Fish Tank Setup in Five Simple Steps


One of the best things about aquariums is that they are a source of both excitement and learning.  Many people will be daunted by the thought of setting up their first tropical fish tank.  By following the simple steps of purchasing the necessary supplies, finding the best location, adding water to the aquarium, choosing the accessories, and introducing the inhabitants, you will see that anyone can easily handle fish tank setup.

The first step of your fish tank setup is purchasing the basic equipment you will need.  For your first aquarium, I would recommend buying a tank between 10 to 20 gallons.  Most websites carry kits that include all the necessary tropical fish tank supplies.  Once you catch “fish fever” you may want to customize your apparatus, but for your first aquarium, a basic kit is the most economical way to go.  If you don’t have this choice, you should buy: the aquarium with canopy (lid), a tank stand (if you don’t have a dresser or desk), a heater (at 5 watts per gallon), a filter, gravel (enough for one to two inches, and any decorations you want.  If you have all your supplies you are ready to choose the location for your aquarium.

It’s not too difficult to decide where your fish tank should be located.  Do not choose a place in front of any window – limiting the natural light will help avoid algae blooms.  The best spot is one that avoids direct sunlight, is several feet away from heat or air conditioning vents, and fits into the overall flow of your room. Once you have chosen your ideal location, you can start begin the actual fish tank setup.

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Start to fill the aquarium with room temperature water.  Do this with caution – I usually “test fill” an aquarium outside first to check for cracks.  After you have the tank half filled with water, get a bucket and rinse the gravel a few times then transfer just the gravel to the fish tank.  Aim for 1″ to 2″ of gravel.  Next you can add any dechlorinator to the water and finish by filling the aquarium before you add your accessories.

There are two vital accessories needed during fish tank setup – the heater and a filter.  I prefer submersible filters because they can easily be hidden in a corner or near the gravel behind some plants or decorations.  Set them to 80F unless your fish have special requirements.  HOB (hang on the back) filters are a great choice for the beginner fish enthusiast.  They filter out the debris and adequately aerate the water as well!  If you know anyone with a fish tank, tyr to borrow some of the filter media (floss, stones) to help seed your tank with the beneficial bacteria that break down fish wastes.  Run the filters for at least a week before adding any fish!

Congrats – all your hard work has paid off.  You can add the fish to your tropical fish tank.  If the aquarium is for kids, you will probably do well with smaller community fish such as danios, guppies, platties, or mollies – these are bright, and the flowing fins will delight your children.  Other fun fish to choose include smaller cichlids, tetras, and some smaller fancy goldfish.  Non-fish inhabitants that will liven up your tank include apple snails (which come in a variety of colors) and shrimps that double as a clean up crew.

Now you know that setting up your first tropical fish tank doesn’t have to be a dreaded task.  Here is a great site for the best deals on starter aquarium kits!  For decorations, I recommend using eBay here.

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