Thursday, 24 September 2020

Setting Up Our New Home Aquarium

*This post is sponsored by on behalf of Mars Fishcare and the API brand.

For quite a while now, my eldest son has been asking for some pet fish

As someone who has never kept a home aquarium before, I was a bit reluctant for a few reasons - firstly because I thought it was likely to be very expensive, and secondly because I had no knowledge of how to set up a home aquarium properly or care for fish. I got as far as a quick google search on the subject before deciding that it all sounded much too complicated for my liking!

Much to my sons absolute delight, we were then given the chance to try out a home aquarium courtesy of Mars Fishcare and API - and luckily for me, as part of this review I was invited to take part in a Zoom call with Gary Jones (Manager of Industry relations and self-proclaimed "Fish nerd" at Mars Fishcare!) all about how to get a home aquarium set up.

During this virtual event, Gary discussed the benefits of keeping fish for children - he talked about how the hobby can not only reduce stress and improve mental health but can also aid children in developing their understanding of science and maths. As a home educating parent, this immediately sparked my interest - anything that aids my children in these areas is a big selling point to me.

Following the informative virtual event, I went from feeling utterly clueless to feeling that I knew exactly what to do in order to get our home aquarium up, running and ready for some pet fish!

We were sent a package containing everything we needed to start our home aquarium, including a 50 Litre tank with lighting, thermometer and automatic heater included.

We set up and washed our gravel and decorative additions (we bought some plants and ornaments to keep the fish entertained), before adding them to the tank and filling it up with tap water.

We then used a really clever product called API Stress Coat which is a water conditioner that makes tap water safe for aquarium use by removing chlorine and heavy metals from the water. It also contains Aloe vera which helps to heal damaged tissue in fish and reduces their stress levels by 40% - API recommend the product is added whenever new fish are introduced to the tank or when performing water changes. 

After this, we added API Quick Start - another very clever product which immediately starts the natural aquarium cycle off with bacteria - it converts toxic ammonia into harmless nitrate to avoid damage to your fish. API Quick Start allows for fish to be added to your tank instantly, which I thought was so clever as I'd heard we'd need to wait for weeks before adding any.

Finally we added API Aquarium Salt which is made from evaporated sea salt and allows fish to breathe more easily in your tank and provides essential electrolytes to help your keep your pet fish at maximum vitality.

We left the tank to do its thing for a couple of days, before using the API 5-in-1 test strips to check the pH levels, KH, GH, nitrate and nitrite of the water. The strips were so easy to use and read, and the results showed that we were good to go - time for a trip to the pet store!

After much deliberation and debate, we eventually decided that we wanted to go for a red tail shark and some cardinal tetras for our tank.

As red tail sharks can be territorial, it was recommended that we get the tetras first and give them a few days to settle in before adding in our red tail shark - so we came home with 6 very beautiful tetras.

We used the API Stress Coat and API Quick Start once again when adding the fish, and the process of introducing them to the tank went very smoothly.

We did notice that after a couple of days, the water was looking quite cloudy - this can be normal after adding new fish to a tank as the cycle adjusts and the filter does its thing, but we decided to use API Accu Clear water clarifier to clear things up - this works by clumping tiny particles together into bigger ones which are much easier for the filter to pick up, it worked a treat and within an hour the water was bright and clear once again with our 6 little tetras swimming around happily.

It's now been a week since we brought them home, and we've all really enjoyed getting started with our aquarium - it's been a lovely family bonding activity as we all work together to learn how to care for the fish. The children love taking it in turns to feed them (We're using Aquarian tropical flake food as its high in vitamins C & E which support a healthy immune system, and helps to promote vitality, colour clarity and healthy growth), and as the aquarium is kept in the boys bedroom it's been a great aid in helping them to fall asleep at night as it's so relaxing to watch!

This weekend we're planning to buy and introduce our red tail shark to the tank which we're all really excited about.

You can find out more about Mars Fishcare and API products HERE

Do you have an aquarium at home? What are your favourite fish to keep?

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