Maintaining aquariums takes patience and a little bit of know-how. Some of that comes with experience, but the more you know before you begin your aquarium journey, the better off you'll be! There are some common aquarium problems you can easily avoid by learning as much as you can about caring for fish before you get your first tank.
1. Getting the wrong size aquarium: It may seem like a smaller tank is easier to take care of, but that's actually just the opposite. Larger tanks, 20-55 gallons for beginners, are easier to care for. There's more water and more room, and therefore if a problem with nitrates, ammonia levels, or something else occurs, you have a better opportunity for solving it than you would if you had a 10 gallon tank.
2. Not prepping the tank: Your tank will need a few days of preparation before it's ready for fish. This means you can't buy fish the same day you buy your tank (and really, no respectable shop owner should let you!). You'll need to "cycle" the tank first. According to this article from Aqueon: "the safest way to cycle a newly set up aquarium is to 1) Add just a few fish initially, 2) feed sparingly and 3) Test ammonia and nitrite levels until they stabilize at zero. Repeat this process until the aquarium is fully stocked."
3. Overstocking: Once your aquarium is ready for more fish to be added, make sure to avoid overstocking. There's a good rule of thumb for aquariums: 1 inch of fish per gallon of water. So, if you've got a 55 gallon tank you can have up to 55 inches of fish (making sure to consider that some of them will grow larger...). Overcrowding leads to all sorts of issues including imbalances in ammonia and nitrates and also fish aggression. It's better to have less fish and plenty of space for them all than to have too many fish.
4. Not enough plants or decor: Fish like to have plants for cover. They'll use them to hide and feel safe, to stalk prey, and as play areas. Not having enough cover will create stress in your fish. We've got a large selection of plants that are perfect for your aquarium and we can ship them right along with your fish!
5. Incompatibility: Before you purchase a new fish make sure it's compatible with the ones already in your aquarium. Use our fish compatibility chart to avoid that error from the get go!