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This is the Aquarium Section: Based within Pets & Animals section of OCAU.Wiki. There has been lots of talk about Aquariums, linked with worklogs and many questions across the board. This wiki is to educate those in the know, as well as presenting all of the information you would need to start a tank from scratch. I hope you find this article both informative and interesting and if you have any comments at all feel free to edit the page :)

About Aquariums

An Aquarium is basically a tank (generally made of glass or acrylic) which is filled with water to keep fish as pets. Tanks can be Freshwater (Non-Heated), Freshwater (Heated) or Marine (Heated). These tanks can house a range of fish from Goldfish to Cichlids, Tetras, Loaches, Pleco's and a wide range of other inhabitants. There is a wide variety of themes, styles and designs which can be implemented to bring your own touch of class to the tank.


The Following is a list of Acronyms that may be referred in this article and / or other webpages:

General Aquarium Acronyms

LFS - Local Fish Shop
FW - Freshwater
SW - Saltwater
DIY - Do it Yourself
HOB - Hang on Back Filter
QT - Quarantine
UGF - Undergravel Filter
HITH - Hole in the Head
LPH - Litres per hour
GPH - Gallons per hour
MH - Metal Halide
RO - Reverse Osmosis
PCF - Power Compact Fluroscent
DI - De-Ionized (Water)
PPM - Parts Per Million

Freshwater or Saltwater?

This comes down to personal preference for many, however for most of us who have limited budgets, a freshwater tank will always be easier to set up, maintain and stock. Saltwater tanks require a higher level and intensity of lighting with the bare minimum on some reef tanks equating to a med-high light setup for freshwater planted tanks. Saltwater also requires more equipment such as skimmers, reactors of various sorts and sump filtration usually considered mandatory. That being said, each carries its own benefits and rewards and at the end of the day it's your money you're spending, so go with what makes you happy.

Size & Volume

How big should I buy?

The general rule of thumb when asking what sized tank you should get is to get the biggest tank that you can afford that will fit in the place that you will be putting it.

The recommended space for each fish varies depending on the species, but one thing is certain: your fish are always happy with more room!

NOTE: Make sure the area you are putting the tank can actually support it! For instance, it would be very unwise to put anything larger than a 4x2x2 (approx 500kg with stand) in a house with wooden floorboards/bearer and joist construction.

Calculating Gallons

1 US Gallon = 3.79 Litres

To work out how many gallons your 100 litre tank is, you would divide 100 by 3.79, which is 26.4 gallons.

Google has a handy calculator built in to its search engine - go to and type in "100 litres in gallons" (without the quotes) and it will work it out for you. US Gallons are the hobby standard. UK Gallons are slightly larger than US, but aren't commonly referred to by most products.

Calculating Volume (In Litres)

One cubic metre of space is equal in volume to 1000 litres.

To work out the volume of your tank, first get the width, height and depth of your tank in centimetres.

Next, multiple the three measurements together to get the tanks volume in cubic centimetres. Divide that value by 1000 to work out the volume of your tank.

A standard 2ft tank is 61cmx30cmx30cm. To work out the volume of this, multiple those three values together and divide by 1000: (61*30*30)/1000 = 54.9 litres.

Again, Google can work this out for you - simply type in "61cm*30cm*30cm" (without the quotes) in to Google and it will tell you your tanks volume.

Calculating Weight

When purchasing a fish tank, the weight of the actual tank is often overlooked. One litre of water weighs one kilogram. That means that a tank measuring 4ft by 1.5ft by 1.5ft weighs over 250kg when full from just the water!

Unless you are buying a small tank, it is unlikely that you will be able to move it once it is full. For those who are buying a tank larger than 4ft*1.5ft*1.5ft, you may need to ensure that your floor can hold the weight of the tank.

Cabinets and Tank Location


Bought Cabinets can often be the easiest way to get into the hobby, and will be guaranteed to hold the tank size appropriate to their footprint. Look for features such as doors, quality of cabinetry, and other fittings.


Home Made Stands

Sometimes the only way to go is your way. Or you have a desire to build something unique. Perhaps your tank has a unique footprint and it is not possible to buy a stand for it. All of these situations lead back to the same solution: make your own.

DIY'ing a tank does not have to mean a dodgy looking thing that looks out of place in your home. It is possible to build a stand for less than it costs to buy one. However you have to consider things like tools needed, materials, fasteners and adhesives, surface coatings and related hardware, plus of course your own time.

The first place to start looking is forums. You want to find something similar to what you're trying to build ideally, and plans if you can manage it. When looking, it is also important to check that whoever posted their designs has actually tested them - see that they have had a tank on their design of stand for a decent period of time. At this stage you should have some idea of what you want and how you are going to achieve it. The next step is planning/design.

