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Entering the world of fish keeping isn’t complicated. Some tanks are kits that have been specifically put together with beginners in mind, and they’re meant to become enclosed ecosystems for tropical fish (make sure you ask, because not all starter kits are created with everything that’s needed). The aquarist hobby is an excellent introduction to biochemistry, marine biology, and ecology. Plus, it boils down to giving pets the tender loving care they deserve. Whether you go with an aquarium starter kit or decide to take it slow and complete a nitrogen cycle on your own, here are some tips to guide you along the way.
Choose Between a Freshwater or Saltwater Aquarium
In warm climate regions such as Southern California, you shouldn’t have problems keeping tropical fish of either the freshwater or saltwater variety. There’s no question that freshwater species are hardier and more resilient, but this isn’t the only thing that makes a freshwater aquarium more ideal for beginners. Their overall costs and level of maintenance, which are lower than their saltwater counterparts, also make them more appealing to newcomers. If the higher costs of a reef tank are within your budget, and if you’re willing to spend a couple of hours a week in terms of care and maintenance, you shouldn’t have problems setting one up from scratch.
Learn About the Nitrogen Cycle Before Getting Started
Even if your entry to fish keeping is facilitated by an aquarium starter kit, you should take the time to learn about the nitrogen cycle. This will be your introduction to water biochemistry. Cycling a tank means allowing the colonization of Nitrobacter and other beneficial microorganisms that will keep ammonia, which is a toxic compound produced by fish waste, at levels conducive to marine life. Once you fully understand the nitrogen cycle, you’ll be able to make the right choices in terms of cleaning, feeding, water chemistry, and species selection.
Make Plants Your Favorite Decorations
You can never go wrong with freshwater planted aquariums. If you take time to learn about the nitrogen cycle, you’ll understand how crucial plants can be in terms of providing chemical oxygenation and controlling algae growth. The best looking aquariums are always the ones with a nice selection of plants.
Keep the Bioload as Low as Possible
When you ask the aquarium shop staff about the maximum amount of fish for your tank, always strive to stay well below it. Overstocking a tank with too many fish may result in an unmanageable bioload, which is the sum of all fish waste turning into ammonia. More plants than fish is a good practice to keep the bioload under control.
Get a Large Tank
Aquariums that hold less than 10 gallons are known as “nanotanks,” and they tend to be kept by seasoned fish keepers who know what they’re getting into: frequent water changes and careful maintenance. A 20-gallon tank is a better choice and isn’t going to cost too much. In fact, their popularity as starter tanks tend to make them more affordable. At home, make sure you have a solid and sturdy surface that can support about 250 lbs., which is the average weight of a 20-gallon aquarium.
Beginners may not know all of the important fish tank supplies to buy to properly maintain their aquariums. At Aquatic Warehouse, we’ll make sure you’ve got everything you need to get your aquarium off to a great start and continue to maintain it. We’re located in Kearny Mesa, or you can order what you need from our website and have it shipped directly to you. Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions at 858-467-9297.