Aquarium Fish

Beginner to Aquarium Fish Keeping

Online Aquarium Fish Magazine | Fish Keeping for Beginners - Part 1

Diving into Fishkeeping

There are many reasons to join the aquarium hobby. Studies have shown that keeping an aquarium relieves stress. They are aesthetically pleasing. Fish are a great way for children to learn about caring for pets, as long as the parents are willing to put work into the aquarium, as well. The list goes on.

Whether you are an adult wanting to learn a hobby to enrich your life, or you are a parent of a child who is about to receive his or her first pet, if you're new to the hobby of fish keeping, you probably have a lot of questions, and perhaps a few misconceptions, about how to care for these wonderful little creatures. There was a time when new aquarists had to "dive in" to the hobby with little or no help. Even worse, what little information people had was largely wrong. The information is better, now, and more accurate, but due to the alien nature of the fish and the fact that there is no guarantee that the employee of a pet store will know anything about fish, the information is sometimes hard to get.


This guide is an attempt to help alleviate that problem. Though it will span over several months of the Fishlore Magazine's issues, it will not be a comprehensive guide to fish keeping. Rather, it will cover some of the more basic concepts of the hobby. This author assures you, however, that the information in here has just as much importance to someone who wants to buy a goldfish for a child as it does for someone who wants to set up a large tropical aquarium.

Tank Size

To begin with, you will need to decide upon the size of tank you want. This author would suggest nothing smaller than a ten gallon tank, and twenty gallons would be better. The reason is that it is easier to maintain stable water quality in a larger tank than in a smaller tank. Other than this opinion, there are two different ways to make your decision.

The most common method of deciding the size of one's first tank is to base the decision on finances. The larger a tank is, the more expensive it, and the equipment needed for it, will be.

The other method is basing the size of the tank on the number and types of fish you want to have. This method requires a bit of math. There is a general rule that a tank must have as many gallons as it will have inches of fish. There are a few things that need to be known about this rule.

First is that it applies to the full grown size of the fish. It is a myth that a fish will only grow as large as a tank can support. If a fish does stop growing early, it is due to being stunted, which is no good for the fish, and will likely shorten the life span of the creature.

Second, this rule is not all-inclusive, fish that have particularly large bodies for their length produce more waste, as do fish of certain species, such as koi and goldfish. Once a fish gets to a certain point, it will require more space merely so it has space to swim around. The common pleco is one such fish. Though it grows to about 18 inches, it requires a tank of at least 55 gallons, or it will be curled over itself, unable to rest comfortably in the tank.

Myth Alert!

This author would also like to take a moment to dispel a popular myth regarding tank size. A fishbowl is an unacceptable aquarium for a betta or goldfish. For that matter, it is unacceptable for any but the smallest of aquatic creatures. Bettas and goldfish both need filtration. Pet stores will tell customers that bettas don't need filtration because they breathe air, and that goldfish don't need filtration because they're so hardy, but neither idea changes the fact that these fish will be soaking in large quantities of ammonia if they don't have filtration, and this will shorten their life dramatically.

Tank Placement

Another important thing to think of when contemplating tank size is where the tank is going to be. Aquariums should not be kept on standard furniture, unless said furniture is extremely sturdy. Aquariums weigh somewhere around 10 pounds per gallon of water, so a ten gallon tank weighs around one hundred pounds. This makes moving a tank once it is set up very difficult, especially since moving a tank full of water will stress, and possibly break, the glass.

Tanks should not be in direct sunlight, nor should they be near any source of heat or cold (such as your vents). Keeping an aquarium in the kitchen is also a bad idea. When cooking with oil, for example, some of the oil vaporizes and floats around the kitchen. It will settle into the tank, along with any smoke or other by-products of cooking, and stress, or even outright harm, your fish.

If you are getting a rather large aquarium, you are also going to want to insure that it is placed with its weight resting across several floor supports, rather than across one or two of them. Even worse than the tank ending up on the floor due to weak furniture is the tank ending up on the floor below.

Hopefully this article will whet your appetite and bring you back for more information next month, when this author will discuss the equipment needed to set the aquarium up and the basics of filtration. Though it is a meek beginning, as with all journeys, keeping an aquarium begins with a single step.

About the Author

Sam Hirte-Runtsch - Started keeping fish when I inherited a tank from a friend's girlfriend. Have since purchased three other tanks, each with an entirely different setup and type of fish.


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