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Subscribe ARTICLE: Starting an aquarium
Fish_Tank
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Starting a new aquarium is an exciting experience, if you do it right. There are many things you have to do to make your aquarium stay healthy and your fish happy. First lets go through the things you will need.

1 Tank
2 Stand
3 Filter
4 Heater
5 Light
6 Aquarium safe gravel and Decoration

Of course there are many other things to buy but these are the most important so lets go through each of these pieces of equipment separately.

1. The Tank: This is obviously the most important pieces of equipment since, if you don't have a tank, where are you gonna put the fish? There are several things to consider when purchasing your tank.

Size. This is very important as it governs the amount and size of the fish you can put in it. The size of the tank is also governed by how much room you have in your house. I say get the largest tank your house and your budget will allow you. You'll never regret it
Weight. A fully setup fish tank with water, gravel rocks and ornaments weighs a lot. Make sure your floors will hold the weight. For larger tanks, it is a good idea to get your builder to check you floors to make sure they will hold the weight. Of course, this isn't a problem if you have concrete floors.
Budget. You may have a huge house and concrete floors, but if you don't have much money, your not going to get far are you? A large fish tank can initially cost a lot to set up, but after that, is very cheap and highly satisfying. If you don't have a lot of money, I suggest looking through your local classifieds paper or joining a local aquarium society or club. There is always someone wanting to sell his or her tank for various reasons (i.e. moving house etc)

2. The stand: This is a very important piece of equipment. The aquarium you buy may already come with a stand, you may want to build one yourself or you might even have something you want to put your new aquarium on. Just remember, what ever you put your aquarium on, make sure it can hold the weight. Most household furniture isn't strong enough to hold an aquarium and may bow or even break under strain; also, Your stand needs to be level, so keep that in mind.
3. The Filter(s): Filters are very important, they are a piece of equipment no aquarium should be without (excluding tanks under 5 gallons (~20 liters) as these sized tanks are quite hard to keep cycled (i.e. To maintain a balanced micro-flora ecosystem within your tank). Basically a filters primary job is to filter particulate matter out of the water column and provide ample space for nitrifying bacteria to grow, which metabolise ammonia and nitrite. When buying your filter, you need to make sure it is suitable for your size tank. No point in owning a six foot tank and using a weak and small filter is there? When you buy your filter, take a look at its flow rate and divide this into your tanks total volume. This will give you the turn over rate. It is a good idea to aim for around 7x turnover rate. For very large tanks, this may require 2 or more filters. Dont worry about going over as you can't really have too much filtration but you can have too much current. Stay away from under gravel filters (UGFs). Unless maintained properly, these filters are time bombs, the gravel clogs up with waste matter, current is slowed down dramatically in areas of the gravel, and anaerobic bacteria start to thrive in these places as oxygen levels are minimal, and this could cause many major problems such as disease or an unstable pH. I recommend canister filters. Although they are generally more expensive, it gives exceptional filter media volume compared to most other types of filters. Whatever type of filter you get, make sure it is the right size for your aquarium.

4. The Heater: This is only needed if you are making a tropical aquarium. Fully submergible heaters are recommended. Cheaper brands might not last as long as some of the more expensive brands leading to disastrous results. When purchasing your heater, again there are guidelines to abide to. A general rule for the size your heater(s) should be is 5 watts per gallon (e.g. A 20 gallon tank this would be one 100 watt heater or two 50 watt heaters). Keep in mind different fish species require different temperatures, and it my recommendation to research specific fish requirements before buying them, in order to know if they are suitable for your aquarium.

5. Lighting: Apart from helping you see your fish, this also helps your plants grow. If you don't have any plants, then one full-length tube should suffice. However, if you have a planted aquarium, you will need a certain amount of light. A good level of light for most beginners plants is 2-3 watts per gallon of lighting. In a 30 gallon aquarium, that would a total of 60 to 90 watts worth of light tubes/bulbs. Plants also require a certain band of spectrum in their lighting in order to photosynthesise properly. 6700 kelvin tubes should fine with most aquarium plants.

