Freshwater Aquarium Set UpMany novice keepers are under the impression that setting up a freshwater aquarium only means going to an aquarium supplier, filling the tank with water and then place the fish inside straight away. Unfortunately this is not the case but preparing beforehand ensures that your aquarium will run successfully and with a small amount of maintenance will remain looking fresh and clean. Planning is the key to success so never enter this hobby without doing any research and ensure that you have the time and inclination to keep your fish happy and healthy. There are several key steps that need to be followed and these will be covered below.
Work out a budget, this should include the initial costs of purchasing the aquarium as well as running costs, remember that you will have to buy food for the fish, filter media will need replacing at certain time intervals and there is also the cost of the electricity required to run your tank. There is no point setting up a large aquarium just to find out that you cannot afford to run it so it is sometimes best to start of with a smaller aquarium first and then upgrade at a later date. Research which fish you would like to keep, this will determine how large an aquarium you will require, when looking through the fish profiles always check the adult size, your aquarium must be large enough to house the fish comfortably. Measure the location in the room where the tank is going to be sited, allow enough room around the tank for maintenance and make sure that no direct sunlight can hit the tank, this will cause algal problems in the future. Make sure that the floor is capable of supporting the weight of the tank and that you have a suitable stand to place your tank onto, this doesn’t always have to be one supplied for the aquarium, some keepers will place their tanks on solid cupboards etc., as long as the tank or cupboard is strong enough to cope with the weight you will be alright and know that the tank will not collapse.
Once you have your aquarium and know where it is going to be placed move it into position and give it a good rinse out, this applies to both new and second hand tanks. Dust will have accumulated inside the tank even though it may not be visible and it will need to be removed with clean water and this should then be rinsed well. While you are cleaning the tank check for any water leaks, hopefully there shouldn’t be any but it is always best to check before proceeding any further.
Hardware that you will need for your tank is a reliable filter, lighting and if you are running a tropical freshwater set up you will need a reliable heater as well. Nowadays aquariums are sold as complete kits that include all of these but if not they can be purchased easily enough, a;ways check that the equipment you buy is rated for the size of the aquarium that you are using. Trying to save pennies on the equipment will cost you dearly if they break down, this could mean that the aquarium set up stops running and fish losses will occur. Attach all of the equipment inside the tank but do not turn these on until the tank has been filled with water, this is one of the next steps in the process.
Once the aquarium is clean and the equipment is in place, add the substrate and décor, whether you are using sand or gravel, these will need to be rinsed to remove any dust. If they are not the filter will become clogged once it has been switched on as all of this dust will accumulate in the filter sponge. Try to make the substrate deeper at the back of the tank so that any detritus will fall to the front of the tank, this will make cleaning the detritus away an easier chore.
Fill the tank with clean and treated water. Water conditioner must be used every time you add water to the tank, this will make remove any chlorine and chloramines from the water, these are harmful to the fish. The water should be added slowly so that the substrate is not disturbed, this can be done simply by placing a saucer onto the substrate and pouring the water slowly into that. Only partially fill the aquarium until you are completely happy with the décor inside the aquarium, you may need to move the décor around and partially filling the aquarium will prevent you from getting your arms wet, every little helps!! Once you are happy with the décor the tank can be filled to the top. Turn on the heater and filter, check that they are working correctly and also check that the wiring to them is tucked away safely, make sure that no water has come into contact with the wiring. For the next 24 hours keep checking the temperature of the water, it may be required for you to adjust the heater slightly up or down so that the correct temperature is maintained.
Now is the time for you to be patient, before you add any fish to the aquarium it must be cycled. If you read through the “cycling” article on this site it will take you through the whole process but basically you are ensuring that the filters can cope with the fish waste that your new fish will produce. This can take up to 4 weeks so during this time go and check out the fish you are after and build up a cleaning kit for your aquarium, you will need this once the tank is up and running.
You may find that while the tank is cycling outbreaks of algae will become visible, this is perfectly normal, cleaning the tank and décor will control these and once the tank has fully cycled they should not re-appear.