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Setting up a Goldfish tank for the first time - Desktop Goldfish

First Time Set Up

First, ponder your vision of a new goldfish aquarium for a moment. Once you have daydreamed about your perfect goldfish tank ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • How big should my tank be?
  • How many goldfish to keep?
  • Where will the goldfish tank go in your space?
  • Why a goldfish tank?

Enjoy the process of starting a goldfish tank from the very first step. By focusing on what you want in a goldfish tank you can anticipate future issues, and become focused on what you can actually achieve. 

Goldfish Research

No great plan goes without some research. How much research though, is up to you. Researching goldfish information will help you discover what it really takes to keep a goldfish tank in good condition. Keeping goldfish is really part science and part art, and the learning is potentially endless. 

Besides learning general goldfish information, finding all your local fish stores can be an important resource for information. Just knowing where the stores are is not enough though. Visiting these stores and finding a place that welcomes you and your questions is paramount. Over the years you will give a lot of business to the local fish store of your choosing, and you want to feel comfortable in the products and information you receive. 

Goldfish research comes in all shapes and sizes. Books and Goldfish Magazines can be a great place to find intersting facts. You should be able to find information at your local bookstore or library. Read as much as you can, and then read some more, writing down questions as you go along. Learn anything you can about what it takes to raise goldfish.

Hopefully this research stage about raising goldfish can be a pleasurable experience, especially if you have a genuine interest in them. Goldfish research might seem easy to skip over, but if you do, you'll find youself making those rookie mistakes that could have been avoided. 

Planning a goldfish tank

So, now there is a clear vision and enough research done that you understand how to care for a goldfish on a daily basis. Realize now that the vision might change, and that's okay. Now that all the research has been completed it's time to get down to planning your goldfish tank in more detail. 

Now you really need some answers to some of the above questions, plus some others.

  • How big of a goldfish tank?
  • What kind of aquarium equipment?
  • What type of goldfish will be in the tank?
  • Where will the tank go? 

If you are an organized person, go ahead and make a list of things you will need.

  • 55 gallon goldfish tank
  • Florescent lighting in hood
  • tank stand
  • 2 filters
  • large airpump
  • 12 ft of ailine tubing
  • gravel
  • themometer
  • Water Treatments
  • Decorations
  • Gravel Siphon

This may start looking like a grocery list, but that's exactly what you are going to do. Take this list to your prefered Local Fish Store and start pricing out your vision. By this point someone on the store should at least recognize you, and be happy to help you with this. If everything looks good, and the price is right, it's time to start purchasing your supplies for your new goldfish tank setup.

Purchasing Goldfish Tank & Supplies

This part is really up to you and your finances. Go ahead and purchase an item at a time, or purchase the entire goldfish tank set up in one go. This is NOT THE TIME to think about purchasing fish, there is still plenty of time for that. 

Placing the New Goldfish Tank

Having selected, and purchased your new tank it is time for placement. While the original vision may need to be altered slightly it is a good idea to keep the following things in mind when placing your goldfish tank setup. 

Direct sunlight is typically bad. It can promote excess algea growth, and bring on drastic water temperature changes that could effect your goldfish friends.

Every place has them, that spot that always seems to get a draft. Well that spot is not the place for your goldfish tank. Drafts can alter the stable temperature of a goldfish tank. 

*manly grunt* More power!!! okay, maybe not so much more power, but anykind of power. As there are multiple items that will need power in the tank it is best to use a powerstrip of somekind and place the tank close to the outlet.

The bigger the goldfish tank the more 'stuff' that comes along with it. Pumps, Filters, Supplies all need to go somewhere, preferably close to the goldfish.

Tank Stand 
While a small tank can easily be set up on a piece of sturdy furnature. Specially made stands are available for both large and small tank, but larger tanks should always be placed across floor joists so the weight is distributed as evenly as possible. For each gallon of water a tank will hold, multiple that by ten and you have a rough estimate of how much a goldfish tank will weigh with water and gravel. 10 gallon tank = 100 lbs, 100 gallon tank = 1,000 lbs (1/2 ton). A basement or garage can be a great place as the floors are generally concrete and will not sag under the heavy pressure of the full tank.

Level Tank 
When full a goldfish tank should be perfectly level. Placing a sheet of cork under the tank will help even out any irregularities that may have occured. To protect the floor under the goldfish tank stand, a sheet of think wood or a metal place can be used.

Feedings, water changes, decoration changes are all common in the goldfish tank. Placing the tank is a place that is accessible to you is very important. The easier it is to do the regular things, the better off your goldfish tank will be.

We all have high traffic areas in our house, this is not the ideal place for a goldfish tank. A higher probability of something being bumped or knocked happens when the tank is in a high traffic area. Kids running back and forth will cause fibrations that can stress the goldfish. Slightly out of the way is a good thing when placing a goldfish tank. 

The most regular occurance in the goldfish tank, besides feeding, should be changing the water. Bringing water to, and from the goldfish tank should be considered when placing a goldfish tank.

