1) Buy the largest Aquarium possible
Never place an aquarium in direct sunlight, also were possible try to avoid rooms with lots of natural light. Sunlight and bright rooms may lead to algae problems and in summer months overheating problems.
Place aquariums on a solid stand and check for level. Make sure there is no possibility of the aquarium twisting or bending as this will cause the aquarium to crack. It is highly recommended that the aquarium also be placed on a sheet of polystyrene foam at least 1cm thick.
2) What water to use
Nearly all tap water throughout the world contains chlorine and/or chloramine, however this water is safe to use provided that the water is treated first with a neutralizer, there are many types available and your dealer can advise on you what he recommends for your area.
Use of rain water is not always advisable as is the use of filtered or mineral waters, these can in some cases be too high in certain dissolved minerals and often have either very high or very low PH values.
3) Lighting and heating the aquarium
There is a multitude of heaters available in varying lengths and wattage's, nearly all heaters have built in thermostats and easy external adjustment for temperature. All heaters available in Australia are completely immersible. Consult you dealer for the correct wattage for your aquarium, (this is critical to your success)
A good quality thermometer is needed to check the correct functioning of your heater.
Aquarium lighting is a very important area and one not to be over looked, always use a light unit that is the same length as the aquarium, and depending on the depth of your aquarium a twin or triple light unit may be required. Many types of light tubes exist so ask your dealer for the one that best suits your needs, never use standard ceiling type tubes as this will lead to major algae problems, and also not show the fish in their true colours. Always make sure the aquarium has cover glass placed under the light to guard against water damage and possible electrocution.
The type of filtration you use will play a large part in your success or failure to keep a healthy tank. Don't always take the cheapest option, A cheap filter can lead to costly ongoing expenses ie: inserts etc and may not prove reliable even in the short term! There are many types of filtration available through Manly Aquarium World eg: canister filters, hang-on filters, internal filters, under gravel filters, wet/dry filters and air operated filters, seek our advice for the one that best suits your requirements.
Aeration can also be added as an aid in providing oxygen for your fish, it will also serve as a means of keeping the fish more active. The addition of an air stone can be aesthetically pleasing adding character to your tank environment. Again there are a many, many varieties of air pumps available, but choose carefully as many cheaper pumps will prove noisy, vibrate excessively and only have a short life.
5) First fish and plants
Initially only add a small number of fish until the tank has fully matured biologically (the nitrogen cycle) stock levels of fish will need to be kept low for a period of approximately 4-6 weeks. Even after this time tread carefully and resist the temptation to fully stock the aquarium in "one day".
ALWAYS float fish in there bags for approximately 10- 15 minutes in the aquarium, after which the bags should be opened and some water mixed into the bags for a period of another 10-15 minutes. This first allows the fish to adjust to the temperature, then to adjust to the different water conditions.
It is advisable to add a disease preventative or water conditioner with these qualities when adding new fish to the aquarium to help guard against disease and white spot due to possible stress or damage during transportation.
Live plants can be added to the aquarium from day one, there really is no limit to the amount you add provided that you have adequate lighting, it is wise to use an aquarium plant fertilizer for best results, particularly in a new aquarium as it often devoid of nutrients. For those that prefer it is quite okay to use plastic plants or a mixture of both.
Feeding is a key area to the health of your fish, and it is in fact an area where most people get it wrong particularly in regard to over feeding, this must be avoided at all costs!.Over feeding whilst not killing the fish directly through obesity will have another far worse effect and that is to pollute their environment to the point that not even the best biologically active tank can break down the waste product being loaded into the aquarium. This excess waste if not dealt with biologically will become toxic causing the formation of Ammonia and usually a lowering of the PH value. Most fish foods will recommend that fish in your aquarium be feed several times a day, what they can eat in 2-3 minutes. Whilst this is technically correct, my experience is that people OVER feed 2-3 times a day. Its probably a safer bet to feed once daily what the fish can consume in 2-3 minutes and no more! Resist the temptation to feed the fish everytime you look at your fish and they appear to recognize you and plead with you to give them some food, it is instinctual for a fish to seek out food continuously. In the wild there is no set Breakfast, lunch and dinner time, try not to think of the fish, thinking, in the same way that we do.
There are many, many types of foods available eg: Flakes, Freeze dried foods, frozen foods, pellets and live foods etc etc. Ask our advice for the recommendation according to the type of fish you keep.
7) Care of your aquarium
It is wise to do partial water changes on a regular basis, the general recommendation for this is to change around 20-30% on a fortnightly basis, whilst all tank inhabitants can be left in the tank during this cleaning it is essential that you gravel clean your gravel using a siphon type gravel cleaner as this will remove any build up of detritus. Note that regardless of the type of filter you have these water changes still have to take place. Think of it as a breath of fresh air for your fish.
If a filter insert has to be replaced try to do it on an alternate week to the water change as this will lessen the effects on the bacteria in the tank. However if you are simply cleaning the insert from your filter then it is wise to rinse it in some water collected from the tank, again this will minimize the loss of bacteria in your filter.
And just a reminder any tap water added to the aquarium should be treated first with a water conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramine. It is not a bad idea if possible to sit new water in a bucket overnight as this will allow chlorine to dissipate naturally and the water temperature to come up to room temperature (probably closer to your tank temperature than the tap water is).
8) Checking the water
Always monitor your water conditions, particularly PH, Ammonia and Nitrite. These will need close attention especially with a new tank. There are lots of test kits available, that aren't expensive and the 3 listed above would be a wise addition to any hobbyists equipment list. Most aquarium shops will test water for you, generally for a small fee, but this may not be convenient out of hours when you notice a problem with your fish, I suggest you have your own test kits and use your local aquarium shop for a second opinion and for any advice on action required to fix your water quality problem.
9) Teaching yourself
It's a great idea to have a reference book at home as this will answer most questions you may have, without the necessity of having to ring or run down to your aquarium shop every time you have a question. We stock a large range of books, and there a specific books most species of fish you may be keeping.
Remember these hints:
• Stock your aquarium lightly at first then add gradually after the nitrogen cycle has passed.
• Do not over feed your fish.
• Avoid tapping your tank or turning on lighting suddenly during the night, as this will frighten your fish.
• Only ever do partial changes of water, never "complete clean outs"
• Take care when cleaning or changing filter inserts.
• Another tip on filter media, Activated carbons in filters only have an active life of
about 4-6 weeks.