Hints and Tips

If you avoid some of my mistakes, then maybe you might have a better chance of starting off in perfect position. These are some of the hints and tips that have helped me, and some that have'nt:

Start off slowly:- Add only a couple of platys or barbs to start off with, be sparingly when you are adding fish to a new tank. The aquarium takes time to adjust to the Nitrogen Cycle , don't rush it. To spare the fish from toxic levels, you can try a Fishless Cycle.

Amount of light in the tank:- Fot the first week I let the light source in the tank for hours and hours on a stretch - algae built up and my tank looked like it turned brown. 10 - 12 hours is well enough. If you are using fluorescent lighting, and and you have plastic plants, 1 lamp is good enough for the fish. Some certain real plants can grow in inhospitable enviroments (Hygros, Vals, Java Fern). If you are really interested in a proper planted tank, supplement CO2/2 watts per gallon is generally acceptable to plants which need light/medium lighting.

Food:-I started of with three meals a day, but because of my late nights and disrupted morning times, it is fine for the fish to have two meals a day. Or even 1 meal a day, as overfeeding is a common problem with a new aquarist (see below).

Water changes:- The crucial element in the changes is to break down the chlorine in the tap water. Don't forget. It is tiresome to do these chores, and you get into a routine to cut corners etc. Once I turned on the TV as I did these changes, and lost concentration. Before I knew what I was doing, half of the input tap water was in the tank WITHOUT conditioning it(Doh!!!).

Illness:- Always check the fish for ailments - If you can diagnose and treat the fish quickly, theres more chance of you saving them.

Check the filter:- There is a lot of cleaning and maintenance and make sure that everything is running smoothly. Make sure that you clean inside the filter. The impeller is very important, you should clean the impeller chamber at least every 2 months. I check and clean my one in every maintanance session, can't hurt can it?

Use aquarium water:- When you want to clean the filter outer box, foam, impeller etc, you can use aquarium water, to safeguard your bio-filter. If you use unconditioned tap water, every helpful bacteria in your filtercan be destroyed.

Watch for the weed:- If you put a plant right next to a pump, it's going do damage to it. Make sure that the flow of water is not right in the path of a plant. If you have a strong powerhead, the option is to use a spray bar.

Electric shock:- The bigger the tank, the more wattage is needed to run the pump, light and heater. So I would advise you to turn off the power before dabbling your pinkies in the water - it very well could cost you your life.

Drip-loop:- Still talking about electricity, allow you aquarium(s) cord(s) to drop slightly below the outlet and then curve upwards to the plug(s). This is the "drip-loop" and will prevent water from travelling down the cord and directly into the electrical outlet.

Overfeeding:- You've just got your new fish, and you want to make sure that they remain nice and healthy - isn't it tempted to give them all the food they can eat and a little bit more? Well don't, overfeeding can lead to all sorts of problems, even kidney failure. Who wants all your platys to end up as fat as puffer fish?

Don't change too much!!:- Your aquarium has been through the wars - dead fish, plants, diseases etc, but things are on the up and it looks like that the toxic levels are reducing. Now, isn't it time to change a foam and carbon insert and why not add some more gravel? Nooooo!! Don't to it. It takes time for the biological cycle to stable, and if you change to many variables it could drastactly alter many things - PH levels, water hardness, even it could revert your new aquarium back to its starting point again. Stagger things, never at the same time.

Watch out for direct light:- Bloody algae, doesn't everyone hate it? If you have your aquarium in direct sunlight, then algae will multiply. It may also cause overheating.

Prepare to be disappointed:- When you start up a new aquarium, the first fish are more or less pioneers. Unfortunately, you may lose a few. Don't get too attached to these first few pilgrims, you must just roll up your sleeves and try again.

Bring out yar dead!!:- Your fish will die, from disease or old age, you must take out any dead bodies. If you leave a dead fish that was infected, the others may eat some of the flesh, and thats no good at all.

No Goldfish, thanks:- Why? Just why are so many people mixing Goldfish with Tropical fish? I don't know why exactly, but many people are. Often they buy a small Goldfish for a small tank and a few Tetras, and everythings fine. No way, because: the Common Goldfish can get very big (150 - 200mm) after a few years; Goldfish are Coldwater fish - they live in temperatures of 0-18C, whereas Tropicals generally enjoy 24C. They can adapt, but they are living in the wrong enviroment, this can lead to problems. Don't mix 'em!!

Yet more algae?:- Now you have got some really tough, sticky, green algae on your glass? Use a replacable razor for the annoying stuff. Don't be a plonker and go and cut yourself (writing this in shame!!)

Is there a standard water change for everone?:- In a word, no. Everyones aquarium is different: Tank size, water condition, stocking level, plant level. Because of that, not every aquariums needs the same water change schedule. The most important thing to consider is Nitrate. As the Nitrogen Cycle finishes, you get a steady rise in Nitrates after a while. If your aquarium has a 40 - 100ppm Nitrate level, then its best to do bigger water changes (30 - 35%), every week. Personally, I use a 15-20% change every week, even though my aquariums Nitrate levels are below 40ppm.

Is your algae eater getting enough food?:- So, you bought a big Bristlenose Catfish, so he could remove your persistant brown algae? And then he vacuumed up the stuff in three days? You can supplement his diet, obviously algae wafers will do well. You can also try with a peice of cucumber - and I find that using a spare air pump hose weight, and a bit of string, keeps the cucumber on the bottom during the night. Don't use it everyday and with massive amounts as it can turn the water a bit cloudy in the morning. Most likelt that the Cat will find his own food anyway, so dont think you have to add a wafer every day.

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