Aquarium Buying Guide

Buying the first aquarium could be a bit challenging because of there are plenty of things you need to consider when making choices. It could be even more challenging if you are buying a fish tank as a gift. This Buying Guide answers the most common questions you might face when searching for the perfect tank for the beginner.

aquarium buying guide

Be sure to know the basics before buying an aquarium.

You will find from this site also in depth reviews of aquarium kits etc, which should help you make educated choices, and get started as smoothly as possible. You need to always remember, that fishes are living creatures, and they need constant attention. At least they need enough space to live, correct living environment, and food & oxygen. You need to be aware of many things such as nitrogenous cycle and how to do water changes. Those are not complicated things, but anyway, you need to know how to maintain your tank right way and create a fabulous living environment for your fish.

An aquarium allows decorating a room as well as experience sea life in an indoor environment. Even so, the tank must blend in with the surrounding décor. But how does an amateur aquarist manage to choose the most appropriate fish tank? This guide explains the main features that you need to consider before making a purchase.

What types are available?

There are plenty of different types, sizes, models and brands for sale. This wide range of options makes the selection process a bit difficult. However, the selection process can be simplified if one understands that there are two main factors that determine which model is the best suitable.

These factors are the intended fish population and where it is to be placed. Fish populations determine the size of the tank while the location determines the material tank is made of. A general that applies to fish population is that each fish needs to be allocated one gallon of space, hence a 10-gallon tank can hold a maximum of 10 fishes.

Aquarium Kits – perfect for beginners

Kits are perfect for beginners as they include usually everything you need to start the new hobby!

Aquarium kits are the easiest way to get started a new hobby. They are also perfect gifts. Most kits include everything needed. Kits include usually tank, water filtration system, basic chemicals, lighting and some decoration. Of course, you need to take a closer look what each kit includes, and buy items that are not included. However, kits are anyway an easy way to start as you don’t need to worry about things such as if the water filter is powerful enough for the size of the tank.

Kits are economical for beginner aquarist as they contain all the necessary components of a fully functional fish tank, and the purchaser does not need to search for other components. Also, they come with an easy-to-follow instruction manual that simplifies the installation process.

Below are a few very popular fish tank kits you can buy right now from the Amazon.

Shaped Kits – beautiful decoration elements

Shaped kits offer not only an easy way to get started, but those are also great looking decoration elements in place. With colorful fish, lighting, and decor these looks really amazing, and create a relaxing atmosphere in any room.

Material of the tank – important thing to consider

Tanks are constructed from either of two main materials; glass and acrylic. The location determines which material is most suitable as each material has its merits and demerits.

The glass is easy to clean and scratch-resistant. Still, it also has 3 main drawbacks; it is heavy, can chip easily, and it distorts view (depending on the shape and thickness of glass wall). Even so, it is suitable for wall-mounted and in-wall aquariums as its base does not buckle easily, and in these locations, it is rarely moved.

Acrylic is lightweight hence easy to move around, and its edges rarely chip. Also, it rarely distorts views as plastic rarely refracts light rays. Even so, acrylic is prone to scratches. Moreover, plastic buckles can break easily. Therefore it needs to be mounted on a solid support or set on the floor.

Pay attention to the size of the tank

There are many sizes and shapes available.

As mentioned earlier, the tank size is determined by fish population you are planning to put into it. The sizes range from a small 5-gallon tank to the extra-large 300-gallon tank. A Large model is easier to clean and maintain as compared to smaller tanks. For this reason, beginner aquarists are advised to acquire a larger tank.

Even so, the size is also determined by the space of where it is to be placed. Therefore, the purchaser needs to strike a good balance between the tank size and fish population.

There are different shapes available

The shape determines the volume of water that the fish can swim in. The tank with a narrow base and a long height constrain the movements of fish. For this reason, it is advisable for one to acquire a cuboid-shaped model as its length is much larger than either the width or height and this gives the fish more space to move around.

Likewise, the cross-sectional area of the tank determines how much oxygen is dissolved into the water.

Where to place aquarium?

The aquarium can be placed on the desk, floor or they can be mounted on walls. Fish tanks that are installed in walls do use less room space than floor models. There are the two categories of fish tanks that are fitted into walls:

Wall-mounted models

These narrow-width models are fitted into wall openings. A large proportion of their width and base goes into the wall with an only a small section of the tank protruding from the wall. This prevents them from being knocked over. Equally, their appearance and aesthetics need too much with the surrounding room décor.

Even so, these are difficult to clean and maintain as compared to floor aquariums. Likewise, they are also more expensive.

In-wall models

These are fitted into wall openings, and they level with the surrounding, which means that they do not protrude like wall-mounted tanks. This prevents them from being knocked over, but it also requires them to blend in with the surrounding room décor. To improve the view angle, they can be built into a panoramic-friendly shape in which the room-facing surface is curved hence creating a degree of panoramic view. Even so, these are difficult to clean, maintain or install as compared to floor models; and they also cost more.

