Guide: Setting up a tropical community tank

Tank Size:

Make sure to choose an adequate tank size for the fish you wish to keep. Many species of tropical fish are small to medium size, so anything from a small tank to a large tank can work to keep tropical fish. The tank size will primarily depend on how many fish you wish to keep as well as if you plan to keep live plants in your tank. Most commonly kept tropical tank size are between: 38L – 200L size.



Substrate color is based on personal preference and any any color is fine for a tropical fish tank. Substrate size can vary and any size from freshwater sand to large stones can be used. The most common size of substrate is the “pea sized” 2-3 mm sized gravel. This is a good size since it is easy to clean.



Tropical Fish Aquarium décor is also your personal preference and most décor is fine with tropical fish. Live plants make great décor options because they provide oxygen while using some of the organic waste produced by your fish as nutrients. Other natural décor options include decorative wood, and rocks. If you pick rocks for the aquarium, be sure to use stones that are inert and will not buffer pH.



For a Tropical Fish Aquarium, any style filter will work great, however you will want to make sure that you have good water turnover to provide water movement and flow to the aquarium. In addition you will want to have enough space for biological media such as Seachem Matrix because this will help to provide housing to the beneficial bacteria that is necessary to keep the tank clean and free of organic waste in the form of ammonia, nitrite or nitrate. Also, we recommend the use of good chemical filtration and Purigen is a fantastic option to clean and polish the water.



Cycling is the process of building enough “good” bacteria to handle removing all the organic waste from the system when you have a fully stocked aquarium. To cycle it is best to use a very sturdy bacterial additive, like Seachem Stability to provide the right types of bacteria to handle the fully stocked system. In addition to adding bacteria, you will also need to add a food source to produce ammonia for these bacteria to encourage growth and colonization. You can do this by adding fish, pure ammonia or even fish food to the tank to feed the bacteria. Ammonia will typically need to peak between 1-2 ppm to facilitate the cycle. Pro tip: Prime detoxifies ammonia so it is not harmful to fish, but leaves it in a form that the bacteria can use as food. You can use Prime every 48 hours to keep your ammonia and nitrite bound in a nontoxic form until your tank is fully cycled.

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