A fish tank can add beauty and serenity to your home. However, nothing is more discouraging than putting time, effort, and money into a new tank and finding fish floating at the surface the next morning. With a good initial setup and regular maintenance, fish can live for years. Give your fish a great start by following the tips below.
The gravel, fixtures, and plants you plan to put in your aquarium have a varied history. Gravel and fixtures such as rocks and caves obtained from a store can have remnants of the manufacturing process on them or may have encountered contaminants while on display. Never discount the possibility that aquarium decorations could have been purchased and returned after being used in another tank. If live plants or non-commercial rocks will adorn your tank, rinsing is especially important. Live plants and outdoor rocks can harbor microscopic life, which can severely impact the fragile biota in your new tank. Live plants can also harbor snails. Snails multiply rapidly and are notoriously hard to eradicate. Live plants are extremely beneficial to any tank so don't be discouraged by the possibility of contaminants. A good rinsing will dislodge any foreign objects or lifeforms. Don't forget to rinse your new tank too.
Choose Your Water Carefully:
The water in the tank will be everything to your fish. They will be continuously surrounded by it so it is imperative that the water be high quality. Tap water can be used but it will require twenty-four to forty-eight hours of sitting to allow the chlorine to evaporate. Chlorine is very detrimental to fish and even the small amounts present in tap water can bring on the demise of fish already stressed by relocation to a new environment. If you elect to use distilled water you must add in salts specially formulated for aquariums or small amounts of tap water to provide the trace minerals that fish require.
Use Aquarium Salts and Biological Starters:
Aquarium salts are very beneficial when used in moderation. The salts can speed healing of wounded fish, discourage malicious bacteria and parasites, and reduce stress on new fish. Only a small amount of salt is needed per gallon so a single container will last many years. Be sure to measure the salts according to package directions. A little more or a little less salt won't be too detrimental but the correct amount is best, especially when setting up a new tank. Also, consider the use of a biological starter. The correct biota is crucial to the health and vitality of any type of fish. A biological starter can flood your tank with beneficial bacteria right from the start, allowing beneficial strains to establish themselves before potentially harmful strains appear.
Allow Time for Equilibrium:
As tempting as it may be to fill that clean, new tank with fish, your fish will have a much better chance of survival if you let the tank sit for a day or two. The wait time allows the filter to cycle the water several times, the salt to dissolve, and the beneficial bacteria to distribute throughout the tank. The more uniform the water is, the more likely it is that the fish will survive the transfer to their new home. Letting the tank sit also allows you to confirm the temperature setting is correct and to preform adjustments if necessary. Remember that any temperature changes can take hours to reflect on a tank thermometer. The length of time for temperature changes to register depends on the size of your tank and the location of the thermometer.
Learn About Your Fish:
Before purchasing fish, be sure they are a good match for their new home. Consider the size of the tank they will be in and the maximum size of the fully grown fish. If you are not willing to purchase a larger tank in the future, only bring home fish that will not become too large to be comfortable in your current tank. Make sure all fish that will be in the tank are compatible with each other. If you choose aggressive fish don't mix them with long-finned or other incompatible types. Also, check for pH and temperature compatibility. Most species have certain pH and temperatures which are ideal. If you choose to stock several different species, be sure their ideal pH and temperatures overlap so that your tank settings will be well-matched for all fish.
Given all the effort that goes into a new setup, it only makes sense to give your fish the best start possible. Following these tips will greatly improve the survival rate in a new tank and reduce the frustration and expense of new fish.