Happy Fish Tank = Happy Owner: 4 Steps To Success

Home & Garden Blog

Setting up your first fish tank is a fun task that the whole family can be a part of. But you can make your life much easier by doing some layout planning and a little bit of research before beginning. Jumping in without planning may result in harder maintenance work, unhappy or incompatible fish or wasting of money. Here are four steps to get your first tank successfully on its way.

Research the Fish

Simply buying fish that look good or are on sale is a recipe for a disastrous tank experience. Before you hit the fish store, do some research to determine what type of fish will work together, which ones will fit comfortably in your size tank and how many of each species you should buy. Easy-going, social fish like platies, swordtails, flying fox, Talbot's damselfish and dwarf cichlids are a good choice for a first aquarium. You can find information on each species' space needs, ratio of males to females, food requirements and water preferences in books and online. Your tropical fish store owner may also be a good reference to help you decide among the fish available in your local area. 

Avoid fish that grow too large for your space (like the Pacific blue tang) or are prone to health issues. And to be a responsible aquarium owner, you may want to refrain from buying fish that are endangered (including the popular Benngai cardinalfish) or are caught with questionable practices. 

Plan Your Interior

 A lot of new tank owners give little thought to what should be inside the aquarium and how to arrange it all. And while you should have fun with this part -- probably buying a few aquarium doodads that your kids love -- be sure to include things that will make your fish happy. Use your research to know if you need to buy rocks or caves where some fish need to hide or if you need less obstacles for fish who need more space to swim, such as zebra danios. 

When placing your plants and accessories, pay attention to how well you can access the tank around them. You will need to be able to reach around everything easily in order to clean the gravel, scrape algae from the glass and change filtration materials. 

Keep It Simple

Don't get too ambitious about your first fish purchase -- either by buying too many fish, too many different species or fish that are too difficult to care for -- until you've learned more about aquarium-keeping. Even though lionfish, for example, look spectacular, they have a nasty sting that may cause you or your kids serious problems. Other fish, like butterflyfish, have strange eating habits that may make them harder to properly care for. Stick with simple -- even if less exotic or exciting -- fish for a while. 

Set Up a Schedule

Once you get your tank in place, set up a maintenance schedule to keep it in good condition and avoid expensive breakdowns. This basic, simple schedule should include the following:

  • Inspect the tank for problems every day. Watch the fish for signs of behavioral changes. 
  • Every two weeks, test the water and change about 10% of it. Clean the gravel and the walls. Check the filter to see if it needs changed.
  • Monthly, replace the filter cartridge. Inspect the tubing to look for damage. 

Make aquarium maintenance a family activity, teaching your kids the value of regular maintenance and how to care for things themselves. If you're looking for a fish store, visit Neptune's Tropical Fish.

Doing a little legwork before starting your aquarium will save you a lot of trouble and money later on. Researching fish before purchasing, setting up an easy interior and performing regular maintenance will ensure that you and your family enjoy your fish tank for many years to come. 


14 January 2016