micheal, i agree with eve in that you shouldn't use chemicals when starting a tank up initially, however a little bit of start right... to get the bio cycle going doesn't hurt a thing, and yes there are relatively cheap ( when i say this i mean under ten bucks), ph test kits that come with both ph up and ph down. i do however use a dechlorination chemical in the water with my big tank when i do large water changes, because of the area where i live the levels of chlorine in the towns water are higher than normal due to one reason or another. it's either that or set ten buckets of water out in my kitchen for two days for the chlorine to naturally evap from the water, and hope and pray that my puppy doesn't knock them over... lol hence the dechlorination chemicals, you can get tablets or a liquid for that. if you put heavily chlorinated water into a stable tank it can become unstable in a hurry. that is also something you will want to consider when doing water changes after you have your tank setup properly. a ph test kit is something that you should have already if you have anything bigger than a ten gal with only a few fish in it. I test my ph once a month whether or not it needs it and this is always during the in between time of my major water changes, although i do small amounts once a week. in my 125 gal i take out around 20 gal of water a week and replace it, and then when i do my big water changes each month i take out 50+ gal depending on how dirty the water is when i go over the gravel to sift it a second time during this cleaning. and at this point is when i change out my filter inserts, removing the trays ad cleaning them out and removing the charcoal bag along with the amo carb pads, the amo carb pads that i buy can be recharged simply by putting them in salt water and letting them soak for a few hours, note don't use table salt for this, i use cichlid salt.. it's a brand you can buy at the pet store. under five bucks here. lol hope this info doesn't confuse you or persuade you to find another hobby, fish are wonderful pets and are great to have however like any living thing they need attention and to be cared for regularly, it's not just something that you can setup and walk away from and only look at from time to time, but when you have a healthy tank and awesome colored healthy fish it's quite rewarding to just sit back and watch them do their thing and enjoy the relaxation they can bring at the end of a hard day doing whatever out there in the fast paced hustle and bustle of the real world.