Preparing Your Home for a New Fish Tank

There are countless articles and videos on how to set up an aquarium, but have you ever thought about how to prepare your house for one? Whether you're bringing home your first aquarium or adding another one to an existing – and growing – collection, here are a few things to consider when getting your home ready for your new arrival:

1. Where to put it?
2. How much does it weigh?
3. Is there an electrical outlet nearby?
4. Other members of the household?

Aquarium Placement in Your Home: Consider Location, Noise and Temperature

First, think about where you want to put your new aquarium. Ideally, it should be located where you spend the majority of your time. After all, an aquarium is a living work of art and you don't want it in an obscure corner that you rarely use. Don't place your tank by the front door or at major intersections in your home as high traffic areas can be stressful to your fish and increase the risk of your tank getting constantly bumped. If you live in a cold climate, avoid placing your aquarium on an outside wall or near an exterior door. You may have to rearrange some furniture or move pictures, shelves or wall hangings. If you're planning on having a taller aquarium, make sure it won't block access to light switches.

Noise is another consideration. Remember that water transmits sound very well and fish are particularly sensitive to strong vibrations. Make sure stereo or entertainment center speakers are positioned so as not to stress your fish. Also, if your new aquarium will be placed near a heating and air conditioning vent make sure they are directed away from it. Avoid putting your aquarium near a fireplace or other heat source that could raise the water temperature above the recommended 76° to 80° F for tropical fish, or 68° to 74° F for goldfish.

Almost all setup guides advise against placing an aquarium near a window, but what if that's the perfect spot for your new tank? The solution can be quite simple. Install adjustable blinds or plan on closing the curtains during the day to block direct sunlight. You can also install background material covered with thin insulation board or cardboard on the back of the tank to prevent algae buildup or overheating from direct sunlight.

How Aquarium Weight Affects Its Placement

Remember that a filled aquarium weighs approximately 10 pounds per gallon. Aquariums of 20 gallons or less can usually be placed on household furniture, providing it's sturdy enough to support them. Larger aquariums should be placed on a stand built specifically for that purpose. Aquariums of 100 gallons or larger should also be placed on a load bearing wall or sturdy flooring, preferably on the ground floor or basement. If you have any concerns about installing a large aquarium on the ground floor consider installing adjustable floor supports in the basement, if possible, to help support the weight. They are inexpensive, easy to install and are available at most home improvement centers. Make sure the floor where your new aquarium will be placed is level, both left to right and front to back. If it isn't, purchase shims to level the stand before placing the aquarium on it.

Consider Your Aquarium's Power Supply

Make sure there is an electrical outlet near your tank setup. Multi-outlet power centers are fine, but avoid using an extension cord to operate your aquarium equipment. Make sure the electrical circuit can accept the additional load of your new aquarium. This isn't usually a concern with small tanks, but larger aquariums have higher electrical demands. Finally, consider installing a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) on the electrical outlet you'll be using for your new aquarium. 

Regard You Aquarium's New "Roommates"

The most important part of your home is the people living in it. If you have children, help them understand that they should not engage in rough play near the aquarium or hit it with their hands, toys or other objects. Rambunctious dogs and inquisitive cats should be taken into consideration as well. Make sure the aquarium sits on a sturdy stand and purchase a secure cover that can support your cat if he or she jumps on top of it.

By properly preparing your house for a new aquarium, you'll ensure everyone enjoys it, including your fish!

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