Kick Start Your Hobby
This article is about setting up a domestic aquarium at home and this is purely a guideline and not a rule book. Well, if this works then you learn to begin a new hobby successfully and if this doesn’t work for any reasons, you know what not to do to begin with.
Choosing the Aquarium Tank
For a beginner, I would recommend to go with a 2 feet tank. Standard size would be 2 ft length (length refers to your left hand to right hand) and 1 ft width (from you to the Wall) and 15 inches height. The word Standard refers to the sizes that maintain aqua-dynamics of the water to help the fishes swim comfortable. It’s nothing but the equal share of water pressure all across the tank so that life is easy for the living.
While you are choosing the tank, you may face two major options in the current market. An imported aquarium, mostly China made and the assembled aquarium, made by us. The new trend is to have the front corners of the aquarium bend but not sharp, like the traditional way. These aquariums mostly comes as a plug and play types. Means, they have a wooden cabinet/stand to keep the aquarium tank, then the top filters and aquarium lighting. It makes the life easy for the customers who are busy with their routines because they don’t have to spend time on setting each of these components. Besides the aquarium tank is moulded on three sides and bottom and the back glass is stuck, which gives a better finishing and to add to the looks, there are plastic beading all around the edges to also ensure the compactness and strength. This also helps in avoiding your touch with the sharp edges of the glass.When you buy an imported aquarium, over three feet long, ensure it has two motors on either side for the better water circulation and cleaning of dirt. Just one motor on end may not be powerful enough to pull the dirt all the way from the other end. Though you have an option of using a powerful motor but that may result in making the fishes feel uncomfortable for swimming due to the pressure.
Advantage of an assembled aquarium is it can be customised according to your requirement. Because most of the imported tanks comes I the standard size. Also in the assembled aquarium, you get to choose the type of filtration, designs of tops and lighting. Filters could be a canister type, UG filter, Top filter, Submersible filter or external hang on filter. Tops are available in different models like house type, castle, Chinese roof, dragon, etc made in wood or a specific material called sun board. Lightings could be LED or different colours of aquarium tubes and submersible lights.Clean the tank thoroughly with the scrub and remove the residues of the silica which would have accumulated during the making of the tank. This can be done by pouring a little quantity of water inside the tank and rinsing it or using a wet sponge and cleaning the interiors of the tank. Once the tank is cleaned, you can start with you aquascaping of the aquarium. Ignoring the technical terminology used. This is nothing but decorating your aquarium using rock stones or pebbles stones, plastic plants and toys etc. Carefully choose the materials which are of decent quality and suits the type of fishes you gonna keep in the tank.
Choosing the Interiors.
This varies for fish families or varieties. For an example, cichlids, which are river based fishes, require rough stones in the tank so that they can rub themselves to get rid-off the old scales. They must do that in order to have new shiny scales. At the same time when you have decided to keep fish varieties line gold, molly and guppy, you can use the moulded surface stones like pebbles to add beauty to the aquarium.I normally recommend polished white pebbles of medium size (I mean a 1 to 1.5 inches diameter as medium size) to be used because this makes your cleaning easy and white colour works as a indicator to the timing to clean your tank. Also the light reflection on the white colour helps your fishes to look brighter.
Choose the plastic plants according the height of the aquarium. Normally these plants are available from 4 inch height onwards. Very small plant inside a tall tank may look odd. Also you have different types of plants available like, carpet type, grass type, bush type, etc. Don’t over crowd the tank but to have limited numbers to add to the beauty.Coming to toys, if you choose to have in case if there are children at home who may enjoy the air bubbles and designs, there are lots of designs and models are available.Remember, we are talking about only tropical fresh water aquariums where marine aquarium or planted aquarium will need different interiors since the nature of the fishes are different.
Getting the Tank Ready.
Once you complete the interiors of the Aquarium, you are good to fill the water. Normally I suggest to go with well or bore well water but in case you have Cavery (specific to Bangalore residents) then make you sure you use chemicals to remove the chlorine content in the water. There are a list of chemicals available in the market which can effectively clean the water. However you ensure that you follow this process so that you don’t end up killing the fishes.Do not attempt to use any RO water or the purified drinking water because they may have been treated with chemicals which could be harmful to the fishes. Also once the tank is filled with water; make sure that you run the motor for a good 2 to 3 hours to have the it oxygen enriched. May be if you have a 5 ft aquarium filled with water which does not have sufficient oxygen in it could turn to be a possible killing machine, which I have already experienced in the past.
