Imagine a beautiful aquarium full of different species of fish, plants, and decorations. It’s truly a breathtaking sight. Aquariums have been enjoyed by people for ages, but the truth is that most beginners don’t always know all the important information before purchasing it, not to mention how to set it up.

When you are taking care of fish there is a lot to consider and you must know that it’s not as simple as cleaning the tank or providing food. Setting up the fish tank properly is essential if you want to be a responsible pet owner. If you are thinking about buying a fish tank or if you are curious about this topic please continue reading to learn all the tips and tricks. This simple guide will help you discover everything you need to know about your home aquarium.

Prepare The Tank

Find A Location

Finding a proper location for your fish tank is crucial. Don’t put it near windows, because sunlight causes algae to bloom, and avoid any places close to heaters and air vents. Choose a place where it won’t get bumped accidentally and invest in a high-quality aquarium stand. Your tank could leak or crack if it’s tilted even a little bit and that is why it has to have strong support and to be leveled 100%.

Wash Everything

When you get a new aquarium it is important to wash all the accessories in warm water before adding them to your tank. This includes rocks, gravel, or ornaments. Never use detergents or soaps because they are highly toxic for fish. To wash the gravel put it in a colander over a plastic bucket and add water while stirring. Drain it and repeat the process until you see clear water, free of debris.

Fill It With Water

The next step is to fill your aquarium ⅓ full with room temperature water and make sure you use a clean bucket. Be aware that chlorine is toxic to the fish, so you must add a water conditioner to dechlorinate the water.

Connect It

The next step is to connect the airline tubing from the air pump to air stones, decorations, or any outlets inside the tank. You can even safely locate the air pump underneath the aquarium in some cases. Your equipment can stay hidden if you arrange plants and decorations successfully.

Remember that living plants need warm water and that you need to keep them moist until you plant them. If you are wondering how to do it, the answer is easy – a wet newspaper will do the trick. Using a plant fertilizer and proper lighting is always a good idea for optimal growth and root development.

Add The Rest Of The Water

This is a moment where you need to fill your aquarium to the bottom of the top frame. Make sure you leave some airspace between the cover and the water.

Cycle Your Tank And Condition The Water

Now that your aquarium is prepared it’s time to start the cycling process. Many beginners often skip this important step and that can lead to many problems with your fish. “Cycling” your tank means growing the healthy bacteria on a new filtration system to remove dangerous toxins. This process is possible with or without fish in the tank. It can sometimes take a long time (2-3 weeks), but once the process is over your fish will be safe.

If you are using outside filters make sure that:

  • You position them according to the instructions
  • They are filled with a filter cartridge or filter materials
  • They are filled with water

If you decide to use a “hang on tank” filter with a pickup tube you should:

  • Open the filter lid and fill it with water to prime your pump
  • Extend the tube so that it’s close to the bottom, but don’t let it touch the gravel. If your tube is too long you can cut it and reattach it.

Don’t forget to place the thermometer as far away from the heater as possible and secure the heater near the water flow. Invest in a thermometer that is easy to read and plug it in after it has already been placed in the water.

You should be patient with cycling and adjusting the temperature because the water needs to be perfect for the health of your fish. Don’t forget the importance of dechlorinating the water. Tap water is very harmful to fish and it can even cause death. By adding water conditioners to your tank water, you will ensure that your lovely fish will be healthy.

Plug Everything In

The moment has come. It’s time to plug in the air pump, heater, and power filter and start them up. You should never switch on the heater when it’s out of the water. It can malfunction and overheat, not to mention that the glass tube may shatter if you place it in the water while it’s hot.

Check out the air outlets, adjust the settings, and don’t forget to adjust the heater to the proper temperature (sometimes it takes 24 hours for the temperature to stabilize). Check your power filter and make sure the water is flowing properly.

Waiting for 24 hours before adding the fish is crucial because you need to ensure all the equipment is working properly.

Don’t Overstock Your Tank

When you have a new aquarium you may feel tempted to add all the beautiful accessories to it, but that’s not such a good idea. An overcrowded aquarium can cause stress to your fish and they may experience problems with growth and disease. If you go by the general rule (1 inch of fish per 1 gallon of water) you will be doing the right thing. Fish growth is often affected by the tank size and if they don’t have enough space they can become more susceptible to disease, including developing deformities of the spine.

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