The Fish Guru

Choosing the Right Size Aquarium: Factors to Consider for Successfully Keeping Fish

Aquariums are a fantastic way to bring the beauty of nature into your home. But before jumping into the world of fishkeeping, there are several factors to consider when choosing the right size aquarium.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of long-term goals, room availability, time commitment, and budget when making this decision.

Long-Term Goals

One of the most important things to consider when choosing an aquarium is your long-term goal. Are you looking for a small aquarium to keep a few fish or a larger tank to create an underwater paradise?

Answering this question will help determine the size of the aquarium you need.

Room Availability

The next factor to take into account is the space available in your home. If you have a small room or limited space, then a small aquarium may be your only option.

However, for those with more room to spare, a larger aquarium can be a great focal point and even act as a room divider.

Time Commitment

Another critical factor to consider is the amount of time you’re willing to commit to maintaining your aquarium. The larger your aquarium, the more time-consuming it can be to keep it clean and healthy.

This is not to say that smaller tanks do not require upkeep, but larger aquariums can require more attention.


Lastly, it’s essential to keep the cost of the aquarium and its equipment in mind. A larger aquarium will cost more upfront, but it can provide benefits such as easier maintenance and more space for your aquatic inhabitants.

Determining your budget upfront can help you make an informed decision on what size aquarium is suitable for your home and lifestyle.

Benefits of a Bigger Tank

While a larger aquarium may come with a higher price tag, it can provide several benefits. One such benefit is that a bigger tank can make maintenance easier.

A larger body of water can maintain a more stable environment, reducing the need for frequent water changes. Additionally, a bigger tank can offer more space for your fish to swim and explore, leading to happier, healthier pets.

Big vs. Small Aquariums

Once you’ve determined the size of your new aquarium, it’s time to explore the popular fish tank styles available.

The two main categories are freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Within each category, there are two types: community and predatory.

Freshwater Community

Freshwater community tanks are perfect for beginners or anyone who wants a diverse array of fish in their aquarium. This style focuses on peaceful fish that can coexist without too many aggressive interactions.

Examples of freshwater community fish include tetras, guppies, danios, and rasboras.

Freshwater Predatory

If you’re interested in a more aggressive aquarium, then a freshwater predatory tank is a great option. This style features fish that prey on other fish, creating a dramatic and exciting environment.

Some examples of freshwater predatory fish are cichlids, plecos, and angelfish.

Saltwater Community

For those interested in saltwater aquariums, a saltwater community tank is an excellent place to start. This style features fish from a range of habitats, including coral reefs and rocky coastlines.

Examples of saltwater community fish are clownfish, tangs, wrasses, and gobies.

Saltwater Predatory

Finally, saltwater predatory tanks are the most dramatic and aggressive. These aquariums feature fish that are both beautiful and deadly, such as lionfish, triggers, and groupers.

However, these tanks require a lot of maintenance and can be expensive to set up and maintain.

Importance of Space for Fish and Equipment

When choosing an aquarium, the amount of space you have available won’t just impact the size of the tank, but also the type of fish you can keep and the equipment you’ll need. One significant benefit of a larger tank is that it provides more space for your fish to swim and interact.

Additionally, a bigger tank can house more complex filtration systems and equipment without appearing too cluttered.

Less Maintenance

Having enough space for your equipment can make maintenance much easier. Larger tanks can hold more substrate, plants, and decorations, which can help to balance your aquarium’s ecosystem.

Furthermore, larger filtration systems in a larger tank can make it easier to manage the nitrogen cycle, reducing water changes and other routine maintenance tasks.

More Species Options

The number and type of fish you can keep in an aquarium can also be impacted by the amount of space you have. A larger tank can hold more fish and can also allow for a more diverse selection of species.

For example, a smaller tank may only be able to support one or two types of fish, while a larger tank can accommodate many different species.

External Equipment Storage

Finally, when choosing an aquarium, it’s essential to consider where you’ll store your equipment. Smaller tanks may be able to fit equipment internally, which can be useful in a room with limited space.

However, if you have a larger aquarium with a more complex filtration system, you may need to store equipment externally. This can lead to more significant investments in space, such as a separate cabinet or stand.


In conclusion, choosing the right size aquarium is crucial to providing a healthy and happy environment for your fish. By considering your long-term goals, available space, time commitment, and budget, you can make an informed decision on the size and style of aquarium you need.

Additionally, by keeping in mind the benefits of a bigger tank and the importance of space for your fish and equipment, you can create an aquarium that not only looks good but is also functional and easy to maintain. When it comes to fishkeeping, water quality is paramount.

In this article’s previous sections, we discussed choosing the right size aquarium and the differences between small and large tanks. Because larger tanks offer more water volume, this can lead to better water quality.

In this section, we’ll discuss the benefits of larger aquariums for water quality and the expense differences between big and small tanks.

Benefits of Larger Aquariums for Water Quality

Larger aquariums have several advantages when it comes to maintaining water quality. With a larger volume of water, there are fewer fluctuations in nutrient levels.

This can lead to a more stable environment for your fish, which can result in healthier pets. Additionally, a larger aquarium creates more room for equipment, which can help control water conditions such as temperature and pH.

It’s easier to maintain more consistent water conditions in a larger aquarium, which can lead to more success in the long term.

Expense Differences Between Big and Small Tanks

While larger aquariums can provide better water quality and more space for your fish to thrive, they also come with a higher price tag. Initially, larger tanks may cost more to set up due to the size of the aquarium, the cost of the stand, and any additional equipment required.

