Setting up a tropical fish tank: The basics
Keeping tropical fish can be a truly pleasurable hobby but is not necessarily an easy option. There is a lot of maintenance involved in caring for tropical fish; however, setting up your fish tanks properly in the first instance can make the whole process easier in the long run.
Unfortunately setting up your tank is not a simple case of choosing a tank and filling it with water and fish. Before you bring your fish home from the store or breeder you will need to prepare your aquarium properly and this could take days or even weeks. Your first priority is choosing a tank. When choosing the size and shape of your tank, aside from considering the space and location you intend to put it in, you will also need to do some research concerning the type of fish you want to keep in it. Some fish will require a larger amount of space and therefore a bigger tank. Although buying bigger tanks can be expensive they also have the advantage of being generally easier to clean.
You can buy your fish tanks in separate parts (base, tank, hood, filter, lighting / heater) but many people now choose to buy the complete sets which are available from most pet stores. Whichever method you opt for you will need to choose between a glass or acrylic tank, both of which have their relative merits. Glass tanks are generally cheaper and a safe bet for people who are opting for a standard sized tank. Acrylic tanks are lighter and stronger but can be easily scratched and often cost more to repair.
When you set up your tank make sure you place it on a solid even surface. You can place foam or polystyrene underneath to help with this. As obvious as it sounds – make sure you have power outlets near your setup point as you don’t want to trip over any wires and damage your fish and tank. You will also need to keep your fish tank away from things which vibrate.
The next step is to set up the correct environment for your fish. Covering the base of the tank with rock or gravel will help with this as they will act as a natural filter. Make sure you use gravel specifically for fish tank use and rinse it with water before spreading a good few inches across the base. Healthy water is incredibly important as it will act as the life support system for your fish; add yours by pouring into a bowl inside the tank to avoid dispersing the gravel inside. In addition to an external or internal filter you may wish to use a filter boost. These work as a catalyst to speed up the growth of bacteria in the water which break down toxins, they can also be used to shorten the time needed to prepare your aquarium. Depending on your filtration system you may also choose to invest in an air pump.
A thermometer will help you monitor the temperature in your tank which can be controlled by an in-built or add-on heating/lighting system. Another item which may not be included in fish tank set up kits is a hood. These are essential for keeping things in and out of your tank and will also home your any internal filter and heating equipment so make sure the one you choose has space to accommodate your equipment.
Just like preparing your own home your final step for tank preparation may be engaging in a little interior décor. If you choose to include plants in your tank make sure they are compatible with any fish you will be keeping and rinse them thoroughly before bedding in your base. Be sure to rinse any other decorations such as logs too; you don’t want anything nasty lurking in your tank before your swimming beauties take up residence.