Setting Up A Tank, for Dummies

Your first tank arrives home, possibly with a bag of fish, possibly not. Possibly with a kit-type collection of assorted lights, heaters, and filters, possibly not. What are you going to do with it all? This article is intended to provide you with instructions for setting up your first tank. I assume you want your new tank to be something to admire, and that the typical “starter kit” aquarium complete with bubbling plastic skeleton is not going to cut it. Instead, this approach will give you a showpiece aquarium; one that will be an attractive feature in a semi-formal living room rather than an eyesore in the family rumpus room. As such, it will be naturally aquascaped with hardy, attractive, and (most of all) living plants, and be supplied with a nice collection of attractive, peaceful fishes.

There are plenty of different ways to set up such a tank, and you will get other advice from other club members, but the method I will describe is reliable.

Well, first off, I hope you haven’t got a bag of fish yet. You need a couple of day’s preparation before you’re ready for that. Here’s also hoping that you got some good advice when you purchased your equipment on what to buy. If you purchased at a department store or a non-aquarium specialty stores, you may have been sold whatever that particular store wants to unload. You may therefore have to make another trip to the store to get some decent equipment; and I would highly recommend one of the local aquarium specialty stores (Riverfront, Pisces, etc.) over Walmart. Before setting up your aquarium, this is what you should purchase:

1) A tank (obviously enough). It should be of all-glass construction and should ideally be in the 25 to 50 gallon capacity range. Anything smaller does not provide enough capacity to provide a stable environment in the hands of a beginner, and is really too small for an effective living room display anyway. Anything larger is more expensive than what you are likely to want to spend on your first aquarium. However, you should be aware that four-foot fluorescent bulbs are considerably cheaper than the three-foot variety. Therefore, even though a four-foot tank is more expensive to buy than a three-foot tank, it is less expensive to light and (as discussed below) lights are a primary expense. You should therefore seriously consider getting a four-foot tank; the final expenditure will not be a great deal more after the cost of bulbs and light fixtures are added in. A tank that measures 48″x12″x18 is very nice in this regard, but the smaller 36″x12″x18″ size is more widely available and certainly does make for a nice display tank too.

2) An adequate light and hood assembly. This is the hardest item to find and possibly the most expensive item as well. The only hoods that are readily available for aquaria at a reasonable cost are those plastic aquarium hoods with the single fluorescent tube or a 20-watt incandescent fixture. They do not produce enough light for plants. At the very least, you need two full-length fluorescent tubes for a tank with plants, and even this will allow you to only keep a few shade-tolerant plant species. Most club members build their own multi-tube hoods using fluorescent shop fixtures. If you are handy with tools, this is highly recommended. Otherwise I would recommend getting at least two strip lights and a sliding glass aquarium cover. The aquarium cover is readily available at good aquarium stores but the strip lights may require a trip to Home Depot or Revy. Get full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs for your fixture. I would recommend the Philips Ultralume bulb as being an inexpensive and high-quality full-spectrum light. They are available in building supply depots with lighting departments, like Totem, Revy, Home Depot, etc. Other full spectrum bulbs (such as Vitalite) are also available in pet shops, but at a much higher cost. One of those pinkish-looking plant grow-lights is OK among the full-spectrum bulbs, but I would recommend that no more than half the bulbs above the tank be of this variety. I would not recommend those cheap warm-white or cool-white fluorescent bulbs; although inexpensive, they produce comparatively little light that is usable by plants. Neither would I recommend that a beginner use incandescent, halogen, or metal halide lighting. These lights have their place (I use all three myself) but they require special arrangements to deal with the heat they produce.

3) A heater. Any of the submersible or semi-submersible aquarium heaters are fine, but don’t get the cheapest one available. Reliability is important here. You will want a heater rated for 100 watts to 150 watts.

4) A biological filter. However, I wouldn’t recommend an undergravel filter for this tank. They are OK, but their drawbacks out-weigh their good points. They are difficult to maintain in the long term, require their own air or water pump, and should only be run in a tank with a separate mechanical filter. The need for a separate power supply for the undergravel filter plus another separate mechanical filter adds both cost and complexity to the tank. A single motorized biological filter unit that integrates both biological and mechanical filtration is simpler, less expensive, and much easier to keep clean than an undergravel filter. Mechanical biological filters are relatively new on the market, but are now widely available. They can either hang on the back of the tank, or be a canister. Most cost effective is a hanging filter. These come equipped with a supplementary biological filter module such as a biowheel (a waterwheel-like attachment) or a drip plate. Your filter should have a flow sufficient to turn over the tank’s volume about three times per hour. So a 33-gallon tanks needs a 100 gph filter. The real-world flow rate will be about 75% of the rated flow listed by the manufacturer.

