Aquariums - The Right Choice For You
It goes without saying that the most important piece of equipment you need to keep fish is an aquarium.
In the past the choices were very limited, but there are now a huge range of aquariums available, in many shapes and sizes and made from a variety of materials.
In this section we take a brief look at the most common types available and examine the benefits and drawbacks of each one.
Glass AquariumThis is the standard material that has been used to make aquariums for many years.
It is still the most popular form of tank, with good reason.
The major benefit of glass is that although it is not impossible, it is a very difficult material to scratch. Another advantage is that glass does not discolour with age unlike other materials such as acrylic.
Whilst it is true that glass can be smashed this would have to be a considerable force to break a well constructed aquarium.
Probably the biggest drawback for a glass aquarium is that it is comparatively heavy when empty.
A standard sized glass aquarium is the ideal choice for a beginner.
Acrylic AquariumAcrylic aquarium have a few advantages over their glass counterparts, perhaps the most important being that they are much lighter. This may well be an advantage when you are moving an empty tank, but as the majority of an aquariums weight is the water and substrate, once it is filled the benefit is not so great.
Due to its nature acrylic can be easily molded into a different shapes that would be difficult or impossible to do with glass, this can make for interesting tank designs.
One of the major drawbacks with acrylic tanks is that they can get scratched, not just by those on the outside but also the aquarium's inhabitants. Whilst you can purchase kits to polish the scratch these can only be used on the outside.
Wall Mounted AquariumA wall mounted aquarium is ideal if you do not have the floor space for a normal tank. They can also be very decorative and brighten up dark areas. As they are normally at eye level the tanks also offer great viewing of the fish.
One drawback is that they are not very wide so this limits the size of fish that you can keep.
Another practicality to consider is that after being filled with water, even a small tank will be heavy, so you must be very careful that the wall is strong enough to support the weight. You should also make sure that it is securely fixed.
Plastic AquariumWhilst these are very light when empty, they are normally very small and also scratch easily.
They are also not normally designed to be used with lighting or with a proper hood.
Goldfish BowlThe traditional goldfish bowl has been used to keep fish for many years, but it is not recommended.
Due to its shape there is a relatively small surface area, which does not allow enough absorption of oxygen. Also the capacity of water it holds is very small, meaning the water will foul easily and suffer from temperature fluctuations.
The use of goldfish bowls has actually been made illegal in some countries.
Other Aquarium TypesThere is a wide range of strange shaped and novelty tanks available. Some of these are designed for children while others are for the interior designer.
If you are contemplating buying one of these you should look at the practicalities especially cleaning.