SELECTING YOUR FIRST AQUARIUM

by Francis Yupangco

 
A well-situated aquarium on a sturdy cabinet
LED lights are energy efficient and long lasting
A typical all-in-one aquarium starter kit
Clip-On filters are most commonly used on tanks 50 gallons or less
Canister filters are often hidden inside an aquarium cabinet
The wide variety of aquariums available at your local pet store can seem overwhelming, however, choosing your first aquarium is much easier than you might think. The best thing to do before buying your first tank involves a bit of research, including the specific care requirements of the fish you are interested in keeping.

Location

Like in real estate, location is key. Placing your aquarium in an infrequently visited area in your house, such as a back room or corner of the basement, is not recommended since you may miss spotting an equipment malfunction or a sick fish in time. As such, it’s a good idea to place your new aquarium in a high enough traffic area. After all, aquariums are beautiful and relaxing, so you should enjoy the view as much as possible. 

More importantly, you should place your aquarium where it is easily accessible for regular and convenient maintenance. Keep in mind that, once full, an aquarium will weigh at least 10 pounds per gallon – this means even a 5 gallon Fluval Spec will weigh a hefty 50 pounds! Choose the position of your aquarium wisely the first time in order to avoid a potentially exhausting move later on.

Other Aquarium Placement Considerations:

  • Provide adequate space around the aquarium for easy access during cleaning and maintenance. Don’t block equipment or areas you need to access frequently, such as the back of the aquarium (for filtration) and the top of the aquarium )for feeding, water changes and lighting).

  • Electric outlets need to be close enough so that you can plug in aquarium equipment without having to use extension cords. The extra cords are not only a tripping hazard, but a tangled mess of these also pose a serious electrical hazard.

  • If possible, place your aquarium close to a tap or sink to make water changes and other aquarium maintenance easier.

  • Heating and air conditioning vents, windows and doors can drastically alter the ambient temperature around the aquarium. Maintaining stable water temperature is critical for good fish health, so be sure to place the aquarium away from these sources of temperature fluctuations.

  • Keep your aquarium out of direct sunlight. Aside from causing temperature increases, direct sunlight may cause excessive algae growth.

  • Place the aquarium on a sturdy and level surface. As mentioned, your aquarium will weigh at least 10 pounds per gallon, so a sturdy floor is crucial. If you have any doubt, consult a professional to make sure your floor can support the weight of the aquarium. Additionally, be sure to place the aquarium on a flat and level surface. This will ensure that the water in the aquarium is also level and will help prevent undue stress on the tank.

Size

Generally, the larger the aquarium is, the better it is for your fish. First, you’ll have more space for a wider variety of fish, plants and décor but, more importantly, a larger water volume will help keep water parameters, such as temperature, more stable and also dilute toxic nitrogenous waste (ammonia and nitrite) that can build up over time.  

Again, do some research on some of the key fish species you would like to keep in your new aquarium. Learn how large they can grow and if they are compatible with one another. Remember, a cute 3” goldfish won’t stay 3” for long.

Glass Tanks

Most home aquariums are made of glass, which is generally durable and scratch resistant. When selecting which glass tank to buy, inspect the tank carefully for any glass or frame damage. Do not fill a tank that has even the smallest crack. Exchange it for another unit immediately. Check the silicone seams and ensure they are clean and even with no visible gaps or tears.

All good aquarium manufactures provide a comprehensive leakage warranty on their glass tanks, however an aquarium warranty won’t cover things like dropping the tank while carrying it up or down a flight of stairs.

Filtration

Selecting the type of filter you’ll use on your new aquarium is often considered the most confusing part of buying a new tank, but it shouldn’t be since you really have only 3 main choices….Clip-On, Canister or Internal.

  • Clip-On-Filters, like the AquaClear and Fluval C-Series, are the most popular in aquariums up to 50-60 gallons. They easily attach on the back of the aquarium, and draw water from the tank and up into a series of mechanical, biological and chemical filter media. They are simple to maintain, relatively low in cost to maintain, and are extremely reliable.

  • Canister Filters are often used in aquariums over 60 gallons, or in aquariums that have a high fish load. The canister units are generally placed in a cabinet under the aquarium, out of sight. Fluval Canister Filters have been around for decades and come in a range of sizes with a multitude of media options for a wide range of applications.

  • Internal Underwater filters are, as the name suggests, submerged in the aquarium. They can be used as a primary filter in smaller aquariums, or as a supplementary filter for aquariums over 50-60 gallons. Their unique design allows them to be placed at the bottom of the aquarium, making them especially ideal for tanks with low water levels.

Lighting

When selecting your aquarium lighting, the two main options are LED and Fluorescent, however, LED lighting is the most commonly purchased lighting type for most modern aquariums due to their low electrical consumption, long life and pleasing shimmering effect. LED lights come in a range of styles and should be selected based on the type of aquarium you plan on keeping. A conventional freshwater aquarium with a few mid-to-low light requiring live plants can utilize mid-powered LED’s. If you want to keep a wider range of plants or want robust growth, then a higher power Performance LED unit is required.

Aquarium Kits

Purchasing a complete aquarium kit like the Fluval Accent takes any of the potential guess work out of the process. Generally, all you have to do is select the size and color of the tank and cabinet. Most kits include all of the necessary accessories that are needed for success. All that is missing is the water, décor and fish.

With a little research, buying and setting up your first aquarium is really simple and fun. For more information on setting up an aquarium, visit http://www.fishchannel.com/setups/freshwater/topiclist.aspx

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