Starting a New Aquarium

Starting out in the aquarium hobby can be very exciting and lots of fun for the whole family.  This Aqua notes care sheet is a rough outline that is a good start but should be expanded upon by other books, or other A World of Fish Aqua Notes care sheets.  To help you get started we have made a list of the following aquarium essentials. 

Aquarium - Purchase the largest aquarium you have space for and can afford.  Keep in mind that the capacity for the aquarium is approximately one inch of adult fish per gallon of water.  An aquarium that is a horizontal shape is better  than a vertical one, due to increased oxygen exchange and territory space.  Position your aquarium away from excess light, to help prevent algae growth.  Confirm that the aquarium stand or furniture can handle the weight of roughly ten pounds per gallon and that the aquarium stand is level. 

Light Hood - Aquarium hoods are a must since many of the aquarium inhabitants can jump out.  In addition, it helps to slow down evaporation which can change the chemistry of the water.  A light is necessary to grow live aquatic plants (see A World of Fish live plant Aqua Note care sheet)  Good light is also beneficial in showing off fish coloration.

Filter -  A good filter is necessary to have a healthy aquarium.  There are three different approaches to filtering an aquarium.  In order of importance, they are 1) biological, 2) mechanical and 3) chemical.  The biological filter can be either a trickle filter (wet/dry), under gravel, or power canister filter.  These types of filters typically have a slow water flow over a media that bacteria can grow and thrive on.  The result will be a break down of fish waste (see A World of Fish nitrogen Aqua Notes care sheet).  Mechanical filters, simply strain out the particles.  Chemical filters use activated carbon or resin to chemically remove dissolved substances from the water.  Note:  Marineland's Biowheel technology accomplishes all three methods very well while also oxygenating the water, yet utilizing only a single filter. 

Heaters - If you are planning on keeping native fish or goldfish, a heater is not required unless there are large fluctuations in temperature.  Most tropical aquariums are best kept between 78 and 80 degrees.  An accurate thermometer checked regularly is a good idea. 

After purchasing the essential items for your aquarium, we would recommend checking the aquarium for chips or leaks by setting the aquarium up for a few days in an area where if it does leak, no damage will be caused.  If it is a new aquarium, it is probably under warranty.  If it is an old aquarium, we have silicone glue that is safe for use to repair the leak. 

If there are stains or lime, rinse out the aquarium with water only.  Use of a lime remover product called Rydyt manufactured by Python Products will remove any lime stains.  Another good idea is to have a five-gallon bucket that is labeled specifically for aquarium use only; this will be handy for water changes and aquarium cleaning. 

If you have selected an under gravel filter, assemble it now.  Rinse the gravel well and use enough gravel to create a two to three inch layer at the bottom of the tank.  If you are using other biological filters, you can either add rinsed gravel or sand at this point.  Fill the aquarium three fourths full with reverse osmosis water, spring water, or softened tap water plus Ammonia Detox (see A World of Fish water quality Aqua Notes care sheet).  This is a good time to add any ornaments or decorations you may desire.  Keep in mind that you can add any aquarium specific decorations at any time.  Thus your aquarium's appearance can look different any time you desire. 

When first setting up your aquarium, the water may be a little cloudy, which is completely normal.  Fill the aquarium to just above the bottom of the top frame and start the filters.  Next plug in your aquarium heater and be sure to read the manufacturer's directions.  Be careful noting that the heater can be easily broken since it is made of glass.  The correct temperature for tropical fish is 78-80 degrees. 

Allow the aquarium to run for a couple of days before you purchase your first fish  (see possible assortment of fish below).  Start the aquarium with only two inches of fish per ten gallons until the aquarium fully cycles (see A World of Fish nitrogen cycle care Aqua Notes sheet).  Be patient!  A World of Fish does free water testing and we also have great water test kits available for purchase.  Once the aquarium is cycled, add a few inches of tropical fish per ten gallons of water every couple of weeks or so.  If you have questions ask one of our associates, and we will be happy to assist you.  We are all avid hobbyists and all have aquariums at home too.  HAVE FUN!!!

Fish for aquariums of two gallons and up, typically community fish and non-aggressive species:

Neon Tetras * Black Tetras *
Glowlight Tetras * Pearl Gouramies
White Clouds * Harlequin Rasboras *
Head & Tail Lite Tetras * Pristella Tetras *
Corydoras Catfish Dwarf Frogs
Guppies ** Platies **
Ghost Glass Catfish Cherry Barbs
Black Phantom Tetras Sword Tails **
Mollies ** Emperor Tetras

Fish for aquariums of ten gallons and up, these are larger fish and are semi-aggressive species: 

Blood Fin Tetras * Lemon Tetras *
Serpae Tetras * Black Tetras *
All Danio Species * Tiger Barbs
Black Ruby Barbs Pictus Catfish
Corydoras Catfish Blue Gouramies
Gold Gouramies Platnum Gouramies
SwordTails ** Sailfin Mollies **

Note:  This is just a partial list of the fish that are available

* These fish work well in initial cycling of the aquarium (see A World of Fish Aqua Notes Nitrogen Cycle).

** These fish will require Bausman tonic to do well (these fish live with high salt content in their native habitat).