Keeping Small Tanks
Fish-keeping is a rewarding hobby. From the time your favorite fish spawns, watching your aquatic friends double in size, or simply interacting with otherwise isolated aquatic life. Despite the amazing experience, many people simply do not keep fish, due to the rumor stating the fish-keeping hobby requires too much space and money. However, there are ways to keep small tanks for a reasonable price and I hope to help you achieve just that.
Recently, I bought a five-gallon aquarium for under $100, since I know what I need and what I don’t. When I bought my first aquarium, I spent over $300 (the price of some phones) for a ten gallon. I was so infatuated with the hobby that I trusted every ad and article stating I needed something else for an aquarium to thrive. I ended up spending about $150 on chemicals for the water, filtration and gravel, which was unneeded. What you really need is some gravel, filtration, about 4-5 chemicals some small plants (such as the popular marimo moss balls) and you’re all set!
Small aquarium’s water parameters go out whack quickly. Because of this, I highly recommend the use of Tetra Easy Balance, which helps stabilizes water parameters. Also, as your fish produce waste (even plants), you’ll need a thriving colony of nitrifying bacteria, which breaks down waste in the water, gravel and filtration. I have had the most success with API Quick Start and various Fluval products introducing these bacteria into the aquarium. However, chlorine kills these bacteria. To tackle this issue, you must first use a tap water conditioner. This removes and detoxifies harmful matter in the water (not so much ammonia, though) and allows fish and your bacteria colony to thrive in the underwater environment.
Now that you have a healthy colony of bacteria in your water, you’ll need to make three important decisions; your filtration, whether you’ll need a heater and what fish you want. Often, filters will come with your aquarium, but if not, you’ll need to find a filter rated for the size tank you have. You may also want to consider a sponge filter as well, since this makes a good place for bacteria to colonize. Now, you need to decide whether you need a heater or not. Many fish can live in cooler water (known as cold water fish), such as goldfish, danios, shrimp and many others, so do your research before buying your fish. Many heaters have adjustable temperatures as well, for warm-water fish. Just like your filter, you need to buy a heater rated for the size of your fish tank.
Once you’ve made these decisions, you need to decorate your tank. Believe it or not, but live plants tend to be cheaper than the fake ones. However, you may need to buy a special light for certain plants, so be sure to check the light requirements of the plants you want on google. Once this is done, you need to let your tank water age or “cycle” for about 1-2 weeks, or ask a friend/family member who owns an aquarium for some gravel and water that you can put in your tank to boost this famed, ”Beneficial Bacteria” that I speak so much about.
Once it’s been a little over a week, you can get your fish. You need to slowly introduce fish (maybe 2-4 inches of fish at a time) so your beneficial bacteria can adapt to the amount of waste made in the tank. A good way to figure out how many fish you need in your tank is 1 inch per 2 gallons, and once the tank has been well established for 1-5 months, the rule can be pushed to one inch of fish per gallon. However, you need to look up how many gallons your fish need (for space to move around).
Lastly, as you are introducing fish to your aquatic wonderland, they can become stressed, so use stress coat to help prevent your fish from illness, since fish’s immune systems are weakened when they’re stressed. Once you introduce fish, you'll need to do water changes of about 10-30 percent at least once every week-or-so, and then add water conditioner to the new water to ensure their safety. I recommend even doing so to even r/o water to be safe.
I sincerely hope this article will be of use to you, and improves the lives of your fish.