Pets are a welcome addition to many people’s lives; however, not everyone can handle or wants the responsibility of large animals. Perhaps space is an issue, or cost, or time. For those who would enjoy a pet but whose concerns have restricted their purchase in the past, the tranquility of fish could be the answer.
A well maintained aquarium can bring hours of joy and entertainment to a household. But what is necessary to establish a stable environment for fish, simply a bowl and water? For most species of fish, the answer is decidedly “No.” To create and enjoy an aquarium, careful planning should preview any purchase of equipment or fish. Consider the size of tank needed, the type of aquarium water pump, the size of filter, and whether a water heater is necessary.
For aquarium success, proper circulation, along with filtration and lighting, is the foundation. Consider the natural environment of water. It contains air circulation and exchange, plant and microbial life, fish, and constant changes from weather conditions; it is a complete ecosystem, your household aquarium is not. Without proper circulation your tank will fail.
Water movement is necessary because it creates surface movement. This movement allows oxygen into the water and lets waste gas (nitrogen) out. Water circulation is also an important part in stabilizing water conditions like temperature and salinity, where fluctuations might stress or kill your fish. Heaters necessary to produce more natural temperatures for your fish only affect one area in your tank, the rest of the aquarium relies on circulation to evenly distribute it. Equally, without an aquarium water pump, normal algae growth can become extraordinary. With water movement this growth is eliminated at the surface (like in ponds) and it becomes much more difficult for algae to take hold of other surfaces.
So how much water movement is needed? Depending on the size and type of your tank, industry standards state to multiply the number of gallons in your tank by the “turn-over rate” for your species of fish following the chart below.
Tank Type Turnover Rate
Freshwater Tanks (small fish) 3-4 times per hour
Freshwater Tanks with Plants 2 times per hour
Freshwater Tanks (large fish) 5-6 times per hour
Saltwater Tanks 5-7 times per hour
Saltwater Reef 7-10+ times per hour
For example, with a 10 gallon, fresh-water fish tank, and no live plants, I would need a GPH (gallon per hour) movement rate of 40 (10gal X 4tr.)
There are many different types of aquarium filtration to consider. Aquarium water pumps can be internal or external and generally require a “trickle” or wet/dry filtration system. Depending on your space and application needs, you can choose from submersible pumps that sit inside your tank and are relatively quiet and easy to install or external/inline pumps which are considerably louder but stronger powered. Powerheads are also available; these types of submersible pumps attach to the sides of your tank and create underwater currents.