Buying your first aquarium is an exciting time. However, if you’re completely new to keeping fish, or you’re buying a fish tank or aquarium for a child with no experience, there are some things you should keep in mind.

This beginners guide has our top ten aquarium tips for beginners to make sure you get started on the right foot.

Buy The Largest Aquarium You Can Afford

A small aquarium can be cheaper, but it is much harder to get a good balance on your aquarium water. Tank size impacts every other part of your fish keeping journey. As the tank you choose will determine the kind of fish you can keep and how many, how much maintenance you will need, how much water you will need and how often you will need to cycle the water.

Things can go wrong very quickly in a small tank. If you happen to feed a little too much, it can have major consequences in a smaller aquarium of 54 liters, while an aquarium of 250 liters has a better “margin of error”.

Choose The Right Fish For Your Aquarium

Remember that fish keeping is not as easy as it seems. Different kinds of fish have very specific biological needs from having the proper food to the type of water and specific temperature they need to survive. With some breeds, you may need the addition of a heater, where some will need tank cycling more regularly.

Make sure if you are looking to keep fish as a hobby and have less experience, to chat with the experts in the fish store when choosing to be sure the fish thrive and work together and will not grow out of your aquarium.

Before Buying a New Fish, Check All The Fish In The Tank at The Pet Store

It is always advised to choose a reputable pet or fish store whenever buying a new fish. But it is still important to check the overall health of all the fish in the tank. Any illness could be spread throughout the tank and you want to ensure that your new fish will be happy and healthy and live a long life.

If any of them show signs of illness, you should forgo the purchase. Signs that the fish are not feeling well can include:

  • Narrow fish with a sunken abdomen
  • Broken fins
  • Spots or dots
  • Fish “gasps” for breath or gasps with the gills etc.

Carefully Accustom The Aquarium Fish To Its New Home

It has been suggested for yeats that you should let the bag with the aquarium fish float around in the aquarium for 15-30 minutes so that the water temperature stabilizes between the water in the bag and the aquarium water. 

It is also recommended to slowly pour aquarium water into the bag to even out any differences in water chemistry (Ph, Kh, Gh, etc.), and then pour the whole bag with all the contents into the aquarium.

Personally, I have never understood the logic of this! Imagine that you come with new aquarium fish, which are reasonably stressed after being caught in the store and transported home in a small bag. What happens when you put them with the bag down in the aquarium?

They have nowhere to go, nowhere to hide and all the other fish eagerly inspect the bag. 

Of course, this is hugely stressful for the fish. In addition, there is no reason to pour “dirty” water from the bag into a functioning aquarium and risk knocking out the existing beneficial bacteria.

Instead, take a large scoop of aquarium water and pour it into a bucket. Then pour the bag of fish and water into the bucket carefully. Wait 10-15 minutes and then add another scoop of water. Wait another 10-15 minutes and gently rake the fish out of the bucket.

As the fish get accustomed to the water change, you can move some furnishings into the aquarium such as gravel, artificial plants. Adding some new aquatic decorations like live plants before you add fish to the tank, will remove existing territories and help reduce stress as they get used to their new world.

Feel Free to Plant Plenty of Aquarium Plants

Both freshwater fish and tropical fish love real plants in your tank. Live plants will help you get a better balance in your water values.

Cleaning Your Aquarium

Firstly, your aquarium needs a filter in order to keep your tank clean. Tanks get dirty quickly due to food and fish waste which has harmful pollutants that can damage your fish.

Change Water OFTEN 

Create a routine for your water changes and stick to it without cheating. The amount of water you need to change and how often depends on many factors, such as how many fish you have and their species, the filtration system you use, the size of the aquarium, how much you feed (and with what). 

We recommend changing the water every week. Then you can change about 25% of the water.

However, the aquarium’s filter materials, such as sponge filters, ceramic rings, bio balls, etc. need to be cleaned regularly. Your filter is best cleaned in a bucket of tank water from your aquarium. Using tap water to clean these filters will kill most of the beneficial filter bacteria. 

Never use soap or other chemicals to clean aquariums or accessories! 

You can advantageously add liquid bacteria such as Sera Bio Nitrivec Bacterial Culture to help the aquarium filter get a good balance quickly. This is also good to use between water changes.

Avoid Overfeeding Your Aquarium Fish 

Firstly, consider the food you give your fish and ensure it is optimal for their species. Pet stores will usually give you some advice on this when you choose your tank and fish. They tend to give you everything you need to get started and will offer the right food depending on whether you’ve chosen freshwater or tropical fish or even a goldfish.

The fish food should be eaten within about 2 minutes of feeding your fish. After that, there should be no fish food left on the bottom, or floating around in the water, because then you have fed your fish too much! Under normal circumstances, you should feed your fish once or twice a day.

Increase The Number Of Fish At A Leisurely Pace

This is a mistake often made by those new to fish keeping. If too many fish are added within a short period of time, the beneficial bacteria in the aquarium will not be able to break down all waste and slag products.


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