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How to start a fish aquarium

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.


Having an aquarium is cool — and easy! Here’s how to start yours.



Pick starters. Starter fish are more able to adapt to a new tank. Zebra Danios, White Clouds, and Platys are great starters.

fishtank-2Pick fish that get along with each other. For example, don’t stick two male betas together; they will fight. Also, think twice if you want to add cichlids — they’re territorial. Labyrinth fish such as Gourami are calm.

Remove chlorine from the water. Buy water-cleaning drops at the pet store.

Regularly check the water temperature with an aquarium thermometer.

Do partial water changes to keep the water clean and your fish healthy. Don’t change all the water at once. Your fish might have trouble adapting in there is too much change.

Use the right equipment for cleaning — bucket, net, filter and siphon.


Don’t overfeed.

Don’t put things in the tank unless you are sure they are safe. Some woods and rocks can be bad for your fish. Never use meal. Shells aren’t safe for most tanks, either.


Don’t put your tank in a window or next to an air conditioner or heater.

Don’t buy fish from dirty tanks or ones that have sick or dead fish in them.

Don’t buy only one of a “schooling fish.” These like to be in groups. Neon Tetras, Zebra Danios and Tiger Barbs are schooling fish.

Don’t make stops when bringing your fish home. Get it home and into its new environment as quickly as possible.


Don’t put fish in the tank right away. Float the bag in the tank for about 10 minutes so the temperature matches better.

Don’t add too many fish at one time.

Don’t buy fish before you set up your tank.


How big will the fish grow?

How many fish can you keep in your aquarium? (This depends on the size and kind of fish you buy, and the size of your tank.)

What do the fish eat?

Do the fish need a heater?


The Shedd Aquarium:

The Monterey Bay Aquarium:

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52 Comments on How to start a fish aquarium

  1. I loved the projects

  2. alaskan boy // March 18, 2016 at 2:17 pm // Reply

    i have 2 20 gallon and 1 5 gallon aquariums just wanted to throw do not put bettas in with other fish i had one kill half of my fish and injure the other half alaso have bacup equipment

  3. A few more good beginner fish are guppies,mollies,and ghost shrimp. With guppies and mollies be careful not to get a pregnant female or you will wakeup to baby fish swimming around like I did.

  4. Good advice

  5. shark_trooper // November 21, 2013 at 8:30 am // Reply

    I currently have a ten gallon aquarium. If you are a beginner do not get a fish that is about to lay eggs. Trust me I did it.

  6. the pet lover // July 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm // Reply

    do not use a fish bowl!!!

  7. what about the tank aquamation time

  8. wait a second i now another way!!

  9. I love the the colerful fish

  10. That’s cool I started the fish tank today about 50 gallons and we are getting the fish tomorrow

  11. cool

  12. do not put two male beatas in the same tank or one of them will kill the other beata. if you have a girl beata fish do not put her in the same tank or if you want baby beatafish then be redey to take her out ok :>)

  13. this will help my bros they need this to learn how to take care of there fish ;>p :>}

  14. scuba diving mama // September 13, 2011 at 7:47 am // Reply

    Can two male or two female betta fish live in the same tank? How big should the tank be??

  15. TROOP.27 MEMBER // July 27, 2011 at 8:27 pm // Reply

    wow. the question below is a question that you probribly would kno.

  16. white salmon // July 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm // Reply

    will the fish live or die

  17. i am a grandmother to three great boys ages 11 and 5. i am thinking about getting them a fish tank. they have pet dogs however i would like to give them this gift. what type of fish should i give them and how big should the first tank be ?

  18. how long should you let you water filter befor you can add fish
    20 gal tank

    • BoyScoutTroop85 // May 14, 2010 at 3:36 pm // Reply

      you can put the fish in as you start the filter, but let the filter starp pumping first.

