A beautiful aquarium can really change things up in your household. It can create a sense of tranquility and introduce elements of nature into your home.
If you’re thinking about adding a fish tank to your living space there are few things that you need to consider. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as pouring unconditioned tap water in a big bowl and placing some sealife in it. But, with a little bit of research, you will be able to put together an aquarium that’s right for you.
With so many online aquarium shops out there, it’s never been easier to buy fish tank essentials. For those who are new to this hobby, here are five things that you absolutely need in your aquarium.
For natural bodies of water, the soil, sand and rocks act as the filtration system. They remove harmful bacteria and allow fish and other aquatic animals to thrive in the water. In a closed aquarium, however, there aren’t many natural components that can purify the water. As a result, you need to add a proper filtration system. If you don’t, your fish tank will simply not be able to sustain any type of aquatic life.
Most aquarium filters have a litres-per-hour rating. This is the amount of water that goes through the filter media every 60 minutes. As a general rule, you should have a filter that turns over three times your total aquarium volume in one hour. Of course, this will depend on how big your aquarium is as well as the number of fish that you have.
Different types of fish require specific water temperatures. As a result, you might need a water heater to keep your fish safe and healthy. As a rule of thumb, you should keep your water at around 23-26°C. When it comes to common goldfish, a pet favorite, you can usually get away with colder temperatures. However, special goldfish breeds (i.e. butterfly, Tosakin, froghead and celestial eye) will require warmer water.
Most modern water heaters automatically turn off once the desired temperature has been achieved. However, it won’t hurt to regularly check the water with a thermometer every now and then.
If you’ve seen aquariums in office buildings or restaurants, you’ll know that most of them have fancy lighting. While aquarium lights are mainly used for aesthetic purposes, they do have a practical application as well.
Growing natural plants in your fish tank will require a significant amount of light for photosynthesis. For this purpose fluorescent lights will do. Fluorescent lights have enhanced blue and red spectra, which are required in photosynthetic reactions. Across the spectrum, most green values are not absorbed by plants. This is what gives them that green hue.
It’s important to remember that most lighting fixtures emit heat. This is one reason incandescent bulbs are not suitable for aquariums. Even with fluorescent lights, you still need to be careful not to overheat your aquarium. This is particularly important if you live in an area where the climate is warmer.
4. Thermometer and test kits
With so many factors that affect the water temperature, it’s good to have a trusty thermometer. You can get one that comes in direct contact with the water or or one that sticks to the outside of the aquarium glass. As with most consumer-grade measurement tools, your thermometer is likely not going to be 100% accurate. However, it’s important to know if you’re close to the right temperature.
While you’re taking the temperature, you should also test the water for harmful compounds. You need to check your aquarium water for ammonia, nitrates and carbonate hardness. In terms of acidity levels, you should aim for a pH between 6.5 to 7.5. To do this, you need various test kits. Plenty of aquarium shops online should be able to provide you with the tools that you’ll need.
5. Chlorine remover
Eventually you’re going to need to change out your water. If you’re using tap water, you must have it dechlorinated before you place your fish in it. Chlorine will kill the cells in your fish’s gills, causing respiratory issues and, eventually, asphyxiation.
To avoid this, make sure you have a water conditioner/chlorine remover handy. A few drops of chlorine remover is usually enough to make the water safe.
When changing the water, make sure you test for the compounds listed above. Also, don’t forget that the temperature must be at an appropriate level so as to not harm the fish. You might have to let the water sit for a while before letting your fish back into the aquarium.
Now you’re ready to have your very own aquarium. If you need help, you can also contact your local aquarium shop for advice. If you’re not sure about temperatures, filters or lighting types, it’s a good idea to consult a specialist. You wouldn’t want to harm fish in the process of setting up your aquarium. Don’t worry, though. After everything is set up, you’ll be having a lot of fun taking care of your new aquatic pets.