Top 19 frequently asked questions about fish keeping

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Your guide to the most asked questions about fish keeping – Below are the top 19 frequently asked questions and tips and trick to solving any issues you might have

The question and answers below cover all the important issues related to fish keeping such as:

  • The right aquarium size
  • The right place for the aquarium
  • Buy your first aquarium
  • The choice of accessories
  • The establishment of the aquarium
  • The first animals for the aquarium
  • The maintenance of the aquarium

1. Where should I put my aquarium?

Tip 1: Choose a location that can withstand the weight of your aquarium without any problems

This question normally comes before filling the aquarium and not afterwards. The bigger the aquarium, the heavier it is! With a 100 liter aquarium it makes a difference whether it is on the floor or on your own desk.

Tip 2: Choose a place where your aquarium is not exposed to constant solar radiation or heating!

Make sure that your aquarium is not exposed to direct sunlight all day! Not only that this can harm the fish. In addition, intensive solar radiation accelerates the growth of the annoying algae in your pool. Neither should you locate the aquarium near a heater which will also have adverse effects on the water chemistry.

Tip 3: Find a quiet place with constant through traffic

Do not set the aquarium as a walk-through zone! The fish should be given a quiet location where people, guests or you don’t have to or have to walk by all the time.

Tip 4: Make sure you have sockets located near the aquarium area

You will need close access to a socket to plug in all the aquarium equipment that.

2. How many fish can I fit in my aquarium?

This question is extremely important because: Too high a number of fish in your own aquarium immediately upsets the biological balance of your own tank!

One of the most recognized rules of thumb is still that for every liter of water there is about 1 cm of fish. If your own tank is 140 liters, for example, the tank should contain a maximum of 1.40 m of “fish”.

At the beginning of the “own aquarium” adventure, it is a good idea to start with fewer fish. Because much more important than the immediate size of the fish is the successive growth of each individual fish species in the aquarium. Corresponding fish species can be bought over time.

Of course, this only applies to fish that live in society. A fighting fish such as a Betta splendens, for example, must be kept individually as the main fish in the aquarium. Read more in the Aquarium Guide, there is still a lot to know.

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How many fish are in the tank?

3. Can I add the fish to my aquarium immediately after purchasing them?

The answer at this point is a resounding NO! Because: an aquarium is not just a basin with water, equipment and fish.

An aquarium is a biological microorganism that first has to find its way around or set up. Only then can the fish be added.

This means: after the aquarium has been filled with water and set up, it should have at least 24 days without the fish “set up”. Only then – if the internal values ​​are correct – should the fish be added.

4. How should I set up my aquarium?

The aquarium has been bought and the future fish have also been selected. How do I set up my aquarium now?

Beginners in particular are often overwhelmed with this question. You have your “dream aquarium” in mind and want to recreate it as best you can. As is so often the case with aquaristics, the basics are also important here. When setting up your aquarium for the first time, you should consider the following:

  • Step zero is the selection of the fish species that will later live in the aquarium. Based on this decision, the other elements of your own aquarium can then be purchased.
  • Gravel forms the bottom of the aquarium. This should not be higher than 10 cm and not too coarse-grained. The selection of the aquarium underground also depends on your step 0.
  • Plants are not only a super important component in nature, but also in the aquarium. They supply the water with oxygen, absorb nutrients and help to keep the pH value of your own aquarium in balance. So try to use as many different plants as possible without losing sight of the look of your own aquarium.
  • The basic equipment also includes a functional timer, as well as an intact aquarium heater for your own tank.
  • Very important for the aquarium: light! As already discussed above, the aquarium should not be in the light all day. Nevertheless, regular aquarium lighting is of fundamental importance! For this you need a suitable lamp!

5. Can I add sand, stones or shells from outside?

Also, be careful not to add items to the aquarium that you have not bought in specialist shops. This also applies to any mussels and pebbles found! Because: in the long run, this can negatively affect the microorganism of your aquarium.

6. Does the aquarium gravel have to be cleaned before it is inserted?

Yes, the gravel for the aquarium should be washed before use after purchase. To do this, put the gravel in a bucket with water and stir everything well. The water is poured away and the whole thing is repeated two or three times. Only then do you add the gravel to the aquarium. This ensures that dirt is washed out of the storage.

7. How often do you have to feed fish in the aquarium?

A well-intentioned “extra treat” can have negative consequences for the fish.

Additionally, adding too much feed can also have negative consequences for the water values ​​in the pool itself. So avoid over-feeding the inhabitants of the aquarium.

It is sufficient to feed the fish in your own tank every 2 days – with various types of fish even every 3 days.

8. Where can I buy the right food for my fish?

As a beginner, it is highly recommended that you visit a local pet shop that specializes in aquatics to find out the right types of food for your aquarium inhabitants.

The specialist will also be able to tell you more about the correct dosage of the feed within a few minutes than you can acquire by reading it for hours.

Alternatively, you can easily order the fish feed that you need on the internet.

9. How often should I change the water in the aquarium?

In addition to a lot of patience, your own aquarium is one thing above all: a lot of maintenance work!

The water in the aquarium must be changed at regular intervals. This is the only way to permanently maintain the internal balance of the aquarium.

It is optimal to completely change the water within a month. E.g. half of the water could be completely replaced with new water every 2 weeks. Your own time is of course decisive here. The water in small aquariums needs to be changed more often. This can even be once or twice a week.

It is also important that the new water is not too cold! This can also have a negative effect on the inhabitants of your own aquarium.

10. How long do I have to illuminate my aquarium every day?

The right lighting time has significant consequences for the well-being of the fish. Failure to correctly regulate the amount of light can lead to the annoying formation of algae in your own tank – algae depend heavily on lighting in the aquarium.

