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Setting Up a Fish Tank

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, April 2008


Tetra fish, which are freshwater fish, are a wonderful group to start your tank off with. Freshwater tanks are easier and less expensive to maintain and make great beginner tanks. Freshwater fish can live in small tanks because they are used to lakes and small ponds. If you want saltwater fish, you'd need a much larger tank because they are used to swimming in oceans.

Special thanks to Marc Morrone for showing us the proper way to set up a fish tank.


  • Gravel

  • Heater, filter, and thermometer

  • Rocks

  • Dish

  • Live plants

  • Light fixture


  1. Add layer of gravel, sloping it from back to front.

  2. Install a heater, filter, and thermometer.

  3. Place decorations and rocks, which act as hiding places for the fish.

  4. Place a dish inside the tank and slowly add 6 inches of water, pour the water on to the dish. This breaks up the water flow so the gravel doesn't move around.

  5. Add live plants.

  6. Add more water to fill the tank.

  7. Plug in heater and filter.

  8. Put a light fixture on top of the tank and secure it with a cover. This provides light for the plants.

  9. Wait 24 to 48 hours to put fish in the tank to allow plants to settle and for the filter to stabilize the water. After three to four weeks, your fish tank will naturally cycle; in other words, enough beneficial bacteria will have naturally grown in the tank so the filter can consume waste products that fish produce.

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