Some planning and set-up is needed before you purchase your first piranha. Here is a list of general steps you will need to go through to set everything up:
1. Choose the location of the aquarium and set it up. If at all possible, choose a location that does not get direct sunlight because too much sunlight will affect the water chemistry and may also cause algae issues. Some people say that the aquarium should be located in a spot that does not have a lot of human traffic as well, since piranhas are skittish creatures and may be stressed by too much traffic.
2. Rinse all your decorations and accessories.
This is a very important step because it will help get rid of any dust from your new supplies. Rocks and gravel often contain a lot of dust which can make your water murky if you put them in right away. Some accessories may need to be soaked in water for a few minutes to get rid of all the air and/or tanic acids. For example, try to put a piece of driftwood in your aquarium without soaking it first and you will see it float to the top every time.
3. Rinse all the aquarium equipment then install them. Any part of your equipment (filters, power head, thermometer, etc.), that normally touch the water should also be rinsed. When you are done, install the equipment.
4. Again, make sure your aquarium is exactly where you want it. This is very important because the next step is where you fill it up with water and at that point it will be almost impossible to move.
5. Fill up the aquarium with water.
6. Dim the lighting. As I mentioned before, piranhas are not fans of bright lights. If your aquarium lighting is too bright, try wrapping them with electrical tape in a candy cane style. This should help.
7. Set up your filtration system. I’m not going to go into details because the instructions will depend on which one you buy, so please follow the instructions.
8. Set up the heater. Most of them are simple enough to set up, however, again you should follow the instructions. Set the temperature between 24 – 29 °C ( 75.2 – 84.2 °F ). Perfect temperature for most piranhas.
9. Test the water. Do NOT put any fish in your tank until this is done. You need to make sure that the water chemistry is just right before adding any fish. Recommended levels for most piranhas:
a. pH level should be between 6 – 7.5
b. Water hardness (dGH): 4 – 18 °N
c. Recommended water temperature: 24 – 29 °C ( 75.2 – 84.2 °F )
10. Cycle your aquarium. Cycling involves growing bacteria in your filtration system before you introduce your piranhas to it. Having the bacteria in place beforehand is very important because it will help eliminate the toxins that the piranha’s waste will create. Here is a great article from the Piranha-Fury forum that provides different ways to cycle your aquarium:
11. When the cycling is complete, purchase your piranhas. Visit your local pet/aquarium store and browse around. Keep an eye out for those that seem sluggish or that may not look as healthy as others. Pick ones that are active and that don’t have any damage to their bodies such as scrapes, nipped fins, three eyes, etc.
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