Starting a New Aquarium

Are you starting a new aquarium? Plan ahead to help the process go as smoothly as possible! We are a one-stop-shop for your aquarium needs, but does that mean you should get everything your aquarium needs in one stop? Not necessarily.

Setting up an aquarium properly takes time & planning. Buying everything in one visit isn’t the best approach for aquarium success. Here is a rough timeline to help you plan your new tank purchases.


  • Do your research! Having a realistic idea of your expectations & goals will help you make smart purchases.
  • What type of fish & livestock do you want?
  • What size tank are you looking at?
  • How much time & money are you willing to invest both at the start & in the long-run?
  • Can the floor where you are putting your tank support the weight? Remember to consider the water, substrate, equipment along with the tank & stand itself.

Day 1: Supplies

  • Your first purchases should include the tank itself (and a stand to put it on, if needed).
  • If you are getting a larger tank, make sure you have a way to get it home! (Remember that pre-planning step? Make sure your dream tank fits in your vehicle)
  • You can get other equipment like filtration & lighting now as well, along with décor like ornaments & substrate.
  • If you are setting up a saltwater tank, don’t forget your salt mix.

Weeks 2 - 10: Cycling the Tank

  • While you should run the filtration during setup, this is not part of cycling the tank.
  • What we refer to as cycling a tank doesn’t start until you have added something living to the tank.
  • We recommend a fishless tank cycling method (check out our website for details) & this process can take 4-8 weeks depending on the size of the tank.
  • Test your water regularly during this time & hold off on any water changes, as that can delay the cycling process.

Week 11 & Later: Stocking the Tank

  • Once the tank is cycled & established, now you are finally ready to start adding your fish, inverts & plants.
  • Add all new livestock gradually & make sure your tank is still stable each step of the way; don’t overload it too fast!
  • Some can be added right away but other sensitive creatures are best added after the tank has been stable for several months.
  • Our Fish Room staff can help you plan the best order & time to add each type of livestock like plants, fish or inverts.

As always, our Fish Room experts are here to help with your questions – and don't forget, we offer FREE water testing. Enjoy your new tank! Here are a few other articles that may help with your new tank setup:
Aquarium Shopping List
Aquarium Stocking Tips
Nitrogen Cycle
Top 5 Beginner Freshwater Fish
Top 5 Beginner Saltwater Fish

Questions about how to get started with your new aquarium? Our Fish Room experts are here to assist you. Stop by the fish room, call 1-888-THAT-PET or message us on Facebook with any questions, our staff is happy to help!