Tropical Fish Tank First-Timers, An Introduction

By: kidino
Owning your own aquarium is great fun, and I have been maintaining my own with love for many years! There's over 60 million of us "aquarists" worldwide, and if this is a hobby you're interested in, it's worth a little time to learn what it's all about before you start.

So what's an aquarium? In the simplest terms, it's a transparent container where you can keep, nurture, observe and enjoy live fish. The goldfish bowl with a single fish in it counts, but what most people mean when they talk about aquariums is a large fish tank (usually rectangular) with several different types of fish and aquatic plants living in balance with each other.

There are two basic types of aquarium environment - fresh water and salt water. Fresh water is definitely easier for people who are new to the hobby, as the salt water (or "marine") tanks take a great deal of attention and skill to keep the fish alive.

So your next step is probably to find out what types of fish you like. If you're lucky, you have fishy friends you can ask questions of, but even a trip to your local pet store or specialty fish store will get you lots of good advice from the sales clerks. Tell them you're a beginner, and that you want to look at freshwater fish, and they will give you lots of choices! Finding the one fish that calls out to you will tell you what temperature your tank needs to be, and starting with one species is probably simplest.

Next, I'd get a good book about basic aquarium care, and read it before you get started!

Then, start collecting your tank and equipment. You'll want to look for a sturdy aquarium that's big enough to give you room to add fish as your experience grows. Practical home fish tanks range from about 11 liters (3 U.S. gallons) up to about one cubic meter (300 U.S. gallons) in size.

You'll need gravel, or another substrate, for the bottom of the tank. You'll need a filtration system, to remove waste and phosphates from the water, and a heater or cooler mechanism to keep the water temperature right. You may need an air pump to oxygenate the water, depending on your tank setup. Also ask about a small chemical kit for measuring and correcting the pH balance in the water.

You'll want to investigate the plants, rocks, and other "aquarium furniture" that goes into the tank. Choose carefully, because the wrong materials can be harmful or even poisonous to your fish!

Get your tank set up, and make sure that the water temperature and pH balance is correct BEFORE you go back to the store to get your fish! If you've done everything correctly, your fish will be healthy and happy, and you'll have a fascinating new hobby to learn and love!
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