Setting Up A New Aquarium

It’s an all to common occurrence, a new aquarist gets this brilliant idea to rush out and buy a new aquarium, set it up, and go straight to adding fish. This new aquarist has a beautiful new aquarium for about a week and then it happens, the aquarium begins to cycle and the fish begin to die. Before long this aquarist is discouraged and has given up, packed up the aquarium, and now it’s sitting in a closet waiting on warmer weather so it can be sold in garage sale. Sadly, all of this could have been avoided if they had just done a little bit of planning.

Since your reading this article, I’m going to assume that you are making the right decision and doing your homework before you rush into a new aquarium. The first thing you need to do is sit down with a pencil and paper and plan out what you want to achieve with this aquarium; will it be fresh or salt water, and what type of inhabitants do you want. Once you have determined that, you should get books and do research on the Internet to determine what is involved in caring for the particular type of aquarium that you are interested in. While you are doing this research, you should take note of any specific types of equipment that are mentioned as being important for a particular type of aquarium.

Once you have done some basic research on aquariums and specific types of fish (or invertebrates,) you can begin to visit local aquarium stores and obtain prices on the necessary equipment. You should find a dealer who is willing to spend time with you and help you to determine exactly what fits your needs. If the dealer only seems interested in your money and doesn’t seem to care about getting you set up with an aquarium that suits your needs, move on to a different store that will be more helpful as you pursue your new hobby.

By now you should be forming a general idea of what equipment this new aquarium will require and what kind of budget it will take to set it up. When you are confident that you have decided what aquarium and equipment you need, you can begin purchasing them. Don’t, however, buy fish for this new aquarium. After you set the aquarium up it will undergo a chemical cycle that can be very stressful and often deadly to the fish. Use a chemical test kit (can be purchased at any fish store) to determine when it is safe to purchase fish. As a rule of thumb for the marine aquarium, wait until ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels have fallen to zero before adding any fish. Once the chemicals in your aquarium have reached safe levels then proceed cautiously in adding fish. Start with more hardy fish, watch to insure their good health in the new aquarium, and then slowly proceed to more fragile fish.

As a new aquarist it will be hard to resist the urge to jump off into the hobby head first, but the reward will be well worth the wait. Do your homework first, proceed with caution, and then enjoy the rewards.

Good Luck.
© Jesse B. Hunt