In the first section of Beginners guide to fishkeeping, we discussed how to plan a freshwater aquarium, including how to select fish, types of equipment, and many more. In this part, let’s talk about how to set up your first aquarium and how to make it ready to accumulate fish.

Where is the best place to put my aquarium?

Where to place the aquarium
Where to place the aquarium

Fish tank placement is an important factor. Especially if you’re going to a large tank, the water in the tank alone weighs over a thousand pounds. So the fish tank placement in your home will be absolutely critical. 

Normally outside perimeter of the house is good for your fish tank placement. Because those walls are usually going to be the strongest as they got the foundation below them. as well as if you are in a storied house, the ground floor will be the best. 

Another thing to talk about is windows. If there is direct sunlight coming into your tank, it’s going to cause all kinds of algae problems in your tank. So think about the placement of the windows and how much direct sunlight will get. 

Not only direct sunlight, but even the high-powered aquarium lights also can cause to Algae problems. According to usual aquarium lighting practices, the ambient light in the room is enough for fish to thrive and survive. 

As well as, if you live in a colder climate, in the wintertime, the cold air might come through the windows or doors, and then it may be a little bit harder to maintain a proper water temperature in your fish tank.

Another important thing is tank maintenance, that we’ll talk more about beginners’ guide to aquarium maintenance. You may need to change the water. 

So how close is your fish tank to the water source is also important. If your fish tank is closer to a sink or any other certain water source, it’s going to be a little bit easier.

Finally, you should place your fish tank where you can enjoy it. But consider staying away from overactive areas where you’ve got lots of action going. Because it might stress your fish.

Enjoying the Fish tank
Enjoying the Fish tank

Once you have found that perfect spot in your home, it’s time to put all things together and set up your aquarium. Start with the substrate. 

How to add substrate to the aquarium?

Aquarium substrate is an important part of your tank, So put some time into selecting the right substrate

Aquarium Substrate
Aquarium Substrate

There is no particular rule as to how much substrate you must have in your tank to keep it healthy .so just make sure you have good coverage across the bottom. But just remember, more substrate means somewhat difficult for maintenance. So don’t put it too deeply. 

Fish Tank Decoration

Next up, start adding aquarium decors that you selected. When selecting the aquarium decors, make sure to select items that are safe for your fish. You have to consider the material and shape of the aqua decors. Because if there are any sharp edges, it can damage your fish.

Always try to do the fish tank decoration before adding water. Because it’s just easier to see, and things will not try to float around. 

Aquarium Decorating
Aquarium Decorating

Decorating your aquarium is totally up to you. This is an opportunity for you to be artistic and make the tank your own little art project. So take your time and have fun with it. Finally, take a step back and look at it overall and see how things are going to look. 

Then it’s time to start placing the equipment such as your aquarium filter, airstones, heaters, and lights. First, we have to place that equipment properly, and we can plug them in after filling the water. If you run these pieces of equipment dry with no water in them, a lot of them can burn up really quickly.

How to set up the aquarium Air stone?

Aquarium air stones are more than just decorations. They help provide current in the tank and keep water moving around. It helps to avoid any kind of dead zones in the fish tank. 

You can use vacuum clips to properly manage the air tubes and place the air stone.

Air stone Placement
Air stone Placement

How to set up the aquarium Filter?

Then it’s time to install the filter. You should select a suitable filter for your aquarium according to the tank size, fish habitats and other factors. 

Actually, installation steps will somewhat vary according to your selected filter type. Therefore you can refer to the user manual of your filter to get an idea about the installation process.

Different types of sponge filters
Different Types of Aquarium filters

Does aquarium filter placement matter?

The placement of the aquarium filter is very important. When placing your filter, you should consider getting the maximum water circulation throughout the tank. It should be able to push most of the fish waste into the filter.

Normally, it’s better to place your filter the way across the tank from your airstone. Because if your air stone is too close to your filter, it might get some of those bubbles sucked up into the filter, which can affect the efficiency of your filter. 

The filter will also throw your bubbles all over the tank and just give a messy look.

How to set up the Aquarium Heater?

Placement of the aquarium heater is quite easy. First up, make sure to set up the correct temperature level that your fish will require. Then check whether there are any damages or leaks.

Where to place the Heater in your Fishtank?

The location of your heater is pretty important. You should place it in an area with a lot of water movements so that the nice warm water gets spread throughout the tank and doesn’t just warm up one stagnant area. 

Practically you can use the currents formed by the air stones or filter outlets. When placing it directly above the air stone, the air bubbles from the air stone will circulate and spread that nice warm water throughout the whole tank. 

As well as, the bubbles will help you to hide the heater and may keep your eye directed away from it.

What is the easiest way to fill a fish tank?

After placing all the equipment, you can start filling your aquarium. You can simply use a garden hose to fill up your tank easily. By placing a bowl on the bottom of the tank where the water hits, you can avoid getting splashed around and redecorating your tank.

If you’re using buckets to fill your tank, you can do the same thing with a bowl. Just dump the bucket’s water straight into the bowl. It will keep things more settled at the bottom instead of just throwing everything around all over the place. 

When the tank is filling up, that is a great time to add all of your water conditioners and other chemicals that you might be using, like quick starters or live bacteria. Just be sure to read the instructions on the products to ensure proper dosing of these chemicals.

Fish Tank Lighting Setup

After that, you can place the lids and the lights of your aquarium. There are different types of lights with different types of fixtures. You should select an aquarium light with a suitable capacity.

Aquarium Lights
Aquarium Lights

Now it’s time to plug everything in, and you are all set now.

Just take a step back from the tank and make sure everything is functioning properly, including your filter and air stone. Aquarium lights and heaters. These things aren’t overly complicated, but you definitely want to take a step back to see how everything looks before you step back and just let nature take its course. 

Aquarium Cycling

Finally, your aquarium is ready to go to the next stage; cycling your aquarium. It is the next most important thing that everyone should know in the hobby. 

In the cycling process, what we do is establish the Nitrogen Cycle in the aquarium. Nitrogen Cycle is the biological filter that removes toxic substances from your aquarium.

Normally cycling process will take up to 2-3 weeks. But there are several methods and tactics to speed up the cycling process. It is absolutely critical for new aquariums, and read our “Complete Guide Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle” to learn everything you need.


In the previous guide, we discussed how to plan your freshwater aquarium and how to select the correct equipment. In this guide, you now got an idea about how to set up your aquarium correctly. 

Setting up your Fish tank

When setting up the tank, just remind to read all the instructions that come with your pieces of equipment. It is very important to make sure that you’re assembling those equipment properly. 

Now you have to wait until your tank gets cycled and make sure to read all necessary instructions to cycle your aquarium. Next up, we have to accumulate fish into the aquarium and enjoy the beauty.


I am Prasanjaya who is an aquarium hobbyist for nearly a decade. I wish to help fishkeepers to get accurate and helpful information regarding every aspect of fishkeeping.

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