Custom Aquarium Design

Freshwater Fish-Only Aquarium Setup

Freshwater fish in a custom aquarium are generally less expensive than marine fish, making them the most common fish for hobbyists to start with. Many species of freshwater fish stay smaller than marine fish so smaller aquaria can be used as well. Freshwater aquariums can be set up in two ways, with live plants or without them. We will refer to an aquarium without live plants as a freshwater “fish-only” aquarium setup.

A freshwater fish-only setup will have four major components;

  • a filter
  • a heater/thermometer
  • gravel/decorations
  • a light

The filter should be chosen based on the size of the tank. The “bigger is better” rule applies here. It is not possible to over-filter a freshwater fish-only aquarium so choose the biggest filter you can afford or that will fit on your aquarium.

The heater should be sized by the wattage of the heater versus the water volume of the tank. You will need 3-5 watts of heat for every gallon of water. Most new heaters have temperature settings on them but these are not always precise. You should always have a separate thermometer to measure the aquarium temperature. A submersible glass thermometer will be more accurate than an external stick-on thermometer.

The gravel and décor can be anything you think looks attractive. Keep in mind that most fish require some type of shelter in order to feel safe and look their best so make sure to provide plenty of hiding places for your pets.

The light is of little significance in a fish-only aquarium. It is merely for displaying your fish and does not need to provide any energy for plant growth. Incandescent lights, which are less expensive than fluorescent lights, will be fine for this application although fluorescent lights tend to have a more attractive output spectrum. The light should never be left on for more than 10 hours per day. Fish have no eyelids therefore they cannot sleep well with the light on and will become stressed and possibly sick without a resting period. Since algae uses light to grow, you will also have increased algae growth if you leave the light on too long. Old light bulbs promote excessive algae growth as well. As they get older the output spectrum degrades and becomes more usable by algae for energy. Replacing bulbs yearly will keep this from happening.

Got questions? Contact the aquariums experts at Diamond Aquatics and we will be happy to help. Call 973-356-4434 today!