Begginer Fish Tank




A simple step by step guide to setting up your first ten gallon tropical fish tank. If you enjoy it please digg it!

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Step 1: Information to Know

Welcome to step one. I feel that before you go out and buy all the stuff, you should know a few things about keeping a fish tank.

1. If you want to have a fish tank, your going to have to put in time and commitment.
2. don't try to do something above your level.
3. you WILL have weekly chores.
4. fish are alive. treat them that way.
5. have lots of paper towels ready

Step 2: Scout Out a Location

Alright, it's time to find somewhere to put the thing. Find the room you want to put it in, perhaps the living room for all to see, or the bedroom for you and you alone to watch. Whene finding a spot you have to take a few things into consideration.

It should NOT be by any of the following:

places where peoplengo to and fro a lot.

Lets consider an area that it SHOULD be around:

close to sources of water
area with a fair amount of space
electrical outlets.

Step 3: Lets Buy! Main Equipment.

Since its a bigginer tank, we won't get into any serious aquascaping (making it look like the natural inviroment of the fish you have) but if you have a fish store owner who knows his stuff and can help you, go for it!

We'll buy the fish later, first lets start with the equipment.

The tank. We are setting up a ten gallon tank, so you should buy a glass or acrylic ten gallon tank. If you can buy a ten gallon aquarium kit (usually contain chemicals, the tank, a filter system and a lid) thats great, but you will still need to buy more. Starting to sound exspensive!

Lets say you dont have a kit. You will need to buy a SNUG fitting lid to go on top of the tank. perferably one with a built in light (such a florescent) or you will have to set that up yourself later.

Alright! We have a tank! lets move on!
Say you dont have a kit, or it didnt come with a filter. Lets buy that next! There are many different filter types, all with many different ways of getting the job done. Lets start with a simple filter that hangs on the back of the tank called a power filter, which contains a sponge and activated carbon inserts.

Speaking of the filter, lets buy another carbon filter insert for your filter for when the other one should be changed. Also, buy a foam insert.

Heater. A very important peice of a tropical fish tank. Buy a heater thats rated for a ten gallon tank, and dont buy a cheap one thats going to break. You should buy one with a built in thermometer that keeps the temperature constant. another thing we have to buy is a thermometer. They come as stickers you can apply to the outside of the tank, or more expensive ones that stay in the water on the inside of the tank.

Air pump. why not? it provides your tank with vital airation and can be used in conjunction with a moving decoration. buy an airstone to go with it. Also, some airline tubing that will fir tightly around its nozzle.


We need two chemicals. Prime (chlorine, chloramine, ammonia cleaner, also detoxifies nitrite and nitrate, provides slime coat) and stress zyme biological filtration booster.

Buckets etc.

Buy a bucket to only be used for the fish tank. Do not clean with any chemical cleaners. just water. also, a few nets and a gravel cleaner.

Lastly, a power bar.

Step 4: Lets Buy! Gravel Etc.

Alright! Time for some cool stuff!

Gravel. So many different colors. Why not choose a combination of colors? Buy enough to cover about an inch of the bottom.

Plants. Lets go with plastic. Buy a few for your fish to hide around

Ornaments. Buy some for your fish to hide around.

Pnumatic? If you feel you must buy a clam, chest or something else that opens and bubbles, go ahead!

Background paper. Buy it by the mile.

Step 5: Setting Up the Tank

No, no fish yet.

Okay! Lets start. First, place your stand where you are going to set up your fish tank. Then, before you put the tank on it, put the tank on a counter, ad a LITTLE water, about and inch, and check for leaks. It's not very good if you fill it up and it leaks.

Now, place your tank on the stand. Take your gravel out of the packages and put it in the sink or the bucket you bought. Wash it with throughly water NO SOAP OR OTHER CLEANERS! Place your gravel at the bottom. Now, take any plants and ornaments and wash them, and place them in the tank. Set up any pnumatic parts now. Do not run them. Think about set up, and a good display. Fill your bucket with water, take it to the tank, fill and repeat until the water is an inch from the top. Put on the lid and the filter, and place the air pump wherever it wont move. Set up the heater in a corner of the tank. Plug the power bar into the wall, and place on the ground Put the heater on the lowest temperature, and plug it in. Then set it to about 76 F, or 24 C. Add the thermometer. Now, clean the activated carbon and sponge inserts for your filter, and put them in. Pour water into your filter until it pours into your tank, and plug it in. Plug in your air pump and light, and voila! The tank is set up.

Step 6: Chemicals

Argh. STILL no fish.

First, we have to add chemicals.

Add stress zyme and chlorine remover to the water, following the manufacturers instructions.

Wait. 24 hours. Once 24 hours is up, go get your water checked at the pet store. It should be ready.

Step 7: Fish!

Fish! It's time for FISH!

Lets go get some fish.

To the pet store!

Try to go to a smaller fish store that specilizes in fish.

Lets start with some harlequin rasboras. three.

Bring em home, and float the bags they are in the water for ten minutes. Then add the bag of water to your aquarium.


From now on, do not add the water that comes with the fish to your fishtank. Instead, add some of your fishtank water to the bag, then, use a net to put them in your tank.

Step 8: Caring for Fish

Caring for fish.

Lets start with water.

