you are going to set up a display aquarium rather than a breeding tank, it needs
to be positioned as a focal point in your room. It should not interfere with day-to-day
activities. The lounge, dining room or hallway is a good idea, as it will be
seen most often by the household and visitors. The aquarium should be placed away from windows,
to prevent algae from flourishing in natural
The size on the
aquarium should be determined by the space available in the room and the cost of
the tank. A rectangular tank
of about 80 litres (approx. 17.5 imperial gallons) is a good starting size. Problems such as rocks leaking small amounts of toxic chemicals can be dangerous in a
small tank, but seems to be less of a problem in a larger tank. A tank that is
longer and wider than it is deep is better as has more surface area for air and
will therefore support more fish; an air pump can be added to increase the amount
of oxygen in the aquarium water if required. (Some fish look better in a taller
tank, we have seven angel fish in a small, tall tank and they look
excellent.) If the fish tank has to be moved each litre of water
weighs one kilogram (a gallon weighs ten pounds) so move the tank with little or
preferably no water in it; if you move a tank with water in it you will cause
strain on the glass which may break it!
new and second hand tanks come with a suitable stand. If not remember the tank
is not as light as it was when it was empty, when it is filled with water,
rocks and gravel it can become very heavy. An empty 3ft tank can weigh 8
kilograms, but fully set up, it weighs 105 kilograms! So a strong sturdy stand
is required with an even base for the tank to sit on. It is a good idea to sit a tank
on a thin layer of polystyrene so the bottom of the tank has water distributed
evenly over it.
Aluminium frame tanks are strong, sturdy and reliable. However, all-glass
aquariums look better and are fine. Make sure that the strength of the glass is
adequate for the size of the tank. Clear plastic aquariums are also sold. These
are all right for smaller fish or a breeding tank but scratch and tend
to break more easily.
You need a tank.
The tank needs to be large enough for the fish to swim freely, and large enough to disperse the fish's waste until the filter can process it. You
the filter to process the fish's waste into less harmful forms between your water changes. You also need to provide hiding places for the fish, so
that the fish feel comfortable and do not feel exposed and vulnerable. For tropical fish you need a heater to keep the water warm to mimic
tropical conditions. When you first set up your tank, you will need to prepare it for the fish, before you get any, de-chlorinate the water.
Make sure all the equipment is running. Get the temperature adjusted and stable, if you're keeping tropical fish. The first fish need to get the
tank established and stabilized.
Once the tank is set up and cycled, you need to care for the fish. Caring for the fish includes these tasks:
Regularly clean the aquarium, do partial water changes, and clean the filter. Feed the fish using a variety of healthy foods. Observe your
fish regularly to recognize any odd behaviour. Inspect equipment regularly to make sure everything is functioning correctly and that nothing is in need of repair
or replacement. Caring for your aquarium and fish to keep them healthy is fairly simple. Patience is absolutely necessary
at first in order to get through the cycling process with minimal stress and minimal fish loss. Getting into a routine with your fish will
make them more enjoyable and less stressful in the long run.
How to Set-Up Your New Aquarium
For the simplest setup, I would recommend that you purchase a fifteen, twenty, or twenty-nine gallon glass tank with an internal filter, plastic
top with a fluorescent light, 0.5 inch of aquarium gravel, an air pump and a hanging heater. For the initial setup, you can get an
incandescent light rather than a fluorescent tube to save a little money. On the other hand, if you have some extra money, get
an external filter.
For beginners I recommend a selection of plastic plants and plastic, resin, wood, ceramic or stone decorations available from most
pet shops. Most pet stores will have setups similar to this at a discounted prices. You will also need a stand which can support the
weight of a tank, about 10 pounds per gallon of tank capacity. Larger tanks are less work than smaller tanks or bowls, and can hold many more fish, provide more
stable water conditions and will generally lead to a much more pleasant experience with the fish keeping hobby. Small tanks and bowls will require a great deal of
maintenance and more expert care to keep the tank stable and your fish healthy and happy.
Setting up your aquarium is easy, now that you have your equipment. Place the stand in your home where you will be able to enjoy your fish, and
where you will be able to take care of them. Put the tank where it will look good, not need moved, and will not
get direct sunlight as this will help control algae. Place the tank on the stand, and make sure that there is solid contact between the tank and the stand, possibly
put a piece of polystyrene between the tank and the stand; warped surfaces can break the glass bottom of most fish tanks. Thoroughly rinse the gravel and put it in
the tank. Spread the gravel
out so that you have a relatively even layer. You want the lowest point in the gravel to be near the front of the tank, so debris will collect there, where you
can see it to clean it out. Make sure that the gravel does not have many dips in it as it slopes to the back of the tank, to simplify your cleaning job. If you have
a filter which goes inside the tank, set it up and place it in the tank now. Check the setup instructions on the filter
container to see if you need to do anything else when setting up your filter. Thoroughly rinse everything with cool running tap water before you put
it in the tank. Now you can add the heater and water pumps, if necessary. If you have a hanging heater, hang it off the back, where you can still see it.
You want to be able to see it so you can tell when it is on. Find a location for your air pump. It should be placed above the water level, because water can drain
back out through the air tube if the power goes off, damaging the pump, damaging other things, and draining the tank. Make SURE that your pumps and heaters are all
UNPLUGGED. You can break your heater or air stones by having them running
when you add water, and your filter can easily overheat without water to cool them. Now you should place your decorations in the tank and see what they will look
like without getting your hands wet and making a lot of mess.
Remember that many ceramic or plastic decorations will trap air and either float or tip over as you put water in the tank. Once your decorations are in place, put
the top on the tank. If you bought a kit from a pet shop, you should either have a glass
top with a light strip, or an integrated plastic top. However it is made, the back section should be made of light weight plastic which you can cut to accommodate
power cords, heaters, filters, and air lines. With a pair of scissors or a utility knife, carefully cut out notches as necessary for your setup. At this point, you
should be ready to add water. You can just pour water into the tank without treating it at this time, since you have no fish, plants, or biological filter to worry
about. Add treatment when the tank is full. If you are just pouring the water in, pour it over a rock or some other ornament to
keep from digging a hole in the gravel. If you don't have an appropriate ornament, get a bowl or plate from your kitchen and use that. Once the tank is full, let
it sit for an hour or so, to saturate your air stones and to equalize the heater temperature, then turn everything on. Wait a day or two before getting any fish,
this way you can stabilize the temperature, make sure that nothing leaks, and insure that all of your equipment is working properly.
Once you have your aquarium equipment set up, you are sure that the equipment is operating correctly, that the temperature is stable, and set correctly,
you are ready to introduce your first fish and begin the cycling process.