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Top Mistakes That Kill Many Would-be Aquarium Owners’ Dreams

Setting up a new aquarium is an exciting venture. You look forward to the influence of the aquarium on your décor and the glorious days you will spend tending to your fish. However, as a newbie, there are a lot of mistakes you might make that might make the process more of a challenge than a joy.

Poor Tank Selection

Experienced fish lovers will tell you that the smaller the aquarium you choose, the bigger a problem you are getting into. A small aquarium gives you a limited space to keep your fish. Additionally, since the water volume is little, its parameters will change so fast, making it difficult for you to control the living environment of the fish. As a newcomer, I recommend that you go for a fish tank with a minimum of 20 gallons in capacity.

Overlooking Filtration

A successful aquarium requires three filtration levels – mechanical, chemical and biological. Mechanical filtration is ideal for trapping solids such as fish waste and uneaten foods. You can use filter cartridges for this task.

To achieve chemical filtration, use activated carbon to attract and hold any dissolved contaminants that might discolor the water and change its smell. On the other hand, biological filtration depends on microorganisms to eliminate toxic substances that accumulate in the water.

Most newbies ignore this fact and only focus on mechanical filtration, which isn’t adequate.

Moving Too Fast

You need patience, scheduling and proper planning to succeed at your venture. Many people are quite anxious to have their aquarium up and running without thinking twice. You need to take time and understand how the simulated environment you are creating works. Running a successful aquarium is a process, it is not something you wake up one day and start on it. You have to plan on the equipment, materials and accessories and other vital features for your project to see the light of day.

Poor Aquarium Setup

Your aquarium requires heat, light and electrical features for the fish to stay healthy. You need a heater to maintain the water temperature in your aquarium. You first need to find out the optimum temperature that suits the kind of fish you plan to keep. Some cold water fish can exist without the need for heat.

You also need to research the light needs for the fish. Some fish thrive on extended lighting while others need a shorter lighting span to keep the fish happy.

Ignoring Advice Offered

It is good to follow advice from people who are already established in this field. Don’t ignore advice from your colleagues, forums and review sites. Work with the supplier of the aquarium to understand what you need to do to achieve a perfect setup. Some of the guidelines you will come across might seem extreme, but they help you achieve your objectives.

One of the top tips you will get from professionals is regarding the type of tank to choose. The options you have can be astonishing really, requiring you to listen to the voice of reason from experts before making the step of faith.

Lacking a Tank Maintenance Schedule

With time, your fish tank becomes messy and unsuitable for the fish. The water becomes stale and overloaded with debris. The glass will become dirty and you won’t be able to enjoy the view of the fish swimming around. You need to understand the various types of maintenance tasks and how often you need to handle them. Some tasks need to be performed once each week, some monthly while some longer. The two major tasks involve changing the water and cleaning the aquarium filters.

Change the water at least once each week, targeting 20 percent of the total water volume. It is better to do weekly water changes than a large volume chance once in a month. Use a liquid test kit to determine the amount of water to change.

You can clean the substrate whenever you change the water. Use an aquarium vacuum for this task to make the process easier and quicker.


The mistakes you do when setting up the aquarium go a long way in affecting the integrity of your fish. Take time to select the right size of an aquarium and set it up the right way. Make sure you provide the right environment for your fish in terms of heat and lighting. Additionally, a proper maintenance schedule will go a long way in keeping your tank clean and maintaining a healthy environment for your fish.