Tropical fish are pretty to look at. It is not terribly hard to start up your own tank. But, there are some important things to know for the health and well-being of your fish. There are many different types and a lot to learn but this will give basic set up instructions. First of all, you will need to purchase some supplies.
This list here is a guide:
Fish tank: There are small 5-10 gallon tanks or much larger tanks in 30, 55, or even greater sizes)
Tank hood with light
Fish stand: This is especially important if you have larger tanks because a full tank is VERY heavy and not all regular furniture will support it. Just remember that each gallon of water weighs about 8 pounds so a 10 gallon tank is 80 pounds of just water and a 55 gallon tank has 440 pounds of water plus the weight of the tank itself!)
Heater: Make sure it is the right size for your tank
Plants: Real or fake
Fish tank thermometer
Chemicals to test for pH and Nitrate level: They sell these as kits
Background paper for your tank
Surge Protector with multiple plugs
Once you have made your purchases, you have to decide where you are going to set up your tank. It should be in a place where there are no drafts and where the tank will not get direct sunlight. It should be in a place that is not in the middle of a high traffic area or it may get knocked around or accidents may occur. Set up the stand and place the tank on top. You may want to rinse the tank with clear water if it seems it might be dusty or dirty in any way. No soaps or cleansers are necessary and can be a detriment to the fish.
The next step is to get your gravel ready. There are several different types of filter systems but whether you are using an undergravel system or not, you still have to clean and place your gravel. If you are using an undergravel filter system you will have to read the directions for setting that up. Wash your gravel using a strainer and clear water and place it in the tank. You are now ready to fill your tank with water.
Set up filters and heaters. Using your multi-plug surge protector, plug in all the accessories. Run the filter and heater and get your water to the appropriate temperature. You can figure out the appropriate temperature by reading about the type of fish you plan to purchase and seeing what their optimal temperature should be. Check pH in your water and make sure that it is just right. There are chemicals to fix the pH if it is not right. You must run the filter and heater in your tank for at least a week before placing fish in it. Then, purchase very hearty fish (but not very expensive ones) such as Zebra Danios and see how they do. Only add 3-5 fish at any one time to help them adjust and wait at least 2 weeks between fish additions.
Good luck with your fish tank and enjoy watching them swimming around. It is very relaxing!!