Setting up Your First Fish Tank for Tropical Fish

A freshwater tropical fish tank must be set up correctly before any fish have been added to ensure that you provide the right enviroment for any fish that you purchase.  There are a few steps needed to begin and you should follow each step carefully to make sure that your tropical fish will survive in your fish tank.

If you have not yet purchased your fish tank, below you will find a list of the essentials that you will need for your tank. If you need information on which type and size of fish tank you need you can read this article - Which Fish Tank Should I Buy?

What Do I Need For a Tropical Fish Tank?

Aquariums are relatively inexpensive and easy to set up, here are the essential items that you will need to get started

Tropical Fish Tank Equipment (Essential)

  • A filter
  • Heater
  • Lid with Lighting
  • Substrate (sand or gravel)
  • Some Decore (rocks, plants etc)
  • Thermometer
  • Tropical fish food

The above are the basics needed for any tank and you should buy these items at least one week before you buy any tropical fish. A freshwater fish tank should be set up and running for at least five days before you introduce any fish. There are many different full aquarium sets available that will provide everything you need to get set up.

Tropical Fish Tank Equipment (Recommended)

Although the above is all that you need to get set up there are a few other items that will help you to keep your tank and fish healthy and clean, you do not need them to start with but will more than likely have to purchase them later on.

  • Gravel Cleaner
  • Test Kits for ammonia and nitrite.
  • Ph test kit

Testing is an important part of fish keeping, to find out which kits you will need your local fish supplier should be able to advise you further.

Setting up a Tropical Fish Tank

Choosing a location for your fish tank

Once you have everything you need for your fish tank you need to decide where to put it, placement of your tank is important, it should not be placed in direct sunlight as this can encourage excessive growth of algae, additionally your tank should not be placed too close to radiators. 

Your tank should be placed on a sturdy surface, once filled it will be extremely heavy and difficult to move so make sure that when you decide on a location it will be permenent and that the surface is sturdy enough to support a full tank.

Setting up the tank for fish

Now that your tank is in position it is time to get set up, your tank should be filled about five days before you introduce any fish.  Note that tap water should be dechlorinated before adding to the tank, this can be done by use of special chemicals or simply by allowing your intended tank water to sit for 24 hours until the chlorine evaporates.  Below are the steps to get set up properly:

  • Wash the inside of the tank, do not use any detergents or chemicals for this, simply clean with warm water.
  • Wash the substrate thoroughly under running water until it runs clear before adding to the tank.
  • Position the heater and filter in the tank (most are fully submersible but always check the instructions) it is a good idea to place the heater where it will best distribute heat, having it near by the filter will help to circulate the heat evenly.
  • Wash any fish tank decor before adding to the tank.
  • Now you can add the water to your fish tank, try and add it in small amounts so you do not disrupt the substrate, pour slowly and make sure that everything is connected properly, taking special care of any electrical wires.
  • Turn your tank on an leave for a minimum of five days.

That's it, once you have set up your tropical fish tank as per the instructions above you will be able to add fish in a few days.  

The type of tropical fish you choose will depend on your local suppliers and how long you have your tank set up, see this article on choosing tropical fish for a new tank to help you decide on which tropical fish you would like in your tank.

Other articles:

Caring for Tropical Fish

Breeding Tropical Fish 

Starter Tropical Fish Tank

Starter Tropical Fish Tank(47222)