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Starting An Aquarium

Updated on January 26, 2014

Starting an Aquarium


In February of 2012 my brother gave me a 29 gallon aquarium.

I have kept an aquarium before, but it was a simple, small five gallon affair that took little to maintain. This one was a much larger 29 gallon one.

That meant I could have MORE fish, but it also meant a little more work. I had never set up a large aquarium before. I had so many decisions to make. Even though I had kept the small aquarium before, and even currently had a wonderful Betta fish named Eastwood, I suddenly felt like a NOOB in the land of water and fishes.


So, I thought I would start a lens, chronicling my journey in setting up my new aquarium, and maybe it would be helpful for those keeping an aquarium for the first time.


All photos (excluding images on any module links) on this lens were taken by Winona Morris or Robert Morris (her husband) unless otherwise attributed. ©2013 to present


What you need to start a cold water aquarium

1. An aquarium of a size suitable to you and your home.

2. A stand of a size suitable to hold and support your aquarium.

3. A pump/filter to help keep your aquarium water clean.

4. A Hood/Light system to fit your aquarium.

5. Decorations.

6. Fish

Is a home Aquarium for you?

Some people love them, some people hate them, where do you stand?

Do you have an aquarium?

See results

The Aquarium

Without it you can't have one.

Obviously you can't set up a home aquarium without having the actual aquarium.

The aquarium is no longer just the glass rectangle it used to be. You can find them in all shapes and sizes. They come in glass AND plastic. You can get tiny ones for desktops, wall sized ones, or even aquariums made to fit in a corner of the house instead of along a wall.

My very FIRST aquarium was a 5 gallon mini-bow tank.

The one that I have is a 29 gallon aquarium of the old glass rectangle variety, and I'm perfectly okay with that.

(photo coming soon)

Starter Kits - All in one

You can often find aquarium "starter kits" that come with everything you need, except for a stand and the fish of course.

These are a good place to start if you have never kept an aquarium before. It doesn't leave a lot of room for bargain hunting an customizing your tank, but its convenient.

The Stand

Holding your Aquarium

It is imporant to have a solid stand under your aquarium. No matter what size aquarium you get, its going to be heavy when its full of rocks and water.

You must pick out a stand that not only supports the ENTIRE aquarium without putting too much pressure on the bottom glass, but it must also be able to support the weight of a full aquarium. (See list below for common dimensions and empty/full weights of different aquariums)

I STRONGLY suggest buying a stand built specifically for aquariums. In the event that you can not find a stand locally to fit your needs (as I could not) you should find a piece of STRONG furniture that can hold the weight of your fully loaded aquarium.

The picture here is the desk that I currently holding my aquarium. It took me 3 days of looking to find something strong enough to hold my tank.

Common Sizes and Weights

Each line below will be in this order:

Size (Gallons) L x W x H Weight (empty) Weight (water-filled)

5 Gallon 16" x 8" x 10" 7 lbs 62 lbs

10 Gallon Leader 20" x 10" x 12" 11 lbs 111 lbs

10 Gallon Long 24" x 8" x 12" 16 lbs 116 lbs

10 Gallon Hexagon 14" x 12" x 18" 12 lbs 110 lbs

15 Gallon 24" x 12" x 12" 21 lbs 170 lbs

15 Gallon High 20" x 10" x 18" 22 lbs 170 lbs

15 Gallon Show 24" x 8" x 16" 22 lbs 170 lbs

20 Gallon High 24" x 12" x 16" 25 lbs 225 lbs

20 Gallon Long 30" x 12" x 12" 25 lbs 225 lbs

20 Gallon Hexagon 18" x 16" x 20" 23 lbs 220 lbs

25 Gallon 24" x 12" x 20" 32 lbs 282 lbs

29 Gallon 30" x 12" x 18" 40 lbs 330 lbs

30 Gallon Breeder 36" x 18" x 12" 48 lbs 348 lbs

35 Gallon Hexagon 23" x 20" x 24" 43 lbs 390 lbs

40 Gallon Breeder 36" x 18" x 16" 58 lbs 458 lbs

40 Gallon Long 48" x 12" x 16" 55 lbs 455 lbs

45 Gallon 36" x 12" x 24" 66 lbs 515 lbs

45 Gallon Long 48" x 12" x 19" 60 lbs 510 lbs

50 Gallon 36" x 18" x 19" 100 lbs 600 lbs

55 Gallon 48" x 13" x 21" 78 lbs 625 lbs

60 Gallon Hexagon 27" x 24" x 29" 110 lbs 750 lbs

65 Gallon 36" x 18" x 24" 126 lbs 772 lbs

75 Gallon 48" x 18" x 21" 140 lbs 850 lbs

90 Gallon 48" x 18" x 24" 160 lbs 1050 lbs

125 Gallon 72" x 18" x 21" 206 lbs 1400 lbs

150 Gallon 72" x 18" x 28" 338 lbs 1800 lbs

180 Gallon 72" x 24" x 25" 338 lbs 2100 lbs

A Pump/Filter

Every aquarium needs a pump/filter to help keep your aquarium water clean.

