Category Archives: Fish Guide

Aquarium Heater (What it is; How it works; Which one to buy; and Tips)

Aquarium Heater is a mandatory equipment for all tropical aquariums. No tropical fish should be in a fish tank without a heater.

In the following, we will discuss everything about aquarium heaters from what it is; how it works; which one to buy; and tips to use them.

What is an aquarium heater?

An aquarium heater is a small and simple electrical equipment that heats the water in a fish tank.

Why do we need an aquarium heater?

Since most aquarium fish in the market are tropical, an aquarium heater becomes necessary for the majority of the home aquariums. Unless you live in a tropical area, you must get an aquarium heater for your fish. Otherwise, they will die eventually either directly to freeze to death, or from the weakened immune system.
Even if the fish do not die right away, they will become less active when the water temperature is too cold. Very uncomfortable for the fish, and less fun for the fish owner.

How does the aquarium heater work?

An aquarium heater converts electricity to heat. As water absorbs heat easily, a heater heats the water around it. So in order to have a heater working, it must be in the water with good circulation. All aquarium heaters will turn itself off once the set temperature has been reached. No need to worry if the water will overheat. If the water gets cooler than the set temperature, the heater will also turn itself on. Yes, it is done automatically. Easy for the aquarium owner.

Are Aquarium Heaters waterproof?

Most of the aquarium heaters in the market are fully submersible. It means they are fully waterproof. You can have them completely submerged in the fish tank without a problem. In fact, all of them have a “minimal water line”. If they do not submerge deep enough, the heater will damage itself once it gets too hot. For these full submersible heaters, you might as well position them completely in the water.

However, there are a few heaters on the market not fully submersible. These heaters have a “max water line” on them. You might not want to keep the water above this line. It can cause an electrical leak. I would not recommend getting these heaters. Not worth the trouble and potential danger.

How to choose an Aquarium Heater?

1. Fully submersible
Yes, I have mentioned this before. Save yourself some trouble and potential harm by getting a full submersible aquarium heater instead of a half submersible heater.

2. Adjustable
Some heaters are adjustable when it comes to the temperature setting. Some others are non-adjustable. Adjustable heaters are more useful as you can set the temperature at where you want it to be. However, if you are on a budget, the nonadjustable heaters might be a good choice as they are generally cheaper.

3. Brands
I’d just go for one of the better-known brands. The following are some good examples.
EHEIM Jagar heater,
Fluval Electrical Heater
Tetra Heater
Rena Smart Heater used to be on my list as well since I have had good experience with it. Go for it if you can still find them.

4. Wattage
All heaters have the manufacturer rated wattage and recommended fish tank size on them. Choose the right wattage for your fish tank is important. By following the manufacturer rated tank size, you can’t go wrong, but neither it is wrong by not following their advice.

The generally accepted rule is to have 2~5 watts for every gallon of water. You may not need that much wattage if you live in a fairly warm place. We will go over this later.

Due to the automated nature of the aquarium heater, we already know the heater won’t overheat the water. So getting a heater rated too high for your fish tank won’t be a problem as it will just turn itself off more quickly. It won’t cost you more electricity at all.

However, you can save money on the heater itself by getting a lower wattage heater. The higher wattage the heater is, the more expensive it is.

The heater’s useful lifespan can also be shorter if it turns itself on and off too frequently. A lower wattage heater has less problem with that since it has to be turned on for a longer period of time in order to sustain the same water temperature.

5. The room temperature matters when it comes to choosing an aquarium heater.
The one thing you might need to pay attention to is if the wattage is way too low. Generally speaking, the manufacturer rated recommended fish tank size is not very accurate. For example, according to most manufacturers, a 50w heater is only good for a 10-gallon fish tank. I have personally used a 50w aquarium heater for a 40-gallon fish tank no problem. The water temperature can be anywhere I want it to be. I have generally set it at 80F, and it could go to 90F when I needed it to be.

However, there is one important factor comes into the play. It is your room temperature. My 40-gallon fish tank always sat in a room where the temperature had never gone below 73F or 22C.

When I moved to a different house, a 50w heater had trouble to keep the water temperature at even 70C in the water. When the room temperature went to below 50F (10C), the water temperature in the fish tank went down to below 70F even as the setting on it had kept it at 80F a month earlier.

So it is important to know the room temperature all year around. If it is a cold room, you might want to get a higher wattage heater to make sure it can heat the water to your target temperature.

Tips for using an aquarium heater
1. Water Circulation
Once again, water circulation is important in the fish tank. You can position the aquarium heater near the intake of the filter. Or place an air stone directly below it to make bubbles around the heater. Both will increase the water flow around the heater for better distribution of the heat. We do not want hot pockets and cold pockets of water in different parts of the fish tank.

2. Cover up the top of the fish tank
By using a canopy on the top of the fish tank, less heat will be wasted. It also slows the evaporation of the aquarium water.

3. Place the aquarium in a warmer room
As I have talked about my first-hand experience, the air temperature made the 50w heater insufficient for a mere 10-gallon fish tank when it is in a cold room. In this scenario, I have to either use a higher wattage heater or move the aquarium to a warmer room. I prefer the latter since it saves me on the electrical bill.

4. Use a separated thermometer
Even the same model heater will have different temperatures at the same setting. You need to use a thermometer for the more accurate temperature reading, and to manually adjust the heater setting accordingly. Yes, even if the heater has a built-in thermometer. Since it is too close to the heat source, it won’t be accurate.

5. Unplug the heater if you plan to move it out of the water
While the aquarium heater keeps the aquarium water warm, the aquarium water also keeps the aquarium heater cool. If you remove the heater from the water without turning it off first, it will burn itself out. Ideally, you might want to turn it off a few minutes before taking it out of the water.

6. Unplug the heater first if you plan to put your hand in the water
As with all electrical equipment, there is always the possibility of electricity leak. Even if the heater is fully submersible. You just never know if it decides to leak and shock you. Better safe than sorry, unplug it before you put your hands in the water.

An aquarium heater keeps your tropical fish alive and happy. Do not skip it as long as your fish are tropical. Do not mix up tropical fish and nontropical fish in the same aquarium. Buy a good heater can last you many years as they do not break down easily. As the matter of fact, none of my heaters has broken down since I started to keep tropical fish a decade ago.

The Real Purpose of Aquarium Air Pump and How to set it up

An aquarium air pump is the main equipment necessary to make the bubbles we see in fish tanks. And the primary purpose of making bubbles is to sustain the oxygen level in the water.

Why do we need bubbles in the aquarium?

Although watching the bubbles rising to the top might be pleasing to the eyes, it is not the reason why we need it. Fish require dissolved oxygen (O2) in the water to live. They take in the dissolved oxygen through their gills and at the same time they produce carbon dioxide (CO2). When we have more than just a few fish in a closed system, there is not enough oxygen to go around. Sooner or later the water will run out of oxygen, and the fish will die.

The simple solution to prevent fish dying from the lack of oxygen is to increase the dissolved oxygen level in the water. At the same time, we must drive out the dissolved carbon dioxide from the water. It requires to speed up the gas exchange between water and the atmosphere.

