Do you need an excuse for another fish tank? Jeremy Gay offers a few reasons you can use to add that extra aquarium. Go on...you know you want one!
1. Because your fish have bred
This is one of the most common reasons to buy a new tank. Sometimes breeding your fish takes little or no effort on your part, especially if you keep livebearers, and you may soon be inundated with tank-bred fish.
An influx of extra bodies in your tank can cause you problems. Extra fish mean extra demands on oxygen – and extra ammonia production. If your filter can cope with the increased ammonia and break it down, you will be left with an increase in nitrate production causing you to need to change the water more frequently to keep it down. There will also be more solid waste.
Some experts think that overcrowded tanks can lead to stunting. Leave your fish to breed and raise them in the same tank as the adults, and successive generations may end up smaller than they should be.
The solution is to get another tank to raise those fry in – preferably one that is large enough to house a spawning pair before they lay eggs – or for pregnant female livebearers.
2. Because you need a quarantine tank
Everyone needs a quarantine tank and any retailer who says so should not be berated for trying to clinch another sale but rather rewarded for trying to help you in being a more successful fishkeeper.
Most of us do not use a microscope when buying fish and cannot see if our new purchases are carrying an ailment. An otherwise healthy looking fish may develop a problem once you get it home and, if it's carrying something infectious, your existing livestock could catch it too.
Set up a separate quarantine tank to hold new purchases for a few weeks to check they are free of disease, rested and feeding well.
Quarantine tanks can also be used to house and treat fish that have become ill in the main tank, or have been bullied. Treatments are more effective in a clean, unfurnished tank and an average sized quarantine tank of 50 l/11 gal capacity will be cheaper to treat than a 240 l/53 gal heavily stocked aquarium. There's also no risk of the treatment knocking out essential bacteria in the main tank – or killing any inverts you have.
3. Because not all fish are compatible
Life is short when you're a keen fishkeeper and there are so many fish to keep – and so little time…
What's more, our hobby is complicated by fish compatibility, not only in terms of size and temperament, but also water conditions.
The solution is to set up another tank – or two – or four! If keeping tropical community fish, divide your tanks into softwater and hardwater set-ups.
For a radical difference, set one up as a planted tank and another as a rocky Rift Lake tank – or one freshwater and another marine. The list can go on…
4. Because new tanks look nicer!
Unlike some new car designs, aquarium design seems to be getting much better with time.
We have never had such a choice of size, shape and finish.
For many of us, a big part of keeping fish is having a tank we can show off and be proud of. Every great work of art needs an appropriate frame and that mean having a tank suitable for your livestock, your lifestyle and for your look.
Home furnishing fashions change constantly and you don't want to be stuck with an old mahogany tank if all your other decor is light wood.
5. Because you need a bigger tank…
Although nanos have their place, in terms of fish welfare bigger is better. Take into account the needs of your fish, not only in anticipated adult size but also what it needs for exercise. Is it an active swimmer and does it need to be kept with members of its own species?
It's really rewarding to give your pets a new, larger home. Fish often put on a growth spurt in larger tanks, too.
Bigger tanks are more stable in terms of water conditions and temperature, and offer a larger area in which to decorate and create a more natural looking aquascape.
6. Because you need a smaller tank…
Occasionally you have to downsize, as houses are getting smaller – as sometimes are our wallets.
Smaller tanks are easy to maintain, especially if you have difficulties in lifting, and the lighter weight of water means that small nanos don't even have to be stood on special stands.
A smaller body of water costs less to light and heat, and a whole small tank can be purchased for the same price as one external filter on a larger tank.
The huge availability of small fish and freshwater inverts at the moment means there's no shortage of choice – and there will always be room in your house for a new nano!
7. Because your collection is growing
Addicted to fish? So many you want to keep – and an existing collection you just can't bear to part with? You definitely need another tank. More species are available than ever before and there are more styles of fishkeeping than there used to be, from naturally filtered reefs to hi-tech planted tanks.
More tanks offers more diversity and more habitats. If you want, you could specialise, collecting every member of a fish family or genus…now there's a thought!
8. Because you want a new challenge
Fishkeeping attracts so many people from so many backgrounds there should be the perfect fish for everyone. If you want low hassle, hardy fish there are several species to suit. But if you want a challenge, there are plenty
of fish still to be bred in captivity or that are rare in the hobby.
Try coral propagation, difficult-to-grow plants, or take on a breeding challenge. Breeding fish takes time, skill and determination, and lots won't even think about it until you provide them with exactly what they want – and then you'll need to think about how to feed the fry!
9. Because you've always wanted to keep…
Many fishkeepers set themselves goals or buy that special fish as a reward for achieving something or working particularly hard.
