What do I need to know about keeping a fishtank?

You will need a layer of gravel in your tank to provide a growing medium for the plants and to anchor them firmly in place.  This is important with goldfish as they enjoy rooting about at the tank bottom in search of food.  Before the gravel is placed into the tank, it should first be placed in a bucket and flushed thoroughly with a current from a hose.  The gravel should be forcefully disturbed periodically throughout this process; when the water runs clear from the bucket, the gravel is then ready to be placed into the tank.

The most suitable rocks for the aquarium are granite, slate and sandstone, although many rocks found in the natural state in water courses can be used, provided that they are free of contaminants.  Avoid all rocks with sharp edges and those such as marble, limestone and soft sandstone as these will contain a high mineral content that will slowly leak out and make the water far too alkaline for fish and plants.  Driftwood is also a useful material for landscaping the aquarium.

There are a number of plants suitable for the coldwater aquarium.  Select only healthy looking specimens and always wash plants thoroughly before introducing them into your tank.  Plants not only look nice but provide hiding places for fish, sites for egg laying, and a browsing area, which is an important therapeutic aspect often overlooked by those who merely place a few rocks in a bowl with goldfish.  There are many plastic plants available some of which are very lifelike and can be used to good effect, they are also safer and easier to use than real plants.

Your tank should be cleaned regularly, say every three weeks, during which time all the electrical equipment should be turned off and the plugs taken from their sockets to guard against any damage or unnecessary danger.

At cleaning time, replace about 25-50% of the water, but be very careful to make sure that the new water is not “raw”  and is of the same temperature as the old.