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Answering Your Aquatic Questions

February 2, 2011 -

Just because you missed the Aquatics Twitter party on January 28, 2011 doesn't mean you can't join the fun. Here's a rundown of what you missed:


Q. What size aquarium do I need? 
A:  Different species have different care, conditions, space & equipment. Know what fish you want & how many before deciding on size.

Q. What general steps are necessary for putting together my aquarium?
A: Rinse the tank & everything going in the aquarium. Add gravel & decorations, set up filtration/heater & lastly add the water & fish.

Q. What should I put on the bottom of my fish tank?
A: Gravel, sand & marbles are good options for tanks without plants. If you have plants you’ll need a clay soil base layer to support roots.

Q. Should I clean out the aquarium before using it?
A: Yes. Use water to clean out the tank & décor before setting it up. Don’t use soap!

Q. How much gravel should I put in my fish tank?
A: It’s recommended you put 1 to 1.5 pounds (2-3 inches) of gravel in your tank for every gallon of water.

Q Where should I put my aquarium in my house?
A: Situate the aquarium in a place where external factors such as sunlight & HVAC or heaters won’t interfere with the tank’s temperature.

Q. Can I add my fish to the aquarium right after I set it up?
A: It’s best to wait 24 hours before adding fish to a new tank so the aquarium’s temperature can get balanced.

Q. How do I add my fish to the aquarium? All at once?
A: Best to add 1 or 2 fish each week (depends on tank size). Monitor water chemistry during acclimation (15 min) before adding new ones

Q. How much water should I put in my fish tank?
A: PetSmart believes you should have 1 gallon of water per 1 in. of tropical fish & 2 gallons of water per 1 in. of coldwater fish.


Q. Why is the PH balance of my fish tank so important?
A: If pH spikes it increases the toxicity of chemicals such as ammonia, which can be harmful to fish.

Q. Is there a normal pH?
A: 7.0 is neutral. It’s generally accepted to say normal ranges +/- 1 degree from there (e.g. 6.0-8.0 would be considered normal).

Q. How often should I check pH?
A: It's best to check pH once a week at the same time of day each time.


Q. Why do I need to change the water in my fish tank?
A: Changing the water removes ammonia & other waste from the tank & allows the water to remain oxygenated.

Q. How often should I clean my aquarium?
A: Perform a 10% water change weekly & a 25% water change monthly.

Q. Are small fish tanks & bowls easier to maintain?
A: Larger fish tanks are easier because the larger volume of water doesn’t allow for drastic changes in water chemistry & temperature.


Q. What’s that green stuff growing on the rocks and glass in my aquarium?
A: It’s called algae. It feeds off excess nutrients in the water & requires light. There are algae-eating fish to help keep it at bay.

Q. How do I remove algae from my fish tank?
A: A PetSmart associate can provide you with tips & products for removing & preventing excessive algae growth.

Q. Do I have to put plants in my fish tank?
A: You don’t have to, but live plants help keep fish healthy by reducing CO2 levels & providing shelter for them to spawn & hide.

Q. What are the most popular plants people put in their aquariums?
A: Amazon Sword, Anubias Anugustifolia, Moneywort, Wisteria & Java Moss. All of them look different & have varying growth requirements.

Q. Can I use fake plants in my fish tank?
A: Yes. Research what plants would naturally grow in the habitat you’re trying to create.


Q. How do I know what filter to get for my tank?
A: This depends on the size & capacity of your fish tank. A PetSmart associate can help you identify the perfect filterfor your tank.

Q. What are the different kinds of filters?
A: There are lots of filters: undergravel, canister, sponge, trickle & hanging. A PetSmart associate can help you find the right one.


Q. Do I need a light in my aquarium?
A: Yes, both fish-only & fish-and-plant tanks need light. However, the fish-and-plant tanks require a different spectrum of light.

Q. What temperature should the water in my fish tank be?
A: The tank temperature for tropical fish is 74-82 degrees F & for coldwater species is 68-72 degrees F. Be consistent!

Q. How do I pick the right heater for my fish tank?
A: There are two kinds of heaters: "hang-on" & submersible. Submersibles are easily hidden when decorating the tank.

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