5) A separate mechanical filter if an undergravel filter is being used. If a power biological filter is used, these are unnecessary since the power filter will have its own mechanical filtration module.

6) An air pump or water pump, but again only if an undergravel filter is used. A power filter comes with its own motor.

7) Fine gravel or coarse sand. The darker the colour the better. Get at least a couple of inches worth. That’s about one pound of gravel per gallon of tank capacity. A little more is better. If you wish, a cup or two of a substrate additive like laterite or earthworm castings can be mixed with the bottom third of the sand. Feel free to leave this step out however, as this is an advanced technique which I would hesitate to recommend to a beginner. Not only do you run the risk of the sand going anaerobic, substrate additives make for a real mess when you finally tear down the tank. Do not use a substrate additive if you plan to have only a few plants.

8) A very solid stand. Your finished tank will weigh over 10 pounds per gallon of capacity. Remember that.

9) Rocks or driftwood for decoration and the security of the fish.

10) A scraper to clean algae off the glass. Both the magnetic pad kind and a razor blade scraper should be acquired.

11) At least one nice soft net. Both a big “trapping” net and a smaller “herding” net are good to own.

12) A good thermometer. Make sure you examine all the thermometers in the store and find one that is reading the same as the other ones. The liquid-crystal stick-on thermometers are good, but can’t be moved once in place.

But what you don’t need yet is livestock (fish and plants).

Now, to set everything up, first wash the gravel and rocks in water only (no cleansers) and rinse out the tank as well. Pour in the gravel and then the rocks. Hang the heater, thermometer, and filter on the back of the tank, but don’t plug them in yet. Fill the tank slowly with cold or lukewarm water, trying not to blow the gravel around, while watching for leaks and making sure your stand is holding up to the weight. After the temperature of the water equals the room temperature, plug in the heater and adjust it so its indicator light just comes on. Plug the filter in too. Allow a few hours for the temperature to settle and adjust the heater if necessary. You want a temperature to stabilize at about 25C. It will likely be the next day before you can set a stable tank temperature.

Now, after things have been running and have been stable for another day or so (no sooner), buy some plants. I would definitely include the two plant species Cryptocoryne affinis and Java fern (Microsorium pteropus) because they are very easy to grow. Plant the C. affinis as you would any terrestrial plant, but tie the Java fern to your driftwood with some black thread. Do not bury the Java fern`s roots. You can buy these species in all good aquarium stores, or club members can always be found that have some to spare. If you have at least two full-length fluorescent bulbs (as you should have) you can also include some Vallisneria, since these plants are also hardy and easy to keep, but they do require a good deal of light. There are many other species of plants suitable for the beginner, but be careful if you don’t know which ones are suitable. Make sure that the plants you chose are actually aquatic plants, not terrestrial plants that were stuck under water by unknowledgeable or unscrupulous storeowners. If in doubt about a plant species, ask another club member for advice, or take one of the plant books out of the library to help your identification. Make sure you spend enough money on plants that you get a good number (club auctions are really good for getting plants in bulk). One Cryptocoryne affinis or Vallisneria plant per gallon of water and a good handful of Java fern makes for a good first planting. But don’t be discouraged if your plants die back immediately after planting; they will grow back. Cryptocoryne affinis is notorious for doing just that. Vallisneria is also known for languishing for a few months after planting, before starting to grow with abandon. Give your plants the time they need to get established.

After the plants are planted and the tank has sat with its filter running for a few days, you can add the first few fish; but only a very few (no more than three). Make sure that these first fish are not territorial, because if they are, they will stake their claims before the other fish get into the tank and attempt to drive off the new-comers when they arrive. Corydoras catfish make good first residents. You must now be patient. The purpose of adding these first few fish is to provide a source of ammonia to mature your biological filter. The biological filter requires time to grow a good culture of bacteria that will oxidize fish ammonia and change it into non-toxic nitrate. This generally takes at least a month; so give it six weeks to be sure. After the six weeks are up, you can populate the tank relatively safely. But don’t add too many fish. You want a show tank, and a heavy fish population will only result in algae, dirty water, and maintenance problems. A relatively few fish swimming among healthy plants is much more attractive than a lot of fish in an algae-covered tank. The rule of thumb of “one inch of fish per gallon” is a good one, as long as you are talking about slim fish no longer than three or four inches in total length. Next month, I will discuss suitable selections of fish for the first-time aquarist.

