NYC Apartment Aquarium Guide

October 22nd, 2018

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Your apartment looks great. You’re all moved in, you’ve got your furniture arranged perfectly, and your cat is purring contentedly on the couch. You’re as pleased as punch with your Stonehenge NYC apartment, but you’re still hoping to take your home to the next level. Adding an aquarium is a fun and rewarding way to add a some life to your already awesome apartment. Once you get everything in place, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to maintain a tiny aquatic ecosystem in the big city. Not sure where to begin? We’re here to help! Choosing the Right Size: Space is at a premium in most NYC apartments, which means it’s best to keep things small. Once you master the maintenance of a smaller fish tank, then you can consider upgrading to something larger. We recommend choosing an aquarium in the 10 to 20 gallon range to begin. shutterstock_282361667 Finding the Right Spot: Your aquarium is going to be filled with life, so finding the right spot for it is critical. If your fish get too hot or too cold, they might die. That means you should avoid placing your fish tank too close to heaters or air conditioners. Obviously, your fish tank is meant to be looked at so be sure to find a spot that affords you, your visitors, and your cat a good view of the tank. Most fish don’t mind direct sunlight, but too much sunlight can cause algae to grow more quickly. Like most New Yorkers, fish don’t like a lot of sound, so keep them away from speaker systems and other sources of intense sound. shutterstock_235690555 Salt or Fresh?: Saltwater fish are unique and beautiful, and many aquarium lovers pride themselves on keeping them. That said, saltwater fish require a lot more maintenance and know-how. Since this guide is for beginners, we strongly recommend you go with freshwater fish. Essential Aquarium Gear: Your aquarium is more than just a box filled with water. There are several pieces of equipment that are critical to maintaining happy, healthy fish.
  • Aquarium Stand: Your aquarium can’t just sit on the floor. You could place it on a dresser or some other piece of furniture, but it’s best to use a designated aquarium stand. Remember, aquariums are heavy and not all furniture can hold the weight.
  • Fish Food: Your fish need to eat! Make sure they never go hungry.
  • Filter: Old food, fish waste and general gunk can quickly turn your tank into a nasty place to live. The filter circulates the water and helps keep the fish tank clean for longer. This will keep your fish healthy.
  • Top Cover/Lights: A lid for your fish tank will keep your fish from jumping out, and prevent other pets from getting too curious. Most of them come with built-in lights to illuminate your tank for better fish-viewing.
  • Gravel: Your fish want to feel like they’re living in the natural world. A bed of aquarium gravel will make them feel at home. It’s also a great way to keep your decorations in firmly in place.
  • Heater: A heater will keep your fish at a comfortable temperature if your apartment gets cold! (This may not be necessary if you’re not keeping tropical fish)
  • Decorations: Your fish tank is a work of art. Pet stores are filled with decorative plants and sculptures that can take your fish tank to the next level. Fish enjoy these decorations too because they provide places to explore and hide in. A shipwreck or rocky cave is fun to look at and pleasant for your fish to live in.
  • Fishnet: Sometimes you need to get pets and other assorted items into and out of your tank. A simple fishnet on a handle will make this super easy.
  • Chemicals: Believe it or not, your tap water isn’t all that healthy for fish. It contains minerals and other nasty stuff that your fish may not like. To make sure the water is perfect for your fish, use an aquarium start up pack.
It should be noted that you can usually buy a fish tank kit that will hold much of what you need. Such as this one from Petco. Setting Up Your Tank: Once you have your tank and all of your equipment, it’s time to set everything up. Most of this is pretty self explanatory. Follow the instructions that came with your lights and filter to safely set them up. Get creative with your plants, gravel and other decorations. Once your tank is filled with water, go ahead and add your chemicals to make the water more friendly to live in. shutterstock_1134263549 Microscopic bacteria in your fish tank will help keep your fish healthy. A great way to get bacteria going in your new tank is to ask your pet store for an old filter. Most pet stores are happy to give you one of their old filters. Keep a hunk of that in your fish tank for a few days before adding your fish to give the bacteria time to spread. You can remove it when it’s time to add your fish. Adding the Fish: Now that your fish tank is ready to go, it’s time to add your fish. Platies, guppies, mollies, and neon-tetras are all great starter fish. You might also wish to get an algae eater to help keep the tank clean. The folks at your pet store will catch them for you and put them in handy little plastic bags. Be sure to get them home as quickly and as gently as possible. shutterstock_64547419 Don’t just dump your fish directly into your tank when you get home. Being yanked out of their previous fish tank and trekked across the city is stressful for fish. Simply set their unopened bags in your aquarium to give them time to adjust to the tanks temperature. After about twenty minutes, you can open the bags and gently release them into the tank. It also helps to keep your apartment dark and the aquariums lights off at this point. Most fish feel less stressed in the dark. Feeding: Don’t forget to feed your fish. Most tanks do just fine with a pinch of food a day. Keep their feeding time consistent and avoid overfeeding them! When in doubt, follow the directions on your fish food container. Cleaning Your Tank: Cleaning your tank is an easy and effective way to keep your fish healthy and happy for years. Be sure to remove the lid and all electrical equipment before you begin. Use an aquarium scraper to clean the walls of your tank from algae and other gunk. You should also remove plants and other decorations and give them a good scrub and a rinse. shutterstock_714979750 An aquarium hose and siphon will allow you to quickly and easily remove water from your tank. This system can will act as a vacuum cleaner to remove junk from your tank. Each time you clean you should remove about 40% of the water and replace it with new water. Run the siphon through your gravel as you work to suck up and remove excess debris. A large bucket will make this process a cinch. Before filling your tank back up, give the new water time to sit. It should be at room temperature before you add it back in. Rapid temperature changes can kill fish. Gently replace the water and redecorate your fish tank. Keep an eye on your tank to determine how frequently it needs to be changed. Depending on bacteria and light levels, fish tanks may need to be cleaned weekly, monthly or anywhere in between. Enjoying Your Tank: Your fish tank will provide you with entertainment and atmosphere for years to come. When it comes to NYC pets, it doesn’t get much easier than an aquarium. Invite your friends over, throw a party, and show off your new tank!