Our Tips For First Time Aquarium Owners.
Just as many of us work hard to keep our cats & dogs healthy, the same should be done for our fish. A clean and healthy aquarium is the most important step in ensuring your fish are happy and thriving.
There are two types of fish tanks, saltwater and freshwater. The type of aquarium you have will depend on the kinds of fish you plan to keep. When introducing new fish to a tank, you’ll need to ensure that not only that the tank is prepared correctly, but also that the fish are properly acclimated. There are multiple factors that affect how happy your fish are that range beyond the water condition, for example; the food you’re feeding them, the fish they’re paired with and the types of decorations placed in the tank.
We’ll be covering the various steps you as an aquarium enthusiast can take to keep your fish tank healthy and thriving.
Preparing your aquarium.
Deciding on the types of fish you want to have.
Naturally your first move into starting your aquarium would be choosing the types of fish you want to house. Picking between whether they will be freshwater or saltwater fish, will help you decide how to set up your tank and condition the water. From there you’d need to consider what types of fish would be able to peacefully coexist with one another, and if you can accommodate their requirements. It would also be important to inquire about how much food your fish will require and what kinds of fish food would be best to feed them, in order to avoid overfeeding.
Choosing a tank & it’s accessories
Your choice of the tank will need to be one that is sturdy and of the best quality. The size is the most important factor however, as this determines the amount of space and oxygen your fish will have. An overcrowded tank will lead to a lack of oxygen which will naturally lead to your fish suffering as a result. This is why planning is vital when choosing your tank and ensuring it will comfortably accommodate the amount of fish you plan to have inhabit your aquarium. As for the accessories, some fish may thrive better with certain plants or rocks, as they may have specific mineral properties that could benefit them. There are also a variety of tank decorations you could choose from to give your aquarium some “character”.
Conditioning the water.
Whether you have a saltwater tank or a freshwater tank, one of the most important steps towards setting up your aquarium is to ensure you’ve properly conditioned the water for your fish. If you’re using tap water, you’ll need to ensure that it is properly filtered and conditioned in order to balance out the already present minerals. There are a variety of products available that can aid you in preparing the water for new fish, for example API - Quick Start which converts toxic ammonia into nitrite, and adds the necessary bacteria that benefits the addition of new fish to the aquarium. Another useful water conditioner to try out is Seachem Prime which like the API - Quickstart, detoxifies any present ammonia, removes any traces of chlorine or chloramine, and prepares the water for fish acclimation without affecting the PH balance.
Monitoring the PH Balance.
PH balance needs to be monitored as well. This is the measurement of the levels of alkalinity and acidity in the water and can often depend on the fish living in your aquarium. Saltwater and freshwater tanks each have varying PH level requirements. Saltwater aquariums require basic levels between 7.6 - 8.4, whereas freshwater aquariums require lower basic levels of 6.6 & 6.8.
Ensuring there is no Ammonia present.
Ammonia is incredibly toxic to your fish, which is why ammonia levels need to be monitored regularly. Filtering the water regularly will decrease ammonia levels, having at least two filters in your fish tank will help in preventing ammonia by providing growth for beneficial bacterias. Having living plants in your aquarium will also aid in reducing ammonia levels, but most importantly it is vital that you cycle the water prior to introducing your fish to their new home, which will also help aid in the growth of ammonia-fighting bacteria.
Adjusting the water temperature.
The next step is to monitor the water temperature. Water temperature plays a major role in keeping your aquarium thriving. Water that is too hot or too cold may end up causing nerve damage or shock to your fish’s system. Each water type has their own requirements in terms of temperature range. Saltwater tanks require a temperature between 23.8°C and 26.6°C while Freshwater tanks will require a similar temperature between 22.2°C - 27.7°C. Tank placement also makes a difference temperature wise, as placing it near a light or heat source will raise the temperature, and placing it near an air conditioner vent or in a cold spot will reduce the temperature, which will have a negative effect on your fish’s well-being. Of course, the main factor which you’d need to consider are the fish themselves. Different fish will have different temperature requirements, so when deciding which fish to raise in your aquarium, you’d need to take into consideration if they have requirements that can both be met.
Introducing your fish to their new tank.
Rather than just putting your fish straight into the water as is, you would instead need to acclimate them to the water. The best way to do this is to keep them in their little bags of water when you put them inside the tank for up to 20 minutes, then slowly add a bit of the aquarium water into the bag every few minutes, then eventually you can open the bag and release your fish into their new home. Putting your fish directly into the tank without any form of acclimation will send your fish into shock and it will end fatally for them. Once your fish are swimming freely, you can monitor them to see if they are “peaceful” with one another. If you take notice of any aggressive behavior from one fish towards another (for example, biting or chasing another fish) it might be best to separate them and maybe arrange for a separate (smaller) tank for the aggressive fish. You may notice some groups of fish swimming around together (usually the same species of fish) this is known as “schooling”.
Keeping your tank clean.
You might notice the development of algae in your tank over time, while this might be completely normal and may even be beneficial, too much algae will deplete the oxygen levels in your aquarium, which will naturally have a negative effect on your fish’s health. Algae can present itself in three colors; green algae, which is very common for healthy aquariums, brown algae, which is the easiest to clean, blue-green algae, which may cause the most damage for your fish or aquarium plants, and red algae, which is the toughest to clean, sometimes requiring a 5 - 10 percent bleach dip to get rid of. Algae build up can be caused by overfeeding your fish, not changing the water frequently enough, having your tank exposed to direct sunlight or simply leaving the fish tank’s light on for too long. Avoiding these causes, cleaning your tank and replacing your water regularly will help in preventing the overgrowth of algae. When cleaning your tank make sure you have safely removed your fish in little bags and put them back following the same steps as you did when initially acclimating them.
With these steps you are on your way to maintaining a healthy and thriving aquarium. With a lot of work and care, your fish tank will flourish with the many plants and fish species occupying it! Be sure to browse our Aquatics range here on our website to find what you need to keep your aquarium, and your fish happy and healthy.