New Fish Checklist: How to Set Up a Fish Tank
If you’re starting a new aquarium, the amount of information on the internet can be overwhelming. Wouldn’t it be nice if an experienced aquarist could lead you step-by-step through the entire process? Keep reading to learn our top tips for setting up the perfect fish home.
Although some instructions might seem a bit complicated, they are important to follow in order to avoid common pitfalls for beginners. Our experience in running fish stores has taught us that success is crucial for all hobbyists. People will eventually give up on fish keeping if they make too many mistakes.
How long do you have to wait to put fish in a new tank?
Preparations for starting a new aquarium can take about one to two weeks for gathering the proper materials, installing the equipment, and starting the aquarium cycling process. To establish a healthy environment, your fish will need to be quarantined. This is why you should not rush the process and order fish online or buy them too soon.
Before purchasing fish, wait until your aquarium is properly installed.
How Much Does It Cost to Set up a Fish Tank?
People assume that fish are inexpensive pets and that they will not be expensive for their fish tanks and fish tank accessories. You should expect to spend at least $200 if you are looking to buy new aquarium supplies.
Shopping List: What do you need before buying fish
Before you decide the size aquarium you want, first determine the location that is best for you. A flat, completely waterproof, and hard surface should be chosen for fish tanks. If your aquarium is not located on the ground level, check that the floor can handle its weight. A freshwater tank containing water, substrate, equipment and decor can be more than 10 pounds per gallons of water.
To avoid any drastic temperature changes, don’t place the aquarium in direct sunlight, next to the air conditioning and heating vent, or in front of a constantly opening door that leads outside. If you intend to keep shy fish, make sure it is kept away from flashing TV screens and lighting that causes moving shadows. Also, ensure your fish tank is within easy reach of an electrical outlet.
Once you’ve settled on the final spot, you can measure the area and decide the size aquarium you want. While a 10-gallon tank is a popular choice for beginners, larger aquariums are better because they can hold more fish and reduce the amount of toxic chemicals in their waste. Petco in the USA offers sales up to four times per annum where fish tanks as small as a gallon are available for just $1. The most expensive tanks, such as those with low iron glass or empty aquariums, are the ones we recommend to beginners.
Rimmed and affordable, glass aquariums make a great choice for veterans as well.
One question we get often is “Should I Choose a Glass or Acrylic Aquarium?” Both have their pros and cons. Glass aquariums tend to be cheaper and less likely to scratch. They also have a rim which helps level out unevenness between aquarium glass and the substrate it is placed on. Rimmed glass tanks must be firmly supported on all four corners, so do not place a Styrofoam or other pliable mat underneath it. If the tank has water in it, the rim may sink into the Styrofoam. This can cause cracking.
Acrylic aquariums are more expensive but can be used for very large volumes of tanks. The bonded seams make them stronger and less susceptible to breaking. They are also lighter in weight and better insulated against temperature changes. Acrylic tanks and rimless tanks are meant to be supported on the entire bottom panel. A Styrofoam mat or yoga mat can be used as a buffer to prevent unevenness between the aquarium’s surface and the tank.
2. Aquarium Lid
A lot of people think that they can cut down on the cost of an aquarium top or hood by skipping the tank lid. However, it is possible to save money by keeping your fish safe and preventing heat from evaporating. These important benefits are yet another reason we don’t recommend lidless, rimless tanks for beginners.
Glass lids cost very little and are clear enough to be easily seen. A glass top often comes with a back plastic strip that can be modified to make holes for filtration, airline tubing, or electrical cords. To prevent invertebrates and fish from getting out, make sure that the openings are closed tightly.
Acrylic lids are more costly and tend to droop into the water over time. It is difficult to make hinged flaps for fish feeding due to its flexibility. Lexan sheets of polycarbonate are more affordable than glass and don’t absorb water as well.
Some fish species, such as goldfish, Japanese ricefish and white cloud-mount minnows, can tolerate cooler temperatures. However, most freshwater fish prefer tropical, warmer temperatures between 74 and 80 degrees F. If your home’s temperature is lower than that range, you should get an aquarium heater to keep your fish healthy. A thermometer can be used to determine if your aquarium heater is functioning properly or if it has been turned off.
An adjustable heater is best because you can adjust the water temperature to keep different species of fish alive or treat sick fish.
