Gardening Guides

Fish Aquarium 101: Easy Guide to Building a DIY Fish Tank

Were you thinking of getting a fish aquarium, but could never convince yourself to buy one? Don't worry—we’ve got your back!

In this easy guide, we’ll share with you everything you need to know before you head to the aquarium store. 

Fish aquariums can be the focal point of any room. At the same time, they can also bring health benefits.

From reducing anxiety to keeping your blood pressure in check, fish aquariums radiate a sense of tranquillity and closeness to nature.

Perhaps now you know why there’s an aquarium in the waiting area of the dental clinic.

Fish Aquarium Types

Before choosing the right abode for your little pets, you should know that fish aquariums come in different shapes and sizes.

Your choice depends on your budget, the amount of space you can spare for your fish aquarium, and the fish you want. 

Here’s a list of fish aquarium types to consider.

Corner Aquarium

A corner aquarium is an L-shaped fish aquarium with curved front glass. It is popularly known as a bowfront aquarium and includes the traditional rectangular corner aquarium. 

corner fish aquarium
corner fish aquarium

These beginner-friendly tanks are perfect for goldfish, clownfish, and tetras, which with their iridescent scales and bright colors can amp up any dull corner of your home. 

Note: Designed to sit on sturdy stands, these fish aquariums might take up some space in your room. 

Aquarium with Stand

These aquariums provide ample room for your equipment and fish food. An added advantage is that the adjustable feet of the stand allows you to alter the height as per your convenience.  

fish aquarium with stand
fish aquarium with stand

A stand keeps your fish above the ground at an appropriate height. Before buying it, you should consider various factors like space, size and shape, height and material of the aquarium. 

These aquariums provide ample room for your equipment and fish food. An added advantage is that the adjustable feet of the stand allows you to alter the height for your convenience.  

Rimless Aquarium

With their minimal design, rimless fish aquariums spell class and elegance. These aquariums offer ample room for creating an extraordinary aquascape, sans visual distractions. 

rimless fish aquarium
rimless fish aquarium

They come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from 10 gallons to 100 gallons and above.

Aside from their aesthetic appeal, these fish aquariums are designed with open tops that are ideal for ensuring proper gas exchange. 

Planted Aquarium

Does your mind sometimes become absorbed in the swaying of the lush green plants in a fish aquarium? A planted fish aquarium is what you’re looking at then. 

planted fish aquarium
planted fish aquarium

Apart from rendering an aesthetic appeal to your fish aquariums, plants take up the carbon dioxide and ammonia and provide the required oxygen.

They also keep the algae growth in check and provide security and shelter to the fish in your tank. 

A planted aquarium is a nice alternative to an indoor garden or vertical garden in your home.

Wall Mounted Aquarium 

If you do not have enough space in your apartment or would like to take your wall decor game up a notch, then wall mounted aquarium is your answer.

wall mounted fish aquarium
wall mounted fish aquarium

Its compact design includes all the equipment to sustain your fishes and yet offers clear visibility. 

Some fishes to consider for your wall mounted aquarium are Ghost Shrimp, fancy guppies, and swordtails. 

Tip: These kinds of fish aquariums are not suitable for big fishes and live plants due to their size and inadequate lighting.

How to Build Your First Fish Aquarium

A tank of water with fish swimming around isn’t necessarily an aquarium. A lot goes behind the scene! 

For the proper functioning of an aquarium, you must have proper equipment depending upon the type of tank, fish and other factors. 

A well-maintained fish aquarium includes a power supply, a filter, a heater, a thermometer, appropriate lighting, air pumps along other decorative accents.

Step 1 – Choose the Right Size

People often say that they need space. Fish are no different. So when you’re scouting all your nearest pet stores for the right tank and confusion strikes you, swear to give your new friends the space they deserve. 

Talking about space, the usual ‘‘a gallon for every inch of fish” might feel very hard-hearted, for they are fish and not subway sandwiches.

Then come standard sizes to your rescue for all your needs and wants.

You can find tanks in various sizes starting at 5 gallons. Choosing the right size, shape, and weight will not only add to the aesthetic of your living room but also to the lives inside the tank. 

