Starting & Setting up a New Freshwater Aquarium

New Freshwater Aquarium -

   There is no feeling like that of being able to get a new freshwater aquarium setup! There are so many things to consider. In this blog post we are hoping to focus on helping new hobbyists get into setting up a new freshwater aquarium. We won't cover any saltwater topics in this post.

Things to consider first -

   Fish, like all living creatures, need some basics to survive plus a few extra things to make them thrive. A healthy tank can be maintained for about 1 hour per week, not much labor considering what other pets sometimes require. In addition, fish can be a peaceful thing to sit and relax next to, so consider tank placement. You will need a power outlet nearby and it will need to be a flat floor or surface.


   Your aquarium should be placed in an area that does not have drastic temperature changes. Sunlight can be a nuisance since it helps algae grow quickly so keeping your tank out of direct light would be best in the long-run. To keep a healthy aquarium, you must literally play the role of Nature. A tank is a container of water that without maintenance will get old and "worn out" leading to lack of colors and life in the tank.


     There is a balance and it all starts with the water. Consider your water source. We would recommend taking your water to the local fish store to have it tested. They can tell you the levels of the important readings so you can make sure it is water that you can use in your tank. You might need to use a dechlorinator if you have harsh tap water.

   Another thing to consider is budget. Depending on the size, the cost can change wildly. If you have the space and a good starting budget, a 55 gallon tank should be a minimum size tank to start with. Larger tanks are usually easier to maintain. Here is a nice checklist for some of the basics:

aquarium supply checklist -


Fish Food

Air Pump

Aquarium Sand


Water Vacuum




Preparing everything:

After the tank is placed, you can begin to prepare! The first thing we usually start with is the gravel/sand chosen as the ground layer in the aquarium. There is also an all glass option but extra care must be taken with this process. The gravel or sand that was chosen NEEDS to be made for fish tanks, and NEEDS to be rinsed well before using. It is good to get into a habit of just rinsing everything before it goes into your fish aquarium.

Then you can unbox & unwrap all the hardware. Depending on the type of filter setup you get there might be additional setup required. Typically the "HoB's" (hang-on-back) type of filter is the starting method for most tanks. If you have a tank larger than about 70 gallon then it is recommended to move into the "canister" filter which sits underneath the aquarium.

Setting it up:

It is always recommended to place some sort of plastic barrier on the bottom of the glass tanks so that the rocks and decorations are not pushing directly on the glass. This also helps protect from breaking the bottom tank glass if the tank isn't totally level or flat on the bottom. Something like 'Aquarium Egg Crates' works well to protect the bottom glass. Place the filter inlet and outlet as according to your filter. Then place the heater, which will also be determined by the size of the tank. You will need a bigger heater or even 2 heaters for large tanks.


Once the decorations and substrate is placed, you can begin to fill the tank with water. The tank will need a 'fishless cycle' which means you let it run for a few days or weeks without anything living in it. This is an important step and is important for overall fish health. The tank needs to build up natural things in the water and this can also lead to spikes in certain toxins which can harm fish. Test the water every few days and when desired parameters are met you can then head out and look for those rare and beautiful fish! Try not to use chemicals to balance the water in the beginning. Typically you want to stock the new freshwater aquarium with 1 fish per every 5 gallons of water. So in a 50 gallon tank you can place about 10 fish.

4 thoughts on “Starting & Setting up a New Freshwater Aquarium”

  1. Thank you for this info, i am setting up a new aquarium next month and will use this as my guide 🙂 cheers from Peru

  2. Your service is very good, very detailed it is sweet you saved our entire tank of fishes,
    is there something i can do for long term upkeep between services?
    – Lydia

  3. I’m getting a pair of hybrid cichlids called the (RED PHEONIX KING CICHLIDS) which is from South and Central America the male grows up to a large 32 inches and the female 20 inches. They will be the rulers of my tank. also I will have citizen fish like 5 silvers, 4 firemouth cichlids, 2 big tiger loach catfish?
    And on the right side of the tank it will be dark and gloomy with purple coral trees and a scary cave with 1 single male Texas cichlid.😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁

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