Setting up Fish Aquarium

Today I am going to talk about setting up fish aquarium. I personally feel that we should if we can minimize use of artificial methods and try to mimic the nature when setting up fish aquarium. What I mean by that is that I will add only things artificial if I see them necessary.

What I mean by that is I do not use filter or artificial plants in the aquarium setup. I use live plants and regular water change. I use heater and lights as my aquariums are in the basement which does not get sun light and is colder than the rest of the house.

Marine Depot Aquarium Supplies

Getting a Fish Aquarium


The first step obviously is to get an aquarium if you have already not done so. There are many kinds and sizes of aquarium available out there in the market. You can go crazy just going thru the types out there.

If it is first tank you are setting up and have never done this before then my suggestion would be to get a 10-gallon rectangular aquarium. These are easily available from almost any aquarium store in town or you can order it online.

Cleaning the Aquarium

Before adding anything to the tank, clean it properly. There may be dust on it from the storage or store or even from the packaging it comes in. You should clean it inside and outside. You may be tempted to clean it with soap. Please don’t as the chemicals in soap are harmful for the fish. If by chance there is any soap left, which may not be visible to you but this could be lethal for the fish.

Gravel or Sand

It’s up to you if you want to use gravel or sand. I have used both and they seem to be working well. I even have used medium sized pebbles in a small tank. It all depends what kind of plants you are going to have in there. Some plants need soil or sand to establish their roots. Others can be attached to rocks and wood.

Aquarium with gravel and heater

Once you decide on the gravel or sand then add it to the aquarium and spread it the way you want it to appear under water.

Adding water

Now its time to add water to the tank. Make sur that the water is dechlorinated since chlorine is harmful to the fish. Do dechlorinate the water you can leave it over night in a bucket with no cover.

The other option is to use bubbler. What I mean is that if you already have a bubbler at home then you can use that in the bucket of water for about half an hour or when you feel the smell of the chlorine has gone.

Now you add the water to the tank. Put a small plate at the bottom of the aquarium and start to pour the water slowly on the plate. This way you avoid displacing your sand or gravel from pouring water.

Water Heater

Yes! this is very important if you live in area where it gets very cold, like North America or Europe. When I started my fish tank, I was watching everything including the chemistry of the water but never thought of the water temperature.

Aquarium water heater

My first pair of fish died within 24 hours. I ran to the store to find out what’s wrong with the water and my setup. No one was able to tell me why did the fish die. I realized that almost all the tanks in the store had some kind of heater. I didn’t have any. I learned my lesson hard way. Sorry my first fish!

Planting the aquarium

Now I would start planting the aquarium. You can check my blog “5 Easy to Care Aquarium Plants”. It will give you an idea of what plants you can buy.

After planting the aquarium, I would suggest waiting for at least a week before you add the fish. This process is called cycling the tank. This wait is important for growth of healthy bacteria. Plants tend to speed up the nitrogen cycle.

Planted Aquarium

Nitrogen cycle is a process through which the ammonia released from fish excreta goes into different chemical stages as ammonia to nitrites to nitrates. Plants take some nitrates and the water is purified and safe for the fish. Plants also take up the carbon dioxide from the water and release oxygen. Regular water change helps to reduce the harmful chemicals from the water.

Adding fish

Now the tank is ready to add the fish. Please read the blog “5 easy to care fish” if you want some idea about what fish to add to the aquarium.

When you bring the fish from the store it will be in a plastic bag. Place the bag in your tank without opening it. This will make the temperature of the water in the bag same as in the tank. Then open the bag and slowly release the fish with the water in the tank


Hopefully you have planted the aquarium as I suggested above. In that case you will need to add some lights to the aquarium. If you are on a budget, then you can use one of the table lamps you may have around the house. Else you can buy LED lights for the aquarium. You can order them online or get it at a local aquarium store.

Lights are essential for the plants. That is essential for the process of photosynthesis. Without lights your plants will not survive. Do not have the lights too bright as that can encourage the growth of algae in the aquarium.


Now you have everything setup and you can enjoy the aquarium. But this also requires that you must do some maintenance on the tank. You need to do the water change on weekly basis.

P.S. If you have a question or a comment about this article then please let me know and will try to answer them at the earliest