Step 2 – Decide on an Aquarium Tank

Deciding on whether to keep a fish aquarium or not might be easy, but deciding on an aquarium tank is not.

In fact, it is a very important step, as all further decisions related to keeping fish have to be based on what type of tank you choose.

On the basis of salinity, aquarium tanks are classified as coldwater aquariums, freshwater aquariums, and saltwater aquariums.

Tanks can be further classified on the grounds of shape, size, and materials used.

Traditional fish tanks usually come in standard sizes. But more unconventional options have sprung up now like coffee table aquariums and tube aquariums.

Wall-mounted aquariums in fact even serve as a partition between two spaces. 

Step 3 – Add an Aquarium Filter

Like everybody, when you think of an aquarium, you too imagine a picture of a clear tank filled with water and beautiful fish swimming around. 

But seldom do people think about the thing that does all the dirty work of keeping the water in the fish aquarium clean—the aquarium filter. 

An aquarium filter collects debris, uses bacteria to consume toxic ammonia and nitrogen compounds and also uses special resins to remove impurities. 

Overall, it ensures that the fish aquarium is safe for fish to live in. Hence, choosing the right aquarium filter is a key decision to undertake.

Step 4 – Install an Aquarium Air Pump

Your picture of an aquarium is incomplete without bubbles drifting from the side. This component that brings life to the tank is none other than an air pump. It channels the atmospheric air into the tank water. 

Choosing the right aquarium pump is as important as is selecting the right fish. The fish in the aquarium need dissolved oxygen in order to survive.

A pump also adds to the character of the tank by creating a semblance of movement. 

Step 5 – Add an Aquarium Heater

Luxury is expensive, but comfort is priceless, right? Being in a comfortable space is a reward deserved by everyone you love.

And for your new best friends in the fish aquarium, it’s a matter of both comfort and well being.
 
Fish do not produce their own body heat nor can they regulate their own body temperature. Therefore, they need to be in a temperature-controlled external environment.

Adding an aquarium heater helps maintain a constant water temperature in the aquarium. 

Knowing about the type and placement of a fish aquarium heater is not a brain clogging activity. A little effort put into carefully planning an aquarium heater will go a long way in keeping your fish happy.

Step 6 – Add an Aquarium Light

What in the world could be better than something that has both aesthetic and real value? Something that leaves the admirer awestruck and is also utilitarian?

The benefits of adding aquarium lights have often been overlooked. But of late, we have realized that lights are also the primary source of photon energy for fish and other inhabitants of the aquarium.
 
Aquarium lighting can please both the inhabitants of the tank and the hobbyist watching them.

From recreating marine light conditions to a crisp white light—you can choose aquarium lighting according to your preferences. 

Step 7 – Figure Your Aquarium Décor

If your fish aquarium is not a reflection of your personality, are you even a fish enthusiast? Aquarium décor gives you the freedom to bring out the aesthetics that please you. 

Fish aquarium décor usually includes gravel, small rocks, and different artifacts. In fact, in a tank with complimenting décor, even the fish remain stress-free. 

All this makes décor not only aesthetically appealing but also a critical component in a fish aquarium. 

Qualities such as particle size, color, and texture all should be well thought about.

Fish are prone to health issues if their surroundings don't complement their well being. Hence, be sure to research what suits your pets.

Tip: Note how the décor may react to being submerged in water for a long time. Else any chemical reaction could prove to be disastrous.

Step 8 – Choose Plants for Your Aquarium

Plastic has found its way into the ocean and we are great advocates of plastic not entering your fish aquarium. 

And no, we are not suggesting aquarium plants made of plastic. They may look drop-dead gorgeous all round the clock, but nature triumphs all. 

A fully planted natural fish aquarium is what you need to elevate the beauty of your living room. Fishes in an aquarium seek solace in plants.

So choosing natural aquarium plants is the best thing that you can do for your underwater friends.

Fish not only use them as a shelter but also depend on the oxygen produced by the plants. 

There are a wide variety of natural plants available for fish aquariums like Moneywort, Anubia Nana, Java Moss, and Duckweed.

Step 9 – Add Life to Your Aquarium

What’s a fish aquarium without fish? You can quite literally add life to your aquarium by introducing fishes to it. 

