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How to establish aquarium with fishes?

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Aquarium is investment. Finance and time also. If everything goes fine, you can make your own beautiful garden with a lot of fishes, which you join a lot. If you underestimate something from beginning, all your underwater world can change into something you really do not want to have at home (for example terrible drain).
“To have an aquarium is very easy, it is enough to feed the fish by the time” I can hear this sometimes from “experts” for everything. It does not have to be lie. But, it all is about your conception about beautiful aquarium and beginning time investments. If for you is enough a small portion of water, bubble diver, ceramic pirate ship, plastic castle, a lot of shells from sea and between these unhappy fishes, which cannot talk and tell you what is wrong and “only” die and then you buy another ones, do not read this article please. It is useless. This is something which is NOT aquaristics. I recommend to add to this “beauty” plastic plants and PLASTIC FISHES!!!!!. Or do not have aquarium at all and buy woody fish.
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But, those who really are interested in a corner with life nature at home and would like to be taken every evening after work to part of tropical lakes and rivers and relax with their aquarium should pay attention now and read more. 
 
What cubic capacity to choose? 
It depends on what fish you would like to have. But the overall rule is: bigger is better. Better in the holding the stable environment, so when overfeeding the fish a little, there does not need to be any bigger problem as rot water. Due to the fact that I never had very big space for aquarium, I chose smaller cubic capacity, around 50l. It is very small. It brings too many troubles, it is easy to bring too many fist to it (mainly livebearers) and it can happen also to poisoning with nitrate salts.  
I would see as optimal cubic capacity between 100l and 450l. For those, who cannot imagine, 450l is quite big cubic capacity, mainly when it crashes (but I do not want to make you afraid, it is mainly when you do the exercise with dumbbells next to the aquarium). 
If you have a lot of place and do not have any finance limitations (not many), I would prefer also for beginners even bigger aquarium. I have seen in YouTube aquarium which had 10thousand liters in German living room. It was perfect. Flocks of fishes in hundreds pieces were swimming around. But, I would not want to clean it :D The owner was diving into it :D  Quite interesting, but hard. 
 
How to begin? 
It is good to put the aquarium to place, where the sun would not touch it, far away from heating and the best is not next to the door, due to the shakes which door can cause. for easy cleaning, put the aquarium to the place, where you can reach it easy. I also do not recommend placing to the floor, as the cleaning and any changes you would like to make would be harder. 
Very important is also to choose the what you put the aquarium on. There is necessary to understand, that when you have aquarium, which has capacity 120l with water, sand, its own weight, stones etc. can weight also 150kg. It is not that small weight. Aquarium which capacity is 450l can weight 500kg. Here is necessary to think not only for the table or cabinet, but when there is bigger capacity, it is necessary to consult it with someone who would recommend it from the statics point. Floor normally has load capacity from 400kg for square meter, so to put the aquarium which has the cubic capacity more then 1000kg next to the library with heavy books and in front of the aquarium your wife/husband will do the exercises, might cause that you neighbor under you will have his dream aquarium with fishes, but you have only hole in the floor. 
Each aquarium is important to place to flat, clean place, there is also important (necessary) to put the pad under it. If you have the aquarium in the wall (included), stick to it the back the background. The best is black one for freshwater aquarium and there are better seen plants and fishes: how to stick a self-adhesive foil.
Clean aquarium from dust, never use chemicals (jar etc.). for cleaning the aquarium. It is toxic and can harm fishes when put there. 

What sand to choose? 
The best is fluvial silicate sand with faction 2-4mm. Bigger is not good, as there would not grow plants good and there is going to bod down rest of food, which might rot there. when using sand with lower faction, then the circulation of water (in the sand) is lower and roots of the plants can rot. It cannot have Sharp edges. Write, coloured or black-and-white brash is not convenient. 
This sand (when needed) clean in clean water and then put to the aquarium. Colour of the sand might be natural, black, brown etc. Something reasonable. Coloured (red, yellow, blue) sands are not suitable (if it is not in whorehouse). I personally like more lighter sand, for example light brown, something natural, something as sandstone. Before you put the sand to the aquarium, do small test (good also for other stones, you are putting to the aquarium). A little bit of vinegar put to the sand (outside) or stone and if bubble, do not put it there (it means it contains limestone and it is not good for freshwater aquarium, if it is not Malawi). It can dissolve and can influence the quality of water, see: videoinstructions for limestone test
Sand then put then: to the back 10cm, to the front at least 5cm. It depends on the plants you would like to have there. (what roots it might have). 
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What water to use? 
As the water from well is almost too hard and a lot of plants and fishes like water more acidic (pH under 7), I use water from public water supply (it is not optimal too, but it is still better). I ingest it directly from faucets and in aquarium I pour it through the plate, water gush out on it, it does not destroy the ground. 

