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Aquarium Lab. Setting up and maintaining a healthy aquarium. Safety. Electricution!!!!!!!!! Need Drip Loops on plugs Glass aquariums can break Slipping on water on the floor Cleanliness. Cleaning. Siphon out the water and remove contents

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Aquarium Lab

Setting up and maintaining a healthy aquarium

  • Electricution!!!!!!!!! Need Drip Loops on plugs
  • Glass aquariums can break
  • Slipping on water on the floor
  • Cleanliness
  • Siphon out the water and remove contents
  • Do not use chemicals to clean in or outside-residues can remain in scratches (NO windex near tanks!)
  • Rinse anything you clean and soak in water to avoid tank contamination
  • Maintaining Cleanliness
    • Don’t overfeed your fish!
    • Make a 25% water change once a month
    • Vacuum gravel periodically
tank set up
Tank Set-up
  • Situate tank where it will stay before adding anything!
  • Add in gravel, water, decor, then fish
  • Use natural or aquarium decor- simulate habitat
  • ALWAYS add water conditioner to remove chlorine & chloramine from tap water
  • Natural lighting is best for fish
  • Florescent/UV lights are also acceptable
  • Black lights can be harmful
hood cover
  • Aquariums must be covered so that fish don’t leap out
  • A hood can also house the lighting
  • Be careful not to get light in the water….electricution!!!
  • Aquatic organisms breathe dissolved oxygen
  • Air must be pumped in with a compressor or can be put in with a powered filter
  • Air stones increase surface area of bubbles & O2 content
  • Most fish can live at a range of 72-80 F (22-27 C)
  • An aquarium heater can be placed in tanks that need higher temperatures (tropicals)
3 types of filtration
3 types of Filtration
  • Biological filtration
    • Created by bacteria in gravel and on fish
    • Beneficial bacteria breaks down waste products in the nitrogen cycle

Fish food (protein N) Ammonia/ fish waste (NH3)Nitrite (NO2)Nitrate (NO3)H20 change

    • Use an under gravel filter to facilitate bacterial growth
  • Mechanical filtration
    • Removes accumulated solids (mulm) from aquarium
    • Usually accomplished with mesh in an electric pump
    • Can also be manually removed with a gravel vacuum
  • Chemical filtration
    • Purifies water using activated carbon-dissolved impurities are absorbed by holes in carbon
    • Activated carbon must be replaced
    • Minimize use of chemical/medicines to rid tank of problems
water tests
Water tests
  • pH
    • Measures acidity or alkalinity of water
    • Range
      • FW 6.6-7.6
      • SW 7.8-8.4
    • A buffer can be added in to maintain a pH or make a 25% water change
    • If pH is too high/basic – lower pH
      • Peat moss
      • pH decreasing chemical from pet store
    • If pH is too low/acidic – increase pH
      • Baking soda: has bicarbonate ions which is a base
water tests1
Water tests
  • AmmoniaNitriteNitrate-
    • Released from gills of fish and decaying wastes
    • Range should be 0 ppm
    • Change 25% of water or replace carbon to lower level
conditioning period
Conditioning period
  • A conditioning (waiting) period of 1 week should be allowed for new tank without a natural bacteria population established
  • Seed with old gravel
  • Saltwater can be obtained from the ocean or from a salt mix
    • Concentration:
      • 32 ppt
      • Specific gravity = 1.021 - 1.024
      • ½ cup marine salt / gallon
  • Freshwater- add 1 tsp / 5 gallons for health
water level
Water level
  • Add water to within 1’’ of top
  • Water must be added every so often due to evaporation
  • Don’t forget water conditioner!
how to buy
How to buy
  • Find a reputable fish dealer and establish a buyer relationship
  • Never buy from a tank with dead or sick-looking fish
  • Be sure to ask questions- these guys are experts!
how many
How many?
  • General rule- 1 inch of fish/gallon
    • Ex. A 30 gal tank can have:
        • 1- 30 inch fish
        • 2-15 inch fish
        • 3-10 inch fish
        • 30-1 inch fish
what to get
What to get?
  • Freshwater:
    • Plecostamus (sucker fish)
    • Tetra
    • Platties
    • Guppies
    • Mollies
    • Beta
    • Gouramis
    • Danios
    • Tiger Barbs
    • Bala & Red Tail Sharks
    • Catfish
    • Angel fish
    • NO CICHLIDS!!!!
  • Saltwater:
    • Damsels
    • Tangs
    • Wrasse
    • Puffers (brackish-low salt)
    • Snow Flake Eels
    • Crab
    • Shrimp
  • Try to utilize all the areas in your tank by adding fish that live in different parts of the water column
    • Ex. a bottom feeder (scavenger), a mid-water swimmer, a top feeder

Helpful Websites

how to add
How to add?
  • Dumping fish in your tank from a bag can shock them
  • Float the bag for 15-20 minutes to gradually adjust the temperature
  • Then, pour out half of the water in the bag and add in water from your tank
    • After 15-20 more minutes the fish should be acclimated to your tank
  • Also, feed the resident organisms in the tank as you are releasing new fish from a bag, to keep them preoccupied
    • This allows the new fish to enter gently, without being harassed by current resident “bullies”
how much to feed
How much to feed?
  • Feed fish only what they will consume in 5 minutes, twice a day (once for us)-cover food!
  • Remove excess food, so as not to pollute the tank
  • One day of fasting is recommended (feed 6 out of 7 days)