The one way to promote the gas exchange is to have a lot of surface water movement. Since you can’t just stand there and splash the water all day, you will need something to do the job for you. A long time ago, someone had noticed that when the air bubbles burst at the water surface, they create a lot of surface movement. As a result, it is just what we need to promote the gas exchange.

Now we know the true purpose of making bubbles in a fish tank. Time to move onto the next topic.

How to make bubbles in a fish tank?

First, we need the right equipment. The main equipment to pump the air is the aquarium air pump. However, on its own, the air pump can’t do the job by itself. We will also need additional accessories including an air tubing and an air stone.

How to install an aquarium air pump?

1. Find a suitable location for the air pump.
First, the air pump must be near the aquarium but not too close. Since the aquarium air pump is an electrical device, and it is not waterproof. We must be careful not to let it fall into the water or get wet.

So find a place where the air pump can be higher than the aquarium, yet it is not directly above. In case it falls, it will not fall into the water. It also needs to reach an electrical outlet.

2. Connect air tubing to the air pump.
Not much to say about this step. It is quite simple. Just make sure the air tubing is long enough to reach inside of the aquarium.

3. Connect the air tubing to an air stone.
The air stone needs to be under the water inside the fish tank.

4. For safety reason, we need to add a check valve.
Somewhere outside the fish tank, we need to cut the air tubing. Then place the check valve in between. It will connect both sides nicely. The air check valve allows the air to go through while preventing the water go back to the air pump in the case there is a power outage.

Once everything is connected, plug the air pump into an electrical outlet and turn it on. The air pump will push the air through the air tubing all the way to the air stone. Once the air gets there, the pressure will squeeze the air through the many tiny holes in the air stone to create bubbles.
As the bubbles rise to the water surface, they burst and thus creating the much-needed surface movement to promote the gas exchange.

Things to pay attention when it comes to the aquarium air pump.

Once again, make sure not to let the air pump get wet or anywhere near the water. The funny thing is, almost every air pump manual has a diagram saying do not put it in the fish tank. I guess it must have happened before. It could be dangerous. Just like throwing a TV into the water.

Aquarium air pumps make noises. Since some air pumps make less noises than others, to pick a model makes the least noises might be in your best interest.
The following a few of the better air pumps from top brands.
1. EHEIM Air Pump 400
2. Tetra Whisper Aquarium Air Pump

You can also hide the air pump in a closet behind the door if your air tubing is long enough to reach the fish tank. This way you can distance yourself from the source of the noise while you enjoy yourself watching the fish.

On a side note, there are a few scenarios where this “bubbler” set up is not needed.
1. If you have a hang on the back power filter which creates a waterfall from its outflow, there is already enough surface water movement. No need for the bubbles unless you really want to see them.

2. If you use an air powered sponge filter for your aquarium, it already makes the bubbles you need. No need for a separate set of air stone.

Finally, for people who have multiple fish tanks or wish to have multiple air stones at different locations in the same aquarium, a single aquarium air pump is sufficient if it has enough power. (Check the manufactured rating for each device). All you need is to have some extra air tubing and air stones, along with a Y valve or T valve, or a gang valve (air flow control). These valves will divide one air tubing into multiple. You just need to cut and connect them together at the right place. Also, a gang valve can act as a regulator. So you can control the air pressure goes to each air stone by adjusting the gang valve.

Aquarium Filter 101 (Function; Purpose; Types; and How to Pick one)

Aquarium filter is just as important as the fish tank for having an aquarium at home. We can’t skip either of them as long as we want to keep fish indoor. As the matter of fact, a lot of people started their first fish tank without even have a filter. It is no wonder why most fish die within the first a few weeks.

Just to be straightforward, fish will definitely die if there is no filter in the fish tank.

To understand the importance of aquarium filters, we first must know what they do.

The Function and Purpose of an Aquarium Filter.

There are three main functions of a filter system in an aquarium.
1. Biological Filtration
Biological filtration is the most important function of an aquarium filter. First, we must understand what an aquarium nitrogen cycle is. The one of the most important knowledge we must process before getting any fish. The aquarium nitrogen cycle is very much relying on the filter.

Since fish produce toxic ammonia which is harmful enough to kill them, the ammonia must be constantly kept at 0ppm. The aquarium nitrogen cycle is the only way to constantly keep ammonia at 0ppm.

Multiple species of beneficial bacteria will feed on ammonia and nitrite and convert them to the relative safe nitrate. Because these bacteria have to colonize surface areas on objects, the more surface area you have in the aquarium, the more beneficial bacteria you will have. Heck, the only place with enough surface area is the filter media inside the aquarium filter. It is the reason why we need the filter in the first place. It is to provide enough surface area for the beneficial bacteria to colonize on in order to neutralize the toxic ammonia produced by the fish.

Without constant biological filtration taking place, the fish will eventually die of ammonia poisoning in a closed system.

2. Physical filtration
Physical filtration is to have the aquarium filter physically remove the debris such as fish poop, leftover fish food, or any small and floating stuff in the water.

It is not as important as the biological filtration. Actually, we do not even need it in most cases. While some types of filter system are strong enough to suck in and filter out the debris, they do not actually remove the trash from the system. Because the aquarium water constantly goes through the filter, anything rotting inside the filter will still pollute the water. Suck in too much debris will also slow down the water flow and affect the efficiency of the filter. Also, it will increase the maintenance need.

Therefore, we do not rely on the physical filtration to remove the debris. Instead, we should use the fishnet and gravel vacuum to remove debris from the fish tank.

Many aquarium hobbyists even use a piece of sponge as pre-filter to prevent the debris to get into the filter in order to lower the maintenance need for the filter.

3. Chemical filtration
Some filters have the activated carbon pads inside in addition to other types of filter media. Activated carbon can absorb chemicals from the water. It is useful if you need to remove something such as fish medication from the water. Otherwise, we do not really need it either.

Activated carbon has its limit. They can only absorb a finite amount of chemicals. Once it is full, it will start leaking the chemicals back into the water slowly. So even if you prefer to use carbon pads in the filter, you have to replace them every month or so. Totally unnecessary additional cost and labor in my opinion. Besides, it does not even remove toxic such as ammonia and nitrite.

Conclusion, we only absolutely need the biological filtration. Therefore, the priority is to find a filter good at biological filtration.

Now we know the function of an aquarium filter system.

The next step is to know which filter to pick.

Different types of Aquarium Filter Systems

There are at least 6 types of different aquarium filter system.
1. Power Filter
A power filter is the most used type of all aquarium filter systems. They are the type of filters which some people call “hang on the back filter”. Because they are usually hanging on the back of the fish tank. And they create a waterfall as the water come out of the outflow.

Pros: Available almost everywhere that sells aquarium stuff. Fairly cheap.  Easy to install.  Not to hard to maintain. With a power filter and its waterfall, you do not have to get an air pump.

Con: Noise from the waterfall and possibility the motor as well. Not efficient enough for large aquariums. It takes also takes space on the top of the aquarium.

