The two largest items that you will buy for your aquarium system are the tank and the stand. Many different styles, shapes, and sizes of aquariums are available on today’s market.
The quality of the construction of these modern acrylic and glass tanks is much better than that of the old steelframed aquariums that were around when the hobby began.
Even if you have a very small space to work with, you will be able to find an aquarium that fits perfectly.
Aquarium stands have also come a long way over the years. The old, ugly, heavy iron stands have now been replaced with beautiful cabinets and fancier wrought-iron varieties. Now aquarium keeping is truly an art form in itself.
With all the variety and colors of stands to choose from, you will beable to find one to match your décor.
- Choosing the right tank
- Setting up the stand
- Moving the tank
Before You Buy a Tank
The first step in setting up your new aquarium system is purchasing a tank. But before you go out and actually buy one, take the time to look at a few of the variables that may affect your purchase.
Your aquarium has to fit into your individual situation. You have to match your tank to its surrounding environment and to any of your special space needs.
Stop for a moment and think about the purpose of your tank. Are you setting it up in a common area so that everyone in your family can enjoy it?
Or do you want to have it in the privacy of your own office or bedroom?
A freshwater community tank (one with several species in it) may be more suited to family viewing than a species tank (one devoted to one species) would be.
Different types of aquariums are covered later on in this article.
Take a measurement of the intended space so you don’t end up with an aquarium blocking the refrigerator or being used as a doorstop.
Add 6 to 8 inches on to the back measurement so that you have plenty of room for aquarium equipment such as filters, heaters,and pumps.
It’s important to add at least a foot on to the sides of larger aquariums as well so that you will have room to move around the tank for cleaning.
A Good Thing to Know About Water
To determine the weight of a proposed aquarium, multiply the total number of gallons by 10 pounds.
That’s right, a 100-gallon aquarium weighs around half a ton. Take weight into consideration when choosing your aquarium setup.
This method provides a good, rough estimate of the total weight of an aquarium with the tank, water, rocks, equipment, and decorations all figured in.
Here are a few common aquariums and the weight you will need to take into consideration on average:
- 10-gallon tank, 100 pounds
- 20-gallon tank, 200 pounds
- 55-gallon tank, 550 pounds
- 100-gallon tank, 1,000 pounds
- 125-gallon tank, 1,250 pounds
Before you go shopping, check to see how much money you have available.
You should take into consideration that even though your aquarium is probably the largest piece of fishkeeping equipment you’ll ever own, the cost of all the other hardware — filters, pumps, gravel, chemicals, and heaters — adds up quickly. A larger tank is not only more expensive to start with, it requires more equipment.
You don’t want to buy a 125-gallon aquarium if that leaves you five bucks to spend on equipment. It’s better to buy a small tank and have more than enoughmoney left over for substrate, plants, equipment, and other essentials.
One easy option is to purchase a starter kit. A starter kit is a system-in-a-box that usually contains the following:
- Fish net
- Water conditioner
A good one that is complete and I recommend is Tetra 20 Gallon Complete Aquarium Kit w/Filter Heater LED & Plants
Not every kit contains exactly the same things, so read the label carefully. If you purchased the kit in the previous list, all you would need to buy afterward is gravel and a few plants to get the tank up and running, plus a stand.
Many starter kits don’t have gravel, decorations, plants, or stands, so they’re not really complete.
Finding free space
Okay, you finally decided where you want to put your aquarium, but now you want to know what size tank won’t require a two-foot shoehorn.
If your home is small, you’ll want an aquarium that you can enjoy without cramping your living space. If you find yourself sleeping on the sofa the following week, you probably miscalculated your free bedroom space.
To avoid space hassles and a significant other’s fury, use the table below to gauge minimum space requirements (length by width by height) for various sizes of several standard aquarium tanks.
These are minimum requirements (in inches)— the space that extra equipment takes up and the room needed to clean around the aquarium is not figured in.
