Are Big Aquariums Better? And What’s the Perfect Size?

One question many beginners ask when getting into the fish keeping hobby is what size of tank should I get? Many advocate for larger tanks while others say smaller tanks are best for beginners.

In this article, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of keeping a large tank, then decide if it’s best for you or if smaller tanks will benefit you more!

Why Keep Larger Tanks?

Choosing an aquarium size is HARD! There’s so many variables to consider in the fish tank setup process.

How many fish do you want to keep? Do you want to decorate a lot? What types of fish do you want to keep?

All of these questions are important. With smaller tanks, you’ll have to be precise on your answers to these questions. On the other hand, larger tanks give you more “flexibility” in your answers.

Buying a larger aquarium(80+ gallons) might seem intimidating at first, but trust me when I say it’ll help you avoid a lot of headaches down the road.

So why is this?

Harder to Overcrowd the Tank

Many beginners don’t know how many fish per gallon to keep. Thus, they’ll buy more fish than their tank can hold. This can lead to the fish feeling overcrowded and fighting over territory.

With larger tanks, your fish will have more room to swim, play, jump, and swirl freely. This will not only ensure happy fish, but will lead to a pleasant experience overall inside the tank. In general, your fish will have more room to “be themselves.”

Less Frequent Tank Maintenance

In small aquariums, algae builds up quickly and temperatures fluctuate frequently. This means that you’ll be constantly monitoring chemicals like nitrates and ammonia inside your aquarium almost daily to prevent a cloudy fish tank.

In larger aquariums, you’ll have a more relaxing experience. Generally larger bodies of water have more stable temperatures and your filter will deal with algae blooms without you even knowing.

This means you won’t have to perform tank maintenance such as water and filter media changes as frequently.

You can keep “cooler” fish.

Probably the best benefit to larger aquariums is the ability to keep larger, “cooler” fish. This ability appeals to beginners particularly because they now have more options for choosing the best freshwater fish for their aquarium.

And plus, who doesn’t love keeping large angelfish or gouramis?

Downside To Larger Aquariums

We’ve seen the many benefits for keeping larger aquariums, but what are the downsides? Well, there aren’t too many, but there definitely aren’t NONE!

Harder to Clean

You may recall that I mentioned larger tanks have less frequent tank maintenance schedules. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t have to maintain your tank at all.

Generally, when it comes to knowing how to clean a fish tank, you’ll need to have a larger skill set than someone with a smaller aquarium. For example, you’ll have a larger area of glass to clean and multiple filter media to replace.

Although the tank may be harder to clean than a smaller tank, the difference isn’t extreme. It really depends on what decorations you put inside the tank and how frequently your maintenance schedule is.


As I mentioned above, larger tanks have more glass. This means that larger aquariums are more prone to having leakage problems. Don’t worry though, as long as you buy a quality tank, you wont need to worry about this much.

Longer Nitrogen Cycle

When it comes to cycling a fish tank, the process can take longer for bigger aquariums. The reason for this is because more bacteria is needed inside your tank to keep healthy water conditions for your tank.

Generally the process for cycling a larger tank is 6-8 weeks, although some setups can take longer. And yes, you WILL need to cycle your aquarium!

What Size Aquarium Should I Get?

So now, we’ve seen the pros and cons of larger tanks. Now the question arises, is a larger tank better for me?
Before you make a decision on what size tank you need, decide on what types of fish you want to keep and the space they’ll need.

If you see yourself wanting to keep bigger fish, or a community of fish, then a larger aquarium will certainly benefit you!

On the other hand, if you want to keep a fish or two on your desk, then I’d recommend going with a smaller tank.

Meet The Author

Hi there, my name is Gunnar Kennedy! I’m a fishkeeping enthusiast and owner of I love sharing new ideas and helping others care for their aquatic friends! I Hope you enjoyed this article and learned something new!

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