Starting a Tropical Freshwater Aquarium

While there are numerous ways to set up a new fish tank, Animal Attraction maintains the following represents a reliable and method. If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact us through this website or with a phone call.

Setting Up the Aquarium
-First, make sure the aquarium is sitting on a study, level surface. Locate the aquarium where no direct or indirect sunlight hits the tank. This will reduce algae growth.
-Using a bucket or strainer, rinse the tank gravel in cold water only. Never use soap, cleansers, or hot water.
-Once filters, heaters, and the like are in place, fill the tank with room temperature water. Make sure the heater is submersed correctly in the water before plugging it in. Always carefully follow the instructions offered with individual heaters, power filters, power heads, canister filters, air pumps, etc. . Make sure you take enough time, (usually 24 hours), to properly set the water temperature in the tank. A range between 77-82 degrees Fahrenheit is appropriate for most . We suggest 80 degrees in most cases. Many tropical fish require different temperatures, some above or below the range mentioned. Always research the species you want to keep.
-Once the temperature has stabilized and the filters are working properly, then water conditioners and filter media can be added. Media like carbon, zeolite, polyfilters, foam filters, etc. are ideal.
-Once the desired temperature is set, filters are working, and the water is conditioned, then you are ready for fish. NEVER ADD FISH PRIOR TO THIS STAGE. We usually recommend waiting 24 hours before adding a light stock of fish, just to play things safe.
-Set your lights on a timer so that the lights are on only about 10-12 hours a day. Plants, rocks, castles, decorations, etc. are going to help your fish feel more comfortable than they would in a bare aquarium. 

Adding Fish to the Tank (Acclimatizing)

To add fish to the aquarium, leave the plastic bad sealed/closed, float the closed bag in the tank for about 10-15 minutes to slowly adjust the temperature of water in the bag to that of the aquarium. After 10-15minutes, open the fish bag and begin adding small amounts of water to the bag. Once small amounts of water have been added for about 5-10 minutes, net the fish out of the bag and place the fish in the aquarium. Do not add fish store water to your aquarium. This will keep unwanted medications and fish diseases from entering your aquarium. 

The New Aquarium
Stock a new tank lightly. At first you have an approximate 7 day window in which you can add your first group of fish to the tank. Do not add delicate fish, crabs, snails, shrimp, etc. during the first 6 to 8 weeks. Feed a new fish tank very lightly. Animal Attraction recommends a small pinch of flake food every other day for the first 6 weeks. Overfeeding during the first 6 week break-in cycle can cause a sudden increase in organic gases that will dangerously stress the fish. At the end of the break-in cycle, the aquarium will have developed a live and healthy bacteria culture that will work as a living filtration bed or medium. After the 6-8 week break-in cycle has passed, the fish can be fed daily or even twice daily. At this stage, more delicate fish, crabs, snails, shrimp, etc. may slowly be added to the aquarium. Always ask for advice from Animal Attraction before adding fish to a new aquarium.  

Maintaining the Aquarium
During the first 2 months, top off water evaporation only. Do not perform any water changes without seeking our advice. Some new products can help speed up the 6 week break-in cycle. Ask for recommendations and the usefulness of these products. Once the aquarium has cycled and aged routine, partial water changes should be performed. Usually, these partial water changes can begin around the 3 month mark. Animal Attraction recommends a 1/3 to 1/2 water change every 3 to 4 weeks. Never remove more than 1/2 the water. When changing water, adjust the temperature of the tap water to that of the aquarium. Always use water conditioner to dechlorinate and remove heavy metals from teh tap water. Try not to disturb the gravel for at least 3 months in a new system. After 3 months, you may begin to spot vacuum about 50% of the gravel bed during water changes. Do not remove all of the debris (detritus). Some debris is important to the life and cycle of your system. Regular filter maintenance should be performed. Refer to the instructions for each individual brand of filter unit to determine how and how often the maintaienance shoudl be performed. Typically, filter cartrides, carbon, charcoal, aeolite, floss, and poly filters should be changed every 3 to 4 weeks.