‘I think it would be a lovely idea and something fun you could do with the girls. As long as you give it some thought first!!!!’ Oh those famous last words that I hear at the end of many conversations with High Command. In This case after I asked her thoughts on whether setting up a tropical fish aquarium was a good idea.
As readers will know I was recently asked to review some of their aquarium gear by setting up a tropical fish aquarium by the guys over at SwellUK. They are an online retailer for tropical, freshwater, coldwater, tropical marine aquariums and pond fish, as well as specialist products for Koi, ponds and gardening.
So after confirming in principle with High Command that starting a tropical fish aquarium could be a fun thing to do with the girls the game was on. But before I launched into researching what gear to go for there were some basic questions I needed to clarify first to determine whether I had what it takes (sounds so dramatic doesn’t it):
- Have we got room for an aquarium in the house?
- What are the safety considerations with small children?
- What is the likelihood the dog (or one of the kids for that matter) will eat one of the fishes?
- What happens if you want to go on holiday?
- How easy is a a tropical fish aquarium to move once its fully filled and in operation?
- Once set up how much time do you need to spend maintaining a tropical fish aquarium?
- What does it cost to maintain a tropical fish aquarium?
- Do I think I have the time and commitment to maintain a tropical fish aquarium?
So with these questions buzzing around I thought what better thing to do than pick up the phone and call the customer support line at SwellUK to get some advice.
Now having not dealt with these guys before I wasn’t sure what to expect. I am a bit of a stickler for good customer service and don’t suffer fools gladly. But I am pleased to say that the advice I received was top notch (by the way they had no idea who I was and that I would be reviewing some of their gear when I called).
The person that answered the phone was a chap called Chris who was very honest when I said I was looking for some advice on setting up an aquarium. He immediately stated he was SwellUK’s pond guru and that I should speak to Mark the resident aquarium expert.
And Mark didn’t disappoint. Any concerns I had about buying such an involved bit of kit of over the phone/internet rather in person disappeared almost immediately. Its always reassuring when the person at the other end of the phone speaks from their own experience in this case his own tropical fish aquarium. He answered all my questions and the advice he gave me made a lot of sense and I certainly didn’t feel like he was doing a hard sell.
So in answer to the questions above.
Q. Have we got room for it in the house?
Well this was a conversation to be had with High Command. We looked at various options and were mindful we didn’t want to incur additional costs buying a dedicated stand. Options included the dining room sideboard, part of the kitchen side board or on the sideboard in the hallway (it was at this point I realised that we have too many sideboards!). We are settled on the hallway at present but the main thing is we feel we have a number of options for it to go.
Q. What are the safety considerations with small children?
Basically this ties in with the above in that it needs to be positioned somewhere that’s not easily scalable by the kids and the lid of the tank can be secured so that prying little hands can’t open it to go fishing or for a swim!
What is the likelihood the dog (or the kids for that matter) will eat one of the fishes?
The last thing we need is a visit from the NSPCA or the NSPCC but I was assured that this is very rare…..
Q. What happens if you want to go on holiday?
Mark at SwellUK dispelled any concerns I had here. Outlining different options which included a) a relative coming around a couple of times a week to feed the fish, b) using slow release tablets (although these can be more hassle than they are worth in terms of making the tank more dirty) or c) an automatic fish feeder than drops the feed in as if you were doing it.
Q. How easy is an aquarium to move once its fully filled?
Knowing that we are ones for changing our minds we wanted to confirm this so we didn’t feel tied into one location in the house. Basically the bottom line here is that there is quite a bit to moving a fish tank i.e. putting fish in buckets, emptying most of the water etc which although sounds like a pain is more than doable.
Q. Once set up how much time do you need to spend maintaining a tropical fish aquarium?
Mark advised that once you’ve set up the tank, and got your fish in there, maintaining the tank is very straight forward. Its more about getting into the habit of emptying a proportion of the water (using a cleaning pipe kit) and ensuring the water pH is in the right range. Having talked this through I felt reassured and that it wouldn’t be like getting another dog!
Q. What does it cost to maintain a tropical fish aquarium once its set up?
Apart from fish food (couple of a quid a month) other costs will be down to how well we look after it (replacing fish ~£2-4 per fish), upgrading the furnishings of the tank and servicing the filter with new pads (£5 per year). I guess its one of those things you just have to take the leap of faith and try but I didn’t feel like I was committing to purchasing 100 prize Koi Carp annually.
Q. Do I think I have the time and commitment to own a tropical fish aquarium?
This was the key question and after taking all of the above into account the answer was YES!
So the next thing to do is to choose what tank, kit and fish to go with which I will be writing about over the next few weeks as we get the aquarium up and running.
Have you got an aquarium?
What advice would you give to someone considering setting up an Aquarium?
Do you have any top tips that you have learnt the hard way?