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These are the best fish tanks for beginners that people rave about

When you first decide to become a fish parent, you need to get a lot of things ready. You want your fish to remain happy and healthy, which means setting up a tank with filters, plants, gravel, and accessories. By far, the biggest investment will be the aquarium itself, and they come in all shapes and sizes. It can be tricky to select the perfect one, so we’ve helped you narrow it down to these top fish tanks for beginners. 

Gold fish looks at camera from his aquarium

Tetra Aquarium Kit, Fish Tank with Filter & Lights

The perfect tank for a small school or a single betta fish, this kit actually comes with a filter and lighting system. That makes it great for any newbie who doesn’t yet feel confident buying each piece of the ecosystem individually. Some reviewers mention bringing it to work, as the curved design fits nicely on a desk or in an office. Remember, while a lot of the extras come with this one, it doesn’t include a heater or gravel — or the fish of course. 

Tetra Aquarium 20 Gallon Fish Tank Kit, Includes LED Lighting and Decor

Taking it up a notch, a 20-gallon tank allows you to keep a whole ocean of fish inside, living in harmony (not literally though). You’ll get a filter, light, and plants with this one, so you won’t need to do much beyond investing in fish. A happy user mentions, “The Awesome Tank has Hinges on Its Hood!!!” noting that this makes it far easier to clean. While 20 gallons is a lot bigger than the last tank, this will still only hold about 10 fish and many species breed quickly. 

GloFish Aquarium Kit Fish Tank with LED Lighting and Filtration Included

There’s no other way to describe this tank besides cool, or as one happy customer says, “Beautiful, quiet, and easy setup!!” The glow effect actually comes from a blue light that is included. It also includes a filter, though some users mention that they upgraded to give their tank a bit of extra help. You can add brightly colored plants, gravel, and fish to complete the look — neon tetras would be amazing here for example. 

Fluval 13.5 Gallon Evo XII Marine Aquarium Kit

This is the best tank for first-time saltwater aquarists, although we highly recommend starting with a basic freshwater tank first and then upgrading to this when you feel comfortable. It comes with a 3-stage filtration system, though you might want to add more depending on your preferred setup. A couple of clownfish would surely enjoy this tank.

Alan 15 Gallon Scape Hexagon Alanrium Kit

On the high end, check out this vertical aquarium, ideal for those who like to swim up and down, like seahorses. It’s specifically designed to complement the decor of a room and can go anywhere in your house that’s near a power source. One user comments, “Love this aquarium, fills our triangular niche nicely,” so it will nestle perfectly into a corner and contribute to your display. 

If you get into aquariums, you’ll likely start with a beginner tank and wind up with a house full of them. The good news is you can try out different setups, species, and decor to make each one fit into a different part of the house. In addition to a basic tank, you’ll also want to make sure to stick with easy animals at first. Start with the tetras and guppies until you feel secure handling more challenging fish.

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Rebekkah Adams
Rebekkah’s been a writer and editor for more than 10 years, both in print and digital. In addition to writing about pets…
How to fix cloudy aquarium water in a few easy steps and make your fish happy
Hand cleaning tank with sponge

No matter how good an aquarist or fish parent you are, you'll probably run into cloudy aquarium water at some point. Maybe your filter breaks unexpectedly or one of your fish has tummy problems, and you wind up with a tank so murky you can't see through it. If you walk in to feed your fish and stumble on cloudy aquarium water, don't panic. While a good tank cleaning will probably be necessary, it's even more important to discover the underlying problem. We're here to show you how to clear it up and keep your fish safe from filth.

What does the color of my aquarium water tell me?
The first step: Figure out what's wrong with your water, which means determining what color it is. This will give you more information than you think as the color will often hint at the deeper cause. You don't need to hold up a paint-matching card or anything, but see if you can identify the hue. Would you describe it as more of a white, green, or brown? Each of these discolorations stems from something different and indicates a separate issue. Then tackle the problem by getting at the source.

