I’m sure at some point in your life you have enjoyed the relaxing sounds of trickling water, wether it from a fountain, running water, or the flowing water in a fish tank.
The use of a fish tank as part of a rooms decor is popular for some, for others they like them but feel like it’s a lot of work, or they are concerned they won’t know how to care for the fish. I am not a fish expert by any means, I couldn’t tell you all the ins and outs of different fish species and how to keep them alive. What I can tell you is, that I know when I need information about something I take my questions to the experts. Anytime I’m taking on a new project that I’m not sure about I am always looking for a specialty shop or someone to talk to with experience in the area so that I collect the best information before I start.
Throughout this post I will share with you what I learned from my local fish store in order to put this project together. If you are taking on a fish tank project for the first time I would recommend you do the same, ask lots of questions before you start. If you have experience with this process chime in on the conversation if you think you can help someone out.
First things first… Always start with some inspiration.
Whenever I’m starting a new project I always like to look for some inspiration. It helps me see what’s available to me and come up with a plan. I sometimes shop around in different stores, compare products and prices and then decide what’s the best course of action before I start. This is the most cost effective way to complete any project.
As you start to brainstorm ideas for your tank you can start to visualize it in the room you have chosen, you will want to make sure that whatever location you do choose, that’s it is close to an outlet because you may have to plug a pump and light in. Side note, not all tanks come with pumps and lights, you can choose not to go that route, I chose to because overall the tanks with pumps will be cleaner and can also be less maintenance over time.
As soon as you are sure of your location, start to think about the size you may want. This is important to keep in mind before you buy your fish. Some fish will require more water then other, some fish grow significantly larger then others, so having a good idea of what size will fit in the space you chose will help guide you once you get to the fish store.
Choose a theme…
When you have an idea of the space for the tank and size of the tank its time to choose a theme…. Once you have a theme in mind that you might like for the tank you can start to get into more details. To give you some ideas of the themes you can do, here are some I came across;
- Fake neon plants and sculptures
- Fake realistic looking plants
- Coral reef collections
- Ship wrecks
- Thai and spa inspired
- Real plants and coral
- Decoritive rocks
After you decide the basic background of the tank you can decide on added decor elements, to list all of those could be endless but here some examples I pulled from amazon.ca for you to get some ideas.
I chose to use real plants and a tank that had a pump and a light. I decided this because real plants offer the fish lots of oxygen in the tank and they also have a really nice quality look to them. I chose to pay the extra to have a tank with a pump and light for a couple reasons, the first because you need that for a tank that has real plants and the second is so that overall the tank will be less maintenance because the filter will help keep the tank water clean, this will mean I will have less overall maintenance and it also makes it a healthier environment for the fish by keeping the water moving and flowing throughout the tank.
Choosing my plants was a whole other challenge, there were a lot more available then I thought there would have been. Im one whole like the process so once I got more familiar with all the elements of putting a tank together and the process I started to have more fun with it.
What kind of fish do you want?
Before I walked into a fish store, for the most part when I thought of the different kinds of fish my thoughts went to guppies and goldfish. Either of which I was interested in. I was shocked when I say the variety that is available. All the colours and sizes. It’s just unbelievable. One of the reasons I suggest going to a fish store is because you will want to speak to knowledgeable staff who know about the needs of all your fish, and to be able to guide you in the right direction for the types of fish you can have.
There are community and non community fish, fresh water and salt water fish to keep it simple. If you are a beginner fish tank person like myself I would suggest fresh water tanks and fish.
While at the fish store I was having a hard time choosing my fish, there were tones to choose from. So I asked for help. I looked for fish that would stay relatively small as I only had space for a take no larger then 5 gallons and I also wanted to have a bit of a variety as well. The option recommended to me was to look at Tetras.
Tetras as community fish that like to be kept in no less then pairs. They come in all sorts of shapes sizes and colours and are all community fish, allowing me to collect a few different kinds for my tank knowing they would all get along. The below are the ones I chose.
Very happy with my choices I got the employee that was helping me to pack them up and I was off to set things up. Side note it is not recommended to put finish in a new tank right away, you should be running the water for for at least 5-10 hours to make sure it is ready for the fish, you will also want to shock the water with special solution to make the water more livable for the fish.
You might want to consider setting up the tank one day and then the next getting your fish for the tank. The fish can n0t stay in the bag for more then a few hours after you buy them. Make sure you plane your time out accordingly.
