Keeping fish is a fascinating hobby and a great way to teach your children about the beauty of nature. But while studies have shown that simply watching fish can lower your blood pressure and keep you calm, trying to set up a new aquarium without the right knowledge and the right equipment is nothing but stressful. Fortunately, you can make your first foray into the aquarium hobby a successful one by gathering the supplies you need and learning as much as you can before you set up your first tank.
The aquarium hobby has a high dropout rate, particularly among newcomers. The good news is that many of the common mistakes that drive people out of the hobby can be avoided if you simply take the time to learn about the equipment and supplies you will need before you get started. In order to set even the most basic freshwater tank, you need a quality air pump, a good filter, gravel, plants and of course the aquarium itself.
1. Aquarium Kits
Many new hobbyists buy ready-made kits that purport to contain everything needed to set up a new tank. But while those aquarium kits can sometimes be a good deal, the equipment they contain is often of poor quality. You might be better off making a list of the items contained in the kit and buying better quality versions of each item on your own.
For instance, many aquarium kits contain a small corner filter that is not sufficient to keep the water truly clean. Since the filter is such an essential part of any aquarium, a poor quality one can lead to poor water quality, and ultimately the death of many fish. This can cause new hobbyists to give up in frustration, but it all could have been avoided by buying the right filter in the first place.
A power filter designed for a slightly larger tank than the one you plan to use is a better option. For instance, if you have a 20-gallon tank, buy a power filter designed for a 30-gallon one. This gives you the extra power you will need to keep your tank sparkling clean.
2. A Good Pump
You need to provide aeration and water movement within your tank, and you do so with an air pump. Again it is a good idea to buy an air pump designed for a larger tank, since this will give you more power and lessen the strain on the pump. Once you have the air pump, all you need to do is attach a piece of aquarium tubing to the pump and the other end to an air stone that goes inside the tank.
When you plug the pump in you will see air bubbles begin to emerge from the stone, agitating the water and increasing the oxygen content of the water. Having a quality pump in place will keep the air flowing and help keep your fish healthy.
3. Tank Size
The size of the tank is an important consideration, since many new hobbyists simply load their tanks with too many fish. Putting too many fish in the tank can lead to all kinds of problems, from insufficient oxygen in the water and the spread of disease to increased water contamination and fish die offs.
It is best to start with a few hardy fish at first. White clouds, guppies, gouramis and bettas are all good choices for new hobbyists. Stock your new tank with a few fish of each species until the tank is stable and the water quality is good. You can test the water yourself using a test kit, or you can bring a sample of the water to your local pet store for analysis and recommendations.
Once your tank is established, a good rule of thumb is to keep no more than one inch of fish per gallon of water. So if you have a twenty gallon tank you can keep up to 20” worth of fish, or roughly six three inch fish. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it is a good rule of thumb to live by, especially if you are new to the aquarium hobby.
Following these simple tips can help you get your new hobby off to a good start. One reason so many new aquarium hobbyists are not successful is that they do not fully understand how much work it takes to set up a fish tank and keep it looking great. Learning about the hobby before you buy your first fish will help you be successful right from the start.