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    Setting Up a New Tank – A Short Primer

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    setup.pngIf you are setting up a new aquarium, here is a short primer on how to set up your aquarium properly and efficiently. It may seem daunting at first, but assembling your new aquarium is easier than you think.

    Get all the aquarium materials ready

    First get all the aquarium materials ready by washing them thoroughly with warm water. Don’t use commercial soaps and detergents as they are toxic to fish. Stick to the most common and the simplest aquarium ornaments. Sift the gravel over a bucket and drain, repeating the process until you are sure that the gravel is debris-free.

    Fill your tank with water and set up equipment

    The next step in the process is to fill your tank with water. Initially fill around 30% of the tank using room temperature water. You can add the rest of the water right after the internals such as airline tubing, live or plastic plants and other ornaments are added. The air tube is an essential part of the aquarium as it helps with the oxygenation of the water. Plants are generally added to hide equipment, help with the aqua scape or simply aid in the tanks biological ecosystem. The air pump, power filter, and heater are other types of equipment that should be added.


    You need to treat the water in the aquarium to remove chlorine, which is harmful to your biological filter and could be lethal to your fish. It is important not to overdose on de-chlorinators, as they can have an impact on water chemistry.

    Cycle your aquarium

    When an aquarium is cycled, it means that you cultivate or grow a bacteria bed in your tank, specifically in the biological filters. The filters will grow bacteria that digest ammonia which converts to nitrite, which is naturally produced and lethal to fish, shrimp, and coral. Controlling these lethal elements is done by introducing healthy nitrifying bacteria into the aquarium.

    Before you add fish or shrimp, an aquarium must be cycled properly. This is called the fishless cycle. If you place all your fish or shrimp inside the aquarium without the cycling process, chances are they will probably die within a few days.

    Cycling your aquarium takes time and it’s important not to rush it. In some cases, it has taken 6 – 8 weeks to properly cycle a tank.

    Adding the inhabitants

    Before adding your livestock, it is imperative to test the water. Specifically, the levels of ammonia and nitrite. You need to make sure that these two toxic nitrogen compounds are non-existent in the tank. Wait for two months before cleaning your new filter to allow significant growth of good nitrifying bacteria to populate.

    Acclimatise the livestock

    Acclimatising your livestock is a very important procedure because it helps your newly-acquired fish or shrimp adjust to their new habitat. Even a minor relocation can affect them because of changes in water parameters.

    Setting up a new aquarium takes a lot of planning and patience. Just follow the basic guidelines and the recommendations in this primer, and you will find that owning an aquarium is fulfilling and enjoyable.

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