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Let's talk Aquariums!

Updated: Apr 15, 2023

A question a child may ask their parents; Mommy, can I have an aquarium? Most often the straight upfront answer would in most cases be; 'That's a lot of work'. Or in some cases, 'Ok, let's go to the fish store this weekend and buy you an aquarium!'

You would imagine being that child, filled with so much excitement and anticipation awaiting the weekend ahead at the fish store. Now, as we all could have experienced this as kids, we rarely wonder if the same-day fish purchase and setup is the best thing to do.

How many of us as children would've wanted to get everything done on that very same weekend and hoped to see our pets stay alive and healthy?

A few questions we may want to ask, being seasoned players in this hobby now;

Is this the right thing to do? To go buy the aquarium, all the decor, and the fishes only to come back home excited and set up everything along with the fishes in one day?

Wouldn't this be a disaster waiting to happen? In complete honesty, we have all gone down this path as kids. Unfortunately, in these situations, excitement often precedes knowledge.

Ensuring this excitement within your child's journey in this wonderful hobby is important but can be short-lived if the wildlife is not properly cared for. With a little education and planning, this aquatic journey can certainly be fruitful and long lasting for your child (or yourself) in this hobby.

Here a few of our recommendations to consider in your planning, before you purchase your equipment.

(This information is for freshwater aquariums, saltwater setup is similar but has a few more steps which will be discussed within our next blog. Stay tuned!)

Placement: When it comes to choosing the right aquarium size, you need to consider the space you have available, the type and number of fish you want to keep, and your overall budget. A larger aquarium is often always better, as it provides a more stable environment for your fish. However, if you have limited space, a smaller aquarium may be the best option. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one gallon of water per inch of fish. Make sure the aquarium will be sitting on a sturdy piece of furniture, if you are only buying the aquarium and not the stand along with it. Alway, ensure the placement of the aquarium is away from any source of direct sunlight. While can often think that natural sunlight is perfect for aquarium life, it can cause near instant problems with excessive algae growth which can be a hassle to clean.

Water: The main essence of life on this planet Earth which is required by nearly all living beings. Before planning to head down to your store, ensure you have enough fresh water stored in a container at least 2- 4 days prior to your setup.

You may ask, "Why wait for a few days? Can we not just add tap water directly to the aquarium?"

  • The tap water we use for drinking contains chlorine, which is added by city municipalities to kill harmful organisms such as viruses and bacteria that could make us sick if we ingested them. While safe for humans, this however is instant poison for our fishes. As chlorine can be used to kill the living cells of viruses, it can also kill cells in fish which can hurt their skin and eventually cause respiratory issues leading to their passing.

To speed up the chlorine's evaporation process, we recommend stock the tap water well ahead of time and letting it sit for 2-4 days. Although there are other options such as boiling the water for around 20 mins or aerating the water with an air stone for 12-24 hours. Fish stores often sell water stabilizing solutions for new aquariums.

Okay, so now we have the water taken care of, we can get shopping and let our excitement take the better of us!

Equipment and Supplies:

Aquarium: The first and most important item you will need is the aquarium itself. There are many different sizes and shapes available, so choose one that fits your space and budget. Shop Aquariums

Substrate: The substrate is the material that covers the bottom of your aquarium. It can be gravel, sand, or any other material that is suitable for your fish.

Heater: A heater is necessary to maintain a consistent temperature in your aquarium. Different types of fish require different temperatures, so it's essential to research the ideal temperature range for the fish you plan to keep. Shop Heaters

Filter: A filtration system is essential for maintaining a healthy and stable environment for your fish. It helps to remove waste, debris, and harmful toxins from the water, which can be harmful to your fish if left untreated. It's important to choose the right filtration system for your aquarium and to maintain it regularly to ensure it's working correctly. Nature does it best with rain, ocean currents, and rivers.

There is a wide range of filter options available today.

Let's take a quick dive in to the kind's of filtration that supports your aquarium

There are three main types of filtration systems for aquariums:

  • Mechanical Filtration: This type of filtration removes physical debris, such as uneaten food and fish waste, from the water. It's usually done by a filter cartridge or sponge.

  • Chemical Filtration: This type of filtration removes harmful chemicals, such as chlorine and heavy metals, from the water. It's usually done by adding activated carbon to the filter.

