Aquariums: What Beginner Aquarists Should Consider

Fish are easy to keep, cheap to buy, and easy to care for – at least that’s the theory. But if you do not get the right information before buying an aquarium or fish, you may not be able to enjoy the colorful underwater world after a short time. Because in order for an aquarium and its inhabitants (whether plants, fish, or marine animals) to thrive, you have to pay attention to a few points.

The Glass Case and the Crew

First of all, it is important to choose the right aquarium and that, of course, depends on which fish you want to use afterward. Because just like us humans, fish also have individual needs. Some need it salty, others sweet, some love it warm and the next one prefers to swim in cold water – but minds also need to be taken into account. Because if you don’t just want to keep one species, but want to revitalize a community aquarium with several species of fish, you also have to make sure that all residents get along. For example, if you have a particularly territorial loner in your troop, he will regularly cause trouble. Ultimately, not only is the bully under stress because his area is being ‘attacked’ – but he will also defend his territory and thus put his neighbors under constant stress.

Therefore, find out in the specialist shop or the breeder which fish go well with each other, get along, and to what extent they should be kept. Because while some species prefer to spend their life as a couple, others are swarming animals and only feel at home in a large group.

Favorite Ornamental Fish, Particularly Beginner-friendly

For aquarium beginners, the guppy is recommended – one of the most popular ornamental fish among Germans. Like other tooth carps that give birth to live, such as Mollys or swordtails, it is easy to hold and robust. In addition, it multiplies very quickly under good conditions, which means that even a small initial population can soon turn into a densely populated underwater landscape.

Here, of course, you have to be careful that the living space is not overpopulated and thus too small. As a rule of thumb, you can work with this calculation: There should be one liter of water for every one-centimeter fish. So around ten male guppies (these are almost three centimeters tall) could be accommodated in a 30-liter aquarium. However, female guppies grow to be around six inches long. This means that a maximum of ten males and five females would fit into a 60-liter glass case. In the case of fish that are particularly prone to reproducing, such as the guppies, you should therefore always start with a smaller amount – or use a larger aquarium. The advantage for beginners: the larger the aquarium, the more easily accessible it is for cleaning or installing the technology.

The Right Choice of Location for the Aquarium

Aquariums should not just be set up where there is space. Because here, too, there are a few things to consider. First of all, you have to consider the weight: a full pelvis weighs a lot and should therefore not have to go crazy later if possible. A special base cabinet that can easily support the weight is recommended, especially for large aquariums. You can get help and information about this at the hardware store or specialist shop.

In addition, direct sunlight (this leads to increased algae growth), proximity to sources of heat or cold and sudden noise should be avoided. A quiet, rather dark corner, in which there are sufficient sockets for the technical accessories to be attached, is the ideal place to set up the underwater landscape.

What You Need to Get Started

Just as we need a bed to sleep in and a refrigerator filled with groceries, fish also need something more than just a glass case filled with water. Therefore – depending on the size and the desired decoration and crew – add around 50 euros to the price of the aquarium if you are thinking about starting out as an aquarist. You can opt for a complete aquarium or put your facility together yourself.

Here is a basic checklist of what you need to get started:

  • Sufficiently space-providing aquarium (if necessary with base cabinet);
  • Cover hood with electrical, integrated light;
  • Filter;
  • 50-watt heating element (can usually be accommodated in the filter);
  • Thermometer;
  • Substrate (breeding ground for aquarium purposes – the layer should be around one centimeter thick);
  • Gravel (it is essential to wash it beforehand and only fill it in enough so that the bottom is around five centimeters thick);
  • Decorative elements as desired (should, however, offer hiding places and protective spaces;
  • Hornwort, for example, is recommended as a plant – it grows quickly and removes excess nutrients from the water);
  • Fish feed.

The Water Dwellers Come Later

As you may have noticed, there is nothing on the list about fish. This is because the aquarium takes at least two weeks to form a biologically good habitat for the swimmers. Because if you use your animals right from the start, you run the risk that they will become sick or die through their own excretions.

In addition, you shouldn’t let all residents move in at once after 14 days. Imagine how stressful it would be for you to move into a new house with twenty people at the same time. You also want to first examine everything in peace and get used to the new habitat – fishing is similar. Especially because these are additionally weakened by the transport from the dealer.

Therefore, never immediately drop your fish from the bag into the water. This is not only stressful, there is also a physical danger. Because due to the sometimes large water temperature differences between the transport bag and the aquarium, your new roommate could suffer a cold shock.

It is better to hold the still closed bag with the little fish in it lightly in the aquarium water. The greater the temperature difference, the longer you should wait. Then carefully open the bag at the top and gradually fill – in small amounts – aquarium water into the transport container. In this way, temperature equilibrium gradually takes place and the fish can slowly get used to the water ahead. After about 20 minutes you can tilt the bag slightly and let the new residents explore their surroundings.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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