9 Essential Tips on Setting Up An Aquarium for Beginners

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Setting up an aquarium for beginners need to follow some steps. We’re talking about how to build up a tropical and coldwater aquarium in general.

The distinctions between a tropical and a coldwater aquarium are considered to be well-understood by all, thus they will not be explained in great length. The following is a breakdown of the differences between the two types of aquariums.

Setting up an aquarium for beginners

Cold Water – Limited Species Variety, High Availability, Low Fish Stocking Density, Low Set-Up Cost

Tropical – Wide range of species, abundant supply, high fish stocking density, low setup costs

Start-up equipment

Both types of aquariums require the following start-up equipment for setting up an aquarium for beginners:

  • Aquarium Tank
  • Hood
  • Filter
  • Substrate
  • Water conditioners
  • Test kit
  • Thermometer
  • Heater (Tropical)
  • Decoration
  • Stand

1. Aquarium Tank

Before purchasing your first tank, take your time to ensure that you are selecting the correct tank for you and your fish. There are many other tank designs to choose from, but the conventional rectangle-shaped tank is the most popular.

This is because rectangular tanks offer a huge surface area for gas exchange and oxygen uptake by the water because they are 2 or 3 times as long as they are broad.

It’s also beneficial for them in terms of available swimming space. Even a huge aquarium is little compared to the natural range that each fish has been used to in the wild, so bigger is better for any aquarium.

The larger the tank, the more water it can store and the more fish it can maintain and survive. In addition, it will give more consistent water conditions than a tiny tank.

Here’s a chart to help you figure out how much to stock:

2.5cm (1 in) of fish per 60 sq cm (9.3 sq in) of tank water surface area in cold water

2.5cm (1 in) of fish per 30 sq cm (4.65 sq in) of tank water surface area (tropical)

The aquarium’s surface area is computed by multiplying the length by breadth.

2. Hood

As a storage area for your lighting. It is usually a key aspect of the tank unless you have an open concept setup. Lowering the pace of water evaporation, preventing dust from entering the tank, and preventing fish from jumping out of the aquarium are all advantages of having a hood.

3. Filter

Filtration is an essential part of any aquarium’s life support system, as it ensures the health of the fish that live within. All aquarium fish, without exception, require filtered water that is free of pollutants, which if allowed to build up can be harmful to their health.

Unfiltered aquariums are not suitable for living fish since fish become poisoned by their own waste products and may die as a result unless the water is changed several times a day for setting up an aquarium for beginners.

Filtration Type

Mechanical filtration involves passing water through media that are designed to collect and remove particles from the water column. Mechanical filter media, such as sponges or fine wool, are inexpensive and easily available. Most filters work mechanically, and the way the tank water clears indicates how effective the process is.

Biological Filtration – This approach leverages the power of nature by allowing microscopic bacteria to dwell and multiply within the filter. So that more bacteria can dwell within the space, the media should have a large surface area in relation to their volume.

All tanks will include a natural biological filter, either from bacteria living on the surface of the substrate or from bacteria living on the surface of the plants.

Chemical Filtration – This procedure involves using particular absorbent resins and granules to remove chemical contaminants and metals from water. When the media has been saturated, it is usually discarded and replaced for successfully setting up an aquarium for beginners.

Aquarium-grade carbon, which can remove dyes, odors, and pharmaceuticals from tank water as well as chlorine from tap water, is the most common type of chemical medium available.

The base of an aquarium is the decorative material that is placed on the tank’s bottom. Sands and gravels, which can be found naturally in any body of water, are examples of traditional substrates.

In most freshwater aquariums, the substrate should be inert, meaning it won’t break down or leak components into the water, especially those that could change the pH.

4. Different types of substrate

Silica Sand

Silica comes in the form of sand and grit, and it can be utilized in any freshwater aquarium. When you first get it, it’s filthy, and it’ll take a lot of rinsing before the water runs clear.

It has a color that is comparable to earth and can be utilized to great advantage in natural-style aquariums. It should be used at a depth of 2.5cm (1 in) where there are no natural plants and 10cm (4 in) for thickly planted aquariums because of its small particle size.

Pea Gravel

This material is ideal for cold water and tropical aquariums, and it is suitable for all fish species. It comes in diameters ranging from 4mm (1/8 in) to 2cm (3/4 in), and its spherical granules are ideal for digging fish.

It will not compact easily and is also simple to clean. Pea gravel should be utilized in a 5cm (2 in) deep layer. It provides good plant anchoring, with smaller particle sizes being better for long-term plant growth.

Silver Sand

This is the original worldwide aquarium substrate, as it may be found in streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans all around the world. Its name is a little misleading, as it is essentially the same material like that found on most beaches and has a golden color.

When originally purchased, it must be carefully cleansed, and working with it can be messy because of the microscopic particles that get everywhere.

It can be used to cultivate plants, but some species are better suited than others. To minimize stagnation in a thickly vegetated tank, mix silver sand with substrate fertilizer and use a heating cable.

Color gravels

Color gravels have a big market, and they come in every color imaginable, from black to bright pink. It’s mostly utilized in aesthetic aquariums and can help brighten up dimly light tanks.

Light colors will attract algae growth and should be cleaned on a regular basis to avoid this. In natural-style aquariums, black gravel complements the colors of the fish and plants. Because a lot of plant covering will have ground off the gravel particles in the bag, wash all color gravels.


Grit is a word for substrates that have a particle size between fine sand and fine gravel, i.e., 2-3 mm (1/16 – 1/8in) and are fine enough to enable plant root growth.

Summary of the benefits and drawbacks of various substrates for setting up an aquarium for beginners

Pea Gravel


– Simple to clean; inert; suitable for many types of fish


– Some plants can’t grow in it because it’s too gritty.

