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How to Build a Tropical Aquarium

By Charles Hopkins Published 08/8/2006 | Fishing and Boating

For all intents and purposes, building your own tropical aquarium is not so different than building any other type of aquarium. While it will take a little more dedication and a little extra cash to make sure that everything is up and running smoothly, a tropical aquarium is simply a regular aquarium with salt water and tropical fish and plants. Finding the tropical fish, however, can be a challenging aspect of setting your tank up for the first time, as tropical fish are generally harder to find and may require that you order them online or visit your local fish specialty store. Unfortunately, due to relatively low demand for such tropical fish, many major pet retailers do not generally offer expensive fish at their stores, making it even more difficult to find the perfect fish for your table top tank.

When it comes to building your tropical aquarium, the first thing you will definitely want to do is to buy yourself a stand or a cabinet for your tank. Tropical aquariums are widely regarded as some of the most attractive fish tanks around thanks to the wide variety of plants and animals which can live in them, making them a great showpiece for your home. Make absolutely sure that your stand or cabinet is able to withstand the pressure of a several hundred pound fish tank before you add any plants or fish to the tank. You can test this by simply placing your tank atop the cabinet and then filling it to the brim with water.

After ensuring the cabinet is secure, begin filling your tropical aquarium with sand, clay or granite rocks. If you are adding plants, make this floor layer a bit thicker so the plants have places for their roots to grow and take hold. Next, you will want to thread the tubing for air down underneath the rock.  You can then attach a statue or an air rock to the tube to allow for circulation of air through the water. This is not so necessary if you have a wet/dry filter that will allow for gas exchange during the filtration process.  Once everything on the floor of the aquarium is in place, you can begin adding the water to the tank. Many experts recommend that you should first place some sort of jug or bowl on the bottom of the fish tank before you add in the water so you can pour your water right into the bowl and not accidentally mess with the rocks and gravel on the tanks floor.

Once the tank has been filled most of the way with water, you can add in your electrical filters, gas exchangers and pumps. Once everything is in place, continue adding water until the electrics are within a safe operating zone. Be sure to test everything before you add in your plants and fish, as you would not want to risk killing your animals as result of an improperly functioning machine. You should also wait for at least a couple of weeks before you add any fish, as this will allow all of the important biological systems in the tank to stabilize and create a much healthier environment for your animals.