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Choosing a Goldfish Aquarium - Bowl or Tank?

Updated on January 25, 2011

Keeping goldfish has - fortunately -come a long way since the days when you brought a goldfish back from the fair in a plastic bag and tipped it into small goldfish bowl! These old-fashioned goldfish bowls had a very narrow neck, which prevented the water from absorbing sufficient oxygen. They also had no capacity for filtration. Until recently, a rectangular tank, which could be both aerated and filtered, was the only responsible option.

Modern goldfish bowls

Improvements in aquarium technology have led to the development of 'all-in-one' goldfish bowls with a built-in air pump and filtration system, thus solving the aeration and filtration problems of old-fashioned goldfish bowls.

Glass and plastic aquariums

The most common and adaptable tank is still the long, rectangular aquarium. Other shapes are available, for example units that will fit into a corner, but tall, narrow ones are best avoided, as these offer little swimming room for fish or surface area for oxygenation. Modern aquariums may be made from glass or acrylic. All-glass tanks are strong and easily cleaned. Acrylic tanks are virtually indestructible, though they do scratch easily, but they tend to be available only in smaller sizes. They are also more expensive than glass ones.

Aquarium hoods

A secure and ventilated cover for the tank will prevent fish leaping out and cats or children sticking their paws or hands in! It will also reduce water loss by evaporation. Many tanks now come with an integrated hood that incorporates fluorescent lighting tubes.

Avoid old tanks

Old tanks may be faulty, particularly if they are metal framed. If you do acquire one, though, make sure you seal joints with silicone before use and seek advice on cleaning it.

Locating the Tank - health and safety

Choosing where to place the aquarium is very important. Obviously, you will want to find a position for it where you can enjoy watching your fish on a regular basis. But you will also need to consider not only the health of the fish, but also the safety and wellbeing of your home and its occupants, particularly if you have young children.

Stands and cabinets

Once filled with water, an aquarium is very heavy and most domestic furniture won't be able to support its weight. It is worth investing in a purpose-built stand or cabinet, which will have the added advantages of providing a useful baseboard or shelf on which to house an external filter or other equipment and of raising the tank to a suitable viewing height.

Whether or not you use a stand, you will need to ensure that the aquarium base is completely level to prevent stress to the glass. Many aquariums come with a 'floating base', where a built-in frame supports the tank bottom, while others will need to be cushioned with a thick sheet of polystyrene.

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