09-08-2009, 05:11 PM
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Kymmie's points are correct. The tank shape should be dictated by the fish, always. Not only aesthetics, but biology also enters the equation.
A longer tank has greater surface area than a taller, given the same volume of water. This means less gas exchange at the surface of a tall tank--which is OK for swamp-dwelling fish, but less so for stream or river fish requiring more oxygen. Second, the behaviour of the fish comes into play: a fish that likes to swim will do better in a long tank, and may even do poorly in a tall one which affords less latitude for swimming from end to end as in a stream.
An example, most tetras, barbs and danios occur in rivers and streams, and are prodigious swimmers; a long tank will also show these fish off better and be more suited to their wants. By contrast, gouramis and bettas can be lovely in taller tanks, where they can gracefully swim vertically; and because they breathe atmospheric air, the oxygen content of the water is less important.
Know the natural habitat of the fish you want to keep and buy the appropriate tank and aquascape it appropriately. The result will be fish that are less stressed because they are in a more suitable environment, and that means healthier fish with fewer problems for you.