Beginning a Freshwater Aquarium

by ​Susan Horton, DVM

Day 1- Set up the aquarium

  • Adjust the water temperature to 76-80 degrees. Make sure it stays in this area for 24 hours.
  • De-chlorinate and condition the water with chemicals
  • Confirm that all equipment is running correctly by letting the filter run for 24 hours.

Day 10-12 add started fish

  • Limit fish purchases. 1-2 fish per 10 gallons every 10-14 days.
  • Choose hardy fish.
  • Add live plants (optional).
  • Do not feed the same day fish are purchased.

Day 10-12

  • Begin light feedings. Feed every other day, once a day for the first month.
  • Observe fish for stress (rapid breathing, lethargy, clamped fins).

Day 14

  • Recommended water change, 1/3 water change with a gravel cleaner

Day15+

  • Purchase new fish (optional) using a ratio of 1-2  fish per 10 gallons.
  • As you enjoy watching your new pets, look out for signs of illness.

Day 15-30

  • Observe fish daily for signs of stress or illness.
  • Have water tested at least once a month

Day 30 cleaning (Refer to our free how to clean sheet)

  • Do 1/3 water change with a gravel cleaner.
  • Change filter cartridges.
  • Have water tested one week after this water change.

Important Notes

The first 4-6 weeks a tank is set up is when most people experience problems. This sheet is designed to help you get through this period. By following the above steps you should do great!

Remember!

  • Do not overfeed.
  • Buy fish in small quantities.
  • Have your water tested.
  • Observe your fish for stress.
  • ​Have fun & enjoy!
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