How to Set Up a Freshwater Aquarium

This is a step-by-step guide on setting up a basic freshwater fish aquarium.  Follow these guidelines, and soon you’ll be enjoying one of the world’s most popular and fascinating hobbies!

THINGS YOU’LL NEED:
• Aquarium • Aquarium hood & light • Gravel • Hang-on power filter or Canister filter • Heater • Thermometer • Plastic plants & ornaments • Water conditioner
STEP 1: Rinse the aquarium, gravel, and plastic plants with water only. Soap residue is harmful to tropical fish.
STEP 2: Set up your aquarium and stand, optimally near an electrical outlet and away from windows – sunlight promotes algae growth.
STEP 3: Install the power filter, such as a Aqueon or Rena power filter.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, since models vary in their installation.
STEP 4: Add the clean gravel.  Figure one pound of gravel per gallon that the aquarium holds.
STEP 5: Put in the plastic plants.  Distribute evenly and simply push the gravel around until the plants stay.  They have lead bands, so they won’t float.
STEP 6: Add water to your aquarium, leaving about an inch at the top.  Tap water contains chemicals that aren’t good for tropical fish, so use a water conditioner, such as Tetra AquaSafe or Prime.  To avoid disturbing your gravel and plants, place a plate in the middle of your aquarium and direct the water flow onto the plate.
STEP 7: Turn on the power filter, and then make sure the water is moving.
STEP 8: Install the heater and thermometer.  Most tropical fish do best at 76-79 degrees.  A heater helps keep your water temperature consistent.  Place the hood and tank light on top of your aquarium.
STEP 9: Let everything run for 72 hours.  A just-set-up aquarium lacks the bacteria that it needs to form a steady biological cycle.  If your aquarium is cycling properly, the water should develop a temporary white cloudiness.
STEP 10: After checking the water temperature, add a few starter fish – hearty, inexpensive, small fish, such as the zebra danio or neon tetra.
STEP 11: Add tropical fish. Only add one or two fish at a time, which gives the filtration system time to take on the increased biological load.
When you bring the fish home, let the bag float in the tank for about 15 minutes so that the fish can become acclimated to your water temperature.  After five minutes of floating the bag, add some of the aquarium water to the bag so that the fish can become acclimated to the pH level in your aquarium.
As you can see, the steps for how to set up a fish tank are not complex.  Have fun, and enjoy your fish!

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