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THE BASICS OF FISHKEEPING
The Aquarium, Tank Tops and Stands
By choosing the right kind of aquarium, equipment, plants, decorations
and optional accessories we lay the basis for the healthy conditions
in our fish tanks. It is up to us the hobbyist to set up the closed
environment in such a way that our fish can thrive.
This section will cover all the basics of setting up your aquarium
in order to reach your goal. The pages are all linked to form an easy
progression from area to area or you can skip right to where you want
to go by using the navigation map below
THE AQUARIUM AND COVER
- Types of tanks:
There are many types of fish tanks available today. They come
in all shapes and sizes ranging from the standard rectangle to round
with every geometric shape in between. The most common type construction
is the all glass type, whose joints are sealed with clear silicon
rubber, there are also available the new Euro style tanks where
the clear silicon is replaced with black. Acrylic tanks are also
becoming more commonplace.
- Tank size:
The basic time tested rule still stands, the bigger the better,
with the surface area more important than capacity.
Larger tanks are easier to care of. The toxic substances released
by the Biological or Nitrogen cycle are more dispersed
in the larger volume of water, which allows the water quality stay
higher for longer periods of time.
Beginner hobbyist with their lack of experience will benefit from
the larger tanks.
For the beginner I would recommend the standard and inexpensive
rectangular 55 gallon all glass aquarium with the approximate measurements
of 48 inches long by 12 inches wide and 20 inches tall. A tank this
size is easy to care for and yet not too large to be overwhelming.
A common misconception of small fish equals small tank is not always
true as the smaller fish tend to be more active and need more space
to swim in.
Every aquarium should have a cover or top. A cover reduces evaporation,
provides a solid surface to place the lights and prevents the fish
from jumping out. It also protects the tanks' lighting from water
splashing on them.
The most common tank cover is made up of glass with a hinge in the
center and a plastic filler strip which can be cut to fit the filter
and other accessories. They are usually called a "Glass Canopy".
Another very common top is the "Full Hood" which is a totally plastic
top matching the trim of the tank. I prefer the glass canopy because
it offers you more choice in the lighting and the clear plastic
of the full hood becomes foggy and warps with time.
The placement of the aquarium is one of the choices that must be taken
into consideration. Water is heavy weighing 8.3 pounds per gallon, so
whatever you plan to place the tank on must be able to support a lot
There are different types of stands available some made of wood and
some of wrought iron. Both are good with the wood being decorative as
well as functional. Iron is stronger, but tends to rust over time. The
choice is yours as there is sure to be one that fits your style and
wallet, just remember not to skimp as a full fish tank is very hard
to move if you have to replace its' stand.
You would think that where to put your new fish tank is just a matter
of where you want it. This could be true, but there are a couple of
things to consider before you set up. You don't want the tank in an
area that receives a lot of direct sunlight, you will be forever battling
algae and also the temperature swings could hurt your fish. The same
holds true if you place the tank on a north facing exterior wall, you
might want to turn up your heaters capacity as this tends to be the
cooler sides of homes. Make sure that wherever you place it it has a
nice level floor area, uneven tanks tend to develop stress cracks over
time. Just look around your intended area of placement with an open
eye for problems as its a lot easier to move an empty tank than a full
- Accidents with electricity
Various electrical devices such as filters, heaters, lights and
powerheads are necessary to create the right conditions for our
fish and plants. Everyone knows that water and electricity don't
mix. A few simple common sense practices to get use to while working
in or around your fish tank can save you money and maybe your life.
I will list a few precautions here that might be taken for granted
but you should be aware of.
- Use only devices that are made specifically for aquarium use.
- Make sure the device has the United Laboratory (UL) seal of
- Use a power strip with a built in circuit breaker or better
yet a ground fault device.
- Unplug ALL wires before you do anything in or around
- Inspect your equipment regularly, discard any questionable items.
- Have any electrical work performed by a licensed Electrician.
- Water damage and Insurance
The nightmare of many Hobbyist- that the aquarium will burst-rarely
ever happens, but you might want to be prepared just in case. Water
damage, which can also be caused by an overflowing tank, sump or just
a leak, usually cost a lot to repair. It might be a good Idea to include
your fish tank in your property damage section of your Homeowners
or renters insurance policy. You could contact your agent to find
out if this available to you.