Setting up a aquarium

The good thing about starting up a tropical freshwater tank is that its the best system for a beginner, because its relatively cheap and the fish are quite hardy. Saltwater fish are very expensive, and you will need a lot of knowlegde and technique.

When you have bought a tank you must remember these points:
Wash the gravel: Put it in a bowl, place it under a running tap and keep stirring the gravel until the water that flows from it becomes clean. Really get in there and nead that gravel, get it as clean as possible.
Decorating material: Wash the rocks as well. If you have a background secure it firmly.
Clean the tank: Clean the tank, check for leaks, then empty it.
Everything is correct: before you fill in the tank, check that everything is right – filter, heater, light, thermostat.
Knowledge: I bought several books when things started going wrong, and I recommend that you look extensively around other Tropical Fish websites as well.

Now that you all ready to jump on the bandwagon, these steps should help you:

Add the gravel: Make sure that theres enough, because the plants will want to root. If you want an underground filter, use at least a depth of 5 cm at the front and rising to double at the back.
Add the water half way: Now you can add any plants easily. Best to put the taller ones at the back, but its all in the eye of the beholder. Make sure that the plants have enough gravel to root, and cutting might be needed. Don’t disturb the gravel, use a plate or an object to weaken its force. It is probably best if you use a hose.
Install the filter: Attach it so no plants or rocks are in the way. Attach heater and thermostat firmly.
Add the rocks: If you use a large rock, make sure that it is firmly bedded in so that it can never topple other.
Add the water all the way: Watch out as well, because if you fill it right to the brim, then later you want to change the arrangement and put your hands in – whoops!
Important!! Condition the water: Before adding any fish, you must get rid of all the chlorine from the water. Chlorine/Chloramine can damage the fish , and there are a lot of “tap water conditioners” on the market, so buy one NOW!!
Turn it on: Set up you lighting system if you have one, You should get a noise and a flow of bubbles when you turn the filter on, and then to a more steady flow. Before adding any fish, let the filter run for 5-7 days, so any last chlorine can escape. Also, you may notice that there maybe a lot of bubbles clinging to the glass – this is because tap water is pressurised, and as cold water is warmed and left in the aquarium, gasses are released. Let these dissipate, as they will disappear when aerated. Its not a bad idea to add a couple of flakes without the fish, to start off the Nitrogen Cycle before your fish arrive. Even better, take some water from an established aquarium, and plonk it in. If you can “nick” some media (gravel, decor, plants) will all be helpful. There’s no fixed limit there, as this will get the cycle going. If there are sick fish in it, obviously try to find different water. Also, “running in” a new aquarium in an established tank, will colonise it with beneficial bacteria. There is always the option of a “fishless cycle”, where ammonia is added to the aquarium. Make sure that the temperature is correct, at about 24C.
Add the fish!!: Add only a couple of fish to start off with. Use the Equalising method, by floating the fish using their bag. Leave them there for 15 – 20 minutes. Then release them.

One Response to Setting up a aquarium

  1. Sebastion says:

    Quite a few of the people have arealdy said that you should use gravel that may have been true when undergravel filters were the primary method of filtering an aquarium, but with modern filters, it’s not necessarily true any more. Without the undergravel filter plate, you can use either sand or gravel.There are several factors you should consider when planning your substrate, whether it is sand or gravel:1) plants the smaller grain size lets plants root better as long as the bed is deep enough2) grain size there still needs to be some circulation of water (with dissolved oxygen) into the substrate or anaerobic areas will accumulate harmful gasses which can later be released into your tank3) particle material true sand is particles of silica this can encourage growth of diatoms ( brown algae ) that use silica in building their external shell; cichlid sand contains particles of calcium which raise the pH of your tank; some marine sand is made up of crushed shell material that will also raise your pH you need to find a sand that is inert meaning it won’t dissove or react to change the chemistry of your water; there are sand products made for use in an aquarium4) tank inhabitants some fish and inverts like a sand bed for digging and hiding they’ll help you keep the bed stirred up5) ease of cleaning particles of food and fish waste don’t fall into voids in the sand they lay on top where it’s easier to see and remove themShould you decide to try sand, choose your material and grain size carefully and be sure to wash the sand before adding it to your tank. Very fine sand can be an irritant, so I’d go with a coarser grain size. I’ll provide some links with additional information, including one on cleaning/water changes with a sand substrate.

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