Don’t bother with chemical filtration in your filter box, such as activated carbon. With proper tank maintenance, carbon is not necessary. Also, don’t be overly concerned about buying lots of test kits. The pH of Calgary’s water is stuck on 8.2 and its well-buffered and stable enough that (with proper tank maintenance) your tank pH will never be significantly different than that of the water that comes out of the tap. Therefore, as long as you follow proper set up and maintenance guidelines, there is little point in testing your tank pH. You may want to buy an ammonia test kit, but if you set up the aquarium correctly and allow enough time for the biological filter to mature, you won’t have any ammonia to test anyway. And don’t worry about getting any fish medications, tonics, or other such garbage. If anyone has ever saved a fish with over-the-counter antibiotics I have yet to meet him. It is much better to simply set up and maintain the tank properly, and you just won’t see any disease.

However, do be concerned with getting high quality fish food. Good flake food is adequate for the fish I will describe next month, and the Aquarian and Tetra brands are especially good, as are many others. Good aquarium stores will only sell good foods, but department stores may sell poor quality flakes. In addition, some freeze-dried foods such as krill, ocean plankton, and mosquito larvae are also good dietary supplements. Commercial frozen foods are also good, but much more expensive. If you want to get more involved in the hobby, home made frozen foods are inexpensive and fun to make, and recipes can be found readily in The Calquarium’s back issues. And if you find yourself becoming a budding fish fanatic, you can collect live insect larvae and crustaceans from country ditches and ponds during the spring. These bug-hunting expeditions can be a lot of fun. When feeding your fish, feed them lightly. Heavy feedings will result in rapid fish growth and lots of spawning activity, but will also considerably increase the amount of waste and algae growing in the aquarium. Since this is a display tank, not a breeding tank, feed only a little and you will have a much nicer tank. Feeding as much as your fish will eat in five minutes, twice a day, is more than plenty. And don’t be concerned about missing a few feedings either. Your fish are fine without food for as much as a week. If you are going to be away for longer than that, make arrangement for a very light feeding every other day. Under no circumstances should you ever use those Plaster-of-Paris “weekend feeding blocks”. The food particles in them are so small that no adult fish can eat them, and the blocks harden water as they dissolve. They are useless wastes of money and inedible sources of pollution.

You should seriously consider feeding your plants. Iron and manganese fertilization is necessary in Calgary’s water, since our water (sourced from the Rocky Mountain runoff) is deficient in trace metals. There are lots of commercial fertilizer mixes that are just fine. However, I would only add fertilizer with a water change unless you purchase an iron test kit. If you regularly add fertilizer without monitoring the levels or first removing some water, you can get a toxic build-up of iron over time. So if the instructions on the fertilizer bottle are to add one drop of solution per gallon, and you change five gallons of water, just put five drops in the tank after the water change. Repeat this the next time you change water. Don’t add any more than this unless you monitor the iron levels with a test kit. Remember that plants actually need very little iron. And don’t use fertilizers that contain any phosphates or nitrates. Also, don’t concern yourself with CO2 fertilization. This is an advanced technique, and (although it’s sort of fun to monkey around with the gear) CO2 fertilization is not necessary for a healthy tank.

As for changing water, that is a very important part of weekly maintenance. I would recommend changing 25% weekly. This is a bit of a chore unless you have either a Python water changer or one of its competitors. These devices take almost all the drudgery of tank ownership and are well worth the money. Clean the glass with your algae scraper as well. Also clean the mechanical filtration module of your filter weekly, but leave the biological filter module for only twice-yearly cleaning. Even then only rinse the biological filter medium in old tank water. You can expect to devote 1/2 hour of maintenance to your tank weekly, but again, don’t stress out about missing the odd week’s maintenance schedule.

When changing water, make sure that the temperature is as close as possible to that of the tank, and add some dechlorinator as well. Dechlorinators, despite contrary opinion, are not strictly necessary in Calgary (I never use them) but are good insurance for smaller fish. If you use a dechlorinator, feel free to add water straight out of the tap through your Python (or other) water changer (just add the dechlorinator to the tank before refilling). Make sure however that the replacement water is well aerated during refilling in order to release any excessive dissolved gas. The Python is designed to aerate water during refilling and so will release dissolved gas nicely. Most good aquarium stores in town sell the Python and a seemingly identical (except that it’s blue) competitive product is also available for a little less money.

With light feedings, low fish densities, lots of light, and regular maintenance, you can easily set up a thriving, beautiful tank. But you will still have some algae, and algae-eating fishes are a good idea. I’ll discuss these and other fishes for your new tank next month.? Садовый центр – декоративные растения и цветы

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The Basics of Cycling – Cycle with fish

The basic process goes like this.