However, bigger tanks can be easier to maintain in the long term, leading to fewer costs down the road. Fewer water changes and more consistent water conditions can lead to lower expenses overall.

Setting Up a Large Aquarium: Ways to Save Money

If you’ve decided to invest in a larger aquarium, there are ways to minimize the expense. In this section, we’ll discuss buying used equipment, avoiding all-in-one aquarium kits, and investing in quality equipment and food.

Buying Used Equipment

One way to save money when setting up a large aquarium is to purchase used equipment. There are several online marketplaces where you can find other fishkeepers selling their equipment, including filters, heaters, and lighting.

Purchasing used equipment can save you substantial amounts of money and still provide you with a high-quality product. However, buyers must be cautious and ensure that the equipment they purchase is in good condition before making a purchase.

Aquarium Stand

Another way to save money when setting up a large aquarium is to build or purchase a more cost-effective stand. Rather than purchasing a ready-made stand from a pet store, consider building your own or purchasing a used stand.

DIY stands can be an inexpensive option for those who have woodworking skills or know someone who can help.

Avoiding All-in-One Aquarium Kits

All-in-one aquarium kits can seem like an excellent choice for new fishkeepers. However, those looking to set up a large tank should avoid them.

Many all-in-one kits come with underpowered equipment and poor quality components. This can create problems for your fish in the long term and may lead to higher maintenance costs down the road.

Instead, consider investing in higher quality equipment, even if it means spending more upfront. This will save you time and money in the long term.

Investing in Quality Equipment and Food

Finally, investing in high-quality equipment and fish food can help reduce long-term expenses. Quality equipment will last longer and require fewer repairs or replacements.

Additionally, feeding your fish high-quality food will result in healthier and happier pets, which can lead to lower veterinary expenses in the long term. It’s essential to prioritize quality over price when investing in your aquarium to ensure the health and success of your fish.

In conclusion, larger aquariums have several benefits for water quality, but they can come with a higher price tag. However, fishkeepers can save money by purchasing used equipment, building a cost-effective stand, avoiding all-in-one kits, and investing in high-quality equipment and fish food.

By following these tips, you can create a stunning and successful large aquarium without breaking the bank. One question that frequently comes up among fishkeepers is whether the size of an aquarium affects the ultimate size of its inhabitants.

Some people believe that fish will remain small if kept in a small tank, while others argue that it’s the genetics of the fish that determine their size, not the environment. In this section, we’ll explore the myth of stunted growth and the factors that contribute to it in more detail.

The Myth of Stunted Growth

The idea that fish can be kept small by confining them to a small tank is a persistent myth. Unfortunately, there’s no scientific basis for this assertion.

Fish are not like plants that can be pruned to maintain a specific size. Instead, fish rely on their genes to determine their ultimate size.

While environmental factors like diet, water quality, and swimming space can impact their growth rate, they won’t affect the maximum size that the fish can reach.

Fish Size and Environment

While tank size does not impact the ultimate size that a fish can reach, keeping fish in an inappropriate environment can adversely affect their health and well-being. Fish that are kept in unsuitable conditions may become stressed, which can lead to stunted growth.

If a fish is stressed, its body will produce cortisol, a hormone that can inhibit growth. Cortisol production can cause the fish to divert energy away from growing and towards dealing with the stress.

Factors Contributing to Stunted Growth

Several factors can cause stress and stunted growth in fish. Inadequate swimming space is one common factor.

Fish that are kept in too small of a tank may not have enough room to swim and exercise, which can lead to muscle wasting and poor overall health. This can ultimately lead to stunted growth, as the fish’s body redirects energy away from growing and towards maintaining basic bodily functions.

Poor water quality is another factor that can lead to stunted growth. Fish that are kept in a tank with high levels of ammonia or other toxins may experience gill damage, which can obstruct their ability to take in oxygen and grow properly.

Similarly, if the water temperature is not maintained at an appropriate level, the fish may become stressed, which can hamper their growth. Boredom can also cause stress in fish, leading to slowed growth.

If a fish is deprived of stimulation and opportunities for exploration, it may become inactive and listless, which can contribute to stunted growth. Conversely, providing an enriched environment with hiding places, objects to investigate, and varied feeding options can stimulate fish and promote healthy growth.

Finally, a lack of breeding opportunities can lead to stunted growth in some species. Some fish, such as cichlids, display slower growth rates if they do not have opportunities to breed.

In the wild, breeding is a significant component of these fish’s lives, and they may need the hormonal cues provided by breeding behavior to stimulate growth.


In conclusion, the size of an aquarium does not impact the maximum size that a fish can reach, but factors like inadequate swimming space, poor water quality, boredom, and a lack of breeding opportunities can lead to stunted growth. Fishkeepers should maintain a suitable environment for their pets, allowing for plenty of swimming space, good water quality, and opportunities for enrichment.

By keeping these factors in mind, fishkeepers can help ensure their pets enjoy healthy growth and long, happy lives. In this article, we discussed various aspects of aquarium size and fishkeeping.

We explored the factors to consider when choosing the right size aquarium, the benefits of larger tanks for water quality, and ways to save money when setting up large aquariums. We also debunked the myth that aquarium size affects fish size, indicating the factors that can lead to stunted growth in fish.

By maintaining the appropriate environment for our aquatic pets, including providing enough swimming space, maintaining good water quality, and providing opportunities for enrichment, we can promote healthy growth and long, happy lives for our aquarium inhabitants. Remembering these tips can ensure a successful, thriving aquarium for years to come.

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