For the first month, change about a pitcher of water a day.
When you add the new water, treat it with the chemicals

After a month, change your water twice weekly (about on 1/3rd of it)

Make sure to get your water checked WEEKLY, and follow any instructions from store owners to keep it clean.

Gravel. Use the gravel cleaner to clean the gravel. Once weekly.

Filter. Change the activated carbon insert according to the manufacturers instructions. DO NOT CHANGE THE SPONGE FILTER! It contains helpful bacteria that you need! Gently rinse with water if needed.

Feed your fish only what they completely eat in five minutes. No more.

Daily: Check the fish to see if they are acting strange or have disease. Ask a fish store owner on how to treat it. Check the water temperature, all of the equipment, and the clarity of the water. Feed.

Step 9: More Fish?

Before you get more fish, wait about a month, get your water checked, and ask a fish store owner what would go well with what you have!

Step 10: Enjoy.

Enjoy your fish.

Do not use this instructable as your complete guide. Read books and ask fish store owners about different aspects of fishkeeping, and remember, have fun.

Tip: Try to find a fishstore owner who genuenly seems interested in your fishtank, and not just what you are buying, and doesnt try to up-sell you.

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    42 Discussions


    7 months ago on Step 10

    Mr.M . Thank you for the write up man. Me and my girlfriend just bought an aquarium is the 10 gallon one and we have a beta fish that we want to put into the tank his name is George, king George..he currently resides in 1 gallon tank. we bought the aquarium about 48 hours ago and prepped it pretty close to as youve suggested, but everywhere we read online says we have to wait six weeks but I want to immediately transport George to his new kingdoms. while my girlfriend is actually concerned about his well-being. We need some professional advice and also a mediator between us as you can see this is a serious matter.
    Any advice ?
    Please help!
    On behalf of,
    King George


    Question 8 months ago

    I have a quick question is it true you have to wait 2 week to put fish in the tank


    Question 8 months ago on Step 6

    Do my fish tank is suppose to look like this because In person it look like the water is foggy


    8 months ago on Step 6

    What do you mean by go get your water check at the store


    2 years ago

    i set up my fish tank about 4 weeks ago

    i bought all equipment needed and i still cant add fish as the level of nitrite is high.

    the fish store guy told me to buy waterlife test kit but so far results haven't changed even though i am adding waterlife bacterlife to digest ammonia and nitrite.

    I even bought Prime Seachem but no effect

    So far since i bought and set it up i haven't changed any water as i was told to keep it to build good bacteria only change after a week after fish is added.

    I am desperate and do not know what to do rather than wait. PLEASE advice on what i am doing wrong

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    wow never knew you have to do that. is this applicable for goldfish or is it more hard to take care of fish?


    Reply 1 year ago

    I was responding and then it disappeared.... ok.. Prime is excellent! But you have to do a 20-30% water change everyday for a week and add the full dose of what your tank size is to the water. On the first 2 days I added a little more to get a jump start. It's team work with prime. Nitrites and nitrates will fluctuate because your tank is cycling... which I suppose by now it already has. It's ok to have a little nitrates (no more than 45ppm). I hope all is well. It's a learning process and it can be so frustrating but once you figure it out you become more confident that you know a little more than before. Good luck and happy tanking!!!


    Question 1 year ago on Step 7

    Is it true that you have to wait 24 hour before putting the fish in the tank?


    2 years ago

    would beach shells be a bad decision to put in a tank?


    4 years ago

    There was nothing said about the cycling of the tank, before adding fish?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Choosing the right kind of fish for your aquarium is very important as there are different kind of fish which prefer different environment; read all about it here.


    6 years ago

    Insted of taking the water to a pet store,API has a liquid test kit that you take tour water and put it in a test tube with solution to check if everything is OK. Plus all i have by me is petsmart and petco. Those people dont know a thing about fish...


    7 years ago on Step 8

    What would you do if you're sponge filter has the carbon inside of it


    7 years ago on Introduction

    i dont know in gallons.. but will a 16-17 litre tank be alright?


    10 years ago on Step 7

    Depends upon the water quality you have available how quickly you can add the fish. I'm lucky, I have well water that filters through about 300' of layered coal, sand and clay. It is absolutely pristine when I pump it out of the ground and into my house, so I literally can fill an aquarium with water and put the fish right in it without waiting. And yes, I've got everything from koi ponds to salt water aquariums, and I've been keeping fish for a good 30+ years now - all using this same water.

    I will say, you should never ever add the water the fish came in to your aquarium. Buy a bottle of Cycle instead. The Cycle will add the bacteria you need, but not the chemicals etc. you will find in the water from the store.


    10 years ago on Step 5

    just wondering what do you do if you use a fine substrate like live sand or something and what fine substrate would be best ora tropical freshwater tank


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the instructable - the info was good. i'm building my own aquarium and needed to know a little more about maintenance issues - so you helped alot. The only criticism I would offer is that after reading your PDF, I would suggest to the author that he may want to find an "English spelling" instructable..... :)

    Running Wolf

    10 years ago on Step 8

    You can also do a 50% water swap out every other week, but make sure to check the water parameter, change sooner if the water is going bad. For your first tank you will most likely not want to go with a liquid test kit (about $35), the $10 strips should be good enough.