Today I wanted to write about what I wish I had known when I wished to become an aquarium hobbyist. This applies to both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
- Take your entrance to the hobby as gradually as possible. Don’t hesitate to dive in, but do as much research as you possibly can by using books, the internet, and other amateurs with good reputations. Take extra care to simply take advice to heart from individuals others trust, that also aligns with websites or literature that others agree with. You must also decide what direction you want to take the tank, but make sure it is before you start purchasing equipment. Would you like a reef tank? A freshwater cichlid tank? There are tons of options to bring joy to your home. Once you have done your research, you can set up an aquarium!
- Individuals who completely take all of the water out of fish tanks and clean filters with tap water do the exact opposite of what they are supposed to. This applies to not only saltwater, but also freshwater as well. As waste is added to an aquarium, this is known as ammonia. It can be added through the use of fish food, but it’s also excreted through fish . As ammonia builds up, without good bacteria to convert this ammonia to nitrites, it quickly becomes toxic and is the number one killer of fish. Once the aquarium’s beneficial bacteria forms obviously, it then turns the nitrites to nitrates. While nitrites are less toxic, they remove oxygen from the water. This is why they also need to be converted naturally to nitrates. Nitrates are the least harmful and may only be bad for fish in very large quantities. By simply taking out 25% of the aquarium water and replacing it with clean water that has been dechlorinated, you don’t shock the fish or beneficial bacteria. This bacteria can take 4-6 weeks to form if it is not seeded from another tank and this’nitrifying cycle’ can be very hard on your fish. Delicate fish won’t survive. The bacteria lives all over your aquarium. This may be from the gravel, filter, sand, and water column.
- Test your water. Test strips are cheap and easy to use, to look for elevated amounts in ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. The remedy or these scenarios is simply feeding less, eliminating some fish if the tank is over a couple months old and levels are still high, or doing partial water changes. I suggest to all my customers that they change 25-35percent of their water every 2 weeks. This will dilute nitrates down in the water by eliminating them. It’s not a necessity, but it’s a significant preventative in keeping fish healthy. If bad water doesn’t outright kill a fish, it weakens their immune systems and this is where sickness can kill the fish.
- Control your feedings. Most people I have come in contact with in the aquarium care industry follow the directions on fish food containers and majorly overfeed their fish resulting in deadly water and tank crashes. Feed a small pinch of food daily except for a day of the week with no food. Allow the fish eat all this food in 30 minutes with no going into the filter, and if the fish seems lean slowly creep up the food amounts. This way the beneficial bacteria can multiply to compensate.
- Research everything before you buy it. I can’t count the number of tank crashes and big humpbacked fish because the buyer didn’t do any research. Find out if your tank can create an ethical and healthy environment for your fish or coral, such as having enough room for them to grow to their specified healthy size. You and your livestock will be a lot happier and less stressed with ample space and filtration.