Setting up a new aquarium


Setting up a new aquarium


Before you begin, you should decide what sort of fish you would like to keep. You will need to provide the chosen species with an environment and diet appropriate to their needs. Some things you should consider are:

How big will the fish grow?

Do they require their own “territories” within the aquarium?

Will they get along with other species?

What water conditions do they require (pH level, hardness, temperature, fresh or salt water, quality of water)?



  • Tank
  • Filter
  • Gravel
  • Water Conditioner
  • Heater (tropical only)
  • Thermometer



  • Rocks/ornaments
  • Plants – live or fake
  • Lighting
  • Air pump and stone


Cleaning Equipment:

  • Gravel siphon – essential
  • Sponge/scrubbing brush/magnet brush
  • Bucket (Fish Only)


Test Kits:

  • pH test kit – essential


Preparing your aquarium:

  1. Thoroughly rinse the gravel and fill to a depth of around 5cm.
  2. Rinse ornaments/rocks and arrange in tank with air stones and plants.
  3. Put a plate or similar on top of the gravel and begin filling the tank. Aim the hose on the plate to stop the gravel from being disturbed.
  4. When the tank is half full step back and make sure you are happy with the way the tank looks.
  5. Add water conditioner and keep filling up the aquarium.
  6. Position your filter and heater in the aquarium, and turn your filter on. Adding a product such as Cycle will kick–start your biological filter.


Leave your aquarium with the filter running for as long as possible; One week is good, two weeks is better. The longer you leave it before adding fish, the healthier your aquarium and therefore your fish will be. Set the heater to the temperature for your fish, typically 24-26oC and switch it on 24 hours before you bring home any fish to allow the  water to heat up to the correct temperature.


When adding your first fish to the aquarium you should only introduce about 1/3 of the total number of fish you want in your complete tank. 2 – 4 weeks later add another 1/3 of the fish and then the final 1/3 of fish can be introduced 2 – 4 weeks after that. For Example:


Your complete aquarium will have 6 Mollies, 10 Platys and 2 Angel Fish. The first addition of fish may be up to 6 Platys. In 2 – 4 weeks if you have no problems and your water conditions are stable (pH and ammonia), you may add the next batch of fish; perhaps the two angels and the remaining 4 Platys. Monitoring your water conditions at this point is crucial as the biological filter you have built up while cycling the tank is being put to the test. Keep a close eye on pH levels and ammonia build up. If all is well after another 2 – 4 weeks you are ready to add the 6 Mollies. Congratulations, your tank is complete.


The following species are hardy fish that can tolerate a variety of water conditions and are ideal first fish for a new aquarium:



Angel Fish

Black Widow Tetra

Black Phantom Tetra

Tiger Barbs

Cherry Barb

The internet has many excellent sites with heaps of information, so a little research before purchasing definitely pays off. Unfortunately you may not be able to have all the fish you might like, and it is better to establish which species can live together before purchasing. An all too common mistake is Angels with Neons. This is usually ok for 6 months or so, until the Angels grow bigger. With very few exceptions, big fish eat little fish.


An aquarium is a very enjoyable experience, and with correct advice, techniques and fish they are very easy to setup and maintain. Please don't hesitate to ask us about fish and aquarium care – we are only too happy to share our knowledge and experience with you!



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