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A Beginner’s Guide to Fish Tanks

There is a whole lot more to owning and maintaining a fish tank than simply buying a glass bowl, filling it with water, and dropping in a couple fish. If you aren’t careful and if you don’t take the time to really do your homework, your fish might not make it through the week.

Things like regular maintenance, filtration, types of fish and what the tank is essentially made of are all very important things to take into account when starting a mini-aquarium of your own. Understanding how each of these things work to create a safe and healthy environment for the fish is paramount to maintaining the tank and the life within.


Having filtration in a fish tank not only makes the process of clean-up much easier, it also helps to lengthen the life of your fish. There are two types of filtration typically used:

  • Mechanical Filtration
  • Biological Filtration

Mechanical filtration works using a filter than you can purchase in many pet specialty shops. These filters work to remove harmful particulate and debris from the water and usually require regular maintenance to ensure proper performance. There are many different types of mechanical filters that also come in a variety of forms. Prices can vary and you can usually get away with a decent $40 unit.

Biological filtration is a little more advanced. These usually involve the use of bacterial colonies to spread throughout the tank and breakdown the particulate naturally. This method is a little more involved and not recommended for first time owners. There is also the issue with particular types of fish which cannot coexist with the bacteria.

The Fish Tank

You should study the fish tank you wish to purchase and get a feel for what it’s made of. Most fish tanks on the market should be safe, but some are made of materials that could prove toxic to the fish. Fish can get sick and die from chewing in the enclosure and, if the materials happen to be water-soluble, some toxins could even be released in the water.

It’s also important to get a feel for the integrity of the tank. Pay close attention to how much water is recommended for the tank and make sure the glass can handle the pressure. Lots of first-timers purchase aquariums without realizing just how much the tank can handle only to come home to a cracked or burst tank.

The Fish

If this is your first time owning a fish tank, it might be best to start with something simple (and relatively cheap) like a goldfish or a betta. Some of the more exotic (and expensive) fish might require specific conditions and appliances that could all set you back a couple hundred if you aren’t careful.

Logistical Concerns

And, while we’re on the topic of money, it’s important to understand that having a real-deal fish tank and maintaining it can sometimes be a little costly. The cost to replace a high-end fish tank full of exotic fish can be rather high so, as with all valuables in your home, you should see about protecting it. Make sure you place it in an area where it is least likely to be knocked over and, if you are particularly concerned about it being stolen, you might want to look here and other sites for information on securing the home. After all, fish tanks are supposed to be relaxing and you can’t very well have that when you’re concerned about losing all that money you invested in one.