As most fish owners will tell you owning pet fish can bring a lot of joy to your life. Of all the pets available fish are pretty low-maintenance, but there are still some key facts you need to know to take care of your fish properly. Whether you’re looking to find pet stores near me that sell fish or are wanting some top tips on how to set up and maintain a healthy aquarium then you have come to the right place as this article has everything you need to know about becoming an aquarium owner.
Check out our ‘fish store near me’ finder below to find your nearest freshwater fish stores near me, saltwater fish stores near me, fish aquarium near me as well as stores that will stock all of the accessories you need to set up your fish tank.
How to start a saltwater aquarium
You may be interested in having a saltwater aquarium as opposed to a freshwater aquarium. There are some differences in set up and maintenance between these two types of aquarium but once you’ve got your head around it a saltwater aquarium can be set up by a beginner. Here are some things you need to know before deciding to start a saltwater aquarium:
- Saltwater aquariums are more expensive: if you opt for a saltwater aquarium be warned that they are pricier than their freshwater counterpart. This is because you need to purchase additional equipment in order to maintain the water. Whereas freshwater aquariums can suffice with a regular filter, you will also need to purchase a protein skimmer which will help to keep the nitrate levels low in the saltwater.
- Maintenance is harder: all fish tanks should have their water partially renewed weekly, however, for a saltwater tank this is a more time-consuming process as you will need to prepare the salt water in advance (a couple of days beforehand) before you can do this. Another maintenance factor to consider before choosing a saltwater aquarium is that they are more prone to algae than freshwater tanks.
- More choice: a real benefit of choosing a saltwater aquarium is that you will have a greater choice when it comes to selecting your fish as well as invertebrates for your tank. The only downside of this is that some saltwater fish require more complicated diets and will not survive on the average fish flakes. Make sure you consider this potentially time-consuming and expensive prospect before selecting fish that require a specialist diet.
What you need to know before buying pet fish
Before committing to becoming a pet fish owner there are some considerations you need to think about fist. For instance, do you have the time and the patience to feed your fish every day and to clean the fish tank regularly? If it is your children that have requested a pet fish make sure you think about whether they will actually look after them (or whether it will be you shouldering the task). While fish are low-maintenance they still require adequate consideration and care.
Another factor to consider is cost. While fish are cheaper than the majority of household pets they still require some initial investment to get everything set up. Depending on the size of the aquarium you want to create the upfront costs will vary. In addition to the tank and fish themselves, there are also other items you will need to purchase such as an aquarium filter, aquarium water conditioner, water heater, gravel, lights, ornaments, plants, and fish food. You also need to make sure you have adequate space for the fish tank you plan on buying as you don’t want to get it home only to find it doesn’t fit!
How to find the right fish store
Finding a reputable store is key to ensuring that you get both healthy fish and the best advice about how to set up your aquarium. You can check a fish store’s reviews online before visiting to see how other customers have found the service and health of the fish. A good fish store will be able to give you helpful advice on which fish are compatible with others, as well as being able to answer questions about how large the fish will grow and how to best care for the fish. If you are not confident with the answers you receive it is best to try another store.
It is also a good idea to check the fish tanks themselves in the pet store as this will indicate how well the store owners are looking after the fish. Check to see if there are any dead fish in the tanks or any fish that have white spots – this will be a telltale sign about the health of the fish and give you an indication of how well cared for the fish have been in the store.
How to set up an aquarium
So, you are now the proud owners of some beautiful fish and it is time to set up your aquarium! But where to start? We show you how with these simple steps:
- Clean everything: even if all of the items you have bought are new it is still worth giving them a good wipe down to remove any dust they have accumulated in the store. We recommend using a damp cloth and avoid using any detergents as these can be harmful to the fish.
- Set the tank in place: the next step is to put your fish tank where it will be based as you do not want to be moving the fish tank after it is all set up. Make sure you have decided on where you want to put it and are happy with your choice before adding the water and the fish
- Add your ornaments and equipment: now is the time to get creative and set up the interior of your aquarium. Tip your gravel in and add any plants, ornaments or air stones that you have bought in an arrangement that looks pleasing to you. This is now the time to add your filter, heater, and lighting if you have them (make sure you don’t turn the filter on until you have added water to the tank).
