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joey'd is da man
14,077 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my guide to setting up a community aquarium.
you will need:

-A fish tank
-P.H. chemicals
-Aquarium salt
-Test kits
-airpump & accessories*
-undergravel filter base & uprights*
-A tank stand *
-A polystyrene base plate*
-A hood *
-A light unit *

* = optional, but recommended.

Obviously the first thing to do when planning to set up a community tank is to decide which fish you are going to keep, this will enable you to determine what size tank you will be needing. Once you have done all this and you have bought all the equipment you are ready to start.

You need to put the tank on the stand, remembering to put in a lair of polystyrene between them to help protect the tank, otherwise you might find cracks in the base of the tank or a gap between the tank and its stand.

Then you might want to add an undergravel filter base & uprights - only if you are using one - and add the gravel, tank decorations, heater and filter - if you didn't go for the undergravel option.

When decorating the tank you should always remember that it in not just a medium for artistic talent, but a home for your fish, so decorate with plants, rocks, and driftwood ensuring there are plenty of hiding places for the fish. The closer it is to their natural habitat - the happier they will be. It is also advised that you put the driftwood and rocks in a separate container of water for a couple of days and check the pH before and after to see if it changed.

When choosing a filter or heater you should always get the one which is designed for the tank size you have, for larger tanks this may require more than one filter or heater - ask at your local fish shop if you are unsure.

Recommended types of filter include Aquaclears, Emperors and wet/dry filters. Also I would recommend getting a heater with a built-in thermostat, otherwise you will also need to buy a separate thermostat and link it to your heater.

You might also be adding airstones, these will help by adding oxygen into the water and also by ensuring that the waters surface is not stagnant. It is important to remember that if your airpump is going to be situated below the waters height you will need either an anti-siphon loop (a loop in the airline) or a one-way valve to ensure that no water siphons down the airline into your pump.

Now it is time to add the water, you will not have to heat the water first because there are no fish, some fish may require salt to be added, so now is the time to do so, and also add some P.H. chemicals - most community fish will do just fine in a pH of 7.0 (neutral), Personally I use Proper pH 7.0 from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, it sets the P.H. straight at 7.0 so you don't have to worry. I find it is best to add the powder and salt to boiled water - it dissolves better.

Now you might have to put the light unit inside the tank hood and place on tank and plug in! not all fish are not too fond of bright lights, so beware when choosing the bulb and if neccesary try to get one of the dimmer kinds, or you could wrap electrical tape around a normal aquarium light like a candy cane which will also have a dimming effect on the light. You also might find it easier with all the plugs to get an Interpet Aquarium Cable-Connector so you only have one main plug.

Do not add expensive fish until the tank has finished cycling - "when all the Ammonia, nitrates and nitrites are safe" - This may take a couple of weeks.
To cycle your tank you will need to either add a source of pure ammonia, or add some expendable fish, but this does cause ammonia burn on the fish and this can damage to the fish or even cause death so it is recommended to only use goldfish or other expendable fish if any fish at all.
You should get test kits covering P.H, Nitrites, Nitrates, and Ammonia. Alternatively your local fish shop will do these tests for you at a small price, or sometimes even free, and you should also get some dechlorinator and P.H. powder (I use Proper pH 7.0 from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals) for water changes every 1-2 weeks.

You should not change any water for at least 2 months after setting the tank up, this will allow the vital bacteria build up.

Enjoy your fish!
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