What is the Best Aquarium Size for me?

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Answered by: DJ, An Expert in the Set Up an Aquarium Category
People both young and old get excited when considering the possibility of owning their very own slice of aquatic life, but long before they feed their first fish, or do their first bit of maintenance, the first issue they run into is deciding what is the best aquarium size. The common question asked is how big? The simple answer is go as big as your wallet can allow, or go home! I'm kidding, I used to work for a local fish store(LFS) and that was always the standard answer.

There are a few things to consider when choosing the best aquarium size:

- Budget

- Location

- Experience Level/Goals

- Future maintenance/upgrades


This is by far the most important factor to consider, especially when considering a saltwater system, because additives and things add up and the more water volume you have the more of each you will need. There are many other factors involved with a saltwater system so do not let that statement alone deter you! On average the larger the aquarium both freshwater and salt, the easier it is to maintain due to the buffering capacity of the larger body of water. Sometimes you can find good deals on used equipment online but we always recommend starting with a new aquarium and stand at least for peace of mind that it wont spring a leak. Nothing worse than watching your animals suffer because the tank is draining itself! It is always a good idea to plan for as large as an aquarium as you can afford, and fit in the desired location you have chosen. The larger the aquarium the larger the fish you can have, or the more fish you can keep successfully!


The place you decide to have your aquarium is also important, it should be away from any windows to cut down on algae growth from sunlight, and away form any very high traffic areas in the home to avoid stressing the fish. Also if the aquarium is to be placed on a second floor make sure the weight can be supported. The floor should be as level as possible and it is never a good idea to place the aquarium on carpet or wood/laminate floors. Inevitably there will be some spills during maintenance so a tile or concrete floor is advised when possible. Saltwater for example weighs almost 9lbs per gallon so keep in mind the weight of a 100 gallon aquarium can exceed 900lbs!

Experience Level/Goals

If this is your first aquarium, especially if it is saltwater, it is again advised to go as large as you can afford. A larger aquarium is always easier to take care of as a beginner. Given the wide variety of styles and designs and sizes of aquariums, there is something out there for everyone. Also it is a good idea to plan what type of aquatic life you plan on keeping, because than can determine the style and size needed for a particular type of livestock. Think of the size idea this way: in the ocean/lake/river, you can spill gasoline into the water(do not do this on purpose its bad for the environment) and the fish are fine, but a fish in a bucket would die if you pour a drop of gasoline into the bucket. This is called buffering capacity, and a larger aquarium can buffer mistakes or problems much better than a smaller one.

Future Maintenance/Upgrades

One thing to consider is maintenance, and cleaning of the aquarium. Sometimes a very unique, or strange design can provide a cleaning nightmare down the line. Usually this is a problem with poorly planned custom setups or pieced together systems. Always make sure the filtration style and type/brand you choose is proven and reliable to avoid headaches in the future. Also it is always a great idea to plan for future upgrades! Once the fish itch sets in, most folks end up going even bigger for more fish! The best way to plan for this is with your filtration. Always get a larger filter than the tank you currently have, that way when you upgrade you only have to buy a larger tank and lighting and not an entire new filtration system.

Thanks for reading and if you are in the Phoenix area and need help with your aquarium, contact me here:

DJ Payne



602 432 6041

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