The basic equipment will include a tank and cover, as well as some electrical items: heater, filter and lighting unit. You will also need gravel and rocks, plus a few miscellaneous bits and pieces. You can purchase these items from your local aquatic retailer or pet shop; the shop staff can help you with your selection. It’s easy and fun to set up an aquarium!

Things You’ll Need


There are various types of tanks to explore, including plastic, acrylic and glass tanks. They are available in different sizes and shapes to suit your taste and your budget.

Glass Tank Thermometer

To check the temperature of the water, you will need a thermometer. The ideal temperature range is 17-24oC (62-75oF) for aquarium goldfish and 24-28oC (75-82oF) for tropical fish.


Whether they are artificial or real, plants will enhance the overall beauty of an aquarium. You may prefer to begin with artificial (plastic) plants, or try your hand at underwater gardening by growing live ones. Once you’re ready to advance, real plants can add a natural essence to your tank and can help keep your aquarium water cleaner.


Use only aquarium gravel sold in a pet or aquatic retail store which contains stones that won’t alter water chemistry or release harmful substances in the water. Rinse the new gravel in a clean (soap-free) bucket or colander under the cold tap water to remove any trapped dirt or dust before adding it to your aquarium.


 To stay healthy, active and colourful, fish need a diet containing the right balance of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It is also important that your fish enjoy the food you feed them. If they don’t, then much of the food you feed them will remain uneaten and cause pollution in your aquarium water. View our line of food here.


 A filter helps keep your aquarium water clean, and that means healthy, happy fish. It works by removing solid and liquid wastes from the fish that would otherwise accumulate in the aquarium and pollute the water. The most popular types of filters are canister, internal or undergravel filters.


 One difference between keeping goldfish and tropical fish is that tropical fish must be kept in warm water. Thermostatically controlled aquarium heaters are available for maintaining a constant water temperature. For most tropical fish, the temperature should be 24-28oC (75-82oF). Aquarium heaters come in different wattage ratings to suit the size of the aquarium. For example, a 45 litre aquarium requires a 75-100 watt heater, whereas a 68 litre aquarium requires a 100-150 watt heater. If the aquarium is to be sited in a very cool (unheated) room, then increase the wattage requirement by 50%. Consult your aquatic shop staff for further advice about heating your tank.

You will need a few additional things to help you keep your aquarium in good condition and your fish healthy and happy.

 AQUARIAN® Tap Water Safe

Tap water contains harmful chemicals like chlorine and chloramines, which make it safe for us to drink but which are harmful to fish. AQUARIAN® Tap Water Safe instantly removes chlorine and chloramines and must therefore be added to tap water, not only when you fill your aquarium but also whenever you do a partial water change.

Plastic Bucket

 A plastic bucket is ideal for water changing: to take the old water when you siphon it out, and to refill the aquarium with fresh tap water (always add a water conditioner).

A Length of Plastic Tubing and Siphon Gravel Cleaner

This will allow you to siphon out water when you are doing water changes. A siphon gravel cleaner is simply a wide plastic tube that attaches to flexible tubing that carries dirty water and detritus once the siphon has been started. Agitating the gravel with the wide tube and using the action of the water siphon to carry waste material that collects in the gravel to the plastic bucket will help you maintain a healthy environment for your fish.

A Net

 The net will help you remove uneaten food and catch your fish.

A Step-by-Step Guide

1. Choose the best location

It is best to avoid window positions or anywhere that receives direct sunlight, as this may encourage algae growth. You’ll need to have a main socket nearby for plugging in the heater lights and filter. Bear in mind that an aquarium filled with water may be heavy, so ensure it is placed on a strong, level base.

2. Clean your aquarium

Wipe down the inside glass panels of the aquarium using an aquarium-safe pad wet with clean, warm water. Never use soaps or detergents, or boiling water. Then place your unfilled aquarium in your chosen location.

3. Wash the gravel

To wash aquarium gravel, put it in a colander over a plastic pan or bucket and add clean, non-soapy, cold tap water. Stir the gravel, then drain and repeat until the water stays clear and is free of debris.

NOTE: If you have an undergravel filter, install it now.

4. Lay the washed gravel in your aquarium

About 2.5 cm (1 inch) or about 5 cm (2 inches) deep if you intend to grow live plants.

5. Add rocks, plants and ornaments

This is where your artistic talents can be unleashed. Experiment with the rocks and ornaments in various positions until you achieve a pleasing effect. We recommend placing tall plants near the sides and back of the tank, and shorter ones in the centre so you’ll get a better fish-viewing experience.

NOTE: If you are using live plants, plant them after Step 8.

6. Heater and filter

Install the aquarium heater and filter, but do not plug it in just yet. Make sure to add your filter and heater before you add the water to the aquarium, but keep them turned off until then. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when setting up any electrical equipment.

NOTE: Air pumps must never be immersed in water.

7. Add the water

Because tap water contains chlorine and chloramines, which are harmful to fish, you’ll need to treat it with AQUARIAN® Tap Water Safe. It instantly removes chlorine and chloramines.

You can buy a bottle of AQUARIAN® Tap Water Safe from an aquatic retailer. Simply add the tap water to fill your aquarium, then add the appropriate quantity of tap water conditioner (two full caps per 20 litres of aquarium water). To avoid disturbing the gravel, slowly pour the water onto one of the rocks or on a small plate on the gravel bed. If the gravel gets churned up, it may cloud the water (the water should clear in a day or so).

 NOTE: Use AQUARIAN® Tap Water Safe for all water changes, or whenever adding water for evaporation.

8. Wait at least 24 hours before buying fish

The water needs time to heat up and stabilise. Check that all the equipment is working properly.

9. Choose and buy new fish

It is important to start out with strong, healthy fish. Go to an aquatic or pet retailer with a good display of fish and ask for advice. There are hundreds of species to choose from, but not all are suitable for your aquarium. Refer to our recommended fish list. Even if your aquarium is very large, it is important to buy just a few fish initially (two or three small ones). You can gradually build up the fish numbers over time.

NOTE: Once you have selected your fish, transport them home as soon as possible.

10. Add your fish

Float the bag of fish in the tank for 10 minutes to equalise the temperature (switch off the aquarium light during this period to avoid stressing the fish). Open the bag and pour 59-88 ml of aquarium water inside the bag and let it float for another 5 minutes. Now, carefully transfer the fish from the bag to the aquarium using a net and discard the bag water. After an hour, feed your fish AQUARIAN® fish food. This will help them settle in to their new home.


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