Ive been wanting an aquarium for the last five years, but work, accommodation and time never quite fitted together. But decided a month ago that I really want to get into it and get some fish.
Started by using Bing and Google to find out all I could. Came across this forum as well as Aquarium Advice/Practical Fish Keeping and many more. YouTube was also very helpful at seeing what the aquariums look like, how big they are, maintaining them as well as the fish I can get.
I thought it only fair to share my journey and write here about my experience, the decisions I had to make, etc. which may help other newbies or anyone thinking of starting off.
Firstly two main things you need, patience and time! I took almost a month of reading posts, watching videos and I still was not sure of what to get, which fish and so on! Forums like these have been great but also remember everyone has their own opinion and views and you should take them all in but at the end the decision is yours. Window shopping at a couple of pet shops also helped.
So I decided on the Fluval Edge 46 Litre.
It was between the Dennerle Nano Cube 60 (60 litres), the Aqua Nano 40 (55 Litres but only about 45 to use as the other ten is used for the back section) and the Fluval.
Why the Fluval?
Dennerle not enough information on it, I could not see one live and was worried the filter and lamps etc were mainly for aquascaping (mainly plants) and shrimp. Maybe they will become more popular as they are very neat all curved glass and look lovely.
Aqua Nano almost got this as I liked the back sump like section Sump is like an extra container where you keep all your filters, etc It was sort of future proof as it can be used for marine tanks due to this extra area allowing for lots more media, heaters, etc so what made me choose the Fluval?
The location I was putting it and the look of it. It sits on a bench to the left of my sofa, and so I can actually see into the tank whilst sitting on my sofa. Love its floating glass feel with the base and back frame. It can also be converted to marine if wanted but at a higher cost. But for now I was happy with freshwater and more specifically tropical water.
BUT be careful as you have to totally be aware of and accept the small cavity where you have to do everything from. Think of an A5 card and that is pretty much how much space you have honestly it can be that small once filter, thermometer etc is in the tank!
So got the Fluval and here is my first experience: Buy from a shop, online, should I be loyal?
I went for local and loyal and bought it from my local fish shop (LFS
). Yes I could have saved by buying online or from another outlet but I think it helps build a relationship I hope it does!
Next substrate again I researched, read lots of articles but once I was at my LFS
realised I am limited by what they had in stock yes they could order things in but wanted to set it up that weekend so another tip if you can be patient order online if there is a particular type you want/need. It so happens the one my LFS
had is actually a pretty good substrate and am now really pleased with it. TMC aquaGro Nutra Soil.
Again fell into the trap of LFS
handing me one 3L bucket and not questioning it (read on later) but I actually needed about 5L of it.
Another tip: read the labels! 3L was for only upto 30L tanks
Anyhow, got home with my initial 3L, a few plants and rocks and started setting up
Got the substrate in , put the rocks in and the plants and used a bowl to try to stop the water moving the substarte around but it was a right mess gaps in the substrate and just not enough substrate for the large rock I wanted in the tank which kept toppling over and worried it would scratch I removed it
Persevered and filled the tank with only the small rock and the plants I bought as I thought I might as well test the tank, pump and filter and ensure there are no leaks.
I really wanted some drift wood but the ones they had and I really fell in love with this curved one was way too big for the opening in the Fluval. Remember the A5 piece of paper very useful! Also another tip here if you do start looking at fish/pet stores whilst still researching if you see some nice wood or rock snatch it up! As again I was limited to the pieces I could find at the weekend in order to set up the tank. Again I was fortunate to find the right pieces BUT was also ready to have a bare-ish tank if I did not find the right wood.
It does look a right mess but again be patient and by the next morning it was clearing up fine but that was when I knew I needed some more substrate for sure. So went to get more went to Charterhouse Aquatics where it said they had a 3L in stock but once I got there, they didnt and so they gave me the 5L for a discount much appreciated I know some dont like them but I am lucky to live in London and the personal touch and advise I have received from two of their staff has been much appreciated.
Used up just over half of it so I have a nice thick level of substrate now but it seems to work for me. The leftover substrate apparently can last and I will probably use it if I ever rescape or fall into the (seems likely) ATS (Another Tank Syndrome!)
I managed to find other smaller pieces of rock in different colours so decided to bin the idea of the big rock and went for three different coloured rocks and the drift wood I found
Also bought a couple more plants and some moss.
Another note: I do not know the names of the plants/moss or dont remember them but for now I am just going by what I think looks nice and what sort of look I want it the tank. I am sure I will get better at the names! And again you are limited by the stock in your local LFS
so keep that in mind. I was fortunate that I have four shops within 10 miles of each other and had the time (sitting in London traffic!) to go to all four and purchase bits and bobs from each. Again if you are sure to be getting into this start buying things when you see them!
So set up the tank, refilled it, conditioned the water again and did my tests.
did not have all the tests so only got the pH and Nitrite liquid tests from them and bought a paper test for Ammonia. The way I see it is that Ammonia is only a real problem at the start and once you have fish- all you need to know if you have any or not. Whilst the Nitrite and pH need to be more accurate. I will buy a more thorough test kit later in the stage but right now I am on the fish less cycle and happy with those tests.
So finally had my tank setup to a nice-ish aquascape and the heater added this time too. I have a Fluval Edge E50 series heater and two days later it still has not reached the green of 25 degrees! I will change the angle as some have suggested at my next water change next weekend but also another thing to note here: I added normal, cold tap water (added the Fluval Conditioner to it though!) not thinking that I could actually use a mix of hot and cold! I am not sure why I thought I could not but in hindsight it would have saved me worrying about my heater by adding in hot. I will do this from now on at each water change! So there is no drastic change in the tank.
All these things make me realise how useful and important a fish less cycle is for the complete newbie it helps you make mistakes without the stress of having fish and doing them harm through lack of knowledge, understanding and patience!
The second day, water clearing really nicely and so started to add the friendly bacteria Fluval provide a 30ml bottle of the Water Conditioner and 30ml Bottle of the Biological Enhancer to start of your cycles. Am currently following the instructions and the water has not really changed!
Ph 7 - Nitrite <0.3 - Ammonia 0.5 - Temp 24.5 degrees
This coming Sunday I will do my first official water change (not including the original one when I rescaped!)
I hope to give the plants a little prod here and there to ensure they are settled well. I might move some of the moss from the bottom drift wood and add more to the side of the curved driftwood. Will see how it goes!
Thanks for reading and thanks again for everyone who has written posts/articles/blogs/comments on here it has helped me thus far and hope it continues to do so
Ill finish with all the other stuff I bought!
- A big 40L soft/bendy bucket
- A small metal bucket
- Fluval plant tweezers
- Marina multi-tool
- Marina algae magnet
- Marina small gravel cleaner/syphon
- Fluval sponge filter to put on the tube in the tank (so shrimps do not get sucked in!)
- Marina outside thermometer not amazingly accurate but does the job as the Fluval heater has the actual temp on the heater.