Ever wonder why people keep aquariums? Well imagine a multi-coloured rock-strewn setting of sand with slim ribbons of dark blade-like swordplants swaying gracefully in the water. An angel catfish watches intently as schools of zebra danios dart in and out of the foliage like children playing hide and seek. In the foreground, against a background of willowy ferns, the fluorescent colors of the neon tetras shine like jewels. Is this a scene from the latest Jacques Cousteau adventure? No, it is a peek into the silent but fascinating alien world of the freshwater aquarium. For the land-lovers who may have tried this pursuit and found themselves with a tank full of floating dead fish and an almost depleted checkbook, I intend to show you how to plan, execute & enjoy this hobby without breaking the piggy bank [dcs1]and shedding a bucketful of tears.
The first thing one must do is to plan where to put the aquarium. The right location should have the following criteria; accessibility to electrical outlets, proximity to water source, and visibility. The first criterion, accessibility to electrical outlets is the most significant since the tank filters, hooded lamps, and air pumps all require electricity to run. I would also advise installing a reliable ground-fault interrupter or GFI on the outlet as an added precaution. A GFI is a device that will detect water leakage caused by spills or water splash and will automatically shut down the circuit to prevent shock. A perm, resembling the bride of Frankenstein caused by electrical shock, would be the last thing that I would want to happen on anyone trying to install an aquarium. Second criterion in selecting a location is the proximity to a water source. The fish tank will need lots of water due to periodic water changes and regular cleaning. It can also be said that during the implementation of this task, moderate amounts of water may be splashed on to the surrounding [missing word here?], depending on the hobbyists’ current level of dexterity in transporting a pail of dirty water to the water drain. The same pail of water can also weigh several pounds; consequently, this chore could very easily turn into a workout. It is therefore in the interest of the novice hobbyist to keep the location close to both source and drain. And while we are on the subject of weight, make sure the aquarium stand can support both the weight of the tank and the water in it. The third criterion, visibility is vital because, the aquarium is the backdrop and the fish are its performers. Choose an area where the tank will occupy center stage, this way everybody including guests can enjoy them. The fish once they get used to people observing them, will gladly put on a memorable show for you. Words of advice, in choosing this special spot[dcs2], make sure it does not get direct exposure to the sun. The sun will promote rapid algae growth which can turn the walls of the tank green. [dcs3]
Now that the location of the tank has been identified, let us consider the tank itself and the paraphernalia that will go with it. The best shape and size for a beginner is a ten gallon rectangular glass tank. A ten-gallon tank will provide ample space for the fish to grow and intermingle. This shape will also provide the most water surface area on top. Maximum water surface area is necessary to complete the cycle of oxygen exchange. A glass is advisable for beginners, because it does not scratch easily and will not yellow with age. Do not be tempted to get fancy-shaped aquariums or the tall narrow ones that look so good and futuristic in magazine pages[dcs4]. These will not provide your fish with optimum living conditions. Instead, these serve as torture chambers for the poor fish that will find itself condemned to a slow and painful death due to lack of oxygen among other things.
After choosing the tank, shop around for the right equipment. The primary items