Fish Keeping is More Than a Goldfish and a Fishbowl
In this page, you will learn that fish keeping is more than just a goldfish and a fishbowl. I will teach you what equipment to buy before bringing home your pet. Remember, some deaths can be avoided by knowing the basics.
Things You Will Need
New fish owners always think that the smaller the aquarium, the easier it is to maintain. The truth is quite the contrary. It is highly encouraged to buy the biggest aquarium possible. Bigger aquariums can carry more volumes of water, thus, allowing more room for "mistakes" for new hobbyists. To find out how many gallons your aquarium can carry, multiply the length, width, and height of your tank (in inches) and divide the product by 231. However, keep in mind that big aquariums are heavy. Make sure that the furniture where you're going to place the aquarium can carry its weight. Each gallon weighs 9 pounds.
To have a healthy fish, it is important to keep the water sparkling clean. Installing a filter will allow the water to circulate through a filter medium that acts as a purifier.
This is the process of growing beneficial bacteria that makes the water toxic free. Fish wastes, along with uneaten food and dead organisms, produce toxins known as ammonia. High levels of ammonia can kill your fish and plants. The beneficial bacteria living in the aquarium convert the deadly ammonia to nitrite, which is still harmful to the fish. Nitrite is then converted to the much safer nitrate. You can easily get rid of nitrate through partial water changes.
This process - ammonia to nitrite to nitrate - is known as cycling. Cycling, also known as the "New Tank Syndrome," takes place the first time you set up your aquarium. To complete this process, you have to provide a moist place for the beneficial bacteria to thrive. They stay in the filter media, on the surface of tank decorations, or in the gravel. These bacteria eat the ammonia in the aquarium. When ammonia levels spike, these bacteria will take in more oxygen as they will need to work harder. This will greatly reduce the oxygen level in the tank, thus, suffocating your fish and plants. Some experts recommend doing regular small water changes during cycling to minimize ammonia levels. Others even recommend a fishless cycling to avoid the risk of killing any fish.
Allow these good bacteria to grow in number to keep your aquarium toxic free. You can buy ammonia and nitrite testers to monitor their levels in the tank. When you have zero levels of ammonia and nitrite for 8 consecutive days, your cycling is completed.
This is a type of filtration that removes foreign materials from your tank water to give it a crystal clear appearance.
This removes chemicals such as phosphate and silicate to prevent algae formation. It also absorbs medicine, so during medications, you must remove the chemical filter.
Air Pumps and Air Stones
Air pumps maximize the aquarium's surface area by allowing more gas exchange through water movement. Some types of filter (e.g. corner filter and undergravel filter) are fuelled by air pumps. Air stones can be attached to air pumps. Air stones create bubbles in the tank that may serve both as a decoration and an aide in gas exchange.
Heater is used during the cold season. In tropical countries such as the Philippines, heater is not required. However, it can be quite handy especially when your fish gets sick. Raising the temperature in the aquarium can kill some harmful bacteria and thus, speed up the recovery of the sick fish. Choose a heater with a thermostat which allows you to set the desired temperature and let the temperature stay in that range. You should also buy a separate thermometer along with the heater to monitor the temperature just in case the heater malfunctioned. For you and your fish's safety, make sure you have read the manual carefully before installing the heater.
Decorations are also optional. When I got my first fish, my aquarium didn't have any decorations. It looked dull and boring. My bigger fish started bullying my smaller fish. I decided to buy some decors to provide some hiding places for the bullied fish. It helped a lot. Eventually, the bullying stopped. I also think the fish are happier when they have hiding places in the aquarium.
Some fish such as Cichlids love to move pebbles around. It's cute when a fish puts a pebble in its mouth. For this reason, I had put pebbles in my tank. The pebbles also prevented my decorations from tumbling over. However, I realized that pebbles can harm naughty fish sometimes. It almost killed one of my fish. Do not use pebbles that are too large though, since large pebbles can trap uneaten food and other wastes. Also, if you're using undergravel filter, do not use fine pebbles as these may clog your filter. Choose a more natural-looking color. Neon-colored pebbles are cute, but they may scare your fish.
Fish, like humans, need sunlight to be healthy. I placed my aquarium near the window to provide a natural lighting for my fish's habitat. Do not place your aquarium on direct sunlight though. Direct sunlight would produce algae that are tough to remove from your aquarium. If natural lighting is not possible, install a lighting fixture over your aquarium. Choose the type and intensity of lighting that is most suitable for your aquarium. Each liter needs 0.4 to 0.7 watt.