Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting a Freshwater Aquarium

Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting a Freshwater Aquarium

Enthusiasm can get the better of new fish tank owners. Before bringing a new tank home, learn the top five mistakes to avoid when starting a freshwater aquarium.

Choosing the Wrong Location in the Home

Selecting a special corner is great until you realize you can’t reach the necessary electrical outlets, and you don’t have enough space to move around the tank to clean it and refresh the water.

Another mistake is placing the tank in direct sunlight. This can promote algae growth, which steals oxygen from the tank. Instead, choose a spot with good sightlines and protection from the all-day glare of the direct sun, and you’ll be able to enjoy your thriving aquarium.

Buying a Tank That’s Too Small

Small tanks seem more convenient and easier to care for, but the opposite is true. Small tanks hold less water, and the less water in the tank, the quicker the water quality declines. In a small tank, levels of ammonia and nitrates in the water can get out of control easily.

A larger tank is more forgiving as beginners learn about proper levels of beneficial bacteria, the nitrogen cycle, and how to perform partial water changes that maintain the proper chemical and biological balance.

Adding Fish Too Soon

An aquarium needs the opportunity to complete a nitrogen cycle before adding most fish. Choose a few hardy, easy-to-care-for fish like guppies that can endure a new environment, even if it contains ammonia and nitrites.

The fish will perpetuate the nitrogen cycle: their waste produces ammonia, and then beneficial bacteria develop to change the ammonia into nitrites. Living plants consume the nitrites and turn them into nitrates, and then additional bacteria in the tank consume the nitrates.

Tap water contains chlorine, which is toxic to fish, so aquarium water must be de-chlorinated. Water conditioners and starter bacteria mix can help, along with living plants. Test kits that measure ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and pH, as well as testing for the presence of chlorine, will tell you when your tank has cycled and is ready for you to introduce more fish.


A cycled tank’s water quality will decline fast if too many fish are in the tank. Beginners should start with just a few fish of two or three compatible species and give them plenty of room to move. While adding new fish, you should also buy live fish online that have been appropriately quarantined to ensure they won’t introduce diseases into your aquarium.


Perhaps the most common of the top five mistakes to avoid when starting a freshwater aquarium is overfeeding. Unconsumed food will sink to the bottom of the tank, adding excess waste that can impair the nitrogen cycle.

Natural Environment Aquatix can help you select your tank, filter, aerator, plants, and fish to successfully launch your freshwater aquarium. Contact us today for more information!

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