Taking the Fear Out of Aquarium Shopping

Buying a tank can be overwhelming. Walk into almost any pet store and you will see dozens of styles and sizes all screaming out at you.

The first thing you need to decide when buying an aquarium is size. Fish tanks are measured by how many gallons they hold. Different kinds of fish require more or less space. So consider which kinds of fish you want to have when shopping for a tank. One and two gallon tanks are often advertised for beginners, but this is misleading. As a rule, smaller tanks are harder to keep than larger ones. I would recommend at least a five-gallon tank for a beginner, but a ten gallon would be best.

In most cases it is cheaper to buy an aquarium set. Most sets include everything you need to set up an aquarium, but if you decide to buy the pieces separately, here is a list of things you will need.

* A TankGlass is best.

* A Filter cleans and circulates the water through out the tank.

A Basic Filter


Those with carbon are best. Make sure the one you buy has replacement filter pads. Filters make noise, so, depending on what room you are planning to put your tank in, you might want to pay a little more for a quieter machine.

* Air Pump and Air StoneCirculates the water in the tank and surface area for

Air Pump and Air Stone

proper gas exchange. In order words, they help the fish breathe. Pumps can also be noisy, so if you plan on putting it in your bedroom,

Decoration with Air Stone (Top Fin Balinese Dragon with Airstone $11.99 - $24.99 at Petsmart.com)


look at one that is advertised to be quiet. Air stones are placed in the aquarium to emit a stream of bubbles. There are many different kinds of air stones, so think about the size of your aquarium and how you want the tank to look before buying one. Some tank decorations have air stones build into them, for people who don’t want an exposed air stone to mess up their décor.

* Tank Hood and LightYou will need a lid for your tank. Most

Aquarium Hood and Light


are sold with lights already in them. You will need to find one than fits the size and model of your tank. Also, look to make sure you know where replacement light bulbs are sold.

* ThermometerYou will need to maintain a certain temperature for your fish. A thermometer is a MUST. They are relatively cheap and can be found at your pet store. They are many different kinds, shape and sizes. As long as it works, it doesn’t really matter what kind you get.

* HeaterIf you keep your house relatively warm, you may not need a heater. However, in the winter months, they are a good idea.

* Gravel, Plants and DécorYou will need a layer of aquarium

Penn Plax Enchanted Castle Aquarium Ornament ($11.99 at Petco.com)

gravel at the bottom of your tank, but the color and kind is completely up to you. Keep in mind the “theme” or style you are trying to have in your tank. It’s like decorating a room, really. The same holds true for any plants are decorations you put in your tank. There are tons of ways to decorate a tank. Try sticking to a

PETCO Amazon Sword Green Plastic Aquarium Plant ($2.79 - $9.59 at Petco.com)

theme, though, such as a roman coliseum, or a pirate trove. They even sell Sponge Bob decorations! Have fun, but remember not to over crowd the aquarium. Your fish will need room to swim.

Other stuff you will need

Water is the biggest part of owning fish. Its temperature, PH levels ect… When you first set up your aquarium, you need to wait at least 24 hours before adding your fish. This gives time for the chemicals to balance out, and for the filter and air stone to cycle the water. Here are the basic supplements you will need to start your tank.

* Water ConditionerYou cannot just take water straight from the sink and put your fish in. First you will need to remove harmful chlorines and chemicals from the water. A water conditioner will do this for you. I use Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Stress Coat Aquarium Water Conditioner. Simply follow the instructions on the back of the bottle. You will need to use this every time you add new water to your tank.

*BacteriaNo, I’m not kidding. A health tank is full of bacteria. Just use Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Stress Zyme, or something like it.

* Aquarium Salt Yes, with freshwater fish, you still need some salt. Look for aquarium salt for fresh water fish. No one really seems to know why freshwater fish do so well with salt in their tank, they just do. It improves gill health, strengthens their immune system and improves their color. I use Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Aquarium Salt.

There are many other products, gizmos and gadgets on the market, but these are the basics. Be sure to clean and rinse everything before placing it into your tank. Your gravel will need to be put into a colander and rinsed to remove any dust and dirt. Your next step is to go pick out your fish! Remember, if you have any questions, just send me an email (thegirlwithfish@gmail.com).

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