How to set up the perfect tropical fish tank

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The beauty and mystery of a freshwater tropical fish tank is simply mesmerizing. There are people, whose lifelong passion is setting up and keeping the perfect tropical fish tank. In this article we will give you some tips how to do just that.

The first thing to do is decide exactly what kind of fish tank to get. There are two main types of tropical fish tank – fresh water tropical fish tank and marine tropical fish tank. If you are new to tropical fish keeping, it is recommended to choose the first option. A marine tropical fish tank is stunningly beautiful, but requires extensive research and water management knowledge. It is easier to set up a fresh water tropical fish tank and it also offers hours of entertainment. That’s why in this article we will focus mainly on setting up a fresh water tropical fish tank.

You will need to decide on the size and placement of the fish tank. Consider how much space you have available. Keep in mind that your fish tank should be visible, without being in an area with a lot of traffic. If the fish in your fish tank prefer peace and quiet, they will get stressed by the movement around the fish tank.


You should also keep the fish tank away from drafts from opening doors and windows, because drafts affect the temperature regulation in your aquarium.

You also want to restrict the amount of direct sunlight, because direct sunlight will cause unsightly algae to grow too fast.

Make sure you have access to ample power outlets near your fish tank for filters, lighting and heating equipment.

fish tank

The surface you are going to put your fish tank on is also very important to consider. It is best to get a custom fish tank support for the bottom. Do not underestimate the weight of a full fish tank. Make sure the fish tank stand and floor can handle the weight. You need adequate structural support under the floor to carry the weight of the fish tank, especially if you decide to go for a big one.

The setup process is pretty much the same for a small fish tank and for a large one. However, a big fish tank is easier to maintain in the long run, than a smaller one.

To set up your tropical fish tank, you will need to get substrate to cover the bottom, decorations to give it a natural look, plants to create a balance in your fish tank, filter system, suited for your fish tank size and water volume, heater / thermostat combination and aquarium lights.

tropical aquarium

To prepare for the setup, make sure your new fish tank doesn’t have any leaks.

Then, clean the inside thoroughly with coarse salt, dissolved in lukewarm water. Never use soap or any other type of detergent, because it’s poisonous and even the smallest amount of it could kill your fish.

Next, wash the substrate thoroughly to get rid of any dust and small particles. Simply place it in a bucket and run clear water through it until it is no longer cloudy. Place the substrate on the bottom of the fish tank, smooth it and create a slight slope from back to front of the fish tank.

tropical fish tank

Then place the decorations you have chosen. Try to make it look as natural as possible. You can create a few caves, nooks and crannies for the fish to swim through or hide, when they need privacy.

Now you can install the filter system, but do not turn it on yet. When, you have installed the filter system, you can fit the aquarium lighting. When all this is done, you can now fill the fish tank with water. Place a glass bowl on the substrate and pour the water into it, letting it overflow into the fish tank. This way you prevent the water from disturbing the substrate.

Once the fish tank is half full with water, you can plant your plants. Taller plants should be placed in the back of the fish tank and shorter ones – to the front.

wall aquarium

When you fill the new fish tank with water, you can start the filtration system and turn on the heater.

The most important part of your tropical fish tank is the water. You will need to maintain excellent water quality to ensure healthy, thriving fish. Normal, untreated tap water is not safe to keep tropical fish. You have to add de-chlorination agent to the water and beneficial bacteria to help break down waste products produced by the fish.

Leave the fish tank running with filters and heaters fully operational for 72 to 96 hours before adding any fish. Then, add three or four fish and give them one or two weeks to adjust and produce food for the bacteria colony in your filters. Gradually increase the number of fish until you reach the ideal number of fish per volume of water.

wall fish tank

You fish tank is ready now to become a fresh water tropical aquarium. Now you only have to decide on the type of tropical fish you want to keep, which requires some research on your part.

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