Beginner’s Aquarium Care – What You Need To Know

When it comes to setting up an aquarium, buying and caring for fish and plants, many people’s knowledge is limited to filling a container with water, planting everything they like, and feeding the purchased fish. Which, unfortunately, very often leads to the complete death of all living beings in the aquarium.

To begin with, an aquarium is a biological system consisting of the environment itself and devices that support certain conditions. Tools needed to keep an aquarium alive include a light, filter, compressor, and heater.

Further details about each of the Aquarium devices

Why Do We Need Lights?

Lights are essential for the plants and to see the fish better. It is advisable to place the aquarium in a way that direct sunlight does not fall on it. Artificial lighting is enough, and excess sunlight causes water to bloom. Artificial light works periodically in the aquarium: the lamp turns off at night, if necessary, a timer is set for this. The aquarium’s light can be done in two periods, for example, in the morning from 8 am to 12 am and in the evening from 7 pm to 12 pm. This will brighten the hours of your stay at home and will allow plants to better use the carbon dioxide that accumulates during dark hours for photosynthesis and growth.

goldfish and other tropical fish in aquarium


Which Filter Should You Use?

Filters are external and internal. The external one is located outside the aquarium (for example, in the aquarium cabinet). The inner one is inside the aquarium. The advantage of the internal one is the convenience of its cleaning. The disadvantage is that it takes up space in the aquarium and is not as effective as the external one. In the external, the disadvantages include a more complex filter cleaning process and a higher price compared to the internal one.

Plus, external filters’ reliability leaves much to be desired. Even filters from good manufacturers leak from time to time. The advantage is that it needs to be cleaned much less frequently than the internal one (on average, once every three months). The external one is more efficient, provided by a larger surface area for the biological filter (bacteria responsible for water purification occupy a larger volume). In any filter, regardless of whether it is external or internal, there is a mechanical purification of water from suspensions and biological purification from fish metabolic products contained in the water: ammonia and nitrites.


Selecting Your Aquarium Fish

The question that torments almost all newbies is when it is possible to launch fish and plants in the aquarium. Plants can be planted almost immediately when the water temperature is right for their existence. But do not forget about root dressing, liquid fertilizers, and water saturation with carbon dioxide. But with fish, the situation is somewhat different. Fish are susceptible to the chlorine in tap water, so fish are usually launched no earlier than three days after the aquarium is flooded. Following the list from the most appropriate aquarium fish to create your first aquarium are Guppies, Swordtails, Mollies and Platies, and Zebrafish.

fish in tank with plants


It is essential to know the amount of fish that can be launched for a given volume. It is different for different types of fish. On average, it is accepted that one medium fish (5 cm) should have 5 liters of water. Ideal conditions are when there are 2 liters of water for every centimeter of the fish’s body. Still, with good filtration and regular water changes (at least twice a month), 1 liter per centimeter of the fish body is quite enough.

Related Reading

What Is the Purpose of the Compressor?

The compressor supplies the fish with oxygen by mixing air with water. Its presence is not necessary in keeping some fish (for example, labyrinthine: gourami, macropods, lalius, cockerels), but in other cases, it is required. For aquariums with live plants, it is better to distinguish between compressor and lamp operation in time. In daylight hours, plants emit oxygen into the water due to photosynthesis, and in the dark, they only breathe, so they absorb oxygen.

Excessive aeration in the daytime interferes with plants, and at night aeration is necessary for both fish and plants. Thus, for a more rational functioning of the aquarium with live plants, the compressor must be switched on when the aquarium lights are switched off. All this is easily achieved by installing two timers (one for the lamp, the other for the compressor).

How to Use the Heater?

It provides heating of water to the specified temperature and maintaining it at the specified level. This is often necessary when you are taking fish that are accustomed to a specific temperature range. On average, most fish feel good at temperatures of 24-26 ‘C. But there are thermophilic and cold-loving species, for which the values ​​lie in slightly different ranges. The heater is especially necessary for autumn and spring when the temperature drops dramatically at night.

When Should We Put Soil and Plants in the Aquarium?

Before filling the aquarium, the soil should be thoroughly rinsed from excess suspension. There are different types of soils. It is better to use natural soils without dyes. It should also be remembered that some soil types can affect water parameters, such as hardness and pH. For example, marble will increase water hardness and pH. There are special soils to improve plant life, which slightly acidifies the water.

colorful fish


For plants, a soil fraction of 2-3 mm and a soil layer thickness of 6 to 10 cm are better suited. There are special plant foods that are poured under the soil when the aquarium is set up. Thus, from the beginning of their functioning, plants begin to receive the necessary nutrition from the soil. It must also be said that the soil in the aquarium is an excellent additional filter because it has a perfect surface area, which is inhabited by the same bacteria that inhabit the filter. Even if you do not have live plants in the aquarium, the substrate will be useful as an interlayer between large decorations and the bottom and an additional filter that accumulates microorganisms.

Plants can be used both live and artificial. Even when choosing artificial plants, it is also desirable to use a certain amount of living plants. A plant such as a hornwort takes root well in an aquarium with many fish. It is free-floating and grows relatively quickly in the presence of good light, simultaneously helping to cleanse the water of excess nitrates, suspensions, and scattering the light entering the aquarium. Thanks to the hornwort, aquariums are practically not overgrown with algae. As for artificial plants, they are attractive for their constancy in the aquarium, convenience in cleaning, and the lack of any care for them.

How to maintain the Aquarium later?

Monitoring of environmental conditions and the condition of fish and plants

It is necessary to monitor the temperature of the water in the aquarium, the oxygen content. And it is also desirable to know the pH, the range of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, water hardness, etc. Along with this, the behavior of the fish and its condition are monitored. So, if the fish is restlessly rushing and rubbing the soil and plants, this is a sure sign of an ectoparasitic disease.

With a lack of oxygen, the fish rises to the surface and breathes very intensively. If the water temperature is very low, the fish will sink to the bottom. Fungus or all sorts of ulcers and spots may appear on the fish. The fish can go badly for food, or refuse it altogether, be depressed, lie on the bottom. These are all sure signs that the fish is not healthy. So it is necessary to intervene in this system and eliminate the shortcomings.


The misconception of many people is that you can forget about the aquarium for a year by doing everything in the above way. But it is not so! Many people do not know that the light should be on for 8-12 hours a day, but not 24. The filter should work 24 hours a day. Stopping the filter for 4 hours leads to all bacteria’s death that populate it.

From the category of the same misconceptions, one can name customers’ desire to feed the fish based on ‘the more, the better.’ This overfeeding leads to water attenuation and fish death. Moreover, the fish can eat much more than it needs. Therefore, it is unnecessary to feed the fish until the moment when it begins to refuse feed. Feeding should take 3-8 minutes.

During this time, food should be eaten and not deposited in a thick layer to the bottom. For the rapid growth of fish, you can increase the feeding frequency and feed out more than one time per day. But at the same time, reduce the single dose of feeding.

After reading this article, you can safely try all the acquired knowledge in practice. We hope our work will not be in vain and you will be able to avoid any significant problems with your new aquarium.

Leave a Comment