But before adding fish to your aquarium, make sure that it’s well-equipped and properly running.

Aquarium Fish
While getting started with fish keeping as a hobby, it’s key that you choose an aquarium fish that is relatively small and easy to maintain. 

There are a variety of options to choose from. Apart from the usual neon tetra, goldfish, and betta fish, you can also consider the following for your aquarium.   

Aquarium Shrimp
Aquarium shrimp, otherwise known as dwarf freshwater shrimp, can be a great addition to your aquarium. These active creatures help keep algae growth in check. 

Freshwater shrimps are beginner-friendly primarily because they don’t have specific feeding needs. They feed off algae and even leftover fish food that you see floating around your aquarium.  

Aquarium Snails
Aquarium snails are the good guys of any aquarium. They help in keeping the aquarium clean as they feed on dead plant waste, algae, and food waste. 

Keeping freshwater snails as pets might take your load off maintaining the aquarium because let’s face it, cleaning an aquarium is no cakewalk. 

Note: Snails are experts at sneaking out. So make sure that your aquarium has a lid to avoid the great escape.   

Aquarium Jellyfish
Aquarium jellyfish are beautiful creatures. These, when kept as pets, have different needs than other fish. 

They are not kept in traditional rectangular aquariums but in the ones with round edges with water that mimics ocean currents. 

Note: Jellyfish are magnificent creatures but they require constant care. So it’s good to gain some experience raising fish in an aquarium before keeping them as pets. 

Axolotl Aquarium
Who doesn’t like a cute and active pet? Axolotls are undeniably adorable and the best part is that they are not that hard to take care of. 

Axolotl aquariums must not be smaller than 10 gallons to give your pet enough space to play around in the tank. 

With stable water currents and appropriate water temperature, axolotls are quite an attraction. 

However, keep in mind that these interesting creatures are not great companions. They need privacy.

Step 10 - Maintain Your Fish Aquarium

Maintaining a fish aquarium requires a certain amount of work. Fish generally do not require as much care. Spending 30 mins a week would be ideal for your tank and its inhabitants. 

Your aquarium maintenance routine should include regular water changes, typically every two weeks. 

Make sure that you test the water in your aquarium regularly, keeping track of the pH level, the nitrate and nitrite levels. An ideal pH level for most species ranges from 6.5 to 7.8. 

And don’t forget to service your filter at least twice a month to ensure that your fish are healthy.

Also, you want to keep an eye on your plants to make sure they are doing okay. Aquarium plants may become sick sometimes, in which case you want to replace them.

Great Fish Aquarium Kits to Get You Started

If you’re just starting out with fish keeping as a hobby and the pressure of choosing the right equipment looms over your head, then you might want to try some of the aquarium kits available online. 

These aquarium kits contain almost everything you need for setting up your fish aquarium and get started with mini aquascaping. Your answer to questions like what kind of filter to choose or whether to install a heater or not is an all-in-one aquarium kit. 

These beginner-friendly kits are easy to set up and not very high maintenance but come with limited scope for expansion. Here are a few options of aquarium kits for you to choose from.

Aqueon Fish Aquarium Starter Kits LED NeoGlow

This kit from Aqueon includes a rectangular glass tank with orange fluorescent silicone, an Aqueon Quietflow LED Pro filter, a hood with blue LED lights and a 50W heater. 

The aquarium is easy to set up as it includes everything along with the decorations, and offers various tank sizes, including the 5-gallon and the 7.5-gallon tank.

The blue LED lights on the hood compliment the fluorescent orange silicone and the colourful decorations, making your glow in the dark aquarium quite a statement. 

This kit is value for money if you’re starting out with fish keeping and looking to add some funk in your living room.  

Tetra ColorFusion Aquarium Kit

This medium-sized fish aquarium can be everything you need to make your room look super cool. Thanks to the color fusion LED lights, you can watch different colors flood your aquarium and whisk you away to a seabed experience. 

Plus, the anemones will do more than simply be places for the fish to play and relax. Their vibrant colors will enhance the effect of the LED lights and make your aquarium look great.

