April 19 2017
Choosing the right equipment, decorations and plants when setting up a new 55 gallon fish tank is vital to achieving good results and healthy fish. Your goal should be to closely match the conditions in your aquarium to the natural environment your fish came from. When setting up a freshwater or salt water aquarium your goal is always the same, to have a healthy thriving ecosystem that is a joy to look at and a healthy place for your fish to live in.
You will have better results starting with the right equipment. Many times you can get a bargain on used aquarium gear but in the long run the worn out equipment will perform poorly and may cost you more in lost fish and continuing problems. Problems often result when used aquarium equipment fails to perform as expected. Worn out air and water pumps often will quickly fail and used tanks are often infected with disease and have leakage problems. Be wise, start with a new aquarium and all new equipment.
There can be an unlimited number of styles when choosing an aquarium. For your 55 gallon first tank we recommend you stay with the proven simple rectangular design commonly sold in pet and aquarium shops world wide. An added benefit will be low cost as these are manufactured in large quantities and usually sold for very low prices.
Larger tanks are actually more easily maintained because of the larger water surface area and more room for fish plants and decorations. Also the best aquarium filter type you should choose has more area to process and clean contaminants such as ammonia and nitrogen. Water quality will remain better for a much longer period. This means you have less work to do cleaning and maintaining your tank.
The most common larger size will be the 55 gallon aquarium. Size usually follows as 48 inches long and 12 inches wide by 20 inches high. This size has proven over the years to give good results as not being too large but at the same time being substantial enough to be impressive. Your fish will enjoy the larger space and you can ad more features such as rock and plants for them to enjoy. Remember smaller fish will need these places to hide in at night and get away from larger fish.
At the time of purchase of your tank you should also include a cover and light. Many times you can get a good price on a package consisting of everything needed from tank right down to gravel rocks and plants. The cover is needed to prevent fish from jumping out and your cat from engaging in fishing expeditions. Yes your silly fish actually will jump right out and wind up as cat food flopping around on the floor.
The best covers for your tank will be made from 2 strips of glass with a silicone plastic strip joining them and acting as a hinge. You should avoid Plexiglas material as a tank cover as it will over time become foggy or cloudy. This will result in lower light levels in your tank and an unsightly appearance.
Lighting for your new tank will usually include a single florescent tube and plastic hood designed to fit well on the top of the tank.
You will also need a 55 gallon aquarium stand for your aquarium unless you happen to have a table handy that will support 500 pounds. A purpose built aquarium stand should be considered as they are built with the required strength to easily hold your tank.
A wood stand can be great but can also be very expensive for the better looking units. Iron or steel will be cheaper but not usually as nice looking unless you prefer the austere look of steel. Steel stands will also rust if continually exposed to water so keep this in mind and make sure to have a good coat of paint on your stand if steel is used.
There is more to consider with placement of your aquarium then just having it where you want it. It is not a good idea to place your tank where it will receive direct sunlight. This will most often result in excess algae growth. This can tend to quickly get out of control. Regulating tank temperature will be more difficult if the tank is exposed to direct sun light. This can cause many problems for your fish so be wise and avoid the temptation to place the tank in front of a window.
You can continue to gain the knowledge needed by reading some of our other aquarium and tropical fish articles.