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Awesome Reef Tank

Pros And Cons – Freshwater Or Saltwater Aquarium?

What are the pros and cons of keeping a freshwater or saltwater aquarium?

Tropical fish keeping can be divided into two primary categories.  Maintaining the care of freshwater fish or caring for their saltwater counterparts.

Both types of tropical fish keeping will provide you with a great deal of enjoyment and add some living color to your home.

Children and adults have been bringing home fish and other creatures from their local waters since the beginning of time. It could be crayfish, minnows or baby bluegill from a stream or a small octopus or Blenny from a saltwater pool at low tide. Regardless of what you bring home, you will need to take care of it, or eat it.

Assuming that you don’t want to eat your catch, your next step is to decide how to keep it alive. Aquariums fit the bill nicely and can be set up for either freshwater fish or saltwater specimens.

  • Freshwater Aquariums:

Freshwater tropical fish are beautiful to look at and many species are adorned with unique color patterns akin to their more colorful saltwater cousins. Some are more exotic looking than others but if you have never dealt with freshwater tropical fish before, you will be mesmerized by them.

Colorful Freshwater Aquarium

Colorful Freshwater Aquarium

Each species of fish may have have different requirements for their living conditions but many species can be housed together in a “community tank” setting and peacefully coexist with each other.

Beginning tropical fish keepers usually start with freshwater aquariums because they are easier to take care of and are more “forgiving” if you make a mistake. De-chlorinated tap water can be used to fill your tank and make periodic water changes, and test kits are readily available to ensure that everything is in order.

Fish that thrive in freshwater are not necessarily too particular about where they swim. Most will thrive in a neutral pH water environment however the water temperature IS important.

As their name implies, tropical fish like to have their water a bit warm. You can monitor and adjust this with a good heater placed in the tank. The emphasis is on GOOD one. A cheap heater could cause you to lose all your fish.

Freshwater aquarium setups are normally less expensive than the saltwater variety. The cost of the tank and stand is usually the same but the lighting, filters, protien skimmers, etc.can set you back a bit.

You can get a 30 Gallon acrylic show aquarium combo these days for around $225.00. This may sound expensive but it will save you money because you won’t have to spend more on additional equipment.

Freshwater tropical fish are also less expensive than saltwater fish unless you get into the really exotic species like Discus, Arrowanna, freshwater rays, etc.

  • Saltwater Aquariums:

Saltwater aquariums are awesome in their beauty and will give and your friends hours of viewing pleasure, but they do require more work. This is why most beginning tropical fish keepers choose a freshwater aquarium to start with.

Saltwater Reef Aquarium

Saltwater Reef Aquarium

However, if you are a dedicated person willing to learn everything necessary to keep a saltwater aquarium running smoothly, saltwater fish keeping may be for you.

Saltwater tropical fish are a little more delicate than the freshwater fish you may be used to keeping. Setting up their environment correctly is critical to their survival and well being, at least in the beginning. Once they settle into their tank environment, their activities becomes what you would expect to see in a small part of the ocean.

Everything revolves around keeping the water salinity correct.

When keeping saltwater aquariums, monitoring of salt levels is crucial. Too much or too little salt will kill your fish and because saltwater tropical fish cost substantially more than freshwater tropicals, you will probably want to keep your fish alive as long as humanly possible.

Maintaining marine tropicals costs more than it does to maintain freshwater species, but do you know why?

Unless you live on the coast where you can easily collect fresh seawater to conduct periodic water changes, you will have to mix your own “sea water” using synthetic sea salt mixtures. Commercial sea salt for the aquarium trade has come down in price but is still expensive.

In addition, protein skimmers are needed to keep pollutant buildups out of your tank water and special lighting is needed if you choose to keep corals alive and healthy.  These can initially be quite expensive however, if you don’t mind paying a bit extra and you have the dedication necessary to maintain a saltwater tank, you can literally move a part of the ocean into your home.

