General Types of Aquariums [Explained for Beginner Aquarists]

General Types of Aquariums [Explained for Beginner Aquarists]

One type of aquarium

There are many different types of aquariums, each with its own unique features and requirements.

In this guide, we will explore the three general types of aquariums and the fish that thrive in them.

So grab a cup of coffee and get ready to dive into the world of aquariums.

Here are the general types of aquariums that you should know about.

Freshwater Aquariums

Freshwater aquarium

Freshwater aquariums are the perfect choice for beginners who want to dive into the world of fishkeeping.

They have many advantages over saltwater aquariums.

First, they are easier to set up and maintain.

The equipment needed for these aquariums is affordable, and the maintenance requirements are less demanding.

This makes them ideal for those who are new to fishkeeping.

Second, freshwater fish come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.

They are also readily available and less expensive than their saltwater counterparts.

This allows you to create a diverse and vibrant community tank.

Third, many freshwater fish are hardy and forgiving.

Species like guppies, platies, and swordtails can tolerate minor changes in water conditions.

This makes them perfect for beginners who might not have mastered the art of maintaining a stable aquatic environment.

Lastly, freshwater fish are easy to breed. This allows you to sell or trade excess fish and experiment with different breeds.

There are two main types of freshwater aquariums: tropical and coldwater.

Each type requires different equipment and has its own unique selection of fish.

Freshwater Tropical Aquariums

Freshwater tropical aquariums are a popular choice for fish enthusiasts of all skill levels.

They allow you to create a vibrant underwater world with various species coexisting in harmony.

Tropical aquariums offer several advantages for both beginners and experienced aquarists.

First, they allow you to keep a diverse range of fish species. This helps you to create a colorful and lively community tank.

You can also set up a species-specific tank for aggressive fish like cichlids.

Second, tropical freshwater fish are generally inexpensive and easy to keep.

This makes them ideal for those who are new to fishkeeping or looking for low-maintenance pets.

Lastly, aquarium kits are readily available at pet stores and large retail stores.

They offer good value for money and make setting up your aquarium a breeze.

Essential Equipment for Tropical Aquariums

To set up a thriving tropical aquarium, you will need the following equipment:

  1. Tank: Choose a suitable-sized tank based on the number of fish and their adult size. Bigger tanks provide more stable water conditions.
  2. Filter: A high-quality filter removes waste and harmful elements, keeping the water clean and clear.
  3. Heater: Tropical fish require warm water. So a heater is necessary to maintain consistent water temperature.
  4. Hood: A hood helps prevent evaporation of the tank water and keeps curious pets from accessing the tank.
  5. Lighting: Proper lighting enhances the colors of your fish and promotes plant growth.
  6. Thermometer: It helps you monitor the water temperature to ensure it stays within the ideal range for your fish.
  7. Gravel, plants, and decorations: These help you customize your aquarium to suit your taste.

Popular Freshwater Tropical Fish Species

The following fish species are some of the popular choices for tropical aquariums:

  • Guppies: Hardy and easy to breed, guppies come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
  • Angelfish: Elegant and graceful, angelfish make a stunning addition to any aquarium. They do best in planted tanks with plenty of hiding spots.
  • Tetras: Small and colorful, tetras should be kept in groups for their well-being.
  • Bettas: Known for their vibrant colors and flowing fins, bettas can be territorial. However, you can keep them in community tanks with peaceful tankmates.
  • Barbs: Active and colorful, barbs are schooling fish that should be kept in groups of at least five or more.
  • Mollies: Mollies are livebearers that thrive in a community tank with plenty of plants.
  • Platies: Another livebearer, platies are peaceful and a great addition to any community tank.
  • Swordtails: With their unique sword-like tails, these fish are eye-catching and easy to care for.

Freshwater Coldwater Aquariums

Freshwater coldwater aquariums offer a unique and beautiful alternative to tropical aquariums.

They house species that prefer cooler water temperatures, creating a serene underwater world.

Coldwater aquariums are an excellent choice for those interested in keeping fish and aquatic creatures that thrive in lower temperatures.

These tanks need similar equipment to tropical aquariums but with less reliance on heating systems.

Since coldwater fish tend to be larger and consume more oxygen, it’s important to choose a larger tank.

This ensures that your aquatic pets have ample space and a healthy environment.

Coldwater fish and plants are harder to find, but specialty stores may be able to help you get them.

Essential Equipment for Coldwater Aquariums

To set up a successful coldwater aquarium, consider the following equipment:

  1. Tank: Select a larger tank to accommodate the big size and oxygen needs of coldwater fish.
  2. Hood: A hood helps prevent the evaporation of tank water and keeps debris and pets out of the tank.
  3. Filter: A quality filter removes waste and harmful elements, ensuring clean and clear water.
  4. Chiller (if needed): While extensive heating isn’t required for this type of aquarium, a chiller may be necessary to maintain lower temperatures in warmer rooms.
  5. Lighting: Proper lighting enhances the colors of your fish and supports plant growth.
  6. Thermometer: Monitor the water temperature to ensure it stays within the ideal range for your coldwater species.
  7. Gravel, plants, and decorations: Aquascape your aquarium with gravel, coldwater-compatible plants, and decorations that suit your style.

