How to Set up a Community Fish Tank

Love fish and want to set up a community tank? But don't know what fish should be together? Well, you've come to the right place.


  1. Image titled Set up a Community Fish Tank Step 1
    Set up your tank. Get a big tank, larger than 10 gallons (37.9 L) ideally. But that's just a preferable size, you can choose the size of your tank according to your own personal choice. When you do this make sure that you don't take a tank with thin glass. Check that the tank doesn't leak when you buy it from the shop.
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    Add your layers. The flooring can be done in different layers but it's best to stick with one single layer. You can use gravel or substrate or sand. The finer the flooring materials the better.
    • Make sure that it covers 1/20th of the tank's height.
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    Add in your decoration pieces. Decorate using your imagination any way you like. Remember that the ornaments should not take up more than 40% of the tank space. Give some shade or hiding place for the fishes to rest when they get fatigued or want shelter.
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    Slowly add water, being careful not to disturb your setting. Leave about 1/20th space at the top of the tank. Stop pouring water at that level.
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    Put in your power filter. Turn it on to enable circulation and filtration of water. It is to be turned on the entire day; do not turn it off.
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    Add a heater and a thermometer. These are a must as temperature control is crucial. For community tanks the average acceptable temperature is 22-27 degrees Celsius. Make sure that the temperature is within this range.
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    Wait for 3 days. Keep the filter turned on for 3 days at least to enable helpful bacteria to develop as these will help keep the tank clean. You may add fishes and other aquatic animals after this period.
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    Introduce your fish slowly. Do not just pour them in; put the plastic bag they came in in the aquarium water for 20 minutes before releasing them. If you're not sure what fish to get, some options include:
    • Guppies
      Image titled Guppy3
    • Zebra Fish

      Image titled Zebrafish red adult a
    • Neon Tetras are also a good choice for beginners. Zebrafish and Neons are schooling fish so they will be fun to watch.
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    Feed your fish 2 times a day. Do it once in the morning and once at night. Avoid overfeeding, as this will make water cloudy. The number of pellets you give should be double the number of your total fish if you have Guppies/Zebra/Molly/Platy/Neons; for other fish, follow any species-specific suggestions.
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    Keep the lights in your tank turned on for 8 hours a day. No light in fish tanks can result in fishes getting de-colorized or worse-blind!


  • Start off small, 3 or 4 fish at best, then work your way up gradually, because if you just dump 50 fish on yourself you will regret it.
  • Some fish, such as barbs, do better in groups. Add them to your community in groups of at least 3 (5 is better). They will establish their own pecking order and be less likely to pick at your other fish.
  • Don't rely on pet store staff advice; they don't necessarily know what's best for specific fish species.
  • Remember to feed your fish with the correct food! Look for food with a high Red Index. The higher the number of Red Index the better colour enhancing formula the food has. The Red Index is generally written in red at the back of the fish food packet.
  • Starting of small you can have minimum amounts of ornaments in your tank, get more when you have enough experience to decorate your tank to make it look nice as over cramming your tank wouldn't be an aesthetic thing.
    A common community tank.
  • Don't over stock your community tank. This will stress your fish too much and also cause aggression between species.


  • Make sure the fish you choose go together, so they won't kill each other.
  • Best practice: Don't put newly purchased fish into your community tank immediately after purchase. It's possible that newly purchased fish are ill but are not yet showing any symptoms. Use a smaller holding tank for new fish for a few days to a week. If no signs of ick or other sickness are evident then you can more safely transfer your new fish into your healthy community.
  • Granted, fish can be cool, but don't tap the glass or harass them 24/7; if you do they will probably die of stress.
  • Live plants look fantastic and add life to your tank but it is highly unrecommended to try them out at a beginners stage as aquatic plants need quite a lot of care and other factors like carbon dioxide levels need to be maintained as well.
  • Do not add lobsters, crayfishes or crabs in a community tank with small fish like Guppies/Zebras/Neons/Platy fish will fall victim to them.
  • Bonus: Your holding tank can double as a baby tank if any of your fish become (or are purchased) pregnant.

Things You'll Need

  • Tank (10 to 25 gallons)
  • Washed river sand
  • Gravel
  • Filter
  • Heater
  • Rocks
  • Fish
  • Fish food
  • Fish net
  • Lighting

Article Info

Categories: Aquariums