Fish waste –> ammonia –> nitrite –> nitrate
Nitrate is removed mainly by water change. It is also used for plants to grow.

The term cycling is applied to the process which takes place as a new aquarium ‘matures’. This refers to build up the beneficial bacteria that breaks down ammonia and nitrite.

Ammonia and nitrite are very dangerous to fish. nitrate is not as dangerous, but it is best to keep it as low as possible.

Aquarium is consider mature when the ammonia and nitrite level are reduced to zero and nitrate level begins to rise.

Ammonia must be present for the aquarium to begin the cycling process. To begin the cycling process, people usually set up the tank and put some hard/cheap starter fish in there.

Use starter fish to begin the cycling process. Some excellent starter fish include danios, black tetras, and white clouds. Some other recommendations could include platies, other tetras, or some barbs. Do not use too many fish during this “cycling” process. Invariably beginners ask if it’s all right to start with angelfish, catfish, plecostomus, or other inappropriate fish. Resist the temptation to do this, and you will save yourself a lot of grief and disappointment during the first few months of operation.

When you get your starter fish home, float the bag in the aquarium for 15-20 minutes to equalize the water temperature. This is very important, as fish are very sensitive to temperature changes. After equalizing the temperature, you can add about ¼ cup of water to the bag every 15 minutes for 1-2 hours. The fish can then be released into the aquarium. If at all possible, net the fish out of the bag into the aquarium, rather than dumping the water from the bag into your tank.

Be very cautious when feeding your fish, especially until the “cycling” is complete. Overfeeding is the most common mistake made with new aquariums. A fish’s stomach is probably about the size of its eye, so feed very sparingly. Your fish should eat everything you feed them within 3 minutes. If not, you probably fed too much. Just reduce the amount the next time you feed. Fish only need to be fed once a day.

After about 14 days, you can bring in a water sample to be tested for ammonia and nitrite. This will tell whether the tank has begun “cycling”. It can also tell you when it’s safe to start adding more fish. It is not a good idea to introduce additional fish once the aquarium has started to “cycle”. The ammonia and nitrite levels will typically rise to toxic levels during this process. Because you started with hardy fish, they will often survive these toxic levels. Because the increase happens so slowly, they are able to adapt with no adverse effects. To introduce new fish during this process can be very stressful to the new fish, since they haven’t had time to slowly acclimate to the elevated levels of ammonia and nitrite. Unfortunately, they often don’t survive this trauma.

Once the test on your aquarium water determines that your tank is safe, you can begin adding additional fish. Your pet store associate can help you determine which fish are compatible in terms of size and temperament for your aquarium. Add new fish in stages. It’s not a good idea to add a lot of new fish all at one time.1 or 2 fish then wait for 2 weeks,then 1 or 2 fish each week after that,test your water the same day,after about 6 hrs

Do not be disturbed if your aquarium becomes cloudy of hazy during the first several months of operation. This is normal, and usually disappears naturally after 2-3 months.

Routine tank maintenance should begin after the “cycling” process has been successful. Water changes of 20-25% should be performed every week. Fish do not respond well to significant chemical changes in their water. They do much better with small water changes done more frequently, than with massive water changes done infrequently. Adding water to the aquarium to replace water that has evaporated is not a water change. Again, be very sensitive to water temperature when doing water changes.

Fish I have used to cycle my tank
Feeder guppies
Goldfish
Algae Eater
Rosie red

I know a lot of people will say those fish are not the best fish to cycle a tank. I use them only because they are cheap. This is my personal opinion. Check out the links below you can see a lot more other fish you can use to cycle the tank.

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12 Quick Tips for Beginners

1. Buy at least a 20 gallon tank if you can afford it. Despite marketing to the contrary, small tanks are not ‘ideal for the beginner’. A large tank is more stable in terms of temperature and water chemistry.

2. Wash filter sponges and other ‘biological’ media in tank water, NOT tap water, to avoid killing beneficial bacteria.

3. Carry out water changes regularly – 25% per month should probably be considered a MINIMUM for an average community tank.

4. Do not overfeed. Feed small quantities of food and watch fish eat it before adding more. Do not be tempted to feed fish because they ‘look hungry’ – 2 times daily is sufficient.

