Large Aquarium vs The Small Fish Tank

Powder Blue Tang in reef tank

Also see ‘The Small Aquarium‘ for more information on aquarium size.

Any aquarium owner would immediately have to say yes! Bigger is better. And we agree with this. In reality a small 10 gallon aquarium should only be attempted by a seasoned hobbyist due to its delicate balance.

So why are there so many small aquarium owners? The answer must be price! Buying a complete ‘aquarium kit’ seems not only practical, but also sensible since the total cost appears to be the sticker price.

While we won’t argue that the initial investment for a 30-gallon tank will be somewhat higher it is usually quite reasonable and certainly worth every cent.

In addition to price here are some more misconceptions regarding a ‘larger’ tank:

A large fish tank is too much work!

Well, here is the good news: The larger the aquarium the easier the maintenance!

Simply put, the margin for error of a 10-gallon fish tank is very small. Most small tanks are severely overstocked and overfed. This leads to the quick accumulation of waste, which in turn will demand your time and attention.

Why do we tend to overcrowd small tanks? Isn’t it because what we wanted in the first place was a nice big aquarium and fish display?

Of course it is true that a water change will be a little more time consuming with a larger tank, however chances are you will do them less often then in a smaller aquarium. The water change in tanks up to 55-gallons can be achieved reasonably fast simply with the use of a 5-gallon bucket and a siphon. If you have a larger tank, a water changing device which attaches to your faucet will come in handy and cut down the time required.

A large aquarium is too noisy!

This really depends on the type of equipment used. External filters will usually be louder then internal ones. Use of an airstone and pump can create quite annoying sounds.

However in our experience, larger filters for example create a deeper sound, which can actually be very soothing. As far as the air pump, consider not using one. Air mainly enters the tank through surface agitation which is adequately created through the filter while returning the water. If you are using an undergravel filter, the use of internal power heads can really cut down the noise significantly. Quality power heads with aerators are also quite capable of delivering oxygenation throughout the tank.

Image all the water if my large aquarium leaks!

No sense in denying that these things can happen. However, if you buy a quality tank, the chances of leakage are very, very small. It is important to place your aquarium on a sturdy, flat, and level surface. This will assure there will be no unusually high stress on the seams of the tank. Before buying a tank also be sure to visually inspect the silicone seams to see if they are free of gaps and air bubbles.

There is not much more to be said about potential leaks. A good quality tank and a flat, level surface are needed. Consider purchasing an aquarium stand, as these have been specifically designed to hold a filled tank securely.

The cost of a large fish tank is too high!

At the top of this page we briefly mention price. In addition to those comments it is also interesting to note that many hobbyists spend entirely too much money on chemical treatments in the hopes of fixing problems due to overcrowding and overfeeding. Often this cost can be saved with larger tanks. A larger tank on a nice stand will also double as a beautiful piece of furniture or room decoration. If you have a vacant area in your living room for example, consider the larger tank instead of a display case for your collectibles. If a tank can eliminate the need for an additional piece of furniture, it’s almost certain to pay for itself.

Leave a Reply

1 Comment threads
3 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
Notify of

I am getting a 10 gallon fish tank because that is the max size allowed in my dads apartment

Hi Beau, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a 10 gallon aquarium. Just remember to be careful not to overfeed or stock too many fish. That can quickly become a challenge because of the resulting waste accumulating in a relatively small amount of water. I hope you enjoy your new fish tank and welcome to the world of fish keeping!

Here’s a complete listing of our aquarium maintenance resources



Yeppers… poop, and also uneaten food decaying at the bottom of the tank can wreak havoc on the aquarium.

Click to Hide Advanced Floating Content
Cart Menu Button Image0
Your Cart