Helpful Tips For a Healthy Aquarium

When you decide you want to create your first freshwater aquarium (or any aquarium for that matter) what you are essentially doing is saying to yourself that you are willing to adopt the responsibility of taking care of these tiny alien creatures who will rely entirely on you for their health and happiness, and in exchange you get the pleasure of having a window into a world you otherwise would never see and, hopefully, derive years of pleasure from maintaining and observing this unique and beautiful world. So what are some good ways to help maintain the health of your new alien pets? Well we certainly want to arm you with the correct and necessary knowledge for taking care of your fish, so her are a few helpful tips for the new fresh water aquarium enthusiast!

Acclimate your Fish

Like all other living things fish are fragile, and require certain parameters be in harmony for their health to be maintained. Always do your research and find out what the water levels need to be for nitrate, ammonia and pH. If you buy them form a store feel free to ask a clerk, but it always helps doing your own research first. Be sure to test your aquarium water, the greater the differences, the longer you need to acclimate your fish.

Floating your fish

While the bag is still sealed, float your fish in they’re new aquarium for at least 15 minutes, but make sure not to exceed one hour. This will allow for temperature acclimation. Next, slowly add quarter cups of water from your aquarium into the bag. Repeat this process every five minutes until the bag is full. This brings the temperature and chemistry together slowly, allowing the fish time to acclimate to their new environment without causing any unnecessary shock or trauma from sudden change. Remove the bag from the tank then slowly pour off as much water as. Lower the bag back into the aquarium  allowing your fish enter their new found home.

Overcrowding your Aquarium

Too many fish crammed into a small space is unhealthy for them and can lead to fatalities. Check with a pet specialist for the right size tank for your fish. Overcrowding your new aquarium with fish can lead to low oxygen levels, and excess waste which will clog up your filter and degrade the water in your aquarium. So be sure not go crazy with indecision your first time through and put as many fish in your tank as possible, its very dangerous to them.

Pro Tip:

1 fish inch per gallon of tank.

Water Conditioning

It should go with out saying: water for fish, is the equivalent of air for humans. It needs to be within certain specific parameters to be considered healthy and thus  critical to your fish’s life span. Your average tap water comes with countless variables that require balance in order to support aquatic life. Use a de-chlorinating and biological aquarium supplement, these can be found at your local pet store or online. As always: do your homework first!

Maintenance Aquarium of pH Levels.

pH is the measurement of acid it your alkalinity of the water in your fish tank. You must absolutely purchase a pH test kit check the pH level in your aquarium. Depending on species your pH level needs to be between 6.6 and 7.8, this is the norm for most freshwater tanks (African cichlids have a higher pH). These levels will allow a natural, antiseptic effect to occur, guarding you fish from illness. Be sure to check the pH regularly for any fluctuations.

Aquarium Water Changes

You should change 25% of your tank water at least once a month or bi-weekly for higher populated tanks. This simple routine maintenance will allow for a clean and healthy ecosystem. Use a gravel vacuum to siphon out water and debris. This simple regular maintenance will keep stable water parameters, and promote the health of all of your fish.

Water Temperature

Water temperature is absolutely crucial! And changes in the water temperature in your tank can be dangerous to your fish. Remember this: never place your aquarium in a window or heating and air conditioning vents. This could easily trigger drastic temperature changes and make your fish sick or even kill them. Tropical freshwater fish require very specific temperature levels, 72F – 82F (22C-28C) depending on the species,be sure to purchase a heater for your new tank. It is a necessary piece of equipment.

Clean the Walls of Your Tank

Algae buildup the glass walls of your aquarium will give water a murky look to your tank, and depending on the type of algae, depletes oxygen, which can create health concerns for your aquatic life. So not only will it look ugly, but it is also dangerous for aquatic friends. Your plants can also experience harmful effect from algae build up, it will rob plants of much needed oxygen. Purchase scrub brushes with long handles and aquarium algae magnets to scrape off the gross excess algae from the aquarium walls.  Buy algae eaters.

Whatever your level of expertise in the aquarium world it is helpful to keep all the tips in mind so that you might maintain a healthy ecosystem for your fish and plants.

FOWLR Aquarium Build

FOWLR (fish only with live rock) fish tanks allow you the unique ability to stare in delight at several of one of the most remarkable and vivid aquatic aquatic species. These typically hostile however attractive fish usually would cause chaos in a restricted coral reef system with invertebrates and live reefs, however, in a live rock fish tank you can take the time to  appreciate their one-of-a-kind elegance without fear. One of the major benefits to this style of aquarium is that they require less maintenance, and less financial expense than coral aquariums!

Here is our recommendations for species and set up in your new FOWLR aquarium-

Beautiful and Dangerous

Puffer fish: Who doesn’t know or love these adorably hostile balloon like beauties? Slow moving and beak mouthed these funny little guys have the ability to inflate themselves to over twice their size when they feel threatened. Puffer fish utilize their strong jaw muscles to feed on crustaceans. They are also very personable fish and,overtime, will let their owners feed them out of hand.