5. Do check the requirements and compatibility of species BEFORE buying.

6. Observe fish carefully before buying, avoid any with split fins, damaged gills, etc.

7. Release new fish into the tank gradually – float the bag for at least 15 minutes to equalise temperature.

8. Use a quarantine tank for new fish wherever possible.

9. Read up on the ‘cycling’ process and its consequences.

10. Stock slowly to give the bacterial population time to increase to match the additional waste load.

11. Do not overstock. 1″ of fish per gallon is often used as a general guideline, but this cannot be used as a hard and fast rule – you can’t put a 10″ fish in a 10 gallon tank. Remember that your tank will be easier to keep healthy if you understock.

12. Avoid the use of too many chemical additives unless you fully understand the consequences of their use.

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Choosing an aquarium

When deciding what size or type of aquarium to buy, you must first know how much room you will have to dedicate to the tank and its acessories. If you are a beginner, you should probably start out with a 10 gallon. That is not so big that you will be overwhelmed. If you have had experience with aquariums before, you should buy the largest tank you have the room, time, and money for. I live in a pretty small apartment, so for now I am limited to a 20 gallon tank.

When shopping for a tank, you will see that there are many different types and sizes to choose from. Some are made from glass, others are made from acrylic or plexiglass. Those tanks are usually one piece wich reduces the chances of seam leaks, but is easier to scratch while cleaning. You will not want to use any kind of scouring pad to clean any non glass tank. The other benefit to acrylic is that it is more resistant to breakage if it gets hit. So that is best for a large tank if you have young children. Images of accidental contact with my tank and my son’s baseball bat run through my head as I bring that point up. So far I have been very lucky and have had no such mishaps.

Most standard tanks are shaped like a rectangle, however there are some that are hexagon shaped. I have never had any personal experience with that type if tank, so if you have any information on them that should be noted here, please E-mail me with that, and I will add it to this section.

I do not recommend fish bowls. They distort the fish, and are not a very comfortable home for a fish. They are hard to keep clean, and are seldom big enough. The only exeption to that is for Bettas, ‘Siamese fighting fish’. They can live comfortably in small containers for long periods of time, however I dont recommend it. Bowls do not offer very efficient airation or circulation of the water, and are hard to keep clean because of this. It is very hard to get the water stable and most often your fish will not live in a bowl for very long. I really recommend not going any smaller than a 5-10 gallon tank. Enough of that, I think you get the idea.

Once you have chosen a tank, the next step is to buy the things you will need to equip it with…and the fun goodies!

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Some Of The Best All Year-round Aquarium Tips

When it comes to looking after your aquarium you need to be focussed on providing care all year-round. Below we look at some of the most important points

Temperature Control For Your Aquarium
When it comes to caring for your aquarium fish, temperature control is one of the most important aspects. Although we may really feel the weather outside, your aquarium fish are more likely to suffer from any drastic changes to temperature which occurs inside the aquarium. So the following tips are worth noting:

1) Ensure that you switch the lights off during the hottest part of the day.

2) Check that your heater is properly working and keeping a steady temperature. Water which is too warm may result in the fish suffocating.

3) If you need to make any change in temperature always do so gradually.

Regular Care and Maintenance of Your Aquarium

Regular care is needed if you have an aquarium. This regular maintenance should involve vigorous aeration and filtration. Make sure that you clean your tank out regularly to ensure that the fish remain healthy.

Aquarium General Tips

Following these general tips should lead to a better environment for your aquarium fish:

1)Limit the number of fish in your aquarium to maximise the amount of oxygen for each fish. It will also help minimise the number of times you will need to clean the aquarium.

2)Make sure that you think about the positioning of the aquarium – it shouldn’t be in direct sunlight as this may increase the amount of algae.

3)Research the fish before you buy. You need to check that each fish you put into the aquarium is compatible with the general environment and with the other fish.

4)You should change 25% of the water in the aquarium weekly to help maintain a healthy water balance for your fish

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The Basics of Cycling – Fishless cycle

Fishless cycling is the process of cycling a tank, or establishing a biological filter in a fishless aquarium.

Simply follow the step below to do a fishless cycling.

1. Set up your tank and keep the filter running at maximum capacity throughout the cycling process. Do not change water during the cycling process. Also, buy a water test kit.

2. Add about 4 to 5 drops per 10 gallon of PURE ammonia daily. Make sure you get pure ammonia with no other chemical in it.

3.Continute to do this daily until you see nitrite on your test kit. Lower the amount of ammonia to about 2-3 drops/gallon per day after you start seeing nitrite on the test kit. Remember to test your water at least once every 2 or 3 days.

4. Keep adding 2-3 drops/gallon of ammonia everyday until you see ZERO ammonia and nitrite on your test kit. (You should start seeing Nitrate at this point)

5. Once your test kit reads zero on both Ammonia and Nitrite, your tank is consider cycled. You can start adding small amount of fish in there.

