The life under the sea has long fascinated the landlubbers who attempt to learn its mysteries, and the privilege of being able to bring a small piece of it into their homes has proved too difficult to resist. Saltwater aquariums can be seen in homes around the world, containing everything from tropical fish to sharks and stingrays. For many, however, it is not enough to simply have a tank sitting in the middle of whatever room they have chosen to plant it in for them to look at and admire. They wish to be in the middle of the ocean itself, to find themselves surrounded by the marine life they have long admired.
Unfortunately, although science has made many advances in that area it is not yet possible for man to live under the sea. A small taste of what is would be like to have the ocean as your floor, walls and sky can be obtained by installing an in wall aquarium.
In wall aquariums come in many shapes and sizes, from tanks no larger than the screen on a small television sets to the great tanks that make up the walls of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. Installing these tanks is not difficult, although it does require a great deal of time and effort; however, with the proper directions and guidance anyone can allow themselves to enjoy these beautiful home accents.
Before you get too carried away with the concept of being able to float along in a mermaid lagoon (even if it is only in your mind) it is important that you first ensure that your home is going to be able to support the aquarium you wish to install in it. The strength of your wall studs is going to be the determining factor on whether it is possible to place an aquarium directly in the foundation of your home; if they are not strong enough to support the weight of the aquarium the mission must be aborted at the very beginning.
It is possible to hire a company to come and install your aquarium for you, ensuring that the cables and pumps will be neatly hidden and the aquarium seamlessly placed into the fabric of your home. While this is more expensive than doing it yourself it does guarantee success (after all, if a professional makes a mistake which installing your aquarium they are responsible for the repairs, not you). If you are new to the business of installing in home aquariums, or home repair in general, or if you do not have a great deal of time on your hands this is probably the option for you.
While in wall aquariums are more expensive than their traditional relations they bring with them a set of advantages uniquely their own. They generally require fewer cords and plugs, as well as less maintenance. They allow you to save space and ensure that little fingers do not find their way into the aquarium to torment the fish. Most of all, they allow you to bring just a little bit of every child’s dream into your home, blending fantasy and reality in a way that was previously only available on t.v.
Many people would like to own and maintain a saltwater aquarium but they shy away from them, turning instead to the freshwater variety because they have been told that saltwater aquariums are difficult to maintain and require additional equipment. That is not necessarily true. For the most part converting a freshwater tank to a saltwater tank is simple. Most of the equipment both tanks use is the same, with only a few notable exceptions. One such exception is the aquarium substrate. Instead of using the gravel that your fresh water fish preferred tropical fish fare better with a substrate that is made of live sand or crushed coral. Most filtering systems work well in both freshwater and saltwater environments, but many aquarium owners take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade their system, i is also important to remember that the filter you are using in your saltwater tank circulates the water throughout the entire tank. Disturbing the water’s surface maximizes the amount of oxygen in the water. If you are planning to maintain a fish only aquarium you shouldn’t have to worry about upgrading your lighting system. The only time the lights will have to be upgraded is if you start adding coral reefs to your tank.
A mistake many aquarium lovers make when they are converting their freshwater tanks to saltwater tanks is assuming that all they have to do is add a little salt to the water and voila, a saltwater tank. All they have done is create an environment that will kill any coral reefs, tropical fish, and freshwater fish that they place in the tank. The bacteria in saltwater is completely different from the bacteria in freshwater. People who want to speed the water’s cycling process should scoop some aquarium substrate from a warm saltwater aquarium and transfer it to a temperate saltwater aquarium. Before you add fish to your freshly converted tank, make sure you purchase a refractometer and hydrometer to test the salinity of your water. The salinity should have a specific gravity that is between 1.020 and 1.026.
Saltwater causes rust. Check your tank and filtration system regularly. If you notice rust starting to form, it’s time to replace your equipment.
Before you start stocking your saltwater aquarium with fish do a little research. Many varieties of tropical fish require a different type of food the freshwater varieties. Several of these varieties have to be fed combinations of fresh, frozen, and live food in addition to fish flakes. Frozen food should not be kept in your freezer for more then three months. If you are purchasing a fish that is going to need a great deal of live food, find out what kind of arrangements are going to have to be made to keep the food alive before consumption.
