Where should I put my aquarium?
There are no hard and fast laws on where you should install an aquarium, however, there are a few things to avoid:
Direct sunlight should be avoided since it promotes algae development and may cause the tank to overheat in warmer weather.
Draughts, fumes, and aerosols, especially in open tanks or bowls Draughts in cold weather may cause a tropical tank’s temperature to decrease or fluctuate, both of which are undesirable. Cooking fumes might build an oily coating on the tank, preventing air exchange. Many aerosols (flysprays, for example) are very poisonous and should never be used near an aquarium.
Knocks and bumps, in addition to the apparent (but modest) danger of tank breaking, stress the fish and make them more susceptible to illness. Some fish may even die from shock, or they may dart about in the tank, risking harm, or even jumping out.
There are a few more aspects you should think about. For example, you don’t want to put your tank too near to electrical equipment since there’s always the risk of splashes and water spills. However, it will normally need to be near a power source in order to plug in the filter and so on. It is not a good idea to have an air-driven filter in a bedroom since the air pump might be loud. Finally, you’ll want your tank to be visible, such as in a living room, rather than hidden away in a room that’s seldom used.
What type of water should I use?
Tap water treated with a high-quality chlorine neutralizer is usually the best option. Tap water has a neutral to slightly alkaline pH (about 7.0 to 7.4), which is ideal for an aquarium. Although many fish, especially tropicals, live in somewhat acidic waters in their native habitats, most are content at or near neutral pH. (between 6.5 and 7.5). Remember that the fish you purchase at the supermarket are already housed in and adapted to the local tap water. Furthermore, since fish waste products make the water more acidic (lower pH), doing water changes with slightly alkaline water will assist to maintain a balanced pH. Finally, although chlorine is harmful to fish, it is added to tap water to kill pathogens (disease-causing organisms) and hence is helpful in this context. Of course, chlorine must be eliminated before adding water to the aquarium; this is done fast and simply using a chlorine neutralizer, often known as a water ager or water conditioner.
If your tap water is particularly alkaline, or if you depend on bore water, you may wish to mix in some rainwater. Rainwater is soft and mildly acidic in general. However, rainwater cannot be suggested without reservation for a variety of reasons. Rainwater in cities may be polluted by contaminants in the atmosphere, fallout, droppings on roofs where it is collected, and even particles dissolved from the insides of rainwater tanks. Also, for the reasons stated above, slightly alkaline water is preferable over acidic water as a baseline.
Spring water, filtered water, demineralized, softened, and reverse osmosis water are all possible options. These are almost never appropriate. Spring water often contains dissolved mineral salts that are unsuitable for fish husbandry. Most fish prefer filtered, demineralized, or RO water, and some softened water includes high amounts of salt. Some, though, may be beneficial. RO, demineralized, or highly filtered water, for instance, may be used instead of rainfall to soften and reduce the pH of inappropriate tap or well water. If your water filter merely comprises carbon and/or a mechanical filter, the water generated will be suitable for use with fish.
If you are using water that is different from the water used at the shop for any reason, you must acclimate the fish to the new water carefully. Place the fish in a bucket with the water they came in, or keep them in the bag for about 2 hours and gradually add a bit of your tank water at a time until the fish are mostly in tank water. They may then be placed in the aquarium.
Do I need to add anything to my water?
The chlorine neutralizer is the most critical item to add to fresh tap water. Why should chlorine be neutralized? Many individuals may claim that they have raised fish in tap water without using a water conditioner and had no difficulties, but they are perplexed when their fish die after a few months for no apparent reason! Putting a fish in tap water with an average concentration of chlorine once or twice will do no significant harm; nevertheless, the effects of chlorine are cumulative, and frequent exposure will cause gill damage and anaemia, finally leading to death. Higher chlorine concentrations, which may be utilized in the water supply on occasion, may cause more damage, stress, or even death, especially in sensitive species, and chlorine can also destroy filter microorganisms, resulting in a fast fall in water quality. For these reasons, it is strongly advised to apply a chlorine neutralizer anytime additional tap water is introduced, however, just the water that is being added must be treated, not the full tank capacity.
Chlorine will ultimately disperse from standing water in a bucket, and this technique of aging water is still extensively used. It does, however, have certain disadvantages. Water changes must be arranged in advance, and it is difficult to neutralize chlorine in this manner in the event of an emergency water change. Furthermore, when larger quantities of chlorine are present, the time necessary for dissipation is longer and more difficult to quantify.
