Freshwater Aquarium

Setting Up A Home Aquarium: What Do I Need for a Fish Tank?

Every year thousands of people become fish parents and discover the natural wonders of aquariums

Before you think about buying a home aquarium for beginners, know what do I need for a fish tank. So, you have decided to treat yourself to the art and experience of freshwater aquarium fish keeping. Every year thousands of people become freshwater fish parents and discover the natural wonders of the aquarium. Aquariums provide a tranquil and relaxed atmosphere that leaves you feeling at peace. In this article, we will go through a step by step guide to setting up a home aquarium. Before that, ask yourself, “What do I need for a fish tank?” In the process of creating your little aquarium setup environment, you will also learn the process of setting up an aquarium, learn to introduce aquatic creatures, study how they should coexist, and also observe their behavior firsthand. There is nothing like having an aquarium to help you understand, appreciate, and respect the environment around us.

Fun, easy, and collaborating; by having an aquarium you can convert your home/office into an entertaining and relaxing area for your family/employees.

What Do I Need for a Fish Tank?

In the excitement of being a new pet parent, you have bought all the new gear and equipment, like aquatic plants, gravel, and filters, that are needed to start you off on your journey of prepping an aquarium. Now, before you start, it’s essential that you put in a lot of thought into where you want to place your tank. You need to make sure that the tank is placed on the even ground and the area that you decide on can support the full tank’s weight. The slanted tank can cause strain on the glass, and as a result, it can crack.

Hard and flat surfaces are ideal; cabinets are a popular choice and are needed for larger and heavier fish tank. For aquariums that are 30 gallons or less, any sturdy or reinforced furniture that’s compatible with a flat surface is enough.


Make sure that the chosen aquarium location can support the electrical requirements; this includes lights, heaters, and filters. Keep in mind that there is a power point nearby, if not then try to conceal the extension cord, the less amount of wires the better, its common sense that water and electricity don’t mix well together, so to avoid any potential harm to yourself keep the two far away from each other.

Before you ask yourself, “What do I need for a fish tank?” We have compiled a checklist that will enlighten you with the basic tips that you will need. Further on in the article, we will talk about setting up an aquarium more in detail and answer yourself about what do I need for a fish tank. 

  • Aquarium:

what do i need for a fish tank

A fish tank that is of at least 20 gallons is recommended for beginner fish keepers, large aquariums are generally more stable.

Aqueon Aquarium Fish Tank Starter Kits with LED Lighting:

This aquarium is great and is priced at 45 dollars, and it has a 4-star rating along with excellent customer reviews. The whole kit is fantastic and is available on in two variants 10 gallons and 20 gallons.

This community fish tank is currently in stock and is shipped, as well as, sold by The bright LED lighting brings the aquarium to life; the fish tank also includes a 10-gallon glass aquarium, low profile full hood LED light, quiet flow LED pro power filter with the Medium cartridge, 50W preset heater, premium fish food, water conditioner, fishnet, and a thermometer.

The filter has a red LED light that flashes to indicate when it’s time to change the cartridge. The pre-set heater will keep your aquarium temperature at a consistent 78 degrees; this temperature is excellent for tropical fishes; it also comes with a setup guide.


  • Fish tank gravel:

what do i need for a fish tank
Fish Tank Gravel

The gravel that you choose should be coarse enough to allow water to flow through it, but fine enough to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria. This includes creek stones, coarse sand, and glass gravel, and they are excellent choices. Avoid calcium and limestone based gravel.

Spectrastone Shallow Creek Regular for Freshwater Aquariums, 5-Pound Bag:

Every fish tank needs a good layer of gravel, and the spectral tone gravel is an excellent choice. Available on for 11 dollars, this product is currently in stock with a 4.5-star rating.

The gravel is exceptionally safe for usage in freshwater tanks, it won’t affect the pH level of the water, and it also has a non-toxic coating that won’t affect the health of your fishes.

