Even a beginner can have a successful home aquarium, with crystal-clear water, beautiful plants and colorful fish. There are just a few principles involved in keeping an aquarium. If you learn what they are and follow them, you will be able to avoid the mistakes that people often make when they set up an aquarium.
Choice And Location Of The Tank
The simplest rule is to buy a rectangular tank that is at the most 2 or 3 inches higher than it is wide. Tall, narrow globes are not satisfactory because there is too little water surface open to the air. In a wider tank, there is more water surface open to the air and the water can take in more oxygen. This is important for the health of the fish. The water takes in oxygen from the air and the fish breathe this oxygen through their gills. Fish give off the gas called carbon dioxide, just as people do when they breathe. The carbon dioxide given off by the fish must escape into the air through the surface of the water or the fish will suffocate.
It is important to keep metal out of a fish tank. The slightest bit of metal in the water can be poisonous to fish. Paints, soaps, detergents and certain plastics and chemicals must also be kept out of the tank. Insecticides are especially deadly to fish. Limestone products such as marble chips, seashells, coral and coral sand should be avoided. They dissolve and make the water too hard. The best minerals for use in an aquarium are quartz, sandstone and granite.
For protection, a glass cover should be kept on the tank. Do not worry that the fish will not get enough air. No tank cover fits so tightly that it keeps out the necessary air.
Finding the proper location for the tank is important too. An aquarium should not stand in a drafty spot or near a radiator. Sudden changes in temperature are bad for fish.
Direct sunlight should be avoided except for short periods of time. Artificial lighting is just as satisfactory for fish as daylight. But too much light encourages the growth of tiny plants called algae, which turn the water green. Too much direct sunlight may also overheat the water.
A tank filled with water is very heavy. A 15 – gallon tank weighs about 125 pounds when it is filled. For this reason, the aquarium needs a firm resting place. This is also the reason a tank containing water should never be moved. It is impossible to move a full tank without cracking its glass or making it leak.
Gravel, Water And Plants
The gravel, water and plants put in the tank are all important to the health of the fish and the beauty of the aquarium.
Gravel or sand is not necessary except when using rooted plants. But it makes more natural-looking setting for the fish. Material about the size of bird gravel or a little larger is best. Too fine a sand packs tightly and holds back the growth of plants. If gravel is used, it should be carefully washed.
The most important single element of an aquarium is the water and unless it is kept in good condition, neither fish nor plants will stay healthy. The best water for fish is water in which they have already lived. This is called “conditioned water.” Fish are unusual in the following respect. The living quarters of most domestic animals must be cleaned regularly. But the water in a standing aquarium need not be changed. The waste products of the fish actually make the water more suitable for them to live in.