  19. Many fish require air circulation to be healthy. Pet stores sell a filter and air circulation combination from a company called Small World. It has suction cups and sticks to the side of your aquarium. It helps to remove waste toxins from the water and adds bubbles to circulate air in the water. Our Betta Splendid lived for six years in a five gallon tank with one of these circulating filters. Bettas are generally expected to live 3-5 years in captivity.

  20. Just for everyone to know, goldfish can’t live in a bowl. they need a filtered 20 gallon tank.

  21. i am sso excited to get my fish

  22. i have a beta fish thats 5 years old

  23. Hallywood // June 4, 2009 at 2:45 pm // Reply

    I have two new goldfish, thanks for the tips

  24. i have 45 gold fish

  25. Anybody got any advice on wild guppies? I received them as a gift and they are doing OK but I want to make sure that I am doing the right thing.

  26. Optimus Prime // October 20, 2008 at 8:25 pm // Reply

    to Sentraex, regarding the question you asked on March 19th, 2008 at 2:06 pm , “what does PH mean?” it means, “potential of hydrogen.Wich is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, numerically equal to 7 for neutral solutions, increasing with increasing alkalinity and decreasing with increasing acidity. The pH scale commonly in use ranges from 0 to 14.

  27. to sentraex,

    ph is a measure of chemicals in the water that is bad for fish. You can buy gravel the elimanates ph for farily cheap

  28. Optimus Prime // April 27, 2008 at 4:15 pm // Reply

    If you plan on having small fish (especialy guppys) DO NOT get Platys, they will chase, bite the fins off then eat fish (especialy guppys) smaller then they are!!

  29. you should add ways to correct ph and other things. Also you should have a section on fish deseases and what to buy and how to tell.

  30. they need to do something with seamonkeys

  31. what does PH mean?

  32. I did what you said but my fish died 🙁

  33. ghjtjgtijkyi // February 19, 2008 at 9:41 pm // Reply


  34. I enjoy this

  35. use yr common sense dear ,excitement never works jus bcoz d fis looks good does not mesn it will go wel with those in yr yank

  36. i wish i had read this i just lost $50 worth of fish because of no heat, clorine, and tons of other reasons.

  37. I will start mine today.

  38. Hi iIm in fifth grade! I am almost a profesinal fish breeder! I have six (6) tanks running.I have Mollies,guppys,swordtails,platies,an oscar that I feed western and eastern mosquito fish,two(2)gourimus,a giant apple snail and wild caught mollies.Need tips about breeding livebeares or any other type of fish?Just type it!!! I am ten(10) and I have three(3) years of breeding expierence.

  39. these are nice tips i have three tanks a 55 gallon a 10 gallon and a 5 gallon and im sure i will have more but you did not put anything in about an aquarium heater the type of starter fish you named require tempertures not atainable with out one also a quick paragraph about the land scape would be nice like that fish need shelter like pots plants castles and a filter system is need to keep the water clean oh well

  40. Fishies are cool. I am a scuba diver. I met a chick who was afraid of fish and she went scuba diving. She freaked out. I was funny.

  41. i have two boy betas and they get along fine……

  42. awsome!

  43. i do not have fish but i want to have a fish. time for dinner

  44. superspiderman // November 19, 2007 at 8:06 pm // Reply

    I used to have fish. They died. I’m planning to ask my parents if we can start another herd of fish. Most of the information will come from you! I’m in 2nd grade. Bye! Time for dinner!

  45. I have like 12 fish in my fish tank and I have a beta fish that has been living for 4 months. I am in the fourth grade.

  46. Very cool I am a scout who wants to start my own

  47. scuba dude 642 // November 11, 2007 at 8:32 pm // Reply

    Hey i’m scuba dude and this is about fish. haha.

  48. i have a 10 callon fish tank and i went to PetSmart and got some advice along with yours my fish tank is cool coolorfull and full of activity!! Get-A-Tank!! i did and it is cool!! 🙂

  49. i wish to play with the fishes in real life

  50. you rock. I am a boyscout to

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