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Like most things in life, the key to success is always to know what you are doing before you start doing it, fishkeeping is no different. That may sound a bit obvious, but it is surprising to see how many people think fishkeeping is just a matter of filling an aquarium tank with water and adding fishes. Without a sound basic knowledge of how to set up & maintain a tropical freshwater aquarium, your success rate will be not be good. In fact the chances are it will be a disaster and it can lead to you either putting your aquarium up for sale or having to start all over again. Believe me, it’s not a nice feeling after you have spent a lot of time & money in setting up your tank.I have learnt from my mistakes and after ten years of fishkeeping I have come across most of the likely & unlikely pitfalls & problems that one may encounter. It can be very difficult to know just where and how to start so the more reason to find out exactly what is involved before you buy any equipment, let alone fishes.
NOTE: - There are many parameters to be considered in fishkeeping than just adding fishes to your tank.So if you have decided to become a fishkeeper or you are at least thinking about it, then I hope this review will give you a clearer picture of what is needed to set up & maintain an aquarium or at least it will guide you on the right path. The rewards are worth it at the end as you will find that not only is an aquarium an attractive feature in the home but as your experience & knowledge of fishkeeping increases you will get more gratification & satisfaction out of it & it can eventually bring a lifetime of enjoyment.
What tank size shall I buy?
Where do I plan to keep my aquarium?
Believe it or not but this is one of the major pitfalls that many people stumble over – Not many take into account where they plan to put their aquarium before buying it. An important preparation that is initially overlooked until its too late. Most fish tanks are sold with supportive cabinets/stands which also have to be looked at when deciding where to place the aquarium & if you plan to buy a tank without a stand you have to make sure that whatever base you are using around the home is strong enough to carry the weight you are planning to put on it. Other factors such as the safety & accessibility aspects around the house have to be also taken into account & more importantly the location you choose has to have at least 3 wall sockets near by & at the same time your tank should be displayed somewhere accessible for viewing & maintenance.
NOTE: When buying a big tank then I would recommend you buy it with the cabinet stand. You will have to pay more but the cabinet stand will guarantee a flat & level surface and more importantly it will be capable of handling the weight involved. The other added advantages of having a cabinet are that you can store other fish equipment underneath.What sort of fishes would I like to keep?
• Cold Water Fish
• Tropical Fish
• Marine Fish
• Freshwater Fish
Another important factor which a lot of people tend to overlook in fishkeeping is the amount of fish your aquarium can accommodate – Its no good buying lots of fish if your aquarium size is small, there will not be enough oxygen in the tank & it will cause you a lot of problems if you overcrowd - Fish need room to swim & explore thus providing a harmoniously environment.Fish compatibility
Buying fish can be very costly so the more reason to find out which species of fish should not be mixed together. People fail to realize when going into fishkeeping that not all fish are compatible. Even if the fishes you buy belong to the same group it doesn’t necessarily mean they will get along. Its your job to be able to distinguish the peaceful fish from the more aggressive fish either by asking the pet shop assistant or by getting yourself a fish book that will explain in detail what fishes are best suited.
Fishes welfare must always come first
NOTE: I cannot stress enough the importance of getting everything right the first time around. There is no point in setting up your aquarium then finding out later that everything you have bought won’t do for the fishes you want to keep. That will mean starting again from scratch, & even worse wasting your time and money.TIP: Water quality is easily as important to your fish – Tap water has chlorine gas, which is highly toxic to fishes. To overcome this problem then all you have to do is fill your tank with water & leave for 24 hours before adding fish. Make sure you leave the top of your tank open; this way the chlorine gas will disperse & evaporate into the air.
• - Plants: You should treat aquarium plants with as much respect as fishes. There are a wide variety of plants that you can buy, some are small, some are tall, some float, some are rooted, some are tropical, some have large leaves, some a rough or smooth in texture – either way its something you still need to take into account when furnishing your tank. Plants play an important role in your aquarium, the available forms & contrasting shades of plant life will keep your tank healthy & your fish will thrive in a more natural habitat. Plants also provide refuge, shade, food & in most cases plants are good spawning sites.
Hagen Equipment & Accessories
• - Lighting: Even if your tank receives natural light you will still require artificial lighting. At least 12 hours of light per day is needed by fishes & plants alike and artificial lighting is only way you can guarantee this. The tank also looks wonderful when lit in the dark a complete contrast to how you would view it during the day. The most commonly used type of artificial lighting is the fluorescent tubes inside the hood of the tank, which is controlled by an off/on switch.• - Heating: Unless you intend to keep cold water fishes you will need equipment to maintain your aquarium at the right temperature. The only way you can do this is by buying a heater, more commonly known as a thermostat. Pet shops sell different types of thermostat heaters so always ask the pet assistant if your not sure which one to buy. At times you may even have to buy two heaters for one tank but that only applies if you have a really large tank. Remember that heaters are quite expensive but the plus side is they last very long.
• - Filters: Filters vary in shape & size, pet shops will either sell you the very basic & cheap filter or a highly sophisticated motorized filter unit. Unless you are planning to only have a few fish in your tank then I recommend you invest well in a good filter. A really good filter can set you back between £100 to £300 but in the long run it will be well invested & you will soon reap in the benefits. The filter will keep the water clean, constantly re-cycling it. All waste products will be filtered out whilst pumping clean water back into your aquarium. If you invest in a bad & cheap filter you will find yourself cleaning your tank more often than expected. You also have to remember that filters last a very long time so when you do buy one consider forking out a few more ££££`s in a good one.• - Oxygen Pump: It is always better to have more oxygen than too little oxygen in your aquarium – so I recommend you buy yourself a basic oxygen pump.
• - Gravel: Gravel comes in different colours & various grain sizes. It not only looks good but it also adds more of a natural habitat look to your aquarium. Its also beneficial to certain water plants & fishes as the gravel is used for feeding, breeding, burrowing, as well as a substrate for plant roots to grow & anchor themselves. The gravel you decide to buy will depend on the species of fish you plan to buy, so always ask your pet dealer which gravel is best suited for you.Other Tank Furnishings
You can also create a beautiful underwater landscape with the many additional accessories that can be found in pet shops such as;• - Large & Small Rocks
How much will all this set me back?
Lets say you decided to buy a• £200 - 3ft Tank with cabinet
Total £473 – Round it up to the nearest figure £500The initial first buy in fishkeeping will always be the most expensive providing you do it right the first time around but after that you will only be spending money on different fish species, fish food & the occasional water plants. Do not quote me on any of the above prices as they may vary from one pet shop to another & it also depends in what area you live in. I find that most pet shops in Central London are really expensive - On the other hand pet shops out of London are quite cheap.
¤¤ Bottom Line ¤¤
Fishkeeping is a hobby that can bring a lifetime of enjoyment; the rich variety of fishes makes keeping an aquarium a captivating pastime. Much pleasure can be gained from planning a particular natural habitat & selecting spectacular and colourful fishes to live in it. Though the ultimate thrill for me is relaxing in my living room and enjoying the view of the miniature sea world that I have created. Aquariums really do make attractive & wonderful furnishings to any home & after ten years of fishkeeping I enjoy it more and more.
~ This has to be the longest and in-depth op I have ever written. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. ~
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