Selecting Aquarium Equipment: the Tank, the Stand, the Light/Cover & Placement

Selecting the right tank and equipment

Choosing the right equipment is very important to your success with keeping fish. We have already done a lot of the work for you, in that all of the products that we sell have been used, tested and selected by our staff, and what we offer for sale are what we consider to be the best products and values. There still are often many different options to choose from, and we are eager to help you out in making your selections.

The tank

In general, you are better buying the largest tank that you can. This is because one of the keys to successful fishkeeping is that fish need a constant environment. Think about it – fish come from rivers and lakes where the water conditions are always the same from day to day. The larger the tank, the easier it is to keep the water conditions constant.
If you are limited in the size of the tank by where you can put your aquarium, we have many different “nano-tanks” that take up very little space and are perfect for a desk, kitchen countertop, or a child’s room.

The stand or cabinet

A fish tank, filled with water, gravel, fish and all weighs about 10 pounds per gallon. Therefore, you need a strong and stable place to put it on. There are many different aquarium stands and cabinets to choose from, and for anything larger than one of the “nano-tanks” you are usually better putting your tank on one of these.

The light and cover

You will need a light (the main reason for having a fish tank is to look at them, right?) and a cover (fish can jump out of the tank, and finding your favorite fish a fuzz-ball on the carpet is very disappointing). We have a wide selection to choose from. You can buy them separately – a glass cover, and a strip lighting fixture – or you can buy a full hood, which is the light and cover combined. If you have selected a cabinet stand for your tank, you can buy a full hood that matches the cabinet.

The only real consideration for a light/cover/full hood is what looks best to you – the fish don’t really care, as long as they can’t jump out of the tank. The fluorescent lamps for the lights come in a wide variety, depending on what is in the tank, and the kind of look that you want. Most of the lights that we sell will be sufficient for growing some live plants in the tank. If you specifically want a heavily planted aquarium, or you want to grow some of the more difficult plants, please let us know. For a heavily planted tank you need a little more light, and for the best growth of plants you will need certain fluorescent lamps that are designed specifically to grow plants.

The lights on a tank should be on for 10 –12 hours per day. We strongly recommend that you purchase a simple lamp timer so that the lights are on a regular schedule. If you are gone during the day, you may want to have two on/off cycles on your aquarium – so it is dark when you are not there. This is fine, as long as the total time that the lights are on is around 10 –12 hours per day if you have live plants in the tank.

Placing the aquarium

Where you decide to place your aquarium is very important, and we would like to suggest that you consider the following things:

  • Hopefully you have purchased a stand or cabinet for your tank to go on. If not, please make sure that whatever you are putting the tank on is strong, and can hold about 10 lbs per gallon of tank.
  • Unless the tank is over 30 gallons, almost any place in a standard home should be able to take the weight. If you have any questions, please ask someone who is competent to make sure the floor will support the weight.
  • Aquariums have lots of electrical equipment, so you need to be sure that wherever you place the tank there are sufficient electrical outlets close by. The circuit the tank is on, or the main electrical outlet, should be a Ground Fault Interruption circuit (GFI), which protects against any possible electric shock. While all products we sell for tanks are well designed and made with safety in mind, putting the tank on a GFI is a good extra precaution.
  • Make sure that the tank does not get any direct sunlight any time of the year. If an aquarium sees any direct sunlight you will have a real problem controlling nuisance algae growth.
  • Since the main reason for having an aquarium is to watch the fish, you should situate it so that there are plenty of places for folks to sit and look at the tank. It is particularly important that you have places for kids to sit and watch the fish. Be careful not to put the tank where it could easily be knocked over by mistake, especially by eager kids wanting to get a better look.

Supplies Checklist:

  • Fish Tank
  • Water conditioner
  • Full Hood with light
  • pH kit
  • Gravel
  • Fish foods
  • Heater
  • Decorations
  • Thermometer
  • Sand (optional)
  • Filter with cartridges
  • Books about fresh water tropical fishes