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There are many items of equipment that we could buy for our aquarium; however, most of these things are not necessary. The items that we do need to have are filter, heater, and
light. Many times, aquaria are sold with those three items, and the gravel, included.

There are special things that we don't need that can be purchased, if we want, after we have our aquarium established. Some of them look like a person in a diving suit; some look like treasure chests. A bubbler sits on the floor of the aquarium and sends up large bubbles. These put more oxygen in the water, and are probably necessary to have in very large aquaria. In ours, the power head for the filter will aerate (that means to add oxygen) the water well enough that we don't need to add a bubbler.

There are feeders, which we also don't need, but might be nice to have when we are on vacation. They look sort of like cones, and float on top of the water. We would put fish food into it, and it would dispense it in measured amounts, slowly.

We should purchase a siphon tube, which will help clean the floor of the aquarium if our house-keepers don't get it all. When we talked about feeding the fish, we discussed not putting in too much food because it rots on the bottom, and makes a toxin (poison) that can kill the fish. If we did put in too much food, accidentally, or the loaches and catfish missed it, the iphon tube would take care of it.

There are many, many kinds of ornaments at the pet store that we can buy for the aquarium. There are all sorts of different rocks that the fish like, and some fish need for hiding (like loaches). We can't just go outside and pick up rocks for it, unless we know what type of rocks they are. Some rocks have minerals in them that leach out into the water and become toxic to the fish. Some rocks have very sharp edges on them, and the fish could be injured just by touching them. The rocks in the pet store will be of the right type, although some of those have sharp edges. Further, rocks, like all other ornaments we may want, collect debris, and the fish don't always clean them well enough. Algae forms in the aquarium sometimes, and grows on the rocks as well as the sides of the aquarium. The large rocks take up too much space for our aquarium, and we won't have any that are larger than about 2 inches in diameter (that means across). We'll take them out and scrub them with hot water and a brush once in awhile.

There is always a shelf at the pet store that has hundreds of ceramic ornaments. Little castles, treasure chests, skeletons, huge fish with open ends that the real fish could swim through, wrecked ships, silly signs, little bridges, lanterns, and everything that anybody can imagine. Some of us feel that these kinds of things distract from the beauty of the fish and plants, and we know that ornaments collect debris and algae. If we have plants and a few rocks, our pets will have plenty of "playthings," and they won't need ornaments.

There is one kind of plaything that doesn't distract from the natural beauty of the aquarium, and that some fish really seem to enjoy. (It's hard to tell what fish like, because they don't talk much.) It is a clear, or smoky gray, plastic tube that lies on the floor. Sometimes fish go into the tube and they think they are hiding!

One thing we have to keep in mind is to never, NEVER put anything made of metal into the aquarium. That would be certain to poison the fish. Also, we don't ever put sea shells into our fresh-water aquarium, because lime leaches out into the water and poisons it.

Plastic plants, in many sizes, colors, and shapes, are fun to have, in place of real plants. They don't decay, the fish don't tear them, and they are easy to replace if they get algae or if we want a change of scenery for our aquarium. It isn't a good idea to use plastic plants that are not specifically made for aquaria, because they may have a chemical that could hurt the fish.

Pet stores have rolls of paper (like wall-paper) that can be taped onto the back of either the fresh-water or salt-water aquarium. These papers provide back-grounds for the plants and fish. Some of the papers have plants and rocks like you would see under-water in a river or ocean. Some of them just have zillions of bubbles, in different colors of blue or green. The papers are pretty, and do not cost very much money. Of course, they don't go inside the aquarium, so we don't have to worry about harming the fish.


In addition to the heater, filter, and light, salt-water aquaria need to have aerators. The bursting of the bubbles on the surface of the water helps maintain the correct chemical balance for the fish.

The pet store has lovely "living rocks" to put into salt- water aquaria. These are rocks which have tiny plants and/or animals growing on them. Some of these animals eat fish, so we have to find out of they need to have a few tiny "feeder" fish put in there for them sometimes.

Coral, of course, is beautiful, and small pieces of live coral could decorate a salt-water aquarium.

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