What Size Tank?
Tank size is largely dependent on what type of fish you would like to house but generally - the bigger the better. Larger tanks have a comparatively more stable environment, and you can fit fish in more comfortably with room for growth. Consider also, that most fish like to have an area to hide away in and once you start to put ornament, rocks and logs in the tank the room for your fish starts to get smaller and smaller. Bowls are only suitable for some species of fish and require more frequent water changes (every 2-3 days). Large tanks should be water changed at least every month; once a week is more appropriate.
Where Do I Put It?
You will need to consider several environmental conditions:
- Vibration (on top of a fridge is not good)
- Heat (behind a source of heat e.g. fridge is not good).
- Air flow (stay out of direct breeze ??? temperature fluctuations, air conditioners)
- Light, especially direct sunlight (too much is not a good thing ??? causing problems with things such as algae and heat)
Tank & Stand
Clean the tank by hosing it out, using pure methylated spirits to clean if needed. Never use detergents as these can soak into the silicone seals and damage the seals, or leach into the tank poisoning the fish. It is a good idea to first varnish and seal the stand prior to filling the tank as it is likely to get wet. Raw wood will become stained when wet and may start to develop mould and rot. The stand must support right around the base of the tank, and be level without any bulges or irregularities where the tank sits. The base of the tank will not flex, it will break or split at the seals, and it is an expensive exercise to repair them. To prevent this, ensure the stand is on a level surface and put foam beneath the tank - the foam will help to smooth out any roughness on the surface (e.g. sand) and absorb high spots or irregularities in the surface of the stand. Foam will not compensate for large bulges, non level or twisted surfaces so stands with prominent deformities should not be used. Never move a tank that has any weight in it, as it needs the support of the base. Always empty your tank before moving or adjusting it.
Place gravel in a kitchen colander or large net and wash through until the water runs clear. This will get rid of most of the dust and dirt. Once it is clean place it in the bottom of the tank.
Filling the Tank
Calculate the volume (amount of water) of the tank. Multiply the tank length x width x height (in cms) and divide by 1000 this will tell you how many litres. For example, a 2 foot tank is 60x30x30/1000 = 54 litres. Fill your tank, adding the appropriate amount of chlorine neutralizer (also known as water ager or water conditioner) to the amount of litres in the tank. Make sure you check the recommended dose for the number of litres of the tank, as it does vary from brand to brand. Use a little more than the recommended dose, rather than a little less, it will not hurt. You will find that the tank is still cloudy when it is filled but it will settle with time and filtration, and small amounts of this will not harm your fish.
Rinse the filter out with clean water, and put it in/on the tank. Check your instructions and then turn it on. Hang on the side filters such as Aquaclear need to be filled with water first otherwise they will suck in air.
If you don't mind waiting for a week or two, you can leave your tank with a filter running while you wait for some bacteria to establish in your tank. These bacteria are essential for breaking down the waste from your new fish and preventing the water from becoming toxic. Alternatively, you can add a biological/eco starter such as Stability or Stress Zyme, according to the directions on the bottle, which is essentially a dropper bottle full of live bacteria.
Add your ornaments and plants - this is usually easier to do with your tank only half full. Try to create a natural type of habitat by having an open area for free swimming and a closed in area with plenty of hidey holes.
The town tap water is usually sitting at a neutral (pH of 7) level which is suitable for most tropical fish, however it can sometimes shift about. It is a good idea to have a test kit on hand to be sure the pH of your tank is suitable for your fish before introducing them to the water. Alternatively, Pet HQ provides a free water testing service, so you can bring a sample with you when you come to select your fish - use a clean, preferably glass container or bottle with no detergent residue. Some types of fish require their water to be more acidic (lower pH) or alkaline (higher pH), in which case buffers will need to be added to the water to create the ideal water condition.
During winter it is a good idea to have a heater for your tank as most fish prefer their water warm and will stop eating or even perish if it gets too cold. Select your heater based on how many litres are in your tank and place it in the tank next to the water flow, taking note as to whether it is fully submersible or not. All heaters will have a minimum water mark, and if it is not submersed to the line the heater will crack and break - broken glass is not covered by warranties. Leave the heater in the tank, without plugging it in, for ?? an hour. Then plug it in and calibrate the heater with your thermometer - don't just trust the dial as it will turn off as soon as the water around it reaches that temperature, while the rest of your tank may still be too cold. An average setting for tropical fish is 27 oC, and goldfish like it about 20 oC
Not too much and not too little - Too much light can lead to an outburst of algae and can overheat the tank, especially in summer. Not enough light can cause growth and developmental problems in your fish and lead to your live plants dying off and creating a lot of mess in the tank. If your tank doesn't receve enough non-direct, natural light and you choose to use artificial lights on your tank be sure to keep them on a natural day-night cycle otherwise it can cause your fish to stress.
Adding Your Fish
Once your tank is ready you can start to add some fish. Take care not get too many fish all at once! Add fish slowly to a tank, as it takes about 6 weeks to get your tank to cycle properly, and your filter to be running efficiently. If too many are added too soon your water will become toxic very quickly and you could risk losing all of your new fish. It is a good idea to add your smallest, least aggressive fish first and your larger more territorial fish last. If you allow a large aggressive fish to establish his territory first you may never be able to add other fish except as a snack for him. Speak to staff about which fish are compatible together and be sure the little fish your buying now isn't going to outgrow your tank later.
When you get your fish, float your fish bag in the tank for 5 minutes to allow the temperature in the bag to match that in your tank. Open the bag and cup the water out of your tank into their bag slowly, tanking about 5 minutes until the volume has doubled, leave for another couple of minutes. This is to slowly adjust your new fish to your tank water as the water they came from may be quite different and a drastic change can cause shock. Net the fish out of the bag and place in the tank. It is best not to put the water from the bag into your tank as you want to avoid adding any unwanted parasites into your tank. Your fish will take a few hours to acclimate, and then they should be swimming around, so long as the water parameters are good.
Do a 1/3 water change weekly for the first few weeks, and then every 2-3 weeks using a gravel cleaner. Never change all of the water, no more than ?? water change at a time, as too much is stressful on the fish and affects the natural filtration. Smaller tanks or more crowded tanks may need more regular cleaning - if the water is becoming smelly or changing colour (going green or brown) change the water more frequently. Clean the filter cartridges and parts as needed ensuring that the propeller in your filter is not getting clogged up with muck. Never wash the biological component of the filter or your gravel under tap water as this will kill all your good bacteria that took so long to establish - use tank water or treated water for this instead. Check and adjust your pH twice a week when necessary.
Remove dead fish as soon as you see them! Most fish will eat dead fish in the tank and if it has died of something contagious you don't want this happening! If you notice any sick fish, take note of what they look like, how they are behaving etc. and seek advice - a lot of common diseases are easily treated if action is taken quickly.
We feed our fish daily here, so you will not need to feed them on the day of purchase. Do not over feed your fish! Only feed the fish a small amount, every second day for the first month, this will allow the bacteria to slowly develop, without overloading them with waste. After this period, they can then be fed daily. Fish are always hungry and will eat as much as they can, because instinctively they may not get a feed tomorrow, so do not be fooled into thinking they are still hungry if they keep eating. Too much food can lead to all sorts of problems in aquariums including toxic water, fungal and parasite infestations and more. Take care when feeding live plants as torn off shreds can clog up your filter. Also take care when feeding frozen foods as they are very high in nutrients and can dirty your water much faster.
- Tank & Stand
- Chlorine neutraliser/ water ager/ conditioner
- Biological/Eco starter
- pH test kit
- pH adjusters/ buffers
- Replacement cartridges
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