One of the biggest mistakes that novice aquarium keepers make is purchasing
the wrong size aquarium for their needs. This leads to a lot of headache,
hassle, and possibly a number of expensive dead fish, and in turn results
in a discouraged individual who winds up leaving the hobby. Purchasing
the right size aquarium is the first and arguably most important decision
when it comes to starting out and building your first tank, and it doesn’t
have to be immensely difficult.
The “One Gallon per Inch” Rule
For many years, aquarium keepers have sworn by one rule when it comes to
selecting their tank size: your tank should have at least one gallon per
every inch of fish length it will hold. Sound confusing? Let’s explain
it in more detail. When you’re planning your first aquarium, you’ll
no doubt be planning based around which types of fish you wish to keep
(bear in mind that you want to select species that will live harmoniously
with others in the tank). Take the typical length for an adult fish of
a particular species (not including their tail) and multiply it by the number of fish of that species you plan on having.
Do this for all fish you plan on having in your tank, and add all these
numbers together. The total should be the number of gallons in your tank.
Let’s look at an example. Say you plan on starting small, and just
want to keep a dozen fish that grow to a maximum length of two inches,
excluding the tail. Twelve fish at two inches in length each would mean
you have a total of 24 inches of length in your tank, so you should get
a tank that is
at least 24 gallons for this ecosystem.
However, this rule has since been disregarded as more of a guideline because
it doesn’t take everything into consideration that you need to think
about. Here are three more things you should consider.
Different Fish Sizes
Not all fish are the same. Some fish are longer, some are shorter, some
are thinner, some are fatter, some are taller, and some are narrower.
Because of this, the length alone isn’t always indicative of what
a fish needs. Fish also grow at different rates; some fish tend to reach
their maximum length more frequently than others, while other fish tend to grow
wider faster than they grow longer. This will all have an impact on your tank,
and should be strongly considered. If you have any fish that are oddly
shaped or get larger in some way other than length, you should take this
into account and provide extra space for them.
Fish breathe by dissolving the oxygen from water and outputting carbon
dioxide. This chemical process is vital to life of all types in your tank,
but also depends on the surface area your tank provides. This exchange
of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place at the tank’s surface,
or where the water in your tank meets the air above it. If your tank does
not have enough surface area, this exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide
can’t occur at a rate it needs to and your fish could grow ill and
die. The more surface area your tank has, the more often this exchange
can occur, and the more oxygen your tank will provide. Therefore, you’ll
always want to get a tank with as large of a surface area as possible.
There are three primary tank shapes that you’ll find: long tanks,
regular tanks, and show tanks. The type of fish you plan on keeping should
influence what type of tank you purchase. Conversely, if you know what
type of tank you wish to purchase, this should influence what type of
fish you keep in it.
Long tanks tend to score well in the surface area department. These are
typically long, rectangular tanks that are somewhat shallow. They offer
two large advantages: excellent viewing areas, and great oxygen exchange.
However, they aren’t usually all that great for larger fish because
of their shallow depth, and they do require substantial space. Small,
fast schools of fish tend to enjoy these tanks the most.
Regular tanks are what you think of when you go to your local pet store.
These include everything from a regular cylindrical bowl to a hexagonal
desktop fixture. However, these tend to do very poorly on the surface
area front, so you can’t stock them with too many fish. Typically,
only small fish that aren’t extremely active tend to do well in these.
Show tanks are like the ones you would find on a television show. These
typically offer a large viewing window for viewing, and come in a wide
variety of shapes and sizes. However, depending on how you create your
tank, the surface area could vary. If you plan on purchasing a custom
aquarium from us here at
Living Art Aquatic Design, Inc., talk to us about the surface area of your tank, and we’ll work
with you to develop the perfect solution for your needs.
To request a
free estimate and get started building the aquatic tank of your dreams, call Living
Art Aquatic Design, Inc. today at (310) 626-1448!