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Don’t kill your fish: How to prepare your aquarium before vacation
Aquarium in house with plants and controls

So you got a fish because they can be left alone for a few days, but now the time comes for your vacation and you aren't sure what to do. Do they need a fish sitter? Should you get a fancy monitoring system that connects to your phone? What's the best way to keep your mini ecosystem running smoothly on its own? The good news is, you absolutely can leave your fish when you go out of town, and it doesn't need to be too difficult - or too expensive. With a little preparation, you'll keep all of your swimmers happy and yourself stress-free.

How long can my fish thrive while I am away?
OK, first if you leave for just a couple days, as in anything less than 72 hours, you won't need to do much at all. You shouldn't have to perform water changes that frequently for most tanks and you can easily set up an automatic feeding system to ensure they get their meals on schedule. Set up a feeder before you go (and don't forget to test it while you're around to make adjustments). Additionally, in case of emergency, most fish can skip a meal and recover easily, though you should not plan for that. For longer trips or for fish tank care with special requirements, such as eating live prey, you'll need to move to the next best option: a sitter.
Do I need a pet sitter for my fish?
Lots of aquarists opt for a sitter when gone for more than a couple days. This brings a few benefits, including the ability to check on the tank and step in if something goes wrong. A friend or neighbor can also do spot cleaning and feed more difficult fish. You do need to ensure that whoever winds up taking care of your fish knows how to do so. The last thing you want is to hire someone who overfeeds the animals or clogs the filter - both of which can be deadly to your aquarium inhabitants.
How should I prepare my fish for my vacation?
First, schedule a partial water change for a day or so before you depart. This way you don't need anyone else to do it and you can rest assured that your housing will stay reasonably clean with the proper filtration. Speaking of which, check every part to confirm that nothing needs changing or replacing and that you've removed all the detritus. Use conditioners as necessary and perform a water check right before you go. If you only go for a short while or if you have an experienced sitter entering your home daily, that's really all you need to do. But if you don't have a human in place, you can instead rely on digital communications to protect your underwater life.

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Get unusual aquatic life for your tank for the coolest conversation starter
Zebra pleco bottomfeeds in his aquarium

We all know it: Once you get your first tank, you get hooked. One minute, you bring home a betta, and the next you have multiple aquariums (both fresh and salt) and subscribe to every aquarist forum you can find. While you might blow through the basics in the first few months, there are so many ways to expand your underwater empire. In particular, lots of fish and even other aquatic life will take your ecosystems to the next level. Which unusual aquatic life should you choose? Of course, it depends greatly on what you already have and where your interests lie, but we have a couple of recommendations that go well with nearly any marine museum.

What are some unusual aquarium animals?
It's normal to want to expand to exotic tank-dwellers, especially once you have a really good handle on the usual suspects. One option is to look at a few good non-fish species, such as snails, crabs, and shrimp. Seahorses, while technically fish, can also add a ton of pizzaz to aquatic housing though they have a few very particular needs that you'll want to take into account before bringing any into your system. Most importantly, ensure you have the correct parameters in place for the additions because you certainly don't want to put an unhappy animal into the mix. 
How do I know if my next aquarium find will thrive?
If you have a bunch of aquariums, it's easy to separate each one into its own habitat. By this, we mean that you can adjust the chemical composition and temperature one way or the other to create an ideal environment specifically for the creatures in that tank. So when you want to add something new, you select the correct conditions and you know right away that it should work out. However, you do need to make sure that you always quarantine any new inhabitants and that you only put in one at a time (or a school if necessary). Lastly, you need to take into account the various personalities of the occupants. You certainly don't want to include a fish that will wind up becoming a predator or prey. You'll have to keep all of this in mind when you pick your next pet.
What species can I add to my aquarium next?
It'll depend on what you already have and what you're looking for, but we have a couple of recommendations for the adventurous aquarist looking to bring a new guy to their school.

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