I work for a small company in Cambodia who have decided to set up an office aquarium and I have been charged with the care of it.
I have absolutely no idea of how to care for tropical freshwater fish. I have read through a number of tropical fish care websites but still have a number of questions with which I hope you can help with.
The websites that I have seen look at general hobbyists with home fish tanks of 20 to 50 gallons and none the size of the tank we have.
My boss has ordered an aquarium with the following dimensions – 1700mm x 800mm x 750mm. Simple arithmetic works this out to be some 1,020 litres capacity or 270 gallons. That is a lot of water and very heavy to boot - in the region of 1 metric tonne.
I should be grateful if you could help with the following. For a tank of this size:
• What sort of equipment will I need in terms of pumps, filters, lighting and heating and what sort of power will be required? I am particularly concerned about getting equipment capable of doing the job for a tank that size. I do not want equipment that is underpowered for the requirements.
• How many fish should we get?
• What sort of sizes? How big should the biggest fish be and how small the smallest? How many big fish? Obviously, a tank full of 5 centimetre fish will look silly.
• What types of fish should we get that will co-exist without wanting to fight or eat each other?.
• Real or fake plants? If real, will I need some form of organic material (soil, compost) in the tank substrate to provide something for the plants to take root in?
As I mentioned, we are in Cambodia and the tropical fish scene here is, well, basically non-existent and there are no local tropical fish suppliers. If there were, I would probably contract someone to set up and care for the tank until we understood how to do it ourselves. Without local help, I simply want to be able to make the tank look nice and not have any fish die on me or eat any its neighbours.
Any help you can provide with these questions and any other advice will be very gratefully received.
I've received some correspondence already basically saying, "it depends on what you want". The point here is that I don't know what I want or need. The way to look at this plea for help is, if you were given a tank of 1,020 litres (270 gallons), what type of equipment would you set up, what species of fish would you start with, how many of each and what types of plants would you put in. I have read quite a lot about how to start the mechanics of starting up a new tank, the gravel, the water, water testing, cycling the water, rocks and log hiding places, procedures for introducing new fish and am quite comfortable with that aspect.
I understand that all experienced hobbyists will have their own opinions and preferences in how they would stock an aquarium but I'm hoping that there is some common ground on starting an aquarium and getting a nice balance in fish varieties and numbers of big, medium and small sized fish, particularly for a complete novice.
What I want to end up with is a spectacular aquarium with a nice variety of fish which is not over or understocked and species that will cohabit with each other without fin nipping, fighting and looking on each other as tonight's fish supper.
As mentioned, our office is in Cambodia (Phnom Penh) and the tropical fish supply market is, basically non existent. Search as I might, I have yet to root out a tropical fish stockist or supplier and so cannot seek help locally. I have found a supplier in Bangkok who is willing to supply everything we need, even fish but again he makes the same point as the other comments I have already received, "it depends on what you want". Please tell me what I do want.
I am a complete novice at this but I am sure that I will learn by trial and error (hopefully not too much error) but if I am going to be responsible for the company aquarium, then I want to be able to care for these fish properly.