How to set up a Fish Tank: A Step by Step Guide

  1. Remove aquarium from the box

    Carefully remove your tank from its box and place in a safe spot. Build your stand (if needed) at this point. While you’re able to get to the back of aquarium easily, add your aquarium background if you have purchased one. If your tank comes with a light, ensure that it is working by plugging in and turning on. You may also want to wipe down the inside of the tank with a damp cloth (free of any chemicals or soaps) to ensure there is no dust.

  2. Put your aquarium in its place

    Once you have built your stand and added your background, place your tank in its designated area. Doing this now will be much easier and safer than when it is full of water and very heavy.

  3. Rinse all gravel and ornaments

    With some hot water (free of any chemicals or soaps), thoroughly rinse your gravel and any ornaments you have purchased. This will ensure they are free of dust and any paint. Place them in the tank by adding the gravel slowly and carefully, to ensure it doesn’t hit the bottom of the tank too hard and cause damage.


    Rinse your gravel with a strainer to make the process much easier!

  4. Fill your tank

    Fill your tank with tap water. You may want to use a hose if possible. Begin filling the tank slowly to avoid any cloudiness from your gravel.


    Place a small plate in the bottom of your tank and slowly pour the water into the tank over the plate, to minimise cloudiness.

  5. Turn on filter (and heater if applicable)

    Now is the time to turn on all electrical equipment associated with your tank (do NOT do this beforehand as this will damage your electrical equipment). The light can stay off for now if you would prefer. As a general rule, only leave your light on for up to eight hours per day, as any longer may promote algae growth.

  6. Add in treatments

    Read all instructions on your treatment bottles to ensure you are adding the right dosage to your tank. Add in all treatments now.

  7. Let the tank cycle

    Allow your tank to cycle and create a healthy biological filter before adding in any fish. This may take up to one month. To begin the cycle, add a good pinch of fish food to the water; this will break down into ammonia and products promoting bacteria will start to act.

    By letting a healthy environment develop, you will decrease the chance of your tank suffering from New Tank Syndrome which is a toxic buildup of ammonia and nitrites.

    After this time, take a sample of your tank water (about 100ml, in a clean container with lid) into your local PETstock store for free water testing. A PETstock Person will ensure your water’s pH, GH, ammonia and other levels are all optimal before you add your fish. If these results are positive, it’s time to purchase some fishy family members!


    Don’t be worried if your tank seems murky or cloudy for the first few weeks, this is normal and will fade in time. If this persists, ask your local PETstock team about water clarifying products. Keep reading for common causes of cloudy and green water.

Our Recommended Products

API Quick Start Aquarium Water Conditioner

  • Immdediately kick starts the natural aquarium cycle.
  • Contains nitrfying bacteria helping to establish the biological filtration process which consumes ammonia and nitrate.

API Perfect Start

  • Consists of 3 envelopes to use on Day 1 when setting up the aquarium, Day 14, and Day 28 after the aquarium is set up.

Aqua One Gravel

  • Provides aesthetic appeal to your fish tank
  • Substrate for live plants and aqua scaping
  • Aids in biological filtration, providing a substrate or "home" for the beneficial bacterial colonies that help keep your fish healthy.
  • Immitates their natural environment which will reduce stress levels in your fish.

Aqua One Clear View Hang on Aquarium Filter

  • Ideal for garden aquariums or inside tanks where a submersible filter would take up too much space.
  • Provide high levels of filtration through an easy to remove and replace filter cartridge.
  • Removes debris, tannins and harmful chemicals from your aquarium water.

Aqua One Barrel Aquarium Ornament

  • Increases the vibrancy of your aquarium.
  • Great way to conceal unsightly submerged equipment that can ruin the appearance of your aqua scaping.
  • Provides a place for your fish to hide if their tank is in a high traffic area, or if you have more territorial fish in the same tank.


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