Most fish owners recommend purchasing a small tank that can be used as a quarantine tank. Placing a sick fish in a quarantine tank will make treating it easier and increase its odds of survival.have to be made to keep the food alive before consumption.
Most fish owners recommend purchasing a small tank that can be used as a quarantine tank. Placing a sick fish in a quarantine tank will make treating it easier and increase its odds of survival.
This is an 11 step guide to setting up a freshwater aquarium in your home.
Equipment you will need:
Replacement filter media
Other decorations (such as plants)
Chemical test kits
STEP 1: Realize the responsibility involved.
A tropical fish tank is just like having a dog or a cat when it comes to the amount of effort on your part. In order to have a successful fish tank you will have to work at it. Once a week, or at most once every two weeks, you will need to perform some kind of maintenance on the tank. Most of the time you will be performing water changes. You will also have to feed your tropical fish at least once a day. If you are up to the challenge, please proceed!
STEP 2: Decide on an aquarium size.
It’s a good idea to have in mind what kind of tropical fish you want to keep before you purchase an aquarium. Some tropical fish only grow to be an inch or two, whereas other types of tropical fish can grow 12 or 13 inches in length! Knowing what kind of tropical fish you want will help you decide the size of the tank they will need. If this is your first time with an aquarium, I would recommend going with a 10 or 20 gallon aquarium for now.
STEP 3: Decide on the aquarium’s location.
Place your aquarium in an area where the light and temperature of the tank won’t be affected by external sources such as windows and heater vents. You will want to place your aquarium on a stand that will be able to hold its total weight. A good rule of thumb for determining the total weight of a full aquarium is 10 pounds per gallon of water. For example, a 55-gallon tank will weigh approximately 550 pounds when filled with water!
STEP 4: Buy your aquarium and equipment.
Now is the time to decide on the type of filtration you will want to use. You will also need to purchase a heater capable of heating the tank size you have. Buy the gravel, plants, a power strip and other decorations. A good rule of thumb for the amount of gravel that you will need is 1 to 1.5 pounds of gravel per gallon of water.
STEP 5: Set up your aquarium and stand.
Wash out your tank with water only! Do not use soap or detergents. Soap residue left behind will be harmful for your tropical fish. If you are going to use an under gravel filter (not recommended) now would be the time to set it up as well.
STEP 6: Wash Gravel, plants and decorations.
Be sure to wash the gravel thoroughly before adding it to your tank. An easy way to do this is to put some of the rocks in a pasta strainer and wash them out in your bathtub. Then place the clean gravel in a clean 5-gallon bucket for transport to the aquarium. After adding the gravel you can place your plants and decorations.
STEP 7: Add water to the aquarium.
To avoid messing up your gravel and plants, you can place a plate or saucer in the middle of your aquarium and direct the water flow onto the plate. Use room temperature water when filling. To remove the chlorine and chloramine, use something like Tetra AquaSafe for Aquariums. Don’t completely fill up the aquarium until you are sure of the layout of your decorations. Otherwise, when you place your arm in to move stuff around water is going to spill over. Doh!
STEP 8: Set up equipment.
Install your heater but don’t plug it in until the thermostat in the heater has adjusted to the water temperature. This usually takes about 15 minutes or so. Hook up your filter and any other equipment you have, then top off the aquarium water to just under the hood lip. Place your hood and light on the aquarium and then check your power cords to be sure that they are free of water. I would also recommend using a drip loop on all of the power cords to be extra cautious. Plug all of the equipment into a power strip and then “turn on” the aquarium.
STEP 9. Wait, wait, wait and then wait some more.
I know, you want to add some tropical fish. But, in order to do this right you must wait until your aquarium has cycled before adding any fish. There are ways of speeding up this process. Check out the nitrogen cycle page to learn more. If you must use fish to cycle, try to get a hardier species like the zebra danio or cherry barb.
STEP 10. Add tropical fish.
