Checklist for Setting up a New Aquarium

Aquarium Next to Window
January 2012
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Checklist for Setting up a New Aquarium

1.    Find a good place in the house to place the aquarium. Avoid places with direct sunlight as you might have difficulty controlling algae and temperature in the tank.

2.    Make sure the floor is strong enough to handle the weight of the aquarium once it filled with water. Remember a 150L tank will weigh more than 150kg once filled with water and decorated with gravel and rocks.

3.    Make sure the stand you are going to sit the tank is sturdy and leveled or even on the surface.

4.    Place Styrofoam underneath the tank to act as cushion. Even a slight unevenness might cause the tank to crack once the full weight of water is resting on it.

5.    Now you are ready to set up the equipments; filter, heater, air pump ect. As every filter set up is different, please read the installation instructions on the box. We recommend placing your heater upright for easy adjusting. Make sure the heater is fully submersed in the water at all times when plugged-in. If using an air pump, do not forget to install the one-way-valve to ensure water does not flow back through the air tube into the machine in case you unplug the air pump.

6.    Wash the gravel thoroughly as it will help clear the water quicker once you fill the tank is filled with water. Do not forget to lay the ground fertilizer first if you are doing a planted tank. Your tank needs to be completely dry whilst doing this as otherwise the fertilizer will dissolve. Next begin adding the gravel into the tank. If you are going to place live plants, make sure the gravel is 5cm thick or more. Remember, live plants help to provide oxygen for the fish, filter the water by utilizing the fish waste as fertilizer to grow and make a more natural environment for your fish.

7.    We normally recommend doing your hardscaping (wood and rocks) at this stage as they are easier to maneuver in an empty tank. Some wood may need soaking first to be able to sink or you can tie it onto a rock or place weights on the wood before you begin filling the tank.

8.    Hose from the tap is the easiest way to fill the tank. Firstly turn your tap very slow to begin filling. Placing a small plate to ensure the gravel does not get stirred too much is a good idea if you want the water to clear up as soon as possible. Be extra gentle when filling especially if you are using bottom fertilizer as it should not get stirred otherwise it will cloud the water for a long time.

9.    Now you can plug in all electrical appliances such as your filter, light, air pump and heater. We normally recommend to set your heater at 27-28C and check it against the thermometer in your tank.

10.    Next step is to begin cycling the tank. You need to remove chlorine and chloramines from the tap water and you can do so by adding water conditioner (Seachem Prime or Sera Aquatan). Next is you need to start the biological part of your filter which means you need to start growing the beneficial filter bacteria that will breakdown the fish waste. We always recommend doing a fish-less cycle by adding a biological starter (Seachem Stability or Sera Nitrivec). Please follow the recommended dosage as otherwise it will make your cycling process longer. Generally it should take about 1-2 weeks depending on temperature. At higher temperature, the bacterial activity is faster.  

11.    During the cycling period, you will experience an ammonia (NH4) spike followed by a nitrite (NO2) spike. If you have an Ammonia and Nitrite test kit, you can follow the progress of the cycle. Once the levels have come to zero, you can begin adding fish into the tank. Please remember not to add too many fish all at once as it is good idea to give time for your filter bacteria to multiply according to the amount waste the fish produce.

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