- Regular: 20 x 10 x 12
- Long: 24 x 8 x 12
- Hex: 14 x 12 x 18
- Regular: 24 x 12 x 12
- Long: 20 x 10 x 18
- Show: 24 x 8 x 16
- High: 24 x 12 x 16
- Long: 30 x 12 x 12
- Hex: 18 x 16 x 20
- Regular: 24 x 12 x 20
- Regular: 30 x 12 x 18
- Regular: 36 x 12 x 16
- Breeding: 36 x 18 x 12
- Long: 48 x 13 x 16
- Breeding: 36 x 18 x 16
- Regular: 36 x 12 x 24
- Hex: 22 x 22 x 24
- Regular: 36 x 18 x 18
- Regular: 48 x 13 x 20
- Regular: 48 x 18 x 20
- Regular: 72 x 18 x 18
Taking people into consideration
The people living with you are another important part of your tank placement decisions. Face it, your aquarium is going to make some noise, even if it isoutfitted with the most up-to-date equipment on the market. It will probably do a little bit of bubbling, rattling, and/or humming once in a while.
Types of Aquariums
The high-quality aquarium products now offered by manufacturers is quite mind-boggling compared to the old glass aquariums of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
The original metal frame tanks were very heavy and not very pleasing to the eye.
Fortunately, nonmetallic materials were developed that replaced heavy-metal frames and inadequate seam adhesives. This breakthrough in aquarium construction was a direct result of complaints filed by fishkeeping enthusiasts who demanded better products — ones that could be used for all types of systems
The all-glass aquariums on today’s market are the most popular of all available tanks.
These tanks are constructed of plate glass and sealed with a nontoxic silicone. The glass in these aquariums is either tempered, meaning it’s stronger, lighter in weight, and shatters into pieces when it breaks, or plate, meaning it’s heavier and thicker but only cracks when it breaks.
The frames on glass tanks are usually plastic, come in a wide variety of colors, and are glued onto the rim. Glass tanks do not scratch easily and provide a good viewing area because all the walls are flat.
Some plate glass tanks can be purchased pre-drilled, which means that they have holes drilled in them for equipment and hoses, allowing you to hide hoses and equipment inside a normal cabinet without having to route everything on the outside of the tank.
However, pre-drilled tanks can be quite expensive and are intended more for experienced hobbyists. Having drilled holes is not necessary for any aquarium setup. One disadvantage of glass aquariums is that they can be formed into a limited number of shapes — basically, rectangles or squares.If you really want a tank with an unusual shape, you won’t find much to please you in the glass department.
Glass aquariums are also heavy because the glass used in construction gets thicker as the tank gets larger. This can be a real problem if you want a big tank and have weak floors in your home, or if you attempt to move the aquarium.
If you want to buy a larger tank, play it safe and have a contractor look at the floor where you want to place the tank to see if it can hold the weight.
Acrylic tanks have made a big splash in the aquarium marketplace in the last few years.
These lightweight tanks are available in an amazing number ofshapes and sizes such as bubble, half spheres, L-shaped, tubular, triangular, and convex. With acrylic, the shape possibilities end only with the designer’creativity.
- Lighter than glass: Acrylic tanks are easier to move and produce fewer hernias. If your aquarium is upstairs, acrylic may give you the option of having a larger tank.
- More stylish: Many acrylic tanks come with colored backgrounds, which can be quite stunning with the proper tank decoration. The modern look of acrylic tanks you cannot find in a standard glass aquarium. You also get more choices in colors and styles to match the interior of your home or office.
- Cool shapes: Acrylic can be shaped into cool bubbles, tube shapes, and other unusual but good-looking aquariums.
- Distortion: Acrylic tanks have small amounts of visual distortion because of the way the material is bent during construction.
- More expensive: Acrylic aquariums are a lot more expensive, if you get into custom styles, than their glass counterparts. These babies can cost some serious bucks, but they are well worth the investment.
- Scratching: Acrylic aquariums are quite easily scratched. Be careful when cleaning with rough algae pads, for example, to avoid leaving scratches or smears. Moving gravel around can also damage the surface, and pay close attention when you are moving or adding decorations to the aquarium.
How to Choose the Best Aquarium Tank
There are many issues you need to address when you’re preparing to actually buy your aquarium. Size, water volume, and shape have a lot to do with the type of aquatic creatures you can actually put in it. As you have already read, there are many different tank sizes and styles to choose from.
If you plan on setting up a freshwater system, you should buy at least a 10-gallon tank to make sure your new fish have an adequate area to provide stable water conditions.
