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The First Tank Guide

On the Web Since 1994

Welcome to the First Tank Guide. These are my guidelines for getting started with fish and aquariums, moving with your fish and aquarium, or upgrading to a larger aquarium. The information provided here is intended to help beginning aquariists get their tanks up an running smoothly, and to provide a reference for those who are in the process of upgrading their tank or looking for information on various pieces of aquarium equipment. I hope that you will find the information available here to be useful as you are getting ready to set up your aquarium or actually setting up your aquarium, and that you return to the site to get more information as you venture further into your aquarium keeping adventure and need greater information on fish keeping and relevant equipment.

Much of the information available here is derived from my opinions and experiences based on over two decades of raising tropical fish, maintaining my own tanks, helping friends to get their own aquaria started, extensive reading of literature available regarding the aquarium hobby and industry, and, more recently, running the fish department at Bozeman Pet Center. I have also incorporated information based on feedback I have gotten from others who may have more experience with specific equipment and information based on some of the most frequently asked questions I get. I have also included some information on why people often get conflicting information from various sources on fish care.

This site includes a list of parts and equipment and their purpose, use, and maintenance as well as how to set up and cycle your new tank and introduce new fish, as well as information on aquarium capacity and population. I have a form set up for you to send me questions about your aquarium setup in case the answers are not published here yet and a tank volume calculator if you're trying to figure out your tank volume. I have also added a page about my qualifications for providing this information. Information is also available on cleaning the tank and the cruelty involved in painting and dying fish for retail sale, as well as some information on some interesting fish I often get questions about, and some information on chemistry and pH. Of course, if you are just getting started, I suggest you begin here.

This information is all original work, created by me (unless noted otherwise). Feel free to link to any specific page in the site (though you should check back periodically to make sure that pages have not been moved), but do not copy information without permission (except as outlined as legal use for reviews or references). If you link to information, notification is appreciated, but not necessary. The information herein is in no way guaranteed or warranted for any purpose.

If your fish, or any other pet, is sick, you are best advised to seek assistance from a licensed veterinarian.

"I came across your pages by internet search after reading about 4 other sites, and I have to say that your site is by far the most informative (I've added it to my favorites). I do not need to go any further. I have learned that taking care of fish should be easy, once my biological filter is established. Now I know that I just have to be patient, and [then] enjoy the crystal clear set up for many years to come. Thank you for every word in your pages, you probably saved the lives of 5 little fish, and another tank from the trash."
June 9, 2004
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"I emailed you like 3 weeks ago about an aquarium I had just gotten for my birthday and I was having trouble setting up. Well its up and running now, I did everything you said on your web site. [...] I ended up with 2 goldfish, "bubbles" and "clown" [...]. Thanks to your advice they look really healthy and happy [...]."
April 26, 2004
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