It's often said, 'Begin as you mean to go.' In fish-keeping this is perhaps even more true. Starting out with good equipment and good habits helps prevent problems further down the line. But what if your equipment fails, or you decide later on that you'd like to upgrade like I did to a larger tank...?
First off, I should warn you to be prepared for many headaches. Secondly, make absolutely certain that you'll have an uninterrupted block of time: an entire day if at all possible; expect everything to take at least twice as long as your best estimate. Thirdly, talk to others who've been through the process and learn from their mistakes. This will help your transition to proceed much more smoothly.
TIPS FOR A SMOOTH TRANSITION
- Read the instruction manuals for your new equipment, and then read them again. Some items don't ship with clear instructions for assembly or instruction, so watch every YouTube tutorial you can find about them, too. Check and double check all your measurements before cutting/modifying any tubing or other parts Personal Note: Do this before beginning to assemble your item; it will save you much time and frustration. I failed to do this with my first Eheim canister filter, and the first attempt ended in a massive headache.
- If you're planting your aquarium, don't fill the aquarium all the way to the top before you put the plants in if you have a choice in the matter. Personal Note: Planting in a completely filled aquarium is cold, wet, and messy. You'll often be up to your armpits in water, and generally dripping everywhere. I've had better results by filling the tank about halfway--sometimes a little less--planting, and then topping off.
- If you're replacing your filters as opposed to simply moving them across to a new tank, save your media...all of it! Keep it wet, and transfer it to your new filter adding additional new media as needed. Get your new filter running as quickly as possible. Personal Note: Make sure that the water in your new tank as been treated with Prime or similar before doing this, so as not to kill your beneficial bacteria with chlorine/chloramine. Also, if both old and new media won't fit in your filter at the same time, getting the old media in should take priority. I will note from experience that an Eheim 2215 will in fact hold its own media plus that of both a Whisper 30 and Whisper 40 at the same time.
- When transferring fish from the old aquarium, removing all plants/decor first will make the process much easier...nothing for you to dodge the net around, and nowhere for the fish to hide! Draining all but a few inches of water will also help. Personal Note: Having a second net and/or a second person is a big help, as is having excellent hand-eye coordination and fast reflexes. It took me about three hours to net thirty-some fish.
Those of you that have transferred a tank or equipment before, any other tips or suggestions...?