If chloramines (a chlorine-ammonia complex) are present in your water supply (and their usage is increasing quickly), standing the water will not remove them. A basic chlorine neutralizer will break the chlorine-ammonia link and eliminate chlorine, although a significant ammonia concentration may remain. Water conditioners that remove both chlorine and ammonia are available for use in areas where chloramines are prevalent. These items are highly suggested if you are unclear about what is in your water. Even if chloramines are not present, using more modern water conditioners is still a good idea since they can regulate ammonia generated by the fish.
There is nothing more you need to add to your water except chlorine neutralizer. As previously stated, adjusting pH or water chemistry is frequently unnecessary. As a disease preventive, you may want to add a half dosage of a broad-spectrum drug; nevertheless, the greatest preventative is just maintaining adequate water quality. If you have algae issues, you may use an algicide, or if you are growing live plants, you can use a liquid fertilizer. There are several different treatments available to assist enhance water clarity and chemistry, as well as drugs to treat illness. However, rather than applying them arbitrarily, it is better to figure out what would best fit your individual requirements.
What temperature should the water be at?
Before introducing fish to a tropical aquarium, ensure sure the temperature has stabilized and is right. A temperature of 26°C is optimal for most species. Most tropical fish prefer temperatures between 24°C and 28°C, and most may tolerate temperatures between 22°C and 30°C. Aiming towards the center allows them the greatest flexibility on very hot or cold days. To measure the temperature, use an aquarium thermometer rather than the heater’s internal thermostat. See this page for additional information about heaters. When making modest water changes (25% or less) on a tropical tank, it is typically unnecessary to modify the water temperature since the impact on ambient temperature when adding slightly colder water to a tank is negligible. Using water from a hot tap or that has been cooked in a kettle is strongly discouraged since it contains harmful dissolved gases and metals! Allow the tap water to get to room temperature before using it, or heat it with an aquarium heater.
Temperature is less crucial for coldwater fish, but it should not be overlooked entirely. Allow the water to reach room temperature before setting up your tank or doing a significant water change on a particularly cold day, or acclimate the fish by floating them in a bag for around half an hour. On really hot days, the temperature should not surpass 30°C. Make sure your aquarium is adequately aerated, particularly on hot days, since warmer water contains less oxygen.
What can I decorate my tank with?
Any rocks, gravel, plants, and decorations purchased from a reputable aquarium retailer are acceptable to use in the tank, but any rocks you gather yourself should be avoided. Slate, quartz, granite, and silica-based sandstone are OK; however, limestone (including shells and coral skeletons), marble, and rocks with metallic veins are not. Garden pebbles must be handled with caution since they may have absorbed pesticides and other chemicals. Before using them in aquaria, soak them for several weeks to ensure that any toxins have been leached out. Glass, plastic, fired ceramics, and polyresin decorations are acceptable as long as they are not painted (or if you know the paint is non-toxic).
Wood is typically not acceptable since many varieties of wood may seep out harmful sap and is, in any event, quite dirty. Although aquarium driftwood is not toxic, it often leaches tannins into the water, turning it a murky yellow for months after its installation.
Live plants may also be used to beautify an aquarium, although they are difficult to cultivate and are not required (see “Should I have live plants” ). Use the utmost care while collecting plants from natural streams. They often do not adapt to aquariums and hence die off, decreasing water quality; alternatively, they may harbor disease organisms or pests.
What sort of gravel?
This is essentially a personal preference, and numerous good gravels are available. In general, coarse sand or fine pebble with a grain size of 2 – 4 mm is preferable. Because food particles cannot fall between the grains, these smaller gravels make it simpler to grow plants and are cleaner. Slightly coarser gravels (up to 6mm grain size) are also viable, albeit a thicker coating may be required to attach plants. Larger pebbles, glass marbles, “crystals” (really colored glass), and colored gravels are also okay to use, but be cautious: these coarser substrates may trap uneaten food particles between the grains, causing aquarium pollution, and they are also inappropriate for growing live plants.
What type of fish should I put in first?
Because a freshly built-up aquarium includes relatively little filter bacteria, you should begin by introducing just a few hardy fish. One or two little goldfish or a few smaller fish (e.g. danios) are a nice place to start with cold water. Because most coldwater fish are reasonably resilient, species selection is not critical.
