Setting-Up a Freshwater Aquarium


Aquariums are a wonderful hobby, but they do require some work, thought, and planning.

Before you start consider whether you can give your fish the care, time, and patience that they will need from you.

Below is a list of twelve points to consider before setting up an aquarium.*

1. Start-up cost and fish type:

Keeping aquarium fish is typically expensive (mostly due to all the equipment needed)

2. Aquarium size and placement

Your choice might be restricted by available space and budget. But as a general guideline, bigger is better.

3. Patience and the nitrogen cycle

The water might not remain balanced. As you add fish to your aquarium, their waste produces harmful chemicals. Special bacteria needed to stabilize the chemical in the water build up over time. It can take up to six weeks.

4. Filtration equipment

Determine the right filtration equipment for your aquarium.

5. Ultraviolet (UV) sterilizers

Can be used in the prevention of free-floating algae, bacteria, viruses, fungus, and even some parasites.

6. Aquarium lighting

Since the animals are no longer exposed to natural sunlight, providing the proper spectrum and intensity is vital for their overall good health.

7. Heaters and thermometers

Watch out for specific temperature requirements and the consistency of such a temperature.

8. Test kits and the addition of miscellaneous chemicals

The welfare of your new aquarium is dependent on its water quality. In order to achieve and maintain the proper chemical balance in the water, you will need to purchase various chemicals and additives.

9. Food and supplements

Like humans, fish need a varied diet. Rotate the fish food periodically and include supplements and vitamin boosters for added nutrition.

10. Health control

Get a “quarantine tank” to separate the sick fish from those who are not. The most common causes of sickness are fungal, bacterial, or parasitic. There are treatments for each of the main types.

11. Buying healthy fish from the start

Once you are ready to buy, a reputable on line retailer or pet store. Know what type of fish you should get. Look for fish that:

- Are alert
- Are active, but not hyperactive or skittish
- Have clear eyes
- Have full, but not bloated stomachs
- Have well-shaped fins that are in good condition
- Are breathing steadily, without laboring to breathe
- Appear clean and colorful, without unnatural spots or excess slime

Total Length of All Fish (inches)
Tank Volume Fresh Tropical Fresh Coldwater
10 gallon 10 5
20 gallon (high) 20 10
20 gallon (wide) 25 12
27 gallon (wide) 36 15
35 gallon (wide) 48 20
55 gallon (wide) 72 30

12. Don’t forget the live plants

The hardier species can thrive in most aquariums and are notably beneficial in controlling algae, improving water quality, reducing stress for the fish, and making your aquarium look more natural and beautiful. If you will have plants, provide at least 1.5 watts of lamp power for every gallon of water in the aquarium (2-3 watts is better).

*List from Doctors Foster and Smith's Web Site. Access the Web site for more valuable information.