Setting up an aquarium: a few steps to your dream aquarium

So, you’ve found the perfect aquarium for your needs and now you want to get creative. We can help you to achieve your dream of your own underwater world, step by step.

Day 1 

You can start to enjoy the fascinating facets of the aquarium from day one. Start with the interior design of your underwater world and design everything just how you want it.

  • Set up filters, lighting, heating and thermometers plus any optional equipment following the manufacturer's instructions for use. Attach all the equipment you wish to operate in the aquarium. For example, wet the suction cups on the devices so that they bond better. You can then carefully continue to add to the aquarium. This makes it easier to identify in advance where there is still sufficient space for the substrate, decoration (hardscape) and plants. 

    Note: Do not turn on any of the equipment until you have filled the aquarium with water (see step 5).

  • Select materials to suit the population, as coarse and sharp-edged gravel is not suitable for all fish or plants, for example. First, as the bottom layer, add a nutrient base for the plants in the aquarium. It should make up around one-third of the total substrate. This is followed by a layer of gravel or sand that is several centimetres thick. If necessary, wash the material before adding it.

    Note: To preserve nutrients, do not wash nutrient base material. 

    After adding the substrate, continue with the next steps for decorations and plants. Or add the water first as described in step 5 and then start your design work.

    Tip: Use different heights to achieve an impressive depth effect. For example, pile the substrate up towards the back wall.

  • Materials such as root woods, stones or artificial decorative elements, ideally from specialist retailers, should suit the needs of the aquarium inhabitants. Now position the objects to form a basic layout. In addition, you can create hiding places for the aquarium inhabitants or copy complete models from nature. Just use your imagination. The only important thing is that you make the structure stable so that nothing slips later. 

    Tip: Soak wood in water for four to five days before placing it in the aquarium. This removes unwanted colourings in advance. Soaked woods are also heavier and will not float to the surface when inserted.

  • Select plants of different heights to achieve a good depth effect and enable you to watch the aquarium inhabitants clearly. Make sure that there are enough hiding places for your aquarium inhabitants: this helps them to reduce stress and feel comfortable. It is best to position plants in the aquarium using plant tweezers. Wet the substrate beforehand with a spray bottle or add a few centimetres of water. Remove the plants from the pots before inserting them. Remove the rock wool or nutrient solution and rinse the plants thoroughly. If necessary, remove dead parts of plants and cut the roots with scissors.

  • Once everything has been set up, you can carefully fill the aquarium with water from a watering can or hosepipe. You can then start the technical equipment. However, do not put any inhabitants into the aquarium yet. 

    Tip: Alternatively, when filling, let the water run slowly over a plate to prevent the aquarium design from being disturbed or destroyed.

Weeks 1 to 3

The aquarium must be run in and its biological equilibrium established during weeks one to three. The filter takes about one to three weeks to establish the biology. During this time, helpful bacteria settle in the filter to ensure the biological balance in the aquarium. We recommend using water purifiers such as LessStress to safely remove chlorine or heavy metals from the water. They are also recommended for every subsequent water change.

Tip: To reduce the waiting time, you can use proven bacterial products from the AquariumActiv Range. 

  • Change one third of the water volume every week. 

    Tip: Do not change the water and clean the filter at the same time. This would remove too many important bacteria. Leave a few days between these two actions.

  • Use test strips as the first indicator and have the water tested by a specialist dealer if necessary. The correct water values depend on the type and number of fish. The main guide values are that NO3 (nitrate) should be less than 50 mg/l and NO2 (nitrite) and NH3 (ammonia) should be less than 0.1 mg/l. Too much PO4 (phosphate) and nitrate will promote algae growth and too high a nitrate value may harm the fish. If the values are not quite right, you must continue to change the water weekly and test it. You can correct the values, for example, using products from the AquariumActiv care series

    Tip: Test the water values weekly, in the morning shortly before or after first light.

  • Depending on the type of plant and how many there are, it makes sense to start fertilising so that they grow healthily. Important micro and macronutrients can be supplied by suitable fertilisers.

  • If the water values are ideal for your fish stock, you can now insert the aquarium inhabitants. To do this, first switch off the aquarium light. Place the bag with the aquarium inhabitants in the tank. To ensure a perfect temperature balance, wait about 10 minutes before opening the bag. To do this, roll up the edge so that the bag floats. To make it easier for the aquarium inhabitants to acclimatise, gradually add some aquarium water. Then place the aquarium inhabitants in the tank using a landing net. 

    Your dream aquarium is now complete. Maintain it regularly so that the inhabitants feel comfortable in their beautiful surroundings for a long time.

How do you care for your aquarium properly?

Your dream aquarium is finished and your fish have moved in – but what then?