Having a fish tank at home can make you and your family happy. It’s not just a home décor item but it also creates a healthy environment for you and your children to learn how to take care of pets. Fishes may not be as sophisticated as other pets like dogs and cats but they are pets too. They can feel the things around them and you can have a whole lot of fun feeding them, watching them swim around, and taking care of them. However, fishes are really sensitive creatures and even the slightest trouble can kill them. You need to be very careful when handling them or else your fish tank will turn into a pool full of dead fishes. To avoid this you need to know how to set up a fish tank properly.
If you want your fishes to be happy and healthy, you need to take care of certain things right from the beginning. This applies to everything that you do when you set up the tank and the atmosphere around it. Here are a few points that you need to keep in mind if you want your fishies to be at their best.
The Position Of Your Fish Tank
The place where you keep your fish tank should not be below a vent or a window. This is because dust from the vent or the window will directly fall into the tank and contaminate the water. Also, do not keep your fish tank in outdoor spaces because excess exposure to sunlight will result in the growth of algae in the fish tank which can grow out of control in just weeks. Algae growth can make it impossible for you to get your fish tank cleaned properly. Also, if your fish tank is exposed to the sunlight too much there will be serious temperature variations during the daytime and at night which is not good for the health of the fishes.
The most ideal place to keep your fish tank would be somewhere interior and against a wall with a few inches gap between the wall and the tank so that there’s enough room for the filter. Try not to keep in a place where there are electronic devices that radiates heat.
Float Your Fish
Do not introduce the fishes to your tank as soon as you get them from a pet store. The composition and temperature of the water that they were living in for a long time can be very different from what they are going to live in once you introduce them to your fish tank. This transition can be pretty traumatic for the fishes. The pet store owner catches the fishes using a net and transfers them to a plastic bag before selling them to you and all of these actions can shock the fishes. You can keep them alive in the plastic for a maximum time of three hours since the water and oxygen available are limited.
To make the transition easier on the fishes you can place the plastic bag with the fishes in the tank for about half an hour before you open it and let the fishes into the tank. Open the bag and add a bit of water from your tank to it and keep repeating the process every ten minutes so that the temperature and chemistry of both the water types blend. Never open the bag all of a sudden and pour the water along with the fish into the tank as if you’re throwing them in. Open the plastic bag and immerse it in your tank so that the fishes can swim out on their own to their new home. You can remove the plastic bag once all the fishes swam out of it; do not rush them.
Acclimating The Fish
Fishes are fragile and some of the species are more sensitive than the rest when it comes to sudden change in water composition. If you want to make sure that your fishes are healthy even after the transition, try to mimic their old environment by understanding the water composition of the pet store. Ask the store manager about the water parameters for nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia. You can gradually stop trying to mimic the water composition according to the extent of the difference in the composition of the two water types.
Enough Room To Swim Around
It’s very unhealthy to stuff your fishes in the fish tank because they are living organisms that need enough space to swim around. Water for the fish is like air for us and nobody likes to live in a small cubicle with ten other people. Also, if your fish tank is over-crowded, there will be less oxygen in it which will impact the health of your fishes in a bad way. Another problem with too many fishes in a confined space is that of excess waste which will degrade the quality of the aquarium water and clog the filters.
Condition The Water
The quality and composition of the water matter a lot when it comes to the long-term health of your fishes. You never really know how polluted the tap water in your area is and that’s why it is important to condition the water before you introduce your fishes to the tank. You can use a de-chlorinator if your water contains chlorine. Chlorine is often added to the water supplies since it is an efficient disinfectant but it can harm your fishes. De-chlorinators contain reducing agents that reduce chlorine compounds to chloride which is less harmful to the fishes. Conditioning the water is one of the most important steps in how to set up a fish tank properly.
To condition the water for your fishes, you can also add biological aquarium supplements to the water. Biological aquarium supplements release good bacteria into the water which are beneficial in eliminating undesirable components like ammonia, nitrates, and harmful bacteria. They are not harmful to the plant life or the fishes in the water and they condition the water faster so that you don’t have to wait for too long before you introduce the fishes. You can buy biological aquarium supplements from your nearest pet store.
