Adventures of an Amatuer Aquarist – Tank Size.
This is the second in the series about aquariums, where I disseminate whatever knowledge I’ve gained from my aquarium hobby.
Anyway, for anyone getting started on aquariums is to keep two things in mind. How much work you are willing to put in (because it really takes some effort to keep up a good aquarium) and secondly how much money you are willing to spend on your aquarium. And, like in any other hobby the more money you put in, the less work you have to do. Unless you plan on hiring someone for aquarium maintenance, don’t expect zero work aquariums. No pain, no gain.
And to start with, the most important of all components of a successful aquarium is the fish tank. Its where you will be housing your fishes and there are so many sizes, types and shapes to chose from that it could drive most amateurs crazy. So, here are some tips and information about getting started with the most important component in this hobby.
In general there are two types of fish tanks. The ones made of glass and the ones made of acrylic. The acrylic ones are light weight and don’t break too easily but their major disadvantage is that they cost a lot. Really lot. A small acrylic aquarium (25L) could easily set you back by at least 7000 Rs. So unless you are doing interior decorations for a rich client or have lots of cash to burn acrylics are out of the question. The other type is the ubiquitous glass fish tanks. They are hard, cheap, easily available, don’t scratch easily and can be easily replaced. On their disadvantages, they are heavy, brittle and need some maintenance on part of the owner. But in terms of value for money, glass easily wins over acrylic. At Least till the prices of acrylic tank comes down.
The second most important thing is the size of the fish tank. The size depends on a lot of factors, like the number of fish you are planning to keep, whether you chose to have it planted or not and how much time you are willing to spend on maintenance of the aquarium. One common misconception regarding the size of the fish tank is that smaller ones are easier to maintain. But in practice, if you want to keep at least more than 2-3 fishes, the bigger the tank, the easier its to maintain. There are lots of reasons for this. Bigger tanks contain more water and hence don’t get polluted too easily and you can get away with doing ten percent water changes a week without affecting the fish in the tank. They also have lots of surface area for gaseous exchange. So they can be kept for longer when the power goes out and your filters and air pumps aren’t working without stressing out your fish too much. Another big advantage of a bigger tank is that you can make up lots of holes, small caves and other hiding space for you fish and still have lots of room to view them. Its a win-win deal. So, if you plan on having a reasonable number fishes, go big.
I will suggest a minimum of 50L aquarium for 15 small to medium sized fishes (guppies, tetras, small cichlids, mollies, etc..). For bigger fish, like bigger cichlids, catfish or other large fishes start with at least a 200L tank. The bigger tanks are especially important if you plan to keep aggressive fishes like some cichlids, red-tailed sharks etc.. It gives them lots of space to establish territories. Also many of the bigger fish are especially messy and when kept in small tanks tend to pollute the tanks very quickly. So, more the volume, the longer it takes to pollute it. So, lesser maintenance on your part.
And the last factor regarding tanks is their shape. Though many people think the shape matters only for aesthetic reasons, it is not the case. Shape of tanks can also depend on a lot of factors. One thing to realize is that the shapes bring the volume/surface area trade off. Square tanks have more surface area for the same volume, but since all dimensions are equal, unless you get a big enough tank, you are better off getting longer tanks. Also, rectangular tanks cost lesser. Other thing is the height of the tank. Tanks which have obtuse shapes can tend to be a lot taller because they can distribute the weight of the water over much of the glass surface, but rectangular ones can’t get too tall because water pressure increases with the height of the tank and puts a lot of stress on the glass walls. Hexagonal tanks seem to be around, but are usually costlier though they can have a lot more water in a smaller space and can get a lot taller for the same thickness of glass.
So the things you have to keep in mind when choosing the shape are the volume of the tank, the surface area and the cost. The cost is very important because, you can probably spend the money on much more important tank accessories rather than getting a fancy shape. So, for cost-benefit reasons, rectangular/square tanks are the best. So I guess that’s enough gyan about fish tanks for now. Keep these little tips in mind before you plan on getting a fish tank and you will end up with a good setup and a colorful aquarium.