Silica sand


-Affordable; natural-looking; beneficial to plant growth


-When first purchased, it must be thoroughly washed to remove dust.

Silver Sand


-Natural appearance; appropriate for all types of aquariums


-Clog-prone; particles can clog filter chambers and powerheads.

Color Gravels


-Brighten aquariums; children love them.


-Colours fade as time passes. Algae thrive in vibrant colors.



-Small enough to be used as a plant anchor


-When first purchased, it may be unclean.

5. Conditioners for water

There are many different types of water conditioners for aquariums available. But the most crucial thing we’re discussing is Chlorine Neutralizer.

The water that comes out of our kind contains a lot of chlorine, which we wish to get rid of. Water conditioners are optional because storing water in buckets or tanks for more than 24 hours will naturally remove the majority of the chlorine content.

6. Test Kits

The value of water testing for today’s aquarists cannot be overstated. Water testing can reveal far more information about the tank’s operation than can be seen with the naked eye.

Water can be perfectly clear but still contain deadly ammonia and nitrite, as well as nitrate and phosphate, at dangerously high levels.

Because the pH and hardness of aquarium water cannot be determined simply by looking at it, a test kit can be used to detect whether certain pollutants are present and whether further action is required.

Color-changing reagents are used in test kits, which can then be cross-referenced against color charts. Typically, each reagent will only test for one parameter, like pH, hence a kit will have a variety of tests. Freshwater Master Test Kit is a suggested test kit.

The kit comes with everything you need to test tap water and aquarium water. pH (6.0 to 7.6), high range pH (7.4 to 8.8), ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are all included. Purchase a low-cost, dependable test kit.
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Thermometers are a low-cost need for monitoring the fish tank’s most crucial feature. Something could go wrong with your aquarium heater at any time, and you need to know about it right now.

It’s critical to check the thermometer at least once a day since if something goes wrong with your heater, it might be fatal. There are many different types of aquarium thermometers on the market. Choose the one that appeals to you the most about setting up an aquarium for beginners.

7. Heater

The temperature of the world’s oceans, lakes, and rivers varies greatly, and the fish that live in each habitat have evolved to flourish in a specific range of temperatures.

Tropical fish live in water temperatures ranging from 24 to 30 degrees Celsius (75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) all year, while tropical marine fish dwell in a more stable environment with an almost constant temperature of 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s easy and affordable to get an aquarium’s water up to the temperature required for tropical species.

There are numerous types of heating elements available, such as specific mats and wires, but a heater/thermostat is the most important item you’ll need to heat and manage the temperature in your aquarium.

The water in contact with the outside of the heater warms as a heating element at the bottom of the heater heats up. The temperature of the water is measured by a thermostat, which turns the heater on and off to maintain the proper temperature.

A glass tube with a sealed top house the heater and thermostat. This piece of equipment is submerged in the tank, the temperature is set, and it is then plugged in for 24 hours a day.

There are a variety of heater sizes to choose from. The required wattage is determined by the volume of water to be heated. A 25-watt heater will suffice for a 30-centimeter (12-inch) aquarium, while a 300-watt heater will suffice for a 120-centimeter (48-inch) aquarium.

Any size larger than this will necessitate the use of more than two heaters. To get a better idea, look at the table below.

Tank Size-  Heater size

30cm (12in) – 25 watts

60cm (24in) – 50 watts

75cm (30in) – 100 watts

90cm (36in) – 150 watts

100cm (39in) – 200 watts

120cm (48in) – 300 watts

8. Decorations

There are many different kinds of aquarium decorations to pick from. Substrate (as previously indicated), rocks, wood, ornaments, artificial/natural plants, and backgrounds are among them.

The usage of rock in aquariums is as old as the pastime itself, and there are now many different sorts to choose from. Rockwork can serve as a backdrop, a location for fish to hide, and a spawning spot. In the future, there will be more articles regarding rocks.

Woodworks well as a design element in aquariums and helps to create a more natural environment.

Only buy wood from aquatic stores because not all wood is safe to use in aquariums. Wood is utilized by fish for camouflage and hiding places, and it can also be used to draw attention to plants. Pre-soaking wood is recommended to eliminate any undesired chemicals it may contain.

Ornaments may have no place in the aquarium for a discerning fish keeper, yet some people are unaware of what they are missing.

Fish aren’t picky about their surroundings, and species that prefer to hide might just as well live under a bridge made of resin as one made of heaped stones. They are a must-have for everyone who enjoys a colorful aquatic fantasy.

Artificial plants have gone a long way since their inception, and they now appear more realistic than ever. They are also perfect for keeping with fish that would destroy live plants or consume the genuine thing due to their durability. They’re great for concealing equipment and providing a sense of security for skittish fish, and they’ll tolerate any type of water.

When correctly displayed, aquatic plants not only appear beautiful, but also provide numerous benefits to the aquarium and its occupants. You must address their needs, which include providing sufficient lighting, fertilizer, and substrates if they are to deliver any of the benefits.

If you want to create an underwater scene in your aquarium, you’ll need the right background. They can create the impression of greater depth while also concealing any trailing cords. Backgrounds for the inside and outside can be purchased, or you can build your own.

9. Stands

An aquarium would be useless if it didn’t have a stand, as it would be sitting on the floor. Aquarium stands must be custom-made or acquired from an aquarium merchant since aquariums are hefty enough to buckle living room furniture and cause tragedy.

Cabinets or simple stands can be used as aquarium stands. Both are acceptable and are totally dependent on the hobbyist’s preference by setting up an aquarium for beginners.

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