Instructables
Everything you need to know about setting up, maintaining,or even updating your (or your soon- to-be) freshwater aquarium!!
 
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Step 1: Buying

Picture of buying
you'll need at least 5-10 gallons to house your fish ( if considering buying a goldfish, or Betta fish, 4- 20 gallons, depending on the max. size, some get dang big, like 2', so ask the nice employees at petco!:) and they dont need heaters.). i have a ten gallon aquarium and it's just great, and only around $60 So go on petsmart.com or petco.com and find which size, shape and color is right for you. Once your at the store and have decided which tank you get, you need a heater and filter, and possibly a light, but most aquariums come with it, and don't forget the most important thing. Fish! I can't stress enough how important it is to do research on the fish you want to get.You do not want to sit at the pet store, to find out that " That one gets two feet long, or "That one is a saltwater fish" or "that's a cold water fish" and blah, blah blah. so research! (refer to step 2 for advice on fish)

Step 2: Tools

Picture of Tools
Once you Get your aquarium, make sure to get a filter, heater, hood/and light, after all that's set up, with the ornaments and gravel, let it cycle for two days (wait),and stock you tank 2-3 fish at a time.Get a gravel siphon and algae scraper, unless you have an algae eater, then no scraper. you'll also want filter packages, the appropriate size of course.You may also want a thermometer, it's cheep and helpful, your tank needs to be 72-82 degrees. I would also recomend a test kit, for Ph at the bare minimum, but a big pack is good.(check one out here http://www.petco.com/fish.
Im liking this instructable less and less. I would suggest 25-30% water changes myself, once a week....and shes right, ammonia is the biggest problem new people to the hobby have aside from the wrong water parameters for there fish, and parameters bouncing around too much. I have an old pic of my tank up, since then its all real plants and real rock, altho most of the shale in there is indeed real. Plants will lower your nitrate levels and help keep a healthy tank, but things like plecos poop all the time and foul up your water thus creating the need for more and larger water changes, if your looking for a bit less upkeep on water changes invest in a sump and a protein skimmer. they are pricey but well worth the cost, and a sump can be made of an old fish tank or storage bin easily for cheap. a good protein skimmer will have a lifetime warranty and is what will run you the bigger bucks.
Tarantulady hit it on the head! Thank you darlin! First step before you ever go to a pet store should be research, figure out what type of fish you like, and whats within your budget, Second you acquire the supply's you will need, IE, tank/s pumps heaters, chillers, food-research your fish's needs "most plecos eat drift wood, not all do tho, also the majority are omnivores, so they will eat fish and other things of the sort if smaller then them and given the chance!" after all of this is said and done consider a quarantine tank, no one wants to get a sick fish and end up putting it into a healthy tank of fish, or ending up having your first fish being sick and having to treat the whole tank and wait to put anything else in it, i suggest a 10 gallon tank for a quarantine tank. Next off, after everything has cycled with your mountain cloud minnows, or guppys, whatever cheap hearty fish you plopped in there, AVOID MOST PET STORES, esp chains like petco, petsmart, etc. Find a local aquatic hobbyists site/forum and contact breeders, you will get healthier, better colored fish for less money in most cases. A good place to get resources and find other sites is MAAH, this isn't the holy grail of sites but its a great place for information, with fiendly people who will point you in the right direction! "im a member of MAAH" Be smart and responsible with your fish and any other pets you have, people may not realize it, but even "gold fish" which are a type of Koi, can live ten years or more easily, when properly taken care of and reach HUGE perportions! When in doubt, just ask someone else in the hobby, we LOVE talking about what we do after all, other wise we wouldn't do it!
Tarantulady4 years ago
My blue lobsters had babies and then they ate most of them in a 180 gallon tank hahaha. Then the stupid lobster ripped the tail off my oscar >:( Not so haha. Be careful what you put together, even if they have a lot of space! Black skirt tetras might beat up platys and mollies by getting at their fins. It depends how much space they have, and if the individuals are jerks or not. Not all cichlids can be kept together (many can not) and there's about a 50% chance that most "aggressive" fish will kick the crap out of other aggressive fish even though the pet stores say they wont :( Golden algae eaters are just chinese algae eaters and they will eat your plants, beat up your other fish that get near them, and poop in your tank instead of cleaning it. I hate that they call them algae eaters because they aren't good at cleaning the tank. A little algae is healthy.. plus it sort of looks nice on rocks and logs, etc. Overfeeding your fish and/or not doing regular partial water changes is what causes algae overgrowth most often.
Ya I looked at several ratings of a Chinese Algae Eaters and most of the ratings were like 1 out of 5. They are also proven to eat the slimecoat of other fish when they get older. So they are really bad.
One of the best plecos for begginners are bushynose plecos, you can get more diificult plecos later on when you get more experienced.
koebwil3 years ago
I don't know if you have ever had otocinclus cat fish, but that is a very wrong assessment of their abilities. They are widely regarded as the best algae eaters for a planted tank (they will not do well in a tank that is not heavily planted). I personally have 5 in a 37 gallon tank with a shoal of tiger barbs and they keep the tank pristine. they clean every plant from top to bottom. Also they aren't kind of cute they are so cute it makes me sick, they take naps all together on the leaves of large plants.
bobby45055 years ago
ALSO could i get a puffer unaccustomed to salt in tank 'cause i want snails
One other thing to know if you are thinking about puffer fish - they need to harder things (like snails) to keep their teeth worn down. It's kind of like a dog's nails; the beak will keep growing and if it doesn't get worn down, they will eventually be unable to eat and will starve.

