Your First Fish Aquarium

Article by Peggie Gatto

If you go online and do a search for tips on starting your first fish aquarium you might feel a bit overwhelmed. So many things to consider: nitrogen cycles, maintenance, testing water, don’t overfeed, are my fish compatible, and on it goes. Having a fish aquarium is a responsibility that must be understood before you jump in, however, it is not as complicated as it may seem.


First you need to decide what kind of fish you want. This will dictate the size of the tank. Do you want freshwater fish or tropical? Research the fish you want and try to find a couple of types of fish that are compatible with them or ask at your local pet store. You don’t want to overcrowd your tank, but a couple of different varieties will be fine.


Since this is your first aquarium it is recommended to get a tank that is between 10 and 20 gallons. It might seem wise to buy a 5 gallon (or smaller) for your first tank, however, the smaller the tank, the harder to keep the water balanced. In larger aquariums there is more margin for error and the problems can be fixed before fish start dying. There are plenty of kits to choose from so take your time and make the choice that will work best for you.


Believe it or not, fish like it natural. That hot pink gravel is fun, but it is not the wisest choice. Stick to natural decorations for your aquarium. Plastic plants are better for first timers. Live plants are more difficult as they also change the chemical balance of the water. Rocks are beautiful landscape items but make sure there are no sharp edges your fish can get hurt on.


After you fill your new aquarium you will need to let it sit for at least 2 days to a week. The water needs to settle and filter through before you add fish. As excited as you are about adding fish, waiting will help ensure that the fish you finally purchase will live. Also, when you do add fish, only add about 2 at a time. Give them a day or two to settle and the water to adjust then add a couple more. Repeat this process until you have the fish varieties you want to complete your vision.

You will also need to change the water every so often. Rule of thumb is to change 1/3 of the water once a month as regular maintenance.

Another important maintenance procedure is to check the water once a month with testing strips. This is a necessary step to make sure the water is balanced properly in your aquarium. The sooner you catch any imbalances the better, as you can adjust the water. So make sure to buy a water testing kit when you first purchase your tank.

That is the about it. If you want to know anything more in depth you can either go online or ask your new friends at the local pet store.

Fish aquariums are a lot of fun. Once you get the maintenance procedures down you will find it to be quite an easy and relaxing hobby – and one you and your children will thoroughly enjoy as a family!

Written by Peggie Gatto