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Related Articles: Setting up a Freshwater Aquarium, Treating Tapwater, Aquascaping for Beginners; Twenty Tips for Realistic Aquaria by Neale Monks, Aquascaping Adventures in Aquascaping by Timothy S. Gross, Livestocking a Freshwater Tank, Maintaining a Freshwater Aquarium

Related FAQs: Setting up a Freshwater Aquarium, FW Set-Up 2Maintaining a Freshwater Aquarium

/Effective Retailing: Useful Handouts

Your New Aquarium: Tips For Beginners

Bob Fenner  

This is another in the series of handouts we've found to be useful in supplying our customers with a ready reference of  necessary information. We distribute these freely at our retail and public shows, printed on our company stationery with business cards attached. We have found them to be an extremely practical marketing tool

In this article we'll discuss the initial set-up of an aquarium and the simple maintenance to keep your new wet pets alive and happy.

When you buy your first aquarium it is best not to buy the fish at the same time. This is because you need to let the water setup at least overnight. After arriving home with your new aquarium the first thing you should do is thoroughly clean everything; including the tank, equipment and accessories, excluding fish and plants of course. Never use soap or detergent to clean tanks or gear. Any soap residue can cause serious problems. If cold water won't work hot water or rock salt or bleach may be used. The bleach residue will be removed by using your dechlorinator after a thorough rinsing.

The location of the tank is very important. You should try to keep the aquarium out of a busy section. Too much commotion will frighten your fish initially. Also, locate your tank away from any direct sunlight, or you'll have an algae and heat problem.

Leaving your aquarium lights on too long will create the same condition. Having your aquarium completely covered is a good idea; this insures that your fish will remain inside the tank, reduces water loss due to splash and evaporation, and reduces mildew problems. You are also keeping small hands and household pets out of the tank.

After waiting at least one day you are ready to introduce some livestock. It's advisable to try some inexpensive ones to "test the waters" at first. Make sure the fish you are buying are compatible with your system and other fishes, and that they are healthy. Shop around for a store that you feel is clean, has healthy stock and a friendly, helpful staff. Ask your questions, read all the available literature, and consult with other hobbyists.

Acclimation: Once you get your new fish home, you must equalize the temperature of the aquarium and the water in the bag. The easiest way to do this is to just float the bag in the tank for about half an hour with the light off. You are now ready to release the fish into the tank. It's a good practice to initially mix the shipping water in your tank with your first batch of fish and net out later entries and discard the shipping water. Some delicate specimens that don't care for our tap water do better with mixing the water two or three times while they are being acclimated for temperature.

While at the store ask the clerk serving you about the habits of your new charges. How do they like their tank set up, what do they eat, are they compatible, anything peculiar about their care and maintenance? In particular, check your water temperature before adding fish and adjust it slowly, over a period of days, if it needs to be changed much. Provide plenty of hiding places for new entries to hide away for bullies.

Feeding: Not all fishes are able to survive or do well on a diet of only flake food. All fish should get an occasional treat of freeze-dried, frozen or fresh food. There are many different foods available; experiment and find which ones your fishes really enjoy. Feed them twice a day or more often with smaller amounts if you can. Your fishes will live longer, healthier lives.

Feed only as much as they can consume in about five minutes. If you feed too much, siphon it off the bottom. Make sure all your fish are getting something to eat. It is a good idea to study your fishes' behavior. If their behavior changes, it may be an early warning sign that something could be wrong.

Maintenance: Almost all fish and plant disease are environmentally related. Good water quality and regular maintenance will prevent most diseases. If you have been diligent in selecting healthy, compatible specimens you'll never have to worry about sick fish.

The best thing you can do is regular water changes. Change about 1\4 of your water once or twice a month by siphoning from the bottom. Check with the store about how to do this. When adding new water, you must check to make sure it's about the same temperature; add your chemical to remove the chloramine from the tap water.

If your tank is set up right it will give you years of enjoyment.

Fish watching is relaxing and soothing to the nerves. This hobby has much to offer. Welcome to it.

If you should have questions, problems or even suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Children and Fish?   6/27/06 Wet Web Crew~ <Amanda> Thank you so much for this site. It rocks! My question is probably one of personal opinion. I am considering buying my nephew a fish for his birthday. He will be seven in late August. I want to go ahead and start the process soon so I can cycle the tank and acclimate the fish before he gets it. I am considering a Betta in a 2.5g tank, possibly the Mini Bow kit and buying a heater to go with it. I want to get something that will be easy for my nephew/brother/sis-in-law to take care of. Will this be a good idea? <Mmm...> Is there a different fish that you would recommend or do you feel anything would be too much for a seven year old? Also, is there a good fish care book for children that you would recommend? I want him to learn the joy of having a fish, but I don't want to overwhelm him at his age. Thanks for your help!!! Amanda S. <I very much appreciate the opportunity to respond to this earnest, important question. IMO, given a certain "maturity level", and permission of parent/s, guardian/s it is entirely appropriate for children to "take on" the responsibilities of caring for living pets, including tropical fishes. Very important to have exposure to the living world and to learn first hand the joy, wonderment, as well as necessities of such care. I salute your interest, involvement. A Betta, this type of set-up is close to perfect here. Bob Fenner>

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