astoria and Brooklyn animal shelters through the organization New York Cares.

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Santa Paws is Coming;
Maybe to Your Home
By: Doug Speirs - Winnipeg Free Press

The sun is sparkling on my barbecue. My lawn is trimmed with thousands of brown leaves. My golf clubs have been hung in the closet with care.

Yes, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Which means the eating season is almost here and it's time to reveal Doug's Super Secret Holiday Weight-Loss Tips, beginning with the following two-step workout:

Step 1 -- Dress up like Santa Claus and spend four hours sweating like a Butterball turkey in a red velvet suit while having your picture taken with hundreds of jittery dogs and cats;

Step 2 -- While you're feeling jolly, shed a few extra pounds when that nervous Great Dane on your lap mistakes your hand for a Milk-Bone because, unlike small children, dogs realize Santa has a pleasing salty taste.

OK, it's not exactly the South Beach Diet or Jenny Craig, but it works for me.

Ho ho ho! Seriously. For the third consecutive year, I'm going to shed pounds the hard way -- by playing Santa for the annual Pet Pics with Santa Paws fundraiser in support of the Winnipeg Humane Society.

The way this diet works is you, the festive pet owner, pop your dog or cat or weasel or goldfish in the car and drive to the humane society's shelter at 45 Hurst Way this coming Sunday between noon and 4 p.m. and get in a really long lineup to have a heartwarming photo taken with Santa, as portrayed by an overweight newspaper columnist inside an extremely hot, fragrant, red velvet suit.

Here's the deal: You get one photo for $12, three for $25 or a special package with a variety of photo sizes for $29. Also on Sunday, they'll have Hanukkah Pet Pics from 11 a.m. until noon. (If you want an even slimmer Santa, a second Pet Pics event is being held on Grey Cup Sunday, Nov. 29, from noon to 4 p.m.)

I've been writing about my jolly old workout for the last few years, but, surprisingly, Oprah has NOT invited me on her show to promote the Santa Paws Miracle Diet.

Given the fact I'm not getting rich, I decided to call the humane society and ask their public relations director, Aileen White, why someone as svelte as myself volunteers to be coated in dog drool and cat hair at this festive time.

Me: "Remind me why I'm doing this again."

Aileen: "Because all the proceeds go to help animals in our care, which is a really big deal because this year we've sheltered over 9,000 animals so far."

Me: "So the money's going to a great cause. How much do you hope to raise this year?"

Aileen: "I think a few thousand dollars would be super-cool!"


Aileen: "I keep forgetting you're going to quote me so I shouldn't say things like 'super-cool' because I'll sound like a ditz."

Me: "OK, I won't use that. The problem is I've been Santa Paws for three (bad word) years and I'm running out of jokes. Any ideas?"

Aileen: "Yes, I think it would be super-cool to hold a contest."

Me: "Right... what's the big prize?"

Aileen: "The big prize is Santa visits the winner's home and they get professional photos of themselves, Santa Paws and their pets taken in their very own home by Frank Adam of Adam York Photography!"

Me: "And when you say 'Santa,' you mean ME?"

Aileen: "Ho ho ho!"

Me: "Swell! So what do readers have to do to win a visit from Santa Paws?"

Aileen: "We want them to send us their favourite Holiday Pet Story. It can be funny. It can be goofy. It can be cute. It can be touching. It should also be true and not too long, maybe 200 words or so."

Me: "Great, but most of MY true holiday pet stories tend to revolve around poop."

Aileen: "???"

Me: "For example, one year our main dog's gastrointestinal system basically exploded."

Aileen: "That's a holiday story?"

Me: "It happened under the Christmas tree!"

Aileen: "Ewwwwwww!"

Me: "OK, so we want readers to email us their very own, true holiday pet stories."

Aileen: "Exactly."

Me: "And then we pick the winners?"

Aileen: Right. Second prize will be a $50 gift certificate from our Tip to Tail Boutique and third prize is a $25 certificate."

Me: "Can I slap their stories in a column, get a snack and climb back on my couch?"

