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Help for the Novice Aquarist

Updated on November 26, 2008

Beginning an Aquarium isn't all that hard

I started my first aquarium when I was 10 years old. The conditions were much more difficult way back then. I had to deal with minimal filtration by today's standards and tanks that had stainless steel frames, slate bottoms and black caulking that often leaked. Most tanks used air pumps and inside box filters as their advanced filtration.  There was no such thing as a fluorescent canopy! The technology has improved exponentially and that makes it much easier for the novice aquarist to be successful. You just need a little help and access to the right information. Given that minimal headstart, that first tank will become a living picture that friends and family alike will enjoy for a very long time.

When you are just beginning in the fascinating hobby it may seem to be endlessly complicated.

What does the filter actually do?

How does the heater work?

What is the best type of light for my fish.

When do I change the water? 

Why are my fish sick or dying? 

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will begin to answer these questions from a novice aquarist's poiont of view.  There are lots of sources for information, often much of it conflicting. Who do you trust, and who actually knows what is really going on? Much of that expansion will be through my blog, so watch the feed below for updates. 

I don't expect to be your single authoritative source, the ponds, streams and oceans are simply too large and complex to allow anyone to be an expert in everything. Like me, I am sure you will find that everyone has an opinion on the right way to keep and maintain an aquarium. Unlike most experts, I don't think that there can only be one way to keep fish alive.  I believe that there are quite a number of right answers. It is you that needs to come to a conclusion of what is right for you, but I think you should ask as many people as possible who do know how things work for them; and then come to your own conclusion.

In my long history in the pet industry I have found that keeping tropical fish is as much of an art as a science. Knowing what to do in any instance is a matter of determining the problem and then sifting through the advice of many to determine your unique course of action for your particular case. Every tank is different, so a single piece of advice will not fit all situations. The art is in keeping fish alive.

Beginning a new aquarium is a special case.  You are taking a set of sterile components and requiring that they support life from the very first minute water hits the gravel.  There are some main components to every tank, and some surprising tips and tricks I have learned as I have set up tank after tank.  As a beginning aquarist, the field is wide open, and I am sure any resource is a welcome oasis on the path.  

This hubpage is designed to provide a platform for everyone who needs a little help to make their aquarium, new or old, successful. Don't be shy to make a comment or ask a question. I have been working in the pet industry for many, many years, as a devoted hobbyist and breeder, in pet stores, on the road and finally in the marketing and development department of a major innovator of aquarium equipment during the major advances in latter parts of the last century. I am still there and active, hopefully you will benefit from all that hands-on experience in all things aquatic.

I have always loved to keep fish, it is relaxing to watch the patterns flash as the various species interact.  The calming effect can soothe after even the most harried day at the office.  And, believe it or not, if you can be patient and not get over-anxious, it won't be long before the living picture blossoms into an aquascape full of beauty and action.  The longer the aquarium goes, the more stable it becomes and safer and comfortable for the fish it encloses. 

I wish all beginning aquarists the best of luck and long years of fascination in the underwater worlds they create and maintain. 


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