Example: AquarClear Power Filter. It is one of the best power filters available. Highly recommended for a small to medium sized aquarium on a budget.

2. Canister Filter
A canister filter is usually aimed at the bigger aquariums of over 40-gallon. Because they are a lot more efficient when it comes to biological filtration. They come in the shape of a canister. The canister part usually sits somewhere below the aquarium with only the intake out outflow tubes visible.

Pros: Highly efficient biological filtration since a canister filter holds a lot more filter media which provides tons of surface area for beneficial bacteria to reside on. It is very quiet. Usually, you can’t hear anything at all without putting your ears against the canister.

Con: More expensive. The price ranged from $80 to hundreds of dollars depending on the brand and model, as well as the capacity.
Harder to install compare to a power filter. But nothing is impossible with a manual and a determined fish lover. 😊

Harder to maintain. While the frequency of maintenance can be as long as once a month or two, to actually clean the canister filter require to open the canister and take out the filter media. Not that hard if you know what you are doing, but it certainly takes longer than the maintenance time for some other filters.

Example: EHEIM Canister Filter. My favorite, since mine served me for years. Some people I know have used it for decades.

3. Sponge Filter
It is just a piece of sponge usually in the shape of a cylinder, with an open tunnel goes through in the middle. The sponge filter works when it is fully under the water. It can be powered by either an air stone or a water pump. The idea is to use the air pump or water pump to pull the water through the sponge filter, and thus starting a biological filtration.

Pro:
Cheap. It is the cheapest of all if you already have an air pump. The filter itself usually goes for only around $10 if not cheaper.
Easy to install.
Easy to maintain.

Con: Since it must be put entirely under the water, it takes space inside the fish tank.
It is not good looking. Although you can hide it behind some decorations.

Example:
Hydro Sponge Filter. I have used it in multiple fish tanks with good results. It is also great for fry and shrimp tanks since a sponge filter will not suck them in.

4. Internal Filter
Internal Filter is a type of mechanical filter which is fully submersible when doing its job. Thus, it is also called underwater filter. It is not as widely used as the other type of filters.

Pro: Easy to install. Cheap.

Con: Takes space from the fish tank.

Example: Fluval Underwater Filter.

5. Wet/Dry Filter, or Trickle Filter
A wet/dry filter is another external filter with high efficiency and high price tag. They remove the water through intake tube and let it go through filter media before get into a sump. The water is then spray back into the fish tank.

Pro: Highly efficient filtration.

Con: Very expensive.

Example: Eshopps Wet/Dry Filter

6. Diatom Filter
Technically a diatom filter not in the same category of other aquarium filters. It is only for physical filtration of special purpose. Since it can even filter out micro-sized particles, it can even remove unseen parasites from the water. A great feat to keep the widely spread fish parasites in check. Some advanced aquarium hobbyists run it for only a few hours each week and swear by it that it contributes to their parasite-free aquarium.

Pro: Excellent physical filtration for removing even parasites from the aquarium water.

Con: Expensive.
Hard to find since it is a special niche item for a limited market.

Conclusion: An aquarium filter system is required to run any type of home aquarium if you do not want the fish to die. Choose the right filter for your aquarium is more than just to look at the prices. All filters have the manufacturer rated “recommended fish tank size”, as well as GPH “Gallon Per Hour” on them. Generally, we want to use one level higher of recommendation by the manufacturers just to make sure the biological filtration is sufficient enough.

The more GPH, the more efficient the filter is. The more filter media, the more efficient the biological filtration is. Canister filters and wet/dry filters will always be far superior to other types of filters at the same GPH when it comes to biological filtration due to their filter media size. However, there is no need to spend that much money if your aquarium is less than 40-gallon. If the budget is not a problem, then go for it for a better experience.

You can certainly use multiple aquarium filter systems in the same aquarium at the same time. Because their filtration will add up. In a large aquarium, placing one filter on each side is a good way to keep the filtration run throughout the whole tank. Doing maintenance one at a time can also minimize the damage to the beneficial bacteria colony.

15 Easy Steps to set up an Aquarium at Home

Set up an aquarium is the first step you need to start your aquarium fish keeping hobby. While there are more than just one way to set up a home aquarium, depends on the type of aquarium you plan to have. The general idea is the same. Since some procedures can’t be reversed. To make things simpler, we will simplify the procedures to a list of 15 steps.

First of all, please make sure you have all the necessary equipment and supplies ready. To see the complete list of what you need, refer to the article of Aquarium Equipment and Supplies.

Now we get back at how to set up an aquarium.

15 Easy Steps to Set up an Aquarium

1. Find the ideal location for your home aquarium.
The location of an aquarium is quite important. Just like where to buy your house. Fish can live happily after only if the aquarium is set up at a good location.

2. Place your aquarium stand.
Since your fish tank can’t just sit on the floor, you need to put it on the top of something. An aquarium stand is the first choice. However, if you have a strong furniture with a leveled, smooth top, and ideal height, then, by all means, use it. I have used a dresser for my 40-gallon fish tank for years without a problem.

Put a piece of foam on the top of the aquarium stand. (optional)
In the case the top surface of your aquarium stand is not smooth enough, a piece of foam will help to absorb the pressure directed at the bottom of the fish tank to prevent it from cracking.

3. Put your fish tank on the top of the aquarium stand.

Gently place your fish tank on the top of the aquarium stand. We do not want to break anything. Make sure it is at the center of the aquarium stand to evenly distribute the weight, since a fully installed aquarium can be really heavy.

4. Put aquarium substrate/gravel into the fish tank.
Without the water, it is easier to arrange the substrate in a way you like. Therefore, we need to add the substrate before we add the water.

5. Place a plate on the top of the substrate.
It is to prevent the substrate being pushed away when we add the water to the fish tank later on.

6. Fill the fish tank to no more than ½ of the water from the top by dumping it on the top of the plate.
With the plate in place, the water will not push away the substrate when we add it. Otherwise, you might see the bare bottom of the fish tank after you are done.

The reason not to fill the fish tank all the way to the top is for easier placement of the decorations. This step is even more important if you have live aquatic plants to plant.

7. Place your aquarium decorations into the fish tank.

Let it be artificial caves, rocks, tree logs, driftwood, castle, artificial plants, use anything you like as long as they are made for aquarium use. With only less than half the water, you do not have to get your entire arm wet by placing the decorations at the bottom of the fish tank.

This is when you need to plant your live plants as well if you are going the router of a planted aquarium.

8. Fill the fish tank all the way to near the top.
If you can, aim the water at the plate or at one of the large, solid decoration. Add the water more slowly than before in order not to affect the substrate or any other objects in the fish tank.

9. Place the aquarium equipment (such as filter, heater, thermometer), into the fish tank.
Aquarium heater and thermometer are the easier part. All you need to do is to make sure they are in the water. Make sure read the instruction of the heater. Some of them are not fully submersible (which is not recommended). For fully submersible heaters, you have to place them entirely under the water, or they might burn out once it is on.

The installation of the filter could be a little more tricky. It depends on the type of filter. Read the manual carefully and follow it exactly.

