The hobby of keeping tropical aquarium is the maintenance of a
highly artificial and restricted community of animals and plants, with a balance that can easily topple with
disastrous results to at least some of the members. At the same time, aquariums can generally be easily maintained
as long as a few fundamental facts are recognized and applied with common sense to the problems that
The old-fashioned fish bowl has almost completely replaced for
serious fish-keeping by the rectangular glass tank, either made wholly of glass or with a metal frame and glass
sides and a bottom of glass, slate, or other rigid material.
Except when used for spawning, for exhibition purposes, or as a
hospital tank for the treatment of disease, the tank contains growing, rooted plants; these are set in a sand or
gravel layer 1 or 2 inches thick. There may be decorative rocks, but the chief decoration is usually the plants
themselves, which contribute more to the attractive appearance of a well set-up tank than do the fishes.
Rectangular tanks are usually between 5 and 25 gallons in
capacity; a 15-gallon tank measures 24 X 12 X 12 inches and is a favourite size. Smaller tanks than these cannot
house many fish or allow proper development of the plants.
Size for size, most tropical fishes can be crowded a good deal
more than the common goldfish and very much more than fancy varieties of goldfish. A 15-gallon tank might
comfortably contain a dozen 3-inch rosy barbs, four or five 3-inch common goldfish at the most, and not more than a
pair of Orandas of the same size.
Fish consume solid food and excrete solid faeces. They breathe
oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, and therefore they tend to deplete their environment of oxygen and to pollute it
with carbon dioxide and excrement. Hence, the existence of plants is of extreme importance in the oxygen
You have to keep the water in your aquarium clean and aerated,
the fish have to have enough food, if you use live plants, they will need light and nutrients, and you have to keep
the algae under control.
If you’re just starting out, you need to know what you need to
buy to get started. Here’s a list of the essentials that you need, no matter if you keep saltwater or freshwater
An aquarium – To keep you fish in.
An aquarium stand – To support your new aquarium.
Filtration equipment – Filters can be chemical, mechanical and
Lights – To help live plants grow, and to enhance the colours of
A tank hood – To reduce evaporation, and stop anything (such as
a cat’s paw) from getting in.
Decorations – These can be anything you decide. There are a wide
range of decorations available nowadays, so you can decorate your tank however you like. You’ll also want a
background to hide the wires.
Substrate – This is basically the sand or gravel you use for the
bottom of your aquarium.
Plants – There’s a wide range of plants you can choose for your
aquarium nowadays, including live and plastic plants.
Heater – Tropical fish require a water temperature that is
slightly higher than most people’s room temperature.
Chemicals – By chemicals, I mean chemical filtration, which gets
rid of harmful gases that the water picks up as it passes through a carbon filter. It’s not always needed, but it
is very easy to use and it’s better for your fish.
Thermometer – the plastic strip one with liquid crystals are
A net – For scooping things out of your aquarium.
Cleaning supplies (such as a scrubby on a stick, a small round
and a bucket reserved solely for aquarium use)
Fish food – to feed your fish, obviously.
And last, but not least… you’ll need the fish!