Want to keep fish but unsure of where to begin? We have put together a handy guide of key things to consider.
*The below is intended as a guide only and there are many different ways in which to set up an aquarium. This is what we have found works best for us and our customers.*
Cold water, tropical or salt water?

Cold water

Cold water fish (e.g. goldfish) are the most straight forward fish to get started with and can be just as rewarding to keep as any other, but without the added complications of water temperature or salt content. However, your cold water aquarium will need to be set up and running (with ‘Tap Safe’ solution added) for 5-10 days before the water is tested to ensure it is safe for fish to be added.


Tropical fish require fresh water at a temperature of 24c – 27c and so tropical aquariums must be equipped with a heater and thermostat to ensure that conditions are right in order for your fish to thrive. Similarly to cold water tanks, tropical aquariums need to be set up and running for 5-10 days, followed by a water test before introducing fish to your new tank.

Salt water/marine

Salt water fish are the most complex to care for due to the need for heated water and a careful balance of salt. Tank set up times are also longer, with aquariums needing to be set up and running for between 5 days and 1 month before water can be tested and fish introduced. The water used in the aquarium must either be tap water with added de-chlorinator or R.O. (reverse osmosis) water.

What size tank should I get?

The size of your aquarium will depend on the space you have available and what types of fish you intend to keep. Cold water, salt water and tropical varieties of fish all need different volumes of water per fish. The variety of fish you want to keep will also impact the size of tank you will need.

What do I need in my tank?


Gravel can be added to the bottom of your aquarium as it provides a place for plant roots to grow and fish to forage.


Plants provide shelter for your fish as well as providing a more natural decoration for your aquarium. Either live or artificial plants can be placed in your aquarium, with both having negative and positive points.


Ornaments come in many shapes and sizes, such as rocks and wood for a more natural effect. An alternative is manufactured ornaments which add a splash of colour to your aquarium.

Preparing your tank for fish

Once your tank has been set up for the required amount of time, please bring a water sample into store where we will carry out a free check to ensure that your tank is ready. Water tests are carried out to ensure that the levels within the water can support your fish and keep them healthy. Introducing fish into a tank too early can cause a number of problems including the death of fish.

Choosing your fish

Not all fish are compatible, with many different varieties not able to live together. Our team of staff are happy to help with any fish or aquarium queries you may have including helping you to select the fish best suited to your tank and to each other. We also have a handy colour coded system on our tanks which indicates which fish are most likely to live happily together.

For more information on keeping fish please visit us in store or give us a call on 01639 641111.