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your first freshwater tank


the first decision is already made you want an aquarium so then you can move on to the next one where will you put it this can limit the size of the tank you get then the cost of tank and equipment no point wanting a six footer when you only have 50 -100 to spend .

I would recommend a 3 foot tank (36x12x12) or a 2 footer (24x12x12) as a minimum size for your first tank you can get smaller but the smaller the tank the more maintenance it needs or if you want a larger tank then a 4 footer (48x12x12) is the biggest that I would recommend.

you will be able to get these three sizes in nearly all aquarium shops or even pet shops I would suggest that you don't get anything larger as any tank larger then 4 foot tends to be more pricier and it would be a shame to pay a lot of cash out to find out six months down the line that you may want to stop keeping fish for some reason.

so once you've decide on size and where you are going to put it and how much you have to spend then we come to another decision do you want to buy a new aquarium or a second hand one the choice is up to you I cant really help here but I will give you some pro's and  cons.


second hand





every thing will be brand new any thing goes price can be costly costs can be a lot cheaper then a shop you buy it has it  is you may not get exactly what you want in regards to style of tank
wrong with the tank or equipment then you can go    you may get a great bargain if anything breaks the following day to bad  
see the shop  and get it replaced as long as it is in warranty and not your fault    it might be a full set up with every thing you wanted it might be a full set up and fish as well and all or nothing deal
 you can pick your own equipment and style of tank     you may have to replace a piece of equipment to one that you want i.e. change the filter to 1 you want

after you have decided that you are left with the following choices

 tank choices 

 heaters choices

   glass or acrylic

glass heaters or heating mats or  filters with built in heaters

basic filter choices 

advance filter choices

air powered undergravel or power head  undergravel or internal or external may be used with advanced to be used with basic choices reverse flow undergravel or trickle filter or wet and dry sump filter

tank stand choices 

 substrate choice 

on top of something you have or   iron stand or aquarium cabinet

 sand or gravel and with or without rocks or bogwood or plants

hood choices

tank theme

no hood or metal or wooden  may depend on choice of stand community or species or biotope



plastic or live 

fluorescent or mercury vapour or metal halides or your own lighting ideas
and some extras you will need thermometer, nets, food, buckets, a couple of good books, gravel cleaner, wormfeeder, algae scraper or magnets, cabletidy and a cloth for wiping the front of the tank these things are for the tank only and must not be used for anything else and stored away when not in use

after all that its time for the fish this is totally up to you but I would suggest if buying a second hand tank that you try and get one without fish as it will be better for you and the fish to build your fish stocks up slowly and you can get the fish you want when you want.

If buying brand new i would suggest that you look at the fish first and try and look it up in a good book first or if you have already decide that you want it before looking it up first then ask the shop owner if you are in any doubt if they are suitable for what you are doing with your tank after all you don't want a large angelfish in with your small neons  tetras .

the last thing that I would strongly recommend is to join an aquarium club if there are any in your area ask at the local aquarium shop for details.


Michael Doherty