Fish-keeping can be a highly-rewarding hobby once you get to grips with caring for your aquarium setup. Freshwater or marine setup, whatever you go for, there is always some amount of work you need to put in for the aquarium to remain the center of attraction.
As a beginner, you have to pay extra attention to things related to fish-keeping. You are still on a learning path of caring for your finned buddies. The aquarium care is the second step (after starting an aquarium) to ensure you have a lively aquarium.
Before we dive into the various aspects of aquarium care for beginners, there are a few things you need to do.
Before the ‘care’ aspect
Here are some things that you need to take care of before the question of aquarium care comes to the mind.
Your fish or school of fishes need a stable environment to live. Whenever you are taking up a new aquarium project before you add the fishes to the tank, ensure proper cycling of water in the tank.
Initially just after the water is added to the tank, the water conditions are varying. After water gets added to the tank, numerous events happen like the growth of good bacteria, algae. During this phase, the water quality changes drastically. So, you should never introduce your fishes at this point. Refer to the Aquarium starting guide for further information.
What we are saying is, introduce the fishes only when the water conditions are stable and suitable for your fishes. That way, your fishes won’t have a hard time and will adapt to the new environment quickly.
Know your fish
When looking for a fish to keep, you will be tempted by color, shape, sizes of various fishes. The choices are endless, and we don’t want to put a restriction on that. However, their appearance isn’t the only thing that you should be looking for when choosing a fish.
Remember, fishes differ not only by their shape, size, and color but also their behavior and habitat conditions. Some require more care than others.
Before making a decision, educate yourself about the particular fish, their behavior, diet, health conditions, required environmental conditions, their compatibility with other species (in case you are hosting multiple species). The key is to know every aspect of your fish. That way, you are not stuck, in case you face some problem with your fish (like a fish disease) and can act fast and effectively.
That does the before care aspect.
The aquarium care pointers
Now, coming to what you need to do to take proper care of your aquarium. Here are the pointers.
It is one of the easiest mistakes to commit, overfeeding. Fishes usually eat only the amount they require. Hence, any extra food that remains in the water contributes to producing waste. Overfeeding increases the work of the filtration systems. Meaning, you are engaged in more frequent maintenance tasks. So, overfeeding wastes money and increases your work by polluting the water.
A good way to avoid overfeeding is only to provide the amount of food that the fishes can consume in five minutes.
Check and maintain appropriate water conditions
To ensure your fishes live healthy for a long time, it is vital that you regularly monitor the water conditions. Use a water testing kit to assess the ammonia, nitrate, nitrite levels along with the pH levels. Once a week check does it. Always ensure that the water conditions are always within the required standards. If you find any deviation, act accordingly to remedy the situation.
Perform regular water changes and clean substrates
The water in your aquarium tank slowly deteriorates with time. Hence, you need to perform periodic water changes to ensure the quality remains constant as much as possible. One thing you should avoid is adding conditioners in cases where a water change would be a better thing. You do not have to change the entire water inside the tank but replace it partially. We say you replace about 1/3rd or 1/4th of the aquarium water with clean water in one go. That way, you aren’t altering the water conditions entirely.
Additionally, you also will have to clean out the gravel substrates for any stuck debris. Any heavy waste matter is likely to settle on the substrate layer and in large amount will pollute the water. So, always ensure you clean the substrates when changing water. There are gravel siphons available in the market that allow for removing water while cleaning out the substrates.
Perform apparatus checks
It is also necessary that you periodically assess the conditions of your various support setups (filtration, heating, lighting). Fit support systems will guarantee healthy aquatic life. So, ensure that they are in the best of conditions to perform and repair or replace if necessary.
Monitor the fishes’ activity
Here’s where your knowledge about the fish comes handy. Apart from all the other setups and water conditions, also take a look at your fishes. Assess their behaviors and appearances. If anything is wrong with them will be reflected either in their behavior or appearance. So, regularly have a check on them to ensure your fishes stay sound and healthy.
That sums up the aspect of aquarium care for beginners.
Some other pointers
By small, we are referring to the fish population. Large fish population contributes to larger waste generation and fluctuating water conditions. All this means high workload for you with limited knowledge. So, we suggest you start your aquarium with a few fishes.
Go for a mid to large size tank
We suggest you go for at least 20 to 25-gallon tank, to begin with. The idea that small tanks mean less work is not real. Low volume means water conditions are harder to maintain, not something you want as a beginner.
So, buy a mid to large tank to help with your learning process. As a beginner, never go for a tank smaller than 15 gallons.
Start with a simple setup
Always start with a simplified setup. Meaning, do not invest in things that do you are not acquainted with. Like for some freshwater fishes, you could get away without using gravel substrates. A simple setup will only help you learn the basics first. Any additional aspect could be included later once you are more experienced.
When starting your fish-keeping journey, it is easy to make mistakes. Make mistakes but do not make dumb choices. Throughout your fish-keeping experience, you will lose some fishes on the way. You will learn how to do things and how not to. Being informed with the basic knowledge about various fish-keeping aspects will help you a lot.
The above pointers highlight the main aspects of caring for your aquarium to assure the longevity of your setup. Comment below if you have any questions.