A tropical aquarium in the home or office can bring a slice of tropical sunshine into everyone’s life!
The ever-changing panorama of fascinating and colourful fish darting through the glades formed by the garden of aquatic plants, is a source of never-ending pleasure. The soothing therapeutic qualities are well known, and is the reason for an aquarium often being found in doctor’s and dentist’s waiting rooms, or in hospitals. The basic necessary elements for putting together a successful tropical freshwater aquarium are really quite simple. Controlled heating, lighting, and some form of filtration are the principal considerations beyond acquiring the actual glass or acrylic “box”, which is the aquarium.
There is a large range of differently shaped aquariums available today that hardly sits comfortably within this description of a “box”. The use of moulded acrylic permits bow fronts, magnifying “port-hole” windows, large globular shapes, and much more. But the traditional glass rectangular-fronted aquarium remains the firm favourite. Various gravels to form the base covering of the aquarium range from natural beach gravels to brightly coloured stones. The heating is usually provided by an all glass heater or a heater made of polycarbonate, which can be tucked unobtrusively and neatly into a back corner of the aquarium. A thermometer monitors the performance of this heating element. There are many options when it comes to choosing a filtering system and your local fish store will advise you about what will suit your needs best.
The most popular type of filter used today has a compact body charged with the filter medium and topped with a power head, all fitting neatly inside the aquarium. A more effective filter has a large canister body, charged with various beneficial filter media, and has an impeller fitted within the top lid. This unit stands outside of the aquarium, taking out and returning the aquarium water efficiently by means of tubes. The facility of choosing the types of filter media to charge the body with makes this the most versatile format.
High-intensity output fluorescent tube lighting is the normal means of illuminating the aquarium, without using too much electricity nor generating too much heat, yet putting out a remarkable strength of light. There are many makes of tube with different spectrums of light to choose from to achieve the effect that most pleases you. LEDs provide a more cost effective option and start at great prices. There are now LEDs on the market, which can be retro-fitted into your existing T5/T8 ballast.
Electrically powered air pumps provide a ready source of aeration, great for the fish’s welfare, but also used for the decorative effect streams of bubbles can create.
How you decorate your aquarium is very much a personal choice for you to make. Guidance from the aquarium shop staff will help you if needed. Natural growing plants undoubtedly play some part in the natural conditioning of the aquarium water, and can boast more uses than just that of being decorative. For success with these natural plants, the best way is to use a under gravel fertiliser and inject carbon dioxide using a CO2 system. However, if these are not practical, it is possible to use root tabs for fertilisation and liquids to put CO2 into the system. If the care of the aquarium garden is more than you wish to be involved with, you might opt for using artificial plants. These have moved on far from the old “plastic plants” which were once the only option. Many of today’s artificial aquatic plants are most convincing – more so underwater than when they are still in their packets on the shop display shelf.
When choosing the selection of fish for your aquarium, first consider what you want from it. If you are primarily looking for something simply as an ornamental addition to the home you will be advised to stay with a certain selection of fish known by reputation to be easy to keep and feed. If your thoughts are that you want the aquarium to be more of a hobby venture and can accept there will be some demands on your time accordingly, you might then opt for something more adventurous. Advice from knowledgeable shop staff, or referring to helpful books, can be a big help in forming your strategy in this important respect. Each set up is different and we’d happily be able to talk through the different options with you.