Now you’ve gathered the equipment you need for your first aquarium its time to set it up. If you are going down the non-planted route the setup is quite simple however the cycle is more difficult in my opinion.
First put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the tank about an inch to inch and a half is sufficient (2-3cm).
Setup your filter at one end of the tank with its outlet pointing along the length of the tank and to the opposite corner. So if your filter is in the back left point it to the front right. The reason for this is to ensure you have good flow around your tank many particularly smaller shoaling fish like to swim against the flow so having a good length of flow will work out really well for them.
Insert your heater set it to 25 °C for starters you may find you have to adjust it in future either up or down depending on what temperature your thermometer is reading and what temperature the fish you decide to stock prefer. Ensure the heater is fully submerged and not obstructed and nothing is touching the heating side of things.
Fill the tank with water and wait for the cycle. Now this needs a little extra explaining. If you’re filling from the tap make sure you treat the water with a dechlorinator and chloramine remover. My personal preference is for Tetra Aquasafe as it processes the chemicals rather than just binding them like others do. Now unfortunately there’s nothing in your tap water to kick start the cycle to prepare the tank and bacteria for fish. I do not recommend a livestock based cycle and prefer the fishless cycle method. However you can give your cycle a little boost by buying a bottle of Seachem Stability and just pour it all in its loaded with bacteria and I’ve always had good results with it previously.
If you know someone with a tank ask them if you can have a few buckets of their water this water won’t need treating but will be loaded with bacteria to kick start your cycle.
Wait out the cycle and add fish it’ll take about 2 weeks. Do a water change once a week about 50% of the tank volume make sure you treat any fresh tap water you’re now adding.
You’ll notice I’m not covering cycling methods in detail here. There are far too many for me to list in detail and they are all very well documented else where. So go hit up google and good luck.
If you’ve followed this guide at all or found it helpful please leave a comment or message me on twitter I’d love to see a photo of how your tank turned out.
The next article in this series will be a planted tank.