Google sketchup is a great tool for those who dont have access to CAD programs at home or work, and wish to better visualize their designs. From this you should at least be able to figure how and where everything fits together instead of bodging stuff up as you go along.

In regard to materials, there are certain things to keep in mind:

  • MDF absorbs water. DO NOT use MDF bare near an aquarium without sealing all surfaces that could possibly come into contact with water.
  • Structural pine and Ply are infinitely better than normal grades for aquarium stand construction. They have tolerances on uniformity, size, knotting and strength. If you use normal grades of wood, you run the risk of bent or warped pieces which may lead to catastrophic failure months or years down the track.
  • Marine grade is even better. If you can afford it, go for it.
  • If you're building a stand out of metal, make sure all welds are sound and the structure is sealed where water contact may occur. This includes the bottom of legs, ends of tubes and supports etc.
  • Try to use larger fasteners where possible. Over-engineering your stand is not a bad thing when the consequences of failure could mean thousands down the drain.

Placement and the Effects of Sunlight


A substrate plays a myriad of roles in an aquarium, even if it not planted. It's primary role is aesthetic, though it aids in filtration, can affect water chemistry and fish behavior, not to mention grow plants if you have them.

Aesthetically, it is up to you, but darker colours tend to make fish less skittish and more relaxed. They also help contrast against fish colours and hide detritus somewhat.

Grain size is another factor worth considering - whilst staying away from gravel with sharp edges - 1-2mm tends to be a good minimum from which to work as this allows even the smallest of root systems to work well in a tank.

Aquarists should try and incorporate a gentle slope toward the front of the tank if possible, as detritus will naturally make it's way to the front of the tank, allowing easier removal.

Commercial Substrates

Commercial substrates are generally a very good way to grow happy and healthy plants in the aquarium. The most nutritious substrate is generally considered to be ADA Aquasoil @ 3L - $28/9L - $63 however this is very expensive to use for a large planted tank. In aquarium circles Carib-sea Eco-complete is considered to be almost as good as this and can be found for $47 for 9KG. Seachem Flourite is also a very good substrate and comes in many colours and ranges from $53-70 for 7KG. Not often seen used is @ Red Sea Florabase 5.4KG = $70 however this is much the same as dupla ground (see below) as red sea bought (and sold) dupla a while ago.

Whilst not enriched to any great extent, Dupla Ground 3L - $18/20L - $80 is better than plain gravel in an aquarium. It is also highly decorative and good for bottom-dwelling inhabitants.

Any of these substrates are a great option for a planted tank and will happily support varied plant life without ever needing to be re-done every year or so which may occur in natural substrates.

Natural Substrates/Gravel

Natural substrates include anything sold (or gathered) which do not have any form of modification to the nutritional or bacterial value of the substrate. This includes plain bagged gravel you might find in most your LFS.

The use of natural substrates can be as effective if not more effective than the use of commercial substrates if used correctly and effectively. Some proven mixes:

  • 8 parts topsoil (obtain this from under somewhere growing green grass, 6in under the grass level)
  • 1 part shell grit
  • 2 parts peat
  • 1 handful blood and bone

An alternative would be:

  • 4 parts laterite
  • 2 parts topsoil (as above)
  • 1 part shell grit


  • 3 parts Zeolite
  • 3 parts Earthworm Castings (EC)
  • 3 parts Loam
  • 1 part Crushed Marble (CM)


The Nitrogen Cycle

A Basic Explanation of the Nitrogen Cycle

Organic matter such as un-eaten fish food, dead plants/fish and fish waste rot in the water and create ammonia. This ammonia is highly toxic to fish and will quickly cause their death. By using a biological filter, ammonia can be converted into nitrates which - while still toxic to fish - will be far less dangerous to fish than ammonia. As nitrates build up within an aquarium, water changes must be performed to reduce nitrate levels.

The Nitrogen Cycle in Detail

The nitrogen cycle describes the various transformations that nitrogen undergoes in nature. In the context of aquaria, we only deal with the section of the nitrogen cycle that spans from ammonification to denitrification. This article will concentrate on these parts of the nitrogen cycle as used in aquaria. Test kits are availble to measure the levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate discussed in this article.

