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Back To Fish
Setting up your new aquarium

Setting up your new aquarium

Fish keeping can be a very rewarding hobby. Follow our easy step by step guide below to get started.

How to set up your aquarium

Once you get your new aquarium home follow these steps when setting it up:

  1. Location and Stand
    Choose the place you are going to place it carefully; it needs to be:

    1. Out of direct sunlight
    2. In an area which won’t be too disturbed by people running past
    3. Near a power supply
    4. In a draught free, relatively consistent temperature area

    Now place the tank onto its stand, making sure that there is a solid smooth contact to both surfaces

  2. Adding Gravel and Installing the filter. 

    Rinse your gravel well in fresh water to remove any dust or dirt particles from the gravel - you want to rinse the gravel until the water coming off of it runs clear. 

    Place the gravel in your tank in a gradient sloping from lower at the front to higher at the back of your tank. Take into consideration placing any live plants into an area with a thicker layer of gravel.

    Set up your filtering system (whether it is internal or external), but do not run it until the water has been added.

  3. Add water, heat and ornaments

    If you plan on keeping tropical fish, you should add your heater in at this stage but leave it unplugged (make sure the heater is never turned on while being exposed to air).

    Ensure the heater is placed near the bottom of the aquarium and as horizontal as possible. It should not touch anything other than the suction cups with so it's not at risk of burning anything in the tank. Make sure it is also not resting against the gravel.

    Place your ornaments where you think they may look good (rinse all of these in fresh running water)

    Now add water – just cold tap water is fine.

    Pour this in gently so you don’t create wells in your gravel.

  4. Set up external filtration and lighting

    Set up your external filtering system / air pump and internal filter as per the instructions in the product manual

    Set up your lighting system

    Now turn everything on and make sure that it is all working okay

  5. Add water and bacterial agent

    Add a water conditioner such as AquaPlus or StressCoat to de-chlorinate your water

    Add a beneficial bacterial agent such as Cycle or StressZyme

    Note: Your water may appear murky for the first couple of days until it settles. Once all is okay and the temperature has come up to the required temperature for your fish choice then:

  6. Begin the cycling process

    Follow the instructions on the “The Nitrogen Cycle” care guide.

Most aquariums come with the following fundamentals:

  • Aquarium with lid
  • Filter
  • Filter media

Other recommended supplies:

  • Stand or cabinet (optional but recommended - alternatively you will need a strong and sturdy flat surface for the aquarium to be placed on)
  • Heater (for tropical fish)
  • Thermometer
  • Water conditioner such as Nutrafin AquaPlus
  • Biological active bacteria such as Nutrafin Cycle
  • Gravel
  • Ornaments / rocks / driftwood
  • Fish nets
  • Backing paper or background
  • Light and lighting unit
  • Algae cleaning pad or magnet
  • Gravel syphon
  • Variety of foods
  • A surge protector multiplug power strip
  • Plug timer for the aquarium lights (optional)
  • Bucket used exclusively for your aquarium related jobs

Please note that fish and plants should be added after the cycling process has been completed, which you can read about here.