Sunday, February 25th, 2018

What Size Fish Tank Should I Buy?


There are a number of shapes, sizes and types of material you can choose from for your first fish tank, but the best advice for the beginning fish-keeper is: Bigger is better. Simply put, depending on your budget and type of aquarium you would like to start, you will just have a better experience with a larger tank than with a smaller one.

Why is a bigger aquarium better?

A larger fish tank gives you more flexibility in making mistakes as a beginning aquarist. The larger volume of water is better able to absorb waste, is less susceptible to changes in temperature, provides a buffer for sudden changes in water conditions, and gives you more time to notice problems with the tank before they turn deadly.

A large aquarium means you can safely handle more fish (instead of over-populating your small aquarium) and usually gives you more time between required water changes. It provides sufficient space as your fish grow to their adult size, and gives you flexibility to add more tank features to enhance the beauty of your display. It also increases the types of fish you can keep, as both schooling fish and larger fish need more space to be happy and healthy in your tank.

For the saltwater aquarium, a larger tank is especially important, as clean and stable water condition is the most important factor in your success.

What size aquarium should I purchase?

While the size of your first tank will be dependent on its location and your budget, you should try to start with at least a 20- or 29-gallon tank for a freshwater tank (larger is still better), and a 55-gallon tank if you are starting a saltwater or marine aquarium.

What if I have a smaller tank?

Don’t worry, just because you have a smaller tank doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, it just means you need to be extra diligent in the care of your small fish tank. Follow these tips to increase your chances for success:

Resist the urge to overpopulate

Regardless of what size of fish tank you start out with, your chances of success are much greater if you don’t rush out and fill your aquarium full with fish. As a general rule, you should end up with no more than one inch of fish per gallon of tank. In addition, be sure to follow these general rules when starting up your tank:

  • Change water frequently (10-15% weekly)
  • Monitor water temperature daily
  • Test water quality weekly
  • Do not overfeed

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