Any dead organic matter within an aquarium such as plant/fish matter, un-eaten food and fish waste will break down with the help of bacteria from organic nitrogen into either un-ionized ammonia (NH3) or ionized ammonium (NH4). There is some evidence to suggest that the PH level of the water effects the type, a PH below 7 results in NH4 while a PH over 7 results in NH3. Ionized ammonium (NH4) is actually not harmful to fish, however un-ionized ammonia (NH3) is highly toxic. For the purposes of an aquarium, NH4 is not considered relevant as it can change into NH3 under common conditions. Therefore this article will only deal with ammonia (NH3) from now on.
A species of bacteria known as Nitrosomonas remove ammonia from the water by a process called oxidation. The by-product of this process is nitrites (NO2-). Like ammonia, nitrites are still highly toxic to fish. Another species of bacteria, Nitrobacter, then convert the nitrites into nitrates (NO3-). While not as dangerous as ammonia or nitrites, nitrates are still harmfull to fish in large quantities. Regular water changes are an effective means of preventing a build up of nitrates in an aquarium. Live aquarium plants will use a small amount of nitrates.
Both Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter are aerobic, they thrive in oxygenated environments. Some filters (such as the "wet/dry" design) provide an environment where water trickles over otherwise dry media, providing a moist surface with access to oxygen. This is an excellent way to breed both types of bacteria.
For most freshwater aquariums, the nitrogen cycle ends with nitrates being removed from the water through water changes. However, a further section of the nitrogen cycle exists that can be utilised by aquarists to further remove nitrates from water. Several species of bacteria, including Pseudomonas and Clostridium are able to convert nitrates (NO3-) into nitrogen gas (N2) which can then escape from the surface of the water.
These bacteria are anaerobic, they only live in oxygen depleted environments. In salt water tanks these environments can exist within live rock or sand beds. Low oxygen environments in fresh water setups are more rare, however products that can be used as biological filter media and also provide these environments (such as Seachem Matrix) have become availble in recent years. It should be noted that even with live plants and denitrifing bacteria, water changes are still required to keep nitrates at a safe level.

New Tank Syndrome

Many hobbyists new to aquaria can experience sudden losses of many or all fish in a tank. This is often caused by New Tank Syndrome, a spike in the levels of either ammonia or nitrites, these being by-products of their preceding bacteria's oxidization. For example, consider a tank with climbing levels of ammonia. This environment causes Nitrosomonas to breed, converting large amounts of ammonia into nitrites in the process. Ammonia levels drop as nitrite levels spike. The spike in nitrites encourages growth of Nitrobacter, lowering nitrite levels and causing nitrate levels to increase.

New Tank Syndrome is avoided by properly cycling a new aquarium.

Tank Cycling

New aquariums using new filters contain only very small amounts of the benifical bacteria required to deal with ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. To aviod New Tank Syndrome (see above), bacteria must be bred inside the tank's biological filter, a process known as "cycling the tank". To start this process, the tank is "fed" ammonia and the nitrogen cycle begins.

There are several methods used to cycle a tank, mainly differing in how ammonia is introduced to the tank.

Fish Cycling 
By placing hardy fish in the tank, ammonia can be produced by fish waste. The obvious drawback to this method is the danger to the fish in terms of high levels of either ammonia or nitrites. There are several types of fish that can survive in these tanks, however some people consider it cruel to knowingly keep a fish in toxic water. Some fish used for cycling may not be suitable for the tank in the long term, these are usually removed after a tank is cycled. The postive for fish cycling is a constant feed of ammonia into the tank.

For Saltwater Aquariums Pyjama Cardinals, Damsels and Blue Chromis have shown resilience to poor conditions. It must be noted Damsels are aggresive and may not be suitable for passive tank mates at the end of the process.

Fishless Cycling 
By dosing the water with ammonia or simply letting organic matter rot in the water, a tank can be cycled without introducing any living creatures until the tank is cycled. This method is more time consuming and labour intensive but does not risk the health of fish or force an aquarist to use a fish for cycling that they will later want to remove. Aquarists should take care in choosing which organic matter to let rot, as some matter (such as fish food) will not only provide ammonia, but also encourage the growth of algae.

Types of Filtration

There are 3 basic types of filtration needed to clean aquarium water. These are mechanical, biological and chemical. Most filters perform 1 or more of these three functions by use of different "filter media". Examples include bio-balls for biological filtration or sponges for both mechanical and biological.

Mechanical filtration removes large particles of matter such as dead leaves, un-eaten food and solid fish waste. This is usually achieved by using 1 or more types of sponge of varying thickness. Mechanical filtration is often the first type performed on water, as it helps improve the performance of other types of filter media.

Chemical filtration removes many chemicals that are harmful to aquarium fish, as well as removing tannins leached by driftwood. The most common form of chemical media is activated carbon, but products such as Seachem Purigen are becoming increasingly popular.

