About 6 months ago, I decided to graduate from my Beta bowl to a regular fish tank. I got a 10 gallon tank kit at the local pet store and it has been a wonderful experience since. I did a lot of research and talked on the phone with my mother (who has had tanks for a while) a lot as I got ready. Since then, there has been some trial and error, but right now I have 1 beta, 1 corey, and 2 neons. For Day 9, I am going to take all that information that I learned and teach you how to set up a fish tank.
The first thing you need to decide is what size fish tank you want to buy. This will be determined by how much experience you have, how much space you have, and how many fish you want. If this is your first tank, I would start with a 10 gallon. This size will give you enough space to try out a few fish and see if you have the touch for keeping them alive. Which was my main concern. There is a rule that says you can have one inch of fish for every gallon of water; however, that will also depend on the amount of plants and decorations you have.
When you decide on the size tank that you want, you have to get all the accessories. Most pet stores have kits. This is a great way to set up your first fish tank. The kit usually includes the tank, a hood with a light, and a filter. It is also usually good to have a thermometer and a heater. I learned this the hard way – not realizing just how cold the water was, I lost a couple small fish. Just follow the directions for setting up the tank accessories. You can choose to put rocks, gravel, or marbles on the bottom of your tank. I prefer a natural looking mix of gravel and rocks, but there are all different colors available. You will also need some plants. Pet stores carry so many different varieties of plants that you are sure to find a style and color that suits you. Along with plants, you can also include large rocks, logs, bubble makers, and all kinds of decorations. I would definitely recommend having some kind of cave for fish to hide in if they want to. How many and how you arrange the plants and decorations will be up to you, but remember, the more of these things that you have the less space you have for fish. You will want to fill the tank about 1/3 of the way. This will allow you to arrange plants and decorations. Then you can fill the rest of the tank with water.
It is very important to treat the water. Tap water has chemicals and chlorine that are harmful to your fish. You can buy a test kit, and I would highly suggest SafeStart. It will help to reduce the ammonia and nitrites, which are bad, and promote the good bacteria that are needed to keep your fish healthy. You do not want to put fish in right away. Your tank needs to build up those important bacteria so that the fish won’t die. This is called cycling your tank. Anyone at the pet store can explain in detail what you need to do, and there are lots of videos and websites online.
When you are ready to add fish, you want to do it slowly, so that your tank can maintain healthy levels. There are so many kinds of fish, so I would do a little research and ask at the pet store. I started with 4 guppies. These aren’t really schooling fish, but they do like to hang out with each other. These come in some nice colors and are very active. You should wait about 2 weeks before adding additional fish. If adding different kinds of fish, you want to make sure that they aren’t going to be aggressive toward the ones you already have.
Keeping the tank clean was the piece that scared me the most, but it is actually pretty easy if you have the right tools. Not over-feeding your fish will help with waste building up at the bottom of the tank. Once a week I run my fingers through the plants in my tank to clean them off – especially the ones that are next to the filter. It is important to cycle the water, so once a week you should drain ¼ of the water with a siphon tube. The siphon has a wide tube at the end that allows you to clean the gravel and get rid of the waste that accumulates. I do this with the fish still in the tank. As long as you are paying attention not to suck up a small fish, they should be fine. When you are done, fill the tank back up. The water will be foggy at first but will soon settle and be clear. Cleaning the filter will vary depending on what kind you have. I have a sponge filter. Once a month I take it out of the tank, squeeze the dirty water out of it, get it wet again, and squeeze it one more time. I do have cats, so I usually have to pick off a couple cat hairs that have gotten stuck on the outside of the sponge, but that is it. I don’t clean it, because the filter is the best way for your tank to keep a healthy level of bacteria. If you clean out all those bacteria, your tank will have to build them back up again.
Setting up plants and decorations, and choosing fish is the fun part, but it is very important to keep up with it on a weekly basis for the health of your fish. Watching your fish swim around is a great way to relax, and the tank can be a nice focal point to any room.
* I am not an expert, this is just the little that I have learned over the last few months
Check out “My Fish” video