How to Choose the Best Type of Aquarium for a Beginner?

After a long, tiring day, what’s more relaxing than watching a community of colorful, serene fish swimming gracefully in their aquatic paradise? An aquarium is not only a beautiful addition to your space, but it also provides endless fascination and relaxation. However, setting up an aquarium is not as straightforward as it seems. It involves a lot of decisions, from the size of the tank to the type of fish you will keep. If you’re a beginner, making these choices can be overwhelming. Fear not, we’re here to help you navigate these murky waters.

Choose the Right Size of the Aquarium

Before you can even think about which fish to keep or what plants to grow, the first step is choosing the right size for your aquarium. The size of your aquarium will determine the number of fish you can keep, the type of water system you will use, and even the plants and decorations you can have.

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The most common aquarium sizes range from 10 to 55 gallons. Smaller tanks might seem attractive due to their compact size and affordability. However, these tanks require more maintenance as the water parameters can quickly fluctuate in a small volume of water.

On the other hand, larger tanks offer more stability and a wider variety of fish, plants, and decorations to choose from. However, they are more expensive, take up more space, and can be challenging to clean and maintain. Also, remember to consider the weight of the filled tank. A gallon of water weighs around 8 pounds, so a filled 50-gallon tank will weigh around 400 pounds.

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Deciding the Material of the Tank: Glass or Acrylic?

Aquariums are typically made from either glass or acrylic, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Glass aquariums are less expensive, more scratch-resistant, and do not distort the view. However, they are heavier, less impact-resistant, and their shapes are limited to rectangles or squares as the glass is not pliable.

Acrylic tanks, on the other hand, are lighter, more impact-resistant, and can be molded into various shapes. They also provide more clarity than glass tanks. However, they are more prone to scratches, and they are more expensive. Keep in mind that no matter which material you choose, it’s crucial to pick a sturdy stand that can support the weight of the filled aquarium.

Choosing the Right Filter System

The filter system is an essential part of an aquarium as it helps maintain the water quality by removing waste, leftover food, and potentially harmful chemicals from the water. There are three types of filtration: mechanical, chemical, and biological. Most filters available on the market combine these three types of filtration to ensure maximum water quality.

Choosing the right filter depends on the size of your tank and the species of fish you plan to keep. For smaller tanks, a hang-on-back filter or an internal filter would be suitable. For larger tanks, a canister filter or a sump system would be the best choice.

The Importance of Aquarium Heaters and Lights

Aquarium heaters and lights are critical components of any aquarium setup. They help create an environment that closely mimics the natural habitat of the fish.

Most tropical fish require a consistent water temperature between 74°F and 80°F. As such, a reliable, adjustable heater is crucial. When selecting a heater, consider the size of your tank and the temperature of your room.

Aquarium lights not only showcase your aquarium, but they also serve a critical function in the growth of live plants and the health of fish. The best light for your aquarium will depend on the inhabitants of your tank. For example, if you have a planted aquarium, you will need high-quality lights to support photosynthesis.

Selecting the Fish and Plants for Your Aquarium

Last but not least, you need to choose the fish and plants for your aquarium. This is where you can get creative and design your own aquatic world. However, always remember that not all fish and plants are compatible.

Research each species’ needs and compatibility with others. Some fish are more aggressive and might not get along with others. Similarly, some plants require specific lighting and nutrient conditions to thrive. It’s best to start with hardy, low-maintenance fish and plants as a beginner.

In conclusion, choosing the best aquarium involves a lot of factors and decisions. But with careful planning and research, you can create an attractive, thriving aquatic world in your own home. Happy fish keeping!

Necessities for a Beginner’s Aquarium

When starting your first aquarium, it’s essential to have all the necessities in place to create a safe and healthy environment for your aquatic pets. An aquarium kit usually includes a fish tank, a filter, a heater, and sometimes even accessories such as a thermometer and a net. However, there are other things you might need to purchase separately.

The first thing you need to buy is a test kit. This will allow you to check the levels of ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and pH in your tank, which are vitally important for the health of your fish. Ensure your test kit can measure all these parameters.

The next thing is a water conditioner. Tap water may contain chlorine and other chemicals that are harmful to fish. A water conditioner neutralizes these chemicals, making the water safe for your fish. Always condition the water before adding it to your tank.

Next, you need to think about fish food. Different fish require different diets, so you must provide the correct food for the species you choose to keep. Flakes and pellets are common forms of fish food, but some fish may also require live or frozen foods.

Lastly, you must consider substrates and decorations. The substrates, such as gravel or sand, not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your tank but also provide hiding places and spawning grounds for your fish. Live plants and decorations also serve similar purposes and also aid in water filtration.

Saltwater vs. Freshwater Aquariums

After you’ve decided on the size, material, and necessities for your aquarium, you need to choose between a saltwater and a freshwater setup. This decision greatly influences the type of fish, plants, and maintenance your tank will require.

Freshwater aquariums are generally easier to maintain, making them more suitable for beginners. They have a broad range of fish species to choose from, and the fish are usually cheaper and more readily available. Freshwater tanks also have a wide selection of live plants you can add for more natural surroundings.

In contrast, saltwater aquariums, also known as marine aquariums, are more challenging to set up and maintain. They require precise water conditions, which can be difficult for a beginner to achieve. However, they offer a more diverse and vibrant selection of fish and invertebrates than freshwater tanks.

Before you make your decision, research both types of aquariums thoroughly and realistically consider the amount of time and effort you can dedicate to maintaining your tank.


Choosing the best aquarium for a beginner involves many choices. You need to choose the right tank size, decide between glass or acrylic, pick the right filter system, select the appropriate heater and lights, and choose the fish and plants that will inhabit your tank. It might seem overwhelming, but with careful research and planning, you’re on your way to creating your very own thriving aquatic world. Remember, patience is key in this process. Your aquarium will be a constant learning experience. Enjoy the process, and remember that each decision you make contributes to the creation of a unique underwater world for you and your pets to enjoy. So, start exploring different fish tanks, fetch a suitable aquarium stand, consider a planted tank and choose options that suit your preferences. Happy aquarium keeping!