Biological filtration involves the conversion of ammonia into nitrites and then into nitrates using several different species of bacteria present in water. Ammonia is created by the rotting of un-eaten fish food, fish waste and dead plant/fish matter. Biological filter media is defined mainly by it's SA:V, or surface area to volume ratio. Bio-balls or ceramic noodles have been popular for many years, with semi-porous materials such as Seachem Matrix gaining popularity in recent years. For more infomation, see The Nitrogen Cycle.

Under Gravel Filters

An Under Gravel filter is designed to provide mechanical, biological (and chemical, depending on setup) however after a short period of time in operation they effectively provide only biological filtration. In theory, the UG filter is designed to draw water from a powerhead or pump through the gravel where it provides some mechanical filtration, and bacteria grow and break down the fish waste providing biological filtration. In some systems, a charcoal/carbon canister also provides chemical filtration. The water then returns to the tank and the cycle begins again.

Usually, after a few months of operation, the gravel begins to pack with so much silt and dirt that circulation stops and the bacteria suffocate. Since the filter still appears to be working, water quality deteriorates, usually unnoticed until it is too late. If the tank is medicated or overfed, an even more rapid die-off of the culture may occur. It is for these reason that this type of filtration is generally not utilised in modern aquariums anymore. They can be used successfully, but usually only by experienced aquarists and the fact that most other forms of filtration are cheaper and more effective has seen this type of filtration lose popularity.

Hang-on Power Filters

Internal Power Filters

External Canister Filters

Canister filters are probably the most common type in use for aquariums from 2' up to 4'. A canister filter consists of a cylinder containing several compartments. The canister is sealed shut with a pump and entry/exit pipes built into the lid. Water is usually pumped to the bottom of the filter and forced back upwards, passing through each compartment on it's way back to the top. Each compartment can be filled with a variety of filter media, a common setup would consist of one or more sponges on the bottom level for mechanical filtration, followed by biological and chemical filter media in the compartment/s above.

The canister filter is a popular choice as it is very versatile, quiet and easy to maintain. Various brands offer better value for money than others due to their reliability, some offering up to 6 year warranties.

Sump Setups

Sump setups are primarily used on very high volume tanks or heavily stocked tanks due to their ability to increase the overall water volume of a tank and ease of maintenance. General setups involve having a large container or specially designed fish tank underneath the main tank, with a siphon system setup to suck water from the top of the display tank, through a high volume of possibly varied mechanical and biological filtration in the tank/container, and then pumped back up into the tank via a spraybar.

In essence, it's a much larger version of a standard Canister filter and is often cheaper to setup (for larger tanks i.e. above 120 gallons) and more effective, but much more difficult for beginners.

Air Stones / Air Bars / Powerheads

Airstones, air stone bars, powerheads do not provide filtration. They provide water circulation for your tank which may help deliver oxygenated water into the deeper levels of your tank where oxygen can not freely dissolve into. Oxygen only freely dissolves into around the top 5cm of your tank water, so moving this oxygenated water into the deeper levels of your tank will ensure oxygen is made accessible to all creatures living in your tank.

Although they do not exclusively provide filtration, the use of air stones and powerheads can supplement filtration. The use of air stones and powerheads to move water through sponge filters and undergravel filters will provide water circulation to grow beneficial bacteria on your filter media.


Freshwater Lighting

When lighting a freshwater tank, after choosing your type of illumination there are a number of factors to consider:

1. Total light output: how bright. The unit for this is Lumens. If you grow plants they will require a certain amount of lumens to grow.

2. Efficiency: how much light can be produced for a given amount of electrical power (lumens per watt). Higher efficiency bulbs are going to cost you less to operate, and may offset the initial purchase cost after a few years.

3. Color rendering index (CRI) and Color Temperature: How close the light approximates the sun. This can be complicated to explain, but I'll try to keep it simple. The sun's light is produced in all colors (red to violet), the combination (spectral curve) of each appears to us as white. The CRI refers to how close the spectral curve of the light approximates that of the sun, with 100 being the closest.

There is also a rule of thumb when lighting a planted tank that states you should have a certain number of Watts Per Gallon (WPG).

If you add up all your lighting power in watts and divide this by the number of US gallons it will give you a figure which you can use to approximate if you have an appropriate level of lighting ie:

A fixture contains 4 x 54W T5HO tubes and 2 x 150W metal halide lamps and lights a 120 gallon tank.

If you were to use only the fluoros it would be 4x54=216W, 216/120=1.8 therefore 1.8WPG If you were to use only the metal halides it would be 2x150=300W, 300/120=2.5 therefore 2.5WPG If you used everything at once, it would be 516/120=4.3 therefore 4.3WPG (this would obviously be excessive)

An approximate guide is to use these limits:

  • 1.5 to 2 watts of fluorescent light per gallon of water for low light plants
  • 2 to 3 watts per gallon of water for moderate light plants
  • 3 watts per gallon of water for bright level plants

An important thing to keep in mind is that this is only a rule of thumb, and while it does work well, it tends to break down when dealing with very small and very large tanks which require more in-depth analysis to select the most appropriate lighting.

