I bet you have had a great shopping spree for your new goldfish tank, and you can’t wait to start. I hope at this point, you haven’t gotten any goldfish yet. Even after you have set it up, your tank will need some time to stabilize before it’s safe for your goldfish.
Now that you have gotten all the necessary equipment, this is part 2 on setting up a goldfish tank – Rinse, Arrange and Fill.
I have to take a step back and ask you this – Have you figured out where you will place your goldfish tank?
You may want to take into considerations the following locations to avoid:
- where it’ll get a lot of sunlight as this encourages algae growth as well as potentially heat up the tank
- where it’ll get direct noise as the vibration to the tank will stress out the fish
- where it’ll get a lot of activity such as people moving around as this will also stress out your fish
I want to come clean and say I did not follow the first. My goldfish tank is placed in a corner near a glass window and I had to do that for Fengshui reason. The consequence is more frequent maintenance required to remove the built-up algae.
Okay, so what are the steps in putting together the tank?
Step 1: Rinse
DO NOT use any household soap or detergent to clean the equipment. Although you will rinse them off, they may leave the residue which will leak into the water and poison your goldfish.
For most of the equipment, rinsing them with clean water or wiping with a clean wet cloth will do. I am assuming you know to leave the electrical equipment that is not meant to get wet such as your external lighting out of your rinsing frenzy.
Additional information specific to some of the equipment:
Tank: When I got my new tank, it had dust and packing debris in it. As it’s a 3 feet tank, I couldn’t move it (I’m a skinny guy) to a tap where I’ll be able to rinse it with water. So I used the vacuum cleaner to suck out the dust and debris, then wipe the tank clean with a piece of wet cloth.
If you want to be extra careful or if this is a used tank, you can opt to sanitize it.
Filter: If this is a brand new filter, it is OK to rinse it and the filter media with tap water. However, if the filter media came from an established tank, do not rinse it with tap water as this will remove those beneficial bacteria that are already there. Just leave it as it is.
Look at the packaging for the substrate (sand, gravel, soil, etc) that you have bought. Some would state that no rinsing is required before use, like the white sand that I got for my tank. I believe those aqua soil will not need to be rinsed as well as it will turn muddy.
Anyway, for those that need to be rinsed, pour them into a clean bucket and fill it up with hot water to kill any potential unwanted micro-organisms. Unless you have a bionic arm, please use a stick or something to stir the substrate around in the bucket. Replace the water with clean tap water and repeat this until you see the water in the bucket gets less cloudy.
Rocks or Driftwoods as decorations: I would boil them to kill any unwanted micro-organisms if I can.
Step 2: Arrange
Next step is to put the substrate, decorations, filter and heater (if applicable) into your tank and arrange them. You should start with putting in the substrate, then level them according to your preference. However please note that goldfish will sift through the substrate and whatever fancy leveling that you have done will not be there for long. I set mine flat and thin.
Next will be on arranging the decorations to create the layout that you want. This can take some time if you can’t make up your mind. Anyhow it’s your tank, you take all the time you need. I went for a minimalist natural look, so it was just river rocks for me. After that is finally done, set up your filter, heater and lighting and place them accordingly.
Step 3: Fill
Now that you have done the first 2 steps, you can now fill up your tank with water. Please use the water conditioner on your tap water according to the recommended dosage.
Place something to break the force of water going in such as a bowl, plate or plastic/aluminum sheet on your tank’s layout before you start filling it up. This will prevent the incoming water from destroying your layout or stirring up the substrate.
I would recommend to fill the tank up leaving at least an inch from the top.
The pic above is my goldfish tank when I first set it up around 2 years ago. Now the same tank has fewer river rocks in it because I wanted it to be easier to maintain and more space for my goldfish to swim around.
So how to set up a goldfish tank? 3 steps – Rinse, Arrange and Fill.
Can I switch the sequence?
You may argue on why can’t it be Rinse, Fill and Arrange instead. Actually, you can do it in that sequence as well, just that it’ll be more troublesome.
Imagine pouring the substrate in when the tank is filled with water. Whatever dust and debris from the moving substrate will turn the water cloudy real fast. So you will need to do that extra careful, extra slow.
Imagine also when you need to keep changing the arrangement of the decorations in a tank that’s already filled with water because you didn’t like how it looked. Wouldn’t that be messy?
Can I put my goldfish in now?
So now the goldfish tank is all set up but with no goldfish. Don’t you feel a sense of incompletion? Well in actual fact, we are not done yet. It’s still not the time to put your goldfish in… unless it’s a sacrificial one. We’ll need to cycle the tank first.. and more about this in the next post.