Setting up your aquarium can be difficult. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the size of the fish tank. This guide will help speed up your setup process. Ensuring you have the right tools for the job is very important. You will also need to think ahead to have the necessary care requirements for your fish. We will start at the beginning assuming you have purchased nothing and then slowly make our way to the final step. This guide will educate and elaborate on the important basics and why they are necessary.
Choosing Your Aquarium
Choosing the right aquarium is the biggest decision you will make. When setting up your aquarium, choosing a large aquarium is more stable but inevitably going to be more expensive. A small aquarium is less stable but more compact. Larger aquariums require more substrate, fish, food.. everything. They also need larger electronics which consume more electricity. Keeping this in mind, an aquarium of at least 15-20 Gallons is recommended for a beginner. This size will allow a stable environment while keeping options for housing more exotic fish varieties. Aquariums are very heavy when filled with water. A specially designed stand is recommended to be purchased with the aquarium (usually at a good packaged discount). Alternatively aquariums can be placed on flat surfaces with appropriate padding and levelness but great care should be taken when doing so. Ensure you have either a strong stand or appropriate surface before you begin setting up your aquarium.
Choosing Correct Accessories
Choosing the correct gear to go with your tank is important. Setting up your aquarium cannot be done without essentials such as heaters, lights, filters, gravel, filtration media and more. Although it depends on the store which you purchase the aquarium, it is often better to hold off and purchase the accessories online. I personally use Amazon for all my aquarium purchases. You are guaranteed a good price, are never pressured into buying and can scope out different brands in peace. I recommend you use this great tool here to work out your required flow and heating wattage.
I have written an extensive write up on this page here which goes into much more detail on accessories and necessities you will need setting up your tank.
Placing the Aquarium
When setting up the aquarium, its location must be chosen carefully. Once filled with water, the aquarium is extremely heavy and will not be able to be moved easily. Choose a location that is away from any sunlight to avoid excess algae growth. Choose an area that is cool with good ventilation. Ensure there is a power point nearby and the floor is reinforced to take the weight of the tank. It is ideal to have a bathroom or sink nearby for water changes. Fish will become less timid in areas of the house with more traffic. Try to avoid corners or areas which you ‘suddenly’ appear and may spook the fish.
Setting up your Aquarium Hardware & Decorating
Assuming you have purchased the necessities such as gravel filters, gravel, an air pump, and an incandescent bulb to light up the tank it is time to set up the vitals. Vigorously wash the gravel under a tap in a bucket.
You will notice dust, contaminants and fine particles will be removed from the gravel. Place the washed gravel in the tank and slowly fill it up with water from the tap. Now is an excellent time to use a water conditioner to ensure there is no chlorine in the water. After that, install the air pump and the gravel filter. After everything has been installed, install the lights the last and set a timer that switches them on from 6-8 hours per day.
For the air pump it is important to make sure you it is placed above the water level. This is to make sure the water cannot be siphoned down into the pump and break it. After installing the hardware it is time to decorate the tank. You can customize the aquarium any way you please. Begin by adding small caves, rocks, and plants to the aquarium. If you’re really feeling artistic, you can add mini castles or houses. All of these can be bought at any local pet store.
Cycling Your Aquarium
Lastly, you are going to have to cycle your aquarium. Cycling your aquarium means you have to kick start a bacteria culture in the aquarium that will remove toxins that are made by the fish (Nitrites & Ammonia). You can read in depth about cycling your aquarium here.