Starting A Fish Tank For Beginners: Installing A Fish Tank In Your Room

A lot of people think of setting up an aquarium in their room. Having an aquarium in your room has its own benefits. While it enhances the aestheticism of your room, it also makes you more responsible taking care of the tiny fishes and feeding them on time everyday. With even more benefits that have not been listed here, having a fish tank in your room is something you should consider.

However, the whole process seems too haphazard. Starting a fish tank for beginners can be a tricky task. But if you hold bit of patience and do things systematically, a fresh water tank setup for beginners isn’t as hard and you’d only be rewarded. Here’s a step-by-step guide to installing a fresh water tank setup in your room.

Installing A Fish Tank In Your Room

Setting Up The Tank

The very first step to installing a fish tank is having a fish tank. When you go to purchase a fish tank, you have to consider a few points. First of all the size of your fish tank would greatly depend on what kind of fishes you plan to get and the number of fishes you want to get. For instance, gold fishes don’t need a lot of space, for which you can get a smaller fish tank.

The size of the fish tank is not just for the movement of fishes, but also has to be decided based on how much waste material particular specie of fish generates. This is a little easy to crack. Larger fishes generate more waste than small ones. However, do your research and find out certain things before buying a fish tank. As a basic rule, the three things you should consider are- needs of the fish, compatibility, and tank size.

Starting A Fish Tank For Beginners, it is best to stick with a 55-gallon tank. This is not too big and not too small- just the standard size that you can take care of and keep various fishes in. While fish bowls seem very easy to maintain, that is the biggest myth. This is why whatever size you finalize, stick to something bigger than 10-gallons at any cost. Small fish tanks mean a lot of hard work in cleaning them.

Setting Up The Stand

Installing A Fish Tank 1
Photo by AlphaTan

Once you buy a fish tank, the next step is to set up a stand for the fish tank. This step is important because after all the hard work you do to install a fish tank, you wouldn’t want it to be vulnerable and fall down under any circumstance. A stand makes sure that your fish tank is sturdy and sits well. When you buy a stand, the simple rule is that you should get a stand that goes well with the size of your fish tank. When you hit the store, you can mention the size of your fish tank and get the exact match easily.

One important thing to remember is that in an effort to go frugal, you should not settle down for random stands, like television stand etc. Though a stand might cost a little extra, it is still worth it to spend a few more bucks to ensure your fish tank sits on the stand completely safe.

Place the stand somewhere where the temperature would be ideal for your fishes, with not too much or too less of light. Also, keep the fish tank close to a power outlet so that you can connect your filter to it easily.

Installing Filter

Installing A Fish Tank 2
Photo by SupportPDX

Here, one important thing is choosing the right fish tank filter setup for your aquarium. The most common kind is an under gravel filter which is the best for starting a fish tank for beginners (only if you plan to layer the fish tank with gravel and not fine substrate, like sand). Also, using a bigger air pump for the under gravel filter is a good idea. Bigger air pump means lesser frequent vacuuming. However, talk about what filter you plan to install with the storekeeper. The size and efficiency of the filter greatly depends on the size of your aquarium and how much water it contains.

Once you buy the filter, the next step is installing it. Any filter that you buy would come with proper manufacturer instructions. What’s most important is buying the right kind of filter.

Layering Gravel

Installing A Fish Tank 3
Photo by Sang Xiong

You can buy gravel from any pet store and they come in various colors. Gravel is layered for two reasons. First up, it keeps the fish tank cleaner than otherwise and secondly, it also helps fishes swim properly. Gravel is the best option for layering if you don’t have invertebrates or fishes that bury themselves under the substrate in your fish tank. Adding about 2 to 3 inches of gravel would be good.

Before you set the gravel in the fish tank, make sure you thoroughly wash it so that you don’t introduce dust into fish tank. However, don’t use soaps or detergent to wash the gravels, it can be toxic for the fishes. Cover the substrate using a plate so that it doesn’t disperse as you add water to the fish tank. If you plan on getting plants, also choose a proper substrate to plant them, like Azoo or Amazonia substrate.

Decorating The Fish Tank

Once you are done layering gravel or the substrate on the base of your fish tank, the next step is decorating your fish tank with all the chosen props. The reason why you decorate your fish tank soon after layering gravel is so that it is easy for you to arrange the decorative stuff.

