Freshwater: Beginners Guide to Housing Your Own Fish

So you're ready to take the first step of obtaining your very own aquarium. Well congratulations, because you're in the perfect place to do so! While the purchasing, set-up, and maintaining of an aquarium can appear to be a daunting task, it is not the difficult hassle one would think it to be. In fact, it can be quite a pleasurable task to complete. With nearly unlimited customization opportunities, the possibilities are endless. You can transform any of our tanks into a tranquil, aquatic oasis! Follow this guide and you'll be well on your way to the soothing, calming aquarium you've been looking for.

Some people may think of fish as being boring, mundane, and useless pets, but that could not be further from the truth. Fish, while small in size, are high in value. Have kids? A demanding job? Have elderly parents or grandparents? All of these scenarios can be remedied with a low-maintenance aquatic companion! Fish teaches children responsibility, allows for work-oriented people to have a pet, and grants company to the elderly. It is scientifically proven fish reduce stress and anxiety as well as inspire creativity and improve sleep. Most importantly, they are the most low maintenance pet one can have. They do not need to be walked, groomed or bathed, and do not create the amount of mess other pets do. However, what they do need is the proper aquarium set-up. Below, you will find all of the information needed to ensure your freshwater fish not only thrives, but flourishes.

Use this guide as aid to help you:

Avoid too small of a tank as a beginner. An intermediate tank would be recommended. The reason being is due to the aquarium water chemistry. Most beginner aquarium owners would seek out to buy a small tank, not realizing it may be harder to sustain. This is due to drastically tampering with water conditions during maintenance water changes. Large tanks may be overwhelming with maintenance that isn't suitable for new hobbyists. We recommend starting with a 20 Gallon tank at minimum. Anything more than that adds room for error to maintain a safe water condition for your fish. Fortunately for you, freshwater tanks have water condition requirements that are less strict than that of saltwater tanks. Nonetheless, if you are willing to stay on top of required water changes/tank maintenance, or are an experienced aquarium owner, and were considering a larger tank, go for it! Browse our inventory for your perfect fit. (All Aquariums)

Placement of aquarium. Look for an area that would be suitable for the size of your tank. Make sure the location is away from direct sunlight, furnaces, and heaters. Select a spot that will be walked passed daily so forgetting to feed or other daily maintenances wouldn't occur.

Choose substrate/gravel for bottom lining. Substrate carries beneficial bacterial that is good for fish while, being very customizable to whichever look the owner is going for. Gravel, rock, sand, soil, clay and other substrate are all viable options.

Look to obtain a good filter and an aerator. A well-made, high functioning filtration system will help diminish the frequency of maintenance, which can be beneficial to new owners. Filters remove waste and pollutants that may be harmful to fish. Aerators add needed oxygen to tank. It also creates water movement which breaks up surface tension, allowing for more oxygen to circulate aquarium.

Add plant life and decor. Decor and plants gives fish a place to hide when they want to be unseen. Additionally, decor fully customizable, and there are limitless options to get the aesthetic you are seeking. Plants add natural value and elements to the aquarium as if it was in a natural outside environment. Real plants are great, however; artificial plants work just fine. Think about adding vinyl to the rear wall of the tank to also give the look and feel of a natural environment. 

Pick out your lighting and grab a heater. Lighting is vital to aquarium plant life and is also needed to illuminate tank during night hours when contents aren't visible. Depending on what species of fish you have, a heater may be crucial to creating healthy aquarium climate conditions for your fish. Make sure to research your species of fish so you know what is needed to ensure their survival.

Popular freshwater fish. Some popular and beginner friendly fish species are goldfish, mollies, and platies. If you are looking for more colorful breeds, neon tetras and guppies are an excellent selection. Seeking something more exotic? Angel fish and zebra plecos would be an exquisite addition!

P.S. Fish aren't the only aquatic pets our tanks can house. Turtles, hermit crabs, frogs, and shrimp are also amazing pets to have! Make sure you do your research so you know what your pet will need. 

Aquarium additives. A common misconception is that once you fill up your aquarium with water, nothing else needs to be done and fish can live in any type of water quality. Let us ask you: would you rather breathe in air at a luscious park, or air from the exhaust pipe of a semi-truck? The water in your tank has an immense impact on the quality of life of your fish. Distilled water is the best option for your tank as it is pure and contains hardly any pollutants. Can't buy or access distilled water and need to use tap water? No need to fret, here are some excellent additives you can use to ensure the water in your tank is optimal for the health of your fish. 

  • Stability Water Conditioner: Just like humans can have a hard time adjusting to and settling into a new home, so can fish. 'New Tank Syndrome' is the leading cause of fish deaths. This happens when there is too much waste, such as nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia, for fish to survive. Stability Water Conditioner helps acclimate fish to their new environment by balancing waste levels and removing impurities. On the first 7 days after your fish has "moved in" to its tank, use 5ML for every 10 gallons. After the 7 day period, use once or month, or every time you change the water in the aquarium.
  • Tap Water Conditioner: Tap water can be toxic to fish as it has many harmful metals and chemicals in it, such as copper, zinc, and chlorine. 1 drop of this every water change or water refill will neutralize toxins harmful to fish.
  • Water Conditioner: Has it ever been so dry outside that you had to get lotion or body oil to moisturize your skin? Well believe it or not, fish can lose moisture from their bodies! While water conditioner detoxifies toxins and breaks down harmful compounds, it also restores the natural slime of fish back to its scales and gills and reduces stress. 5ML every water change will leave your fish looking and feeling its best, no ashy fish over here!

What to feed your fish. At this point you have your fish set up in a beautiful aquarium with light fixtures, substrate, gravel, additives, the whole nine yards. So what are you going to feed your new fish? There are 3 types of feeders a fish can be: surface level, mid-water, and bottom dweller. If your fish is a surface level feeder, fish flakes are ideal for them as they tend to float at the top of the tank. If your fish is a mid-water feeder, fish pellets will do them justice. Fish pellets absorb a tad bit of water, making it sink to the middle of tanks. Lastly, if your fish is a bottom dweller, fish wafers will be your fish's best friend. These wafers fall quickly to the bottom of your tank, giving easy access for your fish to eat them.

Get maintenance equipment. There are a few items that are essential to maintenance, while others depend on what tank and fish you have.

Maintenance equipment:

  • Algae scrubber
  • Siphon
  • Fish net
  • Aquarium safe cleaner 
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Gravel vac
  • Water bucket
  • Filter brush

After reading this guide, there is no doubt you are an expert of not only aquariums, but also the fish that live in them. Now it's time to put the knowledge you've just learned to the test, and the first step of doing that is to purchase one of our tanks! Thank you in advance for supporting our business, we hope you and your fishy friends love our tanks as much as we do!