Setting-Up a Freshwater Aquarium

Step-by-Step Directions*

Once you have acquired the necessary equipment and decided the location of your new freshwater aquarium, it's time to begin setting everything up.

Step 1: Wash tank

Wash out your tank with water only! Do not use soap or detergents since they may leave harmful residues behind.

Step 2: Wash Gravel, plants and decorations

Wash the gravel thoroughly before adding it to your tank. An easy way to do this is to put some of the rocks in a pasta strainer and wash them out in your bath tub.

Add water to the aquarium

To avoid messing up the gravel and plants you have already set up,place a plate or saucer in the middle of your aquarium and direct the water flow onto the plate. Use room temperature water when filling. Use water conditioner to remove the chlorine and chloramine from the water.

Step 3: Set up equipment

Install your heater but don't plug it in until the thermostat in the heater has adjusted to the water temperature (usually about 15 minutes). Hook up your filter and any other equipment you have. Top off the aquarium water to just under the hood lip. Place your hood and tank light on the aquarium and then check your power cords to be sure that they are free of water.

Step 4: The waiting game

Before adding any fish, you must wait until your aquarium has gone through the nitrogen cycle.

Step 5: Adding the fish

Only add one or two fish at a time. This allows your filtration system to take adapt to the increased biological load that the new fish introduce. After bringing you new fish home from the store, let the bag float in the tank for about fifteen minutes. This will allow the fish to become acclimated with the temperature and the pH of the aquarium water. After five minutes of floating the bag, add some of the aquarium water into the bad so that the fish get used to the pH level in the aquarium. Doing this will help reduce the amount of stress imposed on the fish, which often leads to dead or diseased fish.

And voi-la. You're are now ready to show off your new freshwater aquarium to friends and family.


For those of you who are visual learners, here's a video from Doctors Foster and Smith with instructions on how to set-up an aquarium.

This other video, narrated by Chris, might give you an insight into owning a freshwater aquarium.

*Information based on Fish Lore's Web site.