Beginner Question - Aquarium Size - Dimensions and Gallons - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 10-31-2010, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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Post Beginner Question - Aquarium Size - Dimensions and Gallons

Hello everyone,

New to the forum and new to aquariums. I've had a veil tail betta, Danube, for about 6 months now. We got him at a wedding as a take home gift for guests. We moved him from his small gift bowl to a large bowl of about a gallon. I don't really consider the bowl a real aquarium, hence I deem myself still new to aquariums.

He's been doing fine, but I thought he would do better in a larger aquarium. I was looking at a 6.6gal bookcase aquarium with light and filter from PetCo that's on sale because they're phasing them out. It's approximately 24"x8"x9". People have been saying that it looks like a 20 long. They also have some 5gal Marineland Eclipse aquariums at 14"x 12.5"x 16.8" and a 6 gal at 13.8" x 12" x 7.5", but I like the longer, shallower look of the bookcase aquarium.

My question is, which matters more, given a similar volume aquarium, a longer but shallower dimension or a smaller but deeper dimension. Basically, which is better - more horizontal space or more vertical space?

Also, there's a larger 10gal Hex tank that has a lot less horizontal space and most of the volume is because it's a lot taller. Does the increased volume help more with water condition stability or do people recommend the increased volume so fish have more room to swim?
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post #2 of 5 Old 10-31-2010, 05:16 PM
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The answer to your question is kind of long, but fairly simple.

In the simplest terms, the dimensions of your aquarium should be tailored to the fish you wish to keep and, all things being equal, an aquarium with the same gallon rating as another one but with a larger surface area will usually be better.

You're betta's pretty small (relatively speaking) and so a lot of the decision is up to you and can be dictated by what sort of space you have. If you find that having something tall and narrow is better in terms of space for you, your betta won't complain. Likewise, if you had a tall, skinny fish a tall, skinny tank might be recommended (think Angelfish).

The reason the surface area is important is that it allows for gas exchange between the air and the water in the tank. This somewhat increases carrying capacity and so a 20 long will have a marginally higher carrying capacity than a standard 20.

Tall, skinny tanks are often referred to as "show tanks". They look especially pleasing to the eye. Meanwhile long, low tanks are referred to as "breeders" because they provided that gas exchange for the fish.

It doesn't matter as much as it seems it might as long as you have enough volume for the fish you're keeping. Your betta would be very happy in any of the tanks you mentioned from the 5.5 up through the 20. Larger volumes of water are easier to keep stable (pH, nitrates, ammonia, temp etc take longer to change dramatically) but there are plenty of people who first learned on a 5.5g or a 10g.

If it was me, I'd be really tempted to grab the 10hex, plant it nicely, and get a group of corys or something for the bottom. The betta makes finding compatible tankmates a bit difficult, especially in a small tank. But the corys hang out on the bottom and the betta will stay in the middle-top.

Good luck, and ask questions. Sorry the answer was so long.

30g SE Asian Tank
15 Lambchop Rasbora
2 Gold White Cloud Minnows
3 Dwarf Chain Loaches
2 Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami

55g Amazon Tank
2 Wild Type Angels
1 Marble Angel
1 Black Angel
1 Koi Angel
2 Bolivian Rams
14 Pristella Tetra
10 Dwarf Pencilfish
2-3 Twig Catfish (to come)
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post #3 of 5 Old 10-31-2010, 09:47 PM
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I agree with burnsbabe. In your situation, it doesn't matter which tank you choose, your betta will be fine in any of them. Also, bettas are labyrinth fish, they can breathe at the surface of the tank so I think they aren't totally dependant on the dissolved oxygen in the water.

Choose the tank to suit the location you want to put it. I have 3 of my bettas in rectangular tanks on the kitchen bench and another in a 21-litre hex tank on a little table next to my office desk (a rectangular wouldn't fit there). Albert in the hex makes good use of the vertical space, he swims up and down and around. The hex is a little harder to vac because it's deeper, but otherwise there's little difference in maintenance or quality between the different shaped tanks. When I first put him in he flared a lot at his reflection, but he soon settled.
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post #4 of 5 Old 10-31-2010, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you burnsbabe and tanker for your insights. I think I will go for the bookcase size PetCo tank for my little Danube since I like its looks and it fits perfectly on my counter. When I'm comfortable taking care of this tank, I think I'll move on to a tall, skinny planted 20 gal for more fish.

Thanks again!
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post #5 of 5 Old 10-31-2010, 11:06 PM
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Danube's going to love it. Post his photo when he's in his new tank. There's a "betta photos" thread.
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