The Fish Supplies You Need To Build an Aquarium
Congrats! You’ve just bought your first freshwater fish. Or perhaps you’ve chosen a saltwater fish. Whether it’s a betta or a clownfish, you want to be sure to properly outfit his home. Plants, rock décor, and colorful gravel help keep your fish healthy and comfortable, but before you get that far, make sure you’ve covered the basics, keeping in mind the various needs of freshwater and saltwater fish.
Filters: Filters are essential to keeping your fish’s tank clean. Filters have three jobs: allow good bacteria to colonize (biological filtration), strain out excess particles (mechanical filtration), and remove toxins (chemical filtration). The majority of filters, like power filters, cover all these tasks. While you’ll still have to clean your tank regularly, filters do most of the work for you—quietly, too.
- Freshwater fish: If you have live plants in your freshwater tank, stay away from under gravel filters, wet/dry filters, or power filters as they disrupt the plants’ flow of carbon dioxide. In the case of under gravel filters, they may get tangled in the plants’ roots. Consider a canister filter, which provides additional carbon dioxide to benefit your plants and fish.
Heaters & Lighting: Like a house, a fish’s tank needs heating and lighting. For every gallon of water, your heater should supply about five watts of power, meaning larger aquariums might need two heaters to distribute the heat. A thermometer will help you regulate the heat, especially considering the warmth from the light can change the temperature. If you have only fish in your tank, a fluorescent light is perfectly fine. You can turn the light off when you go to bed. Typically the light should be on for 8 hours per day.
- Freshwater fish: If you have live plants in your freshwater aquarium, your plants may need a higher wattage light.
- Saltwater fish: If you have coral in your saltwater aquarium, you will also need more light, as coral relies on light for its nutrition.
Food: Like people, fish enjoy variety in their diets. Flakes are a good starting point for your fish, but make sure you switch it up sometimes. This is as simple as providing supplements or trying freeze-dried or pellet foods, all of which are good alternatives to the messy and sometimes risky live food, which may harbor disease and bacteria. Feeding blocks are a reliable way to keep your fish nourished while you’re on vacation.