Swimming colorful fishes in aquariums always captures the attention of people. These are full of life and energetic creatures attract all the age group people but children especially like them. Some of us fall in love with fishes and start fishkeeping. But without proper knowledge, around 60% of people quit from their favorite hobby within a few months. So we need to learn some basic requirements of fishkeeping. This hobby is very interesting. There are many health benefits associated with fish watching. Let us know some of the benefits:
- An aquarium can helps in getting rid of many behavioural and psychological problems.
- People feel relaxed and happy when they watch fish activities.
- Fish watching helps in reducing stress.
- Spending time with aquariums helpin reducing high blood pressure and heart rate.
- Watching aquarium fishes also help in reducing hyperactivity disorder symptoms in children.
- Watching aquariums keeps Alzheimer patients calm and improve their eating habits.
- Even watching aquarium movies helpin reducing the stress and anxiety.
Now we are aware with the health benefits associated with aquariums. Some of us can be fascinated towards fishkeeping. But before falling in the hobby, we should learn how to become a successful aquarist or aquarium keeper. Before adopting any living thing in our life, we should know that every life is precious. We should know the proper way to setup an aquarium.
First of all we should know about the external appearance of the fish. Here is some description of external anatomy of fish.
Before bringing an aquarium at home, study as much possible about fishes, their requirements. As per my experience, 60% to 70% L.F.S. (Local Fish Shop) salesperson are reason people quit their hobby within six months. So we should study following points prior to own an aquarium.
- Plan your budget for the aquarium.
- Fix suitable and enough place for the aquarium. The place should not face direct sunlight. The place should have proper ventilation. There should not be too much vibration and noise.
- Mainly water can be categorized on the basis of salinityin three types:
- Fresh water
- Brackish Water
- Salt water or Sea water
Now time to decide which type of aquatic inhabitants you want to keep. This is the most critical decision. After deciding the type of aquarium, start study on specific type of fishes, water parameters etc. Here we will discuss only on freshwater aquarium.
- The next phase is to choose the fishes/invertebrates as per aquarium size. Make a list of your favorite fishes. Check their compatibility and requirements. Their feeding habits, swimming area etc. After study each of the fish/invertebrate, prepare the final list.
- Start collecting required hardware/equipments, stand/cabinet, substrate, rocks, woods, decorative material, heater, chiller/fans, light hood etc. Consider following points at the time of owning the aquarium material.
- Stand/cabinet: Stand or cabinet should be capable to hold the weight of aquarium. Cabinets have space to hide the aquarium equipments, wires etc. But it is expensive in comparison of stand.
- Aquarium: Bigger is the best. It is easy to maintain a bigger aquarium in comparison of small aquariums. Their water parameters remains stable.
Shape of an aquarium is also important. Rectangular aquarium provides maximum surface area to fishes so they are the best. Other shaped aquariums, bowls etc. are not good option.
- Rocks: Always check a rock before introducing in the aquarium. Follow the below mentioned procedure to test a rock:
Take the rock you want to put in aquarium. Put some drops of acid or vinegar over the rock. If it produces fizzes, means the rock contain carbonate or bicarbonate. The rock will increase the pH level of the water. The high pH level can cause the bad health of several fishes, invertebrates and plants. So always use rocks which do not affect water parameters.
- Woods: Woods lowers the pH of water and release tannin in the water. They are integral parts of several river biotopes.
Always choose hard woods for the aquarium. These wood should not release oil in the aquarium. It is better to buy bogwoods, driftwoods available on aquarium shops. Boil woods prior to introduce to get rid of parasites, bacteria etc.
- Filtration: Filter is an essential part of aquarium. It cleans the water and also houses the beneficial bacteria. It also creates flow in the aquarium. There are several types of filters in the market. Canisters are the best but also expensive. The filtration should be 5 to 6 times more than aquarium water volume.
- Other equipments: We also need some other equipments like as heater, fishes, thermometer, cooling fans, power heads, air pumps etc. for proper functioning of aquarium.
- Layout of aquarium: Layout of aquarium means arranging the hardware like rocks, woods, plants in artistic way. Make a plan for placement of every available object.
Setting up the aquarium
- Position the stand/cabinet at desired place. Stand/Cabinet should be enough strong to hold the weight of filled aquarium. Lay a thermocol/stauryofoam sheet over the stand/cabinet. Keep away stand around 6 inches from the walls.
- Put your aquarium on stand/cabinet carefully.
- Make around one and half inch layer of substrate/fine gravel on aquarium surface.
- Position the decorative material over the gravels. Never use sharp edged , metallic material inside the aquarium. It will be best to fix the decorative Rocks/woods etc. on the surface of aquarium.
- If you are going to start a planted aquarium, it is time of plantation. Spray water regularly over plants during plantation to keep them wet.
- After plantation/hardscape, cover the plants and substrate/decoration with polythene. Start pouring water into aquarium with mild flow. The polythene will keep safe the layout. After filling water, remove the polythene carefully.
- Install thermometer, heater/chiller/cooling fans, filter, lights and other equipments.
- After 24 hours, add some hardy fishes like as mollies etc. Rest of the fishes should be add after proper cycling.
Cycling the aquarium
Introducing fishes in a newly setup tank may cause slow or instant death of fishes/invertebrates. They need special care in early days. They can also infected with serious disease due to Ammonia or Nitrite poisoning. This hectic period continues upto eight weeks. This period is known as Aquarium Cycling. The process of converting toxic nitrogen waste products into less harmful products in known as Aquarium Cycling. The Cycling process establishes a bacteria colony in the aquarium to convert the Ammonia into Nitrite and Nitrite into Nitrate. There are several ways to cycle an aquarium, either fishless or with fish. I prefer with fish cycling process in the freshwater aquarium.
- Introduce some hardy fishes in the aquarium just after 24 hours of tank setup.
- Start controlled feeding to fishes. Always remove the leftover food from the tank. The leftover food causes the rising of toxic chemicals in the aquarium.
- Change around 25% water after every 2-3 days.
- Due to fish waste, sudden rise of Ammonia and Nitrites can be appear. Regularly use test kits to monitor the level of Ammonia and Nitrites.
- When the level of Ammonia and Nitrite reaches 0 (zero), it means cycling process has been done. The tank is ready to add more fishes in the tank. Proper cycling of an aquarium provides a healthy environment to fishes. They will show their best colors and activities.
Aquarium needs some regular maintenance. Do following on regular basis:
- Always keep an eye on your aquarium water quality, fish health.
- Check all the equipments regularly.
- Clean filter regularly.
- Change water on regular basis. Healthy and clean water keeps your fishes healthy. Treat water and remove chlorine before filling in the aquarium. It will be best to use stored water.
- Don’t overfeed your fishes. Use variety of foods. Remained food should be removed from the tank.
- Before buying a fish, always check its compatibility to existing inhabitants of your aquarium.
I hope this will help to aquarists to setup a successful aquarium.