Knowing where to start on choosing your aquarium equipment, setting it all up and then how to provide it with aftercare can feel a bit overwhelming at first. We’ve put together a comprehensive beginner’s guide to help you step by step with your aquarium.
The first step is to assess your own circumstances before you decide on what aquarium is best for you. There are a few different factors you need to consider:
Where exactly are you going to put your new aquarium and how much free space do you have. This needs to be a spot away from direct sunlight, distanced from anything that can alter the tank’s temperature such as a radiator, and away from anywhere that could potentially be too loud that will stress your fish out.
Once you know where you can put your aquarium you’ll have an idea of what size you can have. With your aquarium the bigger size you can get is usually the best as the bigger the tank the more water that the tank can hold. This means more water to dilute the fish’s waste down to reduce the chemicals that they’re swimming about in. More water also means more oxygen, helping to keep your fish in top health.
Aquariums come in a range of styles and designs to choose from, this one is simply down to your own preference. Consider the maintenance and size of your fish during this option and choose wisely.
When deciding on your aquarium, you need to think about what type of fish you are wanting to keep. The different species react differently in terms of territory and the way they live with other fish, so it’s definitely necessary to do a bit of research beforehand on how they live, how big they grow to and what type of space they need.
You not only need to think of the initial cost of the tank in your budget but also the long term running costs of the tank, fish and equipment.
The filter is an essential component of a healthy aquarium; whether internal or external the filter makes tank maintenance a breeze, providing healthy water for your tank’s inhabitants to thrive in. Explore our range of both internal or external filters today and assess which is the best for your tanks.
If you’re not too sure of which filter you need then find out what the best aquarium filter is for you here.
The air pump provides your tank with that extra flow of oxygen, helping keep the water levels healthy and free from toxic gases. Including an air pump in your tank is vital to keep the water well oxygenated and to make the perfect home for your fish and plants alike. Investing in a good air pump will be a valuable purchase in the health of your aquarium, working in partnership with a range of accessories, your air pump will keep your tank in top shape.
Fish are unable to produce their own body heat, meaning that they depend on the water temperature to stay regulated. This makes installing a heater into your aquarium essential. Explore our full range of heating equipment to find the right choice that works in accordance with your chosen tank.
It’s crucial you keep track of your aquarium’s water temperature to make sure its inhabitants are well regulated. Many things can affect the temperature of the water in your tank, such as the lighting, therefore it is imperative that you install a thermometer to keep track. Find one in our heating equipment collection.
Lighting can be a complicated addition to your aquarium, but it is also an important one. Lighting helps simulate the real world conditions your aquarium ecosystem would be used to; providing an alternative to sunlight and help regulate their day/night cycle. For more in depth advice check out our Guide To Aquarium Lighting and purchase from our aquarium lighting range today.
Gravel not only makes your aquarium aesthetically pleasing but also provides a place for the beneficial bacteria that is needed in your tank to live and grow. This bacteria goes on to break down your fish’s waste and regulate the health of the water. Explore our range of tank substrates today.
Now you know what you need and where you’re putting your tank, it's time to know the how...
Firstly, make sure to clean down the inside of the tank before you begin to set up; refrain from using soap or cleaning agents as these will add unwanted chemicals to the water.
Next, you need to add your gravel. Make sure to rinse it thoroughly before adding it to your tank – until the water runs clear. You will need to add approximately 1 pound of gravel for every gallon of water; this will help keep the tank’s water healthy and balanced.
Before you fill the aquarium make sure to pop something on top of your gravel so that your stream of water doesn’t displace it. Then fill your tank with dechlorinated, room temperature water to avoid condensation. Never fill your tank with plain, untreated tap water because this can kill your fish.
A healthy aquarium needs proper filtration: this includes three levels of mechanical, chemical and biological filtering.
Mechanical filtration: a filter cartridge can be the ideal way to mechanically filter your aquarium, trapping the solid debris that can infiltrate your tank’s water and removing it. This can be anything from food waste to fish excrement.
Chemical filtration: Chemical filtration involves the use of special media such as carbon, which absorb water pollutants. essentially stopping any water discolouration and horrible smells.
Biological filtration: Biological filtering will occur from the bacteria that grow within your tank’s gravel. It eliminates toxic ammonia and nitrate levels that can then be reset when you clean your tank out.
At this stage, you’re ready to install your tank’s heater and lighting. Make sure you follow all the safety precautions advised on your chosen additions before plugging them in at the electricity source. This step will make sure the right factors are in place for your aquarium’s ecosystem to survive.
Wait 24 hours to let your tank get accustomed and then you’ll be ready to add your fish! Start off with only a few and slowly introduce more over the next four to six weeks – taking precautions not to overcrowd the tank.
Make sure the temperature you’re moving your fish from is the same as what you’re putting them into to avoid any shock or trauma. To get this balance right, float whatever you’re fish is being held in in the tank for 15 minutes. Slowly open the bag your fish is in to allow tank water to mix in every five minutes. Afterwards, release the fish into the tank gently using a net and allow the fish to swim from the net to the tank.
Now you’re all set up your work is not done. Proper aquarium maintenance requires regular monitoring of the water conditions and regular cleaning even if you have every type of filter system.
You need to ensure you’re replacing a quarter of the water in your aquarium once a month to keep the correct and safe levels of nitrate for your tank’s inhabitants to be healthy. Investing in a range of maintenance tools will be vital to the health of your aquarium, including a gravel vacuum which can remove debris at the bottom of your tank and even a tank brush to help clean algae from the tank which is causing murky water or cloudy glass.
Other factors to consider in maintaining your aquarium include:
Conditioning the tank water:
you must always remember the step of dechlorinating your tank’s water before filling it up. This ensures that nothing in the tap water will harm your fish and will keep them safe.
Maintaining the correct pH levels:
Purchasing a pH test kit will be vital in making sure the balance of your tank is correct for the life you have inhabited with. Freshwater fish generally do best in pH levels between 6.8 and 7.5, but it’s best to do your research and take note of what each species lives best in.