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How To Determine If The Aquarium Hobby Is Right For You

Thinking about getting an aquarium? It's a very fun and exciting hobby, but there's more to it than you may think. Learn what's involved in owning an aquarium and whether this hobby is right for you or not.

Perhaps you had a goldfish when you were younger – a prize from the county fair that you brought home and kept in a bowl for a few weeks until it died. If this is the only experience you have with aquarium fish then there are a few things you should learn before making the decision to enter this hobby. Maintaining a freshwater aquarium can be as complex or as simple a project as you want it to be depending on the size of your tank and the type of fish you choose. These are not the only choices you have to make, however, so do some research to learn just what goes into being an aquarium hobbyist in order to determine whether it is the right hobby for you.

Time Involved - Before You Buy

dreamstime xs_14010763The largest block of time you will have to devote to your new hobby as an aquarium owner is at the beginning. Not only should you perform some basic research to determine what kind of fish you want to raise and how to customize your tank to suit their needs, but you also need to select and set up your tank. You could spend hours doing research planning the perfect tank for your fish, or you could simply ask the sales associate at your local pet store for a recommendation of easy starter fish. Selecting a fish tank is generally a matter of preference when it comes to shape, but the size should be determined by the type of fish you intend to raise.

In addition to researching the species of fish you want to keep, and their environmental requirements, it is also wise to carefully consider the equipment you will purchase to keep your aquarium running. There are countless varieties and brands of aquarium filters on the market and while you could simply pick the one that is on sale when you visit the pet store, reading reviews and product descriptions is a better way to go. Again, when selecting the equipment for your tank you can spend as much or as little time as you want researching before you buy.

Setting Up the Tank

dreamstime xs_18420348Setting up your new aquarium is a process that can take several hours. You will need to rinse out the tank as well as the substrate and all of the tank decorations you plan to use. Once you have done so you will also need to fill the tank with water – the timeframe for this process will vary depending on the size of your tank. After filling and decorating your tank the equipment must be installed and, in some cases, programmed. If you set everything up correctly at the start, you should not have to spend a great deal of time maintaining and cleaning your tank on a regular basis. However, it must be understood that all aquariums will require regular upkeep to ensure the health and survivability of the fish. How much time necessary for this will depend to some degree on proper set-up in the beginning.

Once your tank has been set up, and after it has cycled properly, you can add your fish. From this point on, most freshwater aquariums require relatively little maintenance. Weekly 10 - 20% water changes and simple water tests generally add up to less than an hour of your time every week. Once a month or so you may need to perform a larger water change in addition to changing your filter media which could take more than an hour if you have a very large tank. You will need to feed your fish daily, but it shouldn't take more than five minutes out of your day.

The Cost of a New Aquarium

In the same way you have control over how much time you put into your new hobby as an aquarium owner, you can also have some control over the cost. One of the easiest ways to save money when starting out in this hobby is to purchase an aquarium kit that includes the tank, a filter, a heater and perhaps some extras like a hood with a built-in light fixture. Many aquarium kits also offer substrate and a few tank decorations so the hobbyist can get started right away. Aquarium kits vary in price according to the size of the tank and the additional items included. 10 gallon starter kits usually cost between $100 and $150 and 5 gallon kits can usually be purchased for under $50. Tanks this small are only recommended for a limited number of small fish, however, or for fish which need to be kept in isolation, such as betta fish.

Many novice aquarium hobbyists mistakenly believe that the larger the tank, the more maintenance will be required. This is not true and, in fact, a twenty- to thirty-gallon tank is the size recommended for beginners in this hobby. A starter kit with a tank this size may range in price from $150 to $250. If you choose to purchase your aquarium components separately, you could spend $200 on a tank alone, not to mention the cost of equipment. Aquarium filters run from $20 to over $100 depending on the size and the brand. In addition to a filter, your tank will need an aquarium heater and lighting. This equipment could cost an additional $100. How much you spend on tank decorations is up to you. The cost of substrate will vary according to the type you select and how much you need. Live plants will be more expensive than plastic and can require special substrate or tank conditions in order to thrive.

Maintenance Costs

discus 000004453232xsmallIn addition to the cost of setting up your aquarium, you will also need to purchase your fish. When you are just starting out it is wise to select hardy community fish like swordtails, tetras and danios. These fish generally cost less than $5 each, making them some of the most affordable fish as well as some of the easiest to keep. As you gain experience in the hobby you may graduate to more difficult species like cichlids. These fish can grow rather large and generally cost between $10 and $30 each. Larger fish are generally more expensive than smaller ones, but they also tend to live longer which means you will not have to purchase replacements quite so often.

Once you have set up and stocked your tank the cost of routine maintenance is relatively low. You will need to purchase fish food and water treatment supplies like de-chlorinating solutions, but these items generally cost under $10 and last for quite some time. The greatest maintenance cost you will encounter will be when replacing your filter media. On average, you will need to replace the filter media in your filter to keep your tank running clean and clear. You will also need to keep a supply of test strips to monitor the aquarium water parameters in your tank on a weekly basis, or more often, if you choose.

Make Your Tank Safe for Fish Immediately  One and Only from Dr.Tims Aquatics

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Make Your New Tank Safe for Fish Immediately  One and Only from Dr.Tims Aquatics