"Where Fish Would Go if They Could Shop!"

Phil's Fish Shop


Aquarium Qwner's Handbook

There are a few key things you want to do before purchasing an aquarium and fish.


1. Choose what fish you want to purchase. You want to decide which fish will best suit what you’re looking for.  You want to do this before purchasing any equipment, because different kinds of fish need specific kinds of equipment. 


2. Make sure those fish are suitable for each other.  The second thing you want to do is make sure that the fish you chose are going to get along and not going to eat each other!  You also want to make sure that you are going to be able meet those fishes’ needs and take care of them in the long run. 


3. Find a location for your aquarium.  By now, you should know how big of an aquarium you are going to need.  Find a good space in your house where you want to put your tank.  Plan out the exact measurements, including space for cords and pumps.  You want to find a spot where you are going to be able view the fish openly, without objects obstructing your view.


4. Set a budget.  Determine how much you want/have to spend to get the fish you want and supplies you need.

Before You Buy an Aquarium



5.  Research equipment.  Find out how much that equipment will cost you compared to your budget.  Also, research the dimensions of the tank that you need and see if you have enough space for that size of a tank. If not, you may have go back to step one and choose smaller fish that will better suit your conditions.


6. Purchase your tank.  Drive down to Phil’s Fish Shop and purchase all the equipment you are going to need for your aquarium.  This includes- the tank itself (we recommend starting with a 10 gallon tank), a filter, fish food specific for your fish, an air pump, gravel, lights/reflectors, a heater, and any desired decorations. 


7. Setup the Aquarium  After buying the supplies, setup your aquarium as instructed by the customer service rep. from Phil’s Fish Shop.  Make sure to clean all of your equipment (with non-toxic cleaning solutions safe for fish, sold at Phil’s Fish Shop) before assembling.  Fill the tank and run it for a few days to make sure nothing is leaking and assembled right.


8. Buy starter fish.  Select a few starter fish from your list and purchase them at Phil’s Fish Shop.  Make sure these few fish are adapting well to the new environment and doing well before purchasing any more fish.


David Dempsey


1. Make sure the area you have designated for the aquarium is clean and cleared.


2. Place the stand on the area you have cleared for the aquarium.


3. Place the tank on top of the tank.  Make sure they are flush against each other.


4. If you have an Under Gravel Filter, you want to place this down next (follow manufacturer’s instructions)


5. Place your gravel in the tank and spread it out so that everything is covered and you have an even layer of gravel in your tank.


6. If you have a filter other than then an Under Gravel Filter, you want to set it up now (following the manufacturer’s instructions).


Getting Started With Your Aquarium


7. At this time, you want to go ahead and set up your heater and air pump.  Check to see if your filter needs to be attached to the air pump before installing the pump.


8. Add your decorations to your tank and arrange them as you like (see page 7 for more information on tank decorations.)


9. Place the top on your tank and situate all your cords and lines.


10. Make sure your air pump and heater are off, and add water (non-treated) to your tank.


11. Let the water sit and settle for about an hour before turning on your heater, filter, and air pump.


12. Run your tank for a few (2-3) days and make sure everything is working properly and not leaking before adding any fish.


13. Gently transfer your starter fish into your tank by using a net and begin the cycling process.


      Choosing fish can be very intimidating.  The most important thing to remember is to make sure that the fish you choose are compatible with each other.  You want to make sure that all of your fish eat the same thing, need to be in water at the same temperature, and in general act the same way.  You want to do some research and figure out want kind of fish are available to you and fit your needs.  Decide if you want passive or aggressive fish.  Decide what kind of food you want to feed them.  Decide how much time you want to take to care for them.  After doing all those things, head down to Phil’s Fish Shop and pick out your fish! If you encounter some problems with your selections, a Phil’s Fish Shop employee will do their best to help you. 

Fish Selection



         When you get your fish, you will want to go through a 6-8 week cycling period.  This means that, you are very diligent in keeping your tank maintained, you feed your fish the recommended amount (consult a Phil’s Fish Shop employee if you aren’t sure of the correct amount), you do necessary water changes, and monitor your fishes’ behavior.  After cycling your fish, they are several things you need to do to ensure the health of your fish. 

These things include-

  • Providing them  with a safe environmentFeed them regularly (everyday)
    • Do regular aquarium cleanings (see tank maintenance for further information)
    • Change the water regularly
    • Check the filter and make sure it is working correctly
  • Check for odd behavior (this can be a sign of sickness)
  • Check your equipment on a regular basis

 Keeping Your Fish Healthy

David Dempsey


Tank Decorating, also called aquascaping, is very popular among aquarium owners.  Decorating not only makes your aquarium look nicer, but also makes your fish feel more at ease.  The fish will come out of hiding more often if they feel more comfortable in the tank. 