Decoration to aquarium
Stone (not limestone) and piece of wood from aquaristics shop are the ones to be the optimal decoration in aquarium. All other, as plastic plants, ceramic ships, castles or flowerpot can be there as the ceramic dwarf in artistic garden. And what about seashells? It is great idea, BUT to the sea aquarium, not to the freshwater one. And it is not good decoration also because it contains a lot of lime and when it dissolve, it changes the quality of water in negative way for plants and fishes.

Light for aquarium
Light need to be “enough”. it was put in watts, so every aquarium should have 0,5 to 0,74W for one litr of water in it. It could be use (and can be used) in case of fluorescent tubes T8. No, in the LED diods times it is little more complicated. It is needed to try what will be enough for your plants. Special led lights for plants are only to beguile the customer, but the plants can grow also under the tubes 4times cheaper. Also it is good to have timer for the light. The cheapest (manual) can be bought from 100CZK per piece, digital with memory (so that you do not have to setup everything when there is a blackout can cost about 200CZK per piece. Optimal time to light is about 10 or 12 hours a day. Following article can help you to choose the light, you can find there what light have people under their plant aquariums.
Filtration and heating of the water
Days, when there was the aerating stone bubling a lot is far away now. Today’s filtration of water does  not deny the water directly, because it is the matter of the plants. If you deny the water havily, water looses the carbon dioxide, which is not very good for planting of plants. Therefore the water is being filtered through several porous components (foam, ceramic circles – all can be bought specially for aquarium. ), where there is thanks to the nitrification process to change from dangerous nitrate salts to NO3, which is being used by plants for their growth. The offer of the filtration is very varied, from ground ones, internal or external ones. The ground ones I would not recommend,  to smaller aquarium then 100l I would have internal filtration and above the 100l is better external filtration system, also not to lost the space in inner space of aquarium (bigger internal filtration need bigger place in the aquarium and have more filtration medias). I was satisfied with external filtration JBL e1501.
Heating of the water is with help of heaters with thermostatic regulation, where you can setup the requested temperature and the heater takes care of automatic heating of water by itself. The most usual temperature of water is 22 – 26 Celsius, fishes as discuses need more warm water. 
 
What plants? 
Not plastic, but definitely live plants. It does not have to be the best from the beginning, but do not give up. There are some not complicated platns as anubiases (anubias barteri), some kinds of echinodoruses, vallisneria, limnophilla sessiliflora and some cryptocoryne. Each plant needs something else, as chemical needs, light, water composition, therefore it is not good to give up after the first failure, which might come.
Why not plastic plants? As live plants help to make the water clean, during the day it consume the CO2 and makes oxygen which is needed for fishes and fishes’ breath the CO2 and it is still as circle. Therefore, it is needed to have life plants in common aquarium.
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Fertilizing of plants and adding CO2
Aquarium plants, as flowers, bushes and trees, need some nutriment to their live. If it does not have it, it is not growing, loosing leaves, rots and by time it totally dies. Therefore, also aquarium plants need some fertilizing. Never use fertilizer for gardens or home-made ones. Only those which are for aquarium plants. Fertilizers for terrestrial plants contains a lot of nitrogen and it is not good for fishes. From aquarium might become the “moon scenery”, as everything would die there (mainly fishes). 
Offer of aquarium fertilizers is really wide. If you would like to “play” with plants (in good sense), you can try PMDD. For non complicated plants is pretty fine commercial fertilizer (as Profito fom Easy Life) and if you use it according to instructions, it might be fine. 
Really favorite is adding CO2 to the aquarium, it means the carbon dioxide to the aquarium. For plants to grow, it needs during the day the carbon dioxide, which they absorb and makes the oxygen, which is needed for fishes. And fishes breath the carbon dioxide out.
But, if you have small number of fishes and a lot of plants, CO2 from them does not have to be enough and it is being added. There is more variants how to add it, the cheapest is with help of yeast, sugar and water in PET bottle next to the aquarium and the hose to the aquarium linked to the linden wood in aquarium it will be giving bubbles of CO2. It seems fine, but you need to be very careful, so that you do not deliver too much of CO2, you can poison fishes, if the yeast gets to the aquarium, you poison fishes etc. At night plants also creates CO2 as fishes and consumes oxygen. There could be too much of CO2 in aquarium at night, so there is a chance to poison fishes. 
Or you can buy CO2 set with pressure bottle, electromagnetics valve and timer switch. All is there setuped for the day (not night) and you can regulate is as you need. This is more for experienced people which like to have more complicated plants. When you choose non complicated plants, you will be able to skip adding CO2. When I make any conclusion, I can say that for beginners it is better to choose non complicated plants without need to add CO2 and only with some fertilizing by fertilizer for aquarium plants. 

