Month: September 2018

The Ultimate New Aquarium Set Up Guide

Ready to dive into your first aquarium?

Great! Fish tanks are an excellent way to bring a lively and dynamic element to your home. Think about it, does anyone really hate looking at colorful fish
elegantly making their way through beautiful and vibrant displays of reef plant and rock? Not
likely. If anything, an aquarium does nothing short of fascinate and intrigue us, it is a glimpse
into (what me as well consider) an alien world. And caring for a freshwater or marine fish tank
is both satisfying and tough. However, success with your new hobby will be greatly determined
by how much research you decide to do before getting started. And it is STRONGLY
recommended that you do your homework and gain some knowledge before going out and
dropping the cash on your first tank just because you are excited to get going in your new found
obsession. It’s vital to contemplate the concerns of owning a fish tank and tackling the duties
necessary to succeed in this exciting and fascinating hobby.

What Question Do You Need To Ask Yourself Before Picking an Aquarium?

1. What kind of fish do you find your self most attracted to? And what species can cohabitate
with them?
2. What size of fish tank is suggested for them? A general rule of thumb is 1 adult fish inch per gallon excluding algae eaters.
3. What sorts of purification, lights, environment, and accessory /tools are required
in order for all of them to prosper?
4. What feeding and upkeep is called for to maintain health and balance in their ecosystem?
5. Most importantly, are you ready to sacrifice the resources needed to maintain your in home
aquarium: time, money, research?

It’s wise to understand some “fish tank fundamentals.” Here are some guidelines or checklist to consider
when establishing your fish tank:

Establishing A New Aquarium: Checklist

  • Aquarium Size –  A general rule of thumb for beginners is the bigger the tank the better.  There are less water fluctuations with larger tanks but no less than 20 gallons for freshwater and 55 gallons for saltwater
  • Location – Place your tank somewhere sturdy where it will not be knocked down. Ideally on a Stand or Furniture built for an aquarium
  • Filtration – Choose suitable and nice filter that should, at the very least, offer biological and mechanical filtration
  • Heating – You will also require a heating unit and thermometer. Make sure the heating system provides at least 3-5 watts per gallon. A 50-gallon container would certainly call for a 150-250 watt heating unit
  • Aquarium cover – Pick an aquarium cover or hood that properly accommodates the fish tank residents and fits the tank properly.  Higher quality lighting can hang above or on the edges of the tank eliminating the need for a cover but expect to add water more.
  • Lighting If you plan to add plants you will want a full spectrum light  but if you don’t pick a lighting that fits the tank properly.  With LED there are many lighting options for you to choose.
  • Water Conditioner – If existent in your water supply, – A conditioner will certainly be required to eliminate chlorine as well as any metallic presence in your fish tank.  You can buy testing kits to see what is in your water or bring a sample to most local fish stores.
  • Bacteria – Aquarium starter bacteria such as API quick start for freshwater or Instant Ocean BIO-Spira Live Nitrifying Bacteria for saltwater aquariums.  For those who want to go cheap: unwashed – rocks, gravel, decorations old filter from an established tank can work too. *If you do the cheap method make sure they do not dry out at any point or were exposed to chlorinated water when they were removed from the tank.  Also note that anything bad from the old tank might hitch a ride into your tank.
  • Aquarium Bling – Now that we have made this far get ready to highlight your aquarium with plants and decorations. These serve multiple purposes. Providing places to hide, hiding aquarium equipment, adding to the overall aesthetic of your tank, and allowing to add your personal creative flair.
  • Plants – if you choose to grow live plants there are additional considerations which we will cover in our live plant guide.
  • Cleaning and maintenance – Make sure to have a gravel siphon vacuum and algae cleaner/scraper.  As well as a 5 gallon bucket.  (Your algae eaters can only eat so much.)

How To Set Up your new Aquarium.

  • Wash/ rinse everything with water (No SOAP!) that is going into the tank, even the gravel or sand.  The exception is for saltwater tanks with any live rock.  Helpful tips: Rinse gravel so the water is clear using two 5 gallon buckets with one with holes drilled in the bottom.  That way you can pour your gravel in one with the holes and rinse with water without losing any gravel and the other bucket holds the drained water.  If you are rinsing outside then you can use one bucket.  To Rinse Sand: you have to fill and tilt the bucket so water drains off and eventually runs clear. Typically 5 mins.
  • It is wise to have the tank exactly where its going to be during the entire set up process, this way you will not be forced to move it once it is full and thus much heavier.
  • Start with filling your tank 75% of the way, set up filtration, heating system, thermometer, and any decorations desired. Once everything is in place continue to fill the rest of the tank, making sure to leave ½ – 1 inch worth of space from the rim of the tank.
  • This is where you begin you finally get to “turn everything on.” Filtration, heater, add necessary conditioners, lighting etc.
  • IMPORTANT!  Test your water for an established Nitration cycle before adding any fish.  Some novice hobbyist will add fish right away after setting up their tank for the first time.  If the tank hasn’t cycled it can kill your fish.  Sometimes it is worth buying a single feeder fish to cycle your tank and if it dies you are not out as much.
  • And the very last part is always saved for best. Buying your fish and getting them acclimated to their new home! NOTE: don’t put in too many at once. 
  • Monitor your nitrate and ammonia levels regularly (Remember that test kit we talked about earlier) because high levels are almost always fatal to fish. While the tank is still new small frequent water changes should keep these in check.  Once the tank has an established cycle you can lessen the frequency of water changes to every 1-2 weeks with only about 15-20% of the water being changed at a time.
  • You now have a proper foundation from which to conduct your research and decide on which fish you want to decorate your living space with.


