Ten Easy Steps to a Successful Freshwater Aquarium Installation

  1. Rinse out the tank and wash the gravel with water (do not use soap or chemicals).
  2. Put your tank on a strong base away from direct sunlight, heat vents and air conditioning vents. If not using a stand purchased from SF&P, make sure your tank is on a suitable flat surface where water staining is not a problem, not Grandma's old oak dresser or the antique armoire.
  3. Gently pour the clean gravel into your tank.
  4. Setup the filter and pump following the manufacturers instructions. Read and follow all equipment instructions.
  5. Position landscaping materials such as stones, wood and aquarium ornaments in the gravel.
  6. Fill the tank half way with water; try not to disturb the gravel.
  7. Add your plants (artificial, live or both). Place the plants in groups with taller plants in the back. Dig small holes in the gravel to put the roots or base in. Push the gravel around the bottom of the plants.
  8. Fill your tank with water.
  9. Add water conditioner to neutralize chlorine instantly.
  10. Place the cover and light on the tank. Turn on the filter, pumps and lights. Leave the filter and pump running at all times. Check for leaks and temperature (74 to 78 degrees). Allow setup to cycle for a day.

For success things to remember
For beginners, wait at least 24 hours before adding fish to your tank. Start with a few fish at first, in order to start a biological filter, i.e. 6 to 10 small fish for a 10 to 20 gallon aquarium. Use bacteria stimulants such as Seachem Stability or Hagen Cycle to help in the cycling of the aquarium. After 7 days, before your purchase any more fish bring in a water sample so we can verify good water tank conditions.

Feed fish so they eat all food off the top of the water in about 30 to 60 seconds, allowing none to settle to the bottom. (If it looks like it's snowing in the tank, you've put in too much.) Feed for a total of 5 minutes, 1 or 2 times a day.

Tank Maintenance
Simple partial water change with a Gravel vacuum, is the best way to maintain water quality and healthy fish. Removing 1/3 of the water off the bottom, every 3 or 4 weeks, will help maintain good aquarium conditions.  You can also perform water changes on a week to bi-weekly basis 10-15% would be adequate.   Replacement water should be same temperature, dechlorinated, using Prime or any other water conditioner.  Any algae that may form needs simply to be wiped away with an algae pad. Once you see visible algae growth it is okay to add an algae eater such as a plecostomas. Leave your aquarium light off part of the time (8-12 hour light cycle on a timer is ideal) and place a background on your tank to reduce light and possible algae growth.