Marine Lighting

T8 Lighting

T5 Lighting


T5HO (HO for High Output) are the newest generation lighting for aquariums. They are far superior then the older T8 globes, they give out more light with less space and heat. T5HO lights are perfect for planted aquariums. It is easy to find bulbs that are designed for plant growth and contain a good Kelvin rating (between 5000-10000 Kelvins).


Compact Fluro

Metal Halide

Metal Halide lamps, commonly used for reef aquariums, are sometimes used in normal or planted tanks. Closely related to HID lamps used in cars and descended from industrial lighting, these bulbs produce a large amount of light for their size. Despite their wattage ratings, they are actually quite efficient, converting around 24% of energy into light, which is more than fluorescent (T8-T5) bulbs. Compared to fluorescent fittings, which are relatively simple, Metal halide lamps require an electrical ballast which regulates current flow to the bulb. Buyers should beware of equipment which comes with cheap ballasts which are sometimes costly to repair. Compared to fluorescent fittings, these types of lights are generally more expensive but are considered an essential for any serious aquarium setup.


Heating is a very important part of fish keeping. Although it is commonly thought that fish that live in water around room temperature can be left in tanks without heaters, temperature regularity is as important or even more important than the relative water temperature. Temperature fluctuations due to ambient air temperature around the tank will cause tank water fluctuations which will cause discomfort and stress to your fish and at extremes will cause illness. Heaters prevent temperature fluctuations by monitoring water temperature and heating as necessary. There are different types of heating available. In general you get what you pay for with heaters. Getting cheap heaters is okay for temporary situations but their reliability may be questionable in the long run. Non submersible heaters are not recommended as they are obviously sitting in water, if water gets into your heater it may cause a short circuit. Heaters are usually factory adjusted, though they may not necessarily be accurate for the adjusted temperature. Make sure you have a thermometer in the tank with your heater so make sure the set temperature is the temperature you want. If your tank is constant for the wrong temperature then make adjustments to the heater as appropriate to heat to the needed temperature.


CO2 Injection


Professional Setups






This is currently in FAQ form in order to quickly provide answers to questions from the OCAU forums.

