An Introduction to Aquariums and Aquarium Fish

Aquariums and Aquarium Fish 101

An aquarium is any filtered container of water that is capable of sustaining aquatic life such as fish, plants, and other wildlife inside the enclosure. These aquariums can only work if there is enough oxygen, along with other factors, at work in the water inside the container. Otherwise the fish and other organisms will just die. So, you must make sure you are using a proper circulation system that constantly pumps filtered water back into the tank. The outflow of your filter provides the needed surface agitation that increases surface area and replenishes the oxygen in the water. You really should have a filter for your aquarium, that is able to cycle 4x its volume per hour. For example, if you have a 20 gallon tank the filtration system should be able to pump at least 80 gallons of water per hour. This may seem like overkill, but believe me, having a larger pump will save you hours upon hours of maintenance time each month. You will have to clean your tank less frequently and do smaller water changes, which is healthier for your fish!

An Introduction to Aquariums and Aquarium Fish
Tetras in our tank.

There are many popular brands of filters. We have used several ( I learned by trial and error), and I can say from experience that my Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filters have worked extremely well.  I even used them when I had Red Earred Slider Turtles and these pumps were little power houses. Turtles are notoriously dirty, and I had filtration power for 400 gallons (for a 75 gallon tank).  I never had to change  my water more than twice a month.

An Introduction to Aquariums and Aquarium Fish
My turtle, Tucker.

Besides the actual filter unit you will need to keep a supply of filter “media”. For lack of a better word, media is the stuff that goes inside the filter itself, that helps to clean the water as it flows through it. Media can consist of floss pads, bio sponge pads or rings, ceramic rings, zeolite crystal packs, and activated carbon packs. Yes, it sounds like a lot, but it’s all necessary to have a healthy tank.

You can provide more aeration for your tank, at a very reasonable cost, with an air pump, some tubing, few miscellaneous parts, and an air stone or bubbler. Air stones can be simple or you can go for a more fun options.

Air stone in my tank.

Air stones come in all sizes, can be purchase as bars, rings, LED lighted.  And bubblers can match the theme of your tank.  You can have a scuba diver with a treasure chest or maybe an clam that opens up to reveal a pearl.  You should also keep a supply of Stress Coat on hand.  You will use this to “de-chlorinate” your water when you set up your tank and each time you do a water change.

Do some research before getting into the aquarium hobby. There are so many books, forums, and chat rooms at your disposal, that will help you successfully create an environment in which your fish may not only survive, but thrive.

Now that we’ve talked about filtration for your tank, let’s talk about the fish themselves. 

Just about everyone my age has had a goldfish at one time or another…probably one that was a prize from a local fair. Goldfish are very pretty and many are not costly at all, but they are one of the dirtier fish to house.​ Some of the more popular types of freshwater fish to be included in aquariums are Tetras, Barbs, Danios, live bearers (such as Guppies, Mollies, and Platys), and Chiclids. I personally find Chiclids to be a bit aggressive (as are Angelfish) and prefer that they be kept in a tank of their own, or with other larger fish.

An Introduction to Aquariums and Aquarium Fish
Pictured Above, Top to Bottom – Left to Right: Molly, Barbs, Guppies, Danios, Chiclids
An Introduction to Aquariums and Aquarium Fish
Angel Fish

Betas, of course are popular, but so often they are kept in small glass jars with no filtration or aeration at all, rather than in proper tanks.  PLEASE, if you want a Beta, get a small equipped tank for him or her.  These beautiful creatures deserve a proper environment to live and thrive in.

An Introduction to Aquariums and Aquarium Fish

Topical fish are popular because of their ornamental beauty – they way their scales glitter under the lights as they flit and twist in their aquatic ballet. These types of fish are also popular because they are known to be well accustomed to the smaller environments of an aquarium.​ Again, it is important to do your research when choosing what type of fish you will introduce into your fish tank, such as what the minimum size tank would work best for a particular breed, and what type of tank mates would compliment each other best and whether or not you need more than one for them to feel safe.

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