Your Freshwater Aquarium Set Up

Your Freshwater Aquarium Set Up
by: Bob Finklea

Creating an aquarium is like building your own house and assigning roles. It entails the planning of your own structure according to taste and functions, acquisition of materials, setting-up and management. Do you remember your childhood days when you played the game of building your own home at the attic, garden, veranda or wherever space you found abode, playing roles like grown-ups: cooking, cleaning and taking care of children as mother, father or a kid in the family? Such moment is considered one of the best of an individual's younger years. One can actually relive such moment by setting up a freshwater aquarium, a hobby which has been proven beneficial to people's health. As starter, it helps to have a checklist of basic materials for a successful set-up such as the house, appliances, decorations, inhabitants and cleaners among others.

Times like these are seen as the good times of our youth when we were happy. One can actually relive such memories with a freshwater aquarium set up. This is a hobby which has been proven beneficial to people's health. Setting up an aquarium is like building your own house and playing roles.

It entails the planning of your own structure according to taste and functions, the acquisition of materials, the set-up and the management of the final product. As a starter, it helps to have a checklist of basic materials for a successful set-up such as the house, the appliances, the decorations and the inhabitants among others.


Your own aqua-house composes of a tank filled with water. The larger the tank is the better. The more inhabitants you wish to keep, the larger the tank you need. The larger the tank, the more water you need. The more water, the more difficult it is for toxins to build-up and for water chemistry and temperature to change quickly, which will demand less time and effort from the owners. Note that small-size tanks that range from 2-15 gallons are more difficult to manage compared to mid-size tanks that range from 20-40 gallons and large-size tanks that range from 50-180 gallons.

As a beginner, plan your space for a mid-size to large tank. Make sure also to get a strong stand for the tank and position it in a part of your home or office where there is no direct sunlight. Of course, the stand should be sturdy enough to hold the weight of the tank in the same manner that the floor where your aquarium will be set-up is solid and stable. Popular tanks can be glass or acrylic.

Glass tanks are heavier than acrylic but more prone to breakage than the acrylic tanks. Acrylic tanks are best for children because they are lighter than glass tanks. Short and horizontal tanks are better than tall and vertical tanks because the fish get more swimming space and easier oxygen flow from the surface.

Equipments and Decorations

These include the light, lid or hood, the water filtration system, the heater and the decor. Light comes in the form of incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, mercury vapor and metal halide. Fluorescent light is the least complicated so it is best for starters. The lid is a tank cover to prevent inhabitants from jumping out of the tank that would cause their most likely demise. It also serves in the decrease of evaporation while protecting the light from getting wet. In some shops, the lid comes with light and such is known as a hood. The hood is made of plastic, is lighter and costs less. glass lids are still the best because they let natural light into the aquarium.

There are three main filtration systems: Biological, Mechanical and Chemical. A Biological Aquarium Filtration provides stability and detoxification of the tanks water. This is done through regular water change and use of sponge filter, undergravel filter and a canister filter. This method is good in preventing the proliferation of poisonous waste ammonia. Mechanical Filtration System on the other hand provides clear water freed of small debris by pumping the water through fine materials. This is done through the use of canister filter, standard power filter, wet or dry filters and so-called floss or pleated cartridge. By trapping debris in the gravel, undergravel filters can also act as mechanical filters but the gravel will need regular siphoning to remove the trapped particles.

Chemical filtration provides the reduction of microscopic elements and compounds in water that causes it to become yellowish over time. Some particles dissolved in water cannot be removed by mechanical filters. Activated carbon in canister and power filters can isolate elements and compounds like copper, ozone, chlorine, antibiotics, waste proteins and carbohydrates, iodine, mercury, cobalt, iron, water medications methylene blue and malachite green, sulfa drugs, and organic dyes among others. Nowadays, there are available filters built with all these three methods. The filter in your fish tank is one of the most improtant pieces of equipment because it cleans the water of toxins and should have a flow rate of 4 to 1 meaning 4 times per hour.

A heater is required when the aquarium does not have a temperature of about 77 degrees Fahrenheit that may be needed by the tank inhabitants. Models of aquarium heaters can be hang-on-the-tank or submersible. The latter is more expensive but is the best choice among many aquarium owners.

There are many different types of decorations but organic decors can be fossilised versions of the living objects like real rocks, driftwood, gravel, sand and corals. The type of decors that appear to be as real as possible but are fake and not alive (inorganic) like manufactured plants and rocks are an alternative. These are composed of plastic, silk for smooth movement and clay in its rustic aura. Of course, some people like the use live plants while others combine live plants with manufactured ones. It is best to combine creativity for beauty and health of the fish in the tank.


Your aquarium may house fish, turtles, snails and snakes among many other water creatures. There is a vast number of freshwater fish species to choose from. You may consider what you eventually will buy, according to size (as small as 1.5 inch to as big 35 inches), according to character, according to colour or according to demand (popularity or rarity). many fish are low maintenance while others like the Goldfish require a little extra effort.

Of course, the more fish you place in the tank, the bigger the tank must be so that the ecosystem is balanced and disease prevented. The estimate is roughly about one fish per gallon of water is your maximum! Don't go over this rough estimate.

You will also need to include substrate to line the bottom of your new fish tank, a net, some water conditioner, some test kits, a thermometer, a aquarium siphon, an algae scrubber and a large water bucket. Setting-up an aquarium is really fun and very easy. After some time when you have proven success, you can experiment with other materials available and make the most of your freshwater aquarium.

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