Starting a Fish Tank for Beginners


What Is Involved In Keeping An Aquarium?

In terms of pets, fish are a low-maintenance and low-cost alternative if their tank is correctly set up. Filtration systems are available to assist with tank cleaning, and a sensible investment in a filter will decrease the amount of labour required to maintain your fish healthy and happy, and your tank looking as it should. There is, however, no setup that is fully maintenance free. If your tank has enough filtration and is not overstocked or overfed, the best maintenance plan is a minor water change (removal and replacement of around 20 – 25% of the water) once every two weeks. This procedure should take no more than fifteen minutes and, if done on a regular basis, should reduce the need for messy and time-consuming tank strip-downs (which are also bad for the fish!). Cleaning the gravel may be done at the same time as changing the water by using a gravel cleaner, and it only takes a few seconds to remove algae if it is not allowed to develop too quickly. You will also need to do some filter system maintenance. The quantity and frequency of this may vary depending on the kind of filter used, but it can usually be done at the same time as a water change and will only take a few minutes longer. If you opt to start with an unfiltered aquarium, plan on changing 50 to 80% of the water once a week (or almost 100% in bowls or extremely tiny aquariums). Of course, you’ll spend a few minutes each day feeding your fish and, ideally, many hours each day just sitting back and watching them!

How much will it cost to set up and run?

The initial (and continuing) expenditures will undoubtedly be determined by the size of the aquarium, the kind of filtration, and whether you pick coldwater or tropical species. Coldwater aquariums are less expensive to set up since no heater is required, and a very tiny coldwater tank may be maintained without a filter (though this is not the most recommended approach!).

If you want a simple tiny tank or bowl with no filter, you should budget between $25 and $60. This would contain the necessities of fish maintenance, such as the tank or bowl, gravel, fish food, chlorine neutralizer, and sometimes a plant or small adornment. This sort of setup does not have a large ongoing financial expense, but it does need much more upkeep and can only accommodate a limited number of coldwater species.

Allow $100 – $150 if you want an aquarium that is simpler to manage. This has a little bigger tank, an excellent power filter, and all of the necessities. A system that can be converted to a tropical tank with the addition of a heater may be purchased for roughly $100 to $120.

You can get a tank with a simpler, air-driven filter for less money, but these filters have downsides. Power filters are preferred over air-driven types for a variety of reasons, the most important of which are that they offer superior filtering, operate silently (where an air pump may be loud), and have reduced ongoing expenditures. If you want a filter but cannot afford the initial expense of a power filter, an air-driven filter is much superior than none at all. Air-driven filters are typically priced between $20 and $40. Power filters alone start at $35 for the lowest versions. Filtering will be discussed in more depth later, however for a comprehensive explanation of filtration and the relative benefits of various filter systems, click here.

A small tropical tank will typically cost between $150 and $200, including a small powerfilter and a heater. Most individuals would spend $250 to $300 on a small to medium tropical tank and then upgrade to a better filter and/or heater, a bigger tank, and maybe a fluorescent light.

Aquarium fluorescent lighting kits are more costly than fluorescent fittings for the house. This is because of two factors: To begin with, the light hoods are intended to be as safe as possible, since they must be positioned over an aquarium and may be vulnerable to water splashes, etc. Second, aquarium tubes are more costly than domestic fluoros because they include particular phosphors that create the right light spectrum for tanks. A light is not required to maintain tropical or coldwater fish. It is required if you wish to cultivate living plants. A light, on the other hand, is useful, particularly for tropicals, since their dazzling colours cannot be fully enjoyed without one.

Larger tanks need larger filters, heaters, and lighting, therefore the price rises proportionately. You may also need a stand for your aquarium, particularly if it is huge, and there are cabinets available to make your aquarium into a piece of living furniture. A bigger tank on a pedestal will typically cost between $400 and $800, including filtration and heating, while an aquarium cabinet will cost about the same as any other high-quality piece of furniture, putting the total cost to between $700 and $1,200. Large aquariums (those taller than 50 cm) must be manufactured with extremely thick glass or acrylic, and will typically cost between $1,500 and $3,000 depending on size, stand or cabinet style, and filtration. The sky is indeed the limit; some individuals have spent more than $15,000 on aquariums! However, the inverse is also true, and a setup for any budget may be discovered.

If you desire a huge aquarium but have a limited budget, we propose that you evaluate all costs, notably filtration. Rather of purchasing the biggest tank you can afford and having little left over for additional equipment, try acquiring a smaller tank or a more basic stand and investing the extra money on your aquarium’s life-support system. After all, it is this that keeps the fish alive and the tank clean, allowing you to enjoy your pastime!

What size aquarium should I buy?

It is normally recommended that you get the biggest aquarium you can afford (complete with the necessary filtration etc). A higher amount of water provides more stable water conditions for the fish, as well as the possibility to accommodate more or larger fish. Of course, you must also consider the available space. You may have to settle for a smaller aquarium due to space or budgetary constraints. As previously said, if you are on a tight budget, it is preferable to acquire a smaller tank rather than scrimp on filtration and other equipment.

If you simply want to maintain one or two little coldwater fish and are willing to handle the necessary regular care, you will only need a small aquarium (12″ – 14″ or around 10 l) or bowl. Consider acquiring at least a 14-inch tank if you want to maintain more fish or don’t want to perform as much maintenance “(10 l) aquarium or bigger, since powerfilters may be installed. (Filtering a tiny aquarium or bowl is tough.) A tank of at least 25 l (eg 16 gallons) is required for tropical fish “) is preferable since the temperature of smaller tanks might change too quickly. If you want a tank that can be converted to a marine tank later, a tank of approximately 150 l (eg 36) is ideal “) is advised, although a mini-reef may be set up in a tank as small as 80 l (e.g., an enlarged 24″ or 30”) or in all-in-one units as tiny as 25l.

