Setting Up A New Aquarium: Get Your Tank Right From the Start!
I Must Have Fish Right Away!
Setting Up A New Tank Requires Patience!
When you decide to get an aquarium, you will probably be eager to get fish right away. Exercise restraint! If you get fish right away, you will be highly likely to kill them all off right away. It is very important to take the time to establish your tank and get a good biological filter started before you introduce fish to the tank. This can take a week to two weeks.
Filters Without Air Pumps
Aquarium Sets Are Great For Beginners!
Super serious aquarists tend to look down on aquarium sets that come with everything in one box because they say that the components are inferior; however, if you are just starting out, you are better off getting one of these sets than trying to assemble a good set-up from separate components. You can always upgrade later.
Starting out with an aquarium set is an affordable way to make sure you have the basics. Be sure that your set includes the following:
- Filtration system
- Air pump (if required - some filtration systems don't use an air pump)
Additional Items You Will Need
Some sets will include a heater, but not all. I never use heaters. I just keep my house at a comfortable temperature, and that is always fine for all of my fish. If you let your house get very cold in winter, you will want to be sure to have a heater.
Net & Food
Some sets also include a net and food. This is nice if the net is the right size, and the food is the kind your fish will need. If not, it is better to buy these things separately.
Some sets also include water conditioner. If your's doesn't, be sure to get a good brand that neutralizes chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals in your water. This is very important. Without it, your fish will die, even if you let the water stand to allow chemicals to disperse, there will still be enough chemicals in tap water to kill your fish.
You will also want to buy some aquarium salt. Even fresh water fish need some salt in their water. It reduces stress and defends against fungus infections. Follow instructions on the container regarding how much salt to use.
Partial Water Change Equipment
Performing a 25% water change weekly is very important for aquarium health. You will want to have a specially designed suction hose and a couple of clean buckets used only for this purpose.
Keep This On Hand!
Another very good thing to always have on hand is a fish tonic/medication called Melafix. This is a natural product that is very helpful to the aquarist. It helps reduce stress in fish and also cures a number of diseases. I strongly recommend using it when introducing new fish to a tank and keeping it on hand to use immediately if you notice your fish becoming ill. Even if Melafix is not the medication you ultimately need to cure an illness, it will comfort your fish and reduce stress right away while you figure out what is wrong and get the exact medication you need.
*TIP: Melafix for Ponds is highly concentrated. You can use it in your aquarium at a rate of 2 drops per gallon. This will save you a lot of money!
Don't Overdo The Gravel!
You will probably need to buy gravel separately. Get enough to cover the floor of your tank to a depth of one inch - no more. That is plenty to get a good biological filter going, but not so much that it is going to cause cleaning problems or take up swimming space.
Fish Are Minimalists When It Comes to Decoration!
You will also probably need to get plants and decorations separately. Again, keep in mind that you do not want to crowd your aquarium with knick-knacks. Your fish will need someplace to swim! A couple of medium sized plants per 10 gallons is plenty.
Many people love to buy real plants. Personally, I never have good luck with them and always go for silk plants. They look beautiful, last a long time, and are easy to clean.
Clean Everything With Water Only!
When you get your new tank home, rinse the tank and everything that will go into it thoroughly. Don't use any kind of soap or detergent. Just give everything a good rinsing to get off any dust or film of chemicals that may have settled on it during transport and handling.
Set Your Tank Up Safely & Securely!
Naturally, the best thing to set your aquarium up on is an aquarium stand. It is specially made to handle the weight of an aquarium and to be tolerant of contact with water. If you don't have a stand, be sure to set your tank up on a very sturdy piece of furniture that will not be damaged by water. Set your aquarium in indirect sunlight. Your fish should have some natural light every day to stay healthy; however, they should never be subjected to strong, direct sunlight. This can heat up the water rapidly and kill your fish.
Once you have selected a place for your tank, follow instructions for setting it up. Place your filter, find a good location for your pump (above the aquarium to avoid electrical accidents caused by water being spilled on it), place your gravel, and carefully add your treated water. Plug everything in and wait! You will want to let your tank run for at least a week to let friendly bacteria set up housekeeping and provide you with a good biological filter. Two weeks is better. At the end of this time, your tank will be considered "seasoned". This is very important. If you don't do this, your fish are likely to drop like flies when you introduce them to the tank!
You Only Look At It!
Your Fish Live In the Tank
Note the cloudy water in this new tank. This is normal in an unseasoned tank. Given time for a biological filter to set up, this cloudiness will disappear. This tank also has far too many plants and ornaments! When you set your tank up, get about half this many or less. Your fish want water to swim in, not knick-knacks to look at. Just provide a few good hiding places!
Your fish will appreciate it!
Be Patient & Do Your Homework!
Some people speed the seasoning process up by adding "trash" fish to the tank - that is feeder goldfish or guppies - but often this just results in killing those fish off! If it doesn't, then you will need to do something with them when you are ready to get your permanent fish! Additionally, they may introduce diseases to your tank. So I think it is better just to wait.
While you are waiting, do some research! Look up various types of fish online. Get a good book. Visit your local fish store and ask lots of questions! By the time your tank is seasoned, you will know exactly what you want. When the two weeks is up, do a partial water change (25%). Take a sample of your water to your local fish store for testing. If it tests safe, get your fish and bring them home to a happy, healthy environment.