S T A R T I N G   A   N E W   A Q U A R I U M

At Art in Motion Pets it is our duty to help take some of the frustration out of setting up your new aquarium. Before making your purchase read some of our tips below. If you have any further questions please feel free to give us a call at (765) 662-7226.

Day 1 - Set Up the Aquarium

  • Place your new aquarium, away from direct sunlight, heaters and air conditioners, on a flat level surface. If the tank is not level it may develop a "pressure crack" from too much water pushing against one side of the tank. We recommend using an aquarium stand made by your aquarium's manufacturer.
  • Wipe down the aquarium using water and a paper towel to remove any dust that may be in the tank.
  • Rinse your gravel, ornaments, and plants before adding them to your tank.
  • Add water and place the heater in tank. Let the heater set in water for at least 20 min. before you plug in or it may break. Also note; when removing heater, leave in tank 20 min. unplugged before removing.
  • Add water conditioner (Aqua Plus or Stress Coat) as well as aquarium salt. (Note: Most freshwater fish will benefit from adding some aquarium salt [not table salt] to the water.) It adds electrolytes, improves gill function, and helps prevent and cure disease.)
  • Allow the filter and heater to operate overnight and check that the water temperature remains constant. (approx. 76-78 degrees for most tropical fish)

Day 2-3 - Add Starter Fish

  • Start with only a few hardy fish. We recommend Danios, Barbs, or some varieties of Tetras until the Nitrogen Cycle is complete (See Below).
  • At this time limit fish purchases to about 2-3 per 10 gallons of water.
  • Do not feed the same day fish were purchased. They may be too stressed to eat and the extra food can cause ammonia problems.

Day 3-45 - The Nitrogen Cycle

  • At this point your water quality will slowly start to get worse. The reason is, when setting a new aquarium there is not enough beneficial bacteria established to break down the fish waste by-products. The Nitrogen Cycle is the process that produces this “good” bacteria.
  • At the beginning of the cycle, fish waste and uneaten food in the gravel and filter begin to decay forming ammonia.
  • A form of bacteria that "feeds" on Ammonia will develop and begin to transform ammonia into  nitrites.
  • It is generally at this stage that ammonia and nitrites can become lethal to fish. At this time, we do not recommend adding any other fish and only feed every other day until the cycle is complete. (Note: This doesn't mean feed them more than normal when you do feed. Only feed what your fish can eat in about 1-2 minutes without any uneaten food sinking to the bottom.)
  • Another bacteria then begins forms that "feeds" on the nitrite and coverts it into, much less toxic, nitrates.
  • Usually at this time (approx. 4-6 weeks) nitrite and ammonia levels will suddenly drop to near zero and the nitrogen cycle will be complete.
  • The length of the nitrogen cycle varies, depending on the size of the tank, the amount of fish, the amount of oxygen in the water (more oxygen the faster the cycle). The time will normally range from a 4-6 weeks.
  • Adding a bacteria culture, such as 'Cycle' or 'Bio-Spira' to your Aquarium water can also speed up the cycle. Also, adding bacteria from another established tank will dramatically speed up the cycle. To do this take a used filter sponge, insert, or pad and transfer it to your new tank. Note: transfer bacteria to your tank like you transfer fish (using a fish bag or zip-loc bag. If you're not sure what this means go to the Adding Fish and read about "Taking your new fish home".
  • NEVER dump all the water out and clean the gravel and filter and refill the aquarium. This will kill your bacteria and cause the Nitrogen Cycle to start over.
  • Observe your fish for stress (rapid breathing, lethargy, clamped fins, etc.).
  • Bring a water sample to Art in Motion Pets every 3-7 days, during this time, for a FREE water test to see the progress of the cycle
  • Once the cycle is complete you can safely add new fish to your tank. See Adding Fish

Essential supplies checklist
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  • Aquarium – Housing for fish & plants
  • Light & Hood – Enhances viewing & colors, secures fish and helps promote healthy plant growth.
  • Aquarium Stand – Evenly supports the weight of the aquarium
  • Filter and Filter Media – Maintains good water quality and removes debris & impurities from water
  • Aquarium Gravel – Decorates aquarium bottom and secures plants
  • Heater – Maintains a consistent warm water temperature
  • Thermometer – Lets you check water temperature
  • Water Conditioner – Removes Chlorine from tap water, detoxifies heavy metals, and helps protect fish
  • Aquarium Salt – Helps cure and prevent disease and improves gill function
  • Fish Food – Supplies nutrition
    Supplemental Food – Adds variety in diet and added nutrition
  • Cycle - Starts and accelerates the nitrogen cycle
  • Fish Net – To catch fish and debris
  • Gravel Cleaner – Removes excess debris from the gravel
  • Books – For general information, and proper fish care

Suggested supplies checklist

  • Air Pump – Adds oxygen to the water
  • Air Line Tubing – Path for air to flow from the air pump into aeration devices
  • Air Stones – Adds bubbles to the water for oxygen and circulation
  • Check Valve – Stops water from back-siphoning into the air pump
  • Gang Valve – To operate multiple aeration devices
  • Algae Scrapper – Removes the build up of algae on aquarium glass
  • Ammonia Test Kit – Checks for harmful ammonia levels
  • Nitrite Test Kit - Checks for harmful nitrite levels
  • pH Test Kit – Checks the degree of acidity or alkalinity of water
  • Live Plants – Creates a more natural environment and hiding places for fish
  • Rocks – Decorates the aquarium and adds a natural hiding places for fish
  • Driftwood - Decorates the aquarium and adds a natural hiding places for fish




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