- Add the water: once you are happy with the layout you can add the water to your tank. It is essential that the water you add has been treated so that chlorine and chloramine have been removed. A water conditioner can be used for this and the amount you need to add will be dependent on the number of gallons of water in your tank.
- Start the nitrogen cycle: once you are confident that the electrical items are safely plugged in you can switch them on and start cycling your tank. This process ensures that the water in the tank is safe to add your fish to by decreasing the levels of ammonia and nitrate. It can take anything from a few days to a few weeks for the nitrogen cycle to complete so make sure you test the water with a nitrate testing kit before you add your fish.
- Add your fish: now the exciting stage of adding your fish has arrived! Fish need some time to acclimatize so it is wise to introduce different types of fish at different times. Speak to the fish store about the best way to acclimatize the fish you have bought and they should have some good advice on introducing the fish to your tank.
How to clean an aquarium
Whether you have a freshwater or a saltwater aquarium there are some basic cleaning rituals that you can follow. The key to a healthy fish tank is regular cleaning and these following steps should be conducted at least once a week. Remember that replacing all of the water in a fish tank is not the way to go as, if you do this, you will remove all of the beneficial bacteria that has built up there over time.
- Prepare your equipment: before commencing the clean you need to make sure you’ve got the right tools for the job. The main things you need are a bucket for the water, an algae pad, and some aquarium glass cleaner. We recommend that all of the tools you use for cleaning your fish tank (including the bucket) are only used for this purpose as you don’t want your fish being contaminated with any other products that you may have used to clean other items.
- Get scrubbing: using your algae pad, give the inside of your fish tank a good scrub. This can be done with the water inside and does an effective job of ensuring that the algae in the tank will not get to unmanageable levels.
- Clean any ornaments: next, take a look inside the tank to see if any of your ornaments or plants are looking particularly algae ridden. The best way to clean these is by using an algae pad which will remove any of the surface debris. If your ornaments are looking particularly dirty you can use bleach to clean them but make sure they are thoroughly rinsed and air dried afterward.
- Clean the gravel: if you’ve been wondering how to clean aquarium gravel then this step may be particularly relevant for you. Aquarium gravel can be cleaned as you siphon out the water from the tank. Between 10-20% of the water should be replaced in the aquarium which enables the tank to stay fresh but not lose the beneficial bacteria inside. As you remove this 10-20% of water using the siphon aim the siphon over the gravel as it pulls the water out. If you have sand instead of gravel in your fish tank and you’re wondering how to clean aquarium sand you can also use the water siphon to do this.
- Add the water: as you have removed 10-20% of the water from the tank this will now need to be replaced. If you have a freshwater aquarium the water you use can be from the tap but take out the required amount from the tap the day before so the chlorine has a chance to evaporate. For saltwater tanks, you will need to prepare this a few days ahead or buy pre-prepared saltwater from the fish store.
How to soften aquarium water
We are not in control of the water that comes from our taps and, for many, living in a hard water area can affect the health of their aquarium. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to soften the water in your fish tank. Think about investing in some water softening pillows which can be added to the filter in your fish tank, other tricks that can be used are adding rain water, adding peat to the filter or placing some driftwood inside the aquarium (but make sure it’s clean first). There are plenty of natural solutions to softening the water in your aquarium which will not harm your fish so all is not lost if you live in a hard water area.
Keeping fish as pets can do wonders for our well-being but being a fish owner comes with some responsibilities. Making sure you find the right fish store to purchase your fish from will ensure that your fish are healthy from the off and then there are numerous ways you can keep your fish in peak condition. Setting up your aquarium properly, and making sure the nitrogen cycle has a chance to complete before adding your fish, will give your fish a good start. Regularly cleaning the tank (whilst maintaining the levels of beneficial bacteria inside) will go a long way in keeping an attractive and healthy tank for your fish to thrive in. While maintaining your tank regularly may seem a daunting task at first it will soon become second nature and your fish will certainly thank you for it!