Nothing quite beats the clarity and visual beauty of a nicely designed and well-kept aquarium.

One of the joys or the aquarium is the striking effect it has on a room.
Research also shows that the tranquillity of the underwater world has a definite effect on reducing stress levels. Why then doesn't the aquarium always have the privileged position as the focal point in most aquarists' homes?

Well usually it's a question of style as many fish enthusiasts are inclined to look beyond the untidy tangle of wiring and other paraphernalia of miscellaneous articles or equipment surrounding their tank and concentrate on the contents. However, in today's world of home makeovers it seems to be everyone's need to live in a stylish clutter free home environment and the aquarium has to be equally good looking and complement this style.

If you aren't a gifted home designer or cabinetmaker the answer to acquiring a stylish looking aquarium is to invest in one of the packaged all-in-one aquarium sets. These are often state of the art designs that not only havee great aesthetical appeal but also are complete environments for your fish including advanced forms of heating, lighting and filtration all put together in a fully integrated manner.

Complete aquarium sets also have a huge advantage in that they overcome all of the hassle of deciding the specification of a new aquarium in terms of the size and type of individual pieces of equipment you need to purchase and the worries that once installed they will work efficiently and fit where they should.

Obviously, it is the look of an
aquarium set which will be the
first criteria you are likely to go
for and this is very important.

A good package will include the tank
with integral lighting canopy and a
stylish matching stand or cabinet.

Don't try to cut corners and place your new aquarium on a wrought-iron or angle-iron stand, Hi-fi, video or TV cabinet, and particularly avoid light articles of furniture or self-assembly furniture.

Remember, one litre of water weighs as much as a kilo and you need to be supporting a tank weighing in excess of 200 kilos when installed. Use of furniture or other forms of base can also invalidate your aquarium set's guarantee should the worst occur.

Lighting is a particularly important consideration and needs to be of good quality and that means the canopy must be of a good design and well made.
It is also essential to ensure that the specification meets your requirements.
It is often very difficult to modify integrated aquarium system lighting should you need to upgrade it s better level, so choose the aquarium set with the best specification for you from the start.

Similarly, with filtration, steer clear of aquarium sets with built-in filters which might not come up to your expectations but are next to impossible to modify. Filters vary considerably in their sophistication and effectiveness and you need to seek proper guidance again that your requirements are going to be met.

The Hagen Fluval Uno and Duo Deep aquarium sets are good examples of what an aquarium package should contain and provide. Tanks in these sets are made from glass, a material preferable to acrylic due to its greater resistance to scratches.

In general it is best to select the largest aquarium possible to ensure a more stable environment and greater choice of fish and plants. The Fluval range varies in size from 37.5 litre/8.2 gallons capacity model through seven different sizes up to the largest with a capacity of 26 litre/47.5 gallons.

The lighting is exclusively designed for Fluval aquarium sets and features a revolutionary Light-Glo Canopy design.

White, oxidation-free plastic reflectors provide superior light reflection as compared with aluminium or other metallic reflectors, and the hood features an integral hatch which makes feeding, treating and water changing quick and easy plus the anti-capillary fitting prevents condensation from escaping on to the outside glass. Available with single or double light tube fittings, the condensation-proofed tubes can be chosen from the extensive Fluval range.

Filtration is provided by the well-tested range of Fluval Plus submersible internal filters, each aquarium set model matched with the correct filter size. These best-selling filters come complete with carbon, foam and polyester filter media and have a long record of quality and reliability.

Both the Uno and Duo models have dedicated cabinets available in black or beech. The Uno range features a single light tube canopy and tank sizes are suitable for homes with limited space as they range between 37.5-96 litres. 8.2-21 gallons whilst the Duo Deep range have larger aquarium volumes, 84-216 litres/18-47.5 gallons and include double light canopies and sturdy bottom cabinets to ensure the aquarium has the appropriate support.

Aquarium set packages are seldom as complete as the Fluval range as each package comes ready to add the gravel and water in preparation for the plants and fish. Lighting tubes and filter media are included, pus a heater and digital thermometer to assist in temperature control.

Water care treatments like Nutrafin Aqua plus to pre-treat the tap water and Nutrafin Cycle to kick-start the filter are also provided together with, for ongoing maintenance, Nutrafin Plant Gro and Green X Phosphate Remover for an algae-free tank environment.

The clear concise Aquarium Care Guide gives step-by-step advice on how to start up and maintain your Fluval system and includes a written guarantee for the aquarium set. There is even a supply of Nutrafin fish food to start you on your way.

Once you have chosen and purchased your aquarium set you will want to find a location which will give it pride of place. However, there are a number of simple rules for locating your aquarium to get the most from it and ensure the health and welfare of your fish.

First of all, make sure your aquarium is sited away from direct sunlight as this can cause significant algae problems, especially if the window is south facing.
You are also likely to have problems with temperature control with overheating in summer and cooling down draughts in winter. Other direct sources of heat, such as fires and radiators should also be avoided.

Strange as it may seem, fish are also easily stressed by loud noises or, to be more correct, the vibrations these cause. Keep the aquarium away from sources of sound such as loudspeakers and TVs.

An ideal location for your new aquarium would be an inside wall in the living room with uninterrupted viewing from a favourite armchair or the settee, and allowing easy access above and to each side, plus a 6-7cm gap behind to run wiring etc. Where possible, the are should be adequately vented to allow any excess heated generated by the aquarium to escape.

It is sometimes recommended that aquariums should be arranged free-standing as a room divider but in practice this is seldom a good choice as aquarium sets are usually designed to fit against a wall and it is difficult to decorate a tank to be viewed from each side.

Keeping fish is both a relaxing and absorbing hobby and an endless fascination for the whole family. Creating and maintaining a perfect and complete environment for your fish is easy with the right kind of equipment and everything you need provided; so, for many of us, the ideal choice is a ready-built and equipped aquarium set.

Re-published from the FBAS Bulletin by kind permission of the author

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Last updated September 2005

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