  1. Why keep a Betta/Siamese Fighting fish?
    Betta's are beautiful, hardy, interesting fish. They can live for several years if looked after well. Under the right conditions, Bettas can really show an individual personality which makes them a great pet. Bettas also have several traits that make them suitable for certain tanks that other fish may struggle to survive in.
  2. Bettas? Are they the same as Siamese Fighting fish?
    Yes, "Betta" (beh-ta) comes from the scientific name of one out of over 70 different species of Betta, the Betta Splendens.
  3. Do Bettas need to be kept seperately?
    Adult males of the species need to be kept apart as they will fight each other. Females can be kept together but there ideally should be a minimum of 3 females as they still tend to fight a little to establish a "pecking order". The more fish, the less aggression shown to each individual.
  4. Can you just stick a bit of glass between 2 males to keep them apart?
    This can be done, but the male Bettas will still want to fight as long as they can see each other. In the short term, this is actually good excercise for them. However, over time they may become stressed. It is better to use a barrier that either fish cannot see through, and remove that barrier for 10-20 mins every day or so to allow the males to "flare" at each other.
  5. So, how big should a Betta tank be?
    This is the 6 million dollar question, and everyone has something to say about it! There are a few things to keep in mind here:
    • Bettas originate from Thailand, where they can be found in the wild living in shallow puddles. This does not mean that Bettas are supposed to live in small amounts of water! The puddles in question, while shallow, are usually very wide and still contain quite a lot of water. Bettas may survive better than other fish in small quantities of water, but they will not be happy or healthy.
    • Changes in water quality have far greater effect in small bodies of water, as there is less water to dilute whatever problems are introduced.
    • The smaller the tank, the more often you will need to clean it and change the water.
    • Don't take your cues from most local fish shops! They tend to keep Bettas in very small tanks/jars/vases etc that are by no means a long term solution.
  6. Thats a lot of advice and no numbers...
    OK here goes - these are the current figures that members seem to have agreed on:
    • For 1 male Betta, the minimum tank volume for a healthy, happy and long lived fish is at least 20 litres.
    • For a breeder with many Bettas, a minimum tank volume of 10 litres can suffice if other factors like water quality and space for the fish are optimal. This means filtered water and a good shaped tank (square) to allow the fish to move around. The main difference here is that the fish is still healthy and still swims around in a cheerful mood, but may not be as deliriously happy as it's brothers in the 20L tanks. It also may not grow as quickly as in the larger tank.
    • If you have a sick fish you need to quarantine or your tank suddenly springs a leak, cut the top off some 2L milk containers (washed of course) and keep your Bettas in there. In this case, the water should be 50% changed every day or so and you should be looking for an alternative solution ASAP.
  7. Should I fill the tank up to the top to provide more water?
    No! Bettas are extremely good jumpers and you should leave a gap of about 2 inches between the top of the water and the top of the tank walls. Covering the tanks is not recommended as Bettas need good clean oxygenated air to breathe from the water's surface. They can also injure themselves by jumping into the covers.
  8. What about those vases with a Betta in it? They say you don't need to feed them because they eat the roots and you don't need to clean them because the plant sucks up all the bad stuff as nutrients.
    Absolute rubbish - don't buy them. 'Nuff said.
  9. OK, so most people are going to want a 20 litre tank...what else should I know about the environment?
    • Temperature: 25-28 degrees C (77-82 F).
    • Ph: Honestly they don't care much & there's not much info out there on it.
    • Filtration: Low flow, minimum water movement. Still need mechanical, chemical and biological filtration or regular water changes.
    • Oxygen: No airstones required
  10. What do you mean "No airstones required"?
    Bettas have an organ on top of their heads called a "labyrinth" that allows them to breath air from the surface of the water. As such, the oxygen level of the water is less important than for fish that only breath through gills. Bettas do still require oxygen in the water, but this is easily achieved as part of water changes or normal filtration.
  11. How strong should the filter be?
    Male Bettas in particular do not like a lot of water movement as it tends to drag them around by their long flowing fins. Any kind of filtration is going to create some water flow, which is fine considering the benefits of having filtered water. As a general rule of thumb, use a filter that changes the entire contents of the tank once per hour (a normal tank usually requires about 4x per hour). Use high quality filter media to ensure adequate filtering at low water flow.
  12. I see lot's of people keeping Bettas in small unfiltered that OK?
    It's fine as long as the tank is big enough and the water is changed often enough. Because Bettas don't need an airstone, it's feasable to keep them in a suitable sized tank and a warm room with no periphials like heaters or filters. Without filtration, the waste products from decomposing food and fish poo with soon make the water dirty and dangerous for the fish. Water changes are another subject of great debate, the best option is to invest in a kit that tests for ammonia/nitrites/nitrates and use it in conjuction with water changes to see what works best for you. As a rule of thumb, do a 50% change every few days. Try filling a bucket with water and leaving it to stand for a day before using it in the tank, this will help lower the chlorine content. A nice aquatic plant in the water will help a tiny bit with water quality as well.
  13. Can I keep my Betta with other fish?
    Firstly, if you intend to keep any other fish with your Betta, you will need to ensure the tank is the appropriate size and has adequate filtering and oxygenation of the water (an airstone should suffice). Male Bettas in particular tend to mistake any brightly coloured or long finned fish for another Betta which may lead to fighting. Corydoras are a popular choice as are Bristle-nose catfish as both can help a little bit with keeping the tank clean and tend to get on OK with male Bettas. Small fast fish like Tetras are generally safe as well. Many people do keep Mollies, Guppies & others with female Bettas. This can be safe but it's always best to observe how the fish interact when you first introduce new fish to the tank. There may be some push and shove to establish dominance, but overall they should calm down and get along. Try to keep more of a particular species eg; 6 Mollies rather than 3 Mollies and 3 Guppies.
  14. Can you breed Bettas?
    Yes. It takes a small investment in some basic equipment and your chances of sucess increase if you already keep Bettas and understand how to keep them healthy and happy. Be prepared to invest quite a lot of time into raising the spawn as well.
  15. What should I feed my Betta?
    Dry pellets are a good staple, use a quality brand such as Hikari Betta Bio-Gold. Bloodworms make a good supplement (frozen is fine) and can be fed twice a week. Thawed frozen peas (without shells) will help clean out the Bettas digestive tract and should be cut into bite sized chunks and fed once a week. Try to feed your Bettas small amounts over multiple feedings as opposed to a large amount once a day. Un-eaten food will contribute to ammonia/nitrate levels and increase the need for water changes. Bettas will also love a live mosquito or other small insect, just swat a mossie and throw it in the tank, your Betta will enjoy the fresh snack.




