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Thursday
Oct212010

Freshwater, Saltwater, Reef, or Live Plant Tank, Which Aquarium is for Me?

Choosing what type of aquarium to set up can be quite the difficult task. Setting up a fish only freshwater aquarium is a choice for many who are just starting in the hobby of keeping fish, but it may not be the best choice.

Your current knowledge of aquarium keeping is a big starting point. Instead of ranking them in difficulty, you might consider what you really want, and what kind of time you are willing to invest. Keeping an aquarium properly maintained is no easy task, but it can be a very rewarding experience, and the knowledge gained can last a lifetime. No matter what size aquarium you get, you must understand that a small tank is not always easier. Larger tanks are actually easier because of more water volume, so any mistake or problem encountered can be easily handled.

Freshwater AquariumThe aquarium maintenance for a freshwater tank is going to be very simple: checking your fish daily, feeding them once or twice a day, and cleaning algae off the sides. Once every 3-4 weeks, you’re going to change about 20 percent of the water out with a gravel siphon. Your daily maintenance may be 10 minutes, and your monthly maintenance, depending on your size of your aquarium, may only be an hour or two. You must also consider the type of fish you want to have. Goldfish, for instance, should not live in bowls, as they can get over a foot long. They would love to be in a very large aquarium, or even in a planted aquarium with plant snacks from time to time.

Freshwater Planted TankMoving up to a freshwater planted tank, there is more of an investment of time and money than a freshwater fish-only aquarium. Few very hearty plants exist that will do well with your standard aquarium lights without requiring extra care. Anacharis (Elodea), Hornwort, Amazon swords, and some others can live just fine with no extra care. Several other types of aquarium plants require better lighting, such as T-5 or compact fluorescent. In addition, some plants will not thrive unless they receive plant supplements to the water. Another thing to consider with planted tanks is the fish you choose to have. Almost any basic community aquarium would benefit from some type of plants. Plants help oxygenate the water, eat up those nitrates, kill algae and provide for a stunning display. Fish like Goldfish, Silver Dollars, Pacus, and some Cichlids would love nothing more than to mow through the plants all throughout the day.

Saltwater Fish AquariumMany people immediately think keeping saltwater fish is extremely difficult, that it is for experts and should not be delved into except for experienced fish keepers. If you think this, forget it now. Saltwater fish do not require any more maintenance than freshwater tanks. In fact, the fish can live longer, healthier, and have much more color variety. In a saltwater aquarium, water changes should still be done monthly, fish should be still fed daily, and you will still have those pesky algae problems. Saltwater fish are more expensive, sometimes 10 times the amount of a small little Guppy, but they are more delicately handled. Many saltwater fish can live years. Some fish require a specialized diet and the most difficult part of saltwater fish keeping is getting them to eat. Always ask for your fish to be fed before being bagged up, and you will know you’re getting nothing but a high quality fish. Saltwater fish cannot be fed feeder blocks when you go on vacation, so you will need someone to feed them. When choosing a saltwater aquarium, you should ideally not have an aquarium less than 20 gallons unless it is specifically designed for saltwater, like a Biocube or Nano aquarium. Saltwater is harder to oxygenate, and, therefore, harder for the fish to breathe with less water volume. The main choice between saltwater and freshwater is financial investment. A saltwater setup with all the required items can be more expensive than a basic freshwater aquarium. However, the investment is well worth it.

Reef AquariumsSaltwater reefs are a bit of a different ballgame and require more care. If you are planning a reef aquarium, you should have at least a compact fluorescent bulb or T5. You may consider Halides or LED’s but, they can be very costly. Reefs can be stunningly beautiful, but very sensitive. They can require weekly or daily supplements and should not be left unattended on vacations. They can be very easy, too, as many of the corals are very hearty and can even breed in home aquariums. Specifically, polyps like Waving hands love a nice high flow and, when happy, will produce little waving hands all across your aquarium.

We all start out somewhere with aquariums, with little or no knowledge, but don’t let that stop you from having the aquarium of your dreams. Pick what you really want and do online research at PetSolutions, as you’re guaranteed to find an expert in whatever type of aquarium you would like. Keeping your aquarium isn’t that hard if you’re willing to always learn.

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