The air pump is optional. You do not really need it if you have a hang on the back power filter which creates a waterfall. Otherwise, you will need to set up a “bubbler” with an air stone, air tubing, and connect them to an air pump (make sure the air pump is outside the fish tank from a safe distance).

Do not yet turn them on, or even plug them in just yet. It is for your own safety since the water is a conduct.

10. Use the aquarium water conditioner.
Since the aquarium water conditioner is for neutralizing the chlorine and chloramine in the tap water, you need to use it. Follow the instruction on the bottle. The ration could be different with different brand/type of water conditioners.

11. Place the canopy or hood on the top of the fish tank.
Easy, right?

12. Plug everything electrical in.
The filter, the heater all need electricity. From this point on, we no longer need to put our hands in the water anymore. So now we can safely plug all the electrical equipment in.

13. Turn everything on.
We have to make sure everything works. There is no better way to make sure of it than turn them all on and observe. Make sure the water is going through the filter continuously. The heater has its light on. Air stone is creating bubbles. Finally, the water circulation is not too strong or too slow. The heater needs to distribute the heater evenly throughout the fish tank. As a result, it must be at where the water circulation is.

Furthermore, check back in a few hours. Check the water temperature, and adjust the heater settings accordingly.

14. Use your aquarium live bacteria seeder. (Extremely Important)
It is to jump-start the aquarium nitrogen cycle. All the commercially available live bacteria products make it so much easier. Tetra SafeStart, Dr. Tim’s One and Only, are known working live bacteria products with great feedback.

If you plan to get the fish within a day or two, go ahead dump the whole bottle of live bacteria into the fish tank at once. Make sure the filter is running 24/7.

Note: If you plan to fully cycle the new aquarium first, then you need a source of ammonia to keep the live bacteria alive and growing. The best source of ammonia is to use a pure ammonia product. Dr. Tim’s Ammonia Chlorine works well for this very purpose.

If you simply plan to add the fish at later date (later than 2 days), do not use the live bacteria until within 2 days of introducing new fish to the aquarium. Because the live bacteria will starve and decrease in number if there is no food source.

15. Add the fish
24 hours after you have added the live bacteria, you may add fish to their new home. Please do not go overboard with too many fish. Even with heavy seeding from a live bacteria product, a new aquarium is not yet well established. Therefore, it might cause ammonia and nitrite spike if you add too many fish at once. Start with a small number, and work up from there.

In conclusion, set up a new aquarium is not rocket science. Since there is the first time for everything, simply follow the basic steps will make things easier. If you have any question or concern, feel free to ask.

13 Essential and Non-essential Aquarium Equipment and Supplies

Set up a home aquarium is easy if you know what you are doing. However, it might be confusing for the beginners to get started on what aquarium equipment to get. In the following article, we will list all the most important equipment and supplies for getting started.

Essential Aquarium Equipment and Supplies.

You should not have any fish without them.

1. A Fish Tank
It is obvious that you need a fish tank to set up a home aquarium. Some people somehow feel they can skip it. There are people who use a cup, a bowl, a glass, a jar, or any kind of containers for their new fish. It is really not a good idea to use anything but a real fish tank of ideal size. Because otherwise, they will die soon.

Not only it is hard to keep the water temperature, PH, and hardness in stable conditions when the body of water is too tiny. But it is also impossible to install the rest of the necessary equipment in a jar or a cup.
Our general recommendation is to get a fish tank of at least 5 US gallon (almost 19 liters). Anything smaller will have a hard time to keep a constant temperature, PH, and hardness. Fish does not like large swings in these readings. They can die from shock.

2. An Aquarium Filter
No one should keep a fish in captivity without having an aquarium filter running 24/7. Put it in a simple way, the fish will die in captivity without a filter. It is just the matter of time. It might be days or weeks, but the fish will eventually die an unnatural death. A filter is for biological filtration. Without it, toxic ammonia released from fish waste and leftover fish food will pollute the water and kill the fish.

Make sure you get the right aquarium filter. It is a filter, not a pump. A filter has filter media, unlike a pump which only pumps water.

3. Aquarium Water Conditioner
Aquarium water conditioner is required if you use tap water for your aquarium which is more than 99% the scenario. Tap water is the easiest source of water you can use for your home aquarium. However, tap water has chlorine and chloramine in it. Both chemical compounds are harmless to us, but they can and will kill the fish. Aquarium water conditioner can neutralize both chemical compounds and make tap water safe for the fish.

Most of the aquarium water conditioners in the market are in liquid form. A few drops in a bucket will do the trick almost instantly. Just get a bottle of commercially available aquarium water conditioner, it will last you for months at least.

4. Fish food
Like all animals, fish must eat. They also have their own special diet requirement.
Commercially available fish food is the easiest to use. There is a large selection of them too.
Somehow some people feel like they can skip it by feeding the fish foods from a human diet, such as bread and rice. It does not work that way. While some fish will try to eat whatever you give to them if they are starved, they must eat fish food which is high in protein and fat. Carbohydrate from the bread and rice can’t sustain them. They will eventually die of malnutrition.

Oh, I know what you might be thinking now. Please do not feed the fish with any kind of typical human food. No meat, no fruit, no veggie, no grain, please. The only thing you might feed them from your own diet is some raw or cooked plain fish meat with no addictive. But hey, it is just so much easier to get a bottle of fish food since it will last for months.

5. Live Bacteria seeding Product to establish Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle (for new aquarium)
If you are setting up a new aquarium, it is uncycled. Once there is a fish in the fish tank, ammonia is constantly produced. In a well-established aquarium, there are lots of good bacteria feeding on the toxic ammonia. An uncycled aquarium will have ammonia quickly build up and kill the fish. It usually takes weeks to over a month to build up the necessary quantity of good bacteria. In most cases, fish will be long dead before a new aquarium is fully cycled.

Fortunately, commercially available live bacteria products have made life so much easier to cycle a new aquarium.

6. An aquarium heater
Most fish species in the aquarium trade is in fact tropical fish. Unless you live in a tropical area yourself, you must get an aquarium heater for your aquarium. It will keep the water temperature constant and it will automatically turn itself off once it has reached the targeted temperature.

Very few fish in the aquarium trade does not need a heater. Goldfish is one of them.


7. An Aquarium Air Pump

In most cases, an aquarium air pump is a must for promoting gas exchange between the water and atmosphere. Without it, the fish won’t get enough oxygen. They will die.
There are exceptions. When you use a hang on the back power filter, the waterfall from the filter outflow already creates enough surface movement. As a result, you do not need the air pump if your filter creates a waterfall.

Non-essential Aquarium equipment and Supplies.

You do not absolutely need them, but they can make your life easier and your aquarium better looking.

8. An Aquarium hood or canopy
Many fish species can jump out of the water on occasions. Without a canopy, there is always the possibility your beloved fish might jump to their own demise. Better safe than sorry. Have a canopy will not only avoid an unfortunate accident, it can also slow the evaporation of water. In the case of a tropical aquarium, a canopy can slow the release of heat. As a result, it cost less electricity to keep the water warm as the heater does not need to switch itself on as often.

