Final Touches - Get The Most Out Of Your Aquarium! 2023

Black line tetra in planted tank

Let’s be honest, we have all thought it at some point. You’ve spent weeks planning your aquarium, cycling it, stocking it and suddenly there is nothing left to do but maintain it. What else can you do to make it better? What other challenges can you set yourself? In this article I will discuss some final touches you can add to your tank to make a little bit more interesting; I will also mention some ideas to challenge yourself within the hobby now your tank is setup.


Add Floating Plants

Depending on what fish species you keep, adding floating plants can be a great option to add one final cherry on top of your aquarium so to speak. There is a variety of floating plants available such as duckweed, salvinia and Amazon frogbit (a personal favourite of mine). Some will grow long roots down into the tank creating an interesting look and extra habitat for your fish. Floating plants are great at absorbing nitrate. Floating plants work well in rimless open top tanks as these plants can be enjoyed from above. So, if you haven’t yet, give floating plants a go!


Stock a Centre Piece Fish

This entirely depends on your tank size and current fish, but if you have setup a peaceful community tank which is understocked, why not consider adding a centrepiece fish. A centre piece fish is usually a single fish which stands out from the rest of your schooling fish. Centre piece fish are usually bright in colour or have interesting behaviour. Think about this one as you must make sure your tank is large enough and that the centre piece fish will get along with the rest of your fish. A centre piece fish can add that extra level of interest to your aquarium. Most centre piece fish will seem to move around with purpose rather than the more aimless swimming technique observed in schooling fish. I think it is great when someone has a dwarf cichlid such as a Bolivian ram as their centre piece fish which is not always on display making it even more appreciated when you do see it.


Upgrade Equipment

This is by no means a necessity if your equipment is already working well but it is something to consider if you want to bring your aquarium to the level. Perhaps you could upgrade from an internal filter to an external canister filter or perhaps you could upgrade your planted tank LED lighting. If you upgrade your filter always ensure you cycle your new filter with established media, some people run both filters for a few months before decommissioning their old filter. Upgrading your aquarium lighting can be exciting especially if you have only ever used stock lighting before. Different lighting can completely change how your aquarium looks. Some single point LED lights will create a shimmer effect which in my opinion looks great! Remember, more expensive equipment does not always equal more enjoyment! This is completely up to you so take you time and do some research, but it is something to consider!



Try to Breed Your Fish

If you are completely happy with your setup and stocking choices, then why not consider breeding your current fish. This will involve research, time spent watching your fish and maybe even another tank setup for the fry! A few aquarium fish are incredibly difficult to breed but most readily available fish can be bred at home with some patience. Most tropical fish are egg layers, although some give birth to live young, all fish have different breeding rituals and need different territories and parameters to breed. Breeding fish can be a lot of work but can also be very rewarding. If you are keeping your fish healthy and in a good environment with high quality food, there is a good chance they may already be breeding. For example, gold barbs are relatively easy to breed, but the eggs and fry are normally eaten before you ever notice them. For a lot of small egg laying fish best practice is to move a conditioned pair into a separate tank with lots of moss at the bottom. The moss will temporarily protect the eggs and after 24 hours you can place the pair back into their usual tank. It may take a few tries and some tweaking but eventually you should have fry. Whatever fish you are aiming to breed be sure to research their breeding techniques and behaviours.


Try New Plants

If you have been bitten by the planted tank bug and have some experience with planted tanks, why not try to broaden your horizons with some new plant species. Try plants which you have never kept before. Research into their care and see if they would work in your setup. This may mean installing pressurised CO2 or having to add daily fertilisers to ensure good growth. This will help you develop your planted tank skills. It is very easy to become stuck in a rut by creating aquascapes which always look similar or are using the same plant species. Another aspect to consider is that if you have only ever kept low tech planted tanks why not try a high tech setup or vice versa. Even easy hardy plants like anubias and microsorum will benefit from the addition for CO2.


Setup Another Tank!

If all else fails and you are still itching for more, why not just setup another tank? It doesn’t have to be the same size; it can be smaller or larger.  Consider aquascaping and stocking it in a contrasting way to your current setup. If your current tank is a tropical community setup, why not setup a coldwater or cichlid setup? Keeping different species of fish will allow you to advance your knowledge within this hobby. Doing so will also keep the hobby fresh and you will enjoy the feeling of something new when keeping fish which you have never kept before. Because of this many aquarists (myself included) have multiple aquariums at home. This allows you to have the best of both worlds in a way. Hobbyists often find themselves thinking the grass is always greener on the other side in terms of the type of aquarium they have. For example, if you find yourself switching back and forth from African cichlids to planted tanks over the years it could be time to have two tanks!


Pro Tip: Make sure whatever you do that you are having fun and enjoying your tank, after all that is what it is for! Take good care of your fish but also take some time to just sit back and enjoy your aquarium.



AQUAnatur was created by an established UK aquarium installation and maintenance company near London which has been running for over 25 years! Our team are very experienced and happy to help offer advice with any aquarium questions. We are always available via phone or email Monday - Friday, feel free to contact us, we would love to help! AQUAnatur supply a range of aquariums and aquascaping products. If you have a question, please leave a comment or contact us via phone or email.

By Alasdair McPhail

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