When choosing an aquarium, the height, the width, and even the length are very important. Standard glass aquariums from 20 to 55 gallons are typically 12” from front glass to back glass. When using artificial decoration this narrow width works well since there is a large assortment of sizes available. However stacking live rock in such a space will create an almost vertical rock wall that looks like a cliff. While the wall may appear adequate, wider aquariums (at least 18 inches wide front to back) allow for deep caves, ledges and a more appealing look. Wider tanks offer room to create an open sandy area in front of the rockwork in which fish can swim. Shallow aquariums (from top to bottom) make for easier cleaning and servicing than their deep counterparts, and also allow more intense light for sea anemones and corals opposed to deep aquariums. That said, our best choice is an aquarium 12” to 30” deep.
The length of an aquarium can create the WOW factor. When most people see an aquarium at least 6 feet long in a home, they say “WOW!” When choosing a drilled aquarium, plan for the equipment to be plumbed into a cabinet below it. A larger cabinet makes it easier to house, plumb and service the necessary equipment. Most saltwater hobbyists choose an aquarium three to six feet in length.
Here are a few common saltwater aquarium sizes:
65 gallons - 36” (L) x 18” (W) x 24” (H)
90 gallons - 48” (L) x 18” (W) x 24” (H)
120 gallons - 48” (L) x 24” (W) x 24” (H)
180 gallons - 72” (L) x 24” (W) x 24” (H)
210 gallons - 72” (L) x 24” (W) x 29” (H)
Acrylic aquariums are very popular and available in different shapes and sizes. These aquariums can be shaped as cubes, cylinders, bow-fronts - just about any shape you can imagine!
It is a good rule for a new saltwater fish keeper to purchase the largest aquarium their budget can afford, at least 29 gallons. Many hobbyists end up buying a second aquarium once they find out their first aquarium was too small.
Here are some benefits of a larger aquarium:
- Large aquariums are more stable than their smaller counterparts. Temperature and critical levels in large bodies of water do not fluctuate quickly.
- Large aquariums are more forgiving. If fish are overcrowded or overfed, there is more water to handle the mess.
- You can keep a larger variety of fish and invertebrates in a larger aquarium with many hiding places.
- You can keep large-sized fish.
- You can keep larger numbers of fish and/or schools of small fish.