Setting up an aquarium: Tips for beginners - Triops Galaxy

Setting up an aquarium: How to get started with aquaristics

How should I set up my aquarium? This is a question that probably every beginner in aquaristics deals with. The design of the aquarium offers a lot of room for your own creativity. Decorating the aquarium with plants and stones makes it a unique place and provides relaxation. You can let your imagination run wild and create a little paradise that will give you strength and peace. To set up your own aquarium, you need to plan carefully in advance. First of all, you need to know which fish species will live in your aquarium, which aquarium model is best suited to your needs and where it should be placed. You should clarify all these points in advance in order to create a harmonious and successful aquarium. It is important that you inform yourself sufficiently about the needs of the fish species you have chosen. Each species has specific requirements for water quality, temperature and social behaviour. Make sure that the selected species are compatible with each other to avoid unnecessary stress and aggression in the aquarium. In this blog post I explain how to set up the aquarium.

Setting up an aquarium: Important preliminary considerations

Before you can set up your own aquarium, there are some important things to consider to create a healthy and harmonious environment for your fish. Here are some points to consider when setting up an aquarium:

  1. Aquarium size: The size of the aquarium is crucial as it affects the number and type of fish you can keep. A larger aquarium provides more stability in the water and a larger habitat for the fish. It is advisable to choose the largest aquarium that fits your space and budget.
  2. Choice of location: The location of the aquarium is of great importance. Choose a stable and level surface that can support the weight of the filled aquarium. Make sure that the aquarium is not exposed to direct sunlight to prevent excessive algae growth and minimise temperature fluctuations.
  3. Technical equipment: The basic technical equipment such as filter, heating and lighting is essential for the well-being of the fish and for keeping the aquarium healthy. Invest in high-quality technology that meets the needs of the fish species and the size of the aquarium.
  4. Water quality: Water quality is a critical factor. Find out about the water parameters that are suitable for your chosen fish and test the pH, hardness and other relevant values regularly. Make sure you use water conditioners suitable for the fish to neutralise harmful substances in the water.
  5. Decoration and substrate: The choice of decoration and substrate influences not only the aesthetics but also the well-being of the fish. For the substrate, use suitable gravel or sand that meets the needs of your plants and fish. The decorative elements should be safe and suitable for fish, without sharp edges or toxic materials.
  6. Selection of fish: Inform yourself thoroughly about the fish species you want to keep. Pay attention to their size, behaviour and compatibility with other species. Do not keep fish together that could stress or attack each other.
  7. Run-in phase: Before you put the fish into the aquarium, let the water run in for a few days to establish the biological balance and reduce possible pollutants. This helps the fish to adapt better to their new environment.
  8. Patience and observation: Setting up an aquarium requires patience. Observe your fish carefully to detect signs of stress, illness or incompatibilities early on. The better you know your fish, the better you can respond to their needs.
  9. Regular maintenance: An aquarium requires continuous maintenance. Schedule regular water changes, cleaning of the filter and pruning of plants if necessary to maintain water quality and keep the aquarium clean.

Setting up the aquarium: Size of the aquarium

One of the most important aspects of setting up an aquarium is the size. Here you will learn why the size of the aquarium is so important so that you can set up your aquarium and how to choose the optimal size. The size of the aquarium affects the entire ecosystem that is created inside. Larger aquariums offer many advantages over smaller ones:

  • Stability of the water: In a larger aquarium, fluctuations in water parameters can even out better, resulting in a more stable and healthier environment for the fish.
  • Space for fish: Fish need enough space to swim and develop their natural behaviour. In a larger aquarium you can also keep a greater variety of fish species.
  • Biological balance: Larger volumes of water contain more beneficial bacteria that help maintain the nitrogen cycle in the aquarium, which in turn improves water quality.
  • Easier to maintain: Larger aquariums generally require less frequent water changes, making the aquarium easier to maintain.

The choice of the size of the aquarium depends on various factors:

  • Space and budget: Consider how much space you have available for the aquarium and how much you are willing to spend on it. Larger aquariums are usually more expensive because they require not only the aquarium itself, but also a more powerful filter system and lighting.
  • Experience level: If you are a beginner aquarist, it is advisable to start with a smaller aquarium as they are less complex to maintain. More experienced aquarists can venture into larger aquariums.
  • Fish species: Think about which fish species you want to keep. Some fish need more space than others and may become stressed in an aquarium that is too small.
  • Aquarium type: There are different types of aquariums, such as freshwater, saltwater and specialised reef aquariums. Each species has its own size requirements.

There is no blanket answer to the ideal size, as it depends on the factors mentioned above. Nevertheless, there are some general recommendations:

  • For beginners: A 75-150 litre aquarium is a good starting point. It offers enough space to learn how to care for them without being too overwhelming.
  • For advanced users: A 208-284 litre aquarium opens up more possibilities when selecting fish species and plants.
  • For enthusiasts: an aquarium from 378 litres offers a wide variety of fish and allows you to build a fascinating underwater biotope.

