Tips For Choosing An Aquarium

A wide range of sizes and shapes of aquariums are available to you, as well as a choice of glass or acrylic aquariums, so how do you choose the best aquarium for your home and for the fish you intend to keep? We have put together a guide to help you to choose the perfect aquarium.

Where to Locate Your Aquarium

The first thing to decide before you make a purchase is the location for your new aquarium. You must take account of the final weight of the aquarium when filled with water if you intend to place it on a shelf or table. A twenty gallon tank, once filled, will weigh about two hundred pounds! Do you need a stand or a specially designed cabinet?

Aquarium Size

Aquariums for the home come in a huge range of sizes from tiny glass bowls to huge five hundred gallon tanks. You will want an aquarium that is the right size for your home and for your fish. The first thing to consider is the location you intend for the aquarium. Measure the area to ensure the aquarium you choose will fit.

One thing to consider is that a bigger aquarium requires less maintenance. Small aquariums are much harder to keep the water balance correct, are easy to overcrowd and rotting food or vegetation can have an immediate affect on the health of the fish. A good size for a beginner is between twenty and thirty gallons. Decide how many fish you wish to keep. Very roughly you can keep one inch of fish to every gallon of water, but remember this is a rough estimate and a lot will depend on the type of fish and how well maintained the aquarium is. Always understock a tank rather than overstock!

The best way to choose the size of the tank is to purchase the biggest tank within your budget that will fit comfortably in the location you have chosen.

More Information on Tank Size

Aquarium Shapes

Since the introduction of acrylic aquarium, different shapes have been added to the traditional rectangular shape including cylinder, hexagon and round aquariums. There are also aquariums designed to be wall mounted and coffe table aquariums. Despite all these innovative designs the rectangular aquarium is still the best as the the area of water surface compared to the water volume is large which is important for allowing the exchange of gases with the air. Other shapes, with a smaller surface area compared to water volume, will often need more frequent water changes and more maintenance.

Do You Need a Glass or Acrylic Aquariums?

Both materials for aquariums have their advantages and disadvantages. The traditional glass aquarium is heavy and can spring leaks at the seams. Leaks are easy to fix however and usually only occur in an older aquarium. They are usually cheaper than acrylic aquariums. They only come in rectangular or square shapes.

The newer acrylic aquariums are lighter than glass and come in all sorts of innovative shapes. They rarely spring leaks as there are no seams. They are more expensive than glass aquariums but generally last longer. They are easy to scratch however so never clean with any kind of abrasive chemical or other chemicals which can fog the glass. Acrylic aquariums used to yellow with age but the newer materials stay clear throughout their lifetime.


  • Acrylic Aquariums : long lasting, leak free, innovative shapes
  • Glass Aquariums : Cheap


  • Acrylic Aquariums : expensive, easily scratched
  • Glass Aquariums : Heavy, tend to spring leaks

Choosing Your Stand

A fish tank will require a stand to keep it off the floor and raise it to an appropriate height. As a full fish tank can be quite heavy (at least 10 pounds for every gallon), using a piece of household furniture (like a table or a bookshelf) as a stand is not recommended. To avoid potential disaster, a stand specifically designed to hold a fish tank and sized to your particular tank is the best option in almost all cases. Commercial aquarium stands are available in metal and wood. They come in a variety of styles and qualities, some very simple and some looking more like an expensive piece of furniture, even providing storage space underneath the tank.


A tank cover serves several purposes, but its most important duty is to keep the fish in the tank. Some fish are more inclined to jumping than others, but any fish has the ability to get out of an uncovered tank. The types of covers most commonly used are plastic hoods and glass tops. They both have access doors, and a plastic hood will also have a glass strip where the light fixture will be installed.

Author: Janet Ashby Article Source: - Tips For Choosing An Aquarium