Aileen: "Why not?"

Me: "Cool, Aileen."

Aileen: "SUPER-COOL, Santa!"

How Fast Can Your Parrot
REALLY Be Trained?
Posted By: Chet -

How fast can you really train your bird?

In many of my training videos I continually show examples of how to train birds to stop biting, or step up in very short periods of time. It is not uncommon for me to be able to get a bird to stop doing bad behavior within 2-3 days.

Many of my clients send me comments about how implementing one of my training concepts or strategies fixed their birds problem in less then 15 minutes.

On stage at our Total Parrot Transformation seminar I trained a parakeet to touch the end of a stick in front of hundreds of people in about 30 seconds.

But can every bird be trained in such a short period of time?

Is your bird’s behavior so bad it might take a year to train him, and you just need to be patient?

It’s possible, but I think that answer is typically a cop out for people who don’t fully understand what it takes to tame parrots.

I don’t mean that to insult you if you currently believe in your heart of hearts, that the only way to fix your bird’s behavior is with more patience, I’m sure you’re a good person and love your parrot.

It’s just that I’ve been there before, with an abused African Grey Parrot who was not responding as well to my training techniques as I would have liked. I was quickly able to teach him several things, but there was so much emotional FEAR inside this bird that I was not able to help him overcome those fears and his progress hit a brick wall before I could consider him tame.

For four months I continued to work my normal techniques on this African Grey with little to no results, which forced me to make a decision…

I either needed to ‘give up’ and take the patience and time approach. Or I needed to drastically rethink the way I was doing thing.

I decided to drastically rethink the way I was doing things.

The determining factor in this decision was actually made while simply watching my African Grey try to get to his water dish.

The way my African Grey’s cage was set up, there was a perch that lay across the main perch in his cage that he would have to step OVER if he wanted to get to his water bowl. For any normal bird this wouldn’t have been a problem… but with my African Grey, the perch was an obstacle to be feared, and he refused to touch it.

Over the course of the first four months I had him in the cage, he never built up the courage to step over this perch.

Instead he’d come up close to it, and then leap over it… literally jumping into his water dish.

This is when I had my big breakthrough and realized, “if a perch that had always been in the cage, and had never moved, and had never fallen down while my bird was standing on it, couldn’t be patient enough to earn my birds trust, then how in the hell was I going to earn his trust with nothing but patience?”

So I decided that patience was mostly BS, and that I needed to rethink my training approach to scared birds completely.

This is how I came to evolve the 3 Phases Of Fear training model that I taught to at our live Total Parrot Transformation seminar, that was eventually responsible for training my African Grey to stop biting and step up on cue within 30 days of me finally figuring out the formula.

The 3 Phases Of Fear training model is a holistic approach towards training your bird that is based off one key principles. They are:

Key Principle #1: Your birds progress is being blocked by EMOTIONAL reasons

Just like almost all of the problems we humans have are based off of unhealthy emotional reasons, like our Daddies not spending enough time with us, being abused, etc., parrots typically are held up from becoming more tame from emotional reasons too.

As the name of my Training Model suggests (The 3 Phases of Fear), there are three MAIN emotional roadblocks that parrots run into that prevent them from being tame. Each of these Mental roadblocks seem to be caused by specific, and very different emotional reason.

This means that in order to help your parrot develop, and overcome a certain type of fear he has, you need to use a training technique specifically designed for overcoming that particular fear; and STOP using those techniques once the fear has been overcome.

But it’s a little more complicated then that…

Not all Emotions are weighted equally!

Have you ever seen Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid?

In his pyramid, Maslow suggested that people can’t work on filling the needs at the top of the pyramid before filling the needs at the bottom of the pyramid, because some needs build a foundation for even having the ability to want other needs.

In birds there are three stages of emotional needs that you will need to work on to ever have a tame bird. I call these these stages:

1) The Getting Closer Phase

2) The Accepting Contact Phase

3) The Initiating Contact Phase

In each of these three phases a parrot has a particular type of fear that is triggering him to bite or be afraid of you, and it takes a particular type of technique, or several techniques to help your bird get over that type of fear.