American Cichlids are split into two primary 'groups', Central (CA) and South (SA) American depending on where they originate. They are generally tough, easily cared for fish, with species varying largely in size, colours, and aggression. Most Cichlids grow to upwards of 5" and are generally mid to bottom level swimmers, with most species setting up flexible territories. With this in mind, it is important that the primary characteristics of Cichlid housing tanks is the length and width (footprint) of the aquarium, not the height, though higher tanks can still be effectively employed to boost tank volume for filtration and spread of nitrates.

Popular smaller species of Cichlid that can be found in Australia do exist, with Rams and Apisto's being popular choices for community tanks as they hold the personal characteristics of most larger Cichlids at a smaller size. With a few exceptions, most larger Cichlids cannot be kept with smaller schooling fish such as standard Tetras due to their predatory nature and large mouths, as well as their aggression. Possible dithers (or target fish, fish used to spread aggression) for medium sized American Cichlids such as Firemouth, Blue Acara and Green Terror include the larger high body profile Tetra's such as Columbian Blue Flame Tetra, Bueno Airies Tetra and Congo Tetra, as well as most Asian Barb Species. Larger native Rainbows are also compatible. Bristlenose and other Pleco generally go unnoticed in the tank unless they wander into the territory of a breeding pair guarding eggs, so they also make effective tank cleaning mates.

Cichlids vary heavily from shop to shop and heavy research of a preferred Cichlid(s) is recommended before heading out to purchase one for your tank. Many things need to be considered, mostly based around what's currently housed in your aquarium and the aggression of the current or new species.





Agg is detailing his experiences with keeping Discus here: Agg's Discus Guide

Feeder Fish




The guppy (Poecilia reticulata), also known as the millionfish, is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish species in the world. It is a small member of the Poecilidae family (females 4-6 centimeters long, males 2½–3½ centimeters long) and like all other members of the family, is live-bearing.

Wikipedia entry on Guppys






Astronotus ocellatus

A very common New World Cichlid originating from the Rio Ucayali drainage and upper Amazon river of Peru and Brazil. Commonly found at almost every LFS in Australia, the Oscar is a large growing very personal fish (or 'Wet Pet' as a popular term) which is available in numerous colour types, ranging from Red, Tiger, Albino, and the rare Lemon. Various morphs of these colours are present throughout the species with alternatives such as 'Red Tiger' and mixed Red/Albino Oscars not being uncommon.

Through my personal experience, Oscars are able to recognize their owners (or feeders) and are a very caring fish, but their fish to fish temperament can range from docile 'gentle giants' to glassbanging lunatics. Not suitable for community due to both their size and ability (and want) to eat anything that will fit into their large mouths. Possible tank mates include Plecostamus and medium to large sized American Cichlids provided you have the tank room. Fast schooling fish may elude Oscars for a period of time but will end up food eventually. Although appearing sluggish and lazy, Oscars have powerful burst speed and are adept at ambushing possible prey, especially at night when the other fish settle down. Success has been had with higher profile schooling fish such as Tiger Barbs, or generally large schooling fish such as Red Line Torpedo Barbs, Giant Danios and the larger native Rainbow species. Medium sized Cichlids such as Convict and Firemouth can be successfully kept with Oscars without hassle, though it can always vary depending on fish to fish temperament.

Oscars are incredibly tough Cichlids and their reputation for eating just about anything could be regarded as unfortunate, as from my personal experience, many of the people who buy Oscars don't have the tank to care for them properly. Due to their incredibly messy nature and eventual size, Oscars require at bare minimum a 55Gallon (210L) tank with a 48x18" (4 foot) footprint preferable. Pairs require upwards of a 75Gal. Remember, minimum tank size equals maximum maintenance.

If you have a large enough tank to accomodate a single or pair of Oscars and are chasing a 'Wet Pet', as already mentioned, these fish are very personal and I highly recommend them. They require regular water changes but if you're keeping a 4'+ aquarium you should already know that a certain level of maintenance is involved to keep it running.






Sword Tails




An invertebrate is an animal lacking a vertebral column. The group includes 97% of all animal species — all animals except those in the Chordate subphylum Vertebrata (fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals).

Carolus Linnaeus' Systema Naturae divided these animals into only two groups, the Insecta and the now-obsolete vermes (worms). Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who was appointed to the position of "Curator of Insecta and Vermes" at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in 1793, both coined the term "invertebrate" to describe such and divided the original two groups into ten, by splitting off Arachnida and Crustacea from the Linnean Insecta, and Mollusca, Annelida, Cirripedia, Radiata, Coelenterata and Infusoria from the Linnean Vermes. They are now classified into over 30 phyla, from simple organisms such as sea sponges and flatworms to complex animals such as arthropods and molluscs.