The maximum should be 15 hours of lighting time per day. In addition, the lighting in the aquarium should never fall below the 12 hour mark.

It is up to you in which chord you illuminate your aquarium. The only important thing is that you give the residents of your pool enough breaks from the light.

11. When do I have to start fertilizing the plants in the aquarium?

An important point on the way to the “perfect aquarium” is the correct fertilization of the plants in the aquarium itself.

However, beginners in particular should make sure that the first fertilization is only carried out when the biological balance has been established in the aquarium!

If you fertilize beforehand, this can unnecessarily postpone the process or even bring the balance completely out of step. Basically: test first, then fertilize!

12. How do I treat sick fish?

Before embarking on any treatment regimes, consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment advice.

Make sure you set up a quarantine tank so that you can isolate sick inhabitants for treatment. Isolation is important to avoid medicating healthy fish and other inhabitants.

13. Are crabs useful in the aquarium?

Crabs are detritus eaters, which mean they eat debris. These waste deposits arise in every aquarium, for example from dead plant remains, from the faeces of the animals or from leftover food. This waste can be used by crabs as food, which naturally cleans the aquarium.

14. Why is the water hardness in the aquarium important?

This is a very important question. The biotope in the aquarium is a fragile world that can be shaken by small changes.

The quality of the water can change, the growth of algae can be accelerated, the water becomes cloudy or the fish can become sick if all factors are not in harmony.

The hardness of the water is an important factor.

The water hardness indicates the degree of hardness of the water in the aquarium. However, several values ​​are crucial here

In addition to the total hardness (GH), the carbonate hardness (KH) is an important factor.

The totality of all alkaline earth ions is the total hardness. This is given in ° dGH and mmol / l. The higher the lime content, the harder the water and the higher the total hardness. The carbonate hardness (KH) indicates the pH stability of the water.

The amount of calcium and magnesium ions is expressed in terms of the carbonate hardness. This is given in ° dKH and mmol / l. The higher this is, the more the water can buffer acids. Some fish also need a high level of carbonate hardness.

To measure these values, there are test strips that are put into the water and measure the specific quantities. Depending on the failure of the result, a response must then be made.

15. Which values ​​should you always know about your aquarium?

Important values

  • pH value of the water
  • Carbonate hardness KH value (see question: Why is the water hardness in the aquarium important?)
  • Total hardness GH value (see question: Why is the water hardness in the aquarium important?)
  • temperature
  • Nitrite (NO2 – toxic nitrogen compound) and nitrate (NO3 – cause of algae) (see question: How long does the running-in phase take?)

Additional values

  • Carbon dioxide (can be calculated from the KH and the pH value)
  • phosphate
  • potassium
  • Magnesium / calcium (these values ​​should be in a certain ratio, 4: 1 or 3: 1)
  • chlorine
  • iron
  • copper

The range in which the value is in its green area depends heavily on the aquarium and its inhabitants.

16. Which fish are bottom dwellers?

The ground dwellers feel most comfortable on the ground and prefer to stay in this water zone. They dig on the floor and thus contribute to cleaning. 

The following belong to the bottom aquarium inhabitants:

  • Armored catfish
  • L46 catfish
  • Zebra armored catfish
  • Thorn-eyes
  • Proboscis
  • Greenfin barbel

17. How long does the running-in phase take?

The running-in phase is the phase in which the water changes from tap water to the right biotope for the fish. The conversion produces bacteria. They metabolize waste products into ammonium. These waste products can come from the first plants through dead plant remains.

Unfortunately, the ammonium produced is converted into a toxic nitrogen compound, nitrite (NO2), which can be dangerous for the fish. The fish are only allowed in when the nitrite has exceeded its highest value, the nitrite peak, and slowly converts into nitrate (NO3).

So that this ecosystem does not collapse again immediately, new residents are only allowed to move in gradually.

Ideally you start with snails and gradually add the fish. The nitrite level in the water must always be monitored; otherwise the fish may be damaged and even die.

The running-in period can vary in length. Experienced aquarists may be able to get the ecosystem ready in two weeks and successfully use their first fish. Anyone who waits for the process of nature without helping tricks can sometimes have to wait 6 to 8 weeks. Constant monitoring of the nitrite level in the water is important in this phase.

18. How do I cool the aquarium in the heat?

For most fish, the water temperature in the aquarium should not exceed 26 degrees. 30 degrees can be life-threatening for many animals.

The simplest and most popular trick to prevent the aquarium from getting too warm during a hot spell is to use a fan. The lid of the aquarium is opened when the fish allow it, and then the fan above the water surface is allowed to do its work. Of course, it doesn’t blow into the water but over the surface of the water. This creates evaporative cooling. The surface movement of the water is also good for the water quality.

If you have problems with active fish when the lid of the aquarium is open, look for a fly screen that it spans.

The room should remain as dark as possible during the hot spell.

Experienced aquarists fill pet bottles halfway with water and place them in the freezer. When the water is frozen, the bottle goes into the basin and cools the water down again. Alternatively, you can use cooling elements.

Manufacturers of aquarium accessories also have aquarium coolers such as cooling fans in their range. 

19. How can you partition a large aquarium?

Partitioning an aquarium is very useful. For example, partitioning comes in handy when you want to keep fighting fish that need a smaller area themselves and should not be able to see each other. 

Empty Aquarium

If the aquarium is still empty, plexiglass can be a good choice, which can be attached to the aquarium with aquarium silicone.

Operational Aquarium

If the aquarium is already in operation, filter mats are ideal. These are available in different colors, e.g. in blue, gray or black. However, these do not separate the water cycle, so you have to weigh up which fish this separation is suitable for. Both sides must also be treated in the event of illness. However, separating the mats has the advantage that it is very flexible and that moss can also be easily settled on the mats.

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