Whether you are an enthusiast or setting up an aquarium for the first time, you are probably looking for some specific advice. Knowing how to set up your tank to create the optimal environment for your fish is necessary. This is where an aquarium stock calculator, like AqAdvisor, is helpful.
Below we provide the ultimate guide with a step-by-step process for how to use AqAdvisor.
What is AqAdvisor
Aqadvisor is an online tool that aquarists can use. They provide an online aquarium stocking calculator to help you determine what types of fish and how many to stock your tank with. Their program offers a selection of unique features to help you set up your tank. Those include:
- Calculate bioloads of selected aquarium species
- Recommend common pH, temperature, and hardness
- Determine filtration capacity
- Recommend water change schedule
- Determine compatibility between aquarium species
Why Should I Use an Aquarium Stock Calculator?
Whether you are a beginner or hobbyist, an aquarium stock calculator is a great place to start planning your aquarium. The calculator will help give you an idea of the size, temperature requirements, and the number of fish your aquarium can accommodate.
It is important to note that you will need to do additional research on the temperament of the fish selected. Some fish don’t get along well with other fish. You will also need to research if the fish prefer open spaces to swim or like plants and caves to hide in. You will want to make sure the fish you select can coexist together in the same space and are good tank mates.
How to use AqAdvisor
Below we will go into the specifics of exactly how to use AqAdvisor with our step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Select the Appropriate Tab
In the top left-hand corner, you will see two tabs. One is labeled “Freshwater Advisor,” and the other is labeled “Saltwater Advisor.” Select the tab based on the aquarium you plan to set up.
Step 2: Customize Data Set
Next to “Aquarium Equipments and Supplies,” you will see five button options for Freshwater and three button options for Saltwater.
Add a Filter: This button allows you to add an additional filter field to your equipment list.
Remove a Filter: This button allows you to remove a filter field from your list of equipment.
Display in cm/in: This button allows you to change the measurements for the dimensions of your tank to inches or centimeters.
Display in Litres/Gallons: This button allows you to change your calculations’ results to display in either litres or gallons.
Display in Fahrenheit/Celsius: This button allows you to display Fahrenheit or Celsius’s temperature results.
Step 3: Input Fish Tank Dimensions
In order for the calculator to provide results for your tank, you must fill out the dimensions of your tank.
Name: This field is cosmetic and will have no impact on the dimensions of your tank.
Dimension: This drop-down tab provides two options. You can select “User Defined” and manually enter the dimensions of your tank. Or you can find the size and brand of your tank from the drop-down menu to automatically populate the dimension fields.
User Defined: If you choose “User Defined” from the “Dimension” tab, enter the length, depth, and height of your tank. Make sure you are using the correct units of measurement that you selected in Step 2.
Update: Hit the update button. This will calculate an estimated volume of your tank that will be displayed on the right of the “Update” button.
Keep in mind that the volume calculated does not consider any decor or aquascaping you plan to use. The more you add to your aquarium, the less overall volume of water there will be for your fish.
Step 4: Select Your Filter
Selecting a filter is optional but will help you ensure that your tank runs at its optimal performance.
Filter 1: This drop-down tab allows you to pick from two options. You can select “User Defined” and manually enter the filter’s capacity. Or you can find the brand and model of your filter, and it will automatically populate the capacity field.
If you choose “User Defined” from the drop-down tab, you will not want to enter your filter’s full capacity value. Some filters don’t perform at the max capacity they claim to or only reach that max capacity under optimal tank conditions. It is best to underestimate the capacity and use 70% of the suggested capacity to allow buffer room.
Filter 2: If you are using more than one filter unit for your aquarium, you will need to add it in the Filter 2 tab.
Continue to select “Add a Filter” from Step 2 to account for all filters on your tank. The combined capacity of your filters will determine if your aquarium has enough filtration.
Update: Once all of your filters have been entered, click the “Update” button.
Step 5: Choose Fish Species from List
Currently, there are 917 different species in the AqAdvisor’s database. You can select from fish, frogs, snails, eels, and shrimp species.
