Setting up a freshwater aquarium Part 1

By: gm333
November 3rd, 2013
8:01 am

Setting up a freshwater aquarium Part 1

The following information and ideas have been organized for use by members of fishtankforums.com who have recently started a new aquarium (freshwater) and/or are planning on purchasing a new tank.

Part one

Step #1 : Determining the correct size aquarium

The purchase of a new aquarium is the beginning to an exciting and educational hobby. A properly set-up tropical fish aquarium will provide hours of enjoyment. The first thing that you must decide on is the size of the aquarium. Aquariums are available from 5 gallons to 55-gallons or larger. You will have to decide what best fits into your living space. There is an endless variety of sizes, colors and finishes that fit into any decor. The larger the aquarium, however, the easier it will be to care for your fish. That's because an aquarium is a self-contained aquatic world. The more water there is, the easier it is to maintain a stable environment. Larger aquariums can hold more fish and plants plus they put on a "wide-screen" display in your home or office.

Step #2 : The Equipment and Decorations

The four major pieces of equipment are the heater, filter, air pump, and hood (cover & light fixture). You will also want to add interest to your aquarium with decorations.
The heater...
Tropical fish require a steady water temperature of 76? - 78?F/24? -26?C. Goldfish prefer cooler temperatures and should not be mixed with tropical fish. Fluctuating water temperature stresses fish, making them more vulnerable to disease. High quality aquarium heaters minimize water temperature fluctuations. Select an Aquarium Heater based on the size of your aquarium.
SIZE OF AQUARIUM Heater Wattage Required
Up to 15 gallons/57 liter 50 Watt
Up to 30 gallons/113 liter 100 Watt
Up to 45 gallons/170 liter 150 Watt
Up to 75 gallons/283 liter 200 Watt
Up to 100 gallons/378 liter 300 Watt
The filter...
Another important component of your aquarium is the filter. Aquarium filters keep the water clean by removing suspended debris and harmful dissolved pollution. They also agitate the water surface which increases the oxygen level in the water. Three common types of aquarium filters are: external power filters, internal filters and canister filters. The external power filter hangs on the back of the aquarium. Internal filters are fully submerged inside the aquarium. Canister filters sit beneath the aquarium. Aquarium filters have cartridges or compartments that hold filter media, which keep the aquarium water clean and clear. All filters provide one or more of the following types of filtration. Mechanical filtration removes suspended particles like bits of uneaten fish food and other debris. Filter cartridges and sponge pads are examples of mechanical filter media. Chemical filtration removes dissolved compounds that cause odors and discolor the water. Activated carbon is a good example of chemical filter media. Biological filtration uses bacteria to break down harmful fish waste (ammonia and nitrite). Bio-media provide a specially designed porous network for bacteria to live in.
Canister filters can hold more filtration media than other types of aquarium filters.
The air pump?
Air pumps are used for bubbling ornaments, bubble wands, and air stones. When the bubbles agitate the surface of the water, oxygen is added to the water.
The size of the pump is dependent on the number of ornaments and the depth of the water in your aquarium. Refer to the pump box to guide you in your selection.
The hood...
An aquarium hood should consist of a cover and a light fixture. The hood looks attractive and helps reduce evaporation of the water. It also reduces the chance of losing fish since it keeps them from jumping out. Select a hood that has a fluorescent light to illuminate your aquarium. Fluorescent lights generate less heat and are more efficient than incandescent bulbs. If you want to grow live aquatic plants you must use a fluorescent light. Plants require the high-quality full spectrum light that only a fluorescent aquarium hood can provide.
Decorations?
The pet shop has a variety of aquarium gravels and decorations. Plan on adding about one pound (about ? kilogram) of gravel per gallon (4 liters) of water. If you plan on growing live plants you should use the finest gravel available. Avoid large pebble gravel when growing aquarium plants. The key to a successful planted aquarium is to select only true aquatic plants (not houseplants) and use a lot of them. One or two live plants generally do not grow well. It is best to fully ?aquascape? the aquarium all at once. Some aquarists are content to use plastic plants. Decorations allow you to create a nice home for your fish. They can also provide a hiding place for fish. Having a place to go and relax is important for some varieties of tropical fish. Decorations help them to do that. The gravel and decorations you choose should come from a pet store to make certain that they are safe for your fish.

Step #3 : Finding a good place to set up your aquarium

Set up your aquarium in an area where it can easily be viewed and enjoyed by family and friends. The aquarium cabinet must be on a level surface. Also remember that you will need a power outlet nearby for the equipment.

