“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” B. Franklin:
New aquarium hobbyists are sometimes overwhelmed by the choices of aquarium supplies and concentrate on the minimum to set up their new aquarium. Most retail outlets will offer kits that include the basics; tank, top, light, filter, heater, thermometer, water conditioner and maybe a choice of substrate. The excitement of the new aquarium and all the advice on setting up and running the aquarium can overload the senses and once it is done, you wish to be done with it! But, now is the time to prepare for emergencies that will occur somewhere in the near future. As with the initial set-up, the list of needed supplies can seem long and confusing but most of these supplies will become part of the maintenance of the system in the future.
“You may delay, but time will not.”B. Franklin:
One of the most basic of maintenance tasks is the ability to make a partial water change. This could be part of the normal water quality program, to remove medications after a treatment, to prepare for new arrivals or in response to an emergency situation. It is this last option that requires the most preparation to be able to do rapidly. The first step will require some method to remove the water with either a siphon/gravel vacuum or sink water changer system. For freshwater fish, this can be as simple as draining the water and then mixing the hot/cold at the tap to the right temperature and refilling the aquarium. Depending on your tap water, you may need to neutralize either chlorine of chloramines to make the water safe. If you have altered the pH of a freshwater aquarium or this is a saltwater aquarium, then you will need to have prepared water ready to go. Usually this prepared water was produced by a Reverse Osmosis system and kept in a container for mixing with either buffers or salt mixes. Since RO units produce water at a slow rate (1-2 gal/hr), if the volume of water needed is greater than the amount stored, it would be best to have a quick method to produce purified water like the Tap Water Filter (10 gal/hr) on hand for emergencies. You will also need reserve supplies of either the buffers/electrolytes for a freshwater aquarium, or teh marine salt mix to make up fresh saltwater.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” B. Franklin:
A good maintenance plan to keep excellent water quality and the use of a Quarantine Aquarium can eliminate over 90% of most aquarium problems. Unfortunately, most hobbyists do not use a Quarantine Aquarium and therefore take the risk of importing a problem every time they make a new purchase. To combat this they need to have general cures for most common diseases and parasites at the ready for immediate use. A good, safe bacterial treatment can be the all natural Melafix and for parasite infestations either Cupramine or Rid Ich+ can be used. For a mini-reef aquarium you would need a reef safe parasite treatment like No Ich Marine or Stop Parasites. Most parasite medications require you to remove the chemical media and you will want to have more on hand to use once the treatment is done. To have the ability to set up a Hospital Tank on short notice would require having a smaller, 10-20 gallon aquarium on hand, a heater, air pump or powerhead, inert ornaments (PVC pipe, Resin Rocks) and maybe a small light. I always suggested that the Hospital Tank be filled with water from the display tank, and if you needed to make a partial water change in the Hospital Tank after a few days of treatment, still use the water from the display tank and put the “new” water into the display tank. Another great product to have available during treatments, especially for bacterial problems would be Ammo Lock II to add to the water to control any excess ammonia. If you had to treat for a bacterial infection in the display aquarium, you will want to have one of the Nitrifying Bacteria cultures to help re-establish the biological filter.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” B. Franklin:
Hobbyists have access to massive amounts of information on the aquarium hobby, the fish and equipment used to maintain the tank, suggestions on tank set-up and how to solve certain problems. As with most things on the web, you need to filter the facts through a couple of sources before you accept them as the gospel. You should also check to see if there is a aquarium society near you as these can be a great source of information, experience and enjoyment. If nothing else, you can participate on one of the many on line forums devoted to diffeent aspects of the aquarium experience. Learning about the difference species of fish before you buy them can eliminate introducing incompatable fish and allow you to adjust the water parameters to provide the best living conditions. Knowledge can also let you plan on that next larger aquarium when the juvenile fish you just bought gets near adult size! Knowledge will also give you the confidence to try another type of aquarium, maybe a planted feshwater aquarium or a mini-reef saltwater aquarium and avoid some of the pitfalls of a new adventure in aquarium keeping. Who knew Benjamin Franklin knew so much about the aquarium hobby?