PS. Tank can cycle faster on higher temperature, but make sure the temperature does not exceed 80F.
Use graval, decoration or media from established tank can also help speed up the cycling process.

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Setting up your aquarium

Setting up your aquarium can be a fun and rewarding experience when you plan it out, and have the proper aquarium filtration, heating, decor, etc.. This page will cover Filters, heaters, decorations, and putting it all together!!

First of all you need to decide what type of filter you are going to use for the type of aquarium you have selected. I have a 20 gallon standard shape tank. I have chosen to use a power head and a back filter system. There are also filters that use air bubbles from tubing and an air pump to filter and airate the water. I will describe how to set up a few different types of filters.

Undergravel filters:
Undergravel filters help create a natural environment for the fish by creating circulation of the water down through the gravel. This helps keep your tank clean by pulling debris and un eaten food into the gravel and under the filter. This is where the “biological filtration” takes place. There are good bacteria that live in your filter system that eats up the debris and breaks it down. That is how the filter works. Most undergravel filters have two “lift” tubes, one at each end of the tank. That helps both sides of the tank stay clean and also creates a current in the tank. As the air goes up the tubes, it causes a suction that pulls the water up from under your filter and gravel. The bubbles that result airate the water, and agitate the water surface. That helps the water to stay fresh because it is constantly moving around your tank and down through your gravel taking particles of debris with it. This type of filter is best for use in a tank with artificial plants, since this is not ideal for an aquarium containing live plants. Undergravel filters are available at your local pet shop or aquarium shop. They come in various shapes and sizes to fit your tank.

I have a power head on my undergravel filter to circulate the water and operate the undergravel filter. Power heads are a bit more expensive, but pay off in the long run. A power head is a little pump that pulls the water up your lift tube and shoots it out into the tank. That also creates airation and circulation. Most smaller 10-35 gallon tanks only need one lift tube when using a power head and it takes the place of using an airpump, and is much quieter. If you only use one lift tube with a power head, make sure the panels in your undergravel filter allow the water to go through the middle if it is a two piece grid. Some larger tanks 50 gallon and over should have two power heads on lift tubes on both sides of the tank.

Backfilters:
Backfilters come in various sizes to fit your tank. They are even small enough for a 10 gallon tank. Backfilters work by having a lift tube in your tank that pulls the water up into it and cycling it through various types of filtering material. Most have a pouch of fiber with a bit of activated carbon inside. It filters through that pouch and then the clean water spills out and back into your tank. This is a great place for those good bacteria to colonize. Then when the particles get caught in the filtering media and then get eaten up by the bacteria. Some very large aquariums have more than one backfilter on opposite ends of the tank in the back. Generally they are a bit more expensive than undergravel filters, but work like magic to keep your tank clean!! These type of filters are best for use in aquariums with live plants. It is best to use the back filter by itself, without an undergravel filter, if you are planning to use a lot of live plants. I have found that the combination of a undergravel filter with a power head, and the backfilter, are an unbeatable combination for my tank, since I use artificial plants. I do however, have a few live plants that started from bulbs, and seem to be doing okay right now. I am currently using a Pulsar by Tetra backfilter size 200. I have had it for four years now without any problems. Be sure to read the information and precautions that come along with your filter. I replace the filter materials in mine every few months. It is best to rinse them out in the month between changes. Use de chlorinated water that is the same temperature as your tank so that you don’t kill the good bacteria that resides in your filter.

Heaters:
Heaters are nessasary if you plan on keeping tropical fish. Most tropical fish like to be in a consistant temperature, ranging from 75 degrees farenheit, to 85 degrees farenheit. I keep mine at 79-80 degrees. There are several brands of heaters. The best to get are the ones that are submersible. These heaters can be located at various places in your tank and are easier to hide. You can place taller plants and decorations in front of your heater to help disguise it, but make sure that they do not touch the heater. That can cause it to get broken or shorted out if they overheat due to contact. Be sure to read the information and precautions that come with your new heater. The heater should have enough wattage to heat the water in your tank to the desired temperature. They come in various sizes and have different wattages. The best for a 10 to 20 gallon is atleast a 10″, 100 watts. Larger aquariums may need two heaters on each end to keep the tank at a consistant temperature on both ends. You dont want to have one warm side and have the other side cold. Unless you have a very large tank, one heater should be sufficient. I am currently using a Pulsar by Tetra brand heater, and it has been a great heater, and I have had it for four years now.
Gravel,Ornaments, and Plants:
Once you have picked out the necessary filters, heater etc.. It is time to get the fun stuff. You will need one pound of gravel for every gallon of water that your tank holds. Most gravel comes in 5lb bags. So you will need 4 bags of gravel for a 20 gallon tank. Gravel comes in a variety of colors and materials. I have recently purchased a gravel material that is colored glass that has been broken up and smoothed. It is a royal blue color and is very pretty in my tank. So you can choose what best suits your taste. There is even gravel that is like natural river pebbles and gravel. Next is the decorations!! You will need some plants and ornaments for your fish to hide and frolick in. There are many different types of plastic plants that simulate real live plants, and some that are neon colors. There are lots of pretty things to put in your tank, like shipwrecks, and castles. You will also need to have a thermometer.
Putting it all together:
You will need to rinse all of the things that you will be putting into your tank. Also wash out the tank itself using water and aquarium salt. Rinse well..

