Introduction

Are you considering getting an aquarium for your home or office? One of the most critical decisions you'll need to make is determining the appropriate size for your fish tank. The size of the aquarium plays a significant role in the health and well-being of your aquatic pets. In this blog post, we'll provide you with a quick guide on how to pick the perfect size aquarium fish tank for your needs.

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Fitting the Space

While we don't think the literal space that the aquarium occupies needs much explanation, there is definitely a way to make your aquarium feel more apart of your home rather than an obstacle in it. Before diving in to the underwater world of aquarium keeping you will want to assess how best to meld this aquatic world with your terrestrial one. Is it a centerpiece of a space? Does create a natural window between two rooms? Will it accent an existing countertop? Do you want it to blend in with the room or stand out? Deciding how you want this aquarium to fit in your particular space can turn this from just an aquarium, to a seamless piece of your home. 

Freshwater planted discus aquarium with nice wooden stand in a rustic roomFig 1. A medium sized freshwater planted aquarium adorned with a wooden aquarium stand blends in with the more rustic ambiance providing some contrasting bright green vegetation and brightly colored fish to create a eye-catching accent of bright natural warmth.

 Saltwater penninsula aquarium in a modern kitchenFig 2. A large saltwater reef aquarium opens up the sleek modern aesthetic of a kitchen. Warm colored coral and fish provide a eye-catching contrast of movement and color with the neutral colors and cool white lighting.

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Livestock

Different fish and invertebrate species have varying needs when it comes to tank size. Conduct thorough research on the specific livestock you intend to keep. Find out their adult size, swimming habits, and recommended tank volumes. Some fish, like tangs, are larger and more open water swimmers and require enough space to cruise throughout the aquarium. Whereas sexy shrimp can be kept in groups of 6-10 in less than a 5 gallon aquarium. 

Sexy Shrimp on a coralFig 3. Sexy shrimp resting in a euphyllia coral. Sexy shrimp are incredibly tiny hovering around 0.5 - 1" in size. Their 'dancing' movements with their abdomen makes them incredibly relaxing and are easy to keep in small aquariums that are only a few gallons.

 

Yellow tang and powder blue tang swimming in a coral reef aquraiumFig 4. Yellow tang (left) and Powder Blue tang (right) swimming in the open water of a saltwater aquarium. Some of the most iconic saltwater aquarium fish and incredibly diverse in size, color, and personality. These tangs can be used in aquarium systems as small as 40 gallons as juveniles to as large as 180 gallons for larger species such as Achilles and Naso tangs. 
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Stability

Maintaining a healthy aquatic environment is essential for the well-being of your fish. A larger aquarium typically provides more water volume, which dilutes toxins, and provides a stable environment. This increases the likelihood of catching a potential issue before it becomes a problem, or slows it down enough to negate the issue entirely. A great example of this would be an unnoticed fish death in the aquarium. The body may never even be found as bacteria, fish, and small invertebrates such as bristle worms, spaghetti worms, hermit crabs, nassarius snails, and copepods break down the decomposing fish with little to no impact on aquarium stability.

 Large Saltwater Stony Coral Reef Aquarium with Metal Halide LightsFig 5. A large SPS-dominant reef aquarium provides ample room for coral colonies to branch out and the extra water volume gives extra stability to the water parameters for more sensitive corals.
Small saltwater reef aquarium with a garden of Acan LPS coralsFig 6. A small nano aquarium packed tightly with a garden of acans. Water parameters can swing more quickly and requires more frequent monitoring for sensitive corals. 
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Compatibility

When selecting an aquarium size, it's important to plan for future growth and potential additions to your fish community. Leaving room for growth ensures that your fish can thrive without feeling cramped. Additionally, consider the compatibility of different species. Some fish prefer more open spaces such as tangs, anthias, angelfish, and butterfly fish. Others maintain a localized territory in which they guard such as jawfish, hawkfish, and clownfish. Between these 2 generalizations there is also the nuance of individual fish personalities and overall aggressive, semi-aggressive, and peaceful dispositions. Larger aquariums will provide more room for each inhabitant to find its niche and allows for ample places for fish to retreat during any potential conflict.

 

School of neon tetras swimming in a freshwater planted aquarium with java fernFig 7. Neon tetras are peaceful freshwater schooling fish that do well when kept in large groups which helps keep them at ease. This allows them to be less skittish and more likely to be visible in the aquarium.

 

Red Headed Jawfish opening its mouth while poking out of its burrow in the sandFig 8. A Red Headed Jawfish, while not particularly aggressive, can be territorial around its burrow towards conspecifics (fish of the same species, or of a similar appearance). Ample space and places for burrows will enable multiple jawfish to be kept in the same aquarium. Otherwise housed individually they should still make ideal reef aquarium community fish. 

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Budget

While almost every section we have gone over so far makes larger aquariums seem like the way to go, there are definitely some notable drawbacks. The most obvious is that larger systems are more expensive. This expense gets compounded even more when accommodating for a complete aquatic ecosystem with freshwater plants, or saltwater corals and macro algae due to the greater need for quality lighting which jumps in price for every 2 feet of length. This cost also gets doubled if the tank exceeds 24" in width as well causing overall setup cost to go up exponentially. Consider your budget and strike a balance between tank size, equipment quality, and ongoing maintenance expenses. Remember that investing in the right size tank from the start can save you money in the long run by preventing the need for frequent upgrades.

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Conclusion

Selecting the appropriate size for your aquarium may seem like a pretty arbitrary decision. However aquariums thrive off of stability, and taking the time to think through every factor related to your aquatic ecosystem prior to taking the jump will be crucial in its long term success. Although this is just the beginning of a long road of researching, planning, and building of a freshwater or saltwater aquarium where being mindful of each choice you make will save you money, time, and stress. 

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Need Help?

If you have a busy life it can be difficult to think through all of these factors and decision making. Minnesota Aquatic System Solutions is there to help you through all these crucial decisions as-needed, or throughout the entire process. Get a quick and easy free estimate, so that you can leave the long the difficult decisions to us!

 

 

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