Beginners Guide to Fish Keeping and Building your first Aquarium (Part 1)

The hobby Aquarium, such beauty and so many many choices.

My Aquarium

My 20 Gallon (Tall) Aquarium

This article is for those that are new to the hobby and are looking for a good article to get started with setting up and choosing the best options for a home aquarium.

I’ll take you through what you should know, what to research, some choices you will have to make and point out some budget items to get you started on your exciting new hobby.

I’ll also fill in my personal experiences to help you make those decisions along the way.


My personal Experience with this  hobby started in 2013.  I’ll save you the sob story but suffice it to say I was out of work at the time licking my wounds  from job loss and had a lot of time on my hands. I had saved up some money and wanted to get a pet. Sure the options of the cute puppies and other pets  were there but I wanted Color! I wanted that beautiful  mixed swimming  fish like you see  at a big aquarium !

As I first visited my local Pet Store, I gazed and drooled at all the wonderful fish and aquarium setups. It was at this point that I knew I was sold.

But how to get started, what was involved? Salt water or Fresh water What about Water testing and PH etc. ? I had no  idea at first…  The questions were overwhelming.

As it turns out, there is a lot of science and common sense practices involved in getting to a stable environment. to get to a Show like tank  is a lot of work (more on the cleaning side)!

Don’t kid yourself, keeping fish and especially a show-like tank requires work  and an education up front as well as an investment.

Step 1 – Asking the right Questions

So to get started you need to start by asking the right questions to yourself and to fish experts in order to get what you want. After all whats in your head may not necessarily work in practice, that being said lets go over a few of the initial questions you should be asking yourself  first.

  1. How Big of a tank can I afford and what shape
  2. Do I have an area set aside in my house for this tank ?
  3. How much weight can the floor  under this area  in my house/condo/apartment hold ?
  4. Freshwater versus Salt Water

Now these seem like strange questions to ask however there answers will provide a lot of insight and help you get a handle on WHAT you need to buy as well as how much money this project is going to cost.

Lets go over them one by one and try to explain the  questions better while providing you with choices for the answers and you will see why I am asking them.

1. How Big of a Tank and what shape?

Tank shapes and sizes come in all different forms, from the basic rectangle to custom tank designs.

Tank shape will determine what type of Fish stand you need to buy but also the cost of the tank and your overall In-tank Aquascaping that you will do when you set up your tank.

Hexagon Tank       Fish tank rectangle Corner Tank Bow Front Tanks

Hex  – (although not as common now) provide the benefits of height allowing you to Grow long plants or aquascape higher with live rock, drift wood or other materials. Good for smaller fish or fish that prefer to swim the full length of the tank, but not so great for dwarf frogs who need to breathe air  and if the tank is too high, may struggle to reach the surface as example. Also cleaning a Hex tank may prove to be a little more difficult as you will need longer equipment to clean the bottom. Choosing the right stand for this tank will also matter as you want something lower to the ground and very sturdy.

Rectangular –  These tanks are the go to regular standard as they provide some height but a lot of viewing and horizontal distances. They come in many different sizes and lengths. This is the recommended tank style to start out with as they typically are also a bit cheaper than highly customized tanks.

Corner Tanks  – As the name implies, These tanks sit in a corner. There are definite use cases for this type of tank. One thing to consider however is that by placing a tank in a corner you limit your access around the tank for cleaning, fixing  equipment etc. Make sure you buy a good fish stand with good access underneath it to  access your equipment, because you will have to.

Bow Front –  A lot of people like this style however there isn’t much difference between this  style and a rectangular tank and parts (if needed ) are harder to fit/find for  Bow front tanks due to the curved nature of the front glass. They do however add style to the look.

Specialty Tanks – These tanks add some serious style and look to any living space. Downside to going with custom or brand specific tanks is that you will end up being locked into buying that brands filter media and parts. Also these tanks tend to cost a lot more than the traditional look. If you have the budget and your willing to pay the extra costs then these tanks are definitely something to consider.

Fluval Edge 2

Fluval’s Edge 2 Tank

Fluval's Spec 10 Gallon

Fluval’s Spec 10 Gallon



Fluval is really the leader right now I think in terms of mass retail “eyecandy” tanks.


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