Most aquarium canopy also comes with the light fixture. While the fish do not really need lights to live happily after, it makes the viewing easier with lights on. Not to mention that live plants require adequate lights in order to survive if you prefer planted aquarium.

9. An Aquarium Stand
If you do not have strong enough furniture with a smooth surface and suitable height, you might need an aquarium stand to put the fish tank on. Not only it makes the aquarium look nicer, it will make the aquarium safer. It is not a good idea to put the heavy but fragile fish tank on something that might break. It is even a worse idea to put the fish tank on the floor. Not only you can’t view the fish from a normal angle, but you might also accidentally break it by kicking it or have something fall on it.

An aquarium stand can also be used to hide the external filter, other equipment, and supplies for easy access.

10. Aquarium gravel or substrate
While most fish can live in a bare bottom aquarium just fine, some fish might become stressed and shy when the bottom of the fish tank is unnatural to them. Some fish species such as corydoras catfish love to dig around the substrate. They do better with fine, soft substrate. Since it can show their natural behavior.

Getting suitable gravel or substrate for your aquarium will also make your aquarium better looking.

In the case of having a planted aquarium, the importance of choosing the right substrate is related to the success or failure of the plants.

11. An aquarium gravel vacuum
A gravel vacuum comes in handy for aquarium maintenance. You can use it to do a partial water change for your aquarium. Since you can use it to suck the way out of the fish tank, it can also remove debris such as fish poop from the bottom of the fish tank at the same time. Without it, you might find it much harder to do partial water changes and to keep the fish tank clean.

12. A Fishnet
A fishnet comes in handy when you try to remove some floating debris from the fish tank. It might be leftover fish food, or algae, or even a dead fish. No need to get your hands wet when you have a fishnet.

13. Aquarium Decorations
Aquarium decorations are mostly for us to see. However, some shy fish species can really use some hiding places in the aquarium. It just makes them feel safer. As a result, they will display more of their natural behavior since they know there are places they can retreat to.

Artifical plants, rocks, caves, tree logs, castle, or even live plants can all make great decorations.
lease make sure whatever you put in your aquarium are made for aquarium use. Some nonaquatic decorations are known to leak chemicals which can harm your fish. Buy aquatic specific decorations only.

Conclusion:
We have covered the list of top essential and nonessential aquarium equipment and supplies for setting up a home aquarium. Be sure to get everything on the list of essential items unless you fit the mentioned exceptions. Without them, the fish can’t survive. If your budget does not allow, please save up for every one of them instead of going ahead without getting the full list. Your fish’s life is depended on them.

As for the non-essential aquarium equipment an supplies, it is up to you. If you have the budget, go for it. They will just make your aquarium more complete, safer for the fish, easier for you to maintain. If you are on a tight budget, you may skip on the non-essential items. Get them when you can.

Aquarium Fish Compatibility and Incompatibility

Fish compatibility and incompatibility are often overlooked when it comes to fish choices for a home aquarium.

Most people just get whatever fish they want and put them into the same fish tank and be done with it. It can have potential consequences due to compatibility issues. Some fish should not be in the same fish tank. When the wrong species or incompatible fish are in the same fish tank, it can cause unnecessary stress to the fish, with the potential risk of injuries or even deaths.

Since there are thousands of fish species in the aquarium trade, we can’t discuss them all in one article. In the following, we will list some examples and give everyone a basic idea of what this compatibility issue is about.

Same species incompatibility
Most people know we can’t put two male betta fish in the same fish tank because they will likely to fight to the death. People call them Siamese fighter fish after all. It is less known that even two female betta fish should not be in the same fish tank either. While it doesn’t happen all the time, some female betta fish can be just as aggressive as a male. In rare cases, female betta fish have even killed male betta fish. Thus, a male and a female are not compatible either except for the short window of the breeding season. Even then, you have to be careful and pay attention to their behaviors closely. Separate them as soon as there is a sign of aggression.

Some fish like most species of gourami are generally aggressive toward their own kind as well. They are after all the relatives of betta fish. Not even a male and female can be housed together. I would highly recommand not to have more than one gourami in the same fish tank.

German Blue Ram are generally peaceful fish. They can be aggressive toward their own kind when it comes to breeding rights. If you have more than one pair in the same fish tank that is not large enough, the two pairs might fight over territory for a breeding ground. In some less common cases, one male might try to take both females which makes the two males being aggressive toward each other.

The following video is a “fight” between two pairs of German Blue Ram over the breeding ground. They both want that big flat rock to lay eggs. While it might be fun to watch for some people, you do not want such aggression in your tank as a daily routine. It is stressful for the fish and it can cause injuries and deaths.

The peaceful German Blue Ram can also be aggressive toward other fish in the same tank when they are trying to defend their nest. They will attack any fish get close to their eggs. In such case, a separate breeding tank might be necessary if you do not have a large enough tank with relatively low fish density.

Inter-species incompatibility

One example is, Gourami and betta are also relatives. We should not put them in the same fish tank either. They are likely to be aggressive toward each other.

In general, it is not recommended to house any fish species that occupy the same water level as betta fish in a betta tank. While most people think the infamous Siamese fighter fish will be the aggressor, it is not necessarily the case. Since domesticated betta fish are the result of selective breeding, they have longer fin than their wild counterpart. A lot of fish species including generally peaceful tetra are nippers. Fish with longfin make the perfect target for nipping. Slow moving betta fish is more likely to be the victim in a tank full of fast-moving nippy fish.

There are some people keeping multiple female betta fish in a community tank and claim it is fine. While it might be fine for now, it is a ticking time bomb. All it takes for everything is fine to become not fine is one accident. You may try at your own risk, I would not recommend it.

Schooling fish compatibility
While there is the incompatibility issue, there is also this minimal compatibility issue. There are many schooling fish. When you decide to get schooling fish, you should get a school of them instead of just one or a few. In most cases, schooling fish species require minimal 5~6 of them to be in the same fish tank. They feel safer in number, and they are more likely to show their natural behavior when interacting with their own species. If the minimum number is not met, they are likely to be shy, inactive, and stressed.

Examples of schooling fish are most species of tetra, such as Neon Tetra, Cardinal Tetra. There are also corydoras, rasboras, etc.

When you decide to get schooling fish, the more you get the better. As long as you do not overstock your fish tank, the fish will enjoy the larger number.

Environmental compatibility

There are thousands of fish species from all over the world. The natural environment which they came from is obviously not the same. While most fish can adapt to certain changes if given them time to acclimate, some changes should never happen.

Example: Goldfish lives in cold water. Tropical fish lives in warm water. In captivity, tropical fish require an aquarium heater to keep the water warm, usually around 72~82F depend on the species. Obviously, goldfish should not be in the same fish tank as tropical fish. They do not belong in the same environment. You should either have an aquarium heater, or you do not. You can’t satisfy both fish at the same time if they are in the same fish tank.

Make sure your aquarium does not have any compatibility issue is one important step closer to have a perfect aquarium at home. To avoid any issue, it is the best to do research on the each individual fish species you plan to get. Including their natural environment and behaviors. Ask questions online if you are not sure about the compatibility.