Step #4 : Filling your aquarium with water

Place the gravel, rocks and decorations into the empty aquarium and arrange to your liking. Place the filter, air pump and heater, but do not plug them in yet! Carefully follow the directions that came with your electrical equipment. To keep the gravel in place put a plate upside down on top of the gravel and pour the water into it slowly. This will keep the gravel and ornaments in place. After the aquarium is full of water, turn on your filter, heater and air pump. Adjust the aquarium heater. Don't ever add fish to an aquarium filled with plain tap water. Tap water is treated with chemicals that can harm your fish. It is important to be aware that municipal tap water is treated with disinfectants (chlorine and chloramines) that are poisonous to tropical fish. Use Stress Coat, or other conditioners to instantly neutralize these chemicals, making tap water safe for your fish.
Your tap water may not have the right pH for tropical fish. pH is the measure of acidity in the water. pH is measured from 0 to 14. A mixed combination of fish placed in the aquarium is often referred to as a community. Most community fish thrive at a neutral pH of 7.0. A range of 6.8 to 7.2 is acceptable for a community aquarium. Tropical fish can survive when the pH level is outside this range, but they will never reach their full coloration and beauty. Test the pH of the aquarium water with a Freshwater pH Test Kit. If the test indicates a pH outside of the 6.8 to 7.2 range, use Proper pH 7.0 to insure the pH is safe for your fish. Proper pH 7.0 automatically adjusts the pH of your aquarium to 7.0.

1 Comments Read More

To sump or not to sump

By: saltynewbie
January 11th, 2013
2:08 pm

To sump or not to sump

I am facing a bit of a dilemna. My system right now is running fine without a sump but I am hearing that a sump is the way to go. Furthermore, I have a hang-on protein skimmer that looks somewhat unsightly hanging on to the side of my tank. I would like to hide it in my cabinet in the sump. When I bought my tank, I did not want a sump setup because I was afraid of it overflowing if ever the electricity cut out. This has happened to me in the past in my freshwater tank. I find the the whole sump system can be fairly finicky trying to adjust the water line.

Putting in a sump now is going to be time consuming as I will have to do some major work to have a small sump aquarium fit into my cabinet stand. My question is, do I really need one? I suppose I can live with a proetein skimmer hanging off the side.

Right now for filtration all I am running is a protein skimmer and about 120lb of live rock. This seems to be working fine. I also have a fluval 305 that is just circulating water. I've taken out the media. Should I get a bigger filter (my tank is about 135 gallon) to increase circulation?

6 Comments Read More

Merry Christmas....I got

By: Judge
December 25th, 2012
7:28 am

Merry Christmas....I got

On the first day of Christmas my fish store gave to me...
a fish tank and a really great stand.
On the 2nd day of Christmas my fish store gave to me...
two wooden air stones and a fish tank with a really great stand.
On the 3rd day of Christmas my fish store gave to me...
three trapdoor snails, two wooden air stones, and a fish tank with a really great stand.
On the 4th day of Christmas my fish store gave to me...
four floating thermometers, three trapdoor snails, two wooden air stones, and a fish tank with a really great stand.
On the 5th day of Christmas my fish store gave to me....FIVE NEON RAINBOWS, four floating thermometers, three trapdoor snails, two wooden air stones, and a fish tank with a really great stand.
On the 6th day of Christmas my fish store gave to me...
six live plants, FIVE NEON RAINBOWS, four floating thermometers, three trapdoor snails, two wooden air stones, and a fish tank with a really great stand.
On the 7th day of Christmas my fish store gave to me...
seven sword tails swimming, six live plants, FIVE NEON RAINBOWS, four floating thermometers, three trapdoor snails, two wooden air stones, and a fish tank with a really great stand.
On the 8th day of Christmas my fish store gave to me...
eight wands a bubbling, seven sword tails swimming, six live plants, FIVE NEON RAINBOWS, four floating thermometers, three trapdoor snails, two wooden air stones and a fish tank with a really great stand.
On the 9th day of Christmas my fish store gave to me...
nine knife fish cutting, eight wands a bubbling, seven sword tails swimming, six live plants, FIVE NEON RAINBOWS, four floating thermometers, three trapdoor snails, two wooden air stones, and a fish tank with a really great stand.
On the 10th day of Christmas my fish store gave to me...
ten leaf fish leaping, nine knife fish cutting, eight wands a bubbling, seven sword tails swimming, six live plants, FIVE NEON RAINBOWS, four floating thermometers, three trapdoor snails, two wooden air stones, and a fish tank with a really great stand.
On the 11th day of Christmas my fish store gave to me...
eleven pounds of gravel, ten leaf fish leaping, nine knife fish cutting, eight wands a bubbling, seven sword tails swimming, six live plants, FIVE NEON RAINBOWS, four floating thermometers, three trapdoor snails, two wooden air stones, and a fish tank with a really great stand.
On the 12th day of Christmas my fish store gave to me...
a bill for 1200 dollars, eleven pounds of gravel, ten leaf fish leaping, nine knife fish cutting, eight wands a bubbling, seven sword tails swimming, six live plants, FIVE NEON RAINBOWS, four floating thermometers, three trapdoor snails, two wooden air stones, AND A FISH TANK WITH A REALLY GREAT STAND.


SO, what kind of fishy stuff did you get for Christmas??

0 Comments Read More

Stocking Schemes

By: RJRofFL
October 6th, 2012
2:29 pm

Stocking Schemes

Stocking Schemes
The following suggested stocking schemes which I found most informative, reliable and accurate came from an excellent book written by David E. Boruchowitz, entitled "The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums."

