i. Wet a cloth and clean out any dust or dirt that may have settled in the tank
ii. Attach the filter, heater, thermometer to the aquarium but do not turn anything on.
iii. Clean gravel and then cover the bottom of the tank. 2 to 2 1/2" deep is fine. Keep in mind that if you have very heavy rocks then a licker layer of gravel is needed to help distribute the pressure of the rocks.
iv. Place a cereal bowl or some other type of shallow bowl on top of the gravel and then pour water into the bowl allowing it to disperse without disrupting the gravel. Fill the tank to 40-50%.
v. When the water if around half way full start placing your rocks in the tank. It is a good idea to arrange them on the floor before you put them in your tank so that you can get a good idea of how they will fit together in the water.
vi. When your rocks are in place continue filling up the tank using the rocks or the bowl to dampen the force of the water being poured in. Remove the bowl once the tank is full or it is no longer needed.
vii. When the water level is full you can turn on your heater and filter. You mad need to fill the filter with a little cup of water before it will work.
viii. Measure chemicals and add to aquarium. Make sure you dechlorinate the water and balance the pH if necessary.
iv. Allow the heater to adjust the temperature and then begin to cycle your aquarium using one of the methods in the next section.
Your tank should look similar to this before you pour the water in. Cick on the equipment for more information.