How to Choose Fish Aquarium to Buy

There are two basic categories of Aquariums that you need to consider: saltwater aquariums and freshwater aquariums (also sometimes called coldwater aquarium fish tanks). These two choices will determine the type of equipment you need, the kind of fish species you can keep, and even how much effort you, as the fish owner, have to put into maintaining your aquarium.

In general, freshwater aquariums require much less work, but the freshwater aquatic life tends to be less exotic and beautiful than saltwater marine life. Saltwater aquariums can host delicate saltwater ecosystems equipped with lovely tropical fish and live mini coral reefs. However, the slightest misstep on the owners part can quickly kill your precious marine fish species.

How to Select Aquarium

Saltwater and Freshwater Aquariums

There are two kinds of saltwater marine aquariums you can choose from: Fish Aquariums and Invertebrate/Coral Aquariums. You cannot combine the two types into one because tropical marine fish will enjoy your invertebrates and coral as a delicious lunch. Keeping a coral aquarium is also much harder work than a fish aquarium because it takes a bit of skill to make sure the coral stays alive. Since it saltwater aquariums are quite expensive, it’s best to start off slow by starting with a marine fish aquarium, then have a coral aquarium as your second salt water aquarium. Coral reef tanks require a fine-tuned knowledge.

If you are a beginner, you should go with a freshwater aquarium as your first aquarium — unless you are prepared to do a lot of research first and get a professional to help set up your first saltwater tank. Freshwater tanks are easier to maintain and don’t have all the extra hassles that come with a saltwater setup (salinity, temperature woes, additional costs, more expensive fish, etc.).

Aquarium Size

Now, as a rule of thumb, the bigger the aquarium, the better for the owner. Larger aquariums require a LOT less work because small changes in the ecosystem (PH Balance, salinity, the number of fish, etc.) won’t be fatal ones. The smaller the tank, the more crucial these changes will be to the health of your fish. It’s also important to note that marine life can grow quite large and you want enough space to accommodate this. You want to ensure there are no territorial issues between fish.

You need to choose the size of your aquarium carefully. Saltwater fish need larger tanks because they are more active than freshwater fish. However, you need to make sure you find the right aquarium size for both your home space and your lifestyle. If you move houses a lot, you don’t want a large aquarium — it will be an enormous effort to move your aquarium and fish. If you do move a lot, you may want a 20-35 gallon tank — anything larger and is prepared for some serious moving work. You can find a 35-gallon tank in most apartments and houses with no problem — larger tanks may be difficult to fit in your space. Large aquarium tanks (90+ gallons) have that jaw-dropping “wow” effect, however. These aquariums are best for offices or as the centrepiece for houses.

If you are opting for a large aquarium such as 110 gallons one, you may need to contact a professional engineer to make sure your floor can support such a heavy tank. To put the thing in perspective of just how heavy aquariums can be, aquarium water weighs approximately 3.78 pounds per US gallon. Large aquariums can way hundreds and even thousands of pounds — empty! A 90-gallon tank full of water may weigh upwards of a 1000 lbs. So ensuring the aquarium is placed on a manufactured aquarium stand is critical. Indeed, manufacturer warranties will not cover defects unless you use a proper aquarium stand.


Besides the size of a fish tank, there are many aquarium shapes to choose from. By far, an ideal aquarium shape is that of a low rectangle. Make sure you try to allow as much space as possible. While it may *sound* appealing to have a deep aquarium — the fish won’t like it/ Such a shape forces the fish to swim to the side and not up and down. There is also a lot more work to maintain a deep aquarium (over 30 inches tall).

Aquariums also come in a variety of shapes and designs such as wall mounted fish tanks, column fish tanks, and even coffee table aquariums.

One of the most popular models is the column aquarium. The design is aesthetically pleasing, matching the elegant decor in most modern apartments and homes. The vertical design also allows significant savings in space. You can get column aquariums in different shapes, sizes, and capacity.


The temperature of the water maintained in the aquarium is the basis for the classification of aquariums into two types – cold-water aquariums and tropical aquariums. The aquarium temperature should be kept correctly since most species of fish and plants can tolerate only a particular range of temperatures. The commonly maintained temperature in the tropical aquariums is about 25*C (77 *F).

The choice of a freshwater or saltwater aquarium will affect how much effort you put into maintaining the appropriate temperature. Freshwater aquariums will often contain species of fish that naturally prefer colder water, such as goldfish, koi, and some species of tetra fish. These cold water aquariums are easier for beginners because they require much less work, are cheaper to maintain (no aquarium heater unit) and are less sensitive to fluctuations in pH and water temperature.

Choose Fish Species

If you opt to go with a saltwater aquarium, you will likely be purchasing expensive tropical fish or marine life for the aquarium. For betta fish choose a medium to a bigger aquarium. In general, the maintaining of marine (saltwater) aquariums is difficult because the initial setup requires equipment much more complex than that of freshwater fish tank aquariums. You also have to worry about maintaining the correct salinity (which can be expensive). However, you are not limited to having just tropical fish — you can also have marine invertebrates such as coral reefs. Saltwater fish also tend to look more exotic and have that “wow” factor.

Cold Water Aquarium Guide

  • Space to put the fish tank
  • The type of aquarium stand
  • Type of aquarium fish

These three things will influence your overall budget. The total cost of your aquarium setup will vary greatly depending upon these three factors. After you make up your mind, the other options are almost endless; you can choose the shape of the fish tank, ranging from the classic rectangular shape to the popular coffee table fish tanks, to custom shape fish tanks built right into your wall.

Cold water fish tanks are one type of fish tank quite popular with many people. The advantages are obvious: lower costs to your electricity bill since you don’t need an expensive aquarium heater. However, depending on where you live, you may need to invest in an aquarium chiller to maintain the optimum water temperature for your fish.

The most common types of freshwater fish for cold water tanks are koi, goldfish, and tetra fish species.

Also, note that cold water aquariums are often synonymous with freshwater aquariums; saltwater aquariums *usually* require warmer temperatures since they host tropical marine life which requires warm temperatures. For beginners, cold water aquariums are best because they are easy to maintain and are cheaper than hot water aquariums.

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