You have decided to become an aquarist, or at least dream about it. You may have been impressed by an aquarium that you have recently seen, or you just want to spend your free time more interesting.
Most likely, you are still not aware that you are at a crossroads. You will choose one road – in front of you there will be not only a new passion, but a life full of pleasures and new friends.
Along the other road you will go – you will encounter disappointment, and another announcement will appear in the local newspaper: “I sell an aquarium”.
The key to success is to always be clear on what to do and why. This thesis seems trivial, but it’s surprising how many people, having decided to become aquarists, believe that it’s enough to fill the aquarium with water and run the fish there. Everyone knows that water is hard or soft, so why should the fish feel good in the water that comes directly from the aqueduct?
But the rigidity is only one of the characteristics of water that should be considered. Pisces do not care that you are just a beginner aquarist. If you did something wrong, at best they will experience stress, at worst – they will die.
From the day you started the aquarium, you are responsible for the well-being of the fish.
Constant interest in new species and the influx of fresh blood for captive fish should not be associated with over-exploitation of natural populations. It is very important that each aquarist creates the most favorable conditions for his fish, using every opportunity for their reproduction.
As the experience grows, you realize that your new hobby not only helped you to decorate a room or spend your leisure time more interesting, but also made you a botanist, entomologist, geologist, and all-rounder, and the list goes on and on.
Not bad, if you had an idea to start keeping fish, but not everyone knows how to proceed. We have already said that before starting an aquarium, it is necessary to solve several problems for yourself and acquire some knowledge.
The good news is that you are reading this article, and do not run to the store to shop. We strongly recommend that you continue reading and only then draw conclusions, is it worth becoming an aquarist.
If you do decide to do this, our article can serve as a guide for planning, setting up and maintaining the first aquarium.
You have to ask yourself a few questions. What size aquarium can fit in your apartment and can you afford it? What kind of fish would you like to have: large or small (depending on the size of the aquarium), freshwater or marine, tropical or coldwater?
What conditions do they contain and how do they behave? Will they be able to live in your tap water and, if not, are you ready for the difficulties and costs to create the necessary conditions? Will the fish get along with each other?
Do you want to grow plants in an aquarium? Will the fish eat them? Having gained some experience, you will surely make some changes in accordance with your inclinations.
But never do something that can adversely affect the condition of the fish. All your actions should be subordinated to this main principle.
What kind of fish to get
Although for reasons of price and space allocated for an aquarium, your desires may be limited, however, the size of the aquarium should be the decisive factor in choosing the fish. To bring you joy, fish need a comfortable living environment.
It is worth thinking about what you would like the most. Determine what types of fish are available, prepare a list of those that seem attractive to you and which you would like to purchase.
You will find some discrepancy between the size of the aquarium, the compatibility of the fish with each other and your understanding of the underwater mini-paradise, but a wide choice will allow you to make a final list of candidates without any problems.
To understand what kind of fish it’s worth getting, you need to figure out how much your tank can hold. Usually, calculations are made based on the requirements for oxygen consumption, based on the ratio of the length of an adult fish (without a tail) to the surface area of the aquarium: freshwater fish 2.5 cm long need 192 cm2 for cold-loving species and 64 cm2 for tropical ones. Sea fish for each individual 2.5 cm long are given 18 liters of water in the first six months of life and 9 liters for the rest of the time.
For some species, however, the population density depends on which territory individuals recognize exclusively as their own. In this case, the aquarium, the volume of which is determined by the formula, will accommodate a smaller number of fish.
Compatibility (or incompatibility) of fish species should be considered before they are put together. The main criterion is habitat similarity.
Few people decide to launch marine and freshwater species into one aquarium, but much more often fish from brackish ponds are transplanted into fresh water. Many errors occur due to incorrect determination of water hardness and the acid-base balance of various freshwater biotopes. Fish live well in captivity, if they create conditions as close as possible to the natural.
The water temperature requirements should be similar. Some species got into aquariums from fast rivers, others from calm water bodies, which means that they cannot exist under the same conditions.
Some fish prefer rocky bottom, others – thickets of plants or open spaces; some require bright light, others – twilight. All this must be considered when you create a suitable environment for your pets.
Size and temperament
The size and temperament of the fish are very important characteristics. Although not all fish are predators, in nature, usually larger ones eat smaller ones.
If you are planting exclusively herbivorous species, make sure that even the smallest inhabitants of your aquarium are large enough not to become victims of others, and you need to pay attention to this in the future when the fish grow.
Some species jealously guard their territory, using a certain part of the aquarium as a storeroom or nest (feeding and reproductive areas, respectively). Such fish are usually aggressive to the representatives of their own, and often other species.
Sometimes they can be kept together – if they are compatible in temperament and size, but it is better to plant them in a separate aquarium.
