There’s nothing quite like seeing colorful fish swimming around in an aquarium. And If you’re looking for a unique way to incorporate nature in your home or apartment, in-home aquariums are something to consider. From where to get started to tank maintenance, we’ve curated a list of tips to help you wherever you are on your aquarium journey. So whether you’re interested in starting your first in-home aquarium or want to revamp your existing setup, read on for some home aquarium ideas that will help you create your dream tank.

Red fish in an in home aquarium

Where to begin with your in-home aquarium

Starting an in-home aquarium can be confusing. Where do you start? What materials do you need to create a happy home for your new fish? From the different fish, tank sizes, water, lights, and plants, here are some tips to help you get started.


“Use plants to purify the water for your fish. Have a soil underlayer, water hardness, decent lighting, and enough fast-growing plants,” says Diana Walstad, author of Ecology of the Planted Aquarium. “Take it easy on tank cleaning, as tank debris provides plant nutrients. Start small with a 5-10 gallon tank or bowl to gain experience and accumulate acclimated plants.” 

Windy City Aquarium’s advice is to be cautious of red aquatic plants. “If you are new to aquariums and intend to add live aquarium plants to your fish tank, don’t just buy the prettiest looking aquatic plants or only “red” aquatic plants. Make sure you research the plants to understand their lighting and care requirements before you buy them.”


“Water quality is a crucial element of any successful reef aquarium,” says ATI North America, an aquarium product company. “Placing your aquarium in close proximity to filtered water will make water changes a breeze. Better yet, use ATI Essentials Pro to ensure your water chemistry is always ideal for a reef tank.”

Glass Aquatics encourages us to look at salter and freshwater differences. “When choosing a freshwater aquarium or a saltwater aquarium, it is important to consider several factors. For example, consider where you will place the aquarium in your house, your budget to start this new hobby, and the regular maintenance needed to keep your aquarium inhabitants thriving.”


Fish Tank Focus suggests bringing Tetra fish into your tank. “Tetra fish are peaceful and easy to care for, making them an excellent choice for someone looking to set up their first tank. There are so many colorful varieties, you could select one that matches your décor. For example, a Rainbow Tetra would be perfect for a modern, brightly-colored home. An Emperor Tetra could add a bold touch against darker décor, or the understated Buenos Aires Tetra could be perfect for a minimalist, Scandinavian-style home.”

Family cleaning reef tank Getty

Keep your in-home aquarium simple

One thing you’ll want to remember while building your in-home aquarium is not to go overboard. The fish need plants, sculptures, and rocks, but adding too many items can make their home feel cramped. Here are some home aquarium ideas that keep it simple. 

Simplicity Aquatics recommends high-quality products. “While it is easy to be blinded by the latest and greatest, tried and true products that aren’t flashy are usually better. Simple products that meet your needs often save you headaches and heartache. Keep it Simple.”

“Get a large tank no one will miss, put the right equipment in from the start, and stock it with fish that get along; the tank will draw everyone’s attention,” says Oak Park Natural Pet & Fish. “Support the fish with nourishing food tailored to them, a natural-looking environment, and tank cleanings, and you will have a fun and rewarding experience.”

Tropical Fish Care Guides suggest starting with the basics. “When setting up your first in-home aquarium, many beginners like to complicate things. So, you’ll want to keep it simple at first. Here’s what I’d do for your first tank; Start with a 20-gallon tank, and add some gravel, guppies, a nice rock, or driftwood. Use a LED light, and set it on a timer for eight hours daily. Use low-light, water-column feeder plants like Java Fern, Anubias, and Bucephalandra.”

All you’ll need according to ONEdersave, a company that aims to create a clean ecosystem for your aquarium, is the basics. “Take a five-gallon clear water dispenser, one beautiful betta fish, a mini heater, one EcoBio-Stone Mini, an aquarium plant, and dechlorinated water. Cut a hole in the top of your water dispenser lid, add a basil plant, trim, so no leaves touch the water, and keep in a window with morning and indirect light.”

Modern Home Interior with aquarium

Create your aquarium as the focal point of your home

Adding an aquarium to your home will make it stand out. So, why not make it the focal point? Try matching your fish with your décor or select a luxurious tank. There’s no denying that an aquarium will upgrade your living space.

“To get the most out of your home aquarium design, here is a simple tip: look up online images that inspire you and highlight your favorite components, then build your tank around those designs,” says Pet Fish Plants. “This will create a custom look that appeals to you and the fish, while helping make every aquarium uniquely yours.”

Island Fish & Reef recommends using the aquarium to create the mood of your home. “An in-home aquarium should be the focal point of the primary gathering space within the home. Naturally inviting from afar, well-executed aquatic art will set the mood and tone through its built-in source of light texture and movement. When planning a home aquarium, consult local professionals who can offer more guidance in achieving your underwater ideals.”

“When considering the height of your custom aquarium, keep in mind that you want the top of the tank to be at or above eye level, or the tank will appear small,” says Blue Planet Aquarium. “Also, a good rule of thumb is that the material to make a glass or acrylic aquarium will increase by size when going over 36 inches in height to prevent bowing.”

Reef Tank Maintenance

How to keep up with your tank maintenance

Tank maintenance is a crucial step in creating a healthy environment for all that reside in your aquarium. Researching and taking the necessary steps will help prolong your aquarium and keep it clean.

When planning a DIY home aquarium, consider the natural habitat of the fish, plants, and coral you want to keep. Aquatics World suggests, “If you want to keep coral, ensure you provide the proper lighting and water flow for the coral to thrive. And if you would like to keep freshwater fish, replicate their natural habitat. You’ll want to use plants and rocks commonly found in that environment.”

“Research local service company prices if you won’t be servicing the tank yourself, and make sure to include that service cost in your budget when deciding on your dream aquarium,” says Aquarium Network. “Saltwater fish cost significantly more to maintain than freshwater fish, in both time and supplies. An expensive fish tank is just a box of dirty water without a proper maintenance schedule.”

Which fish tank suggests, “Some of my best tips for a new home aquarium are: to always test the aquarium water for the correct parameters before adding the fish; always trim dead pieces of live plants, so the live plants have a better chance of growing sooner; And buy the best lighting setup for the fish tank to make your tank stand out.”

“We highly recommend you take the time to learn about the nitrogen cycle in an aquarium to start a healthy tank,” suggests CerMedia LLC, an aquatic product company. “Allow the nitrogen cycle to become established before adding additional fish. Otherwise, you may lose them. When looking into filtration systems, look for filters with dedicated biofiltration sections, and choose high capacity biofilter media. This allows for more beneficial bacteria to grow, reduces tank maintenance, and provides extra protection in an emergency in the tank.”

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