When setting up your first tropical fish tank, the simpler you can make it the better. Simple doesn’t have to mean boring either – there are plenty of low maintenance and low budget ideas around which can be used to create a stunning tropical aquarium. Check out this guide to looking after tropical fish from Aquacadabra.
Opt for slow growing plants which require a rich substrate to feed through with their roots. Plants such as Amazon swords and Microsorum pteropus are perfect as long as you use a nutritious substrate, such as aquatic potting soil, for them.
Another advantage to using these types of plants is they don’t really require any special lighting and can do well in a low lit tank, taking another technical issue out of the picture when you are setting up a new tank for the first time.
The first thing to do is put your substrate into the bottom of the tank ready for the plants to be added into the tank. Pile it up higher in the areas where the plants will be – at the back and sides of the tank.
Next, take your plants and start to create your aquascaping effect – use taller plants at the back and sides, to avoid blocking the light and then start to build it up across the tank.
Once you have your substrate and plants you can start to create your tank design however you see fit. As these plants grow they do create a nice jungle-feel so bear this in mind when planting them early on. Make sure you don’t overplant as you need to be able to see the fish.
Cover the substrate in gravel, particularly around the plants, to hide the substrate level and create a decorative feature. Then you can use some nice sand for the front of the tank, to create a natural but bright contrast against the gravel.
If you wish to include rocks make sure they are clean and secure them in the gravel so there is no risk of them falling on top of your fish. You can also use pieces of driftwood to create a nice feel for your aquarium and give the fish places to hide.
Use smaller plants for the foreground of the tank and if you have a theme for your tank, include your theme features here too such as your castle, or pirate treasure chest etc… so that you can watch your fish swimming around them easily.
Taller plants should be planted in the middle of the tank at the back, that way you will create a feeling of depth in your tropical aquarium. Try to opt for different coloured leaves for your plants to create a nice contrast.
Once you have set up your substrate, planted your plants, added in any features such as rocks, wood or themed items, your aquarium is more or less finished. You can always add one or two decorative items like a colourful backdrop, or a frame around the front of the tank.
Having created the aquarium set up, the only thing that remains, which is probably the most important as it is the reason most people have for creating an aquarium, and that is to choose the fish to be included in the tank.
Once you are ready to choose the fish which you want to feature, there are many to choose from but for a starter tank it’s best to go for those which are easy to look after. There are a wide variety of tropical fish to choose from but Tetras are small, colourful and very easy to care for.
Tetras come in a variety of colours and are really eye-catching little fish. It’s best not to have them in with bigger fish as they will get eaten and they also need to live together in a group so you will need to buy a group of them.
Another option when choosing your first tropical fish are Guppies. They create a nice bright tank full of vibrant colours and movement. They come in a number of varieties but all of them have long, flowing fins and bright colours and they also live in schools.
Zebra danio fish also make a nice addition to a tropical tank. There are various types of danio fish, some with spots, some with stripes and they need to live in a school environment within the tank and work well with other smaller fish.
Creating your first tropical aquarium can be kept fairly simple and low-cost if you choose plants and fish which are all easy to look after and relatively low maintenance. Once you are more experienced you can always branch out and create all kinds of creative and decorative aquascape aquariums for tropical fish to live in. There is no limit other than your imagination.