How to Choose the Right Tank for You

Whether it’s a small betta tank on your desk at work, or a giant 10-foot aquarium in the middle of a waiting room, there’s a tank for everyone.

So what tank is right for you? There are 3 main things to consider:

  1. How much space you have for the aquarium.
  2. How much time you have for maintenance.
  3. How much you are willing to spend to keep your aquarium maintained.


It’s all well and good to want the biggest aquarium available, but you still have to have a place to put it. A 500-gallon aquarium won’t fit well in an apartment or a small living room.

Likewise, you don’t want to order a custom tank and realize that you could have gone bigger when it’s finally installed.

You also need to consider who will be caring for the fish tank. Most hobbyists prefer to do it themselves, but a office or a larger home aquarium will require professional care.

When considering how large to build a custom tank or order a standard sized one, there should be room for the hobbyist or technician to access the lights and automatic feeders up above the tank as well as room for a step-stool near the stand to clean inside the tank. And remember that someone also needs to get inside the cabinetry to change the filters and monitor the ultraviolet sterilizer, chiller, and pumps.

There should also be room to move large buckets or rolling vats to do water changes, and access to a water source to refill the tank. Do you have a place to dump the dirty aquarium water? Smaller tanks are easy to empty and refill from a nearby sink, but larger tanks require a dedicated place to empty the dirty water and refill the aquarium.

Once you’ve identified the place you want your aquarium to go, measure it. Your custom aquarium designer will be able to guide you to the right size and style of aquarium if they have precise measurements and pictures of the room.


How much time are you willing to give to this aquarium? If you’re a hobbyist, then you will probably be working on your aquarium a couple of times a week (depending on the size of the tank).

However, if you don’t have much time and you still want to care for the tank yourself, you have a couple of options.

You can minimize the amount of time spent on the tank by using an automatic feeder, using fake decor instead of live plants and coral, and opting for a smaller tank.

For example, a 5-gallon betta aquarium with a filter, heater and fake plants is much easier to care for than a 125-gallon tropical aquarium with live plants. Water changes will be quicker, the fake plants can be easily cleaned, the smaller filter is quickly replaced, and the glass is easier to access and clean.

By contrast, while a larger tank can certainly hold a wider variety of fish and plant or reef life, it takes more time to do water changes, wipe down the inside of the tank, prune live plants, arrange coral, add fertilizer, target-feed your invertebrates, change filters, monitor the plumbing and electrical systems, and test the water parameters.

For a smaller space like a dresser, kitchen counter or desk you should consider a 5-gallon tank that has a built-in filter and room for a heater. This type of aquarium is ideal for freshwater fish like bettas, small amounts of fancy guppies, African dwarf frogs, snails, and shrimp.

Nano-cubes are also ideal for small spaces if you want a saltwater tank but don’t have a lot of space. They are small aquariums that are perfect for nano-reef setups, like a single anemone and a pair of clownfish, or some false coral and a handful of colorful damselfish.

If you want a larger aquarium but don’t have the time to care for it yourself, you can always hire a professional crew. Custom Marine Aquaria offers custom-built aquariums as well as professional services to clean and maintain all sizes of aquariums, so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy.


While caring for a betta fish might be cheaper than caring for a cat or a dog, there is still some upkeep required, more so for larger tanks and especially for saltwater aquariums.

If you’re looking to keep your budget small, freshwater fish are the way to go. Bettas are the perfect starter fish and don’t need a lot of work to keep healthy. Goldfish, while simple to care for, need larger tanks because they grow quickly and output more waste than most freshwater fish.

Smaller aquariums like 5-gallon betta tanks with built-in filters will start around $20-$30. Then you have to add an inch of substrate to the bottom of the tank, as well as plants and decor for hiding and a heater for the cooler months. Starting up a small tank can cost around $100 for all the initial supplies, not including the fish.

However, once you get started the monthly cost is much more manageable. Replacement filters, food, medication and the occasional new piece of decor will keep your costs low.

If you’re looking to add a big new tank to your home or office, then the costs will be substantially more. Building a custom aquarium usually starts around $1500 for the aquarium itself, and that’s before the canopy, stand, cabinetry, lighting, plumbing, filtration and other maintenance factors are accounted for. Even a smaller custom aquarium, about 140-gallons, can cost $2200 for an older model.

Then you have to account for the kind of aquarium you want to maintain: Freshwater, Saltwater – Fish Only or Saltwater Reef. Saltwater fish are generally more expensive than freshwater fish, and invertebrates, specialty fish like eels, and corals will cost a pretty penny.

That’s not to say that saltwater aquariums are impossibly expensive. Once the aquarium has been set up, it’s very easy to have a colorful variety of fish with false coral for a very reasonable monthly expense.

All in all, each aquarium is as unique as its hobbyist. If you’re looking to design a custom aquarium to fit your space then Custom Marine Aquaria is the team you want. From start to finish, our designer will work to find the best fit for your vision, your space and your budget. We also offer professional cleaning services to keep your aquarium as vibrant as the day it was installed. Contact us for a free quote and get your dream started!

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