What is Fish Keeping


Fish or aquarium keeping is a hobby that attracts people from all over the world. Many Aquarist remain happy keeping one aquarium in their den. They enjoy looking at the fish and the calmness that brings. Others get infected by what in the hobby is know as Multiple tank syndrome (MTS) and keep an ever increasing number of aquariums. It is not unusual for a fish keeper to dedicate an entire room to the hobby and keep 100s of aquariums.

It is very important that fish keeping is a hobby that includes other living creatures that needs care. Never get an aquarium if you do not have time to care for your fish. Keeping fish does not have to take a lot of time. 5 minutes a day are enough most days. Once every week or every other week you will need to clean the aquarium and change some of the water. This usually takes less than an hour.

Can be easy or challenging

Keeping fish in aquariums can be very easy or very challenging. Most beginners are best of choosing fish that are very hardy to care for. As you gain experience you can keep ever more challenging fish. This keeps the hobby interesting and rewarding. With more than 30 000 know fish species there will always be new experiences to be had.

Fresh or saltwater

Two distinct different areas of fish keeping is freshwater and saltwater fish keeping. Freshwater fish keeping is a lot easier and a lot cheaper. This is the bet option for someone who want to start keeping fish. There are a number of hardy saltwater fish that beginners can keep but a saltwater aquarium requires more and more expensive equipment than a freshwater aquarium. You can use any size aquarium regardless of whether you want to set up a freshwater aquarium or not.


Most fish keepers who keep fish for an extended period will specialize and start keeping mainly fish of a certain type, belonging to a certain family or originating from a certain area. I am not saying that they will keep exclusively these fish but they will keep mainly these fish. Examples of common specialization includes fish specializing on Cichlids, Betta fish or Catfish. Other fish keepers prefer to focus on species from south America, Africa or predatory fish keepers. Different specialties requires different types of tankls and different skill levels. Some specialties are cheap and easy. Others are harder and a lot more expensive. As an example can be mentioned that if you want to keep large predatory fish species you will need large expensive aquariums.

Getting started

If you want to start keeping fish then I recommend that you buy a 20 gallon tank or bigger. A smaller tank than that is a lot harder to care for and aquariums are easier to care for and require less work the larger they get. This might seem contra-intuitive but is true. A large aquarium will offer more stable water conditions and require less frequent water changes. If you can afford it then I would recommend that you buy a 55 gallon. That will allow you to keep a wider selection of fish and will make it easier to care for the tank. Petco regularely offer $1/gallon sales which can be an excellent opportunity to buy a cheap large tank. Never buy fish from Petco. They take poor care of their fish and they are often sick. The chance that your fish will die is a lot higher if you get them from Petco than if you get them from a better source.

You can get a tank kit that contains all the equipment you need as well as the tank. This equipment will work well for a community aquarium and you can upgrade it later if you want to use better equipment.

Buying a used aquarium can be a great way to get a cheap tank. Most second hand aquariums are great buys. I have personally never bought a tank new.

Plants or no plants

When you start planing your first tank you will need to decide whether you want to keep a planted or un-planted tank. Both options have their benefits. Aquatic plants will help control algae by consuming the nutrients in the water and can give your aquarium a more natural look. They also give the fish places to hide and some species like to spawn in plants.

The drawback of keeping plants is that they require pruning and you will need remove dead leaves etc from the tank. It is easier to keep an aquarium with no plants at all but it can look a little empty. There are plenty of websites out there that can teach you more about the benefits and drawbacks of keeping plants.

Community tank?

You will also need to start planning what fish you want to keep. Which species you decide to keep will affect how the aquarium should be decorated. A community aquarium is the most common choice for a first aquarium. A community aquarium is an aquarium that mix several different species together. As a beginner you should be looking to keep easy to care for fish like guppy, platy, different gouramis and angelfish. There are hundreds of different suitable species on the market.

The better you plan your aquarium the easier it is to setup an aquarium where all the fish thrive and that is easy to keep and care for.


Keeping an aquarium is a cheap hobby but you do have to buy an aquarium and suitable equipment. You can as earlier mention buy everything used. You will also have to buy fish food and pay for the electricity that the equipment use. How much this is can vary depending on tank size but it will not be too costly since most aquarium equipment is very energy efficient.