Purchase The Equipment
Now that we know what this is going to cost us, we have overcome the shock, and convinced our spouses that "I can do it a lot cheaper than that!" it is time to part with the first of many dead presidents.
Since shipping costs on a tank and stand will eat you up, it is best to shop around your local pet stores, rather than search the Internet. Find the tank, top, stand, and canopy and bring it home. You may also choose to buy a few more things on this first trip and that is okay, as long as it is not live rock, live sand, live animals, live anything.
For the majority of your dry goods, though, I would recommend Internet or mail-order places. You are going to drop a lot of coins. Save them where you can.
Before we go any further though, we need the following items on-hand:
Once we have all of these things on hand, we are ready to get started.
First, pick a spot to put your tank. Make sure that it is in a location that is not too near a window, as the sunlight in the summertime might help to overheat the tank and encourage unwanted algae growth. Make sure the spot has an accessible electrical outlet that can handle the cumulative load of all the pumps and lights you will be plugging into it.
Water and electricity do not mix so we need to take precautions in case of a spill or errant pump to keep from getting the bejeezus shocked out of us. With a spot in mind, replace the electrical outlet with the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) plug. Follow the manufacturers instructions explicitly, keeping in mind that you are a fish person, not an electrician. It is a simple task if done correctly.
Now, lets put the tank and stand in place (without water or pumps or anything) and take a step back and look at it. Does it look good here? If not, move it now, before it weighs 400 pounds. Once a spot is located that meets your obviously high standards, ask your spouse or significant other their opinion. When you reach consensus, we can move forward.
With the tank in place, clean it with fresh tap-water making sure to get off all the stickers, dirt, grime, etc. Do not use any chemicals on the glass. If you have stubborn stains, use a little distilled vinegar or a razor blade to clean it up. Then rinse thoroughly again with fresh water.
If you choose to have a background, and I would recommend a blue or black solid one, put it on the tank now. Heavy aquarium papers are available at you local pet stores for this purpose. Attach them securely and neatly to the back of the tank using a heavy-duty weather-resistant tape.
With the tank on the stand and empty, use a carpenter's level to ensure that the tank is level front-to-back and side-to-side. Use small wood or plastic shims from the hardware store under the stand, not the tank, to achieve level. With this done, let's move on to testing the setup.
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