This equipment checklist will help you get started. Let’s begin
with the basics.
Aquarium – Which tank will you buy? What about a complete setup? You may
be tempted to buy a small round bowl but that is not going to make your fish happy. Choose the biggest tank that
you can afford. This prevents having to upgrade later when you get more fish. They will have to adjust to a new
environment all over again.
Choose an appropriate aquarium for your fish
– You may own one fish now but you probably plan on
owning several more. Buy an aquarium based on the eventual size of your fish and not how they look now. Some fish
can grow to be several inches long. That can lead to cramped quarters in a ten-gallon tank.
Choose what type of aquarium to buy
– There are two choices: freshwater or
saltwater. Freshwater fish are plentiful and need less maintenance to live a happy life. On the other hand,
saltwater aquariums will cost you a pretty penny to get started and maintain.
Filtration system – Have you seem people with tanks that haven’t been cleaned in
months? You can scrape the muck with a shovel. Without a proper filtering system there is no need to expect your
fish to live long. Waste products from fish, plants and other aquarium life need to be regularly removed to
maintain the proper balance of pH and water bacteria.
All fish need a filtration system and light, but the degree of
each varies. A basic filter may work for freshwater fish (along with a few bottom feeders to clean the tank even
more) but an under-gravel filter in addition to an outside filter may be needed for saltwater tropical
Heater – Tropical fish like it warm. We don’t want to boil them, but a
heater can maintain a constant temperature for your fish so they are comfortable.
Thermometer – You can’t judge the temperature by sticking your finger in the
water. A sturdy rust-resistant thermometer lets you know when the temperature goes too high or too low so you can
adjust your heater.
Gravel – Most fish aquariums have some sort of substrate on the bottom
of the tank. Gravel works for fish that like to swim and catch their food on the top of the tank. For bottom
feeding tropical fish, a softer material will keep them from getting hurt when they dig for food.
Lights – For several hours a day, you will turn on the lights for your
fish and any real plant life you have in the tank.
Plants – Variety is the spice of life for fish too. You can choose from
artificial or live plants. Live plants increase the oxygen in the tank, but need to be tended to so that they don’t
get sick and die. Some fish like to swim through dark places or hide and plants can provide the cover that they
Fish food – Fish need to swim and eat. Feeding them the wrong food can
make them just as sick as the wrong water environment. Most fish like the flakes but there are some that can
benefit from worms and other morsels. It is important to know what the like to eat and how expensive it will be to
Plan before you buy – Bringing home the fish is the last thing you do. Be sure that
your environment is set up and you are familiar with how to take care of your fish before you actually acquire
them. Things will sail more smoothly that way.
So, you have a basic guide for what you will need in your tank
to benefit your fish. There are other bells and whistles and extras you may find that you need, but this list will
get you going with the right equipment.