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Guide to Setting up a Mini Fish Aquarium

Updated on August 14, 2011

Your goldfish needs a home renovation. Despite the commonly used goldfish bowls, they can be quite an unhealthy living environment for many small fish. Goldfish bowls were popularized many decades ago, long before low-cost but highly efficient fish tank accessories and supplies became widely available. Nowadays, there are many cheap ways to upgrade Goldie's bowl into a great looking mini fish aquarium. These will make life better and healthier for any goldfish or other smaller fish that are kept by many aquarium hobbyists. Are you ready to upgrade that goldfish bowl and setup a mini fish aquarium equipped with high quality accessories?

The most important accessories to consider when starting your a fish tank for your mini fish include a filter, aquarium lights, and an aquarium heater (though they are not recommended for goldfish). These fish tank supplies help simulate the natural environment your fish would have evolved in. After setting up a mini fish aquarium with these accessories, you will be rewarded with healthier fish sporting brighter colors.

Bettas in a new mini fish aquarium

Mini Fish Aquariums - How To Set Them Up

Aquarium filters serve many functions in a fish tank, especially a mini fish aquarium (but not mini reef aquariums; that`s a whole other topic!). Besides circulating and aerating the water, a filter provides up to three types of filtration – mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. Mechanical filtration helps by removing both visible wastes and tiny particulate waste produced by the fish. Biological filtration is achieved by the filter providing significant surface area for large numbers of beneficial bacteria. These good bacteria help by breaking ammonia down into nitrite then nitrate which are less toxic to aquarium life. Chemical filtration such as activated carbon removes odors and other organic and non-organic chemicals from the water column. A quality filter should be able to provide all 3 types of filtration for a mini fish aquarium.

Aquarium lighting is a beneficial feature in any small aquarium. In nature, mini fish experience the natural changes in light levels over the days and seasons as well. In an aquarium, fish are sometimes not provided any lighting. Any fish will benefit from some amount of aquarium lighting. Most aquarium fish will appreciate artificial light being added to their environment. In most cases an incandescent bulb or a compact fluorescent light is all that is needed to achieve sufficient lighting for a mini fish aquarium.

Mini Fish Aquarium Setup Continued

If the natural changes of the seasons are not going to be mimicked (by increasing the length of light in the summer and decreasing as winter approaches), then approximately 12 hours of lighting will be great! If one is keeping aquarium plants, then proper research on the amount, quality, and type of light required by the specific plants is recommended to help increase the chance of success.

If keeping tropical fish, then a heater is likely needed. Though there are some exceptions, many small freshwater fish will do well in a mini fish aquarium that is heated to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For small fish tanks, submersible heaters are the best way to heat the water without worrying about having a big, ugly heater in view. They are often easily hidden by placing them behind suitable aquarium plants or decorations near the back of the fish tank.

When setting up a mini fish aquarium, it is best to have all the supplies and accessories purchased before the fish are bought. The aquarium should ideally be setup and run for several days to a week to allow the biological filtration sufficient time to stabilize before a bio-load of fish is added to your mini aquarium. Welcome to the hobby of fish keeping!


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    • clefty profile image

      clefty 6 years ago from Canada

      Thanks Kelly! I do like to think I know what I am talking about :)

    • profile image

      Kelly 7 years ago

      I hope people click on this article before they go perusing those bogus How-To's on betta vases! I keep 4 aquariums and this guy knows what he is talking about.

    • profile image

      Clefty 8 years ago

      Yep most people don't realize that bettas do, in fact, need a heated aquarium if the temperature in the room isn't warm enough. The Hydor ones are great for small tanks!

    • healthgoji profile image

      healthgoji 8 years ago

      Great information - my daughter has one of these round mini fish aquarium's where she keeps her Beta fish named Luke. She had to go to a heater to keep the water warm enough.