Starting Your First Aquarium? Don’t Make These Mistakes…

Starting an aquarium isn’t as easy as throwing some rocks, a few cute sculptures, and a few or too many random fish into a tank and walking away from it. It takes a little planning, patience and dedication to create a happy little underwater world.

  1. Starting too small. While it does make sense to start smaller with a new hobby, you need to start with at minimum, a 25 gallon tank. Smaller tanks are more difficult to manage and are at a higher risk of quickly becoming unhealthy and killing your fish and plants. A larger tank will be more forgiving in regards to changes in ammonia, pH, nitrites and these levels will fluctuate.
  2. Not being patient. You’ve put the tank together, added the water and you’re ready to add fish. You need to wait. You may lose some or all of your fish if the water hasn’t stabilized yet. You need to treat the water to neutralize any harmful minerals and let it sit for a day or two before you introduce your new fish.
  3. Adding too many fish. The water in your tank has stabilized and you’re ready to add fish. Before you go to the local pet shop and purchase every pretty and neat looking fish, do your research on the different species or talk to the associates at the store. Some species cannot cohabitate with certain other species, some are solitary, some need buddies and some will help keep your tank clean. Listen to their advice about introducing these fish and you shouldn’t have any problems.
  4. Overstocking your tank. Everyone has a different opinion on how many inches of fish is recommended to keep in a tank so take the advice of your local pet shop. Keep in mind it is always better to stay under that maximum rather than go over, so put that bigger fish back and find a smaller one if you need to. It’s also a good idea to only add a few fish at a time over the course of few weeks.
  5. Overfeeding your fish. Start with one daily feeding and see how your tank does. Don’t worry; you won’t be starving the fish. Now that you have fish in the tank and they are eating and pooping, your water levels are going to change and excess waste is going to make it more difficult for the water to stabilize again.
  6. Not testing the water regularly. This is especially important to do in the beginning so you don’t lose all that hard work you put into the tank, not to mention the patience you had with slowly introducing your fish. Start with checking hardness, pH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates daily.
  7. Infrequent water changes. It is very important to regularly change part of the water to keep a happy aquarium. Ask your local pet shop for the proper tools and instructions for water changes. Make sure to keep a regular maintenance schedule.
  8. Improper filtration system. When you purchase the tank, be sure to purchase a filter that should turn the water over four to five times per hour. A filter that is slightly larger than what you need is better than one that is slightly too small. The goal is to have a low maintenance aquarium.

Follow these simple guidelines, take the advice of your local pet shop and most importantly exercise patience through the whole process and you should have a fun new hobby to enjoy.

– Brenda