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What to Consider Before Buying an Aquarium (Part II)

As previously mentioned, keeping an aquarium can be a great hobby with therapeutic advantages. It is a practice that be enjoyed by hobbyists of all ages and experience levels. Before committing to a purchase or the responsibility of caring for aquatic inhabitants, consider the following aspects of owning and maintaining an aquarium. Heaters and Thermometers - No matter what type of fish you decide to purchase, they will have fairly specific temperature requirements. The temperature must remain constant to avoid stressing the fish; too much stress may lead to illness. Most fish require a water temperature between 75 and 80° F. If you only keep one species of fish, you can set the temperature specifically to reflect their needs. If you keep multiple species, however, 76 to 77° F is a safe target temperature. Those who keep a reef or marine aquarium may be required to pay more attention to keep a consistent temperature. Test Kits and Chemical Additives - Water quality is essential for a healthy aquarium environment. You will find that it is necessary to purchase various chemicals and additives to help maintain the proper balance for good water quality. Depending on the type of fish, you may need special pH adjusters, buffers, salt, and trace element additives. Water conditioners are also necessary for removing chlorine and other chemicals from tap water. Food and Supplements - Diet is very important to ensure healthy fish. Contrary to popular belief, there is more available than the simple, flaked version. Flaked foods, while sufficient for sustaining life, lacks some essentially nutrients and can become boring; imagine eating nothing but white rice every day. A varied diet is best. Plan on rotating fish food periodically and on supplying supplements or vitamins boosters for added nutrition. Some aquarists prefer live food; live food has its own set of risks and benefits and is a big enough issue that it should be left alone by beginners. Freeze-dried foods and pellets make good alternatives, as do items like zooplankton and krill, which can be purchased. Health Care - All living things get sick; it's a part of life. If your fish becomes sick there are a number of treatments that can be executed in your own home. While most treatments depend on a specific illness, it's a good idea to plan ahead and get a smaller separate tank to be used for quarantine. By separating the sick fish, you can speed up the healing process and reduce the risk of spreading the illness to other fish. Fish ailments can be caused by a variety of sources; the most common causes of sickness are funguses, bacteria, or parasites. You will need treatments for each of the main types, and it is best to keep these on hand as a preemptive measure. Buying Healthy Fish - You should have your aquarium up and running for at least 3 to 4 weeks before purchasing fish to ensure that the nitrogen cycle is complete and all mechanical equipment is functioning properly. When selecting fish, be sure to avoid pressure from pet store staff if they are attempting to steer you toward something that seems, shall we say, "fishy." To ensure that you are getting a healthy fish, check that they are alert and active, have clear eyes and well-shaped fins, appear clean and colorful, are breathing steadily, and are not bloated. It is also important to make sure that the fish is brought home quickly. Before removing the fish from the bag, place the sealed bag into the aquarium to give the fish

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