Goldfish Aquariums

Aquariums suitable for Goldfish come in a variety of styles and materials.

Goldfish aquarium on a stand with cover incorporating a light.Aquarium on a stand with cover incorporating a light.

The Goldfish aquarium you choose for your fish should fit the purpose it will be used for.

This page explains the different designs and construction methods to help you decide which type will suit your Goldfish best.

Aquarium Construction Materials

There are two types of materials used for aquarium manufacture these days, glass and acrylic.

Glass aquariums have the following advantages:

  • Glass is cheap and readily available
  • Construction is simple using RTV silicone glue, no frame is necessary
  • Cleaning algae off the inside surface is easy
  • Repairs to broken panes are simple.

Some disadvantages of glass aquariums are:

  • The surface they sit on must be absolutely flat otherwise the bottom pane will crack
  • Because they are so easy to make, care must be taken when buying second hand to ensure the glass thickness is correct for the aquarium size, and there are adequate braces fitted
  • Limited design options, but you can get them with curved front panes
  • Glass is fragile.

Acrylic aquariums have the following advantages:

  • Design options are greater, for example tall tubular aquariums are possible
  • Acrylic has greater clarity than glass
  • Acrylic will take knocks without shattering
  • They are lighter than glass aquariums of the same size.

Some disadvantages of acrylic aquariums are:

  • They scratch easily
  • Removing algae is harder and a special pad must be used
  • The price is much higher than the glass equivalent
  • Manufacturing and repairs can only be done by specialists.

Different Designs For Different Uses

Aquariums come in every size and shape. You need to choose the one that is going to be best suited for its intended use, such as:

  • Breeding
  • Growing up your goldfish
  • Displaying your goldfish.

For each of these uses there is a goldfish aquarium that suits the purpose best. For example:

  • Breeding requires an aquarium that is not too tall, no more than 15”, and say 24” long by 12” front to back.  This would be suitable for a breeding trio of small goldfish with body lengths of about 2 ½”.  For a greater number of fish or larger fish, you will need an aquarium at least 3 feet long.
  • Goldfish require a lot of space to grow properly.  With no filtration or aeration, goldfish need 24 square inches of surface area per inch of fish to maintain an adequate oxygen level.  This measurement however, doesn't determine what size aquarium you need.  To work that out, go to the page that gives you all the facts about how much room Goldfish need.
  • The best aquarium dimensions to display your goldfish is a tall aquarium that is not too wide.  15” tall would be the minimum height, 18” tall would be better.  I wouldn’t go any wider than 12” front to back unless you are putting very large fish in the aquarium.  This width keeps the fish in view more often instead of them hiding at the back of the aquarium.

Goldfish Aquarium Purchasing Options

Plain glass aquarium with no accessoriesPlain glass aquarium

When purchasing Goldfish aquariums, there are a few options available. You can:

  • Purchase a bare glass or acrylic aquarium that will require a light, filter, and heater purchased separately,  and find something to sit it on
  • Purchase an aquarium that comes with some accessories such as a cover with an integral light and a small internal or under-gravel filter and air pump
  • Purchase a complete package with a cover, light, integrated filter that sits under the cover, and a purpose-built stand.
Glass goldfish aquarium with cover incorporating a light.Aquarium with light

Few sellers of aquariums include gravel, plants or filter media (the filtering material you put inside the filter) with their packages.

For aquariums that will not be used for display purposes I would suggest purchasing bare aquariums.  You can then purchase only the accessories you need.

Make sure the aquarium comes with a glass two piece cover.  One piece of the cover should be no wider than 3” (75mm) so it can be raised separately for feeding and netting fish without having to take the whole cover off.

The cover stops evaporation, heat loss, fish jumping out and objects being dropped into the aquarium.  

Complete aquarium packages can be quite expensive. Before buying new, check if any second hand items are available locally.
Be careful of cheaper aquarium packages as the imitation wood such as MDF used for the stands can be easily damaged if it gets wet, as it causes the material to swell.

Go to the page with tips on Setting Up Goldfish Aquariums correctly, and then the page on Aquarium Cleaning that provides advice on making this chore as simple and quick as possible.

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