Setting Up a Home Aquarium

First things first, you may need to know the basics of setting up a home aquarium.

The art of keeping freshwater tropical fish can at times be pretty complex, but compared to keeping saltwater fish it is far cheaper and the technical �know how� required is simpler.

For the sake of basics we can split this section up in to some simple categories :

  • Choosing a Tank

  • Maintaining The Correct Temperature

  • Filtration & Aeration

  • Aquarium Lighting

  • Choosing Your Fish
  • Sure there are other very important aspects of setting up a successful home aquarium, like water treatment, but let�s work on a plan of action to get you started on your quest to setup a home aquarium.

    If you start with a plan you can always go back and change details to suit your needs (or wants as it would be in this case!), but like any hobby you may change your fish tank setup over the years as you feel for something new.

    Choosing a Tank

    There are a few factors that come into play when choosing a tank that will suit your needs.

    In my opinion I would say that location is right at the top of my list when it comes to making a decision. Location also affects the size of the fish tank and whether you need to buy any extras with it.

    Do you want the tank indoors or outdoors? An outdoor tank does have its advantages if you live in the right climate, but if you live in Switzerland something like that just won�t be practical in the cold!


    An indoor aquarium is the most common option for setting up an aquarium, especially for a beginner just finding their feet, so we�ll focus a bit more on this.

    I think you would be surprised at the number of different tank variations available for purchase. You may want to grab a measuring tape at this point?

    Once you have singled out the location you will need to know the exact size required to create the effect you would like. This is not so important if you only plan to put a fish bowl on a side table, but if you plan on getting a larger tank it�s advised to measure first.


    To give you some idea of what�s available out there: Tanks come in a few different shapes that you might like to choose from, mainly rectangle, triangle or in a cylinder style aquarium.

    Rectangular is the most common, but the triangular shape works well as a corner aquarium. I have seen some neat setups of the cylinder aquarium, but my personal preference is to go for one of the previous shapes.

    You also have the option of a glass aquarium, which I would choose, or you could for plastic or acrylic tank as some people do if they are worried about breakages.


    Now let�s take a look at the positioning of your home aquarium. Your main options being a wall mounted aquarium, a straight forward tank that you can place on an existing wall etc, or a set that will have the tank and a stand that comes with it.

    This is around the time when you should pull out the measuring tape and use a bit of your imagination to visualise what your fish tank will look like. Once you have chosen a suitable place and measured up how big you can go, we can move onto the next step.


    Buying your tank : Where you go for your tank is completely up to you. Keeping tropical fish is a hobby, so you will find quite a few people selling 2nd hand tanks.

    Just remember to check the tank properly for leaks before you get started. Personally I would stick with new parts; you can�t beat the feeling of buying yourself brand new things!

    Online retailers generally have wide selections of tank sizes and shapes, with the added convenience of having your purchase delivered to your door.

    Maintaining the Correct Temperature

    A very important aspect of setting up an aquarium is getting the water to the right temperature and keeping it there. We won�t go into too much detail at this point, but the basics should be enough to get you going.

    In the majority of climates a fish tank heater will be required to get the temperature right, between 22-29°C, and this will also be dependent on the fish you have chosen for your home aquarium.

    The size or power output of your heater should match the size of your tank. If the heater you choose is too small it won�t be able to maintain the correct temperature.


    If you live in really warm climate you may be unfortunate enough to need an aquarium chiller. I say unfortunate as this is often a very expensive option.

    Many people will try exploring other avenues of dropping the tank temperature before forking out the cash for a chiller.

    The chiller would generally do the work during the day prevent overheating. In the evening when things cool down, the heater may kick in to prevent a fall in temperature.

    Fish are very sensitive to these changes and a well managed home aquarium will reduce the risk of stressing your fish out.

    Filtration & Aeration

    This section is very important as failing to keep your tank clean by filtering the water could cause your fish to die due to a build up of toxins in the water.

    This is mainly caused by the fish�s own waste building up in the tank.

    Aerating the water is equally important as you don�t want your fish to be starved of oxygen, which would cause an equally disastrous situation!


    A lot of the time both tasks can be performed with the same piece of equipment, but it will be up to user preference or available equipment.

    Should you install your filtration system and find that your fish are gasping for air at the top of the tank then you know that oxygen is running low.

    To fix this you need to obtain yourself an air pump, some tubing and an appropriate air stone. The pump blows bubbles into the water which will increase the oxygen level and keep your fish much happier!

    Check out the page on Fish Tank Filters if you would like a bit more detail on the subject.


    Aquarium Lighting

    As a beginner starting a home aquarium, you may choose to stick with plastic plants in your tank, in which case some simple fish tank lights will be required, only for the purpose of viewing your fish.

    I personally like to have some live plants in the tank. I think the fish seem to appreciate them a bit more, even though they sometimes feel the need to chew them up!

    Live aquarium plants require extra lighting to survive. The plants need light to grow and getting the right balance is essential. You need to have the correct lighting for the size of your tank and the amount of plants you have inside it.

    Take a look at our section on fish tank lights, I am sure you will find some usefull info there.


    Choosing Your Fish

    This section gets a lot of people very excited, but you must have some self control at first.

    The number of fish available can be quite staggering, especially when you go through the lists of them available from online stores!

    The urge will always be there to go for the best most beautiful looking fish, but don�t. To start off you need to go for the cheaper species. This is essential in determining that you have achieved the right balance of conditions for your aquarium. Also keep the number of fish down until you know that they not all going to die off.

    There really is no need to rush this process. Keeping a home aquarium is something that you will have to appreciate for many years.

    I would recommend you guys read up on The Nitrogen Cycle before you buy your first fish.

    I�m hoping this little bit of information is enough to wet your appetite for the moment? It is by no means a comprehensive guide, but just the absolute basics of setting up a home aquarium.

    If you are really serious about keeping tropical fish there are a few other areas that you will need to cover before you can confidently proceed, one of those being water treatment, which is very important.

    Keep in touch with the site, updates on these topics will be forthcoming along with other updates.

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