Monday, December 15, 2008


Have you been thinking of adding a freshwater aquarium to your home? It's a lovely way
to enjoy a miniature riverbed from the comforts of your own room. A beautiful aquarium
with healthy, energetic fish swimming in clear waters and surrounded by green vegetation
is a stunning sight. But before you begin, you need to be armed with all the relevant facts.
As a person who has spent more than 20 years in this hobby, I have tried and tested many
of the tips, secrets and methods you will find in these pages. Setting up an aquarium is
not really a science but needs to be done correctly to give your fish the best possible
home. It needs a little bit of common sense and foresight. There are many dos and don'ts
that are learnt over a long period of trial and error.
This book is written mainly for beginners and I have therefore tried to keep things on a
very basic level and use a language that is easy to understand. By following these basic
instructions you will be able to successfully set up and maintain a freshwater aquarium
with easy or moderately difficult fish species. It is important to keep in mind that
different fish has different demands and this book does only give you basic knowledge
about aquarium keeping. It is advisable to start out with comparatively easy fish species
before you advance to more delicate ones. A lot of fish species have intricate demands
and in order to successfully keep such species you will need to research them more
thoroughly. There is however a lot of beautiful and interesting fish species to choose
among even for the novice aquarist, and by following the instructions in this book you
will be capable of successfully keeping a beautiful aquarium filled with thriving
vegetation and healthy and colorful fish.
How to set up an aquarium

How to set up an aquarium

An aquarium, to put it simply, is a container that can sustain fish and other aquatic life for
a longer period of time. Acquiring a good aquarium for your fish is not a very difficult
job as long as you give it some thought before you actually get it. There are some obvious
considerations to be taken into account. Setting up and fully stocking a good aquarium
will take anywhere between a couple of weeks and a month. The time that you spend with
these basic steps will save you a lot of time and trouble at a later stage.
There are several things to consider before you purchase an aquarium. How much time
you are willing to spend on the aquarium? What kind of aquarium do you want to buy?
What is the ideal spot for your aquarium? What kind of fish should you put in your
aquarium? How do you keep your fish and their environment healthy in the easiest and
quickest way? How much time would it all take to maintain? What should you feed your
fish and how much? What should you do when diseases strike? These are just some of the
many questions that you need to think about.

A good and well stocked aquarium needs quite a bit of equipment. Here is a simple list of
the items that you will need for a basic freshwater aquarium:
�� An aquarium tank
�� An aquarium stand
�� A hood
�� Lighting equipment
�� Air pump
�� Heater
�� Thermometer
�� Filters (internal or external)
�� Gravel
�� Decorations (optional, but interesting if you have these)
�� Maintenance items like scrubber, siphon tube etc.

Choosing a spot for your aquarium

First, you will need to think about how much free space you have for your aquarium,
whether that free space is open to sunlight, and which shape that is best suited for that
free space. Never place an aquarium in direct sunlight and keep the aquarium away from
any heating or cooling surfaces. Sunlight and heating or cooling surfaces will cause
sudden and drastic changes in the temperature within the aquarium, and sunlight will also
promote the growth of algae in the water.
Keep your aquarium away from machines that give out a lot of sound or cause vibration,
like the washing machine, since this will stress the fish. Water accessibility and easy
disposal of dirty water and waste are some other important factors to consider while
selecting a good spot for your aquarium as you don’t want to run around with buckets of
water in your entire house. You will need to clean and change water at least monthly and
better once a week. So, choose a place where you can work easily and without any
interference. In a family with children, special care has to be taken to keep the aquarium
away from areas of frequent activity. You do not want your children to push or fall on the
aquarium while they play and injure themselves or break the aquarium glass.
Any good home has a certain décor. While choosing a spot for your aquarium, you must
consider whether the general décor and lighting in the room will make it an attractive
place for the new aquarium. Take the type of biotope you plan to have in your aquarium
into consideration when you decide if an aquarium will work with the décor of the chosen
spot. Different types of biotopes works with different decors. A saltwater reef aquarium
will for instance have a very different look than a well planted South American biotope.
You should also consider that an aquarium is very heavy so the chosen spot has to be able
to support the weight of the aquarium. Any aquarium over 10 gallons/ 40 L will weigh at
least a hundred and fifty pounds / 70 Kg when filled and decorated. The weight comes
chiefly from the glass and the water, and decoration such as gravel will further add to this
weight. Heavy aquariums will need to be kept on a sturdy stand rather than a shelf or a