So...you have to actually trim their teeth by knocking the fish out and using nail clippers if they haven't been eating enough hard things.

I thought about keeping some until I found that out...

http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/dentistry/
lol, a puffer will eat all your snails in a heartbeat. im pretty sure puffers see snails more as food then helpers. just to let you know, even small puffers require lots of space maybe its own 10-30 gallons as they are extremely territorial.
Conqured4 years ago
 honestly guys. the best way to learn is through experience. u can follow everyones setups to the T. but that doesnt mean it will work for you. i suggest researching what you want to get some ideas. goldfish alone, i keep 2 small ones in a 10 gallon aquarium. they stay healthy and they grow rather quickly. 5 gallons per goldfish works for me. i have done this for a while now. the more space you have the better but 5gal. each is enough so dont get all worried when you read these other guys setups. and i never use a heater in my tanks. i found that once i set up my tank and it has gone through its cycle i can keep a tank at the same temp no matter how cold it gets in the same room. but thats just me. i have never had a fish die or get sick on me i do 15% water changes every two weeks. and i dont use plecos never had a need for them. i have now moved from inside tanks to 55 gallon drums wich i mass produce freshwater fish for a hobby. although im not that old and have not been doing this for very long. i still havnt had any problems and my fish seem to be healthy and grow very quickly. its all just a matter of time. so guys n gals get to studding up on what you want. you decide what you want by getting some ideas.
I have learned from other sources (http:www.liveaquaria.com) that one goldfish requires a minimum 30-gallon tank. If you wanted to add more goldfish, each goldfish would need an additional 10-gallons space.

