Below are step-by-step instructions, with photo illustrations, of how to start up an aquarium.
1. Position the undergravel filter plate in the bottom of the tank.
2. Install the lift tubes along with their air stones and air line tubing.
3. Begin to set up the air pump. Attach a length of air line tubing and a one-way check valve to the pump.
4. Run a length of tubing from the check valve to a gang valve, and position the gang valve on the tank.
5. Run tubing from the gang valve to each of the lift tubes.
6. Install the mechanical filtration unit. Carefully follow any assembly or installation instructions from the manufacturer.
7. Install the heater/thermostat unit. Again, carefully follow any instructions from the manufacturer.
8. Rinse the gravel thoroughly before adding it to the tank. Put more gravel in the rear of the tank, creating a gentle downward slope from back to front.
9. Add rockwork, driftwood, or any other large aquascaping material. Push them firmly into the gravel bed and build up a little gravel around their bases to position them securely.
10. Fill the tank two-thirds full with water. Make the water as close as possible to the desired temperature of the aquarium, and pour it carefully so the aquascaping is not disturbed.
11. Add plants to the tank. Proper positioning can help to make the equipment less obvious. Fill the tank the rest of the way with water.
12. Add the thermometer. Turn on the equipment, one piece at a time, and make any necessary adjustments.