The Beginner’s Freshwater Aquarium Guide

A psychiatrist with more than 50 years of clinical experience, Dr. Milton Marcilio practices in Toronto, Ontario, and consults with Frontenac Youth Services. Outside the office, Dr. Marcilio enjoys a broad range of recreational activities, including ornithology and keeping tropical fish.

The most essential piece of equipment for the amateur freshwater fish hobbyist is an aquarium, the size of which will determine the size and quantity of fish to be kept in it. Among other pieces of equipment, the necessary aquarium stand should be strong enough to support the aquarium when it is full of water, and an optional aquarium hood can prevent fish from inadvertently jumping out of the aquarium as well as protect them from inquisitive cats or other household pets.

The water in an aquarium is kept clean by means of a filter, as the pump sends water through the media inside the filter to remove small particles. The media also hosts colonies of bacteria that process toxic substances in the water, like ammonia and nitrites. Aquarium hobbyists must also keep water testing kits to monitor water quality.

It is advisable to put a layer of gravel or some similar material on the aquarium floor. Sand is popular with some types of fish. Note that some colored substrates that might be interesting to humans produce stress in fish; therefore, aquarium experts recommend natural colors. Aquarium keepers should thoroughly clean substrate material before adding it to an aquarium.

Live and artificial plants add to an aquarium’s visual appeal but again should be selected with the fish in mind, as some fish eat plants. Choose further decorations with an eye toward accommodating the fish. They appreciate places where they can hide, for example. Pet stores sell rocks in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Other essentials include cleaning equipment, buckets, and a good collection of towels and wipes.

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