What kind of fish to buy? 
It is very important to choose such species which will not fight with each other, so that the volume of aquarium is suitable for such species (some fishes can be REALLY BIG), so that the fishes can live in such conditions we make in our aquarium (do not put fishes from Malawi to plant aquarium and vice versa). Before choosing any fish, you can go to “Aquaristics group” in Facebook, where you can find answers to your questions or somebody who can advise what to be careful for and how to make the decision.
Please do not pay attention too much to the advises in ZOO shops, they normally want to sell and do not take care if your aquarium is suitable (or does not know and just want to sell). 
For small fish, for example neon tetra, you need to count with 4l for one fish. If you have aquarium which is 120l, you need to count the real volume of the water. It means: if you have a lot of decorations, there can be only 80l of water. Then you can put to the aquarium only 20 tetras neon or fishes similar growth. 
If fishes are flock fishes, it is necessary to have more pieces, not only in pairs. It means 8-10 pieces is minim. Fishes then feel better and safer. 
If there are bigger fishes, as Trichopodus or Preropsyllum scalare, you need to count with volume of aquarium which is minim 200l for pair of such fish. Betta splendes should be in volume min. 20 – 25l, pair from 60l. Lower volume is absolutely not inappropriate. 
How long to wait before releasing fishes to the tank? 
I would put to the tank aquarium snails first Planorbarius corneus or Physa acuta, which takes care of “starting of nitrification process”. After 2 weeks from launching the tank I would put there 2 fishes (only min. count, it depends on the volume of the aquarium), from the same reason as the snails. Other fishes can go to the tank after one month from launching, so that you avoid poisoning the fishes by nitrogen substances. 

Regular change of the water and maintenance
Maintenance of tank takes every week about 1-3 hrs in dependency of kind of tank. Every 1 – 2 weeks should be changed 1/3 of water in there. if you do not have any fishes or animals sensible for chlorine, the water can be put there directly from the public water supply. in other case you need to leave the water stand for while to loose the chlorine. 
Also it is needed to remove the rot leaves and plants or to shorten the plants or space it out. When you blow away the dirt from aquarium with bell on pipe, it is reasonable and good for the tank. I personaly do this when changing the water (everytime), but only from the surface, so that I do not eddy the detritus to the water. Deep cleaning is not recommended. Here is the deeper instructions: how to do the maintenance of tank.
 
How it is from the finance point of view? 
First I have chosen the aquarium in complete, Juwel 240l, including light, filtration, heating and shelve under the tank. You can buy it for about 13thousand CZK. Finally, I have used the niche in wall and bought the aquarium of volume 120l bespoken. Aquarium including top cover glass I have ordered in Sklorex for 2.200 CZK including the underlay under tank. Quite good filtration can be bought for 400 CZK, heating with thermostat for 300 CZK. Sand I have bought about 30l for about 300 CZK, stump for aquarium for 500 CZK. Light I have bought in Hornbach – 3x light patch T5 and IP65 for 1500 CZK, timer switch for 150 CZK also in Ikea. Black background for tank for 150 CZK. Fishes 800 CZK, plants ai partly had, the rest costs 500 CZK. Automatic feeder Juwel 700 CZK. Cover above the aquarium from fibreboard 100 CZK, from the tank side packed to alobal for better light in aquarium and so that fiberboard does not suck in humidity. Fibreboard can be removed, it holds by help of magnets (100 CZK) and glue Mamut. 
So, if I count it, all cost me 7.700 CZK. You can safe money if you would not buy the automatic feeder. 
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Collage from better pics of tank after 21 months.
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My aquarium after 3 years.
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Video tutorials and video atlas of aquarium plants can also be found on my youtube. Please add a subscription: Subscribe to youtube surpanblog.
You can find the original article in the Czech language at: jak založit akvárium.
Author: Surpan
Translator: Ema Grešlová-Zeisová
11.04.2018 17:20:00
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