If you require water temperature to reach 10 degrees F above ambient, and you want to keep the tank’s lid from evaporating cooling, you should consider a fish tank heater that produces approximately 5W heat per 1 Gallon of water. For example, if you have a 5-gallon betta fish aquarium that meets those conditions, you could get a 25W heater. A 50W heater is recommended for betta tanks that are kept in a school classroom or office with lots of air conditioner.
In general, it’s safer to err on the side of getting a heater that’s the next size up than a weaker one that constantly struggles to raise the temperature. Fortunately, heaters cost relatively the same amount regardless of size or wattage level. It is better to buy two 100W heaters, rather than one 200W heater, if your aquarium requires 200W heat. If one heater fails, the second heater can be used as a backup heater to prevent water from freezing. For more help on choosing the right aquarium heater, read the full article.
A canister filter is not the best choice for beginners to fish keeping. They can be more difficult to clean and maintain than other filters and aren’t necessarily the best. People who have never maintained a fish aquarium before will benefit from a hang-on–back (HOB), filter. They are very easy to install and customize. Although sponge filters are an affordable and reliable option, they can be difficult to set up the first time. Many people also forget to install a check valve to prevent water from rushing into their tanks. Find out which fish tank filter is best for you in our article.
HOB filters may come with disposable cartridges.
Living aquatic plants require lighting to thrive. You can either use an aquarium kit with built-in lighting or a fish tank that comes with a light. To keep your aquarium plants healthy, you can install an LED-powered plant light with a timer. You can find out more about selecting the best planted aquarium light.
6. Substrat and Decorations
Substrat means the ground covering that goes beneath your fish tank. You can choose from aquarium gravel, sand or plant substrate. Sometimes, aquarium decorations, rocks, driftwood and substrate can be covered with dust particles. To avoid cloudy water, rinse the water. Avoid using soap or other cleaning products to clean your aquarium decorations. The residue could be dangerous for fish.
Aquarium backgrounds can be great as they hide any tangled wires or tubing from view, and also keep fish away from shadows on the walls behind them.
You can buy a fish tank background from the pet store, cut out a sheet of black trash bag or colored poster board, or paint directly on the rear panel of the tank. We prefer dark colors such as black, because the fish and plants stand out against a dark background. Algae isn’t so obvious.
7. Other Aquarium Accessories
To disinfect tap water, many water treatment facilities now use chloramine, which is deadly to fish and does not evaporate as readily as chlorine. Make sure to get a water dechlorinator to keep your tap water safe. Your fish require food, so we recommend some high-quality fish food. An aquarium water test kit is also very useful for determining if poor water quality is making the fish sick.
All water conditioners can do a good job dechlorinating tapwater, but we prefer to use bottles with a pump head so that it is easy to douse without measuring.
An aquarium siphon is a must-have if you want to save a significant amount of time with tank maintenance. Use this simple length of hose with a bucket to vacuum the substrate and remove fish waste that has collected over time. This tutorial will show you how to use it.
How can you start a freshwater aquarium for beginners?
1. Set up the aquarium stand or clean the counter space where the tank will go. 2. Rinse out any dust from the aquarium and accessories, and install the tank background. 3. Put the tank on the aquarium stand, and pour in the substrate. 4. Add decorations to conceal the heater and filter in the tank. 5. Fill the aquarium with room temperature water and dose the dechlorinator. 6. Plant the aquarium plants. This guide will show you how to set up an aquarium with live plants.
Partially water the fish tank with between 4 and 6 inches of water. This will help to support the plant leaves, while you insert the roots into the substrate.
1. Install the lid and light, and wait 30 minutes before turning on the equipment. (The heater takes time to adjust to the temperature of the water. 2. You should wait 24 hours before you test everything to ensure that there are no leaks. 3. Start cycling the aquarium (e.g. These instructions will help you to grow beneficial bacteria and/or plants in an aquarium that is safe for fish. 4. Once the aquarium has a healthy ecosystem that can process fish waste, gradually start adding fish. For any illnesses that may be present, it is a good idea to quarantine all new fish before they are allowed into the main tank. For information on quarantine aquariums, read this article.
Frequently Asked Question
How do you set up a betta aquarium?
See our detailed instructions here. –
How do you set up an aquarium for goldfish?
Our fancy goldfish care manual is available. –
How do I set up a planted aquarium?
You can read our step-by -step article.
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