Beginner's Guide to Setting up a Fish Tank

Setting Up Your Tank

Whether you are a beginner or a veteran fishkeeper, you will need to know the basics. We will guide you through the basics of setting up a tank. Carefully read through the steps to learn how to clean, position, decorate, and maintain your tank. We will also talk about the basic water parameters such as pH, and ammonia.

  1. First Steps
    Thoroughly wipe your tank with a damp cloth (do NOT use any chemicals or soaps) and ensure there is no dust. Add your aquarium background to the back of your tank. If your tank includes lighting, check that it is working by plugging it in and turning it on. 
  2. Positioning your Tank
    Be aware of the temperature in your room. Place your tank away from any air conditioning units, heaters, and windows. Any small changes in temperature may stress the fish. If your tank comes with a stand, be sure to assemble and place it in the desired area.
  3. Rinse Substrates and Ornaments
    If you are adding any substrates or ornaments to your tank, make sure they are clean before adding them to your tank. Using hot water (and free of any chemicals or soaps), thoroughly rinse your substrates and ornaments. Carefully pour the substrate into your tank, making sure to avoid damage to the bottom of your tank.
  4. Fill up with Water
    Fill your tank up with tap water (or premade water). For ease of access, use a hose or transfer water using a bucket (ensure that the bucket is clean). Fill your tank slowly to avoid any cloudiness from the substrate.
  5. Turn on Filter and Heater
     Now that your tank is filled up with water, you may turn on any electrical equipment, while the light can stay off. If leaving the light on, ensure that you only leave it on for up to eight hours a day, as any longer may promote algae growth.
  6. Treat the Water
    Add in all treatments now, and ensure to clearly read the instructions on your treatment bottles. As a general rule, water conditioner and a biofilter product to establish beneficial bacteria are essential.
  7. Cycle the Tank
    Before your tank is ready to add any fish, allow your tank to cycle and create a healthy biological filter. To start off, add a pink of fish food to the water, which promotes beneficial bacteria growth. You may also start adding small amounts of fish at this point before adding more fish.
  8. Test Your Water
    After adding fish into your tank, fish waste and products may produce ammonia. Although the beneficial bacteria will continue to consume ammonia, it's important to check that the ammonia levels are stable.
  9. Done!
    Now that you have finished all the steps, your tank is ready to go. Be sure to test your water every 2-3 days, including the KH, pH, NH3/NH4 and NO2. Note that these parameters may be different depending on the fish in your aquarium.

Recommended Equipment

  • A sturdy aquarium stand. Be sure to place your tank near a power source, away from direct sunlight and displays (such as a computer and TV). Pick a sturdy base for your aquarium (water weights about 8 pounds per gallon).
  • Gravel, rocks, décor, and plants not only makes your aquarium look good, they provide a sense of safety for fish (especially for cichlids and community fish)
  • Filtration 
  • Heat and lighting

Helpful Tips

Maintaining and cleaning your tank from algae and waste can be simple! Bottom dwellers make the job so much easier. Plecos, corydoras, catfish, loaches, ornamental shrimp and snails are very helpful additions. They feed on algae and food that get past your fish during the feeding cycle. But always consider if they are compatible for your tank. Consult one of our employees for specific details. We are always looking to help!

Recommended Tank Size

  • Arowana - 250 Gallons
  • Betta Fish - 3 Gallons
  • Cichlid - 55 Gallons
  • Stingray - 225 Gallons

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