Essentials for a freshwater aquarium

Who doesn’t love to own pets but do not due to the maintenance they need. If you’re the one who thinks the same, you might be wrong. There’s still a pet with secondary care and worth keeping. Yes, the fish. Almost 139 households in the U.S own aquarium fish.

Do you know that interacting with fish can improve your mental health? A study shows that people who spent time watching aquariums not only had reduced stress levels, but there was a marked change in their heart rates.

With so many health benefits, who could resist setting up a freshwater fish tank at home?

And that also when you love pet fish

But where to start?

Hold on. Here is your answer.

How do you Start a Freshwater Fish Tank for Beginners?

If you’re a beginner starting up a freshwater fish tank, worry not. We have got your back.

The first step is to plan the location of your aquarium fish tank. Try to place it away from windows or outside doors because your little fishies couldn’t withstand abrupt weather changes.

The next step is to plan the species you want to keep in your freshwater fish tank. Why it is essential is because you have to buy the size of the tank accordingly.

Once you have set the tank to its ideal location, before adding water or, clean it thoroughly. Now add substrate first and then water.

After that, install the essential equipment. Decorate it.

Now it’s time to add the fishes, and tada! Your freshwater home aquarium is ready.

13 Essentials for Freshwater Fish Tank

Although fish is a low maintenance pet, you could end up with a deadly fish aquarium if ignored. So here is a checklist of 13 essentials that are a must for a freshwater fish tank.

Aquarium Filter

The prime thing you need after setting up a live aquarium is an aquarium filter. What is the function of a typical filter? It cleans and removes toxic materials. Same it does with an aquarium filter. The fish excrete out waste continuously while swimming, and it needs cleaning. Excess food also starts floating on the water’s surface, which is instantly cleaned by a filter. Besides clearing out the waste, an aquarium filter removes toxic chemicals from the water if you’re putting tap water in it.

Aquarium Conditioner

Aquarium conditioner is an extra safety product. To ensure that your fish is living in a secure and healthy environment, you must add some conditioner to remove excess toxins. A single dose of aquarium conditioner can neutralize the tap water by removing unwanted metals and chlorine from it.

Water conditioners prevent toxic ammonia buildup in your aquarium. How? By promoting colonization of the bacteria that your aquarium needs.

Aquarium Heater

All types of fishes need hot water in their environment for living. Usually, they need 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. Less than this temperature can be lethal for your aquarium fish. But some fishes can survive as temperature varies with the type of fish.

So it would help if you needed an aquarium heater in winters to give your fish an ideal environment where they can easily live. Most aquarium heaters have a thermostat, which makes it automatic. It makes sure that water in the fish tank doesn’t get too cold. When the temperature is ideal, it automatically turns off. 

Aquarium Air Pump

Just like humans can not survive without oxygen, fish too can not. However, your fish are getting oxygen from the water. Still, an air pump is necessary for the survival of fish in a home aquarium. It makes the water oxygenated and fresh so that the fish could breathe easily.

Besides maintaining water flow, the air pump also maintains heat flow to ensure that there is stagnant warm water all over the fish tank.

Aquarium Lighting

Light is not a biological essential for fishes, but they need light to perform activities like eating like all other creatures. But you can turn it off at night, so they can easily sleep. Lighting in tanks also helps us to see all the activity going on in the fish tank.

If you have put natural plants in your freshwater tank, they might stop growing or will get dry. Besides, lighting also improves the beauty of your aquarium by giving it a decent look. Make sure to use lights that dissipate minimal or no heat. 

Test Kits And Thermometer

To ensure that your fish tank water is fresh and up to the mark, perform a check test weekly. The water must maintain a normal pH range or nitrate level. For this, you must know the normal ranges first. So the normal pH should be neutral, which is 7. And nitrate level should be as low as possible.

You can use a test kit or test strip to perform these tests. Also, use a thermometer to check the temperature of the water. The average temp for a home aquarium must be 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water Bucket and a Fish net

While cleaning the fish aquarium, you will need a fishnet. Not for fishing, but to store them temporarily in some other reservoir until the tank gets cleaned. Fishnets are the safest and convenient option to transport your fish in emergency cases or water changes.

To remove the contaminated water or to add fresh water, you’ll need a water bucket. So keep these on hand if you’re setting up a freshwater fish tank.

Decorative Items

Decorative items can improve the allure of a live aquarium. Besides, fishes do love an ornamental environment. They not only love when their surroundings are clean and pretty, but they live happier. You can put many items for decoration. For a fancy environment, you can put some ornaments. Fish love to play, so try to put some toys for them.

Corals are another excellent choice. It is a natural invertebrate that gives them an environment as in the ocean. You can also opt for different species of aquatic plants. Such plants can provide biological oxygen or feed. Apart from natural plants, you can add some artificial or plastic plants for pleasant surroundings.


Some substrate is just aesthetic while some serve functional as well. For aesthetic appeal, it provides beautiful landscapes for live aquarium while giving a calming and soothing effect to viewers. Gravel is the most common substrate choice for the home aquarium because it creates a natural habitat for fish.

Try to choose a pea-sized stone which is not so sharp. Gravel also serves as a medium for bacterial growth. The plants that need their roots to be covered can again grow efficiently.

Fish Food

Fishes need nutrients to stay alive. You can not give ordinary food to fish. So you’ll need fish food, made of vitamins, earthworms, insects, and many other minerals. There are many types of fish food:

  • Dry food
  • Flake food
  • Medicated food for fish
  • Frozen feed

Dry fish food is the most common that you’ll find in the market when you’ll ask for fish food. But your fishes can eat many microorganisms such as water fleas and earthworms.

They can consume leafy vegetables or plants. So you can clip some raw spinach, zucchini, or lettuce on the side of your fish tank. And enjoy watching them eat those leafy veggies.

Aquarium Backdrop

Just like substrate, an aquarium background also provides aesthetics to your fish tank. Choose it wisely. Your fish tank’s whole theme depends on it as it influences the fish tank’s color tone. The most commonly used aquarium background for freshwater fish tanks is blue laminated ones.

You can quickly get them from any pet store. Another artistic choice is to paint the back of your aquarium for some aesthetic vibe.

Chlorine Remover

Chlorine at a higher concentration is exceptionally toxic for fishes. To save fish from being deadly, you need a chemical remover in the live aquarium. You can add a few drops for dechlorination in the tank. As chlorine is a very harmful chemical, it can damage the fish badly. It can burn the gills and scales of fishes and cause internal tension.

To remove the chlorine from the fish tank and give a healthy life to fish, you need a chlorine remover. A few drops can remove excess chlorine from the tank, and fishes can continue living a healthy life.

Cleaning Accessories

Maintaining the pet fish aquarium is also as important as setting it up is. So make sure to keep the cleaning tools with you. And clean it fortnightly or monthly. Some useful cleaning accessories include an algae scraper, a cleaning brush, glass spray, and siphon.

Final Words

Whether it’s a dog or a pet fish, keeping any pet is worth an experience, but providing them their essentials is also topmost. So do extensive research on the type of fish you’re going to keep, and then decide its requirements. The list mentioned above consists of some general essentials that every freshwater fish tank needs.

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