  • Aquarium filter:

what do i need for a fish tank
Aquarium filter

Your fish tank filter should be rated to turn over the water at 3x to 5x speed to the aquarium volume every hour. For aquariums that are small sized, you can use hang-on-back filters that are perfect.

Polar Aurora 4-stage External Canister Filter with 9-watt Uv Sterilizer, 525 GPH:

By investing in a good filter, you can increase the mortality of your fishes and also reduce the instances that are needed for cleaning the water within the tank. This filter is priced at 76 dollars and is currently in stock on Two sizes are now available the 525 GPH with media and the 525 GPH without media.

This filter has stellar rating and reviews from customers online and is great for tanks that can hold up to 200 gallons of water. It has a built-in 9-Watt UV sterilizer that controls bacteria and algae spores from increasing and also helps promote clear water.

The filter has a self-priming pump that eliminates the need for manual siphoning, single valve disconnect, and priming pump was routine.

  • Replacement of the filter media:

what do i need for a fish tank
Replace of the filter media

Ensure that you have plenty of filter cartridges that you can replace whenever needed, they should be replaced regularly at every stage of your fish tan, and these cartridges will keep your tank clean and debris-free.

  • Heater:

what do i need for a fish tank
Fish Tank Heater

A fish tank heater is essential so that you can limit the spread of any disease; it also supports the living condition of tropical fish. Consult your dealer to know what kind of voltage your heater requires to match your aquarium.

Uniclife HT-6050 Aquarium Heater Submersible with Thermometer for 10 Gallon Fish Tank, 50 W:

This product is currently in stock and is priced at 10 dollars on This heater has a wide application and can be used for tropical freshwater fish tanks. It can be easily adjusted and displayed at the upper portion of the tank.

  • Other decorations:

what do i need for a fish tank
Other fish tank Decorations

It’s not necessary that you stick to gravel, you can spruce up your tank by adding some fake or real plants. Your fish will be happy with the added décor, feel free to add a sufficient amount of fish tank accessories but don’t overdo it.

Penn-Plax RRW6 Wizards Castle Small 5.5″H Aquarium Decorative Resin Ornament:


This aquarium décor piece provides visual interest to you and your fishes. The castle holes provide entryways for fish to swim through and this way they can reduce boredom as well. The castle is available on for 20 dollars and is currently in stock. The product has a 4.8-star rating and is very popular with fish tank owners too.

The ornament stands at 10.2 inches high and is 8 inches wide, the castle is double sided; this means that it can be placed at any portion of your fish tank. The castle is made of durable resin, and it isn’t toxic to the fishes. There are two sizes available on Amazon, and it ranges from 5.5’’ to 10’’.

Luffy Marimo Moss Balls – Aesthetically Beautiful & Create Healthy Environment – Eco-Friendly, Low Maintenance & Curbs Algae Growth:

By purchasing this product, you will be bringing home a live plant that will benefit the ambiance and the health of your aquarium. The four fluffy Moss balls are live plants that absorb nitrates. Fish excreta, debris, nitrates, and ammonia tend to disrupt the health, hygiene, and the pH level of the tank. If this natural moss ball is present in your fish tank, it will absorb all the toxic elements.  At 12 dollars, you can bring home a natural and thriving atmosphere for aquatic species.


They are available in large 2-packs, 4-packs, and 8-packs. The moss balls compete with algae for the same nutrients to grow, and since they absorb the necessary nitrates and phosphates, algae don’t have much to feed on. Consequently, the moss balls prevent the unwanted algae from growing back.


  • Aquarium water test kit:

what do i need for a fish tank
Aquarium water test kit

A good quality test kit is essential as it will allow testing the waters before you add your fish. It will alert you to the toxic conditions in your water tank and the pH level.