Choosing an aquarium

How big should your aquarium be? Aquariums come in many shapes and sizes. It is
advisable to choose an aquarium that is at least 10 gallons/ 40 L, since small aquariums
are much more difficult to maintain. The waste build up in small aquariums is quick and
quite large in comparison with a larger aquarium. A small aquarium will therefore require
very frequent water changes. Changes in temperature or water chemistry will also take
place more quickly in small aquariums. Rapid changes in the temperature or water
chemistry are harmful for fish.
I would recommend a 30-gallon/120 L aquarium to novice aquarists, since this will
provide enough room for more fish and is easier to maintain as it has enough water
volume to dilute fish waste. A larger aquarium will naturally be even easier to maintain,
but the benefits of an aquarium that is larger than 30-gallon/120 L is not as significant as
the difference between a 30-gallon/120 L aquarium and a smaller one. A 30-gallon/120 L
aquarium is large enough to buffer against to rapid changes in water values. 30-
gallon/120 L is therefore an ideal beginner size.
Fish aquariums come in many shapes ranging from rectangular to hexagonal or even
cylindrical. While making your purchase, it is not only the beauty of the piece that
counts. Mundane matters like how easy it will be to clean out the aquarium regularly, and
how to keep all the nooks and crannies hygienic are important considerations.
The height of the aquarium is also a very important aspect. An aquarium that is very deep
is complicated to keep for the beginner aquarist. Increased height means greater difficulty
when cleaning and your aquarium might therefore always carry some amounts of waste
even after a thorough clean up. Poor light penetration is another problem with a deep
aquarium. Plants will not thrive in water that has poor light penetration and special
lighting is therefore needed in deep planted aquariums.

Acrylic or Glass Aquarium

Glass aquariums usually cost less and do not get scratches as easily as acrylic aquariums.
Glass aquariums are also stronger, as they are bonded together by a silicone sealant. They
need support only on the edges, unlike acrylic aquariums. Glass aquariums are very
durable, and can last for many years without any problems. Proper lighting will make
glass aquariums look almost as clear as acrylic ones. On a negative note can be said that
glass aquariums are always much heavier than acrylic.
However, if you are looking for irregular shapes, than these are easier to obtain as acrylic
aquariums. Acrylic aquariums are much clearer than glass, and have better insulation.
This means that you can use a smaller heater in your aquarium to maintain the proper
temperature. Acrylic aquariums do however scratch easily and can therefore only be
cleaned with specially made soft pads. Removing scratches from acrylic aquariums can
be quite a troublesome procedure.
The price can also be an important factor when it comes to buying your first aquarium.
Glass aquariums are usually the cheaper alternative and there is also a wider selection of
second hand glass aquariums than there is of second hand acrylic aquarium since glass
aquariums are more durable.

Putting the aquarium in place

When you have selected the best aquarium for your needs, it is time to take it home. Here
is a checklist that you need to consider:
􀂾 Look for any scratches on the aquarium before you make
the purchase.
􀂾 Test to see if there are any leaks in the aquarium.
􀂾 Take care not to load any heavy items inside the aquarium
while you carry it home. This may lead to scratching or even
Get a tight fitting hood for the aquarium when you buy it. An open aquarium is never a
healthy option. More water will evaporate form an aquarium where the water is open to
sunlight, heat etc. Evaporation will lead to the water becoming concentrated with waste
and animal- and plant debris, and can also cause water damages and mildew in the room
around the aquarium. Contamination from falling waste is another problem. With an open
aquarium you will also risk casualties since fish often jump out of an open aquarium, and
ending up on the floor is more often than not fatal for the fish unless you immediately
spot it and put it back in the aquarium. Thus an aquarium needs a good and sturdy hood.
These hoods come in various decorative shapes and colors.
There are various accessories that go with your aquarium, other than the hood. An
aquarium is a complete set of a number of equipment that works together


The first equipment that you will come across is probably the lighting for the aquarium.
Most hoods come with fluorescent or incandescent lighting. Fluorescent bulbs are a better
choice despite the fact that they are a bit more expensive since they have long-term
benefits. They burn cooler, thereby not affecting the water temperature at all. Fluorescent
bulbs have another benefit as they uses less electricity. Fluorescent bulbs can be
purchased in sizes that cover the entire aquarium. This will provide even lighting in all
areas of the aquarium. There are a wide variety of fluorescent bulbs that emit different
spectrums of light. Some of these will even assist plant growth. Some will lead to an
increase in algae growth. Optimal plant growth requires a particular wattage, which can
be decided by the size of the aquarium. Usually, 1 gallon of water will require 1.5 watts.An average aquarium requires 8 to 10 hours of light a day. If you use incandescent
lighting it is however better to turn on the lighting for a few fixed hours a day. Especially
in the case of smaller aquariums, the water will become considerably hotter during the
day. And at night, once the light is switched off, the temperature of the water will drop