- Set the tank up at least a few days before buying fish. This will give the water time to
stabilise and allow time for checking that everything is working properly.
- Once the tank has been positioned, a background of some sort can be fitted. As well as
being more appealing than seeing the wall behind the tank, a background will make fish feel
more secure because they are not 'exposed' on all sides.
- Wash the substrate material thoroughly before adding to the tank. This can be achieved by
washing half a bucket of gravel/sand at a time under running water. Stir the gravel or sand
around by hand, pouring off the water until it runs clear.
If you are intending to use undergravel filtration (UGF), you will of course need to position
the undergravel plates before adding the gravel.
- Decide on a suitable location for the heater and filter (depending on type). Remember
that the heater will need a reasonable flow of water passing around it to work efficiently.
Most modern heater-stats are completely submersible - the heating element part MUST be
completely below water level.
- Rinse decor and add to the tank (bogwood may actually require soaking for a few weeks to
avoid leaching which can cause heavy discolouration of the water). Position any rocks, etc.
carefully to ensure that there is no risk of them toppling over. Use the decor to hide the
equipment in the tank to give a more natural look.
- When you are happy with the layout, you can begin to add water. This is probably easier
with a hose pipe rather than buckets, but in either case, try to add water gently (e.g. by
directing it onto a rock or a dish placed in the tank) to avoid stirring up the substrate.
Fresh tap water should always be dechlorinated before use.
- If you are adding live plants, it may be easiest to fill the tank three-quarters full and
add the plants at this stage.
- Position a thermometer in an easily readable position.
- Check everything is satisfactory and then switch on the heater and filter. You can also
position the lid and switch on the light at this stage.
- Run the tank for a few days - check that the heater, filter and light are working properly.
Check the temperature regularly and adjust the heater/thermostat as necessary.
- The water may be a bit cloudy at first but it should clear in a day or so.