Your tank is set up. Everything's working. It's almost cycled. Now what?

In an attempt to address the commonly asked question of 'What kind of fish should I get?" I am offering some suggestions simply as
"food for thought" type of ideas for stocking your aquariums.

5 Comments Read More

You Know You Are Addicted When.....

By: RJRofFL
October 21st, 2011
6:31 pm

You Know You Are Addicted When.....

When I first pursued this hobby I was warned, repeatedly over and over that it would become addictive.

Although I immediately dismissed this idea, as each day passes I find circumstances occur which bring truth to that warning.

I strongly urge you to examine your own lifestyle to see if any of the following apply in order that you too might need to seek therapy before it's too late.

You Know You Are Addicted When:

1 - You rearrange the furniture in a way that that the TV faces the tank so the fish can watch Animal Planet.

2 - You give names to all the fish and in your own mind honestly feel they individually respond when you call out "Tad, Biff, Buffy or Rocco".

3 - You enter the house with a water-filled plastic bag and sheepishly ask your spouse or parent "Can We Keep Him?"

4 - You mistakenly interpret fin movements as a "wave" or "high-five"

5 - When introducing a larger fish to your tank do you mimic in your best Al Pacino impression "Say Hello to My Little Friend?"

6 - When you call the dog over to play do you ask him to give you his fin?

7 - As Christmas draws near do you think about what kind of "toys" you can buy your fish? And how will you wrap them?

8 - When scolding your fish do you often use the old and tired out phrase "Why, when I was your age..."?

9 - Upon the demise of a fish do you find yourself prevailing with a eulogy which starts with "He was a good fish"?

10 - And finally, when driving down the road does your car suddenly veer to the right when you pass a LFS?

So tell me, do you need therapy? What are your symptoms?

Thanks,
Bob

96 Comments Read More

Show off your cichlid Pics!

By: gm333
July 6th, 2011
12:11 am

Show off your cichlid Pics!

A gallery of amazing Cichlid pictures from the members of Fish Tank Forums!

169 Comments Read More

Chronicles of Willis

By: Judge
December 20th, 2010
5:50 am

Chronicles of Willis

I am writing this to give insight, information and hope to any who have a favorite fish. I have such a fish and if there was only one lesson to be learned (which of course there were more) it was to not give up hope (which I did). Not even sure where to begin with this fish so I will try and make this article as brief as possible and perhaps not bore those who can gain some help with a variety of illnesses and

3 Comments Read More

Questions on freshwater planted aquariums.

By: ahill3780
June 5th, 2010
4:46 pm

Questions on freshwater planted aquariums.

I know what nutrients, and what levels to target when setting up a reef aquarium since finding information online regarding that topic is not hard at all. However, learning the proper way to set up and maintain a freshwater tank is less widely available.

My brother has a 75 gallon freshwater planted system and he has recently tapped my shoulder for advice and help in making it more stable and healthy. Being more of an expert in saltwater systems I am not sure where to start. I did some research and learned a little of the basics that I passed along to him as a start, but I fear that he is more lost in this than I am. So I was wondering if you could help me out a little here.

11 Comments Read More

Green water in tank - cant get rid of it

By: erik11
April 24th, 2010
6:22 am

Green water in tank - cant get rid of it

I have a 70 gallon freshwater tank. It was great the first 5 months with just fish, no plants in it. Somehow I got an algae bloom in my tank and now my tank has been green ever since. The fish have all been fine, but its just hard to see them. Here's what I have done to it and my tank parameters:

Water quality: Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, PH, Alkalinity, Hardness, Chlorine, all zero or in normal zone
Tested for Phosphates: 10.0+ obviously it was off the scale
My tap water had 1.0 phosphates in it already
Added a few plants to help with the phosphates - no change
Aeration: 2 bubblers which I turned up to increase air in the tank - no change
Filters: 2 Outside filters and one Under gravel filter tube with power head
Temp: 80
Water changes: 50%-66% weekly! but the green comes back
I have two 20 gallon tanks using the same water and they are not green at all

34 Comments Read More

Emergency

By: Speedstreetz
February 14th, 2010
6:30 am

Emergency

my tank is a well established 40g. last night I noticed a few white spots on my tetras that looked like sand. then i saw my catfish has a few more as well. Ich is what I assume so I went and got treatment today it turned the water blue. I turned the light out removed the carbon filter raised the temp 2deg added 1/2 tbl spoon salt and 4 caps of stress coat. all my fish are acting 100% different... my eel is swimming around alot...1 of my pictus catfish is just chillin on the bottom panting and looks like hell... my swordtail was biting his back fin... the cat is twice his size. the other catfish is swimming around at the top. neither one would eat the last 2 nights (tried bloodworms, shrimp pellets, flakes, alge, and a cucumber) all of which they normally Go CRAZY for. I had my leporinus in there but i accused home of eating half my femaly swordtail so i took him back. I had my water tested a few times and both petco and petsmart and they said it was all great! If anyone knows whats going on please help. Im pretty worried about my fish!

thanks
william

16 Comments Read More