Invertebrates form a paraphyletic group. (For a full list of animals considered to be invertebrates, see animal.) All the listed phyla are invertebrates along with two of the three subphyla in Phylum Chordata: Urochordata and Cephalochordata. These two, plus all the other known invertebrates, have only one cluster of Hox genes, while the vertebrates have duplicated their original cluster more than once.

Within paleozoology and paleobiology, invertebrates big and small are often studied within the fossil discipline called invertebrate paleontology.









Aquariums@Asquith - 9987 0913 - Cichlids, marine, tropicals, plants, bettas.


Pet City
224 Wishart Road
Mt Gravatt QLD 4122
Phone: 1800 245 700 / or (07) 3349 2086
Fax: (07) 3849 4631

Solid collection of semi-rare and common American Cichlids, Plecos, large range of African Cichlids. Extensive marine salt water selection with show tanks and live marine rock available. Everything for Freshwater, pond, marine and tropical available.

Guppy's Aquarium Supplies Online
AVK Imports Australia
11 Flagstone Drive
Andrews QLD 4220
Phone: (07) 5520 1911
Fax: (07) 5520 1922

A very cheap supplier of aquarium hardware, undercutting most stores by a large margin. Do not stock any fish or plants however, and if picking up good advisable to ring ahead and check availability.

Aquarium Warehouse
30 Compton Road
Underwood Qld 4119
Phone: (07) 3208 5537
Fax: (07) 3208 5538

Walk in supplier of aquarium hardware, live fish (tropical and marine) and tanks. Also has 3 locations within Queensland.


Hi-fin Aquarium
257 Blackburn Road
Mt Waverley VIC 3149
Phone: (03) 9803 3109

Stocks a great range of freshwater, tropical and marine fish including tanks and general supplies.

Amazing Amazon
365 Springvale Rd
Glen Waverley VIC 3150
Phone: (03) 9545 0000

Stocks a good range of freshwater and tropical fish with some marine fish. Also stocks reptiles including turtles. Has plenty of tanks and miscellaneous aquarium supplies.

Coburg Aquarium
232-236 Bell St
Coburg VIC 3058
Phone: (03) 9354 5843

Stocks huge range of tanks and accessories, great range of healthy tropical and cold freshwater fish.

UpMarket Pets
442 Queen Street

Owned by the same person of Coburg Aquarium, smaller shop - recently upgraded. Good to grab bits and pieces if you work in the city.

Boronia Aquarium
262 Dorset Rd
Boronia VIC 3155
Phone: (03) 9762 2044

Medium Range of tanks and accessories. Good range of tropical and cold freshwater fish. Also stocks good range of plants.

Rayonne Aquarium
712 Plenty Rd
Reservoir VIC 3073

Usually has a good range of cichlids.

Subscape Aquariums
310-312 Victoria St, Richmond, 3121
Phone: 9427 0050

Very nice setup, several amazing aquascaped tanks No Marine, but plenty of freshwater, and a few rare species Helpful, knowledgable staff

Bunarong Aquarium
Shop 2/3 Overport Road, Frankston.
Phone: 03 9783 6083

Well stocked shop, lots of tanks, good range of healthy fish - freshwater and marine, also has quite a few snakes/reptiles. Helpful staff, although a few young assistants who arn't as knowledgable. Nice large display tanks.

Evalife Aquarium
3 Olsen St, Frankston.
Phone: 03 9783 2204

Good shop - been around for 10-15 years. Helpful friendly owners. Lots of cichlids

Mentone Aquarium
137 Nepean Hwy, Mentone
Phone: (03) 9583 5233

Good selection of tanks, lots of fish, some reptiles


Quality Aquariums
213 Tapleys Hill Road Seaton
Adelaide, Australia, 5023
Ph: (08) 8345 5404

Renovated Q4 2009 this store has a great range and the owner is very helpful.

Seaview Aquarium Centre
237 Anzac Highway
Plympton SA 5038
Phone: (08) 8371 0380

Big store with very helpful staff. Worth popping in to just check out their beautiful display tanks!

Aggies Aquariums
Unit 4-6 10 Research Rd
Pooraka South Australia, 5095
Ph: (08) 83597099




54 Colbee Crt
Phillip ACT 2606
Phone: (02) 62823403
Fax: (02) 62823817

Walk in and online shop with live fish, plants, hardware, medicinal, and feed for fish. My experience with them has been flexibility with ordering, consulting, and acceptance of ordering non-shop stocked items.


New Town Aquarium
Shp 2/ 184 New Town Rd
New Town TAS 7008
(03) 6278 2152

Walk in shop with live fish and aquarium supplies. Fantastic range of live rock, exotic fish, live plants and tank accessories aimed at the serious aquarist.



54 Colbee Crt
Phillip ACT 2606
Phone: (02) 62823403
Fax: (02) 62823817





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