Setting up a Freshwater Fish Tank
Written by Katherine Barrington
Information on choosing a fish tank and how to set-one up!
Around the world, millions of people own pets. Some people prefer the standard type pet such as a dog or cat, some people love horses, some birds, and some fish. Owning freshwater fish has a number of advantages over other pets. For instance, owning fish is perfect for people with allergies, people that live in large cities without backyards, people on the go, and so on.
In addition to being easy to care for, freshwater fish are beautiful, graceful, and sometimes, even comical. If you are interested in owning your own freshwater fish, this article will provide you with everything you need to know on setting your tank up correctly.
DECISIONS TO MAKE BEFORE BUYING
Before you go out to buy just any fish tank, you need to consider several things, and make several important decisions:
Where Will I Place The Tank?
The location where you place your fish tank is important for a number of reasons. First, you need to consider the equipment needed to run the tank - make sure you can find adequate room for it to fit behind and on the sides of the tank but also that you can gain access to it easily for maintenance.
Second, you want to find a space that can handle any water spillage. For example, you would not want to place your fish tank on your new white carpet. Instead, tile, linoleum, or an inexpensive rug would be a better option. Finally, the fish tank should be in a location where it will enhance the room by creating a clear view for everyone to enjoy.
A final consideration is whether the placement of the tank would be in the way of receiving direct sunlight. You want to avoid placing the tank in areas of a room that receives too much direct sunlight, as this can encourage unsightly algae growth. Therefore, placing the fish tank where it can receive indirect light is best.
Can I Afford The Cost Of The Tank And Supplies?
Just as you would consider all the costs associated with buying a dog, cat, or horse remember that fish are no different. Before you run out to purchase anything, plan for all the costs such as the:
- Gravel and decorations (e.g., rocks and wood)
- Food and water treatment supplies
- Lighting system and bulbs
- Filter, pumps, and tubing
- And of course, the fish
Obviously, a larger tank would require more gravel, more lighting, more heat, and so on. Therefore, the size of the tank should also be considered into the overall budget.
Can I Set Aside Time Required For Maintenance?
To own fish, you will need to dedicate time to keeping the tank clean. Although this does not involve an exorbitant amount of time, it is important in that a dirty tank looks bad, smells bad, and is a haven for disease.
On average, you should expect to spend about 20 to 30 minutes a day caring for your tank and fish and then about three to four hours a week, which would include an extra hour for a partial water change. Additionally, every few months, an additional three to four hours will need to be put aside for a full tank cleaning.
What Types Of Fish Do I Want To Keep?
When buying fish for your tank, you should not simply take two of these, four of those, and six of these. Keep in mind that different fish have different environmental needs and not all fish get along. Your local pet store can guide you to the types of fish that will do well in the same tank. As you will learn in another article, you also want to limit the number of fish you buy, especially in the beginning to allow time for the tank to cycle.
Regarding the number of fish that a tank will hold, a helpful guideline to follow is one inch of slim-bodied fish for every gallon of water. Now, while this formula is a good one, you do need to consider the type of fish. For example, stocking the tank with one-inch of full-bodied goldfish compared with one-inch of slender Zebras gives you a little more leeway with the Zebras.
Obviously, this rule would be adjusted according to the size of fish and the space needed once it matures. Let us say you were interested in stocking Swordtails, Platies, or Loaches. In this case, the rule would be changed to half an inch of medium bodied fish per the tank's water volume.
Keep in mind that the total gallon capacity of a fish tank has little to do with the number of fish it can handle. Instead, it is the other way around - the mature size of the fish is what limits the number that can live in the fish tank.
Note also that when first cycling your tank (to be covered in the next article), you will want to use a smaller number of fish - the "one inch of slim-bodied fish rule" would not quite apply yet as the tank is not ready to hold its maximum capacity. Please read the article on fish tank cycling for further details.
Additionally, the efficiency of your filtration system and exchange of gas efficiency between the water's surface and the air are the most important factors when determining the load a tank can accommodate.
Most people can do a good job of visualizing the number of fish that will look and live healthy in their tank so if you buy a few too many or not quite enough, this is not something of which you should stress.
If you notice that the water is becoming dirty quickly or the fish tank begins to smell, or if the fish are listless or act as though they are stressed, then perhaps you should reduce the number of fish in that particular tank. This is just one reason why a few minutes of daily monitoring are so important.
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