Setting up an aquarium: Choice of location

Choosing the right location for the aquarium is an essential step in setting it up and has a significant influence on the well-being of your underwater inhabitants. In order to successfully set up your aquarium, you should consider some important aspects.

First of all, it is important to determine the ideal location in terms of light. Natural light is beneficial for the aquarium, but direct sunlight should be avoided. Too much light encourages algae growth and could increase the water temperature, which is uncomfortable for the fish. Choose a location that offers bright, indirect light or invest in suitable aquarium lighting.

Another crucial factor is the stability and load-bearing capacity of the location. A full aquarium is heavy, so the substrate should be stable and resilient to support the weight. Avoid areas with possible vibrations or shocks as these can unsettle the fish.

Also make sure that the location is close to a water source to allow for easy water changes. Access to a power supply is also important so that you can easily connect the filter system and lighting.

Ultimately, you should also choose the location based on aesthetic considerations. An aquarium can be a beautiful eye-catcher, so it makes sense to choose a place that fits in well with the surroundings and allows you to enjoy the aquarium.

By considering these factors, you can choose an optimal location for your aquarium. A well-chosen spot will create a comfortable and healthy home for your fish and plants.

Setting up an aquarium: Technical equipment

When setting up an aquarium, the technical equipment plays a decisive role in the well-being of the aquatic inhabitants and the care of the entire ecosystem. Careful selection of technical equipment is therefore essential to ensure optimal conditions in the aquarium.

Here are some of the most important technical components you should consider when setting up your aquarium:

  • Filter system: An efficient filter is of great importance to keep the water clean and clear. The filter removes dirt particles, excess nutrients and waste products from the fish. There are different types of filters, such as internal filters, external filters and biofilters. The choice of filter depends on the size of the aquarium and the needs of the fish.
  • Heating: Most tropical fish need a constant water temperature that corresponds to their natural habitat. An aquarium heater regulates the temperature and thus creates a comfortable climate for the inhabitants. Be sure to choose a heater that fits the size of the aquarium and ensures even heat distribution.
  • Lighting: The right lighting is not only essential for the growth of plants, but also influences the behaviour and colourfulness of the fish. There are special aquarium lights that imitate natural daylight and promote the well-being of the inhabitants. Choose lighting that meets the needs of the plants and fish.
  • CO2 system: If you have plants in the aquarium, a CO2 system might be useful. Plants need CO2 for photosynthesis and an additional CO2 system can promote their growth and vitality.
  • Air pump and oxygen supply: An air pump ensures a sufficient oxygen supply in the aquarium. Especially in densely planted aquariums or with many fish, an additional oxygen supply may be necessary.
  • Thermometer: An aquarium thermometer is important to keep an eye on the water temperature and adjust the heating if necessary.
  • Water quality measuring devices: Test kits or measuring devices for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate help to monitor the water quality and to be able to react in time if necessary.

Water quality

Water quality is of crucial importance when setting up an aquarium. It has a direct influence on the well-being of the fish, plants and other aquatic life living in the aquarium, as well as on the stability of the entire ecosystem.

Before introducing fish and plants, it is essential to consider the water quality. Some important aspects to consider include pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.

The pH value indicates how acidic or alkaline the water is and is an important factor for most fish species. A pH value between 6.5 and 7.5 is considered optimal in most aquariums.

Ammonia is produced by the decomposition of fish waste and food residues and is toxic to fish. It is converted by nitrifying bacteria into nitrite, which is also harmful. In a well-functioning aquarium, ammonia and nitrite should be present in undetectable amounts.

Nitrate is the end product of the nitrogen cycle and is less toxic than ammonia and nitrite. Nevertheless, the nitrate content in the water should be checked regularly, as too high a value can promote the growth of algae.

To maintain optimal water quality in the aquarium, good filtration, regular water changes and adequate feeding of the fish are of great importance. Water quality tests and the use of water conditioners can help maintain the balance in the aquarium.

Thorough monitoring of the water quality and attention to the needs of the different fish species and plants help to ensure that the aquarium becomes a healthy and stable ecosystem in which all inhabitants can feel comfortable and thrive.

Decoration and substrate

The decorative elements are not only aesthetic elements, but also fulfil practical purposes. Caves, roots, stones and plants provide hiding places and retreats for the fish, which promotes their well-being. When selecting them, however, there should be no sharp edges so as not to injure the fish.

The substrate also plays an important role. For planted aquariums, a nutrient-rich substrate that supports plant growth is suitable. Gravel or sand are popular options as they allow the planting of aquarium plants. Specific fish species may require a special substrate, for example sand for bottom-dwelling fish.

Before placing the decorations and substrate, rinse them thoroughly to remove dust and dirt. It is also important to anchor everything well to the aquarium floor to prevent it from tipping over or shifting.

