How to Help Your Child Set Up Their First Aquarium
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Fish are a fascinating species, so it’s no wonder that many children are interested in having their own aquarium. If you have a child interested in becoming an aquarist, you can fuel their excitement by setting up your own aquarium at home. You don’t need to be an expert in marine biology to enjoy an aquarium. With a bit of help along the way, it’s easy to find the right aquarium and fish to keep your child’s imagination engaged. Read on to learn more about how you can set up your child’s very first aquarium at home so that their excitement continues to grow.
My Kid Wants to be Like Aquaman: What is an Aquarist?
If your child is fascinated with the ocean, there are a few important things to know about this fascinating field.
- What is an aquarist? An aquarist is a professional who manages aquariums either at research centers, local public aquariums, or as a business owner who sells aquariums and supplies. This profession involves caring for a range of aquatic life, including fish, plant life, and marine animals. It also requires cleaning and managing the aquarium itself to ensure that the things living there have a healthy environment to thrive.
- Can it be a good hobby? Why should I say yes? Learning about marine life and the ocean is an excellent way for kids to learn about our environment. As a parent, you should encourage your child to get an aquarium since it will help them learn about the fish they keep and teach them responsibility and how to care for other living things.
- Education and at-home help: Having an aquarium at home can be an excellent educational tool. Use this as an opportunity to show your child how the ocean works, what helps fish and plant life stay alive, and how they can take care of them at home and out in the world via their actions (i.e., don’t pollute, how to use less water, etc.). If you need some help, there are many excellent online resources for education, including lesson plans that you can incorporate into their routine.
- How much help will kids need to maintain the aquarium? Younger children will need assistance when changing the water in the aquarium. Continuously monitor your children when they feed the fish to ensure that they’re not over or underfeeding them. Guide your child and explain to them how to check on the water temperature, the pH level, and other essential factors to keep their fish healthy and happy.
Everything You Need to Know About Setting Up Your Home Aquarium
Setting up a home aquarium can be a small task or a very large task. It really depends on what you want to have for your home. For larger fish and big aquariums, it may be required to customize your home with the help of a contractor or aquatics expert company. If you and your family are interested in a lower-maintenance option, smaller fish can live in out-of-the-box aquariums that require little setup. Here are some things to consider.
Things to Know Before you Get Started
Here are some vital aquarium basics to know before you get started at home:
- Think of your fish as pets so that they get the best care and attention possible. Remember that they depend on you to keep their environment safe and clean and that it’s up to you and your child to provide that.
- It should only take about 30 minutes per week to maintain your aquarium.
- Gather supplies including coated or pre-washed gravel, ornamental plants, water conditioner for fish, a net to transfer the fish, gravel washer for water changes and cleaning, and fish food. Make sure you get the right fish food for your specific fish.
- When setting up your aquarium, handle it with care and never lift a full or partially full aquarium, and don’t try to lift it with wet hands, or you could accidentally drop it.
- Clean the tank inside and out before setting it up. Don’t use soap, detergent, or any kind of chemical-based cleaning supplies.
- Choose the right spot for your aquarium and make sure it’s on top of furniture that can support its weight when it’s full of water. The average aquarium weighs about 10-12 pounds per gallon of water.
- Put the aquarium on a flat, level surface near an electrical outlet so that you can plug in the pump. Do not place it near heat sources or air conditioner vents.
- Don’t place your aquarium in direct sunlight. Too much sunlight can promote algae growth, making it more challenging to keep clean.
Finding the Right Aquarium
Now that you know the basics, here are some tips to ensure that you choose the right aquarium for you.
- Pick the perfect spot: Look for an area in the home that’s away from the window, heat sources, and air conditioning. Too much light will encourage algae that can harm your fish, so a cool, dark corner is ideal. Always make sure that the aquarium is on top of a sturdy piece of furniture that can support its total weight. You can also find aquarium stands specially designed to support your new aquarium safely.
- Decide how much maintenance you want to do: You can choose a low-maintenance aquarium that’s easy to take care of. Larger tanks are easier to care for since the volume of water helps to distribute chemicals more evenly and makes the temperature easier to regulate. Avoid overfeeding your fish which can make the tank dirty faster. Keep the number of fish to a minimum since more fish requires more food, more care, and more frequent cleanings.
- Where to find an aquarium: You can go to most pet stores and find several options for your new aquarium, including all supplies and the fish and plants you want to add to it. Depending on where you live, there may also be a store entirely dedicated to fish and aquariums, which is even better. They can help you find the right size, type of fish, and other details that will be best for your child.
- Choosing your fish: Goldfish produce a lot more waste than other species, so avoid them whenever possible. Look for fish species that will cohabitate together nicely and avoid saltwater fish. These fish are much more challenging to care for and require a lot of special care. Stick to basic, freshwater fish that don’t create a lot of waste and don’t have a special diet. Angelfish, guppies, and swordtail fish are great options for a starter aquarium.