The pH Level Is Very Important
The pH level of the water in your fish tank plays a vital role in keeping your fishes’ at good health. pH level determines the acidity or alkalinity of the water and you can test the pH level of your tank water with the help of a pH test kit. Most of the fishes thrive well in water with pH level between 6.6 and 7.8. However, this level can vary according to the species of the fishes that you want to keep. 6.6 to 7.8 pH level is ideal for freshwater fishes because it provides a naturally antiseptic environment which will improve their ability to resist illness. Try to use your pH test kit once in every few weeks to detect pH level fluctuations.
Great variations in the water temperature of your fish tank can make your fishes sick or even kill them. If you live in a place where the weather is pretty warm and sunny, keep your fish tank inside the house where there is less exposure to direct sunlight. If your place is cold most of the days, you may have to install an aquatic heater for your tank. Most of the species of tropical fishes thrive well when the temperature of the water is anywhere between 72°F – 82°F depending on the species.
Unlike mammals, fishes cannot produce body heat and they entirely rely on the temperature of the water for their survival which why it is essential for you to get an aquarium water heater. Aquarium water heaters are generally of four types: immersible heaters, submersible heaters, substrate heaters and filter heaters. They also come in different types and you need to choose the most appropriate aquarium water heater for your fish tank taking into consideration the amount of water in your fish tank and the temperature of your room.
Timely Replacement Of Water
Water replacement must be done every 2-3 weeks. A great way to replace water is by replacing the ones that are separated while vacuuming the gravel. Removing the water that is separated while vacuuming the gravel will eliminate leftover food, waste from the fishes, and sediments from plants that you grow in the tank. Before you add new water to the tank, condition them and make sure it is safe for your fishes. Get done with the de-chlorination process at least a few hours before you add the water to the tank since your fishes may not be able to tolerate the chlorine until the de-chlorinator works on it.
Apart from these important things, there are a few other things that you can do as well. Make sure that the species of fishes that you’re getting are peaceful with each other. Some fish species are aggressive and can harm or even feed on other fishes. If you want a combination of different species, ask the pet store owner about their behavior and aggressiveness. You don’t want your fishes to eat each other and turn your merry little place into a stage for a bloodbath scene
You can invest in add-ons like driftwood, plants, stones, and even good quality plastic structures that are smooth for your fishes to swim around. However, don’t cover the whole space with decorations since there must be enough room for your fishes to freely swim around. Let’s just say it’s ideal to have 1/4th of the fish tank space covered with decorations so that there’s 3/4th open space for the fishes to swim around. Also, don’t forget to re-arrange your decorations when you add new water. Your decorations can move around here to there when you add water and you need to set them back in the right place.
Fishes will eat whatever fish food you give them, but you can also give them healthy alternatives. Don’t get them bored! For example, if you have goldfishes, you can feed them with Shrimp, clam, brine shrimp, Daphnia, nightcrawlers; boiled lettuce, spinach, and other greens. Try to interact with your fishes while you’re feeding them so that they do not get scared every time you go near the tank. Let them be comfortable with you or other people around.
If you have kids at home, do teach them how to take care of fishes and involve them in activities like cleaning the tank and feeding the fishes. Tell them that the fishes will die if you take them outside the water and it will impact them badly if you put your hands in the tank without properly cleaning them. Kids are always curious to explore new things and that’s exactly why they may mess up with the fish tank if they didn’t really know how to handle things. They may end up dropping their toys in the fish tank which can be pretty disastrous for your fishes and if you have aggressive fishes like sharks, your ki’s’ may get bitten by the fish which has to be avoided.
You need to be very careful if you have other pets at home as well. If you have cats, they may try to catch the fish from the tank. In such a situation, the best thing to do is to buy a tank that’s fully covered. If you have a large tank and you have a cat, things can go pretty lethal for the fishes as well as the cat because the cat may fall into the tank any time. Also, if you have open windows near the fish tank, you need to keep an eye on things because birds from the outside can always come in, swoop your fish out, and fly away. It’s not a great idea to keep your fish tank outside anyway and even if you do, make sure you cover it at least for the time it’s outside.