"Tropical Fish and Aquariums - A Beginner's Guide"," They are not as expensive or demanding as other pets such as dogs or cats but still need to be treated appropriately and given the correct amount of care and love.
What do Tropical fish need?
Firstly, they obviously need a tank.
They also need water, as obvious as this sounds, water is hugely important and the key to maintaining your fish is maintaining the water.
In this guide we will be looking at creating a beginners tank.
Many hobbyists that have huge amounts of experience still keep these sorts of tanks, mainly because they are so attractive and fun.
However you must evaluate your space and budget, a medium sized tank of around 40 to 60 litres is adequate, but it shouldn't be smaller than this.
It's up to you if you go for these set ups, it is somewhat helpful to have a built in light, heater and filter, but these are bought separately very easily.
Where you position your tank after purchase is very important too.
It also shouldn't be near windows, radiators or anything that may affect the temperature of the water.
This also means that they can be more sensitive to temperature changes.
Of course, you still need to keep an eye on the temperature with the help of an aquarium thermometer, which can be stuck onto the tank or floated inside.
Tropical fish also benefit from a light source, for how long it is left on varies for species but a good guide for beginner fish species is 10-12 hours a day.
If not then you need to first purchase a starter, which is the fitting a light tube goes into and is powered by.
Most starters come with holders for the tube, which can be fixed onto the lid of your tank.
Also, obviously chose the correct length for your tank!
Lights have different spectrums, as a beginner you don't need to worry too much, you just need to know that lights with more 'blue light' will provide a stronger light than those with more 'red light'.
Filtration is the most important aspect, aside from water, as it is what helps keep your fish healthy.
The movement created also increases the surface area of the water and allows more oxygen to enter the water.
The filter itself consists of a plastic casing with a little motor inside that draws water in through a sponge and then pushing it out of a nozzle at the top.
It should be positioned so that the nozzle sits level with the water surface and so it can easily be connected to a power supply.
Not only would your fish die if it wasn't there but if it isn't the right sort of water your fish could be at risk.
However, for the same reason you shouldn't use chlorinated water, like that out of your tap.
You also need to consider the hardness and softness of the water.
Most beginner's fish will tolerate both but it is worth keeping in mind the type of water you have in case you want to try different species later.
You can buy PH testing kits for fish tanks to easily find out what sort of water you have.
0 is good, although being around 6.
5 is fine.
Make sure when you test regularly and with all the dÃ©cor in as things such as waste levels, dÃ©cor and even foods can change the PH level.
Some dÃ©cor items have other purposes, for example gravel which helps trap debris and makes a nice base for other dÃ©cor.
Plants should be used, although it is unwise to use live plants as a beginner.
Purchase a variety of types and sizes for a nice natural effect.
It's up to you what sort of style you use but make sure you choose items than fish won't get hurt on or trapped in.
You should aim to create a natural space, where fish can swim, hide, rest and carry out natural behaviour in.
Place the filter and heater in, but do not turn them on.
Make sure not to have unstable areas or areas fish could get trapped.
A good idea is to put larger plants and dÃ©cor toward the back, medium toward the middle and sides and small things at the front or in the middle.
You can use a flat piece of slate or an old saucer to pour the water onto so it does not disturb the dÃ©cor you have used.
You can now switch on the heater and filter.
It is very important not to add fish at this stage.
During the next few days the tank will undergo some changes referred to as 'cycling the tank.
Instead run the tank for a week or two as if you had fish in there, turning the light on and occasionally adding some food (although not regularly as if you had fish as none of it will get eaten this time!) This allows the tank to settle and provides a safe environment for your new pets.
You should buy a tropical flake food, as it will provide all the nutrients that your fish need.
These can be bought in frozen tablets or freeze-dried blocks, to give as a treat.
You should only purchase 6-8 fish at a time to avoid unbalancing the water in the tank.
Some good species for a community tank include; Guppies, Zebra danio, platies, mollies, small species of gourami, small loaches, tiger barb, cherry barb, neon tetra, cardinal tetra, lemon tetra, Mountain minnow and swordtails.
Buying and bringing your fish home
As mentioned earlier, you need to introduce fish gradually.
This could be tetras, guppies, barbs or danio.
If you see dead fish in the tank or notice any of these problems it is best to choose a different supplier.
You should aim to introduce fish that feed on the surface and that will swim around in shoals or in the open first and the fish that like to dwell on the bottom, eating debris last.
Fish who have just been purchased are often stressed and this makes them vulnerable.
Firstly, you should turn the light on your aquarium off.
You should place the bag your fish are in, unopened, in the water.
This stage will ensure the temperatures equalise in the tank and the bagged water, allowing your fish to gently acclimatise, you should keep the bag like this for around 20 to 30 minutes.
Doing this will allow the fish to get used to any differences in the water's PH, you should wait another ten minutes before un pegging the bag and allowing it to fill and mix with the aquarium water.
You can however use a fish net to gently coax them out.
They will likely hide to begin with, but this is natural and in time they will feel safe.
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