Beginning aquarists may feel overwhelmed by the options and choices when choosing their aquarium. Choosing an aquarium is not a decision to be made lightly. Both structural concerns and fish concerns will affect the size of aquarium you can purchase and that, in turn, affects which fish will be able to inhabit it. Here are some tips to help you purchase the right size aquarium for both your fish and your home.

1. Location Matters:

Take some time to decide where you want your aquarium. Is it going to greet you when you come in the door? Would you like it to be the focal point of your living or family room? The tank should always be in a location where it remains on your mind; a tank in a dark corner or basement may be neglected. Where do you spend most of your time? Is there a location in that room that could house an aquarium? The ideal location can support a minimum 100 pounds, is easily accessible, and is located where you can keep an eye on your fish and equipment.

2. Make Space:

Aquariums come in a variety of shapes and sizes and one of the most important things to consider, besides location, is how much space you will have for regular maintenance and equipment. Areas that you will need to access frequently should be open and easily accessible. Stands should be well ventilated to prevent mold and condensation.

3. Electrical Outlets and Water:

Your aquarium cannot exist with a nearby electrical outlet and a close supply of water. The last thing you want to do when changing your water or filling your tank is carry bucket after bucket of water through the house. Electrical outlets need to be close enough to connect to equipment without an extension cord, but far enough away that they won’t get splashed or wet during water changes or with excitable fish. Try to find a location that is near your water source, with an outlet no more than three feet away.

4. Avoid Heating/ Cooling Vents:

Does your home have central cooling or heating? Are the vents on the floor near your tank or anywhere nearby? These can cause drastic changes in the temperature of your water and should be avoided wherever possible. In addition, a tank kept near a vent during a cold winter will not only get too warm, it will lose water quickly and you will be stuck refilling your tank all winter long, something that distresses your fish.

5. Sunlight?

While some natural sunlight is good and healthy for your fish, direct sunlight can encourage algae growth as well as increase water temperatures and evaporation. Make sure that your tank is out of direct sunlight.

6. Level, Stable, and Secure:

Make sure that the location you have chosen for your tank is level and secure, able to withstand the weight of a tank at least 100 pounds in weight. Figure that every gallon of water weighs about ten pounds, so a ten gallon tank will weigh 100 pounds, but a 30 gallon tank will weigh 300 pounds and both the stand and floor it’s standing on will have to be able to support it.

7. How Much Space Do My Fish Need?

The minimum space your fish needs is dependent on a lot of factors. For example, freshwater fish need less minimum space than saltwater fish. A good standard to keep in mind is that for every one inch of fish you should have one gallon of water. This means that a 10 gallon tank can hold 5, two-inch Neon Tetras or 2 five-inch Goldfish. When choosing a tank it is ALWAYS better to air on the side of caution and purchase a larger tank rather than a smaller one.