Step 1: You will need
- fish tank with a cover and a light
- filtration system
- air pump
- some aquatic plants
- your fish
Step 2: The fish tank
There are many different types and sizes of fish tank available, and these days they are often sold as complete all-in-one packages that include all the accessories you will need. Seek advice from your fish retailer about which tank to buy, as this will determine the type and number of fish you can keep. Start by washing out your fish tank with clean, warm water, without detergent. Position it on a surface that will not buckle, and that is sturdy enough to take the tank's weight when full. It is usually best to use a stand or cabinet which is purpose-built for fish tanks, especially if you have a large tank.
Step 3: Adding Gravel
Always use aquarium gravel from a pet shop, as this will be safe for your fish. Wash the gravel until the water runs clear. Then spread it evenly in the tank.
Step 4: Decorations
There are a variety of decorations available for aquariums. Rocks, driftwood and novelty decorations can all add to the visual appeal of a fish tank. Rinse the decorations in tap water, and then place them into the tank. You can also attach a plain or printed backdrop to the back of your fish tank.
Step 5: Install equipment
Install a filtering system into your tank. Fish produce a large amount of waste, which needs to be filtered out of the water otherwise it will become toxic. There are several different types of filtration system available. They can be located inside the tank, outside the tank, or under the gravel. It's also important that the surface of the water is agitated so that oxygen can enter the tank water. In most cases the filtration system will be able to do this, but sometimes it's necessary to install a separate air pump which will produce air bubbles in the water. Your retailer will be able to advise you which equipment is the most appropriate.
Step 6: Heating
The crucial difference between a tropical and a coldwater tank is that the tropical fish tank needs to be heated. As a general rule, your heater will need to have one Watt of power for every litre of water in your tank. Set it to the appropriate temperature for the fish you want to keep. When choosing different species of tropical fish to keep together, choose species that thrive in the same temperature of water. Also put a thermometer in the tank and check regularly that the temperature is correct.
Step 7: Add water
Fill your tank up with cold tap water. TOP TIP Place a bowl onto the gravel and pour the water into the bowl. This will stop the gravel displacing from the force of the water. Most tropical fish tanks will have a water line indicating where you should fill it to. Add some dechlorinator to the water, as per the instructions on the bottle. This will make the water safe for your fish.
Step 8: Wait
Switch on the filter and heater, and then wait for about 2 days before adding plants or fish. This will give the tank time to settle and warm up to the correct temperature.
Step 9: Plants
After a couple of days your tropical fish tank is ready to be planted. There is a wide variety of aquatic plants available and your retailer will advise you which are appropriate for your aquarium. Rinse new plants under tap water, and then plant them into the gravel in your tank. It's a good idea to remove some tank water before planting the plants, to prevent spillage, and then return the water to the tank afterwards. If the water is murky after planting, allow some time for the filter to clear it before adding fish.
Step 10: Adding fish
You are now ready to go out and buy your fish. For detailed instructions on how to add the fish to your aquarium, watch VideoJug's film 'How to introduce new fish into a fish tank.'