Rinse your cold water aquarium in clean water. Never use soap or detergents as any residue left on the tank is toxic to fish. Dry the cold water aquarium with a clean cloth then place in position. Sometimes you may have to stand the aquarium on a layer of polystyrene tiles as this will help to ensure it is level, however new types of cold water aquariums do not need this because they have a plastic boarder around the base for support.
Wash the gravel using a bucket and running water until the water runs clear. Any décor such as plastic or silk plants, ornaments, rocks and all accessories should also be washed in clean water; make sure you do not use any soap or detergents. Bogwood or mopani wood may have to be soaked in water for a number of hours before use.
Add a 6-8cm depth of gravel, sloping it gently up towards the back of the tank. If an undergravel filter which is powered by an air pump is being used it should be positioned in the bottom of the aquarium, before the gravel is added, where it can be hidden from view using gravel.
You may choose not to use undergravel type filter and wish to use a self powered internal filter, or a powered external filter which will give more movement of water in the tank. Fluval Internal Filters and Aqua One Internal Filters are both good choices.
Fill the cold water aquarium to about one third full, using water from the cold tap. Pour the water carefully over a plate so that it doesn’t disturb the display.
Fit any additional accessories you may have purchased such as power heads, air pumps and air stones , Tetratec and Airvolution all offer a good range.
Position plants, rocks and bogwood if being used. Arrange them to hide the filter (if fitted) and give a feeling of height and depth to your display. Do not block the filter inlets or outlet. Allow an open swimming space at the front so you can see your fish.
Complete filling the cold water aquarium with water. Although tap water usually contains the correct minerals for fish, it also contains chlorine which is not healthy for fish. You therefore need to use a water de-chlorinator to remove chlorine; it also removes chloramines and toxic heavy metals.
Once the aquarium is full of water, the filter and light (if fitted) should be switched on. Any cloudiness or bubbles on the cold water aquarium decorations will disappear within a short period of time.
Add some filter starter to your cold water aquarium; this will help to get your filter going if one has been fitted. This contains a unique blend of filter bacteria that will ensure that the filter is effective in de-toxifying the waste. It will also help where a filter is not fitted in neutralising organic waste produced by fish. Without it, any waste will release ammonia and nitrites, which are toxic to fish.
If you have live plants in your cold water aquarium, add some Flora Boost Plant Food or you can even add a CO2 unit to the tank which will help feed you plants and keep them healthy.
Switch on all your appliances to see if everything is working ok. Allow a couple of days to make sure that everything is running as it should be.
5 to 7 days after setting up your cold water aquarium a small number of fish may be added. (Allow a 1 week interval before adding any more fish). Never add large numbers of fish at any one time, otherwise the filter and aquarium will be overwhelmed by the amount of waste and fish may die from ammonia or nitrite toxicity.
Monitor your fish and the water quality regularly with a either the Interpet tablet or liquid water test kit (particularly pH, nitrite, nitrate and ammonia) for at least a week, also checking the filter (if fitted) is working.
In the first few days the fish are unlikely to eat. Try to give them a small amount of King British Fish Food or Aquarian Goldfish Flake Food, but if they do not eat it within a few minutes, scoop the food out with a fish net. If left it will clog up the filter (if fitted) and cause water quality problems.