Setting up a Tropical Aquarium

Take the aquarium out of the box carefully.

Check the glass for cracks. You have just 48 hours after purchase to report cracks or smashed glass. All the equipment in your tank are covered by a years warrantee. Glass however will only break if it is mishandled or received some kind of impact.

Decide where the tank will be positioned.  To avoid the tank being covered in green algae, do not place it in direct sunlight like in a window or conservatory. Try to keep it away from radiators or anything with may affect the stable temperature of the water.

Place the tank on a flat, level surface. Aquarium stands are ideal. We would advise that glass bowls be placed on a mat or cloth. Never pick up an aquarium with water in it.

Wash the gravel or sand in a bucket of water. Then place it in the aquarium evenly. If you want real plants, the depth or gravel should be about 5cms. We recommend you slope the gravel so that it is deeper at the back. This makes the tank look larger and gives larger plants more root space.

Add décor such as rocks or wood. Bogwood should be soaked overnight in hot water to reduce the tannin, so the water does not blacken.

Fill the tank with tap water. Add the recommended volume of dechlorinator ie Aquasafe. ROP water is best (Reverse Osmosis Purified).

Check the filter foams. Some foams still have plastic packaging which has to be removed. Place the filter inside the tank. Ensure it is fully submerged under water. Plug it in and check that water is moving inside the tank. Filters should not be turned off except when you take them out to clean.

Stick the heater in the aquarium using the suckers, towards the back. Ideally placing it where you can easily adjust the dial on the top. The heater must be fully submerged. NEVER TAKE THE HEATER OUT THE WATER SWITCHED ON. It will smash and is dangerous. Always turn off the heater when doing any maintenance to the aquarium.

Place the thermometer where you can see it easily. You will either have a black one that sticks on the outside of the glass, or a glass on that attaches inside the aquarium.

Turn on the heater. A small light on the heater will come on every time the temperature gets too low. It will take 24 hours for your aquarium to heat up to a stable 24-27 ͦ c. After 24 hours check the reading on your thermometer which should be between 24-27 ͦ c. If it is below this range increase the heat by turning the dial on the heater to the next degree position. If it is too high, decrease the heater dial position by one degree. Repeat this after 24 hours until the temperature is stable between 24-27 ͦ c.

Place the plants into the gravel. When using quality potted plants, take the plants out of the pots and carefully push the roots into the gravel. Lead from bunched plants is safe so doesn’t need to be removed.

Plug in the lights and switch them on. Natural light must be replicated as much as possible for plants to grow, so try be aware that some light tubes help promote plant growth.

Lights should be turned off at night. Do not leave the lights on too long otherwise unsightly green algae will grow. No more than 9-12 hours per day is recommended to help reduce algae.

Leave the tank running for about 4 days before introducing the first fish.

Choose the fish carefully, ensuring all are compatible with each other. Only a few fish should be added to start off with, to avoid “New Tank Syndrome”.

Only feed 2 small pellets or flakes per day for each fish. All the food should be eaten within 2 minutes otherwise it will go off and the water will foul.

After a week, test the water to ensure waste levels such as Ammonia and nitrite don’t rise. High waste levels may kill the fish. You can test your water simply at home with colour test kits. Waste tests levels should be no higher than below.

Ammonia = 0.00ppm

Nitrite  = 0.00ppm

Nitrate  = less than 40ppm

Change 10% of the water every week. This should be done using a gravel cleaner and a bucket. Place the tube in the tank and siphon the water into the bucket. Do not use a cup or jug as you may knock the glass potentially breaking it.

Do not under any circumstances carry an aquarium when it contains water. You may break the glass and injure yourself. Warrantees for glass aquariums do not cover breakages or cracks.

Once every month turn off the filter, take it out of the water and clean the foam. Do not wash foams under the tap as the beneficial bacteria will die. Clean the foams out using the water collected in the bucket after your water change.

Some foams may need replacement monthly. See the manufacturers instructions.

Q and As

What is New Tank Syndrome?

All new aquariums take upto 12 weeks to mature and settle down biologically.

It is paramount that the aquarium is not overstocked or overfed at this time.

Denitrifying good bacteria grow in the filtration which break down all waste pollutants caused naturally by the fish. At first there is not enough of these good bacteria to deal with all the waste caused from the fish. By introducing only a small number of fish in the first few weeks and by feeding minimal amounts of food, these waste pollutants will not build up to high levels that will harm the fish.

By ensuring the waste levels are low, more fish can be added.

Monitoring the waste pollutants (Ammonia, Nitite and Nitrate), you can ensure a safe healthy aquarium is maintained.

What happens if waste levels such as ammonia or nitrite rise?

Daily 25% water changes need to be carried out until waste levels are reduced to safe levels. In addition stop feeding the fish until waste is under control.


Why did waste rise in the tank?

Overfeeding is the most common cause of tank pollution. Check that filters are working. Good water can turn bad within 12 hours by overfeeding.


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