AquariumEquipment Tips

Start Your First Fish Tank, But How? | Beginner’s Guide

I will tell you how to set up your first fish tank at home and what else you have to buy. Most often, an aquarium is bought for two reasons: You want fish to be at home, and there is a place that can be decorated with a home reservoir. 

first fish tank

Choose an Aquarium of a Convenient Size

First, you need to decide on the place to install the aquarium, its volume, and shape – the number and type of inhabitants depend on this. The most user-friendly and optimal for amateurs is an aquarium in the form of a rectangular parallelepiped with a volume of 60 liters. It will be comfortable for several schools of different types of fish and live plants. It will take up more space than a small aquarium, but it will be more resistant to changes in water parameters.

Different types of fish differ in behavior and living conditions. A specialist in a pet store will help you choose the right fish for your aquarium. You can find Recommendations in aquarium books.

Buy Filter For Aquarium

After buying your First Fish Tank, 2nd thing is water purification. To purify the water in an aquarium, you need a filter. With mechanical filtration, dirt particles are collected on a sponge. In biological filtration, organic contaminants are decomposed by bacteria. Also, in the filter, water is mixed and saturated with oxygen.

There are internal and external filters. Internal filters are more focused on mechanical filtration, they are cheaper and more popular with aquarists. External filters do not take up space in the aquarium and provide effective biofiltration to keep more fish.

water filter for aquarium

The main parameters for choosing a filter are ease of maintenance, reliability, and noise level. I love the Tetra Easy Crystal filters – they are very quiet and easy to maintain, operate like a waterfall and oxygenate the water. Inside there is a disposable replaceable cartridge, to replace which you do not need to remove the filter from the water and disassemble.

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There are Internal and External Filters for Aquariums

If you need a classic internal filter with an open sponge and air bubbles in the stream, the new Tetra Filter Jet will do. It comes with many accessories for different scenarios of use.

The filter packaging indicates to which volume of the aquarium the device fits. Do not take too powerful models – most aquarium fish and plants do not like a strong current, and unwanted alga from it grows faster.

Install Thermostat In Your Fish Tank

You need a thermostat to maintain the optimum temperature in the aquarium. It is equipped with a heater and a control system – the device turns itself on and off to maintain the set temperature. This is important because most fish are from the tropics and need warm water all year round.

The thermostat must be reliable: if it fails, all the inhabitants of the aquarium will die. I recommend the time-tested and popular Tetra TH series. On the packaging and in the instructions, there is information for which volume of the aquarium this model is suitable for power. Typically, the power corresponds to about 1 watt per 1 liter of the aquarium.

thermostat for fish tank

Choose a Special Lamp For Fish Tank

Lighting in the aquarium is necessary for the development of the color of the fish and the cultivation of live plants. LED lights are the most popular among aquarists. They are durable, consume little electricity and have different spectra. It is worth choosing aquarium models – ordinary household diodes can cause the growth of unwanted algae and are poorly suited for special plants.

To grow a lush underwater garden, I recommend the Tectonic LED Proline series of special plant lights.

Connect a Suitable Compressor

A compressor is a device for saturating water with oxygen and removing excess gases. Modern aquarium filters eliminate the need for a compressor.

A separate compressor is needed if the fish do not have enough oxygen – in the morning before turning on the light or in the day after feeding, they gather at the surface and greedily gasp for air, quickly move their gills.

Reliability and quiet operation are important to the compressor. I love the Tetra APS compressors with a patented air pump. They are durable, almost silent, have an attractive design and are stable thanks to the rubberized feet.

For aquariums containing shrimp or fish fry, a compressor is required in combination with a special sponge, such as the Tetra Brilliant airlift filter. You cannot use ordinary filters because this will harm babies. So, this is a must-have after buying your first fish tank.

