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Setting up a tank

Placing the tank, installing the equipment, cleaning,

Where to place a tank

The first thing to realize is that not every place in your house is suitable to put your tank, some considerations are to be made.

1) You shouldn't put your aquarium in a place where it will receive direct sunlight for long periods. An occasional hour of sunlight is appreciated by many fish, but long periods may overheat the tank, or create an algae problem.

2) Tanks can be quite heavy. An 80*40*40 tank will weigh around 145 kg(Including the tank, hood, stones). A sturdy table or similar is required. With larger tanks in wooden houses it's important to divide the weight over the floor, especially if the tankweight is on 4 small legs.

3) Tanks mean water, if you have a wooden floor, it may stain from spilled water, in that case the floor needs to be covered with for example a piece of carpeting.

4) In rooms where a tank is placed the humidity will increase, if you or someone in the family has respiratory problems this may be beneficial or bad, depending on the type of problems.

5) An aquarium can be noisy, so perhaps the bedroom isn't suitable. Besides that, the lights will also be turned on in the weekends, so if you plan to sleep late occasionally...

6) Do not place the aquarium next to or over a heat source.

7) Some space should be available to look at the tank, and to do maintenance like waterchanges, for example when placing an aquarium on bookshelves the upper shelve should be at least 25cm above the tank. It's also handy to have a place above the tank where you can put a bucket filled with water on to do waterchanges.


Tanks require electricity to run. The last consideration when placing a tank is if electricity is available close to the tank, but it's better to create a dedicated powerslot above the tank. This way spilled water cannot create a shortage. With the new electricity systems (ground-leak) there's no need to ground a tank anymore.

The next step

After you decide where to put the tank, you can start to clean it. New tanks still have some chemicals and dust in and on them. Cleaning a tank is done with plain water, don't use soap.

Put the styropoam into place, and place the tank on it. Cut the styropoam(Best done with a Stanley knife or a razor blade), it should be a bit larger than the tank, personally I usually leave it a lot larger than the tank, 10 cm, to be able to place food and other (wet)stuff on it. If after cutting it the front side turned out a bit ugly, remove the tank, and turn the styropoam over.

If you use a backside place it behind the tank, or tape it to the tank as soon as it's dry.

Next the gravel. Gravel usually contains a lot of small particles, which can cloud the water in the beginning. On the other hand, it contains microelements needed for plant growth as well. To get the best of both worlds, place one third of the gravel unwashed in the tank, and divide it evenly. Wash the other two thirds thoroughly, until they do not cloud the water anymore. Gravel has been known to clog plumbing, so watch out(Toilets are suitable to flush some gravel though). Place the washed gravel in the tank, creating a bit of a slope, so that the gravel goes up a bit towards the back of the tank.

Next you can start filling the tank. If you just fill a bucket, and empty it into the tank, the gravel will be moved, and all the work you did will be undone. Besides that you will spill a lot. What you should do is place a bucket filled with cold water above the tank, place a tube in it(Best to use a suction cup to keep it into place), suck on the other end until the water starts running. Cover the end with your thumb, place the end in the tank in a way that it's slightly upward and that the current is immediately against the glas of the tank. This way the water will not stir up the gravel. You can repeat the same procedure 10 or more times, but it's easier to keep on filling the bucket with fresh water.

When you're finished doing this, let the tank filled with plain cold tapwater stand overnight.

The next day

Do a 50% waterchange, again with plain cold tapwater.

You can start experimenting with the watertreatments and the testkits today. Fill the bucket with tapwater, and add some of the treatments you bought(pH down, Epsom salt) and measure how many drops or grams you need per bucket to get the values you want. If you've got the values you want, see how much more you can add before you get outside of the range you want. Remember how many drops/grams you need, and test it again with a new bucket. Always leave the water running for a while before you fill the bucket(In the morning the copper values of the water are much higher since it's been in the pipes all night, also nice to know this when you are used to drinking water in the morning). Now that you know how much you should add to a bucket full of water, you won't need to test all the buckets anymore, just one test after each waterchange is necessary to verify what you already know.

You can also start to prepare the filter today, clean it thoroughly, and fill it with one third green cotton, the medium, and the other third with white cotton. Place the tubes on the filter(in case of an external filter), place it below the tank, and cut the tubes to an appropriate length(Not too short, the tubes should be hanging loosely from the tank).

The second day

Do a 70% waterchange, this time with treated cold tapwater.

Add the heater to the tank according to the specifications from the manufacturer. Turn on the heater. Fill the filter by sucking on the outlet tube. Place the outlet in the tank, and turn on the filter. Fixate the outlet with the suction cups. If you haven't already done so turn on the light, it should be on for approximately 12-14 hours a day. Let the tank run without any intervention for two days.

The fourth day

Do a 30% waterchange, this time with treated tapwater(including the water treatments you purchased)which has the same!!! temperature as the water in the tank. If you use cold water from now on, the tank may break due to local temperature differences, which cause internal tension in the glass.

You may want to start to go to some shops, and buy some plants, and look at some fish. If you see HEALTHY fish you like, write down the names, and look them up here, or in books, to find out if they are suitable for you, and if they can be combined for example. You may also want to check out the Buying fish section.

Place the plants in the tank, a simple rule for plants is, the cheaper they are, the easier they are to keep. Another thing to remember is that a large group of the same plants is much better looking than one of each.
Check out the Plants section for more information.

The fifth day

Do a 30% waterchange, and test the water in the tank. Add some additional treatment if necessary.

Let the tank run for another day, or two, and then you can start to buy some fish. Dont buy 40 fish, start with a few, or else you won't have any space left in your tank to buy other fish in the future. If you didn't check out the buying fish section, please remember to let the fish get accustomed to your tank temperature first, by floating the bags in the tank for an hour, then after that opening the bags, and adding a little bit of tankwater to the bags every 10 minutes for another hour. Let the fish swim out of the bags by themselves.

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