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Aquarium Setup Stage 1: Initial sizing and spacing of stand, filters, and pumps

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 2: Placement of aquarium and beginning of plumbing

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 3: Initial startup after adding substrate, water, and salt

 

 

 

 

 

   Stage 4: Reef "cycled" with live rock and fish

 

 

 

 

  Stage 5: Final display

An aquarium can provide years of enjoyment and decor if established and maintained correctly.  Different aquaria may require special equipment, or unique filtration to support it's inhabitants, so setting up the tank is key to short, and long term success.

Probably the most valuable asset a successful aquarist has (aside of functional aquarium sealant) is his uncanny ability to plan ahead.  The time before actually purchasing, or physically setting up the aquarium is probably the best time to do this.  Think and plan about things like:

  • Tank Size
  • Location
  • Environment
  • Inhabitants
  • Substrate
  • Filtration
  • Lighting
  • Temp Control
  • Circulation

With these in mind, we can purchase the necessary items and start a real plan to put the tank together.  Remember, every situation is unique, and it's best to read up on the environment your duplicating, and the inhabitants you plan to keep.  Use the list below as a general step-by-step guide to setting up an aquarium.

  1. Find A Location
  2. Place Tank/Stand
  3. Dry Aquascaping
  4. Dry Filtration Setup
  5. Plumbing/Electric
  6. Water Fill
  7. Start Filtration
  8. Lights
  9. Condition Water
  10. Introduce Specimens

Find A Location-It's best to avoid natural lighting sources in most situations.  Windows and patios usually don't keep good aquarium company.  The intense sunlight tends to spawn excess algae growth, and can lead to problems for the beginner.  Find a medium to dimly lit, cool area with sufficient air circulation for your aquarium.  Smoky or chemical filled air can lead to problems as well.  Keep the room well-ventilated.

Place Tank/Stand-A level and measuring tape will come in handy here.   Measure the length, width, and height of your stand/tank/canopy as it will set.   Make sure that the chosen location is large enough,  tank is level and fits squarely on the stand.  Remember that water is very heavy (close to 8 lbs. per gallon!) so it's preferable to have a level, well supported area for your aquarium.

Dry Aquascaping-After the gravel and decor have been sufficiently rinsed, you can begin to arrange the aquarium inside before you add the water.  Put the gravel in first.  Usually about a pound per gallon is enough.  Next put in the rock/wood/coral/plants to decorate the tank.  Ground cover is important for hiding, and greatly improves aesthetics.  Arrange with the specimens you will be adding in mind.

Dry Filtration Setup-Arrange the filtration components as where they will be when the tank is running.   Make sure there is adequate spacing both between the components and the wall.  Certain filtration devices may need to be removed to be primed, but this is mainly to ensure everything fits and that there is proper spacing.

Plumbing/Electric-Make sure that your electrical outlets are properly grounded and any extension cords involved are heavy duty and have a breaker.  Some people with larger aquariums and more elaborate electrical connections should consult with their electrician before burning the house down.  Check all plumbing fixtures and filtration components to make sure they have been properly fastened/sealed. 

Water Fill-Filling the tank and starting the filters will  be the test to see if the plumbing fixtures are working properly.  Use good quality water for your aquarium.  We recommend RO or distilled.  Although, I will admit, larger tanks are usually initially filled with treated tap water.

Start Filtration-Prime necessary pumps and filters as recommended by the manufacturer.  Observe to see that all devices are operating  properly.   If more water is needed for sumps or filter canisters, add accordingly.

Lights-Turn on all of the aquarium lights to be sure all bulbs are working.  Make sure all lights and fixtures are away from aquarium/filter water splashing.  It's good to decide on a schedule to check the bulbs.  Replace when needed.

Condition Water-Add necessary additives/conditioners/fertilizers to the aquarium water at this time.  It's also an appropriate time to check key water parameters (Temperature, pH, Salinity.)  Some people add live rock or water/substrate from an established aquarium to jump start the cycling process.

Introduce Specimens-Add specimens sparsely, and be extremely careful in the choice of additions; especially in the first year.  Add specimens that are compatible, not only behaviorally, but also environmentally.  Remember, most aquaria are considered "new" for the first 6 to 12 months.

 


Blue Spotted Stingray
Often cover themselves with sand for bedding and camouflage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Atlantic Spadefish
These schooling marine fish have stripes, but their close relative in the Pacific do not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Porcipine Pufferfish
This Hawaiian specimen knows how to defend itself.

 

 

 

 

 

Goatfish
Properly named with it's fu-manchu barbels.   A hardy marine scavenger.

 

 

 

 

Flounder
It's trademark body profile make this one of the world's most unique vertebrate species.

 

 

 

Princess Parrotfish
Pastel coloring on a common reef member.


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