Setting Up A Mini Aquarium

In setting up an aquarium, a major mistake that people usually make are choosing much too small a tank and overpopulating it by putting in too many fishes. Both big and small aquariums have their good and bad. Most of the time, aquarium shops staff can usually give you suggestions and aid you in your choice, but they are still salesmen and will tend to suggest more than what you really need.


If you have a budget in mind, consider as well that you need to get other accessories such as the filter and not just the tank. Consider also if you wish to put in plants and gravel. An aquarium being a mini ecosystem cannot be set up in a modular fashion depending on when you have the budget. By the time you decide to put in the filter, the built up toxins would have wiped out your fish population.


If you already know what fish you would like to have, choose the aquarium big enough according to their necessities. Remember that some fishes grow quite large and would not be suitable for mini aquariums. The smaller sized species like bettas, tetras and some barbs would be most suitable for mini aquariums. If you do not have any idea at all, consider where you wish to place it, the space available or how much money you want to spend. If an aquarium is too small, pH values and ammonia levels tend to fluctuate more due the small amount of water while the bio filter is stabilising during the first few weeks.

Big aquariums on the other hand may require more maintenance, cleaning the gravel and caring for the plants. They also need bigger space as well as bigger filters and so forth.

Most mini aquariums come as a set which already includes the gravel, filter and lighting although the plants usually tend to be plastic. Of course, you can always replace them with real plants.


There are a lot of accessories meant for aquariums in shops, anyway not all are necessary. A well working aquarium needs:

1. A good filter.
This is essential even if you have nothing else in the tank. Even if you plan to have just one fish, a filter is needed to clean the water and not just the clarity but the chemicals as well.

2. Water Test Kits
The essential tests kits you will need will be one for pH and another for ammonia, nitrates and nitrites. Most kits tests can test for all three for ammonia, nitrates and nitrites together.

3. Illumination.
If you plan to have plants, they will need proper illumination. Keeping the aquarium near a window is good enough usually but this tends to encourage moss and algae growth. Plastic plants are not only expansive, useless and ugly but the fish can accidentally eat them and get sick. Illumination also brings out the colour in the fish.

4. Water heater / Thermostat / Thermometer.
These are necessary only for exotic or marine fish. You do not need these for most freshwater fish. Besides, under normal conditions the temperature does not change too rapidly as to be a danger to the fish.


Decorations depend on personal tastes, but choose only natural decorations instead of plastic.

For the ground, choose sand or small gravel, which has more resistance to dirt. Big gravel and stones can spoil plants roots and may injure your fish. They will also look odd in a mini aquarium. It is also always a good idea to add some but not too much shells or dead corals. The calcium balances fish faeces and decaying food and plants which tends to turn the water acidic


There are many other products for aquariums and some of them can be really expansive but only a few of them are really necessary. One thing worth mentioning however is Activated Carbon. This helps to clean and stabilize the water before the biological filtration has kicked in. You can do without this through frequent and regular checks of the chemical levels but they do come in handy especially for beginners. Note though that using activated carbon can give a false negative reading when testing for the said chemical levels.

You should be able to find a mini aquarium to fit your budget and desired size at our store.

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