Prior to actually getting a fish tank to work for the first time, one must prepare thoroughly. The preparation includes planning and a lot of other aspects that have been discussed in one of the previous posts. So in this post I will deal with what has to be done after all the necessary materials are at hand.
You have bought the tank along with its hood and stand, the filter, plants, gravel etc and also decided on which fish you want to have in your aquarium. Now the next step is to set up the aquarium exactly as you want it to be, but without the fishes. Fill the tank with clean tap water, add the gravel and plants after washing them separately, fix the lights, plug in the filter and let the tank run. Add about half a kilo of gravel for every 4 liters of water. Let the tank run like this for at least a week before you add the fishes. This is important because it will give the water enough time for the impurities to dissipate and it will also give you time to make sure that everything works as it should.
During this period of a week it is essential to test the water. See that the temperature is not too high or too low. The level of pH must also be tested. Some fish thrive in more acidic water and some others in more basic water. But most fish do well in a balanced pH. The pH level can be tested either at home with a tester kit or else a sample of the water from the aquarium can be taken to a pet store to be tested. Upon finding out the pH level, it can be adjusted with the help of chemicals, to suit the requirements of the fishes that you want to have in your aquarium.
After this, it is time to buy fish. When you go to the pet store be sure to select fish which have a good color and look healthy and are active. Avoid fish which appear to be sick, have a poor color or which have their fins clamped close to the body. Do not buy many fish, thinking that the tank might look empty if there are only a few. Buy a few fish at first and let them grow to their full size for a few months. Otherwise, having little space might suffocate the fish. Imagine yourself living in a tiny room full of people, for your entire life. You do not want that fate for your fish.
When you are done making the purchase, the fish will be given to you in a small plastic bag. Take utmost care of the bag and try to transport the fish to your aquarium as soon as possible. Before you introduce them into the tank, check whether the temperature of water in the plastic bag is somewhat similar to the temperature of water in your aquarium. If it is, then you can slowly empty the contents of the plastic bag into the aquarium. If there is a noticeable difference in the water from the plastic bag and the tank then you must equalize the temperature in both. This is done by floating the plastic bag along with the fish, in the tank for about 15 minutes after which, the fish can be let into the tank water. Do not add all the fish at the same time. It is better to leave a gap of 1-2 weeks between the additions of new fish.
The lights in the aquarium must remain off for several hours after the arrival of the new fish because they can be very shy and would want to hide for a while before they get accustomed to their surroundings. However, once they are comfortable, the lights must remain on for at least 8-10 hours per day because fish need regular lighting.
Now that everything is completely set up, you will only have to follow a few things from time to time in order to ensure that your fish are healthy and they grow well.
• Feed your fish about two to three times per day as per the instructions given at the pet store. Do not give them more than they can eat as uneaten food will dirty your tank.
• Clean the tank regularly. 25 percent of the tank water every one to two weeks. This routine assists in maintaining proper pH levels, decreasing the number of disease-causing organisms trapped in the gravel bed, and removing waste by-products, such as ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Clean all of the water completely once a month.
• Maintain constant temperature and pH levels. Check the water regularly and see to it that it is not harmful for the fish.
If you follow all of these guidelines then maintaining your aquarium will not be a difficult task. The life of your fish is in your hands. If you take care of them well they will thrive and the experience will be absolutely enjoyable for you. Always remember that healthy fish are happy fish.