Our Guide to Keeping Tropical Fish – Part Two

Don’t forget to check out Part One!

Filtration and heating

When installing any electrical equipment, it is always best to refer to the manufacturers instructions.

General guidelines are that heaters are normally positioned in the same area as the filter outlet, at a slight angle – this allows for optimum heat diffusion. For a tropical Aquarium, the heater will need to be set between 24 °C and 28°C. Now is also a great time to pop your thermometer on or in your aquarium.

In regards to filtration, internal filters are normally positioned, at ether end of the aquarium. For the best results when using an external filter the inlet should ideally be placed at one end of the aquarium and the outlet at the opposite. Have the inlet and outlet at opposite ends giving equal circulation throughout the aquarium.

Filling your aquarium

When it comes to filling your aquarium, most fresh water tropical fish are tolerant of tap water. However this is not the case with every species of fish. So it is always worth asking instore when looking at different species of fish. Not all species of fish can be added to a new aquarium setup either, this is another point always worth asking about when in store.

Before adding tap water to your aquarium, we have to remove two compounds to make it safe for our aquariums environment. These compounds are chlorine and chloramine. The best way to remove, chlorine and chloramine is by using a dechlorinater. Aquasafe, Aquaplus and stress coat are just a few of the brands which are on the market. This is a liquid which can be added to the water and works straight away to remove chlorine and chloramine.

When it comes to filling your aquarium, most people use a bucket which has not been used with detergents. Fill the bucket using water from the cold tap and adjust the temperature with water from the kettle. This method reduces the chances of any problems occurring from using water from the central heating system. It is always best to try and match the water temperature when refilling your aquarium in the future. This reduces the chances of shocking the fish.

Allowing the aquarium to mature

Once the aquarium is filled, the filter and heater then need to be turned on. The aquarium needs to be allowed to cycle for 14 days before the first fish are added. We would always recommend having the water tested before any fish are added. This is a free service which we provide, as well as recommending what to do. If the results are acceptable and safe we would then recommend slowly stocking your aquarium. Always starting off with a low number of hardy fish, depending on the size of the aquarium. Ask in store for more details.

Acceptable levels for the introduction of fish:

Ammonia (NH3) = 0ppm
Nitrite(NO2) = 0ppm
Nitrate(NO3)= less than 50ppm

There are also a number of different test kits on the market, which can be used at home. These vary in style, but all working in a similar manner, turning an indicator colour to show lever present within the water. Its always worth bearing in mind that the clarity of the water is not an indicator of the water chemistry.


The last area to look at in the overall setup is lighting. There are few aquariums which do not come including lighting now. However lighting is not essential with a fresh water set up. Lighting does help in some areas though. Natural plant growth is aided by artificial lighting, plus it allows us to view the fish which greater ease.

The ideal length of time to have your lights on for is 8 hours. This needs to be in one solid block, so the fish have a day, night cycle which is important for their health and well being. I would recommend using a timer on lighting systems, that way the fish always have the same routine. There is no reason why the lighting can’t be on when you’re in the house. The lighting does not have to match the full daylight hours. Excessive periods of lighting will lead to large volumes of algae growth.

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