A Guide to Aquarium Care

aquarium care
Photo by Delbert Pagayona

Setting Up The Aquarium

Cycling the tank

Set up your tank with dechlorinated water like “Aqua Safe”, a filter, a heater, gravel on the bottom, live plants and decorations as you wish, and a couple of hardy fish like zebra danios, get yourself an ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate test kit, as soon as your readings of ammonia and nitrite’s are at ‘0′, and your nitrates start to raise, you can start adding other fish,

Good starter fish for a 10-gallon fish tank

  • Schooling fish like neon tetras
  • bottom feeder like 2 corydoras
  • 1 male betta OR 3 female bettas (never put 2 males together or male & female, they are likely to attack each other)
  • Since these fish are all tropical and require a temperature of 76-82 degrees, so you will need a thermometer as well to check your temperature

Change Water Regularly

Do regular water changes after you have finished the cycle and you have more fish, the recommendation is a partial water change of 25% weekly with a gravel siphon

Do not overfeed your fish

Feed them only twice a day what they will eat in a period of 3-5 min at each feeding

Careful with algae Growth

Do not keep your fish tank near a window where sunlight enters the room, which causes algae growth. Leave your light on for 10-12 hours only during the day and turn it off at night for 12-14 hours (use of a timer is recommended.)

What Fish to Buy?

Fish are categorized into tropicals, semi-aggressive, aggressive, cold-water fish. When you buy fish from the pet shop, always get fish from only one category only

Buy a complete fish tank kit

It is advisable to buy a complete aquarium kit, which comes with the tank itself, filter, heater, hood, and light bulbs Also after you added fish you have to replace your carbon cartridge every 4-6 weeks

Pick the right aquarium

The size of an aquarium depends upon how many fish you want to add to your tank. The minimum requirement is 5 gallons but if you plan to add more than that then go ahead and choose bigger tanks. You can also use a smaller tank if you do not intend to add any additional fish later on.

Aquarium sizes

Aquarium sizes
Photo by Hao Rui

In general, the size of the fish tank will depend on the number and type of fish that will live in the aquarium. A thumb rule is that for each inch length of the fish, the fish tank should have a capacity of 1 gallon. However, there are some fish like bettas that will attack other species of fish when kept in the same tank.  So it is better to have separate smaller tanks for different types of fish.

Tanks of different sizes can be purchased at the local pet store and Walmart. Most suppliers will provide accessories like lights, filters, water conditioners, and food free with the tank.

Starter aquarium

starter aquarium
Photo by Huy Phan

A beginner should start with a freshwater tropical aquarium since saltwater fish tanks can be difficult to maintain. Most pet shops stock ten-gallon aquarium kits, through five-gallon aquariums, may also be considered if a limited amount of free space is available.

Some fish require a lot of care, so they should be avoided initially. Neon tetras are hardy fish and other types of fish that remain less than an inch long. Each fish should cost less than 10 dollars.

The “look” of the aquarium depends on the owner’s taste. For a natural look, use natural rocks, live plants, driftwood.

Selecting fish for an aquarium

Fish should be selected for an aquarium after considering the size of the aquarium and the filter installed.
Some popular aquarium fish are:

  • Neon Tetras
  • Black Neon Tetras
  • Red-Eyed Tetras
  • Serpae Tetras
  • Male Guppies
  • Siamese fighting fish
  • Tiger Barbs
  • Gold Barbs
  • Cherry Barbs
  • Goldfish
  • Sharks
  • Platys
  • Mollies

Cleaning an aquarium

The following equipment is needed for cleaning an aquarium.

Gravel vac ( with an extension) or aquarium vacuum – it is usually available at pet shops, but can be made at home using airline tubing to suck out the debris from the gravel.

Algae scraper – remove the algae from the plants.

Clean bucket – should not have been used for cleaning with detergents or soap, since even small amounts of residue can harm the fish. It is used for changing the water in the aquarium.

Water changes for an aquarium

aquarium water changes
Photo by Alexander AV3RKIN

The frequency of water changes and the amount of water to be changed in an aquarium depends on the following factors:

Number of fish in your tank.

It is better to keep the tank a little understocked since

  • There is more space for the fish to swim and grow
  • A smaller amount of pollutants are produced
  • Fewer water changes are needed

The type of filtration used

The amount of fish food and debris.

For a fully stocked fish tank with adequate filtration, 25% of the water should be changed weekly. If the fish tank has only a few fish, the water may be changed every two to three weeks, as this reduces the stress on the fish. If the fish are overfed, the excess food will settle at the bottom of the fish tank and it will have to be cleaned more often.

In addition, if there is too much waste being removed by the filter, then the bacteria cannot multiply fast enough to break down all the organic matter. This results in ammonia build up, causing stress to the fish.

How to clean an aquarium:

1. Remove any decorations such as plants, stones, etc., before starting the process.

2. Clean the inside walls of the aquarium thoroughly with hot water and dishwashing liquid. Rinse well.

3. In addition, scrub the outside surface of the glass with a sponge dipped into warm water. Make sure to rinse off completely.

4. Use a brush to gently sweep away loose particles. Do not scratch the glass.

5. Fill the aquarium with fresh tap water until the level reaches about 1/3rd of the way up the sides of the tank.

6. Add some salt to the water to help prevent algae growth. The concentration recommended varies depending upon the type of fish kept in the tank. Additionally, add one teaspoon of baking soda per gallon of water. Baking soda helps neutralize acidity levels in the water.

7. Check the pH balance of the water. A good range would be 6.0 – 8.0. Adjust accordingly.

8. After adding the chemicals, check again to make sure everything is balanced properly.

9. Place the lid back on the aquarium and let stand overnight.


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