13 Most Common Mistakes of Aquarium Fish Keeping

Aquarium fish keeping is one of the most popular hobbies around the world. While it is not the top choice for pet owners in term of how many households own them, they are in fact the most numerous. The number of pet fish exceeds all the other pet species in comparison since most people who have aquarium fish do not keep just one fish.

Partially due to their sheer number, aquarium fish are also the most likely to die due to poor care. Since they are among the cheapest pets to keep, people often do not pay enough attention to their actual needs. A lot of beginners can avoid fish losses if they understand the basics. To do so, a lot of misconceptions require correction.

The following is a list of common false beliefs for aquarium fish keeping among the general population

1. Fish is easy to keep
Sure, it is easy to keep aquarium fish are easy after we have learned all the basics. Please do not think for a moment that a beginner can keep pet fish live long enough to the full extent of their natural lifespan without doing a little research first. On the average, fish die to all kinds of unnatural causes within a few weeks after people bought them.

Solution: Please do some research on how to take care of pet fish before you even start on ordering anything. It is not complex at all, but you still must learn it first. You can start learning all the basics by reading the articles on aquarium fish care in our library section. Feel free to ask any question.

2. Fish is hard to keep
Some people think fish will die easily no matter what they do. Some others think there are too many troubles and unknown involved in fish keeping. Such as water changes.

Not really. Fish are generally easy to keep if you have done your homework first. You only need to do partial water change once a week for a well-maintained fish aquarium. It certainly beats walking your dog every day or so if your have limited time.

Solution: Try to learn everything before you buy the fish. It will be a painful lesson in most cases if you do it in a reversed order.

3. Fish makes a good pet for children
Yes and No. Under most circumstances, even adults have no idea what they are doing when it comes to having aquarium fish for the first time. Let alone kids. Without the guidance of an adult who knows what he or she is doing, you are basically sentencing the fish to die by allowing a kid to take care of it.

Solution: First, at least one adult in the household should have the full knowledge on how to properly taking care of aquarium fish. And then this adult can show the kid how to do it. You can easily achieve it by doing what was said in #1. Then you need to have the kid to follow the guidelines if he or she wants fish as a pet. Only when all these conditions are met, fish is indeed a good pet project for kids.

4. Pet fish is cheap to have.
Yes and no.
While most pet fish are not expensive, all the mandatory equipment you must buy will cost a lot more than the fish. But of course, it will also depend on how many fish and what species of fish you buy. Price varies a lot between different fish species available in the aquarium trade. While the whole fish keeping hobby is fairly cheap compared to keeping most other pets, it certainly cost more than most beginners think.

The fish tank is not the only thing you must have for keeping fish at home. Other things such as aquarium filter, aquarium water conditioner, fish food, are mandatory. An aquarium heater is also mandatory if you plan to get tropical fish. You also need an air pump if otherwise there is not enough surface movement to promote gas exchange between the water and atmosphere.

Solution: Once again we must refer to the importance of #1. Do your research, get to know everything you must buy in order to set up an aquarium at home, and why you need them. Then do the math, and come up with a good estimation of the total cost. See what kind of setup your budget allows, or if your budget allows the hobby at all.

5. Fish is a pet you can buy and bring home whenever you want them.

Sorry, it can’t be more wrong. Fish is a special case amongst pets. You can’t just decide to buy fish on the spot and expect them to live for more than a few weeks. Since they can’t live outside a well-established aquarium, you must provide a suitable home for them before bringing them home.

Solution: What you need to do is to have everything set up and running first. This goes back to #1 again. After you have done research on the topics, you must make a list of mandatory items for the hobby. Once you have ordered and received all these must-have items, they need to be set up and running first long before you get the fish.

6. Size does not matter when it comes to a fish tank.
This is false. While it is true that you can get any size of the fish tank you want, it is only feasible under one condition – The tank meets the minimum required size. In general, anything less than 5 US gallons does not have enough water in it to keep stable temperature, PH, hardness along with many other things. Fish do not like fluctuation in water conditions. It can shock and even kill them.

Solution: The bigger is better. The bigger the fish tank is, the easier it is to maintain stable water conditions. However, you do not need to go overboard with it. In case you just want one or a few small tropical fish, then a 5 to 10-gallon tank will do just fine. But no less than a 5-gallon please if you are serious about keeping aquarium fish. It will keep your fish alive and healthy, and save yourself some maintenance trouble at the same time.

7. Fish can be brought home as soon as everything is set up and running. Or, in some cases people believe in letting the aquarium sit for a few days will do the trick.

False. This alone kills most fish in the hobby for beginners.
A newly set up aquarium does not have the necessary good bacteria colony required for aquarium nitrogen cycle. All fish will produce ammonia in the form of fish waste. Along with all the other rotting organic matters including leftover fish food, the tank water will be too toxic for the fish to live within weeks or even in just days. Naturally occurring nitrogen cycle must be established in the aquarium before you put any fish in. No amount of “let it sit” will do a thing until you have learned how to start the nitrogen cycle.

Solution: Please read more on Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle. Learn how to do a fishless cycling. You can only introduce the fish to an aquarium once it is fully cycled.

8. Goldfish are easy to take care of
Not really. Goldfish is one of the most common aquarium fish people keep at home. Contrary to popular belief, their needs are not “easy” to meet. It is not because they are delicate fish. Rather, they have higher demands on fish tank size, filter power, and the level of maintenance required than most other fish. Common goldfish require minimal 40 gallons for just one, and 55 gallons for two. Fancy goldfish require minimal 20 gallons for one, and 30 gallons for two. They will grow a lot bigger than most pet fish in the hobby. They also eat a lot and poop a lot, which will require more efficient filter as well as more maintenance to keep the aquarium in excellent condition.

Solution: You can meet their high demand by getting large enough fish tank and higher rated aquarium filter system. Or you are better off getting something smaller and less demanding. P.S. Please never bring a goldfish home from a fair or festival, unless you have a well-established goldfish tank at home with extra room to spare.

9. We can use tap water for fish aquarium by letting it sit for a day or two.
Wrong! Tap water has chlorine and chloramine in it. Both can kill the fish. While chlorine might be released into the atmosphere after a day or two, chloramine is a lot more stable and it is not going anywhere. No amount of let the tap water sit will fix the problem.

Solution: Treat the tap water with any of the commercially available aquarium water conditioners. It will remove the chlorine and chloramine instantly and make the water safe for fish.

10. We can put any kind of fish in the same fish tank.
Wrong! Fish compatibility is an important fact to the well-being or even life and death of the fish. Some people mix up goldfish in a tropical aquarium, and vice versa. Other people put multiple betta fish or gourami in the same fish tank.

There is also the problem with aggression between certain fish species. Betta fish, for example, should be housed alone. Gourami too, as a relative of betta fish, they do not like their own species in the same fish tank. When there is more than just one, they will be aggressive toward each other which can cause injuries and even deaths.

Solution: Do not mix up tropical fish with non-tropical fish. The former must have an aquarium heater unless you live in a tropical area. The latter do not need a heater. Do some research on the individual fish species you plan to get. Learn about their compatibility and their behaviors before making the decision on what fish to get.

