Purchasing an Aquarium for a Teen or Child

Lovely little girl admiring fish in aquarium

If you are assisting a child or teenager with starting an aquarium, be sure to do your homework so they aren't set up for failure. Here's how to make the right choices.

Make a list of everything you need before you go shopping so you don't forget anything or buy stuff you don't need. Print off our aquarium gift-giving checklist, which includes everything you'll need in one place.

Tank Selection

A 20-gallon tank or more is suitable for beginners. If space or economics prevent this, keep the tank no lower than 10 gallons and choose tiny, resilient fish. Also, make sure your aquarium has an adequate aquarium stand. Water is heavy, and larger aquariums require additional support; they weigh more than a bookcase or cabinet can sustain, therefore you'll need an aquarium stand.

Is it better to go with glass or acrylic? Acrylic provides a number of advantages for youngsters, including the fact that it does not crack or break, weighs less than glass, and does not distort the image like glass. This is critical since youngsters will spend a lot of time looking at their tank from various perspectives.

Acrylic, on the other hand, scratches readily and is more costly than glass. If money isn't a problem, an acrylic tank is a good option. You won't have to worry about an errant baseball or other flying toy breaking the tank.


Brightly colored stones and decorations are popular among children and teens. While colored gravel is not the natural hue of the fish's habitat, it is nonetheless safe to use. Just make sure it's developed exclusively for aquariums. You may decorate according to the child's preferences. At the fish store, you may find mermaids, divers, dinosaurs, or castles, as well as more natural goods like rocks and caverns, and even sunken ships that are constructed expressly for aquarium usage. While real plants are fantastic for aquariums, they do require some maintenance, so starting with vivid plastic aquarium plants may be the simplest way to get started.

Buying Fish

Now comes your toughest test, as new aquarium owners, young and old alike, are eager to stock their tanks with as many fish as possible. It is never a good idea to buy fish on the same day as the tank. Before adding any fish, you should set up the aquarium at home, test the filter and lights, dechlorinate and aerate the water, and add good bacteria starter. Install the aquarium heater and set it to the proper temperature for tropical fish, which is generally between 74 and 78 degrees F.

Before adding fish, it's necessary to set up the tank, let it run for a day or two to stabilize and confirm everything is working properly. The startup-cycle does not begin until fish are introduced, therefore this first waiting period is not the startup-cycle. Sharing some basic information about aquarium wastes with enthusiastic youngsters while the tank is stabilizing will help them wait for their new fish.

It's time to get some fish when the aquarium is set up and working well. The most common faults new owners make are adding too many fish too soon and overfeeding them. A fresh aquarium should only have 2-3 fish at a time. Wait a week, then test the water quality (or bring a sample to your local fish store to be checked), and if it's good, add a few more fish. You should buy extra fish for your new aquarium during the course of the first 4-6 weeks.

Educate and Plan

Children in elementary school should be told that fish go to the bathroom in the water they live in, and that trash can hurt them. Explain that specific bacteria in the filter system and the gravel get rid of the wastes, but that it takes many weeks for the bacteria to grow large enough to do so. It's best to keep the tank small while they're developing and change the water frequently to get rid of the waste.

Students in middle and high school can grasp the in an aquarium, so take use of this chance to teach them about it. Many aquarium owners are ignorant of this crucial process, and as a result, they lose fish by introducing too many fish too soon, resulting in ammonia or nitrite toxicity.

When your tank is ready for fish, talk to your kids about the fish they want. Avoid fish that are huge, aggressive, or difficult to care for. Learn about the different tropical fish species, their sizes, and which fish may live together by reading aquarium books, periodicals, or internet articles. Before heading to the store, pick a few hardy beginning fish and then check what's available. To understand more about the fish they have, ask the store associate questions. Make sure you know how large each fish will get so you don't purchase one that will outgrow your tank.


"Aquarium Water Quality: Nitrogen Cycle. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services." ;