Beginner’s Guide to Fish Tanks


So, you want to start a fish tank… where do you begin? With so many options,

it can be hard to decide where to start… so lets start with the basics:

The Tank- To keep things simple, let’s assume you want a fresh water tank. You can buy a starting kit that includes filters, heaters, a hood and lighting as well as an air pump, which generally works out more cost effective than buying separate pieces.  Each part plays an important roll in the livability of your tank. so you want to make sure you have the right equipment! You will also need some water conditioner that’s sold at the store to neutralize any harmful chemicals, chloramines and heavy metals that can be found in tap water.

First step after you’ve acquired the tank set is to fill it with gravel (or you could use sand… but gravel is easier to keep care of). Rule of thumb is 1- 2 pounds of gravel for 1 gallon of water. You can start customizing your tank right away by choosing the colour of the gravel- there are so many options now like natural, pink, green, and black…  or if you can’t pick- multicoloured!  Now you can continue customizing with plants and decor- you can choose between plastic or real plants, however real plants tend to make your tank dirty when not anchored down properly or if certain inhabitants like to eat  real plants, so you may want to start with plastic.

Once you have set up these basics, and your decor let your tank rest for a few days to let the system work itself before adding in fish.

Natural Cleaners- It is suggested that you clean out 20% of the water every month, but there are some things you can do to make the tank work for you! Buying hardy bottom dwellers that act like little vacuums such as the pleco work wonders. You can also find live plants that help with cleaning with no potential mess- such as the Marimo Moss Ball

To clean your aquarium, follow these simple steps as a guide:

  1. Remove any décor in your aquarium and set aside (optional, although you may need to shit them around). You do not need to remove your fish as long as you are careful to work around them. Removing the fish can be very stressful to them.
  2. Position your bucket near the base of your aquarium; the bucket must be lower than the aquarium for gravity to create a siphon.
  3. Follow the directions on your aquarium siphon to get the siphon started and then gently vacuum the substrate/gravel in your aquarium. You should vacuum the aquarium substrate until you have removed roughly 20% of the water.
  4. Once you have finished vacuuming your aquarium, you will need to replace the water you removed with fresh, conditioned water. Aquatic life doesn’t tolerate dramatic temperature fluctuation. It’s important to use room temperature water close in temperature to your aquarium so you don’t shock your fish.
  5. For aquariums with filtration, replace carbon filters monthly.

Food- Obviously this will depend on what fish you get, but you generally have the choice between pellet and flakes- flakes being the more popular route.

Now for the best part of all…


We’ve  crated a short list of ‘beginner friendly’ fish for your fresh water tank. These fish are easy to care for, hardy and of course… will fit nicely in your tank.

Danios- The most popular species are Zebra, Leopard and Giant (pictured). These little guys can be very active, making them fun to watch, and they are the #1 fish for beginners!


Barbs- Most popular being Tiger (pictured), Cherry or Rosy. Barbs can be very adventurous, and love playing in decor. Although they can be aggressive, so just keep that in mind.


Mollies- mollies tend to stay near the top of the tank, and look very graceful in the water. While they are considered a tropical fish by some, they can live in both salt and fresh water tanks .

mollies, fish

Other fish to consider: guppies, goldfish, betta ( who can actually live in community tanks, if you’re careful and only have one), sword tails, platies or small bodied Gouramis

All of these fish can live in a community tank together as they are all pretty peaceful, except for a few mentioned. When developing a community, make sure you consider the size of your tank and the number of fish!


Beginner Fish Species

13 Best Freshwater Fish For Your Home Aquarium