First of all, make a list of the most important things you need before making a purchase – this way you will not miss anything and avoid unnecessary expenses. Keep this list with you to create a suitable environment in your aquarium.
A tank size of 75 liters or larger is ideal for beginners. If space or finances make this impossible, don’t go below 40 liters and be careful to choose small, hardy fish. Also make sure you have a suitable stand for your aquarium. Water is heavy, and larger aquariums need strong support; they weigh more than a bookcase or cabinet can hold – so you need an aquarium stand.
Should you choose glass or acrylic? Acrylic has many advantages when it comes to kids because it won’t break, weighs less than glass, and won’t distort the image. This is important because children will spend a lot of time looking at the tank from all sides.
On the other hand, acrylic scratches easily and is more expensive than glass. If price is not an issue, definitely purchase an acrylic tank. You don’t have to worry about the aquarium being broken by a stray flying toy.
When it comes to decorations, kids and teens often prefer gravel and decorations in bright colors. While not the natural color of fish habitat, it’s still safe to use colored gravel – just make sure it’s dedicated for use in aquariums. You can choose decor based on your child’s tastes. There are mermaids, divers, dinosaurs or castles available in stores, as well as more natural items such as rocks and caves and even sunken ships that have been created specifically for safe use in aquariums.
Now comes your biggest challenge, as new owners, both young and old, want to fill their finished aquarium as quickly as possible. First of all, remember that fish should never be purchased on the same day as the tank. You should take the aquarium home, set it up, run the filter and lights, dechlorinate and aerate the water, and add beneficial bacteria before letting the fish in. Also install aquarium heaters and set the right temperature for the fish.
It is very important to leave the set up tank for a day or two to stabilize the water temperature. This way you will make sure that everything is working properly even before you add the fish.
Once your aquarium is set up and running properly, it’s time to get some fish. Adding a lot of fish too early and overfeeding them are the most common mistakes new owners make. Only add 2-3 fish to a new aquarium at a time. Wait a week and check if the water quality has deteriorated – this way you will avoid fish death. If the water quality is good, you can add a few more fish. The purchase of more fish for a new aquarium should be spread out over the first 4-6 weeks.
When the tank is ready for fish, discuss your choice of pets with your children. Avoid large or aggressive specimens or those that are difficult to care for. Read aquarium books, magazines or online articles to learn about different species of tropical fish, how big each fish is and which fish can live together. Decide on a few hardy starter fish to choose from before you go to the store, and then see what is available. Ask questions of the store staff to learn more about the fish they have in stock. Be sure to check how big each fish will be so you don’t choose one that will be unsuitable for your new aquarium.
Main photo: Biljana Martinić, source: unsplash.com