Only add one or two fish at a time. Adding a couple tropical fish at a time gives your filtration system the time needed to take on the increased biological load that the new fish introduce. When you bring the fish home let the bag float in the tank for about 15 minutes so that the fish can become acclimated to the temperature and pH of the aquarium water. After 5 minutes of floating the bag you should add some of the aquarium water to the bag so that the fish can become acclimated to the pH level in the aquarium. This will help reduce the amount of stress imposed on the tropical fish. Stressed tropical fish often leads to dead tropical fish! Don’t feed your tropical fish on the first day. They probably wouldn’t eat any food on the first day anyway. Let them get acquainted with their new home.
STEP 11. Get ready for regular maintenance.
Be prepared to spend some time once every week or two to clean your tank. Performing regular water changes will reduce the nitrate levels and keep your tropical fish happy and healthy.
The most important factor of owning an aquarium is the proper cleaning of the tank. Many new owners are unsure of how to go about this. This information will help new freshwater aquarium owners keep a clean and healthy tank. These first two questions are the key to maintaining your aquarium allowing you to enjoy this beautiful addition to your home.
When should I clean my tank? You should clean your tank once every two months unless you can really tell it needs cleaned before then. Why should I clean my tank once every two months? Because your tank will start building up algae on the inside and your gravel will retain waste that could make your fish ill in the future.
The following steps are easy and quick and will provide your fish with a clean and happy aquarium.
Step 1 (prepare for cleaning)
You have to prepare for the steps to follow before removing your fish from your freshwater aquarium. There are some supplies you will need to clean the tank, so it’s best to have them handy before starting. You will need some kind of container that your fish can be placed in until it’s time for them to be put back in the tank. It doesn’t have to be a large container, but make sure your fish do have enough room to swim freely. This container is dependant on how many fish are living in the tank. You will also need a fish net, a towel or paper towels to wipe up any spills that may occur, a water pitcher or a bucket for refilling the tank, food drainer, a clean sponge, and a clean rag. After you have these things gathered, you’re now ready to begin cleaning your freshwater aquarium.
Step 2 (Removing your fish)
This may be the most important step in the cleaning process. It is time to remove the fish from the tank. The first thing to do is make sure that the container in which the fish are being placed has water that is about the same temperature at the tank, other wise your fish will go into shock. When the container of water is ready, use the net to catch each fish one-by-one and place them in the container. Once all the fish are collected, be sure to place the container in a safe place where it will not be spilled. It is common for fish to become stressed when they are moved, so the water temperature and reducing as much unneeded activity is very important.
Step 3 (Removing the fish tanks old water)
When all the fish are out of the tank, it is time to start emptying the water from the aquarium. Using the pitcher or small bucket, begin to remove the water. The water from the tank may be disposed in a sink or toilet. This can be a messy task, so be sure to clean up all spills to prevent any possible accidents. It is not necessary to remove all the water from the tank. Most freshwater aquarium owners remove approximately 3/4 of the water. The remaining original water will help acclimate the new water you will add later.
Step 3 (Removing and cleaning your tanks gravel)
Most of the waste that gathers in a tank settles into the gravel at the bottom. It is very important to clean the gravel when you clean your tank. At this time you will remove the gravel. You can use the fish net, a small scoop or even a dustpan to do this. Place the gravel in a container. Once you have removed all the gravel, transfer it into a strainer of some sort and run it under hot water. Be sure to mix it up while you are rinsing so that all the sediment and waste is removed. Once the gravel has been cleaned, place it aside. You will not be putting it back in the tank at this time.
Step 4 (Cleaning the tank)
Now it’s time to clean the inside of the tank. This can be a tedious chore if there is a lot of build-up on the glass. Some freshwater aquariums have algae growth on the glass. The warmer the water is inside and the more the aquarium is exposed to natural sunlight, the more algae growth you will have. This can be cleaned off by using a scratch pad. Try to use the least abrasive pad you can to avoid scratching the class. Cleaning with hot water will aid in the removal of algae. Make sure to never use any type of cleaner or detergent when cleaning the tank. This will be fatal to the fish. After removing the algae, finish by wiping down the rest of the tank with a towel or soft rag. You may have to repeat this a few times. Try to rinse the rag or towel frequently to remove all the waste. If you have decorative pieces in the tank, be sure to wash them as well using hot water. After completing these steps, your tank should be clean of waste and build-ups.
