Fishkeeping isn’t just a hobby it is a passion. I can sit in front of a beautifully planted tank for hours on end. But as a lot of beginners find out the hard way there is a lot of things that can and will go wrong with keeping fish. As you dive into the hobby of fishkeeping there will be lots to learn, meaning a lot of unanswered questions. In this article, I aim to answer all those types of questions that beginners ask the more experienced aquarists. Hopefully, in turn, this will help you to keep a beautiful vibrant healthy tank.
How Do I Cycle A Tank?
Cycling a tank is something that used to be unheard of back in the day. It can also get a little bit confusing and daunting to beginners new to the hobby. But believe me, this method is well worth doing before adding any life into your tank. It is basically a way of getting good bacteria in your tank to get rid of all the nasties such as ammonia and nitrates. Water parameters are a vital part of fish keeping and should really be learned before purchasing any type of setup. Below is a short video on how to cycle a fish tank for the first time.
Does A Heater Cause Algae?
No, a heater does not cause algae, although some types of algae do prefer warmer water. Excess nutrients and sunlight are the main reasons you may suffer from algae, not the temperature of the water. Never place an aquarium in direct sunlight, without a doubt you will end up with an algae problem. To tackle the excess nutrients in a tank get yourself some live plants. Plants need nutrients to survive and will compete with the algae for any nutrients in the tank.
Can I Grow Plants In Gravel?
Yes, you certainly can grow plants in gravel. Pea shingle or gravel are one of the most popular substrates among aquarists. Substrates are the material that you use on the bottom of your tank and are quite an important feature in any tank. The top 3 substrates that are generally used are gravel, sand, and aqua soil. When using gravel I like to keep it small, 5mm is the maximum size I prefer. This makes it easy to move around for aquascaping and the perfect size for root growth. Also, any bottom feeders you have can forage around in it nice and easy.
Use Some Tweezers For Placing Plants
When placing any plants in the gravel it is worth getting yourself some aquascaping tweezers or anything similar. To be honest any long tweezers will do the job. These make it easier to place any little plants into your gravel. Simply pick the plants up by the base using the tweezers and gently wiggle the plant into the gravel. In time the plants will spread their roots and anchor themselves down nicely.
Do I Have To Feed Aquarium Plants?
Live plants need nutrients to survive and will soon use up what is available in their surroundings. For this reason, you will have to feed them. There are many different plant foods out there but the one I use is API leaf zone. This is a liquid fertilizer that you simply add to the water. You could also use root tabs. Root tabs are little dissolvable tablets that release fertilizer. You drop these in the bottom of your tank and they feed directly to the roots of the plants. Some plants such as Anubias and Amazon sword get their nutrients from the water column though, so be sure to check with your plant supplier which ones are suited to your needs.
Do I Need A Spare Fishtank?
When most people set up a fish tank they don’t even think about setting up another one. (not straight away anyway). But getting another small tank up and running is certainly well worthwhile. The main reason for this is to have somewhere to quarantine sick fish. It is quite a common fault of beginners to fish keeping to mix fish that are not compatible with each other. This can cause fish to get bullied and become severely stressed. Stress can lead to all manner of complications in fish and should be avoided at all costs. Please research your chosen fish thoroughly before purchasing.
Diseases can also find their way into almost all fishtanks at some stage. If you see any signs of disease in your fish, or they just don’t seem themselves, you will want to get them in the quarantine tank as soon as possible. The disease can spread surprisingly quickly among a fish community, separating affected fish is highly advisable. Just be sure to keep your water parameters the same in both tanks.
Should My Aquarium Light Be On 24 Hrs?
The simple answer to this is no, an aquarium light should not be kept on 24 hours a day. Both fish and live plants, as well as shrimp, snails etc will need a break from the light to thrive. Another good reason not to leave your light on 24 hours is algae. If you have excessive nutrients in your tank and a light that is left on 24 hrs this can cause an algae bloom. Algae in general aren’t harmful in your tank, but they can ruin the look of it. So keep your light on for 6 to 8 hours via a timer. If you have plenty of live plants then these should help to use up the excessive nutrients. If you do get an algae bloom get yourself some algae eaters. Just be sure to check if they are compatible with your setup.
Do I Need A Lid On My Fishtank?
Having a lid on your fish tank isn’t by no means a necessity. That being said it all depends on what fish you are keeping in the tank. Some sharks such as the red-tailed black shark, betta fish, and hatchet fish are just a few that could easily jump out of your tank and end up on the floor. So be sure to research your fish if you want a lidless tank. Here are a few pros and cons on whether to have a lid on your tank or not.
Reasons To Have A Lid On A Fish Tank
Like I said, to have a lid or not is a personal preference, But one of the main reasons for a lid is to stop fish jumping out. Some fish such as betta fish are pretty good jumpers and could easily leave the tank. If fish are stressed, being chased, or needing oxygen they may well take a leap of faith out of the water, a lid will stop this from happening. Always research your fish before purchasing.
Another thing you will find is the water will evaporate pretty quickly without a lid, especially if the tank is heated. For this reason, you will find yourself topping up the water quite frequently. A lid will also keep the temperature in the tank stable, which will save your heater from turning on and off all the time. And last but not least, if you have kids a lid can be a godsend. It is surprising what can end up in there.
Reasons To Not Have An Aquarium Lid
Nowadays, plenty of aquarists do not have a lid on their aquariums. One of the main reasons for this is due to aquascaping. Driftwood and bogwood can look truly stunning when used correctly protruding out the top of an aquarium. The same applies to plants as well. Apart from also looking the part, accessibility is another good thing about an open-top aquarium. There isn’t any messing around trying to get the lid off to gain access to your tank.
What Are The Benefits Of Live Aquarium Plants?
When setting up your first aquarium one of the choices you will have to make is whether or not to have live plants. Sure you could have plastic ones, and some of them even look pretty good but there are certain benefits of having live ones over plastic. Here is some of the reasons why I would always choose to have live plants in my aquarium.
Live Plants Look Nicer
As the heading suggests, let’s face it, live plants in aquariums just look better than plastic ones. To me, a good aquarium will mimic the natural world as close as we can get it. Natural colours and natural movement just can’t be beaten by anything made of plastic.
Live Plants Help With Water Parameters
Live plants in an aquarium produce oxygen. Oxygen is much needed to keep all of your livestock alive and kicking. Whilst producing oxygen they are also sucking up unwanted ammonia and nasty nitrates keeping your water safer from all types of nasties.
Live Plants Help To Keep Algae Down
There are two main things in an aquarium that will entice unwanted algae to grow. These are sunlight and excessive nutrients. This is where live plants step in to save the day once more. Plants also need nutrients to thrive, and will often use the nutrients up before the algae get a chance to do so. Established live plants can make a considerable difference to your algae levels, helping to keep your tank nice and clean.
Live Plants Are Good For Fish Welfare
Well, let’s face it, fish spend a lot of their time amongst live plants in their natural surroundings. If a fish is stressed or being chased by a bully or a predator, the plants make a perfect place to hideaway. A lot of fish will also choose live plants over anything else to lay their eggs on.