How to Set Up a Healthy Fresh Water Aquarium

Getting a new fish is super exciting! But you shouldn’t just settle for a small bowl and water. Setting up a freshwater aquarium adds a beautiful, exotic feature to your home. It also gives your freshwater fish a safe and healthy place to live. To make sure you set up a freshwater aquarium the right way, here are a few tips!

How to Set Up a Healthy Fresh Water Aquarium

June 04, 2018

Step One: Placement

Set up the aquarium away from sunlight and with enough space between the aquarium and the wall to accommodate space for the filter. Make sure the aquarium is level and that it’s in a suitable place, as moving it in the future will require dissembling the entire aquarium.

Step Two: Add the Gravel and Water

Before placing the gravel in your fish aquarium, be sure to rinse it with clean, warm water. Take a bucket, fill it with water and dissolve a handful of coarse salt in the water, then add the gravel. The salt will kill the bacteria on the gravel. Then you should wash the gravel repeatedly. To wash the gravel, you can make use of a colander and rinse it over a plastic bowl or bucket. Repeat this until you can see the water run clean.

Add the clean gravel to the aquarium and make sure it is spread out evenly across the tank. If you are using tap water that contains chlorine, make sure you use a chlorine neutraliser.

FPC Tip: Add a clean plate on top of the gravel. Now, start to fill the aquarium with water on top of the plate. This will prevent gravel displacement.

Step Three: Installing the Filter and Heater

Remember, this is when you install the equipment, but don’t plug anything in just yet. Depending on whether you are using a hang-on or outside filter, install them according to the appropriate instructions. Be sure to ask for assistance from our helpful Family Pet Centre staff if you are struggling with installing equipment. Note that you should attach the thermometer in a place where you can easily monitor the water temperature. Ideally, a freshwater aquarium should stay around 24 to 27 °C.

Step Four: Interior Design Time

This is where you are allowed to get creative. Before you add in the new fish-furniture, remember to rinse it thoroughly with the salt water mixture used to rinse the gravel. Decorate your aquarium with plants, driftwood and other fish-friendly accessories. Make sure that the driftwood is left in another bowl of water for a week or two as it tends to discolour the water. Whilst decorating, it’s important to keep in mind to leave plenty of swimming room for your fish who are moving in soon.

FPC Tip: Bacteria is crucial for any new aquarium. Before you add fish to your aquarium, now should be a good time to add live bacteria to the aquarium. Bacteria are essential for the health of your fish, as they process the fish’s waste and prevent the water from becoming toxic. The bacteria come in liquid form. Ask the FPC team about the correct amount to add to your specific tank and fish.

Step Five: Turn It On

Now it’s time to hit the switch! After making sure all the equipment is properly installed and set up, turn on the heater and filter. Make sure the filter is filled with water before switching it on to prevent the filter from running dry. Wait at least 24hours for the water temperature to stabilise before moving to the last step – welcoming your fishy home. The longer you wait before adding your fish to the new aquarium, the better water quality you will have. Good bacteria need to grow and settle in the filter system.

Leave the aquarium light off for now, as your fish will adjust best in the dark.

Step Six: Welcome Home Fish!

Allow your fish to acclimate to the tank water. Do this by floating the bag where the fish is currently in, in the tank for at least 15 minutes. This will change the temperature of the water in the bag, to the water temperature of the tank.

Try to resist the temptation to add plenty of fish all at once and rather start with one fish, adding one every week so the ecosystem of your tank can develop gradually.

Step Seven: Welcome Home Fish!

After letting your fish acclimate, open the bag and add some of the aquarium’s water into the bag. This will allow the fish to adjust to the chemicals in the tank water. After a few minutes, take the fish gently out of the bag with a net or your hand so the fish can swim out into their new home. Never add the water from the bag into your tank. This water can bring in bad bacteria and high levels of Ammonia. Wait about 10 minutes before you turn the aquarium light back on.

And there you have it! A brand-new member of the family. Be sure to ask your vet from Family Vet Clinic or contact Family Pet Centre for any tips or recommendations or your fish; we love to help!


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