Large Angelfish. Colorfully tough, angelfish have every unique swimming patterns, and offer almost neon like colors to your aquarium. They will also add to their ecosystem by maintaining algae while they graze on the rocks in their fish tank.

Wrasse:  Best understood for intense and captivating shades of color, extended bodies, and long pointy noses, wrasse will captivate anyone who gaze at them. Wrasse tend to clean their larger counterparts, picking off both dead tissue and parasites. Wrasse also tend to burrow into the sand when they sleep and at the sign of nearby danger.

Tangs: Referred to in layman’s terms as either Surgeon or Doctor fish, tangs have scalpel-esque spines, small scales, and vibrant colors. Their spines are used in defense when they feel threatened, and they love places to hide and plenty of room to swim. Tangs diet consist of dried seaweed and algae.

Trigger-fish: known for their astonishing triangular form and range of various shades of color and unique patterns these guys are a great species to add to anyone’s collection. Likewise, they swim in an uncommon style, utilizing both their dorsal and rectal fins to navigate themselves through the water. In order to maintain position in a rocky environments these crazy fish use an extremely rigid bone in their first dorsal fin which can be locked into place, hence the name ‘trigger-fish.’

Set-up Tips

  1. Choose an appropriately sized aquarium, ideally, we recommend a 6-foot setup or larger.
  2. Due to the size and quantity of the fish your new FOWLR aquarium will require an efficient biological filter. We recommend a wet/dry, or a sump-style filter.
  3. You will also need an efficient protein skimmer along with your filter in order to control nutrient. For smaller aquariums, the SeaClone skimmer is a great choice.
  4. You will need a lighting system that can provide 1 to 2 watts of light per gallon. If the room is not air conditioned keep the lighting on the lower side of what is  recommended.
  5. Your FOWLR aquarium will need to start with sand bed. Along with adding an overall  aesthetic appeal,  sand aids in filtration, buffering of pH, provides a habitat for burrowing fish, and help with stabilizing your live rock
  6. Before you add your fish you will need about 2-4 weeks for your live rock to cure with the filtration system. This will allow the ammonia and nitrate levels to zero out.
  7. Take time to stock up your aquarium, working your way up from least to most aggressive species one group at a time. Be patient and take several months to do this. It will let your fish adjust to their new environment at a comfortable pace. And will reduce the level of aggression as you add more and more species.

With every the various varieties readily available to the enthusiast today, a FOWLR fish tank could be an amazing and beautiful fish tank that you can be proud of and will bring years of pleasure and enjoyment..

How to set up your first freshwater aquarium!

Want to include a freshwater fish tank to your place? If so, awesome! However most people aren’t certain how to begin. Below is a easy to follow five step beginners guide to your first freshwater fish tank. The55-gallon fish tank arrangement is a good place to start your hobby and is what we have detailed out for those who wish to pursue a beautiful aquatic environment for their home. As you will certainly see, including a fish tank to your house is simple and well worth it for the years of pleasure you will certainly experience.

What you need to get started-


  • 55-gallon aquarium Aquarium stand
  • Aquarium canopy
  • Versa-Top 5 bags Natural Gravel
  • 200W Marineland Precision Submersible Heater
  • Vertical Thermometer
  • MarineLand Emperor 400 Filter
  • API Freshwater Master Test Kit
  • 16 oz. Chlorine Neutralizer


  • 4 Mopani Driftwood pieces
  • 3 Foreground plants
  • 2 Variety Packs
  • 3 Marineland 6″-18″ Artificial Plant Multi-Packs


  • 3-6 Bottom Dwellers
  • 3-5 Otocinclus Catfish (algae eaters)
  • Other peaceful community fish include: Danios, Rainbows, Tetras, Barbs, Rasboras, Angels, etc.

The Steps-

1) Establish your Aquarium and Stand, do not allow your aquarium to be put in a  place where it will be exposed to direct sunlight. Make sure there is at least 5 inches between the fish tank and the wall (you’ll want room for a filter) and also guarantee the stand is in a place where it will be flat and wont be tilted. And do yourself a favor: set it up where it is going to stay. You do not want to have to break the whole thing down and move it if you don’t have to.
2) Time to add the essentials, or foundation: water and gravel. Much like you would wash fruit before consumption make sure you do the same to your new gravel. Use water you know to be clean then feel free to add it, give it a slight slope to the back of the tank. After your gravel is in its time to fill the tank, you want to avoid displacing your gravel so use something like a plate to run the water over in order to avoid this. If there is chlorine in your water be sure to use a chlorine neutralizer.
  3) Now its time to install your filter and your heater. Set up your equipment, but you need to wait before you turn anything on yet. Assemble the power filter and hang it on the back of your new aquarium. Place the thermometer where you can easily see it, you want to be able to monitor the temperature with ease. Set up the heater and place it under the water level, and near the input to the filter.
4) Its time to exercise those interior decorating skills and add in your plants/décor. Make sure to keep your new ecosystem clean by washing all everything that enters the tank with clean water. Then add everything to your liking, the foreground and background plants, the driftwood and accents, rocks etc. give it 24 hrs for water temperature stabilize prior to including fish.
5) The fifth and final step: adding all your fish. To kick off the nitrogen cycle put in on y 10 inches of fish. After the fish have adjusted place them into the fish tank, do so without including the water they were delivered in. Now put your canopy and lights on, after one month test your nitrate and ammonia levels, if they are zero you can now start including the remainder of your fish, a couple of at a time, its recommended you do up to 55 inches overall. You can also utilize live nitrifying bacteria to rapidly develop an organic filtering process and also cycle your fish tank.