  • Signs
    • Clamped fins, fins held close to the body
    • Frayed fins
    • Bloating
    • Enlargement of the eyes
    • Erratic swimming and shimmying
    • Drifting close to the bottom or gasping for air at surface
    • Scraping themselves on plants or filters
    • Loss of appetite
    • White spots on fins or body
    • Parasites on body
    • Cottonlike patches on fins or body
    • Fish that are normally active remaining still
  • If an organism appears sick, it should be removed from the tank so as not to contaminate the rest of the organisms
  • A separate “hospital” tank can be set up to help or medicate a fish
  • Just like land plants, aquatic plant need natural light to survive, as well as minerals from a substrate
  • Aquatic plants are often hard to maintain without adequate lighting and can deteriorate in your tank
  • My advice……. Go plastic!
  • Fill tank ¼ inch
  • Coral gravel
    • Crushed coral; porous
    • Easy to clean
    • Inexpensive
    • Bacteria growth
  • Flourite
    • Enhanced with nutrients to sustain plants
  • Sand
set up day 1
Set Up Day 1
  • *Safety!!!!*
  • Pull out all décor clean/rinse, and put on table
  • Wash and rinse out the empty aquarium. Do not allow any gravel to go down the drain!
  • Wipe off the lid. Plug it in and make sure the light works.
  • Wash the filter. Remove as much algae as possible.
  • Wash any gravel you want to use thoroughly before you put it in your aquarium. Do not allow any gravel to go down the drain!
  • Put the gravel in the aquarium.
  • Fill the aquarium with water.
  • Attach the filter to the side of the aquarium. Prime it (put water in it). Plug it in to see if it works.
  • Wash and rinse any and all toys you plan on putting in your aquarium.
  • Place them in the aquarium. Remember, fish like “structure” so that they can hide and play!
  • Get an air compressor, hose and air stone from me. Use only hose to allow you to put the air stone on the bottom where you want it. Plug in the air compressor.
  • Put the lid on your aquarium and allow to set up.
  • If you have a marine aquarium, calculate how much salt you’ll need and get your calculations checked by me before adding salt to the tank, then be sure and check the level daily. Use a hydrometer to measure the salt levels. The recommended specific gravity is 1.020 to 1.024.
day 2
Day 2
  • Drain 50%
  • Refill
  • Add water conditioner
  • Marine aquariums add live rock
how to reseal a tank
How to Reseal a Tank
  • Empty the aquarium of water and dry it completely with absorbent paper towels. Set the aquarium on a table or flat surface where you can easily reach into and around it.
  • Scrape away the old silicone from inside the corners and bottom of the tank using a razor blade or utility knife. Be careful not to scratch the glass. Dispose of the old silicone when you are finished.
how to reseal a tank1
How to Reseal a Tank
  • Wipe down the surfaces of the tank with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel or cotton swap. Pay particular attention to the corners of the tank and feel for any bits of silicone that you may have missed. Scrape away any leftover silicone with a razor blade and clean the tank thoroughly with the alcohol, then let it dry.
how to reseal a tank2
How to Reseal a Tank
  • Fill a small container with rubbing alcohol and place it inside the tank. Coat your fingers with the alcohol before spreading the silicone so it does not stick to your fingers.
  • Cut the tip off the silicone tube with your razor blade or utility knife and apply a generous bead of silicone all the way down one edge of the tank. Quickly dip your fingers into the rubbing alcohol then use them to spread the silicone into the cracks and corners and to smooth away any air bubbles. Wipe your fingers on a paper towel before moving on.
how to reseal a tank3
How to Reseal a Tank
  • Finish the other sides of the aquarium in the same manner by applying the silicone and spreading it with your fingers. Pay extra attention to the corners, being sure to press the silicone as far into the corners of the tank as possible to prevent leaks.
  • Allow the silicone to dry for 24 hours then examine the tank. If you see any areas where the silicone is layered too thin add another coat and allow it to dry for another 24 hours.
how to reseal a tank4
How to Reseal a Tank
  • Allow the silicone to cure for a full 48 hours before going back and cleaning up your work. Scrape away any spills with rubbing alcohol and a razor blade.
  • Rinse the tank well to remove any traces of rubbing alcohol then fill it to test it for water tightness. If the tank does not leak after being full for 24 hours it is considered safe to use.
tips and warnings
Tips and Warnings
  • To get silicone off your hands, coat them with mineral spirits or rubbing alcohol and wipe them with paper towels. After you have removed the silicone, wash your hands normally with soap and water.
  • Execute all tasks in a well-ventilated area to prevent the inhalation of fumes from the rubbing alcohol. Wear protective eye wear.
  • Only 100 percent rubber silicone sealant or aquarium sealant is recommended for use on your tank. Other types of silicone sealant may contain ingredients that could be harmful to your fish.