Bring The Sea Indoors With These Beginners Aquarium Tips

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  • Author: Marina K. Blake
  • Press: Shark Magazine
  • Date: Sunday, 01 January 2017

If you're like us, your love of the ocean touches just about every part of your life. It inspires your vacations, dictates your warm weekends, and makes planning parties simple. But how can you bring your passion for sea life into your home? One of the best hobbies for naturalists with an affinity for the deep are fishtanks. From tropical to salt water to freshwater, the options are endless and range in levels of difficulty, ensuring that it's a hobby that can grow with you. Fishtanks are soothing, relaxing, and beautiful ways to experience the beauty of the beach, as well as educational for kids.

So, you're ready to start fish keeping, but aren't sure the best way to begin? We asked some of our expert aquarium fanatic friends for their tips and tricks to keeping a balanced, healthy, and thriving ecological habitat in their homes. Remember--fishtanks require a lot of effort and commitment, and even the most simple of tanks need care, so be sure it's a project you are dedicated to before you begin, otherwise you can risk the lives of whatever creatures find their way into your tank.

Tristain, a tank keeper for ten years, swears by thoughtful fish selection. "A freshwater tank is the best place for beginners to start learning. There are fewer pH balancing issues, the cost is more affordable, and you can find much heartier fish for your tank. You want to look for fish who can survive in less than perfect conditions, since you'll be in a learning curve, and won’t be as physically threatened by changes in the water parameters. I love neon tetra. Although they're small, they are gorgeous little freshwater fish. They're incredibly active, and love being in groups, so you don't have to worry about them hurting one another. Their diet is really basic--fish flakes. They do enjoy treats of blood worms or brine shrimp every once in a while, but you'll be very satisfied with a tank of these stunning fish."

Abeliene, a pet shop manager and aquarium enthusiast, encourages new tankers to be cautious when selecting decor. "So many people think they can just throw in a little plaster castle and some hot pink gravel and be done with it, but the fact is, aquariums should best replicate the fishes natural environment. That means sand, aquatic plants, and biodiversity. You want to select tank decor that suits your pet's needs--for example, shy fish need plenty of places to hide, like rocks or plants. Bottom feeders need gravel they can sift through and companion snails to keep down the algae. While stuff like little divers or sunken ships can be cute, some of the paint can flake off and be harmful to curious snackers. The accessories are truly the last thing to purchase and should be selected with your tank's ecology in mind--live plants are always better, as they help air circulation and provide a food source, and authentic ocean artifacts work best for stimulating fish. Check with your pet store and be sure to wash anything before putting it into the tank!"

Sarah-Rae, a high-school biology teacher, has maintained a classroom tank for three years. Her best advice? "Do not overfeed your fish! One feeding per day is plenty, no matter how hungry a ninth grader swears they look. Consult with your vet or pet store salesperson when making your food selection, and understand the needs of your breed of fish--some require feeding every other day! While flakes are perfect for most fish and will meet their nutritional needs, bottom feeders like sinking pellets. Even though they're scavengers, don't assume that they will be able to grab some flakes after the rest have had their meal. Another key point is not to overdo the amount--don't sprinkle in more than your fish can finish in a few minutes. Excess food makes the tank filthy and can change the chemical levels in your water, which can lead to hurting and even killing your school. I always hang a little sign right next to the tank with a feeding schedule, including the exact amounts and types of food. And remember--the more you feed your fish, the more waste they create, which can lead to an absolutely filthy and unhealthy tank!"

Christopher, a professional saltwater tank installer, has a very simple tip. "Don't treat fish like they are disposable. If you aren't ready to commit to their care, select another pet. Or maybe some snails. It's not fair to bring them into your home only to lose interest in a few days--aquariums require a time investment. If you find that it's too much for you, call your local high school to see if they'd like a tank donated to their art or science rooms for a class to take care of, but don't just let the fish die or get flushed. They are living creatures and they deserve respectful care."

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