Will my fish grow to the size of my tank?

The straightforward answer is no. The size of a tank does not, in and of itself, limit a fish’s growth. A potentially huge species, on the other hand, will never achieve full size in a tiny tank.

The quantity of garbage produced by a fish rises exponentially as it develops. In a tiny tank, the water volume and filtration will be unable to deal with the additional load, the fish will get stressed, and they will most likely succumb to illness. A fish may grow to such a size in an aquarium if the tank is maintained immaculately clean, although this is uncommon.

Fish development may be inhibited in small or crowded tanks – there is some evidence that high levels of nitrate (common in areas with a high bioload) hinder growth – but the fish will still grow slowly.

Choose species that are appropriate for the size of your aquarium. Goldfish maintained in unheated aquaria are an exception. Goldfish, despite their size, do not develop fast if maintained in colder water and not overfed. They are also very robust and resistant to waste products. Goldfish may therefore be housed in smaller aquaria, but should not be overcrowded. If a goldfish outgrows its tank, it should be returned to the shop to find a new (bigger) home, or it should be given to someone who has a larger aquarium or pond. Keep in mind that aquarium fish should never be discharged into the wild.

Should I get coldwater or tropical fish?

Both techniques of fish keeping have advantages and disadvantages, and the ultimate choice is yours.

Coldwater fish have the following advantages: inexpensive initial setup costs with little equipment necessary, virtually all species are hardy, and most are compatible. The biggest drawback of coldwater is the small number of species accessible. Furthermore, goldfish (by far the most popular coldwater fish) are quite dirty and will devour plants.

Tropical fish are thought to be more difficult to maintain than coldwater fish. There are several tropical fish species that are just as tough as coldwater fish. However, it is also true that certain species are very difficult to maintain or are huge and aggressive. However, if you stick to hardy, calm fish, they are really simpler to keep than coldwater species since they are less filthy. Furthermore, the majority of these species do not consume vegetation. There are many different species of fish for tropical tanks, but not all are suitable, and many are not advised for beginners. Even with these limitations, the selection of starter fish in tropical waters is much greater than in coldwater. The primary downside of tropical aquariums is the greater initial investment. Tropicals need at least a 35 l tank (eg 18 gallons) “), tropicals cannot be kept without a filter, and a heater is also required.

What does a filter do?

A filter’s apparent job is to clean the tank, but there’s more to it than that. Even though the water in an aquarium seems to be crystal clean, it may still be improper for the fish. It is critical to understand that although excellent water clarity is desired, it does not always imply good water quality. The second, less evident, but equally vital aim of filtering is to eliminate hazardous dissolved waste materials from water. What follows is a general overview; for a more detailed explanation of filtration and water quality, please visit our filtration information pages. There are also explanations of the many types of filters available, as well as a guidance to selecting the optimum filter for your tank.

Ammonia (NH3), which is harmful even at low amounts, is excreted by fish. Fortunately, two groups of naturally existing bacteria that colonise all surfaces in an aquarium (including the walls, gravel, and decorations) swiftly convert this ammonia to less harmful nitrite (NO2) and eventually to comparatively innocuous nitrate (NO3). While these bacteria are constantly present, they can only digest ammonia at a particular pace, their numbers are restricted, and they depend on a continuous supply of oxygenated water to perform these transformations. A filter offers a proper flow of water as well as a location for the bacteria to colonise, enabling their numbers and efficiency to grow. Because bacteria in an aquarium can only convert a limited amount of ammonia and nitrite without a filter, the quantity (and size) of fish must be restricted, and regular water changes are required to eliminate any extra ammonia and nitrite before they reach deadly quantities. See this page for a graphical representation of the nitrogen cycle.

Some filters are intended to “sieve” water through a sponge to collect tiny particles (a process known as mechanical filtration), but in this instance, the sponge also acts as a location for bacteria to convert ammonia and nitrite (biological filtration). Other filters may use a material intended mainly for biological filtration, which may not remove as much tiny particle matter but will improve water quality more. A filter should ideally offer a suitable blend of mechanical and biological filtering. It is critical to clean the filter media on a regular basis to eliminate debris, since this may obstruct water flow and ultimately choke the filtering microorganisms. However, if the cleaning is too thorough, the filtering bacteria will be destroyed. It is advisable to gently rinse any solid waste from the filter medium with aquarium water (eg water that has been removed for a water change). Do not be concerned about discoloration of the filter medium; this is generated by beneficial microorganisms.

The removal of dissolved pollutants via chemical means, such as adsorption onto a reactive surface such as activated carbon or zeolite, is a third form of filtering. This is referred to as chemical filtering. Carbon, zeolite, or other materials may be inserted in a variety of filters to give a site for biological filtration as well as chemical action. Although advantageous, chemical filtration is not required and should not be used in lieu of effective biological filtering. Chemical filtration media must normally be destroyed after they have been exhausted (that is, they have absorbed as much waste product as they can), and if not replaced, they may potentially leak poisons back into the aquarium. If these media are used, they should be changed at least once a month; otherwise, they should be avoided.

While filtration is beneficial, it does not remove the need for regular water changes. Nitrate will accumulate and create issues in the long run. Even at low quantities, nitrate promotes algae development, and at greater amounts, it is hazardous to many fish. Other waste products accumulate as well, and although they are not hazardous, they reduce the pH of the water (ie make it more acidic). Allowing the water to grow too acidic may actually harm the fish, causing sickness or even death. For these reasons, even with strong filtration, it is necessary to do frequent partial water changes.

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