Choosing fancy gravel can add certain amount of beauty to your fish tank. You can also mix and match two colors of gravel. Besides this, you can place various things, like shells, stones, and even artificial toys in the aquarium. These are the objects that go well for a fish tank. Make sure whatever things you place are at a certain distance and don’t make it congested for the fishes to swim. Also, one big thing to very clearly remember is that you shouldn’t put random toys or objects in the tank. Toys made of undesirable materials can be highly toxic for your fishes.

Besides non-living objects, you can also add certain plants to your fish tank. Having plants in your fish tank is a good idea since they help in filtering to certain extent. Also, having plants in your fish tank would prove healthy for your fishes. However, make sure you get the kind of plants that go well with your fishes. You should keep the plants in the fish tank such that the roots penetrate the layer of gravel but the stems and leave are strictly outside the layer.

Adding Water

As you start adding water to the fish tank, you would be able to witness if there are any leaks in the fish tank. Start by adding three inches of water to look for leaks, and wait for half an hour. In case there are no leaks, you can go about adding more water and filling up the fish tank. Make sure you submerge all the decorations and leave just about an inch from the rim unfilled.

Starting The Filter

After you are done filling the fish tank with water, fill the reservoir of the filter with water as well and connect the filter to the power outlet. Once you turn on the filter, the water will start moving in the lift tubes in a vertical fashion.


A heater has to be installed so that the fishes get the kind of temperature that is suitable for their survival. The best way to position the suction cups is to attach it really close to the mouth of the filter. When you do this, the water that comes out of the filter gets heated evenly and ensures all the amount of water is heated. After you install the heater and the thermometer, you have to pre-set the temperature of the heater to somewhere between 72 and 77 degree Fahrenheit.

Make sure you turn on the heater only when the fish tank is completely filled with water. Also, a heater should be the only source through which the water in the fish tank gets heated. There are a number of lights that give off a lot of heat. And as you turn those lights off, there is a sudden drop in the temperature. This sudden drop and rise in the temperature is really bad for the health of your fishes. This is why as you buy lights, make sure you buy the kind that don’t cause such evident temperature changes in the fish tank.

Using Water Conditioner

Installing A Fish Tank 4
Photo by Josh Geddes

Using water conditioner is yet another important step so that you can check the composition of water. It is hard to tell if the water would be suitable and doesn’t have any unwanted elements just like that. You have to add dechlorinator to the fish tank after reading the instructions on the bottle. This process can only be skipped in case you use distilled water to fill up the tank each time.

When you add dechlorinator to the water, make sure you remove the activated carbon of your filter. In case you forget to do so, the filter will act and filter the dechlorinator thinking of it as impurity.

Cycling Of Tank

Cycling of the tank means monitoring the environment before you introduce fishes to the tank. This is to make sure that you introduce fishes in the tank only when the tank is a hundred percent safe for the fishes. During the cycling period, you have to see if the composition of water is healthy. Cycling is also a good way to introduce good bacteria in the fish tank. Testing water from time to time is really important for your fishes to stay alive. Also, make it a point to change at least 10 percent of water a day to keep the tank clean.

Buying Fishes And Setting The Bag In Tank

As you might have already talked with the pet storekeeper, this would be the right time to buy the fishes that you have been planning to keep.  Here, one thing you should remember is that you shouldn’t be buying all the fishes at once. Start with about 2 fishes and see how they survive in the fish tank. Once you buy them, don’t rush right in and release them in the fish tank.

First of all, keep the bag in which the fishes come in the fish tank. This is to make sure that the fishes are not suddenly exposed to the temperature and composition of the fish tank water. Keep the bag in the fish tank for 20 to 30 minutes. After that slowly let in some water from the fish tank into the bag so that the fishes get a subtle change and adapt to it easily. However, make sure you don’t let any water from the bag get in the fish tank.

After about 20 to 30 more minutes, you can now use a net and catch the fish, place it in a bucket and get rid of all the stored water in the bag.

Setting The Fishes Free In The Tank

After you get rid of the water in the bag, you can now set the fishes free in the tank. Initially, get two fishes and see how it works out for 2 weeks. This also allows a proper cycling of the water. Starting a fish tank for beginners works well only when you take it slow and hold patience. As you get accustomed to it, you can get more fishes slowly and increase the number in your fish tank. Make it point to at least have 5 fishes in your fish tank at a time. This is because it can be psychologically very unhealthy and difficult for the fishes to not be in a group.

Given you follow the procedure well; you can have the kind of fishes you want in the aquarium and proudly say “my first fish tank”. You can also look for combination of fishes to be introduced in the fish tank. In fact, reading an informative book about fish tank care would be even more helpful for starting a fish tank for beginners.

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