Many new aquarium owners have a negative first experience due to inadequate planning and understanding of the basic factors involved. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced hobbyist, careful planning can help you avoid common pitfalls. Two crucial aspects to consider when setting up a new aquarium are the cost and size. Underestimating these factors often leads to compromises that cause problems later on.
It’s important not to be misled by the price tag on a seemingly affordable package deal. Starting an aquarium hobby will realistically cost around $150 to $200 for a twenty-gallon tank with decent equipment. If this investment exceeds your budget, it’s wise to save until you can afford everything you need. Creating a checklist of necessary items is a good starting point.
Creating a Checklist
Your expenses will include the tank and stand, hood and light, heater, thermometer, filter, gravel, decorations, water treatment, water test kit, net, cleaning supplies, and fish, along with their food. Make a thorough checklist and research the costs of the items you’re interested in online or at a pet store. Determine your total cost before making a decision. You might be surprised by the actual expenses.
If your budget is tight, consider asking for help. Share your checklist with friends and family and let them know you would appreciate these items as gifts for occasions like birthdays, graduations, or holidays. This way, you can start without compromising on the quality of your equipment, and your loved ones can give you something you genuinely need.
Another option is to explore used equipment. However, exercise caution as used tanks may have leaks, and heaters or filters may be faulty. Ask upfront questions and don’t pay more than 50 percent of the original price for used items. Don’t be too concerned about dirty glass or decorations, as they can be cleaned easily. However, carefully inspect used equipment for any scratches or cracks that cannot be fixed.
Choosing the Right Size
As a first-time aquarium owner, it’s best to avoid tanks under 10 gallons. Managing small aquariums is more challenging due to quicker toxin buildup and rapid changes in temperature and water chemistry. Avoid the temptation of cute mini-aquariums in the 2-5 gallon range, even if they seem affordable. Whenever possible, opt for a 20-gallon or larger tank. A larger tank provides more forgiveness for any mistakes you might make.
Consider Weight and Placement
Keep in mind that an aquarium larger than 15 gallons, when filled, will weigh over 200 pounds. It should be placed on a stand rather than a shelf or desk. Choose a location that is away from direct sunlight, drafts, and extreme temperatures that could harm the fish. Also, ensure the chosen spot can tolerate occasional water splashing during maintenance and fish handling. Avoid placing the tank on a desktop or above items that may get wet.
Number of Fish
Lastly, be realistic about the size and number of fish you plan to keep. The size of the aquarium will depend on the fish’s needs, which will impact the space required. Even with a larger tank, start with a few small and easy-to-care-for fish. As you gain experience, you can gradually introduce more challenging species.
In summary, when starting your aquarium journey, aim for a larger tank size and a smaller number of fish. Plan ahead before purchasing equipment or fish, and you’ll increase your chances of success.