Put your undergravel filter grid on the bottom of your tank, make sure the lift tube, or tubes are attached properly. Next, pour the rinsed gravel onto the grid. Spread it out fairly evenly. Attach the heater, and backfilter if you have one. Next, put your plants and ornaments into the gravel and anchor them down well with the gravel. Next you can start to fill your tank with water. Most people use a commercial preparation that will remove chlorine, and other harmful metals and chemicals from the water. Be sure to read all the label directions. Once your water has been properly treated, add it to the tank slowly as to not disturb your plants and decor. I use a cup or a jar to set on the bottom and then pour the water into it to keep the water from moving gravel, then it will overflow into the tank gently. Once your tank is full, then plug in your filters, heaters, light, etc. Make sure they are all working properly. It is a good idea to let the tank run for a few days to settle before adding fish. Once the temperature of the water is where you want it, then you can add the fish. It is best to buy some hearty fish for the first residents, and only add a few at first. It will take a week or so for the biological filtration to work and the bacteria to get started. Once you have had the tank running successfully for a few weeks, then add more fish a few at a time.

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Why Set Up An Aquarium?

You’ve been to the pet store and noticed the fish tanks and thought “maybe I could do that”. Guess what, you can “do that” and it’s not nearly as difficult as you may think.

The tropical fish keeping hobby has come a long way over the past decade thanks in part to advances in aquarium equipment and the plethora of readily available information. There are many outstanding fish and aquarium books available as well as an abundant amount of information on the internet, forums and discussion groups. Running your own tank is way easier than it was just 10 years ago.

In the past, folks would go to the pet store and buy the tank, equipment and fish all at once not knowing they were setting themselves up for failure. They would get the aquarium set up and running, put some fish in and everything would be fine for a couple of days but then the fish would start to die. Now we know better. We know about the crucial aquarium nitrogen cycle that must take place in all new tanks. We know how to properly acclimate tropical fish to our tank water and how to periodically use our aquarium test kits to test the tank water to make sure nothing is out of whack. We have better access to fish behavior and can determine which fishes shouldn’t be kept together in the same tank. The information is out there, at our fingertips, at libraries, book stores and the search engines.

So, with all this available information we can quickly come up to speed with running a tank in our home. There are many different types of aquarium setups but the most common types are freshwater, saltwater fish only and saltwater reef tanks. Here is a very brief intro:

Freshwater Aquarium
The mainstay of the hobby and the most popular setup, a freshwater tank setup can be a great first tank and it will give you the necessary experience needed for branching out into other types of tanks. This setup is the least expensive in terms of equipment and livestock and is not usually as demanding as the other types. There are literally hundreds of different types of fish available so finding a species you’ll like shouldn’t pose a problem. You can keep live aquarium plants in your tank as well. Keeping plants may require an upgrade to your lighting system and you may have to add supplements to your tank water. Freshwater aquarium plants add another dimension of beauty to a freshwater tank.

Saltwater Aquarium
Saltwater tanks are perceived to be more difficult than freshwater tanks. In times past, that statement may have been true but I don’t think that is necessarily the case today. With the increasing use of live rock as the primary biological filter in a saltwater tank setup, the chances of successfully running this type of aquarium have dramatically improved. A fish only saltwater tank equipped with live rock will be more expensive than a freshwater tank because you’ll need to purchase live rock and a protein skimmer. Marine fish are also more expensive than their freshwater counterparts.

