How To Design Your Own Home-Aquarium
Fish are wonderful things aren’t they? They float around peacefully, virtually effortless and without a making a sound other than the occasional bubble! It’s certainly no surprise then that aquariums are said to help to reduce stress levels…
For those days that you can’t make it to the Lakes Aquarium, why not consider getting your own miniature aquarium at home? Fish keeping is great fun and a well-designed fish tank is a great centre piece for any front room.
The first thing you will need of course is a tank. When buying a tank, most fish keepers would argue that the bigger your tank the better – after all, more space means happier fish!
Go for a tank size that suits your needs, consider where you will put your tank. It should be somewhere away from draughts and direct sunlight so as to maintain a constant temperature. Other than that though, the size of tank comes down to personal preference.
What Else Will You Need?
Here are a few other bits you will need to set-up your aquarium. This list is based on a fairly typical, beginner’s set-up, because for your first tank, it’s normally wise to keep it simple:
For the floor of the tank. You just need enough to cover the floor and to make it look nice (for you and the fish). Wash the gravel thoroughly (with water) before putting it in the tank, otherwise you will have a dirty tank before you even start.
- Air Pump / Filter
An air pump is essential to keep your water aerated, which will keep the water cleaner and the fish healthier. You will also need a filter to keep the water fresh, the type of filter you need depends on the size of your tank and how much time you have to maintain it (filters need cleaning too).
If you want to keep tropical fish (tropical fish are generally more colourful, so this is a common option) you will need a heater to keep them warm. Make sure you buy a sufficiently powerful heater for your tank size and fish.
Typical decorations are things like plants and perhaps rocks, castles etc… You can have artificial plants (lower maintenance) or real ones, which obviously look nicer. Beware though, some types of fish will eat live plants, so consider this carefully.
- Test Kit
To test the water and make sure it is safe for the fish. More on that later.
Step 1: Set-Up
The first step is to put everything (minus fish) in your tank and fill it up. Setting up the filter and adding the gravel should be simple enough. Arrange your decorations however you want and basically put everything together as you want it. It is best to use a filter to de-chlorinate the water, this will keep your fish healthier.
Step 2: Cycling
For some filters you will need to fill them up with a cup of water to start them working, if necessary, do this. Now set your filter to maximum.
Basically, cycling is the process where your tank will naturally produce bacteria which take harmful chemicals and turn them into friendly ones. When you first set-up your tank you will need to leave it to cycle for a couple of weeks.
To start with, just add a very small selection of fish, not too many as your tank won’t be able to manage the waste effectively at this stage. After a couple of weeks, test for nitrate levels and sparingly add more fish.
Keep testing the water and add new fish gradually so as not to add to much stress to your delicate eco-system. The exact levels you are testing for depends on the fish you are adding, so do some research on each fish species in advance.
It can also help if you replace about 10% of the water in the tank every few days, this just helps to keep ammonia levels down whilst bacteria are growing.
Choosing Your Fish
Although this is the last part of this post, you will want to decide on what types of fish you want in advance. You can have several types of fish in a tank, but it is vital that you choose fish that will get along.
It is normally best to start by picking a handful of fish that you would like to have in your tank and then considering whether these fish will get along. Ask questions like:
- What temperature do these fish need?
- Are these fish territorial or social?
- Do these fish like to be alone or in a shoal?
- Will these fish eat other, smaller fish?
Above all else, be careful not to overcrowd your tank. The more room your fish have to swim in, the happier they will be and healthier fish look nicer anyway! For your first tank it is probably best to stick to hardier fish who will survive if you make the odd mistake with feeding and maintenance.
About The Author
This guest post was written by Ricky. Ricky is a fish keeper and loves everything aquatic. He works for Swallow Aquatics, who sell aquariums, aquarium stands and lots of other fishy supplies!