We are discussing about the general setup for the Tropical and Coldwater aquarium. The differences between Tropical and Coldwater aquarium are assumed to be understood by everyone and hence will not be discussed in great details. Below is a break down of the comparison of the 2 type of aquarium.

Cold Water -Low Variety of Species, High Availability, Low Fish-stocking density, Low cost of set-up

Tropical – High Variety of species, High Availability, High Fish-stocking density, Low cost of set-up

Start-up equipment needed for both type of aquariums:

– Aquarium Tank

– Hood

– Filter

– Substrate

– Water conditioners

– Test kit

– Thermometer

– Heater (Tropical)

– Decoration

– Stand

Aquarium Tank

When you are choosing your first tank, take time before purchasing to make sure that you are buying the right tank for you and for you fish. There’s a wide range of tank designs available but the one preferred generally is the standard rectangular shaped tank. This is because rectangular tanks, being 2 or 3 times as long as they are wide, have a large surface area for the exchange of gases and the uptake of oxygen by the water. Also, better for them in terms of the swimming space it provides. Bigger is better for any aquarium, as even a large aquarium is very small compared to the natural range that any fish has been used to in the wild. The larger the tank, the most water it will hold and the more fish it will be able to sustain and support. It will also provide more stable water conditions than a small tank.

Below is a guide to stocking level:

Coldwater — 2.5cm (1 in) of fish per 60 sq cm (9.3 sq in) of tank water surface area

Tropical — 2.5cm (1 in) of fish per 30 sq cm (4.65 sq in) of tank water surface area

Note: Surface area of the aquarium if calculated by multiplying the length by the width.

Hood

Serve as a place for your lightings .Unless you are having an open concept set-up; it is generally an important part of the tank. Lower evaporation rate of the water, preventing dust from getting into the tank and avoid fish from jumping out of the aquarium are some important aspect of having a hood.

Filter

Filtration is the life-support system for any aquarium and is vitally important for the well-bring of the fish that live within it. Without exception, all aquarium fish need filtered water that is free from pollutants, which is left to build up can be hazardous to their health. Unfiltered aquariums are not safe for living fish since, unless the water is changed several times a day, fish become poisoned by their own waste products and may die as a result.

Type of Filtration (Specific info about filtration coming soon):

Mechanical Filtration – This is carried out by passing water through media that are designed to trap particles and remove them from the water column. Mechanical filter media can be in the form of a sponge or fine wool, and are cheap and readily available. Most filters work mechanically, and the effectiveness of the process is indicated by the way the tank water clears.

Biological Filtration – This method harnesses the power of nature by providing areas within the filter where microscopic bacteria can live and multiply. The media should have a high surface area in relation to their volume, so that more bacteria can live within the space. All tanks will have some sort of natural biological filter either from the bacteria that live on the surface of the substrate or the surface of the plants.

Chemical Filtration – This process is where chemical pollutants and metals are removed from the water by special absorbent resins and granules. Once saturated, the media are normally spent so are then discarded and replaced. The most common form of chemical medium available is aquarium-grade carbon, which can remove dyes, odours and medications from tank water, as well as chlorine from tap water.

The substrate of any aquarium is the material that is placed on the bottom of the tank for decoration. Traditional substrates include sands and gravels, which can be found naturally in the any body of water. In most freshwater aquariums the substrate should be inert, which means that it will not dissolve or leach elements into the water particularly any that may affect the pH of the tank water.

Different type of substrate

Pea gravel

This material is an excellent choice for coldwater and tropical aquariums and is safe to use with all types of fish. It is available in sizes from 4mm (1/8 in) up to 2cm (3/4 in), and its round particles make it good for fish that like to dig. It will not readily compact and it can also be easily cleaned. Pea gravel should be used in a layer about 5cm (2 in) deep. It offers good anchoring for plants, the smaller particle sizes being best for prolonged plant growth.

