fish aquariumA fish tank or aquarium gives us a great opportunity to view the underwater world and learn about the behavior of aquatic animals. Both salt water and fresh water aquariums can be educating, entertaining and a source of relaxation.

However, a healthy fish tank requires some care and attention. Water in natural lakes, rivers and oceans is naturally cleaned and filtered. This is not so with a fish tank. It will need human help.

Your aquatic wonderland should include the following items:

The Fish Tank – Clean the inside of your new aquarium with a damp cloth. do not use soap or any other cleaner. Place the empty aquarium on a structure that will support it when full. Find a location away from direct sunlight to control temperature and algae growth. Do not place a fish tank near a heat or air conditioning vent.

The Filter – Removes debris, ammonia, nitrates and it replenishes oxygen in the water. You can have a fish tank without a filter, but it’s a lot of trouble. Every week you would have to take the fish out and completely empty the tank to clean it. Then add fresh water, condition it and put the fish back. This is very stressful for the fish and a major hassle for you. Just get a filter.

The Heater – Fish depend on the water temperature to control their body temperature. Tropical fish generally require water temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your room temperature is below this, your fish tank will need a heater. A submersible heater with a thermostat is a good choice. It should be attached inside the back wall of the aquarium with a clip or suction cups near the bottom. But it should not touch the gravel as the heat transfer can cause the heater glass to crack. Make sure to position your heater so that no fish can get trapped between it and anything else in the fish tank.

The Lighting – Proper lighting enhances the beautiful colors of your fish and provides energy for live plants. The are a variety of light bulbs that will work. Get more detailed information here.

The Gravel – Aquarium gravel can be found in most any store that sells pet supplies or online. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the gravel before the first use. A gravel siphon vacuum is a good investment for ongoing cleaning. Use it when doing your water changes.

The Water Conditioner – Removes chlorine, neutralizes chloramines and detoxifies heavy metals in your fish tank water. Do not put fish in untreated tap water. It can be very harmful or fatal to the fish.

The Plants – Live or fake? Live plants do add oxygen and nutrients to the water in your aquarium. But beware! They can enhance the water quality or they can kill it. Healthy plants put out a variety of nutrients, naturally clean the water and control algae growth. The health of your fish depends on the health of your plants. So, you will have to take special care of your live aquatic plants.

Artificial plants look real and cost less. They don’t require any special lighting or fertilizer. You can put them anywhere in your fish tank without having to worry a material from which to grow them.

After Setting Up your Fish Tank

First find out which type of fish would be best to start with and which fish get along with each other. It’s best to buy only a few fish in the beginning and add more gradually over the next month or so. Let your new aquarium system run for at least 24 hours before introducing any fish.

The temperature in the fish tank should be the same as the container used to transfer your fish from the shop. Immerse the fish in the container in the fish tank for 15 minutes. Then open the container and add a small amount of fish tank water. Do this every 5 minutes or so for the next 15 minutes. Finally, gently net the fish and gently lower the net into the aquarium. Let the fish swim out of the net into it’s new home. Throw the water in the water in the container used to transfer the fish away. Do not add it to the aquarium.

Cleaning Your Fish Tank

Replace the filter cartridge and change ¼ of the water in your fish tank at least once every month. This is good time to use your gravel siphon vacuum, too.