How Do You Set Up An Aquarium?
By Linda Joiner (aka Tigger)
Here are my tips for setting up a fresh water aquarium.
1. Get the largest tank you can afford and have space for. The larger the tank, the better for the fish. A 30 gallon aquarium is not any more difficult to maintain than a 10 gallon aquarium.
I would tend to stay away from high tanks, as they have a greater tendency to get pressure cracks, and can be more difficult to clean. My personal favorite is a 29 gallon tank. Itís large enough to look beautiful and has plenty of room for fish to move and grow.
Whatever size you get, be sure to rinse it thoroughly before setting it up. Use a clean sponge to wipe down all sides and the bottom and rinse again.
2. Use one pound of gravel for every gallon of water the tank holds. Ten pounds for a 10 gallon tank, 20 for a 20, and so on. Be sure to rinse the gravel thoroughly before putting it in the tank. A colander works well for this. Just rinse a little at a time. If you are using an undergravel filter, be sure to put it in place before adding the gravel.
3. There are several types of filters available. If you are going with a 10 or 15 gallon tank, an undergravel filter alone will suffice. Just be certain you get a strong enough air pump to get a good air flow through both sides of the filter.
My personal favorite is the Whisper brand of air pumps and power filters. If you are going with a 20 gallon or larger tank, I recommend using both an undergravel filter and an outside power filter. When the tank is new, just the undergravel filter alone will be enough for the first few months, but to be able to go for about 6 months without have to clean your aquarium, having both filters is necessary. All you will have to do is change the filter cartridge on the power filter every couple of months, and add water to the tank as it evaporates.
4. Most tropical fish need warm water. This means they need a heater to not only keep the water warm, but to keep the temperature consistent as well. A change in water temperature can make fish sick.
There are many heaters available, and they come in a variety of sizes to match the size of your tank. You also need a thermometer. I like the kind that float around in the water. I find them to be the most accurate. You may have to stick you hand in the water to turn it around to read it sometimes, but thatís really not too difficult.
5. There are many water conditioners available so that you can set your tank up and add your fish on the same day. I would recommend waiting 24 hours before adding fish. This will give the water time to become the right temperature with the use of a heater. I would still go ahead and condition the water and also get some ick medicine to have on hand as well. If you don't know what ick is now, you will.
6. Another tip: When buying fish, you need to be certain to get the ones that are compatible with each other. There are non-aggressive fish, semi-aggressive fish, and aggressive fish. Aggressive fish (such as oscars) will eat non-aggressive fish (such as guppies). I would recommend buying fish at a reputable pet store where someone can help you get fish that are compatible.
If you are getting tropical fish, I would avoid putting goldfish with them. Goldfish like cold water, and they have a body slime which can be harmful to tropical fish. goldfish are also dirty. I would not recommend getting an algae eater right away, but bottom feeders (such as catfish or sharks) are good.
7. I enjoy live plants in my aquariums, but the fish eat them so eventually they start looking shabby and need replacing. A mixture of real and artificial plants can be nice. Be creative when decorating the tank. Use large rocks, or get a little extra gravel to form hills. It looks nice to slope the gravel, making it low in the front and higher in the back. Just experiment and have fun with it!
8. Do not put your aquarium near a window. This causes algae to grow at a much faster rate. A fluorescent light is much better than an incandescent for the same reason, and itís best not to leave it on for long periods at a time (like all day). Have fun and enjoy!
9. My last tip would be use coupons to save money on all your aquarium needs Free Pet Store Coupons.