Selecting an Aquarium

angelfish and guppies in community tank

Fish keeping is a fun hobby especially if you get off to the right start in the beginning. By selecting the best aquarium for your needs you can have a rewarding hobby for years to come.

There are several decisions that need to be made when choosing an aquarium, such as the size of tank, saltwater or freshwater, what kind of accessories you will need, and where to place the aquarium. Fish tanks come in all different sizes and shapes. Thankfully we are living in an age in which we can shop online at places such as Swell UK and you can find just about every size and shape of aquarium available right at your fingertips.

These days, you can often find online guides and articles to help you make the best selection of whatever product you are looking for, whether it is aquariums, camping gear, fishing poles, or the best outdoor blankets. Hopefully, this article will help you in picking out the best tank for your needs.

What Size Aquarium Should You Get?

The size of the aquarium is probably one of the most important decisions. Larger tanks are better than smaller tanks. This is because larger aquariums will have a greater surface area for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and also waste products from the fish will be more widely dispersed in a larger body of water. Larger tanks are also less likely to have wide temperature fluctuations.

Another benefit to larger aquariums is that they can successfully hold more fish. People often tend to overstock their aquariums. For example, if you buy a 10 gallon aquarium then you will not be able to successfully house very many fish without overcrowding the tank. A larger tank means you get to buy more fish.

However, if you are just starting out and don't want to invest in a large tank then, by all means, get a smaller tank and then upgrade later if you decide you want to. The fish tank I started with was a 10 gallon and I loved the hobby so much that I have been keeping fish (in multiple tanks now) for the past 45 years.

After keeping fish for all these years I can say that it is best to get at least a 20 gallon tank if you can. Tanks of this size or larger tend to have the healthiest fish.

Another factor in determining tank size is the fish you intend to keep. Smaller fish need less space than larger fish. The number of fish you intend to keep is also a determining factor. For example, lets say you plan on keeping one betta splendens as your only fish, then a smaller tank will suffice.

What Shape Is Best?

The shape of the tank is also important. Rectangular shapes are best because they provide the largest surface area for oxygen exchange. Aquariums that are taller than they are wide may look nice, but there isn't as much surface area at the top. In addition, fish swim through the tank horizonally, and not up and down (unless they are going to the top to eat).

As long as the aquarium is longer than it is tall, then any shape will do. Choose the shape you like and that fits in well with your home decor.

Acrylic versus Glass

Both acrylic or glass aquariums will work fine. I prefer acrylic tanks because they are less likely to develop leaks than glass tanks because the corners of acrylic tanks are seamless. Typically, acrylic tanks are available in more shapes than glass. Acrylic tanks are also lighter than glass tanks, but scratch more easily than glass tanks do. Another benefit to glass tanks is that they are usually less expensive than acrylic tanks.

Aquarium Kits vs Separate Items

You can choose to buy just a fish tank and then buy all of the other items you'll need, such as the filter, heater, light, ect, or you can buy an aquarium kit that includes everything you need to get your tank up and running.

I love aquarium kits. This is because it takes all of the guesswork out of the other items you need for your fish tank. These generally come with a filter, aquarium hood with light, often a heater, and other necessary items to get your tank up and running. Also, because everything in the kit is designed to go together, it all fits together very well.

You can usually find an aquarium stand that works well for your tank at the same place you buy your aquarium.

Saltwater vs Freshwater

You'll have to decide if you want a freshwater or a saltwater tank. In general, freshwater tanks are easier to set up and maintain than saltwater tanks.

Decorating the Tank and Choosing Your Fish

One of the best parts of setting up an aquarium is getting to pick out the tank decorations, plants, background, and fish.

In addition to the aquarium, stand, filter, heater, and lighting here are some other items you will need for a freshwater aquarium:

  • Aquarium Gravel
  • Bucket - to wash the gravel and to fill the tank
  • Aquarium thermometer
  • Siphon hose - for weekly partial water changes
  • Fish food
  • Chlorine/Chloramine Remover
  • Fish net
  • Aquarium Plants
  • Before you buy your fish be sure to research the fish and other tank inhabitants you intend to get to make sure they are compatible with each other before putting them together. Also, research the size of the fish when they are full grown. For example, the small common plecos you see at the fish store can grow up to 2 feet and will quickly outgrow small aquariums.