It is important to do your homework if you are assisting a child or teenager with starting an aquarium, so they aren't set up for failure. Here's a guide on making good choices.
Prior to shopping, make a checklist of things you need so you won't miss anything or purchase unnecessary items. Talk to shop owners and get their advice on what they use, you can get some handy hints and tips.
For beginners a 100l tank or larger is ideal. If space or finances make that impossible, don't go too small although if you must, take care to select small, hardy fish.
Children are often attracted to brightly coloured gravel and decorations. However, this kind of decor is not a natural setting for fish and can be stressful for them. Rather than take the choice away from your child, discuss what the fish's home in nature is like. Look at photos online of various reefs. Point out that where fish live in their natural habitat, they don't have bright orange gravel or plants.
Now comes the real challenge, new aquarium owners, both young and old alike, want to get lots of fish in the tank as quickly as possible. Fish should never be purchased on the same day as the tank. Adding too many fish too soon and overfeeding them are the biggest mistakes new owners make.
It's critical to set up the tank, let it run for 4 – 6 weeks on average to stabilise the water parameters and ensure everything is functioning properly before fish are added. During this time, you allow the tank to stabilise, sharing some basic facts about the aquarium water will help eager children anticipate their new fish.
Educate and Plan
Let children know that fish go to the bathroom in the water they live in and waste can harm the fish. Explain that special bacteria get rid of waste, but the bacteria take several weeks to grow enough to do the job. While they are growing, it is important to only have a few fish in the tank and change the water often to get rid of the waste.
Older children can understand the nitrogen cycle as it occurs in an aquarium; take this opportunity to teach them about it. Too many aquarium owners are unaware of this critical process, and as a result, they lose fish.
Once your tank is ready for fish, talk about fish choices with your children. Avoid large or aggressive fish or those that are difficult to care for. Select a couple of hardy starter fish, like Chromis, Damselfish, Clownfish or Banggai Cardinal fish before going to the store.