Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tropical Fish Care Options

By Greg E. Johnson

A tank full of lively tropical fish can be a thing of beauty. The vibrantly colored fish and the silent way they glide around in the water can make it the focal point of any room. Watching the fish swim while the filter quietly gurgles can be a very relaxing experience. However, if proper care is not taken of the fish and the tank itself, it can very quickly turn into an eyesore that still attracts the eye but now for all the wrong reasons. Here are some basic guidelines to tropical fish care that will help you get started.

So you have decided that you want a fish tank. Now what. You must decide on the size of the tank that you want and what to put in it. There are many choices of decoration and supplies available, but there are a few absolute necessities. They are the following: gravel, a filtration device, a heat source, and a light.

Take your time when you decide on the color and type of gravel you would like. It will be the single largest thing seen in your tank so you want to be sure to get it right. Think about the room you will be placing it in and the overall theme of the tank. In a child's room, you may want brightly colored gravel while in a living room, you may want to go with the more muted, natural colors.

Filtering systems come in two basic types: those that are placed under the gravel and those that hang on the outside of the tank. Both are equally effective at cleaning the water. Some feel that the one placed under the gravel is a better choice because it cannot be seen, but they are much harder to maintain than the ones on the outside of the tank. In some cases, especially if the tank has many fish in it or is particularly large, you may find that it takes both types to keep the water quality high.

In order to keep your fish healthy, you will need to keep the water temperature around 72 degrees. A heater with a thermostat built into it is the best way to accomplish this. Tanks that are twenty gallons or below can be regulated with a single heat source. Bigger than that you will probably need two heaters placed at opposite ends of the tank.

Most lights are purchased as part of a full hood that covers the entire top of the tank. However, it is possible to only purchase the light. Whichever way you decide to go, it is best to avoid incandescent lights. This type of light is harsh and will add heat to the tank. Fluorescent lighting is softer and will add no heat to the water in the tank.

Now that you have gotten all the things you need to get started it is time to set up the tank. Make sure you set it up near a power source and out of direct sunlight. Once everything has been placed where it belongs, you need to fill the tank with water, turn on the filter and let it sit empty for several days. This will give you time to make sure that everything is working properly. It also allows time for any harmful chemicals that may be in your water to evaporate or be filtered out.

Finally you are ready to add the fish. When you bring them home it is important to let the bags sit in the tank water for at least fifteen minutes before releasing the fish. This will give the fish a chance to acclimate to the temperature of the tank gradually. Now you can release them and enjoy their quiet grace as they move around the tank.

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