How To Build A Planted Aquarium For Beginners

Step by step guide to your first Planted Aquarium

Looking for a natural and beautiful underwater ecosystem that captures the eyes of all who gaze at it? Freshwater planted, or natural aquariums can do just this. They contain aquatic plants and fish that mirror natural aquatic environments, and it can be a very fulfilling and enjoyable hobby.

Natural fish tanks are typically much easier to maintain than other fish tank setups since the inhabitants of the ecosystem create a synergistic environment for them all to thrive. Fish supply co2 and nutrients for healthy plant development. In turn, water plants supply supplemental biological purification and oxygen to produce a tidy, healthy environment for fish. It’s a beautiful thing!

Recommended planted aquarium for beginners.

To ease you into to your new hobby here is a simple step by step process to follow for creating your own personal aquatic ecosystem.

We recommend start with a 20-gallon high aquarium, Aquarium Stand, and Fluorescent Strip light.

Plants and equipment we recommend for a beginner and it will look great:

Aquarium Plants-

  • 1 Green Myrio
  • 2 Rotalia Indica
  • 2 Ludwigia
  • 3 Annubias Barteri
  • 3 Java Fern
  • 4 Micro Sword
  • 4 Wisteria
  • 6 Cryptocoryne
  • 6 Annubias Nana

*NOTE there are also “plant packs” you can purchase with pre selected plants.


  • Tetra Whisper Power Filter power filter
  • 100W Marineland Precision Submersible Heater
  • Coralife Digital Thermometer
  • 2 – 15.4 lb bags Seachem Flourite™
  • 24″ Floramax Plant Growth Lamp
  • 3 Driftwood
  • 16 oz Stress Coat® Plus
  • Test Kit
  • Flourish Liquid Plant Pack
  • 250 ml Seachem Flourish™ Excel

Some fish we recommend:

  • Albino Aeneus Cory Cats
  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami
  • Rummynose Tetras

Now that we have covered what you will need to start, lets dive in and go through all the necessary step get your aquarium up and running.

Planted Aquarium Setup

We have a guide for aquarium setup

  • Set up your aquarium and stand.
  • Add a high quality, mineral-rich substrate (this is the foundation for long-term success).
  • Rinse plant substrate well before placing in aquarium.
  • Fill aquarium with de-chlorinated water and install filter and heater.

Planted Tank PH and Hardness

You will certainly want to monitor these as your aquarium evolves, and monitor often after initial set up. Make sure the pH is between 6.5 and 7.5 by using a water conditioner. This is the healthy and appropriate range for both your fish and your plants. Use Reverse Osmosis water and re-mineralize with Seachem Equilibrium when dealing with hard water issues.

Planted Lighting Set Up

Do yourself a favor and grab a plant lamp to replace the usually subpar stock light that comes with your aquarium hood, this will set you up for success and your plants will grow healthy. And if you decide to go with plants that have “higher light requirements” then you will want to use two strips. Your plants are a large part of what make your aquarium pop, so we should take the time care for them properly.

Add Your Plants

It is crucial that you let your aquarium establish itself for a few weeks, usually about 2-3 before you add your plants. Once you are all ready to go start with the foreground of your aquarium and add in short growing plants to the foreground and add plants in ascending order to fill the mid-ground and background.

Add Fish

Just like with plants, wait at least 2-3 week establishment marker in the nitrogen cycle before you begin to add your fish.  Don’t add to many all at once or you may have trouble if   The fish we listed above will all do just fine in this tank, and we would recommend you do a school of about 6-12 for this size of tank, the fish are here to compliment the surrounding plants and environment, usually fish are the main attraction, but here its is the underwater forest we are after.


In order to sustain their health and growth your plants require added nutrients. Carbon (C02) is a very important and essential nutrient for developing plants which your fish will provide but to get robust growth you may need to supplement C02. There are yeast based, pressurized, and aerosol systems.  As well as liquid C02 however, this is not as effective as gas C02.  There are micro-nutrients your plants need in addition to C02.  API Leaf Zone or Flourish are good options. Just remove the carbon from the filter so you don’t remove them. Always follow the manufacturers recommendations to maintain your beautiful plants. 

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.