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Owning an aquarium or "fish tank" can be a very en-
joyable and rewarding experience, if a few simple
guidelines are followed. Far too often young hobbyists
jump head first into fish rearing without any back-
ground knowledge or information and end up disap-
pointed when all their fishes end "belly up".
There are two basic philosophies I stand by:
(1) Acquisition of Knowledge.
All fishes are not created equal. Because of the diverse
nature of fishes, their requirements (water chemistry,
nutrition, and housing) vary across a broad spectrum.
There are fishes that are only recommended for expert
level aquarists and of course there are beautiful, hardy
fishes that are appropriate for beginners. For a success-
ful aquarium, the potential hobbyist (or parent) should
research their hobby using information obtained off the
internet, books, or qualified pet shop staff.
(2) Keep it simple.
I've always advocated that hobbyists should start sim-
ple, purchasing basic equipment and fishes. If your
fishes are alive and healthy after two weeks, then invest
in luxury items such as decoration, gravel lighting and
The following are brief guidelines which can help you
succeed at your new hobby.
Housing -- the home for your fishes could take the form
of a glass or acrylic aquarium (which is the most popular
option), concrete tub, barrel or one of your mom's cook-
ing pots. The aquarium's size depends on available
space and of course, your budget.
Filtration -- your filter is the most important investment
in your aquarium set up. It is the heart and liver of your
tank, circulating and purifying the environment your fish
lives in. If you're going to spend, spend it on your filtra-
tion. You could NEVER have too much filtration.
There are two main types of filtration equipment: (1)
air driven and (2) motorized.
• Air powered filtration require an air pump and is usually
cheaper and less effective than motorized filters.
Types of air powered filters include box, sponge and
• Motorized filters are considered stand alone or plug-in
filters. No other equipment is usually necessary to ac-
company it. They include Hang On, Canister and Sub-
mersible filters. They are the most effective between
the two major types of filtration equipment. They pro-
vide mechanical, chemical and biological filtration.
When investing in a filter choose a reputable brand e.g.
AquaClear, Fluval or Marina.
Not all fishes are compatible. Research and obtain the
advice from your pet shop staff before buying your
fishes. A "Nemo Fish" is not always the best option es-
pecially if you don't have a salt water system! Hillaries,
goldfish, kois and angelfish are very forgiving and make
excellent entry level fishes.
C. Stock Quantity
Stocking your aquarium is more an art than a science.
Overstocking could lead to rapid water quality deteriora-
tion and eventual fish loss. Stocking depends on fish
species, tank size and filtration. Advice from a seasoned
hobbyist is required in this area.
Most fishes accept commercially manufactured food
in either flake or pellet form. The food type depends on
the fish species and size. The pet shop staff would rec-
ommend the most appropriate food type at the time of
your purchase. Top brands include Nutrafin Max and La-
Effective aquarium maintenance is what keeps your
fishes alive and healthy. Filtration alone will not main-
tain a healthy aquarium environment. Water changes
and filter cleaning is required at least every two weeks.
The frequency will depend on fish species, stock quan-
tity and filtration type. Basic equipment required for
maintenance includes nets, gravel vacuum and algae
cleaners, Marina brand being highly recommended.
F. Support Services
Your support service is your local pet shop. The staff
at your pet shop of choice should be knowledgeable and
willing to listen to your questions and queries. Advice
should be easily forthcoming along with the necessary
recommendations to ensure a successful aquarium start
up.For further advice on Starting Your First Aquarium,
please check out the Aquarist Company Ltd. located at
215 Southern Main Road (on the compound of R. Sawh's
Hardware Ltd.), Marabella. Their number is 389-5854.
Information courtesy The Aquarist Co. Ltd.
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