Freshwater Aquariums – Great Fish for Starters

The joys of keeping fish as pets are well-known by amateur and experienced hobbyists alike. With a seemingly endless variety of species, a novice fish keeper may be faced with some tough choices. Which types of fish should I get? How many?

A good way of making your choices is to pick the species which have been proven to be appropriate beginner fish. Generally they are hardy, small in size, they aren’t picky eaters, (some fish will not only eat “live” foods) they don’t produce massive amounts of waste, have a harmonious disposition and will tolerate other fish. (Meaning they are not particularly territorial) These traits make them easy to care for.

It would be good to set up your freshwater aquarium in the appropriate environment that your fish are used to. For example, if you have lots of schooling fish, make sure to leave ample space for them to gather and swim. If you have a fish that is generally shy or secretive, give him a few hiding spots. Doing some research on the characteristics of the fish you decide to keep will assure that your wet pets are happy.

Now, onto the species…

Tetras – These are perhaps the most common starter fish available. There are numerous kinds and all are very inexpensive. As they are considered “schooling” fish, they do well in groups of 6 or more.

Minnows, Danios, Rasboras, and Barbs – Very hardy. They come in multiple colours and design patterns. Interesting, if not endearing schooling behavior.

Gouramis – Generally peaceful, they have an interesting look and come in various colors. There is also a type of this species known as “kissing” gourami. Surely these fish can add a bit of personality to your tank.

Guppies, Platies, and Swordtails – Very colorful and have unique features. They stay small. (Usually, no more than 3 inches) Very peaceful and thrive in a community environment.

Loaches, Cory Cats, Plecostomus and other bottom feeders – Let’s start with loaches. These fish have a unique look as they have a bottom oriented snout. Good for taking care of your snail population, if you happen to have a problem with it. Usually secretive and nocturnal, these would do well in pairs.

Cory Cats are named aptly so because they have what appear to be whiskers. They use these to sift the bottom for excess food. These guys are dynamic and seem to have lots of energy.

Plecostomus are a good addition because they mainly feed on algae and excess food. They have tough scales and boast a suction cup mouth. They are quite interesting to watch when feeding. There are some rare ‘plecos’ which do cost more, but the regular ones are widely available and fairly cheap.

One important aspect you must remember, is the size of your tank (it is usually advisable to have no less than 10-15 gallons) will determine the number of fish that are appropriate to have. A general rule of thumb is one inch of fish for every gallon of water. Do not make the common mistake of overpopulating your starter tank. If you do, you will soon find the levels of dangerous chemicals (produced by waste) will quickly get out of hand.

Keep your fish happy and healthy and they will provide you with an interesting, if not relaxing view into their world.

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Keeping Marine Fish

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People in general, think that keeping marine fish is a difficult task. In some cases this maybe true, because saltwater fish needs a bit more time, work and equipments in comparison to freshwater fish. But freshwater fish also needs the same sort of attention and care, especially, if one wants to breed them or keep delicate fish. On the other hand, there are several marine fish species which are easier to handle once you are able to understand the correct way of maintaining the saltwater aquarium, and establishing a stable environment.

The Basic Parameters

Marine fish are more sensitive to variations in their surroundings. The basic parameters for marine fish tank are pH, salinity, nitrite and temperature. At the time of cycling process, nitrate and ammonia can be a problem. These elements are same as is in freshwater tank, only the degree of intensity differs largely. For keeping marine fish one should be vigilant towards the pH of the water, and it should not fluctuate more than 0.2 each day. Most of the marine life likes pH ranging in-between 8.0 to 8.4. So, it should never drop below 8.0. Other critical parameters such as nitrites, salinity and temperature, should be around 20 ppm, 1.022 and between 75F to 80F respectively.

The Basic Components

The basic components for keeping marine fish are synthetic sea salts, filters, lighting, decorations and test kits. One of the most important items for saltwater aquarium is the size of the tank, the bigger the better. Larger tanks provide more stability and room for mistakes to be rectified; anyway, tanks should never be less than 20 gallons. Usually, fish enjoy long, wide tanks; the greater surface area assist in better gas exchange. Another thing that must be kept in the mind is that the tank should never be overcrowded; saltwater live stock should be much lower than the freshwater fish tank. And always use a good substrate such as crushed coral, marine sand or dolomite.

Setting Up  

The first step for keeping marine fish is setting up a tank in the appropriate place and position. Make sure that the stand is equal from all direction; you can usually do this with Styrofoam under the tank. Next, install the filtration, either inside the tank or outside, according to the type of filter. Add substrate after rinsing it with plain water and then arrange the decorations. Now the tank is ready for adding saltwater, this can be done a few ways either ready mix the synthetic sea salt with reverse osmosis water or from a purifying unit in the tank or containers but it is advisable to place a plate on the substrate before pouring water into it. Then let the tank become stable for about two days and keep testing until test shows positive readings, before adding live stock.

Aquarium Filtration      

Fish kept in tank are confined to a very small amount of water and so contaminants such as scraps of uneaten food or ammonia released from fish’s gills, feces raises the toxic level of the water very soon. Keeping marine fish in such a condition is harmful for proper development of the fish. Regular change of water can help containing contamination, but maybe impractical due to size and frequency of water changes required. The best way of tackling this problem is by installation the best aquarium filtration you can afford – be it under gravel filtration (UGF) or wet/dry filter.

Selecting a Saltwater Fish      

Keeping marine fish are usually more expensive than freshwater fish, so it is very important to get them home alive and maintain their longevity. Never purchase a sick fish, always look for a healthy and vivacious fish in the store, and check, if any irregular patches, spots or wounds on the body. Torn fins are not a problem, they will heal up soon, but other symptoms may kill the fish or even infect other fish of the aquarium.

General Notes

Experienced aquarists suggest that one should always keep a quarantine tank, particularly for saltwater fish. Sick fish needs isolated treatment, because medications or copper etc. may contaminate the fish tank which could be detrimental for the health of other fish. Remember source water is also necessary for saltwater tank. Tap water contains chloramines and chlorine which has harmful effect on marine fish; it also helps in massive growth of algae. Keeping marine fish needs some extra precautions, but this helps to keep the tank full of lively inhabitants.

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