1 = 30g
2 = 40g
3 = 50g, and so on.
bassmonkey (author)  AquariumLover19764 years ago
alright, first off goldfish have no stomache, so they poop more and need more space, second off, i don't even do this as a hobby anymore, so stop asking questions, please, i don't want to be mean, i just  don't care
chrisewalk4 years ago
 I'd say if you are serious about this hobby, and have a good idea of what you are getting into, I would get the biggest aquarium you have the space for your freshwater aquarium setup.  A 35-55 gallon tank is a good size to work with.   
steed11725 years ago
oh another quick thing(lol) i don't have like any algae on my tank (fairly new) does it only eat algae or will it eat other stuff like bottom feeders do? also he hardly ever leaves "his" rock good or bad sign? thanks for listening to the fish noob, have a great weekend
bassmonkey (author)  steed11724 years ago
algae eaters will eat algae wafers, and their lazy, so the rock thing is ok too!
you should wait about 1 to 2 months before getting a algae eater and they only eat algae so you should feed your fish about once a day for about 1 month that will speed up the growth of algae so after about 1 month you could get a algae eater if you feed your fish everyday.
I wish I knew this earlier, my plectostomus died. I think it starved to dead :( I'll always remember it
bassmonkey (author) 4 years ago
alright, I revised it, thanks for the help!
chazman24 years ago
ive got a pleak to hes about 2 years old  now and hes fitting with by sederdontes
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Tarantulady4 years ago
PLZ revise this. Ammonia is removed by partial water changes, NOT by algae eaters and invertebrates! The biggest reason for partials is to get rid of excess ammonia that isn't taken care of by the nitrifying bacteria. The majority of times a tank goes bonkers and everything starts getting random illness and dying suddenly is because of ammonia. Ammonia is toxic to fish and damages them quickly. It is also crystal clear so you can't see it in your tank. 10 to twenty percent water changes should be done anywhere between 5 days and two weeks, depending on if the tank is overcrowded (which most tanks are). I know you mean well, but whoever told you that inverts and algae eaters make water changes less necessary was a moron or a dirty liar! Please consider reading a book about basic water quality (everyone who wants their fish to live should really consider it). It's so important to be aware of the bacterial cycles in tanks to keep fish healthy and not waste money killing fish over and over. Basically, if you need to go to the store and buy ich medicine, you've done it wrong. :P A healthy tank is very beautiful and rewarding but a sick tank is just depressing and a waste of money as well. Research always pays. Thanks for making this "ible and I think it would be good with some revision and also maybe some photos of your tank would be radical.
Tarantulady4 years ago
Tanks don't cycle until you have added either fish or ammonia. It takes two or more weeks to cycle most tanks (never happens in two days) because you need to get the ammonia-nitrogen cycle going for the nitrifying bacteria to form in the filter media. The best way to cycle without trying very hard is to get a small amount of cheap, hardy fish that don't die easily from ammonia. Let them crap up the tank and then start testing for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates after a week or so. A tank doesn't need to be the same temperature for every fish species. Some fish need it very cold or they suffocate and die or get ich. Other fish need it much much warmer. The region and type of fish has a huge impact on the proper temps. "Algae eater" fish are aggressive and don't even eat algae. Lol, I know that's crazy but it's true. They call those little suckers Chinese algae eaters to sell them bc they suck glass, but they don't clean anything and they mess up plants sometimes. They also chew other fish. You should consider revising it to list plecos instead (but also maybe mention that most species will outgrow their tanks quickly so be picky - dont get a gibbiceps pleco for a 10 gallon lol). You should maybe mention the python siphons. I have had a 55 gallon and now a 180 and those things make siphoning so freaking EASY! :) Good call on the test kits. Most people won't do it. You can also get most pet stores to test your basic stuff for cheap or free.
Tarantulady4 years ago
You may want to revise a tiny bit: A single fancy goldfish should have a minimum of twenty gallons by itself to live its full lifespan, which is approximately 80 years. A "comet" or non fancy goldfish needs even more space as they grow larger. Cold water fish should still have a small heater, because water temperature fluctuations are a major cause of stress related illness (such as ich, which is opportunistic and doesn't harm healthy fish). When the temperature goes up and down it affects the amount of oxygen in the water. The only cold water fish I keep without a heater is a betta, and that's in a part of the home where the climate is fairly constant. You may want to also add a part about the shapes of aquariums. A twenty gallon long tank has more surface tension and therefore more oxygen, which means it can house many more fish than a regular 20 gallon high and WAAAAY more fish than a crappy old 20 gallon hex. Tall tanks in general are sucky. I would never keep a hex tank because it's a waste of gallons for the fish (unless they enjoy swimming up and down all day, lol). 5 gallon tanks aren't recommended for beginners unless it is a betta fish alone. Otherwise, you have no control over climate and no margin of error. If something goes wrong, the fish all die pretty fast. I would say the minimum should be ten gallons but go higher if you have enough space and money (20 long is the ultimate beginners tank, imo). Hope that can help n_n
everywhere5 years ago
i had a betta that ate any fish that i put in with him evan the shrimp alge eaters he also liked crictets
Nebraska G5 years ago
2-3 days?! seriously it takes at least 1-2 weeks for a tank 2 cycle 2 the point where its safe for you to put fish in... (and to fully cycle at least 45 days depending on size) seriously this guys a joker if your looking 4 information on how 2 set up a tank check out http://www.fishlore.com/FirstTankSetup.htm . fishlore is the best site that I have found 4 anything like this, although in the authors defence towards the end he started to get maintenance right.
bobby45055 years ago
could a spotted puffer kill a neon tetra?is there any way to make a aggresive fish non aggressive??Help me ima noob!!!
bassmonkey (author) 5 years ago
bassmonkey (author) 5 years ago
0mg 2 ft long 0.0!?!?!?!? i got big tank but sheeeesh!
bassmonkey (author)  steed11725 years ago
i know, thats is pretty crazy, huh! but can you imagine how good that would clean your tank!, oh, by the way, goolge zebra pleco, it' s a brazillian black and white pleco, and $300!
one foot.... you mean?(it says 11" ).... don't scare me man
steed11725 years ago
meh, i just call um plecos ..... btw do you know how big they get? i have seen some large ones in some stores. thanks.
bassmonkey (author)  steed11725 years ago
they get 2 feet long in most breeds, but if you want one, you can get a rubber nose pleco, look <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.liveaquaria.com">http://www.liveaquaria.com</a><br/>
Feed your Plectostumus sparingly. I gave mine two algae pellets a day and he never ate any of the tank algae. Now he gets 2 to 3 a week. The tank looks much better for it and he comes out from hiding during the day.