Setting up the tank…
When you bring your tank home you will want to get it set up right away to start the process of getting the water ready for your fish. All the elements you have bought for your tanks needs to be washed in warm water before putting them in the tank. Important thing to remember when doing this is that soap will contaminate the water and make the tank unsafe for the fish. When washing the elements just hold them under the tap of warm water and rinse them of any dust and so on before they are places in the tank, no soap used.
When doing the rocks for the bottom it is helpful to use a strainer. Makes it easier to rinse the rocks and have the water strain out all at the same time.
Once all the elements are ready you can start to place them in. Start with the gravel first and then add the elements one by one till they are placed where you want them. If you bought real plants, don’t put them in until you have water in the tank.
Real plants and fish come with water in the bag, you will want to keep this water to add to the tank when you finally put them all in. So for the purpose of running the tank to clean everything you will fill it and treat it, and then remove half of the water, keeping some aside incase you need to top the tank up after.
This is the tank that I got, the brand and tank system was recommended to me at the store because I wanted to have real plants inside. The light on top has a touch start 3 option lamp. I can have it bright like the sun, dark like moonlight in the water or off. Its nice to have more options with the tank.
As for the shape and size, its a 5 gallon tank, and was a perfect size for the space I wanted to put it in and the type of fish I wanted to buy. I grabbed the image from amazon.ca. you can see more product info online about it. Just click on the image and you will be taken straight to the product page. A 5 gallon tank is a fare size for fish tank. If that is too much tank for you, there is also a square 3 gallon option as well in the same type of design and light features.
Brining your fish home…
When you bring your fish home you will have all of the elements in and the water ready. So yes you may have to make a few trips to the store. It’s a pain in the but to do, but the last thing you want is to rush the process and then all your fish die because the tank wasn’t ready.
Before you put the fish in the tank you will want to place all your plants, if you got real once. So what I did was empty out some of the water and put it in a pitcher and kept it aside incase I needed it. I then planted my plants in the water. I let the tank run for about an hour after with the new plants and some of the water that the plants were in to make sure all the water was mixed in together and started to go through the filter.
Next you take the bags the fish came in and put them in the tank, floating at the top so that the water in the bags start to change to the temperature of the water in the tank at a steady rate not to shock the systems of the fish. About an hour or two of this the water should be ok to transfer the fish.
When transferring the fish you will want to cut the bag just above the the water line while still in the tank. Pull the bag out and hold it over the pitcher of water if there is some room to add more, or use a secondary one. Slowly empty out about half of the water, watching carefully not to dump out the fish in the bag, using your hands and fingers create a barrier so that the water will flow out slowly but you have some control over the fish so they don’t fall out. Once you have let out enough water so that the fish have just enough to swim in you can dump the entire contents of the bag into the tank, be sure all the fish came out and non got stuck against the plastic. Repeat the process for each bag of fish you have.
If the tank water level is low after all of this then use the extra water that you took from the fish bags. If you still need more water use whats left from the pitcher of water you originally took out of the tank when you planted your plants. If the water is a bit dirty when you do this that’s ok, the fish will be happy and your filter will take care of the rest.
I also got bottom feeding fish that eats algia and dirt from inside the tank. These little guys feed off all the stuff the filter doesn’t pull out of the water. They are pretty cute too.
Once you have put everything together you can stand back and enjoy your creation. As much as I knew really nothing about setting up a fish tank when I started I will admit I enjoyed the process. Since I am far from a fish expert I won’t begin to offer advise for caring for your fish or your tank. I would suggest asking the employees at the fish store you go too about what specific needs your types of fish will need, and if the manual for the fish tank isn’t clear about caring for your filters I would also inquire about that.
As for offering decor advise and guidance, that I am completely comfortable with. If you have questions about placement, size of tank for your space, even colors and themes, I’m more then happy to start a conversation about it, just leave me a comment.
I really like projects that give you the opportunity to really express yourself and let go and be creative. Building a tank from scratch and choosing all the elements and decor items allows you to do just that, express yourself.
The project I have illustrated here was a very small one, one that took a few trips to the store and a few days to put together, including the original time for the water in the tank to be prepared. If you are someone who wants a more lavash and elaborate tank display I would highly suggest consulting an expert, these projects can get very expensive and you don’t want to be taking on something that you are not totally comfortable with.
As mentioned earlier with new technologies and developments tanks are no longer just a boring glass or plastic box with an ugly lid and a chunky, messy and loud filter hanging out. Tanks have a variety of aesthetic options and color options to choose to allow people to find the perfect one for their space. Enjoy the process and don’t forget to make a plan before you start.