Setting up a Healthy Aquarium Environment for Your Fish

Installing and setting up a new aquarium that will support the wellbeing of your fish is a big priority, but it can be challenging for new and inexperienced hobbyists. At Hikari®, we have over a hundred years of experience giving enthusiasts the knowledge and products their fish need to look and feel their best. Read on for a checklist to help you set up the perfect environment for your aquatic pet.

Fish Tank Setup

Establishing a healthy aquatic environment can be a labor of love but also can be an investment in both time and money. Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind when purchasing and setting up your fish tank. Before settling on the size of aquarium for your fish, it is good to consider the ideal location for the tank. A hard, flat surface that is away from direct sunlight, heater vents, drafts or entryways is an ideal choice, as fish are often sensitive to rapid fluctuation in temperature.

Once you have decided the location, consider the size of the tank that is most appropriate for the number and size of the fish you eventually intend to keep. Many beginners find 10-gallon tanks are a good place to start, but larger aquariums are often recommended to provide enough water to avoid big changes in water parameters and prevent overcrowding as the fish grow. Both glass and acrylic aquariums are great, affordable options, though glass is often cheaper, likely readily available, and more resistant to scratching. It can be tempting for some owners to forego a lid to their aquarium to save money up-front, however the cost is well worth it when considering evaporation issues and lost tank inhabitants who are jumpers.

Once you have selected your tank, equipment like a heater and filter are essential in keeping the tank clean and temperature in the proper range for your fish. While some species do better in cooler temperatures, most freshwater fish prefer slightly warmer temperatures that are often hotter than the temperature of your home. A heater coupled with a thermometer provides ample control when it comes to setting your tank to the temperature your fish will thrive in. Filters are also important in removing waste and maintaining water quality, and filter sponge, like our Bacto-Surge® Filters, gives your fish more oxygen to breathe, improves water circulation and increases biological action to reduce waste and improve clarity.

Adding substrate and decorations like our new resin ornaments, rocks, plants and gravel, ensures your fish will feel right at home in their new surroundings. These materials allow places for your fish to hide and explore, as well as adding visual appeal to those looking in from the outside. With all the equipment installed and your tank ready to go, one of the most important steps is firing up the biological activity of your tank.  The cycling process, as it is commonly referred to, ensures your new tank can provide your fish with a healthy ecosystem and proper decomposition of waste and other materials. This step can take a few weeks or more but is vital to allow your fish to thrive. Regularly test to ensure pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels are all within safe ranges, assures your fish will have a healthy environment they will enjoy.

After your fish have acclimated, routine cleaning, vacuuming and minimum water changes will ensure their habitat is ideal, and coupled with a high-quality, scientifically backed nutrition system, will keep them happy and healthy for years to come.

We’re happy to help with any questions you may have! Email us at and one of our expert team members can assist in meeting your needs.