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The Personalized Freshwater Aquarium

Updated on December 19, 2018
Aquatic Guru profile image

A freshwater aquarium hobbyist of 40 plus years.Keeper and breeder of over 20 species of tropical fish.

An Aquarium Masterpiece

Setting up your own aquarium is a lot of work indeed. It doesn't have to be tedious work though because if you take your time it can be a lot of fun. Think of your new aquarium as a work of art! This new aquarium can be a masterpiece of original ideas and branded with your very own personal touch.

A very well planned and thought out design with a lot of patience will result in an aquarium that you can beam pridefully about with each compliment it receives. We shall, in the following paragraphs, take a look at some of the many options you have as a basic setup and also discuss a bit about that personal touch that only you can incorporate into your aquarium design.

Type of Tank

Aquariums come in many shapes and sizes. There are tanks that are tall and some that are long or octagonal or round etc. etc.. Make sure you have a stand or something solid that can handle the weight of the tank. Tanks can be made from scratch if you do the research and build it correctly. Custom shops can build a tank with your specifications if you want to pay the money to have it done for you. Aquarium kits can be bought that include the basic startup necessities for a descent price. Do some shopping around and get the one you really want . The pictures below show a 10 gallon tank with live plants and a 44 gallon corner tank. These are not the sharpest pics but it will give you an idea of just a couple of different shapes that aquariums come in. What theme do you have in mind and which type of tank would work best for that theme. The most important thing in the theme would be what type of fish you want to keep in the tank. You can do this one of two ways, choose the tank size based on the type of fish you want or choose the fish size based on what type of tank you want. Research the fish because some can grow very large and be active and need space and some stay small and can live very comfortable in a smaller tank. One word of advice is to get the largest tank that fits in your budget and that your floor will support. Larger tanks are easier to maintain believe it or not and water parameters are more stable in larger tanks. One thing to keep in mind is that water weighs 8.34 pounds per U.S Gallon so a 20 gallon tank with just water alone will weigh 167 pounds rounded up. Add the substrate, equipment and decoration and you can see that even a smaller tank can get heavy quickly. I once figured the weight of my 44 gallon corner tank at a whopping 475 pounds including the stand. Thinking it through in the beginning can save you a lot of trouble down the road. My two keywords for you will be planning and research.

Rectangular | Source
44 Gallon Corner Tank
44 Gallon Corner Tank | Source

Aquarium Substrate

Another important decision in your setup will be substrate. You will have a few options here as well. There are several types of substrate and each one has its own pros and cons. I will give you a few ideas and again I strongly urge you to do some research before you set up your new fish tank and decide you don't have the best substrate for it.

The most commonly used substrate has been and still is gravel. This substrate comes in different sizes, shapes and colors and is very easy to use. Rinse it well with water to remove the dust and any foreign material and place it in your tank. Sand is another type of substrate to consider as it also comes in different grain size and several colors. I currently use sand in a 29 gallon long tank and have been very pleased with it. Dirt is another choice if you want live rooted plants. You do not have to use dirt though for a nice planted tank. There are a number of plants that will grow nicely in gravel and sand and other substrate. Fluorite is a type of porous clay that can be used in freshwater tanks and can be layered underneath or mixed with gravel . One other option is no substrate at all. I do not use substrate in birthing or hatching tanks because of the extra maintenance that goes on when growing the fry to young adult. I use live floating plants or use plant anchors so as to give the baby fish a place for shelter and the tiny organisms that live in live plants are a source of food for the fry. You can use the same method in any tank really its up to you. So there you have a few options to look into and research.

One thing to consider is that if you plan to keep bottom dwellers like Cory Catfish try to use something smooth like sand or smooth gravel that will be easy on their barbels. They do a lot of rooting around in the substrate and sharp gravel can damage this sensitive area around the mouth. Be considerate as to which type of substrate will work best with the type of fish you decide to keep.

No Substrate Breeding Tank of Koi Swords
No Substrate Breeding Tank of Koi Swords | Source

Aquarium Equipment

I will not get too detailed here rather just mention some things to get you thinking. You will need some basic equipment to keep your new creation running smoothly and the options concerning equipment are just phenomenal. Research will be extremely important when it comes to filters, lighting, heaters and thermometers. Also the type of test kit you need to keep your water parameters ideal is important. Tons of choices here depending on what type of tank size and what type of fish you want to keep and if you want a planted tank or artificial plants or both.

My advice on equipment comes down to this. Get the best equipment that your budget will allow. Trust me it pays off in the long run.

A Personal Touch

There you have it in a nut shell . Yes lots of options to consider no doubt but as we discussed earlier the choices are yours to make for the most part. With all the options you have you are free to imagine and be creative. Think outside the box and don't be afraid to try something different. If we all used the same ideas for designing our fish tanks it would be a bit boring for sure. I have a friend who took a 55 gallon tank and divided it with plexiglass dividers about 4 inches tall into 3 sections.He then took pieces of driftwood and cut grooves in them so that they fit down over the plexiglass dividers. The dividers were not straight but in 2 pieces held in place with epoxy at different angles. Each section had a different color substrate and a different type of live plant. Let me say that it was a very beautiful aquarium and one that I thought was unique because you just don't see that very often. It had to be carefully cleaned with a smaller gravel vacuum so as not to mix the substrates but was worth the extra time it took to keep it clean.

Saltwater tanks have just as many options and are beautiful when setup with thoughtful planning.

Best of Luck with your personalized masterpiece!


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