Step 5 (Putting it all back together)
Now it’s time to replace everything. Start by replacing the gravel into the tank, followed by refilling the water. Take notice of the temperature once again. Try to add water that is of the same temperature as the original water in the tank. Add your finishing touches with decorative pieces, then carefully move the fish back in. It may take a little while for the fish to adjust to the new water, but after having followed all these steps, you can be sure that your tank is clean and healthy.
You won’t have to completely clean your tank for another 2 months. Always remember to change the filters if they are dirty. As an added tip, if you remove 20% of the water every month and replace it with clean water, this will cut down on the complete cleaning of the tank in the future. To maintain a healthy tank, it is important to clean it properly and keep up with the aquarium care. By doing this, you will ensure a long life for your fish and an enjoyable experience for observers.
This introduction to saltwater aquariums was designed with the beginner aquarist in mind. There are many reasons for setting up a saltwater aquarium, not least of which is its beauty. The beautiful colors of fish and coral, interesting algae, soothing sound of bubbling water and the fun involved in creating a fabulous marine world are all reasons why keeping saltwater aquariums gives people so much fun and pleasure.
For the beginner even a brief introduction to saltwater aquariums can seem a bit daunting. This is because not only are marine systems a bit complex to set up and maintain they can also be expensive. Saltwater aquariums are not for everybody and even the simplest marine tank can cause headaches. Fish keeping can be tricky and marine fish in particular take a lot of time and effort to keep healthy.
This is because marine species are far more sensitive to water quality and temperature changes so you will need to be informed about the needs of all your fish as well as the tank itself. Saltwater aquariums require patience and a degree of know-how to make it work. You will also need to make sure that you can afford to keep the tank in a healthy state.
Which saltwater aquarium you choose will depend on your aims for the tank and your personal preferences. There are many different options available in terms of the fish and animals you can keep in your tank as well as the equipment you can choose from. Some saltwater aquariums are not suited for the absolute beginner.
The first thing to decide when setting up saltwater aquariums is what kind of fish you want to keep. The next step is finding out as much about each one as you can. Not all marine species are suited to beginners so you might have to adapt your wish-list to suit your level of expertise. Never take on species that are for advanced fish keepers or you could well run into trouble.
There are two main kinds of saltwater aquariums namely 1) ‘fish only’ or 2) ‘fish only with live rock’ OR ‘reef tanks’.
The first is probably the easiest saltwater aquariums to attempt. This is because in saltwater aquariums of this nature, lighting is not really an issue and you can use a simple tank with its usual equipment and only a few extra bits like protein skimmers, powerheads and live rock or sand.
These kinds of saltwater aquariums will usually be either a community tank containing species like clownfish, damselfish, gobies, wrass, and dottybacks, or an aggressive tank where you will find species like lionfish, triggers, eels, groupers, and larger predatory species.
Before you choose your fish, make sure you know EXACTLY which species live well together to avoid your tank turning into a complete massacre. If you are a novice to saltwater aquariums start with a tank that is at least 10 gallons in size. This is because most if not all of your fish will easily outgrow the tank.
Go for the largest tanks you can afford. The bigger saltwater aquariums are easier to keep in tip-top shape.
Most important to the health of saltwater aquariums is water purification in your tank. This means that even the smallest amount of impurities in the water can hurt your fish Remember most of these animals are found in natural coral reefs where the water is very pure. So you will need to make sure that the water in your tank is clean at all times.
In small (10 gallons) saltwater aquariums you can use a Brita filter or water purifier column or you can use distilled water. These methods won’t work in bigger tanks, however. The best bet for any size tank is an RO/DI (reverse osmosis/deionization) system.
Filtration is quite complicated in saltwater aquariums but depends to a large degree on the fish species you intend to keep and how many. In a fish only tank you can use a freshwater filter for example canisters, power filters and the like. You can also try a wet-dry trickle filter. If you decide to keep a reef tank you might want to use a natural filtration system like live rock or sand or a refugium.
