Aquariums are a great way to add a sense of peace and tranquility to your home. With the right selection of fish and plants, you can create a beautiful underwater ecosystem that's both calming and visually appealing. But setting up an aquarium can be overwhelming for beginners who don't know where to start. In this guide, we'll walk you through the necessary steps to set up an aquarium with fish and plants, taking into account tank size, fish species, plant selection, lighting, and water parameters.

Selecting the Right Tank Size

The first thing you need to consider when setting up an aquarium is the size of the tank. It's important to choose a tank that's suitable for the type and number of fish you plan to keep. A general rule of thumb is that for every inch of fish, you need one gallon of water. So if you plan to keep five 2-inch fish, you'll need a minimum of a 10-gallon tank. However, it's always better to go bigger if possible since a larger tank provides more stability for the fish.

Filtration System and Other Equipment

Once you've selected the right tank size, you need to choose the appropriate filtration system. A good filter will keep the water clean and healthy for your fish and plants. There are several types of filters available, including hang-on-back filters, canister filters, and sponge filters. Each type has its pros and cons, so do your research to find the best fit for your tank and budget.

In addition to a filtration system, you'll also need a heater to maintain a stable water temperature and a thermometer to monitor the water temperature. You may also want to consider an air pump to provide oxygen to the fish and a substrate to aid in the growth of plants.

Selecting Fish Species and Plant Selection

Now it's time to select the fish and plants you want to keep in your aquarium. When choosing fish, make sure to research their specific needs, such as water temperature, pH levels, and tank size requirements. Some popular beginner fish include guppies, tetras, and platies. Avoid keeping aggressive or incompatible species together, as this can lead to stress and aggressive behavior.

For plants, it's important to choose ones that can thrive in the conditions you can provide. Some popular beginner plants include Java moss, Amazon sword, and Anubias. Gravel or sand substrate can be used for most plants, but some may require a nutrient-rich substrate.

Setting Up the Aquarium

Now that you have all the necessary equipment and have selected the fish and plants you want to keep, it's time to set up the aquarium. Follow these steps:

  1. Rinse the tank with water and dry it thoroughly.
  2. Add the substrate to the bottom of the tank.
  3. Fill the tank with water and add the filter, heater, and thermometer.
  4. Turn on the equipment and let the tank cycle for at least 24 hours before adding any fish.
  5. After the tank has cycled, add the plants and decorations.
  6. Finally, add the fish and let them acclimate to the new environment.

Dos and Don'ts for Taking Care of the Aquarium

To ensure the health and longevity of your aquarium, there are some dos and don'ts you should be aware of. Here are a few:


  • Monitor the water parameters regularly and perform water changes as needed.
  • Feed your fish a balanced diet appropriate for their species.
  • Clean the tank and equipment regularly.


  • Overcrowd the tank with too many fish.
  • Overfeed the fish, as this can lead to poor water quality.
  • Use soaps or detergents to clean the tank, as this can harm the fish.

Maintaining and Beautifying the Aquarium

Maintaining an aquarium is an ongoing process that requires regular attention. Here are a few tips for keeping your aquarium healthy and beautiful over time:

  • Perform regular water changes to keep the water clean and balanced.
  • Prune plants as needed to prevent them from becoming overgrown.
  • Rearrange decorations periodically to keep the fish engaged and interested.
  • Consider adding additional lighting or upgrading to LED lights to enhance the visual appeal of the tank.

In conclusion, setting up an aquarium with fish and plants can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for beginners. By following these guidelines, you can create a beautiful underwater ecosystem that will bring joy and tranquility to your home.