I visited a friend of a friend last week after being asked to help with their new aquarium set up. Being naturally friendly and inclined to a nice trip out I went. Lovely couple and very enthusiastic about their aquarium but to be honest, clueless! They had seen one in some waiting room and found them ‘entrancing’ and made a decision to buy one. They searched the internet for stockists and off they trotted to buy their rather nice tank. It has now been sitting in their day room for 4 weeks as they not too sure what to do – thank goodness the salesman had not sold them the fish straight away! They were aware that the tank needed ‘cycling’ but when I spoke with them they had a very confused picture as how to do this.
Cycling a tank is about establishing the correct bacteria levels in the filter system so the ammonia and nitrates from fish waste do not make the tank a toxic environment. Just buying a filter is not enough! I explained the system to the couple and introduced them to a post on the New Zealand Marine Aquarium Society that explains it very well with excellent pictures to guide you on your way – not being one to re invent the wheel (or re write something already there!!) I suggest you go read it if you starting up with a new tank yourself, it also introduces you to ‘cooking’ and especially how to do that in New Zealand, as I said a vey useful article.
I also suggested they spend a bit more time learning about the hobby they are starting off on and recommended some books and web sites to visit, this Fish data base is a nice one on the fish you can get here in New Zealand. They were a lovely couple and I feel fortunate that I met with them in time to prevent them losing a number of fish to a unprepared tank which unfortunately happens when not enough time is taken to learn about the hobby before you start buying. I also encouraged them to contact a professional to do the maintenence for them as I do, certainly until they are confident in their own abilities to care for the tank and fish.
Please folks if you are going to invest a lot of money and time into your aquarium spend a little time before hand researching and learning about what is required both you and your aquarium will benefit. Purchasing all the equipment in one go can be pricey but often stockists and vendors often good deals, if it a case of not having enough simple cash to hand then if you are serious about your hobby maybe consider a short term loan.