If you don’t know much about our family- we enjoy crazy. A fun special needs kiddo, a silly toddler, 2 dogs, and 5 chickens- we couldn’t help but add to the fun this summer. We’ve all kept pretty close to our home because of Addie and how fragile her lungs are. Although we’ve done our fair share of playing in the backyard, making arts and crafts, and even trying new recipes, we felt as though the kids could use something they could enjoy daily and learn from. What better than setting up the ultimate freshwater aquarium?
I heard about Mars Fish Care and had the opportunity to attend a Live Virtual Event they were hosting so kids and their families could set up and easily take care of their very own freshwater aquarium. I told Mathew about it and he was all for it. Addie was about to have open heart surgery, and we thought a freshwater aquarium was the perfect thing to soothe her post-op and beyond.
I learned a ton on the Live Virtual Event from Mars Fish Care about setting my tank up with API Fish Care products. I may have been a little overly excited (you may have seen the results from that on Instagram haha), but I know you’ll be able to gain lots of good fish knowledge from what I did.
So how do you have the ultimate freshwater aquarium for kids? Well, it’s easier than you think!
1| Grab Your Fish Tank- We’ve had a small tank for a beta fish in the past, but wanted to get something larger so the kids could really enjoy it. I also didn’t want to be overwhelmed with the size and management of a huge tank, so we decided a 10 gallon tank was the perfect starter tank. The tank we got not only came with the tank, but also had a light, filter, and water heater. All of those things are essential to a tropical freshwater aquarium.
2| Get Some Decorations- Depending on the type of fish you get, you’ll need to get decorations. Some fish love lots of plants, and others don’t. We decided to get rocks for the bottom of our tank, some fun large plastic jewels, a large rock with holes for our fish to hide, and a couple of plants. It’s important to get a tank that can accomodate the amount of decorations you get as well as the size of your fish as they’re mature. We opted for the less is more, while having spots for our fish to get cozy when they need.
3| Get Your Water Ready- Water is the biggest deal for your new freshwater aquarium. I always wondered if we needed to buy special water for our fish, but learned through the Mars Fish Care Virtual Event that all I needed was tap water, and a few API products. Tap water naturally has chlorine, so I filled up my fish tank with tap water and added API Stress Coat. API Stress Coat is a water conditioner that makes tap water safe for fish by removing chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals. It has aloe vera as well, and reduces fish stress by up to 40%. We were told to use it when getting the water ready for our tank as well as when netting, adding fish from the store, and changing out water.
Another product we used to get our water ready was API Quick Start. API Quick Start nitrifying bacteria allows you to instantly add fish by starting the natural aquarium cycle with beneficial bacteria. We were told to use it when starting our aquarium, after water and filter changes, and when adding new fish to an existing aquarium.
Lastly, to get your water set up, you’ll need API Aquarium Salt. The API Aquarium Salt promotes fish health by improving gill function, as well as providing electrolytes so your fish are beautiful and have vitality. Every time you change the water out, you’ll want to replenish the salt. When you’re all done, don’t forget to turn your water heater on to 76-78 degrees so your fish are nice and happy.
4| Choose and Acclimate Your Fish- Find someone knowledgeable about fish wherever you choose to purchase them so you can discuss which fish are best for your tank. Some people like to choose Tetras, Corys, Gorami, Molly, Platy, or Guppies. Ask which fish are best in schools, and what size they will be when fully grown. The person helping may ask you what size tank you have, and that will help them with their advice. I made sure to grab API Tropical Flake Food and a fish net. You definitely won’t want to skip those!
Once your fish come home you’ll want to acclimate them. I didn’t do this and it was a big mistake. Take your bag with your fish and let it float in the tank for 15-20 minutes. This will help your fish acclimate to the temperature of the water. After your 15-20 minutes have passed, pour some of the water and the fish into an acclimation container. Add a few drops of API Stress Coat, then add a cup of tank water into the container. Let your fish acclimate for about 10 minutes and then add another cup of water. After 10 more minutes have gone by, net your fish, and put it into the aquarium. You will not pour the water from the acclimation container into the tank.
5| Cleaning Materials For Your Tank- It’s really important to maintain a clean tank for the health of your fish. I cleaned our tank for the very first time this week and found it absolutely painless and incredibly fast. Fish are really sensitive to their environment, so you will want to do 25% water changes every 2 weeks. I grabbed a 5 gallon bucket and fish tank gravel vacuum to make the job easy. Remove water from the bottom of your tank, making sure to get any bits of food or debris. On standby, I had another bucket with treated water ready to go to replace in my tank. I had a few other things ready on the side for my tank for cleaning: API Stress Zyme, API Accu Clear, and the API 5-in-1 Test Strips. You’ll want to use them as needed, based on the condition of your tank.
API Stress Zyme is a bacterial cleaner that has over 300 million live bacteria per teaspoonful. It helps keep gravel clean and reduces maintenance. We plan on adding it weekly to keep our tank clean, while it assures an active biological filter, a cleaner aquarium, healthier fish, and good water quality.
API Accu Clear is a water clarifier. If your aquarium has haze, you’ll want to use this. It clumps tiny particles together so your filter can remove them more easily. This one we plan on using as needed, and thankfully, we didn’t need it this time. I am glad we have it just in case!
API 5-in-1 Test Strips test pH, KH, GH, nitrates, and nitrites in your aquarium water. I have already used these several times (out of paranoia haha) to make sure my water is how it needs to be. It comes with a color card so you can compare the strip and safely care for your fish. It even comes with a paper that tells you how to correct any unsafe water conditions you may have. For being a complete amateur to having an ultimate freshwater aquarium, I found them super easy to use and interpret.
The Mars Fish Care Live Virtual Event was so incredibly helpful, and I couldn’t help but pass their tips (and a couple of mine) to you all.
If you’re homeschooling this year, this is an awesome way to learn about the life cycle, learn math through water changes and measuring, and more. If your kids are going back to school, having a freshwater aquarium is a wonderful way to give them something to learn responsibility, find relaxation in at the end of a long school day, and more. Whatever route you decide for your kids, you will absolutely have the ultimate freshwater aquarium for your kids to enjoy for a long time.