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So You Want Pet Fish - Setting Your Tank Up

Setting Your Tank Up

Once you have all the necessary equipment you can set up your aquarium following these basic steps:

Please remember to always wash your hands before and after working with fish

1. Wash out your new tank and place it in its intended position. Make sure there are no cracks or damage to the tank.
2. Wash the gravel in cool, clean water. Do not use soap or detergents.
3. Cover the bottom of the tank with gravel to a depth of 5cm at the rear sloping to 3cm at the front. This ensures any waste will accumulate at the front where it can be easily removed.
4. Fit your heating, lighting, aeration and filtration equipment following the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Do not plug the equipment in yet.
5. Half fill your tank with cold water without disturbing the gravel bed. One method is to lay a piece of polythene, or plastic bag, on the gravel and place a bowl on top. Pour the water into the bowl so that it flows over the side onto the polythene.
6. Wash your plants and decorations thoroughly in clean water and then place them in the tank. Arrange your taller plants at the rear of the tank with the smaller ones at the front to create more depth.
7. Fill the tank to within 2-3cm of the top and add the water conditioner.
8.Plug in and switch on the air pump and filter. Wait 20-30 minutes then switch on the heater.
9.It is important to wait for at least 3 days with all systems running before adding any fish. Initially the water may appear a little cloudy but it will clear.

Choosing your fish: There are plenty of tropical and coldwater (temperate) fish to choose from but it is important that you make informed choices; some fish are not very sociable and will fight, whilst others prefer to live in shoals of their own kind and should not be kept in isolation. When buying your first fish be sure to ask the store team what they would recommend for a new aquarium to ensure you choose the most suitable fish and plan the best community.

Taking them home The fish should packed carefully for the journey to their new home, firstly in a plastic bag and then a brown paper bag as keeping them in the dark reduces stress whilst being transported. They should not be kept in the bag for longer than 1-2 hours. When transporting your fish, take care not to allow them to get too hot or too cold as this can also cause stress. When you get them home, turn off your aquarium light and float the bag in your tank for about twenty minutes, allowing the water temperature to equalize, then add some of your aquarium water to the bag and wait a further 10 minutes before transferring the fish into the aquarium with a net. Throw the old water away and do not mix it with the water in your tank.

The fish may be nervous and hide for a period of time, so leave the aquarium light off and let them settle down for a few hours before feeding them.

Introducing fish: It is important to introduce fish gradually over a number of weeks and not to overstock your aquarium. Your filter will need time to adjust to the increase of ammonia in the water - if stocked too quickly the filter will not be able to control the levels of waste produced and the water will quickly become toxic, so only add a few fish at a time. It can be beneficial over this period to use an ammonia remover. Maintain regular water changes throughout the stocking period to keep control of the rising ammonia levels. We use general guidelines to determine how many fish are suitable for any one aquarium. Tanks are different shapes and sizes, so there is no exact rule, but this is a 'size versus volume' rule as a guide:

Coldwater fish: 0.5cm of fish per litre of water,  Tropical fish: 1cm of fish per litre of water

Remember that this is only a guide to maximum stocking levels, based on the size of fully grown fish. Always account for growth when buying your fish.