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Auburn Aquarium's Top 5 Tips for New Aquarists: Dive into Success!

16 Nov, 2023

There’s nothing more mesmerising than sitting back and watching the wonders of a little aquatic ecosystem within your living room, but for many of us, the heartache of having to flush a fishy friend is all too familiar. So how do we ensure fish not only survive but thrive inside your aquarium?
Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of fishkeeping or a seasoned aquarist, Auburn Aquarium has your back. With over ten thousand satisfied customers annually, we’re here to share the secrets that will turn your empty glass tank into a thriving underwater paradise. So buckle up your scuba gear and let’s dive into the top 5 tips for beginner aquarium keepers.

1. Sit Back & Cycle

In the world of aquariums, patience is not just a virtue but a necessity. Adding fish to a newly set-up tank is almost like chucking a human onto the moon with no spacesuit. Why? The answer lies under the lens of a microscope. There are no beneficial bacteria yet!
Meet the unsung hero of your aquarium, the bio-filter. This is comprised of millions of little microbes that ‘eat’ the toxic ammonia that emits from your fishes’ raw sewage, breaking it down into something much more harmless called nitrate via the ‘nitrogen cycle’. The bacteria tirelessly purifying your aquarium water 24 hrs a day is what keep your fish alive.
So where do these invisible workers come from? Harness the power of patience to turn your tank from a barren wasteland into a healthy, robust biome as you wait for bacteria to settle in from the air and attach to surfaces in your tank (like gravel and filter media). Here, they will begin to divide and feed on ammonia, soon becoming a huge colony. This process, known as ‘cycling a tank’, can take over a month. Fish are only safe to add to a tank when there is no more ammonia or nitrite, and plenty of nitrate to indicate that the bacteria are doing their jobs!
If you really can’t wait to dive in, cycling can be sped up by adding bottles of beneficial bacteria like Seachem Stability or Fluval Bio-Enhance to seed your aquarium.

2. Master Maintenance

Regular maintenance is the life-jacket that keeps your aquarium afloat. Just like we need to vacuum our houses to boost our spirits and relieve our allergies, our fishes’ homes need a good vacuuming too! We guarantee that a gravel vacuum is the most important tool in the aquarists’ tool belt.
Aim to give your gravel a good vacuum every fortnight. At Auburn Aquarium, we can demonstrate the hacks & techniques to turn this tediousness into an easy 15-minute chore on the weekend so you can enjoy your healthy, clean tank throughout the week. Say goodbye to uneaten food, fish poop, decaying plants and accumulated gunk as you unveil your pristine substrate. This is the key to preventing nitrate from building up to harmful levels and encouraging disease-causing nasties to grow out of control.

3. Portion Control is Key

Fish, like all of us, need a balanced diet to be healthy, active & disease-free. Maybe less like us, this is also the key to bringing out stunning, vibrant fish colours! Choosing a variety of high-quality foods in the right quantity is crucial. Select from Auburn Aquarium’s huge range of nutritious pellets or flakes as a staple, then mix it up with frozen treats or live foods like blackworms to keep things interesting for your fishy friends.
The number one thing to remember is moderation. Uneaten pellets floating around untouched are 10-fold more polluting than fish poop. Like little bombs, they are a sure-fire way to turn your crystal-clear aquascape into a milky, murky, toxic wasteland. Feed only what your fish will eagerly devour in under a minute. If there’s anything left after this time, scoop or vacuum it out ASAP!

4. Plants are Pals

Greenery galore is guaranteed to help your aquarium thrive. Besides turning your tank into a beautiful garden to behold, live aquatic plants contribute to the overall wellbeing of your fish by providing oxygen, absorbing harmful substances to use as fertiliser, and creating cozy hiding spots. Strategically picking your plants will result in success; at Auburn Aquarium, we have a massive variety of almost every plant imaginable, but try not to be tempted by fussy plants that will simply melt away and decay if things are not exactly to their liking. Choose forgiving, fast-growing plants like Wisteria, Milfoil or Hygrophila species, and the bullet-proof Anubias & Java Fern at first. We’re here to guide you at every step of your green-thumb journey!

5. Avoid the Crowd

One of the most popular questions we answer is: “how many fish can I keep in my tank?”
The immense selection of colours, fins, shapes & sizes at Auburn Aquarium is incredibly tempting, but try to resist creating a chaotic metropolis in your tank at home. Overstocking is a direct route to stress, aggression, poor water quality and disease. We encourage you to research the specific needs of your fish & plan your community wisely. But if you see a fish you just have to bring home, we’re here to provide you with a wealth of knowledge on every species we keep!
Remember that a smaller amount of happy, harmonious fish is much more enjoyable to watch and care for than lots of sad, unhealthy ones!

So there you have it – the top 5 tips we suggest for those ready to dive into the world of aquarium-keeping. There’s nothing we love more than seeing healthy, happy fish & the joy of successful aquarists. At Auburn Aquarium, we are dedicated to offering guidance, support and the expertise needed to ensure your own aquatic adventure is a resounding success!

Keen to keep reading? Come visit Auburn Aquarium's at the Pet Show, Sydney!

By Claire Duncan, for Auburn Aquarium's.

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