Simple Tropical Fish Tank Setup for Beginners #ad
#ad This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Mars Fishcare and the API brand. We have received a Tropical Fish Tank and all the necessary equipment to keep tropical fish at home.
I still remember my first pet fish. It was a black veiltail goldfish with black big eyes protruding from her head that I won at the fair when I was a little girl. It was so exciting walking home with this little black fish in a bag and popping her into a big glass bowl to watch her swim around. I called her Black Beauty – I know, it took me a long time to think of that one! This was when my love of aquariums began, and fishkeeping is something that I still enjoy doing with my family today.
Fishkeeping Advice from the Expert
A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a live virtual event together with a group of bloggers which was being hosted by Gary Jones of the API Brand and Mars Fishcare. Gary is a self-proclaimed fish nerd and his passion for fishkeeping was abundantly clear to see. Mars Fishcare has been leading the aquatics industry for nearly 60 years so basically what they don’t know about fishkeeping, isn’t worth knowing. They are responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of premium quality water conditioners, fish food, test kits and medication for indoor aquariums and pond fish.
Gary educated us about how to properly set up and take care of our own freshwater tropical community tank in just a few very simple steps:
Complete Tropical Fish Tank Setup
The best size tropical fish tank for someone new to fishkeeping would be 55-75 litres. Take note that it is the surface area of the water which provides the oxygen for the fish so the larger the surface area, the more oxygen in the freshwater tank and the more fish you can keep.
Tropical fish need tanks with warm water usually between 24-27°C which is achieved by adding a heater to the tropical fish tank which will keep the water at the desired temperature by means of a thermostat.
You will need a light which will help the fish to acclimatise to a day and night cycle. The tropical fish tank we have been given is the Aqua Leddy 60 which comes with a day/night bulb which has a white light to mimic the sun and blue light to mimic the moon. On average the tropical fish need 8-16 hours of white light and 8-12 hours of blue light.
Air Pumps/ filters
Most tropical fish tanks also come with a filter which helps to pump oxygen into the tank water as well as suck out all the fish waste and traps them in the filter sponge which will need replacing regularly to keep your tank in optimal condition.
You will need to place items of interest in your tank where the fish can hide, rest and move around. Try to add items of different heights which will make your tank look more interesting and have holes and crevices where the fish can swim through or into. Think about adding artificial or live plants, rocks, statues and of course you will need sand or gravel to cover the base of the tanks. The larger the gravel pieces, the more the fish waste will get trapped and secrete toxins.
NB: Wash the decorations, plants and gravel/sand well in a bucket before adding it to the tropical fish tank otherwise you will end up with cloudy water.
Setting up a Tropical Fish Tank for the first time
So, you have your new tank. You have covered the base of the tank with sand or gravel, you have placed all the plants and decoration in the tank. Now it’s time to fill it with water.
You can fill the tank straight from the tap, a trick I learnt so as not to displace all the sand or gravel is to place an upside-down saucer on the gravel and gently pour the water onto the centre of the plate until the water has got high enough to not disturb the gravel. Once you have filled the tank to about an inch from the top of the tank you can turn the heater, pump and light on. It will usually take a few hours for the heater to fully warm the water in the tank.
In the past (and still in some aquatics shops) you would have been told you needed to leave your water to ‘sit’ for a few days to allow the chemicals in the water to settle. This is where API Fishcare products come in and make the whole process of setting up your tank quick and easy.
API Quick Start
This introduces nitrifying bacteria to the water which will convert the toxic ammonia (fish urine) into nitrite and eventually into nitrate which would kill fish if left untreated. You should use API QuickStart when first setting up your tropical fish tank, after monthly water changes and following filter changes.
API Stress Zyme
Stress Zyme should be added to the tank when you add new fish. It contains over 300 million live bacteria, it removes chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals from the tap water. This will help to heal the fish who may have been damaged when being caught in the shop. It contains aloe vera which has also been scientifically proven to reduce stress for the fish
When used regularly as part of your monthly schedule API Stress Zyme guarantees an active biological filter, cleaner aquarium, good water quality and a healthy fish community.
API Aquarium Salt
No ordinary salt, this is evaporated sea salt which should be added to the water when setting up and at each water change to replenish essential electrolytes which the fish need to keep their beautiful colours and energy. Aquarium salt also enhances fish health by improving gill function.
API 5-in-1 Test Strips
You can use the strips to keep a close eye on the chemical levels in your water to ensure the best environment for your fish community to survive. The strips will tell you in just a few seconds the pH, KH, GH, nitrate and nitrite parameters. There are full instructions in the box to help you correct any levels which might not be as you would expect. You can also ask at your local aquatics shop for advice or contact API Fishcare who will be only too happy to help.
Buying your new fish
If only it were as simple as going in the shop and saying I’ll have one of those, one of those and two of those. Provided you are not in a rush to fill your tank with fish I would first advise researching online for the best species of fish to live together peacefully in a tropical fish community. I found Aquarian to be a really helpful resource with this.
Years ago I had a beautiful Siamese Fighter, my favourite fish, but I didn’t consider its name very well. They have high levels of aggression and are very territorial, in just one week it killed the majority of my tetras.
