An aquarium is a home...
...for fish, aquatic plants and other aquatic animals, like snails, tadpoles, some frogs.
Aquariums come in many shapes, sizes and different types. Aquariums can be just a few inches in diameter and hold less than a quart of water or larger than many rooms and hold over a million gallons of water (with 2,000 gallons pumped through every minute!). They can be round, rectangular or many other shapes.
There are various types of aquarium:
The container holding the water can be glass, plastic, or acrylic. The water can be fresh, salt, or brackish water. Except for the simplest aquariums, they usually have a filter, light, water pump and a heater, in the case of tropical aquaria.
A fluorescent light should be used in planted aquariums, as an incandescent light will be unable to provide the light that plants need for photosynthesis. Specialised fluorescent lights will further enhance plant photosynthesis.
Another important consideration when setting up an aquarium is the gravel that's chosen for the tank. Colored gravels in unnatural colors such as pink, purple, or orange contain dyes that are potentially damaging to fish, while natural stone gravels are often acceptable if thoroghly rinsed beforehands.
Specialized gravel can be bought at a premium price (usually at least four times more than natural stone gravel) but is known to enhance plant growth and the health of the fish. Glass beads, when smooth, are also acceptable once thoroughly rinsed.
Depending on the type of fish, you may need to adjust the type of water (fresh, salt, brackish), the temperature and the size of the aquarium. If your tap water has chlorine or fluoride added to it when it is treated, do not add it directly to the aquarium. Pet store sell additives which will allow you to use tap water, or in many cases, if you just let it sit out for over 24 hours, you can use it. For fish that need brackish or salt water, make sure you add the correct amount. (Brackish water occurs where the sea and fresh water meet.
In European countries, the fashion for aquariums tends to be towards "planted aquariums", where the focus is on the lush greenery and plant life in lieu of featuring brightly colored, interesting fish. These aquariums will often include specialized systems that add carbon dioxide to the water to make the dense foliage and plant life possible. In these cases, very few fish are added, if any.
It is important to take into account the pH of the water. Different fishes have an affinity to different pH.
An aquarium can also be turned into a terrarium.
It's common to see guidance about how many fish can live in an aquarium in terms of fish-inches per gallon. However, this can be a very misleading way to calculate the number of fish that can live in a tank. A tank that can hold a 6 inch long fish with room for it to move around, can probably hold far more than 6 one inch long fish like guppies.
- FishGeeks - Tropical Fish Supersite
- Association of Zoos and Aquariums
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Frequently Asked Questions
- Aquarium Life
The following are commercial sites. No endorsement is intended by listing them here and each has information or tips for aquarium care included.