Silica sand

Silica is available as sand and grit and can be used in all freshwater aquariums. It is very dirty when first purchased and will take a lot of rinsing before the water runs clear. Its colour is similar to that of soil and it can be used to good effect for creating natural-style aquariums. Its small particle size is useful for plant growth and it should be used at a depth between 2.5cm (1 in), where there are no natural plants, and 10cm (4 in) for heavily planted aquariums.

Silver sand

This is the original universal aquarium substrate, given that it is found naturally all over the world in streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. Its name is a little inaccurate, since its overall colour is golden and is essentially the same material as that found on most beaches. It needs to be washed thoroughly when first purchased, and it can be messy to work with because its tiny particles get everywhere. Plants can be grown in it, but some species are better suited to it than others. For a heavily planted tank, mix silver sand with substrate fertilizer and use a heating cable to prevent stagnation.

Colour gravels

There is a huge market for colour gravels and every imaginable colour is available, from black to shocking pink. It is mainly used in ornamental aquariums and can liven up tanks that are not brightly lit. Light colours will attract algae growth and should be regularly cleaned to prevent it. Black gravel looks attractive in natural-style aquariums and highlights fish and plant coloration. Wash all colour gravels because a lot of plant covering will have ground off the gravel particles in the bag.

Grit

Grit is a term used for substrates with a particle size between fine sand and fine gravel – that is, 2-3 mm (1/16 – 1/8in) and is fine enough to encourage plant root growth within it.

Pro and Cons summary of various substrates,

Pea gravel

Pros

– Easy to clean; inert; safe for all fish

Cons

– Too coarse for some plants to grow in

Silica sand

Pros

-Cheap; Natural looking; good for plant growth

Cons

-Needs thorough washing when purchased to remove dust

Silver sand

Pros

-Natural looking; suitable for all aquariums

Cons

-Prone to clogging; particles can end up in filter chambers and power heads

Colour gravel

Pros

-Brighten up aquariums; popular with children

Cons

-Colours fade over time bright colours attract algae growth

Grit

Pros

-Small enough to anchor plants

Cons

-Can be dirty when first purchased

Water conditioners

There is much different type of Water conditioners out there for aquarium. But the most important we are talking about here is Chlorine Neutralizer. The water coming out from our type has abundances of chlorine contained in it and we want to remove it. It’s optional to have water conditioners as by leaving water in a buckets or tanks for over 24hrs will have most of its chlorine content removed naturally.

Test kits

The importance of water testing for modern aquarist cannot be underestimated. Water testing can tell us so much more about how the tank is running than is possible with the naked eye. Water can be crystal clear and yet still contain extremely high levels of toxic ammonia and nitrite, as well as nitrate and phosphate. The pH and hardness of aquarium water are also impossible to tell just by looking, so a test kit can be used to determine whether particular pollutants are present and whether subsequent action should be taken.

Test kits work by using reagents that change colour, which can then be cross-referenced against colour charts. Usually each reagent will test for only one parameter, such as pH, and so a kit will include several different tests. A recommended test kit is the Freshwater Master Test Kit (Picture above). The kit is complete for testing tap water and aquarium water. It includes pH (6.0 to 7.6), high range pH (7.4 to 8.8), Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. A cheap and reliable test kit to buy.

I will try to set up a more thorough explanation of test kits sometimes in future.

Thermometers are an inexpensive necessity; it monitors the most important attribute of the fish tank. Something can always go wrong with your aquarium heater and you need to know it immediately. Read the thermometer at least once a day is important as if something goes wrong with your heater, it could be deadly. There are many type of aquarium thermometer out there in the market. Choose one that you like best.

Heater

The temperature of the world’s ocean, lake and river differs considerably and the fish that inhabit each ecosystem have evolved to thrive in certain temperature range. Fish that we consider to be tropical live in a water temperature of 24-30°C (75 – 86 °F) all year round, with tropical marine fish living in a more stable environment of an almost constant temperature of 24°C (75°F). Heating the water in an aquarium to the temperature required for tropical species is both simple and inexpensive.

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