Display only suitable species for your tank: If you select this button, the fish species list will exclude all species that don’t meet your aquarium’s size requirement. This is useful to narrow down your search, so you know exactly which fish will work with your specific tank.
Search String: Use this box to filter through over 900 different species. If you know the common name or scientific name, you can search for them here.
Advanced Search: This button opens up two more options, including size between and temperature between.
Size Between: Here, you can reduce the species list even further by adding in a size range for the fish.
Temperature Between: Here, you can set a temperature range to only select species compatible with that water temperature.
Use Juvenile Sizes: By default, AqAdvisor is set up to calculate your aquarium’s capacity based on the adult sizes the different species will grow to. If you are looking to set up a rearing tank, you can use this button to determine capacity based on juvenile sizes.
Quantity: Once you find the species you want, designate the quantity and click the “Add” button.
Remove: You can use this button to remove species from the selected species box. Simply click on the species you would like removed and click the “remove” button.
Clear Fish Selections: If you want to start over, click the “Clear Fish Selections” button, and all species will be removed from the selected species box.
Start Over: To completely start over, select the “Start Over” button, and all data will be reset so you can start over at Step 1.
Step 6: Interpreting the Recommendations from the Data Entered
Once you have entered all your data and made your species selections, AqAdvisor will display the results near the bottom of the page.
Warnings: If there are any issues with the data you entered, it will be displayed first and highlighted in red. Examples of warnings may include behavioral suggestions such as if the species should be kept in multiple numbers, species that don’t coexist well, environmental considerations, etc.
Recommended temperature range: Here, you will find the recommended temperature range to keep your tank at for the species you selected.
Recommended pH range: This is the recommended pH levels you should keep for your aquarium.
Recommended hardness range: Here, you will see the ideal levels of dH hardness for your tank.
Filtration capacity: Next, you will see the results of the filtration capacity for your tank. If the number is in black writing, it means the filtration is good. If the number is in red, it means the filtration capacity may be too low.
Filtration capacity percentage: The next line will give you a percentage rate for your filtration. Your aquarium’s filtration capacity should be at least 100%, preferably more. A warning, highlighted in red, will be shown if your filtration levels are not high enough.
Recommended water change schedule: Here, you will see a recommendation for how often you should change the water in your aquarium.
Your aquarium stocking level: Here, you will see a percentage score. This score should be below 100%. Anything above 100% could mean your tank will be overpopulated.
Generate image: Right after the aquarium stocking level percentage, you will see a button that says “Generate image.” If you click on this button, it will produce an image of your fish stock choices. You can use this image on the message boards to discuss with other aquarists and ask questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if you don’t know what filter to select?
The filter selection does not let you search for a filter based on capacity. Because of this, you will need to know ahead of time the filters that will be compatible with the size of your tank. We suggest doing a little research ahead of time and pick a few filters you think would work. Enter in these various filters and compare the results. This is an excellent way to test out the results before purchasing a filter.
How accurate is AqAdvisor?
AqAdvisor can’t be 100% accurate. The calculations are based on ideal conditions and cannot predict any inconsistencies. With that said, AqAdvisor is a great tool. Especially for someone new to the hobby of fish keeping.
Keep in mind you will still have to do a little research of your own outside of AqAdvisor. While AqAdvisor is good at giving warnings with compatibility between species, it isn’t perfect.
What information does AqAdvisor not provide?
AqAdivsor does not give any insight for a planted tank. If you want to include plants in your tank, the calculator will not provide any warnings or suggestions on which plants are best for the selected species.
Final Thoughts on How to use AqAdvisor
AqAdvisor is an excellent resource for anyone looking to set up a fish tank. Using their calculator will give you a good starting point to determine what filtration you will need and what species will thrive in your aquarium.
Whether you are setting up a freshwater or saltwater tank, AqAdvisor provides an easy-to-use tool for any aquarist.
Looking for tips about aquarium maintenance? Head over to our Aquarium Maintenance & Repair section to see more.