How to Set Up a 50 Gallon Aquarium


Many people want a larger tank because of the size and beauty of fish a larger tank allows. Setting up a large fish tank, such as a 50-gallon tank, is not much different than setting up a smaller tank, such as a 10-gallon tank. It is a good idea to start with a smaller tank before trying your hand at a larger tank. However, once you are ready, you will need to follow a few simple steps to successfully set up your tank.

Things You'll Need

  • Level
  • Gravel
  • Sink
  • Colander
  • Paper towels
  • Plate
  • Water
  • Stress Coat
  • Filter
  • Heater
  • Thermometer
  • Plants
  • Rocks
  • Driftwood
  • Lid
  • Fish
  • Choose a location for your aquarium. It should be out of direct sunlight to avoid the promotion of algae growth.

  • Set the stand a minimum of 5 inches from the wall to allow room for the filter on the back of the aquarium. Place the aquarium on the stand.

  • Place a level in the tank to ensure that it is level. If it is not, move the tank to a more level surface. Be sure you are perfectly happy with this location because once it is assembled you will have to completely disassemble it to move it.

  • Rinse your gravel in the sink before adding it to your tank. This will wash away any fine dust. Use a colander lined with paper towels to catch the fine dust and to keep the gravel from slipping through the colander’s holes.

  • Place the gravel into the tank. You will want about 2 inches of gravel total. Slope the gravel slightly towards the back of the tank.

  • Place a clean plate on top of the gravel and pour your water onto the plate. The plate will keep the gravel from being moved about. If your tap water contains chlorine, add Stress Coat according to the package directions. Stress Coat can be purchased at your local pet store and helps condition the water to make it safe for the fish.

  • Place your filter, assembled according to the package directions, on the back of the tank. Install the heater according to package directions.

  • Attach your thermometer to the tank in an easy-to-read location. If you are using a stick-on thermometer, attach it to the outside of the aquarium.

  • Clean any plants, rocks or driftwood you intend to have in your tank by rinsing them under running water. Place the decorations in the tank.

  • Turn the filter and heater on and place the aquarium lid on top of the aquarium. Allow the tank to sit for a minimum of 24 hours at a temperature between 74 and 80 degrees F.

  • Cycle your tank by placing 16 to 17 hearty fish in the tank, such as mollies, danios or barbs. Do not add any other fish for a minimum of four to six weeks.

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  • Photo Credit Jochen Sands/Photodisc/Getty Images
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