Aquarium Care

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Sticky: Starting a New Aquarium

Sit back and enjoy your new aquarium

Sit back and enjoy your new aquarium

Aquariums can be beautiful and fun additions to any home. The easiest way to start having an aquarium in your house is to choose a freshwater aquarium. These are easier to manage and you have a greater chance of success than if you tackle a saltwater aquarium.  Even so, there is a lot to buy and many things to think about before you can have fish swim around your tank.

You need to select a tank size and make sure it fits into the space you have allotted. You need to select a tank size of at least ten gallons as mistakes are less likely to be lethal if there is more water to work with. Fish tanks are heavy. A full 20 gallon fish tank is over 200 pounds.  Make sure you have a good supporting system for your fish tank so it doesn’t collapse.

Choose a tank with a larger surface area, such as an oblong tank. Fish do better with a larger surface area. Glass tanks are better for beginners so choose one of those as opposed to an acrylic fish tank. Most tanks come with standard measurements which can be used to select the tank for you.

Your initial purchase checklist should include the following:

  • A suitably sized aquarium, possibly 20 gallon-sized
  • A stand or surface for your aquarium
  • A hood or lid for your aquarium
  • An aquarium light
  • A heater that heats the size of the aquarium you are buying (check with the staff at the pet store if you have any doubts about the heater size and wattage).
  • An aquarium thermometer
  • Substrate for the bottom of the aquarium
  • A fish net
  • Something to condition the water
  • A filter for the aquarium

You should get enough substrate to fill the bottom of the tank to a level of about two inches.  In general, a pound of substrate should be purchased for every gallon of water in the tank. This means you should buy about 20 pounds of substrate for a 20 gallon tank. The filter should be adequate to filter out the junk in the tank. A filter should be able to filter about 100-150 gallons per hour.

Once you’ve rinsed out the aquarium, you’ll need to fill it with water. Place the aquarium exactly where you want to keep it. Buy a bottle of aquarium water conditioner. Buy two buckets that you only use for the aquarium. Fill the tank with washed substrate to a depth of 2-3 inches. Put a clean plate on top of the gravel (this keeps the gravel from splashing up). Let the cold water in the tap run for a few minutes to clear the lines of excessive minerals and then fill the bucket up to three-fourths full. Pour the water from the bucket onto the plate until the water is halfway up the tank. Then add your plants and decorations. Put in the heater and the filter but don’t plug them in until the tank is full.

Next, fill the tank with water using the other bucket. You can remove the plate when the tank is halfway filled with water. Start the filter and the heater and run for a minimum of twenty four hours before adding fish.

You’ll want to consider adding an EcoBio-Stone or other EcoBio-Block product, depending on the size of your tank and your particular needs. These are porous volcanic and cement rocks which slowly release necessary trace minerals and calcium in to the water. They contain beneficial nutrients and helpful bacteria that create the proper ecosystem for your aquarium helping you minimize your maintenance time and reduce the need to change the water in your tank.  Nitrifying bacteria are established in your tank and the tank is cycled more quickly. The water stays clear and odor is kept to a minimum. EcoBio-Block products last for up to 1.5 or 2 years and require no maintenance.

If all goes well, you’ll have a healthy, happy aquarium system that will last for years with a minimum of interference by you. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy your new aquarium.

 

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The Importance of Selecting the Proper Lighting for Your Aquarium

Lighting is always a requirement for aquariums. Not only does it highlight the fish and the dcor but it also serves the ecosystem in the tank, particularly if you have decided to add fresh plants to your tank.

When buying an aquarium, getting a full tank setup means getting all the necessary equipment, and that includes the lighting. However, if you prefer to have a more customized setup, purchase separate lighting instead. The light you have to get will depend on the size of the tank and your selection of fish and plants.

The power of the aquarium lighting should be around 2 to 3 watts for every gallon of water in the tank. Keep in mind, however, that the lighting requirements for the aquarium with live plants would be more than that of the same aquarium with artificial plants. Be careful though, because more light is not always good for all fish. Some fish thrive in a brightly lit habitat, while some are bothered by too much light and end up being stressed. Furthermore, an environment with too much light causes algae to grow much faster.

For your lighting needs, you can choose between using fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are inexpensive, and therefore good for smaller aquariums, but their yellowish glow is not quite the same as natural light. They also generate heat so it would be a good idea to keep a thermometer handy, and monitor the water temperature regularly.

If you have live plants, you’ll need an aquarium fluorescent light. Available in the form of tubes or compact fluorescent bulbs, their light is much brighter and does not give off any heat. The fluorescent light can be used by your live plants. If your tank is very heavily planted, you may need more than 3 watts per gallon. A compact fluorescent bulb will fit into any fixture designed for incandescent bulbs, while fluorescent light tubes need to be purchased at the correct length for your aquarium hood.

Although ordinary household fluorescent lights can be used, full spectrum fluorescent light is best, especially for bright-colored fish and plants. Full spectrum lights are composed of all the important wavelengths of light with each part of the light spectrum having different effects on the aquarium. The bright colors of tropical fish are brought out by the purple end of the spectrum while the blue parts promote the growth of algae. Aquatic plants generally will thrive on the orange to red parts of the spectrum.

Although a lot of fish are nocturnal, it is still important for the main aquarium light to be turned off at night to imitate the natural order they are used to. The use of submersible LED lights will allow you to watch your fish when the main aquarium lights are off. You can use different colors to highlight the dcor or the fish. To watch the fish without disturbing their daily routines, use small red or blue LED lights.

Replacing your aquarium light bulbs is an inevitable part of aquarium maintenance. Regardless of whether the light is still working, replace the bulb every year, because they grow dimmer over time.

The well-being of the fish and plants as well as the appearance of your aquarium depend on how well you have chosen your lighting. It is therefore important to make the selection with great care.

Leonard Boyler has been keeping fish for more than 20 years. His favorite products make aquarium care and maintenance so easy from start up to clarifying cloudy aquariums. To find out more about how to have clear water and healthy fish please visit ONEdersave.com.

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