Though it is possible to keep ocean fish inside your home or office if you have a saltwater tank, most people who set up aquariums will choose to have a freshwater tank. Freshwater tanks are easier to buy, set up, and maintain than saltwater tanks, so they're a great choice for the beginning fish owner. If you're just setting up your first freshwater aquarium, here are some of the things that you should consider.
The type of aquarium you buy for your home (the size, temperature, pH, etc.) will depend almost entirely on the type of fish you want to house in it, as each freshwater fish has different ideal conditions and needs. Some of the common types of fish people like to keep in freshwater aquariums include goldfish, tetras, catfish, silver dollars, cichlids, danios, guppies, fighting fish, loaches, and rainbow fish. Before you begin setting up your aquarium, research your fish's needs. Some fish can be put together in the same aquarium, others cannot.
The most important thing to remember when you're setting up a home for your fish is that the environment needs to be stable. If your fish has certain requirements regarding pH level or water temperature, you must monitor the tank carefully. If you get distracted for a few days, the altered state of the fish's environment could harm or even kill them. Therefore you should be wary of choosing a type of fish that isn't very hardy as your first fish. Goldfish are extremely hardy, which is why they're so often chosen.
When you go to buy the tank itself, you will have to choose between traditional glass and modern acrylic. Acrylic is more expensive and scratches easily, but it insulates better than glass and will not shatter if accidentally knocked off its perch. Always get the largest size that will fit in the room, because the more surface area there is the more oxygen will get into the water and the healthier your fish will be. An aerator or bubbler will help oxygenate the water by circulating it top to bottom.
You will also have to maintain the water's composition, temperature, and pH. To do so, you will need a thermometer, pH testing strips, drops to change the pH of the water, a filtration system, and a tank heater. If you are wondering if all this is really necessary when most department stores sell small bowls and fish, remember that the more effort you go to in creating the fish's environment, the better its chances of survival.