Fishkeeping FAQ's

What Size Aquarium Is Best For Beginners?

If you’re just starting out with fishkeeping, finding the perfect aquarium size can feel like a daunting task. It’s important to choose the right size tank to ensure the well-being of your aquatic friends.

In this article, we’ll explore the ideal aquarium size for beginners, helping you make an informed decision and kickstart your exciting journey into the world of fishkeeping.

Factors to Consider

When it comes to setting up an aquarium as a beginner, there are several important factors to consider in order to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience.

These factors include available space, budget, type of fish, maintenance, and future expansion. By carefully considering these aspects, you can make informed decisions that will create a thriving aquatic environment for your fish.

Available Space

The available space to accommodate your aquarium is an essential factor to consider. When determining the size of the tank, you need to assess both the physical space and the location where you plan to place it.

Physical Space

Consider the dimensions of the area where you intend to set up your aquarium. It’s important to choose a tank size that fits comfortably within the designated space.

Ensure that there is enough room for the tank, as well as for any equipment, decorations, and the necessary access to perform maintenance tasks.


The location of your aquarium plays a crucial role in its success. Avoid placing the tank in direct sunlight or near temperature-changing sources such as heating or cooling vents.

Additionally, ensuring that the tank is away from high-traffic areas can help minimize stress to the fish.

Avoid Crowding

When considering the available space, it is important to avoid overcrowding the tank. Too many fish in a small space can lead to stress, aggression, and poor water quality.

Making sure there is enough room for the potential adult size of the fish you choose is crucial for their well-being.


Another factor to take into consideration is the compatibility of the fish species you plan to keep. Some fish require larger tanks with specific water conditions or companions.

Researching and choosing fish that can coexist peacefully and thrive together in the same tank is vital for their overall health and happiness.


Establishing a budget is a crucial step before embarking on your aquarium-owning journey. Consider the following costs when determining your budget:

Cost of Tank

The cost of the tank itself can vary based on its size and quality. Remember that larger tanks typically cost more than smaller ones due to the materials required for construction.

It is important to invest in a good quality tank to ensure its durability and functionality.

Cost of Equipment

In addition to the tank, you will need equipment such as a filter, heater, lighting, and a lid. The price of these items varies depending on the quality and brand.

Researching different options and comparing prices can help you find quality equipment that fits within your budget.

Cost of Fish and Plants

The cost of fish and plants will depend on the species you choose. Some fish and plants are more expensive than others due to their rarity or specific care requirements.

Consider the cost of acquiring your desired fish and plants, as well as any potential ongoing costs for supplies such as fish food.

Maintenance Costs

Maintenance costs should also be factored into your budget. These costs include regular expenses for water conditioners, filter media replacements, and various testing kits.

It is important to budget for these ongoing costs to ensure the health and longevity of your aquarium.

Type of Fish

The type of fish you choose for your aquarium should align with your interests, preferences, and the level of experience you have as a beginner. Consider the following factors when selecting fish species:

Freshwater Fish

Freshwater fish are a popular choice for beginners due to their wide variety, ease of care, and affordability.

They are generally less demanding in terms of water conditions and equipment requirements. Popular freshwater species for beginners include guppies, tetras, and platies.

Marine Fish

Marine fish, also known as saltwater fish, are typically more challenging to keep compared to freshwater fish. They require specific water conditions, such as salinity levels, and more advanced equipment like protein skimmers.

If you are a beginner, it is recommended to gain more experience before venturing into marine aquariums.

Coldwater Fish

Coldwater fish, also known as temperate fish, thrive in cooler water temperatures. Goldfish are a common example of coldwater fish.

It is essential to choose a tank size that can accommodate the potential adult size of coldwater fish since they can grow significantly larger than other species.

Aggression Level

Different fish species have varying aggression levels. It is important to consider the compatibility of fish when planning your aquarium.

Some fish, such as bettas or cichlids, are known for their territorial and aggressive behavior. Keeping aggressive fish in a larger tank with appropriate tank mates can help mitigate potential conflicts.


Proper maintenance is crucial for the health and longevity of your aquarium. Consider the following aspects of aquarium maintenance:

Frequency of Water Changes

Regular water changes are essential for maintaining optimal water quality. The frequency of water changes will depend on the size of your tank, the number of fish, and the filtration system.

Smaller tanks generally require more frequent water changes compared to larger tanks.

Filter and Cleaning

A reliable filtration system is vital for removing waste and maintaining water quality. Regular cleaning of the filter and checking its functionality is necessary to ensure its effectiveness. Additionally, periodic tank cleanings, including removing debris and algae, are important for a clean and healthy environment.

Testing Water Parameters

Monitoring and testing the water parameters is crucial to ensure a stable and suitable environment for your fish.

Testing kits are available to measure parameters such as ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and temperature. Regular testing will help you identify any imbalances and allow for prompt adjustments.

