How to start – setting up first tank.

Many people find that having a tropical fish tank in their home is relaxing and enjoyable. If you decided to join this fascinating hobby the first step is to find good guide so you can avoid common beginner errors. There are many great books that are guides to different aquarium fish or you can look this guide how to setup new aquarium. The first thing to do is wise shopping. You need buy all necessary equipment and setup tank before you can buy your fish.

Aquarium and stand

It is very important to get quality aquarium and very solid stand for it. Don’t try jump on this step as full tank can weight a lot and contains a lot of water which you really don’t want on your carpet. With so many aquariums on market the best shapes are still the traditional rectangles or cubes. They provide the most surface area in relation to volume and the best viewing angles. Try to avoid other shapes like balls, hexagons – they produce distorted view and not use efficiently space. You should get the largest aquarium you can afford and fit in the room. Many beginners make the mistake of starting with small tanks. With small tank it will be almost impossible to keep water chemistry stable and tropical fish alive. And the last thing you want to see is your tropical fish dying after few weeks. Recommended size of the aquarium to start with is around 55-gallon (208L) which give your fish enough space to live and will keep heating and filtration cost down.

Placement of the aquarium

It is important to place your aquarium in right place at first time. When you fill tank with water and gravel it can weight over 300kg so it will be impossible to move without breaking. You need think careful on location for the aquarium. The aquarium should not be placed in a high traffic area, such a hallway, playroom, or next to the door. Try to avoid direct sun light as it can cause excessive algae growth and raise water temperature to unacceptable level. The best place for the aquarium is in the corner of the room away from window and door. Make sure that you place the aquarium on solid stand which is strong, flat and level. If the stand is not absolutely level it may cause pressure cracks in glass walls of the tank.

Lighting and heating

One important aspect of keeping tropical fish and plants is aquarium lighting. There are many types of aquarium lighting. Most common are Regular Fluorescent Lights – come with most starter tanks and are very affordable. They typically range from 15W to 40W and have Kelvin ratings from 3,000° to 10,000°.  Advanced High Output Fluorescent Lights require a T5 light fixture and are more expensive than Regular Fluorescents Lights but usually last longer. Typically if you want keep plants in your aquarium you should try to provide around 2W-5W per aquarium gallon (depend on what your plants require). It is good to have lighting setup with timer so you can turn on and off light automatically.

To keep your tropical fish happy and alive you need to have the heater. The temperature should be in range between 22°C and 29°C (depend on what your fish require). The best choice is fully submersible heater with thermostat built in. The main role of the heater is to maintain a stable constant temperature. Don’t forget to get decent and accurate thermometer for your aquarium.

Gravel and plants

For tropical aquarium, gravel is the most common substrate. Gravel should not be sharp, size may range from 2mm–8mm. If the gravel is rough or sharp, it is not suitable for bottom-dwelling fish that like to shift the substrate or dig. Gravel sold specifically for use in aquarium should be chemically inert in dark color if possible so it will not reflect light. Be sure to wash and rinse gravel very well. Spread gravel on bottom of the aquarium so it is higher at the back than at the front it will encourage the fish to stay near the front and any decaying matter will drift down toward the front of the tank and be easily siphoned off when you will clean tank.

Water filtration

Your tropical aquarium will need a filter – device that purifies water from the fish waste products which contain ammonia and other poisonous substances. There are many brands and filter types: external, internal (canisters, under gravel filters), mechanical and biological. You need to adjust the filter capacity to the size of the aquarium. Most new filters are combined both: mechanical and biological function to remove waste products, absorption of nitrates, metals, and carbon dioxide.

It is time to start your new tropical tank.

You need wash aquarium, gravel and all decorations before put them inside the tank. Install all necessary equipment: heater, filters and lighting (remember keep them switch off). Make plan what and where you want which plants and you can start planting you aquarium. Now when everything is on place you can fill the tank with water. Use room temperature tap water when filling and try to avoid messing up gravel and plants. To remove chloramine and chlorine from tap water you may need to purchase water conditioner (Tetra Aqua Safe for example). You can turn on your heater, filter and set timers for lighting to around 10h a day. Now your tropical aquarium is almost ready for introduce fish and startThe Nitrogen Cycle”.