Friday 15 September 2017

Amateur Aquatics - Keeping fish - Setting up your first fish tank - Part 1

Fresh water, marine, indoor, outdoor... keeping fish of any species is a hobby shared by millions world wide.

For me it began when I was a small boy obsessing over the tanks my mother kept. However, it Was not until recently that I re-kindled that passion.

I have been watching YouTube videos, reading, generally researching and obsessing about these beautiful creatures of every size, shape and colour imaginable. Long story short I have been driving my friends, family and wife mad with non-stop fish talk.

It's time to give myself an outlet and blog! 

Setting up

As I have began from scratch I am starting with a nano tank only capable of holding a small number of creatures.

The tank

Choosing the talk is entirely down to preference, space and money. I would suggest that if you are starting out, get a smaller one. This is just because keeping fish can be hard work and you don't want to dive in too deep (pun intended) and find out its not for you. 

I have had my fish tank set up for 9 months now and it is fully established. My tank holds 25 litres, is made from acrylic and a cheap one at that from a local pet shop.

The first thing you need to when getting a tank is to wash it down. Give it a good rinse with cold water from the tap but make sure to use no chemicals. The idea is to get rid of all the dust and nastyness that may have landed in packaging, shipping and sitting on the shelf. Any cleaning chemicals are very likely to stick around and harm the inhabitants of the tank.

It is important to leak test your tank next before anything goes in it. I would suggest partially filling the tank bit by bit throughout the day to see if any drips appear. It's also a good idea to leave towels around the tank and leave it over night, if it's all dry the next day your good to go!

You can buy a cheap tank with a starter set up for around £30-40. These are good because they will likely save you some money and get you going on the basics. 

The substrate (gravel)

There are so many different styles so it's almost completely down to preference. However, you will need to keep in mind what fish you want to keep as some prefer finer sand and some gravel etc. The gravel needs to be rinsed thoroughly, again with no cleaning chemicals to rid it of dust and grit.

Once complete you can add to the tank, you won't need more than a couple of centimetres deep and sometimes less is more.


I can't stress how important this is! Adequate filtration allows for the promotion of good bacterial growth and helps keep the nitrates in check etc. I use two for my tank, one is an electronic pump with an internal sponge and the other is a plain sponge filter attached to an airline (you will need an air pump for this). I like to use two even for a small tank as it keeps the water extra clear. 

The other benefit of this is that I can alternate between which filter I clean out when I do a water change. This means less chance of loosing out on that beneficial bacteria. It also means I can slightly overstock my tank (to a certain degree).      

I find that in a small tank, a little filter that will pass through around 150 litres per hour gives enough flow and breaks up the water enough to oxygenate the tank. Coupled with a slow moving sponge filter, I believe we have a winning combination. The filters I use are as follows:

In part 2 I will go though the air pump, heater, filling up your tank and the perfect fish for beginners. Click HERE for part 2.

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