And like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you’d better not try to work on the 2nd and 3rd phases of fear before first addressing the emotional needs in the first phase.

A perfect example of this is my free video online that teaches a technique that I call the Power Pause technique. In this free video I show how I got two different birds to stop attacking when people came near them. (The Getting Closer Phase Of Fear)

It’s a specific technique for people who’s birds have an emotional problem with their owners getting to close to them, and in a few short minutes helps most birds fix this problem.

Some of my clients think this technique is MAGIC and want to use it to solve everything wrong with their bird… but it doesn’t work that way. It’s a technique that’s awesome at addressing one of the emotional roadblocks parrots still in the first phase of fear have.

If any of my clients who’ve had success using the Power Pause technique during the first phase of fear, were to try to use it to train their parrot to do a behavior in the second or third phase of fear, it wouldn’t work.

This is because the emotional roadblocks that your parrot has to overcome to be comfortable with you coming close to him, are different from those he has to overcome to enjoy being pet, and different again for the emotions he has to overcome to be comfortable stepping up onto your hand.

When you are clear about where your parrot’s emotional weaknesses are, what techniques can help you overcome them and what ones can’t, that’s when you can achieve incredibly fast taming and training results.

If your bird is not getting noticeably better behaved 9 out of every 10 days you train him, then you are most likely not using techniques that are addressing his emotional needs the way they need to be.

If you’d like my most advanced teachings on how to match up the most appropriate training techniques help your parrot overcome his emotional roadblocks, I would encourage you to watch my 3 Phases of Fear & Mistrust DVD presentation. You can get a copy here:

Total Parrot Transformation Seminar DVD Series

We are running low on these sets, so there might be a couple week delay while we wait for a new shipment to come in, so please be patient, and feel free to email us if you can’t wait that long for your copy to show up.

Key Take Away To Ponder:

If your parrot does not have a lot of emotional roadblocks to overcome, his training should be incredibly fast. With these types of parrots, you can drastically increase the quality of your relationship with them by simply doing daily trick training exercises. The parrot owners who talk about how they fix their bird’s behavior in minutes or a few days are typically owning this kind of bird with a low level of emotional baggage.

If simple daily interaction and trick training sessions are not improving the relationship you have with your bird, your bird likely has more Emotional Baggage, and you should consider investing in more training education to fully understand how to work with the issues your bird has developed. Your bird is probably not ready for trick training yet, and needs to have some emotional roadblock removal first.

The more emotional baggage your parrot has, the MORE training techniques you will need to use to tame him, and the more you will need to fully understand his behavior. But this does NOT mean it has to take a long time. You may not be able to fully tame your bird in a few days, but you should be able to drastically transform your bird in 30 days.

I’m not saying anyone can completely eliminate their birds problems in 30 days, but if your doing things right, you should be able to make enough progress that you’re incredibly encouraged to continue working with your bird.

Try to remember that you are probably on track if 9 out of 10 times that you interact with your parrot you are NOT getting bitten, and he is making noticeable progress. If this does NOT describe how the relationship with your parrot is going, and you do not make daily progress with him, consider investing in more advanced training like my Seminar DVD series or from another professional parrot trainer that can help point out why your not getting the results you’re after with your bird.

Here’s hoping this helps some of you get a little better understanding about what you should be able to expect out of your training.

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The Large Home Aquarium
By Chris Persson -

Thinking about a large home aquarium? Even if you aren’t, there are plenty of good reasons for getting one.

Perhaps you’d like to house a really big fish or two, or several aggressive fish in the same tank, or maybe you’d just like to put LOTS of little fish in one tank. Or maybe you’re an aquarist who is now ready for the challenge of setting up and maintaining a bigger aquarium.

Large aquaria have much to offer those of us "in the hobby." In addition to satisfying the space requirements of big fish, large tanks tend to offer more stable water conditions than do similarly stocked and filtered smaller tanks. And, if properly set-up and maintained, a large aquarium can be an extremely impressive addition to your home.

