Choosing a Fish Tank

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Fish keeping has many advantages over the keeping of other pets.  For one thing a tank of fish takes up very little room; a space of only two or three square feet is needed to accommodate an aquarium containing up to thirty fish.


The first piece of equipment you need to buy to have fish as pets is obviously a fish tank and Ebay is a great place to buy one cheaply.  There a loads of second hand tanks varying in all different sizes, some brand new tanks which are obviously more expensive and there are a few people on Ebay who will make a tank and stand to your specifications.


Before you buy a tank you should think about what type of fish you would like to keep.  Tropical fish are the most popular as they are very colourful and it is relatively cheap to set up a tank or you may decide to go for Marine fish that look beautiful but can be hard to maintain.  You may only want a small "gold fish bowl" for a couple of cold water fish or a large tank for keeping Discuss.  Whatever you decide please make sure you read up on the fish you want first.  There are many good books out there and an even better way of obtaining information quickly is by using a search engine.  It is very important to remember that different species of fish require different amounts of room to swim in and so this will affect your overall choice of buying a tank.


Once you know what fish you want and the minimum tank size you require you can start looking around your house for a suitable location.


Your tank should be placed somewhere quiet, if it is placed next to a busy door way with people passing all of the time it can become quite distressing for the fish and they may spend half of their time hiding.  It should not be placed near a radiator as this can cause the temperature the fluctuate quickly, likewise it should not be placed near a window.  Also remember that if it is in direct sunlight a lot of the time then algae will grow easily which can become a problem.   A good place to put a tank is in an alcove or under an open stairway.


Now that you know where you would like your tank, get your tape measure out and see what size you can fit there.  It is generally better for the sake of the fish to go for the largest tank you can, but this means more expense and also taking up more room.


Fish tanks are generally sold in feet, for example a 4ft tank, but when searching Ebay for one remember that people also sell them in inches and meters.  At the bottom of this page there is a quick conversion of feet to meters.


There are a lot of varying sizes of tanks available to buy in all sorts of different shapes from cubes to cylinders to corner units to coffee tables.  It is important to know that the amount of fish that you can fit into a tank without causing problems is governed by the surface area of the water.  This is area of the water that you can see if you were to look directly on top of the tank.  This is because fish breathe by absorbing oxygen through their gills that is in the water, and this oxygen is absorbed into the water by ripples on the waters surface.  So all though that cylinder fish tank looks very impressive and holds a lot of water it may not be good enough to hold the amount of fish you want. 


The surface area of a tank can be calculated by multiplying the length x breadth of the tank.  So if I had a tank that is 4ft long x 2ft tall x 1.5ft deep the surface area would be 4 x 1.5 = 6 square feet. Please read up on stocking levels before you buy your fish as this varies extremely with different species of fish.


There are two types of tank that are readily available to buy, these are glass and acrylic.  Glass tanks are more popular and cheaper to buy but acrylic tanks are gaining in popularity.


Acrylic tanks are a lot lighter, offer better clarity, insulate better than glass and have a higher tensile strength.  They are also easier to drill into for specialist pipe work, but they do scratch very easily compared to glass and also cost a lot more.  If you are buying a second hand acrylic tank make sure there are no serious scratches in it.


You also need a cabinet or table to place your tank on and most people on Ebay sell them both together.  Remember not only does the table/cabinet need to look aesthetically pleasing it must all so be able to hold the weight of the tank.  A cubic foot of water will weigh 28kgs alone and then you have the weight of the rocks, substrate and the tank itself.


I personally prefer to have a cabinet with drawers and cupboards in as these make great hiding places for pumps, filters, food, medicines and tester kits etc.


You will also want a hood for your tank.  Not only does this look better it also holds the lights, helps keep the surface water clean from dust, provides insulation and also helps to stop fish jumping out.  A cover glass is also advisable but not essential.


Before you buy your tank of Ebay make sure you can get it to your house.  Many people selling tanks will not post them and so only offer a ‘pick up only’ service.  Make sure it is not too far away to collect by using the show ‘items within xx miles of postcode’ from the right hand side of the Ebay window, and also make sure you can fit both the tank and stand into you car/van.


I hope this guide has been useful to you and one last thing, before you fill your tank ensure you are happy with your chosen background and the position of the tank as once it’s full it is not easily moved.





Feet = Inches = Meters

6ft = 72” = 1.80m
5ft = 60” = 1.52m
4ft = 48” = 1.22m
3ft = 36” = 0.91m
2ft = 24” = 0.61m
1ft = 12” = 0.30m

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