Saltwater Reef Tank
The ultimate tank setup in this hobby has to be the reef tank. It’s like having a small piece of the coral reef in your living room. The emphasis is on the corals and invertebrates with a limited amount of fish. These tanks are however, more expensive to setup and maintain. Equipment such as metal halide lighting, protein skimmers, live rock, testing equipment, supplements, water purification units (reverse osmosis and deionization) and sumps drive the cost of this setup. Don’t forget about the ongoing maintenance costs (electricity) as well. The livestock costs for live corals, fish and invertebrates are also very expensive. This type of tank can be very demanding when first set up because you’ll need to monitor the water parameters periodically and take corrective action when necessary. Even though this is the most expensive type of setup, it can also be the most breathtaking. You should to do your homework (research) and figure out exactly what you want to accomplish before buying your first piece of reef equipment.

No matter what type of tank setup you choose, as long as you do your homework beforehand you’ll enjoy this hobby. Research the equipment and livestock before purchasing them and you will prevent many headaches and keep some of that hard earned money in your wallet!

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How To Choose The Best Aquarium Filter For Your Fish

So you’ve finally decided to bring a new hobby to your life and that’s keeping a tropical fish, you might need all the equipment in order to keep the fish full alive. It’s true that before getting a fish, there are lots of thing to do. In maintaining an aquarium, you can actually take care of it without much work at all. Before anything else, you should know how to keep the tank in good condition.

To get started, you should choose what size of tank will fit your style. If you’re a beginner, it will be good if you start with a small aquarium first. This will take less expense plus the fact that it helps you concentrate in taking care of your aquarium. If time comes when you are at ease in keeping a small aquarium, you can shift to a larger one.

One of the important equipment for you to have in your aquarium is the filter. Filter is a device that removes impurities from the water of your aquarium by way of fine physical obstacle or by chemical procedure. It is recommended that you use an undergravel filter since it’s not expensive and it keeps the debris totally out. But how you can choose the best filter for your aquarium? Furthermore, getting the right filter can save you lots of hours in maintenance.

The following tips can be helpful for you to find the best filter around.

1. You should know the three kinds of filtering systems that is needed in your tank: biological, mechanical, and chemical.

2. Think about the different types of filters and their functions. Wet-dry filters are compatible to saltwater tanks since they give biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration. Although they are quite expensive but entail less maintenance operation than other types.

3. Mechanical filters are designed to remove impurities by way of filter floss and filtering particles.

4. Chemical filtration process uses activated charcoal just to remove unwanted dissolved wastes in the water.

5. Set up first the biological filter before adding fish to the tank. Biological filters use bacteria to crack ammonia and nitrates. If you wish to add more fish too soon, the bacteria can’t keep up then the level of ammonia will rise in the tank thus killing the fish.

6. In buying an aquarium kit, you will get an undergravel filter. This kind of biological filter pulls water that is rich in oxygen through the gravel.

7. You can opt to some sponge filters. Sponge filters are efficient and cheap.

With the above tips, finding the best filter for your fish will be easy for you.

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Aquarium Supply Necessary For Novice

Watching the fish gliding inside an aquarium makes your mind relax. Much more if it is well designed, maybe something that looks like a real habitat underworld. Setting up one can be a great idea for your family.

An aquarium can be best fitted in any corner of your room, provided that it is unreachable by your kids unless with your supervision. It can add exquisiteness to your surroundings and a more soothing ambiance

However, considering some important factors can be better while setting up an aquarium. You have to purchase an array of aquarium supplies in order to create a place for your fish to live in.

Here are some of the supplies that you have to take note:

1.Type of fish
This is a prior consideration because it will determine the kind of aquarium that you will put up whether it is freshwater, saltwater aquarium, or warm water aquarium. Tropical fish for instance necessitates warm water that will require you a heater. Each kind of aquarium set up has distinct needs and expenses that you will incur when purchasing the supplies.

2.Tank
If you are novice, you can begin with smaller size of aquarium and a ten-gallon tank will probably do. This is another determinant of the kind of fish that you will place in your aquarium. A variety of type can be chosen if you have larger tanks.

3.Heater
It is necessary for tropical fish because you have to maintain warm temperature of water. This is the kind of habitat where they can survive.

4.Filter
Since you cannot prevent some falling debris inside your aquarium, you have to make use of filters to keep it clean at all times. Cleanliness is crucial because this will make your fish stay healthy inside an aquarium.

5.Gravel and rocks
All of these components will add an underworld effect to your aquarium. Be sure to clean them properly before you place the said supplies to the water.

6.Pump
Pump is one of the basic requirements for your aquarium because the life of the fish inside it will depend on the pump. It s their aid for breathing

7.Water Testing kit
Utilizing one will help you to gauge the ph level inside your aquarium.

8.Lighting
In order to remove dullness inside the aquarium, you need to put some lighting. Too much lighting effects will not be good as well.

After you make yourself ready with the aquarium supply, then you can put up your own.

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