11. 100% of the water and the fish can be taken out of the fish tank during a water change.
Never remove 100% the water! Unstable water conditions can shock and kill the fish. If you change 100% of the water, the temperature, PH, hardness, etc. of the new water will certainly be different. It is dangerous for the fish who cannot regulate their body temperature like us.

Solution: Do not take the fish out of the fish tank. Only do a partial water change of 30~50% as a part of the regular maintenance. You may change up to 70% or even a little more if you do it on a weekly basis. As well as you have made sure the new water temperature is really close to the water temperature in the fish tank.

12. Fish can eat what we eat.
Wrong. Fish are different from humans. While humans can use carbohydrate efficiently used for energy, most fish species can’t make good use of it. Most fish need protein and fat. Their digestive system is very different as well. They might not be able to digest a lot of the food we eat. Do not feed them rice or bread or anything like that from our regular diet.

Solution: Do not go cheap on fish food. Please get commercially available fish food for fish. A single bottle can last for months, and it is totally worth it.

13. Feed fish multiple times a day
Overfeeding is one of the top problems contributed to fish deaths. Unlike us, fish do not need to regulate their own body temperature. They do not need a lot of energy to stay alive. They can totally live happily after with just one meal per day or even one meal every two days. More food is not better. Not only some fish might die from digestive problems when you overfeed them, the extra food will just pollute the water by creating more ammonia. Fish can die of ammonia poisoning. Sure, a lot of fish food bottles have instruction on them saying “feeding three times a day”. They just want you to go through the bottle quicker, so you will need to give them more money sooner.

Solution: Just feed your fish once a day. With no more food than they can finish within a minute or less. You should not see any leftover, or you must cut back on the portion size.

Conclusion: Aquarium fish keeping hobby has a lot of misconceptions. They have contributed to the fish losses for the beginners and discouraged them from trying again after the failure. Thorough research is required before getting into the aquarium fish hobby. It prevents most of the potential problems. There are certainly more of the wrong impressions and common mistakes, but we will leave it for another day.

The best aquarium water conditioner

What is a water conditioner?
An aquarium water conditioner is also known as a dechlorinator or a chlorine neutralizer. It is a mandatory aquarium supply as long as you use tap water in your fish tanks. The primary purpose of the aquarium water conditioner is to remove the chlorine and chloramines from the tap water and to make it safe for the fish.

What are Chlorine and Chloramine?
Chlorine and chloramine are used in tap water for disinfection. While they are harmless to humans, both can be lethal to fish. Traditionally, the tap water would become safe for aquarium use by just letting it sit in a bucket for a day or two. It is because chlorine is highly unstable with a half-life of approximate 4 hours. Most of it will be released into the air after just one day. Nowadays there is also chloramine in the tap water because it is said to be better at disinfection than chlorine. Chloramine is a much more stable compound and it is not going anywhere until you use a water conditioner to neutralize it.

Commercialized aquarium water conditioners

Most aquarium water conditioner comes in the form of liquid in a bottle. They are fairly cheap and easy to use. You can find them in all the pet stores as long as they sell aquarium fish.

Since there are many different brands of aquarium water conditioners out there, some new fish keepers might have a hard time to decide which one to use. Sometimes it can even be confusing which product is a water conditioner, because there are so many other aquarium supplies in the forum of liquid in a bottle. Here is a quick way to identify it. If an aquarium product does not mention the removal of chlorine and chloramines on the bottle, then it is not an aquarium water conditioner.

All of the aquarium water conditioners have the very same basic purpose – to neutralize chlorine and chloramines in the tap water. Some of them have other secondary functions. Such as the remove of heavy metal, the detoxification of ammonia and nitrite, etc. all of which can come in handy in certain situations.

The following is a list of the most popular aquarium water conditioners currently available on the market.

#1 – SeaChem Prime
Prime has a useful secondary function. It can detoxify ammonia and nitrite for up to 48 hours. During these 48 hours, the toxic ammonia is temporary turned into the harmless ammonium. It can be very useful for new aquariums where the aquarium nitrogen cycle hasn’t been established yet. Just keep doing partial water changes with Prime every day or every other day if there is ammonia and nitrite in your aquarium. By doing so, you can minimize the damage to your fish even in an uncycled aquarium. SeaChem also claims their product can provide fish with natural slim coat and detoxify heavy metal in the water.

Dosage: Use one teaspoon of Prime for every 50 gallons of water.
(1mL treats 10 gallon of tap water)

#2 – Kordon NovAqua+
NovaAqua+ can also remove heavy metal from the water. The manufacturer claims it can help condition water by buffering tap water and adding electrolytes. The product can also provide a protective coat. It is said to be able to reduce toxicity of nitrite by blocking the intake of nitrite by aquarium fish. Additional features including the ability to aid nitrifying bacteria in the filter by creating a slime coat in the filter media, and add some beneficial organic herbs and vitamins.

Dosage: Use one teaspoon of NovaAqua+ for every 10 gallons of water.
(1mL treats 2 gallons of water)

#3 – Hikari Ultimate
Ultimate is able to remove ammonia, detoxify nitrite, and replace skin slime coat for reducing fish stress. It can also add essential electrolytes and remove heavy metal to the aquarium water.

Dosage: Use One teaspoon of Ultimate for every 10 gallons of water.
(1mL treats 2 gallons of water)

#4 – API Stress Coat+
Stress Coat+ is another widely used aquarium water conditioner. It can remove heavy metal, detoxify ammonia and nitrite, creating slime coat for fish, and to add electrolytes.

Dosage: Use one teaspoon of Stress Coat for every 10 gallons of tap water.
(1mL treats 2 gallons of tap water)

#5 – Tetra Aquasafe
AquaSafe is a very basic aquarium water conditioner with the least secondary features. It has the ability to create slime coat to help wounds and the healing of fish, and it can protect the fish from abrasions. There is another enhanced version called AquaSafe+ BioExtract with the ability to removing heavy metal from the water.

Dosage: Use one teaspoon of AquaSafe for every 10 gallons of tap water.
(1mL treats 2 gallons of tap water)


The best aquarium water conditioner

All of the water conditioners can neutralize chlorine and chloramines in the tap water just fine. They are all good products. There is not much difference since more or less they all have the very similar chemical makeup. Their secondary functions are not as important. Amongst all the current water conditioners on the market, SeaChem Prime has the highest concentration, and thus making it the most cost effective.

Best Water for Aquarium Fish

To start a home aquarium, we must decide on what water to use for fish. Since fish are live animals, they are just like us requiring clean and ideal environment in order to stay healthy. Unlike us, the fish are much more fragile creatures. They can die fairly easy if we give them the wrong water.

Most people will agree on fish need clean water, but what is the definition of clean? Some people will think if the water look and smell clean it must be clean. The fact is that many of the chemical substances can’t be seen or even be detected by the smell. The number one fish killer in home aquariums is ammonia, followed by nitrite and chlorine / chloramine. They are all colorless, and you can’t smell them at low concentration.

