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Setting up the tank

Here I am finally setting up my first tank! How did I do?

I bought the Java Moss coconut, wood and Hairgrass from ebay, then went to my local Maidenhead Aquatics to find the other plants. I went in with a small list I’d put together after reading articles and talking to people on forums/tumblr. The guy in there was really helpful and showed me where everything was. I have Practical Fishkeeping to thank for helping me to set this up, I was looking at ‘How to aquascape small tanks’ the entire way through!

Thursday 8th November


After that potentially expensive shopping trip, I’m wondering whether it might be easier and cheaper to buy plants online?

I’ve been looking on forums for beginners plants and those suitable for small aquariums and I’ve got a small list. I’ve read that a lot of house plants get sold to unsuspecting newbies, and I’m not confident I’ll know the difference.

Have you ever experienced this?

Wednesday 7th November

Tank set up fail

Over the weekend I had planned to begin cycling my tank. We drove to the shop and had a look round. It was great seeing a Betta for the first time, I can’t wait to bring one home! I felt slightly encouraged to see the Betta in with other fish, my dream of having shrimp seems a little bit more achievable. A couple of the Betta did look like they had been fighting their other tank mates, but others seemed perfectly happy to swim about with the fish. I guess that’s how you can pick out calmer Betta.

All was going well until I went to pick out some substrate. I’d like a planted tank, so I wanted something plant friendly. The ‘planted’ substrate in store was £40! Perhaps because I’m a beginner, I didn’t realise I could use other substrate but the cheaper stuff was luminous pink! Not really the underwater paradise I’d envisioned from my tank.

When I went to check out the a API Freshwater Master Kit to test the water, I discovered it was £35! I’d already looked them up online so I’d know what to buy, and they were only £20. I can’t believe the difference in price! I was really disappointed to leave without buying anything, but I couldn’t justify £75 for a test kit and substrate for my small tank. Is it common for shops to be that much more expensive?

I went home and moped a bit, before buying everything online. In the end I got my test kit for £21.50 and the substrate for £19.95 (both from ebay). It was still pricey, but I saved a lot!

I was pretty confused about what substrate to get, and found there wasn’t a great deal of info out there. Some of the forums mentioned certain brands that they used, but I couldn’t easily find a way of buying them. In the end I decided to buy Amano Takashi’s Aqua Soil, because I figured he was an expert. The product description also said ‘the powder soils are designed for nano aquariums’ which is what I have and I remember reading an article from Practical Fish Keeping who used it as well.

Hopefully it’ll come within the next couple of days and I can finally begin the cycling!

Monday 5th November

How to create your own aquascape

There really is a lot of information online about Aquascaping, but here are my favourite articles that are easy to follow with have clear pictures! When I set up my tank I’ll definitely be following them along!


Practical Fish Keeping definitely wins in my book, their articles are always really informative, but ‘How to aquascape small tanks’ in particular, takes you through step by step with tips and photographs. It’s really encouraging to see that you’re able to aquascape even the smallest of tanks!


They also have an amazing article showing you ‘How to set up an Iwagumi aquariums’. Their explanations are easy to follow, making it perfect for us beginners! Their clear step by step pictures also ensure you don’t go wrong!

Friday 27th October

Tank decoration

Since opening my tank, I’ve been contemplating what decorations to put in. Initially I was happy to have something generic, a few simple plants here, a sunken ship there. Then I stumbled across Aquascaping, and my mind flooded with ideas. I realised I wouldn’t be happy unless I had a mini underwater jungle(!) in my living room.

If like me you haven’t come across aquascapes before, you MUST look at the links below. I’m not going to lie, I’m besotted now. I’ve spent all week looking at beautiful under water landscapes and scouring the internet for tutorials to help me set one up. I’ve a lot to share with you, so I’ll split this post in two!

These links below are where I got my inspiration

Thursday 26th October

Opening the tank!

I finally feel prepared to open the tank!

Now I know what I need to prepare, I want to have a good look at it to know what I’m working with!

Monday 22nd October

How do I set up a tank?

I’ve been researching like crazy to find out how to set up my tank, and I’ve found out so much information!

Unsurprisingly, it’s not recommended to go to a aquatic shop, buy everything at once, fill up your tank and throw in your fish. There’s a lot to prepare before you can choose and bring home your fish. The impatient side of me is again, a little disappointed. I have a tank sitting on my work surface begging to be filled! The sensible side of me however wants a happy, alive fish.

The first thing that gets hammered home is that it’s important to cycle your tank correctly. The Tropical Fish Forums have an amazing resource centre that answers every question you have as a beginner. Although it’s sometimes wordy, the information is brilliant and definitely worth reading! One topic takes you through setting up a tank step by step, providing a handy checklist of things you’ll need. I learnt about the different types of cycling, which is recommended and why it’s so important. I’m feeling a lot more confident in being able to create a fish friendly tank!

If you’d like to know more about tank set up and cycling, check out the links below.

Friday 19th October

Which fish fits?

Since getting my tank I’ve become a little obsessed with finding a new tenant for it. Luckily there are some incredible resources available online that are specifically geared for us noobs. It’s reassuring to find forum topics from other starters looking to fill their 20l tanks with the right fish.

In terms of my tank size, the general forum consensus is that the only thing I can put in it is a singular Betta fish. Initially I was a little disappointed, because I was hoping for a small shoal, but now I’ve researched the species I’m really looking forward to keeping one!

Someone also recommended putting some ghost shrimp in there to help with the tanks eco-system. Although it is possible the Betta will eat them, they apparently stand a better chance the larger they are. I think shrimp look so cute so I’d love to have both, but I’m not sure I’d be happy watching them gradually get picked off. Have you tried keeping shrimp in with Betta?

If you’d like to know more about Betta fish, I’ve put some handy links below.

Friday 12th October

Hello, thanks for stopping by!

I’m Rebekah, a newbie fish keeper from Surrey. Recently I’ve been given a 20l tank and I’m really excited to start setting it up! I have absolutely no experience keeping fish, so I’m a little worried. Hopefully there’ll be a lot of information and help online!

I’m going to trawl the web before I even start unpacking my tank, otherwise I know I’ll get too excited and just throw a fish in there, which would probably kill it.

I have vague memories of my Mum keeping fish when I was a child. She used to fill bottles of water and leave them for days, before filling the tank. I have no idea if this is the right thing to do.. although I have a feeling it isn’t. The tank I have comes with a light and filter which is a lot more sophisticated than her set up!

Anyway, I’m going to be posting videos and photos as I go, so please leave me comments and advice. I’m going to need all the help I can get!

Friday 5th October