Pumps and filters clean the contaminates out of your water. Contaminates such as the ammonia build up from your fishes body waste.

They also help keep the water in your aquarium moving so that it isn't just sitting there going stagnate.

The type of pump/filter you use is up to you, but I've always used power filters that hang over the back of the aquarium.

On thing you MUST make sure of is that the filter can handle the size of aquarium you have. If you have a 20 gallon aquarium you don't want to have a 10 gal filter on it, it wont do any good.

I have a 29 gallon aquarium, and I purchased an AquaClear Power Filter that will filter UP TO a 50 gal aquarium.


Product image used from


After doing some research, I chose an AquaClear filter for my aquarium. So far it has worked PERFECTLY.

In fact it is still pumping merrily away after 2 years of use, and I hope to get many more years out of it.

AquaClear 50 Power Filter - 110 V, UL Listed (Includes AquaClear 50 Carbon, AquaClear 50 Foam & AquaClear 50 BioMax
AquaClear 50 Power Filter - 110 V, UL Listed (Includes AquaClear 50 Carbon, AquaClear 50 Foam & AquaClear 50 BioMax

This is the filter I chose for my aquarium. I use a 50 gallon filter on my 29 gallon aquarium, to help filter the ammonia from the goldfish I keep in there.

This pump pushes the aquarium water through 3 different filters.

It is important to remember when chancing the filter components, they should NEVER be changed at the same time. Change each part on a different month.

This helps keep a healthy level of bacteria in the filter and the tank, which is important for healthy fish-keeping.

Aquaclear 50-Gallon Foam Inserts, 3-Pack
Aquaclear 50-Gallon Foam Inserts, 3-Pack

The (bottom) foam layer of the filter Traps particles and debris.

This part should be changed every 2 months.

Aquaclear Activated Carbon Insert, 50-Gallon Aquariums, 3-Pack
Aquaclear Activated Carbon Insert, 50-Gallon Aquariums, 3-Pack

The (middle) carbon layer of the filter adsorbs odors, discoloration and impurities.

This should be replaced EVERY month.

Aquaclear 50-Gallon Ammonia Remover, 3-Pack
Aquaclear 50-Gallon Ammonia Remover, 3-Pack

The (top) ceramic layer of the filter is there for the removal of ammonia. (a problem in many aquariums, especially one housing goldfish or an over-populated tank.

This part of the filter should be replaced every 3 months.


A Hood and Light

No fish wants to be kept in the dark all of the time! Okay, maybe SOME fish do, but your aquarium fish wont. And it would also make it hard for you to see your pretty new friends.

Different kinds of lights are needed if you have a fresh water than a salt water tank. Different lights are also needed if you decide to have live plants in your aquarium or not.

For an aquarium like the one I set up (cold fresh water, no life plants) a low watt florescent bulb works great.

Aqueon Strip Light

Since my aquarium came with a hood that didn't have a light on it, I purchased an Aqueon Strip Light for it. It puts out PLENTY of light, and I'm pleased with my choice.


The height of aquarium fashion used to be a castle, or a treasure trest, or maybe even a diver, but

Natural or Fantastical?

Some people go for a natural look for their aquarium. Other people might opt to have decorations including dinosaurs, aliens or Spongebob.

Do you think Natural or Fun aquarium decorations are best?

Who Lives in a Pineapple With Your Fish

Spongebob Squarepants was MADE for aquarium fun!

Guestbook Comments

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    • profile image

      DavidMoses1986 3 years ago

      Aquarium Decoration products looks so great, thanks for sharing :)

    • profile image

      marsha32 3 years ago

      We always had a nice one with a variety of fish as I grew up....I've always wanted one as an adult.

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 3 years ago

      Love aquariums but unfortunately don't have space even for the smaller ones!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 3 years ago

      I haven't had my own aquarium in years, but always enjoy seeing them.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 4 years ago

      I have the space and the table picked out for an aquarium near my desk. I just need to come up with the cash to get it done. Trust me, I will get it eventually. I love being surrounded by live things and fish swimming around are perfect for that reason.

    • profile image

      marsha32 5 years ago

      We would love to have a nice aquarium....on our wishlist.