6. Aquarium safe gravel and Decoration: The most important thing is to make sure they are aquarium SAFE. If you buy your ornaments etc from a pet shop, they should be safe. Make sure there are no sharp edges on the gravel and the ornaments. To make sure your gravel won't change your water chemistry, drop a few drops of vinegar on your gravel and see of it fizzes. If it does fizz, this means the gravel probably contains calcium carbonate within it, and this will raise your tank water pH, so it may be best to replace the gravel with another type.


So, you have all your equipment, your tank is full of water and everything is going so now your ready to go to your pet shop and buy a whole lot of fish and dump them in. WRONG. There is one important step in starting an aquarium that most beginners don't know about. The nitrogen cycle. This basically means the conversion of ammonia, to nitrite, to nitrate by tiny bacteria in your filter, gravel and on the glass and ornaments. What? youre saying, I have to be a bio chemist as well? I am afraid you do. Luckily for aquarists, these bacteria are already in the water; we just have to help them grow. Lets take a trip to the pet shop and have a look at the fish. WOW you say, look at all these exotic fish. Lets take a look at the Danios first. These fish are very hardy and active and make good cycling fish, assuming you have a decent size tank a group of 6 of these will cycle your tank. There are other cycle hardy fish but these fish are known to be very, very hardy. So, you walk out the store proudly carrying your new Danios, hop in the car drive home and dump them in. WRONG. You need to acclimatise them first. You can this by floating the bag in the water of your tank for about half an hour, then slowly let some water in. after that you can let them swim out of the bag and into their brand new home. Or you can do it by pouring the water in the bag and the fish into an appropriately sized container, and using air-line with a knot in it, to siphon water into the container, and having it at a flow rate of a drop a second. Do this for an hour, and the pH, GH, KH and Temperature should be approximately the same, and then it is time to put the fish into the tank, I recommend catching the fish in a net and placing them into the tank, as there may be water borne diseases in the water from the pet store. I also recommend having the tank lights off when introducing a new fish.

So, it's been about a month, you've been taking your water to the petshop to get it tested (or using your own test kits) and there is no ammonia and nitrite, and nitrate is showing and your Danios are still alive and kicking, I mean, swimming... Now you want some more fish? Well, just remember, research, research, and research! Use the Internet, books, magazines and make sure the fish you like are compatible and don't grow huge. Stock your tank slowly with 2 week waits in between buying 2-3 fish (with the acceptation if you are buying small schooling fish, then I recommend buying 6 at one time as they may become stressed if in smaller schools and be more e to disease). Don't overstock your tank and you'll have a successful aquarium. Now hopefully you'll have researched enough to know what a safe stock level is. It is important to remember that fish do grow. And small aquariums DO slow their growth (in some cases their internal organs may continue to grow!), and shorten their life so the die a slow and painful death. Remember that, and your fish will remain healthy and live long, active lives.

I should mention maintenance of your aquarium. It is a good idea to change the water. This does not mean all the water, but PARTIAL water changes. I recommend changing 10% 20% per week, or 20% - 30% every two weeks. It is also recommended to gravel vacuum half your gravel every week.

Bye for now and look after your fish .



p.s thanx gomer for your help


[span class="edited"][Edited by Fish_Tank 2004-06-11 05:38][/span]
Post InfoPosted 26-Jan-2006 11:23Profile Homepage AIM MSN Yahoo PM Edit Report 
Babelfish
 
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Good points. Hopefully will be added as a link in a sticky note .

^_^



Post InfoPosted 26-Jan-2006 11:23Profile Homepage AIM MSN PM Edit Report 
wish-ga
 
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Yes, the stand! I bought a stand and was so thrilled as my other one was a 2nd hand scrappy one. But the new one is so awkward to get the filter off the shelf that yesterday I was threatening to sell it as it is such a hassle.

