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How to choose a fish tank


So, you’ve decided that a fish might just be the right pet for you. Now, you’ve got to decide on a fish tank – and there are so many! Before navigating the shop floor, here are some helpful key considerations before making a purchase. Covering everything from the type of fish you want, to the reality of space and placement in your home. While a large, glamorous tank is, well, glamorous, you still need to narrow down the perfect fit. It doesn’t matter your preference or taste, ‘the one’ you want is just around the aisle.


Five things to consider when purchasing a fish tank:

*Tank kits and tanks vary in their inclusions, so make sure you read the product description or speak with your local PETstock team member before purchase.

  1. Space in your home

    When introducing any permanent fixture or item into your home, space will always be high on the consideration list. You’ll need to ensure the tank you choose will fit into your home, both visually and spatially. So, before making a purchase, look at the ideal space for your tank, and get out your measuring tape. Purchasing a large tank for a small home is a more common mistake than you might think. When considering space, you should be ensuring you place your tank away from areas where external sources like windows and heater vents will affect the temperature. Also, try and keep your tank out of direct sunlight as this will promote algae growth.


    Most large size tanks come with the option of purchasing a stand, which will provide the additional required strength to hold a tank full of water. So, this means you’ll need to ensure you have the room for the stand as well as the tank, as placing the tank on a different piece of furniture may result in damage. Finally, double-check the flooring beneath your tank is suitable to hold its weight when full.

    Lastly, always ensure you talk this over with your housemate, family or partner; space always looks a bit different to each individual, and you don’t want your newest friend getting your oldest friends or family offside.

  2. The amount of fish you’d like to keep

    If you only want one fish, you won’t need a large tank at all, however the more you want, the bigger the tank you’ll need. Overcrowding a small tank with any type of fish will result in your fish either outgrowing the tank or cause the fish to experience unnecessary stress, which can result in illness or death. Everyone needs the right amount of space and freedom to live a healthy life – including small fish.

  3. The type of fish you’d like to keep

    Most fish purchased are young and not yet fully grown,. so, ensure the tank you’re looking to buy has your tank has ample room for your fish to grow. As you might expect, different species grow to different sizes, so make sure you have an understanding or knowledge of the fish you want to purchase before settling on a tank.


    A lot of fish should be kept in schools or groups, which might affect your choice of tank.

    Your local PETstock fish guru will be able to chat with you about this and help determine which breed of fish is most suited to you.

    For the basics, discover

    How to choose the right fish

  4. The time you have available to maintain your tank

    Not many people enjoy cleaning, but fish tank maintenance is vital in establishing a healthy fish ecosystem. The larger the tank, the longer it will take to maintain so really consider how much time you can dedicate to maintain your fish tank.


    An aquarium/tank of about 200L+ that is fully stocked with fish might take a couple of hours to maintain every fortnight (approximately). Maintenance frequency depends on several factors, so this just an estimate.

    Below is a rough guide of tank sizes, fish capacity and maintenance frequency.

    Tank Size Fish Capacity Maintenance Frequency
    20 Litres 2 fish Every Fortnight
    90 Litres 10 fish Every Fortnight – 3 weeks
    165 Litres 15-20 fish Every Fortnight – 4 weeks
    *Fish numbers are based on a 5cm fish size.    
  5. Your budget

    An obvious one, but don’t skim over it! The bigger your budget, the more equipped you can make your tank. Some tanks of the same size have a different price, and this is mostly due to what the tank includes. A more expensive tank will most likely include a built-in light and filter whereas the less expensive option may have neither (a filter is essential so will need to be added if your tank does not already include this). In general, most new tanks come with a built-in light and filter.

  6. Tank Options

    To start your selection, you can begin with two routes/options, a ‘tank only’ selection or ‘tank kit’. Tank kits are perfect for those beginning their fish journey, but they are also great for people who just want a quick set-up, with less decisions to make. A Non-Tank Kit, on the other hand, provides you with a little more room to get creative and select more individual products to DIY your new fish environment.

What will I need for my tank?

Due to the wide variety of products and tank options on the market, it’s important to make sure you have the following items when purchasing your tank/aquarium or make sure they come with your kit

  • Water conditioner
  • Ammonia, chlorine and chloramine eliminator
  • Live Bacteria - API Quick Start and Fluval Biological Enhancer are great products that deliver the required live bacteria needed to cycle your new tank. Both are suitable for smaller and larger tanks.
  • Conditioning salts
  • Gravel
  • Filter (if your tank does not come with one)
  • Heater (if you would like to keep tropical fish)
  • Live plants
  • Ornaments and aquarium background (optional)

Purchasing fish on the same day as your tank is NOT advisable. Letting your tank cycle for a month is the ideal route, as it is essential to allow the tank’s natural biological filter develop.

Are you ready to set up your tank? Keep reading…

How To Set Up Your Fish Tank