Let’s get to the point.
What are the choices of water for the aquarium fish?

#1 – Tap water
In most cases, the water from your tap is the perfect choice for freshwater aquarium fish as long as you use an aquarium water conditioner with it.

Tap water is available at home to most of us, and it is the easiest and one of the cheapest sources of water you can use for home aquariums. If you are starting a freshwater aquarium, tap water will be perfectly fine unless you are absolutely certain the tap water in your area is of horrible quality.

One thing the beginner fish owners must pay attention to is that the tap water has chlorine and in some cases chloramine in it. These two substances can kill the fish and they must be neutralized before the tap water is safe to use in an aquarium. While chlorine can be easily removed by just letting the water sit for a day or two, chloramine is much more stable and you must use an aquarium water conditioner to get rid of it.

#2 – Well water
For some people who have access to well water, it is another choice for using in a home aquarium. However, one thing you must pay attention to is the water hardness. Due to the underground nature of well water, it has a lot of dissolved minerals in it which makes the water quite hard. Although most fish can adapt to a wide range of water perimeters if given time, water hardness is one of the things the fish has the hardest time to get used to. Research well on the fish species you plan to get. If they are from soft water environment, it is advised not to use well water for them.

#3 – Lake or river water
The water from a lake or a river is certainly a source of water. It seems natural to use it since there are fish in them. However, most aquarium hobbyists are against the use of such water. Not only you run the risk of having industrial pollution in the water, but there are also potential fish parasites and diseases from the wild. This source of water is not recommended.

#4 – Rain water
Some of the people might think rain water is clean when they live far away from the cities. The truth is that the pollution can affect a much larger area than you think. It is not a good or even safe source of water at all for aquarium fish.

#5 – Bottled water
If you are absolutely certain your tap water quality is horrible, the bottled drinking water is another choice. It will cost a lot more, and you will have to pay attention to the ingredient on what is in the bottled water. Some of them might not be just H2O and they can have additives which can be deadly to the fish.

#6– Reverse Osmosis (RO) water
The processes of creating RO water got rid of all the substances, which make it 100% pure H2O. You can obtain RO water by getting a RO unit. Some of the marine fish stores also sell RO water for fairly cheap prices.

RO water is pure, which means it has absolutely nothing else in it besides H2O. It can be potentially dangerous in an aquarium where the slightest change can cause the PH to crash due to there is no dissolved minerals acting as a buffer.

Important: If you decide to use RO water for a freshwater aquarium, you must add buffer back into the water before using it for aquarium. This can be done easily by using commercial available aquarium water buffer products such as SeaChem Replenish.

The advantage of using RO water is that it is truly clean with nothing harmful in it for the fish. More importantly, you can choose your own water hardness by adding different amount of water buffer. It enables you the option to create the most ideal environment for your specific fish species.

The best water for aquarium fish is tap water
While the best water of choice in term of quality and for fish health might be RO water if you are willing to take the extra cost and trouble, it does have its downside. Since you have to add buffer back into the water every time before using it, you have to make sure you rebuff the water with exactly the same hardness every time or your fish will be in shock or even die because of the sudden change.

Tap water is the most recommended aquarium water of choice for freshwater fish. It is also cheaper than RO water. The benefits from RO water is not really necessary unless you have a saltwater aquarium, or if your tap water is terribly low quality. There are other times when the use of RO is necessary in a freshwater aquarium. It is when the tap water in your area has extreme PH (too high or too low), or when the tap water is too hard, or when there is excessive amount of nitrate right out of the tap. Otherwise, the tap water and a bottle of aquarium water conditioner are good enough.

Where to put an aquarium

Everyone has to decide where to put an aquarium before setting it up. It might seem simple, but in reality there is more to it than just set up an aquarium at where you want to see your pet fish. The location of where to put a fish tank is very important for the overall health of the aquarium system. It is not just for the pet fish, but it is also for your own good too.

Top ten places where you should not put a fish tank

1. A fish tank should never be located where it can receive direct sunlight or excessive strong daylight.
All new aquarium hobbyists will run into algae problem one way or another. One of the leading causes for annoying algae growth in a fish tank is excessive lighting. Too long period of light or too strong lighting can both be the problem. Having a fish aquarium under direct sunlight is asking for an algae boom. You are also risking overheating and temperature fluctuations for the aquarium water and both can be lethal for the aquarium fish.

2. A fish aquarium should not be too close to an air conditioning or radiator.
The fish tank requires stable water temperature for the health of pet fish. Being too close to an air conditioning or a radiator can cool off or heat up the water temperature too quickly. It is very unhealthy for the fish and it can even kill them if the temperature change is too large too quickly.

3. A fish tank should not be located near a door.
Water transmits shock wave much stronger than air. If an aquarium is near a door where it is frequently opened and shut, the fish can be scared quite often. It is not good for their healthy if they are constantly scared.

4. Do not put a fish tank larger than 10 gallons on the top of a desk or on other furniture not designed for holding an aquarium.
Water is very heavy. A small 10 gallon fish tank can hold as much as over 70 pounds of water. Combined with the weight of the fish tank, equipments, gravels, it can be well over 100 pounds. It is good idea to use a strong aquarium stand instead of other furniture.

5. Do not to put an aquarium in the center of a large room.
It is the best to put an aquarium near a wall or in a corner where the floor is better supported. Unless you are absolutely sure the floor is strong enough, or if the fish tank is small and light, it should not be in the middle of a room where the walls are far away. Even the small to medium sized fish tank can be hundreds of pounds in total weight. Having the floor collapsing is not funny.

6. Do not set up a fish tank on the floor.
Even if you are fine with observing the fish in a top-down position, it is still not recommended to have the aquarium on the floor level. It is very easy for someone accidentally kick the fish tank or have something falls into it. It is also harder for water change with gravel vacuum.

7. Do not set up an aquarium too close to a TV or speakers.
The flashing of a TV screen and the loud sound from the speakers can be such a bother to the fish. Stressed fish won’t be healthy fish.

8. Do not set up an aquarium directly above an electrical outlet or power strip.
Better safe than sorry. Since aquariums hold so much water, you do not want water get too close to the electricity. Although you will need access to electricity for the filter, heater, and other aquarium electrical equipments, it is a good idea to have the fish tank set up at least a foot away from a wall outlet, and any power strip should not be on the floor level near the tank.

9. Do not set up a fish tank too far away from where you can access clean water.
Regular maintenance of a healthy aquarium requires weekly partial water change. To be close to a water tap can mean less stress on you to carry all the heavy water back and forth.

10. Do not set up an aquarium where nobody can see.
Despite the best care, accidents and unexpected can happen. You want to be the first one to notice if there is anything wrong with your precious aquarium fish. It is a good idea to set up the aquarium where you can frequently see without going there specifically for this purpose. So you can do something about it on the first sign of trouble.

Where to put an aquarium requires careful considerations in order to choose a perfect spot for both you and the pet fish to enjoy for long term. For large sized home aquariums, their locations can be relatively permanent since it is troublesome to move them around later on. Think carefully before you act!