Choosing Your Aquarium
A wide variety of commercially available aquariums are designed specifically for marine organisms. The large number of styles, shapes, and sizes will fit just about everyone's taste. Designs include freestanding rectangular, spherical (fish-eye), and square tanks - as well as models that resemble a low coffee table.
Size of Your Aquarium
Determining the proper size of the aquarium depends on the number and type of fish, the available space and economical constraints. To the new marine hobbyist the best advice is the larger the aquarium the better.
You should give careful consideration to the shape of your aquarium. The various available shapes have a direct effect on the watery environment. Long tanks provide greater surface area and reduce depth. High tanks provide greater depth and reduced surface area. The greater the surface area of the tank, the better the gas exchange at the water surface - and therefore the more rapid the dissipation of carbon dioxide and the absorption of oxygen. Certain aquarium shapes can appear pleasing to the eye, but may not have the environmental advantages offered by more standard designs. For example, fish-eye tanks provide an ultramodern appearance, but are generally unsuitable because of an extreme reduction in surface area. The number of animals that can be maintained in such tanks is quite limited. In addition, maintenance of the fish-eye aquariums is often very difficult and time-consuming including the cleaning of the gravel, addition and removal of decorative items and fish, and simple cleaning of the inside surfaces.
As a general rule, if two aquariums of the same volume differ in the size of their surfaces, select the one that provides the greater surface area.
Aquarium Weight and Placement
A very important consideration in deciding the size of the aquarium is its total weight when in full operation. In determining where the aquarium is to be placed, you must consider the combined weight of the aquarium, water, decorations, coral rock, and so on.
A fish tank will require a stand to keep it off the floor and put it at a height that allows easy viewing and access. Stands made out of iron or metal are not recommended for a saltwater aquarium, as they will quickly rust when they come into contact with salt water. A stand made of wood or acrylic will last much longer. Although it is possible to build your own stand, the stability of a tank stand is extremely important, so a task like that is best left to a master craftsman. A commercially-made stand that is sized to fit your aquarium is a great option.
Where the aquarium is placed is a matter of personal preference. It makes a beautiful focus in a living room, den, bedroom, or any other room. Larger aquariums can be placed as an attractive room divider. Wherever you decide to situate the aquarium, it is important to have easy access to multiple wall outlets to minimize the use of extension cords.