Aquarium stands

Stands are an excellent way to get floor model placed perfectly. Below are few examples of popular stands. They are available in different sizes.

Other essential things you will need

These are the key components, apart from the fish tank, which is needed to setup the perfect ecosystem and environment for the fish. They include for example, water conditioner, filtration system, heater, substrate, and decorations.

Aquarium Heater – Do I need it?

Fish are cold-blooded animals that cannot generate their own body heat and hence rely on the ambient temperature of the water to warm their bodies. The heater warms the water, hence allowing fish to survive. However, it depends the type of fish you have and your ambient room temperature if the heater is required. The most important features of a heater are:

Heater Size

This is determined by the tank size and the ambient room temperature. A large tank needs a large heater, while a smaller one requires a smaller heater. Fish tank in warm rooms can do with smaller heaters as compared to tanks set in cooler rooms. This is because room temperature either heats up or cools water through energy transfer. Therefore, cooler rooms would cause the temperature inside the tank to fall, hence the need for a large heater to rapidly raise the temperature if it falls.

Heater Design

There are 4 main heater designs. The first one is the immersible heater which is hung on the tank side. The second design is the submersible heater which is always under water where it keeps the temperature stable. The third is the substrate heater which is fitted under the gravel (substrate) and it serves to maintain the substrate temperature within narrow temperature ranges so as to allow plants to flourish. Lastly, there is filter heater which is fitted in the filter where it warms the filtered water.

Water Filtration System

The type of filter determines the filtration system. The filter type determines the duration it takes to perform maintenance operations. There are 3 filter types.

Under Gravel Filtration (UGF)

UGF filters are fitted at the base, underneath the gravel, and viewers cannot see them. Even so, they require regular maintenance as they quickly clog up with particulate matter.

Power Filter

It is fitted along the inside wall of the tank, and it rarely requires maintenance. They can also be easily accessed, which allows their pads to be easily replaced.

Canister Filter

It is fitted along the inside wall of the tank, and it rarely requires maintenance. It contains carbon which allows it to de-color the water hence maintaining a clear aquarium. Even so, if it is clogged by particulate matter, it prevents water from flowing normally through it.

Below are examples of very popular filter systems.


There are plenty of decorations available for indoor aquariums such as stones, tree stems, and plants grown in the tank. They allow the tank to blend in with the room décor. Also, they support the nitrogen and oxygen cycles which are critical for fish survival. Likewise, they provide a resting place for fish.

Below are some exciting example of available decoration items.

Fish Food

There are plenty of a different kind of fish food for sale. Tetra is the most well-known brand. It is important to choose the right food based on your fish species. For example, there is special food available for gold fish, and for general tropical fish etc. Giving the right food, you will ensure well being of creatures living in your water world.

Automatic Fish Feeders

Automatic fish feeders are very handy. Those can be used also while no one is at home. However, if you are using an automatic fish feeder, is important to check daily basis that feeder is working as expected. You can’t have you fish without food!

Where to buy fish?

aquarium buyers guide

Do not buy fish online. Buy them from your local pet store.

Our recommendation is to buy a fish tank, water filters, decoration etc. online from Amazon, just because of they have so big product range as well as reasonable prices. You will get everything you need from the same place. However, fishes are living creatures, and we think that fish should not be sold or purchased online. Therefore the best place to buy fish and other living things such as plants from your local pet store.

Furthermore, it is essential to keep in mind that you can’t put fish right in the new tank. You need to make sure the nitrogen cycle is complete and the water parameters are truly stable before you actually add the fish. Therefore there is no idea to buy tank and fish at the same time as you can’t any way put fish to the new tank before nitrogen cycle is perfectly running, which could take day or two. Most likely you can’t keep fish in a small transporting container or plastic bags meanwhile! Be sure to be patient and avoid the most common mistakes beginner aquarium hobbyists make.

Before buying a different kind of fishes, be sure to fully understand aquarium fish compatibility, not all fishes can live in the same tank. Tropical fish needs warmer environment than other fishes, and some fish species could each other species. So, make your choices carefully, and buy fish from a pet shop where the staff is willing to educate you about fish compatibility etc.


Aquariums are the perfect way to improve the décor quality of a room as well as bring sea-life indoors. There are plenty of different types, sizes, shapes, brands, and models of tanks available. The tank must hold the right fish population, as well as contain all the essential components. The easiest way to get started is to buy all inclusive aquarium kit.

It’s important to remember, that fishes are living creatures, and they need your attention & care. Owning a fish tank is not only existing but also a very rewarding hobby. As a hobby, it is suitable for adults, children, and whole families!

Be sure to learn also how to make your first fish tank success. Hopefully, this buying guide was helpful.