Planning An Aquarium
Setting up an aquarium is a task that takes time if it is to be done properly. Rushing into things and purchasing 'on the spot' will only encourage problems later on. It is far better and more involved to take your time and make sure you have it right from the start.
The first thing to do is to spend a little time window-shopping and decide what type of aquarium and/or fish you would like to keep. It may be that you already have an idea of the kind of aquarium you want, even if this is the case, a little window shopping may change or reinforce your ideas.
The time you spend working out what you want is also a good time to visit a few local retailers and assess which one(s) are better than others. Before you purchase anything it is wise to find a good retailer and stick to them for all your initial equipment and fish.
Finding a good retailerKnowledge is the key to successful fish keeping, you don't need to know everything about fish keeping - even the best experts could not claim this - but an available source of good advice and knowledge is vital.
A good retailer will be staffed with experienced people who will endeavour to help you as much as possible without selling you everything they can. In fact, it is far more profitable for a retailer to have happy customers who keep returning than to make a few big sales and never see customers again due to dissatisfaction.
So how do you tell a good retailer from a bad one? Firstly, they should be willing to talk to you about various choices and be able to explain how things work and why they are needed without forcing a sale. Bear in mind though that there are quite a few items that are needed to start an aquarium properly, although these are discussed later on.
Many retailers give out advice and fact sheets about various aspects of setting up an aquarium, this is always a good sign of a retailer which is interested in getting knowledge to the customer. Observing staff talking to other customers is also a good way of assessing their suitability. If possible, speak to some of the customers and see what they say about the retailer - most fish keepers are fairly friendly people and will give you good advice.
Check for guarantees on livestock, most good retailers offer 48 hour or 7-day guarantee's and this is also a sign that they want you to be successful. A good retailer will also not allow you to buy a large number of fish when you start your aquarium. The reason for this is explained later on but ask them how many you could put in your aquarium to begin with. If the answer is along the lines of 'as many as you want' then go elsewhere. In short, a good retailer will be just as willing to make sure you get it right and do things properly as they are interested in making a sale.