  • Biological Filtration: Whether you have a small or a big aquarium, all aquariums big or small need some biological filtration support. Bio media is an essential component of your filtration system. It helps to establish a colony of beneficial bacteria that break down harmful toxins in the water. These bacteria are crucial to maintaining a healthy and stable environment for your fish. Choosing the right bio media for your filtration system and maintaining it regularly is essential to ensure it's working correctly. A few examples of using bio media are ceramic rings, bio-balls, and sponge filters.

Select what you can afford, space in your aquarium (internal v/s external) that fit's your budget. Another tip when selecting a filter, choose one that is able to filter at least 10x volume of your aquarium water. Shop Filters

Lighting: Lighting is essential for both the aesthetic appeal and the health of your fish. It helps to simulate a natural day and night cycle for your fish and encourages plant growth. Shop Lighting

Decorations: Decorations, such as plants, rocks, and driftwood, not only add visual appeal to your aquarium but also provide hiding places for your fish so they can feel more safe and overall less stressed.

Water Test Kit: A water test kit is essential for monitoring the water quality in your aquarium. It helps you keep track of the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in the water.

Fishes: When it comes to setting up your first aquarium, one of the key decisions you'll need to make is whether to keep a community of fish or a group of same-species only fish. Here's a closer look at the difference between the two and the importance of choosing the right option for your aquarium.

  • Community Fish Tank: A community fish tank typically includes a mix of different species of fish that can coexist peacefully in the same environment. These fish can range in size, temperament, and swimming habits, but they should all be compatible with one another. A community fish tank can be more visually interesting, as you can see a variety of different fish interacting with one another.

  • Species Only Fish Tank: In a species-only fish tank, you'll only keep one species of fish. This can be a good option for those who want to focus on one particular type of fish or have a specific type of fish in mind that doesn't do well with other species. This type of tank can be easier to manage because you only need to cater to the needs of one species of fish.

When deciding whether to keep a community of fish or a group of species-only fish, there are a few factors to consider. One is the size of your tank. If you have a smaller tank, it may be more difficult to keep a community of fish, as they may be more sensitive to changes in water quality and may not have enough space to swim freely. On the other hand, if you have a larger tank, you may have more flexibility in terms of the number and size of fish you can keep together.

Another factor to consider is the temperament of the fish you're interested in. Some species are more aggressive and territorial than others, and may not do well in a community tank. In these cases, a species-only tank may be a better option.

Finally, it's important to ensure that the fish you choose have similar water temperature, pH levels, and other environmental needs. Doing your research and consulting one of our members at Tropic N Reef Aqauriums can help you make the best decision for your specific situation. Whether you choose a community fish tank or a species-only fish tank will depend on the size of your tank, the temperament of the fish, and other environmental factors. Regardless of which option you choose, it's important to do your research and choose fish that will thrive in your aquarium.

Helping Child Development:

Encouraging children to have an aquarium hobby can be a great way to promote learning, responsibility, creativity, relaxation, and science skills. It can also provide an opportunity for parents and children to bond over a shared interest.

Learning about Nature: An aquarium hobby can be an excellent way to teach children about the natural world. It can help them learn about different types of fish, plants, and other aquatic creatures. They can observe the behavior and habits of these creatures and gain an understanding of their habitats and needs.

Developing Responsibility: Taking care of an aquarium requires a certain level of responsibility. Children can learn about the importance of regular maintenance, such as cleaning the tank, monitoring the water quality, and feeding the fish. This can help them develop a sense of responsibility and accountability.

Promoting Relaxation: Watching fish swim can be very calming and relaxing. Aquariums can provide a peaceful atmosphere that can help children relax, reduce stress, and improve their mental health.

Enhancing Creativity: Decorating an aquarium can be a fun and creative process. Children can choose different plants, rocks, and decorations to create their own unique underwater world.

Improving Science Skills: An aquarium hobby can help children develop an interest in science. They can learn about different biological and chemical processes, such as the nitrogen cycle, and gain an understanding of water chemistry and the importance of maintaining a healthy environment for the fish.

In conclusion, setting up an aquarium can be a fun and rewarding experience that requires careful planning and attention to detail. By choosing the right equipment, fish, and decorations, you can create a beautiful and thriving underwater world that brings joy and wonder to your home.

Check out all the additional equipment to make this hobby easier!

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