Health Central

Buying the Perfect Aquarium for Your Fish

While fish are relatively low maintenance, choosing the best aquarium for them is as important as choosing the right house for you. Whether you dream of an aquarium comparable to the doctor’s office fish tank or just want a small tableside bowl, here are some things to consider when hunting for the best aquarium.

Big or Small?

The size of your tank depends on the kind of fish. For every inch of small community fish (i.e. betta fish), the tank should have about one gallon of water. For every inch of larger fish (i.e. goldfish, koi, etc.), the tank should have about three gallons of water. To be on the safe side, choose the larger tank because more toxins will be diluted with higher water volumes. Plan accordingly for how big your fish will be at full-growth (goldfish can reach up to 12 inches!). If you’d like your aquatic pet to eventually have a few more friends, factor this into the tank size as well. An additional goldfish, for example, needs 10 to 12 extra gallons. Betta bowls, on the other hand, are small, but allow two bettas to cohabitate—with a divider between them to keep the peace.

Glass or Acrylic?

If you're someone who moves often, consider an acrylic aquarium. It is easy to transport and less likely to crack. Acrylic is more flexible, so many uniquely structured tanks are available. While heavier, glass aquariums protect against scratches and yellowing. If you’d like to invest in an aquarium stand (rather than place the tank on a table in your house), glass is best at supporting the weight of the tank’s water, allowing you to keep it open-topped as well without worry of the bottom or sides splitting apart.

Sunlight or Shadow?

Your fish doesn’t have to be in the dark, but make sure your aquarium is placed away from direct sunlight. The warm light can change the temperature of the tank and encourage algae growth. Similarly, take note of where your heating and air conditioning vents are, because that will also alter the temperature. Placing your aquarium in a quiet place—away from the door or busy places of the house—is important to keep your fish relaxed. For your own stress level, place the tank near (but not over!) an electrical outlet, so you won’t have to fuss with extension cords when plugging in filters, heaters, lights, etc.