You are just starting on a great adventure in caring for your freshwater tropical fish. The first step is setting up a tropical fish tank and not making any mistakes which could kill your first batch of fish. Luckily setting up a fish tank for freshwater fish is very easy. Here are 8 tips to get you started on the right track.
Tip 1: Your gravel must be washed before you put it in the bottom of the aquarium. Even if the bag reads pre-washed you still must take the time to wash and prepare the gravel to keep your water clean. Use a standard kitchen strainer, put the gravel in it, and then continue running water over it until the water runs completely clear. Make sure to stir the gravel to make sure all dirt is removed.
Tip 2: Wash all artificial plants, rocks, and decorations you are adding to the tank. They may have chemicals from manufacturing which could be harmful to your fish. Make sure they are cleaned and rinsed with plenty of water before adding to the tank.
Tip 3: Fill your tank only halfway with water, and then install all of your plants, rocks, and decorations. You need water to make sure things sit properly, but you do not need to be sticking your arms down through a tank full of water.
Tip 4: Install your filter and heating system before completely filling the tank. Make sure it is well away from the plants or other obstructions which could block water flow.
Tip 5: Fill the tank to 1 or 2 inches from the top. Never fill all the way to the top. Once you fill to the top you can no longer put in your hands, dump in water with fish, or make any adjustments.
Tip 6: Make sure you add any water conditioning chemicals to prepare the water for your fish. Missing this step is one sure way to find fish floating.
Tip 7: Start up your filtration system, lights, and heater. Let the tank run for 1 week before you add fish. This allows the water to be fully conditioned, free of excess chlorine, and to allow healthy bacteria to start to grow.
Tip 8: Add fish in small amounts. Start with only a few hardy fish and make sure they are doing well before adding more fish. It is very wise to wait up to a full week before introducing new fish. Always add new fish in small batches and make sure the fish are healthy and doing well before introducing the next batch.
These 8 tips may not cover all aspects of setting up a tropical fish tank but they will cover the most important basics for you. Making sure your tank is clean, chemical free, and ready for fish may take a little extra time, but it will save you money on fish, and great aggravation.