Selecting a Tank for Your Aquarium

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Tank Size: Consider the application. Are you setting up a marine or a freshwater aquarium? Will it be a reef tank or live-plant tank? Remember good stocking practices and plan ahead. Instead of setting up the aquarium and then selecting what animals will go into it, plan the entire aquarium around the aquatic life you want and you'll be sure of success! Consider these rules for stocking an aquarium when choosing what size of aquarium you'll need:

Freshwater: Roughly 1" of fish per gallon of water. More accurately, 1" of fish for every twelve square inches of surface area.

Saltwater: 3" of fish per square foot of surface area. If the cost of the aquarium you'll need to house the animals you want will exceed your budget, eliminate some of the animals you want! If you try to keep too many fish in an aquarium, you'll spend a lot more money replacing fish and solving problems than if you had purchased a larger tank in the first place.

Remember that the larger an aquarium is, the EASIER it is to maintain. This may sound like a contradiction until you think about it for a minute or two. It is harder to pollute a lake than a pond. The larger the volume of water, the greater the ability of the water to cleanse itself through oxidation and reduction. Take it from a company that maintains aquariums for a living. It takes us just as long to clean an over-stocked thirty gallon aquarium as it does to clean a properly-stocked 100 gallon aquarium.

Tank Shape: The surface area of the aquarium is the most important factor in determining how many fish may be kept in an aquarium. The surface area should be as large as possible. If you are considering an unusual-shape for an aquarium, remember that it is safer to use surface area as a measure of how many fish may be kept. Here's an example:

Two Aquariums:
One is 24" Long x 24" Wide x 72" High.
The other is 72" Long x 24" Wide x 24" High.
Both tanks hold roughly 180 gallons, but the taller tank will only be able to support half as many fish. Why? Reduced surface area restricts the exchange of gases in the water including oxygen absorption and the release of carbon dioxide.

Standard rectangular aquariums may not be as exciting as some of the unusual aquariums that are available, but they offer more surface area and more aquarium for the dollar.

Tank Height:
The height of the aquarium is an important issue to consider if you are planning on having an invertebrate reef tank. Powerful lighting systems are required to support sessile invertebrate life (corals, anemones, etc.) at all levels of a reef tank. The deeper the aquarium, the more light that will be required.

Tank height is also important from the standpoint of maintaining the aquarium. Remember that the average human arm is only about 32 inches long. Aquariums taller than 36 inches will be difficult to maintain. If you use an aquarium maintenance company to clean your aquarium, they will certainly charge more to clean taller aquariums.

The clearance above the aquarium should be at least 75% of the height of the tank to allow for easy removal of decorations for cleaning. If there is not enough room above the tank, it will be very difficult to clean aquarium decorations.

Aquariumfishcity has a variety of helpful resources for all of your aquarium needs.