Beginning Your Aquarium

Day 1- Set Up the Aquarium:

  • Placing The Aquarium – Select a spot away from direct sunlight. The tank must be put on a level surface. If the tank is put on a stand that is not level it may develop a “pressure crack” from too much water “pushing” against one side of the tank. Pressure cracks are not under warranty since it is the tank’s position, not its quality that causes the crack. Wipe down the aquarium using water and a paper towel before placing fish in the tank. This will remove any dust that may be in the tank.
  • Aquarium Gravel – Aquarium gravel can be dusty. Try to remove as much dust as possible by rinsing the gravel in a bucket with water. You will not get all the dust and small particles out, but your filter will remove the rest. You should dedicate a bucket for aquarium use only to help prevent any soap or cleaning product residue from accidentally contaminating the tank.
  • Filling the tank – Fill the tank with tap water. The closer the tank is to 78 Degrees, the quicker your heater will stabilize the water temperature.
  • Note! Filters, heaters, pump (if any) follow instructions provided for these products.
  • Adjust the water temperature to 76-80 degrees. Make sure it stays in this area for 24 hours.
  • Dechlorinate and condition the water with chemicals.
  • Confirm that all equipment is running correctly by letting the filter run for 24 hours.

Day 2-3 add starter fish:

  • Limit fish purchases, 2-4 fish per 10 gallons every 10-14 days.
  • Choose hardy fish.
  • Add live plants (optional).
  • Do not feed the same day fish were purchased.

Day 2-12:

  • Begin light feedings. Feed every other day, once a day for the first month.
  • Observe fish for stress (rapid breathing, lethargy, clamped fins).

Day 14:

  • Recommended water change, 1/3 water change with a gravel cleaner.

Day 15 +:

  • Purchase new fish (optional) using same ratio of 2-4 fish per 10 gallons. Another rule is 2 inches of fish per gallon of water.

Day 15–30:

  • Observe fish daily for signs of stress or illness.
  • Have water tested at least once a month for ammonia.

Day 30 cleaning (refer to our free how to clean sheet):

  • Do 1/3 to ½ water change with a gravel cleaner.
  • Change filter cartridges.
  • Have water tested one week after this water change

Important Notes:

The first 4-6 weeks a tank is set up is when most people experience problems. This sheet is designed to help you get though this period. By following the above steps you should do great!


  • Do not overfeed.
  • Buy fish in small quantities.
  • Have your water tested for ammonia.
  • Observe your fish for stress.
  • Have fun & enjoy!