Think of the stern. Do you want to start fish that require a varied diet, for which you will have to cook food for them every day?
Will there be enough food for fish that slowly consume it if they are put in the same tank with agile, food-hungry species? If it does not prove to be fatal, then will not fast, large fish burden the life of small and fearful ones?
All these questions need to find answers.
Do not make hasty conclusions, looking at the not fully populated seller aquarium, which contains incompatible species. The behavior of fish depends on the relative density of the population, the number of plants planted and the age of the fish (often sell immature individuals).
Give them plenty of space, where there is certainly a reason for fighting, let them grow up, and the situation may change radically.
A lot of literature on aquariums is published – from magazines to special monographs on individual groups of fish. You don’t have to buy them all, just go to the library. You can also visit the city aquarium or pet shop to see the fish that interest you.
Do not be tempted to quickly acquire all necessary.
The very study of the basics of aquarism promises a lot of pleasure. It takes patience to succeed, and the sooner you put up with it, the better.
Of course, it is impossible to master in advance absolutely everything related to your new hobby, but it is not worse if, having arranged an aquarium, you find that it does not suit your pets, and everything will have to be redone.
By making a mistake, you risk harming fish, not to mention wasting time and money. What should bring joy for many years, can turn into a bitter disappointment.
Many amateurs, having acquired an aquarium, are in a hurry to populate it with fish from the nearest pet store. And when they later find exactly what they wanted, it turns out that these fish can no longer be placed in their aquarium.
It is more correct to first collect all the information about the fish of your dreams, and then buy them.
It is unforgivable to bring the fish home without being prepared accordingly. This slip will upset the aquarist, but much worse is that it can cost the lives of the fish. And this is not an exaggeration.
No less often aquarists complain that the set of species chosen by them was wrong. Someone first equips an aquarium and only then asks if it will suit these breeds.
We do not want to refuse to help, but it is better if you yourself try to find an answer.
Aquarium lovers associations
In addition to books and the Internet, there are other ways to get information – for example, from other aquarists, both professionals and beginners, just like you. Fish farming is a fascinating activity that unites people. You can easily find many enthusiasts who are ready to help you.
If you are interested in an aquarium with a friend, do not hesitate to contact him again with questions. Perhaps through your friends you will contact other amateurs, who will also be happy to show you their aquariums and answer all questions. You can become a member of the local club aquarists, even if you do not have fish.
Such clubs exist in many large cities, although it is not always easy to find their address. This will help you sellers pet stores.
In most countries, federations of aquarist clubs have been formed, their addresses are published in aquarium breeding journals.
If by nature you are not very sociable and do not want to join the club, you can negotiate with a friend who also has an aquarium to help each other in difficult situations. For example, to bring and install a large aquarium in a house, look after the fish during the holidays, lend for the time of some vital device that broke at three in the morning on Sunday.
Perhaps he will sell you too much of what is needed to care for the aquarium, or the fish of his breeding at low prices, will give something to read on aquarium.
It would be very helpful to find a good pet store seller and make friends with him. You will undoubtedly need help when it comes time to purchase accessories.
The range of equipment for aquariums is now so large that it confuses even a specialist, and a beginner even more so. The seller will advise the most suitable and reliable equipment specifically for your case.
A good seller knows the fish and those who are engaged in them. Perhaps he will not have what you need at the moment, but if you are a profitable buyer, he will try to get the fish you need.
Subsequently, you thank the seller for your attention by buying everyday goods from him. Even if his store is not near your home, qualified assistance is more important than the time spent on the road.
How to find such a pet store and such a seller? To get started, ask aquarists acquaintances to recommend someone to you. In case of failure, remember that you can distinguish a good seller from a bad one by the following signs: both earn their living this way, but for bad money, the main motivation.
He is unlikely to spend time talking, do not expect that he will rush to catch the fish you have chosen from the aquarium, where there are about twenty of them, too much fuss. He will grumble if you want to buy a pair even when the floor is easy to identify.
He will sell you any equipment and any fish, without asking questions.
A good seller, on the contrary, will try to prevent you from making mistakes and may even refuse to sell something. Reputation is more expensive to him than easy money. In case your question is too difficult for him, he will climb over the book.
Ask to catch you two fish, and he will certainly get you a pair; if gender can be distinguished. Such a seller is attentive, will find time to talk with you, even if you see him for the first and last time.
But go to him again, and he will most likely recognize you.
To resolve your doubts, come to the store with a list of completely incompatible fish species (we would recommend astronotus and neon) and say that you only got a 60-centimeter aquarium yesterday and are going to immediately place these fish there. A bad seller will not even lead an eyebrow, taking out his net and plastic bags.
A good one will politely but firmly read you instructions.