How to Set Up a Home Aquarium for Beginners

home aquarium

Feeling like adding another member to your family? How about one that requires minimal maintenance in a tranquil home aquarium?

Science has long studied the benefits of pet ownership. However, not every person or family can have dogs, cats, rabbits, or guinea pigs. Yet most can get all the advantages that come with having a tank filled with freshwater or saltwater swimmers.

For instance, fish boost the cardiovascular system, provide positive stimulation for people suffering from memory loss, and foster imagination. Additionally, they look really cool and add to the ambiance of any room or home office space. (Ask your accountant if the addition of a fish tank might be a unique tax write-off for your home-based business.)

Want to add a tank but aren’t sure where to start? Read this guide for help.

What to Consider When Setting up a Home Aquarium

What do you need to think about for your beginner’s home aquarium? Below are the general steps that will help you manage your new pets with ease.

1. Figure out How Much Space You Can Devote to Your Tank

Home aquarium tanks vary between small bowls and wall-sized installments. For your first tank, opt for something on the small size unless you’re comfortable suddenly housing tens of gallons of water and swimming inhabitants.

A good rule of thumb is to stick with a home aquarium of 10 or fewer gallons. You’ll also need a strong stand, which you may be able to buy with the tank. Remember that a tank is going to weigh a lot when it’s filled with water.

2. Take Time to Consider Which Type and Kinds of Fish You Want

As a new home aquarium enthusiast, you have the exciting opportunity to pick from tons of fish. Make life easier by choosing freshwater or saltwater fish up front. Freshwater tanks are a little easier to maintain, but saltwater tanks usually offer more colorful fish.

Next, you can determine which fish to start with in your tank. Good saltwater fish for beginning fish owners include damsels, mollies, clownfish (think Nemo), and blennies. On the freshwater side, lean toward goldfish, white clouds, danios, and tetras.

Of course, fish don’t always play nicely with each other. Ask your pet store about the temperaments and preferred fish mates for each variety. That way, you can ensure no wars happen in your home aquarium.

3. Buy your Tank and Filter

Want to make life easier? Rather than try to buy a tank, hood, and filter separately, look for sales on all-in-one models. Be sure to read reviews online to see what other fish owners have said about the products you’re considering.

If you decide to purchase everything piecemeal, you’ll have to make certain all your tank items are compatible. Again, look online for resources to help you figure out what to purchase in-store or via the Internet.

4. Buy Decorations for the Tank

Having decor in your home aquarium makes it come alive with personality.

Fancy a goldfish den with a shipwreck theme? Prefer your saltwater fish to frolic among replicas of ancient ruins? You have more choices than you can imagine.

Be sure not to go overboard. You can always add new decorations after your tank is up and running. At the same time, don’t forget some type of gravel and live aquarium plants.

5. Buy Water Cleaning Agents

Tap water isn’t going to cut it for either freshwater or saltwater fish because it tends to contain toxic compounds like chlorine. This means you’ll need a water cleaning agent.

While you’re picking up this supply, you might also want to get liquid bacteria to add to the tank. Although this might seem like a lot of items at first, you’ll see how they all fit together!

6. Put the Tank Together and Get the Filtering Started

It’s time to start cycling your tank, which is the last step before getting your fish.

Basically, you’ll want to set up your tank with decor, water, and a filtration system. Then, let it settle in. Run the filter just like you would if you had fish in the home aquarium.

Doing this helps make sure everything is working properly and the temperature and oxygen levels are perfect for your fish. Speaking of temperature, if your aquarium needs to be heated to a certain level for your fish type, be sure to check it daily to ensure it’s perfectly suited for your pets.

Cycling can take a couple of weeks, so be patient. You’ll have your new finned friends soon.

Want more advice while you’re waiting to add fish? Click here for great ideas!

7. Buy Fish and Their Food

Now comes the really fun part: Getting your fish and bringing them home.

Look for fish that are actively swimming, and be cautious if the pet store’s aquarium seems to be unhealthy. Expect to see algae here and there, but if you notice dead fish or fish with rotted fins, buy your fish from another place.

Grab fish food while you’re at the store, too. Fish eat only a tiny bit each day, so don’t go overboard.

8. Add Your Fish to the Tank

When you get your fish home, keep them in the baggies from the fish store. Float the baggie in the top of the aquarium water for about half an hour.

This allows the fish to acclimate to the temperature of the tank. As such, they are less likely to be shocked by any sudden changes in their environment.

When the 30 minutes or so has passed, carefully open the baggie and try to gently use a net (which you’ll need in the future, too) to move the fish into the tank. Never dump all the water from the pet store into your tank, as it could harbor unwanted diseases.

At this point, you can watch as the fish swim around and discover the many hiding places and decor you’ve created.

9. Monitor the Tank and Clean It Regularly

With your tank up and running, you’ll be in charge of doing weekly water changes. Buy a hand pump device to assist you and remove (and replace) about 10 percent of the water volume each week.

Simultaneously, watch for any signs of unhealthiness in the fish. These can range from a fish not eating and resting all the time on the bottom of the tank, to a fish that suddenly develops cottony spots on its body.

If you do see anything amiss, research it online and then head to the pet store. Usually, there’s a remedy that you can accomplish at home without the help of a vet.

Have a Blast Welcoming Your Fish to the Family

It won’t take long for you to recognize why fish are so popular. In fact, you might want to add another tank in time. Just follow the steps you took the first go-round, and you’ll soon have more pets.

Looking for other ways to boost a home office environment aside from adding a tank? We have other great home office tips to maximize your productivity through design!