API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test Freshwater Aquarium Water Master Test Kit

You can purchase this kit on for 17.30 dollars. It’s a best- seller and a trendy choice among freshwater fish tank setup owners all over the United States! Don’t believe us? Then check the reviews, they are full of praises for this product; this is why it has garnered a four-and-a-half-star rating. The kit helps you monitor the nitrate level in your aquarium setup and keeps check of the pH level so that your fishes have a suitable environment to live in.  These are designed to be used only for freshwater aquarium setup. Use this kit weekly, and you will begin to see the results quickly.

  • Fish food:

what do i need for a fish tank
Fish Food

Quality fish food will result in healthy, active. Bright and beautiful fish that will look great in your tank, the fish should be fed at least twice a day; the best value can be obtained if you buy the fish food in bulk. It’s advised to use a mix of color enhancing flakes and frozen foods for more variety.

API TROPICAL Flakes Fish Food

For healthy and colorful fish for freshwater aquariums, you will have to provide them with good food. This fish food is good and is available on for 12 dollars. The sizes that are available range from 1.1 ounces to 5.7 ounces. This product contains all the key nutrients that are needed for a complete and balanced diet for all the tropical community fish. The ingredients include menhaden and squid that will provide the fish with all the necessary amino acids and optimal growth.

The food is created in a way that the all the nutrients are absorbed, and the fishes discharge less waste. This means that the water will stay cleaner and clearer because of this. This tropical aquarium fish will have to be fed twice a day, and the fish will consume it in three minutes.

  • Aquarium Vacuum:

what do i need for a fish tank
Aquarium Vacuum

The vacuum will be the heart of your aquarium and your maintenance team. It will help clean debris and feces from the gravel, and this will in turn help reduce nitrates and stress on your fish.

  • Fishnet:

what do i need for a fish tank

Fishnets are useful because they remove any dead plant matter, excess food and also help in moving your live fish.

  • Aquarium glass scrubber:

what do i need for a fish tank
Aquarium Glass Scrubber

A scrubber is an essential tool towards the maintenance of your fish tank, always give your glass a quick scrub before you’re ready to show off your tank to your house guests.

  • 5-gallon bucket:

what do i need for a fish tank
5-gallon bucket

A five-gallon bucket is useful as it will help house the fish when you are cleaning your fish tank or even to clean the gravel.

Now after you have found the answer to the question, “What do I need for a fish tank?” you will the need to follow the steps mentioned below to start setting up your very first fish tank, the equipment includes fish tank cleaner, aquarium stand, aquarium lighting and various another aquarium setup.

  • Cleaning the gravel:

what do i need for a fish tank
Cleaning the gravel

Once you have made up your mind on what kind of fish tank you want to use and the placement of the tank, then you can begin to set up your tank. Firstly you have to take the gravel that you bought and place it in your bucket. It is essential that you wash the gravel thoroughly, beginners generally tend to forget to wash the substrate, and this can result in the water in your tank being cloudy for weeks.

You can begin cleaning the gravel by taking a hose and spraying the gravel with water, make sure that the water is let out at pressure and spray the gravel directly in the bucket. While the gravel is being sprayed by water make sure that you use your hand to clean the gravel in a circular motion. After a few minutes drain the water and keep repeating the process until the drained water is clear, this will signify that the gravel is clean. The cleaning process is essential because it expels any dirt and grime that can pollute the fish tank.

  • Placing the substrate:

what do i need for a fish tank
Placing the substrate

Gently start placing the gravel into the aquarium, make sure you don’t toss the gravel in as this can damage the glass and cause cracks. A small scoop can help speed the process up. The gravel should then be evened out with the help of your hands to create an even base that is at least half an inch thick. It is suggested that you create a slight slant from the front of the tank towards the back; this will give an illusion of depth and provide a good perspective as well.

  • Filling the aquarium:

what do i need for a fish tank
Filling the aquarium

Fill the tank with the help of a hosepipe, and if you don’t have a small tank that or you don’t have access to a hosepipe then you can make use of a bucket, it should do the trick. After you have filled the water tank, make use of the de-chlorinator, even though there are no fishes chlorine and chloramines can build up over time. You should use a high-quality de-chlorinator for the benefit of the aquatic life in your aquarium, it may not sound like an investment, but once you buy it, you will need to use it every time you change the water in your tank and not just when you initially fill it.