Once you decide to take on the responsibility of tropical fish keeping, your next decision is whether to invest in a freshwater or saltwater tank.

Hopefully, the above information will help you make your decision.

Posted in Featured Articles, Setting Up Your First AquariumComments (0)

hatchetfish school

How To Keep Your Fish Healthy

Learning how to keep your fish healthy is essential if you plan on keeping them for any length of time.

Except for fish breeders, most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts want to keep their fish for as long as possible.  In order for them to survive and live a normal lifespan,  you will have to learn how to keep your fish happy and healthy in their enclosed environment.
butterfly fish

Black African Butterfly Fish

Here are some things you need to know when operating a tropical fish aquarium that will keep your fish healthy and vigorous.
  • Cleanliness
To minimize the loss of fish in any enclosed environment you need to keep the environment as clean as possible.

Clean you tank regularly.   Even with the best filter, tropical fish tanks are not self cleaning.  This is especially important with saltwater fish.

Filters can quickly become overloaded, especially when too many fish are added to the tank too quickly.   When adding fish to your tank, always add only a few fish at one time so that the  tank environment remains in balance and has a chance to settle down.  Adding too many fish at one time creates an ammonia spike that can kill your fish population.

Keeping your tank water clean greatly reduces this scenario.

  • Acclimation

Acclimate new fish to the tank environment slowly over a period of hours whenever possible.  – It is never a good idea to dump your fish into the new tank water, especially with the water in the bag that you transferred the fish home with.   If the shock doesn’t kill them, the ammonia spike from the contaminated water in the bag may.   Instead, empty your fish into a suitable container and add aquarium water to the fish one cup at a time until the fish can get used to it.   After about a half an hour or so, and a few additional cups of tank water, your fish will be ready to enjoy his new environment without difficulty.  Make sure to net the fish from the acclimation container into your tank and NOT add the water to your tank.

  • Coexistence

Choose fish for your tank that can coexist together. – All fish are not docile and most are bullies or predators in nature.  If you get an aggressive fish that likes to fight and mix it with another friendly species, your friendly fish will not be friendly for long and will most likely either die from infections caused by the battles or be on the aggressive fish’s menu.  Tropical fish selection is one of the most important things you need to educate yourself about if you plan on being a successful tropical fish keeper, so learn which fish can be kept together before you buy.

  • Purchase Healthy Fish

Examine your fish carefully before buying one for your tank.  Never mix a sick fish with your healthy fish.  Fish with white spots that are not supposed to be there, probably have the “ick.”  Fish that are swimming on the bottom of the tank at the pet store are usually suffering from some sort of ailment.  It could be the “shimmies”, an internal parasite that could be transferred to other fish in your tank, or some other parasitic ailment.  In any event, don’t buy fish that look or act sick.

  • Overfeeding

Try not to over feed your fish. Many fish swim to the top of the tank for other reasons than to get fed and many fish like the Hatchet fish and the African Butterfly fish live their entire lives on the surface.  Fish only need a few pieces of flake food or pellets a day to stay healthy.  Feeding them any more than that is a waste and will pollute the water when excess food collects on the bottom of the tank.  Overeating can also cause illness or even death in some species.  Koi often die from overeating during cold temperature conditions.

African Butterfly Fish

African Butterfly Fish

  • Give Your Fish Light

Like humans, fish need light about eight hours a day in order to remain healthy.   The easiest way to accomplish this is to buy a hood for your tank and plug it into a cheap timer.  Some fish (primarily saltwater fish, corals and inverts) will die if they do not receive a sufficient amount of daylight spectrum.   Too much light promotes green algae growth so don’t leave your tank hood on 24 hours a day unless you have a lot of plecos in your tank to eat the algae.

To keep your fish healthy, provide them with sufficient room to swim around, clean water, food, light and pleasant surroundings.  Sounds a lot like us, don’t you think?

If you learn how to take care of their environment from the beginning, maintaining a healthy tank is a breeze.

Posted in Featured Articles, Setting Up Your First Aquarium, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (0)

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