The Fish Guru

From Budget to Placement: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Perfect Aquarium

Aquariums are a fascinating addition to any home, yet it can be a daunting task to choose the perfect one. It can be a difficult decision with plenty of factors to consider, including budget, size, and the types of tanks available, and choosing the wrong one can lead to costly mistakes and long-term stress.

In this article, we’ll guide you through some of the top things to consider when selecting an aquarium, including choosing the right size that works for your space, deciding between glass and acrylic, and staying within your budget.

1) Tank Selection

When selecting a tank, consider a few critical factors to help determine which type of tank works best for you.


First and foremost, establish how much you’re willing to spend on a fish tank. Saltwater tanks can be fairly expensive, yet with careful decision-making, choosing the right tank can also be affordable.

For a budget-conscious tank, choose a standard glass set-up rather than a custom tank. Keep in mind that maintaining a fish tank can be expensive long term, with monthly bills for electricity and filter maintenance, in addition to food and other supplies.

Determining Tank Size

The size of your tank is crucial for keeping your fish healthy. Stability is essential for maintaining the correct amount of overall waste, and a proper house for your fish.

Firstly, consider the amount of space you have for your tank. Room to swim, of 12 to 15 inches for smaller fish, will require a larger tank than only a few inches.

Then, consider the aquascape you’d like in the tank. A longer or taller tank will offer more surface area for your desired aquascape.

Lastly, ensure the tank size visibility is reasonable from where you choose for it to be visible in your space.


Pick a space that works best for your tank, considering the following concerns: Direct sunlight can lead to high temperatures, leading to algae overgrowth and other unwanted problems. A first floor or basement can be helpful, as it is least affected by natural light.

Ensure that there is an outlet available for your tank. Consider the proximity of vents; if they’re blowing directly onto the tank, it could cause the water storage temperature to fluctuate.

Always consider nuances in the flooring and speaking with a structural contractor to be sure it is strong enough to hold your tank. Additionally, tank leveling is essential an unleveled tank could lead to leaks, cracks, and other issues.

Types of Tanks

There are various forms of tanks available, each with its unique benefits. Standard tanks are the most cost-effective and convenient, as they come with an included light fixture.

A reef-ready tank would work best if you’re interested in cultivating a reef tank. It offers a high-quality filtration system and a way to subtly concealing unsightly devices.

If you want an aquarium that needs minimal installation and maintenance, consider an all-in-one tank. This type of tank comes with an inclusive lighting, filtration, and heating system, making it the most convenient set-up.

Lastly, a custom tank is excellent for those with special needs, and it’s essential to speak with a tank installer before taking this route. Glass vs.


There is much debate about which materials make for a better tank, but in general, it’s a matter of personal preference and budget. Acrylic tanks are lighter and more robust than glass, making them easier to transport and install.

They’re less likely to break or crack and usually have better clarity. However, they can scratch easily, and they’re more expensive than glass.

Glass tanks, on the other hand, offer better support, though they can be heavier than acrylic. They’re also less expensive and more resistant to scratching, but run a greater risk of breaking or cracking.



If you’re looking to cut costs, there are several routes you can take.

Cost Estimates

Assuming you want a saltwater tank, significant upfront investments include the tank itself, lighting, filtration, and heating. According to a recent total estimate, a 75-gallon saltwater tank set-up costs around $1,500 in the United States.

Cutting Costs

DIY and used equipment can help cut down the initial cost of setting up an aquarium. DIY techniques like building a sump, rock structure, and LED light can offer significant savings.

Explore online classifieds to find pre-owned equipment that works for your budget.


Choosing the perfect aquarium can be a daunting task, but with a careful consideration of your space, needs, budget, and equipment, you can make an informed decision. Ensure you start small, choosing a tank that offers some room for growth, and choose equipment that fits within your budget.

Properly caring for a fish tank offers a fulfilling experience and provides an excellent way to observe vibrant and unique underwater species. 3)

Determining Tank Size

Selecting the right tank size is essential to maintain the proper health and happiness of fish.

Here are some rules to keep in mind:

Rules to Keep in Mind

Tank size is typically measured in gallons. Yet, it is crucial to consider the factors that affect the tank’s stability, including the length, room for the fish to swim, aquascape, and height.

Ensure you choose a size that allows for the reduction of waste and promotes a healthy environment. For smaller fish, 12-15 inches of room to swim is appropriate.

Ensure that the tank size is suitable for the aquascape you want to achieve. A longer tank will offer more surface area for your desired aquascape.

Lastly, the larger the tank volume, the more stable your ecosystem. It’s easier to maintain, and the risk of a disaster happening due to swing levels is decreased.

Recommended Tank Lengths

As a general rule of thumb, experts recommend a tank that is at least three feet long for a small-school of fish or one large fish. For a mid-size school of fish, a four-foot tank is recommended, and for a large school of fish, at least a six-foot tank is necessary.

Get a larger tank whenever there’s an opportunity to do so, as this can be especially vital in larger fish growth and welfare.

Tank Height Considerations

It’s crucial to consider a tank’s height before buying one. Ensure that fish can swim up and down in the water column with ease, as tides play a significant role in many fish’s natural habitat.

In other words, select a size relative to the species of fish you plan to keep. Higher tanks can be challenging to maintain due to the light source placement, filter, and its size.

Cleaning around them can be back-breaking and tedious and is best suited for those with extensive experience. 4)


Determining the correct place to set-up your tank is just as important as selecting the right size.