In a tropical setting, your first fish will be determined by two factors. First, you’ll need resilient fish, and then you’ll need fish that will get along with the species you finally want to retain. It is critical to consider the sort of fish you want before adding any since not all are suitable. If this is your first tropical tank, you will most likely want to maintain as many diverse species as possible. In this instance, you should look for communal fish, which are neither territorial, predatory, or violent.
Livebearers, especially swordtails, platies, and mollies, are likely the best first communal fish. These are tough, tranquil, and colorful fish that like slightly alkaline water (which you will usually have in a newly set up aquarium). Barbs, danios, tetras, gouramis, and rainbows are other wonderful starter fish. Many appropriate species may be found in these groupings; for additional information, consult our species guide.
Delicate species (e.g., certain tetra species, silver sharks, loaches), many cichlids (although some are not very aggressive and may be utilized), sharks, grunters, and other big or violent species, and catfish are typically not advised as initial fish for community tanks. Although many catfish are fairly resilient, most are algae eaters or scavengers, and there is frequently not enough for them to eat in a freshly set up aquarium.
If you want fewer but bigger and highly colored fish rather than communal fish, cichlids may be the fish for you. If you do decide to retain cichlids, do your homework on the species you want to keep and choose appropriate kinds. It is simplest and preferable to purchase these varieties of fish while they are little and allow them to grow up together. Because most are hardy, the least aggressive types are those you wish to plant initially. Allow them to settle in first, then progressively introduce the more aggressive species, finishing with the most aggressive. Only combine fish of comparable size.
It is recommended to begin with a portion of the number of fish that your tank will ultimately accommodate, no more than a quarter (ie if you intend to get about twenty fish, start with five or fewer). The tank will seem empty at first, but having a tank full of anxious and disease-prone fish is preferable! Increase the number of fish in your tank gradually over a few weeks to a few months. The filter bacteria will grow in proportion to the quantity of fish, but this takes time, so only add a few additional fish at a time. It will take a few weeks for the bacteria to establish and begin growing in your filter, so take particular care with feeding during this time, and don’t be startled if your water isn’t perfectly pure. See this page if your water has become murky or hazy.
How should I transport and acclimatize my new fish?
The fish will be packed in plastic bags with as little water and as much air as possible by the shop where you purchase them. Most fish may live in a bag like this for many hours on colder days, but tropical fish should not get chilly. On warmer days, cooling is not an issue, but the water will contain less oxygen and the fish will drown if left in the bag for an extended period of time. The water may also get quite heated very quickly: never leave a fish in a bag in your vehicle or in the sunshine! It is preferable not to transport fish in very hot weather, however short excursions in an air-conditioned car or utilizing an insulated container (e.g., an esky or foam box) should be OK. In any event, despite the fact that fish may live in the bag for respectable amounts of time, it is advisable to send them home as soon as possible to cause the least stress.
After you’ve taken the fish home, float their sack for roughly 15 minutes on top of your tank. This will enable the temperatures to return to normal. The fish may now be released if the water in your aquarium is of the same quality and composition as the water in the shop. If you are using rainwater, water that has been changed, or water that differs from stored water, it is recommended to gradually pour the water from your aquarium into the bag a cupful at a time over roughly 2 hours. This allows the fish to respond to the changing water quality.
If you have existing fish in the tank, feed them while you release the newcomers to keep them entertained. If you have aggressive fish, you may need to use some additional measures to ensure that the new arrivals are not harassed. Do not feed the new fish for at least 24 hours, and allow them plenty of space to settle in.
Are Air Pumps Necessary?
Fish, of course, need oxygen. However, an air pump is not always required to deliver oxygenation. It is a frequent misperception that the bubbles created by an air pump oxygenate water. In reality, relatively little oxygen enters the water from the bubbles.
The water surface is the primary location for gas exchange in an aquarium. A bigger surface area obviously allows more oxygen into the water, but how can filtering or aeration help?
Consider a stream or river: it is common knowledge that swiftly flowing waters are highly oxygenated, while motionless waters are often stagnant. The more the surface movement and circulation of water in an aquarium, the better the oxygenation. When bubbles from an air pump breach the surface, they contribute more oxygen than when they rise through an aquarium.
As they circulate the water and produce surface movement, most filters will offer enough oxygenation. An additional air pump will offer even more oxygenation, although it is typically not necessary.