How to Set up an Aquarium

by freelance writer Riley Herder

 

Keeping a tank full of beautiful fish can be a great decorative focal point, as well as a wonderful way to reduce stress in your home. And while all types of fish require at least a small bit of work to care for, they are relatively low-maintenance. The most important steps you should take are in choosing and setting up your aquarium. This doesn’t have to be a daunting task at all. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be sitting back enjoying the peaceful glow of a vibrant aquatic ecosystem in no time.

 

Step 1: Plan well

First you will need to decide what kind of fish you want to keep in your tank. Ideally you will have a good idea of this before purchasing any equipment, but if you already have a tank that’s okay, too. Just be sure to start small and add in fish steadily to avoid overcrowding.

You can visit pet stores and speak with experts about which kinds of fish thrive together in similar water conditions. Once you have an idea of what will be going in your tank, you can start buying the needed equipment.

If you are using fresh water in your tank, you will at least need a thermometer, a heater, a filter, and whatever other equipment is recommended for the particular types of fish you will be filling the tank with. Do a little research to find out what else is needed for your fish, such as lights, ozone generators, etc.

 

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Step 2: Prepare your tank

Now it’s time to get your tank ready. Choose a spot in your home with no direct sunlight, and near a power source. The tank will be pretty heavy once the water is in, so be sure it is a sturdy, level location.

Clean the tank with only a damp cloth, or at most, with a little vinegar. Avoid any kind of soaps or detergents when cleaning your tank, and take care not to scratch the acrylic panes.

Next, wash and add your gravel, or whatever kind of substrate you will be using based on the types of fish you chose, and add the water. Add at least 1lb of substrate per every gallon of water for a nice thick base. You can add more if you prefer.

At this point, install all the equipment you will be using in the tank. Follow the instructions with each component carefully, and be mindful not to handle electronics in the water while they are plugged in.

Finally, the fun part! You can add in all the decorations you want at this point. Do a little research on the natural environment of the fish you want and try to mimic it with plants, stones and other decorations. Now you can add the water—slowly and carefully.

 

Step 3: Cycle the tank

Now that your tank is looking awesome, there is just one last important thing to do before introducing the fish. Cycle the tank for around four to six weeks. This allows important bacteria to grow inside the tank which converts ammonia into less harmful compounds.

Buy any tank testing kit, which should help you test the ammonia and nitrate levels in the tanks. The levels will likely spike, and then normalize. This will let you know when it is time to start adding fish.

 

Step 4: Introduce fish slowly

It is not a good idea to add in all your fish at once. Especially if you are using a variety of types of fish. Add in a few hardy fish to start, and then add in the rest gradually over the course of a couple weeks. Keep an eye on ammonia levels and make sure the temperature is where it ought to be, and enjoy!

 

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