Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a 3-part series of articles. Today we discuss choosing the right tank.
Maintaining a fish aquarium can bring such fun aspects to your life. I’m not saying this only because I’m an aquarium geek, but because it’s true.
It’s a common disbelief that aquarium caretakers are boring and geeky. I personally know all realms of people who had aquariums and enjoy every second of it.
I decided to write this help guide for those looking to setup a fish tank. I plan to leave out all the fancy jargon aquarium talk and write a “how to” guide for a beginner aquarium setup from start to finish.
I also want to take into account that most people with aquarium fish drop this hobby within the first year of trying it out. I believe the reason for that is lack of knowledge and setup missteps.
I will start from square 1 on figuring out a good-suited aquarium and go all the way to maintaining the tank on your own. I’ve learned that without some helpful details, fish aquariums fail pretty easily. That’s why it’s important to do a little research first.
Weight, Size and Environment
The first thing to think about is what aquarium or fish tank do you want. For total beginners, I always advise some crucial variables to be looked at.
The environment you have set aside or the tank is most important. How much room do you have to work with, and how much weight can your floor withstand? If you live in an apartment building on the 16th floor, you’re going to have to watch how large you go.
Water weighs around 8 pounds per gallon and should be accounted for. This is more of a scary thought that most beginners don’t have to worry about. The main reason is very large tanks are the only the ones you should worry about and beginners don’t buy large tanks.
Most beginners start small with tanks in the 30-75 gallon range, and that’s perfect. I don’t advise buying an aquarium smaller than 30 gallons. The smaller the aquarium, the more work needed to keep the water clean.
Think of it as a ratio. What you need is clean water versus fish waste and uneaten food. The larger the ratio of water compared to waste, the cleaner the tank is.
In the aquarist hobby, anything below a 30-gallon aquarium isn’t even worth talking about (more or less). I’m just being honest here, because I want things to be clear cut for you.
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Decide on a Tank
Past the weight, size and environment, choosing the tank is entirely up to you. The wide selection of tanks will blow you away with what you have to choose from. There are tanks that curl in the front, aquariums in “L” shapes, super tall tanks, or super long tanks, and even tanks that are acrylic.
Oh boy! Now you’re really scratching your head.
If I were to give some honest advice on your choices, I would just get a standard size that they make in bulk. These are cheaper and most popular for a reason: They are the standard sizes of aquariums — 55-, 75- and 120-gallon tanks.
(Side note: Petco runs a special promotion for $1 per gallon aquariums. You give them your email address and they sell you aquariums for $1 per gallon. I have bought multiple 55-gallon aquariums for $55. It’s the best deal I have found on new tanks.)
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Buying Used Equipment
A person can save a load of money buying a used aquarium. I hear stories every day of, “Come get this stuff out of my storage for free.”
However, in the wrong situation buying used can set you backwards. I know this first-hand because I’ve bought aquariums that leaked water because they turned out to be sun-cracked. Are you ready for a possible setback or some major cleaning of used equipment? Or do you just want to go with brand new?
I buy used equipment because I know what to expect with used tanks. Aquariums with leaks are the most common I’ve seen. Water-stained glass, drills holed into glass and more; for the most part, they are pretty easy fixes. Do-it-yourself leak fixes work well too, but that’s a whole other topic there.
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Keep Reading: In Part 2 of this article, we begin discussing the actual aquarium setup. This guest series was written by Chris from FishinnPost.com.