- Place the tank on the floor of your bathroom, laundry room, or garage, and fill it with water. Let it stand for 24 to 48 hours. Check for leaks.
- Select an area away from the window (or if it must be near a window, keep the shades permanently drawn to cut out external light). Also make sure it is not near a heater or air-conditioner.
- Place the stand or sturdy table in that location. If it rocks, stuff cardboard or wood under the legs till it stops.
- Position tank on stand. If tank rocks slightly, stuff cardboard, thick towel strips, or thin layer of cork under the corner that is not in contact with the stand surface. If the gap between stand and tank is quite large, you have a bad stand — return it and get something that works (make them test it in the store before taking it home).
Rinse gravel and place in tank, fill with treated water (or drop the water conditioner in later).
- Attach heater. Let it acclimate to the water for 15-20 minutes before turning it on.
- Place foam insert in filter basket (the activated carbon is optional), fill the filter cavity with water before turning the filter on. If you’re not in a rush, let the filter run in the tank for a day or two before adding fish — but that’s not really so important.
- Before adding fish, do a nitrate, nitrite, pH, and ammonia test to get baseline measurements of your water quality.