Protein skimming is also important in saltwater aquariums and it is strongly recommended that you do it, especially if you have lots of fish in your tank. A protein skimmer uses foaming bubbles to separate fish waste that floats up to the water column from the water’s main flow.
The foundation in your tank will require the laying down of live sand. In saltwater aquariums sand doesn’t only act as a substrate it is also the breeding ground for millions of vital bacteria. These bacteria help the nitrogen cycle to work efficiently. The sand is also home to the small animals that help control the waste products in your tank.
The best sand for saltwater aquariums is calcium carbonate (aragonite). You can get this from crushed corals, or finer sands. You can also use silica and quartz sands but they are not as good.
What about live rock? Probably one of the most expensive features of saltwater aquariums, prices may put off many a budding marine aquarist. Live rock can be bought by the pound and it is expensive because it’s the real thing. In the sea live rock makes up a reef structure with little calcium carbonate structures produced by corals. Since live rock is harvested from nature and laws govern this harvesting you can begin to understand why it is so expensive.
Live rock is important to saltwater aquariums for the bacteria it introduces into your tank. These little organisms keep your water filtered in the same way it does in nature. It also acts as a home and shelter for your fish and a place for coral to grow. It is well worth the high price you pay. ‘Fiji’ rock is a good choice if you can find it. Try to avoid any live rock that has a mantis shrimp on it as they multiply very quickly.
Let’s move on to the lighting in saltwater aquariums. In a fish only or fish and live rock tank lighting is not really an issue. In a reef tank, however, it is critical. This is because light is needed for most corals and anemones to grow. Special lights are needed for a marine tank so use one of the following:
Power Compact Fluorescent (PC)
Very High Output Fluorescent (VHO)
Metal Halide (MH)
Remember you will still need to cycle your tank and perform the necessary water quality testing before you add any of your livestock. So there you have it – the basics of what to start thinking about as you set up saltwater aquariums. We suggest doing plenty of further research to make sure you know exactly what you are doing before you get started.
Marine tanks are not for everyone, so make sure they suit you before you spend a lot of money.
Keeping Goldfish can be a fun and rewarding hobby. As with any new hobby, especially one that involves living creatures, always consider the maintenance that will be involved. If you care for your aquarium properly, you will be sure to have happy and healthy Goldfish for many years. Goldfish have a life expectancy of five to ten years. If you do a good job maintaining their fish tank, you should have fun, beautiful fish for a long time. Make sure to feed them correctly and keep their water fresh and clear.
When starting any new aquarium, you should get everything in place before buying the fish. If you are going to put gravel on the bottom, you may want to put only a thin layer. This will make it easier to keep clean, as Goldfish tend to be messy. Make sure that you rinse the gravel thoroughly before placing it in the bottom of the tank. If you have some decorations, you should add them now. Make sure that you rinse them well before putting them into the tank. Also be sure that the goldfish have plenty of room to swim, as they as active fish. Give them a place or two to hide, and that should do nicely.
Now that you have everything in place, you can add in the water. You will need to use a dechlorinator, as the chlorine in tap water is poisonous to fish. Once the fish tank is filled up, you can turn on the filter. Change it as often as recommended to keep your fish healthy. Goldfish live at room temperature, so you will not need a heater. They are quite comfortable in temperatures from 68 to 80 degrees. However, they should not be exposed to rapid temperature changes. You might want to let the filter run in the new goldfish tank for a day or so to filter out any chemicals or dyes that might have been left on the gravel and decorations that you just added. Waiting to buy new fish can be one of the hardest things about fish keeping!
You need to add fish gradually. Fish excrete ammonia. If you add too many fish at once to a new fish tank, the water will not be seasoned enough to dissipate it. As the water in your Goldfish tank ages, it builds up beneficial bacteria that turn harmful chemicals excreted by the fish into harmless ones. However, this will take some time. Start out with only one fish. The nitrogen cycle will not begin until you add the fish, so running an empty tank for several days will not help. Since your fish tank is brand new, you might want to consider making partial water changes of about 25 per cent of the total water volume every few days for the first week or so.
