Choosing the Right Set Up
Once it has been established what type of fish you want to keep then it is important to invest in the right set up. Aquarium shops are usually able to help you with this. Please note the following tips
The filtration is the equipment used to keep the water clean in both a mechanical and biological sense. Take into account the size of aquarium and the number of fish and their potential size, to allow for growth. Mechanical filtration removes solid matter (particles) from the water and biological filtration uses a healthy population of bacteria which develops in the filter to convert harmful substances produced by fish waste or uneaten food into non harmful substances that can be diluted when doing a partial water change.)
Read the instructions for the aquarium and any hardware before setting them up. Next step is filling the aquarium with substrate decor and water. The substrate and decor should all be washed thoroughly before placing in the aquarium and if you use tap water, make sure you use a product that removes the chlorine. You should check with the shop that the substrate and decor will not affect the water chemistry as some will. Once the equipment is plugged in and the system is running then the name of the game is patience!
Allow time before putting the fish in
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of beginners make is trying to put fish in too early. The biological filter needs time to mature and build up a good healthy colony of bacteria to enable it to cope with fish waste. You can purchase products which aid this process, but it is still prudent to wait for at least four weeks before introducing the first fish. You can test your water to tell if it is ready for your first fish however many beginners find it easier to take water sample in to their local aquarium shop where you can pay to get it tested and receive advice too.
Buying the right fish
Choose a good quality aquarium shop and give them the details of your aquarium (type, size, filtration and what you would like to keep). They should then be able to advise you on which species are compatible, what size they grow to and which fish are hardy and ideal for beginners. They should always recommend just a few hardy fish to start with as the biological filter will need time to adjust to having fish in the aquarium and the stocking process should take place over a few months to allow for this each time you add fish.
Feeding Your Fish
Feeding is really important to maintain your fish health and welfare and is covered here in other sections. When looking after a fish's water, it's important to look for a food that will help keep the water quality good by not leaching components into the water before it can be eaten. You can’t physically over feed the fish but you can feed more than they can eat in one go leaving uneaten food in the aquarium which, if the filter is not big enough to cope, will cause problems in quality of water.
Water Quality and Frequency of Cleaning
Even in correctly stocked and fed aquariums water quality needs to be maintained by sticking to a good regime of cleaning the filters and preferably performing a partial 25% water change using a gravel siphon every 6 weeks approximately.
It is important to note that when cleaning the biological part of the filter it should be washed in tank water that has been taken from the aquarium. If you wash it in tap water the chlorine can kill a lot of the bacteria and seriously reduce the capacity of the filter which may result in a deterioration of water quality leading to health problems for the fish and even death. Also the water used to replace the old aquarium should be conditioned in the same way as when you set up to remove chlorine.