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SETTING UP YOUR AQUARIUM
Keeping fish is fun. But there are a few basic things that you will need to know before beginning your new hobby. It is always better to get an aquarium ready before buying fish as the fish needs to have a ready environment to live as soon as we bring them home. Reading all about setting up an aquarium helps a lot in making the right purchase.
The aquarium tanks come in different shapes, sizes and styles. The size of the aquarium you decide should fit most suitably in your room. A 10 or 20 gallon aquarium may be ideal for beginners. The tank should not be placed in direct sunlight since this can adversely affect the temperature of the tank. All aquariums should have a cover to prevent evaporation of water and to keep those leaping fish in the tank.
Aquariums may be made of glass or acrylic. Look it over carefully for scratches or cracks before purchasing.
A tank needs a filter to keep the water clean, a heater if you are planning to keep tropical fish and then one has to decide on the decorations such as the kind of gravel, the type of plants whether live or artificial and other decorations such as natural rock, driftwood and so on. Decorations enhance the look of your aquarium. When setting up the tank, it is important to read all the instructions that come with the filter, the heater, size, temperature, decorations and so on.
A fresh water tank is easier to manage for beginners than a salt water or marine tank. Use clean tap water to fill your aquarium. Let the water stand for several days so that the chemicals in it such as chlorine and ammonia, harmful to the fish get time to evaporate. 10 or 20 gallon of water could support your requirements.
Different types of filters are available to help keep the water in the aquarium clean from the waste excreted by the fish. They are 'under gravel' filters, box filters and outside filters. The more filter material a filter has the better filter it will be. Under gravel filters are kept in the bottom of the tank and are covered with gravel, so cannot be seen. They filter water through the gravel. They work better but are harder to clean as one will need to break the whole tank to clean them. Box filters are smaller in size and are placed inside the aquarium in one corner or is attached to the wall.
Although they need frequent cleaning, they are much easier to clean. Outside filters similar to box filters comes in different sizes and are kept outside the tank attached to the outer wall or placed at the back of the tank. They work well and are easy to clean.
Decorative gravel is available in different sizes and colors. Wash the gravel thoroughly with water before laying it it about 2 inches thick inside the tank. Instead of gravel, sand, dolomite, crushed coral etc can be used. Dark coloured gravel will bring out the colors in tropical fish. Besides being decorative, gravel also holds the plants.
Natural rocks or driftwood, plastics and ceramics can be used as decoration. Thoroughly clean and disinfect them before you put them in the tank. Prepared rocks or wood for aquariums are available for purchase. Don't use anything metal because you don't want rust in the tank.
You have to make a choice betweeen live plants or plastic plants to be kept in the aquarium. Live plants look better and help form a natural eco system. They help keep the fish tank clean by absorbing the nutrients from the fish waste. Live plants need proper lighting, a plant growth bulb should be installed in the aquarium. Fluorescent lamps are good as they give off very little heat and so are not harmful for cold water fishes. The only problem with keeping live plants is that some large fishes tend to eat them. Plastic plants look real as well as are easy to care for and comes in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes.
Cleaning the Aquarium
There is a lot of work involved in keeping an aquarium looking nice, and you have to maintain it on a regular basis say about two or three times a week to keep it clean.
You will need a net and wall scrubber or a brush to clean the tank. The net has a long handle and it will help to keep the tank clean of fish waste. The tank scrubber also with a long handle or a brush can be used to clean the walls. When cleaning near the bottom, be careful not to drag up sand or gravel that can scratch the glass. Change water every week or two to remove chemicals that have built up. Never empty the aquarium completely when changing the water. Change 10 to 25 percent of the water at a time.
You will have many enjoyable days and nights watching the fish swimming about in the aquarium water.
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