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Articles related to Aquarium set-up and maintenance.
Author : Deepak
Article ID : 8
Audience : Default
Version 1.00.02
Published Date: 2010/5/9 11:35:46
Reads : 8858
Aquarium Setup & Maintenance

Just like any other hobby, aquaculture has its own learning curve. Everybody learns from their mistakes; however there are a lot of simple things that can be avoided. In this article I will try to highlight the most common mistakes made by lot of beginners. Little precaution and awareness can save you from many disappointments and build a healthy environment for aquatic pets.

Aquarium size & Stand: Mostly people buy very small aquarium kits with an assumption that small aquarium is easy to maintain but the fact is exactly the opposite. It is difficult to maintain a small aquarium because in a small aquarium you have small volume of water, as a result small change in the water quality can have big impact in small environment. This frequent changes has real bad impact on you live stock. It is always easy to maintain a larger aquarium. Always buy the biggest possible tank that you can afford to maintain. 36” x 12” x 15” (Length x Width x Height) is probably the most common

A standard 36” x 12” x 15” aquarium holds approximately 80 litres (21 US Gallon) of water and weigh approximately 130 kg (270 pound), it’s important to select a strong and good looking stand that can withstand the weight of the aquarium but also goes with other furniture. There are plenty of tank designs available in the market and you can build your custom design too. From more details read my other articles on aquarium location and aquarium tank

Too many fish, too soon: As a new hobbyist, you will be tempted to add fish the day you get your new aquarium. Do not add fish on the day you setup your aquarium. New tank would not have those beneficial bacterial colonies. These bacterial colonies help stabilize aquarium environment. In a simple term keep your tanks filled with water for a few days, maximum a week and then introduce a few starter fish. This process is known as tank cycling. Once the tank is fully cycled, gradually add compatible fishes. Take care of the fish compatibility while adding new fishes in tank. For more details on cycling, read my article on Aquarium (Nitrogen) Cycling.

Incompatible Fish, adult size of fish or overstocking: In many cases people add incompatible or keep very small fish with too big fish. It’s like keeping a mouse with a cat. If the tank is not big enough either the small fish become snacks for the bigger fish or dies due to extreme stress. Keeping too many fish will create water quality issue and can create ammonia spikes. Always remember that you consider the adult size of the fish and their compatibility with your tank's mates.

Beginning with too many plants: While it is important to have aquatic plants in the aquarium make sure that you select right combination plants suitable for your fish and water parameter. Remember your plant will grow and require regular trimming so don’t put too many plants in the beginning. Some plants like Cabomba release dead leaf in the beginning, remove them regularly till they get their roots.

While introducing fish to aquarium: Remember most of the disease or bacteria come to your tank while adding new fish or plants. Avoid buying fish from a store where you can see dead fish in the tank or have visible marks on them. Avoid carrying fish in a transparent bag which causes more stress to the fish, Cover the fish packet with a separate cover. Carry the fish as quickly as possible and with least vibration possible. As there will be a temperature difference, leave the fish packet (do not open yet) in the tank and allow it to float in for 30 minutes. Switch off the light and leave them alone. After 30 min open the packet and add about 50% of aquarium water in the packet and leave it for another 15 minutes. After 15 minutes add some more water to the packet and leave it for 15 more minutes. Now you can either release the fish with water to the tank or just the fish using a aquarium net. I recommend not adding the packet water as it will reduce the risk of transmission of any bacteria from the shop. After 3-4 hours you can switch on the light. After you introduce the fish, watch their behaviour with other tank mates.

Improper feeding or Overfeeding: Every fish has its own diet requirement. Though most of them are carnivorous there are few species which are herbivores. Some are bottom feeders while some of them are top feeders. Feed your fish with a mixed diet of flakes, tablets, frozen food and some time live worms or insects. Most of the case your fish will die because of overfeeding than under feeding. Most fishes can survive without any food for 3-4 days easily. Your feeding quantity should be such that your fish can consume it in less than 5 minutes. Over feeding will also create water problem and Nitrate spike. For more detail read my article on Feeding your aquarium fish.

Insufficient Filtration: If your tank is equipped with power filter run it for at least 6-8 hours in a day. The ideal option is to fit them with a timer and run for 15 minutes in every one hour. Adjust the time based on the performance.

Insufficient Aeration: If you have bottom or middle dwellers then oxygen amount in water is critical. In case of low oxygen level, your fishes will stay at the top and breathe from the surface. To avoid this you can fit an air pump (with air diffuser) which will not only aerate the tank but also enhance the look. Air pump is a must at night if you have lots of plants (with fish) in your tank. This is because plants produce oxygen only during day (via photosynthesis) but consume oxygen during night. You may use a timer to adjust the pump timing.

Aquarium lights: Proper lighting is essential and key to a successful planted aquarium. But excessive lighting can cause algae problem. So make sure your aquarium lighting is not too less nor too much. Read my article on Aquarium lighting options (DIY) for details.

Aquarium Temperature: As different fish have different natural habitats, they have temperature comfort zone and will feel stressed if the temperature is too less or too high. So it is important to consider the temperature requirement while buying fish. 24 degree Celsius (76 degree Fahrenheit) is a typical temperature suitable for most tropical species but please research for specific species. As most of the modern aquarium heater comes with thermostat, it is advisable to keep the heater on for 24 hours. Also for a very large aquarium it's advisable to have two small thermometers than a large one so that if one breaks you have the other as backup.

Regular partial water change: As explained in Nitrogen Cycle, the last stage of aquarium waste is Nitrate. Prolong exposure of fish to a high nitrate concentration will damage their gills and excessive stress can lead to disease or death. I recommend a 10% water change every week. Make sure you treat your tap water for Chlorine and Chloramines. Another simpler way is to keep the water in a separate tank/container for a week before adding them to aquarium. Never make a 100% water change in one go. (100% water change will kill/destroy the useful bacteria and you have to recycle your tank).

Ph & Water Hardness: Depending upon the natural habitats, every fish has a comfort zone for PH and hardness. You can alter these parameters using suitable chemicals but it’s not advisable for beginners. If your tap water is very hard/soft or alkaline/acidic then consult your local store or use our forum for expert advice.

Water testing: It is advisable to test your water parameter (Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate) in a regular interval just to ensure that your water quality is suitable for your fish. Some aquarium store offers free water testing to their valued customer so check with your local store for details.

Using second hand or used aquariums: There is absolutely no reason why you can’t use an used aquarium however, be careful while setting up an used aquarium. Wash the aquarium and any accessories thoroughly with normal tap water and keep the water for a week to check for leakage or cracks. Make sure all electrical accessories are secured and insulated before powering them.

Hope you will find this article useful. If you have any question, post your queries on the Forum and I am sure someone will definitely answer your queries.

Good Luck.

Deepak

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