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Aquariums in your home can bring you hours of relaxing pleasure. Watching the tiny fish as they gracefully swim about interacting with each other is so fascinating that anyone entering the room will be drawn into this pleasurable hobby. If you have an aquarium or plan to purchase one in the near future there are a few important facts you need to know to provide a healthy environment for your pets. It is very important that fully understand how to choose, set up, maintain and stock a freshwater aquarium. In addition you will need to know about feeding the fish and treating ill fish.
To begin you should start with only a few fish. Many beginners find that goldfish are ideal when starting an aquarium. Some of the most popular freshwater species include guppies, swordtails and Siamese fighting fish. Be sure when purchasing your fish that you select fish that appear lively, well fed, free of fungus and other growths. When choosing the tank for your fish, a rectangular glass tank is the best container. Many people attempt using a traditional fishbowl which has a narrow neck that does not allow enough contact between the water and the air. You will need to make sure that each fish has 50 square inches of water surface. It is also important that the tank hold at least one gallon of water for each inch of fish. For instance, if you have two fish, each about 2 inches long, you need a four gallon tank with an opening of 100 square inches. You will to purchase a stand for the aquarium or, if you plan to use a table make sure that the aquarium is on a perfectly level surface.
After you have chosen your tank, make sure it is equipped with a glass or clear plastic cover to keep dirt out of the water, minimize evaporation, and help maintain an even water temperature. Much like with plants, any sudden temperature changes can be fatal to fish. An exception is the goldfish which tends to thrive in cool water. But with most tropical fish a water temperature between 68 degrees fahrenheit and 80 degrees fahrenheit must be maintained to keep them alive. Because of this, the purchase of a thermometer and water heater for tropical fish is always a wise move. Plants are a very important part of an aquarium. They remove potentially dangerous nitrates from the water, absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen during the day. But to ensure proper oxygenation of the water at all times you should install an air pump with a filter since at night plants can use up dissolved oxygen.
A few days before you buy the fish, you will need to wash the tank with clear water. Once this is done you can cover the bottom with 1 1\2 to 3 inches of well rinsed aquarium sand or gravel. Be sure that you slope the sand or gravel to form a slight hollow in the middle since this will catch dirt making cleaning your aquarium easier. Next you should soak the plants for 15 to 20 minutes in a solution of 3 tablespoons of salt per gallon of water to get rid of parasites. After they have soaked you will need to rinse the plants in clear water and bury the root areas in the sand or gravel. If you plan to use decorative items such as a few rocks or ceramic pieces, they should be added to the tank at this time. Using a slow running tap, fill the tank with water being careful not to uproot the plants. Place the aquarium on the stand or table you have chosen and allow it to stand uncovered at least 24 hours. You will want to completely prepare your tank prior to purchasing the fish since they should never be left in the plastic bag they will come home in for more than 45 minutes. After you have picked up your fish, they should be added to the tank by first floating them in their plastic carrying bag for 5 to 10 minutes or until the two water temperatures are the same.
The placement of your aquarium is also a very important matter. Tanks should always be placed where it will receive diffused light. It is wise to keep it in a diffused light area since direct sunlight may cause over heating and overgrowth of algae. If for any reason you find that you cannot get proper natural light for your aquarium, you can install a florescent light on the top of the tank. Most pet supply stores carry special lighting fixtures to fit any size tank. When you clean the tank you should scrape all the algae from the sides with a long handled glass scraper. You will then need to remove sediment, decaying plants, and uneaten food with a dup tube. Both of these tools can be purchased when you buy your aquarium and fish. You should occasionally trim the plants and siphon off some water from the bottom. Since this will lower the water level of your aquarium, you can replace it with water that has been allowed to sit for 24 hours.
Your fish should be fed twice a day with commercial fish food. If you discover that your schedule will not allow you to feed these pets twice a day then they should be fed each morning. When feeding fish, make sure you only give them as much as they can consume in 10 minutes since uneaten food pollutes the water. From time to time it is good to offer the fish a fresh or frozen food, such as daphnia which is a water flea or tubifex worms or bits of cooked liver, canned salmon, shrimp or hard cooked egg yolk. If for any reason you find you are out of fish food, you can use ground up dry cat food or baby cereal flakes to feed your fish. If you are planning on leaving town for a day or two don't worry about your fish if they have been properly fed prior to your leaving. It is safe for fish to go unfed for such a short period of time.
Even if you provide the best of care there are times when one or more of your fish may show signs of illness. If you observe that one or more fish are gasping at the surface, this means there could be insufficient oxygen due to over crowding, heat or dirt. The first thing you will need to do is improve the tank conditions. Then you should move any fish that appear to be ill to a separate tank for observation. If your fish have trailing feces this is an indication of constipation. In this case you should give the fish greens or other fresh foods in minute amounts. One of the most common illness in fish is fungus. Appearing as a white slimy coating, it will eventually infest a fish. When you think one or more of you fish are infested with fungus you should place the fish into a tank containing 3 teaspoons of salt per gallon of water. If the fish does not improve in 3 or 4 days dispose of it.