Now that you know where your new goldfish tank is going to go it's time for a final washing and inspection. Hose the tank down, or wash it by hand. Do not use soaps as the residue can remain on the inside of the glass effecting the bilogical make-up of the tank. Place you tank in it's final position, and make sure there is enough room to put all the equipment on (ie: filter, pump). 

Check to make sure your tank is level by adding enough water to the tank that you can take an accurate measurement. Measure the water level from the each corner, and if all four measurements are the same your goldfish tank is level and you are now done placing your goldfish tank. If you are using an undergravel filter you will want to install that before moving onto the next step. 

Gravel in the Goldfish Tank

Preparing the gravel can be time consuming but will continue to pay it back over the life our goldfish tank. While dyed gravel is prettier, gravel with no dye is safer. A goldfish tank should have rounded gravel that is about 1/8in in size. 

To prepare gravel:

  • Pour gravel into a bucket until 1/3 full.
  • Add water to the bucket and stir vigorously.
  • Remove water.
  • Continue to add water, stir, and remove until the water runs clean.
  • Once the water runs clean the gravel can be added to the goldfish tank. 

How deep the gravel is rest on your shoulders, at least 3-4 inches is recommended. You may want to buy equipment, or airhoses so consider that when deciding your gravel depth. 

Gravel Tip: 
Slope the gravel so it is higher in the back and slopes down to the front of the goldfish tank. This serves both form and function. It not only looks pretty, but promotes debris to roll toward the front of the tank, making cleaning that much easier.

Goldfish Tank Needs Some Water

Go ahead and place any rocks or heavy decorations in the tank now. Porous materials should be avoided, as should item found in nature. While in theory it may sound good to put natural decoration inside a tank, the biological backlash could be severe.

The most chemical in water come in the first few minutes of running water. After letting the faucet run for a few minutes fill your bucket with cool water. Add the water to the tank, being careful to avoid distressing the new gravel that was placed in the goldfish tank. Repeat this process until the tank is about half full.

Now add the rest of your equipment and scenery to the goldfish tank. Stand back from time to time and see what you are doing. Make sure that the fish not only have plenty of hiding places, but also plenty of room to swim. Airstones and hoses should also be added, or burried, under the gravel. 

If you are not happy with the look of your goldfish tank, start again. Place the decorations in your tank until you are happy. Ask yourself, will the goldfish like this tank? 

Fill up the Goldfish Tank

now fill our goldfish tank up to the top, yes the very top. This gives your goldfish the most swimming room, and by taking the water line above the rim of the tank the overall look is complete. Skim off any dust or debris in the water with a paper towel. 

More Goldfish Tank Equipment

Box filters need to be placed, typically, at the back of your goldfish tank. The filter intake tube should be approx. 6 inches from the gravel. Make sure to pour water into each chamber of the filter.

Airline tubing should be attached to the airstones inside the tank and coming out the top of the tank. Attach to their respective air pump, and place the pumps in a secure location. make sure that the air hoses are not clamped beneath the hood.

Make a check to see that all electrical cords are dry before plugging anything in. All cords should have a drip point. The wire needs to, at one point, be lower than the outlet itself. If water should get to this point it will drip off instead of getting to the outlet causing immeasurable damage. Alternatively, you could mound a powerstip above the tank to prevent any water from getting into the outlets. 

Now that some safety precautions have been addressed you may plug all item in and turn on the power. Never work on a tank that is plugged in, with power. The resulting shock could be fatal. 

Where are the goldfish? 

It is a good idea to let your equipment run for a few weeks before moving on. This is typically enough time to find any faulty equipment, are any cracks in the tank. Adding a handful of active gravel, or gravel from another tank, will speed up the biological process that occurs in a goldfish tank. Even without active gravel the goldfish tank will grow the necessary bacteria that keeps the tank, and the goldfish in than tank happy and healthy. 

These good bacteria appear after a two weeks, and the water will have naturally released all the chlorine. Also, the water in the goldfish tank will be at room temperature. By giving at least two weeks for your goldfish tank to settle your new tankmates will be much lessed stressed when you do finally bring them home. Use this time to make any final purchases necessary that might have been overlooked, making sure that the tank is ready for the goldfish when the arrive.

Goldfish Tank gets Goldfish 

Finally, the goldfish tank is 100% prepared. You have selected you ideal fish, and purchased them at your Local Fish Store. It is time to introduce them to their new how. 

Be prepared when you purchase your goldfish. A picnic cooler is a good way to travel, and from the store to the car it is a good idea to shelter the goldfish from the sun light as it can be a drastic shock to their system. A brown paper bag is usually enough, but double bagged is better!

Every motion made will be felt by the goldfish. Each motion causing a little more stress. Be sure to walk, and drive, as smoothly as possible. 

When you are finally at home, bring the goldfish to their new tank. Dim the lights, light a candle, open a glass of wine... or at least just dim the lights and acclimate the new goldfish by placing the bag in the new tank for 15-20 minutes. Carefully remove the goldfish from the bag, trying not to get the transfer water in the new goldfish tank. 

Now let the goldfish rest, they have had a stressful day. Leave the room, and aquairum lights off for a few hours. You are now the proud owner of goldfish. It is now your responsibility to care for these goldfish, and their delicate lives. Be proud, you have a goldfish tank.