Okay, so chances are you’ve been directed here by one of us at the fishroom, if not, then Hello.
Here are the first key steps to setting up an aquarium
Clean Gravel / Sand
Whatever ‘substrate’ you have chosen for your aquarium will need a quick clean, even if it reads ‘washed’ on the bag, it will still be dusty. As well as turning your aquarium into something resembling gravy for a few days, those little particles of dust aren’t great for fish health. Simply fill a bucket up with tap water, add the gravel and stir around, emptying and refilling until the water is as clear as you can get it like this.
(Always use a bucket that is exclusively for the aquarium and hasn’t been used for anything else. If necessary buy a ‘fish’ bucket so you can be sure that it doesn’t contain any traces of bleach or detergent as these can destroy aquariums. You will need one for the future anyway for water changes etc.)
Add Gravel to aquarium, we’d recommend scaping it high at the back, creating a deep bed for the roots of live plants.
Regular cold tap water will do for now, you’re not adding anything live into the aquarium yet. To reduce disturbance of the gravel bed, pour the new water into a bowl sat on top of the gravel so it gradually overflows, slowly upping the water level.
When the water level is around 3/4 of the tank, whilst unplugged, add both the filter and heater (if a tropical set up). Add the filter to one end of the aquarium facing down the length of the tank. As for a heater, set it between 24-27°C and stick that on the back of the aquarium at a diagonal with the thermostat end higher up. Ensuring both the filter and heater are completely submerged, plug them in and adjust flow and positioning of the filter if necessary.
Use a dose of dechlorinator such as Seachem Prime to treat the entire aquarium, removing Chlorine and Chloromines from your tap water that would otherwise be harmful to aquatic life. Following dosing instructions on the bottle.
Plants, Decor etc.
Ideally add an element of decor or cover to the tank before adding fish to ensure that the fish have something to hide behind when they are initially introduced as they will be undergoing lots of stress for the first few days.