Step-by-step instructions for setting up a home aquarium
Establishing a freshwater aquarium at home can be a low-maintenance and relatively inexpensive way to own a pet. Saltwater aquariums will require more of a time and financial investment.
There are a large variety of freshwater fish from which to choose and many fish tanks that can complement decor or the space on hand. Here are some guidelines for choosing and setting up an aquarium.
Before setting up the aquarium, you will first need all of the materials necessary. These include the following basics:
- aquarium stand
- lighted hood
- air pump
- plastic tubing
- air stone
- other decor
- fish food
- background picture
Choosing an Aquarium
Aquariums come in different sizes and styles. A smaller tank may be appropriate for a kids' bedroom, while a larger tank can be a centerpiece of a family room. Depending upon how many fish you plan to have, a good rule of thumb is one gallon of water per fish. Many people find a 20- to 30-gallon tank is sufficient for a recreational fish tank.
When picking the aquarium, choose a complementary stand that can house all of your supplies. The stand will need to be sturdy to support the weight of the tank, which could be several hundred pounds.
Setting Up Your Aquarium
* Choose the location of your aquarium. Once the water is in the tank, it will be difficult or impossible to move it.
* Place the stand and aquarium in the location. Apply the paper background to the back of the tank on the outside. This provides visual interest for you and the fish.
* Rinse the gravel, any plastic plants and other embellishments that will go inside of the tank with fresh, cold running water for a few minutes to clean off any impurities.
* Place the gravel into the tank. Secure the plants and any decorations by nestling them within the gravel. The gravel should be one to two inches deep.
* If you will be using an air stone, attach it to one end of the plastic tubing and insert the other end of the tubing into your air pump. Hide the air stone beneath the gravel somewhere inconspicuous. Place the air pump higher than the aquarium so that water cannot siphon into the air pump should the power fail or the pump turn off.
* Fill the aquarium with quality drinking water.
* Install your heater according to directions and set the temperature according to the preference of the fish you plan to buy. Most fish live comfortably in 70 to 80 degrees F.
* Assemble your aquarium filter and follow the directions for placing it on the tank. Put the thermometer in or on the tank.
* Turn on the filter and air pump and allow the aquarium to filter for 24 hours. Also check that the water has reached the set temperature. You can purchase a pH test to check the water levels and make adjustments according to the fish you will be using.
* When you are ready to stock your aquarium, buy your fish from a reputable source. Slowly build up the population of your tank. Choose a variety of fish that will populate different areas of the aquarium, such as top- and bottom-feeders and schooling fish.
* Bring your fish home and float the bag in your aquarium for a half hour or more so that the water temperatures are similar. Use a net to scoop out the fish and place in your tank. While many fish stores have clean water, all it takes is a little contamination to spoil your tank and make your other fish ill.
* Feed your fish frequently, but do not overfeed, which can lead to buildup in the tank.
* Sit back and enjoy your aquarium.