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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Care Guides > Livebearers Setup Steps

Livebearers

Experience Level: Beginner

livebearers in aquarium

Livebearers

Did you know? Livebearing fish are very popular beginner’s fish. These fish are called Livebearers because instead of laying eggs, they give birth to live babies that immediately will swim around in the aquarium – usually finding somewhere to hide. Lots of decor and plants will help the babies survive.

Step 1Choosing an Aquarium

Aquarium
(A) Minimum aquarium size should be 10 gallons (38 L). A good rule of thumb is one gallon (4 L) of water for every 1" (2.5 cm) of full-grown fish.

Aquarium Stand
(B) An appropriate aquarium stand will safely support the weight of your filled aquarium. Aquariums weigh as much as 10 lbs. per gallon capacity and require strong stands.

• Locate your aquarium in a low-traffic area, away from direct sunlight and drafts.

Hood and Light Fixture
(C) Place an aquarium hood with light fixture on the aquarium to reduce water evaporation, splashing, and fish jumping out.

• The light should be on for 8-12 hours a day. Turn it on during the morning feeding, and off after the evening feeding, or use an automatic timer.

 

Step 2Filtration and Heating

Filtration (mechanical and biological)
(D) Undergravel filters or power filters provide aeration and filtration for the aquarium. Consult filter package for appropriate filter size.

• The filter should move the water in the aquarium through the filter media 3-5 times per hour (e.g., a filter for a 20-gallon aquarium should filter 60-100 gallons of water per hour).

• Add beneficial bacteria supplements to your aquarium to promote biological waste breakdown during initial setup or when adding new fish.

Water Heater and Thermometer
(E) Use an aquarium heater to maintain water temperature. The general rule for aquarium heaters is five watts of power for each gallon of aquarium water. For large aquariums, it is better to divide this into two heaters, one at each end of the tank rather than using one large heater.

• Tropical fish require water temperatures ranging between 74-82º F (23-28º C).

 

Step 3Substrate and Decor

Aquarium Gravel
(F) Use 1.5 lbs. (680 g) of aquarium gravel for every gallon (4 L) of tank capacity to make a 2-3" (5-8 cm) layer on the bottom of the aquarium. Rinse the gravel in a clean container before adding it to the aquarium.

Plants
(G) Decorate the aquarium with lots of live or artificial plants. Be sure to place plants on the sides and back of the aquarium so the fish will have enough space to swim in the center. Plants will help hide the Livebearer babies so they will survive in the aquarium.

Ornaments and Rocks
(H) Ceramic ornaments or air-powered decorations make interesting environments. Use ornaments or rocks designed for aquariums to provide hiding areas for the fish.

See the Informative Care Guide on Setting Up an Aquarium for more details.  

Adding Fish

Acclimation
• Whether starting a new aquarium or adding to an existing aquarium, only add 1-3 new fish at a time to avoid problems associated with water quality.

• Float the bag of new fish in aquarium 10 minutes to equalize temperature before adding fish.

• Add fish to the aquarium with a net, avoiding the addition of bag water to the aquarium.

WATER QUALITY TESTING
PetSmart offers free aquarium water testing. By bringing in a sample of your aquarium water, we can test the quality within minutes. See the guide on Setting Up an Aquarium for more information about water quality and water testing.

THINGS TO WATCH FOR
• Unusual swimming pattern

• Thinness, decreased appetite

• Abdominal swelling

• Inflamed or discolored skin or fins

• Fins clamped to sides of body

• Scraping body on rocks (flashing)

If you notice any of the signs described above, speak with a PetSmart store associate or a veterinarian about the health of your pet.

Livebearers in aquarium

Water Quality Testing
PetSmart offers free aquarium water testing. By bringing in a sample of your aquarium water, we can test the quality within minutes. See the guide on Setting Up an Aquarium for more information about aquarium water quality and water testing.

Things to Watch For
• Thinness or decreased appetite

• Swollen joints

• Excessive shedding of the skin

• Inflamed or discolored skin

• Abdominal swelling
If you notice any of the signs described above, speak with a PetSmart store associate or a veterinarian about the health of your pet.

PetSmart Cares
Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet AssuredTM program; a program designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets. The program includes:
• Specific standards our vendors agree to meet in caring for and observing pets for common illnesses.

• Specific standards for in-store pet care.

• The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.