Get £5 off when you spend £75 or more!

Use code SAVE5 in checkout on orders over £75

How to set up an Aquarium

Setting Up and Aquarium

All aquariums differ but the general way of setting up an aquarium is standard.


Postioning an aquarium is an important decision.

Try to keep the aquarium away from direct sunlight, vibrations and loud noises (speakers etc).

The floor must be strong and level. Ensure that electric points are easy to access.
Try to postion the aquarium so that it is easy to view and maintain.
If the aquarium does not have a plinth, use polystyrene tiles to rest the aquarium on.


Wash all gravel very well in tap water (if setting up a marine reef aquarium wash the sand/gravel in RO water). Use a bucket or bowl to rinse the gravel, allowing the dirty water to run away leaving clean gravel for the aquarium. Coral sand, coral gravel and other substrates must also be washed well.

Using gravel that has not been washed well, will result in a cloudy looking aquarium.


Background pictures come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most common is a picture "off a roll". This can be used either inside the aquarium or outside. Sticking the picture inside gives a much brighter and cleaner looking background, but has the disadvantage of needing to be glued (using aquarium sealant). Also if the picture ever needed to be changed, the aquarium would have to be drained.

Placing the picture on the outside of the aquarium (with sellotape) is the easier option.

Resin and contoured backgrounds have to be glued in place and needs to be done before water is added to the aquarium. The setting time of the glue is normally 24 hours.


Undergravel filters:

Most undergravel filters come as a complet kit, containing uplift tubes, air line and air stones. The filter plate is postioned so that the uplift tubes are at the rear of the aquarium, and the outer edges of the plate are FLAT with the bottom of the aquarium (we have visited many aquariums where the plate is upside down).

The uplift tube may need to be shortened so that the water level is ABOVE the top of the uplift tube. Attach the air line and the air pump (which sits OUTSIDE the aquarium - it is not submersible!). If powerheads are being used, remove the air line and air stones, and seat the powerhead(s) to the uplift tube(s).
Cover the filter plate with gravel, to a depth of between 3/4" and 1" thick.

Power filters: Read the instructions provided with the filter.
The filter needs to be postioned where it can be easily maintained, as well as being unobtrusive. The filter will need to be removed from the aquarium on a regular basis, so ensure it can easily reached and removed for cleaning.


Most aquariums use a combined submersible glass heater and thermostat.
Read the instructions provided with the heater. Position the heater so that it is provided with good water movement and circulation, but is also unobtrusive.
Do not poisiton the heater where is can be damagaed by falling rocks or other items in the aquarium.


The aquarium is now ready for water.
Add tap water to the aquarium. Fill the aquarium from a bucket or hose pipe, using a plate or rock for the water to spill onto. This stops the gravel from being disturbed.
Once the aquarium is full, switch each electrical item on one at a time, testing each operation.
The water will be cold and cloudy. Allow 24 hours for temperature to rise and the filter to remove most of the debris in the water.
Add chemicals to remove to chlorine, and if provided, bacteria for the filter. We would advise that the bacteria is added just before adding new fish, rather than to an empty aquarium which will then be left to stand.
The glass will be covered in bubbles, these will clear within 24 hours.
The temperature for a tropical community aquarium
should be:
24 - 26 deg C.



Urmston Aquatics