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Small Setup Success - 10 Steps for Tiny Tanks

Decide on a Kit - The best bet is to start off with a foolproof aquarium with built-in lighting and an integrated filtration system. This way, the only decision that you will need to make is on which type of heater to choose.

Location - Choose Wisely - It is important to keep in mind that a 12-gallon aquarium weighs over 120 lbs. when filled. For this reason alone, it should not be placed on a desktop or office cabinet. An aquarium stand would be a good investment because they lower storage space will maximize space.

Theme - The theme should be consistent; match the plants with the species of fish. This will make it easier to keep your water specifications consistent for all inhabitants. It will most likely keep stress levels to a minimum, as well.

Keep it to a Minimum - Avoid overpopulating your aquarium to prevent difficulty with maintaining water quality. Keeping the fish population low will also allow enough time for the nitrogen cycle to becoming fully established. When you begin to build, do it at a gradual pace.

Natural Filtration - Stocking your aquarium with live accessories will naturally keep the health of the aquarium in check. For the best results, avoid artificial plants and structures; this will also keep external filtration to a minimum. You should instead consider live plants and eco- complete gravel for freshwater aquariums, and live rock or sand for a small scale reef or marine aquarium.

Lighten Up - Upgrade the wattage in your lighting hood to experience better results in plant and reef growth. They are often easy to find and install.

Test Daily - Aquariums with small volumes of water experience accelerated cycles in water quality making daily testing absolutely necessary. Some signs of health risks related to water quality include behavioral problems such as gasping, hiding, drifting, or darting. Basic test kits can help you zero in the exact problem.

Water Changes - The best way to ensure that toxin levels do not become excessive is to replace 10% of the water every week.

Change Filter Media - Changing filter media often will keep algae from overrunning your aquarium, and will keep your fish's health levels up and stress levels down. Neglecting this will cause chemical media to backfire and begin seeping excess toxins back into the aquarium.

Address Problems ASAP - In such a small environment, little problems become big problems quickly. One problem can potentially cause your whole system to come crashing down. As a preventative measure, conduct regular tests.

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