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How to Set Up a Fish Tank: Your Ultimate Checklist

How to Set Up a Fish Tank: Your Ultimate Checklist

Posted by Artur Wlazlo on 18 Jan 2023

How to Set Up an Aquarium

Setting up a new aquarium can be overwhelming, but  Modern Aquarium is here to break it down for you into simple, bite-sized chunks. Let us help you through the entire process with our comprehensive guide. Learn how to set up a fish tank today!

Your Shopping List

You might already have an aquarium, but that doesn’t mean you can go buy fish right away! You still need a few other essentials. Check out this shopping list to get all the tools for setting up a fish tank!

1. Aquarium

If you don’t have an aquarium yet, it’s time to figure out the size, shape, and features that work best for your space. While a 10-gallon tank is manageable for beginners, a larger tank makes cleanup easier because the water will dilute toxic waste and prevent overcrowding.

You’ll also need to decide on where to put your tank, as it requires a hard, flat surface that can hold its entire weight. Calculate tank weight based on 10 pounds per gallon of water. Avoid placing your tank in any location that would have dramatic temperature changes, like direct sunlight or near HVAC vents.

2. Aquarium Lid

An aquarium lid is a key choice for cost-effective tank maintenance. How you set up a fish tank can reduce costs — especially if you utilize a lid to minimize heat and water loss. Glass lids are the ideal choice, as they’re affordable and offer the best top view for observing your fish. Add a plastic strip to the back of the lid so you can cut holes for air tubes, electrical cords, and filters.

3. Heater

The  water temperature required will vary depending on the fish and live plants you host in your tank. To ensure you maintain the optimal environment, an adjustable heater with a thermometer is vital to learn how to set up a fish tank. The formula for finding the right heater is five watts for every one gallon of water that you need to heat to ten degrees above room temperature.

4. Filter

All aquariums require filters to remove fish waste, algae buildup, and minimize tank maintenance. Combination sponge and power filters are an ideal choice for beginner hobbyists because they’re easy to install and clean.

5. Lighting

Lighting is a consideration for anyone who has live plants in their aquarium. Choose an LED tank light with a timer to prevent excess algae growth. Algae-eating snails are also a great way to keep growth down.

6. Other Essentials

The final essentials before you learn how to set up an aquarium include:

Steps for Setup

Ready to learn how to set up your fish tank? Follow these steps:

  1. Clear the area where you plan to set up your tank.
  2. Rinse your tank and accessories.
  3. Install the tank background first.
  4. Place your aquarium on the stand and pour the substrate.
  5. Install the heater and filter. Place decorations to hide your equipment.
  6. Fill your aquarium with water.
  7. Plant any live plants.
  8. Install the lid and light.
  9. Wait a day to ensure everything is working.
  10. Cycle the aquarium to develop an eco-system.
  11. Gradually start adding your fish.

Have more questions? Explore our blog for more guides.