Just to add some spice, let me tell you a little experience of mine. We had a customer ordered for a 5 feet aquarium tank for his Arowana. When we delivered the tank, he also requested the delivery buy to fill the tank with water and shift the fish which is little over one foot long. So the boy filled the tank with the water of approximately 400L and shifted the fish into it. With-in seconds the fish collapsed and started floating with his head up. Wondering client called me for help to have a look at the fish. When I reached there, looking at the fish, I only had one question to them; what’s your water source. In a few minutes I have learned that they have a bore well and do not have over head tank. They fill the water from the bore well directly into the tank and transferred the fish. Expecting to have sufficient oxygen in a water coming from a 400 feet long bore well of 5 inches diameter was the stupidity which has happened there.Immediately I have made arrangements to shift the fish to my storage tank at my place, in few minutes I could see the fish is swimming happily. Hope you got the learning from my experience.
Few more to look at…
Now, your Aquarium is almost ready to accept the fishes however there are few other factors you may want to notice before you add the fishes to it. Most importantly an aquarium heater, to maintain the temperature inside the aquarium. Most specifically in a city like Bangalore where the atmospheric temperature fluctuate drastically in a day is gonna be dangerous to the fishes. They prefer 28 to 30 degrees centigrade to stay warm. To maintain the temperature, placing a suitable aquarium heater is the best choice. This is also applicable to the aquariums kept in the air-conditioned room or office/commercial space. I refer suitable to the watt capacity of the heater. You may find these heaters available from 50W to 300W in multiples of 50s. Depending on your aquarium size, you can choose the right heater. For an example, if your aquarium size is 3ft in length and 18 inches in width and 18 inches in height, you may wanna use a 200W heater at least to keep the water warm.One good thing about the new generation heaters is, they come with an auto-cut mechanism which prevents them from working continuously and overheating.While choosing the heater, you may encounter another challenge where some of them would refer you to choose according to the water capacity of the aquarium but not the size. In that case all you need to do is to multiply the length, width and height in centimetres and divide the answer by 1000. For an example if your aquarium size is as I mentioned above then the calculation is going to be; 91 (3 feet length) X 45 (18 inches width) X 45 (18 inches height) /1000 = 184 Litres.So your 3 feet aquarium water capacity is 184 litres. In case if you are purchasing an aquarium heater made in western countries you may have to convert the litres into gallons. And the conversion rate isOne US Gallon =3.8 LitresOne UK Gallon = 4.5 Litres.I guess now you are good to go with the knowledge of your aquarium to a great extent and also your aquarium is ready to have the fishes.
Here comes the interesting part. Most of the times we mix fishes of our own interest who may not co-exist in the community tank because of their nature. Commonly aquarium sellers refer the varieties by the terms
“soft type” and “hard type”. This could be more for the easy understanding of the customer but I still wonder how these terminologies get fixed. What I find as some of the differences between so called SOFT and HARD varieties are, life span, size, hardiness and nature. If I may want to make a table on this, it may be like the one below;
You may want to note that this is just my observation on watching the fishes for years together but may not something I could technically prove.Commonly the varieties in my observation like Gold, Guppy, Molly, Zebra Danios, Platy, swardtail, black ghost, most of the Barbs and angels live together happily. On the other hand varieties like Cichlids, morphs and carps would co-exist easily. Well, this is just a guideline not a thump rule because there are times I have observed things works strangely where a goldfish eating away a guppy. In general what you may need to watch out is type of fish, similar size and health of the fish when you buy.
These are few standard complaints I hear from most of the customers off and on and I am going to try to list the most of them possible….
1. My fishes are dead on the very next day….
Pretty simple..there could be two reasons. Either your aquarium is not completely ready when you load the fishes or the fishes you have bought are not healthy.
2. My fishes start dying one after the other eventually I have an empty tank…Sad !!!! This may be because of the water, or could be of poor maintenance can also because of simple things like not maintaining the temperature or over feeding, etc. You may choose to fix the problems and restart your hobby or just find another way to make use of the aquarium tank in some other manner although I don’t recommend the second one.3. There are white spots on the fish`s body, fin or tail is missing (sometimes even an eye), wounded (in the war may be?), etc…I may recommend you to run through my website where I already have a link that says IS YOUR FISH SICK… (www.fishaway.in). This may help you to solve the issues to a great extent but in case if this doesn’t help, then get to a Vet to handle the situation.4. My aquarium is leaking/cracked…Very limited options you have…if there is a leakage then possibly can be taken care with little silica but if it’s cracked, just call me. I got a new business !!!!5. My fish is not eating..Just give what he or she wants…on a serious note, do not over feed. In fact I am trying to make one more write up on how to feed your fishes because this is the major cause for our killings.6. Why are my fishes not dying even after so long???
What a question…I am sad too. My bread and butter is at risk !
I am not too sure whether this helped you to fix your problems guys..Leave some comments if there is anything more i can share to make your life easy however come what may, make sure you have an aquarium at home coz i am into this business!