Before setting up your first aquarium, be sure you have time to care for it, and do some research.
Aquarium fish originate in different parts of the world, so they have different needs and behaviors. If you find out about the fish you want to keep in your aquarium, you will be much less likely to have compatibility issues after making purchases. Internet search engines like Google are good sources of fish species profiles. Preferred water parameters plus adult sizes and behaviors are essential factors to consider.
Generally, it’s wise to limit the selected species to one or two, and limit fish population to about half the safe biological load. This approach leaves room for mistakes and limits potential disasters. Most pet shops have huge filtration systems and grossly overcrowded aquariums. Don’t use those conditions as a standard.
Your first aquarium will have a better chance of success if you select the more common and less expensive varieties of fish and plants. Once you have some experience, you may want to try something more challenging and expensive.
When selecting your first aquarium, remember that larger tanks are easier to keep than smaller ones. A smaller volume of water can become polluted much more quickly than a larger one.
Twenty gallons is a good starter size for most small fish varieties, and a five gallon tank is suitable for a male Betta.
In summary form, here are a few of the more important basics:
Nitrogen Cycle – An aquarium is a dynamic environment with many more lifeforms than just fish and plants. For example, several types of beneficial bacteria in a healthy aquarium neutralize the toxins that fish and uneaten food produce. These beneficial bacteria make up the nitrogen cycle, so called because the naturally produced toxins are nitrogen compounds such as ammonia and nitrite. Before putting fish in your new aquarium, make sure the nitrogen cycle is functioning.
Partial Water Changes – Natural fresh water habitats get a regular cleaning because new water continually flows through them. Your aquarium, on the other hand, is a closed environment. Anything that does not evaporate stays in the water. This includes salt, some medications and a variety of wastes and minerals. Although the nitrogen cycle takes care of some toxins, the aquarium keeper is responsible for removing all the other undesirable materials. Changing part of the water every week takes the place of flow through in natural freshwater systems.
Acclimating the Fish – Most aquarium fish and invertebrates can adjust to a fairly wide range of water parameters such as temperature, pH, hardness and chemical content. However, they suffer shock when sudden changes in water parameters occur, and the resulting stress can make them sick. The floating bag method sometimes works when introducing fish to a new environment, but drip acclimation produces much less stress.
Medications – When we get sick, the doctor gives us medicine and tells us to rest. Aquarium shops have an unbelievable array of medications and chemical fixes to treat fish diseases and parasites as well as water parameter abnormalities. Most of the medications will not work unless water parameters are near ideal, and some can kill the beneficial bacteria that remove toxins. Formulations that change water chemistry can change things quickly enough to stress the fish, and these chemical additions work only in the short term. A healthy environment will allow the fish to get well; water quality issues should be solved before medications are used.
Feeding – Over feeding is very common in aquarium keeping and is a major cause of fish illness. Left over food becomes toxic and compromises fish immune systems, making them vulnerable to opportunistic diseases and parasites. Healthy fish always act hungry, so over feeding is difficult to avoid. Some experienced aquarists feed the fish twice a day but no more than they eat in a minute or two. Fish can go without food for several days without harm; some experts also recommend fasting them once a week.