Thursday, November 15, 2007

Simple Steps to Starting a Fresh Water Aquarium

Setting up a freshwater aquarium is fairly simple, but does require following a few steps to get the tropical aquarium environment safe for fish. Don't rush the process, or you could run into a lot of problems with the new fish you buy.

Be patient, making sure the water is the correct temperature, PH, and that healthy bacteria are living in the aquarium tank before adding fish. If any of these things are not done correctly, your new fish won't last very long.

To get started on an aquarium that you and your family can enjoy for years to come, follow these few simple tips:

Supplies You Will Need before Setting Up the Tank Environment:

  • 30 -55 gallon aquarium – don't go any smaller than this. If you are going through all the work of developing an aquarium, you want it big enough to add the fish you would like.
  • Aquarium Stand - Be sure to purchase a stand sturdy enough to hold the tank filled with water. Most people are surprised at the weight of a tank, once filled.
  • Aquarium Tank Canopy – Fish are very active and can jump right out of the tank if it is not covered.
  • Aquarium Light – The lights are available in different tones. Some look like sunlight, cool light, or spot lighting for emphasis on plants or ornaments.
  • Aquarium Water Heater – Tropical fish require a warm environment.
  • Thermometer – These are available as floating thermometers, inside suction thermometers, or outside the tank(stick on- my favorite)
  • Filter – The water must be filtered to remove food debris and keep the water clean. There are a wide variety of filters: under gravel filters, inside the tank filters, or filters that hang on the outside. Check your pet supply store and choose the filter you feel would be the best for you.
  • Pump – You will need this if you are using air bubble wands.
  • Gravel – Choose whatever type of gravel you like. The gravel is important because it actually houses the good bacteria your tank will need to stay healthy.
  • Test Kit - This is a must when first setting up your tank. After the aquarium is established, you won't really need to test it. The test checks the levels of PH, Nitrite, Nitrate, Ammonia, and CO2. Once these levels check in the safe zone, it is time to add fish.
  • Stress Coat – This is added to the water. It helps protect the fish when adding them to a new environment.
Those are all the necessities needed for starting a fresh water aquarium. Now comes the fun part. Choose the decorations you would like for your tank. Once again, pet supply stores carry all types of theme decorations. You can get driftwood, colored gravel, plants, moss, bubble wands, back drops, and various stones.

Time to Set Up the Tank:

1. Place the fish tank stand out far enough away from the wall to allow the filter to hang over. Also, it is best to situate the tank where it will not be in the direct sunlight. This could cause an algae problem.

2. Rinse the gravel to remove any dust particles and place in the bottom of the tank. Slowly add about 2" of water to the tank. Bottled water will not need to be treated, but if you use tap water, use a chlorine remover.
3. Set up the equipment: heater, filter, thermometer, pump if needed.

4. Decorate with ornaments. Spread them out so the fish have enough room to swim around.
5. Fill the tank with water. Turn on the filter, heater, and pump. Let it run for 24 hours and test the water. Make sure all levels are correct before adding fish. Sometimes, it can take up to a week for good bacteria to grow. If you visit a pet store, ask if you can take a little water from one of their established aquariums. This can help the bacteria grow quicker in your tank.

6. Time to add the fish – Start with only a few hardy fish to be sure your tank is safe. Once you have the fish for a few weeks, add a few more. The typical recommendation is one fish per gallon, so the size of your aquarium will determine how many fish you can have.
7. It is best to have at least two bottom feeders to help keep your tank clean: cat fish are great for this. You will also want at least one algae eater to keep the algae under control. Choose some peaceful community fish like: neons, barbs, tetras, and danios. Many fish will nip at each other, so be sure to check if the fish you are buying are community, semi-aggressive, or aggressive. You really can't mix these types of fish.

Hope this guide helped you set up the perfect fish tank for you. Now that all the work is done, you shouldn't have to do anything but change about one quarter of the water every couple of weeks. You can also use a siphon vacuum to clean the bottom of the tank of you think it needs it. Enjoy your new tropical aquarium.

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