Keep the following rules in mind:

Rules to Follow

Direct sunlight is one of the most significant problems with a tank. It raises the temperatures and can lead to algae overgrowth.

Keep aquariums out of direct sunlight. A basement or first floor is ideal if you’re setting up an aquarium in your home.

Ensure that there are outlets available for filters, lighting, and pumps. Also, keep in mind the proximity of vents and adjust accordingly.

Lastly, hire a structural contractor to ensure your home and tank remain safely leveled and structurally sound.

Flooring Considerations

When planning to set up your tank, consider the kind of flooring you have. A tank that weighs a few hundred pounds will put pressure on the foundation below.

If the floor isn’t sturdy or made in a specific manner, it could lead to serious problems in the future. Here’s a quick guide to different types of floors:

Tile is one of the best kinds of floors for an aquarium.

It offers enough strength to support the tank’s weight, alleviates the stresses of any excess moisture, and makes cleaning accidental spills more manageable. Carpet is not well-suited for an aquarium as it is not durable enough to handle the occasional spills and soggy soil.

Laminate flooring can scratch easily, especially if there are any stones or other sharp items around the tank, leading to moisture penetration. Hardwood floors, if selected, require robust supports since the water/moisture can cause wooden floorboards to warp, leading to gaps and creaking noises in the long-term.

Tank Setups in Different Locations

The location also plays a significant role in tank set-up. Here are some essential tips to remember:

For those seeking to set up a fish tank with a significant capacity, steel stands and concrete foundations are available to distribute the tank’s weight.

If you happen to live on an upper floor, a ground-level foundation with adequate support is necessary to carry the weight of both the fish tank and the water. Unleveled floors can cause more significant problems, leading to more significant leaks, cracks, and other issues.

It is essential to have a leveled floor before setting up the tank. Lastly, consider installing a tank near an electrical outlet.

The filter, heater, and lighting will plug into these outlets and bear risk if no properly secured.


A fish tank is the centerpiece of any home. It is vital to select the right size tank, ensure proper placement, and have a strong foundation in place.

It requires careful consideration and planning to prevent issues such as aquarium leaks and overflowing tanks. Remember that the goal is to offer your fish an environment close to what their natural habitat would be, which ultimately leads to a healthy and happy pet.

By selecting the right tank and carefully implementing it, you can have a beautiful and thriving ecosystem that everyone will enjoy. 5)

Types of Tanks

There are multiple types of tanks available, each with its features.

This section will provide in-depth information on each type of tank.

Standard Aquariums

Standard aquariums are mass-produced and readily available in any pet store. They can be customized to meet the needs of an individual, such as changing the lid, implementing a different lighting system, or adding an external filter.

They are affordable and offer a good starting point for beginners due to their low cost.

Reef Ready Aquariums

Reef Ready aquariums have at least one pre-drilled hole, typically on the sides, for plumbing and filtration requirements through an overflow system. Airs are removed from the top of the tank where freshwater is then transported down to the sump within the tank cabinet.

Reef-ready aquariums are targeting people with a bit of skill in plumbing, with the investment being more expensive than standard aquarium setups. Still, the reward is a high-quality filtration system and subtle hiding of devices like the heaters and protein skimmers.

All-In-One Aquariums

All-In-One aquariums are an excellent option for those looking for a complete setup. They come equipped with everything necessary to support a small ecosystem, including LED lights, a filtration system, and an in-built heater.

These tanks offer a sleek and modern design, making them a great aesthetic addition to your living space.

Custom Built Aquariums

Custom-built aquariums are unique and designed based on the homeowner’s preferences. They tend to be more expensive, with prices ranging from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

The intricate setting in all aspects- the size, shape, filtration, and cabinet will be constructed depending on your specific demands. The final result is a magnificent showpiece that can last decades if planned and maintained correctly.

Glass vs. Acrylic

When it comes to choosing between glass or acrylic for your aquarium, several factors need to be considered:

Weight – Acrylic is lighter in weight than glass, making it easier to transport, install and move when necessary.

Breaking and Cracking – Acrylic is less likely to crack or break, while glass is a riskier option that can easily shatter or break. Support – Glass is better supported, and thicker sheets of glass than acrylic are unlikely to bend.

Clarity – Acrylic offers better clarity than glass. Scratching – Acrylic is more prone to scratches than glass, though the scratches can be easily remedied with simple household items.

Cost – Acrylic tends to be more expensive than glass. Choosing between glass and acrylic ultimately depends on personal preference, budget, and intended use.

Ensure that you make the decision that works best for your needs.


Selecting the best type of tank will depend on your specific requirements in terms of size, filtration, and budget. A standard tank or an all-in-one aquarium is excellent for beginners, while experienced aquarium enthusiasts may opt for a custom-built tank.

Always keep in mind the advantages and disadvantages of each material and factor its strength support and the amount of weight it can hold up. By researching the pros and cons of each type of tank and built, you’ll ensure that you select the perfect tank for your needs and create a comfortable and welcoming home for your aquatic pets.

In conclusion, selecting the right aquarium is a significant decision that requires careful consideration and research. Critical factors to consider when selecting a tank include budget, size, placement, tank type, and tank materials.

The right tank size is essential for maintaining the proper health of the fish.

Placement of the tank is equally crucial, taking into account direct sunlight, floor structure, and electric outlets.

A variety of tank types is available, ranging from standard tanks to custom-built aquariums, each with its pros and cons. Finally, consider the type of material, glass, or acrylic.

It is essential to ensure you choose the right aquarium based on your preference, budget, and level of expertise to guarantee the success of the ecosystem.

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