You can find Goldfish food at almost any pet shop. Make sure to purchase some when you buy your first fish. Feed only a small amount. Especially at first. Any uneaten food will sink to the bottom and rot. Keep this to a minimum. Watch your fish the first few times that you feed them. Feed only as much as they will eat in two to three minutes twice a day, or as recommended on the Goldfish food label. Be especially careful not to overfeed when the Goldfish tank is new. This will cause excess build up of toxic chemicals and can kill your fish quickly.
As the water in your fish tank cycles through the nitrogen cycle, you may notice that is becomes very cloudy. This is a normal process and should clear up in a few days. Do not add any new fish until the water is crystal clear again. Clear water will signify that the nitrogen cycle is working and that the toxic chemicals are being converted to good ones. Remember that Goldfish will grow large and they need a big space. Don’t overcrowd the tank if you want to keep healthy fish. If you follow this little guideline, you will be sure to have a healthy goldfish aquarium.
Do I Need A Quarantine Tank?
Ah, yes, the often dismissed but very necessary part of the tropical fish hobby, the infamous quarantine tank. Do you really need one to be successful in this hobby?
For freshwater fish you may be able to get by without having one. Freshwater fish are generally more suited to captivity because they are usually tank raised and don’t seem to break out in disease as readily as their saltwater counterparts. However, if newly acquired fish do come down with something, you will surely wish that you had one ready to go. One newly bought fish that is introduced to your main tank can easily wipe out the entire tank population. Better safe than sorry, right?
For saltwater aquarium keepers, I would say that you definitely need a quarantine tank. Marine specimens are mostly wild caught and not used to being kept in captivity. Their journey to a dealers tank is usually much longer and much more stressful for them. Stressed out fish will usually come down with some kind of disease if they don’t simply die from the whole ordeal. Saltwater fish keepers will usually have other things in the main display tank such as invertebrates and live rock, that they don’t want to expose to the harsh medicines necessary to treat one or two fish. Some medicines can wipe out all of the invertebrates in a tank, so be sure to research any medicine before using it in your tank.
Quarantine Tank Setup
You don’t need to go all out here. A simple 10 – 20 gallon aquarium will suffice for most people. If you have larger fish then obviously you want to get a bigger quarantine tank. All you really need is a bare bones setup with the following equipment:
Some type of filtration (a hang on the back of the tank power filter will work, just use filter floss without the carbon since carbon will remove medication from the water, being counter productive)
A powerhead and/or an airstone for increased surface agitation
Test Kits for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate
Fish Net – don’t use the same net for your main tank
Fill the quarantine tank with water from the main tank and then turn everything on in the quarantine tank.
Freshwater & Saltwater Fish Quarantine
For newly acquired fish you will want to acclimate them to the water in the quarantine tank and monitor them very closely for a period of two to three weeks. Monitor the water parameters with your test kits and check for signs of parasites or bacterial infections.
If the newly acquired fish does come down with something you will need to use the appropriate medication and you will need to keep them in quarantine for a further two weeks to make sure that you have indeed treated them effectively. If after a few weeks no problems develop, you can then acclimate them to the main tank water and then introduce them.
If a fish comes down with something while in your main tank, just net them and plop them into the quarantine tank. There should be no need to acclimate them because you used water from your main tank. If you didn’t use water from the main tank you will need to acclimate them to the quarantine tank water. Diagnose the problem/disease and treat appropriately. After the disease clears up you will still want to keep the fish in quarantine for a week or so monitoring the water parameters with your test kits the whole time.
More On Saltwater Quarantine
Always have some extra saltwater ready in case you need to perform an emergency water change. Remember, you want to monitor those water parameters frequently (daily or at least once every two days). Many saltwater hobbyists always have saltwater ready just in case. You never want to mix up saltwater and add it right away. Freshly mixed saltwater can be fairly toxic to fish, in turn causing you more problems.
Freshwater hobbyists may get away with not using a quarantine tank, but saltwater hobbyists would be crazy not using one. Save yourself some money, headaches and especially the fish by having a quarantine tank. The fish in your main tank will thank you for it.