The most common mistakes when setting up an aquarium – how to avoid them?

Aquaristics/Recreational activities
Chandler Lee
The most common mistakes when setting up an aquarium – how to avoid them?
It takes approx. 5 minutes to read this article

An aquarium with rich, multi-colored plants as a delightful background for its interesting and colorful inhabitants can be very attractive. But it can also cause a lot of trouble and simply die before our eyes. What should be done to avoid this?

Elementary mistakes when setting up an aquarium

Hasty decision to buy an aquarium

Mistakes that we make already at the beginning are connected with the decision to set up an aquarium. Very often, a parent takes his/her child to a pet store to show the different animals. The child looks at the colorful fish with curiosity and decides: “I want an aquarium like that!” Thus, he puts pressure on the parents to fulfill this desire, and as a result, an aquarium appears in our home – without adequate preparation and knowledge of how to take care of it properly. No wonder that after a short time we are disappointed – after all, it was supposed to be so beautiful, in the meantime the fish get sick (and eventually die), the plants decay, the water becomes cloudy and the tank walls become overgrown with algae.

Overfeeding the fish

When we observe fish in our aquarium we get the impression that they are constantly hungry and need to be fed often – in addition, in large portions. So we feed them often and a lot, and the uneaten food remains in the tank. This is what feeds all the algae, which grows excessively, destroying plants and depriving the water of oxygen that the fish need to live.

Minimalism of costs

If we have already decided to buy an aquarium, we often try to do it as cheaply as possible – not caring about the quality of lighting, proper filtering, oxygenation and water heating. However, it should be kept in mind that an optimal light should stimulate the development of plants, a good filter should effectively remove any impurities and a heater should ensure proper temperature (when temperature is too low or fluctuates a lot, fish get sick – editor’s note).

So let’s save wherever it is possible, but let’s do it sensibly. Having a choice between more expensive and cheaper lighting or filtration with similar parameters and efficiency we can choose slightly cheaper solutions and save a bit on expenses. The light source must of course be suitable and have the right power, and the filter – proportionally large and efficient.

The right approach to aquarium keeping

The decision to set up an aquarium should be well thought through and responsible. What does this mean? It is mainly about learning the minimum required knowledge for setting up and keeping an aquarium correctly. It is advisable to have a conception of the size of the aquarium, to decide if there are to be plants in it and what kind (only green or maybe colorful) and to know their requirements concerning light and water hardness. All this will help us choose the best substrate for them (rich or poor in nutrients).

In case of choosing lighting it is important to choose the one that will stimulate the proper growth of plants. Therefore, beforehand we must consider what micro and macro elements they need and how to dose CO2.


Proper choice of the stock is also sometimes problematic, as it helps to avoid aggression between the fish. It is therefore worth having in an aquarium fish that prefer different areas and live in different zones (near the surface, in the middle and near the bottom) and take their food there. This will prevent the food from settling on the bottom.

How many times, in what amounts and what kind of food should I feed? In this case the universal rule works very well: it is better to give the fish less food than to overfeed.

There are still questions that remain – what filter to buy to effectively clean the water of impurities and what heater to choose to ensure proper temperature of the aquarium water. We should know the answers to these questions already at the moment of purchasing our dream aquarium. A salesperson in a pet store may also prove helpful in the selection process and advise on the best choice of filter and heater.

Making a fully responsible decision about setting up an aquarium we have to be aware that owning it will require considerable commitment and effort put into its systematic maintenance – frequent (at the beginning and later on once a week) water changes at the level of ca. 20% of tank capacity, purging of the substrate or cleaning of the filtration media.

If we take a thoughtful approach to the subject of buying and caring for our aquarium, there is a high probability that it will remain clean water, beautiful plants and healthy, full of energy fish for a long time.

Featured photo: pxhere.com

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