In the past 8 years, I have purchased, set-up, and maintained a number of large aquariums, including a 9-foot-long, 340 gallon glass aquarium. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of dealing with big tanks. I’ve moved so many heavy tanks that I’ve exhausted the goodwill of my family and friends and helped put my chiropractor’s kids through college. I’ve been to the brink of litigation with freight companies. I’ve filled, spilled, and drained water in Noachian proportions. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

Still ready for the challenge of setting up and maintaining a large home aquarium? Here then are ten steps for success:

1. Commitment
As my Grandpa always said, "If you’re going to do something, do it right … or don’t do it at all!" And while he may have neither coined that phrase nor been sober when he said it, it’s the motto by which any hobbyist looking to set up a large aquarium should live by. Before you even begin, make sure you have the backing of your spouse, significant other, and/or family; after all, these are the people who will have to share their home with a huge water-filled contraption. You also need to ensure that you’ve got the necessary financial resources to purchase a quality product. And finally, be certain that you are both prepared and determined to put substantial time and effort into this project.

2. Location
Positioning a large aquarium in your home requires a bit more forethought than with standard-sized tanks. As always, a level spot, free from direct sunlight and heavy foot traffic is required. You'll need to plan for easy access for feeding and maintenance. And, of course, you’ll want to locate the tank in a place that offers comfortable viewing for you and your guests—but remember that you need not sit as close to large aquaria as you do with smaller ones.

When selecting a site for a large home aquarium, keep in mind your sense of proportion as large tanks can easily "overwhelm" a room. Consider the possibility of an "in-the-wall" tank; this can provide a very attractive finished look to your aquarium, and also allows you to service the tank from behind the scenes.

3. Weight
Let’s state the obvious: Big tanks mean big weight. Sure, you’ve got more water than with smaller tanks, but don’t neglect the added weight from thicker glass and sturdier stands. For example, an empty 125 gallon glass tank weighs about 200 lbs., while a 300 gallon glass tank (empty) runs 1,000 lbs. or so. Water tips the scale at about 8.3 lbs. per gallon and adds up mighty quickly, as do the heavier rocks and driftwood pieces you’re likely to use in a larger tank. By my best estimate, my 340 gallon weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 tons!

Big tanks are probably safest in the basement on a concrete slab. The first floor of your home can be workable as well, assuming you sufficiently shore up the supporting floor. Spare yourself unnecessary worry and labor by saving the upper floors of your home for small tanks.

4. Stand
Ready-made aquarium stands are available for pretty much any size tank up to the standard six-foot 180 gallon. Tanks larger than that almost always require that you either custom-order from a manufacturer, or build your own stand. Those of you who—like myself—are inept at matters of carpentry should consider hiring a professional to ensure the job is done right. Determine how high you want the stand to be—high enough for comfortable viewing, but not so high that the aquarium dominates the room. And finally, take the time to figure out how much room you’ll need under the tank for any equipment and accessories you plan to put there, and provide enough space for easy access.

5. H2O
We know we’re going to put water in the tank—and take some out during maintenance—so we’ve got to plan ahead. A nearby source of cold and hot water (and a drain) is a must. Although modern water change systems like the PYTHON make this less of a concern than in the past, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider other options. With proper planning, water lines can be run adjacent to or directly into the tank, and means for draining water can be incorporated as well. Remember, even a 25% water change on a big tank is a lot of water; imagine the convenience of turning a couple of valves to drain—and also to fill—the tank rapidly.

6. Material
Glass or Acrylic? The debate rages, and each material offers specific advantages and disadvantages. In general, acrylic is lighter than glass and more readily fashioned into unique or extra-tall shapes, but it is more expensive and somewhat more easily scratched than glass. However, some acrylic scratches can be polished out, while scratched glass is all but impossible to fix. Acrylic is supposedly "clearer" than glass, and modern acrylic tank manufacturers claim that today’s acrylics do not discolor, as did their predecessors. Personally, I will never again use glass for anything over 180 gallons, if only in consideration of weight.

