Setting up an Aquarium
When setting up an aquarium one must consider many factors, such as the time involved in setting it up, the regular maintenance involved and the minor setbacks which a novice often finds himself up against. Then again, one must not be discouraged by these factors but not ignore them altogether. Keeping an aquarium doesn’t require any special skills but does require meticulousness, patience and utmost care.
The size of the aquarium depends on the hobbyist and his circumstances. Small as well as large aquariums look attractive and can be made to suit all sorts of needs. When buying a tank one must decide the size and place where it is to be kept. The surface on which the tank is to be kept must be flat and a sheet of thermocol is to be placed on it. This is done to regulate the pressure at the bottom and prevent the tank from cracking. The table or stand on which the tank is to be placed must be sturdy as the weight of the tank increases tremendously when it is filled with water.
Locating the aquarium
- Never place an aquarium in direct sunlight or close to an open fire.
- A large aquarium can be neatly tucked away in an alcove, provided that the floorboards and joists beneath are strong enough to bear its weight.
- Aquaria can be attractively located in a natural recess, such as an old fireplace.
- Aquaria make unusual room dividers. Never place an aquarium in a draught from an open door or window.
- Avoid sitting a tank in a busy thoroughfare, to protect it from knocks and vibrations.
Generally, most aquarists use golden or fairly dark colored sand. Sand of 3mm diameter is generally used, fine sand is not used as it tends to become too compact and plants cannot spread their roots in this kind of a substrate. Sand if got directly from the river or even bought from a store must be washed thoroughly and all the dirt and other scum must be removed. The sand must be now spread evenly in a slope with the more elevated side at the back and the lower side to the front. If one chooses to use an under–gravel filter one must be careful to cover the filter completely with the sand. Otherwise normally about 2 to 3.5 inches of sand should be put. The sand if being used along with live plants must be placed down not too compactly as the plant’s roots will not be able to propagate. The sand if used along with an under–gravel filter it must be compact enough to hold the dirt. Care must be taken to see that the sand is not sharp as it may cut or injure the fish.
After the sand has been put in the aquarium next one could introduce the plants. Plants are often difficult or often not quite suitable as they may die, wilt or rot soon. Plastic plants are available in most stores that look absolutely real and are even long lasting.
These plants require no maintenance and never die. Of course, these plants can never achieve the beauty of natural plants. They are good to start with and once the hobbyist decides to take up a new challenge, real plants would be a better idea. Plants like Cryptocoryne are quick growing and are best suited for a new tank. Other plants like the Cabomba spp. are good oxygenerators and also grow quickly. The Giant Sagitaria (sagittaria latifolia) grows quickly and forms a dense thicket providing adequate cover for young fish. The Riccia flu tans is a pretty floating moss that not only provides shade but also acts as food for herbivorous fishes. It is preferable to start off with a collection of fast and slow growing types as once the aquarium is established the fast growing plants can be removed and the more desirable, slow growing plants can be left.
Once the sand and the plants have been chosen you can work on the layout. This layout must be attractive as well as practicable for both the hobbyist and the fishes. At the same time, the layout must look natural and things like heaters or filters can be hidden by manipulating the layout. For such purposes Bog wood, stones and thick plants can be used. Of course, the best method to learn this is by trial and error and one must remember that the layout can be changed easily.
A few golden rules to be remembered when arranging the layout are as follows:
- Never overcrowd the tank.
- Always try and avoid symmetry.
- Try and create a layout which has varying depths, textures, sizes and colors.