When decorating your aquarium, you want to use a mix of live and artificial (non-toxic) plants.  Try to make the space look as much like the fishes’ natural environment as possible.  Fish from ponds and lakes prefer grasses and grass-like plants, whereas fish from rivers prefer rocks, logs, and other rock-like plants.  Try to avoid shells, coral (skeletons), and limestone because it is very unlikely to find them in a freshwater ecosystem and they could potentially be harmful to the freshwater tank.

Tank Decorations

Stephen G. Noble


Try to scatter decorations and use them to cover unappealing objects such as the filter, heater, and air pump.  We advise putting up a background, because it can make the fish feel more at ease.  Try to make artificial décor look as natural as possible.  Large rocks don’t provide much cover, so try to stay away from them.   


Over all, try and make your tank look as natural as possible, mix in both artificial and live decorations, group plants together so that it gives the fish a bit of cover, and lastly make the fish feel as comfortable as possible.


As stated on page 2, we recommend starting with a 10 gallon tank, a filter, a heater (especially for tropical fish), and an air pump.  The temperature of the tank should always be at 76-80 F (25-27 C).  You should install a thermometer inside the aquarium to constantly monitor the temperature of the water.  Keeping the tank a constant temperature is very important, because if the temperature fluctuates, it could kill the fish. 

Water Quality and Temperature

You should also install 2 heaters in the aquarium, if one dies, the other will still heat the tank. The heater(s) should be about 3 watts per gallon for a large tank and 5 watts per gallon for a small tank.  You can buy either a submersible heater or a stick-on heater. 

Eric Michael


It is very important that you know what kind of fish food your fish eat and how much they eat.  Most fish eat once a day, and only eat a small amount.  Fish are both carnivorous and herbivorous animals, which mean they eat a mix of animals and plants.  There are two (2) main types of fish food: live and processed.  Live food fish feast on include: animals, plants, and microorganisms.  The four (4) main types of processed foods are: freeze-dried, fresh, canned, and frozen.   


 Canned foods are recommended the most, because they meet fishes needs the best.  Pellets, tablets, granules, and flakes are all types of canned fish foods.  Freeze-drying food strips the food of some of its nutrients, so we recommend feeding them freeze-dried food as a last resort.  It is important to feed your fish a variety of different food to ensure that they are getting all of the essential vitamins/nutrients that they need.  


      Cleaning an aquarium can be an easy task, as long as you do it right.  You don’t need to take everything out of the tank when cleaning it, it will just make more work for you.  You don’t want to remove your fish from your tank because it could stress them out.  We recommend that you change the water and clean the tank weekly.  You only want to siphon out about 10-15% of the water and then add back that 10-15% of water when changing it.  Use your siphon to transfer water to and from the tank.  This water should be close to the temperature of the water already in the tank and free of any chemicals or chlorine.  Remember to leave about an inch or 2 between the water and the lid for ample oxygen flow. To clean the tank you want to use your siphon to suck out the dirt and bacteria that has collected on the gravel and decorations.  You have to clean the gravel a little bit more thoroughly if you have an Under Gravel Filter.  If you find that algae is growing on your tank or decorations, purchase an algae scraper and scrape it off before you change the water.   

Tank Maintenance


      Phil’s Fish Shop provides all of your aquarium needs and wants.  We only hire the most attentive, happy employees. We ensure customer service and try to meet your every need.  We have the best prices, but will price match if you find a better one.  There is an in-store veterinarian at Phil’s Fish Shop every day in case you encounter pet emergency.  We also have a pet hotel, for when you travel and need someone to watch over your fish (employees watch over and feed your fish while you’re gone!).  We have a wide variety of fish supplies that meets every fish’s wants and needs.  Visit Phil’s Fish Shop today for all of your fish supplies, because it’s where fish would go if they could shop.  


What Phil's Fish Shop Has to Offer You  


1. Seyffarth, Keith. "Keeping Healthy Fish." The First Tank Guide. Keith Seyffarth, 1994. Web. 4 January 2014.


2. Seyffarth, Keith. "Decorating Your Aquarium." The First Tank Guide. Keith Seyffarth, 1994. Web. 4 January 2014.


3. Seyffarth, Keith. "Feeding Your Fish." The First Tank Guide. Keith Seyffarth, 1994. Web. 4 January 2014.


4. "Aquariums as a Hobby." SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, 1 December 2009. Web. 4 January 2014.




1. Dempsey, David. Wrasse. 2013. Photograph. Ocean Floor Aquariums.

2. Dempsey, David. Speckled Damsel. 2013. Photograph. Ocean Floor Aquariums.

3. Noble, Stephen G. The Abyss. 2010. Photograph. FishChannel.com.

4. Free Google Image 

5. Michael, Eric. 2009. Photograph. GlassBox Design.

6. Free Google Image 






Works Cited

Created by Regan Carroll