Installing the equipment

Careful planning can help avoid mistakes but most importantly can save you time and effort! The following instructions are offered as a basic guide to a painless set up but please bear in mind that your requirements may vary depending on the type of fish you wish to keep. Most importantly, allow yourself plenty of time. Even if you have an understanding of how to set an aquarium up it can still take a couple of hours...if this is your first, you should allow up to double this time. Certain tasks can be prepared in advance so that the actual installation will run more smoothly, where appropriate these tasks will be marked *. For safety, ensure that your work area is free from clutter - including young children and pets! - and remove any loose floor coverings or rugs while work is in progress. 

   Installing - ensure your base is strong and level   Installing - add a bed of polystyrene to cushion the tank

First job is to set up the stand or cabinet your finished aquarium will sit on.  Ensuring that the base is level at this point is vital as the aquarium, when filled, will be too heavy to move. So check and double check using a spirit level that it even from front to back as well as from left to right. Unless your aquarium has a 'floating bottom' i.e. sits within a frame so that the bottom glass doesn't touch the stand/cabinet, you will need to seat your aquarium on a bed of polystyrene. This will even out any imperfections in the base-board that the aquarium rests on. Even a tiny piece of grit can cause abnormal stress on the glass when the tank is filled and therefore increases the risk of a fracture. *Clean and steralise the aquarium using either specially formulated aquarium disinfectant or a strong tonic salt solution. Do not use any detergents as they can leave traces behind which could have an adverse effect on the fish. Rinse the aquarium thoroughly. Once dried you can attach the backing if this is going to be used.

Installing - wash the gravel thoroughly   Installing - add the substrate to the tank and level off   

*Wash the substrate (see decor section) to get rid of any dust or dirt. One easy way of doing this is to use a clean bucket, pour in one bag of gravel/sand at a time and stir it as you add water from the tap. Keep stirring and change the water until it runs clear....then rinse again! This is one of the most time consuming jobs while setting up a new aquarium but the cleaner you get the substrate before it's added to the tank the better. If you chose an under gravel filter you will need to fit it next, before adding the gravel which should be added to a depth of at least 2.5". If you plant your aquarium it is worth investing in some slow-release fertilizer. Place the gravel into the aquarium until it reaches a uniform depth of approximately 1", then (depending on the type) spread a layer of fertiliser and top off with the remaining gravel.

Installing - fit the heater at a slight diagonal angle   Installing - DO NOT switch the heater on out of water!

Once the gravel is in place, it's time to install the heater. This step can be skipped if you are setting up a coldwater aquarium i.e. goldfish. This is usually fitted, again via suction cups, to the back glass inside the aquarium. Most manufacturers recommend that the heater is fitted at a slight diagonal angle, with the heating element to the bottom. This angle helps to ensure that as the heat rises it does not pass directly by the thermostat. It is advisable to leave a small gap between the heater and the substrate. DO NOT cover the heater with substrate or obstruct the water flow near the heater with any decor. As with the filter DO NOT switch on the heater out of the water as it will overheat. Most heaters come pre-set to a certain temperature, you should double check the temperature setting and adjust it according to the requirements of the fish you are planning to buy. A typical tropical community set up would run at a natural level of 24-26C (75-79F). An alternative or supplement to the standard type of heater/thermostats is the cable heater. This is laid in loops along the base of the aquarium and held in position by cable anchors. Care should be taken not to kink the cable which is then covered by the substrate. Incidentally, the cable heater used under the gravel will create a thermal filter action as the heated water rises and passes through the substrate.

Installing - site the filter in a rear corner of the tank   Installing - position the filter head at the water surface

The filter should be installed next. All our filters come complete with fitting instructions and the internal power filters are usually fitted with the aid of suction cups into one of the back corners of the aquarium where it will be slightly less obtrusive. Care should be taken when positioning the filter, as it will have to be physically removed from the aquarium during routing maintenance so make sure you site it in an accessible corner. When fitted the filter head should be positioned at or just below the water surface. Try to allow a small gap between the bottom of the filter and the substrate to avoid the accumulation of dirt & debris and to allow the free passage of water around the filter. NEVER run the filter out of water, this will cause it to overheat and burn out. Most internal power filters come complete with a venturi. This is basically a short piece of air pipe with a valve attached to the end that fits onto a small nipple on the top of the filter. The end with the valve on stays out of the water and as water is pumped through the filter and back into the tank the venturi pipe accelerates the water flow and draws in a stream of air from above the surface, aerating your aquarium.

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