When considering an aquarium for the first time, they’re a few things that you should be looking at. Size, shape and type of aquarium. The size refers to how many gallons of water it holds. Shape refers to the dimensions of the fish tank. Is the tank wide but not deep or is the tank narrow and very deep? It makes a difference in plant growth as well as what type of fish works best in the type of aquarium you do get. They type of aquarium refers to a glass or acrylic aquarium. Each one has it’s advantages and disadvantages.
This article will explain all these options.
First off, what size would be appropriate for a beginning fishkeeper?
Believe it or not, bigger is better. You would think that as a beginner, it would be easier to start with a small fish tank that is more manageable. It’s actually better for the beginner to start off with a bigger fish tank. It’s easier to keep the water clean as long as you have the proper filtration.
It also depends on the type of fish and the size the fish will grow to as an adult. Certain species of fish require a bigger tank simply because they like the room to swim, even if they are a small fish. These are mostly your schooling fish like tetra and danios.
Other species can grow pretty big, but you were not warned at the store so they may outgrow your fish tank. An example would be your common pleco which can grow to over a foot long.
Certain fish like the betta, you can get by with a smaller tank of 10-20 gallons.
For a beginner, I would say to start with a 25 to 50-gallon fish tank and not stock it too full. The important thing is to do some research first on the fish you are interested in.
Types of Aquariums
All glass aquariums are probably the most popular on the market. The glass on these tanks is either tempered, meaning it’s stronger, lighter in weight, and shatter into pieces when they break or plate glass, meaning it’s heavier, thicker, and cracks only when it breaks. Glass fish tanks are then sealed with non-toxic silicone. The frames for these tanks are usually plastic.
Glass aquariums are cheaper if cost is a consideration.
They offer a good viewing area since the sides are flat. Some come with pre-drilled holes for the tank equipment but is not necessary.
Glass doesn’t scratch easily, so can last longer.
The shapes of glass tanks are limited to square or rectangular, so if you are looking for an unusual shape tank glass is not going to work.
Another consideration is weight. Glass fish tanks are heavy and get heavier as the size gets bigger because the larger the tank, the thicker the glass. If you have weight restrictions where you are, a larger tank could be too heavy.
Lighter than glass aquariums and easier to move. They’re better if you have weight restrictions on your floor.
You get more choices in colors and styles. Some acrylic tanks have background colors that look really nice.
Acrylic tanks have a more upscale look and are more attractive than glass tanks.
They are much stronger than glass and it would take one heck of a blow to break it.
They come in many different shapes for interesting decor.
The seamless construction looks really classy too. These transparent corners allow viewing the fish from any angle.
Acrylic tanks have more distortion because of the way they are made in the factory.
Since they are top of the line when it comes to quality and durability, they are more expensive than their glass counterparts.
Acrylic tanks scratch easier, so you have to be careful when cleaning and moving the substrate around. I recommend a special acrylic scrubber just for acrylic tanks.
If you are interested in an acrylic aquarium this SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set is a good one and they come in many different sizes.
Shapes of aquariums
The shape of the aquarium is an important consideration as well. Certain species of fish that are popular in the fishkeeping hobby like to plenty of room to swim back and forth. Those type of fish prefer a long tank. Examples would be Danio and Rasbora. It’s also easier to grow live plants in a long tank that is not as deep. You have to consider that the lighting has to go through water to get to the plants. The deeper the tank, the more water the light has to go through to get to the plants. Longer fish tanks do take up more room, so you need a good space to accommodate.
Tower aquariums are fish tanks that are tall and deep. Those types of fish tanks are good if space is limited, but you’ll have to get a fish that will not mind the lack of space. You may have to go with artificial plants, simply because it would be too difficult to grow live plants in these type of fish tanks. Another disadvantage is the surface area at the top doesn’t allow for much oxidation of the water, so you can’t keep as many fish as in a normal rectangular tank. They’re also harder to clean.
You can also buy aquarium kits. They come with most everything you need to start like the heater, filter, food, net etc. so you don’t have to shop all around for equipment. It’s great for beginners, but as you get more experienced you may want to upgrade some of the equipment.
Plastic fish tanks are the most inexpensive of the aquariums, but scratch easily and are not too durable. Another disadvantage is they turn a yellowish color after some time. Probably best to avoid these type of aquariums.
These are acrylic aquariums that you mount in the wall if you’re really ambitious. They’re great if you have children because they can’t get at them and pull them down. They’re also great if you don’t have a lot of space for a stand.
The portrait aquariums are pretty cool to look at too. It’s actually pretty easy to feed the fish because they come with feeding holes. These are for the more experienced fish keeper. Best to have an experienced carpenter install it.
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