You finally got that freshwater tank you've been wanting and brought it home. Now, you just dump in some water and some fish, right? Actually, there's a bit more to the process of setting up a freshwater tank than that. You will need to consider the type of tank or aquarium and the type of filtration needed for that aquarium. You'll also need to know what species of fish go well together to form a community and how many fish to put into your freshwater tank. You will also need to purchase equipment for the tank such as gravel, heater, decorations and a light.
There are a few things you should think about before you shop for the ideal aquarium. The freshwater tank has to be stable in terms of the temperature, the pH and the softness/hardness of the water. Acrylic aquariums are better insulators than glass aquariums and provide a more stable temperature. They are also clearer, which allows for more light than a glass aquarium. Acrylic aquariums are flexible and less prone to leakage, which means they don't break or crack as easily as glass aquariums.
Some disadvantages of an acrylic aquarium are that it can cost two to three times as much as glass aquariums and can be easily scratched. Fortunately, many come with lifetime guarantees. If you can afford the higher cost, an acrylic aquarium is definitely the best choice for a first time fish owner.
Once you've decided on the type of tank you want, you will need to consider tank size. A larger aquarium is more stable and healthier for fish. However, if you're only planning to add a few fish to the tank, then a smaller freshwater tank will be fine. As far as filtration goes, you should purchase a filter that include biological, mechanical and chemical filtration as this will make your tank easier to maintain.
The biological filtration will reduce the toxicity of the tank, while the mechanical filtration will help keep the water clear. The chemical filter will remove dissolved food, plant debris and waste in the water and can prevent the water in the aquarium from developing a yellowish tinge.
An aquarium with too many fish is unhealthy for its inhabitants. It would be a good idea to have an inch of fish for every three to four gallons of water to keep your fish happy and healthy. Before shopping for fish for the tank, do some research so you know which ones can coexist in the same environment or community. You wouldn't want to put slow feeders and/or weak fish with predatory fish, as the predatory fish will end up eating the others. You can also just put an entire school of the same species of fish in the freshwater tank if variety isn't a concern.
Now, you are ready to set up the tank. The ideal location needs to be away from windows or heater vents as these could affect the lighting and temperature of the tank. Be sure to place the tank on a firm stand. A tank filled with water can weigh several hundred pounds.
It is a good idea to wash the equipment with water before using it. Never use any soaps or cleaning agents on fish equipment, the aquarium or even the containers you use to fill the tank with water. If you feel as though water alone isn't enough, you can add a teaspoon or two of salt to a gallon of water to make your equipment cleaner. Thoroughly remove the saltwater solution with fresh water before you use the equipment. Once everything is clean, put water in your tank, setup the equipment for the aquarium and let it run for 24 hours.