  • Choosing the right heater and filler:

what do i need for a fish tank
Choosing the right heater and filler

When you ask yourself, “What do I need for a fish tank?” It’s very important that you choose the right heater and filler.

  • Filter material:

what do i need for a fish tank
Filter material

Gently clean out the filter material that is located under the tap or in a bucket. This needs to be done because the filter materials are stored in a warehouse, and they contain dust and debris;  you would not want dust in your tank. If your filter has a wool carbon packet, you will have to be careful not to rip it open.


You should also wash and clean any rocks and ornaments that you wish to include in your fish tank. You will be shocked to notice how much dirt comes off, and you don’t want that to be included in your aquarium. Once you’re done cleaning place the filter in the tank.

If it’s a hang on the filter you will need to fill up the reservoir manually, for cycling you will need to put it at the maximum. You can even do the same exercise for a canister filter and guarantee that the baskets are closely stacked and that the top is tightly locked in place to prevent any leaks.

  • Heating and lighting: what do I need for a fish tank

what do i need for a fish tank
Heating and Lighting

Two heaters are usually recommended, but in a small fish tank, you can use only one since there is a lack of space. Heaters that can comfortably fit in a small tank are usually a good idea, and higher wattage heaters are a good choice as they are better and will save power and provide less strain on the heater.

Firstly, you will need to stick the heater to the glass of your fish tank where there are a good water flow and less visibility. Then you will have to turn it on by rotating the temperature knob anywhere between 74 to 80 degrees, and an orange light should come on while the heating element is active, this will provide aid in the cycling process.


Always choose a good light for the aquarium. You have to place the appropriate light on or above the tank; and also set a timer for no more than eight hours every day.

Now you can start enjoying your tank as it begins to process healthy bacteria and support your eco-community.

  • Cycling: what do I need for a fish tank

what do i need for a fish tank
Cycling the tank

At this stage, you will have to “cycle” your aquarium. This will endorse the buildup of de-nitrifying bacteria and is vital towards setting up your new fish tank.

Monitoring the fish tank during and after the cycle is significant. You can do it with your freshwater test kit. Most aquarium stores will also test your water for a tiny fee. A good quality test kit will be used for the lifespan of your tank; it can prepare you for an early disaster and is an excellent investment that will end up saving you money.

The cycling process will stop any needless death of the aquarium’s first populace.

Conclusion on what do I need for a fish tank

When you take care of your fish tank, it translates to healthy fishes. It’s vital to replace your filter cartridge and perform a 25 percent water change every two to four weeks; you will also need to vacuum the gravel methodically to remove any waste buildup. The easiest and effective way to achieve a water change and gravel cleaning is with a normal, siphon-operated gravel vacuum. Water that appears cloudy, yellowish, or begins to smell bad is a sign that your aquarium water needs to change and a new filter cartridge needs to be fitted immediately.

Due to too much crowd in the aquarium, the problem may persist. Alternatively, it may be because you have overfed the fishes. It’s recommended that you bring a sample of your water to your dealer for testing. Remember, when replacing water in an aquarium, make sure that you treat it first. Most tap water contains chlorine, and by adding untreated tap water to your tank, you could harm your fish.

To Conclude:

Be sure to ask your dealer for the water Dechlorinator that works best with your local tap water and replaces old water with new water of approximately the same temperature to avoid shocking your fish. Set aside a variety of buckets, sponges, and towels for your aquarium usage. These tactics prevent the entry of harmful pollutants into the system. Also, always keep in mind to unplug electrical equipment before performing aquarium maintenance of any kind.

Hopefully, the above points help answer the question, “What do I need for a fish tank?” and will provide a useful insight into your journey of being a fish keeper.

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