During the run-in process, the beneficial bacteria in the aquarium develop, maintaining the nitrogen cycle and converting harmful substances such as ammonia and nitrite into harmless nitrate. This process takes time, so it is important to check the water quality regularly.

A successful decoration and the appropriate substrate contribute significantly to creating a safe and healthy habitat for the fish and plants in the aquarium.

Selection of the fish

Choosing fish is an exciting step in setting up an aquarium. There is an enormous variety of fish species that have different needs and behaviours. It is therefore important to carefully consider which fish will fit best in the aquarium.

The first thing to consider is the size of the aquarium. A smaller aquarium is more suitable for smaller fish species, while larger aquariums offer space for larger fish.

Before deciding on a fish species, do thorough research on its needs, such as preferred water temperature, pH ranges and compatibility with other fish. Some fish are territorial and should not be combined with other aggressive species, while others should be kept in schools to be comfortable.

You should also consider the behaviour of the fish. Some are peaceful and are well suited for community aquariums, while others are predatory and are better kept in a species tank.

Triops longicaudatus

Care should be taken to ensure that the fish selected harmonise well with each other in terms of size and needs. Overpopulation of the aquarium should be avoided to prevent stress and poor water quality.

The fish should be purchased from a trustworthy dealer who offers healthy animals. Before buying, the fish should be looked at closely to make sure they are active and healthy.

The selection of fish is an important step that influences the balance and harmony in the aquarium. A well-considered selection leads to a harmonious and lively underwater life that will delight both the fish and the aquarium owner.

Run-in phase

The run-in phase is a decisive step in setting up an aquarium. During this time, the ecosystem in the aquarium is built up and stabilised to create optimal conditions for the fish and plants.

During the run-in phase, the aquarium is filled with water and the technical equipment such as filter and heating is put into operation. The substrate and decorative elements are placed to create a pleasant environment for the inhabitants.

The most important task during the run-in phase is the development of beneficial bacteria in the aquarium. These bacteria are responsible for the nitrogen cycle, which converts waste products such as ammonia and nitrite into harmless nitrate. Ammonia is toxic to fish, so it is important that these bacterial colonies develop before the fish are introduced.

In order to develop the beneficial bacteria, a “fish-free run-in” can be carried out. This involves adding a source of ammonium to the aquarium, for example in the form of fish food or ammonium chloride. During this time, the water quality should be monitored regularly to follow the development progress of the bacteria.

The length of the run-in period varies, but it usually takes several weeks for the ecosystem to stabilise sufficiently to safely introduce fish. It is important to be patient and not rush the process, as premature fish stocking can lead to water quality problems.

During the run-in phase, the first algae may also form, which is normal. A balanced light regime and, if necessary, the use of algae eaters can help to control algae formation.

Patience and observation

An aquarium is a living ecosystem that needs time to develop and stabilise.

During the run-in phase it is important to be patient and give time to the natural processes in the aquarium. The development of the beneficial bacteria that maintain the nitrogen cycle can take several weeks. The temptation to introduce fish early should be avoided as this can lead to water quality problems.

During this time, regular monitoring of the water parameters is of great importance. The water quality should be tested regularly to monitor the progress of bacterial development and make corrections if necessary.

The behaviour of the plants and fish should also be observed carefully. Look for signs of stress or discomfort in the fish and how well the plants are developing in the aquarium.

Observation allows you to react in time to changes in the aquarium and to detect possible problems before they get worse.

Patience and observation are also important after the run-in phase. The needs of the fish and plants can change over time and it is important to adjust and act accordingly.

Regular care

Regular maintenance of an aquarium is essential to maintain a healthy and stable ecosystem. After the aquarium has been successfully set up, it is important to provide continuous care.

One of the most basic tasks is the regular water change. This removes pollutants and waste from the water and improves the water quality. The frequency of water changes depends on the size of the aquarium and the number of fish, but a weekly water change of about 20 percent is usually recommended.

Cleaning the filter is another important maintenance task. The filter removes impurities from the water, but these accumulate in the filter material. Regular filter change or cleaning of the filter is therefore necessary to maintain its efficiency.

Observing the fish and plants is an essential part of regular maintenance. Look for signs of stress or illness in the fish and check the growth and vitality of the plants. If necessary, you should take timely action to correct problems.

Feeding of the fish should be appropriate and controlled. Overfeeding can lead to a deterioration in water quality and affect the health of the fish. Make sure to feed only as much as the fish can eat in a few minutes.

Checking the water parameters is an important part of regular maintenance. Measure the pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate regularly to ensure that the water quality is in an optimal range.

In addition, careful cleaning of the aquarium and decorative elements is necessary to prevent the accumulation of dirt and algae.

Regular maintenance of an aquarium requires time and commitment, but it is essential to ensure the well-being and health of the fish and plants. With consistent and attentive care, you will create a lively and attractive underwater paradise that will delight you and your underwater inhabitants for a long time.

Sladjan Lazic

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