How to Set Up The Most Efficient Aquarium

Michael Langerman
6 min readMay 27, 2020


I set up all my aquarium nurseries at least 2 weeks before getting any pets in them.

Make sure the narrowest side of your new aquarium is at least 3 times the size of your pet.
It is the necessary minimum — make it larger than that.
I like the shape of this vase.

It is about 29 cm wide, 23 cm deep.

And it is 8 cm at the narrowest point.
Which makes it suitable for a 2.5 cm (or 1 inch) long pet.
That is size of my adult dwarf guppies and cherry shrimp ;)

Put gravel and rocks in the aquarium.
This rock looks like a fossil of a dinosaur head.

Should I name the tank accordingly? ;)

Add dechlorinated water.
4.5 liters fits in this dinosaur head aquarium.

Let’s add plants.
Here I add two bulbs of a Dwarf Water lily.
They are dry and very small…will they sprout?
It takes time for bulbs to soak.

I want to put some plants on the back side of the tank.

Here I just drop cuttings of growing underwater land moss.

I like to have a combination of fast and slow growing plants in my aquariums.

The more varieties the better.

Here I add cuttings of Elodea and some Duckweed comes with it.

Let’s make a feeding frame very quickly out of a disposable plastic straw.

A feeding frame is useful in aquariums with floating plants like duckweed in this example.

Put the frame into the aquarium.

I like to add pond snails and other tiny critters in my aquariums.

Also, I add Frogbits floating plants.

And a pinch of homemade fish food.

So, here I have 5 different plants in this aquarium to start with.

Later I may and will! add more plants.

Plants are natural filters that provide oxygen, food, and shelter for pets.
Also, algae provides oxygen and food.

And there are different bacteria breaking down organic waste for algae and plants to feed on.

Plants compete with algae for nutrition dissolved in water and CO2.
Plants, algae and bacteria are essential parts of every aquarium.
It takes a couple weeks to establish initially healthy balance between them all.
It’s all natural self-regulating and never ending process.
Every pinch of fish food given to pets, snails in this example, also provides food for bacteria, algae, and plants.

Be mindful of overfeeding!
Overfeeding is the main cause of most problems in aquariums.
The very first pinch of food I give to snails speeds up growth of algae.
Snails eat algae and produce waste that fuels algae growth.
Then snails eat the algae and so it goes in cycles.

Any additional feeding is supplementary in this self-sustaining ecosystem.

Cover your aquarium with a lid.

The design of this lid allows air circulation while greatly reducing water evaporation.

Also, the lid serves as a base for an aquarium garden ;)

This setup does not require water changes and can self-sustain for years :)

On May 9th, 2019 I add Cherry shrimp in this aquarium.

I try new plants to see which fits and looks better, test ideas and new designs all the time.

And I wish you do too!

Check description of the video for useful links.

Have fun and happy aquariums :)