THE BEGINNER’S TANK SETUPBy: Jbeing75
For a first time fish owner as any new hobbyist the first step is research. Always research the fish you intend to keep long before you take the big leap and actually bring them home to start your new hobby. The first thing is purchasing the ingredients or the supplies to make your ideal fish tank. A lot of new fish owners go for the plastic décor and signs and skulls. That is fine and well but there are many other options to explore also. A planted tank would not be recommended for beginners unless you put weeks and weeks of deliberation and research into the tank you were setting. Decorations as little as silk plants, rockwork like slate, and driftwood give your tank a more natural look overall and improve the overall ambiance of the tank in general. Still nothing beats a beautifully aquascaped tank as far as freshwater goes. So in taking the first step you must decide what types of fish you will keep and how much space and time you have available. It is a common misunderstanding with newer aquarium owners that the smaller the tank size the easier it is to keep. That is wrong. The smaller the tank the harder the water perimeters are to control and the more likely your first time will end in disaster. A great tank for any new hobbyist is a 55 gallon standard tank which can be found at almost all local pet stores and even big box stores. So you got the tank now what? Next is the filtration for the tank. There are many different filtration options including under gravel filtration, hang on the back or commonly called power filters, or canister filters. Under gravel filters lie under the gravel and suck debris down into the gravel making it far easier to trap debris when vacuuming during weekly water changes. There are however many other negatives cons to the under gravel filter and thanks to the power filters and canister filters, under gravel filters have become a thing of the past. Some still use them but by most serious aquarists they are considered out dated and far from valuable. The second option in tank filtration is the power filter commonly called hang on back (HOB) filter. These filters attach to the back of the tank by a lip and return water in a constant
Zebra fish, A danio species - Copyright www.jjphoto.dk
waterfall motion. The intakes are usually attached into the impeller and have a tube that reaches close to the bottom of the tank where the debris will be floating around. Some of the more common hob filters are Hagen Aquaclear, Tetra Whisper, and Marineland’s Emperor and Penguin series. They all differ in media capability and storage and is upto the personal user which filtration would best benefit their tank. The third type of common filtration is the canister filter. The canister filter has an intake and a return hose that are both hooked to a canister that sets independently from the tank. The canisters bigger sizes allow them more room to add filter media and allow for more media options. Some of the main manufacturers of canister filters are Fluval, Rena, and Eheim. General filtration rating is rated with no media in the filter. To maintain superior water quality and stable water perimeters it is ideal to filter your tank at least twice the capacity of tank. For example on a 55 gallon you would what a filter that is capable of a filtering capacity of 110 gallons. After you have selected your filter media it is time for a heater. There are glass and titanium heaters available to most new hobbyist. There are advanced heaters and chillers on the market but we will not discuss them as this is for new tank owners. The most common type of heater used on the market today is probably the Visi-therm stealth series. They are made of a very durable titanium base that is supposedly indestructible. With bigger fish like cichlids these filters are recommended. Visi-therm guarantees it thermometer to within 1 degree also so they are cost efficient for the quality you get. With a heater you need a thermometer. There are various types of thermometers. The three most common would be the stick on thermometer which is very unstable and allows for much error. The second is the glass thermometer. These are much more accurate than the sticky thermometers and give a more accurate reading. The best thermometers however are digital thermometers. Digital thermometers are very precise down to the tenth of a degree and coralife a leading brand in aquarium products guarantees theirs to within 1 degree. Now you have almost everything you need to get to start your tank. One of the few things left is your substrate. Substrate can be crushed coral, gravel, or sand. Sand gives the tank a more natural look but is very easy to get in your filter intakes. For a new tank hobbyist I would recommend gravel as a first time substrate until you are comfortable and understand what is fully happening in the tank and how the different substrates would effect your filtration and cleanliness of the overall tank. All you have left is the décor. If you place décor in the tank make sure it is aquarium safe before placing it in the tank. If you use rockwork fully scrub and soak the rocks in diluted bleach water and vinegar to ensure they are a proper fit and will not muck up your tank. A rock that fizzles when you dump vinegar on it is not tank safe and will cause more harm than good in your tank. So now you got everything you need. Time to cycle the tank!!!!! There are various articles here on the forum about fishless cycling your tank. After weeks of cycling your tank you are finally ready to stock up the tank and need to know what fish are easily kept and are proper for your fish tank.
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