Prepare Neutral Soil and Décor

The interior arrangement of the aquarium can be chosen according to your taste and in accordance with the requirements of plants and animals. For example, catfish love hiding places, so they buy different grottoes and caves for them. It is important for goldfish and some other species to have more swimming space. It is better to leave at least 30% of the aquarium space without decorations for the fish to be comfortable.

Ground and decorations should be made of chemically neutral materials. If the soil is of poor quality, the water will wash off the paint. Chips of marble, clamshells, and sea stones harden the water as they release calcium salts. In freshwater aquariums, they will increase unwanted algae and kill plants. To check the neutrality of decor materials and soil, you need to drip table vinegar on them: if they sizzle, then they are not suitable for the aquarium.

Some fish like shelter, others like free swimming space.

Natural driftwood, even purchased, can turn the water brown, especially at first. Soils and driftwood from natural reservoirs must be boiled before placing them in the aquarium. It is better and easier to choose a non-plastic décor that is sold at the pet store.

The particle size of the soil is important for beneficial microorganisms and plant roots. I do not recommend very fine sand or stones as soil. The optimum soil particle size is 3 to 5 mm. The edges of the particles should not be sharp. Tetra Active Substrate baked clay aquarium soil is optimal in terms of characteristics. It does not contain additives or dyes; it is absolutely neutral and rather porous.

Artificial Plants To Decorate Your First Fish Tank

Live plants decorate the aquarium, provide shelter for fish and improve water quality. Plants absorb nitrates and phosphates, emit oxygen, and serve as a place for the development of beneficial microorganisms. They differ in the conditions of detention, so you need to consult with a specialist to choose the right ones. It is better to start with such simple species as elodea, hornwort and vallisneria.

If there is not enough lighting or there are fish in the aquarium that can eat plants, it is better to buy plastic counterparts. Artificial plants must be made of non-toxic material and resistant to color. I recommend the Tetra Plantastic line – exact replicas of real aquarium plants in three popular sizes. Large for the background, small for the foreground and medium for medium.

plants to decorate fish tank

Buy Drugs For Water Treatment

Fish waste in the aquarium water decomposes. This is how toxic nitrites build up. There are bacteria in nature that convert nitrites into relatively harmless nitrates. Before placing the fish, such bacteria must be artificially populated into the aquarium.

For an aquarium, it is better to use regular tap water because water from wells or wells can contain a lot of salt and carbon dioxide, but little oxygen. To prevent tap water with chlorine and heavy metals from killing fish and plants, you need to use a special water treatment agent Tetra Aqua Safe. It instantly binds harmful elements and turns them into inactive, safe compounds. The composition contains a complex of vitamins and trace elements to reduce stress in fish. A special polymer will protect them from microbubbles.

Use Bio Starters Before Stocking Fish

After cleaning the water from chlorine, you can use bio starters to populate the aquarium with beneficial bacteria. The bottle of Tetra Safe Start contains millions of live bacteria that colonize all surfaces of the aquarium, the substrate, and filter, and then purify the water.

To quickly populate bacteria into the filter and start the first fish, Tetra Bactozym capsules must be used with Tetra Safe Start. The capsule is placed inside the filter. If the aquarium is more than 50 liters, it is better to additionally bury one more capsule in the ground. The capsule dissolves, the substance from it envelops the filter filler. Beneficial bacteria will live and feed in this substrate.

It is better to stock fish in the aquarium in stages. For the first two weeks, it is advisable to change the water to freshwater every three days, but not more than 30% of the volume of the aquarium at a time.

Consider The Option of a Ready-Made Aquarium Set

If time is short and you need a universal solution, you can buy a ready-made aquarium set. For example, the Tetra Aqua Art LED kit includes everything you need: glass aquarium, LED lid for day and night mode, Tetra Easy Crystal filter, Tetra TH thermostat, Tetra Min food, Tetra Aqua Safe water treatment and Tetra water care product Easy Balance. For such a set, it remains to buy only soil, décor and preparations for launching.