You’re looking for a way to spice up a room in your home. A fish tank, specifically a freshwater aquarium, is a great way to bring life to any room.
Perhaps you’ve never setup an aquarium and you don’t know where to start. That’s perfectly fine! We’re here to guide you through the steps.
Equipment for a Freshwater Aquarium
Before you begin, make sure you have everything you’ll need. You are able to buy all-in-one aquarium sets at some places, or you can buy everything individually.
- Aquarium stand – The size of the stand depends on the size of your aquarium. The surface needs to be hard and flat. You could do without a stand by using a countertop.
- Aquarium – For beginners, at least 20-gallon tanks are a good start. However, larger aquariums usually last longer.
- Substrate – Should allow water flow but filter out bacteria. Ideal types include creek stones, coarse sand, and glass gravel.
- Filter – Filters that hang on the back are fine for smaller aquariums. The best ones have mechanical, chemical, and bacterial filtration stages.
- Extra filter media – The media will be frequently replaced in the beginning. These keep the water clean and free of debris.
- Heater – Heaters help limit health risks. They’re necessary if you have tropical fish.
- Decorations – Fake or live plants and other aquatic decor found at a local pet store.
- Freshwater test kit – Important for testing the water before releasing your fish. It should test pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
- Tank vacuum – Very important for routine maintenance. Vacuums remove debris and feces from the gravel, reducing nitrate levels and relieves stress.
- Glass cleaner – Helps quickly and easily touch up the glass on your aquarium.
- Fish net – Used to move live fish, as well as remove dead plants, excess food, and other debris.
- Fish food – Quality fish food is the best to help your fish flourish.
- Bucket – This is used when cleaning some materials before initial setup.
Placing the Fish Tank
Finding the optimal location for your new aquarium is important. You don’t want to have your tank in a loud, overly populated area of your home. Your fish will be uncomfortable.
You’ll also want to be sure electrical outlets are nearby. Some equipment such as the lights and heaters will need to be powered.
The aquarium should not be in direct sunlight. This accelerates algae growth and makes your job of maintaining the tank harder.
There should be at least 5 inches of space between the wall and your aquarium to accommodate the filter.
Wherever you place your aquarium, whether it be a countertop or a stand made for an aquarium, be sure it’s even. A lopsided aquarium is unsafe and can cause hazards.
Adding the Substrate and Water
Once you’ve setup your aquarium and stand where you’d like, it’s almost time to start adding stuff to the tank. We need to make sure your fish will be safe.
First things first, you need to wash the substrate. This removes any surface dust or other unwanted substance that can contaminate your tank. It could potentially harm your fish as well.
Gather the gravel for your freshwater aquarium and empty the pack into the bucket. Apply high water pressure directly to the the substrate. By hand, wash the substrate vigorously.
While keeping the substrate at the bottom of the bucket, empty the dirty water. Repeat this process about five times.
After the gravel is clean, gently add it to your aquarium to not damage it. Smooth it out by hand across the bottom. An upward slope towards the back is recommended for visual appeal.
With the substrate in place, begin filling the aquarium slowly to not displace the gravel. Add a de-chlorinating treatment after it’s filled.
Prepare Your Equipment and Decorations
After you fill the tank with water, it’s time to add your equipment.
Follow the instructions to assemble your filter. After assembling, hang it on the back of your aquarium. Do the same with your heater. Don’t power anything on yet.
If you have a thermometer for your tank, hang it where you can easily monitor it.
Rinse off all of your decorations and other accessories before adding them to your tank like you did with the gravel. Afterwards, start adding them to the tank.
Don’t put too many decorations in your tank. Space them out as you add them. Your fish need room to swim around.
Once everything is how you’d like it, add water to your filter. Power on your equipment and let everything cycle.
Leave it on for 24 hours to allow the water temperature to stabilize. This reduces the shock risk of your fish.
Adding Fish to Your Freshwater Aquarium
You’ve finally made it to the final step of the initial setup. This is a delicate step as you’re moving fish to a new environment.
Your fish need to adjust to the temperature of the new tank. Properly acclimate them by keeping them in the bag and floating it in the fish tank.
Do this for about 15 minutes, then add a quarter of a cup of aquarium water to the bag. Wait about five more minutes.
Once the time is up, use the fish net to move the fish from the bag to the aquarium.
Lastly, after your new aquatic friend is in their new home, place the light and canopy on the aquarium.
Periodically check the water levels to make sure they are where they should be.
You are now the proud owner of a brand new freshwater aquarium. You also have new fish to keep you company and brighten up the room.
Feed your fish routinely and keep a check on them. Their life is now in your hands.