Tips For The New Hobbyist
Page & Colleen Ullman
Whether you are setting up a 10-gallon or 100-gallon aquarium, here are a few steps to follow.
1. Always check how much space you have for an aquarium and get the biggest one available for that location. Some say a bigger aquarium is easier to maintain than a smaller one.
2. It is important to keep in mind the type of fish you want . . . peaceful or semi-aggressive community fish, African or South American cichlids, or goldfish. We don’t recommend that you mix these different types of fish together; however there are a few exceptions. Some fish may be very small when you purchase them, but in six months they could out grow your aquarium. A safe rule to follow is one inch of fish for every gallon of water. A salesperson will be glad to assist you in selecting fish that can be raised together.
3. Once you have selected your aquarium, you will need filtration. We recommend two different types of filtration for each aquarium. Some choices are undergravel filters, back filters, canister filters, and wet-dry systems.
4. A special reminder–a background will be much easier to put on your aquarium before you add the water. Use black electrical tape to hold your background in place.
5. After you have filled your new aquarium with water, remember to add chlorine remover. We recommend doubling the amount called for by any manufacturer.
6. Allow your aquarium to run 24 to 72 hours before adding your first fish. Most aquariums go through a cycling period that usually lasts between two to four weeks. During this time your water will not be biologically stable.
7. On average we recommend your aquarium’s pH level stay between 7.8 and 8.3 (certain fish require it lower). Both the ammonia and nitrite levels need to be zero. However, during the first two to four weeks it is normal for those levels to rise and fall. For this reason we prefer that you begin your aquarium with a few inexpensive fish or feeder fish. It is not uncommon to loose a few fish during this period. Simply discard any dead ones. Please allow 10 to 14 days for your tank to cycle before bringing us ½ cup water to be tested. DO NOT have any fish in your water sample to be tested. DO NOT add addition fish to your new aquarium until you have had the water tested and all tests are normal. Adding additional fish can cause your aquarium to cycle longer and increase your chances of losing more fish.
8. It is not uncommon for a new aquarium to become cloudy after a few days. The cloudiness will go away naturally in one to three weeks. There is no need to add any chemicals to clear it.
9. Once your aquarium has stabilized, it should be safe to add addition fish. Ask a salesperson how many you can safely add at a time, and let them know how long your aquarium has been running with fish in it. We recommend adding at least two or more fish at a time to lower chances of original fish picking on the newcomers. You will not need any scavengers for the first four to six weeks.
10. Leave your aquarium’s light on for eight to 12 hours a day. DO NOT leave it on all the time!
11. Feed your fish once a day no matter how big your fish are! DO NOT follow directions on food packages.
12. NEVER put your hand/arm into your aquarium if you have lotion, perfume, or other chemicals on of any kind, and NEVER spray aerosols close to your aquarium.
13. NEVER remove your fish from the aquarium to clean the aquarium!
14. NEVER use any cleansers to clean ANYTHING going into your aquarium!
Begin regular water changes after your tank has stabilized. Remember–even a clear aquarium can have water quality problems. It is very important to do regular maintenance. A salesperson can tell you how often and how much water to change, depending on what type of fish you have.