Aquarium Basics - Freshwater Tropical Fish Tank
How To Setup A Freshwater Tropical
by Mike Magnum, FishLore.com Editor
is an 11 step guide to setting up a freshwater aquarium
in your home.
Equipment you will need:
STEP 1: Realize the responsibility involved. A
tropical fish tank is just like having a dog or a cat
when it comes to the amount of effort on your part. In
order to have a successful fish tank you will have to
work at it. Once a week, or at most once every two weeks,
you will need to perform some kind of maintenance on the
tank. Most of the time you will be performing water changes.
You will also have to feed your tropical fish at least
once a day. If you are up to the challenge, please proceed!
- Aquarium gravel
- Aquarium filter
- Replacement filter media
- Other decorations (such as plants)
- Chemical test kits
- Fish food
- Aquarium vacuum
- Fish net
- Glass Scrubber
- 5-gallon bucket
- Pasta strainer
STEP 2: Decide on an aquarium size. It's a good
idea to have in mind what kind of tropical fish you want
to keep before you purchase an aquarium. Some tropical
fish only grow to be an inch or two, whereas other types
of tropical fish can grow 12 or 13 inches in length! Knowing
what kind of tropical fish you want will help you decide
the size of the tank they will need. If this is your first
time with an aquarium, I would recommend going with a
10 or 20 gallon aquarium for now.
STEP 3: Decide on the aquarium's location. Place
your aquarium in an area where the light and temperature
of the tank won't be affected by external sources such
as windows and heater vents. You will want to place your
aquarium on a stand that will be able to hold its total
weight. A good rule of thumb for determining the total
weight of a full aquarium is 10 pounds per gallon of water.
For example, a 55-gallon tank will weigh approximately
550 pounds when filled with water!
STEP 4: Buy your aquarium and equipment. Now is
the time to decide on the type of filtration you will
want to use. You will also need to purchase a heater capable
of heating the tank size you have. Buy the gravel, plants,
a power strip and other decorations. A good rule of thumb
for the amount of gravel that you will need is 1 to 1.5
pounds of gravel per gallon of water.
STEP 5: Set up your aquarium and stand. Wash out
your tank with water only! Do not use soap or detergents.
Soap residue left behind will be harmful for your tropical
fish. If you are going to use an under gravel filter (not
recommended) now would be the time to set it up as well.
STEP 6: Wash Gravel, plants and decorations. Be
sure to 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 bathtub.
Then place the clean gravel in a clean 5-gallon bucket
for transport to the aquarium. After adding the gravel
you can place your plants and decorations.
STEP 7: Add water to the aquarium. To avoid messing
up your gravel and plants, you can 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.
To remove the chlorine and chloramine, use something like
Tetra AquaSafe for Aquariums. Don't completely fill up
the aquarium until you are sure of the layout of your
decorations. Otherwise, when you place your arm in to
move stuff around water is going to spill over. Doh!
STEP 8: Set up equipment. Install your heater but
don't plug it in until the thermostat in the heater has
adjusted to the water temperature. This usually takes
about 15 minutes or so. Hook up your filter and any other
equipment you have, then top off the aquarium water to
just under the hood lip. Place your hood and light on
the aquarium and then check your power cords to be sure
that they are free of water. I would also recommend using
a drip loop on all of the power cords to be extra cautious.
Plug all of the equipment into a power strip and then
"turn on" the aquarium.
STEP 9: Wait, wait, wait and then wait some more.
I know, you want to add some tropical fish. But, in order
to do this right you must wait until your aquarium has
cycled before adding any fish. There are ways of speeding
up this process. Check out the nitrogen cycle page to
learn more. If you must use fish to cycle, try to get
a hardier species like the zebra danio or cherry barb.
STEP 10: Add tropical fish. Only add one or two
fish at a time. Adding a couple tropical fish at a time
gives your filtration system the time needed to take on
the increased biological load that the new fish introduce.
When you bring the fish home let the bag float in the
tank for about 15 minutes so that the fish can become
acclimated to the temperature and pH of the aquarium water.
After 5 minutes of floating the bag you should add some
of the aquarium water to the bag so that the fish can
become acclimated to the pH level in the aquarium. This
will help reduce the amount of stress imposed on the tropical
fish. Stressed tropical fish often leads to dead tropical
fish! Don't feed your tropical fish on the first day.
They probably wouldn't eat any food on the first day anyway.
Let them get acquainted with their new home.
STEP 11: Get ready for regular maintenance. Be
prepared to spend some time once every week or two to
clean your tank. Performing regular water changes will
reduce the nitrate levels and keep your tropical fish
happy and healthy.
For more tropical fish and aquarium information, please
visit FishLore.com - Tropical Fish & Aquarium Information.
About the Author
Mike is an editor at FishLore.com. Designed for beginners,
FishLore.com provides tropical fish information, how-to
guides, articles, fish profiles, FAQs, forums and more!
www.FishLore.com - Tropical Fish & Aquarium Information