Setting up a tropical fish tank is a great hobby, but many newcomers who enter this field have many myths and misconceptions floating around in their mind. If not cleared, these can be dangerous and even expensive when it comes to fish keeping.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Prakash Ganguly from BettaLove.com. This is the first guest post ever posted on Home Aquaria, and Prakash has some great tips for you readers today in avoiding the common mistake newcomers make when setting up a tropical fish tank.
Here are 5 common mistakes newcomers are likely to make while setting up a tropical fish tank in their home.
#1 – Picking up the wrong tank size
Fish tank size is a debatable issue in itself. Everyone has their own freedom and money to spend while picking up a fish tank. But I’m going to show you a secret that will help you to pick the correct size of the fish tank for your home.
Treat your fish tank as your another TV and then decide it’s size. I know this advice sounds a little weird, but try it.
If you treat the fish tank as your TV, you won’t pick it too small and at the same time you won’t pick it too big as well. Just think about it.
When the fish tank gets occupied with beautiful scenery, water and fish swimming around it will be a beautiful display in your living room, which will make you proud and you’ll be eager to show it to your friends and guests. It will become another object as the rest of the objects in your interior space.
Every object or artifact in your interior space has some proportions and relation to each other and same is true with the fish tank as well. If it’s too big, it will demand a lot of visual attention and if it’s too small, it will look like wasted space. That is why treating it like a second TV will make you think twice as a visual element.
#2 – Placing your fish tank at the wrong location
Many newcomers pay very less attention to the location of the fish tank. A lot of things are necessary to look for before you place it and fill it with water. Once it gets filled, it becomes very difficult to disturb all the decoration and move it around because of it’s heavy weight.
Here are simple set of rules that if you follow, will make your life easier in the long run. Picking up a location affects both fish and humans that are going to watch the fish from outside.
- Never keep your fish tank where direct sunlight falls on it’s surface. Sunlight also carries heat with it and this can alter water temperature if kept for a long time. Constant alterations in water temperatures can definitely stress out your fish and even kill them.
- Never keep your fish tank directly on ground level or floor level. People who are walking by, may accidently kick the fish tank and break it. If you have kids at home then they may drop toys and even food into the fish tank water causing big trouble. If you have other pets like cats and dogs then they may attack the fish for no apparent reason or even curiousity.
- Another very important reason for not keeping the fish tank on the floor level is vibrations caused by walking, running and people passing by. Fish are very sensitive to vibrations and even little of these can cause stress.
- If you home happens to be near a busy street with constant vehicular traffic then this can even cause trouble, so don’t keep it near windows and other openings.
- Avoid smoking in the room where you have placed your fish tank. The reason is, most fish tanks are equipped with an air pump that sucks room air and flows in the water to form bubbles. These bubbles will carry the smoke from the room as well, which is obviously deadly for the fish. If you can’t totally void smoking then at least make sure to suck in air from a place where there is no smoke around.
- It’s better if you place your fish tank at 4 feet level above the ground level or floor level. This will be a comfortable viewing distance and at the time of cleaning the tank you’ll be able to work out things properly.
- Pick up a firm stand or table for your fish tank. If you pick up a wooden table then check that it does not wobble after you fill it completely with water.
#3 – Not giving attention to essential fish tank accessories
I have seen this mistake happen many times with newcomers. Most people and newcomers pay attention to how beautiful their fish tank looks, but forget to provide the most essential equipment for keeping their fish tank healthy.
It’s good to have a beautifully decorated fish tank with colorful fish swimming around, but fish are living beings and they need care and patience to keep healthy and for this to happen, it’s absolutely necessary to understand what’s the most essential equipment you must have.
Surprisingly newcomers will spend money on making their tank look beautiful and buy the most expensive fish species that look awesome, but won’t spend money on what’s absolutely necessary for the sake of fish’s health.
Here is what you must have in a tropical fish tank:
- Aquarium heater – As tropical fish need warmer water (78F approx.), the heater solves this problem. Once you install the heater, you must never turn it off. The heater with a built-in thermostat is the best choice to start with. The thermostat will prevent overheating or freezing of water.
- Aquarium thermometer – Apart from the heater, the thermometer will help you to constantly monitor water temperature and changes in temperature as well. If for some reason the heater malfunctions, then the thermometer will always be there to notify you of current water temperatures. The most preferred one is the digital thermometer which has a probe dipped into tank water and the digital display hangs out on the fish tank wall giving you exact reading of the fish tank water temperature.
- Fish tank filter – Filers are necessary for obvious reasons. Fish eat food and produce solid waste in the tank itself. The filter helps to maintain an acceptable level of cleanliness in the fish tank.
Not having a fish tank filter is same as keeping your own son or daughter without a diaper. Would you accept that?
Treat you fish like your baby and your attitude will suddenly change towards this hobby. Just having the fish tank filter is not enough though. You must craft a schedule for cleaning the fish tank water every week once so that your fish gets the best habitat to remain healthy.
Here are some optional accessories for your fish tank. If you are tight on budget then you may not invest in these right now.
- Aquarium lighting – Whether you must have lighting or not is a debatable issue. If you put live plants in the aquarium then lighting becomes essential as the lights help growth of plants in the fish tank. Live plants in the fish tank also help to sustain the ecosystem by exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.
Additional tip: Avoid keeping lights on too much and always use a timer.
- Decorating ornaments – This includes gravel at the bottom of the fish tank, hideouts, ceramic pots, houses, bridges and any other ornaments that will add visual beauty. Though these make your fish tank an excellent visual attraction, you may skip these things if your budget is tight and introduce them later.
- Exotic fish species – There are some fish species that cost much more than the rest of the community. You’ll find some species costing like $100 per pair. You need not include these while starting out and go with the easily available ones.
#4 – Choosing the wrong stock
This point is very important and is ignored by many newcomers. Not every fish will live with any other fish species in a fish tank. It’s called fish compatibility and as a newcomer you must study or at least ask an expert fish keeper before you buy fish from the local fish store.
As a general rule, don’t buy fish which will fit in the mouth of another bigger fish in the tank. The bigger one is most likely to eat the smaller one. Also make sure to check how big they grow (in inches) when they become adults. Some fish grow rapidly in size and some slower. Paying attention to this future growth will pay off in the long run.
#5 – Not cleaning and maintaining the fish tank frequently
I agree everyone of us is lazy and put off the idea of cleaning or maintaining things. Whether it’s cleaning your furniture or car or anything else, most people want someone else to do it. But not with your fish tank
There are living beings in your fish tank that need attention.
Remember what I said above, treat your fish as your own son or daughter and see how your attitude changes drastically.
The truth is, cleaning a fish tank is a simple process and requires not more than 20 minutes of your time per week. Yes, once in week for 20 minutes is nothing as compared to what satisfaction you get just by viewing this beautiful fish tank of yours, which will make you happy for years to come.
So commit to yourself about following a tight schedule every week to keep your “son and daughter fish” happy and give them the life they deserve.
Just look at it this way, fish are supposed to live and swim freely in the wild but we put them in fish tanks. A fish tank is nothing as compared to the expanse they get in river beads and ocean depths. But they don’t complain, they keep on entertaining us for years.
It’s our duty to look after them as our babies and provide them the best habitat they can have, based on our expertise. So strive to give them your best with the right knowledge and dedication.
Over To You
If you’re still having trouble after going through the tips given above, let us know in the comments section below. The hobby is full with helpful people and we don’t bite.
If you have any other tips to share with newbies when setting up a tropical fish tank, feel free to share it below too!