Once you have bought an aquarium, you start creating aquarium setup ideas. With an infinite variety of fish tank designs to choose from where do you begin? Well, consider working from the ground up.
Substrate covers the bottom of the tank so it literally provides the groundwork for your fish tank design. Substrate comes in a variety of sizes from small particle like sand to larger rocks. Choosing an appropriate size substrate depends on the needs of the fish that are part of your aquarium plan. If your aquarium setup ideas also include live plants, then you will need to consider what substrate, if any, these plants will need. There are types of substrates which affect the ph level of the water and might harm the fish living in the tank. Lava rock and coral are two examples of rocks which should be avoided in freshwater aquariums. A good aquarium setup guide will provide a complete list of substrates to avoid.
There are ways to test if a substrate is safe for aquarium use. One method is to add several drops of vinegar to the material you want to use, making sure the rocks are dry. If it sizzles and foams the substrate has large deposits of calcium which will affect the water and is not safe for most fish. Other methods involve pretesting the effect the substrate has on water ph level.
Many aquarium guides or articles about aquarium setup ideas will recommend purchasing water testing kits. Aquarium supply stores offer dozens of testing kits that can be used to test aquarium water. How do you know which one to purchase?
§ pH Level Test Kit
Changes in water pH levels are one of the most common causes of fish death. If you have sudden changes in pH levels or “pH drifting”, you’ll need to correct the problem. A ph level test kit is the only way to be sure the ph of your aquarium water meets needs of your fish.
§ Ammonia Test Kit
Aquariums normally have elevated ammonia levels when started, but an established fish tank should have normal ammonia levels. If freshwater aquarium ammonia levels are increased in a mature tank, it may indicate dirty water, dirty filters, or an overstocked tank.
§ Nitrite and Nitrate kits
Nitrite is a toxic byproduct of organic waste. High levels can quickly stress fish in an aquarium. Although nitrate, another waste byproduct is only mildly toxic, it can still harm fish if levels get too high. Test kits which indicate aquarium nitrite and nitrate levels can help keep your fish healthy.
One Additional Basic
Other elements of fish tank design include as lighting, temperature controls and decorative habitat additions. Information in most aquarium setup guides will guide you in selecting what fits your plan. These elements are one reason aquariums usually have several cords for filters, lights and sometimes heat sources. This means you won’t want to overlook the need for a sturdy, water proof power strip with surge protection to keep your aquarium running.