Setting up an aquarium 

An aquarium is a microcosm of the sea at large. It can sustain one or thousands of fish. Even a small fish tank becomes a tiny ecosystem which require oxygen, light and of course water. But even the most simple of fish tanks needs to be regarded seriously to avoid killing the fish.

One important note: Aquarium fish keeping is a fun hobby, but can be discouraging when newly purchased fish die. For this reason setting up an aquarium properly from the start will minimise fish deaths.

Like humans, fish have their own unique bio-rhythms which if ignored can be catastrophic! So from the simple goldfish to the more exotic piranha, aquarium owners need the right products to accommodate different fish. You should also be aware of basic rules before you buy a fish so that the fish is given the best environment to live in.

Set Up

When a new aquarium is purchased, most people want to add fish to it immediately, often on the same day they buy the tank. Disappointment then occurs when most of these fish die a short time later. Taking the time to set up an aquarium properly, planning fish purchases, and introducing fish correctly into a tank will help minimise fish losses.

Whatever the size of the tank, from small to large, tanks should all be filled with non-chlorinated water. This means that you should buy your tank before you buy the fish, NOT at the same time. The aquarium should be filled with water to check for leaks.

Gravel should be added and rinsed before setting it into the tank to clean off the dust.
All tanks should be fitted with some kind of filter. A filter cartridge works like a waste bin, trapping dirt, once full it should be thrown away and replaced with a new one. This should be done every 1-2 months.

A new aquarium should be left running with the filter pumping for three to seven days before adding any fish. This ensures that the water is properly aerated, and the biological reactions necessary for fish keeping begin to occur.

When water is first added to an aquarium, it often becomes very cloudy. This is called "new tank syndrome," and usually, the only thing that can be done to combat cloudy water is to wait (three to seven days) until it settles.


Aquarium LightingOne important aspect of keeping tropical fish is aquarium lighting. This is an often overlooked area that can sometimes be confusing for a beginner to aquariums. The main types of light are:

  • regular fluorescent lights,
  • compact flourescent,

Room light is generally sufficient to keep the fish active during the day but an inexpensive electrical timer can be installed to provide the fish with a consistent light/dark cycle. For a freshwater tank with no live plants you can get by with the low watt flourescent lights. These lights are typically between 18 and 40 watts and should last for a year or longer before they burn out.

Related links:
Aquarium lighting | Aquarium filters | Fish food

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