To provide a healthy, happy atmosphere for your fish, Petland recommends the following necessary equipment and accessories for your new aquarium.
Starting Out Right!
1. Before you start setting anything up, take an inventory of your supplies. Rinse all your equipment (including the aquarium) in clear tap water to remove any contaminants.
2. Place the aquarium on an appropriate aquarium stand, away from direct sunlight, as well as heating and cooling vents. Be sure the tank is sitting level. Fill the aquarium with 4 cm (1 ½ in) of water. Rinse the substrate (gravel/sand) thoroughly. The gravel should be sloped higher in the back to allow for better decoration anchorage.
3. Fill the tank half full of water. Pouring the water into a temporary container (2 cups), placed inside the aquarium, will prevent the gravel from being disturbed and reduce a cloudy appearance. Next, add plants, rocks and driftwood to create an environment your fish will thrive in. The decorations should be arranged in a horseshoe-shaped diorama to provide adequate hiding places for your “wet pets.” Oddly enough, the more decorations you have, the more visible your fish will become. The centre of the aquarium should be mainly open to allow for a free swimming area.
4. Finish filling the tank with water and then remove the temporary container. Place the aquarium heater in the tank (but do not turn it on at this time). Allow the heater glass to acclimate to the water temperature in the aquarium for one hour before plugging it in. You can camouflage the heater behind the decorations. Put the thermometer in a place opposite of the heater.
5. Equip the aquarium with a filter system. If using an internal filter, place it in the tank toward the back and hide the filter using plants or driftwood. If you are using an external filter, place it at the back of the tank or underneath. Hide the intake tube, which draws water from the tank to the filter, with decorations, but still allow for circulation. Add water conditioner to the aquarium, and turn on the filtration system. Be sure to prime any pumps with water, prior to starting.
6. Test the pH and water hardness of your aquarium using an aquarium test kit. Make any necessary adjustments to the water using the proper water condition supplements to recreate an environment specific for your fish. Creating a similar pH and hardness to your fish’s natural habitat will help to alleviate stress and produce brighter colours in your fish.
7. Now place the aquarium canopy in position and make any adjustments (cut outs in the back) to accommodate the heater, filter and cords. Plug the canopy light into an automatic light timer and set the timer for 10 to 12 hours a day.
8. Plug in the aquarium heater and make any final adjustments to the heater in order to stabilize a temperature between 23° – 26°C (74° – 78°F) depending on the fish you have chosen. Make adjustments every half hour until the desired temperature is achieved.
9. Wait one day before adding fish, to ensure everything is running properly. Adding fish too soon after the set up can be unsafe for them. Constantly fluctuating temperatures or too much suspended debris dangerously increases their stress level.
All newly set-up aquariums take four to six weeks to develop a proper nitrogen cycle (the filter conditioning process) in order to reach peak efficiency (see our New Tank Syndrome tip sheet). We recommend using a bacterial supplement to assist in developing a biological cycle in the aquarium.
Now It’s Safe to Add Fish
In the beginning, only a small number of fish can be added to the tank. Once the aquarium has been running for at least a day, 3 cm (1 in) of fish per 38 L (10 gal) of water can be safely introduced. Over the next several weeks, when the water quality tests of ammonia and nitrite reach zero, more fish species can be added.
Feeding the fish will vary depending upon the age of the aquarium. During the first four to eight weeks, the fish should be fed a small pinch of fish food (about the size of a dime) once every other day. Having a fish net is very handy to remove any excess food your fish may have missed. As the aquarium becomes more established (two to four months of age), your fish can be fed one to three times a day, buy use small quantities of food at each feeding (see our Do Your Fish Look Hungry? tip sheet).
Partial water changes are the single most important procedure you will perform on your aquarium. Remove 20 – 25% of the water every two to three weeks using a gravel cleaning siphon. Replace it with freshwater that has been treated with a water conditioner. As the aquarium matures (two – three months), the period between water changes can be increased. Periodic water testing will help to determine a water change schedule that is right for your aquarium. Adding water (due to evaporation) weekly will reduce fluctuations in water chemistry.
Cleanliness and Safety
All pets must be kept in a clean environment to avoid the spread of dirt and contaminants to yourself and others. Always keep your pet’s home clean, and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home.
• Aquarium stand
• Substrate (gravel or sand)
• Plants (live plants or artificial plastic or silk plants)
• Decorations – driftwood, rocks or artificial resin-based decorations (you should create at least one hiding spot
• Aquarium heater and thermometer
• Water conditioner (chlorine remover)
• Aquarium filter (submersible, hang-on style and canister models available)
• Bacteria boosters (for biological filtration)
• Water test kit
• Mineral and pH supplements
• Aquarium canopy, lights and programmable timer
• A variety of fish food
• Gravel cleaning siphon
• Fish net
• A book or magazine on fish
Please ask your pet counsellor what other items pertain to your particular pet’s needs.
*Ask about the volunteer programs at your nearest Petland location.