This kit includes a 20 glass gallon aquarium, a filter, heater, two plant multipacks, an aquarium hood and a color changing LED for you to customize your fish aquarium. 

Tip: You will need to get gravel for this fish aquarium separately to ensure your fish will stay healthy. 

Tetra 20 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Whether you are just getting started or want to upgrade your new fish keeping hobby—you don’t have to be intimidated anymore! With the Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit, you can now make your way up with ease.

The LED lighting system is sure to give your fish aquarium a natural daylight effect. Besides this, it comes with a spacious tank, a 4-inch fishnet, a digital thermometer, and a brochure and instruction sheet. 

You will also get some artificial plants for decor. And don’t worry—this fish aquarium is durable and has a lifetime warranty. You can really count on it to keep your fish happy for years to come.

Hygger Horizon 8 Gallon LED Glass Aquarium Kit For Starters

This fish aquarium is perfect if you’re a beginner. Setting up and maintaining it isn’t much of a hassle. Because it’s so small, you won’t even need a stand for this aquarium.

But even though It may look small, its convex arc curve shape works the magic of accommodating more water than you’d think and giving you a better view of the aquarium. 

Look at it for long enough and you’ll be transported into a vibrant underwater world, no less thanks to the 3D background. 

Warning: Though its filter is durable, it might not be suitable for fishes smaller than 2 inches which may end up getting sucked. 

Marineland Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit

This stylish and unique fish aquarium with its sleek design looks great. Your eyes can travel across the multiple angles built into the design, and which give it an above-average look as far as aquariums in this price range go. 

Your fishes can swim in both daylight and moonlight effects that the LED light creates. But does it have a filtration system? Sure it does! Only that it’s hidden away to enhance the viewing experience. 

Fish Aquarium Frequently Asked Questions

As much as it is exciting to set up your first fish aquarium, it can also be intimidating. With so many questions running around your head, it’s only natural to ask questions. Here are the answers to a few questions that might have crossed your mind.

Which fish is good for aquariums?

As a beginner, it’s best to go for fishes that are easy to maintain and do not require vigilant care.

These can include neon tetra, goldfish, guppies, and swordtails which are not only colorful and look pretty but are also easy to take care of.

Once you get comfortable with fishkeeping as a hobby, you can jump to the intermediate level and upgrade your aquarium accordingly.

Check our guide on how to build your first fish aquarium for more ideas.

Is it cruel to keep fish in a tank?

n aquarium that is correctly set up, well-equipped, and properly maintained can be a wonderful home to your little friends.

If your fishes are well-fed and taken proper care of, a fish aquarium can be a safe and friendly environment for them. This is true for most aquarium types.

In their little home, they are safe from other predatory species. A fish aquarium will not harm the fish provided you keep your aquarium well equipped and clean and don’t crowd in it too many fish.

How much does a 100-gallon fish tank cost?

If you are an advanced level aquarist and are looking to upgrade to a 100-gallon fish tank, then you should know that it is certainly not a budget option.

A 100-gallon tank would require more maintenance and advanced equipment. A typical rectangular glass tank could cost you anywhere from $150 to $3,000.

If you're not to aquariums, you may want to start with smaller fish aquarium kits

Let’s Do Something Fishy!

Keeping fish in a tank might seem hard and intimidating at first, but once you venture into it there’s no looking back.

Once you befriend those beautiful little creatures in the tank, fish keeping can become fun and calming at the same time.

We're talking here not only about a hobby but a wonderful art form that can inspire you and transport you to a serene place.

And don't be surprised if you'll end up having several aquariums in your home. There are so many options out there for integrating an aquarium into basically any room.

If you want something smaller, you can also try a jarrarium.

fish jarrarium
fish jarrarium

Having an aquarium in your home is not only relaxing and beautiful to look at but it can also serve as an educational means for your children.

Or you can use it for group meditation with your friends. Why not? Aquarium fish are some of the calmest creatures on Earth. We can learn so much from them!

So, the next time when someone asks if you’re a dog person or a cat person, you can say with pride that you’re a fish person!

Foter Magazine is a premier architecture, decoration, interiors and design website. We inspire and guide you to make your home a more attractive place.

SHARE

Related content