|Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. - Roger Caras
Setting Up a Fish Tank
Fish As Pets
Starting a pet fish aquarium is a rather long, involved process.
This information on pet fish tank setup can be invaluable to have before you get started.
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Fish Tank Placement
Placement requires forethought with a fish tank. Water weighs in at about 8.5 pounds per gallon, making a seemingly small 30 gallon tank a cool 250 pounds. You probably can get away with that in most apartments if you can place the aquarium near a load bearing wall, but your mileage may vary. For tanks larger than that you'll probably want to consult with an expert. For comparison, consider that most homes are setup to handle aquariums up to about 75 gallons without needing additional support.
Now that you've found the load bearing wall, see if you can determine where you can put the tank so it isn't too close to a window or a heater. Sunlight will encourage algae and heat up the tank, while a heater is likely to cause fluctuations in the water temperature that can have dire consequences for your pets.
Finally, you'll need to be sure you have electricity readily available. Usually not a tall order in today's high tech world.
Fish Tank Stands
It is not wise to skimp on the fish tank stand... More than one fish owner can tell you that the troubles you will face when that particle board contraption fails under the weight of your aquarium fish tank (see above if you have already forgotten) drops 30 gallons of water with your beautiful, beloved fish right onto your living room carpet isn't worth the $50 you thought you saved.
Trust us on this.
Water Processing Options
The other place to be SURE you don't skimp is with the fish tank water filter and pump. Simply stated, those noisy cheap "box type" filters will find their way out to your curb faster than you would ever expect. The exception to this rule is if you happen to find one sitting on someone else's curb and the price is right (free), then give it a go. You have nothing to lose.
The under-gravel filters are troublesome, too, as they require lots of maintenance and tend to muck up the water periodically.
Fish Tank Heaters
Invest in a good submersible, well-sealed heater. If you keep your home at an even, 70 Degrees Fahrenheit, than you can get away with about 5 watts per gallon. Otherwise, a larger heater will be better.
Be sure to put the temperature sensor as far as possible from the heater so you are really measuring the tank temperature and not the heater's ability to make warm water.
Fish Tank Lamps
The type of lighting required depends on whether or not you want to grow live plants in your tank. If you stick with those plastic plants, a single, normal fluorescent strip light will be fine. Otherwise, you will need to invest in a system that provides even more light.
Remember if you do choose to go with live plants, double check that all of your fish are compatible with plants. For example, many species of barbs eat aquatic vegetation.
Fish Aquarium Decorations
Here's where the real fun begins. Even before you have your first fish, you can design your own perfect little underwater world.
The number of choices these days is astounding. Take a walk through your local fish store and you'll see what we mean. It is better to stay away from from glass and marble gravel as glass can be harsh on the bottom feeders and marble can lead to a faster reduction in water quality.
Normally you will want about 2 - 3 inches of gravel, which usually works out to about 3 pounds of gravel for every 10 gallons.
Once the gravel is in place, add all the rocks, toys and other decorations, being sure they are each securely held in place. Consider providing some places for the fish to hide when they want to.
Filling with Water
Fill the tank half way with water and dechlorinate it. Water can be conditioned by either adding slimy water conditioner or more simply letting it sit with the aerator running over night.
Now add any the plants and fill the water to the top. Then setup the lights, thermometer, heater and filter and let the system run for at least 24 hours.
Finally, Adding the Fish
Although it is tempting to add lots of fish right off the bat, it is not a good idea. Start with just one medium or two small fish per 10 gallons and wait 3 or 4 weeks while continuously monitoring the water quality. This time allows the biological process to start up without raising the ammonia/nitrate to lethal levels.
You're done... Congratulations!
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