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The 10 Gallon Fish Aquarium | Home Fish Aquarium Guide

Home Fish Aquarium Guide

Fishkeeping Information and Resources for the Home Aquarium



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The 10 Gallon Fish Aquarium

The classic 10 gallon Fish Aquarium really is the ideal size for someone starting out with keeping fish in the home. Unfortunately so many of the starter kits that you see marketed are either fish bowls with MUCH less capacity than this, or 2.5 gallon or 5 gallon acrylic fish aquariums that are really nice looking and enticing for beginners, but most fish keepers will tell you that you really need at least a 10 gallon fish aquarium to start with and 20 gallons will be better.

So, WHY do they recommend a beginner have a larger fish aquarium? Well, it all comes back to the nitrogen cycle and getting the beneficial bacteria started in your tank. Let’s assume this is your absolute first fish tank and you get your fish in a 2.5 gallon tank and the ammonia starts building up. Well, it won’t take long before it’s at a toxic level in this new tank. The bacteria that process ammonia take time to establish in a large enough size to make an impact and although there are some additives that can help kick start the process, time is really the thing you need.

By contrast a 10 gallon tank with the same fish in it is 1/4 the toxicity. In other words, the same amount of ammonia is there, but due to having 10 gallons of water to dilute it in, the fish is much less likely to suffer the ill effects of such toxins in the water. That gives you time to allow the bacteria to establish. You can imaging how much better then a 20 gallon tank is. It is much more stable.

These aren’t the only reasons though. Larger amounts of water are more stable in other areas too. Quick changes are a good way to stress out fish. Whether it’s the temperature, ph, ammonia, nitrite levels or other water qualities. In smaller tanks adding a half gallon of water to top off the tank is going to affect the overall balance of the system much more than adding a half gallon of water to a larger tank. So, your larger tank helps to buffer against problems better.

The other advantage to the 10 and 20 gallon tanks is that many of the fish suggested for beginners really will be much happier in larger spaces. (Wouldn’t you?) I mean, your fish pet really needs some room to stretch their fins. Plus, if your new pet is a schooling fish then, you will really want the 20 gallon tank so that you can build up to an entire school of your starter fish instead of just having one or two.

But don’t they say one fish per gallon of water. Yes, but you wouldn’t want to put a mountain trout in 1 gallon of water…. which leads to the one inch of fish per gallon of water. So, do you want to put a 5 inch fish in your 5 gallon tank. (Or a 10 inch fish in a 10 gallon.) That is really just a rule of thumb and there are a lot of variables to keep in mind.

One thing about the internet is that you can find so much good information. So, I suggest you start reading about the fish that you want to keep and learn about what their habitat is, and get some ideas on the best suggestions of how to make them happy in a home aquarium environment. Look at what size fishtank aquarium seems to work best for this kind of fish and what other fish may be compatible. I suspect that you will find your chances of success are greater with the 10 gallon or larger tanks. Good luck!

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September 6, 2009 - 9:28 PM