When considering an aquarium, you to first need to determine how many fish you plan to have and the size of said fish. Keep in mind that the bigger the tank (and the better its condition), the more likely your fish are to grow and prosper.
Choosing a Tank Type
One or Two Small Fish
* A portable plastic aquarium is a good, inexpensive option for a single small fish, such as a goldfish.
** Also known as acrylic aquariums.
** Come in different sizes, shapes, colors.
** Small enough and simple enough for a child to maintain.
** Won't break if dropped, but scratch easily.
* A drum style bowl is another option for a single fish or a pair of fish.
** Clear glass bowls.
** Small enough that they don't really need filtration or pumps.
** Water needs to be changed frequently.
*** Oxygenated water keeps fish healthy.
Three or More Fish
* Aquarium kits, slightly larger versions of the plastic aquarium.
** Can house up to five fish.
** Come with filtration, pumps, and lighting built-in.
** $30-$50 for a 1.5-5 gallon tank.
** Often scrimp on quality supplies.
** The larger the tank, the less likely it is that you will find such kits, meaning you will need to purchase all the extras separately.
* Opt for a glass aquarium to create a long-term aquarium unit.
** Fit as many fish as you buy a tank for -- sizes are as large as your imagination.
** Needed to house saltwater fish.
** Start at around $40 for a 5 gallon tank.
** Fit more aquatic plants and live corals.
** Scratch resistant and durable.
*** BUT, heavy and will shatter if dropped.
** Provide the best viewing of the fish.
Glass or Acrylic
There isn't a clear winner in this debate. You get to pick which qualities you'd like more.
* '''Glass''' is cheaper, more scratch-resistent, thicker, heavier, more rigid, and more likely to break.
* '''Acrylic''' won't shatter, distorts light less, is lighter, can be shaped in curves, is easy to repair, will scratch, can bear less weight, need solid stands.
Choosing a Tank Size
* '''By the Gallon''': One adult fish that is one inch long will require one gallon of water, or 24 square inches of surface area.
** The area of your tank is the length times the width.
* '''By Fish Type''': Predator fish, schooling fish, and goldfish need more room than other types of fish. Saltwater fish need twice as much room as freshwater fish. If you plan on getting saltwater fish, you will want a fairly large tank, at least 40 gallons.
* '''By Location''': Think first of where you will put your tank; on a table, shelving unit, etc. if will have to be small of course. Water weighs about 10 pounds a gallon, and then you have to add in the weight of the tank as well as any supplies. You may need to purchase an additional super sturdy tank stand to support the tank.
** '''Energy''': Needs to be close to an electrical outlet so that you can plug in the filtration equipment.
** '''Water Temperature''': Avoid putting it in areas susceptible to extreme hot or cold.
*** Areas near windows, direct sunlight, external walls, or heaters are not good places to put a fish tank.
Keeping Your Tank Clean
Upkeep of your tank or aquarium is crucial, especially when you own a large glass tank with several fish. Nobody likes to look at slimy green gravel and algae covered walls -- much less your fish, whose health is on the line. Here are some tips to keep your fish's home in tip-top shape.
* '''Health''': Always give the fish a check once a day to make sure that none look sick or dead.
** Dead ones are easy to spot since they float. Remove any dead fish immediately.
** Sick fish are usually characterized by changes in character or mood. They may seem lethargic and may not eat.
*** Other signs of sickness are pale or discolored spots on the scales. Again, this can depend on the type of fish you own.
*** If possible, try to quarantine sick fish until they recover to keep the others in the tank healthy.
** Before you introduce any fish into your tank, you have to let your water go through a natural nitrogen cycle. Willas Ark will teach you how to perform this process safely and easily.
** '''Temperature''': Check the tank's water temperature regularly with a thermometer.
*** For simple fish, such as goldfish, keep it at around 20-22 degrees centigrade and 24-27 degrees centigrade for other tropical fish. Some fish require warmer temperatures than others, so always check this out before purchasing a wide variety of fish.
** '''Testing''': Routinely check the water's pH level, ammonia content, and nitrate levels by using a water testing kit. Average pH is between 6.5 and 7.5. Check with your local pet store, if you are uncertain about something.
*** An overabundant quantity of nitrates in the water may be a sign of overcrowding, overfeeding, or insufficient filtration.
** '''Cleaning''': If the water looks dingy or murky... clean the tank.
*** Use a scraper, razor blade, or scouring pad (made for fish tanks, not cleaning dishes) to clean the walls of the aquarium. Magnetic scouring pads work very well, they are easy to use, and not difficult to clean.
*** Rinse the gravel.
** '''Replacing Water''': If the water looks excessively hazy, change the water. Using a siphon you can remove the water (concentrating at sucking it up from the gravel) and then replace it with fresh water. Remember to put the fish elsewhere while doing this.
** '''Adding Water''': Once a month make sure to add water (at the right temperature of course so as not to send the fish into shock and die) to make up for any significant evaporation.
*** Always condition tap water before introducing it into the aquarium. Chlorine and other chemicals in drinking water can kill a fish. You can use water conditioners, or just leave the water out in a bucket for several days so that it can aerate.
** '''Filters''': They sometimes clog, so, if you have one, regularly check to make sure that's it working or else it could disrupt the ecological balance of the aquarium.