Types of Aquariums

Fresh Water Tropical Aquarium

This is the “conventional” direction people take when it comes to starting out in the hobby. looking into the kinds of aquariums offered? fresh water tanks are typically the very first to be brought up, and is usually where we get our feet “wet.”

The water temperature is usually between 72- 84 Degrees Fahrenheit (22-29C). Freshwater Tropical aquariums are generally much easier to keep and do not require the same amount of maintenance as other types of aquariums. Making this fish tank a great place for beginners. Besides basic water conditioners, i.e. chlorine, there is no great laundry list of chemicals to add, as well as no need for expensive light fixtures or complex aquarium equipment.

Another great aspect of tropical fish (especially in terms of being a beginner) is that they are generally less expensive when compared to marine fish. As with most things however there are expensive routes to go if your bank account is not an issue. But on the whole, the majority of freshwater fish are extremely affordable. Freshwater fish are also more resilient when it comes to variable water parameters and are bit tougher in terms to any changes in their environment. The Freshwater Tropical hobby offers a vast selection of fish in which to choose, and will be your safest bet in starting out and before you make the transfer to marine fish

Coldwater Aquariums

As the title suggests, a coldwater aquarium is just that, a fresh water aquarium that has no real temperature requirements (think of koi or goldfish ponds as the best example). They can be kept at room temperature or about 70 degrees. The everyday gold fish is the most common/best example of a coldwater aquarium species. It is by far the simplest type of aquarium to set up and maintain as it only requires adding the proper equipment and enjoying the lengthy lifespan of your goldfish. Outside of the everyday goldfish, Coldwater freshwater fish may do a little more financial damage when you start shopping around for more exotic species since they are not commonly sold.

Note:  For some species such as trout the temperature has to be chilled by a chiller system to 55-60 degrees (depending on species) which are much more advanced form of coldwater tanks.

Marine or Saltwater Aquariums

Marine saltwater tanks are the next step up and require a saltwater mix for the fish to survive. Salt must first be purchased and mixed before adding water to the tank. Marine style tanks do offer us some of the most breathtaking aquatic scenery we can get out hands on,  with colorful corals,  beautiful fish, and wonderful invertebrates its easy to see why we want to build and house a marine aquarium. However, saltwater species are usually come with a significantly higher price tag in comparison to their freshwater counterparts, and marine aquarium equipment is also more expensive due to keeping additional saltwater filtration and if you grow reef coral additional trace supplements are required. Saltwater fish are also more sensitive to variable water conditions, they sometimes require specialized diets, and just finding a supplier can also be a difficult first hurdle.

Before taking the plunge into marine aquariums we strongly suggest that you sharping your skills and gain your knowledge in caring for freshwater tropical fish. Remember, patience is a virtue, And once you have gained enough experience in the freshwater world you will eventually be ready to level up and move into saltwater fish.

Brackish Aquariums

This is the least common among all of these aquariums we have discussed, and are not where a novice should begin. What is brackish? Kind of an odd term for sure. But brackish water is a mixture of saltwater and freshwater. It’s not freshwater, but not as strong as marine saltwater. Imagine where the Mississippi meets Gulf of Mexico, thats brackish water. There is not a wide variety of fish in this particular aquatic niche, and the most common you will find is the “Freshwater Puffer.” To be perfectly honest people do not generally have much success with brackish aquariums due to their water conditions being hard to maintain and most of the fish available for brackish aquariums are not properly housed before they switch hands. Which can cause the fish to be near death or over stressed.

There are obviously more than a few options available to us when it comes to finding the perfect in home aquatic experience. And all them have there draws and drawbacks and require a certain amount of care to maintain. As previously state we recommend that beginners start with freshwater aquariums as they are:

  • easy to maintain
  • inexpensive
  • have many fish to choose from
  • Provide the right foundation for a novice to gain their knowledge

Hopefully this guide has helped you in your jouney to your new fish tank. Feel free to browse our site and guides for more helpful fish tips and supplies.