A smaller tank is harder to work with, can turn your fish into instant sardines, and will bring you disappointment and heartache. Smaller aquariums are more prone to foul water conditions, which can damage your fish’s health.
A small tank also does not leave much room for adding decorations or extra fish.Always buy the largest tank that your budget and space limitations allow, because increased surface area means better biological stability. A large surface area provides good oxygen absorption and carbon dioxide exchange.
Although it is cool to have an oddly shaped aquarium, be aware that a few drawbacks go along with these tanks.
The shape of an aquarium helps determine the amount of oxygen its water contains.Vital gas exchange (carbon dioxide for oxygen) occurs at the water surface. A tower aquarium, with a small water-surface area, has less gas exchange going on than a shorter tank with a longer, and thus larger, surface area.
If the tank is really tall and narrow it can be hard to clean or decorate it without scuba gear
The carrying capacity means the total number of fish you can keep in your aquarium safely without their going belly up. If you choose to buy a tank that is very tall and narrow, you can’t keep as many fish in it as you can in a tank with a larger surface area. If you get a fancy tank that has a small surface area, don’t count on having a whole bunch of fish.
How to Choose the Best Aquarium Stand
Choosing a good aquarium stand can be just as important as picking the right aquarium.
A stand needs to be sturdy and strong and look cool at the sametime. A heavy tank can warp the wood on your regular household furniture, too. It is always best to use a manufacturedaquarium stand built to support a tank’s weight and designed to be perfectly level.
Make sure your aquarium fits its stand correctly. If the edge of the tank hangs over the stand, the stand is too small and eventually can cause the aquarium to warp or break.
Wooden cabinet stands
Stands that include a built-in wooden cabinet are enclosed on the bottom so that you can hide equipment and hoses that generally spoil the overall look of your aquarium system.
Chemicals, test kits, nets, and other paraphernalia can be stored behind closed doorsThe wooden cabinet stands are the best stands that you can buy because they look good, will not tip over easily, and often contain shelves for storing items.
Angle and wrought iron stands
Iron stands are made of either angle iron or wrought iron. Angle iron stands are welded together and have a bulky look to them. They would look great in a medieval castle.
Angle iron stands can also leave nasty marks on your floor (if water gets on the metal and then sits stagnant on the floor under the stand) or carpet
Material based stands are made of any man-made material that is not metal or hardwood. Examples include fiberboard and acrylic stands.
Mixed media stands are for those people who want to combine an aquarium system with storage shelving. These stands usually have an area for the tank and extra shelves for displaying your CD player, books, and so forth.
A bow-front stand has a semi-circular shape in the front to properly support bow-front shaped tanks (tanks that are convex in the front). We love the shape of these stands, but it all comes down to personal choice.
How to Place the Aquarium Stand Correctly
As we mentioned, the first step in setting up your aquarium system is finding a permanent place to put it. Set the stand in an area away from drafts and direct sunlight to keep the water in your tank from overheating or chilling.
Don’t put your tank in a garage or basement unless the room is insulated or heated. Placement near doors, windows, and other drafty areas where the temperature can change unexpectedly is a no-no.
Make sure the stand is on a solid surface.
Check the floor carefully so that your new aquarium doesn’t end up decorating the downstairs neighbor’s apartment. Remember that a 100-gallon tank weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 pounds fully loaded! Do not place the stand directly against a wall.
You need room back there for hanging equipment.When determining where you want to place your aquarium, keep in mind that your system requires a few electrical outlets in order to run.
Use an electrical outlet that is not connected to a wall switch. You don’t want anyone to hit the switch and unknowingly shut off your aquarium equipment.
How to Move an Aquarium
Never try to move an aquarium all by yourself, no matter how small it is.
Any aquarium should always be lifted by a minimum of two people. You can cause yourself physical injury, and damage the silicone and frame of the tank if you attempt to haul your tank around by yourself.
When you’re ready to move your tank, make sure to unplug all equipment and then remove it from the aquarium. Don’t remove the heater until 15 minutes have passed to avoid shattering it.
Fill a plastic bucket with water from the aquarium and place the fish in the bucket.
Drain the rest of the water. Before you lift the aquarium, remove any large rocks or other heavy decorations, which can shift positions and break the glass.