Little brings greater joy to an aquarist than getting a new tank. I ordered a new 55g aquarium that just came in. For many cichlid keepers, a 55g tank is quite small. Remember, however, that I keep dwarf cichlids. Thus, this tank size is quite reasonable.
For me, there is always some trepidation with a new tank. Lots of thought should go into setting up a new aquarium, regardless of your experience level. Even though I’ve done this many times, I still think everything through with respect to a new set-up. In fact, I still make a checklist. Below are the questions I ask myself before setting up a new tank.
- What species of cichlid(s) do I want to keep?
- How many of the species do I want to keep?
- What other tank inhabitants do I want?
- What size tank, at minimum, do I need for adults in #2 and #3 above?
- Will I keep live plants?
- What kind of lighting do I need?
- What kind of substrate do I need?
- What kind of filtration do I need?
- How do I plan to heat the water?
- What kind of shelter do I need based on #1 above?
There are other questions I could ask that aren’t as critical, such as do I want to use an airstone, do I want to cover the top of the tank at all or leave it open, etc. Of course the answer to many of these questions leads to more questions (i.e., if I want live plants, what kind?).
After I’ve answered the above, I now have to think about the timing. Why does that matter, you ask? Ahhh, another set of questions. Below are a few.
- Do I have to cycle the new tank or do I have mature, colonized media ready to go?
- Where will I get the species I selected in #1 of the first checklist above? If my local fish store (lfs) has them in stock, then I can proceed. If I have to order them, I have to find a seller that has them.
- Where will the new tank reside in the house?
- Do I have to move anything to set it up?
- Do I have electrical outlets nearby?
- Can I control the ambient light in the room?
I’m not obsessive compulsive, but I’ve found that thinking about all of these things before setting a new tank up can greatly reduce the likelihood of a headache that often results from poor planning. Perhaps you have your own checklist.