Helpful hints and frustration savers for those new to the hobby – things to look into, avoid, and what to look for when starting up a new tank – although aimed more at saltwater , a lot applies freshwater as well.
Most important rule of anything (especially pet ownership) : Research!!
Research what will work best for you and your budget. Bigger is better to a certain degree because there’s less fluctuation in water parameters. a 55 gallon will be better than an 8 gallon biocube to start out with because of salinity fluctuations and the fact that a small amt. of something can throw it out of wack. A bigger tank 75 gallon + is also good of course! Of course you can start with a small tank, but be prepared in knowing it will be a bit harder .
Quarantine tanks are something every tank owner needs to have! Even if it is a simple 10 gallon set up. Please please QT any new fish! From my experience personally, I can show the value of a QT. My very first two fish (two clowns) I put directly into my 55 gallon when I started the tank – two days later they both developed Ich. One died, the other survived.. but I had to go through the agony of catching the remaining fish, putting it in the QT after the fact, treating it and leaving my main tank fishless for 8 weeks.. a big pain! On the subject, please don’t ever use any medications in your main tank, especially copper ( you can never have inverts) and be careful with antibiotics.. they can destroy your good bacteria, cause an ammonia spike and kill fish (unfortunately, I did this, too..) please research any treatments and follow directions!!!
Use Ro/DI water if you can. It will save a lot of frustration with nuisance algae! The ‘stuff’ in your tap water will accumulate after a while and cause ph swings, algae outbreaks and general stress on your fish.
Researching fish can save lives, money and frustration. a beautiful little tang does not belong in a biocube or 10 gallon. A lion fish will eat clownfish, certain inverts will eat your coral. Knowing what lives well with what and how big of a tank they need will really save a lot in the long run. Don’t do impulse buys – go home and research first. Please be aware you can only fit so many fish in a tank as well. Too many fish = fish deaths through fighting or too big of a bioload with ammonia spikes etc.
For freshwater – don’t be fooled by what is common. An example: betas do horrible in little bowls, as do goldfish – please don’t do it because its cute, look into the proper care of any creature before you purchase – no impulses!
Know how to run a tank before you even set it up. Know there are water changes involved, weekly testing, topping off (with fresh water!!) supplements etc. There are many things that you can choose to add / not add. Find out what type of filtration works better for you.
Cycle your tank without any fish. You need to get a nitrogen cycle up and running properly before adding any. Cycling with fish is considered cruel and can cost you a lot of fishie lives. It may take a few weeks, but your tank and fish will be a lot happier in the long run. There’s many good links on the subject.
Check your equipment often. A small leak can cause a lot of major problems very quickly as well as a electric ‘leak’ by equipment in the tank.
Do some research on a good LFS. Be wary of LFS – they can and often do provide good advice, but be sure to do your own research before buying anything. After all they’re there to sell things. It could save you a lot of money. Also, see if a LFS can hold a fish for you. I’ve seen some very pretty expensive fish look wonderful one day, and be deathly sick the next. A lot of stress comes from shipping, acclimating etc.
If you’re unsure about anything.. ask!! Its better to get some advice before ( pardon the pun) ‘diving’ into anything head first. There are many times I wish I would have asked about something before I did it.
Lastly – don’t do anything if you’re unprepared to follow through with it’and do it as you’re intended to. If you’re unwilling to do water changes 2 x weekly for 10+ years ( as long as some fish live.. even longer) don’t bother with a tank. But, same goes for things with a tank as well.. I’ve seen good reviews about vodka dosing, dosing supplements, using certain equipment etc. These things will only work well if you follow directions and keep up with it. A lapse can cause death in your livestock.. whether it be over dosing something, or neglecting to clean a filter etc.
I hope my experiences will help save you some frustration.. good luck!Filed under Articles, Articles, Freshwater, Saltwater.