Establishing a Freshwater Aquarium


Live fish make great pets. They are relatively easy to care for, quiet and pleasant to watch. There are a lot of options when it comes to setting up an aquarium, however an ‘all in one’ aquarium is perfect for beginners. These tanks also include lights and filters built into the aquarium.

Which Fish?

There are a wide range of freshwater fish that are very easy to look after. If you have decided on a cold-water tank, Goldfish are an ideal choice for first timers. Fish such as Comets, Fantails and Shubunkins are all well suited to cold water aquariums and are very easy to care for.

Tropical species such as Barbs, Mollies, Guppies and Platys also make good first fish. However, being tropical, they do require warm water all year round so you will need to include a heater and thermometer when selecting your equipment.

What Equipment Do I Need?

There a few essential items when setting up your new aquarium and our 'Fish Gurus' here at Poplar are more than happy to provide you with the right advice when deciding what to buy. You will need the following basic equipment:

  • Gravel
  • Air stone and air pump (if not an all-in-one tank)
  • Heater (if tropical)
  • Lights (if not an all-in-one tank)
  • Decorations (plants, driftwood, ornaments, hides)
  • Water conditioner
  • Water testing kit
  • Food
  • Net

Always buy your fish last – you need to allow time for your tank to “cycle” before you can introduce your first fish.

Your aquarium should be placed in a quiet area of your home out of direct sunlight and away from any heaters or air conditioners. Ensure your tank is on a suitable stand or table, one that can support the weight of the tank when filled with water. Your tank should be located somewhere with easy access to a power point so that your light, filters and heater (if using) can be easily plugged in.

Setting Up Your Tank

  1. Once you get your new tank home be sure to give it a clean with tap water only (no soaps or chemicals).
  2. Wash your gravel thoroughly until all the dust is rinsed off and place in the aquarium at a depth of 1 to 2cm.
  3. Rinse all of your driftwood and ornaments and place in tank.
  4. Plug in all electrical equipment (filters, lights, pumps) but do not turn on until the water is in the tank.
  5. Fill your tank with water. Pour your water in slowly as your gravel and ornaments will move if the pressure is too hard.
  6. Add your water conditioner to the water to remove any toxins and adjust your pH and water hardness to suit your fish’s needs.
  7. Turn on all electrical equipment and start cycling your fish tank. This usually takes 12-24 hours.

Before introducing your fish be sure to test your water parameters with your test kits. Make sure your pH is right for the fish you are keeping, and your ammonia is 0.

Remember to add fish gradually to a new tank - not too many at once - and build your population up over a 4 to 5 week period. Live plants can help absorb toxins from your water. Using products such as Seachem Stability can rapidly and safely establish bio-filter to your water helping establish your fish tank.

And a final note, only feed your fish sparingly. As a guide, feed only as much as your fish can eat in a 5-minute period. Overfeeding pollutes the water and is potentially harmful to your fish.

It’s that easy! Start your new tank today, and within a short while you will have a wonderful new addition to your home. Have fun with your new pets.


  • Sep 21, 2019
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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