Did you just buy your first aquarium? Welcome to this exciting world. Each year a large number of beginners join the aquarium, and many leave after a brief and unsuccessful experience due to inadequate beginnings.
Since we don’t want that to happen, follow these tips and enjoy a nice hobby for many years, you won’t regret it!
Tips for setting up your first aquarium
Choosing the aquarium…
Size: choose the largest aquarium you can afford (it’s easier to maintain in the long run). With a large aquarium you will get more stable parameters and more space for fish and plants.
Another advantage of opting for a large aquarium is that, in this way, the fish are not stressed by living in a crowded place. We recommend a minimum of 80 litres or 1 cm of fish per litre of water as a general rule.
Location: the best place to locate your aquarium is in an area where it “makes life” and is often seen – you’ll want to show it off and find out quickly if something has happened in it. For convenience, put it close to an outlet and to maintain the parameters it’s best to keep it away from drafts and stoves.
It is important that it is well lit so that plants can photosynthesise and release CO2, but try not to give it direct light so that the sun’s rays do not affect the final temperature of the water. Watch out with the weight of a full aquarium! Make sure that the surface where you put it is flat, resistant and stable.
Filtering: depending on the size of your aquarium, choose (from lowest to highest) between backpack type, internal or external filter.
Lighting: in freshwater aquariums fluorescent or LED tubes of 0.4 W/litre of water are used and in saltwater aquariums 0.6 W/litre of water. If you want to have more plants you will need more power.
Install the aquarium…
Sand: once you have the filters and the lighting, you have to start taking care of the bottom of the aquarium so that it is as beautiful as possible. Put the sand, gravel or substrate gently on the bottom and the excess on the back to create depth.
Decoration and plants: after the sand, the decorative elements and plants that you add in addition to embellishing will serve to provide hiding places for the fish but without getting to overload too much because they will have less space to swim. So in decoration what is just and necessary.
Water: to fill the aquarium use only cold water, never hot, as it contains too many toxic ions. Let the water come out of the tap a few minutes before filling the aquarium or can, particularly in the morning.
Water conditioning: pay attention to this step as it is vital for the fish to live in good condition. Treat the water with antichlorine and conditioners. Run the new system for several days, preferably more than 15 days, making the necessary adjustments to heating, lighting and filtration before introducing the fish.
Levels: regularly check PH, KH, GH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates to see if they are at the proper levels.
Water changes: approximately every 10-15 days there is a partial renewal of the water, a change of approximately 20% of the total volume. Over time you will know better which water renewal pattern works best in your aquarium.
Maintenance: periodically review equipment and have provision of an adequate selection of remedies and replacement equipment to respond promptly to any emergency.
Introducing the fish…
Choose fish: depending on the characteristics of the fish, you may need one aquarium or another. Keep it in mind when choosing it, as well as the incompatibilities between different races and preferred habitats of each one….
Parasites and diseases: buy fish that are free of parasites, so it is important to know if importers quarantine.
Buy only fish that look healthy and active: many times it is requested to see them eat, especially marine species, as a sign that they are well acclimatized and healthy, but this is nevertheless dangerous, since a fish that eats and is immediately packed will defecate in the bag and deteriorate the quality of the water quickly.
It is also good to buy fish at noon and introduce them into the aquarium in the afternoon to avoid a long period of stressful exposure to established inhabitants.
Transport home: protects the fish from the stress of temperature and travel, from trade to home, taking it in a dark insulated container, so when you deliver it in its transparent bag is convenient to have a box prepared for the fish to make the trip as safe and comfortable as possible for them.
Introduction of the fish: turn off the aquarium lights and float the bag without mixing the waters, this way you will equal the temperatures. After a few minutes, untie the bag, but don’t puncture it, and add a 25cl glass of water from the aquarium to the bag.
Every 10 minutes add a glass until you triple the starting volume. Then carefully release the fish into the tank, without introducing the water from the bag into the aquarium, as it will be deteriorated by transport.
Feeding the fish: do not feed the fish the first day, it is better to wait until the next day. It is advisable to provide small quantities often. Avoid overfeeding at any time as anything that is not eaten in 2-3 minutes will end up as leftover and may worsen the quality of the water.
Quantity of fish: even if you really want to see your aquarium full of fish, under no circumstances should you try to cram an aquarium as soon as you buy it. Don’t buy all the fish in an aquarium at once.
Buy a third at the beginning and then gradually fill the container over the next few weeks, this will allow the filtration system to gradually adapt to the growing population of the aquarium. In marine aquariums, don’t reach the maximum level of fish before six months after starting up.
Fish habits: carefully match fish to water conditions before purchasing. Find out about the fish’s habits and diet and make sure you can adequately provide for their needs. If you can’t, don’t buy the fish.
Never allow yourself to be satisfied. It is much better to keep everything under control thanks to regular attention than to have to rectify serious maladjustments due to negligence and inattention.
Never, but never, be afraid to ask for help. You may be an expert, but if you haven’t had a particular species before, it’s unlikely that you’re better informed about it than someone who has, especially if they’ve had problems and solved them.