Time and Effort

Maintaining an aquarium requires time and effort. Regular observation of fish behavior and potential signs of illness or stress is important. Additionally, feeding the fish, monitoring water temperature, and addressing any issues promptly contribute to a healthy and thriving aquarium.

Consider the time and effort you are willing to dedicate to ensure the well-being of your aquatic pets.

Future Expansion

As a beginner, it is important to consider the potential for future expansion when setting up your aquarium. This includes the option to upgrade to a larger tank, add more equipment, incorporate additional fish species, and verify compatibility among them.

Bigger Tank Options

Starting with a smaller tank allows you to gain experience and confidence before considering a larger tank. If you find yourself wanting to explore a wider variety of fish species or house more fish, upgrading to a bigger tank may be a viable option.

Upgrading Equipment

As your knowledge and experience in fishkeeping grow, you may choose to upgrade your equipment. Advanced filtration systems, automated lighting, or protein skimmers are examples of equipment that can be added as you expand your aquarium.

Adding More Fish

Once you have established a stable and well-maintained aquarium, you may feel ready to introduce new fish species. Researching the compatibility and suitable tank mates for your existing fish is important to ensure a harmonious community tank.

Compatibility Considerations

When expanding your aquarium, compatibility among fish species becomes even more critical. Some fish may not coexist peacefully with others, exhibiting aggressive behavior or competing for resources.

Thorough research and seeking advice from experts can help you create a harmonious and balanced ecosystem within your tank.

Choosing the right tank size for your beginner aquarium is essential for the overall success of your aquatic endeavor. Different sizes offer varying advantages and limitations. Here are some recommendations based on tank sizes:

Small Aquariums (10-20 gallons)

Small aquariums are ideal for beginners who have limited space or a smaller budget. Here are some key characteristics of small aquariums to consider:

Ideal for Limited Space

If you have limited space available in your home or office, a small aquarium can be a perfect fit. These tanks can sit comfortably on desks, countertops, or small stands, making them suitable for compact environments.

Suitable for Small Fish Species

Small aquariums are best suited for small fish species such as guppies, tetras, or dwarf shrimp. These fish thrive in smaller volumes of water and are less demanding in terms of equipment and water parameters.

Limited Stocking Options

Due to their smaller size, small aquariums have limited capacity for fish stocking. Overcrowding can lead to poor water quality, stress, and potential health issues.

It’s crucial to research the potential adult size of fish species and their compatibility to ensure a well-balanced and thriving community.

Requires Frequent Maintenance

Small aquariums generally require more frequent maintenance compared to larger tanks. The smaller volume of water means that waste and pollutants can accumulate more rapidly. Regular water changes and filter maintenance are essential to maintain optimal water quality for your fish.

Medium-Sized Aquariums (30-50 gallons)

Medium-sized aquariums offer greater versatility and are suitable for a wider range of fish types. Here are some advantages of medium-sized tanks:

Versatile and Suitable for Various Fish Types

Medium-sized aquariums offer flexibility when it comes to stocking options. They can accommodate both small and medium-sized fish species, allowing you to create a diverse and visually appealing community tank. Additionally, medium-sized tanks provide enough space for some species to exhibit their natural behaviors.

More Fish and Plant Variety

With a larger volume of water, medium-sized aquariums can support a larger number of fish and plant species. This allows for a higher level of biodiversity and an opportunity to create a captivating underwater landscape. The greater variety of fish and plants can enhance the beauty and interest of your aquarium.

Stable Water Conditions

Medium-sized aquariums provide a more stable water environment compared to smaller tanks.

The larger volume of water can dilute any fluctuations in water parameters, providing a more forgiving environment for beginner aquarists. However, it is still important to monitor and maintain proper water quality.

Easier to Maintain

While maintenance is still required, medium-sized aquariums typically require less frequent water changes compared to smaller tanks. The larger water volume helps to dilute waste, reducing the need for constant water changes.

However, regular filter maintenance, monitoring water parameters, and addressing any issues promptly are still essential for the health of your aquarium.


Setting up an aquarium as a beginner can be a rewarding experience, but it requires careful consideration of various factors. By assessing the available space, budget, type of fish, maintenance requirements, and future expansion possibilities, you can create a thriving and enjoyable aquatic environment.

Consider your needs and preferences when choosing the right tank size and fish species. Start with an appropriate tank size based on your available space and budget.

As you gain experience and confidence, you can gradually expand your aquarium, taking into account compatibility and the potential for future upgrades.

Seek advice from experts, such as local fish store professionals or experienced aquarists, to ensure you make informed decisions.

With proper planning, research, and dedication, you can create a beautiful underwater world that brings joy and tranquility to your life.


Passionate fishkeeper. Nature lover. Creative thinker. Music junkie. Adventurer.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.