What supplies do you need to set up an Aquarium?
The first thing you will need is, of course, the aquarium itself. The size of the tank you will need really depends on how many fish and which species you intend to keep. If you are new to fishkeeping and not 100% sure that you want to keep an aquarium in the long-term, you could opt for a small tank (5.5/11 gallon, or 25/50L) in which you could happily keep a few small fish such as tetra and guppies to see how you manage with maintaining the tank. Oddly, an even smaller tank would actually be harder to maintain as it would require more frequent water changes and cycling. Alternatively, you could buy a decent 50 gallon (209L) that will allow you to keep a greater number and variety of fish.
Whatever the size, the quality of the aquarium is important. It must be watertight (to prevent water degradation and damage to your own property) and made from non-toxic material. Shopping at a reputable aquarium supplies shop will ensure that your tank is of satisfactory quality for your needs.
A filter is the most important part of an aquarium setup and be prepared to pay a little extra for one of better quality. Your fish’s life depends on a filter operating on a continuous basis, breaking down waste and providing circulation. In an ideal situation, the filter would be turning the tank water over 4x every hour however this isn’t possible in every case due to specific fish or plant requirements. Canister filters offer the best filtration as they can hold a large surface area of filter foam and media externally from the aquarium. If you're unsure which filter to choose call or email us and we will be happy to help.
Once you have chosen your tank and filter, you will need to choose an aquarium substrate. Substrates vary greatly on material and coarseness and all will need rinsing before placing inside the aquarium. Avoid unnaturally bright coloured gravels as these can dazzle and upset sensitive fish. Each substrate has a purpose and suitability depending on species of fish and live plants. A depth of 1” is suitable for plants but if no live plants are present keep it as thin as possible to prevent areas of substrate becoming anaerobic. Check for the most suitable substrates when pairing with fish.
To keep your tank at a consistent temperature, keep it out of direct sunlight and away from your radiators (which will turn on and off during the day in winter) and invest in an aquarium heater, which will help to keep your water healthy and enable you to keep tropical fish. Another essential item is your aquarium water test kit, which will tell you whether your water is ready for you to introduce your fish, ensure that you know when your water needs to be changed to get rid of toxins and keep levels of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and PH levels steady.
Invest in an aquarium vacuum, which will suck up all the dirt and faecal matter from among the gravel and a glass scrubber to keep the tank sparkling clean and transparent. Having a grimy tank is not only dangerous for your fish, it makes your tank look unattractive and there is little point in keeping fish if you cannot see them!
If you plan to keep saltwater fish, you will also need a hydrometer, to monitor the levels of salt within the water. You could also choose to buy some invertebrates such as hermit crabs or snails to help to keep your tank clean.
Other items you will need include fish food, a fish net, a bucket (to aid water changes) and decorations for your tank, in order to make it attractive and provide interest for your fish. Consider making at least one cave area for shy or threatened fish to retreat into as this will help reduce stress issues.
There are lots of supplies you might decide to buy to help you to enjoy your aquarium. The items listed above are essential for healthy fish, but you could also buy lighting to showcase your aquarium and grow aquatic plants, and a stand on which to place the tank to make it more of a feature in your home or to free up your other surfaces.
Finally, you can choose your fish! There are so many breeds to choose from and some suit certain setups better than others. It is recommended to test your water parameters prior to choosing fish, PH and Water Hardness can seriously affect fish health. African Lake fish are more suited to Hard Water such as Malawi Cichlids and some Tetras. Soft Water is more suited to South American fish such as Angel Fish. If in any doubt do some reading in the many forums available on the internet or ask your local fish supplier for assistance.