- Get what you need: You’ll need to make sure you have everything required for a good setup, including pre-washed or coated gravel, a high-quality filter, an air pump, a fish transfer net, fish food, and a thermometer so you can monitor the water temperature. Add some ornamental items so your fish can hide. You can also add some fake plants to the aquarium to make it look realistic. You will also need a water heater and water conditioner to ensure that the water is at the correct pH level for your fish to thrive.
Setting Up Your Aquarium
So, you’ve chosen the location, purchased the tank and all supplies, and have your fish ready. Now, you’ll need to set everything up. Here are a few tips to help you get started setting up your new aquarium at home.
- Rinse out your tank, remove any dust or debris, and set it up in your chosen area. Make sure that the tank is completely level before filling it with water. Keep enough space between the tank and the backside, so you have room for filters and access to do maintenance.
- If you’re adding a background to the tank, attach it before filling it with gravel and water.
- Fill the tank with 1.5 to 2 pounds of gravel for every gallon of water, and rinse it thoroughly before adding it. Make sure that the gravel gradually slopes toward the front.
- Slowly fill the tank about 1/3 of the way full of room-temperature water and carefully check it for any leaks along the bottom and the sides.
- Once no leaks are confirmed, you can treat the water with a dechlorinator solution. Never, ever add your fish until the water has been treated, or else it can kill them.
- Install the filter per the manufacturer’s instructions, but don’t plug it in yet.
- Place all of your decorations in the tank and arrange them as needed.
- If you’re using an airstone to create bubbles, hook it up using the airline tubing, then check the valve and air pump to ensure it’s working.
- Now, you can fill the tank with your water. Continue to check it for leaks and double-check that you’ve added the correct amount of water conditioner or additive.
- Place your heater in the tank, but don’t plug it in yet. Clip-on and non-submersible heaters should be as close to the outflow of the air filter as possible. Submersible heaters should be placed close to the inflow of the filter so that the heated water is dispersed evenly.
- Wait about 20 minutes before you plug the heater in so that the internal thermometer can adjust to the water temperature. This also ensures that your heater doesn’t overheat the water. Always follow the instructions carefully and adjust the tank until it reaches the right temperature. Generally, this is around 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Most importantly, you will need to wait until the tank is stabilized before adding your fish. This usually takes between 24 to 48 hours. The stabilization period allows the gasses in the water to dissipate and gives you time to adjust the heater so it’s stable. Your water may be cloudy at this step, so always wait until the water is clear before you add your fish. Once the water temperature is stable for at least 24 to 48 hours and looks clear, you can introduce your fish. This is important information, especially if you are moving. It is recommended the first thing you unpack is your tank.
Should I Hire a Professional to Set up My Aquarium?
If you need help setting up your new aquarium, a professional can help. They are trained to care for a wide variety of fish, and they’ll also be able to make sure that your water is safe and stabilized before putting your fish in the water. If you do hire a company to set up your aquarium, have your family watch the process so they can learn along the way. This is also an excellent opportunity to ask any questions about the process and how to care for your fish moving forward.
Proper maintenance is the key to a healthy environment for your fish. Here are some tips to help you keep your aquarium in good condition.
- Daily: Have your kids keep a daily journal that records the number of fish in the tank and any observations about their health or activity levels. You should also do a visual check of the equipment and temperature. Remove any uneaten food, top off the water, and note any concerns you see.
- Weekly or biweekly: Wipe down the outside surface of the tank. Shake any debris off of plants and scrape the glass clean inside. Siphon your substrate and do a partial water change every week or every other week. Make a note in your journal whenever you do these tasks to help you keep track.
- Monthly: Test the water monthly for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Test for phosphates if you notice a lot of algae growth. Always test your water first before you do any other maintenance or water changes. Do a partial water change once per month.
- Occasional maintenance: Replace your lightbulb once a year and inspect and clean the tubing. You should also clean the filter intake whenever it gets clogged or dirty. If you have live plants, trim any dead areas and fertilize them every few months to keep them healthy.
Can I Hire a Professional to Help Us with Maintenance?
Just like your setup, you can hire a professional to come and help with your aquarium maintenance. You can do daily and weekly tasks yourself, but more complicated tasks like changing the water or working on equipment can be left to the pros if you desire. Set up a scheduled maintenance plan with a professional aquarium service to ensure that your tank and fish are in great shape for a long time to come.
The Comfort That an Aquarium Brings to the Home
Some studies show that interacting with fish can promote relaxation. Having an aquarium in your home may reduce anxiety and physiological stress. There has also been some evidence showing that aquariums can positively impact your mood and overall well-being. Aquariums may also help to promote better sleep too.
If your child wants to be an aquarist, getting an aquarium is the first step towards nurturing a new interest. Make sure you follow the steps listed in this guide to ensure your fish have a happy and healthy life. With the proper care and preparation, you and your children can enjoy having a beautiful aquarium at home for many years to come.
Why People Love Aquariums
Aquariums offer a fascinating and up-close look at the world and life of fish. Many people appreciate the calming effects that aquariums have. In fact, many people claim that having an aquarium helps lower their stress levels and makes them feel more relaxed. The colorful plants and fish also add a beautiful feature to your home.
Originally posted on Porch.com