What size aquarium should I choose?

The next step after finding a perfect spot for the aquarium is to choose the tank itself, its shape and size. Often the size of the first aquarium is determined by the space we have available in our apartment or house.

Why do you want an aquarium?

The answer to this question is important because it will definitely make the decision easier. An aquarium can have a decorative character and then it is important whether you place it in a representative place of your living room or on your desk. But maybe you are interested in one fish species only and you want to dedicate the aquarium exclusively to them? Then you need to adjust the size to their requirements. Or maybe you’re fascinated by the crustacean world? Shrimp aquariums don’t have to be big, but we know from experience that one is never enough. Once you fall in love with it, you will definitely want more.

Decorative aquarium

If the aquarium is to decorate your living room, you must pay attention to its visual aspect. Manufacturers of aquarium tanks offer a wide range of colors of aquarium cabinets and lids. They also offer various designs of the furniture, so you shouldn’t have a problem with choosing a set that will fit into the style of your home.

aquarium set

Aquarium set

The size of such an aquarium can be arbitrary. Of course, the bigger the tank, the more impressive it will be. But a nicely arranged and exposed 35x35x35 cube will be spectacular enough.

Breeding aquariums

If if you intend to breed fish, consider installing a rack with a number of tanks. You can quarantine new fish there. You can also isolate spawners and raise the fry there.

Aquarium shape

Standard size aquariums with straight panes are most universal. They are easy to maintain and do not hinder observation of the underwater world. However, if you dream of something more extravagant, you may be interested in semi-circular, corner, hexagonal or panoramic aquariums.

The most popular dimensions of aquarium tanks with straight panes

Aquarium dimensions [cm] Length Width HeightVolume [l]
60 × 30 × 3054
80 × 35 × 40112
100 × 40 × 40160
120 × 40 × 50240
150 × 50 × 60450

However, classic, simple aquariums are by far the most popular. You will find the largest selection of sizes among them. You can easily buy a lid for such an aquarium if you do not want to buy a ready-made set. Smaller tanks are also available in a form of a cube, popular especially among shrimps and aquatic plants lovers.

Maintenance costs

When planning an aquarium, think about the money needed to buy it and maintain it. The bigger the tank, the higher the initial cost and monthly electricity and water bills. If the fish you plan to keep will need special water preparation, e.g. using a RO filter, the costs will be even higher. 

Aquarium size

You already know that several factors influence the size of the aquarium. The place you have and the budget, and the fish as well. Fish must be provided with adequate space to live. If you dream of large cichlid species you have to adapt the aquarium to their requirements. Don’t get caught up in the trap of buying a smaller temporary tank. Unless you actually plan to increase the number of your tanks, hoping it will go unnoticed by other family members. If budget and space are limiting factors, do not give up. The number of interesting, small fish species is enormous. You will surely find one that will captivate you, and will be suitable for a small aquarium.

But there is one more rule every aquarium hobbyist should follow when choosing their first aquarium. The larger tank is easier to maintain. It is easier to keep the biological balance in it and it also gives more arrangement possibilities.

In my opinion a tank with a capacity of 60 litres is the best for a start. But the bigger the aquarium, the better. You will see for yourself that if you catch an aquarium bug, one aquarium won’t soon be enough.

A glass bowl is not an aquarium

Never ever buy a glass bowl! First of all, because its capacity is very small, usually not exceeding 10 litres. It is difficult to install a heater, filter and lighting in it. There’s no place for the fish to hide. Water gets dirty very quickly and thus requires frequent changes. A biological balance that makes fish and plants feel good and healthy will never be created in a bowl. For the popular goldfish, which most often end up in a bowl, this is far too small an apartment. The minimum volume that should be per one goldfish is 50 litres.

Ph.D.Eng Aleksandra Kwaśniak-Płacheta

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