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Aquarium Buying Guide

Sponsored by Hagen

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Photos: Hagen Aquariums
Aquariums offer a great way to bring the beauty of aquatic life into your home. The large assortment of aquarium styles, cabinets, and equipment available today provide unlimited options for creating a custom and unique focal point in your home. 

This guide will help you learn the basics about selecting and setting up your aquarium. It's also recommended that you research thoroughly before you begin to ensure the fish, plants and decorations you choose are compatible. 

Aquarium Choices and Considerations

Dimensions- The surface area of your aquarium is important because it will contribute to proper oygenation and helps you determine how and were to display the tank for the best view. Height needs to be considered for placement as well, but is also important because many marine and fresh water environments can benefit from having taller aquariums and different "levels" for different species of aquatic life. 

Weight- A general weight estimate is about 10 pounds per gallon for a complete aquarium set-up. Ensure that the stand you will be using can accomodate the total expected weight. Most household furniture is not recommended to hold an aquarium. 

Sizing- Most people are limited on aquarium size by where they intend to the place their new set-up. In general, it is best to select the largest size you can for your space. More space will allow for a more stable aquatic environment and enables you to choose from a larger variety of fish and plant species. 

Aquarium Type- There are two materials used in aquarium construction, acrylic and glass. Glass is preferable as it will better resist discoloration and scratches. 

Basic Equipment to Getting Your Aquarium Started

  • Aquarium Tank 
  • Canopy
  • Sturdy Base
  • Filtration System 
  • Heater
  • Thermometer
  • Test Kits and Water Treatment Materials
  • Rocks, Gravel and Decoration 
  • Live Plants

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The basic equipment to get started. 
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Aquarium Quick Start Steps

  1. Unpack your aquarium and all the parts. Rinse the aquarium thoroughly with warm water. DO NOT use detergents or commercial cleansers. 
  2. Place the aquarium on its stand. Make sure to position the tank away from drafts, heating ducts, and direct sunlight. 
  3. Add gravel, plants, and other decor. 
  4. Assemble and install the filter and heater. DO NOT plug into power at this time. 
  5. Using conditioned water, gently fill the tank. Pour the water onto a plate to break the force and not disturb the gravel and plants. Verify that the tank does not leak. 
  6. Once the tank is full, position the aquarium canopy and plug in the heater, filter, and light. Ensure the temperature has stablized between 75° F and 80° F   (24° C and 27° C) for most fish. 

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10 Basic Rules for a Successful Aquarium

  1. Fish should be fed two to three times a day, the appropriate amount of food is what a fish can consume within two minutes. 
  2. Make sure not to overcrowd your aquarium with too many fish. 
  3. Establish a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule and stick to it for feedings, cleanings, and maintenance. 
  4. Select fish that can mix well together in regards to water temperature, behavior, and water chemistry. 
  5. When choosing filtration, consider contact time, filter media volume, and other factors that impact filter output. 
  6. Incorporate live plants whenever possible. 
  7. Choose the largest aquarium you can for your space. More volume equals a more stable environment for your fish. 
  8. Make maintaining stable conditions a priority for success.
  9. Form a plan when setting up your aquarium. Choose plants, rocks, wood, and other decor that are complementary. 
  10. Have fun! Use the experience of setting up and maintaining an aquarium as an opportunity to learn more about the underwater world.