Maintenance Tips for Your Freshwater Aquarium

The increasing popularity of having a freshwater aquarium may be attributable to recent studies that have linked watching aquarium fish with reduced stress and lower blood pressure. Other people are discovering that freshwater fish make interesting and low-maintenance pets. Whatever the reasons, some 14.2 million U.S. households currently own a freshwater aquarium.

Choosing the Right Frehswater Aquarium Accessories

As the temperature of the water will determine the number and variety of fish you keep, the first decision you have to make is between coldwater and tropical freshwater aquariums. Coldwater aquariums are less expensive to maintain since they don't need an aquarium heater, but there are many more choices of tropical fish species available, and a denser fish population is allowable in a tropical freshwater aquarium.

The aquarium size is another important consideration. Large freshwater aquariums are more expensive, but the aquarium size must accommodate the fully-grown size of the fish, not just their size when first adopted. A smaller aquarium can always be upgraded later if necessary, though. A good rule of thumb for estimating aquarium size is three to four gallons of water in the aquarium for every one inch of fish length, since larger fish need more space than smaller fish.

Aquarium systems have a number of important features and accessories, including:

  • A water filtering and circulation system, including the proper equipment for mechanical, biological and chemical filtration
  • Gravel
  • A heater (if a tropical freshwater aquarium is selected)
  • Aquarium lighting
  • An aquarium test kit to monitor the conditions of the water
  • An aquarium vacuum and glass scrubber

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Planted freshwater aquariums are not only attractive but can be beneficial to the health of the fish. Real plants consume nitrates in the water, which are potentially harmful to the fish. Choices for hardier plants include hygrophila polysperma, Java fern and vallisneria spiralis.

Choosing Fish for a Freshwater Aquarium

The selection of fish for freshwater aquariums must be made carefully; some species are very sensitive to environmental factors and are not a good choice for first-time aquarium owners. Guppy and goldfish freshwater aquariums are often recommended for the beginning fish owner. Other good choices are mollies, platys and swordtails, as these fish share similar attributes with guppies and goldfish.

Maintaining a Freshwater Aquarium

A freshwater aquarium requires a commitment to regular maintenance to keep the tank clean. Regular water changes and careful monitoring of the nitrate levels will help to keep the aquarium's inhabitants healthy and happy.