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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
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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…
Try adding a few of these saltwater aquarium plants to breathe life into your tank
These saltwater plants will breathe life into your aquarium and keep your fish happy
Plants and fish in an aquarium

Your saltwater fish probably came from the ocean (or at least their ancestors did), and you can create a marine environment in your tank that will make them feel right at home. Alongside a wide array of tropical fish, saltwater aquarium plants will spice up your aquatic display with vivid colors and trippy shapes. Saltwater plants give your fish safe surroundings to interact with and can even help keep your aquarium clean!

Of course, you'll want to be sure to choose the best ones for your tank, so we've rounded up some of the best recommendations. Drop a few of these aquarium plants into your fish home for an exciting tank setup that you'll enjoy admiring and your fish will enjoy living in.

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The 5 easiest fish to take care of for clueless newbies
What are the easiest fish to take care of? Here are 5 species you should consider
Neon tetra school swims in tank

Fish often wind up at the top of the best first-pet list. But while lots of swimmers are good for beginners, some species don't belong on there at all. In fact, many salt-water tanks involve very specialized and dedicated care. If you're just starting out, you need to stick to the simple ones who will thrive even when their owner forgets to drop in the flakes every now and then. A few, in particular, can help you learn how to care for an aquatic animal without any harm coming to them. If you want to dive into keeping tanks, start with one of these, the easiest fish to take care of.

The easiest fish to take care of
Neon Tetras
These beauties are well known for being hardy and easy to bring into your aquarium. Carefully source your pet because you don't want to wind up with an illegal wild-caught animal. Instead, seek out one of the 1.5 million that are imported into the U.S. every month. A few good things about neon tetras: they're colorful, small, and social. You should keep a little school in a tank with other animals. Lastly, don't bring this tetra into a new tank since they won't do well while they're settling in (changes in things like pH and nitrates will hurt them).
These little janitors eat up the garbage that no one else wants, like algae and sometimes leftover food. Plus, it's not too difficult to care for them, but they do require a lot of space – at least a 20-gallon tank. Carefully select tankmates too since you don't want to introduce a large, predatory beasties to scare away this gentle creature. Lastly, and most fun of all, plecos want extra snacks and you can drop in a few veggies to satiate them. Try spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, and zucchini once or twice a week. 
Guppies come in all sorts of colors and sizes, allowing you to pick whatever type you want. You can mix them with other types of water-lovers or create one aquarium just for them. And you might need all the space you can get. This fish reproduces like bunnies and can fill a tank with their babies quickly. Get a big aquarium if you plan to allow this to happen or separate out males and females once they reach maturity (you can spot the boys because they have an extra fin on the bottom). Still, taking care of them will be a breeze and help you gain confidence in your skills. 
Another schooling fish, this excitable species prefers slightly cooler temperatures and so will work well for a newbie who hasn't graduated to heated tanks yet. They can even live with neon tetras to help get the tank ready. However, danios like to hang out at the surface and you should plan your setup accordingly. Keep a few tall and a few floating plants around for them to enjoy and hide in. While easy to care for, they're tricky to breed and you might not have much luck raising the babies. For best results, separate the fry right after they hatch. 
We're hesitant to even include this because goldfish really do need certain care to live happily and healthily. First off, don't bring home a fish you won in the fair if you actually want something that will last. Search out a good local store and examine the animals before bringing him into the fold. Secondly, don't be fooled by the small goldfish bowls. Remember, these guys can grow to six inches in length and need plenty of room to move about. They also really need a filter because this not-so-little fish produces lots and lots of waste. 

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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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