My favorite way to keep Tropical Fish and Aquariums is to make it as simple and easy as possible. Here are the basic rules to having an Aquarium that is fun, enjoyable and almost effortless to maintain.
Find out what type of water you have, whether it’s hard or soft, acid or alkaline, warm or cold etc, and find some attractive fish that are adaptable to such water conditions. This way you won’t have to constantly treat the new water with additives. This also allows for a more stable environment for the fish. You can find out about your water at your local pet shop or a local fish keeping friend.
Set it up right the first time and then leave it alone. Don’t keep moving things around and fish in and out. And remember every time you add a new fish, you could be introducing some kind of disease, so try to quarantine any new fish, or better yet get the petshop to quarantine them for you (KIS)
Don’t keep big fish with little fish. Big fish have a nasty habit of eating little fish.
Stock it lightly, allow only about 10 small fish (Neon Tetras, Guppies, Zebra Danios) or 5 medium fish (Swordtails Platies,Ruby Barbs) or 2 large fish (Angel Fish, Gouramis) for every ten gallons.
Feed them lightly, You’re not trying to win a fattest hog in the county contest! You’re trying to keep a simple aquarium. Feed only a small pinch of food every day for each 10 gallons of fish. Every time you feed the fish, think of it as adding fish crap to your tank.
Make monthly water changes, with these KIS rules, only a water change of 20% will be needed. See how simple it’s getting?
Get a low maintenance filtering system. Without a doubt, the easiest filtering systems are the under gravel filter or a hang-on-the-back “Bio-Wheel” filter. When combined with the low stocking levels and light feeding schedule such a filter will last for years with no problems at all. Get one of those gravel vacuum hoses to do the water changes, it works!
If you’re not going to keep live plants, then keep the aquarium lights off when no one is home. This will cut down on the algae problems. If you feed the fish right after you turn on the light you will condition them to the sudden light and associate it with something good [food].
If you do keep live plants, get some hardy easy to maintain types such as Java Ferns and/or Sword Plants. They don’t need the high levels of light or special fertilizer that would complicate their upkeep.
After following the KIS rules you should have a nice successful Aquarium. This might cause you to venture into some other more complicated endeavors, like spawning fish and raising fry or having a heavily planted tank with CO2 injection and mega-watt lights, or even [Heaven help you] starting a reef tank for salt water fish and invertebrates. If you do, try to save some space for your KIS tank, so you can remember how easy it can be.
Here are some examples of KIS Fish Tanks
A single male Betta (Siamese Fighting Fish) in a gallon jar, no filter required. What could be simpler?
A 5 gallon tank with a trio of Guppies and a Corydoras catfish —under gravel filter.
A 10 gallon tank with a school of 6 Neon Tetras, a pair of Guppies, a Corydoras catfish and a Java Fern plant — under gravel filter.
A 20 gallon tank with 2 Angel Fish, 3 Clown Loaches and a school of 5 Hatchet Fish with some Java Ferns and Sword Plants and maybe a nice piece of driftwood. This is beautiful.
Or my old 25 gallon Hex tank with 4 Ruby Barbs, 3 Platies, A pair of Guppies, a pair of Corydoras catfish, a school of 6 Neon Tetras and 5 Java Ferns. It might not sound like much but it is beautiful and there’s constant activity. It has a under gravel filter that has been going for over 6 years without a breakdown. And it uses only a single 15 watt light