Article by Kevin Smith
Where to place your aquarium
Placing the aquarium in the right spot is also essential. Putting an aquarium in the direct sunlight can make it too warm, and also disrupt the lighting cycle you want to create with your tank’s own lighting. Place your tank in a place where it will get just normal, filtered light from windows. Wash the tank thoroughly before placing anything inside. You can use water and salt but no soap as soap residue can kill fish.
Substrates are not all the same
Next, get your substrate (gravel), plants, and other structures, such as logs or driftwood and wash all of them thoroughly. One way to wash the substrate is to put it in a pasta/vegetable strainer and run water through it. You can choose from three sizes of substrate: small stones and pebbles, medium-sized stones and pebbles, or large rocks which can cover much of the bottom of the tank. The best choice is in the middle–medium-sized rocks and pebbles. No matter what the substrate is, everyone will refer to it as gravel. Some kinds of substrate can affect the pH of the water. Stay away from slate, shells, onyx, lava rock, geodes, quartz, dolomite, limestone, and other similar substances.
Put your clean substrate in the aquarium and then the heater, plants and other structures. Wash all of them off so no diseases can be transferred once the fish have been placed in the tank. Next, freshwater aquarium setup is going to mean filling the tank with water. Try to use distilled water that has been sitting at room temperature. If you have to use tap water and you have a city or town water supply, you will have to add an aquarium chlorine remover every time before you can add new water to the tank. Put the heater in the tank, let it adjust to the water temperature before turning it on (15 minutes), and then install the tank light and hood.
Patience is a virtue.
Plug everything in and turn it on. And then be very patient. The aquarium has to go through a nitrogen cycle, which can take as long as six weeks. Then you need to test the pH level, ammonia level, nitrate and nitrite levels. If all are within range (check the test kit instructions for levels), you can start adding fish to the tank two at a time.
Remember, your aquarium may well be a lifetime hobby, so waiting a little more time during the initial freshwater aquarium setup is really a good thing, because it will lead to healthy fish. You will need to continue to test your water for these various chemicals forever so that both your fish and plants thrive. Patience will bring many rewards, particularly when you consider how much enjoyment you will have watching your fish.
Kevin Smith has been in the freshwater aquarium hobby for over 30 years, and enjoys helping others get started in this amazing hobby. His newest book, “The Ultimate Guide to Freshwater Aquariums” teaches aquarists everything they need know about starting and maintaining a stunning and thriving freshwater aquarium.
For more great information on freshwater aquarium setup, visit http://www.afreshwateraquarium.com.