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9 tips for setting up a new fish tank

fish tank on table
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It is a great joy to set up a new fish tank, and choosing to bring this small ecosystem to your home or office needs to be a well-guided process. While establishing an aquarium is not difficult, it is critical to master the proper techniques to avoid failure and frustrations as a new fish keeper. Here are nine tips for setting up a new fish tank.

1. Do your research

Before setting up a fish tank, make sure you do your research and understand the required conditions for the fish you would love to own. The excitement of owning an aquarium must never blind you from the realities of what it takes to care for your pet, depending on its species and behavior.

2. Get the right fish tank size

After researching the fish you would love to own, the next step is getting the right tank size that suits their living requirements. To be safe as a beginner, opting for a bigger tank is better as most species require at least one gallon of water per inch of fish. Remember, different fish species have stocking guidelines that you should stick to when determining the size of tank to go for.

3. Choose the right spot for your fish tank

Whether you want to create a cozy atmosphere in your living room or have a unique office setup, choosing the right spot for your fish tank is vital. Prioritize finding a flat and solid surface that can support the tank’s weight as it will be very heavy once water is added. You should also avoid keeping your tank near windows and direct sunlight to limit exposures that might hasten algae growth.

4. Carefully choose your decorations

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of setting up a new fish tank by getting too many decorations. This should never be the case, especially if you are a beginner, as the more decorations you include, the harder it will be to take care of your tank. Settle for a minimalist look by only adding an aquarium substrate such as pebbles or gravel and a few décor items such as a sunken ship or plastic plants.

5.Cycle your aquarium

Never make the costly amateur mistake of trying to set up your tank and put in fish the same day. You will need to condition your water and cycle your aquarium, which allows your aquarium to establish the right balance before adding fish. This process can last for a few days or up to six weeks, and it needs to be closely monitored. Typically, you will need to:

  • Continuously run your filter and heater after setting up your aquarium
  • Introduce over-the-counter bacterial products
  • Introduce ammonia into the system to create waste similar to what fish produces and ensure your cultured bacteria do not die
  • Regularly test the water to know the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels

Click here to learn more on how to lower ammonia levels in a fish tank.

6. Add fish slowly

Once you are confident your fish tank is well cycled, it is time to add fish to this ecosystem. A general principle is to add fish slowly, and it is best to start with hardy species such as zebra danios that can tolerate lower ammonia and nitrate levels. Alternatively, you can choose to introduce a few of the fish you want to own and watch them for weeks before you consider adding more.

7. Do not mix the wrong fish

It has become common to mix fish in an aquarium, but you need to be careful about the species that you put together. Some species are so unlike that they will never survive in the same fish tank as they have very different behaviors, water condition requirements, and feeding habits.

8. Use aquarium lighting wisely

Your aquarium light can lead to unsightly algae growth, especially if it emits heat, which calls for an on/off cycle to ensure no disruptions to the tank’s ecosystem.  This is why LED lighting is the best option for your aquarium, as they produce no heat and come in a wide variety of colors. However, if you have live plants, you need to tailor the light conditions to suit the required levels for proper photosynthesis and healthy growth.

9. Do not overfeed your fish

A lesson you must master from the moment you introduce fish into your aquarium is their feeding requirements. Your pet fish will thrive when fed small portions they can finish within a minute or two, which means limiting how much food you give them. Luckily, with so many innovative pet feeding solutions available, you could easily settle for a programmable fish feeder and save yourself from these worries.


Setting up a new fish tank is super exciting, and with these tips, you can manage this process better and become a proud hobbyist fish keeper.

Story by Bilal Sajjad

augusta free press
augusta free press
augusta free press

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