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Simple Tips And Aquarium Advice For Novice Aquarists

Get aquarium advice for selecting your first aquarium, recommended fish for beginners, and common mistakes to avoid. Familiarize yourself with the challenges beforehand for a greater chance of success!


If you are considering becoming an aquarium hobbyist, or if you have already made this choice and are looking for aquarium advice, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Keeping a home aquarium can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can have its challenges. If you familiarize yourself with these challenges prior to setting up your first tank you will have a greater chance of success. Not only will you have learned what you need to start out in this hobby, but you will also understand some of the common mistakes new hobbyists make and how to avoid the frustration that comes along with them.

Tips for Selecting Your First Aquarium

aquarium xs 11228986When it comes to picking out your first aquarium, the major choice you need to make is in regards to the size. Glass and acrylic aquariums range in size from one gallon to over two hundred gallons. As a beginner in this hobby you may be tempted to start out with a small aquarium, thinking that it will be easier to maintain. The truth, however, is that a moderately sized aquarium between twenty and thirty gallons is actually easier to maintain successfully than a tank ten gallons or smaller. Because the water volume in a larger tank is greater, toxins will be more diluted and you will have a little more room for mistakes than you would with a smaller tank. Take this aquarium advice to heart and you'll save yourself from unnecessary frustration.

In addition to selecting the proper size tank, you should also consider what shape you prefer. At one time aquariums in the standard rectangular shape were the only models widely available, but today they are available in all kinds of shapes. Peruse the selection at your local pet store to decide whether you prefer a flat or rounded front to your aquarium. Smaller aquariums may also be available in novelty shapes such as globes or hexagons. When you are just starting out, however, it is wise to keep things simple with a standard rectangular aquarium with either a flat or rounded front. It will be easier to find a light canopy for a rectangular aquarium with a flat front should you ever need a replacement.

Advice for Purchasing Equipment

filter xs 6368101The list of essential equipment you will need to keep your aquarium running includes a filter, a submersible heater and lighting. There are three different types of filtration which are important to keeping your tank healthy: mechanical, chemical and biological. Mechanical filtration simply involves the removal of solid waste from the water in your tank. Chemical filtration is generally accomplished through the use of filter media like activated carbon which helps to remove harmful toxins. Biological filtration simply refers to the inclusion of a bio-wheel or some other filter attachment which provides a place for beneficial bacteria to live and multiply. In order to keep your aquarium as healthy as possible it is recommended that you select a filter that incorporates all three methods of filtration. Canister filters are an ideal choice in this regard.

A submersible aquarium heater is necessary in order to maintain a stable temperature in your tank. Selecting an aquarium heater is a much simpler process than choosing a filter. The main thing you need to consider when choosing an aquarium heater is the size of your aquarium and the temperature of the room where the aquarium will be located. You can ask the sales associates at your local pet store for recommendations or look online for reviews of different brands. Once you have chosen a brand, simply select the correct size based on your tank capacity.

The easiest way to incorporate lighting into your tank is to select a hood, or canopy, for your tank that has a built-in light fixture. If you do not have a lid or hood for your tank, you can check your local pet store for aquarium lighting kits that include installation instructions.

Tank Decorating Ideas

decor xs 21670749When decorating your tank, keep in mind that your fish need places to hide as well as open space for swimming. Rock caves and live plants are the ideal hiding places for fish but do not crowd your tank with these items. If you plan to use a rock cave, place it in the back corner of the tank so as to leave the front of the tank open for swimming space. When installing live or artificial plants in your tank, place the tallest plants in the back and install shorter plants in front of them. Aquarium substrate is available in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit your tastes, so use your imagination when decorating your tank – you do not have to stick with basic gravel or sand. Supplement your design with other decorations like rocks, driftwood and novelty items to complete the look of your tank.

Fish Recommended for New Aquarists

swordtail xs 13819468As a new aquarist, it is wise to stock your tank with hardy fish that will be tolerant in the event that you make a mistake. It is also a good idea to select fish that are relatively easy to keep – those which do not have precise requirements for water parameters. Some fish recommended for new hobbyists include Mollies, Swordtails, Guppies, Danios and Tetras. All of these fish are community species, which means that they can coexist peacefully with others of their species as well as other community fish. If you want to start off with something a little more than just the basics, ask one of the professionals at your local pet store for recommendations.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One of the worst mistakes you can make as a novice aquarist is to be in too big a hurry to stock your tank. After you have filled your tank it could be two weeks or longer until it is ready for fish. Your tank needs to cycle completely before you add fish in order to increase the chances that your fish will thrive. During this cycling process, beneficial bacteria will grow and multiply in your tank and begin the process of converting ammonia, a substance which is toxic to fish, into nitrites and then nitrates, which is harmless in small doses. If you do not give your tank time to cycle before adding fish, they could die of ammonia poisoning. So be patient during this process.

goldfish xs 2018338Another common mistake beginners in this hobby make is overstocking the tank. Until you have an understanding of how your tank will be able to handle various biological loads, stick to the rule of one inch of fish per gallon of tank capacity. To determine how many fish you can keep, divide the number of gallons your tank can hold by the adult size of the fish you intend to keep. It is important to use the adult size of your fish when making these calculations because the fish you purchase at the store will probably be juveniles and they will grow. The "one inch of fish per gallon" rule is a very general rule at best. Certain fish, like Goldfish and Oscars, create more waste than others, so stocking requirements will be much lower than this rule would suggest. If in doubt, ask a knowledgable professional at your local fish store.

After selecting and purchasing your fish, do not be tempted to simply dump them into the tank. Not only should you introduce your fish in small groups, but you also need to give each group of fish time to acclimate to the tank. Open the lid of your tank and float the plastic bag containing your fish in the tank for at least 20 - 30 minutes. During this time the water in the bag will be gently warmed or cooled by the water in the tank so they are approximately the same temperature. This will prevent your fish from experiencing a temperature shock when you add them to the tank. If you plan to keep multiple species of fish, wait at least a few days between adding new species so the fish in the tank have time to acclimate and the tank itself has time to adjust to the increased biological load.

Still have questions? Some of the best knowledge needed for a successful aquarium will come from talking to other aquarium owners. Experienced aquarists are an excellent source for valuable aquarium advice, so take the time to interact and learn from their mistakes!



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