7. Source
Most any retail pet shop can readily obtain glass or acrylic tanks up to 180 gallons; some stores even carry 7’ and 8’ tanks up to as much as 265g or so. Get beyond that, and you’ll be faced with one of three choices:

a. Build your own. This alternative is only available to those who are not ham-fisted like myself. Done properly, this can be the least expensive route, as you provide the labor (search the web or check out the "Manual of Tankbusters" for how to do). Just note that glass sheets are heavy and awkward, meaning you won’t be able to build a big tank without help. In addition, use care as to the type of silicone and/or sealant employed; many are not approved for aquarium use. Proceed with caution!

b. Special order via your retailer Your retailer probably has a source of his own that makes extra large tanks. This is the most convenient AND most expensive way to get a tank. You will pay thousands of dollars for tanks over 300 gallons. On the plus side, the retailer will (or should) arrange for delivery, and will also help with any problems that might arise.

c. Mail Order/Direct Purchase I have found this provides the most reasonable compromise. If you choose acrylic, there are a number of manufacturers that advertise each month in FAMA. Glass aquarium manufacturers that sell direct to the public are less common but do exist. You will definitely save money on the cost of the tank by ordering direct, but should be prepared for hidden charges such as packing, shipping crates, and freight—get these prices quoted ahead of time.
As a rough guide to cost, retailers quoted me prices exceeding $4,000 for purchase and delivery of a glass 9’ 340 gallon. Buying directly from the manufacturer cut my cost to less than half of this.

8. Transport
If you buy directly from the manufacturer they will either send the aquarium to a nearby airport or to your local freight depot. You can then arrange your own transportation and pick it up, or have the freight company deliver to your address. Note that this does not mean they will bring the tank into—or even near—your house. They’ll bring it only to the end of your driveway; you’ll still have to unload the tank and move it in. If you decide to have the freight line deliver you should be aware that these companies are notorious for not showing when promised; I prefer to go to their depot (with my own movers) and get the tank myself.

9. Moving
Once it’s at your house, you’ll need help getting the aquarium inside. Tanks up to 55 gallons or so can more or less be handled by one person—although I confess to once moving a 125 gallon solo, using a SUV, a trio of sawhorses, and absolutely no common sense—but larger tanks require assistance. Getting family members or friends to help out may be an option, but once you’re moving a tank heavier than a couple of hundred pounds you’re going to need friends that are either very understanding or very strong. Larger glass tanks may require professional help—I wound up hiring eight movers to get my 340 gallon into my house.

Plan ahead! Moving a large tank may require twisting and turning to get around corners and deal with the various angles created by doorways and stairwells. Stories abound of hobbyists who wound up having to remove windows or doors in the process. Inter-American Pet Supply even told me of a customer who took delivery of an 8’ x 3’ x 3’ aquarium only to then find he could not get it into his house! So, measure twice, cut once…

10. Filtration
A wide array of options exists for filtering the large tank. Although you could strap on a bunch of outside power filters or canisters and get the job done, I’ve found though that a better option is to order the tank "reef-ready." What’s reef ready? The tank comes pre-drilled with several holes and an overflow box which are plumbed to a second smaller "sump" tank, which contains a trickle filter or other filtration process. Water pumps are used to circulate the tank water between your main tank and the sump via PVC pipe or flexible tubing.

This may sound complicated, but plumbing an aquarium is less complex than installing a faucet or toilet. Just be sure to allow a few days for all glue and sealant to cure before filling with water and adding fish.

This plumbed system works great; it permits easy access to the filter media, and allows you to put heaters, filter intakes and such in the sump and out of sight—as well as out of reach of large fish. The water pumps used in such a system are very powerful and provide excellent turnover of tank volume. And since there are no filters hanging off the back of the tank, you can push the aquarium flat against a wall. Sumps also have room for you to add other fancy stuff, like a fluidized bed filter or UV sterilizer, should you so desire.


Once the tank is set-up, filled, decorated and cycled, you’re ready to add fish, sit back and enjoy … and think about the even BIGGER aquarium you’re going to tackle next time!

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