Beginners Guide

How to set up an Aquarium


  1. Aquarium (Glass or Acrylic)
  2. Fish
  3. Fish Food
  4. Filter
  5. Air Pump
  6. Heater
  7. Thermometer
  8. Gravel
  9. Substrate or, Soil (if you choose to keep live plants)
  10. Plants
  11. Lights
  12. Cleaning Towel.
  13. Bucket
  14. Catching Net
  15. Hand Syphon Pump
  16. Ammonia Test kit

Location or Positioning

  • Choose a firm, level surface to place your tank.
  • Make sure you choose a quiet environment with a suitable electrical outlet for all your aquarium appliances.
  • Avoid locations with heavy, direct sunlight.
  • Create a cork sheet base for your aquarium. After, the tank is filled with water, any unevenness will be exposed with the added weight of the water and may lead to future cracks in your aquarium.


Before setting up anything, your aquarium and all the equipment that go inside it must be cleaned thoroughly to avoid water contamination. During the cleaning process, DO NOT use any sort of cleaning agents process as chemicals from the agents will cause your water to become toxic for your fish.

  1. Prepare your cleaning towel and a bucket with water free of any cleaning agents to begin the process.
  2. Dampen the towel to wipe down the insides of the aquarium by wetting your cleaning towel to remove any dirt from the aquarium.
    TIP: To check if the aquarium is clean, take a dry white paper tissue, and dry it down to look for trapped dirt.
  1. Unbox your filter, heater, air pump and decorative items thoroughly wipe them clean with your towel.


Place all your gravel under running water or a hose until the water running out looks clear and free of dirt.

Turn on your Equipment

Once you are done filling up the tank, you are ready to install your filter, air pump and heater then turn on your equipment.

Add Water and Equipment

  1. Pour in the gravel into the aquarium and shape it to how you want the aquarium floor to look like.
  2. If you wish to add plants, you will need to add soil and lights to your tank as a foundation for the plant to grow on.
  3. Place your filter, water pump, lights and heater to your desired locations inside the tank and plug them into your power source.
  4. Take a small plate and place it on the gravel before you pour in the water so the gravel is not misplaced by the force of the water pouring in.
  5. Fill in a quarter to a third of the tank with luke warm water, and then place your plants, ornaments and decorations as you wish. Make sure to not overcrowd the aquarium and leave plenty of space for your fishes to move around in
  6. Finally, fill up the rest of your tank with water to desired height


Aquascaping is the art of laying out the floor of your aquarium with gravel or soil (if you are choosing to add plants) to look like a natural ocean bed. It is a skill that becomes better with practice. Advanced or intermediate aquarists will choose to add plants to their aquarium to closely mimic nature. You can also choose to add different types of suitable driftwood for added beauty. It is common to create a moderate slope from back to front will allow you to highlight the ornaments and decorations.

Nitrogen Cycling

Cycling is one of the most important steps to finalize your setup and add your fish. Cycling allows your tank to build up the necessary bacteria by converting ammonia to nitrites, and then the nitrites to nitrates. This will create a biological environment that your fish need to survive and remain healthy inside the aquarium.

You can begin the entire process by adding some ammonia to your freshwater aquarium. Afterwards, you must follow up with regular water tests which will be explained in the next step. This process will be supported with your filter, air pump and heater to create the necessary atmosphere for the cycling.

Check Water Parameters

This is where your thermometer and ammonia test kit will come in handy. Once the ammonia is added, use the ammonia test kit to check the ammonia levels. Initially the test will show a very high level as the ammonia still in conversion. You must keep testing until the levels drop to zero. You will then know that the ammonia has successfully converted to nitrate.

Take out your thermometer and ensure that the water temperature is suitable for the species of fish that you are choosing to add to your aquarium.

Your tank is now ready for your fish!

Add Your Fish

Take the bag that your fish are in and float the bag on your aquarium water for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This will allow the temperature of the water in the bag to adjust to the water temperature inside the tank.

Finally, open the bag and let your fish go.

Congratulations, you now have your own aquarium. Happy Fish keeping!