If you find the internet too time-consuming I would suggest finding a reputable aquatics shop and seek the advice of the experts there. We have three fantastic aquatics retailers nearby and they are all super friendly and full of knowledge. Start by telling them the size of your tank and what sort of fish you are looking for. For example, when I purchased my new fish friends I decided I wanted a catfish but was advised against it as I have gravel, not sand and this wears away their teeth which doesn’t bode well for eating and good health.
Introducing the Fish to the Tank
I have always been taught to float the bag containing the fish for 10 minutes at the top of the tank to allow the water temperatures to reach the same level. Then gently snip the top of the bag and carefully submerge the top of the bag into the water (tipping it sideways) so the fish can swim out of their own accord.
What to feed your fish
Aquarian Tropical Flake Food offers the fish a complete and balanced diet regardless of the breed provided there are tropical fish. It is a nutrient-rich blend containing Vit C & E which supports the immune system and has high protein content to encourage healthy growth. Feed your fish twice a day with enough food which can be consumed within 3-4 minutes. I find it is better to start little and add more if they still appear hungry so as not to overwhelm the tank.
Ongoing Care of your Tropical Fish
To ensure that your fish tank stays in optimal condition, it is recommended that you perform a 25% water change once a month. Gary suggested this is done using a length of the tube and the gravity method. If you move the pipe around in the gravel at the bottom of the tank it will also remove any waste which has become trapped. The fish can remain in the tank whilst you perform the water change but try to disturb them as little as possible to alleviate stress.
Refill the tank with fresh tap water (or you can add some deionised water if you live in a hard water area as we do) and then add the API Fishcare Products once again to make the tap water safe for the fish. Take care to only measure for the additional water you have added to the tank, not the full tank measurement.
Benefits of Fishkeeping
Reduces Stress and Improves Mental Health
I used to notice how the waiting room at the dentist and the doctors always had a tropical fish tank. I used to think it was because they wanted pretty water features but now that I am older and wiser (yes really) I realise that it is because the simple act of watching the fish swimming around reduces your heart rate and therefore your stress levels. It offers a real calming effect which helps people to deal with stress better and manage their mental health.
If you sit in the same room as your tropical fish tank before bed, the calming effect will help you to relax leading to a better nights sleep. If the tank is in your bedroom you’ll also have the soothing white noise to help you drift off.
Lowers Blood Pressure
As your stress levels reduce and you begin to get better quality sleep, your body will begin to feel better and function more efficiently. It has been proven that watching an empty fish tank can reduce the heart rate by 3% but when watching a tank filled with tropical fish, the heart rate was reduced by 7%.
Improved Focus and Creativity
When your mind and body are feeling calm, your mind has the ability to focus better which is exactly the reason that I placed my new tropical fish tank in my office. The quiet trickling of the water is so relaxing and stops my mind wandering, it’s a bit like meditation music.
Educational and easy for kids
Fishkeeping is a relatively simple first foray into a family pet for children. You don’t need to walk them, they won’t keep you awake at night and they won’t bite you. Children will learn to observe their pets from a safe distance, learn how to care for their pets and learn a bit of science along the way if you can explain to them what the different API Fishcare products do to the water to make it safe for the fish and using the testing strips to rectify any problems.
All children love the change to feed the fish, mine especially but be careful to supervise them when doing so as they can easily overfeed them. I remember one time I allowed Albie to feed them thinking it was Ollie who is very responsible. Albie tipped half the pot of food into the water and I spent the next half an hour trying to remove it with a net!!
Stay up to date with all the latest news and advice from the experts:
September 27 at 11:16 am
I must admit, I used to love our fish tanks. We had two tropical tanks when we first moved in together with so many species. We then had a marine tank for a while too. Watching fish swim is so relaxing.
September 28 at 11:26 am
They are so therapeutic to watch, I love them.
September 28 at 10:52 am
What a fascinating insight into keeping fish. I had no idea that they needed different kinds of light!
September 28 at 11:26 am
Thank you, I am pleased you found it interesting.
Life Love and Dirty Dishes
September 28 at 1:12 pm
My Dad always kept tropical fish when I was growing up. My mum used to go mad when he would come home with a bigger tank!!! I loved it when the fish had babies.
October 15 at 1:46 pm
Haha, I can just imagine!! I have always been nervous about my fish having babies so I tend to only buy males.
September 28 at 1:12 pm
This is such an informative post! My step-dad kept tropical fish for ages and lovely pets xx
October 15 at 1:47 pm
So pleased you found it helpful. My father-in-law used to have a huge tropical tank which I loved watching x
September 28 at 7:47 pm
Your tank looks really lovely. I love the colours of the stones you used. It’s fun watching the fish swim about. I used to keep tropical fish.
October 15 at 1:47 pm
Thank you, yes I really like the stones this time. I usually go for darker stones so this has been a welcome change.
September 28 at 8:24 pm
Erin would love to have fish but I don’t know anywhere around here where we could get everything set up.
October 15 at 1:48 pm
Oh that’s a shame, if you’re near a Pets at Home or a good garden centre you’ll probably be able to get something x
September 29 at 11:02 am
This is such a great post and packed with info. I think people forget how hard fish can be to look after especially tropical and you need the right food and equipment xx
October 15 at 1:48 pm
You do need the right equipment but it’s much easier than you would imagine x