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Setting up and Aquarium - Part 1

Choosing the right location for the aquarium

Locating the aquarium in the right place in your home or office is crucial.  Here are some common tips for selecting the right place for your aquarium.

Place the aquarium at a place where you are likely to spend most of your time.

Placing the aquarium at a place where your spend most of your time ensures that you and those who visit your home enjoy the presence of your aquarium.  If it is placed in a corner where nobody goes, it can tend to get neglected.  At the same time, placing it in the centre of the room can sometimes become an obstruction as it may get in the way.

Ensure that there is adequate space around for maintenance

An aquarium requires periodic maintenance.  These maintenance activities require space for free movement of people and materials.  While choosing the place ensure that there is space around the aquarium.

Ensure the presence of electrical power supply and a water source nearby

An aquarium needs power to operate the aerator and the filter. Ensure that there is a power socket nearby to connect these equipments.  Having a water source nearby makes cleaning a lot easier.

Ensure a level location

An aquarium needs to be placed in a level location.  If it is not placed in a level location, there can be a leak or uneven stress on the tank walls which can result in a breakage.  Use a spirit level to check that the tank is properly leveled.

Keep the Aquarium Away from the Windows

Placing Aquariums near windows may result the water getting heated by sunlight.  Dust can also enter and settle on the tank and its fittings.

Make sure that the floor can bear the weight of an aquarium. 

Aquariums can get quite heavy.  Some can weight hundreds of kilograms.  Ensure that the flooring of the building can support the weight.  Talk to an engineer if necessary.

Selecting the proper aquarium tank size ?

When it comes to aquarium size, it is always better to have a bigger aquarium. Bigger Aquariums give more space for fish to swim about. You have a wider choice of aquascape designs to be implemented in a bigger aquarium.

Aquariums which are bigger can house more fish and more diverse species. Aquariums which are bigger are also more tolerant of mistakes such as overdosing and delayed maintenance as the water quantity is larger.

While bigger aquariums are better. They are not always feasible.

Smaller aquariums are easier to clean occupy less space and can be placed wherever you want. It is easier for beginners to sustain interest in them.

Many aquarists buy small aquariums and regret not have a slightly bigger one after they are quite established in the hobby.

Get the optimum size for you. Keep in mind the space in your apartment and the number of fish you would like to buy.

If you are a starter, you can begin with a smaller aquarium and then as your fish collection becomes bigger, you can exchange the old aquarium (some pet shops have exchange offers) and get a new bigger one.

Air Pump in an Aquarium

An Air pump is a critical and important equipment in indoor aquarium which are mostly enclosed. The Air pump helps keeps dissolved oxygen levels in the aquarium within limits.

The Air pump pumps air into the aquarium which is released through an air stone or through a filter.The bubbles which are released agitate the surface of the water and make the exchange of oxygen possible.

Air Pumps work on domestic AC supply. They are powered by an electromagnet motor which operates a bellow. Multiple connections can be taken from the same air pump depending on the capacity.

Keep the Air pump as close to the tank as possible. The Tubing should have a regulating valve to control the air flow.

Function of an Air stone in an Aquarium

An air stone is a special piece of porous stone through which air from an air pump is passed. The many holes on the porous surface of the air stone serve to release air as many small bubbles which is pleasing to look at.

The bubbles agitate the water in the surface and help in oxygenation.

There are wooden air stones as well which are made from special types of wood such as tila. Today, there are synthetic airstones as well which are made from fiberglass.

Air stones may need to be cleaned periodically for better flow.

Choosing the substrate for your Tank

A substrate is the material at the bottom of the tank. The substrate serves to anchor the plants in the aquarium. It also serves to conceal the uneaten food and dirt at the bottom of the tank.

It also adds to the aesthetics of the tank. Choose a substrate which fits with the scheme of colors in the tank. Some substrate tend to eclipse the fish. The substrate should complement the aquarium and bring out the beauty of the plants and the fish. Look at different types of aquarium and their substrates before deciding a substrate for your aquarium.

There are many different substrates to choose from Gravel and sand are the most common substrates.


There are many types of gravel in varying sizes and colors. Gravel is simple and easy to clean. It does not irritate fish, particularly those species which love to scoop the substrate in their mouth. Gravel is available in large and small sizes. Large sizes may create spaces in between in which food and other particles can accumulate. However, larger gravel sizes are easier to clean.

Crushed Coral

Crushed coral has the effect of increasing the pH due to the calcium carbonate which is the primary constituent of shells and corals. This is used for fish species such as cichlids which are used to a higher pH level and hard water in their native environment. Crushed coral should not be used for fish used to a lower pH and soft water such as those from the amazon.


Sand is used to give a natural look to the aquarium. Sand is ideal for species which like to build nests. Other species such as stingrays like to bury themselves in sand.  There are many different types of sand available.

One of the disadvantages of sand is that it is difficult to clean. When siphoning the aquarium, sand gets vacuumed along with the dirt.

Sand also tends to compact over a period of time. This 'caking' effect needs to be periodically broken to ensure a fine texture.


Peat is made of decomposed vegetable matter. Peat is the natural substrate in many parts of the amazonia from which most tropical fish hail. Hence, if you want an aquarium mimicking the amazon basin, you can consider Peat. Peat tends to color the water slightly brown. Peat has good anti-microbial properties and is ideal for live plants.

There are also many other artificial substrate which are fertilized to support live plants. These can be purchased at your nearest pet store.