Preparing For A Freshwater Aquarium

Friday 14 July 2017

Something slightly different for you this week, folks, as I've been so excited since it happened I have to share it with you and give you a few tips if you find yourself in a similar situation. I'll be splitting it into parts so as not to overload you, but this post covering the basics is a little long so I do apologise for that!

So. Last Saturday by mum surprised me by buying me a 50L fish tank as I'd been going on and on about getting a male betta fish and doing it all myself and how relaxing fish tanks are. I planned to save myself and get maybe a 20L for my single fish, but after learning that bettas can damage their fins very easily, I changed tack and started looking at other tropical fish, and even considered goldfish. In the end, I had my heart set on a little community of tetras and wanted to go home and think it all through. But I never got the chance.

We drove to a few garden centres that also specialised in aquatics and ended up having a lengthy conversation with some employees and they helped me pick out everything I needed for starting a new tank. I already had a fair bit of knowledge from watching videos on fish keeping and care but I was a bit unsure about water testing and changes. Thankfully, there's a lot of information out there and the help I received was amazing - the store will even test my water for me! - so I'm confident I can raise some healthy fish. I just hope they get on okay with how I've decorated their tank!

Have an idea of how big you'd like your tank to be, but also compare sizes in store. I originally went for a 25L (6 gallon) tank as I only wanted a few fish, but was advised that going up a size would be easier to care for, as toxic ammonia and nitrite levels will take longer to build up when waste is diluted by more water. And it means I have room for more fish.

Some tanks come with a heater but some will require you to buy it separately. A heater is particularly important for tropical fish.

And of course you'll need something to monitor both the temperature of the water in the tank and fresh water during changes. The one I got has a green band on it indicating the perfect temperature range for tropical fish and it sticks to the inside of the tank. You can get ones that stick on the outside, but these can be influenced by air temperature as well.

Again, some tanks will come with a filter included, but others might not, and even if they do it may not be the filter you want. The tank I got came with a mechanical filter (which is basically a sponge) but you can also get biological filters and chemical filters. I can't really recommend which is best as this is my first tank, but Google is your friend!

My tank came with a lightbulb already fitted in the lid, which I think is standard practice for most tanks. The light being in the lid, I'm not sure if some require you to buy and install the bulb yourself. But most fish require light throughout the day so it's worth checking.

Water treatment/conditioner
Water treatment is essential to ensure a healthy aquarium, but until you have fish producing waste you don't need to worry so much about ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and all the other bad things. I still treated my water with Seachem Prime concentrated conditioner as it removes chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia, and it detoxifies nitrites and nitrates. I also used Tetra's SafeStart solution as it immediately cycles your tank, meaning it's safe to add fish to straight away.

A substrate of some kind isn't always necessary, but I think it makes a tank look really nice, and in some cases can even allow beneficial bacteria to grow somewhere other than the filter. I was advised against sand, as detritus tends to settle on top of it, but I'm okay with this as I wanted a coloured gravel anyway. I went with a fine one that hopefully my fish won't ingest, but if they do it shouldn't do too much harm. Hopefully.

Decorations are quite arbitrary, but can completely change the look of a tank. I think it's important to provide fish with places to hide if they want to, but some fish won't do this, some can be easily hurt my decorations, and some will hide so much you never see them. It's quite trial and error and I won't know until I get my fish whether I have a good setup or not. I also made sure to rinse all of my decorations (as well as gravel and plants) before putting them into my tank, as it can help keep things clean.

Again, plants are up to you, and you can choose between real and fake plants. Both provide decoration and shade for the fish, but live plants have the added benefits of adding oxygen to the tank and absorbing some of the ammonia produced. I went with three different types as I wanted a forest type area for my fish that had some variety. Different plants will grow at different rates, and some are more likely to be ripped apart by fish so it's worth looking into!

1 comment:

Got a thought or an opinion? I'd love to hear it.

design by amanda inez