KEEPING A FRESHWATER AQUARIUM
Are you looking for something beautiful and lively to decorate a room in your home? Are you looking for a tranquil little corner of the world where you can sit back, relax and let your blood pressure drop a little? Maybe you want to find a new hobby, one that lets you explore at your own pace a virtually unlimited universe of possible adventures. Whatever your desires, a tropical aquarium may be what you need. A Petland pet counsellor can give you the advice and detailed assistance you need to enter the tropical fish hobby with little effort.
To provide a healthy, happy atmosphere for your fish, Petland recommends the following necessary equipment and accessories. We have listed them as your fish’s four basic needs: Environmental, Nutritional, Behavioural and Maintenance. When you meet these needs, your hobby will be an enjoyable one!
The Aquarium – A well-made aquarium is essential for supporting the weight of all the water. Most aquariums consist of glass or acrylic. They range in sizes from 7.6 L (2 US Gal) to 760 L (200 US Gal).
Amazingly, the larger the aquarium, the easier it is to maintain! The larger the aquarium, the healthier the environment is for your fish. A tank between 38 L (10 US Gal) and 125.4 L (33 US Gal) is ideal for someone starting their first aquarium.
Aquarium Stand – Water is heavy! It weighs more than 3.63 kg (8 lbs) per 3.8 L (1 US Gal). For example, a 75.7 L (20 US Gal) aquarium with gravel will weigh approximately 90.7 kg (200 lbs). Many bookshelves or side tables will not support that much weight. As well, you will require a place to put your filter and other equipment.
Aquarium Canopy – A well fitting cover protects the fish from outside contaminants and helps to reduce temperature fluctuation and evaporation.
Light Fixture and Bulb(s) – Light fixtures are available in LED, fluorescent or incandescent. LED lighting is an energy efficient light source that produces a bright light, which provides amazing colour and shimmering effects for fish. LEDs are used in aquarium light fixtures as supplementary or independent light sources. Fluorescent lights create a bright, natural appearance to any aquarium. Both LED and fluorescent bulbs operate at a cooler temperature, which is less likely to affect the temperature of an aquarium. Incandescent lights do not illuminate your tank as well, and they create heat. Although they are less expensive to purchase initially, you must replace incandescent bulbs more often.
Gravel – You need gravel to simulate your fishes’ natural environment. It will retain solid debris and provide substrate for live plants to grow in. The average amount of gravel required is 0.6 to 0.9 kg per 3.7 L of water (1 ½ to 2 lbs per gallon), creating approximately 5 cm (2 in.) on the bottom of the aquarium. Many colours and varieties are available to choose from.
Heater and Thermometer – A heater is necessary to maintain a constant temperature of 24°–25°C (76°–78°F), which is comfortable for most freshwater fish. Fish are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, so investing in a quality heater that is easy to set and adjust is good sense. You need a thermometer to read the temperature of the water.
A Variety of Food – All fish are constantly searching for food. In their natural habitat they will find many varieties of tasty morsels. Our goal is to offer a well-balanced diet in a variety of foods. Flake foods and pellet foods provide a staple diet and you should offer these daily. Adding different foods, such as freeze-dried tubifex worms, frozen blood worms or algae discs will help to keep your fish healthy and colourful! You should feed your fish two to three times a day. Ensure that your fish eat all the food, since uneaten food may pollute the aquarium (see our Do Your Fish Look Hungry? tip sheet).
Decorations – these are necessary to give your fish a place to retreat and swim around. Just as you would be uncomfortable in a room without furniture, your fish need their decorations for security. Live, silk or plastic plants, driftwood, artificial decorations and aquarium safe rocks enhance the beauty of your freshwater aquarium. The general rule is to create one hiding spot per fish.
Filter Systems – A filter serves to remove toxic waste in the water created by your fish and decaying fish foods. Many options are open to you.
Power Filters – We offer these filters in many styles that can be placed inside (internal), hang-on (external) or underneath (canister) the aquarium. An internal motor powers these for quiet operation. They have convenient cartridges to clean or replace. Power filters use three styles of filtration: mechanical, chemical and biological. Ask a Petland pet counsellor which filter would be best for your aquarium.
Gravel Cleaning Siphon – A gravel cleaner is like a vacuum. It sucks up dirt, debris and toxins that you may not see, which are present in the water and gravel. Gravel cleaning your aquarium by removing 20 – 25% of the water every three to four weeks will reduce the accumulation of toxic waste. Partial water changes are the single most important procedure you will perform on your aquarium.
Water Conditioner – This removes the chlorine and neutralizes heavy metals in the water. Many also have a natural additive that replaces “slime” lost by stressed out fish.
Bacteria Supplement – the use of a bottled bacteria additive will help kick start your aquarium by eating up the harmful toxins produced by your fish and assist in developing a biological cycle.
Net – This is handy to have around to remove debris and to transfer fish.
Algae Scraper – This removes unwanted algae growth that may appear on your ornaments and tank glass.
A Book About Fish and Maintaining an Aquarium – Petland has a good selection of aquarium books and magazines to choose from. They are interesting to read and you can use them as a reference guide for years to come!
Oh Yes, The Fish!
Since you are setting up a new environment for your fish, you may need to wait a couple of days to allow the aquarium to acclimatize before adding fish. Start populating your tank with just a few hardy fish. Your pet counsellor will guide you in selecting the appropriate first fish for your aquarium. Your aquarium will take up to two months to create a healthy biological environment. Be patient, add fish and live plants slowly. Fish keeping is rewarding. Explore the hobby and enjoy the adventure!
Introducing New Fish into Your Aquarium
Travelling from one aquarium to another can be very stressful for fish. Extreme temperature changes (hot or cold) can adversely affect your fish’s health. Try to avoid exposing your new fish to these hot or cold conditions when taking them home.
During this period fish may be unable to produce or repair their slime coat. A fish’s slime coat is their natural protection against injury to skin, scales and parasitic infestations such as Ich (which can be present in established aquariums). To help minimize the stress on your fish and protect its slime coat, please consider the following:
Wrapping up your fish bag in paper or keep them inside your warm jacket. Go directly home to lessen the transport time.
When you arrive at home, float the sealed bag of fish in your aquarium for 10 – 15 minutes to allow the water temperature in the fish bag to adjust to the aquarium’s temperature.
While you are waiting, add new decorations or rearrange the decorations in your aquarium to create new hiding places for all your fish.
Use an aquarium fish net to transfer only the fish from the fish bag into your aquarium. Discard the water and the bag. Then add a bacterial supplement to boost the biological filtration in your aquarium, which will benefit all your fish.
To help reduce health problems, we recommend adding a full dose of water conditioner as a slime coat additive, and aquarium salt (if permitted) as an electrolyte booster.
Monitor your new arrivals, along with your other fish, for the first 48 hours. Look for signs of stress, such as loss of colour, clamped or frayed fins, unusual grey patches or white spots and a lack of appetite. Contact your local Petland store immediately if you have any concerns.
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 aquarium.
Substrate (gravel or sand)
Plants (live or artificial plants)
Decorations – driftwood, rocks or artificial resin-based decorations (you should create at least one hiding spot per fish)
Aquarium heater and thermometer
Water conditioner (chlorine remover)
Aquarium filter (submersible, hang-on style and canister models available)
Bacteria supplement (for biological filtration)
Water test kits
Mineral and pH supplements
Aquarium canopy, lights and programmable timer
A variety of fish food
Gravel cleaning siphon
Please ask your pet counsellor what other items pertain to your particular fish’s needs.