Work towards getting a new fish and a new tank, and it will be all the more satisfying when you get them. A rare fish may be prohibitively expensive or have limited availability. Maybe you could pay your local shop in instalments and instruct them to order one when full payment is made.
Make a shortlist of all your favourite fish and which ones you'd like to keep that you don't currently have. Aim to keep all of your top ten favourite fish (so long as they're aquarium compatible!) and you should be in seventh heaven!
10. Because new tanks are much less fuss
Product development is all about making things better, and in the last 50 years or so, manufacturers have learned a few things about making tanks and what the consumer wants in an aquarium.
Lots of tanks these days don't require a sheet of polystyrene to cushion them and loads come with built-in equipment options to make getting the right set up so much easier. In a complete set-up package the equipment is chosen for you and often included at a knock-down price. In a systemised aquarium the equipment has not only been selected for you, but stuck in the tank for a trouble-free start up and ease of maintenance.
11. Because you want to keep marines
Marines are still considered the ultimate by many fishkeepers and it's easier to set up and maintain a reef tank now than ever before.
And with the availability of so many marine nano tank systems, it doesn't even have to be expensive to go saltwater.
You can even take the ethical approach and go for just captive bred fish and cultured corals and live rock.
12. Because you want a planted tank
Planted tanks have come a long way in recent years. European and US hobbyists have found out how to grow even difficult plant species successfully and combined those skills with aquascaping methods first developed in the Far East. New plants seem to be appearing all the time too.
Amazing aquascapes can now be created. There's a plant growing method to suit everyone, so give it a try – and you might even find yourself getting more involved in the plants than the fish!
13. Because you always fancied a biotope
The biotope aquarium provides your captive fish with an environment akin to what they would experience in the wild. It's a tank that represents a specific area of the world, like the Amazon or Lake Malawi, or even a small river, using similar decor and plants to those naturally found there.
If you also match the water conditions, it should provide the ideal environment, inducing natural behaviour and even breeding.
14. Because you want a fish room…
There comes a time in every fanatical fishkeeper's life when they realise that they don't just need room for one more fish tank, rather a room for fish tanks plural!
It can be anywhere in the house, like a spare room – or out in the garden shed or garage. With no one's aesthetic requirements to please except your own, you can go wild and set up enough tanks to keep all the fish you ever wanted!
15. Because the new one is on special offer!
When it comes to buying tanks, we've never had it so good! Our poor old retailers and online sellers are battling each other for your custom, meaning cheaper prices.
Electricity has gone up, petrol has gone up, food has gone up – but a 60cm/24" tropical set-up is still about the same price as it always has been. However, the filter and lighting on offer will probably be better than ever – and you might get a whole load of other products thrown in, such as water conditioner and food.
Bag yourself a bargain!
16. Because your tank is falling apart!
Aquariums have a finite life. I can't bear to see a scratched tank as it spoils my view of the fish – and if it develops a leak through ageing silicone, it may be cheaper and much less hassle to get a new tank than repair the old one.
Unfortunately, lots of cabinets are made from MDF or melamine-covered chipboard and these can take on water, expand and warp, and a wooden hood continually exposed to water spray and humid conditions can literally rot away eventually.
Some cabinets come with metal frames built in, offering extra strength and helping to stop wet cabinets warping. Adjustable feet help ensure a tank is level and raise it above wet floors.
17. Because you want to specialise…
Most of us start with a community of fish – and often shops will steer us in this direction at the beginning, telling us not to run before we can walk.
It's good advice, as a community will give you experience in fish health, compatibility and feeding. Yet there may well become a time when you start to prefer a certain type of fish – oddballs for example – and specialising will inevitably mean more tank.
18. Because you want a tank at work
It never ceases to amaze me just how many people set up tanks at work. A workplace fish tank can offer something to take a break and watch, it's great for clients to look at, and can even bring a team together as they co-operate on chores and fish selection. Fish have been proven to relax you and a really well aquascaped tank can be a work of art.
19. Because you've been given gift vouchers
Much better than being bought something you don't want, a gift voucher for your favourite store is a great present. You could spend it on fish – or put it towards a new tank so you can keep even more fish! You just have to convince your other half!
20. Because fiskeeping is great!
Are you getting hassle about fishkeeping taking over your life and all your spare time? Try to convince the powers that be that at least you are home when you're fishkeeping and that there are far more things you could be spending your money on – like gambling or beer.
Aim to get the people around you more involved in the hobby so they can appreciate it too. If they really want fancy goldfish, but you keep endangered cichlids maybe you should give a tank to someone else in the house and let them keep what they want, too! That way everyone is happy...
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