Popular Freshwater Coldwater Species

Following are some of the coldwater species that are great choices for coldwater aquariums:

  • Goldfish: Available in various shapes and colors, goldfish are classic coldwater fish that can grow quite large.
  • Koi: Known for their striking patterns, koi are large fish that need a spacious tank or pond.
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows: These small, peaceful fish are perfect for coldwater tanks since they thrive in cooler water.
  • Crabs: Freshwater crabs can be added to coldwater aquariums for a unique touch.
  • Snails: Snails help control algae and add interest to your aquarium. Some popular varieties include apple snails and mystery snails.

Saltwater or Marine Aquariums

Saltwater aquarium

Saltwater aquariums, also known as marine aquariums, are more challenging to maintain than freshwater aquariums.

These aquariums allow you to create a stunning underwater environment with colorful fish, invertebrates, and even corals.

However, they need careful monitoring of water conditions, making them better suited for experienced aquarists.

There are three main types of saltwater aquariums:

  1. Fish-only,
  2. Fish-only With Live Rock (FOWLR), and
  3. Reef tanks.

Each type offers its own unique benefits and challenges, making it important to choose the right one for your skill level and interests.

Fish-Only Aquariums

Fish-only saltwater tanks house marine fish without the addition of corals or live rock.

This is the most beginner-friendly option because it needs less equipment and maintenance compared to other types of saltwater aquariums.

Fish-Only With Live Rock (FOWLR) Aquariums

Fish-only With Live Rock (FOWLR) aquariums include both marine fish and live rock.

Live rock is a porous rock that harbors beneficial bacteria and organisms.

The live rock helps maintain a stable environment and adds visual appeal to the tank.

Reef Tanks

Reef tanks are the most complex saltwater aquariums. They house corals, fish, and invertebrates.

These aquariums need constant monitoring and specific equipment to maintain the delicate balance needed for coral growth.

Essential Equipment for Saltwater Aquariums

To set up a thriving saltwater aquarium, consider the following equipment:

  1. Tank: Choose an appropriate size based on the type of saltwater aquarium and the species you plan to keep.
  2. Protein Skimmer: This device removes organic waste, helping you to maintain water quality.
  3. Filter: A high-quality filter is essential for removing waste and harmful elements.
  4. Heater: Marine fish need ideal water temperatures, which a heater helps you maintain.
  5. Lighting: Proper lighting is crucial for coral growth and enhancing the colors of your fish.
  6. Live Rock and Substrate: These provide a foundation for your saltwater aquarium.
  7. Test Kits: Regularly testing water parameters ensures a healthy environment for your aquatic pets.

Popular Saltwater Aquarium Species

Here are some of the species that you can keep in saltwater aquariums:

  • Clownfish: They are one of the most popular marine aquarium fish species that are ideal for Fish-Only With Live Rock aquariums.
  • Damselfish: Another ideal fish for FOWLR aquariums, these fish are hardy, bright-colored, and inexpensive.
  • Gobies: Small and known to stick to the aquarium glass, gobies are perfect for reef tanks.
  • Mandarinfish: Another fish that you can add to reef tanks. However, they are a bit difficult to maintain.

Brackish Aquariums

Brackish aquarium

Brackish aquariums lie between freshwater and saltwater aquariums on salinity levels.

Although less common than freshwater and saltwater tanks, brackish aquariums provide a captivating glimpse into a lesser-known aquatic world.

It’s important to note that fish and plants for brackish aquariums are harder to find and more expensive than their freshwater counterparts.

However, the unique nature of these systems makes them well worth the effort.

Essential Equipment for Brackish Aquariums

To set up a successful brackish aquarium, consider the following equipment:

  1. Tank: Select an appropriate size based on the species you plan to keep and their adult size.
  2. Hood: A hood helps prevent water evaporation and maintains stable salinity levels.
  3. Filter: A high-quality filter is crucial for removing waste and harmful elements.
  4. Heater: Helps you maintain ideal water temperatures for the aquatic life in your aquarium.
  5. Lighting: Proper lighting enhances the colors of your fish and supports plant growth.
  6. Substrate: Choose a substrate that is compatible with the fish you want to keep.

Popular Brackish Aquarium Species

Given below are some of the species that are well-suited for brackish aquariums:

  • Archerfish: These unique fish are known for their ability to bring down their prey with a jet of water.
  • Mono Fish: With their striking silver coloration, mono fish are active swimmers that add visual appeal to any brackish setup.
  • Puffers: Brackish puffers, such as the eyespot puffer and green-spotted puffer, are small but full of personality.
  • Scats: Scats are hardy, adaptable fish with distinctive patterns and rounded bodies. They make a great addition to a brackish aquarium.

Recommended Further Reading: Where Should You Place Your Aquarium? – Top 10 Tips

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