I may have to look for a diff stand in the trading post...don't want to get rid of my Texas cichlid pair...I really, really don't it was just frustration that made me say such a terrible thing.

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Post InfoPosted 26-Jan-2006 11:23Profile PM Edit Report 
Gomer
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Anytime mate.

Good article. :88)

-- Gomer
Post InfoPosted 26-Jan-2006 11:23Profile MSN PM Edit Report 
Fish_Tank
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thanx for the comments guy I hope it has been a help to someone
Post InfoPosted 26-Jan-2006 11:23Profile Homepage AIM MSN Yahoo PM Edit Report 
XxxxMaddawgXxxx
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Great Article
Post InfoPosted 26-Jan-2006 11:23Profile PM Edit Report 
Alex
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yeah very well written


''All the clown fish and yellow tangs in the world cant save you now!''
Post InfoPosted 26-Jan-2006 11:23Profile MSN PM Edit Report 
craig_w
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very well written /:'

Dont feel bad I confuse myself too
everyone loves the almighty spork queen
Post InfoPosted 18-Mar-2006 18:34Profile PM Edit Report 
eogle
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good article

-Eric
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Post InfoPosted 08-Apr-2006 08:47Profile PM Edit Report 
DouglasFir
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EditedEdited by DouglasFir
Great artcile - thanks!
Post InfoPosted 19-Jun-2006 23:33Profile PM Edit Report 
wottond
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good starter article for the beginner ...speaking from experience the more info you get before you start the better...making mistakes isn't always the best way to learn...pretty hard on the fish !!!!!
Post InfoPosted 29-Oct-2006 08:13Profile PM Edit Report 
marisun
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EditedEdited by marisun
very well written article for those who are interested in starting a aquarium. I would recommend to anyone.

McCollum
Post InfoPosted 18-Mar-2007 20:35Profile PM Edit Report 
Fishrockmysox
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great article!!

10G- 6 Zebra Danios, 1 Upside Down Catfish
20G- 1 Goldfish
72G(maybe95)- Need Stock suggestions
Post InfoPosted 18-Apr-2007 03:35Profile AIM PM Edit Report 
museuz
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Yep, I agree. Your article is simple to understand and straight to the point. I read the article a couple of times ever since I bought my tank a few months ago, and my tank has been successful so far.
Post InfoPosted 23-Apr-2007 02:57Profile AIM PM Edit Report 
ScottF
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EditedEdited by ScottF
Thanks alot for the info. We just picked up our first aquarium starter kit, got everything together, filled, filtering is happening, heater is on.

I will pick up a few plants and some minor decor at the pet shop tomorrow, and begin work on this cycling deal. My 5 yr old is nuts to get some new critters in there but we'll make him be patient while we take our time!

Great read, thanks!

Post InfoPosted 29-May-2007 00:23Profile PM Edit Report 
platy boy
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wow thanks for bringing the article back up it was great

/:'

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Post InfoPosted 29-May-2007 01:46Profile PM Edit Report 
WaterPixie
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FANTASTIC articel, really well written, simple to follow and understand even for a dummy like me

Water Pixie!
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Post InfoPosted 19-Jul-2007 03:04Profile Homepage PM Edit Report 
Mint805
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female usa
Great article! Cant wait to finally get some fish swiming in my tank.
Post InfoPosted 08-Aug-2007 18:58Profile Homepage PM Edit Report 
acgail
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Thanks for the article..it will be a big help in setting up my tank.
Post InfoPosted 25-Oct-2007 00:30Profile PM Edit Report 
superlion
 
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I just skimmed your article, looks good. One thing to do with setting up a tank that I didn't see (maybe I missed it) was a mention of the very important issue of placement (besides the floor being strong enough) - ie. don't set it right in front of a window or you'll have algae, and don't put it right where someone's going to collide with it and make a big mess, etc.

><>
Post InfoPosted 25-Oct-2007 00:56Profile Homepage PM Edit Report 
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